Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Today in the United States we take a break from daily living to honor those who have sacrificed so that we can enjoy the freedoms we take for granted. As an Air Force Brat myself, growing up surrounded by men and women who chose the military as a career I can only say it is a life style of disciple. I am not sure about the rest of you but presently in our guild we have several members who are currently serving in our armed forces and I just want to take this time to send a shot out to them.

To Sharky and Cryo, our Seabees, your  dedication is amazing. We are all so thankful that you are home safe at the moment but know that at any time you could be called away to take care of some other crisis and our prayers are with you.

Thex, you are still trying to settle in Japan after your recent transfer. We anxiously await when you will be back pounding the keyboards so hard we can hear it over vent. Your work with new recruits has had a profound  impact and as you prepare for your up coming retirement we can only hope we will get to spend even more time with you.

Zan, at present you are serving in Iraq and your wife and mother thankful keep us updated on your well being. We will continue to keep you in our prayers, awaiting your safe return. Keep working hard and come home soon.

In addition to these we have many others such as Steely and Lomaxx who served in the past. While the two I mentioned have recently been experiencing some health issues they are missed greatly when unable to log on, I don't want to forget to mention them.

Take the time this weekend to call up anyone you know who serves in the armed forces and tell them thank you for all they do. If you know someone who served in the past, encourage them to tell you about what they did. So many of those stories get lost in time. In your guild if you know of anyone serving take the time to encourage them. Most of all remember, today is more than a great day for a BBQ, it is a time to commemorate the greatest among us.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Little bear, there is so much that you have missed out on, let me ask you, do you remember starting out with only ONE little dagger? When we use to have to gather herbs like fadeleaf and swiftthistle so you could craft things like blinding powder, vanish powder and poisons? If you didn't have STACKS of those powders you didn't use those moves often? When we were all addicted to Thistle Tea? When in order to get a buff you had to be out of stealth? When casting Detect traps implemented the swirly ball? When you had to have Thieves tools to lockpick or disarm anything and it came from a quest? When people wanted rogues for their Lockpicking skill? When you had to wait for 3-5 sunders before you could attack and then you started out SLOWLY, if you got high on the aggro you STOPPED dps until you dropped down? When a rogue's best friend was a paladin with Hand of Salvation?

Do you remember when to be properly prepared to raid you had buff food, scrolls, regents, flasks, resistance gear, and if you had ANY empty bag space you were lucky? When poisons had charges and only lasted a maximum of 10 min so you were constantly having to reapply them? When entering or exiting an instance would remove your poisons? When placing a sap took you out of stealth unless you specced for a 90% chance for it NOT to and hated every time that 10% it failed?

Do you remember when AV fights took 12+ hours, sometimes entire weekends? When Warsong Gulch could be endless? When to earn pvp rank required HOURS of dedicated play? People would leave battlegrounds because the other team was full of Battle Marshals or High Warlords? When the defense channel was for SERIOUS pvpers and required rank to talk in? When there was such a thing as a DISHONORABLE kills?

Do you remember when it took the best guilds in the world MONTHS to kill every boss in the game because they had to craft resistance or other special gear for EVERYONE? When you had to clear trash both TO and FROM the boss? When raiding meant attempting to get 40 people together at the same time and required HOURS of grinding respawning trash?

Do you remember when you needed crowd control to do a 5 man dungeon? When the art of pulling a room could mean the difference between a wipe or victory? When the Horde complained that the Alliance had the advantage with Paladins and Alliance complained that Shamans were better? When Blues were considered GOOD gear and Epics were something you bragged about? When to get INTO a raid required a long, involved and sometimes expensive attunement quest?

Do you remember when flight paths weren't linked so you had to specifically select each stop on the way to your destination and if you messed up it required repeating the process? When to get to a dungeon you had to WALK there? When getting your first mount required Level 40 and training in the skill cost LESS than the mount? When epic speed mounts were rare because they took months to gather enough gold to be able to afford?

Do you remember when if an individual had more than one max level character the thought was they must have no life and live in their parent's basement? When earning gold took a LONG time and hitting the gold cap was almost an achievement in and of itself? When there were no such things as "Daily Quests"?

So often we talk about how WoW USE to be as if it was this golden paradise of gamers. Sure some things have gotten SIGNIFICANTLY easier like leveling and managing the basic needs of a character. These are just the things that come quickly to my mind, what about you? Are any of the things I mentioned stuff you would wish to have return?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Bertelm

Bertelm is a member of the original Alliance forces that came through the Dark Portal with  legendary heroes General Turalyon, Archmage Khadgar and Ranger Alleria Windrunner. As a part of the Sons of Lothar he worked specifically with Force Commander Danath Trollbane in tracking down Ner'zhul. Unfortunately we know how that story played out. (If you don't it is all contained in the book Beyond the Dark Portal by Aaron Rosenberg and Christie Golden.) Now he calls the Allerian Stronghold in Terokkar Forest of Outland home.

As a result of his isolation Bertelm has no difficulty working with the High Elves, nor confusing them with the Blood Elves because these are all recent changes for him. In fact it seems that Bertelm has developed a bit of a crush on one of the new arrivals to the stronghold, the seamstress Ros'eleth. In his desire to get to know her better he laments the loss of all the taverns back in Stormwind and plans for how he can convince her to go for a "nice walk in the woods" with him.

