Thursday, 1 October 2009

[Fin.] An end to the madness.

If you are one of the followers of Udder Madness, you may have noticed that my posting this year has been somewhat lacklustre (viz., non-existent since May).

And it is now time to close my WoW-related-blogging doors and move on.

Reading back over what I wrote during the last year, I really liked working on Udder Madness, and am not ashamed to put my name to the posts. The prima blogga experience was interesting and useful, and I found I have a taste for blogging.

So, if you liked Udder Madness, or a part thereof, or whatever-reason-you-have-for-reading-this-farewell-post I hope you will join me at my new blog:

DS Ex Machina:

There once was a blogger in WoW
Who played an anthropomorphic cow
His grades they did slip
The fan hit the shit
He's writing other stuff now

NB: Update, the domain expires soon.

/Udder Madness  out.

A Study in Procrastination

This is a post I started writing quite a while ago and rather than carry it over to the new blog, I decided to quickly just publish it, since it's a) heavily wow-related and b) the only half-way finished draft lined up for UM.

As a student, you often have multiple deadlines at a time. You obtain mild satisfaction from telling other people how you have 4 assignments, 3 presentations, a couple of posters, a dissertation on the life of duckweed on some lake during the two weeks either side of the summer solstice, all of which are due about this time tomorrow. And you haven't been able to start anything on this list because you've had other stuff to catch up on, you had to work 232 hours last week to pay for rent AND food, and you were required to babysit the twins because your mother is a hamster and your sister has just been diagnosed with testicular cancer. And that's not even mentioning the seven exams you have next week, all spread over the course of two-and-a-half days. You're a poor downtrodden bastard who drew the short straw in every deal throughout history, and your lecturers, every member of the opposite sex, the forces of evolution and the universe in general absolutely hate you and conspire against you to make your life the sort of experience trauma surgeons have nightmares about.

The more discerning audience may end up asking tricky questions, with the inevitable result that they find out that you've had at least a month to work on all your assignments, your presentation briefs were given out in July and of course you've know your dissertation topic since the end of last year. If said audience attempts to make some smart remark like "why didn't you start earlier?" then they're obviously not privy to the fundamental rules of procrastination that govern our generation (I can't remember what the designation of this generation is, but I personally like to refer to it as 'Generation XXL').

Rule 1: Chance of Procrastination is Related to Time Left Before Deadline
In fact the relationship between these two quantities of the form P = a*XXXX(t)+c
where P is the chance that procrastination will occur at any given time set aside for a given task
t is the time remaining until the deadline (in some unspecified unit of time)
a and c are arbitrary constants greater than zero
and XXXX was a carefully calculated, eerily accurate formula that has been lost to modernity because the researchers ran out of coffee

Rule Two: Procrastination is Easy: There's Always Other Stuff To Do
Let's take a look at a WoW player (viz. WoW addict), and how they might go about doing an essay:
10:53: "man, that was a late raid last night. Didn't get to bed until 3, no wonder I woke up late. Well, too late to go to my 11 o'clock class now. Might as well have breakfast."
11:47: "nothing on TV, might as well get dressed"
12:01: "what to do... oh hey look, this essay is due next week, better do some research."
12:02: "hmmm, could go to the library, but Google scholar will do just as well, and save me a trip, so I'll have more time to do this essay, right?"
12:04: [You have 13 new messages]
12:29: "Time for lunch!"
12:44: [ says]: "wat u up 2?"
12:58: "hmm, better check auctions and in-game mail before I start this essay"
13:02: "oh man, AV is the daily, I can farm a bit more honor, and get some gold, and we win AV all the time."
14:26: "finally won AV, hasn't been this bad in a while. Guess I'll do my dailies while I'm at it, otherwise I'll never get my epic flying mount"
15:38: "So. Hungry. Need. Food."
16:01: "Oh hey look, 'Blogger And Blood Elf' wrote a new post, better go check it out."
16:23: "THEY'RE DOING WHAT?!?!?! Time to head over to WoWInsider."
16:48: [ says]: "howz ur essay goin?"
16:49: "Oh yeah. The essay. Well, time to cook dinner soon, and then TV and raiding. Guess I'll do it tomorrow."

Rule Three:
Will finish this later.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Quantum Butterflies downs Malygos

Quantum Butterflies on Aman'Thul have now cleared all normal 10-man content pre-Ulduar.
After an exhilarating 2 1/2 hours of serious encounter progression, in what was for most people their first trip into the Eye of Eternity, we finally downed the Aspect of the Blue Dragonflight.
Each attempt saw us get progressively closer to the kill, as we worked out healing rotations, dps placements and co-ordination and making it to the drake phase alive. We hit his enrage timer multiple times during the third phase, and on the final attempt were left with only two of us alive (myself as a healer and the main tank ^_^). For our troubles I picked up some snazzy Focusing Energy Epaulets which may or may not replace my T7 (breaking my set bonus until I can get the helm, but then I don't really use Holy Light that much), and a mage got Greatstaff of the Nexus.

Being part of a team tackling such a difficult encounter, and seeing our rapid progression was a really cool experience, and I dare say quite a few of us were surprised when we did get him down on the first night.

Great job guys, time to head to bed (have to get up for work in 4.5 hours, ugh).

PS: Damn, forgot to take kill screenshots. But then giant hearts floating in the middle of empty space aren't nearly as impressive as a bunch of naked hordies desecrating a corpse ;).

