Rift 1.1 Alpha Patch Notes

Previously I did a bit of commentary on the patch notes, this time I am breaking them into two separate posts since patch 1.1 is so phenomenally large.  All indications are leading us to believe that this patch will be released on or near Wednesday March 30th.  They include some pretty massive changes, and a good number of tweaks and prods here and there.  I will comment on the ones that matter specifically to me in a follow-up post, but for now…  here is the reason why I personally believe the release of this patch will be very shortly.

Forum Message With Timeframe

30-Day Update Heralds Massive Invasions, Unique Loot, and New Epic Raid Zone
Trion Worlds today announced the first worldwide, fully dynamic conflict event for the immensely successful MMORPG, RIFT™. The battle for Telara intensifies as world-changing invasions from the Plane of Death engulf the planet, giving Ascended heroes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a key moment in the game’s history. Beginning March 30th, players will witness the true power of Regulos the Destroyer, and the world of RIFT will never be the same.
This robust update comes less than a month after the game’s March 1st launch, making it one of the most aggressive post-launch content releases ever for a new MMORPG.

Unprecedented Invasions & Exclusive Rewards
Starting next Wednesday, Alsbeth the Discordant will lead massive invasions across every zone in Telara, raising legions of liches, ettins, and gravemakers to battle Ascended. Over the course of about a week, participating players of any level fighting these invaders can earn hundreds of new items including exclusive rewards, such as a Spectral Horse and a transmogrifying disguise that turns Ascended into the rotting undead. But be warned: once the rifts are sealed, these items are gone forever.

Raid Zone: River of Souls
If Ascended are successful in their efforts to drive back the invasions, they can journey to the “River of Souls” 20-man raid zone at the edge of the Plane of Death where Alsbeth the Discordant is reanimating the recently departed and recruiting them into Regulos’ army. Guardian and Defiant heroes will have to wade through these decaying hordes to reach Alsbeth and make her account for her abhorrent crimes.
The Founder’s Pricing plan for RIFT has been extended until March 31st. Details for all plans are available at

For the original thread and commentary from the peanut gallery look here.

Full Patch Notes – Discombobulated from the forums

Forum Thread Link

Alpha 1.1 3/23/11
* The Endless Court Event? Yeah, they’re all up in your Telara, killing your mans. Not cool.
* You can now report AFK teammates in a Warfront. Check out PVP/WARFONTS for more.
* The ‘I’m Stuck’ button or falling through the world in a Warfront no longer results in a Deserter debuff!
* Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. See below under RIFTS AND INVASIONS for more details.
* Many quest fixes below under individual ZONES.

* All artifact nodes now have a consistent 1.5 second gathering time.
* You can now accept a quest on behalf of your guild even if your personal quest log is full.
* Angelic Flight and Mighty Leap will not interrupt movement when used (auto-run or holding down a movement key).
* Server Announcements now stay on-screen for twice as long.
* Exposed now reduces movement speed by 6% per stack, rather than increasing damage taken.
* New fancy appearances are in progress for the Epic Namjok, Yarnosaur, and Vaiyuu mounts.
* Fix for quickly opening a series of clickable loot (such as geodes for gems) with auto-loot that would occasionally result in lost items.

* Rift events no longer track player contribution against other players. You are checked for participation in the event and given rewards appropriately. It’s still important to participate in as many stages of a Rift or event as possible to receive the best rewards.
* Tweaked cooldown times between zone events.

* Planar Charges are no longer consumed immediately when starting to cast an ability. They are consumed when the effect actually takes place — no more wasted charges on an interrupted cast.

* Epic quests now award Achievements and titles at key advancement points. These are granted retroactively so if you already completed portions (or all!) of the epic questline, you will receive these on login.

* Killing Spree and Blood Thirsty use the proper perk tokens now.
* The following perks will now properly show the description/tooltip values associated with them: Lucky Penny, Call of the Ascended, Journeyman, Foe Hunter, Cache Finder, and Rift Extraction.
* Journeyman no longer always shows in the buff bar.

* Updated the tooltip description text for Attack Power and Spell Power in the character sheet.
* Effects subject to diminishing returns will now also use diminished durations on player pets.
* ‘Immune’ scrolling combat text no longer appears on characters in stealth.
* Player tracking abilities no longer proc trinket effects.

* Warriors: The following abilities have been changed to fix an issue where the character could use them and die before they actually triggered, making it seem like they missed: Touch of Life, Master of the Abyss, No Permission to Die, Rift Shield, and Predictable Movements.
* Warriors: Taunts now continue cooldown timers while logged out.
* Mages: Reduced pushback on all non-healing Mage spells.
* Mages: Increased the base damage on all damaging Mage abilities.
* Clerics: All cleric Cleanses should now properly remove associated effects.
* PvP Souls: The cooldown for Break Free has been reduced to 2 minutes. Improved Break Free now reduces the cooldown by 10 seconds per point spent.

* Exhilaration: Now only triggers on damaging or healing Critical Hits. Mana procs will appear correctly in the combat log.
* Burning Purpose: The damage proc can now only occur a maximum of once every 1.5 seconds. Fixed an issue so that the damage proc is only affected by buffs active on the caster at the time it is triggered. Updated description on this ability to reflect current functionality.
* Ashen Defense: No longer counts as a mage armor buff and will stack with other mage armors.
* Procs from Surging Flare, Volcanic Bomb, and Earthen Barrage now affect allies within 35 meters of the caster.
* Consuming Flames: Now a 6-point root ability. No longer deals damage to the caster and can be cast on yourself as well as other friendly targets. Now absorbs a set amount of damage and has multiple ranks.
* Power In Numbers: Corrected the second rank so it will affect aura buffs.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Bard have received a free soul point respec.
* Invigorated Soul, Coda of Restoration: Now affects up to 5 targets.
* Using Verse of Fascination or Verse of Captivation now turns off auto-attack, since these effects break on damage.
* Motif of Tenacity: Now unlocked at 12 points.
* Anthem of Defiance: Now unlocked at 18 points.
* Motif of Regeneration: Now unlocked at 24 points. Now casts on the Bard and heals up to 10 raid or group members nearby with each tick.
* Anthem of Fervor: Fixed tooltip so the cost reduction is shown correctly when points are spent in Street Performer. Also fixed the cost reduction not being applied correctly to raid members when points are spent in Street Performer.

* Flesh Rip: Will now properly show up in the reactive ability UI when your pet critically hits. Fixed an issue where this was gaining weapon damage to each tick of the bleed effect. Base damage reduced.
* Backhanded Blow: Now correctly triggers global cooldown. Fixed a bug causing Rank 3 to do 20% more damage than intended. Base damage reduced. Corrected Power cost on ranks 2 through 8 to cost the proper 25 Power.
* Slashing Strike: Fixed a bug where this ability was doing the damage of a single target ability. The damage has been reduced to match other cleave-style abilities.
* Fight as One: The benefits gained from Fight as One have been reduced to 5-15% for Hit, Critical Hit, and Damage. This ability has been taken off of global cooldown.
* Diversion Strike: Increases Critical Hit chance of the Beastmaster and their pet by 5% instead of 10%. Damage lowered.
* Tenacious Wounds: Now increases bleed damage by 2-4% instead of 3-6%.
* Feral Sweep: Resolved a bug where this was dealing extra damage on each tick of the Bleed effect. Base damage lowered.
* Tearing Slash, Fierce Strike: Damage lowered.

* Combat Culmination: Ability will not break stealth when it triggers.

* Nebulous Haze: Now increases cast time by the 20% advertised on the tooltip.
* Decay: Lurking Decay will now always trigger, even if Obliterate or Tyranny kills the enemy outright.

* Debilitating Strike: Made the tooltip for the debuff from this ability more clear.
* Titan’s Strike: Damage has been lowered and the stun has been reduced to 1-3 seconds, down from 1-5 seconds.
* Mark of Extermination and Mark of Inevitability: Will now cause the target to attack.

* Withering Vines: Increased the amount healed.
* Livegiving Veil: Now affects up to 5 targets.
* Radiant Spores: Now has a base chance to proc of 10%.
* Phytogenesis: Now increases the chance for Radiant Spores to proc by 2-6%.

* Priest’s Lament: The primary debuff on this ability is no longer affected by diminishing returns. The silence proc debuff is still affected.
* Haunting Pain: Will only trigger on the first tick of damage from a damage shield.

* Trickster Spirit, Slothful Spirit, Spiteful Spirit: Reduced the damage to better account for the attached debuffs.
* Fury of the Fae: Now a pet-cast buff that increases the group/raid’s Attack Power and Spell Power for 30 seconds with a 10 second cooldown. Shares stacking with Bard’s Motif of Bravery.
* Satyr: Increased the ratio of the owner’s Spell Power converted into the Satyr’s Attack Power.

* Intensify Elements: No longer on the global cooldown.
* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Infiltrator will receive a free soul point respec.
* Cloudy Poison: Ability should not break stealth when used. The debuff from this is now cleansable.
* Murderous Thoughts: Now requires Prestige Rank 3. Now increases all damage against players by 3-6%.
* Knock Knock: Now requires Prestige Rank 2. Increases critical damage against players by 2-10%.

* Fanaticism: No longer consumed by Shroud of Agony.
* Purge: No longer unintentionally removes debuffs that are caused by buffs (ex: the debuff from Battlefield Distraction).
* Shroud of Agony: No longer triggers on falling damage.

* Reparation: Now affects up to 5 targets.

* Empty the Crypts: Charge can now be gained while this is active. The pets summoned by Empty the Crypts can be active for a maximum of 20 seconds.
* Lich Form: Will no longer consume buffs that reduce the casting time of your next spell.

* Scourge of Darkness: Can no longer miss, be parried, dodged, or blocked.

* Touch of Life: Now continues cooldown timer on logout.
* Balance of Power: Now deals 25-75% of weapon damage.
* Aegis of Salvation: Ranks 1 and 2 have their cooldowns changed to 1.5 seconds to match with other buffs.
* Reverent Protection: Now only affects up to 5 targets, and range increased from 10 meters to 35 meters.

