Sunday, January 31, 2010

Going back to the roots of WoW (part 3)

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In the final part of my little series about the roots of the different raiding instances of WoW, we've come to the Wrath of the Lich King, the latest expansion of WoW. It offers an old raid, a raid where we get to fight madness itself (also an old concept as we'll see) and of course a raid where we'll fight the Lich King himself.

Naxxramas
Released already in Vanilla WoW it was unfortunately missed by he biggest part of the players. The Burning Crusade expansion was released just shortly after (some months) and left the loot of Naxxramas in the dust. There was no longer any need to do Naxxramas, which was further disencouraged by the raid instance's difficulty level. Some fights were extremely hard, like Patchwerk or Four Horsemen to name a few. Blizzard of course thought this was ultimately a waste of a nice raiding instance, and it is. So they decided to re-release it as the first raiding instance of Wotlk.

Naxxramas serves as the seat of some of Lich Kings most powerful officers, like the lich Kel'Thuzad. The instance is divided into four wings, with Sapphiron and Kel'Thuzad as the two final bosses. The fights are greatly varying and most of them great fun. Some of my personal favorites are Loatheb, which has a healing reducing aura which means you can only heal for 3 seconds or so every 17 seconds. Another fun boss is Heigan "the dancer". He spouts lava from different areas of the floor which means you have to constantly move around to stay alive. The Kel'Thuzad fight is also quite fun, since he ice blocks people which need to be instantly healed to survive. Patchwerk is basically just a spamming of both heals and dmg. Taking aggro from the tanks is nearly impossible so the fight is mostly a race against his enrage timer and the healers manapool emptying.

The wings have different themes and are called the Arachnid Quarter (where you fight spiders and bugs), the Plague Quarter (where you fight some disease spreading masterminds), the Military Quarter (where you fight the military masterminds, those who command the armies of the dead in the name of the Lich King) and the Construct Quarter (where you get to fight different abominations created to serve the Lich King).

The diversity of the instance makes it last for a long time, and eventhough most people greatly outgear the fights by now, some fights still need coordination to make them through. This is also a raid I'd recommend anyone to experience at least once in full.

The idea of the undead and their lords trying to conquering the world has been a theme of WoW
s since the beginning. It's a version of the apocalypse and bosses like "The Four Horsemen" imply this as well. There is nothing new about it really, but Blizzard implements it well in the game and makes it a fun and interesting aspect of their lore.

Ulduar
As far as I've understood it there are two major forces who wish do destroy the world (Azeroth) and everything in it. Actually one force is mostly after azeroth and the other force is after anything living in the universe. The second one is what Ulduar is all about. Housed by Yogg-Saron the old god of Death, who is a sort of remake of C'thun (final boss in Ahn'Qiraj) and inspired by the same source namely the books of Lovecraft, and Algalon the Observer. Ulduar is actually a prison for Yogg-Saron, who has succeeded into corrupting the minds of several guardians, who then become part of the boss arsenal. Algalon however needs to be destroyed for another reason. Being a Observer, he travels around the galaxy and decides whether a world has been corrupted beyond saving or not. Watching the corruption of the inhabitants of Ulduar (and other places of Azeroth) he decides its not worth saving and that it needs to be destroyed. It is this the player needs to prevent by killing im. Well you can't really kill Algalon, but you can fight him hard enough to make him change his mind.

The first part of the instance is about fighting different security systems of the prison and corrupted members of the guard. Some of the bosses, like Thorim and Freya, can be found outside of the instance too, non-hostile and often part of quest chains. The four guardian, Mimiron, Thorim, Freya and Hodir, use different elements which greatly vary the fights. Mimiron is mechanical, Thorim the god of Thunder, Freya the god of Life and Nature and Hodir the god of Ice. Some of the fights in Ulduar are among the most fun I've had. My personal favorites are Freya and Yogg-Saron himself.

There were some new concepts introduced with the Ulduar raid instance. The first thing was making some of the bosses optional to fight. That means you didn't have to kill them to be able to make it to the end of the instance. This includes Ignis the Furnace Master and Razorscale. Iron Council was optional too once you'd gotten the quest from killing them. Another new thing about Ulduar was the concept of "hardmodes". It was the same boss, but fought in a more difficult way. For instance one could fight Freya either with or without her keepers. You could fight Yogg-Saron with or without the extra help from the bosses you had just released from his maddening grip. Not all bosses had this option, but most of them. It was a way for Blizzard to make the same instance easy for beginners and hard for veterans. You had to succeed with all the hard modes (except the Yogg-Saron one I think) to make it to Algalon however.

The Yogg-saron fight is in many things a copy of the fight with C'thun. Having to fight his tentacles (albeit in slightly different ways) and jumping into his brain to destroy his maddening effect was part of it. I've never fought C'thun however and greatly enjoyed the Yogg-Saron fight. It is tricky and needs you to stay on your toes for the entire fight, using three different phases that varies things a little. There are many things to keep in mind, and people get different "missions" during the fight, except the usual ones like heal that, tank that and kill that. Some need to jump into his brain, some need to destroy tentacles and so on. I usually like that kind of fights the most, where a little more is expected from everyone except the usual.

Like mentioned in former posts, the idea of Yogg-Saron and the Old Gods is borrowed from H.P Lovecrafts fictional (?!) universe. This is likely something Blizzard will use again, since the Old Gods are a hardwired part of their own lore by now.

Trial of the Crusader
ToC starts out like a sort of inbetween raid, cut off from the lore parts of WoW. It isn't until the very last fight (spoiler alert) that you'll notice Arthas has a hand in everything that happens in Azeroth.
ToC is actually just an arena tournament, where you're pitted against different beings in a fight to the death. These beings are everything from huge worms to demons from the nether. Most of the fights are entertaining and Blizzard reused the concept of a pvp fight in pve, like in old Magisters Terrace, for one of the encounters. This means the bosses are programmed to act more like players (not being tankable, using cc and such) and more unpredictable.

When succeeding with the last encounter (spoiler alert again) Arthas enters and pits you against Anub'arak, the king of Azjol Nerub and defeated once already in the same instance. He is reawakened as an undead by the Lich King to do his bidding. ToC too uses the idea of hardmodes introduced in Ulduar.

ToC is a fairly short instance, and can easily be done within the hour with a good group. The idea of a tournament is of course borrowed from the old knightly tournaments, and the design is much like it. The entire raid is a big arena, and you won't venture anywhere else (except underneath it for the final fight). It has no trash mobs but only boss fights one after another. Blizzard wanted a quick and easy accessible raid instances, trying to listen to the complaints about some raid instances having so much travel time between bosses which used up time for no good reason. The result was ToC, the essence of boss fighting.

Icecrown Citadel
The question is of course how much I could write about this raid instance since not all of it has been released yet. No one has seen all of it yet, and there are probaly some weeks, maybe months until we get to fight the Lich King Arthas himself. Most of it has been released however, and like in Naxxramas it used different wings. First one has to fight through the Lower Spire to get to the wings, which are called The Plagueworks, the Crimson Halls and the Frostwing Halls (not yet released). Succeeding in getting through all these will probably get you to The Frozen Throne, which is on top of the instance and where Arthas resides (?).

The only boss my own guild hasn't downed yet is Blood Queen Lana'thel, one of two bosses (strictly counting four bosses but two encounters, since one encounter is about fighting three bosses at once) in the Crimson Halls. In the Crimson Halls we get to fight some bosses we've already defeated in different places of Northrend. All the bosses in Crimson Halls are vampires, and the fights also revolve around this theme to some part. Vampires haven't been seen much in WoW before and are, as far as I know, a new concept with Wotlk. Based on old folklore, vampires just like dragons is something most people have believed to exist or have had myths about. That they'd show up in WoW eventually isn't suprising.
The Plagueworks are yet again (like in Naxxramas Plague Quarter) about a mad scientist and his creations, in league with the Lich King. Most of the fights are so far really entertaining, and most of all quite challenging. Bosses like Rotface, Putricide and Lana'thel actually need some teamwork and skill to defeat, at least for now. There will be hardmodes in this instance too eventually, I think.

