Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Servers and Latency

 Do you remember why you chose the server you play on as your home base? In all honesty it has been over six years so the exact reasons for me are pretty fuzzy. I think the platewearer and I chose Eldre'Thalas because of the ones that were available to us at the time it shared our time zone. Or so we thought.  Recently we have been experiencing some crippling latency whenever we attempt to play, especially during peek hours.

Normally when something like this happens you go through the check list.

1. Is there anything running in the background on my PC?
2. Is my hardware having any issues? (Check network card, router, modem, etc.)
3. Is my server having issues?

But these were all coming up fine.

Another common issue people then look at is their service provider. We happen to use AT&T. Since World of Warcraft uses AT&T data centers as their hosts we should have awesome speeds. What could be the issue then?

So we decided to dig a little deeper and discover exactly where our server was located, then trace the connection to see what could possibly be going on between here and there. Low and behold our server was NOT located in the East Coast as we had thought but in Los Angeles, California, WAY across the country. Well THAT might have something to do with it. Sure enough when we log into a server out of New York our connection was SINGING....

So that leaves us with a bit of a delema. If we are on a closer server our latency issues disappear, but HOME is Eldre'Thalas. If it were just the two of us to consider, the faster connection speeds would be the deciding factor, but we have the guild as well. When you have 100+ depending on you, and you have been leading said gang of misfits for almost six years, to just walk away...Add to that the cost of a server transfer, because lets face it, the thought of abandoning Daraia at this point is unthinkable to me. The decision is not so cut and dried.

If you are having latency issues and none of the previously mentioned items seem to fix it check into where your server is located because in 2010 several of them in the US were moved. Then check your connection, places like Speedtest.net can give you a concrete answer as to wither or not your connection is the issue. We were also able to find some help on Wow Interface. (Sorry we only looked at PC stuff not Mac.)

At this point I am just gritting my teeth and bearing with it. Hopefully things will improve in the near future. If not, if Eldre'Thalas is once again offered free server transfers we may be seriously considering a guild relocation.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

United Nations

No I am not referring to the international organization run out of New York but rather the guild achievement which has become a thorn in my side. Why do you ask? Because of a tiny little bug.

Originally the achievement was designed to look at every member in your guild who has earned revered reputation or "Veteran" rank. It would then take all their combined unique exalted reputations and count them towards the achievement. However at the moment it is only counting the the one member with the MOST exalted reputations.

Why is this a problem? Well the reward for this particular achievement is a non combat pet. The Dark Phoneix Hatchling. Personally I am not that much of a pet collector despite that fact that I have well over 100 of the little guys. HOWEVER, there are other members of my guild who are more, shall we say...dedicated? borderline obsessive? down right fanatical? when it comes to non combat pets. One of them just happens to be my fellow officer and mount farming partner.

With 85 different reputations in this game this achievement seems deceptively simple until you break it down into what ones you can actually obtain. First of all you have to subtract the ones that are only available to your faction.

That means if you are Alliance you have Stormwind, Ironforge, Gnomergan, Darnassus, Exodar, and Gilneas as your racial cities. These also affect your battle ground alliances in that with Warsong Gulch you fight for the Silverwing Sentinels of Darnassus, the League of Arathor in Arathi Basin, the Stormpike Guard in Alterac Valley and provide support to  Baradins' Wardens in Tol Barad. The Wintersaber Trainers trust only those special few alliance to aid them in the snows of Winterspring. While in Outland both Honor Hold and the Kurenai receive exclusively Alliance support. Then in Northrend we have the Alliance Vanguard  which is made up for four sub factions, the Explorers' League, the Frostborn, The Silver Covenant, and the Valiance Expedition. Even in Cataclysm our faction divides continue with the Wildhammer Clan fighting for land against a group of  orcs in the Twilight Highlands.

Don't fret Horde. You have an equal number of individuals you are just as dedicated to. Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon City, Thunder Bluff, the Darkspear Trolls and the Bridgewater Cartel are all your founding homes. There is a little village of Fosaken and Blood Elves in the Ghostlands called Tranquilien where you offer your assistance in cleansing those lands of the scourge. In battle the  Warsong Outriders',  The Defilers', the Frostwolf Clan and Hellscreams' Reach all cry "For the Horde!" Thrallmar and the Mag'har bring honor to a lost son and  former Warchief. In Northrend your new war chief got his first taste of battle while leading the combined forces of the Horde Expedition, specifically the Warsong Offensive, while working with the Hand of Vengeance, the Taunka and the Sunreavers.  This experience helped him to forge new alliances with the Dragonmaw Clan.

