25 September 2011

Stick a fork in me...

I'm done.... with the blog at least.

For any of you that still have this showing up in an RSS reader, it's time to clean up on the dusty feeds. This one, while it was really fun, has simply proven to be out of my reach to consistently contribute towards.  The WoW blogging community adds an entire dimension to the game -- without bloggers I doubt my WoW experience would have been any where as fulfilling or enjoyable as it has been.

I'm not necessarily done with the game - I still pop in now and again, but I would say that I'm no longer a progression raider and I am firmly entrenched into the casual camp.

My thanks to the readers that supported me with feedback, especially the community at Blog Azeroth.

It's been real, and it's been fun. It's been real fun.

26 July 2011

Hitting a plateau

The last time I posted, it was patch 4.1 still and I was completing the revamped reputation quests for my Winterspring Frostsaber ride and grinding my way through the heroic Z's. That was literally months ago; what now?

I feel like Dawg has peaked.  Not in terms of gear, mind you. When I run an analysis on AskMrRobot.com (awesome site by the way!) there are still plenty of upgrades and best in slot pieces that I do have access to (pre-Firelands). So I'm not all pimped out in terms of gear.

However, I have reached a plateau of desire; I'll log Dawg to run daily Firelands quests. When I'm free, I'll join my raid team (we've dabbled in Firelands but are concentrating on clearing up BoT, BWD and ToFW). I have yet to down the new boss in Baradin Hold. But, I'm barely running heroics despite the fact that I know I earn Valor Points from them to get new shinies.  I just don't have the desire for all the grinding.

From a progression standpoint, I am comfortable being behind the vanguard. I play WoW to experience the content. Hell, I still want to go back and clear out Wrath raid content like the achievements in Naxx, Ulduar, ToGC and ICC! My raid team handles Tier 11 content, but we need to coordinate and increase DPS a bit to be competitive in the Firelands, but I'm not in any rush to do so.

So how am I spending time in WoW?  Alt nation! I'm rediscovering the zones and instances using different classes and roles.

My stable of alts includes:
85 Priest (Holy / Shadow)
85 Shaman (Enhance / Resto)
85 Warlock (Destro / Affliction)
83 Death Knight (Blood / Unholy)
59 Druid (Feral [Bear] / Resto)
44 Paladin (Prot / Holy)
44 Rogue (undeclared)
06 Mage (undeclared)
13 Warrior (banker)

In the last two months, I leveled the Priest from 81 to 85, the Warlock from 59 to 85, the Shaman from 56 to 85.  Next will be the DK, followed by the Druid, the Pally and the Rogue.

I'm really enjoying taking a break from the hunter and learning more about the other classes. As I spend more time on these toons and actually get them to max level and even geared for heroics and the alt raids, I will likely include some posts to share my thoughts on the other classes.

My hunter is my first love. We had a guild chat discussion the other night -- on my hunter I've played 128 days (26 days at level 85). He's my primary guy.  But, a bit scarier, is that across my alts I've played WoW for 261 days.  Yeesh!

But, like anything else, a break can strengthen the enjoyment... so Dawg will cool his heels a bit while the Alts get leveled up.

The side benefit of this?  Auction House speculation with all the main tradeskills!  I look forward to seeing how that goes!

18 June 2011

Best Laid Plans...

The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!-Robert Burns

Well... I had every intention of banging away on the daily Winterspring quests for the mount and continuing to grind out heroics to actually reach the cap of 7 randoms in a week.  It wasn't to be.

I just completed my Winterspring mount the other day -- a full month after I hoped to.
I've had to miss a few raid nights: hotel WiFi latency kills you, as does unexpected visits to the ER for a child.
What was a frightfully empty business schedule has all of a sudden overflown, and I'm working first-year associate attorney hours again.

Where's WoW in all of this?  Backburner, sadly.

I keep hearing rumbles of a new patch -- and I've not had any time to read up on it to see what's coming.  Illidian has me pegged -- I am NOT prepared.

I'm hoping to get things straightened out. I'm hoping to get time online - in blogs and in the client.  I'm hoping against logical thought to queue for a random heroic as DPS and not wait 50 minutes for a fail group that disbands on the first trash mobs.

Hoping your game is treating you better than mine is me!

11 May 2011


Patch 4.1 seems to have some goodies that continue to give long after the frenzy to explore the 5m heroic Zuls.  I totally missed (looks like it was added on May 2nd notes) where the quest line to get exalted with Winterspring (as Alliance, obviously) was changed. Gone are the days when you roam around the zone slaughtering bears, chimeras and owls for hours on end...

For me, this is a good thing.

While it wasn't difficult to get exalted before, it was pretty mind-numbingly boring to do so. Now, it's a daily quest that you do with your future mount that will get you the reputation and the ability to actually ride a purple tiger. For pure bonus points, grab the Winterspring Cub companion pet from Michelle De Rum in Everlook. Hunters? Even more bonus: tame a Frostsaber Pride Watcher.

It simply makes me giggle to run around as a wolf-man with a stable of cats.

How do you accomplish this?
1) Get yourself to Winterspring (take the portal to Mount Hyjal and fly North!)
2) Locate Rivern Frostwind at the far north end on top of Frostsaber Rock
3) Grab Get Them While They're Young.
4) Run around and collect critter-like cubs (think cooking crabs from Stormwind daily)
5) Turn in and get They Grow Up So Fast
6) Settle in for 20 days.

When you're on They Grow Up So Fast, you'll receive a Winterspring Cub. Once you summon it (in Winterspring!), that cub (the quest one, not the one you bought from Michelle) gives you a daily quest with rewards you with both reputation and a whisker (part of the requirement for They Grow Up So Fast).

Why is this cool?  Well, so far, it's not boring. The old way -- I'd rather watch paint dry.  This way, I just need to pop in for a nice easy daily.  For fun, your cub grows with you as you quest.

16 more days to go until I can sport my very own Reins of the Winterspring Frostsaber!

09 May 2011

I've been Bitten!

Last week (before Frostheim posted his review of racials on WoW Insider), Peashooter was transformed from a Dwarf to a Worgen.

I could get all creative and sappy and paraphrase An American Werewolf in London, but I'll just stay out of character for a second and admit to forking over the $25 to Blizzard for the race change.


First, weapon choices. Don't get me wrong, I love guns. However, I get the sense in Wrath as well as in Cata, Blizz rolls more with Bows and Crossbows (the only i359 is Crossfire Carbine optimized for tanks!). As a Dwarf, I got a boost with Gun Specialization -- but only for guns.  As a Worgen, I get that same boost regardless of the ranged weapon via Viciousness, which opens up a wider range of possibilities on my weapon choices (especially when Valiona drops the Dragonheart Piercer!)

Second, Darkflight is addicting! I knew I'd love it, but little did I realize how often I would use it. It's simply amazing for getting out of deadzones or flames.

Finally, Flayer reduces my skinning time. Yay! Now I can still farm up leathers without slowing down my groups!

The last thing to address, however, was my name.  "Peashooter" was great for a Dwarf, but didn't seem to fit on a Worgen. I liked the pun of little shooter for a little hunter... and it wasn't right on a big wolfish human. With my new form, I'm rolling with a new name...  Say hello to Dawgdaze.

26 April 2011

That's Alot of Eggs

I was offline for the weekend. For an amazing change of pace, no office or work duties required my time yesterday and I spent a very wonderful day getting reaquainted with my children.

