Monday, November 30, 2009

Back To Live Action

Well, work didn't miraculously become better after a long absence. If anything,the relaxing break perhaps magnified the mundane deluge of everyday sludgery.  Yes, sludgery is a word I made up and I think it describes very well day-to-day life sometimes, depending on your mood.  Mine's obviously as black as last Friday.  Which is to say more of a gray color.  Anyone else thing Cyber Monday is really a clever sexual innuendo?  I guess it really wouldn't be all that clever if it was.   Pretty obvious if you ask me.

I, for one, will be keeping it real.

In a similar fashion, tanking didn't become miraculously easier when combined with raid leading after my semi-break from WoW.  I say "semi", because whenever I hear someone mention taking a break it's for like three months or something.  For me, its rarely more than a week off, and usually means I just failed to keep up with my blog roll and played a lot of console games.  Which is exactly what I did over the Thanksgiving holiday bonanza.  Partly because I was afk at my parents, and partly because I knocked out Assasin's Creed II in about 40 hours of nearly contiguous game play.  Awesome game, great ending, great game play, good length.  All in all, a winner.

Then I picked up Modern Warfare 2 so I could play a bit with my brothers online.  Plus, it appeals to my twitchier side.  So far so good on that one, but I'm not really gunning to beat the game so quickly.  It's more of a change of pace.  Like Aion only on the couch instead of in the Captain's Chair.  (Seriously, does anyone else think of their computer chair as their personal Dr. Evil high-backed brooding post, wishing it had strange buttons for various modes of death?  Sharks with frickin' lasers and a pit of fire?  Or is that just me?)

Which brings me back to my MMO life.  Sunday night is our alt/newbie raid group.  Some of us run alts, some of us are new to raiding, some of us just don't partake of the cornucopia that is progression raiding.  It's a healthy mix.  It's also a group I'm looked upon to lead.  This last Sunday we happened to be short a few regulars (it being the holidays and all), so people ended up in different roles.  For me, this meant main tanking on my DK (usually I'm OT or DPS on Dece).

I feel like I should take this opportunity to reiterate: Main Tanking and Raid Leading often don't mix.

I say often, because some fights are a bore.  Others, however, can been a real pain.  If you're one of the few that can effectively raid lead while main tanking Malygos, kudos to you, chum.  We warmed up on OS (no drakes) and then went to try EoE.  For a lot of people, it was their first time here, and the learning curve for that fight is mighty steep.  It also can be very main tank intensive on the movement side, especially if you're using the strat where the tank positions relative to the sparks to make it easier for the raid to stay put in the middle.  Boy was that a challenge.  We only got past the first phase once, but we were really low on DPS.  Many of our folks are not really geared for it yet, so it's not a knock on anyone, we've just done really well on everything and are trying to not rerun as much as possible.  Having cleared Naxx, OS, the first two VoA bosses, and then OS-1D... a trial EoE run wasn't a bad idea.  In fact, the clear of OS-1D last week was really encouraging, but we weren't missing those regulars who happen to be among the better geared.

In short, the attempt was not meant to succeed, but to be a learning experience.  I've found these are good for a group sometimes, as it really motivates people work on their gear.  Otherwise, if you work on the gear first without ever hitting something where you struggle, people tend to get bored really fast or fidgety.  Every once in a while, a group needs a wipe fest.  It's just good for the soul.

I don't have any clever tricks for tanks for EoE, you just have to position opposite of the sparks.  There's a lot of camera work and movement, plus you want to keep high threat so your DPS can burn, baby, burn.  It's really a challenge, and I'd like to say I was great at it, but at best I was mediocre.  Also, try to use your cool-downs right before his bad breath.  It hits hard.  Recall that he doesn't have a tail swipe (unlike every other dragon), so really you just need to concern yourself with his conic frontal attacks.

On a tangent, I'd mentioned OS before.  Trying to main tank AND dodge flame walls AND call them out is another tanking challenge.  It's really hard to see behind you (even when you have the "flip camera" command hot-keyed).  Well, it's hard to see behind quickly, call it out, and then move appropriately to dodge the wall.  So, here's the trick: find the hole in the wall that would come from behind.  Sit in it so if it comes from behind, you don't have to move.  Then all you have to dodge is the on-coming flames.   It's been mentioned before, I know, but for a newbie main tank, I thought it bears re-mentioning.

Then calling 'em out doesn't become so hard either, except if you're using left/right nomenclature and then realize, as a tank, right and left no longer have meaning to you since you're facing sideways.  You can always switch horses in mid-stream and start using "front" and "back" to indicate hole location.  Not a big deal, but you probably should have gone that route to begin with.  Ah, how different encounters can be through the eyes of a different role.

In any case, going back and struggling to tank on "old" fights was just what I needed to shake of the dust.  Tonight the 'lock gets the call from the bullpen to go pitch a winner in ToC-10.  Last time we got all the way through the Twins.  It'd be really nice to throw a complete game tonight.

Oh, and I think I'm going to try to pull a Miss Medicina (zomg, I actually used your blog name, Jess) and start bolding pearls of wisdom.   Maybe not wisdom or pearls so much, maybe just main points.  Or maybe random sentences, I'm never sure what she's doing over there, but I liked it enough to try and emulate.  What can I say, I'm a skimmer.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Anniversary Generations

On Tuesday, our guild turned 5.  Yep, that's right, the guild has been there since a couple days after WoW began.  That's a long time for a guild.  Fuu and I joined up almost two years ago, and in the last two years alone there have been a metric ton of changes.  We've also seen our fair share of drama, but the guild has endured, thanks mostly to our fantastic guild leader who amazes us with her inner strength in the face of adversity each day (she's there for us while also being there for her child with Leukemia, amazing story, but not really mine to tell).  So thanks go to Kianna and all the other Gens out there who have made our game possible.

We did a short little run from Goldshire to Ratchet via Booty Bay and then got a pic on the surrounding hillside.  To finish things off, our GM had a vendetta against one Scout Manslayer.  She wouldn't tell us why, but we suspect a fishing trip gone bad.  In any case, we exacted our revenge. 

A Dish Best Served Cold, Unlike Turkey

And to everyone else out there: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

AI: Trailer Thoughts

Today's going to be a short Aionic post.  First of all, there's a new trailer out on YouTube here.  Totally worth a watch, even if just for the fun of the cinematic. Some things to remember: It's a trailer that advertises the ideas that NCSoft has for the direction of the game.  We've seen similar things with WoW and other games.  It doesn't mean it'll all come to fruition.  However, a lot of the stuff is pretty neat looking and if just one or two ideas make it to the game, they'd be good adds.  Also, recall that good MMOs take a lot of time to create.  WoW was fraught with problems upon its inception, and now it's arguably one of the most polished and deep games on the market (duh).  That didn't happen over night.  In fact, I would say they're still learning new things today and we're 5 years into the game.

In any case, Fuu and I are still enjoying our time in-game.  I've stated before that we're moving very slowly due to WoW, Assassin's Creed 2, Thanksgiving, and various other important things that get in the way.  I don't think slow is a bad thing.  We still play at least once a week and, when we do, it's fun.  Being "behind" is sort of a double edged blade.  On one hand, you're not on that "cusp" of newness where everyone hasn't been there before.  On the other hand, everywhere you go is populated and active.  In fact, I'm not sure that we're all that far behind a vast majority of the game's populace.  I wonder if where you're at with respect to everyone else has an impact on your in-game satisfaction.  Maybe patience pays off in the MMO world?   

Well, to wrap up this short update: a pic.  Fuu and I were trolling around the Abyss picking fights when we got the message that the Dredgion showed up and it scared the bejebus out of us.  Luckily it was all the way on the other side of the map, great visual though...

Only a Shadow of Death

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Divine Sacrifice/Guardian: What spec is this for?

I've been really getting some good playing time in with Fuubaar lately on the higher end content. She's been receiving upgrades like crazy and bosses are slowly dropping easier & easier as the weeks roll by.

Last night, 9 other people & I decided to run in and make a mess of things in 10-man TotC. It was a freakin BLAST! We took down the Northrend Beasts after a minor glitch when the fire on the floor decided to run rampant and sit under the boss the whole time. It then proceeded to flare up all over the place during the Worm fight. We ended up wiping because of it. After that, no biggy. Heck, I even took an Enraged Yeti to the face after an unfortunate Mage incident and lived. Go Go healers go!

We dropped the Faction Champs & freaked out because we've only successfully defeated this once. It was funny because we slowly took them out at the end with two tanks & one healer left. We then proceeded to two shot the Twins and got our first taste of Anub. The night was perfect!

Ok, rewind *presses rewind on the tape recorder*

Before the Faction Champions one of the healers asked me if I had Divine Sacrifice. Ummm, that sounds familiar... how do I know that? Well, every paladin spell has the word Divine Righteous Sacrifice Protection combination in it so that's probably why. I flipped through my spell book & through my Protection pages. Nope, nothing. Why don't I have a spell?

