STD Strikes Again: Now In Heroic Proportions

STD’s abound this holiday season, and I’ve contracted this one from Syrana (hey, at least I have class… or something).  Side-note from Valask: Apparently I have been entirely too active in the blogging community if I can keep coming home with all these diseases — Use protection!

@Windsoar – Another lover of alts, I see! :) Let’s see…. if you were asked for your input on the next hero class – what would it be? (I’m leaving this open and broad so you can have fun and focus on whatever aspect you’d like – the class, specs, affiliations, starting zone, etc!)

I honestly had a very rough time with this topic because I hearked back to my favorite prestige classes from Warcraft III–the warden and the battlemaster.  While I think either would be worthy, too many of their notable skills have been integrated rather nicely into the current classes.  The Warden–a la Maeiv Shadowsong–is an assassin, bounty hunter, and the creme de la creme of security forces for the Night Elves.  A melee class that could blink to and from the battle and destroy enemies with a twirling fan of knives from their capes are too much akin to an old favorite of mine, the rogue.

The Battlemaster–Grom Hellscream anyone–is known for his devastating two-handed mastery and whirlwind attacks which is the current epitome of an Arms warrior.  While you could argue that these are heroic classes, and thus would be better than the paltry downgraded versions, in all honesty, its hard to rev up the rhetoric to argue for their inclusion when they are so well represented, even if its by a different name.

So, since my first two options were out, what to do, what to do.  First, I couldn’t decide on just one.  While a melee class is highly unlikely for the next expansion, I have a secret little place in my heart for a melee class that I think needs to be included.  Healers, honestly, need the next heroic class, and I thought of a nice hybrid that I’d like to see; however, going that far I couldn’t leave out all the lovely ranged… so, sit back and enjoy the next three heroic classes on my wish list.

Primalist (Melee)

http://www.wowwiki.com/File:Trollprimal.jpgA Primalist is a warrior that has explored within himself to find the wellspring of his rage–the beast within.  Driven by their most primitive instincts, Primalists are able to take upon the characteristics of a beast such as claws, fangs, and horns.  Shunning man-made weapons and armor, the Primalist uses those tools gifted him by his insights–his hands, feet, teeth and claws–to inflict damage on an opponent.  As part of their training to discover their inner spirit, Primalists learn hand-to-hand fighting, as well as how to call upon rage at will.  There is a price for their unique form of rage generation, however, since it cannot be called upon demand until a suitable time of resting has occurred.

Primalists were originally found in the strongest concentration in Troll tribes.  However, over time, many warriors–from the Horde and Alliance–have retreated from the world of men in order to find a haven to explore their inner power.  Those who seek and find Primalist communities, and who are found worthy, have been accepted willingly and taught that which the masters have to offer.  Often secreted on remote islands, the time of troubles has caused many new recruits to flee the ancient camps upon completion of their orientation, to test their fate and skills within the greater community, and hopefully, to find acceptance for their oft-maligned gifts.

The Primalist may choose from three specializations: Martial, Primitive, or Rager.  Martial Primalists excel at hand-to-hand combat, but are less skilled in controlling their rage.  These Primalists are often considered underdeveloped by their masters, having not found their true center, but have exceled at those activities that are offered at the Primalist camps which focus the body into the new, expected changes.

Primitives have mastered all aspects of their form, but still have some problems with rage control.  Primitives often find themselves with the most devastating abilities, but with an inability to execute them successfully until they can call upon their inner rage again.

The Rager is a master of his own rage.  At will, he can call upon vast reserves of rage to fuel his exploits; however, like the Martial, he is underdeveloped in the martial techniques favored by the master Primalists.

I would like to see the ability to build a truly solid tri-tree with this particular class, but I do not have the patience to build an actual tree with abilities and whatnot.  This is primarily a poor sketch that I may come back and build upon at some future date.

Bombardier (Ranged)

http://www.wowwiki.com/File:Sapper.JPGA Bombardier is more than an engineer–he’s an engineer on crack–a walking suit of incidierary devices waiting to be put into action.  Although gnomes were the original bombardier, the cost of testing new recipes for bigger and better explosions has caused the recipes for many of their favorite devices to be sold to other, less worthy races (in their opinion), namely the goblins.  However, goblins are no slouches when it comes to explosions, and they have easily matched the gnomes inguenity in creating new and effective devices where they couldn’t beg, borrow or steal the existing plans.

