Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Low threat magic

The entire Bloodlust battlegroup went offline earlier this morning, so I decided to play with an alt on Earthen Ring. I went on a run through Razorfen Kraul with a couple of nice people from there.

Although I'm up to a level with that character (26) where I already had Multi and Arcane Shot, I decided to try using my more general pattern now of Immolation Trap and Serpent Sting with Auto, even in the instance. I started seeing some pretty amazing things happen.

There was one occasion when an auto crit pulled aggro from the boar onto me. On me turning auto off and standing still, the boar momentarily regained aggro, and I resumed fire. At that level I didn't have Feign or Disengage, but in this case, I didn't need either.

Another thing I'm able to do with my dots and pure auto, which I can't do if I use Arcane or Multi, is multimob pet tanking with 2 or 3 mobs, with nothing other than Growl. Our main tank nearly died, so I did this temporarily and was able to buy the healer some time to save his life.

It also means that if I get adds while soloing, where I once might have freaked out, now I relax. I can either 1) use Distracting Shot to pull the add to me to freeze it, 2) hit it with Wyvern Sting, 3) put Mend Pet on and drop Snake Trap to keep it mostly occupied until I've finished the first mob, or 4) throw Mend Pet on, redirect the boar to the add, give it 2 Growls, then redirect back to the first mob and finish killing it.

If on the other hand I panic and hit Arcane or Multi, I don't have those options. The mob just gets pulled to me, and sometimes won't get off me no matter what I do; including Disengage or Feign.

So, tomorrow when you're doing your dailies, I invite you to try that; using an Immolation Trap, Serpent Sting, and then straight Auto shot on mobs without any Arcane, Multi or even Steady at all. I also did that with my dailies this evening, and went through them I think faster than I ever have before, because I a) didn't die due to my ambient threat going through the roof, and b) didn't need to drink more than probably once every 8-10 mobs.

This also works great even with Beast Mastery, as it means you can keep Intimidation as a panic button for when you truly need it.

You'll see magic happen. ;-)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pike's quote of the Rifleman's Creed

Pike has quoted the Rifleman's Creed, which is apparently an element of the philosophy of the Marines. What little I read about them once suggested to me that nothing incites their anger more greatly than the appropriation of any element of their identity by anyone who is not among their own number, and quite justifiably so. I therefore will not join her myself in quoting that here.

However, what I will say is that I believe that, particularly as WoW loses integrity and cohesion to an increasingly greater degree, dedication to, and the practice of, the core principles of patience, delayed gratification, economy, redundancy, and simplicity, are vital in at least my own individual success with, and full appreciation of the Hunter class within WoW. They've enabled me to continue to play the game when others have found things increasingly frustrating due to the threat generation nerfs, as one example.

There is a sense, as I have tried to impress upon Rilgon I think, that ultimately, the gimmickry and various exploits which Blizzard have tried to introduce with other classes and specs are entirely hollow and meaningless.

If the practice of lucid, deliberate initial preparation, and then (with contextually specific adaptations, of course) a calm stance of stand and fire are followed, the size, power, and other characteristics of the individual enemy become entirely irrelevant. The end result of victory becomes consistent, repeatable, and largely predictable each time.

A poem

This is something I was inspired to write by a thread I found in the Suggestions forum. I've been accused of being emo before, so if anyone else wants to level that accusation, feel free. :)

I thought leave taking had already past,
Where roleplayers and the great old ones of yore,
Had drifted away, melted away,
Weeping, into our memories.

For now, sun slowly sets on Azeroth,
Where soon no one will ride out once again,
Orc and Human both fade into night,
And neither more, shall be remembered, then.

And what of me, why do I stay,
Knowing that this must pass?
That Black Rock's fire elementals, shall no longer burn,
No Tauren hoof beat down on Mulgore's grass?

I stay for love, of Troll and Orc,
Of polearm, bow, and sword,
All this and more was given me,
As servant of the Horde.

I stay because the real world that I live in,
Is now corrupt and mediocre, soft,
And so I, first time, sought something better,

And found it,
Now passed,
Once living,
In Azeroth.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A satisfying match in Arathi Basin

I've spent the last 4-5 days in Arathi Basin, slowly attempting to replace at least some of my current gear. Stat wise, the S1 set is utterly fantastic; with my current gear, once I've regemmed I'll be at 750 base ag. My plan is to hit 800 base before I finally pug Kara, and I'm on track at the moment I think to hitting that goal.

I wanted to share a screenshot though of the result of my last game. Alumatine's 0/28/33 hybrid spec is nice, with high burst; I can break 2k with multi fairly regularly with it. For PvP though it's not quite as good; I was having trouble getting past 5th place in kills.

This game was a loss overall, in terms of capturing nodes; we very rarely get teams who care about that at all, any more, and I've found it frustrating to the point of not being worth it if I try and encourage them to. People treat it like an open air, multiperson version of the Arena, and I'm learning not to swim against the tide in that respect. My own measure of success, then, has become my final place on the board, irrespective of if the node game is won.

I got the above with the respec; it's the same spec that my Armory profile should show currently, assuming it's updated now. Note in particular how low my damage output is comparitively with other people; it's even lower than people who are below me in the list.

I tend to hit flow state with this spec; there were times during this match where I can remember being only partially conscious, and I've had that happen during Scholo soloing when using it as well.

I'm also not going to try and tell anyone who feels the same way about BM that they should respec; most of the people on the forum are mere scenesters, but I know that Pike and BRK are not. It's why I can't respec BM for raiding, even if it does mean I never do raid. Where WoW is concerned, Survival is what I am, to the point where probably only really the Paladin holds much interest for me, in terms of other classes; and Ret is essentially Survival's mirror image in a melee sense anyway, as I've often said. It's why I actually largely stopped playing the game for almost six months and lived on the forum, truth be told; because I was tired of the amount of crap that I kept getting for being Surv, and so figured that if I couldn't be, I just wouldn't play at all.

Asking me to respec BM though would be the equivalent of asking BRK to respec Survival; it'd probably destroy his primary reason for playing the game, as that change largely would mine. That's why, even though I suspect he doesn't think it, I do still respect him; because like Pike, he is someone who plays BM for the right reasons.

True Beast Masters, as Pike have said; people who play it because they genuinely love the spec, are alarmingly rare, it seems. The impression I've consistently gained on the forum is of a group of largely ex-Marks people who play BM purely to be accepted in raid groups, but who privately absolutely hate it. I think that's why Survival has always been the rarest used, though. Unlike the other two trees, Survival has always been underground; it hasn't had a turn at being the in crowd's spec, and so the only reason why anyone uses it is because they really want to, actually in defiance of what others consider acceptable.

I did this with Immolation Trap, Serpent Sting, wing clipping/concussing opponents and then jumping back to start a usual 1:1.5 rotation. According to my numbers stated earlier in my trapping post, the Serpent/Immolation combo does 3k+ damage over 15 sec; at 9k, that's one third of a target's health. This damage is also magical, and therefore entirely unmitigated by what I consider the melee hack ratings, Defense Rating and Resilience. I also still use my boar as a pet, as although his damage output is lower, he very rarely dies in comparison with the experimental ravager that I had tamed.

The above was successful on multiple occasions against other Hunters, Warriors, Rogues, Paladins, and Mages, although Warlocks, Shamans, Priests, and to a lesser extent Druids are classes that I can still have some difficulty with. This can also be seen, I think, as independent verification that Bandet's philosophy is valid and effective, as in truth I suspect that he and I think somewhat alike.

After this, I've also realised that I'm no longer going to listen to people on the forum who try to tell me that I do not know how to play my class. The style might be unorthodox, I don't argue with that; but I have the numbers, I've done testing, and for just about everything other than raiding, it works.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A relevant fable

This is a story that I've considered relevant to Survival for a long time. Also another quote:-

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.

The Chinese here is tricky and a certain key word in the context it is used defies the best efforts of the translator. Tu Mu defines this word as "the measurement or estimation of distance." But this meaning does not quite fit the illustrative simile in ss. 15. Applying this definition to the falcon, it seems to me to denote that instinct of SELF RESTRAINT which keeps the bird from swooping on its quarry until the right moment, together with the power of judging when the right moment has arrived. The analogous quality in soldiers is the highly important one of being able to reserve their fire until the very instant at which it will be most effective. When the "Victory" went into action at Trafalgar at hardly more than drifting pace, she was for several minutes exposed to a storm of shot and shell before replying with a single gun. Nelson coolly waited until he was within close range, when the broadside he brought to bear worked fearful havoc on the enemy's nearest ships.

