Monday, June 1, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Is this a suggestion or a complaint? Maybe it's a little of both.

Recently, a few of us went into Alterac Valley battleground for a little PvP. We met a horde killing machine. They broke into groups and ran roughshod over the alliance. It became painfully clear, after they took a graveyard and refused to leave, they were honor farming.

If you don't PvP, you may not know what "honor farming" is. It's a reason PvP is loathed by a lot of people. Above is one of the alliance graveyards in Alterac Valley. A group of horde has taken over the graveyard and, every time someone rezzes, they are immediately set upon and killed. Until someone actually clicks on the flag for the graveyard, horde will just stand there and kill anyone who tries to rez and run away.

The problem is that resurrection in a battleground is controlled by the game. If you stand in or near the graveyard, even if you don't click on the "release" button, the game will release and resurrect you. You come back in the middle of 10 of the opposing faction and you stand no chance of running away or surviving. And every time someone of the opposing faction kills you, they get honor. The other faction is doing this on purpose and has very little intention of winning the battleground. They just want the easy honor kills.

We were stuck. If you left the battleground before it was completed, you were stuck with a deserter buff. This means you can't go into another battleground for 15 minutes. If you rezzed, you were immediately killed. If you didn't rez but stayed near the graveyard, the game rezzed you and you were killed. If you ran away, you discovered there were no alliance controlled graveyards on the map because alliance couldn't get past the knots of horde. The few who did make it past were not enough to overcome guards or horde that lingered at the back to keep graveyards horde controlled. Eventually, alliance ran out of resources and horde won by default.

This is beyond aggravating to me and, as I mentioned above, it's one of the reasons PvP has a negative image. This is no fun. I don't care to be honor farmed. I consider this an exploit. Minaithelan, Spectacular Death's PvP officer, points out that, once you die, you are worth zero honor for 20 seconds to the horde who killed you. That's not enough time. In graveyard camping, that horde can kill you over and over again, knowing he won't get honor for 20 seconds after killing you, but honor every other time. When you die repeatedly, he's going to get more honor even with a debuff. 20 seconds is a pittance of time.

I would like to see negative honor for graveyard camping. If you or your team decide to camp a graveyard, honor is taken away. Let people rez, get health back, buff up and then go back into combat, knowing they have a fighting chance. The boundaries of the graveyard should be 20 feet beyond the visual fence, too, so you can't just stand at the sides and wait. I think honor should be removed at double what you would get for killing me. I think it should be team wide, too, so the pressure of the group is brought to bear on people who find graveyard camping in battlegrounds "fun".

If this is too complicated to implement, then I'd like a "Get Out of PvP Free" ability. Once every 90 minutes, you have the ability to leave a battleground before it ends without the 15 minute debuff. My guild mates and I hung on in Alterac Valley, ultimately deciding to run away from the graveyards, out into the field where we couldn't be auto-rezzed. We wanted to continue to do battlegrounds without the deserter debuff because it's not our fault that we can't play as the event is designed. This is a classic case where an ability to get out would save sanity and make PvP more user friendly.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Hunters love their pets. When I started playing WOW, you could have 3 pets, period. I got UrsaMajor, a Loch Modan bear, and never considered getting another pet until Wrath of the Lich King brought exotic pets and the ability to have 5 pets with you at once. You didn't need to find a stable master when you could finely tailor the pets you might need to the raid, the group or the soloing experience.

With Mists of Pandaria, our stable slots exploded along with new skin colors and new pets which were suddenly tamable. You're still limited to carrying only 5 but having a total of 55 stable slots means having a wide variety of pets at our disposal. But we still want more. While I don't have all my available slots filled, I know hunters who do. With new pets in Draenor, we are still looking around at all the animals populating the world and thinking, "Why can't I tame that?" Here are two cases in point.

We met large frogs on the Timeless Isle. These two fellows are from Shadowmoon Valley. Frogs aren't tamable. I would imagine the animation to make a frog hop (race?) alongside you as you're riding off into the sunset makes these tough to offer. I'm envisioning their special ability would be a shooting poison or, as the battle pets can do, a sleep or a charm. I might actually tame a frog.

Another animal I might actually get is this wolf from Shadowmoon.

A number of hunters in my guild would tame one of these guys in a heartbeat, if they could. Their inability to be added to a hunter's stable may mean they are considered demons, rather than animals. They have been corrupted by the Shadow Council in residence nearby, as the frogs in the above photo have. Still, that green.

I'm not a fan of wolves. I've never really liked their look but I'd get one of these. I remember when you couldn't tame the runed demon dogs of Wrath of the Lich King. They are to be found usually around warlocks. I have one in blue and you can get a green and a red version. I remember when they were added to the taming list so there is precedence for making a demon tamable by hunters. I know there is the special shadow wolf, Gara, available for hunters, but I don't care for the purple.

So, Blizzard, we'd like to see these two pets added to our stables. Yeah, yeah, more stable slots would be nice, but I'll settle for the simple ability to tame these.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

If you've run Tempest Keep, you recognize the items highlighted in orange in the bag. Ah yes. These are the legendary weapons Kael'thas Sunstrider gives you at one point in his fight. At level, you needed these weapons to overcome the adds. Now, they take up bag space or are ignored after the phase when you or the group defeats them.

We got to thinking. These designs are unique. You won't find a complementary weapon in the game. The reasons one runs TK now are:

  1. the battle pets that drop:  Brilliant Phoenix, Crystal of the Void and the mini Fel Reaver
  2. transmog
  3. you're a recipe completionist and there are patterns in here you can't get anywhere else
  4. you need/want the achievement for completing the raid
  5. you want Ashes of A'lar

All are valid reasons for running the encounter. The battle pets and the mount are reasons to run this every week. It took me years to get my Ashes of A'lar mount.

We came up with another reason we're suggesting. What if you could hold onto these weapons for a time outside of the raid? There are a number of things; the ephemeral fishing pole is a good example; that are considered temporary items, but you get to use them for a fixed amount of time. The fishing pole lasts for 24 hours in real time. How that works is you get the pole and the timer starts. Every time you log in, more time is taken off the use of the pole until that 24 hours is up. If you play one hour every day, it will take you 24 days to have the pole despawn. The fishing hats you can fish up in your level 3 fishing shack last for 7 days; again, in real time.

What if these weapons from Tempest Keep lasted for 7 days, real time? They wouldn't have to scale, although that would be cool. I'd use the shield and mace on my warrior cow for older content just because they look cool. Don't allow them for use as transmog, but I like the idea of having these unique weapon skins out in the world for more people to see.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Out And About

by Gimmlette

I don't remember this being here.

This is from the Tanaan Jungle starter quests, specifically the quest that frees Gul'dan from his prison. I was running around deactivating the crystals and saw this. I don't remember this crystal having a sword through it when I was through here on Gimmlette. Is this something I can obtain on my warrior? Was it added later? The sword design is one a number of one and two-handers use. It's huge, so I'm guessing it was an ogre's. It's not big enough to be Mannoroth's.

Does anyone remember? Did I miss this the first time through, which wouldn't be unusual?

Monday, April 27, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Remember flying around the zone Zul'Drak in Wrath? It was not my favorite zone. I didn't like the color palette chosen; blue, white, gray, brick red, brown. The story line through ZD was interesting, but some of the questing was difficult and was a lot of "go here and kill 15 of these". The best part was freeing the troll animal spirits.

