Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer doldrums

It's hot as hell and I've been in a bit of a funk, so not much WoW time this week. Blatella the priest is finally into HoT heroics though, and Fossegrimme the mage is at around level 43 and has her fast ground mount. Leveling has been fast with heirlooms and the Midsummer Fire Festival buff.

Fossegrimme has been leveling primarily through dungeons, which gives her time to work on leveling her professions while she waits for queues. She just started the questline in Eastern Plaguelands though, so she'll be doing some leveling there this weekend. I've done this zone Horde-side and thought it was a lot of fun, so I'm looking forward to doing it again.

Being a fire mage is, ah, a blast! Why? 1. Portals. 2. Blink. 3. Hot Streak and Pyroblast! It seems that there are so many little "perks" to being a mage, plus they do a lot of damage and with the heirlooms Fossegrimme's not even all that squishy.

I've also managed to do some transmogging, as it's apparently not as expensive to transmog the shoulder, chest and weapon heirlooms as it is the head and cape. I wonder why that is? Anyway, Fossegrimme is now sporting an outfit she stole off of Arcanist Doan in Scarlet Monastery (robe and shoulders). The staff is from a mage-specific quest in Shadowfang Keep.

I like it this outfit, the heirloom cape matches and I can just turn the heirloom helm off. Actually, the heirloom helm matches well too, but it just screams "Heirloom" since it's so distinctive, so I prefer not to have to look at it!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mecka Lecka Hi

Mecka Hiney Ho! Blatella has new transmog! And check out her little Oracle pet catching a fly!

She also ran most of her Cata heroics yesterday, and is probably one valor piece away from HoT heroics. It was a LONG day. Many wipes but she got her achieves for Blackrock Caverns, Vortex Pinnacle, Shadowfang Keep, Deadmines, Halls of Origination and Lost City of Tolvir. Whew! With only a few exceptions, all of the PUGs were very nice and helpful with those who didn't know the fights.

I picked up on another issue for hunters: traps. From my experience, if you are mostly questing on your hunter, you have little use for traps. Then you enter heroics for the first time at level 85, and traps are a very important CC skill. So if you are a new player, you may have very little experience with how and when to use traps. Overall it seems that there are so many little things that hunters need to do differently in dungeons vs questing; hunters may be an easy class to level with, but they are much more difficult to play in groups.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life on the Alliance side

Thanks to heirlooms and the Midsummer holiday XP buff, Fossegrimme made it to level 25 last night. It always feels like a big accomplishment when a toon gets their first riding mount!

Fossegrimme quested through Elwynn Forest before making her first trip to Stormwind to get her professions established. She stole candles from Kobolds and helped capture Hogger, and when she made her way to Stormwind Stockades a little bit later she helped finish him off. The Stockades dungeon made a lot of sense from an Alliance perspective, but I wonder why it's a Horde dungeon too?

Loch Modan was the next spot for questing. A beautiful high-elevation forest and a good place to level herbalism.

So far I've been amazed by the number of rare spawns in these Alliance zones. I don't think I've ever encountered so many in low-level Horde zones. In the pic above, Lord Condar came swooping down out of nowhere while Fossegrimme was dispatching a bobcat outside of an archaeological dig in Loch Modan.

Thus far I've really enjoyed exploring the Alliance areas, maybe because I'm just a little burned out with Horde after leveling so many alts. I've learned a lot of new things, such as, on my server, Goldshire is where the children hang out PVPing and cussing at each other (enlarge pic above for examples). As far as I can tell there is no ERP going on at the Inn, just a bunch of people hanging out in the bedrooms and fighting. I can't think of a similar place Horde-side, except maybe the Orgrimmar front gate.

Stormwind has a subway! My Hordies are jealous! It would be awesome though, if instead of connecting Stormwind and Ironforge, the tram connected all of the parts of Stormwind like a proper subway. This is because I am still finding Stormwind to be a total pain in the ass to find my way in, although I suspect that will improve once Fossegrimme has her flying mount.

The Mage Quarter in Stormwind is seriously awesome. Fossegrimme met the arcane trinkets vendor, Charys Yserian, and was impressed by her collection of skulls. Oh, if only she could have a house that she could decorate, like Second Life!

