Sunday, 26 October 2008

Meeting guildies in RL

DON’T you ever get curious about the people on the other end of the keyboards? Of course you do, we’re human beings and humans are naturally inquisitive people.

So when me and Mrs Draigg planned a visit to some relatives in one part of the country one of our guildies said there five of them who live nearby, so let’s meet up for a meal and a drink.

Of course Wow, like any other online game, can be a great hiding place for weird and strange people. It’s alter-ego land. But we’ve know these guys for sometime .

So we felt safe enough to take up the invitation – and we had a great night together on Friday. The thing is as GM you have to be able to suss folk out and know who you can and can not trust when it comes to hooking up in RL.

Now someone is suggesting a guild outing to Alton Towers. Could be an epic day out.

Talking of which, I’m about to climb aboard my epic flying mount in a few hours and head off to sunny Malta for the rest of the week to visit friends and relatives.

I know, a week off Wow is a trial, but I’ve taken the tablets so should survive.


Thursday, 23 October 2008

Talent Tree Tango

Alteritis: I can’t find the word in the Oxford English or a medical dictionary, but language is nothing if not evolutionary. So there’s a new word for your lexicon – free of charge.

I suffer from it. Badly. Truly badly.

So when THAT patch finally landed, well it was a nightmare for us sufferers. I haven’t got my shammy, lock or hordie rogue out of the box since.

The reason can be nailed in two words. Talent Trees. All those decisions over points.

It’s hurt my brain sorting out my main chars, the hunter and drood. Yesterday I caught up with the fact that we’re getting all our druid talent points back again in the next patch (which hits us probably next week).


Something about changing casting points around. Humph.

So I come to my shadow priest who has undergone a major metamorphosis. He was called Daffyd and had reached the giddy heights of 40. Then I lost interest. For ages.

I gave him a new name, Bowjangles, pounded my way up to 50 something and then thanks to the patch, gave him new hairdo. Gone are those deep blue Nightelf locks (I must have drunk something deeply suspicious when I created him) and he now has a priestly white hair and beard.

I was going to switch him to holy when hitting the Outlands, especially given all the whispers I keep getting such as: ‘wanna come heal in BRD’.

But this shadow stuff is sort of fun. Evil. But fun.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

The weirdest bug from the patch?

Well it’s a good question. Look at the cat. That’s my one of my pets Iceshadow - not a main dude I grant you - a huntress from Winterspring.

I called her Iceshadow because of her colour and the fact that she prowls. Pure white and disappearing from time to time. Nice concept eh?

So what’s with the stripes I hear you ask. Well I have the same question because she’s gained them after the patch.

Weird or what?

Monday, 20 October 2008

The sound of thunder

I was going to write about our guild run to Kara and about how stunningly quickly we were knocking aside the bosses.

All the sweat, blood and tears of fighting the likes of Moroes and Maiden seemed a dim memory in the wake of nerfed Kara. I was going to ask questions about whether Kara was worthwhile now – but Big Bear Butt beat me to it.

So I do nothing more than offer this link - and commend his piece which is much along the lines I was thinking. So instead, I’ll stick with Kara – but bring you an aspect of the new patch that is going to give us all a headache.

I actually ran with my feral druid Cadmus. I wanted to see how his new tanking/feral spec dished out the dirt.

All I will say is that while in his kitty gear on Curator he landed a 12.4k crit! And several 5k plus ones. I even checked my combat stats in the new Achievement panel to make sure I’d read the screen right when the figure flashed up.

Anyways the thing is this. We had two hunters with us and – like a zillion others – they had gone out and grabbed themselves new pets. One had a core hound and one a devilsaur.

The noise was crazy. Their stomping and thumping around with accompanying screen-shuddering effects was, to be honest, a pain in the butt.

You hear them all the time – in the battlegrounds, the bank, the auction house. I don’t know how the hunters cope with all that racket.

It would certainly drive me nuts and I have no plans whatsoever to go and grab one for Draigg.
The other problem is when you’re tanking – as I found out.

With all that stomping, lava breathings and huge animals filling your screen you can hardly see a thing.

I’m opening a book now on how soon we see these pets gradually disappear from the hunters’ repertoire as the row gets on their nerves.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

We have THE mount for Lich King

Well here it finally is. The grind is over and I have THE mount on which to enter Northrend.

It’s just a shame I can’t have my frostsaber pet, Bukowski, walking alongside me like mounted hunters could do with their pets once upon a long time ago.

Was the haul worth it? Most definitely. It was meticulously planned, targeting so many quest runs each day to wrap it all up in good time.

Will I regret never having to spend frustrating ages trying to get chillwind meat? Nope.

Will I go back to Winterspring? Most definitely, it’s one of my favourite places and with my shadow priest having dinged 55 last night, he’s set to put on his snowshoes and head up through the Timbermaw tunnel from Felwood.

Meanwhile Wintersaber mount. Happy days.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Will there be a virtual credit crunch?

While the global financial institutions are in meltdown the one place where the economy is booming is in Wow, but how long will it last? Will the cash crisis convulsing the real world soon visit the virtual world?

