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May 2010

Leisurely Sunday Blog Reading

Cup of coffee in hand? Then check out these blog posts I especially enjoyed over the past week...

  • The Pros and Cons of Recruiting the Guild Leader, by @Matticus over on World of Matticus.
    Thoughtful writing on the positive impact on your guild of promoting a raid leader from within the ranks of those who have been putting in the hard work on the content versus looking externally to those who've been there and done that and are looking to pick up their raid leading ball and go elsewhere with it. This post also got my juices flowing around the whole topic of leadership, so expect something in that vein here again soon.
  • Getting Ready for Cataclysm by @Shieldbreakr on Horde of One.
    I had to give this one a shout out to one of my favorite tweeps who also busted out with a Friday Five on this topic. It also got me thinking about how I really need to start a character name list in the notebook I carry around with me, so I don't spend 45 minutes on the character creation screen when it comes time to make my goblin hunter. And yes, I've already ruled out hunternexxi as a name. ;)
  • When Does a Guild Become Yours? on ishapeshift.
    I can't count how many times I've seen guild dramas over new members whom one guildie or another feels "don't know their place." Folks can become really passionate about their guilds, and even overprotective. In a worst case scenario, you can end up with old timers flat out telling newer members that their opinion doesn't count because they are new. Having been a new person in several guilds, I know in some guilds I have more quickly felt at home and stepped up and made a contribution, and not enjoyed getting my opinions squashed by members who felt that anyone who wasn't there wiping with them on Luci was not entitled to sharing their opinion. Of course the flipside is that it is really really annoying to have someone in your guild for a week who starts telling everyone how the guild needs to change to better suit them. It is a fine line between newbie and core guild member for sure.
  • Officer Renewal Week on Daughter of Ravenholdt Manor.
    My guild holds weekly Officer meetings on Vent, but we aren't always hanging out together in game while doing them. I love the idea expressed here of the Officers hanging out doing fun retro content while talking about guild planning topics. And it also seems like a great idea to bring in Officers who run separate 10mans intot he same 10 man ICC to talk about their differing strats and why they do them, to cut down on the confusion that may ensue in 25s (or for a member who may bounce between the two raids.)
P.S. If you didn't listen live to the Twisted Nether Blogcast this week, go check it out. It features an interview with yet another one of my favorite tweeps, @WoWCynwise. I sat in the live blogosphere audience while they taped it and had a blast.

Friday Five: 5 Ways I'm Getting Ready for Cataclysm

Today's Friday Five inspired by the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic suggested by Nexdominus.

  1. With the help of guildies and some awesome WoW tweeps, I made myself a fancy bank alt guild. It also doubles as a place my Alliance friends can come hang out on new lowbie hordlings. We've got candy! And cobra pets in the bank! You know you want to reroll!
  2. I'm making myself some bags for my goblin hunter. And trying to decide what profession she'll have. I still lack a Blacksmith so that's tempting. 
  3. I've been looking into friendly places to make my worgens since I'm not sure how active my Alliance server/guild will be in the expansion. Right now it seems my entire Alliance guild (those that are left here) are on hiatus. And the server as a whole doesn't seem to be as active as my horde server is. WTB Alliance server!
  4. I cleaned out my bags across all my characters. Even the ones I don't play on my old horde server. Leveling=need moar room in bags! 
  5. Last and most expensively, I am working on maxing out all of my professions. Yes, if history is repeated, they will add some easier skill up recipes in the expansion to get folks past the last 25 or so points of their profession. But that will cost new materials that I know I will want to be spending on learning shiny new skill points above 450!

BONUS: As previously noted herein, I completed my motorbike tour of Azeroth, thus earning the World Explorer achievement. Those screenshots will get to go in the scrapbook of memories once things are torn asunder.

How about you? What're you doing to get prepared for Cataclysm?