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

[Notwow] Udder Madness loves whiteboards

Well, quite evidently I'm blogging at work. And while this isn't necessarily unusual, I don't really have a lot to do.

Following on from the critical license failures mentioned earlier, I have since been contacted by the Australian-based support with three separate solutions, none of which worked, and the problem has now been escalated to the developers in the UK. Of course, as of posting, it's roughly 3am for those hat-tipping, tea-guzzling chaps over there (hope Ark and Beks got over their jetlag and are happily sleeping), so this application probably won't be working anytime today. Basically turning a planned 10-hour day into a 3-hour day. I should probably just go home.

Instead, here's a PXT of the whiteboard in my office in it's current state (apologies for the terrible quality, my cheap cellphone camera isn't good at dealing with the reflective surface):

This is (hopefully) the solution for the PDE: x'' - 3x' + 2x = 1, with boundary conditions x(0) = 1 and x'(0) = 0, using derivatives of the Laplace transform. Yay, maths. The final answer I got was x(t) = 2 - t - exp(t). It was written on the whiteboard after I was unable to finish the question in a test, and, frustrated, spent an hour completing (and often reworking it).

Yes, sorry, I'm bored. I'm going home. Please remember:

For Great Justice: Arena healing as deep protection.

Healing as a paladin in Season 6 is proving interesting. As previously mentioned, I find that paladins seem to have a lot less utility than the other healing classes (lack of mobility, drain, cc and instant casts), and particularly vulnerable to lock-outs and mana drains.

Until recently I’ve healed only as deep holy: either 51/20/0 or 49/0/22 (S5 only, since the ret talents were changed in 3.1.0). Recently I’ve looked at other specs, mostly to address the aforementioned issues of utility and mana regen, and since deep Holy gives very little to 2v2 and 3v3 healing. Two alternative specs are popular: ret/holy and deep protection. Of the two

Retribution/Holy (e.g. 32/0/39): has Repentance for control, and infinite mana with Judgements of the Wise, plus trading the Art of War for the loss of Infusion of Light. Additionally it has stun removal, Pursuit of Justice and increased crit %, as well as improved damage output.

Deep Protection (e.g. 19/52/0): infinite mana via a refreshable and undispellable Divine Plea, increased survivability from various stamina bonuses, considerable increases to FoL and HL healing due to increased crit coefficient and a stamina to spellpower conversion (in my mediocre gear I now get 3.7k FoL’s, with 7k crits, and 21k HL crits), as well as a 20 second (!) Hammer of Justice cooldown, and the 3-second silence of Avenger’s Shield (including a daze, and affecting up to 3 targets).

I’m currently trying the deep Prot version, and have to say that it’s interesting and fun to play, a lot more so than deep Holy. The control offered by the 20 second Hammer of Justice cooldowns is impressive, as well as access to Avenger’s Shield. A 6-second stun every 20 seconds is highly entertaining. Against healer/dps we play very aggressively, and mana regeneration is excellent, and means swapping glyphed Seal of Wisdom for the 3-second RNG stun of Seal of Justice for more stunning entertainment (the controlled stun from HoJ is on a separate cooldown to the uncontrolled SoJ stun).

However without the combination of Holy Shock, Divine Favour, and Infusion of Light, double dps does tend to sh#t all over us once Divine Guardian runs out, plus silences/interrupts are even stronger against me without instant heals. Lack of Light’s Grace and Judgements of the Pure also means that healing through Mortal Strike becomes a pain (especially after the stupid damage from a Bladestorm), and the spec requires a dps partner with decent survivability (i.e. a plate-wearer). But overall it’s a lot more pleasant to play than the fairly dull reactivity of deep Holy.

Further thoughts will probably follow as I play the spec more, yet one thing does occur:

The Holy tree is in sad shape when delving deeper into Protection or Retribution can prove more beneficial for 2v2 arena healing.

[Notwow] This post is dedicated to cats

Because cats are awesome!

This is my parents' cat, Ambra. Isn't she cute?
(Shortly afterwards she reached out with a single claw and scratched my eyelid, it was adorable. I think she still hasn't forgiven me for leaving home.)

A short digression (cats are more important):
So here I am at work. Working. Entering data and configuring the software package that will manage... anyway, I'm doing what I'm meant to be doing. Gradually falling asleep, because this part of the job is really f#cking boring, but hey, it's being done. I'd just come back from getting a Cornetto and was making my way through a (now empty) 500ml can of V Black (gogo caffeine), had saved the work I was doing and was recording my progress on paper, when my coworker walks in and says "hey, are you using the software at the moment? I'm getting an error".
Load up application, wait, yep... that doesn't look right:

WTF? We haven't even started testing the software and the license has already expired, not to mention the fact that all the license files were moved to the server two weeks ago. And I've already done almost three hours work in the application today, and the licenses were working fine.

Oh well, guess it gave me something else to do. Currently waiting for tech support to get back to me. May soon be making phone calls to Australia as well. Cats don't have this problem:

Cats > applications.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Early Impressions of Season 6

There may be readers out there who are interested in the perspective of the enthusiastic but consistently mediocre player, the one who has trouble breaking 1500 rating in every bracket. The perspective of the player who plays with like-minded guildies who are also (for the most part) IRL friends, and bases teams around their characters, rather than the FotM comps. For those readers, this post is for you.

Season 6 is proving to be interesting, at our level (MMR of around 1300 in 2v2 and 3v3) both double dps and healer/dps are popular. I play a healer paladin, partnered with a destruction warlock and a frost death knight in 2v2 and 3v3, and messing around with two more death knights and a resto druid in 5v5 for the points.

