Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Worth of a Kingdom.

I started a 20g 10-deep glyph wall. I had a few intentions for it with respect to the market and competition, but after posting my wall I realized just how much time I had put into my glyph empire. Each milling, each crafting, each posting and mailbox clear--I was spending more time on the AH than I was playing the game. I hadn't quested on my alts in weeks, only sat in LFD while milling herbs. I was even milling while reading (my husband has started me on the Wheel of Time series).

It was time to sell.

With over 3k glyphs still on the AH, this was the contents of my kingdom:



It doesn't look like so much when it's across multiple toon and bank tabs. This was a little intimidating to see.

I spent a few more hours calculating the value of everything and sold it at a discount to my GM for 120k.

It felt a little weird logging in today. My mouse hovered over my glyph poster on my main account for a moment before I logged onto my other bank toon. I realized I didn't even need the second copy of WoW that I'd started yet. This is going to take some getting used to.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Panic Attacks: Making the Most of Others'.

Everyone is stocking supplies for Cataclysm. New levelers mean new professions which require old materials. New gear will be needed, new bags, new glyphs; many goblins have guild banks full of the stuff. Current buyers are slowing down and prices are beginning to decline BUT markets have not stopped completely. Remember when I said Don't Panic! ?

Now is a good time to watch your Resale list for goodies. Things I've been finding this week:

*ilvl 200 crafted epics - Folks are still leveling their professions as well as their alts; if you can find them for the price of an Abyss Crystal, all the better.
*Patterns and Schematics - Dark Iron Bomb, Ornate Khorium Rifle, Swift Boots, Green Lumberjack Shirt -- These aren't rare, per se, but a collector somewhere will be interested and I've only paid a few silver for each of them.
*Frozen Orbs - 6 for a Crusader Orb, 4 for a Runed Orb, and 1 each for Eternals -- check to see if converting them could bring some profit.
*Flasks and Feasts - These will be useful for leveling and will be cheap as folks try to get rid of their remaining stock. Every little buff helps!
*Crafting Materials - Cloth, leather, cobalt ore, eternals; time to start stocking up!

May all your competitors panic!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Turkey Time: Pack-Farming

Sorry for the lack of posts. Organizing in reality makes me want to jump into the game for some non-cleaning time! Oh, wait... my gbanks need to be organized, too. /sigh

Today I would like to share my method for farming packs of mobs as a Turkey. This has worked especially well while farming for those soon-to-be-extinct Razzashi Hatchling pets but will work any time the mobs you are farming are in tightly-packed groups.

Recommended Glyphs:
Glyph of Thorns
Glyph of Starfall
Glyph of Focus
NOT Glyph of Typhoon (the knockback is useful for interrupting casters)

Process
1) Position yourself outside of aggro range.
2) Cast Rejuvenation and begin running into the center of the group you intend to kill.
3) Shift into Moonkin form while running.
4) Cast Barkskin and Thorns just as you reach melee range.
5) As soon as you get into the center, cast Starfall and back away during the GCD. This allows you to force all mobs in front of you so you're able to dodge.
6) Cast Hurricane and center it on the group.
7) Be prepared with Typhoon, using it to interrupt casters (assuming you do NOT have it glyphed).
8) Moonfire anything that is still alive.
9) Loot.

With a little practice you can make steps 1-6 seamlessly utilize every GCD. Since Barkskin and Starfall are on a one-minute cooldown, you can either wait for them to come up or, if the beefiness-to-squishiness ratio is high enough, simply continue but ignore Starfall and Thorns for the next pull.

Alternating the two allows me to clear every pack with raptors in ZG in less than 10 minutes (including travel time and looting).

Find of the Day
Yellow Lumberjack Shirt (2) - 6g each

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Of Cloth and (Cartel) Kingdoms.

There has been an official declaration that portions of the Insane in the Membrane achievement will not be obtainable come Cata. There is no word yet on whether those who have completed those portions ahead of time will be able to complete the remaining portions or not but this muddy water is not stopping the truly Insane last-minute achievement seekers.

One of the requirements of Insanity is to be Honored with the Bloodsail and Exalted with all of the Steamwheedle Cartel, each the sworn enemy of the other. Contrary to popular belief, the two reputations do not have to be held concurrently in order to obtain credit, significantly decreasing the amount of grind this portion of the achievement has historically been.

Since most of the Insane-seekers are also working toward the Exalted achievement, it is far better to gain the Bloodsail rep first and lose it in favor of the Exalted reputations with Steamwheedle Cartel. This requires slaying Booty Bay guards and NPCs until Honored with the Bloodsail is reached and then turning in repeatable quests with each of the goblin cities to repair rep to Neutral before heading back to the pirate or DM grind.

Those who are Bloodsail Admirals but not Insane-seekers may also be interested in repairing their reputation now: Beta's Booty Bay has level 85 elite guards who crushing-blowed my poor turkey for 17k worth of damage a swing.

Each city has a different quest and each quest requires 40 cloth and 4 of some type of trade good (runecloth and coal for Everlook, for example). Each turn-in provides 500 rep for that city and 250 spillover rep for the other three up to Netural. Getting your first city to neutral will have your other three halfway there, so half as much cloth is needed for the next city, etc. In the end you'll need

~ City 1: 84 turn-ins (3360 cloth)
~ City 2: 42 turn-ins (1680 cloth)
~ City 3: 21 turn-ins (840 cloth)
~ City 4: 11 turn-ins (440 cloth)

for a total of 6320 cloth. Everlook requires Runecloth, Gadgetzan requires Mageweave, Booty Bay requires Silk, Ratchet requires Linen. In the end, this is a lot of cloth required to get back to neutral with all four cities.

Of course, a true goblin would sell you the cloth required to get back into their favor, right? Prices on my server have already increased drastically for these cloth types due to normal buyouts of the lower-priced stuff and there is very little left on the AH at all. Now is the time to consider offloading your cloth.

You can start by sending me some while I try to repair my own reputation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

YMMV.

First off, today is Just My Two Coppers' Blogger Carnival! Be sure to check out some of the other great WoW blogs and help us grow as a community. Hopefully you'll learn from our mistakes before they become your own!

I've been hanging out in JMTC's IRC channel lately. They have a webchat interface so folks can pop in and out as they please and since pre-Glyphmas there has been an increase in new faces appearing. Some are great new additions to the chat, some ask to be spoon-fed information that is already on the forums (pssssst... go read the forums!) and others ask for confirmation that a gold-making method will work.

My response to this last part is always: YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary)

There are some safe bets, like Saronite Ore for less than 62s50c per piece (smelted into Saronite Bars, a stack vendors for 25g). If Eternal Earth is less than 5g per piece and green-quality gems (Chalcedony, Sun Crystal, Bloodstone, and Huge Citrine) are less than 2g per piece, you can always craft necklaces and rings that vendor for a small amount of profit.

Everything else is really server-dependent. Sure, we can tell you that something worked great in our own experience but it may not necessarily work for you. Just like the United States and France have their own economies, so do Moon Guard and Bloodhoof. The only way to know how well something will work is to know your economy and, since many goblins are secretive about which server they play on, your chances of finding information tailored to your needs is not so great. You'll have to figure things out on your own but remember that with great rewards comes great risk.

If you want to start understanding your server's economy, look at what your server base is like. PvP servers love PvP gear and RP servers love shirts; servers with a lot of progression will need more flasks and servers with a lot of altoholics will need more bags. Be sure to do your daily (at least!) auction house scans if you're using Auctioneer. Watch how quickly different types of goods sell and be wary of those that languish for a long while. These are just guidelines, of course, but hopefully it will be a start.

Here's hoping you get great mileage to the (gold) gallon!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Single-Wide or Double-Wide (Posting).

We've all seen it: someone undercuts us by 1 copper with not just a single post but with two, three, sometimes five-glyph-wide posts. Is there a method to their madness? Maybe. There are certainly advantages and disavantages to posting multiple glyphs while undercutting wars abound.

Single-Wide
Most goblins post a single glyph when undercutting. Someone else undercuts us, so we post another to undercut them, creating layers of posts.

Pros
~Fewer glyphs are tied up on the AH at any given time.
~Can undercut more often without having to maintain high stocks of glyphs or cancel as often.
~There is the potential that if enough sell the lower boundary price will rise.

Cons
~If yours sells and you don't post a fresh one fast enough, your competitor gets a sale at a higher price.


Double-wide (or Triple-, Quadruple-, etc.)

Some folks will post two or more glyphs at a time when undercutting. This is not the same as walling (posting multiple glyphs at a particular price point so that you can either annoy your competition or not have to babysit the auction house).

Pros
~If one of your glyphs sell, there is another of yours waiting to be sold.
~It can be used to intimidate your competition by showing off how much more supply you have.

Cons
~More of your glyphs are tied up while on the AH.
~You increase the amount of time you're waiting at the mailbox when your glyphs have expired.
~Unless sales are pouring in, the lower boundary price has a smaller opportunity for rising.

What is good when?

For constant undercutting, I personally stick to single-wide posting. Undercutting remains fierce enough on my server that being able to undercut more often and possibly lose a sale in between is better than spending so much time canceling and waiting for the mailbox to refresh. Before I go to bed, however, I will always post a double-wide undercut. If I'm undercut after I log out for the evening, there is nothing I can do anyhow, but I have an extra layer in case I do manage to get some sales overnight.

If you have more control over your server's market or your competition is less vicious in undercutting, constant double-wide undercuts may work for you. If you're stuck fighting against a bot... I'm so sorry.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't Panic!

I was prepared. With 25+ of every glyph, thousands of ink and herbs in reserve, and a last-minute buyout of pretty much everything glyph-related from the AH, I posted my wall of glyphs right before the servers dropped and dreamed of gold caps.

Two days after 4.0.1 hit I'd only made 20k in sales and was still in the red. The day-one reports of 50k, 150k, 300k profits by some of my fellow peers was like adding salt to the wound. What had I done wrong?

I kept going through the motions, buying out herbs below 40g a stack and glyphs below 10g. I lowered my threshold, lowered my fallback, started undercutting every 30 minutes, even bought out everything below 20g to try and reset the market--nothing seemed to help. My dreams shattered, I was ready to throw everything I had into a 10g wall in order to punish the other scribes on the server.

