Friday, 31 October 2008

[NZ] Midnight release

EB Games in Lynn Mall (and I assume elsewhere in NZ) are doing a midnight release for WotLK. Although if you haven't pre-ordered you're out of luck, since they've sold out. And they sold out of Collector's Edition copies ages ago (I know this because I went there at around 2pm on the day the CE came out for pre-orders, only to hear "sorry, we just got an email saying we've reached our quota").
There is a very very small chance I will be getting my copy at midnight, although I've got to turn up to work the next day. Either way there won't be a meet and greet like some other bloggers are having, mostly because if you read this and live in Auckland you already know me.

And apparently Gamesman New Lynn is also doing a midnight release.

Since none of this is really content, I'd like to share the following pxt with you:

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Random coincidences

A long time ago when Ephylia (my paladin) was 37 or so, she went to Razorfen Downs with a group and Amnennar the Coldbringer dropped a plate helm which both she and the warrior rolled Need on. And so did the Enhancement shaman. And yes, the shaman won, and yes, I was slightly pissed off, and apparently the shaman thought it was mail. One of those "I hate pugs" stories.

Anyway, once 3.0.2 hit a few weeks ago, Ephylia, now 42, came out of cryogenic sleep and turned to the Ret side. And after having a lot of fun aoe grinding stuff in Dustwallow Marsh, I decided to see if I could solo RFD. Funnily enough a guildmate of mine, the enhancement shaman Mok, was doing RFD (probably for the achievement) and after I solod the first few pulls he offered to run me through. While I could solo the first few groups, the caster heavy ones were tricky so I welcomed the offer (although it turns out that the new, improved Consecration kills groups faster than a 68 enhancement shaman). And anyway, Amnennar dropped the Icemetal Barbute which Ephylia has been wearing ever since.

So, the enhancement shaman giveth, and the enhancement shaman taketh away. And the guildie cleans up the pugs mess (I'm pretty sure it wasn't Mok who needed plate all those months ago, but I was also sure that EDTA removes confluent cells from the bottom of a petri dish - turns out trypsin dettaches the cells and EDTA prevents them sticking to each other).

I'm still hesitant about trusting pugs though. Once bitten, twice shy.

Damn but I hate clich├ęs, using them is like taking candy from a baby (noisy and rather embarrassing when the mother turns up to see what all the fuss is about).

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

I Miss WoW

So, two days of cold turkey, and gods do I miss it.
I haven't actually done all that much study/work: I tidied some of the stuff on my desk (i.e. moved a bit of the mess onto the floor), I did an hour or two of research for my essay, played a couple of Flash games (so sad), and printed off some notes and old exam papers.

Am currently feeling really tired and listless, am unlikely to do any meaningfully productive study today and would like nothing better than to mindlessly mash buttons while working my way through the undead of WPL before the Great Ret Nerfbat hits.

I just know that if I start playing again I'll self-rationalise to the point of convincing myself that I can study for all my papers in the hours of busride before the exam and that that will be sufficient. Since past experience has shown that this only works for stage 1 and 2 papers (and some stage 3 maths), and generally requires some semblance of lecture attendance (which has been sadly lacking on my part for Medsci 314 this semester) I'm just going to wallow in WoW-withdrawal and hope that I eventually get around to studying.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

So long, no thanks for all the puns

I've decided to take a break from WoW, on the grounds of temporary sanity. My final exams are about a week from now, and since I've so far failed 3 out of the 4 stage 3 bio papers I've done (it's ostentatiously one of my majors), I think it's time I got my a-into-g and did something other than level my paladin and attempt to get the stupid squashling. So the next 2.5 weeks are going to be dedicated very heavily to studying for my exams, and therefore I've decided that a blanket ban on playing World of Warcraft is in order (I'll still read stuff and try to keep moderately up to date with what's happening, e.g. the zombie plague, and hope BRK still does a podcast this week).

Final thoughts on 3.0.2:
The patch is nuts, almost every class and spec feels pretty OP. The last couple of days have seen: me 2-manning the headless horseman, a ret tank do 1.4k dps and still be easy to heal, Selin Fireheart's room cleared in a single pull, Vexallus being 4-manned with a ferocity pet tanking, and also a wipe-less pug'd clear of Kara in a few hours (with quite a few people not having done it before; somehow the hunter managed to not move during Flame Wreath on Shade). And none of these are particularly noteworthy achievements.

The real changes are things like the absolute insanity that is a retribution paladin in both pvp and pve, and the crazy aoe goodness of prot warriors, balance (and resto) druids and hunters of all persuasions. Last week saw Quantum Butterflies clear, for the first time, ZA and also do Kara in 3 hours, while Kryptik (a guild a number of ex-Butterflies defected to for 25-man... whatever it is that 25 men do when they get together for 4 hours at night) downed Lady Vashj, and Ajantis, the premier raiding guild on Aman'Thul, finally downed Kil'Jaeden.

Ultimately 3.0.2 changed a lot of things (no ****), and has totally altered the status quo, balance of power, etc. I approve of a lot of the changes (although what's with Steady Shot not scaling with haste?) and it has definitely made the last two weeks a joy to play, and heralds well for what Wrath will bring.

On that note, a few things I'm looking forward to in Wrath of the Lich King:
- craftable PvP gear (yesplz, make money from leatherworking, kkthx)
- Rhino pets
- what looks to be really nice level of interaction with the overall plot (that Undercity questline looks totally jawesome) - I've always been a bit of a lore-junkie, and, damnit, I should've raided more
- Warcraft 3 Human mission 7: The Culling, aka Stratholme in the Caverns of Time
- 10 man raids all the way up to Icecrown Glacier
- being able to do arena pretty much from the start (as opposed to starting halfway through season 3 on one character, and early in season 4 on the other)
- death knight questlines

Anyway, my last exam is on the 12th of November, giving me all of a day before Wrath hits stores here (I'm hoping my computer can actually run it).

