Saturday, February 28, 2015

Serial Saturday

By Gimmlette

(Several years ago, I started this work of fan fiction involving the members of Spectacular Death. It's languished in the guild forums ever since. Many of the names contained in the story no long play WOW. Weekends can be quiet so here is presented, like the serialized stories of old, our guild story entitled, "If Only...")

Chapter One

There we were, minding our own business; Skipperdo, Superkind, Junas and Gimmlette; taking a stroll through Elwynn Forest. It was a lovely sunny morning and we were on our way to Westfall, as we heard some horde were making life miserable for lowbies just trying to find Goretusks with livers.

Suddenly, a long, low growl came from our left and Superkind was uncatted (He doesn't ride a horse) by a figure covered in tattered clothing and smelling like last week's meatloaf. Being an agile night elf, Superkind was able to tumble nimbly away from his attacker, but we were shocked to see it was...


This was no ordinary Hogger, at least not the one who terrified us in our level 10 dreams. Sweat glistened off his fur. His muscles rippled with anticipation and excitement. And what muscles these were. It was clear the rumors were true. Hogger was taking performance enhancers, probably courtesy of the alchemists in Undercity.

Junas reined his horse and whirled it around, jumping off in one fluid motion. The ground crackled with the bright light of a spell and Hogger's attention turned immediately to the paladin running toward him. Superkind's raptor appeared instantly by his master's side and roared angrily, charging into combat. Superkind leveled his gun and aimed squarely at the broad backside of the beast. He fired, hitting Hogger with a blast that echoed off the nearby Westfall Brigade Tower.

Gimmlette and Skipperdo stopped their mounts as Junas raced backwards past them. They quickly dismounted and watched as Hogger started to grow in size and turn blood red. Enraged! Oh lord! Who knows what was in that stuff he was rumored to be drinking? This wasn't good.

UrsaMajor, Gimmlette's bear, charged into combat, adding a ferocious stomp to Junas' spell. The usually effective bear stun vanished as quickly as it came. Gimmlette loaded a magicked arrow and sent a tranquilizing shot toward the enraged gnoll. The maddened mob turned his attention on the dwarf. How dare she remove his carefully planned enrage. Ignoring the paladin and his perfectly timed blows, Hogger charged the dwarf. Her eyes grew large in terror and she attempted to feign death, but not before Hogger swung one muscled arm in her direction, sending her flying into the fence opposite her position. That taste...oh dear...that was blood. Lie still. Gather her wits. Think.

Skipperdo sized up the situation. This was not the Hogger we all laughed about in the Pig and Whistle in Stormwind. This was an unholy Hogger; a Hogger sent by Arthas himself to pillage and plunder. Elwynn must be purged of such a fiendish beast. While Hogger was occupied with Junas, Skipperdo began reciting to a very ancient yet reliable spell. When the beast charged Gimmlette and threw her against the fence, a blast of arcane magic shot from Skipperdo's fingers. Hogger howled as the purplish bluish magic engulfed him, singeing his fur. Skipperdo froze the beast in place and followed with a barrage of arcane missiles, shooting from his outstretched hands.

Gimmlette struggled to her feet, half her health gone. Superkind was pumping shot into the monster and it was still standing. Why? It was just Hogger. Junas charged the frozen-in-place gnoll and the ice melted around his feet. This wasn't supposed to be happening. Junas bashed Hogger with his shield, the magic from the shield cracking the air. Hogger roared, grabbed Junas by the shield and shoved him backwards. Junas slid along the ground, carving a small trench in the roadway.

Hogger turned towards the mage. "Um...guys," Skipperdo said shakily, "I don't like the look in his eyes." Hogger let out a massive roar and charged the gnome. Skipperdo, waiting until the last possible second, "blinked", showing up on the other side of the roadway. The smoke from moving so fast swirled around his hat. More arcane missiles leaped at Hogger who crashed through the fence where Skipperdo had been standing.

Suddenly, the missiles stopped. "Uh oh...out of mana," Skipperdo wailed. He took off running down the road toward the tower. "I'll go get help while my mana regenerates."

Gimmlette quickly downed a Super Health Potion and rued not swinging by the bank before leaving Stormwind to make some Runic Health Potions, as she was all out of them. She spoke some words and UrsaMajor grew to twice his size. The bear let loose a deafening roar and swiped at the gnoll. Superkind's raptor raked and clawed and chomped. To everyone's horror, however, Hogger ignored the pets and leaped after the fleeing gnome, landing squarely on top of Skipperdo. There was a groan and then nothing; no twitch, no sound. Skipperdo's hat crumpled across his face.

(To be continued...)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Casually Guilded: Making Money

by Gimmlette

Making money can be one of the most frustrating things in this game. Everything takes coin. When you hit the major cities, there are all sorts of enticements for you to buy. If you get into Transmog gear, or collecting pets and mounts, the costs can add up on top of the money necessary for you to not run everywhere or to fly fast enough to get to Galleon before he dies. It took me 4 months, but I managed to save enough to buy the Alliance chopper added in Warlords. Let me tell you how I did it.

First, let's look at a brand new character.

I have a brand new dwarf shaman here. New toons start out with the clothes on their back, a backpack and a hearthstone. You have zero copper to your name. Start your drive to 1 or 100,000 gold by taking quests. Take every quest you can.

If you are at some location where there are a number of quests, chances are very good they are all in the same place. If there is a quest that says, for instance, "Take this letter to Ironforge", it's going to take you away from completing the rest of those quests. Don't take that one. Finish all of these and then take the quest that tells you to go somewhere else. Sometimes, you'll be sent back, but not always. Then you have old quests in your log. Clear them out before moving on.

Be sure you know what you're asked to do. Yes, that does mean you'll have to read a bit of the quest text, but if you know you have this one, involving Rockjaw invaders and one to pick up archeology fragments and one to find beer and it's all in the same place, you will save time. Plus, you have an idea of what you're going to make.

Turn everything in at once. Don't take any follow up quests until you've turned everything in. Then you can assess if you want to do the follow-up quests. I am a completionist so I'll generally do them, but if you have leveled by turning in quests, it might be to your benefit to go to the Hero Board in a capital city to see where it sends you. Higher level quests have bigger rewards. That's your call as to how much you want to do in any given location.

Loot everything; every little thing. The Rockjaw Thumpers dropped only gold, but as you get higher level, you'll start getting all sorts of junk on the mobs. Loot it all. Stacks of the most ridiculous gray items can vendor for a surprising amount of gold.

Here's one of Gimm's bags.

I vendor every gray and white item I get. Green and blue gear is sent to a bank alt to be put in the Auction House. I put it up once and if it doesn't sell, it gets vendored. I don't need it disenchanted because my enchanter has a boatload of materials. The gold is more valuable to me.

With Warlords, you can see, at a glance, what is considered vendor trash and what might be something you want to save. If you have outfitted your toon with heirloom gear, then selling any and all gear they get, unless you want it for Transmog, will net you a nice sum. It all adds up over time.

One of the people in my guild with a large number of alts says that power leveling with heirlooms and without spending money other than for the basic mounts and mount speeds you need to get around, will net you 15,000 gold when you reach 100. I can't confirm this but it seems like it could be true. When I sold everything I felt I didn't need on this toon, I had 7.5 silver for 45 minutes work. That's not too shabby. She is not wearing heirlooms so the total could have been more if I'd sold the gear she got as drops and as quest rewards.

Don't hesitate to use money as a guide to which piece of gear you should take from rewards. Mobs at low levels are pushovers and you can easily take on mobs 2-3 levels higher than you in just what you get as quest rewards. You will want to upgrade gear every 5 levels, or so, but if you are power leveling, those levels will go by very fast.

Dailies are another source of fairly easy income. Low level toons can do the fishing and cooking dailies in the major cities. Hubs in Mists of Pandaria, such as here at Niuzao Temple, have multiple dailies in one location. You can easily clear 50 gold from these hubs; sometimes over 100 depending upon what the mobs have on them which can be vendored. Dailies are designed to be reasonably quick with a good payout. Once you learn where everything required is, you can bang out quite a few in a couple hours.

