Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stepping into the Light

I recently transferred Mirsh, my main, back to Jubei'Thos, the PvP server where I originally levelled her to 60. I strongly disliked that server, (and still do) but went back because I have two brothers who both play there, and very occasionally I am able to interact with them, when their raid schedule allows.

However, that still left me alone for the majority of the time that I play, and forced to deal with the extreme elitism and toxicity of that server. Seeking a solution, I browsed the forums, and discovered a number of glowing reviews of player experiences on Moon Guard, a non-Oceanic RP realm.

I'd already had a previously deleted Horde alt on Moon Guard before, and found it a very positive experience. (If a little intimidating; I've written a lot of rp pieces here before of course, but being continually in character for more than probably 15 minutes at a time can be a little strange)

I had, however, grown tired of elitism and playing WoW primarily alone. I had read that one of the differences of the Alliance as a faction (and certainly this was always my observation of them in game as well) was a much higher degree of social cohesion and community than the Horde, so despite what I've written in the past, I decided to try it.

The decision was made much easier by a strange coincidence; during my first night on Moon Guard, in the Goldshire inn I actually ran into my guildmaster on Jubei'Thos, who it turned out had a casual roleplaying, but Druid only, guild on the server.

So that decided my new class; a Night Elf Druid. I'm only at level 9 with him at the moment, and it's been close to 10 hours /played, I will confess.

I think it's partly because I really don't know the ground at all as Alliance, and also because the genuinely fascinating conversations I've been having are a continual distraction to levelling. You might not believe this, but I entered Darnassus, to discover a conversation about chaos theory, quantum entanglement, and whether or not the human race was going to survive the next century, being held on Trade. I was amazed, and this was followed by probably an hour long private conversation with someone who'd been on Trade after I left Darnassus, as well.

I'm in the process of reading levelling guides in order to discover the most rapid way to level this character. I'm not levelling it fast because I am planning to raid, at all; but the main reason why I want to get a fair amount of levelling out of the way is so that I can both spend most of my time at the inn, or in Darnassus or Stormwind, but also catch up in order to run at least a 5 man with the guild occasionally if they want to.

Doing an instance partially in character could be a lot of fun, too, although I don't really know anything about this toon yet; all I do know is that he is, of course, very different to Mirsh.

I'm planning on levelling Feral, and then being Resto at the cap, with Balance as farming/offspec. I don't particularly like cat form, (due to the comparitive lack of survivability, primarily) and would prefer to level Balance, but I've read Feral is usually considered fastest.

I'm also currently reading about something which I'd only recently started to experiment with on my Horde alts; multi-zone quest stacking. That is, going to one race's starting area, and doing all the quests there, then going to a second zone and doing all of them there, etc.

In the Horde territories it had a major, positive impact on my speed, but with the Alliance I think it's actually going to slow me down, simply because the Alliance zones are generally so remote and far apart. We will see.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Argent Champion

Spent close to literally 14 hours within WoW today; my biggest marathon in a very long time. I was rep grinding. I managed to get to Exalted with two more factions; the Mag'har, because I wanted one of the talbuk mounts, and the Argent Dawn, because I was already Exalted with the Crusade, and wanted the two faction title.

I've wished for some time now that I could get a horse mount for Mirsh. The main reason is because most of the Horde mounts make the camera shake a lot when I'm riding, and I don't really like that. I've wanted a mount that was as smooth as I've experienced with the horse that my Forsaken Mage has.

The talbuk, I think, is about as close as I'm going to get, although in aesthetic terms as well as the suspension issue, my ideal scenario would be the Zhevra mount from the recruit-a-friend program. I had a friend a while back in the game whose toon was virtually identical to Mirsh, and she had a zhevra. It looked great, and really emphasised the African cultural basis for the reformed Orcs, as well.

A hat which looks great on Mirsh dropped from Magistrate Barthilas while I was farming Strat for Argent Dawn rep, as well. I've taken to wearing it while doing low level farming at least, although I think the one I really want is the Adventurer's Pith Helmet from Uldaman. Fits with the Indiana Jones type role I've always liked playing in this game.

I love Nagrand at dusk; it reminds me of an aunt and uncle's house I used to stay at, in the country here, when I was only around four years old. My cousins and I played cricket in a field at the back of the property, and that would be about the time of day we'd go inside the house for dinner.

Good memories.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

2700 Gold

This is the milestone I'm currently at, in my long climb up the mountain towards epic flying.

I'm aware; all the cool kids got their flying shark when they were first introduced back in TBC, but for whatever reason, I just didn't get around to buying mine back then.

At the time, Tom Chilton hadn't quite managed to recreate the game in his own perverted image to the extent he has now, and it therefore wasn't possible to (at least theoretically, with a full stable of alts) earn 800-1k gold a day simply by drooling on the floor. This is possibly the only area where Chilton's drive to make WoW safe for the Guitar Hero demographic, has actually worked in my own favour.

Of course, being on a server where the auctionhouse is both active and certifiably insane (in terms of the degree of inflation) certainly helps. I'm not sure about other servers, but Star Rubies can sell for up to a dozen gold apiece, and Rugged Leather (pre-tbc leather type) is worth twice as much as Borean on Jubei'Thos.

This means that to a large extent, where pre-TBC content is concerned, I've finally found a scenario where I can have my cake and eat it too. I can engage in my favourite pastime in this game; charge rich alts 50-200 gold for runs through BRD, and sell the rugged leather I skin from the hounds there, for one gold apiece. Runecloth can spike to nearly 10 gold a stack, and I've also seen Dark Iron on the AH before (around two weeks ago) for 15g per bar.

Mithril, Truesilver, Thorium? Same as Saronite, on Jubei; 3g per bar. Thick Leather is the same as Borean; 55s per piece, or 11g per stack. Felcloth? 2g per piece. Winterspring is more lucrative than Icecrown, barring the dailies. Insane, I hear you say? Possibly, but I'm not arguing.

At this point, the auction house and imitating Indiana Jones via old content are literally my only focus in this game. I don't raid; I'm not even trying to do Heroics any more. Why, I hear you ask? The answer to that question would be Jubei's dark side.

The GearScore addon rules Jubei'Thos with an iron fist. Where raiding or heroics are concerned on the server, there are two groups of people; those with 4.5k+ GS, and those without it. Those with it are permitted to raid or run Heroics. Those without it stand outside the bank in Dalaran and cry; either that, or creatively adapt to their situation, as I have done.

Elitism is more brutal, and chronic, on Jubei'Thos than on any other server I have ever seen. Nobody seems run Northrend Heroics because they actually enjoy them, to even a remote degree.

I was doing the Heroic Halls of Lightning daily quest this morning, when the paladin tank I was with refused to engage the first boss, simply because his desire was so strong to be out of the instance in the shortest time humanly possible.

I've shifted focus to people levelling alts or first characters below the cap, and they seem to be enjoying themselves to an enormous degree. By contrast, I ferried a group of 52s through BRD after the H HOL disaster, and we all had a great time. I also ran a couple of 70s through the Mana Tombs the other night; again, great fun was had by all.

I'm not generalising about other servers here, but on Jubei at least, the central rule seems to be, that before the cap, people primarily play the game in order to actually enjoy themselves. After the cap, the motivation is apparently to either desperately try to find something which will cause onlookers in Dalaran (or other capitals) to gasp at you in orgasmic awe when they see you, or simply to get your GearScore sufficiently high that you are perceived as having fundamental worth as a human being.

I've never been able to (and I don't think I ever will) understand what the point of that is. Using WoW as a source of self esteem, for me, has always come across as an exercise in futility. The goalposts are continually shifting; today you're only considered leet if you have tier 7, and tomorrow it's tier 9.

The other thing that I've noticed, is that with only very rare exceptions, you're never actually praised if you manage to achieve the arbitrary prerequisite for social acceptance within the current moment. You're only ruthlessly abused, rejected, excluded, segregated, and discriminated against if you haven't.

So what are my own goals in the game right now? The first is epic flying, and the second is the Conqueror PvP title. If I manage to get a good enough handle on working the AH, I will probably try and shoot for a Traveller's Tundra Mammoth as well. In my instance tourguide/bodyguard type activities, the vehicle's capacity for extra passengers (not to mention its' ability to host repair and ammunition vendors) could come in extremely useful.

I'd lost faith in raiding probably a year or two ago, but it was only relatively recently when the same disillusionment started to set in for Heroics. The usual argument about Heroics, that it's old content, and therefore at this point gear is the only thing that matters, also doesn't wash to me. I can go to old instances with people any number of times, and still consistently have fun.

I can also, with the right group of people, have fun in the Northrend instances as well. Some offline friends proved that to me last week, when we ran Utgarde Keep and Pinnacle together.

One of them was new at playing a Warrior; not only did he lack experience at tanking with the class, but he was undergeared as well. So we wiped probably four times on Skadi, and in the end only beat him very narrowly. Yet I still had more fun wiping with them, than I've ever had in any amount of runs which consisted purely of "aoe lol," at warp speed, where the instance was finished much more quickly.

