Wednesday, November 25, 2009

You Are Invited!

Everyone is welcome to join Shawndra at her bountiful table. There will be stuffing, cranberry chutney, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and, of course, turkey! Shawndra is so proud, she even cooked the turkey. Here she is in her very first cooking show.

Join her in Orgrimmar for her special feast. The food is out of this world, and she'd love the company!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I've Been Doing - November Edition

If you've been reading lately, it is pretty obvious that Shawndra has me wrapped around her little finger. She has been getting the bulk of my attention, needing tanking gear and catching up to her status as a main character. Delgada has come out to do enchanting for Shawndra, and right back away she goes when she is done. Maura has been out to do leg patches and heavy borean armor kits for Shawndra, which has earned her some levels in leatherworking, but back away she goes when she is finished. Shawndra is working on finishing Zul'Drak, then she will be off to Storm Peaks.

Halinka got out a couple of nights ago. She got to run Heroic Trial of the Champion with a few guild mates and a couple pugs. The healer was a pug, and was undergeared, so the instance wasn't finished. Our hunter got a shiny new pair of shoulders, though, so the run was considered a success. Halinka, at the end of the run, had enough tokens to buy a new pair of gloves and a new wand. It was a pretty successful hour of play, all in all.

Real life has been busy. Getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas is always a chore. Add on top of that poor grades and homework contracts for my oldest daughter, checking in on my mom who is getting the holiday blues, and closing up the kitchen for holiday break kept me really hopping. I did have time, however, to hang out with John and Michelle on the Warcraft Outsiders Podcast recently. I had a lot of fun, and I hope you will all give it a listen, and check out their other shows, Video Game Outsiders and Pop Outsiders. Their shows are lively and witty, and a whole lot of fun! They also have a great community site with busy forums and, of course, a fabulous WoW guild on the Shadowsong server.

So, that is what I have been up to this month. I skipped October, but I plan for this to be a monthly article, because it gives me something to write and something to look back on. Now, I am off to hunt wild turkey and shoot some rogues. Wish me luck!

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Tanking Axe!


That is all. I'm late for work. But Shawndra assured me she wants this. Swords just aren't her style...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What's Under The Lid?

I am a lunch lady. This being the last week of school before Thanksgiving break, our district has a week of minimum days, so that teachers have time to finish grading and have conferences. In the kitchen, this means my day is squashed a little tighter, and we cut our menu down a bit. I'm not serving any less students, really. I'm just serving the same amount in less time. So, in order to make things easier on everyone, they take off the item that takes the most assembly, and our salad bar is cut down from five items to four easy to grab items.

You would think this would make things easier. Less items means less preparation time and faster serving times, right? Wrong! I have this nifty sheet of plastic covered ice cubes I use to keep the salad bar items cold. So that the children didn't have any ideas of popping the little water bubbles, I covered the empty space in my salad bar with a lid. The second grade were the first through, and by the time they had passed, I was losing my patience telling them to leave the lid alone, that there was nothing under it. So, I put a sign that said "DON'T TOUCH" on the lid. Then the questions began.

"What's under the lid?"
"Is it hot?"
"What's under the lid?"
"What is that?"
"Is it freezing cold?"
"What is that?"
"Why can't we have what's under the lid?"
"Is what's under there for the 6th graders?"
"What's under the lid?!?!"

The last threads of my patience were fraying. The sixth grade was next, and they passed the lid up like it wasn't even there. Today I am thankful that they could care less about eating fruits and vegetables. The first grade started lining up to eat, as they are last on minimum days, and I braced myself for more questions. The only peep I heard was,"That says Don't Touch.". Bless their little too-shy-to-ask hearts. I made it through the first day of minimum day week alive, and mean lunch lady didn't surface. Phew.

From Tuesday through the end of this week, I'll be serving a full salad bar. It's much easier than fielding the "What's under there?" questions. And my ice blanket will live past Thanksgiving!

I have a point to this story. With every new content patch, with every new expansion, there are many, many players who are also asking, "What's under the lid?". Nothing new, we are an inquisitive bunch by nature. Is it always good to know what is under the lid, though? Everyone plays this game differently. There are levelers, raiders, explorers, modders, achievement junkies and there are diggers. I'm sure that those that choose to delve into the test realm game files enjoy this game just as much as I do when I find a quest I've never experienced before. And all you test realm raiders, I'm sure it is just as exciting for you to figure out the strategy to a boss before it even hits the live realms. I know there are those of us that really get excited about reading about the changes before they hit the live realms. But should we open that lid and peek?

