Altaholism strikes again

The thing about alcohol and drug addiction is that it's about escaping from yourself. Maybe you want to be a version of yourself that doesn't think so hard or worry so much. Or maybe you want to be a version of yourself that thinks they're really REALLY funny.
Or, you know, just oblivion.

Fact of the matter is my Real Life™ hasn't been very pleasant for a little while. Basically my worklife has been very busy and very stressful. Which made it seem really weird that I would want to play Warcraft in the limited spare time that I had.

Because there's a real work-like quality to WoW. Go here. Do this. Do that 40 times and come all the way back so that you can head off to do it again to a slightly differently named gnoll.

Yet somehow it's soothing.

I think part of it is just clarity. I've been saying at work (to anyone who'd listen) that any one thing would be fine it's just the whole everything at once effect that makes it suck. In Azeroth everything can wait. You can choose your mission. Do some or all of it. Stop if you want. It's all about freedom of choice.

So I rolled a new alt.
I had been wanting a BloodElf because I haven't played one. I also wanted to start a warrior to be the Tank that balances Gawdbovver the healer. My plan is to pug up all the instances. Especially now we have the new Dungeon Finder thing.

What I didn't know was that Belfs don't Warrior. So what did I do? I could have gone with my second choice class and Rogued it up. But no. I went all the way back to beginning and popped up a brand new Tauren.

Oh and it was so soothing. Back in Mulgore it was like being wrapped in swaddling and loved by the mobs. The association of my earliest WoW experience and the newness of a whole new class was just... therapeutic.

And I finally found a use for the Thunder Bluff Zeppelin. A quick hop to Ogrimmar. Onwards to the Undercity and then through the portal and I'm the tallest noob in Eversong Woods

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In It For The Money

I swear I never even looked at that pig. Even so it got me pretty sick about a week ago.
A week before that I got a light touch and took the day off. That was an easy Warcraft day. Sweet. By the weekend I was in bits. couldn't even concentrate enough to level.
I don't know about anybody else but when I get feverish it all feels very cyclical. Like waves coming and going and coming. And going. and coming.
So spell rotation just makes it worse. Pyrolast, scorch, fireball... hurk.
So there I am with four whole days where I have time to play but can't bring myself to do it. Torture.
There was only one possible solution.
Well, two... but staying in bed and admitting defeat wasn't going to be it.
No the only sensible thing to do was to finally upgrade from AuctionLite to Auctioneer. Still cyclical to some extent but a 20 minute scan cycle is much easier to deal with.

So everything changes. It's a whole new ball game. I'm a babe in the woods again, of course, but At least I'm on the playing field.

My best thing at the moment is disenchanting. I scan for things that should disenchant for materials worth at least a gold more than the sale price and scoop them all up. There're heaps. Pretty much all the time. In fact I've upped the minimum profit to 2g just to reduce the traffic.
Weirdly people also sell stuff cheaper than vendor prices. The only justification I can think of is that they just want to empty their bags and they're already doing other auctions. Or they're morons. Whatever.

Now proper AH players measure they're profits in hundreds or even thousands of gold per hour. However as they say IRL the first million is always the hardest. You totally need capital.

My first couple of days I was totally broke. After about a week I had about as much money as I started with. But that's where the whole thing really kicked off because what I did have as profit was an enormous AH list of things for sale. Grexel is now raking it in.

Gawdbovver is my priest on the Alliance side and he isn't doing quite as well. The main reason for that is that he doesn't disenchant... instead he sends stuff to Katyana so that she can shard it. I suppose I could ask her to send cash back but it works out better as a way of keeping her sweet when I want to do auction scans last thing at night.

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Time To Kill

Haven't posted in weeks. I am a bad noob.
The post below was hastily scrawled out a while ago now and then left to fester in the drafts folder.
Due to the journal-like aspect of this project I will include it here anyway.

More soon.

Meanwhile Katyana and I have been rocking on up through the content. We've alpha-dogged Shadow Fang Keep which I love for its shape and layout. Gathered many sparklies from whatever the underwater one is. We've baconaised our way through Razorfen Kraul.

Finally we got through the Scarlet Monastery Library as well. We'd gotten pretty sick of it and wandered away. Then the other night we had a only a little bit of time so I thought we could run it through before bedtime. Turned out we could do that and the Armory as well. Glad to put it behind us. We'll probably do the last bit some other time when we haven't got long.

At the other end of the spectrum we're exploring Uldaman. We've covered a few bits but it is quite huge and we keep running out of time. I admit I've googled some of it and I don't believe we'll be able to finish it as a two-some; Katyana remains unwilling to search for groups. I will be patient. The game has successfully taken her to every other step. It can only be matter of time.

Did I mention she's auctioneering now? I downloaded AuctionLite for her and she's making her own money and buying her own mats. We both spent all our money the last time we played on AH fees and speculative trades.

Hopefully when we get back online we'll be rich.

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Blame The Healer

Another day, another Pick-up Group. That's not exactly the way it was. I finally got the time together and logged into the Looking For Group Channel. I ticked that I could offer healing because, well, I did last time.

Not long later I was invited to a run heading into the Hellfire Ramparts. Ramps. I even had a quest for it. Rock on.

Now in a perfect world I should be playing to my Boomkin spec strengths and observing a proper healer at work. At least for my first time into the instance, right?

But no. Seems like there's never a healer around when you need one. So rather than sit around I offered to do it.

And I went ok. The tank learnt pretty quick not to run in too hastily and we made it to through to the last boss. In fact I got the achievement for the instance but I still needed the bloke riding the dragon for my quest.

Unfortunately, by this time the group was falling apart. My server tends to the Australian so they're a good few hours ahead. Second time the boss wiped us it was just me and the Group Leader.

DK - I can tank it but we need at least a DPS
Me - I can DPS but then we need healz

In the end we reformed a whole team. Enough, in fact, to reset the instance and run it again. This time we had a good high level tank who was clearly very experienced and helpful. Bugger it if he didn't disconnect and then log on long enough to apologize for his computer.

