Friday, October 26, 2012

Poorly Sick :(

Twitter was informed of my poorly sickness at lunchtime. With husband now home and one child off at the School Halloween Disco, I am feeling slightly better, but nowhere near capable of blogging coherence. As a result I present a selection of screenies plus commentary in anticipation of IntPiPoMo 2012 which I failed horribly at last year but intend to do my damnedest to complete this time around. Regular content will (hopefully) return sometime over the weekend.

Ain't no party like a Tillers Party. Apparently.

I am Exalted with the Tillers. I celebrated by taking a day off and NOT PLANTING ANYTHING, but now I am back to Motes of Harmony. I also managed Master of the Ways, and my love of cookery in game has been severely tested as a result. I know I'll need at least 10 Ironpaw tokens for the new Cookery Bag plus 50 (I believe) for the next step, the Cookery Bell (and my own student) I'm going to need time away from worrying about the Farm before that happens. That means raw mats for crafting until I can formulate a suitable plan.


The major benefit of the Tillers APART from the obvious cash cow it can be? Goats. This is by a long way one of my favourite mounts EVER, there is just something about a Dwarf on a Goat that just works. Needless to say, I don't fly to places as much as I used to, especially in Kun Lai. The grey beauty in the foreground is, of course, my rare spawn. MATCHING ITEMS!

Can you do 'Learn to Fly' ?

I found this fella in a cave at the far north of Kun Lai, by the coast. I wonder if he's practising to go on tour? ^^

Screw this spider, I want THAT one as a Battle Pet!

If I feel better tomorrow, I might consider some more fighting. With the number of new pets coming in 5.1, I'm already behind the curve ^^

I dunno....!

I've spent a remarkable amount of time farming, but not at the expense of other things. It is ironic, I think, that so many people are spending so much time on areas of the game that, effectively, no-one else will ever be able to either see or visit.

And with that, I'm back off to the sofa. Have a great Weekend, Folks.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Space is ACE!

A great big fat wodge of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

With the announcement that 5.1 is sticking minipets into Vanilla content I find myself thinking that previously off-limit opportunities for 'expansion' may be finally on the cards. We're going to see updated models for Wyvern and Gryphons, for instance, something that has been a long time coming. I can't help but think, knowing the scantest of 5.1 spoilers, that suddenly we have a much larger canvas on which the expansion is playing out, not simply limited to the 'areas' that have been added in September. Previously unknown content will magically will open up under Stormwind and Orgrimmar for the Brawlers League, for instance. Outland content will become integral to a Scenario, with consequences across all previous expansions. These are exciting times.

So what has all of this got to do with the large expanse of green space I discovered between Moonglade and Winterspring, I hear you ask? The significant area with absolutely nothing on it that doesn't register on the map?

Literally NO expense was spared in the production of this graphic ^^

There are a significant number of these areas that exist in game currently. They won't show up on your map and (in the most part) I assume they were added when Azeroth was re-terraformed for flying mounts back in Cataclysm. I know of large areas of deserted land near the airport in Ironforge and the Arathi Highlands, the kind of places I come across when doing Archaeology or (as has been the case in the last week) hunting for Wild Battle pets. In many cases there's not even a texture in place as there is in the Moonglade picture, it's just blank colour surrounded by hills. I'm pretty sure that if I had the ability to ask a Blizzard Dev what these were, they'd tell me they were there for redundancy purposes. That is: when you build a massive world like this, there needs to be room for expansion, so you don't have to keep bolting on different extra bits to your map every time you want to increase your content. Blizzard have solved this problem to a greater extent with the use of the instance portal: cross that and you move into a duplicate of the same area which can be tailored to any number of different situations (with phasing bolted on for levels of dificulty or stages of development). However, as is becoming increasingly apparent, people like to be doing stuff in the living, breathing world. Is it possible therefore that we might yet this expansion see new content moved to areas other than Pandaria?

