Saturday, February 28, 2009

Interview with The Light

1. What is your name, and where did it come from?
Fuubaar. I’m not quite sure where it actually originated from but I’ll tell you one thing, it says a lot about the way I do things.

2. How old are you, and what is your birthday?
My date of creation was May 5th at 6:30pm. I was born and raised in this beautiful place outside of Stormwind City. I absolutely love it there and often times I find myself wondering back to sit by the lake and think about the good ol’ days when life was much simpler.

3. Are you in love, and with whom?
I know that I am not the first Paladin to fall for the “wrong guy” but every time I see that warlock, I can’t help but think, “I wonder what he wears under those Robes?” *day dreams*

4. What is your favorite mount, and why?
I love my Charger very much. He has been with me through it all but I just can’t help myself when I’m flying on the back of my Gryphon. Her snowy white feathers make me feel like I’m floating on a cloud above Northrend without a worry or a care.

5. Do you prefer a certian type of Azerothonian meal, and where do you get it from? Take out, or dine in?
I love fishing for my dinner. I take great pride in what I eat and it better be top notch! My new favorite right now that makes me feel invincible is Dragonfin Filet. It is so mouthwatering that I won’t eat anything else.

6. You know those giant mushrooms in Zangarmarsh? What is your theory on how they came to be, and why they are so huge?
To be honest, I’m not quite sure where you came up with that question from but I guess if you must know my thoughts on such matters, I will share. The standard for the name "mushroom" is the cultivated white button mushroom, Agaricus bisporus, hence the word mushroom is most often applied to those fungi (Basidiomycota, Agaricomycetes) that have a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) on the underside of the cap. The reasoning for their greatness in size is mainly due to their intensely moist surroundings and the lack of interaction with humanoids within the area. Mushrooms are rather fascinating aren’t they?

7. If you saw the Lich King walking towards you, what would you do?
I have seen him skulking around a few times when I have been out and about in Northrend as of late. I cannot wait until that perfect moment that I can put an end to his madness and make him feel that pain that he has brought upon our world. I would walk right up to him, with my chest held high… kick him in the shin & Run like hell! Hmmmm. That sounded rather cowardly didn’t it.

8. Be honest, how many times have you used the Grizzly Hills outhouse without any real reason?
Lady Paladins do not discuss such things. Next question.

9. Would you steal ice cream from a Human child?
What a horrible idea! Stealing Ice Cream… wait… what flavor? Maybe if the kid seemed full and it was mint. He would want me to take it from him because he wanted to go out and learn more about the Light. Yes, Yes, then I would take this said Mint Ice Cream from this said child.

10. If you could enslave anything in Azeroth, what would it be?
Enslavement is only for people who are unloved. I already have too many people clambering to fight by my side. What would I do with one more? Unless, I could enslave that cute Warlock so I could find out what is actually under those robes…hmmmm.

11. (Mine) what spell are you most jealous of that you wish you could have?
Maybe the ability to heal others? … no, I already have that. How about the ability to tank the biggest bosses in the world?…. Nope, already can do that. What if I could Raise someone from the dead… Wow! I can do that too. Everyone else sucks!

Ok Abi, it's your turn over at Fear.Win. Have Fun!

Friday, February 27, 2009

An Interview With A Warlock

So apparently I've been tagged yet again by the lovely Miss Syrana. Being that it's friday and we didn't take down any new bosses in Naxx last night (though we did clear all of the arachnid wing, Noth, and Patchwerk in sort of ADD boss style), I figured we can go random off topic today. Just for the record, I'm going to be semi-in-character (I'm not normally an RP author, but this should be fun and I do love me some creative writing).

1. What is your name, and where did it come from?
Fulguralis. It's latin. Look it up. Apparently my creator enjoys naming things in Latin which is why the cute Death Knight's called Decedereful. Why Latin? Well, apparently he's Catholic too and Latin is kind of a thing with those types. *Shrugs*

2. How old are you, and what is your birthday?
What does age matter? Do people actually keep track of such things? I summoned my first Imp many seasons ago. 13 seasons to be precise. What a pain in the ass he turned out to be. The succubus was fun though... *Focus drifts*

3. Are you in love, and with whom?
Love is for the weak. I lust for firey passion, but my unfortunate Paladin companion usually thwarts my plans. I just haven't found a way to get her out of her armor yet... you know, so I can kill her. *Shifty eyes*

4. What is your favorite mount, and why?
My Dreadsteed. Is there a more impressive mount in all of Azeroth? I think not. *Crosses arms*

5. Do you prefer a certian type of Azerothonian meal, and where do you get it from? Take out, or dine in?
The Paladin cooks for me, and I don't complain. If it makes me stronger, I'll eat it. Lately its been a lot of roasted worg meat, which is fine since I prefer meat over any of that leafy crap any day. Don't even get me started on tasty cupcakes. I'd rather have a bad clam than any of that crap. *Grimaces*

6. You know those giant mushrooms in Zangarmarsh? What is your theory on how they came to be, and why they are so huge?
Who the hell cares? *Waves a hand* What we should be concerned about is all these sodding Death Knights. I can't tell whether to be attracted to them or repulsed. What? One can't help admire the way they spread their diseases around. All that plate armor though? Reminds me of the Paladin...

7. If you saw the Lich King walking towards you, what would you do?
*Eyes light up* I would attempt to corrupt him. If that should fail, I will siphon his life while I come up with another plan. My plans rarely fail, however. *Scratches Chin* Perhaps being so cold, he might be especially susceptible to a Shadowflame.

8. (Dav added this one) Be honest, how many times have you used the Grizzly Hills outhouse without any real reason?
Never. I have minions for entertainment. Ever see a constipated Imp? *Evil Cackle*

9. (Sideshow and Syrana’s) Would you steal ice cream from a Human child?
*Frowns in thought* Will the ice cream increase my haste or spellpower? If so, then without hesitation, for what does the child need of those things? Perhaps an ice cream would have mana regenerative properties, though, being more akin to a liquid. In that case, no, I'll just "borrow" from my minion... or cut myself. That'd be preferable to a sticky sweet ice cream.

10. (Mine) If you could enslave anything in Azeroth, what would it be?
Alexstrasza, for just a couple hours *Goofy grin*. I hope she didn't hear that just now. *Looks nervously to the sky*

Okay, that's that. Hope you enjoyed it. As part of my tagging, I'm totally taking a cop-out and tagging Fuubaar, because its funny to tag your own blog. Plus, I think she'll enjoy doing this and then she can pick some blogs to spotlight maybe.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Jumping on the Ranting Bandwagon

Now, I've ranted on here before, but usually it's of my own accord. Today, however, I've been worked up into a frenzy by the wonderfully written posts of two talented bloggers and the resulting comment clusterfest that ensued. So, for context reference, please read the linked posts from BBBB and Forever A Noob. You'll see this is about the recent announcement on the mechanic change for dual speccing. Namely, that they're just now deciding that instead of using a lexicon of power in a city or providing a cool crafting option for scribes, they're just gonna do away with that gem and make it switch on the fly. Read the comments... yes, we're a polarized community on this issue right now. Okay, ready?



This is bullshit. Complete, utter bullshit. I'm with both the druid and the rogue on this. BULLSHIT.

Not the concept of dual speccing, mind you. /golfclap for dual speccing. It's a good idea. Yay helping hybrids not waste gold on respecs. Yay helping groups finding people. I'm going to marry a Paladin, I have to be supportive of dual speccing even though it does basically jack shit for me. I can see where it is helpful for her.

In fact, I was sort of looking forward to be able to mess around with specs. Visiting lexicons of power can be fun...

WTF were they thinking in changing that?! Seriously? Bring the player not the class... more like bring the hybrid not the nerfed to shit pure DPS classes. Why on Azeroth would one want a pure DPS class now? Name one reason? Utility? Pscch... nothing you can't get elsewhere. It certainly isn't for our ability to out DPS a hybrid, or for our usefulness with tanking and healing, or anything.

I don't even give a shit about the rest of the "goodness" of dual speccing. This one change completely breaks the game for pure DPS. Go back to the old way, Blizz, before its too late, please. You're still only in PTR, there IS time to see the light (don't look at the Paladin!).

Keep dual speccing, yes, certainly. Allow people to be ported to Dalaran, talk to a book for free, and be summoned back. Allow scribes to even bring a few crafted books with them to use like a repair bot, for those times you absolutely cannot port and such. Just don't let people do it ON THE FLY. That is where I draw the line of complete unfairness.

