Oh, snap!

Snap!

Crackle!

Crunch!

No your not hearing a popular (and trademarked) breakfast cereal. That was a recreation of the sounds my laptop made as the hinge holding the monitor on cracked in half and tried to take the rest of the case with it. Seeing as how this is the machine I both play Wow on and write posts for your amusement, it kinda put a bit of a damper on my day.

Ok, so maybe it was more than a damper. I might even possibly have let loose a string of colorful language sufficient to cause the dogs to go hide behind the couch, vaporize my glass of soda, and have a friend come over from two doors down to make sure I was alright. That might have happened, but I can’t confirm it. I was too busy trying to hold what remained of my computer together.

 

 

*Shaking fist* “Curse you Murphy! How dare you do this on patch day! I have Wow to play and posts to write!”

Hmm, good thing I am kinda handy with tools. Especially since I fix things for a living. After all its just a little computer, how hard could it be, right? So I grab my doctors tool bag and commence opening the patient up. Wow there’s a lot of tiny little things inside a laptop, apparently they are assembled by specially trained miniaturised people, or at least ones that don’t have sausage like fingers. But I digress.

I figured out what needed replaced and started looking for a new bottom half of the case, surprisingly there are two places that still carry them, even though Gateway no longer does. To be fair they did put me in touch with the aftermarket suppliers. Of course they are both out of stock.

Not only are they out of stock but it turns out the case is made of some rare precious metal, possibly mined on the dark side of the moon. That is the only way I can see justifying charging people $200 for a piece of molded plastic with a few metal bits attached.

So here I sit, laptop in pieces all over my desk and no parts to be had.

Coincidence of coincidences, my son is watching Apollo 13 for about the 9 millionth time. As I pass through trying to figure out what to do I see one of my favorite scenes from the show. Several engineers are sitting around a conference table looking very serious. In walks someone, dumps a box of random stuff on the table, and while waving both round and square filters at them says “you have to find a way to make this (square filter) fit onto the hole make for that (round filter) using nothing but that (the pile of stuff on the table)”.

Ding! The light goes on, the idea comes. If I can’t replace it, I am just going to have to make it work with whatever I have laying around. Yes, I realise they were working to save lives and truly had no other options. Yes I realise that I could just go to the store and purchase a nice new laptop if I really wanted to. I don’t want a new one though, I want this one fixed. There has to be something here that will work…..

*rustling noises as drawers and cabinets get ransacked*

I come up with some random bits of scrap metal, a roll of duct tape, and some JB weld. It’s not much, but should be enough to improvise something.

18 hours of metal cutting and shaping, JB weld drying, and reassembly later my computer is finally fixed. Hell you can barely even tell where the new brackets are mounted, and I barely had to cut away any of the case at all. Best of all is that the only thing it cost me was time.

Now to download the patch and rebuild my UI when I get home. With any luck I can actually post something game related in a day or two. In the meantime I am going to steal an idea from Big Bear Butt for something to do while I download. I am kinda in the mood for  Junkyard Wars now.

Random ramblings on rapid respecs

A few days ago I wrote a post about the coming of dual talent specs and how I thought it would bring more versatility to the game. I looked at this as a way to make yourself more versatile within a group and at the same time have a spec for solo play. A well written post at Blessing of Kings, along with the commentary that went with it brought up a very different perspective.

Being able to change specs is nothing new, even mid run its nothing new.  As the game sat yesterday (before they took it down to change the world) a player could be ported to a city, respecced, and summoned right back to the instance. It happens, but not often. The reason for that? Respecs are not cheap. 

Will the same type of guilds that currently force a player to have a certain spec in order to raid now force two specs?

I am still trying to wrap my head around the long term implications of this change. Looking more at it I can see that while I personally would not be guilded with a group that tried to force me to spec a certain way I can see that some would. They would sacrifice their non raiding fun on the altar of progression. Even then the player can still respec one of their trees during non-raid days to be able to do other things.

The player that gets forced now will get forced then. Therefore they are no worse off. The player that simply can’t afford to swap back and forth will get the benefit. In short not everyone wins, but nobody loses.