As a quest giver Bertelm has you assist him with both his job AND his personal obsession. When you first meet him, Bertelm shares his belief that Ros'eleth must have feelings for him as she winks whenever he goes to pick up something from her. So he wants to create a special garment using local materials to impress her. Unfortunately work keeps getting in the way, limiting his ability to gather all the materials. Bertelm asks for your assistance both in thinning out the ranks of the Fel Orcs in the area as well as gathering up some worg tails and a specific worg's hide for his "masterpiece" garment. Bertelm also sends you to one of his operatives, a High Elf rogue by the name of Theloria Shadecloak to see what all she has discovered.

Theloria will tell you that much to her dismay the Blood Elves are working with the Fel Orcs. When you slip inside the Bonechewer encampment to remove the Firewing Liaison you will see a paper on the ground. Pick that up and take it back to Bertelm for analysis. Bertelm will then inform you that despite all ideas to the contrary the Blood Elves are not just working WITH the Fel Orcs, they are actually the ones in charge, using the Fel Orcs as a diversion for the Allerian forces.  Why he doesn't know but it means his seduction of the lovely Ros'eleth is going to have to wait.

One last item of note about Bertelm, he is slightly taller than the average human male. This may have to do with the in game mechanics that make bosses larger than average (Think of the changes in Tirion.) Not all npcs are effected this way but oddly enough Bertelm is one of them.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Officer Renewal Week

About every 6 months or at least once a year our guild leadership does a little thing called "Officer Renewal Week". During this time all the officers as well as some of the class leads get together to discuss strategy, up coming changes in the game or guild, and most importantly build our personal relationships with each other by just doing some "fun" activities. Whenever one of these is coming up we post it both on the website as well the in game calendar about a month in advance. The week before we will post a reminder in the message of the day so that individuals can plan.

We don't leave the guild COMPLETELY high and dry, we will still do at least one or maybe two guild sponsored 25 man runs but the majority of the week is focused just on the officers and class leads. Guild members can listen in on vent but are asked not to interrupt. If they have any questions about what they hear they can whisper one of the officers who will then either answer the question, relay it or invite the individual to pose it themselves. The instances we are running? 10 man Nax, Kara, heroics or old world stuff. Things you can easily do with 5 to 10 people while stopping a lot for games and discussion.

This year will be a little different in that we WILL actually go into current content in the form of Icc 10. This was at the suggestion of a guild member who noticed that one group of officers used different strategies than the other group and suggested we discuss why we do what each of us does. The problem is that our officers are generally divided between the two ten man teams. The only time we DO run together is in the 25 mans or when we do heroics. This makes it difficult to see what one team may be doing different than the other unless you float between the two.

Of course individuals who haven't been paying ANY attention have started screaming about the "exclusion". How DARE the officers do ANYTHING without other guild members? It is as if we suddenly went off to shoot kittens rather than play musical chairs in Kara. So each night one or more of us is explaining what is going on to the uninformed and inviting them to listen in. These times are always beneficial and in the end even the loudest detractors see that. At the same time it can be a bit draining because we are running something EVERY night this week rather than the usual three or four.

So what about all of you? Do any of you in leadership positions take time to JUST focus on your fellow leaders? If you are a guild member do you see your leadership doing anything like this? How do you feel about the whole idea? May I suggest you give it a try or at least suggest it, in this time of frequent burn out you might be surprised at the results.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Your so vain

I was asked recently in guild chat why it was that I so seldom blog about our guild. The question was prompted by the individual wondering if this was a conscious choice or that I just didn't think our guild was that interesting. Let me start out by saying it IS a conscious decision. It is not because I am not proud of them or don't enjoy what we do together but whenever I DO write about guild members or issues it is as if I can hear Carly Simon singing in the back ground. Because soon after I post  something referencing  the guild people will start whispering me. "I can't believe you said that about me!" "Were you talking about ME?" "I see myself in what you wrote."

It just makes me laugh because 10 times out of 10 the people I was ACTUALLY discussing NEVER think it is them. Those that have known me for even a little bit will soon realize that I am NOT the type of person to generalize if I have a problem with someone. I only do that when I am describing the situation to others looking for feedback or I don't have the individuals permission to discuss them. I also prefer to handle my disagreements in private rather than gather a posse in an attempt to force individuals into seeing things my way.

Whenever I do get upset I try to first I consider WHY I am. Did the person do something wrong or am I unusually sensitive to whatever took place? For example I was recently in a pug raid in which the loot rules were "one epic per person unless no one else is interested in it." Well the Cultist's Bloodsoaked Spaulders dropped and NO ONE was interested in it. So I said if it was only going to get disenchanted than could I take them for my off spec? Then we get to Saurfang and Bloodvenom Blade drops. I roll on it and win. The only other person who rolled on it was a hunter and he rolled AFTER I had already received the sword, as well as below my roll. The next thing I know the raid leader is telling me to give the sword to the hunter because I got the shoulders. I was upset to say the least, several others in the raid didn't feel it was right either. I kinda ranted a bit about it in guild chat but I gave up the sword. Depending entirely on how you interrupt the loot rules I could see where the Raid Leader was coming from. I thought it was stupid, (still do in fact), since the hunter has since replaced that sword with something better FOR HIM. The raid leader wasn't WRONG to tell me to give up the sword, I just didn't like the decision he made regarding it. Sure I could have pitched a fit but that most likely would then have adversely effected the raid. So I chose to suck it up and move on then talk to the raid leader about it later. Expressing the opinion that it might be better to make sure there is further clarification of the loot rules.