* Strike Like Iron: Ability is no longer on the global cooldown. Increased from a 10-30% damage buff up to a 16-48% damage buff, with the value doubled for follow-up attacks.
* Death Touch: Due to the Strike Like Iron changes, damage of Death Touch has been lowered.
* Force of Will: Due to the Strike Like Iron changes, damage bonus to follow-up attacks from Force of Will has been reduced from 20 per point to 10 per point.
* Path of the Wind, Path of the Raptor: Now have cooldowns of 6 seconds and a slight increase in damage due to the longer reuse time.
* Dual Strike: Fixed a bug causing this to do less damage than intended – as a result, damage from this ability has increased.
* Deadly Grace: Increased from 7% of Dual Strike damage per point to 9% Dual Strike damage per point.
* Weapon Master: Increased from a 4-20% chance to gain a second attack point up to a 10-50% chance.
* Rising Waterfall: Damage increased.
* Turn the Blade: Damage increased.
* Flurry: Damage lowered.

* Shield of the Ancestors and related buffs now appear in the combat log.
* Caregiver’s Blessing: No longer procs off of procced heals.
* Surging Flames: Now converts 50% of overhealing.
* Divine Cascade: Reduced Spell Power contribution. Now has a stack size of 1 per caster instead of 1 total, but only triggers when target is healed by the caster rather than anyone.
* Spirit Rupture: Fixed the contribution from Spell Power.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Pyromancer have received a free soul point respec.
* Heat Wave: Reduced cooldown to 2 minutes.
* Inferno: Removed from global cooldown.
* Improved Grounding: Now a tier 2 branch ability.
* Improved Smoldering Power: Now a tier 3 branch ability.
* Ground of Power: Now obtained at 6 points.
* Smoldering Power: Now obtained at 8 points.
* Burning Shield – New Ability: Consumes the mage’s Ground spell to shield them in flames, absorbing damage. Lasts up to 30 seconds. While Burning Shield is active, the next Ground spell is instant-cast. Obtained at 6 points.

* Escape Artist: Fixed a bug where the improved version was not causing the pet to be immune to Root, Snare, and Stun.

* Due to the below changes, characters with soul points spent in Reaver will receive a free soul point respec.
* Soul Sickness, Flesh Rot, Necrotic Wounds, Blood Fever: The damage on additional targets when using Plague Bringer has been lowered. The Threat generation has been increased to keep overall threat gain of the abilities the same.
* Crippling Infestation: Moves down one tier to unlock at 21 points.
* Wasting Away: Moves down one tier to unlock at 16 points.
* Grisly Works: Moves up two tiers, now unlocked at 26 points. Now increases the healing of Soul Feast by 30-90% for 15 seconds after killing a target the Reaver has engaged.
* Soul Devour: Now increases the damage of Soul Feast by 50%, instead of 150%.
* Power from the Masses: Changed to give a stack per nearby party/raid member rather than per nearby enemy.
* Infestation: Cooldown increased to 1 minute, and damage increased based on the new cooldown.

* Earth Burst: Now properly interrupts elites and other high level mobs.
* Avatar of Wind: Fixed a bug causing the tooltip of this ability to report improper values.
* Rift Surge: Can now be removed with abilities that remove Curses. Now has a 30 second cooldown instead of 10 seconds and is no longer adjusted by Attack Power.
* Flamespear: Now has a cooldown of 6 seconds and has its damage slightly increased to reflect the longer cooldown.
* Burning Blood: Now deals damage based on 10-30% of the character’s Strength.

* Memory Capture: Ability should no longer get you stuck in collision or falling through the world.
* Rift Scavenger: Ability will not break stealth when it triggers.
* Removed internal cooldown from Defer Death and Scatter the Shadows. Both abilities should be more responsive now.
* Hasted Time: Fixed a bug with the second point spent in this ability gave an incorrect movement speed buff.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Saboteur will receive a free soul point respec.
* Undetonated Spike Charge and Blast Charge will not cause stealth to break when the charges expire.
* Shrapnel Charge: Will now fire off its AoE effects on surrounding enemies when the main target is killed by Detonate damage.
* Reduced the range of all Bombs and Charges to 15 meters, down from 20 meters.
* Reduced the range of Detonate to 15 meters, down from 20 meters.
* Long Range Bombing: Now increases the range you can hurl Bombs by 1-5 meters, down from 2-10 meters.
* Remote Clipping: Now increases the range of your Charges and Detonates by 1-5 meters, down from 2-10 meters.
* The outcome and damage of each charge is now calculated individually. When you detonate 5 Blast Charges, you will see 5 damage numbers, each with its own chance to critically hit, rather than one large number.
* Improved Blast Charge: Fixed a bug where the armor penetration provided was higher than 25-50%.
* Charge Booster: Redesigned to an active ability rather than a passive. When activated, the damage of your Charges is increased by 50% when detonated. This ability does not trigger global cooldown and is on a 1.5 minute cooldown.

* Vigilance: Now triggers more consistently.
* Serendipity: Now properly affects heals that are queued immediately after being triggered.

* Strike of the Maelstrom: Rank 1 is no longer unintentionally affected by Stormborn.
* Glacial Shield: Ranks 2 and up now work properly with overwrites of similar abilities – Shield of Oak can overwrite Glacial Shield, and vice versa.
* Lust for Blood: Fixed tooltip to more accurately describe functionality.
* Ageless Ice: Description now properly mentions that it does not trigger a global cooldown.

* Static Discharge: No longer on global cooldown.
* Static Flux: Will no longer be overwritten by weaker buffs.
* Cloudburst: Increased damage.
* Icy Vortex – New Ability: Reduces damage done to the Mage by 25% for 10 seconds and applies Hypothermia to attacking enemies, reducing their movement speed by 50% for 10 seconds. Obtained at 6 points.

* Due to the below changes, characters with points spent in Vindicator will receive a free soul point respec.
* Dangerous Game: Now requires Prestige Rank 3. Fixed a bug that only increased damage on critical hits. Now increases all damage (not just physical) against players by 3-6%.
* Resilient: No longer has a Prestige Rank requirement. Fixed a bug that only reduced critical chance received by 6%. Now reduces chance to be critically hit by players by 3-15%.

* Rift Shield: Corrected a bug causing Rift Shield to absorb too much damage. It will now absorb an amount more in line with other absorption shields in the game.

* Tidal Resonance: No longer consumed by actions that are not Heal Over Time spells.
* Track Water Creatures: Wardens can now use this ability to track creatures from Water Rifts.
* Well of Life: Now has a 35 meter range.

* Neddra’s Might: No longer requires a target to cast.
* Neddra’s Torture: Reduced cooldown to 20 seconds.

* Call to Battle: Fixed buff tooltip to report a straight value rather than a percentage.

* The artifact set, ‘Ancient Eth Tablets’, included two different items with the same name. One has now been corrected to Scuffed Tablet Fragment.
* Fixed many minor typos in quest and NPC text.

* Ancient Wardstones have been uncovered in Droughtlands! A dangerous land just got more dangerous-er. Beware the beast that lies within the ruins of Eth – Skirathos, the Eye of Fate!
* Nowhere to Run: Fixed an issue that could cause the kobolds to not show up and attack.
* Sothul’s Demise: Sothul now respawns faster.
* A Fall Tale: Anontok’s Notes’ description now shows the level requirement to use the item.
* Lecu the Claw: This cat is now almost as vicious as my cat.
* The Biggest Void: Netharius is now more nefarious.
* Additional variety and difficulty pass was made on Droughtlands named mobs.

* The Tech is Mightier than the Sword: Jakub will no longer sucker-punch players or their pets during this quest.
* Zone event Shadestones can now be used for pickup by multiple people at once.
* Tete-a-Tete: The faction-change effect during this quest now makes you friendly to Life Rifts as well as the surrounding Aelfwar.
* I Heard a Storm Was Coming: Doubled the duration of the swim speed buff.
* Man v Mandible: Increased the drop rate of mandibles.
* Durgin the Keeper: Durgin now respawns much more quickly.

* A Burgher with Lies is now less disruptive to players not also on the quest.
* The Toxic Source: Re-ordered the quest rewards so they are displayed more consistently with other quests.

* A Hymn of Frost and Flame: All party members can now loot the Redsnow Communique.
* Dabbling in the Forbidden: Tweaked quest so it should update consistently.
* Conquered Minds, Imprisoned Minds: Fixed an issue causing these quests to reset too often.
* Deepmoss Lurkers are no longer skinnable and do not give experience.
* Dagda Skullthumper, the Redsnow Bandit, should no longer return to life instantly when slain!
* Cloudbourne Ice Necklace: Dominance of the Soul debuff correctly affects Armor instead of Attack Power.
* Corrected duplicate loot drops from rare mobs Emissary Kavenik and Frosthide.
* Thunder Snow has been fixed so that Sentinel Nightbane is always where expected.

* Shyla will cast heals more often to assist players during the Rift event.
* Rainy weather is a bit less frequent in Moonshade.
* Question and Answers: Centurion will stop beating on the Imprisoned Legionnaire before you get a chance to interrogate him.
* The hounds of Conchobhar will stop trying to defy their master.
* Rational Ward: Fixed issues with the quest not updating thanks to lazy Defense Turrets.
* To Know Evil: The Infernal Transmitter will be more reliably provided.
* Fall of Moonshade: Updated quest locators on the map.
* In Plain Sight: The first objective now shares progress for the whole party.
* A Gathering Force: The Demiurge of Earth now has a more accurate quest locator.
* Death’s Embrace: Reduced Gorvaht’s damage.
* A Holy Remedy: The sickly dwarves now stop to offer thanks before running back to Three Springs.
* Scanning for Clues: The Defiant Scanner should be more reliable.
* A Demon Among Satyrs: This quest now grants credit to all group members on the same step.
* Guardians on the Edge: This quest will now display map locators.
* The Elite Greater Golems in Grey Gardens now look visually different from the Lesser Golems.

* Taking Shards: Fixed an issue causing the visual effects to not appear as intended. Group members now also receive credit for placing the Problem Solvers.
* Bits and Pieces: Construct components now drop as group loot for everyone on this quest.

* Honest When Dead: Fixed step four of this quest so it properly progresses.
* Sealing the Portal: The portal at the back of Sagespire should be much more active now.
* Salve No Longer: Quest can once again be completed.
* Seek and Destroy: Added a map marker for Kelynn Eregor.
* A Troll’s Lunch: Rakthug should respawn much more quickly now.
* Let them Come: Fixed to allow party members to join in on the mission.