Shadowmourne is very slick looking. Shawndra, a connoisseur of axes, had to have a little help snapping her jaw back shut (without biting her lip, those tusks are painful!) when I described it to her. Then she heard about the process by which Arthas claimed Frostmourne, and figured the axe was just too much for her to handle. You see, she likes coming by her gear as easily as possible, and any idea of her weapon even trying to own her means it must be too much work. Had she not been next to me when I opened the lid and had one day come across Shadow's Edge, she may have gone ahead with the story line, forging the ultimate weapon. Now, Shawndra will be happy peering over my shoulder as I pore over weapons and armor, making her checklist of acceptable looking items that aren't out of her realm of ability, and also keeping a checklist of impossible to attain awards in the back of her head. They weren't impossible when they were just a code in the latest test realm patch, but after they were leaked and discovered in boss loot tables, I made the decision on what she was capable of. Should I have?

I remember our guilds first foray into Zul'Gurub. We didn't go in there expecting anything. We had no lists of loot we wanted. We didn't even have a dkp system sorted out yet. We went in there and wiped on the first two mobs. Did we cry at our lost chances at loot? No! We laughed, some until tears came, and walked in there and wiped again. Then we went in there, wiped the tears, rebuffed, and let the rogue pull, because that is what he was good at (he's good at a million other things, too, but I won't go there. ^.- ), and we got a little further. I don't remember what we got to that night. I know we had no idea what we were doing, and it was fun.

I would love the wonder of finding an untouched (for me) dungeon and going in with my buddies and giggling while we do everything wrong for the first two or ten tries. But, I know that we feel obligated now to look up boss strategies. So it won't be so strange to go in there, with someone else having blazed that trail for me. I might even know what the boss drops. No, I'm leaving the lid down on that one. You can't make me look!

The decision to open the lid is a personal one. I, for one, plan on not opening any lids and showing my fellows in queue anything that isn't in the game already. I'll wait until me and my buddies hit the first instance before I crack open the strategies, unless they don't mind blazing the trail with me. I sure hope they don't mind. Sometimes it's good to escape to somewhere noone has told you about...

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Best Change To The Game.

This is a shared topic from Blog Azeroth. Inspiration for this post comes from Lath at Hots and Dots. As of the start of this post, Autumnn of Grumble and Autumnn had also put in her two copper. Here are my two copper. Spend them, toss them in a wishing well, give them away, the choice is yours. If the topic makes you want to comment, but are afraid you'll say too much, blog about it!

I cannot give you a specific change that is the best the game ever had. Why? It’s not because I wasn’t paying attention. It’s because I love every change that happens, good or bad. Change is what keeps this game from stagnating. I know, some of you will argue that some class changes were not good, but follow my thoughts for a moment. Maybe the “bad” change decreased your damage output, or increased your mana consumption. What came from that change? Did it cause you to come up with an alternative? Are you using a spell you didn’t use before? Have you had to rethink your rotation to compensate? Maybe you had to re-gem and re-enchant your gear with a new stat to make the difference up. Then there was good from it! Doing the same thing all the time is boring. Using the same old spell all the time would really have me rolling every class in the book looking for something different (wait, I already do!). Different, to me, is good. So, change is good.

They are right now examining the effects of haste on shadow priest spells in the PTR. Now, before this ever happened, a fellow shadow priest reminded me how our talented Shadow Word: Pain worked. When we refresh it with Mind Flay, it keeps whatever buffs it had on it when it refreshes. He reminded me that when I cast it, I should always make sure to use my trinkets, potions, you name it to buff the spell before I cast it. That way, unless it falls off, I don’t have to worry about it again. What was happening in the PTR is that shadow priests, already knowing the mechanics behind the spell, were stacking haste, then doing the same thing they had always done, trading out trinkets and potions to come up with the exact right buffs to make that Shadow Word: Pain the nastiest it could be. Because Mind Flay was refreshing the buffs, it became a monster of a spell. Blizzard found that this made the spell too powerful, and took it from the Shadow Form buff they were planning that would allow haste to work with damage over time spells. I know a lot of shadow priests out there feel as if they were given the world and then told to go live under a bridge in a cardboard box, but I’m happy. I get to rethink Delgada’s gear choices and enhancements, rethink her talent point distribution, rethink her spell rotation (I know, it’s a priority, not a rotation!), rethink the food and potions she consumes, even maybe the color of her hair and what day she gets to come out and play. Am I upset that Shadow Word: Pain got left out of this party? Not really, though I would have liked to cackle maniacally at a test dummy before they took it off in the PTR while I watched it tick. This, for me, is change, and change is welcome. It keeps me interested in the game long after I have completed every “kill ten boars” quest.

