Thursday, December 31, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: Lana Stouthammer

I debated long and hard as to who I wanted to discuss as our last lore figure of the year. Finally I centered in on Lana Stouthammer. Lana is a confusing individual who came into existence in patch 3.1 because while she is an Alliance NPC her image for the Alliance is VERY different than it is for the Horde. Alliance players might not even be aware that she IS a rogue while Horde players are VERY aware of this. So lets take a look at her dual personality.
For Alliance players this was the Lana Stouthammer we were first introduced to as a Valiant quest giver for Ironforge. You will notice she is sporting Pally Tier 6. She is also a red head with a pony tail. This was later changed when the Argent Tournament Coliseum itself was opened with patch 3.2. (Though I think few people noticed as many of us had already gotten beyond the point of doing her quests.)
This is the Lana Stouthammer Alliance players will encounter today. Note she is NOW a double braided brunette sporting the rogue set of the Furious Gladiator Leather Armor from Arena Season 6 with two Aledar's Battlestar's and the all important Eye patch. (This is a different one than the classic Eye of Rend model and I haven't had any luck finding an exact match. Be sure once I do I will up date this as it looks sweet and I would love to get my hands on one.)

Again for Alliance Players Lana is the Champion for Ironforge and gives out Six Valiant quests for them.

On a side note if you haven't managed to get to exalted reputation with Ironforge before this time it is always a good idea to just continue to do these quests until you almost reach it before you complete The Valiant's Challenge because once you become a Champion with Ironforge the other quests disappears as do their large reputation gaining benefits.

For Horde Players Lana is a frustrating joke, since as ALL players KNOW there ARE no Female Dwarf Rogues. So when they first encounter her in the Trial of the Champion they often mistake her for a hunter.
Lana will randomly appear as one of the three Alliance Champions during the Horde version of the Trial of the Champion five man dungeon. In this encounter she has several different abilities. The first phase is the joust phase in which she is mounted on her trusty Ram and can do charge, shield breaker and if a player is dis mounted, trample, stunning the player and causing them additional damage. It is the second phase for which she is most hated.

In phase two Lana shows two common rogue abilities plus an additional one that many rogues wish they had access to. The first is the classic Eviserate but unlike the rest of us she has no need to build up combo points. The second is Fan of Knives which she uses liberally. The final is a move called Poison Bottle which is an instant and has a 30 yard radius. It is this final move more than any others that has her so hated. She will fling this about and if you fail to move out of it the results can be disastrous especially for clothies.

Well that wraps us up for this year. I hope you all have enjoy this as much as I have researching and writing them. Again if any of you have specific rogues you would like me to cover please feel free to let me know!

Have a great and blessed New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rep: Valiance Expedition

Last week we discussed how when you first enter Northrend you are introduced to two coalitions. Today we are going to look at what some may argue is the most IMPORTANT branch of the Alliance coalition. The Valiance Expedition. With its main base of operations being located at Valiance Keep in the Borean Tundra and others scattered though out Northern it the largest of the Alliance Vanguard's four factions.

Representing the main body of the Alliance's forces they are currently engaged in a two front war against both the Scourge AND the Horde. This was not always the case nor its original intention.

When the Alliance reunified with the return of King Varian Wrynn it again had a single military leader. Before it was no more than a committee continuously disrupted by the manoeuvrings of Lady Prestor aka Lady Onyxia of the Black Dragon Flight. With her out of the way the Alliance now how has a central focusing leader, though not without his scars as the result of his resent experiences.

When players first arrive in Northrend and encounter the Expedition they will notice that their focus is all about the Scourge. The major quest hubs for this faction in Borean Tundra and even Howling Fjord deal primarily with this or the basic exploration and securing resources in the region. Players will see this focus shift in Dragonblight as the result of a quest chain from the Quest hub Wintergarde Keep, culminating in its dramatic conclusion at Fordragon Hold.

From that moment on the Valiance Expedition's directive is divided. As players progress through Grizzly Hills and beyond the tensions between the Horde and Alliance factions continue to escalate to the point of open warfare in Icecrown. This conflict was further emphasized when the Valiance Expedition was made into the Command Force for the Alliance in the PvP Battle Ground Strand of the Ancients in patch 3.0.

Gathering reputation for this faction was simple even BEFORE patch 3.3. There are 259 quests that give reputation for this faction. Of those nine are daily quests. In addition to this any time you run a dungeon and do not wear a faction representing tabard you get this reputation for all mobs and bosses killed.

Happy Grinding!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

World of Warcraft Mag

If SOMEHOW you missed hearing about this Blizzard is having Future PLC produce a quarterly "magazine" for them. I have to admit when I first heard of this idea I was rather intrigued. That quickly turned to confusion as I learned more about the format. I would use the term "Magazine" loosely when dealing with this proposed project but that is what they are calling it. These things are about 150 pages in length EACH. An added plus, NO ADDS to distract you as you enjoy the content. (Sounds more like a quarterly series soft cover book to me but...yeah)

They recently released a 40 page "preview" to help renew interest as many had been concerned the whole IDEA was going to go belly up with the loss of its Editor and Chief just about a month ago.Since it was slated to be released before Christmas it is easy to understand people's panic.

As can be expected the art work is stunning. They have both professional AND fan art displayed through out. Many of the pieces in the preview are ones that have seen promotion before. That is what struck me the most about this preview, especially as it came to the content of the articles. They already seemed....dated? Like they would be "old news" before the magazine itself even hits our coffee tables.

Now it could just be that for their "preview" that is all they are going to show us. Information that WOULDN'T be ground breaking...but I guess it all depends on what types of customers you are planning to attract. After reading the entire 40 page preview I only saw 1 piece of information that really struck me as NEW, and even THAT was rather week in it's "spoiler strength". It was more along the lines of: "Yeah, the stuff you saw in the trailer? Expect to see more of that."

They do hint that there will be SOME discussion of dungeon and raid design. Even so far as to go into specific encounters. This would certainly be a nice feature. But the opening page is more than clear that STRATEGIES are NOT what one should expect to find within.

What we CAN expect is a great deal of Lore and history of the game itself. Even going so far as to look at the time line of the game's development. Major content patches that changed HOW we play the game and the reactions people had to them at the time seem a good portion of the first Magazine. Lots of interviews with players who PERSONALLY effect the way we play the game as well as quotes and responses from more "average" players.

So am I PERSONALLY going to invest in this? At this point I just don't know...The plate wearer in the family has expressed an interest in it so he may pick it up for himself then I can just mooch off of him. Since I am home and will always get a hold of it first sounds like a Win/Win situation to me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What I did for Christmas

So yesterday was Christmas and from a WoW stand point you really can't do much because you SHOULD be focusing on your family. With four children that is most certainly the case so the majority of the day was spent with them running around seeing relatives, opening gifts and over all just getting stressed out.

Coming home with a mountain of new distractions for them was a WONDERFUL thing. (Legos and Matchbox are God's gift to parents if you didn't know better, providing you don't get anything TO huge and complicated.) By 6:30 two of them were so worn out they put THEMSELVES to bed and the other two popped in one of the new movies they had gotten to watch while they had a lego war in the Rec. Room.

This left the Hubby and I the WHOLE EVENING to just play. Now my Christmas gift from my hubby this year was a new Keyboard. Finally something more advanced than my usual $10 logitic that does the job but has to be replaced every year. I got a Merc and I LOVE IT!!

 Yeah, it isn't the latest and greatest as it was first introduced three years ago. Sure it isn't illuminated like it's upgraded stealth version. But it is the first actually GAMING keyboard I have ever owned and I am amazed at how quickly I have adapted to it. Now I should clarify that a bit. I have adapted on Daraia. With her this keyboard just SINGS. My fingers can reach each of the key bindings easily with few miss strokes even from the beginning. My priest and hunter on the other hand...yeah not so much but I know it will come with time and practice.