Regrets now that I've finished playing TBC:
- not actually downing a 25-man boss (closest I got was a wipe on Gruul at 1%)
- not trying to kill a Fel Reaver since the patch
- not making it to a 1600 rating in any arena team
- not getting The Hallowed title (Darksentinel has the helm, but not the squashling and Beathooven has neither)
- not getting my paladin to 70 before Judgements of the Wise is nerfed to 15% of base mana (from 33%)
- not getting a Netherdrake
- not replacing Darksentinel's Cloak and Rings (who wants to wear blues going into Northrend)
- not ever entering Mount Hyjal
- knowing that my last activity was logging in this morning to collect a Flimsy Male Gnome [Mask] and Penny Pouch
- various other things that will come to me as I'm trying to remember the factors that lead to variation in antibody recognition sites

So yeah, from now on out I'm going to study and find out what it's like to get 8 hours of sleep a night (as opposed to last night, where I went to sleep around 2 and got woken up just after 6am by my friends' kids). Wish me luck in Project Study (I really don't want to do a 5th year of u-grad) and I'll see you all when Wrath is nigh (although I have some scheduled posts that will appear over the next two weeks).




PS: bets are up for how long it will be before I'll start wishing I was playing WoW. My personal bet is on about 8 o'clock tomorrow morning

PPS: I kind of didn't mention anything to my guild so now I'm awol. Oh well, they can check their feeds, and if they don't read this then that's their own fault, right? Anyway, half of them (you) have exams of your own to study for, so stop reading this (to the other half: either get back to work, or find a job).

Thursday, 23 October 2008

All Quiet on the Madness Front

Yeah, I've been a bit slack on the posting front. I've had a couple of tests and essays to do, which have kept me kind of busy.
I have now finished my lectures at undergraduate level (I hope!), and am currently in the very narrow breathing space between the end of lectures, and the start of exams (I believe this space is meant to be devoted to what some call "study"). Having had a less-than-stellar academic record since taking up my alternative life in Azeroth, I do feel that I should focus a bit now, so over the next three weeks WoW will be droppng a bit on the priority list.

That being said, let's take a look at what I've done since 3.0.2, and include a few thoughts:

- hunters are a lot of fun, as BBB will tell you (seems to have been converted to eing a druid/hunter, which led to an interesting incident with BRK). New pets are totally, udderly awesome. Gorilla aoe grinding (using Thunderstomp and Volley, aka Gorilladin grinding) is bucketloads of fun (and a good source of leather) and should be better now that Smack and Cower no longer turn themselves on. I've created the following macros to aid my mass-slaughter of wildlife in Black Morass and Nagrand:
Macro 1: Turns Thunderstomp off autocast and allows you to gather mobs, target each mob and press it to make Gorilladin tag it
/petautocastoff Thunderstomp

Macro 2: Use this once you're ready to start blowing stuff up, may need to press it twice to get Mend Pet to work
/cast [combat] Kill Command
/cast [combat] Bestial Wrath
/cast [combat] Thunderstomp
/petautocaston [combat] Thunderstomp

/cast Mend Pet

Then just Volley everything to death.

- is it just me or do Boars kind of suck now? For a special skill, Gore doesn't seem that awesome, especially compared to the focus-dump Bite which all pets get anyway (or an equivalent thereof)

- arena as BM is very cool. I ditched my Core Hound for a level 67 spider (shock! horror! although there are far too many Core Hounds running around at the moment anyway; no love for Spore Bats? And why no Worms, they're exotic too). A 4 second web on a 28 second cooldown is very nice for keeping people in the right place for Bestial Wrath to rip them up. Teaming up with my old partner Meellow facilitated the gibbing (with extreme prejudice) of various enhancement shamans and the like, and with the new addition Octavio (Stupidcow's retadin) I had the entertaining experience of blowing up a warrior who had ventured up one ramp on our side of Blade's Edge arena before his druid partner got a good view of what was happening. No more lengthy irritating drain games for me!
I will say though, that the white Core Hound is still the coolest looking pet in the game, imo.

- although title-ratings were locked prior to the release of 3.0.2, it was stated by Blizzard that we could continue to acrue arena points right up until the release of Wrath of the Lich King in November. Yet I have received no points for activity this week; possibly they were lost in the various server FAIL! of the last week

- "The Hallowed" is an awesome title, and my druid has avidly been trick or treating all over the world in order to obtain it, but neither the Squashling nor the Helm have made their way into his hands. I do hope he can get them, since "Beathooven Jenkins" is just not the same

- on that note, I'm pretty indifferent to the new Achievement system, since I've done stuff like Trophies and similar in a number of MMO games. The titles are pretty nifty though, although I think the Loremaster will take too much work to be worth it (e.g. another 300 Eastern Kingdoms quests on my hunter), although I may try for it at 80. At the moment the Achievements just seem like a way to keep people spending more time on WoW. But that's what we do, right?

- I'm currently leveling my mage and paladin, both are now at 46 (edit: paladin now 47). Flamedancer has swapped elements from Fire to Frost, and is enjoying her frequent 950 damage Frostbolt crits (although her crit rate against Frozen targets is a lot less than what Shatter should be producing). Ephylia has decided that the incredibly powerful Judgements of the Wise, together with the rather awesomely-named The Art of War make Retribution a much better specialisation than her previous Protection training, and with the buffed Consecration (and ridiculous mana efficiency) she can still down 3-5 opponents insanely quickly

PS: kinda only just sunk in that I'm done with lectures for my degree O.o
PPS: Purple Death is one of the oddest drinks I know of. A fortified wine, it is brewed exclusively in West Auckland and tastes a lot like grape-flavoured bubble gum disolved in cough syrup. Thankfully the bottle, which we've had for about a year now, is finally empty.

