Too Easy?

•December 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

With WoW celebrating their 5th anniversary there has been a lot of talk recently of old game versus new game.

Here are some of my thoughts on their thoughts.

I hear “the game is too easy now” often in podcasts and on blogs. A class I took in university taught me about the bell curve. Roughly stated picture a wave in the ocean (sort of an upside down capital “U” shape). The curve shows on the vertical axis the number of people in our example. Now think of IQ to be assigned to the curve. Most people are of average intelligence and fit at the top of the curve. There are fewer geniuses in the world and so the graph to the right of the peak drops off as the number of people with higher and higher IQs decrease.

Now replace IQ in the above example with WoW players likely to see all content. Few of us finished vanilla WoW having downed Nefarion in Blackwing Lair. Just as true, few of us finished vanilla WoW still in a starting zone. Most players finished vanilla WoW at the top of the bell curve doing Blackrock Spire and the like.

We all pay our $15 per month but less than 25% ever saw previous endgame content. Blizzard has been working to artificially adjust that bell curve to allow more people to see endgame raid content since BC came out; to the point now that we are no longer need attunements and 40 people to work on an instance.

So who cares? Well, the majority of wow players do (or so Blizz probably hopes). If Blizz spends a large chunk of change developing an area to only have 10% of the player base to actually play, they are alienating the majority of players. I’m sure Blizz is less concerned with pissing off the 5% of players on either end of the curve than with the other 90% of their player base.


Paid Faction Change

•August 25, 2009 • 2 Comments

I posed a question at Blog Azeroth last month asking if, given the opportunity, players would change faction.  It has been made this week’s Shared Topic.

I have found a guild populated with some very friendly players who let me be casual while still letting me tag along to do content I otherwise wouldn’t see.  I don’t see myself moving far at this point, but I’m not opposed to the idea of faction change.  I have a mid-level horde mage on a role play server that is in a fantastic guild.  I haven’t played her for a long time, but the forum community she comes from still welcomes me.  What’s stopping me from moving my mage to alliance or my priest to horde?

Could this cause an imbalance in the Alliance/Horde numbers on each server and battlegroup?  The most likely direction for most switchers is Alliance to Horde.  While percentages of switchers would ultimately be the same, a larger Alliance population could mean a larger Alliance switch.  One percent of 7 million Alliance works out to be more people than one percent of 4 million Horde.  If anything, faction changes could actually better balance.

Moving Nigiri over to an RP server may have some implications.  Should I try to include this change in my back story and, if so, how?  The author of the Awakenings in Progress blog wrote a well thought out role play take on faction changes:  I’m Undercover.  With a little creativity, a story could be written for anyone.

But, on the subject of moving Nigiri (Alliance) over, is the question of economy.  I know that prices for items are higher on the Horde side (for the most part) since there are fewer Horde getting drops and crafting items.  I could easily buy out some crafting mats and hard to get items prior to switching and then reap the rewards!  Actually, this idea is a bit faulty too.  If I was the only one allowed to faction change, it might work.  Since everyone who moves could be doing the same thing, however, a lower priced economy would quickly follow across the board and few, if any, would get rich.

It will be interesting to see how Blizzard is going to implement this.  There are questions about mounts, reputations and faction specific quests that will need to be answered and issues ironed out.

Would I move Nigiri.  We’ll see.  It will be a while before this feature become available.  A lot can change in a few months.

How to be Alliance

•July 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Spinks over at Spinksville posted a list titled “How to be Horde” in keeping with the Blog Azeroth shared topic.  I thought it only fitting to counter his list with mine.

