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!

02 February 2011


The Pink Pigtail Inn had a very timely post on Monday where Larisa discussed both the ego-lifting and ego-shredding aspects of getting attention on a blog due to a link on WoW Insider. I really like it where she says -
Getting link love from WoW Insider is a double-edged sword. Many new bloggers crave for it; they think it would be the best thing ever to happen to their blog, to finally get the chance to reach a bigger audience.
That same afternoon I got linked by the Daily Quest.

Positive impacts? ZOMG, check out the Google Analytics! This little baby blog has existed for less than two weeks, and up to then I was thrilled to see three to eight people actually stop by to read what I was posting. That's a very cool feeling -- other people actually reading what it is that you have to say.

And then, Wham! 2,6000 visitors in two days. Holy. Crap.

Negatives? So far, I've been blessed by a lack of trolls. The folks that have commented have been amazing! They may agree with some points or disagree with others, but it's been a discussion rather than a rant. My favorite part of any blog is reading the responses. Many times, reader comments help me to reconsider or refine the point of the original post. It's the beauty of social networking that it fosters discussion. Of course, I'm still at the micro scale here with the Dummies; we're not talking "hundreds" or even "tens" of comments. Perhaps being smaller helps with the politeness scale? Or maybe it's just that readers are other bloggers? Hmmm....

Anyways, I certainly don't expect to have this level of traffic continue. My analytics in the future are going to show a huge spike followed by a leveling off. I'm not sure I'd even want that kind of traffic to continue.

It's a bit like being a casual player in WoW.  Right now, I can do whatever I want on my blog because there is no expectation of me.  I'm purely in this to divulge my own opinions and observations. Sure, I love it when others want to read that and even discuss it.

However, I'm nowhere near as visible as a blogger with thousands of readers. I have no experience in having an actual audience of readers, but I can only imagine that having an audience does require a semi-regular posting schedule. I suspect that audience desires and expectations would impact both posting schedules but also content (for example, raid strategies or min/maxing DPS strategies). An audience is now counting on the blogger to deliver, and by that same logic you could be compared to a progression raider in the game.

Like how I tied that back in?

In-game, I feel confident that I know how to play Peashooter well enough to try my hand at progression raiding. But, blogging? I'm a total newbie and I need to be hanging out in Dun Morogh learning the mechanics for a bit. Having that many hits seems premature. Great stuff, no doubt, but I don't think I have the actual content for many of those referrals to actually "stick".

But, guess what?  I'm cool with that. I'm still leveling my blog. If I can stick with it, it may go someplace. Who knows?