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Archive for February, 2010

Almost There…

Divergent is now 78 and a bit. 80 is within sight. I am going to have to make a concerted effort to finish leveling her. Bought some made requires-level-78 tanky pieces, and will splurge more as needed. My goal with her is to tank heroics and the occasional old raid (Naxx etc). I’d like to get the experience but I’m not sure I’ll get her ICC geared. I’ve already got Analogue for the fresh content, and I like healing a lot better than tanking. Not to say tanking isn’t fun! But I know the reason why I am enjoying it is that I enjoy the paladin mechanisms. Hit things with giant hammers made of light? Yes, please.

Still, watch out battlegroup! There’s a new heroic tank about to launch…

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An Experiment

This weekend, Reversion and I are going to try an experiment. We’ll get on our tank and heals and stand in Trade spamming for three dps with GearScore *below* 4k. Maybe 4.2k if we can’t find any lower than that. They need to be willing to take constructive criticism though; we’ve both played enough classes that we can spot really wrong things pretty quickly.

Then we’ll run some instances, and see what we can see. Gear != skill. However, a high gear score says you have ground out X number of instances or raids, and therefore should be able to play your class well. This doesn’t actually see to be true, based on all the 5k gear score doing 2k dps we run into all the time.

Looking forward to the results; stay tuned.

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Callin’ you out!

So there I was, in Dire Maul, with my little Disc priest Verðandi (it’s pronounced “Verthandy” and it’s the name of a Norn and a reference to the female lead in the “Ah My Goddess” manga), Reversion with his prot warrior Consistant ready for a few hours wandering around killing ghosts and gaining XP. The dps arrive; a mage, a warlock, and this guy.

Our buddy Iceknight starts off just fine, by backing into one of the trees that pat around the place. Oh well, that happens, we don’t wipe. We start clearing and I keep noticing him at the very back of the fight. Like, behind me. He’ll run in at the very end. Is he some sort of weird ranged DK, the counterpart to the fabled melee hunter? Anyway, after a couple fights I ask if he’s paying attention.

“LOL guild chat” he says, having done nothing but jump up and down for the last few pulls. Rev links Recount and we ask him to step it up (note: his DPS was fine, but he was contributing a full 6% of the damage. I was doing almost 1% with reflective shield damage).

Well, a couple more pulls, he’s still doing nothing, so we call him out again and then – he runs over to the next group of adds and starts tanking them. I stand there and we watch as his health dips – then the mage has to spoil it by running in and arcane exploding, so Rev picks up the aggro and the DK lives.

“LOL how’s that” he asks. The “Vote Kick” pops up on my screen, and he’s gone so fast his eyeballs must be spinning.

We got a really on top of it Balance druid who Typhooned appropriately, saved us by battle rezzing me, and did three times as much damage as the tank. Thanks for being such a jerk that everyone was willing to kick you right off, IceknIght!

Moral: people in random pugs put up with a lot, but not even pretending to try will get you kicked fast. Normal human social mores mean that most of the time, someone who tries and sucks will be tolerated long past the point where someone who clearly isn’t trying will be kicked. Since “tries and sucks” makes my life just as miserable as “not trying at all”, I wonder sometimes why that is…

(PS – Verdandy’s armory still looks pretty dire; she skipped the levels between 28 and 54 thanks to Recruit-A-Friend’s level-granting feature and our AH was a bit… weak)

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So there is this bug with trying in off spec, right? Everyone knows about it, I’m sure. Or maybe not…

When you have dual spec and train, two things happen to the other spec. One is that the buttons on your action bars for the other spec are not updated with the new rank of spell. The other is that if you have a spec specific spell over there it does not get trained at all. The trainer will not even offer it to you.

This makes perfect sense to long time players of the game. We can remember when the book showed all ranks and there was no way to hide the low ones. We can remember when the buttons did not auto update. After each training session we had to mouse over each button and check that it was not new. Or just check through our books for the stuff that we had trained.

