Friday, May 29, 2009

RP: Maraudon

Last night, Tordun, the Dwarf, and I were trying to deliver these items that we snaked off of some stupid morons inside some cave in southern Desolace. The area was the home of many creatures that were not much weaker than us. But hey, we're on our 50th season now… we got this.

So, Tordun hesitantly stepped into the shadows of the cave feeding off of my courage. We walked up to the first elite-looking monster and he braced himself. I shielded him while he and I pew pewed that little plant down to the ground. Ok Ok, that wasn't so bad. We can do this. Next, a group of three of these foliage monstrosities. Tordun looked back at me with sweat on his brow. His expression of concern didn't make me falter in the slightest. I knew what I was doing and he was a paladin, he can take it. I shielded him from the initial attacks and cursed the mobs and watched.

Tordun's arms grew heavy and he started to slowly weaken while I tried to decide if I wanted to stop attacking. Oh man, he's really going down fast. I step out of my shadowy mist to save my friend from the plant fiends. I throw on another shield to save him from some incoming damage but I know that it wont hold out very much longer. They are swinging and ripping at his armor too fast. The small strength encouragements that I'm giving him just aren't cutting the mustard dogs here. I need to act fast or he'll be smashed!

A critical strike lands from one of my spells and the plant sways. Come on you stupid bastard! Hit the floor! Torduns's about to pass out when the final plant sinks to the floor and it's green tundrils curl up and stop. Phew! We look at each other and let out an uncomfortable laugh. I knew that there were other groups of these things and now I know we can handle them.

We creep into the adjoining room to investigate the next task at hand. Oh great! I've heard of these guys… slimes. They are slow and stupid but if they get a hold of you, they'll do the worst. I instruct Tordun to stay away from them and just watch the ranged master at work. Stretching out my arms, my knuckles crack. Watch this!

I see a small group of two and anger the closest one. I start to leech life from the ooze and I slowly watch my step backwards to avoid their violent tantrums of green goo. Their health is starting to drop… hell yeah! I'm doing it! Out of the corner of my eye, I see Tordun's face turn into a grin and he charges in. Stupid Paladin, you couldn't just sit back. He rushes in and starts to hack at the ooze to no avail. The green goo begins to corrode his plate and starts burning his skin. Persistent little dwarf isn't he. I throw another shield but I cant stop moving or I'll be caught in the goo's trap.

Well, I have a job to do and if he just wont listen to my superior intellect, then he'll just have to sit this one out face down in the dirt. Oh, here he goes; going… going….. GONE! I hear the moan of the paladin. The corrosive acid finally did him in. Focus Abigora, Focus. I'm running out of space here. The ground was cluttered with leaves & roots making it very hard to navigate. I see the first ooze start to bubble and squirt out. HA! I got one! It turned into what looked like a gelatinous goo mold on a picnic during the Summer festival in Tanaris. Success!

The second slime slides over his previous companion with his mind set on seeking his revenge. Tordun's spirit had left so I knew that was up to me to finish this on my own. My heel caught a hidden root and I tumble backwards into a bush. The thorns pierce through my robes and tug at my hair. I can see blood trickling down my arms and legs. This ooze just wont quit! I start to panic, kicking my way backwards through the bush. I'm such a goner. In my last ditch attempt, I curse him and shield my body. I don't know if this will hold but it must! My arms are aching from the cuts and scrapes but I found the strength to cover my eyes. I don't want to see this… my final moments before…

The world stopped. The pain that I was expecting from the Ooze never came. What the?! Is he too stupid to look in the bush for me? I lower my arm to see my attacker in a green pool. I inspect my robes to untangle my snags from the bush's grip. I can't believe I actually did it! I've never been able to succeed in such a battle before. This is what it feels like to hold the power of shadows in my soul. I LOVE IT!

A sigh of relief washes over me. As soon as I regained my thoughts, a small hand reaches out for mine. My eyes slowly followed the big burly forearms of the dwarf to his face. Tordun, having returned to his body, lifts me out and helps me bandage the scrapes on my arms and legs. He was such a great friend to follow me into this horrible place, and I let him eat dirt. As I look into his face, the only thing I could think about was that cute warlock that I had met in that tavern back in Stormwind. He was so… yummy. Next time I see him, I'll definitely buy him a Dwarven Stout.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stupid Mages and Their Spawning

I read a literal "lol" post yesterday over at Critical QQ regarding five facts about mages that I would suggest even to the warlocking general public. Our hatred for mages is well known, but don't let the mage bloggery throw you off... this is some good stuff. There's even two rather positive warlock comments in there. The first being an admission of hatred for the mage-killer that is our felpup. The second, of course, is the reference to "gleeful" life tapping to scare healers... which I take great pride in.

Which brings me to my point of the day. The whole mage mirror image thing is the bane of my existence. I mean, one mage is bad enough, but then copies pop up and its like a Kinko's took a shit on my raid. You've got chaotic spells coming from odd places. They don't stack up properly. Sometimes they obsequiously creep towards the boss like they're going to run in an melee or something dumb. They crowd my screen with their shenanigans.

And... they... die.

Now, normally you won't hear me QQ'ing about a mage dying. However, when the copies die, they make the same sound as a real mage dying. Then I'm getting all excited for nothing. They're a complete tease! Jaina and her posse. Teases! If Jaina were a warlock, we'd have seen her dancing in her birthday suit on a tavern table at least 666 times by now. What are you playing at, Jaina, giving all these mages copies of themselves? It's like a mage orgy. And I, for one, think it needs to stop!

Why can't the mage copies be of a different shade of color? Perhaps when they die they could just, fade away. Or even go "poof" in a ballroom magician-like puff of smoke.

You know who else hates your copies mages? Healers and tanks. All of 'em.

How many times has a healer wasted the good heal on your copy? It's absurd! I know healers feel me on this. And tanks? Well, one sits across from me in the game room every raid and freaks right the hell out when she hears the "death cry" go out across the speakers. You see, tanks are well-trained animals that tend to listen for things like cries of death to make sure a Dark Touched Warrior isn't running roughshod among the clothies. They hear your copies announcing the end of their little mage-party and think they've missed an add. It's just plain rude.

In fact, as a RL who is in the same room as his tank, we have developed a simple form of communication for many things. Now, when that death cry goes out, I simply say (in that tone of voice): "mages..." And we know what you've been doing. We know. Naughty Naughty Mages.

So do us all a favor and go see a therapist or get some pills or something to cure this unwanted case of Magophrenia If you can't do that, at least dip those posing bastards in paint and gag them or something. Trust me, it won't ruin the fun of your Magorgy. You can take your petting zoo with you too, I'm gonna AoE it anyways.

And Euripedes, I do understand about the skull thing, though I'm confused as to this mana pool business. Have you ever just tried cutting yourselves? It's fairly simple really and can be quite fun. And I feel ya about the thankless jobs. If you're the Gatekeeper of the Inn, we're undoubtedly the Keymaster what with the summons and all. You have Strudel, we have cookies. Don't let it go to your head. People don't really thank their minions until they get a fire bolt in the back of the head. I think warlocks wouldn't hate mages so much if y'all would just grow a spine and stop trying to be so damn nice. We're warlocks and we're are trying to make your lives difficult. It's what we do. Deal with it.

(In all seriousness though, that was a great article. I just had to turn the warlock loose)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Setting A Gear Limit: The Easy Way Out?

One of my alliance-mates, commenter, and fellow Harry Potter enthusiast shot me a good writing prompt yesterday. Here's what she wrote:

Here is an interesting question you might want to address (Wow, look at me giving you prompts!). Should casual guilds/alliances have absolute gear requirements for raids? Such as Ulduar, or even Eye of Eternity? For example, should we require anyone who wants to raid Ulduar to have the "Superior" achievement, or all items item level 200+ (and make exceptions for things like trinkets maybe? hmm.) This is something I've been thinking about lately, as we get closer to Ulduar. Plus, a few of us tried to do EoE over the weekend, and it went very badly.

This is an interesting question, indeed. When is it okay or even expected to have "gear requirements"? I think traditionally this is seen as a "hardcore" approach to raiding, but with the increased accessibility of the WotLK raids, it is likely a question some "casual" guilds are asking themselves. I think the answer to this question is really two-fold.

The first question we'd need to answer is:

What does requiring a certain gear level really do for you?

If we're going to entertain the idea of introducing a gear requirement for our raids, it's only logical that you first identify the benefit of doing so. On the surface, this is simple: you need to have certain gear to be successful at a certain level of raiding. That is to say, you certainly can't walk into EoE with quest blues and greens and expect to do anything other than fall flat on your face. However, where would you draw the line?

You see, it's been my experience that there are players who "outperform" their gear. I think we've all been in a group with some guy who we inspect and see... ew, this guy's a noob. Then they proceed to beat the guy decked out in purples of the same class. Or you are getting your butt kicked on the charts by another guy and think, well he's obviously over geared. Then you inspect them and fell bad about yourself for a week before vowing to change your spec/class/playstyle. Whatever the case may be, these folks just surprise you with their ability to perform in low quality gear.

On the flip side, you have folks who are epic'ed out and can't beat the tanks on the DPS charts. We've all seen that guy too and just shake our heads in frustration. Especially when you point them to several very good resources and they appear to have the temperament of an angry mule (yes, that is a veiled way of calling them an 'asshat').

