Sneaky McSneakybits

Persistent Stuff

Trove 2014-01-29 06-10-34-60 It has been quite a while since I last talked about Trove on my blog.  For a bit I had been recording regular segments of me exploring the world, then after roughly six of them I just stopped.  Namely this coincides with me getting super into World of Warcraft raiding for a bit.  I however have continued to explore the game each time they add a new build.  At this point it is hard to remember exactly what the state of the game was when I last talked about it.  Currently we have fully persistent cornerstones, and you can see mine on the right-hand side of the image above.  It is still very much a work in progress, but essentially I was trying to maximize the space available and still look like something I could pick out at a distance as “mine”.

Currently there are four levels above ground and two below ground, the first of which below has my workbench and block transmuter thingy.  One of the cool things that they added in within the last few patches is the ability for your crafting inventory to survive between server resets.  This means I finally have a real reason to mass harvest materials for use later, since I am not constantly losing everything each time a patch goes in.  My biggest wish however is that we could craft some weapons to replace the starter crap.  Each time the server resets I rush around trying to get decent enough weapons to leave the first tier zones.  In this present patch it feels like maybe they nerfed the drop rates a bit, as I slaughter a few dozen ladybugs and bees this morning and have gotten nothing at all but cubits… the crafting currency.

Another cool thing they are doing is replacing the in game weapon drops with ones created by players.  When you get an item, it now says who the weapon was created by.  It was pretty cool the other night when I got a nifty rapier drop and noticed it was created by a friend of mine CaptainCursor.  Since the community is relatively small at present, this adds a whole new level to the game since you are constantly running into things created by names you recognize.  You can check out the latest patch notes over on the Trove reddit.

Sneaky McSneakybits

rift 2014-01-29 06-31-43-93 Yeah I have no clue why I named this subsection and the blog post this…  brain does things sometimes.  Last night my most important mission was to finish leveling my rogue to 60, and consume all of the various loot boxes I had gathered up along the way.  At some point they made it so that you are guaranteed a lockbox of some sort from your weekly patron gift.  Since my warrior Belghast is already fairly well geared, or at least well enough to begin raiding…  I figured I would stockpile them to give my rogue a quick gear boost upon dinging.  Turns out it worked pretty well at doing just that.  Between the lockboxes and about 50 plat in select purchases I was able to get well past the 300 hit requirement for expert dungeons.  I did not however get to run one as we spent a good chunk of the evening out and about last night.

In theory the queue should go pretty fast since I am equally comfortable Barding it up as support or going dps as either my Marksman spec or my Nightblade primary dps one.  Going back and playing rift has made me realize just how much I love the Rift Rogue and truly dislike playing a WoW Rogue.  While I got Gloam to 90, and I am extremely happy I did so that I could do the living steel transmutes I needed to craft my Sky Golem…  I really don’t think he is going to get much play.  Quite simply put…  Belgarou my feral druid is a better rogue than my rogue is…  or is at least a more interesting one.   I have just come to realize I don’t really like the way rogues in wow play.  Not sure what it is about the play style but it just isn’t for me anymore, especially now that I feel other classes like Retribution Paladin do the rogue combo point thing better.

Ultimately my key frustration with WoW rogues is that combo points are built in the target instead of a buff that stacks on the rogue itself.  Warhammer Online got this right initially with the Witchhunter class, which was by all purposes a “better” rogue.  I realize at this point the combo points on target thing is tradition, but it simply does not work that well.  While saying the Rift rogue is better, is a bit disingenuous since it is essentially a wow rogue, hunter, druid, and a few other classes that don’t exist in wow rolled into one.  I think the main reason why it “works” better is that the combo point mechanism is on the rogue, not the mob.  This adds a bunch of interesting gameplay elements like building your combo points on the boss, and then using your combo dump to execute weaker encounters.  It is just at this point that the WoW rogue seems so much less interesting than the other “Rogue like” combo point classes.

Onyxia Mount Patrol

Wow-64 2014-01-29 06-49-55-23 After the time in Trove and Rift, I settled in for a little bit of Tuesday raid reset madness over in World of Warcraft.  For better or worse, there are several raids that I solo each week on multiple characters for an attempt at the various pets, tansmoggy bits, and every elusive mounts.  The start of each week tends to be me making the trek out to Dustwallow Marsh to beat up on Onyxia.  First off I have to bitch a little bit, because post Cataclysm they have made it a royal pain in the ass to get to Onyxia for Alliance players.  The fastest route I have figured out is fly straight south out of Stormwind, hop the boat at Booty Bay, and then fly to Dustwallow from there.  All of that involves flying across several zones and hoping that you happen to arrive at Booty Bay just in time to land on the boat.

Of course like normal she didn’t drop me a mount, or anything else of interest for that matter but at this point I can easily solo her as Retribution Paladin and Frost Deathknight, so I do this little interchange twice a week.  I need to cycle through some of my other characters and see if I can build a spec for them that can bring her out of the air in phase two.  I might be able to gather up enough timeless isle gear to make a passable Boomkin spec on my druid, and I think in theory I could probably do it on as Enhancement Shaman.  I do not think however that my Rogue or Warrior will be of much use in my quest for her mount.  I need to check with my friend Rylacus and see if he has any master tips for dropping her out of the air.  The one time I tried to do the fight as a Blood DK it literally took 30 minutes for my diseases/icy touch/deathcoil to do enough damage to get her back on the ground.

