Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DoTs Strike Again!

5 comments
In the continuing trend of laziness due to lack of time, I'll let the picture I took tell the story this time. Once again, DoTs saved the day. That and our evasion tanking rogue (as you can see from the conversation below). Definitely a team effort to avoid failure :-). For some reason, it's these type of kills that I like the best; when you're on the edge and just barely pull it out through good play and quick thinking. We're still learning a lot of these fights, but this is why I like playing with the group we have: the cheers and warm fuzzies that go out after a kill like this. Here's the pic:

Merely a Flesh Wound, Indeed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Things Are Heating Up

2 comments
The month of July shall forever (after this one) be known as my wedding month. As such, it's getting a little busy around home. Thus, I may be a bit flaky on the posting for this month, as RL will come and go. I have a plan to make something that'll cover my wedding and honeymoon time "off" and I'm hoping its cute/funny. However, don't expect much of substance from me over the next month as I'll just go for entertaining and short instead. That is, unless they sneak a live patch in on me... then I might have to do a REAL post :-).

So in the spirit of randomness, today I wanted to share a screen shot from a game I've been trying out recently (you may have heard of it): Aion. Thanks go out to Ixobelle who really turned me on to the game with his recent post about it.

This shot really illustrates a lot. You can see the UI (stock), even with some quest tracking on the side. You can see the beauty of it. You can see some small skirmishes in the background. And you can see the wings! ZOMG wings. I'm going to give all the classes a try and pre-order my copy soon (I've cancelled my EVE subscription by the way. It was all right, just didn't really hook me). By the time this comes out in September, I'll have time to enjoy it. It's not going to replace WoW, by any means, but it is another game that is REALLY fun. If you want better reviews, Ixo's is good and so is Samo's over at Hardcore Casual. So, anyway, here is the shot:

Yes, I'm playing a girl. I have a guy too, but he's not nearly as stunning :-).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Please Mr. Postman.

4 comments
Blahahahahah. I-wentandransacked-mymaster's-room-whenhewasn't-looking-and-found-copiesofthese-hiddenaway-in-his-sock-drawer. HeeHeeHee! NowI'll-publish-them-for-alltosee. He'll-besoangry! Haha! Whataclever-imp-I-am! This'll-teach-him-to-neglect-me-infavor-of-thatwhorish-succubus! Ohno-herehecomes! Yeeeeeeeeeeeeee! *Click*

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Fuubaar,

I apologize for not fully appreciating your clever ruse of stealing the throbbing organ that normally resides in my chest. A warlock like me can certainly appreciate the lengths you must have went to to nick it from me unnoticed. However, I'm noticing that it's absence is causing me some measure of distress.

I have rather enjoyed fighting by your side in the recent weeks. Your plate armor is oh-so-shiny in the light of my fire. It rather does compliment your exquisite form. I can't say that I normally meet with members of the raid team outside of the various dungeons we assault, but the fluidity of your combat prowess leaves me breathless. Perhaps we could meet in The Slaughtered Lamb the next time you're in Stormwind and share a drink, or even in a private dungeon of your choosing.

Anxiously awaiting your response,
Fulguralis

P.S. - Please bring the heart.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Fulguralis,

I'm a little curious as to why you, sir, feel that I have stolen such a precious object from you. A soldier of the Light would never steal! Rest assured that my own heart, however, is in its rightful place and presently racing out of its cage. Fortunately, I may have an idea of where we might find your Heart and I should be able to aid in that endeavor.

Let us meet one week hence in The Slaughtered Lamb and I shall assist you with locating your missing Heart.

With Hope,
Fuu

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flame Leviathan Hard Mode Tips and Tricks

14 comments
I think it's common knowledge that Flame Leviathan, in its purest form, is a pretty simple encounter. However, adding a few towers up can step up the difficulty dramatically. Some nights, when we've been short on healers and are our "off nights" as far as the alliance 25-man push is concerned, we've been just taking a random ten players to do Flame Lev with towers up. We've got one tower down, but struggle with two.

For one tower, we leave the Tower of Storms up. This tower means that the big L will periodically activate some shafts of white light that appear around the boss chamber during the fight. The light does damage if you sit in it, plus has a small area of AOE around it. The goal with these is just to avoid them. It's probably the simplest to leave up.

For two towers, we leave storms and add the Tower of Frost to that. The frost tower up means that Mr. Lev will also have a light blue (hard to discern from white) pillar of light that will move around, eventually settling on top of one player vehicle. Obviously, you can tell the difference between the two, if not by the slight color difference, then by the fact that it's moving around. When this pillar stops on top of you, you need to get the hell away from it. It's going to launch a frost ball that will entomb you if you and anyone near if you don't get away. We leave this one up because the directive "avoid all pillars of light" is a pretty easy one to keep in mind.

The other two towers are fire and life. Fire adds to the boss' damage by 50% as well as creating a shower of fireballs that marches around the room. Life creates four spawn points in the corners of the room for plant adds that will annoy you and do damage. All towers add to the overall health of the boss. Feel free to choose other towers, we just thought the two we chose were the simplest.

With that in mind, I thought I'd relate some tips and tricks we've learned along the way. Feel free to add to my list if you know of any.
  1. Siege drivers must interrupt Flame Vents - Look for the cast bar, get it done. This is a must.
  2. Run in a straight line away - Don't perpetually circle, as he'll catch up faster by cutting off your path. The shortest path between two points is always a straight line, remember this. Don't get yourself caught in a corner, but try to minimize your turning.
  3. Run him over the oil slicks - Duh! Extra damage is good, but don't get yourself rammed or in a shaft of light in the process. Remember he takes the shortest path to you... if you turn immediate after going over a slick, he's not going to hit it! He follows you in a line. If you've ever gone water skiing... think of it like that: he's tethered to you with a line at that point.
  4. The 10 stacks of pyrite from your demolishers are your best source of damage, keep them fueled and up at all costs. There are a couple of tricks to do this, since you'll lose one gunner by launching them up top (on 10 man, and which you should still do!). You can run with one less motorbike (or even less a siege gunner), and have them hop into the demo gunner spot after launch. Or, you can have the driver swap spots in the vehicle after parking it near pyrite to pick it up. Both strategies have their obvious risks. We haven't really tried either of these yet, but there is a handy macro for switch your seat: /script VehicleNextSeat().
  5. If you're leaving the Frost Tower up, recall that a shot from the gunner will break the ice tomb if you mess up and get iced.
  6. Use your speed boosts and shields! Gunners can't be asleep at the wheel here. If you're cornered, remember you CAN go THROUGH him. Hit your speed burst and get to the other side.
  7. Get yourself ready to run BEFORE he chooses you. If you're using a DBM-like addon, you'll know when he's about to change targets. Anticipate he's going to choose you and give yourself a few seconds head start. Get yourself pointed and positioned. If he doesn't end up coming after you, you can always return to what you were doing. This especially important if you're already close to him (Siege Drivers), as he'll flip pretty quick and then you'll take some ram damage... no bueno! This is a bigger tip for 10 man (where it's more likely he'll choose you), but good to keep in mind for everyone.
  8. If you're on a motorbike: don't leave your paratrooper hanging. When he goes "offline" drop some oil under him, then spend your time finding your brave extravehicular group mate. Nothing sucks more than getting cut down by artillery fire as you're hoofing it back towards the demo that's three leagues away.
  9. If you're a demo driver: pause a moment when the bike drops off your brave gunner. If something sucks more that #8, it's when you get dropped off and have your demo driver pull away from you and you get shelled trying to run him down while furiously clicking on your screen. Dying at the wheel of your vehicle is just cruel. (Edit: you should be able to go straight from the bike to the demolisher by clicking the arrow. I supposed I'd just always assumed that wouldn't work...)
  10. If you're a siege gunner, use the shield when he's about to ram you. Don't freak out and use it when he targets you but is still 10 yards away. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a shield wasted because the gunner apparently doesn't watch the screen. The only time this should be right away is if your driver didn't follow tip number 7.
And that's my top ten. I can't think of any more right now, but I'm sure there are plenty. Feel free to add to this in comments. Also, in theory it's great to have a kite path. If you can keep him on one axis (preferably between two corners), you can drop oil a lot easier. However, this is a lot harder to achieve in practice than it is to write on paper. The oil slickers really just need to pay attention to who he's following and keep the tether analogy from tip 3 in mind. Tip 7 is essential if you want to keep him on a kite path.

Have fun with this too. Hard modes have been a great thing for our alliance. We're not achievement chasers, but I have seen marked improvement in players by attempting hard modes. It's amazing how much smoother the "easy" modes go when you spend a few wipes on a hard mode before switching. I think players like the challenge, as long as you don't waste too much time banging your head against a wall. It's been great to switch it up a couple short nights a week with a hard mode try. Then, if you win when you don't expect to, that's a great feeling for everyone.

