Saturday, October 25, 2008

Laundry Day

I don't have a washer and dryer in my appartment so I tend to wait as long as I can before making one big trip to the laundrymat - generally 4 weeks. I've got it down to a point where I'm in and out in under two hours. The problem is... I was planning on doing laundry last Sunday but I ended up being so sick I could barely get out of my chair and I felt exactly the same way on Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I still had remnants of whatever was affecting me so I just went straight home after work. By Thursday I was feeling better but, eh... I'd made it that far. Why not just wait for the weekend, right?

So here I sit at the laundrymat in (what passes for) the bad part of town (in Vermont). The tiles are cracked. The washers are old and dented. The regulars have some opinions about which dryers to use and which ones to avoid. The ceiling tiles are stained and there's fly walking on the cover of the flourescent light above me. On the other hand, it's relatively cheap and, at the moment, it's empty except for me.

What surprises me, however, is the number of wireless signals I'm getting in this part of town. I'm getting no fewer than 10 signals right now. What surprised me even more is how many of them are secured. Only two aren't and of those, one has too weak a signal to connect to and the other one is only connecting at 1-2 mbps. I can't play WoW, but I _can_ make a blog entry.

My latest WoW projects have been getting Hiahotah the "Guardin of Cenarius" title - not because he needs another title but it seems like a very druidy thing to do and because of the amount of work I've already done - and getting Hoban a "the Hallowed" title.

Hiahotah is already exalted with the Cenarion Expedition because I wanted to get the Earthwarden. I did that by getting in every Steam Vault run our guild ever did for a number of months. When that wasn't enough, I single pulled the slaves in the hallway before the bridge to the second boss in Steam Vault for hours... About 8 of them, I'd say. At 12 rep per mob and with an average of around one Coilfang Armament per reset... It was excruciating. (Hold on... Time to move the laundry...)

OK... I'm back. Sorry about that. While it's totally awesome that I can still fit in clothes I wore 15 years ago and with the changes in my body, a lot of the more cavernous articles now look less clownish... 5 weeks worth of laundry... There's a _lot_ of it. But I digress... Where was I? Oh yeah... Guardian of Cenarius.

However, when I looked at his Cenarion Circle rep, Hiahotah wasn't even half way through Friendly. It makes for a long haul. I know because I've done that grind before. Back in the day, we were running AQ20 a lot and I really wanted the sword you could get 1) if you got the drop and 2) you were exalted with Cenarion Circle. So for weeks, I ran silithyst dust. If the Alliance controlled Silithus, it was because I had made the run about 190 times that day. I ground Twilight Cultists by the hundreds. I collected hundreds of texts. And I _got_ to exalted... And the drop came. It was between me and a druid. When he found out that I'd gotten to exalted with CC, he let me have it. A pretty mature attitude for a 13 year old.

So I got my sword... And I got it enchanted and I went out and even leveled my sword skills for a bit - I was that excited... Until it got replaced about 3 weeks later with a staff from later in AQ20. Typical.

So I thought about the grind a little and decided to see how I liked it at 70. I did a few quests. I tried the combat quests and those just weren't worth the time. So I went back to just grinding cultists. While they doubled the rep gained per mob from 1 to 2, the big improvement to the rep grind is that you now get 500 rep per encrypted text turn-in - up from 100. If you happen across the Twilight prophet (who is a lot easier to solo as a level 70 feral druid than with a level 60 fire mage), that's 7 to 10 texts right there. The cultists die in a couple of mangles. And with feline Feral charge, closing the gaps between them is faster. In just a few hours, I've gotten to 4k/21k to exalted. I might be able to do that by the end of the weekend.

As for Hoban the Hallowed... That was a quirk of the RNG. I won a roll on the helm and got the squashling as a drop from trick or treating. I'd already downed the Headless Horseman so from there it was mostly a question of flying to every inn in Azeroth and getting people to hit me with the wands. I hit up all the candy buckets and just with the people who were on last night, I got all but the ninja wand. When they remove the objective to collect one of each mask as a requirement for the title, I'll just have one wand left for the title. Someone in the guild will have it.

And now my laundry is "dry" (or at least what passes for dry here) so it's time to fold it and go home... Maybe I'll try to get into a Kara raid this afternoon. We'll see.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow... Just... Wow.