As a warlock, I've put up with some shit too. I've watched you basically make our pets worthless. BBB was talking about how we're analogous to hunters with pets that help us. Obviously he hasn't played a warlock recently, so he doesn't know how pitiful our pet DPS actually is. Its nice to have a pet, don't get me wrong, it's just... NOT a hunter pet. There is sort of a large DPS disparity between what Mr. BRK's pets do and what any warlock (even demo specced) can do.

I've watched you completely screw up fear, our "CC" ability (banish is great, but highly situational). Now, its practically useless in PvP and pretty much everything in PvE is immune to it. Even when the mobs aren't immune to it, they'll run into seven other groups and wipe the raid. When was the last time that fear was actually viable as a form of CC? Seriously?

I've watched our DPS completely tank as we refused to scale well at the level cap until hitting Naxx gear. I've seen numerous recent class changes that have negatively affected my ability to do my ONLY job (kill shit) and just been told "you're not broken, l2p". And I know even more changes are coming down the pipeline... so get out the lube!

Newsflash, warlocks don't offer a whole lot in the way of raid buffs, utility, or even raid food. We could do our job and be kicked right away: summon everyone, give out cookies, then replace with hybrid. What do we really have to offer? Most of my buffs get overwritten anyways (hence why they had to CHANGE the imp stam buff to health so it would be of some use).

And now, NOW you're just gonna finish the job and neuter me. Chop off my DPShood cleanly as if I were a complete dunce for just wanting to kill stuff in the first place. Man, I shoulda rolled a hybrid, right? Then I could do it ALL. No reliance on other classes to help me form a five man... lets just hybrid the hell out of it. Why do those other classes even exist again?

F that and F this change. I hope it doesn't go live like this.

I'd troll their boards, but it's just not me. I'll take it and keep trying to play the class I love. Luckily, the raid leader = me, so I probably won't be left out. And you know what, as a raid leader, I'm going to completely boycott this system. Sure, if you would like to change, I'll let you... but if you wanna stay in your tank spec and whack away at lower DPS, that's fine too. We're doing things "old school". You know, back when you needed to think ahead and make choices.

I'm going to take the people I take because they're good people and good players, not based on utility. Though I'm sure it may make some fights tough, because... hey, we should left our friends on the bench in favor of MOAR HYBRIDS. Whatever.

F-this rant, its not even good writing. I can't think straight about this issue.


I didn't want to write a very lengthy rant on the subject, but that's what came out. I hope someone out there feels my pain. The bear and the noob say it better, mostly. This is just where I stand on the issue. Polarize away. I'm sure I'll answer snarkily.

(Edit: Okay, I left the following comment over at /hug's counterpoint post (which is well written and worth a read if you feel so inclined), and I liked how I phrased it so I wanted to paste it on this to further clarify my point on the matter...

*Kal commented that he thinks there is a disconnect because he doesn't quite see where BBB is coming from*

Kal, I agree with there being a disconnect. I think we have tons of people arguing (always in a nice friendly manner of course) about a bunch of different things.

The main argument seems to center around dual specs, but the smaller arguments are about implmentations, limiting, cost, etc. Its very hard to separate out the issues. I think BBB’s argument was more that dual specs the concept = good, but that the implmentation, as it stands now, may create problems. In that, I agree.

There has to be some happy medium between just flip flopping on the fly or having barriers that are completely annoying. Personally, I thought being able to port out to a lexicon to swap for free and then being summoned back presented a tolerable, fair implementation. Plus, it gave the scribes something to do and that profession is in some need of some excitement.

My personal ire is directed towards the switch of the implementation to basically being “push of a button” anywhere you want it with no consequence. We can do better than that can’t we? To me, that completely breaks the point of speccing in trees and such. Why not just let everyone do everything in their tree then? Why spec at all? I mean, then we wouldn’t even have to deal with any of this right?

At some point, a line has to be drawn for it to continue being a challenging game and not just “god mode”. I think the disconnect exists where individuals draw that line and then we argue about different lines without realizing it. At least, that’s my long winded two cents.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Work Workarounds

Sometimes work gets in the way of doing more important things. Things like looking at pictures of the new T8 gear that is headed our way. As an engineer, I'm a problem solved by both nature and trade. Thus, I've come up with a way around that pesky work filter. I can haz Fuubaar! Then, I'll post them up here for the rest of ya's that face the same conundrum. So here ya go (all pics via Fuubaar via MMO Champion).

First, the Warlocky Gear, followed by Paladin, and then DK:

The crows seemed to be calling his name, thought Caw.

Brought to you by the Belly Dancers Assoc. of America (BDAA) and Bic Lighters.

Saving time by allowing you to insert food directly into your stomach.

Quoth the Fuubaar:

I will NEVER show the helm... kinda reminds me of Darthvader

I wanna punch the person who made that design up and punch his group for allowing him to put it in the game.

Thank you, you may now return to your regularly schedule procrastinations.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Patch 3.1 Warlock Thoughts

First, here is a list of the important (IMO) changes I've been able to round up from blogs at work. Most of this is from Yet Another Warlock Nerf, who is sadly closing his doors along with Phaelia over at Resto4Life. Check out my links on the right to see their latest posts and wish them well. The blogosphere will miss them both.

Patch 3.1 Warlock changes:

  • Curse of the Elements (Rank 5) - Increased to 13% spell damage, up from 10%.
  • Curse of Recklessness has been removed.
  • Curse of Weakness - Now also reduces the armor of the target by 5%.
  • Ritual of Summoning: The summoning of the initial portal is now instant cast, down from 5 seconds.

Affliction Specific Changes

  • Eradication re-designed: Eradication: When you deal damage with Corruption, you have a 2/4/6% chance to gain the Eradication effect. The Eradication effect increases the critical strike chance of your Shadow Bolt spell by 30%. Each critical strike reduces the critical strike bonus by 10%. Lasts 30 sec.
  • Haunt: Now only increases your shadow damage-over-time on the target. (No longer includes non-Shadow damage over time spells.)
  • Malediction: No longer increases the effect of Curse of the Elements.
  • Pandemic: This talent has been reduced to a 1-point talent, now grants your Corruption and Unstable Affliction the capability to critically hit.
  • Shadow Embrace: Now only increases the damage done by your shadow damage periodic spells.
  • Siphon Life: The Siphon Life spell has been removed. Siphon Life now causes your Corruption spell to instantly heal you for 40% of the damage done.
  • Suppression: Now increases spell hit for all of your spells.

Destruction Specific Change

  • Improved Shadow Bolt: Now increases the damage done by your Shadow Bolt spell by 1/2/3/4/5%, and causes your target to be vulnerable to spell damage, increasing spell critical strike chance against that target by 1/2/3/4/5%. Effect lasts 30 sec.

Okay, so looking at this, I'm kind of pissed. I must remind myself, this is only PTR, most likely this will not all go live as-is.

The generic changes are all fine, nothing earth shattering there, just nice to know. Not having a cast time for summoning the flasher stone is good.

The affliction changes, however, look more like a nerf to me. To be honest, I sort of like the haste bonus of Eradication. Probably not for the points, but its nice in boss fights to let you "catch up" sometimes if you've gotten behind on your DoT upkeep. Switching Haunt and Shadow Embrace to only affecting Shadow spells probably makes sense but it looks like a nerf to me. Basically, I'm going to be removing Immolate from my rotation yet again, since it will now not benefit from anything and be just a waste of cast time.

I feel I must interject here that if you look at the destro tree, immolate is getting some love there. I'm not sure if this is going to give us a choice to spec a bunch of points into destro to preserve the DoT's damage as opposed to just taking it out. Don't expect me to waste too much time trying to puzzle that one out though. I'm an angry warlock, remember? It seems to me like the point they're trying to make is Affliction can NOT haz fire. Point taken.

From the look of the new Eradicate, the Improved Shadow Bolt I included which is still low in the destro tree, and the change in suppression to cover all spells, it almost seems as is Blizz is pushing us to use MORE shadowbolts. With the expansion, we saw our s-bolt dependence cut in half, and now its almost as if they're saying "we wanted to do that, just not THAT much." Expect to spam more s-bolts in the very near future. Yet another reason to lose Immolate, in order to squeeze in that extra s-bolt.

The Pandemic change is probably a buff, so okay, that's cool. The siphon life change however is another straight nerf. I know their goal was to simplify the rotation by tacking that onto Corruption, however, we've lost yet another DoT due to these changes. Notice they are not preserving the damage component of the spell, only tacking on the healing to another spell. What happens to the glyph too?