Finally, you can play the Auction House, particularly if you get a blue or purple bind on equip piece. Unusual pieces are sought after for transmog and can pad your coinage totals very nicely. Other people find the auction house to be great fun, for figuring out which materials to buy low and sell high. If you have gathering professions, selling the raw materials makes money, but not in vast quantities unless you happen to be on a low population server where people are leveling a lot of alts. That being said, all it takes is one person to be looking for Dreamfoil or Fel Iron or embersilk and they will pay whatever price you have listed for the materials. If you choose to "play" the Auction House, get an add-on to help you and read the Undermine Journal.

Do not buy gold. That is an offense which will get you banned. Also, don't pay money for a leveling service. Those are not a prevalent as the gold offers, but they are still there. You don't need a leveling service. Even if you have 2 hours per week to spend trying to make gold, you can do it without paying someone. You have to give them personal information, too, which can compromise your computer. Just don't.

I find money fairly easy to make in this expansion. It's not boatloads of money and it's not instant, but in the 2 weeks since spending 100,000 to buy my Alliance chopper, leaving me with 250 gold, I've made 9,000. There are a lot more suggestions for making gold on web sites such as WOWHead.

As a casual player, you have just a limited amount of time to do all this game has to offer. Having more than what amounts to pocket lint can make the whole gaming experience much better. I hope these suggestions will help you add to your wallet.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Quest Hub

by Gimmlette

Today's Quest Hub could also cover "Throwback Thursday".

Before the Cataclysm, before Wrath of the Lich King, before Burning Crusades, at the end of the original game, there was a server wide event to open the gates of Ahn Qirag. People collected materials and resources to deliver to the Cenarion Circle in Silithus in order to ring the gong which opened the gates to the 20 and 40 man raid. I was not a part of WOW at that time. I only know the bits I was told. But, long after the gates were opened on each server, through Burning Crusades and Wrath of the Lich King, you could still pick up and do the quests to create the Scepter of the Shifting Sands, the actual tool used to ring the gong and open the gates.

To make the scepter, you needed to go all over the world, collecting materials and fighting bosses. I started on it toward the middle of Wrath of the Lich King before finishing it. The premise was you needed to collect pieces of fire, ice and nature to assemble the scepter. One of the threads took you to Azshara and a shark named "Maws". I don't remember the other one but the nature one had you reclaim a well-known dragon.

I don't remember how I got this, whether I found it in a run of Sunken Temple or somewhere else. I knew this was leading to the final boss fight, the final step for the green shard. I'd done most everything solo. It was very easy to accumulate stuff, even the elementium required for steps in the quest chains. (There were 3 corresponding to the three colors.) I bought a lot of that off the auction house because people were just dumping it and no one wanted it.

In total, there are 18 steps to this final boss fight. At step number 8, you get this quest.

(Yes, I took a screenshot of every step, figuring it was monumental that I could do it and some day, I'd want to remember.)

The agent and I headed to Moonglade from there. Once in Moonglade, there were a series of steps to confront Eranikus. You know Remulos in Moonglade? He has a few quick quests and then you never talk to him again. He factors hugely in the scepter quest line. That really is why he's in Moonglade. He was responsible for calling and then confronting Eranikus. Omen's return during the Lunar Festival is interesting, but you have not lived until you see a green dragon materialize from across Lake Elluneara and come toward Nighthaven.

What was also incredibly cool was that you did this event in real time. Phasing had only started with Wrath so anyone who was in Nighthaven, and this is the druid training area, could see and interact with someone doing this final quest.

I'd had no trouble up to this point. I have a bear. I'm good. How wrong I was. Eranikus attacks Nighthaven and seeks to kill the druids and Remulos in particular. Your task is to keep him alive. Eranikus threw corrupted druids, shadow elves and minions and lots and lots of nature damage at you. I tried to deal with it and several level 50 and lower druids in the area came to help, but we were overwhelmed and killed. Fortunately, you could just run back, talk to Remulos and start the encounter over again. By the 4th wipe, I knew I had to ask my guild for help.

Several people came to help, more out of curiosity at my claims there was a green dragon in Moonglade. We were joined by a bunch of low level toons until we had a nice raid group of 10 people. I started up the encounter and we battled. It went on for a good 10 minutes, wave after wave of mobs, nature damage, dying and running back. It was intense, but so satisfying. In the end, Eranikus is confronted by Tyrande. He claims she abandoned him. She rebukes him and he thanks her for purging his corruption and heads into the Emerald Dream.

It was an amazing fight. I was very sad it was over.

There's not been anything in the game which comes close to the epic nature of this. Oh we had our legendary cloak quest and currently have a legendary ring quest, but they have all been about gathering copious amounts of materials. They don't call on you to go over the whole of an expansion to get things and kill bosses. I know that in addition to the elementium from Blackwing Lair, I had to get drops off certain bosses. When I fought "Maws", I had to make sure I brought friends because the buoy used to summon him was one use. If you failed, you had to make another one.

In downing the bosses, in finding hidden NPCs, in collecting the materials needed, I felt that I really was on a mission, even though the end result was not something I could ever use. It's a mace and hunters can't use maces. You could only equip it when you were going to ring the gong. After that, it was useless. I still have it in my bank. After doing all of that, there is no way I'm ever deleting that thing.

This is the kind of quest that doesn't appeal to a lot of people. I would say most players just want to get their quest, do it and turn it in. Chain quests are of the "ewww" variety. Blizzard has gone to the "collect thousands of things" for legendary items. I don't think a legendary needs to come of a quest line like this. An epic experience that sends you all over the known world battling mobs in dungeons I haven't been in in years appeals directly to my sense of adventure. They take a lot of resources to develop, program and test. That kind of thing is not where Blizzard's focus is. I think the game is a bit diminished because of it.

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

The date on the photo is February of 2010. The location is Moonglade and it's the Lunar Festival. The festival is ongoing right now so I dug through the archives for an appropriate photo. I have vague memories of participating in this in 2007. I started playing in October of 2006, so I'm thinking this was a holiday added from the beginning. I remember running Maraudon with a guild group to find the elder located there. Maraudon is so big. Back then, it was one continuous dungeon, not split like it is now. The elder was, of course, way down at the bottom of the instance. We got so lost.

Back then, there wasn't the bright yellow ! over a quest giver's head. You had to know where the elder was or you had to be willing, in 5-mans, to wander all over to find them. The bright white shaft of light was a dead give away to the presence of an elder, just finding that light was the issue.

For a new player, the Lunar Festival was your first visit to Moonglade, home of the night elf druids. I had no idea where I was on the map. It wasn't until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King that I figured out how to run into Moonglade from Feralas or Wintersprings. Druids can hearth here and their primary trainers are here. The rest of us had to stumble upon the place ourselves following a road to see where it went.

Omen, the big white two-headed dog who is the "boss" of the holiday, has always been a unique encounter. WOWHead says Omen was added in September of 2006, with a small content patch. I remember this aura which would almost instantly kill anyone under level 60. If you could move fast enough, you could get away from it.  And then there was the starfall. If Omen's aura didn't get you, the stuff falling from the sky would. You had to run away from him to get out of the falling stars. The aura is gone and he now has wolves around the area where he is summoned. Those weren't there originally. I remember when they were added, although I don't recall the year. They like to munch on lower level toons. Now days, Omen is an easy kill.

It's hard to make holiday bosses difficult. If you make them too hard, people coming to the holiday late in its run, won't be able to find a group to kill them. But I have to say that the ease with which Omen and his ilk can be dispatched is something of a downer, when my memories are of falling stars and instantly dying when my level 20 self ran too close to the big white dog.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Bug Report

by Gimmlette

It's a known fact that when Blizzard changes something within the game, there is an inherent risk that change breaks something else. This is a case in point.

