Previous month:
October 2009
Next month:
December 2009

November 2009

Friday Five: Five WoW Improvements for Which I am Grateful

I've been playing WoW for a while now ( I think it's my 4-year anniversary this January), so I remember the opening of the AQ gates, mounts that cost 600 gold with two discounts, and walking uphill in the snow all the way to 40. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, and with an eye on the WoW 5-year anniversary celebrations, I bring you today's Friday Five:
  1. Easier transportation for the lowbies. I am so over leveling alts at this point, having done so many many times at this point. But slow mounts at 20, fast mounts at 40, and flight form for use 60-70? All of these bumps make it a heck of a lot more palatable.
  2. Raid content I get to see most of. Yeah, my guild didn't perservere with the 10-man hard modes, and thus never saw Algalon. But I have cleared everything else. That's a major improvement over not seeing the end of BT last expansion, or the Sunwell at all.
  3. Raid bosses that don't take weeks to learn. I'm looking at YOU Lady Vashj and Kael. That said, I didn't mind learning Nefarian and Chromag in BWL-- they took a few hours but we got them and it felt good.
  4. 30 min hearthstones. My priest and druid rejoiced when thee went into use.
  5. Cheap mounts. My first mount was my epic tiger at 60 (I got by with cat form until then.) I scrimped and saved up the 600g and had my SO, a Knight with Darnassus rep, buy it for me, so I could have the 10% Officer discount stacked with the city reputation discount. Now, I can buy even my lowbies mounts in every color.

Updated: Pilgrim's Bounty Cooking

You may have noticed a flurry of cooking leveling within your guild recently. People who'd previously poo-poo'd cooking and fishing suddenly taking up both with a vengeance. It's likely that the upcoming Pilgrim's Bounty in-game event is the reason. Pilgrim's Bounty is held November 22- November 28 and features virtual takes on many of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday's traditions.

The cooking quests, and the achievements requiring the fruits of your cooking labors, all involve specialty items only available from specific Pilgrim's Bounty vendors, located outside of the capital cities. Although they share some of the holiday goods, such as honey and spices, certain items are only available from a specific NPC:

  • Cranberries are from the vendors outside Ironforge and Orgrimmar.
  • Sweet Potatoes are from the vendors outside Darnassus and Thunder Bluff
  • Small Pumpkins are from the vendors outside Stormwind and Undercity.

Additionally, you'll need to hunt turkeys in Tirisfall Glades or Elwynn Forest to obtain Wild Turkeys. With the assistance of these vendors, you will be making five dishes:

Cooking all five recipes will earn you the achievement Now We're Cookin'. Your first stack of 20 of each of these foods will be used to complete the daily Pilgrim's Bounty Daily quests, resulting in the achievement Pilgrim's Progress.

Related achievements include Pilgrim's Paunch (Acquire the Spirit of Sharing from a complete Bountiful Table feast at every capital) and Sharing is Caring (Pass one of every dish at a Bountiful Table.) NOTE: if you eat five helpings of every food, you'll gain the Spirit of Sharing which lasts one hour and increases reputation gained by 10%.  Conveniently, tables come equipped with their own unlimited stacks of food, so you won't be stuck in the kitchen all day. These achievements are all part of the Pilgrim meta achievement which awards the title Pilgrim and a plump turkey vanity pet.

More achievement points are nice, and I'll definitely try to complete the achievement for the pet. But what I am most excited about is gaining five more recipes to add to my total.

I'll be updating this post with screenshots and more details once the holiday goes live this weekend.

For more cooking achievement details, see the Cooking Achievement guide.


Professions Synergy

ScreenShot_081409_193721
 

This sexy Tauren is my bank alt. He is one of the primary keys to my ability to make my horde-side professions somewhat profitable. But the other equally important component to that profitability is my having chosen complimentary professions that can help each other out. For my horde characters, it breaks out like this:

  • shadow priest is a tailor/herbalist
  • mage is an alchemist/herbalist (elixir mastery for the flask procs)
  • shaman is a miner/jewelcrafter
  • druid is a skinner/leatherworker
  • SO has an enchanter and an inscriptionist

Alliance-side is similarly aligned:

  • druid is an enchanter/skinner
  • mage is an alchemist/herbalist (elixir mastery for the flask procs)
  • shadow priest is an inscriptionist/herbalist
  • SO has a leatherworker, engineer, and blacksmith

That's right. Not only did I pick my alts' professions with an eye on how they could feed into each other, I took my SO's professions into consideration as well to come up with a mix that would cover most of our bases.

