Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Believe It Or Not

...people are still showing up here on a daily basis.

Might as well give them something to read.

After my last post, I logged in and made several overdue and well-deserved officer promotions (Millea/Tatia being one). They offered to hold down the fort while I did what I needed to. I love my guild.

I've been online more in the past couple weeks. Messed around this past Saturday with holiday achievements, got in a raid that didn't get far, and got to see the new 5s for the first time.

The new dungeons are simply beautiful. Kudos, Blizz.

I also dabbled in the new random dungeon system. Pet or not, I hate PuGs and will probably not be volunteering myself for it on too regular a basis. I have to say, though, that I got very lucky with PuG members the first time I tried it. The dungeons were easy and the folks we picked up were solid players. Quite painless, overall.

I suppose it helps to be the tank, but that doesn't stop people from pulling for you as I've learned in the past. I like to set a brisk pace (assuming the healer is keeping up), but I will slow down if necessary to maintain control over the pulls. Must not have been too bad for our cross-server groupmates, as nobody complained about it.

I picked up the T9 shoulders with Triumph emblems. I could have waited a bit and picked up the higher ilvl non-tier shoulders, but I was in need of an upgrade and the shoulders provided much-needed expertise. I'm hoping I can get some runs in this week to pick up another emblem upgrade and, possibly, grab some items from the new dungeons.

It's good to be back.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Resurrection or Redemption

It's been a long time since I've posted something here. It's been a long time since I've really wanted to.

As we all know, real life has a tendency of getting in the way of our best laid plans. I had every intention of taking my new guild as far into the endgame as I possibly could, documenting our triumphs here. Haven't done either.

Had every intention of leveling a couple of alts to 80. Only managed 70.

Had every intention of being a good guild master. I've barely been online.

H1N1 made its way through our house, we're preparing for a surgery for the Baby Tank, we've had endless drama surrounding a family member and a custody battle, and I've been trying to balance all of that family stuff with work...both my day job and my other job.

Most nights, I don't have the energy to log in. Even some weekends. This past weekend, for example, once I got all the real life stuff out of the way there wasn't anything left in the tank (no pun intended).

I'd like to get back online and playing with some degree of regularity. I've already told my guild that I will likely not be raiding, but in reality I've completely let them down because I haven't even been available..

Bottom line: you can't run a guild if you're not in-game.

Should probably just do what's best for everybody and turn it over.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hallowed Be My Name

That post title felt a little blasphemous.

I don't usually do holiday stuff, but Cheesi and I spent a lot of time last year racking up Hallow's End achievements. When this year rolled around, I was only about 5 away from the title.

By the way, Blizz, thanks for getting rid of that "get 428 masks by trick-or-treating" achievement.

Anyway, my wonderful guildies put up with me last night long enough to help me get the "Hallowed" title. We killed the Horseman over and over and over and I managed to pick up the Squashling and the Hallowed Helm thanks to a couple of lucky rolls.

Eckhart/Sunfury is desperately seeking the Horseman's mount. I don't particularly care if I get it or not, so if I have the chance I'll try and help him get it. He'll have one less roll to contend with that way.

I'm really just happy with the title. Of all the holiday events, Hallow's End is my favorite. Who knows? Maybe actually accomplishing this one will convince me to be a little more active with the holidays on a go-forward basis.

We'll see.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Circus

I've been a musician for a long time...almost 3/4 of my life. I love everything about it: driving for hours on end, eating horribly, living on bad gas station coffee and energy drinks, the sound check, the hurry up and wait, the heat of the lights on stage, the energy from the crowd, and the complete exhaustion that sets in after you give your all.

A lot of people compare it to a circus. That's a pretty decent analogy, really. It's all so crazy and you don't have time to process half of what's going on.

My home life is a circus, too. This morning the dog had an accident on the basement stairway (three guesses who got to clean it up), Baby Tank had a spina bifida-related problem (a minor one...just took time to fix), kids were yelling at each other and fighting over the bathroom, and amidst all that I had to get showered and ready for work.

One of my deficiencies as a functional adult is, as Cheesi will tell you, my inability to balance things. I'm really, really bad at it. I go to work, play and promote my music, run a guild, lead raids, deal with kids, etc, etc, etc. I manage to pull it off, but rarely with flying colors.

I haven't played WoW much in the past week, but I did get online this weekend for quite a while. It was a lot of fun. I ran Ulduar on Mis and monkeyed around with a couple of Hallow's End achievements, and I leveled Mactire the Death Knight in the hope that one day in the near future he'll get to snag some Northren herbs for his Inscription.

But, like most guilds, we've had some drama. We are losing one of our absolute best raiders to another guild on another server. That's a huge blow to EoF. He's one of the best DPS Warriors I've ever seen, very well geared, loyal, dedicated, and a smart, smart player. Not to mention he's a really cool guy.

In addition to that, there's been a rift developing over something that happened while I was away. I won't go into details, but it's something that will strike fear into the heart of anyone who's ever managed a guild as a GM or an officer: Loot Drama.

I had a blast this weekend, but finding out about these things was like a punch in the gut. My 9-5 job is crazy, my music job is crazy, my house is crazy, and when I see things like this happen (among adults, mind you...which makes it all the more frustrating) I just can't seem to muster the energy to put on a happy face and deal with the situation in a rational manner.

My problems with balance should have deterred me from starting a guild. Either I live online and neglect everything around me or I hop on once in a while and neglect the guild. I'm not good with gray areas.

I've gotta figure this out.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

That Ability Is Not Ready Yet

Waiting on the cooldown.

I sat down at the computer the other night and stared at my Raptr login screen. A couple of folks were online and it said they were playing WoW. I opened the Curse client and updated addons, logged onto the guild website and crossed Ignis off of our progression chart, monkeyed around with my Myspace and Facebook profiles, and called it a night.

WoW was sitting right there on the desktop. Would have been easy to log in, say hi, cycle my auctions, and log off.

I didn't, though. Why? Just not ready. I know the second I log in I'll be bombarded with questions. I just don't have the patience for that right now. I don't feel like running an instance, doing dailies, or farming.

Will my desire to do those things come back? Absolutely. I'm seriously considering jumping into a raid or two this weekend if the opportunity presents itself, but a couple of nights ago I just couldn't bring myself to log in.

I'm on my way back. Not quite there yet, but I'm working on it.

Still need to build up some rested XP.

Friday, October 16, 2009

RL Crit - Part II

I've gotten into the habit of posting on this site almost every weekday. I've been blessed to have so many people stop by to read and comment, and I've made so many friends via this blog and its related Twitter account. This has been a blast.

Because of some personal circumstances, though, it's time to take a step back and slow down a bit...both here and in-game. I'm not abandoning blogging or playing altogether, but I have to handle some stuff that a pixelated person can't.

I'll probably still post here once in a while. I'll probably still hop on and off my Twitter account as well. Neither, however, will happen as frequently as they have in the past.

Thanks, all. Take good care of yourselves. I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

RL Crit

How much defense does it take to eliminate crits from real life? Anybody?

The last five days have been crazy. Absolutely, completely, insanely crazy.

I haven't been on WoW the past two nights, which is probably a good thing considering I was way off my game while we were raiding over the weekend. Sloppy pulls, forgetting to Vig, etc. Just wasn't really with it.

Still, we downed Kologarn and hit a brick wall with the Iron Council. Still couldn't get Ignis, although we think we know what we were doing wrong so he should drop this week. We one-shot the bosses we had downed the week before, which is a good sign.

Tried out ToC and got nowhere in a hurry. We weren't expecting much out of it, so it wasn't a huge letdown. We just wanted to get in and poke around a bit.