-- The Art of War 5:13, and translator's commentary.

To elaborate further; I admittedly took ages in doing the initial quest of killing the Gordunni Ogres for the Shatari Skyguard last night.

However, just after I started doing the quest, I had my latency spike to 1800 ms. In that sort of environment, a 1:1.5 or even 1:1 rotation with Steady isn't just more difficult; it's downright deadly. I had to move very, very slowly and carefully, and even then, died once due to the level 73 Elite showing up unexpectedly. Single mob pulls, in clear isolation of the others, Immolation Trap, Serpent and Auto as I've mentioned, and keeping my eyes glued to Diamond Threat Meter; with that much lag, I had to actually feign a few seconds ahead of when I otherwise would have.

People criticise Survival for being too slow when questing or farming, when what they don't realise is how beautifully the cool downs for both trapping and Charge actually can fit for per-mob killing. A lot of the time I take the full 30 seconds to kill each mob, and I find in Scholo when I'm killing mobs in an intuitive stream, my traps are always there exactly when I need them; the cooldowns can seem to vanish entirely.

At the other end of the spectrum, Beast Mastery emphasises speed, and it is true that there are times when I will die due to not administering a sufficiently large amount of raw damage within a short time. It is far more common, however (in fact I would say around 90% more) that the real reason why deaths and wipes occur is due to impatience and a lack of proper planning.

I was in a failed level 70 Ahn'Qiraj pug on my server yesterday. We did not get past the first boss, the Prophet Skeram. The raid leader simply led the entire group into the instance, and proceeded to simply charge Skeram three times. Each attempt was largely identical. After the third failure, the raid group promptly fell apart.

I did not know anything about the strategy for that encounter, and I have also had it stressed to me on numerous occasions in the forum that the most important behaviour in a raid is simply to maintain an attitude of quiet humility, and wait for orders. This, then, is largely what I tried to do, however I did internally reflect, even at the time, that if I had had a more influential position in the raid heirarchy, I think I would have tried to emphasise a lot more prudence and co-ordination.

If you find yourself rushing, stop.

Try, for just a moment, to forget about the idea that you've probably only got an hour or two at a time to play, before you have to go to work, or to church, or to buy food, or to mind your children.

Breathe. Study the environment.

Whereabouts in the game are you?

Look at tracking; study the layout of the mobs, in relation to the terrain. Is there a single one you can perform a low threat pull with, and avoid alerting any of the others?

What abilities are you going to use here; a higher powered rotation, or lower?

Survival as a spec, and Hunters in general, actually have a lot of different weapons at our disposal, but to me the single most powerful of all of them is one which very few people seem to think of.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Anzac Day

(Disclaimer:- I make some statements in this post which are critical of the contemporary American government. I know several of the people who read this will be Americans, and I highly value and appreciate your continued friendship, so I ask you to please understand that this criticism is not levelled at you personally. I understand that as regular citizens of America, your current government causes you almost as much suffering domestically as it does other people internationally.

This is also a long post. I talk about a lot of things, but mainly what being Australian means to me individually; probably engage in some rambling, here and there, and only briefly touch on anything related to WoW directly. I think this post is a form of therapy; there are some things here which, looking at it now, I've needed to bring up and admit to for a while. I'm digging up some skeletons here, and in the process, expressing that some things have bothered me which the sociopathic element of WoW's community would tell me are inconsequential, and that I should simply get over. There'll probably be stuff here that some people won't like, and that I'll get verbally trashed for; some of that criticism will probably hurt, as it often does. I've learned however that online, that goes with the territory, so I don't fear it.

Of course, in my own head, WoW and everything else that I am are both completely connected, but if you don't want to know more about how I think outside of this game, but which ultimately links back and connects with how I think inside it, feel free to skip this post.)


I'm an Australian.

It's not something I consciously acknowledge often, truthfully. Part of the reason why is because of a dissatisfaction with how most of my countrymen behave online, and with what the country has become, in many ways. Partly also because, at least to a degree, reincarnation is a conscious reality for me, and in the context of that belief, Australia is somewhere I'm visiting at the moment, but it's not where I'm from.

You see, I'm only just old enough to dimly remember the end of a time when Australia had some kind of genuine cultural/ethnic uniqueness of its' own. We truly don't now; not any more. People quote pieces of slang and other stupid things, but in terms of the way most of us think, we're simply trying nationally to be a clone of America with as much effort as we can muster.

I've taken the time to read about at least some of the founders of America. They weren't perfect; in fact some of them were deeply flawed, in a few respects, and it's important to acknowledge that. However, in terms of their intentions, they were also sincere, I believe, and they were gifted with a degree of lucidity that is not often present within human beings.

Their only real desire was for their country to be the author of its' own destiny, and for every other country to be able to do the same. John Quincy Adams, an early American President, once said in a speech to the American House of Representatives that America did not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. I do not believe that America's founders would countenance the degree of interference which America's current rulers engage in with regard to the governing of Australia.

There are a lot of people who want to see Australia become a Republic; to cease being a member of the British Commonwealth, the remnant of that empire, and to become our own country. I personally do not advocate that, and the reason why I do not is this:-

Currently Australia acknowledges England largely in theory, but to a comparitive degree, at least where England is concerned, is its' own country largely in practice. If we become a Republic, we will be our own country in theory, but the 51st state of America in practice. We will have a ruler with the title of President, and our system of government will surely be based largely on that of America. We will be compelled, through various means (as to a large extent we already are now) to participate in the American government's unjustifiable wars of aggression, both present and future.

Australia will be purchased to exactly the same degree that both Alaska and Louisiana have been, but it will happen informally and silently. We will be permitted to carry the name and the illusion only of being our own country; it will make governing us by proxy that much easier.

Some Australians make an annual pilgrimage to Gallipoli, on the coast of Turkey, now. I've asked myself how I feel about that.

Truthfully, the entire concept of militarism more or less in general is one that I have probably a lot more psychological baggage about than I should. My grandfather was an Allied bomber pilot during World War 2, and my father and pretty much everyone on his side of the family worshipped the ground my grandfather walked on. Some of his war stories are still talked about to some degree today.

Physically I'm about as civilian as it gets. I've always been overweight, with various other problems, and had a kidney removed at 13; I'd fail a physical even before it began. Psychologically, I'm even further away; in some areas I'm a complete wimp, and in others there's that case of what Ippon calls "snowflake syndrome," to the point where I can't have virtually anything to do with the rest of the human race offline, (including a girlfriend or half of my extended family) or even conform in WoW to the degree that I should.

Although it wasn't constant, to some degree the earlier years of my life were coloured by the occasional background implication from my father (and a cousin on that side of the family who went through the Australian Cadets and ended up studying a form of martial arts) of Patton's stated belief; that war is the only genuinely meaningful, significant, or consequential form of human activity, and that as an extension of that, being a civilian meant being someone who not only was very much a second class citizen, but it also meant being someone who existed in violation of the Darwinian principle on a daily basis, for the entirety of said civilian's life.

There was also something that happened fairly early on during my year of kindergarten, which was the beginning of when I was starting to interact with human society in a greater sense. I had someone drive my face into a steel washbasin, permanently dislodging a couple of my front teeth.

I'm not going to try and claim that that, in itself, was necessarily terribly bad, or that other people haven't experienced worse things. Of course they have. "So what?" I can hear people like Ippon saying. "Cry me a fucking river. GTF over it, scrub. How pathetic are you?"

The point though wasn't the event itself. The point, I think, was what it (and a number of other similar, subsequent events which have occurred repeatedly more or less whenever I have tried to integrate socially throughout the course of my entire life) communicated to me psychologically.

That I was weak, but that others were strong; that strength was respected, while weakness was unacceptable; that my grandfather was very strong, and that was why people respected him; that due to my issues, although I could physically improve myself incrementally, I would always be weak and autistic; and most of all, that because I would not (and to some extent because of my physical issues, literally could not) willingly allow myself to be subjugated by a society that I have always seen as being inherently dysfunctional and broken, that said society would literally kill me if it could.