This is the first elevator you take when you go into Serpentshrine Caverns. I've started running this raid because I need the battle pet that drops off Lady Vashj, the end boss, for the Raiding with Leashes II achievement. The raid was the 4th one you ran during Burning Crusades and dropped tier 5 tokens and equivalent gear. This elevator and the one after this were notorious for claiming lives. You'd think you could make it and you'd jump, only to miss the elevator by 2 seconds and plummet to the bottom, a considerable distance, while your guild mates pointed and laughed. Battle pets were added to this raid during Mists of Pandaria but it was soloable once you hit level 80.

With the arrival of Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard had to do an item squish because the sheer size of our health pool and the amount of damage we were doing was leaving astronomically large numbers on our screens. They went back to the old dungeons and raids and changed them to reflect that we are much, much stronger and the numbers we see on the screen are not the kind of damage we're doing. Along the way, some things, like this elevator, were broken.

I know it doesn't look broken, but trust me on this. You're a level 100 and you want to get the battle pet so you take the elevator down. As it nears the bottom, to save time, you jump off. Wait...what just happened? You disconnect from the game. Logging back in, you discover you're in free fall from about the middle of the elevator shaft. Splat. Now comes the run back to Serpentshrine from the graveyard. If you'd waited until the elevator had reached the bottom before running off it, you would not have used up all the time you thought you would save plus whatever else it takes to find your corpse.

I thought it was me, just me, and then it happened to another guild member; the exact same thing at the exact same location. I put in a ticket, but this is not something that is high on the list of things to fix. If you're running Serpentshrine for the battle pet, do yourself a favor and wait for the elevator to get all the way to the bottom. That corpse run can be frustrating.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Out and About

by Gimmlette

Five-man instances have been a part of WOW since inception. One of the eight 5-mans in Warlords of Draenor is Bloodmaul Slag Mines. There's lots of fire.

On the way to Forgemaster Gog'duh, you'll find an ogre, on fire, hanging from a platform. In a normal running of this, you don't have to concern yourself with this guy, so you might not even notice him. In the heroic version, however, you need to knock this guy down to stop the spawning of fire elementals. He doesn't have that much health and a ranged dps can take him down easily.

One of the crazy things about hunter pets is that, unless they are tanking, they will automatically go to the rear of the NPC they are fighting. I was not aware Quilen could fly, but I guess I was wrong.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

On Saturday, Spectacular Death ran Blackwing Descent. We have rituals in the guild and one of them is to pose after defeating the last boss. It becomes a record of how many times we've faced a boss throughout our guild's history.

Blackwing Descent imagined what would happen if Deathwing reanimated the corpses of his slain children, Nefarian and Onyxia. Nefarian is the final boss of Blackwing Lair and Onyxia has her own lair in Duskwallow Marsh. New bosses were added around a central pit where the final battle occurs amid lava and lots of electricity.

One of the bosses you fight is Maloriak. It's an interesting fight with Maloriak tossing three different colored vials into a pot behind him and you having to face fire, ice and nature-themed attacks. When you kill him in heroic mode only, you get what is Period. There is nothing that can compete with this.

[insert name], Slayer of Stupid, Incompetent, and Disappointing Minions

The title lasts for 30 minutes or until you die, whichever is first. It's always so very, very sad to see it go away and every time we come in here and get the title, we wish there was a way to make it permanent. We have these suggestions:

#1 - Make it obtainable for a large sum of gold, say at least 20,000, only AFTER you have killed Nefarian on heroic. You'd have the achievement to prove that you'd done the fight. Twenty thousand gold is a lot of money, even at the rate you can make gold in the game currently. Not everyone would pay for it.


#2 - Award the title to people who have completed the raid in heroic mode a large number of times, say 20 times. The game keeps tabs on how many times you've done a raid. Check your Statistics panel to see all the things the game keeps tabs on. Perhaps we have to start counting from x date and not have it be retroactive. I can live with that. Twenty times is five months of weekly runs. Possibly you can solo BWD, I'm not sure, but it would take dedication on people's part to do this weekly. It wasn't the most popular raid when it was current content.

Either way, we'd love to see this title become an option on your title panel. For me, it would be a hard choice between "Herald of the Titans" or this one which one I'd have with my name.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Casually Guilded: Getting Ready For Groups

by Gimmlette

"Do I hafta?"

That is not the sound of a 10 year-old after being told to clean up their room. That can be the voice in the head of the casual player who has realized that the best way to improve their gear situation or to see everything in the game is to group with people, perhaps people they don't know. Even if you're in a wonderful guild who lets you do things you'd like to do, the only way to see current tier content is to go with people. Some daily quests just can't be completed alone, either, and if you want to see the most older content in the fastest way possible, you should find a handful of people and blast through it. But, if you're new to this whole "group activity" thing, how do you get yourself ready for it? I'm glad you asked. Here are a few tips.

1)  You know, mostly, how to play the toon you're planning to run groups with, right? If you're in a guild, there is a good chance they are more than happy to have you bring that mage you just boosted to 90 so long as you don't pull aggro off the tank. Learn what the buttons mean. You don't have to know exactly when to push them, but if you're not sure of what a button does, don't go. Spend some time at the training dummies in your garrison or in the major cities and just push them, all at once. See what happens. If you're supposed to hold aggro and can't or are supposed to heal and don't or supposed to not pull aggro but do, your group won't be very happy with you.

Ask in guild chat for tips, if the class is new to you. Do some solo work so you're familiar with some sort of rotation. The more confident you are, the more confident you'll feel and you'll project that confidence to the group.

2) You know, mostly, where you're going in the game. Do not consistently ask for summons. Summoning stones are outside raids to facilitate formation of groups. If your guild sees that you never show up on your own, well, enjoy your view from wherever you are. Learn where things are and go there. I had a lady in my guild who couldn't find her way out of a paper bag with a flashlight, a seeing eye dog, a map AND a neon arrow pointing to the exit. Her son made a binder for her of all the maps and circled the flight points and the locations for every raid and 5-man in the game at that time. Everything was alphabetized, too. When we ran "Nexus", she just opened her folder to "N" and there was the map of Borean Tundra with Coldarra circled. We couldn't use acronyms when she was coming with us because she just couldn't figure those out, but that was a small price to pay to have to say, "Temple of Ahn Qirag" instead of "AQ40" and know she would start heading that way or, sometimes be there to help summon.

It delays the run of the group to have to summon everyone and, frankly, you look like a slacker. Why would a group want to take a slacker? Find where things are and start heading there if it's some place you have to get to.

3) Come with food and flasks. My guild has flasks and food available for all raiders. You take a few and add a few.

Don't be dependent upon someone else in the guild to furnish these. You should have healing potions and bandages, too. The strategic application of a bandage or the quick consumption of a health pot can down a boss and avoid a wipe. If your guild requires you buy these, do so. Eat and drink before the first pull so you are ready.

4) If your guild has raiding/group policies, know them, by heart. If they require a certain voice server, have it installed and ready to go for your first group experience. Generally, voice is not expected for LFR or Looking for Group runs. The key for those runs is to get done as quickly as possible, so voice is rarely offered. Someone has to maintain it and they run the risk of some troll hijacking their voice server.

5) Speaking of guild policies, if your guild requires you have read a battle strat, be sure you do it. There are any number of great sites out there which have information on battles. (We'll be covering that topic in the future.) It is helpful if you review strats if you are going into groups alone, without someone you know. Early in an expansion, groups are pretty forgiving if someone says, at the start, "This is my first time in here. What should I know?" After an expansion has been out for 6+ months, people forget they were new to this material themselves so are less likely to be helpful. This leads to the last point.

6) Have a very thick hide. This might be the most important thing. The trolls are everywhere. They feed on your "I don't know this fight". If you are taking a toon you boosted to 90 and then leveled to 100 through a raid, your dps/hps may not be very high, yet. You could get kicked from a raid. I never kick anyone for low numbers. We were all newbies once, but other people are not so forgiving. You need to be able to look at the comments, which could be directed at you, with a jaundiced eye.