I personally like the new system of matches based on MMR (matchmaking rating), even if a lot of people still don’t fully understand it, means we get a much better selection of matches and our win/loss ratio doesn’t look abysmal. Our 3v3 is currently sitting at 15-15 (5-5 during the first week, and 10-10 during the second) so our MMR is exactly where we should be.

Following patch 3.1.0 a few changes to arenas are apparent, even in our brackets:
Paladins appear to be the worst healers now, especially against priests (in Ring of Valor, my mana disappears at the same frightening rate as whatever pillar I happen to be hiding [cowering] behind). Priests live forever, PvE resto druids can tank DKs even when on basically 0 mana and shamans don’t seem to drop below 6k mana.

- Arms warriors are really good again (and Bladestorm does a stupid amount of damage). In combat charge also negates the advantage of 40 yard Judgements.

- Rogues can do scary amounts of burst, as can mages. And with even more control tools between them, they make a similarly formidable combination as in previous seasons; RMP is once again very impressive if coordinated well. The double rogues we’ve seen so far do seem to have a bit of trouble with DoTs and a paladin healer.

- Feral druids make good dps partners with a healer, since in Bear form they can turtle for ages, at least against a DK, and have good control to boot. Oh and somehow we always lose to Moonkin. Like the memorable 3v3 against double Moonkin and a paladin (the AoE damage was too much to heal through, and double Typhoon sucks when you're trying to Holy Light someone).

- Season 6 is shaping up to look a lot like Season 3 and 4, except that hunters, ret paladins and warlocks can do ridiculous damage in very small amounts of time, as can resto shamans and priests. I predict that druids will once again become the dominant healers, giving them a 5th season of being at the top, maybe I should level Beathooven…

My personal experience after healing 50 2v2 and 30 3v3 games so far is that I’m not a big fan of paladin healing, especially compared to playing a resto druid in S3/S4. Lack of mobility and instant heals leaves me feeling very vulnerable to cc/burst on partner vs. double dps, and mana draining against healer/dps.

- Mana can disappear quite quickly when I need to resort to using Holy Light (which is so easy to interrupt/cc), and with BoW and Divine Plea both being dispellable regaining mana is a real pain (especially due to the vulnerability when needing to stop drinking to bring partner back up). Holy Shock crits into instant FoL are still really nice, and the 60 second improved Sacred Shield in the 49/22/0 build is also helpful.

- While my survival against melee is better than either priests’ or shamans’ (and thus I spend a lot less time having to kite than as my BC druid and my DK partner in Frost Presence can absorb a tonne of damage), I can’t exhibit anywhere near as much control or kill-burst as any of the other healing classes.

- Warlock/healadin seems to have serious issues with Arms warriors, death knight/healerdin has issues against drain, druids (resto and feral) and resto shamans. Rogue/mage, properly played, facerolls us regardless of composition.

- The DK and I have played one game that lasted the full 47 minutes (we didn't even know there was a time limit) against a Frost mage and an unkillable T7.5 resto druid (who was outhealing our dps in treeform even when on 200 mana), but was one of the most intense and fun games we've played. We also played against a Resto shaman/Feral druid which we managed to RNG kill during the very last minute. Both of those happened at around 2am, which was mildly irritating, and we could possibly have won both (sooner) if we'd been more awake. Thankfully 3v3 matches don't take long, since healer mana doesn't last nearly as long (more dps to heal through, and less drinking), and we decimated the single double healer (+ Arms warrior) pretty quickly.

- One thing that does annoy me is my inability to decide which stats to stack for PvP healing, since resilience, spellpower, stamina, MP5, crit, int, and haste all seem to be situationally great. Guess I need to do some theorycrafting. Although that probably depends on which spec I’m using (more of this in another post).

My hopes for the next few weeks:

Reach our MMR in 2v2 and 3v3, giving access to some nice rating rewards (relics, Deadly legs and maybe Furious wrists) – our first rating rewards ever, since the one time we hit ~1570 in S4 we didn’t have enough points for anything. Hopefully the DK can pick up an Ironsoul from Ulduar (not being in a 25-man guild does have a serious impact on our chances of doing well).

Monday, 4 May 2009

Introducing Udder Madness 2.0

Hi again. I’m still alive. /waves.

One thing to note about blogging, especially if you’re focussing on something like WoW, is that the blogger needs to be interested in both the game, and feel that they have something to write about. Blogging can be quite a drain on one’s time, and at some point I lost both interest in the game and the blog, and as my life was undergoing several radical changes I just sort of … stopped writing.

And while I was...AWoL... a number of other renowned (and personal favourite) bloggers also left:
Daniel Howell from BigRedKitty
Megan from Out of Mana
Phaelia from Resto For Life

They're already sorely missed from my reading list, although Daniel Howell's new blog, Brain Needed Space has already been a source of much amusement and entertainment.

Anyway, I’m back in the game now, finally got The Fall of Naxxramas (last saturday) and my arena partners together (to continue our mediocre and unimpressive track record), so I figured I might as well revitalise this blog.

