Archive for November, 2008

Oblivious to the Irony

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , on November 30, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Predatore the Death Knight rides atop his ghastly steed. There is no emotion in his glowing blue eyes nor in his empty soul. Every ounce of this being is defined by the destruction that he deals; the carnage that he brings. He gallops across an empty field. His next victims are taking the last breaths of their lives. They just don’t know it yet. Everything in his field of view narrows to throbbing shades of blood red as tunnel vision sets in. Nothing stands between him and his next kill except a patch of land that shrinks with every stride of his mount. He glances to the left to ensure that his murderous rampage will be a solo affair. He glances to the right and fixes his gaze on an object sparkling a few yards away. “Oooh! Purple Lotus!”  He yanks hard on the reins, bringing his steed to a screeching halt. He dismounts and hustles over to the bloom, plucks it from the earth, and carefully tucks it into his backpack. He giggles to himself as he summons his Deathcharger and thinks about the glyph he’s going to make when he mills a few more of those Purple Lotus blooms first into pigment, then into ink. A grizzly scene, right?

It’s not every day that you hear about a mass murderer who enjoyed quilting. The Associated Press rarely break stories about suicide bombers who did a little scrapbooking in their free time. Why? Because killing people en masse isn’t really conducive to crafty hobbies. But when we hear about a Death Knight Herbalist or a Warlock Tailor, we don’t bat an eye. Think about that for a second. Borne of the undead and created for destruction, the Death Knight is a killing machine by design. Yet none of us has any problem with the irony involved. Nice.

The old flower-gatherer has his Herbalism up to 300, but he got writer’s cramp and took a break from Inscription at 215. The fundamental problem with leveling both professions from the ground up is that Herbalism levels so much quicker than Inscription. Predatore can currently be found galloping about Swamp of Sorrows, searching for any plants that mill to Violet Pigment. All of these herbs have already faded to grey on the Herbalism side, but I need enough to make another 35 Celestial Ink before I can move onto the next zone. I’m getting really anxious to get Inscription up to 300 so I can resume leveling Predatore himself in Hellfire Peninsula. As it stands, Devv has been footing the bill for all of the parchment and training, but the old girl is down to about 150G. If Predatore can’t start paying the bills soon, every toon on the roster is going to be broke. Nothing like a menacing, murderous Death Knight who depends on his sugar momma to send him money so he can learn how to pick flowers and write letters.

The Philosophy of Sidegrades and Cow-Punching Noobtards

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , on November 26, 2008 by Mark Pannell

A few days ago, Vonya over at The Egotistical Priest wrote an interesting post about the idea of upgrades in Northrend. As a relatively seasoned raider, her PvE purples outshined anything that I’ve ever equipped. But the point she made even applies to less seasoned players like me. Some of these alleged “upgrades” that we were promised in the brave new world seem more like sidegrades. If you’ve read more than a post or two on this here blog, you know that I did just about zero endgame raiding at 70. So my purples were a mix of welfare epics and world event epics. Either way, the stats were as impressive as anything I could have acquired given my complete lack of raiding experience. I assumed that as I headed into the frozen continent to the north, I’d be picking up greens with stats so mind-blowing that I’d vendor my Merciless Gladiator gear and never look back. Not so fast.

What I’m finding, just as Vonya found, is that most of the new goodies are “sidegrades” at best. Note to… well, you guys: all credit for the term “sidegrade” goes to Vonya. Just so we’re clear. Back to the diatribe. As a Fire Mage, I loves me some Intellect, Stamina, Spell Power, Crit, etc. When one of these new-fangled antarctic armor pieces drops, it may give 20 more Stamina than the piece I have equipped, but it’s at the expense of 15 Spell Power. The really tough choices are the ones where I’d gain about 40 of one stat, but dump a ton of another in its place. Bah!

Hopefully you’ve all read Vonya’s post by now. If not, this paragraph will be a spoiler. In the end, she makes the decision to go ahead and equip the sidegrades. After all, we’ll eventually be replacing every piece of our 70 gear anyhow. Plus, if Blizzard thinks that I suddenly need a ton of Haste rating, who am I to argue with them? But it brings another issue of mine into the spotlight. Maybe it’s not all about the stats for me. I think the second half of the equation is the negative stigma associated with wearing greens again. As a late bloomer, I was proud to have finally worked my way into mostly purples with some blues. I never had to go through this at level 60 because I was already in Outlands by then. So when I dinged 70, I started accumulating some purples and equipping them with a quickness. For once, I wasn’t embarrassed to be strolling around Shattrath.