The point of this game isn't for people who are bitter or insecure about being impotent, powerless, anonymous, and inconsequential in offline life, to attempt to find a means to compensate for that fact. If you're a loser offline, go offline and do something about it there; don't simply live in this game in order to get a 5k GearScore, and then think you can be a petty megalomaniac towards those whose GS is lower. That is unutterably pathetic.

The argument that 5k GS is in any way necessary, is also completely bogus. There is no 5 man Heroic in Northrend which needs more than 1.8k DPS per DPS class, tops. The number for Patchwerk is 2k. The number for Sarth and so on might be a bit higher, but I'm guessing it's truly not much.

I've asked this question before, but I still don't know the answer. If, when people step into an instance, their sole focus is on getting through it as quickly as is humanly possible, then what is their motivation for even entering the instance at all?

The reason why I keep doing older content over and over again (or even contemporary Heroics, if I'm with the right people) is because I actually enjoy it. If people don't enjoy what they're doing in this game, then why are they here at all?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Alts, and playing the Auction House

In addition to the tanking I was doing a couple of days ago, I'm currently in the process of migrating back to Jubei'Thos, my first server, in order to play with my two brothers.

Jubei'Thos has a much more active (albeit overinflated) auction house economy than Saurfang, as well, which gives me a lot more opportunities for making good money.

Saurfang's AH was so deflated that I had to undercut to the point of barely above vendor price, in order to sell anything, whereas Jubei'Thos overinflation is much better for me. It means that I have room to undercut substantially, while still making good money.

A long held dream of mine within WoW, has been a scenario where, of the ten allowable toons on a single server, I have one or two which I actively play, with the rest being alts that are permanently posted in zones with valuable gathering materials.

My daily WoW routine would then consist of gathering a set quota of each of these materials, and then mailing them back to a single bank alt for sale on the auction house, as well as possibly having each of them do the six relatively simple (Shadow Vault/Death's Rise) Icecrown dailies.

If I was able to somehow achieve the goal of 10 80 characters, this would result in a daily income of 600-800 gold, purely from these dailies, and parallel farming could potentially triple that.

My focus at the moment, then, is attempting to discover the most rapid possible means of levelling characters. I am traditionally one of the slowest levellers around, and so I've been attempting to find information which will help me change that.

The first thing which has helped, is that I remembered yesterday that I had an old copy of Joana's Horde Levelling Guide on the hard drive of my other machine. In addition to following that, I picked up a very interesting tip at another website, as well.

This tip was the suggestion to not only do the earliest starting quests in Durotar, but also to then go to Deathknell in Tirisfal, and the Eversong Woods, and do both of those sets of starting quests as well.

With the alt that I'm currently levelling, I'd already started the character, so I couldn't follow this advice completely, but I was able to follow it partially.

I levelled to 12 in Kalimdor, and then went back and did several Tirisfal Glades quests. Since I was substantially above the usual level range for these quests, I went through them easily, while still amassing a large amount of experience for them. I then returned to the Barrens and continued there at around level 14.

Joana's guide is going to be a particular Godsend for me once I get out of the Barrens as well, because truthfully I've never been entirely sure on what the most rapid path is from there. With Mirsh, I primarily went through Thousand Needles/Mirage Raceway, then Desolace, then Tanaris, then Un'Goro, and then going up through Felwood/Winterspring.

I've been trying to decide which character class, if any, to standardise on for a farming alt, as well. I'm actually levelling a Rogue at the moment, and levelling with it seems to be marginally faster than what I've experienced with a Hunter.

Stealth and backstab makes killing some large mobs easier as well, but I'm finding I need to plan pulls very carefully, because I tend to die if anything goes wrong. I know I should be using a sword, but dual daggers are so much fun that it's difficult to want to change. ;)

I've also had the idea of creating an army of Mages. That would be glorious as well, due to the teleportation capability, but in my own experience, the Mage is among the slowest levelling classes in the game, and is also comparitively poor at soloing instances.

I'd love having a Paladin for AoE farming, as well, but levelling one of those, again seems slow to the point of being painful. So I think I'm probably going to stick with the Rogue for the time being.

If anyone else has advice on any of the topics I've mentioned here, please add it in my comments. You might end up helping someone other than just me. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the RMT pet store

As Gundersson pointed out in the comments here, two posts ago, Blizzard earlier this month opened an RMT store selling minipets.

Gundersson mentioned having finally cancelled his account in response to this; that it was the last straw. So how do I feel about it?

I've never cared about minipets in this game; I view them as being almost entirely pointless. One or two of them (the Booty Bay parrots, primarily) might add what I would consider aesthetic flavour, perhaps, but very few of them.

More generally, it is also no particular secret that the bean counters are firmly in charge of the direction of World of Warcraft, these days. That probably became true at the time of the release of TBC, which is when the merger with Vivendi happened from memory, and is also when the original live team left the game.

That was also, I suspect, the point when Tom Chilton really took over, and we had the Arena as a consequence. There are a few people left who are possibly naive enough to believe that Ghostcrawler has some genuine control of things, but as Brigwyn has pointed out, in reality, GC isn't much more than a mouthpiece for Chilton, who became sufficiently hated by players that it was no longer really prudent for him to visit the forums directly. During TBC, I can actually remember Chilton having been issued with death threats on his answering machine, according to a forum post.

To be honest though, I'm at the point where I'm past caring about the suits running the game into the ground, myself. Yes, I know they're doing it, and yes, I know eventually they will probably succeed at finishing the job entirely; but for the time being, it is still possible for me to viably find things within the game that I enjoy doing, so I'm proceeding on that basis. The RMT pet store, then, is not going to cause me to quit.

Truth be told, though, it's felt as though the ground has been shrinking beneath my feet for a while now; 2.3 was when the rot truly started to set in.

I've very largely abandoned the Hunter as a class, at this point, but am, as I've written, in the process of discovering tanking and healing, and I suspect those two activities will keep me busy for some time yet.

I will likely only truly consider leaving when a) tanking is sufficiently damaged as to become inviable, and/or b) a substantially better alternative to WoW comes along, although I probably wouldn't move to that unless I knew a few of my readers at least (Rilgon, Pike, possibly Gundersson, Efri) were moving to it as well. There has always been a very vague, remote outside possibility of me moving to EverQuest, but that grows increasingly less likely as time goes by.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the service roles

Last night I noticed Pike's most recent post, about how she has branched out into raid healing.

Possibly feeling inspired by it, (although I've been planning on taking up tanking, as I've already written) today after tanking another 5 man Uldaman run, I logged on with a level 28 blood elf Paladin in Hillsbrad who I haven't played with in probably close to a year now, specced Holy, and asked if anyone wanted a healer while questing.

What followed was a fairly enjoyable (if at times a little slow) 2-2.5 hours where I acted as buffer/healer for a feral Druid, during probably three or so quests.

After having done this, it made me realise why I gave the game up for nearly a year, as well as the reason why I never really got into raiding.

I need to purge my ego. Egotism was what really stopped me raiding. A certain amount of individualism is vital, yes; but in my own case, I've allowed that to go too far, for far too long. It's as much the reason why I've been socially isolated offline, as it is the reason why things never really took off for me within World of Warcraft.

I also realise that this is the true reason why there has always been a tank and healer shortage in this game, as well.

Tanking and healing (moreso healing) are largely selfless roles. Healing can be reasonably stimulating if you're having to move quickly, and so is a challenge in that sense, but for the most part, it's a scenario where you're doing something that enables someone else to have fun.

Most people prefer a scenario where they can be in the spotlight; where they can do something which, in an immediate and visible way, their ego is going to be gratified. There are, if we're honest, two overt measures of a person's fundamental worth in this game, in most people's eyes; either their gear, or their place on the DPS meter.

I wanted that myself, and I went further, in refusing, even as a Hunter, to be even temporarily flexible in the name of what might have been more genuinely supportive of other people.

I need to start learning, if I can, to put the welfare of a team first, and my own desires second. Other people will respond to this and urge caution, no doubt, and I appreciate that.

The truth is, however, that I've gone about as far as I can at this point, following the, "me first!" route. I've hit a brick wall.

I can keep doing nothing but solitary farming, and clinging to (for me) a dying spec, and never experience anything other than loneliness, boredom to the point where I normally simply log out of the game within half an hour, and a lack of fulfillment due to not moving on to new forms of activity; things which I haven't tried before.

Or, I can realise and acknowledge, that it's now time for something to change. I can become a tank, and experience the subsequent additional maturity which the level of responsibility involved with that will bring.

I don't have any illusions; it's not going to be easy. Even doing Uldaman earlier today was hard; we wiped a number of times at first. I had to zoom right out, in order to have a full 360 degree view, and I had to start pulling carefully, and paying serious attention. Once I did that though, we did not wipe again.

The task I set for myself, first with Ultima Online, and secondly with this game, was to use them as venues where I could learn to relate to other human beings in an effective and beneficial way. So far, my success on that score has only been very partial. I have this blog, and I'm proud of that, yes; but the reason why I haven't ended up doing much raiding in the past, if I'm truly honest, is because I always put my own desires ahead of those of anyone else.

