Completing Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest

So I just got this and it took me months:

I stopped playing WoW for a while immediately after Firelands was released. Think I was gone about 5-6 months, so we were onto the next raid when I did come back. Looking back on it I’m surprised I took a break at that particular time, considering the few things I really wanted from Firelands.  One of which was this Legendary.

Who knows if I would have gotten it when the tier was current, but I started slowly working on the lengthy quest chain at some point after I came back.  Then I stopped progressing for a long time and picked it back up again several months ago.  Every week I religiously ran Firelands, looting both mounts, Fandral’s staff, and today Dragonwrath.  I don’t care if its a bunch of pixels, it feels great to complete something I’ve worked so hard and for so long to complete.

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Highmaul LFR May Need a Tuneup

Time has a habit of playing tricks on us when we’re waiting for something to happen.  It seemed like forever since raiding started last week, yet it’s only been seven days.  What am I talking about?  Highmaul LFR, which opened up to the masses last night.  Even if only the first “wing” of it.  Despite a relatively bad experience in LFR in MoP I feel compelled to continue running LFR for gear because it could give me incrementally more power when we’re running Normal and Heroic.  At least until I replace my remaining 530/520 pieces.’

So there I was last night, waiting until after dinner to queue for LFR.  Simultaneously dreading and looking forward to the coming experience.  Dreading it because it’s night one and I remember all too well the horrible experience I walked into when SOO first opened.  That horrible experience carried on for some time, and didn’t get markedly better until later in the expansion.  But I was also looking forward to running LFR last night because of the hope for gear.  Hope springs eternal in WoW when progression is concerned.

As I sat in the queue I steeled myself for what was to come.  I told myself that as long as I did what I needed to do, things would be fine.  Well, fine as long as our tanks and healers weren’t completely terrible.  I could make up for at least another DPS or two, right?
As it turned out, I was steeling myself for naught.  Our raid leader announced in guild chat that we’d be running LFR around 8.  I think I broke records removing myself from the queue, but I don’t think I’ll worry about it next week.  Turns out LFR is so easy even a cave man can do it.  Tourist mode I believe is what Ghostcrawler called it?

About half of the raid ended up coming from the queue, but after the run last night I’m completely convinced that even a full queue raid could complete at least the first wing without any trouble what so ever.  Our two main healers were complaining on vent last night that there wasn’t anything to heal, and were letting their passive healing affects do all of the healing for them at various points.  And someone on vent commented about us ignoring fight mechanics.  So yeah, tourist mode.  Enjoy your ilvl 640 pieces everyone!

But it got me thinking that Blizzard may have tuned LFR a tad too low.  We went from one extreme to another, though “extreme” is perhaps not the best word to use in this specific circumstance.  There needs to be some level of difficulty in raiding, but there just isn’t in the part of Highmaul LFR I witnessed last night.  I’d be very much surprised if anyone wipes on those bosses, which I think, will reinforce the core problem we’ve had in LFR all along – the lack of accountability and preparation by players.

The LFR tier should be easier than the other tiers, but it should rightfully act as a preparatory tier to higher level raiding.  Players won’t learn how to properly raid if they can mostly ignore mechanics and the healers can easily keep everyone topped up.

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Who has time for alts?

At no point in the nearly 10 years I’ve been playing WoW have I not played significant amounts of time on alts; Including raiding on multiple toons.  Until now.  Warlords may be a first for me.  There is so much to do in Warlords that I am seriously considering not playing any alts, what so ever.  And by that I mean do nothing with them other than Garrisons.  And even that, on only my alts that will be profession producers for me.

Compare that to MoP and previous expansions where I had a full slate of alts running.  I didn’t raid on them all, but I think I raided on 7 different characters at some point.  Often several of them at the same time.  So why the change now?  In simple terms, I’m a completist.   I want to finish all the things.  If Blizzard introduces a rep I must level it to Exalted.  If there’s an achievement, I must complete it.  And don’t give me any of this “it’s not mandatory” stuff.  It’s in the game!

That hasn’t been much of a problem in the past, but Warlords is a bit on the grindy side.  Reputations gains are earned while leveling in each zone, but you’ll need to kill mobs to finish them each off.  There will be lots of grinding for that, but luckily I can bring my wingman in training along with me and knock out that achievement at the same time.  Don’t even get me started on Nat Pagle and Lunker fishing.