The highlight of the evening in WoW however was me flying over to Ahn’Qiraj on a whim.  Turns out that I now have enough physical damage to solo the Twin Emperors fight.  This had long been a stumbling block for me when it came to soloing AQ40.  The other big hurdle was viscidious, however since I dual wield frost… I simply switched my razorice enchanted one-hander to my main hand and that seemed to do the trick for shattering him.  Past that howling blast was more than enough frost damage to freeze the big blob.  I am still missing two pets from this place, so I can see adding it to the weekly faff farming rotation.  I did not really have time to do my BWL run on my paladin, I am still missing a few pieces of judgement… so I am sure over the next few days I will be getting that in.  Since the eggs are a pain in the ass on anyone other than my Deathknight, I generally grab a random person from the guild who needs transmoggy bits before venturing into the dungeon.  My hope is to find a time when Scarybooster can be online, and drag his butt through with them.

Kickstarting Regrets

Patron Buffs

rift 2014-01-28 06-04-39-64 Last night I just was not feeling the raid thing.  Monday nights are traditionally the open flex night in House Stalwart, but that night has always been an optional evening since it is not really attached to any specific raid group.  As such I decided to mill around over in Rift and work on my rogue.  Earlier in the day I had complained about how slow the 56-60 game was.  To be truthful Storm Legion as a whole is much more sluggish and prodding than the old world content, and by the time you reach 56 it slows down again.  Thankfully @gamer_lady came to the rescue by reminding me that there are patron buffs.

I think I began the night around halfway into 58 and wound up ending the night 15% away from 60.  The buffs make a massive difference in the speed at which you level, especially with quest turn-ins.  I hit a sequence in Argent Domain with tons of quest turn-ins and saw my xp just skyrocket.  Tonight if I get back into Rift I will likely finish off the push to 60, and hopefully be able to open all the various lockboxes I have saved up for his ding.  Additionally I am pretty close to finishing off runecrafting, so here is hoping the greens I currently have in my bags are enough to carry me over that finish line.  I think runecrafting was the last of the trade skills that I had no maxed out, or at least I vaguely remember finishing off artificer the last time I played seriously.

Kickstarting Regrets

pantheon-cqa-epl-116 The theme that I keep seeing repeated out on kickstarter is that designers are using it as a way to work through their past regrets.  Each time a game fails to grab market share there are a myriad of reasons why it happens.  However in the case of recent kickstarter campaigns it feels like each designer has their own internal reason why they feel a project failed.  In the case of Camelot Unchained, it seems like Mark Jacobs feels that Warhammer online failed because it simply was not pvp enough.  So as a result Unchained is being designed to be this love letter to PVP in all its glory.  I am sure there is a niche that wants to do nothing but pvp, but in my experience the only aspect of Warhammer I really liked at all…. was the PVE content.  So I wish Jacobs luck on his journey because he is building a game I simply am not interested in.

Similarly in the past weeks Brad McQuaid started his kickstarter for Pantheon: The Fallen.  The pitch so far seems eerily familiar to the one I can remember hearing for Vanguard.  Hardcore game with mandatory group centric game play, and some really complex systems to add depth to the world.  It seems like McQuaid’s regret is that Vanguard was not hardcore enough, and definitely in the post Sigil games era it became much more casual and solo friendly.  The thing is… the Vanguard he proposed really failed to get serious market approval, and SOE watered it down to try and find a market for it.  I realize this might be “too soon” since SOE just announced they were cutting Vanguard from their lineup… and honestly that depresses me quite a bit…  but it is very obvious that McQuaid has a very different reason in his head for why that game didn’t meet expectations.

Wish Them Well

camelotunchained This is not to say that I don’t think both Pantheon and Camelot Unchained will not be modest successes.  In both cases they are feeding to a relatively underserved sub-demographic of gamers.  The problem is… that really is a niche within a niche within a niche and I feel has some pretty slim market potential.  As romantic as I feel the vision of Pantheon is, I know personally I simply cannot play that sort of a game.  I need a game where I can find a group quickly and one that I can also have meaningful solo game play and progression.  Gone are the days when I could sit for five hours in the plane of hate camping an epic mob with friends. 

My blocks of time are more in half hours and hours at a time these days, and at any given time I might need to be pulled away from the screen.  As a result I have to play games that do not penalize me for this.  So while I am nostalgic for the days of sitting outside Karnor’s Castle and forming groups…  I also remember the hours upon hours I sat around doing absolutely nothing because I did not have said group.  Granted this is me projecting a lot of my own thoughts on these games, and very little information is really available about them.  However the pitch just does not sound like something I can really participate in. 

Ultimately I hope all of these new MMOs succeed, and even though games like Wildstar are strictly in the “not for me” column…  we need more MMO success than failure if we hope to keep our favorite genre alive.  Additionally there needs to be a great adjustment for what exactly “success” means.  If 100,000 players keeps the game running and turns a minor profit… then man that sounds like success to me.  World of Warcraft skewed our reality, and just with my opinions of the community… it is time for a reset.  No game has been as successful as WoW has been, so it is clearly an outlier and not the mold by which all games need to measure up.  Until that sort of baseline adjustment happens… all new games will end up being judged as failures.

