Monday, December 22, 2008

It's Like I'm Doing Arenas In A Movie Theater.

"I'm sorry I didn't see that guy attacking us... my monitor is too big. I had to look way over there to the right."

That's basically something I had to say the other day. See my wonderful wife Rytes decided that because I'm one of the most handsome men on the planet, not to mention an awesome dad, I deserve something nice for Christmas. So just as the snow was starting to come down here in Portland I got a ride to a store and brought home a 24' widescreen monitor. Now I know there are some people who have larger, I could have bought a larger one, but for the price and features they didn't have what I was looking for. I'm glad I didn't though because honestly if this were any bigger, it would be too big.

The first couple of days that I sat down in front of this monster, the glow being bright enough to light the room behind me, I actually had trouble playing WoW. Not just because my eyes kind of hurt due to not having adjusted to so much... stuff... being in front of me, but because now everything is in a different spot. The fine muscle memory I had developed for moving the mouse to click things like my bags or certain spells was useless. I also had to turn up the sensitivity of my mouse so that it didn't require large sweeping motions to move the cursor from one side of the screen to the other. The biggest problem was that the health bars, minimap, and chat logs were all spread out. Before on my 17" monitor I could fix my eyes to the center of the screen and basically see everything at once... now I have to actually look around the screen. It might sound like a pain but after a couple of days I'm used to it, my eyes no longer hurt and my clicking skills are back... besides... it's worth it... it's 24" widescreen.

WoW business has been the usual, running heroics to gear up, except now a guildmate of mine, Lilim, has reached level 80 on his Death Knight. We've been running them together and he's doing great, especially since he's cruising around in quest greens and blues. Then we got bored and decided to start a 2v2 arena team... this has been interesting to say the least.

Our first couple of matches we were completely destroyed within a minute. Usually everyone would target me being the clothie and with the difficulty of kiting two characters, especially like a warlock/pally or rogue/hunter combo, things didn't work out well. I got fed up and decided to leave behind the badge gear I was rocking, drop around 1800g and buy the mats for a full Frostsavage set. I'm convinced that tailoring is punishment as well, because I only gained 9 skill points off using all this stuff. This is what 1800g in tailoring mats looks like (plus a few extras I didn't feel like moving out of the picture).

Using this set I've lots a LOT of haste, about 2k int, and 200 spellpower. I did however gain 2.5k health, 300 resilience, and around 9% crit. I've got to say I am really disappointed that it doesn't look cooler. In fact most of the high end cloth gear seems to have basically the same look as random quest rewards. I'm sure part of it is because I'm Undead and so everything is tattered and has bones sticking out, but I I mean come on... where are my crazy looking outfits... I want some spikey shoulders... even if casters have no use for spikes.

A respec was also required. The first few matches I was rocking my pure 71 point frost build, which I destroy 5-mans and heroics with, but I needed to dip into arcane. I took out some points in improved water elemental, improved blizzard, and I don't remember what else. I then did the standard frost pvp build which took me down into the arcane tree to get counterspell with the 4 second silence. I then had to redo my keybindings which I'm still getting used to and has honestly cost us a couple of matches (WHERE THE HELL IS MY WATER ELEMENTAL!? DOH! THAT'S ICY VEINS NOT COLD SNAP!).

So forget the theorycrafting behind the frost mage/DK combo. It just doesn't work out the way people think. We are two dps classes going up against combos that make much more sense. Basically every fight starts with both of the opponents charging at me, I don't care if it's a warrior and a holy priest, even the priest is smiting me. This left me running, blowing my CD's and basically trying to stay alive for very long, which I ended up failing at. They would ignore Lilim and whatever death knighty stuff he was doing and focus completely on me.

Now it's not as if either of us are new to PvP. We've both been PvPing since before there was an honor system... we've just never done arenas. It also didn't help that Lilim was playing a Death Knight, which means less play time than any other class he's had and was wearing those quest reward items I mentioned earlier. Gear was an obvious problem, especially since I could identify some of the pieces our opponents were using... they were armed to the teeth.

We were getting frustrated with our losing streak, trying to figure out what we were doing wrong aside from our class combo not being optimal. We did come up against a bunch of gimmick teams, for instance we got completely destroyed by two tree druids and their army of little trees... some combos we couldn't figure out how to handle... especially a certain priest/hunter combo we kept facing.