Overall ICC feels like a remake of Naxxramas. The bosses and the design is fairly similar, the whole idea is recognized at once. This doesn't have to be a bad thing though, like I said Naxxramas is a really well designed instance with many fun boss encounters. There are some bosses of ICC that haven't been released yet that feel promising as well, like a huge dragon which needs to be healed somehow. And of course the fight with Arthas will prove interesting as well.

These are all the raid instances there are in the game so far, and I don't think they'll implement new ones until the next expansion, Cataclysm. Since Cataclysm is about remaking the whole original world, maybe we'll see more re-releases like Naxxramas and Onyxia ahead.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

More Amigurumis!

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I was going to write the last post about "Going back to the roots of WoW" today, but due to waking up really early and being out and about all day (and it is really freezing where I live right now) I am dead-tired. Therefore I thought I'd entertain you with some more pictures of Amigurumis I have made and hope they will keep you happy you until tomorrows post!



I had some real issues with the trunk of the elephant. I had to redo it totally several times, and I finally settled for one (slightly over-sized and monster looking one though, but he's still cute). I still haven't got the hang on that kind of crocheting though, these long, thin tube-like parts are really tricky...

This red and black guy (still nameless, since Love doesn't want me to name all my Amigurumis "Love" and I can't think of anything else) was really fun to make and I'll probably make another one in pink or something. The poor guy hasn't gotten any eyes yet though, because I didn't think about buying light colored buttons the last time I was to the sewing store. I've made more amigurumis, like a bumble-bee, but he too lacks eyes. I'll keep him until next time I need to sleep instead of writing blog posts ;)

Friday, January 29, 2010

100 posts!

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I totally missed that my last post was my 100th post! Congratulations to this blog!

It started a little more than 2 years ago, in 5th of December 2007, and my first post was about leveling one of my warriors (which I still play today). I was only 22 back then, ah such a child ;).

I hadn't played prot warrior much, and didn't even like it, but since getting a group as a tank was so easy I thought I had to give it a try. I had already tanked some on my paladin and noted how much easier it was in comparison. Unfortunately my warrior tanking was made slightly more difficult by the fact that I hadn't upranked any of my skills and was still using rank 1 on everything! That was back then when changing spec meant that you had to repurchase every rank on every skill. That sucked. And all that whining about how much I hated to tank as a warrior has still turned into a guide on how to do it 2 years later! I suppose that warrior tanking kinda grew on me. And also they did changes to the class which made it more fun of course.

Back then the blog was all about WoW, but after a while I realized there are more things in life that are interesting to write about. So I started writing about different stuff, movies, books. Well anything really, and it has turned the blog into what it is today. There is still alot of WoW though, in fact I'd say a majority of the posts is about WoW in some way.

It has also changed design somewhat, it had a green color with orange text before I think (or the other way around...). I didn't really like it however, I thought it was a little difficult to read and decided to change it into what it is now. It has changed adress too, it used to be called Days-of-my-wow-life.blogspot.com, but since it isn't exclusively about WoW anymore, and since that adress was way too long, I changed it to what it is today.

2 years ago... much has happened and in a sense nothing has changed. 2 years ago we were still playing BC, and were still gonna do so for another year. Most of the chars I still play were created back then. The only one that has been added is my little DK, which I haven't played much yet anyway.

My posts back then were more diarylike, but I changed it into the article mode they're in now, and I like it better. Hopefully that's more interesting too, but I still mostly write the blog for my own purposes. I think to really entertain other readers you should stick to one subject or theme, but I like to write about different things and hopefully there is something for anyone in here, although not every post is interesting to everyone.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 30-39

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Welcome to the second level bracket of my guide on how to become an imba tanking warrior! This time we'll talk about level 30-39, and there is lots to say so might as well start at once.

The overall feeling of these levels is that it becomes harder to tank. Now don't get frightened, it's still not hard! At level 30 ish will be the start of doing instances with people who actually do more damage than you. Up until level 30 you can basically tank just based on the fact that you do the most damage, thunder clap is that good. But the skills of other classes have become better, and you will have to learn to spread your threat love around the mobs to make enough threat. Some thunder claps still generally do the trick, but start practicing on getting sunders on different mobs, as well as revenges.

Level 30-35 will also be tough to level. Although you get Concussion Blow at level 30, and it's a great skill, you won't have many dmg skills. These are some levels of lacking, one could say. Lacking in skills and lacking in stats. Just get through them and you'll get onto better grass soon though, hang in there. Speaking of Concussion Blow, remember not to use it together with Shield Block since that would negate the effect of Shield Block.

There are some general troubles when tanking as a lowbie that will become more apparent at these levels. The lack of hit and expertise. Some BoA gear have these stats, and I congratulate you if you're lucky enough to have some of this gear, it will make things alot easier. When tanking you will constantly miss and get your skills parried, dodged or blocked. This is what makes Thunder Clap even better. Since it is considered a spell it can't be dodged, blocked or parried, only missed. This means you'll have a much higher chance of landing a TC than any other of your skills (the same goes with Demoralizing Shout, but that barely does any threat). Thunder Clap will in other words still be your main skill for tanking, without a doubt.

You will have to wait until level 40 to get plate, but I noticed the Satchels of Helpful Goods that you get after each completed instance will start giving you plate items as early as level 35. Just store them in your bank for later.

Glyphs
At level 30 we get to choose another major glyph for ourselves, hooray. Considering the continuing awesomeness of Thunder Clap I will strongly recommend taking the Glyph of Resonating Power, which reduces the rage cost of your Thunder Clap by no less than 5 rage. It's great! Both for questing and instancing.

Talents
We have ten new talents to place, and this time some really tricky choices ahead of us. The first talent, the level 30 one, is an easy choice though. Place it into Concussion Blow and you'll have access to a great tanking and questing skill. For the next few talents there are several good choices however. Improved Spell Reflect is ok, but since you won't get the actual skill Spell Reflect until level 64 we can wait with that one. Toughness is good too, but at these levels even 10% extra armor won't be noticed much. And although the reduction of movement slowing effects is nice for a tank, it's still more of a pvp factor. Improved Disarm is definitely more of a pvp talent. Very few mobs do that much damage with their weapon that they have to have it disarmed. 10% extra damage on a mob won't be noticed much on low levels either, where most bosses are quite easy (you generally die on pulling too many mobs rather than the one mob being to difficult). If you haven't grabbed Last Stand already I suggest you go for it. Improved Disciplines is good too, but the problem when tanking and questing is like mentioned rarely the mobs hitting too hard. You'll way more often have trouble with rage starvation. Grab Puncture to help you out on that area, at least when tanking. And then I recommend One-Handed Weapon Specialization since it is great for both tanking and questing. It will increase all your damage (except thunder claps unfortunately) by 10% which means more threat for you. If you feel you have a lot of trouble with casters standing and shooting the healer you can throw some talents into Gag Order. If you find yourself constantly grouping with morons who overpull you can throw two talents into Improved Disciplines instead, to have Shield Wall available more often. At this point you are pretty free to talent according to your tanking needs. Most talents will be used later on anyway. Let's summarize;
Lvl 30 into Concussion Blow
Lvl 31 into Last Stand
Lvl 32-34 into Puncture
Lvl 35-39 into One-Handed Weapon Specialization


Skills
At these levels you'll have two new skills at your disposal, Concussion Blow. Being a stun of 5 seconds and dealing great damage, it is a great tool which should be used with some consideration. However it doesn't have a long cooldown, so don't save it for too long. I usually save it to interrupt casters, especially healers, or any other mobs with annoying skills.
The other skill is Berserker Rage, also a great tool with two uses. It removes fears and incapacitate effects (which unfortunately doesn't include stuns) and gives you extra rage when struck. Although not many mobs will fear or incapacitate you at these levels, the extra rage is always welcome.

Instances
Finally we have the instances. Good news, this level bracket holds some really good instances!

- Scarlet Monastery (32-40)
This instance is actually four different instances, and therefore varies greatly in level. The best thing about the Scarlet Monastery instances is that they are really easy in design. No risk of getting lost or confused here. Generally just run straight ahead and you'll end up where you should. The first part, Graveyard is really straight forward and easy and can be done in less than 10 minutes actually. The second one, library is a little more tricky as it is easy to overpull. The third, Armory, holds some annoying healing mobs but they shouldn't be too much of a hazzle. The last one, Cathedral is the toughest one. It holds a range of casting, healing, kicking and stunning mobs which easily could become too much if pulled recklessly. They'' run too and if they're not killed fast they'll pull more mobs, and even the boss, onto you. Beware of that. All instances hold great loot, more notably Cathedral with the shield Scarlet Aegis and the legs Scarlet Leggings (which can drop in Armory too).