Suddenly, a glimmer of hope appeared in my mailbox: six different glyphs sold at my fallback. I rushed to Iressa and Fanin, begging them to show me how my wares were faring. A handful of other glyphs were all selling, many of them at my fallback value. My competition was running dry and, five days after the patch released, I started to gain control of the market.

When I'd thought that my competition had won, it ends up my server is just a little slow. Many of those who pulled in 50k or more on the first day found their sales dropped sharply after whereas mine have been only steadily declining. Who would have thought a more laid-back server would have more laid-back purchasing patterns?

Two and a half weeks later, I'm at 200,000g in sales and 160,000g in profit.

The moral of the story? Don't Panic. What happened on one server will not necessarily happen on yours. Oh, and don't buy out *everything* below 20g or you'll end up with six stacks of Glyph of Voidwalker. No one wants that shit.

Next time I'll be sure to bring my towel.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Glyphmas Hangovers

Appropriately called 'Glypmas', the 4.0.1 server patch two weeks ago brought in a huge influx of glyph buyers. Some JMTCers pulled in 300k worth of sales in the first few days and others walked off with 50k profits with only a night's worth of preparation.

Now, however, most folks are glyphed out and sales have been declining. But don't switch professions just yet; there's still some potential for profit in the near future.

Patch 4.0.3

New Race/Class Combinations - Tauren paladins, gnome priest, dwarfen shamans--all of these new rerollers will be needing glyphs. The first trio of glyph slots is level 25; those who are seasoned rerollers will be there in less than three hours. Within a week many will have hit 50 for the second trio of glyph slots.

Cataclysm

Ink Trading - Once Cata releases, the ink trader will be updated to trade down Cata inks rather than Ink of the Sea. With the number of rerollers there will likely be an abundance of lower-level herbs to start but the mid-tier and Outland herbs will be in less supply.

New Goblins and Worgen - New characters mean new glyphs. Those gunning for server first will be at 25 within a few hours (server stability aside) and 75 within a few days. Everyone else will be hitting 50 within a week and 75 within two or three.

"Skills to Pay the Bills" - This new achievement will hopefully bring in some extra draw for those glyphs that no one really knows what to do with. Each class has roughly 30 glyphs available so expect a number of folks to figure 'might as well get them all!'.

How do you plan to prepare?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

An update and server transfer gold accumulation.

It's been a while, folks. Here's the last few months in brief:

Satellite ceased raiding. I looked for a new raiding guild, was accepted to a top 100 horde guild on Mal'Ganis. I transferred. Queue Satellite drama. Satellite decides to transfer to Dragonblight. Anakha decides not to transfer with. New guild doesn't pan out and Mal'Ganis is far too populated for my taste. I transfer back to Nessingwary.

I am now a guildless raid-geared turkey who has stuck her healing gear in the bank and is planning to complete her Loremaster achievement before Cata. Raiding is not in my future ever. Gold, however, is.

Before I transferred to Mal'Ganis, I did my research. I had about three weeks of Auctioneer data of anywhere from one to four scans per day for their AH. I sat in /2 (SpamThrottle is amazing, by the way) and watched for what people were buying. The things that I took with me:

Arctic Fur
Alliance Tournament Pets
Golden Pearl
Pattern: Bright Yellow Shirt
Ikfiru's Sack of Wonder
Eternal Fire
White Kitten Carriers

This is in addition to the raiding supplies I took with me.

Potions still held value on Mal'Ganis; gems did not. I switched my alchemy specialization from Transmute to Flask and after crafting a ton of flasks to Potion.

Before leaving, I crafted a Mekgineer's Chopper as my personal going-away present.

After all was said and done, I had 20k gold remaining on Nesingwary, 20k gold in Laurewen's pockets, and a metric asston of things to sell when I got there.

During my two months on Mal'Ganis, I managed to sell everything except three Elwynn Lambs (I brought over 8) and two of my four Bright Yellow Shirt patterns. I purchased over 10k in alchemy patterns I would never have found on Nessingwary, bought a Hyacinth Macaw pet for 80% of Nessy's normal prices, and sunk all of my extra gold into Primordial Saronites for the trip home.

20 PSes went to Aeleena's Shadow's Edge, 1 went to her Iceblade Arrows pattern, six went to Anakha for his ICC patterns, and the rest were sold within five hours of arriving on Nessy at 230% of my purchase price.

Now, why not invest in BoEs? I crunched the numbers and there were some that would sell at 300%+ of purchase price based on current values (mostly ICC BoEs). However, Nessy is small, only two guilds are progressively raiding and I had no assurance that the items would actually sell. PSes are still constantly being used and had a reasonable resale value (350-400g purchase for 700-800g sales).

I'd also cleaned out my guild bank of a lot of random crap on Nessy and sold it all. I am now at 94k gold again and have a metric asston of glyphs, flasks, and potions to finish selling off.

It ends up Silverlock, a friend, has taken over the shuffling business while I was gone. Good for him! I gave him some pointers but for the moment I'm going to be sitting back and working on achievements while waiting for Cata. Drops and rewards alone should bring in some extra gold.

Cata plans: Farm the hell out of everything ASAP. No raids mean no need to hit 80 ASAP so I'm going to avoid the crowds by simply farming to start.

I am anxiously awaiting a beta key. Please, Blizzard randomizer, pick me!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Trees can Moonfire, wha?: Resto Druid Talents in the Cataclysm Alpha

So, a Turkey is still a Turkey, except for the dizziness from the nerf-bat and the fact that we can throw mushrooms and summon lasers from the sky.

But a Tree is no longer a Tree, at least in the 'traditional' sense.

The Resto talents that have been presented with the Alpha leak are quite interesting and my analysis is presented for you to, er, analyze.

Please bear in mind that all of this information is subject to change between now and release!

The talent changes presented via the leaked information can be found here.

New Talents

  • Blessing of the Grove: Providing small buffs to a key ability for each spec (alright, feral gets two), this talent will likely be taken by everyone, just as IGotW was, on the way to that lovely Clearcasting talent.
  • Perserverance: The 6% spell damage reduction taken from Balance of Power in the Balance tree has been moved here, but now for 10% over 5 points. It's a low-tier talent but with three points needed for Natural Shapeshifter as a pre-req for Master Shapeshifter, I'm not certain there are more than two points to spend on it. Edit: Actually, after looking through it further, I lied; since I'm still not sold on the new usefulness of Tranquility you could easily place all five points into here in order to reach Tier 6.
  • Fury of Stormrage: Blessing of the Grove hinted at a dual-nature for Resto druids; this slaps us in the face with it. Nourish one person and get a nuke, free! Except that the 'free nuke' will likely trigger the GCD which, as a healer, I might be using to heal someone else. With the Moonfire->Starfire portion, this really feels better placed in the Balance tree where it would likely be overpowered.
  • Efflorescence: God, trying to type that out is a pita. I expect it to be called 'Eff' or 'Flower Patch'. Have you seen the patch of flowers that sprout under the feet of someone who uses the Herbalism HoT Lifeblood? I expect this looks a lot like that, except with maybe more flowers. 15 yards is a reasonable distance (the same as Lifebloom) but this HoT is uncontrolled; your party members are going to have to run to it themselves. Highly useful in fights where people are clustered and this extra HoT will of course heal the person you originally healed unless they move. Overall expect lots of overhealing and grumbling because you finally critted on that lone guy over there and not on the cluster of six you've been healing for the last two minutes. Also, the spell doesn't say what part of the healing done by Regrowth is transferred; healing from an entire Regrowth or only from the direct heal? This talent is 'broken' and displays as Living Spirit's tooltip for Rank 2 and Rank 3.



Old Stuff that's Really New
  • Empowered Touch: If we're seeing HP values dip that low... I'm excited and worried all at the same time. The Nourish->Lifebloom synergy implies that the devs really do expect us to use our entire bag of tricks now.
  • Revitalize: I am not a fan of the Lich King fight. Trees are not strong on this fight; in fact, I'd say overall we're pretty weak for raid-healing here because we cannot directly battle Infest. What we still bring to the fight, however, is Revitalize which ups DPS overall and at least helps us kill Arthas more quickly. Blizzard says there will be no more of that! It makes sense, else many druids would continue in a 5x1 rotation just to keep Revitalize on everyone. Now we're going a complete 180, to the spells that are used very little currently. Another sign that crit is coming.
  • Tree of Life: This is the biggest change to the entire tree in the eyes of most Resto druids. We're no longer trees while healing--at least most of the time. The druid community is split on this matter; I personally am excited from a PvP standpoint. However, we didn't just use a cosmetic effect. Not only do they remove the 20% mana reduction to healing spells, it looks like we're back to being slow. If they don't provide a glyph to remove the movement decrease, I probably won't use it except on Patchwerk-style fights. AoE and other fight mechanics that require movement are too dangerous to have a speed decrease; hell, they're too dangerous at normal speed, which is why a huge majority of raiders currently use Tuskarr's Vitality on their feet. Some information on what the 'temporary enhancements' might be will help with determining just how useful this will be, but don't expect that info for some time. At the moment, I'd say this should be a useful cooldown for a raid-wide damage phase, such as during BQL's Bloodbolt Whirl, but there's too little information to really say what good it will do. The slow, however, pisses me off. Notice the removal of spell restrictions, which leads us to...
  • Improved Tree of Life: Doesn't have Tree of Life as a pre-req, heh. 5:00 to 3:30 is not terrible; in a 10-minute fight, you'll be able to use it 3 times instead of 2. 15% damage increase, though? They've removed the 'healing and buffs-only' restriction of Tree of Life form but since when do healers get to DPS? Since Cataclysm, it seems.
  • Gift of the Earthmother: Goodbye haste and a CD reduction to a spell we really didn't use much (pretty sure no one ever took the talent for the Lifebloom CD reduction), hello buffs! Again the talent is a little-here-little-there to a few different spells but, with all that it's bringing, I can certainly see why this talent is Tier 10. The Tranq buff is, of course, situational. The LB bloom will be useful if LB becomes useful (the devs certainly seem to think it will) and since Rejuv will still be used a lot while people kick the 5x1 habit, the immediate heal will be of use overall.