Then it hit me like a brick wall. NA DOY! It's that new talent thing in my Protection Tree. HA! I remember that. If you are unfamiliar with these newer talents in the Protection Paladin tree, more or less, it's a raid wide shield wall which concentrates the damage to the paladin. When it first presented itself to me in some recent patch, I specced into it to try it out. The first time I used it was on a really nasty Raid damage fight which I figured it would be the most useful. I think I was Main Tanking so I popped my Divine Protection (the 50% wall) and threw that on. You know what happened? HELL YES I DIED! I died so fast that the healers probably just went WTF?! Is this tank naked?

"Fuu put your plate back on!"

Once I left the raid that night, I went to a trainer & respecced to spend my precious talents elsewhere. I looked at those & laughed. What Main Tank would EVER spec into those let alone use them?!

This got me to thinking of who would actually use this talent. Someone with the ability to use the 100% Damage reduction and Divine Sacrifice at the same. This rules out the Main Tank because if you pop the 100% reduction, you lose ALL threat and the boss runs & eats everyone. Maybe the Off tank? Nope, Same Problem. If the Off-tank is you know... tanking something lol. What about a Retribution Paladin? Nah, this would only hinder their ability to DPS. This leaves our Trusty Holy Paladins left. This makes the most sense because they now have the control to mitigate a TON of Raid wide damage and they know when to use it best out of anyone with in the raid. Wonderful Deduction!

The problem that I have here is WHY THE HELL IS IT IN MY DAMN TREE! Seriously?! Why put an ability in a tree that that specific spec cannot physically use?! That's stupid. I know that Paladins are suppose to be a caring & giving type but Damn, I have to give my talent tree up too? Sheesh. Yes, I know that every good Spec dips into other tree for their talents but those talents that you are dipping into are still useful to that tree.

Blizzard has been really making a mess of the Protection tree when they were still deciding on how to deal with Kings. Hell, I felt the same way with Kings in my Talent tree. I use Sanctuary when I'm tanking not Kings but heaven forbid no one specs into it because well, I don't want to think about it really.

You know me & Paladin Buffs.

This post is mostly educational and sort of a rant.

What is your spec & does it have spells in it you know aren't actually made for you? This excludes PvP stuff and talents that you "could" use but just choose not to.

I really want to know what other trees have talents in them that are just big elephants in the room.

Note: That picture has nothing to do with anything other than it's funny. kthxbi

<3 Fuu

Monday, November 23, 2009

Trophy vs. Upgrade Gamers: A Scientific Study

Last Thursday I posted a bit about console games and had a like question area at the bottom. I'm going to take it a step further and make a bit of a conjecture about gaming habits and how they apply to WoW.  It would be great to get some feedback on this one, so I'll try to phrase this "study" into a multiple choice question that you can answer in my comment.  Then I'll tally up the results and we can see what we have.  Oh yes, and for fun, I'm going to revive the old (or new, depending on who you are) scientific method that comes straight out of grade-school science texts.  Not that what I'm doing is an exact science, but that it'll be a fun structure for the engineer in me.

Based on my last article I observed that there are two distinctly different camps of game ownership.  On one side, we have the gamers who buy games and keep them ad infinitum as a sort of "trophy" of their kill.  On the flip side, we have the gamers that will beat a game and then subsequently trade it in, "upgrading" for a newer title.  For the sake of discussion in this article, we'll call the first type Trophy Gamers and the second type Upgrade Gamers.

With the relatively recent (with respect to gaming) introduction of trophies and achievements built into games and networks (such as in WoW, Playstation Network, XBox Live, etc...), I have also observed that this split in game buying approach seems to be a relatively new one.  That is to say, several years ago, I don't think either extreme was as prevalent.  For one thing, game trade-ins weren't always offerred.  My other point of reference here is just that game developers have certainly noticed a desire in gamers to generally want to benchmark and compare their gaming feats, and are delivering new and diverse ways of accomplishing that goal.  As gaming culture becomes more mainstream, I believe we'll also see a natural diversity of different benchmarks that individuals take pride in.  This diversity may affect the two type of gamers in question differently. 

My final observation should lead into the hypthesis.  Very simply, it is the observation that within the WoW community, there exists a very diverse gamer culture making it an ideal place to seek knowledge from the gamers themselves.  In other words, it may be that the WoW populace is (or is not) representative of the larger gamer community that encompasses it.   In any case, it is a large subset that is a good place to start any sort of gamer psychological study.  WoW has acheivements.  WoW has both Trophy and Upgrade gamers.  The question then is how each type handles achievements.

The Hypothesis
If you are an Upgrade gamer outside of WoW, then inside of WoW you are an achievement completionist.  Conversely, if you are a Trophy gamer outside of WoW, then inside of WoW you are NOT an achiement completionist.

Based on my past experiences and questioning some of my WoW-playing friends, I believe the hypothesis will be supported by any findings herein.  Thus, Upgrade gamers will correlate directly with being a completionist when it comes to achievements in WoW.  I believe this is because, for Upgrade gamers, they see these "electronic trophies" as being their benchmark for success or failure in a game.  They don't need a physical representation of their past, since it is all laid out and described very nicely in an easy to view electronic format.  I think these gamers tend to be younger and may not be as diverse of a gamer outside of WoW (these extra hypothesises, yes it's a word, won't be tested here, but I wanted to point them out since they're interesting correlations as well).

In addition, Trophy gamers will correlate with not being completionists.  I believe this is because Trophy gamers tend to place their pride on a tangible, out of game item that can be prominently displayed (in a dusty case?).  Similar to the college kid that lines the top of his cabinetry with empty alcohol containers as a show of conquest (which I still am know to do with "pretty" bottles even though I've been out of college for almost three years now), the Trophy gamer likes to have that physical representation of their past.  Electronic copies are all well and good, but they can't quite replace the old school, physical method.  I think this will be the trend among older, more diverse gamers.

It would also be my guess that the line between "old" and "young" would be drawn somewhere in the 20-24 age range.  Since those terms are heavily referential in society, I thought it important to throw the "gray" range out there with respect to my side musings.  Apologies if I offend anyone by calling them old, but yes, some of you are damn near ancient in gaming years.  However, I applaud that... adult gamers are awesome!  And stuff.  (Plus it's something that's becoming more and more common, though perhaps 5 to 10 years ago people would look at you funny.  Maybe they still do, but for every 5 that look at you funny, there's probably one that wants to sit down and chat about the SNES days or something).

Like a threesome but not as wild and crazy, here is my multiple choice "test" of the hypothesis.  I'd be delighted if you guys could respond in comments and feel free to mention the other side notes such as your age or any other thoughts you may have.  I'm not testing those here, but I think it's certainly interesting.

First, classify yourself as one of the following:
  1. Trophy Gamer - A person who hangs on to old game copies for various nostalgic reasons.
  2. Upgrade Gamer - A person who wants to get rid of old games in order to hasten the arrival of new games, even if just to free up space on the DVD rack.
Second, choose the best answer for the following:  In WoW, I see myself as a(n)...
  • A - achievement completionist.  I feel a deep seated desire to collect them all and take pride in what the achievement panel shows I've done.  If a friend were to come over an ask about what I've done in WoW, showing them a list of achievements would be a good way to accomplish this task.
  • B - non-completionist.  I don't feel a desire to neccessarily collect achievements.  They're nice when they come, but I don't really look at the panel.  If a friend were to come over and ask about what I've done in WoW, achievements would probably not be mentioned or, even then, only in passing as part of a broader picture.
So, very simply, you can respond as a 1A, 1B, 2A, or 2B.  Like I said, feel free to add more, but I'd be happy if I can get some of those answers from people.  I'm sure the response won't be as crazy a "non-meme" healer questionnaire, but it might be fun if we get a decent number of people. If I get enough, I'll try to cook up an excel bar graph or something for reporting these results in a subsequent post (oooh, excel bar graph, exciting).

Since this is entirely based on self-reporting, I totally expect for there to be a bias and/or a skew in the results since if you're reading here you probably don't represent a healthy slice of the gaming community at large along with the problems with self-reporting serveys.  Not to say we're not healthy here, what with our sporks and fire, but more to say that I recognize this isn't nearly as scientifc as I'm pretending.  At the very least, I hope this rez of the old school scientific method has brought back deep seated, conflicted memories of your grade school days.  WTB old year book?  Can haz fire?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Of Course The Mages Made It

Fulguralis squints and raises a hand in an effort to shield his burning eyes from the bright light that assails them. He stands lamely in front of the Crusader's Coliseum wondering how the hell he got here. Vague recollections of a recent foray inside of the Coliseum remind him of the activities of the previous day, but after that... nothing. Had he really just been standing here the whole time?

Shaking his head at the confusing conundrum, the warlock attempts to refocus his mind.  Who the hell cares anyways?  Another beautiful day in Azeroth, another lineup of beasties to kill.  Life is good.

Above Fulguralis, the canopy catches the softly falling snow and keeps the cobblestones in front of him dry and clean.  Looking around reveals that several vendors have set up shop just outside of the wrought iron gates of the arena, peddling their wares.  This was nothing new as the tournament grounds had been crawling with seedy salesmen ever since it's inception.  War is a profitable business for opportunists.