  1. Help Abercrombie get his wife Eliza back, only to realize you were vastly underpowered for what was about to come your way.
  2. Kill Ragnaros or Onyxia with no Shamans in the raid.
  3. Get killed by a Horde rogue while trying to access the flighmaster in Duskwood.
  4. Fall off the Stonewrought Dam in Loch Modan on the Wetlands side.  Splat!
  5. Fall onto the mesh covered lava in Ironforge.
  6. Jump off the Great Lift in the Barrens after realizing you couldn’t take the guard out.
  7. Visit every Alliance settlement; including the Stonetalon Peak.
  8. Win any BG in a PUG that isn’t Alterac Valley. It’s possible, but not probable.
  9. Get killed by a Mangy Wolf in Elwynn Forest.
  10. Run your Night Elf from Auberdine to Menethil to Ironforge at level 10.
  11. Get stared down by Lady Prestor (Onyxia in desguise) in the Stormwind Keep.
  12. Defend Southshore from an attack.
  13. Realize after you have done it once, that the Aldor tier in Shattrath is too high to jump from.
  14. Eventhough you outnumber Horde 3:1 on the server, you still get ganked to tears in Stranglethorn Vale.
  15. Do the VanCleef chain in Westfall.
  16. Get the For the Alliance achievement by joining a raid to kill the Horde leaders.
  17. See Wrathgate from the Alliance perspective and raid Undercity as a memorial to Fordragon.   Vengeance is ours!
  18. Unleash Stitches in Duskwood and then get killed by him.
  19. Escort a lot of Human Marshals to safety. It is just me or does there need to be a better training program for Stormwind soldiers?
  20. Mock Night Elves dancing on the bridge in their underwear in Ironforge especially if they are male.
  21. Hide your Gnome mage beneath a Tauren in a battleground without him/her seeing you.
  22. Get your free fishing rod from the Alliance only quest in Auberdine.
  23. Wonder why you can’t skin the Taurens that you kill.
  24. Participate in a level one raid on Hogger and die less than 5 times.
  25. If you’re a Gnome, being Alliance means knowing your home city will forever be a painfully long instance that no one will ever want to run.
  26. Go back to Raven Hill and teach Mor’ladim that it’s not nice to gank level 17s from halfway across the zone (over and over again) when your13 levels higher and elite.
  27. Try to invade Tarren Mill and see the massive numbers of deathguards that appear out of nowhere. That’ll teach us.
  28. You know you’re Alliance when you realize it’s faster to swim from Feathermoon Stronghold to the mainland than it is to take the boat.
  29. Check out the settlement at the Bulwark for the first time. Ya, those are horde.
  30. Defeat the Horde quest-giver Blightcaller while fending off Horde toons.
  31. See people cybering in the deeprun tram. (Spinks)
  32. Fall off [Telredor] in Zangarmarsh. (Spinks)
  33. Bitch about Staghelm (is he the most annoying NPC in the game? could be…) (Spinks)
  34. Watch the Onyxia battle in the Stormwind Keep begin just as a 20-29 bracket Battlground is finished.

As with Spinks’ post, feel free to add your own suggestions and I’ll add them to the list.

Healers: What works and what doesn’t work

•June 10, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I posted a Shared Topic on the Blog Azeroth forums titled “Non-healers view of healers“.  In the real word, I’m a paramedic and I also play one in game.  I know how a healer feels about being a healer:  not normally as exciting as it might seem but when it is, it REALLY IS.

I got a lot of very similar responses to my shared topic post.  Panzercow summed up the general feeling of all the posters (Tanklikeagirl, SpinxvilleSecret Agent CatAggro Junkie  and two Rogues) “… Brother, I have no damn idea.  I love you all equally.”  As a healer, that is a good revelation to read. 

 I think I need to expand this a little bit.  Open up the discussion somewhat to be more of a “this is what works but don’t do that” kind of post.

What Works:

I use a lot of addons.  Some for shadow spec, some for my other toons and the vast majority for healing.  By far, the most handy is Grid and a few addons that add functionality to Grid.  By itself, Grid adds raid frames to your screen.  They are fully customizable to show or not show, adjust the sizes and adjust what’s shown.  Inside each frame, is the toon’s name and various markers that show health, mana, aggro, healing being done, etc… by default.

Search “Grid” at Curse Gaming, however, and you will get a large number of addons that assist Grid.  GridStatusShield, for example, allows me show within each raid frame who currently is shielded – a handy visual for a Discipline Priest.  By choosing carefully, I have added notifications for certain debuffs, shields, HoTs, and who has Prayer of Mending active.  Over time, I have whittled them down to show exactly what I need to see.