I was so worried that the game would change radically and I be lost of fall behind or something. Boy was I wrong... And right. The 3.0.2 patch was just what I needed. I'd been just marking time until Wrath of the Lich King and... Boom!!! All kinds of fun goodness dropped right in my lap. I've been playing almost non-stop since. There's all kinds of new, fun things to do - including but not limited to:

1) Playing a paladin: For years people have made fun of me because I had two paladins and how boring they are. Who's laughing maniacally now, bitches!!! Retribution got so many buffs that paladins are the "it" class right now. I did a WSG and someone said "Oh good. We've got 3 paladins. We're going to tear shit up" (his words, not mine) and that we did. Ret has become such luscious burst damagey fun that I can't play my paladins enough (nor can other people. I've seen 5 on a side in WSG and 12 in AV). I just want to go and smash things. I like watching rogues run away (or even help me quest just so I don't turn on them and squash them like the bugs that they are). I like seeing a warlock and thinking I can kill him. I like destroying warriors... And huntards... They're the best. Making them go splat while they flail away with their clumsy little toy weapons.

But seriously... The first day, my Alliance server came up first so I took that paladin on a tour of Stormwind harbor (that place is magnificent by the way... those dwarves have been busy... And there's now a way to get from Stormwind to Darnassus that _doesn't_ involve a run through level 20-27 contested territory. /cry) and tried out ret. I did the two Skettis dailies and later told my horde guild: If you see a ret paladin, you do what we do... You run. I was still clumsy at it but... Damn... Things just die so quickly and I don't lose mana because of replenishment and judgement of wisdom. If something _does_ live long enough (and between Crusader Strike, Judgement, Divine Storm and Hammer of Wrath, very few things do) to do damage, I get an instant cast flash of light often enough to keep me at full health. It's obscene...

So I've been PvPing up a (divine) storm. It's just too fun. I know the nerf bat is coming so I'm enjoying it while I can... On both of my paladins. Words elude me for how fun it is. I can walk up to another character and do 12k of damage before they are really even aware that something is hitting them. Each has earned enough honor to pick up a couple of pieces of Merciless Gladiator's gear and I soloed a mob in Botanica on my Alliance paladin(and on my Alliance mage) so I could fill out the rest with the blue gear.

2) Karazhan: After the patch, people were on and interested in trying out their fancy new 51 point talents - myself among them. I was also worried about how much my armor was being nerfed. It turns out that the armor on PvP gear was not lowered and since I used 4 pieces of PvP gear to tank in, I was almost completely unaffected. I lost about 5.5k armor but it's a lot less than I thought it would be. With swipe affecting more than 3 mobs, Hiahotah is a tank tank tank tank tanking machine. The 8 pulls of mage killers in the ballroom? Didn't lose a single one of them. So we breezed through Opera with 8 people on one night. The next night we got all the way through to Chess and even took a look at Prince - with 9. We had 10 on Sunday night but the server crashed and was down for over an hour. Everyone left. Monday we had 10 again and we downed Prince for the first time... On our first attempt. And then we did the same with Illhoof, Netherspite and Nightbane - all guild firsts. We've cleared Karazhan - sure the mobs have 30% less health but that's never been the problem for us. It's about finding a time when 10 people are on. But those times are few and far between because people have jobs and wives and husbands and kids and... Well... You don't want to miss summer by staying inside and playing video games. There hasn't been a time in the last 5-6 months when we couldn't have done it if we'd had the time. But now that's done. And about 9 people got the "Karazhan" Achievement. Which brings me to:

3) Achievements: An interesting wrinkle. It gives you something to work towards. I've spent time just wandering around zones and getting to the one or two nooks or crannies I didn't get to and getting an Achievement out of it. I did a couple of the fishing items. I've done a few of the PvP Achievements (including the 300k damage one that I got last night during a long WSG turtle). In some ways, Achievements are ruining battlegrounds because people are selfishly doing things that, under normal circumstances, help the team but if the other team is doing the same thing, their selfish individual goals prevent us from winning - specifically trying for the "Not in My House" achievement - where you have to kill 10 flag bearers before they leave your flag room. I hated WSG before and I hate it more now. But I got my marks for the Alliance paladin's new bracers so I'm done for a while.

4) Hallow's End: As of yesterday, the Sinister Squashling and the helm can drop from trick or treating and not just from the Headless Horseman event. My horde paladin now has both of them so... I'm feeling like I should go for the "The Hallowed" title - which as of 3.0.3 will no longer require the "collect 20 masks" quest. We've also done the Headless Horseman event a few times. We all have the rings from last year but it's still a way to get the Squashling. And we _do_ have some new alts that don't have the rings and haven't got the achievement to kill him. I got to do him on my horde paladin last night and we thrashed him. He didn't even throw out pumpkins on phase 3. And then I two hand tanked him. I put on all my +dodge/parry/defense tanking gear but kept my giant epeen and beat the crap out of him to hold aggro. It worked pretty well, but I took a lot more damage than I would have if I'd worn a shield... But where's the pleasure in that.

