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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