Archive for February, 2010

Of Guilds and Beggars

Last night, minutes after Stormshaper hit 80, I queued for a random heroic dungeon. I did it to see what it would give me, given that Stormshaper’s gear is so low, and I was presented with Utgarde Pinnacle.

When I zoned into the dungeon, I explained I was a fresh 80, and yes, my gear was miles off theirs and I had only queued to see what dungeon was presented. I said that I was going to drop out right away, so that they could get another DPS in my place with a lot higher DPS – but they welcomed me into the group and we went on to complete the group.

One of the players in the group, the tank, was on the same realm as me, and we got talking. He offered me a place in his guild, and went on to say that they were nice, decent people and probably could help me get geared up quicker. Now, against my better judgement, I accepted the offer – Stormshaper was 80 now, and with a decent guild perhaps she could become a raid team member. So she joined the Azerothian Warlords on Darkmoon Faire.

Sadly, it didn’t work out.

Today, I’ve ran a couple of random dungeons again. Violet Hold and Culling of Stratholme. Nothing too serious, and I’ve received a few item upgrades along the way. Guild chat was lively but not distracting, but I did notice a couple of people asking over and over for help with quests. I didn’t think much of it – as I carried on doing my own thing. A few other people were asking if they should buy BoE weapons as they’d recently reached 80 and now were finding that they couldn’t get into heroics. I’m not sure why they can’t get into heroics – unless they were trying to run Pit of Saron or Frozen Halls or something. The ‘original’ WoTLK heroics are all available to Stormshaper without any issue.

Then, as I was completing some Argent Tournament dailies, I got a whisper from a level 73 hunter in the guild called Nizha:

Nizha: m8, i could well never lend some g?
Stormshaper: what does that mean? are you asking me for money?
Nizha: if i could borrow not get. you’ll get em bk
Stormshaper: what on earth do you need money for?
Nizha: a really nice trinket
Nizha: i got it 2k creaper (sic)
Stormshaper: what trinket?
Nizha: sec
Nizha: Darkmmon (sic) fair 1
Nizha: Darkmoon Card of Greatness
Stormshaper: why do you think you need that at 73?
Nizha: i need for lvl 80
Nizha: so i got the gear
Stormshaper: in fact – you can’t even use it – its a level 80 trinket
Nizha: i kno
Stormshaper: so you want money from me for something you cant use?
Nizha: m8
Nizha: i’ve been lvling extrem fast
Nizha: wont take long ’til i’m 80
Stormshaper: i know – this is my fifth 80
Nizha: and when i ding lvl 80 i have it
Stormshaper: well – why not save the money you get from questing and when you’re level 80 then buy it?
Nizha: its because i got 1 now which is selling for 2k less than on ah
Stormshaper: great – 2k less but you still can’t use it
Nizha: it wont take long m8
Stormshaper: and its not worth anywhere near 2k anyway
Nizha: yea it is when it my only char on this server
Stormshaper: that’s irrelevant
Nizha: plzz m8
Stormshaper: how will you pay me the money back?
Nizha: all what i lend u and 200g more?
Nizha: trade
Stormshaper: trade? trade what?
Nizha: G
Stormshaper: how will you make the money to pay me back?
Nizha: ahh questing
Nizha: Dailies
Nizha: at lvl 80
Nizha: i got 13k on another char
Stormshaper: well move it – then you don’t need to ask strangers to give you money for something you can’t use
Nizha: i need 1k g m8 plzz
Stormshaper: if you need it so badly – move your char – or ask some other mug to give you 1k
Nizha: he want the money now so i can’t move it..
Stormshaper: unlucky then, and you can move it – it takes less than 1 hour these days – the days of it taking 3 days to move a char are long gone.

The exchange stopped at that point. I have to say that it left me a bit disappointed. I know there are plenty of people out there who will beg for items, but asking a perfect stranger for 1000 gold to buy a trinket that he can’t use? How does that work? If I had 1000g going spare, I’d put it towards buying the same trinket myself.

Regardless, being in a guild – for me – is a means for a group of people to visit instances and raids that they can’t do alone. With the forthcoming changes to guilds in Cataclysm where being in a guild for a long time, and actively contributing to that guild so that everyone gets the associated bonuses is something I am looking forward to immensely. It won’t do away with players like Nizha, who will always be a blight on the game, but it might make guild recruitment a little more astute. You can look at a guild’s achievements and see if you want to be a part of their membership. Sadly, until that day comes, joining a guild is going to be a hit and miss affair and you run the chance of joining a guild that has members like Nizha, and they will try to badger you for your money, your time and your skills and give you nothing back in return.