Considered a danger, to friend and foe, bombardiers have generally been sequestered by their respective people’s in remote areas of Azeroth, in order to prevent unilateral destruction of the capitals of each race; forays to these secluded regions has been undergone by local parties of concerned citizens with the recent rocking of the world–while the bombardiers have denied all part in the recent rumbles (they wish they knew how to do it!) skepticism remains.

Bombardiers can choose to specialize in a number of bomb-making activities: Explosives, Cannons, or Rockets.  Explosive experts dabble in a wide variety of concoctions that can be released in carefully timed bombardments to create those large pretty explosions that make every Bombardier giggle with delight.  Explosive masters have a combination of floor and thrown devices, making them one of the more complex specialties.

Cannon experts stick to one kind of device, and they do it very well.  Mobility is a problem due to the size of their *ahem* gun, and Bombardiers specializing in cannons must take into account the type of powder they wish to use to maximize the effectiveness of each shot.

Bombardiers who focus on rockets are highly mobile explosive masters.  Rockets are faster and more flexible than the cannon, but require a certain finesse with both large armor shattering rockets, and smaller, penetrating rockets being available.

Bombardiers would be very specialized in a specific tree to maximize their dps potential.  Again, a poor sketch that doesn’t capture the talents very well.

Sorcerer (Healing)

http://images1.wikia.nocookie.net/wowwiki/images/0/05/Sorceress_artwork.jpgSorcerers do not rely on the will of the gods to provide the clerical magic needed to heal and protect — instead, their power comes from their very willpower.  Excluded from the circles of clerical healers, and wizards alike, sorcerers have shared their powers with very few outside their small enclaves scattered around Azeroth.  Since their magic is not spiritual, but instead an extension of the sorcerer himself, powers of healing, protection or destruction may emanate from these sometimes unstable, and frequently powerful, magic users.

Blood elves have been the most recognized sorcerers in the world.  Once branded a sorcerer, a night elf is expelled from the community.  However, night elves are not the only race to have discovered their own mystical powers, and many peoples from the Horde and Alliance have banded together in small communities to practice their art and expand their own power.

Sorcerers can specialize in three diverse areas: Divine, Protection, or Spiritual.  Divine sorcerers are akin to many types of healing classes, in that their spells are ones of direct healing.  At the highest levels of mastery, their supreme willpower allows them to become a literal fount of healing.  Appearing as shining beacons of light, these sorcerers imbue a health empowerment (more hps) and minor restoration merely by being in the presence of others.

Protection sorcerers are cut from an entirely different cloth.  The sorcerers primary spells are designed to protect himself in order to engage directly with an enemy; however, this tight quarters encounter serves a purpose–with a direct connection to another creature, the protection sorcerer can inflict devastating attacks which help cripple the foe, while providing area of effect protection bonuses to other melee characters.

The last specialization a sorcerer may choose is spiritual.  The Spiritual Sorcerer uses his own willpower to protect other members of the party.  Unlike a discipline priests’ bubbles, the sorcerer’s protection is limited by his own person willpower rather than a time set by the divine.  The stronger the sorcerer, the more effective the shielding.  At the highest levels, the sorcerer can shield the entire party for a limited time, although higher damage will drain the sorcerer’s will quite quickly.

I’d like to play around a bit more with my Sorcerer.  I think some more innovative healing techniques can be brought to bear here, but I’m having a hard time thinking outside the box of my current thinking.

And there you have it–three groups of outcasts that would tuck in nicely to the changing world of Azeroth–a melee, ranged, and healer.  While nothing is earth-shatteringly exciting, I’ve tried to include some fun things that would make each class interesting and compelling for the most jaded player out there.

I’ve also tried to play a bit with what drives the mechanics of the class.  Warriors, currently, are the only rage users–wouldn’t it be interesting to see another look at rage? Bombardiers could fall into either an energy or mana type class–hunters are being moved to energy, but I think mana or a completely new energy system would make more sense for a successive layer of bombs!

While it would be difficult to implement, I think an argument could be made for a different type of mana for sorcerers — energy would be the most “fitting” of the current types of resources available currently, but it would completely screw up the entire tide of healers’ mana determining the length of a fight — and would be entirely too difficult to work around.  However, as DK’s have a new resource system, I think an effective resource system could be devised that took into shielding done vs. energy available.  At least, its an interesting thought in my mind.

I’d like to thank Syrana for the lovely idea for a post.  While it was challenging, I had a lot of fun picking up and discarding different ideas.  I’ll try to think of something equally appropriate to gift you back with soon enough.

Have an idea?  A criticism of one of my mine?  I’d love to hear about it!