As we sat complaining about how we've PvP'd for years and world PvP being much different from arenas we began for formulate a strategy that worked for us. Both of us being more than seasoned PvP veterans who can hold their own against most opponents we began turning every match into two 1v1 matches instead of a 2v2. We would select our targets, I'd use my tricks to kite and otherwise incapacitate one of them while he finished off the other, then we had a 2v1. It may seem like basic strategy to seasoned arena veterans but to the two of us it was a new concept. We had completely re-worked our thinking of the fights.

After about 12 fights with scattered wins, we began performing much better. Even against teams we had already faced who had destroyed us... like the priest/hunter duo. I was surprised at how well we did in some cases. There was a druid/warrior combo which we completely wrecked every time we faced them. I would fly my warrior kite, keep him away from Lilim while I helped counterspell and spellsteal the druid... then we'd finish the warrior. The best match was when we faced another frost mage/DK team. The mage and I died first having basically killed each other with the help of our DK partners, then it was left to Lilim and the other DK. Lilim was a small percentage of health above the other DK and killed him, at which point the DK turned into his zombie thing... and ended up killing Lilim. That's when my teammate came back as his zombie and ended up winning us the match with 12% health if I remember correctly. After that match every time we faced that combo they would isntantly leave the arena once they realized who we were.

As it stands now we're on a mission to get Lilim some gear, get our rogue Stiletto to 80 for 3v3's, and keep working on our arena skills. It was nice to see an obvious improvement over the course of 30 or so matches. It's like leveling up but without an xp bar. I'm completely addicted to arenas and I can't see myself ever not doing them in the future... especially if I keep getting better.

Oh and I little shout out to Besnell, the 80 mage on The Venture Co who messaged me in game after reading my blog. Hope work wasn't too boring and sorry I didn't post this earlier... you could have had something to read.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Blue Proto-Drake... and other less awesome things.

It's been a busy week of playing WoW. Chopping away at the heroics and saving my emblems has gotten me some nice purple upgrades. I've noticed an improvement in my performance since doing so, despite some of them only being slight upgrades. I guess I just need to get over the idea of huge gear upgrades and realize it's only going to come in small percentages at this point.

My guild had another get together last week. A nice potluck dinner which pretty much ended up being a hot wing buffet with homemade fudge on the side. I'm not complaining though, I took home enough food to feed myself for three days. As always it's awesome getting together with people in real life and talking about WoW. You get to see people actually get excited instead of exclamation points being tossed behind what they say.

The biggest day I've had so far has been today. I was running heroic UP, totally not even thinking about anything but the threat and dps meters when suddenly the blue proto-drake dropped. I got excited for a moment, but I have notoriously bad luck when it comes to rolls so I just hit need and looked away. Next thing I know I'm the proud owner of one of the coolest looking mounts in the game... not only that but one of the rarest. This is especially cool considering I was complaining a few days before about how the epic flyers you buy in SMV don't come in blue and I like keeping with my whole frost theme. Everyone is jealous and I'm the coolest kid on the block now.

I also managed to finally reach exhalted with Kirin Tor, which could have happened much sooner if I hadn't switched back and forth between them and Wyrmrest. I bought the epic robe from the KT vendor, which should suit me fine until I get tailoring up to make my Ebonweave or I happen to score an instance epic. Now only about 20k rep to go before I hit exhalted with Wyrmrest... sigh.

The funniest thing that happened today was when myself and Redstone (guildmember/GM of the guild) headed into Ironforge to get red winter clothes pattern for me. Before we ran in I took off all my gear, sticking it in my backpack, having heard that both it will prevent item damage and not... I figured might as well give it a shot. What I didn't realize was that doing this had filled my bag compeltely. When I got the vendor I was first confused by the offer of the Metzen quest, which I had already done... so we died.

Our second trip in was more amusing. Upon coming back to life I was attacked by guards, I ice blocked, opened the vendor, opened my bag... then I clicked an item in my bag, the very nice 81+ spell power ones to equip them and free up a slot. I then bought the recipe and died soon after. Then I realized that I hadn't equiped the pants, I had sold them to the vendor. So we ran back in.

The third and final trip I repeated the above process except I bought my pants back and began blinking towards the door. Two guards cornered me, I killed them and then restored myself to full health and mana. While I was doing this Redstone informed me that a level 13 warlock had attacked him on our previous run and had just rezed. I couldn't resist. I ran back in, set a single frostbolt at the warlock and dropped him. Then I was killed by everyone standing around.