So we ended up four-manning the same last boss. We wiped. I couldn't stay alive. And I couldn't keep the tank alive.

From a personal development point of view, I suppose, it was good: I had actually learnt enough about what I was doing to completely understand that... well... I just didn't have the healz to pull us through.

I could tell the GL (now tanking) was getting frustrated. Everybody kind of wandered away after the second wipe. They didn't say anything direct but I know that blaming the healer is common phenomenon.

And if it happens when it's unjustified, you can bet your last murlock it happens when the healer really is at fault. Oh and I accidentally rolled on a piece of plate and won it. I really was *that* guy.

I will be addressing this two ways: I'm leveling a proper healer. A Dranei priest. As soon as he hits 20 I'll be running every instance I can get my paws on.

And for my Druid, it seems if I want to run instances I need to be ready to heal. I'm not ready to give up my spec. So I'll need another. That's 1000g for dual spec that I need. AH here I come.

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I'm Flying!

Okay, so I totally noobed it.

I had been fiddling around trying to tidy up some quest chains before I headed off into Outland. Having bought Burning Crusade a fortnight ago that's a little sad but I do now have the Boomerang of Nintendo and I've done some obligatory smiting of the Plaguelands.

I also started a Dranei Priest (called GawdBovver) so I felt like I was getting my money's worth and Katyana and will still only be in Vanilla for a little while yet.

My guild leader was gently needling me to get out there though. So I wrapped up some Plaguery, deleted some quests from Sithilis and hopped in the Portal from the Undercity.

Then I proudly announced in Guild Chat that I had 'made it!'

The attentive will spot my deliberate error. I was in Silvermoon City. Which was awesome and I hadn't been there before and you couldn't use the Portal until you bought BC so this *must* be Outland, right?


Alekto (the GM) kindly zipped in and showed me the *other* portal and escorted me through the other-other portal.

Alekto: Can you see the Portal now now?
Me: Is it behind the enormous glowing green thing?

And holy mother of jehosephat, it's AWESOME.
I had, like, half a level to go before I was 60 but by the time I'd done all the meet'n'greet quests I only needed to sideswipe a Bloodletter Orc and I was golden.

All the talk of better gear was true as well. No more prevaricating over whether to wear that hat that's good for spells or the helmet that's good for keeping your head it one piece. Go with the awesome spellcasting helmet of doom. Obviously.

And as advertised, I can fly. I honestly couldn't have imagined what a game changer this is. I finally understand why people complain about leveling. Being mounted is one thing but once you've swooped into a quest and swooped out again there's no going back.

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The Temple Has Been Sinking

Now for another installment of Things I Should Have Done Sooner! I finally played a pick-up group. I know, right? It's only, like, the core of the game.

Basically my problem is I've been far too desperate to come across well. Not to ruin the instance for everybody. To not be That Guy.

The main issue being time. The other times I've tried to do this I've ended up standing around a meeting stone for all the time I had available and then having to apologize and leave. Mortifying. That problem is made worse because I had literally no idea how long it would take to do a run. An hour? Four? Several play sessions over multiple days? Who can say.

On the other-hand I'm resistant to the whole 'know the fights' mentality. I mean I get it and I understand the time and place for it but I want to treasure the exploration and the surprise value of the unknown.

So anyway, eventually the number of quest lines leading down below the Swamp of Sorrows just became too much and Katyana and our house guest went off to watch Culture (hoik-pitu). I knew I had the evening to myself and a group presented itself on the LFG channel.

I leapt into action, pausing on the way to buy wildberries so I could cast my group druid buff. The gang came together and we went in.

Now it wasn't a complete success. I got more or less drafted into healing. That's what I think will end up as my natural role and everything but it felt like a lot of responsibility straight out of the gate. There were a couple of Paladins there as well so they chipped in a bit from time to time.

Cards on the table, we didn't finish. We got a bit stuck when the dragon above wouldn't wake up. Nobody seemed to know what was going on and we did a bit of aimless wandering. Then our tank (and clearly the most experienced player) succumbed to either tiredness or tedium (it's pretty damn late for the Aussies when it's 10pm in Hong Kong) and the whole thing kinda fell apart.

We tried jumping through a hole in the floor into water which turned out to be inches deep. We tried a bunch of silly stuff but we knew it was all over.

Maybe it's just me, or maybe it's a product of all the content being new but I still call that a success. Having two-personned a bunch of stuff with Katyana it seems weird to me tha people would rather stand around or abandon completely rather than give it a shot with whoever's available.

Anyway, I had fun. I got my feet wet (in more ways than one) and I feel much more competent to try it again. Win.

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Tastes Like Burning

Obviously, I'm an altaholic. There's a pretty good argument to be made that I'm also to grown up and tied down to get any serious WoW play done. I've been playing since April and my highest character is right now at 58 ½. That includes a full three month recruit-a-friend at triple experience rate (Mumphred is 43)

I like playing different characters, classes and races. If no-one was listening and it was safe to do so I might admit to enjoying being on both factions as well. Nevertheless it was inevitable that I would eventually get to the point of needing an expansion to continue.

Seems like another opportunity to write to my future self.

Hello You (Me),

Just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I'm about to embark on The Burning Crusade.

It probably seems strange to you now but I am not really sure how good it could be. I hear really good things. I get the impression that Blizzard are faintly embarrassed by Vanilla WoW, like it's the dodgy fan-fic they wrote before they got published. Or the demo tape recorded in their mother's basement.

Even so, from here, it seems like a new continent and more quests just seems like continuation. Don't get me wrong; I like what I'm playing now. Maybe it's peaking a bit in terms of industrial NPC packing processing and looting. But there's always something new around the corner. Different levels of play.

I'm doing fine, thanks for asking. My Auction House work is coming along. Got plenty of cash on both sides of the faction barrier now. Little bit less on the Alliance but everybody gets what they want. I believe I am on pretty good track to fly around Outland when I get there. Maybe I wont even need it. A druid should get flight form, right?

