Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hazards of Deathbringer's Will

I recently managed to get my greedy little hands on Deathbringer's Will. Since having it I have discovered a few things that future users should be aware of.

1. All other dps (save casters) will either hate or envy you. Learn to live with it.

2. You have no control over when or what shape shift will occur. So yes this trinket WILL make you look fat.

3. Shape shifting into a Vrykul will make you unable to use mounts until you remove the buff. (Taunka and Dwarf form seems to works fine.) There is a simple macro you can add to deal with this issue.

#showtooltip mount(s) of choice
/cancelaura Agility of the Vrykul
/cancelaura Speed of the Vrykul
/use mount(s) of choice

4. The shifted shapes are ALL male so if you play a female character you will see your gender specific titles spamming every time you shape shift.

5. Sometimes as the result of the shape shift you will notice it appears as if your weapon is missing. It is still there but for whatever reason not visible. DON'T PANIC! 

6. This trinket can proc off of Sap WITH OUT BREAKING STEALTH. Yeah I know, not really a hazard but good to know and even funnier to watch since the idea of a Tauren or Vrykul sneaking is completely foreign.

7. Shape shifting can cause distraction.... DANCING TAUREN ROGUE!!! (Ok, maybe just for me but I laugh every time I turn into a Taunka and prefer it to the Vrykul procs since I get to do the Peanut butter Jelly dance.) I have also had group members freak at finding a "Tauren" in their Alliance dungeon.

8. Shape shifting changes your size, this will effect your positioning, especially if you proc while casting Killing Spree. (Poor Gnome rogue friend of mine got stuck when he transformed into a Taunka.)

9. If you are trying to judge when this trinket will proc it appears to have a 105 sec internal cool down with about a 30% proc rate. (Again not a hazard but good to know.)

10. Rogues do NOT get the Iron Dwarf proc which gives Armor Pen. (Cry)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Deathstalker Visceri

Deathstalker Visceri is one of the Argent Grand Champions from Trial of the Champion. This individual is the essence of "divided loyalties".  For the Horde he represents the Undercity within the Sunreaver Pavilion.  Specifically he sends players off to get weapons from the various " Water Ladies" as well as starting and ending the Undercity Valliant quests.

Many fail to make note of his Title, it means more than just an identification of his class. Visceri is a DEATHSTALKER. You remember these guys?  The Deathstalker's were Varimathras' elite collection of assassins and spies who assisted in the work the Royal Apothecary was doing with the New Plague. Usually by keeping any information concerning it from getting out to the REST of the Horde. After the Battle for the Undercity there was much question as to WHO exactly these guys were loyal to, Sylvanas or someone else? Visceri ended up in Northrend working with the Argent Crusade and representing the Forsaken. The question then becomes, did he come of his own violation, looking for a fresh start or was he SENT for some OTHER purpose?

When the Argent Tournament was FIRST introduced Visceri was dressed in warrior plate garb. This changed when the actual Arena was finished and he is now appropriately dressed in Deadly Gladiator's Vestments. It is his WEAPONS that are the most intriguing. He is sporting a pair of Spinal Destroyers. These daggers can only be obtained by Horde, who may purchase them with Champion's Seals. Usually when you see a weapon there will be others using the same model but different colors. This is not the case for this particular dagger, it is unique. The bones along the upper edge seem fitting for an Undead who always has his spine poking out.

Visceri's fighting style is identical to his Alliance counterpart Lana Stouthammer. While in our present state of being over geared for encounters his Poison Bottle is not QUITE as deadly as it use to be, it can still be an annoyance. Many players still fail to avoid the deadly green goo which rapidly ticks away at their health. If you don't have a poison cleanser in your group it is best to just avoid them all together. His Fan of Knives was also not be as damaging as it once was, though he still favors this move.

Visceri still manages to hold on to his secrets and for the time seems pleased to be competing in the Tournament forcing players to joust despite how much they may hate it. What more could a Forsaken ask for?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Rep: The Ashen Verdict

Well here we are, at the end of this LONG series. To be honest I never realized just how long this would end up being. I started this whole thing back when getting any information about Rogues was few and far between. Not wanting to break a routine I was attempting to establish I came up with the idea of doing a series to keep me busy. This topic was suggested by a guildmate who was looking for a quick reference while working on their Exalted achievement. Since I already HAD that achievement they figured I should be willing to share. It started out fine, but by the time I got to the Burning Crusade I was getting a little bored with it, which reflected in my writing. So without further adieu lets discuss the final faction we have available to us.

The Ashen Verdict is a collection of the greatest fighters and craftsmen selected from the Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade ranks. Together, under the combined leadership of Tirion Fordring and Darion Mograine they have broken through the gates of Icecrown Citadel and established a base they call Light's Hammer. It is here that players will discover a collection of individuals who can provide them with items specifically crafted for their class in exchange for Emblems of Frost. These items can later be returned for upgrading with the addition of a Mark of Sanctification located in 25 man or Heroic modes.

In the tradition of the Brood of Nozdormu from AQ 40 and The Violet Eye of Karazhan players are allowed to select a ring which can be upgraded as their reputation with the faction improves. The first is granted by Darion Mograine at friendly reputation. Unlike the previous two factions however the Ashen Verdict has an additional ring to select from beyond the traditional Tank, Healer, Spell Dps and Physical Dps Agility, a Physical Dps ring based on STRENGTH. In addition to this, where in the past if you mistakenly selected the wrong ring or chose to change your specs you were stuck until you hit the exalted reputation cap, the Ashen Verdict allows you to trade your ring at any time for the simple cost of 200g.

While progressing into Icecrown they have also discovered that the Scourge have created a way to refine Saronite or at the very least have a unique mine within the Citadel which produces Primordial Saronite. This ore can be randomly located on any of the bosses within the 25 man raid or purchased with Emblems of Frost from specific vendors. Craftsmen can present ore to Alchemist Finklestein stationed at Light's Hammer in exchange for Patterns or Plans which teach them how to work with this substance. Many of the items they will be able to create are considered some of the best in the game for many classes making it a worthwhile endeavor to secure them.

Gaining reputation for this faction is a simple matter of grinding your way through Icecrown Citadel killing undead mobs and bosses. Some of the greatest reputation gains come from setting off various traps scattered through out the Citadel and the mobs those traps release. When Icecrown Citadel was first introduced many players would farm the mobs preceding the first boss to obtain their rings without locking themselves to a specific instance id. However the reputation gains provided by this were quickly reduced to slow this trend.

So there we have it, for the time being this series is at an end. I am sure I will revisit it when Cataclysm comes out but for now I can take a well deserved break. As to what I will be discussing on Tuesdays, that is still somewhat up in the air. For now I plan to keep it open ended, leaving my only series the Know Your Rogue Lore each Thursday.

Happy Grinding!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Cataclysm Raid Changes

Blizzard dropped a bombshell today in their release of changes to how they are planning to handle both loot and raid progression in at least the first portion of Cataclysm.
combining all raid sizes and difficulties into a single lockout. 10- and 25-player modes of a single raid will share the same lockout. You can defeat each raid boss once per week per character. Normal versus Heroic mode will be chosen on a per-boss basis in Cataclysm raids, the same way it works in Icecrown Citadel. Obviously the raid lockout change doesn't apply in pure Icecrown terms though, as this change goes hand-in-hand with a few other changes to raid progression in Cataclysm.
In other words you will only be able to do a raid once a week per toon and will need to decide if you want to do it in 10 or 25. This is going to KILL the 25 man pugs we are seeing today and also greatly limit the amount of gear and badge framing we see in more progressed guilds.

