Thursday, October 29, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: Mathias Shaw

Now for our final installment of what is really a three part piece in Know Your Rogue Lore. Mathias Shaw, the man who heads BOTH the Stormwind Assassins AND SI:7 an impressive feat for such a young man. So who exactly IS he and how did he come to hold such a powerful position?

Mathias' mother was a First Finger assassin who was killed while fulfilling an assignment when Mathias was only four years old. Of his father nothing is known but it is assumed he was either already dead or out of the picture before this time. As a result it was at this tender age Mathias fell to the care of his Grandparents Pathonia Shaw and her long time lover Waltion Freemore. As the founder of the Assassins Guild Pathonia did not think it right to hide from Mathias the truth about his mother's death nor the family business.

Mathias became the youngest member of the guild when he achieved Fourth Finger status at the age of 10 slowly working his way up through the ranks based upon his OWN achievements rather than nepotism. This is to his advantage as it gives him a greater understanding of each of the levels in the Assassins' organization as well as what is needed in new recruits. From Pathonia Mathias learned everything there was to know about assassination, thievery, stealth and the PHYSICAL side of his job being constantly tested by her as he grew up on his speed and dexterity. Freemore on the other hand taught him about the inner workings of court politics, reading people and using his MIND to best utilize the resources he had available to him. It was through Freemore that Mathias developed his friendship with Edwin VanCleef while learning about the nobles and wealthier residents of Stormwind. All these factors resulted in his first kill being the very individual who had ended his mother's life proving beyond a doubt his abilities to all.

Pathonia waited until Mathias' 30th birthday then retired, choosing to have a clean transition in leadership from her to Mathias. Freemore agreed to stay on for an additional five years handling the new recruits and smoothing any unforeseen bumps that might come up along the way. Mathias at first attempted to put his own stamp on the organization but after a few months gave it up deciding his Grandmother's vision was just to good to tamper with. His turn however was coming.

Three years after his assumption of control of the Stormwind Assassins King Varian disappeared while on his way to a diplomatic conference in Theramore. After Anduin was crowned king during the ensuing confusion he secretly met with Shaw and requested that he create an organization that would serve not just the human nations but ALL the Alliance by gathering information and preforming covert operations. The first goal of course being to discover what had become of the King of Stormwind but in addition to that to look into corruption within the Stormwind House of Nobles.

Shaw was elated with the commission. Here was a chance for him to take all of his talents and utilize them from the ground up.  Within just months Shaw had a functioning organization called SI:7 which has expended to cover all of the Alliance controlled lands and even reach into some Horde areas as well. Players are even able to participate in SI:7's mission on several occasions through out the game via Shaw as well, both at lower levels (30's) and then again in at the Higher end (60's).

To say that Shaw has a problem with being a workaholic would be an understatement. His life IS his work and he has no time for anything else at this point. You will find him no other place than at SI:7 Headquarters located in Old Town of Stormwind. He never leaves as he might miss some vital piece of information. It will be interesting to see if they have any further plans for him in the coming turmoil that will be the Cataclysm.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Heirlooms: The ultimate hand-me-down

Everyone at SOME point in their life has experienced it. The hand-me-down. That "pre-used" item that some one has passed along because they just KNEW you could use it. Some of these items you just thank the giver and then immediately toss into the recycling bin, Goodwill box or bottom of a drawer never to be seen again. But when they precursor it with "this is an HEIRLOOM" things get tricky.

An "Heirloom" means that the item usually has SOME sort of value, usually monetary, almost always sentimental and a HUGE lode of significance attached to it. It also means that if you get RID of it you will most CERTAINLY be in the dog house. Blizzard has gotten into the act with their "Heirloom gear" pieces that your HIGHER level characters can bestow upon your LOWER level ones. There are even rumors that in the not so distant future your characters from one faction will be able to share them with the opposing one as well.

Like all good heirlooms some are more desirable than others depending on what you wish to use them for and they may not all suit your taste and style. There are pieces for PvE and pieces designed for PvP. There are some which will allow you to gain more experience while you level and others which just make the experience easier over all. So how do you get them? What pieces are out there? Most importantly of all, how should you prioritize your purchases of them?

Heirloom items are purchased in basically one of two ways: via Emblems or Champion seals for PvE or using Stone Keeper Shards for PvP. The Emblem vendors are located in Dalaran, there are 3, one for each faction and then one neutral one. The Champion seal vendor is located at the Argent Tournament but you can only gain access to her if you are a Crusader. The PvP items can only be purchased when your faction controls the Keep in Wintergrasp. The differences in the two sets of gear are the stats on the items. The PvP items include the stat Resilience which is highly prized for Pvp but is not really helpful for PvE and PvE items ignore this stat for others.