 So we popped on line and picked up our Winter Veil Gifts from under the Christmas Tree. The long awaited Red Rider Air Riffle had arrived and now we could all do the long anticipated achievement BBKing. For Rogues this achievement is pretty easy. Stealth in, take your shot, sprint and vanish but for the vast majority not so much. Thus began my frustration. I got my first two off with out a hitch but I figured I would save Orgimmar for last as I knew that would be the most difficult.

The problem is that large groups of people had decided if you all just group up into a raid and GO to the city you should be able to do BOTH the BB King achievement AND the For the Alliance one. The result? A free for all BRAWL at Thunder Bluff. Now I don't know how long of a respawn timer they have on the faction leaders but after 45 minutes of waiting for Cairne to respawn I gave up in frustration for the night.

Since I hadn't done my daily Heroic yet I checked within guild to see if there was any interest and proceeded to get those out of the way for both Daraia and my Hunter. It was only 8, a whole night ahead of us. Our tank Enok had to call it to go do more family things so I pleaded with the plate wearer of the family to come tank for us. Reason being I had noticed the quality of pug tanks had drastically reduced over the holidays and since I was now running on my PRIEST I really would prefer a more relaxed run.

He agreed to ONE run with myself and two other guild mates but then he was DONE he said. Well we qued in and picked up Whiskerfree from Nathrezim. One quick Heroic Halls of Lightning later Whisker asked if we were going to be doing anymore and would mind if he tagged along. He had no IDEA what he would set in motion.

One of the reasons my hubby hates to run heroics is that he is ALWAYS OOM due to being so over geared. Well He agreed to do another but THIS time he wanted to try to do it wearing his Santa hat and suit. Since he was STILL over defense cap and almost 40k health even in THIS get up we all agreed. We popped back into the que and headed into Heroic Utgarde Keep. Again a nice smooth run, but by this time Hubby was in the mood. He asked for a quick break before we headed back in and when we next qued up and headed into Heroic Old Kingdom we were greeted with such pulling macros as:

"Santa knows that you've been naughty"

"Here is some coal in your stocking"

"What?!? No Milk and Cookies?"

"Santa is coming to YOUR town"

Since Old Kingdom has one of the Winter Hat drops the mage in the group Kena got into the act as well. Soon we were seeing "Let it snow, let is snow, let it snow" whenever she cast blizzard.

Therigwin decided that the Santa suit wasn't offering enough of a challenge. So his NEXT idea was to do the run COMPLETELY SMASHED. Off we went and thankfully ended up in Heroic Violet Hold as we had to direct him with "Center Top" or "Bottom Left" so he knew where the portals spawned as he could see absolutely NOTHING on his screen but blur.

Needless to say it was one of the most enjoyable chain heroic runs I have participated in for a VERY long time. Wither we will make it a holiday tradition or not we will have to see. I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Winter Veil and Merry Christmas!!

Merla kicked the snow from her boots as she entered the noisy common area. Many of the company sat rather glumly around the tables nursing hot drinks and mindlessly consuming the cooling food. A quick perusal of the room located the majority of the officers seated near the fireplace at the center and with a minimal amount of shoving she was able to make her way there.

"Wha' is wit all ye?" Merla barked as she neared the group. Glaring at Therigwin and Daraia tucked comfortably against one another. "This be WINTER VEIL!! Time of good cheer and party and ye all look worse than me man Durin's ole armor!"

"If you haven't noticed Merla we don't really have much to be cheerful about." Enok replied, his feet propped up to the fire. "Arthas is holed up in that Citadel of his and Light only knows how long it is going to be before the Gnomes are going to be able to blast thier way through the doors so we can get at him." Running his fingers though his graying hair he continued. "Rather than working together the Horde and Alliance are STILL at each others throats." Pausing he rubbed his chin then thoughtfully continued, "Though returning Saurfang's body to his father does seem to have helped a little bit."

"With the exception of Justin and his clan the majority of us are far from our families as well." Schaikera added quietly, her face pensive as she considered the absence of her own children. "I know the younger ones have tried to bring a little seasonal cheer but...."

"I REFUSE to wear candles and colored balls just to make them happy." Syyand sputtered, waving wildly. "I'd look RIDICULOUS! I'm a healer not a decoration!" Arms crossed he slammed back into his chair.

"Well they managed to find an ever green SOME where" Schaikera soothed, patting the pouting druid on the shoulder. "They really have been quite creative all things considered."

All eyes turned to the small tree now glowing in the common room corner and the young people gathered around it under the watchful eye of their father. Leafius with the help of the gnome mage Miep had somehow managed to create small colored mage lights that flickered all over the tree in brilliant array. Ribbons created by the girls from gathered scraps had been tied on almost every branch giving it a rather festive air.

"Well, 't ain't right I tell ya!" Merla countered. "Winter Veil is ment t' be a time of laughter and joy! Not all this pussy foot'n ye been doing!"

"What do you suggest Priest?" Daraia's soft voice carried over the group. "How do you plan to heal this may lay?"

Eyes narrowed the dwarf surveyed the group before coming again to rest on the rogue. "I'm g'na tell ye a story. T'is been handed down from generation to generation in me family. The Story of thee Winter Veil Tree!" Seeing that she had their full attention Merla took a seat, cleared her throat and began.

"Greatfather Winter was preparing for his annual journey around Azeroth when he discovered that four of his gnomes had inexplicably gotten ill and the "gnomes in training" were not able to produce the same number of toys for his deliveries as his regular gnomes. As a result Greatfather Winter began to feel concerned that he would not be able to meet the needs of all the children of Azeroth that year.

Going into his home, he decided to share his concerns with his wife as this usually helped him. Upon his arrival he discovered that his mother-in-law had decided to come to visit for the holidays unannounced. This stressed him out even more as he no longer could discuss anything with his wife for fear that all of Azeroth would soon hear of it.

Going out to the barn to escape all the chatter in the house it was revealed that someone had left the gate open and all the reindeer had gotten out. Now they were no where to be found.

When he lifted up his Gift Sack to take it out of the work shop the seam split and all the toys were scattered across the floor damaging the wrappings.

Frustrated beyond endurance Greatfather Winter headed into his office for a mug of his favorite Winter Ale or perhaps a shot of the Lord of the Frost's Private Label which he kept for special occasions. When he went to the cupboard it was then he discovered why his gnomes had gotten ill. For as all Dwarves know no Gnome can handle good Dwaven Liquor and not a drop remained. In his dumbfounded state he accidentally dropped his favorite Stine onto the floor where it shattered into a hundred little pieces.

Devastated he went to the closet to retrieve his Silvermoon enchanted broom and clean up the mess. It was then he found the mice had eaten off all the straw leaving nothing more than a dancing handle.
Just then the doorbell rang with a loud "Ting-a-ling-a-ling!"
Irritated Greatfather Winter yanked the door open to discover a tiny little angel with a HUGE ever green tree.

Cheerfully the Angel greeted Greatfather Winter "Happy Winter Veil Greatfather Winter! Isn't it a LOVELY day? I have a BEAUTIFUL tree for you. Where do you want me to stick it?

Thus began the tradition of the Winter Veil Tree and its Angel a top it."

Pleased with her work Merla left the now gasping group in a much more cheerful state of mind.

(Many thanks to Dale who first shared the joke that inspired this story.)

Know Your Rogue Lore: Greatfather Winter

With it being Winter Veil I thought we would take a bit of a break and look one of the major lore figures of the season. For the Alliance that is Greatfather Winter. (The Horde version is called Great-father Winter but he is really nothing more than a commercial copy and we will get into that in a bit.)

