Darkmoon Island: Fun for All Levels

Psychocandy in druid T2 with her My Little Seapony

I spent some time tooling around on Darkmoon Island this past Sunday, running errands for some carnies and fishing up a storm. the fishing is what netted me the Sea Pony vanity pet you see in the screenshot above. It too fewer than 50 casts off the coast (both in and outside of wreckage pools) to catch this guy. I obtained my second sea pony, on my Forsaken shadow priest, in a scant 12 casts. But in contrast, my gnomey shadow priest fished the coast off and on for several hours (while I baked cookies) and never saw a sea pony land in her bags.

The sea pony fishing wasn't the only excuse to bust out my mad professional skills on the island however-- there are quests you can complete for all flavors of professions, netting you some rep with the Faire, plus prize tickets and cash or XP depending upon your level. Some of the professional quests will require that you bring some supplies with you (or head out the portal to your staging area at the end of the dock to go grab some.) Thus I started bringing my stack of flour with me on all my chefs, and blue dye/red dye/simple thread on my tailors.

One of the more silly but fun aspects were the many new World event achievements the Faire brought with it, including the "I was Promised a Pony" achievement. As seen below, there are some ponies you can abscond with and ride around the island on for a bit. And who doesn't like ponies?? EVERYBODY likes ponies. But I digress.

The Faire also hands out some quests that involve incenting you to grind mobs complete Battlegrounds and Dugneons back on the continents. Thus, even though there is a little bit of a grind involved if you plan to save up your tickets to purchase some of the fabulous prizes (which include mounts and vanity pets, heirlooms, and replica tier gear) they actively aim to make it feel less grindy than Firelands for instance. Somehow I doubt I will return to the Faire to play the games very often, or complete the in game challenges to rack up the tickets for even one pet, but it was a nice day's excursion to bring out my favorite toons to go see.

  My Little Gnome Pony!

Transmogrification: Validation for a Game Lifetime of Being a Pack Rat!

Psychocandy in her full 8-pieces of Druid T2, with Onyxia Scale Cloak and Shadow Wing Focus Staff

As recently noted, transmogrification was the #1 thing I was looking forward to in Patch 4.3 which dropped this week. Thus it should come as no surprise that when I finally logged in to WoW, post-SWTOR BETA weekend, that the first activity on my agenda (and my only activity thus far) was to get my transmogrifitcations in order.

My first order of business was my druid, Candy. At one point, all of her bank bags, plus two of her personal bags were stuffed full of old gear and vanity pets. Eventually, our pets went into the Companion tab, which meant she was able to hoard even more gear and tabards. I considered her full set of Tier 1, and the T2 recolored set from BC heroics, but settled on her full set of T2. In addition to loving its look, it was a minor miracle to have collected all 8 pieces at level (only 1 other druid on our team also got all 8 pieces, my friend El.). My vanilla WoW raiding days were definitely the high point for my druid, so I love that she is now able to forever memorialize that moment in time.

Snakedriver in her Frozen Shadoweave set with the Staff of Infinite Mysteries

Next up: my gnome shaodw priest Snake. She was born a Draenei at the dawn of the Burning Crusade. And as soon as she hit max level, she was tapped by her friends and family guild to start coming to the weekly Karazhan raids. Everyone wanted her OP replenishment and healing powers. I still remember the night the Staff of Infinite Mysteries dropped for her. I couldn't stop grinning for a solid hour. It totally made the outfit. "...the Menagerie is for guests only..."

Anexxia not wearing her shiny halo because it has gone missing

My beloved shadow priest Anexxia, however, did not have a similar happy transmogrification story to share. Her bank is somehow a mess of mismatched helms and shoulders, one dress, and a few other misc bits. But most importantly, her halo is missing. That's right-- my most favorite piece of her gear, which I have posed with in numerous costumes/dress up screenies-- POOF! To say that this deflated my transmogrification high would be accurate. I poked around, and settled on an outfit, but I am not happy with it. I wanted the halo. I've put in a ticket asking to have the item restored, but given my recent track record with GM requests, I won't hold my breath.

How about you -- how has your transmogrification been going?

Friday Five: Five Things I am Most Looking Forward to in Patch 4.3

I'll get to always be a dark angel!

Like many World of Warcraft players, I am ready for something new to do in game. And since I am no longer raiding, I've had to look to a number of other small things to keep me engaged, including looking ahead to what patch 4.3 will bring us. Here are the five that I'm most excited about:

  1. Transmogrification. First and foremost I am thrilled I will get to wear my halo and wings always, and be my most angelic shadowy self all the time, not just for Hallow's End costume contests! Still undecided on felhunter on a stick or bat wing staff...
  2. Northrend/Outlands leveling streamlinging. Yes I do still have a few newish alts I am pushing through the levels. I'm happy to hear that questgivers have been moved into Outland and Northrend dungeons, in addition to many of the group quests now being soloable, and a 33% decrease in XP needed to move through those areas on the way to level 80.
  3. Holiday pets will no longer be soulbound. No more deleting duplicate pets your alt keeps winning while your poor main, the pet collector, never is able to beat the RNG...
  4. New Darkmoon Fair pets. When am I not excited about more pets?
  5. Bag Search. A search field has been added to allow players to search bag, bank, guild bank, and Void Storage inventories for specific items. This is a huge help for those messier than average guild banks that are out there.

What are YOU most looking forward to in Patch 4.3?

