Sunday, February 28, 2010

World of Warcraft Mag Vol. 1

So yesterday it finally arrived, and the hubby who was sick again snatched it out of my greedy hands. I am beginning to notice a pattern of illness when things we BOTH want to read show up. Unlike the hubby who just skimmed it I spent today reading it from cover to cover. Does it hold up to the tantalizing tease we got a couple of months ago? In a word, yes.

As I anticipated the magazine actually is more like a soft cover book packed full of artwork and general information. While some of the articles are already dated (the ones dealing with Crusader's Coliseum and weapon swapping for example) the vast majority are generic enough to hold with time. They discuss everything to Deathwing's back story to general tactics for a couple of battlegrounds as well as arena.

There were a couple of things about the magazine I didn't care for. A picture of "Pengu" for the companion pets article was actually a picture of Mr.Chilly (nit picky I know but it bugged me). The other thing was the silver foil ink they used throughout. While it looks nice it was a little difficult to read in lower light, especially when the words were in white on top of it. Who wrote each article is not given anywhere as well. They have pictures of players along with their contributions but while at the beginning they list the writers, you have no idea who had input on which articles. Are they deal breakers? No, not really.

So is it worth $20 an issue? The price still seems a little steep to me. Cover to cover it is 144 pages in length not including the poster in the middle. The artwork is of course breathtaking, including both official Blizzard works along with fan art. Over all the articles are well written (just wish I knew who wrote what). They obviously did their homework on getting player participation with contributions and the writers all play, they aren't just reporting. I will look forward to volume 2 and be thankful that the hubby purchased the subscription rather than me.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

If I were a Raid Boss

I started this post for the shared topic for Blog Azeroth almost three weeks ago, but due to real life hassles was never able to finish it the way I wanted to. Since I enjoyed writing it so much I finally decided if I didn't just post what I had it would go the way of many others and just get deleted. The question was in essence: If you were a raid boss what kind would you be? An easy loot farm or a guild breaker? What abilities would you have and of course what loot would you drop?

I thought about the things I enjoyed having as part of an the suppression room in Blackwing Lair or the traps scattered about Icecrown Citadel.  In addition to that every mind control boss I have ever dealt with and the screams of my guild mates when Daraia begins stun locking them before mowing them down....yes...these were the things that HAD to be included when determining the type of raid boss she would be.

I just couldn't have Daraia be "evil". Suddenly deciding she wanted to destroy or control all of Azeroth was just to out of character. So I am afraid she had to fall into the role of "Brainwashed Victim", something along the line of the Keepers from Ulduar. Daraia was more likely to be someone sent in advance to gather information then disappeared. When you discover her she is no longer in control of herself. Once you defeat and "free" her then she helps you by showing you how to get further into the instance via hidden passages as well as providing information about the other bosses. (Similar to the role Brann played in Ulduar.)

What about the instance itself? Something about old mansions left in ruin, draped in shadow and mystery just appeals to me. So the instance would need to be something along those lines, full of side rooms, stair cases and passages players would be unsure of, traps scattered EVERYWHERE. What types of traps? A variety, some that would slow your movement speed, some that would summons mobs, some that would close doors or send gates crashing down on you, separating party members until you located the release. The idea would be to make the journey TO the boss as much a part of the adventure as the boss encounter itself.

What about the fight itself? It would be divided into two phases. At the beginning she would be fighting with her daggers before vanishing at 50% health to enter phase two. When she reemerges she would have switched to swords and reset her aggro. Poisons would also have to be evident through out ("Pooh clouds" as I call them, as I am known for yelling at guild mates to "get out of the POOH!") Tanks would need to be constantly repositioning as Daraia would continuously be attempting to get BEHIND them while attacking.


Dismantle - Disarms and/or removes all carried equipment from her main target for 10 seconds. May occur every minute.

Stun lock - A physical move which incapacitates a random party member in melee range for approximately 10 seconds.

Fan of Knives - During phase one sprays all players within a 10 yard radius with 1000 physical damage, inflicts them with a dispellable damage over time poison of 1000 damage per second. In phase two the physical damage increases to 1500 damage.

Poison Ink - 30 yard Missile which slows movement speed and places a 1000 dispellable damage over time poison on players caught in the 5 yard spray.

Vanish - Steps into the shadows, resetting aggro, occurs when she reaches 50% health.

Killing Spree - During phase two every minute she will step into the shadows to deal five 1000 to 3000 damage blows every .5 seconds in a 10 yard radius before returning to her primary target.

Quotes -
Aggro -
"Focus up! Let the fun begin!"

Vanish -
"Now where did I put those...."

Killing Player -
"One more down."
"For shame, you nicked my weapon."
"You really should have been more careful."

Wipe -
"Such a disappointment."

Defeat -
"You've done it! I'm myself again, Thank you!"

Loot -
I thought about a mount but it would have to be black and to make sense it couldn't be more than a recolored copy of something I already had so that got rejected in favor of a 32 slot Black Bag of Tricks. Before I took up inscription my nick name in raids was "The Pack Mule" since I was usually the only one with any bag space.

Weapons, a fast dagger is a MUST along with a nice SLOW sword with high damage. Something reminiscent of the weapons from ToC in look. I can't stand swords that look like they could fall apart if you blew on them to hard or daggers that more closely resemble misshapen bones than a means of inflicting harm.

Since all the drops can't be for rogues I figure a nice Book of Blackmail as an off hand for the healers, and a wand called The Golden Quill as a nod to Dar's inscription for the dps casters. The book just seems fitting as I don't know a healer who hasn't at one time or another blackmailed SOMEONE with the threat "behave or you won't get any heals from me." I would LOVE IT if the wand could look like a huge yellow feather, to have arcane magic coming out of something like just makes me smile.