There's one huge spanner in the works when it comes to implementing such a plan, and why the instance/expansion portalling is such a simple solution: making sure people only get what they pay for. If you wanted to go to Outland, you had to pay for the expansion and the content remained firmly inaccessible if you didn't. However all that has changed with Pandaria, where the restriction to content is level only. Pandaria the continent isn't behind a loading screen, it's a boat trip. You don't need Pandaria to play a monk. I wonder if this means that we may finally see Blizzard exploiting these unused areas of existing land in Azeroth, and perhaps in Northrend and Outland too. I'm also quietly clinging onto the hope that we will eventually see the portal between Eastern Plaguelands and Ghostlands vanish and you'll be able to fly unhindered from one part of Azeroth to another. Then I think I'll be properly convinced that there's a single vision for Azeroth's future that doesn't rely on the Battle Chest price's being dropped every time so that you can have all the bits of the puzzle required to play Warcraft.

It's big, it's white, there's not a dwarf in siiiiight...

I'm keeping a mental note of every vast area I find (and screenies wherever possible) and my fingers firmly crossed that at some point in the war between Alliance and Horde that we're going to no just see major changes in Pandaria, but there might be some action far closer to 'home'...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some Things You Should Know about Pet Battling...

Ah Eastern Kingdoms Master, we meet at last...

Someone far smarter than me has already compiled the Mother of all Pet Battling Guides. I have no real desire to try and outdo such a wondrous thing, because I'm having far too much fun just bimbling into battles with boundless enthusiasm and pretty much no idea of what the outcomes will be. However, after you've completed 250 fights, stuff does begin to sink in. You begin to understand that sometimes, just your favourite three pets aren't enough, and you might be forced to think out a strategy. Especially as fights stop being 1 v 1 and you're needing to fight three high level nasties to snag the rare you want, it does help to have a plan.

As a result, here are a number of things you really should know about Pet Battling from someone whose learning it the hard way, with their nose pressed firmly in the dirt of the Eastern Kingdoms...


1. You Can Spot the Rares.

A while ago someone in Guild whispered me, saying she'd worked out how to tell if she was fighting a Rare Pet. Despite some initial scepticism I did a bit of digging on the Internets soon afterwards and discovered that yes, you can work it out, and that people have macros that can take out the difficult maths. I however have decided to go the easy route, and I now recommend that if you are doing any volume of Pet Battling you really should have Pet Battle - Quality Notifier in your Addons Folder. Not only will it tell you by mousing over a battle pet whether you own it, but it will allow you as you enter a multiple pet battle to ascertain which pets are what rarity.

Hitting the jackpot as I do my first Winterspring Battle... ^^

In the later fights, when three pets are potentially useful, you should not underestimate the ability to know which ones are more valuable than others.

2. There's a Reason Blizzard Won't let Us Trade Wild Pets.

Apart from the obvious 'cheesing every achievement' potential being able to trade Wild Pets would give us at high levels, it is really very apparent the advantages a L1 Rare pet gives over every other quality.

Mine versus Theirs... Yaffle is rare.

Rares level faster, have superior stats and (in most cases) can take out pets several levels above them of lower quality. This means you can fight higher placed opposition and improve the entire levelling experience considerably. In this case at least, looks won't beat stats nearly as quickly. You may have an attachment to your Golden Dragonhawk Hatchling but it will not get you to L25 as fast as a captured L1 Rare, or one of the pets designated as Rare by Blizzard (in the main these are achievement or feat of strength rewards and Blizzard Store purchases [*]) Of course, there's nothing at all to stop you levelling non-rares, just bear in mind it may take a lot longer, and may result in increased levels of frustration (especially against NPC opposition) I've taken to only using rare captures or pets I know have the levelling advantage, and I suspect I have saved many, many hours of playtime.