Razorfen Downs (33-40)
RFD can either be done in a fast run or a slow run. The fast run skips the first two bosses. If you've already gotten the great chestplate Carapace of Tuten'Kash from the first boss I recommend you opt for the faster run. There is nothing else for you as a tank to get from the first two bosses *snicker snicker*. RFD too has some tricky mobs and tricky pulls so be careful. Especially it has some mobs that silence, Frozen Spirits. Since you can't taunt, thunder clap or demo shout while silenced, make sure the dps take care of them fast by marking them with an evil skull. When commencing the ascent up to Amnennar you'll get to fight rather bigger packs of mobs, and overpulling is easy at some places. There is a rare spawn in here, Ragglesnout, who drops a really nice shield, Savage Boar's Guard. And when I say rare I mean raaaare. Don't expect to see him. I've encountered him maybe twice in 50 runs.

Uldaman (35-40)
Uldaman used to be a real hazzle to get to, especially in the old days when there were no summon stones. Imagine that. It is placed quite off over in Badlands, where usually no person had the flight point to get to. Getting a whole group there could really take some time. Thank lord for the lfg-system. Uldaman is also a really big instance and quite a maze. If you haven't been here before you'll definitely get lost and also probably miss some of the bosses. There is also a slight bug to think about. One of the bosses (Ironaya) needs to be summoned by getting two items, one of which is dropped by another boss (Revelosh). The same person needs to have those items to make them work, and that wasn't much of a problem before because you could always trade them. But nowadays you'll end up in groups with people who aren't from the same server as you and therefore can't trade things between you. Make sure whoever gets the Shaft of Tsol from Revelosh grabs the Gn'kiv Medallion from the chest, or you probably won't be able to summon Ironaya. Most of the instance is quite easy though, only the Stonevault Troggs generally pose any trouble.
Here you can find the Lost Vikings as bosses, and they'll drop a nice shield for you! Battered Viking Shield. They also drop a bow which gives hit, Baelog's Shortbow, which I strongly recommend getting. Ancient Stone Keeper, a slightly off boss which is easily missed, drops some really nice tanking gloves, Cragfists.

That's it for this level bracket, see you at level 50 where we have gotten epic mount, plate gear and one of the best tanking skills we'll get our hands on - Shield Slam.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Going back to the roots of WoW (part 2)

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In part 2 of my "Going back to the roots of WoW", where we look at the inspirations Blizzard have had for different raid instances, we have come to the raid instances of Burning Crusade. Just like back in "vanilla" WoW, as the original part of WoW is commonly called, the design of the raid instances in Burning Crusade vary greatly. We have everything from jungle temples like something taken from Indiana Jones, to castles on dark mountain sides like something from Bram Stokers Dracula, and nearly everything in between. Let's take a closer look.

Zul'Aman
Bearing great resemblence with the "vanilla" raid instance Zul'Gurub, this is also inhabited by the forest trolls, more precisely the Amani tribe. Like in Zul'Gurub you will face different animal aspects, and finally the end boss himself - Zul'Jin, who represents every animal aspect in the instance under one fight. This instance is located in Ghostlands, which was a new area added with the BC expansion, but not placed in Outlands. It lies quite close to the Blood Elf starting area and home capital city of Silvermoon. Lorewise Zul'Aman used to be the center of a huge troll inhabited area, but is now all that remains of the troll empire since the trolls were nearly vanquished by humans and high elves. Part of the high elves later turned into the Blood Elves and joined the horde. Although there are factions of trolls who belong to the horde as well (the playable trolls), Zul'jin was greatly angered at the hordes decision to let the elves join them and decided to collect a mighty army to exact his revenge.

The instance holds six bosses, four aspect animals - Akil'zon (eagle), Nalorakk (bear), Jan'alai (dragonhawk), Halazzi (lynx) and the two final bosses Hex Lord Malacrass and Zul'jin who both represent every animal aspect. Hex Lord Malacrass is among the toughest bosses I have encountered in the game since his abilites are based in what classes the raid brings to the fight and therefore vary greatly from fight to fight. This brings an amount of randomness to the encounter not seen in any other boss fight (that I've seen).

The instance also features the character Harrison Jones, who help the players to enter the instance by smashing on a huge gong. He himself meets a tragic end quickly after but actually reappears in Northrend, once again fighting the trolls.
Like with Zul'Gurub, Zul'Aman is heavily inspired by the Aztec society, with animal aspect gods and the whole "temple in the jungle" theme.

Sunwell Plateau
When released Blizzard had planned for it to be the toughest raid instance until the release of Wrath of the Lich King. It seems they succeeded since some of the bosses in SP are among the toughest ever (but I've never fought them myself unfortunately). SP is lead by the eredar demon lord Kil'Jaeden who is also the acting leader of the Burning Legion. The agenda of the Burning Legion is simply to eradicate any life in the universe. This of course has to be prevented, which is the reason the player attacks the SP. One encounters different demons and underlords of Kil'Jaeden on the path to fighting him. The idea of a Burning Legion falling upon creation, lead by something that looks alot like a version of the devil, is probably borrowed from the apocalyptic ideas of the Bible, and many other religions. Kil'Jaeden corrupts good into evil, like the boss M'uru, who is a fallen and corrupted naaru. The naaru are the gods of the Draenei.
The design of SP is alot like the capital home town of the Blood Elves, Silvermoon. The colours mostly run in yellow and red and the architecture resembles what Rivendell looks like in the "Lord of the Rings" movies. It gives the impression of great luxury and sophistication, with magic broomsticks sweeping the streets. If you want to know more about why Kil'Jaeden has decided to reside in the Sunwell of the elves, I suggest looking up wowwiki.com.

Black Temple
The black temple used to be a not so black temple, when it was the holy site of the draenei. However, the evil warlock Gul'dan decided it was going to be the headquarters of his Shadow Council, counquered it and turned it into the Black Temple. The final boss of BT is Illidan Stormrage, yet another good person turned corrupt by the evils of the world in the Warcraft lore. Anyone who has played the warcraft series will know quite alot about Illidan and have a special connection to him. Since I haven't I don't know much about him, and I don't sigh whenever I see his face. I even know a girl who has him tattooed on the back. It's a cool tattoo though.

Illidan used to be a night elf demon hunter. In attempts to be even more powerful he committed some horrible acts and was imprisoned for 10.000 years, something which also gained him the epithet "the Betrayer". Like in Sunwell Plateau, the player encounters numerous demons and underlords of Illidan before being able to fight him as the final boss. The design of Black Temple is like the counterpart of Sunwell Plateau, with dark colours instead of bright ones. It is still a temple design though, and really has the feel of a normal place turning corrupt. Sort of like in Silent Hill, when there is a "normal" phase and a "everything is evil and horrible" phase.

Karazhan
One of my alltime favorite instances, Karazhan is the biggest instance of BC with its twelve different bosses. What makes the instance so much fun is probably that although every boss is fought in the same setting, the castle of Karazhan, the fights are greatly varying and fun. The design of Karazhan is one of the best in all of WoW, with a cozy feeling of being in the castle of Dracula. There is no fight with a Dracula character however, and the final boss is Prince Malcheezar. Not much is known of him except that he resembles Kil'Jaeden alot and probably is a sub-commander of the Burning Legion.

The bosses of Karazhan actually deserve their own post, and I intent to write about it more thoroughly sometime ahead. Karazhan became the most popular raid instance Blizzard had ever done when it was released, which probably also had to do with the fact that is was the first 10 man raid (not counting Stratholme and Scholomance) and therefore accessible to a larger number of players (like myself). I have run Karazhan countless times, and somehow it never got boring. It has the perfect balance between trash mobs and boss encounters, and like mentioned each boss was a fun and interesting challenge. Some included playing chess against the Magus Medivh, yet another corrupted good guy, or taking part in a theater event which could either be Romeo and Juliet, Little Red Riding Hood or The Wizard of Oz.

