Friday, July 29, 2011

Hair of the Dog

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The Ramkahen dawn is little more than subtle bloody tinge on the horizon before the sun blasts into the sky and begins baking the fields of sand.  One moment you may be shivering beneath the stars, and the next you're sweating in the furnace.  Fortunately for Harrison Jones, he is still inside of his club.

Even so, spears of light lance through the windows to fall in square patterns on the floor.  One such rectangle of light falls across the sleeping man's face where he'd left it on the table the night before.  A small pool of drool glistens, shimmering as air pulls in and pushes out.

Harrison's face scrunches up.  "Who turned on the lights?" he growls.

No one answers.  Sam left him at the table long ago.

Squinting, Harrison's bloodshot eyes take in the empty room.  He sits up and a hand immediately goes to his head.  He groans.  The room is still a mess from the night before.  Several empty bottles lay on the table in front of him.  Harrison picks them up and then totters over to the bar.  They make a loud clink  when he tosses them into the bin behind the counter.  Harrison winces.

He spends several hours tottering back and forth between tables and the bar, cleaning up.  It was work that should have been done last night, but he'd sent everyone home.  He had wanted to be alone, though it seemed that life cared little for his wants.

It was in the midst of cleaning that the doors to the club crack open.  A blast of hot air forces its way in, bathing Harrison with a wave of nausea.  He squints toward the light and recognizes Captain Renault only when the policeman closes the door.

"Getting a late start?" Renault asks as he crosses the room.

"What time is it?" Harrison wants to know.

Renault shrugs.  "Afternoon."  He removes his hat.

Harrison shakes his head.  "Had a rough night."

Harrison fills two drinks at the bar.  Renault takes a seat nearby, and then Harrison joins him.  He slides a drink in front of the policeman before sipping his own. 

"I'll say," Renault says.  He turns the glass but does not lift it.  "And it doesn't look like today is going to be much smoother."

Harrison cocks an eyebrow over his glass.

"Where are the papers, Harrison?" Renault asks.

Harrison slowly sets down his drink.  "What papers?"

"Do not play with me," Renault says sharply.  "We are friends, I think, and that is why I am here.  Strasser has uncovered that the Rogue gave them to a local before he was killed.  All signs point to you.  Now, I have been attempting to feed the Schnottzy disinformation, especially until I was able to approach you, but we both know there are only a handful of people that could move those papers."

"Where is the Major now?" Harrison asks.

Renault waves a hand, "Over at Rick's.  I figured the Blood Elf could keep him busy for a while."

Harrison chuckles, then immediately regrets the effort.  It seemed even laughing hurts.  He takes a sip to steady himself.

"Give me the papers, Harrison," Renault says.  "I can miraculously 'discover' them among the Rogue's things, and then Strasser will be back on a gryphon south.  Tonight.  Nothing need become... unpleasant."

"Are you in a position to buy them, then?" Harrison asks.

It was Renault's turn to chuckle.  "Don't be silly.  You should be paying me to take them off your hands."

"I'd love to, but I don't have them," Harrison replies.  "I'm sorry."

Renault frowns.  "This is a dangerous game, Harrison."

"Danger is my middle name," Harrison replies with a crooked smile.

"I thought it was Henry."

Harrison casts a sharp look at the Captain.  "Don't you have some police work to do?"

Renault shoves his hat back on his head.  "You are going to regret this decision."

"Put it on my tab."

The Captain walks out, his drink untouched.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Warlock Trinkets Explored

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I wanted to delve a bit deeper into what seems to be a popular issue around here: Warlock trinkets. It seems many of us are getting to the point where we've opened Firelands vendors from the dailies, and an assortment of new gear is offered to us.  For folks who have dabbled in raiding, the choices seem to be more side-grades than upgrades, complicating the decision.

For many piece of gear, you need only consult some simulations or gear lists and you can probably make a reasonably informed choice.  Trinkets, however, have been notoriously hard to quantify.  Even in an isolated sense, you have procs to try and calculate.  Procs that everyone may not use in the same situations or equally as often.  In the most complicated scenario, you have interactions of stats and procs with other stats, skills, and spells.

For instance, currently for Demo 'locks, the word on the street is that if you pop the Chalice before popping Meta, you will receive the benefit of the mastery stat bonus throughout your purple demon phase, even when the trinket timer runs out.  For as long as there have been Warlocks, there have been little idiosyncrasies like this.  Rolling Corruption was one of the big ones.  More recently (and perhaps "working as intended") we have the Shadow and Flame crit boost that seems to be taken into account at time of application, and not updated with each DoT tick.  Thus, many guides will suggest you lead off with a Shadow Bolt to be sure Corruption benefits (refreshing via Haunt does not cause a recalculation of Crit currently).

This is all very complicated and confusing, at least from where I'm sitting.  Those of you who read here regularly will know that I'm not a huge theorycrafter.  I dabble just enough to try to come up with a solid approach to playing my class.  I'm not a bleeding edge kind of guy, so I don't need to play perfect.  I do, however, desire to play well, and that requires a bit of research from time to time.

Back to the trinkets.  The current issue is whether or not to pick up and use the Moonwell Chalice.  I think many people, like me, have been able to pick up solid trinkets from previous content.  In my case, this means the Stump of Time and Soul Casket.  Neither are drops, so they're attainable "in the long run."  They're also both 359 ilevel and the Chalice is 365.  In my guides, I've advocated trusting Ask Mr Robot for direction as far as gearing is concerned (and don't really pay attention to ilevel).  So far, it has been a great tool.  For the effort/time I put into it, I get way more in return.  I could spend hours with a simulation tool trying to make gear lists and such, but Mr. Robot makes it easy.