Each day, my alchemist transmutes an epic gem and sends it to the JC. The JC makes an icy prism daily, sending the blue quality gems back to the alchemist, along with the eternals she mines, cutting the epic gems and sending them to the bank alt. All herbs gathered go to the alchemist for making whatever flasks I need and whatever elixirs are selling well in the AH. The two maxed fisherwomen do the fishing daily (the third does it only when it's the sewers, slowly increasing her skill), sending any usable fish to the bank alt to be held for the druid's eventual push to 450 cooking.

Alliance side had mirrored this as well, until I faction changed the shaman and moved her over to the horde. Additionally, as I leveled the tailoring and the SO leveled the leatherworking, all excess items that were not especially saleable were funneled to the enchanter for DEing. The inscriptionist made me plenty of scrolls so no enchanting skill-up points were ever wasted.

These interwoven professions didn't initially happen by design. But when I moved my shadow priest to her current server and started up my army of alts there, I did take what I'd learned from several years of good professions synergy with my Alliance characters and apply it. Some professions, especially enchanting, are really expensive and time consuming to level without having additional toons and their professions excess feeding into them. And since the excitement over getting to train new recipes and make fabulous new goodies has long been a driver of getting me to work on my alts, it works out very well all around.

So next time you roll an alt, and are tempted to pick two gathering professions or a repeat of an easy profession you've previously breezed through, take a minute to think about if you have an opportunity to make your profession leveling less painful -- or more profitable -- by considering it in context of your own little crafting cabal.


Bronzebeard Horde-Side Guilds That Raid

While researching how other guilds on my server go about their application process, I made a point of checking out what the guilds above and below us on guildprogress asked of their applicants. As a result, I came up with a good list of guilds that raid, which I present for you here.

  • Sassafrass
    Consistently the most progressed guild horde-side. Their News page sports a screenshot of their heroic-25 Twin Valks kill.
  • Denied
    A solid #2 on the ToC-25 achievements. However, there has been lots of guild attrition lately, with a number of their members joining other casual raiding guilds on the server.
  • Ascendance
    Third on the ToC-25 progression list, but their homepage features a screenie of their Algalon kill, taken 3-weeks ago. Grats!
  • Ressurection
  • Relentless Few
  • More Chaos
  • Ominous
  • Inevitable
This list is a work in progress and will be added to as I find more guild website links. Interesting to note people talk a lot about how horde-side BB doesn't have a lot going on. But all of these guilds are ones ranked higher than our casual guild that raids. So it seems to me that although we don't have a bunch of guilds slugging it out for world firsts, folks are still keeping busy here.


Baby Tauren Druid Hit Level 40

ScreenShot_111509_175719

Despite the small amount of time I have to play her, my baby druid hit 40 today. It was a momentus ding thanks to it bringing me BOOMkin form and enabling the purchase of her epic Kodo!

Kids these days...grumble grumble...they don't appreciate how hard we old timers had it...we used to get our SLOW MOUNT at 40! And the epic at 60! And we LIKED IT THAT WAY!

Oh hai, wait, no, it was a pain.

Special thanks to my lovely leveling partner, Candelie. Boomkin+ Elemental Shaman=win. We have consistently done orange quests throughout our leveling process, and only run into trouble in a bugged ruin in STV that had invisible mobs come out of the floor to murder us.

At this rate, we may be to Outlands before the 3.3 alt mana preservation changes hit.


Friday Five: Five To Dos for my Baby Druid this Weekend

  1.  Get to level 40! A faster mount will make the leveling so much faster!
  2. Stop obsessing about those last 3 leatherworking skill points. You can't train up Leatherworking again until you hit level 50 and get to Shatt anyhow.
  3. Get a port to Dalaran to set your hearthstone in a more convenient place.
  4. Obtain the Scarlet MonasteryZF quests and see about getting a group for it (or bribe someone for a runthrough)
  5. Stop and take some screenies while terrorizing STV with that crazy shaman!