So who is this guy and where did he come from?

The ORIGINAL Greatfather Winter is Hodir. The guy who many a player curse his son's as they grind their reputation for their shoulder enchants. For the Dwarves or "Earthen" as they were originally created by the Titians the Father figure to the Frost Giants was one of the few ghostly memories they had of their past as they celebrated the coming winter each year. Hodir himself refers to the Veil of Winter when you encounter him in Ulduar stating "The veil of winter will protect you champions!"
When the "curse of flesh" hit the earthen and they migrated south from Northrend the idea of the Titians and their watchers slowly morphed into legend and fairy tail. Eventually Hodir became "Greatfather Winter" the mythical being who walked Azeroth, in his wake would fall a wintery cloak of snow. Dwarves being what they are, would welcome the seasonal changes with a day of feasts and parties.

Next enter the goblins. Those harbingers of all things commercial and money making. In the idea of Greatfather Winter the Goblin's of Smoky Pastures saw a money making opportunity and they took it. Even better it only required one season of hard work and the rest of the year to prepare and enjoy the fruits of their labors. As a result they took the IDEA of Greatfather Winter and EXPANDED it. Turning it into the season of commercialize gift giving that we know today. They were even able to introduce this concept to the HORDE replacing the DWARVEN Greatfather Winter with an Orc they called Great-father Winter who serves exactly the same function. As no one is adverse to gifts and fun the Horde embraced this new tradition with open arms.

To further "de-mystify" Greatfather Winter Smoky pastures has turned him into nothing more than a Cookie and milk eating, gift giving symbol. His origins and significance lost to all but a very few. Even those who take the time to ATTEMPT to look into the history of Winter Veil will often find it more shrouded in mystery and myth than fact.

Now lets say for the sake of holiday spirit you wanted to DRESS like Greatfather Winter this season. Could you do it? Why yes, yes you could. But it would take you a bit of effort and would most likely be something you would need to create a specific character to do as some of the items are BoP. (My suggestion would be a Male Dwarf or Orc for obvious reasons.)

Greatfather Winter's Costume seems to consist of the following items:
Flarecore Robe
Dusky Belt
Snowhide Bracers
Red Hands of the Thunderlord
Winter Boots
Furbolg Medicine Pouch

(Many thanks to Kirina who came up with this list)

I hope you all have enjoyed this seasonal "Know Your Rogue Lore". I plan to be back to a more regular blogging schedule once all my little minions are back in school. For now the plan is to post "pre written" posts for my series with an occasional bit I may SOMEHOW manage to write up around all the holiday bussel that happens in a home with four children.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Rep: Alliance Vanguard and Horde Expedition.

Well we did it, we completed all of the reputations from the Burning Crusade and now move on to those we are dealing with right now in Wrath of the Lich King and Northrend. Congratulations! You will soon discover that at least four of them work in conjunction with one another reputation wise.

For the Alliance this coalition is called the Alliance Vanguard. The Horde equivalent is called the Horde Expedition. Simply put they are the combined forces of either the Alliance or the Horde in Northrend, made up of "sub-factions" which all feed into them. Earning reputation with the SUB factions is what allows you to gather your reputation for the "head faction". In addition to this running any dungeon in Northrend while NOT wearing a faction tabard will grant you reputation with these faction based upon your affiliation. Before patch 3.3 the head factions were the ONLY one of the factions who you could gain reputation with in this way. However as of the patch it now also grants reputation with each of the SUB factions, though on a MUCH lower scale.

The four Sub Factions that make up the Alliance Vanguard are: The Dwarven run Explorer's League, with Brann Bronzebeard as their head. The Human controlled Valiance Expedition which make up the main armies of the Alliance. The Silver Covenant, who are the High Elves and provide security for Dalaran under Veressa Windrunner. Finally the native Frostborn, being lead by an individual they named Yorg Stormheart.

The Horde Sub Factions that make up the Horde Expedition are: The Warsong Offensive which contain the balk of the Horde forces under the command of the controversial Garrosh Hellscream. The Forsaken group Hand of Vengeance, who as their name implies have a very single minded focus. The Sunreavers, lead by Archmage Aethas Sunreaver protect the Horde presence in Dalaran.  Finally the native Taunka, relatives of the Tauren.

For engineers especially these two reputations are VERY important because in order to obtain the much desired  Mekgineer's Chopper or Mechano-hog Schematic you MUST reach exalted with them FIRST. Some Tanks also go after this reputation for the helm enchant.

For the next few weeks I will be going into more detail about each of the Sub-factions. Explaining their lore as well as how you can obtain reputation with each of them individually.

On to Northrend!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Those you meet in Pugs

With the new Dungeon finder (LFG) system more and more people are entering the wonderful world of pugs. Lets be honest, pugs have gotten a bad rap for a long time. Why? Because of who all you MEET in pugs. Now not all of them are BAD but those that are stick out in our minds. Those are the runs you will NEVER forget.

For myself it was a heroic Magister's Terriace run back in BC. For that run the Tank was drunk (Literally, not just in game. He happily informed us of the fact he had just finished his first case of beer and was working on his second.) The healer was high (again literally, we were regaled with tales of his draws on his joint for the entire run.) Leaving the three of us DPS to look at each other and question our OWN sanity for hanging around.

I listened to my husband do one where the party leader spoke NO English and proceeded to give instructions in either French or Spanish (my poor husband could not decide which it was but both are not uncommon in our battle group.) Other stories like these are shared across the realms and guild chats. Often resulting in individuals ending up on ignore lists or as was the case on our server entire guilds were just avoided.

As I have run numerous pugs on all of my level 80 toons I have discovered that the majority of people I encounter tend to fall into one of five categories. Silent killers, Social butterflies, Newbies, Elitist jerks and Ninjas.

The Silent killers are generally members of raiding guilds, far out gearing whatever instance they happen to be running at the time. They come in, whip through a run and after completing their objective leave never saying a word or at the very least not many. Few people mind having these individuals in their pugs as their presence generally ensures a quick, smooth and often boring instance run. They will always top the damage charts, never lose aggro and heal you through almost anything so what is there to complain about? For our next group, their very silence.

The Social Butterflies will chatter the entire instance. They often ask questions inviting response and if others refuse to participate will then proceed to fill party chat with antidotes, jokes or their life history depending on their particular bent. The presence of a social butterfly in your pug will almost INSURE that the run will NOT be a boring one, wither you ENJOY their presence or not. Their gear and skill levels will travel the gambit from "Over geared Hard Core Raider" to "I just hit level 80!" but these will be individuals you just don't forget quickly if for no other reason than their very personality will ensure it.

The next group is the Newbies. These guys are almost ALWAYS under geared for whatever instance you are doing. They will have no CLUE what is going on as frequently the instance will be completely new to them. For Silent Killers these guys can be extremely annoying as they are not unknown to trigger events like the final boss fight in CoS while the rest of the party is off downing the Infinite Corruptor. It isn't that they are BAD necessarily, they are just NEW. They have no clue how the fights go so make many mistakes as they try to learn. No one will be harder on these guys than our next group.

The Elitist jerks are just that, Jerks. Every run is started out by doing a complete gear and achievement check on EVERYONE in the instance. Silent Killers will generally pass with no comment, the rest are seldom so lucky. These guys crew up newbies for breakfast if they happen to be so unlucky to get grouped with them. What I find amusing is that unlike the theory crafting guild site they fashion themselves after, they SELDOM are members of Hard Core raiding guilds or even topping the charts in damage or healing. Instead while generally they DO raid they tend to only have a LITTLE bit of knowledge and proceed to use that knowledge like a battering ram for the entire run. These guys are most often just endured, but they certainly can make an other wise pleasant run a trial with their constant criticizing.