Armor Items:


Aged Pauldrons of the Five Thunders
Exceptional Stormshroud Shoulders
Exquisite Sunderseer Mantle
Lasting Feralheart Spaulders
Pristine Lightforge Spaulders
Prized Beastmaster's Mantle
Strengthened Stockade Pauldrons

Champion Herod's Shoulder
Champion's Deathdealer Breastplate
Mystical Pauldrons of Elements
Mystical Vest of Elements
Polished Breastplate of Valor
Polished Spaulders of Valor
Preened Ironfeather Breastplate
Preened Ironfeather Shoulders
Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders
Stained Shadowcraft Tunic
Tattered Dreadmist Mantle
Tattered Dreadmist Robe


Battleworn Thrash Blade
Staff of Jordan
Reforged Truesilver Champion
Sharpened Scarlet Kris
The Blessed Hammer of Grace
Upgraded Dwarven Hand Cannon

Balanced Heartseeker
Bloodied Arcanite Reaper
Charmed Ancient Bone Bow
Devout Aurastone Hammer
Dignified Headmaster's Charge
Repurposed Lsva Dredger
Venerable Dal'Rend's Sacred Charge
Venerable Mass of McGowan

Inherited Insignia of the Alliance (Alliance only)
Inherited Insignia of the Horde (Horde only)
Wintergrasp Commendation

Discerning Eye of the Beast
Swift Hand of Justice
Tome of Cold Weather Flight (Requires lvl 68 one use only)

These are all the things we have access to at the moment but we know that even MORE are coming. Including but not limited to a Ring which will have a 5% experience buff on it and enchants for shoulders and chest pieces which will FURTHER increase the experience gain.

So which of these pieces should you get FIRST? That really all depends on you and what you wish to accomplish with your alts. Most will tell you if you are LEVELING an alt go with a set of shoulders first followed by a chest piece. These two pieces will give you the most bang for your buck in the quick leveling department with their STACKING experience buffs. Yep, that's right those buffs STACK so get those two pieces and you gain an additional 20% experience for EVERY quest and kill that you do. Personally I say look at your alts and determine what your long term goals for them are. If you have three plate wearers you want to level go ahead and get the Plate gear but if you have NO IDEA you may want to look at the cloth which will work for ANY character. Purchase pieces that will MOST benefit the majority of  your alts and go from there OR the character you MOST what to focus on.

One thing to keep in mind is that just like with REAL Heirlooms the quality on these items very seldom can be beat. While you may not care to see your Death knight harbinger of doom running around in bright shiny Silver and Gold plate that they got from their goody two shoes older sibling just remember eventually they will be able to pass it along and clad themselves in as many blacken spikes as you could wish. Even quicker than you would have managed before.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rep: The Mag'har

The intention was to cover this faction LAST week, however my computer decided to take a holiday so here we are. Some of you may have wondered why I didn't included The Mag'har the Horde only faction when I discussed their neighbors the Kurenai. The reason is quite simply their Lore. Even if their reputations are gained in VERY similar ways it just didn't seem right to over look their rich lore histories.

The "mag'har" in orcish means "uncorrupted ones". Which is ironic as this faction was created prior to the introduction of fel magic to the orcs due to a plague that was effecting them called the "red pox". The Frostwolf clan had established a quarantine village headed by Grandmother Geyah as a way to treat and contain the disease. As this Plague was both considered a weakness and more powerful than the average shaman could handle many of the other clans sent their sick to this village rather than deal with them themselves. This is why such notables as Gorrosh Hellscream, Jorin Deadeye and Saurgang the Younger are also located here.

As the rest of the orcs fell prey to Magtheridon and became corrupted by their close contact with those who used fel magic the Mag'har retained their original coloration and communion with the spirits. Even when Draenor was torn apart around them their area was basically untouched by the demons their brothers had unwittingly invited to invade as the Naaru worked to protect not just the Draenei but these Orc's as well. Interestingly while many of the other Orc spiritual leaders denied the Naaru's existence these orcs not only are aware of them but working with them.

Horde players will first encounter this faction in Hellfire Peninsula. With this much corruption in the world you can't expect that the Mag'har will just greet you with open arms! In Thrallmar you will find a quest called "The Assassin". This will start you along the path to finding out about the Mag'har and to reuniting Warchief Thrall with his birth family. This quest chain will first take you to a small Mag'har outpost just north of Hellfire Citadel. From there players must journey to the main Mag'har City of Garadar in Nagrand. (Note: you must complete to at least "A Spirit Guide" to speak to anyone in Garadar.)

Once you are in Nagrand the manner in which you can gain reputation with the Mag'har is very similar to the Alliance with the Kurenai. You can simply kill Kil'Sarrow cult members, Murkblood broken, Warmaul or Boulderfist Ogres. Personally I think farming the ogres and turning in the Obsidian Warbeads is the most beneficial. In addition to this, there are quests, (fifty seven in all) which will give you reputation towards this faction.

Again, WHY go after this particular faction reputation? There are actually a few things to consider.

Mount collectors of course will desire Provisioner Nasela's Talbuks. However LORE nuts will NOT want to pass up the LAST quest in the epic chain Hero of the Mag'har. (While this is NOT what you will see IN game it is a TASTE of what it is ABOUT.) Just a word of warning. If you are the type to turn in a quest and take off...DON'T, wait a few minutes or you will miss out. Sure we may not care for how it effects Gorrosh today. Some have even attempted to change the outcome, it is one EPIC quest chain.

Happy Grinding!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The ground WILL kill you

Whenever a person first steps into an instance. Be it 5, 10, 25 or even the old 40 mans there is one truth they MUST be aware of...The ground WILL kill you. We often talk about having "raid awareness" but what exactly does that MEAN?

Raid Awareness most simply is when an individual is able to focus not only on the task they are preforming (be it keeping the boss' or mob's attention, healing or causing large amounts of damage) while at the same time noticing what is going on around them. There are VERY few bosses you will encounter that allow you to just stand in one place and beat on them with out SOMETHING else interfering. We call those types of encounters "Tank and Spanks". More commonly you will be dealing with bosses and even trash mobs that have some sort of "gimmick", an added little bonus to make life and the fight more interesting.

