Posts Tagged ‘World of Warcraft’

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Drooooood Lewwwwwwt (aka Druid Halion Loot)

July 14, 2010

Focusing on kitteh and tree stuff, as those are my two specs =D
10-man gear

Changeling Gloves N and Changeling Gloves H
Resto Gloves =) Has both haste and crit. What’s not to love? Plus they let you save your Frosties for tier as they are a little better for resto druids than the frost badge option but remember, T10 gloves are still better in the long run.

Abduction’s Cover N and Abduction’s Cover H
Resto cloak is the same as the Greatcloak of the Turned Champion off Deathbringer Saurfang. Which, through some sort of idiotic reasoning by the ever so fickle Fates, it has been determined that it shall never drop for my druid, but always will been seen on runs with my priest. grr.

Gloaming Sark N and Gloaming Sark H
RAWR kitteh! Better than the 251 tier chest.

25-man gear

Sharpened Twilight Scale N and Sharpened Twilight Scale H
Kitteh trinket. Be prepared to arm wrestle the other misguided and obviously non-cat-respecting melee for this. Its one of the best kitteh trinkets in the game.

Signet of Twilight N and Signet of Twilight H
Kittehs wear rings and this is one you will want. Most people can’t see these beauties gracing our paws under all the gorgeous fur and the deadly sharp claws.

Umbrage Armbands N and Umbrage Armbands H
Never seen a Toskk’s Maximized Wristguards drop for your precious cat? Me either. This should help even the odds a bit for my suffering brethren in fur.

Phaseshifter’s Bracers N and Phaseshifter’s Bracers H
Dead sexy. All i gotta say. Trees everywhere bloomed and made fruit the day Blizzard decided to gift Azeroth with these pretties.

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She cant be serious?

April 19, 2010

Every time a new Spiritual Guidance article comes out, I rush over to WoW.com full of hope that there is something interesting and informative being published. But lately, that joy is tarnished into wondering if the author has gotten the facts right on yet another rehash of the same old priest mash. Unfortunately, it’s not showing any signs of changing for the better. =(

This time the latest how-to article for Priests is aimed at mediocre min-maxxing as the most practical ways to spec in late Xpac content like ICC. To be fair, Dawn always posts a disclaimer that some people may see things differently than she does or remember things in a different way. But one teeny line saying “YMMV” doesn’t give a proper journalistic neutral tone to a gigantic post about the way she states the priest class works. I am not sure if its her absolute statements about “how things are” or her over-confidence and then missed marks on theory-crafting, but I rarely see eye to eye with the way she presents the priest class.

Call me cranky, but I think after so many months of this she’d start learning how to not make so many absolute statements and start accepting that this game and the class is more complex than most people have time to sift through. Her job is to explain things and give us insight – not dumb it down and get it wrong. Most topics presented in the Spiritual Guidance column seem like unusual interpretations of threads long ago discussed on Plusheal.com or strange histories that don’t jive with the way most of us old timers remember things. I am not sure how she can get things wrong when most of what she is writing about has already been blogged to death on most other Healing sites.

Some of the best content she has published is clear in her great sense of humor. She is wonderful about making jokes and creating cool names for the Disc Healer. That, in and of itself is why I keep coming back. I really really *want* to like her. Unfortunately, some of the worst is bragging about her gear score, links to her personal blog, and “follow me” links for her twitter.

I’d like to see something new, not another regurgitation of the same old same old grabbed hastily from various websites that the community already reads. Fact checking, and making sure what you post is mathematically accurate and plausible is a nice step too. I also wish I had more strength of limb and life and had the energy to cheerfully and politely give a counter point to what I see as the worst interpretations she presents as facts. But I can’t. I only have so much time, so much energy and so much patience. My health comes first.

Its getting annoying Dawn. Please start making sense.

* Added on 4/20/2010 while researching more about Dawn, in an effort to understand her better, I came across this post between her and zusterke this morning. this shows the girl has her stuff together. Now.. the question remains, how do we get her to show she knows what she knows in her column.

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Lord of the Rings Online – my perspective

April 15, 2010

    We can not get out. They have taken the Bridge and the Second Hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there. The pool is up to the wall at the Westgate. The Watcher in the water took Óin. We can not get out. The end comes. Drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.” ~ Ori, Book of Mazarbul

If you think that the above quote is exciting, then you already have an idea about how you will feel the minute you step into the game. From the very first “how to play” newbie tutorial, Lord of The Rings Online throws you into the role of a hero and lands you deep into the action right away. I loved how the makers of the game wed you to the lore and the storyline so quickly. Typical newb quests, such as killing ten goblins doesn’t seem so redundant when you are doing it to save your town from a second invasion like the one you just lived through.