Sometimes things happen I can't just ignore until later. I am not the type to languish in frustration or invoke the silent treatment in hopes I am "punishing" the person. (Note to those who DO use these methods, the only person you hurt is yourself, few people will even NOTICE if you refuse to speak to the people you are mad at and if they DO you are then labeled a "Drama Queen".) So when these types of things happen I will pull the individual(s) aside and let them know I think there  is a problem and explain that issue to the best of my ability.  Or at the very least send them a letter expressing my concerns if I am  unable to connect with them other wise.

Consider the fact we frequently get younger guild members who use the word "rape" to describe things. "We raped that other Arena team." "Lets rape this dungeon!" Etc. Now being female and knowing that one in four women have been sexual assaulted, I find these types of comments uncomfortable. I know they don't MEAN to be offensive, that for their generation this is a common term used for highly successful accomplishment. That doesn't mean I could go forever hearing them say it all the time or that other women enjoy it either. Personally I feel like a cat getting its fur rubbed the wrong way. So I talk to them about it, explained my sensitivity and asked if they will be willing to take that into consideration. At that point they have two options, they can blow me off and tell me to live with it or they can say "sure, not a problem, remind me if I forget." Now I have had both responses at different times.

When the person agrees there is a problem and together we work to correct it, I couldn't be happier. Most often this is what happens. Other times the person may disagree with my proposed solution or just tell me to "Suck it up Princess". At this point the ball is back in my court. I can choose to acknowledge they are right, the problem is mine OR I can move forward, work harder to gain resolution. Sometimes this last won't happen, strangely enough the few times it HAS gotten to this point the individual usually leaves the guild because of other issues. So I get a solution in the end even if it isn't the one I hoped for.

This is all part of our guild's conflict policy anyway. If you have a problem with a guild member you have to talk to THEM about if FIRST and try to resolve it. If that doesn't work you can then go to a guild officer and ask for some mediation. Often they will be able to find a good cross section of individuals who are aware of the tension or at least have a general opinion regarding the issue. If they ALSO consider this a problem they will set up a meeting in a private channel in vent. If they feel the conflict will adversely effect the rest of the guild then they are usually more than happy to intervene. Sometimes they will confront the individual bringing the complaint saying: "you need to let this go, this is a personal thing." Then members have to respect that. (Those that struggle with these decisions usually end up leaving as well sadly.)

One of the problems you face as a guild leader is that you can't always have close relationships with EVERYONE in your guild. There are some that will be friends, others colleagues and others mere acquaintances. By having a GROUP of officers you open up the option of others having those closer relationships with different people than you do. This will give you greater insight into some situations. Generally whenever discipline has to take place our officers try to have the one with the closest relationship deal with it. They may have insight into the individual that can bring about the desired result as quickly and painlessly as possible. It is generally bad when you see people choosing sides in a conflict and can destroy a guild if you allow things to go this far. So it is best to have a united front on this score. Having clear cut understandable rules POSTED makes this part even easier.

Sometimes I have to conduct the confrontation myself because I am a guild leader and carry the "big stick" as it were. Few people enjoy being the "bad guy". I certainly don't. I don't enjoy silences from everyone when someone logs on for fear of trouble either. I have been accused by NUMEROUS people of ONLY talking to them when there is difficulty. Now this is NEVER the case but I remember enough times when I have felt that way myself when dealing with authority figures to not take it personally. There is a vast difference between being told hello and asked about your day, verses being confronted about something others consider a problem. Few people enjoy being told they are wrong. However I am also aware that NOT doing my job of being the "confrontational one" can lead to greater problems down the road for EVERYONE.

So what does this have to do with Carly Simon's Song? Well the reason I don't blog about those I am irritated with is that I don't see how listening to me rant about annoying guild mates is interesting reading, especially when the vast majority will have absolutely NO CLUE who I am discussing nor does it seem beneficial for anyone. Further more a individual who may drive ME absolutely BONKERS could be hysterically humorous to someone else. (Jay Leno and Connan O'Brian fans know what I am talking about.)
If any of you thought I was a part of the illusive "perfect guild" let me destroy those notions now. I am sad to say that will not exist so long as there are people in it, especially myself. I chose to deal with matters head on in hopes of making my life and that of those around me a little better as time goes on. What about the rest of you?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rogue Lore: Alrin the Agile

I wasn't planning on talking about Alrin today but this guy has been the bane of my existence for three weeks running now so maybe if I give him his day in the spot light he will vanish for a while. Alrin the Agile is another member of the Argent Crusade's special forces working as part of the Ashen Verdict. He presently is in the position of  supervisor over all the covert operations within Icecrown Citadel, most specifically dealing with reconnaissance.