Friday Five: Five Good WoW Deeds You Can Do Today

It's never too late to do something nice for someone else. You just might make their day! And given how many folks are in the pre-Cataclysm slump, we could all use some good cheer, yes? Luckily, it takes no more brain or physical energy to do something nice than it does to snark or bitch and moan in our blogs. And thus, I give you today's list:

  1. Add someone new to your blog roll.
    That's right. That neglected list on your blog's homepage with links to blogs that haven't updated in half a year? the one that doesn't actually reflect who you read and retweet on a regular basis? You don't have to prune the dead weight to add links to some newer reads. And it's guaranteed to bring a grin to that blogger's face the next time they visit your blog.
  2. Stop lurking! Start commenting!
    You don't even have to have something witty to say. Or anything significant to add to the conversation. Just say hello. Tell a blogger that the content made you laugh, or that you could relate. Just take the plunge and start some dialogue.
  3. Raise your hand to do something for your guild.
    By now, your officers and GM are probably wincing under the strain of burnout and could use a hand. You can volunteer to help moderate your guild forums, or to organize the bank, or schedule alt runs, or to throw a social event. Most guild leadership teams appreciate the offer of a fresh pair of hands wanting to help out. 
  4. Inject some fun into your next guild event.
    Whether you raid or hang out in a social guild, the next time you get everyone together for an event, inject some fun. Examples: set out a small feast and turn everyone tiny. Bust out those leftover Halloween wands and turn everyone into ninjas and pirates. Share your sandbox tiger toy with your group, and watch folks take turns riding that adorable playground toy. Have naked unarmed dueling matches. Start a new raiding tradition. Or just bombard people with leather balls. The point is -- try to find a way to inject some fun into the day, in a way that's true to you and the spirit of the guild.
  5. Just say yes.
    It's easier to say no when someone is asking for help in G. Or when someone suggests running a retro raid. Or doing any number of other activities that were not on your list of things you could do while standing around in Dalaran chatting. But try saying yes the next time someone asks for help or tries to get a group together to do For the Horde! You never know -- you just might even have some fun while doing it.
Happy Friday!

Small Moments: Raiding Traditions

Note: if you have never stepped foot inside of Icecrown Citadel, and would consider anything relating to the plotline therein to be a spoiler, please do not read further today as it contains a small spoiler.

  ICC Raid reduced to a herd of bouncing bunnies

It's the little things that can make or break a raid.

The guildie who turns everyone into bunnies or ninjas or pirates as you wait for your last raider to log in.

The nekkid danceparty screenshots for especially hard-won victories.

Ever since working on Chromaggus in Blackwing Lair, I've had my own small tradition: before a final or near-final boss fight, I make a basic campfire.

Back in the day that small spirit increase helped my druid eek out another few smidges of heals I'm sure. 4 1/2 years later, it helps rekindle the focus and excitement of inching closer to a kill. And it provides a great visual marker on the floor for whatever it is we're doing.

The first night we stepped foot in Icecrown citadel, however, a new tradition was born for me, due to this exchange started by Highlord Tirion Fordring:

    Highlord Tirion Fordring says: Our march upon Icecrown Citadel begins now!

    The Lich King says: You now stand upon the hallowed ground of the Scourge. The Light won't protect you here, paladin. Nothing will protect you...

    Highlord Tirion Fordring says: ARTHAS! I swore that I would see you dead and the Scourge dismantled! I'm going to finish what I started at Light's Hope.

    The Lich King says: You could've been my greatest champion, Fordring. A force of darkness that would wash over this world and deliver it into a new age of strife.

    The Lich King says: But that honor is no longer yours. Soon, I will have a new champion.
    The Lich King says: The breaking of this one has been taxing. The atrocities that I have committed upon his soul. He has resisted for so long, but he will bow down before his king soon.

    Highlord Bolvar Fordragon says: NEVER! I... I will never... serve... you.

    The Lich King says: In the end you will all serve me.

Bolvar! Here in ICC? Without thinking, in that split second, I yelled in reply: "BOLVAR! We will save you!"

And that became my rallying cry every first night in ICC, when we would hear that exchange. And finally, once we faced the Lich King, my rallying cry each night.

On the few occasions I did not make it to our weekly raid (vacation, or being sat out when we have an overflow of DPS), it got back to me that my battle cry was yelled in my stead. To say this warmed my heart immensely doesn't even begin to capture how it felt to hear that.

The night we defeated Arthas, I changed things up a bit. I said, "Bolvar! We will save you, TONIGHT!" And we did.

A small tradition, to be sure, but one that gave my raiding throughout ICC a purpose. Bolvar Fordragon had long been my most beloved hero of the Alliance, and thus inspired this small tradition, that I will remember always.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has made their own raiding traditions. What are yours?

