Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Arthas & Co. will have to wait

So here we are... Patch 3.3 imminent, wedding imminent and I am ready to go all guns blazing. I hope I do not confuse the church with Icecrown and yell to the priest (the real one...) 'die Arthas'!!!

Oh well, I bet you can imagine how I feel now. My guild is about to venture to Icecrown, the very instance I waited for years. They are ready to unleash our newly-replenished, mighty, raiding-team to fight the Scourge and get epic and legendary loot. Ready to crunch our way to the ranking ladder once again. Eager to slay all those that oppose us and forcefully immerse themselves to the ending of the most popular part of the Warcraft lore. Well, as much of the lore as they will see in a couple of weeks, anyway...

Nevertheless, I wont be around. Not for a while at least. Although, I will have a brief chance to see the new instances in the next couple of days till the wedding. Well, that is if my wife-to-be allows me to do so... You know how women are...

I am happy because the guild has seemingly recovered from a bad period when it comes to raiding. But we kept our cool and our composure and we are back again with what appears like a capable roster. And we will continue to strengthen more. And if all goes as planned, get some nice ranking kills. I will be away for two weeks and I am confident my guildmates will carve their way into Icecrown.

On the other hand I am about to enter a new territory in my real life. That of a married man. Whatever than means. Sounds like a role-playing thing if you ask me. Without the dragons. Well, the non-hostile ones :p. And epic rings. I am not sure what lies ahead. Only thing I know is that me, my wife and our dog are about to enter a new era. And I feel good about that too.

So, just as Escape will unleash hell to Icecrown, we will visit NYC for our honeymoon and the ultimate urban fix.

Arthas will have to wait till we get back. See ya in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Effectiveness VS Efficency


Effectiveness is doing the right things. Efficiency is doing things right.

What I am often skeptical about is what `doing' means. Merely 'doing' or actually achieving what you initially set out to do? Cause, if your goals are not achieved... you are definitively not effective, no matter how efficient you tried to be. But if you were effective, where you as efficient as you could be?. So for the sake of argument...

Effectiveness is achieving your goal doing the right things. Efficiency is achieving your goal by doing things right.

With my definition, being rather close to the Greek translation of the word, efficiency implies effectiveness. Nonetheless, effectiveness does not necessarily imply efficiency.

I have started writing a post, a few minutes ago, on guild policies and ethics. Somewhere in the middle of my rumbling I got stuck, re-thinking of what exactly I am trying to put across. You see, I am a fan of efficiency. I like things done in a clear, defined and well documented way. The latter part in particular is essential. Guild ethics and rules do not only have to be clearly defined, they need to be conveyed, particularly by the guild members actions. The obsession with efficiency is probably due to my academic and engineering background, as I do not merely want to make things work, I want to make them work with minimal cost, effort and time.And yes, I know everybody wants that but... bear with me :p

I often see that this efficiency is not desired by those around me. People have different needs and the extend one goes to achieve his or her goals varies. People like to go from A to B in circles, or zig-zag, others in a straight line. People walk, fly, crawl. That variety is definitely part of what makes us human. But it is also the reason we rely on deterministic machines to do a great many things in life. Or the reason anything advanced is often based on standards. Because merely being effective is ok. But being efficient in modern time saves money, time and... keeps the blood pressure down.

World of Warcraft is essentially the same. Its a large shared virtual environment, even larger bearing in mind the community of players as a whole and not specifically that of a class/server/guild or any sub-grouping available. People bring their personalities in-game and although the set of actions that one can perform is far less than that of real life, many observations from our real world apply in Azeroth as well. People in WoW are every bit as ineffective, or far more frequently inefficient as in real life.

Take a guild for example. Whats its purpose? Mainly collaboration. People come together, just as real life associations, to achieve efficiency. Nowadays, more than ever in WoW, one can be merely effective in-game by joining a pug, doing the same instances that everybody else does, albeit in normal modes or a tad later than others. There is of course a group of players that come together to do more things faster, with less resources spent (time is the key here) and with greater ease (that blood pressure mentioned above). Therefore do things with efficiency. And there is a group of players ignorant to the above but we leave those for the wolves to eat...

However, people often confuse those terms and start bending guild rules, become less vigilant in performing their best or completely disregard anything that augments collaboration. They initially are happy with merely being effective and gradually become self-absorbed, self-seeking and self-serving. Shattering any notion of effectiveness, let alone efficiency.

I can not help wondering, why these people stay in a guild. Or even worse, why a guild puts up with them. I appreciate they may have a social value. However, in terms of the guilds' purpose not only they do not add any value but they also affect negatively their peers. Being put aside as reserves is the polite way of dealing with them. I bet you know the non-polite (high)way.

The solution of course to this issue is efficiency. Yes, the very same notion one tries to achieve, is the basis of achieving them. Efficiency in defining and applying guild rules and ethics. Excruciatingly militaristic efficiency, even for the casual-est of casual guilds. Because above all, a guild must preserve its self. It must cater even for the smallest things with great effort, or it will become something else entirely. A collection of inefficient individuals, branded together with no apparent goal. And there is no Escape from that...

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Raiding, Marriage and tales from the crypt

I'll tell you one thing's for sure. Preparing for a wedding is like preparing for a raid. One, you need the proper gear. Two, you need consumables. Three, you got to do some reading beforehand. Four, you assemble a group and assign roles. Five, you wear rings...epic ones...and halos. And you videotape it and take screenshots for you to remember it. And people whisper...and behind your back. And you send invites! And people kinda sign-up and come over and eat consumables. And there are beasts and formidable creatures!! You know, ugly aunts and good looking females. And at the end of the day you are - hopefully - left with some extra gold and some loot. God dammit, getting married is like going into a fucking raid!!

I am sure you can appreciate that preparations are taking quite a bit of time and especialy hinder my blogging. But I have never been a very frequent blogger. Nonetheless... There is often something to write about. The wedding is one part. The waiting is the other...

Escape, has proven numerous times its very resilient. We had ups and downs, ins and outs. And we are kinda down these days. Many of our raiders are away for real life reasons. Some got tired of - what I consider the worst instance I have ever seen - ToC. Same place, no variety. Granted, the challenge is there but as far as I am concerned the scenery goes a long way. So we ended up loosing quite a few raid nights due to that. And we are not alone it seems...

Many guilds suffer from what I like to call a 'pre-patch trauma'. People for all sorts of reasons find excuses to stay out of the game. Contrary to after-patch times when people make time to be in-game and use excuses `out there', in the real world. I appreciate many people have ultra-valid real life reasons to stay out. But you can not change my view, we do make time to be in-game when we want. And at this time people do not want to be in-game. Simple as that.

Inevitably that leads people of no emotional attachment - or a weak one for that matter - to their guild to move to the... `upper echelons' of the guild hierarchy within a server. Its not the guilds that attract those raiders, that continue to raid no matter what. Its the raiders themselves that keep gathering up and forming such guilds.

The rest of us, those that have some attachments to the guild they are into await patiently for others to return. Hoping that when the time comes we will grab our axes and yell our battlecries.

I just hope this will take place before my wedding, otherwise I will miss a couple of weeks of the fun!

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Quick 'n' Dirty - V

Its been a while since I updated my blog, once again being swamped with work and preparations for my wedding. Particularly the latter needs a bit of work :p. We are also planning slowly our Honeymoon on New York City! Exciting times! I think we are both much more thrilled for the trip than the wedding itself. But hey, we are in this together :p

Nonetheless, I did spent some time in WoW the last couple of weeks. Escape managed to slay Northrend Beasts in heroic mode and now we set our sites on the next hard-mode. Otherwise I spent some time to set up an inscription busyness to complement my herbalist/alchemist DK, manly created to supply Lance with consumables. The scribe is on my GFs account and his sole purpose is to put in the AH the leftovers of the DK. And its been doing well, I have more or less managed to level up inscription to 330 with minimal expenses, funding myself from AH sales.