Cooking and Alchemy will require either significant forays to the AH or a lot of hunting and fishing.  Most people I think will go the hunting/fishing route, if not for themselves, at least to help out their guild.  I also need to gear up all four roles (Druid) for both PVE and PVP, finish treasure hunting, exploration, get ready for raiding, and more.  Finding time to level each of my alts to 96 will be hard enough as it is, I just won’t have time to actually play them.

On some levels I like that Blizzard is keeping us extremely busy.  Or at least those of us who venture toward the completist side of things.  But on the other hand I know I will miss playing my other alts.  Quite a bit different from my preparations in the weeks leading up to WoD where I had grandios plans to play four characters to max level, raid, etc.  Two weeks into the expansion and I’m thinking I just didn’t know what I was preparing myself to get into.

Ahh well, onto more achievements and grinding.

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End of the Beta

The WoD Beta ended a couple nights ago to much fanfare.  I wasn’t there, though I was following along on Twitter as best I could.  Looked like Blizzard and the players had great fun, and was the perfect end to a very well ran Beta.  All else aside I’ve never believed anything but that Blizzard, as an organization, has a deep and abiding appreciation for its players.  The open dialogue Blizzard keeps with its player base, the way it runs its Beta’s, and extravaganza’s like last night show it.  It’s no coincidence that WoW continues to dominate the market.  I just wanted to take a moment to thank Blizzard, and the many developers, customer service reps, and team leads individually for all that they do.  Thanks guys!

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I Love This Time In An Expansion

The troubles of the current expansion are all but forgotten and exuberance for the next expansion begins to bubble over. Many people traditionally take time off from playing in the final weeks or months of an expansion, but start to come back and work feverishly to finish up the final tier. But for me it’s a time of relaxation and achievements.

I generally stop raiding which leaves me a lot of time to pursue those remaining expansion achievements I don’t have, as well as catch up on the achievements I’ve either ignored or just haven’t had the time to complete. I’ve said it many times before, but I love achievements and think it’s one of the best things Blizzard has introduced to WoW. For goal oriented people like me, it’s pure candy and right now I’m chomping them down like they’re going out of style.

It’s a busy but so very relaxing time for me. I’m raiding old content on four characters weekly, working on mount drops and legendary weapons. And I’m working on the last four zones I need for Loremaster, and collecting the remaining battle pets for those achievements along the way. It sounds like a lot of busy work to some people, but collecting and pet battles are just two of the mini-games available in WoW that help make it what it is. As well as why it continues to dominate a crowded MMO market after 10 years.

Its little things like pet battles that make me really appreciate WoW. People have been collecting non-combat pets in WoW since vanilla, but in true Blizzard style, they took it several steps forward such that you can now literally collect hundreds of pets. And actually do something with them, other than have them just walk around behind you as you move. And expect that Blizzard will support the mini-game in perpetuity by adding more new pets every expansion.

Pet battles are kind of fun, though I haven’t played with them more than on and off throughout MoP. But what I genuinely like about the mini-game is the ability to collect new pets. That I truly like, and so I’m enjoying running around collecting one of every pet available in the game. I’ve completed the Eastern Kingdom and have maybe 10 more to collect for Kalimdor before I move onto the other continents. I wish every pet had some fun animation or something but I realize that would a lot of artistic work that is probably better spent elsewhere.

Especially right now where the art team is finishing up the next expansion, working on the last tweaks to race models, and working on the next expansion. Speaking of, Blizzard apparently recently trademarked “the Eye of Azshara”. Which may, or may not be someone’s troll. Or it may, or may not be the name of the next Hearthstone expansion rather than the name of the next WoW expansion. Either way I’m hoping Blizzard sorts that out at Blizzcon this weekend.

I was actually surprised Blizzard was holding Blizzcon this year, considering it doesn’t line up with Warlords release and it may be too early to discuss the next expansion. But a little piece of me is holding out hope that Blizzard will indeed release some preliminary information about the next WoW expansion, though most of Blizzcon appears to be taken up with Blizzard’s other games. Blizzcon is about WoW in my own personal world. I know in reality it isn’t, but you know what I mean. I want WoW information, and unfortunately in this year’s Blizzcon it doesn’t appear we’ll be getting much of it.

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How will Garrisons not Destroy Server Economies?

I simply don’t understand what Blizzard is trying to do with the Garrison’s.  They serve an RP purpose to be sure, but the ready access to all professions is destabilizing and is so apparent that I can only reason that I’m evidently missing something important.  The profession buildings are bad enough, but the a Garrison with a Trading Post is the worst of all.  I have yet to see a combination where the Trading Post doesn’t lead to infinite resources. And at a profit in terms of Garrison Resources.  I haven’t seen anything about the Trading Post being removed, or the GR costs being adjusted.  But perhaps I missed it.  if not, this needs to be seriously adjusted or removed outright.

