Sunday, October 17, 2010


I did it, after a few weeks of wavering back and forth as to whether or not I could bring myself to it...

R.I.P. 2008-2010

It wasn't an easy decision for one reason, and that was all the time I had put into playing my toons.  I began playing WoW back in Nov. of 2008.  I heard of the game for several years, but never felt inclined to play it after having a roommate back in college who was addicted to Everquest.  I didn't want to become that guy, but I put that past behind me and joined WoW at the behest of a couple former coworkers who played.

I was quickly sucked into the game.  There was so much to explore, and the various zones were well designed and varied I thought.  As a solo player, I feared there would be lack of sufficient content, but was I proven wrong!  I met some, though not many, players along the way.  I started out slow, but come about this time a year ago, I was putting in more and more time into the game; enjoying watching my toons gradually improve.

Unfortunately, as with most things, the luster began to wear off.  Running daily quest after daily quest, the same instances over and over, grew boring.  Some of the friends I met along the way moved onto raiding, and I started seeing more and more jerks (to put it kindly) in randoms, in trade chat, etc.  Though I believe most people who play WoW aren't a@@hats.  They're a silent majority.

I found myself the past couple weeks logging into WoW out of habit, and not doing anything, besides sitting around Dalaran.  There was no motivation for me to run a random instance, no motivation to do dailies, or go after achievements.  The fun was gone, and to add to that I was downsized from my job several months ago, so I've been watching where my money goes.

I'm not one of those QQ'ing about the recent patch.  In fact, I think it's great.  It's just that I've been working on prioritizing things in my life.  WoW is towards the bottom of the ladder, and don't have the time, or willingness to dedicate myself to it anymore.  Perhaps I'll be back for Cataclysm, for it seems like it will be awesome, but we'll see.

I don't think I got many readers to this blog, but for those who've stopped by, or keep up on it, I thank you.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Magphloin Visits Azjol-Nurub

I decided to put my paladin in queue for a random.  The timer said about 20 minutes.  I didn't feel like doing anything else while waiting, so I went out to the living room, and watched some television.  I came back just in time as the LFG invite appeared on the screen.  The wait was less than the expected time, and I knew I hopped into a party that had fallen apart.  Just as soon as I entered the party, one of the players (who would be the tank), was saying something to the effect of "I'm higher than you".  He was the highest level player in the group at 76, but I had a bad feeling. 

My feeling was only made worse when said tank charged right into the mobs at the beginning of the instance while I was still buffing the other members, and the resto shaman, the player I would find he was arguing with, told him to hold so he can get ready.  I simply kept quiet, and did my job to the best of my abilities.  Needless to say, this tank, in his haste, caused the party to wipe.

We come back to the instance, and he's arguing with the shaman, saying he's a higher level than he is.  The conversation then turned to bragging rights as to how many level 80s each of them had.  I was on the brink of leaving this party...  Once again, he just charges in.  Most of the party dies.  As I would expect, the shaman and another dps player left the party.

Reinforcements come in.  Tank charges in yet again, but this time, the healer who replaced the shaman wasn't really on with heals.  I am not complaining, because from what I've seen, some players don't bother with instances until Northrend, so they may still be learning their role.  Tank dies, makes sarcastic comment to healer.  Healer and tank leave party.  Unfortunately, the remaining spider creature comes after me.  So the mage, the other player in the group, and myself run for the exit.  The mage complains, leaves party.

I felt like I wasted too much time already.  Between the LFG wait, and the 15 minutes, I was about to just leave, but I didn't.  The next batch of party members come in.  A paladin tank, a hunter, and a druid healer.  I welcomed them all to the party, and got a hello back.  I had a feeling this would be a good group, and it was.  We proceeded to clear the first boss with no issues.  Heck, we cleared that whole instance (despite how quick it is to run), with ease.  The final problems.  I thanked the group, and we all went our separate ways. 

I guess the main lesson I learned wasn't so much how to run the instance, but of groups, and hanging in there.  I was really about to quit the party, but once the tank removed himself from the picture, everything went smooth.  One may argue that I could have left the party, and went back into queue, because the wait would've been about the same.  However, what would have happened if I did, got another bad player in the group, and had to wait all for a new group, etc. 

I am glad I stuck with it, but I wonder why there are players who are approaching 80 who have no clue about group etiquette...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Go Forth Young Druid

I decided to recently level a druid on the Fizzcrank server instead of Thunderhorn, where my other toons are.  Why?  The main is reason is I know a player on Fizzcrank who seems to know the game inside and out, and her husband who I worked with in RL has a toon there too.  Besides, I wanted to check out another realm, see how the community is; and I didn't want to pay to transfer my Thunderhorn toons.

Of course, I had choices of which class to start.  I played a hunter to 80, and also have a pally getting close to 80.  I TRIED playing a mage and warlock.  Didn't quite pan out.  Wasn't a big fan of either of those classes.  I considered a warrior, but didn't feel too excited for it.  I narrowed my choices to either a shaman or druid.  I ended up going with druid. Players who play them enjoy the class, it's versatile, and the form changing aspect seemed kind of cool.  Druid it was, and Housatonic was born. 

I am currently at level 15, and my thoughts are mixed.  I always try out other classes to at least level 20 before deciding whether or not I like it.  I like the self-healing aspect, and the bear form does some decent damage output (going feral for leveling), but I find taking on 2 of similiar level monsters is difficult, and I die.  It also seems to be a class that's a little more complicated to play, compared to the pally, which isn't too bad a thing. I kind of like that you can use the feral tree for either tanking or dps.

Right now, it's too soon to judge how I view playing the druid.  I'll continue to play it, and see how new talents and abilities unfold.  Something tells me I'll probably stick with it though.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Time is Money Friend (When it's Appropriate to Say No)

I'm one of those people who brings their true sense of self into WoW.  I don't use my avatar of pixels as an excuse to be rude, mean, or other otherwise a jerk to other players in the game.  In real life, I'm helpful (to a fault), and always try to see other peoples point of view.  In WoW, I'm not much different, but there are times when you have to put your foot down, and tell others that you WON'T help them.

I was doing dailies on the Argent Tournament grounds when another player whispered if I can help him.  It was his first time with the Argent quests, and I wasn't doing anything else outside of turning in my dailies, so I said yes.  We killed some scourge in Icecrown, then I showed him where in Grizzly Hills he had to go for the maiden quest (you have to kiss a bunch of frogs, one turns into a maiden, who gives you a sword to turn in).  Technically, I should have asked for some gold simply for the time, but I'm not really that kind of player, and he seemed like a kid, so I cut him some slack.

I get a whisper from him a couple days later, and I wish I took a screenshot.  I was doing dailies in Icecrown again, and he said he was waiting in LFG queue.  Out of curiosity, I asked if he was a tank or dps, considering he is a death knight.  He said dps and asked why.  I told him I also play a pally, and was considering tanking with it.  This is where I wanted would pull my hair out if I still had any.  The conversation went something like this:

Player: "I have a pally too.  It's level 8. Can you play it to level 15 and run deadmines?"
Me:     "Um.  No.  That's for you to do. I'm willing to run you through deadmines when you get there though."
Player: "Now or later."
Me:     "Later obviously."

Five minutes pass.  He logs out, then I get a whisper random whisper.  He said it's his pally, and if I could run him now.  My patience was pushed.  I tried to put it in context that this is obviously a kid I'm dealing with here, but the fact that he's a dk means not only does he have (or should), experience playing the game, but he should know better that other players can't drop what they are doing on a dime.  I politely told him no, logged out, and ate lunch.

So what lesson did I learn?  First, you give someone an inch, they'll try to take the proverbial mile.  Second, if I help a player like I did this one, I'm asking for a fee.  That time I helped him consumed about half an hour of my time.  Time I had intended to use to farm mats for my paladin's crafting skills. 

I put my foot down, and for the first time I believe, I didn't feel much guilt for it.

Magphloin Experiences Utgarde Keep for the First Time

My somewhat fearless pally ran Utgarde Keep for the first time tonight.  In fact, it was the first instance I ran him though since Sunken Temple way back when he was level 47.  It was quite the experience.  I've ran UK several times on my hunter, who was over geared for the instance, so it was a change not only to run it as a melee dps, but at the appropriate level.  In this case, level 71.  I waited a little in order to upgrade from the Outland gear I had, to some Northrend quest gear.  I wanted to laugh at times.  Others I wanted to cry, but overall, it was an experience that was worth it.

