Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Alternate DK DW Tank Spec

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One of the places where I continue to get a lot of hits and inquiries is in the realm of DW DK tanking. Apparently I'm not alone in my enthusiasm for the spec. I recently received an email proposing an alternate spec and asking my thoughts. It isn't a major change, but I thought it offered some post-worthy trade offs. Unfortunately, I haven't had as much opportunity to use the spec as I'd like, but I do love the idea.

The point here is that for those of you out there who ARE getting to run with the spec, I'd love to hear the actual in-game trials and tribulations. Are you running into rotational/cooldown problems? Are you getting kicked from groups from asshat elitists? Are you kicking ass and taking names? Are you forgetting those names because, like me, you're horrible with names, and why would you want their names anyways if you're kicking their ass?

Anyways, the spec was linked to me like this (Thanks Vili!). My initial, cookie-cutter answer to the question of "is this valid" was my standard: the only real way to assess the validity of any spec it so try it out. We can all theorycraft until we're blue in the face (like the devs), but what it comes down to is how well can you play said spec in-game. You can have a great spec, but it goes totally against your grain and thus, preforms terribly for you. On the flip side, you can make a shoddy spec work if you're good enough.

My second answer, because that first one is clearly a bit of a let-down, was to take a look at the pros and cons of each spec. Let's take a look at those now...

Pros
  • While you may be losing some extra damage (read: threat) from Tundra Stalker, the additional Str from Veteran of the Third War should offset this. I'm not sure on the actual numbers, but Str for a damage modifier would seem to be a good trade-off. Str helps in other places too.
  • You pick up a net total of +1 more expertise.
  • If I were speccing this, I would probably take Spell Deflection over Scent of Blood since runic power is not a problem from where I'm sitting. Both talents give you something different (spell mitigation vs. more RP for dumps and threat generation).
  • You lose the crit bonus from GoG but gain crit chance with Dark C. Basically, you're trading a straight bonus for a chance here, which might be a negative, but crit really isn't all that important to a tank... so, IMO, it's a good trade if it allows you to do other things with the points.
Cons
  • You lose the Howling Blast spell, our best AoE burst spell. You still have other AoE options, but HB is probably the best to get some insta-threat on a multitude of targets.
  • You lose a few seconds off your Icebound Fortitude spell. For a heavily dependant cooldown tank, this isn't huge, but definitely something to consider based on how often you use the spell. If you have great healers and gear, maybe it's not something that bothers you.
As far as I can see, it's that simple. What does it mean though? Well, obviously there seem to be more pros to this spec than cons, but how big are the cons? For me, the loss of HB is a deal breaker. I love the spell and a lot of my playstyle revolves around it. It's not always an integral part of my rotation, but it's great for picking up adds.

However, if you're not a big fan of the spell, this alternate spec definitely has merit. From just a pure theorycrafting point of view, I would think it might be better in a more MT application, where you're not so worried about AoE threat, and want to beef up single target mitigation and threat generation. So if you're having single target woes, you might try this. If you're bothered by AoE threat, you probably don't want to lose HB. Either way, it's worth a look and an article.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The World of... Spousal Disagreements

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I don't have very much to say today on account of little time-sink called spousal disagreements. You see, from time to time, two people, when they love each other a lot... want to beat the freaking shit out of each other!

Yeah, that's right, this is NOT the birds and the bees speech (although sometimes that is encompassed in a happy ending to the spousal disagreement (see what I did there, ha ha, then parenthetical within parenthetical... I am ON today!)), this is the cold, hard truth. Live with someone long enough, you're gonna wanna throw them out the window every now and then. It happens, deal. I don't care if you're the nicest person in the world, some day someone is going to push the button on you that makes you want to kick a puppy into a baby, sending both out the window and onto a jagged bed of sporks below.

I'm just saying, it happens.

One of the unfortunate side effects of the spousal disagreement is that /playtime is greatly impacted. That isn't to say it goes away, because, as any good gaming couple knows, sometimes it's used as leverage within the argument. Or, as a welcome distraction from the argument IN THE MIDDLE of said argument. (not later, oh no, not later). Sometimes this also results in one of the two hiding out in another room ruminating (ha, see what I did there too. HA, I'M SO CLEVER) about things unknown. *sexist comment incoming* Usually this is the girl.

What can I say, girls are the ruminators. Sort of like the terminator, only less muscle bound and more mind ninja. I have to add, to a guy, this part is REALLY FREAKIN' SCARY. I mean, I'm not sure I want to know what you're ruminating about, but even if I did know, I realize I completely lack the capacity to understand it. Hell, so does the rest of the male population. Or at least a vast majority, who, along with me, cock their heads at each other and say: "what the frack did I just do?"

Deep down, we're pretty sure we need to apologize for something, but I swear to you, we don't know what it is. If we did, we probably wouldn't be having this fight. Plus, you know, we're right. As usual. Wait... maybe that's the attitude that got us in this mess in the first... oh look, convenient explosive distraction that removes logical thinking. Sort of like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

In any case, Fuu and I had a bit of that last night. Don't worry, we settled it like any good gaming couple would: character duels and theorycrafting. Actually, that's a lie, she just pwned a sudoku and I finished a chapter in my latesty fantasy novel... but no one was on the couch! Upon reflection and after some yelling, we weren't really sure what happened (as such things go sometimes), so we just chalked it up to some bad food buffs or just needing a quick refresh on our Blessing of Sanctuary. Because, if there is one thing gamers are anal about, it's that they get ALL their buffs.

Then of course, I blogged about it on my personal blog and all of my family chimes in with comments basically saying it was obviously my fault. Thanks fam! What would I do without all of you? *Sigh*

So all I did was grind Aether in the middle of the fight, which almost resulted in some falling deaths, but got me nearly to 75. I also checked in on my various guild fora during the rumination period, noting that we're taking a week off of WoW raiding due to low moral from loot drama and increasingly busy officer schedules. Sounds bad, but it's not so much, people sometimes just need that rumination period. (Periods, who needs 'em, amirite?) . So like, I suppose all that's left is for me to focus on Aion the rest of this week, not being a big holiday achiever. (For those of you doing the Brewfest grind, *cheers*! I tip one back IRL to your commitment to the cause of drunkenry).

For Aion, it may be nice to point out that my Spiritmaster is up to 19. I'll make a post soon about rotational things. Also, I've purchased a MERC Stealth keyboard for this game, finally taking the plunge into the world of gaming keyboards. There are just so many "situational" things that I want at my fingertips when playing my SM that could come in handy now that I'm just dipping into the PvP scene. More on that as I'm able to try it out.

I also got a great email from a reader about an alternative DW DK tanking spec that I think will be worth posting, so look for that in the near future as well. Love emails.

Apologies for two off topic rants in a row... I guess I'm just on a roll. Once it starts, it's hard to cage the beast.

Advice for any of you who are grinding in the WoSD along with me: Suck it up, make a lame-ass apology admitting your innate failure to comprehend the female mind, and enjoy your happy ending. Or get slapped. There are really only two endings. Choose wisely.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Fallacy of the Office Firewall

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I apologize in advance. This is a gaming blog, and I'm going to totally break from the topic of gaming to rant about something personal. I suppose it could kind of apply to gaming and I suspect that a lot of you, my dear readers, will feel me... but be forewarned that this rant is completely off-topic.

This rant is also something that could probably get me fired. Now, before you click away, don't worry, this isn't a NSFW type post. It's just that I'm going to complain about something that, should it ever be traced back to me, I'm sure could be used against me in a faux court of corporate law. In other words, the Bobs could use it to aid their firings. (If you haven't seen Office Space at least three dozen times, then you probably don't belong here. I try to recommend the classics, repeatedly, like any good nerd).

I suppose the real chances of someone important (by the corporate definition, meaning at least two to three levels above me) associating this blog with some lowly engineering peon are quite low, but if the Internet has taught me one thing over the years, it's that nothing is impossible when you have Google. Or Wikipedia. Or the Urban Dictionary.

Of course, I'm talking about the workplace Internet filter. It comes in many different brands, but it's all the same: bullshit. I suppose the filter arose from some IT professional who learned the dirty little secret behind the Internet (Al Gore invented it for pr0n). Perhaps this individual even approached the problem with the best of intentions, because we all know that there are plenty of individuals who accidentally click into the questionable site. "ZOMG, where did these boobs come from" is a classic.

"I didn't know if I clicked that it would do this." Phil, you did the same damn thing yesterday. Okay, I'm just going to write you a little program to stop you from being an imbecile and getting yourself fired. "Wow, thanks Jimmy. Teh interwebs r hard." (Followed by the ubiquitous: "You remind me a bit of my son who just graduated from college." Because we all know that anyone with any sort of electronics knowledge reminds someone of their kid. Such is the era we live in).

Even IF the concept of a workplace filter began with those noblest of intentions, it has clearly since been completely perverted by the power junky that is the corporate monster. Somewhere along the line, someone high up looked at the filter and thought two things. One: I could totally fabricate some increased productivity numbers if I limited my employees Internet access and thereby justify a pay increase for myself. Two: This would be a really great way to flex our corporate muscle in the face of our lowly peons to remind them just WHO is the boss. After all, we can't let these cocky new kids and all their typing skills keep showing us up, can we? One fingered typing 4 EVAH!

Here's the thing, though: MISSION FAILED. All you have done, Mr. HR-guy-dictating-the-moves-of-the-IT-guy, is to provide your employees with a major inconvenience at work. Another small thorn in our side that will be rectified when we burn the building down AND take our seven travelers checks to a competing resort. Newflash: it doesn't increase productivity and it doesn't make me respect authority... it just pisses me off. Especially because it's poorly implemented and whimsically done.