I started off with a recommended starter character on Silverlode and was really happy with the ease that I picked up the game play. I absolutely loved the fact that they made a main healing class, the Minstrel, one of the easiest to learn. I quickly rolled a cool Elf Minstrel and ran around in pure bliss delivering Jack Black style Epic Rock-n-Roll riffs to slay the evil in the land. I tried a Hobbit Hunter on Brandywine for a little while, and then went back to Silverlode for my third character, an Elf Rune-keeper. Rune-keepers are billed as an “advanced class” but I found it very easy to play. The Rune-keeper is basically a mage with hots.. yes.. heals over time spells.. i know.. its crazy.. but there it is. I envisioned the night the devs came up with this class: it had to have been conceived either at the end of a long night after a particularly successful office party, or perhaps on some zen hippy retreat designed to inspire creativity through herbal brownies. I mean its crazy cool… its a freaking MAGE WITH HOTS for crying out loud. OMGZ… its wonderful and fun and enhances survivability in crazy situations. Which.. if you read on, you will see happens sometimes.

One of the coolest things about this game is, early on, is that its hard to get killed as a low level player if you are doing things the way you are supposed to. Many people make it to level 15 and beyond without dying once, and they even hand out titles every five levels to encourage the mini-competition. I made it to 16 on my Mini before Strider killed me in a group instance (I didn’t know it was for groups only – I may have been so giddy about meeting Strider I may have skipped reading some of the quest text), and I got to 12 on my Rune-keeper before a random questor died with a string of mobs chasing him out of some ruins. The evil Goblins chasing the now-dead player turned back and spotted me trying to squeeze by. I think I heard a “squee” of glee as they smushed me into bits. You see.. that’s one of the drawbacks to this game. Hostile NPC’s in the leveling zones don’t just tamely run back to their patrol points like they do in WoW if they aggro on something. They tend to chase you for for an unbelievably long time as you run screaming in terror across a zone. When they finally do give up and run back, if someone wanders into their return path, they take them out too. The concept gets a little painful if you try to just ride through a bunch of mobs to get to your questing area. Like most MMO’s, a player can pick up adds like velcro as they sail past them on their mount. But in LoTRO the questing zones are huge and spread out, and these mobs just don’t seem to want to give up. You can end up with a chain of a dozen mobs taking pot-shots on you if you try to blow through their turf. Same thing happens if you try to back out of a bad pull and back into a pat or a respawn. Things respawn VERY fast in this game. You will end up running half way to Bree before you get clear of them, or just end up being overwhelmed.

But us healers aren’t scared of death. We see it all the time. In fact we LAUGH in the face of death as we heal our friends to full health and save the day.. or something like that. In LoTRO death isn’t too bad either. The first time you scrubb it up and die, you get a choice of ressing right on the spot, or “retreating” a ways away to a graveyard (which is a cool circle of stones). If you choose to revive on the spot, you get a cool down that doesn’t let you do insta-revive again for a few hours. Subsequent deaths before the cool down is up send you directly to the circle of stones.

Some of the mechanics of the game are a little different and it took this WoW girl some time getting used to them. There is a glowing ring above a level appropriate quest giver’s head, and it glows a little redder if the NPC is ready to receive your quest. I found it hard to tell the difference until I got rather close, but some people have no problem with it. As well, if a NPC is a trainer or a Stable Master guy (you can rent fast transport between major areas, like the gryphons in WoW, only by land), the glowing ring is totally obscured by the square icon over their head which denotes that they are a utility NPC. Luckily there is a VERY good map system that allows you to set, or filter out Point’s of Interest (much like EQMaps addon) so you can see only quest givers or receivers in either your mini map or your main map or both. Its easy to set it up just how you like.

Aggro. You know and I know it ain’t cool. And its *ALWAYS* important to know which mobs are gonna flip out if you get near them and which ones don’t. Well, in the ten days I played this game I couldn’t figure it out. Other than “Signature” mobs, which are like micro bosses for solo questing and have a bright red outline around their nameplates and a red bar instead of a green life bar, there wasn’t any visual difference between hostile mobs and neutral mobs. Some Mobs with normal green life bars attacked me, and ones with yellow life bars sometimes did too. And they sometimes didn’t. It wasn’t easy to tell what they’d do. Generally if it was labeled “baby” or “young” bear/goblin/spider/whatever, it didn’t attack. But it sometimes could threaten to attack and if you didn’t move away fast enough. If you just stood there, it would taunt, then charge you. Oh! and the graphic when a mob went for you was rather cute.. It was this little puff of steam exploding over their head like they had just blew their top and were thinking, “That’s IT!! That hobbit’s getting a right good butt kicking!”.