I've got myself a copy of Windows 7. Ok, either Win7 are a massive improvement to Vista or my Vista install was pretty knackered. I am seeing an increase in FPS of over 300% in areas like Icecrown with full settings. I am pretty sure Win7 are NOT supposed to be that good (or better) and the never-underestimated power of a clean install worked like a dream. But hey, can't complain :p.

My dear friend Thoryel called me one day and informed me about Torchlight. Sounds and looks very promising and I am sure I will put my hands to it when time allows. I am also excited about patch 3.3 lore-wise but I wont even begin to comment on the Tier10 robes and the recent LoH Forbearance `band-aid'. I will be patient to comment on the 'final' version of things.


Monday, 19 October 2009

Modern day heroes and growing older

Those of you, those precious few, that read my blog most probably have realised I am a wow lore aficionado. With a tiny obsession with Arthas. Granted, I am not as knowledgeable or imaginative as others, like Lorecrafted, but I am into it enough to provide myself a role-playing background to my involvement with the game.

World of Warcraft, is definitely not much of a role-players game. Or at least I do not feel like it is. Here we are in an epic turmoil, ready for the battle of our lives (or...this patch anyway), among heroes and villains of the past, yielding powerful artefacts... and we talk about talent specs, encounter logs, recruitment applications and various other mundane aspects using a language known as... leet.

Not very epic, I know. Add to that the ever-present teenagers that ruin the game of us mature (sic!), 'academic' players with their naive approach to the game (the correct vernacular term being "they act as noobs")... well the feeling of immersion goes out of the window...


We are still here, playing, filtering the people we hang out with on-line, trying to carve our ways into this colourful shared virtual environment. Why? Case we escape from our realities more often than not. Because after we stop thinking how moronic this 13year-old-tank-that-went-afk-to-have-lunch-cause-his-mother-yelled-at-him is, we start adoring our toons, admiring how heroic they look as they fly through the forests of Grizzly Hills, towards Icecrown, ready to do their part for peace, victory, judgement and honour.

Our toons have become our modern day heroes. No more Spiderman, Batman, James Bond or whatever we thought was cool when we were young. Or toons our our own personal heroes. Things are not 'awesome' any more... They are 'imba'...

P.S. And yes, it gets worse as we grow older... We have a saying in Ancient Greek... Τίμα το γήρας, ού γάρ έρχεται μόνον, meaning... fear old age, for it never comes alone (but along with its nasty side effects)...

Friday, 9 October 2009

It's begun...

This post is essentialy continuation of the previous one. Between them I was fortunate to read Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by C. Golden, going through the most important aspects of Arthas' personality. And that spinned-off this post, essentially completing the previous one... Forgive the repetitive pattern here, its here for a reason.

It's begun...

These are the words that start the Wrath of the Lich King era. These are also the words that end Arthas: Rise of the Lich King by C. Golden. Fitting. The book presents the life of Arthas from his 9th year, where he meets Varian, admires Terenas and begins his training With Uther, the Lightbringer and Muradin. It goes all the way to the moment where the death Knight Arthas lifts the helm of Ner'zhul's armor and wears it, fusing himself with the entity of the Lich King. However...

Two parts of the book, the very first and the very last present us that internal battle between what Arthas was, what he was temporarily become and what he will be. To put a few words to it... there is no more Arthas. There is no more Ner'zhul. Just the Lich King...

In-game we encounter numerous times Matthias Lehner, allegedly the avatar of Arthas' youth. I am afraid this is merely a vessel for us, to find in-game what happen to the last prince of Lordaeron. Tirion even tries to make sure there is no bit of him left by examining what appears to be Arthas' stored heart after a covert mission we participate into.

Nope, no happy ends here.

We are about to unleash a fierce attack to Icecrown Citadel. Jaina, once his great love, Sylvannas, product of one of his most gruesome acts, Varian, reminecent of his happy youth, High Lord Saurfang, victim of his latest acts and Darion, once his servant, now his enemy... are about to assist us bringing him down.

I am not sure how each one approaches this encounter. For me, being such a fan of the Plaguelands, of Scholomance and Stratholme, of the Ashbringer and the Silver Hand, Arthas is the ultimate villain. Ultimate by the fact that he is so complex. From the moment he sees his horse, Invincible, being born, to the very moment where in his dreams he trusts Frostmourne to the young boy Arthas and the old Ner'Zul... Arthas is a collection of emotions. Great expectations, commitment, love, courage, strength, eagerness, betrayal, happiness, despair, desire, resolve, indifference, hatred, vengeance...

I find it sad that many will enter Icecrown Citadel for the next tier of loot. For the next hardcore challenge. I find it sad that many people are unaware of the story of Arthas. That many have not played Frozen Throne, even just to see who he is. Because ultimately Arthas, with his emotional complexity is much more real than many characters of Azeroth.

And for that, he deserves juctice...

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Icecrown attack, imminent

Its been a while since I posted, simply because there has not been much progress on my part in game. I completed What a Long, Strange Trip it's been, got my violet drake, got a few upgrades, some off the AH and some from looting. But its been quiet, with no new kills. We are kinda stuck on Northrend Beasts in hard mode, not aided much from a rather unstable roster due to various in-game and real life reasons. Nonetheless, we have been there before and we are going back with a vengeance this week as well.

Tiny spoilers below...

But the big news are on another front. Patch 3.3, or at least its first version, is on the PTR. Blizzard is introducing a very interesting collection of 5-man challenges. New quest lines, historical weapons, lore figures add to the mix of what appears to be an involving adventure in 5-man instances. And its been a while since we had one of those.

Icecrown Citadel starts with a 5-player dungeon, consisting of three wings in the citadel's foundation. Players will assist Jaina Proudmoore (Alliance) and Sylvanas Windrunner (Horde) in infiltrating, commando style and through the back-door, the citadel, while the Lich King focuses on the attack of the Argent Crusade and the Ebon Blade. Their purpose, simple. To weaken the Citadel's defences. Kind of like a Dirty Dozen type of thing, only with... well, like half the dirtbags. Interestingly, we have to complete one wing to get to the other. Adds flavour, I can't complain. Normal and Hardmodes are available with each wing being on a separate lockout timer. Rewards for those interested will probably be between 219-232 item level.

The Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection are the three wings, where we will meet some... interesting foes. The reports say we will encounter... Frostmourne, as we enter what appears to be the Lich King's private chambers. Falric and Marwyn, captains of Arthas Menethil in the past, now commanders of the Lich King, as well as the true prince of darkness...no wait, that is Ozzy... I mean the Lich King, the true prince of Patch 3.3, await for us.

Waaait a second... If we encounter the Lich King in a 5-man... who do we encounter in the Icecrown Citadel raid? And, while we fight him... what happens to Jana and Sylvanas?

I am not sure what will happen, not I have been monitoring the reports, the blogs and the general information sources. All I know is that we are weeks before what I consider the pinnacle of the lore already laid down. The rest that will follow are somewhat new things. Since Arthas became what he is now, the epitome of a fallen not-so-lawful 'good' person (kind of like Anakin becoming Darth Vader), to the chaotic evil being he is, I knew he would die, one what or the other from out blade. I can even say I have been playing in WoTLK for that very thing. To finally meet and kill that `old friend'. Redemption never looked plausible for me. Of course I may be mistaken, but I think the probability is pretty slim...

For me this encounter will be the end of a wonderful journey, along the path of life of Arthas Menethil, ever since I met him Frozen Throne. What is to follow when he is dead? Well, dunno, he is already dead in a sense :p. All I know is that once he is out of the way, there will be lots of new villains to get hooked upon. And I plan to do so...

Friday, 25 September 2009

Upgrades and Murlocs

So, amidst turmoil and introspection on my performance on recent raids, I got a few thingies that brought a smile on my head, whereas I am planning a few more.

I am now a happy owner of Grunty, the Murloc Marine marine... Yes, that is two 'marines' for achieving The Marine Marine achievement.... whatever. This is a funny pet. We went to get some Elementum ores for a guildmate's Thunderfury yesterday after out ToC tries. It was kinda late in Greece, around 01:00. My girlfriend was sleeping, dog was sleeping and even vent was boringly quiet. I think that is why I had left the speaker volume kinda high, trying to listen to my guildies... Suddenly....