As with his dwarven colleague Minchar Alrin is wearing his Alliance armor, (though why he is only using one dagger is beyond me.)  Also like Minchar you should only see him if he needs your assistance. Alrin will report  that Infiltrator Minchar has been captured and is presently being tortured by the Blood-Queen Lana'thel. (The dwarf's screams of "Eep" are kinda funny though.) Alrin informs you that Minchar is fading fast and won't last more than a half an hour in her hands, you need to fight your way past all the San'layn and rescue him. Most raiders HATE this quest. The GOOD part is you only need to make sure that Lana'thel is ENGAGED within that 30 minutes and then kill her successfully. The problem is getting past all her annoying trash and long winded speeches in that time. The timer starts as soon as the first trash mob is pulled (though I have heard there are ways to get around it for the first trash mob which makes this SLIGHTLY easier, I personally have never seen them work.) Even if NO ONE has the quest the timer will start.

If you are successful Alrin gifts you with your tasty reward, 56g and a Sack of Frosty Treasure which contains 5 emblems of Frost and a chance to contain epic level gems or even BOE 265 gear. While the carrot he dangles is quite tasty, sometimes I have to wonder if Minchar thought being killed at the hands of the lovely Lana'thel was preferable to continuing to work with Alrin.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dangers of Killing Spree

Soooo....last night we went into ICC and I discovered something, Killing Spree ANYWHERE on the gang blanks leading to the upper halls is a BAD idea.

This is what it looks like from the top
and this is what it looks like after you have been flung off the edge and land at the bottom
might I just add, it is a LONG fall.

On a brighter note I FINALLY got an upgraded dagger for my Assassination set. Heartpierce. I also managed to pick up Band of the Bone Colossus. It was very nice to actually get some upgrades for what is suppose to be my MAIN spec that I haven't been able to use it much because my Combat set is so much better.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tricks of the Trade: Macros

What is a Macro?

A macro in its most basic definition is "A set of instructions that abbreviates the need to preform each task separately". For World of Warcraft specifically the term stands for a set of slash commands that are preformed together when you click one button. Blizzard allows us to have a total of 36 of these "macros" which can be available to ALL of your characters, on ALL the servers you play, on each account. In addition to that each specific character may have an additional 18 macros giving a grand total of 54 macro slots PER character.

Some players are afraid to use macros because they consider it "cheating". While there ARE macros that Blizzard considers "illegal", they themselves provide a wide variety to enhance the game. The thing is to be able to identify what is an "illegal" macro verses a "legal" one. The biggest hint that a macro may be "illegal" is that it preforms an action outside of those provided by the standard game client. If you are unsure check sites such as, your specific class forums or Elitist Jerks.

What you will most likely discover is the vast majority of macros you find for rogues today are geared toward the Pvp player, specifically the ARENA pvp player. Why? Because in pvp time is EVERYTHING. Being able to be the FIRST to get a shot off and then getting the most effective use of ALL your abilities will mean the difference between a win and becoming a smear on the floor. That doesn't mean that the PvE player should ignore these valuable tools.

I personally don't use a great many macros, but the ones I DO use I find extremely valuable and provide either convenience or allow for more dps. The nice thing about macros is that you can key bind them to further increase their usability. The one BAD part about them is when you execute a macro, for the duration of the sequence you have no control over your character, so you can't STOP it once it starts unless you create ANOTHER macro to disrupt the sequence. As long as your macros are not really LONG this usually is not an issue.

How do you write a macro?

First log into one of your characters. Then you need to open the macro window. This can be accomplished by either opening up the main menu and selecting the heading "Macros" or by simply typing in /m in the chat box. (/m can also be more completely spelled out to /macro or /macros.) Once you have opened the macro window you will notice two tabs. The first will be your general macro tab, this should contain all the macros which you wish to be shared by ALL of the characters contained on that account.

The next tab is for the macros specific to that particular character. You may want to use this tab for class specific macros unless you have several of one type. It really doesn't matter.

Directly below the tap heading are 18 visible boxes. Along the side is a slider bar which allows you access to all 36 of the macro boxes in the General Tab. As mentioned before you will notice that the character specific tab will only have 18 boxes available.

Directly below this section you will see a red ? in a box or the first macro in your inventory selected. Next to that box is a button which says "change name/icon". If at any time you wish to select a new picture to represent the selected macro, or re title it, you need only to push that button. If you can't decide on an icon you can simply leave the question mark and an icon will be selected for you based upon the spells used in that specific macro.

Beneath this is a text box labeled "Enter Macro Commands", pretty self explanatory. All macros are limited to 255 characters, these characters also include the NAME of the macro. The reason for the limit is that every macro written is stored on the servers rather than your individual pc. This means you will have access to these macros no matter WHAT machine you are playing on.

At the very bottom are three buttons, Delete (which allows you to remove a macro from your inventory), New (which allows you to create macros), and Exit (which allows you to leave the macro window).

Go directly to the bottom of the macro window and push the New Button. A side window will pop up with a line called "Enter Macro Name". Your macro title can be no longer than 16 characters. Directly below that is a box containing 20 icons. There is a slider bar along the side which allows you to scroll through all 1101 icons available for use. Clicking on one of the arrows will move the selection by 10 icons. Simply click on the picture you wish to use to represent that specific macro or leave it blank. Once you have completed this section click on the "Okay" button.

You will notice the new icon immediately appears in one of the boxes mentioned earlier. Over the picture will be displayed either the first word in your macro title or as much of the tile as can fit. It is never a good idea to name two macros the same thing so be creative. Use words, abbreviations or whatever will assist you in remembering what this specific macro does. Macros are listed in alphabetical order for ease of organization.