* Final Preparations: Anthon Eskar, the Dragonslayer Covenant guard who provides the disguise for Flatyard quests, no longer tries to offer a second disguise if you already have one.
* Buried Beneath: You will now be required to kill 16 Immature Whelplings for this quest.
* A Crafter’s Lament: Now grants loot to all group members on the quest.
* Fire and Sand: Improved spawn rates of Wanton Bone Rituals.
* Tweaked scripting for the levers to summon Warden Nevin for Dragonslayer Covenant daily quests.
* Slither the Voice: You get to keep the Inmate Disguise item after completing this quest!
* Binding the Lightning, To Turn Aside the Storm: Golden Maw Enforcers will now correctly display quest tooltips.
* Dragonslayer: Forging the Haft: This was a sneaky leftover quest from testing that was horribly broken and not intended for the live game — it’s been removed!
* The mobs inside The Flatyard should respawn more slowly when fewer players are in the area.
* Lester Ironbole at Gildstone Sanctum will no longer be attacked by the Storm Legion in the area.
* Added more guards to Fortune’s Shore.

* Azure Blade on the shores of Suncrest Rise now properly share faction with the Defiant.
* Rift: Forging Heat: The Gedlo Heater should quit getting stuck inside the bonfire during stage three.
* Beast of Burden: This quest is now offered to mount-less players at level 13 instead of 20.
* Aelfwar Monstrosities: Quest now has more accurate locators for Aelfwar Defenders.
* Clouded Contemplation: Quest now requires you to kill 8 Greenscale Zealots, rather than 12.
* The Power of Life: Increased the drop rate of items required for this quest.
* Thanks to the recent efforts of the Ascended, the road leading to and from Silver Landing is now much safer for travel.

* The Spirit Walk: Quest now gives proper credit for the second objective.
* Spirit Animus: Quest gives credit when entering Hillsborough.
* The Spirit Walk and Spirit Animus shadow forms match up with player Calling!
* Galenir’s Last Answer: Fixed respawn of Galenir.
* Digging in the Dirt: The JKG-77 has learned to better recognize the character it should be following.
* New Blood: Added a missing pre-requisite to this quest, so that you must first complete An End to the Horror.
* Guardian NPCs at Thalin Tor should no longer respawn instantly.

* The Graniteborn Champion and Corrupted Graniteborn Champion ability, Earthen Shock, will no longer react to passive or DoT damage.
* Dead Drop: The respawn rate of the Earthmaul Ward is now faster.
* Breaking the Breaker: Bonebreaker will always be tagged to the player who spawned him. Also cleaned up a case where players who attempted to summon Bonebreaker immediately after someone else killed him could have their quest items removed but not spawn the NPC.

* Only the final boss of Expert dungeons drop the Corrupted and Grotesque Souls needed for Expert and Raid Rifts.
* Reduced the drop rate of Bind on Equip items in Expert Dungeons.
* Adjusted harvest nodes in Abyssal Precipice and Charmer’s Caldera – nodes before the first bosses can no longer be stealthed to.

* Expert: Icetalon’s Ripping Talons can no longer critically hit.
Akala [Outdoor Raid]
* Reduced health of Stone Wardens to make the first fight phase possible with 10 players.
* Akala’s Aegis of Stone and Gift of Laethys buffs can no longer be purged.

* Expert: Gronik will now reset if he leaves his encounter area.
* Expert: Gronik’s minions, Xaeiel and Sanwusu now ignore line of sight with their spells.
* Expert: Added borders around Ryka Dharvos’ area to ensure more laser goodness.

* Expert: Oludare the Firehoof can now Charge and throw harpoons at players from a greater distance.

* Corruptive Ritual: Fixed so that the mobs that drop the required items now always spawn in certain groups.

* Blightleaf Hexmaster’s Noxious Cloud can no longer critically hit.
* Blightleaf Guard’s Wicked Vine can no longer critically hit.
* All general population mobs’ standard attacks can now critically hit.
* Made small adjustments to boss enrage timers.
* Greenscale: Fixed the protective Life Aura occasionally not spawning.

* Added new ranged weapon rewards to the zone quest, You Are Who They Call.

* Expert: Konstantin’s Mathosian Fury is now more lethal (and furious).

* Changed the quest mobs, Guardian Purelights, so the ambush should be easier to manage.
* Expert: Eliam’s Death’s Fury can no longer be removed by player abilities.
* Expert: Rictus: Changed Rotting Flesh from a targeted AoE DoT to a ground target effect with a longer duration.

* Increased the amount of Armor on Cloth items.
* Increased the amount of Plaques of Achievement needed to purchase first and second-tier Expert Dungeon items.
* Pure-Endurance ‘Of the Fortress’ items will no longer drop above level 13.
* A large number of new Essences have been added to merchants in Meridian and Sanctum for purchase with Inscribed Sourcestones.
* Earthbreak Pauldrons from the quest Hero of the Defiants had defensive stats on them when offensive stats were intended. This has been updated for future Earthbreak Pauldrons, but existing items will remain as-is.
* Fixed a number of items, including high-end Weaponsmith recipes, that had incorrect auction house categories. They now appear in the expected search results. We would list them all, but it’s a long list.
* Going forward, randomly generated two-handed weapons will come with DPS stats rather than tanking stats.
* The Waxing Shadesource had stats applied for a higher level item, and has been reduced in effectiveness to match its level.
* Spellbinder’s Sash now has Spell Power instead of Attack Power.
* Crystal of Brilliance and Crystal of Foresight had melee stats but are caster items. This has been corrected.
* Rare Essences dropped from Major and Minor Rifts should no longer be bound on pickup.
* Chan’s Thundering Fist was set up as a Warrior weapon rather than a Cleric weapon. This has been corrected so it now properly has spell power and lower base weapon damage.
* Petrifying Rune: The root proc will now break on damage.
* Fixed Ritualist’s Buckler to be a Cleric-equippable shield.
* A number of offhand book items had the wrong visual attached and have been fixed.
* Powdery Ash now has a proper sell price.
* Fixed many minor typos in item names.

* Fixed an issue where all potions were on the same cooldown. They are now divided into three major groups based on their effects: Healing/Positive, Damage/Negative, and Buffs.
* A large number of items have been updated to be Runebreakable/Salvagable. In general, all items not purchased from a vendor should fall into these categories.
* Fixed Rootcatch Brew items, which were using a healing effect rather than functioning as a snare.
* Recipe: Blazing Wisdom Rune now teaches the correct recipe.
* Artificers may now open their crafting window by right-clicking Looms.
* New zone-specific drops come from monsters in the following zones, and are used in recipes from each zone:
  – Gnarled Core – Scarwood reach
  – Evergreen Core – Freemarch
  – Enchanted Core – Silverwood
  – Stone Core – Stonefield
  – Shadow Core – Gloamwood
  – Rusty Core – Scarlet Gorge
  – Cracked Core – Droughtlands
  – Glowing Core – Moonshade Highlands.
* A large number of recipes from notoriety vendors have been adjusted. Recipes that were previously Uncommon are now Rare and have their stats adjusted accordingly. Ingredients used in these recipes require the Cores mentioned above or have had their other ingredients and quantities updated.
* Iron Buckler recipes from faction vendors have been renamed to Steel Buckler.
* Blackwood Chopper crafted item has been renamed to Blackwood Cleaver.

* You can now report AFK teammates in a Warfront. When enough of the team has reported someone as AFK, they will have a short period to prove themselves by engaging the enemy or supporting the team. If they fail to prove themselves, they will be banished!
* Falling through the world, or using the Customer Service ‘I’m Stuck’ button, will now result in a respawn inside the Warfront instead of teleporting you out and applying the Deserter debuff!
* PvP combat: Abilities now only check for caster facing their target at the start of a cast – they will still land if a target moves behind you while the casting is in progress.
* Killing lower level players in your Warfront bracket will now grant some favor and some experience.
* The Black Garden: The damage dealt from the Fang of Regulos now increases higher than 100% of the carrier’s max health.
* The Codex, Whitefall Steppes: Fixed a bug where stunning/mesmerizing/incapacitating an enemy player did not interrupt flag captures in progress.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Repeatable quests now grant 50 Notoriety, up from 25.
* The Battle for Port Scion: 50 Notoriety is awarded with the Noble Guard or Eldritch Vanguard for every 100 points earned.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Resident NPCs in Port Scion no longer apply the Exposed debuff.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Defiant Centurions and Guardian Lieutenants have had their difficulty slightly reduced.
* The Battle for Port Scion: Capturing Sourcestone with two Idols up is now worth 30 points. Each Idol lost will reduce the score for capturing Sourcestone by 10 points.

* The low health and death effects have been improved in the Low Quality Renderer.
* Shield spell effects now appear on players even when mounted.
* Wardstones in player hubs have new and improved visuals!
* Extraplanar Leather Gloves and Ellisar’s Gloves now have actual glove graphics when equipped instead of INVISIBLE HANDS.

* The /focus command now understands the @targeting arguments like the /target, /cast, and /use commands.
* @pet targets your primary pet, and @targettarget picks up your target’s target.

* Character stats will turn green on the character sheet if they are under any sort of bonus.
* The total number of discoveries for a character is now displayed in the Achievements window.
* Additional improvements to the Soul Tree window – role-changing and resetting visuals, confirmation to save points on exit,  etc.
* Equipped Planar Essences should now show colored borders based on the rarity of the Essence.
* The guild roster will stop showing you as AFK when you log back in after having logged out with the AFK flag on.
* UI pieces docked to the Target and Target of Target windows now stay where you told them to be.
* Guild names are now included in player tooltips.
* Fixed a brief artifacting flicker on the screen when discarding changed video settings instead of applying and saving them.
* Fixed a bug that would cause the Reactive Abilities UI to stop working after performing a /reloadui.
* Edit Layout Mode: Elements can now be set to fade in and out when moused over or when entering and leaving combat.
* The Rift meter contribution bar and leaderboard button have been removed.
* The Tutorial Alert icon will now always appear in the same place instead of being attached to the casting bar (which can be moved by editing the UI layout).

* The green dot next to recommended shards at Shard Select now says Recommended instead, which is what it meant.
* High population shards show in orange text, and medium in yellow. Full is still red!
* We now also display queue sizes at shard selection.

Lantern Hook Fell On Me


Taking a break today from my regularly scheduled “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” series, in part because my screenshots just are not ready for the next piece, and part because I felt like writing about something else.  A good deal has happened since I last did a non-series post.  Namely as you should be able to tell from the recent content, and the slow transformation of the website, I have been playing Rift.  It has been amazingly fun, and extremely refreshing.  As I have commented in recent series posts, I has made me remember what playing mmo’s used to feel like.

