Previous month:
July 2012
Next month:
September 2012

August 2012

Guild Wars 2 Headstart Hiccups



As comes to a surprise to no one, I've spent the better part of the last 3 days playing in the Guild Wars 2 Headstart. Above you can see my Asura Elementalist, who is only level 15. This is due not to my lacking game time or playing too many other alts. Rather, it's a direct result of some of the hiccups the game has had since Friday night's soft launch to prepurchasers such as myself.

I was online and ready to go at 9 PT on Friday when ArenaNet brought up the servers, which impressed the heck out of me. Earlier in the week we'd heard servers might be up as early as then but I don't think anyone was expecting them to be ready to go at exactly that hour. Over Vent, I was hearing issues from a number of players regarding login troubles and guild invites not being received (or being received but they could not see themselves in the guild roster. I was happy to not have any of those issues, and to snag most of the names I wanted on my home server.

My intention had been to play until midnight with Wrenz, but the grouping/phase/overflow issues we started having almost immediately, including one that kept Wrenz from being able to move his Asura out of the initial instanced quest, and coupled with game crashing lag in the overflow KO'd that plan. Instead I set up my alts, put a few small items up  in the trading post and logged out after about an hour, planning to get in some serious crafting and exploring time over the weekend. At this point, I was just super happy that we got our characters rolled on our server before it filled up, which happened by about 9:40.

 When I logged back in on Saturday morning, I was disappointed to find that we'd ended up with a playing experience that had reverted to the issues we'd had in the first BETA weekend, rather than the smooth playing that had set the tone for the last two BETA weekend events. Specific issues that kept cropping up include:

  • Mail not reaching its recipient. Happening both if the player was online and mail was sent from the contacts window or from typing in the person's name in the mail window.
  • Trading post not available. This led to full bank and bags and my scavenging a vast number of items I would have otherwise sold on the trading post, such as blue quality gear and weapons. It also put me at a bit of an impasse with my professions, since at one point everything needed vials of blood, which I would have purchased on the trading post. Luckily for me, last night twitter came to the rescue in the form of one of my tweeps sending me a stack of blood (thanks Scott!)
  • Join in not working. This is supposed to allow you to get into the same phase/server as your party member. But I kept having it not work, or worse yet-- not show up as an option. This meant Wrenz and I, although in the same guild and on the same server and playing in the same Asura lands often could not actually play togther (or see each other in the game world tho our little dots were right next to each other on the mini map.
  • Game not sure what character I was playing. By this I mean to other players, and to my guild roster, last night, it thought I was on my level 8 Norn ranger, in Hobrek. Over the weekend it kept thinking I was on a level 2. Not only did this prevent folks from thinking I was available to play with in the area I was in, it was on these occasions that I was not able to be grouped up with. Similarly, the game kept thinking Wrenz was on his level 2 human, instead of his Asura, which is quite likely one of the causes of our grouping bugs.
  • Buggy overflow server. By midday Saturday it started to feel like there was more than overflow for the Asura starting lands on our server, since I could be in overflow playing with Wrenz, walk a few yards away then POOF! No longer be able to see him in game and vice versa without either of us having gotten a message that we'd been moved, and no ability to Join in to get back in the same phase.
  • Gathering tools gone missing. Perhaps one of the oddest bugs was last night logging in to find my elementalist was unable to gather wood due to not having any tools equipped. Having just bought her a stack of lumber axes the night before, and still having plenty mining picks, I was unsure as to what had happened with the 88+ she logged out with. I went and bought more and moved on, but it was a bit of a pain since it cost time to go to a vendor, as well as cash to travel there, the latter being in much shorter than usual supply due to the lack of the trading post.
After we got past the debilitating lag of the first night, the game was beautiful and a solo fashion. But not so much from a crafting perspective. And certainly not from the perspective of wanting to experience the first blush of this new MMO with my SO. I am bummed for the folks who got swept up in GW2 fever that prepurchased and had not had the chance to play one of the flawless BETA weekends. I've seen a number of them having already thrown up their hands and gone back to SWTOR/WoW/TSW.

Inevitably, one of you is starting to formulate your reply, along the lines of "haven't you ever been in a launch noob. you have too high of expectations." Well let me save you the trouble of typing that (it won't be unscreened if you do): I had the pleasure of playing in SWTOR's headstart this past Winter and it had absolutely none of these issues. Other than Windows barfing on my Mac keyboard a bit, it was every bit as smooth as I could have hoped.