I didn't choose it at random.  I had selected it from the list of instances available to me.  After a shorter wait than what I had anticipated, I got pulled in.  I buff everyone in the party, and off we go.  We clear the vrykul at the beginning of the instance.  We get to the first boss, Prince Keleseth.  The mage in the party needed to get ready, but the tank ran in anyway.  It didn't matter, because we took him down rather easily.  So far, so good.  We take on more trash, and got to the second boss: Skarvald and Dalronn.  Not as easy.  The tank had trouble holding aggro, and Skarvald kept going after the warlock in the party.  We wipe a few times on him before everyone in the party, except the mage and myself, leaves.

Replacements quickly replenish the diminished ranks.  We take down Skarvald and Dalronn with little incident.  The new tank was saying he hadn't tanked in awhile.  Well, he was doing a good job.  Problems begin with a fury warrior. I don't name names usually, but I will this time.  Galairn, who I believe is also on my server.  He wanted the spell power chest piece that dropped from the boss fight.  He claimed it had more strength.  Needless, he DIDN'T get it.  More on this guy shortly.

Despite the bickering, we plow on with no issues.  Then we get to Ingvar the Plunderer, the final, and main boss of UK.  Being a melee dps, I had to pay attention more to his attacks than my hunter, who can stay close to the pillars and just fire away more or less.  We wiped on him.  We had few problems on the first phase of the fight.  Come second phase, a different story.  Most of us wiped, except the tank, and shaman I believe, who finished him off.  It was real close, but they did it.

More bickering between the party and Galairn.  He needed on the ax that dropped that had a strength bonus.  The other players wanted me to get it.  As soon as Galairn won the roll, he left the party.  Not shocking there.  He probably could use it.  The dps in the party, myself included, pulled between 700-1200 dps on the fights.  Galairn, mighty fury warrior...  200 dps or so. I wasn't shocked considering this was a player who wanted a spell power chest piece.  I wasn't too upset about losing it.  Besides, I have a BoA axe that I can use up until I hit 80 and start heroics.  I thanked the other players who wanted me to have the axe.  I took that as a sign that they felt I was holding my end of the bargain running this instance. That felt good after solo'ing for close to 25 levels and four months!

Overall, I'm glad I queued up, and remained persistent, determined to finish. It was a good gauge to see how well I'm playing my pally.  Depending on the fight, I was usually on, or close to top of the dps meters, but more importantly; I got to experience an instance at the level it was intended for.  As I mentioned in previous posts, my hunter didn't start running instances until close to 80.  Also, playing melee gave me a different perspective on boss fights (Ingvar in particular), than my hunter, where I just stand back and shoot away.  I've been thinking of tanking with my pally, so watching some of the boss mechanics in action was helpful.

Utgarde Keep was certainly the most difficult instance I've played yet on my pally, but I thought it was a success.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Where Did Outland Go?

My paladin, Magphloin, is getting real close to being able to get to Northrend.  While I hit the Outland content a couple months ago, I don't play Magphloin on a constant basis (once or twice a week), so it seems hard to believe that I'm nearly able to send him to Borean Tundra or Howling Fjord.  The leveling from between 59, (when I first sent him to Hellfire Penninsula) seemed to pass by quickly.  Almost too much so.  Probably part of it has to due with the fact I'm on constant rested XP bonus.  The XP bar has not hit purple the whole time questing in Outland.

So far, I've quested mostly in Hellfire, Zangarmarsh, did about 20 quests in Terrokar Forest.  and am currently questing in Nagrand, leaving the zones of Netherstorm, Blade's Edge Mountains, and Shadowmoon Valley untouched.  Unless I mix the zones up to quest in each one (I tend to grab a bunch of quests in one area and complete those), I could very well move to Northrend without even seeing those zones.  In addition, I have not done ONE Outland instance (tried ramps one night, but the party fell apart because a couple players were pulling too many mobs).

So I've been asking myself what I'm going to do.  On one hand, I feel like I'm going to bypass a bunch of content to get the Northrend.  On the other hand, the gold from from quest rewards is better in Northrend, and my pally needs to make some money. Magphloin is closing in on level 68.  Some players I know headed out to Northrend at that point, but to be honest, I'm in no rush with my paladin to 80. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Personal Confession (Social Anxiety and WoW)

I have mild social anxiety disorder.  I was diagnosed with it several years ago, but never took medication for it, because I don't really believe meds to be a solution, and the fact I can manage it (mostly).  If I go to a bar, and see the parking lot is full, and the bar is crowded through the windows, am I afraid to go in?  Certainly, but I force myself (sometimes my friend will force me), to walk through the doors.  Once I'm in, I enjoy myself, and forget the qualms I had seeing the parking lot.  There are other times when my social anxiety kicks in. For example, my friend who I went to high school with who was also my guitar instructor, invites me over to holiday cookouts.  Sometimes I go, and find I have a good time, despite feeling nervous, and trying to make excuses in my head to not go.  Other times I see all the people there, and don't bother to show because I don't want to seem socially awkward, and such, though I get along with everyone. For me, just showing up to a social function takes a lot of work and mental energy, even for family events.  There are people with social anxiety disorder who have it a lot worse than I do, but even a mild case of it makes things difficult sometimes.

What does this have to do with WoW?  I think the answer should be obvious.  WoW is designed, especially at level cap, to be a social game, working with other players to accomplish goals.  If you read some other posts, I prefer to play solo as often as possible.  Why?  The answer is simple.  I don't have to worry about looking like a fail player, or be the person that causes a wipe, or the person who has poor dps levels.  Even running heroics, which at this point are easy (except for HoR), I feel nervous going into them, despite the fact I've run most of them enough, and the fact that if I PUG them, I probably won't see the other players again.  To make matters worse, if I PUG (I'm dps), I have to wait 15 minutes most of the time.  I get nervous just waiting. That's 15 minutes to ask myself which instance will I get?  How will the group be?  I have a 5k gear score.  Will people think I suck if my dps is less than 3.5?  Often the nerves get the best of me, and I leave que, a part of me feeling relieved.

This kind of reached an apex this past weekend.  I left the guild I was in.  I had explained to a couple of the officers that my playstyle (not raiding), and the fact I cut back on my playing some, didn't make me a good fit for the guild at the moment.  One of the officers told me they like to have good people in the guild, even if they don't play or raid much, but if I'm in a guild, I want to be active and contribute outside of saying "grats", and a lame joke here or there.  If I'm not raiding, or helping other players as often as I feel I should, then the guild should have other players who can come in and provide that.  My toon is just dead weight.

One may ask what does leaving the guild have to do with SAD?  While I wasn't able to raid ICC with them (GS too low), I could have done other raids, such as VoA, or Ulduar when players were looking for a group.  I usually kept quiet.  A part of me wanted to join, but the negative thoughts crept into my head.  As a non-raider, I've never done a raid outside a weekly boss, or fighting some ICC trash.  Of course, I thought to myself if I join group, I'll have no clue what I'm doing, look like an idiot, and an incompetent player in front of the guildies, hence ruining my chance to do other raids. In my mind, I'd rather my toon have no name than a bad rep, just as in real life.

I've seriously considered quitting WoW of late.  The only reason I still play is to say hello to some people in my friends list, and it helps me keep in contact with former coworkers of mine (one of whom told me not to mind other people, but it is hard not too).  Other than that, there's very little incentive for me to continue to play if I have to rely on other people constantly to accomplish goals, or improve my character. 

I know a lot of this is in my head.  I'm at the point now where even if I do something new, I listen to other players tips, and quickly adapt to the situation.  However, I remember being a fresh 80, not really knowing my class, and stepping my toes into instances for the first time.  I remember all the negative comments I received and people being jerks to me.  People who obviously forgot what it was like to be a fresh 80.  I try to tell myself to forget all that, that I have some clue as to what I'm doing now, but the ghosts of those voices in party chat still run through my mind.

I understand some people may not be able to relate to what I just blogged.  The people who thrive on the social aspect of the game, and let any negative players roll off their shoulders.  However, there may be other players out there who suffer from SAD, and play WoW.  To those players, I want to say you are not alone.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Soloist

A truth hit home for me within the past couple weeks about how I play WoW.  I'm a solo player, plain and simple.  I thought changing guilds to one that was more active would change that.  It hasn't.  Sure, I'll run the occasional random with guildmates, but I'm content to just farm mats for my pally, and of late, go back and do quests I skipped.  I basically turned off the whole gearing up mindset. Instead, my philosophy to play how I want to play, which makes me ponder the future of my pally, but I'll get into that later.