Friday, 17 October 2008

[Guide] Getting Your White Core Hound

White Core Hound? Want it? YES YOU DO!

BigRedKitty calls it the "Puppy Dog of Doom". I call it the only Core Hound that actually looks like a beast (the others look like some sort of demon, and we're definitely not warlocks).

Ok, so a couple of questions have been asked as to how you get it. So here's a guide.

Your target: The Kurken, a level 12 Core Hound on Azuremyst Isle. Wowhead. Petopia. NOTE: It's an EXOTIC pet, so you'll need the 51 pt BM talent (Beast Mastery)to tame it.
Here's a map:

Azuremyst Isle: Now Even More Exotic!

Details: the target lives in a cave (Stillpine Hold) with some deranged Owlkin. It's the object of a quest, so be nice to any level 10-12 draenei running around.Now if you're Alliance, that's all you need to know. Go get it, or go find a real challenge.

If you're Horde things get a bit more tricky.

Firstly, Azuremyst Isle is hostile territory. And there's no direct transport.

On the plus side, you need to be at least 60 to tame the thing in the first place, so at least you won't have a hard time getting there, it will just take a while.

Before you go: STABLE YOUR CURRENT PET, or prepare to abandon it.

How to get there (Horde):
The route is Ashenvale -> Darkshore -> Azuremyst Isle.
More specifically, you need to get to Darkshore, and then head to the Auberdine Docks (it's an Alliance town, and not a problem for a 60+).

Darkshore: Alliance territory

The best way to get to Darkshore is to fly to Zoram'Gar in Ashenvale (from Orgrimar), head a bit east to the road and take it north (the road on the western side of Ashenvale, not the one to Felwood), Splintertree Post also works.

Ashenvale, Horde Flight Paths shown with a *

If you don't have the Zoram'Gar FP or Splintertree Post, head north from the Barrens through the Mor'Shan Rampart and into Ashenvale. And pick up the FP while you're at it. If you don't know where the Barrens are, look up Chuck Norris, or go roll Alliance (although if you don't know where the Barrens are, you won't get the Chuck Norris reference either).

For the Horde: Showing Route from Orgrimar

Ok, you've made it to Auberdine. You're at the docks (which can be found if you ride through the inn). You can't read the signpost that points to Azuremyst Isle (because Orcs can't read), so let's make sure you get on the right boat: the left pier goes to Stormwind, which is some Alliance village or something; the right one goes to Teldrassil, some other Alliance hovel; the middle one goes to Azuremyst Isle, which is still infested with Alliance, but also has one of the coolest pets in the game on it.
Directions: The Blue Thingie is You, the Black Cross is the Docks. Paint Rocks.

Take the boat. Wait for it to cross the water. Get off the boat. Check out that Wowhead map linked above. You're at the docks south of the Exodar. Head north along the road (western side of the isle), but go around the Exodar (hint: the guards are now level 75, I found this out the hard way when I thought I could take a shortcut through).
Keep an eye out for a bunch of hills on your right, if you've reached the bridge to Bloodmyst Isle, it's a bridge too far. Stillpine Hold shouldn't be too hard to find if you keep an eye on your map. The cave entrance is from the south.
Don't kill any Draenei if you're on a PVP server, let them grow into worthy foes. Feel free to kill any gnomes you see.
Enter the cave (Stillpine Hold). Your target is at the back of the cave, by a lake. As you go in, there's a little path on the left that dips down and takes you straight there, but if you miss it you'll get there eventually. Tame it. Hearth out and stomp around Shattrath, or go raid the Exodar.

Now if you want to be manly (or womanly) and you need a MC one, check out It's Gotta Be Orange! on It's an excellent guide.

Personally I really like my white Core Hound. It looks awesome.

Now /shoo and get taming!

EDIT: now with pictures for the illiterate.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Soooo 3.0.2 - initial thoughts

Well, we finally got in.
And now the whole Bloodlust battlegroup is down for 2 hours for "emergency maintenance".
My thoughts so far? A bit chaotic, but overall awesome.

First of all, I respeced Darksentinel to 51/10/0 Beast Mastery. Then I went to go get me a white Core Hound (got to give my thanks here to Mania's update of petopia, I kinda forgot). On the way I managed to find one of those cool Ghost Sabers in Darkshore (wasn't going to keep her though):And then it was on to Azuremyst Isle. Where I got killed by the guards, because I didn't realise that they're all 75, so I tried to ride straight past the Exodar. While I was doing, that orc hunter I know was flying to Un'goro (people, if you want a Devilsaur and you're Revered or higher with Keepers of Time, take the portal to the Caverns of Time, it's slightly faster than flying from TB or Org, or however else Alliance gets there). Anyway, I found the Kurken, and I now have a white Core Hound:
A brief trip to Warsong Gulch yielded 3 achievements (including Saves the Day), plus a daily I forgot I had. I also found out that ret pallies are pretty nasty at 70.

After this it was time to respec Beathooven to balance and test out the new spell power-based damage on all my healing gear. And yes, it's really nice having 800+ spell power. Although a couple of duels later I decided it really was much more fun kiting people with Core Hounds.

