Sunday, May 31, 2009

Heartbreak Hotel, No Tickets for You!

Tomorrow is the beginning of E3, the "Electronics Entertainment Expo" in downtown Los Angeles. (E3 is where Sony, Microsoft and other software & hardware sellers show off their latest & greates. Blizzard usually has a large presence there as well) A friend of mine tried to get me a ticket, but no luck. For the first time ever, this year you can BUY them, but they are over $400 each. (I had briefly considered it when this was announced last fall, but given the the current economy, as well as the crazziness of the cost, I decided not to)

And Saturday was the second & last time that Blizzcon tickets went on sale. The first time, my other half and I had both our PCs logged in and hitting F5 trying to get tickets. I got closer than she did, but tix ran out when I was still 1,500th in line.

Since I'm out of town this weekend, Kattastrophe was left alone trying to get tickets. Twas not meant to be... Tickets ran out, and her last noted update said "6% left, 316 people in line ahead of you". Evidently the % left didn't update as often as the number of folks in line does. A little heartbraking.

It's an odd thing, and/or an interesting problem to have: a product/event so popular, that you can't get enough "stuff" (tickets) to sell. Though to be honest, Anaheim is not the largest venue here in southern California. Perhaps Blizzard keeps it small to keep it so "intimate". (17,000 people is a fairly small number of attendees for many conventions) Maybe it's an attempt to keep them rare, and therefore more desirable, but it does make you sad that you can't go ti an event like this.

I guess we'll be using (for the first time ever) Pay per View. Evidently you get a pet or something with your purchase, and someone in the house wants it.

Badly... lol

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bad Boys, Bad Boys: Bad Spotsmanship

I've played literally hundreds of hours of multiplayer videogames; HALO, Gears of War and tons of others, and more recently a couple dozen Battlegrounds. One thing always stays the same: people love to act like jerks to each other.

The biggest jerk things I've seen are enemy players waiting in the graveyard for people to resurrect (what we call spawn camping in other games) so that you are attacked/killed before you can even buff youself, or just dragging out a game (by the winners) that should have ended quickly, just for honor points. I've been on teams that were victims and the guilty. ( I got yelled at for saying to cap the final flag or to leave the spawn area)

EDIT - this wasn't supposed to be posted yet, but thanks to me doing this on my phone, I "oopsed" and here it is.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Twink-le, Twink-le, Little Star. How I Wonder How BLUE you are...

We all see twinks, and if you've ever played a Battleground (or Arena, I guess) you've played against (and been killed by) them. You know, the level 29 guy with all blue equipment, and the ability to kill you in 2 hits (or one!) Yeah, those guys.

I'll be honest here: I'm a *little* envious of them. Heck, I spent several days grinding through Warsong gulch, just to get a silly sword (and I got the ring -Protector's Band- a couple days before that) So this is NOT a dig at them. They put in a TON of time and gold to create them. (and to be honest, the only thing that really pisses me off are the rogues. None of their abilities, BY THEMSELVES are all that bad, but the combination they have is just horrid: stealth, ability to stun FOR 8-10 SECONDS, and immunity to stun (the last is the worst) seems to leave them mostly invulnerable, and WAY too deadly.

I know that the auction house (AH) offers many things that are cool, but it still doesn't really explain ALL the stuff they get, since much of it is "BoP" (binds on pickup) or is a quest reward, or simply never makes it (or rarely) onto the AH.

So, my question is this: HOW do people get all this stuff, and still remain a low enough level to be so lethal? This is NOT a dis on twinks or anything. It's a serious question.

