Thursday, January 26, 2012

Status Report II: The Statusing

Status so far as Aeth heads for Glory of the Hero:
  • Chaos Theory - Done!
  • Respect Your Elders - Done!
  • Volunteer Work - Done!
  • Better Off Dred - Possible, but tricky.
  • Less-Rabi - Possible, but tricky.
  • Abuse the Ooze - Done!
  • Zombiefest! - Untried.
  • Experienced Drake Rider - Definitely going to need a group for this.
  • Ruby Void - Arcane mage Needs Group Badly!

The last was more or less a fluke.  There was a small (9? 10?) person group that a guild mate put together to try for this, so I jumped in.  We did 3-4 attempts, and at one point, managed to get the whale shark down to something like 94% before we all died in a horribly gory frenzy of blood and entrails.

Figuring out we knew what was going on, we jumped back in for another attempt, sure that we knew what was going on, and that we'd nail it this time.  I switched to fire spec on Aeth so I could scorch and move and "tank" the shark in a pinch, and we were off!

Two minutes into it, we were making some good progress - it really did look like we knew what we were doing - when my wife comes in, plops down on the bed next to me, and says, "I just got off the phone..."

Now, I'm not the most sensitive, empathic guy in the world.  I can be rather dense some times.  OK, a lot of the time.  In this case, however... everything in her tone, her posture, her words were clear even to me.

"Hey," they all said,  "Yeah, you, knucklehead. Put down the laptop.  Forget the stupid game.  Remember that whole 'love, cherish, honor' thing you promised a couple of decades back?  Yeah, this is what you were babbling about.  Now get hoppin', bozo!"

Which, in a rare fit of sanity, I did.

I think I saw Aeth become shark chow about 4.2 nano-seconds after I took my hands of the keyboard.  Didn't even take the time to say anything in chat.  I felt bad, but... a dozen strangers vs. my wife?  Sorry, guys.  House isn't on fire, but it's a RL emergency just the same.

Turns out that we have a close friend is going through a really, really, really rough spot, in multiple areas.  We kind of had an inkling of it, but this evening was the first time said friend had an opportunity to talk to my wife and lean on her shoulder about it... and afterwards, my wife needed to debrief and lean on me in turn.

So, a while later, I hop back on and find myself floating in the briny deep.  I scroll back through the chat log to see who it is that I need to apologize to for bailing on them without notice, and... holy cow!  They did it!  There's the guild announce for the achievement!  Wait, what's my name doing there?

Quick check of the achievements tab... and yes, there it is.

They not only downed the whale shark, they managed to do so on the attempt that I had to bail on. 

Apparently, they did have it nailed down.

Way to go, guys!  Thanks for carrying me :-)

Friday, January 20, 2012

You Learn Something New Every Day


Apparently, there's a bank in Theramore now.

Who knew?

Status Report

Status so far as Aeth heads for Glory of the Hero:
The hardest part about last night's efforts were getting past Prince Taldaram.  Oy!  Possible to solo, but just barely.  I ended up popping my Baradin Footman's Tags just before the first Vampric Embrace; then I used an Ice Block to survive the first flame spheres.  I just ate the next vampric embrace, but immediately afterwards, I popped Mirror Image so I could use Evocation to regain health.  I did my best (Blink & run!) to dodge the second flame sphere summons, and after that, popped all my cooldowns (Arcane Power, Time Warp, Tirande's Favorite Doll, etc.) to burn him down ASAP.  Ended up with the Prince down, and Aeth's health at something like 5k.  A very close thing.