We're designing and balancing raids so that the difficulty between 10- and 25-player versions of each difficulty will be as close as possible to each other as we can achieve. That closeness in difficulty also means that we'll have bosses dropping the same items in 10- and 25-player raids of each difficulty. They'll have the same name and same stats; they are in fact the exact same items. Choosing Heroic mode will drop a scaled-up version of those items. Our hope is that players will be able to associate bosses with their loot tables and even associate specific artwork with specific item names to a far greater extent than today.
Dungeon Difficulty and Rewards
10- and 25-player (normal difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop the exact same items as each other.
10- and 25-player (Heroic difficulty) -- Very similar to one another in difficulty; drop more powerful versions of the normal-difficulty items. 
Not that long ago there was a huge debate on regarding just this issue. Eliah Hecht brought forth the premise that 25 man raids should not drop better loot than 10 mans. Well he is getting his wish. Now we have to see if the response is as predicted. The end of 25 man raiding. There reason for this change is as follows:

We of course recognize the logistical realities of organizing larger groups of people, so while the loot quality will not change, 25-player versions will drop a higher quantity of loot per player (items, but also badges, and even gold), making it a more efficient route if you're able to gather the people. The raid designers are designing encounters with these changes in mind, and the class designers are making class changes to help make 10-person groups easier to build. Running 25-player raids will be a bit more lucrative, as should be expected, but if for a week or two you need to do 10s because half the guild is away on vacation, you can do that and not suffer a dramatic loss to your ability to get the items you want.

It is this next bit that has me holding out for hope though.

We recognize that very long raids can be a barrier for some players, but we also want to provide enough encounters for the experience to feel epic. For the first few raid tiers, our plan is to provide multiple smaller raids. Instead of one raid with eleven bosses, you might have a five-boss raid as well as a six-boss raid. All of these bosses would drop the same item level gear, but the dungeons themselves being different environments will provide some variety in location and visual style, as well as separate raid lockouts. Think of how you could raid Serpentshrine Cavern and Tempest Keep separately, but you might still want to hit both every week.
It sounds like when Cata hits we will have several SMALLER raids available to us. So you could potentially do one each night OR if you were like some guilds I know, clear all of them in a single night then run alt nights the rest of the week.
We do like how gating bosses over time allows the community to focus on individual encounters instead of just racing to the end boss, so we're likely to keep that design moving forward. We don't plan to impose attempt limitations again though, except maybe in cases of rare optional bosses (like Algalon). Heroic mode may not be open from day one, but will become available after defeating normal mode perhaps as little as once or twice.
Not exactly clear on what they are going for here. They like gated encounters but not the limits? I am guessing they are going for like they did with ICC, you can't hit heroic until you have cleared it on normal.
In terms of tuning, we want groups to be able to jump into the first raids pretty quickly, but we also don't want them to overshadow the Heroic 5-player dungeons and more powerful quest rewards. We'll be designing the first few raid zones assuming that players have accumulated some blue gear from dungeons, crafted equipment, or quest rewards. In general, we want you and your guild members to participate in and enjoy the level up experience.
This bit sounds like the "introductory raids" are going to play out like Nax did. Those who hit 85 will be able to step right in wearing their higher level raiding gear and whatever crafted or Heroic items they pick up on the way. The big question is going to be: Are guilds going to even bother trying to form up 25 mans and the headaches those can produce when they can get the same items with fewer players?

The response of course has been a similar to what Mr Hecht encountered. For smaller guilds this could be a blessing. Larger progression guilds may find themselves in trouble and even worse the unguilded. At this point I can't see how you will be able to raid WITHOUT being a part of a guild. Perhaps this is part of the point as they are also reworking the ways guilds function in Cata as well.

If you haven't taken the time to check out the original post by Blizzard and the ensuing responses it is located here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vanished Rogue

The insistent banging just would not let up. I have to admit I was rather surprised that our local Jehovah's Witnesses were being this persistent so I washed my hands and headed to the front door. It wasn't someone in a suit on the other side however.

"Where in Azeroth have you been!?!?!" Daraia burst through like a storm cloud, arms flailing as she turned on me. "It has been a WEEK, a WEEK!" Her glove clad finger grinding into my chest, she continued. "You left me in Dalaran to fend off herds of star ponies, their obnoxious owners and temper tantrum throwing robots for a WEEK!" Stopping abruptly Daraia stepped back, surveying her now dust covered glove, then looking me up and down in bemusement. "What is that."

"Sweatpants and a denim shirt?" I replied, pushing my filthy baseball cap further back over my tangled hair.

"Sweatpants? Why would you choose to wear pants you KNOW will make you sweat?" Before I can answer she waves dismissively and continues on. "That isn't what I meant anyway. The white and gray stuff all over look like you fell into something."

Looking down I realize what she is talking about. "Oh, that is just cement, plaster and paint. I have been kinda busy this week with my kitchen and bathrooms."

Daraia pulls back swiftly, putting her hands behind her back. "Since when did we join the Defias? I'm a Scribe not a Mason thank you very much! I have no intention of power leveling another trade. It was painful enough the last time!"

Briefly the idea of informing her about Archeology passes through my mind only to be dismissed. She is ticked off enough with me as it is.  "Listen I am just trying to get this taken care of while I can, before my kids are out of school for the summer and underfoot. I should be back to the regularly scheduled program by Children's Week."

"I don't think you realize what you are subjecting me to here... you left me in Dalaran!" Daraia interjects. "I have to listen to TRADE chat all the time and deal with drunken Elves and Draenei who think they belong on top of mailboxes." Arms crossing she continues to glare at me. "Couldn't you at least log on and put me somewhere else? I haven't darkened the door of a dungeon all WEEK!"

By this point I am beginning to realize just how tired I am. That is the problem when you stop doing physical labor you hardly notice your fatigue until your muscles start screaming at you. "Ok Dar, I will do my best to get on more regularly this week but it is going to still be a little bit before I can get back to our routine. Can you accept that?"

Reluctantly she nods. "I'm going to hold you to that. You fail to show up and I will be back here again. I am sure your neighbors would LOVE to know why someone dressed like me is showing up at your door." Pausing briefly she narrows her eyes in contemplation before continuing. "I refuse to go back to Dalaran though, you can find me at the Argent Tournament. At least there I sit back and mock Paletress." With that final threat she touched her tabard clad chest and vanished.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

If you could design a gear set

The other night while gazing forlornly at my Leaper clad self I got to thinking about the upcoming Cataclysm expansion and what horrors the designers have in store for us as our next tier set. Now I am no artist but if I could design the next tier I think I know exactly how I would like it to look.