Monday, I found myself running around Kharanos hopped up on leftover  Peeps and Jelly Beans collecting hundreds of virtual eggs. That's right, Noblegarden is here!

Though the holiday has been around for several years, this is the first year I've really given an egg about it. Sure, I tried a few years back. But the competition for egg spawns was (and remains) hellacious. That kinda killed the holiday for me.  However, aside from Noblegarden, my single remaining obstacle to the Violet Proto-Drake is now Children's Week (more specifically the PVP element of Children's Week), so I figured I could spend a day gathering eggs and still complete What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been.

Anyway, Monday was mission Noblegarden.  The result?  Success!

Now that I did it (and made some mistakes), please consider some advice...

First, accept the A Tisket, A Tasket, a Noblegarden Basket quest for your Egg Basket.  Save yourself 10 chocolates by not turning in the quest unless you'd like the extra gold.  Next, settle into collecting a few hundred Brightly Colored Egg. I did the majority of my egg collecting in Kharanos -- mainly because it's not Goldshire and I didn't want to travel too far from Stormwind. Goldshire made my skin crawl; it's so camped that you have to camp a camp (or ninja-loot the eggs being camped, but that's a 50 DKP minus in my book).

So, I settled in for Kharanos. As I progressed, I got into a rhythm. I basically made circles around the village (in front of the Inn, weaving back behind the warlock trainer, past the flight master, crossing the road to the hunter trainer,  looping back in front of the trade building towards the mountaineer on the hill by the crossroads, and then back across the road to complete the loop. Once you make a few loops, you get to know where the eggs spawn and then it's simply a race to clickie.

Oh, yeah... make sure you've equipped your Egg Basket.  I used this macro (bound to F1) to assist my collection and inventory management:
/use [mod:alt] Brightly Decorated Egg; Egg Basket
When I wanted to open my eggs, ALT-F1 did the trick.  When I wanted egg-powered rocket boots, F1 did the trick.  I felt pretty fancy, and I didn't even need to ask a gnome to help me with the macro!

Word to the wise: do the Chocoholic achievement first, not last. I saved that one to the end, and in the process of farming up the remaining chocolates, I received two duplicates of my Spring Rabbit's Foot that I had already spent 100 chocolates purchasing.  Items needed for other achievements also drop randomly out of the eggs, so if you get really lucky you may only need to collect 105 chocoloates (100 for Chocoholic and 5 for Noble Garden).

My recommendation: collect eggs until you have enough chocolates for Chocoholic and you've looted either the items required or you've gathered enough chocolates to purchase the items from the vendor.  Once you've got it all, start the achievement spam!

While you're heading to Stormwind for Noble Garden, don your White Tuxedo Shirt, Black Tuxedo Pants and Elegant Dress. Now you can kiss or be kissed for Blushing Bride while you're there!  

Also, equip your Spring Flowers so that you can stalk female characters of the various races (except Goblins and Worgen) for Shake Your Bunny-Maker. I was able to knock out the alliance requirements fairly easily with a few stalks of the Auction House in Stormwind, but for Horde requireements, I flew over to Razor Hill in Durotar and hung out for a while.  When you do that, just watch the guards because you will get pegged as PVP if you get close to them (unless that's your thing).  Another option -- to the detriment of your battlegroup team, is equipping your flowers in your BGs and tossing ears on players before you swap weapons and re-acquaint them with the spirit healer.

Hard Boiled requires you becoming a rabbit in Un'Goro. I did this one the hard way (instead of having a buddy zap me with the Blossoming Branch already in Un'Goro. The hard way consisted of getting a random bunny buff from looting an egg, then popping my Kirin Tor ring (because hearthing or porting doesn't break illusion like flying does!), hopping my way to the Caverns of Time portal in Dalaran and then hopping across Tanaris into Un'Goro while avoiding all the bad guys (because damage kills the buff!).  All told, took me 10 minutes to get the achievement once I was transformed in Kharanos.  Be smart... bring a buddy with a wand and just transform when you're already there!

Desert Rose requires Spring Robes (looted from eggs or purchased with 50 chocolates) to be activated in 5 zones.  I could have nailed this after I did my Hard Boiled, but I didn't think to purchase the robe first!  So I wasted some travel time back and forth.

Once you get your companion from a Spring Rabbit's Foot, he needs to get frisky in each of the four starting areas. Not hard (especially with other players there farming). If it's late or sparse, you may need to bring a pre-arranged partner for your love-bunny.

All in all, Noblegarden is one of the easier holidays. There's not much strategy to it besides collecting eggs and seeking out females of the opposite faction (especially now that neutral cities like Dalaran and Shattrath City are ghost towns). Still, a pretty easy way for the "Peashooter the Noble" title and one more notch in the Meta!

Besides... with 4.1 dropping today (according to rumors), who wants to spend all their time on holiday achievements!  

14 April 2011

What 4.1's Call to Arms does for me...

I spaced on this one. Totally missed all the hullabaloo.  Is that the right spelling?  Whatever. Anyway, Blizzard announced a new function in patch 4.1 that will award the least-represented group role (Tank, Healer or DPS) chances at rare mount drops or other goodies for participating in the LFG queues.

The stated intent, taken directly from the original source, says:
Call to Arms is meant to lower wait times by offering additional rewards for queuing as the currently least represented role.
Ok. I can live with that. The recoil has been what I call reactionary: WTF, why can't I get those mount drops, too?  It's really not all that fair.  But, enough has been said about it on other sites.

What am I doing about it?
I'm leveling my Death Knight that's been collecting dust in his purple 226s.  I'm godawful at it, because the last time I tanked the tank spec was frost dual wield. Plus, the new rune mechanic and me are at odds, kinda like how focus was for Pea back before the Shattering.

But, despite the challenges, I embrace that the old saying: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Will I abandon Pea?  Hell, no!  Will I zip any BoA stuff that my DK receives over to Pea?  Hell, yeah! So until something else changes, I've got some level 80s to get up to 85.

12 April 2011

"Newbie" vs "Noob"

I've been cheating on Peashooter lately.  I know, I know, it sounds terrible... but I've been leveling up some alts. I've observed that the player attitudes during the leveling game seem totally different than in the progression end-game.  How?

By the very nature of where your character is, you're still leveling up with respect to skills, talents, gear and experience (for both new levels and actually how to play the class). Who should reasonably expect that your play mechanics are fine-tuned during the leveling process? That's why you're leveling and questing to learn those very mechanics.

End-Game Progression
However, once you've hit 85 and learned all the goodies your class trainer has, you should have a very good idea on how all of your abilities work and should be accomplished with fulfilling your character's role in an instance or raid.  Obviously, a freshly minted 85 is not ready for heroics and gear does factor, but as far as how to play?  That should be mastered by now.

Leetist Jerks
Then you meet one of the "leets".  For me, they've been the result of the random instance queues.  All they do is point out how sub-par your DPS is or make fun of your tanking gear selection or tell you "lern to healz". I loathe these folks -- their misuse of English for chat-speek wrankles my nerves on top of the sheer obnoxiousness they exude for claiming to be right and insisting all others are noobs. These players think they are top dog and can do no wrong. I want to strangle them -- not for being top in abilities, but for being ass hats.

What's the difference between the terms?
A "newbie" is forgiven mistakes because they are an honest to goodness new player -- whether to the game or just to that class and/or role combination.  A "noob" is a player that is just screwing up in the insulter's view. A "nub" is chat-speeek insult for noob.