For the tanks a blue and black cloak called Royal Cloak of Ravenholdt as a testament to Daraia's heritage. Since tanks are always complaining there are never enough tanking cloaks out there and the Ravenholdt colors of blue and black look cool no mater what class of tank you play.

Daraia's Loot Chest would not be complete with out one specific item. The Magic Mirror, a trinket that would allow you to look like anyone you chose for 10 minutes with a 1 hour cool down. I LOVE these types of items and this would be my dream one.

So that is the type of Raid Boss I think Dar would be. So what do you think? Does it sound like a fun fight to you or the type of boss who would earn "female dog" nicknames?

Friday, February 26, 2010


Whenever a new WarCraft novel comes out I am usually pretty excited. Then Malfurion Stormrage was announced as the next subject which many of us took to mean that OF COURSE the next expansion would be about the Emerald Dream, we have since discovered this is not the case. So what could ole Malfurion have to do with what was coming up? How would this new novel effect the game we play?

Richard Knaak is not one of Blizzards more popular writers for a variety of reason. However he has been instrumental in shaping much of the lore we are now guided by in game. Before you sit down to read his latest offering I would strongly urge you to pick up War of the Ancients and read them FIRST. The reason is that Knaak uses a great many of the characters first introduced in those books and assumes you will already be familiar with them when reading this one. This can lead to a great deal of confusion.

The book itself has a variety of issues. The flow is rather disjointed as he is constantly shifting from subject to subject as well as character to character within each chapter. What is interesting is what he DOES with those characters. It seems that self flagellation is something he really enjoys as almost EVERY character at one point or another wastes time brow beating themselves over SOMETHING. The book is FILLED with cameos, many of which are fillers rather than adding to the story in any way. Sadly some of the cameos are more enjoyable that the main characters who are rather flat.

From a lore perspective the ultimate enemy who is introduced only vaguely and then near the very END of the book came as no great surprise. It is this that I think will translate into the rest of the game. The rest of the book? Frankly I am worried it will be like when Varian was introduced. That suddenly Malfurion will appear "in game" along with all the relationships he has with various faction leaders with little to no explanation for those who only play the on line game. While the book DOES answer some questions (such as Fandral Staghelms obsession with Morrowgrain) since it relies so much on the reader having previous knowledge of what is going on anyone who reads it with out that base knowledge may finish more confused than enlightened.

So is it worth picking up? If you want a better understanding of the lore that will be happening "behind the scenes" of Cataclysm then yes. However you could also get by fairly well with just a inclusive summery from someone else who read the book. The actions that take place in this novel are centered in present time. Arthas is defeated but the Cataclysm has not yet broken across an unsuspecting Azeroth. Hints of what are to come are not even mentioned save the introduction of what I suspect will be one of our "final raid bosses" at some point.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One year

It is hard to believe I have been at this for a full year now, the time sure has flown. Thank you all for joining me alone my stumbling journey.
I got into blogging at the urging of a guild mate who ironically no longer plays WoW or Blogs. I have to admit I was extremely reluctant at first. Reason being I know my own perfectionism and frankly until this guild mate started harping on me I really didn't know ANYTHING about blogs or the entire blogging community. It has been a wonderful and informative revelation.

When I started out I was just going to focus on things that I normally talked about on my guild's website since that was what had been the catalyst for all this. From there it has kinda evolved into just writing about whatever interests me...I was a good little blogger and have been SLOWLY working my way through the various posts about "what every blog should have". Some of those things I am still attempting to implement. (Yeah that About Me thingy....someday I might actually get one up there.) Others I dutifully added and then have NO CLUE how to utilize. (That hit counter tracker thing that I haven't looked at since I put it on.)

So far "writers block" has not been an issue, I have a TON of ideas, just have to keep fighting real life for time to write. I realized that I prefer to write my posts the day I am going to post them rather than in advance. While there ARE times I write ahead of time the majority of the time I find I end up just deleting the drafts. Doing a major renovation on your home while attempting to keep up a steady blogging schedule has been a challenge. I haven't been as happy with the over all out come as I can't dedicate as much time to them as I wish.

So what does the next year hold? Hopefully I will continue to improve. I will FINALLY register on the Twisted Nether...sometime anyway. Continue to tinker with the over all layout of the blog as I am not 100% satisfied with it. (I have a few more features I am considering once the renovations on the house are done.) Consider this an invitation to join me as we anxiously await Cataclysm and all that it has to offer.

Know Your Rogue Lore: The Hidden Circle

It has been a while since we have looked at any of the rogue organizations so lets look at The Hidden Circle, a group whom really only Dwarf and Gnome rogues will be familiar with. Lead by Hulfdan Blackbeard, a rogue trainer and quest giver they are rather more concerned with lining their own pockets than working with others for the betterment of the Alliance or even their own factions. They make their home in the basement of a house in the Forlorn Cavern which is somewhat stereotypical when you consider what they are.

The Hidden Circle represents a sort of "thieves guild" for rogues within the World of Warcraft.  While SI:7 is more about spying and the Deathstalkers assassinations, the Hidden Circle are the sticky fingered bunch that are not willing to live on just a government paycheck. In fact they feel that King Bronzebeard needs to be a little more sharing in his handling of gem mining profits specifically. Since they acknowledge that the King is a busy individual, they have assumed the responsibility of distributing that wealth along lines more in keeping with their preferences by selectively removing a few pieces here and there.

