Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Aetherna the "I Just Get These Headaches"

Both Larissa and Klepsacovic have pointed out that "Insane in the Membrane" is - despite what Blizzard said earlier this year - going away.

A commenter over at TRAOP indicates that you can't even grind Shen'dralar rep any longer, as the quests for libram turn-ins in Dire Maul have already gone away.

So I'm left wondering... do I keep on working towards "the Insane", and count on Blizzard to do something reasonable with regard to the Bloodsail/Shen'dralar reputations? Or do I sigh and go about my business elsewhere?

Decisions, decisions. By my reckoning, I can wait a few more days to see what Blizzard has to say about the matter before I have to decide whether or not I'm going to start slaughtering Booty Bay Bruisers.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where's the urban PvP?

I've been thinking about this a bit, and I'm wondering if an "urban" (or, rather, as urban as you can get in WoW) PvP setting wouldn't be a whole lot of fun.

Imagine a battleground set in a ruined elven or troll city. Lots of buildings with multiple floors, basements, entrances and exits, maybe even "secret" passages here and there. Roof accesses. Narrow alleyways. Twisting roads. Courtyards where LOS is broken up by statues and pillars. A joint Horde-Alliance archeological investigation into the ruins that went well, until there was an inevitable falling out... just before something went very wrong.

Now the opposing teams of investigators are trapped in the city with the creatures they've awakened. There are wandering elites who really don't care who you are, so long as you're edible. Creatures tough enough and nasty enough that having them pop up in the middle of a running battle with the opposing faction turns into a game of "who can flee fastest?"

Your goal is to rescue your investigative team, and prevent your opponent from rescuing their team. The various NPCs get assigned to random locations on the map - you need to seek out, find, and hold their location long enough for them to finish their work. Different NPCs on the team give different buffs when rescued - increased mobility, increased healing, increased resilience, increased stealth, etc. - but the buffs degrade over time from the start of the match, so your strategy will change depending on the order in which you find and rescue your NPCs.

Once you've rescued a minimum number of your team, you can start the extraction. Call in a zeppelin or airship, and begin ferrying your NPCs to safety, with honor for each one on board when time runs out. When that happens? Big Bad Thing Under The Ruins comes out and eats everybody's face. Or maybe just the elite mobs start swarming the rendezvous areas.

The scenario could be entirely different... I just think the idea of wandering through a ruined city, dodging monsters and hunting the enemy, would be an incredible amount of fun.

Meet... hmm.

Can't call him Binky, now, can I? But he's a beautiful Winterspring Frostsaber, and in keeping with the tradition established by Binky, he's a lovely violet... ish... color. Perfect for my mage, after all - that's the color associated with arcane magic and the Kirin Tor.

Pushing Aeth's Wintersaber Trainer rep to exalted was also enough to get her across the line to 35 Exalted Reputations. Five more, and she'll be able to refer to herself as Aetherna the Exalted.

I'm thinking about doing the Bloodsail grind now - not sure if I can complete it in a month, though. I recall seeing mention from a Blizzcon interview that the Bloodsail rep grind was going to be more difficult in Cataclysm... though it wasn't clear if they meant "Oh, yeah, the guards will now be 5 levels higher" or "Yeah, you're going to have to really work at this one now. Heh-heh-heh."

Hmm. Keepers of Time, Honor Hold, Lower City... those look like the quickest rep grinds for Aeth at the moment. Gah! My Zandalar Tribe rep isn't at 999/1000! Me and my reputation OCD both hope that I can get a few bijous to turn in to even that out... plenty to do, plenty to do. The only question is, with the end of the world coming, what should I do first?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lately it occurs to me...

... what a long, strange trip it's been.

Yesterday was a good day. A very good day. Squashed some bugs at work, had a great Bible study time at the local Veteran's Center with a group of really wonderful fellows. Afterwards, my wife and I managed to wrangle some date time. A late dinner together was followed by a trip to the bookstore, where I found Cryoburn (new Miles Vorkosigian novel), Fatal Error (new Repairman Jack novel), and Triumff (new Dan Abnett novel) all waiting for me.