So what are some common things to be aware of?

1. AoE or Area of Effect
Does the encounter have any mechanics that directly effects the area around them? These can be a variety of things such as moves which occasionally throw out large amounts of damage you must run away to avoid to DOT (Damage Over Time) effects which will impact you the entire event.

2. RTE or Random Target Effects
Does the encounter include mechanics in which the boss randomly targets a player OTHER than the intended one? Is there anything YOU as a player can do about it or SHOULD do if you become the target of the boss' attention? Sometimes it may be a DoT other times it could be something like having an damage inducing whirlwind chasing you.

3. Aggro Drops
Does the specific encounter include opportunities for the boss to look over the field for a NEW main target? When do these times occur? Are there specific things you as a player should either avoid doing OR do at those times?

4. Cleave or Cone Attacks
Does the encounter include large damage moves that only happen if you are IN FRONT of the boss? EVERY dragon you encounter will have these two moves so just be aware of that at the on set.

5. Tail Swipes or REAR only moves
With the exception of BLUE dragons, this is a move you should EXPECT when dealing with dragons especially. Knowing where to stand to be safe is a must.

6. Fear, Mind Control or Insanity
This is where the boss for a period of time removes control your character from your hands. Is there ANYTHING you can do to prevent it? Are there any SAFER areas you can attempt to be in case these types of things happen? Is there a specific time in the encounter when these particular moves take place?

7.  Ground Effects
This will be the BIGGEST thing to watch out for and has the largest variety of options. Runes and sparks. Some that can kill you, some that will actually BENEFIT you. Ever expanding gas clouds, spikes, the ever popular fire, void zones, acid, even SNOW.

8. Enrage Timers
More commonly now encounters will have a SET amount of time in which you have to complete them before the boss will become "Empowered" to an even greater degree than they were to begin with. Usually when they reach THIS stage it is an INSTANT wipe.

How do you know before you go into a fight what to expect?

Well some of us LIKE to go into them blind and just figure it out. We don't MIND the wipes. We consider that part of the FUN, the Challenge, the LEARNING experience of the game...but the majority of players are not like that and for THEM there are a VARIETY of options available from those that DO.

TankSpot a website dedicated to helping tanks and guilds has "project Marmot" in which they are making Videos of EACH of the raid boss fights and explaining them. For those who are VISUAL learners this can be VERY helpful in giving a basic understanding of how the fights look.

There are also sites such as Thottbott. They have "Project Lore" in which they are attempting to make videos of each of the 5 man DUNGEONS. Again for those who are visual learners very helpful and these guys are rather funny too. 

For those who don't necessarily have the TIME or the ability to sit down and watch a video there are other options available as well. Wowwiki, and Bosskillers for example. Of the two I personally prefer Bosskillers for all their detail.

Once you are aware of the mechanics of a  fight then it just takes a little practice at learning to avoid the common hazards. Many raiding guilds demand the use of Addons to help in this. Omen for example allows you to know where everyone is on threat. Deadly Boss Mods on the other hand will keep you aware of common attacks from the boss encounters and is VERY helpful in dealing with many of the common hazards players fall prey to. Don't think of these things as "cheating" Blizzard DOES have an in game threat meter already. Addons like these are more like upgrading your computer or "pimping" out your car. Blizzard is VERY clear about WHAT they will allow in their game.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: Stormwind Assassins

Last week I had questions as to why the segment of KYRL was so SHORT. Basically it was because if I expanded it I started getting into lore from both another faction AND an individual which ended up with the segment being both to long AND to involved. Instead I opted for one short one and two other longer ones. I stated with SI:7 because of the three players will have the most direct contact with its lore and there by a frame of reference.

The Stormwind Assassins on the other hand is one of those organizations whose presence is FELT within the game. The actions of its members directly effect the world we play in but the majority of the major players are neither known by nor have a place in the on line game.  In fact the majority of on line players will have absolutely no idea of its existence. Most recently they were mentioned in the World of Warcraft Comic Book one in which Lady Prestor sent one of the assassins after Lo'Gosh the Gladiator. Valeera, one of Lo'Gosh's companions was able to dispose of the assassin (more by way of LUCK than actual skill.)

So who exactly ARE these individuals and where did they come from?

The Stormwind Assassins claim to be one of the oldest surviving organizations on Azeroth. Their existence predates any of the wars as well as the Alliance itself. The human nation of Stormwind's leaders realized that they were restricted by their own laws to do everything they might want in dealing with certain situations. One of it's nobleman, a man by the name of Erwill Youngton reportedly came up with the idea of recruiting from within the prisons and building an organization that could do this type of work for them.

Youngton located the PERFECT individual in Pathonia Shaw. A professional thief for the thrills, the offer of clemency to do what she loved best LEGITIMATELY was just to tempting. Further more Youngton allowed Shaw to organize the society as she saw fit with only her having complete knowledge of all of its members. Shaw began recruiting a very select collection of thieves, spies and assassins. Her requirements were simple but tough: The thrill along with a steady pay check needed to be enough or you were not considered. She wanted individuals who could be loyal to the "family" as she called it. Trustworthiness is all important along with a desire to serve. Recruits are subtly tested on everything from skills to morals. As a result this small group is totally dedicated to the Alliance and its goals.