When rogue players first encounter this group around level 10 they are sent off to retrieve a report from Onin MacHammer near Gnomergon. From there you just play fed ex back to Hulfdan who promptly pays you off then kicks you out. You won't be gone to long though, at level 16 Hulfdan calls you back because "King Stinkbeard" as he calls him, being well aware of the Hidden Circle's agenda, decides he has had enough and does a raid, rounding up some of our "sticky fingered" friends. At this point Hulfdan knows he needs help and you get sent off AGAIN but this time into the hands of SI:7.

Contact with the Hidden Circle other than for getting training pretty much ends at that point until you reach level 50, at that point, if you haven't gotten it already from another rogue trainer they will direct you to Ravenholdt Manor.

For role playing purposes the Hidden Circle is a Dwarf or Gnome rogues dream. A great deal of fun can be had with this specific faction. A friend of mine use them as part of the back story for his gnome rogue. The idea was that she was fascinated by the sneaky sneak aspects of rogues but her parents had run ins with the "thieve" side of the Hidden Circle and as a result declared that ALL rogues were nothing more than thieves. Because of this prejudice she had to practice her skills "on the sly" until she was able to locate a mentor whom her parent's were willing to acknowledge was NOT a thief. Another friend of mine who can not go by a humanoid without attempting to pick pocket from it had his character a part of the organization.  Don't be afraid to use your imagination.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rep: The Kalu'ak

The Kalu'ak are actually a faction of the Tuskarr even though most players will refer to them AS the "Tuskarr". While they ARE a neutral faction they most closely relate to the Horde and are actually responsible for assisting them in the establishment of their bases in Northrend. At least this is the official lore NOW, however ORIGINALLY they were at War with the Taunka (the northern cousins to the Tauren) this was later quietly changed to having them constantly competing with the Kvaldir and a small number of Gorlocs who happen to live along the coast rather than in Solazar Basin.

Physically they resemble walruses and have a society completely devoted to earning a living off the near by ocean. As fisherman they are unparalleled. Their dependence on the bounty of the waters seen in their construction and art. Despite their jovial looking appearance they are fierce fighters with a intense dedication to familial ties.

The average player will not be in Northrend long before their first encounter with this group as their settlements dot the cost line. However it IS easy to miss some of their more heavily populated areas as they prefer isolated coves. The three main settlements are Kaskala in the Borean Tundra, Kamagua in the Howling Fjord and Moa'ki in Dragonblight. These settlements are connected via flight paths as well as the neutral "turtle boat" ferry.

It is in those three locations that players will discover the repeatable daily quests which can be used to get this reputation to exalted. Beyond that there are 54 quests total which grant reputation for this faction. Unlike the majority of other early factions reputation can ONLY be earned via the quests, they do not make use of a tabard. One of the quests is slightly tricky as in order for players to gain access to "The Way to His Heart" in Howling Fjord is by FIRST completing the quest Swabbing' Soap over at Scalawag Point. (Another example of players inadvertently creating a problem they now get to fix.)

So why bother? The Tuskarr are skilled craftsman. (Not unusual when you consider they spend a great deal of time indoors during the more foul weather Northrend has to offer.) For lower level players some of the gear pieces they have to offer can be very handy while leveling. In addition to this they provide several craft recipes for Jewelcrafters, Leatherworkers and even Tailors. The reason most individuals grind this reputation is for the Epic fishing pole and the Penguin pet.


Now Pengu DID undergo a recent coloration change so that he more closely resembles the Beta pet Chilly.  The above picture shows BOTH of them, with Chilly on the left and Pengu on the right. With patch 3.3 Pengu now ALSO has blue eyes rather than the original red, however he still larger than Chilly was and has a darker face color.

Happy Grinding!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Drool The Griefer

I'm sure you all thought I had forgotten today. (No I hadn't but I was kinda busy demoing a wall in my bathroom so blog time got pushed back until REALLY late.)

Drool is another one of our favorite types of Rogue lore characters, a member of the Dalaran Player NPC gang. Yes, the Horde managed to have TWO rogue representatives, our protest is of course in the mail.

Drool has a uniquely colored Tier 6/Season 3 set which further sets him apart. (I personally like the look, but then black always DOES appeal to me on a rogue.) Of course he represents the classic rogue "pvp ganker" who spends the majority of his time doing nothing more than harassing others. However he is nothing but polite while wanders the streets of Dalaran checking out the various professions and banks before disappearing.

His name is derived from his lack of a lower jaw which causes him to drool at all times. Sadly he could not recall anything more from his former life, or if he does he chooses not to dwell on it, including his former name.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rep: The Sunreavers

There as been a great deal of confusion regarding this last faction of the Horde Expedition. Specifically who they are and how they came to be there. The Sunreavers are a group of Blood Elves who petitioned the Kirin Tor for the acceptance of the New Horde. This is HUGE as the Old Horde was responsible for almost completely destroying the city of Dalaran during the Second War. While the Kirin Tor and Dalaran specifically have attempted to remain neutral during the various conflicts that have plagued Azeroth that does not mean that they have remained uninvolved observers.  This dual citizenship conflict is most recently played out in the form of Archmage Aethas Sunreaver.

Archmage Sunreaver is a member of the Council of Six, the ruling body of the Kirin Tor. He took the position Prince Kael'thas abandoned following the destruction of Silvermoon City. It has not been an easy transition and his presence has not been welcomed by everyone, most notably his cousin Vereesa Windrunner, who happens to be the spouse of the Kirin Tor's present leader Rhonin. However he has persevered and though his efforts managed to establish a sanctuary for the Horde within Dalarn itself.  His supporters have taken the name "Sunreavers" to honor him and his tireless efforts. Another thing of note, at the beginning of the expansion Aethas was not wearing a tabard but that was later changed, while he still is affiliated with the Kirin Tor he wears the Sunreaver tabard.

