Wednesday, November 16, 2011


WoW insider has a breakfast topic up that asks, "How do you feel after spending time with archaeology?"

Me?  Frustrated.

The archaeology mini-game is... not a game, and not fun.  It's less interesting than fishing.  It's less interesting than rep grinds.  It's less interesting than farming heavy junk boxes in BRD.  I feel I can say all that with some authority, because while I have maxed my fishing skill, and done four dozen rep grinds of one sort or another, and I'm currently farming heavy junk boxes... I've done all of those in preference to leveling up archaeology.

Yes.  Going for Insane in the Membrane is more fun than archaeology.

So, all in all, I'd say that archaeology is a bust.

Here's the problem, as I see it - the whole archaeology profession is horked, in that there's no reasonable way to level it as you go.  Until you have access to a fast mount - and preferably a flying mount - it's painful.  Questing in the Blasted Lands?  Oh, look, there's a archaeology dig!  Three fragments later, it's gone, and while you'll be in the zone for the next hour or two, there's no more archaeology for you to do, period.  Unless you want to head off to another zone entirely, one that offers you no benefit other than happening to have the next closest archaeology zone to exploit.

I mean... come on.  My main is a mage with a 310% flying mount.  I can zoom around Azeroth and Outland like nobody's business, and it's still amazingly tedious to do archaeology.

So... Blizz, here you go.  Recommendations for how to make archaeology less of a soul-destroying grind.

Archaeology Nodes

Just like we have herb and mining nodes, we should have archaeology "nodes".  You can even make them small regions on the map to give the idea of "we're digging in this area".   Get rid of the survey skill, and just let us track and find mini-archaeology zones that respawn like other nodes.

In many regions, there should be mobs working in the area of the nodes as well.  Think of Ulduman.  You mean there's absolutely no archaeology to be done there?  No elite mobs roaming about that might have a some interesting archaeology fragments that might be interesting to look at?  Mobs in Night Elf ruins should have the opportunity to drop Night Elf fragments, mobs in Dwarven excavations should occasionally cough up Drawrven fragments, and so on.

Archaeology Clues

The whole "OK, you solved that, now you're working on X" thing in archaeology is bogus.  I want to be able to pick and choose what I'm interested in.  Mobs should have world drops added to them that are archaeology "clues".  These would be the equivalent of "This item begins a quest" drops... only they would indicate "This item begins an archaeology project".  Make some of them BoP, other bind on use, so they could be traded and sold - the archaeology equivalent of crafting patterns or recipes. 

One of the possible drops from archaeology nodes should be clues, along with fragments.  Higher level nodes would drop higher level clues, and you'd have to have a certain skill to start various projects from clues.  There would be archaeology quest givers scattered around the world that can give you access to well-defined "starter" clues at various levels.  All those Explorer's League and Reliquary representatives?  Yeah, an archaeologist of the appropriate skill should be able to visit them and see something like ", I recently came across this fascinating inscription, but I don't have time to pursue it right now... would you like to make a name for yourself?" type of quests.

Archaeology Quests

Let's face it.  We're adventurers.  While we might pretend to be former shop keepers who found their destiny out in the wilds, or druids dedicated to preserving the balance of nature, or paladins and priests serving the light... there's really only one thing that we all have in common, and that we all manage to do moderately well.

Kill things and loot the bodies.

Seriously.  Give us some archaeology quests!  Quests that reward clues and fragments instead of gold and greens.  Quests that let us play the part of Harrison Jones, and venture into ancient temples crawling with vicious beasts, deadly traps and bloodthirsty foes.  Quests that make us start humming "Da da da daaaaa, dum da daaaaa!" as we mow down waves of minions before driving a stake through the Surprisingly Spry Ancient Evil, all so we can pry that precious fragment of parchment from it's withered claws.

Nodes, clues and quests.  Get with it, Blizzard.  No need to hurry, though.  I've still got something like 1100 heavy junk boxes to farm up.  You know, since there's nothing more interesting to do at the moment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Farming Heavy Junkboxes

Move.  Pick pocket.  Move.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

So... what do you do to kill time while you're waiting for 4.3 to show up on the doorstep?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Month of Nothing

Well, not really.  There's been a lot going on, just... not a lot in WoW.  I mean, sure, there's Pandas coming.  And a complete talent revamp.  Oh, and a bunch of new dungeons in 4.3 and the Darkmoon Fair and Deathwing and new holiday quests and monks and dragons and time travel and...

*Cough*.  Ahem.

Ok, yeah, there's actually a lot going on.  Just not a lot in game right now, at least for me.  The future is certainly looking bright, though.

I did manage to have some of the most fun I've ever had raiding doing 10-man Atramedes with my guild on Kirin Tor.  That was a frantic, frenetic, chaotic fight - especially as an arcane mage - and a I loved every single second of it.  I think I may end up enjoying the "Looking For Raid" tool... we'll see.

I've been thinking about leveling another 'toon on Scarlet Crusade as well.  Maybe.  I suspect my wife would roll her eyes at me if I did, and I'm not quite sure I'm willing to risk that. I've also been experiencing some vague "hey, wait - wasn't I working on that achievement?" feelings on Aeth, so I've started banging around Azeroth again, trying to knock out a few things here and there.

Mostly, though, I've got the feeling of killing time.  I don't really want to run troll heroics, I'm not particularly interested in leveling Aeven to 85 so I can tank, and dailies are are grind that I really only wanted to do once, on Aeth.  I'm biding my time, enjoying dinking around with this, that or the other things, and generally just enjoying myself until teh internet dragon!!111!!eleventy!! shows up.

Quick summary of my reactions to recent news, though:
  • Holiday updates : Very nice - love my luggage^H^H^H^H^H^H^H creepy crate :-)
  • 4.3 Dungeons : Oh, yeah!
  • 4.3 Raids : Yowza!
  • Darkmoon Fair : Why, yes, thank you!
  • Pandas : WOOO-HOO!
  • Pandaria : Awesome!
  • Monks : Yeah baby!
  • Diablo Bonus : Scha-WEET!
  • Talent Revamp : Nice!

All you Panda haters can take a flying leap.  I'm thinking that MoP is going to be a heck of a lot of fun.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

Having done the Coren Direbrew event on several characters over the past few days, I've got a serious question.

What's up with bear tanks?

It seems like every bear tank I've had in the past few days has exhibited the characteristics of a kid with ADHD in a store full of teh shinies.  While I expect a tank to move a bit, these guys have bounced around the room like a superball.

One bear tank bounced from the front wall, to the center of the room, to the back wall, and then back again.  That was the most extreme case, but every other bear seemed to move juuuuuust far enough every 4-5 seconds to take Tal out of melee range, or drag Corn on top of Aeth, or just move because... well, I dunno.  They didn't like the view?

Seriously.  Is this a change in the tanking style/ability for bears, or have I just encountered a cluster of jittery caffeine addicts?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Public Service Announcement

To those who may be interested in doing the Coren Direbrew event this Brewfest, here's a few things you should know.

First off - you can run the event more than once a day.  Really! Just use the dungeon finder, and keep queueing for the Coren Direbrew event.  In fact, if you just stay in your group after he's killed, there's a pretty good chance that whoever is the group leader will re-queue the entire group for another shot at Coren.

On Aeth last night, I helped kill Coren about 15 times in 15 minutes.  We'd queue, enter the instance, start the event, spend 30 seconds or so turning him into a rapidly cooling corpse, and then loot his body.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Poor guy.

The reason for this behavior is that Coren Direbrew is a loot piñata.

You see, the first time a character kills him on any given day, they will receive a soulbound Keg-Shaped Treasure Chest.  This chest is a weird Dwarven goodie bag that may contain one of a number of rare and wonderful items.

Every time you kill Coren, though, he will drop a trinket.  Absolutely, positively, guar-an-teed.  These trinkets follow the usual dungeon finder loot roll rules: need before greed.  There's the added factor that the trinkets are unique, so if you already have one, you won't be able to roll on it if it drops again.