The conundrum here comes when Mr. Robot lists the Chalice below the Stump of Time and Soul Casket.  Usually, I have a lot of faith in the gear listings there.  However, it's trinkets.  For all the reasons mentioned above, I realize that trinkets are one of the hardest slots to math out.  Ergo, a robot might not be the best choice to use in making the best choice.  Some Human Brain might need be applied.

Generally, what this means for me is that I'm going to give them each a run under practical circumstances in real raids.  See which seems to perform best.  It's not really scientific because there are a myriad of other variables that could be affecting me, but if I'm on the fence, it's a good way to make a personalized decision.  Also, quite frankly, they're probably so close that it really doesn't matter.  If I were really worked about a moderate DPS increase, I should probably work on being smoother with my rotation.

Still, I like to make good decisions.  I threw up a quickie post on Monday saying as how I wasn't planning to buy the Chalice.  I got several responses that may have changed my mind.  One of the most helpful included a link here.  If you follow, you'll see that it's a google shared document that contains a link to several shared spreadsheets.  These spreadsheets contain a rather complex and involved mathification of the current trinket offerings.  It even covers more than just the Warlocky angle.

The lead-in document explains how the author does all of these calculations.  It seems to be a good overall approach.  It also gives a much higher value to the Chalice.  It's food for thought for some of you more theorycraft inclined out there, and I wanted to share.  Credit goes to commenter Dl3mk3, who found the spreadsheet in a post by Faelkin on the Mr. Robot forums.  I'm not sure if Faelkin is the author, nor how to contact him... but if this is your work, feel free to contact me if you'd like additional credit (or if you don't like my posting it and want me to take it down).  I think it's good work and deserves recognition.  Also, it can be helpful if you're like me and agonizing (perhaps needlessly) over your trinket choice.

What the information tells me is that the Stump of Time is pretty darned good, and the Soul Casket not as much.  I'll plan to sub the Chalice in for the Soul Casket when I go through my next round of reforges and see what kicks out.  I'm pretty confident the Chalice will be a better choice in the long run, but even if I'm wrong... it is pretty much rated the same as the Soul Casket for me on Mr Robot, and the Chalice is a higher ilevel (meaning more overall "points" by design).  I doubt I'm sacrificing anything, and it may be better.  Seems like a win-win.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Short Commercial Break

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We'll get back to your regularly scheduled Warlock programming tomorrow, promise. I have plans to write a bit more about the Warlock trinket choices right now, because it hardly seems a cut-and-dry decision.  There have been some great comments on yesterday's post, and one very helpful link in particular that I plan to share and elucidate on.  If you can't wait, go check those comments out and feel free to leave on of your own.  It might get included in the post.

Today I'd like to do a little non-WoW self-promotion.  Those of you who enjoy my IC Friday posts may want to listen up.  I'm only going to do this once, because I don't really like to self-promote.  I feel somewhat guilty asking people to pay me money.  Yet, I definitely want to get the word out there because I think what I'm doing is something some of you may be interested in.  And I think it's certainly well worth what I'm asking for.

What am I talking about?  Well, I wrote a book.  I mentioned in passing before that I'd been working on it, and it's done.  Officially launched.

It's an urban fantasy.  It has vampires and shapeshifters, but I would hesitate to call it a Paranormal Romance (Which is a pretty popular genre right now.  Think Twilight) even though it has a love story.  I really tried to make it more of a fun adventure.  There are some WoW references.  And swordplay.  And none of it takes place in High School.  I don't think it's your standard fare (given what people may think when you say "vampire").  I'm really proud of the story.  I've been writing for a long time, but it represents my first attempt at selling my writing.  Fuu and I have worked together to make a beautiful book, and I think our efforts speak for themselves.  And we're only going to get better at it.

If you're at all interested, please give it a look.  Check out my author website/blog here.  The blurb is there, as well as links to the various vendors and info on what I'm working on.  You can get the ebook for $3.  For a full, 100k word novel (400 printed pages), that's a bargain.  But if the price makes you pause, most of the websites will let you download samples.  We tried to set all those to the maximum allowable amount.  You can read almost the entire first quarter of the novel for free, and if you don't like it... don't buy it.  But if you do, consider supporting me.  I love writing, and it's something I'd like to do instead of The Grind.  There is no greater high for me than sharing my stories with readers.  It really is my passion, and I'd do it regardless.  The cool thing about this whole ebook revolution (if you've noticed), is that right now I (and may other independent authors) have a possibility of making what was once a far-off pipe-dream into a reality.

I wanted to mention it here because I know I have some awesome readers, and I'm incredibly thankful for you all.  A lot of you have been hanging around here a long time, and I'd like to think at least some of that is due to the writing (rather than the awesome theorycrafting and news delivery service ;-p).  If that's the case, you should recognize the voice in the book, then.  It's me.  And I want to keep that voice through many more stories in the future.  I wanted to let you know that I'm out there too, doing some crazy stuff, and I would love your support.

I plan to keep my writing sphere and this place mostly separate.  You won't see a lot of cross-promotion from me.  In fact, after this, I'm going to get back to talking about Warlocks and WoW, like I said in the beginning.  If you read this and have any questions about my other little project... feel free to email me.