I'm not writing about this because I want to wallow in it. I'm writing about this because I want to resolve it, and get past it.

I admit that part of me at least, has spent my entire life trying to compensate for the fact that I'm not my grandfather; I'm someone else.

I admit that soldier wannabeism is one of the main reasons why I play World of Warcraft; that running instances or Warsong Gulch is, as chronically and unutterably pathetic as this is, the closest I will ever get experentially to being part of a military unit.

I admit that part of me at times loves the idea of killing and even terrorising the Alliance in-game; at times I cuss people out, swear at them and verbally treat them as badly as anyone else does in the game. At times I enjoy that, as well.

I admit that the reason why I live online is because the offline world is No Man's Land to me, in the sense that a couple of times I literally have nearly been killed when trying to interact with it, and also due to the number of people close to me who've died because they were killed by it in one way or another. So yeah, I'm a coward.

I admit that the real reason why I've never got anywhere occupationally is partly because I see the offline world as such a threat, and also partly because, due to that, even as a child I was never able to focus on more than keeping myself physically breathing and psychologically sane for another single 24 hour block.

I admit that all of the above is only one half of me; a vestigial part that I'm trying to move beyond. I admit that although I still must offline, online I'm not going to follow the advice of Yurch or the offline survivalist philosophy of keeping a low profile. I write this blog because yes, I am an attention seeker. I want attention; I want to communicate and interact with others, and I feel that this and WoW are the only truly safe ways I can do that, at least for now. I want to try and take some tentative steps offline again soon at some point; I'm going to hope that this time I won't get slapped down again for doing so like I have been in the past.

Part of me is trying to see, ever so slowly, that there's something a lot more important than mere survival, and that's actually living, and that if I don't do that, physically surviving isn't much point.

Part of me is exhausted by and wants to stop being attracted to women like my ex-girlfriend, the Sarah Connor type; and instead find some nice, quiet, meek, totally unchallenging woman who I can have quiet, meek, clean, uncomplicated missionary sex with periodically. ;-)

Part of me craves and needs for war to be over. Everywhere, universally, and for all time. I don't want people to be killed in Iraq, or Afghanistan, South Africa, Bosnia, or anywhere else, ever ever again. There are times when it causes me physical pain to see how people treat each other verbally in the forum or in-game, and yet I know that this is nothing at all compared to how monstrously people are treating each other offline, every hour of every day.

One of the primary stereotypical associations of Hinduism is the suggestion to, as Lennon put it, give peace a chance. We need to do more than give it a chance; we need to make it a predominant element of how we live.

That's what the people buried at Gallipoli are saying to me, though. They're saying that the reason why they want anyone to remember them, is not so much because of what they actually did, but because they're hoping that the memory itself will cause us to ensure that what happened to them doesn't happen again.

If we really want to honour them, it isn't enough to remember them. We need to actually stop sending people to join them, and that especially means ending particularly dumb, pointless conflicts like the one in Iraq. War is something humanity needs to outgrow. If it doesn't stop, eventually all of us will be destroyed by it.

That's actually something Sun Tzu wrote about, as well.

Hunter success in the Arena

One of the things that there is always a steady background noise of crying about in the Hunter forum, is the Hunter's degree of representation in the Arena. Ordinarily this is a topic that I would not comment on, due to the fact that most would consider me unqualified to comment on it. I do not play in the Arena, and it is not, generally speaking, my area of focus.

However, a thread in the forum that came up just a few minutes ago caused me to think about it.

Bandet made Gladiator in season 2 because he understands what our class is for. Most people do not, and sadly that includes the majority of Hunters. Although they certainly are not the majority, the very fact that Hunters like Bandet exist proves conclusively that it can be done; but it requires a degree of intimacy with the class and its' real function which most do not have.

The Hunter is not, truthfully, primarily a DPS class; as Bandet writes, we're tactical co-ordination (fight control) and support. The only real reason why so much confusion has developed surrounding that issue is because of the fact that in this game, we have traditionally virtually never been allowed to serve in that role, even though it genuinely is what we're really for.

Because of that, we have to fall back on pure DPS in order to convince people we're not entirely redundant and worthless.

However, stop and think for a minute. What's the very last skill we get, at level 70?

Misdirection. What does that talent do?

It epitomises the role of this class.

Every single class/spec combination in this game has to be able to do some damage; from Holy Priests onward. Also, as BRK says, BM is a damage tree, obviously.

Think, however, about what Misdirection does. It assists in controlling the flow of a fight. It determines which character in a group becomes the focus of a mob's attention. In other words, how the fight is conducted.

Then start looking at some of our other abilities. Traps, Feign Death, Disengage, Distracting Shot. What do all these abilities do?

They're not about doing damage directly, at all. They're about choreography. Sequencing. Deciding what happens when.

Do I fight this mob directly myself, or do I Feign or Misdirect (two different ways of accomplishing the same thing) and pass it to someone else in the group?

Once I've set the kill order for this next pull in an instance, am I going to use CC to enforce said kill order, and make sure the other mobs can't hurt us while the one I've chosen to be the first is killed, possibly even with someone else doing the killing?

In AB earlier, I was being attacked by two different classes, a Warrior and a Priest. I often can't kill a Warrior myself, and I certainly can't alone; so I froze the Warrior, and killed the Priest, which thus bought me time until a friendly Druid arrived and healed me until I eventually kited the Warrior to death.

Other people often do more damage. We decide who lives and who dies.

There are often times in battlegrounds where I will have a higher number of kills (and killing blows) than some others, yet they will have a higher overall amount of damage done.

Read the Sun Tzu quote on my sidebar again, and think about that paradox.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Hunting Lodge added to my blogroll

Hey guys,
I've just added Brigwyn's site, The Hunting Lodge, to my blogroll.

Brig is an extremely positive and enthusiastic individual. As well as playing a Marks Hunter himself, he is attempting to create a spec agnostic site for the Hunter community as a whole. It's definitely worth checking out, as he is hoping to have writings there from a number of different individuals, including myself.

And yes, as Brig observed at the end of my recent MSN conversation with him, I am, indeed back in the game. ;-)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Going back to Warsong Gulch

So in my quest to figure out how to keep moving my gear up to acceptable levels, I caught the tail end of the Warsong Gulch weekend yesterday.

I was gratified to find that, despite the Arena crowd's best attempts on the forum to persuade Blizzard to destroy it, the old game is still almost entirely intact.

I was also reminded of something that Pike wrote about the endgame, which is that working with other people means exactly that, work, whether you go the PvE or PvP route.

In Warsong Gulch, the reason for that is simple. If you want to win a match, one person (three at the most) has to provide constant motivation and co-ordination for the other seven-nine. As much as I hate this myself, I've never seen anything where the leader/follower paradigm is more starkly illustrated than WSG. If someone doesn't take control of what is happening, the rest of the team mills around, aimlessly farming kills out the front of the Alliance base, there is no defense, and matches are consistently lost.

Yesterday, I found that if I simply tried to swim with the tide and passively farm kills, I'd be in maybe one game in 20 where the Horde actually won. The downside of that is, that even if I was getting kills, I'd still be lucky to get more than 200 honour per game. This was slow, and boring to the point that while doing it, I felt my eyes slowly beginning to glaze over.

Once I got sick of that, went on defense, and more or less decided to take control of things, I started being in winning games very consistently.

The downside there, however, is that I've also actually had left hemisphere chest pain since yesterday as a result, and I remember that I used to get that when playing Warsong Gulch in the lower brackets as well. It can be stressful if I do get driven about winning, especially because in the beginning at least, literally nobody else cares.

I've had some interesting games in there before. The Alliance can pull out every trick in the book; premades, twinks, specific group configurations. None of those will ultimately save them, as long as strategically we remember two things:-

a) Keeping my flag out of their hands is actually more important than keeping theirs in mine. Getting their flag isn't the hard part; the killfarmers in midfield tend to be good at ensuring that an Alliance base is empty, most of the time. The truly gruelling element of this game is grinding down an Alliance flagrunner en route to their base. Once they get the flag back and become entrenched in the rear part of their base, the odds of us making a successful capture drop exponentially, even if we still have their flag.

b) The other truly difficult thing about playing this game with a Horde team in particular is remembering that simply mindlessly slaughtering the Alliance, as thoroughly enjoyable as that might be, will not win a match in this battleground and in fact will help to lose it. This goes back to what I've written about Survival as a spec before, when I've said that in both PvE and PvP, the simple application of damage in and of itself is nowhere near as important as where and how it is applied.