Friday Five: Five Dreamy Additions to the Darkmoon Faire

We goblins have high hopes for this new Darkmoon Faire Isle

In Patch 4.3 the Darkmoon Fair stops being that traveling caravan of carnies and gets its own permanent year-round home. Now that they're putting their roots down, I have some thoughts for a few Faire additions to give it that immersive good 'ole Fair time feeling:

  1. A rodeo. Preferably one wherein your entire guild can take part in various vehicle-based challenges in an arena full of your favorite friends and frenemies.
  2. An Old Tyme Photo Studio. With dress-up outfits and the ability to include your BFF, with the resulting screenie mailed to you in game and to your battlenet email address.
  3. Crafter's Corner. Any good fair has a hall of crafting, showing off the handicraft skills of the local citizens. Seeing as how the Darkmoon Faire is run by goblins, there needs to be some profit in it though. That's why this crafting hall should have all manner of rare patterns, AND commemorative plaques with the names of your server's crafters of truly rare items.
  4. Coin Toss. But instead of the traditional mugs and glassware, have vanity pets or vanity gear as what you're shooting for.
  5. Vanity Pet Parade. What's a fair without a 4-H show? Since we can't raise our own cows and bunnies, we could instead have denizens sign up to have a pet show.

If you had your say, what would you add to the Darkmoon Faire?

Friday Five: Five Patch 4.1 Favorite Things

My Druid's got Legs...the new Outlands Children's Week pet!

It takes more than a week for me to settle into a new content patch. And in the case of the past two weeks, I've had not nearly enough time to dive in to what the patch has to offer. But I do have a solid five favorites to share with you today:

  1. New Children's week pets!
    In addition to this adorable spindly creature, from the Outlands orphan scavenger hunt quest chain, you can get a snail pet from the Azeroth quest chain. And allegedly, you can finally get the Northrend pet you didn't choose the first time (I've not had the opportunity to actually DO that yet, so we'll see.)
  2. The triumphant return of mind sear!
    Mind sear, no longer the shadow priest's practical joke for the damage meters. Not quite at its WotLK peak #s, but a damn fine improvement. I actually bust it out again now. And have hit 40k #s on select 5-man trash. This is highly acceptable. And awesome.
  3. New cooking and fishing dailies!
    Some of them are pretty creepy, like the one wherein my druid was attacked by crawdads, thanks to some foul-smelling dwarven beauty cream. I like having a variety of new quests to choose from, and that we can do them in places other than the two cities that we've been hunkered down in since Deathwing singed the world.
  4. More Vanity pets!
    Not one, but TWO kitties, seen here. And many more new pets to come. It's starting to make that 125 pet goal on Candy and Anexxia not seem *quite* so crazy. Sorta. ;p
  5. New 5-man content!
    ZG was one of my favorite all-time raids, and ZA was a place only my mage ever got to raid ("Please?? Please bring your mage? We really need a good cc'er...please bring your mage??"), so it's cool to see them turned into 5-mans. I'll be happier once this content is more easily PUGgable on all my servers. Right now, it truly depends on if you have a raid-geared healer and tank who are able to think critically about the encounters. So far, I've PUG'd ZG and mostly 1-shot the bosses, and had a ZA that couldn't get past the Eagle boss. But I know it will get easier for folks eventually.

BONUS Five: Regaining the feeling that I can pick a capitol city other than Orgrimmar or Stormwind to call home.

What  have been your favorite 4.1 changes or additions?

Friday Five: The Five Patch Changes to Which I am Most Looking Forward

shadow priests eyes magmaw, and suddenly realizes she is not sure where her shadowfiend has run off to

Have you been eagerly lapping up the revised 4.0.6 patch notes as they are released by the devs? I know I have. Here are the five that I'm most excited about so far:

  1. WHAT: The guild reward Armadillo Pup now requires revered faction instead of exalted.
    WHY I CARE: I have a pet collector with 100+ pets horde-side and Alliance-side. They both want this pet, and having to wait until I slowly and painfully leveled them each to exalted (slowed by the fact that I also have alts to play and level) would have been torture.
  2. WHAT: The night elf racial trait Shadowmeld can now be used while shapeshifted.
    WHY I CARE: It's rare that I am standing around in night elf form when I need to stop drop and roll off some aggro and hide.
  3. WHAT: Mount Up: This guild perk now applies to Flight Form and Swift Flight Form as well.
    WHY I CARE: I don't fly around on mounts on my druids b/c it's a lot prettier and more efficient for skinning to be in flight form.
  4. WHAT: Mind Sear can now be channeled on friendly targets in addition to enemy targets. In addition, Mind Sear's damage has been increased by roughly 15%.
    WHY I CARE: In its current state I rarely bother to use mind sear, my formerly most beloved spell. Its damage is too wimpy and it doesn't damage the target I am channeling it on. Thank you Blizz for realizing this spell was over-nerfed, and giving us back an AOE.
  5. WHAT: The number of herbs required to create flasks has been reduced, while the Volatile Life needed has been increased slightly.
    WHY I CARE: I like to be prepared when I go to raids. And it sucks to blow a flask that takes @250g worth of mats for 30 minutes of attempts in the final countdown of a raid. this will make it a little less painful.

What change has gotten you the most excited?