Let me go ahead and tell you a seemingly unrelated story that will make more sense when I tie it all together in the end. Why? Because I love when writers do that and I don’t have the tact to do it without holding up a huge banner that says, “Check this out This is some quality writin’s right here!” Ya know what? If I eliminated all of the unnecessary banter from my posts, I could probably host this blog on Twitter. Back to your regularly scheduled ramblings.

Earlier this year, a co-worker friend of mine took up WoW. He rolled a Human Warrior and quickly made his way to level 5. From 5 to 10, he slowed down a bit. I don’t mean  that he slowed down due to the increased XP required to level. I mean it seemed like it took far too long for him to ding 10. Then, getting from 10 to 20 was an absolutely ridiculous amount of time, even for a new player. A few of his friends and I started asking him investigative questions in an attempt help him figure out what he was doing wrong. But we couldn’t get a feel for what was holding him up. Finally, we all partied up to help him level a bit. We stopped off at an armor merchant in Ironforge to get repairs before heading out. A friend asked him if he needed repairs. He replied, “Repairs? What do you mean?” Mystery solved.

Turns out, our pal had no idea that he needed to repair his items from time to time. He just ran around killing mobs until either the durability of his weapon hit zero or a new one dropped for him. If the former happened, he started punching critters for XP since he could no longer take on mobs of the same level without a weapon. If you beat enough cows to death, they’re eventually gonna give you a world drop sword. I’m not even kidding here.

What’s the point of my story? Putting on greens again makes me feel like a cow-punching noobtard. I just have a hard time stripping off purples to equip greens. As a player who started post-BC, I never had the experience of replacing Old World epics for Outlands greens. For seasoned veterans, my argument probably seems ridiculous. And when the next expansion drops, it will probably seem ridiculous to me too. But if you happen to be playing on Silvermoon Alliance side and see a Draenei Mage standing out in the middle of the Borean Tundra with the telltale <AFK> lingering above her head, leave me alone. I’m thinking.

What I’ve Learned as a Low Level Hunter

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Every class in WoW is unique. Aside from Devv, I’ve never leveled beyond 21. When I decided to level a second toon all the way to endgame, I knew that there would be challenges. I have friends who have leveled every class to 70 in the years that they’ve played this game. The biggest eye-opener for me has been just how different classes are even at low levels. From 1 to 5, there’s so little variation in play that Blizzard could pretty much just give us a tap-in at this point. But even as early as 10, the mechanics of the game change drastically from class to class. As of this writing, Arpeggio and his trusty sidekick Allegro are both about 50% of the way through level 14. Here’s what I’m discovering as a Fire Mage in Hunter’s clothing.

  1. It’s easy to get cocky. Devv has been a Fire Mage since she was 10. I never experienced the wonders of grinding with Frost Nova and Blizzard. As such, I never got in over my head unless I made a bad pull. But a Hunter is an entirely different story. A Hunter is a ranged DPS maestro with better armor than a Mage and a furry little friend tanking for him. Second verse, same as the first. It’s easy to get cocky. Doing a little questing in Loch Modan, I died a bunch. I would round up three mobs that were a couple levels higher than me and grind away. But when a wandering mob stumbled upon us, we were doomed.
  2. Buffs? What buffs? Unlike a Mage, there aren’t an ass-ton of buffs to throw up before marching into battle. I’m so used to the ritual of Conjure Food, Conjure Water, Conjure Mana Gem, self-cast Arcane Intellect, Molten Armor, and Evocation to replenish all that mana. When I log into Arpeggio, it blows my mind that my man is ready to go right out of the gate. A quick whistle for Allegro and we’re in business. The downside is that I frequently forget to throw up my Aspect of the Whatever when I resurrect.
  3. Ranged weapons run out of ammo. Pretty basic, I know. But I’m so used to spells which are only dependant upon mana that I completely forget to check the ol’ ammo bag before running into the thick of things. Earlier today, I put up a Hunter’s Mark on a mob and sent Allegro into the mix. He immediately picked up two adds. I drew my rifle and… *click*. OK, so it  doesn’t actually make a “click” sound. But you get the point. Nothing. No ammo. And Arpeggio hadn’t even acquired the Heal Pet ability yet. Allegro was quickly set to Passive and Follow and we hauled ass for the horizon. We didn’t quite make it. Lesson learned.
  4. Bag space is an issue.With an entire bag slot devoted to either an ammo pouch or a quiver, bag space becomes a problem for Hunters very early on. Arpeggio’s sugar momma hooked him up with three Imbued Netherweave Bags and he still gets pretty full after questing for a while. In addition to the hijacked bag slot, Hunters have to carry enough food and water for themselves and their pet. That’s like a double whammy. Throw a gathering profession into the mix and bank alt becomes a necessity very quickly.