The Sordid Side of Pugs

So… Corrinna.  Remember, the cute fluffy little 40ish warrior.  Ummm, she grew up, a LOT.  She’s dinged 20 levels over the last couple of weeks and is not sitting pretty at 65.  I’m thinking another week will see her in Northrend.

I can’t take all the credit for her awesome growth.  Tourguide has been fabulous (I’ll post about it when I ding 80, promise!), and I’ve searched zones that I haven’t stuck my littlest toe into for years.  Having an epic mount at 40 helped as well, but contrary to common sense, I do not actually have any BoE leveling items.  However, the biggest boost I’ve noticed over the past 2 days, where I gained 5 levels in a combination of questing and those scary, awesome, fun, hideous PuG groups.

The up side is that I get tasty loot and I’m actually making money for the first time ever on Corrinna.  I’m also getting a ton of excellent experience, whether or not the dungeon actually gets completed.  And yesterday, I must have been cursed.  I queued up for, entered, and didn’t complete 5 separate instances.

Problem 1: DK Tanks

Oh yes, I’m blaming you hardcore.  For every DK tank in his sixties who is competent to actually tank in a dungeon, there appear to be fifty quadrillion freshly made death knights who are still so hopelessly confused following their mental scrubbing from the brainwashing of the Lich King that they are unable to understand simple concepts like AoE (icky diseases on the floor make monsters hate you!) and disease spreading (festering boils appearing on your enemies will make them hate you!)

Hear ye, hear ye, if you have any intention of making other people suffer through your initiation into tanking on a death knight, do us a favor, and at least take the time to learn a few basics such as hit all your targets, don’t stand on the healer, and my personal favorite, don’t pull more enemies than you can hold.  I understand that in terms of experience with your class, you’re a level two character, but if you’re not 100% sure what you’re abilites are for, sign up to DPS for the love of the Earth Mother!

*sigh*

Problem 2: Douche tanks (and the occasional healer)

Honestly, when I think of douches in parties, I usually associate it with some rogue who strokes his e-peen and links the meter after every trash pull.  However, not in the leveling PuGs, oh no… it is invariably a tank that thinks he is a god walking among mere mortals (feel free to insert she or goddess for either of those statements–I’m old fashioned, and all my pronouns are he–the message is the same).  Tanks getting huffy, tanks yelling at dps, tanks yelling at healers! If I ever yelled at a healer I would expect my name to mud and to never find another healer willing to tolerate me from now to eternity.

Now, I’m an arms warrior.  I’m not stellar dps, but I’m solid, reliable, don’t stand in the fire, and consistently show up in the same range as everyone else my level.  I’m happy with that.  However, yesterday, I spent more time tanking that I did dpsing.  In one instance I used mocking blow on every single pull because the tank did not seem to understand that when there is a pack of three mobs, you get all three mobs, and unless you (the tank) take some action on the other 2, they will head straight towards the healer or aoe-ing dps.  Another tank felt the urge to run headlong into rooms, not packs, rooms full of mobs and die a glorious death, leaving the dps and the healer to survive the aftermath.

And the healer (level 66), who had obviously shelved her priestess at the end of Molten Core and refused to cast anything other than Greater Heal.  In Blood Furnace.  With packs of incidiery bombs exploding on top of people.  And then proceeded to yell at everyone in the party that they sucked because they weren’t geared enough or were standing in the wrong spot OR something because her heals weren’t getting their fast enough.

*News flash* You have renew.  You have flash heal.  You have aoe healing.  You have bloody bubbles for crying out loud.  Greater heal is not the only option!!!!

Even better, however, was the healer who refused to cast a heal on anyone, including the tank, after a wipe that he blamed on the dps (we got aggro) because the tank couldn’t figure out how to target any mobs.  Even the one with the big white skull on its head.

In case you were wondering, the bandage technique for melee dps is not dead–I used it prodigiously over the course of the day.

Problem 3: People “helping”

Look, if you’re anything like me, I understand that you queued up for a dungeon for some quick experience, a chance at some shiny loot, and a break for killing another flock of eagles because Nesingwary thinks they’re reading his mind.  I get it.  What I don’t get is why you feel the need to spout advice to other players (especially wrong or inadequate advice).  I’m in my 60’s.  Other players are in their 60’s.  I don’t expect anyone to have mastered all the nuances of their class, as long as they fulfill their role and the dungeon gets through cleanly.

Anyone: Noob.

The most worthless word of all time ever uttered in a party.  If you don’t have anything nice or constructive, shut it.