One of the interesting things about Zul'Drak was the broken irrigation system around the east side of the zone.

I think this was modeled on the ancient Roman aqueducts which still work in some areas of the world. Sections of ZD's aqueducts are broken so the water doesn't travel the full length of the system. This section is over by The Argent Stand.

I have always thought it would be way cool to have a quest and achievement to ride the system from start to finish. It would be like Donkey Kong's mine. You remember playing that, right? You'd get a small raft or boat and have to leap it over the broken sections, picking up power ups to make you go faster or leap broken sections with ease. Leaping, hopping or jumping is something I do not do well. I would, however, spend a lot of time trying to ride this if there was an achievement for doing it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Out And About

by Gimmlette

So, do you have your jukebox yet? It was a big deal when a lot of guild members got their juke box all at around the same time. Several people set out into the world to find all the music scrolls. If you get 20 scrolls, you get the achievement, Azeroth's Top Twenty. This gets you the toy, Portable Audiophone, so you can take your music anywhere.

The above is the mystical mushroom circle in western Tirisfal Glades. Sprite darters converge on this circle to sing. It's a very interesting song so make sure you're playing with your volume on. I don't often have the volume on, particularly when I'm doing battle. I find a large amount of battle sounds annoying.

This used to be a random event, unpredictable as to when it would happen. Now, because a music scroll drops from the center, it occurs roughly every 30 minutes. The whole event lasts for 5 minutes. The sprite darters start assembling at the edge of the circle and start singing. Their song heads to the center. You click on that junction to get the scroll. If you look around, you'll see the deer of the forest, which are ravaged by the scourge, come to the edge of the circle and are untargetable. Once the event is over, you can kill them and, if you're standing on top of one, it will attack you. They are level 80 so it's easy to dispatch them.

You can find the circle by getting to the sewer entrance to Undercity. Once there, you'll need a flying mount. Fly west and a bit southwest. You'll come to an area of the map where there is a lake surrounded by forest. You might need to run around a bit south of the lake to find the circle. You'll need to devote a maximum of 30 minutes to wait for the event to start. When it's over, if you've never been here, jump into the lake just north of the center island and swim to the bottom. Any guesses on what that's doing there?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Blizzard has done a great job of adding to the very large roster of tameable pets. Several times during expansions, we will see yet another family becoming available for use. If you're a Beast Mastery hunter, you have 10 more families from which to choose a pet. In the Beast Mastery "exotic" roster are the two headed Core Hounds. I have a couple, the red named core hound from Upper Blackrock Spire, and the named purple core hound from Blackwing Lair.

Shown above is a void terror. This particular one prowls the Sunwell Plateau raid. These are considered part of the core hound family, but aren't tameable. Every time we come into Sunwell, we hunters think just how cool it would be to have one as our hunter pet. One of the problems with this particular family is that these aren't technically hounds. They are demons. It would not be out of character for a hunter to tame one of these. We do have, within the dog family, demon dogs and runed demon dogs, both of which can be tamed. I remember when the runed demon dogs were allowed to be tamed. I rushed out and got a blue one. They have a neat look. They are usually found with warlock mobs although they are not part of the demons warlocks can summon as pets. So there is precedent for allowing hunters to tame demons.

But if it would be out of character for hunters to use the void terrors as pets, why not add them to the warlock's stable? To the right in the photo above, you'll see a small void terror battle pet which was added to Sunwell in Patch 6.1. Everyone has the opportunity to get that. I can see not allowing hunters to tap into the shadow realm to summon a void terror but it would be awesome to have my gnome warlock summoning something 6 times her size. I'd even do a quest chain to be allowed to summon it.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Casually Guilded: A Guide to Resource Accumulation

Note:  I have been absent from posting anything to this blog due to a month of being excessively busy. Please accept my humble apology. More content will be coming soon. --Gimmlette

by Gimmlette

You saw it, I'm sure. In Patch 6.2, you're going to need 6,000 garrison resources to build the next big thing, a shipyard. You need 5,000 to build the thing and 1,000 to make it operational. After BlizzardWatch reported this, Blizzard attempted to walk back the number.

WarcraftDevs @WarcraftDevs@BlizzardWatch It is a placeholder amount. We'll lower it for an upcoming build to avoid further confusion.

While they say they are lowering it, I wouldn't be surprised if the 6,000 figure sticks. You need to have a level 3 garrison to build the shipyard. Once you get to level 3, making the required amount of resources should not be a problem. I routinely max out my resources 4-5 times per week. That's 10,000 resources, regularly, even if I use up a chunk of them. Let me tell you how I do it. 

First of all, I am not spending resources. I don't have anything I'm desperate to obtain which needs resources. I recommend that unless you have things you need to spend resources for, don't spend them until you have 6k. "Need" is the operative word here. If you don't have 6,000 resources, save until you do. Don't spend any other than what you would use to send followers out on missions. Admittedly, if you are upgrading a garrison, your resources have to go towards that project. But you need to spend them there if you want the shipyard. Make sure you're spending your resources toward the things that lead towards the shipyard. 

Second, look at those missions. Here were my available missions for Thursday. 

I have a hierarchy of which missions to take. (I use the add-on Master Plan to see, at a glance, what I have available and whether I can be successful in completing it.) I'm working on the achievement, The Rarer The Better, so my first order of business, after gearing up any followers who need it, is to send them out on any rare missions. To me, it doesn't matter if it's a 645 or a 90 mission. If it's rare, I do it first. I am a bit over half-way toward the achievement so this order won't change any time soon.

Then, looking at my garrison resources at the upper right of the panel, I see that I don't really need resources. Even when I deploy all my followers, the amount of resources I have isn't going to get below 9800. So, gold is the next priority. (I'm saving for the hippo mount from the apexis vendor.) Then, I take any gear missions I have. Even a 570 level piece is gold in my bank. When that's done, I start taking the resource missions.

If my garrison resources are below 8,000, and they will be on Tuesday when I use resources to buy seals for raiding, I change the hierarchy of missions. The amount of resources I have on Tuesday determines if I use those or apexis crystals or a combination of each, to buy seals. My personal cut off is 8,000 resources. If I am below 8,000, then I flip flop the gold and garrison resource missions. Resources then come before gold in the hierarchy of what I do. Got that? Okay moving on. 

Your followers have been dispatched. Let's look around my garrison. Your first stop for resources should be the pile next to Sargent Crowler. 

The maximum amount allowed in this pile is 500. If you have a stack that looks like this, check your resource total before clicking on it. This stack will take whatever amount you have available up to 10,000. So, if you only need 322 resources to hit 10,000, that's all you're going to get out of this stack, regardless of how many have accumulated. I can't tell you the number of times I have failed to accumulate the full amount in the stack because I was close to the cap. Know before you click because you don't want to leave 100 resources simply because you're at the cap.

If you are accumulating resources, you'll want to let this pile go for over 12 hours so it can stockpile more. The resources accumulate over a 12 hour period. They won't accrue to 500 if you keep clicking on the pile. Click it once per log in session and let it be. It's tempting, oh is it tempting, but you get more resources if you click once and leave it alone. 

Next stop is my Trading Post. If you need resources, this is your single biggest help to gain them. As long as I have work orders going, I have resources out front waiting for me. 

Trading Post resources accumulate, period. So far, the most I have ever received was 850. There may be a cap; I would venture to say 1,000 would be a good guess. I've never hit that number to know. 