More shockingly however than me starting another MMO, is the fact that after six and a half years I have cancelled World of Warcraft.  If you’ve read any of my older posts, you know that my guild, House Stalwart, holds an almost childlike position for me.  Leaving WoW has been easy, after 6 years the game is really tired, and I’ve come to the realization that it has been a long time since I last really enjoyed playing it.  Leaving my guild however, that has been fairly heart wrenching.  As I sit back and watch it being transformed in many directions I tried hard never to take it, I keep having to tell myself that I am no longer in the picture.

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again


Last Saturday I hit level 50, the cap in rift.  It took me 6 days 6 hours and 26 minutes to get there, roughly 3 times the amount of time it took me to level my last character from 1 to 85 in World of Warcraft.  Throughout the process there was not a point for me at least where the content got stale, or the zones ceased to be compelling.  All in all I was extremely impressed with the experience, and look forward to running up additional characters once Belghast has been appropriately geared.

To achieve said gearing, I’ve encountered one of the great traps in Rift.  Namely that for tanks like myself and casters, our entry point into expert dungeons is paved with gear that includes stats that simply do not exist prior to level 50.  This seems like a design flaw to me, if you can imagine during the early days of wow that if defense gear simply did not exist prior to level 60.  The equivalent stat to defense in Rift is that of Toughness, which is scattered throughout precious few items that will be readily obtainable by players who have just hit 50.

I managed to suffer through my first expert without the required 50 toughness, but it was extremely painful.  Last night I attempted to run Fall of Lantern Hook starting far too late for my own sanity.  Having 49 toughness certainly increased my survival, but having never run the zone even on normal before made it equally frustrating.  Initially I was pretty frustrated by my performance, in that it took a few attempts per boss to get them, and we had more wipes that I care to count on the crystal boss.  However, after reviewing the run with a more seasoned friend, seems like we had a less than optimal group, and he was amazed we did that well with two off-heals instead of a cleric.

Difficulty or Distraction


Across the board the two “entry level” expert dungeons that I have run seem considerably more difficult than WoW heroics.  They are definitely more difficult than Cataclysm heroics, but the jury is out on how they stack compared to the Burning Crusade era ones.  Truth is I am not sure how much harder they truly are, as Rift is a new game, with new mechanics and completely new dungeons I am not nearly as familiar with.  I actually leveled in Rift without running that many dungeons, whereas in WoW I was grinding dungeons over and over to exhaustion.

The biggest adjustment I have had to get used to is the fact that since I am one of the first players in the guild to hit 50, I will be pugging a lot of my groups.  I have been spoiled by voice communication with guild groups for far too long, and as a result I am simply not as good about watching the chat window during fights.  I realize that we raided for years, throughout many different games without having a voice server to rely on but at this point it boggles the mind to think how we were ever efficient doing it.  One thing I have learned for certain, a sleepy Belghast is not an effective Belghast.

Though it was a rough run, I did manage to finally get my first post 50 dungeon drop.  With it I have gotten my toughness up to 60, so here is hoping that expert number three will go considerably smoother.  Also hoping to try one of the ones I have already done, to see if now that I know the pulls, and boss strategies I can maybe get through it without looking like a complete and total noob.  It is a shock to the ego to go from Bel, the tank of tanks, to that crappy pug guy.  The consolation is, that everyone for the most part on Shadefallen has been great, and we are all learning together.

Rift 1.02 Patch Rundown


Taking a quick break from the “Why You Should Be Playing Rift” series to throw up a semi related post.  Today a deceptively small patch was applied but it has some pretty major ramifications for the players.  You can view the full patch notes in their unadulterated form here, but basically the patch can be divided up into three major features.

Coinlock Feature

COINLOCK FEATURE — Account Security
* If your account is logged in from a significantly different location, your characters will be ‘Coin Locked’ until an additional ownership verification is made.
* A Coin Locked account will receive an e-mail to their registered account address containing a code to enter in-game to unlock the account.

* A Coin Locked icon will appear on the bottom center of your screen if your account is in this state.
* While you are Coin Locked, characters on your account cannot:
– Access the Auction House.
– Send Mail (can still receive and view mail or remove items).
– Sell to vendors.
– Salvage, Runebreak, or destroy items.
– Trade.
– You can continue to play and gain coin and items, but cannot get rid of them.

* If you are Coin Locked, click on the Coin Lock icon and enter the code found in your e-mail from Trion.
* You can also have Coin Lock emails re-sent to your email address by clicking the button on the Coin Lock interface.
* Once you have verified ownership from a new location, that location is whitelisted for future account access.
* If you cannot access your email or are otherwise unable to change your Coin Locked status, contact Customer Service.

For the last few weeks the assault of hackers of players accounts has become epidemic.  This is a new paradigm in the MMO industry, never before has a brand new game been assaulted this quickly and this thoroughly by the goldseller community.  Trion has been quick to address things like spammers, and this patch adds additional features for that as well, but protection against account hacks takes time to design and develop.

That said… we are still seeing countermeasures roughly 3 weeks after release of the game.  I think by anyones gauge that is extremely fast service.  So far all of their bug fixes have been extremely timely and setting a new standard.  It will be extremely hard to go back to the previous norm of having bugs that are not “exploits” take months (if ever) to get fixed.

This seems like it will work a lot like the system WoW has put in place after years of being deluged with hacks.  Primary difference here is that you can still play the game, you just can’t remove anything from your characters.  I think overall it’s a better solution since if you want to log in to check on something from a friends house, you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of unlocking your account just to get into the game.

Lessening Mob Aggro and Dismounts

* Made a number of changes to how NPCs react to higher level characters:
– Characters under the effect of Exposed no longer have an additional chance to be dismounted.
– Reduced the minimum aggro range of monsters significantly below a character’s level.
– Increased the rate at which aggro range reduces as a character’s level increases relative to a mob.

This addresses one of the major rallying points of the complainers in the user community.  I personally did not mind it as bad as some, but I will definitely agree it was damned annoying when running through Freemarch at level 40+ and getting dismounted by a level 8 wolf.  Another major complaint was that the exposed debuff not only made you take more damage, but had a greater chance to get dismounted.

We will have to see how this shakes out in game, what I hope it does not do is make running cross zone completely safe.  Personally knowing that I could not outrun a mob meant that I was less likely to skip my way through content, or at least be more cautious as I do.  One of the things I have come to appreciate over time is that no matter what level you are, you are not the gods we were in WoW.  However these changes should make it much nicer for when a group is rolling from rift to rift.

Additional Spam Filters

* Reporting mail as Spam now works a lot more like the chat and /tell spam system.
* Sending mail that the game filter recognizes as spam results in an additional coin charge.
* Mail you receive that has been flagged as spam will go to the Spam tab of your mailbox UI.

As Trion buffed up their in game chat spam filters, it pushed spammers to start using the mail system.  We’ve all known the annoyance of getting to our hunting destination only to receive a mail message that sits there blinking incessantly, making you wonder will this be the 1 in 100 time someone actually sent me a real message.  The chat spam system has worked amazingly, and any improvement to the mail reporting system to make it more like that should be excellent.

I hope all of these changes send a clear picture to both the gold sellers and plat buyers, that this game does not want their ilk.  Trion has been criticized over the number of hacked accounts and the amount of initial gold spam, but I honestly feel they are doing as well as they could be for a fresh mmo right out of the gate.  Based on what has happened in previous major MMO releases like Aion and Warhammer, no one could conclude that the hacker community would get so sophisticated so fast.  Especially considering that it took years for WoW to reach the state it is, where basically if you are playing without an authenticator you are asking to have your items stolen.

Full Patch Note Listing

Rift 1.02 – 3/17/11

COINLOCK FEATURE — Account Security
* If your account is logged in from a significantly different location, your characters will be ‘Coin Locked’ until an additional ownership verification is made.
* A Coin Locked account will receive an e-mail to their registered account address containing a code to enter in-game to unlock the account.

* A Coin Locked icon will appear on the bottom center of your screen if your account is in this state.
* While you are Coin Locked, characters on your account cannot:
– Access the Auction House.
– Send Mail (can still receive and view mail or remove items).
– Sell to vendors.
– Salvage, Runebreak, or destroy items.
– Trade.
– You can continue to play and gain coin and items, but cannot get rid of them.

* If you are Coin Locked, click on the Coin Lock icon and enter the code found in your e-mail from Trion.
* You can also have Coin Lock emails re-sent to your email address by clicking the button on the Coin Lock interface.
* Once you have verified ownership from a new location, that location is whitelisted for future account access.
* If you cannot access your email or are otherwise unable to change your Coin Locked status, contact Customer Service.

* Reporting mail as Spam now works a lot more like the chat and /tell spam system.
* Sending mail that the game filter recognizes as spam results in an additional coin charge.
* Mail you receive that has been flagged as spam will go to the Spam tab of your mailbox UI.

* Made a number of changes to how NPCs react to higher level characters:
– Characters under the effect of Exposed no longer have an additional chance to be dismounted.
– Reduced the minimum aggro range of monsters significantly below a character’s level.
– Increased the rate at which aggro range reduces as a character’s level increases relative to a mob.
* Fixed Forest Disruptor companion so his footsteps are not as loud as a full-size Treant.

* Runic Descent: Expert: Corrected an issue where this instance could end with players still inside.
* As a result of the above change, the Captured Soul NPC will be re-enabled after this update.
* Moonshade Highlands: Rational Ward: Fixed issues with quest not updating.

* Greenscale’s Blight: Ongoing tuning for Duke Letareus, Infiltrator Johlen, Oracle Aleria, and Prince Hylas.
* Greenscale’s Blight: Prince Hylas is immune to player abilities that reduce healing taken.
* Greenscale’s Blight: Fixed an issue that could cause Greenscale’s protective Life Aura to occasionally not spawn.
* Akala: Reduced health of Stone Wardens in the Akala outdoor raid to make the first phase possible with 10 players.
* Akala: Akala’s Aegis of Stone and Gift of Laethys buffs can no longer be purged.

A New Challenger Awaits…

Hadouken! Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been forever and a day since I have last blogged.  I’ve been tied up with all the tasks and responsibilities that come with being the guild master of a 600 character guild.  Honestly for me, that has been a major adjustment.  We have always been a small tight knit family of raiders, and with the release of cataclysm some massive changes happened in House Stalwart.

In the past, by choice, we had shunned the concept of guild based raiding.  Throughout our history as a guild we have been the core of several different non-guild raid groups, and at the tail end of Burning Crusade we struck out on our own and build one known as the Duranub Raiding Company.  If you’ve read much of my posts in the past, you’ve followed some of our adventures.

