Thursday, June 30, 2011

IT: WoW = Disneyland

Being a California native and dad of 2 small kids, I have made numerous trips to the Magic Kingdom. Mickey is good friends with this orc and his kin. As an adult, one of the most intriguing aspects of Disneyland is mystic and freshness of everything. I can't help but marvel at the perfect flower beds, the clean park grounds and newness of everything. The time, I played the Human starting area, I thought darn aren't flower beds neat and grounds tidy.

Dungeon = Ride. Finish one ride, er, heroic dungeon, simply re-queue. Like on Splash Mountain, Brer Fox and Brer Bear will be right there again with Brer Rabbit captured (in honey) again, waiting for you to save him.

Disneyland @ Christmas
Holidays are never forgotten. Long is Disney's, and Blizzard's tradition of celebrating the holidays. Ok, this is a bit of a stretch, but I wanted to include it, especially since we're just ending a long series of in-game holidays.

 Interesting Cinematics - Now, I don't mean just the entertaining thing you see when you click on the fountain (you know where Snow White sings), but just the flow of things. I absolutely think of the Pirates of Caribbean each and every time I ride the dragon to down to the bottom of the Caverns of Time; the boat stuck in the wall, the ramshackle farm house and even the little 'stages' for each dungeon all add to the feeling.

Oh, sorry, gotta go. Got to light a basic campfire, there are s'mores to cook. Back to the adventure at hand.

Happy Vacationing everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2011

PSA: 4.2 Preparations...

The 4.2 patch is going to drop. MMO-Champion estimates this coming Tuesday (6/28). Sounds good, as it will give most people the long (US) holiday weekend to explore the Firelands new content and get them prepared for the new raid content.

Reminder on Currency Conversion:
With this new raiding tier, comes the standard currency conversion. At least, unlike Wrath, Blizzard isn't going to create a new currency, per se. They are simply going to devalue your current valor points, so that they are equivalent to Justice points. I'd like to suggest you spend some points this today and get yourself under 4000 combined total. I am a little torn about what to buy.
  • What you could buy now for valor points, will be purchasable in 4.2 for Justice points. So no effective price difference between today and next week. If you have enough, buy a valor item now.
  • If you have an abundance of Justice Points, then buy a BOA item and send it to that alt you've neglected. The BOA gear isn't going to change price and they're not adding (i don't think) anything new. 
  • Don't buy Justice Point items that have identical Valor point items. 
The alternative is that you get some gold for being over the 4000 justice point limit. 

Reminder on pre-patch clean-up:
Patches can hit like a Mack truck. Show up on Tuesday and run amok of everything, then drive off,  and leave you to cleanup. With this incoming load of patch, I suggest there are two things you pay attention to.
  1. Empty your in-game mailbox; don't forget the alts. I've had once where Blizzard lost all my mail and had to wait 3 days for it to be restored. When it came back the messages required 2 clicks to open, then another to grab the item. That was a lot of clicks on my bank alt's mailbox.
  2. Update your addons. With a major content patch like this, Blizz is likely to tweak the user interface. This means that you will likely have issues the next time you logon. Hopefully your addons are supported by people playing on the PTR, so day 1, you should have functionality. Just make sure you update them. 
Will it hurt if you do nothing? Probably not. You might find you have some extra gold in your bags, a few more clicks to empty your bags and your client might not load correctly the first time, but nothing permanent. Is it avoidable, or at least able to be mitigated now? Definitely. Prepare ahead and do a little summer cleaning.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Questing? Who Needs Questing?

Just before midnight on June 19th, Eride reached level 80. It wasn't that momentous. We had just killed the second to last boss of Oculus and loot was being distributed. I almost completely missed grabbing a screenshot when it happened. Happily, I was able to switch to healer (green) dragon rather easily after a test wipe. Spam #1 on boss, then it's a warlock style health funnel (#3) on the party.