(Special thanks to our Alliance members Sniffit and Hopbounce who discussed this fight with me at some length last night and unknowingly contributed to my posting material)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The WoW Killer

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There seems to be a lot of unrest going around the WoW community right now. Perhaps it's just some pre-patch blues, but I think there's more to it than that. I feel like a lot of the player WoW player base are ready for a new challenge, and, lets face it, WoW is an old game. Blizz can tweak classes and other things all they want, but the bottom line is that, as a community, we've pretty much figured out their game. I mean, after every patch it takes what, a week, for new strategies to be posted and new rotations to be ironed out. (Maybe less with the number of people getting in on the PTR and such).

The time is ripe for the fabled "WoW Killer". It's been talked about for years now... what game is going to come along and dethrone WoW from it's dominating perch atop the MMO genre? Several have tried, none have really succeeded.

Now, before y'all go fatalistic on me, I want to point out three common misconceptions about what may or may not happen at the end of the WoW era, and what we really should expect to see:

A mass exodus of players will occur.
People seem to expect that some new game is going to pop up, and then all 11-12 million WoW players are just going to migrate en masse to this new game. I have news for you: not gonna happen. That's just not how people work. We gravitated to WoW over time because it had something for everyone. 11 million people didn't just wake up one morning and say: "hey, I think I'd like to integrate an MMO into my life and this WoW just came out..."

It's far more likely that we've all learned something over the years about what we enjoy in an MMO. A lot of people were introduced to MMO's through WoW. Therefore, before people are willing to jump ship on what, for many, is the only MMO world they've ever known, they're going to want to make damn sure their needs are covered by the new game. 11 million people just aren't going to jump ship and go to some new, shiny, unproven game.

This leads one to believe that it may not be just one "WoW Killer", but dozens of small, collective WoW killers that attract a certain sect of the player base. Thus, it is more likely to happen gradually as new games are introduced. We're not going to go from vibrant community one day to ghost town the next.

Yet, last I checked, WoW subscriptions are still growing. Why is that if there is such unrest in the community? Let's look at misconceptions two and three to shed some light on this.

Due to aforementioned "mass exodus", WoW will die.
There seems to be this common belief that, some day (perhaps sooner rather than later), WoW is going to die. Now, I guess all good things must come to an end at some point, but I think it's a lot further out than fatalists would have you believe. People have invested years of their lives into this game. We're not just going to bail on all that "work" because of some unfavorable changes or whatever.

Besides, many of us have friends that we play with. Don't underestimate the value of relationships on gaming. Whole families play together. You're not just going to ditch your family. I'd argue that the first people to go will be the people with the fewest ties in-game. For the rest of us, leaving WoW would be a big change in our lives, similar to moving to a different location. It would mean starting over on many of the relationships we've worked hard cultivate, and that's not something to be taken lightly.

Notice, I'm focusing on relationships and NOT gear/items. Sure the "things" we've accumulated may have sentimental value and may contribute to hanging on mentality, but I don't think that's the main reason people will stick it out. When it comes down to it, we can weather a lot of crazy Blizz changes if we're stuck here because of our friends and family. If you think about it that way, it's sort of easy to be Blizz since they can really do nothing wrong. You've already hooked the people we care about, nerf us to the ground and we'll stick around if only just to chat. Granted there's a limit to this, but I think its a big reason why we hang around in the face of unfavorable patches.

So, as long as WoW remains a family and friend place, I don't think it will ever really die. People may greatly decrease their play time and pick up other games to explore and get involved in, but until they are able to generate a new circle of trust in the new games, there will always be a reason to come back to WoW, even if you're just stopping by. Realistically, to re-create these circles of trust, it'll probably take a year or two. That's a year or two where 11 million people are playing WoW AND another game. It's not one or the other, and Blizz is sort of facilitating this by making things more "casual".

And since we've said that everyone isn't just going to up and leave at once, we're looking at at least a few more years of a healthy WoW community. It may fade, but it's going to be over the course of years, not days or even months. Which brings us to misconception 3...

The "new WoW" will be WoW-like.
I'm not talking about game mechanics here. I think people generally agree that any WoW-killer would have to bring something special to the table. I'm talking about the feeling of community, the craze, the newness of it all. This sort of goes back to misconceptions #1 and #2. It seems to me like people assume everyone is going to move to some new game leaving WoW playerless, and set up shop in this new game as if nothing ever happened.

It may be that this sort of community and world-wide appeal is a one time thing. Perhaps we'll all go our separate ways, finding games that do what we've enjoyed in the game well. All the PvP folks will go to one game, while the raiders go to another, while the explorers go to yet a third. It's so rare to have a game where so many different kinds of players and meet in one world, why do we assume it even IS going to happen again? Isn't it just as likely that we just find games that cater to us better as individuals or groups, and that those might be different games?

There are so many different types of communities out there, who's to say it's all going to happen in this way again? Well, it's not. Things very rarely work like that. We can never unlearn what we've learned with WoW as individuals, groups, and gamers. Why would we even want to? Therefore, whatever we build next will start a lot further down the road than we did with WoW. Sure, there will be new trails to blaze, but they're going to be different.

Let's wrap this up...
Okay, so I've babbled enough today, trying to quell the feeling of unrest that's in me. Writing is a cathartic process, right, but what is the point in sharing it? Well, I'm hoping that we stop looking for "the end" as a community. Stop looking at things in black and white, and start seeing that we'll be just fine in shades of gray. WoW isn't just going to up and end, surprising us all and leaving us lonely and empty feeling. On the other hand, we don't have to force ourselves to do things that we don't enjoy just to "keep it alive". People are going to come and go as situations change. The game is evolving, not dying, and even if it was, it wouldn't overnight.

We need to be flexible with it, and not so fatalistic. Patches aren't the end of the world... of warcraft. They're just different. Don't be afraid to try other games, it doesn't mean you have to choose one or the other. Focus on your relationships and get back to basics. Take breaks. But most of all... stop bitching! Stop trying to force WoW into your square box of understanding. Change is scary, but lets try to discuss this constructively as a community and take the good with the bad in stride. All this fatalistic crap is getting on my nerves and sucking the fun out of it. :-(

(Aside: Personally, I'm focusing on getting married... less than a month to go. Plus I play a bit of EvE and I'm looking forward to Aion as described by Samoden and the new Star Wars MMO that's in the works. I've been getting outside and playing some sports, plus football season is coming up, so coaching responsibilities are cropping up. I should probably pick up a console game some time soon too or my thumbs will begin to get jealous of my other fingers. There's plenty to do!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unusual Activity & the Frozen Reject: Fuubaar's Guide to the Fiery Festivities

8 comments

Hey Gang!

How's it going?

....

Ow that bad huh? Well, I'm sorry to hear that :(

Anyways... *cough

Midsummer Bonfire Bonanza is here! Bust out your Marshmallows & Smash some horde! If you're like me, you're most likely already finished "Honoring your Flames" & "Desecrated" (urinated freely) on Horde Fires. If you haven't, on J-Bizzle's blog, she talks about the new thing that Blizz is doing to Hot fix the shenanigans from last year.

Are we noticing a trend here? Has there yet to be a holiday that they didn't royally screw up? GG Blizz HIGH FIVE! Up high! Down low. Too slow....

On a better note, if you haven't done the chain quest that starts in your Major cities, it's mighty fun :D The beginning quest is called "Unusual Activity". They give you a totem (or Tawtum if you will) and you must fly out to Ashenvale to place this item in the Naga Camp to the north-west. Zoham or what ever the name is. Once up there, you will see a slew of people that aren't normally there. Humanoids & Tauren around lvl 25ish to thwart your plans. You must kill these humanoids & Tauren for a drop. Once you have received this drop, place your totem near one of the fires. It will summon a cute little Spirit Wolf (very similar to the Child in Children's Week) & you can turn in your item for the next quest.

Once you accept this next quest, the cutesy little wolfy will give you an item to use to disguise you from the Evil Humanoids & Tauren to spy. What is the most nonchalant looking critter to spy on evil-doers? HA! A Crab! That can hop :) Turn yourself into the crustacean & head north along the coast. You will see some odd groupings of people so you sit in the middle & listen to their conversation.

"Tom, why is this stupid Crab sitting here smiling at us and hopping?"
"I'm not sure Bill, but lets keep talking about our Evil Plans."
"Ok Tom"

Back to live action!

So, you've completed your task as a crustacean and now you need to call that cutesy little wolfy back to turn in your quest. Once you have done so, you can go back to the nearest (or the furthest if you so choose) Major City to turn in this quest & pick up that last quests.