The King is Dead! Long Live the Lich King!

Last night, after 11 raiding nights, spread out over 5-6 weeks, at a cost of about $1,000 gold to those of us who came most nights (we had a few weeks with repairs turned on which was a blessing, but this is still our RL's ballpark cost), we defeated the Lich King.With 10/10 standing for the ending which feels pretty damn impressive to me for a first kill.

This also meant I FINALLY got to experience the cut scene and the ending of the fight myself. The cinematic was a perfect end cap to the Wrathgate cinematic, and an effective closure to this expansion.

Good job Blizzard. And thank you for keeping one of my favorite characters true to himself to the very end. Sniffle. That's all I am saying about the ending and the cinematic, to avoid spoiling it for anyone. And yes, at the end of the fight, I thanked my guildies for allowing me to make it through that fight to see the conclusion myself first-hand, without having it spoiled.

The spoilers from twitterland prepared me somewhat for the ending but did not totally ruin the impact for me. So that's a good thing. And thank you for Naie after that incident for encouraging me to keep hope alive I could attain my personal goal, retaining the rallying cry I yelled every night 1 of every ICC raid we've done as a team.

It's been a long road to the Lich King. My RL just reminded me it has been 3 tanks, 5 healers, and 10 dps that participated in the learning curve from start to finish too. A huge effort. But we're done. It feels pretty amazing to actually kill the final boss of an expansion before the next expansion (or all its uber talent changes hits -- hello patch 3.0 I am looking at you.)

I took a ton of screenshots, none of which I am posting here as most are incredibly spoilerific, like this one. And I sat down on the stairs of the frozen throne for a very long time, and got screenshots there with some of my favorite raiders.

How We Stack Up

Just for fun, here are some statistics regarding our server's raiding progress, courtesy of Guild Progress:

Ranked Guilds: 310
209 Alliance 101  Horde
Icecrown Citadel 10 Boss Kills
    • Lich King 5.81%
    • Sindragosa 10.65%
    • Rescue Valithiria 18.39%
    • Blood-Queen Lana'thel 15.81%
    • Blood Prince Council 18.39%
    • Professor Putricide 19.35%
    • Festergut 39.03%
    • Rotface 33.87%
    • The Deathbringer 44.84%
    • Gunship Battle 48.71%
    • Lady Deathwhisper 49.68%
    • Lord Marrowgar 50.97%

  • Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Best/Worst Towns

    Thanks to this week's Blog Azeroth Shared Topic for giving me an excuse to share my love of Undercity.

    death knight and undead shadow priest enjoying a Love Boatr cruis through Undercity's sewers

    I know it's turning up on many folks' worst lists but I have loved the Undercity since my first trip there as a very wee undead priest back in the day.

    I love the overall Tim Burtonesque feel as I wander through the halls. I love that it's on a circular grid, making it easier to get to where you are going than Orgrimmar for instance. 

    It's a place that feels truly entrenched in the lore. Much like the Plage Lands. One of my favorite plague quests sends you back to talk to Royal Overseer Bauhaus(squee for a shout out to one of my favorite bands ever), the census taker, to try to find a restless ghost's next of kin, who turns out to be the poor sad cockroach vendor, Jeremiah.

    Add to it the subbasement level headquarters of the Royal Apothecary Society, and you have a city that truly feels like a perfect home for my forsaken ladies.

    A few things about the Undercity that you might not know, as noted in its WOWiki page:

    • There are portions of the Undercity where effects from Warcraft III were deliberately inserted into the game as ambient sounds. These areas are the throne room, the hallway directly outside of it, and even the bell tower located just at its entrance. Near the bell, you will hear the churchbells ringing when Arthas returns to Lordaeron before he becomes a death knight.
    • In the hall before the throne room, there are still scattered rose petals on the cobblestones from Arthas' return.
    • In the throne room itself, a slight trail of blood — from when Terenas' crown rolled on the floor after Arthas murdered him — can be seen near the throne. What is most chilling is that the room echoes with Arthas' own voice saying the words, "Succeeding you, father," his words before he murdered his own father.

    My only complaints are that it could really use a good tavern in the vein of Gallow's End tavern, and my poor Troll and Tauren have to dismount to use the elevator. But these are small complaints. I hope the Cataclysm changes are kind to my beloved home city.