At 80:
  1. BOA gear didn't appear to grant extra XP; when turning in a quest. I flipped between a level 80 green chest and the boa chest and saw the same 7500 xp for a hyjal quest. 
  2. BOA gear has an estimated iLevel of 187. 
  3. By replacing my wrath BOA gear, with cata greens, I was able to get to up to an ilevel of 216. I spent approximately 150g at the AH and bought 4 or 5 ilevel 265+ gear. 
  4. Questing in Hyjal, is, well, boring. At least compared to dungeon running. (IMHO). I completed 16 quests into the area, picked up a nice 275 green quest reward staff, then looked for something else.
  5. Dungeons have lost their locate me, before you play me requirement. At i226 gear score, I was able to queue up for BRM and TOT.
  6. So far, mana hasn't been an issue. I can only remember one DK tank who I couldn't manage to keep alive and it wasn't because of OOM issues. He would take damage in 40% hits, but this same tank also had patience issues. He started a boss fight in ToT before all the DPS was even back from the graveyard. b'bye, vote-kick!
  7. Gear sites like and are now (starting to be) relevant; providing gear options.
  8. During the last 2 dungeons, Throne and Blackrock, dropped a trinket for her. This means that she's replaced all pre-cataclysm BOA gear. This brought her gear score up to i277.
  9. Leveling isn't THAT much slower with only 1 BOA piece (cloak) and perks available with a level 16 guild. After the 16 quests, I ran 1 heroic wrath (70 justice points) and 2 normal cata dungeons (140 justice points) and dinged 81.
  10. At 81, 2 more of the Cataclysm dungeons opened up to me.
So, will I be questing my way to rep with Hyjal? Oh, probably not. I think my best option will be continuing to running dungeons, then start questing in Deepholm. That way I can get the nifty shoulder enchants. (hyjal's are BOA, so I can mail them from Elk).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


At least when I logged Sunday night I was absolutely positive that I had. See, upon logging into Warcraft, I was not prompted for my authenticator pin. I was sure that a hacker had my password and removed my authenticator from my account! To make matters worse, it was taking dreadfully long to get into my account last night, as Warcraft actually failed to load correctly.

I immediately went over to and found that my authenticator worked there. Hmm. OK, not removed. Come to find out, that Blizzard did this on purpose. They had implemented a new policy that states if you consistently access your account from the same location, they won't prompt for your authenticator, regularly.
Why didn't I get an Authenticator prompt this time?
The Authenticator system will now intelligently track your login locations, and if you are logging in consistently from the same location, you may not be asked for an authenticator code. This change was made to make the authenticator process less intrusive when we are sure the person logging in to your account is you.
 I like this idea, but hate the implementation. Blizzard has multiple means of communication with us end-users, and they could have used any of them to warn us of this major security policy change. I'd love to have seen on the realm page where I type in my password info, "We've changed the way we process authenticators, go to the Battle.Net Authenticator FAQ for more information."

The Good, Bad and Ugly.
How is Blizzard tracking my location? We will probably never know the full details of this, but Blizzard has straight said they were monitoring our account information. I believe it was soon after the mandatory roll over to the account requirement, that it appeared. I am guessing it is more complex that simply my IP address. Blizzard knows that:
  •  IP addresses can change regularly. All of users on dial-up DSL can guarantee a new IP each time they  start the computer. This would imply that each time I reboot, I'll be asked to type in my PIN. What's the point then?
  • A computer can be spoofed, sort of. You can spoof my PC name, by creating a virtual copy of my machine with my network card info (mac, IP) , but you can't spoof everything. Could Blizzard be doing a 'reverse lookup' of my IP address? Oh sure, why not. This is a spam-prevention technique. Take the IP address you are reporting, see if it is coming from a domain that owns it. 
Here's how I see it working, "The last 500 times, Elk accessed WoW, it was from 123.456.789.010. That IP address belongs to AT&T DSL in NorCal. Today he's coming in from 123.456.789.010, but it's tracing back to an enterprise connection provided by Cox communications, from a Las Vegas hotel. Get his authenticator PIN."

or else... (random stern look pic)
Blizzard, you can do better. Not everyone reads your forums, blog or other news outlets, but we all log into the game. Use the game to communicate to us, when you make changes to the way we access this game. This Warlock did not appreciate worrying about my security when there was no serious concern.