So it was back to Durotar on the avenging Beast Master, really putting Beast Mastery with Bestial Wrath's 1.4 minute cooldown through it's paces. It's awesome. Out of around 20 duels I lost 2, 1 to a well-geared rogue (Dismantle is nuts) and one to a warlock who kited me around the giant rib cage sticking out of the ground by the entrance to Orgrimar. Core hound really messes up Elemental Shamans with Lava Breath. Given the number of ret paladins performing way above their gear level (and never running low on mana), I decided it was time to try another pet: the chimaera. And after a trip to Winterspring (on the way I grabbed an Owl, but then released it again) I ended up with a 2-headed drake with Froststorm Breath. Now the damage on Froststorm Breath is only a few hundred, but the debuff is insane. Combined with Wing Clip, Frost Trap, and Concussive Shot I kited around T5/T6/S3 rogues/feral druids/warriors/enhancement shamans and ret paladins as much as I wanted, especially combined with trinket+Bestial Wrath. In duels at least (not arena), Beast Mastery hunters are extremely hard to beat.

After eating a couple of mages and enjoying a server restart, I decided to try the ret paladin for myself. My ret paladin is level 41, and for the first 10 minutes I tried to get my head around the new system of Hands, Seals and Judgements. And after that things went a bit nuts (once I'd gone back to Org to train a few things that had been changed). I experimented in Dustwallow Marsh, with mobs ranging from 37-39, so there wasn't a lot of challenge 1v1. But after rounding up 6 of the Theramore Deserters, killing them extremely quickly with Consecrate and ending up with both 90% health and mana, I realised that even while levelling, retribution is pretty OP. At one point I went afk for 5 minutes and came back to find I'd been attacked, and there was a corpse next to me waiting to be looted O.o. I was going to test AOE grinding on the murlocs, but decided there was something else I needed to do first.

My rogue alt had a massive supply of herbs to sell, and by this time Kingsblood was selling for 40g/stack. Long story short, within an hour I had amassed 280 gold and cleared some bag space. Also, auctions that have sold but not yet been paid for are now listed on the auction house interface. The point here being, if you have herbs, sell them, if you want to level inscription and don't have a supply, be prepared to fork out quite a bit of gold or go hunting yourself.

And by the time I'd tested both Fire and Frost specs on my mage, it was time for the servers to come down again. Both these specs seem a bit better than before, and some of my +[school]-only damage items have been changed to raw spellpower, making it easy to switch between specs.

Short form summary:
- chaos
- some stuff hard to find, including marks of honour
- achievement system has some really cool stuff, but not enough retroactive achievements
- ret paladins are nuts (especially compared to before)
- BM hunters are nuts (although they were pretty sweet before)
- rogues are nuts (and always were)
- basically everything is nuts, except holy paladins and fury warriors (lol, Titan's Gimp)
- lots of nice changes, but will take a while to get used to
- addons sort of work (not completely) and are showing a lot of error messages, but I'm too lazy to update them
- servers are still down

And here's a picture of Stormwind Harbour, taken on the Proudmoore server while Aman'Thul was down:

And We're In.... Sort of

Me again.
Inside your RSS reader, clogging it up.

And yes, new patch downloaded, and installed.
New login screen (win, /tickle [target=frostwyrm]).
New music (hey it's really cool, a lot better than the BC theme, possibly even better than Legends from WOW classic).

And... Aman'Thul not up. Only Oceanic realm up is Frostmourne.
US realms coming up one at a time though.

So I'm just sitting here listening to the music.

*twiddles thumbs*

Anyway, hopefully next time I'll have some sort of content-based post for y'all.

EDIT: 9:50 am (NZDT) and Stonemaul is up (level 7 rogue) and Nagrand (level 9 shaman), but I don't think the patch affects them much.
In the meantime: new hairstyles!
And about 6 realms just went down again, gutting to those who made it through.

EDIT: 10:17 am, Aman'Thul and The Forgotten Coast are still down. Completed my first achievement ever (Darksentinel @ Nagrand is now a level 10 shaman /moo).

Out Of Space*

So apprently the patch requires 6.5GB of space to install (I had 4.7 free). What it's doing with that space, I have no clue (6.5GB is a lot, it's more than half what WoW takes up at the moment).
So it was goodbye to the Diablo 2 (1.88GB) and Starcraft (1.2GB) directories.

No idea what I'll be deleting for WOTLK, Windows maybe.

*This post is dedicated to Out Of Mana.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What can we expect tomorrow?

So servers have gone down tonight, presumably so that 3.0.2 can come out.
Earlier I had the following conversation with Toresh of Hunt This (edited slightly for relevance):

(02:24:03 PM) Toresh: i know what will be happening tomoorw though. in trade"where did my mounts go. and /w me "where u get that pet from"
(02:25:04 PM)
darksentinel: lolk
(02:25:22 PM)
darksentinel: and also "where's skill [x], it disappeared from my bar"
(02:25:40 PM)
darksentinel: "/r your talents got reset"
(02:26:10 PM)
Toresh: not going to be a good day at all :D
(02:27:21 PM)
darksentinel: bah
(02:27:24 PM)
darksentinel: /leave trade
(02:27:28 PM)
darksentinel: /leave general
(02:27:31 PM)
Toresh: good plan
(02:27:32 PM)
darksentinel: /gquit :P
(02:27:38 PM) Toresh: lol

Some things we might expect post-3.0.2:
People asking where their mounts went (hint: spellbook tabs).
People asking where talented spells went (hint: assign talent points).
People leveling inscription like mad (hint: sell herbs).
People running around with devilsaurs, corehounds and all things awesome (hint: get your own BM hunter).
Hunters running around taming everything. Un'goro will be full, and MC will see more activity than it has for ages.
Hunters trying to solo stuff, 'cos you know, they're kinda broken in pve post-patch.
Hunter pets with no talents.
Players with no talents.
Me bitching about not getting an arena title.
Really busy trade channels.
Broken add-ons.

What might we not see:
Holy paladins.
Survival hunters.
People who left WoW for Warhammer Online (not really relevant to the patch, but something I talked about today).
Marshal Windsor in Stormwind City.
Various other things we'll suddenly miss.
The alts of all the people playing hunters.