Trading Posts are medium-sized buildings. The Sha'tari quartermaster takes up residence inside and the trader who will ultimately allow you to make the auctioneer is inside with an insidious ! over his head. I really wish Blizzard would let you turn in the pieces of the auctioneer as you make them. I have them rattling around in my bags so, when I get a piece I can see if I've already made that or if I need this for the next step. I used to be able to sell my extra pieces but it seems the bottom has dropped out of that market, so I donate them to my guild. I don't remember if I can vendor the extra parts, which is an option if something doesn't sell and your guild mates don't want it. 

Anyway, you accumulate resources by trading in materials. 

It varies from day to day what materials will buy the work orders. You can't assign a follower to the Trading Post to increase your work orders. I check what's wanted every session. If the materials needed are something I have in abundance, then I take the order. If it's something, like leather, which I don't have much of, I will pass this over because I don't really need the resources. 

Taking the work orders depends upon what you're using your materials for and whether you are pushing resource accumulation. The nice thing about Trading Post resources and resources from missions, you can't accept the full amounts if doing so puts you over the cap. You'll have a mission you can't complete and you'll have a stack of boxes in front of your Trading Post you can't remove. I've found that I sometimes can't start new work orders if I have resources out front I haven't picked up. Sometimes I can, however. 

There are other ways to get resources. An invasion of a garrison can net you around 150 or more resources if you get a gold rating. Invasions are huge fun. I see people asking in General Chat for help with invasions. You can only get loot once per week, however. 

A lumber mill returns resources. I don't have one of those so I don't know how much it provides. Doing the daily dungeon quest nets 175 resources, but finding a group is a challenge so I don't consider this a reliable method, particularly if you're dps. Most rares will drop resources when killed. Some will drop tokens with additional resources. Once you kill a rare out in the world, it ceases to become rare and won't drop any more resources. Rare farming, which you can do in the areas where apexis dailies are, is not a reliable way to gather resources, although some rares are great for testing your soloing capabilities. 

Many treasure chests contain resources. But some, even when I see them on the map, are nearly impossible to find. Perhaps utilizing a mapping add-on like Tom Tom would help, but if I can't see them, I can't see them. I don't find this reliable. Another unreliable source, but it's worth a mention, is fishing pools. I've fished resources out of pools while going for the fish in those pools. All of these, excepting the lumber mill, should be considered supplemental sources. 

It took some time to get to 8,000 resources. I used to hear, in guild chat, people talking about being resource starved. I never was. I assessed what was important to me and spent my resources accordingly. I didn't upgrade buildings until I was 500 resources over what was needed. I think that helped me get to, and stay at, the cap. 

I hope you find this helpful. If I've forgotten any other way to get resources, please let us know in the comments. And, if you have a lumber mill, how many resources do you get? 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Ah the mines. Those men are hard at work pulling up the random node for me to mine and mining ore to be stacked by the mining shed outside. When you log into your garrison for the first time in a 24 hour period, you'll see all these lovely yellow dots sprinkled about your mini-map. For me, those dots are a distraction. Even if I don't need ore, they compel me to mine it just to get the mini map cleared. There is the same issue with the herb garden. Lots of dots that scream, "Pick me!"

What I'd like to see is the opportunity to give the gardeners and the miners a day off. For heavy population servers, not having more stacks of ore or herbs dumped into the Auction House could improve the selling price for both, given the nature of supply and demand. For those of us who just want a clean mini-map without having stacks of stuff we aren't going to use, this would be lovely. Maybe the crew in the mine hangs out in the garrison barracks or around the table in your town hall. There are a number of places within the garrison you could have groups of people congregate.

I like to think I'm a benevolent ruler. It does kind of pain me to run into the mine and realize these men (And why are they all human males? Hmmmmm? Dwarves love to mine. There are no dwarven miners, no women, no gnomes or worgen or pandas or night elves. Mining is only a human male trait?) never get to see the light of day. If you've ever run into your garrison during an invasion, they are working away as if they haven't a care in the world. I'd really like for them to have a day off.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

During the Darkmoon Faire, one of the games, as you know, is to be shot out of a cannon. There's an achievement if you can hit the target smack dab in the middle. The Darkmoon Faire can provide a large number of selfie opportunities, with its Mardi Gras theme and nooks and crannies. But one thing you can't do is take a selfie when you're shot out of the cannon.

I see why. When you're in the air, you control when the wings release on your kite. This allows you to hit the target based on your perception of where you are relative to the target. It's rare that I score a bullseye anymore. I was never a good judge of where I am relative to where I need to be. The buttons for releasing the kite occupy the same buttons used for the selfie camera. There would have to be additional coding in order to have one or the other shift. I would say, shift the camera buttons since that was added a long time after the faire.

I think this is an egregious oversight on Blizzard's part. The look on a toon's face could be priceless and the potential for selfies enormous. But, as with other ideas we've had, it would require some coding that could be dedicated to other areas such as fixing things that don't work. On a side note, you can't take selfies when you're falling, even if you're falling a very long distance. Yes, we would be the guild that has tried it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

There was another run of Icecrown Citadel early this month. We find ourselves in ICC quite a bit as we have a number of people working on  Shadowmourne. It's also a great place for transmog gear, particularly for the angular, dark looks of the pieces.

We had just downed Lord Marrowgar and were headed to Lady Deathwhisper when the rolls came up for this shield. Skiptank won the need roll (for transmog) with a 1. There is an achievement for rolling a 100 on a greed roll for a piece over item level 185. We believe there should be an achievement for rolling a need roll of 1 and winning. Maybe it could be called "So No One Else Wanted That, Eh?" or something equally semi-snarky.

You'd never get it while running current content, due to the "Personal Loot" setting, unless someone forgot to set that while running a 5-man and no one else wanted the gear that dropped. It would mainly come from doing low level runs. In Spectacular Death, we had a great laugh about this roll and we're pretty sure other groups see this and find it guffaw-worthy. It should be an achievement.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Gimmlette

Chapter 3 Continued

Gimmlette cradled her tankard in her hands and looked at the floor. “I got my armor regemmed. Craghelm wanted to know why I thought I could stop Gauss and a For the Horde  group by myself because he’s only had one other person come into his shop with this much damage to their armor and they stood next to the mailbox at the tram and shouted, ‘You shall not pass!’ as Gauss and friends trampled him underfoot. I just said it was funny until the gems fell out. He removed some hairs from Hogger’s forearm that were lodged in the gem sockets and tossed them on the floor. The damned things started moving. I swear. He stomped on them and that didn’t stop them so we picked them up and tossed them into the fire. There was a pop, like a single firework going off and I know I heard someone laughing in my head.  Craghelm heard it, too. It was just arm hair. Granted, Hogger’s arm hair is longer than any of ours but they just seemed to warp the space around them. You could clearly see them on the floor. Of course, Craghelm wants to know what the hell that was. I just told him I lost my pet and had to revive him. Man, as soon as I could get out of there, I left. It’s got to be all over Ironforge now, that something got me that no one has seen before.”

Superkind leaned forward. “Did you talk to Magni?”

“Not at first. I heard that laugh in my head and it was like my heart went cold. I went to the bar in the Military Ward and drank about 4 beers, one after another. I can still hear it in my head, like a faint echo, when my mind isn’t thinking of something else. I realized that maybe Magni should know. So I sauntered in his direction, pretending not to be on a mission to talk to him. I got to the door of the throne room and saw Craghelm talking to him. When they saw me, Magni motioned for me to come forward.”