This next part is adjusted by your current lvl. As a lvl 65 (I'm not sure where the cut offs where but my little pally friend was a 65 & he got this quest so yeah... wanna fight about it?) you receive two quests. As a lvl 80, you only receive one. The lower lvl quest takes you to the Dark Portal in Hellfire to summon a Rock Man. He's soloable at 65.

The main event quest takes you into the Depths of Slave Pens in Zangermarsh. Once you dive in to the tube & come out the other side, Slave Pens is the instance all the way to the Left. You'll know right away if you're in the correct instance if you walk in & see a lady Tauren with Totems around her with a big "?" on her head. Accept the next quest, and work your way down the tunnel. Kill the lobster trio & bring butter dipping sauce. Great appetizer before the big fight :D

Once you exit the tunnel, you will see another Tauren. Make sure to clear out at least the front part of this room because you will need the space for the fight. Accept this quest & buff up. Now, I knew that this guy was a lvl 70 elite so I didn't think anything of it but I wanted to be sure so I slipped on my Full tanking gear & half heartedly buffed up. I brought a lvl 65 Paladin & a lvl 80 Ulduar ready MM Hunter with me. I was thinking that this was going to be a short fight with some lootz at the end. Funny jokes on me...

This was how our fight went:

Once our little group was ready, our Hunter clicked on the big Crystal off to the left. It started some crazy streams flowing into the center crystal. I was thinking to myself, LOL cute it's trying to get pissed. I told our little pally to stand back because I knew that there were adds. Our hunter sent his pet in (poor poor Mefesto didn't even see it coming) and died on the floor. Elemental Adds spawned out of the Bosses body in pairs & in groups of threes. I rounded them up while the Hunter unloaded on the boss. The boss is stationary so our little hunter had fun. This was where things got a little interesting. Random spikes will shoot from the ground & throw you into the air (just like Anub'rekahn) and give everyone Falling Damage. I ran OOM pretty quickly from Consecrate & trying to DPS the adds down. After this first phase, the Boss stops spawning adds & goes into a Defensive Phase where he just sits there. This is a great time to heal up and try to get some mana back. The hunter whaled on the boss until it came out of the Defensive phase and started spawning adds & spiking us. Slowly our health had depleted & I had squeaked all of the mana I could out of cool downs. I stopped attacking & Started healing the hunter for what I had left in me because I knew that he could down him. The Boss went into his Defensive phase once more so I pulled out the ol' trusty band aids & started going to town on both of us.

Then, our little Achievement popped into our windows! HURAA! We got it. I was dying laughing from how exciting it actually was. We had almost died quite a few times but we pulled through. A chest was left from the dead boss (just like Four Horsemen in Naxx) and you get some mad lootz (for a lvl 70) and Shard for the quest.

Turn around & that little good for nothing Tauren stands there. Lazy bum... I WAS DYING & you could have at least spot healed you crazy cow! If NPC's could laugh at you, this lady would have been rolling on the ground. She accepts our Shard for 20 Blossoms & a Tabard of your choice! I got the Blue one because it matches my plate :)

This Concludes my Guide to the Fiery Festivities. So what should you learn from this encounter of mine? BRING A HEALER!!!!11!!!1!!!

WARNING: If you do though... it's not quite as exciting :WARNING

Monday, June 22, 2009

Affliction Warlock Update And Addon Suggestion

5 comments
I realize it's been a while since I've talked about anything that's truly afflicted. Between alliance politics and DK PvP'ing, I've pretty much only been raiding on my 'lock. I've been doing a lot of raiding, but there hasn't really been anything to report. I'm still using the same specs, glyphs, and rotations that I have bookmarked over there on the right of my page.

A lot of warlocks have switched over to Destro, and for good reason, but that's never been my bag. I'll sometimes swap over to my Demo spec on add wave heavy fights (like Gothik), but even then I miss my affliction. I've gotten a little better at leading off with a life tap to make sure to get that free buff up early, but otherwise just weave it in as needed. I don't play cleanly enough to insert it in at a specific point in the rotation; just have to be flexible with it.

I'm looking forward to seeing more of Ulduar, even though we've started the first few bosses as I evidenced in pictures last week. I can offer one trick for Loot Leviathon: If you're the one being launched up there, pull out your phase-shifted imp before the fight. He won't die when you're doing your superman thing, and he follows you on the ground giving your cyclists a good indication of where you're going to land. Sometimes it's easier to look for the grounded imp than the flying warlock. Hell, you can even mark him. I'm sure he'll love that feeling of importance. Other than that I haven't found anything too tricky yet.

I am playing around with a new warlock-targeted addon called ForteXorcist (or Fortex for short). Lodur over at World of Matticus wrote a post recently about it that brought it to my attention. I figured I'd give it a whirl.

I have to say, there are some really nice features in it. The best is that each feature can be independently disabled and enabled based on what you want. This allows me to slowly work some of the features into my play without overwhelming me right off the bat. It also is nice that I can turn off stuff that is covered by my other warlock addons like Necrosis. I think the most helpful thing it does for me right now is provide a summoning helper that lists all the folks in the raid that aren't near you. This can be useful for warlocks and raid leaders a like.

It also has a fairly easy to use buff/debuff timer that is great to use as a backup to X-perl. I've always like the large, number inscribed debuffs that are part of X-perl, but sometimes they seem to wig out and disappear or stack on top of each other, making it really hard to see. The built-in necrosis timer doesn't really work for me either (it always seems slow). Fortex's timer is pretty good. I'm also finding it helpful that it shows the duration of my self buffs. This is a great tool for watching your life tap spell power bonus.

The cooldown timer is nice to have as well. I find that I use it on both my DK and my Warlock, and there are some benefits to each. So, if you're looking for another addon to play with, I'd definitely recommend it. It seems highly customizable and helpful for anyone who uses spells with durations or cooldowns (who doesn't?).

That's about it from here. Are there any Warlock issues/questions out there that I'm unaware of at this time? From what I read, the Warlock community seems pretty quiet and content right now. We may get a couple of changes with the new patch, but I'll wait 'till it goes live to speculate, and there will always be a few QQ's. However, as a class on the whole, I think we're pretty solid right now. In any case, Blizz seems to be pretty focused elsewhere.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Warlock In Love

2 comments
(OOC aside: Just a reminder that, though the interwebs are awash in PTR test note gossip, I will attempt to refrain from writing about them until they go live. I'm not a PTR guy. I find that my blackened warlock heart will be broken when something ends up being thrown out, and then things get burned. What's that saying? Once fooled, twice shy? Blizz has a longstanding history of putting things on the PTR that don't go live. That's kinda what it's for. So don't get your ebonweave panties in a bind. Speaking of panties...)

She wasn't like the other women. I mean, I'd corrupted my fair share of Paladins, let me tell you. I guess you could say I'd had my own little Argent Crusade. Yet, there was something about this one.

She smiles when she's getting beat on. She holds up her shield while dangerous monsters of all types hurl their massive energies and brawn against it and just grins as if to say: "Harder". She's insane. That's it, that's what's different. She's crazy. She likes pain more than I do, and I'm a warlock.

She's not like a minion. I can't summon her and tell her what to do, as much as I think I'd like that. Still, she's not easily seduced by the demonic like the others. She's hard to get. Maybe that's it. I just want what I can't have. I suppose I should just steal her soul and be done with it. I am a warlock.

She doesn't gloat when she single-handedly saves people. She's completely humble about her own abilities. She doesn't see how talented she really is. Maybe that's it. Perhaps opposites attract. Modesty is not in my vocabulary. If I save someone, it's because I had their soul trapped in a stone and it's going to save me a trip through the spirit realm. When I kill something, you know it. I mean, I'm a warlock, right?

Prince of darkness, that's me.

Then why. Am. I. Obsessed. With. This. Paladin?! I don't know what it is about her, but I'm fascinated. I swoon at the casual way she flips her shield and it smashes into the face of a variety of opponents, spreading blood around like some sort of glorious Dalaran firework of flesh. I feel like I would follow her into fire that I CREATED. I think I've finally lost my mind to the demons, because this is more insane than summoning a voidwalker to try and piss off all the monster's in Archavon's Vault. At least then you'd have backup and like... healers and junk. There are no healers in the games she's playing.

Maybe she's a warlock in disguise and secretly has my soul in a shard somewhere. I think I'd notice that though. It's not my soul, that's missing.

I look down at my ash-stained clothing and take inventory of myself. Something's missing, that's for sure. It's not a limb. I think it's in the chestal region of my body, somewhere under this manly-robe. There was something there, and it's gone now. I recall it beating rhythmically once upon a time. It was small and probably charred, but it would beat, I was sure of it. What was that thing called again?

Oh yeah, the h... he... heart. That's it. She's stolen my heart! Well, that just won't do.