After the exchange stopped, I decided that Stormshaper doesn’t need to be in a guild that allows members to beg gold from each other, so I /gquit. Now Stormshaper is once again guildless, but do you know what? I don’t think she minds.

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Level 80

Hitting level 80 on Stormshaper was easy. No, really, it was simple. Also, she hit 80 despite doing no quests in Zul Drak, Grizzly Hills or Scholozar Basin. So there are still swathes of Northrend for her to explore still. Nor did she do anything in K3, so the enormous Sons of Hodir quest chain is still to come.

At 78, Halls of Stone opens up for you in the random dungeon feature, and Stormshaper did several runs of this dungeon which added a fair bit of XP as well as getting her a few Relics of Ulduar for the Sons of Hodir rep grind. At 79, Halls of Lightning and Utgarde Pinnacle are available, and the random dungeon feature is where your XP gain goes through the roof.

I continued questing in Icecrown and, at queued in the dungeon finder, teleporting into dungeons when the groups were ready, then when complete, returning. Doing this, the XP required to go from 79 to 80 simply vanished.

As soon as Stormshaper reached 80, I tried to queue in the random heroic and was presented with heroic Utgarde Pinnacle (after running it on normal four times previously). The step up between normal and heroic is huge – especially if you’re in blues – but the group I was in were welcoming and didn’t seem phased that this ‘scrub’ (to use the current parlance) was being ‘carried’ through the dungeon. What a nice, refreshing attitude to see.

In the end, I didn’t finish bottom of the DPS meters. I’m not really a fan of those creations, but it was nice to see that Stormshaper could handle her own in a heroic run. Sadly no gear drops at all. Everything that dropped was plate/tank related – but that’s okay. Gear will come for Stormshaper – it’s just a matter of grinding out the heroics, gathering the emblems of frost and triumph and spending them wisely.

I can’t really compare levelling Stormshaper with my other characters. The game, with the addition of the random dungeon feature and nerfed dungeons is considerably easier now than it was when the expansion first came out. And, remember WoTLK 5 man instances are in turn considerably easier than the 5 man runs in Burning Crusade.

In previous times, you really required a guild so that your character could run instances with so that you could get gear and progress. With the random dungeon feature, this is no longer a requirement, and indeed, I levelled Stormshaper all the way to level 80 without ever joining a guild. Being guildless allowed me to focus entirely on levelling Stormshaper and learning about playing the Shaman class. I can say for absolute certainty being guildless definitely helped me level Stormshaper quicker than being in a guild and having to contend with the myriad distractions that gives you.

I’m not saying being in a guild is bad – it absolutely isn’t – but they can present you with distractions, especially if you join a “social” guild or a guild that’s “fun”. Invariably this means the guild is packed with low level characters who want a “boost” from higher characters. Nothing in it for the higher character, the lower character runs along behind you, as you kill everything before them. You don’t need any of the drops, so they fill their bags with low level greens, cloth and food and they get the boss drops.

I’m all for helping people, but in World of Warcraft today, you don’t need to “boost” anyone. As long as they meet the requirements of the dungeon, they can queue in the random dungeon finder and find a group in next to no time. Sadly, in my experience this isn’t the case. People don’t want to quest to get to level 16 and start running Dead Mines, Blackfathom Deeps, Shadowfang Keep or Wailing Caverns. They want to be dragged through at level 10. This will continue all the way through their levelling process, until you either level them all the way up to an acceptable level, and they then leave the guild, or, they leave the guild as they don’t get their own way.

Stormshaper didn’t have any of these issues to contend with. I basically played a zone until I had done all the quests available, and moved on to the next zone and the next, and the next. The random dungeon feature ensured that I played all the dungeons at the right level. I had some dreadful experiences, but I also had some good laughs.

Now Stormshaper is 80, and I basically have to learn how to play the class all over again.

I have subscribed to a number of shaman forums, blogs and various other sources of valid information so that I can learn from other people’s experiences. I have checked out Stormshaper’s talent trees, and already I can see some things that need to be adjusted, but bearing in mind I was selecting her talents without any reference, I don’t think I did too badly.