All in all it was a pretty awesome day in WoW.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Getting A Bit Discouraged.

I'm getting to that point. The point when you're max level and the only thing to do is grind for rep and gear. The point where you only see improvement in tiny increments instead of leaps and bounds as you level and obtain new spell ranks and loads of available gear. The point where the grass on the other side of every fence is looking a bit greener.

I see the videos and hear the stories of different classes soloing old school raids and bosses, meanwhile I have to find groups for mobs that are immune to my frost snares that are in the low 70's. I see hunters and DK's doing AoE pulls that rival and sometimes surpass my own. In heroics I often fall behind other classes in the DPS ranks. While gear is a factor it seems to be much more than that.

I've played many different classes and each seemed to have their own "thing". Those one or two things that made them stick out and seem to perform amazingly in various situations. As a class who is designed to do raw DPS and nothing else it stings a bit to see other classes right along side me while still retaining versatility.

I'm not asking for nerfs to be dished out to other classes and I'm not crying for buffs for my own. I'm not giving up playing a mage and I'm not switching to an alt. I'm just saying that sometimes it feels like I'm a one trick pony whose trick isn't as impressive as the others.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Funeral - Savior of The Meek

It's normally against my gaming style, not to mention the nature of my in game character, to really care about the NPC's I deal with in the game. I traditionally take a mercenary approach to things, pay me to perform a service of collecting something or killing your enemies and I'll get the job done. As a Forsaken mage wielding the power of the elements at my finger tips the petty squabbles of the scattered tribes I interact with are below me... all except those poor little Oracles.

As I ran around Sholazar Basin attempting to free the captured Oracles I was actually mad. These little guys are the most pathetic and adorable creatures I've come across. My heart was almost broken every time I was unable to rescue on of them from their horrible fate. The cries of pain and sadness coming from them was enough to get a few beats from my black rotting heart.

I don't understand it either little guy... no you didn't do anything bad. Don't worry, the scary corpse of a mage is here to save you.

Aside from carrying out my own Bronson-esque style revenge on those jerks hurting the Oracles I've been busy getting rep. I had two days of failed heroics, which was made worse by the fact that it made me unable to complete the dailies which would have put me a good deal closer to exhalted with the Kirin Tor. Finally today I landed in a great group and we stormed through Utgarde Pinnacle, Drak, and HoL. The Emblems of Heroism are stacking up and I'm on my way to getting something other than Northrend quest rewards to wear.

After the heroics my guild teamed up with another small guild and we pulled off a ten man Kara run. Full clear in a little over an hour. No one got any upgrades but we mainly went because a large majority of people had never even been inside. I've got to say it was pretty cool.

Other than rep and emblems it's all about saving every last copper I can to finally get my epic flying. I also need to level up tailoring so I can use the epic speed magic carpet. I'm using the regular one that Rytes bought for me now and there is no way I could go back to flying on a dragon or some weird scorpid-lion... the magic carpet is where it's at.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Almost 80... Like, Really Almost.

There it is. Level 80 sitting just ahead, a simple 129xp before I reach it. I was going to level last night before I went to bed but I decided not to. I want to do something interesting for this, my final ding (until we get another expansion or something anyway). The timing just didn't feel right, there weren't any guild members online and honestly I didn't want level 80 to come off of some random Scourge mob. The problem is that I can't think of how I want to ding 80.

My first thought was doing it by running through the gates of an Alliance city, discovering the territory and leveling. Then I remembered that I've already discovered the major cities in the Black War Bear mount raid. Scratch that. There were suggestions about timing the level with an achievement for a super double ding, but the reality is that I couldn't time that right now if I wanted, basically anything is going to cause me to level.

At this point it looks like I'm going to just head to Icecrown and fly as high as I can. Once I've reach the top of the sky I'll point myself towards the Scourge armies and start flying. Upon reaching the back corners of the Lich King's domain I'll ding level 80 and hopefully get a nice screenshot to go along with it.

If anyone reads this and has a suggestion you've got about four hours before I long on and do it. Give me an idea, please...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

For Once I'm A Hero Instead of An Errand Boy.