Here’s some examples:
– Gatherers:  make gold by herbing and mining and selling the mats on the AH.  It can be quite profitable, and profitability rises with time investment.  However, anyone with a Garrison will not only have a farm and mine they can herb and mine from but will also be able to spend an infinite number of GR at the Trading Post to buy whatever herbs or ore they need.  Result will be a large impact on Gathering professions.  Players with multiple characters, all with Garrison/TP set up will compound this issue exponentially.  I can see prices on herbs and ore being in the extreme low silver or copper range if the current trading post and GR costs goes live.

– Enchanters:  Selling enchantments can be quite profitable but is limited on live by material availability. However with Garrison/TP a character can spend an infinite number of GR at the Trading Post to buy as much Draenic Dust they need. For non-enchanters this is all that’s needed, though characters with the Enchanting professions gain access to higher level patterns which require additional resources.  Those resources must be gathered though DEing, but players without the Enchanting professions can easily access those materials as well through the Enchanter’s Study DE ability.  There’s likely to still be some market for the higher level enchanting materials, but since virtually everyone will have access to all the enchants, save the highest level ones, I suspect the ability to sell enchants on the AH will be severely impacted.

– Jewelcrafters:  Virtually everyone I just wrote about Enchanters can be said about Jewelcrafters.  Non-Jewelcrafters can make everything except the highest level patterns and need only ore and Taladite which they can get from work orders.  The ore can be mined or purchased from the Trading Post.

I needn’t go on because you see the point.  A player who has only a single character can be almost self sufficient with their Garrison.  A player with multiple characters, and particularly with characters who have professions such as Enchanting, Jewelcrafting, and Alchemy should never need to use the Auction House.  Or at the very least, use it so sparingly that their impact on the server economy is so small as not to matter.

The problem is obvious.  If the profession buildings must stay, then something needs to be done with the Trading Post.  The least intrusive solution is to remove work orders from it.  In that way players can still purchase resources but with a finite pool or GR, at least there is some mitigating force that should help the economy.

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Assault on the Dark Portal

Something is stirring in the Blasted Lands.  The Dark Portal is thrumming with new energy, and the omens tell us something evil is about to be set loose upon us.  Unfortunately we can’t see that part in the Beta yet, and perhaps never will so you’ll have to imagine all of that has happened (along with the tumultuous battles between Iron Horde Orcs and the Alliance) it when you see me click on Khadgar in the video and magically appear on Draenor.  I’m looking forward to patch 6.0 so I can see what lead up what I go through in the video.

As with Blizzard’s recent design trend, there’s a short introductory quest chain to the new expansion.  It takes about half an hour if you know what you’re doing, and there aren’t too many other players around to compete for mobs.  I’d rather Blizzard used personal phased instance areas, or for groups, but since its not you can expect something similar to the initial experience in MoP’s initial quest chain with regard to the crowd for at least the first week or two.  Though the Assault on the Dark Portal area of Tanaan appears to be larger than the area SW of Paw’Don Village in MoP, the track is very linear and circular and isn’t as big as the geography might appear at first.

None of the quests in the chain should be a challenge for anyone. I’ve performed the chain in both starter ilvl 500 gear, as well as ilvl 566 and ilvl 580 gear.  Obviously things dies quicker with higher ilvl gear, but ilvl 500 greens are perfectly adequate.  Blizzard isn’t attempting to challenge players, so much as they’re simply introducing the RP elements necessary to more seamlessly move you into the new expansion.

Insofar as the quests are concerned, and particularly the role play of it all, I didn’t feel they were the strongest.  I loved the sense of great battle in the initial part of the chain — when you step through the portal and see the fighting for the first time. That’s what I expected and Blizzard didn’t disappoint.  But once you move behind the portal and start working around the area I felt the story was a bit weaker.  I’d call you filler.  It isn’t until I got back around to the other side of the battle that I again felt the large scope of the fighting again.  I wished Blizzard was able to make us keep that sense of scope throughout.

Towards the end of the chain you take control of an Iron tank and turn its defenses against the Iron Horde.  But just when you feel things are starting to go your way you’re unceremoniously dumped out of the seat and Khadgar starts yelling for everyone to run to the docks.  There’s no real explanation as to why and I feel that’s a weakness in the chain that particularly needs to be propped up.  Likewise with the docks sequence where we’re shuttled along to Shadowmoon Valley.