This is Stormshaper’s current talent tree spread (16/55/0): http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#hVbhqZhxxIoxdIhuoRuVo

I’m going to adjust the talent tree slightly so that this will be the new talent spread (8/58/0): http://www.wowhead.com/?talent#hV0hZhxxIoxdIhusRuVo

Once I’ve run a couple of heroics with the new talent build, I’ll get a better feel for how much it has increased Stormshaper’s DPS.

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80 Up!

Just got to 80, and I have to say it has been a remarkably easy, and very entertaining ride.

I will post more later.

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Enchanting My Gear

At the moment, Stormshaper is running round in a mix of greens and blues. Most of the gear she’s wearing currently isn’t enchanted, or if it is, it’s enchanted with cheap enchants and cheap armour kits because I know it will be replaced pretty much as soon as she completes her first few heroics. However, despite the fact that the WoTLK heroics have been nerfed down to stupid levels, I’m not planning on taking Stormshaper into any heroic without her standing half a chance of surviving and doing creditable DPS.

As I posted yesterday, I’ve bought a few BoE items and some cheap epics from the auction house to help her on her way, but I wanted to enhance those items so that she can leverage a little bit more out of her gear.

To that end, I’ve bought the following enchants:

  • Enchant Boots – Icewalker – this gives a nice boost to hit and crit rating which is a step towards maximising hit which is one of the stats that Stormshaper needs to maximise as a priority.
  • Enchant Bracer – Greater Assault which again, gives her a nice increase to her base DPS.
  • Enchant Chest – Super Stats – Not a top end enchants, but I picked up a batch of these for around 20g. As Stormshaper’s chest piece at level 80 is a blue, there’s no point in spending over 200g for the high end stats enchant. I’ll save that for when she gets her tier chest piece.

The three enchants cost me around 200g in total, which isn’t too bad an outlay considering that they will benefit Stormshaper’s base DPS so much.

Once Stormshaper hits 80, I’ll do a post on what EnhSim and Rawr told me, and what gear she’ll be going after as the grind to Tier 9/10 starts.

Now, before I leave this post, we welcome back the Douchebag of the day award, and today’s douchebag is a Death Knight – what a surprise – called Xcrusher of Anachronos.

This loser waits for everyone to line up at the entrance to Gundrak, inspects the entire party before aggro’ing the first mob of snakes then teleports out of the dungeon just before they arrive leaving us tankless with a mob incoming.

So watch out for this selfish swine and if you group with him, how about issuing a nice Vote to Kick before he lands your group in undeserved trouble?

Anyway, we got a new tank minutes later and we cleared the dungeon completely in about 20 minutes. Stormshaper picked up Amulet of the Stampede, which has a nice haste rating on it. Not too sure yet if I can replace Pendant of Revelutionary Thought, but the item comparison seems to favour the former, so we’ll see.

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Level 77

Stormshaper has reached level 77. She’s done this despite not yet visiting Sholozar Basin, or indeed completing many of the quests still available in Dragonblight.

At level 77, the game switches into overdrive. You are now into end game raiding and Icecrown is your destination.

On Krasus’ Landing in Dalaran, there is an NPC called Officer Van Rossum who will offer you a quest to fly you to the Skybreaker, the enormous alliance airship flying high above Icecrown. The Skybreaker serves as a quest hub to get you started in Icecrown. There are an astonishing number of quests here, all geared to telling you about Arthas and his legions of undead. Truly it is an astonishing storyline and immersion into the end game raiding quests that lead you ultimately to Icecrown Citadel is incredible.

But – to quest here you need, at the very least, cold weather flying. This will set you back 1000g. You cannot quest in Icecrown without it as everything is up on mountainsides. You should be able to get the money back soon enough doing quests, gathering materials for tradeskills, and of course, doing instances.

Also at level 77, you are eligible to fly to the Argent Tournament grounds and start to do the entry-level daily quests there, which, if you persist with them, will replenish your gold reserves in no time at all. Again, on Krasus’ Landing in Dalaran, there is an NPC from he Argent Dawn sat on an argent griffon who, if you speak to him offers you a flight to the Argent Tournament.

Stormshaper has completed all the early quests, learning to joust – these are easy – I’ve done it before on other characters who are all argent champions and all have city titles. You just have to stick at it. The gold is reward enough, and there are some really nice entry-level blue items that you can get from quartermasters at the Argent Tournament. Not to mention pets, mounts, and other assorted bits and bobs.