To call it game changing is an understatement, but I think there is a lot more going on with this than I am seeing.

For the same reasons that I can’t come right out and say “Potion sickness will destroy raiding” or “My class got nerfed, all the others are OP” I can’t really make judgments on how some of the changes will effect the game. I also realise that all my perceptions are based on the game I am used to at level 70. The changes they are putting out are balanced for level 80, I need to try to remember that. I also need to remember that we do not have all the data yet.

Will swapping specs have a cost? Not likely, but unknown.

Will there be a cooldown? Unknown, however early statements would indicate a short one if any.

Will you need to swap out gear? Most likely to make a good showing of it. The new spellpower system will help healing type casters, but you will likely be gemmed and enchanted differently for different roles.

What I need to remember is that Blizzard has a lot more information on the way the game mechanics work than I do. They have both the solid data on where it is now, and the vision of where we are going. I simply have to trust that they will not put something this big into the game without putting measures in place to limit any damage it might cause.

Now that is the last I will say about dual specs until we have more hard data. I don’t want to look months into the future right now, I want to look at this afternoon. The world is down, the patch is being applied. I need to go spend some quality time with Wowheads talent calculator and figure out what I am going to be later today. The future will take care of itself.

Get ready for Echoes of Doom.

It’s a brave new world out there, go grab a hunk.

The biggest buff yet

First let me apologize for yesterdays rant.

Reading back over it I kinda come off sounding like a spoiled teenager who did not get his way.  Well that is totally not true, I am actually a spoiled adult that did not get his way. I just need to plan better for next year. Better planning for next year, thats definately on my list of things to work on.

During this mornings reading I found a really interesting site I thought I would link, The Daedalus Project. It is a really fascinating study of the psychology and demographics of MMORPG’s. I got started reading and did not look up for over and hour. Go ahead and go check it out, I’ll be here when you get back.

/dance

Back? Good.

I just wanted to touch briefly on what I consider one of the most game changing new features, the ability to swap between two talent specs on the fly. It was specifically stated that respeccing between the two specs of your choice would be possible while still in an instance between fights. It will not work in arena, and although not stated I am assuming it will not work in combat either.

I don’t think how game changing this truly is has hit people yet. It’s like having the best of both worlds. Its more than the Pally who can have Healing/ DPS/ Protection (pick 2 from column a) or the Warrior who can have a Protection build and a DPS build at the same time. The things you can do with this are not limited by the more traditional roles, but by your creativity.

Take my priest Morham for instance. He specced as a 23/38/0 Improved Divine Spirit healer within hours of hitting level 70 and has been there ever since. I would have loved to do a bit of DPS from time to time, but I am too cheap to respec constantly. I would have loved to try out Circle of Healing, but always needed to be 23 points deep in Discipline to get the spirit buff for everyone.

What if, after this goes live, I were to build a deep holy healing build that does not have those 23 points. I gimp my raid by taking away that buff right? Wrong. I will have a second build in the wings. A Discipline DPS build, built around holy damage and Smiting. That build has the Improved Divine Spirit.

Once every 30 minutes I switch to my Discipline build, buff the raid, and switch back to deep holy.

I have not looked deep into how this will effect everyone or every class, that was just one example that popped into my head like a lightbuld coming on as I read the news. It lets you do more with less. We will be much more likely to be able to be able to build a group with the people who are availible as everyone will have more of a choice of what role to play at that point in time. It effectively makes every class a hybrid.

For me this is the greatest buff to come out of WotLK. I can have my cake and eat it too.

Blizzcon is here! And I QQ about it! News at 11:30!

It is happening this very weekend in sunny Anaheim California, and I am sitting at the office staring at the wall.

I had every intention of going this year. Despite the 5000 or so mile round trip if I drove. Despite the airfare and hotel costs that could easily have added up to enough to buy a good used car outright. Despite the difficulty of getting vacation set up after December in a shop run by seniority. Despite it all I was going to be there.

Even if I had to use up all my sick days I was going to be there.

Even if I had to eat MREs and sleep in my van I was going to be there.