Why does this chafe me?
Name calling accomplishes nothing except raising blood pressure. If a leetist has a legitimate issue with a player, then educate them.  Ridicule accomplishes nothing. Explain why what they did was poor and how to do it better next time. It makes you come off so much better and helps that player correct a bad habit.

Story Time
I was DPSing as an enhancement shaman at level 59 in Hellfire's Ramparts. Three of us actually say "Hi" in party chat, and I let everyone know that I'm still playing around with abilities and combos but that I'm on an alt character.  No further chatter until we get to the final boss fight and my shammie died.  No biggie.  Then we have this jewel of a chat exchange:

HEAL: Sorry, Sham.  Rez inc.
TANK: dont. he's a nub.
TANK: only did 500 dps in BoA gear. lolz.
TANK: ltp dude.

Are you friggin kidding me?  That does nothing but piss me off! It doesn't offer any insights into how I can improve, or do better, or anything other than drop an insult and then leave group. What made this more frustrating was that I indicated I was learning and experimenting, and we had the whole instance run to make adjustments to my spell/ability usage. Our healer felt the same way.

HEAL: Dickheads! How about offering feedback instead of insults?

Yay! A like-minded soul!

Paying it Forward
On Peashooter, I don't claim to be the hunter expert. I'm not even in the top 1000. However, I am accomplished in my class and I do have a great command on the abilities Hunters have and what they can do with those abilities.  When I see a Hunter wailing away on something with his melee weapon, I'll stop and offer suggestions.  When I see a Hunter pulling sub-par DPS, I'll offer recommendations.  Note -- these are offers!  Not "you suck, do it this way".  Most players are open for suggestions to improve their game. But at the same time, nobody wants to be called out negatively.

And, as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as noobishness under level 85.  Any character from 1 to 84 is simply a newbie learning to play their class. That's kinda the point of leveling, ain't it?

04 April 2011

What pets should I have in my stable?

When 4.0.1 hit and we started preparing for Deathwing's changes, the biggest impact on my game was the inclusion of the new stable and call pet mechanics. Once you reach level 85, you can carry around 5 pets with you for usage in your instance or raid run. You also can stable 20 additional pets with your trusty stable master, allowing for 25 different pet choices.

What's a hunter to do? So many pet choices... Well, to review, let's take a look at the buffs and debuffs afforded by each pet family.

Pet Debuffs (Target)
Disarm: Birds of Prey & Scorpid
Reduce Melee and Ranged Attack Speed: Fox & Tallstrider
Reduce Casting Speed: Core Hound & Sporebat
Increase Magic Damage Taken: Dragonhawk & Wind Serpent
Reduce Physical Damage Caused: Carrion Bird & Bear
Interrupt Spell Casting / Spell School Lockout: Nether Ray, Moth & Gorilla
Increase Physical Damage Taken: Ravager
Increase Bleed Damage Taken: Hyena, Boar & Rhino
Reduce Armor: Serpent & Raptor
Reduce Healing Received: Devilsaur
Stun: Bat & Wasp
Root: Silithid, Spider, Dog & Crab
Slow Movement Speed: Chimaera, Crocolisk & Warp Stalker

Pet Buffs (Party & Raid)
Increase Strength & Agility: Cat & Spirit Beast
Increase Critical Chance: Devilsaur & Wolf
Increase Stamina: Silithid
Bloodlust / Heroism / Time Warp (30% haste): Core Hound

Who says that all hunters do is DPS? Pffftt!

Here's how my choices have broken down to date. First and foremost, one of my talent trees will always remain Beast Mastery for the aptly named Beast Mastery talent enabling taming of exotic pets. I invested so many hours in taming Loque'nahak that I refuse to lose the ability to tame or control Exotic pets. Just last weekend, my guild was gracious enough to allow me to tame Chromaggus in Blackwing Lair, so the Core Hound will also be a permanent fixture. My exotic pets tamed just because I can tame them include:
  • Sprit Beast (looks and utility)
  • Core Hound (looks and utility)
  • Devilsaur (because I love having a pet T-Rex)
  • Silithid (utility only - ugliest and most annoying pet in the game)
So far, that's 4 out of 25 taken.

Now I branch out into PVP vs PVE pets. Some of the pet abilities really lend themselves to PVP play. My essential PVP pets include:
  • Bird of Prey (for disarming)
  • Chimaera (for ranged slowing)
  • Wasp (for stunning)
  • Monkey (for sheer poo-flinging fun)
  • Rhino (for knock backs near cliffs)
  • Crab (for root)
  • Spider (for ranged root)
  • Moth (spell caster interrupts)
As an aside regarding PVP, nothing makes me giggle more than busting out Rhino near the edge and blowing a healer that's parked near a cliff off the map. Depending if I'm targeting healers (casting slow or interrupt) or melee (stun, disarm) the other pets are tailored for the tactic. The Crab and Spider are throwbacks to Wrath PVP.

That's 8 more, bringing me to 12 and leaving 13 more... Now, for PVE usage.

  • Tallstrider (reduces target's attack speed)
  • Wind Serpent (increase magic damage taken)
  • Carrion Bird (reduces target's physical damage dealt)
  • Ravager (increase physical damage taken)
  • Hyena (increase bleed effectiveness)
  • Raptor (reduced armor)
  • Wolf (critical chance buff)
  • Cat (str/agi buff)
  • Dog (root) (used on Valks in LK fight)

The PVE pet I unveil depends upon the makeup of the group or raid. The Wolf is always with me, because he's the general purpose DPS and buff that doesn't compete with any other classes. Alternatively, if I see that we have several casters but nobody is debuffing the target for magic damage, the Wind Serpent arrives (especially nice for Survival specs). Or, perhaps we have a rogue or marksman hunter and the other buffs are covered? Why not buff bleeds with the Hyena? Lots of physical damage? Ravager to the rescue! Just want to be THAT hunter? Break out the Tallstrider (I adore running randoms with my pink flamingo!).

Anyways, that's another 9, bringing my total number of tamed pets to 21 and leaving 4 spots. Now, for solo tanking or achievement farming, I want some good old fashioned tanking pets.

  • Bear (general purpose stuff)
  • Beetle (extreme soloing -- the combo of harden carapace and cower is amazing, especially when combined with the 2 piece t5 set bonus)
  • Shale Spider (alternative extreme soloing for the stats buff)

The additional 3 brings me to 24 spots leaving 1. So here I sit wondering what pets to complete my  stable with. I prefer having one of each pet family, so no duplicate families.  I'd love to hear from readers on their favorite pets to tame and why you love them so!

31 March 2011

The Wrong End of the Auction House Game

One of the more subtle, yet powerful, aspects of the World of Warcraft is that the game means something different to each player.  Moreover, the game changes for the same player depending on their focus at that time. Whether I'm logging in to fart around or tackle some additional progression raid encounters, the game is still fun and it still engages. My game has been divided into three areas lately: end-game progression, alts, and the Auction House.  Let's chat about the AH for a moment, ok?

This is not a gold-making blog, nor am I even remotely claiming that I know what I'm doing in the Auction House. But somehow, I've managed to accumulate over 25,000 gold over the past four weeks. That income is mainly from disenchants and white drops from older instances, but there have been a few crafted blues from my leatherworking skill ups that sold, too. The trick to making gold that I'm using is buying materials for less than what the final product costs and capturing a profit on the 'manufacture' of the final product.

So I've been doing okay.  However,  I've also managed to lose about 13,000 gold in speculation and just general get rich quick scheming. Ugh!