Because of this offspec bug , someone went and made an addon that detects low rank spells. It is called RankWatch and it is really freaking handy. Any time anyone in your party casts something, RankWatch checks if that spell rank was the max rank for their current level. If it is not it pops up a notice. Depending on how you have it set the warning can just go to you, or it can be whispered to them. You can even set it to spam the notices in party chat so everyone sees it.

The message is pretty self explanatory. It tells you that you’ve used a spell rank lower than the max rank, what the max rank at your level is, and suggests you may have forgotten to train, or have an out of date spell on your bar.It is a great tool. It is most helpful for people still leveling or if you pug with newly 80 players a lot. What is most interesting about the addon is how people react.

A thoughtful and knowledgeable player usually just whispers ‘thanks’ and updates their bars. On the next pull the messages stop and the party continues clearing the dungeon. But not everyone is thoughtful or knows anything about this whole ‘ranks’ think. These people usually whisper back ‘huh?’ or ‘what?’ or something equally responsive. Then you have to explain what the addon is trying to say. This involves repeating exactly what the message Rankwatch sent says. But maybe using fewer words, or shorter ones, so that the person can figure out what was already said to them. The real shining stars of intellectual power have to have it explained two or three times. Sometimes they get it. Other times they INSIST what you are saying is impossible.

My favorite example was a few weeks ago. My wife and I were running something… I think it was HCoS. As is usual for our runs we did a quick mouse-over check of gear score. I know I know people like to rant “GS isn’t everything!!!”. It isn’t, but it does tell you some things. In a Pug it can tell you what you are in for. I guess you might call it profiling. Some of us don’t think that is a bad word. You see I can see that 5k GS hunter over there, with the ghost cat pet, does not take heroic runs seriously, or think he needs to do his best in there. He things having a cooler looking pet is more important than doing the best dps he can for the group. Then again if that hunter with the vanity pet has a GS just breaking 3k I know he is a new 80. This is where RankWatch comes in.

Sure enough, we start the first pull and RankWatch lights up with all sorts of announcements. This guy has not updated his bars. So much so that some of his stuff is more than one rank low. Alright, no biggy, we are used to this sort of thing.

“Huh?” says the hunter.
“Update your bars” I say.
“Wa?”
“You stuff is downranked. Update them from your spell book.” – Me.
“No it isn’t.” – Him
“It is, just drag the new ones to your bar” I say.

Silence. In the mean time I see his pet is growling.
“Take your pet off growl.” I say.
“He isn’t.” The hunter says. I watch the three lines pop up over a mob’s head as he says this.
“Yes he is. I can SEE it.” I say.
“I swear he isn’t. I checked.” The pet does it again.
“We can all SEE it.” I say.

Silence. Mysteriously, the ‘growl’ lines stop appearing. Heh. Meanwhile Rankwatch continues to chatter away about half his spell book. Finally I toggle it to start spamming the party chat.
“What is that?” asks one of the other dps.
“Oh that just means the hunter has not updated his bars.” I say.
“I SWEAR my stuff is up to date.” the hunter defends himself.
“Dude, the LOG does not lie.” I them proceed to give him a third detailed explanation of why the ranks get bugged, how Bliz has not fixed it, and how the addon is using the actual logs to report things.

Silence. By now we are half way through the CoS run. From here to the end of the run RankWatch, still reporting to party chat, slowly stops reporting on his stuff. He is finally updating his bars. At the end of the run he was all thankful for our help getting his bars fixed.
Heh. Rankwatch > liar.

There was another run where the guy did not argue with it but was a new flavor of fail.
I don’t recall if I was tanking or healing this run, or what it was, might have been Nexus. After the first couple Rankwatch whispered spams he says in party, “Can you make that stop spamming me?”
I reply, “It goes away if you update your bars.”
“It says you will make it stop if I don’t want to hear it. Make it stop,” he said.
“Just update your spells from your book. It stops automatically.”