So welcome to Udder Madness 2.0, now at

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

[Personal] Things you may find when clearing out your room

- Lego
- Lego Technic
- Lego Technic Fibre Optic
- really terrible photos you took when you were a kid
- various science kits
- a touch-screen chess computer where G1 to G7 don't work
- a miniature Connect Four set, with twink on half the pieces because both sets of pieces it came with are red
- more terrible photos
- somewhere in the vicinity of $1000 worth of stamps, First Day Covers and Collector's Packs
- approximately 15 reams of paper encompassing virtually everything given to me at school and university, over 16 years or so. Ok, 15 reams is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's at least 5.
- error logging notes from the EMI Cologne IT department, stemming from roughly 1990
- a ten day WoW subscription guest pass key: F2Z428-X9XN-V29BEZ-VRGW-CMHEGD (unused at time of writing)
- coloured-in cutouts of trees, people and fire hydrants? WTF?
- 8 rulers and squares. Wait, 9. No, 10.
- a book in which my 6 year old self wrote "18x3=5", either I was mathematically challenged, or I had an insufficient attention span
- pictures of cats, aka pictures of AWESOME
- pictures of turtles and elephants and monkeys and, and, and
- another thousand dollars' worth of consumer electronics (iPod, MP4 player, Walkman, discman, cameras etc) - all in a state somewhere between "working quite eratically" to "totally dead"
- 2 pairs of wooden knitting needles... the metal ones are much better anyway
- about a dozen CDs won from various radio stations
- about $10 worth of old NZ coins, the heavy ones
- my body weight in dust
- 3.5" disks. Discs? Disks.
- massive amounts of random stationery, artefacts of bygone ages (I'm sure that's the Holy Grail from Monty Python)
- more books than I know what to do with

- a cat!

[Personal] Computer-less

Currently my personal computer needs are met by a battered and worn ASUS EeePC. Well actually they're not, but I don't have anything else.

I had been in the process of buying the parts for a new PC, but then had to place that order on hold due to certain delays: furniture not in the flat, grandmother died, busy with work, that sort of thing. When I contacted the retail store today I got this message.

"We all sold out the CPU AMD 6000 since the order over 3days"

Sucks. And they won't restock for another 2-3 weeks, if not longer.

So the question is: go with some CPU inferior to the AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 2000MHz HyperTransport AM2 64Bit? Or wait for them to restock and kick my flatmate off his Mac long enough to do dailies (or just give up on WoW for a while)? Or get the part somewhere else...

Friday, 30 January 2009

Moving Out, AKA Almost Completely Useless Post

For the second time in my life I am moving house.
The first time occured when I was 5, and involved crossing 11 time zones and both tropics.
This time it's a move of about 20km into town, but leaving the parental supervision unit behind.

So there's been lots of things to get organised; and since I haven't spent a lot of time in-game there hasn't been much material for wow-related posts.

There has, however, been lots of stuff to organise. E.g. last night I spent about four hours working on a forecasting budget, having entered one of my pedantic, nit-picky and perfectionist (i.e. German) moods. Therefore I found out that the New Zealand tax rates have changed, I have no idea how long ago.
Previously I was working on the basis of 19.5% tax in the lowest bracket, but this was clearly at odds with my payslips.
The new brackets are:
$0-$14000: taxed at 13.9%
$14001-$40000: taxed at 22.4%
Which actually leaves me with a bit of extra money. I still end up $1200 short at the end of the year (assuming predictions, prices, and job stability are accurate, which is assuming a bit much), but there's a pay review next week, so there's hope of not ending up horribly in debt by the end of the year. Except for the roughly $40,000NZD that I owe to the government for my tertiary education.

And there are lists to be written, projections to be made. Must organise content insurance etc. All of which is pretty mundane crap that doesn't interest anyone except me (I want to get my stuff insured) and the insurance agents (who will be able to make some nice profit out of me).

Actually, this post really IS a waste of space. So let me share with you a short story from my recent endeavours into the World of Warcraft.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is a story that clearly demonstrates the sheer quantity of stupidity that can be found in the game sometimes. What makes this story different from my other rants about in-game idiocy? Well, the difference is minor. Let's just get to the story, it's a short one.

The Characters:
: some random Aman'Thul Hordie
Ephylia: the paladin main of some little-known run-of-the-mill blogger. That would be me.

The Setting:
Doesn't really matter because this story is about a conversation.

Background Detail:
My mage alt had just reached 50 a few minutes ago, and was preparing to grind Enchanting and Tailoring en masse to 350 or so.

Scene One of Two:
[Trade] D~: WTS lots of Netherweave Cloth
*Thinking: Netherweave Cloth would be great for leveling tailoring, and I could then DE stuff to level enchanting*
Ephy to D~: Sure. I'll buy them. How much? And how many have you got?
D~ to Ephy: I have 21 stacks, looking at 3g each.
*Honest quote of my thought process: 21 stacks. Hmmm, so that's like 20 cloth per stack or something. How much gold do I have? 321. Hmmm. If I offer 300 gold I can get a free stack*
Ephy to D~: I'll take em for 300g.
D~ to Ephy: 300g?
*Trying to think again: hmmm. Have I offended him? Let's redo that calculation. Oh gods, I only offered half of what he wants. Well, let's pretend I'm not an idiot and say this as if it's what I meant all along*
Ephy to D~: I meant, I'll buy 300g worth.
D~ to Ephy: huh? There's 21 stacks.
Ephy to D~: Oh
Ephy to D~: Sh!t
Ephy to D~: I'm stupid. 63 gold it is.
D~ to Ephy: lol.
D~ to Ephy: I'll COD it.
Ephy to D~: Ok. Sorry about that. It's late.
*Exit Ephylia for bed*