This leaves us with our last and thankfully SMALLEST group.  The Ninja. These guys can single handily destroy an other wise good run. The ninja runs with the premise "all loot should go to ME" and will do everything in their power to make that happen. Certain heroic instances up your chances of running into a Ninja. Utgarde Pinnacle with its rare mount drop, or the new Ice Crown instances with the Battered Hilt bring these types out of the wood work.

In the past players had some recourse against ninjas. Things like going to their Guild leadership, post their names on servers forums, and otherwise attempting to make life difficult for them were the common response to this behavior. However with cross battle group instance runs many Ninjas now count on the fact that few people will get the chance to track them down so any negative recourse is minimized. The most common thing you will see with these types is the "snatch and leave". For the ninja the idea is generally individuals will miss the fact that they have ninjaed or will not recognize them the next time they meet. About the only recourse people have at this point is to place a ninja on their "ignore" list so that they do not run the risk of getting grouped with them again.

Some may question why there is no "Terri-bad" category for all of those players who HAVE gear but just don't utilize it effectively.  I frankly haven't run into any that have been THAT poor that we weren't able to finish a run despite them. In addition I have discovered the majority of "Terri-bads" are in actuality just "Newbies" who have managed to get lucky with gear. It is not difficult now a days to completely gear up your new level 80 via the auction house with BoEs if you just have the cash. The rest were nothing more than distracted individuals trying to multi task and failing.

Don't let the few "bad" puggers destroy your enjoyment of a run. While I wish I could friend some of the "good" ones I meet and get a chance to run with them again, with the new system the frequency of GOOD runs generally out weighs the bad ones.

A few things to keep in mind that may help you as you PUG:

First, if you can not stand running with "Newbies" don't pug much on the weekends or during holidays. These are the times when you will get the highest concentration of them as it is often when they are able to play.

Second, Elites jerks will generally shut up when challenged about their knowledge and performance. Now this will only work if they are NOT topping the charts but nothing shuts someone like this up quicker than having another in the group with more knowledge and experience them. Just don't tolerate the attitude.

Third, check your OWN attitude as you go in. Sure getting Oculus every day can wear on your nerves but it is not the fault of your other party members. If you just can't stand running the risk of getting grouped with certain others go the old fashion route and make a party of friends. The majority of instances can easily be run with only four of your party being well geared, especially if two of them happen to be your healer and Tank.

Conclusion, there are more things to LOVE about the new system than dislike. If nothing else the rewards for doing it will generally cover the costs of any poor runs you happen to get stuck in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What a long, strange trip it's been

Since this was requested:

I finally got this done. I was 4 horde shy for With a Little Help from My Friends last year. (Trying to pvp and handle all the Holiday stuff just didn't work well for me and I kept forgetting I needed to sit back and get kills not KILL.) So I finally got it finished in Wintergrasp. Have to say that is the BEST place EVER to work on this achievement. Reason being is rather than just sitting on your duff milking Honor kills (something I just can't STAND) you can man a gun and pew pew to your hearts content as a melee. I am even considering doing this achievement on my Priest and Hunter who I NEVER pvp with.

As the comments stated in Guild chat now I can match our Holiday Tabard with its purple background and green Christmas tree. *shutters*

Just need a few more and I will have my Hundred mounts. All without breaking down and buying any of the really expensive ones....though...yeah I may get myself a chopper as a Christmas present.

Know Your Rogue Lore: Ikfirus the Vile

Last week in Know Your Rogue Lore we discussed the Alliance Tier 10 vendor Yili. This week lets take a look at the Horde vendor Ikfirus the Vile.

You will find Ikfirus in the same place that Yili is located, at the end of the line of vendors on the right hand side platform as you enter Ice Crown Citadel. Like Yili he is dressed in Tier 10, however he is sporting a pair of Stygian Bladebreakers.

As with all of the members of the Ashen Verdict Ikfirus earned his spot by success at the trials in the Argent Tournament as well as being a gifted craftsman. For him this fight is more personal as he once suffered under the rule of the Lich King as a member of the Scourge. Now free as a member of the Forsaken he, like many others of his kind, desire vengeance.

As with all the tier pieces, the items he "sells" can be purchased with Emblems of Frost. Once you have gotten the first level of gear you can then "upgrade" it to the next level with a Tier token called the Mark of Sanctification AND the original piece of gear. This is more reminiscent of the "dungeon sets" from the Old World level 60 dungeons in which you needed to collect the pieces and then do quests to upgrade them. Thankfully, unlike then you can upgrade in which ever order you prefer providing you have both the Token and the gear.

Ikfirus is linked to another item of note. A chest piece that players will sometimes locate in the chest in the Gunship Armory called "Ikfirus's Sack of Wonder." With a name like that it is no accident that many players first mistake it for a bag. What makes this piece even MORE interesting is that it is a Bind on EQUIPPED item making it more likely that some lucky rogue or feral druid with cash to burn could pick it up on the auction house. The itemization on it has attracted a great deal of interest since so many of the new tier pieces lack both expertise and hit rating.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rep: The Tranquillien

Well we are almost done with all of the factions from the Burning Crusade expansion. There is just one more left and I am covering them last because I was just not sure where else to fit them in. The Tranquillien is a Horde only faction made up of  both Blood Elves and Forsaken located in the small town of Tranquillien in the Ghostlands. No other starting zone has a faction like this and how you gain reputation with them is also slightly different.

Overlooking the Dread Scar on the western slope of Sungraze Peak, the story of Tranquillien is fairly straight forward from a lore perspective. During the 3rd War the town was abandoned in the face of the advancing Scourge, its residents fleeing to Silvermoon City for refuge. Now it has been reclaimed by a joint group of Forsaken and Blood Elves in the desperate attempt to retake the Ghostlands. It is really nothing more than an isolated outpost surrounded by hostiles but easy to located as it is split in two by the main road.

As a result of its isolating environment supplies are constantly in short supply. This is reflected in the fact that there is only one place to repair, with the Blacksmith Frances. The only other type of training offered in this town is by the Master Chef Mouldier. However it does have a faction quartermaster Provisioner Vredigar who (if you have the proper reputation) can be convinced to part with some of his goods for the right price.

In total this faction offers 46 quests that give reputation. Each of these quests will grant you around 1000 rep EACH making it one of the quickest to grind up with the largest pay out. While the majority of these quests are either grinding or fetch and deliver there are two repeatable ones as well, More Rotting Hearts and More Spinal Dust.

One quest is considered an almost MUST DO as it will get you to exalted no matter where you are on the faction reputation grind. The Traitor's Destruction.While this is a group quest the average level 20 CAN solo him if they are smart about how they pull and clear the area around him FIRST. The reward for this quest makes it quite worth the effort to someone leveling.

All in all the vast majority of players can easily hit exalted with this faction by level 20.
Happy Questing!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hunger for Blood Nerfed

Well we all said it wouldn't last and sure enough...HOT FIX NERF.
After evaluating damage dealt in instances and PvP over the last two days, we are going to deploy three changes. There could always be more along the way. These hotfixes should hit sometime today (Dec 10).

