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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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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.