A side effect of all this, that is perhaps more immediate for you IC Friday folks... Fuu and I are working to try and get my IC posts rounded up and formatted into a novella or collection of short stories.  Then we'll try to release it on all of the digital platforms.  We're not sure about any legal issues, since all this is really fanfic, but we figure we can at least offer free downloads or something.  I know several people have emailed me wanting to know if they could perhaps get them on an ereader or whatever.  We're working on it.  We wanted to get the book out first, but it is high on our list now.  I'm going to try to clean some of the posts up a bit and tie them together.  Images are going to be a hurdle (we're not sure how to do that yet).  But we'll get it done, and if our debut release is any indication, it should be pretty. 

If you like this sort of thing, that is.  If you're just curious about trinkets, that's totally fine too.  Go check out those comments and I'll see you back here tomorrow.  Same warlocky time, same warlocky channel.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Moonwell Filled.

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I've faithfully done my dailies for several weeks now. I think Fuu and I can count the days we've missed on one hand. We've been good little worker bees.  Personally, I rather enjoy dailies and working toward something.  I'm sure I'll wear them out eventually, but I really don't mind how Blizz has presented this "grind."  I actually enjoy it a lot more than TB.  It always bugged me in TB that you get to the end goal, "exalted," but then you still have to grind a bunch of tokens to buy anything.  I appreciate this path a bit better, where you grind all your tokens on your way up the ladder, and then open a world of purchasable items for simple gold.  It feels more rewarding, and that counts for something.

Anyway, I've only opened the Moonwell so far.  There was some discussion in comments here last week about the Moonwell items.  I was a bit confused, as people alternated between mentioning the trinket and off hand.  I want to clarify: after filling the Moonwell, the new vendor will offer you items that include both a trinket AND an off hand.  One is the Moonwell Chalice trinket and the other is the Globe of Moonlight off hand.

This is all well and good, but the problem for me is that Mr. Robot indicates that my current gear selections - including the Soul Casket, Stump of Time, and Book of Binding Will - are better.  Thus, I did not buy anything (well, I did grab a Crimson Lasher and a Mushroom Chair).  I probably should have checked this out more beforehand, but oh well.  I'm don't think any of the other vendors hold any other possible upgrades for me.  Our resident Blacksmith is taking care of patterns... I'm in the queue.  So I guess it's not a loss or anything.

I did get to do the locket quest, which I give two thumbs up.  Good stuff.  If you get the glitch (like I did) where it says you don't meet the requirements for the quest when talking to that Druid dude, just click through his little spiel about Dire Maul and then you should be able pick up the quest.  The exclamation point doesn't always show up, but it was there for me.


Now, just a few more faithful days and I think I'll open the Armorer next, see what he has...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Revenge, Best Served Hot?

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Fulguralis snagged the tortoise, spun it in his hands, and dropped it toward the ground.  Just before it hit, his foot came up and smacked it, sending it rocketing away.  It whistled as it flew, air speeding through the holes where arms and a head had once extended.  The current occupant of the shell was tucked safely inside, likely enjoying the flight.

It didn't have far to go.  As quickly as the whistle reached Fulguralis's ears, the shell smashed into a nearby fire elemental.  There was a loud pop, and the angry batch of flames winked out, collapsing into glowing coals.  The shell spun on the ground for a few seconds.  When it had stopped, a tiny head and four appendages popped out.  The tortoise looked back at Fulguralis and grinned - at least that was how the Warlock interpreted the expression - before tottering off toward the cool water on the other side of the path.

The tortoise looked a bit drunk.  That's what getting revenge will do for you, Fulgurlis thought.  'Tis a heady draught.

"Will you quit punting the turtles into bad guys!" Fuubaar yelled.  "We don't get credit for that."

Fulguralis turned to regard his wife.  He watched as she freed a turtle from a pile of ashes and then daintily kicked it into the water.  It made a pleasant plink on her boot.  He reached down and rubbed the sore spot on the top of his cloth boot.

"That is not what Mylune wanted us to do," she continued.

The Warlock shrugged, "Just killing two birds with one shell."

"No, the birds were yesterday.  And you didn't help them either... just let them swarm unaided."

"They looked angry."

"And the bear cub?"

"To be fair, the hound was sleeping."

"We're supposed to be helping these animals, not getting them in hot water," Fuubaar said.

The Warlock watched as a nearby Mage blinked in to snatch a turtle that had crawled up behind his wife, running away with barely contained glee.  As he attempted his escape, however, Sparky ran up and bit him on the butt.  The Mage yelped and dropped the shell, blinking away quickly.

Fulguralis walked over, picked up the shell, and kicked it into the lake.  "Happy?" he asked.

Fuubaar frowned.  "You're lucky you're cute," she said.

Fulguralis grinned.

Behind him the glowing coals roared back to life.  The Warlock turned and glowered.  The fire plane is so unruly these days, sending all these felling constructs into Azeroth.  

He was just about to fling a few spells at the thing when an acorn struck it in the head.  There was a pop and it collapsed back down.  Fulguralis retraced the path of the nut to a nearby tree.  He saw a squirrel there.  It was chattering excitedly while hefting another acorn in its little hand.  It tossed it once in the air as if to test its weight, and then caught it again.  The beady eyes on the animal met those of the Warlock.  Fulguralis swore he saw it salute, then hop away.  The Warlock couldn't help but shake the feeling that he'd achieved something.

