Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I don't know how many of you have taken the little Darkmoon Faire "Discover your Destiny" class test but if you haven't take the time to, do so. One of the interesting things that I have noticed from others who have taken it and gotten unanticipated responses is that they often claim that there is "no way" they could POSSIBLY play that class and enjoy it. Often they will state that they have "tried in the past" and it was "awful" or that they have no interest to begin with. What many fail to realize is that many of the classes have undergone significant changes over the years and that class you once despised might actually be pretty fun now.

My mount farming partner for example took the test 9 times and kept getting "priest".  Now he plays a Resto Druid as his main and played a Hunter before that, with a Mage, a Paladin Tank and a Rogue hanging around as alts. Priest was CERTAINLY not what he was expecting to find, however after getting the same result so many times he figured he should just give into the inevitable and try it. So far he is loving it, and at the rate he is going will have her to level 80 by the time Cata hits.

Others of us just got confirmation that yes indeed we are playing the proper class. For both the plate wearer and I it went even a step further in that the pictures that accompanied them were frightening close to our Avatars. I will admit to being shocked to seeing a female human, usually it is a male or a night elf. The description was certainly apt in how Daraia would react as well.

So how about the rest of you? Any of you take the quiz? Any surprising answers? Confirmations? Going to give any of those suggestions a try?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Expansion Events in Review

This past couple of weeks have been rather eventful. First we were invaded in Real Life by out of state relations fleeing from the Palins. Then my computer decided to have software issues so I couldn't get to the blog. All this meant that my original intentions for dealing with the Elemental invasion got thrown out the window. Today the Shattering will take place and a new world order introduced, so lets look at each of the previous expansions and how Blizzard handled those events. What makes an event successful? What did they do right and what things need to be reconsidered?

Burning Crusade

The Dark Portal Opens was the very first expansion event we ever had and we were all so excited that we really didn't care that there wasn't much to it. One world boss in the form of Highlord Kruul who was a 40 man raid so unless you were a hunter and kited him back to one of the major cities or part of a major raid guild you didn't really get the chance to do much with him. The other part consisted of standing in the Dark Portal killing emerging demons the day before launch so you could get your complementary tabard. (Or breaking out into all out war with the opposing faction which was a whole lot more fun.)

Those of use who were around for the BC event all remember Kruul's rampages through Orgimmar and Stormwind, but I only vaguely recall the party at the Dark Portal. Even though I had an event commemorating Tabard every time I stumbled across it in my bank it didn't evoke any lasting memory. While the IDEA was good, the execution still needed some refinement. More people needed to feel a part of what was taking place. BC was definitely a "High Level Only" thing.

Wrath of the Lich King

The Zombie Invasion was an event where people really began to express their opinions about these "expansion events" this was now our second and it really changed the whole facet of the game. With the BC event, if you were not a High level character, unless someone kited Kruul to you, it didn't really have an impact. With the Zombie Invasion there was NO place you could hide. BG's, Cities, the country, Outland, starting areas...EVERYWHERE was effected. If it wasn't being over run by high level mobs from the Lich King's Ziggurats, fellow players were infecting others and turning people into ghouls. People generally either loved it or hated it.

However if you were high enough level to really participate you could walk away with some interesting little souvenirs. I know the Haunted Memento is still very popular on my server. There were also the recolored Paladin tier 2 sets, just enough to get the look, not the greatest stats on them but that was ok, I still have all of mine kicking around in the bank. Then all of the little "vanity" type trinkets you could get from killing the various mobs and turning in the Necrotic Runes. (Come on having that Pally from the Argent War Horn bubble hearth was always a riot!) Not only that but killing those mobs gained you reputation with the Argent Dawn, which for some who hadn't bothered was a nice bonus eventually leading to a title and achievement if you managed to reach exalted with both them AND the Argent Crusade.

One of the major problems with the Wrath Event in my opinion (and it was VERY minor) was the introduction of major lore figures with no in game explanation. Suddenly the humans had a king with bad hair and an even worse attitude, dragging a blood elf rogue who was FRIENDLY through Stormwind. Thrall had Garosh, the whiner, now turned hot head challenging him for leadership of the Horde and no one knew why he was even out of Outland. Confusion was really the name of the game with the Wrath event if you didn't happen to have access to the out of game information.