Gimmlette took another swig of beer. “Did Tyrande tell you what the fear is?”

“Yes,” Superkind said. “It’s not Hogger. It’s some demon they don’t know. Hogger is merely a convenient form for it. She also said the cork I had in the mouth of the vial wasn’t going to contain the contents. The alchemist nodded, wrote down a bunch of items and had her assistant go get them. She was gone 20 minutes and then the alchemist made this seal. It’s a gold infused plug covered with an enchanted strip of Borean leather and then sealed again with titanium. If we need to get at the contents of this, we have to take it to her. Oh and one other thing, only those of us who have been ‘touched’ can hold this. It will burn anyone else. Wanna try holding it Rin?”

Rineva gave Superkind a look that would curdle seal whey.

“Didn’t think so,” Superkind laughed and he tucked the vial inside his armor. “Tyrande told me not to put it in my bag because, eventually, it will eat a hole in the bag. Nor could I put it in the bank because bankers routinely snoop through your stuff and, if they found it, it could wind up in the wrong hands. So, she made this pocket and I carry it. At some point, we have to move the contents to a new vial as this tuff eats the vial from the inside out. She wouldn’t tell me what would happen if the vial broke and the contents spilled. I’m guessing it’s not good.”

Skipperdo looked at Gimmlette. “Can I tell them?”

Gimmlette sighed, “Yeah. Go ahead. We all need to hear it.”

“I don’t know about breaking the vial, but I do know we are on limited time. TdK was summoned, physically, to Bronzebeard’s chambers, arriving shortly after Gimm got there. He was followed by Muninn Magellas who was carrying a very old book. We went around the back of Bronzebeard’s throne where there was a hidden button. A door opened to stairs leading down. Two guards grabbed torches and we walked down these stairs to a circular room with an ancient map inlay on the floor. It was no place that I’d ever seen.

“Muninn set the book down in the center of the floor. TdK pulled out a silver rod with a hand on the end. We were told to stand back. He extended the rod and gingerly clasped the cover with that hand and opened the book. There was a flash and a puff of greenish smoke. The book began to quiver and started turning circles on the floor. They all just stood there and watched like it was something they saw every day. Then it stopped. There was a growl and the pages turned from yellow to tan. Muninn walked over to the book and motioned for us to come look.

“It was a book about the Titans. It’s written in a language they haven’t fully deciphered. There are lots of drawings. The best they can tell is that it’s a book about the war that sundered the world; that created the dwarves; created all the continents and the maelstrom. It might even be stories about creating the Titans themselves but they don’t know.

“Muninn turned the pages to a picture of a demon. He said it’s one of the old gods, maybe older than an old god. It was awakened during the war. It chose the side against everyone. It was shoved into the earth, deep into the earth, entombed where the Titans felt it would never awaken again. Someone found references to it and has started to call it forth. If they succeed in a full call, the sky will be obliterated by a blackness we can’t imagine and this battle against Arthas will seem like a mosquito bite on the arm of history.”

Junas sat back in his chair. “Yeah so? What does this have to do with Hogger? It’s a nice story, full of stuff you scare kids at night so they brush their teeth or go to bed at a decent hour. It doesn’t explain what that is.” He pointed to Superkind’s vial.  “Nor does it explain what happened to us.”

“There is more,” Skipperdo said. “Someone somewhere in the world is calling this old demon forth or is letting them back into the world. Someone is making the potions that allow the demon to take over the Hogger we all laugh at. Those potions allow that demon a body to run around Azeroth with. Technically, Hogger shouldn’t have attacked us, shouldn’t be attacking soldiers. Technically, Hogger should be pacing around a campfire. Instead, he's waiting on the next batch of potions from whomever is giving them to him, waiting and watching. At a certain point, the demon will be strong enough to fully consume Hogger and then the demon will be let loose on the world.

“The problem is," Skipperdo continued. "Hogger is still inside this thing and Hogger likes to take down people. Plus, they think whomever is giving Hogger the potions doesn’t have the mix quite right. So, Hogger occasionally surfaces, realizes he’s got all this power and attacks the Brigade. We just happened to be there when he ran through.”

Superkind sat back in his chair. “That explains his eyes. I was looking at two people in those eyes. One seemed aware of me but just wanted to kill me. The other was a blackness, a gaze of complete contempt for my existence. I was seeing the demon and Hogger.”

“Yes,” replied Gimmlette. “The problem is that because we were attacked and killed by this Hogger thing, we have been exposed to whatever is being introduced into him. Zelde, you, too, have been exposed because you happened to rez us within an hour of our dying. We have, maybe, 4 weeks before we will turn green, collapse and then dissolve into a green smoke. They have seen this in all the guards killed by Hogger.

“Once rezzed, they start showing, at 4 weeks, uncharacteristic behavior and then staying up all night and claiming they don’t need sleep. They attack other guards and people in an attempt to kill them. When locked away, they foam at the mouth and talk in a strange language no one knows. Eventually, they are wracked with pain before dying. The smoke is ‘alive’ because it looks for a way out of the prison. Bronzebeard said they haven’t been able to track where the smoke goes, but they think it goes  back to Hogger and the demon in him needs it to continue his metamorphosis.”

The party was silent as they contemplated this news.

“So,” said Junas, after a few minutes. “Are we doomed?”

Gimmlette looked at Superkind. “Magni said you would have you have an answer for that.”

Superkind smiled and removed a palm-sized orb from his backpack. “I don’t know if I can answer the ‘Are we doomed’ question, but Tyrande gave me this and said I should use it when we were all together. It would take us to the one person who could answer our questions. It’s a one-way trip and it’s only once, but whoever is at the end of this portal can tell us what we’re supposed to do next.”
The orb glowed with a silvery white light. Gimmlette knocked back the rest of her ale. She tossed a few gold coins on the table.

“I’m not interested in being demon food. Let’s go.” She said and stood up in front of Superkind.
The rest of the party stood up, finished their drinks and pushed their chairs away.

“Junas, grab one arm. Zel, grab the other. The rest of you, hang onto one of them. I gotta use both hands to rub this, Tyrande said.” Superkind instructed.

The group stood in a small circle, hanging onto one another. Superkind began to rub the orb. There was a soft whooshing sound that seemed to come from all around them. The silvery light grew in brightness until that was all they could see. There was a pop. The only things left in the Pig and Whistle were the tankards, coins on the table and an errant potion that Superkind forgot to put back in his bag.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

This one was suggested by Minaithelan.

Getting around with guild members or a party in general, can be tough. If someone in the party hasn't purchased fast riding or fast flying, your group has to wait for them to get where you're going. Both of those upgrades are fairly pricey, even in an age where making money is reasonably easy. If you have a stable of alts, buying fast movement speed is a cha-ching proposition. So, many people opt not to buy the faster mount speeds. It's a matter of economics.

There are, however, ways to get your slower guild mates to their destinations. Two-seater mounts, such as the Grand Black War Mammoth, whose speed is based on the driver, not the passenger, can get slower people across the ground fast. We use these when we raid Silvermoon City. For flying, hop on a Sandstone Drake, for instance. No one needs to be left behind, unless... you are traveling over the water.

Currently, there is no two-seater water mount. There is, perhaps, not a demand for one, but there's not really a demand for the mammoth or the drake. They just are, which means, there doesn't have to be a precedent for need to have a mount. The raft shown above you buy from Nat Pagle in Krasarang Wilds, once your reputation with The Anglers gets to revered. The raft works in every body of water and is a relatively fast mode of transport. If you have to cross water and then run up to something, you don't have to dismount since the raft disappears once you hit land. It lasts 10 minutes, so you do have to watch your time while using it. And once you attack something or get attacked by something, it despawns.