Start with the helm. None of this pickled heads stuff, could we please go back to the simple designs of yesteryear? Quite frankly I wish our next tier helm looked like either a simple cloth mask, you know like VanCleef wears or a close fitting Ninja mask. Something similar to what we had for our FIRST two tiers. I'll be honest I LIKED the look of the old Nightslayer Cover (minus the huge collar) so something like that. The Bloodfang Hood is nice as well but they have already reused it.

For the shoulders I want something that looks like I am carrying extra weapons rather than attempting to be a hunter and wear my most recent kill as clothing. Now I LIKED the little pouches that were on the VanCleef set, (it was the perfect place for storing extra poisons) so incorporate something like that along the front. For the over all look though, a design like the Bonescythe Pauldrons or even the less well supplied Shoulderpads of the Silvermoon Retainer is more my style. My only desire would be that the daggers appeared a little more like rounded throwing daggers rather than arrow heads. Now I know some throwing knives ARE that pointed, but I really prefer the look of something like those below. Stack them two deep, larger in the bottom, smaller on the top scaling down as they move down the shoulder, now THAT is how a rogue shoulder should look. 

The chest piece was the part of the set that really gave me the most headache. Part of me REALLY likes the look of a turtleneck, something that covers from the top of the neck to the wrists. Then place the leather armor over it as if the leather is attached to a wool undershirt. On the other hand the VanCleef Breastplate has become one of my favorites. So I was considering was something that was sleeveless (that way I can still wear my Wound Dressings or Antiseptic-Soaked Dressing) and laced up the sides. The other thing I liked about that set was that it went a bit longer down the torso, all the way to the upper thighs. If I am going to have a sleeveless shirt, why not have some belly exposed as well? Though with a tabard you can't see it ANYWAY so why bother with exposed belly? In the end my preference is for a high neck with short cap sleeves. Take the leather pieces and outline the chest area with lacing along the edges similar to how it was done for the VanCleef set. Also have it go longer down the leg, onto the thigh area with pouches on the lower portion for storing poisons and such.

The pants were the easiest piece for me to visualize. They need to go ALL THE WAY to the ankle, none of this carpi or holey knee crap. Matching daggers strapped to the outer portion of both thighs, similar in look to the throwing daggers from the shoulders, with visible stitching along the seams. The straps holding the daggers in place would be reminiscent of those on the VanCleef Legplates. Keep them simple and hugging the leg.

The gloves were another piece I debated about. Really it comes down to open fingers or closed? Now earliest pieces like the Nightslayer gloves only exposed the tips of the fingers, basically from the last knuckle. My personal preference would be for them to expose most of the finger, more like weight training or cycling gloves. My other thought was for them to be shorter, to the wrist. Why? Think about it, how often do you actually SEE your bracers? You don't unless you take off your gloves they are usually COMPLETELY covered. So have the gloves stop just below the bracer, with laces along the top.

Now originally tier sets contained the bracers, belt and boots. Now a days this is no longer the case but the designs are still uniform through out. So I also considered our "accessory" pieces. Even though with the exception of the boots they are generally smaller and less viable I still want them to look like they belong to the set.

The bracers are rather frustrating because they are so seldom seen. With sorter gloves you can actually ENJOY the look of the bracers which should be close fitting with lacing along the inner arm and stitched trim at the top and bottom. Have them fit from the wrist to just below the elbow and they would be perfect.

The belt I envision would closely resemble a utility belt. LOTS of little pouches laced closed, going the full length, with the buckle being over lapping leather straps laced up at the middle. Yeah, I know I have a thing for storage, what can I say?

I never really cared for the ninja looking boots or even worse the ones that looked like toe socks. So a nice rounded toe with a cuff at the top, just below the knee. Have it fit close to the body, none of the snow boot looking ones. That is how the boots should fit.

Few other things I haven't mentioned, stats, sockets and coloration. Since we know Cataclysm will be containing changes, beyond the classic Agility and Stamina I have no clue how important things like Haste will be (though I am guessing it will be something we really want) so I am holding off on the itemization for now. I would love to stick sockets on EVERYTHING but then you start getting into the whole "over powered" thing, beyond that there is talk that some of the gems colors will be changing so it is hard to predict what color combination we will be going after. One thing is for sure, I want the sockets and socket bonuses to work well. I am rather tired of always needing gems that don't benefit my socket bonus at all, they just feel wasted at that point. Black or dark gray needs to be the base color, from there silver, gold, red, brown or blue would all work fine as accent colors. (Just not all at once.)  I rather liked it when the sets had a uniform look but the specific item levels had different color combinations.

So what about you? If you could create a look for your next tier set what would YOU like to see?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Herd of Star Ponies

So yesterday Blizzard made two new items available in their store. Of course the internet and trade chat are full of individuals expressing either their excitement or disdain over the choice. Name calling abounds on both sides. Records are being set as we speak.

The major focus is on the much anticipated Celestral Steed. When MMO Champion first data mined this the majority of people assumed it would be the reward for downing Algalon in Ulduar in Hard Mode. While it would have made two drop mounts in one large instance the precedence for that had been set WAY back in Vanilla WoW with Zul'Grub. (Though the Tiger and Raptor mounts are rare drops.) Well Ulduar has come and gone, so much so that unless it happens to have the weekly random boss kill in it few even bother to darken its doors. No Star Pony. At this point the assumption being made was that perhaps it would make its appearance as part of the new trading card game. Again precedence has been set in that.

Then (to some) the unthinkable happens. Blizzard announces that the mount people have been discussing for MONTHS is going to be SOLD for REAL MONEY at the Blizzard Store. It will be a BoA item which scales with riding scale and the fastest mount that character happens to already have. (Meaning if you have a 310 speed it will ALSO go 310.) In addition to that like the Headless Horseman's mount it can serve both as a land AND a flying mount.

Achievement mongers are up in arms. This was suppose to be another "cool" mount exclusively for THEM. Altaholics are drooling because for $25 they can mount EVERY TOON THEY HAVE with a NICE looking mount. No rep grinding required. Those of us who don't have the spare cash to purchase one are left with four options, convince someone ELSE to purchase it for you, brave purchasing one with in game gold from someone who offers up a key (hello new hacker opportunity), wait until we have the cash or just go without and try to ignore the herd of star ponies over running Dalaran. As a mount collector it has been a difficult pill to swallow but I will just have to wait. Spending $25 dollars on a vanity item while neck deep in a kitchen and double bath renovation is just NOT going to happen.

Yes, the steed IS a useful item in that it CAN be used by ALL your characters. Lets face it, it certainly looks different from the mounts you can use as a lower level that don't involve LUCK from the trading card game, even LARGER investments on Ebay (hello, ANOTHER hacker/scam opportunity) or attempting to get a friend to join up with you and level. The last option causing some to just purchase yet ANOTHER account. Now the major difference with all these others is that THOSE mounts are only good for a SINGLE character. Here we are getting something that ALL our characters both present AND future can use.(Worgen on star ponies.....Twilight again?)

Now as a mount collector I will say this. I want it for my collection but as others have stated this is going to be a mount that becomes redundant quickly if you are only after it to "be cool". I had to laugh when I logged on yesterday and our guild was busy discussing it. One player was giving a count by count run down on their position in the cue. Another (who is ALSO a mount collector) was complaining that it really looked funny with his Night Elf so he was sticking to his Spectral Tiger. A third was attempting to talk everyone ELSE out of buying one because he wanted to be the only one in the guild WITH it. (Unfortunately for him about 5 people already HAD it and were busy flying circles around each other outside Dalaran.) The vast majority were on the fence as to purchasing it or not.