Like their Silverwing counterparts players were teased at the beginning of the Wrath expansion with a faction bar but no way to gain reputation. This was rectified with patch 3.1 and the introduction of the Argent Tournament, here the Sunreavers play host to the Horde forces. Originally the plan was for the Tournament to take place in Crystalsong Forest just under Dalaran, as a result small bases were constructed in the zone complete with flight paths. However Blizzard soon realized that with all the activity taking place overhead it created to much lag so they relocated it to Icecrown.

Horde players can now gain reputation with the Sunreavers in two ways. By doing the daily quests located at the Argent Tournament or by running level 80 dungeons while not wearing a reputation granting tabard. Once you have reached Champion with at least one of the home factions as well as exalted with the Sunreavers additional daily quests will become available to you. More importantly players will be able to purchase the flying mount, land mount, pet and tabard for their various collections.

Happy Grinding!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I NEED this poster

Ok, maybe not NEED, but REALLY REALLY would LOVE to have this as a true poster for over my desk. The names of the various rogues (which the artist got from suggestions via twitter) are homage to all the HORRIBLE rogue names we detest yet are clever and funny. (Backsurgeon is my favorite.)

I am not sure how many of you have had the pleasure of checking out The Daily Blink, it is a  new web comic/blog that I hope sticks around. One word of caution, some of his stuff is not work friendly but over all I laugh out loud at just about every one he does. The format is as if you were looking at either posters or newspaper articles dealing with the daily happenings around Azeroth. Thankfully has added him to their Sunday Comics so hopefully he will get the support he needs to keep at it. Check him out and give him some love! I know he has become a permanent addition to my own comic list.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Renzik "The Shiv"

With all these seasonal events going on I have been working on my lowbies again which gets me to thinking about some of those interesting characters you run across while questing in those areas. One of them is Renzik "The Shiv". Unless you are a rogue most individuals will have absolutely no idea WHY there is a GOBLIN inside the Old Town of Stormwind. IF they happened to think of it at all they I am sure would assume he was there to be interrogated or sell information, the truth would most likely shock them to the core.

Renzik is Mathias Shaw's second in Command. Yes, you read that right, a GOBLIN is the second most powerful individual in the ALLIANCE's information gathering network. If you can get past your shock you can understand Shaw's reasoning. Renzik has connections both with the Hidden Circle in Ironforge as well as with specific rogues in Darnassus (since they have not seen a need to develop a specific rogue organization). Add to that his more intimate knowledge of  the goblin cartels and in this one individual Shaw has someone who can single handily point him in the right direction on useful contacts.

The thing you have to realize is that Mathias is not the one responsible for recruiting Renzik. Rather, Shaw was only able to build on the relationship his grandmother had already while he was a member of  the Stormwind Assassins. Shaw provided him with the type of opportunity that would send his fingers itching. Renzik, unlike other goblins is not interested in monetary gain as much as information. He is a top rate thief, it is to him that Alliance Rogues are set to join up with SI:7 and more specifically the all important lock picking. So to be at the center of all the action is just where he likes to be.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rep: Silver Covenant

The Silver Covenant is the last of the four members of the Alliance Vanguard we will be covering in our reputation series. When Wrath was first released this faction caused reputation buffs untold nightmares. The reason was that they were tired to an achievement requiring you to have exalted reputation with all four of the Alliance Vanguard factions but at that time there was absolutely NO WAY to gain reputation with Silver Covenant. Like vultures, players circled the small base in Crystalsong Forest (complete with flight path) attempting to discover the secret to gaining favor with these elusive guardians. Eventually the achievement was changed but the question still remained as to why we had a reputation bar for them to begin with.

That question was finally answered with Patch 3.1 and the introduction of the Argent Tournament. The Silver Covenant serves as a martial force within the Kirin Tor, lead by Veressa Windrunner, (wife of the Kirin Tor's Leader Rhonin and Sister to Lady Sylvanas.) Veressa and her followers look upon the blood elves as sick individuals so consumed by their desire for magic that they should not be trusted. (I am sure she was not pleased when Rhonin considered them as members of the Kirin Tor.) As a result they offer their services and support to the Alliance Vanguard, granting protection while in Dalaran as well as hosting the Alliance forces for the Tournament.

It is through the tournament that players can now gain not only reputation with this faction but fun toys as well.  There are no specific quests that will give you Silver Covenant reputation, rather you can get it either as "spill over" reputation from doing the daily argent tournament quests or as of patch 3.3 by running level 80 dungeons with out wearing a reputation granting tabard. Once you have reached exalted there are four items you can purchase from them. A land mount, a flying mount, a pet, and a tabard. In addition to that, if you have also reached Champion status with one of the racial faction cities you will also notice 3 additional daily quests available to you. You've Really Done It This Time, Kul will show up EVERY day (the dwarf never learns it seems), but the other two will vary options offered will vary. Narasi Snowdawn has four others that she cycles through besides the Kul one, A Leg Up, Rescue at Sea, Stop the Aggressors, and Light's Mercy. Savinia Loresong only offers three, Breakfast of Champions, Gormok Wants His Snobolds, and What Do You Feed a Yeti, Anyway?

Patch 3.3 brought another interesting tidbit to this faction. The introduction of the Quel'Delar quest chain. If SOMEHOW you managed to miss this, in side the Icecrown Citadel five man instances drops a BoE quest item the Battered Hilt. The story behind it is that when Kael went north after Arthas, with him went a warrior by the name of Lana'thel who was welding one of the legendary Quel'Serrar blades, gifted to the elves by the dragon aspects. When she fell no one knew what became of it. Now players will get to "repair" the weapon and carry it as their own. Of course the Silver Covenant will have a vested interest and assist you by telling you where to go and what to do along your journey.