"See?"  He turned to his wife.  "Even nature appreciates revenge."

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Not Immediately Related to WoW

10 comments
Here's a look at my company approved problem solving process:
  1. Ask if anyone knows anything.
  2. Google it.
  3. Google it with a slightly different word order.
  4. ???
  5. Solve Problem, but do not profit.
Immediately after solving the problem, I rush off to share it with co-workers who will find said solution helpful.  Inevitably, one of them informs me that the one person who actually "knows something" about whatever it was I was doing will be showing up in ten minutes for a consult.  Thus, I've just basically re-invented the wheel.  Never mind that when I asked if anyone knew anything, everyone said "no" and no one thought to mention it THEN.  I suppose I should be more specific in my inquiry process: "Do you know anything about subject A, or know of anyone who does that will be here in the foreseeable future?"

The world is full of ineptitude.  Much like how I felt punting turtles last night when it seemed like every other toon there was personally following me around, waiting for me to engage the fire elemental, and then SNAKING MY FELLING TURTLE.

There is a fiery retribution in your future.  I may or may not follow you around for the next half hour purely out of creepy, ineffective spite.

Seriously, I see your flaming bird and raise you a middle finger matriarch.  Platform this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Progress Or Not To Progress

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According to WoW Insider, Blizzard has announced that they will be reinstating Valor Point rewards for downing "old" bosses.  That is to say, bosses of the previous tier of raiding.  This will be to the tune of 35 VP/boss on 10-mans and 35VP/boss on 25-mans.  This is big news.

Personally, I'm all for the change.  Why not?  A large amount of QQ has been directed toward "trollroics," and I think this provides a slick answer.  Is it perfect?  No.  Haters gon' hate.  But it is a pretty solid idea.

Raiders were complaining that you simply could not earn enough VP through raiding.  It was perhaps a valid complaint.  If raiding is what you want to do, why should you be forced into an ancillary activity in order to cap your points.  Still, as some have mentioned, it's sort of a choice that goes with the territory.

This change should help alleviate some of that concern.  Now you can go back and raid the old stuff for gain.  I think it simply makes sense.  If the trollroics give VP, why not old raids.  And I think the point level is tweaked accordingly.  It's not a "get geared fast" scheme, but provides some raiding benefit to, you know, raiding.

The question, now, for guilds in my situation is this.  We've not cleared all of the previous tier's raid content.  We're working on Nef right now and have a couple more bosses in the other instance... maybe 4 left all told.  We should be able to steamroll them after we get Nef down, and were just sticking in one instance for simplicity sake.  The question becomes: should we continue and down all of the bosses, maybe even farm a bit on old content, before starting Firelands? 

There are many ways to answer this question.  Before the VP change, it was a little simpler.  It was far better to make trash runs and beat our heads against early bosses.  If we down one, we get VP.  Work on trollroics on off nights for gear.  Why spend time in the old raids?  Sure we may net a few of the hard-to-get drops that have eluded us, but is that really the best use of a cramped schedule?

Now, the VP throws a new dimension into the argument.  Not only can we go back and get to see that content, but we can also collect VP for our time.  It's raiding practice and VP rewards and the chance at elusive drops.  I know some of us are still sporting the odd blue, and it feels wrong to me to go into Firelands less than epic'ed out.

It's a question we're still discussing as a raid group.  We want to see the new stuff, but don't want to beat our head against a wall when we've got other, easier content that still needs cleared.  How to balance gearing with progression on such a limited time budget?  How to not burn out on trollroics?  I wonder, what are your raid groups doing.  Does the VP announcement change any of your plans?

Monday, July 18, 2011

It's a Love Story.

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T'was two years ago to the day when this doth happened.  And they said a Paladin and a Warlock could never make it work.  Now, I've got to go find something cotton to get her.  Think she'll take a burnt sheep?

Seems like only yesterday...

Friday, July 15, 2011

When Two Lovers Woo

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Two empty bottles grace the table between the two men sitting in silence.  Sam does not want to leave his boss alone, but is not sure he can take a third.  The papers Harrison brought out from the back room have been cleared away.  One had very obviously been the letter from Decedereful.  The others, Sam was not so sure of.  He suspects they are scrolls of transit, useful in getting people out of Ramkahen.  How his employer and friend came into possession of such papers is a mystery.  Surely he had not killed the Schnottz's officers.  That was not Harrison's style.

"Harrison, I have to talk to you."

The voice is soft and feminine, slightly tinny.  It comes from behind them.  Sam turns to regard Decedereful with bleary eyes.  She is still wearing the clingy dress that she'd had on earlier.  Much earlier.  Without speaking, the pianist vacates his seat and moves a short, respectful distance away.  He tries not to listen, but there is no longer any noise in the club to obscure the conversation.

"Uh-huh.  I shaved my firsht drink to have with you.  Here... hic!"  Harrison slides the bottle across the table.

Decedereful frowns at it, but sits.  "No.  No, Harrison, not tonight."

"Eshpecially tonight."

"Please..." Decedereful begs.

Harrison retrieves the bottle and takes a healthy swing.  "Why did you have to come to Ramkahen?  There are other zonesh."

"I wouldn't have come if I'd know that you were here.  Believe me, Harrison.  It's true that I didn't know..." she replies.

"It'sh funny about your voice, how it hashn't changed.  I can shtill hear it.  'Harrishon, dear, I'll go with you anyplace.  We're get on a train together and never stop... hic!'"