Hunger for Blood now increases damage by 10% instead of 15%. We wanted to increase Assassination rogue damage, and we were succesful, but we overshot the mark. We buffed Hunger for Blood back when Assassination needed a damage boost, so we're more than happy that this talent won't account for such a huge dps increase. Because of the nature of hotfixes, it is unlikely the tooltip will change to 10% right away.
He then goes on to talk about Scourge Strike and Rolling Corruptions but we don't really care about THEM here.  What I DID find interesting is how he ends his post
Ideally, we'd rather make changes while we're still in PTR before a patch goes live, but in the end we'd rather make changes than allow something imbalanced to continue just because we didn't change it pre-patch. To the community's credit, some players predicted these issues might become a problem. We appreciate the feedback as always, even if we don't always immediately make changes suggested by the community.
Lead Systems Designer
Now I didn't of course quote ALL that he said you can see it all here if you really wish. Personally I don't know how I want to handle it. I just made all the changes to Mute, reset my UI etc. thinking this would last a LITTLE bit longer. But I think I may just pick up Combat Hack and Slash as my off spec and run with it, then do a comparison of the two sets of numbers.

While I know some people REALLY like Mute, and yeah the numbers you can get in raids ARE pretty amazing I just don't care for the lack of mobility with it. Especially when running 5 man heroics like I have been trying to do with the New LFG system. The majority of us are SO over geared for the instances that you never have enough time to get energy regen before the mobs are down making it MUCH more difficult to keep HfB up and since I keep ending up needing to keep my OWN bleed effects on things that just adds to the hassle.

All that said, after putting this much effort into it I am not quite ready to just "throw in the towel" on it yet. I'm just going to have to break down and give up my Pvp spec for a bit while I see how these two play out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Know Your Rogue Lore: Yili

With Patch 3.3 hitting I couldn't pass up the chance to look at one of our NEWEST rogue lore introductions. Yili is going to be VERY important to all of the Alliance raiders as she serves the important function of being our gear vendor. But who is she and what do we know about her?

A gnome rogue she proved herself in the Argent Crusade Tournament to become part of the elite strike team going into Ice Crown Citadel called The Ashen Verdict. Lead by none other than such greats as Tirion Fordring and Darion Mograine the group is also joined by Muradin Bronzebeard.

Due to her diminutive size it is easy to miss Yili when you enter the Light's Hammer section of Ice Crown Citadel. She is located at the VERY end of a line of vendors on the right hand side platform as you enter the instance. She is dressed in the Tier 10 armor with Steel Bladebreaker in her left hand but her MAIN hand weapon is a CASTER dagger of all things the Blade of Tarasque (thank you Kryssa for identifying that for me!) Why? No clue.

Just as with previous patches gear can be purchased with emblems, the price is Emblems of Frost. However there is a difference this time around. To upgrade your piece you need to have cleared the IC on Normal FIRST before you gain access to the Heroic instance encounters. Then the final boss of each wing drops a token which can be used to get the upgraded gear. So while the pieces might cost you a bit you should get to use it for a while before you are trading it out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WoW Year Review Meme

Eviscerate over at Evisceratespam tagged me with this Meme, A year in review. Since it came with the recommendation that I "Go Go Go" on it I suppose I need to get moving!

The Instructions are as follows:

Please leave a link to your meme post in the comments here. Please tag 5 other folks to complete the meme and copy these instructions and the questions into your blog with your answers.

What did you do in the World of Warcraft in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I started collecting Mounts. Having the Time Lost Proto Drake dive bomb you is a GREAT motivator!

What was your favorite new place that you visited?
Ulduar. As much as that instance was difficult and yeah the trash could eat you alive it was BEAUTIFUL and full of lore...the scale of it even now takes my breath away every time I enter it.

What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
One of those keypads like my hubby the time Christmas rolls around each year my fingerprints are literally embossed on my  keybindings and you can't even SEE what the letters were anymore so I end up replacing my keyboard instead.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
The one that ment the MOST to me (and it isn't even strickly an ACHIEVEMENT) was reaching exalted with Ravenholdt Manor. Silly I know but something I had been working on for a while.Meant more to me personally than even getting my Loremaster Title.

What was your biggest failure?
Hitting Killing Spree on Thaddius and wiping half the raid...sigh...but eventually I re trained my fingers.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Hearing about the Cataclysm. I know it will be a while until it comes but to have the whole Old World revamped, Deathwing brought in as a final boss, something FINALLY done with Graymane got me SO giddy and I STILL am about it.

What do you wish you’d done less of?
Dailys....sigh....I do WAY to many Dailys....Yeah the cash is great but BOY does it get repetitive.

What was your favorite WoW blog or podcast?
Since I am fairly new to blogging (yes NOOB) I don't know if I would say this was my FAVORITE but certainly one of the most USEFUL blogs I read this past year. It was a guest post done by Matticus over on Zemalf's Blog. It was called "How to Build a Super Popular Warcraft Blog from Scratch". Now I certainly am not aiming to do that but the tips contained in it were REALLY helpful and it was nice to see what I was doing RIGHT and what I could improve as a blogger.

Tell us a valuable WoW lesson you learned in 2009.
To prioritize. This year more than in the past I have really been doing that. Rather than trying to force myself to do EVERYTHING and burn out I have just chosen to focus on a few things at a time. It has made the game over all more enjoyable. Any time I get bored with something I can just shift my focus to something else, there are SO MANY options. But it has given me the chance to really make sure that I keep the things that are TRULY important, my family, my REAL life at the forefront.

So Tag! Therigwin, Enok, Lunas, Noisy, and Ril!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rep: The Scale of the Sands

I errored last week and posted the Ashtongue Deathsworn when I meant to post this one. Sorry they are out of order.

Hidden down a long tunnel in the Caverns of Time is the entrance to the Battle for Hyjal Summit. Here a secretive sub group of the Keepers of Time lead by none other than Nozdormu's Prime Mate Soridormi. Called The Scale of the Sands  work to protect not only that time line but the World Tree itself from the invasion of the Legion. Of all the Bronze Dragon factions this is by far the SMALLEST containing only four members, beyond Soridormi there are only Arazmodu, Informi, and Tydormu.

Until patch 2.4 you needed to obtain friendly reputation with this faction via the attunement quest before you would be able to enter the instance. This is no longer the case. In addition to this before patch 2.2 only the BOSSES gave reputation, after that patch trash ALSO rewarded it making achieving exalted reputation with this faction the simple matter of no more than an average of six full clears of the instance. (This is at current levels, actual reputation amounts given have varied over time.)

The Battle for Mt Hyjal is an interesting instance in that once you enter you have to be VERY careful as it is difficult to leave. However the majority of the encounters are triggered by speaking to a specific NPC so players could generally enter and explore without fear of triggering the fights. Unlike in the case of Old Hillsbrad and Black Morass there is no evidence of tampering with this time line so players questioned WHY they were there only to later have Blizzard sheepishly acknowledge...because it was COOL and the designers just WANTED to do it. Those familiar with this battle from Warcraft III will note it differs slightly in that Kaz'rogal is now present.

As was the common practice in Burning Crusade this faction gave a Ring as you progressed up through the reputation ranks that was considered one of the best in the game at the time. You could chose the best for your particular class specifications at the start and then once you reached exalted switch to another if you so desired for a price. Beyond the ring and the attunement quest this faction has NO other quests for it.

Before the introduction of the Isle of Quel'Danas reputation with the Scales of the Sand was the ONLY way for Jewelcrafters to get a hold of ANY of the epic quality recipes. In addition there were two types of  EPIC ammo the Timeless Arrow and the Timeless Shell made available when you reached Honored. Hunters EVERYWHERE drooled over them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Time has come

The gray mists of morning light slowly made their way across the tournament grounds. Biting wind shook the tent walls and caused the various pendants and banners to give off sharp snaps as they whipped in its embrace. Cream colored Hippogryphs and their riders circled in the air above keeping watch in the hostile environment.