These vendors are of a somewhat different ilk, however.  It only takes a simple glance to reveal their obvious alligence with the Argent Crusade.  Their clothes sparkle with the same strange infusion of Light that Fulguralis had come to expect from these self-righteous crusaders.  The warlock hadn't cared much for their urgings of peace and unity, but did rather enjoy the rewards for service in their name.  Being somewhat of an opportunist himself, Fulguralis had been in their dubious employment for some time now, facing the challenges of the tournament with his characteristic aplomb and a "can do" attitude.  Want something killed?  Here's your man.

Apart from the cash, the obsequious Argent folks had been showering him with emblems.  He had heard that these emblems could be exchanged for gear, similar to his past experience working as a mercenary in Naxxramas and Ulduar.  As before, Fulguralis had visited the vendors in Dalaran first in order to view the wares.  He had been unimpressed.  Some of the Dalaran trinkets and accessories were nice, but he was looking for the type of gear tailored specifically for warlocks.  Each of the various groups he had assisted in previous dungeons had prepared a matching set for his kind and Fulguralis had found that the sets were rather to his liking, with special attention given to the intricacies of warlockery. 

Dalaran did not have the gear.  After a bit of research, the warlock had been pointed in the direction of the vendors he now stood in front of at the Crusader's Coliseum.  What on earth were they doing with their deliscious gear all the way out here?  Wouldn't they have been more comfortable in the city?  Wouldn't that have been more convenient for adventurers such as himself. 

A quick memory of the crowds in Dalaran provided the counterpoint.  The Coliseum, at least, wasn't nearly so crowded.  Still, thought Fulguralis looking around him at the throngs of adventurers, the Crusade was certainly working on it.  The vendor in front of him smiles brightly as the warlock steps up to a booth.

"Show me the wares for warlocks," Fulguralis orders. 

If the attendant was put off by the warlock's rudeness, he doesn't show it, "Certainly sir, right over here."

The attendant indicates a box of robes and other cloth pieces that had been stowed beneath the makeshift counter of the stall.  Fulguralis begins to idly wade through the merchandise under the watchful but respectful eye of the Argent stooge.   Standing up and comparing the pieces to what he's wearing, a frown carves it's way across the warlock's face.  This cannot be right, he thinks.

He says as much, "This is the wrong stuff."

"No, sir.  I assure you it's not," the man replies brightly, tapping the side of the box on which warlock is clearly written.  "Only the finest for our crusaders!"

Fulguralis resists the urge to punch the man in the throat.  "I think you're misunderstanding me, sir.  This stuff sucks."

The directness actually flusters the clerk this time, "Um, sir?"

"This is clearly meant for a warlock of the destructive arts!  Look here, idiot, this sleeve.  It's going to hinder my casting making me slower not faster.  And here!  Look at the stitching, while it might make one get lucky now and then with a powerful spell, it's certainly not sewn for consistency.  This is wrong, all wrong!  Maybe those destruction junkies could deal with this shoddy craftmanship, but a true master of the arts of affliction like myself needs to be swift and accurate in his spell casts... and this helps neither! WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?  THE GEAR FROM MY LAST TWO JOBS COMBINED IS OF BETTER QUALITY!"  Fulguralis roars, sparks shooting from the tips of his fingers as he gesticlates wildly.

The area around the stall is quiet now, all eyes turned towards the confrontation.  "Well... sir," the man sputters, "I will, respectfully, have to disagree.  It was designed by some of the finest mages in Dal-"

"Mages? Mages?!  MAGES CRAFTED THIS CRAP?"  Fulguralis fumes outrageously.  The warlock then narrows his eyes and drops his voice, "Well I guess that makes sense then, this is certainly the kind a gear a mage might appreciate." 

The warlock takes one threatening step towards the helpless clerk and reaches out, snagging a handful of the man's crisply pressed tabard.  The man begins to squirm under Fulguralis's murderous gaze as he slowly lifts the man from the ground. 

Toes dangling in the air, the man chokes out, "Please sir, I'm just the distributor.  It's not my fault."

Fulguralis releases his hold and the man drops to the floor, clutching at his neck where the tabard had abraded his skin and gasping for breath.  The warlock straigtens his robes, composing himself before slowly lowering himself down onto one menacing knee.  The man looks up with wide eyes at the angry face that is only inches from his own.

"I'll give you a pass this time, but if you want us to assault Icecrown for your pansy sit-on-the-sideline-and-cheer-argently asses, you'd better get the next batch right," Fulguralis growls.  As if to emphasize his point, the box beside the two bursts suddenly into flame.   The man nods fearfully. 

"Mages, unbelievable..." Fulguralis mumbles.  He then straightens up, and in a swirl of robes, turns and stalks away from the row of stalls, pushing through the astonished spectators and out into the dazzling white afternoon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Workplace Firewall Strikes Again

They finally did it. The work nazis got to the blogspot blogs. Now I can't view my own blog from work.  Woe is me.  Fie to the fickle firewall fudgeruckers.  Some day, I will have my revenge.  *Raises Fist*.

(The good news is that I can still log into my google stuff and thereby make posts.  The bad news is I won't be able to catch any formatting errors or rearrange things on the blog proper.  Apologies in advance for anything that slips by, and feel free to bring it to my attention if I miss something big.  Also, this is going to severly cut back on my commenting some more, so for the cats I troll via blogger, I shall become scarce.  Apologies.  I'll try to do better at commenting from home, but that's game time.  Sad panda).

For now, I shall keep up my rebellion by continuing to post, unconcerned by your pitiful walls of fire.  Fire! Ha!  I was born in this. 

(I've also contacted a friend with some IT experience and urged him to find me a workaround.  I hope they find this post and call me into the dark, dank HR office for a nice little chat.  *Sharpens Soul Shard*)

Console-ation Prize

I'm going to take a short side trip today away from the MMO world and make a quick post about some of the console gaming that I enjoy. Don't worry, I won't go all Massive Nerd on you and make it a recurring theme, complete with wonderfully personal reviews (<3 U Samo).  I just wanted to mention some of my thoughts and ask a burning question I have.  Also, you can kind of think of this as a celebration or acknowledgement of the holiday season and the veritable blizzard (small b, more winter-related) of games that get blown out around this time.

First, the thoughts.
Syrana had a great post today detailing her time spent in Dragon Age: Origins. Unless you've been neglecting your feed reader lately, you've undoubtedly heard the rumblings of this game as it's washed like a tidal wave across our gaming community.  And Syrana, while I definitely miss you in Aion, don't worry too much because I'm taking a mini-mmo-vacay as well (more on that in a moment).  You would be missing me I'm sure.  Additionally, I was not offered a review copy either, so don't get your nethers in a twist.  We're not all part of the cool kids crew. (Bah humbug).

Now, I know DA:O isn't technically a console game and I'm not technically playing yet, but it is on my list.  From all rights, it sounds qutie alluring to my gaming sensibilities and 'twould fill up some of that post-holiday emptiness when you've been forced to go back to work and all the gift giving is over.  Usually this leaves me with a couple hundred dollars of best buy gift cards.  What can I say, my family is honest and accepting of my obssessions.  I guess they figure: at least he's not an alcoholic.  Then again, they haven't raided with me (*evil grin*). 

So Dragon Age is on my wish lish.  So is the new Super Marios game for the Wii and the Resident Evil rail gun game (love rail shooters.  Time Crisis III was my beehatch back in the day.  WTB kick back on Wii-mote guns.  Yes, I know they sell the old school TC guns for playstation.  I want use those guns for every shooter.  Including the Zelda cross-bow shenanigans.  Why not?).  I'd also like to try the Dynasty Warriors 6: Empires game (love the series there too, plus I can get Fuu to co-op it with me) and I think I'd also like to pick up that Modern Warfare game to scratch the FPS itch and be able to play with my brothers online (they're FPS junkies, tho I think I've convinced one into Aion). 

The game that I absolutely could NOT wait a month for and that is the source of my minication... Assassins Creed 2.  I love the games (I went back and just roamed around the cities in the first one as sort of a "warm up" for the release on Tuesday).  They just appeal to me on so many levels.  I mean, there's gratuitious killing to appeal to my warlock side.  There's sneakiness and strategy involved when you want there to be.  There's impressive leaping and climbing and graphics in a beautifully rendered world. There's the fact that you get to explore cities that have been ressurrected from the past like some sort of crazy matrix-esque archaelogical dig.  Not to mention the inventive story lines for the roleplayer in me (it's like you're roleplaying a roleplayer or something).  In short, it's awesome.

I started it last night and played for about six hours straight before the wife coaxed me to bed.  By coaxed, I mean she was already in bed, asleep, and I felt increasing amounts of guilt at the thought of waking her up at some obscene hour because of my obsesssion.  That, and how much death I would have felt like today had I pulled an old school gaming all-nighter (I never quite did do the school kind... I think the gaming kind are far easier to stomach). 