Stalwart Ebonheart

Small World After All

Yesterday I had a pretty interesting chain of events happen, that have left me all warm and fuzzy.  At some point yesterday I tweeted a general complaint about how steam seems to be incapable of flagging on a machine level that we have already installed the various pre-requisites like DirectX.  This tweet seemed to develop a life of it’s own as it got re-tweeted around a bit and favorited.  Most of the people were extremely familiar to me, but one of the folks retweeting was completely new.  In my current mode of trying to reach out more to help foster the community I followed Maevrim.

It turns out the two of us have been running in the same circles for years spanning two different games and two different servers.  For the bulk of her time playing World of Warcraft, it seems as though she was in the guild Gnomes Will Eat You on Argent Dawn… a guild House Stalwart folk are very familiar with.  During the old days our two guilds did quite a bit together, and these days my raid has the very amazing Frosti… that has a sort of dual citizenship with characters in both House Stalwart and Gnomes Will Eat You.  Turns out she also plays on Faeblight where the House Stalwart Rift branch is located.

To make things even more awesome, she is looking for a new guild home.  Of course my guildmasterly ninja instincts started kicking in and I have been trying to welcome her into the Stalwart fold.  Its true… we are kind of like a cult but I promise that our koolaid isn’t poisoned much.  Scan a few hours later, turns out she was on a podcast and I somehow got mentioned.  Now I seem to have missed the reference or it was said before or after the started recording.  But all of this makes me realize just how small and relatively tight knit a community we have.  Like I said the other day, it is all a matter of perspective.  We might think we are alone in the void, but then something happens to make us realize just how connected we are as a whole.

Stalwart Ebonheart

SkyrimESO Since April 4th 2014 will be here before we know it, I figure it is time to start planning for the House Stalwart Ebonheart Pact branch in Elder Scrolls Online.  For some time I have known that I would be playing this game at release, and my hope is to successfully weave in time of both it and World of Warcraft.  The goal is to play a few nights a week, because really I am a sucker for anything Elder Scrolls…  and you would have to cause a real cataclysm to keep me away from it.  For a long time I have also known I would be aligning with the Ebonheart Pact, in part because my three favorite races are the Nord, Dunmer and Argonians.  After an impromptu poll of the folks who signed up on the brief Tamriel Foundry site we had… it seems like that is the case for most of the guild.

Since House Stalwart has always been a social guild… and more family than anything else… I thought I would open things up this time to my blogger family as well.  I know Maric and some of the Mercy Corps folks will be joining Stalwart in this endeavor, and my hope is to gather up as many good people as I can before the launch.  I am sure a good chunk of the current and former Stalwart members will be joining us as well.  Basically all sociable folks are welcome spending they are agreeable to the standard House Stalwart Three Tenets.   While I founded House Stalwart in World of Warcraft, the ethos that I helped foster has spanned so many games and will likely move into even more in the future.  My hope is that we will keep creating a connection that transcends the games we happen to be playing at the time.

If this type of environment sounds like a good fit for you, then please follow this link to our forums.  I created a brand new forum thread this morning, trying to gauge how many people we will have at launch.  If you have any issues setting up a forum account either drop me a line here, or ping me over twitter and I will see what I can do to assist you.  Also of note, we are primarily a Eastern Standard/Central Standard time zone guild, but have members with a pretty wide variety of playtimes.

Nightblade Finishing School

rift 2014-01-27 06-40-08-54 This weekend I also dipped my feet back into Rift spending a bit of time Saturday and Sunday working on my Nightblade.  I am not sure if I will ever make a third level 60, but I really do want to finish my rogue off who is currently sitting and 70% through 58.  While I enjoy the Storm Legion content on one level, on another it feels extremely grindy.  As such during the course of leveling Belghast to 60 I stalled out no less than four times.  Similarly Belgrave has stalled out quite a few in the process of getting this far along.  Maybe I am just spoiled by the brisk pace of leveling in games like World of Warcraft or even Final Fantasty XIV… but getting through Storm Legion feels like an absolute chore.  I do however really want to spend some time pushing through it.

This weekend I spent quite a bit of time doing Instant Adventures and they made the process feel a little less painful.  At some point I also want to spend some time in dungeons… but for whatever reason I seem to always get Stormbreaker Protocol… which for those not familiar with it is the Rift version of Oculus.  Essentially it is that one dungeon that makes almost the entire party disappear.  I feel like I really need to get adjusted to the Rift controls a bit more before stepping foot into a dungeon, though honestly I was killing things in Argent Domain last night as efficiently as I ever was.  More than anything with the impending release of 2.6, I want to dust off my Rift account and finally push the Nightblade across the finish line.

Veritech Pilots Unite!

Profundity is Gone

For those that followed me during the recent couple day bump of new readers…  I am rarely as cogent or pointed as those topics come off as.  Most of the time the Tales the Aggronaut spins are yarns of faffing about and doing scattered things in the games I play.  That is not to say that I won’t again be overcome with feels and post something dreadfully important, but most of the time I just ramble on about whatever is in my mind.  This is the side effect of my whole “blog every morning” crusade I embarked upon nearly a year ago.  So if you have a limited appetite for game ramblings, I apologize ahead of time.

My office right now is like a magma chamber, and I am not really sure how long I can keep up this mornings post before I wither and melt away.  The heating and air system in our house is pretty horrific, and for some reason there are two heat vents in my very small office.  As much as I have tried to block them off completely… the heat continues to radiate through the wall.  So the rushed feeling I am having is likely going to cause this to be one of my extra “special” mornings.  Right now all I can say is thank god it is the weekend… and even though I have to pull a wi-fi miracle out of my hat tomorrow…  I am ready to be done with work for the week.