...the murloc aims... AND STARTS SHOOTING... RATATATATATA!!!
(Check a vid here)

Ok, one of these days I am going to get a heart-attack from 'improper use of in-game sound mechanics...'.

Apart from Grunty, I got 3/5ths of the 245lvl Tyralyon set and an item from the 232 set. Things start to balance out on the gear front as I am trying to `up' my mana pool a bit more. ToC hard mode was not really forgiving for us this week, still a lot of things to tweak. But I think we can tackle the Northend Beasts soon.

Brewfest is the last achievements group towards What a Long, Strange Trip it's been - (notice the Grateful Dead reference there). At least I'll get my hands on a proto-drake, although I have been raiding for ages I still have not gotten my hands on any. Slacker... Not even the green one as I have been quite unlucky with luck-based rewards in WoW. Hopefuly, I'll find the time to do at least those Ulduar 10man hard modes.

Last but not least, its time to convert some accumulated badges to gems, both for sale and future upgrades. And start planning for non-armor items...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Guts 'n' balls... revisited

I often wonder what makes elite players truly elite. By elite I do not mean the wannabes of every server but the truly top ones. What makes them so efficient at what they do? Often people simply reply... time. Ok, time does indeed play a huge role in our involvement with the game. The amount of time we put into the game is often proportional to what we achieve. Or the other way around, but you do get the picture. But that is often an aspect of an individual, not the guild as a whole. So... what makes elite guilds tick? Fear of the RL? Some common jedi-like focus on the game? Magic? Money?

I'd like to think that its co-operation. World of Warcraft is by no means complex. Mathematics can be complex. Quantum mechanics, nanotechnology, augmented reality and space travel. These are complex. Scripted, repetitive encounters are not complex. What IS complex though, to some extent, is how you approach those encounters. Take a raid for example...

You got 25 individuals. One of them, at least, is busy up to his neck with raid leading. Possibly others with leading subgroups, like healers etc. The rest try to do a set task and do it as best as possible. Most of the times. When they do not slack that is. When the raid succeds all is well. But what happens when they fail?

One of the most important aspects of World of warcraft is that its a multi-player game. Not a solo game. Therefore, its safe to assume that teamwork does indeed play an important role. I often used to refer in the past to Manslow's pyramid of needs - depicted below:

Source: University of Tasmania (!)

I beleive that the three top layers can be extrapolated to the WoW environment through the notion of guilds. All of the features depicted in the above diagram can be met within a guild. Teamwork - expressed above in the Social tier but with hints to Ego and Self-Actualization - is an important element of a guild. Since most encounters require certain subgroups to micro-manage, its essential that those groups work together consistently to achieve their goals. Moreover, the members of these groups must maintain a good level of communication in order to rectify errors, achieve stability and hopefuly - and ultimately - improve performance.

Now, enough with the posh talk. Wow players must play together. They need to communicate, speak their mind in a polite way. There is absolutely no value in not expressing an opinion when you want to concider yourself a raider. However, this communication needs to follow some simple ethics. I remember when I filled in my application form in Escape a year and a few months ago there was one question. "What is your abuse tolerance level". Well, most of us said extreme. Quite rightfuly I might add. But at the end of the day I often thought that this tolerance is towards constructive critisism. One that is expressed directly from the person voicing an opinion towards the individual concerned. I expect my fellow raiders to come to me and offer their suggestions, critisim and ideas personaly. Thats when that question starts to mean something. When I will sit down and talk with them, reply to their suggestions. Otherwise, if they do not speak their minds I will not know of their opinion. And - I am not perfect by far - I may make a mistake. I must admit - and I am thangfull for it - that certain people do actualy come forth and speak their mind to me.

Raiding is more often than not about reviewing what you did. About being aware of your choices and making decisions. Its about communicating those decisions, tactics and concerns. When a guild does not communicate as it should, when people keep opinions for themselves - or use messengers to relay them... - the guild stops being that very thing, a guild. It becomes a pug, full of indifferent individuals who would rather talk with a sub-group of players with absolutely no benefit for the group, instead of trying to help out the group.

I am fortunate enough that I have a fellow paladin playing with me that he does have the balls to come and talk tactics and opinions with me. We recently had a talk, trying to gauge certain aspects of the encounters we are currently working at. And we adapt. This is teamwork after all...

Guts 'n' balls boys and girls. Come forward and have your say. I assure you, you will surprised from my answer (and this is not by any means a threat...)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Guts 'n' Balls

Ever though you got so many to say, so many things to curse for but you feel you must not do so? For `the greater good'?

Well, that is the spot I am into. Once again this week. A friend told me, when this game stops being fun its time to call it quits. Not sure if that time has come yet, I guess I have faith in some people and hope to see a change of things. So, I will pretend everything is fine and speak bout a subject in a `politically correct' manner, - whereas I would ideally like to be very non-PC...

I must admit, one of the hardest things in WoW is not to be included in your guild's raids. Even if they are just the non-scheduled ones. Granted, I have been fortunate enough to be a regular in the 25mans but 10mans are a often different story. And all that got me thinking of how tricky is for everyone, organisers and participants of such raids, to balance things out.

From the organisers point of view, there are two paths to follow. One is the `progressive' path where people pursue achievements, prestigious kills etc. I appreciate that its definitely better to go with a stable set-up to those encounters as the group gets more efficient with playing together for extended periods. Such raids offer good publicity to a guild when said progress is achieved. From the participants point of view they need to be punctual, follow the usually `internal' schedule (by internal I mean its often organised from raid to raid and not with the assistance of a raid subscription tool), come prepared to the max and do their best.

On the other hand, we have what I like to call `community' raids. Raids which offer a basic clear-out of instances or in the best case scenario some hard-modes AFTER having completed a basic set of goals. Their purpose is twofold. One is to mix and match the raid group and give the chance to more people to raid. Equally important - particularly with the current ToC badges - is the collection of a basic number of tokens for gear upgrades which ultimately lead to better gear for all guild functions. Unfortunately, such raids often have people that are either indifferent to hard modes or have been left out from `progressive' raids. Either way, such groups are trickier in achieving anything but normal clear-outs. Not impossible though, just trickier.

Naturally, those two groups often merge together, the progress raid being the predominant one. People have to adjust to this mentality, play their best even if in theory they come from the `casuals' pool. Note here that by casuals I do not mean in any extent less capable. I mean those that are not as often on-line as others. Because - in principle - if those players are much worse than their peers skill-wise, then they should not be in the guild in the first place.

Obviously, the problem is which path to take and how far you can merge these two groups. That is, if you can not afford two raids, one in the fast lane and one for the rest. To wrap it up, the advantages of those two categories are the following:

Progressive Raids


  • Sought Achievements ontained
  • Good guild PR when those achievments are obtained
  • The joy of hard-modes challenge
  • Progress, progress, progress
  • Better gear for some

  • Often, a seperation of a guild to `elite' and lesser groups occurs
  • High concentration of gear to specific individuals - the rest get to be in guild functions in lesser gear compared to their 'elite' counterparts
  • People of a casual raiding schedule can't follow - (although are often present when these raids take place...)
  • Guild fragmentation and morale issues

Community Raids

  • More people participate
  • Gear is spread more evenly accross the available player pool, thus augmenting the whole groups capabilities (or potential)
  • More people get the chance to participate in 10man content - and if the raid is good, get to complete hard modes
  • Badges of more = more upgrades = better gear for more

  • Rarely achieve well-sought progress
  • Players often take their outcome for granted and underperform
  • (Aledgedly) better players often disregard them for greater chalenges
  • (Aledgedly) better players are unhappy with the non-take-no-prisoners attitude of the raids

I must admit that I am not sure which path I would follow. It is basically the very same reason why I stopped being a GM/officer etc. So that I wont have to decide such things. I have the utmost respect for those that take the effort to organise either of those types of raid. And to a great extent respect their choices.