3. Never be Afraid to Run Away.

There is currently absolutely no penalty in giving up a fight against the computer or a Battle NPC (well, at least none that I've seen, but I'm betting the stat's being recorded somewhere) The only possible disadvantage I've seen discussed is leaving fights against low quality pets in areas where those pets are on a long spawn timer, but I'm still not convinced of the validity of that assertion. Until someone can tell me, I'm working on the theory that if I go into a fight and I'm not happy, waving a white flag is NOT a sign of weakness. If I'm looking for a particularly rare Pet I'll take anything I can get, but there are cases where fighting multiple mobs fast to find the rare spawn is not a crime. Needless to say if you pick a fight and can find a Mininfernal, don't back out as soon as you get there. Make sure you're pets are healed (bandages, Stable Master, 8 minute WHY IS IT SO LONG cooldown on your pet interface) and you have the three you want before you commit. It's best practice, but if all else fails... the emergency exits are <---- and ---->.

4. The Holy Trinity of Pet Battling...?

I don't like to admit it, but the heal-damage-tank combination's pretty awesome. Pets with a heal are mini powerhouses on their own, those with a group or area heal doubly so, because you can combine them with a 'tank' pet and a 'dps' pet to make some fairly potent combinations. This is one of the reasons I'm levelling a 10 man team on my initial pass, because of the flexibility it gives me as fights become more complex. My favourite pet for this right now is the Celestial Dragon I snagged for the 150 Pet Achievement and it's undoubtedly awesome Moonfire ability:

Screenie from

Not only does this pet do damage, but it allows you for a massive NINE TURNS to increase magic damage, plus boost healing FOR ALL PETS by 25%. Lung has consistently been the last pet standing in nearly all of my major battles and a lot of it comes down not simply to the Moonfire, but his own impressive self heal. This is where 'learning' how to battle is coming into its own for me, as I get a sense of what pets work best in particular situations, without having to look at a How To guild or moving automatically to what would be the best Pet 'in Slot' by someone else's website. Having a decent healer is clearly awesome, but it won't matter if you can't soak up damage or throw it out when needed, especially when we get to the serious business of Fighting Real People. That's a post for another time...

The key to success is knowing what your pets are capable of, and being ready to use the best on offer in your fight. A Holy Trinity is not to be scoffed at.

5. The Value of the Swap.

You should never be afraid of swapping pets in and out of a fight. Yes, you will incur a penalty when you do (your opposition gets a free hit effectively) but if this means your pet remains alive so that it can get the XP for the complicated three pet tussle you're coming to the end of... but it's not just about that. There are some fairly powerful AoE abilities with multi-round effects available to your pets, and getting them laid down on the playing field early on can give you an edge. Of course, when you're in the heady lands of 1 v 1 or 2 v 2 the swap isn't nearly as effective, but there are a couple of 3 v 3 fights I've won simply by the use of a well placed mid-game tag. You get three pets for a reason, after all. USE THEM!

6. Understanding Speed's Significance.

So many debuffs, so little time!

Your pet has a number of basic key stats: Health, Power and Speed, all of which scale with level. The speed of rare pets is better than any other pet quality. However, if your opposition has a faster speed, they'll throw the first punch, and many pets have speed reduction abilities as standard. This is important to know especially if your pet is at low health and is likely to bite the dust with your opposition's next attack. As a result, watch your debuffs, and be prepared to act accordingly. As you can see, Sideways has got his shields up (good lad)  and still has a round of healing aoe to bask in. Oh and he's AT FULL HEALTH as well so take that, Badlands opposition!

7. There are More than Three Abilities...

If it were not for Arcane Storm, I would not be here today...

It is easy to forget that each of your pets has six potential abilities once it hits L20. If you are having trouble with NPC opposition, I'd strongly suggest checking out your higher level spells. Arcane Storm replaces my pet's self heal which, in a computer-driven battle I'd rather not be without but against the three Dragons you'll encounter when you challenge the Searing Gorge ttrainer NPC, it turned out to be a lifesaver. Your weather effects can overwrite those of your oppositions.

Remember however that when you swap your pets out they will revert back to the three low level default abilities, and you'll have to manually reset them. Hopefully this will be addressed in a patch.

