Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pyromantic, am I?

I like fire. The colors of the fire I throw are vibrant. The flame has life, and feels good when I cast it. It crackles and pops while I prepare the spell, almost escaping sometimes. I like to watch my targets leap into flame when a fireball or scorch spell lands just right. I imagine the fire makes my palms tingle as I conjure it, warming my fingertips as I send it off.

Does that make me a Pyromaniac? I'd rather call myself Pyromantic. Is this a word? My spell checker placed a lovely red line under the word. I'm leaving it. Take that, Webster!

I imagine my arcane spells tickle when I cast them. I always grin a little when I Blink. Arcane explosions have a cheerful little sound to them. Arcane bolts, well, they just feel funny. I hate being tickled, so I think I'll pass on those.

When I use frost spells, I don't feel the chill like I was in some sort of deep freeze. It feels something like death. I don't use frost bolt, cone of cold, or blizzard. I infrequently use frost nova when I'm about to die. Since frost feels deathlike to me, I don't use it. Guess I won't be doing many arenas on Esoterique.

Monday, July 21, 2008

An explanation...

The next three posts are some I had to move from my previous site, as my husband prepares to shut it down. The idea of having a blog site is neat, but the actual writing to it is daunting for him, and I wasn't going to be the sole author on his site.

A little bit about me, and my gaming experiences

When my husband told me he wanted to start a blog site, and said I would be posting to it, I had this crazy idea that I would try out a new "free" massive multi-player online game a week, and give my thoughts on it. Before I give you my first review, a little background on my playing seems to be in order.

I have been interested in games of some sort most of my life. Aren't we all? When I was growing up, we played a lot of Monopoly, Scrabble, Sorry, Life, and many other board games. At school, we brought our jacks, marbles, and Chinese jump ropes. As my brother got old enough, Atari was introduced to the house. I loved it, but was soon banned from playing as I was too heavy handed with the controller. Devastated, I retreated into a book whenever my sister and brother were allowed to play the Atari. My brother got older, and the first Nintendo system came into the house. It belonged to him alone, and sometimes he deigned to allow me to play a few levels of Super Mario Brothers. I stunk at it. I guess video games were not meant for me. After enduring less than half an hour of playing under the watchful eye of my brother, I usually gave up and went back to my book.

Not too long after the Nintendo system crossed our doorstep, my parents bought their first computer. I don't remember much about it, except that it had an amber monitor, and a few text games on it. I tried playing Hammurabi, couldn't figure it out, so it sat in my parents room, probably figuring out the bills. That christmas, my dad brought home a Radio Shack computer, complete with a Windows type operating system. The old computer became mine. At first I used it to type up my homework. Having a computer was no real treat. Then, one day, a friend from church told me about how she called other computers with her computer and talked with friends and played games, and I just had to try it out. I had a 300 baud modem, and she gave me a copy of Telix with the number to her favorite Bulletin Board System. I called, connected and was immediately transfixed. THIS was my kind of fun!

I was quickly pulled into a huge new world, with people I never would have found myself hanging out with in school, meeting in shabby pizza parlors because all the good ones had already banned their meetings. I was, most often, the best looking girl there, but not the best known. Between user group meetings, I'd hang out in the text games. First there was Kyrandia, which I never would have figured out on my own, then there was Trade Wars. When I wasn't in a game, I was in the chat room, discovering new action commands and chatting with friends.

I did have more than that to my high school days. I went to dances, had a job at a fast food place, was active in my church youth group and another youth group. The computer, as yet, had not consumed my days. I met my first husband at one of those user group meets, and life moved forward. I had a baby, moved to western New York, and looked for a BBS out there. By then, BBS systems were going away, being replaced by services like America Online and Compuserve. To me, the internet was a scary place, and my few bulletin boards were just fine. But, my first husband, much like my current one in only this respect, had to have bigger and better. So we subscribed to AOL. I logged into a chat room, but it wasn't the same. How could you get used to a chat room when the people were never the same? I tried a few of their puzzle games, and found them entertaining, but for then, I had better things to do with my time. I was a restaurant manager, home only 2 days a week, and the days I did work were long. Who had time for the computer?