EoE was epic frustration. I'm two kills shy of my CotFW title (Maly and H-AN). I really wanted to knock Maly off that list, but we just couldn't get a decent shot at him. First try, wiped in Phase 1. Second try, wiped in Phase 2. Third try, wiped in Phase 3. Theoretically, one more shot would have probably done the trick, but we just didn't have it in us.

We overgear the heck out of EoE, but most of us hadn't seen it before and there's enough going on that lack of experience with the fight can and will be your downfall. We'll get him sooner or later.

I'm hoping to sneak in a couple of raids this week, but my RL drama is still unfolding, so we'll see how it plays out.

Gonna try to toss up a post here or there, but they'll probably be a bit more sporadic than normal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Advice for a Fresh 80

I get a lot of whispers from level 80 Warriors who are taking on tanking for the first time. The whispers come from both within my guild and from without, and the questions are usually pretty similar.

I've said a million times that there are a ton of sites that do a much better job than I ever could as far as Protection Warrior theorycrafting and number-crunching...I'm not even going to pretend to throw my hat in that ring.

What I can do, however, is hastily throw together a list of answers to the questions I usually get. I'm going to dumb this down, not because I believe my readers are dumb, but, on the contrary, because I'm an idiot who can't explain it in anything but a simple manner.

~*~

Here goes nothing:

What is the defense cap? For raids, it's 540. For heroics, it's 535. Why the difference? Because raid bosses are level 83 and heroic bosses are level 82.

Do I have to be at the defense cap to tank a heroic? The answer to that one, from a purely technical standpoint, is no. The defense cap is there to make sure that you don't get crit by a boss because boss crits hurt. If you take a couple of crits in a row, even in a heroic, your healers probably won't be able to keep up with the burst damage and you'll die. So no, you don't have to be at the cap to tank a heroic or a raid, but you should be.

I'm at 520 defense, and this upgrade has 40 additional defense on it, won't that put me at 560 and shouldn't I go for something that won't put me that far over the cap? I get this one a lot, and don't feel bad if you've asked it. The defense targets of 535 and 540 refer to defense skill. The defense number on items refers to defense rating. Every point of defense skill, at level 80, will give you roughly 1/4 a point of defense skill. It's not exactly 1/4, but if you're trying to calculate it on the fly, it's a good way to eyeball it. For the example above, you'll wind up at about 530 defense skill after the upgrade.

The higher your level, the less skill you get for each point of rating. Back at 70 when I was eyeballing upgrades the number was closer to .4 skill/rating, so I generally just cut the amount of rating in half and knocked off a point or two to guesstimate it.

Veneretio has some helpful calculators that will give you the exact numbers. There are also addons that can help you out by giving you the true increase/decrease in defense of an upgrade. Bottom line: if you're guesstimating on the fly, assume it's about 1/4.

What should my rotation be? It's not a rotation, it's a tiered priority system.

First of all, take Sunder Armor off of your Defensive Stance bar. Devastate does that and does damage/threat, ergo, it's better.

Also, please, for the sake of all that is good and sexy, take Rend off of your Defensive Stance bar. You want every point of rage you spend to generate threat, and from that standpoint Rend is a grotesque waste of perfectly good rage.

Here's the priority sytem, assuming a single target:
  1. Shield Slam/Revenge/Devastate
  2. Concussion Blow/Shockwave
  3. Thunderclap/Demoralizing Shout
T-Clap and Demo Shout should be kept up, as both are exceptionally good debuffs that help keep you alive. Also, make sure your sunders (via Devastate), don't drop off. As far as buff shouts, coordinate with any other Warriors in the group to figure out your shout assignment (Commanding vs. Battle) and keep it up as well.

While you're doing all of this, you're going to be spamming Heroic Strike. By spamming, I mean seriously spamming...like emails offering you Canadian Viagra spamming. Keep it up all the friggin' time. Heroic Strike generates a good deal of threat, and it also serves the purpose of making sure that you're not wasting rage.

How does HS keep you from wasting rage? If you're at 100 rage points and the boss dings you for 8k, that's a ton of rage you could have used to keep pumping out threat. Heroic Strike is an expensive ability that offers a good threat return, which makes it great at dumping threat so every time you get smacked you end up with rage you can use.

~*~

Hopefully somebody got some use out of this wall of text. If you have questions, ask. I don't recommend asking in General or Trade chat because you'll probably not get anything constructive. Instead, ask a guildie if one is available. If there isn't, shoot me an email or, if you're on Bloodhoof (US) just whisper me. I'll be glad to help.

Happy Friday. Happy Tanking.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nice and Easy

Naxx last night was exciting because it was the first time in for Cheesi and my bro-in-law Willy. I think we may have had one or two other first-timers as well. Started way late because the Baby Tank hasn't been feeling well, which made it impossible for us to actually get started before she went to bed.

We cleared two quarters and I think the only complete wipe we had was due to a stupid move on my part on trash. Other than that, it was cake.

Most importantly, we had loot drops that people could actually use. Tons of upgrades got handed out to some of our folks who don't get to raid as often.

There were a couple of heated moments. That stuff happens, though. Guilds are like families, and as such it can't be cupcakes and puppies all the time. Just means we're a healthy unit. If we didn't have a minor scuffle now and then, I'd be worried.

At the end of the day, it was a solid run and a fun time. Loot and achievements were passed around and we got to expose people to some content they haven't seen.

From my standpoint, I got a handful of emblems and, even though I had a couple of deaths, I still made money from the run. That's generally a good sign.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A New Denizen

My Twitter buddy Mortigan bellied up to the Blogeroth bar and joined the club.

You may remember Mort from this infamous post.

And let's not forget about his most recent creation.

If those are any indication, his blog's gonna be a blast.

Finally, Another Breadwinner

Mactire, aka Mac or Big Mac, managed to become a Grand Master Herbalist last night at the tender level of 63. His Inscription is somewhere in the vicinity of 320.

I'm not an alt person, but the possibility of having another 80 with two professions that have the potential to make money is a pretty cool thought.

Ever since I created him, his questing area has been different from his farming area. After stalling his leveling and grinding his gathering, that's not the case anymore. As long as he's in Outland his gathering level is high enough to pick up any herb he comes across and, given the node density of herbalism, leveling Inscription should be relatively painless.

He's already started making money with Inscription. It's not much, but with people leveling alts, dual-speccing, etc, I don't see the market drying up anytime soon. I've sold a Death Knight glyph or two for almost 30 gold which, given the cost of the mats, is a huge profit margin. Considering Misneach's ammo business isn't what it used to be, this will be a nice supplement.

Mis sent him almost 1,500 gold to get his flight training and the Skeletal Gryphon (which I had to have), so I really want to make that back using Mac's professions. Shouldn't be that hard at all.

After Mac makes it to 80, I'll have to get to work on Nabaisti, who has been sitting at 300 skinning for ages even though he's still in his 40s. He needs an epic ground mount and will be begging Mis for the cash for flight training soon, too.

Alts are like kids when it comes to begging for money, aren't they?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ulduar At Last

I love the smell of progression raiding in the morning.

Yeah, I know most of you have cleared Ulduar and have a weekly naked run through it, but it was EoF's first time there. We had a former guildie walking us through the fights, but it was nearly a complete EoF team.

We went 3/4 in the Siege area. We would have dropped Ignis given a little more time, but we put a time limit on the raid because we knew we were going to lose a few folks.

I'm really impressed with the talent we have in our guild. Everybody learns fast...really fast. Flame and XT were two-shot and Razorscale was one-shot. It's good to be surrounded by players who know how to diagnose a problem with an attempt and fix it the second time around.