8. When All Else Fails...

Remember, this is just a game in a game. It's not life and death, and its certainly not worth losing sleep over (yes I know you're sadly obsessed with it, I totally get that.) If it all gets too much, other recreational activities are available. Remember to take regular breaks, do not expect your significant other to cook for you (many thanks to my husband for putting up with a weekend of pet battling mayhem.) Next up for me is a wander around Kalimdor, collecting and battling as I go before I have a punt at the master trainer on that continent. More news as we have it :D

[*] I'll do my best to produce an updated list of what qualifies as rare pre-Pandaria and stick it on the site this week.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting the Band Back Together...

I get to fight in the BEST places... ^^

This weekend, I 'did' Pet Battles. Or rather, they did me :p

I captured FIFTY SIX pets this weekend, and have reached the point where I am ready to take on the Eastern Kingdoms Master Trainer. The ride was utterly addictive, and pleased many, MANY of my brain cells. Whoever came up with this idea at Blizzard HQ should be heartily congratulated, as it really does work as a completely separate entity in its own right.

I'm doing things (perhaps) a little differently than many of you guys, so I think to start a week's worth of Pet Battle Posts (possibly more if this continues to be a full-time job) I should explain my basic aims with the approach I'm taking. I'm doing my best to level a full Ten Man Team: one of each pet type, keeping up with each other whenever possible. This fell down late last night but the plan will be, as soon as is humanly possible, to have ten pets all at L15. This may be enough to take out the Pet Trainer in Deadwind Pass, it maybe not, we will see. My main concern (I must admit) is not speed, it is quality... or in this case Quality, not Quantity. To that end I spent a lot of time in each Eastern Kingdom zone yesterday, fighting multiple battles just to try and secure the pet rarity I was after.

Ask me about Finders Keepers later in the week... ^^

Part One of my plan was simple enough: complete as much of Eastern Kingdoms Trainer as I could, pick up any extra achievements along the way, then move onto Kalimdor and do the same. As of last night I just have Deadwind Pass and the Twilight Highlands to cover: Family Reunion was competed with the Pet Trainer in the Searing Gorge. I have key pets missing from the Hinterlands and Wetlands I'll need to go back and capture: the Jade Oozling is one I'd really like to nab as a Rare as the current Magic pet I'm using (Willy) isn't. The value of rare pets really is not to be underestimated in the fight to outclass NPC opposition, it means faster XP gatherage and the ability to punch above your level in normal fights. I have thoughts on that, watch this space.

I also took time out to battle a pet in every Alliance Capital with a quick detour to the Draenai starting area so I don't need to cover it in too much detail again. Then I was passing the Undercity and used a Wickerman scrap to nip in and tick off the first part of  the Horde equivalent achievement. My ten man team has remained pretty static through out all of this as well, though this will change this morning if I can snag a rare Oozeling from the Hinterlands:

  • HUMANOID: Delphi (Curious Oracle Hatchling)
  • DRAGONKIN: Lung (Celestial Dragon)
  • FLYING: Leyton (Fledgling Buzzard)
  • UNDEAD: Nutkin (Infected Squirrel)
  • CRITTER: Dime (Armadillo Pup)
  • MAGIC: Leela (Willy)
  • ELEMENTAL: Vargoth (Kirin Tor Familiar)
  • BEAST: Shadow (Dusk Spiderling)
  • AQUATIC: Sideways (Shore Crab)
  • MECHANICAL: Davros (Blue Clockwork Rocket Bot)

I began with Humanoid/Mechanical/Elemental and added along the way: it occurred to me very early on in the battling process that I should have access to at least one pet from every family to give me an even chance of beating whatever NPC opposition I had. I have very deliberately not checked pet trainer composition, so I could go into every fight 'cold' and try and work out tactics myself. I am very glad I did, as it has made the NPC battles anything but a formality. I realise this approach will not be to everyone's tastes but it suits my nature pretty well, and made for a very enjoyable couple of days 'work'...

This week is likely to see reduced playtime (first OU assessment for new module is due next week, might be an idea to actually write something for that) so when I am in game I'd expect to try and pick up rare versions of the poor quality uniques I've found and do my best to prepare for the showdown at Karazhan...