And to top off the evening, just before bed, Aetherna managed to snag a Hallowed Helm :-)

Say hello to Binky!

Awwww, who's a cute widdle violet proto-drake? Why, you are! Yes you are!

And just to confirm... yes, after mounting up on Binky for the first time, Aeth did indeed learn the Mater Riding skill. Wonderful! That's 5k in gold that I can instead use towards Insane in the Membrane, now. Or whatever else takes my fancy in Cataclysm.

All in all, a good day :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Rolling, Rolling...

After a couple of days extra effort, Aeth is 5k into exalted with the Wintersaber Trainers. Doing this grind during Hallow's End has turned out to be perfect. I log in, trick-or-treat the innkeeper at Everlook (who seems to think I should be a leper gnome, for some reason), then run a couple of circuits in Winterspring to get about 1900 rep with the trainers before stopping off at the inn again for the next trick-or-treat. In between, I have enough time to port to Stormwind and run out to Goldshire to do the "Stop the Fires!" holiday daily, and of course, the dungeon finder makes it trivial to get into a group to kill the Headless Horseman.

Who is a far more satisfying boss than Coren Direbrew was. The mechanics and phases of the HH fight are still interesting - shorter, now that you have a bunch of tricked-out level 80's doing the fight, but still interesting. The horseman's banter with his head always makes me chuckle, too.

Managed to get Aether her Sinister Squashling yesterday, too. Now all that's left between her and Binky the violet proto-drake is a Hallowed Helm. Eleven more attempts from the HH, eleven more dailies, and who knows how many trick-or-treats left that she can accomplish... if she makes it through all that without getting a helm, I'll be very, very, very bummed.

Oh, and last bit of news: the last couple of days, I've been spending my time running around Winterspring and doing the HH with my Fire spec flag out and proudly flying. Fire is... well. "Fun" isn't quite the word or it. "Mind-bogglingly incredibly ecstatically destructively giggling maniacal fun" might cut it, though. Just two days, and I've been suitably and Pavlonianly trained. On getting a Hot Streak, I have to work to resist the muscle-memory that causes me to tab-target another mob and immediately turn them into a charred, smoking shell of their former selves.

I don't think I'll give up Arcane entirely - I'm far too comfortable there, and it's a perfect spec for Aeth when soloing older 5-mans - but I think I'll be spending more time playing a pyromaniac in the future.

Heh. Burny.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fortunately, I Roll Twenties

Spent the evening running circuits in Wintersrping, killing chimeras, bears, Winterfall furbolg and elite giants. Now Aeth's about halfway through honored with the Wintersaber Trainers - just a hair shy of 6k/12k.

In between runs, she worked on the last achievements she needed to obtain Hallowed Be Thy Name. She popped into various capital cities to trick-or-treat the innkeepers, helped save Goldshire from the Headless Horseman, and took a detour to the Scarlet Monastery to take on ol' HH himself in person. She also took the time to run out to Southshore and complete the Rotten Hallow quests from Sergeant Hartman. Which leaves her with just one achievement left standing between her and her violet proto-drake... Sinister Calling. All she needs to do is obtain a Hallowed Helm and a Sinister Squashling, and she'll be flying in style.

"But wait!" I hear my attentive readers (both of you) saying. "If I recall correctly, doesn't Aetherna already have a Hallowed Helm?"

Indeed, she does! It's sitting in her bags even as we speak.

It also, apparently, doesn't count.

I noticed this last night when I was looking over my Hallow's End achievements - I no longer had credit for acquiring my Hallowed Helm last year. I filed a ticket with a GM, and got a pretty quick response back. It seems that, as players could trade the Hallowed Helm among each other last year, Blizzard has decided that it should not count towards the Sinister Calling achievement. So they "fixed" this in the latest round of changes.