I mean, does any workplace filter anywhere actually make sense? It lets half the naked chick through anyways. It blocks places you could actually use for work. It keys on keywords that are unknown to any sane person. It's like the IT person, in a mini-protest of what he was being advised to do, just went through and did it all half-ass like to spite "the man".

It's never done in-house, either. It's like we gotta contract out to these people because we could never trust our own brainiacs. So every time you click on a site that has been randomly selected by this weeks ban hammer, you get a big blue finger in your face saying: "F U, you can't do that." But, Phil, I was just trying to look up spec sheets for this whatchamajig that goes in the thingy over there to make it work. SORRY, play again next time.

It's like they want you to feel like they're watching you, when it's completely obvious that THEY'RE NOT. No one reviews your personal usage in a multiple thousand person company. They may look at trends and shit, but no one is sitting there in a room, reviewing your logs and being like "Oh snap, this guy went to E! News three times last week. Isn't that an oxymoron? E! and News. This guy shouldn't be reading that. He should be only viewing reputable journalistic sources like The Onion." Then slaps the ban hammer on both.

If they were watching, they're probably arrange for an intervention for me. Then a firing.

It's not that I don't do great work, I do. I get it all done with time to spare. Time to spare that I spend blogging and reading blogs. About games. I mean, half the work related ones are blocked anyways, not that I'd read 'em.

Honestly, who works 8 straight hours. Sandra down in cube fourteen is on the phone for twelve hours talking about who-knows-what. No one blocks her calling privileges or monitors that shit. Steve and Lou are over at the water cooler talking about "the game" or "the hunt" or "the car". You can't tell me that don't spend at least 2-3 hours a day swapping stories and ideas. No one is interrupting their conversation with a big blue "F U, get back to work." Hell, they're my two bosses. Then they talk about that crap with their bosses... and so on. NO ONE WORKS 8 STRAIGHT HOURS. People need breaks.

And all I'm guilty of is using a broader medium that the water cooler to swap ideas and expand my mind. I probably even learn more about my job through my meanderings than they do. It's the same story every week with them, but the Internet is alive with change. How many off my "outside the box" ideas have been sparked my something completely unrelated to my job that I found on the Internet? Maybe not many, but I guarantee a few have. More than some others I could say.

The bottom line here is that the office firewall is a complete and utter fail. It doesn't help productivity. People will find ways to waste time. If you've got people surfing pr0n at work, then you need to have a better interview process. Those folks have a problem. If you're worried about people reading about something that they *gasp* WANT to read about, then you should probably wander around the cubes listening to conversations and police that too. Then tell them all to shut up and only talk about work related crap. It's ridiculous, but so is your firewall. And I, for one, will sit here and quietly rebel against it the same way your son is hiding his downloaded pictures of Megan Fox three folders deep on your desktop at home. He, as well as I, know how hard folders are for you to navigate.

Ugh. This rant was brought to you by the Automotive Industry. "Rollin' on dumbs."

(All characters in this tale are entirely fictional and any resemblance to actual people is completely intentional.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ascention

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Show the proof of your divinity for all to see!

Genevieve awoke with a start, the voice in her dream still reverberating through her sleep addled brain. It had been a tumultuous week. To think that only five days ago she had been a mere human, a lowly raider, and now, here she was, a demigod. One of the chosen.

The new Daeva shook her head, her orange curls bouncing against the deep blue skin of her shoulders. She looked around at the cloud on which she had been resting. It was a small, wispy creation of hers. She decided she could get used to this whole Daeva thing. Clouds made good beds.

Glancing at the bustling city around her, Genevieve once again marveled at the wonder that was Pandaemonium, the capital city of her beloved Asmodian people. Forgotten memories tugged at the periphery of her consciousness, threatening to reveal a past that she wasn't sure she wanted to know. She had been shown glimpses of both her past and her future, and she wasn't quite sure she wanted to know all the answers. For now, she was just happy growing accustomed to new-found immortality. Wasn't that enough?

The beautiful Daeva stood up, brushing off her modest cloth robes and straightening the orb she wore on her wrist. It flashed back at her as if excited to be awake again too. She felt a quick thrill run through her as she thought of her recent adventures, of the people she'd helped, of the villains she'd slain. Daevahood certainly had its perks, she decided.

Fully awake now, she ran down to edge of the city intent on seeking a teleport out to Altgard. She still had unfinished business there, and she was anxious to take to the skies. Oh, how she loved to fly. She knew she had no hope of explaining the feeling of rushing wind through soft feather to her few human friends; there really was nothing to compare it to.

The teleport was quick if a bit pricey, as such things go. One of the realities of her new world was that kinah was going to be hard to come by for a while. Genevieve had never given much thought to finances before, at least from what she could remember, but when running with gods, a girl had a certain reputation to keep. She didn't want to always be known as the poor raider from humble beginnings.

A light snow fell on the fortress at Altgard. She looked with relish at the mountains that surrounded the keep. To a human, they might have seemed an insurmountable challenge, a wonderful vista to be viewed from afar and never conquered. Genevieve spread her wings. The soft, dark feathers moved ever so slightly in the weak breeze. She looked first left, then right, assuring herself that she wouldn't knock into anyone. She was still growing accustomed to her wingspan.

Ha! Wingspan, she thought. With one powerful stroke, her wings pushed downward, thrusting her weightlessly up into the air. Though this wasn't her first flight, she still got a thrill from taking off and, even now, the adrenaline raced through her veins. With excitement, she beat her wings repeatedly against the air, rising higher and higher in the sky. Once she had risen to eye level with the tips of the mountains, she stretched her wings out to her side.

Tilting forward, she began to pick up speed as the wind buffeted her face and flowed pleasantly over her outstretched wings. She could almost feel the vibration of each individual feather as the air passed through, keeping her aloft in the snowy sky. The ground rocketed beneath her as she glided aimlessly around the stronghold. It felt so good to fly.

Yes, Daevehood certainly had its perks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

AI: Sweet Sixteen

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Billy Idol or Hillary Duff... you pick. I think Hillary's talks more about wings, but I'm more of a rock guy myself.

As you may have guessed, I hit 16 as a Spiritmaster last night on Aion. Fun times. The queue was non-existent at 6pm, but I think it ramped up as the night went on. At one point, we were disconnected and logged back in to see the number around 800 people in the queue. Luckily, the server still remembered me and zipped me right back into the game. So, still a queue, but it seems to be shrinking.

There are still tons of "shop afkers" as we're calling it. I have to say, I have a lot of mixed feelings about this. On one hand, when I run by a store where someone is selling a single piece of Azpha for one billion dollars (*pinky to mouth*), I just get angry. It's not like they're even being sneaky about it or anything; their message clearly says: "Afk". C'mon now, you're not even trying. I'd rather see the default message than that crap.

At one point, I did have to go afk for about 15 minutes to grab some food and such, and then it was nice to have the shop and know you weren't going to get logged out and have to face the dreaded queue. In my defense, apart from it only being 15 minutes, I actually put some stuff up at a reasonable price and sat just inside the doorway to the alchemy area. Being an alchemist, I knew that Kandula is a key ingredient in some of the early potion recipes, namely the lesser mana variety. I go through these pretty rapidly when questing, so it was a good bet that I wasn't the only one who needed to make more.

I advertised simply "Kandula" and by the time I'd returned I was sold out of the 20 or so I had. For something you gather for free, it was nice to make money off of it. It's all about location. Of course, Kandula isn't going to sell right next to a Kandula plant, but in the middle of Pande? Fo'sho. That's what the private store is for, after all... not afks.

Perhaps the best "fix" I've heard is to limit the afk store to one hour if there is a queue. Putting on my Software Engineer hat for a moment, I don't think such a limit would be too hard to set up. You could have the SW check to see if there is a queue for the server (which it should already know), and then start a timer on any store. After an hour, it will close your store, requiring you to either be there to re-open it, or effectively logging you off.

I figure, if someone wants to avoid a queue so bad that they're popping in at least once an hour to check their store (something you should probably do anyways if you're running a real store), then at least they're putting in the effort. It also doesn't defeat the store purpose and allows you short afks. It's the people who leave it up overnight for like 12+ hours that bother me. In China, they have to pay by the hour, so it's not a problem there. Here, however, we don't give a shit things like wasting copious amounts of electricity and the other negative side-effects of leaving your crap on and running over night. I'm not a "green" person by any means, but it just seems so wasteful and selfish to do the over night thing. Especially if you're not even going to try to offer a half-ass store. At least put in a witty phrase or something that makes me giggle!

Like I said, my feelings are mixed because I like the idea of a private store and if there were NO queues, there wouldn't be this problem. So "fixing" the afk store is sort of like putting a band-aid on. It'll stop the bleeding for a bit, maybe allow some healing to occur, but is NOT permanent. The only permanent solution is for NCSoft to continue ramping up support and capacity (all while remaining balanced mind you), so that they are eventually able to support their entire player base. I'll be the first to admit that this is no easy task, and I applaud NCSoft's efforts so far. They haven't been perfect, but I think, in the industry, they've proven to be one of the best at handling what appears to be a common issue (we can argue until we're blue in the face about whether or not it should be an issue in the first place).