Now click in the "Enter Macro Commands" box and you can begin to start typing. Once you have completed your macro test it out to make sure it is working as you intended. A simple thing like a miss spelling, missing space or punctuation mark can make all the difference. Every time there is a new patch you will also want to double check your macros to make sure they are still working as intended as changes to spells, commands, etc can also effect their functionality.

Using Macros.

Once you have created your macro and have it working as you wish drag the icon into an action bar. From there you can proceed to key bind or just click on the macro icon whenever you wish to use it. Macros can be created for casting spells, using specific items, targeting, or preforming multiple actions. Just figure out what would be most helpful for you. The other thing of note is that every time there is a patch double check your macros to determine if they are still working as intended.

I mentioned before that I don't really use a lot of macros but here are a few of my "Must Haves".

TotT before Killing Spree
#showtooltip Killing Spree
/target [target=target, help] targettarget; focus
/cast [help] Tricks of the Trade; [harm] Killing Spree

Pick Pocket before opener
/cast Pick Pocket
/cast Garrote

Refreshing Poison on weapons
#showtooltip [modifier:shift]  Instant Poison IX; Crippling Poison
/use [modifier:shift] Deadly Poison IX;
/use [button:2] 17; 16

Feel free to share any you may have that you can't imagining living without.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

World of Warcraft Mag Vol. 2

So Wednesday when the mail arrived it contained something I had completely forgotten about. The newest installment of the World of Warcraft Magazine. That same day they also released an online preview. The preview is massive, 40 pages of unedited content directly from the magazine. Considering the issue is only 144 pages in length this is MORE than an adequate idea of the content contained within. Between the Plate wearer and my oldest son I didn't manage to snatch it and read it for myself until yesterday. Since Kaelynn from Azure Shadows has also done a rather extensive review I will try to avoid repeating to much of what she has already discussed. I will attempt to keep this review general but there will be some spoilers so proceed at your own risk.

As with the first installment this magazine is artistically gorgeous, with both professional and amateur full color renderings, as well as black and white sketches.  In addition it is a high quality publication more in keeping with a paperback coffee table book than a magazine. While the first volume content was dated before it was even released this one contains some information on upcoming content along with information on current endgame. They seemed to have learn some things from their first issue as well. First, while the silver embossed ink is still prevalent, it is generally used on dark backgrounds rather than light making it easier to read. By-lines are included so you know who wrote the article or at the very least credit is given within the article to the contributors . Furthermore the heavy cover is a fold out which works great as a bookmark.

Of the 27 articles contained in this issue my favorite by far was the interview with the quest design team right at the very beginning. The six designers discussed just how they each come up with the quests for the various zones, how long it usually takes them and one of the best features of the article was their discussion on both the quests they are most proud of creating (Lament of the Highborn for example) as well as quests they tell new designers to avoid because of their infamy (Fires over Skettis or The Alchemist's Apprentice stand out). They also discussed the pop culture references contained within the game and how those generally come about. It is obvious from the interview that these guys are a TEAM, collaboration is high and encouraged which helps to give World of Warcraft a cohesive feel as you journey around it. Some of the newer quests they discuss sound REALLY cool.

Another article that I enjoyed was the one discussing the Lore of the Dragons. This particular one is contained in the on line preview and is just as comprehensive. The "family trees" are particularly interesting as they show the relationships between each of the in game dragons players are familiar with. My only disappointment was it only deals with the five specific dragon flights. While the Netherdrakes and Protodrakes ARE mentioned, it is only briefly to explain their place in the over all family trees of the main five.

Two other articles of particular interest in this issue focused on the upcoming changes we with Cataclysm. The first went over each zone that Blizzard has stated will undergo massive reorganization and mentioned specific quests you may want to enjoy one last time before they are lost forever. Some of the quests they mentioned I was anticipating loosing like Mankrik's Wife and all of the Mirage Raceway. However there were a few I was surprised they DIDN'T mention like Lonebrow's Journal or Pamela. The second article presented screen shots to give you a tease of just HOW massive the landmass changes will be including Gadgetzan as beachfront property and the Blasted Lands looking more like a swamp. Of particular interest to me are the changes that the major cities will be undergoing. Orgrimmar we know is getting a massive overhaul so that it will most closely resemble the Horde keeps seen in Northrend, but Stormwind Keep will ALSO be undergoing some massive restructuring. My only disappointment with these changes is that it certainly means certain NPC's like Gamon and Hogger could be disappearing from our collective experience.

The feature recurring subjects such as Pvp, Arena, Tanking, Healing and Damage dealing are all still there, general enough as to not date TO quickly. The community article for this issue looked into FingerPrints and spoke with their CEO Ed Fries. Specifically the articles focus on the new Busts being offered and how that all came about as well as the original full scale renderings. While these are items still well out of my price range it was interesting to see such detailed photos of the final products. As well as learn a little bit more about their costumer service.