Keep the changes coming, Blizzard! I look forward to every nerf, buff, and new item with all the enthusiasm of a blossoming pyromaniac lighting his very first match.

Alright, to be quite honest, I am sure loving the being able to fly right when I hit Northrend change. But don't tell anyone that is my favorite. You all know how flaky I am about who my favorite character is. I am that flaky about my favorite change, too. Forget I said anything. Really. I'm going to go try out the newest change to the game now. I heard something about a mohawk bomb...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So I Was Going To...

...write this fabulous post on if it was possible for a fresh 80 to tank ToC regular with a normal bunch and reap the rewards. I have this problem though. My guild doesn't let me do things like that. Yes, My fresh 80 butt was dragged into ToC kicking and screaming, under geared, to tank a few nights ago. I can tell you my health was about 17k, my defense was 480ish, and I was in mostly i-Level 170 and lower blues. I was enchanted and specced, sort of. I knew I wasn't ready.

But my friend insisted. So, I got up in front of the bosses after the joust and I failed miserably. I couldn't hold aggro, I wasn't using all the tools available to me, I stunk in more than just the gear category. I apologized, we lost a group member, and I put Shawndra in the inn in the Tournament grounds to think while I brought out Rowena to try and fix things. My friend helped with things too, making a cloak, enchanting a few items with defense and stamina, making a leg patch for me and some stamina patches for some other parts of my wardrobe. After a serious make over, Shawndra was now sporting a more healthy 22k health and a bit more defense and armor. While they looked for another body to fill our vacant spot, I reorganized my toolbar and found a few new tricks I wasn't using, and we started all over again. It went a lot smoother this time, with me not tanking in battle stance (I wasn't the first time either, but the pug we had before insisted I was), using vigilance on one of our overgeared members, and adding charge to my defense bar (I was specced for it, might as well use it in that stance instead of switching and confusing people).

It's been a long time since I tanked anything serious with Shawndra. Even back then, I was really insecure about my abilities. I tanked because we needed a tank. I'd like to get past the point where I grind my teeth and stare at my buttons, being so careful using all my threat generating and damage reducing cooldowns that I miss what the boss looks like. I don't want to be so afraid that I'm going to screw up the instance or raid for everyone else every time I pull, that I lose a mob staring at my cooldowns.

So, I guess I'll have to get more practice so I am no longer unsure of myself. Delgada is officially shelved as I focus on gearing Shawndra, who is coming along fabulously. The reason she is coming along so well is because KNR members are starting to return to the keys. Experience points in PvP and I imagine the Icecrown Citadel patch play a small factor in their returns. Others return from boredom with Aion, while others have no reason. I say, the more the merrier! We have had enough to field an instance group most nights, and when we haven't, we have seen others catching up with their characters of choice. I'm hoping in the next month to see enough on to run a 10 man, even if it's Burning Crusade content. I miss the guild getting together for a common cause. Perhaps it is time for an old school pirate pvp party. There are new boats to take over!

So, in conclusion, no, you cannot tank ToC in the random gear you were leveling in. Go buy yourself a few crafted and bind on equip pieces and get some health and defense boosts. Go quest in Icecrown for some of the items you can get there. Consider it a heroic level dungeon, because that is really what it is. Heroic content for a tank or a healer more often than not requires you to be almost at the gear level of the instance. Now, if you should decide to run the instance as dps and hope for the dribbles of gear the tank doesn't need, then you go right ahead. I'll just bat my eyelashes at my new favorite healer and see about another run. Shawndra still needs a trinket!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Stoppable Force posted today about the unicorns he is chasing in game, and asked us to respond with ours. I have different unicorns on different characters, but I'll try to lump them all into a single list.