In other news, and more of what I had in mind for this post (before sidetracking myself on a mini-rant), when you hit 16 as a Spiritmaster, you start to switch up your rotation a bit. Recall on Tuesday I'd mention that around level 10, I was using something like this:

Ice Chain (1 and the bonus if it's up) > Erosion > Fire Chain (same thing here, if the extra spell is up, of course I'm going to use it!) (rooting when needed, and just sending my pet in)

By the time you hit 16, you've picked up a couple more spells. One is sort of a "pet taunt" in that it is an ability that can have "high emnity" (emnity = aggro for WoW people). Also, it becomes clear that the fire spirit is a far better tank than your wind spirit. The tooltip for your "pet taunt" spell confirms this, since, for the wind spirit, it is classified as a "weak" taunt.

You also pick up a spell that causes two orbs of fire to fly at your target and bombard it with... themselves. Pretty awesome if you ask me. I think watching a spiritmaster in action can be sort of awe-inspiring. I mean, when gladiators do their crazy-jumpy-flippy attack, it's pretty cool, but a SM in full DPS mode will have a spirit on a target, two electrified, fiery orbs bashing into the target, all the while hurtling spells from a comfortable distance away. There's just a lot going on. Here's sort of how I roll now:

Send pet in > Pet taunt > Summon Orb thingies > Erosion > Ice Chain (1+1) > Fire Chain (1+1) > Root if it's running at me (which it should be by now) > Fire Chain again (just the first part) until death.

Sometimes I may have to run a bit to give myself room. I may also refresh Erosion if it looks to live longer, but most stuff is dead by the end of the rotation. You also pick up an Earth slowing attack (sorry I'm horrible with spell names right now) which is instant cast, this can come in handy for those spontaneous aggros. Keep in mind, though, that it shards a cooldown with your ice chain. The knockback/stun on the ice chain makes it a better choice if you have room and time. If not, run around slowing and hitting erosion while your pet/orbs beat on the dude. This has saved my butt a couple times. You can always root too.

So far, loving the class... even with being underrepresented and all. I'm sure the whole grounded pet thing will become a problem in the not too distant future, but I'm going to stick it out (especially knowing they're planning to change that). How's your Aion going? What's your fave class so far?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quick Patch Reflection

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Since I already covered the warlock portion of the patch notes, you know, since they're non-existent (except for a few bug patches... thanks nibs!). I wanted to quickly touch on the DK changes. The ones I copied are the ones that pertain to my specs of choice, and they're pretty simple.

In short, DW DPS really has no changes, but DW tanking gets a slight buff with the addition of Rune Strike to the ToT talent. This should help increase single target threat generation. The increase in armor from the unbreakable talent and the increase in frost presence damage reduction is an obvious buff as well. DW tanking should be more viable now than ever.

That's pretty much all there was to this patch class-wise for me. Adding Ony should be fun, I'd love to get a crack at her, but I'm not sure when that'll be. Heck, I still haven't successfully done the new VoA boss. I keep getting in PuGs and they keep being failsauce. Oh well, I'll get there sooner or later. I probably need to convince my raid group that we need to "check those off our list".

To be honest, this patch was really quite small. I suppose it is a minor patch and, thus, should be minor. However, if the patch is small and the changes are minor, why all the lag? Why the server instability? Did they just figure that we couldn't get the same "patch day" feel without it? "Working as intended"? *Sigh*

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

WoW 3.2.2 Patch Notes

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Service announcement... full 3.2.2 patch notes are up here.

Here's a reproduction of the areas I cover for your viewing pleasure (I'll write about them tomorrow, maybe):

  • Frost DK

    • Threat of Thassarian now also causes Rune Strike to use both weapons when dual-wielding.
    • Unbreakable Armor: Cooldown reduced to 1 minute and changed back to granting 25% additional armor while active instead of flat damage reduction based on armor. The amount of strength granted has been reduced to 10%.
    • Frost Presence: The damage reduction granted by this ability has been increased from 5% to 8%

  • Warlock

    • Nothing? Srsly? Yep, Nothing. Welp, that's some warlocky blog fodder right there, let me tell you. *sigh*.

    AI: Spiritmaster Beginnings

    0 comments
    It looks like WoW may be patching today, and I'll definitely be checking out the patch notes as soon as they're release, so look for a warlocky and deathknighty run through in the very near future. In addition to (and maybe in competition with?) Blizzard's moves, NCSoft is having a big day today with the official release of Aion. Here's hoping the smoothness and playability of the launch continues.

    "But the queues!" - I know, I know. It's been really the central focus of QQ and nerd rage aimed at the launch. However, I spoke some about it yesterday and Naamah makes a great analogy about it too. Still, I realize there is no consoling those of you that paid good money for your pre-order (or CE) only to find out that you were able to take advantage of it at all because of the long waits. As a good friend put it, there really isn't a "casual" right now, since you have to really have a good chunk of time to play the game.

    I'm not going to focus too much on it, other than to point out that IF you can get in (maybe a big if in some cases), the game remains PLAYABLE. This is in stark contrast to many of my MMO launching experiences, the most recent (for me) being the ubiquitous Northrend crashes upon Wrath's release. Even the all-mighty Blizzard has trouble managing the in-rush spikes, and they're probably the most seasoned MMO company out there right now. For their part, I think NCSoft is doing a pretty damned good job given the limitations and standards of the industry right now. Is there room for improvement? Definitely! It's my belief, though, that this launch has (so far) been a step in the right direction.

    For those of you who feel gypped by your extra money spent on pre-orders and CEs, I hope the in-game items console you a bit. They'll still be there for you, whenever you get in. To be honest, they are the main reason I pre-ordered. That and the beta key. I sort of went into the launch with low expectations, figuring the servers very well might be down an out this entire week. Perhaps that's why I'm pleasantly surprised. It has been a hassle, but it hasn't been the catastrophe I braced myself for.

    In any case, I wanted to move away from that and into a short segment about my first chosen class: The spiritmaster. For those unfamiliar with the class, the short version is that the Spiritmaster is the pet-based mage class of Atreia. It's the closest thing to a warlock that I could find. It combines nuking with pet management to produce what I think is a really fun class to play.

    Approaching play from a warlocky angle, I've even started to develop a rotation. Being more of a PvP game than WoW, I think there is less emphasis on a set "max" rotation, and more focus on learning to use your abilities in a time- and situation-appropriate manner. Still, it doesn't prevent me from bring my particular approach to the game.

    As such, here's what I'm doing:
    • Ice Chain to lead off, finish with the second spell of the chain to knock back your target and stun it
    • Follow up with either your DoT or your Fire chain. It depends on how long the thing is going to live. Since I'm duo'ing everything with an assassin (Fuu), things don't really live long... I usually skip the DoT.
    • If something gets close to you, use your rooting spell.
    • If you draw unexpected aggro - root it and DoT it... all while running away to get into your ice chain rotation.
    • Kite Kite Kite. DoT and Kite. Great strategy for staying alive. Run in circles if you have to with auto attack on. Strafe to keep it in front of you and for the dodge bonus.
    • You have a stoneskin spell, use it. You can probably take about three hits before you're in trouble. Plan accordingly
    That's about it. My basic, fall back rotation is Ice Chain, DoT, Fire Chain. It's that simple... at least at level 13. I'll relate more as I learn it.

    As far as pet choice goes, I have two at my disposal at the moment. The fire guy you get after ascension and the wind spirit I got as a random world drop. It seems to me that the fire spirit is better suited to tanking (definitely can take more of a beating), but the wind spirit is a bit better on the DPS end. I haven't yet found any test dummies in Aion and I certainly don't have Recount, so I can't give any numbers, only a feel.

    Currently, it's sort of a pain that the pets can't fly with you, but that is scheduled to change soon in a forthcoming patch. At the very least, it's on the dev's radar. I think that's been the biggest complaint so far with the class, but it's something that doesn't bother me a whole lot. For now, I've been doing a lot of my questing in "grounded" areas anyways. Plus, I'm sort of used to the annoyance of pets and following from my warlocky background. Remember the old mantra: "Make sure you de-summon your pet before you jump?" Well, that definitely applies in Aion right now.

    Love the game so far, but I'm still raiding tonight in WoW (if their servers are up: I guess my choices might end up being long queue servers or crashed patchy servers, which would you pick?). Hope everyone else enjoys the launch day!

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    AI: Quick Monday Update

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    So far, the head start of Aion is going well. There were a few small lag spikes here and there, plus a rather lengthy queue. However, the queue is explained by the devs in the Aion Source forums that they're just trying to level out the initial spikes with the goal of good server health down the road. Basically, they want active, healthy, busy servers. Not a spike and then ghost towns. It's a pretty good strategy. Additionally, they're managing the queues dynamically. That is to say, they're monitoring how many people are trying to log on and are stuck in queues and will tweak the numbers so that it keeps moving and that you WILL be able to play.

    Though being a queue sucks, I think it's good that the devs are being open about their goals AND that they have the future health of the game in mind. We all know that spikes happen at the beginning and then settle down over time. Heck, I've seen worse launches in the almighty WoW with their expansions and patches. In Aion, servers only went down rarely and were back up pretty quick. Queues moved at a steady rate, even though they were quite large at peak times. Lag showed up, but quickly went away. I've seen worse on x-pac day with WoW, or just random patching days. (I compare the two here since everyone uses WoW as a benchmark for polish, not because I think Aion is the "wow killer". I still they they can and will co-exist).

    There are always going to be people that QQ, but I think if you're being realistic about the game and the necessities of the MMO genre in general, you realize they're doing a pretty damn good job so far. We'll see if that carries over into the official launch, when I'm sure we'll get another giant wave of people. All in all, though, I think they've really done this in a smart way that lets them react to the influx of people in a controlled manner, and not just knee-jerk to spikes. Hopefully that will translate into long term server stability.