Hell it would have been worth it just to have one of these.

Photo courtesy of MMO-Champion

Photo courtesy of MMO-Champion

 

 

Then Murphy showed up and proceeded to beat me about the head and shoulders with a series of things that simply made it impossible to make it. Even if I was one of the lucky few to get a ticket during the feeding frenzy, which I was not. Nor did I win the opportunity to purchase a pair in the Lottery, Curse you Murphy!

It seems that I can’t even buy a copy of the pay-per-view on DVD. I do not have Direct TV and I can’t get it without breaking another contract that I have now (or paying for 2 services for a year). Since that is not in my budget I figured I would find a friend with Direct TV and a DVD burner that would let me order and record the coverage at their place. Once again Murphy kicks me in the head, looks like that is not going to happen. Apparently no one that I know has both the combination of the right electronics and the desire to give up their TV for 16 hours this weekend.

Looks like I will spend a good chunk of my day checking my blogroll for folks who did make it and dropping in on MMO-Champion from time to time to check for updates.

On the plus side the Twisted Nether blogcast is doing a live round table this evening at 11:30 PM CST (yes I realise that is technically Saturday morning for you east coasters). I might even be able to go lurk in the chat room for that one, so perhaps my weekend is not a total washout.

All Hallowed out

Well friends, it looks like another holiday is rapidly approaching. No I am not talking about International call in sick to work day on November 13th (at least its not a Friday), I am talking about  one of my favorite holidays, Hallows Eve. It runs from October 18th thru November 1st, so it is right around the corner.

 

 

Do you love the headless horseman events, the wands and masks, and eating candy till you get sick?

I certainly do. This year is even more exciting. Not only is it rumored that the headless horseman will drop a mount in the form of his horse, but for the truly nuts amongst us are now 13 achievements associated with the holiday. Completing all of them results in knocking a rung off the “what a long, strange trip its been” achievement and the title “the hallowed”.

I figured as long as I was taking notes for myself I would selfishly deny you a real post and put it up here where I can’t lose it. So in place of a real post, here it is.

 

The overarching achievement for this holiday is Hallowed be thy name. It is the one that awards the title “The Hallowed” (Must have for my holy priest). The requirements of this one are simple, complete all 12 of the other Hallows eve achievements. Oddly enough I plan to list them all here. Go figure.

Trick or Treat! starts out simple enough, Receive a handful of a candy from one of the Candy Buckets located in an inn.  Piece ‘o cake so far.

Out with it seems like a pretty simple one as well, simply eat so many Tricky Treats that you get an upset tummy. After getting tanked up at Brewfest, this will be second nature.

Bring me the head of… Oh, wait Getting a little harder to do now, this one requires you to be in on a Headless Horseman kill. You have to be a minimum on level 20 simply to walk into Scarlet Monastery’s Graveyard. Unless you can get a very understanding group you will not be doing this one unless you are 70. I do know of people that brought lower levels through last year hoping to have an epic ring waiting in the bank when they hit 70. There is enough to say about this one for it to rate it’s own post. I will try to have that written and up before the start of Hallows eve.

The Savior of Hallow’s End Calls for completing one of the “save the village” Daily quests, Either of which involve putting out the fires when the Horseman comes. 

Every 4 hours ( at 4, 8 and 12), the Headless Horseman’s “Shade of Horseman” will attack Kharanos, Goldshire, Azure Watch, Razor Hill, Brill, and Falconwing Square. He will start off by circling and lighting fires. Put out the fires and he will land to fight as a level 11 non-elite mob. Beat him up and take his candy.

A Mask for all occasions is going to involve both luck and persistence. It calls for you to collect all twenty of the flimsy masks. Although if you don’t get them all this year they will still be recorded towards next year. Too bad they are BOP. I really hate thinking that somewhere a random number generator is deciding whether I can got this one done or not. I guess I’ll just trick or treat a lot and hope for the best.

That Sparkling Smile seems pretty straight forward. Simply use a toothpick to show off your sparkling smile. Unless you are Gatetruby, in which case you can show off your sparkling upper jawbone.