Eventually, I found out I could "surf" the internet and look at web pages. I signed up for Yahoo mail, and downloaded the messenger. All of a sudden, friends I hadn't heard from in years were on my messenger. I found Pogo, a site full of puzzle, word, and online casino games, and spent a few fun nights just chatting on the messenger and popping balloons. It was a nice escape from the ever messier house and piles of bills. Still, it was a short escape, and I went back to the real world and took care of business. In time this led to a divorce, which was in the best interest of everyone concerned, and I and my girls moved in with my mom for a short time. The computer was available there, but there was no time. I had to work, I had to take care of my girls, and I had to contribute to the household. We moved out into a rental, and I got some bit of freedom back. A bit, because I only had it when the girls were asleep. So I had my date on the computer. Television on in the background for noise, I'd play games, and eventually look for people to talk to on my messenger. There I met Tom, and he introduced me to his friends, about 100 of them, in Star Wars Galaxies. It felt familiar, almost like my old BBS, but I had a body, and I didn't have to guess how to word my next move. I played, we dated, we split up, we got back together, we married, then we started playing World of Warcraft. I had the opportunity to try some games in beta(Seed,Pirates of the Burning Sea) and some by loan through friends(Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Anarchy Online, Battlefield). Currently, I am playing a level 40 paladin on the alliance side of a player-vs-environment server and have a mess of characters from level 10-70 on the horde side of a player-vs-player server, in a guild full of people from my Star Wars Galaxies experience.

Gaming in a Full House

It's 3 in the afternoon, my oldest daughter is walking to pick up her sisters from school. My husband is off picking up his half of our 7 kids. I'm sitting at my desk, riffling through the junk mail, keeping the baby from tearing the living room apart, and loading up Ventrilo and World of Warcraft. It's the quietest bit of time I'll have, and I have a game plan. DelgadaTawny Windrider needs a flying mount, and she's been waiting patiently in Netherstorm while her counterpart, Rowena, has been putting all the spoils up for auction in Orgrimmar. I figure I have about 15 minutes available to do 2 quests before the girls show up, then another 45 minutes of playtime punctuated with checking on chore progress before the rest of our happy horde come tumbling in the door. Delgada awakens in the Area 52 inn, checks for water and food, and runs for her first quest.Dr. Boomb's minion.

Cut away from Delgada flaying a Mana Wraith to me turning in my chair as the door opens and my three older girls enter the house. I send one into the kitchen and the rest in to the living room, and turn back to the task. Two quests done, about 500 gold left to go. I steer Delgada to her next quest, one that I can turn away from easily, as I am bombing a goblin from a stack of barrels. I toss happy little bombs , taking a second or two in between to yell out tasks to the girls, check out their work, and pull the baby out of the bathroom before she uses someone's toothbrush in the toilet again. This is close to how my next few quests go, picking up debris from a trash heap, killing demons for vengeance and profit, collecting insignias from strange ethereals, all the while barking orders and chasing a toddler.

The girls have somewhat finished their tasks, and are busy keeping their little sister from using the dvd player as an easy bake oven . Delgada has managed, miraculously, to amass another 200 gold, leaving her short just 300 gold to purchase no place like homeher mount. The scraping sound of the station wagon pulling into the driveway is my signal to use Delgada's hearthstone. As my other three children walk in the door, Delgada turns in her last quests and sends all her saleable items to Rowena for some extra money making while she sets up in the inn for the night.

How does your life punctuate your game play? I welcome your comments!

WTT Epix for nap...

photo of art by Liz EpsteinIt has been a busy week in our small house. Laundry is at the half done mark as it usually is, the kitchen sink is full of dishes, the living room is strewn with toddler toys and Rock Band accessories, and I won’t even poke my head into the doorway of the kids rooms for fear of losing what little sanity I have left. I am tired! It’s been a busy week at work, too, what with special promotions and staff meetings. All I want is a nap! But, no, it’s Saturday, 4:30 server time (1:30 my time), and we’re going to go kill a king's court of tall fat men, then attempt to do damage to a large drooling one eyed loin cloth wearing ….ogre? I log out of my bank toon/twink (who was happily looking at the shiny things for sale and snapping up bargains), and log in my shadow priestess. She buys herself a few unstable elixirs and some mana potions, then takes some enhancing food out of her bank (how fish stays fresh in a bank vault boggles the mind, but it hasn’t killed her yet. Maybe because she is undead?). Someone sends out a summons and whisks her to the Blades Edge Mountains, and Gruul's Lair. Five minutes later, someone whispers in her ear. ”You know, we could really use Shawndra instead. Would you mind?” Of course she minds, but when you can’t find a tank, and you’re an officer, it doesn’t make much difference. I reluctantly sit her outside the instance and log her out. Shawndra logs in, scrounges for food and money to buy a couple of unstable flasks and health potions and accepts a summons to the Lair.