This continued for a couple more exchanges before he decided to put me on ignore. Rank watch stopped chattering after that. I am not sure if he got what I was saying, and updated his stuff, or if it does not whisper someone who /ignores you.

Fortunately the majority of people who see RankWatch spam just say ‘thanks’ and update their bar. Many of them even ask for the name of the add-on so they can get it. Of course it also catches those total morons who started running heroics before bothering to train their 80 skills. But those are stories for another day.

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Leveling Together

World of Warcraft is the biggest MMO game out there, so why does it often feel like a really slow single-player game while you’re leveling? If your newbie character is not in a guild, or in a guild without many others at the same level, it can feel like just you against the world, killing hundreds and hundreds of liver-less boars. Not fun.

Blizzard has worked to make the game as social as possible. Nowhere is this more apparent than the LFG tool. Even at low levels you can queue up and be put into a group that Blizzard builds for you, ported into and out. Even so, if you’re not leveling a healer or tank, you may have long stretches of wait time in between those instances, or maybe you just don’t feel like instances. What’s the solution?

Well, a leveling buddy of course! Could be a spouse or significant other (which makes WoW into quality time! Yay!) or a sibling or a friend, but the idea is that you have a pair of characters that level together. If your buddy is new to WoW, you can do the recruit-a-friend system and the levels will go past so fast you can’t blink, but either way, it’s a good way to keep WoW social. If you’re rolling a pair of characters to level together, consider these points.

1. Complimentary Classes – two Holy priests may take a while to level. A Holy priest and a warrior, on the other hand, will kill lots of things and not die very often. A hunter and a mage is a good combo, if the hunter can use his pet to tank while the mage kills stuff. A Ret paladin (to level 40 or so, then spec Prot) and a druid with a hybrid balance/resto spec are unstoppable together.

2. Complimentary skills – One of you wants to be a jewelcrafter, one wants to be a blacksmith. Only one of you needs to learn mining to keep the duo supplied, so maybe the other can pick up engineering or something totally unrelated.

3.  Have a Backup Plan – the key to “leveling duo” is the two characters need to stay close together in levels. If one can’t play for a few sessions, resist the urge to keep going on the other or all of a sudden you’ll be eight levels apart and have to either break up the duo or take time and level up the lagging member.

4. Communicate – If you’re in the same room, it’s easy. If you’re miles apart, a phonecall or voice chat makes playing together easier and more like actually spending time together.

5. Resist the urge to Cheat – Don’t pull out your level 80 character to kill a quest boss that’s just too tough for you and your bud, or run your partner through the Stockades. The point is to level a pair of characters together, not take turns power leveling. Instead find new solutions and learn something about your new class. Remember when Wrath hit and there were all these high-level death knights running around with no clue what their skills actually did? That happens when you get power leveled, too.

Other Ideas? Reversion and I are altaholics, we freely admit this. I think it’s made us better players on our mains, and it’s a nice break. If you’ve got suggestions for pair leveling, let me know – Cataclysm is coming and our goblins aren’t going to level themselves…

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Inspired by the horror stories at Pugging Pally, a little tale of levelling LFG woes.

Today Reversion and I pulled out another pair of old alts and moved them to the new server. After a quick respec to discipline, my 54 priest Verdandi was ready to try healing his little gnome warrior. We queued up and got BRD.

Bad sign one: it was already in progress. Got there and there were two warriors, one standing around and one dead somewhere in the instance. And he’d released, but he was asking for a res. Fortunately the other warrior knew where he was and lead us to the golem room. We rezzed, we buffed, we – wiped. Got too many groups.

We lost the other dps at that point. At some point a hunter came in, but I forget where. We ran back. Halfway there, Warrior 2, the one who had asked for a rez before says “can you rez me, I was running back and I fell in the lava”.