While I have yet to be fortunate enough to see the silly thing drop even ONCE on ANY of my toons I have been able to help several guild mates complete the chain and it is well worth it. At the moment the Hilts are still commanding astronomical prices on the Auction houses but if you happen to come into possession of one the quest chain is well worth it.

Happy questing!

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Unexpected Conversation

Azryu posed the question that has been like a bug in my brain. "What if your character sudden became independent of you and gained a voice? What would happen? How would the conversation go?" It was introduced as a shared Topic. So from time to time during my hectic schedule these past few days I have been going over it in my mind, trying to wrap my head around the concept of separating myself from Daraia, to think of her as "independent". It was an interesting journey for both of us.

It started out like any other day, I just logged on to do the usual chores, I certainly wasn't anticipating having this conversation, and the setting could have been better. Deathspeaker's Rise in Icecrown she decides to let me know she is more than my alter ego, she has a mind of her own, feelings and it is time that I take them into consideration.

"I can't do that move yet and continuing to tell me to won't make it happen."
"WoW, they changed the emote!"
"What is an Emote? But more importantly WOULD YOU STOP STARRING AT THE BACK OF MY HEAD!?!?"
"Do you have any idea how annoying it is to always feel eyes following you around EVERYWHERE and it's even worse those rare times when your INSIDE my head."
"Um, Sorry?"
"Are you going to help me get out of here so we can talk or just let me die?"
"Oh, yeah, right."

My numb fingers suddenly remember how to function as a voice I have heard for over four years is suddenly saying things I never imagined. With the usual efficiency cultists soon lay scattered like rag dolls at Daraia's feet, their corpses sparkling in the morning light. I swiftly guide her to each one, gathering her most recent reward before directing her to mount one of her Protodrakes and fly straight up. Slowly the angle of my camera changes and I am looking no longer over her shoulder but into eyes that suddenly seem to gleam with awareness.

"Well that is something I didn't expect, we actually kinda look alike." Daraia leans forward on her drake and stares at me, her chin jutting forward in an almost defiant pose.

"How did this happen? I mean...."

"Hush, I may not be able to direct all of my actions but for as long as this lasts I am going to be the one asking the questions. You owe me." Arms crossing, her balance is perfect on her lurching steed as she intently studies me.

Taken aback I can only nod but as the moments tick by she seems confused as to what to ask now that she is actually face to face with me. Her mouth opening and shutting several times, the process of actually verbalizing her thoughts seems to much. I decide I had better get the conversation going.

"I have to admit I have never actual thought of you having a mind of your own Dar. Is it alright if I call you that?" I am surprised to discover that I too am struggling to vocalize but find myself reassured by her quick nod. "I can only apologize. I guess I just considered you my alter ego and nothing more. It must be very uncomfortable having someone guiding your actions all the time, having no control over your own movements."

"Why?" Her voice is almost plaintive, pained, tension etched on her face. "Why are you doing this? Why can't I make my own decisions, direct my own actions? Who ARE you?"

My own thoughts are a jumble as I answer, "I guess you could say that I am your creator, though I don't like using that term. I crafted you in my image as you noticed, but it is not a perfect image, it is a fantasy, a dream if you will. Your entire world is an escape for me, from the world in which I reside. The adventures you have, the things you accomplish, by guiding you through them I find enjoyment."

Her head cocks as she considers this. Then eyes narrowed, her voice takes on a vicious bite as she snaps "Do you mean to tell me that YOU are the one responsible for the fact that the only jokes I know are about farting in the bath tub and losing control of my voice?"

My head falls to the desk as I groan. "No, I can't take responsibility for that stupidity. Believe me Dar, if I could change that I would...Actually I have tired in that I have gotten you those orbs so you can at least  pretend to be an Orc or a Blood Elf from time to time. Even THEIR jokes are better I readily admit, their dances too. Unfortunately there are limits to what I can do, the things I can craft in you. Before today the words I could hear you speak were limited to just a few key phrases. It was only in my mind that you ever said more, that your story, your personality, had more depth."

"My sleeveless armor? The fact I spend a good portion of the time running around Northrend, IN THE SNOW with my elbows hanging out and FREEZING? I am NOT a Forsaken, it's COLD HERE! Or weapons that are SO huge they are almost LARGER than I am!"  She pulls out an Axe and waves it around causing her mount to duck its head and veer. "LOOK at this thing! It looks like I should be using two hands and I have to carry it on my BACK but I can wield it like it weighs nothing more than a feather. Are our craftsman just that GOOD? My daggers look more like short swords,  my swords don't even LOOK like swords..."

"Yes I know, but I select your gear based upon what will give you the most benefits, allow you to dispatch things quickly because you do the greatest amount of damage in the shortest period of time, seldom on what LOOKS the best. While personally I like the appearance of the gear you are presently wearing, I suppose I should warn you that the next pieces you will be getting....are not quite so attractive."

Wariness laces her voice as she responds, "What do you mean? How bad can it be? I looked like a stinking RAG BAG when I was running around Draenor wearing the stuff I had gotten out of Zul'Aman."

"Umm.....well....your going into Icecrown Citadel right?"

"Yeah? What about it?" Sitting straighter she continues as if delivering a Tirion worthy speech, slamming fists down on her saddle for emphasis. "We need to finish what we started, take care of Arthas, the Scourge and rescue Bolvar. I owe him, as a comrade in arms that I LEFT at the Wrath Gate, abandoning in his greatest time of need. He deserves better for all that he has done for our people than to be subjected to torture at the hands of the Lich King!"