King Maulgar and his court are fractious today, and they are not put in their place until the 3rd try. By this time I am tired of people trying to tell me how to tank a mob that won’t let Shawndra stand still long enough to cast more than a taunting yowl in his general direction. I am cranky,and the next person with "helpful" advice gets critically hit with a wall of text gibberish. With Delgada, if I nod for a second in between mind flay and mind blast, it makes no large difference. It might even help, as she seems to be climbing quickly up the aggro charts these days. But having to pay attention for the whole fight….. I yawn as I hit the taunt button again, attempt to throw out a devastating armor sundering blow with her sword, only to find Shawndra running away in fear, right into Krosh Firebrand’s blast wave. She comes back to her senses, intervenes to take a blow from the warlock, and taunts him again before he casts death coil on her, sending her off again to the other side of the room in fear. I take a swig of my diet soda (caffeinated, to keep me from napping), recover, and hit the intervene button again.

King Maulgar and his court, having been soundly spanked by our raid group, give up one measly epic pair of hunter shoulders. I keep hoping for tanking shoulders, as it is the only non-epic piece of tanking gear Shawndra still uses, but at least this time she didn’t lose a roll to a tree. We move on, kill a few of Gruul’s minions, and sit down to refresh our flagging energies (and to allow our puppeteers to make use of the facilities and get refills on their snacks). Our fearless leader (well, maybe not completely fearless, he is in stealth) checks to see that we are ready, and sends the tanks in. Shawndra is not main tank, thankfully, even though I dare say she could have managed the fight nicely. She’s off tanking, trying to be second on the aggro table. This is very hard when Gruul is not hitting her and making her angry. Rage is in short supply. She yells an encouraging and health enhancing yell, and stands under the cave in. That should make her good and mad! She pops a nightmare seed, and hacks at Gruul’s ankle.

Well, Gruul mashed us soundly into the ground the first time. The second time, I was determined it would be the last. It wasn’t. I found myself running back again, looking at Shawndra’s dangerously low armor rating. One more was all she had left in her. I imagine her armor would have been severely dented, blood spattered, the ornamentation broken off, jagged cuts in spots like those a cheap can opener makes. By this time, my yawning was causing my eyes to water. She sat down in the doorway, ate a bit of crawfish, drank a kool-aid colored flask, and danced as she waited for the priests and paladins to bless her with their enhancing spells. “Everyone ready? Good. Tanks, go.” Shawndra walked out to the center, slammed her shield into Gruul’s kneecap, and started hacking at his ankle again. She switched ankles, slammed her shield into his other knee, yelled out how ugly and weak he was, and continued hacking at his ankle. She then went berserk, hacking more quickly at his calf, yelling encouragement to her teammates. The fight was almost over. The main tank went down, and Shawndra slammed her shield into his knee again, challenging him to put her down. The roof started caving in again, and Shawndra moved out of it, now fully angered and needing every bit of health she had left in her. She blocked, she parried, she yelled, she sundered, she struck at him fiercely. Then, a silly mage zapped him with an ice bolt, and the fight was over. Gruul was dead, and the raid rejoiced. He had been holding onto two pairs of pants and a headpiece. Shawndra somehow won the roll on the pants, only to find herself sitting in front of the equipment vendor later, feeling guilty. Her tanking pants were better than the tier 4 she was looking at, and her fury pants, well, she didn’t like losing all that hit rating. So I logged her out there to think about it.

I turned in my chair, and beheld my little house, overflowing with children. During the raid my niece had arrived, and my kids were having a jam session in the living room. The toddler was in bed “napping”. My husband had grabbed his latest magazine and locked himself in the bathroom. Through the screen door I saw a couple of kids running around the front yard. The hallway was clean, the kitchen had been tidied, and I could hear a load of laundry rinsing while the dryer tumbled. All seemed well with the world, so I got up, aimed for my chair, and looked at the clock. It was 4:30. I sighed, stifled another yawn, and went into the kitchen to whip up dinner instead.

Poor Delgada, I left her sitting in front of Gruul’s lair, under the hostile glare of very large and powerful ogres. Oh well, she will have to fend for herself. I NEED A NAP!

The Ultimate Fishing Outfit?

Del in her fishing gearAlright, another World of Warcraft themed post. I cannot possibly live up to the opinion piece Mark wrote, but I can hold my own when it comes to virtual reality.

Have you ever gone fishing? Right now I am talking real life, bait the hook, throw on a bobber and weight, cast the line, and sit for hours waiting for a tiny tug. You have? So have I. I enjoyed fishing when I was younger, when that was all it required of me. Fishing excursions have become a chore I don't look forward to in real life these days. I spend the bulk of my time untangling lines, re-baiting hooks, ducking away from mis-cast lines, and any other crises that happen while the children fish. My pole, inevitably, never leaves the chair I set it next to. Forget reading the book I chose for the occasion, I'm too busy keeping Bobby and Sally's(names changed to protect the underage) fishing poles strung, baited, and cast.