"Don't, Harrison!  I can understand how you feel."  She raises a hand as if the gesture can halt the oncoming train.

Harrison snorts.  "You undershtand how I feel?  How long wash it we had, honey?"

"I didn't count the days."

The bottle hits the table hard.  "Well, I did.  Every one of 'em.  Moshtly I remember the lasht one.  The wild finish.  A guy shtanding on a shand dune with a comical look on hish face because hish inshides have been kicked out."

Decedereful's are cast down.  "Can I tell you a story, Harrison?"

"Hash it got a wild finish?"  He takes another drink.

"I don't know the finish yet."

Harrison waves a hand.  "Well, go on.  Tell it - maybe one will come to you ash you go along... hic!"

She raises her eyes.  "It's about a girl who had just found her place in life.  She traveled out to the Lost City on a quest and met a man about whom she'd heard her whole life.  A very great and courageous man.  He opened up for her a whole beautiful world full of knowledge and discovery and history.  Everything she knew or ever became was influenced by him.  And she looked up to him and worshiped him... with a feeling she supposed was love."

Harrison frowned down at the half empty bottle.  "Yesh, it'sh very pretty.  I heard a shtory once.  As a matter of fact, I've hear a lot of shtoriesh in my time.  They went along with the shound of a tinny piano playing in the parlor downshtairsh.  'Mishter, I met a man once when I wash a kid," it alwaysh began."  He laughs bitterly.

Decedereful stares back sadly.  She seems on the verge of tears... if Death Knights can produce tears.  Sam can't say that he knows the answer to that.

"Well, I guessh neither one of our shtories ish very funny."  Harrison takes another swig.  "Tell me, who wash it you left me for?  Wash it Valentish, or were there othersh in between or... aren't you the kind that tellsh?"

Without another word, Decedereful stands and walks out.  Harrison's head bumps softly against the table, one hand gripping the bottle before him, the other at his eyes.  After a while, Sam isn't entirely sure if his friend is still conscious.

"Of all the gin jointsh, in all the townsh, in all the world, she walksh into mine," Harrison says finally.  He raises his head to look over at Sam.  "You know what I want to hear."

"No, I don't."  It is a lie.

"You played it for her, you can play it for me."

Sam shakes his head.  "Well, I don't think I can remember..."

"If she can shtand it, I can... hic!  Play it!"

Sam opens the piano and sadly begins to pluck out the tune.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Path of the Aff'lock

10 comments
In completing my dailies last night, I noticed I had eclipsed 150 marks for the first time. It was a momentous occasion, to be sure, and I celebrated accordingly with a super-enthusiastic: "What happens now?"

"Well, what path are you taking?" My ever-informed wife asked.

"There are paths?"  Yes, I'm with it.  "Ooooh, you mean which NPC am I going to unlock.  Got it..."

"..."

"..."

"Right, I have no idea."

Which sent me on a journey of research.  Quickly, I realized that the NPC I unlock at this point doesn't really matter.  Most guides seem to suggest the Shadow Wardens, due to faster questing, so I went with them.  Now, I have to get 150 more to open the other guys.  Happy, happy, joy, joy.

I have, however, decided upon my final destination.  When I get to the point where I choose my first NPC that actually sells stuff, I'm going with the "Moonwell" option.  Theoretically this should open some tailoring recipes for me (I'm a tailor), and there's a nice trinket we can use.

There are things to get from the other vendors, for sure, and your mileage may vary as far as usefulness of the purchased items goes.  I'll probably throw down on an armorer second, and then call the ancients last.  On my engineer DK, I'm totally going armorer first.  Otherwise, I guess we'll just see what we see.  From what I've been able to read ahead of time, I think this path makes the most sense.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Subscribing To More Than The Game

7 comments
I saw this the other day on MMO Melting Pot. I thought it was a pretty interesting discussion going on.  It doesn't really apply to me or the guild I'm in, but interesting all the same.  As I struggled to relate, I pondered on why it just didn't seem like an issue to me.

A little background for anyone new around here.  My guild is pretty special.  Also "special," but that's a different post.  We are a small group of friends that raid once a week, for two hours.  That's it.  We only have about 12 people in guild, so pretty much everyone raids. 

We're very casual, but raid time is important to us.  It is something we schedule around.  We ask people to take the time commitment seriously, and no one has a problem with that.  RL comes first, but so does courtesy to your friends (just like in RL, if you want to keep said friends).  It works well because we're all on the same page.  We may have different playstyles and likes, but what it all comes back to is that we appreciate what we've got going.  We're all in the same boat, and we row together, even if our oars are made of different kinds of wood.

As such, you may understand why it was difficult for me to sympathize with the discussion linked above.  Obviously, we don't force people to grind or cap on valor points or anything like that.  Everyone is responsible for working on their own gear, and they take pride in that.  No one wants to be the guy holding us back.  No one wants to be dead weight.  We help each other out, and we try to get guild groups into heroics as much as possible during the week.  Not only does it help with gearing, but it helps with leveling our yet-to-be-maxed guild (we're sitting at level 15).

That being said, I really appreciated the viewpoint of Windsoar at Jaded Alt.  In particular, I like how she says that she "refuses to subscribe" to the notion of being forced to cap VP.  I thought that was a very apt way to put it.