How did I go bad? I bet on Heavy Savage Leather.

Before patch 4.0.6 hit, Heavy Savage Leather was selling for around 60g each on my server.  That's 1,200g a stack.  In the course of some Auctioneer scanning, I encountered what I thought was the mother-lode of deals:  Heavy Savage Leather selling for 48g each.  I bought all that I could and dropped 8k on the bet.

Also, I saw that Savage Leather was selling for 10g each. Since 5 Savage Leather becomes 1 Heavy Savage Leather, that meant I could buy the materials for a Heavy Savage Leather that sold for 60g and only spend 50g, thus allowing for a 10g profit. Again, bells went off and I invested 4k on Savage Leather with plans to convert to Heavy Savage Leather and resell.

And, you guessed it, Savage Leather Scraps were selling for around 1g 20s each.  As any Leatherworker can tell you, 5 Savage Leather Scraps makes one Savage Leather.  At that price, 6g in Savage Leather Scraps would yield a Savage Leather that sells for 10g -- a 4 gold profit.

I thought I was so frigging clever.

I started listing the weekend before path 4.0.6 hit.  I sold a few stacks, and I was getting happy. Then, come Tuesday, Bam!

Skins are everywhere.

Where leather used to be scarce, now it's plentiful.  The biggest change for me?  Tol Barad spiders! I can sit there for 30 minutes and grab 10 stacks of Savage Leather just from collecting other people's kills as they run their dailies. Leather farming is easy, but that also means there is more of it.  Prices started to drop.  Now Heavy Savage Leather sells for 20g each or 400g a stack on my server.  I had been holding out in hopes of a rebound, but finally cut my losses at a hit of of 800g per stack.  Ouch!

The plus side?

In avoiding selling at a loss, I finally had enough leather to buy all my patterns and max out my skill!

It's not all bad.  I've been farming Molten Core and Karazhan for reputation lately.  MC yields about 600 gold per run (or more depending on the low-end elementals markets) and Kara about 1,500 (mostly in disenchants).

Despite taking a huge hit, I'm doing ok and I learned a lesson; get rich quick fails in WoW as much as it does in RL.

22 March 2011

Glory of the Outdated Material

Last week I shared how I'm struggling to get into the content of the Cataclysm expansion. Part of my conflict with the new stuff is I'm still really -- and I mean really -- enjoying the older stuff.  Some guildmates and I have been plugging our way through collecting guild raid and personal achievements from the older instances on Friday and Saturday nights.  These runs have been the highlight of my week.

Fixated on the Old
My recent armory achievement feed tells the story; we're clearing Ulduar, Naxxramas, Obsidian Sanctum, Onyxia and even Outland raids. I've always had a bit of OCC on completing achievements, and these off-night raids are awesome from my view to help knock out the outstanding missing raid achievements.  It's pure bonus that some of the achievements reward titles and drake mounts, too.

I've been the one coordinating the raids, and I've been basing that around a few meta achievements like Glory of the Raider, Glory of the Ulduar Raider and Glory of the Icecrown Raider.

What strikes me, though, is the fact that even though we're running older content that we out-level and ou-gear, coordination and communication are still required.  Achievements like Shocking require you all to actually move in the right location.  And They Would All Go Down Together forces you to manage DPS and not just blindly go nucking futs on your damage.  We have been successful with the majority of our attempts (as expected).  What was not expected: we've struggled on some of these achievements.

14 March 2011

Just not that into Cataclysm

I've been struggling with this nagging thought...  What if I'm just not really into the Cataclysm expansion?

That's not to say that I'm leaving WoW or doing any kind of departure here. Far from it!  I still really enjoy playing the game.  However, I am finding that the new content in Cataclysm just isn't sparking it for me.  This is evident in two main areas: running instances and the overall lore.

07 March 2011

Real ID vs the Avatar

Image by Katayun
When Blizzard announced their Real ID system last July, the WoW community kinda went ballistic. Most of that uproar was based upon Blizz's stated intent that player's real identities would be posted on the forums instead of a character profile. Blizzard relented, and implemented Real ID as an option, but backed off on the forum requirement of showing honest-to-goodness real names.

My local paper had an article on a similar effort where online forums for newspapers are struggling with whether to allow anonymous posting or not.

That article got me thinking about my web activity in general, including WoW, and I have to say that I'm firmly in the anonymous camp on this issue.

My Online ID
When I play the game, I'm my character. I'm referred to both in game chat and in Ventrillo chat as "Peashooter" or even a nickname of "Pea". Yes, my avatar even has a nickname.  See how developed his personality has become! I've shared on this site how I actually become the character in how I interact with players and approach the game.

That approach spans both my in-game and blogging experience. This blog is really Pea's blog. The posts are heavily influenced by his experiences (or the experiences I have had while playing him). I'm kind of like the puppet master: I'm seeing the stuff that happens, yet it's not actually happening to me. I'm even toying with the idea of following Ratshag's approach and having guest posts from Alts (Galertruby's intro is still the best guest post ever!).

Safety in Anonymity
Blogging, as other bloggers may or may not attest, feels risky. You're offering up an opinion or a thought or an observation to the Internet. I feel safer knowing that despite the fact that I'm writing the content and publishing, it's got Pea's name on it. I can hide behind Pea from any backlash. I imagine this is why some authors publish under a pseudonym; if your work sucks, you can blame some other guy for being a fail writer.

Anonymous protection extends to comments or forums, as well. See, when folks disagree, that same level of anonymous protection exists for the trolls to rip you to shreds in the comments for all to see. There is no repercussion and the anonymity protects the poster from real consequence.  And sometimes, trolls can be vicious. I encourage disagreements. Much of the allure in blogging is actual dialogue between the blogger and the readers.  But, personal attacks are pointless and messy. The lack of consequence may embolden the troll. When someone does decide to personally attack me, they are opening up on my avatar, not me personally. I'm in turn shielded by my avatar. Pretty convoluted, eh?

Taking the Step to Real ID
I'll continue to decline to share my real ID with my gaming friends. Part of it is the separation I've imposed on keeping WoW distinct from my family / friends and work. Part of it is security where I just don't want my personal details online. But mostly, it's the element of escapism. I enjoy WoW because I can slip out of my real life for a while and become a virile Hunter. I'm leery of mixing that fantasy with the reality and then somehow polluting one with the other.

How about you guys? Have you tried out RealID? Have you shared actual identifying information about yourself with your WoW pals?

04 March 2011

Character Personalities Are Unique

Whether I'm posting to the blog or playing in the game, Peashooter has developed a bit of his own personality. I actually become Peashooter. I don't go all the way into "RP-mode" with him, yet I do find my behavior is different while I'm playing Pea compared to my alts.

Do you find that your toon's personality changes by the character played?

25 February 2011

The Ultimate Guilty Pleasure

Image by Jack000
This is going to sound odd coming from a guy that raids two or three nights a week, runs dailies unless totally off-line, and also blogs about playing World of Warcraft. But I have to wonder if I’m actually ashamed of the time that I spend on WoW!  If I’m going to bare my soul here, then I’m forced to admit that both playing the game as well as doing WoW-related stuff out of the game (forums, this blog, Twitter, my Google Reader) are things I do in at least relative secret and typically in the dark when nobody else is around.

Is WoW a guilty pleasure? For me? Well... yes!