Anyway, good night for now, will post something tomorrow (don't expect much, I'll be too busy playing my hunter and ret paladin).

[Arena]: A Lesson in Humility

Patch 3.0.2 comes out tomorrow, no surprise.
And arena Season 4 ends at the same time (before the patch turns everything on it's head).

We figured 1600 rating would cut it for a Challenger title, based on Arena Junkies' arena title calculator. Going into this week, our 2v2 was at 1543, and our 3v3 at 1503, so we should've had a decent chance. The key word being should.

We ended up getting facerolled by teams on much lower rating.
We fought a lot of people with S4 gear, especially helms (which require 1700 rating).

Stupidcow and I ended on 1472, after a lot of very hard matches against teams a lot better geared.

Damah, Stupidcow and I ended on 1398 after an hour of pain and suffering. We got to 1546 after a few easy games then plummeted insanely quickly, losing 17-19 points a match. We played almost every pvp-viable class and spec tonight, at a variety of ratings and still got owned (no warriors or boomkin, oddly enough). These were seriously good teams, with extremely well-coordinated cc and very good gear.

Stupid reroll teams getting friends titles.

Highlights of Season 4:
- 2v2 with Damah (elemental shaman) on my resto druid, teams would run around looking for the rogue (can't they see thorns and MotW?)
- any arena with Damah, people seem to assume he's resto
- actually killing things as a Beast Mastery hunter
- after a day of losing to teams in half S4, fighting an Arms warrior wielding Terrok's Quill
- reaching 1560 rating (max peak of our 2v2) while wearing more blues than PvP items
- kiting hunters and frost mages around pillars as a resto druid
- fighting prot paladins ("dude, he just threw his shield at me") and warriors with shields (fought a long game once, where I was hit by my own Entangling Roots three times, gogo Spell Reflection)

Lowlights of Season 4:
- fighting all the rerolled teams messing with our 1500-ish bracket (seriously, S4 helms, wtf?)
- ret paladins with windfury totem
- watching your elemental shaman 2v2 partner run out of mana - you can keep them alive for ages, but you can't kill anything
- rogues
- being kited while playing a hunter
- having pet killed by enhancement shamans
- playing a hunter in general
- watching your warlock partner trying to kill a scorpid so you can drink
- playing warlock/druid against resto shamans and anything else - they have so much mana regen
- binding Abolish Poison to the F4 button

GG and bring on Season 5!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Ode to Lifebloom

Well, as mentioned all over the place, it's not long until 3.0.2 hits us (all 1.17GB of it).
I’d like to remember the 2.x.x patches with a dedication to one of my favourite spells of The Burning Crusade. It’s slightly shorter than originally intended, but I found I was repeating myself after a while. For reference, the old LB, and the new one.

You’re awesome

When I get feared
And the tank’s about to die
Your bloom’s right there
Keeping them alive

Outheal a mage’s burst
And a warlock’s DoTs
Hunters do your worst
Cos I’ve got HoTs

You’re awesome

You make me a four-tank healing tree
And OP me in PvP
Seven seconds of health regen
Then a bloom so we’re good to go again

Keep my team alive
While I pillar kite
Heal them while I drink
Out of line-of-sight

You’re awesome

My life comes back
With every tick
Dispel my buffs
At your own risk

Totally OOM but I can heal
With the epitome of efficiency
220 mana, is that for real?
Keep healing for all eternity

You’re awesome

There, wasn't that cheesy.
Now back to this essay...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

What will I be doing once 3.0.2 hits?

Around 2 days to go until the servers go down in preparation for 3.0.2 (assuming things happen as normal).

Here's what I'll probably be trying on Wednesday and over the subsequent week or so (until my exams come up) - not necessarily stuff you should do, but you could consider some things:
  • hunter:
    • buy 2 stable slots run around and tame everything in sight. Including, but not limited to:
      • gorilla
      • Winterspring chimaera
      • core hound (probably get the SMV version, and then try for MC skin if it proves worthwhile)
      • devilsaur
      • one of those cats from Darkshore
      • a new owl (I kinda miss Orly)

    • try to solo some stuff:
      • Fel reaver
      • Gutripper (gave me problems at 67)
      • target dummy
      • slave pens
      • first room of shadow labyrinth

    • mess around in PvP with Aimed Shot and Readiness

  • paladin:
    • spec ret and have fun

  • druid:
    • bitterly regret not getting the Challenger title

  • sell herbs to people leveling Inscription (yay, profit)

  • QQ about:
    • lifebloom
    • holy paladins
    • people in S4 helms (requiring 1700 rating) playing in teams at 1500

EDIT: tried to fix the formating, but it hates me.

[WOTLK Spoiler] So, like, whoah

Was busily procrastinating, when I came across this [mega SPOILER warning]:


That's pretty ****ing epic.

Part of a really awesome questline, and explains a lot of stuff about the Forsaken.

The full questline, courtesy of BlizzPlanet can be found here [more spoilers]:
Alliance version
Horde version
And they're... (author has run out of superlatives, will now resort to 'cool') really frickin gob-smackingly... cool

All I can say (apart from "wow") is that now I'm really looking forward to Wrath, and DKs.

A brief look at the crafted PvP blues in WOTLK

BRK recently made a post displaying his awesome new blue PvP gear, which has replaced a large chunk of his 70 epics (although he still has his 2-piece Tier-5 bonus, /jealous).