Final verdict? While this is still a rather pricey item they seem to be improving as time goes on and I am looking forward to the next installment.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Infiltrator Minchar

Infiltrator Minchar is a member of the Argent Crusade whose background almost certainly includes association with the Hidden Circle and SI:7. Interestingly enough unlike Captain Rupert who is wearing neutral armor, Minchar is proudly displaying his Alliance colors. His job specifically for the Ashen Verdict is reconnaissance. As a result this dwarven rogue will play least in sight for players unless he needs their specific assistance in accomplishing his goal. Minchar is involved in two separate weekly quests located within Icecrown Citadel. Both of them are considered VERY annoying by players.

In the first quest Deprogramming, Minchar charges players with rescuing one of his fellow spies, a human by the name of Darnavan. Apparently Darnavan was so over come by Lady Deathwhispers persuasive powers he decided to switch allegiances. One has to question his reasoning and sanity as personally I am always looking for a mute button to shut Deathwhisper UP. For this quest you have to locate Darnavan amongst the followers Lady Deathwhisper summons during the fight then pull him off to the side so he doesn't get killed. Once you have managed to defeat Deathwhisper Darnavan is fetched by his colleagues to be "deprogrammed" from his brain washing.

The next time you have the opportunity to encounter Infiltrator Minchar it is HE that needs rescuing. While investigating the San'layn in the Halls of Blood Minchar is captured and taken before Queen Lanathel herself for questioning. Minchar's superior Alrin the Agile requests that players rescue him from her clutches. What makes this quest annoying is it is timed. You have 30 minutes from the first pull until his execution, (this was recently increased from 20 minutes) even if no one accepts the quest. That means you have to kill all the trash, the Blood Princes AND Queen Lanathel in order to save Minchar who is being suspended by blood chains in Queen Lanathel's thrown room.  Many consider this to be the HARDEST of the weekly quests located within Icecrown Citadel.

There is also some debate about where exactly Minchar's NAME came from. Some feel it is as result of Elitist Jerks (a precedent that has been set), others think is has something to do with the coding itself. As Blizzard has not seen fit to enlighten us it will just have to stay up for debate and theory.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blue Dragonhawk

So last night I bit the bullet and finally did it. My last mount for the Mountain o' Mounts achievement was the Cenarion War Hippogryph. It took having two guild mates threatening to buy it for me to get me to cough up the dough. I can't help it I am CHEAP. (Can't you hear the little birdies singing?) Wait, lets just go with "Thrifty" it sounds better. Sad thing is I STILL have mounts I want to get. This is quite the change from the individual in Burning Crusade who was always saying "Why do you need another mount? Your butt can only sit on one at a time ANYWAY."

This whole journey started when I was attacked by the Time Lost Protodrake while out picking herbs during the first few weeks of Wrath. It spawned right on top of me and all I saw was the silver dragon as it swooped down. My first thought was "Oh crap a rare, I am going to die" since my last experience with a rare dragon was during Burning Crusade when it took 5 people to take one down. Surprisingly the thing had hardly ANY health and was dead at my feet in a matter of moments. Even more shocking it had a MOUNT on it. Nowhere is there a warning label which states "Caution, this creature's venom will infect you with an itch to collect MORE mounts to keep him company". Before this time, if it wasn't BLACK I wasn't the least bit interested in acquiring it.

I find it ironic that almost exactly one year ago I discussed this achievement and stated that there was NO WAY you could do it without spending a GREAT DEAL of money.  Let me just share that the ONLY expensive mount I own is the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth and THAT was only purchased at the request of my guild for raids. While I was EXTREMELY reluctant to make the 16k plunge the convenience is well worth it. The largest chunk of my collection is made up of reputation based mounts that I seldom use because they are land based. Only one of them is a "real money" mount and I got THAT as a gift. Of the mounts I DO use they are almost exclusively drop or achievement based.

My rare mount farming partner is thrilled I have hit this milestone because he figures any mounts that drop will go to him. (He still has about 25 left to go on his achievement.) My problem is that the itch I got from my Time Lost hasn't lessened in severity. So I will still be hitting up Utgarde Pinnacle for the Blue Protodrake. Rivendare will fall at my hands yet again until I get his Deathcharger, and even after my partner gets his Feather duster I will be doing stealth runs of Sethekk Halls. Most likely I will work on getting the Turkey but I have given up on the Sea Turtle, unless he is kind and comes up while I am fishing for fish feasts.

For those of you still working on collecting, don't give up. From what Bornakk has stated the number of mounts we will have available to us is only going to increase as time goes on. Also the addon Livestock is great for giving you variety. What I most enjoy about it is the fact I can chose which mounts I want included in my random selection.

So happy hunting and Good Luck!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

You know you have reached the pinnacle of "Geek Mom" when your husband and children get you an in game mount for Mother's Day. I logged on and noticed that rather than having Daraia selected it was my Death Knight. My heart dropped because the LAST time something like that happened I had been hacked. Now I have an authenticator so that seemed less likely. A quick peruse through all my characters showed nothing out of the ordinary. A shrug of my shoulders and off I went into my routine. It wasn't until I stopped to empty my bags of trash at the vendors that I discovered the letter.

It seems the sneaky plate wearer in the family snatched my authenticator while I was away and logged into my account. He then proceeded to teach EACH of my toons the Celestial Steed. So yes, I now I have a star pony for my mount collection. Just two more mounts to go and Daraia will have 100.

While it isn't the Chopper, it works since I got a Chopper for my Hubby for Father's Day last year. I think my lowbies may get more use out of it but I do like the fact that it has 310 flight speed due to my other 310 mounts.