We're going to have several teams running this week. We set up early runs to help those who can't make the later raid times (and, as a result, haven't gotten to raid very much at all) get some experience and gear in Naxx and OS, and we've still got Ulduar up as a later run to accommodate those who are geared for it.

As long as people keep signing up and bringing their A-game, we can ride this wave of momentum through Ulduar and beyond. I'm hoping to be blogging about ToC in the near future.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why I Read Righteous Orbs

This.

Seriously, I'm gonna commission Chastity and Tamarind to rant for me.

Moron, Meet Chat Log

Dear Idiots, if you are going to attempt to ninja a shard at the end of a run by claiming that someone rolled and received an item that you actually rolled on and received, remember that we can frickin' see the chat log, too.

Last night Tatia and I pugged H-UK. We picked up three dps: a Warrior, Shaman, and a Mage. Tatia asks if anyone is an enchanter. The Shaman answers in the affirmative. Cool, if you need any BoP blues or purps that drop, hit need. Otherwise, the Shaman will pick it up, shard it, and we'll all roll for the shards at the end. Pretty basic.

No one needed any of the blues, and the Mage needed the epic ring that dropped off of Ingvar. Easy instance, nice and smooth. Time to roll on Dream Shards.

Warrior takes off. Mage rolls, Tatia rolls, I roll, Shaman rolls.

Shaman: Tatia, you needed on the second blue and got it.
Tatia: No, I didn't.
Shaman: Check your bags, I remember you needing on the second blue.
Tatia: I just checked my bags, I don't have it.

This ensues. Mage gets a shard, I get a shard, Shammy takes off with the last one.

I don't remember how the stock UI chat box works, but Chatter will let you scroll waaay the heck back. So I did.

"Shaman in Question" receives loot: [Blue From First Boss]
...
"Shaman in Question" receives loot: [Blue From Second Boss]
...
"Mage" receives loot: [Shiny New Ring]
"Shaman in Question receives loot: [Blue From Third Boss]

It's all there. Plain as day. Why on earth would you sit and argue about something that we can scroll back and see?

It could have been a loot glitch, I suppose. I've had issues where I've greeded/needed on an item, won it, and actually had to go pick it up. Still, though, don't go accusing somebody of doing something like that when it's recorded and we can scroll back and see it.

"Shaman in Question" is probably on the realm forums bashing us or something. Tatia and I both ignored him, so if he's doing it in trade I have absolutely no idea and I don't particularly care.

If that Shaman is reading this (a) you're a ninja...and a pathetic one at that considering all you gained was a friggin' Dream Shard...or (b) you probably should have paid more attention to what actually happened before you started running off at the mouth, considering we can all backtrack and get a good look at the truth.

I swear, WoW needs a minimum age.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Already

There's been a chill in the air the past couple of days. Chicago weather being what it is, it's best to relish the real fall weather when it's here because winter comes fast. Spring and autumn are more like holidays here than seasons.

Seems like a month or two ago I was in Tennessee on New Year's Eve. The day I started this blog feels even more recent...weeks, maybe. I'm shocked to think that I've already chalked up over 120 posts and people actually stop by to read them.

What's the point? I'm not sure. I'm feeling sentimental, I suppose. I lost an uncle today, my wife's been digging through her family's past for long-deserved answers, and my niece is fighting a battle no 14 year-old should have to endure.

The last several times I've logged into WoW it's felt empty...pointless. The work we do now...heroics, raids, dailies...is becoming obsolete at a startling pace. Why scratch and claw to collect better gear now, when in no time we'll be able to get comparable gear from a heroic 5-man?

It's the MMORPG treadmill, I know that. WoW's an escape, though. It's a chance to forget about real life and all the difficulties it brings. It's a chance to go from, in my case, a cube-dwelling spreadsheet jockey to someone who matters...at least until somebody in better gear comes along.

Obsolescence, whether referring to the gear we're wearing or our characters themselves, creeps in and makes WoW more frustrating than an escape should be. It's hard to feel like a fantasy hero when you can't keep up with the bleeding edge and, subsequently, you're neck-deep in mediocrity.

Bottom line: Real life sucks. Sometimes WoW life sucks. When they both suck at the same time, though, that's a problem.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Defection

Yesterday on Twitter, I asked the community if they had a gun to their head and had to change factions, what race on the other side would they pick.

Kudos to Outlandish Guild for having my favorite answer: Pull the trigger #forthehorde

I didn't answer my own question on Twitter, so I figured I'd answer it here. If Misneach had to shed his Human form and join the Horde, he'd be an Orc. I don't really know why, but I feel, after knowing him for 80 levels, the Orc race would fit him best Horde-side.

However, if I had to make a new Warrior from the ground up, I'd probably go Tauren. In fact, I have a Tauren Warrior (very, very low level) on Undermine named Mishnock (the phonetic spelling of Misneach). Again, I can't really tell you what the reasons are...just seems to fit.

So, for those of you who didn't answer on Twitter, gun to your head...what would you pick?

Monday, September 28, 2009

I Was Thinking Bigger

I mean, it's cool and all...can't exactly ride it, though...


Maintaining the Balance

Apparently my current pants are missing armor in a key area, because RL was successful in delivering several swift kicks to the junk over the past week. As a result, I haven't been online at all since last Tuesday.

The silver lining (not referring to the pants anymore) is that I got to focus on my family. I spent some much-needed time with Cheesi, hung out with the kids, played with the puppy, and got to be a part of a milestone in my niece's life: her first homecoming.

She's gone through a lot lately, but for one night she got the opportunity to let all the crap go and have some fun. She looked beautiful and felt great about herself. I was so proud of her and blessed to be a part of it.

RL > WoW...all the time. I'm gonna hop back online tonight or tomorrow and get back in the swing of things, but I really needed the time off, even though it was caused by some personal issues.

WoW's like any other hobby. Play it, enjoy it, blog/tweet about it, talk to your friends about it, etc. Just don't forget to stay connected to the things that really matter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ulduar or Bust

Tomorrow night we have an Ulduar raid scheduled. This will be our guild's first time in, and the first time for many of us as individuals.

In TBC, we as a guild never made it past the first tier of raiding. I never saw anything outside of Kara, Gruul, and a pull or two into SSC. I'm glad we're in a position to be moving forward progression-wise and taking our raiding to the next level here in WotLK.

Hopefully we can get the sign-ups and manage to make the run happen. Most of us are geared for it (in some cases overgeared for it) thanks to emblem purchases, so, once we get the hang of the fights, we should be in a position to really make some rapid progress.

My goal, lofty as it may be, is to be able to walk into Icecrown-10 very soon after it opens. Even if we're still mopping up the last few bosses of Ulduar and ToC, I'd like to be able to make some progress in the defining raid of WotLK while others are also progressing through it.

From a blogging standpoint, I'd love to be able to help the community. Right now, I'm relying on recommendations from the community when it comes to tanking fights. If I'm involved in progression as it comes, though, I can be one of the bloggers making the recommendations based on my experience tanking the "current" content.

As long as we can get the personnel to come along, I think that we, as a guild, are in a position to make some solid progress over the coming weeks.

It's exciting. I just hope it plays out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Insert Filler Post

Haven't been online in a couple of days, so I have nothing to talk about.

In lieu of a WoW post, then, here's a picture of my 4 month-old American Bulldog, Delilah:



Right now she's a non-combat pet, but eventually, when she gets to over 100 lbs, she'll be fully capable of scaring off boyfriends and ex-husbands. I think due to the nature of the breed (ability to ignore pain and fear) she'd be classified as a Tenacity pet.

What? You want some WoW content, too?

Uhh...dodge is still better than parry.