Baby druid is 36 now, and still being leveled as Boomkin. Because I am a masochist. Wait, no, that's not it. I am just a ranged spellcaster at heart. Having a shaman leveling buddy helps though, since mana spring totem is nearby at all times, so I don't have to drink quite every pull.

I need to dig around and find a more updated leatherworking leveling guide since WoWiki's guide includes making the riding crop which 1) won't sell and 2) with Primal Mights at 150g each, doesn't really seem all that economical to me. Yes my mage could transmute them, but those old world mats aren't cheap ether. And since you can't use the crop past level 70, they feel like a big money sink without much return on investment. Meh.

Happy Friday!


DPS Survey meme

Happy Thursday!

Here are my answers to the DPS survey meme from (http://dkdeathgoddess.blogspot.com/) that has been making the rounds...

What is the name, class, and spec of your primary dps?
Anexxia, shadow priest.

What is your primary dpsing environment? (i.e. raids, pvp, 5 mans)
10- and 25-man raids.

What is your favorite dps spell/ability for your class and why?
Mind Sear. MWAHAHAHAHA. Watching Ony's whelps blow up with it is immensely gratifying.

What dps spell do you use least for your class and why?
I never use any of my holy damage spells. Unless I am running someone through SFK which has a few of those pesky shadow resistant worgen.

What do you feel is the biggest strength of your dps class and why?
We bring a number of buffs to the raid (fort, sirit, shadow protection, replenishment, raid-wide incremental healing from VE), good DPS, and a sexy shadowform to boot! So, in short, we bring the sexy.

What do you feel is the biggest weakness of your dps class and why?
Lack of burst DPS. When heroism/bloodlust goes up...I just get to mindflay faster. This looks to be somewhat addressed in 3.3 as far as haste affecting DoT ticks.

In a 25 man raiding environment, what do you feel, in general, is the best dps assignment for you?
Anything that involves quickly dispatching a bunch of pesky adds, unless you want me dispelling the boss, in which case that needs to be my DPS assignment as well.

What dps class do you enjoy dpsing with most and why?
Elemental shamans are an excellent compliment to any caster's firepower, if we can stay in range of their yummy totems. And of course, Boomkins. And mages if they give me their focus magic...

What tanking class do you enjoy dpsing with least and why?
I love pally tanks - they never kvetch about how we need to single target DPSing packs of mobs. Alas, many of the druid tanks post-Wrath have been more likely to have issues keeping aggro on multiple mobs, and tell us things like "no AOE!" Which makes me sad, and gives me poor DPS since low health mobs don't give the DoTs time to tick if we are focus firing them in order.

What is your worst habit as a dps?
I panic shield low-life DPSers, and pp out and heal if a healer goes down in raids.

What is your biggest pet peeve in a group environment while dpsing?
Being micromanaged by non-shadowpriest players as to what spells I should be using. No thx. And being told to silence, even after reminding folks multiple times that it's a PvP talent that I didn't put points in for raiding.

Do you feel that your class/spec is well balanced with other dps?
My guild's raids of late have been optimized for melee DPS, which significantly decreased my overall damage. It would be nice if my personal performance was not impacted by the rarity of an elemental shaman, boomkin or unholy DK in our raids.

What tools do you use to evaluate your own performance as a damage dealer?
Recount and WMO.

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about your class?
That shadow priest = sucky DPS. In our 10s, our top 3 are a tight pack, and I am usually second place after my SO's DK. And when our 25s have been more balanced, I've also consistently been top 3. Of course, we have barely scratched the surface of hard modes, and only in 10s, so that may be why mmmv.

What do you feel is the most difficult thing for new dpsers of your class to learn?
DoT management. I think folks put up SW:P before having 5 stacks of shadow weaving, and clip DoTs or let them fall off.

What dps class do you feel you understand least?
Paladin. I have one at level 20, but I am a ranged caster at heart. So paladins confuzzled me.

What add-ons or macros do you use, if any, to aid you in dps?
Quartz castbar to help me see how latency is affecting my cast time.