Tell me, Future Self, are you enjoying your Blood Elf Rogue? How is the Dranae Inscriber coming along? Making money?
I have to ask, did my message reach you at exactly the moment before you upgrade to Wrath of the Lich King? I hope so because that puts you in a similar position to the one I find myself in now.

Do you think the changes will be the same? More so?
What can you tell me without spoilers?

See you in the future,

Me (You)

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Everybody Gets A Horsey Day

Technically, I suppose, it was more like a week but I got quite a bit done on Saturday. The main one was Grexel who's zhevra has burning a hole in her bank bags for some time. In the mean time it seemed only fair to ding Undabridge (troll hunter) even though he has been neglected to the point of abuse.

I kinda liked doing it all on Pirate day. That was fun. And apparently there's a dress up your mount thingy as part of Brewfest.

The other thing I did on Saturday was indoctrinate a new player.

We are up to houseguest number 2. It's not that our primary houseguest shows no interest it's more that her Warcraft is an indulgent, eye-rolling vicarious thing. HG2 just wants in.

So while Katyana was otherwise engaged we rolled up a new character on her account to test. HG2 wanted a redheaded human female mage as well. What is it with the people I know? Katyana says she can't relate to a non-human toon. It might be a matter of the tendencies of people new to gaming in general.

10 Let HG2 = fifipi
20 continue

I set fifipi going on the wolf/kobold slaughtering missions and helped her get a hang of the controls. Then I set up a new priest to hang out with her. It's because I secretly want to be Tamarind.
There's another new player in our village. He's noobing around with a nelf as far as I can tell. We may have the makings of a local guild on our hands.

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Things To Do In Sithilis When You're Dead

My Ravasaur is all grown up. Big enough to carry a Tauren and not look daft. I never really bonded with my Epic Kodo. It's the eyes. They look like evil robots. Not that I have anything against evil robots, your Governatorship, they just lack personality.

Katyana was a bit the same way about the swift mounts. They're all a bit warlike. Maybe we need to get her that monster cat the alliance side can grind out. Mumphred's got his charger.

Only poor Grexel's left behind. She's got the Zhevra in her bank but she hasn't quite managed to squeeze out Lvl40.

I keep meaning to take her out but Paronymous is too happy swooping around the insect hives on his new beastie.

And the spice! We must control the spice!

Sithilis, if you don't know, has little geysers of magic dust. Both factions are in a race of some kind to gather 200 units of it. The current score on Saurfang is Horde 38 Alliance 37. I dropped in two this morning.

My first shot at it was rife with every possible nooishness you can imagine.

The aim is to carry the dust back to a special collection point, glowing as you go and slowed down to make you vulnerable. So the first thing I did when I found some was hop on my sweet new ride. Uh-uhn. Mounting up drops the spice.

Then I hurried back to Cenarion Hold to find the depot; Cenarian Hold is not the depot. The depot is actually marked on the map big enough to be seen from space but being new to the region I hadn't explored down that far.

All the while I'm jumping out of my skin because I assume the full force of the Alliance is about to fall on me for gathering another 200th of their doom. They didn't. A Tauren Death Knight (first one of those I've seen) whispered me to help and grouped up with me so I'd know where to go.

He rescued me a bit too because I picked up a whole bunch of sandworms on the way. Fortunately he got there while I was still putting up a good fight so I didn't feel too much like a dweeb. Then just when it looked like I was going to get away with it I totally failed to find the machine to hand it in. I just ran around trying stuff and getting increasingly mortified until he took pity on me again.

The only way I can think of to atone for this noobishness is to collect as much spice as I can.
For the Horde.

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Rain Stopped Play

There's that Monastery again. Doesn't it just look like it should have lightning behind it? By a remarkable coincidence that is exactly how our second attempt went south.

We went in pretty fast but we got a bit messy and picked up too many Scarlet Chaplains. Razzinfrazzin healer frazzers. So we did the corpse run a Lo! Every monk in the place had been replaced by a replica of itself only alive again.

Then we tried a new strategy. Basically less area effect from Katyana and more focused extermination one at a time. This may well be a blazingly obvious truism to non-Noobs but it made a massive difference to us. Kind of like pacing for a long haul up a hill rather than sprinting at it and hoping to make the top before having a heart attack.

Anyway it worked well and we were happy to have figured it out for ourselves. Our houseguest told us that the average UK couple says around 800 words per day to each other, so we were feeling pretty smug about that too. Even if around 4000 of ours were variations on 'Fireblasting now!' and 'I get him'.

But all the while a storm was brewing.

Hong Kong has some mad electrical storms. The humidity gets so high that you can see it hanging in the air. The moment the temperature drops, say, by night falling, it all comes tumbling down.

For a while it was awesome. Dark red skies. Background thunder. Brilliant flashes of light. The dogs going mental.

But then I pull a couple of Monks and a Diviner and start my routine but Katyana doesn't help. Instead she says 'Are you ready?'

On her screen nothing's happening.
On mine the fight is kind of moot because everybody is doing the half cast spell dance.


Fortunately all the technology is okay but we couldn't face going in again. We had a little look in the Graveyard and it was a doddle so we just romped through it. The other fortunate thing was that we had already picked up the book for Katyana's mage quest so we were able to trundle back to Tabetha and hand that in.

We'll close this damn Monastery. Just not quite yet.

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Little Less QQonversation

I have noticed two things: Firstly that my blogs have been developing a kind of moaning quality and secondly that I don't think I ever get to play WoW at the moment.

Now the QQ is under my control and I can just stop doing it. The other turns out to be somewhat illusory. I suppose its a symptom of not being able to play as much as I would like. Nor, in fact, as Katyana would like; her schedule is pretty extreme too.

Digging through my screenshots, though, reveals that we have covered quite a bit of ground. Not the kind of speed that would, say, get us up to 60 in the recruit-a-friend period but that's not really what we're after. Personally I am perfectly happy to wallow around in Old World content as long as it lasts and Katyana would rather follow me than have to read the map (ooh snap)

Our main goal has been the Mage Quests for an uber wand from Tabetha of the swamp. It's clearly designed to get you travelling and it's done just that. Got some pretty mad hats along the way. We've been all over and we're nearly there. Just a book of some sort... should be simple enough.