Monday, June 20, 2011

IT: Breaking the rulez...

I just finished listening to a fun little audio book drama. The story which, isn't safe for the mini-van, has a strong female character, a good dose of humor and is wonderfully put together with numerous voice actors. At the end of the book, the main character states that (I shall garble it up...), if don't break the rules, those who make the rules are in control, so break the rules and be yourself.

This got me thinking... <scroll idle thoughts logo>.. (pressing a little harder on accelerator ).. I like to think of myself as an individual. I play a warlock, the loner class of WoW. What are a few rules that we can break?

  1. Spend talent points on things seldom used by a build. I play a destro lock, with points into the Jinx talent (9/1/31). Why? Cuz, I want my CoE to spread around. Mana conservation on this highly mana intensive build. Of course, when I play Destro, I am usually lower on the DPS/Damage counters than when I play demo. ?? Maybe that's a bad rule to break.
  2. Wear PVP gear while raiding. PVP gear is often easier to acquire, especially if you're into running a single BG a night. Queue times are much shorter and there's no penalty if you need to drop mid-fight. Try dropping in the middle of a dungeon run and you'll get /ignore on a lot of people's lists. If I'm looking for a new i370+ item, I'm going to be checking the Honor point vendor just as much as I am checking with the valor point vendor. It's got Resilience, so live with it!!
  3. Strike up a conversation in PUG chat. Probably the most taboo of all the rules listed out, but I like to at least throw a "hey all" out there when we start a dungeon. Then if I don't know a fight, maybe say something like "what's this guy do?".
 I know, I know, some dangerous rule breaking going on. I gotta watch out, Blizzard could catch on, and like nerf my class. What sort of rules are you breaking? Or would you want to break, but need the peer pressure??

Friday, June 17, 2011

HealerTwink $

My Disc Priest has reached the time in her career where she's just about out grown her BOA gear. Last night, she reached level 78. In every other expansion, the last two expansions (58, 68), she seamlessly jumped into the next expansion dungeons. Cataclysm changed that and she'll be stuck leveling the final two in the Wrath dungeons.

Up until last night, I had been trying to figure out what she was going to wear upon hitting 80. I was even thinking that I should invest in the Priest tier-10 gear available in Dalaran. See 5 of my pieces of gear have stuck around since level 15 and I haven't really thought about what to wear.
  1. Chest
  2. Shoulders (quit wearing those about 2 levels ago)
  3. Main hand
  4. Trinket 1
  5. Trinket 2
Now, last night, I did a search and amidst the Wrath BOE (ilevel 160 - 180) gear, I spotted a ilevel 300 item that I could use. Yes! Cataclysm gear that my level 78 Disc could use. (Can I start go to Hyjal??) Run over to Orgrimmar, wander around the cata quest givers. Nothing. Checking forums, you need to be level 80 to start questing in Hyjal or Vashjir. :-|

Ok, how about this. Take Elk, out to Vashjir and start killing things. Grab every BOE piece of cloth gear and forward it to my priest. Should be really easy. Nice demo warlock AOE and everyone would be 4-7 levels lower than him. Unfortunately, after a quick peek at Wowhead it appears that my list of available upgrades is (really) short. There is the only the Mismantle series, which looks to contain one of everything, but the average drop rate, looks to be less than 1%.