If I'm going to continue to grow, and if I'm going to learn to truly reach out to other human beings, I'm going to need to learn to do something different on that score.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blowing the dust off

You probably thought this blog was dead.

I'd forgive you if you did. Truthfully, I think I've thought the same at times, over the last couple of months. I'm also aware, from what I've been reading at least, that although I've essentially been on hiatus since January, there are very few people who've been playing since pre-TBC, now left.

There's a major reason why I've been out of the game for so long though, which doesn't have anything to do with WoW itself. The video card in my primary computer has bad memory. I can't play WoW with it (or any 3d game/application, for that matter) for more than probably 90 minutes at the most, and sometimes no more than half an hour, without it causing the entire computer to freeze up.

However, a couple of months ago I was able to get a second computer, which I'm dedicating purely to WoW. It took a while to get it set up, but over the last few days, I've started playing again. The video card isn't great, either; but most importantly, it works. I can get around 35 fps at 1024x768 most of the time, and for me, that's good enough.

I'm creating an alt Draenei Warrior to do some tanking with my younger brother on Barthilas, and also have an Orc Warrior for grouping on my main server, Saurfang.

Mirsh probably isn't going to get played much from here on out; for farming, yes, and maybe some battleground pvp, but the character's days as a main are probably over. My focus now is going to be on tanking, more than anything else.

My Orc Warrior on Saurfang, Braag, is using a Fury/Protection spec. He's still mainly Prot, but I love the 16 or so points in Fury, for all the extra Rage it gives me. I tanked Uldaman with him yesterday while levelling him, and it really helped. We had one wipe, but it happened due to me getting overwhelmed and burst to death very quickly; largely unavoidable.

Also, I know I haven't mentioned this before, but for anyone who doesn't already know this, the links under the Basic Training section of this blog, are almost completely obsolete. Truthfully I've got no idea who to recommend you go to, in order to learn to play a Hunter now; maybe try the forums.

EDIT: As Brigwyn has reminded me in the comments, his site ( is still up, and apparently he is still playing, and thus can still offer guidance. :)

For now's long past the time,
Of last adventures.
Twilight long since darkened,
Into night.

Most of Azeroth's few greats
Have left us.
In the forum, no known name,
Is left in sight.

Yet though reason compels me,
To go likewise,
A greater force demands,
I stay and fight.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Alliance in positive terms

I'm not sure why I'm writing this, truthfully; I know probably nobody cares about WoW's lore any more, and that they probably ceased caring before WoTLK. I was just reading my old post about Variann Wrynn, though, and wanted to write a positive counterbalance to it.

There's a poem, however, which I tried to have included on the talk page for Turalyon on WoWWiki once, even though they removed it. It always reminded me of the depiction of his and Khadgar's courage in going through the Dark Portal in particular, and I think it pretty well sums up what Metzen's depiction of the Alliance, at its' most positive, could be; as opposed to the war mongering of Variann.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

-- The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke, 1914.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Randolph! Randolph!"

"We're back."

I logged in earlier tonight and did a Heroic VH. Turns out that during peak time at least, the responders to my last post were right; it's not so difficult for Hunters to get into Heroics.

Anyway, wonder of wonders, I was still somehow the member of a guild that I'd joined back in March, and when I'd finished the VH run, I suddenly got a whisper asking if I'd like to do 25 man Ulduar!

So I said yes, and went.

Me:- "I have to warn you guys; my gear sucks. I haven't really played since January, and I just got 2.2k dps in VH."

Someone else:- "Np."
Someone else:- "Welcome."

I found those responses encouraging. In the end, because it was already 10 pm local time, we only downed one boss (the XT-002_Deconstructor) after a couple of wipes, but it still was cool to be in there.

Once raid buffed, my DPS average was around 2.8k, peaking once at 2,898, which left me very surprised. I'm aware that that is terrible by contemporary standards, but given that my gear mostly dates from January, (with the exception of two rings; the Signet of Edward the Odd, and a Titanium Impact Band with a Delicate Cardinal Ruby) 2.2k was about the most I expected to get, especially considering that I was only ever at around 2.1 during the few times I went to Naxxramas.

I'm unsure about my current spec as well, since it was thrown together in a hurry, and was actually intended for battleground PvP; if anyone could offer any suggestions for tightening it up a little here or there, I'd appreciate it.

For eight months away though, that is an outcome which I'm not feeling too bad about. I badly need more current gear, obviously, but if my guild is willing to let me into Uld raids, that will be a decent way to get some. I might have to see if there are some Uld 10 runs going as well, because apparently Deliverance drops from 10 man Normal Yogg'Saron.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A slow, sleepy comeback

So I logged in with my old (ancient) main, a level 42 Mage, earlier, and am going to do some questing with him in Tanaris. I'm not really trying to level; the plan is actually to earn the 10 or so (hopefully) gold I need in order to respec, as every so often I feel like playing with Frost for a while. I'm in the process of updating my addons as I type, as well, since I haven't done that since January.

Seeing as I was in LFG for the Scarlet Monastery however, and saw LFGs for some heroics flick by, I asked a tentative question.

Me:- "Anyone ever want Hunters for Heroics?"
Lightslayer:- "DPS is a dime a dozen."
Someone else:- "@$%# Hunters."
Me:- "Ok, I thought so. Thanks, guys. Just checking."
Lightslayer:- "Go PVP."

I'm considering taking his advice, as I still want to eventually get Conqueror with Mirsh. I've also grabbed an Addon called Overachiever; I want to get at least Nagrand Slam in order to get the old Horde cutscene-type achievement from TBC.

I spent 2k on gear during my last login, as well; though my Armory profile still no doubt sucks rocks by contemporary standards. My motivations for gear are battlegrounds and soloing, but it is going to be difficult, given that apparently I still need to raid if I want decent stuff, and the attitude towards Hunters in PvE is apparently what I mentioned above. ;)

The BGs still don't seem to be too demanding for gear, although with Blizzard's new rated battlegrounds in Cataclysm, that will change, I'm expecting. Still, it'd be good to do rated matches in a form of PvP that, all false modesty aside, I'm actually reasonably good at, for a change. ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Two years, and still here...just barely.

I know it's been a month since my last post.

A lot of real life stuff has happened in that time; which I won't go into.

In six days, the Lair will hit its' second anniversary. I had thought I might already be past that, but apparently I'm not. So I'll blog about it now, because I can't guarantee where I'll be then.

I can't actually remember the experience of making the first post now; if it wasn't there, I wouldn't remember it at all. I can remember how much WoW has changed in these two years, though; and how much my own life has. I've been in and out of my sole romantic relationship, have had a complete religious change, and have moved house three (it could have been four) times within that period.

I'm possibly going to log into WoW after I've finished writing this. I bought a timecard last month, and this will be, to my knowledge, the second time I've logged in while it has been active. What I'm not sure about is what I'm going to do in the game this time.

I think it's going to have to be play some alts, although I'm still somehow pretty hooked on the concept that playing WoW means playing Mirsh, if I play WoW at all. I think that's the main reason why I've almost given up. The Hunter was all it was really about for me.

I've realised that truthfully, the forum ban was actually one of the major things which caused me to stop playing, as well. I've actually considered getting an entirely new account purely because of that. Of course, I'd probably just get perm banned again in very short order, but I'd have some time back at least. General at times was fun.

It may only be by the skin of my teeth, but as I vowed to do with my forum (and other) trolls, I have fulfilled the proverb that I used to quote from Vampire: The Masquerade.

"The greatest way to deal with an enemy is to outlast them." ;)

Monday, July 13, 2009

It is as I had feared

Gundersson sent me this blog post link, which essentially confirmed my previously held worst fears.

World of Warcraft is now officially being run by a skeleton crew, and there is no single major hand at the helm.

My account is currently suspended; I had it set to automatic payment, but there was no money in the account last time Blizzard tried to charge the card. I also don't actually have a computer capable of running WoW at my current place of residence; my WoW machine is at my mother's.

I am missing playing the game at the moment, I will admit; but I am realising more and more that the only thing it is going to consist of, is me playing pre-cap. Warsong Gulch to an extent, and those instances which I can find groups for.

Even more than the game itself, I'm truthfully missing it primarily because this character, as I have mentioned, became an alterego for two years, and it is that which I am missing more.

Still, I'm wondering how much of a possible future the game can have at this point. The current live team are inept, and have no clue about the (previous, anyway) overall vision for the game. It seems to me that the best I can hope for is to periodically be able to continue to enjoy what content already exists; there doesn't seem to be much hope for anything positive in the future, now.

I am going to be getting a WoW-capable machine here at some point soon; and when I do, I will re-activate my account. However, it will only be for the sake of periodic PvP and the crawling of old dungeons; not for potential new content.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I'm not dead...

Just a quick post to assure whoever's still reading that I *am* still alive; I know it's been half the month since I've posted.

I apologise for that; real life is really starting to take off for me lately, for possibly the very first time, it's kept me busy.