With apologies to Pike, in my two years of playing this game, the Alliance have consistently displayed genuinely enormous cowardice, and I've observed this even when playing in Warsong Gulch on the Alliance side of the fence.

For the most part, Aedalas Blackmoore truly is the volksgeist (German; literally "people's spirit") of the faction, and I honestly believe that this, more than any other reason, is why they have a reputation for faring so much more poorly than the Horde where PvP is concerned. I don't believe the Horde always does have better racials; we also certainly don't always have better numbers. In both lore and game terms, however, what we do have, putting it quite simply, is more guts.

However, in this case, the Alliance's timidity actually serves them. A Horde team will leave their flagroom at the start of a match and typically have nothing greater in mind than simply inflicting as much misery on the Alliance as possible. The Alliance, for their part, are not focused purely on slaughtering us to the same degree, and so can therefore think about other things, such as protecting their flag, capturing ours, and actually winning a match.

The Horde team therefore needs reminding constantly that simply killing the Alliance isn't what we're there to do; if we defend our flag, capture theirs, and win the match, we get a lot more points than for pure killfarming alone. Getting this across is hard, but I found that if I was in groups with the same people repeatedly, even with pugging, we gradually fell into a pattern which allowed us to win more or less every time, once said pattern had been established.

The item I was able to get from yesterday's games though was this, which I socketed with a Rigid Dawnstone, as well as getting one other Rigid Dawnstone for one of my other items. I did this so that when I also get these, gem them purely for Agility, and keep my current hit rating constant.

I'm not too worried if I don't get hit capped, but I do want to try and be above 5% if possible. The other benefit of some of the PvP gear is that it will mean that my stats become somewhat more balanced, although I still want to maintain an emphasis on Agility.

Efri asked me not long ago, why I would bother gearing up if I wasn't intending on doing anything higher end in the game. Although going to the Arcatraz yesterday meant I'm now a step closer to getting keyed for Karazhan, my answer is that I still care about doing well, even if it is via PvP or other things. My only real reasons for not wanting to raid are almost entirely social; if I can overcome those, I will have no issue with doing it.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Something for Rilgon and Pike

Hey guys,
This isn't WoW-related as such, but it's something I wanted to offer to any Linux or UNIX users who might read this; Rilgon and Pike primarily, but anyone else who's interested.

Although I don't use Linux myself now really, back when I did, for a while I was working on a Linux-specific version of the FreeBSD ports system. (A source-based software installer; actually the one which Gentoo's portage was originally based on, for those of you who know about that)

It's very closely related; moreso than Gentoo's system, actually, which from what little I saw was bash based. My own core makefile is more or less a simplified version of the original, and also uses NetBSD's version of Make as well. I was in the process of fairly substantially restructuring it when I more or less completely abandoned it, largely because the few people who knew about it told me that the software installation problem had been well and truly solved, and all I was really doing was wasting time.

I have no idea whether or not anyone reading this could have any use for it, but even though I don't work on Linux at all myself now as I said, I put a fair bit of work into this at one point, so it'd be good if someone could get some sort of use out of it.

The code is here:-

It's very rough; you'll need to pull it out of CVS directly as I never actually made a tarball for it, but it is thoroughly documented, both in a readme and in the code itself. There are also working targets for fetch, (download) configure, make, and make install. I never got checksum working, but it shouldn't be hard to do. I had a very experimental target for binary packaging in the works, but never got that to successfully function, either.

Of perhaps slightly more interest to Pike might be the fact that although they're unfinished, I also started producing Makefiles for the phase one packages from the Linux From Scratch project; so Pike, if you ever wanted to make a completely custom system, you'd have the basis at least for a means of compiling it.

I hope someone is perhaps able to find it useful.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Thoughts on 2.4.

For a while I'd hopped on the "WoW is dying," bandwagon, especially considering the recent Hunter exodus.

On the other hand though, I just spent probably the most enjoyable four hours in-game that I have for a while.

I went and had a look at the PvP armor vendors in Orgrimmar. I've got my eye on the S1 shoulders at the moment, since they can be had by doing battlegrounds, and I'll admit I don't like the Arena very much. I think they're about 12,000 honour points, and I've got about 6,000 at the moment, so it will be a little while before I can get them, still.

They have sockets on them from memory though, as well as a nice amount of base Agility; and I've wanted better shoulders for a while. The Mag'har ones are reasonable but I'd like some with higher Ag.

So after finding out about that, I went into Warsong Gulch, and was happy to find that that game is still largely intact. The individual games are a bit shorter, yes, and the honour bonuses have gone down quite radically accordingly since I was there last, but I still had fun.

I then went to Quel'danas and did one of the bombing run dailies in the Dead Scar, as well as a few others. I'd remembered the bombing runs from Hellfire Peninsula, and I'd enjoyed those, so that was good.

I think the single main thing that I actually very much like about 2.4 is the amount of choice I feel as though I've got. There's no single path forward that I have to follow; I can decide what I want to do or what's important to me.

If I want to do the Arena, I can, but I don't have to.
If I want PvP, but don't like the Arena, I can still play Warsong Gulch.
If I want to do 5 mans, I can, but I don't have to.
If I want to farm primals, I can, but I don't have to.
If I don't feel like grouping, I can go and solo either the Plaguelands instances or the earlier Hellfire ones.
If I want some money but don't have much time, I can go and do three daily quests and get 30-40 gold in probably half an hour or less; it only took me a bit longer because the island is still unfamiliar to me.

I also have a massive number of different sources for gear now, as well. As well as the instances, there's raid gear, quest rewards, rep rewards, PvP gear, world drops, and crafted stuff. So I don't have to feel as though raiding or the Arena is my only way forward for good gear. I can go and run Strat or Scholo, or do dailies, save up 500 or so gold, buy the materials, and then get very nice items like this, which I'm also working towards as well.

Yet another goal of mine in-game is to finish getting my Argent Dawn rep; they sometimes have weekend Naxxramas pugs on my server, and I very much want to do one of those before WotLK comes out. Apparently Ahn'Qiraj is open on my server, as well; so I could check that out as well if there are pugs going for it.

I think that's actually why although I still do want to do some raiding if I can, I'd like to do the older instances partly because they don't "matter," in a competitive sense, so there'd be less pressure, and none of the usual viciousness. Just fun.

There are two minor points, however that I'm a bit worried about. One being the overinflation of my server's economy because of the new dailies, and the other being that after doing the dailies this morning, I definitely think the mana regen issue is real. I did seem to be drinking a lot more than usual.

However, both of these have solutions. The overinflation problem could be remedied perhaps by the idea that getting rare items to put on the Auction House is a novel experience in itself, in terms of running Scholo for runecloth, as one example.

If we ended up with a scenario where, rather than just doing dailies, different people made money from the AH via their particular area of interest within the game, we could possibly still have a scenario where the AH had a good supply of useful and less common items for reasonable prices.

The mana regen issue I think can be worked around by using some slightly more novel rotations, which incorporate trapping perhaps, as I've already outlined. I'm also finding though that my mana problems aren't crippling; just a little more severe than before.

I could see WoW developing a much more laid back type of feel; everyone doing exactly what they want to do in the game, and not having to interact with anyone who is unhappy because they're doing something they don't want to in order to move forward. It could actually be a very good thing.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Using Immolation Trap for Levelling/Farming

(This page is still under construction for 3.0. Some of what is here currently is old info)

"Indirect tactics, efficiently applied,
Are inexhaustible as Heaven and Earth,
Unending as the flow of rivers and streams;
Like the sun and moon, they end but to begin anew;
Like the four seasons, they pass away to return once more."

-- Book 5, Verse 6, The Art of War

I've mentioned that I use an Immolation Trap/Serpent Sting/Auto shot combination for farming or levelling with lower alts before, rather than more conventionally using Arcane Shot, but seeing as numbers apparently speak most compellingly with some people, I'm going to try and use some in support of the practice here.

I will use two examples, one at level 26, and one at level 70, in order to demonstrate how the mana efficiency scales.

@ Level 26, Immolation Trap Rank 2 does [RAP * 0.1 + 215] damage for 90 mana.