That brings me to my next point. The graphics are amazing. No, really, they are. The bears really acted like bears; swimming in the rivers and standing up and sitting, etc. The trees moved slightly in the wind, and not all the leaves at the same time like a stiff solid object, but the leaves and branches flowed like wind was moving them around. I think the only graphics I wasn’t pleased with was the hair on the avatars. But since most people cover it with helmets anyway, Its kinda a wash. Another thing I should mention, on busy days when a lot of people were online, the connection for processing the data to my client was a little jittery and occasionally my camera would spin out of control and I’d find myself pointing a different direction – or worse – I once ended up with my camera pointing at the bottom side of my mount. Not a pretty sight.

Anyway, amazing graphics mean people need somewhat current computers to play this game. Which guarantees if you make it to end game raiding in LoTRO, there wont be a lot of mysterious DC’s in raid which are usually blamed on ISP’s and not ever on aging NIC’s and inferior memory cards. The UI is completely customizable and you can re size and move every element like chat screens, name plates, action bars, and warning windows, to a different place on your screen. And while its not as versatile nor convenient as many of the mods I run in World of Warcraft, it does mean that you don’t have to suffer with the type on the screen too small or the name plates on the far bleeding edges of your screen or other UI elements that people like to customize. I found the NPC selling system to be clunky and time consuming, but it was nice to be able to repair almost everywhere I went. I couldn’t access the AH or the Mail as a trial so I cant comment about that here, but I hear the AH is very pricey. A nice thing with the NPC vendors is that they let you lock items so you don’t accidentally sell things. As well, you can also sort and filter your sell-able items in your bags according to quality so you can get the bits and pieces we call vendor trash out of your bags faster. The fact that I didn’t discover this feature until about nine days into my trial is a little annoying, but not everyone is going to agree on which features are intuitive and which aren’t.

And lastly, I bring out the best point of LoTRO.. the community. With few exceptions, it seemed like a real great group of mature, serious MMO players inhabited Middle Earth. They came across to me as helpful and seemed fully engaged in the game, not hyper focused on besting each other with coolness and put downs. It was a nice change from the atmosphere that pervades WoW at times and only once or twice did I run across someone bragging about how cool they were in another game or ninjaing farming nodes and mobs. Most players seemed willing to help answer questions in chat, and when you could find enough people online, the chat channels were populated with people looking for groups to run things. I ran across lots of players with (mostly) lore-appropriate names like Linaric (the Elf Minstrel) and Miarien (Elf Rune-keeper), although there was a share of normal generic MMO names too. Didn’t see a single avatar called roflcopterpwnstarr though. Even LoTRO’s guild names seemed neat. I was impressed by the names I came across that ran the gamut from Silverlode’s famous casual guild called, “Fat Smokin’ Hobbits” to top raiding guilds named “Grey Host”. However, some days the newbie zones on the two servers on which I played were like a ghost town. On particularly lonesome days, I could hear the echoes in trade chat when someone asked a question and you’d go hours without seeing another player if you were out in the wild. While this makes for superior farming (all the lodes are mine!!) and solo questing, it sucks if you want to advance in the game past level 20 with the optimal character traits and skills. From what I was able to understand in the Lorebook, the way the LoTRO is laid out the devs keep you invested in the story by making completing the main quest line mandatory. Which, unfortunately, have group instance runs.

So, the question remains.. will I subscribe to LoTRO? Would I be willing to stop raiding in WoW to play there full time? Yes and no. I definitely will be coming back to LoTRO to play as a casual player. Even now I cant stop thinking about the game, and my trial ran out five days ago. I loved the story lines, feel entwined in the main plot and remain hopeful I can find a Kinship (Guild) that will want to help a scrubby healer with a few grouping quests and move me along in my leveling journey.