Following me so far?  Coren Direbrew is easy to kill, and every time you kill him, he will drop one of six trinkets.  So it's very, very easy in the space of a short time to see multiple drops of every possible trinket type.

Seriously.  During Brefest last year, Aeth saw enough Chromium Coasters that she could have started her own bar supply house.

Now, four of these trinkets are clearly intended for certain roles.  There's a caster DPS trinket, a melee DPS trinket, a healer's trinket, and a tanking trinket.

Common courtesy and decorum would indicate that you only roll "need" on these items if (a) you can actually use them, and (b) you will use them (i.e., the trinket is an upgrade for you).  If you don't meet these criteria - if you're just interested in vendoring the trinket for cash, or if you're collecting the set or something like that - you should be rolling "greed".

"But you said there were six trinkets," you say.  "Pray tell, what of these last two trinkets?  What spec are they intended for?"

I'm glad you asked that, as that's the whole point of this PSA.

The last two trinkets are perfectly suitable for any character.


Any.  Character.

Take a look at the two remaining trinkets - the Bitterer Balebrew Charm and the Bubblier Brightbrew Charm.  Do you see what the stats on them are?

Say it with me: "+510 stamina".

Whoo!  What character couldn't use a little more stamina?  Especially a melee DPS class!  Depending on your class and gear, just one of these trinkets could be a 5%-7% increase in your total health.  Nice! There's an on-use effect as well that results in a minor healing or DPS buff, depending on which trinket you're using.

So... you're a freshly dinged level 85 character.  You've got a green ilvl 320-somthing Useless Trinket Of Uselessness still equipped from that one quest in Uldum (you know, the one that had the cut scene in it).  You're looking at starting to run Molten Front and Tol Barad and the Twilight Highland PvP-ish dailies.

Look me in the eye and tell me that this trinket isn't an upgrade for you.

So, yeah.  If you can use the trinket, and you will use the trinket, you're entirely justified in rolling "need" on it.

Be warned, though.  There are certain unenlightened individuals in the game who may look at these trinkets, see that they're dripping with stamina, and think "Oh, these are special trinkets.  For the right type of people."

These individuals will tend to get into a high dudgeon if you actually roll "need" on one of these trinkets. If you do so, and are lucky enough to win said trinket, it is almost inevitable that a moment of silence will descend upon the group.  Eyes will turn towards you, and eventually, someone will speak...

"Why," the undead rogue will whine breathlessly, "did you roll need on a tanking trinket?"

At which point you may direct him to this PSA, that he may become enlightened.

His eyes opened, he may come to realize that there are situations when all classes and specs might enjoy a little more stamina.  Perhaps he may even be inclined to take the time to examine the tanking model in Cataclysm, wherein stacking stamina is not quite as important to a tank as it was in Wrath.  Or he may see that even if you did win the trinket, well, there's nothing preventing him from getting his own with just a modicum of extra effort.

Or, if you are like me, you can just boggle that anyone would be stupid enough to ask an enhancement shaman why they might want more stamina.

It boggles the mind, really.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I can't believe that I've been wandering around a bit on Tal, looking at gearing options... only to just realize today that it's Brefest, and I haven't yet killed Coren Direbrew even once.

Bad cow!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Back From Vacation

... just in time for the latest news about patch 4.3.

Which looks like it's going to be freaking amazing.

Travelling through the Caverns of Time into the future to see what it will look like if Deathwing wins?

Fighting Deathwing on the fly over Azeroth, prying off his plate armor and trying to kill him before he destroys the world?


Here's a thought for ya, Blizzard: the chances of me being able to participate in a server first kill of Deathwing?  Zero.  The chances of me being able to participate in a world-first kill of Deathwing?  Even less than zero.

So... how about giving me a mechanic that lets me contribute, however indirectly?

Imagine this...

The flow of time.  It's a nebulous thing, isn't it?  We're going into the past, into the future, trying to foil Deathwing and save Azeroth.  All of us, together.  Bands of heroes from all walks of life, Alliance and Horde together, struggling to save the world.

One timeline at a time.

Give us 5-man people something to contribute, Blizz.  Make doing the 5-man dungeons in 4.3 have some effect on the fight with Deathwing.

Something like the opening of the Ahn'Qiraj gates.

Every successful 5-man run of a 5-man COT Deathwing dungeon on heroic mode, say, changes one timeline... and makes the defeat of Deathwing a little more certain.  One dungeon might give a slight damage buff.  Another might give a slight defensive buff.  Put a cap on the upper limit of the buffs (say, 10% or 15%), make them increase very slowly (there's a lot of timelines, after all), and make accepting and using the buffs optional for the Deathwing raids.

Every time I run a 5-man, then?  I'm making the defeat of Deathwing slightly more certain.  One more timeline brought into alignment with the Way Things Should Be.  One more chance for Deathwing to win snuffed out.  We still have to defeat him, but it's just slightly more certain, now...

Let me have a hand in saving the world this time, Blizz.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eighty Five, Redux

Pushing through the Twilight Highlands last night, Tal finally hit level 85. If it seems like that took a while - well, it did. Real Life (TM) including kids starting school, some personal affairs and a new car, required enough attention that my playing time over the past few weeks has been limited.

What time I did spend in Azeroth was also spent leveling Tal's first crafting skill. Once he hit level 84, I took one last spin around Uldum to say goodbye to all the mining nodes, then dropped mining as a skill and took up alchemy. That leaves Tal as a pretty self-sufficient herbalist/alchemist.

Leveling alchemy to 525 took about 3 hours over a couple of days, and overall, ended up costing about 3,500 gold - more or less as expected. There were a couple of points during the leveling process where I had to take a break and visit areas to pick my own herbs, because they were either unavailable on the AH or only available in small quantities for grossly inflated prices.

I mean... I had to go out and run around Kalmidor looking for silverleaf. Silverleaf! One of the most basic herbs in the game, and there wasn't a hint of it on the AH - at least, not during the 3-4 days I was checking and trying to build up some stock for leveling alchemy. I found as much peacebloom as I needed (or could even carry) on the AH, but not a hint of silverleaf. Strange. Definitely put a crimp in my initial foray into alchemy, though!

Once I got past that hurdle, I eventually ran into a similar issue with goldthorn. Aside from that, though, I either had the herbs on hand, or readily available from the AH at a reasonable price. At that point, it was just a matter of making sure I had a few hundred crystal vials on hand and easy access to the alchemy trainer.

At the moment, Tal doesn't have any alchemy specialization - I'm considering going for Elixir Master, but we'll see. I'm just happy to be able to craft my own Flask of the Winds now. Having a bunch of +hit and other useful flasks/potions on hand is an extra bonus.

Now starts the task of preparing to run some dungeons. I've reforged Tal's primary gear set for hit and expertise, so he's at least starting to look prepared as an Enhancement shaman. It looks like I'm going to have to go back and redo his primary talent tree a bit as well, to dip further into the Elemental tree and pick up some of the hit- and damage- enhancing talents in the early tiers.

Once that's done, I'm going to have to spend some time looking at his Restoration spec as well - yes, I've been collecting a secondary gear set and the glyphs I would want to use if Tal's even called upon to heal. I'm not sure how well a Wrath-trained discipline priest player will do healing in Cataclysm on a shaman, but hey - I'm willing to give it a shot!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cookin' Dinner

Took a short break from leveling Tal last night to work on his cooking.

My last burst of cooking enthusiasm took him up to about 375 skill, where there's a pretty nasty little doldrum in skill increases. Basically, your choice is to either (a) do the Dalaran cooking dailies in order to earn enough Dalran Cooking Awards to get a cooking recipe that uses something other than fish, or (b) spend some time fishing in Northrend.

Going to Dalaran... well, involves going to Dalaran. Every. Day. No thank you! I suppose that with a little bit of foresight, I could have done the cooking dailies there while I was in Northrend, but honestly - I was too busy plowing through content to make that work. I mean... was I in Northrend long enough to do the dailies I would have needed? I'm not even sure of that.