Funnily enough, the only thing I could remember us doing for sure is the thing I haven't got pictures of. Fortunately (sort of) we will have to return to the Scarlet Monastery in a level or two.

We were more or less up to the Library as a challenge it's just a little slower with two. Turns out the refresh rate in there is a killer. I had been merrily telling Katyana that they won't be back unless we leave and come back tomorrow. Totally erroneous. I have since taken the trouble to look this up and discovered that it's usually two hours but that SM is particularly fast.

We had to give up after the 3rd time around nuking our way through the same damn monks. The other thing that's much harder with two is rejoining each other if one of you dies and the bastards have respawned in between you.

Anyway it was fun and we got good at what we were doing but we need either more pew pew or a helping hand.

Also amongst all this I've managed to keep up my daily (almost; missed a couple) so my Venomhide is growing up big and strong. Should get that by the weekend. Hooray.

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Daily Dose

So Noobcon came and went. I didn't quite make all of my goals but I am, at least keeping up with my Daily. That's in the singular. I'm babysitting a raptor hatchling to get the new Venomhide Epic Mount.

I've heard a lot about the Daily Quests and I've had a little taste of it before with the Midsummer Festival but now I feel the pull of yet another hook that Blizzard has sunk into my unsuspecting maw.

They are a funny old thing. When hearing about Dailies previously I always thought of them with mild disdain. Like grinding and farming. And there's a lot of truth to that. The quest that I'm doing picks one of, I think, four hunter gatherer quests in the Un'Goro/Tanaris region and only lets you do one every 24hours.

It's a marvellous scam, when you think about it; they spend all this effort creating an environment so that I want to play and then cut me off. And how do react? Ever more obsessively. Maybe it's because it's only for a short time but I need to do this 20 times. If I manage to do it every day it will at least occupy a month. That's my Blizzard fees for at least one more billing cycle.

Now I wouldn't pay Blizzard (or anyone else) for a new mount. Yet somehow, the logic of it says that I will have. Especially at the moment when I have so little time to play. It keeps me coming back for my fix. This morning I got an achievement just for not missing any.

I've pretty much finished Un'Goro crater too. That's going to make it awkward.

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My Own Personal Blizzcon

Last week was mental.
I am now in Singapore in a hotel function room with free wi-fi.
I have no idea how I got here.

Okay, that's not strictly true.

In fact I had sufficient warning that I would be here this week that I was able to bring Katyana (or Taipeng, when she wears plate) for the weekend before the work started. Which meant that we could visit the sights and sounds of Singapore. Or we could sneak into the wi-fi room and play WoW in air-conditioning.

We have discussed it and it may be our nerdiest behavior to date.

It really started when I had to have a production meeting so she was left in the room killing time and, as it turned out, Leper Gnomes. Something in the ether has shifted. My wife is now far less concerned about being seen as geeky than I am. She claims that it is because she is far cooler than me to begin with and has the confidence that some remains. I think it is because she is feeling the call of the free kudos that gamer girls get.

So it's not Anaheim. And it's not Cataclysmic (apart from the curried crab effect from Saturday) but it is a lot of time this week in a hotel room with hi-speed broadband.

My initial plan was to gear myself up the new horde mount while I was here and call it my noobcon premium. Turns out you have to feed the little sucker up to the tune of 20 dailies. I'll have to settle for getting a good jump on it.

The other thing I'd like to do is get Grexel (my mage) up to 40 so that she can have the Zhevra mount that I should be getting any day now for recruiting Katyana. And oh how thoroughly she has been recruited.

An Epic Mount is far better than 30 pieces of silver any day.

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Withdrawl Method

An unbearable confluence of circumstance is upon us. Schedules have shifted. Time is scarce. Strangers are at the door and they hunger.

Which is to say it's got a bit busy and we have visitors staying with us. Which leads, as inexorably as rot follows damp, to a Warcraft famine.

For the first couple of days it was kind of normal. It's easy enough to log in for ten minutes an check my auctions. Now they've all paid off or expired and I want go to Un'Goro Crater.

“As Thrall is my witness
I'll never be offline again”
—Scarlett Un'Goro
I've found myself wondering if I could stay late at work and sneak a quick hour in there. It's a level of deception usually associated with having an affair. That, of course, is just for my horde characters. I know that Katyana is hanging out for more as well. (Turns out she rolled a new Paladin last night before the rest of us got home) (Harlot!)

I guess it's good to get this kind of a heads up now, in the early stages of dependency. That way we can choose whether to either get reins on this addiction or go the functional junkie route and make absolutely sure this kind of drought doesn't happen. Ever ever ever.

The visitors (who we love, dearly) will be gone by Friday. I'll buy Katyana a new mouse today. Something for the weekend.

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Our First Instance

The whole point of coercing, conniving and a eventually addicting my lovely wife to the monster that is WoW was so that we could run Instances. It's all very well jojavascript:void(0)ining forces with a random stranger who happens to be slaughtering in the same direction as you are for an hour or so but I really don't have the schedule or game time to get raids working. And, of course, I've wandered into some of the earlier Horde Dungeons at higher levels but it just isn't the same.

So we downed Van Cleef! Woot!

Hands up who can remember their first completed Instance. I bet you can. Can you remember how long ago it was that clearing The Deadmines was a big fat hairy deal? I'm talking to you, Future Self.

It took about three separate attempts on different days. The first hardly counts because it was as much about finding our way to the start of the Instance as anything else. Running out of time is a regular feature of our sessions.

Second attempt was heaps of fun but really quite tragic in it's noobishness. We crept from miner to miner. Freaked out at Overseers. Then wiped four or five times on the Ogre that's the first mini-boss. Killed him. Killed him to bits. Then had to go and have a little lie down.

Obviously it would be far too boring to start all over again the next day so we went to off and did some other stuff then came back a few levels later. (C'mon baby, you need lots of cloth for tailoring. We can get rich in The Dead Mines)

Easy-peasy. We romped through. It's probably important to note that even though our levels are moving up slowly our RL experience is increasing as well. I'm learning to tank/heal and Katyana is learning to run away from the disinterested mobs. Most importantly we are learning to operate as a team who understand each others behaviour and requirements.