Don't unsub, if you haven't already; I will be posting more soon. I'm going to still be pushing for Conqueror, in battleground there will probably be more pvp stuff I will be grinding for as well.

What is everyone else up to recently?

Monday, June 15, 2009

A visit from some bats

I was walking back towards the train station last night after visiting a friend of mine, and as we approached one of the trees alongside the footpath, we heard a tremendous squealing noise. On looking up into the tree, we noticed the appearance of two bats, (presumably male and female) who for some reason were first wrestling around in the tree, and then one of them circled around the tree while we were directly underneath it.

They were making an enormous racket, too...really shrieking. We would have been able to still hear them from several feet away. The friend was walking with me at the time, and he said that although he has often taken that route in order to get to the train station or supermarket himself, in the couple of months he'd been living there, he had never seen bats in those trees before.

I was thrilled to see them myself, though; I had never actually seen bats close up before. Apparently the bigger, fruit eating flying foxes are quite common in Melbourne, but these were quite small...real microbats!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A visit to Maraudon

So yesterday, I logged in with my old Mage on Jubei'Thos. I was bored out of my skull from doing nothing but dailies with Mirsh for ages, and figured if I was still going to play the game at all, it was time for something different.

I needed something to restore my faith in this game; as you can probably tell from the length of time since my last post, WoW interest for me lately has been at an all time low. I found something to renew my interest though, I think; it seems there's still a little life in the old game yet, if only embers.

I got into LFG, and for a long time, (probably two hours) I messed around in Stranglethorn (the Mage is level 41, and has only gained 6 levels in probably the past 3 years) because there was nobody in the list.

Finally, after finding a Priest and doing a who lookup on the zone, I actually managed to scrounge a group together. The fascinating thing was, these guys all seemed to be very new, hadn't been to any of the old instances, and didn't really seem to know that much about the game at all. Usually by the mid-40s, in the old days at least, a person would have learned a fair bit about WoW, but these guys were just doing what was expected of them now, and racing madly for the cap.

So I think maybe I'm going to go back to my old calling in the game; I'm possibly going to reroll a new Hunter on Jubei, as well as continuing to play the Mage, and look for groups of newbs to do the old instances with. I used to enjoy playing drill sergeant in the Wailing Caverns and a few other similar places, and it looks now as though there are a lot of new people coming into the game, who are less familiar with things than ever before.

The group I had yesterday seemed to really enjoy themselves once they got started, as well, and I don't think I'll ever forget a line that came from our tank after we'd downed one of the bosses there:-

"That's one less teleporting satyr out on the streets. I can sleep safer at night." ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WoW's performance on FreeBSD

So to answer someone from my last post about why I run WoW in FreeBSD, this is why:-

In the minds of most people, this might seem like an entirely ordinary shot, but I've never had shading in particular look that good before.

Framerate now isn't as good as it was before I had sound running, but I still average above 30 FPS in most areas, and sometimes above 50. Framerate with no sound was insane; I peaked at 76 FPS in Jotunheim.

I apologise for the length of time between posts; I just really haven't been playing WoW that much recently. I logged in yesterday, but my recent average has been probably about twice a week. I have nobody offline to play with, and I don't have sufficiently consistent net access to raid, even if I did want to, so that makes it very difficult. I'm still working towards epic flying, but no guarantees as to when it will happen.

Are the rest of you still playing as much these days?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A FreeBSD Homecoming

So after enduring Ubuntu's terminal instability for close to a month, and finally getting sick of it two days ago, I wiped Ubuntu and decided to go back to what was the first UNIX system I ever encountered, on an Internet provider's text shell back in 1995.

Although I know Rilgon has, and possibly Pike, it's possible that not many of you have heard of FreeBSD. It could be considered Linux's older cousin, being directly descended from the initial, non-PC versions of UNIX.

I've included the image of the Tumbler here because, as far as the "operating systems and cars," analogy is concerned, I can't think of a better fitting comparison in this case. FreeBSD was initially primarily intended as a server operating system, perhaps a little moreso than a desktop, and is still used for web hosting by some of the busiest sites on the planet. Yahoo is probably the best known, but there are many others, including three of Netcraft's top 10 most reliable webhosting companies this last April.

To answer the single most important question, however, yes, it does run World of Warcraft. ;) There are native nVidia drivers, and WoW runs on it via Wine, just like Linux.

So why am I running this instead of Linux or Windows?

1. Stability.

I was tired of the amount of random hardware failures and other instability that I had suffered through with Ubuntu. Although XP is fairly stable, there were times with earlier versions of Windows when the Blue Screen of Death was seen regularly by me, and it never really went away completely until after Service Pack 2.

FreeBSD, on the other hand, is as solid as the above image suggests. ;) As far as I know, FreeBSD's sister distribution, NetBSD, was used as the host operating system for the recent Mars rover. If you install this, you can forget about seeing the Blue Screen of Death, or any other equivalent, ever again. For the most part, it simply doesn't happen. ;)

I read another report online a bit back about how some people installed a FreeBSD web server on a headless machine, (that is, no monitor or keyboard) stuck it in a desk drawer, and then unintentionally ended up completely forgetting about it for six months. It was only rediscovered when they noticed a power cord trailing out of the drawer. On discovering it, they tested it and discovered that it was still functioning as well as it had been when it was initially installed.

2. Security.

Have any of you who run XP, ever had this nagging, uncomfortable feeling that maybe there's something nasty lurking away in some corner of the operating system, waiting to pounce and trash your files? I used to get that feeling on a regular basis myself, and I didn't like it. I feel that peace of mind when using a computer is very important.

Now, I don't have to worry. I can install anything I want from source code, (unlike even Ubuntu, where, even though source compilation is possible, it is awkward and inconvenient to do, and also frequently uses non-signed, or potentially unsafe, source packages) and potentially review said source code myself if I'm worried about it, to ensure that malware isn't contained within it. Even if, on the rare offchance, something nasty is contained in a program I've installed, as long as I've run it as a non-root user, it might destroy my own account, but it can't destroy the entire system.

3. Efficiency.

System resource efficiency is another big priority. Not only in Windows, but also with Linux I hated how bloated KDE in particular was. I still don't have more than 1Gb of RAM on this system, so I can't afford to be wasting memory because of someone else's bad programming.

When I install FreeBSD, I can choose exactly what makes up the system that is the end result; and that also means that I have access to some window managers and other software which is extremely minimalistic in terms of memory and disk space consumption; and the less memory a window system takes up, the more I've got left for WoW, right?

Even before I'd installed a window system though, I had a look at the system's memory use just after I'd finished the base install. Out of that 1024 Mb I mentioned, I had 964 Mb free; so it was using just 60. To put that in perspective, even when it is idle, Windows XP will generally be consuming at least 300 MB.

I will put another link to FreeBSD's download site here, in case any of you are curious about checking it out.

The installation process is a little involved, but it's very well documented. That is one of the other respects in which, if you try it, you'll find it very consistent with Survival in WoW; but you might also enjoy driving stick. ;)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Some downtime in WoW

I've been trying to hit various aspects of the Linux learning curve fairly hard over the last couple of days, and have realised that I need to stop and do something else for a bit.

I recognise the signs, which for me are mainly a chronic inability to stay on task. If I'm mentally fresh, I can work away at something exclusively for a couple of days at a time with tunnel vision, but after the third or fourth day like that, I tend to need a change.

So I'm going to be going into WoW after this, maybe doing some dailies, and some other stuff. I've got 3k gold now in the attempt to save for mount money, but I'm still debating whether to cough up for dual speccing. The reason why is because truthfully I want to go back to my TBC-like Survival build for farming, but on the other hand, it'd be good to be able to respec for Heroics at a moment's notice as well.

Then again, I've still never tried 51 point Marksmanship yet, either; I keep meaning to get around to trying out Chimaera Shot, but it just hasn't happened yet. I also want to get my Devilsaur out again at some point, as well. Lots to do, lots to do. :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A belated post

I apologise for the length of time it's been since my last posting.

Truthfully, though, I probably just don't really have anything terribly interesting to say. Actually, let me clarify. I *could* talk about what I'm doing right now, and aspects of that which are important to me, but it's not WoW related. I don't know how much of the following my readers are going to understand or find relevant, but this is what I'm doing.

It's related to an at least partial custom Linux system which I'm in the (long) process of putting together. I've used quite a lot of different Linux distributions over the years, but truthfully the only UNIX system I've ever found that I really liked was FreeBSD. People might say that I should just use that, then, but there are a couple of reasons why I'm actually trying to clone a number of the parts of that system for a Linux environment instead.

a) Linux doesn't have package management which (IMHO anyway) is anywhere near as good as FreeBSD's ports. The package management system I'm currently working on is more closely related to ports than anything else for Linux that I've seen.

b) Although it is very user friendly in some respects, and I also praise the developers for their positive intentions, under the hood, Ubuntu has some very serious problems. Most of these stem from the fact that the Debian Project (which is Ubuntu's parent distribution) has chosen to set a number of system components up in such a way as to not even vaguely resemble any other Linux distribution in existence that I've seen.

c) Linux needs a distribution where the operating system is allowed to be itself, rather than people trying to twist it into a clone of Microsoft Windows; especially when usually they go about doing that in a chaotic way, as well. It's not that Linux can't be used for a decent GUI system; quite the opposite.

d) There are some elements of FreeBSD which (after talking to Rilgon, and engaging in my own introspection) I *won't* be copying. The main one is its' new event-driven system startup framework. I am going to use a combination of bare Sysvinit, and shell scripts tied to udev itself. I'm not really sure, truthfully, why people have felt a need to build a secondary event-driven hardware/kernel framework *on top of* udev itself, because that in itself is essentially what udev is for. I'm inclined to believe that it was intended to *supplement* Sysvinit in a clean and sane way.