So, I spent some time on the AH in Orgrimmar, looking for the rare posting of Borean Man O'War or Imperial Manta Ray. In the meantime, I did the Cataclysm cooking dailies, which was enough to get me a few points in cooking here and there, along with the Cooking Awards that I'd (eventually) use for higher-level recipes.

Last night, I realized that meant it would be about a week, at best, before I was able to make any more progress on cooking. Since I'm hoping to start running dungeons once Tal hits 85, I wanted to make sure that I could at least whomp up some +hit or +agi food when that time came. So... I took a detour to the Borean Tundra, and Tal, with his massive 7 fishing skill and cheap little kid's fishing pole, went looking for fish.

That's actually not as bad as it sounds. Since fishing from pools now guarantees you a catch of a specific type of fish (as opposed to random junk), it was just a matter of making 2-3 passes along the Borean coast, looking for pools along the way. I ended up fishing enough to get a stack of Man O'War, two stacks of Manta, and a handful of fishing achievements to boot. All in all, it took about an hour.

At that point, I had enough fish in hand to cook up a couple of stacks of food, which pushed Tal's skill up to 415, and the out of the cooking doldrum. A quick trip to a vendor and the trainer in Dalaran gave him the mats and skill to brew up Darkbrew Lager, which took him to ~430. At that point, he was able to learn how to make Blackened Surprise. Since I'd been saving the Toughened Flesh I gathered while questing in Cataclysm zones, I already had a stack of meat that I was able to use to get him up to 450 skill.

As I had been doing the Orgrimmar cooking dailies for a while, I had a nice stash of cooking awards - 12, in fact - that I could use to get the recipes I needed for the final push. Since I was really interested in getting to 450, and didn't much care how I got there, I scoped out the AH and saw which mats would be the cheapest to buy in bulk for purposes of levelign before I bought my recipes.

On my server, it turned out that Snake Eyes, Blood Shrimp and Dragon Flanks were particularly cheap, so I bought a stack or so of each raw material. Total cost, less than 500 gold. A quick trip to the trainer in Orgrimmar, a hastily assembled cooking fire, and Tal ended up with a bunch of Salted Eyes, Hearty Seafood Soup and Grilled Dragon... and cooking skill maxed out at 525. Woot!

To celebrate, Tal blew his last 3 cooking awards on the recipe for Skewered Eel, sprung for a stack of Fathom Eel, and cooked himself up a stack of +90 agi food. Mmmmm mmmm good!

So now he's halfway to level 84, with a bag full of food he can use for +60 mastery, +60 strength, +90 hit or +90 agi, as circumstances warrant. Which kicks the snot out of the +30 haste food he had been choking down. He may not be Ready For Raiding just yet, but he's at least prepared to wander into a regular Cataclysm dungeon and whomp some sense into a death cultist or too.

Onward - through culinary science!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eighty One

Made level 81 on Tal after 5 days, 9 hours, 7 minutes, and 12 seconds played.

Total gold earned (most of it from selling materials on the auction house) - in the general region of about 14,500. Both professions (mining and herbalism) are above 500, well before Tal's hit any areas where he'd need to have his skills that high level to gather herbs or ore. Nice!

When Tal dinged 80, his average iLevel was about 161. The first Cataclysm mobs he had to deal with felt like they were somewhere in between a tough Wrath mob and a weak Wrath elite mob. I could take on one fairly easily, two if I was able to plop down totems and blow through cooldowns.

By the time he hit 81, the quest rewards from Mount Hyjal had pushed his average iLevel to 238. The only items of his that I haven't been able to replace with Cataclysm gear are his trinkets and his belt. Quest mobs were still on the somewhat tough side, but with totems down and cooldowns ready, they went down readily enough. Handling 3-4 at a time was a challenge instead of a death sentence.

Attack power? Went from the vicinity of ~1380 to 3153. Yowza.

Off to finish Hyjal now...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Waiting Stinks

"Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive ...

"I am Murgen, Standardbearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead, One–Eye won’t, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the Shadowlanders to force our present predicament to its inevitable end..."
Grrr... I wants me A Pitiless Rain, I does. My precious. If you've never read any of Cook's Black Company books, go ahead. Seriously, I'll wait. I spent a good bit of time in Icecrown thinking about the Limper and the Hanged Man, and flinching every time a geist bounded towards me.

Part of me wants to see Suvrin as Captain, part of me wants to see Sleepy again. Since I can't get my favorite mercenary fix, though, I need something else to do. So I want to hit level 80 on Tal tonight. I'm close - just dinged 79 last night, in fact - and I've been managing about a level a night for the past week or so... so it's definitely doable.

In terms of cash flow, I have to say that dual mining/herbalism rocks. I've managed to buy riding skills just short of Master Riding (~5000 gold), a double handlful of glyphs (~2000 gold), enough raw materials to level cooking to ~ 385, and I still have ~4500 gold on hand. Not bad at all. Maybe I'll spring for Master Riding after all.

I'm going to push for 80 in Icecrown - there's still plenty of quests to do in Sholazar Basin and The Sotrm Peaks, but they're all (so far, at least) things I've seen before. I want to see what the assault on ICC looks like from the Horde side before I wave goodbye and head for Hyjal.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Random Thoughts are Random

It's been a week since I've done the Firelands quests on Aeth. Leveling Tal is so much more fun, really. At least when I play him, 1/4 of what I see (quests, story elements, etc.) is at least somewhat new. As opposed to getting the next 25-30 Marks, which involves doing the same thing I've done for the last 2 weeks straight... ugh.

Hey, Blizz? How about daily quest chains that build on one another and expire? Day 1 - do quests A, B, C. Day 2 - oh, look, now you've got A, B, C, D. Add a new daily quest every day, until you get to a certain point... then you continue to add quests, dropping others. So on day 7, you might have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I. On day 8, quests A, B, C are "done" - so they drop off, but that's no problem, since there's a new quest giver with quests J, K, L.

Make it a story, man. Extra special bonus points if doing different combinations of dailies unlocks other quests, daily or otherwise. Doing a "gather the herbs" daily 7 times might unlock a "gather additional materials for a potion" questline that in turn unlocks a "deliver the potion" daily quest... but "gather the herbs" might be exclusive with "gather the ores", which unlocks a different questline and different dailies at the end.

tl;dr - Hey, Blizz? Make dailies more interesting, plz? kthxbye!

Tal is 3-4 quests from level 74. Questing in Northrend without heirloom gear and a high-level guild to give me that bonus 50-60% experience? Ouch.

Artisan riding is, indeed, worth it. If you can't manage to scrape up 5K gold by the time you hit the mid-70's, then you've got some serious cash-flow problems. Stop buying those Mysterious Fortune Cards, m'kay?

Leveling cooking, without leveling fishing, apparently runs smack-dab into some sort of doldrums in the 295-300 range. I spent an evening on Tal running around trying to pick up the recipes and mats that I'd need to get his cooking up to BC levels, only to top out at 295/300. Really, Blizz? Sheesh...

For your entertainment: a cow riding a horse!

Took this while Tal was doing Fresh Remounts in Dragonblight. The fact that he didn't move properly with the horse really annoyed my wife. She likes a reasonable level of realism in her anthropomorphic cows.

Also, two dancing spirit wolves:

That's Tal, in the background, dancing with Nelha, a Draeni Shaman. We ended up running through the Obsidian Shire quests in Dragonblight pretty much simultaneously, so we were helping each other out along the way. I'd go down the left side of a hallway, she'd go down the right side, and we'd slaughter anything that got in our way, lending a hand where needed. Run back to the quest giver, lather, rinse, repeat.

Solidarity, my shaman sister! Solidarity!

Monday, August 8, 2011

First Rule of Adventuring

"Remember to not die."

Halfway there!

I managed to get Talaesin to level 70 over the weekend. In my mind, that's halfway to level 85 - I've made it through the Old Wolrd and Outland content, which leaves two expansions (Wrath and Cataclysm) to wade through to level 85. Time-wise, I think the split is more like 60-40 or maybe even 70-30, but those early levels come fast, so we'll just say it's halfway and be done with it.