Once the duo crack 20, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts to share. Kaddisfly and Kittiesfly got to 19 as slowlyas possible. The experience of “leveling” them hardly gave me an accurate view of what playing a Hunter would be like. I’m looking forward to experiencing the subtle nuances of the class the same way I learned how to play a Mage from the ground up. On a completely unrelated sidenote, Devv is now 3700 away from being Exalted with Gnomeregan Exiles. Gnomer will complete the full compliment of home factions and with it, the “Ambassador” title. It’s been a grind to say the least. I’m of the opinion that if you get to Exalted with Gnomer alone, you should get a title. Something like “Runecloth Grinder” would be appropriate.

How to Level to 80 Quickly in World of Warcraft

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Don’t do what I’m doing. Seriously. OK, I’ll admit it. The title was a cheap trick to see how much search engine traffic I could grab from people too lazy to download QuestHelper or Carbonite, which is technically lazy to begin with. By now, I’m sure most of those poor misled individuals have stopped reading, so back to my small group of dedicated readers.

Devv is only halfway through level 71. Predatore is still stuck at 58. And Arpeggio is up to level 10 now. Wait. Who? Yeah. I know. Of all the things I could have done to make best use of the forty bucks I dropped on Wrath, I’m leveling a new alt; a Dwarf Hunter, to be exact. Arpeggio has been stuck at level 5 ever since Kaddisfly prompted me to create a Hunter to level. I knocked out the quick quests to get from level 1 to 5, then let him sit in Coldridge Valley for several weeks.

The Hunter class is at its most boring from levels 5 to 10. Up to level 5, you almost level just from walking into a new zone. After level 10, you have a pet to keep you company and to do most of the grunt work for you. But the grind from 5 to 10 is unbearably slow and boring. For starters, you’re knee-deep in melee combat. Beyond level 10, a Hunter should never be getting involved in melee combat unless they’re getting themselves out of a bad situation. Oh sure, you can open with a Viper Sting, throw in an Arcane Shot and try to kite Auto-Shot until the mob drops. But the sad reality is that at some point, you’ll be face-to-face with any mob that’s within a level or two of your own. Even Raptor Strike seems to be more about Blizzard showcasing a cool little animation than the damage it actually deals. It’s not until you acquire Concussive Shot that you can finish an entire one-on-one fight ranged. But the key words here are “one-on-one” If you get adds, you’re still playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots with the cuddly critters and humanoids of *Insert Starting Zone Name Here*.

But I digress. Actually, this entire blog is a digression. Never mind the man behind the curtain. The point to be made here is that I’m really not getting my money’s worth out of the expansion. If I spent a lot of time with Devv out in Northrend, my investment would be justified. Death Knights can’t be created without purchasing the add-on. Leveling Predatore would make sense. What am I doing? Leveling a character who I could be playing even if I didn’t own Burning Crusade. That makes sense. So what started this whole mess? I decided that I was… wait! It seems like I should start a new paragraph.

Cool. I decided that I wanted to level Ellyza so I could get her Enchanting up to the point where I could disenchant the drops that Devv was picking up right before Northrend. Enchantress (bank alt #2) is sitting on full bank tab and two 16-slot bags full of goodies that require Enchanting level 275 to DE. When I logged into the old girl, she had 11 talent points free and a clean slate. I decided to ditch my Disc leveling idea and throw all of the points into Shadow. I took her out to Redridge Mountains to finish up the quests that she still had open before sending her off to Auberdine. It took me all of about five minutes for me to realize that leveling a Priest sucks. Sure, they can melt faces later on in life. And if you manage your health and mana accordingly, you can survive long fights. But at level 20, Priests just seem like underpowered Mages with the ability to Rez and Heal. I really hope I didn’t offend any Priests out there. It’s not that the class sucks. It’s that I suck at playing the class. I think I’m gonna need some advice from Pugnacious Priest on this one.

