Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guild Invite Harassment.

It's not a WoW session unless I'm asked to join a guild. I don't mind signing charters; Blizzard should wise up and give up on the whole signature thing. Heck, I even make some gold out of it from time to time. Being asked to join a guild isn't so bad either. I'm not ready to guild-search at the moment so I always decline, but it's nice of them to ask.

There are those, however, who do not seem to have the common decency to ask. Instead they shove their guild in your face, inviting without asking, assuming that you actually give a rat's arse about their gathering of individuals. It's presumptious, it's rude, and it pisses me off. Inviting without asking will get you placed on my ignore list in a jiffy.

One guild in particular just doesn't get it.

I received a guild invite out-of-the-blue while questing on Laurewen. I responded, telling them that they were inconsiderate and would be enjoying time on my ignore list.

Not five minutes later I received another guild invite. This one was from a different person, but they were a member of the same guild. At that point I was getting irked. I told off the invitor and he now holds a place on my ignore list with his guildmate.

Maybe they only have two recruiters, but I survived for about an hour on Laurewen before logging off of her and into Aesmarele to work on her Enchanting. Not long after logging in I get a guild invite. From the second guy. From that same guild. That was the last straw.

As I informed him, if anyone from that guild ever invites me to that guild on any of my characters without asking me first, I'm reporting that individual for harrassment. Hopefully he passed the word along and is a decent guess at my alt's names, as my husband recieved a guild invite from these people just last night.

Speaking of which, my husband has purchased the Battle Chest and is now at level 35 on his gnome warrior. I've done all of the lowbie stuff so many times, I just quest-stack as quickly as possible. However, since it's his first time playing, he is taking his time and enjoying everything. We'll be rolling Blood Elves later to play together. I'm not familiar with the Horde side so taking time won't be so annoying there.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Off Topic: Train Travel.

I'd only traveled by train one time before, a short jaunt from San Jose to Portland. The train was over ten hours late pulling into Portland due to a tragedy on the rails, so it really could not be considered an accurate experience of Amtrak travel. Having just completed my first cross-country trip by rail, I think I can better claim this experience as a typical one.

My first leg was the entire length of a long-distance train. We started out ahead of schedule so, naturally, we had to fall behind--by three hours in this instance. The trip was quite enjoyable; my seat-mate was a friendly guy, recently moved to inactive reserves after having served eight years in the Marines. He had played World of Warcraft a bit while on base, so we talked about how easily the game can suck you in. There was a trio heading to New York, the grandmother and granddaughter traveling to the funeral of the great-great-grandmother, and the Canadian with a very chatty personality. By the end of the 51-hour trip, my shower had certainly worn off and I was beginning to feel grimy--while you can sponge-bathe, washing your hair on a train is nigh-on-impossible.

I missed my connecting train, which left over an hour before we even arrived. I tried to get transeferred to the train that had stayed late to take on its connecting passengers; it would have been a different route but would still have connected me to my final train. I was informed, however, that while my fare for the original second leg would be accepted for this one, I would possibly have to buy a ticket to cover the extra portion of my final leg. Forget that, I'd already paid plenty for these tickets. As the train I was originally slated for only ran three days a week, Amtrak opted to send us by charter bus to meet the train at the next big city.

Now, if I had wanted to ride on a bus, I would have gone by Greyhound and paid less money. I didn't say anything, however. The driver was nice enough, though he cranked the heat up way too high for the two old ladies and caused the rest of us to melt. I don't do well in confined spaces, nor with other individuals driving over about 45 m.p.h.; combining the two is why I do not travel by bus. I was quite ill by the time we arrived at the location to meet our train. Amtrak's saving grace: there was a White Castle right up the street, and by having been sent by bus I was able to partake of it (for those not familiar with White Castle, their claim-to-fame are little four-bite square cheeseburgers smothered in onions for $0.74 each; we call them 'grease-burgers' and were the best part about trips to see family in Missouri.)