Guilty Pleasure
Wikipedia defines “Guilty Pleasure” as:
A guilty pleasure is something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The "guilt" involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one's lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes...
Can you sense the conflict? One the one hand, I'm trying to establish a blog about WoW and thereby legitimize my "Ironforge street creds". I'm effectively shouting to players "Read me! Read me! I know what I'm talking about!". I’m promoting my posts via tools like Blog Azeroth, Feedburner and Twitter to encourage readers to stop by and visit. At the same time, however, I'm hiding all of it from my real life interactions.

I made a post earlier wondering if age impacted game play, and I have been overwhelmed by not only the response to that post, but also the sheer number of players who dropped by to comment that they’re past the age of 35 and yet still active in the game. I wish I knew y’all in real life!

See, my friends, while great folks, just aren't into computer gaming, let alone MMOs. The sense is that gaming is something dads do with the kids. The actual dads themselves are supposed to have other, presumably more grown up, hobbies.

When I actually have said that I play online fantasy games, the looks I get are priceless. Mix incredulity with sheer incomprehension, and you get the idea. I am usually able to shrug it off by saying “it’s an outlet to relieve stress by beating up on virtual monsters.” That helps, but there’s still that lingering judgement from my peers.

At work, I'm protective of my privacy. Often, I work in front of clients performing consulting activities. I'm friendly and engaging, but all within a business context. I'm paid to make people comfortable and get them to trust my recommendations, but outside of work I need my own space and my own time. It's also necessary -- would you pay someone an hourly rate for thoughtful recommendations if you saw them totally wasted at dinner out of the office?  Maybe, but it would make you at least consider the character of the person you've hired! So work stays at work, and my professional relationships stay distinct from my personal ones.

Would I lose respect from my business clients if they knew I played games all night?  Maybe, maybe not. But, I'm not willing to risk it.

At home with the family, I’m typically online when the rest of the house is asleep. When the kids are up, I’m spending time with them. I try to capture some quality time with my wife, because I do enjoy being married and I’d rather do something stupid by risking that time for a game. So it's not like I'm hiding my gaming time, but it is that I'm not gaming when other stuff is going on at home.

Circling back around -- playing this game is something I’m doing at night (in the dark) when nobody is around to see me. Kinda creepy, no? And pretty much descriptive of how one would treat a guilty pleasure!

23 February 2011

Seriously? How did they do that at level 80?

Achievement farming was back in session Saturday night - this time in Heroic mode.  We were able to face-roll through Storming the Citadel, The Plagueworks, and The Crimson Hall.  Well... actually, we completed The Crimson Hall, but I can't honestly say we face-rolled it...  Read on!

Heroic Icecrown Citadel (10 man)
In general, the bosses have more health and do more damage. But, in addition, the fights have a distinct element or two compared to regular mode.  Let's check 'em out, shall we?
Lord Marrowgar

No real change from regular mode. Still have to dodge the flames and free spiked raid members (which will occur more frequently). With a level 85 raid, we single tanked / two healed this one without issues.

Lady Deathwhisper
  • Threat issues in Phase 2
  • Cultist adds continue to spawn during Phase 2
  • Vengeful Shades cast AoE instead of single target with Vengeful Blast
  • Dominate Mind forces some CC of your mind-controlled raid member

Phase 1 is pretty much the same as regular mode. Phase 2 adds some complexity. Adds will continue to spawn, so even at level 85 we dual tanked / dual healed. Shreks can still put a hurtin' on a non-tank, so those need to be controlled. DPS and Healers need to move away from the ghosts, because they do go boom. Different sites say different things as far as being tauntable or not, but we did struggle with threat. Thankfully, with the DPS we had it didn't last long.

Gunship Battle

Pfft. A well-earned break after Lady D! We actually completed this with three people off the ship (afk for raid bio break when a newcomer clicked the wrong dude). Only 3 people had the jetpacks. Wasn't pretty, but it got done.

Deathbringer Saurfang

No distinction from regular mode - still need to not AoE, and the Blood Beasts need to go down ASAP. We wound up getting two raid members marked because folks weren't switching fast enough.


With the addition of malleable goo, ranged and heals need to be aware of that and dodge or it gimps output. Otherwise, it's the same fight as regular just faster and stronger than before...  Sorry, Steve Austin flashback there!


  • Professor Putricide chimes in with Vile Gas

With the addition of Vile Gas, try to spread out a bit more.  Otherwise, no big deal.

Professor Putricide

This one becomes more complicated than regular with the plague mechanic. Even at 85, you need to coordinate passing that off after 10 secs or so and then move so that the person that passed it (and now has the sickness debuff) won't get it again. This caused one wipe for us until we looked up the fight and went -- aha!

Blood Prince Council

Basically, don't try what we tried at first which is just burn the boss and don't worry about the kinetic bombs. Those suckers hurt. You need to be disciplined and still control the kinetic bombs while dealing with all of the other crap going on.
I ranged-tanked Keleseth, and that shadow prison sucks and sucks hard core. It sure adds a level of complexity to running around the room to collect the dark nuclei. 
Our fifth attempt was successful: we had a tank on both Valanar and Taldaram, while the hunter range-tanked Keleseth. We also ran three healers (though one was discipline so added some smite spammage). This was not a fun fight.

Blood-Queen Lana'thel

This, on the other hand, is a fun fight. The heroic mode becomes more of a DPS race because her aura increases the more vampires she has out in the raid, but she was dead  with only 3 vampires even with one mind-controlled mental shammy going ballistic amongst the ranks at the end of the fight.

Valithria Dreamwalker

  • The healers entering the Emerald Dream take a bit of damage
  • Valithria takes damage during the fight

This one boils down to not ever letting the stacks of Emerald Vigor fall off. Valithria takes damage during the entire fight and has more health, so the healing is a bit increased.  We went with 2 healers into the dream (2 holy priests) and had a resto shaman healing the tank and the remaining raid. We missed the enrage timer, but again Binding Heal powered by 20+ stacks of vigor is pretty amazing, so the priests were able to save the raid. 


We didn't actually complete this one yet, so it's still a thing-to-do.  But, where we failed was losing too many raid members during her air phase because they weren't hiding behind the ice blocks correctly. There's also a re-tuning of the damage on the blocks because we need to balance our level 85 DPS against the increased health of the ice blocks. So, basically, it's balance. 
The other thing to remember is that when casters get Unchained Magic, when Instability goes boom they need to be away from the raid because it does have an AoE effect in heroic.

The Lich King

  • Phase 1 - summons a Shadow Trap
  • Phase 2 - Val'kyrs can't be killed. Once they get to 50%, they drop the target and fly up over the raid and then begin casting Life Sipon.
  • Phase 3 - Harvest Soul is raid-wide
  • Frostmourne - the whole raid comes here and kills Wicked Spirits before they hit the ground and explode for lots of damage.

This just sounds awesome. 
Phase 1 : Now we have both the plague mechanic and a defile-like mechanic during the Careful Aim phase. Run towards the aberrations and run away from the raid depending on which debuff you catch.
Phase 2: Move defile out and collapse on the center to minimize time spent running all over the platform and avoiding having too many Valks up there sucking life from you...
Phase 3: Eat a boat-load of AoE damage, survive, and kill wicked spirits for 60 seconds until you port back to the platform (probably right into a defile) and then manage the Vile spirits that will be bombarding us with AoE explosions.