My reasons for playing solo vary.  One is my mood.  Some days I log in, and just want to be left to my own devices, not paying attention to guild chat, etc.  Another is past group experiences.  While I don't get the "huntard" label from other players anymore, or other criticisms, the insults I received from other players in the past has left a bad taste in my mouth regarding players in the community. The next is I find there's plenty to do at level cap without having to group.  Leveling an alt, completing old quests for Loremaster, reputation rep grinds...  Solo WoW playing does not have to end at 80.

On the flip side, the only way to progress your character is to run five man instances and raids.  Instances are interesting and fun the first couple times you run them, but in order to get badges to upgrade gear, you have to run them over, and over, and over again.  After awhile it gets boring, and the incentive of badges isn't enough (for me at least), to run them daily.  I may run an instance or two a week, sometimes less depending on my mood.  I know a typical five man instance is quick. Outside of waiting 15 minutes in que, an instance normally doesn't take any longer than 20-30 min, but it's still not enough to get me to take that time out of whatever I was doing to run one.

Last week I did have my first taste of raiding, finally doing the weekly raid.  My friend who plays started a PUG group, and while I admit it I found it fun, it's not something I want to do consistently.  No doubt I'd probably suffer burn out if I did.

Currently, I've been leveling my pally.  Spent the past week leveling up his engineering and jewelcrafting, especially the JC, because he's at the point now where he can get armor he can socket gems to.  The pally is currently level 63.  When I first started playing it, I ran a decent amount of instances.  The last one I ran was Sunken Temple at lv. 47.  I'm enjoying the soloing experience as a retribution pally, but at 63, Northrend isn't too far away in the horizon, but I'll worry about that when I get to that point.  The prospect of running the same instances I've ran with my hunter a bunch of times already is NOT appealing.

Unfortunately, I had put myself into the mindset that I needed to keep up with the Joneses.  Had put myself in a competitive mindset.  Those are not good mindsets to have in a video game.  I've learned if someone who had a 1k lower gear score than I two weeks ago and now has a much higher GS, to let it go.  I don't know the details of how much they play, etc.  It got to the point where WoW just wasn't fun for me, so I had to be honest with myself and accept how I play the game.  Once I came to that realization, I embraced more fully the honest truth that I'm indeed a lone wolf in the world of Azeroth.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm Back!

I stepped away from my blog due to some personal issues that came up, but I'm back!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Player Types

As anyone who plays WoW knows, the world of Azeroth is full of characters!  Of course, said characters have all sorts of various personal temperaments, but here is a brief list of the player types I seem to encounter.

Mr/Ms. Efficient
This player is the one you want in your group when in instances.  They are the silent, but deadly type.  Not to be confused with the GO GO GO Dude (see next type), they may not be much for small talk, but do lend instance tips and strategies to those uninitiated.  Often, they wait to make sure everybody in the group is on the same page.  Not specific to any particular role.  If you get a Mr/Ms. Efficient in your group, get ready for a smooth run.

This is self-explanatory.  This is the player who (usually a tank from what I've witnessed), as soon as everyone gets into the instance, starts running off and pulls mobs, not allowing anyone a chance to buff.  He, or she, usually has a high gear score number, and doesn't take into account that not everyone in the party has a 5700 gs.  They say things like "let's clear this in 5 min.", and always goes straight for the main instance boss.  Wrath be to the party member who wants to defeat all the bosses for triumph emblems.  They are efficient of course, but probably too much so.

Mr/Ms. Social
This player is one you actually want to bother with (for me at least).  They are experienced instance runners and raiders, yet haven't forgotten that WoW is ultimately about making connections with other players.  They don't mind lending a hand when someone asks, and are able to lighten things up, even making (or trying to) small talk in instances.  While they may be experienced players, they are patient with other players, and don't call out players mistakes.  In an ideal world, instance and raid teams would be made up almost entirely of these players.  They also act as an ear if you feel like your in a rut with your toon, and are willing to give advice.

That Jerk
Ah...that jerk.  Another type that doesn't need explanation.  Probably a person who has self-esteem issues in real life, and takes it out on other pixels.  These players call out the mistakes of others with such phrases as "u suck noob", "lol huntard", among other encouraging words and phrases.  This player can literally ruin the WoW experience for players who let these jerks get into their heads (they've affected me, and I'm not the only one).  There's bound to be one in your party, and they either leave after bashing someone, or cause the party to fail. 

This is just s short list of player types that seem to populate Azeroth.  Of course, there are plenty of others, but the ones on the list seem to appear the most.

A Refreshing Break

A couple weeks ago a good friend of mine who doesn't play WoW (he tried the trial, didn't like it), suggested I take a break from the game after my ranting about it on a SATURDAY NIGHT playing billiards.  I was ranting about how I wasn't keeping up with the Joneses, especially with the Cataclysm expansion not too far off on the horizon.  He told me I shouldn't worry about that, as WoW is a game players can play at their own pace.  I took his advice about the break, and I did not log on at all during last week.  The first time in a couple months I took a day off, let alone week.  There was time for me to detox a little, as well as to put the game, and how I play in relation to it, in perspective.  I want to apologize in advance if this post seems a bit of a downer. 

When I logged back on over the past weekend, I didn't feel the frustration and sense of falling behind as I did before the break.  Instead of putting 4-5 hours of a weekend day into it, I put in less than one.  I logged in, ran a random, did a couple dailies, logged out.  I felt that was enough for me.  Sunday I logged less than an hour of playtime yet again.  For this session, I did several dailies (wasn't in the mood for a random), and logged out, repeated the same routine last night.  To my surprise, I felt content, which I wasn't feeling before the break, as I felt as if I wasn't making enough gold, or earning enough badges for gear upgrades, etc. 

The feeling was akin to when my toon was in the 75-80 level range.  I was in no rush to get to 80, going after some achievements, did stuff in the vanilla content.  To me, 80 was more of a destination than a goal.  In my mind, I'd hit it the level cap when I did.  Once I had hit 80, that mindset was erased, and replaced with one I didn't much care for.  When I logged in, no longer was I the mellow, fun, person that I bring into the game.  Instead, it was a negative alter ego; one who felt frustrated, left behind, lonely, and had no clue as to what the toon should be doing next.

During the hiatus, I was also honest with myself and how I play WoW.  If you read previous posts, I had mentioned how I'd like to try my hand at raiding before Cataclysm comes out, and the WoTLK content becomes irrelevant.  However, I realized that perhaps I wasn't meant to raid.  I realize WoW is a social driven game, and ultimately players need to work with others to accomplish certain tasks.  While I try to keep in contact with people on my friends list, and lend a hand to players who need one, I will always be a solo player.  I've PUG'ed instances numerous times, and I STILL feel nervous when waiting in que, afraid I'll be the "huntard" who screws things up, or has poor dps in relation to gear score, or makes "noob" mistakes.  If I feel that way toward 5-player instances that are easily cleared at this point, I'd probably have anxiety attacks if I tried PUG raiding! 

Putting things in perspective was necessary.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What's In a Pet's Name?

There seems to be a lot of hunters roaming the lands of Azeroth, with all kinds of companions.  Crabs, wolves, cats, crocolisks, dinosaurs and plenty other types of creaturs abound.  These pets have various names.  Some are simple, like Turtle for turtle (if the player doesn't rename the pet, it's named for the type of animal it is).  Other names range from the funny to borderline obscene.  Why do players who do name their pets name them as they do?  It's based on individual taste of course.  My pets have names that hold sentimental value.  I only have three pets currently.  They are:

Rascal: Wolf.  This is the pet I run with the most.  I named this one after my late dog in real life who we put down a couple years ago after having her for 16 years.  She was a trusty hiking partner, car passenger, and always greeted me when I returned home from school.  Though WoW Rascal is only a bunch of pixels, I feel like the real Rascal is adventuring with me in spirit.

KillerCat.  A starter hunter pet from Teldrassil.  My first pet.  Killer is the nickname for my cat in RL who, and not to provide gory details, likes to leave presents on our front door.  I usually find a mess on the front porch when I head out to work...  Killer in WoW though chases after game much  more imposing than mice or chipmunks.