Friday Five: Patch 4.0.1 Edition


Ah yes, the Patch she has arrived. And thus I bring you today's 5:

  1. Least Surprising Post-Patch Nerf: Shadow Word: Death.
    Remember how I wasn't convinced that spamming the heck out of SW:D was really going to be a viable tactic? Blizz agreed that they'd never intended SW:D to be the shadow priest's highest DPS spell, and quietly beat it down with the nerf bat within about 24 hours.
  2. My Favorite Spell Change: One Telescoping Button for Portals and Teleports.
    Whenever my mage sphere mod would break, the loss of 1-button access to my portals and teleports is what I usually missed most. Thank you Blizz for finally giving us 1-touch access to portals and teleports instead of forcing us to eat up another row of buttons/cast bars with them.
  3. My favorite UI Change: The Much Improved Companion Pets Tab.
    When you have 100+ pets, it can be hard to remember which little white cage has which pet inside. Or where exactly some of the pets are filed. The magnificent changes to the companion pet UI solve that -- they now spell out the names of the pets in each tab and give you an animated preview of them when selected.
  4. Most Fun Class I Play Now: Boomkin.
    Pew pew pew! /boomkin happy dance. They've already started in on the nerfs (insect swarm was the first spell hit), but having one day wherein my Alliance druid handily out DPS'd my much better geared shadow priest was a giggle.
  5. Most Bizarre Patch Bug: Amazing Appearing Tabards.
    Not just on your login screen -- but in game as well. Characters that have never donned a tabard and don't have one equipped in game are still showing up as wearing one. Weird, and apparently fixed by equipping a tabard, but a bug nonetheless. Less annoying than the launcher screen BOOM! Significantly less annoying than enchanting items and seeing "Item not yet modified" on my screen when in fact the item has been enchanted.

Which patch changes are you enjoying thus far?

My Shadow Priest's Planned Patch Day Build and Glyphs


Since I've been able to do some playing around on the PTR, I have my plans solidified for my talents and glyphs when the patch comes out in the next week or so. These choices are for being raid-ready at 80. I'll certainly change things up for my off-spec and for leveling when the expansion drops on December 7.


As of the patch, you'll get three glyphs each for your prime, major and minor glyph slots.


  • Dispersion
    Reduces the cooldown on Dispersion by 45 sec.
  • Shadow Word: Pain
    Increases the periodic damage of your Shadow Word: Pain by 10%.
  • Mind Flay
    Increases the damage done by your Mind Flay spell by 10% when your target is afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain.

I know that Blizz wants us to move SW:Death back into our rotation, but until I actually see in action that I am using it enough to warrant its glyph, I'm choosing SW:P over it. In BC, when it was part of my rotation, I still don't think it got enough use that I would pick decreasing its cooldown over something else. And if you are spamming it trying to get those juicy big crits at the 25% and under health levels, well you'd better have a healer keeping an eye on you unless you enjoy floor hugging.


  • Spirit Tap
    When you kill a target with your Shadow Word: Death and yield experience or honor, you instantly receive 12% of your total mana over 12 sec.
  • Psychic Scream
    Targets of your Psychic Scream spell now tremble in place instead of fleeing in fear, but the cooldown of Psychic Scream is increased by 3 sec.
  • Fade
    Reduces the cooldown of your Fade spell by 9 sec.

Despite not thinking I'll be using SW:D a ton, the Spirit Tap glyph seems like a good buy (especially since there aren't a ton of other glyphs in this range that I am dying to use.) The psychic Scream glyph rocks for providing PvE priests the ability to use Fear in a raid setting without sending off its targets to go find new friends. Huzzah! And given my love for using my Fade button, that glyph is also a no-brainer.


  • Fortitude
    Reduces the mana cost of your Power Word: Fortitude spell by 50%.
  • Levitate
    Your Levitate spell no longer requires a reagent.
  • Shadow Protection
    Increases the duration of your Shadow Protection spell by 10 min.

Nothing to see here. Pick your favorite boring old minor glyphs. These are the ones I've used since the dawn of inscription.


I've used MMO Champion's talent calculator to show my build. Basically, you go through the Shadow tree, minus the stun for Mind Blast and the psychic horro and sience points, then put your remaining points into Discipline.


(NOTE: Now that you get your talent points every other level, you can't spend that next point in Discipline until you hit 81.)


I'm not set on my rotation at this point. And from all the nerding back and forth on, I don't know that anyone else is yet either. But this is what I am looking at:

SW:P > DP > VT > SW:D > MB> MF

Then wait for the MB and SW:D CDs to be back up, and refreshing DoTs as needed. Toss out your shadowfiend whenever the CD is available, starting when you are down 25% mana or thereabouts. If it's a short fight, you may want to lead with it for pure DPS boost.


The current talk is that mastery becomes better than crit and haste only at the point that you have 1400 of each of them. Which I, not having any heroic gear, certainly do not have. So at this point, I won't be worrying about it, other than as a way to manage my hit rating. Basically, 40% of the following stats on a piece of gear may be reforged into any stat not currently present on that piece of gear:

  • Critical Strike Rating
  • Dodge Rating
  • Expertise Rating
  • Haste Rating
  • Hit Rating
  • Mastery Rating
  • Parry Rating
  • Spirit

Overall it's looking like our 4.0.1 gear stat priority would be: Intellect > Haste > Crit > Spirit > Mastery (at hit cap) or  Hit > Intellect > Haste > Crit > Spirit > Mastery (until hit cap)

For Further Patch Related Reading


Are You Checking Out Patch 4.0.1 on the PTR?

my PTR baby druid

Thanks to our easily exciteable kittens, I was up bright and early Sunday morning, and decided to give the PTRs a spin. They just went live this weekend with the 4.0.1 build that introduces the many UI and talent changes they've been working on for Cataclysm.

I uploaded a request to copy over a couple of my characters to the PTRs, but since the estimated wait was 4 days, rolled myself this baby druid to check things out.

The first thing I was struck with, other than the proliferation of little white tiger cats running around, was that I came into the world with Wrath on my bar, and had enough mana to use it like crazy. I admit I pinched myself to see if I'd fallen asleep and entered dreamland. But no, Blizz is actually making it possible for those of us who like to level our characters up as casters to be able to do so without a bottomleess bag full of beverages.