For example, I get curious about who has what, especially Paladins that are around my level, so I do a lot of "Inspect"-ing. (right click on a toon to highlight them, then right click on their picture and "Inspect" is a pull down option) The other day, I ran across a level 29 pally that is clearly a twink:
(color represents item color - note, all blue except for one green)

Frostreaver Crown.........................Helmet ..drop/AH ...lvl 27 ....182 armor.. +4.. str ..+15 sta ...+4 spi
Sentinel's Medallion.........................
Neck .....PvP ..........lvl 28.....none ..........+8 agi ....+5 sta
Azure Shoulderguards of Soldier...Shoulder 4 Aces... lvl 20.....151 armor.. +5 str.... +5 sta....+5 crit
Caretaker's Cape............................Back ....PvP......... lvl 28.... 25 armor ......+6 sta ...+4 spi ...+70 armor .+7 spell power
Shining Silver Breastplate..............Chest .created ..lvl 24 .....214 armor ...+14 str ..+6 sta ....+4 all stats
Green Iron Bracers.........................Wrist ..created... lvl 28....... 131 armor.. +5 sta ...+9 sta
Grubbis Paws .................................Hand.. Boss...... lvl 29......144 armor.... +6 str... +5 agi ...+9 spi ..+15 agi
Highlander's Lamellar Girdle ............Waist... PvP........ lvl 28......128 armor.. +11 str ..+4 sta.. +5 int
Dreamsinger Legguards ................Legs ....drop/AH ...lvl 21.....179 armor ...+8 str ...+8 sta.. +5 spi
Highlander's Lamellar Greaves.......Feet ....PvP ...........lvl 28..... 157 armor ..+6 str ...+6 agi.. +4sta... +4 int.. +7 sta
Protector's Band............................. Finger... PvP ........lvl 28 ..... none ..........+6 str... +6 agi ...+4 sta
Seal of Wrynn ................................Finger .....Quest ....lvl ? ...... none ..........+3 str +...3 agi ..+4 sta... +4int.. +3 spi
Rune of Duty.................................. Trinket..... PvP .......lvl 20......none ..........+4 sta ....+3 health /5sec
Insignia of the Alliance ...................Trinket .....PvP .......lvl ?........none .........Removes all movement impairing effects
Crescent of Forlorn Spirits ............1hnd Axe .Quest... lvl ? .......22.8 DPS ....+29 spell power ......+8 crit
Resplendant Guardian ...................Shield ....drop/AH...lvl 26......680 armor ...+14 block ....+7 sta... +7 spi ..+5 block

I plan to ask this guy how he did it. (his name is a fart joke, and even as "old" as I am, I still find funny) If he responds, etc, I'll post what he has to say...

I have an idea as to how SOME of it's done:
  1. Plan ahead, and figure out EXACTLY which items you want to get.

  2. Plan out which instances to go on, and when.

  3. Get a (or 2 or 3?) level 80 (or whatever) level buddies to help out.

  4. Enter the instance as a group/party as soon as twink is JUST high enough level to enter.

  5. Disband the party in the instance to prevent the twink from getting unnecessary Exp.

  6. Lvl 80's kill all "un-needed" mobs. Since twink is not in party, (s)he gets no Exp.

  7. Twink gets first hit on Bosses, lvl 80's clean up.

  8. Twink picks up good loot.

Or, if the "random" dropped stuff is where the good loot comes from, get even more buddies to join in, so that the Exp are diluted and prevents the twink from levelling too quickly. And, I would assume, the same buddies would get together and repeat the process for THEIR twinks.

To me, that sounds like a TON of planning work, and cooperation. And that's exactly why it doesn't bother me. (unless I just got 2 hit killed by them ;) ) The amount of effort it takes is just amazing.Now, I will say it's just a *BIT* unfair when a group of 3-5 (or more) of these uber twinks go into PvP and mop the floor with the rest of us poor mortals. As long as it's over quickly, I won't complain TOO much. It's not fair, but it isn't really bad sportsmanship, and I still get my Mark and Honor Points.

Bad Sportsmanship will be the subject of another post...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Quick "Protector's Sword" update

I FINALLY got enough honor points to buy the sword. My DPS barely went down.

My stats? (with no buffs)

With Verigan's Fist - 47.7 DPS
With the sword - 44.8 DPS

With my "full, normal" buffs (Devotion Aura, Seal of Justice andBlessing of Might) my stats are:

With Verigan's Fist - 52.6 DPS
With the sword - 49.7 DPS

I am REALLY happy with that.

The BIGGER difference is my armor:

(full buffs)

With shield - 2202
without shield - 1557

So I trade a ~6% loss in DPS for a 41% increase in armor (and a faster attack/more crit chances) That's easy math in MY book!

