Last night in Azeroth -- what to do? Take a morotcycle ramble around the old world of course. So many memories. Like fighting the world dragon in Ashzara. And my first explorations of Darkshore on my baby druid, my first toon. Remembering the fear of running past Splintertree post as a baby druid (ahhh! they're after me!) So many friendly quest givers, so many scenic spots that took my breath away on first view, then became a part of my game world, familiar territory, for five years of playing.
Fought back some horde picking on a poor little old shadow priest. Killed the Winterfall Runners. Stopped to watch the antelope frolic in the Barrens. And woke up this morning to a message intercepted from an angry dragon. Things will never be the same.
Farewell old Azeroth, and hello to the New World (of Warcraft) Order.
I snuck in just under the wire for this week's Blog Azeroth Shared topic: writing your blog's autobiography. The results can be seen in the shiny new About Me page now part of the site header. Thanks to Ophelie at Bossy Pally for suggesting the topic!
It's pretty funny that it took me over two years to finally get that written. I blame all the vanity pets in need of acquiring and profession lists that needed to be created for waylaying me. Wouldn't you?
Nothing more to see here. Logging back in to WoW to earn some more fabulously cheap and easy cooking achievements on my alts thanks to the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday.
With patch 4.0.3a, a.k.a. "the shattering", on the PTR, with many speculating we'll see it on live servers as early as Tuesday, It's time to start thinking about what you need to do to get ready. And before you say "Blizz would never release a major patch like this before a holiday..." I must remind you that we'd never have thought they'd release a huge patch like 4.0.1 the week of Blizzcon either. And thus I bring you 5 steps for preparing for the patch:
BONUS: Get a chopper made now -- nothing says post-Apocalypse road trip through Azeroth like a motorcycle.
With Cataclysm only a few short weeks away, it's tome for you to face up to the unholy mess that is your personal bank vault. And it's also time for Officers to evaluate the Guild bank vault. This guide to efficiently cleaning out your bank assumes you have a bank alt. If you don't have one already please go roll one now. Thank you.
To get started cleaning out your personal bank, start by moving around all the items you have accumulated. I suggest grouping them like this:
Keep all those in bucket 1. Keep those in bucket 2 only if you have used your off spec in the past 3 weeks. Throw out category 3 items since you can reforge and will be getting all new gear in a month anyhow. Bucket 4 should have already been DEd or sold by the time you are reading this sentence. Send items in bucket 5 to your bank alt.
Keep items in categories 1-3. Keep items in category 4, in moderation, unless they are only usable in Dalaran. And no you really do not need 6 stacks of pygmy oil. You really don't. Minimize how much of each item you have on your character (max of 1 stack); send overflow to your bank alt. Throw out items in categories 5 and 6. You'll be getting far better ones soon, and are likely to use up your old flasks while leveling rather than using those elixirs anyhow.
Make sure you only have, across your account, 1 of each of the BoA vanity pets (Or two if you are contemplating a one character server move.) Delete the rest. Mail all remaining BoA vanity pet items and all BoA gear to your bank alt.
Reputation and Quest Items
Mail all items in categories 1 and 2 to your bank alt. Keep items in category 3 such as Blood of Innocents from Scholomance, or the blue ring that allows you to summon Vael in UBRS if they have sentimental value for you. Throw out items in category 4 unless you are actively engaged in that reputation grind currently. Don't hang on to a half dozen slots of items you know in your heart you will never ever turn in. Especially if it's from BC times and earlier. Keep items in category 4 if you are really going to do the quest before Cataclysm hits. If not, toss them out along with all the items in category 5.
At this point, you should have 3-4 bags free on your main character (we all have a certain amount of gear, consumables, and toys we like to carry around with us), and hopefully well-organized bags in the bank with plenty of room for your Cataclysm goodies.
Toys and Other Fun Stuff
Fun stuff has a tendency to be the downfall of many banks. A leather ball here, a stack of snowballs there, and pretty soon your inventory is full. But this game is ABOUT having fun, so keep all items in category #1. Try to trim down the number in category 2 (I have a whole bag of Halloween wands, blossoming branches, and a Manabonk wand on more than 1 character. That's OK.) Mail items in category 3 to your bank alt or unsuspecting guildies, or throw them out.