I should note that I chose to go in while I was just ad the "available" stage of my PTR download, which means it had a ways to go before being completed. Overall, in the lowbie area, this had little affect on my playing, though I could tell at least once when I was getting a just in time download. The opening cinematic started with a long black screen and stuttered midway through, presumably also due to my choosing to play before the download was complete. Pretty minor issues though, which makes me hopeful they've found a good way for breaking up the patch files so the least-likely to encounter data files are the last to download, and thus speeding up the patching process for everyone.

It was moderately annoying, however, that after crashing out on the PTR, and relaunching, I was confronted with needing several additional hours of downloading before being able to play again. That was a bummer and put a crimp in my leveling explorations.

Trainer Upcoming Spells Available to You

Some of the best UI changes are around the management of spells. The above window shows my druid trainer's menu clearly showing my next trainable spell and its cost. No more clicking on a spell name in a long list to see when it will be available. Including its icon is a nice touch for those of us who are visual learners.

Similarly, I will never hustle myself back to the trainer to train some spell I couldn't care less about -- when you advance a level, you get both a tell and a big splash across your screen that tells you that a new spell is now available to you:

At level five, I ran myself up to Dolanaar and checked my mail to retrieve my BOA pets (only two of whom showed up-- eeep!)  Which brings me to the many changes with the talent and spellbook interfaces.


When playing a new class, such as me playing my baby warlock, you can feel clueless as to when some of your signature abilities are trainable. Well no longer -- your spellbook can tell you. Your spellbook used to be a rarely visited place, sought out when pulling out a rarely used spell for a boss mechanic. But now, it shows you all the spells you have to look forward to training -- and notes at wht level you attain them.

You'll notice a few more tabs on your spellbook now -- companions and pets are no longer a part of the character interface -- they are subtabs of your spellbook, and have also gotten an overhaul.


No more peering at page after page of 12 tiny icons and trying to remember which speckled egg summons which companion pet. Now your pet UI clearly states the pet name next to its icon and pops up a picture of it in action if you select it from the menu. Necessary change on Blizzard's part? Certainly not. But does it make me happy with my 100+ pets on two toons? You bet it does!

 Last night, I was able to get on and briefly play around with my shadow priest and my boomkin, and respec them. I think I actually giggled when my eclipse proc made my nature spell buttons sparkly. It felt really weird to be confronted with the new talent UI though. I was not prepared.


I'm a cuddly and adorable Forsaken shadow priest! Who're you calling a sinister shadow magic user? *cough*



It was weird to start at this screen then be shown only one tree until I'd met my 31-point quota. I spent those points, then moved over to the discipline tree, easily filling in my remaining 5 talents. It didn't really feel like I made many choices, mind you. Mainly "Silence, y/n/murloc", and "less dmg to self? y/n" The boomkin tree was more problematic, and made me feel as though I sometimes was forced to choose talents I didn't really care 
to get down the tree to the stuff I wanted.

Overall though, no great dramas with the new talents. I can't wait to try things out on more than just target dummies.

I leave you with this beautiful scene, of a Darnassus without water, where boats float in mid air. Saefe travels!

3.3.3 Patch Day To Do List


 The first thing I am doing once our servers are up and stable-ish this evening is going shopping. That's right. SHOPPING. 

First, I plan to go visit Frozo the Renowned in the Dalaran Magus Commerce Exchange. He wants to trade us our hard won Frozen Orbs for crafting materials:

6 orbs buys you 1 Crusader Orb
6 orbs buys Tailors the Pattern: Frosty Flying Carpet
4 orbs buys you 1 Runed Orb
Single orbs may be turned in for 1 each of any of the following:

  • Eternal Fire
  • Eternal Earth
  • Eternal Water
  • Eternal Air
  • Eternal Life
  • Eternal Shadow
  • Frost Lotus

Next up, I am going to get cracking on some of the crafting I've put off for my druid and mage alts. These Ulduar patterns all had their crafting materials reduced:

Belt of Arctic Life - Heavy Borean Leather x 4, Arctic Fur x 3, Runed Orb x 6
Belt of Dragons - Arctic Fur x 3, Icy Dragonscale x 20, Runed Orb x 6
Blue Belt of Chaos - Arctic Fur x 3, Nerubian Chitin x 20, Runed Orb x 6
Boots of Living Scale - Arctic Fur x 3, Jormungar Scale x 20, Runed Orb x 6
Boots of Wintry Endurance - Arctic Fur x 3, Icy Dragonscale x 20, Runed Orb x 6
Death-warmed Belt - Arctic Fur x 3, Eternal Shadow x 4, Runed Orb x 6
Footpads of Silence - Arctic Fur x 3, Eternal Shadow x 2, Runed Orb x 6
Lightning Grounded Boots - Arctic Fur x 3, Icy Dragonscale x 20, Runed Orb x 6

Cord of the White Dawn - Moonshroud x 8, Runed Orb x 6
Sash of Ancient Power - Spellweave x 4, Ebonweave x 4, Runed Orb x 6
Savior's Slippers - Moonshroud x 8, Runed Orb x 6
Spellslinger's Slippers - Spellweave x 4, Ebonweave x 4, Runed Orb x 6

Note that you can expect to see the cloth prices drop as well, now that the cooldown for making specialty cloth (Ebonweave, Moonshroud and Spellweave) has been removed. Ditto for Smelt Titansteel no longer having a transmutation cooldown. I now have very little excuse for the next alt (the level 50 baby warlock) not being pretty well turned out when she eventually hits 80.

Other Patch Notes Highlights

Culling of Stratholme: Players may now skip the initial introduction dialog to this dungeon once they have completed it at least once. PRAISE BE! Because I don't always need to AK and make a sandwich when I get this as my random dungeon and have been there far too many times to be captivated by the talky talk talk.