The second leg was uneventful; being filthy and tired, I slept through most of it, keeping curled up in my blanket so my seat-mate wouldn't have to deal with any body odor I hadn't been able to mask with deoderant and wet-wipes. A five-hour layover between the second and third legs of my journey allowed me to get further on my crochet and cross-stitching, at least, and I spent the three hours of my last leg playing Sudoku on my iPhone.

The scenary was breathtaking, the folks were great, the space and freedom was top-notch, and the food was halfway decent. Next time, however, I will get a sleeper if for no other reason than to be able to bathe.

First thing I did when we arrived at my mother's place is get a shower. I'm now waiting for my little brother to wake up so I can get the WEP key for their wireless and stop leeching from their neighbors' single bar connection.

On-topic: It seems that low-level greens are selling for significantly more gold these days; either higher-level characters are flowing in money or they're power-gamers who want to always have the best gear; maybe a little of both? My new method will be to auction items once unless the materials are worth more; if the item doesn't sell, it gets disenchanted.

It does, however, seem that folks are smarter on Nesingwary, and aren't willing to purchase limited-stock recipes for significantly higher amounts. I'll keep trying.

My husband has started playing with the trial key that I provided him from my Battle Chest set. He seems to be enjoying his Gnome Warrior; we'll see if he decides to continue playing after his two weeks are up.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Balance Levelling, levels 20-30

With my original druid, I leveled up to 60 as a feral spec and changed to Restoration for dungeons and off-night raids. With the release of The Burning Crusade, I made her my main rather than my warlock, switched her to Balance and began the upward grind with the original intention of going back to Restoration at 80 for raiding. I never planned to fall in love with the big ball of feathers on my screen.

This time around, my desire was to actually level fully as Balance. This has provided some new and more interesting challenges since the actual Moonkin form is not obtained until level 40.

o Just because you aren't heavily armored doesn't mean you can not take a hit.
A lot of the moonkin guides I'm seeing say "Root, root, root!" Is it really necessary? Sure, you're not taking hits so you're not having to heal yourself, but with the mob's chance to break the Entangling Roots early and any damage done having a pretty good chance of breaking it (even when talented), it does not actually seem as useful for one-on-one fights.

My alternative is what Graylo calls the "machine gun method" in his blog. Even under-geared and even or lower-level compared to the mob you're after, if you make careful pulls you should find no problem.

My typical rotation can hardly be called a rotation: Starfire, WrathxN. If the mob is yellow and not a caster or other low-hp creature, it becomes Starfire, Moonfire, WrathxN and while waiting for the Global Cooldown after Moonfire, back away; those few steps could prevent one more hit over time which is slightly less damage taken.

I generally can get four mobs to a mana bar, unless they are lowest-level green and then occasionally I can squeeze in a fifth. Before you mana up, throw Rejuvenation on yourself or, if you're completely Out Of Mana, bandage yourself. Which brings...

o Don't overlook First Aid.
Sure, you can heal yourself. That's great! ... until you run out of mana. If I find things getting too rough but the mob is almost down, I'll Entangling Root it, back up and bandage, and wait for my mana to regen for one last Starfire or Wrath to take him down.

o Use a dagger (preferably a fast one) rather than a staff.
Lag is, well, lag. There's not much that can be done with it. IceHUD colors my casting bar, letting me know when I can likely start queueing my next spell due to latency, but it's not 100% accurate. By having a fast dagger as a weapon, there's a greater chance that during that lag time of ending the last cast and starting the next one, you'll be able to get a hit in. Every little bit helps, and it could be the difference between the fleeing mob having 1 hp left after your last Wrath or being dead. It also help with runners with very little health left as you can usually stab them down rather than waste the mana for another Wrath.

