Monday, February 28, 2011

Little of this and little of that, very little pvp...

Well, last week I was going to do a bit of Arathi Basin pvp this weeekend, but life got in the way.  Not to fear my friends, I was able to do about 4 battles on Sunday with my level 31 hunter alt.  I enjoyed it very much, probably because it was an alt and I am not too attached to him. 

One glaring item that I noticed about Arathi Basin was the speed of the game.  At level cap, Arathi Basin battles tend to go very quickly with players who know about the battlefield and the speed of the mounts.  At level 31, I still have a 60% speed mount and racing across the map to help defend a node is not as easy.  On one occasion, I left the blacksmith to ride over to the stables to help attack it.  By the time I got there, all 4 of my teammates had already been killed and I was left alone to get slaughtered by the defending team.  Playing at this level is like playing junior varsity sports for a school.  There never tends to be standouts at this level and the game play is much slower.

Although there is no resilience on the gear at level 31 from the Arathi Basin vendors located in the Arathi Highlands, there are a few pieces that may help you in the pvp experience and in questing.  I like the boots, such as the Defiler's Chain Grieves.  What I like most about these boots is the increase speed bonus ability to these boots.  It leaves you room for adding another enchant to the boots that you would like to boost stats, rather than adding a speed increase enchant.  The bonus speed is also helpful if you play a class without a speed boosting ability.  You may purchase these boots and others more appropriate for your class from either Rutherford Twing in Hammerfall for the Horde or from Samuel Hawke in Refuge Point.  Most of the goods can be obtained with only doing a few battlegrounds.  The xp is nice and bonus honor for winning it on a Call to Arms weekend make doing the occasional pvp battle worth your time.

Thank you for stopping by.

Time for me to listen to on of my favorite podcasts live, All Things Azeroth...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sometimes you just need a break...

I did not intend to go more than a day without a blog post, but it happens.  This week the kids are all home for February break and we had a lot of things that needed to get done.  We had a great time together and got this house looking great again for our friends to come over.  Sometimes you just run out of minutes in a day to get things done.

I had trouble sleeping 2 nights ago.  When this happens, generally I have too much on my mind and spend energy thinking about a variety of topics.  One thing that crossed my mind was about playing World of Warcraft.  February is basically my anniversary of playing WoW.  It has been 5 years since I began playing.  So much has changed in the game over these pass five years.  We have seen the release of 3 expansions.  I have played in several guilds and met many people who share the same passion for playing this game that I do.

Since January, I had been feeling a little fatigued with playing World of Warcraft.  Part of the issue was my frustration with my connection to the game, ie. disconnecting in the middle of boss fights and random dc's for several hours after that.  Another part was the feeling that I was doing this all over again; getting to level cap, run heroics for gear and start raiding.  Since I was too busy the last few days to really play WoW, I did not feel like I was caught in a routine of gaming.  Just like most anything in life, too much of it will make you like it less.  I love cheesecakes, but eating too much of it will make me feel sick and definitely add a few extra pounds I am not looking to gain.  I do understand now why people enjoy playing other games and then come back to WoW.  I looked at the time playing another game as taking away from my playing WoW.  It is not that at all.  In fact, doing something else with your free time, like riding a bike or playing UNO with the kids, allows me to come back to WoW feeling refreshed.

All I am saying is essentially... sometimes you just need a break in order to rekindle the passion that you have for doing what you love doing.

Funny things happen when you take a break too.  Blizzard released information regarding the 4.1 patch that should be released sometime soon.  Not only am I reinvigorated to play WoW, but now have more to look forward too.  Over the next few weeks, as information about patch 4.1 is released, I will provide some of my opinions on the changes will will be experiencing in game.

Have you ever taken a break from your gaming?  If so, how did it help you?

Thank you for stopping by to check out my long, strange pondering.

Time to gather up some kids and get them to bed...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WoW Raiding and getting ready for it...

When raiding, you are a part of a team seeking to accomplish a specific goal.  The goal in raiding is to generally work as a team to down as many bosses as possible in a raiding session.  As a member of that team, it is your responsibility to be ready for that raiding time period.  If you are new to raiding, you might be asking, what should I do to be ready for raid night?