Listed below are the item sets, plus the stats specific to each set (resilience and stamina are ubiquitous):
NB: set name links to the set on wowhead, the helms are linked for mouseover goodness and comparisons.
Eviscerator's Leather (agi, crit, AP) - Rogues, Feral Druids (Eviscerator's Facemask)

Overcast Leather (int, spirit, spellpower) - Resto/Balance Druids (Overcast Headguard)

Stormhide Mail (int, stam, MP5, spellpower) - Resto/Elemental Shamans (Stormhide Crown)

Swiftarrow Mail (agi, int, crit, AP) - Hunters, Enhancement Shamans (Swiftarrow Helm)

Frostsavage Cloth (crit, int, spellpower) - All clothies (note that wowhead lists this set as requiring level 80, while the others require 78) (Frostsavage Cowl)

Ornate Saronite Plate (spellpower, MP5) - Holy Paladins (Ornate Saronite Skullshield)

Savage Saronite Plate (str, crit) - Warriors, Retribution Paladins (Savage Saronite Skullshield)

Since they're made through tailoring/leatherworking/blacksmithing, these items seem really accessible, requiring basic ingredients for each (frostweave cloth, borean leather, or saronite bars respectively) plus one eternal (apparently the new motes). Since the items are BOE they'll really boost profit margins from crafting professions and also provide solid entry-level gear for 80 PvP (and probably represent a few PvE upgrades during questing).

Sadly the gear seems extremely streamlined. While Moonkin now benefit from spirit, I'm not sure that DoT-based Warlocks scale all that well with crit, and there's probably other sub-par itemisation offered by the new gear for other classes/specs I'm less familiar with.

One thing you might notice is the complete lack of sockets on this gear, and the complete lack of hit rating. While the lack of hit on shared healer/dps gear makes sense, not being able to socket for it will mean quite a few resists/misses especially given things like the nerf to the Hunter talent Surefooted (from the BC Surefooted).

Overall though, I very much approve of these items, and will probably be leveling the hunter for the Leatherworking love.

Also, turns out Ghostcrawler is male, and I have no idea why the forums kept refering to him as a "she". Lots of blogs did it too. Man, my world just got turned upside down. That being said, does it really matter?

Thursday, 9 October 2008

One Bored Tauren Druid, One Willing Blood Elven Priestess, and Four Servings of Noggenfogger Elixir

My laptop is back (new mainboard), so now I can profusely spout meaningless statements all over the interwebs.

I like the odd session of RP on our non-RP PvE server. So the other day, after several hours of moderate success in defending the Alterac Mountains from Stormpike incursions (no dwarves shall pillage the treasures of the Frostwolf lands while my leaves remain capable of photosynthesis and restoration), I let myself be ...distracted... by a rather delightful Blood Elven Priestess in the city of Shattrath. Owing to a slight difference in physique (it would appear that the noble Tauren race are rather larger than the delicate, exquisite and refined Sin'Dorei), I imbibed multiple doses of Noggenfogger Elixir (the first three had... undesirable results).
Hence there ensued a plethora of shapeshifting, /emoting, /dancing and other good-natured family-friendly fun, lasting around 10 minutes (by which time the magical juice wore off). No pictures though. /moo.

What did you expect?

And for the record, I'm thinking of this spec for 80 druid PvP. Pewpew. Battle chicken. With the spell power changes it should allow reasonable heals, decent dps and the awesome cc potential that make druids so awesome in BC.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Udder-Madness on arena

If you haven't read WoW Insider's take on PvP (now and in Wrath), go do it now (thanks Toresh for the link, I don't have the time anymore to keep up with all the WoW Insider stuff).
While you're at it, take a look at what Kalgan writes about Blizzard's philosophy of PvP (also linked to from the WoW Insider article).

So I thought I’d write my own thoughts on PvP the way it is at the moment, and the changes Wrath will make to the arena setting.

First, those changes the way I understand them:
-There will be a set of PvP blues that will be obtainable through crafting.
-There will be a set of Arena epics (requiring no rating) that will be obtainable for arena points: the Savage gear (I suppose similar to Season 3 gear available in Season 4, barring Shoulders and Weapons)
-There will be a full set of gear that requires rating from between 1665 and 1850 rating (I think): Hateful gear
-There will be honor-obtainable gear for Bracers, Belt and Boots, Necklace and Rings, set a bit higher than the craftable blues
-There will be a plague of locusts o’er the land (brought by those silly Death Kniggets)

Secondly I want to state where I’m coming from. My hunter (Darksentinel) started arena maybe around 10 weeks in to Season 3, with a resto druid partner (Meellow) and both of us in mostly non-heroic instance blues, needless to say we got steamrolled. But we had a lot of fun, and after dipping as low as 1280 we climbed back up to the mid-1300s and I earned my Waraxe []. We’d pretty much found our niche, hanging with a bunch of other misfits like us (and the occasional Season 3 geared team that really sucked), but not near the bottom. During this period we also started Drunken Hobbits, a 3v3 team with Stupidcow, Damah and Arkanon (3 other guildies with PvP inclinations), but didn’t play regularly due to timetable issues.
Season 4 came out and we upgraded our gear to the reputation blues (so sad), and then hung around just under the 1400 mark. Now Darksentinel is in a mix of Season 1 – Season 3 gear (probably S2 on average) and we’re somewhere between 1400 and 1450.
Towards the end of Season 3 I started levelling my Druid (Beathooven) more seriously, with the aim of seeing how broken restoration actually is at 70 (quite broken, actually), and I hit 70 in the first week of September (well into Season 4). That same week I started Multiboxing, a 2v2 team with Damah (elemental shaman), to start earning points. A few weeks later, Stupidcow (SL/SL Warlock) joined Multiboxing and we’re currently pushing for a title (any title) that we can bear into Northrend with pride – hopefully we’ll make 1600, although for the last 2 weeks we’ve been pretty stable just over 1500. But just having broken the 1500 mark felt like an awesome achievement, since most of the teams had far more experience and significantly better gear (for reference, my druid currently has: Engineering epic goggles, Scryer SSO necklace, S2 shoulders, reputation chestpiece, Karazhan cloth bracers, S2 Mace, questing blue offhand, S3 gloves, S4 belt, reputation legs, Heavy Clefthoof Boots, S2 ring, blue quest ring, PvP blue trinket, Goblin Rocket Launcher – i.e. really crap gear), and I’m kind of being carried by Stupidcow (who is one of the best gamers I’ve had the honour of knowing).