It remains to be seen if it is still the case, but for a long while a one-handed weapon and and off-hand implement had better overall stats than a two-handed weapon.

o Don't waste your talents on DoTs.
People put a lot of emphasis on Druid '*-over-time' abilities. But Druids are not Warlocks and our DoTs will not generally have an opportunity to fully run their course. I always check to see how long it takes to kill a mob with Moonfire and without it in my 'rotation'; creatures with lots of hitpoints or nature resistance/immunity will certainly die faster with Moonfire in the mix. In general, however, that is usually not the case and the extra damage that did not trigger equals mana wasted.

o Don't spend your coin on Feral skills.
The only ones I'd suggest picking up are Cat Form and Prowl for those times when you really don't want to have to kill everything in your path. Without proper gear and talents, your feral damage is not going to be anything spectacular. You'll be better off saving that coin for more useful things (like training your Balance and Restoration skills, profession materials, Auction House fees, and your mount/riding skill.)

Death in the Mines.

Laurewen had all of the Deadmines quests a week ago, so I queued her up in LFG, listing her as either a healer or a damage-dealer. That's when things got interesting.

I was impressed with the "this is the dungeon we've got available for you, here's some basic info on it" pop-up it provided. Impression turned to shock when I suddenly found myself whisked to just inside the Deadmines instance proper. So much for getting those undead area quests done.

I somehow was determined to be the party leader but it didn't seem to mean anything. The new "vote kick" means that all a PL can do is change loot rules, which is generally not a good thing to do in a PuG unless you want to stay in queue for a very long time. The group I started with was, well, a mess. They ran around killing everything they could manage to aggro and left me to try to put them all back together. I'd call 'oom' or 'drinking' or 'mana' and they didn't care, just ran on to the next set of mobs. Only two deaths came, surprisingly enough, but it was a bit stressful for my first instance run in over two years.

We lost our feral-druid tank and the warrior had to go leave as we approached the forge, so more folks came in. The mage that we picked up was great (Jellystain of Shandris), the warrior was not so much. He wasn't managing to hold aggro and would also charge blindly ahead while I was either around a corner or trying to drink.

The first 'wipe' was on an unintentional body-pull of the First Mate while we were clearing trash. Some of the folks weren't aware of his aggro radius and I cannot type and heal at the same time. Forgot about the whole 'jump on the wheel and they'll reset' part, so back we ran. The warrior couldn't find the entrance (neither could I; followed another groups' corpse to the portal for a refresher on the directions) so I zoned out, intending to let him follow my dot on the map. Rather than outside of Deadmines, I found myself back in Astranaar where I'd been yanked from at the beginning of the run. Color me surprised! The paladin (Heldrak of Drenden) informed me of the new 'teleport me to my group' option and we were all reunited.

As we came back in, our shaman took a long walk off a short pier and fell to zir death. I jumped down to rez and we ran back up... when I ended up taking the long walk off a short pier as well. Sigh. No death for me, just wasted time and our impatient warrior diving into the mobs and body-pulling the First Mate again; I didn't make it fully onto the wheel and was slaughtered.

We're finishing the trash properly when lo-and-behold, the First Mate gets body-pulled. Again. Third time's charm, right? We downed him that time (barely; I was long oom by the end of it). Then, while I'm still drinking, guess who goes and starts on VanCleef? SIGH. We survived that and went to clear Cookie when I went too far off the ledge and missed the second level, dying from mobs while everyone took on Cookie. He was killed, but so was our Helrak. The warrior left, the shaman DCd, so Helrak and I duoed the patrol spawns and made our way back in time to loot Cookie, who dropped his mace for Helrak.

All in all, it was an interesting time. I finally remembered how I used to keep my hotkeys, got myself back in the habit of healing, and realized that until I get a desktop built, I'm going to have to stay away from dungeons. I had 25 FPS through Deadmines until we reached the ship, where it plummeted to 7 FPS (the horrible response time is what led to both of my falls.)

Kudos to Heldrak and Jellystain for putting up with me. Both were amazing to group with; Heldrak proved to be a better tank than he though.