Now we have just completed the Elemental Invasion. The perscription with this event seemed to be "options" as in, if you want to participate you could, but if you don't you could really pass the whole thing right by. Even right up until yesterday there were individuals logging in who had absolutely no idea what was going on. Now a fellow blogger was protesting how simple the invasion was, he wasn't alone. The problem I found with this "invasion" was that especially in the case of sprawling Stormwind, you needed a good size raid in order to successfully "defend" it. The first day of course this was not a problem, after that is was like herding cats. There was also the issue of the bugged rifts in which no elementals would spawn at all so you just had to wait around an hour for the defense to "fail", the same with trapped citizens.

I did enjoy the bosses that a successful defense opened up for several reasons. One, many of those bosses were ones I had not seen in years, and others had never seen as they leveled up, because they were located deep within longer dungeons or were once a part of tedious quest chains to be summoned only. Second, the gear they dropped was generally useful to newer level 80's or alts (that was mostly what I saw running those dungeons) as it was all 251 level. Third, it was a GREAT way to rack up huge amounts of Justice Points as you could chain run them and each kill was worth 16 Points. The very last day they kept the bosses available the entire time so that is all we did, chain run those 4 bosses.

As for the elementals themselves....enough with the elementals ok? You can only kill so many of them before it gets WAY to tedious. At least during the Wrath event you were getting rep, or stones to turn in for stuff. With this batch you got a feat of strength if you killed one of each type, a daily quest you had to make sure to pick up because it never showed up on the screen and a buff (different ones for each type of elemental). Yippee. No pets, no titles, no tabards, no nothing to clutter our bags with or at least make it KINDA worth while to go after the stupid things. So generally we all avoided them because unlike the Zombies, the NPC's could kill the elementals if they were out in the wild and they would eventually disappear on their own if they stayed to long. Are we REALLY suppose to take this threat seriously?

Now I didn't mind the quests so much. Some have complained they were to simple. The thing is they were for ALL level groups, so really, were you doing major trek all over the kingdom quests at level 5? No, that comes later, after you have established yourself as a "Kingslayer Hero" in full Epic gear with flying mount, THEN you traverse the universe slaying dragons. These quests did their simple job of introducing us to all the major players in Cataclysm. We now know who the first major "Bad Guy" is going to be, (because you know we aren't ready to take on Deathwing yet) and some Ogre by the name of Cho'gall who is hooked up with some Old God. We know that Thrall has gotten himself a female friend by the name of Aggra, another Shaman, his teacher, who eventually he plans to make his lover, and bride. (Something Thrall has desperately needed in his life.) We know a new cult has sprung up and that King Varian is handling things with as much tact as the TSA, this is going to result in the Defias showing back up, madder than ever.

The Elemental event did what it was suppose to do. There were parts of it I liked better than the Wrath event (the bosses) and parts that needed work (the elementals). I mean if we could have gotten a PET off of them or calmed them down or used totems on them or SOMETHING other than just mindlessly killing them all the time THAT would have been nice. I actually liked that the quests gave us a basic idea of what was going on and what was coming so players are not so dependent on out of game sources. There are still some things that will be a surprise or are just contained in the out of game books to make them worth reading.

Over all this is our third expansion and this game has undergone A LOT of changes as have we as players. When Burning Crusade was introduced about 8 Million people were playing World of Warcraft. The vast majority were still considered "Gamers" at heart with back grounds in table top and computer RP gaming or family members where that was true. Fast forward to today where we have 12 Million people. Console gamers have a much greater portion of the demographic, as well as what many term the "casual gamer". These are not individuals who pour over spread sheets or research everything that is coming out before it is released. Lets be honest if it isn't happening right under their nose, they have no clue what is going on. They either don't have the time or the inclination. Expectations of these types of gamers are very different and lets be honest OUR expectations have changed as well.

Do I have a favorite of the three? No. They have all done their jobs. The one nice thing about Blizzard is that they always learn from each thing they do. What works, what doesn't, how can they improve. As much as we may gripe and complain they DO take the feedback they get from their customers into consideration as well as what they have in their over all game design. As I read in the recent Magazine sometimes that feedback will lead them into a completely different direction than where they were originally planning to go.  At this point I am ready to go into Cataclysm.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Elemental Invasion Phase 2

The next portion of the elemental invasion has taken place, but it is VERY minor and easy to miss if you don't happen to know to go looking. If you haven't been able to participate yet, don't worry the previous quests are still in effect and can be done they have only added a few more. Again this guide will be done from the Alliance perspective (Sorry Horde). 

If you head over to the Stormwind Bank you will see that the Earthen Ring contingent has two new quests this week. One is offered by the leader of the group Erunak Stonespeaker who sends you to Stormwind's harbor to find Courier Tormun. Tormun is suppose to be delivering some tablets discovered in Ulduar to King Magni Bronzebeard from his Brother Brann, but they haven't heard anything from him, Erunak wants you to go check and see if he has shown up yet.