Spent a chunk of change on cold weather flying, which left Tal with about 4,600 gold... not quite enough for artisan riding, but very close. Given the overall usefulness of a 280% speed flying mount for leveling, I'm going to be plunking down the cash for this as soon as I can justify it (that is, as soon as I can ensure I'll have ~1k cash on hand after the purchase). He's currently revered with Orgrimmar, so that should mean having to get to 5500 gold or thereabouts.

I've actually slowed down a bit now that I've hit the Borean Tundra. Leveling through Outland was a "Meh" experience - I've been there, done that, many times over, and there really wasn't anything new for me to see. Getting into the Wrath zones, though, I'm starting to see different story lines. Oh, there's still some overlap - the Tuskarr quests, for example - but there's more than enough that's different as a Horde player that I want to get a feel for the story line.

And I'm enjoying the story line.

The atmosphere and events around Warsong Hold are excellent. The overall feeling is one of having stepped into the midst of a gothic horror story. The Scourge are literally on the doorstep, and they're not just interested in killing the defenders, but converting them. There are fields of wriggling pupae that used to be Tauren and Orcs, strange mists off of the sea hiding the threat of the Kvaldir, and even the local farm animals have been poisoned or converted into scourge minions.

Overall, it's a pretty eerie setting. As a player, you get dumped into the midst of it all, and contribute to... well, not so much winning, but holding back the Scourge. There's a feeling that everything you've accomplished isn't really a victory. You may have managed to stem the tide for now, but off in the distance, you can definitely see that there's a storm brewing.

I ended up the evening at Taunka'le, getting to know my Northrend cow-brethren. Again, while there's some overlap in the quest lines, there are instances where it's interesting to see the story and how it accounts for "Well, yeah, we're going to have the Alliance and the Horde do the same thing here... but the motivations are different."

I'll admit to a little bit of annoyance at this, though not for the reason you'd expect. Game-wise, I see the value in being able to re-use quests and other game assets. Lore-wise... well, you'd think that sooner or later, the Horde and Alliance leaders would realize that there's actually quite a few points of agreement between the two factions. Something like, "Nine out of ten Horde and Alliance heroes agree: undead elemental death cultists are bad for children and other living things." Start a public awareness campaign, or something. Maybe get Abesik Kampfire to do a PR tour. He'd probably go for it; I hear he's campaigning for War Chief anyways. Given what I've seen of Garrosh, he's got my vote already.

Then again, that "we're not so different, really" realization just doesn't seem to happen in Real Life (TM), either. So, hey - kudos to Blizzard for managing to make a world full of wizards, dragons and heroes that's still as messed up as we are. I guess.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Resounding Response

Unless you've been living under a rock (and, face it - if you're reading this blow for WoW news, you probably are living under a rock), you've probably heard that Blizzard registered a trademark for the name "Mists of Pandaria". This has, in turn, lead to a whole lot of speculation about whether this is the name of the next major release for the game. If so, it seems to indicate that players will get a chance to learn more about the heretofore elusive panda-like race, the Pandaren.

The community reaction to this has been... mixed, and strongly so. Some people love the idea of the Pandaren. Others take exception to their presence in-game, claiming that they're really nothing more than an April Fool's day joke that's got more legs than most. Overall, it's been a resounding response, both for and against.

What do I think?

It's fine.

Keep in mind, I was not a Warcraft player - so my totality of involvement with the "lore" of WoW is from WoW. I have no experience with the Pandaren, other than the one or two in-game quests and items that seem to reference them. If Blizzard does introduce a Pandaren expansion, I'm going to experience it without a whole lot of preconceived notions.

Very much like the Gilneans, for example. Or the Tuskarr. Or Ramkahen, Or... well, frankly, everything in WoW up to this point. Before I started playing, I had no idea what Night Elves were, how they differed from other elves, or how they were related to Naga. I had no concept of loa-worshiping Trolls who once ruled a massive empire, or anthropomorphic cows who travelled the world, finding interesting examples of life and eating it. I had no idea what a furbolg or a murloc or an arrakoa was, or any of another million little things that make up the World of Warcraft.

What I have read of them makes them seem like an interesting addition to WoW lore. The idea of exploring a new civilization, a new culture, a new part of the world is exciting and intriguing. If it's fun, if it's interesting, if it's entertaining, then really - I don't care where the Pandaren came from. If they started out as a joke and have grown beyond that, great! If they were always intended to be part of the story of the game, fantastic!

Though you'd better not make Pandaren a playable race before the Tuskarr, Blizz. You do that and it's on.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

You Are Now Leaving Zangarmarsh

This is why I don't read quest text as much as I used to. After I got through Stealing Back the Mushrooms, Watcher Leesa'oh told me...

These are perfect! Oh, thank you, shaman!

You've been ever so careful not to disturb the natural order of things, and we've gathered so much information in such a short amount of time!

Did you catch that?

You've been ever so careful not to disturb the natural order of things.



I take it you didn't notice those few hundred dead critters? The heaping mounds of dead sporebats, marshfangs, marsh walkers, and giant fireflies?


You mean you overlooked the the corpses of the fallen bog lords, fungal giants, marsh hydras, and eels that kind of, you know, followed me about the zone?


Nothing to say about the scores of frenzies, clackers, feralfen, naga, and the occasional Alliance soldier that turned up dead in my wake, just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the right time?


What about the literal heaps of ore I've managed to rip out of the ground, or the baskets full of herbs that I've managed to exploit... er, I mean, rescue from this pristine wilderness?


You've been ever so careful not to disturb the natural order of things.

So... what have we learned here?

As for me, what I've learned from this experience is that the Cenarion Circle are a bunch of bloodthirsty, vindictive, heartless, indiscriminate killers who apparently think that killing something - anything - is one of the best ways to solve ecological problems. Oh, and apparently, they're either in complete denial over this, or they just lie throught their teeth about their motives.

Mind you, they pay well, so please don't look at this as a criticism, per se. More of a general observation, in a "know your employer" sort of way.

And that's the best possibility. Worst case, they're a bunch of clueless bumblers who have all the situational awareness of a dead rock. Given a flashlight and a map, they would very likely get lost while trying to locate their own posterior. The chances of them, and everyone around them, winding up dead in a ditch because they thought it would be a good idea to hand-feed poor starving velociraptors rapidly approaches unity as time goes by.

So, that's why I left Zangarmarsh. I've either been working for heartless amoral killers who - lets be honest - were probably getting ready to dispose of me, now that they've managed to use me to slaughter every creature within sight; or I've been working for some clueless drips who will, 100% guaranteed, ask me to do something incredibly stupid and deadly at any moment.

See ya! I hear Hemet Nesingwary is hanging out in Nagrand. Fun man, Hemet.

And at least he's honest about wanting to kill everything that moves.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Doldrums

Not posting as much as... well, as ever. It's hot out, man. Between work, family, and just general life, there's not a whole lot of energy left at the end of the day. Given a limited amount of energy, and a choice between playing WoW, and writing about WoW, which one do you think wins out?


Tal hit 60 last night in Hellfire Peninsula. After buying expert riding, his flying mount, and paying for his old-world pilot's license, he was still sitting pretty with 2000 gold in the bank.

Not bad at all!

A friend from work who's a new player asked me how I leveled so fast... I told 'em "If it moves, kill it. When it stops moving, loot it." Well, that, and quests. Quests are definitely key.

Word of advice to any new WoW players, or someone starting anew on a new realm: take two gathering professions, and learn to use the auction house. Between what you farm up while leveling, and the cloth and other items you accumulate, you're sitting on a gold mine. Using the AH lets you have the cash flow you need to keep you funded for the glyphs, enchants, potions, training, and all the other cash sinks you're going to encounter as you level.