Veritech Pilots Unite!

Wow-64 2014-01-23 16-27-11-42 One of the side projects that has been underway for roughly a month is the coordinating of my crafting cooldowns each day in order to eventually produce the amazing Sky Golem mount.  I realize I am way behind the times in getting it crafted, but hell it is news to me.  Last night I managed to make the last two components and then went on an absolutely giddy flight around the Vale.  I loves it so much in all of its mechanical glory.  I feel like a Veritech pilot from Macross/Robotech.  For the next few weeks every single character of mine will be zipping around on this goblin machination.  Then I am sure like always I will get bored and pick a new mount for a few weeks.

I have already set my sights on the next big crafting project.  I am a horrible engineer… or at least I have traditionally been a very poor one.  I never raised the bankroll to get my chopper back in Wrath, and during the expansions after I simply lost sight on it as a goal.  Now my intent is to farm up everything I can farm and then raise the required monetary commitment to craft one of these puppies.  Not that I think I will ever actually use it… I have so many cool ground mounts like the Fiery Warhorse’s Reins or Rein’s of the Swift Spectral Tiger that I am always anxious to break out when I am in a flight limited area.  I feel like getting a chopper is just one of those things I want to do moreso than really have a reason to do.

Blackwing Descent

Wow-64 2014-01-23 19-41-34-38Finally on the silly activities front, several of us were hanging out on mumble last night.  The question was posed… how many people would it take to clear the old raids, namely Blackwing Descent.  I surmised that we could probably limp by on three, 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 dps.  Next thing I know we are on our way to blackrock mountain and giving it a try.  Thing is… I remember nothing about this raid at all really.  Granted while we were doing it several things came back, but I had literally not see any content past the first two bosses.  I left WoW shortly after the launch of Cataclysm and at that point we had only managed to down Magmaw and Omnomitron (yes I know that isn’t the name).  So for the most part it was a completely new place for me.

We of course entered for the purest of faffing reasons…  the druid in our party wanted these shoulders for transmog.  I myself would not have minded getting an Ashkandi 2.0 to drop, simply because the fidelity of the weapon is so much higher than the one I keep in my bank for transmoggy goodness.  All in all the run went pretty smoothly.  We struggled a few times, including several attempts at Chimaeron just trying to figure out how to work the fight mechanics.  For whatever reason my purgatory talent seemed to be glitching out the key fight mechanic, so I popped outside real quick and summoned my vendor mount  and changed that talent. 

The trippy fight honestly was Nefarian because I was the only one to survive the initial flood everything in lava phase.  So for the most part I solo’d a good chunk of that fight, namely the swimming around the room in lava killing the guys on the platforms phase.  Then the monk healer and I duo’d the final kite him around the room phase.  Since it was a 10 man fight, we only had one battle rez, and as such it seemed like a better idea to rez the healer than the druid dps.  It was a fun night and I could see myself doing it again.  I am really hoping that we can mostly trio the rest of the content.  Funny enough we managed to get an achievement during the process without really intending to.  I really want to go off and do firelands so I can hopefully get my druid friend his fire kitty.

On Wings of Nether

Low Graphical Fidelity

Since this is a patch day that happened to start super early… aka 5 am my time… and I don’t wake up until 5:30 I will not be having any screenshots that are not recycled or otherwise blatantly borrowed.  Since I was off yesterday I simply did not think ahead.  For me at least it feels like Monday… even though it really is legitimately Tuesday.  Maybe this is the way my Aussie friends feel since they perpetually live in the future.  Today’s post is going to involve a whole lot of faffitude, so be prepared.

For those who have not been following the news of all that is faffing about…  you have potentially mentioned that @AlternativeChat has declared that 2014 is the “Year of Faff”.  Tales of the Aggronaut is one of the many blogs that now proudly sport the badge on our sidebars.  While I am proudly participating, for me at least 2013 will be the year of Faff in that it was the year that the Godmother of Faff brought the term front and center in the collective consciousness that is the “blogosphere”. 

Faff is a term that has been in my vocabulary for some time, and not always in an extremely positive context.  When my friends and I had to jump through a whole bunch of meaningless hoops to accomplish something it would often be described as a “whole lot of faffing about”.  What has changed during 2013 and the start of 2014 is that “Faff” has become a proper destination for the evening.  Realizing this has added greatly to the overall enjoyment of games like World of Warcraft that are so chock full of fluff that you cannot go more than a few in game feet without encountering something that could be worth achievement points or something that you have yet to collect.  If for no other reason, I salute @AlternativeChat for realigning our vocabulary and taking what used to be a negative and turning it very much into a positive.

On Wings of Nether

Netherdrake_choice_noPCOver the last few weeks I have been working feverishly each night on completing my Netherwing Dailies.  As I have said before for whatever reason, during the Burning Crusade this is a grind I never participated in.  In truth more than anything it is likely thanks to the fact that during Burning Crusade I lived in a perpetual state of broke.  As a raid tank, pretty much every spare gold I had went to my volumes of repair bills.  These repair bills have decreased greatly over the last few expansions, but back then it was not unheard of that I would rack up 100-200g in repairs a night, and in BC money that was quite the little fortune.  As a result I never really had the money to get my epic flight training, which was required to start the Netherwing quests in the first place.