Now something interesting about this quest is that Tormun is not where he should be. You will find him near the dock leading to Darnassus NOT the Northrend Dock. Talk to him and you will discover that his companions have all been killed and he is under attack by a Twilight Cultist astride a Black Drake (hmm, where have we seen one of THOSE before?) Near Tormun is a crystal which he instructs you to use, it will grant you the ability to combat the elementals that are attacking at the Cultist's behest. You want to use the opposite ability to the element you are fighting, so fire to water, water to fire and air to earth. Once the elementals are defeated the portals will disappear and the tablet will appear. You pick that up and head to Advisor Belgrum at the Hall of the Explorers in Ironforge.

If you haven't had the opportunity to read "The Shattering" this is your chance to be introduced to a little bit of the lore that is discussed in that book. Those tablets you deliver are going to have a profound effect on the Dwarven people and you are now directly responsible for bringing them to them, congratulations!

The other quest you can pick up outside of the Stormwind bank is a "bread crumb" quest from one of the Earth Ring Emissaries. He sends you off to Ironforge to consult with their representative stationed there, a Wildhammer Shaman by the name of Stormcaller Mylra. Mylra needs you to help get rid of all the little earth elementals that are causing the earthquakes in Ironforge. She gives you a bag which contains a potion and a totem. Once you drink the potion you are able to see the little elementals for 10 minutes. All you have to do is drop the totem near the elementals. I personally found that doing this in the trenches was a little less of a hassle than trying to run around competing with everyone else.

Of all the phases of the Pre Cata event this is the "quietest" one in my opinion. Really little happens to progress the story, but that is ok. It gives those who have missed things a chance to catch up, those who are scrambling to complete those last few things at much more time to do it before the true craziness really descends. From this point on the pace will begin to increase, so hold on, it is going to be a bumpy ride.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ding Dong the King is Dead

While many guilds are taking a break from raiding all together, EM has SLOWLY been plucking away at the Lich King. I say SLOWLY because we seem to have this curse. (Not that I really believe in those but it is the best way to describe it.) It befalls us every time we reach the final boss in a raid. Suddenly our healers begin to lose their internet connections, our dps to have hardware issues and our tank's work schedules become such that they have NO idea if they will be able to log on or not. To say that it severely hampers our progression would be an understatement. Many guilds our size have chosen to send members to other guilds to get themselves a "King Slayer" and start doing the lower spire heroic fights for loot. That just isn't our style.

Over the years we have had many (those who value the kill more than the fellowship) who reach that point in the progression, leave us for other guilds so they can get that final boss DEAD sooner. I don't hold that against them. As I tell my children, "patience is a virtue which must be LEARNED." Yet a core of us persevere. To us, it is WHO we defeat the final baddy with that matters, more than WHEN he goes down.

Many of us started out gaming with more "Hard Core" time abilities, but as age and responsibilities have caught up to us, we have had to adopt a more "casual" approach. That doesn't mean that our persistent dedication has died. It just means that having a consistent raiding group is often little more than a dream. We have many individuals in our guild whose abilities FAR outweigh their gear scores.  Yeah, loot is great, but if you haven't figured out by now that those pixels have a VERY short shelf life, there is little anyone can do to help you.

Last night when we finally downed Arthas it was despite one of our healers AGAIN losing her internet connection (What is UP with Comcast in Florida?) and us having to bring in someone who had NEVER seen the fight before, talking him through as we did it. We also did it while consuming WAY to much caffeine to counteract Daylight Savings. Two of the members were unable to cheer for fear of waking the newborn sleeping in his bassinet between them. Many of us had to keep our own celebrations muted to not disturb our own sleeping children. I was so proud of them I thought my chest would explode.

To be honest, I have been feeling somewhat ambivalent about killing Arthas. I can't really express WHY I have felt that way, but I really had no motivation to kill him personally. However to take him down with that group of people was fulfilling. Next week we will be back at it. Now the focus will be working on heroics and to get those who have yet to get him down a chance at him. We still have two healers who desperately wish to see him DEAD. (The one who lost her connection last night and another who has been with out HIS internet for over a MONTH as a result of the summers hurricanes). There are of course others. 