I use Auctionator to make buying and selling easier. On the buying side, it makes it easy to identify good deals - excellent for leveling a profession, when you want to find the cheapest stack of ore or herbs without having to wade through all the regular AH listings. On the selling side, I generally set my undercut to about 10%, and just post things for whatever Auctionator says, so long as it looks reasonable. I'd rather sell quickly and make a profit than have to take time away from leveling to manage my auctions.

Over at Kirin Tor, I've been using Auctionator to slowly buy up briarthorn and other herbs that Aretae can use to make Rogues Decks for Aetherna. When Tal hits 80 or so, I'll start using it to buy up stocks of low-level herbs so he can drop mining and start leveling alchemy. On Laenson, my Ironforge bank alt, Auctionator lets him easily manage the sale of stacks of "meh, can't use it, sell it" items that all the rest of my KT toons generate.

TL;DR - learn to use the AH, and get Auctionator, 'cause that add-on makes it easy.

In other news, Aeth is slowly working her way through the Firelands dailies. A couple more days, and she should have her 150 marks of the world tree, which will let her unlock the next stage of dailies. Meanwhile Aretae is thinking that maybe, just maybe, traipsing through BRD to gather junk boxes might be more entertaining than picking yet another stack of whiptail in Uldum...

Friday, July 8, 2011

As Collectors Everywhere Rejoice...

The WoW Armory now includes information on pets and mounts - both those your character has already collected, and those they have yet to collect. Filterable by source (quest, drop, etc.) as well, to make it easier to figure out how you're going to get that last few mounts for your Mountain o' Mounts achievement.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

34 Hours

That's how long it's taken Talaesin to get to level 41. That's about 50 minutes per level... probably less, actually, if you exclude time on taxis, time spent AFK or in the auction house, and so on. Including things like alt-tabbing into a browser to write a quick blog post about how quickly you're leveling.

All in all, it's probably more like 40 minutes of playing time per level.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Different Attitude

A couple of notes about playing Horde for the first time.

The Goblin NPC emotes? Priceless.
"Security, enforcement, extortion, pool cleaning? We do it all."
I chuckle every time I hear that.

I'm also enjoying the snark from many of the quest givers. Not all of them - the Blood Elves and Tauren quest givers seem downright polite. The Orcs and Goblins, on the other hand?
"Welcome, shaman. We sent word to the War Chief weeks ago that we would need a stalwart and brave hero to assist us in our tasks. I guess we'll just have to make do with you."
Then, after killing about fifteen gajillion Burning Cultists and collecting their gizzards, banishing a demon, and single-handledly routing an Alliance invasion, you'll get something like...
"Oh, you again? I see you managed to keep from impaling yourself on a rusty butter knife."
Snark. It's what's for breakfast, apparently.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Achieving the Impossible

When I started leveling Tal, I thought for a moment about trying to get him all the way to level 85 without dying. That thought lasted until I got to Orgrimmar, wandered around a bit, and said, "Oh, hey, there's Gammon!"

A stray click later, and my thoughts of making it to 85 without dying were shown to be... somewhat overly ambitious.

Which led me to think, "Oh, wow. Too bad. They should add an achievement for making it to 85 without dying!"

... which, in turn, led me to think, "Hmm. Are there any achievement - aside from feats of strength - that you can lock yourself out of completing?"

An achievement for hitting 85 without dying would meet this criteria. Run into Hogger? Smish! No way possible to get that particular achievement. Another example would be a "run dungeon X at less than level Y". Which would be an interesting indication that you've done something challenging... except that once you hit level Y, that's it - the achievement isn't possible for that character any longer.

After spending a furious 15 seconds thinking about it, I'm pretty sure the answer is "no" - there aren't any regular achievements that you can't complete, eventually, on any character you might want to do them on. Which is pretty darn impressive, if you ask me. If there's a non-FoS achievement in the game, you can get it, period. It might take you forever and a day to level to the point where you can run that dungeon, or fish up Mr. Pinchy, or farm up that last pet, or win enough BGs to get that mount... but that's it. With enough effort and/or assistance, you can acquire any regular achievement in game.

Am I wrong here, though? I know about quite a few of the achievements, and while I'm pretty sure that I've looked them all over at least once or twice, I may have missed something.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another day, another level. Or two. Maybe three.

The climb continues. Talaesin is level 25, still with a good chunk of change to his name - though a bunch of that got blown on his first set of glyphs. Even more would have gone for bags, but there were no netherweave bags on the auction house! Thankfully, my guild leader on SC was kind enough to crank out some bolts and whip up some bags Real Quick Now.

It's nice, having friends. As an aside, this is actually the first time that I think I'll be able to thank someone, face-to-face, for something they did in WoW. Nice.

I was truly and honestly amazed that I couldn't find any netherweave bags on the SC Horde AH. Over on Kirin Tor, they're enough of a money making staple for tailors that I was able to make a good bit of change off of them on Laenshield, and I wasn't really even trying to do more than get a small piece of the market. Makes me wonder what other markets might be under-represented on SC. I'll have to see if there's a money-making niche that I can slot Tal into when he gets tired of raking in cash from his gathering professions.

My wife and I are having a siege* of children over tonight for a cookout, so the chances of me getting any significant play time is slim. What time I have will probably be spent on Aetherna, exploring the new Firelands content and dailies. Or... maybe not. Maybe I'll level Tal a bit while waiting for the chaos around the 4.2 changes to settle down a bit.]

* As a friend once pointed out... "A herd of cows, a school of fish, a siege of children."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Step by Step

Talaesin is level 22 now, with a nice bankroll for that level - 280 gold, IIRC. At this rate, I expect to have more than enough cash to handle dual spec, riding, mounts, and whatever else I may need as part of the game. Current bag set (a bunch of 8-slot bags) are serving him well enough, though I expect to burn some of that gold on a set of netherweave bags sometime Real Soon Now.

Got to kill my first gnomes in Azhara, and it was surprisingly refreshing.

Don't know how I'll handle facing my first Ironforge Dwarf, though. I may just have to see if I can manage to level without touching a hair on their precious little ale-soaked heads.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Myra Tyrngaarde

Talaesin is level 16 now, with 47 gold on hand. Dual gathering professions FTW! Leveling without heirloom items is surprisingly sedate, especially compared to the blistering pace that Aretae managed.

My overall impression so far (with a sample size of "one") is that the new starting areas are well done, various complaints (leveling speed, expensive bags, etc.) have been addressed fairly effectively, and that the "new player" leveling grind is much less grindy, without being to much less grindy, if you know what I mean. Playing for an hour on a low-level toon and picking up a level or two feels just about right to me.

Eye candy time.

I came across this very awesome fan art of Myra Tyrngaarde, the Ironforge bread vendor. Yeah, I loves me th' Dwarves. Click to embiggen...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two Weeks

Wow. Two weeks without a blog post.

Welcome to the lazy days of summer, I guess.

Aretae has managed to make it all the way to 85, and has been... well, not happily - more like reignedly - farming whiptail in Uldum and cranking out various forms of Darkmoon fair card decks for Aeth. It's a nice, sedate, mind-soothing routine. I'm sure he consoles himself with the thought that he'll eventually get to venture into the Blackrock Depths and murder everything that moves.

I've also embarked on a new adventure (for me, at least). A group of folks here at work play Horde-side on the Scarlet Crusade server. I've always wanted to see what the game looked like to the Horde, so Tuesday I logged in and lo! - Talaesin, the Tauren Shaman was born. An hour of play on Tuesday got him to level 7 with a purse full of 22 silver. Another couple of hours on Wednesday saw him just shy of level 13, with a full compliment of (small) bags, two bank slots, and a purse full of 22 gold. Dual gathering professions and the auction house, boo-yeah!

Yep. 100x increase in wealth overnight. I don't think I can keep that up, but I intend to try.

Leveling in Mulgore was interesting. I like the Tauren. I mean, giant anthropomorphic cows! What's not to like, there? And with Cata, you get the feeling that of all the Horde races, the Tauren and the Trolls are the ones who actually have their heads screwed on straight. Playing a shaman is new for me as well, so I'm getting a three-fer - new race, new class, new quests. Essentially a whole new game with a whole new group of people.