Now, I plan to spend some more quality time in Aion tonight, and I've been raiding three days a week with three different groups which one change (and having a blast), but next week my work is forcing us to use our vacation to take the entire week off (not just the holiday days) as some sort of cash flow savings measure, so I'm totally gonna use that alone time to roam the Italian Renaissance as an assasin.  MMO time is together time for the wife and I, console games are for me.  Not to say she won't partake, just that she's often more content to sit back and watch me.  I'm thankful for that, because such an approach on my end would find me hurling things at the TV and possibly sleeping on the couch (and not because of an all-nighter either).

In any case, I just wanted to throw out there what I'm looking forward to and enjoy as a gamer since I'm guessing many of you, dear readers, share the same passions.  Perhaps a decent number of us "old school console" gamers got swallowed by the behemoth of MMO's, elyos-holed into one (or two) games a year.  That just won't do in my book.  While the majority of my time may be spent in the MMO realm, it's good to knock out a console game or two here and there.  In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's healthy for the gamer in you and could even improve your MMO skills, broadening your horizons and thought patterns. 

Finally, The Questions
I promised a "burning question" and deliver on that promise I shall.  I have more than one, but only one has caught flame.  That question stems from the following quandry.  My brothers recently informed me that they were going to pick up some of these new games using the credits from old games they had traded in at the local gamestop.  This is a common enough thing and I would venture that many a gamer has taken advantage of the clever system.  I am not one of those. 

You see, when I buy a game, play a game, and then beat the game, I like to keep the game.  I don't know why, but I find it hard to let go of old games, even if they don't have a high replay value.  I mean, I'll be honest, I don't go back and replay old games a lot.   I do on occassion when the mood strikes, but more often than not, my various titles are probably gathering dust in the DVD rack.  However, I like them there gathering dust.  Before the days of online profiles and digital "I participated" trophies, that stack of games was like my personal shrine.  People would come over and I was proud to say: "Yeah, I beat all those games."  It was a nerd-ego thing.

So, I guess my question is: What do you do?  Are you the type of gamer that likes to hold on to every game you've defeated as sort of a trophy, similar to how a hunter mounts the horns of an impressive buck on the walls?  Or are you a trader-upper?  Once you're done with a game do you want to upgrade it to a new game, thereby continuing the cycle of life like some sort of gaming hippie?  (Not that there's anything wrong with being a hippie, I mean going "green" is all the rage, right?)  I suppose some of it is dependent upon disposable income and the like, but I think even back when I was a poor, miller-high-life-drinking college kid... I just couldn't let go of my old games.  I would hold on to them until I bequeathed the entire system to a younger relative or someone who needed the gift of games, and, even then, it was hard for me to let go.  Perhaps that's why I purchased a skin for my Wii to dress it up like an old school NES.  Who knows?

That's the burning one:  Am I the oddball here?  There's gotta be other gamers with this compulsion, I'd think.  After all, any good gamer invests a lot of time and energy into which games to buy, which challenges to conquer, and how best to conquer them.  It makes a certain amount of sense that we'd take pride in our collection or gaming corpses, right? 

If that topic doesn't really interest you, I guesss my second, more vanilla question is: What games can't you wait for, and what's on your wish list?  For me, there are always two types... the games I need NAO and the games I want to play but will put on a mental queue to get in time.  Do you do the same thing?

I would love to hear some views on these things, though I know we're united here because of an MMO and not these "second place" games, these console-ation prizes (ha, the title, see what I did there?).  And if you're a blogger, feel free to make your own post and let me know and I can tie some links into here.  It might get quite lengthy and maybe, like me, people would be interested in the different viewpoints.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Last Macro You'll Ever Wear

As promised, today I'm going to share a pair of macros that I should have shared a long time ago. Apologies, but selfishness is in my nature as a Warlock. It happens, and really, the macros are the same, the only difference being to swap the spell used by the button. I find these two invaluable in any sort of CC situation, and they can really make you appear to be a badass in my opinion. In fact, I often find myself offering to CC extra things out of pure desire to make use of these macros and thereby appear formidable.

Like: "Look at his masterful use of the macro.  He is most surely a powerful warlock.  He fears no mob."
To which I reply: "But of course.  Seeth thou not my mighty bolts of shadow?  Pay no attention to thy banish├ęd mobs."

Or: "CC? Wtf is that newb?  Better not affect your deeps."
To which I reply: "Don't worry, Child of Wrath, it shan't."

Banish Macro
Let's start with the banish macro:

#show Banish
/clearfocus [target=focus,dead][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Banish

Going line by line:
  1. We start by showing the Banish tooltip and icon (select the ? when you create it)
  2. Clears our focus if the target is either dead or doesn't exist
  3. Sets our focus to our current target as long as there is no current focus 
  4. Casts banish on the focused target
So it operates something like this...  We select our banish target and then hit the button once.  If we're in range, it will start to cast banish right away, but lets pretend for a moment we're setting this up before a pull.  In that case, it will merely set your focus to the target and warn you that it's not in range.  Then we select the skull and prepare for the pull.  Once the pull commences, we hit this button again and a banish will cast on the focused target, all without switching from the skull allowing us to open up with our normal DPS rotation.  We can not DPS as normal, keeping an eye on our focused target (as long as you have your focus displayed in your raid frames) for if/when it breaks banish.

Say it's a long fight and the target breaks banish.  That's fine, just hit the button again and you'll recast on your focus, again without switching.  Simple right?  It's almost like you're barely doing anything, yet you can keep that sucker locked down and still carry on DPS'ing as usual.

Also important to note, due to recent changes in mechanics, be aware in order to reapply banish, you will have to wait out it's duration.  Casting banish again before the original cast has worn out will cause the target to be un-banished.  Alternatively, you could use this knowledge to strategically release your target when the tanks are ready to pick it up.

Fear Macro

#show Fear
/clearfocus [target=focus,dead][target=focus,noexists]
/focus [target=focus,noexists]
/cast [target=focus] Fear

Nothing tricky here, just the same macro from above where "fear" replaces "banish", allowing you to use this button the same way you would your banish macro.  Chain fear: ftw.  Chain fear without paying a whole lot of attention to the mob: ftW.  Big bold "W" is for "Warlock".  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

That's all there really is to them.  Use 'em for PvE.  Use 'em for PvP.  Use 'em for Faction Champs (which is still neither, IMO).  Hell, use 'em purely to annoy that Druid that you're dueling in the middle of Dalaran and go /inspect the epeening hardcore raider over there while he goes to write an OP note on the official forums and get our CC nerfed some more.  We'll write our own damn spells, Blizz.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Faction Champions Tips and Tricks (10 Man)

The much hated Faction Champions encounter has finally fallen to my shadowy onslaught.  It sort of came as a surprise to all of us, since many of us had yet to even get one of our foes to die.  For whatever reason, on our third attempt, everything just clicked into place and one after another fell.  By the end of the encounter, we had the hunter's pet against all ten of us.  That's right, no one even died.  Holy Tauren it was awesome.

So what was our strategy?  The six enemies were thus: Paladin and Druid healers, then a Shaman, Hunter, Death Knight, and Shadow Priest.  We had three healers (Priest, Shammy, Druid), two pally tanks, and a good mix of melee and ranged DPS.  I'd put the team together with two of my fellow bloggers with the goal in mind of learning the higher end 10-man content.  Thus, we had the smart, quick learners with us.  People who weren't afraid to wipe a lot for imperceptable amounts of progress.  The "A" team.  Like the show, not like your local High School basketball team.

Being the "A" team, most of us had read at least a metric crap ton about the encounter, so the recently publicized threat mechanics of the fight were not news to us.  To summarize, if you haven't read it, there are basically a few things to keep in mind:
  1. Enemy healers will priotize the lowest effective health - Thus, save your "lock down" abilities for the last 30%.  Also, you can confuse the AI by DPS'ing other things like the Hunter's pet.  We didn't take that route this time, but it's something that's been talked about.  Mostly, we just tried to backload our abilities.
  2. Enemy attackers will aggro based roughly on three things: armor, effective health, and proximity.  - Hence we put our tanks all in their DPS gear to lower their armor and assist them in keeping attention. They kept their same spec so they wouldn't lose their tanking abilities.  Clothies spread out and kept their health topped while doing what they could to increase armor (PvP gear and the like), but, again, same spec. (Except for me, more on warlock specifics in a moment).
That's the simple version.  If you know how the healers will react, you can backload abilities like I mentioned.  Also, if you know that lower armor = higher aggro, you can take steps to normalize your amor across the group as best you can, sowing seeds of confusion among the enemy AI.  Similarly, pots and cookies can work as aggro drops, same as things that get you more distance like slows, blink, lock portals, hunter disengage, etc.  Knowing is half the battle, right?

With all this in mind, we marked all the bosses in a strategic kill order.  We chose the Paladin healer first, since the Druid is easier for a lock like myself to control.  Any way you slice it, you need to burn a healer first to cut down their regenerative output.  The Paladin's bubble can be mass dispelled by a priest (and should be!).  After the Pally we went for the Shaman who can be troublesome.  Next came the Hunter, then the DK, then the Shadow Priest.  Finally, we took out the Druid (and the hunter's pet when we realized it hadn't despawned).