So that means that each faction has nineteen reputations specific to them. So scratch them out of your 85. From there you can further remove the Bloodsail Buccaneers, the Syndicate, as well as the Magram and Gelkis Centaur clans. Why? Because these four only reach honored or just over in their reputations. Meaning they can never count toward the exalted.

Then you have the factions where you have to chose sides. The Aldor or the Scryers? The Oracles or the Frenzyheart Tribe? Sure you can reach exalted rep with them both at separate times but all that counts is the reputations you happen to have AT THAT TIME. Two more off the list.

Well Dar that still has us at 60. That is STILL plenty of wiggle room. Right? Well not quite, you see some on that list are old. Like Zul' Gurub, which doesn't exist anymore. So you can also subtract the Zandalar Tribe unless you happened to have gotten that reputation before hand. The same goes for the Shen'dralar in Dire Maul. While the quest books still drop, some of the items needed to complete those quests like the Blood of Heroes are no longer in the game, leaving you rather stuck since they were all Bop items you can't buy on the auction house.

From there you have the reputations which can only be gained INSIDE raids. The Hydraxian Waterlords for example is a complete nightmare as once you get past a certain point you only get few hundred points of reputation for each boss kill. This means it will take MONTHS of FULL CLEARS of Molton Core to reach exalted.  Then there is the Brood of Nozdormu out of the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj (AQ 40).  These guys you start out at Hated so it takes quite a while to do a complete reversal, again many full clears as killing trash will only get you to neutral, after that it takes boss kills and quests.

Thankfully by the time we went through the Dark Portal we were able to start earning reputation by killing just about anything in a raid. So the Ashtonque Deathsworn of Black Temple, The Scales of Sands of Mt Hyjal, The Violet Eye of Karazhan and the more recent Ashen Verdict of Ice Crown Citadel just required hours of time spent killing monsters along with bosses. If you aren't a raider however that means you could be missing six reputations, a hefty chunk.

There was a dark cloud to this as well. There are also some factions who you can only get reputations with INSIDE a dungeon. This was an idea that was played around with by the now basically defunct Argent Dawn. Lower City, the Keepers of Time, Cenarion Expedition and the Sha'tar in Outland all require you to crawl around in SPECIFIC dungeons if you wanted to build reputation with them.  In Northrend and now back in the old world they have loosed things so that if you just wear a tabard showing who you support while in dungeons of specific levels you can gain reputations with the faction of your choice. At this point both Ramkahem and the Guardians of Hyjal force you to do this to get to exalted with them.

Other factions believe in giving you a little more variety. For them you can choose to either do repetitive daily quests OR run around wearing their tabard while you dungeon crawl.  The Wrymrest Accord, Argent Crusade, Kirin Tor, Knights of the Ebon Blade, and Therazane all fall into this category.

This leaves us with the neutral factions who think we have nothing better to do than either grind for repeatable turn in quests or keep coming back day after day for tortuous daily quests.  Of the turn in variety we have the Cenarion Circle in Silithus,  the Timbermaw in Winterspring, and the Consortium in Outland.  Then you have the Sporeggar of Zangarmarsh who either have you kill the same mobs over and over again or do endless turn ins. Take your pick. The torturous daily quests were first introduced by the Sha'tari Skyguard and Ogri'la. It was perfected by the Shattered Sun Offensive, who then passed all their knowledge on to the Kalu'ak and the Sons of Hodir. That knowledge seems to only grow as the years go on.

This leaves us with just a few stragglers. The Thorium Brotherhood, who now have a slightly more pronounced presence this expansion but you can still only find the higher reputation items inside Molton Core or via mining the few Dark Iron nodes found outside.  Unless your a Rogue or manage to sweet talk one, your going to have a hard time getting past honored with Ravenholdt as it requires pick pocketed Locked Boxes.  Darkmoon Faire is only in select locations once a month and unless you are a Scribe getting the Darkmoon Faire Decks you need to gain favor with them will cost you a pretty penny.