So, back to Arpeggio. I quickly got frustrated with Ellyza, had no interest in enduring low framerates in Northrend, and wanted nothing to do with jockeying for position for my turn to kill mobs in Eastern Plaguelands. So I logged out to the character select screen and noticed my old pal Arpeggio chillin’ at cinco. It took me just shy of two hours to get to level 10. After the pet taming questline, I decided to pick my first pet. I made the conscious decision to pick a pet that appealed to me personally. At the highest levels, pet selection can make a massive difference. In PvP, your pet can make or break you. But as a “just for fun” leveling alt, I decided to bypass the Petopia research and just go with something fun. With that in mind, I tamed a wolf just north of Kharanos. Sticking with the musical theme, I named him Allegro. OK, OK. Here’s the story. Shot rotation is half the fun of being a Hunter. The distinction between the different flavors of shots is much like an arpeggiated chord. Allegro, on the other hand, likes to go rushing in to whup some ace.

When I went to bed last night, Arpeggio and Allegro were nestled snugly in their beds in Ironforge. The former learned a little Mining and Engineering before calling it a night. His pet made it clear that he is notgonna eat bread before getting some shuteye himself. So, yet another distraction enters the fold. If I can stay focused enough to actually level Arpeggio beyond 20, I’m sure I’ll become even more addicted to reading Pike‘s thoughts than I already am. Even if you’re not a Hunter, her blog is one of the better ones out there. Do yourself a favor and check it out. As for me, I’ll get the Armory listings for Arpeggio and Predatore added when I get home later tonight. If anybody on my roster makes it to 80, it’s gonna be a frickin’ miracle!

Rolling a Death Knight… and a Demonologist

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2008 by Mark Pannell

To a certain extent, I got my framerate issues straightened out. I’m pulling down around 35 FPS in highly populated areas and exceeding 65 FPS in ghost towns like, say… Ironforge. With that headache out of the way, I decided to roll a Death Knight. Sticking with the Italian naming convention, I created Predatore as a Human male DK. If your Italian is a little rusty, drop the “e” and Bob’s your uncle. Simply put, Predatore is a badass. He’s at level 58 right now and I’ve decided to hold off until level 60 to shoot him through the Dark Portal. It’s not that he couldn’t handle the mobs there right now. There’s just something deeply satisfying about plowing through Hellfire Peninsula like a steamroller.

When I first started racking up talent points, I decided to go deep into the Frost tree. It seemed to have slowing and AoE type attributes similar to a Frost Mage. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that Frost wasn’t the best soloing spec. Between some forum posts, articles on WoW Insider, and this post over at Arcane Blaster, I decided that Blood was the way to go. As of about two hours ago, Predatore is 49 points into the Blood tree.

So far, I’ve gotta say that every point was well spent. When I was specced Frost, I had to be very careful not to bite off more than I could chew. Since moving to a Blood spec, I haven’t died. Not once. To give a good basis for comparison, I was taking on mobs that were three or four levels below me in WPL when I was specced Frost. After speccing Blood, I went to the northern part of EPL and took on five level 60’s at once. I threw Mark of Blood on one of the mobs and intentionally saved him for last. When his body finally dropped and I stood before the carnage, I took a glance at my health bar. Full. I’m not kidding. I had just knocked out five mobs that were all two levels higher than me and I came away literally unscathed. This Death Knight business is gonna be a good time.

As though I didn’t have enough to do with Devv working her way to 80 and Predatore rekindling the flames of love I once felt for this game, another distraction entered the mix last night. My wife and son and I went to Target on one of those completely pointless, need to spend money for no reason trips. Since discovering a couple killer deals on the clearance endcaps, I’ve become obsessed with scouring them for deals. It’s to the point where my son and I nearly jog to the front endcaps in excitement the second we walk in the door. In his defense, he’s 3 1/2, so he’s pretty much just going along with what Daddy does. I, on the other hand, have no excuse. I just love catching bargains. At any rate, last night’s trip was no exception My first discovery were some insanely-priced PS3 and XBOX 360 games. None of the titles really gave me an adrenalin rush, so I moved to the next endcap. There I discovered Age of Conan for $19.98. Although I’ve read mixed reviews of the game and certainly didn’t need another monthly fee, I figured twenty bucks was worth it even if I didn’t wind up playing it beyond the free month that came with the game. I pay $15 a month to play WoW. My rationale was that I’d be paying $15 for one month of AoC and only $5 for the game itself.