    Anyways, Fuu and I got up this morning and there was no queue (though quite a few "afk" stores where people said "at school", yay for being old and taking a day off for a game, we needed the break), so we're signing in right now to get back to the action. If you happen to get on the Lumiel server and want to say "hi", look for Genevieve the spiritmaster (that's me). I went with the patron saint of natural disasters. =)

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Among the Stars

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    Silent darkness greets Fulguralis as he stumbles over the threshold of his home near Stormwind. He closes the door and lets the darkness wash over him for a minute, enjoying the stillness of the midnight hour. The voices in his mind quiet for a moment, temporarily satiated by the violence of the night.

    A shaft of light pierces the peace, and Fulguralis squints back towards the opened door. The silhouette of an armor clad paladin fills the frame. Taking a step forward, Fuubaar stumbles drunkenly towards the bed. After a rough night of tanking, she'd had a few celebratory pints at the Dalaran tavern before they'd had the sober-porter send them home. Trust me, you don't want a drunken mage porting you around, someone has to be the responsible one.

    "Light please, dear," Fuubaar announces, kissing her husband lightly on the lips.

    What is it with paladins and light? Was the darkness really that unpalatable to them? Fulguralis ponders these questions, reflecting on how he rather enjoys the darkness. Then, with a negligent flick of the wrist, he sparks two hanging oil lamps into flame. Light washes over the room, sending the voices in his head atwitter. Fulguralis glances at the Dwarven clock, ticking loudly on the nightstand next to the bed: midnight on the dot.

    "Ugh," Fulguralis moans as the light pokes at his bloodshot eyes. Tomorrow was going to be an early morning.

    Fuubaar stumbles over and falls onto the bed, passing out across the bed, as usual. Fulguralis looks down at his shoulders and brushes the remaining flecks of iron from his cloth robes. They had dissembled the Assembly of Iron tonight for the first time, and victory always felt good.

    Moving his wife aside with a tenderness that belies his warlocky exterior, Fulguralis pulls the covers back and tucks her in before settling in beside her. The voices die down. Sleep enters and searches the room, finally finding purchase in the two prone figures on the bed.

    Unbeknownst our two adventurers, the flickering of the still lit candles seem to halt, the twisting shadows on the freezing as if caught in some unspeakable act of deception. The loud ticking of the Dwarven clock is silenced. It as if time itself has stopped completely.

    The light dims, and a small round orb rises out of first Fuubaar and then Fulguralis. They swirl with a multitude of colors, enigmatic and yet familiar at the same time. Fuubaar's orb zips off, quickly exiting the room. Fulguralis's orb follows.

    It rises up, up, out of the residence and high above the Azerothian continent. The world below drops away as the two orbs continue, flitting here and there while zipping towards some as yet unknown destination. They approach the nearby star that shines down on the world of Azeroth, now but a spec in the distance. The huge fiery ball proves not to be what it seems, but a collection of similar spheres, all bouncing and flitting around as if caught in some sort of primitive ecstasy.

    For a moment, the two spheres join the multitude, but then they are off again. Streaking through this strange universe at ludicrous speeds, they come at last to an egg shaped planet that has been split in two around the equator. The egg has cracked outward, as if some internal explosion had caused the phenomenon. The two orbs circle the planet for a moment, observing, judging.

    As if a sudden decision has been made, they straighten their paths and dive directly down into this strange new world. Swirling once around the delicate pillar that had apparently once joined the two halves of the shattered planet, they quickly head for the upper portion of the egg. This part is untouched by the nearby orb-comprised star, and lies shrouded in darkness.

    They travel swiftly across alien landscapes, eventually settling atop two shadowy forms. The forms are nondescript, almost clay-like as they lay flat on the open landscape of the planet. They have not yet been created, but creation is imminent. It can be felt like electric currents running through the air. The scene begins to brighten around the two orbs, and they slowly descend to lodge themselves in the hearts of the semi-formed bodies below them.

    The multi-hued lights of the orbs wash over and give the lumps features. Faces now smile back at the heavens, colored and lively after the work of the orbs. Though these two new creations do not know it, they share a strange link with the two adventurers that we left on the Azerothian planet. They are about to be born into a new existence of their own, fraught with perils unique to their world. Struggles that are, however, not unlike the ones faced by their adventuring brethren on the previous planet.

    Though linked, these new beings remain as blithely unaware of their strange possession as the two slumbering adventurers in Azeroth. Only the orbs know what they are doing here. Only the orbs know of the link. They are different, yet they have the same origins.

    And so, two new adventurers are born from two old ones. A new tale begins, linked and yet not linked with what we've known. A tale that appears to be at the mercy of two alien orbs.
    (Author's note: this does not mean I will neccessarily switch to Aionic stories, I just wanted to open the possibility of being able to tell a tale from either of the two games. I'd imagine that the "orbs" can travel back and forth between existences at will...)

    Thursday, September 17, 2009

    A Change Of Pace

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    Some nights, when raiding, you're all business. Others, well, not so much. I've written recently about raiding "off-nights", but what about when the off night is intentional? That is to say, as raid lead, what if you approach the night with a far more relaxed attitude?

    Such was the case on Tuesday. I logged on fifteen minutes before raid time, expecting just to be gobbled up in the run and sit back and DPS. I've been busy at work, busy with football, and just generally busy in life. Not the good kind of busy either. Not like: "Whoa! Where has this week gone?" No, this was more like: "Will you PAlease get off my a$$ already?" -or- "Seriously? Why the frack would you do that?!" It happens sometimes.

    So I log in looking forward to standing in the back with my sissy robe (which was a great blog by the way, and it's author has now moved here) only to be informed that I've been promoted to raid leader for the night. When you're known as a raid leader, every once in a while you get the nod. It happens. "Bring in the righty!" they screamed at me, and I jogged out of the bullpen with my head high, fighting the rising urge within me to vomit and return to the safety of the 'pen. It was game time and I needed to put on my game face.

    Or did I?

    Since I wasn't really in the correct mood and certainly not prepared to lead, I decided to approach this night a little differently. I signaled this intention on the first fight (flame levi) by saying: "Go wherever you want and stand by a vehicle, we'll see what we don't have and just go from there." So it was going to be one of those nights.

    We'd been having a lot of drama lately, and I think everyone needed a relaxed, lets-just-do-this-and-not-worry-about-being-smart kind of night. It wasn't exactly an "off-night" since we didn't play horribly. We just didn't spend a whole lot of time discussing things or figuring our who's best for what. We just went and did it. I'd like to think that many people enjoyed this slight change of pace, but the reality is that I'm sure a good chunk of the group were frustrated by my lack of characteristically heavy handed leadership. It's not that I'm usually a micro-manager, because I don't really believe in that style, but I'm usually a lot more prepared and attentive.

    I just went with it.

    Instead of trying to force myself into the ol' shoe box, I just sort of let things happen. People chatted, there was a moderate amount of confusion, and we wiped a few times on the crazy cat lady plus one shameful time onRazorscale (due to enrage and being a couple DPS short of a full group). It wasn't perfect, but I hope it was fun for the people that desperately needed a "fun run". While some people may miss the structure, others can flourish in the freedom. Different strokes for different folks, amirite?

    There may be some wisdom in what I did. There may be some folly. However, it is what it is and, for once, I resisted the urge to over-analyze it. I just played. Think about it next time you're feeling frustrated. An "off night" doesn't have to be horrible and frustrating... sometimes you can just go with it. Sometimes going out and doing instead of talking is preferable.

    Even after several cat lady wipes, I was surprised when a majority of the raid wanted to continue fighting her. It's a frustrating fight to begin with, but I think we didn't let it get to us. We were being laid back. It was nice to see. I was perfectly prepared to go on to one of the easier fights, as much as I hate to do such a thing.

    The people spoke, then the people went back and whacked that bitch. It was really a momentous moment in an otherwise run-of-the-mill night. It made me proud about our group again, and pride was something we'd been missing lately.

    We didn't get a lot done in a short time, if you measure by bosses. However, if you measure by morale, I'm hoping we turned a small slide around. Only time will tell.

    (P.S. - there was a small update I put in my AI post from Tuesday... times are official now)

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009

    Fuubaar's Rant on Pally Buffs! (If you are NOT a Paladin PLEASE read this)

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    I am here to talk to all of you about a HUGE pet peeve of mine.

    WARNING! VIOLENT RANT INCOMING! WARNING!

    The Paladin Buff

    Why on God's Green Earth do ALL of you bitch about us not buffing you properly?! What other class has such an insane amount of buffs that EVERYONE wants and demands them every 25minutes (I say this because your little beady eyes are always looking at our buffs. "ZOMG It's going to run out in 5 minutes I better warn that paladin about it")

    I KNOW! WE (Insert: Should) HAVE PALLYPOWER!

    It turns red when it gets low. WE GET IT!

    Do you understand that we have to pay for those freaking buffs. EVERY TIME I buff you, I'm paying for it. I WILL not rebuff anytime BEFORE 5 minutes left.This adds up. I have to carry around 300+ reagents a raid night to appease you fucktards. That's three bag spaces that I could be using for things I enjoy! Like Candy for my pet or Leather Balls!

    Also, the time remaining, in no way, makes the buff weaker. "ZOMG 5 minutes left on my Blessing of Might! The Attack Power MUST be lower."