Housatonic: Turtle.  I don't use Housatonic often, but it's pretty cool to roam around with a turtle trailing you.  Housatonic is named for the river that starts its journey in the Berkshires of MA, runs down through Connecticut to the Long Island Sound.  I spent many summers at the Housatonic boating, waterskiing, tubing, swimming, and louging under the sun by the river bank.  Those summer days were great... 

If any players come across this blog who are of the hunter class, what goes into naming your pets?

Is it Time to Change?

I'm pondering a guld change.  As I leveled my hunter, I was in several guilds. Most of them disbanded due to small size, lack of activity (which seem to go hand in hand), and of course, drama.  As I was levelling, I mainly enjoyed the social aspect of guilds; but now that I'm at 80, and am considering trying raiding before the Cataclysm expansion, I find myself at a crossroads.

The guild I'm in currently is small, consisting of only several players who have multiple alts.  I joined the guild because a coworker who plays is in it.  At the time, I still played solo for the most part, and had just hit 80.  My coworker was telling me how helpful and mature the guys in the guild were.  I figured I'd give them a try.  Of course, things can change over a period of a few months...

As it has been for awhile since I joined, it's really only the person I know in RL and myself who are on.  The guild leader has been on more often of late leveling an alt, but he was out of the game for awhile due to some computer issues, and wasn't sure if he was even going to return to the game.  I haven't seen some of the other members on for quite sometime now.  Needless to say, guild chat is either a lonely place, or a private chat for my friend and I.

My coworker was telling me about his wife on another server who raids, and how being in a guild, she has a reliable group of players instead of having to PUG, and who she seems to have  fun with while raiding.  A player on my friends list who is in another guild echoed the same thing about how it's easier to have guild mates to run with instead of spending time trying to get a raid group together.  That sort of got me to thinking.  Should I explore other options?  The players in my current guild are nice and helpful when they are on, but that is not very often.  I would like to experience the end game content with players who share my goals.  Unfortunately, I'm not getting that with the guild I am in.

Of course, this opens up the issue of finding a suitable guild.  For that, I don't know where to turn.  I'd like a guild that casually raids, with members who are mature and social.  I'm not looking for a hand-out guild, just one that can accommodate my type of playstyle, and not one that has strict raiding demands, etc.  For the reason I am not sure where my future in the game ultimate lies, I haven't jumped ship yet.  Perhaps I should try a PUG raid or two to see if raiding is even something I'd enjoy first.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Random Thought

After browsing though previous posts, I think I drank the gear Kool-Aid...

Enough said.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Feeling a Little Guilty

A quick background story...  It's the Culling of Stratholme instance, normal mode, via the LFG tool, four months ago. One of the party members is a druid from my server.  Much to the chagrin of the other party members, while clearing trash, he starts inquiring about my explorer tabard.  Once the instance is completed, he says he's going to add us to his friends list.  Okay. I add him as well.  I like adding people to my friends list for various reasons, though primarily social. 

I'm doing whatever I'm doing (probably a daily), when I get a whisper from him.  "Want to run VoA 25?"  At this point, I'm still in mostly blue gear with inappropriate stats.  Besides, from what I heard about getting a PUG raid together, just getting a party together can be time consuming.  Time which I didn't have.  I politely declined, and did so several more times.  One time he asked if I wanted to run heroic HoR.  Unfortunately, I can't because I have yet to complete the quest in PoS to unlock it (one day).

The decline that sort of made me think of how I've been blowing this guy off came this past Saturday morning.  I just logged in for a few minutes to check auctions and do the cooking daily before I had breakfast.  As soon as I log in, I get a whisper "want to run normal ToC so I can farm a tanking weapon?".  I could have.  That instance isn't time consuming, and a trinket can possibly drop that I could use.  I just wanted to log in and out, and replied I was only going to be on for 5-10 minutes, which I was.

I felt a little guilty for blowing him off yet again. I also feel like I'm coming off as a jerk. Part of the problem is communication.  He probably assumed I had progressed from point A to B from when we ran CoS a few months back.  I should have been clear with him the first time he asked (which I eventually did), that I am still in the process of gearing up.  If a raid leader saw the gear I had back then, I probably would've been booted.  I also like to have some advance notice.  I admit I'm selfish with my time. Since my free time is spread out over various other hobbies and activities, I allocate time blocks to WoW, and try to keep my playtime confined to said blocks. 

Now I have to think of what I can do to appear helpful to said friend...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finally Went to Stratholme

I'm admitting this now.  The Culling of Stratholme (CoS) instance in the WoTLK expansion is one of, if not, my favorite instance of the Northrend ones.  Other players seem mixed on it, but I enjoy it.  First, the lore aspect. Out of the Northrend instances, this one probably tells a story the best (the end of Pit of Saron) isn't far behind.  As a disclaimer, I have not been to the Halls of Reflection yet.  The other reason I enjoy CoS is the simplicity of the layout.  You basically run back and forth before you follow Arthas around through town to face the main boss, Mal'Ganis.

What did this inspire me to do?  Why, go back to vanilla and solo Stratholme of course!  Part of it was just to see how this version of Stratholme looks.  I couldn't really see, it was dark!  Another reason was to experience a higher level vanilla instance, with the thin hope of a mount drop from Baron Rivendare, the final boss.

What was my take on vanilla Stratholme?  It took awhile for me to complete, but I enjoyed the atmosphere of it.  This version is supposed to look like a town that has seen better days, with it's former denizens roaming the streets as zombies and ghouls.  There's also a section where the Scarlet Crusade, those pesky zealots bent on taking out the undead, hold fort.  Running this instance solo as a decently geared 80 made this an easy run for me.  However, if I were to run it with my paladin at the appropriate level (which I hope to do), it would probably pose a bit of difficulty.  The mobs are plenty, and the bosses can provide some challenge to the uninitiated.

Overall, old Stratholme did not disappoint.  It ties in nicely with the lore, the settings fit the atmosphere, and I picked up some decent loot to AH or vendor.  I recommend running this one.

Nearly a Flawless PUG Run

Earlier today I put myself in the LFG que.  I wanted the two frost badges that would get me to the 50 I needed to upgrade my cloak.  I was farming saronite in Icecrown when the invite screen appeared.  After clicking yes, I wondered where I was going to go.  Loading screen comes up for Forge of Souls (FoS).  I thought to myself this run will either be awesome, or lousy.  I completed FoS on normal mode with an awesome group that basically carried me.  I had subsequent runs on normal mode that failed (wiping at last boss and people fleeing party).  Now I was going to run it not only on heroic, but as an improved (vastly is pushing it), hunter.

As I normally do, I greet the other players.  They all say "hi" back.  Who knew!  We start by clearing trash, when one of the two paladins in the party says this was his first time there.  I chimed in by saying it was my second.  Before we get to the first boss, one of the party members gave strategy.  She said the boss was easy.  We'll see.  We take the boss (Bronjahm) down, with one party member wiping.  It wasn't to much of a struggle, but I notice the dps numbers.  I realized this is just the group I enjoy.  One where the members communicate with each other, everyone knew their role, and the players aren't putting out crazy dps numbers; just enough to allow the instance to provide a challenge.

We clear more trash with no problem, and get to the final boss, the Devourer of Souls.  Once again, we were provided with a strategy.  While it wasn't a easy victory, we defeated it with all party members alive.  In fact, besides me (go figure) we didn't take much damage.  I give props to the healer for keeping the party member's health up. 

This was one of the better PUG runs I've experienced.  It was smooth, everyone seemed to play their role well, and the instance provided just enough of a challenge to keep me at least on my toes during the boss fights.  I felt a tad nervous when I saw the loading screen due to previous experiences, but after today, my heart won't race as much when I see the FoS loading screen.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Childrens' Week School of Hard Knocks

This week is Children's Week in WoW.  Children's Week is a world event where you accompany an orphan with you, earning achievements along the way.  You can get an orphan in vanilla content (Stormwind for alliance, Orgrimmar for horde), one in Shattrath City, and one in Dalaran.  The good news MOST of the achievements are easy, and when you complete the quests for each of the orphans, you earn three non-combat pets.  Except there's one problem, or should I say achievement.  One that has gotten in the way of many players getting the proto drake for completing all the holiday meta achievements.  It is the School of Hard Knocks achievement.