How could I not have noticed that? We were just in that tavern the other day too. Maybe that's why she was so cross with me afterward. She's obviously gone to great lengths to play this clever practical joke on me (it's quite hard to get one's heart out of one's chest without one noticing, even if it is an undersized warlock heart), and I was too much of a dolt to give her the pleasure of noticing.

Well there's an easy enough remedy to this situation. I'll just have to go ask her for it back. We'll have a good laugh and she'll return it. She has to, she's not evil after all. Right?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ulduar Pics

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Today is going to be another one of those boring, content-less posts where I put up some pictures for linking over at my Alliance website. I've only been in on a serious Ulduar raid twice now (we have previously just done Flame Leviathon on Monday nights to not waste the save and get the fun loot), but both tries have been pretty successful as far as new content goes. I blame a lot of it on being over-geared for the 10-man encounters. The progression path doesn't really alternate between 10 and 25 man instances, in fact it's more set up so you should pick one or the other. Having been running Naxx-25 a lot means that we're quite well geared for the 10-man version of Ulduar.

In any case, in both of my first two attempts we cleared through Auriaya, skipping both Ignis and The Assembly of Iron, with minimal wipeage. I'd have to say that's a lot better than I expected, though I know the real test will be when we begin doing 25-man Ulduar next week. This time we're foregoing the 10 man, two team learning approach in favor of learning it all together as a 25-man team. One of the problems with Naxx was that you ran it to exhaustion if you tried to run 10-man and THEN 25-man. We're just all so sick of it by now that we want to do anything else, even if it means massive wipeage. Thus, it's probably much better to take the approach of intermingling 10 and 25 man, instead of doing one than the other.

In any case, here come the pics...

I didn't photograph Loot Leviathon because, well, "loot" is the new affectionate name and we've busted him up a quite a bit now. I have to say, though, that the fight is still pretty fun. Also, we did him yesterday with one tower up successfully, so that's cool.

Razorscale is still hectic, but we're getting better at her...
Now With 10 Blades For The Smoothest Shave Yet!

XT-002 still creeps us all out with his/her childish voice and temper tantrums, but it's nothing we can't handle...
Oh, Grow Up Already. We'll Make You Stand In The Corner.

Kologarn still causes headaches with his shouting and poorly delivered Monty Python quotations...
Have At You!

And finally, Auriaya is quickly becoming my least favorite fight on the tour de Ulduar. What's up with all the interrupts and crap? Trying to keep my rotation clean on her just makes me want to punch kittens, which she conveniently provides. Sadly, I didn't take a screen shot of her demise because I was too busy yelling at my keyboard and replacing the keys I'd dislodged in my furious tapping.

It should be noted that we did all these fights last night with two healers and great DPS. It was certainly challenging for our healers (especially on Kologarn, who seems to delight in gripping and eyeballing our healers), who were up to the task it seems, and really made the bosses die more quickly (adding an extra DPSers on top of already good DPS will do that). So it was a really good night all around and reinforces the belief that we should greet Uld-25 with some success even though we're still definitely in the learning phase.

Here's a last pic of Fuu and I standing on Kolo's big, dumb head after we built a bridge ou' of 'em, it was her first time in Ulduar last night...

Grape Gravy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Diff'rent Strokes

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In case you're unfamiliar with the situation comedy, here's a plot summary: The misadventures of a rich Manhattan family who adopted the children of their late African American maid. (Thanks Imdb!). In addition, recall the saying: "Different strokes for different folks". Both are generally applicable in today's continuation of the trend started yesterday. I promise I'll move on to a different topic soon, but I feel that nearly everyone has gone through summer turmoil before, and I'm hoping some of our current struggles can be moderately helpful (or at least entertaining).

Let's start with the challenge. J-belle over at Miss Medicina *didn't* issue a challenge to me to explain my Top-Down approach to righting the ship that is our alliance. So, I'm *not* going to write about it. (In reading her article, you'll notice that perhaps I'm displaying a bit of beardishness here...)

So what's all this about taking the maid's kids? Well, that sort of describes my guild well. We're like a sitcom. We have a mish-mash of folks who probably have no reason belonging together. Half the time, the guild chat is in French. I don't speak French. Sometimes I'll reply in German, which I do speak. As you can guess, it can be chaotic. Additionally, J-belle writes from the perspective of a small, one game guild full of people who are geocentrally located.

Generations is a guild that exists across games and oceans. We have a sister guild on the EU servers that is actually more of the hardcore raiding time. If it's an MMO, someone on our forums plays it. Our guild existed before WoW. It's creepy to think about, but it's a great support network. We don't really recruit so much as people "fall into" us and find out that they can never leave (*evil cackle*). The point here is just that, we're probably the antithesis of J-belle's guild. At the focal point of these epic differences are J-belle and myself. If we met in a scissor fight, I'd probably cut off her wings on principle alone (Thanks Incubus). Then again, I am a warlock. The only wings I like are demonic.

The lesson to take from this part is that there is absolutely no way that J-belle and I could be friends if we didn't know how to communicate with one another. Sure, it's a disfunctional, nerd-rage embellished, referentially comedic, often misunderstood type of communication... but we speak the same language. Communication is the key to making any relationship last through adversity. No news here.

So what about this "Top Down" approach? Well, I'm a firm believer in leading by example. I would never ask someone to do something that I wouldn't first do myself. In-game, this means I think that any solution to a problem must first start with the officers. While J-belle would focus on the members, stepping back and collecting questionnaires, I'm swiftly revisiting policy and making sure we have the right people in the right leadership positions. Both are equally valid and neccessary approaches.

In a big guild, you can't really get everyone's opinion. Everyone may not even be on at the same time, and even if you could, there'd be so many differences that you'd end up muddling the issue more than one person could handle. In a big guild, you have to sometimes make those "executive decisions" and deal with the consequences later. It's my experience that most people crave leadership. They want to be led. They want to know what direction we're going and how we're going to get there in a nice, neat google map. Step by step, put it in your envelope and be done with it. It's this perspective that colors my approach different from that of a small guild.

The small guild can ask everyone, maybe even have everyone vote, and pat everyone on the back and call it a day. You get personal attention in a small guild. In the big guild, you have to make your own satisfaction. Some people don't want the attention. They just want to have options and be left alone to play their game. They want to be social some time, but not all the time. They want to have resources, but also fend for themselves. It's a tricky tightrope in it's own right.

Sometimes you have to just make the tough decisions. Sometimes a quick decision is better than an "over-discussed" decision. You can please some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. In a big guild, you might lose some people, you might gain some people. It happens. It hurts, but it happens. We've always kept an "open-door" policy to try to steer clear of drama. Sometimes people come for a while, and then want to go do the hardcore raiding thing for a while, or some friends just started a guild, or whatever. That's fine, we'll be here if it fails, and we'll still run with you if it succeeds. We're like a rock (Thanks Bob Seger).

In this environment, a group is only going to be as good as their leader. You need leaders that are engaged and available. You need to be able to hear criticism and make the right decision, even if it earns you flak. You must lead by example. If you act like an asshat, you're gonna have 150 other asshats following you. However, if you try to be a class act, you're going to have more members striving to be a class act too. People look up to leaders, whether or not it's warranted. If your members are all whining and bitching, then you probably are too (and in J-belle's case, that might be your "thing", which is okay. Sometimes that works for people. Persistance and stubbornness are just spelled differently).

So yes, my approach is different. However, at the end of the day, we both have the same goal: to nuture our relationships with the people we care about, and succeed at the challenges set before us. As long as we can communicate with each other, then we can work together towards these goals, even if we're coming from completely different ends of the spectrum. In a way, that's better for the alliance as a whole, since we can cater to all types of players. If you want what J-belle is selling, she's got you covered. She does a great job of representing her guildies. If you're liking what I'm laying down, we have room for that too.

Having two officers with completely opposing viewpoints can be a great asset as long as they know how to communicate and respect each other. If you're mature about it, you can really do some awesome things, not only in-game, but out in the world as well. Too often we see people who believe in different things and we reject them. We think: there's no damn way I could ever be friends with that person. Relationships are funny like that though. Sometimes they don't give a shit what you think. Sometimes a little tolerance can go a long way towards an understanding. Sometimes you can agree to disagree and still enjoy one another's company immensely.

And sometimes, you just may learn something in the process.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

For The Alliance!

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Nope, not the achievement. Something much more near and dear to my heart.

It's no secret around here that I've been raid leading and doing a lot of work for both my alliance and my guild. I’m heavily invested in both, so this post should make sense in that light. Our guild leader is one of the most amazing women I've ever met. Her daughter has been fighting cancer for over two years now, and she's not even a teenager yet. It's a very sad story that we share with her on a daily basis, yet she remains positive and strong. Her story inspires guild members that span multiple games.