Overall, what I'm seeing here is we're effectively getting two DoTs removed from our standard rotation, losing their damage without a buff elsewhere (I guess we'll have to see how the extra crit of UA and Corr helps that out), and having our dependence on shadow bolt spam increased.

Will the simpler rotation outweigh the overall DPS loss? Will the s-bolts pick up the slack along with some extra critting? I can't say I know. I have to admit it is possible that our damage stays the same across the board or even increases, it just looks like a nerf to me. I don't know why, when we all felt like crap, these are the changes we get. Perhaps my numbers on Patchwerk the other day were just a little *too* good. Who knows?

I guess we'll just have to wait and see what goes live, and hope it balances out overall.

Oh, and if you're looking for the DK changes, head on over to I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the warlocky ones, so I didn't feel the urge to write about them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bringing Your "A" Game

If you're familiar at all with sports, you may have heard an athlete referred to as being "in the zone". If you've ever participated in sports, you may have experienced this penomenon yourself. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about, the phrase refers to what happens when an athlete is so completely focused on the task at hand that it seems they can do no wrong. For instance, as a basketball player, you may feel that the size of the hoop has expanded to that of a bathtub, making shooting from anywhere infinitely easier. Now, visually, it is still the same size, you are just more aware, more in focus. You're "in the zone". Players expereincing this often preform at unsually high levels, going beyond previous bests to set new records.

I think the term can be carried over into the world of gaming as well. There are times when you are just "on". When you are hitting the right buttons at the right time and it everything just seems to flow. Last night, on our alliance's first time one-shot kill of Patchwerk, I was most definitely in the zone. How deep in the zone you may ask...


Yes, I broke 3k last night. Now, mind you, for most boss fights I was happy to have just recently broken the 2k mark. I have only one Naxx upgrade (The Gloves of Dark Gestures... which I find to be a rather silly name and makes me want to /rude a lot), the rest of my gear consists of heroic pieces (mostly of the blue variety), a crafted cape, a PvP hood, and that is it. I've gemmed them appropriately (using hit and SP whenever I can), but I've really only used green gems. I still haven't gotten my T7.10 chest upgrade (which will be huge for me I think).

I'm not sure how I put that number up there. I was unconscious. Dots flowed into Dots and became Super Dots. It was like playing connect four on steroids. "FOUR? /scoff. HOW ABOUT I CONNECT THEM ALL! /evilcackle" (okay that was bad). I was playing well, I guess is the point I'm trying to get across here.

So what? You might ask. Go pin a rose on your nose, right? Well, the reason I point this out is because I have been known in the pass to QQ about the state of warlocks. Recently though, I conjectured that perhaps we just didn't scale well until later, with longer living bosses. If the devs were using Patchwerk as a DPS benchmark, you may see why they keep saying that warlocks are "just fine". +1k DPS fine. I'm gonna dry my tears, take of my dress, and end this tea party. No more QQ here. I agree, get relatively geared and head to Patchwerk and you should feel echoes of your old badass self.

(Disclaimer: I don't normally like to pull a BRK and post damage meters, because they're really only a personal growth tool at best, but my jaw dropped at the number I put up... I had to. Obviously, my overall damage done was also very good on the fight, and that's usually what I look at, because you can do mad DPS, but if you're not consistently laying it down, you're not killing stuff very well. Topping charts is all well and good, but make sure you take gear and mechanics into account. Patchwerk is merely a good benchmark because the lack of anything else to do except DPS.)

So the good news is that as time progresses, we keep finding out that we're not as broken as we all originally thought. Also, it'll be nice if we do realize some of the changes that Blizz has mentioned might be in the werks (ha ha) for us.

I'll finish by including the group kill shot from our awesome team last night. We went on to two-shot Grobbulus too, which is great since it was almost everyone's first time in the wing. All in all, a good raid night, though we're still having problems with the stupid dance. Judging by how well we did with the complex Grobbulus fart cloud mechanics, I'm starting to think that our "dancing problem" is not two left feet, but too much lag. /hmmm.

Might As Well Jump

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I've Been Memed

Not maimed, but memed. Similar concepts, just one is more of a virtual compulsion to write on a topic and the other is, well, not similar at all.

In any case, if you haven't come across this one yet, you probably don't read blogs, so why are you here? If you're wondering, see Syrana's post here, wherein she tags yours truly. She also explains the rules, but as any good warlock would do, I'm breaking them all.

First of all, I have no subfolders, so I just went for the straight up sixth screenshot in my folder. It wasn't very cool so I went to number 7:
Disco Inferno

If you've read me for a while, you may recall my very first profile picture had a Shattrath background. Because I find it difficult to stand still for any extended period of time, I had to get a dancing shot as well.

Going the extra mile (because you can never stop at just one), I decided to go from the other end of my folder and look for number 6 there. It, too, was boring, so I decided to use a golf term and played the back nine. So here is the ninth from the end:
Look at the nice spring fall colors.

For this one, we were trying to get a cute V-day picture on our RP toons to use on here. I didn't end up liking any of them, but this one was all right I thought. I really need to get my guy a "pimp" hat to go along with the purple suit. It fits him well.

And finally, since by now I've completely broken the meme, I wanted to include the picture of success from my raid group's first clearing of the arachnid wing last night. I referenced it the other day, but forgot to send it to work for use on here. In case you're wondering, Generations currently raids as part of an alliance called the EGA ( If you're on Lothar and would like to join a fun, laid back group of folks who just want to see all the raid content, look us up. We're currently working on setting up a second Naxx team that I will be leading (with much help from others). Eventually we want to do 25 man content, so that everyone can save 10-man content for their guild. The cool thing about this is that it allows you to stay in a small guild of friends, but also have a large resource pool of helpful people. It really has been full of win.
Did Somebody Call For An Exterminator?

(Yes, that last caption is a Starcraft shoutout.)

And since pretty much everyone I know has been tagged, I think I'll just break that rule too. If you see this and want me to tag you to give you an excuse to look throw old photos... well, I'm sure we can work something out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Mailroom Is Now Open

As a blogger, one of the conundrums faced is how to provide contact with not just your readers, but other bloggers and such. I didn't really want to advertise my personal email address for obvious reasons, so I finally set up a gaming address for all things nerdy. Feel free to contact both Fuu and I there for whatever purpose. The address is written on the right. Say it, don't spray it 'cuz I wrote it that way to prevent bot spam (i.e. the AT=@ and DOT=. and there are no spaces, but you already knew that didn't you).

Do any bloggers know of a more clever way to do this on Blogger? I've seen a nifty button on some sites but I'm not sure where it comes from (can't find it in widgets). I also wanted to foil spam bots, so what I did seems like the easiest solution. It's just not very pretty right now. Oh well.

Also, as a fair warning, I'm not sure how often I'll check it. If you leave a comment telling me ya shot me a line, you'll probably get a much quicker response. Otherwise, maybe once a week depending on demand.


This has been a busy week at work and in-game.

Last night the guild alliance I run with cleared the arachnid wing for the first time. Woot.

The loot gods have forsaken me for the moment, so I'm just hoarding (not hording, no no) emblems in anticipation of scoring me some T7 goodness. The upside to everything is that I still have plenty of room for Naxx upgrades and I'm competing for top honors on the charts, usually topping 2k with room to spare. For the first two arachnid bosses I was tops (that last one is a PITA, especially since all of our 'locks were ranged, so we were all on web duty. I had to like... use destro spells, wtf?). Our rogue raid leader took tops on the other two bosses we were able to clear. Now that rogues can do AoE a bit, he puts up some really stellar numbers even with AoE pulls.

We need lots of help on the dance. Often it is only the Rogue and I that live through it, and I usually have aggro out of the two of us. Its pretty funny to spend all that effort surviving the green fire of death, and then get instantly one-shotted by the baddy when everyone else is dead. It's like... gee thanks. I did all that work for what? The good news is, as a group we're still in good spirits about it and so it makes the dying tolerable when you're having fun.

I'm also going to be picking up raid leading duties with the alliance. We finally have enough people that two groups is a good idea. We don't want to keep leaving people out, plus we're not quite to the 25-man hump yet. Thus, I get to pick up team two starting in March. Hopefully that goes well. I'll have to brush up on my strats... What's the best strat site for Naxx out there? I like "cliff notes" versions, not l33tist six-page walkthroughs. If that makes sense?

I had a pic, but forgot to bring it to work with me. Looks like that'll be some cheap weekend post fodder.