When we subscribe to WoW, we're subscribing to more than just pixels.  It's almost as if you're subscribing to a way of life.  Maybe even a religion.  And, like a religion, we have many different sects that espouse different notions of what is "right" and "wrong."  There a myriad of different biblical interpretations when it comes to WoW.  What Windsoar is talking about, then, is supporting religious freedom.  If each guild represents its own "nation," then we're discussing the virtues of having a state mandated religion.  Namely, forcing a particular playstyle, a certain subscription, upon  your guild members. 

Maybe tolerance is what we need here.  It doesn't always work so easily, though.  History has proven that, often, if you give a man an inch he'll take a mile.  Yet, we should probably still strive to strike a balance.

And the rules changed based on you guild.  Maybe you're a superpower, charged with policing the world.  Or maybe you're like us and just a small city-state.  I can see where a gigantic nation with aspirations of leading the way (hardcore raiders) might require a more structured form of worship.  For us, it is simply not needed.

Like Windsoar says, we're just simply not at the point where that one minor upgrade really makes all that much of a difference.  No, far more important to us are things like morale and energy and attention.  We need sharp, smart raiders, not mindless drones.  I would sacrifice a piece of a gear for a firmer understanding of the fight any day of the week and twice on Sundays.  We need to understand the basic tenants of our religion before we graduate to the existential nuances. 

To me, it just doesn't make sense to expend all this time and effort on gearing if you aren't going to spend equal amounts on strategy, learning, and teaching.  (A lot of hardcore guilds do just that).  For every hour you spend killing trolls, I argue that you might benefit from spending an hour reading strats or watching videos.  If you're not doing that, then you're not enjoying the benefits of a full subscription.  You're just showing up on Sundays, you don't really believe.  Maxing gear is the easiest measurable goal.  After all, how do you know if someone "studied enough?"  Still, it is only one small piece of the puzzle here.  Gear does not solve every problem.

At the end of the day, I'm not trying to make a case here that one type of play is better than another.  Religion is a personal choice, one you must own.  We must find our own paths.  I'm simply cautioning that before you drink the cool-aid, before you subscribe to a certain playstyle, you should probably be sure of what's in it.  Everything that's in it.  Sure, mostly it may be sugar and water, but it only takes one small ingredient to kill you.  Is it worth drinking poison to be a "member?"

Monday, July 11, 2011

What Happened to Demo?

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This may be a knee-jerk reaction from me, but I thought it a good place to perhaps start some conversation.  I've not had much of a chance to make use of my Demonology off-spec since Cataclysm dropped, and only recently have I begun running with it more regularly.  I used to use it all of the time for dailies, and now that dailies have become a, well, daily occurrence again, it makes sense to revive my favorite solo-spec.

That being said, I have some initial misgivings.  I've been wracking my brain all morning, trying to wedge my thoughts into something that vaguely resembles a well-formed thought.  However, I cannot.  There is no single idea or collection of ideas that I can point to and say: "Here, this is what is bothering me."

Yet, bothered I am.  Demo feels clunky.  In the past, one of the draws was the simplicity with which you could do moderate DPS.  That is to say, where my Affliction spec failed was with short-lived things.  The kind of things you might find while doing dailies.  Demo shined in these cases.  It combined good up-front damage with survivability to make knocking out repeatable quests enjoyable.  I felt powerful as Demo where I felt weak as Affliction.

Somewhere along the line, I feel like that's changed.  I feel like Demo was pushed a little too far into Affliction territory.  But I can't really put my finger on why.

Perhaps it is the rotation.  Before I would fire off a curse, an Immolate, and then some bolts.  It wasn't a "raid" rotation, but it was great for short lived things.  Now, I have a bane and a curse, plus Immolate, and bolting just doesn't feel as powerful as it once was.  I'm not sure why.  I don't recall any specific nerfs to Demo bolts.  Also, the addition of a bane means one more thing to try to throw up.  Daily trash just doesn't live that long when you're raid geared.

Perhaps it is the demon.  For a while, Demo locks were supposed to use the felling Succubus.  I believe now we've been pushed back to the Felguard, but the big guy just doesn't feel as potent as he once was.  Maybe it's all perception.  I mean, the numbers back him, right?  Maybe it's just the fact that that skinny skank is so close in DPS.  Also, he seems to die a lot more easily.  I miss the old school Chuck Norris Felguard.   

Perhaps it's just me.  It's been a while and I'm not as fluid with the buttons.  My fingers are trained for Affliction, and Demo is just different enough for me to feel like a fish out of water.  Before, the two specs played so dissimilar that I just kept it simple and fun.  Now, they've added enough complexity to Demo that I feel like I'm doing it wrong.  Maybe given time and practice, I'll feel better.  After all, popping into epic purple form is still fun as fel.

Still, I just can't shake the feeling that the spec has fundamentally changed for me.  This isn't to say it's "for the worse."  It may very well be better.  I guess I just feel like it's not as easy to flip-flop and feel badass.  I wonder what some of you other Warlocks have to say...

Friday, July 8, 2011

A More Pressing Engagement

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"Hello, Harrison," Decedereful says shyly.  Behind her, Sam the pianist starts up with a different, more lively tune.  The patrons that were staring turn away, and the hum of conversation starts up again, lending baseline to the melody.

"Hello, Dece," Harrison responds.

"It has been... too long," Decedereful says.