The problem here arises that if you were to draw a "line" based on success, you'd have to draw two different lines. How does one take skill into account here? For me, this is the first thing that sort of breaks gear requirements. You're going to really have to make a judgement call based on player skill anyways. So, what are you really gaining? I suppose in the case of our casual guild, it gives us a non-offensive way of denying people who don't belong in the raid. If someone tells you that you're not "good enough", well that sucks and can make for some drama. However, if you just say "your gear isn't good enough", well then, that seems to be a lot easier to accept and correct than "your skill isn't good enough". So basically, you're really just gaining an "out" as a raid leader or making the decision easier.

The second question we need to ask ourselves is:

Is such a rule helpful or even appropriate for a "casual" guild/alliance?

The reason that this is the second question is because you really have to be aware of what the rule means for you before you can decide if its helpful or not.

For our alliance, and I would imagine many other casual raiders, the roster is developed on a "first come, first served" basis. That is to say, we don't have a core team, it's just who's available. This isn't to say you can't have a core team and still be "casual", because I know several people who pull this off (Abi over at kungaloosh is a great example of this. I think he'd definitely tell you his folks are casual, but they had basically the same people every week and tried to keep a consistent "team". This worked really well for them, but certainly would not for my neck of the woods. We just can't get people to commit like he can). Long parenthetical remark aside, the FCFS-basis means that you can't really pick and choose who you want. Therefore, it may well mean that having an "out" is a very good thing for you. As long as your membership is okay with being told "no", it's certainly not going to hurt you a lot. After all, the better gear you have in general, the better your chances of success in any instance.

In my particular situation, however, I don't think we need to go so far as to define a specific limit. It's not that we can't or shouldn't tell people they need better gear to join a certain run, but more that we should avoid painting ourselves into that corner. You see, as soon as you define that line, then it is defined. I know, defined line is defined. Duh, right? But think about that for a moment and I think you'll get what I'm saying.

As long as you're semi-nebulous about the gear limits, you can gracefully reject those that may need more gear than others. There's even a good way to go about doing this by saying things like "you may struggle with your gear in here and it would probably be a good idea to gear up before trying this run." Our people would hear that and say: "Okay, cool, I'll work on that." The only way you may get in trouble is if you let one person in and then deny another who happens to inspect or go out of their way to examine the gear of the other person and try to "call you on it". I say, in that situation, you're well within your right to say: "Look, this person just puts out better numbers than you." Or something along those lines. After all, they asked for it by not just taking the hint.

The point here is that we have wiggle room, and that's generally a good thing in a casual guild as long as you don't abuse it. I think most of our members realize that as a raid leader, my goal is to give us the best chance of success. This isn't some ninja-looting PuG team where you gotta watch your back. They're pretty confident that I'm not trying to play favorites about something when it's not in the best interests of success. It's sort of how we roll as a group.

In general and outside of my situation, I think that unless you're willing to go full "hardcore", it will serve your group better to have more wiggle room. This allows raid leaders to make decisions based on numerous inputs. Instead of setting a limit for each individual player, it's much better to look at the capability of the the group over all. Thus you have to take into account the gear and skill of your players, and make a decision for success. It also helps if you can explain and stick by your decision. Sometimes it may be very difficult to do, but if you're a respected leader, most folks will respect your decision and not get too bent out of shape, especially if you can explain to them what they can do to make themselves better.

For tanks, you really need a certain amount of gear to live. It's up to a RL to have a general idea of what this is. For DPS and healers, it's probably more indicative to look at the numbers they put out than the gear they wear. However, you have to take care to remember all the other factors as well. Like how mana-efficient a healer is or how good your DPS is at CC or whatever other skills might be needed for success. A decision based on all of the information will beat an arbitrary line any day of the week.

The Short Version

The wiggle room you gain by not setting hard limit can definitely work in your favor when you use it correctly, and will probably end up resulting in more long-term success. Setting a gear requirement is an easy way to help ensure a certain amount of success and selectivity. However, it is my opinion that it is most definitely not the best way to go about it. For my groups, I'd just prefer that we are honest with our members when we're putting together a raid and deal with it case-by-case based on what that night's needs are. I think in the long term, we'll see more content and have more fun, which are the goals our alliance was founded on.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Cure For A (WoW) Hangover

Well, I'm back from my last weekend of debauchery and revelry as a bachelor. My best man rented out a house with a pool and we pretty much played lots of volleyball, drank, and were generally merry. It was actually a stripper-free (by request) party... so sorry to disappoint on the debauchery part. I must say, though, that the Nashville bar scene appears to be generally friendly to bachelorette parties. We went out a few nights and saw gaggles of giggling girls on nearly every corner and in every bar. It was almost surreal. I'm not too crazy about country music either, but there were some pretty talented bands playing there too. All in all, good times.

Which brings me to the gaming tie-in of the day. While I rather enjoyed my break from the world (both real and ...of Warcraft), I find myself a bit "hung over" when trying to get back in the swing of things. Now, normal hangover remedies may include a raw egg or even the hair of the dog that bit you, but how does one cure a WoW hangover?

I suppose that could be taken two ways. The first way would be when you play WoW for 48 hours straight at the expense of your sanity, your eyes are bleeding, and the bedpan is sorely in need of emptying. Okay, I'm not going to even go there, as bedpans just plain freak me out and I'm not sure I could do any ONE thing for 48 hours straight (but that's a personality thing and another post entirely, especially the bedpan part). For me, obviously I'm talking about the "out of touch" feeling I've experienced upon my return to both the game and the community. My reader rarely reaches its current number of 39 unread posts, as I try to keep up to date with what's going on. One weekend away though, and I feel like I'm a bit lost.

My question is, for those of you who have taken a "break" or just had RL aggro for a week or so, how do you get back in the swing of things? For my part, I just try to catch up on my reading, hammer out some words, and sign up for the next raid. Usually, logging in early for some dailies is a definite must before said raid, as I need to limber up my fingers (they are perma-pruned from the pool ya know).

Still, while I know I'll be back in the swing of things by the end of the week, the disconnectedness I feel upon my return is always profound and emotionally confusing. That is to say, for me, I feel that taking "breaks" are a double-edged 2H sword. One one bloody edge, it's good to get out, see friends, have experiences, and generally "unplug" from our normal lives. It can be refreshing, grant new perspectives, and be healthy for your mind and body.

On the other bloody edge, it can create a slightly overwhelmed feeling as you now have to face the things you've been putting off. Returning to a cluttered house, inbox, and to-do list can be stressful in and of itself, and such is where I find myself on this lovely Mon... Tuesday morning (yay for short weeks!).

The Cure? Kel'Thuzad's head on a plate for the second week in a row. A tall order to be sure, but I blame that bastard for every alcohol induced headache I had this weekend. Why? Because death is the only real cure for a hangover.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A UI that would make your Eyes bleed

(Hey, Fulguralis will be out of town all weekend so he has put this uber responsibility to entertain and wow all of you on moi. I understand that he's the writer between the two of us but Dear Lord please dont unsuscribe... he'll kill me when he gets back)

Hi All!

I have been seeing a lot of, "Here's my fancy UI" and then they proceed to have people oowww & awwww over it and be genuinely helpful to others. Well, this post will not be like that. I want you all to see the horrors that I get to look at during my oline experience.

WARNING: May cause serious trama to the brain. Please View with Caution!!!!


DEAR LORD IT BURNS! My retinas are peeling off as we speak.

Ok, here's the thing, this is actually an improvement over what it used to look like but I am FAR too embarassed to show you. I have been slowly trying to streamline everything but it's so hard to change from the old ways.

Here's my second confession... I'm a clicker! OH GOD NO!

The thing is, I've actually adapted so well with a clicking/keybinding hybrid that I just can't make myself create a macro. I know that it will make me a better tank and player but I really can't make the jump. I feel that my tanking rotation should be adaptive to any situation and if I have all of my spells "macro"ed I might not be able to use a spell when it's needed. How I have everything set up now is my key bound spells are things that I use constantly. Attack, Seal of Vengence, Holy Shield, Consecrate, and the "I'll smash this mob in the face & make it really angry" spells. The row above are things that I will need during random times (plus my judgements above my seals because well, that just makes sense) The further down the keys/ row of more situational buttons / Oh S%^$t buttons. On the Right hand side you see pally buffs/ taunts. My taunt buttons are large & in your face because you don't need them very often but when you do, you better not miss it.

Now I've seen other paladins that use macros but I just don't understand how they do it. There are just too many spells in our repertoire that I would like to use when I can throw them into my rotation ie exercism or Avenging Wrath (because who doesnt like wing?). I feel that if I made my rotation into a macro, that it would be inflexible (if that's even a word).

I've done some sweet feats of Strength with my clickery (you see what I did there? I took Ful's word & made it better ;)) I have successfully tanked Grobbulous walking backwards and been able to navigate the room & never lose threat & tank the dead side in the Harvester fight on 25-man (also if you see below, I was the MT for our alliances first full clear of 25-man Naxx last night as well). I feel that if I could do that then why would I need to make macros... where is the fun in that?!

Well ok.... I'm breaking down here. I see that clicking is really going to cripple my skills as a player in the long run and I dont want that. I want to strive to be a better tank and Johnny on the spot when it comes to situations where if I press the wrong button, I'll kill everyone. I don't wanna be that guy. I do my research and have the latest and greatest addons to assist me but maybe I'm just failing :( How can I make the transition from a clickery nooblet to an Epic tankidan? Here is my question for you. How did you make the "big" change from Home row to Macro City? If this came natural to you, what other habits have you picked up that you wish you could break?