Helpful people don't tell you to "L2P, noob". I have not seen a person kicked because of low numbers. I have seen them kicked for going afk, complaining, mouthing off to the raid, targeting one person and ragging on them and generally jerkish behavior, but never for low healing or dps numbers. I'm sure it happens, but I won't vote someone out of a group for that. Other group compositions aren't as forgiving so learn to ignore the trolls. If someone gives you advice and it seems to be good advice, thank them. But unless you are being a jerk or standing in stuff you shouldn't be or not avoiding the things you should be, the comments of trolls should roll off you. You can always quit a group, if it gets too pointed, and run the content at a later date.

These few suggestions should make your group experience much better. If you never go outside your guild, some of this won't apply to you. On the other hand, if you utilize all the suggestions, you'll be the person in your guild people most want to run with. That's a warm feeling.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

I miss this. That's Onyxia on the left and Nefarian on the right. I don't miss all the work we went through to get people attuned for each raid, but I miss this end result of success.

We used to joke that somewhere under Stormwind, there was a pile of rotting dragon heads and just don't order the soup in any Stormwind restaurant. It was a mark of excellence, for us, to have downed Onyxia and Nefarian in one week; to see the results from the arches into Stormwind; to hear the city crier tell everyone they were getting "The Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer", a buff that level 60 and under still get to damage, XP and rep.

Now days, you only see Nefarian's head from the arch. When Onyxia was made a level 80 raid, you turned in her head to the warlocks in the Mage Quarter. Who knows what they do with it. You get an updated neck piece. I still have both of mine, a testament to our work as a guild to down Onyxia in two iterations. Her head vanishes from your bags. (How did a dragon's head fit in your bags in the first place?) You don't see it in the arch. We used to hang out there and watch for it to materialize.

Occasionally, I suggest that this simple part of the game be returned. For a lot of us, it was an important part of our raiding experience. For those of you who never saw this, you gotta admit, this is cool.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Casual Tank

I love tanking for my guild and really enjoy almost any tank class I can use. I have played ranged dps as well as healers and melee dps, but I love tanking too much to totally give it up. Now, all I really enjoy playing are my tanks. My other toons will get leveled but my tanks are first to max level, always.

From way back in my Dungeons and Dragons days, I have tanked for groups I have played with. I have played other classes (and have every class as alts). I enjoyed hunters and locks a lot; love the rogue and shaman too, but tanking is in my blood. When I came to World of Warcraft, being a tank just made sense, at least to my train of thought. 

I started really tanking back in Wrath of the Lich King on a death knight that I leveled to level 75 in blood spec. I had no clue how to use frost correctly so I used blood. That gave me more threat than frost tanks, but no dps to speak of. When I couldn’t get the dps I needed out of the death knight, I deleted it and leveled Northernbear, my paladin, who I had left at level 55 to make gear for the dk.  Northernbear has stayed tank ever since. I tried warriors, back in Wrath, but couldn’t understand how to make it work so paladins were all I ever really played as a tank. My friends needed tanks for groups so I wound up with a server full of tanking paladins.
I didn’t start to play druids or warriors until Cataclysm came out. I liked both classes, but I still kept the paladin as my main tank. When Mists of Pandaria dropped, the dk, Reilynnbear, became my main tank and has been until today where my warrior, Crissabear, has caught up. My druid, Bearchanges, isn’t far behind now. I have 2 death knights, 3 paladins, 1 warrior and 1 monk. All are tanks. I can’t seem to put any of them aside except the monk. I'm not pleased with how squishy they are in Warlords. He'll get leveled but not for a very long time. 

For me to be the tank means I control the flow of the instance or raid. If you want to move faster than me, in current content, let’s see how long you stay alive. Staying behind me, or any other tank, keeps you alive longer. Most "looking for raid"s blame the tanks when things fall apart. Unless the tank is really lousy or horribly under geared, it’s not their fault things go bad. If the rest of the raid followed accepted raiding rules, they would realize they are the problem. Any decent tank who knows their class can stay alive for most encounters. Put a good healer behind even an average tank and we can do wonders. But if you pull the boss instead of the tank, or if you pull threat off the tank or if you don't move out of stuff, among other things, you shouldn't be blaming the tank for the boss turning and smacking you upside the head. 
I won’t tank outside my guild for raids or instances. In my experience, most groups only want to run as fast as they possibly can and I love a slow steady pace so I can control the surroundings and not have them controlling me. The only drawback of doing this is that getting good gear is slow. I make what I can and get what I can when I do raid. Other options for getting gear, if you would prefer to tank for people you know rather than take your luck with a random group, include pvp gear (bought for honor), apexis crystal dailies, and the auction house. By accumulating apexis shards, you can get good gear that will help you stay alive in the first raid, Highmaul, where you can get better gear. The apexis vendors are in Stormshield and Warspear. 

I will tank a looking for raid if my guild makes up a large portion of it, and we do raid that periodically. The LFR gives you the gear between 5-mans and normal/heroic/mythic raiding. Plus, you can use the time to get somewhat familiar with the fights to make tanking them with your guild a bit easier. I like tank new raids with my best friends in WOW, my Guild. If you are comfortable tanking for random groups, I say go for it. It can be very rewarding.

In the coming weeks, I'm going to go over the basics of tanking, as I've come to learn them. I will give you my impressions of the talents and spells we tanks can use; why I chose what I did and what I've found works for me and what doesn't. 

Tanking will always be my love in this game and I won't stop tanking 'til they stop making WOW. I just do things slower than the high end raid tanks do and have no desire to speed the process up. That works with the casual nature of my guild. I hope you'll find it interesting. My hope is that you will give tanking a try. I hope my column will open your eyes as to why some of us love tanking and why WOW needs more of us who do love it. One of the best parts of tanking is that, when you do decide to run a Looking for Group, you get an almost instant queue. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Out And About

by Reilynnbear

My guild has a bunch of events around the anniversary of their founding, December 15th. One of those events last year, was a ride around Draenor. Along the way, we killed some rares, fell in the water and discovered just how close you could get to Ashran without queuing for PvP. After paying our respects to the genie in northern Talador, we disbanded. Before I headed back to my garrison, Thollie and I stopped to admire the view.

I think this is the one thing that has struck me about Warlords of Draenor. There are incredible views pretty much everywhere. You can easily fill your screenshot folder with nothing but landscapes, there's so much to see.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quest Hub

by Zylostout

One of the things I like to do is see the sights. I love it when you find things you wouldn't normally come across by just running the normal quests. In Stormwind Harbor, if you stay on the upper level and go all the way to the north end of the harbor, you will find Thargold Ironwing. If you talk to him, he will offer to give you a free tour of the harbor. Well, of course I had to go!

The gryphon who flew me around provided a very smooth ride; no loop-de-loops. But there was no informative commentary either. Stormwind could fatten the official coffers by offering those tape recorded commentaries you can get at art exhibits.

The flight takes you way out by the lighthouse and I had to hang on as we came pretty close to the light. I have to say, they should also offer sunglasses for when you pass through the lighthouse light.

It was a lovely flight and a great way to see a different side of Stormwind. Plus, you don't have to tip your driver.

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

This is an ancient suggestion in that we came up with it back in 2012, posted it to the WOW Community forums, in fact. The trolls loved it because it fed their need to shoot something, anything, down. There were thoughtful suggestions and comments, but I learned something. If you have a suggestion, as much as Blizzard would like it to be posted to the forum, that's the worse place you can go with it. Use the "Suggestion Box" and leave a brief comment there. As much work as we put into this suggestion to have the forum trolls rip it to shreds was a let down. I decided, however, to resurrect the idea for readers of this blog and have reproduced, this time with illustrations, our idea. I have also updated, where necessary.

Ladies and gentlemen, I propose to you, the guild blimp.

Building this will require a lot of materials and the combined efforts of the entire guild. As we envision this, it is a time and gold sink, and requires materials across a wide variety of expansions. Plus, we have involved all the professions to make this, truly, a guild-wide effort.