To all of you who actually did complete Fall of the Lich King at level 80, my hat's off to you.  I'm in achievement farming mode and struggling with the encounters. Remembering how I struggled with the Lich King fight in the months prior to Cataclysm, and fresh off being thrashed by encounters attuned for characters 5 levels below me, I'm honestly impressed by those players and guilds that not only completed the normal modes of these fights, but then went on to Heroic kills. Seriously, kudos! 

17 February 2011

DPSing in Tank Gear

I swore I would never, ever do this... I have pulled my hair out and gotten flabbergasted at players equipping items just because the item level was higher despite the fact that the stats are all wrong.  Like Hunters in Wrath wearing Shaman mail with spirit or Death Knights wearing Paladin plate with intellect.

At the moment, however, I see no other choice in the matter than to equip a tanking gun.

I was fortunate to have the Crossfire Carbine drop from trash in the Bastion of Twilight last night. It replaced my Lightningflash.

But! But! But! The carbine's got Strength, Stamina, Expertise and Mastery! Fantastic stats for a warrior, crappy for a hunter. Here's a run down:

  • Strength: This will add melee attack power. But if I'm forced to melee, I'm already dead.
  • Stamina: Cataclysm gear makes me miss the old Survivalist talent that converted your stamina into attack power! If we still had that, then this would be at least somewhat itemized towards DPS. Then again, with the AoE raid damage I seem to be taking, the extra health won't go to waste. Just not on my primary drool list.
  • Mastery: It can help with the random Wild Quiver proc, but it's my first target at the reforger into hit, haste or crit. I love the idea behind Mastery, but I'm starved for hit, haste and crit so I'm very willing to forego some mastery in favor of others.
  • Expertise: Reducing the chance that the thing I'm smacking with my axe won't otherwise make me miss. Crap, I'm meleeing. That means I'm already dead.

So why then did I accept and equip a BoE warrior weapon with two pointless stats, one average (Mastery) stat and one marginal stat (Stamina)?

Because my damage goes up, and it goes up nicely. Moreover, it does so even though I'm losing itemizations.

To test this out, I actually tried my hand at some theory-crafting for the first time ever. Unless I did something wrong, the base damage values for shots used in a Marksman rotation show a clear reason for the upgrade.

The Math
Here's the results of dwarven pondering.
Basic Weapon Comparison without itemizations
First, I took the two weapons and -- ignoring the stat bonuses -- compared the base weapon damage. From what I understand, this is a factor in the output of several key shots and will scale DPS accordingly.
Lightningflash normalized to Marksman Shots
Crossfire Carbine normalized to Marksman Shots
Second, I ran the weapon basics against each of the primary shots I'm using in Marksman spec to see the minimum, maximum and a calculated average value. Side by side, (actually top to bottom here on the old blog) there is a clear increase in damage by using the warrior gun.
Checking with Femaledwarf.com my DPS increases by about 900 points just by changing the guns out. I may not like having the wrong stats, but I am liking the boost in output! Besides, wowreforge.com can help figure out how to make up for the itemizations easily enough!

Disclaimer: While I'm an undeniable nerd, my higher education was more slanted to liberal arts and less -- much much less -- to math & science. Other, more qualified math & science types may spot errors in the above calculations. Should that occur, please point out the issue in the comments!

No gnomes were harmed in the production of these spreadsheets. But when the formulae wouldn't line up, it got tempting.

16 February 2011

BAST: When Good Guildies Go Bad

Jack at The Casual Raider wonders:
What do you do when a normally good guildmate performs poorly or behaves badly? Your rock solid tank comes to raid ungemmed, your master mage dips down into pre-cata dps numbers several nights in a row or your best healer can't seem to keep from going oom 2 minutes into any fight. What do you do? The obvious answer is shoot the hostage but...
I considered this question from a pure performance basis in a raid team that completed ICC 10m before Cataclysm's release and is now getting back into raiding the new content.  Wow, that sounds alot like MY raid team. Well, that's convenient, because you're supposed to write about what you've experienced, eh?


I'll assume one of your DPS team members isn't cutting the mustard by attacking the wrong targets, not moving out of the poop, or just simply not putting up better damage than the healers.  Maybe it's lack of gear or enhancements to the gear they have. Perhaps it's learning the new fights or even the more basic understanding of the new class mechanics. Or worse yet, maybe they just no longer care about their performance. All but the last case are solvable; in the instance of apathy, it's time to move off the team.


As soon as you talk about performance, you're talking about measuring up to a set of expectations. It's as simple as measuring to some known standard. On a progression raid team, those expectations will likely include the following:
  • know the fight mechanics for the scheduled encounter
  • know your team's planned tactics (guild forums are great for that)
  • come prepared with consumables (buff food, drink and flasks)
  • equip your PVE gear and ensure it's both enchanted and gemmed (no need for epics, blue gems are pretty cheap)
  • perform your role in the raid (Tank, Heal or DPS)
All of these expectations exist so that all 10 or 25 people are performing at maximum ability. Why? Most of these new raid bosses are challenging enough where the entire team needs to be on their game. It's not ICC at level 85 where you can waltz through with 7 people and clean up achievements. One person's lack of performance will -- at least on my team -- ensure a failed attempt.  Other raids that have more kills and better gear could probably get away with allowing a poor performer to coast through. We don't have that luxury. So, at least for us, failure to come prepared will directly impact the success of the team. In a raid, a single player's impact at least 9 other people. By extension, those choices have more meaning than they do in solo play.

Failure to conform to the expectations requires an adjustment. If the player can't see that for themselves, they need to be confronted about it.


If you've never had to confront someone, that first time will be difficult. It can be especially difficult to tell a friend "You're just not cutting it."But, if it's done constructively, the player has the opportunity to improve. Sometimes, people need a pep talk (and good performance confrontations can serve to be exactly that). It it all goes horribly wrong, then yes feelings will be hurt and you could lose a team member from the raid.

What I've found best in my life is taking an honest yet tactful approach. You're criticizing someone; it's harsh enough without needing to berate them, so keep it to the point and keep it neutral. You also need a factual basis in order to point out flaws. We're aiming for Constructive Criticism, not a nerd rage meltdown. Your observations should be based on fact, not opinion.

Put yourself in their shoes. Would you rather hear "Lately, you suck. Learn to play the new game!" That's critical, but not of any real value. Compare that to "Your DPS isn't up to what it was before, and we need the entire raid's DPS to increase to beat the enrage timer. Do you have any ideas on changes you might make to improve your contribution?"  The second example still points out an issue, but it doesn't put the other person down at all.

For an equipment problem, a simple "Hey, you really need to at least gem your gear with blue or even green gems. The extra +30 will add up." is so much better than "C'mon! Get your stuff gemmed!" If it's item level, offer to help run heroics. Sitting in a 45 minute queue as a DPS to only get berated by jerk-offs is not a fun prospect. Running with a group of guildies, though, is a whole different story.

For fight mechanics, instead of "Look it up on Google!", use "Shermanator posted a nice summary of tactics in the guild forums. Would you review those and if you have any questions let someone know before the raid?"


This is what's missing from bad confrontations: you just kicked a friend in their privates. Acknowledge that it can be hard to hear, but that you want to help them. Acknowledge their feelings. It can be painful to be told you're screwing up. Something like "Listen, I know this is hard, but I need to tell you a few things where I think you could improve your performance. You'll have more fun when you're back on top of the charts and we're getting epics."

Finally, allow them a moment to absorb and offer an opportunity for them to ask refining questions. Give them a chance to take it all in and respond.