So? Buy the best deals off the AH, but leave the actual gear acquisition until 80 when I can start, erk, questing with her. I guess that is a good thing, because she needs the rep. Looking back at her Wrath rep score card:

it is pretty dismal. The only group that really LOVES her is the goblins and that's because she championed them in the last few dungeons. Goblin Trike in PVP FTW! (Orgrimmar now, she wants the vendor discounts.) No BOA shoulders, means I can enchant them. So, I am really going to need to get the Therazane rep to get the Cata shoulder enchants. Guild doesn't want a healer that didn't enchant those shoulders.

At approximately 3 hours or 3 dungeons a level, she is quickly approaching the level 80 threshold. Bank alt to possible raid healer. Whew! It's been quite a bit of change for this once despised toon. IMHO, the BOA gear was an excellent investment and this toon's savior. Sure there are a lot of dungeon drops that I could have grabbed along the way, but the advantage of not having to (or being able to) enchant the gear has saved me tons of gold. I've still had to deal with all the non-boa items (head, neck, pants, trinkets) and that alone has cost me plenty.

(Ran a long dungeon chain before this post dropped. Went from high 78 to high level 79.)
end of dungeon chain
turn 2 quests from ZF, then explore zone
Got 82% of 79 completed in 74 minutes.

65 levels with no world questing, grinding or worrying about flight points. Just me and 4 other people running dungeons randomly, but not heroically. (It's the healer queue, so it makes up for dealing with PUGS.) It's been a blast and a great class learning experience. Personally, I think this is the BEST way to level a healer; i.e. healing in a group situations. If all goes well this weekend, she'll be leveling in Hyjal by next week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The 4.2 Currency Conversion, BOO!

I just realized the full impact of the upcoming 4.2 currency conversion. See, I have been saving my valor points in order to purchase that 700 valor point wand, immediately when 4.2 drops. Unfortunately, it appears Blizzard is not going to let that happen.

With the release of patch 4.2 all Valor Points will be converted down to Justice Points up to the 4000 point cap, with any points over the cap being converted to gold at a rate of 47 silver per point. In addition, all previous Tier 11 Valor items will now be purchasable with Justice from the Justice Point vendors, and new Tier 12 Valor items will be available from the Valor vendors. (source)
So, if your valor + justice points equal more than 4000, SPEND SPEND SPEND. Buy an heirloom piece, buy a bag of goodies.  Personally, the 47 silver for each point over 4000, isn't going to be worth it. At least, I'll get my 2 more tier items (legs and hands) immediately.

Final note: The last PTR download was under 5mb. Besides some last minute tweaks, I'd highly anticipate 4.2 on June 21st. First day of Fire Festival + Rage of Firelands.. See a theme??

Monday, June 13, 2011

SSOTD: Stained Class series

Over at Disciplinary Action, they've gone through all of the various classes and displayed their best characteristics as a stained glass window. (Edit) Nicely done, so that half the windows are alliance and half are Horde. The warlock, is Goblin.. :) (Guess I needed to look closer at each one).

(Also a great resource if your alt is a disc priest.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Shared Topic: Dying

Sharden asked
How do you think dying in an MMO should affect the characters? In WoW we have a relatively insignificant repair cost from durability for a PVE death and no consequence for dying to another player. Do you think this is enough, too much, or needing improvement? 

I had thought a bit about dying in our MMO. As a fairly avid video game player since the 90's, I've had my fair share of virtual deaths. In many of those games, dying meant returning to a save-point; be it one manually triggered when I thought I was doing good, or the milestone-type rebirth you get in a Wii game, dying seldom meant an actual death. Usually the death was fairly painless. Sure, you may have to replay a portion of content over again, or lose one of those precious "lives" you have gathered in the game, but you went on.