Come on gang! Pull those skellies out of your closet and face them like the Hero you are!

PS: It will make me feel better :D

Thursday, May 21, 2009

First Full 25-Man Clear

This is mostly so I can link it on our website (so you can just ignore my bluster), but also because it was a good night...

I love leading alliance firsts :-)

The Flight Of The Bone Chicken

(As previously indicated, I'm doing my character stuff today instead of tomorrow since I'll be out of town. Look for a post from Fuu in my absence. Hope you enjoy!)

This mount is really uncomfortable. How does a skinless bag of bones fly anyways? I would love to have the dragon that I've seen the warlock ride from time to time, but a Death Knight has a certain reputation to uphold. Flying around on a see-through mount is part of the experience.

It's not that being a Death Knight is all bad. I mean, I can eat whatever I want and never gain a pound. The boys sure do love me in plate too. The old shapeless cloth robes never did quite fly with me. I think I'm too curvy for them. Not forced curvy like those harlot space goats, all puffing out their A-cups like they think they're something special. The hussies. One does not need a tail to be sexy. Trust me. All it takes is a little navel showing and the macarena. Amirite?

Okay, so maybe I could use some pole dancing lessons from those elves, but it's not all about being a hoochie. I can take care of myself in a battle, and that's worth something to any practical man. Besides, when those gnomes start gettin' fresh, one sharp look from my burning blue eyes usually sends 'em runnin'. Is it bad that I find myself strangely attracted to blood elves? They're just so... pretty. I can't decide if I want to keep 'em at a distance with some icy chains or death grip 'em up close.

Battlegrounds are complicated nowadays. Which is why I'm putzing around with the Argent folks. They offered some prize money and reputation with the major Alliance players. I think we all know that us Ebon Blade cats need all the rep we can get. We aren't exactly the most loved kids on the quarter. That is, until I go polish my lance, then all of a sudden there's a crowd. What's up with that? Stupid giggling Gnomes.

Anyways, it looks like it's about time to land now. The scenery up here in northern Howling Fjord leaves something to be desired. The mountains aren't nearly as impressive as the Storm Peaks and it's rather bright here. Give me the gloom of Icecrown any day.

There's a small pond below me with a single patch of ice floating in the middle. Don't ask me how this patch of ice seems to remain perpetually frozen in this lukewarm climate, but it does. On it, encased in ice is another type of hussy: the Dryad. These chicks are almost as bad as those damned Draenei. The just have four hooves instead of two. Same posing for attention though. Especially in such a cold climate. You've been encased in ice, cover those things up, you'll poke out someone's eye. I'm surprised there aren't fifty gnomes camped out on this island full time. The buggers.

Oh look, there's a pretty druid flying by. Its speckled wing tips stretched out majestically as it rises slowly on the warm air current. They're so much more graceful than my bird, fighting the air with his bony claws. Hi, pretty druid. I wish I could turn into a bird. Oops, passed the lake. See what happens when I get distracted? Curse you druid!

I maneuvered the bone chicken onto the ice deftly, if I do say so myself. The clicking of its claws started to annoy me, so I quickly hopped off and approached the ice tombed Dryad. What was I supposed to do again? Oh, right, melt her. Because that's just want I want to do, converse with a Dryad for some overly pompous weaponry. A blade fit for a champion! Right.

Now where is that spark I stole from the so-called Lord Everblaze. Ha. Everblaze. As if! I mean, I dumped some ice on his head and he fell like Gnomeregan to the Troggs... (*crickets*) Too soon? Oh well, he was a pansy. Then again, aren't all men with self-important titles?

Anyways, I got his little spark thing and I guess I'm just supposed to like, toss it, at this icy tart. Oh swell, it worked, she's thawing out. At least this one doesn't talk as much as that stupid chick floating on the lillipads pining for flowers. Seriously, could you be more desperate?

Anyhoo, thanks for the weapon, put some clothes on, it's cold. I gotta jet, some dude with a title wants this as-soon-as-recycled-humanly-possible, I'm sure. Let me just rearrange these bones here so they don't ride up on me during the trip. I totally need a dragon. I think these greaves are starting to chafe me too. I suppose that's what I get for ordering them so tight. Oooh, there goes another druid.

Return the weapon. Focus, Dece, focus. Right, to the skies!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

If any of you were wondering where Abi went, he's now updating over here. His blog got blocked at work which, like me, is where he does his updating mostly :-(. His "new" blog is going to be more of a general information place and his old one will still exist (lots of good demonology stuff up there), but I just wanted to point this out. I updated my blog roll with Abi's new site and Larisa's new address for the Pink Pigtailed Inn (it appears that my feedreader is working better with the new one too, so that's good).

My alliance got down three wings last night (in one night, for the first time) and I was around 4.4k DPS on Patchy. Good times, great pace set by our tank, and an all around good night. It was our alliance's first downing of Thaddius, who is a bear on 25-man. I think Gluth is the hardest fight on 10-man, with Thaddius taking the cake on 25-man. It's just very hard to get all 25-people to preform that well without a single little lapse throughout the fight. Single lapses on Thad result in multiple deaths and usually missing the quick enrage timer. It's a pretty unforgiving fight.

Other than that, I'm going to try and catch up on some of my reading today... Oooh look, Nibs has a picture of Captain Jack Sparrow today, not sure what she's talking about, but Cptn. Jack running always makes me laugh a bit. Hmm...

(Aside: I may make my normal Friday IC post tomorrow as I believe Fuu is preparing something for Friday. So stay tuned, things may be a little crazy around here!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patch Day!

I'm so behind in my reading it's sad. I'm temporarily laid off for the week, which means 50% pay and all the free time I can handle. However, it also means I've been running around doing all the crap we're behind on. Thus, I've been traveling the last few days and not had the time to keep up on my blogs or even play. That's why Fuu's been helping me out because she's been working as usual. I'll be gone Friday and Monday as well, so don't expect any posts those days unless I can crank one out early and/or Fuu helps me out.

That being said, you're getting a two for Tuesday today as I wanted to post the 3.1.2 patch notes real quick and my scant thoughts on them. So, here's the few that may interest us...

* Equipment Manager
o When enabled from the Interface Options menu, this feature will allow players to store sets of equipment, easily swap between saved sets using hotkeys, and pull items directly from backpacks or bank slots (must be at the bank to equip inventory from the bank).
* New art textures have been added for Argent Tournament mounts. Any mounts already purchased from the Argent Tournament vendors will be updated automatically. Argent Tournament mounts with the old textures will still be available for purchase from the Argent Tournament vendors for a small Champion's Seal and gold cost (standard faction requirements apply).

* Conflagrate updated: Consumes an Immolate or Shadowflame effect on the enemy target to instantly deal damage equal to 12 seconds of your Immolate, or 8 seconds of your Shadowflame.
* Fire and Brimstone: Now increases the damage done by your Incinerate and Chaos Bolt by 3/6/9/12/15% on targets afflicted by Immolate, and increases the critical strike chance of your Conflagrate by 5/10/15/20/25%. In addition, the increased critical strike chance of Conflagrate provided by this talent no longer requires the Immolate effect to have 5 seconds or fewer remaining on the target.
* Nether Protection reduced to 30% damage reduction, down from 60%.
* Sacrifice (Voidwalker) redesigned: Sacrifices a portion of the Voidwalker's health, giving its master a shield that will absorb X damage for 30 seconds. While the shield holds, spell casting will not be interrupted by damage. 1-minute cooldown.
* Shadow and Flame: Now also includes Shadowburn.

Death Knights
* Improved Death Strike: This talent now also increases the healing from Death Strike by 25/50% and the tooltip has been adjusted to reflect the actual functionality after the hotfix in 3.1.0.
* Ghoul Frenzy: Now has a 10-second cooldown.

10-player bosses that drop Runed Orbs will also sometimes drop the recipes that use those orbs.

As far as Affliction Warlocks and Frost DPS DK's are concerned, none of this really changes how we play. So far, I'm still using Outfitter, though the Equipment manager is cool, it's not as nice as the addon I think. It just basically appears to allow you to save full sets of equipment in a pretty boring manner. I can't really tell the difference between the mounts, but maybe I'm just blind. Patterns dropping off of 10-man bosses? Sweet.

That's about it for this edition of boring patch update. I guess no news is good news for our classes...

In those Sunny- D commercials, I chose the Purple Stuff!

Hey all!

As some of you may know, I've been lvling a shadow priest with the recruit a friend process. I must say that if you've ever wanted to lvl a toon as fast as humanly possible, this is your solution! We just hit 40 tonight and I got my shadow form! Now, I'm a real shadow priest! Tordun (my trusty pally sidekick) & I have just been ripping through everything. Our pair just works out so well that we take on red quests and kill things we shouldn't even attempt. It is really nice to create that sort of challenge so when we go back & do things that are our lvl, that seem too easy. When I started this process I'd only heard about it and I wasn't sure what perks you actually received from it. Abi over at Fear.Win was a massive pool of information and I'm very grateful for it. Here are some other perks that you get for doing this program:

For Recruit a Friend:
- 300% XP for all mobs & quest XP
- each person has the ability to summon the other to any location regardless of class
- the new person (the person who started the account) also racks up 1 lvl per his two lvls that he can "gift" to any of your toons that are lower & near that toon gifting it
- and it also makes for a great promoter for you to lvl that toon with that other person
- you will continue to get the perks for 90 days or until the "new" toon hits 60
- there is also a Zhevra mount that you will recieve once the New subscriber pays for 2 full months of the game.