Advice of the week... I found this nifty AoE rotation that makes me feel super cool, puts up good numbers, and can often draw enough aggro to kill you. It's kind of "AoE'ing on the edge". What I've been doing is throwing out a seed shortly after the tank pulls (our tanks do a good job of getting their AoE threat auras up real quick i.e. consecrate, which is a must for this). So the seed will take a second, but as soon as the cast it up, I throw down on a rain of fire. Thus I have a RoF and Seed hitting at the same time. It really lights up the screen real pretty like.

Finally, I'll run in and finish off any remaining trash with a shadowflame... especially if they've run at me. It kinda makes the whole AoE thing a little more interesting that seed spam (which would be gross if you think about the mystery meat IRL and cooking it... seed spam, like soy milk only way more processed).

I've found this to be most effective on Naxx trash, especially that AoE area in the plague wing. With good DPS, you almost never need to repeat any parts of it... they die pretty quick. Take it or leave it, your choice, but its fun to make use of all of our AoE spells at once.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Like A Rock

I was perusing blogs yesterday, killing time at work between uploads of materials that shall remain nameless (press a button... wait 20 minutes... repeat). It's not really as bad as it sounds and I like the slow days, giving me time to catch up on my blog reading. In any case, the buzz seemed to be that a little niblet of a description has been release about Ulduar on WoW's website. The link I found (though I could not read at work), came from an European blogger apparently, but assure you, it's still valid. I know those EU servers can get quite boisterous, but it really is still the same game, verily.

In any case, here is the link for those that want to see for themselves. Otherwise, I will copy the important part of what I found in blue below:

Ulduar brilliantly illustrates the new design challenges and innovations that come with the bigger scope of the expansion’s raids. In order to make raid content more accessible, it has to offer a lot of variety, but it also needs to include a very granular means for players to adjust a raid’s difficulty. This concept was first realized in the Burning Crusade with the introduction of Heroic mode, and Wrath of the Lich King is developing the idea even further with new Hard Modes.Boss fights that have a Hard Mode are affected by certain variables which players can control and which change the encounter’s difficulty. For example, spread throughout Ulduar’s vehicle section are four defense towers you can destroy. The more towers you leave intact, the harder the encounter with the Flame Leviathan will be, but the loot will also be better.Ulduar isn’t the first dungeon to include Hard Mode, but it certainly makes the most use of it. Out of 14 bosses, 11 will have a Hard Mode that offers additional challenges and rewards. Ulduar will appeal to a wide range of play styles, but the dungeon also has great longevity and a high replay value.

The important part to notice up there is the addition of a "Hard Mode" to 11 of 14 bosses in Ulduar. I, for one, think this is an awesome direction. They sort of introduced it with the whole Sarth 3D thing (not the blue and red glasses, but the drakes), but it appears they're going to be taking it to a whole new level in the new raids.

Let us examine what this does for us for a moment. If you raid, you know that there is a requisite amount of learning required for every boss fight. Basically, you spend some time getting everyone used to the fight, then you start succeeding on a regular basis, and eventually progress to "farming" the content for rewards, getting the payoff from your struggles. The larger the raid you're doing (i.e. 25 man), the longer you're probably going to have to farm content to make sure everyone comes up to speed and gets thier just (or unjust, depending on your opinions) reward.

Somewhere in that cycle of raiding, you'll get a great many of your people geared up to the point where they become "overgeared" for the fights, but are not quite ready to move on. A lot of times this can result in disenchanted raiders who really want to "push on", sometimes at the expense of the people who have just been unlucky so far, or are not as fast as them.

Adding a hard mode greatly alleviates this issue. For those desiring to push on, a large part of the reason is probably that the fights no longer present a challenge. Enter, hard mode. All of a sudden, you can slowly ratchet up the difficulty of an already known fight to further hone your skills and not leave anyone behind. Talk about killing multiple birds with one stone!

I think what you'll see happening is that groups will be better prepared for future content, and more likely to replay the old content for the challenge. It's one thing to clear Sarth, it's another to clear Sarth 3D. For that one instance, its almost like having 4 dungeons in one, without having to go to the annoyance of completely learning a new fight. You're really just adding on a tricky mechanic here or there. What a good way to learn to raid, right? You see how clever and smooth that is?

With one simple mechanic, Blizz has added something that appeals to everyone. More difficult encounters for the hardcore crowd and a smoother learning curve for the more casual kids. Above it all, you get to choose. It's not like a fight is being forced on you to learn something, or you're being forced to re-run heroics to "get a hang" of things. You're just tacking things onto what you're already going to do anyways. Am I the only one that's really excited about the promise of "hard mode"?

I may never get to the "hardest mode", but I can still see content. I can use "hard mode" to train my raiders without having to learn a bazillion boss fights. I can satisfy the "phat lootz" crowd without jumping too far ahead in progression. A lot of times, Blizz bumbles around with ideas before they get them complete right (see my feelings on achievements), but this is one I think they might have nailed on the head. I guess we'll see when this stuff actually goes live.

Also, riding a motorcycle into battle = pure win.

(Lengthy non-wow related aside explaining the picture: If you don't know, Bob Seger is who sings the popular song "Like a Rock" that used to be heard on Chevy truck commercials. When I was about 12 years old, I really liked The Offspring. It was about this time that their CD "Smash" came out and I wanted it. It was also around this time that "Parental Warnings" were becoming the hip thing. (aside of the aside: yes, I'm a 90's kid)

Anyways, I begged my mom to get the CD, but she was sceptical because of the warning. As any good kid would do, I tried to convince her that I'd already heard all of the songs anyways at a friends house and that there really was only one or two swear words (Bad Habit has a few...). She was still sceptical (go figure), but made me a deal. If I would buy a CD with "good music" on it, I could also get the one I wanted with "crap" on it.

Adjacent to the Circuit City display of The Offspring's Smash was Bob Seger's Greatest Hits picturing a badass old dude holding a guitar on a countryside. Completely non-threatening to a parent probably, but also not horrible for an adolescent boy. I asked her if this would work after looking at the back. I think the Chevy commercials were airing around then too, since I remember recognizing some of the songs and thinking "eh, its not bad" (Night Moves anyone? still one of my favorites).

Long story short, I got both CDs and enjoyed both CDs. One got to be played on the car stereo on the ride home, the other stayed in my personal walkman for a stint. Both marked my first personal purchase of music and really set the tone for my future musical tastes. Hence, I'm a melding both of classic rock and newer alternative rock (if you can classify Offspring that way).

In any case, after coming up with a title of "Like a Rock", it was only too fitting to find a picture of the rock star on a motorcycle, even if it only vaguely went with the post.(/story time over))

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hump Day

And in case you haven't heard that term for Wednesday before, rest assured it is not obscene (though I thought it was the first time I heard it and was like... whaaaa?). What it means today is that I'm halfway done with a busy week and going to be a bit lazy.

First off, here is the picture I referenced yesterday. Love it. And I totally dropped that wyrm yesterday first try style. He can eat snow and die.


Secondly, Skeleton Jack presents us with a great blood spec here. It isn't the one I'm personally using, but since I've tried to be blood from the start, I can at least relate. After rolling a DK on Abi's server and going with a Frost DPS spec though, I think I might have to switch to that. Great burst damage with frost, but blood can obviously put out some good numbers. HS is just plain win.

Lastly, speaking of Abi over at Fear.Win. I wanted to link his take on achievements since I'd been talking a lot about them on my blog. He states his view well and I'd have to say I agree with most of it. I've stated that I hate the "there's always next year" line, mostly because there may not be next year. We could all move on to a new game. I'll grant that I don't see it at this point, but its not like anyone predicted the rampant success of WoW either. Hopping from RTS games to the MMO world was laughable when first conceived.

I also agree that nearly all the achievements now are "time sinks". I guess I just think there are enough places to sink time in the game already. Blizz can do better than achievements, AND make them more valid/respected. Some show promise of this, while others are a joke. I stand by that I dislike the attitude that has arisen during the holidays from the drive to get the drake (and other rewards). If you're going to sink time, do it on something you enjoy, regardless of the reward. Do you play the game for the pixels or for the people? If you've read me a bit, you'll know where I stand.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This Is What Happens When Fuu Gives Me Extra Coffee

So apparently I'm going to work on getting exalted with Sons of Hodir now. You see, I hit 77 with my DK over the weekend and that means flying training again. I'm about 2k gold short of my second epic flying skill, and I'm not sure I can tolerate slow flying again. It's sort of the same as what I always say about stacking haste on Warlock gear. It's completely like a drug addiction. If you've never had it, you don't miss it. However, as soon as you taste the new speed, you're hooked on it. Take it away and you go through withdrawal. I don't recommend stacking haste (or doing drugs), especially to the detriment of many of the other stats (or your life), but boy does it make me feel fly (not the drugs part, the analogy ended a while ago... catch up).

