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Familiar Faces, Familiar Places

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Let me start by saying F Northrend. That’s right! Screw that place. While the graphics are certainly better and the quests are superior, I’ve had enough of the latency on the technical side and the mob ninjas on the human side. I’m not in any huge rush to get to 80, so Northrend doesn’t hold any magical key for me at the moment. Our GM is only at level 74, so I’m not feeling any real pressure. Yeah, by the way, I made my way into a new guild. I guess that’s as good a place to start as any.

I rarely respond to guild recruitment messages unless I’m on an alt who happens to be without a guild at the time. But there was something a little different about a message that Stormblaze posted. His description of his guild was exactly what I was looking for: mature, fun, and casual. More importantly, no words were misspelled and all of his capitalization and punctuation were correct. I knew this was the guild for me. After a couple weeks of membership, I’d have to agree that the guild is exactly as advertised. In my short time playing WoW, my multiple toons have been in many guilds. Sadly, in most guilds that I’ve been in, gchat is usually little more than fart and dick jokes, noob-calling, and QQ accusations. Who the hell invented “QQ” anyhow? That got played out with a quickness. Anyhow, Devv and Arpeggio have found a happy home in the Stormwind Guardians. If I miss the fart and dick jokes or want to be called a noob or told to QQ more, I log into Predatore. His guild will remain nameless… and in the rear view mirror soon.

Where was I? Ah, yes… familiarity. In lieu of questing in Northrend, I’ve been spending some quality time in Outlands. And for the record, I don’t care if you call it “Outland” or “Outlands.” Even Blizzard employees have referred to it as both, so take a sedative and leave my “s” alone. Anyhow, Predatore is dinging like a grandfather clock at midnight, cruising to level 66 since his creation one month ago today. That’s right, folks. Wrath has been out for exactly one month today. When Devv was leveling through Outlands, she required help from at least one other toon to take down the various elites along the way. Predatore, on the other hand, has soloed every single elite that he’s encountered. Even elites that are a level higher have posed few problems once I worked out the proper attack rotation. Along the way, my Human DK has leveled Herbalism to 375/375 and Inscription to 360/375.

When Predatore is accumulating rested XP in one of the many fine inns of Outlands, Devv is grinding rep with Sporeggar. I had initially decided to wait until level 80 to go back and grind out the Naga slaughter. But then I remembered that the pattern for Mycah’s Botanical Bag only required Revered with the funny-looking little swamp-dwellers. Since Predatore’s bags are constantly filled to capacity with herbs, the reward more than justifies the investment in time.  The old girl is at about 5500/12000 through Honored and the Naga bodies keep dropping. While she’s grinding it out, she’s also killing the cooldown for Primal Mooncloth. The four pieces required to make the massive Herbalism bag will take just shy of two weeks. By then, Predatore should have dinged 70. As he is also boycotting Northrend until at least the new year, he’ll be sent back to the mainland to gather lower level herbs for profit. With students from elementary school through college off for most of the tail end of December, many will be power-leveling Inscription. It seems like the ideal time to take advantage of the market and make a little gold for a flying mount for ol’ blue eyes.

So, we’ve covered the familiar places. But the more exciting part for me is the familiar faces, one in particular. I’ve gotten to a point where I pay very little attention to my chat box. It sits nestled in the lower left hand corner of my screen and I rarely look at it. So, I apparently missed the “Kotasky has come online” message when I was cleaning out some bank slots. The first indication that she was online was a whispered, “Boo!” If you’re playing along at home, Kotasky and Devv were two-thirds of the founding members of my former guild, Cool Kids. A fellow female Draenei Mage, K and Devv did about a third of their leveling to 60 together. Last month, K went into semi-retirement. When her paid time expired, she didn’t renew. She said she would be back when she could get a new computer, but nobody knew for sure when that would be. I was pleasantly surprised that she was back sooner than I had expected. I was also happy to discover that she had created a Death Knight, cleverly named Kotaski. The old duo could finally do some questing together again.

The time that I’ve spent questing with K this past week has reminded me that the social aspect of WoW was a huge part of my attraction to the game in the first place. I’ll never forget following Kotasky through Tanaris on our Elekks. She always trotted in a straight line to her destination, oblivious to the mobs gathering around her. By the time we got back to Gadgetzan to turn in our quests, she had trained half of the population of Tanaris across the desert. Somewhere, I have some screenshots of the mayhem. I had always carefully weaved my way through the minefields of mobs before meeting Kotasky. Ever since then, I’ve plowed right through just like my fearless friend. I’ve gotta say, in general, it’s a much more efficient way to travel. There will be those times when a mob stuns you off your mount and a corpse run becomes inevitable. But by and large, she had the right idea.