Like I said the instance of Karazhan is clearly inspired by the castle of Dracula, and very well designed to give a cozy/creepy feeling and keeping the pace up. Karazhan shouldn't be missed by anyone, although of course some of the charm is taken away when the events aren't as difficult on higher levels.

Serpentshrine Caverns
In Zangarmarsh the Nagas have begun to pump water into a huge artificial lake called the Coilfang Reservoir. Inside it the leader of the Naga, Lady Vashj, has set her lair. The nagas used to be high elves but after using their magic recklessly and irresponsibly they were mutated into humanoid sea serpents. Their leader, Lady Vashj, decided to follow Illidan into Outlands and help him, since she thought he could offer her more powers. It is her plans to help Illidan the players are to divert by attacking her in her lair. On their way to her, she being the last boss, the players will encounter different sea creatures and underlords of hers. One of the more notable encounters is The Lurker Below which has to be fished from a special pool.

The design of SSC is that of an underwater complex. Alot of the raid is on bridges over water, some fights are by water and against water. The colours run in watery green and blue. It is quite comfy and feels a little like being underwater, although you're not. Alot of people think the Naga will return in the upcoming expansion Cataclysm, and that there will be another raid instance like SSC. It would be fun, but we'll have to wait and see.

That's all the raid instances of the Burning Crusade, if I remember correctly. Next time we'll take a look into the raid instances of Wrath of the Lich King. See ya then!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The blog of Robert Scott

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Over at the internet site of the swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (dn.se) I found an article about a Robert Scott twittring about his trip to Antarctica between the years 1910-1912. Huh? I thought. Either he is really old or they've got the dates wrong. But no, this is really about Robert Scotts trip to Antarctica 1910-1912. But it isn't Robert Scott writing but the Scott Polar Research Institute over at Cambridge University. They thought it'd be a great idea to publish Robert Scott's log, which is quite thourough, so that anyone could get a look at it. And I agree, it's a great idea! Although Robert Scott unfortunately died in his attempt to reach the Antarctica, he came pretty far and it should make some interesting reading. Maybe his dreadful end will actually make it even more interesting to see what events lead up to it.

Scott was beat by a narrow margin by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen. On his way back he and his company of four men perished. Apparently Scott used a less good tactic to get to Antarctica, among others he used horses instead of dogs (which Amundsen used) and they couldn't stand the cold as good.

They will post the corresponding posts from his log each day, as if he was blogging. So the log from january 23d will be posted january 23d. That was three days ago, but you get the idea. It seems to be starting around end of November 1910, and I don't know when it ends. But I'll follow it and see!

The article can be found here, but it's in swedish -->http://www.dn.se/nyheter/varlden/scott-twittrar-fran-antarktis-sent-omsider-1.1033172

The blog can be found here, and it's in english --> http://www.spri.cam.ac.uk/museum/diaries/scottslastexpedition/1910/11/25/26-10-1910/

Monday, January 25, 2010

Going back to the roots of WoW

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Every genious has, no matter how smart they are, some sort of inspiration for their ideas. The same goes with Blizzard (yes, I'd say creating WoW was a stroke of genious on their part). And the immense amount of lore they've packed into WoW is of course not stolen from somewhere (as far as I know), but actually created by themselves, over the years. It all started with Warcraft 1, released in 1994 and Blizzards breakthrough game, eventhough they had done good games before that like Rock n' Roll Racing and Lost Vikings. A history lesson of Blizzard and the series of WoW would be interesting of course, but I haven't actually played any of the old Warcraft games (yes shame on me) and wouldn't know much to say about them. Instead I thought we'd look into the inspirations Blizzard have taken when they created the game.

As always this will have to be parted into several posts because it would take too long to write it all in one go.

The whole World of Warcraft is of course based on the Warcraft series, which main theme is of a fantasy style. The fantasy concept however, the whole orcs, dragons and elves thing, was in fact invented by J.R.R Tolkien. Most people know this. Blizzard are far from the only to have done some heavy lending from Tolkiens ideas, in fact Tolkiens fantasy concept has become its own genre since then. All the races of WoW, albeit somewhat modified from their original appearances, are lent from Tolkiens world. One exception would of course be the undeads who follow a sort of old zombie myth. But like mentioned orcs and elves and also dwarves and trolls come from Tolkien (hobbits could be gnomes). Now Tolkien himself also lent from other places, he didn't exactly invent the idea of dragons or trolls. Like I said - everyone has inspirations. But Tolkien put all these old myths together into one world with its own rules, the fantasy world.

The lore of WoW is quite a thing to dig through for the interested. One can follow the story fairly well in the Warcraft series and thus see what role WoW has in the story line. If you want to know more about lore, wowwiki.com is a great place to look. The different raid instances of the game have all played a role in this story line, and Blizzard have used quite different settings to keep us entertained. Let's start from the beginning;

Molten Core
Apart from being one of Blizzards april fools jokes --> http://www.wowwiki.com/World_of_Warcraft:_The_Molten_Core <-- Molten Core was one of the first raid instances introduced in the game (along with Onyxia's Lair). It is located at the core of a big mountain (hence the name Molten Core). Being a raid of fire elementals it is based on the classic idea of the world consisting of different elements. These elements are water, earth, fire and air. These elements are a big part of the WoW world and have been used all through the game history. Many of the mobs are based on belonging to one element and many of the professions need elements to craft things. The idea of elements have been used in many cultures and traces of it can be found as far back as the beginning of writing. Some have added a fifth element, called the quintessence or sometimes referred to as Aether, but there is no fifth element in WoW. The fire element is so far the only element that has gotten its own raid instance in WoW.

Onyxia's Lair/Blackwing Lair
These are two different raid instances. Onyxia is the broodmother of the Black Dragonflight, her lair is located in a swamp. Blackwing Lair is lead by Nefarian, son of Deathwing (who will have a big part in Cataclysm I think). As the name implies, this instance too is about fighting the Black Dragonflight as is located in a mountain (same mountain as Molten Core actually). There are several Dragonflights in WoW, some are good and some are evil. The dragonflights are affecting basically every aspect of WoW, although you don't notice them much at first. The dragon concept however is an old myth, used over the entire world. It is in fact quite interesting that the dragon seems to appear in myths of people prior to them having any contact with eachother. In other means it has appeared simultaniously over the world. Dragons can be found in greek mythology, japanese, chinese, persian and vedic among others. The vedic also connect dragons with "nagas", a creature which also can be found at many places in WoW (we'll get to them in a later post).

Ahn'Qiraj
The style of Ahn'Qiraj is quite different from that of the rest of the WoW. It is located in a very dull desert and introduces C'thun as the end boss, one of the Old Gods in the warcraft lore. The idea of "old gods" and the name C'thun is clearly borrowed from H.P Lovecrafts stories. The top most picture is an interpretation of Cthulhu, as Lovecrafts creation is called. Cthulhu is part of the "great old ones" and plays a small but significant role in many of Lovecrafts stories. This implementation of Lovecrafts ideas is modest however, in comparison to what was going to be in Wotlk.
Most of the AQ instance isn't based on Lovecraft, but an egyptian style, with scarabs and versions of old egyptian gods as part of the enemy arsenal. These parables are either by name, like Ossirian (Osiris) and Anubisath Defenders (Anubis) or, and more common, by looks. Much of the bosses also resemble huge bugs, with Fankriss looking like a huge earwig, being one of the nasties looking things I've ever seen in a game (I nearly ran out of the room when I saw it). He can be seen on the bottom most picture.

Zul'Gurub
Located in a jungle, Zul'Gurub introduces Hakkar the Soulflayer as the end boss. The concept of Soulflayer, and the other bosses being different aspects of animals, is borrowed from the maya/aztec religions. Xipe Totec, meaning "our lord the flayed one" and part of the aztec religion, wore the skins of flayed people to bless the harvests. This isn't really what the final boss in Zul'Gurub does of course, but the connection is clearly there. All the boss encounters include fighting some sort of high priest and his animal aspect, like tigers (Thekal), panthers (Arlokk), raptors (Mandokir), bats (Jek'Lik), snakes (Venoxis) or spiders (Mar'Li). This has been connected to the troll race in WoW, where the later raid instance Zul'Aman shows the same design.

These are all the instances there were in the old WoW, We'll go through the raid instances of the first expansion, Burning Crusade, next time. Naxxramas was added to the game just before BC was released, and since it didn't get much attention then they re-released it for Wotlk. Therefore I will mention it later. See ya then!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What kind of player do you want to be?