Old Stuff with New Changes
  • Naturalist: Moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3; replaces Intensity as the pre-req for Nature's Swiftness.
  • Improved Rejuvenation: Bonus now affects Swiftmend as well.
  • Nature's Swiftness: Naturalist replaces Intensity as its pre-req.
  • Improved Tranquility: This one is a little odd. The first point switches a cooldown reduction of 30% for a 25% damage reduction while channeling the spell. The second point goes back to the original talent of 60% cooldown reduction. Assuming the change is the first, 50% damage reduction will be amazing, but Tranquility is still a spell that I'm uncertain about and I'd rather have the cooldown reduction.
  • Living Seed: Moved from Tier 9 to Tier 6 and is now the pre-req for the new Efflorescence talent.
  • Nature's Bounty: Now the pre-req for Swiftmend, it looks like crit will be added to our plates once again.
  • Swiftmend: Nature's Bounty is now a pre-req. Cost decreased from 16% of base to 12% of base.
  • Natural Perfection: Removed the crit chance and moved from Tier 7 to Tier 8. Still a PvP talent if you ask me, just a less useful one with the crit removal. So, why did this go up a Tier?
  • Empowered Rejuvenation: Now affects Swiftmend.
  • Improved Barkskin: No longer reduces the chance for Barkskin to be dispelled. PvPers everywhere are mourning.
  • Wild Growth: I almost put this one under 'unchanged', but the mana cost has: up to 37% from 23%. Combined with the promise of 'mana problems' during a fight, devs certainly don't want this one spammed on cooldown.



Old Stuff that's Gone Missing
  • Improved Gift of the Wild: Blizzard is removing all 'improved' versions of buffs; bye-bye super-paw.
  • Intensity: Here's the first hint of Resto mana conservation. Naturalist is now the pre-req for Nature's Swiftness.
  • Gift of Nature: Swiftmend's new pre-req is Nature's Bounty.
  • Living Spirit: Most trees were beginning to drop this, anyhow.



Nothing's Changed... Yet
  • Nature's Focus
  • Furor
  • Subtlety
  • Natural Shapeshifter
  • Omen of Clarity
  • Master Shapeshifter
  • Tranquil Spirit



My thoughts? It's not that unheard-of for a DPS to switch to healing in the middle of a fight to cover some slack while a battle-rez happens or during a nasty transition. But for a healer to go DPS? No, usually you want your healers watching for that next big damage spike or constantly spamming their big heals with /stopcasting macros built in. Aside from BQL after 16 bites when folks are self-healing enough that Moonfire from healers is alright or during Arthas' last 10%, healers don't DPS while raiding as a healer.

Blizzard seems to have other ideas.

I HATE the slowdown in tree form. Without knowing how some spells will be specifically affected by being in Tree of Life form, there's not much to say at the moment other than if we get to look like the Ancients in Darnassus, hell yeah, and I want it to be permanent! The speed thing is going to be a sticking point with me, however.

Blizzard has removed just about all of the appeal of the 5x1 rotation: the insane mana regen and cost reductions are out the window, the increased cost of Wild Growth, the changes to Revitalize--they've attacked 5x1 from all sides. Most of the talents now look like a hodge-podge of synergistic "if this then that" thought processes that will just require nice, new mods that tell us what we should be doing (see feral's Bad Kitty mod). Sure, haste will be useful with HoTs affected as well as cast times, but with so much emphasis on criticals to trigger other abilities as well as the permanent implementation of 4T9's crit for HoT ticks, I think we'll be trading in our current haste-stacked gear for new crit-stacked gear come Cataclysm.

Tranquility is another matter. As it is now, I use Tranquility to heal my group to full after a wipe, that's about it. It's already been said that Tranquility will now be raid-wide which ups its usefulness significantly. Two Resto druids popping this after a Precious/Stinky Devestate would be quite sick to see. It could also potentially give you some fast, over-time healing that gives you a moment longer to survey the battlefield and figure out who needs to be fixed up next--or to heal while scrounging the mini-map for where the silly hunter died so you can brez. I'd still want to see it in action before I pass judgment, but something so situational and on such a long cooldown probably won't cause me to spend Talents on it.

Keep in mind that the above is from a raiding perspective; PvP and 5-mans are a different story. I DPS while healing quite often in 5-mans because otherwise I would fall asleep at the keyboard. Assuming we ever get to the point that the healer can go AFK for the whole run and everything be alright in a random heroic Cataclysm dungeon, the changes won't be so bad.

As with the Balance tree, however, the PvP side seems to be getting better. Since our heals outside of Tree of Life form in Cataclysm should be in roughly the same ballpark as they are inside of Tree of Life form currently, being a Resto Druid in PvP has become more viable. Sure, we could just heal like crazy and keep ourselves and our allies alive, but having to drop from tree form to cast Cyclone or Entangling Roots is annoying--and don't get me started on the Hurricane bug a few weeks back. I spent most of my time in BGs in caster-form with gimped heals but with more options available to me and without the huge 'kill me!' sign over my head that Tree of Life form is.

All in all, I'm interested in knowing how this will play out.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fried Turkey: Balance Druid Talents in the Cataclysm Alpha.

Note: I'm making some updates as I continue pouring over the talent tree and finding new nuances and typos. I'll flag important ones.

You know how curiosity killed the cat? Well, it's a good thing I'm a tree. I'd read a bunch about the talent information that had been released and I finally lost my willpower. I must say, if these talents are representative of the new place of druids in WoW society, we're becoming the epitome of hybrid-mode.

I'll start working on Resto now that Balance is done, but it won't be posted until later tomorrow morning since Anakha and I have a movie date and I want to have more time at it. From what I've seen so far, the Resto tree is where the hybrid feel is stemming more from at the moment.

Please bear in mind that all of this information is subject to change between now and release!

So, first, a link to the tree of leaked information can be found here. (No pun was intended in the writing of that sentence.)

New Talents

  • Lunar Justice: This could be interesting. Unless Blizzard plans to reduce our mana pools significantly, 2/4/6% of base will not be a huge boost. Nice for PvP, grinding, and no downtime on groups of enemies, sure. Not as useful for boss fights unless they have adds that will actually trigger it. I hope the 'first ally' clause is actually 'first ally who uses mana and is not already at full'; wasted triggers will be annoying. Edit: The bonus is only granted if 'you kill a target'; the BoA trinkets have a similarly-worded proc and only proc if you actually get the killing blow, not if you assisted with the kill. This talent is now leaning more toward 'not impressed'.
  • Solar Beam: This reminds me of the Hammer of Dawn from Gears of War, except without the ability to move it once summoned. How wide is this beam? Is the 'disoriented' effect like Blind? How or will this affect bosses? So far it seems like only a PvP tool to me; nice for that cluster of healers standing just inside the corner of the boss rooms in AV.
  • Starsurge: 2s cast to knock down, so don't expect to use it as an interrupt. You can get a free crit on someone laying down, but does being knocked down count? Especially if they stand back up again immediatly. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Spellstorm damage is mixed Arcane/Nature, similar to a mage's Frostfire. Solar Beam is a pre-req.
  • Fungal Growth: A Magic Mushroom Enhancer that also affects our Treants, could be great for kiting boss-fights if they'll actually be affected. Also nice for running away in PvP or the leveling scene.


Old Stuff that's Really New
  • Lunar Guidance: The old SP-from-Int version is out the window. The new version increases the range of Solar Beam by 2 (from what? 10?) and causes Starsurge to generate some of that new lunar or solar power that Eclipse will be based around. Starsurge is a pre-req.
  • Wrath of Cenarious: This almost should be listed as a new spell, since the old static buffs to Wrath and Starfire are gone and replaced with MOONFIRE SPAM! I won't be the only one doing this in PvP anymore. It's nice that they're trying to give something for us to do without losing DPS on movement fights, but why embrace that stupid old cliche'? Changed from 5 points to 3.
  • Eclipse: Another new incarnation of an old talent, it looks like the Lunar/Solar meters will be innate to all Turkeys, rather than only gained through the Eclipse talent. Without knowing how this new balance-of-power works, it'll be hard to know how good this talent is. The extra-energy-when-critted is interesting; will it apply to your current highest like Lunar Guidance? Sounding like a PvP talent unless bosses are going to have 100-yard 360-degree cleaves--I wouldn't put it past Blizzard.



Old Stuff with New Changes
  • Genesis: Now affects Swiftmend
  • Nature's Majesty: No longer a pre-req for Nature's Grace and Nature's Splendor
  • Improved Moonfire: No longer increases crit chance and no longer affects DoT portion of moonfire
  • Celestial Focus: Moved from Tier 4 to Tier 3 and no longer increases haste
  • Nature's Grace: No longer has Nature's Majesty as a pre-req.
  • Nature's Splendor: Now a 33%/66%/100% chance to increase duration of those spells by 3s, rather than the scaling increases across them per point. Moved from Tier 3 to Tier 4; no longer as Nature's Majesty as a pre-req. Edit: It looks like this is another 'broken' talent; rank 1 is identical to the current version; rank 2 and 3 are the new version listed here. Take that as you will.
  • Brambles: Moved from Tier 2 to Tier 5. Should we assume that Treants, Thorns, and/or Entangling Roots are going to become more commonly used/useful?
  • Vengeance: Moved from Tier 4 to Tier 5.
  • Balance of Power: Spell damage taken has been removed and shifted to its own talent (see the Resto tree). Flat 4% hit and 100% spirit-as-hit-rating? The exponential growth of ratings must be getting out of hand; soon the required hit rating to reach boss-level creatures will be infinity.
  • Moonkin Form: Turkey got nurfed! Lost: Damage reduction while stunned, party critical chance increase, and mana return from criticals. And we still can't cast Rebirth without wasting a GCD. They should make the turkey-Rebirth the party member hatching from an egg in 10 seconds; could make timing fun.
  • Improved Moonkin Form: The 5% crit from the old Turkey form is moved here for 6% over three talent points. No haste, no SP-from-Spirit. Ironically does not require Moonkin Form to take.
  • Owlkin Frenzy: Removes the mana restoration but otherwise it's our familiar feral-turkey. Also does not require Moonkin Form to take, heh.
  • Typhoon: Now a pre-req for Starfall. Edit: Cost increased from 25% base to 32% base.
  • Force of Nature: Now a pre-req for the new Fungal Growth.
  • Earth and Moon: Spell Damage taken reduced from 4%/9%/13% to 2%/4%/6%.
  • Starfall: Base damage nerfed, no longer splashes. It was too good to last. Typhoon is now a pre-req.