*Note to anyone that doesn't know honor points - For each type of PvP battle you do in a Battleground, you don't get regular experience points. You get Marks of Honor for participating(3 for a win, 1 for a loss) and Honor Points for you individual performance (flag captures, enemies killed, etc) Each of the Battlgrounds (well, most of them) have a special merchant you can buy special PvP equipment from. Swords, armor, trinkets and such, and you pay for them in a combination of Marks of Honor and Honor points.

The sword I bought cost 316 honor points and 30 Marks of honor. The honor points were easy (for this purchase) but the Marks is what took me a while.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Knights in White Satin, (or Green Armor?): What's a retankadin anyways?

This is mainly a followup to how I am playing WoW at the moment... if you look at my talent tree on my wowarmory LINKaDILLY you can see pretty clearly that I am speccing a retribution paladin.

I enjoy being flexible and doing damage. But, my style of play is to run head-long into a fight and, in the process, get the ever-living-crap beat out of me, sort of tank style. To mitigate this, I am trying to more robust on my defense. Not sure I'm anywhere near there, but time will tell...

To put this in perspective, I am ususally running as part of a duo; me and a healing shammy. This means I MUST be able to function as a tank, at least in PVE and in what little PvP that I do. (limited to Battlegrounds at the moment) So there you have me: a retribution paladin that thinks he's a tank.

With that segue, I'll mention that I am currently hanging out at level 29, and "farming" Warsong Gulch. Why? I want the Protector's Sword. I know most ret pally builds I've seen center around 2-handed weapons, but I REALLY like having a shield. (I don't have one now, because my current weapon, Verigan's Fist, a two handed mace, is by FAR the best weapon I have found)

The problem with 2 handed weapons?
  • You lose the extra off-hand item, which costs all sorts of upgrades (+ strength, etc)
  • You lose a TON of armor (remember my retankadin aspirations) At the moment, if I could add my shield, I'd gain nearly 35% more armor (going from ~1,500 to ~2,100)
  • Your attacks are slow. I am maxxing out my ability to hit crit and stun. More attacks perminute means more opportunity to stun. (Seal of Justice and Heart of Crusader) And in my book, that's AWESOME.

Now, that's not to say that I'm not giving anything up by going one-handed. WoW is most definitely a zero-sum game: to gain something, it usually means giving something else up. In this case it's the outright amount of Damage Per Second (DPS) I can put out. But, IMHO (and I'm no "WoW theorist" with the math to back this up) the extra armor and the extra chances to stun are worth the loss...

Cheers for now...

About How & Why I Play WoW: The Song Remains the Same

I am an avid gamer. Not causal, not hardcore. I belong to an online gaming community dedicated to adult, mature gamers. It started around a bunch of HALO2 players that got sick of all the whiny brats, but has evolved into a larger, more diverse group. It's still very XBOX/360 centric, but there are PS3 players and WoW players as well.

One day, after a rather brutal run in Warsong Gulch, I lamented about it, and how I was trying to get better equipped. (As of now, I'm a level 29 Paladin, somewhat equipped - I have no blue/purple stuff, only green) The replies I got were "don't worry about it, just get your ass up to level 80 where the REAL fun begins."

Huh? Come again?

Sorry, but I'm not going to grind away for 1-3 MONTHS just so I can start "playing the good stuff". This is supposed to be fun, NOT a job. Maybe you can get from 1 to 80 in less time, but that's not the point. I want to have FUN getting there. (if I get there at all)

Who be me?

So what is it that I "do do" while I'm playing? Im playing on the Auction House, buying, selling stuff, or farming for stuff to sell. The whole economy aspect of WoW is facinating; the daily/weekly cycles, the lunatic over pricers, the idiot price cutters and everything in between.

I'm running around collecting pets (albeit half-heartedly) or exploring or running all the quests I can find. At some opint I even hope to get into the whole underlying storyline. It's like second life, but with magic, a purpose, and no eye pupils.