After seeing it in game, my opinion is that it doesn't look as nice as it does on a dark background showing off all the detail. If I can ever get one I would most likely only use it at night time.

Beyond that, for those who are screaming about "micro transactions and slippery slope" I want you to consider something. Which would you prefer: a raise in subscription fees or Blizzard getting their extra money via convenience services and vanity items? We have been playing this game for FIVE years. In that time the subscription fee has not increased ONE CENT. At the same time the player base and expectations of those players has risen extensively. I would rather have those with the disposable income covering the additional expenses keeping Activision happy so they leave the REST of Blizzard alone to focus on the games I enjoy playing. They are a BUSINESS first, they are not required to give a percentage of their proceeds to some charity so that you can then claim that is the only reason you are making the investment.

Now the Lil'XT vanity pet just hasn't received much notice because of the focus on the Celestial Steed. A couple of our pet collectors immediately picked him up. When I saw the video I though "how CUTE" then we had three in the raid last night and my attitude was "shut him UP". Like the Pandaren Monk  the noise can quickly get on your nerves. While it is awesome that they are making the pets more interactive (I do like the fact that the XT pet will destroy any train set it comes in contact with.) for those who like to have vanity pets out during raids or instances it can cause issues. He is also much LARGER than previous vanity pets I have seen, almost as tall as a gnome and in one raid I saw one that was human size. I don't know if they scale with their owners, had something put on them or what but confusing him with a small plate wearer in the heat of battle could prove interesting.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Hexil Garrot

Hexil is a part of the Goblin controlled Arena circuit. Early in Azeroth's history individuals would compete in gladiator type competitions for money and glory. Thrall most notably was raised in just this type of environment under Lord Blackmore. The Goblins, seeing what profit could easily be made by conducting these types of games quickly created an underground circuit of arenas to which individuals could go to compete. King Varion in fact fell victim to these, being forced to participate by Rehgar Earthfury.

Hexil is part of the staff sent to open and operate the arena located in Dalaran. However he is not content to just stand around watching when there is profit to be made. Setting up a small shop called "Tools of the Trade" in a dark corner of the Underbelly Hexil sells goods, most notably armor goods to the leather wearers who express interest. Since he is not the OFFICIAL vendor for the Goblin arena he can not sell any of those items, but he CAN make a profit with his niche clientele. Players who wish to avoid the often over crowded shops run by the Elves trading emblems for goods.

Clad in a reworked Bloodfang armor set he attempts to convey that his goods are for everyday life rather than the rigors of the arena. Both Druids and Rogues can benefit from his product list as he does not discriminate between the physical damager verses the caster leather wearer. He also has a small  collection of weapons. So don't pass this guy buy, while he may not Primordial Saronite he DOES have many of the other non tier pieces we can use.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rep: Sons of Hodir

The Sons of Hodir are one of the most important factions to have reputation with (unless you happen to be a Scribe) because they control our much needed shoulder enchants. Where in Burning Crusade players had a choice to support either the Aldor or the Scryers,  in Wrath there are only the Sons of Hodir and they make you WORK to get THEIR enchants. Lets begin by covering who exactly this faction is then move on to how you go about gaining their favor.

The Sons of Hodir are not actually the biological offspring of Watcher Hodir as the name somewhat implies. Rather these Frost Giants are Hodir's creations. Servants designed to assist Hodir in his duties as guardian over the ice and snow. There is also some speculation that Hodir is where the concept of Father Winter first came about, his workers are just A WHOLE LOT larger than those of Santa Claus. When Prim Designate Loken betrayed the rest of the Watchers, Hodir disappeared from his Temple of Winter and the Frost giants believed him dead.  Before they could take the time to truly investigate however they found themselves under attack by their former ally Thorim who believed them responsible for the death of his wife. It is at this point that players first encounter them.

Thorim's followers, the Frost Vrykul and the Earthen, with the loss of THEIR leader to his grief are now in three separate camps. The Hyldnir, which are an exclusively Frost Vrykul female organization, have coped with their leader's despondency by continuing his war against the Frost Giants and battling amongst themselves in hopes of discovering one of them worthy to replace Thorim's deceased wife Sif. The idea is that if a NEW mate is found he will snap out of his stupor and get back to work. Of the Frost Vrykul males, they are treated as slaves to the females, (think blue skinned amazons). The rest of Thorim's Frost Vrykul followers have fallen to the thrall of the Lich King. The Earthen on the other hand have recognized that Thorim was deceived and battle alone against Loken's forces, continuing Thorim's work while he is unable to.

When players first enter Storm Peaks, not having a clue about any of this history they will discover that both the Hyldnir and the Frost Giants are hostile to them. In fact one of the goblin females located at the small outpost of K3 will ask for assistance in recovering her male colleges. Thus begins the long attunement like chain to discover exactly what is going on in Storm Peaks.

The first section of the chain which is sixteen quests in length begins with "They took our Men" from Gretchen at K3.  This part of the chain deals with learning about the Hyldnir and eventually becoming a part of them (via disguise). Once you are deemed worthy to be a fighting member of the Hyldnir you are asked to create bear riding  harness. This will send you on to an eight part chain in which you capture yourself a bear mount before entering competition to be Thorim's new wife. At the end of this section Thorim wakes up enough to explain what has happened and admits that he was deceived. It was the realization that he not only had lost his wife but one of his best friends that has sent him into deep depression. Finally he decides that purhaps it is time to attempt to repair the damage he caused so he sends you to help mend the fence so to speak.

While helping the Frost Giants against their common foe the Iron Giants you need to make sure you pick up the Slag Covered Metal off of one of the corpses. This will start a two part parallel chain which is needed to continue further. Once you have completed BOTH Mending Fences AND A Spark of Hope return to Thorim at the Temple of Storms. Now at this point you are Neutral with the Son's of Hodir. This means you can now land in their capital of Dum Niffelem with out fear.

Previously you would now see a variety of quests open up around Dum Niffelem, completing these will open the six daily quests. There is also a six part chain which sends you BACK to Thorim, now relocated to the Terrace of the Makers. Thorim has two quests for you The Earthen Oath and Loken's Lackeys. Once you have completed both of these Thorim asks you to accompany him to the Temple of Wisdom while he confronts Loken. It doesn't go well and in the end Thorim is captured just like Hodir was. When you report what you have seen to King Jokkum, the present leader of the Sons of Hodir he sends you to the Halls of Lightning, where Loken is known to be working. I personally find the quest he gives you rather disturbing as he wants Loken's lying tongue as proof he is no longer living.

Now since patch 3.0.8 there IS an easier way to get reputation with this faction. However you STILL have to do ALL the quests up to Forging an Alliance. Once you are neutral with the Sons of Hodir you can go to their quartermaster Lillehoff and turn in stacks of 10 Relics of Ulduar for 250 reputation each. The Relics drop off of pretty much any mob located in Storm Peaks or the Ulduar 5 man dungeons. Doing this can easily get you from hostile to exalted in just a matter of hours verses the WEEKS it use to take. Relics are also MUCH easier to farm than Everfrost. Not only that unlike Everfrost which is bind on pick up the Relics can be sold on the auction house so it is rather easy to pick up a stack if farming is not your thing.