But people suddenly loose that respect when they do not abide themselves to a few basic rules. Do not disregard people that have been with ya for a large period of time, do not `ninja' their raid IDs. Not when they are on-line at that time. At least have the courtesy to ASK them before you go and invite your out-of-the-guild buddies. Have the guts 'n' balls to tell people when you want to raid with one of your buddies, don't leave them waiting. Do not go behind their back...

Not when I respect you and the guild as much as I do...

Of course I might be exaggerating a bit. After all these raids are not a primary guild function and could be treated simply as someone else's raid. He or she leads, its their raid, their choice who they take and their choice who to talk to. Their rules, their game.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Lancebit the Paly and Lance the Dog

This week I got some real-life news...

A few days ago while returning home from an errand I was followed by a puppy. The place where I live is full of houses with fairly big gardens where most dog owners have their dogs running loose, pooping all over the place. Our municipality even has a playground for dogs, something not often encountered in hardcore-urban Athens. I expected the dog to belong to someone but nobody ever asked for it and there were no labels or a microchip on him.

So... the puppy followed my up to my parents house and back. He seemed relaxed, coping with my walking pace. As I walked back home, my girlfriend was on the garden, tiding up. When she saw the puppy she became ecstatic, making funny joyful noises. One thing lead to an other and now the puppy is under our protection for the last week or so. We took him to the Vet, did all the necessary check-ups, got some instructions and we are training him (and ourselves I might add...). And now Lancebit and Erlune have a real pet...

His name? Well, Lance ofc...

Lance 'in da house'

As for WoW? We cleared ToC10 and ToC25, starting on hard-modes, I got two 245level set items and some other assorted upgrades, got epic gems and planning further upgrades. I also upgraded my PvP gear and hoping to a rewarding Arena season. Arf!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

A deafening silence...

Its been while since I wrote anything in the blog. I can not help thinking that I often have so much things to say but for various reasons I do not. I used to be a GM in my previous guild, writing huge walls of text with directions for my officers but at some point I lost the plot, they did as well and we all followed separate paths.

Nonetheless, not being an officer - therefore someone who is 'entitled' to speak about certain affairs - sometimes stops me from saying those things I want to say. Other times I am thinking of the consequences of what I will say, which bearing in mind my understanding of social norms in the game, can be devastating for my image and... my peace. Besides, its not my place any more to give instructions and I am immensely happy of not having that `burden'.

I am really sorry for not updating this blog more frequently but its getting really hard some times to keep my cool and enthusiasm for the game. Hard not to cry out a hurricane of feelings, observations and remarks. People do not like it when someone `knocks' their reality, just as much as I do not. I just hope that soon, I wont have to feel that way and people will see what is wrong and sort it out. Its so easy and apparent...that it is hidden like the best kept secret in the world...

We visited Koralon on 10-man yesterday, cleared ToC and then attempted the hard modes. Bearing in mind our set-up was not the best possible since we spread people over two raids and used alts and off-specs to fill in blanks I must say I am not surprised we did not get that far. I know the group that in theory had more `main' specs and a tad better composition got at least the first two beasts by the time I logged off.

The heroic modes do indeed seem quite challenging but I must admit I am sceptical on who long this will last. 245 level gear are fairly easy to grab, are quite an improvement compared to out Ulduar bits and I think the heroic modes will soon be conquered. Still, I never considered anything but the hard modes as a challenge and its a good one.

Apparently paid transfers are coming soon (they are available it seems in the US) and I am thinking of transferring my `pet' rogue who is decked in heirlooms to a horde side and when Cataclysm comes, level a goblin rogue for the kicks of it. Anyone know if heirlooms transfer with a toon when you do a realm/faction change?

Last but not least I began writing Lance's story. I am not gonna go into details but I want to use it as an alibi for certain changes I am planing for him.

Till then, I'll keep my mouth shut and my hammer next to me...

Monday, 24 August 2009

It's changing out there. There's a cataclysm coming...

It been a while since I posted as I was on a much needed holiday. I spent some time off work, along with my wife-to-be, by the seaside of southern Greece. I am sure those few of you that read my blog can excuse my absence. Yet, when I returned I was patient enough (or lazy enough) not to post anything as I expected this year's Blizzcon. My reasons where simple...

I met the Warcraft universe in WCIII. Naturaly, for a while I though Arthas was the ultimate Warcraft villan - up to the point I started catching up on Warcraft lore. Nonetheless, although there are more powerfull beings in this universe than Arthas, I always though an encounter with him would be the pinacle of my WoW life. Naturaly, when WotLK was announced I was sceptical. How will Blizzard top this? How will they come up with something with a punch that would keep us hooked, in a good way, with their next expansion?

At the time I believed it would be very hard and that the next expansion would not make such an impact.

And it seems I was wrong, very wrong...

Cataclysm seems to bring back the gloomy, dark environments even more than WotLK does. Deathwing is back and I must admit the icon of the dark dragon bursting with flame returning to Azeroth looks pretty daunting. The master of deception is back. And hopefuly Turalyon and Alleria will return to continue his hunt...

Nonetheless, there are two aspects of Cataclysm that add another dimension to the game. One is the revamp of the old world. Granted, some will be mad that the path to memory lane is going to be shattered. But I am one of those that feel that 'Vanilla' is sort of outdated in terms of environment detail and quality and the only thing that keeps me returning is those memories. But those will always be there. I want the feeling of immersion in the game to increase. And the change in the old world makes the environment feel alive. Gone will be the static areas, the never changing places. Deathwing comes, shatters the world and everything changes. As we see our real world change from the enviromental disaster our own 'existance' causes... As we see our towns and cities change. The environment becomes more organic - even if that is semi-permanent. Naturaly, the interest of going back to those places and 'mourn' for the disasters adds more depth to the visual. We are going to appreciate areas that were forgoten, simply because we will loose them. And that has impact. Thats proper immersion.

The other aspect I am sure I will enjoy a lot is Guild Talent trees and overal Guild related rewards. I always felt the concenpt of the guild in wow was left a bit 'uncultivated'. I always felt the devs could bring depth to the function of the guild. They started with Guild Banks. Now with Guild Talents trees (however they implement this). Now, you can have a definitive contribution to your guild apart from participating in raids and general farming and housekeeping. You can now work for the team. Your team becomes more organic itself.

Couple that with some nice lore involving Gilneas, maybe the guardians of Tirisfal, the tension between Horde and Alliance growing bigger, underwater worlds, flying all over... oh this is gonna be fun. The only thing that I regret is not being able to make a goblin rogue in my guild (we're alliance, doh!)... they look like they are gonna be the scum of scums! And how good that can be!

I bet someone will roll a Goblin...

Monday, 27 July 2009

Lance, Daiske and a hot mid-summer's dream

Its been quite a few days since I blogged, manly because I was up to my neck - once again - with work. But... I also tried a little wow experiment. After 4 years (I am not sure how long its been, I feel I have been referring to those `4 years' for ages) I managed to put myself in a mental state to level an alt. Granted, its a death knight and it feels like I am cheating :p. However, bearing in mind the whole `slackness' of the summer-time, I felt its a good opportunity to level up Daiske, my human (yes I can be really boring..) death knight. And level up alchemy on the side, to have one more useful profession available to me, as Lance is a miner and an engineer (as is yours truly... the engineer part, not the miner...).

I must admit that death knights are fun to play and sure as hell are a quick level-up. I am half-way to 68 and my plan is to hit Borean Tundra once I become 68. Contrary to Lance's path, Daiske will enter Northrend in BT and maybe, just maybe go to Howling Fjord once I get a couple of levels. Truth be told, the whole experiment is primarily done for the herbs and the flasks. That is why I am eager to enter Northrend. On the other hand, I must admit that gearing up in a relaxed manner a character, often checking the Auction House, drooling over gear I have never looked at and feeling that itchy hand caressing my wallet is... refreshing (ok ok, I am just trying to sound poetic, don't laugh). Yes, levelling Daiske brought some nice memories of the past, when I was levelling Lance to 60. When gear was out of reach and raiders seemed like semi-gods. Now things are different. So, going back, even if its for a few precious `virtual' moments... its sure is refreshing. If Daiske hits 80 then the next bit will be to get my `pet' rogue levelled up. Now that will be truly hard...