Going back through WotLK content, I'm surprised at how gimmicky even the 5-man bosses are.  Well, not so much surprised, as in intrigued... with a couple of exceptions, their gimmicks aren't trivializable, even for an incredibly overgeared powerhouse like Aeth.  Most BC dungeon bosses go down so quickly that their mechanics don't really even come into play, or if they do, they can simply be ignored.  I wonder if that was a conscious design decision in Wrath, or if it's something that has just more or less evolved from the design process at Blizzard.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moving Right Along

I've spent a couple of evenings earlier this week in Karazhan, working on Aeth's reputation with the Violet Eye

One run through all the way up to the chess event, followed by another partial run, got me to within about 1k of exalted.  Finishing off the quest chain that ends with killing Nightbane on the Master's Terrace let me finish that grind and got Aeth all the way to 999/1000 exalted... which means she now has 49 exalted reputations.  Only one more to go!

What to do now, though?  Just about the only way Aeth has of grinding out additional reputations is through raids - Molten Core, Ahn'Quiraj, Black Temple, etc.  Well, gee - Kara wasn't horribly difficult, honestly.  How hard could Black Temple be, really?

Two very quick deaths in the Black Temple in exchange for 36 rep makes it pretty obvious that the answer is something like "pretty freaking hard for a squishy mage".  Ouch.  Maybe a bit more thought will help divine the answer here...

  • Bloodsail Buccaneers - killing Blackwater Raiders - 5k+ of them - to get to Exalted, then start in on killing 1600+ Booty Bay Bruisers.  Then worry about repairing reputations with the neutral Goblin factions.  Ouch.
  • Darkmoon Faire - monthly quests.  Should get to exalted the next time it shows up.
  • Ravenholdt - farming junkboxes.  Need about 800 more to max out at 999/1000 exalted.
  • Hydraxian Waterlords - Molten Core - vanilla 40-man raid.
  • Brood of Nozdormu - Ruins of Ahn'Quiraj - vanilla 20-man raid that gives almost no rep.
  • Brood of Nozdormu - Temple of Ahn'Quiraj - vanilla 40-man raid.
  • Ashtongue Deathsworn - Black Temple - BC 25-man raid.
  • Scale of the Sands - Hyjal Summit - BC 25-man raid.
  • The Ashen Verdict - Icecrown Citadel - WotLK 10-man raid.
  • Avengers of Hyjal - Firelands - Cata 10-man raid.
  • PvP Factions - no.  Just... no.  Holy cow - 3k+ WSG battlegrounds? Augh!
Hmm.  When "wait for a couple of weeks" and "farm junkboxes until your fingers bleed" are your two best options... maybe it's time to try and put together some classic raids.

Speaking of which, Aeth got to go along for a normal Dragon Soul raid last night, as we're trying to help out a guild mate who wants to get his Fangs of the Father.  It took a bit of effort to get everyone on the same page and down Morchok, but it was actually pretty simple.  What can I say?  I've got some good guild mates.  I'm happy because another weekly DS raid will give me and my erratic schedule a chance to pop in and raid with my guild.

Since I'm willing to wait to grind rep, and raids take time to organize and are kind of catch-as-catch-can for me, I'm obviously going to have some time to work on other things.  Like, say... Glory of the Hero

Yeah, yeah.  I know.  That's so last expansion.  Still, I've only got a handful of achievements I need for this meta, and it was pretty simple to knock out Consumption Junction last night.  Which leaves Aeth needing only ten more WotLK heroic dungeon achievements:
I'll give the easier looking ones a try tonight or tomorrow, and maybe see if I can pick up a partner or two for the ones that would be easier to accomplish in a group.  Oh, and maybe unpack my Baradin Footman's Tags and see if that's a help as well.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Who's A Pretty Kitty?

More to come but... for now, know that while I may hate to admit it, I'm Barbie-ing pretty hard right now.

Why, you may ask?

Well - just take a look at Aeth after her solo run through Karazhan last night...

Why, yes - that's Aeth wearing a classic Masquerade Gown and Gloves of Saintly Blessings.  The absolutely cute little shoulders that compliment the gown are a Thistlefur Mantle.  The weapon that's slung over her back, glowing with arcane energy, is (indeed!) The Bringer of Death.  That fell staff is complimented nicely by the simple curves of Corla's Baton.