Thirdly: a lot of work seems to be based on balancing PvP against PvE. I’d hesitate to say it can’t be done, but Blizzard keeps trying, and players keep QQing about their perceived discrepancies. While the arguments range both ways from “good PvE gear just involves joining an experienced raid group and taking stuff no one wants” to “damn PvP welfare epics”. My druid has been in both situations: a week after turning 70, I healed a part of lower Kara and Maiden dropped her mace, which should have been a significant upgrade over anything else I would normally have had at that point, except I already had the S2 mace.

The actual point I want to make here is rather simple: I want to gauge myself against other players within the system that Blizzard has set up. I like working hard to earn rewards (which I haven’t yet, and probably won’t), and the rating requirements mean that I have something to strive to. I like the challenge, the intense competition and the satisfaction of slowly increasing my rating through playing well. I find that the gear takes slightly too long to earn (15300 honor takes me about 10 hours to farm all up through AV, more if it requires marks from a battleground Horde don’t win very often (e.g. AB, which often takes 20-30 minutes for a single mark).

Some of my other views on Kalgan's post: the craftable gear idea is awesome. Easily obtainable Savage gear is also nice. And I don’t have a problem with the way Hateful gear is obtained: I like arena. A few people complain that Blizzard are pushing arena too hard, and that they feel forced to do arena in order to get the good gear. This may be the case, but personally, I don’t like raiding and if I so much as want to experience the end-game content in MH, BT and SWP (and being a deep fan of WoW lore I kinda do want to) I first have to spend a lot of time in T4 and T5 instances, working with a guild and forcing my cramped timetable to fit their raiding schedule – it’s the price you have to pay, at least if you want to, you can experience arena at any time.

WOTLK Arena:
So, what class will I play in Season 5 arena? Not sure. Here follow my personal opinions on the different options:
Death Knights: unknown how strong they will be, but definitely an option. Since I haven’t played beta or PTR I don’t really understand their relative power and mechanics enough to comment, but I suspect they’ll be good, if somewhat overplayed.
Druids: given the Lifebloom nerf (and other efficiency decreases), restoration won’t be the powerhouse it was in TBC, even with armoured Treeform, but will still be an incredibly versatile healer with a lot of cc potential. Feral I’ve never been entirely comfortable with from a PvP viewpoint (not enough cc, no drain, not enough burst). Balance is a viable option, but will need to see how it works out, since gear can be a bit finicky.
Hunters: although Wrath has given hunters an almost-ridiculous amount of love, I’m not sure whether I’ll try to push arena seriously with Darksentinel (even though I consider them to be the best drain class with a scorpid pet, especially with new instant cast Aimed Shot). There are 2 main reasons for this: hunters are still incredibly weak at melee range (Disengage notwithstanding) and Crippling Poison+Shadowstep/Hamstring+Intercept combined with my New Zealand lag make some classes a nightmare to play against, and additionally hunters are really easy to LoS. And while I think I play a decent druid, I don’t play a hunter nearly as well as I could.
Mages: I’m not really a fan of mages in arena, although that’s probably because as a resto druid with a warlock partner they don’t offer a lot of challenge (shift out of Shatter combo, LoS+heal and wait for DoTs to finish the job), and don’t really see the appeal. Although, given the decreased mana costs in Wrath they may become more attractive.
Paladins: Stupidcow and I are seriously considering Retribution paladins. They seem to have massive burst, decent survivability and efficiency. We may even run Ret/Ret. From what I’ve heard though, Holy paladins need some serious work before they become viable for anything at all.
Priests: not sure. Discipline/Holy will probably still be nuts, and hopefully Shadow will be both more mana efficient and have more burst.
Rogues: ah the infamous OP class. Seems like they’re even more OP. I might decide to roll a rogue, but doesn’t really seem to suit my playstyle.
Shamans: I love Shamans, all 3 specs. And while resto and elemental may seem more suited to 5s, they should be pretty viable for smaller brackets too, especially with the buffs Enhancement is getting in the patch.
Warlocks: I’ve always found warlocks scary in PvP (at least since hitting 70, before then my BM hunter would eat them with gusto), although more so as a non-BM hunter than as a resto druid, and I suspect that Demonology-heavy locks will be quite nuts in Wrath even if I haven’t heard the verdict on Demonform.
Warriors: yawn. They may be good, but they don’t appeal to me. They’re just too boring in the way they play.

Anyway, I has assignments to do, and rating points to earn. There’ll probably be more PvP commentary from me next week.

EDIT: hopefully fixed some formatting issues.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Gnothing Butt Madness

EDIT: complete and utter fail on my part.
A recent post on Out of Mana:

I am NOT Mania! I don't even know who Mania is. A maniac, maybe. Mania, definitely not.

A link back to me revealed that the blogger of Udder Madness thought the most recent Gnaked Gnome Race was hosted by BRK and Mania. BIGFROWNIEFACE.

Yep. Complete and udder phail. Zis vut happen when no sleep enuf, aye.

Today was BRK and MEGAN's Gnaked Gnome Race (foshizzle), on Drenden, US.
I took part, missed the tram from IF to SWC and then died about 8 times in STV, twice in Westfall and once in Darkshore. Eventually I made it to Orgrimar.
I took my camera.

Having a penchant for dancing on banks as a naked gnome, I had to try.
This tauren druid tried to play too, but was a bit rough.

So I had to dance by myself. :( (look at that hair!)

Until this hand of A'dal came along and joined the party!