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In WoW I usually think there are two kind of players; those who want and those who don't want. And before I explain what I mean by that I'll say that I don't usually ever think anything is black or white, and there are always extremes and/or uniqueness in any field, even WoW. But still, most players can be categorized into two different types. I've been both. And I don't think you have to be one or the other to enjoy the game more. Only you can say how to play your game. But WoW is still a MMORPG. The first M stands for Multi for a reason. You play with other people so in some cases it will be needed for you to do more stuff than you want to in order to do other stuff you want to, aka compromise. Kinda like working to being able to afford playing WoW. I'll explain.

Those who want - the striver
Some players see every pve or pvp encounter as a chance to learn something new. Some people try to dig every piece of information there is about something so that they can finish their own puzzle about what is good and what is bad. Some people look at their own effort and think; "what can I change to make things work even better?". Some look at their failures and think; "what can I do better?". "I" being the emphasized word here. Some people strive towards perfection. Perhaps not in everything they do, but in some area they have chosen for themselves. That is how they enjoy what they are doing. That is how they keep on enjoying it, by getting the feeling of learning something, implementing it and seeing that it works. As a sort of scientist, testing a theory, devising it into being as good as possible in every situation. To them WoW is a hobby.

Those who don't want - the content
Some players go with what works. Some people think there is no need to change a winning recipe. They can ask "what is the best way to do this?" but not wonder why. They accept that things work in a special way and go by it, but don't care much about putting time into going beyond what works. They look at their own effort and think "this works ok". They look at their failures and think "better luck next time, someone will make it work". They don't get that special kick out of feeling they contributed to the whole. All they want is to enjoy a moment of playing the game their way. They enjoy it more by knowing they can play it the way they like to. The game is a passed time, away from the boring "musts" and "needs" of the outside world. To them WoW is a way to spend some time doing something not boring, sorta like watching TV.

Both these ways of playing the game are good. And like I said I've been both. The problem is sometimes these two types clash and don't work well together. Blizzard has tried to do parts of the game that will keep both sides happy for a long time. It is clear though that some parts work better for the one type, and other parts for the other type. The content type, also sometimes referred to as "casual" which I think can be somewhat confusing at times, is ok with just logging on, doing some heroics and be done for the day. Or maybe level yet another alt just to be able to log on and do some quests. The striver however, usually puts all his effort into one char. That way it'll be easier to learn everything there is to learn about that particular class. They usually don't like questing (unless it's for achis) or doing heroics (unless you pull the whole instance in one go). They need challenge. The content type doesn't want much challenge, they want relatively easy rewards relatively fast. They don't have all that time to spend, or they simply don't want to spend it.

Raids is better for the striver. Especially new content. And this is where the most friction will arise, unless you've got an elitist guild who only invites strivers. The problem is you can't be too content and expect success in raid. Blizzard has actually designed most new raid encounters (not counting Naxx) to demand that you put some effort into your char, other than just passed time amusement. The first bosses of the raids in Wotlk so far have been easy enough to bring some passed time players. But the harder encounters, or the hard modes don't usually allow for those kind of players. They put a strain on the rest of the group, to put it mildly.

Why am I bringing this up? Because some people don't realize that their playstyle doesn't work in the entire game. There will be parts of the game where you have to realize that you will have to adapt to the needs of the rest of the group. This goes both ways of course. The striver who wants to kick anyone from a heroic who doesn't display more than 7k dmg will probably not get to do many heroics a day (unless he is tank perhaps). But some things are needed not because the players demand them, but because the game does. No one can tell anyone how to play the game, be it content-style or striver-style. But they can tell you that your way of playing doesn't work for a particular part of the game. Then either accept it and back down, or change if you really want to experience that part of the game.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's your name again?

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Most of our names have a meaning. Mine for example - Rebecca - stems from the hebrew word Rivqah which could have meant "a snare". I usually like to think of it as meaning "captivating" ;) . Love, which is the swedish form of Louis, which is the french form of Ludovicus, which is the latin form of Ludwig, stems from the german name Clodovech which means "famous warrior". If you'd like to find out more about your own name I found a really good site called --> http://www.behindthename.com <--
But this isn't what I'm after here.

Names not only mean things, they also have a feel to them. Some names feel old, some feel strange, some feel foreign or very native. If anyone in sweden told me their name I could immediately say what kind of feeling that name has for a swede, or at least to me. Rebecca feels like a western name, although it comes from a hebrew word. It feels like you could be called Rebecca in most European countries and American countries too. Love feels like an unusual swedish name, even in sweden it is quite rare.

Then there are the common non-christian sounding names which can be divided into old-people names and young-people names. Old people names would be names like Kurt, Sten, Torsten or Rolf for males and Gudrun, Ingegerd or Gun for females. Non-christian young people names could be names like Erik, Wiggo or Björn for males and Elin/Helena, Linda or Jenny for females.

Most people in sweden are named after the common christian sounding names though, like Tomas, Stefan or Martin for males and Maria, Anna or Sara for females.
Modern sounding names (or names commonly given to small children nowadays) could be Maja, Nellie or Moa for females and Lucas, William or Arvid for males.

Then there are names which can be given to either males or females like Kim, Robin or Eli.

Then you have the ugly sounding names (sorry if you're reading this and this is your name :/) like Einar, Roger or Harald for males and Ulla, Tora or Hedda for females. Ugly names are quite subjective though, if you know someone who's awesome with an ugly name, the name tends to become cooler too, like with Rutger Hauer.

Obvious foreign sounding names would be most asian, arabic or african sounding names. Like Rei, Mohammed or Idris.

Well there you have some examples of how names could mean something to someone without actually talking about the original meaning.

Everytime I hear the name of someone I give some thought to the feeling of their name and if it could say something about their personality (usually it says slightly more about their parents though). But then I wondered, how does this work in other countries? When I hear foreign names I don't know if they have an "ugly", "old" or "modern" feel to them in their country. Like the japanese names Tohru or Yozu. What kind of feel do they have to japanese people? To me they only sound foreign. Or the english names Susan, Jean or Ethan. What kind of feel do they have to people with english as their native language?

I'd really like to know. Maybe I should simply ask; How does your name feel?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quests I'll never ever do again

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We've all done them, the quests where we at first just run around like crazy not understanding one thing about what we're supposed to do. Then we stop and read the quest text and realize, we're not supposed to understand what to do. Or if we understand it we realize it will take at least half an hour to complete it. The title says it all, there are some quests I've sworn I'll never do again. Then there are some quests you have to do if you're unlucky (just read further down and you'll see) but that I really wished they would revamp.

Blizzard have become much better at designing quests since the dawn of the game, and some quests have been removed, changed or turned into non-mandatory. Also they made a change to drop rate which means the drop rate of a quest item increases the more mobs you kill. That means eventually you'll have 100% chance to get your quest item. I wish that was true for Sida's bag.

Here are some examples of awful quests though.

A New Ore Sample
"Find an Unrefined Ore Sample on a Gravelsnout Digger or Surveyor and bring it to Tatternack Steelforge at Camp Taurajo in the Barrens."
The problem: There are like three Gravelsnout Diggers in all of Thousand Needles, and they don't even have a 100% chance to drop this. This mean you will probably have to run all around Thousand Needles several times before being lucky enough to find it. I've never managed to complete this quest before I outleveled the zone and left.

Call of Water
The shaman class quest chain to get their Water Totem.
The problem: In order to get your totem you need to visit three radically different places in Azeroth. Barrens, then Tarren Mill, back to Barrens, then Ashenvale, back to Barrens, then Silverpine Forest (out by the coast) and finally Barrens again. This at level 20. Back in the days you weren't even close to getting a mount at that level! But eventhough you can do it with a mount nowadays it still sucks badly.

Trial of Water
The druid class quest chain to get their Aquatic Form.
The problem: Although it doesn't require as much travelling as the quest Call of Water, it still requires alot of travelling. And at level 16 you don't have mount even at these times. Having to travel between Silverpine and Barrens takes alot of time if you have to run by foot. Only good thing is you can train this skill now and don't have to do the quest to get it anymore.

