The State of the Blog

November is a wonderful time.

The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, things are starting to settle down for the winter.

There are holidays such as the Day of the Dead, Veterans day, and Thanksgiving. It is a wonderful relaxing time of the year.

This year though, along with everything else, there is a little something new.

Something that will likely consume all my free time, making blogging infrequent at best.

 

For the curious, it is a challenge. An attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. Needless to say I likely won’t be posting much here during the month of November.

I do have a few things that I have already written that are scheduled to go up, but not much. A Winters Veil guide to the achievements, a veterans day post, and a mostly finished post on leveling tailoring similar to the way I did Alchemy (although I would still have to do the experiment).

So there you have it. I’m not going away for good, but taking an insanity break.

I’ll stop by to check comments and respond to emails, but otherwise the blog is on autopilot until December.

Kick back and enjoy the archives, theres beer in the cooler and a pot of chili on down by the fire.

Try not to mess the place up too much before I get back.

I put my money where my keyboard was

There was a time in ages past when A blogger wrote a post about leveling Alchemy on the cheap.

In response to the comments on that post he decided to put his money where his keyboard was and see just how much it would end up costing.

Why are you looking at me like that?

Ok, Ok, I wrote the post like two weeks ago, sue me.

Anyhow, two weeks ago I took on the task of seeing just how much it would cost me in the long run to level Alchemy purely from the auction house. I did use some mats that I already had laying about, but I take their value into account. I also picked up a few more items once I reached 450.

After it was all said and done I had leveled to 450, specced for transmutation specialist, and gotten the materials for the final transmute quest at 450. In total I spent just under 1300G in cash and used about 550G or so worth of my own storehouse of materials. We will just call it an even 1900G to have a reasonably solid number.

Now, as of this writing I have only done two of the epic gem transmutes toward the quest at 450. I have three left to go before I can start transmuting Cardinal Rubies. My shopping list included the mats for making each epic gem once.

Here is whats left after over a week of listing.

Transmute spec really helped out on this one. I used fifteen of these to skill up from 435 to 450. I ended up with 19 of them after having it proc twice.  Since about half of these have sold for a bid and half on a buyout i’ll split the difference at 60g each and call this 420G once they all sell.

I also have a few flasks left over.

The flasks of agility and greater agility have been slowly selling off, but the earthen elixer and elixir of detect undead have not done so well. I am simply going to consider there a loss at this point. At best I could hope to get maybe another 10G out of these, but we shall see. More likely I’ll save the relisting cost and simply send them to my kids so they can use them on their small army of mid level characters.

Over all the strategy of crafting things that people would buy has worked out pretty well. I still have four epic gem transmutes to go over the next several days, and I am finding an average profit of about 100G on each one. That should put me at somewhere in the neighborhood of 800G still coming in from this project.

Another thing I did is to make use of the extra herbs that I bought for the leveling process. I did not waste their value by turning them into low level  potions. While those do sell I took a loss on every single thing I made until I started crafting at about 350 or better. Instead I used inscription to mill them into inks. In the same way as tipping an Enchanter to D/E a bag full of greens you have been carrying about you can find a friendly scribe and pay them to craft the inks.

Or simply put them back in the auction house, thats up to you. Personally I happen to have a scribe so I did it myself, then sold myself the inks at 80% of market value.

The idea was not to eliminate losses, that is not going to happen with low level stuff. The idea was to limit them to the point that the gains from the higher level stuff would balance out. So the question is, how did we do? We still have an estimated 800G coming back to us from the meta gems and the as yet untransmuted epics.

What do we have already?

I started with 50G to cover listing fees, when it’s all said and done I should end up with about 1980G from this little adventure.

So the answer to the question is:

While you might take a loss on some things, especially before about 350 or so skill, over the long haul you can make alchemy pay for itself.

I put my money where my keyboard was, and I’m glad I did.

I’d love to, if I only had the time

I have read a few posts this morning while catching up on my feed reader. Well over a hundred just from this weekend actually. In there were quite a few gems, I am going to talk about a pair of them now.