5) Inscription: With the assistance of our resident packrat, I got my horde inscriber to 350 (the effective max level right now) but the Alliance side has required a certain amount of gathering. She's only up to 215 or so. But they can both make armor vellums so I've FINALLY been able to enchant my alts' gear. FINALLY. It's been so frustrated to have a max level enchanter all decked out in epics and alts that don't even have the most basic enchants on their gear. No more. All I need now is a spin around the Hinterlands with an herbalist and I'm good to go. I've also been trying to recoup some of my expenses so I've spent a little time at the AH.

6) Titles: Some of my characters already have titles. Hiahotah has three: Champion of the Naaru, Ambassador and Grunt. Gifteye has Lt. Commander (and is closing in on Ambassador). Kaylee has Ambassador. Touchofgrey is a Sergeant Major. But Hoban doesn't have a title. He's a few costumes and a few trips to the candy buckets of Kalimdor away from "the Hallowed". Hiahotah is exalted with CE and I could grind out the Cenarion Circle rep pretty easily. I've certainly done it before... But on a level 60 mage. As a level 70 tank, I have other options - namely completing group quests solo, summoning mini bosses and jumping that level 60 elite that drops 7-10 encrypted texts every time I see her - not to mention popping my head into AQ20 to try to solo some of the early trash pulls. I'm proud of the Champion of the Naaru title, but the Guardian of Cenarius also seems fitting.

There's just so much to do, I get distracted. My Alliance characters need the most love in the way of grinding and gathering, but the horde guild is considerably more active so I have been hanging out there a fair amount (including 5 trips to Karazhan in 8 days). I should really pick one goal and stick to it because as soon as the expansion comes, it's a race to 80 (with 5 70's now, not 2), rolling a death knight and then it's all the new instances... And heroics... And then Naxx-10. It will be 6-8 months before I even think about doing any of these things again.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Slow... Deep... Breaths (patch day)

It's patch day... But not just _any_ patch day... It's a major upgrade patch day. As in going from 2.4.3 to 3.0.2. There's so much going on. 51 point talents. In game calendars. A new profession. Major changes to some mechanics that I've gotten very accustomed to. Breathe, big fella... Breathe.

This is my second major version change since I started playing WoW. The first one wasn't that big a deal because I'd only been playing for about 9-10 months and because there weren't any major changes in the class that I played. Now I've been playing for almost three years. I have two max level mages, two paladins and a druid (and now a level 64 rogue and a level 60 druid... And a level 52 priest... And that's just the characters I play). I'm set in my ways and there are major, major changes happening:

1) Spell damage and healing are all being rolled up into spell power. This will change some of my tanking gear on my paladins.
2) Spell hit and melee hit are just becoming hit. This can only help my paladins...
3) Druid armor is being reduced considerably. The multiplier is going from 400% to 370% and a lot of gear is being re-itemized to reduce armor and increase stats like stamina and agility. I've read in one place that PvP gear is not having the armor lowered. I use at least 2 pieces of PvP gear already and have lots more I could switch in so I may be good there. But it's still a big change. I may more than make up for that in damage reduction from the Protector of the Pack talent. Time will tell.
4) Druids will be uncrittable with talents. That means I don't need any more +defense gear... Nor do I need +defense gems. I can replace those with agility now I guess. Or +hit I guess.
5) Inscription. I'm going to need to spend some time leveling that... I've got two toons pegged for that and some herbs stored up. It will take a few more runs around lowbie areas to get to respectable levels but at least I should be able to send enchants to alts... Which means I can put +spell power enchants on my paladins' weapons. FINALLY!!!
6) The health of raid mobs is going to drop by 30% or so. That means we're going back into Kara. And the night people are free is... Tonight.
7) 51 point talents. Berserk is looking like a lot of fun (so is Rocket Kitteh...). But I haven't even looked at the 51 point talents for paladins or mages... Or rogues or priests... Gah...
8) Swipe hits an unlimited number of targets. That should be great for holding threat on big pulls... Hello non-elite 8 pulls in Karazhan that kill the mage every time (... that I don't bring my paladin).
9) MASSIVE changes to the paladin seal/judgement/blessing system. I haven't even thought about that one.

There are many, many more changes. Too many to list here. I'm getting a headache just thinking about it. Plus I'm having a little angst. What if Hiahotah suddenly becomes... Less overpowered as a tank. People are counting on me to start tanking things again. What if I start letting them down? What if I stumble with the new talents for the next few days?

And I'm trapped here at work... Not that I could log on yet but... I'm trying to concentrate on remapping user printers to the new print cluster when my head is swimming with new information. I'm nervous and excited at the same time...