Linux (or, more broadly speaking, UNIX) had a very good design philosophy to begin with however, but most of the people currently working on Linux distributions have forsaken that in order to try and create something which was going to be popular. The story there is fairly similar to what has happened with Survival in WoW, truth be told.

So yeah, that's what I'm doing at the moment. Rilgon will understand, Pike will probably understand some of it, and the rest of you will probably want to just scroll past it.

If anyone else is willing, and has some spare time, I'll also relink to something I wrote back in 2005, as well. If you're feeling adventurous and want something else to do for an hour or so a night, grab a copy of Ubuntu and follow the guide at that link, from step 2 down. You don't need to do it all at once; as I said, and hour every few days, or even one a week. It will just gradually demystify Linux for you though, if you're wondering what it is all about.

There is one other non-WoW related thing which has been on my mind lately as well, which I'm sure my trolls will have a field day with. On viewing some of my videos on YouTube, a year or two ago someone recommended I at least visit the local chapterhouse (in Sydney, in my case) of Ramakrishna Math, a monastic order set up at the end of the 19th century by the followers of Sri Ramakrishna, who was probably the most well-known of Kali's saints.

My trolls will say that, given what an emotionally unstable headcase I am, I'm about the furthest thing from monk material on the planet; and truthfully, I'd agree with them. People here no doubt know that I've probably been one the least civil, and most feral and/or savage members of the greater WoW blogging community. Getting banned from the WoW forums, truthfully, wasn't an easy thing to do.

It's the reason why I haven't done this yet, even though the person who told me about it did so probably two years ago. Developmentally and morally speaking, I'm nowhere near up to it.

And yet...for some reason, the idea just won't leave me alone for the last month or so. Maybe it is something I should consider looking into.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remembering Survival

I just found this video on YouTube. It's of the last few minutes of The Dark Knight.

It reminded me of when I made this blog post, about what Survival ideally was, for me.

I actually do enjoy my dailies, now. I log in, do the Icecrown ones, sometimes go and farm Quel'Danas to make up around another 100g from there, and then log out. I just renewed my subscription, and I actually added a debit card number for the first time this month; so I'm not going anywhere.

It's nothing like what I have experienced in the past, though. The battlegrounds were glorious, primarily pre-TBC, but they could still be good during TBC as well. 5 mans during TBC were also still at least partly worth doing.

I can still play. I can still get in, and farm, and run the odd old instance with people, and dream...but it's not the same. I know it never will be again.

I can no longer express this to you on the forum, Ghostcrawler; but I will not forget what you and the "new Blizzard," have taken from me.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Merc duty

As mentioned in an earlier post, I gave two guys a run through the Scholomance the other night; got the Achievement as well which was good. My pay was unusually good, as well; 200g.

I admit; when Rilgon talks about being passionate about raiding, as far as PvE is concerned, that is what I really love to do. It's actually the reason why I never raided during TBC. I was constantly taking people through different places. It very much fits Mirsh as a character, in RP terms in particular. ;)

I wish Blizzard would copy EQ's mentoring program, as it would give me a lot more to do in the game. EQ (and I think maybe EQ2) has a scenario where if someone higher level joins a 5 man or so group with lower level characters, the higher level person's gear will be downgraded temporarily to match the rest of the group. The higher level character is given some incentive for doing it as well, which I can't remember specifically...although I'd do it purely for gold.

Given that I've been forum banned (sheepish grin) would someone who still has forum access maybe be willing to start a thread in the Suggestions forum about this for me? I'd love it if Blizzard added this in a future patch. Given how big Pike's readership is too, I'm sure there are people on her server who would love it if they could get groups with her, as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

On Black Arrow and Wyvern Sting

To answer Gundersson's last comment; yes, Wyvern was made our top tier talent in 1.7, and remained so until TBC.

I actually got Black Arrow and ES back recently with the talent reset, and I'm finding now that they don't make me too bored. I still use Immolation Trap for a couple of reasons:-

a) Because, although the damage over time is only marginally more, it still does it over 6 seconds, it kills things faster, at least once the trap goes off.

b) Because of the way I'm specced, I get Entrapment procs, which stack with the one second stun from Charge. It can be good for allowing me to get range once the trap goes off, or to help with kiting when I use Frost.

c) I just enjoy trapping more, although I'm not stupid about it, either. There are times when, as I've said, I'm 40 yards away from one particular mob, but there are others between it and me, and I don't necessarily want to pull every other mob between me and it. There are also times when I'm in a hurry, for whatever reason, and as long as I've got range, I will use Black Arrow then.

The reason why I don't feel that Black Arrow has made us a clone of Marksmanship, is because in the past, what we would have used for long range work is Wyvern Sting, but Wyvern has always been on a long CD. Black Arrow for me isn't so much purely a ranged L&L proc, (the presumed raider mentality) as it is a free second use of Wyvern Sting, without the sleep, but which *also* allows me to stack the near 3k damage of Serpent on top of it.

I understand that in raid terms, generating L&L procs might be considered the only reason why Survival exists, but the reason why I don't raid is precisely because I want to be able to do what I want.

So when I'm farming, getting an L&L proc isn't actually my main goal in life. I will often either use an Immolation Trap, Serpent, and a single ES, or BA, Serpent, and a single ES; or sometimes even just Serpent and a single ES, which also usually kills things very rapidly as well. When 3.0 first came out, I was as much an L&L junky as anyone else; but then GC put it on a cooldown, which I found clunky and annoying, so I learned to live without it.

The only time I really definitely want an L&L proc is when I'm doing group work (in terms of mobs) with Frost Trap. When that happens, against three targets, they will all get one ES each, or with two targets, the pet's will get two ES, and the second mob will get Serpent and one, usually with a Feign as well.

Another thing you may or may not find interesting; when farming, I never use Steady. At all. It is horribly mana inefficient, and use of Steady might have a lot to do with why you've mentioned that your pet can't hold threat either, Gundersson.

I often have scenarios where I'll rapidly hear the "exceeded pet threat," sound effect in Omen 3 or so times per kill. Have any of you heard of barreling waves, in surfing? That's essentially what I do with threat, and you can only do it if, once you've got some dots up, you use pure autoshot after it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Escaping L&L/ES/BA boredom

I was obviously wrong about Immolation Trap, and I acknowledge that.

When I'm on my own at least, however, damage isn't actually my main priority.

It might be in an instance, yes; but as I wrote a few posts ago, for a bit before the release of 3.1, for farming I actually specced *out* of ES/L&L because I got bored with running around one shotting everything that moves.

If I'm still trapping, I can farm for hours and not get bored. With ES, though, I find my eyes starting to glaze over after only the first few mobs; as you say, it sucks.

Seriously; use dual speccing and, as a farming spec, give yourself this.

Then you can switch between that and the ES/L&L/BA whack-a-mole spec to use in Heroics or raids.

It's essentially what we had during TBC, but with the Glyph of Immolation Trap, CA, and Hunting Party as well. I'd never use this in a Heroic or raid of course; but when I'm alone, I can choose what's actually fun to play, not what's purely high DPS.

If I could spec for ES without Black Arrow I would, but unfortunately we're not given that choice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gundersson on Survival's rhythm in 3.1

Gundersson wrote to me close to a week back about how Survival's shot rotation is shaping up in 3.1. His comments are in italics. My responses are below his quotes, in normal text.

Finding the rythm of survival a bit.. broken. Dunno what it is really. I don't like black-arrow. It's taken something iconic to Survial, traps, and replaced it with just another shot.

Not for me it hasn't. I don't have exact numbers in front of me due to maintenance, but for me, Black Arrow wouldn't do much more than 2k damage, tops, and Immolation Trap does nearly 5k with the glyph, and in less time. Immolation Trap still has a 10% periodic chance to proc L&L as well, which is the same as Black Arrow itself.

Immolation Trap also costs more on paper, at 9% base mana, but with Resourcefulness it actually only costs 3%, due to 60% reduced mana cost.

Black Arrow is meant as a mobile L&L proc during raids (I saw GC say as much in the DPS forum) or Heroics when you want to stand still and shoot, but you also don't want to use Freezing Arrow because you want damage attached to the proc ability as well. I also use it at times for reach; if I'm in range of a group of mobs and don't want to pull the others, depending on their distance away, I will use Black Arrow, Serpent, (or Wyvern, but if so, I'll fire Wyvern first) and ES to kill one of them.