Keep a moderate amount of items in category 1 if you think there is a good chance you will need them. For example, if you are an enchanter, hang on to some materials. But if you are a max level tailor for example, liquidate those extra materials. Send all items in categories 2 and 3 to your bank alt.
Bank Alt Vaults
Now that you have sent your bank alt a ton of stuff as part of the process tidying up your bags, it's time to get organized. Most personal bank vaults with which I've been acquainted (i.e. I've asked impertinent questions about this on twitter and in game) tend to top out at about 3 tabs and a full set of Frostweave bags. The tabs start to feel a little too steep after that, so it is not entirely uncommon for serious auctioneers to have a second bank vault for keeping their storehouse of goods at the ready. But I digress.
You'll want to evaluate each item as you unpack it form the mail as a keep or a sell.
Keep and Organize
Keep Until Cataclysm Then Sell
I've seen guild banks that truly became the receptacles for all the junk the guildies couldn't sell. Guild banks that had so many and such strict rules that it was not uncommon to receive an item mailed back with a note about how it was not adequate for the guild bank and to please not place it there again. I like a happy medium between those two extremes.
First, you need to evaluate what items guildies actually contribute to -- and withdraw from-- the guild bank. If the all access tabs are stuffed to the gills with junk, and only the Officers-only extra special items ever leave the bank, consider not having as many slots open for general swapping. In addition to the tips for bank vaults above, guild banks will also want to take these thoughts into consideration:
But this time around, the expansion also brings up a lot of uncertainty for me. Because I am in a very different place -- in game and out -- than I was at the last turn-of-the-expansion.
That Was Then
I was secure in the knowledge that although I no longer wanted to druid heal, I would definitely be playing my druid main, as per usual. I was enjoying being a lazy guild member without any responsibilities, and crossing my fingers my casual guild would work out for raiding in the expansion, even if it was just at a slower pace, given our good times in Kara. My hours at work allowed me to have a regular raiding schedule, as I rarely had to stay late unexpectedly. All my characters were on the same server were I'd started out playing WoW, except for the shadow priest horde alt I rarely popped onto, as she was stranded on a friend's server with nothing to do.
This is Now
Now I have three 80s Alliance-side (Boomkin, Shadow Priest, Mage) with a warlock at 70. Horde-side, on a separate server, I have four 80s (Shadow Priest, Boomkin, Shaman, Mage) with a warlock at 72. Horde-side, I'm an officer in a large guild that completed all of WotLK's raiding content, including a number of 10-man ICC hard modes. Heck, I even got to kill Algalon! Alliance-side, I've found myself a great friendly guild that had been doing some casual raiding, and enjoy the camaraderie and conversation (inclusive of G and on Vent and on Twitter.)
This Monday, I headed back in to work after five glorious weeks of time off. And despite heading in bright and early each day, I am not getting home until 6:30 each night due to the workload. This has meant no raiding anywhere, no NaNoWriMo writing time. And no blog time. In other words: MEH.
So What's Next?
With Cataclysm only a month away, I'm not sure how things are going to pan out. How much can I get done with only a few short hours to play each night after work? We still need to eat dinner and have outside of game time after all. Even if I concentrate only on my two primary characters at first (Alliance Boomkin and Horde Shadow Priest), I'll still need to sort out daily quests for the others (cooking/fishing/professions).
Having just taken all this time off, I won't really get to have a big chunk of time to play until my time off around the holidays, at the end of December. So in all likelihood, I'll be leveling the slowest I've ever leveled. And will have my attention split between two toons I love, instead of being able to focus my energies on just one of them. This will be an adjustment for sure.
Both guilds are planning to kick the raiding tires in Q1 2011. So at least with that I do feel I'll have time to level up and gear up. Then work in the alts as time allows. But as it stands, I don't really know yet what my availability will look like as far as raiding goes. Or how I am going to feel about these characters at 85, having not gotten into BETA to try things out for myself.
So like everyone else who didn't get a sneak peek via BETA, I'll just have to play it by ear and hope that I do like how things turn out int he end for my ladies. Que sera sera, whatever will be will be. I'm just hoping that somehow I'll find a way to give both of my favorite toons the attention they deserve.
Last week's WoW time was somewhat curtailed by the livestream of Blizzcon taking up most of my attention (and it rocked to share thoughts and reactions to the panels real-time via twitter; not as good as being there but still pretty darn fun.). But I made up for it this week:
Blogs You Should Read
Although it wasn't an incredibly busy week around the blogosphere, there were some good reads:
The first time I logged in and played my then level 43 warlock after the patch, My blueberry died. A couple of times. And then I died three times in short succession. I'm pretty sure I hadn't died three times in getting to that level. And thus, I nerd raged.