Cataclysm however brought into line several things that rocked the core of this group.  Namely the guild rewards changes, and the guild based achievement system lead us to collapse Duranub and begin to look at raiding as a guild.  As a result, many of the smaller satellite guilds that had raided with us in the past made the choice to go ahead and collapse into House Stalwart.  As a result we have grown leaps and bounds, from having 10-15 players on any given night, to having upwards of 40 players online. 

This could have lead to some major schisms, but for the most part it has been a fairly natural progression.  The majority of the players that now are in the guild were in the greater “guild ecosystem” beforehand.  While we have as a result added in a lot of friends and family in the process of these new members, the result has somehow managed to maintain the same atmosphere we have always had.  Primary difference being, instead of being small and flexible, we are now the 5th largest guild on the server.

The Doldrum Returns

Skull Drudgery Towards the tail end of Wrath, I struggled greatly with trying to find a desire to play the game at all.  With the release of Cataclysm, I had an influx of new things to do that pushed this aside.  However as I sit with 3 85s, all of which are geared I am starting to feel the same familiar tug of not really wanting to play.  In the past, I was fine to dink around on alts but it was the raiding that I really was not enjoying.  This time around, with the switch to 10 man raiding, I am enjoying that aspect immensely.  I just find myself not knowing what to do with the rest of my time.

I’ve been known to wander off and disappear for weeks at a time, exploring various games.  I’ve taken vacations to play all manner of games such as Warhammer, EQ2, LoTRO, and most recently the creation of the House Stalwart minecraft server.  Each time a vacation winds up with me back in WoW, refreshed and ready to level something else.  The problem is, I find myself getting “toasted” a little quicker each time.  The digital blood transfusion, seems to be rejected more quickly.

Where’s the Beef

Where's the Beef! As a whole, I blame this most recent “funk” on Cataclysm itself.  I had been in since the friends and family alpha, and to quote an 80’s commercial, I kept wondering “where’s the beef”.  While the revamp of the oldworld is nice, when you are like me with 3 85s, 4 80s, and 7 characters between 60 and 80…  the prospect of going back and doing the old content seems to lack meaning.  So when you remove all of the oldworld content, that I agree needed to be updated, you are left with 5 outdoor zones, 7 dungeons, and enough raid bosses to make 1 Icecrown sized instance.

Cataclysm just lacks the same epic feeling that the other expansions have had.  In so many ways to me, it feels half done.  As I sat in Alpha, and eventually Beta I kept feeling that surely there was a major update they were holding out until live.  For an expansion that I had been anxiously awaiting for two years, everything just felt incomplete.  As a developer I have been here before, gotten into a project that was too massive to get done by release time.  As a result you start trimming back, cutting everything that isn’t essential, so that you can meet your release schedule.

I feel that Blizzard bit off far more than they were prepared to chew when it came to revamping the classic world.  As a result, you have this banquet of experience for new players, but for us veterans it feels like we are stuck eating budget gourmet.  We as players simply expected more at this point.  Yes we knew going into it that we only had 5 new levels of content, but I had experienced this same drop in leveling in Everquest without getting gimped on the content.

Lets look at the previous expansions, which should underline why I am overall unsatisfied with Cataclysm two months in.  With the release of Burning Crusade it gave us plenty of content to chew on: 8 Outdoor Zones, 16 Dungeons and the introduction of heroic modes, and 15 total Raid Bosses.  With Wrath blizzard kicked it up a notch and delivered even more content:  12 Outdoor Zones, 16 Dungeons, and 18 Raid Bosses.  So to restate, when we look at Cataclysm that as veteran players only gives us 5 outdoor zones, 7 dungeons, and 14 raid bosses it just seems like we got cheated.

Stick a Fork In It

Belghast the Bahmi So at this point, two and a half months into cataclysm, I have leveled through the 1-60 experience twice, leveled through the 80-85 experience three times, and ground enough heroics to gear up those same three characters in 346 or better items.  I am still in the process of raiding through the content, and am enjoying it greatly.  However for the rest of the time spent in game, I am out of things I actually care to do.

This post has developed a life of its own at this point.  Originally I had planned on writing about Rift, as during this doldrum I have managed to get myself hooked on this new MMO.  At this point, that will have to be saved for another blog post.  Apparently I as a player, had more than a few things to say about my disappointment in Cataclysm.  I find myself greatly looking forward to the Rift head start this week on Thursday, and I plan on playing it furiously before and after my schedule raid times. 

One of the cool features of the game is the in-game twitter client.  Towards the end of beta I set up a separate twitter account @BelghastRift, and began tweeting various in game screenshots.  I was initially afraid that the game would end up being pretty spammy, but overall it seems to be manageable, so I might end up switching back to tweeting from @Belghast.  I think part of the problem with my blogging has been, that I’ve barely had the excitement about WoW to keep playing it on a weekly basis, let alone write compelling posts regarding it.  You the readers, if I have any left, should expect to start seeing some rifts content as I explore this new game.

Onwards and Upwards

Ghostcrawler Does Not Owe You a Pony

Last week Ghostcrawler released an article entitled “Wow, Dungeons are Hard!” in which he outlined some of the complaints players have made about the steep learning curve of the Cataclysm dungeon content, and outlining the fact that it was very much on purpose.  I found the article a very well thought out and well written discussion piece about what the folks over at blizzard were thinking about the way dungeons should fit into the entire gaming process.  I expected that this would have helped to quiet some of the discussion over whether or not these zones needed a nerf, however it seems to have caused the opposite effect.  There seems to be a large conflagration of posts both on the wow forums and around the wow blogosphere about that the dungeons are in fact too hard.

A Privilege Not a Right

One of the sticking points I have as I read through these complaints is the general sense of entitlement that the community has developed over the years.  The ability to run heroics, and the ability to raid for that matter is a privilege not a right.  Getting to the point where you can reliably contribute requires a bit of dedication and work from the player.  it should require that the player spend time gearing up, and preparing for the fights.

I guess I just find it odd that folks generally have a problem with that.  I am a very serious about gearing my characters, and make checklists of the various items I need from each of the dungeons.  It is just something I have done since the beginning of wow, and has helped me keep things organized.  I feel a big part of my job in this game, especially as a tank, is to be as well geared as possible so I am the least drag on my fellow players as possible.  I’ve even developed little OCDs about this, to the point that I cannot log for the night without upgrades being enchanted and gemmed.

However it seems to many players the art of gearing, is a chore they would rather not do.  In wrath we would limp into certain heroics straight from quested greens, and I assume that is the expectation that players have had as we entered cataclysm.  When I saw that there were strict limits on the dungeon queuing I applauded them, as I have always been well over the whatever the specific number was.  However as my guild leveled I noticed a number of players lagging behind, and barely keeping up with this cutoff point.  As we neared 85 each and ever player had this 329 number in their heads, as soon as they found out that was the magic number that unlocked heroics in the dungeon tool.

329 is Not a Magic Number

The biggest problem I am seeing is the fact that the target number of 329 seems to be a resting place and “good enough” for most players.  As though they pushed to that number and then are somehow done.  Truth be told this figure is way too low to be effective in heroics on a wide scale.  If you are walking in there as a tank at that level you will be struggling.  I think I was probably 332 or so, when I finally walked into my first heroic.  I had been waiting for one of my healer friends to finish leveling, and at that point it was very much an eye opening experience.

What the 329 number reminds me of is the way heroics worked in Burning Crusade.  If you remember back to that era, in order to get into a heroic you had to gain revered with the specific faction that controlled that dungeon hub.  So in order to run heroic Steamvaults, you had to run enough normal dungeons to be able to grind up your faction with the Cenarion Expedition and purchase the Reservoir Key

This quickly became a pain in the ass, since as a guild you had to coordinate getting all your players to revered faction.  However, as a result running enough dungeons to get to revered generally meant you had fairly decent level 70 dungeon gear when you were done.  However due to the complaints of the community, this faction requirement was lowered to honored.

You could get to honored with almost all of the factions in question through simply running quest chains in the same region.  The big issue at hand became the fact that having the heroic key, became a sense of entitlement.  I functionally CAN run heroics, therefore I SHOULD BE ABLE to run heroics.  The pug community on my server went completely to pot, as it was flooded with players completely unprepared and ungeared to be doing the heroic dungeons.

Raise the Bar

Setting the requirement for running heroics in Cataclysm at 329 is much like starting off the expansion with the bar set down to the honored requirement.  Just from doing quests in twilight highlands and Uldum, it is extremely easy to reach a ilevel of 329.  The problem being, without getting those critical upgrades from normal mode level 85 instances, you are completely unprepared for the step up that heroics are.  A much more realistic number would have been 333-340, meaning that the player would have at least had to have spent some time running normal mode instances and raising their factions enough to start getting those 346 faction rewards.

If the heroic requirement would have been set to a higher requirement, the normal dungeon running would have several effects.  The most obvious is of course with better gear, comes better stats, and more ability to dish out whatever it is your class/spec combo does.  The normal mode dungeons are for the most part 90% the same as the heroic mode dungeons, with the boss fights being the big difference.  The more time a player spends in these dungeons, the more they understand about how each of the various trash mobs reacts and how the normal abilities of the bosses function.  With this firm understanding, moving to heroics becomes a much more iterative step.

So my only suggestion for making things more smoothly is to make it HARDER for players to zone into heroics.  This is likely to be an even less popular opinion than that of the heroic dungeon difficulty being just fine as it is.  However, if players are not willing to do the work on their own in order to ensure they are able to be effective group members, then the only way to make sure things move smoothly is to ensure that the requirement for the heroics is higher.  If you come into a heroic with the bare minimum you are guaranteeing that the rest of the party will have to carry you through the instance in order for it to be successful.

The big problem with raising the cap, is that it is VERY easy to bring a character who is 329 along with a group of players who are in the 350s.  We often do this as a guild, grab a geared tank and healer, and at least 1 geared dps in order to help out players with less than stellar gear.  Raising the cap would lock this practice out.  The only way I can see to bypass this problem, and still keep the players out who have no business being in heroics would be to evaluate a party when queuing based on the average score of the group.  In this case, 3 players that are 350 geared, dragging along 2 players that are 329 would evaluate out to an average party gear score of 341.