Balance Druid changes:

  • Nature's Grasp: Now has 3 charges, up from 1.
  • Starfall: Te damage done by this spell has been significantly increased.
  • Typhoon: Mana cost reduced to 25%, down from 32%.

Elemental Shaman changes:

  • Flame Shock: The damage-over-time component of this ability can now produce critical strikes and is affected by spell haste.
  • Elemental Oath: This ability is now always on as a passive aura.

The "Monsterbelly Appetite" daily fishing quest has changed so it now takes place outside the Violet Hold in Dalaran. The quest still requires a Severed Arm and has been renamed to "Disarmed!"


Most recipes that required 2 inks now only require 1.

And finally, one item that scares me:

Quests: Many quests which require vehicles have had their vehicle mechanics updated and improved in the interest of fun.

Why does this scare me? because of how buggy so many of the vehicle quests have been. I will cross my fingers we make it through with all the vehicles still working as intended despite being refreshed for more fun.

Happy Patch Day!

Friday Five: Patch 3.3.3 Edition

  1. New Pets! Celestial Dragon, and reskinned rocket bot and racer pets for sell from the toy shop too.
  2. Jewelcrafting now with fewer chalcedonys needed for dailies!
  3. Overcloaks so you can stay classy and cover your assets while not having to look at your super awesome stats tablecloth looking cloaks.
  4. Cloth and Titansteel cooldowns are going away.
  5. Lazy fisherpeople such as myself will now be able to find severed arms within the confines of Dalaran, giving us yet another thing we can do while waiting for raid invites.

Of course, the highlight of my week was my new windrider cub. whoo hoo! What made your week? And what are you looking forward to in Patch 3.3.3?

Happy Friday!

Keeping it to Yourself: Lich King Edition

I've previously made the case for keeping Patch 3.3 Spoiler Free. And I have been happy to have kept myself in the cone of silence until I was able to see things for myself. But yesterday's buzz over the data mining of the Lich King cinematic makes it a good time to revisit the topic.

As soon as I started seeing the twitter buzz, I made my plea:

internets plz 2b keeping your lich king spoilers clearly marked so peeps don't get spoiled not by choice.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Re-Tweeted a few times. It's nice to know I'm not the only one who wants to experience Arthas 1st hand when we eventually get to him. I wouldn't have watched a Sephiroth FFVII spoiler back in the day either. I don't shake my Christmas presents to try to guess what they might be. I don't read the final page of a novel first. I do like for a few things to be in the moment surprises.

First of all a big THANK YOU! to MMO Champion and WoW Insider for keeping their article headlines, which show up on feed readers all around the Web, clearly marked as containing spoilers inside, and not hinting at what they might entail.

I can totally understand the curiosity about what's going to happen next, and that some folks want to know now. I don't care if others ant the spoilers; I just hate when I get them not by choice. I'd like to think folks don't purposefully spoil stuff for others, rather that they get caught up and spill the beans. But the same way you wouldn't blab the ending of a new movie or the seasonal finale of LOST this year if you are on the East Coast to everyone, if you choose to read the spoilers, please think twice before sharing them some place the unwary can't avoid them.

GOOD: Behind an LJ Cut, behind a blog cut tag with lots of SPOILER! copy around it. BAD: On twitter, in guild chat, in various and sundry WoW chat channels. MARVELOUS: the #wrongspoilers the tweeps I follow were posting last night. Not only did a number of them make me LOL, they'll be sure to confound google real time search as well. mwahaha.

Happy Adventuring and thanks everyone for keeping this patch as spoiler-free as you have.

How Patch 3.3 Helped me Get my Mojo Back


I was surprised that so many folks gave a big "Meh!" when 3.3 hit. Because it honestly gave me my mojo back in game. I went from being a wee bit bored to having more stuff I wanted to do than I could conceivably find time to complete.

Suddenly, I had reasons to run heroics on my shadow priest. 100 random peeps grouped with later and I took home an adorable PUG puppy plus a few achievements and a smattering of frost emblems to boot. We had a new raid instance to hack at, new screenshots to take and new patterns to look forward to.

And then there is the lore aspect. I LOVE how the three new dungeons have a storyline that carries you through them. It's awesome to once again be fighting by the Dark Lady's side. And I am driven to emote every time I enter the ICC raid instance for the first time each week...but I won't say what I always say to keep the spoilers at bay. But the fact that I enter the raid each week with a purpose makes me smile.

Leveling the druid got even easier. She went oom less frequently than before. She could turn in the heavy borean leather for arctic furs and quickly leveled to 440 leatherworking, a day or so after hitting 65, thanks to all the leathers I'd banked from the last alt's leveling as a skinner/herbalist.

I have renewed hope the shaman has a chance in hell of gearing herself up respectably, if I can find the time to do some random dungeons with her. Of course, given our current guild situation of more folks who want to raid than we have spots for, and a policy of rotating folks in and out to ensure everyone gets a chance at content, things will slow down soon. In fact I was sat tonight from ICC 10, while they work on a new boss, so they can ensure everyone gets a crack at seeing the new content.

But instead of logging on to tackle any of the above to dos, or to level the baby warlock, I'm sipping a glass of wine, writing in the blog. And that feels great as well. I have a backlog of stuff I want to write about here, just like my in game to do list grows longer every day.

It's nice to be re-engaged with WoW. I hope you are as well.

What to Wear: A Shadow Priest's Guide to 25-man Icecrown Citadel Gear

As previously noted, I'm not a math geek so I am not going to argue BiS (best in Slot) with the maths here. Rather, I am going to discuss your gearing up opportunities by boss, to help you prep your wish list. If you want to see BiS across all available 10-man and 25-man raids, including ICC hard mode boss drops, has an excellent list. With more math than you can shake a stick at.