It would be way cool to have a two person raft. You could fish together but, more importantly, you would be able to ferry around someone who doesn't have fast riding or a water mount. It would be neat to be able to attack from the raft, but we'll take just being about to raft down the river like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Gimmlette

Chapter 3

“They should be in here,” said Zelde, as she turned into the Pig and Whistle. Her companion nodded. “Usually are” came the sardonic reply.

They entered the bar and were met by the waitress. She looked them up and down. She started to ask if they were looking for someone when laughter from the upstairs filled the bar.

“This should be interesting if they are already half-drunk,” Zelde said. Her companion shrugged. “And this would be different from normal how?”

They climbed the stairs to the second floor and  found Junas and Gimmlette watching a slightly inebriated Skipperdo dancing on the table. He’d been baby spiced and was roughly a foot tall. Junas would, occasionally, invert his empty beer tankard over the gnome. One would then hear the distinct sounds of “shave and a haircut, two bits” rapped on the inside of the tankard. Junas would lift off the tankard and laugh.

“Typical,” said Zelde, folding her arms over her chest. “Starting the party without us.”

Footfalls sounded on the stairs and Superkind trotted onto the landing, passing by the newcomer just as her bat-winged hat opened in his face.

“Nice Season 3 Arena gear, Rin,” he laughed, as he brushed one of the wings aside. “Most of us have graduated from that.”

“Yes, well, most of you have no character. This is my ‘about town’ hat,” sniffed Rineva as she moved toward an empty seat. Zelde followed the warlock and sat down at the table across from her.
Skipperdo, now back to his regular 3’5” height, jumped off the table and raced to the edge of the balcony. “Waitress! We’ll need more beer up here!” He turned to look at Junas, snickered, and then said, “And put it on Junas’ tab.”

From down below a male voice shouted, “You know Junas’  money isn’t any good here!” 

Skipperdo pulled a chair next to Rineva and climbed up onto it. “Have you come to drain our souls or to save them?”

“Save them, obviously, all except Gimm. She’s management so she has no soul.”

“Hey now!” said Gimmlette, turning towards Rineva. “I care.”

“No one said you didn’t care. We just said you didn’t have a soul and we only say that because you keep saying that.”

“Only when you threaten to drain everyone’s soul if you aren’t made Empress,” Gimmlette shot back.
“Yeah and how’s my coronation party coming?”

The waitress appeared at this point with frothy mugs of the bar’s best brew. In the tradition of the best barmaids in the business, she had 3 tankards in each hand. Three were set in front of Junas and three were set on the table around which Zelde, Rineva and Skipperdo sat. Junas handed the gal a small sack of gold. “Remember, we have this area privately.” She nodded and headed back downstairs. Junas turned towards the mugs on the table. “I see my drinks are here. What are you and Super going to have?”

Junas handed a mug to Gimmlette and Superkind and motioned Zelde, Skipperdo and Rineva to move their table closer. When they were in close proximity, he took a long draught of the beer and leaned forward, dropping his voice. “Did anyone find out anything, anything that’s useful?”

“It appears,” Zelde began, “that most people have only heard of Hogger’s ‘enhancement’. It seems he has not been actually seen by a lot of people. I couldn’t find anyone in the AH or the town square who had seen him.”

Gimmlette started to choke on her beer. “You didn’t tell them someone had actually been attacked, did you?”

“Hell no,” Zelde said. “Rin brought the ink and acted as my scribe. We said we were collecting anecdotal stories for the Stormwind Gazette, you know, the paper no one reads except Wrynn.”
“Heh,” said Junas. “I wouldn’t use it to gather talbuk shit in Nagrand.”

“I told them we were writing a story for Wrynn’s amusement. If anyone has met enhanced Hogger, they aren’t telling.”

“For my part,” Skipperdo said, standing up on his chair to be seen. “I went to Ironforge and talked to…” he dropped his voice to nearly a whisper, leaning forward, “TdK. If there is one gnome who knows ‘things’, it’s him. He said, to the best of his knowledge, the only people who have seen Hogger as we saw Hogger have been soldiers at Westbrook Garrison. They have been under strict orders NOT to tell people about their encounters. A total of 15 soldiers have been killed by this thing. It’s so bad that Stormwind soldiers posted to Westbrook are given an effects bag when they ship out and their dependent’s assistance papers are filed before they leave. The only thing missing is the date of death. To say morale is low is an understatement.”

“You went to Ironforge?” Junas asked.

“Well, yeah. I’m not going to Stormwind. Gnomes that know things are in Ironforge. After you ported, I ported Gimm and myself to Ironforge and Super to Darnassus. How are things in Darnassus, Super?”

The night elf leaned back in his chair, took a drink of beer and then leaned forward. “There is extreme worry, although you’d never know it outwardly,” he said quietly. “It cost me 148 gold to repair just the chest  piece.” Automatically, he rubbed the spot where the armor had been split in two. It gleamed in the bar’s light and looked good or even better than new.

“Tell me about it,” Junas said, setting down the mug. “185 gold just to fix the shield. I had to pay a mage 10 gold to port me to Dalaran because the guy who fixes shields like mine was in the shop in Dalaran. He said the last time he saw such damage, Lady Prestor was turning into Onyxia in the keep. I knew if I told him what had happened, it’d be all over Azeroth in 10 minutes. That guy talks.”
Superkind leaned back in his chair and waiting for the paladin to finish. Junas, realizing he’d cut in on the information Superkind had, took a breath and then stopped.

“Go on,” he said. “Go on.”

“Of course I was asked what had happened,” Superkind went on. “I said I’d encountered a rather curious monster, probably enchanted in some way. I stood there and watched as he melted the split edges, reinforced them and removed the split. As he was doing that, he found, under the edge of one of the splits, this.”

From under his chest piece, Superkind produced a vial of vaguely greenish, vaguely fluid material. It was about a quarter of a vial and the vial itself had a wax seal on the end which was covered with a thin film of metal. The material inside the vial swirled on its own, sometimes turning dark forest green, sometimes seeming to glow from within. It seemed to be a liquid akin to maybe syrup or fel orc blood. But then it's color would change and it would seem to be like sand. It almost seemed to be an entity unto itself. They all watched quietly as Super would briefly shake the vial and the material inside would change and move in ways they had never seen before.

“He didn’t know what it was, but I had no doubt it came from Hogger when he sliced my armor and me open. He would have taken this as payment but I got to it first. I thought it was a Nature Resist potion gone bad but decided to take it to Tyrande for analysis.”

“You went to Whisperwind herself?” Gimmlette asked, surprised.

“I couldn’t take it to Fandral. Good lord, he’d have killed me on the spot for it. This is beyond anything Ainethil knows. Tyrande doesn’t like Wrynn. Does anyone really like him? So beyond Bronzebeard and O’ros, who’s she going to talk to?”

Skipperdo stood up on his chair and cleared his throat. “Might I remind you that there are 5, count ‘em, 5 factions to the Alliance.”

Superkind snickered. “Oh yes, the king the horde always kill when they get off the tram.”

“Gelbin Mekkatorque, and don’t you forget it,” Skipperdo said and sat down. He crossed his arms across his chest and muttered, “Harumph. Pretending we don’t exist.”