Old Stuff that's Gone Missing
  • Insect Swarm: This talent is missing but the spell is still referenced by Nature's Splendor; looks like it'll be going the way of the trainer.
  • Improved Insect Swarm: Also missing.
  • Moonfury: Gone. Too much of a good thing?
  • Improved Faerie Fire: Honestly not missing this one. If you ended up in a run with no shadow priest and two turkeys, someone was going to have to scrounge up more +hit for the fight.



Nothing's Changed... Yet
  • Starlight Wrath
  • Moonglow
  • Nature's Reach
  • Dreamstate
  • Gale Winds



My thoughts? I'm really feeling the PvP vibe here. With the new rated Battlegrounds, that's not as surprising, but if some of these new abilities existed in current content, that's all they would be used for. I have faith in Blizzard and their making use of these abilities in PvE... eventually. The loss of many regen abilities, namely from Owlkin Frenzy and Moonkin Form, will cause more turkeys to hoard that Innervate for themselves rather than giving it to the silly mages. It is of course too early to tell as any and all of these are subject to change, but it certainly will give food for thought.

Friends and Family Alpha: Not-so-secret anymore.

Early this morning one of the main WoW-news websites started posting a massive amount of screenshots and spell data onto their front page. A number of surprised individuals flocked to the official forums to inquire as to whether or not the NDA is still in effect--it is.

What I've gleaned so far is that the Alpha client was leaked on our glorious interwebs and news sites, your neighbor down the street, and that kid over there with his finger up his nose could all download the client for datamining and not be held to the NDA. This is exactly what they did.

The question is, "Whose heads are going to roll?" NDA is still in effect and folks discussing the leaked information on the official forums have had threads locked, deleted, and received swift justice of the ban-hammer (and I do mean swift; threads were being locked a few minutes after posting, which is quick for forums of this size).

The main site posting these leaks is in an interesting position. The main news-feeder received an Alpha invite himself and is under the NDA. However, the data he obtained is from the leaked Alpha client (as can be seen from the lack of people in any of the screenshots). By using the leaked Alpha client as the source for his information, is he clear of the NDA?

My understanding is that, even if he doesn't fall under the purview of the NDA, Blizzard can issue a cease-and-desist order as well as sue for losses. The forums have been debating whether or not Blizzard is likely to pursue this course and many folks are of the opinion that 'no publicity is bad publicity'. However, the site in question has likely received a large influx of visitors (to the point that the server has been taking a huge beating) which means a greater probability of ad-hits and thus revenue. Blizzard has their own ads on their front page, selling t-shirts and those new personalized figurines; how much revenue would they have made if they had been the ones to release the information? Sounds like losses to me.

I'm curious what the devs think about this situation. Are the upset that their work was released prematurely? Are they thrilled that people are seeing their hard work rather than watching it rot in a closet for a few more weeks/months? Are they apathetic as their zombified minds try to crank out the content that isn't finished yet?

I'm going to admit, I peeked. Not at much, but I saw a few screenshots and looked at a few spell links. The stuff is looking good--some if it actually sent chills down my spine.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

AFK for the week.

I'm AFKing from WoW for a week. I can't quite get away from WoW-related things, considering I spent three hours talking WoW with a friend at work yesterday, but I'm not going to be playing the game at all for a week.

Question is, what do you do without WoW for a week? My list of things-to-do so far:

*Iron Man 2 midnight release
Anakha and I haven't seen a midnight release in months because raid doesn't end until midnight. Hopefully the night will be a bit warmer than it has been lately so we can bike there and home.

*Eat at Screen Door
Some of the closest I can get to Southern cooking. They're a little more fancy than Bojangles and they also dip a little into the spicy side of Creole fare, but their mac 'n' cheese is to die for as are their collard greens. Top off dinner with a Mint Julep, mmm... The little place is constantly packed so we'll probably go tomorrow night or maybe Thursday before our movie.

*Clean the house
I've got stacks of D&D books thrown everywhere, Legos all over the floor thanks to Minco, and the kitchen stove could really use a scrubbing. This will probably continue to be procrastinated, but it really needs to be done.

*Moar Games!
I've got a huge stack of them that I've started and haven't finished. Time to get working on them:
-Final Fantasy XIII
-Final Fantasy Tactics (18th or so play-through)
-Final Fantasy X
-Final Fantasy VIII (speed-mode planning)
-Dragon Age: Origins
-Neverwinter Nights 2
-The Sims 2 (alright, you can't beat it, but I haven't touched it in months)
-Fallout III (beaten once at level 8; playing with DLC and trying to do *everything*)
-Borderlands

*Plan my Eberron campaign
I worked on this off-and-on for a few months and then set it down about a year ago. We had a normal Friday night D&D group but after a TPK when the party split (it's dangerous, I tell ya!) folks seemed to lose interest and I started hanging around on WoW on Fridays hoping to get into a 10-man ICC. Time to get my D&D groove back on and get this going again. My campaign-in-progress can be found here.

*Catch up on the blog
I need to finish writing up the second part of my Boosting guide and I have an interesting server-wide event I've been planning that will be announced here and on the Nessingwary realm forum at about the same time.

Any ideas for other things I should do? Aside from jump Anakha hourly, of course. ^_~

Monday, May 3, 2010

Follow-Up: Children's Week = Profit.

I spent a few days farming eggs and buying out every Mageroyal and Small Egg on the AH. I'd been discussing this whole plan with a guildmate who ran off to the Silvermoon sweet spot and farmed over 200 eggs in under an hour and spent the days following farming Mageroyal.

Total I had 21 cakes ready to sell on Sunday morning and I posted 10 of them at 100g each at roughly 00:45 before going AFK to play Final Fantasy XIII for a few hours. Returning at 07:00, only one cake had sold, much to my chagrin. Seems I missed the huge undercutting war that broke out but I was now the only one with cakes on the AH and they began to steadily sell with six more flying off the shelf in the span of thirty minutes. Wanting to see what the market was willing to pay, I canceled all of and relisted half of my cakes at 200g each; only three sold during a one-hour span before the undercutting began anew. I also began listing Mageroyal in stacks of 3 for 50g.

My cakes were undercut at 75g but I was certain that no one had a supply of hundreds of cakes, I canceled and reposted at 100g each and took a nap. On returning, all of the cakes had sold and prices were back up so I listed more at 100g each before being undercut again. My guildmate and I agreed to whitelist each other unless the competition started getting nasty on undercuts and the market bombed.

I did not realize that the Lovely Cakes had a thirty-minute cooldown or I'd have started this two days ago, but the profit from these were quite nice. The cake from a vendor cost me 14g40s (Exalted rep) and makes five slices. I turned around and sold each slice for 10g, making about 33g profit from each whole cake after AH fees. A few others caught on but the slices sold rather consistently all day.

I did not bother with the Tasty Cupcake or other markets. My guildmate had success selling the spices and flour in proper stack-sizes for crafting. By yesterday afternoon we had each made over 2000g with more potential on the horizon.

Sunday would have been the big rush day for this as the achievement is one of the easiest to obtain and a large population of people are online then. Monday (today) should be fairly steady in demand as those who don't play on Sunday log in and with a general lack of Monday raids folks have nothing better to do. Tuesday through probably Thursday the demand will be lessened as most folks will have completed the achievement already, but those PvPing on the AH will also be lessened as many will be raiding. Friday may see an increase among the 9-to-5 crowd and folks working on alts, while Saturday will see the last-ditch rush of folks trying to complete before the event is over. Saturday will be hit-or-miss, depending on how many people still have stock; if everyone still has plenty, prices will plummet as everyone tries to ditch, but if most of the contenders are sold out, the person with the last small supply could pull in a large amount of gold from the desperate.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Children's Week = Profit.

Children's Week starts on Saturday and a few of the achievements require some items that the lazy or unprepared will be after, bringing a lot of options for obtaining gold.

The "Bad Example" achievement requires eating a copious amount of sweets in front of your orphan.

Delicious Chocolate Cake can only be made by a chef lucky enough to have had the recipe drop in their satchel of goodies after completing the cooking daily. If you haven't gotten the recipe yourself, now is the time to make friends with someone who has. The materials will also be good sellers, especially with the Darkmoon Faire falling in the same week; Mageroyal is commonly used for Rogues Decks for the Insane! achievement so now is the time to farm or scour the AH. Small Eggs can be farmed relatively easily by making a loop around the quarry in SE Loch Modan, but the lazy are, well, lazy.

Slice of Lovely Cake can only be created by purchasing a Lovely Cake, which provides 5 slices. At 18g for the whole cake, those who only want a slice will be willing to pay for only that slice.

Tasty Cupcake are also created by chefs. The recipe is a BoP world drop with a relatively high drop rate, thus is more readily available than the Delicious Chocolate Cake. However, these will likely sell as will the Northern Eggs needed to make them.

There are other vendor-sold items that you may be able to convince a lazy person to buy from the AH, but in general I tend to shy away from them. Options include Tigule and Foror's Strawberry Ice Cream, Flask of Port, and Northern Spices. When the ice cream was only available in Shimmering Flats, I'd say profit could have been readily made because getting there is a pita, but now that vendors appear in the two main cities, I wouldn't bother.

Mages, those needing portals to get around will possibly increase so be prepared for an influx of whispers. Always charge a fee, don't work for tips.

Those who have multi-person mounts can offer to chauffeur folks to the locations needed for a fee. This would likely work best for lower-level individuals doing the Vanilla quest, especially if you are a mage and can combine with portals to Theramore/SW/IF.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How I went from 200g to 125,000g in 8 weeks--the graphical version.

I started with only 200g to my name on February 27th, 2010. As of April 26th, 2010, I had over 125,000g total liquid, not counting all of the materials I had remaining in my mailbox. I combed the interweb, doing my research, and eventually stumbled upon the Just My Two Coppers blog and started participating in the forums. With their assistance in putting me on the right track and in giving me a place to keep track of what I was doing and how things were going, I managed to reach not only my initial goal of 15,000g but to obtain my ultimate goal of 100,000g before Cataclysm.

I didn't allow myself to splurge on anything until I hit 125,000g so I'd stay above 100,000g when I did so. I've since purchased a basic Kirin'Tor ring, a Gigantique bag for the Achievement (it replaced a Frostweave in my bank), and four Portable Holes for Laurewen. And boy do I need it with all of that gear! This is in addition to the Traveler's Tundra Mammoth I purchased when I was at just under 50,000g.

I'm liquidating all of my materials now, so there's no harm in telling the world how I did it. The majority of my gold was made doing something called the Saronite Shuffle. This is a tactic that was used quite successfully for a long while by many AH goblins, however some recent patches caused many long-time practitioners to turn away from it due to the tanking of Infinite Dust on many servers.