Words of Caution: As with ToC, you will want to be picking up some haste gear from ICC which means doing the hit-swapping dance, so don't be quick to shard or sell your existing gear when you receive an upgrade. You will likely have to swap gear around for raids to ensure you stay hit capped.

Your boss-by-boss gear guide, after the jump.

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Handling the Primordial Saronite

If you haven't already made your way into Icecrown Citadel and checked out the quartermaster, you may not be aware that unlike ToC and Ulduar 25-mans, wherein many yummy crafting patterns fell from the bosses, you will be needing to purchase your 3.3 epic crafting patterns. Specifically, you will need to have appropriate reputation levels (honored for one pair, revered for another pair or patterns) plus a primordial saronite to purchase each pattern.

There are two ways to obtain the primordial saronite -- they drop at 50% or less off the bosses in Icecrown Citadel 25-man raids, or you can buy them for 23 emblems of frost. Personally, I don't see a lot of folks taking the latter route straight out of the gate since we'll all be needing to spend hundreds of those emblems on purchasing our tier 10 gear.

Our guild is still undecided about how to handle the saronites as they drop. We do have a guild crafter rank, Swashbuckler, already in place. For runed orbs, our guild sold them to guildies, from the gbank, at half the going auction house price. I've proposed that we either give them to the guild crafters, as they hit the appropriate rep levels,  or sell them to them at no more thank 1/4 the going auction house price. Even the latter would be a pricey proposition for crafters.

Personally, having acquired a substantial number of patterns both before and after being named a guild crafter, and so far having made about a dozen pieces for guildies and friends of the guild, and nothing for myself, find it a little hard to rationalized spending my gold on buying primal saronite for four patterns, when it's unlikely I will make the items for myself (at best, I could see myself crafting a pair of boots.)

One of the rules of being a guild crafter is that since you get priority on dropped patterns you don't charge guildies for crafting the items. Thus, if we don't give guild crafters the saronite, we are basically saying "oh hai please spend 3k per pattern in costs you will not be able to recoup unless you shop yourself out in trade chat for a few weeks." I doubt most of the folks would do so -- or would even have the cash reserves to do so even if they wanted to.

How's your guild handling the primal saronite? Or how would you like to see it go?

Friday Five: 5 Things in Patch 3.3 that Made me Happy


  1. Core Hound Puppy! I can not gush enough about how adorable -- and active -- this vanity pet is.
  2. The return of story-based instance content. The three five mans' serial content seamlessly leads you directly into the raid content. And when you first step foot inside the raid instance, as I did last night, you are given a story, including a reason to fight onward. A goal to reach. A reason to fight with all your heart. It's been a while since I've felt that way on night one.
  3. The Dungeon Finder. Yeah, last night we got a guy who needed on the frozen orb we all greeded, and need rolled the tanking sword his tank offspec wouldn't be able to put to use. But all my other experiences thus far have been great. No more waiting around for 45 minutes looking for more peeps. Whoohoo!

  4. Vote to Kick. In the old days, you had to send whispers all around and then the party leader had to manually kick out the annoying group member. But now, we can vote to kick. I initiated this last night after one of our PUG DPS, a DK, kept running in front of the tank, aggroing mobs he didn't see, and in one case, death-grip pulling a mob that was not the one the tank was pulling. After letting him die for that last transgression, we voted to kick him out. And had a replacement in 1 minute thanks to the Dungeon Finder tool.
  5. More mana for my lowbie casters all the time! My baby alts, all casters across the lot of them, are now less of a drinking time-sink. Thank you thank you Blizzard.
Bonus: Haste + Shadow Priest DoTs = win. And Mind Sear in ICC25 on those 10 pack pulls? mwahahahahaha. Oh yeah, that was fun.

Keeping it to Yourself: Request for a Spoiler-Free Patch

As progress has been made on Patch 3.3, and files have been datamined and PTR time has been sent, a lot of Lore-related content has been posted on the Interwebs. And I made the decision not to read any of it. I want my first forays into Icecrown Citadel to be ones of discovery. In fact, that's a big reason why I didn't try  out the PTR.

My SO was lucky enough to have been part of WotLK BETA for a few months. I was able to poke around and learn everything I wanted to know about the profession and talent changes. And yes, I worked out my 3.0 build, my leveling build, and my lvl 80 build for my main well before the expansion hit the shelves. But even then I drew the line at spoiling the content for myself.

My first time through the Wrathgate cinematic, for instance, was amazing and moving. And it wouldn't have been as much so if I had seen it for the first time on Youtube. It involved my favorite Alliance hero, Bolvar Fordragon, who plays a large part in the new raid instance to come. And that is already more than I wanted to know in advance, but it was pretty much unavoidable.

Not all of us will hop into the 5-mans tonight when the servers come up. And my raid team is not scheduled to start content until Thursday. And thus, I make a small plea: when talking about content and Lore spoilers that this patch introduces, for at least this first week or so, please mark your post clearly with SPOILER. Hide spoiler content behind a cut or a jump.

Just like you don't want to find out what you're getting for Christmas by seeing a receipt in the trash can, I don't want to glean everything that is in store for me in 3.3 second or third-hand.

May your adventures in Icecrown be fruitful.



Guild Retention Strategies

This post was written in response to a recent Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

With Patch 3.3 and the Icecrown Citadel raids and 5-man looming on the horizon, and Cataclysm still pre-BETA, guilds are likely to be in for some growing pains. Players leaving because they want to do hard modes or change mains or raid on all their characters. And then there's those folks who hadn't shown much interest in improving their playing or gearing their characters since Naxx was on the schedule who have suddenly reappeared and started to rattle their sabers about being included in ICC raids.