Rineva patted Skipperdo gently on the head. “There there. Have another drink. You’ll feel better when you can’t remember.”

Skipperdo swatted her hand away. “Hey! Hey! Not the hat. It took the hatter 4 tries and 125 gold to fix it. He wanted to know how I could insult so many tauren.”

“What did Tyrande say, Super?” asked Zelde.

“It was interesting. Almost no one comes to see her so  when I said I was very troubled and needed her counsel alone, she dismissed her advisors and guard down the ramps out of sight. I held this up just as I’m holding it to you, although the top was just stopped with a cork. Her eyes got wide and she turned more pale than I think any night elf has a right to be, maybe the color of Beyondlight’s skin.”

Skipperdo say back in his chair. “Hey! He’s that color because he’s, wait for it, dead. You’re expecting him to be peach or taupe colored?”

“She looked at me and said, ‘The story is true then. But how did you get this?’ I said that my friends and I had an ‘encounter’. She actually stepped away from me at that point. ‘And you are alive to tell me this?’” Superkind rubbed his chest. “I told her we were brought back by a priest in our guild not long after we died. I looked at her and said, ‘It was caught in my split open armor. What is it?’ She said it’s Hogger’s blood only it’s not blood. It’s whatever’s inside of him thanks to whatever it is he’s drinking.”

“The potion ingredients are turning his blood to this?” asked Gimmlette, as she watched the movement in the vial.

“Not exactly,” Superkind continued. “Tyrande muttered some words and we were transported to the back of the alchemy store in Dalaran. Linzy Blackbolt came into the back and took a look at the stuff. She mixed up some Lichbloom, some Icethorn, some blueish purplish potion and some black potion. Smelled awful. She put on these heavy gloves and removed the stopper just to pour a drop of this into the container with the other mix. There was a flash of greenish light; that sickly light we all know as evil;  a loud pop and this hole appeared. It was like all light was absorbed into it. I swear I could hear a voice chuckling, but it was coming from inside my head. I thought my heart stopped for a couple seconds, too. Linzy looked at Tyrande and said, ‘It is what we feared.’”

Superkind reached for his beer, allowing his word to fall onto the ears of his friends. The balcony air was still, almost as still as death. They said nothing, looking down at the floor, absorbing what he told them.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

I've talked briefly before about how the game can provoke an emotional reaction by how something is executed. I was on the Thandol Span between Wetlands and Arathi Basin to take a selfie for the Field Photographer achievement and a memory washed over me, a remembrance of a quest chain I hadn't thought of in years. 

Blizzard is known for dropping cultural references into the game and this was no different. At the game's development, interest in the US Civil War was at an all-time high thanks to Ken Burns and his documentary. The themes of lands torn apart by war, of brother against brother and the sheer loss of life resonate within the game as well as without. One of the more poignant quests was a little known one by the Thandol Span. 

There used to be a quest where you had to find out what happened to the dwarf stationed on the left side of the span. What you can't see in this selfie is that the left side of the bridge is shattered. There is a column leaning precariously over the water. Inside was a dwarf who was manning the post as he should be. In order to get to him, you had to jump from the Arathi Highlands side (behind me) to a ledge on the pillar. Missing the ledge meant you fell into the water below. Once you completed the quest, the only way to get back to the mainland was to jump into the water and swim to the ramps leading out of the water. It was in the water that the Sully Balloo Letter quest was obtained. 

It was hard to find this quest. Sully is dead, crushed by bridge sections. If you didn't know he was there, it would be extremely easy to miss him. You would see a hand, outstretched, from under this massive block. When you moused over the hand, a cog wheel would appear. Clicking on the hand gave you a letter with instructions to take it to Sully's wife, Sara, in Ironforge. There was no quest to lead you to the body. You either had someone who told you about it or was one of the people who moused over everything so you found it or you read about it. I had someone who knew about it take me to find the letter. 

Sara was and still is, in the Military ward, standing silently on the porch of her home. When you handed her the letter, she would weep, thank you, give you some coin and ask you to take a letter to Magni Bronzebeard, the then ruler of the dwarves. He would accept the letter and the text said that he "looked past you, struggling with his emotions". He thanks you and gives you some coins and that was it. 

I can't find the text of Sully Balloo's letter, but it was very similar, though not as long due to game constraints, to the letter written by one Sullivan Ballou before the first Battle of Bull Run. 

July the 14th, 1861
Washington D.C.
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure—and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows—when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children—is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.
The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar—that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.
Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.
But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the brightest day and in the darkest night—amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours—always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.
Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for me, for we shall meet again.
As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father's love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God's blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.

This letter was well-known to any Civil War buff who played the game. This was probably the first time the game and the things I was asked to do resonated emotionally with me. You cannot get the quest anymore. It was removed with Cataclysm. I'm not sure why Blizzard considered it obsolete and removed it, but it's gone. As I stood overlooking the bridge, I remembered that this simple 2 step quest solidified the game as something I wanted to play. Sara stands in Ironforge still, waiting for word from her soldier. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quest Hub

by Gimmlette

Last week, I wondered how many "bring me the head of x" quests there are in the game. It's a ubiquitous trope. Every expansion has at least a dozen, if not more, quests requiring someone or some thing's head.

If you've headed into Draenor, you recognize the above. This is the other trope so very common in WoW; the poo quest.

When people acknowledged they were in the alpha for Warlords, players wanted to know what kinds of things we'd be doing. Who are the bosses? What are the zones like? How do the new stats work? They also asked, repeatedly, what the poop quest was. It's not an expansion without us having to rifle through or collect poo for something. Initially, it wasn't readily apparent what the quest was. I didn't see it until mid-way through July.

The best poop quest line is in Grizzly Hills on the Alliance side. "Mmmmm...Amberseeds", is what starts it. It's Alliance only and it is hilarious. Draenor poop seems to be confined to this quest above. While amusing and is the method by which this character is introduced to us, this is it for poo. Perhaps Blizzard feels the idea has run its course, that there is nothing new to have us do with regards to excrement. That's kind of sad. Yes, it's more than a little "ewwwww", but this trope has a history within the game I hope Blizzard doesn't abandon.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Out And About

by Gimmlette

I finally decided to take my tauren to Draenor. Although my main is Alliance, I made this tauren warrior back in 2007 to see the other side of WOW. I don't jump in and level quickly. It's really a "What this like" toon.

It helps with leveling, that I've done this Alliance side. I know where to go and what to do when doing the starter quests to get to Frostfire Ridge. And, having done the beta, some things are burned into my memory. The portal between Draenor and Azeroth is one thing.

I love the colors. I love the swirls. When we deactivate the portal and then destroy it, I felt a sadness, not because of the theme of the Iron Horde invading, but the loss of the pretty colors. I'm anxious to see how this all plays out. Will we restore the portal and get the colors back or has it been irrevocably changed?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Inaara suggested this hunter-specific, totally cosmetic idea. Even with the "Lone Wolf" talent, part of hunter-ing is having a pet. There are times when even the solo hunter wants his or her pet out. Inaara suggests that there be collars we can get for our pets. This would be a cosmetic addition, much like shirts are for us. 

I could get behind this idea. A group of hunters in a recent heroic Terrace of Endless Springs raid demonstrates what could happen. (Georgeyporgy, Mullingrew, Neolatro, me and Taraksa, left to right.) We've got wolves and a core hound and a spirit beast. Sparkly collars would look cool on the purple wolves or the spirit beasts. While my core hound (Formerly The Beast from UBRS) has a spiky collar, I'd love to see something with more pronounced spikes; maybe flaming. Neolatro's wolf would look excellent in the standard spiked collar of lore. 