The desire for lore and the urge to level have always pulled me apart in WoW. I completely enjoy the deeper parts of the lore to the point that I've spent hours clicking through WoWWiki discovering the story lines of characters around the world. My problem is that while questing I tend to focus on experience gain and reaching the next level, tending to just skim or sometimes entirely skip the quest text in an attempt to finish as soon as possible. In the past I've tried to make an effort to slow down but it doesn't work for me. Perhaps it's because a majority of the quests don't feel important to me, I just feel like I'm running an errand. Working a job to simply obtain a paycheck at the end of the week, the paycheck in this case being experience points.

That has changed somewhat with the release of Wrath. I've actually encountered a couple of quests that drew me in and made me feel like I was participating in something beyond killing a set number of mobs. Granted, many of these quests I've enjoyed were the same setup as before, but they did it in an interesting way. One is a quest where you have to defend an hourglass, only your future self shows up and helps you out. The first thing I thought of when I saw my future self was that it sucks I don't have better gear in the future. I'd hate to think I was still wearing the same stuff.

The best part of this quest is that after you've completed it your future self sends you a few whispers. It's funny for me to see that Blizzard acknowledged that the "I don't have better gear in the future" thought would be one of the first to go through players heads.

The real gem started with the completion of the Dragonblight quests when my screen darkened and I was shown the Wrathgate cinematic. I've seen it before, even posted about it, but having it actually be a part of the game was awesome. Following that I was informed that my home city had been overrun. It was the first time I had an actual emotional reaction to a quest. The home city of my race, my people, the place where I banked and used the auction house was now gone. Not only was it gone but I was tasked with helping reclaim it. It's one of the few times in WoW were I was put in a position of being an actual hero, I had a purpose beyond collecting or killing... the future of the Forsaken was in my hands.

As I stood before Varimathras I knew that Wrath was different. That the future of The Horde and The Alliance would never be the same. In the life of the character Funeral, this was an epic moment.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Riding In Style And Death To The Alliance.

Faced with shoddy internet service in Alaska and a crazy work schedule, Rytes managed to hit level 70. After which we headed out and got her a flying mount. We spent about an hour just flying around Outlands and exploring. We made the mistake of accidentally flying over an Alliance town which got us shot out of the sky and having to make a complicated corpse run. Other than that things went pretty smoothly. During the week I reached 77 and bought the cold weather flying skill. It's been really nice being able to avoid the pesky mobs I don't feel like bothering with and just go to where I need. It's also made exploration a bit easier.

As I was looking through my achievements I noticed that I hadn't earned the ones for completing the set number of quests in Howling Fjord or Borean Tundra despite having done every quest I came across. I knew I had to be missing some central hubs somewhere so I set out flying and sure enough I found them. Somehow I missed the entire D.E.H.T.A encampment in the Tundra and the ice islands off the coast of Howling Fjord. I finished up the tundra and have been working on finishing up the last twenty quests I need for the Fjord (man... 20 quests).

Yesterday afternoon as I was about to go to bed (my wife and I are night people and have both worked night shifts for years) I signed on my bank alt to check my auctions. As I was about to sign off I saw someone in trade chat say they were looking for a couple more people for a raid on the Alliance leaders. Figuring it would probably fall apart I told myself it wouldn't hurt to stay on for another half hour and see how it turned out. Well, it turned out that this PUG actually did clear all of the Alliance bosses and now I've got an awesome Black War Bear to ride around on, not to mention another five achievements checked off the list.

We hit Ironforge first and I was assigned to the one group tasked with killing and keeping the Alliance busy. Everything went off without a hitch at all four bosses except Stormwind, which was because half of us got left behind on the tram and so there was a wipe. Once we all rezed and pulled him things went smoothly.

The funniest part of the day is I have an addon that keeps track of my kos list. If I add someone to the list and they come on my screen the addon displays their name and the reason I've added them to the list. Well two days ago I got jumped by a pally while I was out questing. When I rezed and came back we literally had a five minute fight, which I won... but five minutes of 1v1 combat is crazy. We each had to use every trick in the book, but luckily I was better than him =). So as I'm standing in the doorway of the king of Stormwind there are no Alliance in view, but the group hunter says he sees some dots heading out way. Suddenly my addon displays "*pallys name* - The pally I fought for 5 minutes". What are the odds? Needless to say he died again.

We did Exodar last and someone noted that World Defense was saying that Silvermoon was under attack. As soon as we downed the space goat leader I opened a port to SM and all forty of us stormed through completely ruining the Alliance counter-raid. After that we made an ill-fated attempted at Sunwell, which was fun, but unsuccessful. Not bad for PUGin' it though.