Healer: You’re getting aggro alot.  Don’t you have thunderclap?

Me: Yes.

Healer: Use it.

Me:  I am.  It doesn’t reduce aggro.  [Thunderclap].  Warriors don’t have a de-aggro ability.

….

Yes, a real conversation.  If you want someone to take action, and you your main isn’t their class, then don’t offer specific class abilities to use.  Chances are, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Random DPS: [runs face first into a pack of mobs]

If the tank is pulling to slow for you, it’s because he’s probably learning the instance or isn’t comfortable with his pulling technique yet.  You pulling a pack of mobs on his behalf doesn’t speed up the process (oh look, another wipe, lovely!) nor make the tank any better at pulling.

I don’t expect random grouping with strangers to be the greatest experience of my life.  I just want to kill some monsters, efficiently if not quickly, grab my little loot bag and get back to my questing experience.  I would MUCH MUCH MUCH rather have a group of people who don’t say a word the entire raid instance and get through, then deal with any more drama (read “helping”) from a bunch of snobby alts who really, aren’t that awesome either.

Apparently these things come in waves.  My groups today were fine–the only time an instance wasn’t completed was when the tank popped in the door, said “not Mana Tombs again” and promptly dropped group–maybe, I’ll consider another handful before continuing the grinding bonanza which has seen me through so many alts, and is blessedly silent.

Holiday Barrage

While many bloggers were vacationing or spending a few days of quality family time others were busy beavers updating their blogs with all kinds of good information.

Since I fail at macros, I send all you hunters over to Track…Knowledge for a look at some class-specific choices.

Run a guild?  Officer?  How are you handling your orbs?  No, no, not those orbs–primordial saronite!  See how one guild master decides on a system for token items.  You can also read about views on performance based loot systems.

Update your gearing priorities for those new characters!  Priests — new 3.3 theorycrafting from BobTurkey– Part 4: Haste Rating Part5: Critical Rating Part 6: Summary Hunters — Jaedia’s ICC raiding loot list.  Warlock–Oath’s 3.3 Wish List.  Druid (bear)–BBB starter loot list; flowchart of awesome for balance druids at Strayegg.  This guy loves flowcharts, browse while you’re there!  Shamans–T10: Spending those emblems, good comments too.  And it has nothing do with gear lists, but mages, stop stacking crit already… k?

Haste, haste, and haste.  It’s a big issue, and one that healers –especially resto druids–are looking at with a critical eye.  Kae at Dreambound had some good numbers, and Bell did some thinking on the matter.  As she says, the post needs some work/revision, but it IS something to think about and the comments are worth a read on their own.

Oh yes, there’s more.  Learn your priority in the new LFG system with this handy flowchart from I Like Bubbles!  Had any druid tanks in the new lfg yet?  See how to have bear tankatude! (art)  I know many a player that hasn’t done any of the vanilla instances without a run-through, so there ARE things that players have to relearn as Lassirra discovered in Uldaman.  And for the raiders, a oh-not-so gentle reminder as to why this isn’t patchwerk.

While the holidays are (almost) officially over, some last minute holiday cheer!  Everyone loves quirky remakes of classic holiday carols, amiright?  And something to hold on to for next year (or another special holiday occasion) a lovely gift giving guide.

And because it’s almost not a Jaded Alt day without some mention of an addon–learn  how to see what addons you have on your screen over at NSUI.

Now it’s official, my feedreader is clean (yay!)  I hope you enjoy your reading, and even more importantly, enjoyed this holiday season.  Have a safe and happy New Year!

2009: Looking Back

This is a rather sentimental and introspective post about the rise and fall of a guild, and the journey that has brought me to Scarlet Crusade.  All those guild-oriented posts have had me thinking about how I could have managed my own guild experiences better, and what I’ve gained and lost through that experience.  Although my topic has nothing to do with the “form” for evaluating your 2009 gaming year, there is a year-end survey over at Blog Azeroth.

I started the new year in a great place in the game.  My main was Lyre, and I was a dedicated tank for a 25-man raiding guild, Insurrection.  I had talked all my friends into joining me there, and great times were had by any and all, but there were some concerns within the guild, most of which I was not privy to, but long talks with various officers and the GM led me to believe that a guild re-structure would take place before Ulduar to create a stronger raiding team.  A buddy of mine from my L70 raiding guild, Honor Bound, was the raid leader, and all seemed right with the world.

