Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Summer of Spoilers!

The Cataclysm Spoilers were just too much for some...

There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth since the image-dump that's come from the Alpha release of Cataclysm. The problem is simple: do we really want to know? Should we not wait until the Game is complete before we get to see what's coming? Is it not a bad thing that we're being spoilt for what's to come so many months before we can actually get our hands on the goods?

Is it buffalo!

Spoilers are AWESOME. Spoilers whet our appetite, keep us keen across the long Summer months when all we have to look forward to is grinding Strat hundreds of times for THE DAMN MOUNT THAT NEVER DROPS. Spoilers help sooth us after a long night watching people complain they're bored and there's nothing left to do in a Game that you've not even gotten close to feeling you're done with. Spoilers make us realise just how little time we have to do everything before it all gets reset and we have to start again. Spoilers are The Future, a place filled with endless possibility. Most importantly, they're completely useless without a bigger context, which is why I wonder how they can cause so much consternation.

So I know what some of the new zones look like. I am reassured that the coders have a sense of humour (having seen a certain massive Star Wars: A New Hope shout out in Uldum) and that a great deal of time and effort has been taken to make the new areas look exciting and different from what we've seen in game previously. That's it though, I have no idea what quests I'll be doing, and at present only the vaguest of ideas what new talents I'll have to play with. It's an ALPHA RELEASE after all, and a great deal of it could change before it even arrives at my house in a box. If the data is freely available for the miners to pore over, I see no harm in them doing so (unless it breaks NDA's and then they should be slapped all the way to Stormwind) and frankly I think it's a good thing that we'll have a steady stream of news to keep us talking across what might have been a pretty sparse Summer for Actual In-Game Content.

I appreciate it's going to be hard for those who don't want to know to avoid what's appearing, and that's something that does make me a bit sad. It's not like you're going to be able to steer totally clear of what's pouring out onto the news sites after all. That means if you do want to remain Spoiler-Free, you'll have to start picking and choosing what you read. That then places an added responsibility on sites reporting the changes, and I hope those people will be sensitive to the way they present the information as a result. In light of this, I will officially be stating the following:


I will be all over the spoilers. I will be revelling in the new information. I will be squeeing in unbridled excitement over the next few months, as I just CANNOT GET ENOUGH of the lovely Spoilery goodness. So, if you want to spend the Summer in ignorance of what's to come, time to look away now.

To the rest of you, time to settle down for a VERY interesting Summer of Spoilers...

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stop! Alpha Time!

MMO Champion has Alpha Release Stuff. Too.Much.INFORMATION!

The maps are really worth a look, especially 1000 Needles. Needless to say Kalimdor looks far more interesting than it used to...

Expect me to be stressing about having enough Embersilk, Pyrite, Obsidian Shards, Ebonsteel and Dreamcloth in the future...

Perhaps the most important nugget I've gleaned from a first sweep (only looked at Moonkin talents so far, very exciting, will dig further) is the requirement for the new enchants. You'll need L300 gear. This does mean that people with all that Heroic Gear currently (L277) will need to upgrade to benefit from the enhancements.

Off for more looking...

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

About Bloody Time

In terms of loot, making and then breaking a clear in-game agreement on the way loot will be distributed by a Master Looter can be considered a scam. Unfortunately, some players will make loot agreements they have no intention of keeping to get players to join a dungeon or raid group. In these situations, players who disregard the original agreement and then take (or give away) loot in a different way are potentially violating our Scam Policy. If you believe you have been scammed, please contact In-Game Support.

Please note that if In-Game Support is able to determine a scam has taken place after a clear in-game loot distribution agreement is made, any items involved may be removed from their current owners. In cases where a "rightful" owner can be proven, these items may also be transferred; however, loot will be left unassigned if a "rightful" owner cannot be identified. Due to the privacy associated with these investigations, In-Game Support will be unable to release details regarding an investigation's findings, actions taken, or its final outcome.
So, if you join a PuG, make sure the RL specifies the Loot Rules before you start. If he doesn't, you're on your own. If he does, and there is any kind of Ninja Looting, especially if you are the rightful winner, there is now a real chance you will get your item. More importantly, even if loot has no rightful owner and your RL decides to sweep up the lot regardless, Blizzard should ban him for being a scumbag. The key here is MAKING SURE THE LOOT RULES ARE SPECIFIED.