A lone figure emerged from the stables and made its way quickly across the hard packed snow. Watchfully eyes made note of its progress from the coliseum ramparts, weapons at ready but the figure made no threatening moves, just pulled its well worn cloak tighter as it faced off against the swirling snow. Stopping briefly before the Argent Crusade tent the figure seemed to strain to hear the muffled voices emanating from within. The guards on both sides of the door monitored closely, prepared to rebuff entrance. While the cloak had obviously seen better days the leather boots firmly planted in the snow and leggings tucked into them were of recent design amongst the Alliance forces giving the guards pause. Apparently satisfied the figure raised one gloved hand in greeting, nodded then moved off towards a smaller tent not far off disappearing into its entrance like a shadow.

Once inside Daraia pulled back her hood but the dim interior was little warmer than the wind swept landscape she had just left. Placing her helm on a nearby armor rack she picked up a coal filled bucked and began filling the brazer. Soon the glowing coals sprung to flame filling the area with light and warmth. Once that task was completed she turned to survey the paper strewn table. Grimacing slightly Daraia took a seat and began sorting, creating neat piles out of the chaos.
The sound of the tent flap being raised caused her to lift her head from her task. Large blue eyes greeted her as Therigwin’s squire entered baring a large tray.

“OH! Commander Daraia! Thank you!” A grin split his face as he glanced around the now cosy and much neater tent. “I was just going to try to do all of that.” Hurrying over he placed the tray down on a cleared section of the table.

  “Are they almost done then?” Daraia ask, eyes once again scanning the various parchments before delegating them to a pile.

“Yes Ma’am. Sir Therigwin sent me here to relight the blazer and bring breakfast. He said he would be following shortly.”

“Good. Well, since those tasks are completed and I know you have been up since before dawn why don’t you go join the other squires? Wrap YOURSELF around some breakfast and get some sleep. My husband is going to need to take care of some other duties today. That should keep him busy for most of the morning so he shouldn’t need you again until this afternoon.”

“Yes Ma’am. I will put the drinks near the fire to warm then do just that.”

Nodding absently Daraia continued to sort, the table now almost cleared of its earlier clutter.

The sounds of someone in plate armor approaching the tent soon reached both the squire and Daraia’s ears. Scampering quickly the squire managed to have the tent flap opened just as Therigwin arrived.

“Good Lad!” Therigwin boomed, dropping a gauntleted hand down to ruffle the boy’s hair. Eyes alighting on his wife seated at his desk Therigwin sent the boy off with another quick pat. “You really need to replace that cloak Love.” Therigwin continued, “You have had it since well before our campaign on Ulduar.”
Snorting Daraia got up and came to help him remove his own cloak, helm and weapons. “I would if we ever got any in the supplies we request. But so far I have only seen one and someone else was in even more need of it than me.” Therigwin grimaced as he considered that piece of information. “But enough about my cloak, Tirion pulled you all in for a meeting this morning and I saw Darion arrive as well so am I right in assuming we will finally be moving against Ice Crown Citadel soon?”

“It certainly is looking that way. My orders are to let Tirion know who all we have available to participate in the assault after looking at their performance in the trials.” Together the two removed the covers on the breakfast tray and settled down to eat. “So my little organizer, where do we stand? How are we looking as we prepare for the next phase in Tirion’s plan.?”

Sighing, Daraia let her head fall back, hands firmly clutching her steaming mug before replying. “While I understand WHY Tirion came up with this silly Darkmoon faire like event in Northrend, it has had both a positive and negative impact on us directly.

First Fizzlebang’s miscalculation took out the majority of our warlocks and many of the mages. Noddlee and Llano have been off dealing with Violet Citadel business ever since so other than a few brief incidents when she gets a chance to pop in and report we haven’t seen either of them in months. Have to say I miss them both greatly.

Second, with Holysmoke still out with injuries from that same incident and Enok deciding to retire we have a lot of young blood now working to fill those positions. We still are not certain what demands Darion may make of his Deathknights. For Alador and Reibisch especially this is even more personal than for the rest of us.

Over all that is what we are looking at, many of our veterans are down with injuries or have been out right killed these past months. We have some really talented new blood coming in of varying degrees of expertise. The biggest issue is getting them all to learn to work together and trust one another. Add to that the difficulties we have in getting the RIGHT supplies way up here and it is slowing us down a bit. Hopefully that will be corrected shortly but everyone is working hard to do the best they can with what they have....” glancing down she flicked her own cloak at him “even if it MAY be more well worn than we would prefer.”

Waving her hand towards the desk she continued. “The top few papers on your right are Schaikera and Syyand’s report giving their assessment of the various injured troopers and when they think they will be able to report for duty. The forms in the center stack give you a complete run down on where everyone is gear wise according to Banker. The final stack is a collection of reports from all the section leaders giving their assessments of each of the troopers under their jurisdictions. So if you take all that information together you should be able to come up with your list for Tirion.”

Nodding Therigwin looked over the neatly stacked pages. “That is all we can ask for at this point. They are good people everyone of them. It is an honor to lead them but I’m concerned that they may not bind together in time.”

“All we can do is try my love. You lead them as best you can and the up coming battles themselves will do more to refine them into a team.”

“What about you? Do you have any new commissions coming in from SI:7? I know you stepped down but that doesn’t mean they don’t still ask you to do side jobs for them.” Therigwin questioned as he surveyed the various reports.

“You know how I have never been comfortable with the conclusion of the investigation following Wrathgate and the Battle for the Undercity in regards to Bolvar. Mathais has finally given me approval to look into the matter more closely. But I need to keep it quiet as he doesn’t want word to get back to the King that we may have accidently abandoned a man on the field, at least until I have more solid information.

But that is not all. While conducting my preliminary scouting of the Ice Crown Citadel for the Ashen Verdict I stumbled across something that...well I am not quite sure how to take it.” Reaching into her shoulder pouch Daraia pulled out a small scrap of parchment and handed it across to Therigwin. Taking the stained and torn piece he could decipher but a single line: Please Help Me.

“I don’t understand.”

“I found that hidden in a piece of armor during my investigation regarding routes into Ice Crown Citadel. Remember I am a Grandmaster Inscriptionist. One of the things you learn with that is to take note of an individuals hand writing. It tells you a lot about the person. Well I was leader of this company for three years. During that time I saw a lot of correspondence that needed to be forwarded on to specific troops. That handwriting matches packages I have seen that came from Enok’s wife. In addition to that the armor piece I found matches a set I know Enok had custom crafted for her as a Winter Veil gift shortly before her death.

Unfortunately with Noddlee and Llano away I wasn’t sure who to have look at it to see if they could date it. I ended up taking it to Miep. He has shown a lot of promise and despite being a gnome seems to know when I need him to take things seriously. I didn’t tell him anything about it other than I wanted to know if he could give me a general idea as to when it was written.

“What did he have to say?”

“This is where it gets interesting. Miep was more than happy to help and assured me that he could easily do as I requested. He also of his own violation asked if I had discovered anything else WITH the note. Rather reluctantly I admitted I had and allowed him to see the wrist guard as well. According to Miep the letter seems to be no more than a few days old, a week at most and he was SOME HOW able to determine that whoever had last worn the armor piece was still alive. Not in the best of shape mind you but alive.”

Therigwin just stared at Daraia. “Are you trying to tell me that you not only think that Bolvar is alive but Enok’s late wife as well?”

Leaning forward Daraia continued. “I don’t really know WHAT to think. This came completely out of the blue. But I do think that Enok needs to know about it. Miep still has the wrist guard attempting to get as much information as he can from it.”

“I need to send Justin to Stormwind during our next supply run.” Therigwin tapped his desk absently as he thought about what Daraia had just shared with him. “While it would be preferable to send an old comrade that isn’t an option at the moment. Even though Justin may not know Enok personally I think he is strong enough personality wise to make sure Enok will at least hear what he has to say.”

“So you think I should send him our findings?”