In Warcraft, the world does not stop; the game does not go back in time upon your death. Despite all my best efforts, The World of Warcraft does not revolve around me. You die and now you need to resurrect yourself. Easy. It costs a little gold and you may find yourself in the same fatal situation as before and end up dying again, rather quickly. What are some of the alternatives?

ain't easy being green?
Real-Life: You die, your dead. No resurrection allowed unless, well of course, depending on the religion you follow. Imagining an MMO were you'd build a new character each time you die. The game would be shallow. Maybe only a few levels to go through. Leveling would likely only be done via non-violent means. There would be absolutely no PVP functionality. Maybe they'd call it "The SIMS Online"? (which does have a dying method, but 'natural' causes. The penalty being ~2 hrs until you can res.) When you die, maybe if you did enough good deeds in the game, you could transform your toon from one being to another. (I wanna be a frog and swim all day).

EverQuest: (Based on a conversation with a co-worker, this is how I understand the process.) The resurrection process in EQ is a bit more like WoW raiding. If you die while playing the game, you cannot simply run back to your body in ghost form and click the "accept resurrect" button. You could either run naked from your 'camp'-point (not a graveyard) to your body and then pickup your gear. OR you could have one of their healing classes summon your corpse to you, but only a select classes could do this. You would take gear damage and you would also lose a bit of your XP. Imagine during progression raiding, with numerous wipes, you could possibly drop a level.

Now, consider the WoW death penalty again. You die. You run as an untouchable ghost from a local graveyard (now much closer in Cataclysm). You click the resurrect button and you've only take a 10% durability hit. A few gold out of pocket and you're back to normal. If you find your corpse is un-retrievable, you hit the 'return to graveyard' button, chat with the spirit healer and take the 25% durability hit. Done.

In vanilla EverQuest the death penalty was severe. Players would lean forward in their seats, one-hundred percent focused on the game during combat. [...] In WoW, with its less severe death penalties, players often multi-task during routine game play; such as watching TV or surfing the web.  ~Dan @ Massive Thoughts
As Dan eludes to, the death penalty imposed on a player helps increase the intensity and the involvement of the player. High death penalty and they will be doing everything possible to avoid dying, even if it means running out of a zone with a chain of mobs chasing you. Lower the death penalty and they will be less involved in the game; caring less if they die.

Speaking of... hmm..This reminds me of the "__ made it to max level in 4 days played" articles (back when getting to max level meant an easy 2 weeks  played). See at low-levels before you have a mount, running is the slowest piece of the game. These players would purposely die when they finished their last quest, res at the spirit healer, res-sick, but be within a few hundred yards of the repair and quest turn in location. This would not be possible in EQ.

Is the death penalty in WoW OK? Based on Blizzards philosophy of opening the game for all players, a minimal death penalty is ideal. Clients are punished for dying, but usually not more than some time lost and a bit of gold (which is usually repaid by the end of the next quest). Making it more painful, IMHO, would limit participation. Blizzard encourages PVP, which typically includes numerous deaths, by making it 0 cost to participate (including the healing, mana and minion replacement). In many ways, this is what keeps WoW alive. Players have a harder time getting bored with the game, because they can take risks and not get painfully punished. PUG Heroics? Sure! PUG a raid? Why not! Work on that Childern's Week PVP Achievement? Heck ya'!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Start of the Summer Slump

Last night's raid failed. We simply didn't have enough people to get the party off the ground. Sure, it was our healer's RL birthday, so he and his wife (2nd healer) didn't log on. Unfortunately, the crowd 3 people that did logon weren't motivated to do anything else. No raid? Guild chat is filled with a round of  g'night! all. Sadly, no one wanted to run a single heroic.. :(

I blame the pug. Nobody loves 'em. Everyone hates that he rubs his hiney on the carpet, has smelly, kibble breath, and constantly yelps. As I mentioned earlier, even the bag of goodies for the Dungeon Call to Arms, doesn't appear to be encouraging those necessary players to 'do one for the team'.

Really, why? Most people who are seriously raiding multiple times a night have all the gear they could want. They are either sporting an average ilevel of 359 gear (or heroically higher), or are very close to max'd out on tier gear. No need to suffer the pug's smelly breath, if all you want is to improve your gear. Raiding, or really, heroic raiding is the only thing that will suffice.