I wanted to say thank you Abi for the great information & to Tordun for allowing me to use you as my meat shield. If you ever find yourself wanting to lvl something but knew that it was going to be too hard for you to solo lvl it, Recruit a friend!

For more information about the Recruit a Friend process, click here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

DK Rotation Update

I recently picked up the Glyph of Howling Blast, which adds the frost disease to that attack. Since I was using IT mainly to apply the disease and HB hits harder (now regardless of diseases), I thought I'd replace it with HB in my rotation, giving me something like:

HB > PS > OB > BS > FS

I've gotta point out that my DK has never been a min/maxxing toon. That is to say, I've mainly tried to keep her easy and fun (ahthankyou), so I realize I don't have the perfect rotation worked out. However, old habits die hard and I think this rotation works out well for me.

The problem is that I can't usually OB the first time until I get some death runes into my rotation. Thus, I end up using more of a priority system that would go something like this:
  1. Howling Blast - to lead off and whenever I need to refresh the disease. More priority given to this in AoE situations
  2. Plague Strike - Purely to keep the disease up
  3. Obliterate - If I have the runes for it, I'll throw an OB in when my diseases have some time left. Also in this slot, for AoE I'll do a Pestilence and Blood Boil instead, weaving in OB later if the mobs stay alive that long.
  4. Blood Strike - When I don't have enough runes or runic power. I try to weave this in enough to keep one death rune around at all times.
  5. Frost Strike - Basically this is what I do when I can't do any of the above. However, I will bump this up in priority if I notice I'm capped on runic power.
This results in a pretty simple rotation that can be bound to the four keys I'm used to using on my Warlock. Thus, switching toons for me doesn't really make me completely noobish, as everything is in the same spots (just slight different feel).

I took this show into 25-man Naxx last night as part of a PuG effort that downed two wings. I ended up 4th damage done overall while my DPS was down around 8th, holding consistent at about 2.5k when not on buffed boss fights (i.e. Loatheb or Thaddius). Considering my gear (a collection of PvP purples and 10-man Naxx items, plus one green and one blue left), I think it was a pretty respectable performance.

The highlight of this toon is that, for me, it's pretty much the opposite of my Warlock's numbers. That is, I go up on trash and down on bosses in terms of DPS. It's actually more a lot more consistent than affliction warlockery (since trash kills you as an aff'lock), but the AoE burstiness of the build really shines on the Naxx trash pulls.

I think the rotation works, but was wondering what some of the rest of you might have done? Are you swapping out HB for IT if you snatch up that glyph?

Tricks of the Trade: Remember on fights like the Grand Widow, uncontrolled AoE is bad since you may kill the sacrificial lambs. Thus, for that fight I swapped back in my IT and didn't use HB. Don't be a death noob and accidentally kill the adds because you forgot that Howling Blast is, indeed, an area of effect attack.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Always Use Protection

The carpet undulated beneath my feet as I approached the lake in the Grizzly Hills area. Wind from my passage through the air was causing my robes to whip about me in a frantic manner as I struggled to stand upright on the enchanted fabric. I really would have rather been able to sit on the carpet, but apparently one must stand to operate one of these things.

On one hand, the carpets were more convenient than a dragon (though less impressive), as dragons could be quite large (and fiery). Why, just last week I had been trying to join a battle in Naxxaramas, only to find the entrance quite blocked by the large beasties. It was like a damn roost. There was dragon dung everywhere and wings that whipped you face even as you were attempting to use the magic of the stone to hasten companions to your side. Fortunately, as a Warlock I'm not dependant upon the more plebeian means of Azerothan commute, and was able to set up my own portal inside of the stronghold proper in order to avoid the mess.

The point here is just that if all those folks would have been on a carpet, we could have avoiding the pooping, and the wings, and screeching. Although, dragon dung does burn quite nicely... However, only one skilled with cloth could hope to control these bullish carpets as they try to buck you from their backs. It's not all lazy flights above Dalaran singing: "I can show you the World... of Azeroth" to some prissy princess. Oh, no. It takes balance, ladies and Gnomes.

I have often thought, when the time comes to settle down from all the adventuring, that I might open a tavern in Shattrath with a mechanical carpet ride inside. I'm sure I could convince an engineer to build one for me. How hard could it be? And I'd bet those blood elf chicks would love to hop up on the bouncing carpet ride, testing their mettle with how long they can last before being shucked. Of course, the guys would love it too, watching the skinny, nether addicted women ride the rolling carpet, and alcohol sales would go through the roof. I'd get a few of those cute Dwarven bar maids. We could probable even convince the more conservative human ladies to take a try after a few drinks. There was that one Paladin that I'd love to see up there... but I digress.

Where was I?

Right, flying towards the lake.

Hopping off of my magic carpet at the edge of a small pond, I surveyed the area where I'd landed. There seemed to be a path that led by the reedy edge of the pond where travelers might pass, but lucky for me it stood empty at the moment. I cringed as I thought about what I was about to do. It was bad enough without having an audience.

I reached into my bag and pulled out the lip balm that I'd been given and returned my attentions to my surroundings. There were a couple dozen frogs hopping around in the marshy edge between the pond and the road, croaking amicably and eyeing me a bit warily. Right back at ya, buddy, I thought, returning the gaze and applying some lip balm.

With a deep breath, I steeled myself for what I knew I needed to do. This has got to be the stupidest task ever, I thought. I'm totally going to get warts. This lady better be worth it.

One of the frogs startled me by croaking loudly at my feet. I looked down to find it staring at me inquisitively. It seemed to be batting its eyes at me too. Maybe I'd get lucky. Maybe the first frog I kissed would be the lady in disguise. I bent down and gingerly picked the slimy amphibian up. Puckering up, I brought my lips to meet the cold, wet frog's mouth. It was, perhaps, the most disgusting thing I've done, and I've done some disgusting things. I mean... I am a warlock.

Hesitantly, I set the frog back on the ground, wondering how long it would take for it to change. It sat there, looking lovingly back at me. As I stared into its eyes, I could have sworn I saw a human intelligence behind them.

"My Lady?" I asked hesitantly.

I heard a distinctly female giggle, however it was from directly behind me, not the frog. I spun around to see one of those skinny blood elf girls laughing at me as she sauntered by on the previously empty path. I resisted the urge to start a faction war right here and now, and turned back around to the frog.

"This is all your fault," I accused. The frog just smiled and nuzzled lovingly against my boot.

Frustrated, I looked around for something to burn, but found only more frogs and other wet things. This was a pond after all. I sighed and took out the lip balm. This was probably going to take a while.

"Shoo!" I said, trying to shake the frog I'd just kissed off of my boot.

I spied a wooden sign near the trail that announced the name of the pond. I started walking towards it. The frog followed.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Where In The World Is...

...(are) my readers? The patch brough a big traffic spike in these parts as it appears that the world... of Warcraft craves some information on affliction warlockery. As any good blogger will tell you, reviewing your traffic is one of our favorite pass-times. There are plenty of tools and such out there that will give you an idea of where people are coming from, what they are looking for, etc, and it's always good to try to provide what the masses seem to want. For instance, I found that a lot of you were getting here via a google search for "3.1 Affliction Spec" or variations thereof. Thus, I made sure to bookmark those on the right side of your screen for future reference. Also, I'll be double sure to try my best to keep those links up to date if we get changes down the pipeline.

One of my favorite things to look at as I'm checking my traffic is the log of my last 100 visitors by world map. Yep, scary though it may seem, the interwebs know where about you're coming from, and that information is sneakily passed on to me. It's interesting enough that I wanted to pass the info along to you, so here's an image of my last 100 visitors by location:

The Purple Arrow is Trying to Show Me

I also got a rather nifty shot that shows the night/day where I am:

See You On The Flip Side

So I ask you, which one are you? Only share if you want to of course, but I think its fun. For an MMO, we have a pretty decent international spread. If I were Blizz, I might try hitting the South American and Russian markets though, right? Maybe even Africa. Or India. These folks NEED warcrack!!! Srsly, right? Massive Game is Massive.

/wave to my reader in Alaska. Hope you're keeping warm.

Sar, if you've been reading recently, I'll bet I can guess which one you are. I have a 1/3 shot... :-)

(The red dot is the last visitor, by the way, and the green dots are the last ten).

In other news, Samodean over at Hardcore Casual passed me a link for a piece he did in which he describes his Methodology of Succing. Er... his Art of Seduction... wait, that's not much better. He'll tell you how to control shit with your mind! Or her mind. Or body. Or something. *sigh*

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Finwe's Gearing Up Song

I mentioned my buddy Fin in yesterday's post, and I feel the need to expand on that relationship. You see, Fin is the cat (literally a feral druid sometimes) that got me started in this game a bit over a year ago. I had been wandering around among various MMO's, looking for something a home, and he decided to slip me some warcrack and get me involved in his wonderful guild, Generations. One thing led to another and now you have an addict WoW blogger on your hands. Yay Fin!