So, I find fishing in World of Warcraft very rewarding. Why? Because not only do I get to cast my line, I also catch fish! I also catch the flotsam, but since it is generally worth something, and doesn't tangle my line or steal my bait, I'm usually not upset about it.

Just like my children, I started out not able to catch much. Leveling fishing in the game doesn't involve me getting hooked by someone else's bad casting technique, so it is, although boring, not painful. Delgada, my new main, picked up fishing at level 5, but didn't do much without while she leveled. She found herself at the ripe age of 70 with about 75 points of fishing skill. Still too early for her to use her Nat Pagle's Extreme Angler FC-5000, She bought a Strong Fishing Pole and added a Shiny Bauble, and cast her line into the waters outside the Wailing Caverns. Have you ever eaten sushi? I'm not sure if a raw Deviate Fish tastes the same, but I imagine that the effects are similar. That, and the fish sell very well, as they can be cooked into Savory Deviate Delight. Yarrr!!! The perfect food for anyone wanting a face lift, but not wanting to go through the trouble of re-rolling a new character!

I'd like to take a moment to thank Blizzard for changing fishing. Since the change, fishing can be leveled anywhere. As most of my guild has no use for Oily Blackmouth or even Stonescale Eel, it was nice to be able to get my fishing up to 225 in the Barrens. An innumerable amount of fish caught, I equipped my good fishing pole, finished out my fishing, and traveled to Dustwallow Marsh to seek out Nat Pagle, the fisherman extraordinaire. He said he would teach me, if I could catch some rare fish to prove my skill. It was nice to have the mobility of an older character to do this quest. I brought him his fish, and he taught me to cast my line a little further, and bait my hook with more tasty morsels to lure in better fish. Happily, I rubbed my hearthstone and wished for home, to take my skills to the lakes of Zangarmarsh.

I'll save you all the gritty details of the skill levels I won in Zangarmarsh. Just know that there are very large insects out there and some nasty merfolk, who didn't appreciate me taking their dinner from under their gills. I met a fellow named Juno Dufrain, who, after I slipped him a few coins, remembered an old book he had laying around that would help me build on my short studies with Nat. Before that, I failed to mention Shawndra and her generous shipment of old crates. Without them, I may never have read the book on tracking fish. It was a great read!

Delgada finds herself, after an afternoon of testing her skill at the Stranglethorn Fishing Extravaganza, the proud owner of a new hat ,some high test line, and a nice pile of coins from selling the other fish she caught. Having those two items, she really wants to have an outfit, just for fishing. Now, before anyone tells me that she should make some blue overalls, let me remind you that Delgada likes showing off her knobby knees and elbows. She tried them on, and they looked horrible! So, listed below, you will find her intended fishing ensemble.

Lucky Fishing Hat or Weather-Beaten Fishing Hat

Mordant's Travel Tunic

Azure Silk Belt

Archmage Pants of the Owl

Fireheart Gloves of the Eagle with Enchant Gloves - Fishing

Nat Pagle's Extreme Anglin' Boots

Fun for fishing, looks good, and may keep me out of trouble with the few stats they provide.

Thanks for stopping by, leave your mark on the wall to let me know you came!

WoW Economy 101

New to the game? Re-rolling on a new server? Or are you just really bad with money, like I am? Well, since I started my invasion of the other faction, I seem to be making money a whole lot easier than before. Perhaps it is the change in the economy, with high level characters needing low level materials to level up trade skills they never knew they would want (Leatherworking on a priest? Engineering on a protection warrior?). Or perhaps I have learned something in my old age. Maybe it's both. Here I will try and break down how I have made 800 gold before level 40. This number may vary slightly from person to person, but you will have your mount by 30, with change to spare.

1) Never throw anything away...never!

If your bag gets full, vendor the gray items, save the other items until you hit the auction house. If you have old gear that is soul bound, better to sell it to a vendor than to throw it away. A copper saved is a copper earned!

2) Take two gathering professions.

You will have plenty of time at 60+ to level that profession you want. Before raiding, most crafted items aren't worth the raw materials they take to make them. With two gathering professions, you will be funding the high levels crafting needs, and making the money you need for later! I found that skinning and herbalism were a good team, as one is tracked on the mini map while the other you happen upon while you are adventuring.

3) Don't buy gear. Earn it.