I assure you that I am proof the Saronite Shuffle is a valuable means of in-game income on Nesingwary.

I prefer OmniGraffle for this sort of thing but seeing as I do not own a Mac, MSPaint had to do.

I'd like to condense this just a little bit more if I can, but that can come later.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The World of Warcraft Collector's Basket.

Glorf mentioned this in /g last night and it's pretty damn awesome, so I thought I'd share.

An anonymous Blizzard employee is auctioning off his batch of goodies to support the Peninsula Education Foundation.

Contents include all three Collector's Editions of WoW signed by the development team, one of each of the totally kyoot plushies, a year's subscription to WoW, and three loot cards: Spectral Kitten, Spectral Tiger, and Ethereal Plunderer.

As of this post, bidding is up to $4,200. Based on current eBay values:

WoW Collector's: Only one currently listed is $2000; I've seen them for $1000 in the past few weeks.
BC Collector's: $80
WotLK Collector's: $80
Spectral Tiger card: $800
Spectral Kitten card: $130
Ethereal Plunderer card: $400

The Gryphon and Wind Rider Cub are available from the Blizzard Store for $50 total and a year's subscription to WoW is $180 if you were to pay monthly, making the grand total without valuing the signatures on the boxes at $2720. From a 'stuff' point of view, the bid is way over value. However! You get, well, shiny signatures complete with bragging rights and the knowledge that your money is going to a great cause. So, if you're a philanthropist who likes to get something in return for tossing your money around, this could be your chance.

As for me, our combined tax return was only $1400 and I've got loans to pay so I'll be shying away from clicking any bidding buttons anytime soon.

Blizzard's New Sparkle-Pony.

I bought one. Well, first I told Anakha I thought they were cute and I was going to think about it. Then I just flat-out bought one. They were available from an early time on release day and by the time I jumped into queue at 5:00p PST, I was told it would be a 6-hour wait and I was 160,000-ish in line. Well, it only took about an hour and a half to get to the checkout and after logging out and in again, I had a new sparkle-pony. So did everyone else.

The design is actually quite pretty and the main reason I wanted one. It has, however, prompted some interesting claims by a few who believe Blizzard made the wrong move.

"Next Blizzard will start selling gear!"
Really? What makes you say that? I'll be the first to say that if they do begin selling gear, like actual stat-increasing epics not dresses and silly costumes, I'll be gone. I quit playing Dungeons and Dragons Online because of their switch to micro-transactions; why earn gear when you could just pay for it? I'm not the only one who feels that way, and I doubt the money Blizz would make in one-shot gear would balance out the amount of monthly subscription money they lose. The items that they have placed for sale are cosmetic only and don't change your game experience in any way (well, maybe not; see further below).

"By selling a mount, something commonly purchased with gold, for real-world cash, Blizzard is now no better than a gold-seller, giving people with money to burn an advantage over other players."
Really? I didn't see so many complaints with the release of the non-combat pets in the Blizzard Store. Now, the sparkle-pony does grant a nice boon: never having to remember to buy a mount for an alt again. But let's look at the gold break-down for this mount.
50 characters per account. We're assuming all 50 are level 70 for epic flying and are not Warlocks, Paladins, Druids, or anyone else who trains for their forms/mounts instead of buying them. For each character you'll have a standard ground mount (1g), an epic ground mount (10g), a standard flying mount (50g), and an epic flying mount (100g). That's 161g per character. 161g*50 = 8050g (this figure does *not* include faction discounts).

Just a quick Google search tells me that $4 per 1000g seems to be normal right now for the gold-buying crowd, so that's 8.05kg*$4 = $32.20 equivalent cash-to-gold value, but that's with *50* 70s on one account. Who the heck has that many on one account?

A friend I know does have 17 70+ characters on one account, (though I'm not sure how many of those toons have epic flying, I'll assume all of them) making the gold-to-cash value 17*161*4/1000=$10.95. Sounds to me like Blizz is over-charging for this 'benefit' if you look at it from that aspect. As for me, I have one character with epic flying, three with regular flying, one with epic ground, and one with regular ground riding training. Pretending they all used it at every level of training, my equivalent gold-to-cash value from this mount is (100+(50*4)+(10*5)+(1*6))*4/1000=$1.42. How am I getting a significant gain from this?

And looking at it from a gold standpoint, yesterday alone I made 3.5k profit from the AH and that was a slow day.

The only real gain I get from this mount is having to use only one bar slot for my mount rather than one for flying and one for ground. Though I really wish Blizzard would make the ground-to-flight transition in Dalaran without having to dismount and remount.

"Blizzard's selling a 310% mount!? Fsck them!"
All I have to say is... lrn2readnub.

The mount scales with your actual riding level, it doesn't grant 310% off-the-bat, but if you already have a 310% mount, it will move at 310% itself. This is great for those who don't like their current speedy ride and want something a bit more starry.

"This was supposed to be a limited item, but every player has one! I'm no longer a unique snowflake, QQ"
I never saw anything that said it was limited. Now, I *assumed* it was limited because there was a 'number in stock' listing when sitting in the checkout queue. However, a blue posted stating that the sparkle-pony was never intended to be a limited item and that if they ran out of stock, they simply needed to generate a new set of codes to add to the cart system. No big deal to me because I wanted it for looks, but a lot of folks seemed to be pissed because they thought it was going to be rare. Guess who assuming makes an ass out of?

Now, the first day, everyone with a sparkle-pony was out riding it. Today, I've seen a few but not as many, at least not on level 80s. I have seen a ton of alts with it, though, since it saves a bit of gold and, well, it's there!

And no, you are not a unique snowflake. You're gonna have to do more than sit in queue and give Blizz $25 to garner that sort of reputation. Try farming for the Time-Lost Proto Drake... heh.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Boosting for Dummies: Getting Started.

No, not cars.

Boosting is a form of multi-boxing. Sorta. It probably can not be considered true multi-boxing, but many multi-boxers use it to get their teams leveled quickly if their aim is to work on heroic/raid multi-boxing. Boosting is also a great way to level an army of alts. Or maybe it's more like a small contingent of alts.

I'm currently working with three accounts and am writing this from that perspective. However, this can be easily tweaked for two, four, or five accounts with probably no real changes aside from how you set up Recruit-A-Friend and whether or not to use Jamba if you're only dual-boxing.

What You Will Need

*A Booster
Look through your myriad of 80s and decide which toon will be the one to do the boosting. The best options for this are tanking classes however anything could potentially work, just not necessarily as quickly. I respecced Laurewen from Balance to Feral and threw her into her tanking gear (a mixture of heroic and emblem gear with some TOC and ICC cast-offs). I've heard that Protection Paladins and Blood Death Knights are really good, however Warriors have more trouble due to having significantly less self-healing. Be prepared for downtime.

Another possibility is a warlock; simply throw one or two DoTs on each mob, tabbing as you run. This will require a different strategy for pulling than a tank would utilize.

A freshly-pardoned Death Knight (~58) is a great booster for the 10-25 stuff, possibly even SM level. The more narrow level range will provide your boostees with more XP.

*Accounts
You're going to need an account for each toon you want to boost at a time. If you're boosting a pair, like I am, you'll need two more accounts. These accounts *must* be yours; don't borrow your friends' or significant other's as that constitutes account sharing and is against the Terms of Service. All accounts that you're multi-boxing with must be in your name. I haven't been reported for multi-boxing, but I know many who are and while multi-boxing your own accounts is fine, if they catch you sharing accounts you're in big trouble.

I'm assuming these accounts are going to be brand-new, which means you need...

*Software
I purchased two Battle Chests from a local GameStop who happened to be selling them for $20 each. This gave me access to space-cows and shamans. If you want to go on and get WotLK for each account as well, go for it, but it isn't necessary.

*Authenticator
Keep your accounts secure! If you aren't already using one, now's as good a time to get one as any.

*Multiplexor Software
This is what allows multi-boxers to, well, multi-box. The multiplexor allows a key press to be passed to multiple windows, so pressing 1 in you first WoW instance will send 1 to all of your WoW instances. For boosting, you don't need anything quite as sophisticated as a true multi-boxer does. I'm using Octopus which is a bit old but does the job.

*Jamba
Jamba is a WoW add-on that allows organization of your teams. With all of its sub-add-ons, it handles quests among your team members as well as allowing you to keep an eye on their XP/Rep/Health or whatever it is you want to watch. It can also pass whispers from your 'slaves' or boostees to your 'master' or booster so you know when someone has whispered one of your alts.

Setting it All Up
Same Battle.net or different Battle.net accounts?
This is really a pick-your-poison sort of situation. By leaving all of your accounts in one Battle.net account, you can share any account-bound perks, such as that new WoW pet they've announced for purchasing the Starcraft 2 Collector's Edition. However, by leaving them on three accounts, if one is compromised the other two are likely not to be (assuming different passwords, of course). Also, if you use them all on the same Battle.net account, you'll have to wait one minute between logging in each of them due to the Authenticator's wait time. If you use the same Authenticator on three different Battle.net accounts, you can simply copy and paste the Authentication Code into each window. I chose to go with the latter option, but ymmv.

Recruit-a-Friend (RaF)
You *really* want to do this. Triple XP and a once-an-hour summons makes boosting a breeze. Add in level-granting and it cuts the time you'll be boosting significantly. Making sure you have it set up properly is crucial or your alts can miss out on their bonuses.

The plan here is to maximize the benefits that you'll be able to gain through RaF by chain-linking your accounts. First, start with your current WoW account, the one with your 80 that will be doing the boosting. Then send yourself a RaF Trial invite! If you're going to use separate Battle.net accounts for each account, be sure to log out of Battle.net before clicking on the link in your e-mail. Once you've got that set up, verify that the RaF link is active and upgrade the trial account to a standard account with the WoW code that you purchased. Now that the second account is active, do the same thing as the first, sending yourself a RaF Trial invite. However be absolutely positive that you're doing this with your second account or the triple XP while boosting will not work!

To sum it up in short,
A->B->C
A recruits B who recruits C.

Next time: Setting up Jamaba, Octopus, and the Boosting method

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy Birthday in-Style: Realm First Lich King and Algolon.