@ Level 26, Serpent Sting Rank 4 does [RAP * 0.1 + 140] for 80 mana.

We'll assume a base RAP of around 120, as it's very possible to get 100 Agility at 20, if you know about the right gear. That's 367 damage ( +10% of whatever your RAP is) over 15 sec for 170 mana. This means that with 2/2 Clever Traps, you are getting a damage:mana ratio of more than 2:1.

Assuming that as well as using Serpent (80 mana) you fire Arcane twice (2 x 50 mana) in the course of a single mob, you're spending an even 180 mana. (Not an unreasonable assumption; even at level 26, it only does [RAP 0.15 +36] damage)

That means that with Immolation Trap, you're still 10 mana in front of Arcane even without Clever Traps, and with Clever Traps possibly even more since against a higher health mob, you'd possibly need to fire Arcane again for another 50 mana expenditure. As I will demonstrate, this gap scales much higher at 70, and with additional talents.

@ Level 70, Serpent Sting Rank 9 does [RAP * 0.1 + 555] damage, for 250 mana.

Using a conservative example of 1500 RAP, that gives us 555 + 150 = 705 damage. Then if we add Improved Stings, we get another 30% for 211. So our final number for Serpent alone is 916 damage over 15 seconds, at a cost of 250 mana. If you've got 5/5 Efficiency as well, that goes down to 235.

@ Level 70, Immolation Trap Rank 6 does [RAP * 0.1 + 985] Fire damage over 15 sec, at a base cost of 305 mana. Again using our estimate of 1500 RAP, this gives us 985 + 150 = 1,135 base damage. With that, 2/2 Clever Traps gives us 1,135 + 340 = 1,475. With 3/3 Resourcefulness as well, that then becomes 1,475 damage over 15 sec at a cost of 122 mana.

So that means that with a spec like this, you're doing a total of 2,391 damage, at a cost of 357 mana. To put that in perspective, that's less than the cost of four Steady Shots, (about what you'd need to kill a level 70 mob at a 1:1 rotation with Beast Mastery) or two Arcane Shots, and the total damage would be about three times that of either of those seperately.

That also isn't even talking about the threat issue. DoTs do damage per tick on an even basis, whereas crits can cause relative spikes, even at low levels. That means that with Growl being less effective now, it's even more important to cause threat to ramp up gradually, rather than via spikes. If your threat rises via a gentle curve, it's much more possible for your pet to regain threat from a mob even if you manage to pull it yourself.

Obviously this information isn't relevant for raiding or group instances at the same level; but for per-mob farming, it will give you greater mana efficiency and continual uptime than any other spec I know of, including Beast Mastery with a 1:1 rotation.

Disengage isn't useless


Periodically I see threads come up which list skills that the OP considers redundant or useless, and invariably, Disengage is on that list.

However, since starting to do the Plaguelands instances at least, I've started using it, and a couple of times it's actually been a lifesaver.

The key is how I use it. If I use it as a standalone ability instead of Feign Death, it doesn't do much. Where it is effective though is if I'm fighting a mob in relatively close quarters, Feign resists, and then I immediately hit Disengage after that.

Aggro will get passed to my pet, and I can then jump back, use a macro to apply Serpent without starting Auto again so I give the pet time to rebuild aggro a bit, refresh Mend Pet if needed, and drink a healing pot to bring myself back from the edge.

So I don't think of it as a standalone skill; it works if used in a two-step sequence, after Feign Death if that resists.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Instance food

This is something I've sometimes made to eat during instances. I have no idea what else to call it, so that name works, I figure. These measurements are metric, and I don't know what they translate into in American terms, unfortunately; but you might be able to find out somehow. If someone else can help me with a name, be my guest.


(The cans are precise measurements; I don't give measurements for the spices other than the garlic because I normally measure those visually. I'll explain how in a bit)

1x 410g can of mackerel. (fish)
1x 410g can of asparagus cuts and tips.
1x 410g can of chopped champignons OR
400-500g fresh chopped mushrooms.
1x 410g can of precooked potato salad, with mayonnaise.
3 teaspoons olive oil.
Hot paprika.
2 teaspoons minced garlic. (Equal to 2 cloves)
Mild paprika. (Get the smoked stuff if you can)

McKormick's Season-All Salt.
( - the celery seeds in this stuff are awesome)

Masterfoods Italian Herbs (not American I don't think, so if you can't get it, just combine trace amounts of Marjoram, Basil, Red Bell Peppers, Rosemary, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme)

Sweet Basil. (Masterfoods changed their blend to have less basil a bit back I think, so I put a bit more in because I like it; this is totally up to you)


1. Drain mackerel thoroughly and empty it into a large bowl. (Probably a 1.5-2 litre mixing bowl would be safe, if you've got something that size)

2. Dust hot paprika finely over the mackerel pieces. This is an individual thing. I want enough so that you're aware of the taste of it in the end, but not so much that it's choking me.

3. Add the minced garlic and olive oil to the mackerel, and with a fork, mash the mackerel and minced garlic up. I want to get rid of any large pieces, so that it is all a consistent size and holds together. The olive oil is a balancing act. I want enough so that the fish is just moist and holds together, but not so much that the finished product is swimming in oil.

4. Drain the canned asparagus as thoroughly as you can, and add it on top of the mashed mackerel. Smooth it out with the fork so it covers the mackerel evenly.

5. Sprinkle mild paprika over the asparagus layer. I want enough to that the asparagus is very lightly but evenly covered, but not enough that the covering is thick at all; it needs to be very thin and even.

6. Sprinkle Season-All Salt over the mild paprika. Again, make sure it's light, but even.

7. Sprinkle Italian Herbs/Basil over the Season-All Salt. Again, make sure it's light, but even.

8. Drain champignons thoroughly, and add either them or your mushrooms (whichever you've got) on top of the asparagus.

9. Add potato salad on top of the mushrooms/champignons. Again, layer these out evenly.

10. Take a spoon, and plunge it to the bottom of the bowl. Lift up so that the mackerel from the bottom of the bowl is brought to the top, over the potato salad. Repeat this until all of the layers (mackerel, asparagus, mushrooms, potato salad) are thoroughly mixed, but do not do it so much that the ingredients become pulverized. I like the mixture to retain a chunky consistency.

11. Measure out into two or three equal sized bowls (depending on how hungry you are and who else is around) and eat. It won't store in the fridge for much more than 24 hours; fish doesn't keep well. I usually just eat it cold, but you could probably microwave it as well. Keep a bowl of it within aggro radius by the computer with a spoon stuck in it, and grab a mouthful while your character is drinking between mob pulls. ;-)

This might end up looking somewhat disgusting visually, but it's very substantial, and one of the most nutritionally dense types of food that I know of.

Olive oil and garlic are both unbelievably good for you; if I'm starting to get a cold, I'll have a large bowl of this, and then I won't end up getting sick, because as well as the garlic being an antibiotic, I'm getting nutrients from the vegetables and mackerel as well.

It would also work well as a hangover cure, because as well as the oil helping to clean up the alcohol, garlic will help your immune system to recover after the drinking, and asparagus is both a kidney tonic and a laxative.

Monday, April 14, 2008

So I guess I won't raid

I'm in the forum this morning, writing to people as usual. I'm also hearing the ever-present background chant of, "Spec BM or GTFO," although it's perhaps a little more sleepy and subdued than normal.

I'm at the point with that now, that I've been at whenever I've been confronted with anything else similar in my life. Where I basically feel as though I'm being demanded to do something I will dislike doing, (in this case, spec BM) in order to supposedly get ahead.

Ippon said I'll never be in an accomplished guild. Fine. I won't. I've realised that for myself, it really isn't something that I genuinely want to do, for the most part. The only real reason why I was going to try and do it was in order to attempt to buy credibility with the other WoW players I interact with, and truthfully I've known all along that that was the wrong reason. I'd like to maybe pug AQ and some of the older raids, but I really have no interest in TBC content at all, for the most part.

For the record, though, just so that Ippon or whoever else is reading this that thinks like him, can feel truly justified and certain of themselves in their superiority, here's a few other things I'll never be, for the record.

I'll never be employed.

I'll never be earning an income of any form. If I lose the place I'm currently in, it's either my mother's, or the street.

I'll possibly never be in another relationship.

I'll never be in a scenario again where I really experience the sense of having a genetic family, whether immediate or extended, which is something I grew up with.