    Alliance side, Stormwind City has long held my heart, despite my not playing any humans.

      gnome fisherwoman on the Stormwind canals fishing pier

    I love the many fishing spots along the canals, and wandering through the shops. The main bank/inn/auction house area is nice and compact. Folks always seemed to prefer Ironforge as a hub, but I love Stormwind for feeling like a city in which people actually lived, and worked, and sat around drinking beer with their buddies. You can stroll through the park, admire ships at the harbor, browse through the royal library and art gallery, or generally lose yourself in your character's thought here.

    Of all the places in the game, to me, this feels most like a real thriving capital city.

    After writing this I am struck by the fact that my two favorite cities in WoW are those with canals. I guess my love for Venice, Italy is showing through here.



    I don't want to spend a bunch of time on the worst towns, but will say these are the major cities I avoid when possible:

    • Darnassus. Everything is too spread out. It used to enrage me on my first toon, a druid, to run from the AH to the mailbox all the way at the bank and back again.
    • Exodar. I made my Draeni hustle themselves to Ironforge or Stormwind at the first opportunity. Nothing about this place made e want to stop and stay a while.
    • Thunder Bluff. I have wasted hours trying to get to the prairie dog vendor. Or to find anyone/anything here. The multi-levels always vex me. I've also never died from falling off from cliffs anywhere else.

    Friday 5: Blackwing Lair Retro Raid Edition

    I would  have loved for this to be the Kingslayer edition, but we had one healer beg off in advance (whom we replaced) and one no show after having to work late (who didn't contact us and thus for whom we waited 40 minutes), which meant no attempts were made on the Lich King last night. Our somewhat dejected band of pirates cranked through the weekly (XT) and then indulged me in something I've wanted to revisit for some time: Blackwing Lair.

    I spent months and months in there in vanilla WoW, healing on my druid, and really wanted to go back in a role that could focus on more than just the tiny health bars. I think we tore through in about 40 minutes. It was a great ending to a long, tough day.

    And thus, I bring you, 5 screenshots from BWL:   

    shadow priest in the supression room of Blackwing Lair

    shadow priest in Blackwing Lair

    shadow priest in Blackwing Lair gloating over the demise of Chromaggus
    shadow priest in Blackwing Lair calling on Lord Victor Nefarius
    shadow priest in Blackwing Lair checking out Nefarian


    Knee-deep in skelly bones...

    shadow priest in Blackwing Lair


    I managed to avoid the Lich King cut scene on the Dalaran fountain.

    I managed to avoid the comic contest spoiler.

    I managed to avoid the original MMO Champion dialogue and cut scene post spoiler.

    But in the excitement over the leaked Alpha screenshots MMO Champion posted today, I finally found out what I wanted to see for myself when we finally kill the Lich King.

    And I am bummed out.

    We got the Lich King to 32% last night. So we are very very close now.

    We go back in to see him tonight.

    But I won't be able to give my usual battle cry. because it's been spoiled for me. And it does bum me out a bit.

    Over the next 5 months or 6 months, the Internet is going to be filled with spoilers galore. And again I will implore folks to think twice about what you post that other folks can not avoid. Consider keeping your spoilers to your blogs where you can provide a spoiler alert. Twitter, alas, doesn't give folks a real opportunity to skip over the spoilers. And I for one don't want to have to stop reading twitter. So please do think twice before posting spoilers there.

    Thanks and safe travels.

    And P.S. Asros I know you didn't mean to spoil it for me.

    Lock Hits Level 70!


    Kandira was 2 bars away from 70 last night when I got pulled in to ICC 10, filling in for a raider's no show (our three standby folks had also not turned up.) Raid time was followed by dinner, then back to the Outland salt mines to finish up for the big ding.

    I dinged turning in a quest in Shadowmoon Valley, just a few minutes after completing my Outland exploration achievement. My first pit stop was my bank vault, to pullout the materials I'd been saving up for my turbo charged flyer. I was pretty close except in one area -- Khorium. Despite having mined a few nodes over the course of leveling, I had only 17 ores and had to buy the rest. OUCH! That's all we'll say about that.

    So now the little lock is almost grown up. I suspect that these last 10 levels in Northrend will take a while. I hope she won't sit out here a year like the poor neglected Alliance toons...