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Far-Seeing Eyes Power Aura

There is a quest you will do in Wintergarde Keep which is called Imprints on the Past. It’s a pretty insignificant quest in truth. You go into a house, kill a few scourge, save a few villagers and there’s an orb you collect.Anyway, after you complete the quest there is a really nice trinket called Foresight’s Anticipation which is offered as a reward. This trinket is great for Shamans, and well, for any DPS class really, as you will get a very nice haste increase from it.

The trinket increases your haste by 40 on equip, and a really rather good on-use haste increase of 148 for 20 seconds. This on use haste buff is called Far-Seeing Eyes, and here’s a Power Aura’s Classic export to monitor it:

Version:st3.0.0E; gcd:bofalse; b:nu0; anim1:nu1; g:nu0.4; optunitn:bofalse; ignoremaj:botrue; stacksLower:nu0; target:bofalse; icon:st; size:nu0.64999997615814; torsion:nu0.94999998807907; r:nu1; y:nu-35; x:nu-1; customname:st47806; groupany:botrue; isAlive:botrue; timerduration:nu0; unitn:st; bufftype:nu1; stacks:nu0; focus:bofalse; raid:bofalse; texture:nu2; alpha:nu1; aurastext:stTowering Rage Proc; symetrie:nu0; owntex:bofalse; isResting:nu0; duration:nu0; mine:bofalse; multiids:st; inVehicle:nu0; speed:nu1; anim2:nu0; stacksOperator:st>=; realaura:nu1; threshold:nu50; exact:bofalse; spec2:botrue; textaura:bofalse; InactiveDueToState:bofalse; wowtex:bofalse; groupOrSelf:bofalse; customsound:st; combat:nu0; id:nu16; inParty:nu0; HideRequest:bofalse; Active:botrue; aurastextfont:nu29; buffname:stFar-Seeing Eyes; inRaid:nu0; tooltipCheck:st; customtex:bofalse; stance:nu10; isSecondary:bofalse; thresholdinvert:bofalse; spec1:botrue; Debug:bofalse; beginSpin:bofalse; Showing:botrue; UseOldAnimations:bofalse; begin:nu3; off:bofalse; party:bofalse; texmode:nu1; inverse:bofalse; ismounted:nu0; targetfriend:bofalse; randomcolor:bofalse; sound:nu0; finish:nu3

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Shopping for Bargains

Stormshaper hit level 76 today, questing in Dragonblight. With only four levels to go before she hits the level cap I thought it would be prudent to try and get some level 80 gear for her so that she can stand half a chance in the heroic runs she’ll embark on.

Now, the auction house is very server dependent. I’ve played on some servers where the prices in the auction house are simply crazy. The auction house of my realm, Darkmoon Faire isn’t too bad. There are some high prices for items, but nothing outlandish. Also, from time to time, there are some absolute bargains to be had.

Using my bank character, I have been scanning the available auctions looking for things that can aid Stormshaper once she hits 80, and I have managed to buy all the following items for less than 500g.

Belt of Tassled Lanterns – 11g
Grips of the Warming Heart – 9g
Aviary Guardsman’s Hauberk – 22g
Helm of the Lightning Halls – 15g
Ice Striker’s Cloak – 50g
Revenants Treads – 80g
Bracers of the Smothering Inferno 300g

A lot of these items are BOE drops from 5 man heroics which obviously are very common. The low prices I paid for the hands, waist, chest and helmet slots means that I really don’t mind if I replace them very soon after equipping them.

The bracers are a BOE drop from Ulduar which is still some way off for Stormshaper at the moment (if I ever go in there with Stormshaper because I have come to loathe that raid so much). 300g for something that will tide her over for a good few heroics is a decent investment. The only real upgrades for her will come from badge gear and/or drops from Pit of Saron and Halls of Reflection.

If you’re levelling your character and it’s getting towards the late 70’s for you, I’d advise having a quick scout around the auction house for bargains like this. Each item I’ve got will give me a considerable DPS boost over the blues and drops available from the regular quests and 5 man dungeons Stormshaper is ploughing through at the moment, so hopefully she won’t be on the end of too much nerd rage as she steps her first tentative foot into WoTLK heroics.

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