So, Wrath of the Lich King has definitely renewed my interest in the game. And I’ve barely spent any time in Northrend. How weird is that? I’m sure that I’ll fall in love with the continent when things calm down a bit. But for now, I’m happy in Outlands. Part of it is the newness of slaughtering mobs en masse in a way that I never could do as a clothie. I think Devv is living vicariously through Predatore. But the other part is the human aspect. Between a guild that I truly enjoy and the ability to spend time with an old friend, nothing seems like a grind anymore. This game has made me realize that I’m a very goal-oriented person. I love leveling professions to the max. I get excited as I close in on Exalted with different factions. And I can’t go to bed if I’m five bubbles or less from the next level. I’m always after that dangling carrot. Blizzard might do a lot of things wrong, but they get how to make this game addictive. For all of the server down time, screwed up mail system, and frustrating nerfs, we keep coming back for more, money in hand. I’m sure other realms are slightly different, but experiences are probably pretty similar across the board. For me, the familiar faces and places of Silvermoon-US more than justify my monthly investment. And if you’re reading this, K…. welcome back!

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Argent Dawn Goodies

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , on November 4, 2008 by Mark Pannell

On the urging of WoW Insider, I decided that I needed to get my butt in gear and start grinding some Necrotic Runes. If PvP gear is considered to be welfare epics, then the purples that the Argent Dawn are offering up are like soup kitchen epics. At 15 Necrotic Runes a piece, any newly-minted level 70 with an hour or two of free time can upgrade their green and blue shoulders and gloves to purples. Granted, I would not recommend using these bad boys as general purpose armor pieces. This isn’t PvP gear and it’s certainly not raid quality. But it’s not bad stuff for dailies. At any rate, I racked up enough Necrotic Runes to get the shoulders, the gloves, the tabard, and two trinkets. The first trinket that I grabbed set me back 40 Runes. But with it came my very own Argent Crusader, complete with mount. He/she fights by your side for some arbitrary amount of time. At the end of that time, they bubble-hearth away. Freakin’… awesome! Honestly, if the price had been 200 Runes, I would have grinded it out. Granted, your defender is only level 60, but I can’t wait to take her out to farm Runecloth.

Along the way, I picked up another Feats of Strength achievement for grabbing the Argent Dawn tabard. And speaking of tabards, my guild tabard is yet again more colorful than blank gray. While I was grinding out said Runes, I partied up with a nearby Pally who, noticing my lack of guild, invited me to his. Since I had nothing to lose, I accepted the invitation and scoped out the roster. With about 15-20 level 70’s of varied classes on a 75-man roster, I definitely took a step up from my previous guild. But like Cool Kids, The Sunset Raiders generally don’t have a large percentage of their members online at any given time. They’re not a raiding guild. They’re not quite a leveling guild. Really, they appear to be 75 guys and girls wearing the same tabard and shooting the breeze in gchat. That’s not a bad place for me to be right now. Later on down the line, I’d like to get into a more serious raiding guild. But for now, it’s nice to grab party members for quests and world events in gchat rather than having to PUG everything

On a completely different note, I had to create a second bank alt this morning. Benjamins is pretty particular about only keeping cloth in his tabs. So, Enchantress was born and assigned the task of keeing an eye on all of the armor and weapons that Ellyza can’t disenchant yet. Devv is racking up pieces that require Enchanting level 275 to DE, but Ellyza is level-capped at 225. When she gets to 275, she’ll be dropping Arcane Dust and Lesser Planar Essence like it ain’t no thing. What cracks me up is that I actually spend time to choose the race, class, look, and name of my bank alts. I could just grab the first character that pops up and name them randomly for all it matters. But I careful crafted a female Human Priest with just the right hair and named her something ridiculously cliche before sending her into Ironforge to be neglected for the rest of her life. At least Benjamins has a tuxedo. Enchantress is in her starting zone clothes. I even stripped her of her mace so she didn’t poke an eye out. Jesus, this blog has gone downhill in a hurry. I’m just gonna stop while I’m only a little bit behind. Please go check out the newest post at Critical QQ if you feel dumber for having read my entry. It deals with the Arcane tree and it’s 100% less retarded than this post.

The Grind

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

Since my last post, Ellyza did, indeed, ding 20. I bought her enough mats to get her enchanting to 225. Consequently, Devv is building up a stockpile of Arcane Dust. For the first time since the old girl hit Outlands, Netherweave Cloth is now the bottleneck for creating Bolts of Imbued Netherweave. With a few stacks of Arcane Dust in the bank, she’s making the bolts as quickly as she can farm the cloth. Also in the bank tab are three stacks of Netherweb Spider Silk. As I mentioned earlier, Devv’s rested XP this time around was reserved for grinding rep and profession drops.