After speccing fire, Fossegrimme changed her hairstyle to a more suitable ginger 'do. She's also having fun making shirts that match her outfit through tailoring, since transmogging her heirlooms is out of her reach financially. Still, she's picked up some nice items for future outfits, and has made about 25G on the auction house so she can start picking up some additional items.

So yeah, I'm liking this toon so far!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fun, frustration and a secret project!!

Boss down no thanks to fractious keyboard!

My computer has really begun to show it's age, and playing WoW has become a rather frustrating experience as of late. In a nutshell, my keyboard is crapping out (causing my toons to run out of control while I rush to unplug the keyboard before they fall off of a cliff), and the lag in LFR and high population areas is just about unbearable. In addition, I'm having huge problems for some reason with tab-targeting, which is essential for my gameplay as I am too slow and uncoordinated to click target mobs. Last night I ran Gallore through her Cata normals and the Lord Ahune dungeon and just about ran screaming off of a cliff myself. Everything was a big laggy struggle and Gallore got 0 gear drops out of 7 dungeons; unlike Blatella who is in all 333 or higher gear after one run of normals, Gallore still has many 308 and 316 pieces. To top it all off, at one point I managed to mysteriously tab target a mob AROUND A BLIND CORNER in Grim Batol, and watched in horror as my pet stealthed around the mobs everyone else was fighting to engage the next pack. Yes, it was a huntard moment :),

That's the frustration. The fun came in an unexpected whisper Wapsi received while standing in Orgrimmar waiting for the LFR queue to pop. "Do you want to run DS?" Why not? After much standing around while the rest of the PUG formed, I was at Wyrmrest Temple for the last four bosses of DS, 10 man normal. It was a blast and I learned a lot, particularly that if just one player dies, the whole raid wipes. I had to learn about Fading Twilight and Deathwing's rolls the hard way, but overall I was pleased with my performance. I may not be the most situationally aware player, but I think I am pretty decent at playing enhancement shaman, and this is still my favorite class to play out of all of my alts. Unfortunately, we failed to beat the timer on the second to last platform on Madness, and wiped. The group disbanded at this point so no achievement, which was a bummer. A slight consolation was that afterwards Wapsi finished LFR for the week and FINALLY got her leg token drop. Now all I want for her are the shoulder token and her second No'Kaled.

Frustration, fun, where's the secret? Well, I wanted to do something totally different from how I am currently playing, more laid back and exploratory and less concerned with rapid leveling and gearing. I was also thinking that I wanted to roll a toon that was a stereotypical RPG character, hearkening back to my Final Fantasy days. So...I rolled a human mage!

I deleted Fossegrimme the blood elf warlock and replaced her with Fossegrimme the human mage. I wanted to roll this toon on my current server so she could use the heirlooms I have (damn Blizzard's policy of not allowing heirloom transmogs to transfer through the mail though!).

I spent quite a lot of time working on her appearance because as I've said I generally find humans in WoW to be kind of boring, and I wanted Fosse to be as interesting to me as possible. One thing I really like about her so far is her facial expressions. She's always looking off to the side like she is thinking up something clever. Tauren and trolls and orcs don't have facial expressions as far as I can tell. Blood elves just look impatient. Goblins are pretty good though.

I only have a few goals for her: become a tailor so she can have a magic carpet, level Archaeology so she can be a Professor, and eventually transfer to an RP server. I'll definitely be working on a story for her while exploring the Alliance side of Azeroth!

Monday, June 18, 2012

How has WoW changed me?

I enjoyed Syl's post (on a blog I didn't discover until today, how is that possible?) about how a game like WoW can change one's expectations for MMOs. It's hard for me to think of a way that playing WoW this past year has affected my feelings about other games, since I don't play much else. Instead, I began thinking about how the hours spent in Azeroth have had one very profound effect on me personally: I have regained a part of my life that I had thought was long departed.

For many years, I maintained a detailed and vivid fantasy life that filled my waking hours with daydreams. Anything was potential subject matter: all of my aspirations and desires played out on a backdrop ranging from the mundane to the utterly fantastic. The seeds of a plotline, once planted, would bloom into a story that I might put together in my head over days or weeks, whenever I had a spare moment to think. I looked forward to going to bed some nights because that half hour or so before sleep was uninterrupted time to daydream. This inner storytelling was such a huge part of my life that I remember building up my courage for months to tell my then-fiance about it; he was the first person I had ever shared this deepest secret with.