Rotten Hallow has two different versions and they sound like a good bit of fun. Particularly on a PVP server. The Alliance version calls for you to ruin Hallow’s End for the Horde by completing Sergeant Hartman’s quests in Southshore. These involve crashing the wickerman festival in Tirisfal Glade and cleaning up the stinkbombs from Southshore.

The Horde version calls upon you to ruin Hallow’s End for the Alliance by completing the quests given by Darkcaller Yanka’s at the Wickerman festival in Tirisfal Glade. These involve going to Southshore, ruining the kegs with rotten eggs and tossing stinkbombs into the town.

G.N.E.R.D. Rage sounds like a good bit of fun also. It calls for you to get 50 honorable kills while under the influence of the G.N.E.R.D. buff. I will probably grab a stack of these and head off to do the battleground daily.

Check your head is another fairly simple one. Just Use Weighted Jack-o’-Lanterns to put pumpkin heads on each of the ten playable races. Sounds like a job for Shattrah outside the bank.

The Masquesrade could be a bit more tricky. It calls for you to be transformed by all 7 different Hallowed wands. Since you have to be in a party to use it on someone and cannot (if I remember correctly) target yourself, this will require a bit of cooperation with others. Expect to see people in trade chat asking to be transformed into a Bat or Leper Gnome. Still, easily doable.

Tricks and Treats of Azeroth is yet another with both Horde and Alliance versions. These are both simple and look to be really time consuming. It calls for you to complete the Kalimdor, Eastern Kingdoms and Outland Tricks and Treats achievements. Those in turn call for you to visit every candy bucket in the world. I won’t list them all here as you can find complete lists behind the link, but I did do a quick count and found 44 total for the Alliance and 47 for the Horde.  There is enough going on with this one to rate it’s own post as well.

As time consuming as this one looks to be it holds not a candle to our last challenge.

Here it is the big daddy of them all. You have spent the time, done the quests, killed the boss, ran all over the world, eaten candy till you turned green. Whats left you ask? Buy a lottery ticket and pray. The final achievement, and the one most likely to make or break your try for the title is Sinister Calling.

It sounds simple enough, just get two drops from the Headless Horseman. It sound easy until you realise that the drops are the Hallowed Helm with it’s 9% drop rate and the Sinister Squashling with it’s wonderful 2% drop rate. Not only do they have to drop for you, but you still have to win the roll.

Well, I think that enough of an overview for now. Look for a post coming up on the Tricks of Azeroth achievement as well as one for the Headless Horseman.

9 Random things to do

Bored?

Burned out?

Well that makes 27,432 of us (and counting).

I figure that instead of waiting for a month to see new things and face new challenges I would try to make up a few of my own. Nothing complicated, just something to do while I wait for Wrath to hit.

1. Win the Stanglethorn Vale fishing contest.

2. Want to see how good you really are at PVP? Go que up your bank toon and see how well you can do.

3. Open trade with a gold begger, put 100g in the trade window and see how long they will wait for you to click accept before giving up and leaving. You might want to pack a lunch.

4. Speaking of gold beggers. Make a macro that will whisper them the catchy part of some song lyrics, attempting to get it stuck in their head.

5. Grab 9 friends for a lowbie raid. All ten of you roll new alts, level to 10 and try to raid either Wailing caverns or Deadmines.  I’m thinking 2 tanks, 3 healers, and 5 DPS.

6. Get some friends together and play darts. Pick someplace with good long fall and place a character who can rez at the bottom. Have everyone jump, trying to be the one who hits closest to the rezzer. The floating rocks in Negrand seem like a good place for this one. 

7. Be like everyone else and spend the next month grinding for one thing or another.

8. Run out of things to do, stand in Shattrah and engage in deep discussions of politics with like minded intelligent people.

9. Make french fries and use garlic salt instead of table salt. Yes I know, not Wow related. Wait, you could eat them while playing! Ha! now its Wow related.

Whatever you do, make it fun. Don’t just sit waiting for next month, play the game we have now.

Why, oh why, do I think of these things?