First of all, you need to know how many nights per week you will be raiding and for how long each night.  My current raid team raids 2 to 3 nights per week for about 2 1/2 hours each night.  Generally this means I need to have enough raid supplies to last me for at most 8 hours per week.  If we raid less than that, well then I have supplies left over for the next week.  This amount of time is important to allow you to know what consumables you will need and their duration in order to properly be prepared for the evening.  You will want to make sure that you have the proper flasks, potions, and food for your raids to get the most out of  your toon.  I suggest that you look over the items yourself to determine what the best raid consumables would be for you in your situation.

Having the proper supplies is important, but preparing for the raid itself is more important.  I suggest using the experience of raiders from Tankspot to help guide you through encounters.  If you do not want to see the fight beforehand for personal reasons, the posts in the Tankspot forums can help you to understand the mechanics of the fight.  Even with watching the videos, it is not until you are engaging the bosses for yourself that you begin to learn the intricacies of your role in that fight.  For example, the videos show that Magmatron on the Omnitron Defense System fight will target a person for dealing a flame torch attack, but it takes me understand my character to know that I can help the healers out alot by casting Dispersion during this attack and negating 90% of the incoming damage.

Finally, as a team member, it is up to you to locate the best possible gear for your class and specialization.  I suggest using the GuildOx loot rankings.  It allows to to put in values for specific statistics found on gear to generate a list that you might find most useful to gearing up your character.  Once you generate a listing, then you can using the links on those items to find out where they are found in-game. 

What other things do you do to prepare yourself for a raid?

Thank you for stopping by today.

Time to chase down a board game for the little guy....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesdays, Gold, and How I play WoW....

Life can be pretty hectic with family, work and life in general.  World of Warcraft is a living game in which there is no stop and save point.  Sure, the server will save you at where you last exited and all your gear plus statistics will still be there when you log back on, but the rest of the gaming community on you toon's server will continue to play when you are away. 

My approach to playing WoW is that I need to have a purpose in order to play, or I will be wasting my time.  Sure there are days where I have the time to waste doing random things, but most of the time I am limited in what I can do in game.  There are three main reasons that I log in to play: to raid, to make gold, or to do some sort of social activity with my guildmates and friends.Three nights a week are set aside to raid with my guild.  This allows me plenty of other free game time to do as I please.

I usually use free time after the children are in bed to do things with guildies, such as running random heroics or doing battlegrounds right now.  If I have a few minutes in the morning, I tend to spend this time making gold.  Early morning is good for buying materials at a lower rate in order to craft something for sale later in the day. 

When purchasing items from the AH, I tend to look at it through a time/cost analysis.  If I feel that the items that I am purchasing are cheaper than the time it would take to gather the items, I would tend to purchase it.  For example, this weekend I purchased over 120 stacks of Whiptail for 45 gold per stack.  This was a deal because I can turn this 5 min purchase of 7,000 gold in herbs into 15,000 gold plus through Alchemy and Inscription.  If I were to gather herbs with my gatherer, it would easily take me several hours to gather the same amount of Whiptail.  The time saved by purchasing cheaply valued herbs we immense, since now I had the time available to focus on other aspects I enjoy more from the game.

Thank you for checking in...

Time for me to get back to the raid before my raid leader has a fit....

Monday, February 21, 2011

PvP and me...

Our guild has been steadily participating in pvp battlegrounds the past few weeks.  We are focusing on gathering gear before attempting to do more rated battlegrounds.  We have been having alot of fun doing these together in a group of 5.  We usually spend a few hours on the weekend taking on the alliance in the weekly Call to Arms.  Doing the weekly Call to Arms battleground will yield more honor points for your character.  It is a good way to gain experience in those battleground whlie gaining important honor point for pvp items.

This past weekend was the Call to Arms: Twin Peaks.  This is another 10 vs. 10 battleground where the objective is to capture the opponent's flag.  We affectionately call this one the "Hobbits" battleground with the Wildhammer Dwarf architecture being similar to the Shire from Lord of the Rings.  Both flags are held with a fort with 3 possible entrances and exits.  There is a main gate and 2 side entrances to the fort.  There is also a river that separates the two forts winding through the middle of the map.  One bridge is located at the middle of the battlefield over the river.