Lillehoff has more than just the shoulder enchants to sell. Mount collectors will be interested in his TWO land mounts, the Ice Mammoth or the roomier three passenger Grand Ice Mammoth. Tailors will want to pick up the pattern for Glacial Bags, while these now have a 7 day cool down they will ALWAYS sell on the auction house for a decent amount. Leather workers can also find buyers easily for the Mammoth Mining Bag so that is recipe they should obtain.

At the beginning of Wrath players cursed this faction to all perdition due to the time consuming demand of grinding daily quests. Now they are MUCH kinder to the casual player. The only issue people seem to have is getting lost while working on the attunement chains. My encouragement would be to make sure you have a set aside a couple of hours of uninterpreted play time to work until you have access to Lillehoff.

Happy Grinding!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dealing with Hackers

There is nothing quite like the feeling of logging into your Wow account only to discover that while you were off line someone else has been playing with your account, emptying bank and deleting characters you have invested so much time and energy in. I experienced this personally early during the Burning Crusade just before authenticators were introduced. Thankfully I logged on before the hacker could completely finish the job and was able to remove him. However it took me almost a week to get my three level 70 characters somewhat restored and all my lower level characters (ranging in level from 60-40) never did make it back. As one guild mate put it I financed at least one months rent and a big screen TV when they emptied me out.

Times have changed, the tools we have to protect our selves from these types of things have gotten more sophisticated but at the same time so have the hackers. Originally all you could do was change your password regularly, (this meant a MINIMUM of every month). You could make sure that password contained a variety of different characters such as a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. Never share you account name and password with ANYONE. Always use the same computer to play on, and never use a public connection. Run a virus scan daily. (I was actually running two different ones when I was hacked.) Spurn all modifications to the game, (which for some players is like asking them to remove a limb). In addition to these if you ran on a Mac the majority of hackers had not yet entered this field because of the low amount of potential victims. Doing ALL of these things generally kept you about 90% protected.

There are still some, (always someone who has managed to be lucky) who feel that doing all of these things is enough and if you are ever the victim of a hack it must somehow be due to your OWN failures. I have never quite understood this "blame the victim" mentality. Yes, there are some things you can do which almost INVITE a hack such as sharing your account and password information, buying gold or power leveling services, as well as purchasing accounts from places like Ebay.  While my sympathy is not as strong for those types of victims not EVERYONE who gets hacked has made these types of errors. The case can be made that the MAJORITY of hacks that take place may fall into one of these categories but you need to be careful to assume that ALL do.

When my account was hacked the investigator shared with me that there are basically four common types of hacks, Keylogger, Trojans, Bombardment and Middleman that players should be aware of. (He theorized that I was the victim of a Bombardment attack as there were a great many hit at the same time, how they got our account names was never discovered or at least shared with me.)  In addition to this are what is called "Phishing" scams. This is where you get an Email or website that appears to be legitimate but in actually is nothing more than a front for a hacker attempting to get your personal account information.

Keyloggers are when a virus is placed on your computer to track key stroke information. This type is used not only to obtain MMO passwords but bank information, social security numbers, etc. To this day these are the most common hacks the average player will encounter and placing an authenticator on your account greatly diminishes the possibility of this type being successful.

Trojans are where you THINK you are getting one thing (like a game modification) but in fact are getting a keylogger. Sites such as attempt to do all in their power to keep these types off their data bases. It is this type of hacks that are most recently aimed at authenticators, the aim being to get victims to remove them or implement a Middleman hack which I will talk about in just a bit.

Bombardment hacks have become more prevalent with the introduction of This is where a hacker keeps hitting your account until they break in via a computer program. An easy way to deal with this is to make certain that your Email is unique to JUST your account.

Now the fourth type is one we are seeing more of in recent months, specifically because they are really the only way to get around the authenticators, the Middle Man hack. This is when the user THINKS they are logging in but in actuality are seeing a false screen which then records that information and allows the hacker to be the one actually controlling your account. The only weakness to this type of hack is that the hacker has to move fast before the victim realizes what is going on and can remove them.

Most hackers, once they have control of an account will do one or all of several different things. First they will empty out the character of all funds, vendor or destroy anything they can't market and then mail or trade all of that cash/items to ANOTHER character on the same realm.  Some will take the newly acquired character and use them to conduct FURTHER scams such as emptying guild banks, selling mount or pet codes, and discovering further victims to scam. Still others will IMMEDIATELY put the new account ON an authenticator to keep the victim from retrieving it. From there they can realm transfer, changing the name, race and even faction of the character allowing them to do even MORE destruction.

In the four years I have been an Officer and GM in a guild I have seen numerous guild mates fall victim to each of these types of hacks. We in fact implemented several policies PRECISELY to deal with the frequency of the attacks we saw.  These include requiring all officers to have an authenticator on their account, limits on withdrawals that can be made by guild members and officers. Even requesting specific codes before a character can be entered into the guild who claims to be member or officer alt. (I think one of the funniest ones of these I ever encountered was when a hacker attempted to impersonate ME while I was on vent conducting an officer meeting.) 

One of the most painful hacks I ever had to deal with was with one of our Military members. While he was serving in Afghanistan someone hacked his account and SOLD it. By the time he returned to the States and was able to attempt to try to recover it MONTHS had gone by. He endured SUCH a battle trying to get his account back only to have it hacked AGAIN while he was awaiting the delivery of his authenticator. In the end he just threw up his hands and gave up. Walking away from the game completely as a result of the overwhelm frustration.

Our guild for its size is VERY close knit. We can usually spot a hacker on an account quickly but you feel so impotent as you see them being victimized. You can report it to a Game Master if you happen to be fortunate enough to actually get a hold of one in a reasonable amount of time. You can also attempt to contact the victim to let them know they are being hacked. Beyond that you are pretty much limited to harassing the hacker and keep him from doing as much business as possible.

It can be difficult for your guild on a variety of levels when you have a member hacked as well. Not only do you have the loss of that player and any gear they may have acquired but if the hacker then uses the character to victimize OTHERS you may have to deal with the victims coming to YOU as a guild leader demanding restitution. We endured this with one of our younger guild members early in the Wrath expansion. In this case the hacker used our guild member's character to do the "mount and pet codes" scam. I spent about a week talking to various people who were cheated, informing them of our guild member's OWN victimization and encouraging them to prepare themselves for hacks on their OWN accounts. This despite having guild members proclaiming in trade chat that the character was under the control of a hacker and buyers should beware.

It is very easy to get over whelmed and become paranoid when discussing hacks. All it takes is for my computer's performance to go down to get me scouring my system for viruses. Blizzard works hard to promote account security and to make sure their players are aware of the various types of scams and attacks out there. However the best protection you have sits in your own chair. Be vigilant. Take precautions and if something sounds to good to be true it most likely is. Authenticators are the best $7 you can spend (the key fob ones are SLIGHTLY more secure than the phone app ones as the numbers are only good for about ten seconds verses a minute on the phone apps). Follow the other precautions mentioned such as the account name for your account. Be skeptical of ANY Email you get supposedly from Blizzard. If it doesn't come on the account email you can be CERTAIN it is NOT real. Like Blizzard says over and over NO ONE from Blizzard will ask for your account name and password.