Then: the restructure.  The leadership had a guild meeting the day of the restructure.  The guild would be disbanded with two new guilds forming picking up the membership of the old.  The raiding portion of the guild would only take dedicated raiders, and any not previously selected would be invited to a social guild maintained by the alts of the raiding guild (or a non-raiding officer).  Drama ensued.  My friends, the raid leader myself all assumed that things would be peachy fine, and we wouldn’t be separated from anyone that we actually hung out with.  Invites go out, everyone is expect is there, except….  the raid leader (also the main tank).  I get on the horn.

Leadership — Oh, btw, we want you to main tank Lyre.

Me — *splutters* How can you just remove an officer type person without any notice expect no invite????

On our private channel, we are trying to figure out what to do.  We are aggrieved that our guild would do this to a fellow raider and friend.  Within the hour, we have un-guilded, gotten together and formed Social Darwinism.  Only one person wants to be the GM (another who was not selected for the new raiding guild) and I’m getting tells from various people concerned that he doesn’t show up often, and he’s not the greatest (frost mage anyone?) raider in the first place.  I volunteer to GM, the RL remains the RL and everyone agrees.  I am now stuck GM’ing a guild.

The plan: Recruit everyone we know.  Practice in Naxx.  Be ready to stomp Ulduar when it comes out.  Become a 25-man raiding guild.

The actuality: I made critical mistakes as a GM, and our guild failed before we completed Ulduar.

WTF happened?

I failed to realize how bad problems were with the raid leader in our previous guild.

While he often took part, and was designated raid leader, his actual power was severely curtailed by a strong officer core.  Add to that, the guild had reasons for not inviting him, which I ignored, namely, guild members were refusing to raid with him.  This would crop up again in our guild.

Officership fail

I picked officers who I knew were good at their classes, but whom did not have the time to commit to actually running a guild.  I tried to rectify this later, but I compounded the problem by not completely removing them from officer positions and instead increasing my officer core in order to salve bruised feelings.

To much democracy at the wrong time

Democracy in a guild can be a good thing, yet, there were times where I used it poorly in order to give everyone a voice.  While I knew that 25-man formation would be difficult, I allowed my members to dictate our resolve to be a 25-man raiding guild, which caused serious problems in recruitment and retainment and gave us a bad reputation as “not big enough.”

Insiders vs. Outsiders

Our raiding core was comprised primarily of raiders who did not get invited or chose not to accept a position with the new raiding guild.  Our initial recruitment cycle went very well, but our raiding core ended up being 2-3 “insiders” and 7-8 “outsiders” yet the leadership of the guild was primarily “insiders.”  Another GM fail.

Resolution of Complaints

Again, I have to take full credit for this — our raid leader was causing the same problems for us that he did for the previous guild — members were refusing to raid when he was leading.  If they knew I was taking the reins for the night, then I’d have a full roster, if not, then we’d be scraping barrel by our 2nd month in.  I took the problem to my officers (d’oh) who all decided to keep him.  When I knew he needed to be removed or benched, I should have done so.

The Final Straw

I took a vacation (3 weeks) following some pretty serious family health problems.  The raid leader blew up and left among cheers from the ranks.  Most of my guild members stayed because they didn’t wish to leave me hanging.  (A pat on the back for myself here–I garnered a lot of loyalty from most of my members)  When I did not resolve the Insider vs. Outsider problem upon my return, 3-4 of my most solid, dependable raiders left crippling the guild irrevocably.

All in all, our raiding guild lasted approximately 4 months.  If I had made some critical decisions quickly, decisivly, and without fear of hurt feelings, I’m sure we would be successfully raiding today.  Frankly, I know I’m a good manager, I knew decisions were being made poorly, but because I was a reluctant guild leader in a very progressive guild, I was clearly the wrong GM for the job.  If we had been a friends and family raiding guild, my choices would have been correct, but since the goal was to be a progressive raiding guild, I made the wrong choices for the type of guild, and the guild suffered for it.

After the core crumbled, I held several guild meetings in order to hold together or disperse the guild.  Some members went willingly, others not.  I finally told those left that I was rerolling on another server.  The guild bank was open for the most part, and most drifted away, some with nice gifts from the guild.  I rolled Windsoar on Scarlet Crusade and haven’t looked back since.

The reroll did me a lot of good personally and game-wise.  It gave me time to evaluate why I play and my priorities with friendships in the game.  We had friends reroll with us; however, I decided that I needed to play my characters however it made me happy, and not beholden myself to anyone, including in game friends, in terms of their needs for a guild.  When I moved Windsoar into a raiding guild, a couple we knew went back to Vek’nilash to raid — I talked to them beforehand, and they didn’t want to join the guild I selected — I think we’re both happy with our respective guild choices.