The objective of School of Hard Knocks is being to complete certain battleground goals with your orphan out.  For non-PvP players (I'm definitely one of them), this achievement is either a nightmare, or players don't even bother to try for it.  I've read stories in forums on how players on both the horde and alliance were working together to complete it.  I've read strategies players used, stories of how some players tried it anyway despite not enjoying PvP, but none of that makes me feel inspired to go after this achievement.

Players have suggested Blizzard either take out the achievement, or revise it so a player would need X honorable kills.  Ideally, as a non-PvP player (the only battleground I've been to outside of Wintergrasp was Warsong Gulch), I'd like to see this achievement taken out.  However, I could live with the X honorable kill suggestion.  I'd go to a BG for that, albeit reluctantly. 

Thursday, April 29, 2010

PUGs = Grrr......

I do not like PUG'ing.  Plain and simple.  I feel forced to do it in order to advance (see getting badges for better gear).  I have groups where the run is smooth, everyone knows their role, we communicate, and if mistakes occur, we're cool about it.  Unfortunately, I'm finding groups like that more and more difficult to find.  What I run into now are impatient players who ridicule others for lack of skill/mistakes.  A prime example came last night in heroic Utgarde Keep.

I've run UK before.  It's an easy instance.  When the loading screen came up, I breathed a sigh of relief (it wasn't Oculus).  Should be a piece of cake, right?  WRONG! The tank was having difficulty holding aggro.  As a result, random mobs would come at myself and other players.  To the tanks credit, he was able to pull them back in.  The problem came with the first boss.  More specifically, the room with the first boss.

The tank pulls a trash mob wandering by the boss.  Somehow, the boss got pulled too.  Party wipes.  No worries I think to myself, we'll just try again.  Here's where the party starts to fail.  One of the players starts making sarcastic comments, and trying to place blame on the boss pull. I roll my eyes, thinking to myself this is ridiculous.  We'll just do it again and move on.

We try it a second time.  Same result.  One of the players comments how the tank was in DPS gear (probably didn't want to wait in que). That's never a good sign, and would explain the tank's performance.  Tank leaves party.  New tank comes in, and a couple of party members proceed to mock the previous tank's performance (after running instances and seeing the abuse the tank gets from party members, I'm NOT dual-spec'ing my pally to tank).

The third time really was a charm this time around.  The tank pulled the remaining trash mobs. Cleared them, then took on the boss.  We defeated the boss, but I noticed one of the players was dead.  Apparently, he was frozen tombed.  I should have noticed, and I will take blame for it, as my situatational awareness was focused on the boss and clearing the skeleton mobs.  Once again, more sarcastic comments (though they never used expletives except for one time after the inadvertent boss pull).

As I've grown used to doing when a party is full of jerks, I left the group.  There was a time when I used to put up with the sarcasm and jerks so I can complete the run.  Not anymore.  Sure, did I waste 15 - 20 minutes plus however long waiting to get into que, only to not finish the run?  Perhaps, but I usually use that waiting time to complete dailies and organize the stuff in my bank.  However, as the case was last night, I lost the chance to get frost badges (I'm only four away from my next gear upgrade).  I didn't have the time to wait around another 15 minutes, and spend another 15 to 30 minutes running something. 

The party last night highlights why I don't care to PUG.  I have no qualms with players who make mistakes, and I am very patient with other players who may be learning how tank, heal properly, etc.  I was, and to a point, still in that boat myself.  I admit I have been frustrated at times with tanks who couldn't hold aggro at all, or healers who were slow to heal, but if they communicated they were learning, or seem to be making an effort, I'm okay with it.  A little communication goes a long way.

You never really know what you're going to get in PUG's.  I've been in PUGs where nobody talks to each other, but we clear the run in ten minutes because the players are so good.  I've been in PUGs where the players were good, but were bickering amongst themselves over stupid stuff like gear and repairs.  I've been in PUGs where the players were pretty much all on par with skill and gear, and I've been in PUGs like last night.  Ideally, the best PUGs for me are with players of similar skill and gear, communicate with each other, and not take wiping seriously.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Go There Wolf...

As I've commented on previous blogs, I'm figuring out the mechanics of the hunter class in WoW.  A key component I realized, and I'm a tad embarrassed to say quite recently, is pet control.  Pets are indeed useful to hunters, but they can cause trouble too, which I've learned.  If there's anything good to come out of the LFG tool besides badges, it's that it allows players to learn things about their class they never thought about while soloing.

As I was questing along (I didn't even do 5-man instances until I got to the high 70s), I always had my pet on defensive mode, with growl turned on, because I didn't know any better.  As long as I was able to kill x number of boars or go speak with this NPC, it was all good.  I got the job done.  I didn't die.  I completed the quests and received my rewards.

Flash forward to a normal UP and heroic Nexus run a few weeks ago.  I had been running in PUGs, but nobody ever commented on what my pet was doing.  I let the tank pull the mobs, and once the tank was in place, I fired away, with my pet charging in.  In the Nexus run, I had my pet in defensive mode, and yes, with growl on.  The pet pulled a trash mob, and of course, a player in party made some helpful comment to effect of "the huntard pulled the mob".

That incident made me think of how I was controlling my pet during these runs.  So I put the pet on passive for subsequent runs, but still sending the pet in when it seemed it wouldn't be able to pull anything.  In the UP run, I was wrong.  I didn't think to turn growl off, so of course, the pet generated threat, and pulled another trash mob.  Once again, a player in the party made some sarcastic comment akin to "nice pull hunter". 

After those experiences, I keep my pet on passive 90% of the time while running an instance.  In boss fights, I'll let the pet go in.  Of course, growl is off!  I've been doing this the past couple weeks, and I was surprised the other party members didn't comment as to why I never send the pet in!  After browsing forums on this topic, I found other players put their pet in passive in instance runs too.  Of course, after the run is over, I put my trusty wolf back on defense, and turn growl back on when I'm questing.  

While I wasn't exactly happy about the way I was called out running the instances with my pet, it was a learning experience, so in an odd way I'm thankful for them being jerks.  It really hit home that I didn't think much of pet control, and hence, became a little more educated with the hunter class.  When I run instances now, I'm more comfortable as to when to use the pet, and when to keep it a spectator.  I haven't had any complaints yet!

It's All About the Gear Baby (Maybe)

Though my hunter hit 80 four months ago, I'm STILL gearing him up.  Some people I know who hit 80 after I did are all geared and running ICC.  The delay?  I got bored with playing that toon, and spent a couple months working on a paladin I started.  I also didn't run any random instances because of the jerk factor I encountered.  I play games for fun.  Random PUGs when I was a fresh 80 were not fun for me.  At the time though, I didn't really understand the proper gear stats for my toon, and from playing solo through most of the game, there was a lack of skill factor.  I began to think I'd be better off leaving the hunter behind and working on the paladin, which I was enjoying greatly...

Anyway, a coworker who playes encouraged me to give the hunter toon a chance.  So I did.  Along the way I did actual research on the hunter class, worked on my attack rotation, pet control, and...gear.  My gear was a mismash of bad stats, so I began to focus on getting badges to upgrade gear with agility, attack power, and crit.  Before, I was equipped with gear that had bonus strength and stamina (apparently I thought I was going to be a tank).  I even had a couple items with spell power bonuses...Yeah, it was bad!

That's a quick background story for my toon.  I began running normal Northrend instances to get familiar with them, and to work on getting my playing skill up. I also ran them with my coworker and people on my friends list to make me feel more confident in PUGs. Once I became comfortable with what I was doing, I put myself in heroics.  Sure, I made mistakes here or there (see forgetting to turn off pet growl), but my dps was no longer the subject of PUG taunting and criticism.  Of course, with feeling more confident with PUG'ing, I began running more of them (though I usually only have time for one a play session).  I had some boss drops that were item level 200 that I needed on because they had the proper stats for my hunter, and hence improved dps.  I was on my way.

I ended up accumulating some gear I purchased with triumph and valor emblems, and last night I purchased a chest piece in AH, as it is one of the best hunter chest pieces I could find.  I could use frost emblems for a better one, but I'm saving my frost for a level 264 cloak.  Frost emblems for a non-raider seem to take forever to grind, so I'm going the easiest route possible. 