Euripides over at Critical QQ wrote a rather interesting post about his lack of enthusiasm about the lore while raiding. He goes so far as to say that the boss does not really even need graphics or fancy named abilities, and could in fact be a featureless blue cube named “boss”.

Both Larisa and Elina at the Pink Pigtail Inn chimed in with their thoughts as well about reconciling the story behind the game to the mechanics of it.

They are both good reads, go check them out.

Seriously, go read… I need to go make a fresh pot of coffee anyhow.

Back? Good.

 

Here, very briefly is my take on the story behind the game and how it relates to the actual playing of it.

I love the stories behind the game, I really and truly do. In fact I think Blizz has done a good job of bringing the stories to life. They have lots of interweaving plotlines, some spanning several zones and levels.

The stories as I see it fall into two categories. Tales told while leveling and tales from endgame. Sometimes they tie together, such as the Shadowmoon Valley quests leading to Black Temple. Sometimes they kind of drop the ball (we are in TOC for what reason again? I must have missed it since I hate jousting.)

The problem with the lore while leveling is the speed at which we now do it. Seriously, Diashan, my Death Knight, did parts of Hellfire, Negrand, and Terrorkar before hitting 68 and shipping out to Northrend. I use to hit 70 somewhere in Netherstorm.

Where I used to run out of quests in a zone and have to go find another my Shaman (at 18 i think) is having quests go green or grey. She is leaving zones half complete simply because she has outleveled the content.

Am I bitching? No. I chose to put the shoulders on her, I bought the breastplate, I choose to only level her rested. I am just making a point. Those with refer-an-alt will outlevel it even faster.

I think that one of the things I am most looking forward to in Cataclysm is the whole reworked leveling experience. I look forward to working my way through and actually finishing a questline before it goes grey on me. I have actually put off leveling a couple of alts for now, just because I want to see what’s in store for me.

Hell, I am almost tempted to put all my affairs in order and take a break till the expansion. I won’t since I have so much fun running with the Sidhe Devils, but I will definitely be backing off a bit.

Now lore in raids and instances is another story. The stories are grand, the characters are well developed, and the artwork is phenomenal.

At least thats what I see on videos.

You see, in an instance I am far to busy watching health bars, cooldown timers, aggro meters, deadly boss mods warnings, and staring at my fet to make sure I am not standing in green goo/fire/void zone/spilled kool-aide or whatever the random “kills you if you don’t move” crap is for that particular fight.

If I want to see what the boss looks like I go to youtube or tankspot or any number of other places to see it. When I am engaged in the fight itself I simply don’t have the time, especially if I am on my Priest. I glance away from the green bars… hell, I blink at the wrong time… and we all die.

It’s not that I don’t want to look around, it’s that I simply can’t spare the concentration. I wonder if they still put sound effects in the raids? Myself, I can’t afford that distraction either. I haven’t raided with the sound on since Karazhan. If it’s not on vent, I simply don’t hear it.

Want to solve the lack of healers problem Blizz? Make it less like playing whack-a-mole while trying not to blink.

I’ll try to answer the question simply. Yes I would love to get involved in the lore, I hope to get far more involved once Cataclysm comes. While I am raiding though, I  just can’t do it.

I’d love to, I simply don’t have the time.

Grats! now L2Tank

It’s been an interesting few days in Dech’s world.

Most of the reasons I haven’t posted have nothing to do with Wow, and as such won’t be included here. One thing that has been occupying a good chunk of my time lately though is all about Wow.

More specifically about one of my characters.

 

Drupadi the Death Knugget had spent months doing a whole lot of nothing. Well, nothing but her daily jewelcrafting quest and crafting glyphs to help team Dechion with its overarching goal of owning more gold than they need. Somehow she dosen’t think she’ll ever see that though, Dechion simply is not ruthless enough.

Silly priest, always seeing the good in people, always trying to help others.

That way lies madness.

Oh well, at least he keeps the bar tab paid.