There’s the barest of mention about needing to hook up with the “natives” and then we’re told “to Shadownmoon Valley”.  No real roleplay between Khadgar and Maraad that I feel would go a long way toward flushing this part of the chain out as well.  Once the boat starts moving, you next appear on the shores of SMV and the Assault on the Dark Portal chain is finished.

If you watch the video you’ll see there are a number of visual bugs.  Some objects can be seen strait on from a short distance away, but once you get close to them they disappear unless you change your viewing perspective from behind the object.  All of those, and the obvious mini-map issue along the north west side of the area should be fixed by release.  Or at least I expect them to be.  Other than the bugs and the nit-picky RP elements I mentioned it’s a pretty standard and solid introductory quest chain.  Nothing too flashy, and certainly nothing very difficult.  See ya in there release night!

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Lag Comes With a Cost

In spite of being an avid gamer for a number of years I’ve never owned a true purpose-built gaming system. The systems I’ve owned have generally been mid-tier (performance wise) desktop workstations, though I have almost always upgraded the video cards. And at least in the past 15+ years those systems were off the shelf purchases. It’s been three years since my last purchase, which I actually made because of SWTOR. The system was at the minimal level for running SWTOR but ran WoW just fine until MoP.

Prior to MoP I experienced no lag or frame rate reduction while set to “Good” video settings. I used to regularly record various activities with FRAPS, and even large fights were no issue while FRAPSing. But in MoP things changed. I found FRAPSing always caused noticeable frame rate reduction, and FRAPSing during any significant activity was simply out of the question. Even when not recording I had to set my video settings down to fair, but even then still experienced some lag and frame rate reduction on many boss fights or during large PVP encounters like the workshop on IoC. The initial Malkorak and Ordos encounters (and even more so with heroism popped) were just killers. I’d be playing along in a slide show.

And frankly the plan to dramatically increase polygon counts in WoW models in WoD had me worried about my ability to continue playing with my current system. I’d been looking at upgrading or replacing my system outright for a number of months and finally made the decision a couple weeks ago that I’d had enough. I finished putting the remaining touches together on a new system yesterday and I’m completely happy I finally made the decision to move on from my old system, which is now relegated to file storage, processing, and other menial tasks on my home network.

Instead of buying a system off the shelf as I normally do I opted to piece one out. I went with an Intel I7 4790 based system with 16 GB of SDRAM, an ASUS Z97-A motherboard, GTX 770 video card, and a split SSD/SATA drive system. I loaded Windows 7 on it because, frankly, wild horses couldn’t drag me toward Windows 8. After a number of streams and recordings, with my video settings set at Ultra, there’s simply no lag. It’s wonderful and cost a lot less than every similar “gaming system” I reviewed. Frankly the cost of those gaming systems is why I balked at upgrading for as long as I did. It’s not that I couldn’t afford the systems I was looking at, but I just didn’t feel the value was there. I couldn’t justify paying that kind of money for a system I felt should actually be much cheaper. In the end I may not have every bell and whistle that some of the gaming rigs have, but I have every bit the performance. And frankly, that’s all that matters.

I’ve commented in the past on Twitter how the other Feral in my raid always seemed to be 30-50k+ DPS ahead of me even though we have similar gear and are within a few ilvls of each other. I know he does some snapshotting, which I don’t generally do, but I couldn’t put my finger on anything else really tangible that would contribute toward such a spread. Until I recently started to regularly reload my UI, and with my video settings on fair, began to notice a decrease in the separation. On some fights I was even ahead of him. Over the course of a night I could see a dramatic swing in my DPS as my lag increased or decreased.   In the week I’ve had my new system I’ve seen a 30k DPS increase on training dummies. I haven’t been able to compare my DPS on Heroic fights yet, but the lag is gone so I suspect I’ll see a similar DPS increase in real fights as well.

The moral of the story here is what I knew it to be. While there are definitely limits involved, you get what you pay for.

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Malaise and its affect on my blogging

I haven’t been very active on my blog in recent months, I know. The drudgery of more than half a year of Siege of Orgrimmar, the prospect of a full year of it before Warlords of Draenor is to be released, our raid leader’s unwillingness to take a break from raiding, and little to do other than PVP in WoW has largely robbed me of the mood to write. Couple with the fact I don’t follow the WoD Alpha news all that closely, I haven’t been very active in other games, and that I’m still reeling from my Super Bowl loss, it’s been a pretty boring period for my blog.