There you go.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Meeting the Needs of Googlers II

Here I will continue my effort to assist those who are out searching the interwebz for information and, for better or worse, end up landing on my blog...which is admittedly very low on information.

I Am an Arms Dealer has taken the lead, but we have a new contender at number two:



[drumroll]



Am I Needy



If you're Googling it, the answer is yes.

The Stamfest Trinket

Thank you, Vene, for posting what I was thinking and proving to my brain that I wasn't wrong.

Here's my take:

When I logged on last night just about my whole guild was in BRD doing the Brewfest quest and picking up trinkets or, in some cases, mounts. I'm not a big holiday person, so I told them I'd just run some dailies while they were doing it. After a while (when I realized I wasn't going to get to do the daily heroic with guildies until they were done anyway), I conceded and went along.

We were able to fight the guy four times, and two stamina trinkets dropped. I grabbed one and our former RL roommate Tassh grabbed the other for his Warrior.

If you armory me right now you'll see that I'm currently wearing that stamina trinket. Will I continue to wear it as part of my "normal" tanking set? No. Will I keep it in my bags? Yes.

My other stamina trinket option is the Black Heart. I will lose 440 health if I run with the Black Heart rather than the Mug. However, the Aegis proc on the Black Heart is incredible...really incredible. It happens a lot and is a significant increase in armor during the duration. Plus, you get a cool little crown over your head (Warriors don't have a lot in the way of animations aside from Shockwave and Devastate, so crap like that makes me happy).

Most tanks who are ready to jump into heroics or raiding have at least 25K or so health (ballparking...willing to be wrong...don't flame me). If you've been heroicing or raiding for a while you're likely over 30K. What am I getting at? 400 health is, to borrow a term from my day job, immaterial. The armor proc from the BH, on the other hand, is material.

Should you ditch the Mug entirely? No. Should you be less stubborn than me and take advantage of the holiday to get what really is, all things considered, a pretty good trinket? Yes. Run it until you get it if you have the time because, if you're in a fight where having a dodge or other avoidance trinket isn't going to do you any good and you need raw effective health, stacking the Mug and the BH will, together, hand you almost 3K health and a nice, reliable armor proc.

Regardless of all of that, having a lot of trinkets to play with is always a good thing. I'm very hesitant to get rid of trinkets and I'll usually roll on them if I have the chance and nobody else needs them more (i.e. the Repelling Charge, which doesn't help me now but, if I need to build a resistance set, will come in handy). They're quick and easy ways to tweak your stats to prepare for a given boss fight.

I really need to stop being so hard on the holiday events. Live a little, Mis...live a little.

Happy Brewfest, boys and girls.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Attendance and Recruiting

Tatia posted about some attendance issues we're having in EoF. Rather than assault her blog with a wall of text comment, I decided that I'd simply post my thoughts here. I'm certain we're not the only guild having this problem.

We're not a terribly large guild, but those of us who are usually online are pretty serious about doing our best when we have a goal to accomplish. When we pull enough people to raid, we bring our A-game and get the job done. We have enough people with the skill and gear to clear the bulk of the 10-man content out there.

There are two things, in my opinion, that stand in our way. One is going to be a permanent problem given our guild's makeup. The other, I believe, will pass.

The first issue we have is that the vast majority of us are adults with jobs, children, and other adult responsibilities. We're always going to have to deal with conflicting schedules and there will never be a day of the week when every raid-ready person in the guild will be available.

That's a minor problem. Multiple raids a week will give people several opportunities to jump in and see some content. If we can't have a consistent schedule, we'll deal. We're adults, right? We just need the personnel to make it feasible.

The second issue, while temporary, is what I believe to be our brick wall for the time being. I can sum it up in one word: Cataclysm.

Ever since the announcement, people have been "preparing" for Cataclysm. I've heard guildies talk about how they want this character or that leveled to 80 before Cataclysm comes out, or how they want to grind a given profession. They're shelving their mains and not bothering to run the content that they don't "need anything from" (which is exceptionally frustrating to me considering our primary issue is attendance...no need to "give up a slot" if nobody's going to fill it).

It's a natural response. When Wrath was announced, everybody got excited and started thinking ahead to Northrend. Here's the thing, though: we won't be seeing Cataclysm anytime soon. There's still a good chunk of Wrath content we haven't seen yet (Icecrown, anyone?). There's plenty of time to accomplish your pre-xpac goals and still see the content that is currently available.

I think that the post-announcement buzz will die down and people will start putting more effort into the present. It's a temporary blip.

Another point Tatia raised is recruiting. I believe I know the person she was talking about, and, while I also consider him a friend, I respectfully disagree with him now the same way I respectfully disagreed with him when he raised the issue in CoF.

Recruiting is not bad. We need bodies online, and we should recruit to fill the gaps that we have. However, "recruiting heavily" is not exactly what EoF needs to be doing. What will inevitably happen is that we'll end up with charged-up members who want to raid every night of the week, but will get frustrated when we're not moving along as fast as they'd like. I've seen it happen, I've seen the hateful forum posts, I've seen the angry /gquits, and I've seen the backlash that leaves a nasty taste in everyone's mouth.

A guild in our position needs to recruit, but needs to do so patiently and practically. We can't invite people who will clash with the overall culture of our guild, but I'll go so far as to say right here in my public forum that if you're a skilled player who wants to be a part of a casual raiding guild feel free to stop by Bloodhoof and give me a holler. We need the help and we'll be glad to have you, but please be aware that we are by no means a hardcore raiding guild.

Bottom line: both sides of the recruiting process need full disclosure when it comes to expectations. Failure to provide the necessary level of communication up front reaps very, very bad results in the end.

In closing, I believe that EoF as a guild will succeed in WotLK endgame content and beyond. We won't be at the bleeding edge, but we will do well and have fun in the process. We'll have hurdles and setbacks, but we can go as far as we want to if we continue to give our best go at it.

Thanks for the spark, Tatia.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the Road Again

After a wonderful weekend at the National Quartet Convention, it's time to head back home. Louisville's a great town, but I miss my kids, dog, Chicago, and Azeroth. We'll be hitting the road in a couple of minutes here, and then in about 6 hours you'll all be wishing I was back on vacation.

Thanks for your patience. You'll be getting all the Mis you can handle shortly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

AFK BBIAB

I'm heading out of town tomorrow, returning late Saturday night. Looking forward to a nice relaxing trip full of good times with my lovely wife and WoW withdrawals.

I'll probably pop on Twitter here and there, check email, and maaaaybe throw up a small blog post or two while mobile if the inspiration strikes me. For the most part, though, there will be radio silence.

You kids be good while I'm gone.

Like I Have Time For This

Because I'm not busy at all with a full-time job, a part-time job, a house full of kids, a new puppy, guild-mastering, and raid-leadering, I figured I'd fill up some of my free time by creating a Twitter account for Echo of Fate.

Feel free to follow us if you happen to care at all what we're doing with ourselves. Or you can just laugh at me while I try to manage two active Twitter accounts.

Side Note: I've noticed that several people on Twitter and in their blogs have expressed guild dissatisfaction. I'd like to recommend the awesome people at Guild Launch if you want to start up your own guild like I did and don't want a headache when you set up your guild site.

They're much better than other services I've tried, and they've put a lot of game-specific widgets and such in there. Lots of cool stuff to play with and ways to keep your guild organized.

Tell them Misneach sent ya. They won't know what you're talking about, but tell them anyway.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Bloggage

After months of trying to convince her it would be a good idea, Millea/Tatia/Koalabear has started up a blog of her very own.

Go and show her some love!

Who's Out There?

I don't get as many hits as some of the more popular WoW blogs, but I am shocked at how much traffic I do get. Sometimes, though, I wonder who out there is reading what I'm writing here.