When Ellyza made it to 20, Devv was sitting on just shy of enough rested XP to make it to 67. Her actual progress was only about 6% of the way into 66. The three things that I wanted to accomplish before dinging 70 were getting Honored with Lower City and The Scryers and gathering enough Netherweb Spider Silk to make all of my tailoring specialization patterns. The beautiful thing about Terokkar Forest is the proximity of grinding areas for Sunfury Signets, Arakkoa Feathers, and Netherweb Spider Silk.

While gathering the silk, I noticed that the Spirit Towers were about to become capturable. General chat started filling up with talk of capping them. I quickly grabbed the repeatable quest and headed out into the open, flagging myself for PvP on the way. I started whispering people to see if they wanted to group for the capture of the towers. Moments later, I was the group leader of five level 70’s who had all done it before. There were some pretty intense moments, but we took the five towers without ever encountering the Horde. We would get to four towers and they would cap one that we had all strayed from. In the end, we left guys at each of the towers and never wound up fighting anyone to keep them.

Hours later, when the towers were up for grabs again, I got my first taste of world PvP. I rode up to the East tower and found a level 65 Blood Elf Mage nestled into the rear doorway. She was wearing about the same gear that I had equipped, including the Lupine helm that completely conceals the face. Because of this, she did not respond to me in any way. I opened with Dragon’s Breath and a quick Fire Blast. She finally moved, but was slow to start casting. She opened with Arcane Missiles as I prepped a Fireball with the added punch of Combustion. As I dropped a Blast Wave, I failed to notice what my nemesis was casting. I glanced at our respective healths and saw that I was at about 75% while she was down to about 25%. When I glanced back at Devv, she was a sheep. The Blood Elf blinked away and I was sure that she would either make a run for it, grab some potions, or use a Mana Ruby. She appeared to be doing nothing. When the Polymorph wore off, I was back to full health and all of my cooldowns were up. Oddly, my suspicions were correct. She had done nothing. Sitting on about 28% health, she started casting a Frostbolt. My next Dragon’s Breath stunned her and interrupted the cast. The Fire Blast that followed also stunned her. This bought me enough time to get most of a Fireball cast, which proved to be the fatal blow. And with it came my first HK from world PvP. Seconds later, the tower was mine. And there was much rejoice.

A bit later, Kotasky from the guild popped online. As a newly-minted 60, she was working her way through the mountain of quests in Hellfire Penninsula. I wrapped up in Terokkar and flew out to meet her near Honor Hold. It had been 10 or 15 levels since we had last grouped. We knocked out a couple quests before Horgath popped online. He was all hyped up for an instance. We decided to hit Blood Furnace for some quick goodies. With two Mages and a Hunter, we’d have to be pretty selective about who filled the last two slots. We determined that to be effective, we’d have to hold out for a tank and a healer. Instead, we took another Hunter and a Warrior who had never tanked. Yeah. That will be the subject of my next post.

Why I WoW

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , on October 1, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Before going to bed last night, I logged into multiple toons to check their mail and auctions. This morning, at 5:45 am, I left my house for work and listened to The Instance podcast on the way in. In a few short hours, five or ten avid WoW-playing coworkers will be here, ready to share their recent adventures. One of my subordinates will say that he’s finally ready for me to run his twink-in-progress through Wailing Caverns. One of my peers will make sure that I got his vacation request… beginning Thursday November 13th. One will tell me about yet another frustrating PUG that he eventually ghetto-hearthed out of. And I’ll also have to endure stories of my main being passed in levels by a Rogue that was power-leveled by the spouse of one of my other subordinates.

One of these guys is a married father of a toddler. Another is a forty-five-year-old man getting ready to go through a divorce. There’s a single guy who works two full time jobs and participates in regional and national mixed martial arts tournaments. There’s your prototypical energy drink-consuming single nerd. And finally, there’s the married mother of two. The only common thread that runs through us all is WoW.

When I first started playing, I was invited to join what everyone referred to as the “minor leagues” for one of the more respected guilds on our realm. The GM was a good guy and was on pretty regularly. But the rest of the members weren’t very active and the GB was usually empty. While questing out in Tanaris, I ran into a fellow Draenei Mage a level or two below me. She was struggling to take down a mob and her Mana Shield was about tapped out. I jumped in and finished the thing off. She asked me if I wanted to group for some quests in the area. A little later, one of her guildies joined us. It didn’t take long for us all to confess that we were getting bored with our current guilds. I half-jokingly suggested that we should start our own. The idea wasn’t met with any resistance. A few days later, the three of us ran BRD with a couple other friends. After we cleared the instance, we knew that we needed to all belong to the same guild. The next day, the Cool Kids were born.