He also suckered me into raiding, theorycrafting, and all that good stuff as we'd talk at great length over long work lunches about how to play our classes and how to get the most out of our chosen roles. Sadly, Fin has since changed jobs, so I no longer see him a whole lot, though we still hang out online when we get the chance and pass emails back and forth. He also recently created an RL alt (or a child, if you wish). Then he wrote me a song to help with the gearing up process. See if in the intricacies of his lyrical genius you can spot the ties both to fatherhood and intense theorycrafting:

Gearing Up For WoW – The Basics
by Finwe

(verse 1)Head, Shoulders, Legs and Boots, Legs and Boots
Head, Shoulders, Legs and Boots, Legs and Boots
Wrists and Hands and Belt and Cloak
Head, Shoulders, Legs and Boots, Legs and Boots

(verse 2)Chest, Trinkets, Neck and Rings, Neck and Rings
Chest, Trinkets, Neck and Rings, Neck and Rings
Weapon and Idol and Tabard and Shirt
Chest, Trinkets, Neck and Rings, Neck and Rings

Note:You can substitute in the appropriate word in that last part.
Weapon(s) and Idol (relic, wand, bow…) and Tabard and Shirt.

:-D Thank You, Fin. My life is now complete. Sing it to yourself and I swear it'll get stuck in your head all day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Affliction Warlocky Pet Choice Guide

(Updated for 3.2 - there weren't any Warlock changes to affect this)

With the application of patch 3.1, Blizz finally succeeding in a long promised goal of theirs: to entice warlocks to bring out more of their pets. Since the patch, it has certainly been a bit confusing at times on which pet is the "best" to use in what situation. As such, I did a bit of research on the subject and wanted to pass along what I found, and the rules of thumb I will be using to make my pet choice.

Do I always have the "best" pet out? No. Some nights I just run with what's simple so I don't have to think about it. At most, warlock pets are only going to give you a couple hundred extra DPS over the course of a raid night. It's nothing to scoff at, but it's not absolutely vital either. I like to think of it along the same lines as bringing the right elixirs or buff foods. They are things that some would call a "must" to every raid, and they certainly help, but you really have to know your class, spec, and rotation first before getting the most out of those littler bonuses. It just depends a lot on the seriousness of your raiding/playstyle.

This guide is going to focus on the pet choices from the standpoint of a deep affliction specced warlock. If you are thinking demo/destro, you'll have to look elsewhere (though some of this may help you as well). What this means, is that we're looking at the following choices of pets: Infernal, Doomguard, Succubus, Felhunter, Imp, and Voidwalker.

We can immediately eliminate one of those choices right off the bad: the Voidwalker. While this pet can be quite useful solo'ing, it is basically a tanking pet, not a DPS pet. It really has no place being out in a raid unless in extreme/strange situations. (I personally have seen a warlock take it upon himself to VW pull every mob in a VoA run, but I wouldn't recommend it).

So what are we left with? One of the first things I always do when researching is head over to places like Elitist Jerks and The Warlock's Den to see what other warlocks are doing. Theorycrafting in this game is a community based activity, and often the maths have already been done for me. My theory is, why redo what's already been done? The caveat to this, though, is that I'm trusting in other's intelligence.

For the most part, I trust both of those resources, but I encourage anyone who finds evidence to the contrary of what I present to always leave a comment and point out your source. The more numbers the better, I say. Keep in mind though, that there may be subtle differences between "tests" such as buffs used or talents chosen. Therefore, I'm basing my research off of what I do/spec/cast. (Check out my rotation and spec posts if you want to know how I'm rolling these days.)

In this case, I found some great numbers over in an EJ discussion thread (thanks to Finwe for the link). Basically, the individual ran these tests on a dummy with no pet talents, CotE up, and common solo buffs. He/she/it classifies itself as a "well-geared, full affliction" warlock, which can mean any number of things, but which you should understand means "has good numbers" and "is specced for affliction". Bottom line is that while exact numbers may vary based on gear and specific talent choices, we're looking at the relationships between the numbers for general guidance, in order to understand how we want to tweak and use our own builds.

So here's the raw data:
  • Infernal - 520 DPS
  • Doomguard - 470
  • Succubus - 196
  • Felhunter (with full DoT set up) - 180
  • Imp - 165 DPS
As you can see, some good stuff there, but what does it mean for me?

First of all, the Infernal is obviously king. Recall, however, that he will only stay out for a short (one minute) period of time. Thus, since we can't choose him all of the time, we must know when to choose him. I find it helps to think of him like poppin' a pot. You're only going to get to do it once a fight (at most), so you want to save it for those critical times when you're trying to beat an enrage timer or could really use the extra boost. The cast is an AoE, so you don't really lose out DPS while you're summoning this guy if you do a good job of working it in when you would be shadow bolting.

Trick of the trade: When the AoE hits, it can stun non-immune mobs. This can be quite useful in situations. Think Gluth... the last wave of zombies are incoming and your tank has eaten quite a few stacks. Maybe you have a couple people dead and you're trying really hard to snap a victory from the jaws of defeat. You drop this big guy right on the group, freezing them, damaging them, and giving the little boost your group needed to victory.

The Doomguard is ranked number two on that list, quite a ways ahead of the rest of the pack. He'll hang around for a solid 10 minutes before running away, so he's a bit more useful. Basically, you'll get him for one whole boss fight. Pull him out before you start and let him do his thang. You'll want to try to use him on fights where there isn't a lot of movement to maximize his DPS. Patchwerk is the textbook usage of the DG. Grobbulus is not. It's pretty simple, but hardly set in stone.

Remember that summoning a DG takes a bit of time and four others to click (one of which will randomly take some damage) if you've done the quest chain to get the Ritual of Doom (I'm assuming you have. If not, perhaps a helpful commenter can remember the quest name so's you can look it up and get 'er done). Thus, you don't just want to surprise people with this right before a particularly nasty boss. It's probably best to try and do the ritual about a minute or so before your tank starts the pull. It's good to communicate for this guy. Surprise death is never good unless you're administering it personally and purposefully (you heard it here first).

Third on the list is the Succubus. She got a bit of a buff in 3.1, passing over all of the other normal pets. She won't buff you, but she will put out the best raw numbers. More on the buffs in a moment, but if your raid doesn't need your pet's buffs, Succy is the way to go. Because of the people I'm running with, I find myself using the Succubus most of the time. She also has some minor utility as a CC'er, but I've never found much use for this myself, and it doesn't really factor into my debate for use.

Fourth is the Felhunter. Your felpup is respectable even untalented. The talent won't help his DPS a whole lot, but will make his buff better. Remember, the Felhunter buffs spirit and intellect, and can be quite useful at times. However, if you have a mage and a priest, their buffs will mostly likely overwrite yours. Thus, check your group make up... if you have them both, pick the Succy. If not, pull out the pup. The buff IS worth it, especially if you talent for it (Which I'm not atm), but mages and priests both buff better. Besides, warlocks are about killing shit, not helping others, amirite? Guys? Gals? Its? (Yes, I often chafe at my CotE duties)

Bringing up the rear is the Imp. This guy does two things that may make you consider using him. First, he'll give everyone some bonus health. This does not seem to stack with the Warrior buff, but sometimes is worth having when you're sans Warriors. Secondly, he's ranged. Sometimes, your melee pets just aren't going to cut it (aka Heigan fight), so you need a ranged buddy. That's when you should think Imp.

It's important to note that the Improved Imp talents do quite a bit to help the little guy's DPS. I am not personally specced that way, so if you are or want to be, you will probably have to modify my advice a bit. I think he becomes competitive with the Succubus with the talents to the point where it depends a lot on raid composition. Also, remember we can always just use him as a phased out mana battery like we did back in the old days. I can't say I'm ever having mana problems, but when we're learning new fights, I'll often pull him out since he doesn't cost a shard and we don't usually live long. That's a whole 'nother story though.

And that's that. Quick recap for those of you in the cheap seats:

Pet Choice Heirarchy
  1. Infernal - When you need a "DPS Pot".
  2. Doomguard - On stationary, DPS intense bosses.
  3. Succubus - When your raid doesn't need your buffs
  4. Felhunter - When you aren't running with a Mage and a Priest
  5. Imp - If you need ranged or you decide to talent for it
You may notice that I didn't write a whole lot on "how" to use these pets. If you're curious, T-Sonn over at Melted Faces has been doing a wonderful series on how to manage your pets, the latest of which covers the Felpup. I would recommend checking those out for some guidance, tips, and tricks if you're dusting some of these off for the first time and feel a bit lost.

As always, feel free to hit me up with questions/comments and let me know your own experiences.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Release the Hounds!

Apparently, I should have seen Star Trek over the weekend... I didn't. I'm holding out to get the IMAX experience. I figure, if you're going pay $9 for a ticket to a normal screen, $3 extra for the big screen isn't a stretch. Might as well do it right, right?

Also, it is now beginning to be "officially" summer. That is, colleges are starting to release their charges back into the wild. As always happens this time of year, that means raiding schedules are going to be thrown completely out the window. Our alliance is already seeing a marked decrease in sign-ups, but hopefully we'll be able to keep 10 solid people and maybe try out Ulduar in the WoW "off-season".

Remember, summer season doesn't mean "bad guild". People always freak out this time of year when attendance naturally goes down. The summer is a great time to retool, clean house, and try some new things in the game. Try to approach it with a healthy mindset, and you might be able to save yourself some headache.

I know Fuu and I are doing our part in ruining attendance, since wedding planning is definitely cutting into a raid night this week :-(. I'm not sure which one of us is more upset, which is a large part of why she is awesome. Guys, marry a gamer. Trust me on this one. Not only will they, you know, play with you, but they're also usually great problem solvers. This can greatly aid the marital process. That, and lots of beer.