More on this later...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A battle for Stormwind: Safety Dance

Last night I was selling/auctioning off a last bit of loot in Stormwind, when Carbonite (one of my plug-ins) starts pulsing, and I see on the local defense that Stormwind is under attack. The blinking circles are located near the battle masters and me being me, I ran over.
As I ran up the corridor to the King's Chamber, I saw a few corpses littering the ground; mostly guards, but a couple Horde as well. I continue on. In the "Throne Room", nothing. In the Battlemaster's room, nothing. I zoom in my map, and see that the ruckus is in one of the side rooms.

I mosey on in, and I see about a dozen Horde all firing into one corner, withe half of them actually in the corner in a massive scrim. I think there were about 10-12 of them in the room. After waiting a minute or two, I finally see the ONE Alliance character in the middle, and it's King Varian Wrynn. He's a regular Cuisinart in the corner, spinning like a fiend, with all the Hordites pouring damage into him. Wrynn keeps spinning, dancing, damaging the Horde, only to have them healed up.

From what I saw, there were 6-7 tanks in the corner, a hunter (or something) with a MASSIVE gun, a couple mage types, and one girl running around (healer, I think) I should have gotten a screen cap, but I was just too stunned. (I've never seen a real raid before this)

At this point he's lost maybe 20-25% of his health. As I sit watching (or in a few cases start jumping in front of the Horde guys to try to distract them) I saw a couple level 80 (elite) Alliance Guards run in, only to be cut down in a few seconds.
I got a little bored and went into the throne room, and I see a small fight down the hall, where one Horde straggler just got ripped apart but the now arriving Alliance players:

A death Knight with his minion
A druid in Tree Form
A few others
The Alliance mainly takes up position in the entrance to the fight room and starts working on them, with the Druish tree running around inside.
*SNAP* The Death Knight yanks someone out of the room, and the Alliance members annihilate him. Soon a few more Alliance PvP folk show up, rush the room, and the fight's over within another minute or so. (well, one Horde member had hidden somewhere, and tried to run out a few minutes later, but got killed ASAP)

VERY cool to watch as a n00b!

A word of warning to other newer folks out there:
  • If you do nothing in the raid, you cannot be hurt. You can dance, spit, sleep, whatever, and the raiders can't hurt you. (you are "PvE" - player versus environment - and immune to PvP attacks)
  • If you are flagged "PvP", you are a target.
  • Enjoy the spectacle!
  • "Check out" the enemy players (or alliance players) Bring up their character icon next to yours (being careful NOT to attack!) and right click their picture. Select "Inspect" and you can see all their equipment.
  • If you heal, or participate in ANY way, you will be flagged and become a target.

Friday, May 22, 2009

One Tin Soldier Rides Away - (a Little Better Equipped)

As I alluded to (hell, I plain said it) I am going into some gory details about re-equipping my Pally with some better equipment. Based on my digging around various forums & blogs, the Paladin seems more equipment reliant than some classes, so this is MUCHO IMPORTANTE!!!

And for a starter, THE weapon to get is VERIGAN'S FIST LINKY . (well, for levels 20-29) It's the loot from a Paladin quest called "The Test of Righteousness" LINKY Everything I've read says this is THE weapon to have/get. (just look at the stats) But, as of yet, I still haven't compelted this quest, because I only recently found out about it. It's long, involves entering 3 different instances/dungeons and isn't easy.

As of now I have a sword & shield that are also loot from other Paladin quests. (I kind of prefer having a shield because it gives you one more item to have enchanted/etc)

Anyway, back to the story at hand...

It had the strong belief that I was sorely under equipped. To verify this, I did a little looking around.

I went into and looked up my toon. There's a neat functionality to your character's info: it helps you find upgrades for each item. If you mouse over an item, it will give you the information to one side, with all the pertnent information about damage, armor and enchantments, etc. That's neat, but it's the same information you can get in-game. Now if you look right next to the item icon will be a little arrow (see picture to the left)

Now you take your mouse and mouse over this arrow and the box changes. If you move your mouse over this and click it, it starts to open up a world of possible changes you can make. It shows the options you have right now (items that you can use) as well as items that may be useful to you in a few levels

So what the heck do you do with this info? Me being me, I created a spreadsheet that listed out all my equipment, along with the relevent stats:

(I appologize for the fuzziness of the image, it's a .gif, but this blog still insists on making them less than ideal)