I’ve found a home and a community on Scarlet Crusade that fits me very well.  I don’t agonize if I can’t raid for the week, but I feel accomplished enough when I do raid, that I don’t feel that I’m wasting time by raiding.  I am slowly building my stable of characters again, and enjoying the leveling process (which I always have).

During this time, I decided to start a blog about WoW, not because I feel that I have a lot to share, but because I wanted to practice my writing skills, record my memories, and become involved in the larger community of WoW.  Like all new endeavors, I haven’t always made the best choices (ignore my snarky post please–no I’m not linking it–ignore it!) but all in all, I think I’ve done fairly well in getting my foot in the door and just getting started.  I enjoy the process, and it gives me yet another reason to stay involved in my game.

Trials and tribulations have followed me this year, but so have joy and new friendships.  What is the saying, without sorrow, there is no joy?  So has 2009 been for me–I hope your year has been as fruitful in gain, and rather less in loss–a time of learning and growth that I shall always remember.

LFG: PUG or Guild?

Having finally returned from my hiatus to discover a few hundred unread posts from various places I tended to browse rather than read.  However, one forum post tag caught my eye over at Plusheal “What good is a guild anymore?”  I’m gonna be honest and say I didn’t read the entire post, just the initial question, but I thought I’d take a stab at a response here, where my detractors will quietly smirk and wander away.

With the new Looking for Group tools and the ability to quickly gear up a toon, I am beginning to wonder why somone would need to be in a Guild anymore. Add in the increased availibility of Enchanting mats and the ability to buy pretty much any Enchant on a scroll in the Auction House and well, what are Guilds for nowadays?

The reason I am asking is that I am in a Guild that I am just not happy with anymore. It was a social Guild that ran good Raids (which is what I was interested in) and is now (thanks to some of the newer members) attempting to transform into a “hardcore raiding” Guild. Almost all of my friends have left and I keep finding excuses not to run with them. I am thinking of leaving and running without a Guild since right now I do not want the drama and see few reasons for belonging to one at all.

This is partly venting and partly an attempt to provide some discussion on what a Guild is for.

Thanks in advance!

Talexei – Bladefist

Do You Need a Guild?

Short answer: No.  Being guilded has never been a requirement to enjoy a whole bevy of activities within World of Warcraft.  Want to craft–buy your own mats.  Want to hang out and RP–start your own conversations in inns and around the city.  Want to kill baddies–whatcha waiting for?  There’s hundreds of them to choose from.  A guild is in no way shape or form a requirement.  While harder, it was possible to be pugged into guild raids in vanilla WoW, and it is so much easier now.

Long answer: It depends.  People join for a guild for a combination of factors, but the biggest two are

Companionship

While definitely possible without a tag, having a ready made group of companions makes guilding for social reasons very appealing.  You don’t have to be guilded to form bonds and friendships, but it often makes the process much easier.  Guilds have firm goals or niches that they cover in order to attract like-minded people, so instead of searching the entire realm for your type of people, you can have them pre-packaged and ready to consume *ahem* as it were.  Must be hungry, don’t know where that food analogy came from.

Progression

There are honestly two types of progression: personal (gear) progression, and boss kill (group) progression.  The first you can achieve on your own to a certain extent with badge gear and the like.  However, if you seek to have the very best gear in every slot, it becomes more and more difficult to accomplish this without a group of people helping you.  While you may luck into a few pieces in random groups, regular raiding schedules and times, that is part and parcel of many guild structures, will help you realize those goals faster.  The same applies for boss kill progression.  Heroics can be done with any number of random people with limited difficulty.  Some raids can be accomplished with minimal fuss; however, the longer the dungeon (Naxxramas, Ulduar) the less likely that you will be able to see the content as a PUG member.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.  Some very high-end guilds charge non-members for slots in order to fill their repair coffers, meaning a diligent and dedicated non-guilded person could conceivably see all the content without finding a guild.

Do You Want a Guild?

On this portion of the exam, I’m going to say, again, it depends.  Personally, I wouldn’t run around Azeroth without some kind of tag, but what type of guild I’m in may change from month to month or year to year.

I think the biggest detractor to joining and staying with a guild will always remain Drama!

However, the obvious question that follows this one is, “Do you experience less drama when non-guilded?”  In my experience that is simply not the case.  Yes, it is easier to just *sigh* and drop group, but that also means you are more likely to be spending time looking to do the things you want instead of actually doing them.