First of all, all the patterns for the blimp are available from a vendor by the blimp dock in or outside of, major cities. Silvermoon and Exodar currently do not have flying so they will not have a blimp dock. In Draenor, only blimps currently in service can be used and they fly only from a garrison to Stormshield or Warspear. This means that you can't build a blimp in Draenor, but you will have access to it. Once flying is allowed in Draenor, the blimps may be used elsewhere, but, as of this writing, I'm unsure where.

Patterns will be pricey. I think in the neighborhood of 1,000 gold and up. I envision a cost akin to the Alliance and Horde choppers or the yak, so 100,000 to 120,000 gold to fully create, assuming you didn't have guild members farming the materials. Bigger guilds, which can devote alts to farming, would be at an advantage to make this first, but I see it being obtainable for all guilds with effort. The actual pieces for the balloon are made by NPCs in the base of the balloon towers. Some things can be turned in in increments. Some cannot. Thank goodness stuff stacks to 200 now. When we envisioned this, whomever turned in the balloon mats needed to have a LOT of bag space. Probably goblins would be the vendors, maybe gnomes, with a variety of races as workmen.

#1 - The Balloon

This requires the services of tailors, herbalists, alchemists and transcriptionists. The balloon is made by an NPC and all materials for making it must be turned in at once. The balloon is made of cured cloth. Any kind of cloth can be cured. It takes 250 cured bolts to make the balloon canvas and each bolt of cured cloth takes 50 bolts of regular cloth to make. (Finally, another use for all...that...netherweave.)

To cure a bolt of cloth you need 20 fish oil, 20 flasks of oil and 20 deeprock salt.

Of course you'll want your guild colors on the balloon or you get a standard gray color. You could also make the balloon any color you wanted really as long as you turned in the right quantity of materials. Herbalists will need to pick herbs in quantity. 1000 of any herb in the primary color of your tabard is required. Inscriptionists will need to learn "Make Balloon Ink" from their trainer. It will be a nominal cost, just like learning to make any ink. Herbs must be in stacks of 20. Any excess is not milled. You get the standard number of ink pots from this many herbs.

Alchemists will need to learn "Make Balloon Dye". They will take the pots of ink and transmute them into dye. In the end, you'll have 4 buckets of balloon dye from 1000 herbs.

Secondary colors to make the guild icon are available from any general goods vendor. Blizzard would have to add some colors to the ones you can get because there is no "cream" color for our icon. You need 20 bottles of dye for your icon color. We could get away with yellow for our icon.

You'll need to get a copy of your icon because, obviously, if left up to goblins, you get some red bird-like thing painted on the side of your blimp. An actual "design" of your icon is available from the tabard vendor for 1000 gold. If you don't care, this is optional and you can have the goblins slap a random icon on the side of your blimp in a random color for 1000 gold or you can leave it blank.

Okay, the balloon is done. Moving on.

#2 - The boat.

You'll need to gather lumber and ore and this part requires the services of blacksmiths, jewelcrafters, alchemists and engineers. You'll need to have your guild engineers fashion the rudder, the engine, and the propellers. All sorts of gears and sprockets and spanners and bolts of various ores and tubing and engineering tools will be needed to make these items. The miners will be kept busy for it takes 1000 pieces of each ore to make the items needed. 250 fel iron bolts need 1000 ore. Three steel propellers need 3000 steel bars. Currently, you may be able to pass up the copper you see flying over the starter zones. To make your blimp, you probably won't ever pass any node up again.

Blacksmiths will make the boat. It's going to take 3000 pieces of lumber for the boat itself. Lumber mills throughout the world will be able to produce the lumber necessary. For instance, if you head to the PvP lumber mill in Grizzly Hills, any NPC killed will have between 1 and 4 pieces of lumber on them. Stacks of 200 pieces are turned into "boat pieces" by blacksmiths.

Blacksmiths will forge the trim visible above. It will take 500 pieces of ore to be smelted into strips for the trim and it take 5 strips to make the trim. The boat pieces and the trim strips are turned in with the cured cloth and dye when the blimp is made.

Jewelcrafters will make the helm and the optional figurehead for the bow. The helm takes 500 of a gem in your guild's colors. So, in the case of Spectacular Death, we would need to get 500 of one kind of green gems. You can't mix and match as you can with herbs. It has to be one color of gem. You can opt to have a different color helm but you'll need to gather 500 of whatever color gem you'd like. Once you have your gems, a jewelcrafter learns "Make helm" which is turned into the goblin with your other materials.

Optional would be the figurehead on the bow. These would come in a variety of styles and price ranges. The cheapest to make would be green gem quality. You think that might be an eagle on the front of your blimp's boat. It could also be the representation of a sparrow that's been run over by a chopper. You're not quite sure. The most expensive will be the transmuted diamond figures, with exquisite cut features and, is that a sparkle. There will be 5 from which to choose. All figures need 500 CUT gems of the same quality. Alchemists will transmute the 500 gems into one mega-gem which is turned in with your materials.

We're not finished yet.

Up to now, the leatherworkers have been standing around giggling that everyone else is working while all they have to do is reap the rewards of a guild endeavor. It's time to put them to work.

#3 - Ropes

You need to hold the boat onto the blimp somehow and that's by pulleys and ropes. Plus, you need some accouterments on the inside. Originally, we had tailors making the ropes, but we opted to move that task to leatherworkers. A blimp takes 100 feet of rope which takes 1000 leather strips which come from 250 pieces of leather. The leather has to be all one kind to make a strip. This is the only piece that can be done in increments. Once you have 250 strips, you can turn it in for 25 feet of rope.

Each boat can carry 6 hammocks. Leatherworkers need 500 pieces of leather to make one hammock. As with the rope, each hammock must be crafted from the same kind of leather.

Finally, you'll need to store Goblin Rocket Fuel to make the blimp go. For each barrel, you get an hour's flying time. If you happen to be in the blimp when your fuel runs out and you don't have another barrel on you, well, you better hope you're not very high in the air.

So, you've done all this and you have all your materials in the guild bank so everyone can see them. You gather up all your stuff and 20,000 gold and head to the manufacturer. He'll look through everything and tell you if you're missing anything and then it takes 24 hours to make your blimp. What's next?

Well, you need to learn how to pilot the danged thing and bring it in for docking. This would be a mini scenario which costs 5,000 gold to complete. The guild leader or their designated officer, would be the first to learn to fly the blimp. Once they have successfully completed flight training and the guild has created a blimp, anyone else can queue up for the flying scenario and get your pilot's license. Only the person who will fly the blimp initially will get the letter stating the blimp is ready. You head to the dock and talk to the flight master on the tower. He summons your blimp.

Blimps would only be accessible via the dock. As this is mass transportation, a minimum of 5 people are needed to use the blimp. Guild members fly free while non guild members pay 50 silver to ride. These do not go fast. If you've ever ridden the blimp from Thunder Bluff to Orgrimmar, that is their speed.

Blimps can and will have things go wrong with them and require maintenance. Depending upon how many hours your guild uses the blimp, the guild leader will get a letter in the mail stating that maintenance is due on the blimp. This has to be paid at the blimp dock before the blimp can be flown. This would be no less than 250 gold and is deducted straight from the guild bank or payable up front.

If you don't fly high enough, you can crash into trees or mountains. If you decide to fly over the other faction's cities, you can be shot out of the air.

There would be achievements for this. Among those proposed are:

  • building a blimp
  • getting a pilot's license
  • successfully piloting the blimp between ports
  • logging 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 hours of flight time; both as a pilot and as a rider
  • flying the blimp between major cities
  • survive a crash landing
  • fly over a major city of the opposing faction and not be shot down
  • defend your blimp from a certain number of wind riders
  • shoot down an enemy blimp
  • board and destroy an enemy blimp

I'm certain there are many others that could come from blimps.

There are issues with the idea. First and foremost is the amount of lag this would produce when you have a lot of blimps flying over Stormwind, for example. Plus, if you aren't able to fend off wind riders, would those of us minding our business in Stormwind suddenly have horde dropping from the sky? How would this interfere with the event when someone gets the legendary staff? In Stormwind's case, blimps could be constrained to the dock area. In Ironforge, they would be on the airstrip, which would necessitate changing the quest line that's up there. Blimps could be kept to the outer edge of Undercity where, currently, nothing but NPC's roam. Thunder Bluff is tailor made for blimps. Orgrimmar used to have a blimp tower in front of it where Brewfest is currently held. It wouldn't be hard to attach a tower to the front ramparts and make that part of Orgrimmar air space.