This weekend's GW2 headstart, on the other hand, was pretty frustrating, and was more akin to some of the game breaking WoW patches and expansions (hello Burning Crusade and HFP lag of doom and rolling restarts!) of many years past. I am hoping that GW2 gets over these small hurdles quickly. The Guild Wars fans who have been waiting years for this game will put up with these issues as minor annoyances, but those who are new to the franchise might not.

Overall, I still have high hopes for this game. My Asura elementalist is adorable and I am enjoying my Norn ranger. Once I am able to fully take advantage of the trading post and get my economy mini game going, I know I'll be back on track to being the raving fan I expected to be. See you in game...

PS as always comments are screened. Rest assured constructive comments will be unscreened as soon as possible.

My Shadow Priests' Patch 5.0 Talents and Changes in Playstyle


Now that I have my glyph choices squared away, I thought it was time to share the direction I'm heading with talents for my shadow priests* since we're about to have Patch 5.0 land upon all of us, bringing us into this new talent world order.

It quite honestly feels odd, after years of playing, to have so few talents to choose from. Luckily, that marries well to the limited amount of time I've had to screw around in the BETA to see which ones I'd most like to have in the live game.

Tier 1, Level 15

Despite how tempting it would be to have a tentacle monster forest at my beck and call to root down my enemies (i.e. Void Tendrils), I went with the Psyfiend here. It's fabulous fun to have a shrieking little friend causing my enemies to flee in terror. What's not to love?

Tier 2, Level 30

Since this is my leveling build, I've gone with Phantasm. It allows you to remove damaging effects and disencumber yourself by hitting fade. The other real possibility in this tree, Angelic Feather, will go in my second build, to be invoked if I have a raid situation that needs the extra speed for allies.

Tier 3, Level 45

Given how much I love my shadowfiend, turning her into an exquisitely evil and more frequently deployable mana regen machine by choosing Mindbender was a no brainer for me.It will be interesting to see if Shadow Word: Insanity ends up being more DPS or not (that all being relative depending upon one's ability to watch DoTs and CDs and react accordingly).

Tier 4, Level 60

This tier is all about self-preservation. Since I am tired of having way too many rarely-used "oh shit" spells crowding up my bars, I went with Angelic Bulwark which will passively try to save me from anything terrible I stumble into by shielding me and regenning health.

Tier 5, Level 75

My first look at Twist of Fate was initially due to it being an old friend name and icon-wise. But it stayed in my talent tree due to it being a nice passive DPS boost on low health targets. I'll pop Power Infusion into my second shadow build, which is intended to be more suitable for raiding, as the increased haste and mana regen on demand could definitely come in handy.

Tier 6, Level 90

Since I haven't gotten to 90 in the BETA (and frankly, I don't want to ruin all the surprises or get burnt out playing at max level before Live launches), I haven't yet gotten a chance to play with these talents yet. But they seem to be pretty interchangeable from their descriptions and what I've read from other BETA-goers. I thnk I'll go with Divine Star on my leveling build and Cascade (with its higher mana cost) to my raiding build.

Changes to Shadow Priest Playstyle Along with the Patch

Give up any latent thoughts you may have of trying to keep your old rotation in the new frontier of 5.0 and beyond. It simply won't be possible. Here's why:

  • Mind Flay no longer refreshes Shadow Word: Pain. You have to manually keep an eye on it and refresh as needed.
  • Devouring Plague now requires shadow orbs instead of mana. Ideally, you'll want to wait for all 3 orbs to be present to get the most plague for your buck.
  • You build up shadow orbs through damaging targets with Mind Blast or Shadow Word: Death. The latter can generate 2 orbs if it is the killing blow on your target.

What this means for your rotation is you'll now need to keep a closer eye on your Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word Pain (my favorite DoT timer for helping with that in the past has been Need to Know) and refresh them at the last possible moment. You'll want to use Mind Blast every time it is off cooldown, Devouring Plague every time you have 3 orbs available, and fill in with Mind Flay when nothing else is up. And don't forget to deploy your Mindbender/Shadowfiend early and often. When dealing with a group of 4 or fewer mobs, you'll want to DoT with VT and SW:P and DPS down the main target, using plain old Mind Sear instead of DoTs for groups of 4 or more.