Months she sat in Dalaran, content to enjoy her 74’th season. Nearly retired, she even had thoughts of shipping off to Ironforge and taking up a new career as a banker. If it werent for the voices she would have found a nice tavern there to move into, hanging up her sword forever.

Then, rumors started to surface. Rumors coming out of the area near Icecrown.

Travelers through the tavern in Dalaran told of a flaw in Icecrown’s defenses. A small thing, not enough for an army, but for just a few perhaps.  One grizzled old Dwarf particularly deep in the cups even talked about putting together a strike team. A group slated to go deep in the bowels of the citadel and kill Arthas where he would least expect it.

Where he lives.

Diashan got up from her table, tossed a heavy pouch to the barkeep, and headed out the door.

The voices had been particularly nasty of late, she needed to tell someone to shut the hell up.

She had let herself get into miserable shape. Her gear was a random hodgpodge of things she had found on the bodies of those that had fallen to her blade. She had even cleaned most of their blood off before taking it as her own. She needed some exercise, and a new suit of armor.

After all, one does not simply walk into Icecrown.

Two weeks later…

Now as she has been training she began putting a few odds and ends into the bank towards the day she might be called upon  to do some tanking duties. A bit of armor here and a mace there, the occasional trinket or gem. All towards eventually heading into Icecrown and telling Arthas to shut the hell up to his face.

She will likely just get killed for her efforts, then again it’s not like it would be the first time.

An Alchemy experiment

When I posted my leveling guide for Alchemy  a few days ago something kinda surprising happened.

It got comments.

Not that you wonderful folks don’t comment often, you do. It’s just that the content of the post was not one that I expected to generate much response.

Thanks… Seriously, it’s nice to know folks appreciate the work that goes into some of this stuff.

Well, in these comments a valid point was brought up. Is it possible to level Alchemy essentially for free?

Good question. I decided to try and answer it.

Yesterday I went to the auction house and bought the shopping list in that post with about an extra 15-20% of each item. The only exception was the dark jade, huge citrine, and eternal fires for the earthseige diamond transmutes. I already had more than enough of them sitting in the bank on my Jewelcrafter.

All total I spent just over 950G on that list of mats. If you include the value of the transmute mats it would have cost me roughly 1250-1300G to buy it all. This was without waiting for good deals to show up in the auction house, just taking the cheapest of what was available.

Yes, I dropped over 1000G on an experiment for my readers…. what of it?

After my spending spree I sat down for the rather tedious semi-afk process of leveling. Roughly three hours later I parked Drupadi for the night. In that time she had gone from nothing to 425 Alchemy and had the mats on her to push to 435 with stacks of stuff left over.

I decided that since I was planning to specialise in transmutation it would make a good bit of sense to go ahead and do that before I did transmutes to finish leveling. With the help of many donations of outlands primals from my guild, the wonderful Sidhe Devils, I will be finishing my transmute master quest right after I log in today. I’ll finish leveling up right after that.

Then comes the fun part, selling all the stuff.

As of now I shuttled all the stuff I made off to an alt that usually spends his time cooling his heels in Darnassus. It may take a while to get it all through the auction house, so I figured I could separate it like this and see how much I really get back from selling all my leftovers.

Will I make the 1400G I need to make his pay for itself?

Only time will tell.

Leveling Alchemy 1 – 450, on the cheap

Well Lets see here. Apparently I have this character that I would like to level Alchemy on. Now, like everyone else, I don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it. My solution is to farm up all my own herbs.

Now while this may seem self explanatory, my problem is that I have no Herbalist. One would think that this will leave me with no alternative but to buy all my herbs in the auction house. I figure at current prices it would cost me about 1K gold to level strictly by buying from the auction house. Thats a little on the expensive side.

Well, I will pick some up there if the price is right, but there is another way. By knowing in advance what I am going to need I can take herbalisim on the character who will be the alchemist and farm everything up before hand. Of course that means I need a shopping list.

