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 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...

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Waiting for the patch...

Its a rather boring time in the World of Warcraft these days. Not much to do, people are stalling, waiting for the new patch. Not much action taking place. As the content has been exhausted by most the only thing left to do is maybe some achievements. But even those are hard to do, due to the whole situation of people being `relaxed' and raids often being under-maned. It seems (and it has been observed before) people loose their focus before major content additions. And its reasonable to some extent.

So, a few days more it seems, maybe a couple of weeks. I plan on parking Lance to Stormwind Cathedral. And then rush out to:

  1. Get a free respec: I plan on reshuffling my Holy spec, resulting into a pure PvE spec with absolutely no 'damage talents', a true raid servant. And my second spec as retribution for truly selfish and take-no-prisoners fooling around. So that's sorted. Do not ask me about talent options, I often choose the most prevailing specs, so I'll have to dig-up through the usual references there
  2. Sort Gear-switching: ...with a new gear-switching add on. Blizzard's equipment manager has been pushed back, I am unsure of the state of Outfitter after then patch introduction so... we will all need to sort out our spec switching with something new it seems.
  3. Content: Go to the Argent Tournament area and start exploring, questing and... reputation grinding :p. In the process get some gold on the side for that Lancey-Davidson... Then start reviewing the changes here and there, starting from the new engineering changes.

Then, depending on the people around we might venture into Ulduar for a ten-man suicide mission, waiting for the next day and our scheduled run...

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Guild recruitment and Tiers of capabilities

One of my observations, related to the current state of things in WoW concerns the quality of applications for recruitment. It seems that the level of those seeking guilds, in terms of quality, has degraded a lot. At least in our realm - allegedly the top PvE realm in EU - and regarding our own applicants. So, I could not help thinking that the easier content essentially hurts mid-range guilds and eventually will hurt top guilds. Now, here is my reasoning.

We got three tiers of guilds. Tier One (T1) is the `hardcore' top guilds of a realm where the 'cream of the crop' finds home to satisfy the desire total annihilation of bosses-targets within the smallest amount of time possible, after their introduction. Tags like, realm-firsts, rankings etc go in this category.

The second tier (T2) is mid-range guilds which are usually slower than the top ones, either due to schedule (like my guild which raids 3 days per week just for its members to keep their sanity, their spouses and their RL in order) or due to `lesser' skill.

The third tier (T3) is the entry level guilds wich range from `social' doing-nothingness, to clearin a fragment of the content or just not attaining the top achievements.

Since the content is easier these three tiers are more distinct than ever. Those who can do things fast, efficiently or what I like to call `punchy'. Those that can do the same things more or less but require a bit more time. And those that for a variety of reasons can not do all, some or most.

Although my tier model is crude, its adequate to demonstrate my point. Each tier mostly replenishes itself from its immediate lower.

Now, I believe that in the past where the content was harder people often transferred to guilds within their tier. Top guilds were off limits, mid range guilds were much more and casual guilds quite fewer cause there was not much `casualness' in the game (I am excluding PvP from this ofc).

Whereas some players sleeked for more and jumped tiers, many stayed with in their tier - mostly T2 - and tried to find more satisfying raid environments. Nowadays things are a bit different. Since content is easier people can jump to the tier above with greater ease. That means that T2 which has capable players looses quite a few to T1. Unfortunately those from T3 who wish to go to T2 and who for a variety of reason could not complete certain (if not many) elements of an overall easier content are usually not good enough for T2.

In other words those that have not done basic things in this content (and wish to do more, hence its not a matter of commitments/time etc) are not good enough for many T2 guilds.

Of course, these are just observations. I may be way off there. Do I make sense or this sounds like a phd thesis...?

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