I can honestly list these things off however while feeling completely emotionally neutral, because here's the thing that is important to me.

The only thing that matters to me; the only thing that I truly, genuinely care about now, is not being in a scenario where (unless by choice) I am answerable to any other living person. I was forced to do that for probably 27 of my 31 years of life, and I will do it no longer. Most of the rest of you go through your entire lives, from cradle to grave, where you are ruled by any one of a number of other individuals, and you are apparently fine with it.

I, on the other hand, cannot, will not. I do not get up to an alarm clock. I do not go to bed at any time arbitrarily set by anyone else, either. I do not eat, or engage in any other form of activity whatsoever, unless it is entirely at my own whim.

Here's some other things though, that I won't be doing.

I won't be lying to, stealing from, cheating, or killing anyone (whether directly or indirectly) for economic, political, social, or professional gain.

I won't be getting sexual or other forms of diseases that generally come from interaction with other human beings, or giving those to anyone else.

I won't be consuming food, alcohol, or drugs that are actually physically detrimental to me, due to the social pressures of others, or pressuring anyone else to consume them.

I won't be buying consumer electronics that are socially, physically, and environmentally destructive.

I won't be engaging in offline social interactions of a kind that used to be extremely emotionally painful and disruptive to me and others.

I don't understand why I am the way I am, and I don't always wish for it, either. It isn't always an easy existence. Ippon, you may feel as thoroughly and as abundantly superior to me as you wish; I give you my blessing in doing so.

Because in reality, I've got what I want. It's taken my entire life to finally get it.

Howitzer's farewell thread deleted

I guess we've got confirmation now of Blizzard's priorities. Howitzer's thread saying goodbye to people has been deleted.

It wasn't a troll. He barely even stated his reasons for going. He merely said goodbye. There was no possible reason for its' deletion other than that Blizzard do not want any kind of coherent fellowship among players of this game. They don't care about positive social interaction, or trying to foster it. They simply want to take our money.

With this, the recent chronic instability of the (particularly Oceanic) realms, and the implementation of the Arena Tournament servers, the repetition of Chilton's endgame from Ultima Online is now laid bare.

1) Create a singular, static, "black hole" attraction within the game, with no form of progression past it. In UO's case, this was Dungeon Doom. In WoW's case, it's the Arena.

2) Force both developers and players to focus purely on this single element of the game, to the absolute exclusion of all others. Because of the new Sunwell dailies, this is starting to happen. Trade in the game is grinding to a halt. Overinflation in the currency is rampant. Participation in 5 man PvE is at an all time low, and raiding is becoming exceptionally difficult due to the degree of instability on the non-AT servers. Eventually, all roads within the game will lead back to a single destination; the Arena.

3) Wreck it and run. Milk as much money as possible from the game before the black hole sucks in and destroys every other element of the game, the final few stragglers of the playerbase leave, and the whole thing crashes and burns. We're already seeing this with the dedicated AT servers, which cost additional money to play over and above the conventional monthly subscription.

The instability of the conventional servers is something I've already mentioned, and I honestly wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are being deliberately sabotaged in order to try and force people to use the AT servers instead.

If it isn't deliberate, it still hints at truly gross incompetence. The stability of World of Warcraft's servers has never been what I'd call bulletproof, but the problems that have plagued the game since 2.4 are worse than I've seen them at any other time while playing this game.

Why is Blizzard doing this?

It's because the majority of the game's initial development team left shortly before the release of the Burning Crusade. Wrath of the Lich King is going to be a dog, because the company barely has an art production team left. They are thus unable to produce further PvE content.

If they're going to continue to make money from the game, therefore, they need something entirely static; a mousewheel that doesn't go anywhere. That is exactly what Chilton has given them, with the Arena.

This also confirms what I have suspected for some time now.

Tom Chilton is the MMORPG industry's answer to Jack Kevorkian. The man desperately needs to be banned from the industry, by international law if possible. ;-)

World of Warcraft is going to be the second game which this individual will have been responsible for destroying. Someone needs to make sure he isn't able to do it to a third.

EDIT:- More proof the divergence between pre- and post-TBC WoW can be found here:-

By comparing these two lists of names, you will discover that these two products were made by two almost entirely different groups of people. In the original list, Jeff Kaplan's name is another that is nowhere to be found, yet he and Tom Chilton are both listed as Lead Developers for TBC.

My conclusion is that WoW pre- and post-TBC are two almost entirely different games, with the latter having radically different goals to the former.

I stay because, in truth, I want to play WoW. However unfortunately, TBC is the only thing left in its' place.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I've developed a shadow

I've noticed that on about the last half dozen or so posts that I've made, someone has been consistently giving them one star ratings.

I'm guessing this is being done by one of the trolls from the Hunter forum who have followed me here. For some reason my money is on Twotonfun; it resembles the pattern of persistent trolling he engages in on the forum.

Twoton, if it is you, please do get a life, and stop it. If you don't, I may have to disable the rating feature.

Also, for any of the trolls from the forum who might be getting the idea that you can persistently dog me here to the same degree that you have there occasionally; realise that this blog is very different. I can ban IP addresses or even entire IP blocks from commenting here if need be, so please do not labour under the illusion that your attacking of me here will share the same degree of success that it might have on the forum.

Thank you, and I apologise to my regular, more intelligent readers for having to expose you to that unpleasantness. I will now return to a more positive form of posting.

I'm airborne

It took an embarassingly long time for it to happen, but I finally have a basic flyer. The recent inflation spike due to the new Sunwell dailies is really helping me make money. Because of those dailies, nobody wants to farm any more, so primal prices are currently close to double what they were previously on my server. I intend to take full advantage of this. ;-)

I also want to thank Efri for her info on farming locations, and also ironically Ippon, who has actually provided me with motivation. I need to prove to myself, if nobody else, that he is wrong about me.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why I'm not having bug blues

(This post is likely to get me flamed. The methods I'm talking about using here aren't necessarily going to be for everyone; I'm not like the robots in the forums who suggest that if you don't do everything their way, you're a fundamental failure as a human being. What I am saying though is, try might like it. ;-))

There have been a lot of threads posted on the forums recently about mana regeneration issues, reduction of threat generation from pets, and also autoshot getting frozen when using Kill Command.

I admit, I haven't really been affected by any of these issues. I can explain why.

The first thing is, I generally don't use Kill Command outside groups. I certainly wouldn't use it for farming, since I tend to want the mana for other things. So the bug associated with it hasn't affected me.

For the threat and mana issues, I will outline my usual rotation/attack sequence when soloing/farming.

For Single Targets:-

1. Apply Hunter's Mark.

2. Drop an Immolation Trap at roughly 15 yards from the target, if you can measure it. The addon Nudge is invaluable for this. This also becomes partly intuitive with experience.

3. Use Arcane Shot (Rank 1) as an initial low threat pull shot.

4. Apply Mend Pet pre-emptively if necessary, so it is active while the pet engages the target.

5. Time sending the pet so that it reaches the mob when the mob reaches the Immolation Trap. Ideally this macro can be used to combine both Applying Hunter's Mark and sending the pet at once.

6. Move backwards to re-establish maximum range.

7. Apply Serpent Sting.

8. Commence fire with Auto Shot until the target is dead.

This was tested recently by Efri while levelling his new Hunter on my server. He reported substantially greater mana efficiency than when he was using Serpent Sting and Arcane Shot without trapping.

The other benefit of this attack sequence is that for some reason, I have noticed that even if Omen records me as having the same level of threat with a mob as my pet, the mob will still stay with my pet in many cases if I am only using Auto Shot, whereas firing Arcane Shot will pull it instantly. There can sometimes (not always) be an initial burst of threat due to Serpent and Immolation Trap initially ticking simultaneously, but if that happens, Feign and auto shot afterwards will ensure the mob stays with your pet.

Also, you can put Disengage back on your action bars somewhere. Disengage does not clear threat to the degree that Feign does, but it will reduce your threat; and there are times where if Auto Shot is what you're using, that is enough.

There's a particular quote that is worth mentioning here;
"Match the weapon to the target."

What that means in this context is this; if you're in a raid scenario with 24-39 other people and fighting a boss who's a DPS race, then sure, by all means, spec BM and go nuts.

