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!