And a bunch of us made it to Thrall.

Anyway, lots of fun. I advocate an Udder Madness version of this. Cows raiding Ironforge (via the zeppelin to Grom'gol or Undercity.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Apparently if I used a logical posting system, life would be easier

But who wants an easy life?

/begin preamble [EDIT: can't spell "begin" /facepalm [target=player] ]
Anyway. Without a laptop I find I'm falling behind on a bunch of stuff, like reading blogs, writing posts et cetera. I keep meaning to, but generally I find that the places I'm most likely to write well (or rather, lots) are:
- late at night, possibly in bed
- in lectures
- whenever I should be doing assignments/essays/most other duties
On the plus side, the laptop got sent back to ASUS (apparently "ah-zeus") on Wednesday. At least, they told me to leave the laptop outside my front door on Wednesday and the courier would pick it up. So, being a good boy, I placed the laptop in its box inside 2 plastic bags (it was raining) leaning against the front door (reasonably sure it's not visible from the road), and 2 hours later it was gone. Didn't hear a courier, or anyone else though. I'll never see it again, will I?
/end preamble

On a random side note, I got this email from a colleague of mine:
In your free time could you please make us a recording of the troggs Wild thing we just want the first verse repeated several times and some animal roaring and teeth gnashing and claws clawing, don’t you just love evening story times

I don't know what it means. Apparently punctuation can be used to both clarify the meaning of chains of words and make them easier to read like totally yeah see what I mean seriously l2punctuate.

EDIT: apparently, I'm meant to be making a recording of the song 'Wild Thing' by The Troggs (some 1960s band, go figure) for an evening storytime at the library next week. Actually if I'd been a bit more awake I might have worked this out, but still, punctuation = win.

Alright, onto some WoW stuff:

- pre-Wrath content patch: 14/10/08 (a month before expansion). No further comments

- honor and marks of honor will no longer reset when the expansion hits. So saving up 75k honor and 100 of each mark might give you a bit of a headstart in 80 PvP.

- Hunter talents changed. Basically, Scatter Shot = 11 points in Survival, Readiness = 21 points in Marksman, Trap Mastery = 41 points in Survival. Readiness in Marksman? ZOMG! See below

- Aimed Shot is now instant cast (and lasts 10 seconds, with a 10 second cooldown). No more 3.5 second cast that resets autoshot and is ridiculously easy to avoid in Blade's Edge Arena. Now it's a 35 yard (41 if talented) Mortal Strike, BAM! Win. Which means a 0/41/20 PvP build could do stuff like: Multishot, Scatter Shot healer, Aimed Shot, Silence healer, Arcane Shot, Readiness, Scatter Shot healer, Aimed Shot, Silence healer, Multishot, Arcane Shot, or something like this. Hunter burst = win.

- Druid tanks are awesome again. Sort of. Swipe has been upgraded (now hits all enemies in a cone in front of you, providing some degree of AOE damage), threat and dps are nuts, and mitigation seems pretty nice too. So nice in fact that apparently they have to nerf them a bit because they're eclipsing other classes in Naxx-10. Oh look, a link to a Big Bear Butt. It's all about feral tanking post-patch. More words on the new, improved, Swipe below (taken from a separate post I never got around to finishing):
With a single word ("done"), Ghostcrawler announced the removal of the 4-target limit to Swipe.
Swipe now hits everything in a cone in front of you.
Enough to keep aggro off healers? Probably.
Enough to keep aggro off mages in AOE pulls? Probably not.
Enough to snap-aggro stuff that spawns behind you? Definitely not.

But, a good change nevertheless.

In BC there is 1 tank that can reliably hold aggro through Warlock and Mage AOE without a massive threat lead: Paladins.
In Wrath we can then add Death Knights to that list. Warriors, having also lost the target limit on Thunderclap, may or may not be able to do this. Druids probably can't generate enough threat from Swipe and Demoralizing Roar to achieve this.

A long long time ago (a few months or so), during the early stages following the announcement of WOTLK , it was stated [can't dig up the link atm, WoWInsider has too many posts] that Paladins would be the AOE tank of choice, with Warriors excelling at bosses, Death Knights being the best at tanking casters and Druids apparently doing whatever dirty job remained. For whatever reason, these niches are beginining to be less clearly defined. And thankfully Druids, being the swiss army knife class, don't seem to be getting penalised for this.

- Resto druids are in fact being looked at, and have had a few fixes. Contrary to what /trade thinks, Blizzard do not in fact hate us all (they just love Rogues more than everybody else). Apart from the fact that they refuse to restore Lifebloom to it's currently broken levels, the changes are really looking good. Naturally, Phaelia @ Resto4Life talks about this, and if you've read this much of my posts, you have no reason not to go read hers.

- Gearing a second character for PvP is such a grind, I can't believe I've got the patience (or for that matter, the time) to do it all again. Still, should pay off. Since we managed to reach 1515 last week, and the 2v2 team ('Multiboxing') has between them gotten 3 upgrades this week - Veteran's Band of Salvation, Guardian's Dreadweave Belt, Vengeful Gladiator's Kodohide Gloves - we should be able to do better this week. Since season 4 finished on the 14th I'm having to get a lot of S2 gear in order to be able to afford as many upgrades as possible. Currently working on the 40 EOTS marks for Vindicator's Kodohide Boots, which, at a 30% win rate, is going to take forever. This whole week seems to have been one long AV grind (around 20k honor).

There's a few other things I want to mention, but in an attempt to create some form of "logical posting system", I'll cover those later. And given the amount of AV and EotS I still need to do, probably a lot later.

In conclusion, I'm at work at the moment, so don't have access to my screenshot folder.
So here's a lolcat.

Isn't it cute? Sharing is caring (except for HIV).

Udder-madness. Caring since 2008.