I can't help but squirm in my chair as I hear her talk, knowing as I do what awaits her. Hopefully I can keep her focused on CLOTHES and not have her start asking me about Bolvar or Arthas, I don't want her to realize that I already have an idea what is going to happen there.

"Well, just that the gear you find tends to reflect the tastes of the individuals whose home you are invading is all. You are getting it off of their corpses generally or from patterns found there. So what you see Yili wearing is what you will be sporting soon."

Daraia's nose wrinkles in distaste. A moment later her brow farrows and she asks, "How does that work anyway? That a creature can be carrying something four times its body weight, it can't possibly wear and that even when I kill it a few moments later it comes right back?"

"That is another thing I have no control over. I agree with you though, it never has made much sense to me either. It is just the way your world works. Shows you're a bright woman to question it, since it is the only world you know."

Daraia smiles at the compliment but then gets pensive again. "Am I the only one like this? Being controlled all the time?"

"No Dar, in fact EVERY other thing you interact with is controlled by someone else like me. Just some more directly than others. Tirion and Jaina, for example are controlled by the same individuals who limit my abilities to change things, those responsible for your poor jokes and dance moves. Therigwin is controlled by my Husband."

"Yeah, about Therigwin..." To my shock I realize that a blush is slowly burning its way up Daraia's face as she fiddles with the harness on her Protodrake. "What exactly is he to me anyway? I mean, it seems not that long ago we were ALWAYS together and now a days I hardly ever see him..." Her voice trails off but I can't help but notice the underlying sadness.

"In our minds he is your spouse. His loyalty is to you. While he has under gone a great many changes since you two were first created, you have as well. His are just more obvious." I watch her fidget for a few moments before asking the obvious question. "What are you worried about Daraia?"

"So much has changed.... I use to spend most of my time in Alterac Valley and Arathi Basin, now I seldom see those places. I once used Daggers ALL the time, now I am switching weapons and how I use them at a moments notice. I even use AXES of all things, like some sort of lumberjack. Even poisons have changed. I'm not complaining mind you, some of the changes have been great!" Sighing she continues, "I guess I just need to know that some things will stay the same since I am finding I have no control over ANYTHING in my life." She raises her head searching out my eyes, seeking reassurance.

I can't hold back my smile. "Daraia you are my first and most beloved creation in this world. Yes, more change IS coming. Some of it quite dramatic. Don't fear. I have no plans to leave you nor does Therigwin. The transitions may not be smooth but we will get through them together and I will continue to do the best I can to care for you to the best of my limited ability." A matching smile spreads across Daraia's face.

Suddenly my screen goes blank and my heart sinks. The computer has crashed and I know the magical moments I have just shared with my Avatar are over, most likely never to be experienced again. I will treasure this unexpected time for the insight it has given me.

Azryu, thank you for casting your spell in our direction.

Microtransactions and WoW

They said is was only a matter of time...

Bornakk announced the introduction of a new feature which will allow players to have access to the auction house via the armory OUT OF GAME, of course this will come at an added price. (About $5) It will allow you to access it via your phone etc. (IF they get it working as intended). Personally I don't think it is worth it but perhaps some Goblin's out there might.

Do we REALLY need all these new features? Well according to some of the feed back on the thread I guess people HAVE been clamoring for it. I am just not one of those people who want to know what my virtual money is doing while off line. I suppose the old saying is true, there is a new sucker born every day and if you build it they will buy.

Will it effect the in game economies? I am sure some will say so but I really don't see that happening any more than the in game pets did. Other than as I mentioned before more "goblins" playing the market but frankly if you are going to "pay real money" so you can watch your "virtual money" how far ahead are you REALLY getting? I have a nice pad of cash on my toons and I have NEVER played the Auction house game at ALL. There has just never been a need. I just run by the old fashion trend of "savings". I make more than I spend and do not have a large amount of expenses with a fairly steady income.

I guess I am just to "conservative" to have ever bought into the "get rich quick" schemes that most Goblin's seem to promote. It is actually rather funny since a good portion of my characters HAVE trades which COULD make a fair profit on the Auction house. I just don't have the patience or desire to play that type of game. I much prefer to use them to benefit myself and my friends.

So now I will sit back and enjoy reading all the "hell fire and damnation" posts that I am sure will follow this latest announcement. Some of them are actually rather funny. Time to go pop some popcorn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

World Firsts and Ban Hammers

By now I am sure you have heard of the various guilds that have downed Arthas. The question is, who all will actually get CREDIT for the World First? With Blizzard going over each of the encounters and yelling "exploit" it has to take the joy of all that hard work right out of you.

Mugg from Ensidia has gotten a lot of attention due to just part of his blog post in which he basically said "enough is enough" for five years he has played this game, worked hard and he is tired of being told after beta testing with GM's watching every move LIVE before hand, "Oh that was an EXPLOIT no World First for you, and give us back those Epics! Furthermore here is a slap on the wrist for being naughty and not mind reading that you shouldn't do that in the FIRST place!"

I'm sorry but I really can't sympathies with Blizzard on this. If you are going to release a game and NOT have it tested then you are going to run the risk of it not "working as intended." Why it is this the Player's fault?

Any good parent will tell you the key to setting up rules is to make them CLEAR. That way both you and your child know what to expect. If Johnny chooses to not come home until an hour after his curfew he runs the risk of losing privileges that he enjoys. What "clear indicators" are there for players to know what is an "exploit" vrs what is "working as intended"?

I have dealt with this question myself on a much smaller scale in Halls of Reflection. Is the practice of waiting on the ledge for the Lich King to walk by then running behind him an "exploit" or "working as intended"? It certainly makes the encounter EASIER and several patches have gone by with out it being fixed. I have NEVER seen a clear response to this ANYWHERE and people have even ASKED.