I have some frequent commenters here and folks who respond to my posts via Twitter, so I'm aware of a handful of people who read this crap regularly. I can see where my readers are via Sitemeter (and I'm absolutely thrilled that I'm getting traffic from all over the world...such a cool feeling), but that doesn't give me any idea as to who the readers actually are.

I wonder, for example:
  • How many of my guildies read my blog. I'm aware of a few, but how many others?
  • Does anybody from Bloodhoof who is not in my guild read this? If so, have I pugged with you and done something completely n00bish?
  • Some celebrities are admitted WoWers. I wonder if they've stopped by.
  • Maybe a Blizzard employee or two?  (If so, can you guys hook us tanks up with a target dummy that hits back?)
  • Anybody from the Monster Energy Drink company? (I drink like a gallon of it a day, guys...endorsement?)

Nobody in-game has ever told me out of the blue that they read my blog, but I find myself thinking about it when we pick up a new guildie or when we have a pugged DPSer or something. Is somebody coming in expecting something when they see they're in a group with me based on what they've read here? Am I meeting those expectations or is playing with me not what they thought it would be...for better or worse?

What about you other bloggers? Any good "hey, I read your blog" stories you'd like to share?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Feel Nekkid

It's been almost two years.

Two years.

Those goggles were a symbol of both my profession and my job: Engineer...Tank.

And now they've been replaced by the most ridiculous looking helmet I've ever worn.

/sigh
/hide helm
/change blog tagline

At least Cheesi did a good job designing the EoF tabard. Got that goin' for me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remember

Eight years later, take a minute to remember.

Remember the innocent people who lost their lives to a cowardly attack. Remember the families that waited breathlessly for the phone or doorbell to ring. Remember those who walked boldly into the gates of hell not only because it was their job, but because it was the right thing to do.

Remember that, in a country that has since lapsed back into jaded cynicism with a media community that's more concerned about what Heidi and Spencer are doing than much of anything else, for a little while we were all proud to be Americans.

We stared silently at our televisions together, we cried together, and, afterwards, we stood together.

Regardless of how you feel about the government as a whole or the current administration, remember that governments are composed of fallible people. America and the ideals She represents transcend personal agendas, corporate lobbyists, and dirty campaign contributions. America, and being an American, is still something to be proud of.

To my international readers, remember that our government and the decisions they make do not necessarily echo our thoughts and feelings. You stood with us that day as fellow human beings. Hopefully, you will continue to stand with us now.

God bless the heroes who ran in while everyone else was running out, God bless our service men and women who are still putting their lives on the line for us each and every day, and God bless America.

-Jason "Misneach" Benefield

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When DPS Goes Overboard

Let them.

At least if you know them.

DPSers should not pull aggro. That's part of their job...maximize sustained damage without generating enough threat to pull off the tank.

But that's not the point of this post.

We've gotten into something of a rhythm in EoF. Every non-raid night we run heroics, starting with the dailies and moving on to whatever we have time for. Due to scheduling, it's usually the same crew online every night. I usually log on, whisper Mill to see if she's done the dailies yet on Tatia, her healer, then pick up as many guild DPSers as we can because I. Hate. Pugs.

Last night Tatia, Vel, DPS Warrior extraordinaire Nessfactor and I ran UK, the daily heroic. We 4-manned it because nobody in the guild was available and there wasn't a promising alternative in LFG. We then picked up a Rogue who came with us to H-HoL and H-VH.

But that's not the point of this post, either.

Last night while we were running HoL and VH,  Ness and Vel were pulling aggro on pack pulls. In VH when a single mob came out of the portal, they started pewpewing before I could even lay a finger on it. I didn't have time for a Shield Slam, let alone a full rotation.

If this happened in a raid or a PuG group this would be a very different post. I'd be complaining about how people have gotten away from the basics and aren't letting tanks do their job, and that negligence led to wipe after wipe after wipe.

Last night, though, they didn't. Sure, we had a death here or there, but we never had a full-blown wipe.

Why? Familiarity. Vel and Ness know what I'm capable of as a tank. I know what they're capable of as DPSers. They know I'll do everything within my power to pull aggro back...at least I hope they trust me that much.

From my standpoint, it's a refreshing challenge. Having the opportunity to run a couple of easy heroics (UK and VH, specifically...HoL isn't all that bad, but certainly a different level than the other two) with a DPS crew who opened it up a bit forced me to stay on my game.

In a group situation, DPS has a ceiling that the tank defines. On the one hand, they need to be aware of that ceiling, but, on the other, the tank needs to make that ceiling as high as possible. Last night, they were setting the pace, not me. I still had to build the ceiling, but they decided to design the room.

I Taunted, Intervened, and burned Challenging Shout cooldowns more than a few times. I had to stay on top of my rotation and make sure that I was generating as much threat as I possibly could...even in situations where I wasn't working with a full rage bar. They didn't make it easy on me, and when we were done, I was worn out.

If you were never in a group that had trouble when it came to their threat levels, you'd never figure out how to efficiently use abilities like Taunt or Intervene. You'd never have to figure out how to pull aggro back when all of your emergency buttons are on cooldown. You'd never figure out how much threat you can really generate. You'd go along, happily tanking away, until something bad happens and you find out you're not prepared.

Being in a safe environment, like an easy heroic with guildies who know how hard they can push and get away with it, is the place to practice those skills. It's like a fire drill...learn the emergency procedure so that when it counts, you know what to do.

So what's the point of this post?

If you're running along with a group you know and they start generating more threat than they usually do, don't ask them to stop. Instead, take the challenge and push right back...pump out as much threat as you can and, if they pull aggro, be ready to save the day.

In the long run, it'll make you better at what you do, and, if you look at it the right way, it's kinda fun.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Broadening Her Horizons - Part III

I decided that, while I wanted to expose the Baby Tank to all of the tank classes, Death and Decay, Desecration, Blood Worms, and Ghouls were a bit much for a three year old.

So here's a picture of her wearing a cute hat and playing in the yard.



/target Readers
/cast Lazy Blog Entry

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Specialist

I'm a career tank.

I've mentioned it in guild chat many times when chatting about tanking and tank alts and all of that.

Since my low 60s I've been a Prot Warrior. I have an Arms secondary spec that I bought with the best of intentions but have yet to really put to good use.

I quest in Defensive Stance. I PvP in Defensive Stance. I work the AH in Defensive Stance. I do the John Travolta Saturday Night Fever dance in Defensive Stance. I sleep in Defensive Stance.

I have no max-level alts. While other folks run around on their pewpew mains and grab their "Tank Alt" or "Healer Alt" to run an instance, I just bring me. What you see is what you get.

If the servers shut down tomorrow and we all moved over to the next big thing in MMOs, I'd pick me a tank class and keep running with it. It's what I do.

That's what makes me different than the majority of the WoW population. Most people level a flashy DPS main and then, as a backup plan, drag along a tank or healer alt. In some cases that tank or healer alt becomes their main by necessity, but they've always got their DPS character in their back pocket if needed.

Not me. I'm just Mis.

It's a curse and a blessing. The curse is that if somebody's tanking the instance already, I sure as heck can't go along as DPS and make much of a difference. I'll do moderately mediocre damage in my Arms spec and in Prot I'll be too rage-starved to do anything except auto-attack.

It's a blessing, however, because it makes me a specialist. I like to think that focusing so much time and energy on tanking has made me better at it. What some people with tank alts have to concentrate on remembering to do I can do without even thinking about it, which frees up my brain to handle the rest of what's going on: pull, get behind the mob(s), face them away from the party, cluster, move the camera so you can see if something's after somebody else, run the rotation, spam Heroic Strike, watch for Sword and Board, watch for Revenge, be ready to Taunt, be ready to Intervene, keep T-Clap and Demo Shout up, keep Commanding/Battle Shout up, be ready with a cooldown if the healer gets silenced, etc...