Now I’m really confused. As far as I could tell he had not been alive again since our wipe. Did he mean the lava outside? I asked. No, he replied, inside, near where the chains held up the platform. I determine from this that he means inside Blackrock Mountain, not inside the instance, and point out that since we’re not on the same server I can’t exactly rez him.

We get back to where we wiped and – his body is still there. I realize at this point that he was running back as a ghost, fell in the lava, and either couldn’t figure out how to get out or… unknown. I’m still not sure he understood the difference between “inside the instance” and “inside the mountain”.

The group broke up two wipes later mostly because that corpse run is so dang long. Blizzard, we’re lazy these days, can you please shorten corpse runs?

A few quests later, Verdandi is now 55 and we queue up and get Dire Maul. Also in progress. They’d killed the big tree and off we go to the big room with the dog. We’ve got a rogue, and hunter, and a druid. The rogue instantly starts commenting on me being only 55, which I ignore. We start clearing the room and die when the dps keeps aggroing more pats. By now I’m getting comfortable with healing in discipline. (Side note: this may not be the best way to level a priest but I hate Holy, and I want to heal instances on our way up. Disc just seems more fun)

We clear the pylons and the shield doesn’t come down, so we go looking for the other ones. The rogue is being really chatty and reveals that he is 10 and asks how old we are. I admit to my age and he asks if I’m married yet. Not sure he believed me when I said I was married to the tank :)

More wiping, mostly due to my lack of mana. I can heal one or two groups but not more, and it takes forever to get mana again with the stupid morning glory dew. Ugh.

We go upstairs, kill a pylon, come downstairs, the shield’s not down. Then finally we find the one in the center courtyard that we’ve walked past twice. And head upstairs to take out the final one, and get eaten by a hunter boss. Come back, pull too much trash, wipe. Come back – and finally down the hunter, though not before I, the druid, and Rev’s tank all die. We run back – and there’s respawns, so we call it.

Well, the Outlands instances are shorter and easier to get around in, I just need another 3 levels.

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Build a Better Alt

Getting Started

Part 1 of an occasional series

Step 1:  Choose your Class. Try something really different from your main, and watch your main’s playstyle improve. Every tank should play a healer. Every dps should have to tank a few instances. Every healer should get a chance to lob fireballs at gnolls. Ranged dps? Try a melee class. But make sure it’s something that appeals to you!

Step 2: Choose your Race. Unless you’re limited by your class, you should have a few races to choose from. Consider the racial bonuses – Gift of the Naruu is a nice racial for a class that has no heal, for instance. Consider the starting zone – if your last character was a Night Elf, maybe try a Gnome for a change (or even roll on the opposite faction for a real change)

Now choose your name, configure your apprearance, log in – and then log out, noting your new name, and log onto your main.

Step 3: Shopping Spree! Buy Heirlooms from the Heirloom vendor in Dalaran (next to the Badge Vendors), Wintergrasp (in the courtyard) or if you’re a Crusader, at the Argent Crusade in the tent. Your priority list is chest, shoulders, then weapon and trinkets. The chest and shoulders grant 10% extra XP each, for everything – exploring, kills, turn ins. Get these.

Pro tip: if you know you want lots of alts and you think you’ll be short on emblems/marks/whatever for the gear, buy the cloth shoulders and equip them even on your baby pally. At low levels, the silly stats and lack of armor mean a lot less than the 10% XP gain.

Now send your alt the gear, some cash (20 gold will keep your newbie happy for a long time) and a set of bags. While you can deck Mini-You out in Frostweave Bags, did you know that  mageweave bags don’t bind on equip? So your alt can use them, gradually replace them on her own, and send them on to another alt?

Step 4: Profit! Get your noob to a mailbox, pull out the goodies, then backtrack and start leveling! You’ll find it a lot easier to level the second time around. LFG starts at 15,  your mount will come at level 20, buy a portal to Dalaran and set your stone there and travel will be much simpler.

Don’t Forget Your Professions: it’s easier to level them up with you than to learn them at max level. Try to pick some your main doesn’t have.

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