We romped through the goblins. Having to blast the door in with a canon was awesome and then there was a friggin' pirate ship down there. It's like being in The Goonies.
We got jumped by the Tauren first mate, as so many before us must have done, but we could handle it.

The only one who gave us any trouble was Van Cleef, himself. We wiped the first time because his summoned friends latched on to Katyana and I couldn't get them off. Second time we killed him hut had to corpse run back for his head due to mana shortage.

Job done though. Very nice.

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Patch 3.2 and the Joy of Bigness

This was going to be a post about our successful completion of our first ever Raid. We did complete the Raid and it was successful but I really can't let the moment pass without shouting to the heavens: I LOVE THE NEW QUEST SCREEN.

Patch 3.2 went live last night, as most anyone Warcrafty will know. There are changes that don't have any effect on planet noob, and there are things like cheaper earlier mounts which will. And I had heard mention of some redesign o the quest screen but the description was kind of hard to envisage beyond... it will be better.

So I logged in this morning (just to see if the patch worked, you understand: playing WoW before work would be ridiculously foolish)(Unless you're just checking your auctions, that's not so bad)(Or you want to fly somewhere next time you play and that might just as well happen while you're in the shower; that's just good planning)(Don't do it, kids: you know it's wrong)

Anyway I'd forgotten about the Quest screen changes and I really just turned it on to see where Grexel should be next and POW!

A bigger, better altogether more visible screen with everything I need to see right there in front of me. Awesome. A joy to behold.

I could point out that it is the very specific joy that comes when you stop hitting yourself on the head with a hammer. It is only with the new screen that I realise just how cramped and uncomfortable the old screen was. I could point that out but I wont because that would be churlish.

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You Can Leave Your Add-on

Blizzard gives us so much. They've been crafting the game for years. The sheer audacity of MMORPGs and the technical challenges that they imply are mind boggling. The fact that it works at all is little short of a miracle.

Don't fiddle with miracles: You'll get turned into salt.

From my point of view this lead to a tentative, if not actively distrustful, attitude to Add-ons. It seemed presumptuous. I don't even know what I'm doing; why try to fine tune it.

Arguably, thought, they are a part of the game. And, like every other part of the game, sooner or later I jump in.

My first Add-on was a pretty simple one: The Azeroth Advisor. Barely an Add-on at all, really. That's not a criticism of the service but it doesn't really have a direct in-game effect. I got into it after I heard Curt Schilling on the How I Wow podcast. I was impressed by him and his approach.

Azeroth Advisor sends each of your characters a customised email every week that tells you about the sorts of things you might need to know at your current level and maps of the areas you are hanging out in. I've definitely learnt things and they successfully run a fine balance between information and potential spoilers.

Most recently, however, I've picked up Auctioneer Lite. I don't know what the extra features are for Auctioneer but I'm sure I'll get there soon.

The first thing I go completely hooked on is having the vendor price, estimated Auction House price and disenchant value on everything. I mean everything. Things that you find. Things that you are merely contemplating making. It's ridiculously useful.

That's just the frosting on the cake, though. The next thing that just revolutionised my AH behaviour is that the search function works. And you can sort by price and price per unit and all that other really obvious stuff.

I'm writing al this down because I can already feel myself losing contact with my pre-auctioneer self already. How did I function? I haven't installed it on Katyana's machine yet and she doesn't like the Auction House. She feels it hasn't worked well for her in the past (she also really wanted to disenchant everything to up her Enchanting skill)

I have a feeling that heads up pricing information will make all the difference for her.

It might seem obvious, but I am, as stated, a colossal noob. So it took me a really long time to include bidding in my AH process as well. Now I'm addicted to it; blanket bombing huge swathes of things that seem under-priced.

Now I can see, in principle, how the Auctioneer Data could be manipulated. Which means it's not the final answer to everlasting cash. But at least it does bridge the gap between too much data to track and ready to rock.

My hit pick is Spider's Silk. It's worth up to 9g per unit as raw material but tailoring it into Spidersilk Drape's turns out to be a real winner. The perfect cash crop for Lvl30s looking to buy that first mount.

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Dragging Out My Alt

My main concern when Katyana and Mumphred formed their increasingly profitable alliance was that my alts would suffer. I still think of Paronymous as my main and he's closing on Lvl52. I'm thinking of picking up Burning Crusade for him some time soon.

Poor Grexel, on the other hand, was rapidly becoming my bank alt. She hadn't left Thunder Bluff since the Midsummer Festival. I couldn't even remember where her hearthstone was set.

In fact Katyana is now the same level as her. Apparently I can't be “Mr Know-It-All about Mages” anymore because I haven't got any higher. (I am still allowed to be “Mr Knows-Which-Way-We're-Going”)

So what do you do to make it up to an alt that's been neglected? I bought her a pony.
She'd been piling up the cash (to my noobish standards) and I've come to understand that the announcement of patch 3.2 doesn't mean it's going to actually arrive any time soon.

Turns out last thing Grexel had been doing was trekking around Thousand Needles and that, let me tell you, is so much more fun on horseback. I was a bit rusty on the Mage skills but I realised that I had learnt a thing or two in my other play.

This might make proper grown-up players roll their eyes but I had finally got into keyboards spell-casting. 1,2,3 then another 1 or a 4 if they're nearly dead. Lovely. This was making Druid play much easier but, boy, does it pay off for Mages.

Grexel was back, and better than ever.

Better and better she found some new content; The obvious thing to do with a new Blue Skeletal Horse is take her out on the Shimmering Flats and let her rip, right? Turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Somehow when Paronymous came this way he just found the Sithilids and, to coin a phraze, bugged out. Missed the whole Mirage Raceway thing completely. A great bunch of quests for Grexel to flex her atrophying muscles on.

And a couple of extra levels so I can be Mr Know-It-All about Mages for a while longer.

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Learn Your Class

This was supposed to go up with yesterday's post but, y'know, stuff.