Shattrach would need towers. As it's neutral space, one tower could be sufficient for both factions. I'm not sure which towns would get towers. There's a lot of vertical space in Outlands and it would be easy to collide with mountains. "Impaled by Blade's Edge" could be an achievement.

Dalaran has a porthole which starts in the sewer. A blimp dock could utilize this hole. The other option is to have people at the landing toss rope ladders over the side of Dalaran and you'd have to click on those to climb up. You could bring your guild's blimp alongside either ship in Icecrown, resulting in an attack of the opposite faction's air ship. Icecrown Citadel and Ulduar could, easily, have places to moor an airship. And just think how easy it would be to find Bastion of Twilight and Throne of the Four Winds. Pick up your blimp at the nearest town and fly it and your party to those raids.

Pandaria could have mooring locations on the wall, one in Tian Monastery, one at Lion's Landing and Domination Point and joint ones at Temple of the White Tiger and Mogu'shan Palace. The key is to make them infrequent but accessible and to put the towers in places that make the most "sense". It doesn't make sense to have a tower outside the Heart of Fear raid, but it might make sense to have a tower at the Temple of the Ox. Again, Silvermoon and Exodar do not have flying so blimps would not be allowed there.

It would take work on Blizzard's part to implement this idea. I'm sure there are other concerns, besides lag in major cities, which would need to be addressed. Still, I think this could be awesome for guilds. As long as flying in someone else's blimp didn't cost a ridiculous amount, not every guild would opt to have one. I know my guild would dedicate nights to amassing the resources so we could sail off into the sunset in our very own blimp.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Casually Guilded: A Guide to Moving On

by Gimmlette

Last week, I discussed how to find that "perfect" guild. You followed the tips and found yourself a wonderful place to hang your hat. The people were friendly and you got to see what you wanted to see, based on what you decided were the things in the game that meant the most to you, like, maybe, killing giant spiders.

First 25-man kill of Maxenna in Naxxramas, 2009

But, after days, weeks, months or even years, what you want out of the game changes. Maybe you can play longer hours now so you'd like to give progression or hard-core raiding a try. Maybe you just can't play even the 4 hours per week you started out with and need to stop playing altogether. Maybe the guild climate has changed. Whatever the reason, you've decided a change of scenery or tabard is what you need. Let's talk about how to leave in the best possible fashion.

First of all, how do you know it's time to leave. It can be hard to make that decision particularly when you've been with a guild for years. If your guild has a casual focus and you find you have a great rush of adrenalin when forced to produce a certain amount of heals or damage per second, you might feel constrained with a slower pace. If you find yourself parsing logs for what you do after every raid and you're reading about character optimization, you might like a more progression focused guild.

If you started your tenure with your guild by having 6 hours per week to play and now find that real life only allows you 3 hours per week, maybe the kind thing to do is to leave a guild that is more interested in raiding and go to a slower paced guild. Or, perhaps the game holds no interest for you or those 3 hours find you frustrated by what you can't get done. You might benefit from stepping completely away, breathing, living and seeing if the game is where you want to spend your free time.

In addition to your evolution as a player, guilds evolve. I know of casual guilds that morphed into progression and then hard-core raiding guilds. I also know of guilds that went the other direction because it was too stressful to maintain the high focus of progression. And, sometimes guilds just implode and the atmosphere can only be described as "toxic". May you never experience that, but it happens and you'll know when it does.

Heroic Heart of Fear Guild Run, 2015

All of these cases and varying degrees of them might cause you to want to leave. If you feel let down or have a conflict with someone or dislike the nature of the guild, the human desire is to "tell it like it is", let "them" (whomever you identify with that pronoun) know how unhappy you are. That is the worst thing you can do. Even in a guild filled with drama, adding to it will not help anyone. The Welsh poet Dylan Thomas may have said, "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light", but throwing a fit brands you as a drama creator. If you stay on the server where your former guild is located, word gets around. Even if you thought you had formed a wonderful friendship with "C", a drama-filled guild exit can quickly leave you isolated. "C" doesn't need that in her life. Even if your cause is righteous, such as the guild leader only raids his family, don't scream at him.

Don't post to your server forum that you're looking for a new guild while you're in your current guild. Guild leaders read the forums, or any guild leader with any smarts does. The last thing they want to see is your name with a "Hey, I'm looking for a new guild" post. Your current guild expects you will be a team player. If you're posting to the server forum that you're looking, you'll be guildless faster than you expected and you'll find out that "C", whom you thought was a friend, isn't interested in someone who goes behind the guild's back.

Don't not talk to someone and just up and leave. You might think you're avoiding drama, but guilds are going to know when you're not logging on. If you happen to be on some people's friends list, they are going to wonder why you're online but not in the guild.

Follow these tips for a seamless departure. First of all, decide why you want to leave. If it's simply that your wants from the game have changed, hurrah for you. Better to find some place that fits your wants. If it's a personality problem or a perceived change of tone in the guild, can it be solved by talking with an officer?

Second, and I believe this is the number one priority for someone leaving a guild, tell an officer you're leaving. You don't have to write a long involved note. A simple, "Hey, it's been fun, but I've been accepted into a progression raiding guild so I'm going to be raiding with them." Your fellow guild members and your officers will thank you. "Well, I didn't want to cause drama," you might say. Leaving without talking to anyone in the officer corps causes drama and leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Your alts, if you have them, could find themselves guildless.

What if the guild situation is untenable and telling someone will just make it worse? I still believe you need to send an in-game letter to an officer or the guild leader stating simply, "Hi, while I've enjoyed my time here, my game wants have changed and I've found a guild that better meets my needs. I wish all of you the best." You might be lying through your teeth but a letter with "You're all a bunch of steaming sacks of talbuk doo doo" won't win you any friends. In the age of instant communications, you could find your letter going viral for all the wrong reasons.

Ghost Stories Around a Campfire

If you are leaving because your wants have changed and you have a reasonably good relationship with your guild mates, a paragraph in your guild's forum explaining why you're leaving is a very good thing to do. You'll find that people don't hold it against you if you're up front about leaving to do something else. They will probably wish you a lot of luck and encourage you to stay in touch. Even if you're leaving because the guild climate is "toxic" to you, a polite "I'm leaving to pursue other avenues" let's you leave with somewhat good feelings from the general membership.

When should you leave? I think that's a very subjective thing. If you're leaving to pursue other avenues in the game, have explained things to your officers, have penned a "thanks, but I'm leaving" letter and people are wishing you well, leaving during a time when a lot of people can say their "Good byes" is not a bad idea. Everyone comes away with "warm fuzzies" and you look respectful of everyone. If your leaving is because of drama or if you think it will cause drama regardless of doing the above suggestions, then it is probably best to leave at a time when there are few people online. If there are people online when you decide to /gquit, don't burn your bridges, so to speak, by calling out someone or some group of someones as you leave. "I'm going to pursue other avenues. Thanks for all the fun," is all you need to say. Your letter of goodbye to an officer and/or the guild leader can be penned at that time, as well.

Guilds become families, particularly if you hang around for a long time. You know someone's pet, their hometown, their favorite food, their dislike of asparagus. Understand that leaving is bound to cause sadness, anger in some cases. We're human and we can take some things very personally, even when they aren't meant that way. If you leave with tact, even if the guild doesn't deserve that tact, you'll feel better about cutting the cord and moving on.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday

by Gimmlette

In keeping with Tuesday's photo, I present the boss in the waters of Zul'Gurub prior to the Cataclysm. For those who started playing at the end of Wrath of the Lich King or later, you probably never saw Zul'Gurub as it was originally designed. There was a bat and spider boss in addition to the raptor, snake and panther bosses which remain. It was often debated whether Jin'do or Hakkar was the final boss of the raid because you could go to one without affecting the other. We usually did Jin'do and then Hakkar.