Lance is there though, going to the guild's raids - which by the way have not suffered from attendance that much - definitely much less than last year. I am still doing those AT dailies for the gold and the tokens. After all, that AT tabard and the new Charger are essential for a true paladin...

P.S. I also got season tickets for my favorite football team - (soccer to my US friends) which might result in me loosing a couple of raids in the future. But at the end of the day skipping a few raids has always been the trick to the longevity of my playtime in Wow. I still enjoy it a lot and those precious breaks now and then - or slowdown of gaming pace to be precise - kept me going.

P.S. Holidays are coming... Swimming with the missus under the hot Hellenic (correct term for Greek) sun... who cares about Arthas...

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Turalyon returns...

During my brief holiday, last week, I read Beyond the Dark Portal - from Rosenberg and Golden. I must admit that the story was not as griping as the War of the Ancients but it was good enough to `glue' certain periods of the lore. Its based on Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal game that was released about twelve years ago

To briefly sum it up the book is basically about the Expedition Force - assembled by the paladin Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner (sister of Vereesa, Rhonin's companion and Sylvanas), Khadgar, Danath Trollbane and Kurdran Wildhammer- that ventured through the Dark portal, sometime before the tBC era and destroyed it, preventing themselves from return to Azeroth for sometime until the portal was recreated in tBC. Their opponent was Ner'Zhul, leading the Horde, trying to open portals to other worlds and somewhat Deathwing taking sides with the Horde. Grom and Garrosh Hellscream, Teron Gorefiend, Rexxar and Gul'dan fill in the puzzle of the notable lore figures. Now I won't say anything more for the story, you might as well read it, or indeed play WCII, if you are interested, instead of me spoiling it. I will just mention for those unaware of it that the members of the Exhibition can bee seen as statues at the entrance of SW. More importantly, Khadgar can be found in Shattrah, Kurdran in Shadowmoon Valey and Danath in Honour Hold. But Turalyon and Alleria are missing...

Alleria - scetch from - Onetamad @ deviantart

... and also have a past between them. The story mention's their love afair; one of the most important love afairs, save for the Illidan - Malfurion - Tyrande and the Kael'thas - Jana - Arthas affection triangles. However its quite more substantial as we found out in tBC as there is a child, namely Arator, the Reedemer (apparently the only half-elf paladin in game) in Honor Hold.

Since I am a fool for all things Paladinish, Turalyon - just as Tirion and the Morgraines - always intrigued me as a lore figure. And although we still have not seen him he is... back. Or at least his armor is...So is Alleria's. Although there are two more Windrunners... ah complicated as always...

The new armor sets allegedly destined to be Tier 9 bear the names of notable lore figures as can bee seen bellow and in this post:

Notice that both Walocks are notoriously evil (Kel'thuzad can bee seen strolling in Southshore in the CoT: Old Durnhold, where as Ner'zul is what we now know as the Lich King). Turalyon is paired to Liadrin (as if there was another choice...) where as the Wrynn dynasty of warriors is well paired with the Hellscream's. You can check the rest of the pairs with links to some basic lore info.

To my knowledge this is the first example of `named' tier gear, instead of the usual epic names such as Lighforge, Conqueror's and the lot. I am not sure what this turn in naming policies means but using such names for the gear sounds... like a hint for something. I am curious...

As far as Turalyon and Alleria are concerned...

We have no clues on where they are and for some of us, hooked on paladins, their appearance is greatly anticipated. Turalyon was Lothar's apprentice in the Alliance chain of command, so to speak and a paladin of great strength. He was High General of the alliance forces during the time of BtDP, exhibiting great courage and association to the Light, while remaining humble (and a tad lovestruck). I would love to see him emerge sometime in the future, although I do not think we will see him in WoTLK. Probably more possible to appear in some part of the game revolving around Deathwing. Still, seeing his name triggered that part of the lore in my mind so I thought I'd share the references.

If you are interested Wow lore, searching and digging into the names depicted in the armor kits will direct you to some of the most aspects of the lore. Otherwise, if you are not interested you might as well laugh on how hideously ugly the paladin Horde set looks...

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

DPSing in a healer's costume...

Yesterday Escape made a few attempts in killing Yogg without the help of Mimiron. We attempted to go with minimal number of healers and that meant that yours truly was to go DPS into the brain.


  • My gear is better than Naxx level by a couple of pieces but overall based on tier 7. I do not consider this as adequate and our RL and officers were aware of that.
  • I have not raided significantly as retry, nowhere near as much as the 1/10 of my raiding experience as Holy which spans for about 4 years.
  • I am accustomed to the healer's type of awareness, not a melee DPSer's and only now I am beginning to develop the latter (after the introduction of dual specs)
  • I do not consider myself particularly skillful and I had never seen this fight from another perspective but as a healer outside the brain room.

As you can imagine my presence as a warrior of light was... miserable. I constantly failed to get out in time of the brain room, sometimes because I was not clicking properly, others because I was seemingly late. Although I can not fathom how faster I could be. That, coupled with some reluctance on certain parts of the fight and a misunderstanding with the portals did not help much. In fact it was so bad that I was banging my hand on my desk like XT having a tantrum. My wife-to-be was having seconds thoughts on my mental state... I am not happy at all wiping my raid, I am not happy at all wasting the time of others and I am not happy at all not being in control of my game. But...

Bearing in mind the facts above I must say I find it fairly reasonable. My performance I mean. Yes, the fact I sucked as DPSer. Out last attempt of the night was with the help of Mimiron, me healing in the brain room, our druid brain healer going boomkin and us one-shoting Yogg. Well, one-shoting him with Mimiron and me as healer at least :-p. I was sooooo pumped up with being back in the healers boots that for the first time in many raids I was first in healing. You see my healing style does not ever earn me any meter-prices; I like to believe (or fool myself) its more subtle. And no portal issues this time, going out of the brain room fast. Still... I felt so good to be in control of my game, so good to be back where I feel comfortable that I gave it all I had. Maybe it was guilt for screwing up and wiping my brothers-in-virtual-arms. Maybe because I wanted to prove myself to what I know best. Maybe because I wanted to have my vengeance from my other self. Kind of my real-life work situation these days. But that is a different matter...

Yogg fell, but I could not help thinking of what I had seen. I have been immersed in a different game, where my awareness of the surroundings was totally different. The closest experience I had of a melee play style was judging light in MC and smacking things with my Quel'Serrar for kicks. Ok and some 5-mans. But I had to make an impact here, watch the raid, stop thinking of those bars going black and watch the bloody clouds. Oh, the ordeal of a healer in DPSers boots...

Still... I am not giving up. I will continue to gear my paladin for retribution and I will be there when my RL needs me. Even that will be a rare occasion, rarer as I continue to fail :p . My holy set is almost complete, some tiny bits and pieces here still needed. Granted, it will take some time before I develop the situational awareness of a DPSer. But... as with anything in my real life that is difficult and seems daunting, or impossible... I will push forward as much as I can afford. I'll try to not do it at the expense of others.

Vengeance will be mine... Cookies too...

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Patch 3.2 review - Argent Tournament grounds

Patch 3.2 is in the PTR and I though it would be good to check up on a few of the changes so I can report them to those reading me but did not have yet a chance to be in the PTR. Most of the changes mentioned in Part 2 pf the Patch 3.2 review series are around the area of the Argent Tournament grounds. I anticipate quite a few changes further on and the plan is to report these in Part 3 of the PTR review. But lets look on what I found in the northern part of Icecrown...

First and foremost, the Coliseum is finished. The building is a cross-shaped structure with an arena-type circular peripteral where I presume lots of fighting resulting in blood and gore will take place. Sunreaver and Silver Covenant forces guard the place all around, along with the Argent Crusade Peacekeepers. On the sides we can find the portals to (I presume) the 5 & 10/25 man raid instances.