The past 10 years of my life has seen some difficulties on a number of fronts, and I've lost many things that were important to me along the way. One of those things was this inner life. I don't know how it happened, but one day I just realized that I didn't daydream anymore. It was just gone; I couldn't say what filled my head during the times I used to daydream, probably worries about all sorts of bullshit past, present and future. As melodramatic as it sounds, it is accurate to say that stress and struggles at one point literally destroyed my dreams, at least my daydreams.

I was seriously ill last summer, and the following months of my recovery were when I began playing WoW on a near-daily basis. And then early this year I very suddenly realized: as I leveled my toons I was putting together backgrounds and stories for them. And I was "working" on those stories in my head throughout the day. I was daydreaming again. Slowly, tentatively, my inner life was coming back.

Goetia the rogue is searching for her lost sister. Blatella the priest is searching for her identity as a Forsaken. Pantha the shaman loves engineering because her childhood best friend was a goblin girl. Gallore the hunter fell in love with Salhet while they were fighting for the Ramkahen. Silly stories, but they provided the seeds for daydreams that had been lacking for so long.

So if nothing else, I'm thankful for WoW for giving me a place where my inner life could flower once again. Maybe it would have happened eventually as the clouds in my life began to clear up over this past year, but I can't help but think that playing such a beautiful and immersive game at least sped the process up a bit.

Vacation accomplished!

I spent last week visiting my family and didn't have much time for WoW with all of the visiting and activities. I logged onto Gallore just a couple times in the evenings and I did achieve a couple of things of note with her, including finally finding Loque'nahak! I named Loque after my eldest cat Jasper, and like Jasper, she is a killing machine.

Gallore also finished questing and exploring Twilight Highlands; the first tiny drop in the bucket towards Explorer and Loremaster. You can see how mushed up my UI is in the above picture, from having to play on my tiny laptop screen when I travel. That's another reason I don't play a lot when I'm away from home.

After getting unpacked and settled back into home yesterday, I figured I would run Blatella through her Cata normals for the week. She was super lucky with drops: in the above armory pic, everything except the wrist, waist and feet slots are filled with items that dropped yesterday, and the 378 wand and gloves were JP purchases. With an iLevel of 340 she's now gemmed and reforged, and ready for Cata heroics.

Tonight I will probably play Gallore and run her through the same process of gearing up through Cata normals. Wapsi might do the last half of LFR because it would be nice to get her second No'Kaled, but aside from that I feel like I'm done with her until Pandaria. That leaves my 3 leveling toons for the rest of the week, and I am particularly looking forward to questing and dungeons with the kitty druid...

Friday, June 8, 2012

And another one!

I now have 4 level 85 toons! Gallore hit 85 last night with a combination of dungeons and Twilight Highlands quests. As a reward to herself she paid way too much money for the Stylin' Adventure Hat, but rationalized the purchase by telling herself that she simply couldn't work on the Loremaster and Explorer achievements without a comfortable hat. She's also wearing full transmogged Nexus-Strider gear with Azure Shoulderguards. Finally, her gun has been transmogged into the Amber Messenger bow from Blackrock Caverns. I like the way guns look, but I prefer the way bows sound when she's shooting.

If Gallore is going to be flying all over Azeroth doing quests, she needs a fast flying mount. So I pooled some funds and bought Artisan flying for her, and a swift windrider mount. I pretty much broke the bank on two toons to do this, but I'm hoping that Gallore will be making plenty of gold on her upcoming travels.

So my plans for beginning the achievements are as follows: finish Twilight Highlands first, as the quest rewards will be gear upgrades. Then onto Vash'jir and Hyjal so she can level her mining, and from there back through Deepholm and Uldum.

I'm also thinking of switching her long-neglected jewelcrafting profession to either skinning or herbalism so she can level that skill while questing in the low-level zones.

Sooo...even though I have 3 toons in full heirlooms at level 30-40, I think I'll be sticking with Gallore for awhile.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Learning is still fun

Me, in dungeons over the past few months:

"Who is this Bloodworm who keeps healing me?"