And then I logged off in a huff.
But as this character is intended to be my Alliance jewelcrafter (my former Alliance shaman who is a maxed out JC now resides as a troll shaman on another server), I took a dee breath and went back to her this past week. And this time, things just clicked.
There are a few differences I am still getting used to though:
Somehow, yesterday, I plowed through from 55 to 60. The motivator of having flying to visit all the candy buckets of Outlands spurred me on. And once the servers are up, I'll be back at it. Gotta get to 65 to train up the jewelcrafting after all! That leaves a month to get her to 75 which is the required minimum level, I think, for learning the Cataclysm recipes. That part is the longshot in all this. I'll be back at work on November 1 which means significantly less playtime. And Northrend questing always takes me forever and a day -- I have quest fatigue from running seven 80s through them all.
But I am hopeful that she will be the little warlock who could. Wish me luck!
My last major achievement of Wrath of the Lich King. I never really put it on my to hope for list. I was afraid of being disappointed. Especially after all the Sunday afternoons spent watching people run into fire on Mimiron Firefighter attempts...
But tonight, I got to see Algalon for the first time. And after 40 minutes of working on him, we defeated him. And that makes me Starcaller Anexxia. And I am nearly teary eyed over it. Because it feels good to hit up that one last thing as the days tick down on this expansion.
Thank you Emtox for perservering on this, even in the face of flaking and no shows. This meant a lot.
Which patch changes are you enjoying thus far?
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.
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.
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.
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 SP.com, 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:
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
It's nice to finally have a release date in hand so I can start figuring out what I want to -- and have time to -- accomplish in game before the world changes. December 7 gives me two full months before I have to start thinking about leveling my primary toons and their professions and the alts' professions...
I'm sure that having a concrete date two months away is going to make some folks angsty. After all, if you don't have an army of alts and killed the Lich King months ago and have already been feeling like you were stuck in a holding pattern, I can see how it would seem like way too long to wait. Had I not rediscovered the joys of playing my Alliance characters, I would likely be in the cursing the release date under my breath camp.
But luckily for me, I have plenty to do and to look forward to between now and then:
So, now that we have a date in hand, what's your plan of attack?
When I saw the story about this little guy who is 9 years old and undergoing his 4th heart surgery, and saw that he really wanted cards for the wall of his recovery room, AND he was a WoW fan, I had to spread the word. And get out the glue stick.
I made him a postcard featuring the screenie you see here. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some imagination. And I know you guys have plenty of both. And you could always buy a card at the story if you're out of art supplies.
Send your cards to:
c/o Ronald McDonald House
520 Sand Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304
P.S. a big *moonkinhug* to those of you who have been spreading the word on twitter and via your WoW blogs. This warms my heart.
What's made you happy in WoW recently?
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.
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!
For most of us, September is devoid of holidays other than Labor Day (a day upon which many of us labor.) But not so in Azeroth-- it's the kickoff of the prime holiday season:
It's nice to have them all bunched together in the midst of the pre-expansion doldrums. Inevitably, the holidays bring the recently MIA back online and provide great opportunities to get the guild together to do something that all can participate in regardless of level and gear.
Not just an excuse to sit down at the enemy's table and eat their pie, this holiday is the single best way to power level an alt's neglected cooking skills. The bountiful tables outside the major citites make a good place to hold a guild party, especially if you are PvP inclined. Tons of achievements are attainable, including one of my favorites, wherein you get the Turkinator buff and run around like mad, shooting turkeys. Mwahahaha. *cough* But I digress.
No, wait, as Moober reminded me this really is a holiday just about sitting down at a table and eating strange conjured foods. Oh well. We still have Pilgrim's Bounty to look forward to for the above. Need moar coffee.
Last yer, my horde guild had a small dance party on top of the Booty Bay inn, to hang with the pirates, yo. I think my favorite part of the event is the long-duration pirate outfit it gives you. Last year, this was basically an ahicevement in search of a holiday. Too soon to know if Blizz has anything up their sleeve, given the Cataclysmic changes incoming.