Will I leave WoW for this game when I reach level cap? At this point I can firmly say no. I will not. Although I have been told that the high level zones have more players, from what I saw in Bree and the Shire, LoTRO just doesn’t look like it has enough subscribers playing this game to make raiding on a full scale level a viable thing for me. Hardcore raiding is just as important to me as Casual-style questing and I love to fully explore every facet of the games I play. When I raid I **really** like pushing new content, getting world first titles and wiping endlessly… i mean.. ‘learning’ the fights before everyone else has written their guides and made their videos. I thrive on it to be honest. And unfortunately, I had a hard enough time meeting leveling players to chat with and make friends during my ten day LoTRO stint. Maybe I should delay the decision, but as things stand now, I cant imagine how empty things will be if I hit end game and wanted to start the gear grind in order to raid. Maybe subscriptions will pick up. Maybe the end zone areas really are dripping with awesome raiding and fellowship (groups)opportunities.

Maybe… Maybe… Maybe.

I am determined to find out ;D

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The tradition of oral story telling

April 4, 2010

Some say that if a tale didn’t reach you via the written novel, that it doesn’t rank with the greatest stories of all time. But I say, it doesn’t matter if you learn of a story in a Tolkien novel, or related to you by a great story-teller like Michael Wordsmyth, or experienced in a MMO. If a story touches your heart and stays in your mind, and changes your very soul, that my friends, is the mark of a damn good story.

The story of Pamela Redpath of Darrowshire is one such tale. Offhand, I can only think of about a dozen stories, yes, most are in books, that move me to tears and send chills down my spine every time I experience them. This is one of them.

I am of the opinion, that in the coming years, this story will become one of those stories that people refer to when they talk about things that moved them in a special way. I encourage everyone to hear this tale at least once.

.ttfn

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its heinous, but its BIS, so you wear it… and you hate yourself…

April 1, 2010

Best in Slot. Sigh.

This term means there is an item available in the game that is considered the best of what is out there for your spec or class. Sometimes its an easy choice, there is often only one trinket or bracer or whatever that is clearly tops for your avatar. Sometimes it’s not so easy to choose, as blizzard did a good job providing many choices for that slot.

Sometimes the item is a beautiful item, which graces your toon and makes it even more beautiful in your eyes. The gear delights your senses just as much as it satisfies your desire for better game play. But other times, and IMHO, far too often, it’s a rather ugly item, one that only the most competitive will begrudgingly wear, and then only because it is.. Best in Slot.

This time the ugly item is a belt. Both of the most recent belts for both tier 9 and tier 10 level gear have been hideous in my opinion. They are large and clunky, look like a pro-wrestling belt trophy, and make my avatar appear pregnant. They come off looking like she has a puffy muffin wrapped around her waist.

Sigh. It’s not pretty, but until I reach level 95, I am pretty sure I am stuck with it. >.<

Somewhere out there is an evil gaming gear graphics designer that is laughing his ass off. All the way to the bank. =P

.ttfn

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Death is defeated. At last Azeroth can breathe free…

April 1, 2010

It feels pretty nice to have gotten this achievement completed at last. Ulduar 10 man and 25man is 100% complete for me. Next goal is the Argent Defender Title which comes from Trial of the Grand Crusader’s ‘A Tribute to Dedicated Insanity’ achievement.

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Effective habits of world class guilds

March 9, 2010

Last night was another progression night on The Lich King. We hit ICC about 8pm and were up on the King’s platform by 8:20. It was a great night full of hopeful optimism. Everyone was primed. Everyone expected a quick kill. When we had left off on the Lk on Thursday, we had been successfully hitting the end of phase three and everyone was just finalizing the learning process. It seemed that all that stood in our way was perfecting Val’kyr positioning.

So, when we got up there, we learned the big change from Thursday was we had a new Main Tank learning the fight. The DK who had been respeccing  to Tank this fight cheerfully stepped aside and the Bear Tank who rolled in off vacation took his spot. I was really impressed with how fast our beloved Bear was learning the stages and positioning, and he rarely made the same mistake twice. He really is a great Tank. After about two hours of learning the ropes and other minor readjustments, it really felt like we were back on track with where we stopped last Thursday.  The Raid Leader was asked if we could take a break, but decided we didn’t need it because with a little more persistence and some luck, he felt that we’d have that fight down.

Well, as to be expected, the player base got more and more fatigued, and avoidable mistakes started happening.  For the first time we hit the end of Phase three and immediately wiped to Endless Winter and the cone shadow damage thingie (only ten of us in the raid had the kill on 10man and we were all caught off guard). Occasionally we lost key people to spell misses for Necrotic Plague. Val’kyr positioning got crazy when one of the raiders who was being helpful and marking collapse points for part of the night ran out of Elune Stones. Several people got tense as we tried to gather on the side of the middle without using any defining marks and started speaking over each other in vent to “go here” and “MOVE to the SIDE” forgetting that only they knew which “here” or “the side” they were talking about.