The Master Plan

I honestly feel like Blizzard has realized exactly what the various decision they made during the wrath cycle have cost the community.  As I said earlier, it has built a very entitled player base that leveled through an era of easy epics.  When I was gearing my shaman, I had him fully outfitted in epics and and ready to participate in ICC10 only 4 days after dinging 80.  Run the right instances, get a little luck, and it felt you were handed epics on a platter.  An environment with no risk and constant reward is simply not sustainable.

So in turn they’ve turned the virtual screws to our characters, making us fight hard to earn those 346 level items.  The ramp up in difficulty between normal and heroic is like stepping off a cliff if you are not prepared for it.  However, if you go into the dungeon with your brains and a balanced group it is very much accomplishable.  We are having to relearn the community how to play the game as a whole.

As I have said before, Wrath caused us to get soft as players.  The easy train was fun while it lasted, but now it is time to buckle down and work for it.  Wouldn’t you rather feel like you had earned your gear, and had to fight your way through a dungeon rather than steamrolling it and getting free loot?  I found the roflstomp era of dungeon running to be boring and completely without skill.  Now we as players are getting to stretch those muscles we have let atrophy for so long, and honestly for me at least it feels good.

I think with this expansion, Blizzard is trying to retrain it’s community and make them better players.  I applaud that they have the courage to do so, and not simply kowtow to the complaints.  Only time will see if they stick by this new mission. For the sake of the game and its future I hope they do.  While Wolfshead Online called Cataclysm the worst expansion of MMO History, I think its more a matter of this is the most ambitious.  They set out not only to change their game world, but at the same time their gaming community.

I hope for the sake of WoW they Succeed

Heirlooms and JP: A Random Complaint

It has been just shy of a month since the release of Cataclysm, and I have already reached that stage where Justice Points are now completely meaningless on my current main, Belgrave.  I’ve run up an additional character to 85, my shaman, and he is nearing the point of being fully heroic geared as well.  So as a result, rather than race changing my druid Loamis, I rerolled a brand new baby worgen Belgarou.

Papa Needs his Medicine

F5A1205B808F4FE5C0DC80CDBF5638EF I am a fairly lazy person, so if there is a way to level a character faster without the hassle of constantly swapping gear then by all means I am going to do it that way.  So obviously my first thought was… grab some heirlooms.  I had a set of shoulders, chest, and trinket over on my 70 dwarf rogue, so I stripped them off for the time being. 

Being melee centric, the most important heirloom to me has always been the weapon.  Always having a weapon with the stats of a blue at your level is the most game changing item you can get for a character.  While a feral druid doesn’t rely on their weapon nearly as much as traditional melee, it was still something I definitely wanted to lock down.  Even in the brand new Worgen starter zone, and repopulated night elf zones the starter weapons have generally been crap.  So I quickly browsed out to wowhead to find out how many of those JP daddy warbucks (Belgrave), would have to spend on the new member of the tribe.


wtf Yeah, I know that is not the most intelligible heading but that is exactly what I felt.  I really had not paid attention to heirloom prices since the swap from a tier based token economy to the new point based one.  Needless to say I was completely shocked at the insane price gouging going on to get your alts some gear.  Primarily when contrasted with the price of heroic level blues (346) it is just truly insane.  Let me give you some examples of the prices.

Heroic Level Blues (346)

  • Offhand Item / Shield – 950 JP
  • Neck – 1250 JP
  • Gloves – 1650 JP
  • Belt – 1650 JP
  • Shoulders – 1650 JP
  • Chest – 2200 JP
  • Helm – 2200 JP
  • Legs – 2200 JP

Heirloom Items (1-80 Range)

  • Shoulders – 2175 JP
  • Chest – 2175 JP
  • One Handed Weapons – 2175 JP
  • Trinket – 2725 JP
  • Two Handed Weapon – 3500 JP

Seeing the disconnect? I think you do.  The cheapest heirlooms (that cap out at level 80 mind you) are just 25 JP cheaper than the most expensive heroic level blues.  So we are supposed to be paying way more per item than we pay for the gear that allows our characters to raid?  I realize, that I said at the beginning of this post that my justice points are meaningless at this point, and as one of the most geared tanks in my guild I will be running the hell out of instances for a long long while to assist in gearing everyone else.

However, not everyone will be having that dilemma.  We have a good number of players in our guild that are not near as focused on gearing up a “main” first, and as a result spend a good deal of time playing around on lower level alts.  While I am not expecting blizzard to hand us heirlooms in a silver envelope in the mailbox, I just think the pricing currently is way out of line.

Fear for the Future

47746-bigthumbnail One of the things I really enjoyed during the wrath era is the fact that as the life span of the expansion extended, it became easier to catch players up enough to be useful in raids.  With a few weeks worth of work, you could take a green level 80 and get them enough gear to be able to survive in Icecrown.  I’ve enjoyed the fact that upgrades so far have been hard to come by, and require actual work to get, however I am starting to feel the echo of burning crusade.

During the burning crusade era, with the various gating mechanics (attunements), and difficulty to gear up, it became very difficult to replace vacancies in your raid.  We for example are a group of mostly 30 somethings, with families, and jobs, and real life that sometimes intervenes in our game time.  As a result sometimes a player has to leave the active raid through no real fault of their own. 

During the Burning Crusade era, once we moved past tier 4 content, this was a massive tragedy as it meant we either had to step back and spend time running lower level raid content or try and steal a member of another raid that was already at our gear level.  Due to these problems, the raid climate on my server was very back biting and vicious.  Every raid leader was forced to steal from others to survive and keep the home fires burning.  Wrath thankfully made it much easier to find a player with a good attitude, but lacking gear and catch them up enough to start contributing to the whole.

Enough Beating Around the Bush

coyote-bush1 My big fear is that as blizzard decommissions the 359 gear, and moves on to the next tier that based on the current heroic blue prices, the justice point cost will be astronomically high.  We will be right back to Burning Crusade, an expansion where I ran Karazhan every Sunday for literally 2 years just to get players enough gear to begin raiding.  The gearing grind is fun to do once, but not much fun when you have to keep dragging your friends through it.  I came out of the Burning Crusade era very bitter about all the things I had to do on a regular basis just to keep raiding functional.

I Really Hope Blizzard Knows What They are Doing

Fear and Loathing in Heroics

It has been nearly a month since the release of cataclysm, and one thing is certain… we aren’t in Kansas anymore.  Long gone is the wrath era of brute forcing instances with easy AOE tanking.  Long gone is the era of healers being able to spam the tank through anything.  What is left in its wake is a series of instances that require actual forethought and planning to complete them successfully.

Over the last few weeks I have noticed a real reluctance in my guild at least, to run heroics.  There is a certain amount of fear surrounding them, so this has created a divide between the haves and have-nots.  There is a group of stubborn individuals that have waded waist deep in the heroic madness and as a result have come out extremely well geared replacing every slot with heroic level items or at best epics.

The other group of players, has timidly stuck their feet in the water only to get them chopped off.  During the wrath era we as a player base were used to steamrolling content without really trying.  Instead we have returned to the burning crusade style of dungeon running, where even in great gear you can wipe quickly if you don’t keep focused.  I come to tell you all there is hope, so long as you approach these instances with patience and understanding that you will be wiping, you can walk away with upgrades and more importantly experience.

Forming the Party

Back in June of 2009, I created a series of blog posts that I titled Groupcraft 101.  It covered the key skills needed to successfully form groups, and for the most part everything I said then applies today.  However during the wrath era, crowd control was an unneeded hindrance to generating threat on multiple targets.  So as a result we pushed hard through the instances, tanking them by the seat of our pants.  Today, party balance is more important than it ever was.

Get the Tank and Healer First

The key to forming a group fast is to lock down your tank and healer roles first.  Generally speaking as a tank, I have a good working relationship with all the guild healers and many of the server community ones.  As a result it becomes trivial for me to find a healer willing to run an instance.  As a DPS however you need to keep lists of both tanks and healers. 

What I find works best is to message the healers and tanks directly.  In general, your tanks and healers stay busy the majority of the time.  I know personally I am unlikely to notice a request in open guild chat or chat channels.  When I am not tanking an instance, I am furiously working on dailies.  As a result it tends to work best to message the tanks and healers directly.

Get Balanced DPS

Now that you have your tank and healer, its time to move onto picking out some dps.  In general once you have the core of your group locked down, picking up a few dps goes quickly.  There are definitely some things you need to think about while forming your party.  Firstly try and make as balanced a group as possible.

Pointers for a Balanced Group
  • Choose a good mixture of both ranged and melee
  • Make sure you have at least 2 forms of crowd control
  • Try and choose 3 different classes for your dps
  • Try and choose a mix of plate, mail, leather and cloth classes to limit loot contention
  • Make sure you state what you are expecting out of the players up front

Know your Crowd Control

Now that you have a well balanced group formed it is important that you understand what each of the classes brings to the table.  In wrath, our dps were essentially big dumb cannons and all that we really cared about was how much raw damage they could push.  In cataclysm, a player needs to be able to master all of the abilities of their class.  Interrupts need to be applied often, enrage effects need to be tranquilized and most importantly all of the crowd control methods need to be mastered.  Here is a quick rundown of various classes and what kinds of crowd control they can bring to the table.


  • Chains of Ice – While not a solid form of crowd control, can be used to help kite mobs for the party.  Kiting a hard hitting mob has become a very viable way to help break up the damage being dealt to the tank.


  • Entangling Roots – Rooting melee mobs is a very effective way of locking something down.  Breaks unpredictably, so druid will need to watch it and be prepared to reapply.
  • Hibernate – Very effective way of keeping a beast or dragonkin locked down for 40 seconds.
  • Cyclone – Locks target down for 6 seconds, mana intensive and needs to be reapplied often.  Very susceptible to diminishing returns.


  • Freezing Trap – One of the most versatile means of locking down a target, with the right talents a hunter can even keep two targets trapped at once.
  • Wyvern Sting – Puts target to sleep for 30 seconds, however the cool down is 1 minute.  Good to use as a CC for when something breaks unexpectedly.


  • Polymorph – The traditional pinnacle of crowd control.  Stable, can be reapplied quickly, and works on both beasts and humanoids.
  • Frost Nova – Freezes all targets near caster for 8 seconds.  Not stable CC, but great for stopping incoming damage in a pinch.
  • Ring of Frost – Improved version of frost nova, places target on ground and freezes everything in it for 10 seconds.  Again handy for stopping damage from unexpected adds and giving time for more stable cc to be applied.