I remember when you use to do the achievement Respect your Elders by kiting Elder Nadox back to the entrance, then they made it so if he left the room he enraged so to do the achievement you had to have two tanks in your group, one of whom needs to be able to heal themselves. (aka Pally) This REALLY limited the ability of people to get the achievement. I recently discovered you can once again kite him, though now only to the bottom of the stairs in the next room. It is still far enough if you have high dps, which in today's over geared heroic is not usually difficult. Is THIS working as intended or an exploit?

Martin's Fury it was clear, it SAID on the shirt "cheat".  How is the average player suppose to know if using a Saronite bomb or standing on a ledge is a "cheat" unless Blizzard TELLS us it is before hand? What indicators are there to let us KNOW that MAYBE this ISN'T what they had in mind? If they are going to keep on with attempting to get content out at a quicker pace, (which I don't think people mind that at all) then they are going to have to come up with more complete testing methods, a clearer way to identify exploits or a new method of discipline. Banning someone for using the mechanics YOU gave them and then FAILED to tell them they COULDN'T or SHOULDN'T use is more a failure on YOUR part than theirs.

Every Rogue engineer I know is out there crying at the moment.

Know Your Rogue Lore: Deathstalker Zraedus and Infiltrator Marksen

Today's Know Your Rogue Lore is a Two for One because you just can't talk about Deathstalker Zraedus without bringing up Infiltrator Marksen. You may have noticed I am somewhat on a "foreshadowing" kick where I am looking at characters from our early questing days who had information that is impacting us directly now. There is another difference today, there is really no way you can look at Deatherstalker Zraedus as a "hero", this is a guy with a job to do and he doesn't care who gets hurt while he gets it done.

Deathstalker Zraedus is a Forsaken agent stationed at Beggar's Haunt, a lonely tower tucked up near the entrance to Deadwind Pass in Duskwood. Despite his rather out of the way location his job is a rather important one. He is to monitor Alliance activity in the area, keep an eye on the home of the Last Guardian Medivh, assist the Royal Apothecary Society members who come to him with whatever needs they have and most importantly keep the REST of the Horde from discovering his presence. Like all Deathstalkers his loyalty is to Varimathras first, even over the Forsaken as a whole. Unfortunately for Zraedus he has had a little bit of a problem with a certain scout by the name of Marksen.

Marksen is an Alliance agent who was given the task of monitoring the activities of the Horde in the Swamp of Sorrows. While doing that he stumbles across the Royal Apothecary Society working on the New Plague. Panicked by his discovery and what it could mean, he makes a break for Alliance lines only to stumble into a Orc patrol. Luckily for Zraedus Marksen's capture was preformed with the usual Orcish enthusiasm which means that he hasn't been in any condition to talk to ANYONE until recently. Zraedus can not be certain that Marksen will risk sharing his information with the Horde but he certainly is not going to allow failure to happen on HIS watch.

Zraedus comes up with a plan. He recruits a local horde player who happens to be passing though the area telling them that he is on a "Survey Mission" for Varimathras' and has noticed the local Orc's captured an Alliance spy. Since he can not leave HIS mission and he SO wants to help, would the player be SO kind as to speak with his colleague Royal Apothecary member Faustin?  He is CERTAIN with just a little help together we can whip up a "truth serum" for the Orc's "Guest".

I don't know how many Horde players I have talked to who reach the end of this quest chain and just scratch their heads bewildered....usually because they failed to read the text and listen to the comments made by the NPC's. As a result they had NO IDEA what was really going on.  I can only say if you have not done these quests yourself, (and it is an EASY one to miss) things do not go well for poor Marksen. He is only able to tell you that "the Forsaken are misleading the allies of the Horde" before he starts to feel dizzy. If you go back to Zraedus he has nothing more to say to you. You have served your purpose as far as he is concerned.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Thank you but I don't WANT to play a Hybrid

The conversation is making the rounds regarding the infamous "graph". You know what I'm talking about, if you don't here it is yet again.

This graph was used as an explanation for the Rogue nerf. (I talked about that, before buff and after, no complaints from me about the NEED for the nerf just how it was handled.) There is something GLARING about this chart, of the PURE dps classes (we had four last I knew Rogues, Hunters, Mages, and Warlocks) only two make it into the top five, three in the top 10.

From there lets look at those common "off specs". Meaning, with the change in scaling raiding guilds no longer have the need to field a large core of tanks. With the introduction of dual specking the vast majority of  Warriors and Death Knights have a dps off spec of SOME sort along with a tanking spec. This allows them to both preform in raids in whatever function is needed, run heroics quicker as well as just give them a change in play style. They both sit squarely in the middle.

Next we have the other Dual Specs, the Priests and Shamans who also only have two options either healing or dps. For Shamans they have two options for dps and their best showing JUST squeaks into the number 10 spot. Priests on the other hand only have one option for dps and theirs JUST beats out a Tank specked Death Knight.

Then we have the hybrids, the Paladins and the druids who can do it ALL thank you very much and are proud of it. They are all clamoring because they can't have THREE specks. Dps Paladins came in number four (granted yes this is against an undead which gives them a LITTLE advantage but still.) Feral druids also preformed in the top ten.

Why is this a problem?  If PURE dps classes are preforming so far BELOW hybrid or off spec classes what motivation is there for a raid leader to bring them to a raid? ESPECIALLY in this day and age in which "buffs" once specific to a particular class can now be replicated with scrolls or other enhancements.