I mentioned bags, above. Up through Wrath, bag space was a major pain. First thing I did with any alt was have Aeth buy and mail them a passel of netherweave bags. The alternative was wandering around with only your 16-slot backpack for 20 levels or so until you managed to pry a bag or two out of the cold, dead hands of some random enemy, or some quest giver grudgingly coughed up an 8-slot bag after you saved his life and livelyhood. Given the way bags worked prior to Cata, you'd think they were made of woven gold or something.


By the time I hit level 10 on Talaesin, all my bag slots were filled... without me trying. Sure, they were all 6-slot bags, but that gave me a total of 40 bag slots. More than enough for the questing and gathering I was doing. Two of the bags came from rare mobs that I encountered during the course of my questing, and one just... well, just kind of showed up from somewhere. I looked, and it was there. It was automatically equipped when I looted it because I had an empty bag slot.

It looks like the main purpose of Snagglespear, "Pokey" Thonmantle and other low-level rare mobs is to be a sort of walking, hostile vending machine for small bags. Beat on the squishy pinata and voila! - out comes a bag.

I like it.

Now, though, it's time for Talaesin to venture out into the wild lands outside of Mulgore. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store for my psycho cow. Pyschow?

We'll see.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Pushing towards 85

I'm working my way through Vash'jir on Aretae, and frankly, I'm surprised that I've come this far.

My original plan was to just level Aretae far enough to farm junk boxes so I could use them to grind out Ravenholdt rep for Aetherna's Insane in the Membrane achievement. Since I didn't have a character with inscription to help with the Darkmoon Faire reputation grind, I figured that I'd go ahead and make him a scribe as well, and so kill two birds with one stone.

So, yeah... get him to level 75, level up Inscription until I could crank out Darkmoon cards of destruction, and that would be it, right?

So. Why do I find myself under the sea, running around and leveling all the way to 82, with level 85 fast approaching?


Being sneaky is fun.

I can't see myself taking Aretae into any PvE content, unless it's as part of a guild run with folks who are willing to put up with my absolute n00bness. I've really got no interest in a combat or assassination spec, so he's going to stay subtlety for a good long while. Given that, I think he's always going to be a lone wolf type (how appropriate!) - but there's a lot for a lone wolf to do at level 85. Like, maybe hang out in Tol Barad and stun-lock healers.

Maybe. Like I said, being sneaky is fun.

Music Monday: "Let me go, boys; let me go, boys; let me go down in the mud where the rivers all run dry..."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy dance!

You can't see me, but I'm totally doing my happy dance right now.

Patch notes for 4.2 - take a look.

They removed the proposed cooldown for spell steal!

"Aetherna does a happy dance."

So, OK, yeah... it's twice as expensive. I can deal with that. Just so long as I can blow a chunk o' mana to (arcanely) reduce Mr. Superbuff to a shivering, almost-naked meatsack that's just a PoM Arcane Blast away from getting a first-hand view of the afterlife, well, I'm happy.

This is not a blog post...

... this is just a tribute to the best blog post in the world.


I wrote a wonderful, insightful, witty, charming, and amazing post this morning. Unfortunately, the margins at Blogger were apparently not large enough to contain it.

In fact, the sheer amazing awesomicity of my post was apparently just enough to fry Blogger's positronic brain. When I clicked on the "Publish Post" button, Blogger hiccuped, and the post... well, it went off into the ether somewhere. Best guess right now is that it was transmitted in the general direction of 70 Ophiuchi, where the electric UFO aliens of Dimension 10 are using it to determine who will be the next overlord of the Earth.

Which makes me thankful that I didn't mention Hello Kitty.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Nagrand Ho!

Over the past couple of nights, I've had Aretae questing in Nagrand. This is one of my favorite areas in the game, right up there with the Howling Fjord. The scenery is amazingly beautiful, the Kurenai and Ethereals are fantastic, and the quest lines are interesting.

All of that is really secondary to why I really enjoy the zone, though.

What makes Nagrand a thoroughly enjoyable zone for me are how the quests are arranged.

Alliance side, there are at five quest hubs in the zone - Telaar, the Ethereal outpost, Altrius the Sufferer, the Throne of the Elements and the Nessingwary base camp. There's a small number of breadcrumb quests leading from one hub to another, but for the most part, they're self-contained.

All of which means a freshly dinged level 65 character can pop into Nagrand and make one circuit of the zone to pick up two dozen quests.

At which point, you can simply continue on a second circuit, killing as you go... with a good chance that any mob you down will help you complete one of your quests.

That's just awesome.

One circuit to pick up quests; one circuit to murder anything that moves; repeat to get whatever follow-on quests are available.

By the time you're finished, you'll have picked up a level or two - or close to three, with heirloom experience and rested experience bonuses - and be ready to slog through the Netherstorm or Shdowmoon Valley. Well, when I say "slog", I mean "do just enough quick quests to get to 68 so you can escape Outland and enjoy the Howling Fjord".

Aretae is about 10 bars away from Northrend, and already he can feel the chill in the air.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Days Are Just Filled

Look at me. Look away. Look back at me.

You rogue is now level 65.

Well... almost. Seeing as I picked up about 4 1/2 levels in Outland in just about as many hours of play, it looks as if I have another 2-3 evenings worth of 70's disco-style clothing and poop quests before I can hie Aretae off to Northrend and let him experience the 80's synth-pop style clothing and... um. Poop quests.

Nice to know there's some constants in life, eh?

Along the way, I gigged Aetherna out in a full set of Fireweave, with a couple of pieces of purchasable honor gear thrown into the mix. Add an Ebonsteel Belt Buckle and a resilience gem, her PvP ring from the TB run a few weeks, back, and a resilience chest enchant; mix in a few other enchants and she's got 1600+ resilience, a nice... oh, better than 1000% increase over her previous 140 or thereabouts resilience.

I'm not going to say it makes an immense difference - the increase in her survivability is noticeable, though. She's no longer just squishy roadkill on the path of murderous rogues any longer!

More like a small rock or a broken bottle that they sometimes have to swerve around.

Well, OK, maybe she's a bit more survivable than that. At the risk of sounding proud of myself, I'll point out that after gearing up, I took her in to Tol Barad, where the Alliance won for the first time in living memory.


I think not.

Music Monday: A WoW version of "The Highwayman". A most excellent song, and a very nice set of images to go along with it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger had a hiccup...

Apparently, blogger had a hiccup, and a lot of folks lost posts and comments that went up yesterday.

I'm pleased to relate to you that our pro-active "Post Infrequently, 'Cause It's Summer, Almost, Really' policy here at Twenty Silver has resulted in us loosing zero posts and zero comments.

Just part of our overwhelmingly excellent service to you, our readers!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Doing a 180

Well... to be honest, so far, it's only a 120. It will become a 180 this evening, though.

What? No, no... achievement points. You didn't really think I was going to change an opinion or something, did you?


Last week, Aeth became a Veteran Nanny, for 50 achievement points. Saturday, she completed her 2500th daily quest, for 60 achievement points. She's one pet short of getting Petting Zoo - another 60 achievement points. Knock off a zone in Kalimdor and there you have it, 180 achievement points.

Now, if I can just snag another 15 mounts somewhere, I can pick up Mountain o' Mounts, for... huh. Only 40 achievement points? Collecting 100 mounts is a whole lot tougher than collecting a 100 pets. Huh. Maybe I'll find something more interesting to do.

Music Monday: a electric guitar version of the opening credits theme from "Game of Thrones". Never read the books, haven't watched the series, but I love the intro.

Monday, May 2, 2011


After running through the Rise of the Zandalari quest chain on Aeth, I found myself a bit distracted. While everyone else has been assaulting Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub, Aeth, Laen, and my other toons have been sitting more or less idle while I took Aretae on a tour of Azeroth.

Last Monday, he was level 35.

As of last night, he's level 60.