  • Repentance – Retribution paladins can lock down demons, dragonkin, giants, humanoids and undead for 1 minute.  Negative is that the cool down is also 1 minute, so it cannot be reapplied early to keep a target locked down.
  • Hammer of Justice – Stuns target for 6 seconds.  Great for stopping incoming damage and buying time to lock the target down with another form of crowd control.
  • Turn Evil – Fears a demon or undead for up to 20 seconds.  Not the most stable crowd control but great in a pinch, and in areas without large number of adds.  Remember using this one alot on the Moroes fight in Karazhan.


  • Shackle Undead – definitive undead crowd control.  Shackles a target for 50 seconds, can be repplied early to keep a mob locked down for longer.
  • Mind Control – For dps priest, this is a great way to keep the most annoying mob in the pack locked down. Lasts up to 30 seconds, cannot be reapplied early so a stun or similar short term CC might be needed to allow priest to reacquire.
  • Psychic Scream – Causes 5 targets nearest to caster to flee for 8 seconds.  Great way to get targets off of the priest temporarily, or scatter unexpected adds long enough to allow dps to finish off a current target.
  • Psychic Horror – Causes target to tremble in fear for 3 seconds, and disarms them for 10 seconds.  Another short term crowd control.


  • Sap – Incapacitates a beast, demon, dragonkin or humanoid for 1 minute.  Negative is that it cannot be reapplied.
  • Blind – Incapacitates a target for 10 seconds.  Great short term crowd control.
  • Gouge – Incapacitates a target for 4 seconds.  Another good short term stun.
  • Kidney Shot – Stuns a target for up to 6 seconds (dependant on combo points).
  • Cheap Shot – Stuns a target for 4 seconds.  Not extremely useful as it is an opener from stealth, but if desperate to buy the party a few seconds of time this paired with a vanish can help separate a pack.


  • Bind Elemental – New to Cataclysm, works like Shackle Undead but for Elementals. Binds target elemental for 50 seconds, can be reapplied early.
  • Hex – The Sturdy "sheep".  Transforms target Humanoid or Beast into a frog for 1 minute.  45 second cool down so if you are careful you can reapply early.  Fairly resistant to occasional AOE damage.
  • Earthbind Totem – Falls into the same category as chains of frost, useful for slowing mobs while kiting.


  • Fear – When glyphed this because a great crowd control.  Causes target to be feared in place for 20 seconds.
  • Enslave Demon – Controls a demon for up to 5 minutes.  Great way to remove a mob from the pack and turn it into a pet.
  • Banish – Banishes a Demon or Elemental for up to 30 seconds.
  • Death Coil – Fears target for 3 seconds, great way to temporarily reduce damage to the party.
  • Seduction – Succubus is able to seduce a target humanoid for 30 seconds.


  • Intimidating Shout – Causes 5 targets nearest to caster to flee for 8 seconds.  Short term crowd control.
  • Intercept – Charges to target and stuns them for 3 seconds.  Short term crowd control/interrupt.
  • Hamstring – Slows target movement by 50%, useful for letting a warrior kite a mob away.

Sheep the Moon

Now that you are comfortable with all the possible crowd control options at your disposal, it is time to think about how you plan on marking the targets.  Its important to set up a scheme, and assign certain players certain symbols.  I’ve been in groups that randomly mark targets with no real semblance of order.  The problem with this is that each pull you end up having to explain what the targets mean, which slows down the run.

If you choose a stable symbology, it allows you to mark the targets quickly, and the crowd control to know immediately which target they should focus on.  For example, I always mark sheep or hex with the moon and I always use square for the trap.  This allows players in the guild to have an understanding of how I will always mark the targets.

Equally as important as is to agree on some method of pulling.  When on ventrilo I usually give my CC a countdown of “pulling in 3, 2, 1”.  When running with a hunter, since trapping takes some setup time, we often agree CC on hunter trap.  Regardless of what you choose, it is important to explain to your party what methodology you plan on using, and stick to it from pull to pull.

Pass the Prozac

With all of the above taken care of we move on to the final and most important thing to a successful heroic.  Stay calm, be patient, and understand that more than likely you will be wiping more than once during the course of your heroic.  My first time in Stonecore, we wiped 3-4 times per boss while we were getting used to it, and I still considered it a very successful run.  So long as everyone stays calm and focused on the fights you will recover quickly from any mishaps and keep progressing forward.

Cataclysm has been a return to the core fundamentals of instancing, and with it there have been alot of growing pains especially for those who never spent time wiping in burning crusade heroics.  Truth be told, wrath was an extremely easy expansion, and as a whole it made even us veteran players soft.  There is alot of things we all will have to unlearn and or relearn.  I know personally I have to stay in contact with my healer and watch my cool downs anytime unexpected bursts of damage come in, or the healer runs into mana shortages.  Likewise the DPS needs to do everything they can to reduce the damage they are potentially taking, and stay in communication with the group as a whole to make sure crowd control targets are covered and kept locked down.

So long as your group is able to keep a level head, and is willing to constantly keep adapting and learning you will quickly get used to the ramped up difficulty.  Last night I gathered a group of guild members and managed to run 3 heroics in a row with only one wipe due to a bad pull.  Each of us have been running heroics on a daily basis, and as a result we are used to the ebb and flow of the instances, and now know which mobs to crowd control, which to kill first, and which to try and avoid.  Before long your own groups will move as smoothly, and your gear score will improve with the influx of new heroic items.

Stay Calm, Be Patient, and Stay Focused on the Objectives

Enter the Nub

Lately we have been prepping for this audit at work.  Preparing the type of reports that basically say, please oh please don’t find justification to try and outsource the department.  So all the writing and wrangling of words has left me pretty unwilling to write anything on my blog.  We’ve been beating our faces against Blood Queen 25, while fighting the traditional "it’s pretty outside" attendance breaks.  All of my game time outside of raiding has been devoted to pushing up my shaman.  I managed to cross the finish line this Wednesday, and have been working on gearing up since.  I cheated and got a few pieces of gear crafted, which allowed me to instantly begin queuing for heroics.

Things I Learned in Randoms

Over the course of 5 characters I have gotten pretty good and pushing them up quickly, but this time I kept taking breaks in order to run random dungeons.  I found them entertaining diversions from the quest grind.  All of my friends and guild-mates can attest to the fact that when I start seriously leveling I am dead to the world.  I zone out and stop paying attention to chat, tells, and the outside world.  These groups helped to pull me out of this bubble every now and then and wake me up, as well as keep feeding me a ready source of much needed upgrades.

Problem is, I found it really hard to wrap my head around the idea that I was playing beside folks who you were honestly experiencing the content for the first time.  Being a tank, I have ground these instances into the ground for various members of my guild.  It feels like I have run all of these dungeons, be it old world, burning crusade, or Northrend, hundreds of times between my various characters.  Having geared several different tank characters, it feels like I can pull most of them in my sleep. 

So I was just floored the other day, while sitting in Halls of Stone normal, and I realized that I was the only player who had ever been in the zone.  We all started out as nubs once, it had to happen, but for most of us that time was so long ago we can barely remember it.  I talked about the Veteran handicap, a few posts back, and honestly it was smacking me in the face once more.  I sat there trying not to get frustrated as the players stopped to smell the "granite", as it were.  Instead of being frustrated at the slow pace, and how hard I was having to work to make up the low collective dps of the players, I forced myself to take a different approach.  I could have been an elitist jerk, like so many players are these days in randoms, pushing the inexperienced out of the way for the safety of a fast run.  Instead I offered suggestions, explaining how to tank the bosses, how to keep from getting too many mobs on the various pulls.  I chose to take the role of the mentor, rather than the brat.

Kindness Repaid with Indifference

One of the nasty side effects of the random system is that players are nameless and faceless commodities.  Before the group matching system, we had to actually make connections on our server to real living players, and our actions had consequences on whether or not we got groups again.  Now we know, there is always an endless supply of more players to be abused.  If we don’t like something about a DPS, punt them, because we know that DPS are literally a dime a dozen.  I personally don’t run alot of randoms as any of my tanks, because I don’t enjoy being pushed to skip bosses, skip packs, and generally do whatever it takes to complete the zone and get those players their frost badges as fast as humanly possible.  I’ve always found this detracts from the game.  Which is highly ironic considering I have always been known within my guild and circles for my fast pulls.

The part of the anonymity that I dislike the most is the fact that no one communicates at all.  Wednesday night I was running Forge of Souls normal mode, with a decent group.  Since I had just dinged 80 a few hours beforehand I was obviously not dishing out a ton of damage.  I was charting in around 2000 dps, which in my mind is more than enough for normal mode FoS.  I was johnny on the spot, dropping the right totems at the right moment, doing as much to support the team as I could.  Shortly after Bronjahm I was kicked from the group without warning, or notice.  The only reason I could possibly think, was that my dps was lower than the rest of the party.  What is distasteful, is that me being punted from the party was just a meaningless transaction to the rest of the party, who didn’t even bother to give a reason why.

Gearscore is Lazy

The growing apathy created by the random system, and the prevalence of addons like Gearscore has lead to a weird environment on most servers.  Players in general have unrealistic requirements in their head as to what is really required to do something.  On Argent Dawn for example, the requirement to get into any raid seems to be 5000 GearScore regardless of what the raid is from ICC 10 to the Weekly.  Granted you can get to this made up number of 5000 pretty easily, with a certain amount of time spent gearing, but it doesn’t actually mean anything.  I know personally I regularly have players fill in on my ICC 10 on their alts with GearScores of 4500 or less and do just fine, still being able to clear everything we have been able to clear in the past.

The worst thing is when I see people talking about Gearscores in heroics.  This honestly makes my bile rise a little bit.  We have arrived at a point where we expect to overgear the content so much, that it requires no effort at all.  Storming through the instance, killing everything so fast that it doesn’t actually need to be tanked, isn’t really doing the content "as intended".  I am not sure where these requirements have come from either.  I remember tanking all of the heroics that were available at the release of wrath, in nothing but blues…  why?  Because we didn’t have access to anything better yet a week or two after the game released.  Each of the dungeons has been nerfed a good deal since then, so if we could do them in blues back then, its certain that a player with 1500 dps is more than sufficient.  I laughed at a guy the other day in a heroic, that said it required 35k hp to tank a heroic instance.