After convincing myself that purchasing AoC was the only logical thing to do in that particular situation, I started doing a little reading. I was committed to researching all of the different character classes to determine which one would be most appealing to me. When I started playing WoW, Starman over at World of Warcast recommended that I play a Mage. I did literally no research. I just took his advice and rolled a Mage. And I don’t regret doing it.

But this time, I decided that I was going to get knee-deep in articles, blog posts, and wikis to make the most educated decision. When I actually started doing my research, I realized that all of those articles, blog posts, and wikis were a lot of words. So, rather than read all of that material, I took a quick peek at what the PvP armor looked like for the female Mage classes. Pretty sweet. Pretty… sweet. Much like my wife decided that she was a Vikings fan because she liked their uniforms, I came to the conclusion that a Mage was right for me because their PvP gear looked badass. That and, let’s be honest… a Mage is really all I know. The Demonologist class appeared to be a nice mix of a WoW Mage and Warlock, so there you go.

I haven’t actually rolled my Demonolgist yet. In fact, I haven’t even installed AoC yet. As a cruel twist of fate, I’m always scheduled off of work on Tuesdays. That usually means a lot of staring at the “Suggested Realm” screen until WoW finally comes back online. But I think my new ritaul is going to be working on my Demonologist. I will name her Devv.

Wrath of the Ice Cream Truck

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , on November 15, 2008 by Mark Pannell

When I was a kid, I lived out in the country. My house was surrounded by corn fields. The nearest city was about fifteen miles south of us. Cable didn’t run down our road. No pizza joints would deliver to us either. So, on the rare occurrence that the ice cream truck made it out our way, it was a big… deal! Whatever crops were planted in the field surrounding our house were usually pretty low to the ground in early- to mid-summer, making traffic on country roads visible for a mile. When one of the neighbors spotted the ice cream truck, it was on. Everyone made a mad dash for their mothers and their purses. Visions of crunchy cones, root beer floats, and orange creamsicles haunted us as the mobile sanctuary of dairy delights crept closer and closer to our homes.

Once the truck arrived, we ordered our goodies, then retreated to one of our porches to devour our treats. The first bite, lick, or sip always set the tone for the disappointment that was about to follow. Much like Christmas day, it’s not that the experience wasn’t as good as we expected. Rather, it was exactly what we had expected. I think kids tend to have fantasies that would do Charlie and the Chocolate Factory proud. We all knew exactly what we were getting, but when it failed to be the absolutely mind-blowing experience that no ice cream treat could ever live up to, then it was just an ice cream cone. Or a root beer float. Or a popsicle. But that didn’t stop us from getting ourselves worked up in a tizzy for the next time the ice cream truck made its rural invasion.

To a certain extent, my experience with Wrath has been a lot like the ice cream truck. It didn’t fail to meet my expectations, per se. Rather, the expansion is exactly what I expected it would be. I think there are shortcomings to living in the age of information. The biggest one is that we’re fed so much information, that nothing is left to the imagination anymore. I’ve seen hundreds of pictures, watched dozens of videos, and read dozens of blogs about the latest WoW expansion. By the time I got it installed and loaded up for the first time, it all seemed a little old to me. I think I absorbed too much information prior to the release date. And to be honest, it kind of took something away from the experience. Truth be told, I’ve played WoW for a grand total of one hour since Thursday morning.