To be truthful, I likely never would have gotten it were not for a contrived scheme to get me my epic training.  A friend of mine started a guild lottery, where we would send him raw materials and he would turn around and auction house the materials and pool it up to fund epic flying mounts for people.  The first one apparently was universally rigged, as everyone colluded behind the scenes to give it to me.  Thankfully through this welfare flying program we managed to buy at least a half dozen epic flying mounts, and I believe the final number was a bit closer to ten.  However this was pretty late in the expansion and I never ended up going out and starting this grind.  In part I was a bit slowed by the fact that my main at the time had no harvesting skill, and as such had no daily quest for turning in that.

War Bear Time

amani-war-bear Needless to say yesterday mid evening I managed to finish out exalted and got the On Wings of Nether achievement.  You get one mount free for completing the achievement, but I quickly flew out to Shadowmoon Valley and snatched up the other 5 for what now seems like the extremely cheap price of 180g.  This puts me I think a a half dozen mounts away from We’re Going to Need More Saddles.  There are so many farmed mounts that I am lacking, that I need to just buckle down and start farming away. Over the course of the weekend however I did manage to get one of these mounts that have elluded me.

Back in Burning Crusade we farmed more Karazhan than I really care to think about, but after we had used up all of the Medivh goodness, we set our sites on the newly released Zul’Aman.  Over the course of the expansion we got better and better at this dungeon, but never quite had the gear and strategy needed to get through a successful bear mount run.  We got really close a few times… I remember one time we were less than a minute away from the mount.  Something would always go wrong and fate conspired to keep me from my prize.  During Wrath of the Lich King, I really have no clue why but I never went back and attempted getting the mount.

When they redid the dungeon during Cataclysm, I was unfortunately not playing the game… so I completely missed my chance to get the mount legitimately again.  For fear that they might eventually simply do away with the mount I decided that I needed to set my sights on this mount and just get it over with.  I realize there are subtle differences between the mount you earned at 70 and the mount you can get today… but I don’t really care.  It is a big freaking bear with horns and spikey bits.  I will likely be proudly riding this mount around for awhile, as it has officially offset my Spectral Tiger as my normal mount of choice.  Now I just need to pick a new victim, and start working towards farming up that mount.  Starting to thing the Barons Charger is a likely candidate.

All About Mounts

Do A Barrel Roll!

This week the previously announced Iron Skyreaver mount found its way to the in game store… and I simply could not resist picking it up.  The mount is amazing, but it seems that it seems to be one of those love or hate situations among my close friends.  Some of them absolutely love it, some of them completely hate it.  The pure win of the mount is the fact that every so often it does a roll…  I have been informed by one of my pilot friends that it is NOT a barrel roll.  Quite frankly it doesn’t matter because every time it happens… I hear Peppy say “Do A Barrel Roll!”.  Thanks Star Fox for misappropriating that term!

In truth in game it is a bit smaller than I had originally expected, or at the very least it doesn’t scale as much as I would expect it would for a Worgen.  Some of my friends have called it sickly looking, but really if you think about the background of the mount it makes sense.  This is a chimera that the Iron Horde has captured into slavery… likely abused and mistreated… and then augmented with badass armor and JET THRUSTERS!!!!  You have apparently rescued it from Garrosh and his evil evil machinations.  Now you and your mechano-chimera can rule the skies together!

All About Mounts

Another project I have been working on is chewing through the crafting cooldowns to make my own Sky Golem mount.  Unlike most engineering mounts in the past, this one is actually usable by all of your characters.  Which has made it a high priority for me to obtain.  At some point I need to go back and build some of the other engineering mounts, as I never actually obtained my Mekgineer’s Chopper.  Since I stopped playing Belghast as my main somewhere during Crusader’s Coliseum it just stopped being priority for me to get one.  Additionally I got the recruit a friend two person rocket, which filled the need of being able to transport people with me.  If they made it so all characters on your account could use the chopper… I would prioritize making one.

The big slowdown for the Sky Golem is the engineering cooldown, which at face value is really easy to craft.  Jard’s Peculiar Energy Source takes only ten ghost iron bars, which is next to nothing… however it is on a daily timer and unlike all of the other cool downs out there… it is lacking a “speed up for more materials” option.  The sky golem requires 30 of these, and 30 living steel.  The living steel component however is not terribly bad since if you have a transmute spec alchemist you can get extra bars from time to time.  At this point I am 6 days including today away from my sky golem mount, so I will keep you guys informed as I finally craft it.

Flight of the Netherwing

Wow-64 2014-01-18 10-17-31-93 One of the last things I want to give an update on is my quest for exalted with the Netherwing.  Essentially this has been one of those semi-casual things that I do every night.  I go out to Shadowmoon Valley, complete all the quests… gather up all of the loose eggs that I happen to see while doing those quests and then move on for the night.  I am sure if I wanted to seriously grind this out, I could do so in a single afternoon doing nothing but collecting eggs.  However at this point I am at about the halfway point through Revered.  At this point I figure I have a few more days until I have crossed the exalted threshold.  I am bad at estimating these things, but given I tend to find a half dozen eggs each day I think this might be viable.

Mostly I have been doing this because I want the count of six more mounts.  I have never particularly liked the look of the netherwing.  I love the fact that they have a whole series of colors available, but it is the whole shark nosed dragon thing that gets to me.  I have actually enjoyed the grind because I miss Draenor.  I am looking forward to Warlords in part because I am really wanting to see Draenor as a viable place again.  Burning Crusade was the expansion that I really came alive in, and grew into the role of raid tank and large-scale guild leader.  While Wrath of the Lich King was the expansion we saw the most success during, I feel like Burning Crusade is my “golden age” of WoW gaming.