In any case, flying (yes, I purposefully used "fly" earlier in a different context because I'm nerdy and thought it was a funny segway) around on a slow bird makes me feel antsy, so I decided its time to go back and grind some on my main. The money is faster, and I could use the rep. I can't say there is much there gear-wise that excites me. I have the 30 SP and mp5 head enchant right now. I know I have no use for mp5, but the 30 SP is tasty. I'm thinking that I'll switch for the slightly less SP on the SoH head enchant since it also gives a nice bit of crit. I'd rather not waste stats if I can help it.

The 22 slot bag pattern will be nice, but the mats are pretty steep right now. I wouldn't mind having the fun mammoth mount too (the 900G one, not the 9K gold, though if I preform a WoW heist soon, maybe I'll magically get 9k).

The dailies around there aren't a bad way to pick up some crystallized earth and fire too, since you usually run across revenants that drop them. Sort of like in TBC when I did the Fire over Skettis daily and then farmed up a Primal Water on the way back to town. I don't really need the Earths, but I know a good alchemist who can transmute them to something useful for me.

All of the dailies are pretty easy, except one. If you've done them, you know the one. The stupid spear and kill a wyrm quest. It definitely takes some getting used to. Having him drop me from the sky to my death really sucked. Warlocks totally should be able to do something to mitigate falling damage (even if its on a long cooldown so as not to be useful all the time). Mages and Priest both have things right? Clothies do spells, spells save lives... Warlocks, kill? You're right, I guess mitigating falling damage doesn't really go with our street rep. Bring on the falling damage!

In any case, to be successful at killing the wyrm, I've found you need to basically alternate the quick attack and the grip buttons constantly, throwing in the powerful attack whenever the cooldown is up. You're gonna wanna try to throw in a dodge when he swings he claws, but don't worry, it's not on GCD so it doesn't mess with your rotation. Once you get to phase two (in his mouth), just spam the first button until you get lowish on health or feel luck and then hit the second. I'm not sure what to look for in the second phase other than having "pried" a bit before trying to stab him in the mouth. After you kill it, you're not going to want to try another one just for grins.

It has been recommended to learn this fight in the buff, so as not to damage your gear, but keep in mind you'll probably lose a good chuck of stamina in the process. The rest of your stats don't really help out, but having that extra health is nice. I have a good picture of me zipping off to fight au naturale, but forgot to send it to work... maybe I'll put it up tonight for grins.

Doing all of the dailies nets you a decent amount of rep, plus ~120G before repairs. All in all, not a bad way to spend an hour. (I rather do do a lot of asides, apologies, but parenthesis are totally "in", at least in my world. Perhaps I'm on drugs after all if I think parenthesis are cool. Can you be on drugs and not know it? Is that like how crazy people don't know they're crazy? If you time traveled and saw yourself would your head explode?)

(We would like to apologize again for the asides. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked, have been sacked. /headdesk).

Monday, February 16, 2009

Heartbreak Hotel

Syrana's sad story over at her blog seems to be a common thing amongst holiday revelers. That is to say, I heard a lot of QQ over the latest Blizz installment of Holiday Achievement Shenanigans. It seems candy bags were quite hard to come by. Not that Syrana was by any way the worst. In fact, she takes one of the healthier views towards the whole thing, but I think she has enjoyed the holiday stuff for quite some time now, bringing me to my point of the day.

Regurgitating what I said in a comment over on Syrana's post: I think achievements may have been the worst thing to happen to holiday fun since leaving your Christmas lights up all year became socially acceptable. That is to say, they completely cheapen the whole experience for me. It's not longer just a fun bit of stuff to change up the normal routine, it's a clusterfest to get achievements and titles and eventual rewards. The reward used to be self-provided, in the fun you had while doing the events. Now, people just complain and shoot only to get that "check" on their list of things to do. It seems to me we may have lost the spirit of these events somewhere along the way. Sure you could get a really cool drake eventually, but at what cost?

I got my sexy dress for a few of my toons and helped Fuu out a bit, but otherwise steered clear of the holiday stuff again. I had fun leveling my DK over the weekend and running the occasional heroic. I ran a few Clustergrasps and bought some gear, did some crafting. You know... the usual. And you know what? At no time was I completely stressed because "ZOMG the festival ends in 5 days!"

So sorry to all of you, who, like my Fuubaar, fell heartbreakingly (yes, I made that word up) short of the achievement this year through no fault of your own. Sorry for your bad luck in love. Sorry for your wasted time. I'd hope you can say you at least had a little fun doing it though, because, if not, you have no one to blame but yourself. Sorry to sound harsh, but there has just been tons of negative comments flung at Blizz in recent days because of a stupid achievement. I'd rather they spent their time developing some more raid content for us or fixing my semi-busted class. Nope, they were flooded because we couldn't get f-in candy bags.

I understand that people really want the whole 310% drake at the end and probably the title, but still... those are just perks of the game. You can do everything in the game WITHOUT them. It's supposed to be FUN, not work. And that is why I think achievements have ruined the whole holiday thing. Take away those epic rewards, and what motivates you now? Would people be nearly as pissed if they were only missing out on completing EVERY bloody quest, though it gave them no achievement, no title, no drake? Probably not. Think about it.

So am I saying STFU? No, not really, just that Blizz is kind of creating their own headaches by offering sweet rewards for lucky drops and frivolous quests. I wish they gave cool rewards for some of the more "normal" parts of the game. Maybe that's just me though.

I love the holiday decorations and neat little items by the way, I just don't like the attitudes that go with them. And in the end, we can't blame Blizz for our collective attitudes.

If you're a Warlock who was not obsessed with pitying your love fool, you may have caved and picked up the 25 EoH off-hand to go with your Cursed Lich Blade from Heroic Drak'Tharon. They are a pretty good pre-naxx pair if you ask me. Then again, maybe that's just me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

From my DK, because I don't think my Warlock says it quite as well.

"Be mine... Forever" /tincancackle

Friday, February 13, 2009

Achievement Malaise, What Are They Good For?

So this is a post based on my other half's comment from yesterday. She made a couple good points, but I also felt a bit misrepresented by it. I started to respond and it quickly turned into a long winded diatribe, so I decided to make it a post of its own. I think it'll speak for itself...

First, here is a copy of what Fuubaar wrote, in case you don't want to check comments (or can't):
My whole mentality about these Festival Achievements is that not every joe shmo should be able to do it. They make it hard enough that it's a challenge to finish (325 cooking for the Merry Maker, having to visit every elder in the world aka time,etc.) Blizz didn't want to make these Luck based because too many people would bitch but making it so that you actually feel like you've accomplished something by the end, now There's the Achievement!

Ful gets upset about the time part because he only does it for ten minutes then throws his arms up in dismay. "What do I get out of this?" Well, mister, you can get a title, a sexy dress, and a slew of other things that are only Vanity. These things are there to make you more unique than other Human Warlocks. Even if you had the ultimate Gear in End Game Raiding, there is bound to be someone that is going to look just like you. That frustrates some people.

Anyways, I've heard the arguments regarding the Festival Achievements and their requirements. I do feel bad for the people who aren't 80 yet and want the title but there is next year.

So my first thought was: this sounds like a lover's quarrel... how topical :-)

Background: For those of you that don't know us, Fuu and I usually sit in the same room while playing and have these arguments in person, like any good nerdy couple. Then I get to pontificate on my blog, but made the mistake of giving her the address ;-). Thus, when she's saying I throw my hands up saying "what's in it for me?", she's usually right.

My second thought was: Sounds like Fuu wants to take care of Holiday posts from now on! :-D

But then I got serious:
First of all, I agree that it should be a smidgen difficult, but when you only have a week or so to do it, I don't want to spend 4-5 hours a night trying to beat my way through stuff just to get it done. The difficulty should be commensurate to the length of time offered.

Secondly, I dislike requiring you to basically get the achievement on a level 80 toon. I like to customize my toons a bit differently from each other. My 'lock is my main and my raider. He doesn't believe in frivolous BS titles like "Merrymaker" because it has nothing to do with raiding and is not warlocky at all. This isn't to say I'm RP'ing, just that when I'm on my main, my goal is to kill stuff, not run around doing various crap for a spiffy title.