“Yes, why don’t you get every last bit of information you can with Miep then find Justin and debrief him. After that we need to focus our efforts on preparing for the assault.”

“So this is it then. The time for us to move against Ice Crown is finally upon us.” Together the two stepped out of the tent and into the morning light.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rogue Loot 3.3

These lists are not in any way conclusive but what has been discovered so far.

The Frozen Hall is broken into three separate instances (think Scarlet Monastery) but similar to Caverns of Time's Old Hillsbrad to Black Morass progression you have to complete them in a certain order. (At least the first time you do it.) Progression is as follows: you begin in the Forge of Souls with either Lady Proudmore (Alliance) or Lady Sylvanas (Horde) as your guide. This instance only contains two bosses, Bronjahm the Godfather of Souls and the Devourer of Souls.

After completing the Forge of Souls you are ported to the second wing, the Pit of Saron. From now on you will be able to port directly to the Pit whenever you desire from the portal room. Here again you meet up with either of the ladies and continue on for the three boss fight encounters this instance has to offer. The first is Forgemaster Garfost, followed by a SET of bosses Ick & Krick then concluding with Scourgelord Tyrannus.While you encounter Tyrannus soon after you enter the instance you need to complete the others before you will be able to face him.

Once you are rescued from Sindragosa at the end of Pit of Saron you can move on to the final wing of the Frozen Halls, the Lich King's private quarters. Called the Halls of Reflection it is very similar to Black Morass in how the fight goes, waves of adds with three boss encounters. The first is with Falric, the second Marwyn and then finally the Lich King himself.

From the Normal Ice Crown Citadel Dungeon: The Frozen Hall will come the following items that rogues might find useful:

Accursed Crawling Cape -Drops off final boss in Forge of Souls
Bewildering Shoulderpads- Drops off first boss in Forge of Souls
Carpal Tunnelers - Drops off second boss in Halls of Reflection
Crypt Fiend Slayer - Bow from the chest you receive after completing Halls of Reflection successfully.
Flayer's Black Belt - Drops off first boss in Pit of Saron
Ghoulslicer - Main hand Sword drops off first boss in Halls of Reflection
Hate-Forged Cleaver - Main hand Axe from the chest you receive after completing Halls of Reflection
Heartshiver - Main hand Dagger off of final boss in Forge of Souls
Krick's Beetle Stabber - Off hand dagger from the second set of bosses in Pit of Saron
Rimebane Riffle - Gun from final boss in Pit of Saron
Ring of Carnelian - Drops from first boss in Pit of Saron
Shaggy Wyrmleather Leggings - Drops off the final boss in Pit of Saron

From the Heroic version we can expect to discover the following items:
Band of Stained Souls - Ring from final boss in Pit of Saron
Barbed Ymirheim Choker - Necklace from the first boss in Pit of Saron
Black Icicle - Main hand mace from completing Halls of Reflection
Blighted Leather Footpads - Again from completing Halls of Reflection
Blood Weeper - Main hand dagger from second boss in Forge of Souls
Chewed Leather Wristguards - Drops off the second set of bosses in Pit of Saron
Choking Hauberk - Comes from the second boss in Halls of Reflection
Felglacier Bolter - Crossbow from the second set of bosses in Pit of Saron
Fleshwork Leggings - Drops from final boss in Pit of Saron
Frayed Scoundrel's Cap - Comes from the final boss in Forge of Souls
Liar's Tongue - Off hand sword from chest at completing the Halls of Reflection
Needle-Encrusted Scorpion - Trinket from final boss in Forge of Souls
Nighttime - Main hand axe from first boss in Forge of Souls
Papa's Brand New Knife - Throwing weapon from first boss in Forge of Souls
Seven-Fingered Claws - Fist weapon Main hand from TRASH in Forge of Souls
Spaulders of Black Betrayal - Comes from the first boss in Halls of Reflection
Unsharpened Ice Razor - Off hand Dagger TRASH drop from Pit of Saron

The Raid portion of Ice Crown Citadel will be released in five separate sections (think Sunwell) but this time the opening of each is controlled by Blizzard rather than the efforts of a server as a whole.

The first wing is called The Lower Spire and contains four boss encounters. Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, the much discussed Gunship Battle, with Deathbringer Saurfang concluding this wing. The Plagueworks contain three boss encounters, Festergut, Rotface and Professor Putricide. The third wing is called the Crimson Hall but only contains two boss encounters but the first is actually a group of three, the Blood Prince Council is made up of Prince Keleseth, Prince Taldaram and Prince Valanar. The final boss of this wing is Blood-Queen Lana'thel. Frostwing Hall again only contains two boss encounters, Valithria Dreamwalker (which is a unique fight in that you are actually attempting to HEAL her rather than KILL her) and Sindragosa. The final wing is none other than the Frozen Throne itself with only The Lich King as an encounter.

Like The Trial of the Crusader raid Ice Crown has three levels of gear which can be obtained from Normal 10 man raid encounters, Heroic 10 man/Normal 25 man Raids or Heroic 25 man. What is DIFFERENT is that this time rather than having separate lock outs for each the Raid leader can switch from Normal to Heroic WITHIN the encounter thereby only effecting the specific encounter and loot table. This Raid will also drop a new type of emblem called the Emblem of Frost. Like previously these can also be obtained by doing a daily dungeon or by the newly implemented weekly raid quests.

Gear purchasable with Emblems of the Frost:
Cat Burglar's Grips 
Herkuml War Token - Trinket
Recovered Scarlet Onslaught Cape
Shadow Seeker's Tunic
Shrapnel Star - Throwing weapon
Vengeful Noose - Necklace

Also like Karazhan there are quest/reputation rewards you can achieve for completing the instance from a new faction called the Ashen Verdict. These will include rings as well as craft patterns. The Ring that rogues will be going after is the Ashen Band of Vengeance.

There is also the much discussed Quel'Delar quest chain which contains such rewards as the Cudgel of Furious Justice

Normal 10 man drops the following items:

Bone Warden's Splitter -  Off hand Axe from first boss in the Lower Spire
Frost Giant's Cleaver - Main hand Axe from the Gunship Battle
Gutbuster - Main hand Mace from first boss in the second wing.
Plague-Soaked Leather Leggings - Again from the first boss of the second wing
Saurgang's Cold-Forged Band - Of course drops off the final boss of the Lower Spire
Scourge Stranglers - Shoulders from final boss of Lower Spire
Shadowblade's Battlegear - Obtainable with Emblems of the Frost
Shawl of the Nerubian Silk - Cloak from first boss in Lower Spire

Heroic 10 Man/Normal 25 drops the following items:

Band of the Colossus -  Comes from first boss in Lower Spire
Black Bruise - Fist weapon from first boss in Plagueworks wing
Bloodvenom Blade - Sword from final boss in Lower Spire
Deathbringer's Will - Trinket from final boss in Lowe Spire
Frost Giant's Cleaver - Axe from Gunship Battle HEROIC ONLY
Gangrenous Leggings - Drops from first boss in Plagueworks wing
Ikfirus's Sack of Wonder - Chest piece from Gunship Battle
Scourge Stranglers - Shoulders final boss in Plagueworks HEROIC ONLY
Scourgeborne Waraxe - From Gunship Battle
Shadowvault Slayer's Cloak - Gunship Battle
Stakethrower - Gun from final boss in the Crimson Hall on HEROIC ONLY
Wodin's Lucky Necklace - Trash drop

Heroic 25 will of course drop the very BEST gear, things that have been discovered so far are:

Bloodvenom Blade - Final boss in Lower Spire
Deathbringer's Will - Trinket off final boss in Lower Spire
Toskk's Maximized Wristguards -  Final Boss in Lower Spire

Newest Crafted Gear -
Bladeborn Leggings - Leatherworking drop pattern
Footpads of Impending Death - Leatherworking drop pattern

Of course we can not forget the newest upgrade to the Runed Band of the Kirin Tor.