I have long loved using my Devouring Plague and being a DoT machine. But I am OK with the changes in my rotation that are coming with this patch. I'll blame that easy going stance on having been a long-time boomkin as well. Adapting to all of their changes over the years, and feeling in a way I can't quite put my finger on that this new shadow priest playstyle is more cosmicly linked to boomkininess, is giving me a purple calmness. I'm looking forward to trying out the new talents and abilities in the next few weeks on my shadow priest ladies.

See you in game!

* That's not a typo. I have a gnome and a Forsaken shdow priest at max level tyvm.

Mists of Pandaria Shadow Priest Glyphs


Believe it or not, Mists of Pandaria finally delivers upon the promise of making minor! That's right, no more removing a reagent or adding some other utility function -- you now get to pick your minor glyphs based upon what looks fun to you, not what makes the most sense for your pocketbook and bag space. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here.

First of all, there are no more Prime glyph slots. Just a total of 6 glyphs, split between major and minor. For major glyphs, shadowpriests can choose from these spec-specific glyphs:

  • Glyph of Mind Spike -- 50% reduction in cast time of your next Mind Blast for 6 sec (stacks up to 2x)
  • Glyph of Mind Blast -- 4 sec stun on target when Mindflay critically hits
  • Glyph of Dark Binding -- can cast Prayer of Mending, Renew and Leap of Faith without leaving shadowform
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death -- can cast SW:D at any time, but only does 25% damage on targets above 20% health, and casting SW:D now damages you for the amount it would for damaging a target above 20% health
  • Glyph of Psychic Horror -- reduces cooldown by 10 sec
  • Glyph of Mind Flay -- no longer slows target; instead every time it does damage your movement speed is increased 15%, stacking up to 3x
  • Glyph of Vampiric Embrace -- converts an additional 50% of the damage you do into healing but reduces the duration by 5 sec

For leveling, I've chosen to go with Glyph of Dark Binding, Glyph of Mind Flay and Glyph of Mind Blast. I have to say I am not super enamored with the Mind Flay so if I find need for dispersion at 90, I may swap to that instead. I will also swap out the dark binding for Mind Spike at 90. If none of the above shadow specific glyphs appeal to you, you can choose from a glyph that buffs one of your utility spells. See Wowhead's full list of Priest Glyphs for details.

Minor glyphs of interest include:

I will give you one guess as to which glyph I will equip first...Of course I have always wanted little shadowy friends! And then there's the shadow ravens! How many times did I remark here and on twitter how shadow priests needed shadow ravens? TOO MANY TIMES! It's like playtime for Anexxia with those two combined. Though I should not that the shadow ravens do not have as much visible time as I would like. And some of my noncombat pets are not as awesome in shadowform as regular form. Hmmmph. So, I am most likely looking at Glyph of Confession, Glyph of Shadow Ravens and glyph of dark archangel, with bouts of Glyph oh Shadowy friends.

What's interesting to me, is none of these feel yet like "must take" glyphs, unlike previous go rounds with glyphs. It will be interesting to see if that is born out once the game hits live.

Getting Started with Guild Wars 2


...a.k.a. Tips and Tricks for Players New to Guild Wars, With Other MMO Baggage

I resemble that above aside. Having played World of Warcraft for years, then becoming completely immersed in SWTOR, I have a lot of game mechanics and world logic baggage that I carried with me into Tyria -- but you don't have to! I've compiled the below as a guide to all the things you'll need to know and keep in mind as you start your adventures. And I hope to see some additions or questions from you in the comments...

Character Creation

  • Be mindful in answering your alignment questions. The way in which you answer the questions that come up after you've chosen your profession and customized your character will determine key parts of your story. If you end up playing more than one character of the same race, be sure to mix up your answers to provide some variation in your story.
  • Spend some time playing with dye color combinations for your starter gear set. These combinations will automatically be applied to new pieces of gear you equip as you go along (though you can go in and change the colors later.)