The objective is simple; capture the enemy flag and return it to your base's flag room.  You only score when you have the flag and the opposing team does not have the flag at the flag respawn location in your fort.  We had several matches yesterday that went in our favor.  The ones in which we dominated quickly were the result of the opponents attacking in small groups or as single targets.  Although one person is necessary for capturing the flag, a small group of players to support him are just as important.  Generally we had one of our healers follow the flag carrier with crowd controlling dps helping.  The healer's job was obviously to keep the flag carrier alive.  The dps was responsible for splitting up the attackers through various crowd control tactics.  For example, as a shadow priest, I would us Psychic Scream to scatter the attackers away from the flag carrier to allow him to move closer to our fort and away from their damage.  I would also target the strongest dps caster or healer and Silence them.  Followed by a Psychic Horror after that wears off.  This will help give us time to burn down attackers and thin their numbers.

Once we have secured our flag carrier, a few of us would join our attacking squad to kill their flag carrier.  Again, crowd control of the healers and strong dps were our first targets.  If the battlefield message that the "flag carriers have become vulnerable to attack" appears, we would switch to burning down the flag carrier while crowd controlling his support.  As soon as the flag is returned, we would capture it.

Overall, this is not a new battleground concept for World of Warcraft, but the map makes it a newer feel to the experience.  It is one we have been enjoying this weekend and look for to next week, which is Call to Arms: Arathi Basin.

Thank you for following this long, strange pvp post.

Time to go check on my auctions...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

I love Sundaes...

Really, I do!  My favorite is a hot fudge sundae with almost any kind of ice cream.

I think Sunday posts are going to be reserved for random topics related to World of Warcraft.  This week I want to discuss WoW and children.  I have 2 boys who both know about WoW.  The eldest child has been playing World of Warcraft for over a year now.  The younger is not old enough to read and write just yet, but he enjoys watching the cartoonish characters running around the computer.

I do not have a problem with children playing WoW, I just believe that it is up to the parents to set up the guidelines for playing.  Outside of the game, the child needs to be given a set of expectations in order to play any game.  For example, the child's priority is to do well in school.  If his grades are not where they should be, then no games until he can get those grades back up.  Some basic life skills are also necessary in order to play, like the ability to read and write.  I did not let my son play until he demonstrated to me that he could read consistently higher elementary reading materials.

Before allowing your child to play any game, the parents should also know the relative maturity level of the child.  I do not mean that the child needs to be ready for adulthood, but rather the child should be able to handle varying situations.  Some children are frightened easily by certain images or creatures you might find in the game.  My son discusses with me about the fantasy aspect of WoW and movies all the time, so I knew he would not have a problem seeing the Forsaken characters, for example. 

Mainly because WoW is such a rich fantasy world, my boys often ask questions about events in the game and can more readily relate them to the real world.  One question that came up was about why there were two factions.  The discussion moved along to some lore discussion about the Horde vs. the Alliance and why each side thought the way they did.  My son drew his own conclusion that it was similar to governments of different countries which unite for a common purpose.  (Bright kid.... and I am proud to say he gets it all from his Mom!)

In game, parents have as much control over what their children see as they want.  Blizzard provides an entire support section devoted to setting up parental controls.  Parents can set up limits on play time, chat in game, and even reports sent to the parent's email on play time.  As much as we would like to have the game keep our kids safe, it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure the child has a safe environment to play in.  We have talked many times about what is appropriate to talk about with other people in the game.  We also talked about the importance of not sharing important information that could get the account stolen, or worse.

Currently, my son is not playing much WoW.  He occasionally does low level pvp battles, but has focused his available playtime on Starcraft 2.  He saw several live stream games during Blizzcon last year and wanted to get the game.  We asked him how he planned on getting it.  On his own, he figured out how to save enough money and purchase the game by himself over the course of a few months.  I think this tells me enough that I need to know about his maturity and ability to play games at his age.

Thank you for checking out my Sundae with my kids edition of the long,strange blog...

Now its time for me to clean before the in-laws come for a visit...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturdays are for hanging out with my guildies...

The only structured activity that my guild currently does is raiding during the week.  This leaves my weekends free.  I like this since it allows me to spend time with the family and get some things done that I do not have time for during the week.

When I do play WoW on the weekends, it generally becomes a time to hang out with fellow guildmates and do other things in game.  A few weeks ago we decided to throw a team together for 10v10 rated battelgrounds.  This feature of doing battlegrounds is new for WoW with the release of Cataclysm.  I have never been a huge fan of doing arena and regular battlegrounds.  I do enjoy watching them done as some places stream them or show videos of them.  I agree with several people in the community that a view match feature, such as they have in Starcraft 2 would be fun.  I do not know the limitations on the engine or the bandwidth this might eat up while viewing, but it would be a good addition to the game.