Laurewen is level 27 now; I'm averaging about 3.5 levels each night. At this rate, I should hit Outland on Christmas Eve (taking my absence due to travel into consideration). Depending on how much levelling has changed with TBC content, I may be ready to start on Wrath of the Lich King content by the beginning of the year. We shall see.

As a follow-up to last night, I received a response from Petal regarding trading my stack of Mageroyal for glyphs; now I just need to catch zir online to have them made.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Low-Level Economics.

My World of Warcraft Battle Chest was sitting out in the cold, waiting patiently for my return from work this afternoon. For some reason my TBC key keeps giving an 'error', or at least so claims a Murloc holding a sign. The Vanilla key works just fine, however. First stop: the mailbox.

The Onyxia Whelpling seems slightly bugged. I obtained it first with Laurewen but never clicked on the cage to 'learn' it. I later obtained it with Aesmarele, however when I did click on it to learn the 'spell', it told me I already knew it. Low and behold, there it was in my Pet - Companions list. Even more odd is that Aerika didn't have it learned already. The cage also does not disappear on learning the 'spell', it just sat in my inventory. Should I throw it out? Leave it there? Will I lose my whelping? I tossed it out on Aerika--dwarves don't need no stinkin' whelplings! But she still has it, so there seems to be no need to take up the bag/bank slot.

I'd collected a rather large number of greens which were all happily sent off to Aesmarele to disenchant. It seems that there was quite a bit of undercutting going on in the AH on enchanting materials, so we'll see how these go. Aesmarele only has 6 copper to her name so sending the 1-handed axe she picked up to Aerika will have to wait.

Second stop was the Auction House, of course. I'm still using Strange Dust to level with [Enchant Bracers - Stamina] so I've only listed my Lesser Magic Essence for the moment. I'm ready to upgrade to a Runed Silver Rod and will need to see if someone can either make one for me (I've picked up some Silver Bars from chest loot) or if I can get one from the AH. The lowest one was about 80 silver which is well beyond my budget at the moment. I'm thinking of having Aesmarele be only a disenchanter for the moment so I can focus on Laurewen. That silver rod will have to wait.

It seems that low-level items are a mixture of high and low demand. All of it is rather expensive; items in high demand are high because sellers can afford to raise the prices and items in low demand are high because no one else is selling the item, so folks can ask whatever they want for it.

I picked up 5g for signing someone's guild charter. There are quite a few things I could do with it:
o Catch up on my Feral skills (which I've been neglecting in favor of having silver for stacks of water)
o Buy my riding skill and mount
o Buy larger bags
o Work on my alchemy
o Purchase glyphs

This whole glyph thing is rather odd and the prices folks are asking are a bit much. 7 gold for each glyph? I don't have that much money! I can't even afford one at those prices. I do, however, have a full stack of Mageroyal that I don't see myself using for alchemy anytime soon. The glyphs I'm after require a Midnight Ink each. Each Midnight Ink requires two Dusky Pigments. Every 5 Mageroyal milled provides 2-3 Dusky Pigments. If I offer a stack of Mageroyal, hopefully someone will be willing to trade both of those glyphs. I did not have any luck in Trade chat with my first attempt, but it was 04:15.

I'm using Boston's 20-30 Levelling Guide through the Tour Guide addon and Laurewen is about 20% short of level 24. She is too squishy without having the extra armor bonus from Moonkin Form and I'm having to stop and drink far too often for my tastes; level 40 will not come fast enough.

Aerika was invited to a dwarf guild. I'm not quite sure what I want to do regarding guilds right now. My goal is to get raid-worthy and into a Progression-focued guild. My past experience has been that having one character in a social guild and another in a raiding guild causes drama, something I want to stay far away from. Perhaps I'll fly solo for awhile longer before considering a social/levelling guild.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

UI, Oh My.

