Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallow's End Ball

So each year our guild, Veritas, throws a party in Raven Hill, Duskwood where the whole server is invited and we have a costume contest and ghost stories and just general role playing. We held this year's last night, and the turn out was incredible.

Story Telling. Quite the crowd.

Lal and I came dressed as Malfurion Stormrage and Tyrande Whisperwind. Yeah, I know, Sal is a druid and Malfurion is an Archdruid so it's not like I had to stretch it much. I found as many pieces of armor that looked like the in game Malfurion as I could, including a helm that had antlers. Then throughout the night I kept falling asleep at random moments, then muttering, "I'm awake, I'm awake," as I got up. It was a lot of fun. Lal looked just like Tyrande in her gorgeous Mooncloth Robe and riding a white tiger like Tyrande does in Mt. Hyjal. We each got our hair changed to match the respective characters too. I say we looked the part rather well. We won for best couple's costume, but to be fair, there was only one other couple competing as such, and they had a hilarious Pirate vs. Ninja routine.

Lal and Salthier as Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage

There were lots of other good costume there, from Veritas and from other guilds. At the end of this post is a link to a slide show of the Veritas costumes I screen shotted. We even had some horde visitors, a Blood Elf "Druid" and a Tauren, who helped us to do a skit in which a person dressed as High Inquisitor Whitemane raised up her champion. (The Tauren helped kill the champion so Whitemane could rez her.)

Someone came dressed as Cairne Bloodhoof, wearing a Tauren mask. He and I had some fun role play interaction. He was trying to keep me awake, and I was having a hard time of it. It was a pretty fun event, and a nice break from raiding, although I'm looking forward to taking not one, but two teams into Trial of the Crusader on Sunday. We've got a great group of raiders now, and I expect to have a fun time and finish the raid with each team.

Enjoy this slide show, and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fun with Loot

Loot drops are a funny thing. Some people are driven by them. They raid for the gear because it's the best, or because it will make them the fastest or strongest. They get the most pleasure out of seeing that shiny purple drop and then winning the roll. Lal can be like this at times. We have sort of an inside joke about whenever she gets a piece of loot she's been hoping and waiting for, she squeals. It's cute. She squeals when she finds titanium nodes while farming with her Laladin, I mean Yelyena. She enjoys finding and acquiring those hard to get items. And there's nothing wrong with that. I love getting loot too, I mean, who doesn't? But there's a fine line between being excited (like Lal) and being fanatic.

There is the opposite side of the spectrum too. People who couldn't care less about loot. They'll take it when it drops if no one else wants it because everyone who raids knows they have to have better gear to keep progressing. But they don't mind letting people gear up ahead of them. They take the gear and they equip it and use it, but they don't squeal when they get it. They go by the mantra, "It will drop again," and it usually does. Their main goal in raiding is to perform well and see the content. As long as they are doing that, the gear is just a tool.

And you've got people like me, and I would assume most raiders, that are in between. I love getting new gear. I love planning out what I need and what's best in slot, etc. But if I lose a roll, or if I don't get a drop, I'm not all that upset about it. It will drop again, and if it doesn't, I'll probably pick up something better in the next patch or whatever. I'm still doing my best to raid, and get us through each boss.

The reason I'm thinking about all this is because I recently acquired enough Emblems of Triumph to get the Helm of the Brooding Dragon for Elionene. This is significant because it was the last piece or armor I needed to use triumph emblems for. There are no other up grades from emblems which are sort of the loot equalizer. Everyone gets emblems for raiding and can eventually get loot when they have enough. The only thing left with emblems for Elionene would be upgraded iLevel 245 tier gear (I'm currently sporting three pieces of the iLevel 232 set). And I don't intend to be farming the trophies needed to get those items, nor running pug 25s for the tokens.

There's only one piece of gear left for me that's a drop from the Coliseum, and that's the Planestalker Signet that drops of Lord Jaraxxus. Jar Jar has been very stingy in his loot drops though. He has not yet dropped the ring in about 10 weeks of killing him. There are a few other people who might want that ring too, but I haven't even had the pleasure of rolling against them for it because it has never dropped. There are two levels to loot. The randomness of you actually seeing it, and then the randomness of rolling and winning it.