  • Pets. Delgada, Shawndra, and Halinka are pet collectors. Delgada has her Hyacinth Macaw, Shawndra has her Captured Firefly, and Halinka has, well, a lot of pets. I would like, on any of those three, to get the Disgusting Oozeling or a whelp that wasn't a Special Edition pet.
  • Dresses. To a certain point, all my characters have a dress collection. I would love to have a way to pack them all in a vacuum sealed bag and store them in one slot of my bank. That way, I could get more dresses!
  • Knick Knacks. I love those grey items that fall off just one mob, or that drop rarely. Needle and Thread, the Romance Novels, Salt Licks... They're great. I rolled a rogue just so I could pick pocket some of these items. I want a shelf to store all my silly knick knacks, taking up that one bank slot, so I can collect more, and more! I hate that some of these neat things never make it through my bank cleaning days...
  • Pet Rock (or Happy Fun Rock, or both!). It's a silly thing I could probably have if I spent a few hours in a rock elemental area. I know this. I don't want to pay for one, I just want one to drop into my bags. Or two. I love throwing those things to friends!
  • Mounts. Halinka collects those. Sadly, she has not been getting the attention she deserves since having parked her in the Argent Tournament Grounds. She hates that place. I really need to reset her hearthstone for Dalaran. She would really love a hard to get mount. Sadly, she has lost the will to farm, so buying one is out of the question. Maybe we should set her stone for Lights Hope, and farm Argent Dawn reputation and the Baron's mount. Race you for it, Stop!

My ultimate unicorn is always of the moment, though. Shawndra is on the edge of 80, and the unicorn that is gearing and defense cap and all those fun things is hanging out, munching tufts of tender grass waiting for the ding. After that, with a geared tank, healer, and a semi geared dps, the unicorn might change to that of gearing the hunter, or even of raising my rogue.

Got a lot of work ahead of me, and it is time to run out the door to the real world. Thanks for the inspiration, Stop!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Shawndra Returns!

I pulled Shawndra out of the mothballs to try and get the Halloween achievements done. Why Shawndra and not my latest loves, Anselma or Halinka of the Alliance? Because the Horde of KNR seem to be rising out of the ashes, again. Being that Delgada is the guild mistress, a representative should at least be on for the members. Delgada did all that Hallow's End stuff last year, so she stepped back to let Shawndra try and get hers done. Shawndra did very well, but in the end lost to the RNG boss. No Sinister Squashling means no Sinister Calling achievement, and it was all she had left. She did get her helmet, however. Better luck next year.

Since Shawndra had been dusted off for the event, a little play time was in order. Shawndra was sitting at the end of 74 when I started playing with her again, and trick or treating in all of Azeroth and Outland got her into 75. While she was out, she did some questing, and by the end of the event, she was 76. Somewhere in that time period she was given the Cold Weather Flying tome and a pair of heirloom shoulders by Delgada (with the knowledge that she would be sharing with Anselma the blood elflette paladin), and gifted the money for dual specialization. Shawndra loves her primary specialty as a Titan's Grip fury warrior, but felt it was in the interests of many of the returning members to have a secondary specialization as a tank. She was a pretty good one before Northrend was discovered, but was still a little afraid that she would let her group down when she was called to take the lead.

She was asked yesterday to tank Drak'tharon Keep. I started the instance with an announcement that I had not tanked since Karazhan, and to please watch their step. Shawndra pulled, and surprisingly only lost aggro for a second on a stray mob that one of the dps decided to take care of out of order. Doesn't everyone know to assist the tank's target? The mob was taunted and put back into place, and the rest of the run was pretty ho hum. Shawndra, despite her admitted rustiness, seemed to be keeping aggro pretty well, and the healer didn't seem to be losing a whole lot of mana healing. Of course, it helped that the healer was 79. Shawndra noted in party chat that one of the dps was complaining that the tank out-damaged them on a fight. I grinned. At the end of the instance, a pair of plate pants dropped, which, after close inspection, were disenchanted. It is amazing how long Shawndra's low level raiding gear has lasted her into this expansion! Even her tanking gear is mostly from Kharazan and badges.

After the run, I asked in guild chat if I had been terrible. The healer said I was the easiest tank he had had to heal yet. My buddy, the best death knight tank ever, and part time warrior, said I had held aggro fine. I was so excited! I had tanked my first successful regular Northrend instance. Woot!!

Later on, Shawndra went to Dragonblight and did the Wrathgate, then went to battle for the Undercity. The Battle for the Undercity is a great boost to any character's self esteem, as their dps gets a boost of at least 10 times the normal. Special abilities make themselves available more often, and rage bars never empty. Not only that, but I love the lore that is presented. Varian is an ass. If he took a few minutes to get aquainted with Thrall, he would realize that they were in the same situation. Thrall made the best of a bad situation, and Varian became a bigotted jerk too quick to jump to conclusions. Shawndra threw a rude gesture at him as he was ported to safety by Jaina Proudmoore. She then packed up her axes, nodded to Thrall and Sylvanas, and returned to Northrend.

Shawndra is back. I'm gonna have fun getting into the mobs faces again.