Many seem to feel that when you take all the buffs now available the final fights in ICC only require you to walk in and breath for the bosses to go down.  Sadly, while they are MUCH easier than they were originally, they are by no means EASY. You can not do ANY of the upper spire fights by standing in one place and Pew Pewing at the boss.  We had one of our EXTREMELY casual members with us the other day while we were working on LK. Part of me could only laugh and the other part wanted to bang my head against my desk as she went on about how she wanted to get the Lich King down for her achievement and she couldn't understand "Why we hadn't done it yet." She then proceeded to die within the first 30 seconds of every attempt and kept asking "What killed me?" The concept of Infest was to much for her, let alone the Necrotic plague.

I LIKE final boss fights where the mechanics are part of what make a fight difficult.  Even now if you are level 80 and go back to Serpentshrine Cavern and try to go after Lady Vashj you still have to deal with the Tainted Core mechanic which means you can't just run in there and zerg her.  Cata is rapidly approaching and with the new guild achievements many will be revisiting those old raids including good ole Arthas at level 85. It will be interesting to see how well people handle those mechanics because while it WILL be easier to burn through the various phases, will people be able to zerg him or will they all get blown off the frozen throne? It will be interesting to find out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Of Cultists and Elementals

The next phase of the Pre-Cata event has occurred now in Wow and for those of you who have been hiding under a rock time line wise this is Post Stormrage Novel and Pre Shattering. (You would be surprised how many individuals I ran into yesterday that were COMPLETELY lost as to what was going on.) In their defense since the vast majority of us have been hanging out in Northrend on our level capped characters. It is fairly easy to remain obliviously isolated unless you happened to return to the Old World for trick or treating at Hallows End and there by encountered the fact that Azeroth is heaving about like a woman about to give birth. For those who only queued up for the Headless Horseman, the vast majority never noticed when an earthquake was taking place right around them, they just attributed it to the quick fight in which they were a part, and popped right back out after receiving their pumpkin.

Now however things have gotten a little more obvious and there are actually QUESTS you can do even at LOW levels so individuals attention are starting to return to the Old World. One of the things I LIKE about these events is that really all they are doing is introducing you to the major players of Cata. Unlike in Wrath in which you arrived and BOOM here is King Varian back on his throne and BAM here is Garrosh being hot headed at every turn. So even if you are one of those individuals like I have been running into on line who have NEVER heard of places like Wowhead or MMOChampion you will enter THIS expansion have SOME clue what is going on and WHO these individuals are that you are interacting with. Even better WHY you should care.

This review and Guide will all be done from the Alliance perspective. (Sorry Horde.)

If you return to Ironforge, Darnassus or Exodar from Northrend first you will find a small contingent of Earthen Ring members near the banks (Remember those guys from the Summer Fire Festival?) They will send you straight over to Stormwind because THIS is where all the action really takes place at this phase. The Earthen Ring Representative located near the Stormwind bank is a Broken by the name of  Erunak Stonespeaker.  Erunak sends you off to Stormwind Keep to check in with a Wildhammer Shaman there by the name of Gavan Grayfeather. Now this introduction is really nothing more than a "get you into the right place so you can observe some things" as well as "meet someone who is important" type of quest.

On the way to Gavan you will cross paths with Captain Anton, the individual in charge of investigating all the cultists who seem to have sprung up around Stormwind. Captain Anton you may notice is surrounded by a rather large group of women. These aren't his adoring fans, but rather a group of concerned relatives with missing family members. Your going to want to make sure to come back to him later. Continue on to Gavan and you will find something that is every Hordies dream, though conducting such a raid with every single Alliance player hanging out in Stormwind at this time WOULD be the stuff of legends...

There in the throne room of Stormwind is EVERY CURRENT ALLIANCE LEADER under one roof. King Varian, King Magni Bronzebeard, Lady Jania Proudmoore, Tyrande Whisperwind, High Tinker Mekkatorque, and Prophet Velen. What is interesting if you stop to listen to the discussion is that King Varian is NOT the one who called the meeting, he is simply HOSTING it as the most central location. Magni is the one who called them all together. Gavan is observing the conversation with great interest ALSO at the invitation of Magni, though he is NOT a part of the major circle. Even if you never read Christie Golden's Best selling book the Shattering Blizzard has made certain that you won't be completely lost this time around as to what is going on IN GAME.  After you speak with Gavan, and if you take the time to listen to the conversation between the leaders, it shows a great deal about each individual's mind set. Velen (who has gone through something like this before) wants to run away, Varian wants to exhaust whatever options are available before fleeing is even considered, Mekkatorque is trying to find a mechanical solution, Jania is questioning living arrangements (ok, this remark by Jania just made me laugh because it is just such a MOM type of concern...), etc.