Some of you are confused about that second roll. We don't use DKP in our runs. It's seems to draw out the drama in our guild when we talk about organizing a gear system other than, main specs get to roll for it first. I attribute that to us being a friendly RP guild first, and a raid guild second, even though we're pretty intent on staying at the top of the curve when it comes to 10 person raid progression. So anyway, we do random rolls for the people that could use an item. And my only point in saying that is how much randomness is involved in our loot distribution. As a counter example, the Binding Light trinket has dropped EVERY WEEK that we've defeated the Faction Champions. There are some pretty awesome trinkets that other people in our raids could use, but thanks to the RNG, anyone who is a healer or has a healer off spec has a nice trinket.

I've been lucky in that I've gotten everything I needed save for the ring, and most things were uncontested so I didn't have to beat anyone. Other people are starving for upgrades and it may be preventing them from moving up to heroic coliseum. I don't think we'll be unable to go to Icecrown when it is released, but it still sucks to see some people go week after week with nothing to show for it while others are gearing up their off spec because no one else can use the gear. It's just one of those things.

And every week we go back to see if the big bads decide to give us what we want. At least coliseum is short and sweet (when you don't wipe on stuff) so you don't have to invest a lot of time to see if what you want is in there this week. A lot of our interest in Ulduar (but not all) has dropped because the rewards are spread out and the fights more challenging. Although I do have to give props to our raid team last weekend. Several members were in there for their first or second time, or the first time with Veritas, and we two shot Freya and Hodir in the same night. That was exciting.

So this wasn't a rant, or a complaint. Just a comment on the randomness of loot, the different approaches some people have to it, and how it may or may not be what drives you to go back to those bosses week in and week out. I wonder if I would feel more strongly about the loot if I was struggling to obtain it like some people are. I recall going through Naxx for a long time without an upgrade, and part of Ulduar. I did squeal when I got a bow finally. I love bows. I'm back to a cross bow which is not really a bow, but close enough that I don't mind using it. And I have made an exception to use a gun when it's an upgrade, even though I can't stand the sound it makes. Not playing a Night Elf anyway.

So does loot drive you to raid? Or do you raid for the experience and pick up loot as an afterthought? Or maybe you're like me and it's a mix of both.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Getting Ready for Icecrown

Patch 3.3 is on the PTR. I'm really looking forward to it all once it hits the live servers. I don't have time to play around on the test realm, but I do keep up with the reports coming from the various data mining sites and people that actually do spend time on there. It's exciting!

Veritas is at a place right now where we're farming normal Coliseum runs for emblems and gear, and still trying to take people through Ulduar as well. I led a team of newer people through last Friday and we got all the way to Thorim and knocked him down. Tonight we're going back for Iron Council, and the rest of the keepers. We may even get to Vezax if we have the time, but I'm not sure if we'll get hung up on Mimiron or not. We'll see!

Eventually we're going to tackle some more hard mode Ulduar and heroic coliseum, but it's tough to fit that into the schedule alongside normal runs of both raids. It's my job to organize everyone, and it's getting a lot harder with more people getting up to raid ready status, but somehow I'm managing, and I think most people are satisfied so far.

So with current content pretty well in hand, we should be ready to step into Icecrown on the first weekend of it's release! I'm especially looking forward to the three new dungeons with the epic quest line. I've stayed more or less spoiler free, but I have seen a few things that look like they'll be very cool. I'm ready to see the culmination of our efforts and quests in Northrend, let alone everything from way back in Warcraft III.

I read a blog called Lorecrafted, and the blogger over there has some really cool ideas about what we could be seeing as we face off against the Lich King himself. I'm in agreement that the Burning Legion, specifically Mal'ganis, has to play a role in it somehow. There's been a lot of hints in the quests in Icecrown that he's not gone for good, and it makes sense that we would need some sort of outside help to take down the Lich King.