View of the Coliseum from the west

Birds eye view of the Coliseum arena

North-east side

Closer west view

Entrance to east portal

North side portal

At the Argent Pavilion at the west the quest givers have increased. Now, along the old ones handing in quests like Threat from Above there are three more, along with a new vendor with a Greek-sounding name, Dame Evniki Kapsalis(!!). The vendor has among other things the new Argent Crusade tabard and the new Argent Charger. The charges is safe to presume that its the same mount that Justical Mariel Truehart has, right at then entrance of the Pavilion. Crusader Silverdawn, High Crusader Adelard and Crusader Rhydalla hand in quests that reward once again money and Champion's seals.

The new quest givers

The new AC quartermaster

New AC quests - I

New AC quests - II

New AC quests - III

New AC quests - IV

The old quest-givers remain

The Argent Charger

Interestingly enough, once I went out of the Pavilion I faced some quite important placeholders... It seems Highlord Tirion Fordring, King Varian and Jana Proudmore, along with Thrall and their
personal guards are present on the grounds. I am most intrigued by their simultaneous presence and I wonder what lore implications we are going to see from now on. Also, the placeholders kind of hint new avatars. But we will see for that...

Fordring and Co. placeholders

The aforementioned quest givers hand in quests that direct us to one of the new quest hubs, Hrothgar's Landing. As we approach a vision type mist effect appears, similar to the ones in Borean Tundra's coast. I wont bore you with the details of the quests, I am sure others will :). The other hub is Deathspeaker's Watch, on the west of the Argent Pavilion.

Hrothgar's Landing

Deathspeaker's Watch

Hope the pictures give you an insight of the current changes in the environment and the related quests etc. More updates 'soon' :)

Monday, 22 June 2009

Patch 3.2 review - Part 1: On healing meters and forthcoming changes...

First of all, I can not emphasize how good this post, over at World of Matticus is. It is one of the most insightful posts I have seen on healing and how tricky it is to evaluate it. Sometimes, the results of healing deficiency (or not?) are obvious - kind of like the three MT deaths we had in our last raid. However, saying that its just the healers fault is not very meticulous. And even if an RL has not time to deal with such details and he will simply say it to pump its crew, the healing coordinator and his healers have to take it into account.

Nonetheless, my purpose was to review some of the changes on Holy Paladins rumored or announced for patch 3.2. It seems that Napalm healing (as the notorious Ferraro once named it) is taking a heavy hit. No more Holy Light spamming boys and gals. Now we have to think, when, who, for how long etc. Which brings the ball over at the technical healing court. And finds yours truly quite happy as I consider tech healing more challenging.

Now, lets see those changes:

Mana Regeneration: All items that provide "X mana per five seconds" have had the amount of mana they regenerate increased by approximately 25%.

Ok, more is good but obviously something's got to give...

Replenishment: This buff now grants 1% of the target's maximum mana over 5 seconds instead of 0.25% per second. This applies to all 5 sources of Replenishment (Vampiric Touch, Judgements of the Wise, Hunting Party, Enduring Winter Frostbolts and Soul Leech).

1% over 5sec vs 0.25% over 1. I.e. replenishment ticks with a larger period and returns 0.25% less totally. Personally I find this particular change indifferent, I am more worried about the overall (aggregate) mana return.

Lay on Hands: The buff from this ability now reduces the physical damage taken by the target by 10/20% instead of increasing the target's armor.

Reduces the physical damage. Indifferent, its a situational spell that its core use is to heal a lot fast at no cost (but with some return when glyphed). So the added effect is not important in my opinion.

Sacred Shield: When a paladin casts Flash of Light on a target with this buff, they also now place a heal over time effect on the target, healing that target for 100% of the Flash of Light amount over 12 seconds.

Ok, bearing in mind that Sacred Shield is now unique among your group and its usually casted on your primary assignment the hots will give you a `smoothing' mechanic which buys time to heal other targets (with some assumptions suchs as beacons etc) and allows some nice `matching' rotation schemes among healers. Imagine two paladins rotating among themselves flash of lights and the odd holy light.

Judgment of Light: Now heals for 2% of the attacker's maximum health instead of a variable amount based on the spell power and attack power of the judging paladin.

Ok, JoL now belongs to all paladins, not just the Retry ones. Good for looking good at the meters. Too bad I almost always pick wisdom :p

Beacon of Light: The healing amount on the Beacon of Light target is now based on the total healing done (including over-healing) instead of the effective healing done. Radius increased to 60 yards. Multiple Paladins can now have this active on the same target. Buff indicating a player is within range of the Beacon target is no longer displayed.

Whoa... hang in there! Beacon becomes very powerful (which means I expect it to be nerfed due to some stupid arena-related reasoning). Over healing does count as effective healing now. Which means that less is wasted, its less risky to off-heal and probably allows for some positioning tricks. Does it stack with JoL, I wonder. Do JoLs on multiple targets add-up? I wonder...

Divine Intellect: This talent now gives 2/4/6/8/10% increased intellect instead of 3/6/9/12/15%.

Boo, net nerf. Less intellect. Trickier replenishment. Balance between them... unknown but there is always a way...

Illumination: This talent now returns 30% of the mana cost of the spell instead of 60%.

Boo, net nerf. But... in the grand scheme of things possibly justified. Crit is less important now (but always nice for all sorts of other reasons), mana-per-5 is more important, mindless-spaming of Holy-Lights goes out of the window, Glyph of Holy Light becomes less useful but still there, Fash of light returns imo as the flagship heal and....

... well, overall the requirement for greater awareness crops up. I am not one of the people crying `nerf!!!' when changes like this happened. But I do feel that things need to be `balanced' out somehow and evaluated properly. If trading crit for mana-per-5 produces the same results (ro comparable) in healing output (whatever the latter is :-p) then I see no problems. If however the changes are not overall complementary and properly `matched' then there will be issues. Can't wait for some PTR testing... :p

Well, as with everything related to healing things are not as simple as they seem. The changes seem to follow a trend, which is to make paladin healing a bit more challenging and thoughtful. I am waiting to see the synergy among the changes. People (paladins) have asked for challenge but are bound to complain about it because we (everyone) are intrinsically lazy. I say be careful what you wish for because you might just get it...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thank you, Jong... again

Wicked post - as always hilarious - from Jong here. Averna thinks he is `sucking-up' for a heal but what the hell... at least someone does and does not blame us ;-p. I wont spoil-it with my `up-tight' writing style (yes, I know...) so...

And always remember...

"You may be boasting about your crits and damage, but at the end of the day we decide who lives and who dies"

- SomeonewhoIdonotremember

Monday, 15 June 2009

Yogg-Saron is no more

Yup, took us three visits to the Old God of Death to get him down. We have been....tenacious enough and entered phase 3 a few times before the recent nerfs so we were pretty confident he would be dead. In fact, the recent nerfs made him kind of a walk in the park in my humble opinion, although we already had tackled the affected phases. Nonetheless, we raid 3 days a week so we do not complain. The old god is dead and that keeps the guild spirits up is excellent. I got my 4th Tier 8.5 (or whatever the number is, I have lost count) and I look more like a Samurai than a Paladin...

Escape's 1st Yogg-Saron kill

Now, Escape will focus on getting some of the hard-mode achievements going, get out emblematic priest his fragments for his Val'anyr and gear up our raid pool as we go along. Hopefully I will eventually be able to collect the deathknight-looking armor set from off-spec bidding, equip the Scarlet Tabard and make a scarlet crusade-themed video...And possibly at some point get those fragments myself.

On a side note, its sad to see people leave the blogging community but I appreciate they want to move forward. Blog Azeroth has lots of new authors cropping up and I'd like to think that the 'nouvelle vague' of wow blogging ( I place myself in that as well :p) will keep the community active as ever.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

New Looks

Since there are not many things to report on the Wow front I felt its a good time for a change.