I'm not saying that someone with a tank alt can't be a good tank. On the contrary, I know plenty who are very, very good. I just know that my fellow career tanks (many of whom seem to be bloggers, incidentally) and I bring something unique and different to the table.

Tank LFW.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Embracing Off-Tanking

Back in my low 60s Cheesi and I were constantly running the early TBC five-mans. During this time, we happened upon a Druid about our level named Nitedragon. We pugged with him several times and developed a good relationship, and he was kind enough to give healing a go so that we would have an easier time putting groups together.

Soon thereafter, Nite joined our guild. He immediately became one of the most helpful, willing, committed guildies we had.

When we started the TBC raiding game, Nite, much like he did when we were running Ramps over and over, left his comfort zone to meet our needs. Our guild suddenly had healers, but the only tanks we had were me and about 25 Hunter pets.

Nite specced Feral and went off to do his homework. He figured out how to spec, how to gear, and worked very, very hard learning how to tank. When we hit Kara, we hit it hard, and Nite and I ran through that place side by side week after week after week. We jokingly referred to him as "Mis's pet bear."

With all the research and all the practice, Nite got good...very good. He bailed me out when I picked up adds, grabbed bosses if I died, executed perfect chain-pulling, and prevented many wipes with quick-thinking and flawless tanking.

Our first time in ZA, he and I nailed the tank-swap and one-shot Nalorakk without breaking a sweat. He once picked up Nightbane after I dropped and tanked him through to the kill.

Now, when we run Heroics together and he comes along in cat form, if I overpull there's instantly a very large, angry bear standing next to me picking up the adds. When we ran Naxx last weekend, he did a lot of great work snagging adds and protecting healers and let me focus on bosses...many of whom I had never seen before and most of whom we one-shot.

So why am I gushing about Nite?

Because the guy has turned off-tanking into an art form. It's not like a lot of runs I've been in, especially pugs, where the guy with the lower gear score automatically gets put on off-tank duty. Instead, Nite recognizes it as a distinct role...different from that of the main tank and equally, if not more, important.

While I'm locked in on a boss, Nite is often running around grabbing adds, protecting healers and overzealous DPS, and making sure that he's always ready to charge in and pick up the boss if I die. He constantly has a ton on his plate, but he makes it look easy and actually enjoys it.

What can you take from this?

If you're an off-tank in your guild, don't feel like you're less of a tank than the main tank. That doesn't have to be the case at all. Off-tanking is a different job than main tanking...if you approach it that way and take the opportunity to learn to do it well, you'll be helping out your raid group immensely.

If you come across a good off-tank, not just one who facerolls through the boss fight while thinking about what tank gear that boss drops, show him or her a little love. It takes a special kind of person to take on that much responsibility and not care about who's getting the glory.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crap I Did Last Night

Now that title represents blogging at its finest.

Actually, last night was quite a busy one. I logged in later than I usually do after working late and then walking our new American Bulldog puppy, Delilah. We've had her for several weeks, and she's almost 4 months old. 30-something pounds of determination and she's going to get up to about 100-120 lbs. Gonna be a whole lot of dog.

But, anyway, here's the WoW stuff:
  • Did three Heroics: CoS (reg daily), VH, and Oculus (heroic daily).
    • CoS: Grabbed some nukers and made it a drake run. Cleared it with about 3 or 4 minutes to spare and, since everybody else had one, I got the drake. That made me happy.
    • VH: Ran this one because it was...well...right there after we turned in the regular daily. Nothing terribly notable, except Vel, one of our 1337 Shammies, got enough emblems for the upgrade he was after, so he grabbed it before we hit Oculus.
    • Oculus: A couple of pulls in, I hit exalted with the Knights of the Ebon Blade and got the achievement for that as well as the Northrend Vanguard achievement. I also learned why everybody hates Oculus. Wiped a couple of times on the last boss, but finally managed to make it happen. It'll be smoother next time.
  • The emblems I managed to pick up allowed me to get my glove upgrade. Now I've gotta figure out what to aim for next as far as Conquest, Valor, and/or Triumph emblem purchases go.
  • And finally, I did my fishing daily before I logged off, turned it in, and got the Battered Jungle Hat. After running around a bit in it, I had an idea. With the hat on, I equipped my defense trinket and took a look at my stats. Aside from the huge armor ding I take without my headpiece, my stats aren't that bad. I opened Outfitter and saved the outfit under the name "Pimp."
Sometime in the near future, I'm going to grab some guildies who are as crazy as me, flip over to the Pimp outfit, and do a Pimp Run in one of the easier heroics.

If it happens, you'll read about it here. I'll take screenshots.

My 100th Post

I'm actually surprised that I (a) got to 100 posts so quickly and (b) didn't get chased out of the WoW Blogosphere by post #45 or so. Here I am, though, with 100 posts under my belt.

I think that, since this is something of a milestone post, it's a good time to summarize what we've all learned here in these several months that I've been blogging.

...

......

.........

Um...so...yeah...

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Call It Like It Is

Sunday I picked up the heroic and regular daily quests, which both happened to be Utgarde Pinnacle. Didn't get to it on Sunday, but I held on to both because it would be easy to kill both birds with that one stone.

Ran it last night and, finally, got the Red Sword of Courage. At face value, it may not look like much of an upgrade compared to the Teldrassil Protector I've been using forever, but I rolled on it (even though we had a DK in the group with a tank spec...sorry, Landel) because (a) it's just a teeny bit faster, which I like in a tank weapon, (b) because it give me a little more stam and, most importantly, (c) because of the Human expertise racial.

I lose a little strength, defense, and parry, but I'm not really fretting over any of that because I'm probably going to grab the Gauntlets of the Royal Watch tonight which will upgrade my T7s. Parry still suffers, but I'm not terribly concerned.

Worked up my sword skill last night from 375 to 399 doing AT dailies and then tanked H-VH with it. I think, based on the results, that I made the right choice...even if I end up upgrading it sooner rather than later.

But that's not the point of this post.

The point of this post is the quest item that needs to be obtained for the Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle daily: the Locket of the Deceased Queen.

Cute.

They make it sound like she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Nice, gentle, PC approach to it.

If you quested through Howling Fjord, you "deceased" the queen in a violent fashion right in front of King Ymiron.

They should call it the Locket of the chick you killed in your low 70s for a couple gold and a soon-to-be-replaced quest reward.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Catching Up

Big, big weekend for EoF.

Friday night, Cheesi and I had to run the Baby Tank to the hospital. Due to her hydrocephalus (common with spina bifida) she has a shunt that drains the excess cerebrospinal fluid from her skull to her abdominal cavity where it's reabsorbed into the body. We've been blessed so far, but shunts do malfunction and get infected.

So, anytime BT spikes a fever and we're not sure what's causing it, we have to go to the ER. They ruled out shunt problems, strep, and a urinary tract infection (common because she's catheterized) and sent us home assuming it was likely a simple virus. She's doing much, much better now.

While Cheesi and I sat in the hospital, Echo of Fate ran into OS and took down Sarth with 1 drake up. They then knocked out both bosses in VoA.

Saturday night, we flew through the Arachnid and Construct Quarters of Naxx. Sunday, we went back in and cleared Military and dropped Noth. Really, the only fight we had a problem with, aside from one wipe on Grobbulus due to a little miscue, was the Four Horsemen. We banged our heads up a against that one for a while until we could get the best strategy for our group and coordinate it properly. If my memory isn't failing me, I believe we one shot everything except those two fights.