I was on the beta a day or three ago when I heard it.  Just standing in Shat minding my own business and there in front of me were two people arguing about how replacing healing and damage with spellpower was going to be the end of the world. Great cracks opening in the ground, the dead rising from the grave, dogs and cats living together, you get the Idea. They talked on and on about how everyone would be after the same gear, how there would be no variety.

The mage was convinced this was put in place for the sole purpose of making everyone else take his loot.  

The priest was certain that with so many dps cloth wearers out there that she would always get out rolled on her loot.

 

 

Admittedly it was more entertaining than watching TV, so I just kinda sat there and watched. I figure if they wanted this to be private they would use whispers instead of chat bubbles. Back and forth it went, no one seeming to make any headway. After about 15 minutes or so I decided to say something. They had been going back and forth without really comparing anything.

Well, it just so happens that I have been really lucky in Kara and actually had both the healing and dps tier 4 gloves on me at the time. I linked them both so they could compare what the change actually looks like. Oddly they were still able to tell the difference between the healing piece with MP5 and the DPS piece with crit.

The conversation then turned to how even though one piece might be better for one or the other it could still be used by both. Mage having mana issues in long fights? swap in a few pieces of “healing” gear for the mana regen. Priest need a bit of hit/crit? swap in a bit of dps gear. Farmed that “perfect” piece of gear till you can run the instance in your sleep (and likely have) without it dropping? Odds are something close did and you are using that while you keep trying.

It seems at the end of the day that both were happy with the way it looks like it will work out. There will be less shards, less wasted gear, and easier gearing up. Overall it seems like a win-win to me.

 So off I went, logging back to the live servers to work on my upcoming hunter. I still had the whole thing rolling around in my head though. Somehow I ended up thinking of it like a commercial for a certain trademarked candy that we will not mention by name.

 

 

 

Mage: Hey! you got your healing on my spell damage!

Priest: No, you got your spell damage on my healing!

struggle, struggle, struggle…

Both: Hey! this spellpower stuff is pretty good!

 

Why, oh why, do I think of these things?

Raiding in WotLK.

I read an interesting post this morning from the Greedy Goblin. In it he makes several good points about the life cycle of a guild. He points out that, in The Burning Crusade at least, guilds tended to reach a certain level of progression and stagnate there.

If I am reading it correctly he states that the leadership and it’s attitude were the primary cause of the stagnation. Therefore, he reasons, that once you personally are done with an area of progression you should move on to a guild that is at the level of progression that you are looking for.

For example, you managed to get all the gear you need from Kara while the guild was still working on the instance, it would be time to /gquit and move on to a guild that is doing the early 25 man content. In this way your personal progression would be sped up quite a bit. The reasoning is that while you may be leaving the guild you are not preventing others from following you up the progression ladder, so no one is hurt in the deal.

My thoughts are a bit different on this subject, then again seeing the last boss of TBC go down was never one of my goals. Would I like to down Arthas in Wrath? Of course I would. Will I? Possibly, we shall see.

I think that the stagnation of guilds in The Burning Crusade was more brought on by design decisions within the game than anything else. In my opinion, the stagnation of guilds was brought about by two things, format change and lengthy attunements.

The attunement system was designed to be a time sink. Since some folks were not able to dedicate the same amount of time to grinding out the key to each level of raiding people started getting left behind. I know many people who will say right out that you are not a “real” raider unless you have done your attunement quests. Personally I think that’s a bit silly, especially now.

Take my priest Morham for example, He has never done the Kara key quest. He has not done the attunement to SSC. He has not finished the attunements to BT and MH. On the other hand he has healed his way through Kara enough times that he is exalted with the violet eye just from the rep from mob and boss kills. He has taken down Magtheridon several times and Gruul more than a few as well. He has logged a few trips to SSC as well, with a few boss kills under his belt there. The quests did not make or brake his ability to do his job in raiding, just effected his ability to go.

Where the attunements were a time sink that caused the stagnation of an individual, the format change from 10 players in Karazan to 25 in Mags, Gruuls, and SSC was the real brick wall for many guilds.