It’s not that I absolutely haven’t had things to discuss, just that I haven’t been all that motivated to talk about anything. Recently though I did start playing Wildstar. As MMOs go I was surprised how flushed out the game was at release, so high marks to NCSOFT for that. It’s a refreshing break in a trend from major MMOs in recent years which should help to maintain subscription numbers. Unfortunately I haven’t reached the level cap yet and can’t speak to the other major issue that regularly dooms new MMOs – lack of end-game content – but I’m sure we’ll be hearing all about that soon enough.

However I’ve already decided to eschew spending much more time with the game. There are many very interesting things about the game, for one it’s the first MMO with the ability aiming system I’ve played, but it just hasn’t elicited the excitement in me I would need to keep me long term. I’d probably spend more time in the game if it were free to play, but not if I have to pay a $15/month subscription fee. In spite of my current level of boredom in WoW, WoW continues to be the gold standard in my view and serves my fantasy MMO needs quite well.

I also started playing SWTOR again several weeks ago but quickly recalled why I’ve previously only played the game for short periods before quitting again. Bioware simply hasn’t addressed the plethora of issues surrounding the game, which I won’t re-hash now. Of all the MMOs out there today, SWTOR was the one I wanted to succeed the most, the one I truly wanted to invest in, and the one that has most disappointed me. Such a shame considering what could have been.

Which leaves me with my other perennial fallback –EVE Online. EVE is a game I play for several months and get bored before heading back to play WoW full time. Not because EVE is a boring game, because it’s certainly not. But EVE is a game you don’t play solo. Every time I start playing EVE again I tell myself I’m going to find an active Corp and dive in. Last Fall I thought I had hooked up with an old Corp that used to be active but at that point had migrated out of Nullsec and became very inactive. By last November things were so inactive and I had become so despondent I quit again. And yes, in spite of also telling myself I would never again let my accounts lapse, I did in fact allow them to lapse again. Consequently I’ve made no training progress in the intervening seven months, something I’m kicking myself for again as I look at the state of my character my training plans.

My goal in EVE this time around is to stay away from industry (at least for a while), and to do no mining. I want to get involved in combat. I really enjoyed flying Bombers last year and will finish that bit of training I have left on my main account before finishing up the remaining training I need for Marauders. After that I’ll see what I need to train. But on my second account I intend to interrupt my Carrier training to finish up the skills I need for Logistics. I’ll take both toons with me out into Nullsec as soon as I can.

I know I don’t yet have the skills for a lot of the doctrines I’ll find out in Nullsec, but I figure I can at least participate as a Bomber and in most of the missile boat doctrines now with my main, and can start training Amarr and Minmatar sub-cap doctrines after that. And I would have to think logi is always in demand, and if I can fill that on my second account, I’m glad to do that too.

When I joined my current corp a year ago I was really looking forward to getting back out to nullsec space, but it just never worked out. The corp had just recently left nullsec but did rent other space. Unfortunately there was never a large presence in that rented space. It was basically just a couple of guys ratting and some ice mining ops going on. There was no real supporting infrastructure to help with neutrals, which led to periods of days where nothing happened in the space as well as a high level of frustration amongst those few that did venture out to the space.

Even with that I had been working toward moving some equipment out to a system where it could be jumped over to our space, but that happened to coincide with the corps implosion and so I never made it out. Then a few weeks later I stopped playing also. I could have put more effort into finding another corp at that point, but guess I was just too disillusioned to do it. But the prospect of finding a bustling corp is very appealing to me right now, so with that motivation in hand I’m sure I’ll find the right fit before too long.

Where normally the rest of my free time would usually be spent watching basketball or watching/playing golf during the Summer, I just haven’t been that motivated. I didn’t watch a single basketball game all season long, and haven’t even watched a full playoff game yet. Though I have now watched parts of three games, including just last night. But with Tiger out of the running this year I haven’t been that interested in golf at all. Tiger’s influence on ratings is well documented and his absence this year has had a pretty decided impact.

I’m sure my sport malaise won’t last much longer, as I couldn’t imagine the NFL season starting in September and me turning my nose up to it. Whether I’ll get the enjoyment out of this season as I did last season is yet to be seen however. How do we top a season like that when everything was seemingly going our way, and lose so badly in the Super Bowl?