I bring this up because what most people don't see about our guild is that we're a family of sorts, especially those of us who have been there for a while. We've had a lot of upheaval and people leaving, but our GM has really been the one shining example. She's tried to give others the leadership a couple of times, but we won't take it. Even if she only pops in for a half hour a night... or week, she's our leader. It's that simple. I know several people that would, no joke, stand in a black circle of death for her... ON PURPOSE. (That's true love in WoW, you know).

In any case, the point here is just that we have a very unique guild situation. We've been around since day 1 of WoW and don't plan to go anywhere. We've raided, we've not raided, we've laughed, we've cried. We're honest with each other. Like a family, we may have fights, but we stick it out together, for richer or poorer. “Once a Gen, always a Gen” is the motto that holds true to this day.

I really wanted to bring that same feeling of family to our raiding alliance. Perhaps the ONLY reason I raid is because I'm addicted to the sense of camaraderie that goes with going into battle together (something I find as a football coach as well). I say it like that, because that's how I feel about it: going into battle. Some people see pixels on a screen, some buttons to press, and a good time. I see 10 or 25 people, dressed in armor, ready to lay down their lives for each other (if you’ve ever been part of a football team, you know where I’m coming from on this).

Extreme? Perhaps. But I don't think it's completely off the wall, because isn't that what we do? Lay down our lives for each other? Each of us has plenty going on. My GM with her kid, I’m planning a wedding. There are plenty who take time out of their lives for this. Single parents who spend their "free" nights with us in glorious battle. Coupled parents who do the same. Wife aggro sometimes gets us more than mob aggro. Parents, money, work, and school have crit on us quite a bit over the years. The point is: we put our lives TO THE SIDE to be with each other.

Sure, sure, RL has to come first. We all know this fundamental rule of gaming. But to some of us, it means just a little more. Some of my greatest stories of inspiration come from this "game". It's not that you let your life fall to pieces, but it IS worth making time for. It IS worth sacrificing for. At least in my guild it is. We don't ask anyone to take time out of their day for us; they do it because we're worth it to each other. My GM signs on every night, nobody asks her to, nobody requires it. She does it because we're her family outside of family. We're a support network. We're a shoulder to cry on. We’re there for each other. It’s just the right thing to do. We don’t need to beg.

I wanted to bring that to our alliance.

For a while, I think we had it. Especially in the TBC days, we were a pretty tight knit group. Then, as with all good things, some bad things happened to us. We faced some adversity. I'd like to say that, as a family, we pulled through it together, but this story is not over yet. As things stand now, we're hovering shakily over a precipice of epic proportions. Where did we go wrong?

It starts, as always, with the little things: miscommunications and misunderstandings. They fester and grow unseen. People begin to get unhappy. Then you lose an officer without an explanation, or maybe two, and the remaining officers start pointing fingers. They struggle frantically to discover what WAS the problem. Why are we here? Who screwed this up? People get hurt. Good people. People who were like family.

Yet still, "it's just a game", right? It should be all fun, all the time. If it isn't fun, then why be here?

It's at this point when we begin to realize, maybe it isn't "just a game". Maybe these relationships are real. After all, the pain is all too real.

So what do you do when the going gets tough? Do you quit? Do you retreat? It’s even easier to do this in an alliance, because, after all, they’re not your guildies. You can just take your ball and go home, focus on your own guild and nuts to the rest of your crazies. But you really have to ask yourself, are these people worth it?

Sometimes the answer may be no, and that’s okay. Be honest about it. People can go separate ways and still be friends. However, for me, the answer is yes. These people are too good just to quit on, and I've thrown my lot in with them. I'm not cooking up stuff on the side, me and my guild are dedicated to making it work. Maybe it stems from that sense of family. I’ve always believed that, with the right team, you can work through anything. It's not about me, it's about us.

My father once told me: “Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.” If everyone asks themselves what they can do to be part of the solution, your team will more than likely succeed. It has to start somewhere.

The first step to healing any wound is getting over the past. You can’t change what’s been done, and it doesn’t really matter who did it. What matters is how you’re going to fix it together (if it’s worth it: a decision you have to make for yourself). This holds true for just about any relationship. Whether you’re married, engaged, in a bar, or in a raid. Get over it, and get on with it. Work together. Don’t be part of the problem.

I really hope my alliance can do this, because they’re worth it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Coming To A War Theater Near You...

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Lately I've been running a lot of BG's on my Death Knight. PvP isn't so bad once you start getting some gear for it and figure out what you're doing. I mean I'll still get steamrolled by damn rogues that get behind me or a crit heavy caster, but I can hold my own for the most part. I think it's key to remember that Blizz isn't balancing the classes so that you can 1v1 and be even. It's probably more valid to think of it like a 3d game of rock-paper-scissors. Sometimes you're the rock, sometimes you're the paper, and sometimes you're scissors.

Then, sometimes you're fire... burning the paper, melting the scissors, and... doing something to the rock that defeats it too. Fire beats everything.

The point here is that you'll learn real quick where your class' weaknesses are. You can try to minimize them, but if you're a rock and paper comes up to you and knows you're rock, they're going to beat you. You can prolong it (which sometimes gives time for your buddy scissors to show up), but you're automatically at a disadvantage. I'll tell you what, I sort of like that about the game. There really is no way to perfectly balance a game of this complexity for 1v1, but I think, in general, the overall balancing in a BG is pretty fair. Some of the recent patch changes have subdued the burst slant they'd had, though it's still there, just not as bad, IMO.

So, if I've been running all these battlegrounds, imagine my excitement when Blizz released details for a new BG.

Reading over this, I have to say it looks pretty sweet. Granted, some people may not like the vehicle thing, but I think WG has shown, overall, that the concept is pretty popular. I tend to enjoy Strand of the Ancients quite a bit as well. We have every reason to expect that, true to Blizz form, this BG will be well done (perhaps a bit bugged out of the box, but well done nonetheless). I'd like to call attention to one key paragraph of the write up:

The Airship Hangar: This sturdy steel structure stands on the peak of Mt. Conquest overlooking the eastern side of the island, allowing players to board the airship docked there. This devastating weapon of war is capable of raining death upon the heads of your enemies and destroying enemy defenses. Once onboard the airship, players will find it comes equipped with parachutes enabling a strike team to drop into the enemy keep from above.

...You had me at "strike team".

Friday, June 12, 2009

You're My Boy, Blue!

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With a roar, the gigantic blue dragon descends from the sky to land on the platform where I stand. I look around at the nine other adventurers who draw their weapons in unison, and the sound of sliding steel fills the air. The Paladin runs forward, her face all business as she starts blasting holy energy in the beast's eyes, slapping him with her sword to keep his attention. The rest of us cluster around our healers and open up with spells, incantations, and, in some cases, pure brute force.

My mind begins to wander as I settle into my familiar rotation of spells, cursing and corrupting with hardly a strain on my energy. I gaze at the hard plates on the Paladin's backside. Images rise, unbidden into my head of what might lie beneath those plates. I find myself thinking, what sort of undergarment is she wearing? Odds are, its your standard white linen cloth, but what if maybe it's rune cloth. Or shadowweave. Or maybe something crazy that I've never even heard of before. Wait. Why am I swirling around in the air? Crap, cyclone.

Once I'm deposited unceremoniously back on the ground, I start back in on the dragon. After a bit of beating, he launches himself into the air and summons some minions on flying saucers. What sort of place is this? I mean, flying carpets are one thing, but saucers? This is worse than that time I got sucked into the Emerald Dream.

Ouch! That spell really hurts. I glare at the dragon, hovering out of range of my own spells as he takes pot shots with bolts of arcane energy at us. Luckily, someone saw fit to raise a pink shield in the middle of the platform. I'm not too crazy about the color, but at least it'll keep those spells off of me. As I enter the shield, I notice that it's steadily shrinking. This can't be good. I run to another shield, only to have it shrink away as well. Who the hell is running these shields?! And will you idiots on the saucers please stop following me already.

A couple of rogues commandeer a few vacated saucers and race up to harry the minions that remain above us, raining spells on our shield. After a short battle, they're subdued and the blue dragon begins to pontificate more about how he's so big and bad and blah blah blah. All of a sudden, the ground beneath me falls away. For a moment, panic overtakes me as I plummet to what must most certainly be my death. Or, I suppose I could just keep plummeting for all eternity. That'd suck too. Who knows in a place like this? Where are those damned saucers when you need them?

Something big and red comes up beneath me and I'm momentarily winded as I fall, quite uncomfortably for a male mind you, into the saddle. I struggle for a moment to right myself and then smooth down my robes. It takes me a second to register that I'm now astride a vicious looking dragon of the red brood. This should even things out a bit.

