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!

Monday, April 11, 2011


I queued for a random Heroic dungeon on Aeth last night, and got SFK - not my favorite dungeon, by far, though not the worst out there. Buff, pull, and... less than 30 minutes later, we were done.

No wipes.

One death due to distraction IRL.

Most of the blues ended up sharded.

As a whole, the group made use of what CC we had, popped cooldowns and trinkets at the right time, focused fire in the right ways, and generally just managed to do the right thing for the majority of the time in the dungeon.

All in all - a very nice run.

That's not an isolated incident, either. The LFD groups I've been in recently have generally been pretty good. There's still the occasional gem of a group, if by gem you mean "steaming pile of carp", but other than that, I've pretty much been denying Sturgeon his due.

What does this mean? Beats me. Maybe I'm just lucky, and my next half-dozen times in the queue will leave me pulling my hair out. Maybe all the brain-dead l33ter-than-thou players have gone off to farm Tol Barad or play Rift or something else, leaving behind only the rational, cooperative players. Who knows?

Whatever it is, I've been enjoying it lately, and I hope it continues. My random dungeon runs haven't been quiet, by any stretch of the imagination. I like that. The fact that most dungeons still require at least a modicum of communication helps remind you that your fellow players are, well, players. Even when they're not a friendly chatter-fest, there's at least the occasional lol or comment to keep the run from feeling dead.

I'm almost finished grinding out Gileas reputation for Aeth, though. I'll keep running dungeons with her after that to work on getting the next nice piece of valor gear... but I'm thinking that maybe it's time let Laenshield shake the dust off of his boots and give healing some regular dungeons a try...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Greetings and Felicitations

Just wanted to say "Welcome!" to all the folks visiting from WoW Insider, and give you a taste of what this blog is like.

You can start back at the beginning, where I introduce the original reason for the blog - to document leveling Aeven, the Dwarven Pally, in common gear only.

Eventually, Aeven hit level 80. Since then, the scope of the blog has expanded to encompass the various activities of my other characters as well.

Currently, one of the primary focuses of the blog has been on my main, the Human mage Aetherna, and her insatiable desire to complete the various achievements in the game... including gaining exalted reputation with every possible faction.

I try to post at least three times a week, though that can be spotty when work and family intervene. If there's anything in particular you'd like to ask about, or something you'd like to see me write about, or even if you just want to say hello - please feel free to leave a comment. Particularly if you happen to play on Kirin Tor, my home server. Y'all are good folks, y'are.

If you'd like to know more about me, well, there's a few tidbits here and there. I do try to keep my WoW blogging separate from the rest of my life, but bits and pieces leak through - hopefully not enough to dissuade you from enjoying the stories, rants, and other WoW-related posts.

Once again - welcome! I hope you enjoy your visit, and I hope to see you again as time goes by.

Not So Ascetic

Following my plan from yesterday, I stripped Aeth down to bare bones in order to see how close I could get to a character that might actually be challenged by Old World content. With no glyphs, no talents, no buffs, and no gear except a Simple Black Dress and Embroidered Boots...

... Aeth ended up just shy of 40k health and just over 20k mana.

The mana really isn't an issue; since spells cost a percentage of base mana now, the actual spell costs scale pretty well. In this configuration, she can manage a couple of Flamestrikes or just short of a dozen Fireballs before running OOM.

Damage seems to be... kind of OK. In a Redridge, she was still one-shotting most mobs with a single Ice Lance. Moving on to Searing Gorge, mobs were still taking 1-2 shots to down - not bad, but not quite the kind of fight I was looking for. If I could downrank spells, that would help, but unfortunately, downranking is a thing of the past. Oh well.

Health is the real issue. Aeth didn't even have 40k health, fully buffed, at the end of Wrath! So essentially, when doing Old World content, even stripped down, I'm still in god mode... incredibly hard to kill and doing a whole lot of damage, even without any buffs.

To make this work, I think I need the opposite of (the original) Martin Fury - I need a shirt made of nerf. I'm thinking of a BoA item that scales your health, mana, and stats by whatever percentage is needed to put you in the level mid-range for your current zone. Call it an "Ascetic's Hair Shirt", let me equip it to scale me to the right power level, and I'd be happy.

For the time being, though, it looks like "Operation: Ascetic" is a failure. Curse you, my expanded health pool!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Continuing Resolution

I've been continuing to run through Old World zones with Aeth. Completed the quest chains in the Swamp of Sorrows, and started in on Redridge last night. Questing makes for a much nicer "waiting for the LFD queue to pop" activity than archaeology, fishing, or even mining.

Which makes me think.