Now, especially on 10-man you really need everyone to bring their best and do their part, but one of the keys to this strategy is the warlockery.  Any good warlock should be able to harass a tree enough to get some nuts to fall.  In this case, the nuts are the other enemies and the harassment needs to be focused during the last portions of their lives in order to bust them.  Keeping that druid busy is priority number two for a warlock; number one being to stay alive.  DPS is a distant third.

We had our tanks harassing the hunter and DK to keep them out of our hair, while I focused on the Druid and everyone else focused on the target.  It worked like a charm.  There was much chaos and running around, but in the end, ten of us were standing to none of them.  As a warlock, here are some tips and tricks for the encounter that really worked out for me:
  • Use Demon Armor instead of Fel Armor.  Sure you lose SP, but the added armor will keep the baddies at bay. 
  • I actually went with my Demonology spec and pulled out my Felhunter.  Sort of an odd combo, but the felpup eats spells and the demo spec has really high surviveability.  Soul link FTW.  It's really tough to stay Affliction as the bad guys will be all over your squishy arse.
  • Try very hard NOT to life tap.  Only do it when absolutely necessary or you're going to get lit up.
  • Make use of your warlock portal.  This is like your soul shatter for this fight.  Don't stand right next to it either, remember, distance is key.
  • Cookies are great for everyone.  Use 'em.  Pots too.
  • Curse of Tongues really pisses a pally healer off... just sayin'.
  • If something is on you, keep moving and hope it gets tired.  If you have a hunter, like we did, have them lay some traps down so you can lose him in the frost.  Be smart about fleeing and don't panic.
  • If the hunter's pet gets on you, let it slide.  In 10-man he sort of itches.
  • DoT, DoT, DoT.  You can do this on the move and even spread it out to sow even more confusion.
  • Keep your banish target focused.  I have a great macro for this (also works with fear), so you can be dotting the main target and still keeping an eye on the druid without ever having to switch targets.
That's all I've got off the top of my head.  Feel free to pass more advice along in the comments if there's any you guys find me lacking.  Also, I realized I've never published the banish macro I'm using.  Look for that to come tomorrow and then I'll link it back to here.  It's definitely noteworthy and useful in this fight.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just Some Ramblings

For some odd reason, my place of employment observes veterans day today, so I'm at home catching up on blogs from this weekend, to be immediately followed by some bonus game time, and reviewing our first joint marital health care elections.  Is it bad that, as a gaming couple, we really want an addon to show us the + and - of each plan when we mouse of there where they've been lying on the desks for the last month?  Seriously, WTB pawn for RL.

Insurance sucks.  Apologies to any of you out there in the biz.  Just the fact of having to pay money in case something happens strikes me as somehow wrong.  I mean, I know it's great and all when you need it, and can be totally worth it.  It just bugs me.  There's gotta be a better system.  You know, like perhaps making all this crap affordable in the first place?  Then again, that's a whole 'nother bag of shards that I'm no where near quailified or smart enough to open.  (This is one of those complaints I hate: where you just want to complain but have aboslutely no suggestions on how to make it better.  /slapsself).

Okay, real blog is real boring.  On to moderately less boring things.

I'm going to be short today so as to return to my plethora of reading and personal enjoyment.  I wanted to put up two pictures for your enjoyment.  First off, we have my personal favorite from Raid for the Cure this weekend, hosted by the Sidhe Devils.  Great time, fun for all, which was the focus.  Got to see some of my favorite bloggers, and Jess.  (Ha ha, joking Jess, you know you're my fave).  Got to run around in pink.  Good stuff.  Several others (who I linked above, but also I know I'm probably missing quite a few so feel free to leave me some comment love and I'll hit you back with a link) have already done lengthy screenshot posts about the subject, so I won't wall-o-pic spam you... just this one. 


You can even see Jess struggling to catch up behind me on her short wittle dwarf legs.  This was also well before we joined up with the Horde contingent, where our numbers swelled considerably.  Check out those links if you want more pics, plus BBB has a linked a rather stellar list of participants in his article.  Yep, we're on there, which is kind of neat.  It's like being on the guest list to a really sexy party.  Or something.

Also, small side note tip to any dual wielders out there: make sure you put your highest damage slow weapon in your main hand.  Yeah, seems obvious (because you'll get the best numbers on your special attacks), but like, the fail DK in me had a brain fart.  Yes, this has nothing to do with anything, just wanted to write something useful.

My final picture is from the world of Atreia (Aion).  One of the things people have complained about is the pervasiveness of bots in the game.  Fuu and I just hit 31 (well she's a bar away) this weekend, and, really, up until now we hadn't a lot of bots.  Or rather, the bots we had seen haven't really bugged us.  We're not the type to go around looking at bots and then freaking out cuz they're like, doing things.  However, in the early Beluslan area, the bots were really prohibitive to questing.  They were everywhere.  I exhausted my auto-reports in like 5 minutes.

Then, just for grins, Fuu and I single a few out and chased them around for a while, stealing their kills or gathering nodes and just generally talking trash in /say.  Why? I don't know, it feels really fun for us to talk trash to a brainless bot.  We're weird like that.

And as we were doing this, we figured out why there were so many in this area.  You see, there was a weather glitch, whereby clouds are enticed to release bots instead of rain.  It was raining bots! (Sung to the tune of "It's raining men", which just makes it funnier, IMNO.  The N is for "nerdy").  Okay, the real story is we found this bot that had gotten stuck, and for some odd reason it made them drop from the sky every few seconds.  We, of course, found this hilarious, so I caught a screenie.


Fuu and I aren't really all the upset.  I mean we turned a frown upside down by being ridiculous, but I can totally see where people are coming from.  The whole bot presence in the area was ludicrous.  They even had a bot guild.  WTF is that?  Can I just report a whole fake guild?  I'm debating about finding some Elyos, opening a store to chat with them, and leading them to the promised land of bots for a culling.  As much as I dislike the pidgeons, it might have to happen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ruffled Feathers

A soft, white light lights up my feathers, startling me out of the trance-like state I'd settled into. The color plays through the reddish feathers that encase my blue skin, sending strange patterns across the smooth canvas. What had I been doing?

Memories of the last few days come flooding back in a hailstorm of blood and battle cries. I sit perched atop an archway outside of Primium Fortress, the main Asmodian stronghold in the Abyss. Fighting had been intense the last couple of days, and I had laid down to rest after a particularly rough battle, folding my soft wings around my battle-hardened body and falling quickly asleep atop high atop the fortress.

Standing up, stiffness swels through my body, loosing a small groan from my full, orange lips. In an effort to limber up, I unfold my impressive wings, my emerald eyes sliding shut in contentment at the feeling of my wide wingspan stretching out behind me. I was still getting used to this set of wings. Until recently, wing modification had been a foreign concept to me; I had been using the same set I'd ascended with.  Recent instruction had informed me of the modifications available to Daevas of a certain prowress.  The strength of my new wings still baffled me as I recalled my old ones.  It was easy to understand the draw for new Daevas to modify their wings.  The felt so good.  I was glad I'd taken avantage of the opportunity to improve my feathers.

Furling my wings back up behind me, I sigh as they disappeared from view, leaving me feeling rather grounded.  The surrounding emptiness calls to me: fly, and soon enough I'll acquiesce.  I carefully straighten my clothes, brushing the abyss dust off of my skirt tails.  My shirt clings tightly to my body, I note appreciatively.  The piece had just recently been given to me by the vendors here in Reshanta, courtesy of my efforts in support of the Asmodian cause.  I absolutely loved the new threads.  Not only were the colors pretty and vibrant, but the shirt appeared to be somehow tied into my personal flow of aether, resulting in a curious effect when I began to channel the energy in battle. 

Brushing one of my orange locks behind my ear, I start to pull aether from the air around me.  Similar to stretching out my wings, it is always nice to get a little aether flowing after to liven you up.  What a rush!  I quickly pull out my orb as the aether lights up my body.  Who would have ever thought that death could look this good.

Thoughts of my recent expeditions and battles bring a smile to my face as images of fallen white feathers rain around me.  Pigeons were so soft.  They didn't have the claws to face us in battle, choosing instead to lurk around and prey on the younger, more inexperienced Daevas.  Well, they'd better start watching their hairless backs, because I'm becoming a force to be reckoned with.  I fight fire with fire... and ice, and earth, and whatever other elements I feel like conjuring up to do my bidding. 

Now that my blood is flowing, I look around for Awrath, my partner in crime.  It is hunting time again.  A light gust caresses my smooth skin as a bundle of burgundy feathers tumbles to a stop beside me.  Awrath totters precariously on the edge of the archway for a moment before regaining her balance and smoothing out her short leather skirt.  She's still getting used to flying and the challenges of Daevahood.  Where the wind had embraced me as merely another breeze, Awrath still had a tendency to fight it.  I'm not saying she isn't also an impressive Daeva, because she certainly is.  Her stealth has taken many an Elyos warrior by surprise, leaving them helpless beneath the barrage of her twin blades and sending bloody feathers through the air like some sort of morbid pillow fight.  She's just a bit awkward in the air still.