So don't forget to tell your Mother "Thank you" for taking the time to bring you into this world and thank you to my little minions for my Mother's Day gift. It truly fits your Mom.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

White Raid

From time to time you just need to take a step back and remember what raiding USE to be like. A recharge in what makes it FUN. Last night we did that, had a "Crazy Raid". What made it crazy? No piece of equipment could be better than White level save trinkets and those could not be better than level 60 blues. Off we all went scrounging our banks for gear. Holiday outfits and Vendor trash were the norm. Barov Peasant Collars and Seal of the Dawn abounded. The idea was basically the only advantage you would have would be the abilities available to you at level 80.

Looking much more like our Classic selves we arrived to Black Rock Mountain. The conversations resembled something like this. "You have 13k health, what haven't you taken off yet?" "What vendor did you find that pair of plate bracers at?" "Hit the shops in Dalaran if you can't find a weapon." "Yeah, you can use your Royal Seal of Eldre'Thalas."

We started off in Upper Black Rock Spire so that people could get use to their 800 dps and mana pools of less than a Thousand. The other rule of the game was that if something dropped that was an "upgrade" over your white gear you could grab it. Oh the arguments that abounded when Mages rolled on the Devout Shoulders and Boomkins got leather pants with Agility. Laughter filled vent as we bemoaned the loss of each green to another. Success was quickly ours so we headed off to the true task of the night.

Molten Core.

Twelve of us headed in. A couple were not even level 80 yet. Some of us had farmed this instance at level 60, others had never seen it before and hoped to get their achievement. It certainly was a challenge. One hunter had almost the entire Giant Stalker set by the time we finished and picked up the quest for Rhok'delar, Longbow of the Ancient Keep. I managed to pick up the Bloodfang Pants, my only upgrade of the night. Our top dps was a mage at close to 2k by the time he finished. (Luckily for him his spells still worked even if he WAS oom most of the time.) The healers had the hardest time as our tank whom they are all use to sporting close to 60k health was running around between 8 and 12k and three heals would have them oom.  Suddenly it was important to remember how to do pulls, to hug walls to skip mobs, focus firing specific targets rather than just steamrolling through as we usually do, stopping frequently for drinks.

The final verdict? 
Rag downed and they all want to do a Green run of an Outland instance for our next "fun run".

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Know Your Rogue Lore: Captain Rupert

Quite a while ago I used this series to argue that someone many thought of as a Rogue really wasn't. This time I want to do the opposite. There is a hidden rogue in our midst that gets missed because he is so deceptive. His true nature has not been discussed until now.

Captain Rupert is a member of the Argent Crusade, first introduced as part of a series of quests in Zul'Drak. Dressed exactly like his colleagues, his only distinguishing feature is that Rupert is VERY fond of explosives. Players assist Rupert in securing his section of Zul'Drak by taking his bombs and blowing up Nerubian tunnels, burning the corpses of falling comrades or bulling fearful Argent Crusaders back into the fight. As a Forsaken Rupert knows better than anyone what it means to be under the control of the Lich King. His aversion to returning to that state fuels him on.

When we reach Icecrown Citadel and head towards the Frostwing, Captain Rupert, as well has his colleagues appear via the transporter. If you take the time to look you will notice they have all undergone a wardrobe change. These new looks give you a hint as to the classes they represent. Captain Brandon is a paladin, Captain Grondel a warrior, Captain Arnath a priest but what about Rupert? He just his throws bombs around and talks about explosives right? Take a look at his gear.

Rupert is wearing the Terrorblade set, they didn't even take the time to recolor it. Perhaps they thought that since he was a Forsaken we would miss the distinguishing marks. My friends, Rupert is an engineer loving Rogue.

When Rupert first arrives at Icecrown Citadel he remarks that he can feel the Lich King watching, his former service giving him an added awareness. As you make your way down the hallway towards Sister Svalna she will peg each of the Captains off with a lance. When Rupert falls he refers to having a worthy afterlife and asks you to burn his body just as he requested for the fallen soldiers in Zul'Drak there by preventing him from becoming a mindless pawn. When he is raised to serve the Lich King for a second time, Rupert is not pleased. For your failure in fulfilling his last wish Rupert treats you to an added taste of his explosive arsenal, proclaiming we will all burn. In the end however Rupert will fall, sadly this is finally the end for a worthy Rogue. So the next time you are in ICC take the time to get a closer look at Captain Rupert.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Gear vs Skill

For a very long time now people have equated gear with skill in WoW. If you were running around in raid level gear then you must have raid level abilities right? Well, yeah to a point. In Vanilla WoW having high level gear was not so much about SKILL as TIME. If you wanted to sport epic level gear you needed to have hours a day to focus on either PvP, raiding or at the very least earning money. Forty man raids were HUGE investments. To rank up in PvP battle grounds took not only WINNING but countless hours for battle time.

When Burning Crusade was introduced so was a level of play that was more "casual friendly". While you could STILL tell just by looking who participated in end game raiding or intense Pvp, those who may have had the time in College had now moved on to jobs and family.  This change allowed many of them to continue to push the envelope without having to completely sacrifice real life. Raids could now be done with only 10 or 25 people in just a few hours a night. A badge system was introduced in which you could obtain gear from doing Heroic dungeons only. By the end of Burning Crusade you could also obtain raid level gear with out ever setting foot in an actual raid. The concept of "farming Heroics" was born.