Your First Steps Into the World

  • Build up your weapon skills, one at a time, before venturing out too far into the world. Unlike other games, your weapon skills will vary by weapon type, and are learned via using the weapon in combat. You'll want to use your first weapon until you learn all the skills associated with it, then swap to your next available weapon once you have it. Note that each time you swap in a previously unused weapon type, you will start with only 1 weapon skill unlocked and have to grind out the remaining skills. The good news is you can do this on lower level mobs. The very best place is in the instanced starter zone.  Very low health mobs that die in 3 hits, and actually give quite a bit of XP.  You can even have a friend mail that toon all the starter weapons if you want to unlock them all.
  • You can buy inexpensive starter weapons from vendors or in the auction house. To preview the skills that accompany each weapon type, to help you decide which weapon you may want to  try out next, go to your Hero tab (h) and choose the skills and traits tab, then weapon skills.
  • Get accustomed to dodging attacks in addition to standing your ground to fight mobs. Unlike many other MMOs where you primarily stand your ground and fight, it's very helpful to actively try to move yourself out of the way of attacks, lest you be smashed into the ground like a bug. You can double-tap a movement key (WASD) to dodge out of the way, or you can keybind your dodge. And also be sure to use line-of-sight and kiting to your advantage to avoid for taking on more damage than you can survive.
  • Check your email often. You can pick up mail wherever you are in the world by clicking on your mail icon in your top navbar. After completing quests, you may receive a mail with some cash from an NPC you assisted. Be sure to click the "take all" button in your mail window to recover the items or gold attached to your mail messages.
  • Spend your karma points on item upgrades versus stockpiling karma. You'll find karma vendors while you are out questing-- be sure to take a look at what they have for sale, and spend your karma points with them to keep upgrading your gear as you go along.

Transportation and Navigation

  • Unlock every waypoint you see on your map (marked with a blue square). Waypoints are your primary mode of transportation around the map.
  • If you die, you'll need to rez at your nearest waypoint. Most unfortunately, this will cost you some of your gold. If you are very lucky, and you die in the midst of an event, you may be rezzed by a friendly player, but don't count on it!
  • Maps have multiple levels. If you can't seem to find the point you are looking for, check out other map layers to find your way to the point of interest. This especially holds true in the often multi-leveled cities.
  • Look for hearts on your map to figure out where to quest next. Hearts indicate there is a quest you can undertake in a specific area. To uncover hearts in a new unexplored area, talk to a scout (marked with binoculars on your map.) Upon completing a quest, you will receive some amount of gold and XP.
  • Look for orange skulls or other icons with an orange circle around them. These indicate areas with dynamic events that are currently in progress. You will get karma for completing these activities, with your reward (gold, XP, karma) depending upon your amount of effort on the task/boss kill relative to the other players taking part in it. Sometimes an additional dynamic event will spawn after the completion of another dynamic event so it can pay to stick around for a minute afterwards to see if there is a part two in which you can participate.
  • Look for overlapping red triangles for points with a pretty view of the area. These triangles indicate a vista point. Upon reaching the point, often through some jumping or tree climbing, you will be rewarded with a cinematic and a nice place in which to take a screenshot.
  • Instant waypoint travel via party chat. When out in the world with a group, you can shift-click on a waypoint to link it in chat.  You party members can double-click that link to travel directly to the waypoint.  Very handy for corralling a large group. (ty Manglehaft!)

Crafting, Gathering and Auctioneering

  • No one can steal "your" gathering node. All players in the area with the appropriate gathering item (mining axe, logging axe, harvesting sickle) can tap a node. No more trading off with your party mates or seething in nerd rage over other players tapping a node while you're fighting the beasts that are guarding it!
  • The gathering tools are consumables that must be equipped, not permanent. Make sure to buy more from your friendly junk vendors whenever you are running low. And keep an eye on what you are harvesting-- as you move into higher level areas, you will need a better quality tool to gather successfully.
  • Gathering gives a significant XP boost. Our friend @zerena_hoofs accidently tested this in the last bwe; she didn’t buy tools, and by level 11 was two levels behind everyone else, the only variable being her not gathering. (thanks to Manglehaft for this reminder.)
  • Always keep salvage kits in your bags. Available for purchase from various city merchants, these kits are used to break down armor and weapons into crafting materials. This is a great way to cear out your bag slots of old or unsaleable gear you pick up, and generating crafting materials for your use or for sale in the Black Lion Trading Company auction house.
  • Right click on crafting materials to deposit them in your bank. Unrefined crafting materials can be deposited to your bank from anywhere you are in the world by right clicking and choosing "Deposit collectible." There is an option on the top right of the bag menu that allows you to “deposit all collectables” in two clicks (thanks Manglehaft and Psynister for the deposit all tip!)
  • You can sell and purchase items from the auctionhouse from anywhere in the world. However, to pick up the proceeds of an auction house sale, or an item you have purchased, you need to go to an auctioneer and pick it up from the pickup window.
  • You must be standing next to a crafting station to craft items. The crafting station window will also provide access to your bank so you can easily pull out items you need. If you run out of crafting materials for an item you are trying to make, you can right click on that item to search for it in the auction house. You will however have to go pick it up at the aucitoneer.
  • Keep your bags partially empty while crafting. Your crafted items have to go somewhere! You can either salvage them to recover some of the materials after you've made the item for a skill-up, or you can right click and sell them in the auciton house.
  • Pick your price for buying and selling. When looking to purchase an item, you can either buy a listed item or put in a bid for X amount of those items at your desired price. Similarly, if you have an item you'd like to sell, you can either meet or beat the list price for others of those items on the auction house, or if there are outstanding orders for those items at a specific price, you can choose to sell immediately to that buyer.
  • When pricing an item for sale, keep in mind that the auction house takes a 15% cut.