Oh, and dare I even need to point out that this will spare hard feelings if done privately in whispers? Doing this in guild chat or raid chat is publicly humiliating. It's inflammatory and serves no purpose other than nerd rage.  Just don't do it.

When you're confronting a guildmate, you're usually confronting a friend. Friends have mutual respect for each other, and friends can argue and recover from those arguments as long as nothing to hateful pops up during the heat of the moment. When it's necessary, and when it's done with respect, a confrontation should result in either an improvement or the graceful stepping aside for another team member to fill the raid slot.  When done poorly, DRAMA enters... And I exit.

14 February 2011

Achievement Farming: ICC

Older content-based achievements are like used cars. To some, a used car is just that, used. To others, it's still a great vehicle that has new-to-them features.  When it comes to achievements, I'm a used car shopper: I still think achivements are worth it even though they may be in older content. The content is often totally new to me, and I enjoy exploring it even when I out-level it.
A few other guildies are joining me in casually pursuing the Glory of the Icecrown Raider and claiming the Reins of the Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher. As a bit of background, we were successful in actually defeating Arthas before the release of Cataclysm. There were two 10m teams going during those last few weeks prior to the release, and I had characters on each of the two teams. I was successful on my priest, but I had an unexpected conflict the night that Pea's team successfully earned their Kingslayer titles
Well, Saturday night accomplished that in an absolutely entertaining achievement fest. And yes, we did overgear and out-level the raid, so of course it's nothing to brag about. However, it was a ton of friggin' fun and for those of you looking for some guild bonding time, I highly recommend the exercise!
In the 10m group, there were seven of us that had cleared all of ICC on at least one character. Three folks never had to opportunity. We were able to complete 9 of the 12 boss-specific achievements (missing the Blood Council, Sindragosa and The Lich King fights) in about 4 hours. Also, for the characters there for the first time, it was impossible to complete Lana'thel's achievement. Also, we attempted everything on regular mode with plans to return on heroic mode.

Fights and Tactics


Achievement: Boned
Difficulty: Easy
You still need to be on your toes just a bit with the bone spikes, but with level 85 DPS, these went down so fast it was nowhere near as critical as it was at level 80. We still had everyone switch over to spikes, but they died in 1 seconds of the required 8 seconds most of the time. Also, we're only 7 strong at this point in the night, so we single tanked and dual-healed.

Lady Deathwhisper

Achievement: Full House
Difficulty: Medium
Usually, the raid had to leave up a single version of each kind of mob spawned during the encounter. That's the elegant method. Our method? Brute force. Again, we single tanked (now had 8 raid members) and the tank's duties were to run around the room gathering up the adds that spawned and keeping Lady D's attention once her mana shield was done. DPS essentially focus on burning down Lady D as quickly as possible. We had a few deaths on this fight, as the adds got a bit overpopulated and the shrek was still able to one-shot level 85 healers if they took aggro.

Gunship Battle

Achievement: I'm on a Boat
Difficulty: Easy
In hindsight, we wasted effort doing this one by actually coordinating who jumped across. We ended up killing 4 battlemages. Our raid makeup was still 8 at this point, so the tank actually jumped the first two times with a rogue DPS. I pet-tanked the adds on our boat with Shermanator the Beetle (parked in center on aggressive with auto-cast Growl, ShellShield and Thunderstomp). The rogue used vanish to remain over and help with DPS, and I hopped over for 3 and 4. Saurfang's axes still hurt, and both tank, rogue, me and another ended up dying before our gunners could down the boat.
I argue that we beat it for real, but even so all 10 members got the achievement. That's odd, because 6 of us already HAD the achievement, which makes me suspect "bug"!


Achievement: I've Gone and Made a Mess
Difficulty: Easy
This one was over and done with in less than 2 minutes. We were able to burn down Saurfang before he spawned the third set of bloodbeasts. Our ranged switched over to the beasts when they popped, and we also added 2 final members to the raid so we did actually have 2 tanks swapping on Saurfang. Otherwise, this one is simple.


Achievement: Dances with Oozes
Difficulty: Easy
Not a whole lot of elegance to this one, either. Essentially, allow the little oozes to spawn and stay stuck to their initial target. If possible, try to spread out so that being next to someone doesn't actually allow the little oozes to spawn. It's essentially a DPS race to get Rotface down before a big ooze has a chance to form and reach 5 stacks where it can explode.


Achievement: Flu Shot Shortage
Difficulty: Easy
We used to dance around and collapse on spores... Here, just stand, shoot and loot.  This one was a joke.

Professor Putricide

Achievement: Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion ...
Difficulty: Easy
The only trick to recall in this fight is that your DPS (especially ranged) does need to switch to the oozes when they pop.  In our fight, the 2nd tank controlled the abomination and just sucked up slimes. We got a green ooze at the end of phase 1, an orange ooze and then 1 final green ooze at the end of phase 2, and then popped heroism and burned down the Professor for the achieve.

Blood Council

Achievement: The Orb Whisperer
Difficulty: Medium
You would think that this one would be easy, but we struggled. Ultimately, we passed this and just got the kill, but here's where we struggled: Blueberries all dying and threat management. We had a tank on Keleseth to grab the blueberries and the other tank grabbed the other princes. We got bounced around a few times due to proximity, and it just caused confusion.
Next time, the plan is this: hunter/warlock ranged tank Keleseth. Dedicate a tank to each other prince. Spread out. Manage the beach ball and then profit.  My thinking is that there is no need to complicate this and just allow one person to manage each boss, because there is no issue in healing or DPS, it's simply a matter of controlling the fight.  Stay tuned on this one, as I expect to get it next time!

Blood Queen Lana'thel

Achievement: Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Difficulty: Easy
We had eight members who had already killed Lana'thel and either had been or not been bitten.  The two that had not done the fight were the first two intended targets. To ensure one of the two of them got bitten first, all other DPS waited to do any damage until the first bite was out, and then it was open season and directing the next bite sequence.
This requires two separate runs, so those that were'nt successful will be next time as we control who gets the bite.  Plus, I'm kinda looking forward to seeing the recount with the damage boost from being bitten!

Dreamwalker Valithria

Achievement: Portal Jockey
Difficulty: Easy
We ran 1 tank and three healers. The same priority for kills exists, as those blazing skeletons still do output some damage, but all in all this is just a matter of ensuring that three people go in the dream every time using a different portal.  Our third portal jockey was our mage, who LOVED the spellpower boost from the green balloons! The only requirement here is making sure all three portals are consumed each time they spawn.


Achievement: All You Can Eat
Difficulty: Medium
This is the final phase of Sindy's fight were you use the ice tombs to clear the debuff.  With having a few team members who never saw this fight in WOLTK, this will take a bit of practice to get the dance down. It boils down to using the tombs placed in the right areas to hide behind to clear stacks before they exceed 5.

Lich King

Achievement: Been Waiting a Long Time for This
Difficulty: Hard
At this point, we were getting tired, so we didn't feel like messing with letting the plague stack that high. When we do, our strategy will be to monitor DPS on the Lich King so that he doesn't drop below 70% before the plague has stacked that high.  It's going to be a bit of hanging out and chatting while cleansing.  Once it stacks, then the fight goes on as normal.
One note on this fight; the defile / val'kyr phase is still a bit of a challenge and if you're not on your toes you will still wipe.

Thoughts on Heroic

The next attempts will be on heroic mode. We should get both the Blood Council and the Blood Queen achievements regardless of regular vs heroic, but my gut tells me that we'll need to come back and do Sindragosa and the Lich King on regular mode for the two fight-specific achievements. Although, we may not, so we'll see.