Blizzard has greatly increased their ability to restore characters but it isn't easy. Sometimes they will just offer a "care package" in an attempt to speed the matter along. For those with nothing more than lower level characters this can be a viable option for recovery. Those of us with a large number of higher level characters decked out in full raid gear will usually opt out of this in favor of getting as much of our original stuff back. There are limits to what they can do however. I know for myself they were unable to restore the three bags full of enchanting mats and primals my priest had and some of my gear was missing enchants. However when the other option is starting over from scratch I learned to live with it. The preference is to just not have to experience at all.

The thing to remember is that technically Blizzard doesn't have to DO anything. They in reality OWN these characters we invest so much time and effort in. When they take the time to restore for us after an account compromise they are in fact doing us a FAVOR. They do everything in their power to educate their customers about the hazards of playing on line and what things we can do to protect ourselves. When it all comes down to it only WE can choose to take that advice or not. The control is COMPLETELY resting on OUR shoulders.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Proposed Cataclysm Rogue changes

FINALLY!!! So last night after the raid I looked to see if they had posted the newest information for the Cataclysm review (the rogue one of course, who cares about any other class?...well yeah I have alts but....anyway). To my great chagrin it was only to discover that I was to be denied until this morning....Evil Blizzard.

So what all do they have planned for us THIS expansion?
New Rogue Abilities

Redirect (available at level 81): Rogues will be getting a new ability to help them deal with changing targets. Redirect will transfer any active combo points to the rogue's current target, helping to ensure combo points aren't wasted when swapping targets or when targets die. In addition, self-buff abilities like Slice and Dice will no longer require a target, so rogues can spend extra combo points on those types of abilities (more on this below). Redirect will have a 1-minute cooldown and no other costs.

Combat Readiness (level 83): Combat Readiness is a new ability that we intend rogues to trigger defensively. While this ability is active, whenever the rogue is struck by a melee or ranged attack, he or she will gain a stacking buff called Combat Insight that results in a 10% reduction in damage taken. Combat Insight will stack up to 5 times and the timer will be refreshed whenever a new stack is applied. Our goal is to make rogues better equipped to go toe-to-toe with other melee classes when Evasion or stuns are not in play. This ability lasts 6 seconds and has a 2-minute cooldown.

Smoke Bomb (level 85): The rogue drops a Smoke Bomb, creating a cloud that interferes with enemy targeting. Enemies who are outside the cloud will find themselves unable to target units inside the cloud with single-target abilities. Enemies can move inside the cloud to attack, or they can use area-of-effect (AoE) abilities at any time to attack opponents in a cloud. In PvP, this will open up new dimensions of tactical positional gameplay, as the ability offers a variety of offensive and defensive uses. In PvE, Smoke Cloud can serve to shield your group from hostile ranged attacks, while also drawing enemies closer without the need to rely on conventional line-of-sight obstructions. Smoke Cloud lasts 10 seconds and has a 3-minute cooldown.

Changes to Abilities and Mechanics

We're also planning to make changes to some of the other abilities and mechanics you're already familiar with. This list and the summary of talent changes below it are by no means comprehensive, but they should give you a good sense of what we want for each spec.

  • In PvP, we want to reduce the rogue's dependency on binary cooldowns and "stun-locks," and give them more passive survivability in return. One major change is that we'll put Cheap Shot on the same diminishing return as other stuns. The increase to Armor and Stamina on cloth, leather, and mail gear will help with this goal as well. 
  • In PvE, even accounting for active modifiers like Slice and Dice and Envenom, a very large portion of the rogue's damage is attributable to passive sources of damage. Yes, they are using abilities for the entire duration of a fight, but we want to reduce the percentage of rogue damage that comes from auto-attacks and poisons. More of their damage will be coming from active abilities and special attacks. 
  • We would like to improve the rogue leveling experience. Positional attacks and DoT-ramping mechanics will be de-emphasized at low levels and then re-introduced at higher levels for group gameplay. We are also providing rogues with a new low-level ability, Recuperate, to convert combo points into a small heal-over-time (HoT). 
  • To complement the change to combo points, non-damage abilities such as Recuperate and Slice and Dice will no longer have target requirements and can be used with any of the rogue's existing combo points, including combo points remaining on recently killed targets. This will not affect damage abilities, which will still require combo points to be present on the specific target you want to damage. To coincide with this, the UI will be updated so that rogues know how many combo points they have active. 
  • Ambush will now work with all weapons, but will have a reduced coefficient when not using a dagger. When opening from Stealth, all rogues will be able to choose from burst damage, DoT abilities, or a stun. 
  • As we've done recently with some of the Subtlety abilities, we want to make sure more rogue abilities aren't overly penalized by weapon choice. With a few exceptions (like Backstab), you should be able to use a dagger, axe, mace, sword, or fist weapon without being penalized for most attacks. 
  • Deadly Throw and Fan of Knives will now use the weapon in the ranged slot. In addition, we hope to allow rogues to apply poisons to their throwing weapons. 
  • We are very happy with Tricks of the Trade as a general mechanic and as a way to give rogues more group utility, but we don't want it to account for as much threat transfer as it does now.

New Talents and Talent Changes

In Cataclysm, the overall feel of each of the rogue's talent trees will change, as we would like each tree to have a clearly defined niche and purpose. The talent details below are meant to give you an idea of what we're going for.

  • Assassination will be more about daggers, poisons, and burst damage. 
  • Combat will be all about swords, maces, fist weapons, axes, and being engaged toe-to-toe with your enemies. A Combat rogue will be able to survive longer without needing to rely on Stealth and evasion mechanics. 
  • The Subtlety tree will primarily be based around utilizing Stealth, openers, finishers, and survivability. It'll be about daggers, too, but less so than Assassination.
  • In general, Subtlety rogues needs to do more damage than they do today, and the other trees need to have more tools. 
  • Weapon-specialization talents (for all classes, not just rogues) are going away. We do not want you to have to respec when you get a different weapon. Interesting talents, such as Hack and Slash, will work with all weapons. Boring talents, such as Mace Specialization and Close Quarters Combat, will be going away. 
  • The Assassination and Combat talent trees currently have a lot of passive bonuses. We plan to dial back the amount of Critical Strike Rating provided by these trees so that rogues still want it on their gear.

Mastery Passive Talent Tree Bonuses

Melee damage
Melee critical damage
Poison damage

Melee damage
Melee Haste
Harder-hitting combo-point generators

Melee damage
Armor Penetration
Harder-hitting finishers

The initial tier of rogue Mastery bonuses will be very similar between the trees. However, the deeper that a player goes into any tree, the more specialized and beneficial the Masteries will be to the play style for that spec. Assassination will have better poisons than the other two specs. Combat will have very steady and consistent overall damage. Subtlety will have strong finishers.

Can I say "interesting"? A few things really stood out to me from this proposal. (Yes I will always refer to them as "Proposed Changes" because we all know how they may WANT to do something but then discover it doesn't work "as intended" and things fall to the claws of certain crabs we know.