Scene Two of Two: By a Mailbox in Dalaran. The next day.
*Yay. Mail. Must be that Netherweave Cloth. Ohgodsthatwasembarassingquickthinkofsomethingelse.*
*Opens mail item one: 11 stacks of Netherweave Cloth for a 33 gold CoD*
*Opens mail item two: 10 stacks of Netherweave Cloth with 30 gold attached*
*Sends D~ 60 gold*

Three things I'd like to add:
Hopefully I'm going to be starting a BSc (hons) in Applied Mathematics later this year. Wish me luck, because I'm really going to need it.
Scene One above took place at 3 o'clock in the morning. Closer to 4 o'clock in fact. I stop thinking after 2 (yes, I know, the fact that I stopped thinking is really obvious). I have no f*cking idea how I ended up with those numbers.
I'd have done this as a me-vs-brain type post or something, except that would have been really unoriginal, stupidly so and since it's not yet 2am I realise this. Also, quite evidently, no brains were involved on my end of the dialogue.

So there you have it.

WoW is contains a lot of stupid people, or at least a lot of really dumb-foundingly stupid behaviour.

PS: if it hadn't been so god-damn late, I'd have taken a screenshot. See above for note on not-thinking.

Friday, 23 January 2009

3.0.8 and me

Well, after cleaning work earlier this week (carpet was still a touch moist) I finally got in a quick WoW-fix last night, downloaded the patch and did some groupy stuff.

So what did 3.0.8 mean for me?

Ephylia is now under 1600 spellpower thanks to the Titansteel Guardian adjustment (i.e. nerf).
And I'm disappointed that Flow of Knowledge give 84 Resilience (was originally spoiled as having 84 crit rating, which made it stupidly good for 25 Wintergrasp marks). But otherwise my Paladin is loving the patch simply for the improvement to Glyph of Holy Light (which is so OP it's getting nerfed, fast). Now I just wish Holy-oriented Plate would start dropping.

My hunter is now a 6/52/5 Marksman (for leveling), which is a really cool spec. Brief testing on Target Dummies showed that I went from a 650-450 Hunter-pet split dps-wise, to 1050-150, which is a decent jump, but does mean I have serious issues with aggro now, maybe get a better pet than the Gorilla? But if both components of Chimera Shot crit, that's a nice 5.5k damage.
Also, apparently Survival post-patch is better than BM pre-patch. Wtf?

My druid is back to Feral, enjoying a nice increase to armor thanks to the changes to Survival of the Fittest. And he can finally use the Sonic Spear I picked up last year sometime (mentioned in this post). Which warranted a respec to a 0/52/9 build. Just because. Seriously, druid with Sonic Spear, my hunter is still silently weeping over that.

Oh yeah, evidence (thanks to Arianwyn, whose computer I hi-jacked, Mew =^..^= ):

It's got a spear! It must be a Hunter.



Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Ok, Where's the furniture?

So I came home today after wringing out my brains at work (my role within the project keeps expanding) hoping that after shopping for dinner, cooking dinner, eating dinner, cleaning up after dinner (etc) I could go beat up some target dummies in Org, respec for Chimera Shot, then beat up said target dummies some more, and maybe gain another level (or at least part thereof).
Fat chance.
Come home, wonder why furniture has all been moved. Oh right, you're steam-cleaning the carpet. Come to think of it, this was mentioned about twice a day for the last week, but y'know, I've been stressed. Fine, clean the carpet, clean the furniture too, it does need it, but. Wait. Oh no. You cleaned in the office didn't you? Now the room smells of nasty chemicals (*cough*, *splutter*), the carpet is soaked and there isn't actually room to use the computer. Sigh.
Oh well, maybe tomorrow, since it looks like I'm not moving out this week after all.

Two days without WoW... I'm going to start getting withdrawal symptoms.

Monday, 19 January 2009

My Professions: A Conundrum

I've been thinking a bit about the professions I've chosen, for my various toons, and come to the conclusion that somewhere along the way I may have made some bad calls.

My totally awesome level 80 paladin is a Jewelcrafter, which is my favourite profession (decent to stupendous profit margins, and really great for customising gear). This I am happy with. Awesome BOP gems and trinkets, and I can collect and customise spec/purpose-specific stuff for all my different roles, so that's nifty too. Damn but I love JC, it's been maxed for a month or so now and will stay that way. That being said, Paladin JCs seem to be pretty ubiquitous: out of the 4 level 80 paladins in my guild/on my friends list, 3 are JCs.

My almost-neglected first-to-70 hunter, whom I dusted off last week and got up to 72 is a Leatherworker. Which is fine and dandy, except I'm not overly excited about Bracer enchants and cheap BOP leg enchants, and can easily get everything I want by sending the mats to Toresh, my personal LWing bi-atch (well if you're not going to blog then you've got to have something to do, might as well make me some pretty stuff). So I'm not entirely sure if it's worth leveling LWing. Initially, while leveling as my first toon, being able to make my gear as I leveled was totally awesome (although admittedly I did kind of stockpile my skinning mats and then burst-leveled LW, making a whole bunch of gear 20 levels too low in the process), but since my current gear won't be replaced frequently (probably not until the PvP blues at 78, and then again with crafted epics at 80)

My druid is Engineering. I have very little idea of how this happened, but he's got 2 sets of BC goggles, which cost me quite a bit to get. Unlike some people I'm not really a big fan of engineering, I tend to always forget about the little gadgets. Of course the portable mailbox, repair bot and vendor will be nice, but one big thing that Engineers can make that is pretty much wasted on druids is ammunition, which would make the profession much better suited to say, a hunter. I could just send the ammo over, but this could lead to certain conflicts of times when mailboxes (for the LWing hunter) aren't handy, and there's the fact that the hunter will probably be well ahead on the leveling curve. And it lacks a certain... elegance ("I'm a nature-loving druid who turns into a bear, my raison d'etre is to provide ammo for my hunter to pew-pew stuff, mostly animals").
Additionally, giving my love of different roles and specs, my druid would benefit a lot more from the ease-of-customisation offered by the bracer and leg enchants available to a LW. And there don't appear to be any Feral engineering goggles in WotLK (or so I hear). Hmmm...