Harrison simply nods, wavering a bit like a man who's just been shot through the heart.  He gallantly tries to hide his discomfort with a smile, but the pain is there.  He turns and leads Decedereful to the bar.  There, he pours each of them a fresh drink.  The two share another long stare.  Eventually, Decedereful lids her eyes and looks down at the counter.

"I wasn't sure you were the same," she admits.  "Let's see, the last time we met..."

"Was in the Lost City," Harrison finishes. 

"How nice, you remembered.  But of course, that was the day the Schnottzies marched into Uldum."

"Not an easy day to forget," Harrison says.

"No," Decedereful agrees.

"I remember every detail," Harrison continues.  "The Schnottzies wore tan, you wore blue."

Another long stare follows.  Once again, Decedereful breaks the moment.  She sips at her drink and smiles, but the smile is directed over Harrison's shoulder.  He turns.

"I see you have met my bride-to-be, Decedereful," Valentis says.

Harrison chokes on his drink as Dece goes over to put her arms around her man.  Valentis kisses her lightly on the check and the couple turns to face the owner of the club.  Harrison, having regained his composure, raises his glass.

"How nice for both of you," he says.

"Would you believe that there was a time," Valentis says, "when the war had separated us, and she thought I was dead?"

"I had given up," Dece admits.  "I was on the verge of leaving him behind."  She casts a significant look at Harrison.

"But fate brought us back together."  Valentis smiles at his beloved.

"Charming," Harrison says.  He then turns and begins rearranging things on the bar.

"Mr. Jones, it has been a pleasure," Valentis says, clapping the man on the back.  "I fear we must take our leave tonight, though.  I shall be in touch with you.  I am still expecting a message.  Please let me know if you hear anything."

"Of course," Harrison says distractedly.  "Good night to you both." 

He pointedly does not meet Decedereful's eyes.  She frowns, but allows herself to be led away.  At the door, she casts a brief glance over her shoulder.  Harrison is behind the bar, but his eyes are on her.  The pain in them is plain and raw.  She leaves.

It is hours before the club finally clears out.  Harrison exits from the back room and walks over to a table near the piano with several papers in his hand.  He spreads them out on the table and stares at them.  After a moment, he rises and walks over to the bar.  He sets out a glass and pulls out a bottle.  Hovering above the glass, he eyes the bottle.  Then, he puts the glass away, unused, and returns to the table, bottle in hand.  He takes a deep swig as he unfolds the most worn of the papers. 

He reads:
Harrison, I cannot go with you or ever see you again.  You must not ask why, just believe that I love you.  Go, my darling, and Light bless you.  Decedereful.

He takes another swig, and looks at the papers the Rogue had given him to hold onto.  He supposed they were his now.  Along with all the trouble they entail.

"Boss, ain't you going to bed?"

Sam sidles up with a glass in hand.  He has just finished cleaning up his area, and is apparently ready to leave.  Sensing his friend's mood, he sits across from Harrison at the table.

"Not right now," Harrison replies.

After a long moment and several more swigs, Sam asks, "Ain't you planning on going to bed in the near future?"

"No."  Harrison is still staring between the papers.

"You ever going to bed?"

"No!"

Sam takes a drink.  "Well, I ain't sleepy either."

Thursday, July 7, 2011

All CC Not Created Equal

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This is a Warlocky Service Announcement, brought to you by the Warlock Coven for Dangerous and Impaired Spellcasting.  Take heed if you wish or do not wish to wipe your group.  Apparently, all CC is not created equal.

Fear still pulls aggro.

I thought they were changing it to where CC doesn't pull aggro.  You can hex.  You can sheep.  You can sap.  You can do all those other things and the mobs just ignore you.  But fear... yep, fear is still "working as intended" within the aggro paradigm.

I didn't try banish yet.  Has anyone else?

We got enough folks together last night to do a hod-podge trash/rep run in the Firelands.  If you haven't been there yet, know that there are a few places where you will need CC.  For the most part, it is when you have a pair of fiery Naga healers following a trio of melee-ers.  It's obvious: CC the healers, burn the others.  To execute this you need two CC'ers. 

Wait, Warlocks can CC.  Yeah, we have that fear thingy with the glyph.  Good stuff.  Standard issue by now, right?

On our particular run, we had a Shaman for the hex, and then a possible Rogue sap.  Tank tells us to go ahead and lay the CC and then we'll pull... you know, taking advantage of the friendly change. 

/whoosh (froggy-style)

"Crap, I missed the sap and they're patting away, can anyone help?"

That's where I should have kept my big warlocky maw shut.  Help, you say?  Warlock, reply-eth I.  Helping is un-warlockery.  It's bad enough they make us use a buff on someone now.  And a b-rez.  And don't get me started on cookies.

"No prob, I'll fear it."

WHY ARE THEY ALL COMING AT ME?!

/splat.

"..."

"I thought CC wasn't supposed to pull aggro now."

Apparently, I thought wrong. 

Now, I don't think it said anywhere specifically that fear would benefit from the Azerothian/Planar Being Non-Aggression Pact (APBNAP) made with the mobs.  Am I the only one who just, you know, assumed?  Is this an oversight, or should fear still pull aggro?  I guess it just seems dumb to me to work hard to "validate" our CC with a glyph and then go and ruin it two patches later. 

On the upside, I have a great excuse not to be "helpful" anymore.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Return of the Random

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How was your holiday? Mine was great, thanks for asking. No, really. We ate a ton, drove a ton, partied a ton, and played absolutely no WoW.  Well, maybe a little when we got home.  Great, you say?  Definitely.  It was Fuu's birthday yesterday!  We had ice cream cake, and, of course, everyone else celebrated with us by setting off all those fireworks.  (I'll never understand why she gets fireworks on her birthday and I don't on mine in January).