Most of the gear you will need you can earn from quest rewards and from lucky drops while questing. The only thing you should buy on the auction house at lower levels is a wand, if you are a class that uses one, and the next item on my list...

4) Bags.

Buy the biggest you can afford. These, if they are the kind that bind on equip, will last you forever. When you get bigger bags, shift the smaller ones to the bank, and sell the ones you replaced on the auction house. The bigger your inventory is, the longer you can stay out in the wilds doing the questing you need to do.


Maximize your available slots as soon as you can. When you are in a hurry to go to an instance and need space, you can dump your inventory and run, safe from having to toss anything.

That is really all I have done. No bank alt, though having another character on that server to send things to is a good idea if you find yourself into questing, just to send it back when you are ready to auction.

Got any other great ideas on how to make money? I welcome comments!

(after posting the image you might notice Eso is holding on to some mining material. She forgot to return that to Astaani, who has ceased being a bank character and has begun leveling her own gathering professions)

Playing Alliance makes me feel....dirty.

I tried. I offered him Netherweave Bags, gold, runs through the Deadmines, my undying love (ok he already had that), even my leveling services. He would log in to his Night Elf hunter, Petaline, and turn to watch television. Then he would try to bribe my eldest daughter to play with her for a bit. She, in turn, would move her to a quest zone, turn around, and watch television. Petaline would stand there, bouncing with a vacant look on her face, then sit, then out of boredom she would reach out and hit the disconnect button for them.

I asked him if it was because she was such a low level. He said no, I just don't feel right playing Alliance. It makes me feel dirty. Dirty? We are all just people in this game, Alliance or Horde. Each side did horrible things to the other at one time or another. That doesn't mean we can't all get along, right? Why does playing one faction have to be wrong, and the other right? None of these arguments would turn him. So I guess I'll have to settle for blowing kisses off the Theramore pier to my forbidden love, Hacksoor, the rogue that stole my heart.

Greener Pastures?

I have a large amount of characters on the Horde side of the fence. Shawndra, a troll warrior, has been mothballed because a lot of my guild have brought out their own tanks, and there is rarely room for melee dps in our progression raids. Carlotta, an orc huntress, is and will probably always be, just my farmer and mixologist, as she is an elixir specialist. She does occasionally get out to play when there is an empty spot that needs a hunter, but that is infrequent. Delgada, an undead shadow priestess, had been my project, up until summer hit.

Summer comes, and my children have been increased by 3, sometimes 4 or 5 or even 6, depending on what neighborhood kids are over or if my niece is under my care. Raiding is out of the question. I really am not a big fan of doing the same battleground over and over and over, so that branch of PvP is out. Arenas are fun, but this requires more coordination that I don't have time for. So, I decided to hop the fence for the summer.

One morning, mid week, World of Warcraft loads up, and I log in. I hit the realm select screen, and look for a PvE server. Don't want a high population, or a low population. Right smack in the middle of the medium population list is Shu'halo. The name at least is interesting, so I start my character creation. Most of the races I just can't imagine sticking with past the starter zone. I decide on the most Horde looking of the bunch, and Esoterique is born. A magess, tall, dark, and sophisticated looking. I have never been able to stick with a mage past level 38. I am determined that Eso will be different. After all, she has that racial heal ability. Less dying is good!

I rip through the starter and secondary area alone. Eso makes sure to empty her bags whenever they are full, as she doesn't have much space. She gets a lucky drop, and her bag space increases, but not enough for her happiness. Once she was able, she took up herbalism and skinning, to help with her need for money. I decide, about then, that she needs a buddy to hold some of her things until she is ready to sell them, so Astaani, the draenei huntress, is born. I make sure she gets out of the starter zone in record time, and park her in the next town, ready to forward mail.

Well, Esoterique is a middle aged magess of 42 now, and Astaani is just starting her life at the young age of 23. I had a human paladin on another server that I had first attempted to hop the fence with, and since Shu'halo is feeling more homey, I brought her over to join my other two. Anselma is now a weathered veteran at the age of 52. I originally had been part of a guild called the Noobarian Adventurers, and they were a small bunch, but most of the guild were offline when I was playing. If you are looking for a guild with some fun lower level characters, this could be the place for you. I am used to a more bustling, talkative guild with lots of people in it, so I went browsing the Shu'halo forums, and found Inconceivable. They are a guild of about 200 characters, and from what I can tell, most, if not all, are 18 and over in age. They are progressing through 10 man content, and have stepped their toes into a couple of 25 men areas. And, they took my sad little retribution paladin and gave her a home. Thanks, Inconceivable, you guys are great. :)