 

Leveling Alchemy 1 – 450 on the cheap

Notes:

  • Dont forget to train, it wastes materials. I know this from experience.
  • I am making the choices I am because of both skill up potential and resale value. If you are both lucky and patient you could scoop everything up off the AH when it is cheap and resell everything you craft for enough money to have it come out almost even. Even if you are not in it for the long term money anything’s  better than making stuff just to vendor it.
  • Alchemy Apprentice is 1-75
  • Alchemy journeyman is 75-150
  • Alchemy Expert is 150-225
  • Alchemy Artisan is 225-300
  • Specialisation in Transmutation, Elixirs, or Potions is available through a quest at 325 skill. Minimum level 68.
  • Alchemy Master is 300-375
  • Alchemy Grand Master is 375-450
  • If I think of anything else I’ll add it here.

 

Alchemy 1-60

  • 59 x Minor Healing Potion – 59 Peacebloom, 59 Sliverleaf, 59 Empty Vial
  • Keep the  healing potions, you will need them for the next step.

Train

Alchemy 60-140

Train

Alchemy 140-210

Train

Alchemy 210-285

Train

Alchemy 285-360

Train

Alchemy 360-450

This should bring you to 450. congratulations, you can now do 5 of the 6 epic gem transmutes. Pick up the quest for Transmute: Cardinal Ruby from the Alchemy trainer in Dalaran and once you have transmuted one each of the other five types it will open up for you.
 Profit!

 Shopping list (keep in mind you will not get a point every time, I would overstock by 10-20% or so)

  • 74 x Empty Vial
  • 65 x Leaded Vial
  • 99 x Crystal Vial
  • 170 x Imbued Vial
  • 59 x Peacebloom
  • 59 x Silverleaf
  • 80 x Briarthorn
  • 30 x Bruiseweed
  • 15 x Mageroyal
  • 40 x Stranglekelp
  • 30 x Liferoot
  • 30 x Kingsblood
  • 45 x Goldthorn
  • 5 x Wild Steelbloom
  • 70 x Sungrass
  • 15 x Khadgar’s Whisker
  • 4 x Iron Bar
  • 1 x Black Vitriol
  • 4 x Purple Lotus
  • 4 x Firebloom
  • 19 x Arthas’ Tears
  • 40 x Blindweed
  • 75 x Golden Sansam
  • 40 x Mountain Silversage
  • 38 x Felweed
  • 20 x Ragveil
  • 101 x Dreaming Glory
  • 10 x Netherbloom
  • 40 x Nightmare Vine
  • 20 Talandra’s Rose
  • 70 Goldclover
  • 41 Tiger Lily
  • 24 Adder’s Tongue
  • 10 Icethorn
  • 40 Lichbloom
  • 10 Dark Jade
  • 10 Huge Citrine
  • 15 Bloodstone
  • 15 Chalcedony
  • 15 Eternal Air
  • 10 Eternal Fire

Escape to Azeroth

I, like thousands of others, just had a really interesting post from Wow.com drop into my feed reader. The Breakfast Topic is generally something they post to bring about a bit of discussion. Most days I simply skim over it, but todays post about real life cataclysms kinda hit close to home.

I’ll briefly recap for the one person out there that may actually follow my ramblings and yet not read Wow.com. The post was about how at times the game can reflect the suffering in the real world, and yet at the same time be a refuge from that suffering. If you have not read it, go check it out. It’s worth your time.

Be advised, this post is not so much about Wow as it is about my personal experiences and those of my family. If you choose to read on do so knowing that. Also know that this is my life I talk about today, not just the game. If you choose to comment please keep that in mind.

 

A little over three years ago… has it really only been that long?

Life was a lot different back then. So was I.

I was talking to a friend of mine from work about the game that he played. He was far from pushy about it, but got across the basics of the game. I picked up a copy and started goofing off with it, not realising where it would lead me.

Have you ever noticed how the smallest things seem to loom with importance when looked back upon through the lens of experience?