Morrowgrain Research
"Use an Evergreen Pouch with a Packet of Tharlendis Seeds and two Un'Goro Soil samples to try and cultivate samples of Morrowgrain."

The problem: Evergreen Pouch? Tharlendis Seeds? Un'goro Soil? Morrowgrain?! You want me to run around with all this crap in my bags for one quest? You don't even get a morrowgrain by every try to cultivate and the damn thing has a 10 minute cooldown. Why do quest items even have cooldown. And if you run out of Seeds or Pouches you have to buy more. Damn this quests is bad.

Digging Through the Ooze
"One of the oozes at Ironbeard's Tomb has Sida's bag, retrieve it and bring it back to her in Menethil Harbor."
The problem: Being one of the old quests this item doesn't have an increasing chance to drop. It has approximately 5% chance to drop from any of the oozes in Wetlands which means, if you're unlucky, you can get to kill many many oozes. I have gotten it on my second or so kill. I have also been forced to kill more than 50 before getting it at some times. In any case this quest sucked.

Helcular's Revenge
"Retrieve Helcular's Rod from the Yeti and bring it back to Novice Thaivand in Tarren Mill"

The problem: Much like with Sida's Bag, this item had a horrible droprate. In fact in the old days it had something like 0,5%-1% chance to drop. For real! Since then they've bumped the drop rate considerably though and now you usually don't have to kill more than ten or so to get the item. So this is a quest I still do actually. There are several quests who used to have quest items that just never dropped, A Recipe For Death is another good example.

I'll surely come up with more later on. Did I miss any?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

What's wrong with you, druid?

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I started writing this post and then firefox crashed... Now I have to rewrite it all. Ah well...
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Although I've been listening to a druid (Love) whine for more than 3 years I didn't want to take his word for their suckiness until I had tried them out for myself. Also you need some kind of reference to really know how bad things are.

I've been playing tank warrior and tanka paladin for quite some time now. I've also had a little druid hanging around waiting for me to level it to 80. It has been around for a really long time now and I still haven't gotten it to 80. I've tried different specs for questing but nothing really stuck with me. Finally I thought, maybe I just don't want to quest with it. I specced resto and decided only to level it by instances. Before the LFG-System this took a really long time. Standing around on a char I couldn't do anything else with didn't feel particularly fun either. But then came the LFG-System. Now I could get a group in 5 minutes instead of 50. But I still didn't like waiting around for even 5 minutes, so I thought to really get the fast groups I had to be a tank. I collected some scrap greens with stamina and agi and started my tanking career. Immediately I noticed some issues with bear tanking that are quite annoying.

No interrupt or silence?
No, bears have no interrupts or silences what so ever. The only thing which could be used as an interrupt is also a stun (bash) which doesn't help much for positioning. This means they have to rely on the rest of the group to help them with this issue. And you can ask any tank how much they enjoy having to rely on the rest of the group on any matter.
What could be done about this? Simply give bears the cat forms Maim ability, with a 1 min cd if you like. That would at least give them something every other tank has.

Everything on gcd?
Yes, bears have nearly everything on gcd. They even had Barkskin on gcd until not so long ago! And they still have Berserking on gcd which is really annoying. As far as I remember the paladins Avenging Wrath isn't on gcd, and that isn't even the very last talent in a tree (like Berserking) but a free skill!
Just simply make it equal to spells like Avenging Wrath and take it off gcd already!

Rage starved?
Ok, this isn't an issue at level 80 I know. But consider this - there are two rage using tanks out there, warriors and druids. Warriors have no less than 2 different talents to lower the costs of their skills with no less than 6 rage. This will make for instance Devastate cost 2 rage, if fully talented. Druids have nothing of that, but their skills still cost as much as warriors and their rage regen is as good (bad?). Like I said, this isn't an issue at 80, but a huge issue at lower levels, at least in my experience. My Enrage is enough for one swipe and then I have to wait (!), for more rage. No tank ever wants to wait to be able to do their threat skills.

Some of the problems:
Enrage, the equivalent to Bloodrage, reduces total armor by 16%. That is definitely worse than the penalty of Bloodrage (16% base hp), which you can remove with a minor glyph too. Using Enrage during raidbosses is usually a no no.
Feral charge, the equivalent to charge, costs rage instead of generating it. What's up with that? It does the same thing, is there for the very same purpose, and yet this horrible difference.

So, something has to be done. Feral druids are suffering too much from them (Blizzard devs) having to squish two totally different spec into one tree. No other class in the game has this problem. It has lead to some unacceptable compromises which need to be fixed. Pronto!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do androids dream of electric sheep / Blade Runner

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Another christmas gift to Love, this time from my father. But this time I read it after him. My dad has some kind of thing for Blade Runner and probably owns like five different versions of the movie - Original Cut, Director's Cut, Director's Real Cut, Yet Another Cut For Money and Cut Just For The Heck Of It. I think he even has a collectors box. Funny things is, there are so many versions of Blade Runner they've even devoted that topic its own page over at wikipedia --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Versions_of_Blade_Runner <-- But that isn't so strange because Blade Runner, which is the movie adaptation of Philip K Dicks novel "Do androids dream of electric sheep", is a very good movie. It has great actors, a superb director and a really interesting script. The movie is actually even more interesting when you learn that it isn't much like the book. And even though I'd say the movie is better than the book, the book is definitely worth reading. The story of the book and the movie is about exactly the same, Rick Deckard (played by the ever great Harrison Ford in the movie) is on the hunt of some androids/replicants in both stories (as to why they have different names in the book vs the movie, see a little further down). And in both stories the main issue is whether it is ok to kill something we create to act and be like us? Can we really create something to be human without giving it human rights? A really interesting question of course. In the film however, they've made the issue even more interesting as the android/replicants are even more depicted as humans than in the book. In the book it is more about Deckards thoughts, in the movie we see more of the android/replicants thoughts. There are also other slight changes, like the ending (which is also better in the movie in my opinion) and the thing about the androids/replicants dying after a few years. Also John Isidore from the book has been turned into a quite different Sebastian of the movie. The book also has a strong focus on animals which is basically gone in the movie.

In the edition I read they had a chapter about how the movie was made. Apparently Dick sold the movie rights long before Blade Runner was done. Those rights then went from hand to hand until they landed on Ridley Scotts table and he thought "hey let's make a movie out of this". He hired some guys to rewrite the story so it would work better in a movie. No one told Dick anything about this though. Through some off ways he got his hands on the script and didn't like it at all. Legally there was nothing he could do about it, but he wrote an article in some newspaper saying he didn't like it and Ridley Scott decided to rewrite it again, this time with input from Dick. They decided the term "android" which Dick used for his novel was outdated and uncool and so they invented the term "replicants" for the movie instead.

Apparently the movie wasn't a great success at first but has since then become one of our greatest movie classics ever. If you have even the slightest interest science fiction movies or science fiction literature both the movie and book are a must.
Eventhough the changes they made to the movie made the story better, the book is still great. And there are parts of the book that aren't depicted in the movie which have their own charm. It isn't very long either, so I strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bringing Up Baby (1938)

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Bringing Up Baby, a movie from 1938 starring big names such as Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, is probably one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen. Not weird as in gross or plain out strange, like movies where you don't really get anything. The plot of Bringing Up Baby is extremely twisted, in a way that make you think "how did they think about this" in every scene. Actually the only scene that isn't crazy is the very first one, the only one where Katherine Hepburn isn't yet in the movie. Bringing Up Baby is a screwball comedy, like Burn After Reading but with a story that is, in my opinion, better and more advanced in that way that it manages to be sanely wacko. It's hard to explain, but I'll try.

Most screwball comedies are funny and weird because everyone act funny and weird and their joined idiotic decisions end up in a funny mess. Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels is another good example. What makes Bringing Up Baby slightly different is the fact that there is only one weird person making idiotic decisions, and that's Katharine Hepburns character. She manages all by herself, and without even trying at first, to get Cary Grants character into a real mess. By the end everyone is as lost about what is going on as she seemed to be in the beginning.

Both Grant and Hepburn do superb roles here, Hepburn even more so. They've even thrown in some scenes with a leopard which are just adorably hilarious (the leopard is the "baby" referred to in the movie title by the way). There are some funny side characters, who by trying to sort out the mess only make it worse of course, like in any good screwball comedy. The funny thing is just that, people trying to be normal around Hepburns character only make things worse.