Aeth is significantly overpowered for even level 60 quests in the old world, which means that I can blow through them rather quickly. While I don't particularly mind this, I find myself wondering if there's some way to make the quests a little bit more challenging, even for someone at level 85.

Here's some thoughts on making questing in the Old World a little more challenging (and, hopefully, more fun)...

Drop The Buffs. When I'm questing in the old world, there's no need to scarf down my daily doses of Pickled Guppy, or make sure that I've got Mage Armor and Arcane Brilliance up. If I pick up a buff from some other source, drop it if I can.

Drop The Gear. Without all her fancy gee-gaws, Aeth will have a whopping 207 intellect and 183 stamina. That should put her at about the same level as a geared-up level 50 mage or so. I'm thinking about picking up a Robe of Apprenticeship or maybe just even a Lovely Purple Dress to run around Azeroth in. Use the equipment manager to swap items in an out, and Aeth can both look stylish while running around the Old World killing murlocs, and be Cataclysm heroic-ready when the LFD pops!

Drop The Glyphs. This is a little more annoying than just not buffing, but by erasing my current set of glyphs, I can loose that little bit of an edge that they give. I've got a second spec (fire) that I only use occasionally on Aeth, so I can repurpose that spec to be my "questing, no glyphs" spec.

Drop The Talents. Along that line, if I'm going to have a "no glyphs" spec, I might as well reset my talent points and... not take any talents. No Netherwind Presence, no Torment the Weak, no Presence of Mind or Improved Arcane Missiles or Missile Barrage or... hmm. You know, maybe I'll take some talents. I'll start with nada, though, and see how tough things are then.

Drop the High-Level Spells. Stick to classic lower-level mage spells - nothing, say, past level 60 or so. Just move them off of my button bars and forget about them.

As I think about this, I'm intrigued. More on "Operation: Ascetic" as it progresses.

And for music monday, a bit of Jethro Tull...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Le Roi est mort!

Vive le Roi!

Well... Vive le meurtrier du roi, rather.

Aetherna is now The Kingslayer. All it took was a 3 1/2 hour guild run through ICC 10 heroic last night. For fun, for reputation, for achievements, for titles... for Lorderon.

Yes, we had about 3x the stats from gear that we would have had at the end of Wrath. And an extra five levels. And the new set of Cataclysm talents. And the 30% buff from Strength of Wrynn. And... well, I think we may have done the LK on regular, instead of on heroic.

Still. Ten achievements, ICC cleared, the Lich King down - it was fun.

What was strange to me, though, was the fact that we wipe several times in Sindragosa, trying to get that fight down. On the other hand, we managed the LK the first time, thanks to some really good directions before hand. The new raid markers helped immensely, as it made figuring out where to run to/from at various points much simpler.

All in all, a good night, and a fun night. Would it have been much tougher at the end of Wrath, without the ICC buffs? Most certainly. More rewarding, but more work, as well. Waiting a few months and spending an evening defeating the Lich King (instead of months of evenings) was definitely worth it for me.

The Lich King: AAAAA+++. Would kill again.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Really, Vanessa?

Continuing to run lower-level quests on Aeth last night, I found myself in Westfall. While I alrady knew the "big reveal" that Hope was really Vanessa VanCleef, I thought it was kind of interesting to see the story unfold. I mean, yeah, the opening quest line is pretty ridiculous, as has been pointed out elsewhere by folks much more talented than I. Still, there's some interesting bits in there.

I was enjoying it until I got the the point where Vanessa actually acknowledges my existence. As part of the scripted conversation, she tells you...
And you, Aetherna, I will spare your life. You have done much to help our cause, albeit unwittingly, but the next time we meet it will be as enemies.

Really? I mean, really?

Lady, I don't care who your daddy was.

In case you missed it, I'm a freakin' level 85 arcane mage.

You didn't even bother to stun me, you ignorant little witch.

I just finished going through Westfall like a hot knife through butter.

In fact, the only reason there's anyone of your thugs left standing at all is because killing them was just too plain tedious.

When I'm done here, I'm going to use the power of my mind to rip a hole in the space-time continuum. Then I'm going to travel to another world, find the biggest, nastiest, most twisted member of the Burning Legion still mobile, and turn him/her/it into a puddle of ectoplasmic goo... just for fun.

You're what? Sixteen?

Seriously, Vanessa. Is that your age, your level, or your I.Q.?

All three, apparently.

It's also the number of milliseconds you'd manage to survive if the developers hadn't revealed you as part of what's essentially a non-interactive cutscene.

I'm going to go run the Deadmines at least once just to kick your scrawny, whiny, self-centered butt and give you the beating you so richly deserve.

"I will spare your life." Pfft. It is on, girl. And you're going down.