My DK, on the other hand, she likes to look good. Getting a sexy dress for her is fun (I've mentioned I don't like the male clothes, so that may be part of it). I'll do random stuff on her because its fun to run around and do random things as a Death Knight. I mean, everyone likes to faceroll every now and then right? I like raiding better on my 'lock, but questing better on my DK. Is that odd? When you look at how squishie and slow an affliction 'lock is compared with at plate-wearing badass like my DK, its pretty obvious why questing on one would be easier than the other. Besides, DK is the new hotness. It's satisfying to go in and beat your head on stuff instead of trying to be all strategic like on my 'lock.

Differing playstyles aside, when you're going after a holiday title and yet you know from the start that a level barrier is going to prevent you from completing all the stuff (you'll be one measly little thing short), it really takes the motivation out of it. So, okay, I got my pretty dress, now what? I would have loved to get the "love fool" title on my DK cuz its funny. She's my crazy Kate Beckinsale hellion wannabe that I can faceroll on and still be cool. Mind you, facerolling for a warlock is probably still playing normal for a hunter (jk jk), but my point is that I don't min/max on her like I do on my 'lock. For her, it's about the look, and having a silly title to go with the look is totally a part of that. "Love Fool" would have been a good one, but there is no way I'm going from 76-80 in 7 days.

Also, saying "Wait until next year" is a total cop out. What if by next year they push out a new expansion (not likely I know), but still if you always took that mentality and you were always behind the "curve", then you'd never get the "fun" stuff. Especially when you're dealing with alts. It should be accessible NOW imo, since they could always change it next year too. With so many changes, who knows where the game will be in a year? I mean *gasp* we may even have all moved on to the next big thing. Again, not likely, but you know it's going to happen eventually. Even if it is WoW 2 or World of Starcraft or something else by Blizz. None of us are fortune tellers, so we have no idea what the future holds.

Besides, even with it being a PITA, every Joe Schmoe DOES do the achievements, or at least a high percentage. It's like when the Jenkins title first came out... everyone and their brother went and got it. Now, granted it was easy, but still. Who wasn't a Jenkins? My warlock, for one. At first, I thought it was cute and thought about getting it. Then when I saw 100+ more people with the title, I thought "why?" Fuu was talking about trying to differentiate by offering these sort of things, but I disagree. I think it almost makes us MORE the same. Blizz HAS to make it so a lot of people can do it, so its a necessary evil.

I think it's my opinion that they should either make it trivial enough that its easy to get, so that the people who have it are the people who really WANT it. -OR- Make it so ridiculously hard that you have to spend half a year to get it, so again, you really have to want it. But even that flies in the face of what I really want them to do.

What I'd REALLY like to see are achievements added that award titles for feats that DON'T just take an inordinate amount of time to get. It's like we're only rewarded titles for putting in tons of time (which makes sense with the current business model), but I guess I crave something that says "I'm a good player" not "I can spend more time on stuff than you". A lot of them are of the format of doing "x" amount of "y". Some of these even put people who didn't play before say, TBC, at a significant disadvantage. While I'm okay with rewarding people who have played longer, most of these end up becoming "farm" quests for bored people. Does the title really say anything other than they were willing to "farm" old content for a title? Show me the title that someone got just for being "good". Show me the title that says "if you bring this person in to the raid, they won't be an asshat." (And think of how useful that title would be, ha! We have in LFG: Soandso The Douchy... welp looks like we're gonna have a rough PuG today!).

Right now, I'm not sure such a title exists, and I really don't have a good solution for how to determine that. I mean there are some cool titles, but it seems like they all take a TON of time to get. How do you reward someone for just being good at the game? I guess bigger question would be "What makes a good player?" Plenty has been conjectured on that, and I think there is a general consensus among players on some traits that a "good" player would have.

For instance, I was talking about our OT doing the "little" things yesterday. It would have been fitting if he could have been given a title that says: "The Badass LoS'er" You could even do the clever Blizz play on words joke, like: "Achievement Unlocked: Way To Be A Loser!", get it? But how do you reward one for going above just "doing their job" when its hard to notice most of the time anyways? I mean, its not like you had to "put in the time" to get something like this, you just had to have an awareness of a particular situation and know how to react. Also, then how would you deal with people who just do it on purpose to get the title (ergo "faking" being a good player)?

I'll give you that some are better than others. Personally, I like the Loremaster title, as it shows you've experienced a lot of the lore and probably know your way around. Still, it is more based on spending a lot of time doing something, rather than having skill. Plus, being a post TBC player, it means I have to go back and "farm" old content to some extent. Some of the group boss fight achievements (like Oh Novos!) are good too, but they don't reward titles.

Clearly, I don't really have a good solution to fixing how I feel about achievements, which is one of the reasons I don't write about them very much. They're fun and give people a "to-do" list. They keep people with ADD (Fuu) actively attentive (which in and of itself is a feat of strength). They just fail to excite me personally. I always question, what does this really say, if anything? Does it describe my playstyle or character in any way? Does it tell people anything other than "I can look stuff up on WoWhead and follow instructions for a long period of time?" How do we reward the people that are just "good"? How do we make the titles actually *feel* epic?

I guess I just wanted to say that when I throw up my arms and ask "what's in it for me?", I'm not just whistlin' dixie; I really have put some deep thought into it. I just can't figure out how to feel about it.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Oh For The Love of Love.

Yes, Fuu roped me into doing some "love" quests. Since my warlock refused to go, I took my DK instead. Apparently I was quite lucky with a bunch of the earlier stuff, so I quit while I was ahead, having gotten a couple lovely dresses for her and knowing I wasn't going to be able to do the title being under 80. I think its kind of dumb that these require you to be 80. I could understand 70, but if you're catering to casual players, I know some who aren't quite to 80 yet. Are you punishing people who took their time? This makes me wonder if Blizz has in their master plans how long it *should* take someone to level. Like, a portrait of their "ideal" player.

It's obviously not a hardcore person, because they'd burn through stuff too fast and then be a nag. But this is evidence that it's not an uber casual person either, someone who would take their time to smell the roses (so to speak). I guess that makes sense then, shooting straight down the middle and hoping for the best. You can't please all of the people all of the time and all that jazz.

Long story short, I will NOT be a love fool this year. It's not really manly or warlocky, so I passed. I did hop over to my RP toon to pick up the purple suit for my belf DK. I'm gonna grab him a red pimpin' hat too. Anyone know where I can get a snazzy cane?

And why is it that all of the male's pants in suits look like you're wearing spandex? Are we really supposed to go around pumping our fingers through the air and declaring ourselves to be two "wild and crazy guys"? Is that what they're going for? If so, I'd really like that emote. If not, give me some saggy jeans ftw. Or at least normal, non form fitting dress pants. Frivolous complaint? You betcha!

I did have a point to these random musings. Your nugget of wisdom for the day (or something). If you're into dress up, RP, looking cool, or switching lots of gear, get an addon called "Outfitter". I don't have a good picture of the interface in use, but when running around all you'll see is a nice little entry on your bar (or minimap if you don't use Fubar). Here's the bad pic...

Woot For Tiny Paint Circle @ Top

In any case, the cool part about this addon is it lets you pre-arrange sets of gear into titles like "Normal, Birthday Suit, Battlegrounds, etc" and also lets you define your own (i.e. "Casual"). Then, by just clicking on the bar icon, you can drag down to the title and ,Viola, you have on the set you want, instantly and heralded by a cacophony of bag sounds.

It's probably more useful for a hybrid, but I've found it fun to use on my Warlock as well. One of the things I like doing it ditching my spell hit gear when I run into Clustergrasp in favor of some better PvP type items. It's not a complete second set, just a few choice items. Outfitter makes this a snap.

So that's your nugget of the day. I'll actually be gone the next two as I leave for a coaching clinic. In case you haven't read the short blurb about me on the left, I do moonlight as a high school assistant football coach, which requires going to some clinics and a lot of my time in the fall. If you know nothing else about Indiana, know this: High School football is some serious business. Not quite what you hear about Texas, but pretty good all the same. Friday Night Lights and all that stuff... But you didn't come here for that :-).

Edit: Found this over at TSF and had to link it... In case you were wondering if that damned Ice Stone has melted: I lol'ed at work, which always earns stares.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Off Tanks Be Praised! -or- A "Normal" Night's Run

We got to do some of the more traditional heroics last night. We ran the Culling of Stratholme and then Drak'Tharon, both of which are pretty easy if you are running with a good group of people. We had a few wipes, but nothing repeated or frustrating, just normal stuff that happens. I wanted to relate two events that happened last night in the course of these runs. The first of which exhibits a really good job by an off-tank (so take notes), and the second is just a funny thing that happened.