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The Family That Slays Together...

I originally started this blog so that I could observe myself changing and my play style developing. Playing with Katyana gives me twice as much to watch. As Mr Spock once said “Fascinating”.

One of the obvious things is her commitment to play. From me begging and pleading and doing the dishes to her deciding that it is too early to sleep and that we should play until 3am. Then more the next day. Twice. I told her it would be easier if we got 'downstairs mouses' and another keyboard so we could leave everything set up. She said she was thinking of that already. She's totally a keeper.

In RL my wife is closely involved in animal welfare and she has a general aversion to 'killing things over and over again'. She was like this with Civilisation, too. It only takes a couple of unprovoked attacks and then the gloves come off. Now if we spend too much time crafting in a city she wants to go out and slay some stuff.

She's also getting into the idea of spell rotation. As opposed to trying to figure out the 'best' spell and spamming that. In fact she's quite stingy with her mana. A great big firebolt at the beginning and then it's all about the wand. Unless we get swamped in which case the blizzard comes down.

There's also a level of increasing confidence. I noted for myself the satisfaction of Stranglethorn Vale; going from scuttlig prey to striding predator. When Katyana first saw a raptor she freaked out. Jurrassic park has a lot to answer for. However, by end of play on Sunday she announced that she was sick of killing raptors and hoped that we would never have to go back to the Excavation Site in the Wetlands ever again.

Then, of course, we had to kill Sarltooth to get the recipe for all the eggs we had collected.

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There are so many things that people take for granted. Really obvious things. The stuff that just doesn't need to be written down or talked about or, you know, told to noobs. Things like shift-right-clicking to autoloot have absolutely saved the game for me.

I am now officially completely in love with the banks. Not a popular thing to say in RL but I'm pretty sure the WoW banks are adding more value than they are deriving.

But sweet merciful running jumping jehosephat I wish I'd known about them sooner.

“Greed is good,
Greed works”
—Gordlon Gevko

Case in point being my Druid's leather-working skill. He's a skinner as well so the leather has been coming in thick and fast. Or, in fact, thick and rugged. Which would be great if I could do anything with it.

The problem began when I was working of medium leather stuff. I kept getting heavy leather and it was clogging up my bags. Obviously the correct response should have been to squirrel it away until I could use it. Instead I put my pants on my head, dribbled on myself and then sold them to vendors (to VENDORS!)(Look forward to my Auction House post coming soon. /faceslap)

This inevitably has left me with my profession out of sync with my questing. Currently I can just about get experience for the beasts that give me the right leather but they aren't the things I should be doing for Quest progress.

Any minute now though, I'm going to break LW 200 and all the Thick Leather in my bank will explode into a leather orgy of advancement. Or something.

Actually I just wanted to write “Warcraft Leather Orgy” in the hope that it would improve my traffic. I am such a whore.

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Warcraft Nation

I thought I'd have another crack at the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic. This week it's all about politics. What would World of Warcraft Players be able to achieve if they were as organised and motivated as the US Gun Lobby.

It is difficult to get a good estimate of the number of actual active players that Warcraft has. No matter how evangelical a member of the NRA might be they cannot buy another account and triple box their fund-raisers.

Even so the numbers are big. 6 million seems to be a middle estimate.

I grew up in New Zealand. It's a democracy. It has 4 million people and, famously, 60 million sheep. This tells us two things: A) most New Zealanders are Mages and B) if we can get past their crowd control we can declare it the Independent Republic of Wow and co-opt the entire country.

The real question is “then what?”
One of the biggest problems with any political organisation is keeping it focused. Cannon fodder doesn't have to march in a straight line but it is difficult to stop them fighting amongst themselves. A nation entirely composed of WoW players would be no more united in purpose than any other.
Free broadband? Compassionate raiding leave? We could probably all get behind an anti-discrimination bill so that normal people had to stop calling us names but a canny opposition could probably add an amendment excluding Death Knights without too much trouble.

Let's try a different approach.

Let's say each member of the World of Warcraft Liberation Front was willing to pay an average of US$1 every month to the cause. I need to Google payment rates for Union Dues. BRB.

Okay call it 50% That gives us a $US36m yearly income. On the back of Ventrillo payment rates. You could run a pretty sizeable full time staff off that.

Doing what you might ask? Here we must use our most powerful weapon; The game itself.

The work of lobbyists is dark and arcane. Much of it involves making friends, doing favours, exerting pressure. Getting close to people. Wining and dining them. Giving them things. Try this... you'll like it.

We have one of the most addictive products legally available. The political class are natural game players anyway. Highly focused and acquisitive. Convince them that they need to 'reach our demographic' and you can get them online. Help them get started. Get them hooked.

Do favours. We'll have them in our pockets in no time. And we get triple-experience while we're doing it.

Siblings, we have the means to rule the other World. All we have to do is step into the Portal that will take us there from Azeroth. Who's with me?

(Actually I need to level my leatherworking but, you know, tomorrow. For sure)

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Celebration Time

My evil plan is working. Mrs Noob is now back online and playing. The Zhevra will soon be mine.

The issues she was having with the game (as previously documented) have been solved.
Basically it's a hardware solution so that she can sit farther away from the screen. She's wired into the TV on one laptop and I sit at 90 degrees to her playing on the coffee table.

She's mostly past another barrier to entry which is the “It's just killing things over and over” issue as well. Now that she's signed up for a monthly account we really needed to get professions underway. It's an unexpected consequence of the Recruit-a-Friend programme that our levels are far outstripping our financial ability to pay for spell training.

One of the things that makes WoW so addictive, I believe is that there is always something new to do. Katyana is now a Tailor and an Enchanter which has her in a constant state of gathering/crafting. She got very excited when she earned her first gold piece and then morose when her upgrades cost her most of it. I shudder to think what will happen when she discovers the Auction House. (I mentioned it to her as a better place to sell 'greenies'. She said “It's not real people though, right?”)

For my part I am rendered noobish all over again.