I struggle to pilot the dragon around as the big blue menace hurls yet more spells at us. This time, I have my own dragon to fire back. As we struggle, I start to notice other members of my group plunge to the unseen depths below as their dragons are exhausted. My own dragon seems to be drooping lower and lower. Finally, with one last screech the bottom drops out from below me and I resume the plummeting that I had only recently avoided. As I continue to fall, I see the remaining members of my group fall above me, chasing me down in to the lightless abyss. Darkness overtakes me, and naught is left but the sense of endless falling.

I wake up in a world of black and white, and realize I've departed to the spirit plane. That can't be good. Warily, I make my way back to the portal leading to the hellish nightmare I'd just escaped, intending to reclaim my physical form. I see other members of my group alongside me. We stop at the portal and take a deep breath. Surely there's a furious dragon waiting for us on the other side.

After a moment, we step in. Imagine our amazement to find not the blue dragon, Malygos, but rather Alexstrasza the life-giver. For a moment, we're completely dumbfounded. She quickly explains to us that the smoldering remains of the spells of her dragon brood can be quite powerful, not all that dissimilar to my methods of immolation. Apparently, they both cause fire damage over time, which, when applied liberally, can bring down even a mighty dragon. We cheer at our freakish success and are rewarded with the spoils of battle.

All I can say is: this is yet one more reason that Warlocks rule; we fight like dragons. That, and thank the eredar for damage over time spells.

(Author's note: If you have ever played the Sims, I've come across a rather hilarious blog chronicling the adventures of a homeless father and daughter in the world of the Sims 3. It's rather well written and reads like a sitcom meets a drunken soap opera. Check it out here.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

DK Frost "Tank" Glyphs and Other Tales

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J-belle hit the news on mounts, which I also will greet with mixed feelings for all the reasons she outlines. I wonder how much lowering the cast time will screw up BG's. Probably not much, but I've been know to definitely try and stop someone from escaping on their mount, which a lower cast time might make more difficult.

Nibs continues her great coverage of the Mountain Dew Battle-bots. I got mine last night and will try to fuel it up for the raid tonight (just for fun, mind you, since it's not like it'll do anything in the raid). So far, she's been spot-on with all her instructions.

For my part, I ran the PvP daily (Arathi Basin), chatted with guildies, and ran Fuu and her levelling companion (a RL friend) through Blood Furnace. I also finally glyphed up my Frost tanking spec. I didn't really give it a whole lot of thought (because I really only go tank when I'm running other people through things, and then it's mostly because it gives me more abilities to keep mobs off of other people and generate threat better). Here's what I did:
If you're actually tanking Frost (not just casually doing things that are beneath your gear level), there are a bunch of other useful glyphs you'd probably want to look into. However, I always try to glyph things that I'll get the most use out of, and these reflect my play style. The more I play Frost, the more I realize it is overly dependant on Frost Runes, resulting in the "clunky" feel I've mentioned before. Still, it's burstiness for PvP and low level crap is great. I love Howling Blast, especially with the diseases.

Eventually, if I get more playtime on my DK and/or get pressured into tanking, I'll probably respec my tank spec to something more blood or unholy oriented. Those seem to lend themselves to cleaner rotations. For now, though, I'm just having fun with it and enjoy the utility of a Frost Spec. HB + Glyph of HB + Chillblains in PvP ftw.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Blizz Behemoth

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Work is busy today so I don't have a whole lot of time for a "good" post, but I will point you to Nibs latest plug for a well thought out ad campaign by Mountain Dew. Seriously. Highly caffeinated bevey, two competing cult favorites, in-game pet... epic win. I'm not usually too keen on advertising as a rule of thumb (who likes to "be sold"), but, like the Super Bowl commercials, I sometimes come across marketing tactics that make me smile and laugh rather than feel abused.

This is one of those ads. Now, I don't care so much for the other prizes to click-grind or anything, but it seems that the pet is free. I'm sure there is more planned to go with it to encourage you to buy, but I've been putting in Coke reward codes for ages when there's nothing really I care for (I'm going to drink it anyways, right?). If they do something where I can drink Pepsi products and get cool WoW stuff... like totally win amirite? Besides, Diet Dr. Pepper is pretty much a roller coaster on meth in my mouth. There are so many flavors! I still can't believe its not Diet (or butter for that matter).

In any case, well played Pepsi. You've certainly stirred up interest, and that's what marketing is all about, right? I feel so validated as a member of a large community right now.

The only snag I've hit so far is that I have to finally take the plunge and set up a Battle.net account to merge my WoW account in. I never really had any qualms about it since I was a huge Battle.net'er back in the days of Starcraft the orig. In it's day, it was a pretty sweet online gaming experience, at least IMO. In any case, I might as well get on board with the giant Blizzard that looms on the horizon; a vast pinion of nerddom poised to lord over the industry. WoW was only the beggining folks (or, for that matter, Battle.net was), soon Fergie will be spelling out blizzalicious in her latest solo sojourn. And that, dear friends, is quite a mouthful.

(If you were more partial to yesterday's fare, Abi shares his thoughts here. Apologies about the Blogger block... Google's taking over the world anyways... Google and Blizz... Goolizz, or maybe Bloogle. You heard it here first.)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You've Got To Know When To Hold 'Em...

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Know when to fold 'em.
Know when to walk away.
Know when to run...

If you haven't heard "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers ever, then my little intro probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense. However, it's a great song even if you're not a big Kenny fan and iconic in many ways.

In the song, Kenny is comparing life to a poker game, but here I'd like to extend that analogy to WoW. We've seen a lot of atrophy in the blogosphere over the last few months, with Stop at The Stoppable Force being the latest that I'm aware of. Each of these folks decided to "walk" or even "run" in some cases, but in all cases, I think they were burnt out on the game.

So how do we fight "burn out"? It's a term common enough among gamers, clearly connoting a sense of fatigue with one's current activities. Bloggers are prime candidates for this particular non-warlocky affliction too. We strive to stay current and entertaining, which means we have to spend enough time in-game or reading about the game to generate content. Some folks are better at this than others, but all of us spend quality time with it. It's something that's important to us.

This puts us at high risk for "burn out", because it can often seem very hard to step back and take a break. However, I think being able to know when to take breaks is a key skill for any gamer, be they hardcore or casual. Each of us have our own limits to what we can endure, but we all have a definite limit. It's important to know your limit, be honest with yourself about it, and work within your responsibilities to not constantly push your limits.

As an officer, raid leader, sometimes substitute GM, blogger, aspiring writer (yes, I write other things than just here and would love to make a career of it, however it's kind of on par with "pro athlete" as far as I'm concerned, which brings us to), athlete and football coach, future husband, and valued "team member" at work... my plate is pretty full at all times. I'd imagine a lot of gamers juggle similar loads. Toss in a few kids or school and you probably feel me. The point is that gamers are usually "doers" in life. The same compulsion that drives us to complete every damned achievement we can and research our specs and read blogs probably drives us to take large loads on ourselves in other areas as well.

We need to be aware of this tendency in ourselves and be honest enough to give ourselves a break when we need it. I do this a lot of ways. I play another MMO (EvE online), I mix up PvP and PvE (though I like PvE a lot more), I have a min/max toon and a "fun toon", I take nights off to go play basketball or softball... to name a few. What do you enjoy? How do you change it up and take breaks? I still probably log in just about every night, but I don't run myself ragged trying to do everything.

I view WoW and MMO's in general as more of a marathon. It's something I want to build up over a few years. That's what I like about it. If I wanted to "beat" the game in a month or two, I'd get a console game (and I do play console games quite often). As with all marathons, pacing yourself is the key. This is my plea to bloggers and gamers in general... don't be afraid to pace yourself. Gaming has grown up, and our attitudes need to reflect that.

I think I've rambled enough for today. I didn't do much besides casual PvP in-game last night, hence using this general topic today for content. In a way, that is a break too. So are lazy link days and pictures :-).

Monday, June 8, 2009

10 Man Eye Of Eternity, Malygos Tips and Tricks

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Having successfully killed Malygos this weekend, I wanted to relate a few tips and tricks that we used that may or may not be helpful. I know I'm probably behind the general progression curve in the world... of warcraft, but I'm sure there are plenty of people still wanting to down the big blue.

I'm going to assume you have a basic familiarity with the fight. That is, you've either watched the tankspot video I linked yesterday, or read up on it on wowwiki or something. So you know that it's a three phase fight and most of the major attacks.

Phase 1
Recall that this is the spark killing phase. I've seen several different ways to do this, but I believe the most effective way to manage the sparks is to have your entire group sans tank stack up in the middle of the platform. Then your tank will maneuver the boss so that wherever the sparks spawn, they must pass through your group to get to Malygos. Then you can assign one other person to be on "spark duty". Preferably, this person has some sort of rooting ability. We used a DK for the death grip/ice chains combo that is very effective in getting these sparks to the same spot.