Yesterday I decided to have a bit of a clear out with one of my chars. The bank, post box and bags were overflowing with stuff. Among the mountain of bits and pieces were enough herbs to stock several London flower shops.

So I took it to the AH thinking it might be worth the odd copper or two – and was staggered. The peacebloom – remember that stuff that you kept tripping over while running around as a level 7? – was going for 50s a stack.

More incredulously, I sold mageroyal at 8g a stack, stranglekelp was going for 4g each, briarthorn 12g a stack ….. This isn’t your terrecone territory (these things have been skyhigh prices for a long time now).

These are your bog standard, everyday herbs gathered as a newbie herbalist.

The Wow economy has been booming for sometime and it has been fuelled by two major developments. One is the Isle of Quel’Danas and the dailies, where upwards of 200g a day can be farmed without any great effort.

The other is the ‘Alt Syndrome’. It seems that while everyone has been gripped by the Lich King Lull, well-heeled players have created new chars and levelled new professions – hence the soaring prices for the basics of alchemy, cooking, leatherworking and a dozen other staples.

Of course the big question is this: what will happen to this booming virtual economy when WotLK goes live?

As everyone forgets the dailies and alts and starts the charge to level 80 and the new instances, will Wow be hit by its own credit crunch?

Friday, 10 October 2008

Nerfing rare pets

It’s confession time, which they say is good for the soul. As a hunter I’ve been hideously unfaithful to my pets – but it doesn’t stop me from being utterly dismayed by the new Pick And Mix attitude being adopted by Blizz in the Lich King

I’m full of admiration for those who grab a pet at level 10 and stick with it through thin and thinner. Don’t ask me what my first pet was 60 levels ago – I can’t remember.

As I’ve levelled from land to land, I quickly had an eye for the new pets chewing me up.

Me: ‘I must have one of those.’

Brain: ‘But you got three already, which are you going to jettison.’

Me: ‘Who cares – just look at it’

My longest standing pet was a scorpion from Shadowmoon called Mort and when returning there I then fell in love with the Dragonhawks, tamed one and called it Sherbert. Didn’t I have fun watching hordies disappear in a cloud of flame in the BGs wondering what the view was like on their screens.

My current pride and joy are two cats. One is Bukowski, who I picked up while running the Wintersaber grind (which should be completed this weekend).

The other is Steinbeck (aka as that rare spawn Humar). I absolutely fell for this big black kitty at the start of this year. I found the level 23 cat languishing under the shade of a tree just outside Rachet and then worked him hard up to level 70.

If any hunter out there wants to know the best grinding route for that …. oh, hang on. That’s going to be superfluous in WotLK.

And there lies my beef. Suddenly all us hard-working level 70 hunters who have taken a low level pet and ground it up to our level are to see our work evaporate.

After the Grand Expansion you can pop along to your local rare spawn site, pick up your pet and ‘bingo’ its level 65. No hours of grinding out xp, using every skill you’ve got to fight off mobs cos your pet still can’t hold aggro.

Just a hunky dory 65 that you can take to the Isle of Quel Danas to knock off those last five levels and pocket a sack full of gold in the process.

Suddenly all those rare skins like Humar effectively become worthless. It may seem a slightly hypocritical argument given my infidelities, but having done the level 23 to 70 grind with Steinbeck I have a right to feel aggrieved.

Why now even bother with a special, rare skin?

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Death Knight Game

The Lich King Lull is now beginning to evolve into a spirit of high anticipation in Wowland. There’s just something in the air. Like those glorious early mornings in late summer when you just catch a scent of Autumn.

One of the things marking this shift is the Death Knight Game. It’s starting to creep into Blogland.

Questions roll out like:

Will you create one?
Will it be the first thing you do?
What race will you have?
What name will you choose?

Well for a kick off how can anyone take a gnome Death Knight seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I have a gnome mage, but a hero class Death Knight? Nope – can’t compute that one.

The question for me isn’t ‘am I going to create a death knight?’ – but ‘when am I going to create a death knight?’

As soon as I get WotLK out of the box is the answer of course. Whether I start him straight away is another matter entirely.

I remember a while back several of the EU servers crashed all at the same time one evening and I managed to create a level 1 char on another server – along with loads of other people. It was crazy.

There were hundreds of toons running round in Northshire Valley killing wolves, which couldn’t spawn fast enough to satisfy the manic demand. So some bright spark suggested that all the level ones got together and go gank Hogger. There was something like 50 of us – and we failed! There was carnage. but it was huge fun.

Anyway, that’s what I envisage the death knight starting point will be like on day one. Teeming with toons. So I’ll probably bide my time and go-a-hunting for quests and mobs in Northrend.

But what about my death knight name? Well I thought of one and created a level 1 char to bag it. Being a very big fan of comedian Eddie Izzard, I wanted a death knight called Izzard. But that was already taken. I vaguely wondered about Deafnight ….

Given the nature of Lich King I then searched for a name that imbued a feeling of icy awesomeness, but names like arĂȘte, glacier, serrac and so on were also taken.

I eventually bagged Chamonix and tucked the char away ready to switch the name to my death knight. Then out of the blue came a moment of inspiration.