My fellow guildies and I spent a few hours doing rated battlegrounds.  Although we lacked the proper pvp gear and knowledge of working together in a pvp environment, we had an absolute blast playing.  The chatting and laughter heard on vent was about the most fun in WoW that I have heard us have in quite some time.  We only won one match on the evening, but it was a fun bonding experience.  I am sure we will be doing this again soon.

I suggest that if you begin doing pvp in any capacity, you should begin by looking at crafted pvp blue gear that has several pieces of resilience items for you to use.  Also, you will need to exercise a bit of patience while gaining honor points for better gear from the pvp vendors.  Currently, resilience as a stat is quite powerful in keeping you alive longer during pvp encounters.  Once you pick up a few pieces of pvp vendor gear, you will find your survivability increase dramatically in battlegrounds. 

Thank you for stopping by, see you soon.

Time for me to go reset my hearthstone...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The WoW Community Spotlight

One of the things that I appreciate the most is the large and vibrant community that has developed around playing World of Warcraft.  Each Thursday I plan on sharing some aspect of that community that I have enjoyed being a part of over the past few years.

I think I should start by pointing out some great informational websites that can help players of all levels learn about WoW and what is happening in game...

  • The official World of Warcraft community site has been updated with the launch of Cataclysm to provide a variety of media from Blizzard and its community members about the game itself. 
  • If you are looking for a good collection of information from in game and beyond, I suggest looking at WoWpedia.  In their own words, "Wowpedia is a wiki dedicated to cataloging Blizzard Entertainment's Warcraft universe (with a focus on World of Warcraft), covering the entire Warcraft series of games, RPG reference books, strategy guides, novels and other sources."  (source; Wowpedia's main page description) 
  •  MMO-Champion has become one of the premiere news and information sources for in game changes and posts from Blizzard regarding their games.
  • I enjoy reading WoW Insider for the daily articles about varying interests regarding World of Warcraft.  The staff at WoW Insider shares their passion and the news about this game.  In their own words, "WoW Insider is Azeroth’s largest blog and information site, covering the latest news, analysis and opinion from all around the World of Warcraft."  (source, WoW Insider's about page)
  • Finally, I wanted to mention Wowhead which serves as a virtual library for all information regarding items, quests, npc's, maps, and more.  This is a valuable resource that can help any player find more information about anything they come across in the game.
If you have not checked out any of the sites above for information regarding World of Warcraft, I suggest that you give them a try.  I hope that these help you out.

If you have any other suggestions about any general information related WoW websites that you know of, let us know in the comments below.

Thank you again for taking another look at this not so long, nor strange post.

Time for me to go gather a few herbs for my raid flasks before the raid this time...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday is Raid Night...

For years now, it seems that Wednesdays have become raid night in my guild.  Other days have always shifted, but Wednesdays seem to be a sure fire bet for raiding.  Currently my guild has 2 dedicated 10 man raiding teams.  We are currently trying to fill out a 3rd 10 man raid team.  If interested in looking at the 3rd team, check out the Forged in Blood website and drop the officers an application.  I am not an officer and I do not know what the needs are on the team, but it never hurts to promote it.

Guilds have varying opinions on how to tackle the current raid content, whether as a 25 man raid or several 10 man groups.  In my opinion, it depends on the size of the guild, the longevity of its existence, and the prevalent culture within the guild.  Overall, Forged in Blood is a casual raiding guild, which fits my life just fine.  Forged in Blood allows the raid leaders to develop their own raiding times and direction for progressing through content.  We have only started raiding within the last few weeks to allow everyone sufficient time to enjoy the expansion and the holiday season.

We definitely have the numbers to put together a 25 man raiding team, but with the nature of a casual raiding guild we do not have all 25 online at any given night for raiding.  The officers and the guildmaster met several times prior to the release of Cataclysm to decide on what we should do about raiding.  I am not privy to the details of the decision other than the fact that we decided to focus progression in 10 man teams.  I personally like 10 man teams mainly because of the feeling that its like having a small party to accomplish a common goal.  Its fun and personal.  Having 2 teams also opens up a healthy competition for boss kills between them.  We are fortunate in that we have a lot of friendships that developed in the guild which transcends the raiding teams.  I have raided with several people on all 3 teams and cheer for them to down bosses... after my team does of course, wink wink.