We extended the raid lockout on Naxx to knock out the other four bosses this upcoming week. I really want to get to Sapphiron and start handing out EoE keys to as many people as possible so we can get that one off the progression chart and then start farming it without having to worry if we've got a keyed person online.

We have a number of people who are geared for at least Ulduar 10, so I think, as long as we stay diligent and keep up our momentum, we may just start to catch up to the rest of the field as far as the 10-mans go.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hypothetical Number Crunching

Or: Proof that everyone and everything is out to get me.



Emblems needed for my new chestpiece.

:

58

Emblems I currently have.

:

44

Emblems I would have if I would have been able to
complete UK last night but couldn't because of a storm-induced power outage.

:

47

Emblems I would have if I would have had enough time to
complete UK with enough time left over for a quick Nexus, which didn’t happen
because of a storm-induced power outage and some kind of battle.net
clusterfudgery.

:

52

Emblems actually needed.

:

14

Emblems needed if, hypothetically, I didn't get screwed
by technology, weather, and/or
squirrels.

:

6

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Positioning

Or: Uncle Mis's Guide to the Kama Sutra

Too creepy? Let me pull it back.

I'm actually going to talk about something that everyone in a group with a Warrior tank should know.

It's a very simple, yet true, statement: Warriors are not AoE tanks.

We're better at tanking more than one mob than we used to be...much better, in fact. We've been given a wonderful gift in the form of Shockwave. Thunderclap now hits everything in its range as opposed to a fixed number of mobs. All of it has made a big difference and we desperately needed the changes that have been made.

However, we still only have one "true" AoE damage ability: Good ol' Thunderclap. End of list.

Thunderclap affects mobs all over the place...in front of us, to the side, behind us, etc. It's an AoE attack in it's purest, circular form. Demoralizing Shout is a fantastic AoE debuff that we should be using, but (a) it does no damage and (b) it creates very little threat.

Shockwave is a frontal cone ability, not a pure AoE ability. In order for Shockwave to be effective, the mobs have to be positioned properly in front of the Warrior. Beyond that, if the tank is tab or click-targeting the group and throwing around Devastates, Shield Slams, and Cleaves, anything not positioned in front of the Warrior will not be affected.

For Warriors, that means we have to move around to get the pack that we've pulled directly in front of us. If it's a "standard" pull (3 or 4 mobs in a group, you Heroic Throw, they come running), you can usually T-Clap, Demo Shout, take a step back, and they'll be in the perfect position for a Shockwave. If it's not a standard pull, however (think when the 3 or 4-packs split up in VH and run down different ramps, then start blinking behind you during the fight), you're going to need to be moving to get them in the right place. T-Clap will get their attention, but they won't stick to you long if a Lock or a Mage starts going apecrap with AoE DPS.

For the rest of the group, this means that you really need to be paying attention to where your tank is and where the mobs are. For melee DPS, you may have to do a little running around while the tank gets situated. For caster DPS, especially those who plan on AoEing everything in sight, be aware that if, for some reason, a mob is behind or to the side of your Warrior tank, you will probably pull that mob.

Frankly, most of the deaths I've seen in Heroics recently have been on trash mobs, not bosses. If I do a poor job of positioning or my group doesn't give me a chance to position before AoEing, the mobs will likely take off in any number of different directions and start smacking around clothies.

Bottom line: Warriors do not AoE tank. We can hold more than one mob, but to be truly effective at it we, and our group, need to be aware of where the mobs are positioned in relation to the tank.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And Bronze Drakes For All

Counting the run last night, I've done Heroic Culling exactly three times. Wasn't a fan of Escape from Durnholde, not a fan of CoS.

Why am I not a fan of these glorified escort quests?

Because I'm the tank. Hear that, Thrall and Arthas? Quit facepulling everything, you n00bs. I'll lead, you try to keep up.

And Arthas, you self-righteous douche, quit saying "make haste" and then walking like we've got all freakin' day. We want a shot at a Drake and don't have time for your endless, nauseating pontification every time we step on a plagued roach.

There. I feel better.

Last night was my first time actively going for the Drake from the get-go. We succeeded in beating the timer, and Tatia (or Millea, or Koalabear) won the Bronze Drake, so big gratz to her.

I decided after the run that Echo of Fate would actively pursue getting everybody in the guild a Bronze Drake. As much as I hate that instance, I'd love to see everybody get the achievement and the mount. I'll tank it every night I'm online if I have to until everybody's got it.

Nothing wrong with hunting down a vanity item or two, right? They're a great group of people and they deserve it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meeting the Needs of Googlers

As many bloggers out there know, you can get some strange Google search terms and phrases that lead to your blog...especially WoW blogs, for some reason. Now, I haven't gotten anything weird along the lines of "Nude Draenei Female Hunters with Crystal Meth Addictions," but I've decided that if people are searching for something and my site comes up in the results, maybe I should be a good member of the community and help out.

So, as of right now the number one search phrase is: Where is Stratholme?

Stratholme is located in the northern portion of the Eastern Plaguelands...north of the region called Plaguewood. It's a big level 60-ish dungeon.

If you're looking for The Culling of Stratholme, however, that is a Caverns of Time instance in WotLK. There are several ways to get to CoT. First, you can simply go to Tanaris and walk right in (it's a big mountainous area with a cave towards the southeasternish area of the zone). There are also ports that will take you directly there from the World's End Tavern in Shattrah or from the Violet Citadel in Dalaran (up the stairs and to the left). Talk to the dragon in the mouth of the cave and take the ride down.

The current number two search phrase is: I Am An Arms Dealer

I apologize profusely to the fans of Fall Out Boy, a band from my home town, who were simply looking for song lyrics and landed on a post of mine. The name of the song is This Ain't a Scene, It's an Arms Race from their album Infinity on High.

This may very well become a series as long as the searches don't get too strange...wait...maybe that would make it an even better series...hmm...

Stay tuned.

Why Cataclysm Matters

There will be a good deal of discussion...there already has been a good deal of discussion...about the finer points of Cataclysm: the implications of new class/race combinations, the lore surrounding the new races, the new guild leveling/achievement system, etc. All of these changes will be picked apart and either lauded or criticized ad nauseum on blogs, forums, and trade channels.

But let's step back and look at the big picture. What makes Cataclysm more than just additional content? What makes it an important step in the evolution of WoW...even the Warcraft brand itself? Why is this expansion pack important?

There are several reasons. I'd like to explore a few here.

Almost a Sequel

Cataclysm is the first expansion pack that almost feels like a sequel. We're essentially getting a new game from the bottom up, but, unlike a true sequel, we don't have to start from scratch. Not a bad deal.

What that offers World of Warcraft is replayability. My main is a Human Warrior named Misneach. If I decide to reroll another Human Warrior named Misneach on another server after the xpac drops, the leveling experience will be almost entirely different. People with multiple 80s can reroll a new character and not deal with the same old treadmill they've seen so many times before...new zones can be explored, new quests can be done, and the environment and landscape will not be the same as it once was from 1 to 85.

Lasting Implications

The continued use of phasing technology in Cataclysm will make what has become one of my favorite aspects of WotLK a common experience throughout the leveling process. Your actions will matter. If you help NPCs take a town for the good guys, that town stays with the good guys...it doesn't revert a couple of minutes later so someone else can do the same quest to get the same result while you stand there and watch.

Quests that utilized phasing made the trip to 80 far more interesting and satisfying than the trip to 70. If you can get that feeling from level 1 forward that will, in my opinion, make the entire leveling process much more enjoyable. It's hard to feel like a hero when the good you've done gets undone a few minutes later.