With a nod, our wings flare out beside us as we take to the sky, the chaos of the Abyss whirling around us.  Word was spreading that an Elysian strike force had assembled near Sulfur fortress and was preparing to strike.  Our wings flap furiously as we hasten to aid in it's defence.  As we approach, we note that the attack has yet to begin even though a sizeable flock of pigeons sit eagerly just outside the range of the fortress archers, obviously preparing for an assault.

We quickly check in with the fortress defence and stop by the chamber in the heart of the fortress to gaze in awe at the last line of defense.  What an impressive Daeva, but what's more, our wings are starting to look more like his.  Perhaps some day we'll be as powerful.

Shouts from above indicate that the bleached bastards have begun their assault.  I glance over only in time to see Awrath's backside as she sprints up the ramp and out of the chamber, pulling her bow out on the way.  Gathering in aether, I too prepare myself for battle, releasing my orb from it's perch on my arm and causing the air around me to crackle with energy.  Those pigeons are going to pay for the Asmodian blood they've spilled.  It is on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Elemental Shaman: 29 Twink


Hello all!

You're probably wondering, "Hey Fuu, what's up with the title?"

Well, you see, when Killing'em Slowly was first conceived, it was ALL WARLOCKERY and none for all of you lesser classes. As time went on, Fulguralis & I have softened our edges and paladin goo spilled onto the page.


Yes, thank you Golem. *cough* As I was saying, as time went on, more classes have teased us and our horizons have broadened since May of 2008.

Fulguralis with his Warlock that lead to a Tanking/DPS DK that traveled to a new game that spawned a Hot Spiritmaster babe.

I started with a Paladin that lead to a Priest that traveled to Aion that spewed out an assassin.

I, also, have a lvl 61 BM Hunter that I've played with a little recently. She was the receiver of my Recruit-a-friend levels. She went from 41-60 so I felt obligated to give her some love. The only problem that I have with her now is I've missed 20 learning lvls with her and now I have no clue what to do. She just feels alien to me (has nothing to do with her being a Draenei).

Anyways, before I go off on a massive ADD tangent(Which I think I just did), I need to tell you why I titled this post. It's probably not all that hard to guess but I've rolled a Shaman in the hopes that I can create a twink.

Now, I've pvp'ed before. I started doing it on my paladin with my tank spec but I'm not a fan. Finally when I got dual-spec, I figured an LOLRet would be much more exciting since everyone talks about how OP they are in pvp. Again, I was swearing at my screen more than I would have liked. Abigora made me realize that it was possible to enjoy pvp, just not the melee part of it. I started running her as Shadow when I was lvling and Fear bombs just made me laugh. I've found that I get more Honor points when I run disc spec and feel that I have MUCH more control over the situation as long as I have a DPS to protect me. I also found that more people stick by my side when I'm a healer verse just another DPS in the mix.


Since I've achieved my goal of getting Abi to 80 & have her geared enough to raid, I have TONS of "gaming" free time. WoW has so much to offer as long as you're creative and willing to learn.

So, here's what I'm doing. I rolled a shammy and stripped my hunter of her BoA gear. She had the +haste trinket and the XP shoulders. It was the leather/mail AP ones. Since my goal is to create an Elemental Shaman, those wont really do will they. I understand that there are PvP BoA gear out there that would be perfect for this. I poked around at the Wintergrasp Vendors and sure enough, there they were. Selling for those STUPID Shards that drop when the Alliance owns Wintergrasp. Mother of God! The alliance SUCK at pvp on our Server. I've been running heroics like crazy on Abi and I have a whole WHOPPING 100. One BoA piece goes for 200-250 Shards... Well neat. I could potentially buy the PvE caster leather for her but this is a twink damn it! I want to make an actual twink not half ass this.


BoA PvP Gear that is accessible to me:
-Shoulders (Caster Leather/Mail)
-Chest (caster Leather/Mail)
-Weapon (Shamans Dual wield at 40, so that's out of the question) maybe a staff? or should I try for the sword & board style? We shall see what gives me better stats.
-trinkets (I have the Haste one that when you kill someone who gives you honor or XP, it gives you some health back. That sounds pretty useful)(The other one should be something a long the lines of getting out of CC)

Then I'll just have to start running Warsong Gulch's until my eyes bleed when I hit 11. I have no clue what an 11 Elemental Shaman (well, with 2 talent points, I'm not sure I can be called that) would do in there. Probably just die... A TON. I only plan to run PvE content if it gets me gear that I can use. I'm going to take full advantage of the XP in Battlegrounds to get me from 11-29.

Why lvl 29 you ask? Well, I've heard that elemental shamans, and shamans in general, really blossom at the 29 bracket. When I think of twink, I think of 19 but when I started poking around on some Forums (WoWhead and Shaman blogs) there is a clear focus on the 29 bracket. Not sure why but I guess I'll find out when I get there.

I'll bet that there is a TON of info about Elemental Shaman twinks but maybe I'm too lazy or it's actually sorta hard to find it. When I start accruing Talent points, I'll allot them where I see to be the most helpful. I want to find a spec that suits my playstyle and gives me the most bang for my buck.

Ok, this is where you come in gang. I want to hear about your experiences & opinions about twinks. If you've twinked any toon, let me know which you picked and why? Are they fun or just a PITA & expensive? I would love to hear from you :)

Thanks again for all of your help!


Note: You're also probably wondering wtf is up with the picture added to this post. Well, I google image searched "twink" and sure enough, that popped up. I think he's from Rainbow Bright. Anyways, there you have it folks, when I think of Twinks, I'm now thinking of my Shammy flying down a rainbow dropping totems to flame your sorry asses.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Frost DK Tanking Methodology

J essabelle over at Miss Medicina wrote an article a few days ago that provides a great lead-in to my thoughts on this topic. Part 2 can be found here, but part 1 really lays out a basis for my thoughts on a tanking "rotation".  You see, I believe that, when it comes to spell usage in WoW, there are two polar opposite approaches.  There is the rotation approach and the reflexive approach.

The Rotation Approach
This is where affliction warlocks will start nodding their head in deep suppressed glee.  We live and die by the rotation.  There is a certain set of spells that, when executed perfectly, will result in the highest amount of deeps. This is fact, and this is really the definitive example of a rotation approach.  Very little of what we do is dependent on an outside stimulus.  The majority of our effort is spent minimizing the wonky abilities of each boss so as to be able to execute our rotation nearest to perfection as possible.  A small slip here or there will show up in our numbers, while we are (mostly) rewarded for perfection by topping the charts.  This is one kind of challenge.

The Reflexive Approach
If you ever take any psychology courses, you'll probably talk about "shades of gray".  Basically, the mantra here is that, while there are extremes of nearly every type of personality, most of us fall somewhere in between.  The easiest way to visualize this is to think of a grayscale slider with white and black on either end and every possible shade in between.  Somewhere there's a 50/50 mark, and most people will fall closer to this than they will to the extremes.

So if warlockery is one extreme, then I think perhaps tanking is the other extreme.  As far as I know, there is only one real rotation in the tank world, and that is the paladin "696" thing.  I really don't know what it is, other then that it classifies as a rotation.  Every other class in WoW, I would argue, falls somewhere in between on this slider.  Some DPS classes rely more heavily on rotational approaches, some on reflexive.  Same with healing.  Same with tanking.  I think tanking in general falls closer to the reflexive end, with DPS hanging out near the rotational end.  Healing is probably closer to the 50/50 mark depending on the class.

Which is more challenging?
In any case, the real reason this is relevant is because Fuu always asks me, now that I'm tanking, which is harder.  Which do I find more challenging.  I have to say, honestly, after doing a good amount of both... neither.  They both represent unique challenges.  It's the old apples to oranges thing.  What's challenging in one spec isn't nearly as challenging in the other.  DK's are a great example of this because while you're in your DPS spec, you definitely can and should have a rotational approach.  There is some reaction involved, but it's been said that it's sort of like a plate-wearing warlock.  There's a reason for that.  Then when you're tanking, it's the opposite.  Your rotation really goes out the window as things become highly situational.

So, if not a rotation, what do you do, Ful?
I'm glad you asked, bold-self.  Just because tanking is more reflexive doesn't mean that we shouldn't go in without a plan.  As usual, our plan must be two fold: one for AoE situations and one for single targets.

Single Target
The very first thing I try to do here is put on diseases.  After that, I'll Obliterate and Frost Strike as I can, keeping the diseases up. I don't want to FS too much so as to leave myself with enough RP to hit Rune Strike whenever the button lights up.  Remember, Rune Strike is proc dependent (on a Parry), which we should be doing a lot of as DW tanks.  Also, it's one of our best threat attacks. You really should be doing a lot of rune strikes, basically hitting it whenever that button lights up.  Since RS is not attached to your GCD and doesn't really have a cooldown, it shouldn't really effect your tanking "rotation".  Just hit it and go about your business.