"Where do people get this pink maggot pet?"

Finally figured it out. Thanks for all the heals, Blood Death Knights!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A hunter in Uldum

Last evening was spent leveling Gallore to 84 in Uldum. I didn't feel like doing any dungeons last night so she did some of the Harrison Jones quests and the Gnomageddon questline as well as finishing the quests for Ramkahen rep, all told it took about 6 hours to go from 83-84. I would much rather have had 3-5 little levels in that time than one long slog to 84, but it was still fun to do the quests and collect some nice quest rewards.

One cool thing about the Harrison Jones quests is that there are some pretty scarab beetles that spawn only during the questline. After taming a couple of them, Gallore chose the turquoise scarab and gave it a nice survival/aggro generating talent build. She was able to easily finish the Pit of Scales quest with this pet, which I couldn't do when I was leveling my rogue through Uldum.

I really liked doing the Salhet quests again too. Salhet seems like a sweet guy :)

And finally back to Org a new level 84, with a tabard, a cool pet and a cool gun. One more level to go! I am pretty excited to have Gallore level capped as I am getting more and more motivated to try for Loremaster and Explorer for her. I keep thinking of how cool "Loremaster Gallore" and Gallore the Explorer" would sound...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Odds and ends

I had a just a few things to wrap up on Blatella after she hit 85 this weekend. First, I transmogged her weapons to better match her outfit- Balanazzar's Horn for main hand and Stormbound Tome for off-hand. The dagger is from Stratholme, I knew it would be a good idea to put it in the bank when it dropped!

After completing her normal Cata dungeons, she kindly used her accrued JP to buy the agility leather chest heirloom for Aeshna. Then it was off to the Darkmoon Faire to turn in quests and do dailies. At the end of it all, she had enough tickets to buy the agility shoulder heirlooms for Aeshna as well. I now have nearly all of the heirloom armor for all of my future alts!

Funny enough, while Blatella was doing the fishing daily, she caught the seapony pet on her second cast. This wasn't such a big deal as I already have the sea pony on Boomhoof/Boomtuska, but it was still cool to find it again. As I may have mentioned, it usually seems that RNG doesn't work in my favor very often, so when I do see a little bit of luck I'm pretty ecstatic.

Before leaving the Faire, Blatella stepped a bit out of her dour shadow priest persona and took a ride on a sandbox tiger...


Sunday, June 3, 2012

How not to be a huntard, not an exhaustive list

I love playing my hunter. Pew-pewing mobs while my pet holds them at bay makes me happy. However, I am more nervous playing my hunter in dungeons than I am with any other toon, not because I am unsure of how to play her, but because of other player's attitudes. I fear the dreaded slur "huntard." You see, everyone makes mistakes, especially in the relatively high-pressure environment of a dungeon or raid. But if you are a hunter, you will be held to a higher standard, and any mistake you make will be called out and ridiculed. The minute you zone into an instance, it is likely that other players will be watching you and waiting for a screw-up, which they will make you aware of in the snottiest way possible. For example, I ran Throne of the Four Winds on my priest this weekend, and before we hit even a single mob, the tank asked a hunter if he was "a huntard who is going to pull for me" or something to that effect. So as a hunter, your class alone means that you will be singled out for added scrutiny, and any flaws in your performance noted with disdain and perhaps even a kick.

So, you must make extra certain not to make mistakes when playing your hunter. As the dork tank's comment above reveals, the most typical mistakes involve pulling unwanted mobs, and this most often happens with your pet. Perhaps "huntards" should more accurately be called "pet-tards," as our pets are usually the ones screwing up. So learning how to better control your pet will keep it from embarrassing you in a group.

Before you even get into a dungeon, make sure that you have filled out the talent tree for your pet (press N and select "Pet Talents" tab). This is particularly important if you like to tame new pets like I do, as each one joins your stable with an empty talent tree. Without the points assigned, your pet won't do near the damage it is capable of (BTW, a good place for pet builds would be a website like Warcraft Hunter's Union or something similar).