Although the competing agendas of your guildies may be enough to make an officer want to stick their head in the sand and wait for the Cataclysm to hit, that's not your best strategy if you want your guild to stay strong and active between now and then. The key to making that happen is:

  • make a concerted effort on the part of your leadership team to keep players engaged
  • keep guildies apprised of the road map for the content ahead
  • make an effort to reach out to guildies who might be on the fence as to their future with your guild

Keeping Players Engaged

It can feel daunting, especially if you have a large, active guild, to do a pulse check with all of your guildies to ensure they're still feeling like part of the team. But the bigger the guild, perhaps the more important that officers divide and conquer and do just that.

One way to hit up a number of guildies all at once is to put a poll up on your guild forums. Allow the guild at large to help make some decisions about how the guild will spend its time as a group once 3.3 hits.  Be sure to schedule time for low-impact fun runs and events to make sure even those who can't make as much time for raids can feel like they have a chance to participate with the guild.

Our guild fun runs through old raid content allows players not ready for prime time raids to get to know players they might not otherwise have much opportunity to play with, and gives friends of the guild an opportunity to see if they might want to jump aboard at some point.

Officers can also make a point of trying to informally check-in with one guildie per day (split them up according to class, who knows whom or whatever feels right for your guild.) Ask them what they're most looking forward to doing once 3.3 hits -- it's a topic most of us are more than happy to talk to you about.

Outlining Your 3.3 Road Map

Once you have a good idea as to what content -- and with what frequency -- your guildies want to see, define the requirements for participation then put up an activity schedule so they can plan for it, and stick with it. Spontaneously deciding to pull in your best 10 players for an extra night's shot on a new raid boss is a surefire way to lose friends and alienate guildies -- don't do it! Transparency is key if you want to keep your guildies excited about learning the new content and in your guild.

Consider planning an activity schedule that is a mix of weeknights post-work and weekend days, again, to allow for more participation. Many times you can lose good players who are highly engaged with the guild over an inability to make key raid nights. No raid schedule will make everyone happy, but it's good to do a check-in with your most engage players to see how your plans measure up to their expectations, and adjust accordingly when possible.

If you have more players interested in content than you can handle in your raids, decide how you plan to handle it. Options include cycling players in and out on a set schedule (i.e. rotating nights/weeks), recruiting to start an additional raid team, and coaching players not quite ready for prime time so they can fill out additional teams. Be sure you clearly state your sign-up policies in advance and again, stick with them, to ensure no hard feelings.

Reach Out to Players on the Fence

Much online ink has been spilled over guilds who have shockingly just lost their main tank/ lead healer/best DPS. It's typically seen as "coming out of nowhere" leaving everyone surprised and scrambling for a fix. Frankly, I don't buy it. I'm not in the first guild I joined. And when I think back to when/why I left prior guilds, not even one of them was an impulsive decision. Especially the raiding guilds.

As an officer, you should be paying attention to your assigned guild duties. You should notice if a formerly talkative player has gotten quiet. Or if you've received a number of concerned mails from a guildie who is unhappy over a change in policy or another member's behavior. A raid leader should notice if a player stops signing up (or showing up for) raids. Or if someone is fixated on loot, and complaining about other team members getting a drop they felt entitled to. These are all pretty common signs you have a player who's on the fence about their future in your guild.

It may be they're not feeling the guild is a good fit. Or they have RL issues that have come up and aren't comfortable bringing them up with an officer. Regardless, if you want to retain a member who is showing signs they may not be as engaged as they previously were, you are going to have to make the first move. Reach out and acknowledge you've seen/heard their issue, and ask them if they want to talk about it. This small bit of effort on your part is not a fix-all. But a failure to reach out to a player who has either directly or indirectly let you know tat something is bothering them will frequently lead to a /gquit, or perhaps worse yet, festering resentment and snippy /whisper commentary.

With a little extra care and feeding, patch 3.3 should be an opportunity for your guild to thrive. You've got multi-winged 5-man, 10-man and 25-man content to tear through, lore aplenty to soak up, and a shiny new expansion a ways off in the horizon. Safe travels.

Friday Five: The First Five Things I'm Doing After Patch 3.3 Drops

  1. Hop on my shadow priest and head out in search of an elite to kill to test out how my ton of haste will impact VT and DP adn thus affect my usual rotation.
  2. Sign up to PUG a random dungeon with the new Dungeon Finder tool and get started on the path to my very own perky pug pup. Even though he drags his butt, he's a cutie.
  3. Buy my two lazy 80s Sons of Hodir exalted shoulder enchants.
  4. Tweet to my favorite tank that now would be a good time to fake an illness and come home so we can go do the new 3-winged 5-man dungeon in Icecrown Citadel.
  5. Go look at my shiny new troll totems.

Patch 3.3 News

There's been so much patch 3.3 News coming out this past week, courtesy of bloggers + MMO Champion. So far, in addition to the obvious draw of kicking some Lich King butt in Icecrown, there's a lot to look forward to. Here are what have been the highlights for me so far.

Battlenet Accounts Required after November 12

Not super happy about this but they are bribing us with a penguin mini pet so I guess I'll live with it.