So... no Hallowed Helm credit from last year. Unless you got your Long Strange Trip achievement already, I guess. Sigh. Blizz giveth, and Blizz taketh away.

Which leaves Aeth's violet proto-drake (who, I will note, shall be named Binky) completely at the mercies of the RNG.

I'd complain - especially after going through the PvP insanity that Children's Week requires you to accomplish - but... sigh. It feels right, you know? Over two years worth of blood, sweat, and frustration, and it all comes down to some computer somewhere going "chugga-chugga-WHUMPH" and spitting out a number that will determine whether she wins or not.

If that's not a perfect description of World of Warcraft, I don't know what is.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Here, Kitty Kitty...

A weekend's worth of work running around Winterspring, and Aeth is now just past Honored with the Wintersaber Trainers. The grind itself is... obviously not what it once was. She ran for Frostsaber Provisions a half dozen times, which was enough to unlock the next repeatable quest, Winterfall Intrusion. Doing those two quest together takes about 20 minutes or so, and nets 500 reputation (550 for us humans - everybody loves us, baby!)

All that took around 4 hours of play time, give or take a bit. Now that she's at honored, she's opened up the Rampaging Giants repeatable quest as well. Doing all three will probably take a half hour or so, and net 850 (935) rep per circuit. That's a total of about... 35 circuits, or another 17 or 18 hours of grinding.

Yowch. Apparently, the quests used to reward only 50 rep each... which means that the current grind is about 5-6 times easier than it used to be. Thank you, Blizzard.

I'm glad that Blizzard has learned a bit from their previous expereinces. Killing the same mobs over and over for 20 hours isn't really challenging, or fun. Doing the Kalu'ak or Sons of Hodir dailies were, in comparison, at least a little challenging, and a lot more fun. They still required a time investment to complete, but at least you got to do a bunch of different things along the way.

Here's hoping that whatever rep grinds we see in Cataclysm are more interesting and fun than killing chimeras and wondering "Where's the beef?"

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Apparently, the Long, Strange Trip achievement will still award Master Flying.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh... bliss!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Overlooking the obvious

Finally reached 11999/12000 with Ravenholdt on Aetherna - and celebrated by actually going to visit Ravenholdt itself.

Thinking about what her next rep grind can/should be, I took a look at her reputations on the Armory... and there, sitting at the top of her rep list, is Wintersaber Trainers.

Hey, isn't Winterspring going to get revamped in Cataclysm? Uh-oh... By all reports, it looks like this will take about 25-30 hours of grinding to accomplish. Might as well just get 'er done, then.

In the meantime, I realized that there are a couple of daily quests in Outland that I could be doing to work on my Ogri'la rep. I was under the impression that the only quest you could do to raise Ogri'la rep was the incredibly annoying Relic Emanation quest. I completely missed out on the fact that Wrangle More Aether Rays! and Bomb Them Again! give Ogri'la reputation as well. So it looks like about a month or so of running errands for the ogres, and I should be able to get another faction to exalted, plus an achievement - since A Quest a Day Keeps the Ogres at Bay.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

My power level is OVER 9000!!!1!one!

Well, no, not quite. Under certain circumstances. Your mileage may vary. See rules for details and exclusions. Post no bills. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

And so on.

Rand a couple of LK 5-mans last night - Old Kingdom and Pit Of Saron. Old Kingdom went well enough, modulo a couple of flaky healers. What is it with healers "having to go" in the middle of fights? We muddled through, however, and with our third healer for the run, managed to down Herald Volazj. He went down quickly, with only one cast of Insanity.

During the run, I noticed that Aeth's go-to AoE - specifically, Blizzard - was, to be quite honest, stinking up the joint. Yes, in a dungeon filled with foul, rotting, undead insects, she stopped and sniffed and wondered if she had forgotten to put on deodorant that morning. It was that bad. Skada was telling me she was managing 2k-2.5k dps, when I'm used to seeing 4k or so.