Total play time: about 25 hours.


He's got +35% to XP from heirloom items, +10% from guild perks, for a total of +45% experience... and that's before counting in the advantage of rested experience gains.

Heirloom items with decent enchantments means that he can hack through just about any mobs that might get in his way. Last night, in Hellfire Peninsula, as a level 58 rogue, I was able to survive several encounters with 2-3 level 60+ mobs. It wasn't pretty, and at times I ended the fight on the ragged end with only a few hundred health, but it was certainly doable.

While leveling him, it was a real struggle to keep him in level-appropriate zones. He was gaining experience so quickly that I think the only zones he actually completed were the Searing Gorge and Burning Steppes quest lines. Those really only got completed because it was easier to do the final few quests rather than to move on to the next zone. In most cases, as soon as the quests in a zone turned green, I abandoned them and left for the next most difficult zone I could find.

My only complaint through this process is that I wish Blizzard would lower the "required level" for a lot of quests. At one point, I left the Burning Steppes to hit the Swamp of Sorrows, thinking "Well, if I can go through level-appropriate mobs like a hot knife through butter, I obviously need more challenging opponents." Turns out that the Swamp had plenty of XP for a budding herbalist, thank you very much, but aside from that... nada. At level 50, I was just shy of being able to accept any quests in the zone. So I did some herbing, returned to the Steppes to complete the quests there, and then pretty much ignored the Swamp except for a brief stop-over on my way to the Blasted Lands.

Level 58 to 60 were done in Hellfire Peninsula, where - thankfully! - you can still get a decent challenge. The mobs were tough, but not too tough, and plentiful enough that it felt dangerous. I think I used Vanish to extricate myself from sticky situations more often last night than I did during the entirety of the leveling process up to 58. I also found myself routinely using cooldowns that were afterthoughts at best in the Old World content.

Another thing that I found refreshing about Outland is that the quests chains are much, much, much less linear than the new Old World content. The "I know where all the quests are, run around and pick up everything, then circle the map slaughtering everything that moves" strategy still works quite well here.

Which gave me pause. There's a real difference in questing from BC to Wrath to Cata. Personally, I think that I'm leaning towards the idea that Wrath questing (minus the phasing snafus) was the most successful model. We'll see how things work out with the Firelands in 4.2, where it looks like Blizzard is trying to take some of the best questing elements of BC, Wrath and Cata and mix them all together in a (hopefully!) wonderful stew.

I'm thinking about putting together some quest graphs for a few zones, similar to what Cynwise did for battlegrounds - an abstract representation of quests, and how they relate to one another. I suspect that BC zones will show a quest graph like an aromatic ring structure - lots of core quest hubs immediately available, with short chains leading off of them. In Wrath zones, I'd expect something similar, except with the occasional "side chain" from one hub leading off to and opening up another. Cata zones feel like they would end up being a single long chain of linked quests, with short stubs of "side quests' here and there.

I'm interested in seeing how many "join points" there are in quest chains. There are a few that I know of - mostly breadcrumb quests in BC and Wrath, that occur at the end of other quest chains and point you towards another hub. You can get those quests before you get the breadcrumbs, though, so while they're "linked" in a way, the link isn't a strong one. So instead of a linear march through content, you end up with a web of quests, which gives you the ability to pick your way through the content in a way that's suitable to you.

I'm going to have to think on this a bit more. It's an interesting problem - how do you tell a story in a non-linear fashion? Hmm. More to follow, unless, you know, I get distracted again.

Music Monday: "Run Away", by The Hollow, who have an interesting 3 Doors Down sort of sound to them. Bonus points to you if you can explain the relationship between the band and SF/Horror writer F. Paul Wilson...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Initial Reactions to 4.1

2-second Arcane Blasts? Woooohoooo! I feel like I owe some developer at Blizzard a plate of cookies or something. It's like I found an amazingly awesome Christmas present that got stuck behind the couch. Mmmmmm-mmmmmm-goood!

Panther Cub? D'awwwww! All the poor lil' guy had to gnaw on was some... erm. Well, dead dwarf. Well, really, dead-ish dwarf. As in "not dead yet" dwarf. Ah, well. Circle of life, and all that. We'll make an exception for this little guy because someone heaped cute on him and topped it off with more cute.

Bwemba's quest chain? Cool. Though I could have done without her spirit maneuvering in front of me... every... time... I went to click on something else.

The new panes for titles and the equipment manager in the character screen? Also nice. Being able to see more than a handful of titles at once is great, and the gear management interface seems to be a bit slicker.

New achievements? Check! 2500 Daily Quests, Justly Rewarded, Cataclysmically Delicious, Drown Your Sorrows, plus the new troll dungeon quests.

All in all... thumbs up!


Started off yesterday evening doing some TB dailies on Aetherna, then switched over to Aretae. When last we left him, he was at level 35, having done a mere handful of introductory quests in the Western Plaguelands.

By the end of the evening?

Level 40. Professional expert. Dual talent specialization. Journeyman riding. A bag full of herbs, pigments and inks all lined up to crank out glyphs, scrolls and other inscription goodies.

All in the space of about 3 hours.

Yowza. He's going to be farming Heavy Junkboxes and cranking out Darkmoon Faire cards for Aeth before you know it. They grow up so fast!

Seriously - the XP bonus from guild perks and heirloom items has combined to make Aretae a leveling monster. Another couple of nights, and he'll be ready to start his farming operations in earnest.

Moving to WPL was a definite win, both in terms of experience, and in terms of challenge. I'm starting to get more familiar with his abilities, and my button-mashing has gotten slightly more sophisticated. I've remembered that I have Evasion, for example, and I'm - slowly - learning the art of stun-locking a target. Now that I've dual-spec'd into subtlety, I'm looking forward to playing with his new set of abilities.

All in all, I'm having fun on my murderous, backstabbing wolf-man. Even just getting from place to place with Running Wild is entertaining. Once he's done with his farming and crafting duties, we'll see if that novelty lasts through Outland and Northrend and into the Cataclysm content.

Monday, April 25, 2011


Lots of achievements this weekend, thanks to guild runs of Tempest Keep and 10-man Ulduar. I'm impressed with Ulduar - there's a couple of boss encounters that are trivial in Cataclysm raiding gear, sure. There are others (Freya, for example) that are still more "coordination checks" than "gear checks". No matter how hard you hit, if you don't know the fight and work together, you're not going to succeed.

Dinked around on Aretae for a bit, getting him to level 35... at which point I moved him to the Western Plaguelands. I'm looking forward to doing the EPL quest chains again, this time with a level-appropriate (albeit overpowered-in-enchanted BoA items) character.

Playing a rogue is a different experience. I definitely enjoy the solo play style - sneaking, sneaking, sneaking is fun. I'm thinking about respecing from Combat into Subtlety just because I like the sneaky, more meditative aspect of the class so much. I just can't see how that contributes to team play, though. So I somehow doubt I'll ever take him into a dungeon.

As combat, my twitch reflexes just aren't there, and playing a combat rogue seems to be all twitch reflexes. Maybe I'll have an "ah-ha!" moment and The Ideal Priority Rotation will crystallize in my mind, but for now, I still feel like I'm mashing buttons and watching things die. I'm actually hoping playing in a more level-appropriate area will force me to think a bit more about what I'm doing instead of depending on his BoA Items of L33tne55 to carry me through fights.

Music monday... Ian Anderson, master of the flute, playing a duet with mission commander Cady Coleman. In spaaaaaaace!

I love living in the future.

Friday, April 22, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different

RPG inspired perfume oil blends from Black Phoenix Alchemy.

Me? Dwarf.



Yeah, I know. It's me, though.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Got pulled into an Ulduar guild run on Saturday evening... yeah, so I'm a bit behind the power curve. Picked up plenty of achievements, including Crazy Cat Lady, which I am sure will amuse my wife to no end. We downed Freya, then my network connection decided to go south for the evening, probably because it got fed up with the near-constant high winds we'd been experiencing all day.