Grid’s option list was very daunting, but after I played with it for a while I found it easy to configure.

Grid shines even more when used with some mouseover healing macros.  All of my healing spells (Renew, Flash Heal, Penance, Prayer of Mending, and Power Word: Shield) have a mouseover macro associated with them which are assigned to a hot key.

/cast [target=mouseover] Penance

My right hand points the mouse over a toon in their Grid raid frame.  My left hand does double duty by moving me around while hitting buttons 1 through 5 to activate the above spell macros. 

What Doesn’t Work:

I am horribly unaware of AoE  in the room.  Some of that is in the video settings (high Spell Detail bogs my computer down in raids) and some is my inability to see my own toon while staring at raid frames.  I have zoomed the camera distance right in on my toon and it seems to help.

DPS shouldn’t be taking unnecessary risks in heroic 5 mans when it comes to threat generation; especially if you haven’t played with the other members of the group.  There is a lot to be said about burning a mob down at the end of a fight, but keep some control at the beginning.  Discipline is best when the tank gets my full attention with some spot healing for the rest of the group.

That’s my best and worst.  I’d love to hear yours.

Blog Azeroth: The Onyxia Chain

•June 2, 2009 • 4 Comments

I love seeing new content, especially questing content, for the first time.  There is an awe factor that is hard to describe when entering a new zone or seeing an instance you’ve never been to before.

The Wrath of the Lich King expansion has brought some amazing innovation to World of Warcraft.  The vehicle mechanics and some of the changes to questing are a great change from the old go get 10 goat brains and bring them back to the quest giver that we had in the past.

There is a lot to be said for vanilla WoW however.  An Alliance member going to Westfall for the first time and working on one of the first important story arc quest chains leading up to the Deadmines (see Deconstructing Westfall by Belghast from Tales From the Aggronaut). 

My favorite quest chain in the game, the one I see as the most epic (and painful) is the quest for the Drakefire Amulet – orginally the attunement for going to fight Onyxia.  In vanilla WoW, if you wanted to fight Ony, the whole raid needed to be attuned.  Here is a breakdown of the 15 quests needed to be attuned on the Alliance side.

First, comes  Dragonkin Menace. An NPC in Burning Steppes, Helendis Riverhorn, directs you to do your basic kill-type quest of dragonkin and a dragon.  The catch:  some of the mobs are elite.  Take a friend and get on it.

Next you move on to the first of a number of message delivery quests:  The True Masters .  In the first part, you travel from Burning Steppes to Lakeshire to deliver a letter to Magistrate Solomon.  In the next The True Masters sends you from Lakeshire to Stormwind Keep to talk to Highloard Bolvar (where you meet and ‘talk to’ Lady Prestor – some foreshadowing here, but I don’t want to ruin it at this point).  Now back to Lakeshire in this part of  The True Masters followed by a return to Morgan’s Vigil in the Burning Steppes to chat with Marshal Maxwell ( The True Masters ).

Just when you thought message delivery boy/girl duty was done, the final part of  The True Masters  sends you into the Burning Steppes to find and speak to someone named Ragged John.

Seems pretty non-epic up to this point really.  Instances make it a bit more exciting, but with a bigger margin of pain in the butt.  Ragged John sends you into Blackrock Depths to find Marshal Windsor .  This is an instance quest you can start at level 54.  Go with friends and if you have any patience at all you will wait until you are higher level than 54.  Marshal Windsor is located in the prison section of this very large instance near the beginning.  You’ll have to have someone who has the key which requires you to kill a boss-type NPC or a rogue might do nicely.

Marshal Windsor tells you to leave the instance (and him in his cell??) to tell Marshall Maxwell what you have learned – again (Abandoned Hope ). 

Oddly, Marshal Maxell has no followup quest for you.  Nothing.  This is an oddly ended questline – or is it?

When you journey back into BRD (lucky that you just happened to go back with another – hopefully the same – instance group) you will randomly find A Crumpled Up Note on one of the Dark Iron Dwarves you kill.  The ensuing quest has you return to Marshal Winsdor who, since he dind’t want to leave his dank cell before, is still in the prison.   Are you ready to break him out yet?  Well, he isn’t ready.