Myth of Melee Hunter

Long Weekend

Most of this week I have been recovering from whatever flu like respiratory crap I managed to catch along side my wife’s flu.  So now that it is Friday, I have to say I am more than ready for it.  I have been crashing suspiciously early each night, or at least early for me.  Last night it was around 10 pm, and the night before closer to 9.  Granted some of that time was laying in bed watching Netflix, but resting nonetheless.  So when I realized I was heading straight for a three day weekend, I was absolutely pumped.  Not that we have any major plans, but just stringing three days in a row is a pretty glorious thing.

Yesterday during a back and forth on twitter with MMOGC, we both talked about our proclivity for playing melee characters.  For me at least if there is a melee option, I will be playing whatever it is.  My 90s to date…  Blood/Frost Deathknight, Protection/Arms Warrior, Protection/Retribution Paladin, Enhancement Shaman (second spec doesn’t really matter here), Combat Rogue, and the icing on the cake…  Feral/Guardian Druid.  Hell I even consider my Discipline Priest to be “tanky”.  Essentially if there is a tank option I will be doing that, and if there is not I will at least be doing melee in some form of another.  I am woefully predictable in my likes and dislikes when it comes to games.

Myth of Melee Hunter

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I have made this admission before in the past, but I was a melee hunter.  Granted at the time I didn’t realize that survival was NOT a viable melee spec… since back in vanilla it did actually boost your melee damage.  More than that however it was a thing I WANTED to work.  Something about ranged dps just bores me, and on the converse something about standing toe to toe against the boss exhilarates me.  The above is a picture of me playing Lodin, my first real main in World of Warcraft.  My love of the WoW Hunter… initially started as my love of the D&D Ranger.  In D&D I played two things the Dual Wield Melee Ranger, and the Mace and Board Melee Cleric.  When I came into wow I tried to create both of these with limited success in the form of a Survival Hunter and a Protection Paladin.

I love the mechanics of the hunter when it comes to taming pets.  This was the real thing that kept me playing the class for most of vanilla… that and I got sucked into a raid group that needed hunters.  As some point I tired of standing back and firing at things, so midway through Vanilla I began transitioning to Belghast my tanky warrior.  But I never really gave up hope that someday, somehow being a dual wield hunter would be a viable thing.  While leveling and raiding… I was always far more interested in a nifty polearm or twohanded weapon dropping that could viably be identified as “for hunters” than any of the available ranged options.  However I still count getting my Dragonbreath Hand Cannon as one of my greatest raiding moments.  Thanks to getting this awesome drop… I never actually finished the hunter epic.

The Beastmaster

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Funny thing is… there is a game that has a melee pet class that could in theory be termed the “melee hunter”.  The Beastmaster soul in Rift for the Warrior class was essentially a pure melee dps class that also had a pet.  It was one of those specs that I really used to enjoy dpsing in, when the pet was actually behaving.  The problem is that Rift pets are boring.  As a beastmaster you got a large cat… and despite them changing the graphic of it… it is still the same boring pet every single time.  The piece of the hunter that I always found interesting was the ability to switch between pets depending on the situation and your present mood.  If you got bored of a pet, you could run off into the world and tame a new favorite.

So static pet is a major strike against the Beastmaster soul, but in Storm Legion they took another big one.  They essentially transitioned the spec from being a very soloable melee dps, to being pure support.  If you have only played World of Warcraft, then you are used to the holy trinity Tank, DPS, and Healer.  However several other games like City of Heroes, Everquest and Rift to name a few off the top of my head… had a fourth role of Support.  These classes buffed the party in some way or provided some critical crowd control mechanic that overall made the fights go smoother.  With Storm Legion they moved the Beastmaster into one of these roles, and while it is probably my favorite support class next to the Rogue’s Bard soul…  it became something that you just really could not solo as.

Yes I Know I’m Crazy

Yup the sub heading says it all… I realize that this request is crazy.  I realize that Blizzard will never give me a melee hunter.  All that said it doesn’t make me want it any less.  While I am not going to go to the lengths that some players have gone… when I play Lodin I still want to get up close and melee things down.  Initially I think I thought it was just my way of keeping from paying for bullets, but now that bullets are a thing of the past…  I realize I just wanted to get up close and person with the mobs.  For the most part I know that each and every one of my ranged characters will be something I did just to say I had one at 90.  Once I have finished with my Discipline Priest I will likely cycle back around to Lodin and finish leveling him to 90.  However it won’t ever be a beloved character until I can bash stuff in the face with a mighty hunter polearm.

Why Have PVP Gear?

A Farewell to Gear

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I have to say that still, months after the  announcement of Warlords of Draenor, the most surprising and interesting change that has been announced still relates to the gear.  During Blizzcon they made an announcement that gear would change its primary stat based on the spec you are currently equipping it under.  This means no more healer plate that no one wants, but instead multifunctional items that can be equipped in theory by any plate class.  The catch however is that secondary stats will not change, meaning we will have a situation similar to the Timeless Isle.  On the isle you can get tokens for 496 epic gear, but the stat assortment is random, meaning you will end up with several items that are less than optimal… but still functional for your current spec.