So that is it, that is all we know of certain of so far. MMO Champion of course has data mined a whole lot more but as to where exactly those pieces may be located? That is still up in the air.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Patch 3.3

If some how you have missed all the chatter it is looking more and more like patch 3.3 will be implemented this coming Tuesday. So what does that mean for us as rogues? Well for once some BIG changes. I haven't mentioned them before because frankly I couldn't quite believe they would make it to the live servers but it appears that is just what is going to happen.

The patch notes themselves are deceptively simple:

  • Deadly Poison: In addition to its existing effects, when a rogue applies Deadly Poison to a target which has already reached the maximum number of applications, this will also trigger the poison which the rogue is using on his or her other weapon.

  • Dual Wield: Rogues now know this ability upon logging into the game at level 1.

  • Stealth: This ability no longer has multiple ranks. While active, the single rank of this ability (available at level 1) allows rogues to move at 70% movement speed.

  • Talents

  • Assassination

    • Improved Poisons: Bonus chance to trigger Deadly Poison from this talent increased.
    • Murder: This talent now provides a flat damage increase of 2/4% against all targets, instead of only targets which do not appear in Icecrown.

  • Subtlety

    • Preparation: The cooldown on this ability has been reduced to 8 minutes, down from 10 minutes.
    • Filthy Tricks: The cooldown reduction this talent provides for Preparation has been reduced to 1.5/3 minutes, down from 2.5/5 minutes.
    Two pieces of these changes have really caught the rogue population by storm.

    1. The changes to Deadly Poison.
    2. The changes to Improved Poisons in the Assassination Tree.

    Lets look at the Deadly Poison change first. If it goes live as written (and we have no reason to believe it won't) this is a buff to ALL the rogue trees and will cause ALL of us to be (for once) using the SAME poisons regardless of spec. That would be Instant on the Main hand and Deadly on the off. The reason for this is that no other poison gives out such high amounts of consistent damage as Instant there by most benefiting from the Deadly procs.

    So now lets look at the second change. Improved Poisons INCREASES the chance for the effect of Deadly Poison to take place. THIS IS HUGE.

    When these two changes first hit the Test realms and Assassination rogues began playing with it the difference in Dps was ASTRONOMICAL. To the point that Assassination's dps averaged 2000 points higher than THE NEXT LEADING CLASS. That's right. I am not just talking about over other rogue dps specs I am talking over other PURE DPS CLASSES. No one expected it to go live. For a single spec of a Dps class to have THAT huge an advantage over all others was inconceivable but is just what we are looking at.

    So what does this mean for us?

    If you thought being shot for Turkey Lurkey was bad it will be NOTHING compared to the general outcry of "Shoot any rogue you see on sight" these changes will invoke. While we may be designed to be the "premier dps class" that doesn't mean we should be the ONLY class pulling those kinds of numbers especially after having Blizzard say over and over this expansion "they like where rogue dps is at."

    For the rogue community itself it has caused issues as well. Before the differences between Assassination and Combat dps were fairly minimal. As a result you could truly play what you enjoyed and focus on whatever weapons happened to come your way. The versatility is one of the reasons Combat is SO popular. You can have three rogues all speced combat but one using maces, another swords and a third fists with minimal competition for weapons. (Something we as a class are VERY reliant on for our dps.) With these changes EVERYONE is going to need to pick up daggers. While the enhancement shammys may enjoy the influx of maces and fist weapons those swords will become shards or Hunter stat fodder. Rather disappointing when they JUST introduced an epic quest chain for a SWORD.

    Our standard specs are going to have to change as well. Assassination will now be sporting a 51/18/2 spec and those die hard combat rogues (or ones who don't happen to have the gear to switch) will be looking at something more like 20/51/0. While as a community rogues have over all rolled with the punches (I mean come on vanish has been broken for HOW long?) You would think that Blizzard would make a note of the fact that even WE are concerned with the direction these buffs are taking but according to Ghostcrawler this is SUPPOSE to be giving us more options. I don't see it, so far only two specs have come out as viable with these changes. TWO out of how many various options we had before? How is THIS giving us more versatility?

    Another thing to note with these changes, where before rupture was considered a stable in your rotation until the very highest of gear levels it is now going to be usurped. While this is nice in the simplification of rotations many are going to need look at re glyphing. The Tricks of the Trade glyph will now be replacing the Rupture glyph in common usage or perhaps Fan of Knives. Also where combat rogues could skimp by with out having reached Expertise and Poison cap this will also no longer the case. Their importance will be such that once again individuals may consider gemming or enchanting for it. (However with the implementation of the Triumph badges in all dungeons and LFG system it really should not be TO difficult to reach these caps quickly with just gear alone.)

    As for all the new gear that will be coming our way since the loot lists are still not complete I will save that for another day.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Know Your Rogue Lore: The Deathstalkers

    No rogue faction has been more impacted by the lore of Wrath of the Lich King than the one we are going to discuss today. (Yes, I would say that the impact on them is even greater than the impact on SI:7 and the Stormwind Assassins with the return of their king.)

    The Deathstalkers (also known as the Darkstalkers) are the assassin's guild for the Forsaken. However their primary function until after the Battle for the Undercity was to serve as elite guards for Varimathras, as well as performing a role similar to that of the Shattered Hand or SI:7 but with Varimathras directing their steps.

    These Rogues are some of the most highly trained and dangerous in all of Azeroth. I truly believe that one of the reasons you see SO MANY of the fan based videos about rogues featuring the Forsaken is because of the very thing that makes this group rightfully considered the most deadly of ALL rogue assassin organizations. Not only are their skills unparalleled due to two lifetimes of experience, but because they are undead they have no need for such mundane considerations as eating, drinking, resting, or even to breath air. This allows them to pursue their goals without interruption. As former scourge who have won their freedom their individual willpower is almost unmatched.

    Unlike the Shattered Hand, which is fairly unknown to all but rogues, the average Horde player WILL hear about the Deathstalkers. Like the Alliance with SI:7 non rogue players are able to obtain some quests which deal with this particular group at several different levels. Most notably the one that sends players into Shadowfang keep. However as the majority of these quests deal with entering dungeons or facing elites it is easy for others to miss them if they are not working on their Loremaster achievement.

    A number of the quests dealing with this particular group are Forsaken Rogue ONLY as they deal specifically with JOINING the Deathstalkers and this is a undead only organization. If some how you missed doing this chain while leveling and decided to go back later (say to work on your Loremaster) there was one glaring issue. After the events of the Battle for the Undercity Varimathras is no longer there. So with the introduction of patch 3.3 Blizzard will be introducing a fix that will allow individuals to turn all of the old Varimathras quests into Bragor Bloodfist.

    With Varimathras proven to be a traitor to the Forsaken and out of the picture, the fate of the Deathstalkers is left hanging. Many question where their ultimate loyalty lay as well. Do they support Sylvanas, the Horde or are they just biding their time with some other goal in mind? This line of thinking comes purely from speculation on the origination of the Deathstalkers themselves.

    Some feel that the ORIGINAL Deathstalkers are the remnants of the thieves and assassins once lead by Blackthorn. If this is the case then they certainly would have no love for Sylvanas herself and their dedication to Varimathras would take on a whole new level of meaning. Again this is all purely speculation as no one knows for certain what became of Blackthorn after WarCraft 3 and he and his troops are not mentioned anywhere in the current game.

    For now once players leave the old world they fall into the realm of legend. How they will be effected with the changes in the upcoming Cataclysm expansion will be very interesting to see.