Major Lore Event

If Blizzard extends the Warcraft brand after the servers shut down, any future Warcraft titles will be impacted by the emergence of Deathwing and the resulting cataclysm. This is arguably the biggest thing that has happened to Azeroth in the five years WoW has been active.

When Cataclysm was the suspected name of the expansion, many people, including myself, assumed it would be centered around the cataclysm that resulted from the destruction of the Well of Eternity. We thought we'd have a couple of new zones to play in and end up fighting Azshara in the Maelstrom...essentially cleaning up the 10,000 year-old mess.

After all, adding new zones in expansion packs is expected, and there's nothing wrong with that. However, to change the existing areas so drastically is a bold move that will make us feel like we are a part of a major episode in the history of Azeroth. This won't be a Caverns of Time flashback, this will be something that happens now and will have current and future implications...and we get to see it and deal with the fallout.

Regardless of the whining about the small things that is bound to flood the internet until well after we've hit level 85, Cataclysm is a good thing. It's a major world event, bigger than any other, and we get to be a part of it.

I, for one, think that's pretty cool.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Exactly What I Had In Mind

In the midst of the Blizzcon Tweetfest, I, being an individual stuck in the office while everyone else was getting Cataclysm news first hand and Tweeting about it, added snarky comments into the mix to make myself feel relevant.

One such comment read as follows: I expect pics of hot gamer girls at #Blizzcon wearing "I wish Misneach was here" shirts. That is all.

A short time elapsed until Mortigan, an Undead Warlock Tweep of mine, posted this: http://twitpic.com/eqpvv - @AggroJunkie Hey, they DO have Misneach T-Shirts!

If you have no access to the Twitpic link, please to enjoy:


Well done, my friend. Well done. Photoshopping on the fly FTW!

Cheesi also noted that you are now her hero, so gratz on that as well.

The Impending Cataclysm

Well.

I'm locked up here at work...no stream, no access to the official WoW site...but the WoW Twitterati were awesome enough to keep the information flowing at a blistering pace.

And here it is.

It's a lot to take in. The old world is going to be physically changed. Several zones are going to be opened up that have been walled off since WoW began. Some old zones are going to be completely altered and some destroyed as Deathwing breaks loose and his Black Dragonflight begin laying siege to Azeroth. Also, we'll see the return of Ragnaros and, just so that it's not all entirely bad news for us heroes, Malfurion Stormrage.

Then there's the fundamental gameplay stuff. We'll be leveling to 85, but instead of expanding the talent trees, we'll be following the Path of the Titans. I don't have a lot of detail about that, but it seems we'll be adding passive traits rather than new abilities. There are two new playable races (no big shock there), Worgen (Alliance) and Goblins (Horde), with their own starting areas. There will also be changes in race/class combinations (Troll Druids, Nelf Mages, etc).

Aside: Gilneas as the starting area for the Worgen is actually quite fascinating for me...a kingdom walled up, quarantined, and trying to deal with their lycanthropic curse, rejoining the Alliance after all this time. Kind of a cool story, in my opinion. It'll be interesting diving into that when we get the chance.

And that's not all. We'll finally get to fly in Azeroth, we'll have water mounts that move as fast as flying mounts, and we'll get to see a whole crapload of phasing, which is a very cool aspect of WotLK that I'm glad they're going to be using in Cataclysm.

They're also introducing a guild leveling/advancement system and archaeology as the new secondary profession (I smell a Dwarf racial bonus there).

My take on it all? Extended lifespan.

Blizzard, by recreating the old world (which was becoming increasingly stale) has just added another year or two of WoW. Even for people who currently have six 80s, this new xpac will make leveling an entirely different experience...no matter what race you pick.

Also, we're talking about a complete overhaul of WoW as we know it. The face of Azeroth is literally changing, zone by zone by zone. The way the world looks now will only last until the new expansion comes out. That's really a pretty big deal. Not only are they changing the zones, but they're adding the phasing technology to those zones. If you think about it, that's a huge job.

Flight in Azeroth is another issue altogether. They've said in the past that allowing free flying in Azeroth (not the taxi service) would require a redesign, because several places (i.e. Stormwind) aren't the same on the inside as they appear to be on the outside.

The changes in Cataclysm will reach further than any patch or expansion we've seen so far. By making those changes, Blizzard has made sure that WoW is going to last that much longer. Just when we thought Arthas was about as big as it got and we'd be heading after Sargeras sooner rather than later, Blizzard turned Azeroth on its head and drove the story in an entirely different direction.

I, for one, am looking forward to the ride.

I Am Not Needy

A little clingy at times, maybe, but not necessarily Needy.

We didn't have enough people to raid last night, so we settled on some easy heroics for Emblems. First we hit Violet Hold, where I finally got to fight Moragg. So, after running VH 137,256 times, I got the achievement.

25 minutes or so. 3 easy Emblems. What's next?

Well, Briele and I both needed to log at about 11:30 server, and since we didn't start Violet Hold until a little later than we had hoped we decided to run a quick Nexus. That's become my favorite Emblem farming instance.

Fairly standard run. More easy emblems.

We did have an amusing moment during the Telestra fight due to unfortunate sheeping. Her favorite targets last night were Bri and me...which is a tad bit frustrating. During her first split phase, we lost a DPS. During the last one, we lost the other two DPS.

Still, with no one left but a Prot Warrior and a Holy Priestess, she died. Took a while, but she died.

I've fought Keri a bunch of times, and each time the Flame-Bathed Steel Girdle dropped there was a DPS plate-wearer in the group who needed it. Finally, since Eck's Pally already had it, I was able to Need on it and add it to my off-set.

And that's when I blew my load. Rolled a 100, got the Needy achievement, and ensured that all of my rolls in the near future will be single-digit.

Still, it was a very fun, productive evening.

This weekend I'm hoping to do some ToC farming for The Black Heart and any other tank stuff I can get my grubby hands on. I also want to grab as many Emblems as possible to make up for the time I lost this week.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blizzcon and the Best of Intentions

I know a lot of bloggers out there are headed to Blizzcon. If any of my readers are going, have a drink or two for Uncle Mis.

Hopefully we'll have some really great announcements to blog about this weekend and some speculation will become anticipation. 

If you're going, have a great time.

~*~

I've had the best intentions to play this week. Our internet was down Saturday and Sunday thanks to the cowardly actions of an evil squirrel, but since then I've gotten home from work every night thinking I'd get to log in and do a ton of heroics, get a bunch of EoCs, and get a couple of gear upgrades.

Unfortunately, life has a wonderful tendency of getting in the way. We've had a new puppy since Saturday, an American Bulldog named Delilah (after the Bible character, not the horribly overplayed song). She, like any other young puppy, sucks up a good deal of energy and attention.

Also, yesterday was the kids' first day of school...Baby Tank included (She's three! I can't believe she's riding a bus to preschool). That means school supply shopping, figuring out first day outfits, calming down those who have the biggest changes (like our niece who just started high school where we live, which is a brand new town for her), and generally dealing with a higher level of insanity than normal...which is saying something because we have five girls in the house not including Cheesi or the dog.

It's been nuts.

Last night was my best shot to get online, but hormones were raging with the older ones and the excitement of the first day of school being over was still driving everyone to an energy level with which I simply could not keep up.

By 9:30 I could barely keep my eyes open. Had to call it a night.

The good news is, the leadership crew in our guild is very, very good. I've been in touch with several of them who have been online and things seem to be in working order. I can also still communicate to the guild as a whole using the website.

Feels good to know that real life can smack me around a bit and the guild will still be pushing forward. Wish I could say the same thing for my day job.

Mis out.