I'm going to try really a hard to squeeze out some content this week, but my evenings are shot with meetings, so it's going to have to be mostly done at work. I think I'm going to try and put my Affliction Pet Guide together without the numbers I wanted to gather. I know there is a great chart of the average pet DPS on Elitist Jerks, but I can't get to it at work to reference it. If someone could email that to me, I'd give you mad props. It's pretty sneakily buried over there in all the craziness though. I wanted to give some numbers so you could see how I'm making my decisions (since it has gotten a tad more complicated since 3.1 to choose), but I'll probably end up just throwing it out there so you can read, judge, and comment.

Apart from weddings, summer stuff, and writing, I also got myself sucked into a book. Currently, I'm reading The Belgariad by David Eddings. Wonderful fantasy series, and really my first delving into the genre (*gasp*, I mean, I'd done Tolkein, but who hasn't?). I haven't mentioned it before... but I LOVE to read. I'm freakishly fast at it too. Kinda like Superman, just not in tights. Oh yeah, and I'm still toying around with EVE online too, which is another fun distraction.

So, sorry for the randomness, but my brain is stretched right now!

And in case you're wondering, the Darnassus mount vendor is north of the bank and surrounded by tigers. I just got exalted with them and celebrated with an 80G Stormsaber. This is a very fast mount. :-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

The "Real" Eye of Eternity Battle

The smooth, alien blue eyes were staring back at me, unblinking and foreign. A chill raced up my spine that had nothing to do with the traditionally low temperatures in Northrend. I stared back, unwilling to flinch in even the slightest manner. There was absolutely no way I was losing this battle. My eyes began to burn as I struggled to stay focused.

A single bead of sweat formed on my brow, threatening to drip down into my exposed eyes. I would not flinch. My very existence depended on it. How could I ever live with myself if I lost now? The bead began to swell as the sweat gathered, tingling at my forehead. The dry flickering of torchlight in my periphery threatened to steal my attention, but I forcefully pushed it from my mind.

Thin tendrils of smoke wafted lazily in front of my eye, seemingly unconcerned with epic battled that was taking place in its company. The unseen particles stung my eyes, and I silently cursed the Dwarves that I knew were sitting nearby, observing this titanic battle with pipes in hand. They should know better than to try and distract a warlock of my prowess. Why were they siding with my enemy anyways? Didn't they know how devastating the consequences of losing could be?

The sound of glass shattering filled the room and I thought perhaps that our little encounter was having unforeseen consequences on the world around us. The barmaid had probably stopped to stare in awe at the powers being unleashed before her, amazed such that she had dropped her wares. Or perhaps the shattering glass was a side effect of the extreme power crackling between two worthy foes.

I forced the distractions from my head, and nothing existed for me except for those two smooth, blue eyes. How strange they were in their terrible placidity. There was no iris that you might find in the human eye, no point of reference to grab hold of. Only a vast, terrible azure nothingness. The eyes of pure evil.

The bead of sweat had become a trail now, as the moisture dripped inexorably towards the exposed orb of my eye. I knew the end was near for me if I did not defeat my foe quickly. Briefly, I considered conjuring fire in an effort to swing the tides in my favor. Perhaps a small burst of shadow in the abysmal blue across from me would serve my purposes. Remembering my Dwarven audience, however, I quickly dismissed those thoughts. I had a reputation to uphold, and I didn't think they would let me live down that particular transgression.

My eyebrow twitched as the moisture mingled with the hair there, slowing it down for a moment and taunting me with thoughts of victory. Still, the eyes stared unblinking. Smoke wafted, light flickered, there was no change. The sweat slowly, agonizingly swept through my brow and perched on the inside of my nose. There it found the smooth slope more to its liking and began to gather speed. The end was near for me now, I knew. The droplet caressed the bridge of my nose as it raced towards my eyeball. I would not flinch. I braced myself for the agony I knew was coming, tensing my muscles as the bead charged.

A searing agony ripped through my body as the salty liquid breached the protective barriers around my eye. I knew there was no more fight in me as the burning seemed to engulf the entirety of the orb. It felt as though my eye might be flickering in sympathy to the torch on the wall behind me. Finally, conceding defeat, I blinked, and my breath whooshed out of me.

Two small arms flung around my neck and girlish giggling filled the room. I quickly wiped the tears away from my eyes and straightened up, glancing around nervously. The business of the inn carried on as if nothing had happened. The torch burned, unaware. The Dwarves smoked their pipes over tankards of ale, chuckling silently, their eyes screaming: You got beat by a girl. The barmaid casually swept up the floor on the far side of the room, glittering shards gathering in a pile, unconcerned.

"I win!" the adorable, blue eyed alien girl exclaimed. She released me from her death grip and sat back in her chair across from me, beaming radiantly. "What do you wanna do now mister man of shadows and fires?" she asked innocently, smiling wide and trying desperately, I knew, to kill me with cuteness.

"That's 'Lord of Shadow and Fire'," I reminded sternly. She giggled again. "The innkeeper keeps some animals out back," I explained, pointed to the rear of the building. "Let's go see if they like fire!"

Darnaa, the orphan, cocked her head at me, obviously unsure if what I suggested was allowed or proper. That was the problem with these space goats, always worrying about the "morality" of a casual burning. Couldn't they ever just have fun?

"Don't even think about it Fulguralis," the barkeep admonished, fixing me with a stern look after having noticed only my gestures. "I know what you're fixin' to do back there."

I sighed and stood up, shrugging innocently at the barkeep, "What? Me?" I pointed at myself. "I was just telling her about all the disgusting rats in your cellar." I lied.

"Yeah, I'll bet you were. How about you just get on your way? Weren't you going to take the girl over to the Portal? 'Tis not really a place fit for a girl," the barkeep shrugged, "but if you go quickly you might be able to squeeze in between one of the assaults."

"Sure sure, let's go Darnaa," I acquiesced, starting for the door. The small girl hopped quickly to her feet, sprinting over to me as if I might leave her (again), and then began skipping at my side. I looked at her curiously, still a bit wary about her kind. You know, children. Pure. Evil.

"Hey, Darnaa," I said excitedly, a thought popping into my head. "Remember when you made those elemental thingies appear?" She nodded innocently back at me, her eyes lighting up at the memory. "Do you think you could just make the one made of fire appear by himself?" I pressed.

Grinning, she closed her eyes and a few seconds later, a small fire elemental burned to life next to her. She looked at me proudly, pointing at the flame.

"Ha, awesome," I replied deviously. See, this wasn't going to be so bad after all, I told myself.
We exited the inn with the fire elemental in tow. I looked around.

There's gotta be something flammable around here somewhere.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Catching the Raiding Frustration Bug

It's seemed that a lot of my fellow bloggers have been recently been broadcasting their frustrations with raiding. From hardcore to casual, problems have seemed to be cropping up amongst previously successful groups. Some have blamed this one the ease of the originally offered raid content in WotLK. Some have pointed to different raiding ideologies and desires. Some have just talked about the changing nature of the game.

The bottom line, though, is that the end game raiding scene has changed in many ways with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Perhaps for better, perhaps for worse, but it has certainly changed. We have hard/easy modes, we have achievements, we have 10/25 mans, we have a plethora of different emblems. We have short raids and long raids. We have easy bosses and hard bosses. All this change has come at a price: our comfort with the game.

Yes, I said it. We are uncomfortable with the game as a community. The big change of an expansion came through and we all went: "Oh snap, shit's different!" Which can only be immediately followed by this internal dialogue: "Well, if everything's changing, what does that mean for me?"

That is the question being asked right now in hardcore and casual communities across Azeroth: "What's in it for me?" (Is that why you did this, Ray, for you?)

This malaise has not left my own raiding alliance unscathed. There is a great deal of frustration right now among our members who are itching for Ulduar when we haven't yet full cleared the 25-man flavor of Naxx. For us, getting 25 people together, focused, and efficient is a rather daunting task. We schooled the 10 man version, but we're still struggling through the 25 man stuff.

It isn't matter of skill. For us, it's a matter of seriousness. It's a matter of having too many different opinions and trying in vain to reconcile them with each other. We're a casual group of friends who want to see content. We open our arms to just about anyone with the same goals of "having fun" and "seeing end game content" without caveats. This has resulted in a melting pot of different raiding ideologies, however. We get people who want a lot of breaks, people who seem to always be late, people with tight time constraints, and people with neighbors who sometimes throw each other through the wall neccisstating a call to the cops (yeah, it's happened during one of our raids). You can't please all of the people all of the time, right?

So what, really, is the problem here? From what I can see, it's this: There are so many different end game paths, and we're not comfortable with it as a community. We haven't yet "figured it out".

You see, we've been given a whole bunch of new options when it comes to raiding at 80. Back in the day (which was a Tuesday), if you said you wanted to "see end game content", there was pretty much one path you had to follow.

In TBC, for instance, you did some 10-man Kara and got geared up. Then, you took your crew to some Gruul's and Mags for larger and harder raids. After than you probably went to SSC and geared through there. Finally, you might have seen the Tempest Keep, then Black Temple, then maybe the Sunwell (I never got past SSC, personally, but I think that's how you'd progress if I recall). The point being, there was pretty much one path to follow. In Vanilla WoW, I gather it was much the same.

In WotLK, we don't have just one path. We can start raiding in a bunch of different places; OS, VoA, and Naxx. You can start on 10 mans, or 25 mans, depending on your group. Then you can do Eye of Eternity if you gear through Naxx... but wait, you could also go back and try hard mode OS with drakes up. Or maybe you want to get all the raiding achievements because "just gearing up" isn't enough now. You need to "ace" the instance. With the addition of Ulduar, we see even more options. You can 10 or 25, you can hard or easy mode, you can go after more achievements.