While I'm farming, if I really want to drop a single non-elite target quickly, I use an Immolation Trap, Serpent with points in Imp Stings, (which gives me close to 7k damage in dots) and Explosive Shot. (6k if all three charges crit)

That is mana intensive, but it still does more damage than Serpent, Black Arrow, and ES. It will also more than kill any non-elite mob (12k-ish health, tops) in the game that I know of. Other than for pulling isolated mobs out of groups, I never use Black Arrow outside an instance.

Black-Arrow makes your immolation trap redundant. It makes moving around useless now. You kinda just stand there and repeat a shot rotation based on priority.

Mobility would only be redundant for single targets. For multiples, I tend to use a Frost Trap and for up to 3 targets, one Explosive Shot each from the Lock and Load proc, as well as Serpent on one of them as well. Once Frost is down, circle strafe around it at range, and use Thunderstomp to hold targets in place.

It feels like they've made Survival's playstyle the same as Marksman now. Considering that crowd control from what I've heard still doesn't exist in Ulduar, our strengths are pretty much still wasted.

I don't raid, personally. I wouldn't have even done more than one Heroic in the last month. I'm farming for my epic flying mount, and a few epic rings on the AH as well. I didn't go to Naxx other than three nights in an initial week, and I've only been to Sarth once as well. Naxx bored me, and IMHO the equivalent of T7 can be had outside it, as well. The Argent Crusade rep chest is at least on par with T7.

Aside from farming, I will very occasionally do battlegrounds, but that is rare due to the Paladin and Death Knight still being the OP abominations that they are now. The DK isn't actually entirely unkillable if Army of the Dead is on CD, but the Paladin is ridiculous.

Sniper training is even more reason to just stand in one place and hit buttons.

In an instance, sure; but the only time we've ever not had a stationary rotation in instances was for a very brief time between 3.0 and 3.0.8, before those unutterable %^&* (there simply are not words) on Elitist Jerks told everyone to abuse the proc rate of Lock and Load.

The timer on Black Arrow also throws out the rhythm. It's got a 30 second cooldown but a 15 second duration or something like that.

I probably wouldn't use it, but then again, I've never really worried about L&L procs in Heroics at least. Caring about it in raids is up to you, but if you use Serpent instead, if you've got the glyph you're still getting the +10% damage to Steady Shot, (which badly needs it) and given that it has a 20% RAP coefficient rather than Black Arrow's 10%, will likely do more damage as well, even after the +6%.

Monitoring it doesn't really add to the fun of gameplay. Serpent sting handled everything well enough. You got your serpent sting on the target and then you got into your rotation, you were left free to manouver and react to things.

Personally, I felt as though even Serpent slowed things down way too much. With Hunter's Mark, it meant two GCDs before I was into my full rotation. Now if you use Black Arrow as well, that's three.

Now it's like you're almost required to have tunnel vision.

As I said, I don't raid. I got 200g from a couple of guys to do a Scholomance run the other night; most fun I've had with the game in months, actually. I saw parts of the instance that I haven't before, and in addition to the money, they were very grateful, as well.

Some people might enjoy raiding, but personally I find I have a lot more fun if I don't go near it.

If you want to have fun in this game, stay up until 3-4 am one morning and look for a guy levelling his way through HFP who never got a Ramps run, or find four kids and have them give you 50g each to take them on an Emperor run in BRD. It might take you 2-4 hours, but you'll have a blast, and said kids will love you for it afterwards. It's the closest I'm ever likely to get to real fatherhood.

Varian Wrynn needs killing

Those of you who've read my own rp pieces here will know I'm not a fan of the King of Stormwind, but only a few minutes ago, I finished watching the new Ulduar trailer at Gaming Diva's blog.

I honestly can't think of a character from just about any fiction that I've read who I've despised as much. I suspect Blizzard's aim in designing Varian as a character was to create someone who'd inspire strong emotion, and it worked. I've wished I could have the opportunity to kill Wrynn in-game practically ever since the character was (more prominently, in 3.1) introduced. I need to find someone raiding Stormwind for the achievement sometime, methinks; I also need to make sure I make it first into the throne room. ;)

I think, truthfully, it's because he's such a warmonger. When I first started playing this game, I was actually very peaceful. I played on a PvP server because I had friends who did before I got into the game, and later learned active PvP purely out of necessity. Back then on Jubei'Thos, it got so bad with my Mage that I literally could not quest at all in contested areas; so I had to roll this Hunter and learn to fight back.

I won't claim to be as pacifist as Rilgon is; I probably wouldn't have survived my experience with the education system if I was pacifist. At high school though, I learned to fight in such a way that if it happened, it only ever happened once; the recipient became sufficiently afraid of me that I never had to do it again. I didn't like that, either; I don't like intimidating people, but sometimes I would put up with bullying for close to 6 months before finally doing something because it wouldn't stop.

Wrynn and Garrosh are the primary antagonists within WoW at the moment, and truthfully I don't like either of them. By the time 2.4 came around, I'd got used to the idea that the two factions didn't fight each other much in-game any more, and truthfully liked it.

I still enjoyed the battlegrounds as much as ever, yes, but I considered that more of a sport; and it never had the sort of nasty emotional edge to it that world PvP was able to get. I also remember the truth that at release, WoW was, originally, at its' heart a PvE game, despite what the Arena revisionists have tried to tell people at times.

The war between the Alliance and Horde should have been allowed to stay over, IMHO, and Garrosh and Varian should not have been introduced. The battlegrounds and the Arena worked well enough for PvP in practical terms; in lore terms, I feel Blizzard should move on to other things.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Solo Sethekk Halls

I realise I'm probably around 6 months behind everyone else here as usual, but I managed to solo Normal Sethekk Halls earlier today. I was actually very surprised at how easy it was, since at 70, even in Normal mode, this instance was always quite challenging for me.

It was, I admit, a very slow process; probably around 2 hours. I move very slowly and deliberately when soloing instances. About the only real trouble I had was with Darkweaver Syth, and I also had momentary difficulty with the Time-Lost Controllers as well, before I figured out a good set of tactics for them.

Darkweaver Syth has around 80k health from memory, and summons probably around half a dozen elemental adds. I died a few times with him at first because of being pre-occupied with trying to get the boar to tank the adds. I eventually figured out that I simply had to mow Syth down, and his adds would vanish on their own.

My strategy, then, was to send the boar in to Syth, then very carefully manage threat, while still trying to do fast damage until he was at 50% health. At that point, I'd pull threat; so what I did then was to feign death, drop a Frost Trap, and kite the adds in order to finish Syth off.

Ikiss also has about 85k health, and was enormously easy, which I was very surprised about, given how hard I remember him having been at 70. I sent the boar to him and then opened fire, and when I pulled threat, Ikiss blinked over to me. I ran around the other side of the nearest pillar during his arcane explosion, and then came back and resumed DPS.

For most people though, I'm not sure whether to recommend instance farming for really good money. I did another Ramps run today as well, and would have been lucky to make 50g out of it, all told. I possibly just had bad luck with drops though, because I'm pretty sure I've had 100g or so from there before.

Scholo isn't really an option any more either, since most of the blues there are devalued now, and nobody seems to want Dark Runes any more, either. The most money you'll probably make from a Scholo run now will likely be 60-70g for a really full clear, and most of that will come from blue non-recipe drops, and 20g from the AH for the average five stacks of Runecloth. I wouldn't bother trying to sell the Lifestealing and other recipes for more than 5-10g on the AH now, sad to say; I haven't seen them go for more than that since pre-WoTLK.

The good news is that Quel'Danas is still viable, (IMHO anywayz) especially as an augment to the 100g or so you'll get from the Icecrown dailies. I did the island earlier today, and made 90-95g or so. You get 12-16g from all of the non-flying dailies, and with not all that much farming, I made an extra 70g on top of that from trash and greens. Netherweave is still selling at around 6g a stack, too...and I got around 5 stacks of that, as well.

The respawn rate at the island is still as ludicrously fast as it always was, too; so the amount you can make is literally determined by the length of time you're willing to farm. Clear out one area with Thunderstomp and Volley, then go and do the same in a second area, and by the time you've finished in the second area, the first will have respawned.

I find it's faster to make money there than in Northrend sometimes because the island is small. I can round up a lot of relatively weak mobs and kill them all at once, and only have to travel a short distance to reach the next area and do it again. With Northrend, for the dailies at least, the Icecrown dailies are the only ones I know of which yield more than 10g each, and for the rest of them, you also have to travel to different zones, as well.

I feel that Northrend skinning is also good. I don't get Arctic Furs dropping a lot, but I can get 30-60g each for them on my server. 10g per stack is also fairly standard for Borean Leather, and altho the cave north of K3 has been nerfed (in terms of the spawn rate) it is still fairly good for leather.

So far, according to Accountant, I managed a profit of around 300g today, and I haven't done my Icecrown dailies yet, either.

For anyone with mining, that is probably considered laughably pathetic, but I feel it's ok. Although for miners who do their dailies as well, it's just even more money, and given the size of some of the gold sinks which exist now, (the mammoth, the Dalaran ring, etc) are any of us ever really going to say no to that?