While some of the problem is certainly information overload and maybe a bit of being burnt out with the game in general, there’s another factor worth mentioning. I’ve been meaning to do some upgrades on the old WoW console formerly known as my computer. As much as I hate installations and patching, I decided to pull the trigger and pop the hood on the ol’ girl before installing Wrath. I picked up a new graphics card, 2GB more RAM, a 21.5″ widescreen HD LCD monitor, and a new OS drive. When I fired up WoW for the first time, I cranked all of the settings, knowing full well that I had enough horsepower to do so. Imagine my disappointment when the visuals were choppy at best. A quick ctrl+R confirmed that I was topping out at around 25 FPS. I nudged the settings down a bit, but could still muster little more than 35-40 FPS. Turning in place nearly always dropped my framerate back down into the low 20’s. This is the part where I call on you, the readers, for advice. I’ll be scouring Tom’s Hardware and other sites for feedback, but I want to get this resolved quickly. It’s really bothering me and affecting my Wrath experience. LOL. Anyhow, here are my current system specs:

  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+
  • Abit KN9 Ultra Socket AM2 mobo
  • Ultra X2 550W modular PSU
  • 4GB Corsair XMS DDR2-800 (5-5-5-18)
  • Western Digital Raptor 150GB 10,000RPM SATA 3G HDD (OS drive)
  • XFX GeForce 9800 GT 512 MB
  • ViewSonic 21.5″ Widescreen HD LCD @ 1920 x 1080
  • Windows XP Professional SP3

The only possible issues I can see from that setup are the processor and the power supply. I was running a PNY GeForce 7900 GS on a 19″ LCD at 1280 x 1024 before and consistently pulling down 40-50 FPS. I know that the increased resolution has increased the demand on the system, but I would have assumed that the 9800 GT could have more than handled that. Maybe the processor is the bottleneck. It just seems highly unlikely given the poor performance even with the settings all the way down. The other possibility is that the PSU isn’t supplying enough power to the graphics card. Well, it might be the 12V rail, not the total wattage of the PSU that’s the problem. I haven’t looked up the specs on my power supply yet, but again, I doubt that’s the problem either. Trying to eliminate all possibilities, I even uninstalled and re-installed the nVidia drivers three or four times. It’s getting really old. And yes, V-Sync is off. I didn’t drop all of this money to get piss-poor performance. If I don’t get the issue resolved in the next 24 hours, I’m replacing the proc with a 65W AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to throw a 620W Corsair modular PSU into the mix. If that still doesn’t work, I’m calling XFX and telling them they can kiss my ass. The End.

A Nod to Sonny

Posted in WoW Observations on November 14, 2008 by Mark Pannell

I’ll be publishing a new post soon, but I wanted to take a second to show some appreciation for the writing of a fellow WoW blogger. Sonny over at Arathi Highlander just posted an excellent piece about a wallet. Yes, that’s right. A wallet. I would elaborate, but I think that not doing so makes it more intriguing, thus making you more likely to follow the link and check it out for yourself. The post prompted me to add him to my blogroll as well. I’ve noticed a little bit more traffic on my WordPress.com stats page lately, so I’d like to redirect you all for just a moment. Plus, it makes it look like I’ve actually posted something here. Good trick, right?

Imbroglio Can Haz Frost

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Last night, I started doing all of the quests that I skipped in Western Plaguelands. To the best of my knowledge, I have no good reason for doing this. I say “to the best of my knowledge” because I can’t honestly recall why I wound up in WPL to begin with. I remember departing IF for WPL, playing a little… OK, a lot… of Bejeweled, then slaughtering some undead. But I’m not 100% sure why I went there to begin with. I’d like to say it was to farm Runecloth for Gnomer rep, but that hardly seems like an ideal grinding spot. Incidentally, I mistakenly took two stacks of Runecloth set aside for rep turn-ins and made bolts out of them this morning. My dog, who had been snoozing a few feet away, was abruptly awoken from his slumber by my verbal response to this realization of, “Nooooooooo!!!”

So, whilst grinding the undead of WPL, I took a cue from Devv’s Frost brethren and did the whole Frost Nova/Blizzard AoE grind. God, that was fun! At first, it was just the most logical way to knock out a bunch of mobs at once. But after a while, I came to realize that it wasn’t just efficient, it was a hell of a lot of fun. I honestly started to understand why so many Frosties were having a hard time making the transition to Fire when 3.0.3 dropped. Frost, on its most basic level, is a riot. throw in all of the goodies that I could have if I were deep into the tree and I could see where it could be downright addictive. My time as a Fire in Frost’s clothing convinced me to re-spec Imbroglio Frost. At level 21, he’s only 12 points deep into the Fire tree, so a re-spec would still provide me a good look at Frost from the ground up. I’m looking forward to leveling Frost for the next 59 levels with him to see how it compares to my experience with Devv.