Have them come in colors, maybe the Roy G Biv of our learning the colors of the rainbow. I don't know that I'd get a collar for all my pets. I'm kind of used to my favorite, UrsaMajor, a Loch Modan bear, running without a collar, but I would consider matching or complementing the color of my spirit beast porcupines with a collar; the green one gets a festive red collar while the blue one could have a sparkly blue collar. 

It would be too much to be able to add a collar with the pet's name on it. It would give the design team fits to make a collar with a pet's name react to all the things we ask the hunter pet to do and still be able to read the name, but that would be way cool. I'd have collars for ALL my pets then. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Serial Saturday

by Zelde

Chapter 2

A hum, like a deep vibration, stirring the dust on the ground.


No, a hum like a solo hymn being sung in a chapel far, far away thru the rain.

On nothing.

Moving closer then, like the sound of the Deeprun Tram coming down the tunnel.

The stir of the air.

Fast. Too fast. Louder, deeper, higher, a crescendo to a shrill note.


Faster and faster, then suddenly, “whump”, hard ground, packed with pine needles, smashed into Gimmlette’s cheek and all was still.

“What in the name of Bronzebeard…,” she said as she opened her eyes.

Then she stopped short as she saw, mere inches from her face, a pair of lightly-worn, deep purple silken slippers. This however, wasn’t what stopped her. It was more that said slippers were floating about a foot above the forest floor to which her cheek had been recently introduced. Before she could look up to determine the source of said footwear, she let her eyes focus to a stone’s throw away where a paladin was sitting cross-legged, holding a flask to his lips with one hand and rubbing his temples with the other.

“Junas! By your blessed, shiny, armor-plated butt…what happened?”

The reply came from above, though, peppered with a light chuckle. “Don’t mind him, boss, that’s just some of the old ginnintonix to help restore that new-Paladin shine! I hear the trip back from the great beyond can, er, take it right out of ya. By the way, what the heck used you for punching bags?”

Before Gimmlette could reply, Superkind joined them, sailing thru the air in a beam of light to Junas’ feet.

“Would you mind getting  Skippy, too, Mr. My-Gear-Is-Slightly-Better?” snarked the voice from above. Junas made a gesture that translated quite well from common into Dwarvish and just about every other language on Azeroth and beyond.

Suddenly nosed over onto her back by a reluctant but affectionate truckload of bear, Gimmlette looked up at an extended hand, attached to a not-especially ascetic-looking young lady dressed in the yet unmistakable garb and comforting aura of a priest.

“What day is it? Where the hell are we? Where have you BEEN?” the dwarf boiled over, regaining her air of leadership.

With a mock half-bow, the priest replied, ticking off the answers on her fingers, “Sunday, Elwynn and missing all the fun, apparently!”

Zelde lazily tossed a few bolts of swirling light at the cloud of dust and sparkling light that hopefully contained a confused but no longer dead Skipperdo. The gnome looked about him, blinking in the bright noon-time sunlight. “Oh, I see how it is. First to die, last to get rezzed,” he said morosely.

“Yeah, pretty much,” Zelde laughed. “So want to tell me what decided to rearrange your atoms on this fine day?”

The group looked at each other.

“Hogger,” Gimmlette said flatly. “The rumors are true.”

Zelde took a deep breath and then looked back over her shoulder with that inextinguishable grin. “Wanna go hunt some gnoll? It’ll be fun.”

Skipperdo looked down at the crumpled hat in his hands. He massaged the brim but the deep creases would not go away.

“Fun. Yes,” he said ruefully. “You have a very sick sense of fun, Zel.”

Junas chuckled, “She’s always been like that.”

“Hey guys?” Gimmlette called as she rummaged through the grass at the base of the tree. “Ursa, you’re no help,” and she pushed the devoted bear aside. “How many gems got knocked off my stuff and do I have them all?”

Zelde dropped to the ground and began scrounging with Gimmlette through the flattened grass. Superkind came over to help after tossing his raptor a chunk of meat. Xlii roared happily and began chewing on the feast.

“Well, stand up and let’s count. What has gems in it?” he asked, looking down kindly at the dwarf. He massaged his own chest. He was one-shotted, by a gnoll. The numbers didn’t add up. He had more health than Gimmlette, yet she lasted through 2 swipes. He had been one-shotted.

But then he remembered the look. Those eyes. Something about those eye right before…He shuddered involuntarily.

“Okay shorty. Either Super’s going to have to get on his knees to see your armor or we’re going to have to give you a lift,” said Zelde with a laugh. She spoke some words, made some gestures and Gimmlette was levitated a foot off the ground. Superkind laughed.

“I still have to kneel down,” he laughed. “Dwarves are too, well, dwarven.”

He knelt down and patted Gimmlette on the head. The look on her face said it all. There would be snowballs later when he least expected it.

“I should have gems in my helm, my chest and my belt,” Gimmlette said, running her hands over the dented chest piece. “Oh Super, you have a gash.”

She pointed to the opening across the chest that started just below his right shoulder and ran diagonally about 10 inches. Junas came over to look.

“Cripes. How the hell is Hogger strong enough to do that or this?” He held up his shield which was in 2 pieces. “We’re going to have to repair for sure.”

“I concur,” said a grouchy voice down by everyone’s knees. Zelde levitated Skipperdo. “I simply cannot get the brim of my hat to lie flat anymore. Portal to Stormwind folks?” Skipperdo began to chant the magic that bent space.

“Wait!” Gimmlette wailed. “My gems! I only have 2!” She opened her hands where she held the topaz for the belt buckle and the King’s Amber for her chest.

Superkind touched her helm. “Gimm, the other two stayed put. You’re good. Let’s get repaired and stock up on some liquids. We have a gnoll to seek and destroy.”

“The Skipperdo Space Warp is open and ready for business,” Skipperdo announced.

“Hey, let’s meet at the Boar and Flower…” began Junas.

“You mean Pig and Whistle,” interjected Gimmlette, who had removed her helm and was looking it over carefully.

“Yeah, whatever the name is. You dwarves know the bars better than me. Anyway, let’s meet there after we repair. Maybe spend some time asking around. See if anyone else has fought this guy and what they did. In a couple hours? Will that work? Great. See you then. This repair bill is gonna hurt.” And Junas jumped through the portal to Stormwind.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Casually Guilded: Starting One of Your Own

by Gimmlette

Spectacular Death's first defeat of Steelbreaker in Ulduar, 11-12-10.

WOW is the kind of game that you can play in pretty much any fashion you like. While running content solo can be done, it's clear the best benefits come from grouping with like-minded people and running content with them. I've known people who act as mercenaries, hiring themselves out for a piece of the loot or even being paid gold for their services. But the way the game is structured, the best and most productive experience is when you're in a guild.

Finding a guild is an inexact science. Our very first "Casually Guilded" was about finding a guild that meets what you want out of the game. Let's say, however, that you have bounced around between a number of guilds, just not finding anything that truly meets what you want. Now days, more than when Spectacular Death, my guild, was formed, there are guilds for every time of day and every style of play, although finding them can be a somewhat daunting task.