I stumbled on this look entirely by accident, but man, I like it.  I like the fact that she looks elegant, eldritch, and dangerous all at the same time.  Most of all, though?

I'm ab-so-lute-ly ecstatic that I no longer have to deal with a monument the size of a small boat sitting on each of her shoulders.

That, alone, makes transmogrification a win for me.

The fact that Aeth's just plain gorgeous now is a bonus :-)

Friday, January 13, 2012

One Hundred Percent

Archaeology achievements?  100% complete!  And apparently, I now belong in a museum, or something.

With two rares to go, I shifted my emphasis from Kalimdor to Northrend.  I figured that since I had found zero Vrykul or Nerubian rares, I'd probably have a better chance of getting one of those projects relatively quickly if I worked in areas I'd not done much in before.

Looks like that was a good guess.  Night before last, I solved the Vrykul Drinking Horn for rare #19, and a push last night netted Aeth the Blessing of the Old God for rare #20.

Also, providing evidence that the RNG has a sense of humor, after getting the Blessing for rare #20, I cleared out some Night Elf fragments that I had remaining... and now have Tyrande's Favorite Doll queued up for the next time I want to do some digging.

Once that happens, Aeth may finally get to replace the tree stump she's been dragging around for the past couple of months.  The wonderful thing?  When she finally gets a better trinket, I can pass this along to Laenshield or even Aeven.  Yay for account bound epics!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I may be lying in the gutter...

... but I'm looking at the stars, right?

If by "stars", you mean "a DK and a warrior and a rogue who collectively managed to kick my sorry butt in dps".

I ran a HoT last night in a semi-pug - myself and three other guildies, plus a random fellow just to keep the LFD tool happy.  As it turned out, we managed to pick up someone who used to play on our server and knew a couple of my guild mates, so it was a very pleasant run.

Except for my dps.

I mean, I used to think that 20K dps overall for an iLvl 381 arcane mage was acceptable in a heroic 5-man run.

Possibly even approaching "decent".

I've gotten to the point in a LFD group where I can pretty much expect that I'll be the #1 damage dealer, or #2 if a shaman shows up.

This run, though?


The rogue managed 60K dps.  Not on one particular boss fight, either.  That was 60K dps overall.

I mean... the DK tank was managing about 40K dps.

They're all raid geared, but... wow.

Sheesh.  At least I managed to out-damage the healer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

Happy new year!

I took some time off for Christmas, which meant that there was time to stay up late, sleep in, and play WoW (and finish plowing through George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" books, but that's beside the point).

And playing WoW meant... time to work on archaeology.


I really should have titled this post, "How I learned to stop worrying and love the survey tool."

What happened?

Less than two months ago, I was writing about how I thought archaeology was a bust.  Stick a fork in it, it's done.  There was no joy in it for me, it was too much of a grind, not enough fun.

Yet in the last week, I've managed to level my archaeology to max.  Not only that, but I've also managed to get almost every archaeology achievement.  The sole exception is It Belongs in a Museum... and I'm only three rare artifacts short of achieving that particular goal.

What... what happened?

Three things.

First: the new Darkmoon Faire.

As y'all know, thanks to the Insane in the Membrane achievement, I'm very much interested in raising my Darkmoon Faire reputation for Aeth.  Fortunately, with the release of patch 4.3, that whole process has become much less grindy and gold-intensive, thanks to the new Darkmoon Faire.  There are a number of repeatable (once a month) quests at the new Fair, all of which grant Darkmoon reputation upon completion.  So there was zero chance that I'd skip any of these quests on Aeth, since doing so would mean wringing out less than the maximum possible amount of reputation every Faire appearance.

As it turns out, several of the new Darkmoon Faire quests are related to professions.  You do something like gather scrap metal from around the fair, or cut glass into fake gems, and get a few skill points along with a reputation reward.  Yay!  What's not to like?