    Another thing that I must tell you is that Blessing of Might sometimes enjoys being overwritten by Commanding Shout (or what ever that buff is from Warriors) When this occurs, I have to rebuff you EVERY SINGLE TIME HE THROWS IT UP! Yes, I know that it's a glitch but does that really matter right now? NO! Same with Blessing of Wisdom. Damn that Shammy and their Mana Tides. Again! It's a glitch and I have to rebuff you.

    If I'm the only paladin, if you piss me off, you aren't getting anything!

    I also have to remember what every class's "Perfect Buff" is:

    "I want Kings" the warlock says
    "I don't want Kings, I want Might" the Hunter says
    "Can I have Might, Wisdom, & Sanctuary!" Says the Three Druids

    I will punch you all in the throat if you don't stop whining.

    What should we learn from all of this?

    If you know that a paladin is setting up the raid buffs, Whisper them. Do Not announce in Raid Chat or WORSE vent. This will only anger us & we will give you the opposite of a helpful buff. Tell them that you would like to have Might instead of Kings for the evening and leave it at that. Tell them once & if they are competent, you should have no problems. If they forget you once, kindly whisper them regarding this matter. Most of the time, there might have been a partial wipe & you were the only 1 of 4 warriors who died (we may have forgotten)

    Our PallyPower knows who's in our range that needs buffed. If we have this, we do not need the Rogue to remind us about it.

    If you, consistently, are not being buffed, maybe that paladin hates you and you should just DIAF or work without the buff. If that buff makes or breaks you, then you have bigger problems my friend.

    Thank you and have a wonderful day.

    This Rant is Sponsored by: Paladin's Against Ungrateful Raiders (P.A.U.R)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009

    AI: A Revisit Character Naming and Other Tales

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    In the past I've written a little about how I choose my names, Fulguralis being a rough Latin translation for lightning that I started using as my online moniker when I was around 16. While Fulguralis is usually associated with me (and, appropriately, there is a lot of "me" in my warlock character), all of my characters need not be "me". With the approach of the release of a new game, there is always the dilemma: What names should I go with? What characters should I create?

    For those of you who don't read elsewhere, I'll rehash what I know about Aion's pending release. Simply speaking, here's a bulleted list of important dates and points:

    • Official Release Date - Sept. 22nd, Noon PDT
    • Head-Start Date for CE purchasers - Sept. 20th, Noon PDT
    • Character Pre-creation - Sept. 18th, Noon PDT
    • All times are subject to change, as these are gleaned from what NCSoft has done with all of their betas. As of yet, I haven't seen an "official" word, but the dates are set in stone. It's very likely that the times are correct as well.
    • You can Pre-create two (2) characters and are eligible if you have pre-ordered the game in ANY form.
    That's the skinny. You can see that the timeline goes something like this then... on Friday the character pre-selection will be opened at around 3pm CST (my time). It will then remain active throughout the life of the game (obviously it could go down for patching, etc like any other MMO). (Update: while the start times are officially correct now, the character preselection will close at 9AM PDT the day of the head start, so there will be a 3 hour window where you cannot do anything on that day) For collector's edition purchasers (I think, maybe all pre-orders here too, I'm not sure), you'll be able to log into LIVE Atreia as early as 3pm CST on Sunday. Then everyone else will hit the servers at 3pm CST on Tuesday. That's how I understand it. That's how I'm doing my planning. I'll be leaving work early on Friday and taking Monday off to sleep in and enjoy a new game. (Fuu and I definitely took sick days when WotLK was released too... we're gamers, what can we say :-D).

    So, with that timeline in mind, I want to be prepared with two names that I can live with for the next however many years finds me in Atreia. I also am pretty sure I want to go with a female toon. We're planning to go Asmodian, and I had made a red-headed spiritmaster in the beta that I REALLY enjoyed playing. Isn't it odd how we sort of fall in love with some characters? I mean, it's not just the playstyle or the look or something specific, it's really that everything just clicks, and you get into that character. I also really enjoyed my buff gladiator that I rolled for the open beta, but I would change some of his features. So, I'm looking at one female, one male toon, which is pretty much what I have now in WoW.

    However, I don't want to reuse the names. My WoW characters are NOT dying. They're not going away. I'm not "retiring" them. They are who they are. Thus, I feel drawn to come up with a different set of names for Aion. In the past, I've always advocated putting a little research into your names. There are people who can hit the random button, slap an "A" in front of what it gives you, and be perfectly happy. I am not one of those people.

    In addition to the research, I advise that you try to use things you care about. For example, my personal heritage is heavily German. I can also speak German conversationally (I wouldn't call myself fluent, but I'm not a complete newb either). So that is one route I may go. A second part of my personal heritage is Catholicism. Yep, I'm a crazy Catholic. What with the wings and all the angelic hullabaloo in this game, the thought of pulling some names out of my religion seems to fit as well. Angel names, yes please.

    In doing some research, I learned something... there are only THREE angels EVER mentioned by name in sacred scripture (aka the Bible). Michael the archangel (played by John Travolta), Gabriel the messenger (played by Tilda Swinton), and the lesser-known Raphael the healer (who as far as I know is still looking for some film love). There are four other names that could be attributed to angels; Uriel, Raguel, Sariel, and Jarahmeel; but none of these are considered Catholic Canon.

    Also, I don't really like any of these names. I mean, Michael and Gabriel will probably be overused (and, if not, they're still a bit obvious). Raphael makes me think more of the ninja turtle (which might be appropriate for an assassin). The rest just really aren't me. They evoke more feelings of the middle east than they do of angels and religion, so it kind of misses the point, IMO.

    Does that throw out a religious tie in? Not really. You see, Catholics have a rather impressive listing of saints. Angels can be saints, but formerly human saints cannot be angels... as far as I know. Still, popular culture would have you believe that "every time a bell ring an angel gets its wings" (thanks, It's a Wonderful Life, great classic. No, I'm not going with Clarence, who strangely enough got his film debut before Raphael).

    So, maybe I could stretch it and use saints names. After all, Daevas are supposed to be humans who were given a bit of divinity due to something Aion noticed within them. The concept isn't all that dissimilar from Catholic saint theology. Not that we think they get wings and cool abilities, but more that we each have a bit of divinity in us, and for some people they display it more prominently than others (obviously simplified theology, but I think it works).

    In any case, I'm going to browse through a list of saints names and see if there isn't a pair that really strike me. If not, I can always fall back on German translations of things. For instance, I thought of going with Hexe, which is German for "witch". Maybe combine it with "heart" to make Herzehexe... so like a witch with a heart? OR a temptress (with magic)! You decide. There are several ways to go, but in any case, I'm going to put some thought into it and try to pick something that has meaning to me. What are your plans?

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Chemistry and Life Lessons, Sort Of

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    This post is going to be a mixture of Aion and WoW, read on at your own peril. Molarity of the mixture? We'll litmus test when we're done.

    Molarity, for those who weren't chem nerds in HS, speaks of the concentration of an acid or base. If you have a hydrochloric acid with a high molarity, for instance, you probably want to add some water to dilute that before pouring it in something corruptible. Like your soul.

    The litmus test is used to measure the strength of an acid or base. It doesn't really tell you molarity or any other type of concentration other than the pH of the liquid. It is also used colloquially to mean "benchmark". I sort of stretch the usage here in tandem with molarity in order to provide a sort of "chemistry joke".

    Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.

    That, and explaining jokes mean the joke was terribad in the first place, so I probably just wasted what little attention I grabbed. Sue me. It's Monday. And I want to corrupt things. Like this table. If I had some high molar acid right now... *sigh*

    In any case, this opening exchange between myself and... myself illustrates how my WoW time has been spent recently. That is to say, I've been feeding rationality and science to the drama llama to no avail, then getting angry and wanting to melt faces. Sometimes, I just melt the faces by pulling out the old electric guitar that sits next to my computer and annoying the shit out of my wife. Sometimes I just muse stealing souls and setting things on fire. Only one is really warlocky so I'll try to stick to that frame of mind.

    Jessabelle writes somewhat about what's going on (with more to follow). The short version is that we, as an alliance, were apparently woefully unprepared to deal with the new 2-hour trade rule. It brings a lot of interesting new looting options to the table that our creative membership have demonstrated. Some of which could be seen as less than honest. The less-than-honest-seeming is what we're dealing with, along with the rankled feathers that go with that. It's not a new fight, the loot stuff, it's just a new twist. It's also one that people don't seem to deal with very well. Has anyone else experienced problems with this? It seems like we're alone, but I find that hard to believe. I mean, we're not the only one with crafty individuals...

    In any case, my WoW time has been limited in part because of the Aionic Open Beta, but also because I've been trolling forums, locking threads, responding to tells, yadda yadda... thus not feeling very excited about signing on. It's good to step back sometimes, and we're not abandoning our charges by any means, but I think Jess and I have both been through this crap enough to know that sometimes we just need to step back and let it run it's course. It's good to drop an opinion off at the pool, but usually people will just watch it float on by anyways.

    We will get it figured out. We have good people on it. Some people will remain upset and not play with some other people. Some people might leave. Such is the way of the drama llama. I hate to minimize the issue, because it really does mean something to me and I get emotional about it, but sometimes you have to remember that this, too, shall pass.

    Hmm, this has gone on long enough and I'm being pulled into a meeting (no one willingly attends meetings, it's only through an un-resistable Death Grip that we attend), thus I'm going to leave this post highly acidic... or WoWic and counter it with some Aionic tomorrow. For now, check out Spooner's vids. Good stuff and I was actually on while he was making some of them. I won't show up in any cuz I was much lower, but there was chatting. I look forward to rolling with these guys upon launch, which is only a week away now!