Friday, April 17, 2009

A reunion

(This is a belated reply to Pike's, "There Was One She Still Missed.")


I was stripping the corpses of my most recent Undead kills in Sholazar, looking for scraps of the valuable cloth they had, which I could sell, when I noticed the gorilla with me was hungry again. Reaching into my pack, I carelessly threw him a banana, and continued.

As I worked, I realised that I wasn't close to the gorilla at all. It wasn't really fair of me; he was a good pet, and his ground shaking ability knocked down many of the Undead at once, and made them easier to hunt. I could tell that he was unhappy that I had not really bonded with him, as well.

I had also tamed a cat recently, as well. Her teeth and claws were sharp, and she was the pet I took when I hunted with others, although if I was honest, I only really took her to impress the other people I was with. There was a stronger connection with her than with the gorilla, but not much.

Thinking of this, my mind suddenly went back to my boar, and as it did, my head lowered involuntarily in grief and shame.

The boar was the greatest pet I had ever owned. My parents had been boar farmers, and he had been a gift from them to me, as a tiny piglet, on the day of my Rite of Choosing, when it was discovered that I was to be a Hunter, only a bare few months before we left Draenor. He had stayed with me during the Crossing to Azeroth, and the Blood-induced chaos which followed. We had grown up together.

During the most glorious days of my life, in Ashenvale, when I had fought with the Warsong Outriders, against the Silverwings, the boar had been with me then. He had helped me win countless victories.

When we were alone, in Desolace, in my youth, and suddenly a Night Elf rogue would be upon me, and there was no other help for miles, the boar would be between me and them, taking their blows upon himself, so that I could fight them off and save us both. He would be grievously injured sometimes, after those fights; I had to spend hours bandaging him. Yet he never hesitated to do it, as many times as was necessary.

And for this service, for his sharing of my victories, and my losses, and his protection of me with his life; for his having spent most of his entire existence with me, I had rewarded him... abandoning him in a wooden cage, to rot.

At that thought, I knew I had to get him out. I hearthed back to Dalaran, where the sun was just in the process of slipping down below the horizon. I stabled the gorilla, and had been about to go and get the boar out, when I heard the sound, coming from the next stall.

It wasn't the usual squealing or grunting. It was a long, slow, keening wail. I hadn't heard it since my childhood; I used to hear it during my parents' work. It was the sound a pig made right before it went to the slaughter, when it knew its' life was about to end. It was filled with grief.

I went back out, and looked at the Blood Elf stablemistress.

"He has been making that noise ever since you left him here," she said to me. "Every single night, for months. In all of the years I've worked here, I've never seen an animal so unhappy."

I went back and let him out. There was a pause, as I don't think he believed it was really me, and then he leapt at me, snorting, snuffling, grunting, and licking my face, his own face still wet with his tears, which after a few moments, mingled with my own. The stablemistress smiled at us both.

"I gather you'll be taking him with you?" She asked me.

I looked down at the boar, who was still running in circles over the fact that I was back, and nodded to her, smiling myself now.

We went back to Sholozar together, and fought some more Undead for their cloth. I had to go a bit more slowly with him than with the cat or gorilla, but I didn't mind.

There were, so people told me, more formidable pets than a boar. Pet types which were fiercer, had claws. My boar, like me, also wasn't getting any younger, and there would come a time when we were both too old to hunt any more.

I could accept that. For a Hunter, a pet wasn't just another weapon. Most of the time, it was the only other company we had. A pet ideally was an extension and mirroring of your own soul.

A companion.

Others could say there were more effective fighting pets if they wished. The boar was mine, and we would die together, as we had lived together. As we sat together after nightfall, when I'd made camp in a safer part of Sholozar, I swore to him that I would never forsake him again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A post to GamingDiva

Another non-WoW related post here; for those of you who don't like those, sorry about that guys. This is going to be a post about vegetarianism. I'm initially going to outline, more fully, my reasons for being interested in it, and then I'm going to ask GamingDiva if she would be willing to offer some advice about one potential health issue which I've read about online.

I also realise that the response to this, from one or two of the people who still read me is possibly going to be, "We don't care. This is a personal issue. Keep it to yourself." As I've said before though, guys; my blog, my house rules. If you don't like it, I don't mind if you don't read. If it wasn't for wanting to ask GamingDiva for some guidance, I wouldn't be writing it at all, most likely; but seeing as I am, you're going to get the whole thing.

My other motivation in writing this post is to hopefully help some other people who might, on an offchance, be in the same position, have some concerns, and be looking for advice. Gundersson told me via Gmail once that something I should do with the blog was to continue to be honest about the things that are important to me; so I'm going to.

In a comment on one of my earlier posts, GamingDiva mentioned being vegan, and having written about it. I was very happy to learn that she mentions being healthy from it, as well.

Given both the picture of Kali at the top of the page, and some of the other things I've written, people could be forgiven for thinking that I've wanted to do this for religious reasons, but it isn't actually that at all.

It's fundamentally health related, and there are three specific issues:-

  • Cancer risk.

    At least 50% of the people who I have known personally, have died of cancer; several of them prematurely. I thus feel a particular determination and interest in avoiding this disease and/or reducing my risk of the development of it.

    My grandfather, who I live with, is currently dying of what was originally prostate cancer which has now gone to his skeletal system, and he also suffers from a damaged lymphatic system, due to chemotherapy. His wife, my grandmother, died in 2000 of what was originally bowel cancer which later spread throughout her entire body. They both ate beef twice a day, every day, for 60 years.

    My aunt, also on my mother's side of the family, also died of cancer around three years after my grandmother. A lifelong friend of my mother's recently passed away from cancer, in her early 60s, after a battle with it of probably 20 years. A cousin of my father, had a son who died of leukemia at the age of around 23. These last three individuals were the most kind, altruistic, and loving people that I have ever known, and I have never entirely recovered from their loss.

    The last cancer casualty was my father's eldest brother, my uncle, who died in possibly 2002.

    I have recently read that vegetarianism, statistically speaking, can reduce cancer risk by as much as 40%.

  • A single kidney.

    I had a kidney removed at the age of 13, due to kidney stones. As a result, among other things, I have to exercise extreme caution in eating large amounts of heavy proteins. (I.e., red meat)

    As much as I love the taste of it, there have been times when, after having a large meal of kangaroo meat, I have woken up the next day to find disturbingly large amounts of dried blood staining my pillowcase, from nosebleeds due to heightened blood pressure. I have also on at least one occasion, had a debilitating attack of gouty arthritis, following a week of particularly heavy meat consumption, which is linked to kidney trouble.

  • Weight loss.

    I am not morbidly obese, but I am overweight. Although I also need to increase my level of exercise, from what I have been reading, if it is effectively conducted, vegetarianism can be a very effective way of doing this.

  • Prevention of allergies.

    I also suffer from severe allergic rhinitis, and I suspect the cause is at least partially based in diet. I am not sure, but it is my hope that careful vegetarianism could cure, or at least effectively treat this condition as well.

My question to GamingDiva is this; the single potential major health problem which I've read about online is hypothyroidism, which from what I've been reading, is primarily associated with heavy consumption of millet and tofu in particular. From what I've been able to discover, seems to be at least moderately prevalent among vegetarians. I know you said that you're completely healthy as a vegan yourself, but do you know of anyone else who is vegan who has that condition?

I haven't actually started on trying to be entirely vegetarian yet, and my answer to the above issue was actually to go and see a GP at some point this week, and ask if I could undergo blood tests for my levels of thyroid hormone once a fortnight, during a meatless trial period of one month. I think at this point I've gathered enough information to at least begin.

As an example of what I'm going to be having for dinner this evening, I came up with the idea of a tofu, sliced mushroom, lettuce, and refried bean sandwich; I figured the idea of mixing a number of different proteins would work best. I've already had millet with soy sauce, which I liked, but I think I will possibly also try some fruit with quinoa as well.

My biggest issue was finding a staple protein source which wasn't implicated as cause of hypothyroidism, as tofu and millet both are. I am going to eat both of those for the first month, and my results there will determine whether or not I continue.

I have also read about quinoa, which is essentially millet without a thyroid inhibitor, and mushrooms as primary protein sources. There are of course a lot of nuts which I can also viably use, however given that I am without teeth, they will have to be crushed.

What's Survival's Rhythm?

This is in response to Pike's most recent post, Don't Panic.

In that post, she mentions temporarily respeccing Survival and not being able to identify the rhythm of Surv's shot rotation.

In answering this, I'm going to confess to having done something recently which many will consider objectionable. Before you panic, however, understand that I'm not advocating doing this for raiding, but that it is going to be relevant to my answer to Pike, even where raiding is concerned, and I will explain why.

I don't raid at all at the moment, or even run Heroics much, but for soloing my dailies (and other farming as I continue to work towards saving for epic flight) I recently respecced out of Explosive Shot and Lock and Load.