That said, having gear that transforms for you should at least in theory cut down on the sheer number of items that you need to carry around in your bags.  Since the advent of dual specs, this has meant that pretty much every player carries with them two full sets of gear, which doesn’t take into account any weird situational fight based items (yes I have a few of these).  In a game with as small of bag sizes as World of Warcraft, this quickly becomes painful.  Yes I consider 28 slots to be small especially when you consider I am used to having 6 44 slot bags in EQ2 with another 20 44 slot bags in my bank.

Why Have PVP Gear?

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One of the big disappointments from the announcement however is that they seem to have stopped short of making this strategy work for the whole PVE vs PVP gear divide.  One of the odd things about coming back to WoW and playing it seriously after spending several years playing other games, is it gives you a unique perspective that many devoted WoW players simply do not have.  Quite frankly other games do a lot of the same functionality that World of Warcraft has, far better.  I have noticed a big trend in these games to jettison the concept of PVP only gear, and in most cases I have to say the games are far better off for doing this.  My question is… if they have this wonderful new tech that changes out the primary stats on gear based on the spec in which you are equipping it… why not carry these changes to whether or not you are in player vs player combat?

I don’t know for certain the specifics of the gear change, and honestly at this point I think the only people that do are knee deep in the bowels of Blizzard actively coding on it.  However I have to assume that most of this functions based on the Item Level of an item.  There has to be a direct correlation between ilvl X equates to X Strength or X Intellect.  Why not carry this same logic forward to PVP gear in general.  At a certain ilevel every single item tends to have the same resilience and pvp power etc.  Why not make these latent stats on every single piece of gear in the game?  There will always be players who only care about PVP and always be players that only care about PVE.  However without really meaning to you are asking players to choose which game they want to play.

What about Dabblers?

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In both raiding and pvp you have drawn lines in the sand based on gear determining at what point someone actually becomes effective.  In order to be anything but canon fodder in on a PVP battleground you need a certain level of the PVP focused stats.  This makes breaking into PVP a horrendously frustrating experience for most players.  Sure there is a crafted set of PVP gear, and anyone with enough cash or tradeskill expertise can knock this set out and be relatively competitive.  However this is a pretty huge chasm to cross going from the PVE world to the PVP one.  The same is not really the case going from PVP to PVE, since the majority of PVP gear is functionally effective to start raiding without being too much of a drain on the raid group that is hosting you.

Additionally since Blizzard seems to relish forcing PVE centric players to PVP… I am looking at you legendary cloak quest line.  It seems only fair to simply do away with the stark difference between PVP and PVE gear at this point.  I am sure there are PVPers out there that can make the same frustrated argument that they hate being forced to PVE.  Making all gear function in both situations seems like a win across the board to me.  Gear should be gear, regardless of how you got it… and so long as the “effort” requirements are the same…  either through weeks spent learning PVE content or weeks spent gaining honor…  the end result should provide similar rewards.

The strength of World of Warcraft is that it is the total package.  Like I said before, there are many games on the market that do this or that aspect of the game better, but no product offering has as many high points for as many different play styles as WoW does.  It is because of this that the line in the sand between PVP and PVE feels all the more arbitrary.  Let players play the game however they like and reap similar rewards from whatever activity they choose to do.  Then again my whole multiple paths of progression diatribe is another topic for another day.  I feel like WoW should embrace the “Wal-mart of MMOs” moniker, because it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  There will always be niche games that do certain things far better, but it stands alone as the best complete package.

Date with Dragons

Feeding Tradeskills

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Last night was a prime night for faffing.  I started the evening by doing my semi-regular ghost iron farming run to feed my daily cooldowns on my blacksmith, engineer and transmuter.  I have figured out that it is just simply easier to farm up a bunch of ghost iron and then turn around the transmute it to trillium than trying to play the mining lottery to get equal amounts of black and white trillium.  In about 15-20 minutes I can farm up a big stack of ore and then funnel that off to each of the professions so I can do my daily crafts.  Right now I am funneling all these resources towards two things.  Firstly I am stockpiling materials so that I can make myself a Sky Golem, which when I saw it I knew I had to have one.

Secondly I am stockpiling the rare smithing material in order to make the tanky belt… the only problem is I have yet to unlock the tanky belt through the daily crafts.  As a result I have more than enough Balanced Trillium Ingot’s to make one, but I figure I can use items for all of my melee characters.  So this becomes a daily disappointment as I log in and craft an ingot only to see that I did not yet learn the Protector’s Trillium Waistguard.  I could craft the legs, but that would currently break up my four piece set bonus…  so that is not a thing I am willing to do just yet.

Date with Dragons

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Once I finished with my tradeskills I worked my way through the daily Netherwing quests.  Curently I am a good way into revered so here is hoping by the end of the week I will be zipping around on a new flight of Netherwing drakes.  Honestly I am mostly doing this for the fact that it adds 6 mounts to my grand total, and less that I actually think I will use one of the drakes.  Back in the day I never did the quest chain because I thought they looked goofy.  For whatever reason I cannot look at a Netherwing drake without thinking of a shark because of the way their nose is shaped.  Right now my absolute favorite dragon seems to be the one I picked up from Stonecore.  To be honest farming up the Vitreous Stone Drake was far easier than I could have imagined, since it drops on normal mode.