Of course there was no way to keep such an organization COMPLETELY secret, not and have it do the job it was intended. So the general population of Stormwind is VERY aware that it exists. Rather than make the Stormwind Assassins a organization to be feared Shaw instead worked to have its image be one of shadowy protectors, talented fighters who work alone to make sure that the general population of Stormwind is kept safe and the wicked ones made to suffer wherever they hide. Consequently sometimes the children of even wealthy parents (like Edwin VanCleef) would become thieves in hopes of becoming assassins themselves. It got so bad at one point that the prisons were literally full of "would be assassins" hoping to be recruited.

Shaw retired about 10 years ago and left the Assassins organization to her Grandson Mathias whom she had carefully groomed from infancy for the job. When Mathias first took over he spent the first couple of months attempting to "improve" on his Grandmother's design only to finally concede her plans only required him to keep a steady hand at the reigns. Pathonia designed the Assassins into a five branch group using the image of a fist grasping a dagger as her inspiration. The thumb is made up of about thirty older rogues including Mathias and deals with the general management and leadership of the overall organization.

The other four fingers make up the general rank and file and consist of about 500 rogues each. The First Finger is the highest level a rogue can reach before entering leadership or retiring and deals with assassinations. The Second Finger specializes in "acquisitions", this involves either returning stolen goods to their rightful owners or removing powerful items from individuals it is best to keep living for the time being. The Third Finger focuses on espionage, often working closely with the First and Second fingers, they gather information, will read and memorize information with out actually removing the documents, as well as serving as look outs or distraction providers while others conduct their work. The final finger, or the Fourth Finger are your "Jack-of-All-Trades" and new recruits. This branch is about twice the size of other three fingers and handle more low profile things such as body removal and disposal, alibi establishment, along with recruitment.

Since the Assassins are based in Stormwind and focus more on the human interests their range of influence is a little more limited than Mathias Shaw's other organization SI:7. (Though of course the two DO interact and Shaw certainly used his Grandmother's organizational skills when developing SI:7.) The Assassins really only have influence in Elwynn, Redridge and Westfall. Areas directly under Stormwind's control. However they have conducted jobs in such places as Duskwood and Deadwind Pass.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Of Swine Flu, Dust and Dells...

So after blogging on Monday I shut off my computer only to have it decide..."yeah that was to much work, I think I will take a break now". The power supply was shot. For the past few months I had been having problems with it randomly powering down but this time it refused to power back on. So a quick call to Dell (since it thankfully is STILL under warranty) resulted in the dreaded "In two day's you should hear from one of our service representatives once new parts are in."

In addition to that the guys in the house have been sporting "colds" but failing to share with dear ole Mom the full symptoms of those "colds"...Yep, we have Swine flu. So a quick run to stock up the pantry before the rest of the house hold falls to the effects. The Platewearer in the family (who we blame for bringing it to us via work) has been informed he is NOT to return to work until Monday. So he will be working from home and getting underfoot for the next few days.

So last night (much to the GREAT distress of my children) I was forced to play WoW using THEIR computer. I was reminded how much I ENJOYED my 22 inch flat screen monitor, key bindings, mods, graphics card and all the OTHER toys I was now having to do without.  Thankfully we have JUST moved to a new raiding schedule so I wasn't attempting to RAID on it, but just trying to do Occulus was a challenge as I couldn't even FIND the boss at times due to my more limited graphic settings.

Thankfully joy came with the morning when I received a call that Dell had gotten my parts and would be sending a tech out before noon today to fix my computer. He arrived to discover that while I did a WONDERFUL job removing dust from AROUND my computer, I need to remove the case from time to time and remove it from INSIDE it as well.

So now, while I may ache all over due to the flu I once more have my computer to keep me company...along with almost every other male member of my family. Somehow we will make it through.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Assumptions and Achievements

When I was in college one of my friends had a saying "Assumption is nothing more than the opportunity to be an Ass". I haven't always agreed with that idea, believing that "somethings should just be common sense". However this past week I have seen his philosophy demonstrated so many more times than my own. I have recognized it in myself as I have faced frustration or upset with individuals only to later acknowledge I have no one to blame but myself for thinking each of them would respond as I ASSUMED.

At times I have questioned whither individuals were even SERIOUS as they have made statements or asked questions. One of the difficulties of WRITTEN text is that it fails to convey tone of voice. Sarcasm and joking are often misinterpreted unless specifically identified. For myself I try to error on the side of caution and take things that could be considered "insulting" as not MEANT that way, sometimes going to so far as to share with the individual how it could be miss understood if I see OTHERS getting upset about it. I don't ALWAYS succeed but I at least put forth the effort.

Sure, at times it may mean that I spoil the joke...but at the same time when an individual expresses shock that "Deer eat GRASS? I thought they ate human flesh!" and I laugh only to discover that "Well that is what my Mom told me so I always thought it was true" does make you question what they teach people now a days.

Just because a player tells you that they have been playing WoW since the VERY beginning doesn't mean that they will know some of what some consider the MOST BASIC information. Elitist Jerks? Shadowpanther? Wowhead? I have been challenged to the utmost this week in sharing information with individuals who YOU WOULD THINK would KNOW only to later discover it was if I was speaking a foreign language. Give a rotation in numbers and abbreviations? "What does S&D, FoK, etc MEAN?" "You mean you don't just use the SAME opening move ALL the time?" "You use different poisons for different specs?" 