We’re probably more of a leveling guild for now. But when the three founding members all ding 70, we’ll be partnering with Creative Anarchy to get our feet wet with some endgame content. I’m fortunate to have a four year veteran Mage to look to for advice. But in the meantime, we all do our own thing. Sometimes a few of us will hit an instance that’s in the middle of the group’s level range. Other times, we quest different areas from each other, chatting and bragging about our lucky drops and quest rewards. Kotasky loves to group. Airdrie loves to have more seasoned players escort us through instances. I love to solo. But at the end of the day, we all pool our resources in the GB, hook each other up with mats and goodies, and share our stories. The three of us, and the rest of the guild at large, all play a different flavor of the same game. The only common thread that runs through us all is WoW.

Sound familiar? Scroll up a few paragraphs. So why do I WoW? Because I feel like I belong. I was never the nerdiest kid in school. I was never the prom king. But I play and discuss WoW with people who were both of those things. And they know it. And they don’t care. So when the guy labeled “geek” growing up talks smack to the prom king in person and he takes it, then Blizzard has done its job. I’ll happily send $15 a month their way to have every social barrier that I’ve ever known broken down by a few million orcs, trolls, dwarves, and elves… even if that Utopia only exists in Azeroth.

Alt-Bouncing, Spending Quality Time with Devv

Posted in WoW Observations with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2008 by Mark Pannell

Lately, when I play WoW, my time is spent bouncing between alts for various reasons. I have six toons who see regular action, another who sees occasional playing time, and an AH/bank mule. Five of the active toons are in my main’s guild. My fellow guildies make fun of me and say that I have multiple personality disorder.

Dantei, a level 215 Engineer, makes Crafted Heavy Shot for Kaddisfly. Ellyza disenchants low level greens, enchants my lowbie toons’ gear, then sells the excess mats at AH. Raulduke makes some rings and necklaces for my lowbies, but he’s about to give up Jewelcrafting for Skinning. Paired with Mining, he’ll be my workhorse out in the field, gathering mats for his brothers and sisters. Kaddisfly… well, he pretty much just takes without giving anything back. He needs his ammo from Dantei, his Rumsey’s Black Label Rum from his sugar momma, Devv, and his pots from his guildie, Airdrie. The only thing he does do for himself is fishing to feed Pignewton. Aside from that, his job is to pwn in BG’s, gathering marks and honor in anticipation of a possible ascension to level 29 to rule the 20-29 bracket.

When I am logged into my two accounts (Ellyza and Raulduke are a separate account), I bounce back and forth between five toons, sending each other mats and gold. If I did things intelligently, I would just create a guild for my alts and pool all of the mats and gold. But I really enjoy participating in guild chat while I’m crafting goodies and browsing the AH. Most of the time, the gang is all in IF, gaining mad quantities of rested XP. The upside is that when I do level them, I fly through each level. The downside is that they rarely get out of IF as I routinely need their skills and access to their respective bank tabs. But the biggest downside is that my main, Devv, has been kind of overlooked. She’s been stuck at level 62 for a couple weeks now. Her open quests are all in Zangarmarsh, but she hasn’t ventured farther than Brewfest from IF in a while. That is, until today.

Depending mostly on teleportation as a mode of transportation lately, I finally busted out the hearthstone and shot myself back into the thick of things. Zangarmarsh and the promise of gold and better gear became irresistable sometime before work this morning. I killed some Mire Hydras, collected some soil samples, turned in Unidentified Plant Parts for Cenarion Expedition rep, and got back to what I love about WoW: being a mage. Devv is about 90% through level 62 and I have every intention of dinging 63 tonight. After that, she’ll probably go back to camping out in IF for a while. I just can’t see leveling her right before a patch drops that reduces the XP required to level from 60 to 70. I know it’s probably laziness and a total noob move, but I’m not wasting any more time than necessary to get to 70. The quests are fun and all, but I’m more interested in PvP than end-game raiding.

Speaking of PvP, Kaddisfly will be entering WSG as a fully twinked level 19 for the first time tonight. Well, he’s not quite fully twinked. He stills needs Enchant 2H Weapon Agility on his Twisted Chanter’s Staff. And he needs the stamina enchant re-applied to his new bracers, but aside from that, he’s done. And working his way to 19 made me realize something. I want to level a Hunter. Yeah, yeah… I know. But they seem like a hell of a lot of fun. Screw it! I’m doing it!