Enter Wrath and suddenly EVERYONE is able to sport raid level gear without ever setting foot in an actual raid. For some this was extremely annoying as they could no longer tell just by LOOKING at an individual what they were capable of. Raids suddenly became puggable so you no longer had to dedicate HOURS of  game time to seeing content. But there was a problem here. As gear became more accessible being KNOWLEDGEABLE about what to do with that gear didn't necessarily scale.  Many people today use gear score to determine if someone is capable of a raid but you can still have individuals in GREAT gear who fail to  perform to that level. This is because they never learned how to work as part of a team or the finer points of playing their character. Case in point I was in a VOA the other day with a mage who had a gear score of at least 2300 but was doing UNDER 1000k dps. Quick leveling and lack of knowledge shows.

The good thing about the over abundance of gear is that raiding guilds no longer have to deal with individuals who cause difficulty for their teams. They can EASILY find someone equivalently geared OR gear up someone else who is a better fit without adversely effecting their raid schedule. If the only reason a person has kept a raid spot before this was they provided a specific desirable buff, raid leaders can now look instead at getting someone in there who pays attention and knows what they are doing without causing drama.

While gear has its place it will only get you so far. Blizzard has leveled the playing field in a way. Those who started playing this game 5 years ago no longer have to "retire" from raiding because of time constraints. At the same time your ability to utilize your characters will get you MUCH further. Sure a lot of pug leaders will ask your gear score to see if you are at a specific level Blizzard has stated an instance is designed for. By doing this they can usually ASSUME you SHOULD be capable performing. At the same time individuals like Gevon can push the envelop by attempting those SAME instances with individuals "Undergeared" but TALENTED and COMMITTED enough to get every last bit out of them.

Now not all people enjoy this type of game play. Personally I PREFER to go into an encounter blind, figure it out with my team mates and over come it. However I know that MANY in my guild do not....they don't like "failure" they want "easy wins", to go in knowing that success will come QUICKLY. Delayed gratification is a foreign and uncomfortable concept for them. I remember one former guild member telling me "three wipes is to many". My attitude is "No, look at wipes as learning opportunities." If you want to sing the song of progression, the chorus is full of wipes. There was a time when raid leaders couldn't rely on places like Tankspot and Bosskillers to educate players before they ever see an encounter.

Now when you are PUGGING you can't EXPECT people to have that dedication, there is no "team" there. I HAVE been a part of a few that WERE able to press on and over come but they are rare and most of us were at least FAMILIAR with one another. So pugs will generally take the EASIEST manor in which to judge, which translates into gear score and achievements. Why? Because they want the GUARANTEE of success. Nothing annoys me more than when I see a pug leader who demands a specific achievement and gear score only to discover that they themselves do not meet it. All they are looking for at that point is to have others carry them through and your raid is most likely due to failure.

When it all comes down to it I really do believe that Blizzard is attempting to make SKILL more important than GEAR. As gear becomes more available to the average player, more are capable of enjoying the instances and raids they have designed. On the other hand TALENTED players can go further by pushing the envelope more rapidly than in the past. We have become jaded by forgetting that we have been playing this game for a long time too. WE have developed tools that allow us to learn more rapidly as well in the form of spreadsheets, Addons, and Blogs. I can't quite buy the line that Blizzard is totally making the game easier. While they ARE making it more ACCESSIBLE to the player base that has CHANGED over the years,  many of us have grown beyond the stage where we have endless hours to spend raiding or pvping and all that demands. (Like cash for repairs.) The raids they have introduced are also requiring a GREAT deal more awareness and movement by the player base. How many raid encounters can you think of where all you do is stand there and "pew pew" away?

I know some of the self proclaimed "hard core" gamers will disagree. As far as they are concerned WoW has gotten TO EASY! I can easily live with them disagreeing with me as I will never qualify as an "Elitest Jerk" cracking hard modes shortly after they become available. My style is to get to the end but enjoy the journey there. Consider this though, when Yoggy and the Lich King were first introduced how many of those "Top Players" PRACTICED on PTR every time they could or at the very least were checking out every BIT of information they could find on those encounters before hand? In addition to that how many of them did "alt runs" first so that their timers were not adversely effected while they learned an encounter?  How much is it that the game has gotten easier verses the top players have gotten SMARTER and more able to find ways to get around the limits Blizzard sets?

Recently Blizzard announced that 10 and 25 man raids will now share a lock out. In addition to this both 10 and 25 man raids will share the same loot table. They also stated that we can expect to have several raids available to us when Cataclysm begins, all of relatively limited length, say 5 or 6 bosses total each. If you go with the thesis that it is more about SKILL than GEAR then Raid Leaders stating "we will be looking at taking our BEST players rather than scrounging to fill a raid" further pushes this idea. "Terribad Ninjas" are going to have a MUCH harder time finding raids to scam especially as the number of Pug raids dramatically decreases. Being a member of a guild is DEFINITELY going to be something people will see as a necessity. Hopefully these two changes alone will assist individuals in discovering enjoyable game play as they progress. The idea of being able to have raids filled with people you ENJOY and that know what they are doing certainly has great appeal doesn't it?