First up is pet stance. Put your pet on passive (the little baby seal icon indicated by the white arrow). When in passive, your pet will only attack a target when you send it there, and not move on to other mobs in the area. This is a little inconvenient as your pet will run back and forth between you and a pack of enemies, but will prevent pulling any extra mobs in the area.

To make this process a bit easier, I use a macro that I found on WowWiki. The macro casts Hunter's Mark, sends my pet to attack, and begins my autoshot all in one keypress. I have the macro bound to my 1 key as it is always my first move:

/cast Hunter's Mark
/cast Auto Shot

To make the macro, press Esc in game, click the Macro button, and paste this text into the box. You can make an icon for the keybind too; I use the Hunter's Mark icon with the word GO added. After you've made your icon, drag it into your action bar and you're good to go.

The pet stance picture above also indicates with a black arrow the proper aspect for most dungeoning: Aspect of the Hawk. I haven't found much need to use the other aspects with Gallore, so Hawk is always on for her and not a problem.

The next thing to keep track of is whether your pet has any aggro-generating ability such as Growl. If so, turn this off for dungeons, as the tank would like to keep aggro thankyouverymuch. If present, Growl is represented in your pet action bar by an open beast mouth icon as shown by the white arrow, and is often auto-cast by your pet as indicated by the gold sparkly frame. So you will need to right click on Growl to turn it off for dungeons (but don't forget to turn it back on when you go back to questing!).

The next thing is perhaps the trickiest to manage, and the one I still forget from time to time. If your group is taking a shortcut to sneak past mobs, such as jumping onto a staircase from above for example, you must dismiss your pet first. Why? Because your dumb pet doesn't understand the whole shortcut thing, and will run the regular way to your location dragging every mob it passes with it. Dismissing your pet prior to taking such a shortcut will prevent you from receiving a great deal of grief from the rest of your party.

The last thing I would caution against is not something specific to hunters, but again, since your hunter will be up for special scrutiny, it's good to try to avoid making this mistake. When using an AOE strike against a pack of mobs (Multishot for example), make sure that there are no additional non-aggroed mobs behind them. Hitting a peripheral mob with a Multishot counts as HUNTER PULLS OMG and will get people's panties in a bunch. I actually have this problem much more frequently when using Chain Lightning with my shaman, so I assume any AOE damage ability may occasionally pull unwanted mobs.

That's it for my little hunter guide! Looking back over what I've written, it's clear that the topic gets me a little riled up. This is probably because I have a little hypothesis as to why hunters get so much grief in WoW, mainly:

Whether true or not, the perception seems to be that hunters are played by females, perhaps younger females, and this may be why some players feel that they can get away with abusing them in game. However, there is also a perception that hunters are an easier class to play (I don't agree with that), and so more likely played by new players. Either way, rage-prone players sense weakness in hunters, and subject them to worse treatment than I have ever seen or experienced on any of my other toons. I don't know what the solution to this is, aside from making hunters so OP that everyone is happy to see one join their group...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oh hai, 85!

Blatella is level 85! That last level is so long, it took about 6 hours of playtime between last night and this morning to finally finish up. Today she ran Lost City of Tol'vir for the additional quest XP and dinged on her second run.

And now, transmoggery! I am so, so glad that my server Horde-side doesn't have much of a transmog market, because this awesome witch hat cost just 20G (she also got the Confer Cone Staff of Awesomeness for the same price, which she will be sending to Boomhoof)! I also switched to using Glyph of Shadowform with Blatella so that I can see her gear a bit better.

Her outfit is a bit easier to see in the login screen. She's switched from using a staff for the moment as she has the ilvl 346 Dungeoneering Guide off-hand that she made with Inscription. It looks pretty cool too, even though it doesn't quite match her outfit.

In other news, folks on my server seem to be getting a bit bored prior to the expansion. Here are some things I saw last night and this morning while in Orgrimmar...

Alliance attacks! They got smoked pretty quickly though.

Gamon got the beat-down, not once, but twice.

Much shape-shifting and dancing in front of the auction house.

One last thing that I have been thinking about: should I race change Boomhoof from tauren to troll? I like the troll boomkin form a bit better than the tauren one; however, I like the tauren flight form better than the troll one.

Troll boomkin (from

Tauren boomkin (from

Troll fast flight form (from GamerDNA)

Tauren fast flight form (from

What to do?