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EA Commits the Ultimate Sin

I’ve mentioned I’m starting to get bored in WoW because its that point in the expansion where very little is going on, although has filled some of that void for me admirably.  Yet there are still large gaps of time where I’ve got essentially nothing to do and I hate leveling characters for the sake of leveling.  And so I’ve been considering playing EVE Online in my spare time but instead opted to play SWTOR again.  It’s been a year since I last played and there’s been a some new content added so I figured I could easily play a few hours a week with a couple new toons.

But the F2P model has some restrictions I really dislike — kind of the point I’m quite sure — such as an inability to transfer credits between characters.  Under F2P you must wait until level 25 to get your speeder, but I’m legacy so that skill opens up for me at level 15.  But since the skill still costs 35k credit I’ve had to transfer credits from my higher level character to my alts previously.  Legacy or not, I’m not a paying customer currently and therefore can’t transfer the needed credits.  I was going to sub while I played anyway, but I’d sub for this issue alone.

But unfortunately I can’t.  Literally can’t because there’s a technical issue with the SWTOR website that causes an inability to log in from the United States.  If not the entire United States, large enough areas of it where it’s affecting a lot of people.  I tried several browsers on two different computers, my iPad and my iPhone and finally called customer service this morning to find out the problem is a known issue with no current ETR.  I just have to keep trying to log in.

Being in the IT industry I understand things sometimes happen, but this problem has apparently been a known issue for a week or more.  Gaming companies are service oriented, and money is the lifeblood of all service oriented ventures.  I don’t know what the issue is specifically, but when you’re a company that spent a reported $200 Million on a game that ended up going F2P within a year of release and has been eking out an existence in the F2P marketplace ever since, you fix problems that cause your customers an inability to spend money like yesterday.

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Boomkin, or why we do things for our guilds

Its not a new phenomenon that attendance in a casual raid guild fluctuates, or that regular raiders periodically disappear for whatever reason.  So it certainly hasn’t surprised me over the last couple months that I began to notice some of our regular raiders begin to raid less, and then suddenly stop attending all together.  We’re now down to zero Mages (can you believe that??) and our raid team has definitely tilted to the melee heavy side of things in recent weeks.  So much so recently that our raid leader has begun to specifically point out to the ranged we have that they need to exercise extra care on some fights, like Malkorak.

I’m one the melee, playing Feral as my main spec, though occasionally I’m called upon to heal as one of the guild’s official off-spec healers too.  Although I leveled as Feral back in Vanilla, I’ve done everything you can do as a Druid.  I main-tanked through most of BC, switching to Resto as my main spec toward the end of BC.  I split Feral and Boomkin in WotLK , and mainly back to Feral in Cata and MoP.  My main spec was a fairly static choice but until quite recently I used my secondary spec for whatever I needed it to be.  I’ve been very happy with Feral and had intended to raid as such for the foreseeable future, but sometimes we feel obligated to do things our guilds need us to do.

In my case, since I’m such a serial secondary spec hopper and having suits for all four Druid specs, that means probably switching to Boomkin as my primary raiding spec and dropping Feral all together.  My Balance suit is 548, so no where near as good as my Feral suit is but also not very far off either.  I would be a relatively painless process for me to switch, run some Flex’s to get a few upgrades and be able to carry myself in our normal raid without embarrassing myself.  But naturally I’m rusty with the spec, not actually having played it in a few years.  Not sure I really dig the Eclipse mechanism and I know I’m going to miss Feral if in fact the change happens.

So why make the change if I really love Feral?  For one, there are only a few players in our raids that even have the ability to switch from melee to ranged, two of which are healers and aren’t going to switch to DPS, and the other Feral in my raid doesn’t have a balance suit.  Secondly, when you’re in a guild that truly feels like home and is as friendly and as helpful as mine is why wouldn’t you do whatever is necessary for it to succeed?  I’m more interested in the guild succeeding than I am in raiding as Feral.

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No arrogant tank we don’t need you

no gems, no enchants, no reforges and not ready for tanking

no gems, no enchants, no reforges and not ready for tanking

Sometimes you have to publically point out an example of what is wrong so that it can be corrected.  I’ve made no secret that I really hate LFR since Flex was released, and honestly raid finder Flex raids are nearly as bad these days, but I digress.  I need some additional off-spec pieces and I’m bored and sadly none of my friends are running Flex groups any longer, so LFR is the fastest way to potentially pick those pieces up.  So there I was in a fresh LFR SOO wing 1 run, healing and minding my own business when WHAM one of the tanks gets killed by Immerseus before I could blow a cool down on him.