I can think of at least three PuG's I've been in in the last six months where if this policy had been in force, the players would have been banned as a result. Hooray for Blizzard finally making a stand.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010



Numbers make me nervous, you know. However, numbers are great for helping you understand stuff, like how good your gear is. That's why Gear Score became as popular as it undoubtedly is (until people twigged it was slowing down their machines' performance): a simple number told people what you'd done and where you'd been. Like it or not, it simplified a lot of processes. Hell, even Blizzard introduced a way of checking the iLevel of your gear in game, if there was any confusion as to the significance. We all know however that Best in Slot is not necessarily the highest iLevel item. I've seen enough fights about ToTC 25 trinkets to be able to tell you that the best gear is not always the most current.

I periodically do an average iLevel check using PuG Checker. After a swift ICC25 on P this morning collapsed, but left me with Zod's Repeating Longbow, I thought it was high time I did a recheck. The results were a bit of a surprise.
P: 254.38
W: 253.06
M (Druid): 244.50
K: 243.35
M (Shaman): 242.59
G: 235.82
M (Rogue): 227.18
On this list four alts have seen inside ICC: Hunter #1, Lock, Druid and Shaman, yet the percentage scores across the seven 80's are far closer than I'd expect would have been possible a year ago. The rogue is ample proof if it were needed that running five mans alone is more than capable of gearing you to a decent standard to attempt any ten man raid. The Druid's not seen a single piece of ICC loot but got lucky with VoA, as has the Mage, and those key pieces of loot help to close the gaps. If it were possible with enough hours in the day (and more skill than I possess) I could, I suppose, raid them all. That certainly wasn't the case come the end of TBC. A great deal has changed with the Elbow Loots and VoA's weekly raids.

So, I find myself thinking towards Cataclysm, and wondering where the benchmark will be set. Blizzard have already stated that starter raids will be completable in Cataclysm Blues (which was the case last time around with Naxx) The speed at which the Hardcores cleared Naxx 25, most of them without a single Outland Blue to their name, makes me wonder whether this time around there will be an even smaller disparity between the high-end heroic gears and the starter Expansion gears. With seven 80's in the Family (plus at least a priest who'll get there for the Professions) is it worth making sure everyone is geared now to a standard that makes them easier to level fast come the Expansion, or is it time to draw a line?

 Yes, it may be the Devil's Addon, but Gearscore has changed the way we look at our armour.

I reckon an average iLevel of 240 or above is going to be more than sufficient to send those alts who possess it through Cataclysm without too much of a problem. iLevel 245 (25 Man Normal Trial of the Crusader) feels like a decent level to be aiming at, and although very few of that kind of raid run currently, I'm seeing an increase across my Server, especially at weekends. The trinkets particularly are attractive for people and there's a very decent range that drop there (decent enough for ninja-ing to be on the rise) As it's possible to get a full set of Tier 9 without ever seeing the Coliseum people are now looking for the upgrade tokens too, as the legs/hands for these sets are still grabbable in VoA (most PuG's do Frost + Fire boss before imploding) If you're fastidious with your Daily Random there's enough pieces of 264 purchasable gear to make up the shortfall created if you don't do ICC.

This means of course that two members of the family are geared and ready. Three more, thanks in the main to VoA and rotating my dailies, are pretty much there too. I have to say I'm impressed at the changes that gear choices have bought to the game, and with a bit of thought across the Summer months I reckon everyone can be geared and prepared for Cataclysm, whenever it finally hits us. You just need a bit of thought and some planning, and of course a healthy does of luck when it comes to the Random Number Generator...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Matters Arising :: May 3rd Edition

It's a fairly significant RL Week in the UK: the General Election is on Thursday, which could see the first hung Parliament this country has seen for... ooh... over thirty years. As a result I suspect I may be spending more time than usual in Azeroth. Escaping from RL into a Gaming World: wrong, but socially acceptable if politics are the alternative.

Anyway, on with the News.

You Just Can't Get the Staff...

 ... or in this case, you can. Yes, that's a Nibelung there, grabbed from a weekend 25 Man ICC. Three people wanted it: the winning roll? A massive 10. This means that W is better geared (if you use the average iLevel gear thingy) than P. You can thank VoA 25 for the 264 pants and gloves. Have we said that you should be running 10 and 25 man weekly lately? ^^

Achieving, One Item at a Time.

It's only been four Baron runs since they started keeping records ^^ That's gonna increase over the next few weeks, as P starts off the hardest leg of her 'Painfully Slow Crawl to 100 Mounts' achievement. yesterday I exchanged 100 Crusader's Seals for my Argent Warhorse: next step is doing the dailies until I have enough for the rest of the 100 Seal Mounts. I can still rack up honor for the last remaining PvP Mount. The Red AQ Beetle still eludes me. Hell, hubby even went with me to Kara last night to see if Midnight would do the honours. Here's a man who's being doing what we dub the 'Circuit of Disappointment' in ZG for close to a year without a mount dropping. Nobody said it was going to be easy...