The raid was designed for 20 people. It came out after Molten Core and its 40-man wipe fest. The gear which dropped here was incrementally better, than Molten Core's although, if you got tier pieces from MC, drops from ZG were not better if you had a set bonus. They were of a "jungle/troll" style with skins you couldn't find anywhere else. Even during the early days of the game, some designs were reused just in different colors. ZG designs were completely different.

At the end of Wrath of the Lich King, the only reasons to run Zul'Gurub were if you'd never seen the raid, 2) wanted some piece of gear for nostalgia's sake or, primarily, 3) wanted the mounts that dropped off the raptor and panther bosses. I never saw either mount drop to lose a roll on them, but I did see both mounts being ridden by people in the game so they did exist. If you needed cash, running Zul'Gurub as a level 80 was a great way to make money by selling everything that dropped.

With the Cataclysm expansion, Blizzard decided to repurpose the raid into a 5-man heroic instance. The bat and spider bosses are gone, although the entrances to their respective locations are still in the 5-man. The troll jungle theme was maintained and many of the gear and weapon drops from vanilla, when this was a raid, were maintained and upgraded. New mobs were added with new attacks and things which weren't in the raid. We had a difficult time getting past the first event, a cauldron of steaming green nastiness, until we had better gear.

Also gone was Gahz'ranka. He was probably the best part of the raid. You went to Pagel's Point and fished him up out of the waters of the lagoon surrounding the middle section. You couldn't use just any bait. You had to go to Duskwallow Marsh and, south of Theramore, find Nat Pagel, long rumored to be Azeroth's best fisherman. He had you do a quest chain for him that involved fighting a shark. Only when you were successful would Nat sell you mudskunk lures. You used these lures to fish up mudskunks. Five mudskunks would attract Gahz'ranka. You would fish up a whole bunch of fish you didn't need to get your five mudskunks so it was necessary to have several people fishing for them to maximize the time it took.

With a rumble, Gahz'ranka would appear out of the water. His big attack was a stomp that threw half the raid into the air. You took fall damage when you landed. Once we'd done it a couple of times, if someone was new to the encounter, we had them stand at water's edge and just watch. Sometimes, you hit the water when you came down. Most of the time, you didn't. Killing Gahz'ranka was the ONLY way to get the mage spell "Polymorph: Turtle", and he didn't drop it every time. Now, you can fish it up in pools from Uldum.

The best part is the fact that you could get Darkmoon Special Reserve at Pagel's Point. Outside of the Darkmoon Faire, this was the only place you could get this beverage. I remember filling most available bag slots with stacks of this because it was everywhere at Pagel's Point, and putting it up for sale in the Auction House. A stack would sell for the, then, princely sum of 20 gold, 30 if you were the only person selling a stack. I never could quite figure that out, but it was gold so I took it.

Gahz'ranka is gone as is the booze at Pagel's Point. You can still get mudskunk lures from Nat in Duskwallow, but there are no mudskunks to catch. In the waters of ZG are "spawn of Gahz'ranka", smaller versions of the great monster. There are other small bosses around the instance, indeed, if you're going to do everything you can in the 5-man,  you'll need to plan to come back at least 3 times. But, I have such good memories of the fun we had dragging people to get drunk first, fish next and get thrown into the air by something big and green they couldn't quite see.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bug Report

by Gimmlette

Today's Bug Report comes courtesy of Mogu'shan Vaults. This is the Elegon encounter. If you've never been here or done this raid, the boss, which is a sparkly dragon, shows up under those discs hanging from the ceiling. A clear floor shows up under him.

During the encounter, you need to kill an add, kill some balls of light and then destroy pillars situated around the floor. The floor will despawn during the fight, too, so you have to be aware of any warnings you're getting. Spectacular Death has a policy of requiring a 50 gold donation to the guild bank if you don't get off the floor before it despawns. You do no healing, tanking or dps if you're somewhere at the bottom of the hole, so heed the warnings and get off.

We discovered that if you kill the boss too fast, which can happen when your raid is made up of level 100s, you break the encounter. This raid's mobs are level 90. We kind of killed Elegon really fast and when his loot chest spawned in the center of the circle, the floor did not. The toon to my right, Minaithelan, tried a few different ways to get to the chest but it was for naught.

What to do? Well, first of all, don't have everyone in your raid submit a ticket to notify the game masters that you've had an issue. We had over half the raid submit tickets and while that got us quick attention, the GM's were not happy. Designate someone, preferably your raid leader, to put in the ticket explaining what happened.

Secondly, you can wait 30 minutes for what's called a "hard reset". Everyone needs to leave the raid instance and they can leave the raid. Go pick herbs or pick on horde or another boss. At the end of 30 minutes, have the same person who started the raid, invite everyone back in. Under their portrait's drop down menu, click "Reset all instances". Supposedly, this restarts the raid from the point you left off. You should be able to get to this chest and finish up the raid. We simply disbanded and came in two days later to finish the raid. The GM's sent me all the loot which I couldn't hand out to people so I sold it and stuck the proceeds into the guild bank. Elegon drops a mount which looks just like him so people are running this raid frequently for that mount.

But, as we've discovered with the Mount Hyjal Burning Crusades raid, doing all of this is not a guarantee of getting the raid to work. As nice as it is to just blast through older content, you are probably going to have to go slower than you'd like just so you don't break it.

Ironically, while searching the former WOWInsider site for all the times Spectacular Death had been mentioned in their "Around Azeroth" column, I stumbled across this.

Guess we're not the only ones to have a floor issue.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Out And About

If there is one thing this game does well, it is promote the accumulation of stuff. One of those "stuff" things is mounts. There are achievements for getting 100, 150, 200 and 250 mounts. I'm working on the last one, Mountacular. I'm currently at 222 mounts. Twenty-seven more and I ... yeah...27 more, about that. I'm kind of down to the ones that I need help doing, the raiding mounts. There are a few places I can go by myself where, if the Random Number Generator is feeling particularly nice, a mount can drop.

One of the places is the 5-man instance from Cataclysm, Zul'Gurub. I flew over there one weekend morning after failing to find the battle pet up outside of Karazhan. You can see the walls of Zul'Gurub from the area in front of Karazhan so hopping onto one of my flying mounts, I was into the area in no time.

I was struck by the beauty of the place in the morning light. When you fly over the walls, the mobs in the instance don't spawn. You could, in theory, use this as your personal fortress. The photo also reminds me that so much has gone into the creation of this game; the nuances of color, the running water, the buildings and, the light of a morning and how it all looks. You can spend hours flying around looking and not see all of it. I've gone here a number of times, but it was this angle that caught my eye. Amazing.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Quest Hub

By Gimmlette

This column will be the occasional "Hey, have you done" or "You gotta try this" which introduces you to or remembers some great quests. Our first one comes from Zylostout.

There's a quest line you can do in Loch Modan where you get to disguise yourself as a bush. I thought to myself, how far can I go while I am in this disguise?  Is this a magical disguise, good for all sizes? If I mount up, will I be a giant bush?  Well, I couldn't go very far and I wasn't a giant bush, but a bush riding a horse is an interesting effect none the less. The bush is the last quest in a rather amusing quest line that starts with "Who's In Charge Here?" and ends with "Axis of Awful". 

(Editor's Note:  That's the Modan Monster in the background. His [her?] model is the same as any other kraken in the game only he/she is a light blue. He/she exists only to antagonize at level toons who happen to be in what's left of the loch to kill crocs or to get a better view, not that I would know about that.) 

Suggestion Box

by Gimmlette

Blizzard encourages their players to interact with the game and to make suggestions. Bugs, the things which are broken, are a separate category. Suggestions are just that. "Hey, I'd like to see..." In this column, we're going to post some of our ideas. Way back in Wrath of the Lich King, we came up with the idea for socks, which showed up this past year as a gift from Greatfather Winter. We can't claim credit for the socks, our idea was more of an item you would have tailors make, but we were really excited when socks showed up in the game.