    Friday, September 11, 2009

    In Honor Of The Fallen

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    (In honor of the memory of 9/11, I offer a second tale from Azeroth today. I hope you enjoy it and remember that no matter where you are, who you are... someone has at one time died so that you might live.)

    A father and his young son stride across the sun-dappled pathway leading up to the ruins of Stromgarde. This once proud stronghold of the Arathor lay now in ruin and disuse, having been destroyed some eight years ago during the third war, it's former might and strength but a fading memory in the minds of the soldiers who fought there in defense of their homeland. Spirits of the dead still haunt the stones, and are never far from the minds of the people.

    It wasn't one of the major battles of the war. It had been destroyed by the Syndicate, a shady criminal organization, not the scourge. Heck, the scourge barely even paid it much attention, except to use it as propaganda in their quest for the fall of the Eastern Kingdoms. Look at how weak these eastern humans are, they would say. Surely their civilization does not deserve the prosperity they've had. The time for the Lich has come.

    Yet, even today, cries of "Remember Stromgarde!" can be heard upon the battlefield, rallying the sons and daughters of Arathor. Yes, the League of Arathor remains strong. It persists in its struggle against the oppression of the scourge and in support of the Alliance. An entire generation of Arathian men share stories of the old days by firelight, before Refuge Point became their home, and war their occupation. Tanners, cobblers, masons they were. Now, soldiers.

    The father stops, pointing out the front gate to the boy, and gesturing as if to describe where two proud towers once rose on either side of the gate, reaching to the sky as if to defy the hold of the very earth they grew out of. What a sight they once were, he tells his son. How glorious was the city in it's prime.

    Only rubble remains now, a shadow of what once was.


    "Remember Stromgarde!" they cry, and the father now echoes the sentiment to his son. Never forget what happened here, he says. Never forget the sacrifices made on this field.

    The son nods, soaking it all in. He looks with wide eyes upon the rubble that he has only ever known as rubble. Tiny tears escape from the corner of his eyes and he thinks of the mother he lost in the war. Tiny tears, yet they are all he has to offer as fitting tribute to that very first woman he loved. The woman taken from him far too early.

    Raising his tear streaked face to the sky he bellows "For The Alliance!"

    A single tear slides down the father's face, and he puts his arm around his son. Slowly, reluctantly they turn their backs on the past, and head back home.

    Catching Up

    2 comments
    "Does it hurt?" Fulguralis asked the girl, walking beside him. Woman, he reminded himself. She's all grown up now. He glanced over at her a felt a tug at his heart as he thought of all the years he'd missed, wrongly assuming she was dead. I suppose she IS dead, he clarified again. His mind reeled with all the new information.

    "What?" She asked innocently, and then looked down at her pale skin. "Oh. That," she said, pursing her lips in disapproval. "I guess not," she explained. "It was a lot worse before I left... the service."

    Silence fell between them again, punctuated periodically by the cracking of barbed leather. They walked on through the night, both unsure of how exactly to go about rekindling their old relationship. The massive structure of the coliseum loomed to their left, silent now in the dead of the night except for a few eager adventurers intent on getting in some late-night practice.

    "Does it hurt?" Decedereful asked, a small smile playing with the corners of her lips.

    Fulguralis looked over his shoulder at the Succubus that was glaring intently at him. She was clearly pissed at her recent dismissal, and she now stalked sullenly behind him, hitting him every so often with her whip. "You get used to it." He flinched as another crack echoed off the nearby stones and the barb caught him lightly on the backside.

    "Congratulations on being recognized for the blow you dealt to the renegade Blue Dragonflight during the Nexus War," Decedereful observed. "The mages at Dalaran were quite pleased. They've been calling you the Champion of the Frozen Wastes."


    "You saw that?" Fulguralis asked, embarrassed.

    Decedereful shrugged, "I was following you."

    Fulguralis blushed, "I didn't do it for the recognition."

    "Why did you do it, then?"

    Fulguralis shook his head, refusing to answer, and instead changed the subject, "What have you been up to lately? Besides, you know, following me."

    Decedereful looked at the snow-covered ground with burning eyes. "Preparing myself to face the Lich King," she said through clenched teeth.

    Fulguralis stopped, raising an eyebrow in the direction of his twin sister. "And just how were you preparing?"

    Fulguralis had been working hard with a group of adventurers as well as the Argent Crusade, dutifully preparing himself for the impending assault on Icecrown Citadel. He was still currently assisting with subduing the forces at Ulduar. He doubted very much that a loner Death Knight would have much success on that path.

    "I've been killing Horde," Decedereful answered, also stopping and meeting her brother's questioning stare. "There's more than one way to skin a mistsaber, you know."

    "Ah yes," Fulguralis nodded his approval. "Been out to the Isle then I take it?"

    "Of course," his sister answered, another smile playing at the corners of her mouth.

    "Hoarding up the kills?" Fulguralis asked, obviously pleased with his pun.

    Decedereful scowled, "That's awful, Boy." She reached over and punched Fulguralis in the arm with an armored fist.

    "Ow!" Fulguralis exclaimed, rubbing his arm. The whip-crack of whistling leather burst through the still night air. Fulguralis flinched again.

    "You're such a clothie," Decedereful pointed out.

    "Oh, shut up."

    (Author's Note: I don't usually e-peen about achievements and such, but the frozen wastes title is one that I think says something. I'm not sure what it says, but it says something. I figured that rather than purely waste everyone's time saying "lookie what I did", I could at least make it semi-entertaining :-D.)

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    AI: Aionic Information

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    As the open beta continues and my excitement to finally start the game increases, Aion has been at the forefront of my illness addled mind. Obviously, with my raid group having an "off night" the other day, WoW isn't doing too much to challenge it for the spot. I find myself logging into WoW, doing a few maintenance/officer things, and then rushing over to level in the OB.

    Why? I'm just excited about the game and a new environment. It's not that it's all that fresh or even all that different from WoW. There are a lot of good differences and a lot of similarities. It is, however, a completely unknown game to me as compared with WoW, and I'm enjoying the Newb. I'm enjoying the sense of discovery that comes from being on the rising wave of a new game. I've never done that before, having come late to the WoW scene from Final Fantasy. Unlike a lot of bloggers/gamers, I've really never "beta'ed" anything before.

    In any case, this post is to introduce my new labelling scheme. I'd mentioned in the past that I plan to write a bit about Aion upon it's release and until now I've tried to keep it simple (for the same reasons I don't usually write about the WoW PTR). As we approach release date, I wanted to come up with something to let you, the reader, know when I'm waxing aionic. Thus, I will preface the titles of Aion specific posts with the "AI" designation. That way, if you're not into the game, you can be sure to ignore that post. :-)

    My current goal for the open beta is to get my Warrior to ascend and try out some of the Gladiator class. As things stand, I've taken each of the four starting classes to ascension throughout the betas. Warrior is my last one. I haven't tried all 8 classes, but I feel hat I've at least gotten as sampling of the ones I'm interested in. My current plan is to roll a spiritmaster upon release, with a second toon being a melee class (probably Gladiator). I almost always roll two toons because I level one with Fuu and keep that static, while having a solo toon in case our play time doesn't match up. It works pretty well for us.

    Like I said, I'm really enjoying being a newb again. The draw for me isn't to "kill" WoW, but to give me an alternate fantasy world to play in. It'll be nice to have a different game to play on those nights when WoW is laggy, offline, or I just plain want a change. Similarly, one of the problems with any new MMO is usually small maintenance bugs right out of the gate. Being able to go play WoW during those times when Aion is laggy or busted will be nice too. I like not being dependant on one game.

    I also feel like I've gotten to a point in WoW where I'm satisfied. I still enjoy playing and want to raid and see the new stuff in patches, etc... but I don't need to do it all. I don't need every achievement or to grind out the minutia that the game has to offer. I'm content with raiding a few times a week, hopping on to play with friends, running random BGs, and casual things like that. I expect to spend a lot of time in Aion when it comes out because of this.

    So, in short, this is a notification of what to expect around here in the months to come. I will label my Aion posts so you can *not* click over should you choose, and Aion posts make increase in frequency for a bit. However, I'm by no way giving up WoW and will still be writing about my warlock and death knight endeavors as the stories present themselves. I'm hoping that the positive of this method will be a lot of quality articles that don't feel like I'm groping for things to write about, while not upsetting too many people with my dual focus. As always, feel free to submit emails with questions or just leave comments with something you'd like to see or questions you'd have.

    (Screen shot from the official site here. They have some cool wallpapers out there as well.)

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    We Had An Off Night

    4 comments
    The dancing llamas told me to take a sick day today. I just woke up. I feel lazy, but perhaps re-energized. We'll see how it goes.

    Yesterday was a struggle right down to when I forgot I had to coach a football game (it was moved to Tuesday due to Labor Day on Monday, duh), so I had to be an hour late to our raid. No biggy, but it means I came in on Kologarn. Now, that fight went fine and I did around 4k damage, reminding me as I finished 6th on the meters that I really do need to net me some upgrades soon. I just haven't had anything fun drop on those first few Ulduar bosses, and I'm still a few emblems shy of the 58 shot chest token.

    The problem with coming in on Kologarn is that you usually go to Auriaya next. You know, the fight that makes me want to punch babies. And punch them I did. There was so much QQ, and it was like there was always something little that prevented us from succeeding. We were just having one of those "off-nights" where, for whatever reason, you just can't do anything even moderately challenging.