If however, you're farming or against single mobs, alone, you will find that it will serve you better to adopt a very different strategy. Here, you're not pressed for time, and you want to apply sufficient damage to the mob in order to kill it, without engaging in overkill.

Overkill is bad for two reasons:-
a) It wastes mana. If you get adds after the current mob that you're on, and you've gone nuts with a full 1:1.5 rotation, you've wasted mana on the current mob that could otherwise keep you alive with the adds.

b) It raises not only threat with the current mob, but also ambient threat. Ambient threat is a very real thing, but it isn't measured by meters. (Or at least not accurately)

What that means is that if you want to kill crowds of 3-4 mobs, (although more will kill you) you keep Mend Pet up, cycle Growl on the first two targets, drop a Snake Trap, and use Serpent + Auto to kill each one. Yes, it's tricky. Yes, you have to balance your aggro, your health, the pet's health, and that of the mobs. It is, however, doable. I've done it in the Scholomance.

The single most important thing to remember in such a scenario however is actually to have the discipline not to panic and use Arcane Shot to try and kill the mobs more quickly. That will actually make it far more likely that you will die, because it will pull one and possibly more of them from the boar onto you, resulting in your very rapid death.

As I said to Brigwyn on MSN, there have been two occasions recently where I successfully finished a five mob fight in the Scholomance with less than 400 health and mana. To the naked eye my bars were empty; I had to actually mouse over them to see what the values were. It's a technique I've started calling air walking; because in a way, that's what it is.

The recent threat/mana nerfs are actually going to mean, more than anything else, that more Hunters might have to learn to do something that I've already been doing for a while, now.

You'll have to start riding the rapids.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Enough doom and gloom

Ok, the internal black cloud has cleared and I'm back to feeling more positive.

I've already mentioned Efri in a few other posts. I've been spending time with him on Thaurissan, which has actually been some of the most enjoyable time I've spent in this game for a while...he's a great guy, and knows a lot about the auction house, and the game in general.

I've also had some fairly in depth communication recently with Rilgon, as well, who is one of the most intelligent people I've met in connection with this game. I was very glad, as I said earlier, to learn that he has stayed Marks, as well.

Trackhoof, can I ask; have you decided whether you're coming back or not yet?

The State of World of Warcraft

I've been reading the Hunter, Shaman, and General forums tonight...and also over the last several days; As people here know, I've been reading the Hunter and General for a while before that.

When I think about the condition of this game at the moment, though, and everything that's been happening recently...I've found a particular song starting to run through my head. The lyrics, on reflection, are uncannily appropriate; some are bolded for emphasis.

Through early morning fog I see
visions of the things to be
the pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see...


Suicide is painless,
It brings on many changes,
and I can take or leave it if I please.
I try to find a way to make
all our little joys relate
without that ever-present hate
but now I know that it's too late, and...


The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.


The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I'm beat
and to another give my seat
for that's the only painless feat.


The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn't hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows it grin, but...


A brave man once requested me
to answer questions that are key
is it to be or not to be
and I replied 'oh why ask me?'


'Cause suicide is painless
it brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.
...and you can do the same thing if you please.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Howitzer has left

As Rilgon notes on his own blog, Howitzer today announced his departure in the Hunter forum.

I admit Howitzer wasn't someone I knew a lot about; but he apparently contributed a very great deal of information to starting Hunters. He was also playing WoW from almost the very beginning; December 2003, and the closed beta. He would doubtless have some memories of Survival in its' earliest form, even if it was not his own spec at the time.

I am trying to tell myself that the end is as much a part of things as the beginning; to remember that as Kali weaves substance from the formlessness of the void, so it eventually must return there. However, in some cases remembering that does not necessarily ease my pain.

Mater genuit. Mater receipt.

Mother bore me. Mother took me back.

Why I need to focus on my main.

"Of course not. You're some terrible scrub with a snowflake complex.

You're not good at the game and you'll never be in an accomplished guild so it really doesn't matter, but I'm right, and you're not."

This is why Efri is right, and I need to focus on progressing with my main. More than anything else, I need to prove people like this wrong.

Also, in case anyone is wondering why I've written previously about having problems with Rogues; this individual is a prime example of why.

I shouldn't admit this, because if the guy quoted reads this, he's the type who'll probably feel a fairly high degree of satisfaction from knowing it...but this got through, and it's stinging...mainly because in terms of my progression at least, part of me is worried he's right.

Monday, April 7, 2008

They nerfed Charge.

I'm a very unhappy Hunter today.

It's apparently official; Charge has been nerfed. Hortus is calling it a bug fix, yet I'd bet half a quiver of arrows that the bug that causes Charge to break Freezing Trap is still entirely present.

I don't usually complain about changes made, even when I privately consider them egregious, but this is an order of magnitude worse than any other nerf I've ever experienced before. This isn't (to use the popular forum expression) merely a slap in the face.

It's a kick in the stomach, Blizzard.

With my crit being the way it is, I've relied on Charge while soloing, and the amount of threat I previously got from it, to literally survive. As it stands now, I'm barreling my boar's threat bar in Omen constantly, and I can only do that if I scale my damage back to the point of it being virtually non-existent.

I wish I understood what I'm meant to do now. In the past, when nerfs came, older Hunters in the forum would tell us to be calm. "We simply need to adapt," they would say. For a long time, I've been able to do that.

Now, however, the nerfs are starting to eat into the core, basic functionality of the class. Keep this up, Blizzard, and you're going to render the Hunter unplayable.

An Invitation

As a follow on from my last post, I don't suppose I could interest any of you in making alts on Thaurissan? ;-) It's actually a very green server. Ahn'Qiraj isn't open yet, and not a lot of guilds have been to the Black Temple yet, either. The economy, consequently, is pretty much ground floor. The upside of that is that it's great for making money, but the downside is that a few other people are doing it too, which makes it expensive for me to buy things.

That may not sound like much of a promotion of the place, (*grin*) but in this case new doesn't necessarily mean low-pop, so there are still some other people we could find to play with.

I know you're probably focused on your mains, but I'd love to see some of you if you're willing to make alts on Thaur. I've spoken to Efri about maybe trying to flesh out my little guild a bit more if so, too. I originally made it purely for the guild bank, but I'm not opposed to the idea of getting some real members. Unfortunately I might have been a bit slow on the draw to recruit Trackhoof in particular, since apparently he's already found another guild. ;-)

I'm thinking of re-forming the guild in order to rename it, since I've unfortunately found that the name has given forum trolls a very convenient way of refuting me in a conversation at times, and feel very clever about doing it. Since I'd be thinking primarily of a Hunter guild, I had thought of as a name. Probably very pretentious, I know...but I've never been very good with names, unfortunately.

Anyway, I hope maybe I'll see some people who read this in game! :)

A Day on Silver Hand

I went to log into Thaurissan yesterday morning, but there was a problem of some kind preventing me from doing so.

Although I originally intended for it to only be for a few minutes, I then went and opened my Alliance character on Pike's server. Pike was there, but we only spoke very briefly, as she was in Karazhan and I didn't want to disturb her.

I ended up doing several runs within the Deadmines, which, although from the perspective of the groups, were fairly disastrous, the positive aspect was that I ended up getting probably two levels in the space of two hours; something which I wasn't able to go close to matching with a subsequent two hours of questing.

I've long suspected that instancing is the only real way to go when truly fast levelling is what I'm after; there are mobs in front of me constantly once I get inside, and I don't have to do a lot of walking around to find a specific mob type. There are also several instance based quests available for pretty much any instance, so I can couple fast grinding with quest experience as well.

I want to get to the point where I can possibly run the odd Heroic with Pike occasionally perhaps, if she is interested, and so on the few days I'm able to focus on the Silver Hand alt, I'm trying to level it as quickly as possible. At the rate Pike seems to be going, though, she's probably going to have hit the Black Temple before I get to 70 with that toon myself. ;-)

However, to Efri I also say, don't worry. I'm definitely still focused on my main on Thaurissan, and I realise I do need to narrow my focus more if I ever really want to get anywhere in this game. I was speaking to Zalmi on the forum the other day, and so I started levelling an alt to maybe play with him a bit, but I ended up deleting it. It takes so long, and if I want to finally get to some meaningful progression with my main, I need to focus on it primarily. It's just hard though because there are so many people I find myself wanting to spend time with on diff servers.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

An apology to someone

I've done something I'm not terribly proud of, which might make my last post sound like hypocrisy, although that is not the intention.