As luck would have it, I ended up close to a pack of mobs at one point. Normally, I'd back off and Blizzard... but I recalled that I took the talent that reduces the threat from Arcane Explosion, and so decided to hop around like a mad hare and 'asplode the pack instead.

It chewed through my mana pretty quickly, but at the end of it all... 5k+ dps. Whoa.

On single-target dps, Aeth's numbers were through the roof. Remember - this was a LK 5-man, not a raid. Historically, I've been delighted if her single-target dps under these circumstances cracked 4k. Fully buffed, with Dalaran Brilliance (6% spell power now - ye-haw!) and Molten Armor up and Arcane Power rolling, she managed 7.5k+. Yes, nearly double what she had been previously capable of.


A couple of times, on a single-target pull, she actually managed to pull aggro off of the ICC-geared protection paladin that was tanking.

Yeah. Aeth. Pulled. Agrro. Off of a pally.

Which brings me to the next point.

It's pretty clear that paladin tanking has changed significantly.

I'm not talking about changes in the same range as "Oh, dear, I've lost access to Icy Veins".

I'm not even talking about changes of the same magnitude as "Wait, what's this Chakra thingy do? When should I use it?"

In 4.0.1, it looks like the changes to pally tanking fall into the "Well, the map says the city should be right here. Maybe it's on the other side of this smoking, fuming, derbis-strewn city-sized freaking crater?" category.

Srsly. The whole paladin tanking rotation has been put in the tub with the baby, tossed out the window, and slid under a convoy of busses. It's gone, man. What's in it's place is something not entirely different - you still hit things in the face with a pointy metal stick, after all - but it's still different. How different? Different enough, apparently, that someone used to 969 pally tanking is going to have to take some time to re-learn how to handle aggro using their new abilities.

So - please. This is a plea for a bit of enlightenment and tolerance. So, instead of whining and moaning about how the pally tank can't hold aggro...

No. You know what? Forget the enlightenment and tolerance, and just freaking SHUT UP.

Yeah, you. The one complaining about the pally tank? SHUT UP. He's had everything he knows yanked out from under him. He's knows how to tank, he knows what he needs to do, he just needs some time to figure out how all the new stuff works together and fits in. It may be a bit of a learning experience, so be prepared for that.

You dps - watch your aggro. The tank may do something he calls "marking" a target. It's a kind of esoteric little thing, but you may want to read up on it. I have a feeling you'll need it come Cata.

You healers - be aware that a fight may go on long enough that you actually have to heal. Healers and dps both may need to hold off on attacking/casting until (gasp!) the tank has actually built up some aggro. It's nuts, I know.

Here's a thought - ask if he wants you to use your CC. Dang! I should have offered that last night. See? Ripple effect... how he has to change his play style impacts how I play. It's a teamwork thing, you know.

With 4.0.1, everything's changed... but it's changed more for some people than others. Give them a break, bite your tongue, work with them to help them out. Relearn (or even learn!) skills that you haven't had to use in a while. Be aware that while changes in the game may not directly impact you, you may still have to switch things up in order to accommodate major changes in other aspects of the game.

Come December 7th, yeah, if that pally tank still stinks on toast, let 'em know. For now... just grin and bear it, and remember that if things had been a little different, you could have been the one trying to re-learn everything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

That's great, it starts with an earthquake...

Patch 4.01 dropped yesterday, and I logged in last night to earthquakes in Ironforge.

Oh, yeah.

This is going to be fun.

I spent the evening re-doing talents, re-learning skill, and fixing up action bars for Aetherna, Laenshield and Aeven - my trinity of dps, healer and tank. Then I went out and killed some random mobs in Dragonblight just to try and get a feel for the new abilities.