Finally we have the Steamwheedle Cartle.  Now before Cataclysm there was a fairly easy way to gain reputation with these guys inside Dire Maul, as part of the tribute run. As they are still part of the Insane in the Membrane achievement I will assume you can still do it but I haven't been able to verify that yet. Booty Bay, Everlook, Gadgetzan, and Ratchet are all part of this goblin cartel (not to be confused with the group that joined with the Horde). Their reputations are unique even though they all work for the same trade prince. Think of it as getting in good with each separate store manager for the chain. The others might put in a good word for you but each of them would like to see for themselves what you have to offer. (Typical goblins.)

So where does that leave us? If you happen to have some of the old reputations like Argent Dawn, Zandalar Tribe and Shen'dralar as well as having the benefit of being a Rogue so you have Ravenholdt, you would have the nice amount of Fifty eight reputations available to you to do this achievement. That is right, fifty eight out of fifty five.  In other words if you DO NOT happen to have ANY of the old reputations, you will not be able to get this achievement until one of two things happens. Either Blizzard fixes the bug or they add additional factions. Either way, all you non combat fanatics are going to have to do the one thing you hate, which is wait.

Thankfully for my peace of mined I have all of them, I am actually sitting at fifty three exalted reputations at the moment with my guild anxiously awaiting me to get my last two.  The question is just what I will hit exalted with first.  I just pray I can get it done within the next day or two so I can have some peace. I have been slacking on my dungeon crawls to focus on some other things much to their great frustration.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Fishing for Rogues

I do A LOT of fishing. Not because I find it relaxing or am an avid angler. Rather it is because, as I have stated over and over again, I am cheap and fishing generally provides me with buff food for little more than time. (Beyond that I hear the Omega 3's are great for you.) When I was a skinner, my diet tended more towards the red meats (Ravager Dog or Warp Burger anyone?)  Even after that I wouldn't turn my nose up at a good Mega Mammoth Meal, but I hated leaving behind the evidence of my presence. Fishing doesn't do that.

The irony of this expansion is that very few of our best foods do not come from water sources. Even those you have to hunt down (Baked Turtle, Seasoned Crab, Salted Eye from sea eels and Crocolisk Au Gratin) live in or near the water. Yeah, you could have a Basilisk Liverdog or the Grilled Dragon, but sadly the Dragons mostly give you scales when you skin them and really who wants to eat LIVER? You can make it look like a hot dog all you want but it is STILL liver.

Now beyond all the foods already named there are others we can specifically fish up. The fresh water Boiled Mountain Trout from Mt Hyjal's streams and lakes. Lavascale Fillet and Lavascale Minestrone both come from fishing the lava pools in Deepholm. Skewered Eel is made using Fathom Eels which can be found along the coast of Uldum or Tol Barad making it one of the more plentiful sources out there for us.

There is one difficulty with all these, they do require you to also know how to COOK. However if you have never managed to learn this basic skill you may still be in luck. Many guilds are pursuing their guild achievements Set the Oven to "Cataclysmic" and Time to Open a Restaurant. So you might be able to persuade another guild member to cook them all up for you, since unlike the Wrath recipes they don't require any special spices.  Even better if you state you are working on the That's A Lot of Bait achievement. (Of course this only works if your guild actually CARES about the achievements and the feasts they unlock.) Unlike the Fish Feasts of Wrath these new feasts cater to our most desired stat, like the Fortune Cookies.

For some of you even all of this is not enough persuasion to consider taking up fishing. There have to be additional perks like Non Combat pets or mounts. Well, if you haven't learned by now they already have those in game and have had them for years. There is one overwhelming problem however. The fish all seem to know that when I catch them I plan on eating them. So when it comes to the more "vanity" items you get from fishing, I can't seem to catch any of them to save my life. Now this is only true for Daraia, none of my alts seem to have this curse, but Giant Sewer Rat?, Mr Pinchy? and the very bane of my mount collection the Sea Turtle? They all have played least in site for YEARS while my alts somehow manged to pick them up not even trying. I have some information for you all though, I do know for a fact that you can at least get the Sea Turtle from fishing the high end fishing pools. Tol Barad Eel pools. I love you.