Since I have the glyph of Disease on my tank but not the Howling Blast glyph, I do have to pay attention to my Icy Talons buff to try to keep that refreshed for the good of the raid.  This isn't so bad as you may not want to AoE in single target situations anyways.  Thus, keeping the diseases up manually provides you a greater control on your damage and threat.  Still, it's nice to know if I need to keep a few adds locked on that aren't being AoE'ed, I can just keep the diseases up on them and not have to worry about much else.

Multiple Targets
For multiple target situations where you have to hold aggro over AoE attacks and for other reasons, different skills will come into play.  It will also make a rotational approach more cumbersome, as you'll run into some cool down issues and such.  I welcome suggestions on how to weave this stuff together better, but I think it's just how it goes when you're trying for high AoE threat.

A bit part of any AoE trash-zerg is going to be the initial burst threat.  With the ease of trash and threat generation in this expansion, DPS have been taught to be impatient on pulls and just open up right away.  As a tank, you'll need to be prepared for this and front load your approach accordingly.  Thus, I lead off with a DnD immediately followed by a Howling Blast.  These spells represent a good combo of both burst and non-burst threat generation, giving you a great set up that usually keeps trash locked on you until death with little or not more threat needed.

However, if it's going to be a longer fight, then I'll try to put up diseases and use Pest to spread them. Usually it becomes a bit awkward with runes at this point, but I usually have enough of a lead that I can use some of my RP dumps to pump up threat on a single target.  I might even jump around with a tab target to spread out some FS's.  After that I just try to keep up diseases and throw in a HB whenever I can not really returning to a DnD cast unless there is a fresh wave of mobs joining in.  DnD is a great spell, it just takes a lot of runes away.

Speaking of waves (thing Gothik in Naxx), the approach there has to be a bit different as well.  When I know I'm going to be getting waves, I'll just save enough runes to try and keep up my DnD/HB combo with each waves, just mixing RP dumps in between or auto-attacking.  Waves usually die fast enough that the initial aggro is enough, but it can be tricky.

 In all situations you'll want to spread out your cool-downs as well.  As frost DK's, we have three we want to be aware of: Anit-Magic Shield, Unbreakable Armor, and Icebound Fortitude.  The Anti-Magic shield is great for when your group is getting AoE'ed or attacked by, you guessed it, magic.  The last two are going to decrease incoming damage in general, so are great to stagger to give you healers a break.  They have pretty short cool-downs, so should be used more often than you'd think.  Still, knowing the tough part on fights is key as a tank, and saving these abilities accordingly can be the difference between success and failure.  Know what they do, and try to figure out when to use them.   Communicate with your healers.

Other than that, it's mostly a priority system more than a rotation: just try to use the right skills at the right time. It's been my experience that a tanking "rotation" is better off being flexible since you have to react a lot more but is also more forgiving since you don't have to be perfect to generate good threat. You just have to do the right things at the right time and stay alive.  

Like I said above, both DPS and tanking are challenging, just different challenges and purely rotational thinking doesn't always tell the whole tanking story.  Hopefully you can get a good picture of what I'm doing and see if it helps you.  So far, this approach has worked really well for me, allowing me to generate respectable threat and keeping me alive in some tough situations.  As always, though, I'm certainly open to suggestions.

(Side Note: I tried to clean up the linked DK Tanking post on the left, and also put two links to this post in there to sort of tie it all together in a one-stop tank-shop.  Let me know if I missed anything.  Also, Ful wrote this, Fuu just deleted it on accident and had to fix it... that's why it says she posted it.  She doesn't DK tank though!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Block the Bad, Absorb the Good. (Web)Circles.

Since my wife called me out yesterday, I figured I might as well go ahead and get on with it. Three questionnaires in ten days might bore you, but I'm hearing that people are actually getting something out of these, so who am I to stop the rain (of fire)? In any case, my DK tanking stuff continues to get good comments and traffic, so I can only guess that there is a pretty decent amount of interest out there. Here's hoping I satisfy some of your curiosity.

This circle of tanks is an adaptation of Miss Medicina's webring of healing that's taken the blogosphere by circular storm. Sort of like a Dyson. Or the Carousel. It goes up and down and around, in a circle. Circular. All good things.  All good things.

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Decedereful, the Dual Wielding Frost Loving DK.  My spec is linked on here if you want specifics.

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Heroics and Lower-end raids, both 10 and 25. 

What is your favorite tanking spell for your class and why?
I'll answer this with a quote from Mortal Kombat: "Come here!"  I want that sound effect when I use death grip really, really badly.

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?
Death Strike.  That's the one where you hit them and get health back right?  Yeah, I always forget I have that option.  So unwarlocky of me.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?
We're like the tanking tool-box.  We have a tool for just about anything.  Want some burst AoE, have a howling blast.  Prolonged AoE, here's some disease and a DnD.  Single target, eat runstrike bia.  Plus more cool downs that I can shake two one handed weapons at.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?
It seems like we're harder to heal than most.  I think it's a combination of things, but the weakness is just being hard to heal.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?
Give me the adds any day of the week.  Perhaps I'm an OT at heart, but with so many tools available... MT tanking is just a waste, IMO.  Unless it's a really complicated MT fight with lots of aggro dumps or something.  Plus, you probably don't want the big baddies whaling away on me.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?
Paladins.  Between a good Pally and a good DK, ain't nothing gettin' at yo party.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?
Druids.  I can never tell if they're AoE'ing and, if so, when and on what.  Even warriors at least have a large sound/sight effect with their AoE.  Sometimes the druidism gets lost in the chaos I think.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
Not waiting for mana.  As a warlock main... I don't think I've ever experience OOM in any of my adventures.  As a tank, this means I'm constantly asking "WTF are we waiting for?!"

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
Getting anal about your buffs.  They're a gift for the family.  If you can't do your job without a perfect "buff status" then maybe you're just not that good.  (I don't usually run on the "bleeding edge" of content, so while it may be more pertinent to get all your buffs at a higher level, where I'm running... it's nice, but geeze, get off it already, you'll get 'em when you'll get 'em, don't be a nag).

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?
I don't get into the heavy theorycrafting, but I feel like I take more damage right now than a comparatively geared tank.  Maybe I'm just not using my cool downs right or whatever, but it does seem that way.  Maybe we need a small buff?  Tank balance now is better than it's been in ages though, even if it's a bit homogenized.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
Omen and if we survive.  I'm sad that recount really doesn't tell me a whole lot.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
We all suck.  A properly played DK is quite a formidable weapon due to the sheer number of abilities we have.  I mean, hello, epic class.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?
How to put all your tools in finger's reach and use them at the right times.  Sure DG is cool, but if you run around using it on anything and everything, you're a deathknoob.  Timeliness and appropriateness are cherished skills in this game.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?
Health.  I need more of it.  Parry is good too though. That's what I want.

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?
Warriors.  I know thunderclap and charge and that's about it.  What are they always doing back there? 

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?
The DoT timers built into Xperl can be really useful for keeping an eye on your diseases.  It's really a holdover from my warlock play though.  I don't really have any tank-specific addons.

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
I'm pretty much still "gearing up" so it's really all about stacking emblems and buying the big upgrades.  I look mainly to stay def capped while picking up health and other stats.  I will probably try for balance.

That's it.  I tried to keep it short and un-boring.  Maybe I succeeded.  Maybe not.  You decide.

Tomorrow I'm going to try to continue the tanking series with some of my thoughts on the DK "rotation".  I realized I hadn't really covered that before and I've been getting tons of tank time on my toon as of late, so plenty of tweaking chances.  More on that tomorrow.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tanking in Circles or Circle of Tanks: Another Meme or Lazy "Educational" Post

Tanking. The final Frontier!
I've seen this Meme floating around on a few sites now and I figured since I did one for my healing alt, that I should really do it for my main.

PS: I found this picture here. It makes me smile to see someone's looking out for those hard working machines. Someone made it a pink quilt :D

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary tank?
Fuubaar, Protection Paladin. I would tell you my Spec but... I would have to kill you.

What is your primary tanking environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
Well, this has been changing a lot lately. Fuu is one of the best geared tank in the guild & our alliance so she has been called to duty quite a bit. Fuu's not picky as long as she's the center of attention. She mostly Raids 10-25mans and occasionally runs heroics if she's needed.