There have been times I have just wanted to give up. But then I look at how others who I at times questioned would EVER improve are now some of our most valued members and assure myself that YES it IS worth it....sometimes. I know for myself that I didn't KNOW all of this stuff when I was starting out. Even after playing the game for four years I am STILL learning new things every day. Every Patch, upgrade, etc offers new challenges and for some....Well they just don't even CONSIDER that there may be sources OUTSIDE of the game they can and SHOULD consult if they want to improve.

I have dealt with individuals who are convinced that using ANY type of "mod" is "cheating" because don't you know if Blizzard didn't put it in the game then you MUST not REALLY need it. Trying to convince them that it is more like pimping out your car so you can enjoy added features over just the "basic factory" model can be exhausting.

In the end it all comes down to TIME. How much of it am I willing to spend in an attempt to help someone who is asking for assistance? There have been a few I had to just say "Listen you keep asking me these questions then arguing with me because you don't like my answers. Either TRY them and THEN talk to me about it or don't ask me anymore and save us BOTH the frustration."

Gearing up and playing a rogue now is in my opinion easier than ever. With instances like Trial of the Champion and tabards that allow you to gain reputation while farming heroics there is really no REASON that an individual CAN NOT get to a raid level of gear. Sure the "Elitist" may whine about it but THEY are STILL going to be in the highest end gear ANYWAY because THEY will be farming all of that stuff RELIGIOUSLY verses a "casual" player with more limited play time.

I know there are some who do not like how the achievement points are being used by guilds and even pugs to "rate" how much a person may know or not know about the game. I can only speak for myself in that it DOES help me when I talk to an individual who tells me "I have played this game since the beginning" and then I look at their achievements and see that they have only JUST completed 500 quests. An individual like that is going to be a VERY different type of player from the one who says "I have played this game since the beginning" and is sporting over 6000 achievement points.

SURE it MAY be an alt they are on but if you are level 80 and have less than 3000 achievement points it would SEEM common sense that you knowledge of the game or at the VERY least that CLASS, is going to be more limited and others should be willing to take that into account. Also the TYPES of achievements an individual has tells us A LOT about a player. If you are seeing someone with LOTS of PvP achievement points but VERY few PvE, their knowledge of how to work with a group in a dungeon or raid can be legitimately questioned.

Does that mean you shouldn't be willing to group with them? No, but it does mean that BOTH should be aware of how differences COULD potentially effect a group. Working through them can be VERY rewarding IF individuals are willing and able to take the time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: SI:7

SI:7 is most simply the premier Alliance intelligence organization, specializing in such operations as assassination, stealth tactics and special operations. Headed by Mathias Shaw out of Old Town in Stormwind City it was long considered nothing more than a front for the Stormwind Assassins another organization that Shaw also heads left to him by his Grandmother. As a result its ranks are filled primarily but not exclusively by human rogues. Human rogues will of course have a more intimate interaction with this organization as many of their rogue based quests will be handled by its members.

SI:7's history an interesting one. It actually came about as the result of Prince Anduin Wrynn seeking Shaw out and specifically requesting he create such an organization after the disappearance of King Varian. Anduin wanted an organization that was more far reaching than those already established within the human kingdoms and that would work with the other Alliance factions gathering and transporting information that others might find more difficult to accept. (Specifically the Stormwind nobility who appeared to be doing everything in their power to keep the human kingdoms from working with the others.) With the contacts he already had as a result of the Stormwind Assassins, aided by the support of Anduin and Bolvar Shaw was able to quickly to develop and implemented an organization that covered all of the Eastern Kingdoms as well as parts of Kalimdor.

Unlike its Horde counterpart all Alliance players may become aware of SI:7 due to a quest chain in the plaguelands. Here you are sent to discover what happened to some of their operatives as well as learn a little about human and forsaken hunter lore. (I won't go into details about the quest as it will spoil it.)

If you had not already guessed the name of SI:7 is considered a play on the British Directorate of Military Intelligence offices which famously go by MI5 and MI6. SI:7 would most closely resemble their MI6 branch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rep: Kurenai

The Kurenai (which is Draenei for "redeemed") are an Alliance only faction found primarily in Nagrand but they do have a small base at Orebor Harborage in Zangarmarsh. The Kurenai are the escaped remnants of the Draenei defenders of Shattrah City during its destruction at the hand of the Horde and Legion forces. Due to the poisoning they suffered there they were transformed into what is now known as the Broken. Many went insane as a result of what befell them and even more were later enslaved. Unable to coexist with the other Draenei who had escaped they created for themselves their own home in the city of Telaar in Nagrand. While there are other Broken factions scattered around Outland the Kurenai are the only ones actively pursuing reestablishing contact with it's Draenei brethren.

Alliance players will start out unfriendly with the Kurenai (Horde at Hostile) but gaining reputation with this somewhat cautious tribe is rather simple if tedious.

Simply killing Kil'sorrow cult members, Murkblood Broken, Warmaul and Boulderfist ogres located around Nagrand with give you 10 reputation each with them all they way up through Exalted. Personally I would recommend the ogres over the other two so that you can also gather the Obsidian Warbeads which can be turned in for a repeatable quest that gives 500 reputation each turn in of stacks of 10 for this faction.

In total there are 44 quests which give out Kurenai reputation. Nine are located at the Haborage in Zangarmarsh but the rest are all in Nagrand. One of the more memorable chains is the one involving Corki. This overly curious adolescent happens to be the son of the head of the Kurenai and players will repeatedly be asked to go rescue him from his latest act of stupidity.