One of those profession quests, of course, is for archaeology.

So.  Gritting my teeth, eyes on the prize - my precious Darkmoon Faire rep - I went forth to dig up a handful of fossil fragments for the quest.

Which brings us to the next factor.

Second: archaeology buffs.

It's been a long time since I've attempted to do anything with archaeology.  Long enough, in fact, that I missed the fact that the fragment drop rate for archeology had been buffed in patch 4.3.  I mean, I knew, intellectually, that it had been buffed - but I had not actually experienced the change, if you know what I mean.

You might not think it, but going from ~12 fragments per dig site to ~20 fragments per dig site makes for a huge difference.

Consider common archaeology items.  Most of them take 25-45 fragments to solve (minus any bonus you might get from keystones, scrolls, etc.)  Before the fragment rate buff in 4.3, that meant that you had to fully explore 3-4 dig sites for a particular race in order to solve a common archaeology artifact.

Heaven help you if you were looking at a rare artifact that took 150 fragments.  That would take somewhere around 13-15 dig sites to complete.


With the increased drop rate on fragments, though? All of a sudden, most common artifacts can generally be solved by fully exploring two dig sites, and in many cases, doing so leaves you with a small buffer of fragments to contribute to your next artifact.  Even hideously expensive rare artifacts can  be solved by hitting 7-8 dig sites.

Perviously, taking an hour or so to bop around Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms might net you enough fragments to solve a common artifact or two, and perhaps make a small dent in the progress required for a few more.  Now, though?

Solution city, man.

Before, archaeology felt like I was running around, accomplishing nothing.  Oh, I'd find a few fragments here, a few fragments there, but overall, it felt like I was running in place and getting nowhere.  

With the 4.3 buffs, it seemed like I was able to solve an artifact every other dig site or so.  Even if I was unlucky enough to get four entirely different types of dig sites on a single continent, I could be pretty sure that after two circuits, I'd be able to solve 3-4 artifacts of different types.

In other words, I went from feeling like I was stagnating to feeling like I was making progress.  Because, all of a sudden, I was making progress... or, rather, I could see myself making progress.  I'd fly around, hit 3-4 dig sites, look at the archaeology pane and think, "Oh, hey!  I can solve  this Dwarf artifact.  And that Night Elf one, too.  Oh, and I'm almost close enough to solve this fossil..."

And then - then! - came the magic thought.

You know the one.

"... maybe just one more dig site."

Bam!  Welcome to the skinner box, man.

Third: I was on vacation.

This doesn't mean what you think it means.

I'm not saying that I had umpteen extra hours to devote to archaeology, or that I was doing archaeology more than anything else in WoW.

What I am saying is that my normal blog reading habits were disrupted a bit by vacation.

You see, I normally sit down and read through my blog subscriptions in Google Reader a couple of times a day.  On vacation, though, these tend to build up, as I don't usually have the time to dedicate to blog reading, what with everything else in going on.

When you're doing archaeology, though, there's often 3-4 minute interrupts in the flow of the game as you move from one place to another.  Do you know what I discovered about all that time on the taxi going from one location to another in pursuit of a new dig site?

Prime blog reading time.

Survey, dig, survey, dig, survey, dig.  Fly to the nearest flight master.  Grab the taxi to the next dig site. Tab out to Google Reader and read a stack of blog posts. Tab back to WoW and fly to the next dig site.

Lather, rinse, repeat... and two hours later, I've caught up with my blog reading for the day, and racked up something like 400 archaeology fragments and solved a bunch of artifacts.


Conclusion: archaeology no longer sucks.

So, there you have it.  Archaeology is actually kind of fun now.  I still wish I could murder mobs for fragments or clues, but hey - what's there right now has managed to become more interesting than fishing, so I'll take it.  Granted, "more interesting than fishing" is a pretty low bar to beat, but at least the profession as a whole seems to be headed in a better direction.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got three more rare artifacts to find...