What is your favorite tanking spell for your class and why?
I would have to say Hammer of the Righteous. It makes me laugh when I hear that PING PING PING when it hits. I just image the mobs face in slow mo videos of boxers getting their lights punched out and the sweat & spit flying off to the side as their faces get smashed in. {yikes, that's pretty gruesome the more that I think about it}

What tanking spell do you use least for your class and why?
The newer spell that we just got in our Protection Tree. *scratches chin* Now, what's it called again? Divine Righteous Hand of Light? Well, what ever. I used it once as an off tank and I died from the damage. Well, I was mainly testing it out in Naxx to see what would happen. More or less, it's for an Off tank or a Retribution who enjoys helping out from time to time. I normally MT so I can't afford to take even more damage then I'm receiving. All in all, I think it's a dumb spell for a Main tank to use.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your tanking class and why?
Threat.Threat. Oh & did I say Threat? I seriously can run up to a boss, do 1-2 rotations on it & go AFK for the rest of the time. (wow, am I really Snottydin? I am a girl IRL)

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your tanking class and why?
Casters. Those Fuckers SUCK! Thank the Lord that they gave us a Silence to get them into our midst, but I remember pulling groups where the melee would be predictable & run at you but those Casters would just sit there & pot shot you until the healer would gain healing aggro & tickle them to death. Before, I would ask the Warlock to send the angry puppy in to do the dirty work. This still becomes frustrating when I do tank Heroic ToC (5-man) when you have to deal with the three random dudes. What ever.
Tl;DR Casters are our biggest weakness

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best tanking assignment for you?
Ok, this is where I have two answers:
1) Best assignment- Adds by far. Paladin's a great AoE threat & can round up stray adds pretty well.
2) Most enjoyable Assignment- Definitely Tanking the big brute. I absolutely LOVE being panic stricken when I see my health go flying all over the place. Knowing that the healers & I have this fight in our very grips is just a huge rush for me. Plus, I hate HATE hearing "Fuubaar, pick up the adds" makes me feel like such a worthless git.

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with most and why?
I've had the privilege of tanking with every class in the game and tbh, it really doesn't matter what class it is, but who's operating it. I've ran with high-end raiding Warriors that could make every gimmick look cheesy and I've ran with DKs who just do the proper things. I actually learned the basics of tanking from a Druid that still tanks by my side a year later. I don't think that I could pick just one of these individuals or classes saying that they are the best. Flame me for not answering the question :P

What tanking class do you enjoy tanking with least and why?
*scratches chin* Class wise, I would have to say DKs. I only say this because any pug that I've ever run in with a DK tank that I don't know normally noobs it up by taunting of the other tank, Death gripping at inappropriate times, and all around just making themselves look foolish. This probably also stems from Stereotypes but eh, you'll have that.

What is your worst habit as a tank?
Probably showing off. It's probably a bad case of, "Hey Mom! Look at me!" When I know the fights like the back of my hand & I'm not the Main Tank, it's hard for me to let the other tank have all of the fun. If that other tank dies during the fight, I secretly laugh & take over both assignments. "All heals on Fuu" best line ever :)

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while tanking?
Well, this doesn't really have anything to do with tanking but more as being a paladin. Paladin buffs Nuff said.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other tanks?
When I tanked in TBC, I really felt that Paladins had a sour reputation as a permanent Off-tank. We were pigeon holed into Add tanks and were there just to be a sidekick. When WotLK came out & it's changes to our class, I've really felt that we've received the proper tools to become on-par or even better prepared to be MTs for any fight. We have a really great Mitigation/Avoidance balance that many other tanks strive for. I'm a mitigation nut & stack more block than I probably should but I'm excited to see how this pays off in IceCrown with the Avoidance Aura debuff. I believe that Paladin tanks are really going to shine.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a tank?
Mainly, Omen for threat. During gimmicky fights, those are usually evaluated by people struggling to live or healer deaths. If everyone lives & I'm not gasping for air, then I'll call it a win.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
After TBC & the "Paladin's are only good at add tanking" shenanigans, Paladin's still are misconstrued as being poor threat on single targets. Protection Paladin's are versatile tanks that can handle a variety of different tanking situations as well as or even better than the other tanking classes.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new tanks of your class to learn?
Truly understanding the tools that you have and using them properly and in a timely manner. To my knowledge, Paladin's are the only tanks with a true rotation (969) that is found to be the most effective in regards to TPS & DPS. Being able to ease the pain of healers by blowing cool downs really sets you apart from poor & regular tanks. The best thing you can do as a new tank is find a mentor or a teacher. They don't need to necessarily be of the same class but learning little tips & tricks makes the learning process go so much more smoothly than flying blind & solo.

Effective Health or Avoidance and why?
I'm a block stacking nutcase! I remember a few Patchwerk fights where I would be taking hatefuls & laughing with glee when his all mighty hits were being weakened by 10k or more. That's ridiculous! Not only are you reducing the incoming damage by gobs but your health is a lot more predictable and much easier to manage as a healer. Spike damage is bad :(

What tanking class do you feel you understand least?
Probably either a DK or Warrior. Dk's I'm getting a better understanding now since Fulguralis is trying one out in tank-mode. Warriors seem pretty simple because they have similar tools as a paladin but TBH I don't even know which tree is their tanking one. Arms, Fury, Furious Limbs? WTF?!

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in tanking?
PallyPower! You are not a paladin until you download this ADDON! I'm not joking around. People will hate you! I also have an addon which announces when I use Divine Protection so healers know that I'm taking 50% damage or I was about to die. It also announces if my Avenger's Shield missed. This is a warning for DPS to be careful of their threat. They may end up with a mob chewing on their face since I didn't get initial aggro. I would like to set it up for Ardent Defender warnings.

" Healers WTF!?! I just died!"

Do you strive primarily for balance between your tanking stats, or do you stack some much higher than others, and why?
Overall, I believe that a good balance of avoidance & mitigation is really the way to go. I've geared Fuu exactly the way that I find gear. If it's an upgrade in Stamina, Armor, Defense, and either Dodge, block or parry, I'll replace the gear. I have horrible luck when it comes to drops so I just roll with the RNG punches.

Now that I've taken your time, I'm going to ask that my Hubby responds to this as well. He's just started tanking and I'm very interested in his answers.

Ok hun! All you :D

Friday, November 6, 2009

Monopolizing The Adventures

The magical backpack falls to the floor of the house with a clatter, a helm and several other pieces of plate armor spilling out and clanking loudly against each other.  Decedereful leans heavily against the counter top and struggles to catch her breath.  Then she remembers: hey, I don't need to breatheI'm a death knight.

Straightening up, she surveys the room, meeting the eyes of each inhabitant as if daring them to make a comment.  Fulguralis looks up from where he and Fuubaar had been playing what appears to be an intense game of monopoly with several of his minions.  Hotels and houses dot the board, evidencing that they've been at it for quite a while, which made sense now that she'd been getting the lion's share of the raiding.  She knew it burned her brother up that he wasn't able to get any further into Ulduar, but his group had stalled, giving her the opportunity to try her luck at some of the other, older hot spots around Azeroth. 

Midnight the Succubus and Berry Blue the Voidwalker sit cat-a-corner from each other on one side of the board while the happily married couple round out the foursome.  Perched on a nearby counter is Sparkie, the Felhunter, apparently observing the scene from a higher vantage point.  Spaz can be heard in the background running repeatedly into the closed door to the cellar.

Except for the periodic thumping made by the Imp, the room has grown still with Decedereful's entrance and all eyes are now trained on her.  If death knights could blush, this one might have done so as she casually leans down to scoop her equipment back into her bag, rattling it around some more in the process.  With a heavy sigh, she lifts it and stows it on the shelves that stand near the front door of the large home.

Fulguralis is the first to speak.  "So how did it go?" he asks.

"Fine, except for having to carry around all this damn gear..." Decedereful trails off, looking sheepishly towards the paladin.  A raiding newbie such as herself obviously shouldn't complain in the presence of a seasoned veteran such as Fuubaar.  After all, hadn't the helpful servant of the Light warned her about this very thing?  Besides, Decedereful suspected the paladin was a bit sore about the raiding subject too since she hadn't seen much action lately either. 

"Yeah, it's a pain in the ass isn't it?" Fuubaar points out rhetorically, taking a swig of the ale sitting next to her and once again surprising Decedereful with the use of profanity.  A creature of the Light shouldn't curse, right?  Or drink?  Only corrupted undead creatures such as herself should take such liberties.  Still, who is she to question the legendary Fuubaar?

As Decederful stands lamely in the doorway, contemplating the comparitive behaviors or paladins and death knights, play resumes in the monopoly game.  Fuubaar is apparently playing the sack of money, while Midnight and Berry Blue are playing the racecar and top hat respectively.  The remaining piece seems strange to Decedereful as she stands at a distance; it appears to be glowing.

After removing her boots, she nods at Dusty, her ghoul, indicating that he may go over and join Sparkie near the counter.  The ghoul shuffles excitedly over and begins mumbling to to felhunter.  As she watches, Sparkie noses his way into a cabinet and reemerges with a bowl of mage brains clamped triumphantly in his jaws.  Shaking her head, Decedereful saunters towards the game in progress and leans over her brother's shoulder.  Glancing down, she gets a better view of his strange game piece as he moves it.  It becomes obvious to her immediately that Fulguralis has modified the piece with enchantments.

Realizing what the miniature is, she puts her hand over her mouth to stifle a gigle as her brother glances up at her with a raised eyebrow.

Fuubaar rolls her eyes, "Yeah, it's the wheelbarrow. He's so clever."

Decedereful can't help it now and she laughs, "But he filled it with burning corpses!"

"Ah, ha," Fulguralis corrects, holding up a finger.  "Burning corpses stabbed with sporks, the evilest of all utensils."