Here is today's suggestion.

That's Krush, the boar outside The Butcher in the Highmaul Raid in Warlords of Draenor. Every time we head over to The Butcher, we make the observation that there is no bacon of quantity in this game. You can make Beer Basted Boar Ribs and three types of boars in the game drop ribs used for quests. There is the quest in Hellfire Peninsula, Hellboar, the Other White Meat, which gives you a stack of Hellboar Bacon, but, because it's a quest, it's not repeatable. We feel the lack of bacon in this game is an egregious oversight and needs to be rectified.

Look at the size of that boar. We could get, easily, enough meat off that guy to satisfy a raid group for at least 30 minutes. Come on Blizzard. We have eggs. Let's have bacon.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Casually Guilded

by Gimmlette

Finding a guild in World of Warcraft can be a daunting proposition if you're a casual player. You don't want to be a "hopper", one who can't stay with a guild for more than a couple months because, ewww, you didn't know they did or expected "that", whatever "that" happens to be. You want to get it reasonably right the first time. There might be a temptation to be a mercenary, just come into a group when they need that 10th person, but the game is designed to favor a guild experience. The perks, such as reduced cost for vendor items, faster movement speeds, ease of accessing a bank, to name a few, tend to push people toward the collective setting rather than being a lone-wolf. So how does a casual player find a guild?

1)  You can hang out in any major city and read recruiting texts.

Generally speaking, they won't be quite so cheeky as the above. A good recruiting statement tells you a bit about the guild; raiding times, casual/hard-core/family friendly. whether they require a certain voice chat and what kind of perks they might have.

2)  You can check the World of Warcraft Realm Forums or the Guild Recruitment forums. Guilds looking for members will post an "ad" of sorts, detailing what they are looking for and what they offer. I recommend sticking with your realm forum unless you really hate your realm and are looking for a change. The Guild Recruitment forum has so many posts it can be hard to sift through them.

3)  You can hang out in a major city and type "I need a guild", repeatedly, often, a lot. Assuming you can endure the inevitable trolls who will respond to you, you can see what guilds will invite you just because you're unguilded. (The short answer is, "Quite a few.")

4)  If someone is asking in Trade or General chat for more people to run a raid or if you use the "Looking For Group" tool, you can ask the people in your group about their guilds.

Sapphiron in Naxxramas

Those of us leveling toons other than our mains, have bemoaned the fact that people don't want to chat when they are in a group. "I just say 'hi' and you'd think I had the plague." For most people, end game is where it's at and they are running 5-mans to level and raid for transmog gear or to get something done faster than soloing. The best chatting is when you get 3-4 members of a guild in a 5-man or hook up with a handful seeking more bodies for a raid. They tend to be amenable to talking about their guild. But, don't take it seriously if they tell you to "bugger off" in any sort of fashion. It's not you, it's them.

I have some suggestions for a casual person to help them find the right fit. This takes a bit of work on your part, but the end result should be a guild you can be happy in for a very long time.

A)  Review just how much you can play. Be honest. If you get home at 6 p.m. and have to be in bed by 10:30 p.m., how much of your evening can you devote to WOW? Do you have a spouse, significant other, kids, pet, etc., that needs some of your time every night? Do you have home obligations such as taking out the trash, yard work, cleaning, dishes, etc, that have to be done weekly or daily? What about food and just "you" time? You need to do an honest assessment of how much time you can spend playing the game. No sense joining a guild that raids Monday, Thursday and Saturday from 8-12 if you can't play until 12 during the week and every 3rd Saturday, you have to go visit Aunt Clara. Know just how much time you have.

PvP in the Inn at Crossroads

B)  What are you looking from the game? Do you want totally end-game raiding? Is it important to you to have the newest shinies? Do you like attacking the other side? Do you want to see older content which you might have missed as you leveled? Knowing what you want out of the game is very important so you don't join a guild where end-game raiding is everything and you want to see Molten Core, for instance.

C)  Armed with those two items, you can begin a search. As I said above, I don't believe the Guild Recruitment Forum is a good use of your time. You'll spend way too much wading through posts from realms you have no interest in moving to. Go straight to your realm and look at that forum. Because most realms are connected, you will have to hit the forums of your connected realms, too. I'm on Llane, which is connected to Arygos. I've found that guilds who are on Arygos don't remember to post to the Llane forum, and vice versa, even though we're drawing from the same pool of talent.

D)  Read all the recruitment posts. That could take time, but read Do you like what you see? A good recruiting post tells you what kind of guild they are; hard-core, family friendly, casual, PvP oriented, etc. It tells you about raiding; if they are looking for specific classes to fill their ranks, for instance. There should be raiding days and times listed, as well as technical requirements for raiding such as which voice server they use. They should also give you some of the perks of guild membership. It's, essentially, the same as the above recruiting statement but not limited to the Twitter-like post in the game's chat forums. It should be comprehensive, allowing you to decide if you want to research them further.

E)  Look them up on the WOW forum. At the upper right of the forum box, type the guild's name in the search box. (Here is the page for Spectacular Death to illustrate.) Check out their achievements. Check out the roster. You can search for how many trolls or paladins they have, how many level 100s and level 1s. I wouldn't shy away from any guild that is brand new. Spectacular Death was new once. If you like a challenge or the opportunity to help a guild get achievements, a brand new guild can be the way to go. It's so much fun to see the guild achievement pop up on the screen. It depends upon what you're looking for.

F)  Make a list of all the guilds you're seriously considering and who is their guild master/mistress. Google them. Seriously. Type the guild name into a search engine and see what comes up. If they have a web site, go there. What does it look like? Is it friendly? Is it up-to-date? Does it have public information that gives you an idea of the kind of guild they are and whether what they do is what you want to do? Remember, if the guild has an on-line presence, chances are very good they have a section that is not available to the public, that you'll only see once you're a member. A good guild, even if they are brand new, has thought about their online presence and has a lot of information for potential members available. You should be able to determine if what you see online is what you'd like.

     Saving Tyrande from the Horde.

G) Once you've done all that and have pared your list down to a handful, you can add the step of sending an in-game letter to either the guild leader or one of the officers. In Spectacular Death, we have a tab on our web site where you can see the officers. We have a Membership Officer. That person, also called "Recruitment", is probably your first contact with the guild. If you have questions or are interested in membership, contact that person or send an in-game letter to them or the guild leader. Alternatively, you can add them to your "Friends" list and when they log on, whisper to see if they would be available to answer questions about their guild. I get this all the time.

I strongly, strongly suggest that you read where the person is before you ask questions. I'm happy to talk to you, but not when I'm in a raid. If they can't talk, thank them for their time and send them a letter or ask if you can talk at another time. I can't stress this enough, "Courteous people will get more of my time than uncourteous people." I will make time for someone who starts their whisper with, "Excuse me, I'm sorry to bother you but do you have time to talk about your guild?"

H)  If there is an application or interview required for membership, do it. Do not argue with me about whether you need to apply through my guild's web site. Application and interview exist for a reason and it's not your choice whether you will or won't do them. Is it annoying? Yeah, it is. But, speaking from experience here, we have turned down people whom we have discovered, through the application process, would not fit in.

New guilds may take anyone just to swell their ranks to actually be able to run content and there is nothing wrong with that, but for a casual player, your time is precious so you want to make a good choice about what guild to join. Jumping guilds is frustrating both for you and for the guild. Endure the application or the interview with grace and charm. You're finding out about them as much as they are finding out about you. As a side note, make sure you provide a contact email that you check more than once every other month. It is very frustrating to try to contact a potential recruit and have them not respond only to get a whisper 3 months later, "Can I still join? I don't check that email that I gave you very often." That says volumes to your potential guild mates and not in a good way.

There you have it. These are my suggestions for finding a guild you can be a part of and stay with for a long time. Remember, too, that every guild has ups and downs. It's the nature of humanity. If people have been around a guild for a long time or show a dedication to the guild, chances are good, it's stable and will be a good fit. Do your homework. Know what you want. Know how much time you can play.

Good luck.