He went down like a ton of bricks but I battle rezzed him, then waited a good minute before he accepted the rez so I could top him off.  I worked fairly hard to keep him alive the rest of the fight, but I did it.  It was only after the fight that I had a chance to inspect him when I saw the problem.  Not only was our friend the “tank” not enchanted, not gemmed, and not reforged, but turns out he was a huge creep when you pointed out to him that the easiest boss in the place smoked him and that he wasn’t ready to tank.

We kicked him and went on to finish the wing with no further problems.  But out friend, Nobiscuit, is an example of the entitlement players now feel when playing WoW.  Blizzard has engendered it, and though I know why, we’re all left to deal with it.  Players don’t want to have to work for anything and want everything to be handed to them; they want to be carried no matter the cost to those who have to do the carrying.  Honestly I would have been totally fine with healing Nobuscuit had he just taken the effort to gem and enchant.  Encouraging new players to take on key roles like tanking and healing is something we should all do, after all.  Green gems would have been fine and are dirt cheap, but even dirt cheap gems are too expensive for our friend and his attitude really set me off.

I have to admit it really bothers me when I run across people like this.  I’ve been right where he is now.  I’ve leveled many alts, but it has never crossed my mind to pick up a tank spec on any that could tank, just for the quick queues.  And most especially if my gear wasn’t ready.  The real difference between me and those like Nobiscuit is that I hold myself accountable and they don’t.  Hey, it’s just a game remember?  Forget that its not a game that we’re really talking about, but rather the time and effort that everyone is investing in the run people like Nobiscuit are ruining because of they’re arrogance.

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Real boredom is beginning to set in

I hate this point in an expansion.  A point where I’m significantly geared, there either is no further content coming or if there is it’s still very far off, and consequently I have very little to work toward any longer.  In this case there reportedly is no new content coming until Warlords and since I’m significantly geared  in two of the four Druid specs and have decent suits in the other two I feel the boredom beginning to set in.  The allure of LFR and Flex raids has long since faded and I find the thought of trudging through either on alts to be less and less appealing.

If I had an in with Blizzard I would force them to better map out content in succeeding expansions rather than constantly redesigning abilities, talent trees, professions and all the rest.  It isn’t disapproval with the talent system that causes players to unsubscribe to WoW, it’s the boredom that sets in with lack of regular content patches that does that.  A boredom that will reach a feverish pitch if the next expansion isn’t going to see the light of day until this Summer as many expect.

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My first 24 hours with Hearthstone

Hearthstone BetaMy experience with TCGs is somewhat limited, having last played a TCG in 2003 or 2004.  I played Magic the Gathering and the Marvel Trading Card Game for a short while before I got very serious with WoW.  To be honest, TCGs haven’t really interested me in a many years.  Not even the WoW TCG, which you would think would have piqued my interest at some point considering how much into WoW I am.  But it didn’t and I very easily could have gone on for rest of my life having never given another passing thought to the entire TCG space.

Except then Hearthstone was announced, entered closed beta and has been talked about and written about by countless players.  Many of which I follow because of their association with WoW, so I’ve received a thorough dose of Hearthstone news over the past few months  including from my son who got a beta invite what seems like eons ago.  I’ve watched him play and have talked with him about the game when I had the opportunity, and have caught a lot of the news from the many WoW podcasts I listen to.

The more I heard, the more interested I became and yet I hadn’t received a beta invite of my own.  I signed up weeks ago and have been waiting for the invite that would never come from Blizzard.  Instead I got one yesterday from @Shamonrongar of Blizzpro fame in an incredible display of kindness.  His gift gathered very little dust I assure you!

So here I am 24 hours later having completed the tutorial, leveled the Mage and Warrior to level 10 and unlocked every other Champion.  I’ve even played a few matches in Play mode against other players this morning using the standard starter Mage deck.  Found that to be quite fun, having almost won two of the three matches.  The third match was against someone playing a custom Paladin deck and that wasn’t even close.  Thought I had the last match I played against a standard Shaman deck, but then I got hit with a huge Windfury attack followed by another attack that utterly destroyed me.  I think I must have felt a lot like one of the Kansas City Chiefs fans yesterday having been out to a commanding lead, only to see it disappear and ultimately lose.

I’m having great fun learning the game, and in my first 24 hours I’ve already learned two important lessons.  First, the started decks just are not meant for anything other than practice.  And secondly, decks without lots of minion control or at least extremely strong direct champion damage are doomed.  I lost the match against the Shaman deck because I hadn’t pulled a single Arcane Explosion card and while I was dealing with his little peons he dropped two big thugs on me, one of which decimated me with Windfury.