Other than that, it was a pretty quiet weekend. Finished up the questing achievements in the Eastern Kingdoms, which was fun. The storyline in Booty Bay was interesting, and there were some amusing moments in there. With those out of the way, Aeth journeyed to Darkshore, set her hearthstone there, and started plowing through the Kalimdor zones. As I'm almost done with doing Tol Barad dailies, I expect that the various zone quest achievements will get knocked off a bit more quickly now.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thinking about PvP

Probably because of my humiliating pwnage by a miserable rogue last night, I've been thinking a bit about working on filling out my starting PvP set for Aeth, and possibly putting one together for Laen.

My goal here isn't to be an arena PvP monster. I just want to get myself to the point where I've got a decent PvP set for Tol Barad and other battlegrounds.

I'll have a more detailed discussion at a later date. For now, some notes...

A list of craftable cloth armor with resilience, but no spirit (ugh!) for Aeth. Looks like what I'll want is a mix of Emberfire and Fireweave items, trying to prioritize haste > crit > mastery.

Looks like there's no craftable weapons for PvP, though there is a craftable off-hand in the form of inscription's Battle Tome. More research needed here, obviously there's got to be something Aeth can use that won't require Arena play. Myabe?

There's a variety of trinkets purchasable with honor. Same for neck items, cloaks and rings as well. Yay! It looks like there's really only one or two items in each category that fit for a spellcaster, though, so this is less of a decision than what armor set to sport.

Gems are easy to come by, but probably won't factor into her initial set, except for a belt buckle and possible PvE gear gemmed for PvP use, if I have trouble filling a particular slot.

There's a variety of consumables (arcanums, inscriptions, enchantments) that are geared towards PvP. As with trinkets and the like, though, there's really only one obvious choice for a spellcaster in each category.

Or, I guess, I could just Ask Mr. Robot.

For now, I think I'll do my own research and thinking on the subject, and then see what Mr. Robot has to say on the matter.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ah, PvP

Cape of Stranglethorn, Gurubashi Arena.

Once again, I am reminded of how much - as a mage - I absolutely, positively loathe and despise rogues.

Message... er, Query For You, Sire

There are days when I dive into WoW whole-heartedly. I've got a mission - leveling an alt, completing quests, running a dungeon, earning points or honor or achievements or something else. I've got a goal, and I'm bent on accomplishing it.

There are other days when I log in and just run around doing fun stuff for the distraction. No goals, no objectives - I just want to kill some pixels, explore, tune out the real world and relax.

It's crunch time at work, so last night (and probably the rest of the week) are going to fall into the second category. I may log in to do dailies and run about a bit, but without any specific goal in mind, other that entertainment and relaxation.

At first glance, it seems kind of odd. "Oh, yeah - that game that I play? Yeah, I'm not doing anything with it now, really. Just kind of having fun instead of..." instead of what? Working?

Well, yeah. There's more than one type of fun, you know.

There's pointless, meandering fun. Going outside to throw the tennis ball for the dog, sitting on the porch watching the cats tussle, getting into a tickle fight with my daughters. All of those are definitely fun. Exploring Azeroth, kiting killer cinderbloom across Tol Barad, visiting the Ironforge air field or the murderous critters above Mulgore... that's the WoW equivalent.

There's focused fun. I've got something I'm going to do, and the enjoyment comes from accomplishing my goal. Writing a blog post, cleaning out the closets, mowing the grass - they're all work, really, but they're also enjoyable. There's a sense of satisfaction in getting something done, even if it's trivial. Most achievements fall into this category, I think - something you have to work at for a bit, but it's the working that makes it enjoyable.

Then there's cooperative fun. Playing a game of basketball, getting together with friends for dinner, doing something with other people... that's a whole different kind of fun. It may be pointless, it may be focused, but the presence of other people makes it a whole different situation. Queuing for a dungeon, jumping in to a BG - those are WoW activities that can either be pointless or focused, depending on your attitude.

Thinking about it, I'm amazed that there's enough in the game that regardless of what my mood is, I can find something, somewhere, in WoW that I can look at and say "Yeah... I'll have fun doing that tonight."

Well. Except for archaeology.

What is it in WoW that - no matter what you do - you just can't get excited over, under any circumstances?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

That Must Have Been One Amazing Sandwich

Yesterday, I commented on how well my LFD pugs have been doing lately. "Wow!" said I. "Things really look pretty decent, you know!"

I should know better... really, I should.

In classic karmic response to my hubris, I ended up in... well, not a fail pug last night, but rather, a quick succession of fail pugs. We zoned in to BWL, and the tank immediately wanted to leave and requeue, but we were on the 15-minute LFD debuff, so we just decided to run it.

First boss went down easily enough, except... everything I touched, I pulled aggro. I mean, everything. The bear tank would charge, start swiping, I'd give him a second or two before I did an /assist and tossed off a plain old arcane blast. Which would immediately put my threat at somewhere between 90% and 110%.

I mean, Aeth can pack a pretty good punch, but come on - from a standing start? Thankfully I didn't pop my trinkets or lead off with an AB + PoM AB or something like that. Still, in the first couple of packs, there were times when I was essentially kiting my own little death cultist around, killing them slowly. Yep. You pull it, you tank it. I'm willing to comply.

So we downed the first boss, then went on to Corla, where things just went to hades in a nice little handbasket. We wiped once, wiped again, and then... on person D/C'd. Oops. Then the healer tells us he has to go because he's making a sandwich.

Making... a... sandwich.

Making... a... sandwich.


OK, listen. You want to bail? At this point, I can't fault you. You've given it a couple of shots, if you think, "Man, this just isn't happening with this group", well, I can understand that. I can even understand if you wanted to show some empathy, maybe cushion the blow a little bit instead of coming right out and saying "Look, guys, this group just can't handle this boss. See ya."

But... seriously? MAKING A SANDWICH?

Is that, honestly and truly, the best lie you can come up with?

The guy who D/C'd had more tact that that. At least we can imagine that there was some sort of freak storm in his area that blew up suddenly and knocked out his internet connection. We've all been there, right? You know how those things happen. Could have been anything, really.

But you? Naw. You're ditching us because apparently, the painstaking attention required to slap some lunchmeat between two pieces of bread requires your almost complete concentration. I say "almost" because, strangely enough, while you were AFK "making your sandwich", you were also at your keyboard, telling us how sorry you were that you had to focus on this sandwich-related activity.


Requue, pick up a couple of new folks. A slightly undergeared pally healer, a slightly bossy shaman, try for Corla again.

Wipe again.

Tank quits. Other DPS quit.

Healer and I are the only ones left. Requeue.

Group #3. This time, we manage to take down Corla, but the tank starts ragging on the healer for being awful. Seriously, man - he's keeping everyone up. He's not in full purples, and you're running from point A to point B quickly enough that he's struggling to to keep a full mana bar in between fights. Which is probably why he was letting beacon of light fall off, because he needed more time to drink. Maybe, I don't know, you could let him drink and rebuff you before you go plunging into the next pack of mobs?

Fortunately, we had a decent fellow along as a worgen rogue - the two of us let him know he was, in fact, doing a pretty good job. As I mentioned, nobody was dying, so there was no call for telling him "Thankfully the dps made up for your low heals". Sheesh.

We almost passed by Beauty. Most of us wanted to give it a shot, but the tank whined about not wanting to risk a wipe again, because - get this - repairing plate is expensive.

Listen, buddy. You signed up to tank. You know what that means, right?

You volunteered to let the slavering minions of the aspect of death line up and punch you in the face.

And you're going to whine about repair costs? Sheesh. No dain brammage there, I tell ya...

We down beauty with zero difficulty (having a mage, a shaman, and a rogue for three different flavors of CC), go on to the last boss, and down him easily as well. Yay team! Mr. Slightly Undergeared Pally Healer gets a couple of nice gear upgrades, we all get our points form the daily heroic, and - best of all! - Aeth finally hits 999/1000 exalted with Gilneas.

Woohoo! That's 48 exalted reputations!