At least the patch is installed and ready to go. 2.5 hours to go...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Know your enemy: rogue II

Ugh... Just... Ugh.

I went through all the trouble of posting how to shred a rogue as a feral druid and... Ugh. Now I certainly don't expect _anyone_ to read this... But... COME ON!!! I mean... REALLY!!!

Which is to say... So there I was - just minding my own business doing the "Now that we're friends" quest in Zangarmarsh on a level 62 Alliance rogue. I was at half health and had a level 64 melee naga on me when I got jumped by a level 65 horde druid. It happens, right? It's what they do.

Anyway... Back to the story. He did the pounce, shred stuff that you should do to open and got me down to just a few hundred health before the pounce wore off. I'm a goner... But I have to play it out, right?

So... Just as the stun is wearing off, he pops out of cat form and moonfires me.... Moonfire? Seriously? Of all the tools in your arsenal, that's the one you choose? Great googly moogly that was stupid. I managed to gouge him (I appeared to have finished off the mob AND looted it) and sprint off.

Now it's possible that this is my fault for not mentioning this, but rogues get tons of health potions from pickpocketing. They pop them like candy. So that's what I did. Now I've got enough health to ride out the moonfire and as soon as it ended, I stealthed... Not even vanish... Stealth. I was out of combat, after all... And I took a hard right and watch that rimnod run right on by.

SHAME!!! SHAME SHAME SHAME!!! You have embarassed everyone who ever played a druid. The single most important thing you can do to a rogue - particularly before 66 when they get cloak of skill - is hit them with FAERIE FIRE!!! God damn it... Do I have to tell you EVERYTHING???!?!?!? TWICE??!?!?!?

Faerie Fire, feral or normal (and he went to caster form to moonfire me so... that was an option), lowers armor AND PREVENTS THE VICTIM FROM STEALTHING. So here's how that _should_ have gone:

1) You pounce and shred. Good. Excellent. Maybe throw in a rake for the extra DoT, but on the whole, a solid opener.
2) You hit me with faerie fire.
3) I gouge you and sprint away.
4) Gouge wears off and you dash after me. After dash wears off, you go into cheetah form and close the remaining distance - particularly if I stop to mount up.
5) Win.

But no... Moonfire. /cry

Friday, October 10, 2008

Sweet Dreams

So... Here's the thing... I was playing my Alliance paladin the other day and he got a lockbox as a drop. Normally, that's not a problem, but this one required 325 lockpicking to open. So I had a choice. I could either start spamming trade chat with "LF rogue with at least 325 lockpicking. Will tip!!" or open it myself. I'd hate to pay some rogue to give me access to something "of the whale" so I opted for opening it myself.

Just one small problem: My rogue was only level 51 and to get 325 lockpicking, you have to be at least level 65... But it's the pre-exansion doldrums so I figured "What the hell?". So I started plowing through the levels. With a 1.5 level rested bonus, decreased level sizes and increased quest XP (and work and sleep), I didn't hit the end of my rested bonus until well into level 60. Somewhere along the line, I picked up the daily battleground quest for AV.

So I tried that a few times at level 59 and 60. It turns out that the Alliance is as bad at level 51-60 AV as they are good at 61-70. Most of it is a lack of participation. So I sat on the quest... And as soon as I got to 61, I was at the battlemaster in Shattrath and joining the queue.

Alterac Valley at level 61 isn't all that much fun - even as a rogue. You're not fooling anyone. They see you coming a mile away even when you're stealthed. Unless...

They're distracted by something else. So after one of my frequent deaths (if I can get off a cheap shot, before I'm killed, it was a good run), I rezzed back at the Stormpike Aid Station. Deadly Boss Mods indicated that the South Bunker would cap in about 2 minutes. So I went there and stealthed. Tabbing around, I targeted a level 70 rogue at 37% health. He was targeting a level 70 warrior so I walked to the upper level and looked for him. I got him with a Cheap Shot and then a backstab. He died shortly thereafter (I assume the warrior caught up to him) and we re-took the bunker.

Afterward, the warrior said (something along the lines of): "rogues are such bullshit." and then "no offence" (yes... with a c). I whispered back: "None taken. I hate rogues. I only play mine ironically". It turns out that the rogue had been sapping, stunning, sapping, gouging, blinging, sapping and otherwise stunning the warrior for almost the entire time the south bunker had been "contested".

My point? None really. But last night I had a dream (it's rare that I have WoW dreams. That's why this stuck out) that I came across a rogue who was obviously AFK and thought he was safe because he was stealthed and I ganked him. It was a happy, joyful dream. One I hope to realize (again) some day.