  • You can not mail items to yourself. To send an alt an item, you will either need to deposit it in the bank (your bank is account-wide not character specific) or mail it to a friend with whom you are questing.
  • You can not trade items with others. Instead you have to mail it to them. It's usually pretty fast, but still not the instant gratification of opening a trade window.
  • You're visible to folks who have you friends listed, regardless of which character you're on. This is nice for not having to keep track of altoholic friends. However, note that when you message someone in game, they'll just see the name of whatever character you're on, not your name, and may in fact have no idea who you are. Luckily, if you want some alone gaming time, you can make yourself show as invisible, as though you are not online, on the login screen.
  • Shift+click to link an item in chat.
  • No one can steal your quest mob/loot. As long as you do some damage to a mob, you will attain credit for the kill, and have your own loot assigned. Note that if you are in a party, your party may still have to roll against each other for loot.
  • Turn on auto loot. Go to general options + interactions and check the auto loot button.

How the Mists of Pandaria BETA Renewed my Interest in WoW


I've been on a World of Warcraft hiatus this year. No one was surprised to see it coming, including me, given my responses to my own 2011Year in WoW review. But I kept an eye out for BETA information of interest, and still read BETA related posts that came across my twitter feed. At about the time pet battles were implemented into the BETA, my interest in the changes, and the new content, reached a fever pitch and I happily was given a BETA key (thank you again @Krizhek!) with which to play and see if my love for WoW would be rekindled. And it was.

Of course, my love for my shadow priest Anexxia confounds the empirical evidence on this mind you. She's my favorite MMO character of all time. And I missed her. So she does give me somewhat purple-tinted glasses for the expansion.

That said, however, poking around and exploring all the new areas, and fishing up the many fish that reside there, learning Pandaren cooking, and even getting started with my own Tiller's kitchen garden got me really revved up about playing WoW again. So much so that I reactivated my live account to start looking around for some new active guilds in which to play. Because I want to be ready to go when the pre-expansion activities hit.

I think the key to what grabbed me in the expansion, in addition to missing playing my shadow priest, is how so many of the little things I enjoyed doing (fishing, cooking, collecting mini pets) now are such a bigger part to the game (or better integrated with each other in the case of the cooking/fishing/gardening.) I am not sure that I will even roll a monk at all, but I will definitely have a blast making my way through all of the new scenery in Pandaria.

What about you-- are you planning to play once the expansion hits?

Getting Ready for Guild Wars 2: Required Reading

Now that we've entered the final countdown to Guild Wars 2's release, it's time to start thinking through your plans for launch (and headstart.) And I've found a few great resources to help you get started...

Planning Your Cash Shop Spend

Picking Your Profession

  • Guild Wars 2 Hub's Profession Guides. Nice overview of each profession's playstyle, list of weapons you can use, and tips for each class.  
  • GW2DB Skills list. Now, if you want to start getting into the nitty gritty of the skills available to your profession with each weapon, you'll want to spend some time poking around Zam's database. Here's the elementalist skills list as an example.


  • The official wiki is your best source for accurate and comprehensive crafting information. You can get an overview of crafting and then dive in to detailed crafting materials information.
  • IGN's GW2 Wiki has a nice crafting section, including recommendations for which professions are best suited to which crafting skills.

And after today's stress test, I'll be back soon with my getting started guide...

I'm a Boomkin Biker Babe, Don't 'ya Know It!

Badass Boomkin Biker babe
Badass Boomkin Biker babe

In perhaps one of my most significant BETA findings to date, I've discovered that my boomkin is now able to ride her mounts whilst in Boomkin form!

That's right -- your eyes are not deceiving you.

And it's not limited to ground mounts either. Here I am on my Headless Horseman's Mount:


And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

xo Anexxia