Redirect: The name kinda threw me. My first thought was "They trying to turn us into hunters?" Then I read further. To have the option of switching targets WITH OUT wasting combo points REALLY appeals. The cool down on it seems a little steep though. Hopefully we will get a glyph to shorten it like we did for Killing Spree.

Combat Readiness: Sounds like another "OH CRAP" button for those times your tank takes a powder. That and of course Pvp, the cool down on it seems reasonable as well.

Smoke Bombs: LOVE IT, sounds like I have an engineer in my pocket. This will be VERY interesting to see how it finally looks, but to have SOMETHING that can pull ranged TO YOU....YUMMY!!! My only concern is that it may suffer from the same issues as Vanish...but we won't talk about that.

Other Things of Note:
Cheap Shot on global cooldown diminishing returns. Saddening but not surprising. Have to bring rogues on par with the rest of the world I suppose. 

Removing weapon's penalties on moves such as Ambush sounds intriguing, will be interesting to see how that actually pans out. The removal of Weapon's specialization will definitely make life easier, being as I am a person who has to have ALL my weapon's skills maxed out it will save me a lot of time. 

The changes to the leveling experience also have me intrigued. I has already decided to level a Goblin Rogue come Cataclysm so I can't wait to see how things will work in the end. Not having to set up EVERY attack will certainly speed things up even more. 

Changing combo points so they won't be wasted when we have to switch targets....OH WHY HAS IT TAKEN SO LONG FOR THIS?!?!? For combat especially this is going to be huge. Tie into that the fact that Slice and Dice won't require a specific target to engage and this should equal a NICE dps increase. The UI changes regarding this will also be interesting to see as I have used a mod for so long I am not sure I even remember what the standard UI looks like....

Having Fan of Knives and Deadly Throw using our TROWING weapons just makes sense. The only problem I see with this is that it will effectively remove Bows, Crossbows and Guns from our loot lists. (Hunters may rejoice now.) I hope they decided to allow us to poison them up too. 

The incoming nerf to Tricks of the Trade makes me is about the only way I keep aggro on lesser geared tanks in Heroics. I can see it...I guess....still makes me cry a little inside.

The Mastery proposals threw me a little. Combat gets Haste and Subtlety gets Armor Pen? Does this mean that Combat might FINALLY get to do something OTHER than Armor Pen? Can't wait to see this in its final form as well. At the moment it sounds like we will be able to follow a single Mastery Tree with out really suffering, what a novel concept!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Elling Trias

This weeks Know Your Rogue Lore is inspired by The Daily Quests' Kelly Meeks and Drew Manser's most recent comic. If you haven't managed to discover them yet DO, they are a set of gifted artists. Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Elling Trias is a humble cheese shop owner in the Trade District of Stormwind City. Or at least that is the impression he gives to the general passerby. However Elling's life was not always so circumvent and it should be noted that his shop is locate RIGHT on the main thoroughfare into Stormwind, just a short step from the Bank and Auction House, the TRUE major area of the city. Why should this make a difference? Because even now Elling can't keep his past behind him.

There is some debate as to how deeply Elling is still involved with the Stormwind Assassins and Mathias Shaw's other organization SI:7 but what IS obvious is that Elling is VERY aware of what is taking place outside his doors. In addition to that as a "humble shop keeper" he is able to maintain relationships with individuals closely associated with less savory groups like the Defias Brotherhood. All of this comes to light if you as an Alliance player stumble across a little quest chain known as "The Missing Diplomat". There is also a quiet hint in the Western Plaguelands that perhaps Elling is not as "retired" as he is attempting to portray.

So who exactly IS Elling Trias and how does fit into the over all scheme of things? Elling is a contemporary of Mathias Shaw and Edwin VanCleef. He was a part of the group who helped to maintain order and spy for Stormwind during the turbulent years of its reconstruction. However Elling is no fool, when injures cost him his eye he determined that perhaps a less "high profile" career would be the way to go. While traveling in Dalaran he took the time to drop a copper coin into the fountain expressing he wish to be able to pursue his true passion...cheese.

Presently Elling and his family (who consist of his wife Elaine, as well as sons Ben and Lucian) are focused on running their business. However don't assume that the Trias family is only working in wine and cheese. I highly doubt it is a coincidence that Lucian's shop is located RIGHT NEXT to the Horde district in Dalaran. Take into consideration the amount of merchandise he loses on a regular basis to thievery, he is either MUCH less talented than his father or running a front where profit is NOT the major goal.

Elling doesn't limit his dealings in information either. There is another quest chain Alliance players can stumble across at about level 16 called "The Unsent Letter", players pick up this little gem off of Edwin VanCleef's corpse. Follow this chain and eventually you end up at Mathias Shaw who sends you to collect a "favor" from Trias. (I LOVE the flavor text for this quest as Elling goes on about Deathwing being alive and attacking the city.) If you continue down the chain it quickly becomes evident that Elling has something to do with planning assassinations of nobles of...dubious loyalty. What is interesting about this chain is that it changed. Originally the quest ended with Lady Prestor who would tell you that the King is away on a "Diplomatic mission" (see previous Missing Diplomat) and rewards you for your "service" in his name. Since Wrath the quest now ends with King Varian himself who thanks you for your efforts and rewards you himself.

Now Elling, Elaine, Ben and Lucain are not the only known members of the Trias family. There is also speculation that a certain horde rogue trainer named David Trias may also be a relative, perhaps a brother who fell victim to the plague. This would make sense as familiarity with the rogue career is certainly rampant in the clan. In the end the most famous member and the one most beloved is the Master of Cheese himself Elling Trias.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Rep: Knights of the Ebon Blade

I'm not sure where I want to start with the story of The Knights of the Ebon Blade, a faction that some feel is truly the heart of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Not since Vanilla and the Cenarion Circle have we seen a group in which the CLASS you are can effect your reputation gaining abilities. There is no way you can discuss these guys without looking at Death Knights in general so lets begin there and move forward until we get ourselves to present day.

The Death Knights for Blizzard have undergone several reworkings. When they were first introduced in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness they were really little more than mounted Liches. At that point in time Death Knights were the souls of fallen orc warlocks residing in the claimed bodies of Alliance Knights. With Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos they decided to get rid of the middle man and just go about corrupting former Paladins turning them into puppets of the Lich King. Unlike the original Death Knights this new incarnation were apt at both close quarter combat as well as ranged increasing their ability for terror on the field.

This brings us to their PRESENT incarnation. Now the ranks of the Death Knights are filled with both the fallen as well as the willing and deceived from various disciplines. Gifted fighters, their present abilities reflecting the previous two incarnations with a new twist. Their ability to control their own actions have been greatly increased, to the point that some of them have managed to escape the grasp of the Lich King and now work independently.

After the Battle of Light's Hope Darion Mograine gathered those willing to defect with him and took the floating necropolis Acherus over the Scarlet Enclave in the Easter Plaguelands as their new home. Once that base was established as a neutral ground for ALL Death Knights he sent representatives back to their original factions with letters from Tirion. With the former heroes once again welcomed amongst the Alliance and the Horde the Death Knights of the newly formed Ebon Blade fixed their eyes on Icecrown and gaining retribution for all that they have endured.