I’ve never successfully written a short post. It’s at this point that I generally feel obligated to write some filler nonsense to make the post look more substantial and important. I promise you, my readers, that I will not do that this time. No sir! I’m a changed man. You won’t find a single word in this post that’s not relevant to the subject matter at hand. Not one single wor… wait. This is awkward. The end.

Hellfire Stupidity

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , on November 9, 2008 by Mark Pannell

This morning, I did something stupid. It was also the most exhilerating experience I’ve ever had playing WoW. More on that in a minute. First, the setup. I pretty routinely make the trek out to Hellfire Peninsula to mine some Fel Iron Ore and to knock out the dailies up on the Throne of Kil’jaeden. When I land in Honor Hold, I usually don’t pay much attention to the status of the towers. If the Allies have two and the Horde have one, so be it. It doesn’t make much difference to me. But if I see the little message, “The Horde have taken The Stadium,” it’s on like Donkey Kong. If the filthy Hordies have capped some towers prior to my arrival, so be it. But the towers aren’t going to fall on my watch. Well, if there are better-geared toons out there who excel at pwning clothies, then I guess technically the towers could fall on my watch. But they’re not going down without a fight.

This morning, when I landed in HH, I hopped right on the Ebon Gryphon and headed for the Throne of Kil’jaeden. With Wrath around the corner, I didn’t want to get stuck with a bunch of ore that I didn’t need. Plus, I forgot to grab the daily that requires the Nether Residue. Anyhow, as I approached the Throne, I saw that the Horde had taken Broken Hill. Since I had already flown so far, I went about my business, snagging the two dailies. As my Living Flame got closer to unstable, I noticed that The Stadium had gone grey on my map. Since I hadn’t even started Blood for Blood yet, I decided to wrap up my quest and fly down to check things out.

My trusty Ebon Gryphon and his tortuously slow 60% flight speed increase got me close enough to see a Tauren Hunter chilling on top of The Stadium, flagged PvP and capping the tower. I also noticed a Night Elf Druid closing in on him. As I landed, the Druid was pwning him silly. I dismounted and got in a couple of instant casts before he slumped to the ground, little more than ground beef. The Druid backed up and waited for our buddy to make the long journey back to his corpse. About a minute later, we both had another HK. We decided that one corpse camping was enough and returned to The Stadium to cap it all the way blue. After a short time, the Hunter returned, hovering just out of range of my fiery fury, but still flagged. He kept playing a little game that involved landing just out of our range, then taking off again as we closed in on him. This lasted at least five minutes before I returned to Broken Hill to tempt him into a one-on-one with my Druid buddy. Eventually, the battle commenced and we each had another HK. The Druid went stealth and I flew to The Overlook to take that baby all the way blue as well.

Sometime while I was chillin’ at The Overlook, my Druid partner in crime went AFK. So, you can imagine my surprise when The Stadium went grey and his little party dot was still planted firmly in the middle of it. I flew back and discovered the the bovine Huntard had returned with a Warlock friend. I… did not… live long. I ran back to my body, died, rinse, repeat. I had too much pride to just take the rez sickness and call it a day. On my third trip back to my body. I actually had time to get my buffs up and use Evocation to return to full health and mana before my attackers closed in. But this time, a level 70 Draenei Warrior jumped into the mix before I died. Make no mistake. I still died. I just got to watch a little bit of Horde-whuppin’ before I released. When I returned the fourth time, another Alliance toon had joined the fray and repelled the Horde advance. It was at this point that I called in our Guild Master, Zailor. By the time he arrived in HH, we were five strong.

Things got quiet for a few minutes before we noticed Broken Hill go grey again. We all mounted up and hauled ass to defend our tower. I got two killing blows before one of the Warlock’s DoT’s finished me off. By the time I got back to my body, the Horde assault had again been successfully defeated. At this point, we all just wanted to kill us some Horde. It wasn’t even about the towers anymore. We all split up and turned our defense team into a search party. Zailor was the first to break the silence, requesting all of us to be on him. He stated that he had spotted them and was pursuing them northwest. We all joined in on the chase. A quick glance at my map confirmed my suspicion that we were, indeed, heading right for Thrallmar. I’m no mathematician, but I was reasonably sure that we wouldn’t catch them before they made it into the safety of their fortress. It turns out “safety” is a relative term.