So first, off-tanks, listen up. You're probably not reading my blog since what the heck does a warlock have to say about off-tanking, but just in case, like me, you're a game mechanic affectionado, this may be of interest to you. (aside: I'm pretty sure most of my readers are game lovers rather than warlock-centric players anyways, so this is for you guys too).

In our guild, we have a wonderful DPS warrior who usually has the job of off-tanking our five man runs. Also, Fuu (as the main tank) is geared well enough and a pally to boot, so she usually doesn't have much trouble with adds and such. This usually results in a boring job for an OT, so ours spends most of the time just DPS'ing like the rest of us, and does a very good job at it. However, one service he provides that would make me bring him to any raid, any day of the week, and twice on Sundays is a great sense of game awareness.

Awareness has been talked about before, and really is the hallmark of a great player. As a raid leader, you can only do so much. What happens when you get that crazy glitch, or things aren't exactly how they're supposed to be? Hope for a good group of players with awareness. You can't put a price on it; it's an intangible. I don't care what your DPS is, if the group doesn't live, it don't matter. If you don't have awareness on your team, you're going to wipe more than you need to.

What our wonderful OT did last night was nothing that got applause, big numbers, or even necessarily the attention of the rest of the group. I, however, noticed in a big way. You see, when you do CoS there is the point in the instance where you are sandwiched between two wyrmkin spawns. Arthas is pretty much an idiot in this instance, so he really makes a tank's job hard. Fuu dropped a consecrate and shot towards the other end, pulling three of the four mobs to her. The fourth was, of course, a caster.

The little bastard stayed put and threatened to break aggro to run after our healer, a scenario all too common in even the most routine of pulls. What our OT did that made me want to hug him (in a very manly/warlocky way... maybe hug and drain some of the mana he doesn't have?) was taunt the ranged and then run to hide behind a nearby pillar. This of course caused a line of sight issue for the caster who ran at him. Seeing the caster come into the area of our MT's consecrate, he popped out and jumped back on the kill order, letting the consecrate naturally pull the mob off. We easily finished off the group, and no one was the wiser. Maybe our healer noticed an extra heal was needed, but that's probably about it. It all happened so quick and seamlessly.

I mean, I didn't have to tell him to do it, and most people would probably have missed that little tidbit, but it is the little things like that that make him a great OT. I think people often underestimate just how useful a smart off tank can be. They can make potentially hairy pulls such as these a cake walk. They can save healers and clothies alike. Don't underestimate the value of an aware OT! So thanks go out to to our wonderful OT for all the cool stuff he does. Mind you, he still put out ~2k DPS and gave me a run for my money on the charts, all the while doing the little things along the way. It's those kind of things that really make a raid leader smile, and show how much a truly "good" player brings to the table. And none of them are gonna show up in a screenshot of a damage meter.

Could we have succeeded with an "average" player? Sure, but it's the little things that save you on the tougher runs. Next time you think that "off-tanking" is for the lazy or undergeared, think again! A good off tank can make or break some pulls.

I'll be quicker on the second topic, promise. I talked longer about that than I anticipated, but it was well warranted.

The second short story was on the final boss of Drak'Tharon, the prophet. If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate case where your healer dies about 30 seconds into the fight... take heart! It is not a wipe! You can still win. We proved it last night. No, we didn't have anyone that could off heal (Warrior, 'lock, and hunter being the other people apart from shammy healer and Pally MT). I suppose, in retrospect, we could have had the warrior pick the boss up and the pally step back to heal, but we didn't do that either. Besides, Fuu had garnered enough aggro to make that route difficult at best.

You see, the nice thing about this boss is that you get periodically changed into a skeleton that can heal itself. As a 'lock, your Dots keep ticking too, meaning in skele-mode, the boss will probably run at you as aggro resets despite your DoTs still being up. This makes a nice like flip flopping of aggro between you and the MT that will let her/him heal up and you get to do some tanking. In this manner, we got through the fight. Of course, the end was when the boss ran at me in human form (the only one left up) and one-shotted me, succumbing to my DoTs immediately afterwards. But fear not, for there was a soulstoned pally FTW. I guess you could say we wiped and won at the same time. How often do you do that? :-D

Oh yeah, and I picked up a not-so-free drake after dinging exalted with WA too. All in all, a good night!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Free Drake Rides With Purchase Of Boss Fight At Regular Price

I already commented on this over on Abigore's post about the Malygos fight, but I felt the urge to expand on my feelings about such fights.

You see, last night Fuu, two other guildies, a PuG (who was great by the way), and myself ventured into Oculus for the first time. We just went regular, which should be a breeze for us right? The PuG was the only one of us who'd been in there, and he/she was extremely patient with explaining things to us which was really nice. Especially since I'm pretty sure this person wasn't a native English speaker.

The point of this run was to breeze through it, get me my Northrend Dungeon Master achievement so I can make our healer his Wispcloak. He had all the mats, and I was only one dungeon short. No duh, right?

Most of the instance was a breeze. I mean, Fuu is a raid geared tank, I'm pushing around 2k DPS, the healer is a talented shammy, and we had two hunters who also could push the DPS pretty well. In short, as long as our feet were on the ground, we pwned.

I really liked the look of the instance. It's neat that you can fly there when not in the instance and see the same platforms, yet now you're battling for them. From a lore point of view, its decently epic. Plus, I love dragons and interacting with them.

Fighting from the back of a Drake is another thing entirely. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this. On one hand, what's there not to like? I mean, you can shot fire from your mouth (or whatever) and really bring the pain. You defy the laws of physics on the back of a flying lizard. You are, in a word, badass. It's something you haven't done in an instance before, so its certainly novel. It's not the same old grind, and that's good, right?

On the other hand, my feet were no longer on the ground. Our group, unstoppable on the ground, now suffered defeat at the hands of our enemy in the air. We had trouble staying together, we aggro'ed tons of little annoying mobs, we died, parachuted, and died some more. It was, in a word, annoying.

Perhaps part of the frustration was that, where we were completely over prepared for the instance on the ground, in the air we saw none of these benefits. I mean, the drakes don't scale well with gear I guess (I'm pretty sure they don't scale at all). So what good is it to be overgeared for an instance that you'd like to just "knock out" for fun when you completely lose all of the benefit. We might as well have done it on heroic, right? Then we probably would have died more on the drakes, but I'm guessing they get similarly buffed in heroic mode, so maybe not. I'm sure the bosses would be harder, but then we get emblems.

So I guess what I'm left with is this complete sense of ambiguity best exemplified by two members of my group who were polar opposites. My pally tank familiar loved the fight. She thought it was crazy cool and enjoyed doing something different. Maybe its the tank part, maybe its her, who knows? Our healer pal found the whole thing to be just downright annoying and even made the comment "remind me not to come back here any time soon". Maybe its the healer part, maybe it's him, who knows?

The point is, I'm somewhere in between. I liked watching what I was doing on the screen as the battle raged on, but I'm not sure whether I liked being the one controlling the battle or not. Maybe it would have been just as cool for me to just watch a cut-scene. Maybe its the DPS part, or maybe its me, who knows?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lazy Link Monday

I'm not feeling a full fledged post today, so I'm giving you some good alternatives. Johnny, tell 'em what their choices are!

*Announcer's Voice*

Behind door number one we have a lovely post from the beautiful and exotic Syrana expanding on the idea of using World of Warcraft as a source of hope and inspiration. Sideshow and Syrana... Sarcasm is just one more service they offer!

Behind door number two we have warlock patch 3.1 "pre-"information brought to you by the mysterious and shadowy Abigore at the Fear.Win blog! When all else fails, remember to Fear. Dot. Win. (See the comments for my thoughts on the issues... yes, I'm THAT lazy today).

And for the recently risen, we have Blood Spec Death Knight levelling advice from The Stoppable Force. What happens when a stoppable force meets a movable object? This and more courtesy of TSF!

Thank you Johnny, let's see what fate has in store for our contestants!

Okay, that was shameless and fun, even if completely pointless. I really did say all I wanted to in the comments on Abi's post. I love that Syrana "daylights" as a case manager and finds wow an inspiration for that (because we all know our true jobs involve WoW). TSF does a wonderful job making a case for those of us who enjoy the blood spec. I'm a completely wonky "healer utility" blood spec that does a pretty respectable amount of damage. It's very similar to what he outlines and is really great for doing instances with fewer than 5 (sometimes minus a healer) and/or soloing nearly anything. Sure, it's probably not the awesome max-DPS raid spec, but it IS fun. I was doing about 1400 DPS as a 75 in Nexus the other day. Why I was in Nexus at 75 is a different story, but fun all the same.