The default WoW interface is just not enough. A lot of folks claim that the use of addons and mods is a crutch, however I see them as a tool, similar to Thottbot or Allakhazam--they are something that is there if you want to use it or you can ignore it if you'd rather not. Part of my goal in redoing my UI is making sure that everything I need is easy to find, well organized, and pleasant on the eyes.

This is what I've got so far on Laurewen (click for full-size image):

Visible Mods:
o Bartender
o Cartographer Waypoints
o FuBar + Extensions
o IceHUD
o Prat
o SexyMap
o Sunn Viewport Art (and Art Pack 5)
o Tour Guide

I'm actually quite pleased with how this is turning out so far. I've tweaked Grid a bit as well, but it's hard to see what will happen until you have a group going.

My next addon will likely be Cellular or some other module that will allow me to put whispers somewhere obvious and/or have the screen slap me when someone is trying to talk to me.


In other news, Aerika is now level 14. I'm working through Boston's 12-20 quest guide right now. According to my UPS tracking number, it looks like I should have media in-hand tomorrow; time for that up-to-70 grind.

I'll be AFK starting early Sunday afternoon as I do not have a Satellite Internet card for my laptop and I'm rather certain that Amtrak trains don't have their own source of connectivity.

The Trials of Trial Accounts.

Things I cannot do in a trial account:

o Create a group.
This has led to sitting around for lengths of time waiting for a quest object to respawn so I and the other 8 trial players can all kill the guy and take his head.

o Try out instancing.
Well, that's not wholly true. I received my Deadmines quests right as I hit level 20; needless to say, they don't do me much good since I can no longer gain experience. Between Deadmines alone and the quests, that's at least a level and a half of experience that I'd much rather have.

o Utilize the WoW economy.
I cannot buy glyphs to test out this inscription thing. Also of annoyance are all of the greens and crafting materials just sitting in my bank and the inability to purchase larger bags. This is a hindrance to leveling, especially with a gathering profession of any sort. I've spent most of my levels so far leveling trade skills inefficiently in order to have the bank/bag space. Grey and white items are evaluated for trade value so I can determine which to toss out in order to loot the corpse and skin the creature.

o Ask questions regarding, well, anything.
Trade is still the true General channel, but trial accounts can not use either. Has anyone seen the Defias Messenger? Who knows; I certainly can not ask in General and I'm pretty sure most of the other lowbies standing around me have no idea what I'm talking about.

o Answer my mail.
At least let me take the stuff out of my mailbox, even if you block trial accounts from sending. That envelope icon is driving me nuts. It's pointless receiving a letter regarding my mount and riding skill access if I can not read the stupid thing.

Things I can do with a trial account:

o Receive random group invites and PvP requests.
No, I really don't want to. Unless you're standing right next to me and I know that this upcoming part is pretty tough or has a named quest spawn, I really don't want to auto-join your group.

o Receive random whispers and charter requests.
I don't understand how I can be asked to sign a charter if I can not join a guild. And by not being able to, I missed out on about 36 gold based on all of the whispered offers I received. That could have been my mount and riding skill.

o Hack together a UI with only half of the mods working.
This is actually only an issue with the load-on-demand client, where X-Perl Unit Frames, Tom Tom, and Cartographer Waypoints all threw Error 132s. The description surrounding the full installer is quite unclear; the implication I gained from reading it was that only those with real accounts could log in via the full client. I'm glad that I took the chance (since I'll need it all come Thursday anyhow) and I've been playing happily with my new UI settings.

We're Not In Kansas Anymore.