I have no idea how to play a Paladin and we're rocking through the levels so fast it's hard to work out how my spells fit together. Not only that but I realise that all my geography is useless; just when I was getting comfortable. Where the hell are the Alliance Zeppelins?

Which is cool because I'm getting that New Azeroth Smell all over again with a little bit of knowledge on top.

Mostly I'm in a paranoid frenzy trying to make sure her game experience isn't frustrating. On the other hand she's learning about spell rotation and when she got her wand working she went on a killing spree that would make Charles Manson blush.

Soon we will have to make up house rules to prevent over-playing.

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Humour in Warcraft

This is a Blog Azeroth shared blog topic and seeing as it doesn't require any particular level of l33tness I feel qualified to comment.
Under discussion is the effect of humour injected by Blizzard with particular reference to NPC names and other pop culture references.

To me it seems more or less essential. The tone of Warcraft is notoriously cartoonish and hyper-real. It's not about subtle earthy tones; It's about great glowing neon castles with exploding Titans punching holes in them. High contrast. Bright colours. Shiny, pretty things to keep our attention.

So what's that got to do with humour?

A lot of the lore, the plot and the major characters are extraordinarily bleak and violent. To have the goblins fretting about blowing up the Zeppelins all the time creates another form of contrast. It makes the grand and epic stuff stronger by subtly indicating when some stuff is just for laughs or otherwise that "This thing was not a joking matter".
It makes the world more rich.

Also, humor allows a certain level of freedom which Blizzard clearly wants, perhaps if only to satisfy their own creativity and disposition. Take a moment to try to imagine a deadly serious and utterly consistent playable universe that had any of the toys that engineering gives you.
Or that would have let them introduce vehicles.
Or let Taurens ride raptors.

The more serious they make it the more rules they have to follow. Humour keeps the canon loose. It stops questions of the 'too hard' variety.
And it stops us from taking it all too seriously.

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New Guild

Back when Grexel was, say L11, she was trundling around the windmills in Tirisfall Glades. Early days on a mage are quite hard going but she was doing okay. Standing outside the Zombie Family crypt that needed clearing I was debating whether it was possible.

Standing nearby and displaying the same sort of hesitation was a similarly leveled undead priestess. Her name was Aglaia. We agreed to join forces and I had to invite her into a group because she was on a trial account. First time I'd done that.

Fast-forward to Paronymous in the Boulder Lode mines in the Southern Barrens. I had to go AFK for a bit and when I came back I'd been buffed. Back in the fray was the same Undead Priestess. I didn't remember the name straight away but by the time we'd been through a couple of the Dwarf-slaying, helicopter 'sploding quests I was pretty sure. She remembered me as well. (I say 'she'; I have no idea what gender her player is)

Most recently I decided to clear up some old quests so I was in the Auction House shopping for Trollsblood. Guess who was selling it?

By now Aglaia was progressing far faster than me. Up in the mid-sixties (I dinged 47 for Paronymous on the weekend) Not only that but she's started a guild. Bloody over-achievers.
Not that I mind because I got a very polite inquiry as to why I had 'chosen' not to join a guild. Long story short I am now a member of Viridian. Yay.

Better still three of us banded together on the weekend to knock off some of the Midsummer Festival Quests. It was light-hearted and chatty. Nothing we did was much of a threat but the whole guild is new so I reckon any interaction is healthy.

Here's our group photo (That's me on the left):

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One of the things I keep meaning to get around to is making some predictions. I stumbled across The Barrens Chat which was about to start on a project tracking some Noob friends of his through their development. It made me wonder what the Lvl 80 me would think of the Noob me.
Only time will tell with that one.
I can, however, record the converse: What does Noob me think of Endgame me?
So I present for the sake of future mortification...

10 Things I Expect To Happen In My Warcraft Future

1 Glyphs - I've looked them up. I assume I just have to go to the Auction House. Maybe I can get them from the Inscriber trainer or Reagent seller. Or something. I'll almost certainly get an Inscriber sometime as well. L80 Me wont know what took me so long.

2 Raiding - I could do that! What a good idea It would be a little bit like actually playing the game. I'm thinking of going through Wailing Caverns with Paronymous (Druid 46) just to clear out the Quests. I'm hoping I can pass it off as Healer Training and just invite whoever's nearby. How badly could I screw up at that level? Come the Engame I don't see myself in a hardcore raiding guild. I expect to play a lot of PUGs.

3 Cash Cache - I'll get a Bank Account. I'm already passing everything to Grexel for Auction or Disenchanting. I don't really want to relegate her to mule/banker. Definitely need more room to store materials and stuff. I assume I can afford it now.

4 Old scores - I will go into the Plaguelands and nuke it to the ground. Grudge bearing is the finest form of roleplay. This will probably happen before I get to 80 but I might make it a monthly catharsis. Truth be told L80 Me will probably have better things to do.

5 Warfare - I will get my head around Battle Grounds. So far it's just been a series of mad panics. I'm sure I am everything that makes people LOL or gag about it. Certainly someone felt so comfortable exterminating me in the Arathi Basin that the took the time to laugh at me. I expect these to still be hard but I imagine I will have a plan/strategy/overview that will work better than running in small circles with my hair on fire.

6 Macros - I am this special kind nerd; a wannabe programmer. I suck and never really put the time in but I really like the idea of it. Sorting out macros is about right for my effort:result ratio.

7 Add ons - So far I have only put in one. I haven't felt the need. I fully understand that this means I don't know what I'm doing. Just like the macro issue I don't really think it makes sense to force the issue. I just don't feel like I know what I'm doing well enough to make modifications usefully. In the future everybody has a million addons optimising themselves. Then again Blizzard keeps including things like Quest Helper.

8 Community Involvement - Love to get out there in the Blogosphere more. I'd like to get Sargeras to guest post some time. It'd be nice to get on the Twisted Nether some time too. Voice of a Noob Generation, that's me.

9 Expansions - Some day I'll make 60 and pick up the Burning Crusade. First order of business: Alt up a Blood Elf. Then I understand there's some sort of Anger of the Lichen after that. So I guess I'll roll a Moss Knight, or whatever. I hear that can make you Noobish all over again.