I got to run a bunch of heroics this weekend too and am hovering just at the 2k DPS range on my 'lock. I love fighting for the top spot in charts again thanks to being decently gear. My only real upgrades have been the Deathchill cloak, the epic hood from Wintergrasp, gemming everything correctly, and the Lich Blade from heroic Drak'Tharon. Everything else is pretty much quest blues (even a few greens). This bodes well for my future upgrading activities. I still really need that chest piece, and, now, a good off-hand (I may pick up the off-hand first...).

Always Remember to Spay and Neuter Your Druids

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pawn Pleas

So at the advice of a fellow min/maxer (much more hardcore than I), I decided to give the addon "Pawn" a try. The basic premise behind this addon is that it allows you to set your own "value" to a piece of gear. You do this by giving each type of gear stat a static number that acts as a multiplier to what is actually on the gear. The numbers get added up and, viola, you get a simple rating system. This should allow you to compare two pieces of gear quite quickly and discern which is better.

The problem for me with using this tool is: how does one weight each stat? I just went in a basically put some random numbers in to see what was up, giving some preference to the stats that I look for in a piece of gear. For instance, spell power and +hit were highly rated, but strength and agility didn't see any type of rating since they're not useful to me as a Warlock. What I'm wondering is if someone knows of this addon and, if so, they also might know where there exists example Warlock values that someone else has taken the time to figure out. I did some basic google searches and looked in the usual places and either missed it, or they don't exist. Either way, help is needed.

Also, if you happen to use the addon and would like to share your personal numbers, please do. If there seems to be interest here, I'll pop my own numbers up for viewing, but be forewarned that they're based more on feeling than math.

Edit: I had originally put this and the following post in one big post, but felt that I wanted to split them up... Thus two posts today! :-)

Edit Edit: Courtesy of Inga in my comments, you can find some good values at Elitist Jerks here. In case you can't find it, they refer to Loot Rank values here. Thanks!

Share Your Story

The second part of today's posting can be directly linked to my emotionalism displayed yesterday. I got a lot of wonderful comments and thank you all for sharing. I got to thinking... I stop in at Blog Azeroth from time to time to check on the Shared Topics. It's fun, and sometimes you come across something really interesting that you wouldn't have otherwise found. Putting two and two together, I thought, if the world could use a little more hope right now and we, as gamers and/or bloggers experience hopeful stories often, why not share the wealth? In other words, I think what I started yesterday could be a good Shared Topic. It would be nice to see an outpouring of digital goodwill online (though I harbor no personal delusions that a response would be that huge or widesweeping, I can hope right?).

So I call upon you, fellow bloggers, share your stories. Put 'em up on your blogs and let people know to look. Put as much or as little personal stuff as you want, just share some hope. Then, when people ask: "why do you spend so much time on a silly game?" We can emphatically point to a plethora of hope filled stories and say: "that's why."

Or such is my hope.

Even though it may not be in line with my whole Warlockiness, I think I'd like to try and link as many such stories as possible and tag them appropriately on here. The thought being, perhaps some day down the road, when you're having a bad day, you can stop and lose yourself in a trail of stories. Grandiose? Maybe, but as a great theologian (ha) once said: "You might as well jump."

Edit: Larisa over and The Pink Pigtail Inn stopped by and her comment reminded me that part of my inspiration for this was a rather good post done by her. You can find it here, and I just love the analogy to sandcastles, as I still love building sandcastles even as an adult, and are they not just the ultimate example of futility?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Faith, Hope, and Love

I wanted to write today about raiding 10-man Naxx last night. I wanted to write about downing my first boss in there (Noth) and how the "dance" on the second part (Heigan) was ridiculously fun for how much we died, never finishing, but having a blast because of awesome people. I wanted to write about levelling my DK, Friday night retro raiding, and enchanting my gear. I wanted to write about escapism.

The truth is, I can't focus on my fantasy world today, for once. I mean, every day since I can remember (and probably many before that), I've roused myself out of bed (I hate mornings) and put on a happy face (with a lot of grunting as Fuu can attest to). I approach life with the idea that each experience holds a lesson to be learned. If you find yourself in a cyclical downward spiral, you're not learning your lesson. It doesn't make you dumb, just... some lessons can be harder than others.

I've been in downward spirals, I've been through some shit. Losing your father at 18 doesn't help these things. Being the oldest of four doesn't help these things. Being a role model doesn't help these things. Feeling responsible doesn't help these things.

I've learned that you get through it by focusing on your blessings and learning your lessons. By keeping your head down and running against the wind. I've learned that I have a wonderful mother who is the epitome of a strong female heroine, fit for any inspirational movie about the human spirit. Her unshakable faith and unflappable courage continue to inspire me on a daily basis. Dating at 50? Yeah, not as easy as one would think.

I have a wonderful, close family and a loving, beautiful soon-to-be wife. I have a *job*, though I'm not sure how long its going to last. I have a degree, which is something to be thankful for. I have friends. I have a roof over my head. I am blessed.

I've learned things along the way. I had an extremely rocky relationship for five years in high school and early college: I learned not to take my significant other for granted. I've puked enough that I learned not to binge drink. I've coughed enough that I learned smoking isn't for me. I've been there for friends and had friends be there for me. I've learned that it isn't the material things in life that you take with you to your grave.

I'm only 24, but I think people who know me would say I've been "around the block". Sometimes that happens I guess.

Right now, on a global scale, things are pretty rough. People are losing jobs, losing homes, losing lives. Like everyone else, I'm worried sick. I'm scared. How does one plan things in the midst of all this chaos? What are the lessons we need to learn from this? Where are our blessings?

I have to say, I'm not sure all the time. I can find the answers about warlock gear, boss strategies, and super DK specs. Those answers are out there. But what I can't find is the answers for life's "mini"-bosses.

I read something the other day about the benefits/downsides of online gaming. The topic has been overworked, overthought, overblogged, so I won't bore you with another list of things. We all know the benefits. It's why we're here. I just wanted to relate a few personal touches, from someone who knows. From someone who's "been through some shit".

Just about every night, I log onto a game and escape for a bit. I talk with people who's face I've never seen, and I'm comforted by their words. I share stories, share victories, share lives. I've met some of the most courageous people I know online. Take, for instance, my guild leader. She is the mother of a child with cancer. Daily she amazes me with her profound optimism and inner strength. How does she do it? Or look at the raid leader I know who is a single father and has been through some personal upheaval of his own, yet he remains one of the most positive and loving people I know. Or for the RL touch, I have a good friend who I almost never get to see any more because he is over serving his country in Iraq. I only get to chat with him when he gets online. There is a good story where he was grouping with a guildmate and left suddenly, not returning for a couple days. Turned out, in the middle of playing WoW, the place he was staying had been bombed and he had ripped his power cord out of the wall in his haste to seek cover. He wasn't shaken by the fact that he was bombed, but more apologetic that he had left without saying "good bye".

These people inspire me. These people give me hope.

There is a good bible passage (even if you don't believe in such things) that says: "Left are these three: Faith, Hope, and Love. The greatest of which is Love." Now, my priest said that the thing people need most right now, in a climate like this, is hope. How strange that I get that from a "silly game".

Why am I writing all this? Well, every morning, I still get up, still hate mornings, and still put on my "happy face". Lately though, going into work is like dipping yourself in a vat of negativism. In fact, so is watching the news or reading the papers. It seems like there is no hope. It seems like people have no faith. It seems like we've lost sight of love. But, every night, I enter a fantasy world where all these things are very real. I enter a world filled with hope, with love and laughter, with faith in the unknown, with magical stories, many of which have nothing to do with cartoon characters on the screen.

So thank you, all of you. Thank you for reading me and inspiring me with your comments, thoughts, and caring. Thank you for your stories. But most of all, thank you for sharing the fantasy with me. I hope each of you find your faith, find your hope, and find your love. I hope each of you are able to learn your lessons. I hope you won't let the world get to you, even though it tries so hard to beat us down every day. Remember: "This, too, shall pass."

"It's just a game," they say.

Every morning, I get up to a world that is just a little bit less bleak because of a game. For that, I am blessed, and if that is the only thing I ever get from the game, I'll consider it time well wasted.