I am proud of our raid teams and the progress we have made in such a short amount of time.  In the first 2 weeks of raiding the guild only downed 2 bosses.  Last week became a breakout week for us as both teams combined to take down 6 bosses.  I look forward to what we can do this week because we have already taken down 4 bosses in 2 hours of raiding last night.  It seems we are starting to hit our stride in raiding again after taking months off from doing progression.

Thanks for checking out my blog.

Time for me to chase some kids into pajamas, so I can make my raid on time....

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tuesday is for Gold Making...

When I began my journey through WoW several years ago, I had no idea about how to make gold in World of Warcraft.  Like a majority of people beginning in this MMO, I would just grind quests and kill mobs for coin and the occasional valuable rare drop.  My first few years would find me always having just enough gold to purchase the things that I needed in order to raid, but not much else. 

I found out about the Auction House late in the BC expansion (yeah, admitted noob there).  See, playing WoW is my first experience in an MMO and I spent the better part of the first 2 years playing it like a console video game, only now on my computer.  My experience in playing console games overall were that they are predictable and not much social interaction is needed to play those.  Of course, much has changed in the console market over the past 4 years allowing for more interactive game play between people.  I grew up playing Sega Genesis, Atari, Colecovison, and other game systems that did not require other people to have a gaming experience.  (Thinking about this makes me realize how long I have been playing games...) 

Anyways, tangents aside, I treated the Auction House for the next 18 months or so as a vendor for the items I farmed in game.  So I always had the gold I needed, but after every time I would purchase another epic flight for another toon, I would be out of gold and need to go back farming again.  A little over a year ago, I saw a friend of mine on a Traveler's Tundra Mammoth .  I thought it was the neatest thing ever, a multiperson mount that had vendors attached to it.  I was thinking of how awesome it would be to have when I go farming instances (still thinking small at this point...).   So I asked my friend how he got the 18,000 gold for this mount.  He said one word, "Professions." 

Needless to say I was confused.  I always had my enchanting and tailoring, but never thought about using any of it to make money.  (I can see the faces of people reading this now -- LOL it is so obvious noob console gamer guy)  I knew I never had that much gold in game ever, so something needed to change in how I played this game.  It was obvious to me that other people could make gold in game legally, but I needed to find out how.  I began to search tirelessly on the internet for blogs, sites, and forums on how to make gold. 

One of the first places I found with regular updates and a common sense approach to gold making, was from Markco over at Just My Two Copper.  Markco provided daily blog post updates that appealed to someone like me who was looking for ideas.  Soon after I started following JMTC, Markco expanded his ideas for developing something more than just a blog about gold, he began setting in motion the development of a gold making community on the JMTC Forums.  Now the forums have well over 5,000 topics compiled over the past few years on everything from farming to Auction House to speculation.  Many of the forum contributors are active on their own servers in doing the things that they speak about on these forums.

Markco's blog and the forums were not the only places he wanted to reach an audience.  He has been a part of several podcasts, such as Call to Auction and Castaclysm.  Although these podcasts may not be currently active, there is wisdom and plenty of entertainment in them.  The socialization of the gold making community is leading us into more avenues for learning about making gold in WoW.  I would like to leave you today with a list of links to blogs and podcasts about gold making that I follow regularly to get information:

 Again, these are not the only wow gold making blogs and sites out there, but these are the ones that I follow.  I am always looking for more great places to find information on the web.  Tell me in the comments below about what your favorite gold making blog/site is.

Thank you for checking out this Long, Strange Post today....

Time for me to go deal with some Zombies on my Lawn....

Monday, February 14, 2011

What long, strange game?

About 5 years ago, a friend introduced me to World of Warcraft.  I have been playing since just after the launch of  the Burning Crusade and decided that it was time to share my experiences on this game that has been a part of my life for 5 years and counting.  Of course, there already exists a multitude of wow-related blogs and information sites out on the web.  Over time, I hope to share with you the many aspects of this social game and its community that have had a place in my life.

Originally, this blog was going to have a focus on a particular aspect of WoW, but instead I decided to include a variety of topics for discussion.  As with most things, I have found that I am not a master in anything, but tend to be good at doing alot of things.  I plan on posting on a variety of WoW topics, including news, experiences in game, raiding, a little pvp, gold making, WoW and family, as well as other ideas that I feel need to be discussed.

 I try to stay active in the WoW community and will post as often as life permits.  Working, raising a family, and playing games all have their priorities in my life.  I look forward to sharing my WoW with all of you.

See you around Azeroth!