Confession time: I didn't do more than skim guides on the new talent trees, glyphs, gems, etc. I just waded in and picked whatever looked fun for talents, learned some new skills, and reforged a piece or two to get some mastery. Just enough to get up and running. I'll worry about making more optimal choices later, when it actually becomes apparent what those choices are. As I've been working on old world and BC-era reputations lately, being at the absolute peak of my game on any of my characters really isn't a primary worry.

Little or no change on Aeth - playing as an arcane mage is largely the same, modulo the mana conservation issues. Highlight of the evening was putting two points into the Nether Vortex talent. Automatically apply Slow when you hit a mob with an Arcane Blast? Yes, please! While Aeth has generally had two arcane specs - one for leveling/PvP, one for raiding - I'm thinking that now's a good time to branch out. Putting Icy Veins out of reach in the frost tree takes away the reason for the second raiding-specific spec, anyways. So she's going to go arcane/fire, and play around a bit with Blast Wave. Yum.

Laen and Aeven saw more major changes - lots of talent changes, lots of ability changes, and completely rearranged action bars as a result. Playing Laen as shadow seems relatively unchanged, but it looks like healing is going to be a slightly different game. On Aeven... oh, my.

On Aeven. Things are really different. Playing as protection feels much more reactive and less rotation-y. Playing as ret is going to require some getting used to - I must have been doing something wrong, because her damage output as ret was about 60% that of her damage output as prot. The Holy Power mechanic is going to take a little bit of getting used to, but overall, it looks like a win.

Reforging looks very interesting, and it adds another dimension to the gear game completely. Aside from talents, glyphs, gems, enchants... now you have another dimension to consider when you're trying to get your gear juuuuuust right. More importantly, it depends almost entirely on what other gear you have, because you can't get it exactly right - it's 40% of stat A into the same amount of stat B, apparently. So, for example, Aeth is currently sitting at something like 0.02% under the hit cap - but in return, she's got a bit of mastery on her gear now. Her next gear upgrade is going to require a re-evaluation of her reforging, though. Mmmm, I smell a reforging add-on coming in the wind...

UI changes, glyph changes, gem changes, guild tab changes, yadda, yadda, yadda. There's a metric ton of stuff to look at in this patch, and it will probably be a couple of weeks before it all settles down and I can get everything arranged to my satisfaction... just in time for Deathwing to rear his ugly head.

Bring it, Deathwing. Bring it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

56% Insane

Insane In the Membrane.

  • Exalted with Everlook - 100%
  • Exalted with Ratchet - 100%
  • Exalted with Booty Bay - 100%
  • Exalted with Gadgetzan - 100%
  • Exalted with Ravenholdt - 40% (3k/3k + 6k/6k + 8023/12k + 0/21k)
  • Exalted with Darkmoon Faire - 12% (3k/3k + 2060/6k + 0/12k + 0/21k)
  • Exalted with Shen'dralar - 2% (1100/3k + 0/6k + 0/12k + 0/21k) - 2 %
  • Honored with Bloodsail Buccaneers - 0% ( 17858 + 0/3k + 0/3k + 0/6k + 0/12k)
Ravenholdt and Darkmoon Faire will probably have to wait until I level my Worgen inscriptionist rogue. Looks like the next step may be to work on her Bloodsail reputation, especially since it looks like there will be quests in Cataclysm that may make regaining Steamwheedle Cartel reputation easier. There may also be quests that make gaining Shen'dralar rep a bit easier, too - we'll have to see how that goes. It would be nice to not have to turn in (as many) stacks of librams...


Wikipedia tells me that, depending on what time period you're talking about, a Roman Legion was made up of anywhere between 3200 and 4500 soldiers.

I bring this up because, apparently, that's roughly the number of Syndicate thugs I will need to kill to get Aetherna to revered with Raveholdt. Yeah, at 5 rep per, that's going to take a bit of time. Another hour or so of grinding in Dunholde last night along with another fellow working on The Insane got her to 8023/12000. Just another thousand or so murders and maybe they'll actually respect her a little bit!