I put my MSN messenger contact address in the forum in order for Rilgon and Alumatine to be able to contact me, the other day.

However, I also was contacted by someone else; a person who identified themselves simply as Jho. We talked for a little while, but I will confess that I started to become somewhat scared, as he/she seemed intent on discovering as much personal information about me as possible, and also gave what I interpreted as a few other signs of being severely (possibly dangerously) mentally ill.

I didn't swear at this person or otherwise engage in any negativity whatsoever, but at one point in the conversation I simply, wordlessly blocked and deleted the contact from my MSN client.

This situation presented (and still presents) a problem for me. I find myself wanting to be as accepting of others as I would want them to be of me, especially given what I wrote in the last post about acceptance, and yet at the same time I also feel a strong need to protect myself from potentially problematic influences.

Jho, if you're reading this, I do apologise for deleting your contact in such an abrupt manner, but some of what was said did alarm me. I was unsure how to explicitly handle the situation without offending you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

In response to Trackhoof

Trackhoof wrote to me earlier and said that, as a recent blog post of his suggests, he is contemplating returning to WoW.

I will confess that even when he left, part of me was hoping that this might still happen. Track, I think you still have a lot left that you can potentially contribute. Your own blog was great, as was your response to Rilgon on his a few hours ago.

Here's the thing. I don't believe World of Warcraft is going to last much longer. I give it a year after the release of WoTLK at the very most.

However, there is still a reason to play this game. Track, as you yourself said to Rilgon, people who make less conventional choices, and who do so for reasons of staying true to themselves, still at times need people around them.

There are going to be other games after WoW, (the most immediate perhaps being Warhammer) and in those games, there are still going to be offspecs. Melee Hunters with Engineering, DPS Priests and Paladins, hybrids of myriad different weird and wonderful kinds.

The common element among all of them would be unpredictability, and in many people's minds, unacceptability. They'd be character or class types that theorycrafting and empirical mathematics supposedly didn't have room for, but that the people using them had somehow been able to make work.

In a game, the straight edge, the predictable, the controllable; you need all of those things to make it work, and everyone knows that. However, just as crucially, you also need chaos, and less rigidly defined character types for those situations that are not anticipated, and cannot be conventionally quantified. Those are times when offspecs can be that missing 5% that provides success where otherwise there would be failure. Sun Tzu spoke of Ch'i and Cheng troops; the conventional and the unconventional.

These people are going to need others willing to support them. They're still going to need some degree of guidance, and more than anything else, they will need the knowledge that they are not alone. That others like them exist, and that said others understand them and the situations that, as an offspec, they find themselves in. They will also need assurance that, as Rakan actually says in the forum, although the more conventional class types do not or will not see it, the offspecs at times genuinely are what can allow the more conventional types to succeed.

Track, as a Survival Hunter yourself, you're one of the people who can be part of that mutual support group, if you choose to be. In WoW, for as long as this game continues to exist, and later, in Warhammer or whichever other game comes after, if you choose to continue to stay with it.

We need people to serve in a wide variety of roles, here. We need people like Alumatine who are able to work out what little hard scientific basis there is for various offspec types. We need people like Bandet who, with his videos, provide hard evidence of what Survival is capable of. We need people like Rakan to be the proverbial voice in the wilderness, and also to occasionally slap the opposition upside the head when they continue to bombard us with their usual prejudice.

And, Track, we need people like you...who are willing to talk to those of us who at times will inevitably waver, due to the incessant call of the mainstream, even when they know that mainstream existence just isn't what they're meant for.

At times we're all going to need some assurance that as painful as being different at times can be, we do it because not following our hearts, not following our conscience...not following what God whispers to us to far worse, to the point of being unthinkable.

Rilgon's Inner Conflict

I wrote in my last post about how Rilgon was going to respec from Marksmanship to Beast Mastery. He and I had an MSN conversation about it, and as he relates in a post on his own blog, he eventually decided not to do it.

The post is here, and I would ask everyone who usually reads me to go and read that also, and to lend him your support.

Keeping Silent

Yurch mentioned earlier in a forum thread I started that a "real Survivalist," (meaning real-life, presumably) wouldn't make as much noise as Bandet and I have been lately.

For a certain period of time I thought he was possibly right, and decided to shut up; but then I found myself disagreeing with it.

I'm not going to claim to know nearly enough about Survivalism as a real-life ideology outside WoW to be able to argue with Yurch, if he is indeed one himself. I will very simply say this.

I don't see much point in a person keeping themselves biologically alive, if the way they do that is by keeping totally silent; never making noise, and never doing anything due to fear of the consequences. Truthfully, I spend far too much time offline living like that; I have for most of my life. It's cowardice, and I want to stop being a coward, gradually at least.

I'm starting to think that a life that isn't used trying to have some sort of consequence is a wasted existence; whether that is online or off, and to that end, I actually am going to keep fighting the BM zombies in the forum. That isn't directed towards everyone who specs Beast Mastery, but I realise that there are a group within the forum who are not going to rest until every single person who plays a Hunter in this game uses 41/20/0; us all being entirely uniform clones of each other is what they want.

Rilgon has already grown tired of the pressure, derison, and guild application rejection to the point where he has caved, and respecced.

I am not going to.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Linguistic integrity

I want to write about why I seemed to care so much about the filter Blizzard put on the forum, to the point where I got banned for it.

I don't point these things out because my intent is to be negative or hateful. In all honesty and seriousness, my intent is exactly the opposite. Sometimes however what I talk about can appear dark on the outside, when the intent is light internally; the Kali element again. ;-)

Some of you reading this (a few, at least) might have read a book by a man called George Orwell. The book was called 1984. He wrote it during the mid 1940s, and it was set in a hypothetical future, in the year 1984, where the planet was ruled by only around three or four different totalitarian governments.

At one point, the book details that one of the key ways in which the local totalitarian government maintained power was by the gradual erradication of language. The vocabulary was shrunk down to such an extent that certain concepts (such as freedom, for example) could not be spoken about at all, literally because there were no words with which to describe or express them.

Blizzard's filter, whether they were intending it to or not, actually made a very powerful point. Namely, that over use of acronyms (and especially, the corruption even of said acronyms to produce terms like lawl) can end up causing written language to become almost entirely unreadable.

I'm not trying to say that I never use acronyms or corrupted terms myself; when you're typing, the temptation to do so can be very difficult to resist, especially if you need to get something written quickly. However, the over use of such terms as LOL at times does genuinely bother me.

If you try reading some of the lines in either the Looking For Group or Trade channels within World of Warcraft, next time you do so, ask yourself how likely it is that you would be able to understand the strings of acronyms you see there, if you had never seen them before. Also stop and think; when you were new to the game yourself, were you able to understand intuitively what these acronyms meant, or did you need someone else to deliberately explain them to you?

Acronyms in that sense are very much like profanity. When used in moderation and in context, they're fine. However, there is a tendency with both of them, for them to be excessively relied on by people whose personal vocabularies are that small that they may not know how to express themselves in any other way.

I'm not one of the people who believes that computer games necessarily lead to real-world physical violence. However, one problem caused by computer games (that I feel legitimately does exist) is the gradual errosion and corruption of language that is engaged in, and apparently even encouraged, by the subcultures associated with said games.

Excessive use of LOL and other acronyms is never engaged in with any kind of introspection or analysis. It's all a big joke, something to be laughed at in itself. Anyone who does look at it seriously in any way receives the type of reception that I got; first reproach and claims that I "don't have a life," and then silencing.

I encourage anyone here who hasn't read it, to read 1984, and to especially look at the parts of the book describing the language Newspeak, and how it is used in the novel. The book is in the public domain, so you can read it here.

When you have read it, think about what it says regarding the subjects of language and memory. Then possibly think about the use of compacted language within games and other places, and lastly possibly about the current political situation within America in particular.

See what you come up with.

I've been temp banned

I'm off the forum until tomorrow. Apparently I was complaining too much about the April Fool's Day script Blizzard put on the forum. Someone decided to report me for hate speech; which I hadn't made that I was aware of.

Yeah, maybe I am too serious and need to lighten up, but I think it's one of the dumbest things Blizzard have ever done. Sue me.

Anywayz...just wanted to let Rilgon know, primarily. :)