A bit of Lance is sporting a new look, so please bear with me as I tweak things up. I was rather tired of the `orangy'-brown theme and went for something less... colorful. My blog is now using the same template as the one I used for the Escape website, originally based on the marvelous Ultimatum from Ourblogtemplates. The level of customization and the degree of integration with the Blogger settings GUI is, in my humble opinion, unparalleled.

On the WoW front, things have been pretty stable for us. We have been having some nice tries on Yogg-Saron, now successfully entering phase two and most of the times entering phase three as well. Some tweaks in the latter and things will fall into place. We are determined to make the most if this coming raid week.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Are achievements a virtual barrier for casuals?

Everybody these days is talking about Ferraro (or whoever he, she, they are) and the whole story of posing as another person - as far as the real life pictures are concerned. You probably have read it, you probably have an opinion as I do. But I'd rather not talk about it, I am just mentioning it so that I do not seem completely ignorant of what happens out there :p. I wanted to make a fun post, portraying myself as a blond bombshell but I think I'll stick to more serious matters...

While I was reading about the aforementioned `scandal' and doing my dailies an old friend from the past, recently transfered in Silvermoon, whispered me. He mentioned something that - what a coincidence - one of our council member mentioned a couple of days ago...

That achievements will eventualy be the downfall of the casual raider...

Both players touched this subject from a different angle. An observer and a victim. Our coucnil member mentioned that he felt that the current trend of being accepted into pugs only if you have completed the relative achievements cuts-off new players from the entry level instances. Likewise, my old friend mentioned exactly that. Not having the achievements does not help him much into participating in Naxx pugs. Mind you, I am talking about people that due to real life commitments are not in a guild, do not have a set playing schedule and try to do the odd instance now and then. People that have accepted that they can not be part of anything a tad more systematic than a mere casual presence into the game.

I must admit I have never thought of this virtual barier before but I do admit its there and its blocking people to catch up. Or even try to. Its perfectly acceptable in my book not to be able to raid as often as I do (which is not that often btw...). As it is perfectly reasonable to try to gauge the people that participate into a pug. But being blocked even out of pugs due to those ruddy achievements is...well, there is definitely something wrong here...

The only way I can imagine someone would `bypass' such virtual barriers is to have friends that are willing to go the extra mile, organize pugs and get that `slacker' the chance to get some descent gear. Of course for that to happen, that 'slacker' must have been a good and pleasant player to be with, someone on your `dearest friends/list'... and not someone that would fit Gevlon's M&S profile. And that is when the social norms of this game come into play...

Friday, 29 May 2009

On the highway to hell

ACDC in Athens 28/05/09 - Black Ice Tour

Nothing much to blog about WoW these days, everything revolved around the first ever ACDC concert in Athens. I have been a fan for years. I am utterly thunderstruck... a childhood dream came true, I haven't had the chance to see them live before.

Rosie on the Rock 'n' Roll Train

They were f@king awesome!

Monday, 25 May 2009

What do you remember...

Averna tagged me with her meme and I must say, its a nice subject, brought a smile on my face after thinking of the past... Apologies for being late, work was rather hectic.

What do you remember about being a newbie... The good old days, indeed.

  • As soon as I logged in, my dear friend Elisdav invited me to my first guild Maza of Crushridge. Elisdav was at the time studying for his PhD along with me in the University of Essex. So, truth be told, I was never guildless. Well, a few sec maybe :p
  • I started going around smacking things. I do not remember using any of my abilities to start with, just auto-attack everything. I almost got a stroke when I died for the first time...
  • I was immediately called 'Lance'. My toon's original name is Lancebit (derived from Lancelot) but I do not think I have been called Lancebit more than a couple of times during my 4 year career as a Paladin...
  • Elisdav chipped in and bought me a Searing Blade. I was the most fearsome paladin ever... withing two yards of my standing point...
  • I was dragged into Deadmines with Pizzaman and Maluska (or something...). People I did not know. People I eventualy met and hang out with...
  • I thought at the time those lvl 60 players were Gods!!
  • I once say Blessing of Kings casted on me during a 'rumble' in Southsore (brings a tear in my eye... world PvP at its best)... and SoC on a fellow paladin. I started looking where they got these toys... Talents... that figures... so that's what that menu is for!!!
  • I was then praying for a Soc Proc just to see Lance jump in fury and slam that two-hander. At least I got the two-hander part right...
  • I had no idea what a tank is. Why the hell they call it a tank. Is it a vehicle?
  • I remember standing thunderstruck when my friend Dentrag used Buff-ahoy to buff in Uldaman. It had a 'say'-bubble confirmation that you were about to buff. An add-on... what the hell is an add-on...
  • And then came level 60. That's when things started falling into place... I went with Elisdav and some other friends in Dire Maul. Apparently... I was one of the healers. Yes, we had two, don't ask me why, it was 4 years ago :p. At the time I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do. And that became quite apparent. The other healer, a druid named Debran went ballistic with me. And there I am, ruining their instance...
  • Eventually I caught up with times. I was thrilled when I completed my 1st 5man, along with one of Escape's current MTs. Yes, we go a loooong way back. I remember it was Stratholme, both sides. Till now, I consider it the most entertaining instance ever.
  • I went ballistic when another Paladin casted DI on me in a UBRS run. I had no idea what it was. You can imagine... I though my keyboard was dead... (naab...)
  • I used to see paladins wearing Lighforge and thought it was cool. Then I say Lawbringer and said to myself that's impossible for me to get... (I got the shoulders, the only piece missing a few months ago in an MC achievement run! ha! gotcha!)

Now I am wearing a purple-red brown skirt those people in game call tier8.5 or sumthin... I still visit Stratholme, thinking of my old team-mates / friends. Good thing I'll meet them for coffee this or the next weekend to talk about Guitar Hero... Elisdav, I know you read this from time to time... I blame you for everything...

Now, lets tag Jong , Firelight , Vaadren and Jesper in his personal blog.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Bad to the bone...

After some farming, quite a few dailies - as I am pretty crapy with the AH, contrary to Gevlon - I managed to get the cash I needed for my Mekgineer's Chopper. I must say driving this thing is immense fun, much more than I thought. And since the new bike needs a `bad-to-the-bone attitude' Lance is now sporting a new punky hairstyle. If only I could get rid of that skirt...

On another note, Escape killed General Vezax and had our first tries on Yogg-Saron. He will soon become the dead old god of death...

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Why the bloody hell do we go in Ulduar?

Sometimes I wonder if its a good thing or a bad thing not having anything `juicy' to write in my blog. You see, I often report either good/positive or bad/negative news. If everything is...yikes!...`normal'... nothing to report.

Escape has been progressing steadily, facing today Mimiron seeking to complete the Keepers of Ulduar achievement. Freya was freed this week for the first time and although we got only 3 raid days per week we seem to make the best of them. Our 10-man groups also do well, with the most 'advanced' one facing Yogg-Saron.

On the solo front, I have been leveling fishing, (around 390 nowadays), doing some dailies in case I do get that chopper (yes, I still haven't crafted that for me...) and collecting my Argent Tournament badges for future use and rep with Silver Co. I already spent the first 50 on the Stormwind tabard but the damn thing depicts the guild's tabard when you are guilded. Still, I wait patiently till they fix it, I think its the most `definitive' tabard for Lance.

Nonetheless, one of the things that have been bothering me for some time is...why?

Why the bloody hell do we go in Ulduar, why do we participate in AT. Ok, in `game-terms' we do it for the loot, the fun, the progress. But what is the justification for our characters, our toons. The Ulduar cinematic did give some... political background in the whole story. But being an old player that have gone through the quest lines for Onyxia, Molten Core, AQ and even the old Naxx (although I never set foot in it)... I was used in having a background story, something to support why I am going there. Although Wotlk arguably placedt the players deeper in the story-lines, I feel that Blizzard kinda missed something when it came to Ulduar. Unless I am missing something - dazed from the endless coding in a tcl/tk 'clone' for work' - there is not even an NPC to direct you there. Someone to say, `oh shit, Yoggy is loose, the shit is about to hit the fan so we need someone to grab him and turn that fan facing Arthas bedroom...'!.