Addon Help

Finally, for the achievement junkies out there, I was not prepared to track our progress as I did not have an addon installed to track if we failed the achievements during the encounter. Next time, I'll give RaidAchievement a shot and see how it goes. I really like the idea of knowing if we fail an achievement so that we can wipe and restart instead of waiting another week. If anyone has any other suggestions on either tactics or addons, I'd welcome your feedback!

10 February 2011

ZOMG! Aimed Shot Rocks

Tidal Surge is pure awesomesauce
These are my Recount numbers for Ozumat in last night's Heroic Throne of Tides. These are ZOMG-buffed by Neptulon's Tidal Surge (2,000 percent boost to DPS) buff, but I love this report because it illustrates how how hard Aimed Shot now hits for compared to other abilities. Six shots account for one-fifth of the total damage done. Just six! Admittedly, the size of the numbers are just plain cool, but what they show is the proportion of damage done by shot type.

I fine tuned my marksman spec based on the recommendations of FemaleDwarf.com and jumped by about 2k DPS in non-godly buffed heroics, so a hearty thanks to Zeherah for maintaining that bit of web awesomeness! Loronar at 35 Yards Out has an awesome write up on Aimed Shot that you should check out -- his analysis is far superior to mine.

I have some work to do, because these numbers can and should be better. I plan to spend some time camping the dummies messing with reforging (perhaps Mastery is a bit better with some extra Wild Quiver procs?) and practicing the priority list to get more comfortable with my dusted-off MM suit.

It begs the question of what that chart would look like if I was more comfortable with the new priorities?

08 February 2011

Is it the Age Gap?

Current fashion at my birth
I have had the fortune to meet and become friends with several great people within WoW. These friendships will normally evolve after I've grouped or guilded with someone, and throughout the course of killing pixelated bosses we've communicated beyond the base "you trap square while I sheep the moon.. ok tank we're good" kind of communications. We actually start sharing some personal details from our lives. One of the fun ones is age. I've come to realize that -- in WoW -- I'm an actual Elder.

While I'm older than most of the players I've met, I don't consider myself old. I'm getting closer and closer to 40, which makes me approximately twice if not even three times as old as many of the players I've interacted with. While there is certainly no scientific statistical analysis behind this next opinion, I'd say that those players older than 33 make up less than a quarter of the players I've met. I may be wrong here -- it's just been my experiences.

See -- I don't consider myself "old". In my life, when people address me as "Mr.", I still immediately assume they are referring to my father. Sure, I'm married (for 13 years now!), I'm a father to 4 children, and I work full time.  But... I still make time to play a video game. Gamers can't be "old", can we?

So what sparked this?

Well... we had a great run as a guild 5m for the random heroic, and we pulled Deadmines. Now I've only done that one once before, and I did not have a great experience. The whole Nightmare is just not fun for me, and honestly I struggle with it. I handled the falling icicles in the Pit of Saron just fine. I handled the frogger slimes in Naxxramas without incident. I handled the Icehowl charge in ToC without causing an enrage, and I dispelled that enrage when others weren't so nimble.

See, I can move out of the way and avoid the poop in most cases. But I can't seem to avoid the fires or dodge the electrified limbo sticks in heroic Deadmines!  The only way I've been able to navigate in there is by stacking on top of another player as they run through and not looking at anything else but them so that I step where they step.  If they fail, I'm dead too. But I can't seem to do it without a visual reference.

How does this tie back into the age thing?

Two of us in the group struggled with dodging the poop in our run.  We were the older players. The three twenty-somethings had no issues. To prove how easy it was, two of them ran up and back and up and back to show how it worked, which was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek way of saying "Come ON Gramps!"  It was friendly, but honestly there was a difference in our performance -- but ONLY with the dodging and only in the fire pools and lightning limbo.

I have to wonder: Have I finally hit something where I'm 'weaker' than a younger player? Is it my reaction time that's slower? My eyesight (please hold the cataract comments!)? Hand-eye coordination? Or, as I want to think -- just too much crap going on in a confined space? 

Don't hold back on your comments -- please give me both barrels if it's as simple as "Just friggin' dodge it, dude".  Obviously, I'm a big boy. I can take constructive criticism!

03 February 2011

BAST: Archaeology

I've been reading WoW blogs since I started playing the game. Player opinions started for me as a resource to better play the game and blogs have evolved into a totally complementary past time for me in addition to the game. I've been inspired by far too many blogs to name, but in general I'd like to shout out to the blogosphere a hearty "Thanks!" In getting prepared to publish my own site, I lurked at Blog Azeroth and then joined as a blogger. If you haven't yet checked it out, it's worth your time to do so! BA has a shared topic concept where bloggers ponder a theme or question for the week. This week, Flinthammer wonders:
Cataclysm's new secondary profession, archaeology, has gone through a lot of changes since it was first announced -- Path of the Titans, we hardly knew you! -- but is incredibly popular with players. At least, a lot of them are doing it -- there are also a lot of complaints. Still, go to any dig site and you'll see tons of eager archaeologists. What do you think of it? Did Blizzard release it half-baked? Are you happy with its current implementation? What else do you hope to have added to it in future patches?
What a cool question! Personally, I'm 'digging' archaeology! I know, I know, I can hear the groans! Done? All right, then let's address upsides and downsides to the newest secondary profession.


Primarily, I simply enjoy the new Survey skill. It’s a simple exercise, but the sheer act of survey’s and then triangulating the artifacts is fun to me. In the real world, I’ll spend afternoons with my 9 year old orienteering with Scouts. This is my in-game equivalent, and while it seems simplistic, it is fun to do.
Add to that mechanic the sheer fun of being Harrison Jones. Theme music just starts rolling in my head! I admit, the references in WoW to popular culture and entertainment just make me smile, so I freely admit a bias here.
Titles, too? Oh yeah, so want to grab the the Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and ultimately Professor titles. More achievement goals for Pea!
Stuff? Absolutely! From Bind on Account drops to the ultimately awesome Fossilized Raptor mount or even collectible mini pets (who doesn’t want their very one Clockwork Gnome?), the rewards are fun with a small mixture of usefulness.

Potential Improvements

Boost the vendor value of the common artifacts
Well, at least this is coming with 4.0.6 if the patch notes don’t change. It takes some time to gather up enough stuff to make the artifact, so it’d be nice if it was worth more than a few copper!

Increase the number of dig sites that are up at any given time
My largest complaint is the travel between sites. I'm doing this as an 85 with 310% flying. There is no way I'd ever start as a lower level character on a ground mount. In the time spent with this skill so far, literally half of it is just flying to the next zone.

Supplement Survey with research or quest options
I wish there were more options to advance the skill. For example, keystones are awesome. Not only can they help you advance your artifacts by counting as multiple fragments, but if you're a cash monkey, they may also be sold on the AH. What if you could unlock a quest chain or a research chain from a fragment? (Maybe these do exist but I just haven't found any yet?). How cool would it be to dig up a fragment that spawned a quest line like the Battered Hilt making you research that fragment through several instances or libraries to ultimately lead to an artifact discovery?


Would I consider Archaeology an essential skill? Not even close. I would argue that the only essential secondary skill is First Aid, but that Cooking and Fishing have tangible benefits. Archaeology is purely whimsical -- but it is fun and it does offer unique benefits! Grab your fedora, your bullwhip and your sense of adventure and go get digging!