As of now, most of my items are level 200 or above, except for the boots, and trinkets (I still have a green trinket).  I'm hoping a trinket upgrade drops for me in the Trial of the Champion instance.  On the priority scale, trinkets are at the bottom for me.  My dps numbers are decent now.  They won't blow anyone out of the water, or get me in ICC raids, but I hold my own.  I use a certain shot rotation that I feel works for me, though I sometimes wonder if I can tweak it even more.  My next test will be my next run.  I equipped the chest piece, gemmed and enchanted it.  My attack power went up by 150, hit rating increased by 20, and critical strike increased as well.  I'd be interested in seeing the numbers I pull.

I hear and read debates on gear versus skill.  I'm in the camp that it's a bit of both.  A player may be in all epic purples, but put out mediocre dps numbers because they may not have figured out how to play their class.  Or, they could be in a mixture of purple and blue gear, but put out good dps numbers because they know the proper mechanics of the class, have useful macros, etc.  From what I've experienced as I've been gearing up, my numbers do go up with better gear equipped, with using the same shot rotation.  I'd be willing to bet if I was still relying just on auto-shot using vendor ammo (I admit it), with the gear I have now, my damage output would probably still bring on the taunting and criticism.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The $25 Pony

I know I'm a tad late to the party regarding this, but Blizzard added a couple items to their pet store.  I rolled my eyes, and logged into the game.  Walking around Dalaran, I saw a slew of players sitting on ponies that were sparkling.  I rolled my eyes, but this time with a feeling of rage knowing Blizzard can get away with adding these things to the pet store, milking their player base.  Some players apparently don't see a problem with paying Blizzard more money in addition to the monthly subscription costs and and for the game itself.  But hey, it is their money.   

My friend, who doesn't play and I had breakfast over the past weekend.  He told me he could see Blizzard adding gear with extra stat bonuses to the store that players could pay for.  While I responded that I don't see that happening, I seriously can't rule out that possibility, especially considering I see so many people on these new mounts.  If Blizzard can milk the player base like this, and if it is successful, who knows what they'll do next.  My friend proceeded to ask me what I would do if Blizzard were to impliment adding gear you can only purchase with real money.  My simple answer: I'd quit.

Call me cheap, but I pay $15 a month to play the game, add in the actual game and expansions, and I feel I'm giving Blizzard enough of my money.  Items such as mounts should be earned with in-game currency and awards.  If they want to add a pony that sparkles as a mount, make it a rare one and have players earn it, and not turn over $25 for it.  I have a feeling Blizzard will continue to add to this store.  The fact I see so many players on my server riding this new mount adds confirmation to my feeling, but only time will tell.

If players want to spend the money for some mount that will probably mean nothing in a few years, or whenever WoW either goes away or becomes irrelevant, that is their choice.  As long as Blizzard doesn't charge for content that affects tangible gameplay elements (gear, quests, etc.), then I can live with them adding to their pet store, though I may not like it just the same.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Return of DtheDark?

DtheDark was the first toon I created close to a year and a half ago on the Grizzly Hills server.  He is an undead warlock.  I thought a warlock was a fitting class for an undead, or as I like to call it, zombie magic caster.  I didn't do too much with him.  Did some quests, got to level 34 about a year ago, and basically stopped playing him, instead favoring a hunter I created, which became my main.  As of just a few days ago, I thought of deleting him, but with Cataclysm on the way, I'd like to level a toon on the horde side before the expansion hits.  I also want to play on another server for a bit.  My two other toons are on Thunderhorn.  I'd like to see how the people are on GH.  While I'm sort of exciting about the prospect of running him out again, He's going to need some work to be an effective warlock.

For starters, being my first toon, and playing entirely solo outside of helping someone on a quest here and there, I didn't have a chance to learn how to play a warlock.  As a result, while he is mainly spec'd for destruction, his talent tree is going to be completely redone.  If I'm not mistaken, the talent points for that toon aren't spread out properly to achieve maximum DPS.  I just picked talents that seemed cool.  Perhaps they had some benefit.  Perhaps not...

The next area that needs work is gear. At level 34, he has two white vendor trash pieces!  The rest of the gear is okay, albeit not great.  First and foremost obviously is to upgrade those white pieces.  They don't provide any attribute bonus. 

On a note that relates to the previous!  DtheDark is broke.  I never really thought to use auction house, and vendored everything.  He may have two gold?  It's been a while since I last logged onto him, so I really don't know.  He does have skinning as a profession, so I can put some lower level leather pieces on AH that I don't need for tailoring (the first change I made) to get some money.

There's also the LFG system.  When I started DtheDark, leveling was a slower process, and geting groups to run instances was nearly impossible.  With LFG, he can find a group to run with.  I know his DPS numbers are going to be, well...let's say not great, but if I can get an item from the Satchel of Useful Goods that can benefit me, and some money you get as well, why not?

Can DtheDark roam out of the Undercity after a year?  Can I make him an effective warlock?  Can he be redeemed?  It may be difficult, but I think it is possible.  He's only level 34, so it is not too late for me to fix up the mistakes I made with him.  It may take awhile though, but it can be done.  It won't hurt to try.  As mentioned, I'd like to experience the horde quests, and experience a different server environment, perhaps make some new friends along the way. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Personal Opinion on WoW

I'm sitting on the cliched fence right now regarding WoW. I played a little last night, going after some achievements, when I felt I wasn't having fun. That's right. I was playing a computer video game, and not enjoying it. I could explain this off by saying perhaps I was in a bad mood, or I was bored with nothing else to do, so I logged in to play and kill time. However, I feel more blah when playing WoW than excited. The question I ask myself is, "why"?

I think one issue I have is I leveled my main to 80, and realized it all becomes a gear quest game, or so it seems. I'm working on upgrading my toon's gear, but it is not a big priority. I'll upgrade the pieces when I get around to it. I could have enough badges to upgrade a piece next week, or next month. It doesn't matter to me. However, it seems with many other players, it does, which leads to a whole other, yet somewhat related issue...

"Elitist" players running heroics. While my overall experience in PUG groups has been good, there have been a few where players complain about either another another player in the party, or myself. I don't really have that issue any longer due to some gear upgrades, but really? Just because you're all in epics, getting 3-6k DPS, doesn't mean all the other players in the party are. Many players running heroics are still in blues, and even some quest greens. I know that the elitist player wants to blast through the run as quickly as possible, but please show some patience to other players who are just starting to experience the heroics, and not sour them on it.

The next is the social elements of end game. I may have touched on this in an earlier post. One of the reasons I enjoyed leveling was the social element of some of the guilds I was in. They were mainly leveling guilds, and the players were friendly, sharing their time to assist other players when asked, and just in general sharing the leveling experience. Come end game, that seems to change. Some players who I befriended along the way...I kind of lost. They either stopped logging in for reasons unknown, or they geared up to begin raiding, met fellow raid-minded players, and moved on to that.

Overall, I'm at a crossroads with not only my main toon, but my desire to continue to play WoW. I don't have intentions of seriously raiding with that toon, so what am I going to do when I do finally gear it up? Do I stay with my current guild, which is overall quiet, and focuses on leveling and arena matches, or take a risk and find another guild that meets my social needs? One that gives me a chance to assist other players, while attempting a raid or two with more advanced players?

Overall, the excitement to play WoW just isn't there for me anymore. When I do log in, more often than not I feel like a zombie running the same routine over, and over, and over again. The questions I ask myself are why do I continue to play? What's holding me to the game? Could I be experiencing burnout? How in the world do other players have multiple toons at 80, while it's a chore for me to get even two to that point, including the fact Blizzard made leveling faster?

Those are all questions I need to answer for myself while I continue to sit on the fence.

Mixed Thoughts on WoW Achievements

This past weekend was Easter, and the weather was beautiful, so I didn't spend too much time on WoW. When I did play, I took a break from running heroics for badges to obtain better gear. Instead, I worked on getting some achievements that I've been real close to getting, but didn't push myself for those final couple tasks to push me over the edge. Some achievements I earned included having 10 mounts, the knuckle sandwich achievement (450 unarmed skill), the scavenger achievement, 100 Dalaran cooking awards, the Dalaran fountain fishing one, and being able to represent Ironforge in the Argent Tournament. Oh, toss in a couple of the Noblegarden world event achievements as well for good measure.