10 PVP - I already created a Warlock on a PVP server. I can't even remember why. I guess I always knew that was something I needed to do. Maybe my usual server was down or something. Certainly didn't get very far. I imagine the UbĂ«rMe that reads this will be thinking “You chose a class you hadn't played before? What are you? Stupid?” But I kinda like the Warlock idea and I kinda want the PVP thing so somehow that's what I did. My Endgame self will, of course, stride the bloody plains pwner of all he surveys.

11 Theorycrafting - This would, of course, require learning to count. It could happen.

So, that's on the record. Let's see how it all turns out.

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The Doctor Is In

"Hey Druid..."

It was my first proper interaction with a Level 80.

It was actually kind of weird being addressed directly. Partly because I was just outside the Inn at Kargath and there are quite a few NPCs chatting amongst themselves around there. So that was my first thought: quest encounter.

The other thing is that Endgamers are, to be blunt, kinda funny looking. They've got all this mad gear and this one was on a tricked-out cat mount of some sort. So I found it difficult to figure out where to look to make “eye-contact”.

So when I realised that it was a player talking. I did a classic double-take; checking to see if there was somebody else he could be talking too. If had a macro to point at myself and say “Who? Me?” it would have gone off automatically.

He wanted to know if I could cure poison. Which, of course, I could. I don't think there was any real threat involved but he'd picked up something called Mother's Milk which lasts a while and was probably just annoying.

I tried cure poison. Didn't work. I assumed it was just my level and the Level 80 was pretty sanguine about it, too. But I knew I had another poison thingy that I hadn't put on a taskbar so I had a little look in my spellbook.

Abolish poison, that was it.

He was chatting away that he'd tried some sort of rune and that hadn't worked either. I tried abolish. It seemed to work. My patient was too busy assuring me that it was no problem to notice that it worked.

Then the penny dropped. He managed to shout “Yay! You got it! Thanks!” and hug me in the time it took me to type “Abolish” because I thought he'd want to know for future reference.

And then he was gone in a cloud of dust.

It wasn't technically RP. It was something better than that. I was there, with my skill set, helping out as a Druid.

And, damn, it felt good to have been useful.

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Horsey! (kinda...)

You just wouldn't read about it. While I was writing this post I was listening to The Instance. Turns out the whole mount system is being re-arranged. Here's the original entry:

“Nobody with a good Kodo
needs to be justified.”
—Flannery Wiseblood
Got me a sweet ride.
Elsewhere in Azeroth people talk about getting their Epic Flying Mount for umpty-gazillion gold; well, mine cost 8g50s. The hard part was getting trained to ride. It cost me most of everything all my toons had got.

As I approached the critical amount of cash I had been thinking I would do it differently. Because Paronymous is a Druid, he already has a travel form. So it seemed like a good idea to leave him off it and spend the money speeding up Grexel. However, with the adventures in spousecraft I thought I was going to be playing my Horde toons less so poor Grexel was in danger of getting very little play at all.

Two other factors played into this. Firstly I realised that Paronymous' income was increasing rapidly. Lots of greens dropping and more cash for the quests. Perhaps it would be more efficient to speed him up and pass the money down to the others later.

Secondly, the next step in rescuing the Princess Mazael was one of those go find someone in a new location affairs. I like these and I understand their value but at this level its not even go to the next region; it's cross two regions to get to the region where the mad geezer is hiding somewhere.

Sounds like an argument for mounted travel if ever there was one.

So it turns out that patch 3.2 is making mounts available at Lvl 20 and their going to cost a total of 5 gold including training. I don't know if it's going to 'ruin the game for all time' or whatever but on the face of it I ought to be the player with the biggest complaint. If I'd waited a week or so all that fretting and farming and planning would have been redundant. With the same money. I could have had mounts for everybody and probably would have spent the time leveling Undabridge (my hunter) because I could have got one for him too.

On the other hand maybe I'm lucky. If I'd just levelled and picked up a mount in the same way that I get my spells and things it would have been far less of an adventure. At the end of the day Blizzard could technically give us all unlimited teleportation, invulnerability and DPS but that wouldn't really be a game.
(Actually I think that might be Second Life, which would explain a few things)

So maybe I paid my 38g50s for the experience of being the last player to experience that bit of content. A conflict like that won't be available to players starting after 3.2 until they get much further into the game.

I suppose they'll get there quicker but they wont know what they're missing.
Hah! Noobs!

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Well, well, well...

What a crazy week.
After the initial surge of play I wasn't really sure what would happen. Would playing in the evenings be a go-er? Or would the plethora of Other Things To Do put WoW on the backburner until the next weekend?

I thought I'd leave it until at least Wednesday before suggesting it myself. I am extremely conscious that I could spill into overpressuring at a moment's notice.

It was blissful. We dressed in his'n'hers robes, went for long walks on the beach, and slaughtered murlaps in their millions. We agreed latest play times and then over-ran them wildly.

On Thursday I got stuck at the office. When I finally called in that I was on my way home she had a surprise for me.
“You'll be so proud,” she said.
“You're playing without me?” I asked.
“I made a Tauren,” she confirmed.

My spouse was alt-ing. Admittedly she didn't know what class she had made. I assume it's a Warrior because I think that's the default. It didn't seem to bother her not to know. So, you know, whatever works, right?

But then disaster struck.
Or more accurately disaster snuck in, inflicted a nasty Damage-over-time and then ran away laughing.

My wife suffers from insomnia.
She'd had a couple of problem nights during the week but there had always been some other reason at play. Mosquito bites; it's the rainy season. Sometimes you have to drink coffee, even if you know it's bad for you.

It became clear and indisputable that playing World of Warcraft was over-stimulating her and therefore keeping her awake. It's a really significant problem. Come Saturday we knew that rather than upping her trial that we would have to let the Couples WoW experience go.

Serious bummer.

Who would have thought that the barrier to Spouse on Spouse Warcrafting would be that she likes it too much?As it stands now the trial is gone. There is one thing left that I can try but, well, health comes first, kids. Health comes first.

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