One of the most motivating factors for gathering this reputation is the eight epic Talbuk land mounts made available to collectors by Trader Narasu.

Happy Grinding!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

And now we are Leapers....

So MMO Champion, that  harbinger of all breaking news has data mined up THESE lovely gems for us...WHAT DO THEY FEED THOSE ARMOR DESIGNERS?!?!

Again we are back to looking like the idea of bathing has not occurred to us in the last several centuries. The random spikes and holes that decorate this loosely tied together leather garment is reminiscent of last years rag pile. The helm, oh the helm....what for the days of the Ninja inspired helms, masks, ANYTHING that looked NORMAL and not like I decided to put one of the Lich King's minions HEADS on as protective gear...While the male pieces of course go all the way to the waist the female sets have a HINT of belly showing. Come on, T9 was SEXY, now we get to trade out for THIS?!?!

So redeeming features are of course the proposed set bonuses. As they stand now:

  • 2 Pieces: (Updated) Your Tricks of the Trade ability now grants you 15 energy instead of costing energy.
  • 4 Pieces: (Updated) Gives your melee finishing moves a 13% chance to add 3 combo points to your target.

Oh yeah, the two set bonus especially has me happy, when these were originally released the bonuses were reversed. Meaning the Tricks of the Trade bonus was your 4 set and the Finishing Move bonus your 2 piece. I REALLY like the change.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: The Shattered Hand

This Horde Rogue organization is unique in that its origins are actually an Orc Clan. The name is derived from the practice of self mutilation that is prevalent within the clan to remove one hand and replace it with a weapon. Players see this practice at its most exstream displayed by Kargath Bladefist, the Clan's Warchief. While the majority of the Clan was told to remain on Draenor during the invasion of Azeroth later some members were sent through the portal as reinforcements and later stranded. The Shattered Hand Clan would then reform to become a Fel Orc organization headquarter in Hellfire Citadel.

Those stranded clan members however would become the foundation of Thrall's Assassins in the New Horde making their main base of operations out of the Cleft of Shadows in Orgimmar . Maintaining the name of their former clan and putting their skills to new uses. Interestingly enough they would come to include other races in their order such as Trolls.

As with all Rogue organizations however their loyalty is always a question and even the quest givers themselves hint that things are a foot to remove Thrall from leadership. As there is no VISIBLE central leadership this adds a whole other dimension to this group. (It is fascinating that here these OLD quests could so foreshadow what we now know is awaiting us in the NEXT expansion.) How they will come to work with Garrosh is something we have yet to see, but we already know that all the Trolls will be removed from the main city which is sure to cause some tensions and perhaps hostilities.

For Horde players the Shattered Hand Organization is not as far reaching in scope as say it's Human counterpart SI:7, once you leave the Horde starting areas its influence pretty much disappears. In addition to that it's quests all deal with early, basic rogue skills such a poisons (which we now just purchase rather than craft ourselves), lock picking and pick pocketing. Most Alliance are completely unaware of it's existence which personally for a Rogue Organization is not a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rep: Netherwing

Before we get into how to gain reputation with the Netherwing faction we are going to take a little bit of time to look into WHO exactly they are. Wowhead and Wowwiki will only tell you that "They are spawned from Deathwing's Blackdragon flight's eggs and infused with raw nether-energies." However conversations that take place between several NPC's located in Outland as well as lore contained in the book Beyond the Dark Portal give us a much better understanding of this race of Dragons.

The Netherwing Faction is actually the result of Deathwing's continued quest to create the "ultimate dragon flight". Taking the eggs his son Nefarian had manipulated with in Blackwing Lair he smuggled them into Draenor and infused them with the Nether-energies located there. However when Deathwing returned to Azeroth some of the Netherwing Flight began to realize they longer needed to be tools of their creator and started to attempt to create a new identity for themselves free of the Black Dragonflight and it's influence.

When players first encounter this faction it is usually in Shadowmoon Valley at Netherwing Fields. There you will find a "High Elf" by the name of Mordenai walking around pleading for assistance in helping the netherdrakes. One of the limiting factors about this faction is that you MUST have Artisan Riding before you will be able to pursue it. You don't need an epic flying MOUNT but you DO need the skill. Once you have that training Mordenai will send you to seek out Neltharaku and you are now on your way to building Netherwing Faction Reputation.

Netherwing Ledge is where you will be going for the majority of your quests and as your reputation builds new daily quests will become available to you. Some of these quests are based on your professions, some are available to all, but the majority are located around the main camp area or in the mine on the Ledge. Now when this faction was first introduced grinding out the reputations took on average a couple of  weeks. This is no longer the case as fewer people are now in the zone at one time. It is now not uncommon for an individual to go from hated to exalted in only three or four days. The reason for this is the Netherwing Eggs. These little gems can be located and farmed all over the ledge and in the mine as well as their chance of dropping from killed mobs, mined or herbed items. There is no limit to the number of times this repeatable quest can be done per day and they stack so they don't take up much bag space.

In total there are thirty six quests that give Netherwing faction Reputation.

From Neutral to Friendly you have access to:
Netherwing Crystals, A Slow Death, and The Not-So-Friendly Skies. If you are a miner you have access to Nethercite Ore.  Skinners will have access to Nethermine Flyer Hide, Herbalist can collect Netherdust Pollen
There is also the one time only quest A Job Unfinished. 