Recall in TBC and before, we didn't have these options. Sure you could put them on "heroic" mode, but I think for the most part that people ran through one instance until they were geared enough to succeed in the next step. Then, you went to the next step and did the same thing there. As a group, there just weren't choices. If you joined an "end game raiding group", you knew what you were getting into. You would run some stuff until you got gear, then run some more stuff, going until your skill level was exhausted. The number of people needed may change based on where you're at in the progression, but it was the same goal.

Now, it's not so simple. You can join a purely 10-man end game group. You can join an achievement end game group. You could join a 3D and EoE farming end game group or just a "we've got Naxx on farm" end game group. The choice isn't just "casual" or "hardcore" any more, we now have a million shades of gray in between.

So now, everyone has an opinion, they have room to differ, and that's what we're hearing. We're seeing that while we all thought we had the same goals, we're actually a small bit different from each other. I mean a "gamer" isn't just a "gamer". You no long just have "casual" or "hardcore". What you have is people. And when you have people, that means you get a lot of different ideas and desires.

Not all of these ideas and desires fit together, thus we get friction. Friction we're not comfortable with. Friction we haven't had to deal with in the past. New game is new. Expansion is expanded.

I think at some point, as raid leaders, officers, GMs, and bloggers, we're going to have to realize that we're dealing with real people. We're in a massively multiplayer online game, and that means we have to deal with other people. It's going to be hard to condense everything into one common and cohesive goal or idea. We have a diverse game that is getting more diverse as it evolves. It's something to be proud of! We're a part of something that's pretty damn cool.

I suppose I'm just reiterating here what y'all already know. I'm not really offering any particularly clever solutions to the problems I've read about on the net. However, I am trying to identify and acknowledge the problem, because, as any good addict knows, that's the first step in breaking the cycle.

For my group of friends, it means we really have to buckle down and communicate better. We need to be able to share our in-game desires and compromise on them. If you want to work well as a team, that means you may need to give a little bit.

"But its MY game," you say. "Should not I focus on what is fun for ME?". Sure, when you're soloing. But, my friend, you gave up the "me" when you decided to become part of the "team". Raiding is a team event, remember that. You may need to "man-up" some nights for the good of the team. Like real life, it's not always sunshine and butterflies.

If being part of a team is not fun for you, you may want to acknowledge that and recognize it as a personal problem and stop complaining about it. A lot of us officers, GMs, RLs, and bloggers are trying really hard to fit this game back into our collective comfort boxes, so we can make the right decisions and have the most fun even if it takes some "un-fun" effort. Why? Because it means something more to us than "just a game". Because when the going gets tough... and all that jazz.

For me, I'm confident my group of friends will be successful. We'll figure it out. We'll get better. That's the kind of people we are. At this point, you should probably ask yourself, what kind of person are you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Look What I Did

Did big bad tanky need a spanky? You betcha!

And yes, I had the felpup out because we had the most random mishmash of classes which didn't result in my buff being overrun. In fact, we had to rearrange the group so we could down Emalon after this because we didn't have the right combination of healers and tanks. Still, what a fun fight. I was just a siege gunner, mashing away at my buttons and potshotting helicopters. I can't say I'm quite sure about what exactly happened, as I was just along for the ride, but if you're a siege gunner, nail those copters and spam your cannonball for the ground folks. Good times.

Oh, and if the tank comes at you, try and get your shield up before his little bulldozer thing punches you in the throat.

In other news, for the huntard in all of us, I found a good post over at Windpaw's World. While this is most certainly directed at a hunter button masher, Windpaw makes a wonderful (if long winded) point. The short story: sometimes its better to take a deep breath and slow yourself down than to try to button mash through your rotation.

This should be a no-brainer for an unforgiving spec like affliction warlockery, but it's still a valid point. I know in PvP on my DK I'm hugely guilty of button mashing at times, but controlled key pressing will ALWAYS win out in the end. It's okay to waste some GCD as you're learning a new spec or rotation to get it right, instead of just trying to hurry up and beat a timer. You have to have DPS before you can maximize it. Remember that in your endeavors.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where did Fuu go? Oh Here I am :D

Hey Gang!

Sorry that it's been so insanely long since I've made a post but here I am :) Life has been uber crazy since 3.1 hit the fan. Not only in game but RL is just plain nutzoid!

In Game Madness:

- Playing with Dualspec & learning the ways of melee dps (lolret action): I still have yet to DPS in a raiding environment because of my Tanking Main. I've attempted a few times but we always come up short. :/

- Trying out all of the new dailies: I'm really enjoying all of the Argent Tourney & fishing dailies. The Wintergrasp Fishing daily is probably the funniest thing I've ever seen. Everyone flies into Wintergrasp and fishes right next to the flight path & NPC's. The opposite faction knows this little trick too but he doesn't know that when he comes over to instigate some cheap HKs, he's about to be beat down by 3-5 very angry fishermen with their fishing poles.

- Raiding: Fulguralis & I have yet to set foot into Uld. (except for last night he went without me) and be cool kids but our raiding guild isn't ready for that big step yet. We raid 2-3 times a week in 25-man Naxx to gear a few more people up so we don't get slapped in the face like noobs in Uld. I think I'm ready to tank it but I wouldn't mind replacing a few more pieces to be extra sure.

- The Back to Back Holidays: Noblegarden was cake only took me a whopping day to finish everything and get the title. Children's Week on the other hand has been proving itself much more difficult. I've finished everything except for that damn PvP crap! The Achievement: School of Hard Knocks makes me want to punt a puppy (or my orphan girl). Now, I've done all of these BG's successfully before but when everyone else has the same thing in mind, it becomes a cursing nightmare. I'll beat my head against a wall until I get my last 3 requirements then I'm taking some time off. Matron Fuubaar I shall become damn it!

Fulguralis finally told me that I wasn't allowed to PvP for a while.

- Recruit A Friend (or someone else's friend): Friday Night, I got a message from Fulguralis that one of his RL friends wanted to buy the game & do the Recruit a Friend to lvl up his first toon. So, motherly Fuu volunteers her time to be a good Officer & good Fiancee. I wanted to lvl something that I knew would be hard to do on my own so why not a clothie caster :)

Welcome Abigora! The new Shadowy Goodness.

After two days of goofing around and melting lowbie faces, I hit 23... and I'm addicted! I'm lvling with a paladin (which I cant help it to love). My major problem is that I keep running OOM on her. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. I can only put up a DoT and then wand for the remainder of the fight. I keep aggroing off of him if I use anything more than a DoT, so I fade & continue on my journey of DoTing and laughing. There are so many interesting spells at my disposal that do gobs of Damage. I can see this little lady being something that I will spoil. I picked up enchanting on her and I'm just not sure if I really wanna invest time into Tailoring.

Anyways, conclusion on in game is that I feel like I have so much to do and I'm running short on it :(

Real Life Madness:

- Wedding shenanigans: Well, the clock is ticking and Fulguralis & I are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (no... we aren't dying.) With a little over 2 months left until the big day, it's crunch time! Almost every hour of every day is accounted for. We did our gift registry at Bed Bath & Beyond (we wouldn't dare step into the Beyond section ahHHHHhhhhhHHHHH oh, here are the mugs) over the weekend and we actually had a great time together. Last weekend was flowers and you know Ful was pumped..... NOT. He was a good boy though and made it entertaining for me. We have meetings almost 3 times a week for something and most weekends are spent traveling to one of our parents houses for visiting.

So, that's what I've been doing for the past 3 weeks now. I was going to post about my new Tanking spec but it's not even that new. We got 1 new talent and it's not even all that cool. I'm still sporting a 5-60-6 MT raiding spec. If someone really is interested in my spec let me know and I can help you out. For now, I'm off! I promise I wont wait this long to post something fun :)

(because I know how boring Fulguralis can be... I'll try to save all of you from his warlockery drivel)

FOR THE LIGHT! (or shadow now?)

Monday, May 4, 2009

VoA Emalon Strat, Tips, and Tricks

If you've run the Vault recently or read about the game compulsively (likely if you're here), you probably already know there is a second baddie in the Vault. Archavon apparently decided to call in the big guns after getting beat on for a few months.

Enter his big brother: Emalon (are they actually related?). Emalon comes with four elemental adds. Batteries not included. Not suitable for toons under geared.

I actually haven't had much chance to go up against him since the initial blitz the first few days where everyone was complaining about wiping. This fight is actually not very PuG friendly, which is probably a good thing since it drops emblems equal to Ulduar (10 and 25 man respectively). Still, I wanted to throw out a few tips and tricks we learned the hard way (via going without guides on the first few days and just trying to learn it "on the fly").

First, here is the quick version of how the fight goes: You're going to want two tanks, one for the big guy and one for the adds. Both need to be tank geared and specced to tank some pretty decent damage. Your add tank will want to pick the fight by calling the adds all sorts of names, preferably how their mother is the big ugly thing standing in their midst. That'll piss everyone off, which is your goal. The second tank will want to peel the big ugly off and tank him to the back corner for his beat down.

Positioning is key on this, so make sure your add tank is at least 20 yds from the place where the big guy is tanked. Usually we do this with the main tank on the front right "green ball" thingy in the room and the add tank diagonal from them at the base of the steps. All of the ranged folks are going to want to spread out and stay spread out since he does a chain lightning attack that multiplies based on how many people it his. Thus, spreading out minimizes the attack and makes it manageable.