My Death Knight has picked up Inscription, which is a neat profession, even if most of the glyphs are just filling up my bank. Will probably be very useful to support Ephylia's frequent respecs (atm I'm just sticking with my Holy PvP glyphs) and the shoulder enchants will save me grinding Sons of Hodir on yet another toon (I'm currently too lazy to grind it on my main, using PvP Inscriptions instead, since Ephy is too young to have access to the BC stuff).
But one thing I didn't realise that Scribes had access to is the enchantment-specific off-hand. Now a DK isn't really the type to walk around with a puny off-hand, not when she could be wielding a bad-ass zweihander or another axe. And out of all my high-level characters the one who would actually benefit from these offhands would be my (mostly) Restoration/Balance druid. And a DK engineer would look pretty spiffy with some goggles.

And then there's options of just going all out gathering. Since most of the good crafted stuff is now BOE, and equipping fresh 80s, while supporting their enchants, gems and respecs can be quite expensive, this might be a good option. But who would be the best double-gatherer? The Hunter has a pet to fend off random mobs near nodes, as does the DK (if Unholy). The druid has flightform, which is great for quickly jumping between nodes that are close together and getting the edge on other farmers. The paladin has Crusader Aura, but I've already said that she's staying as JC.

So ideally I guess my hunter would be an engineer, my druid would have inscription and the DK be a double gatherer (farming leather to support the crafted gear for hunter/druid). But would I be willing to go through the time, effort and expenditure of leveling these a second time? And would I be willing to also drop and level up the relevant gathering professions (an extremely tedious process, except for skinning). Probably not. If Blizzard gave me the opportunity to swap around professions for dollars I'd actually take them up on it (within reason).
I guess that I'll just keep gathering and stockpiling mats until I level my current professions out of boredom and for the sake of completeness.

Have you guys got any advice to give me? How are your own professions going, are you happy with the choices you made?

I know my readers are an extremely quiet lot, even my guildies, but c'mon, break down those communication blocks and comment or something.

(Yes, it's a long, quiet, boring day at work, but then most of this was written at home ;)).

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

From DKs to Zones, with Nostalgia

I finished the starting questchain on my second DK yesterday, at around 1am (my first DK got transfered to Gun'Drak (US) during the Massive Queues Of Doom phase, and is now busy hitting target dummies - of the 200 gold she was transfered with, she has 3 gold left, the rest was spent on respecs).

So after I'd witnessed the magical cleansing of the Ashbringer and wondered some more about what exactly is buried under Light's Hope Chapel, I was ready to head out into the wide world of damnation.

And so I decided to level Herbalism and Inscription. I know a lot of DKs can't be bothered leveling professions up before proceeding along the road to 80, but Inscription has intrigued me, I love having professions and it's more efficient gathering herbs while leveling through Outlands and Northrend, than doing it after reaching 80.

So far I've spent about 6 hours just messing around and getting Herbalism to 205, so I can fully understand why there's so many profession-less Death Knights wandering around. And while I'd much rather be melting (well bashing-in) face in HFP, I've noticed one thing: I absolutely love being in the old zones with something to do.

Essentially it boils down to one of my fondest WoW memories ever: me playing a Troll Hunter, questing in the Barrens with my faithful Boar, at around 3am after all the other trolls have gone home (and taken Chuck Norris with them). Ah that haunting music of The Barrens, bringing solace to the empty void of my soul. In all seriousness, there is an amazing sense of peace and contentment while quietly slaughtering wildlife in a sleep-deprived state across the rugged and desolate-but-beautiful landscape. Ah good times.

The same nostalgic recollections of tranquility and quiet purpose (DIE BRISTLEBACK! DIE!) followed me through Stonetalon Mountains (my hunter was the only character to level here) and would also have come in Thousand Needles, except that I chose to go to Arathi Highlands instead to pick more flowers.

I'm not sure why I love some zones more than other, in particular the vast expanses almost completely populated by beasts, I guess it's the inner hunter (would be interesting to see what others have to say about this).

On that vein, my top-5 personal favourite zones in WoW (based entirely just on how much I like them):

5: Netherstorm
4: Thousand Needles
3: Winterspring
2: Nagrand
1: The Barrens

That's right, it's all Vanilla or BC. While the Northrend zones look stunning (too stunning for my computer to handle), I still prefer the older ones. One honourary mention must be made: Hellfire Peninsula, for being graphically stunning (especially that sky), and making it really f*cking obvious that we ain't in Kansas no more (double negative, I know).

Anyway, that was the sort of soppy, maudlin', meaningless post I have a tendency to write when I don't get enough sleep and have had a hard day, hope you enjoyed it :P.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Servers back up early, no patch in sight

I logged into WoW some 20 minutes ago (which would have made it 0945 PST) and didn't need to do any patching.
So, no new items, hunters still do way too much damage and Avenging Wrath still causes Forbearance, and we get to wait in anticipation for another week.