Friendly to Honored will open up three more quests and three more daily quests.
Crazed and Confused, The Great Murkblood Revolt,Overseeing and You: Making the right Choices this quest leads to one of my FAVORITE daily quests:The Booterang: A Cure for the Common Peon... Picking Up the Pieces and Dragons are the Least of Our Problems both are complete in the mine

Honored to Revered contains a six part chain quest called Earn Your Wings in addition to one other quest that sends you to Nagrand. It is in that area you will need to go for your newest daily Disrupting the Twilight Portal.

Revered to Exalted introduces an Aldor/Scryer specific group quest in which you go to the base of the specific faction you support and make them aware of the Dragonmaw's plan's to attack. You then help them to defend their base as well as deceive the Dragonmaw into believing they were successful.

Once you reach exalted be prepared for a rather fun final quest which will result in you being transported back to Shattrah City. There Barthamus will give you  the opportunity to select one of the drakes there as a mount. If at any time you would like to get more for your mount collection you can return to Netherwing Ledge and purchase additional ones from Drake Dealer Hurlunk.

Happy Grinding!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ah the drunken Binge is over....

Finally the end of Brewfest!

Now granted it CAN be a lot of fun but I really can't get that excited about a holiday spanning two weeks that celebrate nothing more than getting inebriated. It only took running one heroic where the Tank said "Are you sure thish ish heroic? The Mobs are only level 72!" and having him careen all over the instance to make me not care for this particular festival. Fill a 25 man raid with individuals like that and I wanted to pull my hair out. Not only that but doing some of those achievements literally gave me a headache from the blurred screen....I guess it is a very good thing I don't drink in real life.

I managed to get my Brewmaster achievement without to much fuss. I also was able to pick up the Ram to go with my Kodo from last year so another mount for my collection. Still no Remote but I can live with that. I also picked up the Pink Elekk for my pet collection, figured I may as well, I had more than enough tokens.

For the first time I am now a part of the Brew of the Month Club.  The plate wearer in the family participated in this last year and loved it. In fact he was most distraught to discover that he had to renew his membership each year, so quickly became motivated to do it yet again. Recalling some of the effects of these monthly beverages I admit I am rather curious to see what awaits me in the coming year as now many of the guild will be participating along with me since we are FULL of achievers.

I will enjoy my two week break before we are back at it again farming Scarlet Monastery Graveyard for the Headless Horseman's mount. Already there has been expressed the question of "Do you think they may have upgraded his gear as well?" Many of the plate wearers in our guild are DESPERATELY hoping to see his laughing helm. Not only that but the Flying Broom was always a great favorite. I haven't heard or seen anything to indicate an upgrade so we can only hope at this point.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Can we PLEASE put on the brakes already?

What is the stinking RUSH already? Suddenly I have SOOOO much more understanding of my parents from every childhood vacation. You know the ones where they drag you to some site and you as a child rush to the only thing that interests you while they seemly drag their feet by EVERY STINKING BRONZE PLAQUE from here to Timbuktu reading each word while you wait impatiently to move on.

I can now empathize with my parents. I feel so RUSHED with this expansion.

It is not unlike being at a restaurant where I am not being allowed to ENJOY each course because as soon as I am handed my portion they are waiting at my elbow to give me my next serving. The only nice thing is at least they don't whip the LAST one off my table...USUALLY.

Here we have JUST gotten patch 3.2.2 with the Onyxia raid (the one they said we would not see until November.) And now PTR is starting on Patch 3.3 and Ice Crown which means it will most likely hit by CHRISTMAS for crying out loud. I STILL haven't even had a chance to finish Ulduar, Sarath 3D due to my more limited play time, plus the fact that I would ALSO like to work on some other things. (Still TRYING to get that Darkmoon Faire Rep for the Insane Title).

What is really interesting is that it isn't just ME that I hear commenting on this, even HARD CORE raiders are commenting that NO ONE can expect to have full BiS gear before the next raid comes out, there just is not enough TIME to gather it all. What is the stinking HURRY? Are they REALLY that worried about the new MMO games coming out?

I have looked at Aion, while graphically attractive I couldn't get past the fact that the females are in 4 inch heals for crying out loud. (STILL have no idea why this bothers me so much but it just TOTALLY grates on my nerves.) Many of the others haven't even registered an interest.

Now I will admit I am VERY curious to see what the proposed "Vanish fix" will be. IF, and that is a HUGE if, it actually DOES go live because they have actually stated that if Vanish worked as intended it would be "Over Powered"....sigh....What will we have to give up in return? Why are they so FIXATED on rogues? LOOK AT THE DEATH KNIGHTS and leave us alone...we have been quietly trying to hide in their shadows this expansion while people yell about THEM for a change it ALMOST seemed to work, we got by with few changes over all.

I just wish they would put on the brakes and let me ENJOY this expansion because the biggest problem I see is that once the NEXT patch is announced that is all any one wants to talk about so it makes it difficult to keep ANYONE focused on the stuff we still have here NOW. At times, like my parents must have on our family vacations, I feel like I am attempting to herd cats.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: Brann Bronzebeard

When I started this series I invited readers to request rogues they would like for me to feature. One name came up that kind of surprised me. Brann Bronzebeard. As was stated in the request "He is stealthy, picks locks, despite being the brother of an Alliance King will take help from ANYONE to get the job done...IF that isn't a ROGUE what is?" As all these things are INDEED true,  Brann would seem a prefect candidate, there is just one major problem....he is a HUNTER.