Shadow Priests

  • Glyphs
    • Glyph of Mind Flay now increases the damage done by your Mind Flay spell by 10% when your target is afflicted with Shadow Word: Pain.
    • Glyph of Shadow Word: Pain changed to - The periodic damage ticks of your Shadow Word: Pain spell restore 1% of your base mana.
    • Glyph of Shadow now increase your spell power by 30% of your spirit for 10 sec. (Up from 10%)
  • Talents/Spells
    • Power Word: Shield; This spell can now be cast on non-raid/party friendly targets. 
    • Improved Devouring Plague: This spell now deals 10/20/30% of its total periodic effect instantly, up from 5/10/15%. 
    • Shadowform: This talent also now causes Devouring Plague, Shadow Word: Pain, and Vampiric Touch to benefit from haste. Both the period length and the duration of these spells will be reduced by haste. In addition, the mana cost has been reduced from 32% to 13% of base mana. 
    • Vampiric Embrace: This ability is now provides a 30-minute buff that cannot be dispelled, instead of a target debuf


  • Rebirth: The cooldown on this spell has been lowered from 20 minutes down to 10 minutes. Cannot be used in Arenas.


  • Talents/Spells
    • Improved Scorch: The debuff from this talent no longer stacks, and instead can apply the full effect from a single cast of Scorch.
    • Frozen Core now also causes your Ice Lance criticals to reduce the cast time of your next Frostbolt or Frostfire Bolt by 0.4/0.7/1 sec.
  • Glyphs
    • Glyph of Improved Scorch is now named Glyph of Scorch and Increases the damage of your Scorch spell by 20%.
    • Glyph of Eternal Water - Your Summon Water Elemental now lasts indefinitely, but your Water Elemental can no longer cast Freeze.


Interface Changes

  • Any party member may mark raid targets.
  • Users will be warned when their talents are reset due to a new patch.
  • “Tentative” status added for calendar responses.
  • Ignore list expanded to 50 to match the friends list.
  • Unit frames added for special encounters.
  • Interface element added next to the mini-map to show what dungeon you are in (ex: 10- and 25-player Heroic dungeons marked with a skull).
  • Experience earned for a quest will display in the Quest Rewards section.
  • Macro Change: Symbol “@” added as a synonym for “target=”;. For example, “/cast [@focus] Flash Heal”.

It's not Vile Sorcery...It's the Badge Gear!

Since 3.2 dropped, I've noticed something afoot in my raids and 5-mans. And on WoW-Heroes for that matter. Our tanks are staying alive easier. Our healers yawn into their palms in heroic ToC. Suddenly our gear level is on par with being ready to step into 25-man ToC...but it's not vile sorcery -- it's the badge gear!

Don't get me wrong -- our guild has a number of skilled players who have been making serious efforts in raids all year long. But this past week was the first night that we ever cleared every boss up to Vezax in 3 hours and 15 minutes. We didn't all suddenly have more skill, or more experience. But we did have significant gear upgrades all around.

I personally upgraded my Naxx 10 OH in Ulduar, then used badges to upgrade my Naxx  25 chest to T8.5 and my T8 helm to 8.5. That may not sound like much upgrade-wise, but I can tell you my WoW Heroes suggested instances jumped to the highest available tier (as did a solid 30 of my guildies.) Previously, we had closer to 10 at that level, and I was not one of them.

Yes, I saw Gevlon's experiment with his raid of blue-clad (tho as he admitted class/buff optimized group). And they did great DPS. But I have also been raiding for well over 3 years now, through AQ in vanilla, to BT in BC, and now through Yogg Saron in Ulduar, and I can tell you for sure that a big dose of gear upgrades does make a visible impact on your raid. No, it can't take a mediocre group of layabouts and hand them success. But it can give you the extra bit of avoidance and dps and healing you need to push you into success.

As my raid leader Garkas said to me last week: "The line between success and failure can be a thin one." I'm glad Blizzard gave us all that extra edge -- and the lockout period extensions -- to help casual guilds like ours achieve our dreams.

Once I have time to catch my breath, I'll be posting a guide to upgrades to shoot for with your Conquest and Triumph badges.

Happy  Adventuring!

Friday Five: Five Nice Changes for Your Alts

In the past week+ since 3.2 dropped I've seen that many folks were not aware of the many awesome changes in the patch that positively affect alts and leveling. And thus, I bring you today's five great changes for your alts:

  • Inventory your badges and buy your favorite alt their BOA chest with 10% experience boost. If you have more than 1 alt that is a spellcaster, buy the cloth version so you can share them back-and-forth when the mood to play strikes. YES you really can share them with multiple alts-- that's totally the point! And the 10% bonus XP from the shoulders stacks with the chest making leveling a lot less of a chore.
  • Get thee to the stables! Chances are your alt is now eligible for a mount: Apprentice Riding (Skill 75) can now be learned at level 20 for 4 gold; Journeyman Riding (Skill 150) can now be learned at level 40 for 50 gold.That's right -- epic land mounts to help you zip around as you quest!
  • Get ready to fly your way through Outlands and Northrend. Your level 60 may purchase Expert Riding (Skill 225) for 600 gold from trainers in Honor Hold or Thrallmar. Then, your 80 can purchase the Tome of Cold Weather Flight which will allow you level 68 alt to start flying through Northrend a sollid 9 levels before you were able to do so. Unfortunately, it is consumed upon use unike the other Heirloom BoA items.
  • If you have a baby druid at level 16, run them over to the druid trainer to buy Travel Form. If not, enjoy knowing that you too will save some travel time for your alts thanks to the Azeroth postal system finally adding some more mailboxes to the major ities that previously had one gridlocked box.
  • The days of running to the Blasted Lands to get to the Dark Portal and doing the death ride to Shattrath are over. The portal areas in all major cities now provide a portal to the Blasted Lands that pops you out in view of the Dark Portal. And after crossing through the Dark Portal, players can access a flight path directly from the Stair of Destiny to Shattrath.
Overall, a nice selection of time-saving changes that will make leveling your next alt a lot less painful. Thank you Blizz!