Those were some of the simple achievements. I tend of focus ones that are a good fit for playing solo, but I'm starting to run out those. Currently, I have 53 out of 75 profession achievements. There are some I could do solo, such as completing the different cooking dailies in Outland, and the 100 cooking receipes (currently at 96). However, after that, what can I look forward to going after? Some of these other achievements, such as fishing up the turtle mount, are too time consuming for me.

Working on getting these achievements is almost akin to other players running heroics for their emblems to upgrade gear. Once you have your gear upgraded, what's next? I feel the same way about achievements. That system is one of the few reasons why I still log in and play. They allow me to play solo, but still allow me to feel I'm progressing my character. At this point, I could work on PvP achievements, but I don't care for PvP. There are dungeon ones I can earn I guess, but don't feel much of an urge to run vanilla and Burning Crusade instances for them.

There are definitely still other achievements I can earn. I have to ask myself though, am I willing to put in the time to get them? Do I even care enough at this point to try to go after them? Would all of this matter anyway in the inevitable future when WoW either doesn't exist, or matter as much any more?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Goals Before Cataclysm

The next WoW expansion, Cataclysm will be here before we know it. That got me to thinking of goals I have for my toons before I get the expansion (I won't be one of the people hanging outside Best Buy on launch night btw). No doubt other players are trying to cover as much of the current content as they can before Cataclysm releases. In my case, with spring now here, and the weather improving, my focus on playing on WoW is going to drop until late autumn, so that may not happen. Anyway, here are some goals I have for my toons.

Crazyd the Hunter
Currently, I'm working on gearing up my hunter. Though I dinged 80 over three months ago, I started another toon for awhile to take a break from this one. On the hunter, I'd like to:
  • Get him geared up as much as possible. This is the main one. I've been running heroics the past couple weeks to earn badges. I've gotten some drops along the way too, but I have aways to go still.
  • Exalted reputations. I want to get as many of the Northrend factions to exalted as possible. So far, I'm on the right track. I have a few at exalted already, with several more at revered. Once the new expansion hits, there's going to be new factions to gain rep for, and the Northrend ones will probably fall to the backburner.
  • Achievements. Last night I earned the Knuckle Sandwich achievement. I wanted to get that out of the way, because apparently it's going to be gone in Cataclysm. There are miscellaneous small achievements such as the Dalaran fountain fishing achievement, etc.

Those are the main goals for the hunter. I would also like, if time allows, to go back to the Burning Crusade content and do stuff there. I sort of burned through it, skipping quests in multiple zones, and overall disregarding that content for the WotLK as soon as I got the appropriate level.

Magphloin, my paladin, is currently at level 47, questing in Tenaris. My main goal for that toon is to hit 80, or to at least clear as much of the vanilla content as possible before it all changes, but we'll see. I'm not going to go after so many achievements and titles on him like I did with Crazyd. Achievements, while fun, take a lot of time and effort. Magphloin is my experiment on melee DPS and learning to work with other players.

So those are some of the goals I have before Cataclysm. As mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I'm probably not going to rush to the store to by it when it releases, but do plan on getting it at some point. Between now and then, I want to get as much out of the game as possible so when I do finally get the expansion, I can focus my efforts on that content.

Monday, March 29, 2010

DPS Improvement

A couple months ago I was one of those huntard players who stunk out the joint with not too good DPS, gaining the mockery of people in PUGs who ran recount to see the woeful numbers. Yes, back then, I was pulling 700-900 dps, running heroics. Not a good fit. How did I get to that point? What made me wake up to playing my class (In this case hunter), better?

I posted last week about using the LFG tool to run PUGs to learn how to play your class, and deal with group dynamics in instances. When I was levelling the hunter, that tool didn't exist. Most of my instance runs were soloing vanilla content when I reached a high enough level, or helping guildmates leveling who need a hand with Stormwind Stockade when you're level 76... When you run instances like that, you're not exactly learning how to play your class. That becomes a problem when you hit 80, have unenchanted/gemmed gear, use vendor ammo instead of ammo with more damage you can get off engineers, increase inappropriate stats... You get the idea. It was pretty bad. As a hunter, I should have focused on agility as the main stat. Instead, I focused on stamina, because I saw it added hit points to my health (which is a secondary stat), and strength. It was messy, and nobody noticed it. If they did, they didn't bother to point it out.

I was able to get away with poor DPS on normal instances using the LFG tool. On heroics though, I learned a hard lesson. You WILL get called out if recount is showing DPS numbers that another member of the party deems too low. After several times of this happening, I decided to finally learn about my class. I studied up on shot rotation, overhauled my talent tree, got advice from other players, got purple ammo, and am currently working on getting more appropriate gear for the hunter (a slow process to be sure, but getting there).

The results are paying off. I still have some work to do, but I'm not getting called out low DPS anymore. The key thing is to take time to learn about your class. Happily questing along by yourself is a different cry from running instances and raids with other people. There's an expectation at that point that you have at least a general idea to play your class. Take the time to use LFG, especially at lower levels, go to sites such as Elitist Jerks, and seek out the opinions of more seasoned players. You'll be better off for it.

Me, Myself and I

I logged into my paladin over the weekend to clear out the quests in Dustwallow Marsh. I also left the guild that toon joined a couple weeks ago. I wrote a little of this last week. There wasn't much activity at all in the guild, and the officers weren't on for more than a week. I decided that perhaps exploring other options would be the best way for me to go.

Will I join another guild at some point? Probably. Do I want to join one now? Not really. If I get an invite, of course I'll try it out despite my shoddy history with guilds (most due to no fault of my own). From my experience playing the pally, having a guild really isn't necessary, especially with the new LFG tool. Sure, can guildmates assist in other ways due to professions and game knowledge? Certainly. However, having another alliance toon at 80 means that for most part, I know what to expect from quest chains, etc.

I could make the argument for the social aspects of guilds. Sure, it's good to be chatting about random stuff with other players while questing, but it's not a requirement for me. Due to being guildless/having a non-active guild for so long, I've grown used to the silence, and it's peaceful. No drama. No fifteen year-old spamming guild chat with stupid stuff all in caps.

I'm a little picky about a guild I can stay in long-term. A good guild is only as good as it's members. A good guild should have helpful players who make the game fun, who impart their knowledge, and add to the overall experience of playing WoW.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Being Patient and Having Fun

Last night, I ran regular Culling of Strat. through the LFG system. It was a good run. However, the tank lost aggro a few times, and I found myself with a couple elite scourge minions in my face attacking me. He kept apologizing, saying he's new to tanking. I told him no worries. We killed the mobs, and nobody got killed. The fact was, he was trying to play his role properly. I ran heroic Gundrak one day with a tank who could not hold aggro for anything, and blamed us for wiping (why does it always seem these "elitist" players are the ones most clueless).

The fact is, we cleared the instance easily, and the tank performed his role. While he may have been unable to keep aggro a couple times, he did well, and was trying. I can relate to his situation as a DPS hunter. I've gotten better playing the class, but when I was in my late 70s, and then 80 running instances, I really didn't know how to play the class (though the tank seemed to).

In the end, when players make mistakes, it's best to be patient with them. After all, as long as nobody wipes continuously, and the players make an effort during the runs, that's all that matters. I have no patience for "elitist" players who harp on small mistakes, DPS numbers, etc. I am patient with players who may still be learning, and are making concerted efforts to try, because from personal experience, I want to make the runs a pleasant experience. The elitist types turned me off from instances for nearly two months. I don't want that to happen to other players.

You Should Try...

The LFG dungeon finder system if you're leveling a toon. The reason? You learn to play in a group, and as a result, gain some mastery of how to play your class and role in the group. I was leveling my hunter before the LFG tool came out, and made it to 80, with very few group runs. As a result, by the time I started running instances, my dps was very low (vendor arrows and bullets, not using much shot rotation: see too much auto-shot), etc. My paladin on the other hand, I've been running instances as often as I can. As a result, I've gotten a feel of what attack order I should do as a ret pally to gain most damage, and have found myself in a healing role more than once when healers had lagging issues, etc. That will only help me when the pally reaches end game content.

While I enjoy playing solo, (don't like some PUG drama I've experienced), running randoms can be a good thing. Not only do you learn how to play your class, sometimes you may find yourself in a group with some excellent players. Take my pally run in Zul'Furakk. It started shaky. One of the players (not a tank), was pulling mobs, and kept getting killed. The healer (who wasn't playing her role too well), let out some kind words for the group, and left the party. Well, we got another healer and DPS player, and cleared it out easily. We chatted with each other along the way, and complimented each other for how well the ran went.