Last night I also popped down to the Grim Guzzler to pick up some Dark Iron Ale. I watched the Tauren Chieftans do a soundcheck (if you have a Direbrew's Remote there's an option to summon them specially) and found myself hoping we see more of these guys come Cataclysm. This little trip means I will, in under a week, have a Jubling (finally) of my own. That will mean I've managed to find over 100 pets (in anticipation of at some point there being an achievement for three figures) with a load still to go. Add a trip or seven to the Swamp of Sorrows to kill Green Dragons to my 'To Do' List...

Things are Getting Serious.

My husband pulled out his L36 Shaman last night. I am sensing that he may be ready to level her, and if he is then it's serious. Checking this morning that that Cataclysm Alpha test has been announced it's inescapable, we've officially moved into 'Waiting for Cataclysm' Mode. The number of alts being levelled or improved in Guild has increased dramatically in the last month, so I sense it may be time to start programming some Old Skool into the Guild Raiding Calender. Get those instances now for Classic Raider before things start dropping off the map altogether...

Oh, and talking of alts, I have a L11 Warrior. Yes, I KNOW what I said. We will talk no more of this, at least for now...

Sell, Sell, Sell!

No doubt as a direct result of the increase in alt levelling, the AH has gone a tad bonkers. I sold over 150g's worth of Core Leather over the weekend, plus numerous Vanilla enchanting mats for above normal prices. Now is the time to check your AH for bargains! I have a load of Strat greens to DE too... good times!

Sunday, May 02, 2010


It took over a year. It made me feel sick. In the end, of course, it was simply a case of the right approach.

Children's Week last year was, in the opinion of most people I spoke to, a nightmare. It was the School of Hard Knocks that did it for most people: having to achieve such a list of (relatively) simple tasks in a BG was enough to move some people to tears, me included. I gave up very early in, but in retrospect it was me that was the problem, not the achievement. To do anything in Warcraft requires the right mental attitude (PvP doubly so), and I woke up this morning with one thought in my head: however much I might get annoyed or frustrated by other people I was going to complete the Achievement, without being rude or pushy, whilst playing the game as well as I could. I have a decent set of PvP gears, I know how all the BG's work: how hard can it be?

In the end it worked out really well, and came with a pile of added bonuses.

WSG was the first to pop, and I found myself defending the flag room with seven other people. SEVEN. Normally it's just me. If I'm lucky :p In the end I returned my flag in the tunnel after a two minute scrap with an Elemental Shaman. The healing today was superlative: all these Disco Priests, most of whom have never stepped foot in a BG before in their lives... let's hope this makes more people want to do the BG thing in the future.

AB was next and was the simplest of the four achievements to complete. Nobody in my group seemed to work out they needed to actually click on the flag until very late in, I'd capped five flags before it registered people simply weren't getting it. By that point however we were 4-0 down and in the end it was a 5-0 whitewash. No matter, I was halfway there. I was using the random BG finder to do this Achievement, and I won 2 Isle Of Conquests between these two. The honor was beginning to rack up. I kept going: another 2 WSG's, both 3-0 wins. The second time it was glorious, and six people achieved in a great display of co-operative play. Maybe my problem last time had been not starting early enough in the day.

Remind me not to log out in my PvP Gear...

By lunchtime I had 30k honor. I was halfway there. So far, it was all going well.

EoTS was always the worrying one of the four. When I took it (having gotten tired of waiting for it and having realised it was the Call to Arms Weekend BG) it started badly. 10 Alliance in the middle does not make a winning BG, and in the end we were badly beaten. So, I redialled the quest and prepared to defend a base in the hope that I'd get lucky. I did. I got a partial premade: seven people, and with a system. We took 3 bases and flag ran, one at a time. It was GLORIOUS, and when I finally capped my flag we won with nearly 500 points to spare. Suddenly I found myself wondering why I was worrying.

Finally I queued for AV. When the gate went up I decided I'd go for Tower Point, and about seven people followed. We all stood around the flag, in quiet contemplation and the strangest thing happened. Every time a Horde would come to cap, no-one touched them until they had, and then they'd get creamed. Someone would click the flag, and the process would repeat. It was bizarre. When you clicked, you'd head off to Drek and stand by. I hit my achievement and we won. When I looked at my final honor total for the day, I'd earnt enough for my Black War Ram. Frankly, considering the (potential) grief I thought I'd have, it was all terribly civilised in the end.

Then all I needed was four willing Guildies to go take me to Utgarde Pinnacle.

Thank you, Guys.

For a Purple Mount, it really is rather epic. Add to that the PvP Mount, the two new pets from the Orphan quests (WTB working matron in Dalaran for the third) and it's really been a rather splendid day's work.