It’s time to get some lost information for Windsor dropped by General Angerforge and Golem Lord Argelmach deeper in BRD for A Shred of Hope .

Ok, finally Marshal Windsor wants out and the true epicness of this chain begins.  In order to stage this Jail Break! , you need to clear all the mobs out of what will be his path.  Remember this quest is designed for level 58 and is described as elite.  You’ll need a good group and some patience to pull this one off.  Make sure your tank and healer is ready since groups of mobs will spawn in your path hence the reason you need to clear what you can clear.  You can’t heal Windsor and he pulls a fair amount of aggro.  This quest can cause problems at the beginning and at the end from a mechanics point of view.  Since it’s a group quest and it’s likely that you whole group needs it, be careful that no one begins the quest before everyone has turned in the previous one to him.   If you haven’t turned in the previous quest before Jail Break starts, you will not get credit.  At the end, Windsor stops just before the portal entrance.  If you try to follow him and accidentally port out, you will not get credit.  This happened to a person in my party on every character I did this chain on no matter how much they were warned before we started.

Jail Break is the point that will decide if you will continue with the chain.  It used to take a while to find a group capable to do it without causing you personal permanent brain damage. 

<Start old man voice> When I was young, the Trade Channel was bloated with people looking for groups for Jail Break.  You couldn’t swing a dead murloc without hitting someone who needed to do that escort quest. <End old man voice> 

In the vanilla WoW days, it was suggested that you do all the parts with Marshall Windsor at the same time with the same group.  Set aside 4 or more hours (no lie) and get them all done.  You leave Windsor and go talk to Maxwell at Morgan’s Vigil.

The next part of this chain is the beginning of awesome for me.  During Stormwind Rendezvous (Raid) you meet up with Windsor at the entrance to Stormwind as he rides in from Elwynn Forest on his horse.  Interesting mechanic done by Blizzard on this one.  How does Windsor know you need to see him there?  How does he know when you’re ready to talk to him?  It’s set up so that a short time after you zone into Stormwind,  either by griffon or by land, Windsor knows to spawn and wait for you. 

From the gates of Stormwind, you ‘escort’ Windsor to Stormwind Keep for The Great Masquerade (raid) .  As you follow him along the roads of Stormwind, he will stop to talk to General Marcus Johnathan.   Some posturing happens here and eventually you will continue to follow him to the keep.  Windsor makes his way in to the keep and speaks to (read yells at) Highlord Bolvar Fordragon about Lady Prestor standing to Bolvar’s left.  Windsor reads some rune he has with him and Lady Prestor turns into a large black dragonkin – Onyxia!  The first time I saw this and what happens next I was awestruck.  The whole room jumps into action.  Feel free to try to help, but don’t pull aggro.  At level 60, you will die very quickly.  Some of the guards turn into dragonkin and a semi-scripted battle ensues that finds Windsor dead and Fordragon very angry.

In the next stage, The Dragons Eye , Bolvar will give you a medallion to take to an NPC named Haleh in Winterspring. You must find an NPC named Haleh.  Take a group, or get naked for a corpse run through a cave of elites to a portal near the end.   Step on the blue mark on the ground and be teleported to Haleh.

Haleh tells you to retreive the Blood of the Black Dragon champion from General Drakkisath in Bupper Blackrock Spire for the quest Drakefire Amulet

<Start old man voice>  When I was a little boy, General Drakkisath only dropped one blood per run.  If someone ninja’d it, you would get to run UBRS again and again for yours … AND YOU LIKED IT! <End old man voice> 

Remember that ‘in the old days’, UBRS was a minimum of 10 people, but you could do it with 15.  Fifteen people potentially all looking for the only blood that will drop.  The math needed to devise the probability of how many runs it would take to get your blood if you were in a group of 14 other different people each run is beyond my willingness to calculate.  Luckily, Blizzard realized the sheer number of monitors that were being punched due to this and upped the number of blood dropped to between 2 and 4 per run later in the game.