Let’s take heroics for an example. The new LFG system takes the burden off guilds to provide regular groups to field these often mal-aligned smaller dungeons.  While forming and joining groups is easier than ever, even in a heroic, the synergy between you and 4 friends (guildies or not) and 4 randomly pooled players is very different.  I often find myself doing a single dungeon just for my frost badges; however, when I’m partied with friends, we experience more — we work on achievements, we chain several instances together, and we get to chat, because, well, we know each other.

Why do I limit myself to a single dungeon?  Most nights its just not worth the aggravation of “fitting” in with a group, even for a short 15-25 minute run.  Will the tank go squish?  Will the dps stand in the fire?  Am I on auto-pilot and can chat with friends while running, or am I forced to ignore my /tells because I’m having to work my butt off?

Raids are infinitely worse.  Some random person is placed as your “leader.”  Yes, they clicked the little *Willing to Lead* option, but you don’t know them from the NPC who starts the quest.  Are they a good leader?  Do you trust their raid instructions?  Even worse, does everyone else?  For every successful awesome PUG raid I’ve had the pleasure to be the part of, their have been at least 10 that failed to form, or dissolved within 30 minutes.  Trying to coordinate follow-up raids to complete the dungeon are a logistical nightmare that most pug raid leaders are not willing to coordinate.

To Guild or Not to Guild

Why do you play Warcraft?  If it’s for progression, you’ll still want a good guild beside you.  If it’s for purely social reasons, a guild can be a boon, but is not a requirement.  If it’s for exploration, leveling (alting) or holiday achievements, it is irrelevant.  If you want to be a lone wolf with a few carefully selected people on your friends list that you keep in contact with–that’s your Warcraft, and enjoy!

For most, however, I think the guild experience helps shape their view and enjoyment of the game world–everything is better with friends after all.

Lower Spire: A Screenshot Story

Lord Morrowgar

Lady Deathwhisper

Spire Support

Bear Butt Rocket

Airship Battle

Atop the Spire

Deathbringer Saurfang

The Lower Spire Conquered

The Hero Is Returned

The Spire is Claimed

P.S. Sorry for the repeat on Morrowgar, but it wouldn’t have been complete otherwise.  And btw, I had a beautiful slideshow but WordPress apparently hates embedding.

Update

I know I tend to be a hypermanic updater so I didn’t want anyone to worry that I went on a mad drinking binge at the company party and didn’t make it back :P I will be out of town through Sunday visiting family so posting may or may not be at my normal rate :) We’ll just see how much “break-time” I need!

~Cheers

Saved Just for You

Somehow I’ve gotten in the habit of starring all those little articles that make me go hmmmm, and when I’m at a lack for words, I can kindly recycle them to you :)

So, in no particular order, some interesting reads from around the blog-o-sphere!

The only 3.3 article that I have brought myself to save (I’m still in “No!  I refuse spoilers!” mode atm) is this beautiful montage about a new quest line off the lusted for battered hilt.  The other interesting read about new changes, were anticipated changes to the armory.

As always, we like our surveys and questionnaries here’s a new one about… well… gamers.  Poor Death Goddess also caught syphilis =/  Tam really gets around!

Another great guide, this one on vanity pets.  And if you’ve ever been frustrated at a raider who doesn’t know what a combat log is or confused about how to set one up, look no further.  The last caught my interest–being one-half of a gaming couple, it was interesting to see someone else discuss how they felt about it.

Go say hello, and happy reading!

Where Tam Infects Me With Blogging Syphilis and I'm Forced Answer His Question

So I was reading about Tam’s case of syphilis (ewww, right?) and he kindly decided to share the bug =/  My assignment

I shall not let you escape me with a mere cow montage. So, given how much I enjoy the random adventures of your alts (even if they do involve condoning cow-slavery) – what’s your favourite zone to quest in, and why, and which zone(s) would you rather produce a cow montage than visit, and why?

And I thought–oh right… alts.  Ya, I used to write about those!

Let’s go to….

Dragonblight

I first ventured into Dragonblight as a young paladin, following the directions of my Tankua guide, I fought against the corruption that had overtaken a small village, and gradually worked my way to Wyrmrest Temple.  What can I say, I love dragons, and Dragonblight is all about it.  The Wrathgate cinematic had my jaw dropping and my little heart fluttering with nerdy excitement.  If you can’t find something you like–killing scourge, insane villagers, diseased animals, the Scarlet Onslaught or fishing up tasty dragonfish–I don’t even know where to tell you to go from here.