    It's really a group fail. It's like everyone is just one button slower (sick me included), so that the little things stack up and equal death to the raid. Off nights on Auriaya suck.

    We went to Razorscale to try to end the night positive and one shotted her. However, I noticed that her damn fireball thingies were hitting me for like 9k. I have around 17k health with raid buffs. That's more than half my health! Did they buff her? WTF?!

    Since we, as a group, weren't doing the little things right, I was rarely topped off. Then, I'd get nailed for over half my health, followed up by a chain lightning from one of the add mobs, which of course weren't perfectly tanked... dead warlock. Looking back though, I can't expect tank healing on a clothy. I can't expect perfect tanking on the add phases. So I really don't see a way around my death. On a "keyed-in" night, we probably keep me alive, but not on off nights.

    I don't remember that ever being a problem before. Maybe we just haven't had an off night like this in a long while. Maybe they did buff the dragon. Maybe I was just extremely unlucky. Either way, I came in for three bosses, and didn't enjoy two of them because one is the fight from hell that we failed and the other I got two shotted early on and got to watch from the floor. I've been spending a lot of time on the floor lately. Did I mention I'm in bad need of some upgrades?

    Maybe I'll capitalize on this sick day and get back into the 10-man Crusader raid tonight. I dunno, Aion is calling me in Open Beta pretty hard. In any case, does your raid group have "off nights"? Do you just power through them, or is there some trick I'm missing?

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Wi not trei a holiday in Sweden this yer?

    6 comments
    Hope your Labor Day was wonderful. I spent mine on a booze cruise where we tie some tubes to a boat filled with coolers and float down a river. It was actually really cold and I got really drunk as a result of trying to stem the coldness. Always a good decision...

    In any case, I wasn't in a condition or location to facilitate writing yesterday, hence no post. Apologies. In retrospect, I don't have a whole lot to report on anyways, so here's the cliff notes version...

    • Just did BGs and dailies this week, nothing too exciting, was mostly busy with RL stuff.
    • I'm raiding tonight. Still Uld. Not too much new in the department.
    • Apparently the strategy in the new BG has shifted from paratroopering in to taking the docks and workshop. Probably a good thing as you get a decent siege going.
    • Those cannons in the new BG are pretty OP. You can like three whack people... or get three whacked. Good times.
    • Noonish on Saturday is a good time to pwn face at PvP. I think mostly kids are playing and they spend more time trying to come up with clever racially/sexually suggestive or just blatanly offensive lines than they do playing.
    • By kids I mean, people who act immature and suck at playing. I suppose the fact that I attribute this to a younger demographic shows my age prejudice. Point being, I know some 13 year olds that are more mature than 45 year olds. That's a whole 'nother post tho.
    • If you type "reported" after every thing one of said "kids" says... you're that guy. Srsly, we all know you're not actually reporting everything these idiots say. And if you are, kudos to you for trying to make the world a better place. I just /ignore.
    • All evil needs to win is for good people to do nothing. That's a quote from somewhere. I just demonstrated my fail at understanding and implementing it. Double kudos to the report guy. Also, I'm evil.
    • I've totally sidetracked myself on stupid crap.
    • A moose once bit my sister...
    • We apologize for the lack of focus in this posting. Those responsible for this posting have been sacked.
    • Aion open beta started, we got to level five. We're playing with Mr. Spooner. If you're looking for a place to play, check out his post here.
    • We only got to level five because I tried to go to bed early (rez sickness from the day before, long debuff, trust me).
    • Little known fact, drinking actually lowers your body temperature. Thus, though you *feel* warmer, you're actually colder. It's all relative, man.
    • There's a say about "the hair of the dog that bit you", I'm debating it's wisdom.
    • Mynd you, moose bites can be pretty nasti...
    • We apologize again for the lack of focus. Those responsible for sacking the people who have just been sacked have been sacked. - "Ralph" the wonder llama.
    ¡Hasta!

    (Referential humor pilfered from Monty Python and the Holy Grail opening credits. Why? 'Cuz why the f@#$ not.)

    Friday, September 4, 2009

    The Prodigal Daughter

    4 comments
    Stunned into silence, Fulguralis backed up as the death knight in his grip toppled forward to the dirt floor of the tent. His mind reeled as he tried to make sense of what he'd just heard. But, Boy, it's me... So simple, so innocent, yet could it be?

    He tried to force himself to see through the tin can veneer that coated the voice of every death knight he had met. He tried to put the glowing blue eyes in the face of the girl he once knew. He struggled with the obvious changes, not only from the years, but also from the transformation that the Lich King had bestowed upon her. He tried, for once, to see his sister.

    He succeeded.

    The shock of the revelation tore through Fulguralis' brain like a whirlwind of fire dashing malevolently through the midst of a group of adventurers, tossing random thoughts to the wayside like weightless corpses and burning him down to his very core. Somewhere deep inside, a wound he had attempted to seal rent itself open again, bleeding fresh and spilling over the walls of his heart to flow up and threaten to drown his very being. Tears sprung fresh to his eyes as the memories of his only kin, the sister he had left behind, rose to the surface of his war torn mind.

    The succubus across the room raised one seductive eyebrow in the direction of her master, sensing the turmoil in him. Something was going on here that she didn't understand. Why didn't he just kill this interloper?

    The death knight lay sobbing on the floor, heavy plate armor heaving up and down. No tears fell to blot the dirt floor. Still, the armor almost seemed to swallow the suddenly fragile form of the girl inside. What had once been a strong, proud knight of Arthas was reduced to a blubbering mass huddled on the floor, patiently awaiting her deserved fate.
    The succubus loosened her whip at her side. If her master was bewitched by this knight, she must do what she can to protect him.

    Her devotion was not out of any sense of loyalty, but merely because without his power, she would be cast back into the never ending night from which she came, and she rather did prefer this world. She took a menacing step towards the heap on the floor.

    "No," Fulguralis called. "Let her be." With a flick of his arm he dismissed his minion and she faded, screaming, from the world. Fulguralis knew he would probably pay for that later.

    "Girl, is that really you?" He called out hesitantly.

    The memories poured over him in a deluge now, many he had thought he'd forgotten years hence. His early years in the orphanage flooded back. They'd been left on the doorstep with nothing but two notes on matching baskets: "It's a Boy! It's a Girl". Growing up, they'd been given names by the sisters, but they'd always jokingly call themselves "Boy" and "Girl", as that was the only names they'd ever truly known as theirs.

    Then, at sixteen he'd run away to join in the fight that had claimed his family. He wasn't even quite sure what fight that was. Still, he'd sworn to his sister that he would go in search of power, the power to avenge their parents. It was that drive that had led him down the path of the Warlock. It was that drive that had led to his abandonment of the only family he'd ever had.

    He knew she'd try to follow him, she was always so clingy like that, so he'd snuck out of the orphanage one night while she was asleep. He'd always assumed she'd grow up, taught by the sisters of the Light to sew and cook and do the other things that the womenfolk of Stratholme were taught to do.

    Less than a year later, the Culling occurred, and after searching in vain through the wreckage of the city, he had assumed his sister to be dead. Five years of searching and study later, he was introduced to the ways of the Warlocks, and thus his journey began... alone. Somewhere along the way, apparently his sister had died and been born again in the service of his greatest enemy. Now she had broken free of his claim in order to return to him, to reunite the family he had thought was lost. A monster she may be, but, in his own way, so was he.

    He walked over to the pile of plate on the floor and put one hand on her cold, hard shoulder. She turned and looked up at him, emotion tearing at her beautiful features. For a moment, her eyes didn't burn quite so bright and her hair wasn't so dark. She was the bright eyed girl he'd grown up with. Whatever she might be now, she was still and would always be his sister.

    Kneeling down, Fulguralis wrapped his arms around his long lost kin, and felt a curious warmth spread through him. Somewhere, deep inside of the warlock, a cold, hard hole had been filled.

    Thursday, September 3, 2009

    For The First Time: The New VoA and ToGC

    3 comments
    Last night I got the chance to do two things I hadn't done before. First, I got called in to help out with a VoA run. This was a guild run for a friendly guild, and they'd been about three people short of the full ten. The plan was to start off on the new boss. Many of the raiders had not seen this boss before, myself included.

    We had hoped the run would be a quick, three boss foray into the vault. However, as with most learning experiences, the run turned painful pretty quick. We wiped for about a half hour before calling it because several of us had another raid to attend. It really wasn't all that bad, there were just too many of us trying to learn the encounter. People stayed positive and it wasn't a big deal when we all had to leave. A key to this is probably starting on the new boss, so that if you don't succeed, no one is saved, and thus you can just break it up with not a whole lot of hard feelings or "when the hell are we going to be able to schedule this again."

    The fight itself is not that difficult, but it does take a moderate level of coordination. The tank must kite the boss around the circular room in order to avoid standing in fire. As with most boss fights we're used to, standing in the fire is bad. The fire spots for this boss are somewhat smaller than most of the circles of death that we're used to seeing, but they definitely will kill you if you're not quick to get out of them. He randomly puts these on raid members, so everyone has to stay alert.

    He also does a crazy whirlwind of fire that will hit similar to XT's temper tantrums. That is to say, it'll hit everyone and take everyone pretty low on health. If you've been recently bathing in fire, you'll probably die. I don't care how much you think it exfoliates... bad fire is bad. He'll also cleave you if you're in front of him, so the more clothie folks will want to stay behind the tanks kite path. The attack is called meteor fists and conically spread out over the people standing in front of him at the time. It's not so bad if you're a tank, but if you're squishy to begin with, I suggest finding the butt.