I finished off the night running Onyxia a few times, with no luck on getting that mount, and then popped into Blackwing Lair with a friend.  While I really like the blue judgment set that came from the opening of Wrath of the Lich King event… I would still like to own a full set of the original Judgment.  As a result I have been clearing Blackwing Lair weekly trying for the various visual pieces.  So far I only have the chest and shoulders, but that doesn’t leave that many visual pieces left, one of which I will hopefully get from Onyxia.  Mostly since my paladin is now a Dranei, and boots no longer show up…  I am mostly trying for the gloves.  While I got no judgment, I did manage to get my mage friend robes and shoulders for his set.

Zoning Out

I am guessing that I did not get a very good nights sleep last night, because as I sit here writing this mornings post I find myself constantly zoning out.  I can seem to only manage a paragraph before my mind starts wandering again.  As a result I think I am going to cut this off here a bit abruptly.  I am still feeling a bit under the weather and yesterday it felt like maybe I pushed myself a little too far.   I went through a flurry of activity when I got home, and crashed in my recliner shortly after and was pretty much useless the rest of the night.  I was offered spots on two different raids last night, and I ended up turning both down because I just didn’t feel like I could give vaguely close to my normal effort.  I feel like I made the right choice, but hopefully I did not put off the people who offered me a spot from future offerings.

Goodbye Cataclysm

Feeling Human

This morning is the first day in a long while that I have felt pretty decent.  I went to bed around 9:30, but had to get right back up shortly after and deal with one of our ferrets.  Our “old man” had made a horrendous mess of himself and as a result we decided there was more there than could be cleaned up with wet wipes.  As a result we gave him an impromptu bath and then made sure to get some nutrients down him.  We really need to talk to the vet about him, because at this point I am not really sure how good of quality of life he is really having.  One of his two back legs just simply doesn’t work right most of the time.  He will be just fine one moment, and then the next he will be tripping all over himself.  Which is something we went through with his brother bandit when he got insulinoma… for which there really is no course of treatment in a ferret that old.

Even with the last minute excitement last night, I did still manage to make it to bed before 10 and slept through the entire night.  I woke up a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off this morning, so I got a wee bit of a head start on the day.  Right now I am feeling rather chipper, but I am sure that will be quelled as I actually get to work and see whatever stacked up yesterday while I was gone.  I am looking forward to feeling human again, so here is hoping it lasts.  Since I’ve gone over 48 hours without developing a fever, I am assuming that I am not contagious.  My wife went to work yesterday and came home completely drained, so I am figuring that will also be the case for me.  As a result I really don’t have much plans for doing anything when I get home but crashing.

Goodbye Cataclysm

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I really did not do much of any consequence last night.  It came time for our Monday night flex raid and I just was not capable of concentrating.  Instead I continued to piddle around on Belglorian my Discipline Priest.  I have decided that the thing I enjoy about Discipline is that they are kind of the “tanks” of cloth wearers.  So long as I keep my shield up on myself, I can survive damned near anything and eventually win the fight…. albeit extremely slowly.  The thing I did not realize however was just how much splash healing I was throwing around.  One of the early Pandaria quests involves reviving a bunch of pilots that crashed landed in amongst a bunch of orcs.  As I was working on killing the orcs I kept noticing that I was getting credit for reviving pilots.

I thought that maybe the quest was bugged and I was getting credit for another player reviving them in the vicinity.  As I got closer to one and started nuking away with smite I noticed that I kept healing the NPCs.  I am sure this will sound insane to most people but you have to understand… my priest was my free level 80 character I made when I accepted a scroll of resurrection.  I am the future of our game… a high level player with no real clues about how the class works.  Initially I had planned on leveling as shadow, but when a friend told me about the sheer survive of Discipline I made the switch without much effort put into researching the spec.  It was one of those things that just worked, and the gameplay seemed extremely simple.

The problem with being handed all of these tools is I have no clue what half of them do, especially the passives.  Sure I see pretty little icons proc at the top of my screen but I am far too busy killing things to actually hover over them and see what just happened.  Now I had the common sense to at least research spell rotation and things like that before sitting down and building my hotbars, you can guarantee that not every instant 90 will do the same.  Anyways enough of that old soap box, but I am the prime example of what happens when you hand someone a nearly fully leveled character.

Imperial Silk

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I will admit that I had no real plans to ever level a priest, and since I got a free level 80… I decided to make it a priest since that was the least likely for me to ever level.  One of the gaps that I decided to fill with this instant 80… was a Tailor.  So for while some time I was a level 80 priest sitting in Stormwind with capped out tailoring, and no real way to make the ever so spiffy imperial silk.  Sure I could have had someone summon me over to the Silken Fields, but that just seemed too cheesy even for me.  As a result I decided to level the priest so I could legitimately start making bags for my army of alts.  Funny thing is that somewhere along the way I actually started enjoying playing the class…  even though I am probably playing it wrong.  I like smiting things down while laughing off the damage I am taking with my shields.

Speaking of army of alts… I have to say having one of every crafting profession comes in really damned handy.  The moment I dinged 85… I went through a flurry of activity logging in and out various characters.  When I finished I had a complete set of Pandaria level armor, a new staff, and a new cloak… and as soon as I get to 87 I will make a new trinket.  I’ve decided to level up alchemy on this guy as well, so at some point I will feed him a bunch of herbs which should allow him to equip the alchemy trinket as well.  Mostly I am doing this so that I can have an elixir master as well as my transmute master.  I technically have a third alchemist, but I am not sure if it is worth having a potion master as well.  The only thing I can see myself making a lot of that might be worth it is Luck Potions.  Depending on how I feel tonight, I might farm up materials for a push through alchemy at all levels.