Strength over other stats or balanced stat allocation, and why?
Spellpower, spellpower, spellpower. With our DoT baesd rotations, you want as much bang for your buck on each tick, with SP being your best buy stat-wise.

I'm too late to the party on this to tag anyone!


Nothing Revives the Fun Like a Retro Raid

shadow priest in Al'ar's rom in Tempest Keep

If you had asked me a year ago if I'd like to go spend a few hours knocking back Lady Vashj and Kael, I would have told you to go die in a fire. Benn there. Done that. Never wanted to see it again on my druid.

But a year's absence makes the heart grow fonder for the BC instances. Somehow spurred on by our weekly For the Horde! runs momentum, we found ourselves itching for some retro raid action on a night when our 25-man composition wasn't right for working on the keepers in Ulduar. So, instead, we decided SSC and TK were due a visit.

It was fun to get to see these instances and soak up the ambiance. During all my at level forays to these raids, I healed on my druid, so my view of them was only the bits that peaked out from behind the 25 little health bars I fixated on. Who knew that TK actually had some nice music before those 4 packs of doom?

Now,  at 80, those trash packs that used to cause wipes were easily mind seared down as our paladin tanked them all. Lady Vashj was an easy one shot, while Lurker killed a good chunk of the raid since we didn't bother to clear all the trash and fought him with the nasty fish still in the water.

Kael, on the other hand, was a piece of funny business. You see, he's a loquacious fellow, and we tried to rush him along. And he didn't like it. He turned into a big ghosty stalker and followed raid members around in his room, taunting us with out inability to get past his bugged state. So, we had some folks kill themselves and summon us all outside so we could reset him and start over.

Our second time through, we took it easy on him, doing about half as much damage. We picked up those legendary weapons and marveled at how the stats for the ones we carry around now dwarf them. We killed him nice and slow, letting him give us his monologues. Big dress-up dork that I am, I was excited to get the tier chest token, which I turned in for the pretty Shroud of the Avatar robe. Now *that's* a pretty dress up outfit.

There's been talk of doing some more (guildies have recently done the AQs, Black Temple, and Mount Hyjal recently) and I'm in. It's nice to get to revisit some of this formerly challenging content in a fun and relaxed raid with many folks who've never gotten to see it before. A great way to spend a weekend day.


The Guild Application: Your Opportunity to Make a Good -- or Mediocre -- First Impression

Our guild is a casual guild that's made raiding progression. We have a good number of folks running around our server under our tag with reasonably shiny gear. And thus, we get a good number of unsolicited applications from people who don't know anyone in the guild. This has recently ranged anywhere from a couple to up to seven in any given week.

The original application was pretty general. And to be frank-- people did not take a lot of time answering questions like "What do you know about our guild? What do you bring with you if you join the guild." So, in light of most of the recent applicants wanting to raid, we revised the application to include more relevant questions in that vein, designed to actually helps us get to know the applicants a little better.

So far, it's been a mixed bag. We had an applicant answer the question regarding what raid content they'd completed with "..." Because we do coddle our applicants, asking them to complete questions they skip, for instance, instead of just rejecting incomplete applications, I replied that I would like to see an answer to that question since they were applying for end game raiding. The applicant, after that and another question, puffed up his chest, telling us it's "not like this was a job interview or something."

But that's where you're wrong, dear applicants. It is in fact a lot like a job application, or a first date even. When you don't take the time to complete our application, you're like a guy showing up for a date without having run a brush through his hair, wrinkled shirt half-tucked in who then hits me up for change for the parking meter. As someone who doesn't know you already, you come across as unprepared, not especially interested in making a good first impression, and sloppy. I suspect you might stand in red circles on the ground or run into clouds or accidentally pull the boss 3-times while we are buffing.

When people do not know you, you are your application. We can't peer inside your brain to see how funny you are and what a great player you've been so far. Your application is you making cocktail party small talk with the guild. And if you're not interested enough in us to do that, why would we want to invite you in to stay a while?

Yes, I do understand that not everyone is a master conversationalist. But if you can type well enough to play the game -- and to find a guild website -- you should be able to give filling out an application a good 10 minutes of your time. Because as the annoying slogan goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Be sure to make the most of it.