I have seen many guilds go through an endless cycle of gearing up people through Kara and badge gear only to have people slowly trickle away to higher progressed guilds. Was this because the guild had failed to advance? No, it was because the guild was tasked with getting 25 – 30 players geared and ready for 25 player content with only Kara and heroics to gather gear from. Many of these guilds would lose their better geared players to other guilds that were more advanced causing them to repeatedly have to start over with gearing up.

Do I fault the players for leaving? No. They want to progress through the game not farm Kara for 6 months until everyone has finally gotten their drops. As I said it was not a failure by the guilds or the players, it was a failure in game mechanics.

Fortunately I don’t think it will be the same in WotLK. The addition of both 10 and 25 player versions of complete paths of raid progression was not an accident. By doing that and not placing lengthy attunements or rep grind requirements on access to the various instances they have taken away one of the wedges that drove guilds apart, instead replacing it with a reason to stick together.

In short, I think in WotLK guilds will become more of a place to stay and progress together, rather than stepping stones to ever more advanced content.  Will some people stay while others go? probably. Will new people come to fill the gaps? Most certainly. Will I still be there when it’s all said and done?

Yes.

Thats stability, and in my book it’s a good thing.

Professions professions

Professions, Professions. What to do….

I sit this morning pondering A conversation I had yesterday with a friend of mine I can’t link to. Not because he wants to be all anonymous and stuff, or that you wouldn’t get a chuckle out of hearing him talk about the game. He just does not happen to have a blog (that I know of). His take on the Internet seems to be one more of “log in, play, log off”. Anyhow, i digress.

We were talking yesterday about what professions we intend to take in the expansion. The things that came up most was the question of which professions are “must have” and which are just fun. Which ones are money sinks *cough* Enchanting *cough* and which offer the best benefit to their crafters.

 

 

Going through my feed reader this morning I also spotted an excellent article on this topic by Shia of Bananna Shoulders. You can check it out HERE. Just remember to come back, I am not done babbling yet.

Back yet? Good. Here is what our conversation boiled down to. There are three reasons to level a profession (that I can think of). I will take a brief look at each one.

Cash 

First, I see leveling a profession as a way to make money. However depending on the skill some are simply not very good at it. In order to make money with a profession you must either have a limited source item such as a dropped pattern, a cooldown such as a transmute, or simply be a supplier to others using a gathering skill. If you don’t have one of those three things people leveling their skill and crafting for free for the skillups will forever keep prices of easy to get items down. In short, you will never make back your investment in leveling the skill.

An Edge

Second, I see a profession as a way to get the end game advantages that are only available to the practitioners of a given skill, such as Bind on pickup crafted items and stat bonuses. My own Primal Mooncloth gear comes to mind as a good example, it is the reason I leveled tailoring on my priest. I also see that coming up with the next patch even the long overlooked gathering skills will have specific buffs. Need more crit? level Skinning. Need more health? Mining might be for you.

Synergy

Third, Taking a profession because it just kind of “goes well” with another. Mining feeds Engineering, Blacksmithing, and Jewelcrafting. Herbalisim feeds Alchemy and Inscription. Skinning feeds Leatherworking. Tailoring and Enchanting often go together since neither require a specific gathering skill. Its all about making everything work together, allowing you to farm up your own materials and saving you money and aggravation.

 

So what to do? It depends on your style of play. Are you forever strapped for cash? Looking to make money without spending a ton? Find a profession that will give you a good return on your investment. Think gathering professions or perhaps Alchemy for the transmute cooldowns.

Are you spending your time in raids, arenas, battlegrounds, or anywhere else that the extra “edge” would truley matter? If so find the best combination to give you the buffs you want, regardless of cost.

You might be a person who could not conceive of leveling a production skill without having the gathering skill to support it. Perhaps even having multiple characters with all the right skills to work together. An example are the characters of the friend I was talking to. His two highest level characters are a Rogue with Mining and Engineering and a Paladin with Blacksmithing and Jewelcrafting. For him its all about making everything work together.

You could even be like me, leveling more than one character trying to strike a balance between all three.