I saw a rather large amount of the content of Vanilla and TBC. Never completed AQ40 or stepped foot in Naxx and never waved hello to Lady Vashj, but everything else up to those points I was able to participate in and help clear. Needless to say, it was a significant amount of content that now exists only as a shadow of its former self. With the changes I've seen, I half expect candy-colored midgets to start dancing around my house with ruby slippers.

o 25-man raid PuGs
Seriously? The idea makes me break out in hives. The only raid I've ever PuGed was AQ20 on an alt and went in knowing it would be a joke. It certainly didn't disappoint. People actually do this successfully? I know it's been a common occurrence in Dungeons and Dragons Online for ages, but in WoW, where the idiot ratio of 100:1 stands in stark contrast to DDO's 1:5 (before free-to-play), I just can not wrap my brain around the idea.

o Mount training at level 20...
Back in my day, unless you were a druid or hunter, you ran to your next quest/town/instance/trainer/herb and you liked it! Uphill, in snow or blistering heat--the best you could do was line yourself up, turn on auto-run and go make a sandwich while you headed to the next zone and flight point. At least with the flight points it was only one way.

o ... for 4 gold
It only makes sense for the price to be lowered with the level attained being lowered. Even 4 gold is a large sum for a level 20 character without a rich main to supply it with extensive amounts of gold. Talk about deflation; and people complain about the WoW economy.

o Achievements
With the Achievement system already implemented, we're just asking for an X-Box 360 port. Just for logging in, I received a "Feat of Strength" achievement (5th Anniversary.) Some of them are amusing, but I feel like I should be displaying a banner with this score alongside my X-Box Gamer Score and PS3 Trophies.

o Inscription
I don't know what to think quite yet as I haven't been able to actually use these (no AH/trades on trial accounts). The concept reminds me of the Druid Idol trinkets; it just seems that they've been expanded to all classes and don't take up my trinket slot.

o Boomkin, Feral Tanking, and Tankadins - 'Off-Specs' are no longer very far off
Even in TBC, Moonkin were not generally taken seriously in raids. Paladins could tank most non-heroics and even some heroics; same with Feral Druids, but you rarely saw them filling such roles on raid nights. Druids and Paladins healed and that was about it until the content was on farm.

o Dual-Speccing
This is awesome and I'm looking forward to it when I get toward end game. No more nights of "We need you to respec to Resto for the evening", it sounds like it's just 'click a tab and you're good to go' (after a purchasing the ability, of course.) Due to this, it seems not as uncommon for folks to request trash and things noone else wants for off-specs, which makes any Moonkin happy for those times that they do have to crack out the healing.

Like flattening a wicked witch with your house, some of the changes are pleasant. Others have me wanting to click my heels together to teleport back to 2007.


It's Tuesday, which means patch day. Rather than sleeping (it's now 07:15) I've been reading through the Elitist Jerks forums where I still have an active account. Color me surprised since my last login was in August of 2007.

Yes, it has been over two years since I last played World of Warcraft. Life very much got in the way of my WoW obsession and I left it all behind--even rid myself of the media (and subsequently the rights to my account). Occasionally I would wonder how old guildmates were doing, relive raid achievements in my mind, and flirt with the idea of going back to a game that had consumed a literal year of my life (in actual played time for those curious.)

And now I have returned.

I blame Mana, the wife of a coworker, who piqued my curiosity. There has been an entire expansion, an achievement system implemented, and a plethora of other changes during my absence. She elaborated on her goal of collecting 50 pets, explaining that her next month of playtime was a self-reward for having survived her classes. We chatted about the differences between my era of WoW and the current world, discussing the current and future changes in store. The seed had been sown.

I'm confident that my illness was just a scapegoat; I could have just as easily continued plotting but never playing Fallout 3 characters or worked on my plans for a speed run of Final Fantasy VIII. Instead, wrapped in a blanket with a box of tissues nearby, I registered for a trial account and installed the 'load-as-you-go' client.

That was last Thursday. I've situated myself on the Nesingwary server and have already 'level-capped' two characters at 20 while I wait for my World of Warcraft Battle Chest to arrive in the mail ($20 at GameStop? Heck yeah.)

Now I sit here debating if I should try to sleep for four hours before going to work or if I should tough it out. It is a debate that feels comfortably familiar.