Eversong Woods

The Blood Elf starting area is just… perfect.  Before you travel to the Ghostlands or the Undercity, young adventurers have a firm grasp of their people’s struggle and purpose in the the world.  The Dead Scar is visible daily outside the still ravishingly beautiful home of Silvermoon, a portent reminder of the power of the Scourge.  The starter quests here are really exceptional, and the resources are plentiful for all those burgeoning traders to be!

The Plaguelands

All that I love is not beautiful, and the plaguelands is a perfect example.  Overrun, and dominated by the scourge, small resistance forces, most notably the Argent Dawn, can be found trying valiantly to reclaim the land.  Stratholme and Scholomance, one-time 10-man raids, can be found here, and for your book-readers, many of them are to be found in the massive library of Scholomance.  While the plaguelands can easily be a grind, it’s a satisfying one–killing undead in droves can be a fun and profitable experience–and wandering the destroyed city of Andor’hal is a flashback for older Warcraft fans.

Un’Goro Crater

At one time, Un’Goro was an important part of the post-60 gaming scene.  Devilsaur leather was a profitable business for a leatherworker, and all those crystal buffs were desirable for raid nights.  I spent many a night roaming the crater with my faithful lion Dusk talking to friends, and duoing the elites for valuable cash turning items.  Despite the many trips to and from Winterspring, not to mention a unfavorable death drinking a potion, the Linken quest was a great find for a major fan-girl of Zelda.

Netherstorm

Magical domes of awesome!  Seeing the land being gradually retaken and returned to a lush and vibrant world was just a remarkable feast for the eyes.  The fight to shut down the Manaforges, and the rank animosity to be found among the Scryers and Aldors was a wonderful interjection of the story into the daily grind of life.  Not to mention Tempest Keep, the best of the heroic dungeons in Northrend (at least I thought so :P)

I don’t have to go there do I?

Stranglethorn Vale

STV instantly brings to mind death–lots, and lots of death.  My very first character was rolled on a PvP server, and the constant ganking of Paks, my 36 paladin, caused me to abandon both her, and PvP servers forever.  When next I traveled to Stranglethorn, all I can remember is the constant running back and forth between the northern human base and the port of Booty Bay… on foot… past mobs 5 levels above me as I got closer to my destination.  Not to mention the unremitable grind of finding the last page of The Green Hills of Stranglethorn.  Drudgery from start to finish this zone.

Desolace

It’s desolate!  Quest poor, mob heavy, Desolace is a large zone map that requires more time than it deserves.  Another pre-mount area which I hated to step my little toe into, other than to get the flightpoint perhaps.  Maradoun does not improve the equation, being one of the most involved and complicated of the 5-man dungeons.  Oh, and did I mention the centaur grind?????

Silithus

I had high hopes for Silithus.  This is not a detractor for the opening of the AQ gates, which was just an awesome, awesome WoW moment.  It is about the zone itself–which is nothing but a desert with no quests, no purpose, and lots of poisonious mobs.  While the quest repertoire has improved, upon opening, Silithus had less than five quests, and was just another reputation grind.  For many, the only reason to even venture to this zone was for the infamous Sand Worm cooking recipe so they could reach 300 cooking skill and skedaddle to more beneficial and fun zones.  Not in my travel plans anytime soon.

Nagrand

Better known as Na-grind.  The only purpose of this zone seems to be to kill as many fuzzy animals as possible–oh, and some ogres too.  We need you to kill lots of ogres.  The chipper, healthy forest look of this zone is so incogruous with the rest of the Outlands, I felt like I had been dropped into a warp dimension.  Perhaps the floating islands were supposed to alleviate me of that fear?

Scholozar Basin

Oh look!  More fuzzy animal killing!  It seems the farther you travel, the more insane Nesingwary and his troop of animal killing enthusiasts become, with the Great Hunter’s Challenge being at least blatantly obvious that, why yes, we want you to grind fuzzy animals.  While the Oracle and Frenzyheart questlines are amusing to some, I found them tedious and annoying.  Gorlocs?  Seriously?

The Wide, Wide World

Now that I’ve gotten started, it’s actually hard to cut myself off.  Some zones I go to because I love a certain questline, and will put up with all kinds of hassle to be involved in it.  Others, despite one fatal flaw, are otherwise an enjoyable area.  I’m sure in my haste to have some kind of concrete, definitive answer I’ve forgotten some lovely or despised zone from the list.

And because I understand Tam’s righteous indignation over cow slavery–the dangers for those poor cow lasses….