Even though I'm excited about everything to come, I'm still hoping for a month or more of time to get more people in the guild geared and ready for Icecrown. There's a good possibility we could have two teams ready for Icecrown soon after it's release. I'll have to see how quickly we can get our second team into regular Ulduar.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Character Updates

I really enjoy the lore of the game, thus all of the lessons posts of late, but I think it's time to get into more of a general writing mood and discuss what's going on with the characters!

Elio is still leading raids in the Coliseum and Ulduar. We started working on Ulduar hard modes a couple weeks ago. Couldn't get Flame Leviathan with four towers up, so we back tracked and took him down with two. For some reason we just couldn't pull it together, but it might have been an off night. We then took out XT on hard mode and got the Heartbreaker achievement! By then we didn't have much time left so we took out Ignis for a specific drop for Lal, the off hand item, and it didn't drop. Sigh.

We took a break last weekend while a lot of the officers and a few members gathered in Maryland for the Renaissance Maryland Festival and the second annual guild meet up. We didn't go last year, but we had a blast this year. You can see pictures and the like at my personal blog.

Once back, one of our two guild leaders (the wife of a husband-wife team) decided she needed to take a break and stepped down from officer hood. It's kind of sad because she's poured more into this guild than anyone else by far, and I know it's hard for her since the guild means so much to her. But I also hope that the break has the desired effect of lessening her stress and letting the game be a game again instead of a second job. With her stepping down, the remaining GM has asked the rest of the officers to step up, so we'll have our work cut out for us.

One of the first things I'm doing is revamping our raid schedule, and trying to fit things in that more people can do. Take last night for example. We attempted an Onyxia-25 run. It didn't go so well, and we weren't able to get her down. Aside from the constant disconnection issues (is anyone else experiencing disconnects during the second phase?) we were light on DPS and couldn't get through the adds. But I learned some valuable lessons about the limits of our guild in raiding, and what I'll be planning for future raids.

Sal is patiently hanging out in Dalaran, diligently transmuting epic gems for Lal each day. I've been trying to get him a few gear upgrades by running the odd heroic now and then, but the truth is I don't play him all that much. That will change this week as our guild starts up (again) it's second team in Ulduar which Salthier will be leading. And yes, I realize it's all "me" leading these raids, but these are the respective characters I'm doing it with, thus the distinction.

I'm keeping him as a main spec tank because that's what he is to me, even though I think I prefer healing more than tanking. I like tanking, but I don't feel as confident in it, so I tend to gravitate towards things I'm more proficient in. Not that I'm an excellent healer. In fact, the DPS thing is the only thing I'm really confident in, and then only with the hunter so far. Could be that's just what I'm used to.

The one thing that Sal has done is finished What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been. I did this pretty early on in the Brewfest holiday, though I had to work up the tokens to get the outfit to dance in Dalaran. For my year of achievements, I got the Violet Proto-Drake! But Salthier doesn't fly on mounts because he has the still awesome swift flight form. But the kicker is that this mount is 310% speed. Faster than most swift flying mounts, and it in turn has made my flight form speed faster. So win win.


The poor shaman has seen almost no play since 3.2 and the new set of daily heroics that reward emblems. I barely have time to run Elio through them, much less my third 80. I killed Coren Direbrew with her a few times to get the nifty level 80 trinkets, but other than that, she sits, and she waits.

Of my various other alts out there, Frelon and Bogdan saw some brief playtime. Maybe more will happen with them in the future.

Lal is running strong as our main raid healer. She's also been focusing on her druid alt that she's leveling, somewhere in the 40s now I think. She's leveling feral and I think she likes it. She also got the world event achievement and the proto drake. Before me too, because she had the outfit from last year! But, I came to the rescue on her alts by racing rams for her so she could get enough tokens on Driya and Yelyena to buy the brew of the year membership. My best run was 40 tokens. I averaged 36 or so.

So that's where we're at! Current goals include starting Heroic Coliseum, and obtaining a key to go fight Algalon. Getting Salthier some decent gear from Ulduar and getting our second raid team up to Coliseum levels. I also have to figure out something more inclusive than a 10 person raid that we can run after meetings on Wednesdays... or not, because I can't stay up so late anymore with the current job. We'll see!