Who doesn't love a holiday that features pink elekks and tossing pints of ale at Dark Iron dwarves? And a chance at the sexy mounts you see in the above screenshot? It should be easier than ever this year to get your shots at Coren Direbrew, thanks to the holiday bosses being in LFD. And it also means you won't have that same stingy guildie taking everything that drops, unlike two years ago *i'mlookingatyouyoungpaladin*.
What did your guild do last year? And what are you planning to do for the holidays this year? I'd love to swap ideas. And expect to see some more on these holidays here as we get closer to them.
In no particular order, here are five blogs I read each week (or however often they update) that you should have on your blog roll too:
This week was too much work and too little warcraft and reading these posts on my BBerry as I traveled too and from work gave me a nice Warcraft fix. And for that, bloggers, I thank you.
In my vanilla WoW raiding days, our 40-man raids had specific numbers of raid spots designated for specific classes fulfilling specific roles. The class raid leaders (who were not always the same as the class officers) managed their invitee and standby lists, and kept tabs on how everyone was performing. My druids and I sat in our own Vent channel (only raid officers and the RL could talk to each other and over the whole raid), and had our own chat channel. We built comraderie while also having a solid sounding board for trouble shooting how our class and role should be handling any given encounter.
Fast Forward to Burning Crusade with its smaller raids. All of a sudden, many guilds, including mine, decided there really wasn't a need for class officers any more, since raid sizes were so much smaller, and we didn't always have multiples of each class/role. The emphasis moved to having raid leaders and then folks in charge of each functional area (tanking, healing, DPS) at the most. And thus, for many guilds, the class officer died out comleteely.
Given that Cataclysm may well sound the death knell for many guilds running 25-man raids, I can see how a call for a return to class officers may sound like craziness. But hear me out. There are some very solid reasons to consider having them -- even if they aren't max rank officers.
If you are pursuing 25-man raids, and have several dozen active players, why not ask them if they'd like to have class leads or class officers? Those who are nominated by their peers will feel appreciated for being called out for excellence, and your quieter members of the guild will feel empowered to approach them for advice. Even if implemented in a more honorary than powerful role, class leaders have the ability to build a sense of community amongst players, while recognizing some of your best players for doing a great job, which may even help with guild retention.
BONUS: My character's name is Psychocandy. You may call her Candy for short. No, you may not call her Psycho. She's named after a song. Go listen to it.
Next time: Anexxia gets the trip down memory lane.
In my 4 and a half years of playing WoW, I've had a few run-ins with folks who clearly stepped over the line of common courtesy into the territory of "oh no you didn't just say that to/about me>.<"
The things said are irrelevant. Because everyone has a bad day now and then. Or says something they don't mean and immediately regret. It's what happens after you are horribly rude or offensive that matters.
The mature thing to do is to own your behavior. Take responsibility for having behaved like an ass. And simply say, "I'm sorry."
You may or may not have noticed something very important above. It's that I didn't say "I'm sorry, but..." Or "I'm sorry you were offended." That is, in fact, a very important period. If you have upset someone else, they do not want to hear your myriad justifications as to why. Your rationalizations are irrelevant. Your childhood traumas not a valid excuse.
If you want an example of how not to apologize, just look at that woman who tossed a poor friendly kitty into a recycle bin. She is a textbook example of someone "apologizing" and in fact digging themselves into a bigger hole.
Of course, in the World of Warcraft, no one is going to make you apologize if you don't want to do so. You can totally choose to piss someone off and continue on merrily as though nothing happened. But here's the whole truth of the matter: especially if your offense happened publicly, that person isn't going to forget about it.
Oh yes, I know, it's "humiliating" to apologize. It puts you in a less powerful position than the person being apologized to. Or it makes you feel bad. Tough luck! How do you think you made the other person feel? Suck it up already -- it costs you nothing but a moment of misplaced pride to do the right thing and apologize. And it can sour your relationship with someone else permanently to be too proud to admit you messed up and to ask for forgiveness.
I've been on both ends of this spectrum. I've lost my temper and been an ass. And immediately, publicly apologized to those who bore witness to it, and to the person I put in a bad position. I've also been the wronged person, who had someone else sat from raids when they refused to apologize, and as soon as they did -- through gritted teeth-- gave them a second chance. No, we didn't become BFFs, but we did in fact become more friendly than we had been before the incident of unbridled rudeness.
Hey kids! Get off my lawn! And if that ball comes into my yard, I'm keeping it!