For Horde players who have really only been introduced to Brann in Northrend via the Halls of Stone and then later Ulduar all they will have witnessed is really his more roguish tendencies so the confusion is understandable. Alliance players on the other hand have been falling over King Magni Bronzebeard's youngest brother through out most of their leveling experience. Even with that, it is STILL easy to get confused about Brann because it wasn't until Northrend that anyone actually SAW him...instead we were always finding his STUFF. (Brann has a NASTY habit of LOSING things, HIMSELF included, though he will NEVER call it that.)

So lets take this time to clear up the confusion and cover this fascinating individual that we already know we are going to be seeing even MORE of in the NEXT expansion.

As I mentioned before Brann is the youngest of the three Bronzebeard brothers. King Magni, realizing there was nothing he could to to control his younger brother's wandering feet, rather than even attempt to try instead channeled it into official lines. With Magni's backing Brann was able to start the Explorers League with the help of his friend Samul Strangehands. It was as a direct result of Samul's influence that Brann became so engrossed in learning any and all languages that he stumbles across.

Earlier in his life Brann was directly involved with helping out his eldest brother. Since Brann is was conversationally fluent in Orcish as well as being an accomplished fighter he and his brother Muradin were sent during the Second War to guide and assist Anduin Lothar as he lead the Alliance Army, following Lothar's death he continued to work with Turalyon resulting in the destruction of the Dark Portal.

It was after the Third War that Brann's life as the Great Explorer that we know today truly began. Commissioned by his brother Magni to create a map of the Eastern Kingdoms, this eventually expanded to included Kalimdor, the South Seas and Northrend. For Alliance players Brann's name will first creep up in Stranglethon Vale. It was here that EARLY in the game players followed his trail into the Zul'Grub. All they knew at the time was that he had gone "missing" leaving the message that he would be "traveling east".

This would become Brann's trade mark, disappear, leave a trail of STUFF, then pop up again in a completely DIFFERENT region leaving another trail behind him. This trail often leads to raid instances. Case in point: After their first encounter with Brann in Stranglethorn Vale Alliance players won't see anything of him again until they get to Silithus. Here you will actually discover one of Bronzebeard's Encampments being manned by some of his colleges as well as his pet gorilla Glibb.

You recall how I stated that Brann was a HUNTER right? Well there are several reasons why this is the prevailing thinking though Glibb is only the beginning of it. In addition if you ever take the time to read his Journal you will see him comment about his "Rifle, Dwarven-hand cannon and Battle Axe". Now while Rogues CAN use guns, up until recently they were unable to use axes. In fact one of the quest rewards from Silithus is to get Brann's Trusty Pick.

After players follow Brann's trail into the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj he disappears again. There was some speculation that he may have headed through the Dark Portal into Outland but no evidence of that ever surfaced. The only thing that he clearly communicated was that he was going to head off to Northrend in an attempt to discover more about his brother Muradin's death.

It is not until you get to Grizzly Hills that you know for sure that Brann ever made it to Northrend. Once again his trail of stuff speaks for him. Both Alliance AND Horde players will discover his tattered journal and need to put it back together to have a better idea as to what he may be up to now. From there his trail disappears into Storm Peaks.

It is in Storm Peaks that Alliance players for the VERY FIRST TIME will actually catch up to the allusive Brann and help him to escape. Horde players will also encounter him for the first time...but their experience is a little more frustrating as Brann is not NEARLY as fluent in their tongue as he believes himself to be. For the Alliance I can only say that this chain has become one of my all time favorite lore ones. While I guessed the ending early on I was STILL moved by the completion. (If somehow you have not done it yet I won't spoil it for you.)

Brann turns up again in the Halls of Stone and it is HERE that his class confusion comes up as he certainly SEEMS to be a rogue. There he will challenge players to accompany him into the Tribunal of the Ages to attempt to gain more information about the Titans and the history of the Dwarves. From there we know he goes to gather his forces for his assault on Ulduar.

Those who may have only seen the Ulduar trailer can easily miss the significance of what is going on. Many focus more on Varian and Gorrash's battle so Gorrash's comment to Thrall goes completely unnoticed. Brann is the ONLY ONE in that room to have EVER faced an Old God before. Gorrash wants to see "the fear in his face" so he can judge the seriousness of the threat finding it all a joke. Jaina, Rhonin, even Thrall are VERY aware of what is at stake but Varian is not willing to risk his people one more time only to be betrayed, leaving them at a stalemate.

Brann again heads into Ulduar this time with the PLAYERS as his helpers, everyone now knowing what is at stake. If you listen he will continue to give you information about each of the towers as you progress toward the first boss of Ulduar via radio. Once you reach and defeat the Iron Council if you wait long enough he will enter the room and trigger a cinematic that will give you a basic run down on each of the guardians as well. If you are one of the few guilds who is downing Algalon you will also see him briefly when you turn in the Reply-Code Alpha quest in Dalaran.

At BlizzCon 2009 it was also hinted that we should expect to see more of our intrepid adventurer in Cataclysm's Uldum. I am very much looking forward to this as only hints of it can be seen in the Cataclysm trailer.

So there you have it, I hope you have enjoyed this insight even if it is only to burst some bubbles by correcting a miss belief. While I would happily love to call Brann a Rogue, he really is a class all unto himself when it comes right down to it. If it were a PLAYABLE class, it would CERTAINLY be over powered.