I was bored, all the shows I cared to watch were in reruns, and I picked up a game to amuse myself. I had no idea where that path would take me. I still don’t know where it will end, we shall see.

Slowly as I played the game I made friends online. Starting with the coworker who had introduced me to the game and moving on to guild mates. I have made some very good friends in Wow, and honestly I don’t know how I could have dealt with the next few years without both their support and the separate reality that is Azeroth.

About six months after I started playing, shortly after The Burning Crusade my mother made a mistake. She was living on her own after the death of my dad and doing relatively well. My family and I visited often, and when we were not there we were on the phone. She never went more than six or eight hours without someone either calling or stopping by.

The doctor said that is probably what saved her life.

 

One day I called to see if she would like to go out to dinner with us, as we often did back then. When she did not answer we waited a few minutes and called again. When she did not pick up that time we just hopped in the car and headed over, figuring she was napping.

When we arrived I saw what no one really ever wants to see…  mom on the kitchen floor laying in a puddle of spilt orange juice, the refrigerator door hanging open.

Mom was diabetic, badly so. Somewhere in the afternoon she had made a mistake with her insulin and diet, Taking her shot and then falling asleep before she ate.

She never did remember what happened. I can only assume she awoke on the couch realising that her sugar was low and tried to get some orange juice into her system before it was too late. She lost that race.

Had we not stopped in when we did she would have ben gone that day.

 

When she got out of the hospital a bit over a month later she moved in with us. I learned way more about diabetes during the next two years than most folks learn in their lifetime. I also learned about other things like Alzheimer’s disease, chronic pain management, and drug side effects and interactions.

For two long years my family and I watched her slowly come unglued as her health failed. We spend countless hours with the doctors working to make things better. Even the doctors eventually said all we could do is keep her comfortable until the end comes.

By all rights we could have simply put her into a nursing home and awaited the inevitable call. Most folks would have, especially towards the end.

We could have, but we didn’t.  As long as the doctors who were monitoring things said we could still handle it at home we did. As long as they are able a family takes care of their own, thats just how it works. Anything else is so foreign to me that it doesn’t even register.

Watching it all happen was, shall we say, less than pleasant.

During one of her stays in the hospital, a bit over two years after moving in with us, the call came. My brother and I needed to be there… like now. We made it there just as she finally was too tired to keep fighting and passed away.

 

During those two years I found refuge in the game. I could log in any time day or night and know that everything would be right where I left it. I might be up at three in the morning farming primals, I might be pugging my way through Shattered Halls, I might just be sitting in Shattrah watching the trade chat trolls banter back and forth.

Escaping into a virtual world could not make the pain go away, but it could make it slip to the back of my mind for a little while. It was never completely gone, but for a little while I could slip away to a place where things were easier.

It was a place I could go and have fun relaxing with friends, while still being home if I was needed.

Friends that sat up talking to me all night long when things were so bad I could not sleep.

Friends that said not a word when I left with no more than a quick “Afk” before I vanished, sometimes for days. No matter what we were doing in Azeroth I could walk away and it was understood.

Friends that in some cases I have now met in real life and talk with more out of the game than inside it.

The friends I made in that virtual world are just as real as those I have made anywhere else.

Many, many a long night I sat up with them, one ear on vent and the other ear listening. Waiting for any change in her ragged breathing, or a call to come help her.

 

The world of Azeroth may not be real, but the people there most certainly are. During my own personal cataclysm it was a refuge. A place I could go where I could still have control. A place where things made sense and the reward always came if you finished the quest. The quest giver never said “sorry, you did everything right and it still didn’t matter”.

 

A lot has changed in the year and a half she has been gone. I don’t play nearly as much anymore. Most of the friends I had then are scattered across different servers. Some have quit the game entirely, some just want different things from the game than I do now.

One thing I have learned though, is when things were really bad one of the things that kept me sane was Warcraft and its virtual world.  I could log in, if only for a while, and take a mental vacation there.

Almost as though, before it all happened,  my friend had sent a touristy postcard saying “Escape to Azeroth”.

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