I haven't posted in awhile... I'm sorry! I can explain! I've picked up a few new 'projects' in WoW that I've been working on that have been stealing a lot of my attention. This, however, is enough to warrant a new post (and, hopefully, a rebirth of the blog; but there's more to follow).

First off, Happy Birthday to Me! 25 years old as of yesterday (4/8) and nothing has changed except that I can finally tell people my age without having to think as hard. Anakha took me to dinner (Romano's) and a movie (How to Train Your Dragon) and we had a most awesome evening. But as much as I love my husband, I think the present from my guild was so much better (disclaimer: I have not yet been to see Cirque du Soliel, which is the gift from my husband, so this statement is up for contention come Sunday).
Earlier this week, we killed the Lich King.


I died, twice, during P3, a result of tunnel-vision and bad depth perception (really need to figure out a better way to handle my camera angles). What's great is that this was a realm first and, of course, a guild first so we're all really excited. Now, Nesingwary is like the 10th worst server progression-wise or something, so our realm first is kind of like winning the Special Olympics (no offense intended; I have known some amazing people who have participated in those!). But it still makes us swell with pride.

Well, since we extended our ID from last week to work on the kill, what were we supposed to do for the next two raid nights with no more ICC available for the week? Ironbound Proto-Drakes, of course! I was benched for the first portion of Ulduar but managed to clear a number of achievements last night from my list of remaining. We called raid while working on Firefighter with the plan of working on it tonight. Logged in late from my dinner and movie with Anakha to see 'Firefighter!' achievement spam, talk about awesome timing, haha. They downed the next boss (Vezzax or something) and then I was asked to come in on Algalon. Alga-who?

I've never done Ulduar until yesterday. Alright, the first couple bosses for weekly quests, sure, but nothing beyond that. Some of the fights are hella-awesome, but Algalon takes the cake. For one, it's beautiful. For two, the fight is rather simple but specific in its need for execution. For three, it's deadly. Even though we out-geared the fight, you could certainly see the lack of practice on the encounter with our numbers dead on each attempt. This boss, however, has only a 1 hour lifespan each week; once he despawns after that one hour, he's gone until reset. We vastly outgear the instance however and, even with a large number of casualties, at roughly 15 minutes remaining and our 6th or 7th pull, we downed him. And got a realm first achievement for it.


I was not aware that Realm-First Achievements spammed, well, the entire realm. It makes sense, I suppose, but it certainly garnered us some unwanted attention. Word is that /2 exploded immediately. Amherst said that he started receiving a number of congratulating whispers and even a Hordie hopped over to tell us congrats from their side of the realm. It was nuts! Pathoran won the roll on the quest item drop and we proceeded to the north bank to watch the in-game 'cut-scene'. Very, *very* cool. Oh, and the Celestial Defender title? Epic. Completely and totally epic.

The story of Ulduar itself was awesome, at least the pieces I was able to gather of it while in-raid this week. I'm excited to go back again soon; I have 6 more achievements needed to obtain my first 310% flying mount.

So what's next? Hard modes! And what appears to be some... friendly... competition.

There's a new guild on the block. They call themselves 'the <Solution> to Nessingwary's horrible progression', also known as <S>. The original members of this guild are transfers from another realm who came to Nessingwary and soon posted up a 'LFM' on the realm forum. Now, Nessingwary is rather small and it's really a more social server. Team Pro had been looking for more folks for their 25-man runs and now Solution was here looking for more for their own. I'm honestly not surprised the two merged; combining forces is in both their interests rather than fighting each other for raiding applicants. Team Pro was at 9 or 10/12 and Solution's transfer members were at 11/12 so they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Sadly, they drew some ill attention from the get-go, bashing the local guilds and their (lack-of) progression as well as making some rather large boasts, such as the fact that they were going to kill the Lich King their first week. When Satellite beat them to the punch, I think the world exploded (and I know the forum exploded; we weren't able to access it for awhile due to server issues on Blizzard's part). I received a hand-full of whispers congratulating us on obtaining the Lich King kill before Solution. Ouch. Then tonight I think we inadvertently stole Solution's thunder of their own Lich King kill when we downed Algalon. Maybe 'hate' is too strong a word, but I'm pretty sure they don't like us much right now. They've mentioned in their kill thread that the 'race for hardmodes is on', but I'm afraid that they're only going to be racing themselves.

Satellite is what I like to call a 'softcore' guild. We raid three nights a week, three hours each night, and are very flexible about AFKs, real life, etc. For all intents and purposes, we could be considered a 'social raiding guild'. What sets us apart, however, is a more 'hardcore' mindset. Our members are constantly re-gemming, re-speccing, working on rotations, researching and developing new strategies. We're raiders with lives. And thus I label us 'softcore'.

Now, we're excited about hardmodes, don't get me wrong. But I certainly see us working on a hard mode boss for awhile, trying some strategies, and then switching to normal mode if we start getting frustrated so that we can move on. Hardcore guilds, which Solution claims to be (I have no first-hand knowledge as I have never been a member, so 'claiming' it is not a bad thing, I only know what I hear them say), will likely focus most, if not all, of their time on getting as many of those bosses down as possible. Neither method is right or wrong, but I am quite certain that they will quickly pass us by when it comes to hard mode progression.

This, honestly, I think is a good thing. During my time here, Satellite has been a fairly quiet guild. We goof off and are noisy at each other, but we tend to stay out of /2 and off of the forums and have kept to ourselves. Now we've suddenly been thrust into the limelight and, to be honest, it makes me a little uncomfortable. However, the amount of support that we've received from the realm has been amazing; it's really given me the warm-fuzzies seeing folks stick up for us in /2 and on the forums. I see Nessingwary as a community. Maybe a dysfunctional one, but a community nonetheless.

Grats to all of Satellite for progression that I think surprised even us, to all of Solution for their Lich King kill, and to Nessingwary for being a great little realm.

----------

In other news, I've added a few things to my plate in-game.

The first is gaining gold. Raiding can be pretty expensive and I never really had the mind to do daily quests for gold. Finally sick and tired of having only a couple hundred gold to my name, I decided to do something about it.

I've turned my 'Halp!' post on a WoW economy forum into something of a blog of my activities for awhile; it's time to put it here where it belongs. Expect to see more posts regarding what I'm doing, what is working and what isn't, and the general state of Nesingwary's economy. And no, I'm not telling you my bank-toons names. :)

The second thing I've been working on is multi-boxing. So far I've been struggling with true multi-boxing and have just been using Laurewen to boost lowbies on the other accounts to 60 with the Recruit-a-Friend XP bonus. However, once I've gotten my army of level 60s, I'll be trying my hand at true multi-boxing to see how well I can get it to work. Expect future blog posts regarding what I'm doing and how things are going.

Cheers!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

FML.

So, I think I may have just purchased a mess of materials from someone who was hacked. :/

It started out well-and-good; someone selling some Ametrines and Cardinal Rubies for a good price (100g each and 140g each respectively) in /2. I see the price he listed often enough, especially this time of the morning, so I asked him how many and then if he'd wait for me to flip the gold over from my bank. Gave him a few seconds, no response, flipped the gold, and he told me to meet him in SW. I'm heading that way when he posted Frozen Orbs in /2 for a good price (100g for 10) as well. So I told him I'd buy those too. I buy the gems, then ask if he still has the orbs, and as he trades he puts in a Solid Stormjewel and asks if I'm interested for 100g more. Anakha'll use it, so sure, why not? I figure the guy is cleaning out his bank, since I saw him list a piece of Soulcloth for sale as well.

I get ready to whisper a thank you when he opens trade again and inserts the following:

Eternal Air x5
Eternal Shadow x14
Eternal Earth x39
The piece of Spellweave he had listed
Eternal Water x4

and says all of it for 200g. Man, he must really be cleaning out his bank, right? I do a quick glance through Auctioneer's market values and it's certainly below market and looks like a good deal, maybe he just wants it all gone, so I buy it.

Then he does it again! This time with a more myriad mix of stuff from a Titansteel Bar to Eternal Fire to Siren's Tears. 300g for this batch. At this point I'm suspicious.

Laurewen whispers: I'll buy your gems. How many of each do you have?
Bob whispers: [Cardinal Ruby]x2 [Ametrine]x4
Laurewen whispers: Kk. Need to flip some gold over real quick from my bank. Back in 3 minutes.
Laurewen whispers: But I'll take all of them. :)
Laurewen whispers: Where should I meet you?
Bob whispers: sw bank
Laurewen whispers: Enroute.
Laurewen whispers: Haha, I'll buy your orbs, too. :p What else are you selling?
Laurewen whispers: Ready when you are.
Laurewen whispers: Still have your frozen orbs?
Bob whispers: [Solid Stormjewel]100g need?
Laurewen whispers: Sure, husband can use it.
Bob whispers: all 200g
Laurewen whispers: Cleaning out your bank? :)
Laurewen whispers: I reckon guildies can use.
Laurewen whispers: No space, one sec.
Laurewen whispers: Let's try that again. :)
Bob whispers: 300g
Laurewen whispers: You're not hacked or anything, are you?
Bob whispers: yes do u need?
Laurewen whispers: Yes you are hacked? I'm confused.
Bob whispers: lol
Bob whispers: 300g
Laurewen whispers: Wait, need more space.
Laurewen whispers: Sorry, wrong button.
Laurewen whispers: Mm, thanks? :)
Bob whispers: good luck


I didn't have solid proof since I've had much more stupid responses to 'are you hacked?' questions and I've gotten some good deals with folks cleaning crap out... better to ask forgiveness than permission, right? He then just flat-out gave me 2 Jormungar Leg Armor and 4 Dream Shards. I opened a ticket just to be safe and sent a whisper to one of his guildmates asking if the individual had been acting strange and voicing my concern that the individual might have been hacked. The guildmate didn't ever respond to me, but the plot thickens.

At this point, I try to find the guy. When I'd inspected him earlier, he had a mix of blues and purples, ~200-226 range with rare gems and medium-range enchants. I find him again, not only next to the guild vaults in SW (red flag!) but he has no pants on. O.o Everything that could be sold was gone; all that was left was old T7/8 gear. He was no longer guilded as well. Not sure if it was by his own choice or the guildmate took the chance and kicked... all speculation. But now I'm worried. ><

I'm really hoping this was just a case of the person wanting to delete the toon or quit the game and emptying house but after seeing him pantsless at the guild vault, I worry... I've heard accounts of those who have bought from hacked individuals getting banned due to being flagged as an accomplice.