Well, to say the least, it was a challenging night. But I think that our experience is pretty typical of most top-end guilds and no better or worse than most. However, over the last five years of playing this game, I have met some pretty smart strategists and gamers. From conversations with these brilliant people, and from being one of the few players still around who has killed every single boss in this game and seen the same old mechanics repeated in new fights many many times over, you pick stuff up, you know? You have either seen it done or heard about it, and from running with new people on different realms you learn that there is always more than one good way to do anything.

One of the things I love about this game is it’s excellent combat structure and the ability to use your brain over brawn to complete many of the encounters. The best of the best raiders out there use as many “crutches” as possible to simplify and streamline encounters so their excellent player base can do what they do best: down the encounters FAST. So, I thought I would share some basic concepts about techniques that I have learned over my five years of raiding that would have helped last night’s raid – and might have even got us the kill we wanted last night. And yes, I offered all these suggestions to an officer before I posted these here.

Here is my list of four ideas that would have helped us kill the Lich King sooner

A) Most people know that Healers do not stack hit gear. Dispels and Cure/Abolish’s can and do miss which causes dispels to occasionally.. well.. miss. I have seen log files showing misses can happen up to 34% of the time DESPITE what people think they should do. The blue posters on the forums know about this and they gently remind us that its all part of the RNG; some fights will be better than other fights and the tooltip for Abolish Disease clearly states that the spell is an “attempt”. As well, not all spells that land on a player are level 80 spells. One of Blizzard’s little fun tricks is to have a level 83 spell land on a player, thus requiring hit gear to avoid the miss RNG. Repeating the mistake of expecting classes that aren’t hit capped to perform mission-critical dispels such as Fusion Punch on the Steelbreaker tank, removing the Mind Control in the pre-nerfed Yogg, and curing the Necrotic Plague disease the Lich King fight is leaving too much RNG to chance. While healers are fine for most dispel jobs, such as Faction Champs in ToGC, or Hodir’s Freeze, if you want a sure kill on the progression fight, raid leaders should request that hit capped DPS like a a ret pally, shaman or a shadow priest be put on that critical job. Greyson over at Fusion (a top 50 Guild) got a chuckle when I told him that most guilds don’t make anyone but healers do that job.

B) Not using raid symbols or flares or Elune Stones to mark positions on a new boss fight just makes the encounter harder for everyone REGARDLESS of skill or aptitude. Might uses them, (a top 20 Guild) and in many world first videos I see these things thrown all over the boss’s floor or floating over player’s heads or whatever. Easily seen markers are not a crutch for bad players, and regarding them as such is just simple egotism that has no place in a top end guild. Symbols and markers are put in the game to help us. They make scanning the raid and repositioning faster for excellent players, and allows the less experienced players to keep up with the rest of the raid and not hold people back due to learning curve confusion.

C) Slotting someone new, no matter how talented they are, into the most critical spot of a complex, multi-stage progression boss fight that is still being learned and expecting them to not stumble or wipe the raid as they learn the fight is not matching expectations to experience and reality. No one, no matter how great they are, can walk into a boss fight as epic as the last boss in an expansion, and perform it perfectly without a few hits and misses. Well, maybe Chuck Norris can, but real humans cant. Failing to match expectations (of a quick kill) to experience (newbie) by training the new person about the positioning and the way the mechanics work with a few attempts as DPS, or by taking them on a ten man run before launching them into your 25man progression fight, is not fair to the rest of your team. Which leads me to my next point..

D) Denying modest breaks and expecting response times and reactions to be as fresh four hours later as they were at the beginning of a night is bad leadership and somewhat neglectful of the health of your raiders and the loyalty they place in your hands. Repeating the same pattern by only allowing breaks on farm nights, and not on progression nights when top performance and raid-aware game play is super important can be detrimental to fast progression. Announce when the breaks will happen, and start raids on time. If someone is still in IF or /afk when we pull, or needs to go back to the bank because they forgot whatever, be brave and drop-them-from-the-raid. Really. You can do it, and you know what? Guild members will benefit by seeing the effort to be prepared and on-time being rewarded by being slotted for runs. Plus the guild itself will gain a reputation for being punctual that will attract raiders who are mature and responsible. I know several top 100 guilds that take 20 minute breaks on progression nights. Its the farm nights that are usually the fast get-in-kill-them-all-and-get-out sort of nights.