We’ve become Lazy

I think basically we as player population have become lazy.  Many of the constructs we have now, were done for our benefit, and taken alone have been great things.  I have applauded how easy it is to gear players currently.  As a raid leader its great that we can grow up players from within our circle of friends and family rather than recruiting from outside.  I have applauded at how easy it is to get a group, but it has caused us to stop relying on our social ties as much.  I have applauded all of the AOE tanking changes in the game, because it is fun to pull entire rooms of mobs, but it has caused a generation of players who do not know how to CC, and more so NOT BREAK CC.  Most simply put, all these nice features that Blizzard gave us have caused us to forget how to play the game.

As I look forward to Cataclysm I am hoping beyond hope that we return to dungeons that require thought.  I want pulls that I have to reason with.  I want to have to know what abilities the different mobs do, and which one to kill first and which to sheep, which to trap and which to shackle.  I want us to have to think our way through a dungeon even if it takes a little longer to do so.  We have these constructs in the game, like the raid target system, that served so well in burning crusade, that really are optional other than marking whatever we want to avoid these days.  I don’t want things to be brutally stupid, and punishing.  I am not one of those Everquest fanbois that longs for the return of the corpse run.  I just want a reason to think again, and I want AOE tanking to be something that only the truly skilled could manage to pull off without killing their party.

Raid Grub: Boneless Wings

It’s been a crazy week for me so far.  My sister in law was rushed back to the emergency room on Monday, and my allergies are going haywire and irritating my asthma to no end.  So I am barely here, however I wanted to get a post up regardless.  Today is the first of what I hope will be a series of occasional posts related to tasty, easy to prepare and most importantly fast food ideal for raid nights.

Every raider has been in the situation of getting home late from work, with only a few minutes left until raid time.  Without the time to prepare a full meal you are left with a few options.  Do you nuke a hot pocket or similar convenience food, or do you grab some chips or something to tide you over until after the raid.  My hope in these posts is to present you with additional fast options.


Boneless Wings

For years I have been a fan of the various wing restaurants, be it Buffalo Wild Wings, Wing Stop or Wings to Go.  They are great for lunch specials, but when you are craving boneless wings during primetime it quickly becomes cost prohibitive to go there often.  I am not sure exactly when it hit me, maybe it was watching the guy at the wing place I used to frequent every Tuesday prepare our order, but it dawned on me that I could recreate this experience at home.  Through trial and error I come to a technique that produces very similar results, or at least close enough on a limited budget.


  • 8-10 Microwave Chicken Chunks (Store Brand, Tyson, etc)
  • Bottled Marinade or Wing Sauce (Lawry’s, various Wing Sauces, BBQ sauce etc)
  • 1 Quart Sized Freezer Bag (Store Brand, anything with a zipper seal)

Make the Chicken

Wal-mart brand Chicken Chunks Okay the first step in the process is to acquire a bag of microwave chicken chunks.  There are various brands on the market that will do nicely.  I personally prefer Wal-mart’s Great Value brand, just for price and ease…  but I know in my local area Tyson is very common and works equally well.  If you want a slightly different effect popcorn chicken works equally well, as do chicken strips.

Now cooking your chicken chunks a bit of an inexact science.  Basically what you are wanting to do is cook your chicken enough to make sure your breading is firm enough not to flake off, but not all the way as to not allow your chicken to dry out in later phases.  Closest estimate is for the 8-10 chunks mentioned in the list, you need to microwave them on high for 2 1/2 minutes.  This starts to crisp up the breading but leave the chicken still very juicy inside.

Marinate The Chicken

Wide Selection of Marinades Now comes the time where you grab the marinade you have chosen.  I have found that any of the pre-bottled steak marinades work extremely well, as do the various bottled wing sauce mixtures.  I personally am fond of Lawry’s Ginger Sesame marinade as it gives a great Sesame Chicken flavor.  For buffalo flavor, I am fond of Budweiser Hot Wing Sauce, but it will vary to what is available in your area.

Take the quart freezer bag mentioned in the ingredient list and place the hot chicken in it.  Into the bag you will pour enough marinade to adequately coat the chicken, but it is best to be sparing unless you like extremely saucy boneless wings.  In general pouring a thick coat to the top of all exposed wings will be plenty to coat all the pieces.  As soon as the sauce is applied seal the bag up tight as to not let too much of the heat escape.  You also want to make sure you have a good amount of air in the bag, so that the chicken can move freely.

Shake the Chicken

Freezer Baggage Now comes the fun part.  Shake the hell out of the bag you just stuffed the chicken in.  You want to make sure all of the boneless pieces get completely coated with your sauce.  If any of the marinade pools up in the corner of the bag, you might have to squeeze it out with your fingers and continue shaking to ensure a thorough glaze.  Once everything is coated lay the bag flat on the counter top.  This helps to let the chicken soak up any excess glaze.

Caramelize the Chicken

Shake and Bake Baby! This is the key step that makes your boneless wings start to taste like the real deal.  After your chicken has sat in the bag for a few moments, and we are literally talking 30 seconds at the most is needed, empty the contents of the storage bag onto your final plate.  Make sure to spread the chicken out, as it will now be clumped together from the shaking.  We will be microwaving the chicken again, and making sure it is in a evenly spaced will assure it receives even cooking.

Place the plate in the microwave and let it cook on high for a minute and a half to two minutes depending on how much sauce was used.  This extra cooking helps to “bake in” the sauce and will start to caramelize it a bit.  This is the step that gives your boneless wings the finished quality as though they came from one of the professional wing restaurants.  If you used one of the steak marinades or a thick wing sauce, it will give it a slight crispness to the texture of the sauce.

TLDR: The Summary

  • Microwave Chicken 2.5 Minutes on High
  • Place Chicken in Quart Freezer Bag
  • Pour Sauce to Cover in Bag
  • Shake Vigorously
  • Lay Bag on Flat Surface and let sit 30 seconds
  • Place Chicken on Plate
  • Microwave Chicken 1.5 Minutes on High
  • Let Cool
  • Om Nom Nom Nom

Let Me Know What You Think

The Sky Isn’t Falling

So Tuesday I posted what seemed to be a rather grim pronouncement that the Cataclysm raiding changes were going to signal the death of casual 25 man raiding as we know it.  On the day the announcements came it, it most certainly felt that way.  So like always I blog what I am feeling, and I felt fear and dread.  So after some time, and much talking amongst friends and confidants.  I have come to the conclusion that the sky really isn’t falling…  it is just changing colors.

Everything Will Change

This is just one more in a long line of game changing events that Blizzard has sprung upon us, and it honestly will change the way everything happens in game for the hardcore and casual alike.  However I am trying my best to adopt a "wait and see" attitude.  There have been so many times in the past that a blizzard pre-beta pronouncement never actually makes it into the final draft.  Do I think this is one of those cases?  Honestly probably not, this seems like a fundamental shift in design that could be happening for one of many reasons. 

My honest believe if that blizzard is trying to condense the raid experience and make it simpler to design and manage.  Right now we have so many raiding options, and as a whole the raiding content is more open to the masses than it ever has been at any point in the past.  However there are so many variants of raiding, and Blizzard has been attempting to make the game viable for all of them.  It has to be hard to balance encounters so they are challenging but doable in a 10 man strict guild, but at the same time offering a bit of challenge to players who are fully 25 man geared.  I think they have been disheartened by seeing all their un-gated content steamrolled in a matter of weeks.

When the designers asked themselves how these players are able to burn through content so fast, it is pretty obvious that they came to the conclusion that it was due to being able to run both 10 and 25 man raids.  You can see the evidence of this decision in the outrageous jump in price between t9 and t10 badge items.  The base prices for tier 9 were 30 badges for shoulders/gauntlets and 50 badges for helm/chest/legs.  We have an extreme jump when you go to frost badge loot to 60 and 95 badges respectively, when there are fewer zones actively dropping frost badges.  The designers obviously were expecting all serious players to be clearing both 10 and 25 man in order to get badges to purchase their gear.

Is it really a problem?

I pose the question… is it really a problem that players who are able to run both 10 and 25 man raids will accumulate gear faster?  I personally have never had a problem with the fact that more time spent in game equates to more rewards.  I am not jealous of the players who have racked up a full suit of heroic mode gear, nor am I jealous of the players who geared out their t10 before me.  Not everyone in this game can be equal, and since I am not on the hardcore track I am obviously going to be a little less equal than others.  Is it really worth the impending schism in order to fix a perceived problem?

I know it has to suck as a developer to spend 6 months of your life working on what you believe to be the ultimate dungeon, only to have to decimated by the most serious players within the first week.  But that is life, people are going to do things you didn’t expect, use tactics you never thought of, and literally throw themselves at the content over and over until it falls down.  I feel their heart is in the right place, in trying to make the entry level of content less confusing to players and make it so they don’t have to "mudflate" the prices of gear so badly as the expansion goes on.  However I honestly feel the current model creates far more opportunity for the casual players, than the proposed model would.

How things are now, it is relatively easy for a newer player to work their way into one of the many successful 10 and 25 man casual raids that form every week on my server.  If you show up at the right time, show the right amount of effort, and listen to the right things…  you can get a regular invite back.  All raid leaders are constantly looking for fillers, especially during the spring doldrums that we are going through.  Leaders often times use their 10 man as a more controlled environment to check a player out before unleashing them onto the bigger raid as a whole.  These changes will blow all of this away and resign 10s to "alt" raids, where they currently rely heavily on seasoned veterans to push through the content at a decent pace.

Positive Changes

While I am still not happy about the changes and the implications they are having, it has had at least one positive effect.  I have come to the decision that the future is far from certain right now.  With the changes to the raid structure and the impending guild rewards system looming on the horizon.  These things might very well spell the doom of casual raid alliances like Duranub.  This got me to thinking, much like when someone gets a dread disease.  If tonight were going to be the last raid we had together, how would I want it to be?

I’ve come to the conclusion that  regardless of our future, I want to make sure we make the most of the tail end of wrath.  By this I don’t mean burn through all the content, I mean really enjoy the most of our time together.  I have been trying to really relax and enjoy the raiding experience, and hopefully my changed attitude will trickle down to the raid members.  The last thing I want to do is go out stressed, agitated and frustrated at what we aren’t doing.  I want to be able to enjoy the time at hand and relish all the things we already have.

I know this is a bit of a 360 from the attitude I had on Tuesday, but sometimes life does that.  It takes the realization that our time might be numbered to really be able to enjoy the time we do have.  So I challenge each of you, to really savor the friendships you have with your raid friends.  Cataclysm will be another bombshell like Burning Crusade, and we have no way of knowing right now how it may change each of us. 

So lets all enjoy what we have today.