So, here begins the summer slump. Attendance is impacted by RL vacationing. (trip to beach <> WoW) Kids are up later and more outside activities consume the standard raid time. If 4.2 doesn't drop relatively soon and bring new raid content, attendance of the regularly scheduled raids (not just my casual group) is going to start suffering.

Good vibrations coming from the PTR. Last night when I checked the last update to the PTR, I downloaded a total of 40mb. Considering the game is 25gb, 40mb is like a single grain of rice, in a steaming, hot bowl of teriyaki chicken..That is a good sign that it should drop rather soon. (guess I shouldn't blog before eating).

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Ask a Dev (#10): DPS Edition" is open for questions...

If you haven't seen it, take a look over a the DPS edition of Ask a Dev. Here are questions that are coming up on the forums. If  you have questions, that you would like the Blizzard devs to answer, now is the time to submit. Here's the warlock related items, in no apparent order ('cept how I found them).

  1. 2 questions about new skin for our pets. Really?? (#8 and #47)
  2. Thoughts about Warlock dots? (#101)
  3. "only one warlock PVP build?" (#10 & #77) How about an entire PVP tree (Rift anyone?)?
  4. single target dps for demo locks?(#24 & #71)
  5. complex warlock rotation at low levels for minimal dps gain (as compared to dps gains at higher levels). (#35)
  6. using felhunter as a demo lock?  ( #47)
  7. soulburn revamp? Only 2, maybe 3 good uses. Any chances to add new functionality? (I like soulburn + soul stone for instant battle-rez!?) (#39 & 71)
  8. Revamp of warlock talent trees, demo = buffbot, destro straddled with ISF (#118)
  9. Soul swap explained.. (#82)
  10. Possible role change (healing, tank) for dps-only classes? "buff for these dps only classes" (#83 & #97) Hybrid tax (#41)
  11. Chance to reduce the RNG factor of some DPS classes? (#90)
  12. Linking dps with other classes. Warrior refreshes warlock dots? Mage and hunter both multi-shot, why not proc each other's spells? (#69)
  13. Ranged = good pve, bad PVP; melee = good pvp, bad pve. Any changes? (#49)
  14. So few caster +hit items, that we have to 'sell our soul' to get hit capped! (#60)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PTR Wall of Text

I logged onto the PTR tonight (5/31 - 6/1) and decided to take things for a spin. Since "a picture is worth a thousand words", here's my wall of text:

A i378 Wand for 700 valor. Good bye Corla's Baton.
(yes there is also a healer wand)

Update: As Xayide pointed out in the comments, they just introduced a Crystalized Firestone Quartermaster in Firelands. There's more info on this on the Wowhead blog, but by downing a Firelands boss (minimum gear iLevel 355 requirement) you can pickup a firestone and exchange the stone with your item to get the i392 item. 

New i378 Valor point bracers. (Healer and DPS)

New Tier Gear is the same price as existing valor gear.

Old Tier Gear is priced equivalently, just in JP.

Last, a new animation for Soul Harvest!
No longer look like a shadow priest.

I don't remember a portal in Hyjal back to Orgrimmar??

Finally, I ended the night, by starting the epic quest chain to rescue Thrall. I got about 10 quests into it, then was DC'd from the server. If you read "The Shattering", consider this part 2 of Thrall's (aka Go'el) story. He comes to finish up the healing of Hyjal, only to be kidnapped and you need to save him. This chain would be best served with a crew. There will be a lot of competition for kills (kill 20 of these elementals, blah).  On the PTR, I was competing with Horde and Alliance characters. They respawned really quickly and had 0 aggro (green) until attacked. This may change in final production, but it was nice due to the respawn rate and they hit like a truck.

Elk, Elk?, Aggra and Thrall head out for a meeting.

Taming MOAR Pets

WFH means Work Warcraft From Home Monday was a work from home kind of day, so I worked on a little project of my own. I saw this on Twit...