Two members of our party exercised good judgment and abandoned the suicide mission. One tentatively approached the outskirts of Thrallmar, scouting out the dangers lurking only feet away. Zailor, on the other hand, charged in and started tanking some NPC Horde scouts. I stood just outside the walls of town and finished two of them off with consecutive Fireball crits. The other Warrior in our party exclaimed, “This is nuts!” We stood back a bit and watched as Zailor weaved his way deeper into the enemy stronghold. Lo and behold, my fearless leader spotted two of the three attackers that we had just dispatched minutes earlier. It… was on.

Zailor charged the entrance of the Horde inn as they both approached. They clearly did not see him coming. Nor did they notice the other Warrior in our party who joined in on the attack, blindsiding the pair before they could enter the inn. Within about a millionth of a second, half a dozen Horde guards mobbed my companions and their health faded fast. I noticed that our nemesiseseses… what’s the plural of nemesis? Whatever. I noticed that the Hordies that we had just been battling were nearing death. I Blinked into the mix and AoE’d like a madman. Like any good clothie, my health bar was in a race to zero with my mana bar. My Warrior friends dropped lifelessly, leaving me standing in the middle of two enemies and nearly a dozen NPC Horde guards. Right before the life slipped from my shapely Draenei form, I watched my two enemies drop to the ground, both of them finished off by the same Arcane Explosion. I couldn’t believe it. It took me several seconds before I could bring myself to release from the scene. I was so in love with the sight of the carnage. It was easily the dumbest and most invigorating experience I’ve ever had in WoW. How about you?

Workin’ On Some Scryers Love

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , on November 8, 2008 by Mark Pannell

I’ve made no secret that I have no idea what to do with the time until Wrath’s release. As much as I love the gold, doing dailies got played out. I still do four of them (two from Shatt and the two in Hellfire), but I haven’t been on the Isle of Qual’Danas in over a week. I had been working on my rep with Gnomeregan Exiles and Lower City, but that got old too. This week, I decided that it was absolutely ridiculous to only be at Friendly with the Scryers with Wrath just around the corner.

Devv has been spending an awful lot of time in Netherstorm lately, knocking off Blood Elves for their Sunfury Signets. The drop rate on those things is pretty decent. In an hour’s time, I usually rack up about 15-20 of them and and least three or four stacks of Netherweave. All in all, not a bad way to get rep with my pointy-eared brethren. But… yes, there’s a “but.” One thing that I’ve found about any area that has mobs that drop coveted items is that players tend to get greedy. Last night, I was casting a Pyroblast on a Warp-Engineer. This is frequently my opening spell on a ranged mob. It does the most damage and allows enough time to get off a Fireball before the mob reaches me. I was clearly casting on this particular mob. He was the only one in the direction that I was facing and the female Draenei casting animation is not a subtle one. A Tauren Hunter threw a Hunter’s Mark on the mob and sent his pet in before I could get off my Pyroblast. Fortunately, I had time to jump and cancel my cast. But I was pissed nonetheless. Had he not noticed me, I would have expected some kind of gesture to indicate this. An emote of some kind would convey that it was not an intentional attempt to “steal” my mob. But he went about his business after looting the body.

When someone does something rude in WoW, or in life in general, you have two choices. You can either be the bigger person and move on or you can sink to their level and continue the drama unnecessarily. Unnecessary immaturity, FTW! That’s right! I took the low road. Inside one of those little Sunfury temple thingies in southwestern Netherstorm, I followed the bovine butthead around, waited for him to put up his Hunter’s Mark, then cast a Fire Blast right before his pet could get to the mob. I did this a few times before he finally packed it up and called it a day. The funny part is that he never expressed any anger toward my actions, much as I hadn’t. It’s almost as though he knew he had it coming.

So, with less than a week remaining until the release of the next expansion, I successfully renewed the animosity between the Horde and the Alliance. Had it been a fellow Alliance toon stealing my kill, I probably would have either moved on or whispered a gentle, “Seriously?” just to test the waters. But given the fact that the inconvenience came at the hands of a Hordie, I felt obligated to fill the role of thorn in his side. And I think there should be a title for that. Sure, there are titles and rewards for PvP, but that requires you to actually kill members of the opposing faction. What I’m talking about here is just irritating the bejeezus out of them. I kind of like the sound of “Devv The Instigator.”

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