Or... maybe there is something and I missed it
...but then again...
...I shouldn't and if I did, its not my fault alone...

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Thinking out loud

I sit down thinking, hoping to come up with something interesting for my blog. Various thoughts revolve around my mind but I eventually end up with the same. I am having fun in this game. Multidimensional fun. People seem to think I am crazy. You see, many of my older guildies have recently quit the world of warcraft. It was more or less that time for them. I feel tiredness was showing up in their game.

Still, I like it in Azeroth, its kinda fun and relaxing at certain moments. Granted, some times things are repetitive, but I often find that particular fact relaxing. Other times we are short of one person or two for raiding. Ok, been there, done that. There are good times, bad times, as Led Zeppelin sang. Jousting, farming, pvp... round round, I get around...

This raid week was somewhat `clumsy'. Yes, clumsy is the right world for it. We cleared most of the `farmed' content during the first two raid days and we got Hodir towards the end. That is 8/14 now. Still, our last raid was hindered from low numbers. It seems once in a while the stars align and mock us. We are a fairly small guild with fairly regular raiders. But once in a while things just do not add-up. So, this week left me with a bitter-sweet taste. Ok, we did get one more boss down (freed actually) which, sufficient to say, its more than many can say for their raid weeks. But I do feel with a tad more dedication and commitment we would be way ahead of us, competing with the `hardcore' ones in our realm.

But clumsiness often comes with the luxury of being able to raid three days a week to the max. Sometimes your guildmates may have prior obligations. Other times people have the odd-connection issue. Many things hinder a small guild like ours.

A busy week for me comes to an end. I think its time for me to come up with some more thoughtful posts than simply thinking out loud...

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Quick 'n' Dirty IV

Its been a rather busy week at work and I did not have much time to update here. What I did though and had lots of fun with, was updating our guild's front-page with one that is based on blogger. I am surprised how many things you can do with this platform and a bot of good old html/css...

Will be back over the weekend with some thoughts on Ulduar nerfs, jousting and whisky

Thursday, 23 April 2009

..and a year with Escape

It was exactly a year ago when I decided to leave the old server I played with friends for quite some time, in order to look for greener pastures. I had already done my research and was ready to embark to a journey to a different place. So some time in the afternoon and after my new GM had accepted my application I transferred my toon to Silvermoon and got a ginvite from him.

A year that took me from Black Temple and Mount Hyjal, all the way to Ulduar and the Silver Council. I made some good friends, had some good laughs and was fortunate to be accompanied through this year by some of my good old teammates. They will be a year with us in a couple of weeks from now.

Not much to say, I just wanted to share this with my readers, particularly those from Escape. Thank you for all the fun. See ya in game.

Ref: Image from Deviantart's Chudtoons

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A week with 3.1

One week after the introduction of patch 3.1 and a day before the imminent - and usual - nerfs/modifications of 3.1.1, I though its best to wrap-up my experiences with the content of the patch up to now.

Solo game

Dual specs

The dual specs feature was one of the most anticipated things in the game. With a hit of a button it is now possible to switch spec (and gear if you use an add-on like Outfitter). It can even be macro-ed and here is what I use for it:

#showtooltip [spec:1] Holy Shock; [spec:2] Crusader Strike
/usetalents [spec:1] 2; [spec:2] 1

where 'Holy Shock' and 'Crusader Strike' are the spell names of the icons you want to appear on the macro-ed shortcut. Careful on the spelling, some of mine did not work properly. Also, remember to put it on 'both' bar sets (spec1+2).

The newest Outfitter available from Curse (contrary to old reports that it would be discontinued) allows switching of gear set. Right-click your gear-set, go to Script and choose Primary or Secondary talents. Make sure that you have un-ticked the Disable Automatic Switching from the options tab.

To put it simply, its a joy to farm/grind as retry. Mucho fun amigo.

The Argent Tournament

...is in town and players get the chance to do some fun dailies gaining gold and reputation with the Silver Covenant as well as to collect badges for Tournament-related faction rewards. The most notable of the latter in my humble opinion are the main faction tabards (yay! Stormwind Tabard ftw!). The dailies revolve mostly around jousting with npcs - something which once you get the hang of it is quite fun. The rest of the quests are of the usual kill/collect pattern. On top of that, there is a `lore' chain quest which eventually leads to an achievement.

There are three levels of quest, the Aspirant, the Valiant (check?) and the Champion. Progression from each is done by collecting badges from the dailies and hand them in (15, 25 badges for the first two levels). Once you become a champion you can collect champion badges. You get 10 as a bonus once you reach that level and - as with the Aspirant and Valiant levels - 5 per day if you do all dailies. Note, the latter may require a group quest for killing Chillmaw. Lance became a Champion of Stormwind over the weekend and now collects badges for that lovely Stormwind Tabard.


Now, when it comes to raiding, there are quite a few interesting stuff. Ulduar seems to be fairly more difficult than Naxx and Co. and the challenge starts to show as guilds try to go deeper in the instance. Its been quite some time since a raid required proper positioning, synchronization, synergy among classes and some thought on how to tackle things. I am not sure on how long it will remain a challenge but we must bear in mind that almost all kills are on `easy-mode', perhaps with the exception of some kills like the ones from Inner Sanctum . You will find lots of guides on the bosses so I wont bore you with such details.

What I do know though is that Escape managed to tackle 6/14 in the first raid week with our three-day raiding scheme, acquiring some good `ranked kills and achievements' in the process. We are fairly proud of this and confident that we can start saving time and seeing new bosses as we venture deeper in Ulduar.

I wont even comment on Emalon the Storm Watcher, I hardly noticed he is there when we got him...

On top of that Lance is once step closer to getting Val'anyr Hammer of the Ancient King, since our priest officer (the prime recipient as per guilds decision) was away. So that means I am 59 fragments away :p. Still, big thanx got to my guildmates for their trust. Hope I am and will be making up for it.

So overall a very good week for us. Can't wait from more fun in the Tournament and in Ulduar. Fun... yes, we kinda missed that in-game the last few weeks...

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Ulduar up on us...

As always, right before I set off to work and while eating my chocolate flavored cereals I am sitting in front of my computer, browsing through Wowinsider, Mmo-champion and my guilds forum. Ok, and some sports-related websites :p

Today, I more or less expected to see the confirmation that the patch would be deployed this week, a few hours earlier to the US, followed by the European servers. Just as I went through the first lines of the news-posts my eye fell on the video square beneath... King Varian ready to crit someone... So, naturally, I clicked and saw the promo video from Blizzard... Go on, check it , I do not want to spoil it ;-p


You're back?... So yes, the friction between the Alliance and the Horde is there once again. As well as an underlying `pact'. Varian and Garrosh are bitching, where as Rhonin, Jana and Thrall seem more... thoughtful. Yes, stereotypical, as warriors clash their blades, where as `scholars' and 'spiritual-attuned' people seem to be thinking a bit deeper. And in the middle Brann and his discovery... Yogg-Saron is slowly going stronger...and loose from his prison...

So, two levels here. One the Alliance-Horde friction, on the top level of the `political' aspect of the Ulduar-era lore. I expect this to be even more apparent further on. On the second level its the need to stop Yogg-Saron. And that is where we all come in. Our factions probably will fight for the territorial advantages, but we will have to dig in deep and do the hard, covert (well, not so covert but you get my point) stuff and go 'commando' on Yoggy (how we wow players turn every name into a pickachu-like-name is beyone my comprehension, even if it refers to inconceivably dark entities).

Jana looks troubled (with an `edited' face), Varian and Grosh mean, Thrall baffled and Rhonin... Ah, one of my favorite old heroes has now proper dialogue... And when Rhonin speaks we all better listen...

So, I leave you to enjoy the video, read the patch notes and prepare. I expect the usual service disruptions, as many people will return to the game, the usual issues with the add-ons and lots of running around! I will be back with something Ulduar-related in a few days...

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