I've already received a response from a GM (20 minute wait, when the standard queue is about 48 hours; I feel special). It was canned, but considering the queue time I don't mind. Basically said that they were forwarding everything to their Investigation team. I wish I could copy/paste the response into here, but WoW's text is lame like that; I'll see if they sent me an e-mail version as well. My biggest hope is that the guy wasn't hacked and I just got an awesome deal. If he was hacked, I hope that they don't throw the ban-hammer at me as well for buying from a hacked account. If anything my reactive response to the situation by flagging a GM hopefully helps my case.

In the meantime, I have tons to post about, like our first guild Lich King kill! You are reading posts by Laurewen the Kingslayer, woohoo! ^^ I've been strung out on Vicoden for the past week (go go teeth removal) so I'll play ketchup soon, honest.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Satellite gets Nesingwary First Blood Queen Kill

Hells yeah for us! Go Team Jacob!





We then managed to save Dreamwalker which, while not a server or even faction first, combined makes us #1 on the server for progression.



One of our 10-mans has reached Arthas and will hopefully down him this weekend, unlocking hard modes for us.

I'm actually quite excited. When I apped with Satellite, I was expecting to be benched for a few months at least while I got geared and experienced... and just a bit over a month later I'm aiding in Guild and Server firsts. WoW-Life is good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Epic Cuteness.














Gryphon Hatchling VS Wind Rider Cub
(Images are pulled from Blizzard's Store and belong to them.)

With all of the fresh news regarding patch 3.3.3 (sorry to those of you who have been vendoring your Frozen Orbs) and the upcoming pre-Cataclysm events, I've been spending more time at MMO-Champion. Yesterday morning I checked in to see what the new news was and was suddenly overcome by epic cuteness. In the same vein as their Murloc stuffed toy, Blizzard has expanded their plushie line with the Gryphon Hatchling and the Wind Rider Cub. Not only do you get some awfully cuddly cuteness, each of the plushies has a code that provides you with a matching in-game pet. Awwwwwwww!

Of course, I instantly went to Anakha and made sad kitty eyes. He hasn't ordered mine yet, but I must have them, dammit!

Is it just me, or is the Wind Rider Cub infinitely more cute than the Gryphon Hatchling? I've always thought that the Horde Wind Riders were much more unique than the Alliance Gryphons and these stuffies continue to echo that in my mind. I've only ever seriously played Alliance characters, but the Wind Riders alone would be enough to go Horde on a permanent basis--so long as I can ignore every Forsaken (Undead) I happen to see.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Drama: Hiding in Plain Sight.

There is absolutely no way to avoid drama. Thirty different people have thirty different opinions, priorities, play styles--the list goes on. Pleasing one person is going to piss off at least one other and vice-versa. Any guild that says they are drama-free is full of it and any person who says they're drama-free is lying. Some guilds handle drama better than others, just as some players do, but to say that either has neither is a flat-out fallacy.

Most of the drama I've experienced has dealt with loot and/or raiding. Now, the two tend to go hand-in-hand: when you raid you get loot and you need loot to better yourself to further your raiding. Most guilds handle loot drama through a priority system of some sort, usually combined with some sort of metric to balance the amount of effort someone has put out with the amount of gear they receive. No system is perfect, which accounts for the variety of them out there, but some handle certain situations better than others. Outside of guilds, you're at the mercy of the raid Master Looter.

I've been told that I'm far too optimistic--perhaps that is the case. When I walk into a PuG raid, I generally assume on-spec before off-spec, pass if you've already won something, be courteous, loot the stupid puppy so someone can skin him, and if something extremely rare drops everyone currently eligible for the item gets a roll. It seems that these rules, though common sense, don't apply to every raid. And, even when they do, it can still cause drama.

Alliance actually had Wintergrasp and a guildmate put together a VoA 25 run. We filled a number of the slots with mains and alts from our guild and PuGed the rest. The question was asked what the loot rules were and the response was "MS OS" (for those not used to the shorthand of lazy people, it implies that Main Specs have priority over Off Specs). The fight was ugly but we killed our boss on the second try. A rogue piece drops, a priest piece (too bad the only priest in the group dropped after the first wipe), and some leather PvP bracers. Only one rogue in the raid so he gets the rogue piece, then the bracers are rolled for. Now, I'd never really dealt with PvP gear drops before. They generally are not very good for PvE and the guild policy has been that all interested people can roll on PvP gear. The bracers are actually a best-in-slot item for the feral tanking kit I've been working on. The rogue has rolled a 95 and my chance of winning is slim, so I roll and get second highest at 68 or somesuch. The raid-leader states that since the rogue already won a piece, it's going to the next person and I now have a pair of leather PvP feral bracers in my inventory.

Queue tell-hell.

If I'd actually thought I'd win, I'd never have rolled; while guildies would understand (and many said that I deserved them), PuGs certainly would not. "But they're a healer?" was mentioned in raid chat right as I received a whisper from both the rogue and a feral cat druid who had been the third-highest /roll. As I'm receiving these tells, the decision is made to go kill another boss and as one of only 4 healers I'm racing off to keep the tank out of that laying-on-the-ground-motionless state.

Long story short, the rogue offers me gold for the bracers and the druid asks for them because feral is his main spec and then says it's 'really shitty of me' since I 'only have 1000 kills' for PvP. Considering I'd only started PvPing casually about a week before, I was pretty proud of those kills. That and I hadn't responded to either because I'm trying to keep people from dealing with more repair bills.

I could have said fsck them all and kept the bracers, saving me 45k honor that could have gone to my cloak instead. No, instead I did the noble thing and gave them away. Not to the rogue, since he'd already won an item, but to the druid after demanding an apology. I haven't been yelled at on the realm forums so I guess I did the right thing. I'll never /roll on PvP gear that isn't caster related outside of a guild-only run again.

World of Warcraft, Tabletop Style.

I run a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons game twice a month for a group of teenager at a local gaming store. The kids are a hoot, though they scare me sometimes, and it allows me to keep from getting too rusty in my DMing since my Friday night game has fallen apart as it always tends to this close to Finals Week. The gaming store is much smaller than my original haunt just outside of downtown, so we're usually rubbing elbows with the Warhammer players but the store owner is a great guy who really loves running his shop.

Now, I own a metric ass-ton of D&D books as well as some non D&D rulesets. However, as said before, I'm a sucker for a sale and I'm also constantly on the lookout for something new and fun. So, browsing through his discount bin, lo and behold, I find a copy of the World of Warcraft Roleplaying Guide.

The front cover is almost torn off; seems someone knocked over his book display case and this one got the worst of the damage. The publisher wouldn't take it back so he was stuck selling at a discount. I like Ron, but his loss is my gain. Rather than the $40 cover price, I grabbed this puppy for $10 and with some laminate, it will be as good as new.

The ruleset is based on 3.5 and WotC's Open Gaming License, though it's actually branded Swords and Sorcery (a sort of sub-ruleset/campaign setting). Constitution is changed to Stamina, Dexterity is changed to Agility, priests and mages still get spell slots, Goblins are a playable neutral race, and there are new Technological Devices that can explode in spectacular ways. Space Cows and Gender-Confused Elves need not apply--the story thus far is only up to WoW's initial release and really only includes that content. Of interest is that in their descriptions of lands and the cosmology, they specifically mention Outland (expansion) and Icecrown (expansion), as well as the Emerald Dream. I know Cataclysm is having the world explode in spectacular ways, but if the ultimate plan is to hit level 100 and we're now down to 5 levels per expansion, there's plenty of room to fit the Emerald Dream in there somewhere.

I haven't gotten too far into the reading, mostly it's been glancing at all of the cool stuff like Jumper Cables and seeing how they work in a table-top setting. Chances of finding a group of people who actually want to sit down and play are probably as good as finding a group for Shadowrun but it's certainly a good read and nice to see not just in-game art within its pages. If you manage to find a $10 damaged copy, snag it for sure. If it's face-value... well, I'm not telling you how to spend your money.

Gearing Up, Redux.

Holynub demands I update, so here I am.

Actually, I've been fighting a case of the blahs and just thinking about typing a blog made my head hurt. I'm back now, with quite a few updates so enjoy the chain postings.

Part one of this two-part series discussed the core components that I decided on for my new gaming machine. Those were the meat-and-potatoes pieces, the rest here is gravy.

Power Supply: Thermaltake W0319RU 850W Modular Power Supply
Alright, so the power supply is actually a meat-and-potatoes part. Making sure that you're going to have enough power on the rails for your graphics card(s) and that there is enough wattage being sent out in general is very important. With my plans to upgrade with a second card in Crossfire in the future, I knew I needed a power supply with enough oomph to handle the both of them in addition to all of the other pieces in my box. I also wanted to get rid of the unsightly and airflow-interfering cable mess that was so common in PCs I'd built in the past so I knew I wanted modular. The problem with modular power supplies is that there is certainly an extra cost for the ability to only utilize what you need. If it weren't for my plans to add in the second card, I could likely have gotten by with only a 650W power supply. Better to pay a little extra up-front than to replace the entire thing later.

Case: Cooler Master CM690 II Advanced Mid-Tower Case
Alright, this case is sexy. It was also significantly more than I planned to pay for a computer case, but Anakha gave me his blessing to spend the extra on it. I was actually eying its little sister, the CM690 II Basic, but it hadn't released yet and I'm impatient. What I learned after having received this case is that it's the big brother to Anakha's. There's plenty of space for long graphics cards, the width is more than enough for my over-sized CPU cooler to clear, and the number of fan options is just sexy. Luckily it comes with filters that rest on the inside of all of the mesh of the case or it'd be one huge furball. My only actual complaint with my case is that LCDs in the front fan do not seem to be working. I could have mis-wired something, but I actually prefer it without that light.

Monitor: Hanns-G HH-251HPB 24.6" 1080p
Anakha's combined Birthday/Christmas present two years ago was a 1080p monitor for his computer. He was, of course, in love with it. Thus when it was my turn for a monitor, he was insistent that I pick up a 1080p myself. I'm not generally a fan of more window space; I prefer to have everything in one small area that is easy to maneuver around. However, I'm a sucker for sales as well and when I found this beauty for $180 I was sold. No dead pixels and HDMI make me a happy camper. It does have an annoying syncing problem whenever there is a resolution change of some sort; I've been told it's probably my cable and have yet to test it, just be aware. Turning the monitor off and on again causes it to resync and I can continue on from there.