Long story, short: Now I'm exhausted.

Coming back to work and RL after a long weekend never seems as restful as you'd think.  However, until we start spawning, we're expected to make the trip to everyone else's parties.  Such is the way of things.

Fuu and I have gotten our toons through the first stage of dailies and are steadily working toward our first 150 marks.  So far, so good.  The dailies seem well designed, IMO.  Also, I like that there are some inside and outside of the firelands portal.  Usually with dailies, you're always in one locale.  A change of scenery is nice.  Also, I like anything involving Mylune.  Seriously, I need to applaud the writer.  Her quest text is entirely too perfect and hilarious.  My poor Warlock hates every single quest she has him do.  Except punting turtles.  He's all right with that.

The addition of a random NPC from lore for one of the quests is a great touch too.  It's the one where you take your posse to go kill some invaders on the side of a mountain in Hyjal.  If case you haven't noticed already, check out the folks that pop in when you get in the area.  You have a few generic "Hyjal Protectors," but then you generally have one "all star."  I got Chromie last night.  The fact that she yells "You just got Chromie'd" and then makes time jokes is awesome.  Her flight form is also a whelpling.  Half of the fun is seeing how the NPC's fly.  The Archmage has a broom, of course. 

The nerf to Soul Swap isn't as bad as I'd feared.  It is annoying, but only mildly.  I'm sure it's hurting my DPS on short lived stuff, but we haven't really raided yet so I can't speak to how bad it makes me feel.  We did do a quick heroic, and my DPS appeared higher, but I think that's simply due to the two epic upgrades you get from doing the Hyjal/Thrall stuff (cape and neck for 'locks I believe).

I've been PvP'ing a bit on my DK too, now that I have more gear to buy.  I picked up the epic chest piece first, and will just upgrade each of the pieces one by one.  I completed the Hyjal stuff on her too, and am using the epics in PvP.  Those will be the last pieces I replace. 

The nerf to Hungering Cold is hugely annoying in PvP.  I have a half a mind to move the damned spell off my bar.  Where once it was highly useful, now it's just cumbersome at best.  I was still able to make use of it on occasion, but it takes a lot more forethought.  Before it had always been something I tried to do just before I died as an annoyance.  Oh well, it was always just a utility spell anyway.

All in all, I'm enjoying the patch.  I think they've shown some smart choices and I don't have too much to complain about... at least in my random first week. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Meanwhile, Across Azeroth...

2 comments
"Did you hear about that nice little Orc that used to live down the street from us? He's getting married!"
"Oh yeah, to who... or should I say what?"
"You're so bad."

"I heard she was pregnant."
"Well, they say you can take the girl out of the Outlands, but you can't take the Outlands out of the girl."

"He got her a huge rock!  I mean have you seen the thing?"
"Yeah, what is it? Sandstone?"

"That's how them Orcs do it.  Runnin' around, splittin' themselves up, and all that.  It'll never last."

"Why couldn't he have found a nice, Light-fearing girl?"

"I heard Jaina was devastated.  Cried for days."
"Those were tears of joy."
"Never can tell with that one."

"Durotan is rolling is his grave."
"So is Taretha."
"Hey guys, that's low."
"I know, they're in graves."

"I heard he was born in a cage."
"She could do so much better."
"Yeah, like a free-range Tauren."
"Or a Belf.  They're so hawt."
"We are aren't we?"
"Like, totally."

"You know she's just in it for the power and glory."
"A total gold-digger for sure."
"But I thought he was poor now.  And just a simple Shaman."
"Psch.  No way.  Dude's crafty.  That's only what he wants her to think."

"Dear Aggra, watch out for the 'til death do us part, part.  It's not as contractually binding as you might think.  Get a prenup.  Hearts and moons, Sylvanas."

"I guess the mother-in-law wasn't too happy."

"Have you sheen her shister?"
"You mean Pip... Pyp... the Maid of Honorish?"
"Total babe... hic!"

"Hello, you've reached Aggra.  I can't come to the phone right now, likely because I'm dealing with some sort of elemental emergency and/or saving Thrall's cute butt.  Just leave a message after the tone and I'll listen to it in spirit.  No really, I can do that.  BEEP-"
"Hey Aggra, it's Moira.  Bronzebeard... well, Thaurissan now, o'course.  Heard the good news an' wanted ta give ya a call.  I mean, my wedding was SO PERFECT an' I jus' thought I could give ya some tips.  First, have a kid quick.  Trust me!  Then, pray fer a freak mining accident.  You got the rock, now get the throne!  If he likes it he shoulda put a throne on it.  Amirite? Also, try ta start a civil war.  Men fighting o'er you is SO CUTE.  When's the bachelorette party?!  Call me, bia, we need to chat."

"I heard she's getting a tusk-job for the wedding."
"Yo, mon.  Where you be gettin' one o' dose?"

"She's just so... black!"
"I know, Becky.  And he's green, get over it."
"Hey, King Varian!  Did you hear about Thrall and Aggra?"
"Kill 'em."

"Hey, Warchief!  Did you hear about Thrall and Aggra?"
"Kill 'em."

"So when are Jaina and Arthas gettin' hitched?"
"..."
"Too soon?"