It seems to work out that you will have to kill two sparks after every cyclone attack. Thus, at the beginning it may be good to pop heroism if you have it, since everyone can focus on DPS until that first cyclone. While you're in the air, the tank and spark master need to orient themselves so they know, upon hitting the ground, where to go. Then, once the spark gets over the group, the spark master will root it and call it out on vent so that the DPS can open up on the spark to kill it fast. If you have enough ranged (for us two mages and warlock), it's good to not make the melee leave. The sparks have 12.6k health in 10-man, so you want to have high DPS'ers who can ideally two shot the spark since you really have about a 3-5s window depending on your rooting.

After you've killed two sparks, stand in the blinky stuff and DPS until the next cyclone, then rinse and repeat. Healers will have to be sharp with all the falling damage, but a few lightwells can help that too, just have everyone clicky once they land. This is a rough phase for the tank especially, as there is a lot of movement, so watch your aggro until everyone gets comfortable.

Phase 2
This is the bubble hopping phase. There aren't very many tricks here, just stay together going from shield to shield while killing adds. Put your highest melee DPS on the saucers first to get them up in the air. It might not even be a bad idea to get a ranged up there (depending on how much melee you have), especially one with dots to help support your melee. The key here is mostly staying alive. When all the adds are dead, you'll get back to the main event.

Phase 3
There's something about flying and trying to fight that just blows people's minds. If you're a casual raider like myself, chances are you're going to have 8 out of your 10 people feel completely lost on a drake. It's hard enough trying to get used to new buttons without having to also coordinate movements like some perverse aerial ballet. There is a simple solution for all of this: /follow! That's right, you can set people on follow for this part. This means you really only need one person who feels comfortable moving and fighting to keep your entire group clear of the lightning storms. During the animation where you're falling onto the drake and Malygos is talking shit before the fight resumes, it's easy to just type out /follow player. Then all you have to worry about is hitting the right buttons. Simptastic!

You definitely want to follow the player (type their name and not the drake, so selecting can be tough... typing ftw) and decide on the player beforehand so everyone knows. You could probably even work out a macro, but there is just enough of a window that it's not really detrimental to just type. This trick makes the third phase a piece of cake. Then you can just focus on your spells (as long as you take care not to move), and not worry so much about positioning or getting lost with the controls. For dps, its 1,1,1,1,1,2... repeat (five combo points from the basic attack followed by your special at full strength). You should also hit 5 any time he targets you (DBM will announce), which will pop your shield. Healers will be using revivify in the same way, stacking five and then hitting their AoE heal. Keep in mind, that should things look bleak, any of your DPSers can also hit their AoE heal with combo points from DPSing to "save the day".

Remember you have a 10-minute enrage timer to beat, and at this point you may be around the 3-minute mark (that's where we were). It's doable, but we cut it just about as close as you can get :-).

Dead Dragon!
Once you get this fight down, it doesn't seem nearly as scared as it did at first. If, like us, you happen to wipe and the dots take Malygos out, let Alex do her talking thing and make sure you get your achievement before you release to run back for loot. Rest assured though, the loot will wait on you if this happens. Same with the quest item. They take the form of a blue heart and a red crystal floating in the middle of the room in front of Alexstrazsa. Very trippy stuff.

So hopefully there are some things in there that might help. Also, if you know of other tips or tricks, feel free to leave some comments!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Malygos Was So Sure...

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Last night 10 brave members of my alliance grabbed beers (some of us anyways, I find a bit of alcohol necessary for "wipe nights") and headed in to Malygos-10 to begin the slow and painful learning process. Not many of us had ever been in there, and very few of us had been past phase 1. None of us had beaten the big blue dragon.

We stepped in at a little after 10pm and nearly two hours later, we were chatting it up with Alexstrasza:

That's right, we downed that bastard. One night of learning. One kill. :-)

To give credit where credit is due, Tankspot.com's video on the Malygos strategy was crucial to enable me to lead this endeavor. Fuu and I watched it the day before and threw strategies back and forth so that when time came to put them in action, the only hurdle was my lack of elegance in explaining it to others via vent.

The funny part was we were just merrily learning along, making small progress here and there. Then, one try we found ourselves on drakes with about 3 minutes left before enrage (so I was pretty sure we wouldn't get him down in time). We put our drakes to follow one person (if you type /follow person, you can leave the group movements up to one cat, while the rest of you can purely focus on your rotation... a key if your group is having difficulty coordinating on drakes), and started going to town. The "30 seconds until enrage" warning came up, we just kept at it. We'd just spent about 2 hours wiping, what's another 30 seconds, right? (It's a testament to the attitudes of all involved that no one gave up or slacked when it seemed like we faced certain doom). At some point right as enrage was hitting, I died. I sighed and looked at his health... 10%, not bad.

Then he hit enrage and we still had nearly 8 other folks up. Now, Maly's enrage hurts, but it takes him maybe a minute to work through an entire raid of 10 people. As he started his killing spree, I watched his health, calling it out on vent... 9%, 8%, 7%, 6%... We had 5 people left. 5%, 4%, 3%.... 1 person left. 2%... 1%... Everyone is dead. No way, the 1% wipe, damn. But wait! He's still got DoTs on him! At this point the call goes out over vent for no one to release, he may die... and then... poof 0%. Vent explodes with cheering as all health bars on the screen read 0%. Talk about skidding our way into a victory. Alex shows up and... sound the horn of victory!

After releasing and running, we were able to get back in and distribute the loot, plus since we waited on the release we all got our achievements for this alliance first. Great job by everyone! Man I love group firsts!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Would You Like Fires With That?

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"Hail, Crusader Fulguralis!" The man with the pockmarked face calls out as I enter the tournament grounds for the last time.

Crusader Fulguralis. That does have a nice ring to it, does it not? It certainly beats that farce of a title, "Ambassador" that I was honored with the other day. I mean, c'mon. Ambassador. Warlock. They aren't exactly synonymous. I make it my personal duty to kill people of other races. Then again, I guess that could in some way be construed as an Ambassador.

Ambassador Fulguralis: Bringing death equally to all four corners of Azeroth.

Does Azeroth even have four corners?

I chuck my lance at the squire following along beside me and leap off of my horse. The young man awkwardly catches the long wooden pole and surreptitiously checks along its length for any flames that might have sprung up "accidentally". The young lad has learned his lessons when it comes to hanging around a Warlock, it seems.

"Place it over in that rack, Patsy," I order. "Then you may run along and relate our epic tales to the other squires." Surely he would be the cock of the walk when they hear of the hell he's gone through.

"It's Samwise," He grumbles as he walks away. Close enough.

I strut confidently past the wooden dummies where men of lesser stature do battle against the inanimate enemies, smiling snidely at the burn marks on one of them. The nearby instructor glares at me, having never forgiven me for my particular brand of training. I reach nonchalantly into my pocket and jingle it loudly. The gold I made clinks in a pleasing manner that only causes the instructor to narrow his eyes more. He's just jealous because they don't pay him much at all. What does he think he's going to get when he's not out there taking the risks?

I push aside the flap on the large champion's tent and enter, my eyes searching the room for the Tournament Seneschal. I find her in her usual place near the table in back, examining a map of the grounds. As she sees me approach, she smiles shyly and straightens her armor.

"Fulguralis, to what do I owe the pleasure?" She says as we clasp arms in a formal greeting, though her hand lingers for a bit in mine.

"Hmm," I respond, "How shall I answer that, Justicar?"

A deep red blush creeps down from her auburn hair to color her cheeks. "Fulgy, why do you always insist on being so formal? It's Mariel and you know it."

I cringe at the nickname, "Appearances, my dear. Appearances." I glance around conspiratorially, assuring myself that no one is within earshot. "We wouldn't want folks to think that the great Justicar Mariel Trueheart is too friendly with warlocks now would we?"

"I suppose you're right," she sighs. "What have you come for then?" She asks, a small fire lit behind her eyes.

"I'm done here," I say bluntly. "I've done all there is to do at this place and don't much care for it anymore. It's time for other adventures." She looks slightly crestfallen as a I break the news, so I add, "Not that you haven't done a wonderful job here, darling, we warlocks are just a shifty sort. We're never content in one place for too long."

"I suppose I knew this day was coming," she admits. "Thanks for all of your... help. Do take care of yourself, will you?"

"Always, my dear," I reply smoothly. Flashing her a roguish smile, I turn in a swirl of robes and leave the room. I do try to make a good exit now and then.

Outside the tent I go and retrieve my steed from where he's burned through the rope the squire used to tie him up. That boy is just not cut out to be a warlock. He forgets the simplest of things: Wood burns, rope burns, nearly everything burns. And, if it burns, you can bet a warlock is going to burn it. It's just kind of our thing. That or we'll just corrupt it and then burn it. Or maybe corrupt it and make it explode all over everyone, corrupting them as well. Yeah, love that one.