I’m going to look into building a custom Mage deck to play with until I learn the other classes.  I already have a good number of cards from those I’ve accumulated from playing, from the packs I’ve won today and from the several packs I purchased.  Yes, Blizzard has already wrung some dollars out of me today!

One question out there for those more knowledgeable.  RNG seems to play a large part in the game, obviously so I’m thinking I want some additional “Draw Cards” cards.  Standard Mage deck has a couple Novice Engineers in it already but is there any reason why I shouldn’t add a couple more of Draw Card cards to supplement?

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Why are the Horde so bad at the largest BGs?

Isle of ConquestI love Isle of Conquest and Alterac Valley Call to Arms.  Thanks to Isle of Conquest this weekend I Conquest capped my main yesterday afternoon and I’m working on an alt today.  Its something that is nothing if not predictable every IoC or AV Call to Arms where the Alliance dominates these two battlegrounds, whereas the others are arguably tossups?  I haven’t lost a single IoC match all weekend long, though there were two matches where I thought it might happen but didn’t.

The question always comes to my mind, why?  Why does the Alliance dominate these battlegrounds when they do not any of the others?  I’ve seen all of the “reasons” which mostly center on physical inequalities of the maps.  But look above at the IoC map, do you see any inequalities there?  Its arguable on the AV map, though I disagree that any physical differences with the AV map equate to any real advantage for the Alliance.  But that the Alliance dominates IoC as well I think speaks much louder to the AV question than anything else.

No, I do not believe there are any physical advantages in IoC or AV that would cause the Alliance to dominate either BG.  Instead I think it boils down to tenancies.  Anecdotally I believe Horde players are generally better PVP players, 1-v-1, or better stated that the Horde faction tends to attract the better PVPs generally.  The Horde esprit-d-corp (For the Horde!) and the racials are highly attractive to certain players and in smaller scale battlegrounds the player advantage can come to bare.  But in larger battlegrounds, like IoC and AV the 1-v-1 advantage isn’t nearly as important as are numbers.

In IoC, where you really only need one of three major offensive bases to win, we (Alliance) regularly capture two.  Why is that, with both teams being equal in size?  Tendencies.  Occasionally the Horde will send enough to one base to take it but I can’t recall any IoC match I’ve played where the Horde captured two like the Alliance does.  Its a question of commitment, whereas the Alliance heavily commits to the Workshop and even more so to the Docks but ignores the Hangar.  Its been my experience that the Horde splits between the three bases in some fashion, leaving themselves out numbered at the Docks and the Workstation most of the time.

Tendency; If the Horde would commit as the Alliance do and most especially commit to the docks I believe they’d win a lot more of the IoC matches than they do.  If the Horde do take the docks there are calls that go out in the Alliance group for defenders to drop back and Rogues to take out the Glaives.  But when the Alliance takes the docks I rarely see any Horde defenders in their keep.  Horde end up with the Hangar, leaving the Alliance with the Workshop and the Docks and an ability to make very short work on the Horde keep door.

One has to wonder why the Horde never learn through observation but then again we have years of AV to point to on that regard as well.  Its not that Horde players are any less intelligent than Alliance players, its as if Horde players have an accepted game plan and refuse to deviate.  With literally thousands of factional players in any given battlegroup that’s saying quite a lot.  Yet I see the same story unfold match after match after match.  In AV that story is just as stark.

In AV the Alliance rushes Frostwolf Relief Hut, with perhaps half of the team stopping at Galvanger.  Some of those rushing to Frostwolf stop and take Iceblood Tower and Tower Point.  Often the Alliance already has all four towers and Frostwolf graveyard under timer before we kill Galvanger.  Yet most of the Horde team rushes strait to Balinda every match, and only then rushes on to Stormpike after.  The Alliance almost always has a two tower and Relief hut advantage over the Horde team every match, which in terms of a 15 minute match is incredible.  I more often see the Horde team attempt to kill Van with two towers still up than I do seeing the Horde rush Stormpike like the Alliance rushes Frostwolf.

When I play on my Horde toon I try to explain how a significant portion of the raid needs to rush Stormpike but after being shouted down and told to shut up repeatedly I pretty much give up.  As I said, there are tendencies involved and people will not be swayed.  Not that I mind, as AV and IoC give me two decent periods where I am normally able to earn significant amounts of Conquest and Honor.  Thanks Horde!

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