The reason why is that Explosive Shot, in its' current state, is overpowered for soloing as Survival. There were a couple of times while doing the dailies at Onslaught Harbour where, when using ES, unless I exclusively used a Gorilla, I would die if I ended up with a group of 4-5 adds, because it made my threat completely uncontrollable with either a Ferocity or Tenacity pet, and mobs were on me constantly.

So now I'm back to the tactics I was using during TBC, where I lean very heavily on Serpent Sting, Immolation Trap, and pure autoshot after that, and sometimes Frost Trap for groups.

With groups, after putting Frost Trap down, if I keep Mend Pet up and micromanage Growl on each target, I can go through half a dozen mobs at once, or a dozen single targets in sequence, without drinking or using Viper.

My point, Pike, is that even with ES in a raid/Heroic, Survival's rhythm isn't about a set sequence of around half a dozen different movements, but rather about individual sets of stimulus-response pairs. My emphasis isn't on proactively attacking a target in the same sense as Beast Mastery's is, but rather on reactively making use of rapid instinct/intuition to respond either to the target's attacks, or spell-related events.

I don't know if you've ever done sed scripting in Linux, Pike, or dynamic raw Internet protocol transactions, (mail, http, or ftp, where you're not using a preprogrammed client, but rather a pure telnet/socket connection and the commands straight from the RFC/protocol description) but a very similar principle is involved. We have to use intuition in order to be able to react very rapidly on our feet, to conditions as they occur. That is also why the meditative state helps; when you go into it, from your perspective, your reaction time isn't actually fast at all. It's very slow.

Serpent Sting wears off, I put it back up. L&L procs, I change my rotation to fire ES 3 times. My traps come off CD, I use Freezing Arrow to give me another L&L proc on a target in an instance. Think of a pair of metronome ticks.

Watch this video on YouTube, for the classic example of what I'm talking about here. You will notice that Neo is depicted as being in a detached/meditative state, and a couple of times when speaking to Rakan, (another Survival Hunter) he also spoke of entering this state when playing Surv as well, particularly while in the Arena. Alumatine was very good at entering the flow state as well.

Notice also that with one exception, Neo's tactics are exclusively defensive in nature. Pike in particular has heard me compare Survival with the Soresu lightsaber form from Star Wars, as well.

For instancing or raiding, that means getting into intuitive sync with each of your procs on an individual basis, and responding to them as they occur. I don't ideally focus on the damage meter with Surv in Heroics. My focus instead is shared between my procs, my threat meter, sometimes my trap cooldowns, and whether our healer or anyone else has adds. As Mynithrosil once said, Survival ideally leaves damage to the DPS classes. ;P

For soloing, it means we use our higher hit points, and the fact that our lower damage (without ES at least) will not cause our threat to become uncontrollable. I can keep four mobs at once on my boar, and kill them sequentially, one by one if I'm not excessively hasty about spamming damage.

When I'm really playing the way I enjoy, Survival is a form of relaxation for me. I go to Onslaught Harbour, or sometimes the Sunken Temple, and (semi)meditate.

It is also, when used in that manner, application of force in exactly the way that the Tao Te Ching describes. Very gentle, very slow...and utterly invincible.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Back in the game

My younger brother is away with his girlfriend for a few days at the moment, so I am taking advantage of the opportunity to get in some WoW time.

I did my first instance for probably a month earlier last night. It wasn't a Heroic because there weren't any going; it was Normal Utgarde Keep. The other people seemed to appreciate the help, though, and even though I'm still only a bare 2k DPS, it seemed to speed things along a bit, as well.

An interesting thing; I also got several /flirt emotes for the first time in a long time, as well. As I at times have perhaps mentioned, I'm not female myself, but the toon was designed on the basis of what I often do find attractive in terms of the opposite sex.

I can see you all shuddering and wincing in horror here, and you're dead right; as I've written before, I consider my attraction to this type of women to be a curse, to the point where I've been celibate since leaving my last ex-girlfriend, and at this point, will remain so for the foreseeable future.

As far as my last ex-girlfriend was concerned, there were some major coincidences associated with her and the film Sheena, based on the comic Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. My ex's name, without mentioning it specifically, contained elements of the name of both the character from that film, and the actor. Her brother once told me that his nickname for her was, "the Queen of the Jungle," as well, due to her volatile personality. Aside from this film's actor herself, I'd also only ever seen three other women who resembled the ex physically, and without any exaggeration, all three of them had been working in the porn industry.

As gloriously intense as such a she-wolf was in the sack, things quickly became so unpleasant in every other aspect of our relationship that my interest even in the sexual side of things diminished rapidly as well. In real world terms, I don't want that type of woman any more, but I don't seem to be able to avoid running into them. My only real attraction to them is purely sexual; in most other respects I actually find them deeply repugnant, as rage can pose an insurmountable obstacle to genuine intimacy.

So to a degree it has surprised me at times, when people in-game have occasionally (although not all that often) expressed that they consider Mirsh visually attractive. Of course, I do myself, but I didn't expect anyone else to do so.

I think the concept of the proverbial wild woman is something a lot of us are attracted to on some level or another; however that is the point. We're attracted to the concept, but if we're smart, this is one fantasy which doesn't become reality. I learned that the hard way, over the space of six years. I'm going to want the next woman I get involved with to have the most introverted, boring personality on the face of the planet, and compared to what I've already experienced in life, while that might not be as much fun sexually, it will be comparitive bliss everywhere else.

Sarah Connor might well be the shag of the century, but she's still a lot less pleasure than pain. As much as my libido might love the idea of Orcish women, in the future my heart will only be won by a woman who keeps the Blood Fury procs to a minimum. ;-)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

One of my greatest pleasures

I was at a shopping centre with my mother yesterday, and when she went to a bottle shop there herself to buy some vodka, I ran into one of these rare treasures. I've experienced the 8 year aged variant of Wild Turkey before, but had never bought a bottle of this.

I am, as I write, currently enjoying a double of this with Coke, and it is much more smooth than a single when mixed with the lowest grade version. There is apparently also, from what I have seen online, a 15 year aged Wild Turkey variant available, and I will have to track down a bottle of that in due course, as well.

This is not, I will confess, a mild form of alcohol. ;) The standard Wild Turkey is 43.4%, and 86.8 proof. Rare Breed, this particular variety, carries an alcohol volume of 54.2%, or 108.2 barrel proof.

Guywired, a fellow Survival Hunter, actually made a thread about his recognition of the archetypical synergy between Surv and bourbon when Big Red Kitty's forums first opened, and he is entirely correct.

It is worth noting that Wild Turkey in particular, actually owes its' name to real life Hunters. The drink apparently got its' name due to having first been made by turkey shooters.

To my American readers, I will say that there are certain elements of your country's culture which I am deeply enamoured with, and will be forever grateful for. While there are truthfully very few forms of alcohol which I can stomach, Wild Turkey will, I strongly suspect, always be my poison of choice. The company actually calls the 15 year aged version, "the American spirit," and were I American myself, I would very much consider the drink something worthy of patriotic fervour. ;-)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yet Another Non-WoW Blog Post

Hey everyone,
Unfortunately my brother's ban from the shared account didn't last very long; he is in his room as we speak, blissfully asleep, while Bit Torrent presumably runs, causing me a 10 or so second lag on DNS lookups, and an average of around 4000 ms latency if I try and play WoW. Hence, I'm probably going to try and get my phone account moved to this house in the next week, and get my own net account back.

I will also mention a couple of other non-WoW related activities that I've engaged in recently as well, as they might interest some people. I'm seeing a lot of people leave both the game and the blogosphere recently, but my own recent absence notwithstanding, I think it is important for people to try and maintain contact with each other, if we can.

First off, I've had an impulse to begin a minor self-improvement phase, recently. I've started doing these exercises once a day, for about a week now, as well as periodically (but not as regularly) doing this.

I'm also making changes to my diet. Aside from maybe a single daily can or bottle, I'm off Coca Cola entirely and have instead switched to a combination of water and green tea. Although it has admittedly only been a week, I've noticed substantially less sinus problems as a result of this, and I also seem a little more relaxed than when I was primarily on Coke, as well.

While I certainly can't claim to be truly vegetarian, I'm again attempting to make another transition to that as well. Although it generally hasn't lasted, at least so far, I tend to make such an attempt every couple of years, primarily because of the degree of food allergies which I seem to have. I got hold of some millet yesterday and tried it boiled, and found it interesting, but I've read some worrying information about it potentially causing hypothyroidism as well.

The third recent thing I've started doing, tying into the above, is supplementation with a few different vitamins, minerals, and herbs. B complex, Zinc, CoQ10, (all three of these are good for energy and general wellbeing) a Gingko/fish oil combo, (Gingko is good for blood circulation, memory and concentration, and the genuine enlargement of a particular extremity which you might have heard a Troll mention once ;)) and a liver detox formulation which includes milk thistle, celery seed, and a few other things.

Lastly, over the last two days I've also reinstalled Ubuntu Linux, and have begun to again sporadically work on my own planned Linux From Scratch based system. It is slow going, but I'm getting there. I tend to read this site during compiles; for people who enjoyed the Terminator movies, it's great stuff!