Here's a quick list of the three attacks you need to watch out for:
  1. Train Lightning Surprise (aka Chain Lightning) - Multiplies based on how many people it hits. Not so bad on its own. Hits like a train if you're not spread out.
  2. Super Nova Special (aka Lightning Nova) - Something like a 20k insta-clubbing. Melee will need to run out to avoid this. Luckily, he makes a big production of when he's going to do it, so you just need to be attentive.
  3. The Living Time Bomb of Death (aka Overcharge) - Randomly picks one of the four adds, heals it to full, and makes it huge. After about 10s it explodes, pretty much wiping your party. You gotta DPS race it to death. (which is, you know, awesome for affliction warlocks). This ability should actually announce itself in your chat and raid.
With that in mind, you just need to get the positioning down and then go to down on the big guy. As soon as he starts the time bomb ticking, you'll need to switch all DPS over to burn that sucker down. We've found it really helps if someone can watch the timer between time bombs to give the melee a head start to get over to the add tank. Also, to make targeting easy, recall that the time bomb will be the one that is larger than usual and also that just got healed to full. This makes it a little easier to pick out from a crowd. Also, if you use DBM, he gets a skull I believe.

After you burn the bomb before bursting, baby, you're all going to go back to the boss. At this point, you've got the fight down except for one small trick for your add tank. You see, the boss has a fetish with the number four and won't be happy until he's respawned one of his precious adds. This dude spawns from the boss with a fresh aggro table. That means its probably going to bee-line it for your MT healer. If your add tank anticipates this, they can have a taunt ready to go and the world keeps on spinning. If not, you can lose a healer pretty damn quick.

We've also had our main tank and/or another DPS plate wearer pick this guy up initially to keep it off the clothie and give our add tank more time to pick it up, but the ideal thing here is to trust your add tank to be quick on the keys.

Once you get that guy safely picked up again, you're back where you started and you just rinse and repeat until the boss falls. There is an enrage time, so you can't dawdle, but if you can down those pesky adds quick enough, you probably have the DPS to beat the big guy in time too. Just try to be as efficient as possible with your switching.

There are two other little tricks we've used to make this a bit easier too.

First, if you all stack up behind the tanks at the start, it can make the pull a bit cleaner. We were having our pally tank shield pull the adds, but this means one add doesn't get hit and would often veer off to the nearest person on the steps while the rest were running at her. Stacking up behind her avoids this as they have to run through her consecrate to get there. The main tank just runs right through her stuff to taunt the boss and start getting set up. Everyone else gives it a second, and then runs to positions.

Second, we try to let the add tank know exactly where our main healer is going to to be standing. Trying to pick out the healer after that add spawns when you're all spread out can be tough on a tank. Make their lives easier by letting 'em know where you'll be. It's to save your life, after all.

Finally, there was one thing we never figured out how to deal with. When we switch to DPS the time bomb add, how does one counter a chain lightning attack during that time? We were running melee heavy and having four toons including tank plus four adds in there creates a massive chain lightning that has one shot our poor tank on a couple occasions. I'm not sure there is a solution for this other than don't do it with three melee DPS and/or hope that he doesn't do his lightning attack during that 10s window. Any thoughts on that would be appreciated.

I know there are probably other, better guides out there, but I wanted to make my slim contribution to the interwebs, since I was proud that we basically learned this stuff on our own before later consulting a guide on wowwiki and saying: yeah, we were doing that right. I wonder if anyone's been having a lot of success with pugging this one? It would seem to require a lot more communication unless you happen to be in a crazy uber group. Any of the rest of ya's got some good tips for this?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Magical Backpack Is Magical

Thin droplets of icy mist needle my face, quickly becoming painful as I settle my dragon into a tight, steep spiral towards the camp below. I welcome the pain, as it reminds me that I'm in control. Calling upon the power of demons can be quite fragmenting to one's mind. Sometimes it's refreshing to be reminded that I am indeed still human.

At the last moment, I pull up hard on the dragon's reigns, causing her to spread her large wings out majestically and hover for a second before lightly touching down. Gusts from her wings startle the nearby horses, who whinny in protest. The stable master shoots me a glare of annoyance in response.

Guy's a jerk anyways, I recall. Weren't they all? I mean they sit around all day and make you take their crappy horse out and do battle on it. I have a perfectly good steed, thank you very much. It has big spikes and flaming hooves. What do you have? That's what I thought... nothing! Did you steal your steed from a Demonic Lord? I think not.

Reaching into my magic backpack, I withdraw the wooden lance and shield combination that had been given to me back at the tournament grounds. Don't ask me how the over sized lance fit in there... magic backpacks are magic. Striding over towards the annoyed stable master, I ignore his glare as I pick out which one of his plain and uninteresting steeds I'll be torturing for the next ten minutes.

Near the fence surrounding the makeshift camp, I spot a bridled horse that looks more pissed to be here than I am, if that's possible. Perfect. I approach the horse and grab it roughly by the reigns, expecting it to shy away or rebel against my authority. It just stares angrily back at me. This is going to be fun.

Hopping into the saddle, I guide the horse out of the busy camp and into the wasteland that is Icecrown. The chilly sleet continues to pelt my head, so I flip my hood up, taking care to avoid the heavy gem as it flings down towards my nose. Looking around, I survey the area. There seems to be nothing except frozen rocks and uneven tundra. The lack of living things resonates deeply with me in a way that only a warlock could understand. Or maybe one of those undead fellas. They're a smelly lot, but I'm generally okay with that. Nothing that a little fire can't cure.

I decide I'd better go about activating my magical defenses. Who knows what's hiding out here, right? Icecrown isn't exactly know as the "friendly" zone (OOC: though it is of Texian size). Reciting the spell taught to me back at the tournament grounds takes only a minimal focus, and I am quickly rewarded with a red magical shield revolving around my body. Now, I'm not too crazy about the aesthetics of this spell, as I'm far more partial to fire and shadow, but at least it's red. Still, I don't understand why a spell meant to protect my steed orbits me, but I guess you'll have that when you trust those damned elven sorcerers for magical advice. The nether addicts.

I was about to repeat the spell again for added protection when a bolt of lightning from the sky slices down through the air, zapping my horse in the butt and removing the protective spell I had just cast. What in the unholy hell was that? I look around for the source and spot an ugly looking gargoyle hovering about a stone's throw away. Reaching into my magical backpack, I'm amazed to find a short spear inside, presumably made for throwing from horseback. I don't remember putting that in there, but I suppose stranger things have happened. I mean, magical backpacks are magical, right? Besides, there was this one time with a Dwarven barmaid...


Right, annoying gargoyle. Focus.

I chuck the spear at the gargoyle, hitting it in the face and dropping like a stone. Hitting the ground, it shattered into a plethora of small pebbles. That was easy, I thought. Then, since I appeared to be alone again, I decided to go about recasting the protection spell.


Another one? Seriously, these things are really annoying. Reaching into my bag, I withdraw another one of those crazy spears and hurl it at the flying creature. Once again, I was rewarded with a very scattered pile of pebbles.

*Zzzaap! Zzzaaap!*

What the hell? Two more? Were these things breeding or what? I guess we did just have the Noblegarden celebration, and that's all about new life, right? No wonder I hate it...

My already peeved horse is starting to get really irritated at my lack of provided protection, and stirs restlessly under me as if to emphasize the point. I reach into my backpack to grab two more spears and take care of this annoyance.

*Zap! Zap! Zap!*

My horse, completely unenthusiastic about the situation we now find ourselves in, decides to rear up, shucking me from its back and sending me unceremoniously to the ground. With one angry glance back at me, he trots back towards the camp with an almost contemptuous gait.

*Zap! Zap! Zap! Zap!*

Aw, hell no! My horse is gone, you did NOT just shock me you little bastards. You're making me angry, and trust me, you won't like me when I'm angry.

*Zap! Zap!*

All right, that's enough of this shit! I quickly cast the spell to call upon my full demon powers, transforming my visage into a horrific winged terror. Violet lightning crackles along my shadowy body as I stretch my wings out menacingly. Let's do this.

Quickly I cast the spell to corrupt each of their souls, following quickly with a curse of agony. As they begin squirm uncomfortably in the air, I fan my rage into to full inferno, surrounding my body with a furious green flame. Charging the lot of them, I engulf them in the green fire, delighting in their horrific squeals.

Mmmm fire... *Fwoosh*

Several charred corpses drop to the ground, disintegrating into ash at my feet. Ash, not pebbles, that's more like it.

*Fwoosh Fwoosh Fwoosh Fwoosh*

Breathing heavily, I survey the scene around me. Naught is left but some lose pebbles and a whole lot of ash. Even as I watch, the steady Icecrown wind begins to scatter these remains, leaving little evidence of the slaughter that just occurred.

The sleet begins to sting my face again, alerting me that I've reverted to my human form. One can only stay a demon for a short period of time before permanent corruption occurs, you know. Sighing longingly at the aching void left by my more powerful form, I call for my dragon.

Gracefully, she swoops down from high in the sky where she'd been circling... or doing whatever it is my dragon does when I don't need her. What a beautiful creature, I think as she lands lightly in front of me, a faint flame smoldering in her nostrils. Heat radiates from her body as I climb on her back before patting her lightly and we take to the air, heading back towards the makeshift camp.

That horse and I are going to have words...