Mounting my horse I prepare to ride out of the grounds for the last time in a while. I suppose I may stop in every now and then to make sure I'm not missing anything, but, for now, I've had my fill of jousting. None of these champions can hold a candle to me anyways.

Ha. Candle. Fire.

On my way out, I pass by the instructor standing by his treasured dummy, glaring at me all the while. "Good riddance," he mumbles, believing that my sharp ears can't catch what he said. Consort with Imps enough and you get really good at picking up the insults, though. I glance over at his dummy and flick my wrist.

*Fwoosh*

Cackling, I kick my heels into my steed and ride away, leaving a thin trail of smoke behind me as the instructor yells obscenities in my wake.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

DK Frost Spec PvP

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If you wanna know what spec I'm rolling with, see here, and I have to say that I love this spec for PvP battlegrounds. I pwn face in there. Chillblains is probably one of the funnest talents for PvP ever. It's funny when people are all trying to do their jumpy, I'm-having-a-seizure-on-my-keyboard dance in slow motion and you just hit them with an Obit and Frost Strike for nearly half their health. Dance away from that!

I must update though, that I've tweaked my rotation just a bit since last we spoke. I had mentioned that in PvE situations I'd been rolling with something like: HB > PS > OB > BS > FS. I realized I was missing out on my Icy Talons bonuses though so I've been trying to find a way to get Icy Touch back into my rotation. It's actually making me re-think the wisdom of taking that howling blast glyph. For now, I'm going to stick with it.

As a result of my musings, I'm not using something more like: IT > PS > OB > BS > FS. I throw in a howling blast any time the OB talent procs the free blast, or just whenever I feel like some AoE burst will serve me better than a single target rotation. For AoE I probably look more like DnD > HB > whatever runes I have left. However, both rotations feel clunky to me. I just feel like any way I slice it, I'm leaving out important spells. I just don't have enough runes. It helps, however, once I am able to get my death runes chugging, but still, I feel it's not enough.

The thing is, though, that in a PvP battleground, you're rarely able to settle into a "rotation". Therefore, its more of a priority based system in my mind. I like to get chillblains up ASAP, so that means using IT or HB right off the bat. Usually I drop a DnD even before that though, just to get it going as well. A lot of times I also start out with the ubiquitous Death Grip and Icy Chain method to stop people from running away. I love that.

In any case, its obviously situational, but those are good thoughts to have. My next goal is to slap a PS on them and OB as soon as I can. Then I try to use a FS to "finish him" (said in mortal kombat voice). Usually I can get off an OB and FS to get them about to half health before starting over with some IT, PS, then FS ftw. It's rather unorganized though and really just depends.

Also, it's great to pop all my damage reduction cooldowns as a frosty and watch as people get pissed when my health fails to drop as quickly as theirs. Reviewing my spec, I believe I've actually changed that a bit too... picking up deathchill for PvE. I'm not sure what I dropped. Unbreakable armor is another one I'd probably want to pick up for PvP as well.

If anyone has any rotation advice on how to get these things to mesh up, let me know. For now, I'll continue working with it and semi-facerolling my way to victory.

Trick of the Trade: if you're doing Warsong Gultch and you're alliance, try running the flag to the far right side of the map. Everyone apparently likes to run down through the tunnel and then they get mobbed on the far side. I can't tell you how many times I've just taking the somewhat longer but far sneakier route behind the fence and foliage on the right side and never been hit. It's almost like cheating and usually totally worth the extra distance. In either case, it's definitely fun, which is what I'm doing BGs for in the first place.

Before I finish today, I wanted to point out that I didn't ever really address the mini-patch we had on Tuesday. To be quite honest, it just didn't have much to talk about. Chaos bolt was nerfed which pisses a lot of warlocks off, but doesn't really affect the afflictionados out there. Also, DK tanks got frost presence nerfed which doesn't really affect my DPS-love either. Both are noteworthy changes, but I didn't really pay attention to them because I've been busy elsewhere (yes, I now have the Crusader title). In any case, if you want a full and faithful reproduction of the notes because you haven't seen them already or can't get them at work, go here. I just don't have much to add in the form of commentary.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

It's a Jump To Conclusions Mat

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(edit: I realized I should probably point out that this introductory part is from Ful...) I'm really angry at work today. Like warlock on neth (like meth, only WoWized) angry. Like "oh that's why the horse's hooves are on fire" angry. Like I jumped from a ledge only to have my minion take the long way around and bring an angry mob angry. Like a mage beat me on the charts angry. Like the devs nerfed the hell out of chaos bolt angry (not that I care since I'm affliction, but from what I understand, that's pretty angry). Like someone's been using an alias to write and impersonate me online angry (wait, maybe that's not so angry since the only angry people seem to be the commenters). Like why the hell are you starting every sentence with like and using an increasing amount of parenthetical remarks angry (because, damnit, parenthesis = snarky side comments that illustrate the angry).

Because of all that, I vented to Fuu. Now, the angry has been building over the week from green, to yellow, to red, to purple, and Fuu had tried to cheer me up with some referential WoW humor earlier in the week. I had to resort to rereading it repeatedly this morning to calm myself down after the usual morning meetings at Initech. I think we're even getting some "Bob's" soon. So, to share, here's what she sent me:

Recipe for Turning a Droopy Project into an Epic Project that makes Tons of Gold.

Ingredients:

1 Cup of Win
2 Tablespoons of Sweat
2/3 cup Time
a dash of Purple Dye

First you round up 10 of your best buddies and head into your office. You make a game plan to conquer the Beast. You must at this time treat this project like if you fail, you will die at the hands of the Boss. Pull out a calculator and estimate your winning percentage( 33.3% repeating of course) is a minimum required % to continue from this point. Once your goal is met & there is a solid Game Plan, continue to pour the Sweat & Time into this project. While mixing both Sweat & time together, slowly add Win to the project. During this time, the project will start to randomly drop aggro and could 1 shot you if you aren't careful. Once the entire cup of Win is added, you should see the end of the project. Add the dash of Purple Dye and you lad have yourself an Epic!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Which I Dance Around The Issue

5 comments
If you haven't heard of the Ferarro controversy by now, you're probably not a compulsive work blogger/reader like the rest of us. The story is fraught with deceptive plot turns and tabloid like revelations. It's really a WoW-blog-community drama at its finest, reaching even into the upper echelons of the blogosphere. For my part, I just find it mildly interesting. I neither read the blog before, nor after the scandal. Fuu may have been there once or twice, but she tends to stick to what she knows and I just have to say it wasn't on our radar until now.

If you're still in the dark, yet curious as to what the hell I'm talking about, Matticus does a great and mostly impartial job of showing the "timeline" of events.

Like I said, interesting stuff. The only part that really concerns me is the potential pilfering of work that is not your own. To me, that's a big no-no. I don't care if you're operating under false pretenses, just do your own work. We strive very hard at KeS to come up with our own, original material. Even when regurgitating things like patch notes or linking other's posts, I try very hard to come up with something to add and make sure to give credit where credit is due. If you ever find an example on here otherwise, please let me know because it probably means I was drug-blogging again. I never had a problem with drunk dialing, but give me a laptop and some beer and all bets are off.

I digress.

The sad part about all this drama is that I'm sure the community in general and several blogs in specific might have lost a fair amount of "street cred". It's always sad when something negative happens in a community one loves. Where does the blame truly lie? Is it wrong to write under a collective pen name? Does the Loch Ness monster really exist? All this and more at 11.

Or rather, decide for yourself.

I, for one, can assure you that we are who we say we are, like many of the other bloggers out there. I am one man, Fuu is one woman, and when our powers combine...

Okay, trust me that you probably don't want to share vent with us much less be in the same room. We're creepy. Like complete each other's sentences creepy. We often inadvertently dress in matching clothes. That isn't to say I wear her dresses (often), but that she'll walk out of the closet, look at me, and go: "WTF, you're wearing THAT? One of us is going to have to change". But we don't. Because we're puke cute like that. And we're lazy. Collectively lazy. Like, not going to get up and push the button on the TV lazy. That, and perpetually late.

And this has been another edition of "get-to-know-your-blogger-when-he-goes-totally-off-topic-during-a-post-with-TMI". Apologies.

The real important thing to take from all this is that Jagoex of Warlock Therapy and blogger extraordinaire has returned to the scene. This is important to me because his blog was really the first Warlock blog I ever found/read way back when. You could say it has sort of sentimental value to me in that I was greatly saddened when he was hacked and decided to disappear for a bit. I can't say that I care much about the paladin shenanigans, but I do expect great 'lock advice to start springing up over there as he cranks back up, so stay tuned.