All of which is kind of strange, now that I think about it. I've never been to Ravenholdt on any of my characters. Which means that, in a few days, a blood-spattered, glassy eyed mage is going to stumble in to Ravenholdt for the first time, professing her love for them, and bringing with her the record of the 3000+ murders she's performed to demonstrate her devotion. Big toes, I'd guess - for the record, ripping people apart with arcane energy doesn't leave much else to use when you want to ID them.

Getting to Revered with Ravenholdt really should have it's own achievement: "Stalkerific" - or maybe "Who Are You? How Did You Get In My House?"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Where's my "King" title?

1 Samuel 18:7 - "And the women answered [one another] as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

This came to me last night as I was killing Syndicate mobs in the ruins of Durnholde Keep. Turns out that this is a fantastic place to grind mobs for Ravenholdt rep - there's plenty of them, and by the time you've made a circuit of the entire place, the mobs you killed just a few minutes ago have already respawned, so it's just one big circle of reputation. Oh, ok, reputation and bloodshed. Sheesh. Half an hour saw Aetherna scrounge up about 3000 rep, at 5 per kill. That's about 600 mobs - only another 1200 to go to reach the brink of revered.

Anyways, the statistics tab on the Armory tells me that Aetherna has killed 101,129 creatures - and of those, 38,669 were humanoids of one form or another. I mean, she's killed her ten thousands. Srsly. Where's her kingdom, man? Where's her enthusiasts jumping and leaping and singing her praises? Nowhere to be found. Oh, sure, They Love Me In That Tunnel, but that and 25 copper will get you a Refreshing Spring Water, if you know what I mean.

Before killing innocent... um, assassins, Aetherna took a detour into Silithus to kill innocent scorpid. Because apparently, one scorpid in twenty or thereabouts has Glowing Scorpid Blood, which is prized by the Darkmoon Faire for... you know, I really don't know. I'm not sure that I want to know. Especially since all I do know is that the food vendors there seemed really really happy that I showed up with a couple of containers of apparently radioactive arthopod circulatory fluids.

Try the corn dogs, though. They rock.

Reputation tracking:
  • Darkmoon Faire - 2060/6000 (Friendly)
  • Ravenholdt - 86/6000 (Friendly)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Fifty Percent and Others

It's a slow week, obviously. Aside from , y'know, the impending end of the world and all that. Which, I have heard on good authority, is scheduled for December 7th.

I feel a sick day coming on. I'm future psychic that way.

Anyways - fifty percent. Another way of representing that value would be 6/12, which is how far along my guildmates managed to haul me when I went with them into a fresh ICC 10 instance. It was also the first time I've managed to get Ventrilo working on my laptop, so it was - all in all - a rather good experience. Schedule generally keeps me from being a regular raid participant, so it was nice to get the chance to kill some unbelievably huge, hulking abominations and rotting frost giants with them for a change.

Meanwhile, I've been running BC heroics with a couple of folks, trying to squeeze that sweet, sweet reputation out of them. Turns out that Shadow Labyrinth is nice and juicy, as is Shattered Halls. Just full of reputation-fortifing goodness! Current in-progress reputations are:

  • Darkmoon Faire - 657/6000 (Friendly)
  • Ravenholdt - 941/3000 (Neutral)
  • Ashen Verdict - 3998/6000 (Friendly)
  • Lower City - 6682/21000 (Revered)
  • Honor Hold - 12026/21000 (Revered)
  • Keepers of Time - 1864/21000 (Revered)
Yep... Darkmoon and Ravenholdt. I can get the first up to about 2000/6000 from repeatable quest turn-ins, apparently. For the second, I can kill about a thousand random Syndicate mobs to get to Revered. Yoi and double yoi!

Wait, wait... another future psychic vision is coming to me! This one is of Aetherna slaughtering her way through the Alterac mountains, with a periodic break to run Outland dungeons and, um, slaughter entirely different humanoids.