Think you’re done?  No, you forgot about the corpse run back to Haleh to turn in the quest.  Get going, it’s epic.

I Feel Like a Priestard.

•May 26, 2009 • 5 Comments

Ahh, the discipline priest.  Power Word: Shield and Divine AegisPenance and Prayer of Mending.  The tools are all there for a discipline spec’d priest to work their mojo with some heals and some damage mitigation.  

Nigiri is Naxx 10 man geared for the most part (in her healing gear) and I know how to create a macro and assign hot keys.

Why then do I feel so useless lately in raids when healing with Nigiri?  

The main healer (resto druid) for our guild has numbers that dwarf mine (no pun intended).   I have come to the conclusion that he is an amazing healer, but has been dpsing a lot lately.  The last Naxx run we did made me continue to question my ability to raid heal.

With three pug members (a hunter, druid and priest) we did not too bad with the four wings.  Some minor issues, but all the bosses easily down.  To make a long story short, we ran into trouble on  Kel’Thuzad.

The Kel’Thuzad fight was different that I remembered it.  In phase 1, the adds around the outside usually make their way into the middle slowly.  The ranged and melee dps take them out as needed.  Any of you who have been healers know that when you heal during this phase, you build up threat on all the adds still on the outside edge of the room.  In the normal pace of the fight, the tank can easily pick up an add before they have made it to the healers.  For reasons that weren’t initially clear to me, the adds were coming in groups of 3, 4 and 5 at a time last night.  My guild is more than capable to handle this kind of add rush, but only if we know it’s coming.  The adds rushed in haphazardly.  It turns out that the druid and priest pug members we brought in were purposely (?) pulling in extras.  The priest had switched to disc since our pally healer need to go to bed and Holy Fire doesn’t cast itself on adds.  The druid would run out of the centre and bring three abominations back with him.  One or two of them would hit me and me or the other healer were dead … or there would be between 4 and 10 adds to deal with at the end of phase 1 when we would have to pick up Kel’Thuzad.  A few people would die and it would be over. 

I know I’m too busy looking at health bars to see I’m standing in a Shadow Fissure or I’d die while being ice blocked by Frost Blast.   I know I’m a bit of a ‘tard when it comes to watching where I’m standing but after our last attempt with the pug’ers I was surprised by a comment from the druid.  He very briefly, but succinctly explained to me that it was my fault that we couldn’t do it.  If I could learn to stay alive (remember my healing threat on the adds), there wouldn’t have been a problem.

The three pug members left after the 7th attempt.  I figured we were going to call it a night since my guildies were furious with the pulling of extra adds.  After hearthing to Dalaran, I learned we were trying again with a regular warlock we raided with and a few other pug members. 

One attmept.  That’s all it took.  Kel’Thuzad down.

This seems pretty straight forward but why do I feel so useless?  Am I still too hardwired not to be able to ignore recount numbers at the end of fight?  I am hesitant to follow my guild into Ulduar (though I’ve have been a few times so far).  I think I need to see a gaming shrink.  Get my virtual reality gamer meta personality’s self esteem up somehow. 

If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Fifty vanity pets later and I’m Stinky

•October 28, 2008 • Leave a Comment

After finishing the Becoming a Parent quest to get her Sprite Darter Egg, Nigiri only needed one more pet for the Shop Smart, Shop Pet…Smart achievement.

Thanks heavens for the fishing daily.  I’ve been trying for weeks to get a Crocolisk Pet from the Crocolisks in the City daily.  After about eight attempts, she finally got Toothy’s Bucket and that put her up to 50 pets.

Mail from Breanni

Mail from Breanni

Before the achievement notification had finished flashing across her screen, Nigiri had above fresh mail.  Breanni is a new NPC in Dalaran that sells pet supplies.  Even though we can’t get to Dalaran yet, she has apparently heard of Nigiri’s willingness to take care of pets of all sorts.  Stinky now has a new home as her foremost pet.

Included in the mail.

Included in the mail.

I’m going to have to look up a macro to make sure Stinky is out and sniffing around as often as possible.

Me and Stinky.

Me and Stinky.