I looked at them, and colored them based on how "good" they were. Red = horrible, Orange = needs help, White = "ok", Green = pretty good, Blue = Class specific (pretty good)

I then went through each equipped item I had, looking for possible upgrades that I could use AT MY CURRENT LEVEL. I didn't pick blues or Boss Drops since they are nearly impossible to find on the Auction House (AH). So based on this, I created a "wish list" of sorts, that gave me an idea of what types of items to look for in the AH:

With this list in hand, and about 18 gold I earned by mining, I went into the AH and started spending. I bought the stuff I could find, or something similar if I couldn't. I also realized I had an open finger for rings, a helmet spot, as well as 2 trinket spots and a necklace spot. (turns out I can' get trinkets yet, or a helmet) but I spent just about all 18 gold, and made a HUGE change.

I got new everything, with the exception of sword & shield. (I also got a necklace and second ring, and replaced my first ring)

I went from 1329 armor up to 1419 armor. 90 points! Not too shabby! (though not as large as I had hoped, but there is a brighter spot - see below)

Yes, this is a LOT of stuff to type in , but it helps see if I missed anything, and keep track of what I'm doing, as well as help out the next time I need to upgrade.

As I mentioned I was a tad upset that I hadn't had a gain of 200-300 in armor. In fact, when I went back to, I didn't even get the full 90 armor points, because of some of my other stat changes. I only gained 86.

(taken from my WoWarmory page)

But this bit of data shows something else: I made MASSIVE gains in my abilities, especially in strenth and stamina. Did I make the right choices? I dunno!

The bad news is that I went back in to the Battleground and got skunked just as bad as I had originally. The "real" good news is that I am now able to practically solo Deadmines, and can handle a LOT more AI enemies (mobs)

Cheers for now!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

And the Beat(ing) Goes on...

Over the last couple weeks, I've been slogging it out, and levelling dearest Balthazario. For a bit of fun and a change of pace, I decided to go into the Battle Grounds.

I was level 19 at the time, and we went into Warsong Gulch. I learned the hard way that the cutoff is "on the 9s". My girlfriend (Kattastrophe) was level 20 and we tried to join as a group. Since I was 19, I went off into one group, and she went into another. Woops. Anyhow, I did "ok" considering this was my first PVP effort, and I had a lot to learn... among them:

  • Exorcism only works on NPCs. Not players, their pets or minions. (which sucks, because it's the only real "range" attack a Paladin has, and is one of 3 different spells I use a LOT)

  • My control/dashboard is less than ideal

  • I need to learn a rotation of attacks/etc

  • My equipment is less than ideal

Actually, I didn't learn/figure about the level 19 thing until I had levelled up to level 20. This time Kattastrophe & I could fight together, but now we were the very lowest level in the group.

In one fight, I was going 1v1 versus a level 21 rogue. I got my ass handed to me. Rogues are nasty in PvP to being with, but even with my stun spell (Hammer of Justice) I was hardly doing any damage. I still managed to be the second highest ranked player on the Alliance team (and we lost) but it was clear I had no clue what I was doing, even

After getting up to level 22, and doing WORSE, if that's possible, I decided to start grinding soome loot and buying better equipment. (that will be the subject of my next post)

I have also read up some and found out that I am running a "Retribution Paladin" (aka ret -pal, ret-a-din, ret-paladin) Well, mostly. I think "ret-tank-adin" may be more appropriate, with a focus on PvE. Kattastrophe is a Shaman Healer, so when we quest together, I am tanking. (and when soloing, I rely on my durability.

Just this "simple" piece of knowledge opens up an entirely different a larger can of worms: how to spec your talents, which will be a subject of much consternation and grumbling of the following post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let's get this party started...

So I'm back playing WoW after a 6 or 7 month absense... and I had only played for a month to begin with. "Back then", my main was Blood Elf Warlock, that I got up to level 27. I still have him, but I haven't even re-placed my talent points... (so I'm "untalented") Vexell

My current attempt is a Draenei Paladin named Balthazario. I was getting escorted around by my other half, with her playing her Drae Shaman. I've since gotten within 1 level of her, so we are now running around as a two-some. Getting her help has been invaluable.

I've got lots more to say, but this will get things rolling.