    So, in short, stay out of the fire, try to stay behind the kite path, and DPS your little heart out. Standing outside of the inconveniently red-colored inner circle of the room can help you see the fires. Also, say thank you to your healers if you survive, because the onus really is on them for this one. There's just a lot of damage to heal through.

    The second new experience I had was running 10-man Trial of the Grand Crusader, aka the newish raid instance that takes place in the coliseum. I'd like to say I learned a lot, and I did... from watching. You see, a snobold jumped on me right away, banging away at my head and stunning me directly in the middle of a little fire. If we've learned one thing from the previous boss of the night, it's that bad fire is bad. So yeah, crispy warlock is dead. Which sucks because there are two more bosses immediately following this first guy that I now have to just lay there and watch. At least it got that damned snobold off my head.

    I'd like to offer a summary of tips and tricks for these guys, but I'll reserve that for a later, more alive posting time. I'd like to, you know, experience the fight first. And not from the floor.

    So after I got rezzed for the second phase, I was all focused and ready not to die again. I was moderately successful. We kept wiping when he'd summon those infernals. In retrospect, I think there were just enough DPS that were confused about how to handle these that they stayed up too long and caused too much damage. What really needs to happen is that people need to mostly stay put, DPS the adds when they're in range and switch to the boss if they go out of range, all while avoiding the various AoEs and fires that spring up. What was happening was half of us running around trying to "DPS the adds!" and then getting out of range of a healer and succumbing to AoE when an infernal balls up and Sonic-the-hedgehog's our ass.

    After getting night-at-the-roxbury'ed (yeah, descriptive verbs today, right?) by two infernals, I bit it again, but watched as we finished off the boss. I'm happy to say that in our previous unsuccessful attempts, I had be one of the last ones alive, but of course when we actually kill the bugger, I'm one of the early ones to die. Thus, I again watched a lot of a fight from the floor. It was just one of those nights.

    Real quick, I'm going to segway (on a segway, ha!) and say: WTF is up with this Jaraxxus character getting green fire before the rest of us warlocks. I mean, he sort of a frackin' minion right? Granted he kills that idiot gnome (Grand Warlock fails at summoning a doomguard? Srsly, that's elementary for 'locks) that summoned him and stylizes himself as a "Lord", but minions so totally DO NOT get green fire before the masters. It's just not right and offended my tender warlock sensibilities. So screw you and your green fire Mr. Lord Jerk Person. You and your creepy hands-pulling portal thingy can go back to the fiery pits that spawned you. And no Fizzlewhatever is gonna bring you back, you crafty opportunist you. Now leave before I taunt you a second time.

    And since I'm on a rant, lets go right into the final portion of the night: the so-called "PvP' portion of the encounter. I dunno who keeps saying "it's like PvP", but you can go fly a damn kite. Maybe I just horribly suck at PvP, but this was not like any PvP I've ever done. You see, PvP normally consists of pitting yourself against another player with similar reflex times (lag variable of course) and a similar number of cooldowns and abilities. Sure, gear may alter how much you hit or get hit for, but generally speaking you're in the same ball park. One of you is NOT a boss.

    Maybe this is similar to PvP'ing in a bracket where you're the low level and everyone else is like three to five levels above you. Oh, and they don't have cooldowns, have infinite trinkets to get out of any CC you throw down, hit like a truck, heal like a pally on meth, have the twitchiest reflexes of the most experienced FPS player, and on top of all that, they just nabbed themselves a tenacity bonus since it's 10 vs. 6. Then, on top of all that, they're completely stupid and run around randomly targeting people and not really using any special abilities other than three whacking your shoddy clothie ass with white noise attacks.

    What you should take from the above rant is not that the opposite faction champions are "good players" you're PvP'ing against, they're just six minibosses with no aggro table that run around wreaking havok on your raid. There is no strategy here, burn healers fast and try to survive. CC doesn't stick. The only thing that seems to work is stunning, but you only get like, one of those per fight for most classes. Plus, you're getting harassed by that damn hunter's cat so you can't cast shit anyways. ZOMG /headdesk.

    The fight just makes me angry. Perhaps 25-man is better. Perhaps we're just undergeared for the encounter as a group. Perhaps we all suck terribly at PvP (though experience would tell me otherwise. I'm not an arena junkie, but I'm not a noob either). Perhaps we just don't really know how to go about this yet and our strategy of burning healers was fundamentally flawed. However, it didn't seem like we could DPS through their ridiculous healing. The druid/paladin healer combo was fuggin' ridonkulous.

    Anyways, that's enough rantiness for one post. I hope maybe you learned something. Hopefully the learning wasn't from the floor like mine. If it was from the floor, you probably need to lay off the sauce. I mean, it's early.

    Then again... it's five o'clock somewhere. *Cheers*

    Wednesday, September 2, 2009

    For The Love Of...

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    [insert preferred deity here]... is how I'm sure at least a few dubious sentences started last night when people logged in only to find "extended maintenance". It always sucks to have your plans for the night ruined. However, as Jess over at Miss Medicina points out, we should probably all cut Blizz some slack and just take it in stride. It's not like they don't usually try to make up for it with account credit. Besides, when you think about the sheer volume of work probably has to be done, it's amazing they still even try to say it's going to be by a certain time. I mean, I guess they have to, but it's a pretty ambitious task to begin with.

    After the maintenance boss crit all over our raid (not QQ, mind you, just the superfluously stated facts), we decided to shoot for a 10-man alt Naxx run. With the new emblem changes, it's always a great idea to just try to do something easy that you've already progressed through on nights like these. You never know if there will be lag, DC's, addon errors, or other flukes of cyber nature, so running something you know pretty well and can conquer easily is just the ticket.

    It can actually end up being quite fun to approach these old, worn battles with some new challenges. A healer DC's during the first boss fight? No problem, solo heal it! Your tank's addon screws up and aggro cannot be held? Welcome to Azerothian DPS Ping Pong! Your DPS DC? Who cares? They're just DPS! Amirite? (*grumble*).

    In any event, it gave me a chance to test out my dual wielding death knight craziness in a raid environment. I went in with the intention of rolling on tanking gear, even though I'd be in a DPS role. I'm happy to say that I was up around 3k DPS all night. As is normal with my spec, I'm a lot better on trash and multiple mob pulls than on single boss fights (spreading disease and howling blast give you a nice little DPS boost). That fact alone always throws me for a loop when I try to compare it with my performance as a warlock. It's just completely the opposite.

    On Patchwerk, I laid down a healthy 2800, which I think is pretty decent for my gear level. I also topped the damage done for the night, despite not being the highest DPS in the group, though I know many of the others weren't exactly playing their hearts out. It's still nice to know that I can put up competitive numbers with my dual wielding DPS in a raid environment. The number is pretty similar to what I was doing back when I was using a 2H weapon, and I really haven't made any gear upgrades since then (just shuffled things around with my new spec).

    We cleared the first wing (spider) with seven people, then picked up two more and did two more wings with nine. It was pretty fun to be undermanned and we had a lot of utility in the group. As is usual when I run Naxx with my DK, I was called upon to kite the adds for Gluth. I feel I have to reiterate how awesome my PvP/DPS spec is for this task. The chillblains with the howling blast really make it easy mode. It keeps frost fever up on all the zombies, keeping them in a nice, neat, slow moving group. It just works out perfectly and you don't get a ridiculous number of stacks even after three rounds (I was up to 45 last night, but I was a bit rusty as well, I've done it with around 20 at the end before when I had a hunter helping out with frost traps).

    Finally, I picked up the tier token for my legs and spent them on the tanking version. I also got two different DPS shoulder drops (one I'm going to gem/enchant for PvP, the other for DPS). Those drops freed up my tank shoulders so I could enchant and gem them properly. After all was said and done, I'd achieved the heroic defense cap at 535. Woot! I'm hoping this means I'll soon be able to not fail tank something. :-)

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    For The Alliance!

    8 comments
    Today the trend of photojournalism continues with two more pictures and small stories surrounding them. Forgive me if I'm not uber-clever today, as I'm feel pretty sick. I think I ate too many sunflower seeds at the JV football game last night which led to some sort of upper respiratory infection. Don't ask me how that can even happen, I just got like a sore upper throat immediately after the game. It's not like a yelling sore throat either, so IDK. Webmd.com here I come! (Cuz, why should I treat RL sickness any different than sickness in-game? I mean... "there's a forum for that").

    Anyways, as the title might foreshadow, I have a fun picture of the aftermath of a For the Alliance run.
    ZOMG, think of the scat!

    As you can see, the run was obviously a success. Afterward, what better to do that congregate in Dalaran and enjoy our new reward? This wasn't really a planned event. In fact, if I remember right we had failed to get enough people to run the intended raid, so we just said screw it let's PUG some people on this random Sunday afternoon and go for it. I'm pretty sure we didn't even have a full forty. It is random things like this that keep me coming back to WoW and MMO's in general. Eventually, the scenery of any game may wear on you, but a game with a good community will stay fresh just because of the interactions of its players.

    Take, for instance, picture two:
    Oh, hai Mr. Fountain O' Smoke!

    I was just sauntering out of the bank in Dalaran one day and... oh look, someone made a smoke fountain on the crazy floating sculpturing thing-a-ma-jig. It's the little things like these that make you smile. Or at least they make me smile. I mean, raid progression is all well and good. Hooray for lore. Yippee for achievements. They all make the game. However, things like this define the community. I think for many of us, it might be these small wonders that keep us playing. What are your favorite memories of "small wonders"?