Its root is in one of Izzard’s wonderful surreal sketches which – like a lot of his stuff – cracks me up no matter how many times I’ve watched it.

Now DeathorCake is waiting to enter the WotLK arena.

Meanwhile for Izzard fans I’ve put a link up over on the right there to my favourite routine of his, Star Wars Canteen. Enjoy.

Editor’s note: We realise the humour of the name and video clip may be lost on some (or probably most) of you, but then it is a subjective issue.

Monday, 6 October 2008

No fear

So what do you do on a Sunday afternoon when the Atlantic appears to have been sucked up into the clouds and is being dumped all over your village and there’s nothing cracking off in the guild?

Some of us had planned to gather together later to finish off those group quests in Netherstorm which had been languishing at the bottom of our quest sack for months (and great fun it was).

Well the answer for me was to scrimmage among my alts, dust off my level 23 lock and have a play. I suggest pukka locks read no further than the end of this sentence.

I only created him, pink beard and all, to see how un-evil (I know its not a proper word) I could get a lock to look and Mrs Draigg thinks he’s really cute. Job done eh?

So I took him off to Wetlands then stared at the multitude of coloured buttons and symbols on my screen and wondered what the dickens I was supposed to do with them all.

I eventually got into a rhythm and was having fun taking apart the Mosshide tribe. Two at a time was no problem when called for, but one pull brought three into play, which was a tad against the odds.

‘Hey I know, the fear button.’

I duly hit it and one went scampering manically off into the distance and me and my void continued dealing with the other two. Everything was going hunky dory until the feared one brought four mates back ….

Eventually I took Bigglez up four and a half levels in the spell and it proved that you don’t need to be swanning around with a level 70 to enjoy Wow.

The game is still fun at whatever level you play.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Alt-ernative view

I have to confess to being multi-dimensional when it comes to Wow and certainly confound that much peddled theory (usually by the female of our species) that men are incapable of multi-tasking!

The first char I rolled was Draiggoch, about three years ago. I can’t remember why I picked a hunter, I probably just liked the idea of having a pet at my heels. I also can’t remember why I opted for MM spec, but that’s another story.

After Draigg was up and running I then started looking at all the other options out there and confess I have tried out every class up to at least level 20 and most of them to 30.

The odd thing is that at about the mid-30s I was really struggling with my druid Cadmus and was going to scrap him, but Mrs Draigg persuaded me otherwise.

The upshot is that he runs my hunter very close in the favouritism stakes, is a mean tank (18k health and just under 30k armour) and is awesome and versatile fun.

Third up is Frazzle, my mage and so called because he was a fire mage. I respecced to frost in the high level 50s (just before questing in Winterspring – how smart was that!). Now he's 70 and I like frost! Then there’s Bowjanlges, a level 50 something shadow priest ….. and so it goes on.

I can’t help myself. However what it does do, of course, is give you some insight into the basic capabilities of the team around you when leading in instances and raids.

Knowing their strengths and weaknesses at various points is nice knowledge to have up your sleeve, especially when things are on the edge of getting a tad out of control.

I know, I know, you want to know my least favourite. Well I’m afraid it has got to be the paladin. I took one all the way to level 35 before finally giving up the ghost. Boring or what.

I can’t quite get on with locks either. Maybe it’s some to do with the whip-cracking, thigh-slapping tart that puts me off my game.

Meanwhile I rather suspect the psychology of why we gravitate to a particular type of char would be quite an interesting exercise to carry out.

STOP PRESS: Thanks to Larisa for this prompt:

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

It's only a game - isn't it?

AS GM of our guild the ethos I’ve tried to create above all else - with the help of the officers - is that we have fun and respect other people. A little courtesy goes a long way, don’t you think?

It may be a virtual world, but there are actually real people on the end of all those chars with real feelings. I accept that there are also a lot of alter-egos floating around out there, but such is our approach that the nastier ones have quickly been found out and flushed out of the guild.

They quickly stick out like a sore thumb.

For instance we once had a rogue who was our highest dpser at the time, but his attitude stank. He was boastful, abusive and continually disrupting guild chat. I eventually booted him out. He may have been good on the instances and raids, but that’s no guarantee of a place in the guild.

Recently we had a mage join us and after a couple of days he came online, let fly with a racist rant then:


I whispered them, but got no reply. Later he came back online, I whispered again and he said his account had been hacked and begged to rejoin the guild to at least explain what had happened.

He was received back with much empathy and support. Several days later he left again. No comment. Zilch. Just ‘so-and-so left guild.’

I whispered again and said that at least a ‘goodbye’ would have been nice. The reply I got was: ‘I don’t wanna be in a guild anymore mate and it’s only a game so stop worrying.’

I explained that he had been well treated by the guild after the hacking incident and our members at least deserved better than that. I got no reply.

Wow obviously mirrors real life, but just because it’s a game doesn’t mean you can trample over all the other players. We’ve had some ‘interesting’ youngsters in our guild.

Some have flounced off muttering expletives – I think that’s what all those asterisks mean - but others have ‘grown up’ to learn how to actually treat people properly and with respect. It may be ‘just a game’, but it’s also an opportunity to help people learn some real life skills in communication and respect.