Let's take this idea a step further and say that you've done the things suggested in the article, but just haven't found a good fit. Let's say that you have an idea for what a guild should be and you think you'd like to try your hand at running one. How hard can this be? Before you cough up the money for a charter, pay people to sign the charter and design a tabard, I've got some things for you to think about. I've been leading Spectacular Death for 7 years. That's a long time in WOW history for a guild to exist. I don't have all the answers and there are days and weeks when I don't think I have any answers, but I'm going to toss out some observations based on these years of running a guild.

First of all, how committed are you to running a guild? You cannot "set it and forget it", so to speak. Even if there are two of you who are co-guild leaders (something I do NOT suggest), you need to commit to being on more days during the week than you are off, if you want to get the guild up and running. Think about running a guild as running a business. It's your name over the door, to use a business analogy. Issues are yours to deal with. All of the things that happen in a guild and think of all the things you have done in guilds, come from someone and, generally, that someone is you. If you are in this to grow into even a small-size guild, unless it's family only, or just a guild for your bank alts, you need to make a commitment to the guild and to running it.

Spectacular Death's first defeat of Archimonde in 
The Battle of Mount Hyjal, 7-19-09. 

Second, what kind of guild do you want to be? For example, when Spectacular Death was formed, the gentleman and I who funded its creation had been talking for months about how we'd never seen the classic WOW raids; Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Ahn Qirag. No guild we knew was running that stuff. They were trying to clear Burning Crusades raids. We also did not want to raid in the "hard-core" fashion we had seen being advertised. So, we decided our niche would be what we called "retro-raiding", seeing the old content first before moving on. "We'll never be first into content, but we'll have the most fun when we get there" was, and still is, our statement of purpose.

You need to decide what it is that you want out of the game. If you can only play from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. because you work late evenings, then that's the kind of player to whom you will appeal. If you only want to PvP, then that's the kind of guild you'll create. Decide what you want to do within the game and decide who is your target guild member. Over 18; under 35; families; military only? LGBT? There are guilds out there for pretty much any subset, keep in mind, but this is not to say you can't start one and be wildly successful.

One thing, however. If you decide that you're going to make a guild that raids current content in the evenings, you are going to fail. This is not a "maybe", this is a "will". Evening raiding guilds are a fraction of a penny a dozen. On any given day, if I stand in any major city, I can see 3-5 recruitment statements in General chat advertising the next incarnation of an evening raiding guild. There is nothing special or unique about a guild that wants to run current content from 8-11 three nights a week and 8-12 on Saturdays.

You have to offer people something different, something they can't get in any other guild. You need, in advertising parlance, a "hook", something that makes them want to look you up and ask about the guild or to join it. Just deciding you don't like the raiding style of the last 3 guilds you were in is not a good reason to start your own and compete for the same raiders that every other guild competes for. Remember, even on a high population server, there are a finite amount of people available to join your guild. You have to have something those who are looking want so they want to join your guild.

C'Thun downed on June 13, 2009. 

Thirdly, do you have friends willing to join you? Why should this matter? If you don't mind getting three strangers to sign your guild charter and then want to go it alone to populate your guild, have at it. But having friends join you as you set up the guild gives the new person, who finds your guild's purpose intriguing, a sense that it's not a spur of the moment idea; that you might actually have an idea and a timetable of what you want to do. Plus, even if it's a temporary term, your friends can fill officer slots to help you get up and running and then step down when you have more people in the guild, if they don't wish to continue.

Fourth, draw up your rules and a statement of purpose before you plunk down money for a charter or before you have the signatures on that charter. Spectacular Death has a Code of Conduct. We drew it up 2 weeks after we formed. I had friends who signed the charter and agreed to be officers at the beginning. We spent 3 hours in a bar in what used to be the Park in Stormwind talking about goals and what kind of things we felt strongly about to make it into the Code. Since that day, the Code has been tweaked 3 times in 7 years, to reflect some things which happened to the guild which we never foresaw on that day. Every potential member is required to read the Code. We've been told that what we state is "common sense", but we've seen, repeatedly, that the sense is not common.

You need to have, at the start, a statement on what is an isn't acceptable to be in your guild. If you are going to make a "mature" guild, you need to let potential members know that language can get salty. Spell out what is a kickable offense. I would also draw up raiding and bank rules. If you don't have these things "on paper" where potential members can read them, you will have someone do something, like take items from your guild bank and sell them in the AH to make money, and claim, when they are caught, that they didn't know they couldn't do that. You won't be able to prepare for everything that could happen; people are nasty opportunists; but if you plan for those things that you would kick someone over and what behavior is expected from potential members, you'll be many steps ahead.

Taking over Freewind Post in Thousand Needles on 8-9-2009. 

Fifth, do you have money you can sink into your guild? From the initial payment for the charter, to the design of the tabard to all the bank tabs, and so much in between, you, as guild leader, will find yourself funding a lot. I quit keeping track at our 3rd anniversary but, at that point, I had given the bank over 50,000 gold in either money or goods to keep it going and to do the things I felt it was important for us to do. Your philosophy will vary, but I won't charge guild members dues. I know of guilds who do that. You pay a set amount, say 100 gold, every month, which is used to buy potions and materials for raiders. If you don't raid at all that month, you don't pay. We have contests in SD and I will give out personal loot as prizes. Be prepared to fund things because the guild bank has 26 gold, 18 silver and 77 copper in it. It's worse now because we don't have the Cash Flow perk which would return a lot of gold received from questing into the bank. We're doing okay, but if you're just starting out, be prepared to pay out of your own pocket to keep the guild going.

Sixth, be prepared for paperwork. You'll need to have a list of goals and how soon you think you'd like to accomplish those. Be conservative. Current tier raiding always takes longer than you expect. If your goal is to simply clear the old stuff, you'll probably find most raids from Cataclysm and earlier take an hour to 90 minutes. But plan for a longer raid.

Decide what guild achievements you'd like to get first. Everyone likes having a goal to shoot for. Again, if you are running a PvP guild and you think you can get the achievement, Blood Elf Slayer, in a month, add a couple weeks to that. Trust me on this. If you set the guild up for getting Horde Slayer within 3 months of forming, you will be disappointed when it doesn't happen. Always expect things to take longer and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how quickly people want to get achievements or do events.

Decide what the ranks are and what they will be called. Decide what the qualifications are for each rank and when you will do promotions. Familiarize yourself with the things you can do under the "Info" tab on the roster. That's where you'll find the ranks. You'll also find bank permissions.

Seventh, get yourself a copy of The Guild Leader's Handbook by Scott Andrews. He writes the "Officer's Quarters" column for BlizzardWatch. I found his advice to be spot on. The book is something I refer to again and again for tips in dealing with things you can't anticipate as you are leading a bunch of people around in the game.

Lastly, be prepared to be frustrated, angry, irritated, saddened, exhilarated and moved by the kindness of your guild members. I've been all of these and every other emotion. When you're really angry, get out of the game. I've sent out very angry emails to officers that resulted in hurt feelings. (Don't do that. Cool off before sending out emails or in-game letters.) This is just like managing a team. There are going to be people pulling more than their share and people who are looking at the scenery and standing in stuff. There are times I want to reach through the computer and strangle someone. My cats are used to me yelling at the screen, "Just how stupid are you?" I sometimes feel that I'm not leading properly, that I have failed the guild in leadership. Having someone to talk to helps ease that feeling.

Yet, even when we spend an hour beating our heads against a boss, I wouldn't trade the experience with people that I know; people I can laugh with; for all the current raid tier clears in the world.