From the very second scene (Hepburn isn't in the first one, remember?) I sat like on needles, not knowing whether to love it or wanna run around and scream, like Grants character must've felt. This is not because anything about the movie was bad, but simply because everything that happened was so screwbally you didn't know where to turn. Nothing about the movie feels planned, it is as if they just end up in situations and places that are just plain odd. But still totally natural (if you happen to get stuck with a weirdo like Hepburns character that is)!

I know some people mind movies being in black and white, which is just silly. If you ever liked a comedy with an extremely twisted plot, with no way of telling what will happen next, I strongly recommend watching Bringing Up Baby, one of the most notable screwball comdies I've ever seen.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Flaws with the LFG-System

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After some heavy pugging, as I am sure you've all done by now, I've noticed a few flaws with the LFG-System. Now don't get me wrong, the system is awesomely awesome, and one of the best changes Blizzard has ever done to WoW, if you ask me. Now I can effectively level my little druid just by instancing for example, if that is my cup of tea (and it happens to be). But nothing ever comes without flaws, and as we all know, talking about cons is way more fun than talking about pros.
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Idiots
There is of course the obvious flaw. When you pug something some of your members might be randomly picked (you can of course do an entirely premade group if you like though). And with randomness comes both the good and the bad. I've had two healers so far (both paladins by the way) with the legendary healing mace Val'Anyr. I've had tanks (not druids) with over 50k hp unbuffed. I've played with dpsers who do massive amounts of sweet dmg on everything and who even know how to use their other skills properly! And from the best I've had everything down to the worst, anyone who pugs regularly will encounter this prisma of people. Now I don't usually mind people being bad at playing, as long as the instance is still doable. The LFG-System won't choose undergeared people for certain instances either so you won't get stuck with a party of newly dinged 80's for HoR. But then there are the ones who might play well but who are just stuck up sons o' ...

I've had everything from death threats to minor curses. One of my favorites so far was a paladin tank who had a major fit at me when I kindly told him not to cast Exorcism in close combat, since it would prevent him from dodging/parrying/blocking and thus greatly increase the damage he takes. Since I was healing I quickly noticed what he was doing and hoped he'd be glad I'd helped him become a better tank by telling him something most people actually don't know. But no, of course not. He was outraged. Furious. I've never seen anyone tell me to shut up so many times.

As I told you here -->http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-warrior-tank-level-15-29-part-3.html<-- about when we pulled 15 pigs in RFK, the paladin healer bubbled me. One of the dps told him that would be a bad idea and something not to do in the future. That paladin had a fit as well. He said "I don't heal like people tell me, I heal like I want" or something like it in broken english. Well he'll hopefully learn soon enough. The idiots are avoidable though by, like mentioned, doing exclusively premades. I know some people who refuse to pug because they just hate ending up with idiots.
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Vote to Kick
Another flaw I noticed was with the Vote to Kick system. VtK is overall a great idea, since it doesn't give people the power to kick anyone at their whim. It is similar to a system used in many other games, like Left or Dead.

But when doing an UK normal on my druid the other day however, I noticed a slight flaw with this system. Just after having killed the first boss we noticed that one of the dps was offline. I saw in my recount that he had been offline for the entire boss fight and so I voted to kick him so we could get on with the instance. He was kicked and immediately after another dps says "oh have to go to dinner, be back in a while" and goes afk. Now here comes the problem. To get another member everyone who is in the party has to choose a role for themselves. The person who was afk however failed to do this for obvious reasons. I thought "ok, we'll give him until next boss to come back". We ran on, with a little slower pace of course considering we only had one dps and myself doing dmg (I was tanking). Coming upon the next boss, the afk dude had still not come back. 15 minutes at least had already passed so we decided it was time to get rid of him. Click "vote to kick" and get the message "You can't engage more votes at this time". I wasn't in combat or anything. I asked the other two to try, they said they got the same message. So here was our dilemma - we couldn't get a fifth member because one of our member was afk and so we couldn't put ourselves in the lfg-system. But we couldn't kick the afk-dude either because we had already kicked a member! I didn't know you could only kick one member per run! What if there are two people you need to kick, like on that run?

There was nothing we could do. We had to suck up and run on on three people. When we were closing up on the last boss we gane the VtK another try, and this time it worked. It seems you have a timer for how many times you can kick someone, and it is once every 30 min or something. We got two new dps just before last boss who ran all the way, killed him and we were done. Easy kill for them. A solution to this problem would simply be that if you don't accept a new role you will automatically get whatever you've already chosen to get into the LFG-System in the first place.
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Need before Greed
The changes to making Need before Greed the standard loot option kinda seems like a comment on what I wrote here -->http://jinxedthought.blogspot.com/2009/12/can-i-have-your-loot.html<--.

But other than that it works so so. There are, as I stated in above-mentioned post, times when people would like to need on something that isn't within their armor profficiency. A druid who wants a cloth item, a shaman who wants a leather item etc. These aren't strange happenings and even more important to be able to do when playing lowbie chars. One quasi-solution to this has been to greed and hope you win it. If you're lucky you won't have an enchanter in the group so whoever wins the item can trade it to ya. If you do have an enchanter however, all you'll get is a shard. A simple solution to this would be to make greed have precedence over disenchant roles. People who abuse this system could simply be kicked, but I think such a solution would definitely solve more problems than it would create.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 15-29 (part 3)

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Hello again! Here we are at my final post about how to be a warrior tank, in this particular bracket. Don't worry, there will be more about it later on, but no more about level 15-29. Let's get started right away.
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Gear
I could mention a little about what gear you should look for, but it's really simple. Just grab anything that has more stamina and/or strength than your current gear. Agility is also a good stat for you. It won't be much more complicated than that until level 60. For particular gear pieces to look after we'll go directly to...
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Instances
- Ragefire Chasm; the very first instance you'll get to do is RFC. It is the lowest leveled instance in the game with mobs varying from approximately 13-16. Since you can't enter through the lfg-system until you're 15 this instance will quite easy. It counts as a horde instance and that means you won't be able to do the quests as alliance. This is true for most horde instances and also vice versa of course. RFC is pretty straightforward. You can't get lost for long. There are two bosses that drop loot, Taragaman and Jergosh. As a tank there are some nice stuff for you to get in here. Taragaman drops Subterranean Cape and Cursed Felblade, and Jergosh drops Cavedweller Bracers and Chanting Blade.
- Wailing Caverns; (15-21) I never got pugged into this instance myself, so I don't know if that's for a reason. WC is an extremely confusing instance, and if you've never been there you could seriously spend hours trying to find your way. Unfortunately this is true for many lowbie instances, so might as well be ready for it and keep your fingers crossed that at least someone in your group knows where to go. As for gear there is alot to get since this instance holds so many bosses. Counting from the first boss - Kresh can drop one of two really nice shields, Kresh's Back or Worn Turtle Shell Shield. Lady Anacondra drops Serpent's Shoulders or Belt of the Fang. They may be leather but you should still grab them (unless a leather user wants them). Lord Cobrahn drops Cobrahn's Grasp or Leggings of the Fang. Lord Pythas drops Armor of the Fang or Stinging Viper. Skum can drop Glowing Lizardscale Cloak or Tail Spike. Lord Serpentis drops Footpads of the Fang or Savage Trodds. And finally if you do the escort, Mutanus can drop an awesome chest, Mutant Scale Breastplate. So you see, if you have the patience to do the entire instance, which takes quite a while, there is alot to get from it.
- Shadowfang Keep; (18-25) One of my favorite instances. It has a cozy aura about it, is fairly simple and doesn't take too long (compared to other lowbie instances). You can't really get lost in this instance, which is nice too. Rethilgore can drop Rugged Spaulders. Razorclaw can drop Butcher's Slicer or Butcher's Cleaver. Baron Silverlaine can drop Baron's Scepter or Silverlaine's Family Seal (good rings are rare, so that one is a real treat, if it drops. It never does). Commander Springvale can drop a nice shield, Commander's Crest. If you're lucky you'll find the rare spawn, Deathsworn Captain who can drop a nice chest, Phantom Armor. Fenrus can drop Black Wolf Bracers or Fenrus' Hide. Nandos can drop Wolfmaster's Cape and finally Arugal himself can drop Meteor Shard. So another goodie bag instance full of nice stuff.
- Gnomeregan; (24-33) Another one of those really confusing instances. Actually Gnomeregan is probably among the worst instances if you've never been to it before (Maraudon and Sunken Temple are pretty horrible as well). If you know it, there's an easy way from the start to the last boss which includes jumping from high places at some points. If you don't know about it however you'll be in this instance for quite some time. Also Gnomeregan is famous for it's odd overpulling, where tons of mobs just seem to come from nowhere. Scary to say the least. So is there anytning good to find there? If you go the fast way you won't do all the bosses, but I'll mention every loot worth grabbing anyway. Grubbis, one of the bosses usually skipped, drops some really nice gloves, Grubbis Paws. Viscous Fallout drops Toxic Revenger which should be taken not only because it's good, but because it sounds cool! Electrocutioner drops Electrocutioner Leg, another good weapon. He also drops the key for the backdoor, which could come in handy, so don't forget it. And finally Mekgineer Thermaplugg drops a nice shield, Thermaplugg's Central Core. It has spirit but that shouldn't keep you from taking it. The damage it deals actually equalled to about 2% of my total damage when I used it, and who could use such a shield better than a tank?
- Razorfen Kraul; (25-30) The final instance for this bracket is RFK. RFK is just like Gnomeregan in that way that it's easy to pull too many simply because the mobs react to someone through a wall or from beneath/above you. When I did this instance yesterday we accidentally pulled like 15 (seriously) pigs from the final gauntlet, although we were nowhere near it. I don't know how it happened but it happened. And although the paladin healer bubbled me, effectively cancelling all my chances of holding any aggro, we made it. Unfortunately there isn't much more to get from this instance as tank. There are some weapons mostly. Aggem drops Thornspike and Tusken Helm, Agathelos drops Swinetusk Shank and Charlga (the last boss not counting the escort) drops Pronged Reaver which is nice too.
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Professions
I'd thought we'd finish this with a little talk about Professions. Now as I see it there are three types of professions. The ones you have because they're good at level 80, the ones you have because they're good when you level and the ones you have because they will earn you money. Some professions are several of these at once of course. And earning money through a gathering professions like herbalism, mining or skinning is really easy as a lowbie. If you use what you gather for some crafting profession however the money will drop some. So it is really up to you whether you want to make money from your profession or something you can use.