The thing I keep hearing as a "solution" is just to make EVERY class a hybrid of SOME sort and "BAM" problem solved. The thing of note however is that the individuals most commonly spouting this are people who PLAY hybrids. The same individuals who months before where screaming that with the onset of "dual specking" they would now be FORCED by their raid leaders to run two specs. Perhaps not being able to play their "preferred" spec as a result.

When I first created Daraia I toyed with the idea of making her a Druid, but as I looked at all the options I found I just didn't care for the Hybrid play style. It felt as if she just didn't have a true identity. The majority of individuals I know who play hybrid classes do so BECAUSE they like the flexibility and option to "re speck" into a COMPLETELY different play style whenever they get "bored". (Which frankly seems to happen a lot.) 

In addition to this just making every class more "versatile" seems more like making each class "similar" just with different armor. Do we really want to be at a point where the options are Ranged or Melee dps, Healing or Tank for EVERYONE? While it might be great for 5 man heroics, I have been in enough instances where "hybrids" fought over who would preform which role. We have also gotten to the point where people have encountered the "quick quer", those that que up as a spec they don't have gear for just so they can get into an instance quickly resulting in five dps and no healer or tank.

I play a rogue because I like the rogue play style. At this point I am running TWO raiding specs, one Combat the other Assassination with sets of gear for both. I change out specs based on the fight, though I find I prefer running my combat spec for doing daily quests and five mans. I know other "pure class" players that have done similar things. Dual spec with a Raid spec and a Pvp or Soloing spec. We enjoyed the versatility but when it all came down to it NONE of us desired to become a "buff" class or a "healing" class because we felt it changed our class from what it was meant to be.

Pure dps classes need to be preforming in the Top 5 period. I can understand having one spec preforming better than another but when it comes to just looking at DPS from similarly geared characters those whose job it is to JUST provide dps should be able to do it.  YES, Tanks and Healers DO need a viable off spec but not at the expensive of those classes whose bread and butter are damage dealing.

The other thing of note about this chart is the HUGE disparity between those at the top and those at the bottom. 4k may not sound like much but it is as if you completely removed a few people from your dps line up. Think running a 25 man as a 20. 

As much role bashing as has been going around with Tanks and Healers calling dps classes "meat in the room" it is charts like this which fuel the fire. Why should a tank or healer desire a pure dps class who they may have to compete with for gear when they can put out comparable damage in an off spec?

Blizzard tried to have Hybrids and Pure classes preforming about equally. The result was that certain classes were often left out in the cold in exchange for classes who could provide not only buffs but other "tricks". Lock Candy is great but is it enough to earn a raid spot as compared to a Arcane Mage? Does a Soul Stone out weight a battle rez? Rogues are in raids because of their high damage output, that is about all they have to contribute. Are we going to see this prejudice not only in raids but five mans? My observation is that as Lich King is winding down it is already happening. 

I have heard from many who have hit the end game and then moved on to taste the delights of other games while awaiting Cataclysm,  that part of the reason they left  was seeing the outrageous pug demands in gear scores and dps. What is pushing these ridiculous requirements?  The desire of individuals to just "steam roll" their way through to Arthas. Some players, (frankly the majority of whom seem to be YOUNG players,) have forgotten that TRUE fun is not in just reaching the prize and gathering up the "EPIC LOOT" but in the journey getting there, earning a prize after a great struggle. Even better if you ENJOY the people you get there WITH.

This chapter is drawing to a close, and with it Blizzard has made it clear they are going to be wiping some things clean. The question then becomes....will it be the way classes function? Will we all become Balanced? Hybrids? Or will Pure Classes STILL have a place in this reworked world?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rep: Taunka

The Taunka are an interesting addition to the Horde Expedition forces. Discovered by Garrosh Hellscream shortly after his arrival in Northrend he is able to convince these ancestral cousins of the Tauren to assist them in their fight against not only the scourge but the Alliance as well. This is an astounding feat as the Taunka are already engaged in the task of grim survival against the elements and over all seem to be losing. Unlike their Tauren brethren the Taunka view the elements as something to bend to their will rather than a cooperative partnership, perhaps this is why Garrosh deals so well with them. Horde players will encounter them shortly after their arrival in Northrend as quests for this faction are located both in Howling Fjord and the Borean Tundra.

The exact origin of the Taunka is lost. There is some speculation that the Taunka could in fact be the Icemist Tauren, a fact further reinforced by the name of their capital Icemist Village. The Icemist Tauren were introduced back in the World of Warcraft Roleplaying Game and the similarities between the two are certainly there. Physically they resemble Bison more than Cattle along with having significantly lighter coloration than the Tauren.

While technically the Taunka have six villages in Northrend players will quickly discover that the vast majority of them are being evacuated or abandoned as the Taunka are finding themselves overwhelmed. Icemist Village has been completely overrun and destroyed by Nerubians leaving the Taunka without their main home. Taunka'le Village is being evacuated in anticipation of a scourge attack. Camp Winterhoof is planning to evacuate. Camp Oneqwah, a place many Taunka are fleeing to as a  refuge is dealing with neighboring humans who are actually Worgen.  This leaves really only Westwind Refuge and Camp Tunka'lo as safe havens.

While Garrosh may have thought gaining the Taunka to his cause would be a way to strengthen his armies in actuality it in fact is bringing THEM more benefit and saving THEM as a people from extinction. It may not have been intentional but Garrosh has become a hero to this people by bringing the Horde to their aid and perhaps this will aid him as nothing else in his raise as leader by saving these cousins to the Tauren.

Before Patch 3.3 you would cap out at Honored with this faction after doing all of the 79 quests available for them. Since that patch you can now gain reputation with them as a Horde player by doing level 80 dungeons while not wearing a reputation granting tabard as well as by doing the Champion level quests for the Argent Tournament.