If you play a Death Knight you will reach friendly with the faction shortly after you gain your freedom from the Lich King, all other classes begin at neutral and really won't encounter the Knights of the Ebon Blade until Northrend. Most players will first begin gaining reputation with this faction at their quest hub in Zul'Drak. Here the Knights of the Ebon Blade are working in conjunction with the Argent Crusade but it is still VERY early in their relationship so distrust and disdain between the two factions is evident.

By the time you get to Icecrown and encounter the Knights of the Ebon Blade again Darion Mograin and Tirion Fordring are BOTH present so the everyday troopers are on their best behavior. However if you manage to take the time to listen to Darion (disguised as the Ebon Watcher) and Tirion discussing tactics at the Argent Vanguard you will quickly realize that the two have VERY different ideas about what it will take to win against Arthas. This divide is further demonstrated at the Argent Tournament where Death Knights have their own SEPARATE quest givers from those of other players. (Though the quests given are exactly the same.)

Aboard the flying ships the Skybreaker and Orgrim's Hammer players will encounter representatives of the Ebon Blade working with the Alliance and Horde military. Again the basic troopers express their discomfort with working with the Death Knights but by this time the specific representatives have earned their grudging respect. Thassarian and his friend Koltira Deathweaver start players on the quest chain to create a Ebon Blade stronghold, this time in the recently purged Shadow Vault. Once players complete the "Its all fun and games" quest line you gain access to both the Ebon Blade quartermaster and a wide range quests which will quickly get you to exalted reputation.

In total the Knights of the Ebon Blade offer 112 quests. Of those only seven are Death Knight specific. Eleven are daily quests all located in Icecrown. What this means is that while you won't really be able to work on gaining reputation with this faction until about level 77, it is VERY easy to get after that point. Once you have access to the quartermaster in the Shadow Vault you can also obtain a tabard and gain reputation while running dungeons as well.

Why is gaining reputation with these guys even important? Because at Revered you can purchase the helm enchant Arcanum of Torment which for the vast majority of dps classes is the enchant of choice. When Wrath was first released they also sold some of the best introductory epics available, however with the introduction of the tier gear for badges system this isn't as much the case any longer.

Happy Grinding!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Things that make you go WHAAAT?

For as long as I have played World of WarCraft there are still a few things that make absolutely NO sense to me at all. Things that just make me go "What were they THINKING when they made THOSE choices?" Do you ever have those experiences or is it just my sad twisted little brain?

Take for example the fact that Priest and Paladins CAN'T decurse. I mean they are SUPPOSE to use the power of the HOLY to do things right? Holy is generally considered the OPPOSITE of curses (ignoring Shadow priests of course). Wouldn't it be logical for them to be able to decurse? Along with that why can't Druids remove diseases? They deal in NATURE right? (Again ignoring when they are just mauling or chewing on things.) Wouldn't it make sense that THEY remove diseases?  But as you know that isn't how it works. We have Mages removing curses. What the heck does a MAGE have to do with curses? Other than the fact that Mages HATE Warlocks it makes no sense what so ever. Why can't WARLOCKS remove curses? They are the ones PUTTING them on everyone to begin with. THAT would make sense.

Have you ever stopped to consider the fact that we can tote 100+ mounts and/or non combat pets around with us at ALL times? I don't know about you but the thought of trying to lift just ONE mammoth gives me a backache and sure as heck should break blood elf in half. Let us also not forget just how much scat that would produce. We should be able to grow herbs in our bags if you think about it to closely. Other than the Forsaken and Death Knights the smell ALONE should have killed most of us off by now. Yet we do it every day without a second thought.

When they removed the weight limits and Tauren were suddenly able to ride chickens the cartoons we saw were laugh out loud funny but how can any mount FLY with one of those bovine on their backs? Only way that would make sense is with a bumble bee who defies logic to begin with. It is just something I think about every time the platewearer in the family pops out his beloved Argent Hippogryph. On the same theme of mounts, why is it that Gnome mounts are larger than any other Alliance members? Ever notice that? I mean I KNOW they have big heads but do they really need enlarged mounts to carry the extra weight? Tauren and Draeni it makes sense but Gnomes?

Armor designs, what are those artists SMOKING when they come up with some of these things? Most shoulders now a days would take out an eye let alone weight about 50 pounds and that is just the CLOTH. At least now most of the pants designs cover the knees. Not sure WHY they got hooked on capris there for a bit. Did someone forget to mention that it SNOWS in Northrend? The pickled heads we have had as Rogue helms these last few tiers just makes me shutter. Thank goodness we don't have to show them all the time. Which makes me wonder about the invisible armor. While I might appreciate it how much confidence can you really have in INVISIBLE armor?

Why is it that Forsaken ALWAYS have their spine, elbows and knees sticking out through EVERYTHING? Cutting holes in EVERY outfit they own has got to be annoying. You would think if they can get things to fit over a Tauren they would be able to NOT have their bones exposed all the time. Not only that but wouldn't you want to protect them? When you are barely holding yourself together to begin with some extra padding would seem to be appreciated.

Now I know this is a fantasy world so a certain amount of logic suspension is required. Yet sometimes even that suspension is pushed to the limits by some of the things we encounter every day and I just have to stop and wonder....What WERE they thinking when they made some of these decisions?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Gankly Rottenfist

Gankly Rottenfist is on of those fun characters who could almost be considered an Easter Egg. This elusive NPC appears randomly near the Nessingwary Safari in Nagrand. While his intended target is another random NPC named Kristen Dipswitch. (Originally her name was Kristen DeMeza a tribute to Blizzard Employee Caydiem of Forum fame.) He will also attack any others who happen to be in the area attempting to turn in or receive their OWN quests.

If players don't interfere Gankly jumps Kristen shortly after she rides up to the camp, killing her. He then rummages through her bags stealing her quest turn in. Once this is accomplished he attempts to turn the items in himself to Harold who promises him his "just reward". The results are vindication for every lowbie ever ganked by a higher level in Stranglethorn as Nessingwary and the other members of the expedition fill him full of buckshot. Turning him into their latest hunting trophy and a lovely rug for the center of the camp.

Gankly is considered a modern representation of every high level rogue who spends their time harassing lower level players attempting to turn in their quests. (Christian Chase would be proud.) Clad in the pvp Warlord's Vestments his fighting technique is rather poor for someone who should be VERY good at pvp. He is a Subtlety rogue who will stop at nothing less than death in taking out his intended victim. If you attempt to run away rather than fight him he will chase you endlessly. If he manages to kill you (which unless you are EXTREMELY poorly geared or a MUCH lower level should NOT happen) he will camp your corpse for about 5 minutes before despawning. He has VERY low health, just shy of 6k with VERY low damage output so few people should consider him ANY type of threat even at level 65.

Gankly has managed to collect for himself a cult type following as I know of individuals who happily hang out at the Nessingwary Camp waiting for Kristen to ride up since her appearance anticipates his own. I know of numerous individuals who have NEVER managed to encounter him but if you are so fortunate feel free to end his miserable life and Kristen will give you a nice little quest reward.