Personally I like herbalism and alchemy on my prot tanks. Both herbalism and alchemy are really great for when leveling, and although it is not the best level 80 profession, it is still quite good. With herbalism you get Lifeblood, which has been a lifesaver many times. It's less useful at level 80 though, but still not bad. With alchemy you'll be able to supply yourself with much needed health potions and elixirs of different kinds. You'll need potions less and less though but they'll never be bad.

Mining and blacksmithing is another good option. You won't have very much use of blacksmithing until later on when you can craft really good stuff, but mining is without a doubt the most lucrative market to get into. A stack of copper ore can sell for 5g+ on any server. That's a lot of money for a little lowbie! And the ore only gets more and more expensive which means you'll make more and more money. If you want quick and easy money, mining is the way to go.

Being a warrior I'd also recommend all the secondary professions. First aid is a must have of course. Cooking is quite useful as well and unless you find fishing dreadfully boring (and it was until they buffed it) it'll be a good way to boost your cooking.
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That's it for this first bracket! Now it'll take a while before I post anything about the second bracket (30-39) simply because I have to level to 40 before I can do it ;) See ya then!
(All the pictures are either private or from Wowhead.com)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How to! Warrior Tank - Level 15-29 (part 2)

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Welcome back to my part 2 of this first bracket of levels in my guide of how to become a good and fun to play warrior tank! I talked you through glyphs and addons the last time, among other things. This time I thought we'd pay attention to skills and talents. Yet again I underestimate how much there is to say about this so I'll do a part 3 tomorrow with instancing and something I forgot to mention yesterday - professions. So pay attention.
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Talents
I'll take this tier by tier. By level 29 you'll be able to spec as far as into tier 4, but lets see what you should pick.
For your very first tp (talent point) there is a choice of some nice talents actually. Some classes have trees that start out really lame, like the arcane tree for mages. Anyhow, for your first point I'd either pick Shield Specialization or Improved Thunder Clap. They're both equally good so you could put your first 8 tp into them in any combination. In tier 2 both Anticipation and Incite are great talents. But you get the most out of Anticipation after you've specced Improved Revenge (since revenge benefits from dodge), so let's wait with that one. Grab Incite and then Shield Mastery, you'll want to lower the cooldown on Shield Block as soon as possible for more awesomeness. Once you've got full Shield Mastery, go on to grab Improved Revenge (since Revenge will be one of your main dmg skills, 20% extra dmg to it fits nicely. The stun is a great bonus), and put your last talents into Anticipation. EDIT 5/5: The stun has been removed since, but the skill has been changed for the better, making this talent even better to grab. Note: If you like to you can put a point into Last Stand at any time. I don't find it very useful though since you'll rarely end up in situations where you'll need it and where it will save your ass. That is more later on in the game in my opinion. So lets review;

Tp 1-8 into Improved Thunder Clap and Shield Specialization.
Tp 9-11 into Incite
Tp 12-13 into Shield Mastery
Tp 14-15 into Improved Revenge
Tp 16-20 into Anticipation
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Skills
As a level 15 prot warrior in defensive stance you won't have many skills to choose from yet, but most of them are really good. I won't mention the ones you can't use in Defensive Stance here.

Thunder Clap, Heroic Strike, Shield Block and Revenge will make up main arsenal of skills both when questing and instancing. These are the main skills needed to quest and tank properly and should be easiest to reach at all times. For instancing and tanking you'll add Sunder Armor. Since Sunder Armor is instant it is better to tank with than Heroic Strike, which is used on your next swing. With Sunder Armor you can pick mobs up fast, but it won't be needed when you solo-play. Therefore it should be close at hand, but not too close (you'll replace it eventually with devastate which is good for both instancing and solo-play). The same thing goes with taunt. Taunt is good for both solo-play and instancing though, since it is great for pulling mobs. You'll also use Bloodrage all the time, since warriors still have a few rage issues on low levels. Since it has a relatively long cooldown and only has to be used now and then, it could be even further away than Sunder Armor.

Even less used will Battle Shout be, it's a typical skill I use shift-combinations to cast. Since you want to cast it quite often, but not too often and you don't need it fast when you need it. That goes for Demoralizing Shout as well (and later on Commanding Shout).

Shield Bash is quite situational, but when you need it you need it fast. Keep it somewhere you can reach it with ease without it being a hog of a too good a place (I keep it on A). Disarm is similar to Shield Bash, but less needed. It's more of a comfy thing to use now and then and so can be placed slightly out of the way. The same goes with Mocking Blow. Some use Mocking Blow as a regular dmg skill and that isn't a bad idea. Unfortunately it has a long cooldown and doesn't do that much dmg. In my opinion it's not very useful.

As an arms warrior you use Rend all the time. From level 10-80 it will be one of your most important skills to use. But since you're not an arms warrior it will be less useful. For tanking, placing a Sunder Armor gives more threat than a Rend. For questing, I usually only use Rend when fighting several running mobs. That way I don't have to run after them when they run, since I know they'll die from the dot eventually, and can focus on the mobs I'm still fighting instead.

Intimidating Shout and Challenging Shout can become really handy from time to time. Intimidating Shout when questing mostly and Challenging Shout when instancing. So keep them close, like Bloodrage.

And finally, at level 28, you get your first real tanking cooldown (unless of course you've specced into Last Stand) - Shield Wall. I usually keep my tanking cooldowns and trinkets and such to the F-buttons. Remember that just like with Shield Bash they are quite situational, but it will be extremely important to reach fast and easy once you need them. So give their positioning some good thought.

The easiest way to keep threat at level 15 is probably;
Run in (don't stance dance with charge) - Thunder Clap every cooldown - Keep Shield Block up as often as possible- Revenge as often as possible - Spread Sunders.
 If you want to pull mobs together for a bigger pull, spam Demo Shout while running to keep mobs on you and Thunder Clap as soon as you've collected all the mob.s
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That's it for today, welcome back tomorrow for what will (hopefully) be the last part of the first bracket!