Further Reading on the Guild Application Process in this Blog


Friday Five: 5 Things More QQ Worthy Than Blizzard's New Pet Store

shadow priest with Pandaren Monk

  1. The likelihood that, given the sound file transcripts from 3.3 and how everyone dissects such things to death in forums and on twitter and in trade chat, we will never again get to experience a spoiler-free raid instance for ourselves the first time.
  2. As of 3.3 players will no longer need to kill the final bosses in all four wings of Naxx in order to teleport to Sapphiron. Teleportation orbs have been added to allow players access back and forth from Sapphiron's lair. This presumably makes Sapphiron and KT farmable without the PITA of Thaddius.
  3. Everyone hates their Tier 10 gear. Mine makes me look like a Harry Potter movie escapee but at least I can cover it up with shadowform.
  4. We still know very little abut the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday that starts this Sunday, but we do know there are achievements that involve cooking, and that makes everyone who hasn't leveled cooking see red even though this holiday's achievements are not part of the violet drake meta-achievement.
  5. Macabre Marionette didn't get deleted from our accounts after Day of the Dead, but it is still an item taking up a bank slot that summons a friend to run around with you instead of being a learnable vanity pet you don't have to worry about accidentally tossing out.

Gosh so many things for us all the complain about...or not. Maybe this is a good time to reflect on past years where we had queues up to 1k players and DCs left and right and zombie plagues keeping us from spending our happy free time in game. So if these are the top of our complaint lists right now, then perhaps we should count ourselves lucky.

cheers!


Not Living Up to My Potential

ScreenShot_101809_214151

Last night, a guildie whispered to ask if I wanted to bring an alt to 10-man ToC. Sadly, I had to decline because, truth be told, my alts are not up for it.

I got spoiled last expansion -- I had 1 progression raiding toon, 1 able to do mid-tier raids and 2 more who rocked Kara like nobody's business. I always had a toon ready and willing to fill in on a raid. But that's just not how it is now.  Limited play time has been spent primarily raiding, or farming herbs. There simply has not been time -- or, honestly, interest on my part, to farm up a stack of badges to gear out the shaman and the mage.

I'm in that pre-expansion slump.

Right now, it seems more pressing to get the druid to 80 so that I can go into the next expansion with four 80s horde side (mirroring my four 70s Alliance side for BC start). So for now, I'll work on NaNoWriMo, make Twitter lists, play Dragon Age: Origins, and wait for the Sims 3 expansion, doing raids and chatting with friends, and live with just not being ready for the big raids on my alts.


Care and Feeding of Your Guild Volunteers

Regardless if your guild calls them officers, council members, or suckers, all guilds have one special group of individuals in common -- volunteers. That's right. The guild leader? Volunteer. That officer you complain to after a rough night of raiding? Volunteer. Correctly identifying the folks who raise their hands to help make your guild a better place as volunteers is the first step towards keeping them -- and your guild -- happy.

To make sure we are starting from a common definition, Wikipedia defines Volunteering as the practice of people working on behalf of others without being motivated by financial or material gain. Volunteering generally considered an altruistic activity, intended to promote good or improve human quality of life.Yes, there are power-mad individuals whose quest for an O slot was more about wielding the power of the gkick, but hopefully those folks are few and far between. I still like to think that most guild volunteers are motivated by pride in their guild and wanting to give back.

With that in mind, how can you ensure your well of volunteer spirit doesn't dry up?

Role Definition

One of the biggest reasons that a volunteer -- in WoW or in a RL capacity-- walks away from a volunteer opportunity is that the reality of how they are spending their time doesn't match up with what they thought the role was going to be like. This is often due to the volunteer not having a clear idea of what the role is for which they are volunteering, or what your expectations are as to what they will specifically be doing. If you are onboarding a new volunteer for a role you previously filled, then you should already have a good idea of what the role entails, and should be able to share that with the person prior to their committing to taking it on.

If your guild is taking on new volunteer roles, you have two ways to proceed:

  1. Brainstorm with your officer team upfront and come up with a solid draft of what you are looking for someone to do prior to soliciting folks to take on the role or;
  2. Come up with the general category and recruit folks who are willing to work through the definition process.