Also, just so this post isn't a complete waste of space, I shall inform you that I had ice cream for breakfast, mmk?

Season 5 Honor and Arena Rewards

Ok, it's downtime. Patch 3.0.8 may or may not be in the process of currently being installed and all our mail may be missing and hunters are most definitely being nerfed. Anyway, you need something to do. While sleep and the spouse beckon, you nevertheless find yourself... here? Reading this post? o.O
Well, I'd better get on with it then.

This is a list of PvP-oriented items available for purchase through honor and/or arena points (where applicable, PvE sources will also be mentioned).

It's meant to be a comprehensive list of both the set gear (three tiers of 5-piece sets) and miscellaneous items, listing both costs and rating requirements. If, like me, you were overwhelmed by the multitude of items (three different tiers of gear at once) or the variety of different ways of obtaining gear (there are three ways of just getting the blue set), then I hope this post will help you.

I won't cover the level 187 crafted blues (equipable at 78) since I already did that briefly and they're not very interesting.

Savage Gladiator: 200-level blues. NB: The Honor/Arena Point vendor is in the Dalaran Sewers
This gear includes a 5-piece armor set (with the same set bonuses as the epic gear).
It requires no arena rating to purchase.
It can be bought through three ways:
- Honor, and lots of it
- Emblems of Heroism
- A combination of Honor and Arena Points (small amounts of each)
E.g. the Hunter pants can be bought for: 60k Honor OR 45 Emblems of Heroism OR 12k Honour and 350 Arena Points

Head: 60k Honor OR 12k Honor and 350 Arena Points OR 45 Emblems of Heroism
Shoulder: 50k Honor OR 9.6l Honor and 275 Arena Points OR 30 Emblems of Heroism
Chest: 60k Honor OR 12k Honor and 350 Arena Points OR 45 Emblems of Heroism
Hands: 50k Honor OR 7.2k Honor and 200 Arena Points OR 30 Emblems of Heroism
Legs: 60k Honor OR 12k Honor and 350 Arena Points OR 45 Emblems of Heroism

Oh and don't let Wowhead fool you: there are no Savage Gladiator weapons, relics or offhands on the live servers (only the 5-piece set items made it past beta).

Hateful Gladiator: 200-level epics
To me this is the most interesting set. It can be obtained through different ways:
- Pure Honor for the non-set items
- Honor and Arena Points for the set items (require 1600-1800 rating)
- Emblems of Valor for the set items (no rating needed)
- Chest/Hands/Legs drop from normal (10) Vault of Archavon (no rating needed)
Again, don't let Wowhead fool you: there are no Hateful Gladiator weapons, relics or offhands on the live servers
E.g. the Hunter pants can be bought for 45 Emblems of Valor, 12k Honor and 700 Arena Points (requires 1645 rating) or received as a 10-man VOA drop; and the Hunter belt can be purchased for 49.6k Honor

Head: 12k Honor and 700 Arena Points (requires 1735 rating) OR 45 Emblems of Valor
Neck: 38k Honor
Shoulder: 9.6k Honor and 550 Arena Points (requires 1775 rating) OR 30 Emblems of Valor
Back: 38k Honor
Chest: 12k Honor and 700 Arena Points (requires 1675 rating) OR 45 Emblems of Valor OR Drops from Normal Archavon
Wrist: 31.6k Honor
Hands: 7.2k Honor and 400 Arena Points (requires 1615 rating) OR 30 Emblems of Valor OR Drops from Normal Archavon
Waist: 49.6k Honor
Legs: 12k Honor and 700 Arena Points (requires 1645 rating) OR 45 Emblems of Valor OR Drops from Normal Archavon
Feet: 49.6k Honor
Ring: 38k Honor
Trinket: 49.6k Honor

Deadly Gladiator: 213-level Epic
Head: 2250 Arena Points (requires 2090 rating)
Neck: 47.4k Honor (requires 1600 rating)
Shoulder: 1800 Arena Points (requires 2150 rating)
Back: 47.4k Honor (requires 1750 rating)
Chest: 2250 Arena Points (requires 1970 rating) OR Drops from Heroic Archavon
Wrist: 39.4k Honor (requires 1660 rating)
Hands: 1800 Arena Points (requires 1850 rating) OR Drops from Heroic Archavon
Waist: 60.2k Honor (requires 1630 rating)
Legs: 2250 Arena Points (requires 1910 rating) OR Drops from Heroic Archavon
Feet: 60.2k Honor (requires 1720 rating)
Ring: 47.4k Honor (requires 1690 rating)
Trinket (Battlemaster's): 60.2k Honor (requires 1800 rating)
Main-Hand/Slow One-Hand/Caster: 3150 Arena Points (requires 2030 rating)
Two-Hand/Ranged: 4500 Arena Points (requires 2030 rating)
Off-Hand/Fast One-Hand: 1350 Arena Points (requires 2030 rating)
Shield: 2250 Arena Points (requires 2030 rating)
Relic: 1200 Arena Points (requires 2030 rating)

Also Wintergrasp epics have recently been announced for patch 3.0.8 on MMO champion. These are the Titan-Forged pieces: 200-level epics:
Head: 40 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor
Feet: 15 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor
Trinket: 25 Wintergrasp Marks of Honor

The trinkets in particular look pretty awesome. Like really, totally awesome (caster one gives 86 crit with a proc for 590 spellpower, or something like that, which is stupidly good).