Headset: Sennheiser PC161
I'm not an audiophile, not even close. I actually have pretty terrible hearing overall and wouldn't notice the difference between 28kbps and 192kbps unless you told me there was a difference. I do, however, want to be able to hear my instructions on Vent clearly, without popping and crackling, and I wanted the music in-game to sound nice, even if at horrible bit-rates. With three hour raids, plus usually 5/10-man Vent discussions going for however long, I needed something comfortable as well. I noticed that the Sennheiser headsets were performing quite well in reviews, specifically the PC 350, but a $200+ price tag was more than I really wanted when, quite frankly, I'd never really notice the difference. A guildmate asked for a headset suggestion as well, and the PC161 was one of those mentioned. I love these things. They're extremely comfortable, lightweight, and sound great. I have had no complaints that folks can hear me over Vent and when I hear myself loopback, it sounds crystal clear.

Mouse: Microsoft Sidewinder X5 Mouse
I owned a Logitech laser mouse once upon a time, the kind with the weights that you could manipulate for different feels. It was certainly aimed more at an FPSer and I never changed the weights after distributing some through it the first time. This time, I decided I wanted a mouse with more buttons. It was while the mouse was enroute that I discovered how much easier talking on Vent was when my push-to-talk button was on the side of my mouse rather than my 'z' key (what I normally use for Vent) so it must have been some sort of foresight that caused me to buy this one.

Biggest issue for me was that it was advertised as being a 9-button mouse; three of those buttons are actually triggers for DPI settings, so it's more a 6-button mouse, with one button being highly non-useful since it's under the heel of your hand most of the time. Having two thumb buttons is great, however; the top one is my Vent push-to-talk and the bottom is mapped to be my 'Alt' key for macros. This mouse has significantly helped my playing just by not having to stretch my hand across the keyboard for macros. I still occasionally realize I'm pressing the alt-button rather than the push-to-talk button and haven't actually told anyone that my Rebirth is available again.

Keyboard: Saitek Eclipse II
Alright, this one I didn't buy. Anakha was actually using it but had complained he didn't like it, so I planned to take it back so he could buy some Microsoft keyboard or whatever he wanted. Ends up he liked this keyboard after all and is now using a cheap big-box-store keyboard until he chooses one he really wants.

First of all, this thing glows in the dark. I don't type home-row; never have, never will (if you care, I learned to type while playing MUDs and thus learned to type kill orc as quickly as possible). While in general my WPM and accuracy are pretty good, sometimes I will find myself 'lost' because I don't have a place that I return to by default. At those times, I have to take a quick second to glance down at the keyboard and re-orientate myself. And, of course, as a geek I hate light and revere the dark, making it hard to see where I'm supposed to be going on the keyboard when there is no light. The back-lighting on this thing has helped significantly in that aspect. That and it has purple as a color option. What's not to love?

The keys are nice and crisp and have a good feel to them; they spring right back up and don't 'clack' so noisily it's distracting. The layout is normal for a keyboard and all of the media-control keys are grouped up nicely in the top-right corner. With black and silver colouring, it's simple and elegant with that added bling. I'm in love with this keyboard and I'm happy to say that many seem to prefer the Eclipse II to its big brother, the Eclipse III.

Game Pad: Belkin n52te (Nostromo Tournament Edition)
How people layout their keybindings has always interested me. With my layout, I had found that there just did not seem to be enough keys within easy reach for all of the abilities that I needed or wanted to use. I originally thought about snagging one of those Logitech G15/19 keyboards but I'm so in love with my Eclipse II that I just couldn't give it up (again). I'd been reading through the Resto4Life blog and had seen the review and configuration tutorial for the Belkin n52te and thought, "Wow... that's exactly what I'm looking for!" So, added to cart (on sale for bonus points) and when it arrived I was disappointed to find that it was most certainly created with larger hands in mind. Even altering the angle of the hand-wrest just could not provide me with a comfortable position where I could actually reach all of the keys without having to stretch or move my entire hand (which is what I bought this thing to avoid in the first place). Controlling movement with the thumbstick (or D-pad since the thumbstick could be removed) was awkward at best and after a couple of days of trying to get used to it (after a few hours of configuring the damned thing), I gave up. This accessory is not for the feint of heart. If you have larger hands and are great at fine-tuned movement with your thumbs (all of you XBox 360 and PS3 FPS players), you'll love this thing. For me, it wasn't such a great buy.

If you're interested, I have one new in box that I'm willing to sell or trade.

For a bit more information, I'm running windows 7 Enterprise 64-bit and the ATI Catalyst drivers are a huge load of suck. I've been crashing with vertical bars at least once ever two days. Rolling back to a previous driver seemed to solve the vertical bar problem but caused many of my games to glitch graphically. Seems ATI is 'aware of the problem' and is working on it.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Gearing Up.

When I originally left WoW, I had a pretty good little desktop. Self-built, I had chosen components carefully to allow for upgrades, like SLI and extra memory. But WoW was the main resource hog that I had been playing, and I now had a fairly powerful box for games like Evil Genius and Fallout 2. When my now-husband moved in as a roommate, two PCs and desks and chairs just took up too much space. His place of work provided him with a laptop so I inherited his, which was perfect for what I was doing at the time, and shipped my desktop to the other side of the country for my little brother to use for his own WoW obsession.

On my initial return to WoW, I was still using this laptop. Even at minimum settings, I was running a lovely 18 FPS in deserted areas. Halls of Reflection waves caused my FPS to drop to about 2 unless I stuck myself close to a corner and kept my camera pointed there, which I could do as a healer.

Even before returning to WoW, I'd begun getting into games that the laptop just couldn't handle. I wanted a copy of Fallout 3 for the PC so I could have access to mods. Borderlands was making me drool, and while I could play Oblivion on my laptop at minimum settings, it looked like garbage and was extremely choppy. With the windfall of some cash that I'd lent being paid back (thanks Mom!), I had a reasonable starting point for a new desktop. With the good graces of the husband and the promise that he could upgrade his desktop next year, I got to work on piecing out a new machine.

Below are my specs, why I chose what I did, and some information about where I aim to upgrade in the future. Maybe some folks will find this information useful for their own building purposes in the near future. Keep in mind that I had not built a computer in over three years and had to relearn a lot of new technology in order to put this baby together.

My budget was $1500 and I certainly went over, but not by much. I am not an overclocker by default, but my purchases were made with the intention of doing some small overclocks within my comfort range of not exploding my PC.

CPU: Intel i7 860
I was more than happy to go with an i5 750 but my husband, being the Intel fanboy he is, suggested I look at an i7. The default to look at, of course, were the new 1366 form-factor chips, but many reviews were not impressed with the difference between triple-channel and dual-channel memory. The i7 870, while being an 1136 form-factor, received extremely strong marks, had the hyper-threading that the husband insisted I get, and had some amazing overclocking capabilities once Turbo mode was turned off. The price was a little much for my budget, but it's little brother the i7 860, certainly fit my range and the only real difference was a slightly lower clock speed. Word is that this baby can overclock to 4.0 GHz with air-cooling alone.

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
I've never had any faith in stock heatsink/fan combos. My last desktop had one of the huge copper Zalman coolers which worked quite well but I'm a bit of a snoot in saying that I like my case colors to meld and copper wasn't doing it for me. The price tag also tended to make me cringe a bit. The Hyper 212 received some rave reviews and was silver/black, a good neutral color combo. A word to the wise: This thing has a massive amount of height! Be sure you have a case with enough depth that you'll be able to put the side cover on it. Sitting here typing up this blog, the CPU is only hitting 15C! I haven't checked it during/after a huge WoW marathon, but so far I'm very impressed.

Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
I knew I needed an 1136 form-factor motherboard, and two kept coming up time after time: The Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P and the ASUS P7P55D-E Pro. The main differences between the two boards is how they handle SATA3 and USB 3.0. The Gigabyte utilizes one of the PCIe 16x paths in order to power the controller, while ASUS created their own extra controller that allowed these two technologies to not have to steal from the rest of the board. When two PCIe 8x graphics cards are used in SLI/Crossfire on the Gigabyte board, SATA3 and USB 3.0 devices get rate-limited back to their version 2 counterparts because that extra path is no longer available. The ASUS does not have this problem. Now, I wasn't sure if I was going to run a single graphics card for now or if I'd go on and splurge for Crossfire, but in the future Crossfire was certainly the plan. Losing the new technologies for the sake of Crossfire was not high on my list so, even though the Gigabyte board is slightly cheaper, the ASUS won in the end.

Memory: G.Skill ECO Series 2x2GB DDR3 1600
The i7 860 can only really handle up to DDR3 1333 out of the box. However, with my hope to play with overclocking, DDR3 1600 open up the possibility for some better speeds. G.Skill's ECO line seems to be the latest craze in memory, and it's no surprise: rather than the industry standard of 1.65v, the ECO series boasts 1.35v with some fairly tight timings. My biggest concern was whether or not the ASUS motherboard could manage to lower its voltages that low, and reviews stated it could. Even better is that there is an XMP profile built onto this memory so loading the timings and voltage in my BIOS couldn't have been easier. My hope now is that two years down the road when I can upgrade a sister pair will be available so I can utilize all four channels on my motherboard.

Graphics: HIS ATI Radeon HD 5850 1GB
I spent hours trying to decide on a graphics card. I read multiple reviews, checked many comparisons on well-known sites, and still the debate continued. I finally decided to get the best single card I could for my budget with the plan to upgrade in two years by obtaining a second one and setting up Crossfire. At ~$290, the above was what I finally settled on. Another contender was the 4750, but with the smaller voltage drain and DX11 compatibility out-of-the-box, the 5850 won in the end.

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar 500GB 7200RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
This one really didn't have much contest. I've always been a fan of Western Digital's Caviar line of drives. They've served me well for years and I am most certainly a happy repeat customer. 500GB should last me for a good long while and while 7200RPM is nothing spectacular, it works for what I need. In the future I might grab one of those new SATA3 6.0Gb/s drives with 10TB of data or whatever, but the cost of either of those is more than I'm willing to shell out at this time.

Optical Drive: Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable
I paid an extra dollar for the Sony brand and 2x more read speeds on CDs and DVDs. I rarely burn media, so I'm not really picky as far as my optical drive so long as it doesn't grind or click. This one runs quite nicely.

I'll be back later with the rest of my components.