In the end, you'll get a mixed bag of groups. You'll find abrasive idiots, players who aren't trying, etc. On the other hand, you'll find players who are really good at playing their class/role, and are willing to give advice if there's problems (see my hunter DPS) instead of just bashing you for it. Besides, the chances you'll see these players again are slim. If all you do is quest, try putting yourself in que for a random. It's an easy way to gain experience, learn your class and spec, and how to deal with group dynamics.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The People You Play With

When you play WoW, do you find yourself wondering about the people on your friends list? I have. I haven't seen most of them on in a while. These were players who I ran instances with, who supported my toon in said instances despite my lack of end-game knowledge playing the hunter class. We'd chat about things going on in RL, etc. Then you noticed they haven't logged on for a few days, then a few weeks... What happened to them? Did they decide to walk away from the game without telling anyone? Are they taking a break? Did something happen to them in real life?

Just one of many mysteries to ponder...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Guild Thoughts

Before I started this World of Warcraft specific blog, I discussed my guild experiences on my main blog. Between my toons, I've been in several guilds. Most of them didn't work out. That can be due to a couple different reasons. Most of the guilds my toons were in were start-up guilds, with never more than 25 members. Due to lack of recruits to fill the ranks, most of them eventually disbanded. I've really only been in a couple good guilds during my time playing.

The reason I mention this is my dwarf paladin joined a guild a little over a week ago after being guildless for 14 levels and about a month. It was a start-up. I haven't been on that toon much the past week, but when I have logged on, I've been the only member on, and several members have left the guild. I find myself pondering if I should jump ship too. The fact is, I sort of enjoy the social elements of a guild, especially those with mature players. I'm not getting that in this guild. I may as well be guildless, only with a tag over my head so people don't spam me in Stormwind with guild invites.

I give the guild leaders credit on a couple things. First, one of them whispered me. I'd rather have it done that way instead of suddenly seeing "...has invited you to guild x". They also have a direction and focus on the guild - leveling. However, the guild officers don't seem to be on much, and as mentioned before, general guild activity is low. It wasn't too big of a surprise to me when I checked who was on last night, and realized the guild lost 6 members since the weekend. The intention and focus is there, but this seems like it's going to turn out like all the other small, start-up guilds I've been in before: folding up due to general inactivity.

The good news is, unlike my other toon leaving his guild, I haven't formed any in-game friendships with any of the members, so there's not as much of a guilt factor if I leave. Besides, there are other options out there, but I could very well end up making my pally guildless. I've gone through 44, soon to be 45 levels playing solo and pug'ing instances.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Regained Interest?

I may have mentioned my hunter toon, and how I've been neglecting him with the exception of farming mats and things to sell on AH to make money for my paladin. During last week, I decided to do the dailies to earn exaulted status with the Kul'uak (partially for the fishing pole). I ended up doing some quests that have been sitting in my quest log for the past few months, and other dailies. Meanwhile, Magphloin, the super dwarf paladin, hung around in Ironforge commons.

One reason I neglected the hunter was because of running instances using the LFG, and not being thick skinned enough to handle criticism of my DPS, or the general idiotic behavior I've encountered in these groups. I decided to try running him again, and did. I ran four heroic instances over the past weekend. Two with a coworker of mine who plays, and two with a couple of old guildmates. I figured it'd give me a chance to try out a different shot rotation, and earn Emblems of Triumph in the process so I can upgrade the gear.

The runs ran well. I had a purple bracer drop I won on, and was an upgrade to the piece I had before. In another run, a blue ring dropped, so I rolled need on it. Why? I provided more agility, which is a stat I overlooked while leveling, then gearing the hunter. As a result, my numbers when up, from about 1200 dps to 1400 - 1600. Sure, those numbers won't blow anyone out of the water running heroics, but for a toon still in blues and a green piece, it's not too bad I felt.

I felt motivation to log into Crazyd and get him back out there, instead of being put into the mule mole I put him in.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fast Levelling

My dwarf paladin is currently at level 43, getting close to 44. I've been playing the pally for less than two months, and add in the fact I still play my hunter toon, I feel I'm leveling quickly. I feel I'm losing part of the game experience by the fast leveling, which I have mixed feelings about. Many of the quests the pally can do have been done already by my hunter. Most of the quests have been done in the Eastern Kingdom continent. I usually grab as many quests as I can, complete them, and then are directed to another zone in the same continent. The opposite continent, Kalmidor, on the other hand, has only about 30 quests completed. My toon is questing in the Desolace area at the moment, basically skipping several zones in Kalmidor where it can quest because the quest levels are too low.

A big reason for the leveling is the new LFG dungeon finder. I put the pally in que, and after a bit of a wait, go into an instance with four random strangers. Running just one instance can move me up .5 to over 1 level a run depending on if my toon is rested or not going into it. I find I end up running two, sometimes three instance runs in a row. Partially because I enjoy running instances with this toon at the moment, and the fact that if you do a random, you get a goodie bag when you complete it with item upgrades (for the most part). Yep, I'm Pavlov's dog!

I know I can set the game so I don't gain XP. However, due to the fact my hunter has done most of the quests anyway, I don't feel too guilty about bypassing them. I'm considering, if I complete leveling the pally, on going back and going over what I missed. At this point in the game, I want to work on mastering my toon, something I didn't really do with the hunter.

WoW Quandry

I find myself in a bit of an quandary. This past Saturday, I was playing both my pally, and my hunter. Switching back and forth. I ran the pally through a few instances. I'd log out, and log into the hunter to run some dailies for gold, then to farm mats for the pally's professions. The weather outside was windy, rainy, and raw. Overall, it was a miserable day. A perfect day to play WoW. Or was it?

Things started out okay. I ran a couple instances with the pally, and ran them with a couple of good groups. Then I started talking to a player on my friends list who was in an old guild with the hunter. Another player from said former guild started up a new guild with her, and brought over several other players. I wanted to bring the hunter over, but the guild that toon is in has a couple of people I know in real life in it. If I left, they'd probably wonder what's going on. So I asked her about the pally. She said she'd like to have that toon in the guild, but being mostly 80s, they were planning on end game raiding. I felt a little bummed about that, but that's how things go.

Later that afternoon, my pally was in Stormwind, after running yet another instance, when another player offered me a guild invite, I accepted. Mainly because she whispered me, instead of of just sending out a random invite. After 14 levels of being guildless, the pally found a new guild. Granted, it was one of those small, start-up guilds; the kind that usually disband after a couple months, but I'm willing to give it a shot. Especially considering the guild message told us to "...and have fun =)" Isn't that the point of playing this game?

Needless to say, I found myself questioning if I should have the hunter leave the guild to join the new one my online friend is in, or stay with the current guild. I decided to stay in the current guild for now. However, I found myself thinking of online friends in WoW. Mainly due to the fact I'm realizing end-game content can separate online friendships. Player A may have a priority with raiding, or rep dailies with faction X. Player B instead opts to focus on profession achievements, or rep dailies with faction Y. The social elements at end game definitely have a different vibe to them than during the leveling process. While I feel somewhat connected to my game friends, I'm feeling that connection separate ever so slightly, and it will probably continue to do so as they focus on what their goals are, and I focus on mine.

After I logged off Saturday night, after playing who knows how many hours, and blowing off an invite for some drinks with my buddy at a bar where the local hotties hang out. I was disgusted with myself, asking why I'm concerned about my in-game friends when I have real life friends to tend to. Some of whom I haven't spoken with in months. I began to question my role in the game (not the toon). How could I pour so much time into building up those toons, while things in real life such as hobbies, and life in general, are being neglected? Hence the quandary.

When I reflect on the past weekend of playing, I realized I need to learn self-control. To know WoW's place in my life, and that other things should to precedence over it. I also came to accept that when it comes to on-line friends, they are not people I know in real life. As a result, I should accept the fact that they are paying their subscription fees to play how they want to, and I pay mine to play how I want to play. I can't be jealous because friend A is doing a 25 man ICC run, and I'm hanging out in Dalaran fishing. There's no excuse to blow a Saturday night out just so I can run multiple heroics for badges...

It's all about moderation, and putting things in context...