The majority of the quests for this portion of the Pre-Cata event stem from Captain Anton and his dealings with the Twilight's Hammer Cultists. When you first speak to him Anton will request that you go to Old Town and listen to the Cultist's Doomsayer speeches then report back. This quest is deceptively simple but some people have a problem with it because they just rush around picking UP the speeches and never stay in place long enough to actually HEAR one of the Doomsayers TALK. You have to do BOTH. After you report back Anton will send you back out to post warning signs around town about the cultists. Next comes two other quests which can be done at the same time. The first is to pick up a set of Twilight Cultist robes and infiltrate the cult (they will take just anyone) all you have to do is say "yep I want to join" or just grab a set from the box next to a Doomspeaker if you don't like lying to the nut jobs.

Head off to the Twilight Cult's "oh so secret camp" next to Mirror Lake. Make sure to put on your robes before hand, they won't attack you, but they won't talk to you either otherwise. Overseer Sylandra will send you off to do your duty as a "Recruit" to the cult. You may wish to wander around the camp first to find the four "Missing persons" Anton sent you to locate before starting off on her quests. The first is located in a pup tend right across from the Overseer. Cultist Wyman is quite happy where he is and has no desire to leave. Cultist Kaima is located at the back of the wagon on the edge of the orchard. She is also feeling enlightened and has no desire to return. Cultist Orlunn is at the table behind the house feeling quite justified in his choice of joining the cult, so has no plans to leave either. Finally you have Cultist Lethelyn, who apparently left after a huge fight with her family and feels that returning is just not an option, she can be found INSIDE the house at the camp.

The quests you are asked to do for the cult are simple. First you just need to run around wearing their "Doomsday Message" placard. Run up to the gates of the Westbrook Garrison, through Goldshire and by General Marcus Jonathan in the Valley of Heroes and you've done your "duty". Then head back to Overseer Sylandra. She will send you to the far side of the camp where you will find a rather creepy looking alter. There you will witness another "lore moment" and the reintroduction of  Cho'Gall. Many Lore junkies are going to know who this is but for everyone else, this is going to be a "AH HA" moment of "so the leader of the Twilight Hammer is a Ogre", it is also the introduction of one of our future raid bosses. Race back to Sylandra and she stupidly hands you a stack of devices and sends you into the city to plant them. Now you can go turn them over to Captain Anton.  (These Cultists are not the sharpest tools in the shed that is for sure.)

Once you get back to Anton he of course sends you out to find more of those devices and neutralize them. What is rather nice about this is the air Elementals that emerge are level appropriate to what ever character happens to be doing the quest. Once you have managed to destroy a few of the devices and report back to Anton he sends you back up the corridor to King Varian to report your findings. This results in the typical screamed out speech praising your work. (I personally HATE those but I know some people love them.) At this point the quests end but don't worry, things will pick up again soon.

One other thing that has happened is that Elementals are starting to show up in scattered places across the country side. The quest associated with THESE at this point you have to go looking for. Once you have defeated a rift a "Mysterious Device" will drop that you need to take back to your local Earthen Ring Representative (anyone of them will do, they can be found at any of the faction capitals) this counts as a daily quest.  You can also get an achievement (as well as a nice little buff) for defeating the Elementals.  There are four different types of Elementals out there Wind, Fire, Earth and Water. One thing that I did find interesting is that the spawn points are NOT limited to just the Old World, you can find the Elementals in both Outland and Northrend as well. This means you can continue about your normal routine near those zones if they are level appropriate for you. The Elementals appear about every hour.

Wind Elementals:
Arathi Highlands
Eastern Plaguelands
Terokkar Forrest
Boren Tundra
Sholazar Basin

Earth Elementals:
Loch Moden
Redridge Mountains
Western Plaguelands
Burning Steppes
Blade's Edge Mountains
Howling Fjord
Grizzly Hills
The Storm Peaks

Fire Elementals:
The Barrens
The Hinterlands
Searing Gorge
Blasted Lands
Hellfire Peninsula

Water Elementals:
Silverpine Forest
Thousand Needles
Stranglethorn Vale
Swamp of Sorrows
Un'Goro Crater
Shadowmoon Valley

So enjoy the event, I know I am going to. While some have already started complaining that this one doesn't have the "epic feel" that the Lich King's Scourge invasion did, I think people are forgetting that we still have a month to go...remember, that started out slow too, I think this is going to turn out to be just as epic and enjoyable as the Lich King's Zombie invasion.