NB: with any list this long, errors are sure to creep in. Please report them either through email, or by leaving a comment. Also if you have any further suggestions/requests/criticisms/feedback the same holds true.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

New Year's Resolutions

And believe me I am still alive.
I'm doing science and I'm still alive.
I feel fantastic and I'm still alive.

Oh, hi. Miss me? Bet you didn't even realise I was gone.
Yeah I was gone. For quite a while in fact, lurking in the shadows, hiding from forum trolls (not really: two new part-time jobs, christmas, and skipping sleep to get to 80 sort of limited enthusiasm and resources for blogging).

TLDR: because I think some people won't read past the second paragraph, if that, here's the TLDR: this post is not aimed at you.

I was kinda of intending to get one more post out last year, but that kind of didn't eventuate, which isn't really a good way to start a post on resolutions.
But THIS IS SPARTA! Actually, no, it isn't. But it IS 2009, a year that will hopefully herald a few changes in my life regarding those aspects that I'm not particularly happy with. And after completely forgetting about them last night, I spent a chunk of today coming up with a list of resolutions while yawning and sweeping around the house.

My Resolutions for 2009:
1: Make realistic resolutions. To this extent I'll try to avoid absolutes, but rather go for relative improvements (better, more, etc...). Also I'll write this list up on my blog (oh, hey, DONE) and maybe set it as one of starting tabs on Firefox. Maybe. This way I'll have a harder time denying the existence of these resolutions to myself or others.

2: Improve personal fitness. Intentionally vague but something to aim for. Ever since senior year my fitness has gone downhill, not too far, but more than I'd like. The goal is to make it back up that hill (without running out of breath), but even a few steps in the right direction will be an improvement. I went for a jog today, so this is being worked on.

3: Write regular blog posts. Especially considering that three week gap in December. The idea is at least one post a week, unless I die, in which case once every two weeks may be considered sufficient providing consent is received
from the applicable parties.

4: Be nicer to people and have a more positive attitude. Having jerkish-tendencies and being a flagrant lover (and user) of sarcasm, and sometimes being rather impatient, I think I should be nicer to people. Simply because there are a lot of people with disruptive/destructive attitudes on the internet, and the world would probably be a nicer place if I didn't add to all the bad vibes. Besides, it's hard being evil all the time.
Disclaimer: this does not apply to the level 19 'twink' hunter I saw in Orgrimmar, the one who claimed that Strength gave ranged attack power to hunters because when he took off his Legionnaire's Band he lost 4 RAP. For the record: Hunters do not gain Ranged Attack Power from Strength, Huntards do. Thank you.

5: Spend less money on random stuff. Straightforward mostly. I'm not actually that bad in terms of impulse buys, except where food is concerned. Going further would mean I'd be adding up bills and the amount of money lost would depress me, giving me difficulties with number 4 above.

6: Cut back on procrastination. And on that note let's move straight to 7.

7: Cut back on gaming. This does include World of Warcraft (awww), but also addresses all the time lost just playing Flash games, replaying WC3 or Starcraft or mindless days of Tower Defense. I need to find the time to work on the items on this list.

8: Plan my life better, or try to find a more concrete direction that involves around more than "do dailies every day, and at least ten arena matches a week". While true direction can't really be forced (or, imo, shouldn't be), hopefully this will come during the course of the year.

9: Work on my posture, which is gradually resembling that of a geriatric Oran-Utan. Definitely not a good look, and the problems later in life aren't worth it either. The physiotherapist gave me exercises to do years ago, I should do them.

10: Less reading. I have this tendency to leave work carrying chunky novels and not going to sleep (or doing chores, assignments etc) until I've finished them. Taking a break probably isn't a bad idea, and will help with number 11 below. If that means leaving Neal Stephenson's The Confusion partly read, so be it. I can spend the dull moments pondering what happened to Jack Shaftoe. Oh wait, see 6.

11: Better sleeping patterns. Basically, a combination of 7 and 10. No more "lights out when book is finished" and a lot less of the "log into WoW at midnight, play until somewhere between 3 and 5, get up for work/uni at 7 and wonder why I feel like sh!t and end up failing".

12: Refrain from the impulsive "just to piss Person X off" behaviour. An extension of number 4 above, I realise that I have a minor tendency to do (mostly say) stuff designed to either annoy or injure someone, often someone who doesn't like me anyway, but not always.

13: Tidy my room, and darn that big plastic bag of socks-with-holes (and the odd holes-with-sock). Mostly because neither of these was actually done in 2008.

14: Finish things. I have this tendency to leave things unfinished, no matter how interesting/engaging they were quite recently, and move onto things that are perceived as more interesting, and will foreseeably not be finished either. Like all those story ideas in that folder over there, and all the notes to yet more stories that should at least be in that folder or typed up and saved, but are instead integrated into various piles that contribute to the mess in my room (see 13). However, this list is now finished, so that's something at least.

If you've read this far, thanks for showing faith that something interesting is still coming, but since that isn't on the list I'm going to have to disappoint you. If you just skipped to the last paragraph then you deserve as much after my TLDR warning. Anyway, this post was mostly for my own benefit, although it could potentially help others make some belated resolutions (just remember Rule 19: "never forget Rule One"). On the plus side, this is a post and therefore counts towards number 3.

EDIT: you know what idiots do? They set a post about 2009 New Year's resolutions to publish at 23:00 on 01/01/08. That's pretty epic fail right there. I hope your blog readers could cope. And the only reason this paragraph is small is so that it doesn't detract from the impact of the last paragraph. Honest.