Having been a volunteer in both such situations, option 1 is probably the least painful route to go. This way, it's clear what you need from them. If you decide you'd rather allow an enthusiastic guildie the opportunity to help define their role, make sure you and your officer team are ready for non-emotionally, objectively evaluating new ideas. Because bringing in a new person to the mix is bound to introduce new ideas. And if you shoot down all your new recruit's ideas in one fell swoop, you are left with a deflated balloon where your formerly psyched guildie was standing.

Volunteer Recognition

No one wants to think their volunteering has gone unnoticed or unappreciated. No, I don't mean  you should be handing out superlative praise every time a volunteer logs on to ensure they feel appreciated. But it can be easy and motivating to work recognition into your guild's every day activities. For instance, when setting down a feast for the raid, thanking the individual who donated it. This seems like such a small and obvious gesture, but as a long-time raider who has handed out a ton of buff food over the years, I have to say it's less common than you might think.

Another form of recognition comes in the form of guild ranks. My guild, for instance, has a rank reserved for guild crafters. To be considered, you must have maxed out your profession's level, and applied for the position after attaining a small tenure in the guild.Those folks receive priority on rare pattern drops from raids, and agree to craft all items for guildies (with guildies supplying mats) without charging a crafting fee. It makes it easy for guildies to know whom to go to for crafting, while also recognizing folks for maximizing a profession and making time to share it with the guild.

Ongoing Evaluation

Have you ever had a job that you really liked, but after a while (be it a few months or a few years) it lost its zing? And you no longer put in 100%? You started to show up late, leave early, spend all day on twitter... until eventually you either left or they informed you your services were no longer needed? That apathy happens with guild volunteers too, and just like in the workplace, it can demotivate everyone around them.

No I am not advocating an annual review with 360 degree feedback from the guild. However, someone -- be it the guild leader or another officer -- does need to be taking notice of when a volunteer is getting burnt out or not living up to their role's expectations. When that situation has been identified, you have a few options:

  • Talk to the volunteer to find out what's up. Are they bored with the role or is something IRL interfering with their ability to keep up?
  • If they're bored, is there another role they'd like to take on?
  • If RL is getting in the way, consider giving them a "Sabbatical" -- giving their role to another volunteer for a predefined amount of time to give them some breathing room.
  • If it's volunteering in general that they are tired of, thank them graciously for their time, and look to the guild for a new volunteer to take their place
Keeping on top of these three basic volunteer management and motivation activities won't ensure a lack of drama in your guild but it should help you keep your volunteer ranks full of happy, enthusiastic guildies, helping make your guild a great place to play.


Day of the Dead Festivities

shadow priest in Day of the Dead ensemble

I got up bright and early this morning, thanks to our falling back to standard time here in the U.S., and set about completing Day of the Dead festivities on my favorite characters across three servers.  Day of the Dead is a celebration of one's deceased ancestors. For this reason, it's imperative you head to the graveyard outside your race's home city, or to Shatt. Otherwise, though you can obtain the achievement, you won't be able to complete the quest for honoring your ancestors' spirits. Apparently you can also complete these activities at Dalaran's graveyard, but for the life of me, I have no idea where it is.

It was fun getting a festive 12-hour costume, and the adorable (yet, alas, not permanent) teeny macabre marionette pet, and dancing with the graveyard spirits. I am more than a little disappointed that the marionette is only available to you during Day of the Dead-- he was set to become my undead shadow priest's favorite pet ever. *sniffle*

A nice bonus was the 26g and change my 80s made from making the day of the Dead bread and fulfilling that quest (which is how you get the marionette.) The XP awarded to lowbies is pretty nice too -- 3k to my level 31, 9k to my level 58, and 20k to my level 72 who completed it. Smart of Blizz to include this little push to get even the most bah humbug players amongst us into the holiday spirit.

For a look at all the things you can buy and links to the quests, check out the Moonglade blog's Day of the Dead guide. More pictures of various races' dancing spirits after the cut. And don't tell anyone, but my favorite so far was the synchronized male NE dancers in Darn. It was epic.

Continue reading "Day of the Dead Festivities" »