Where the view is always better.

General

Fighting For A Cause

Tuesday was Veterans’ Day in the United States. It’s a bit late, but I dedicate this entry to the veterans, not just in the military, but to those who have fought in the battlefields of Azeroth.

Tabards.

They are more than just ornaments for your armor.

At the end of Burning Crusade, the Shattered Sun Offensive tabard became widely popular. Some people like wearing it for the design. But for me, wearing that tabard meant something more. It was a sign that the races of Azeroth banded into one front against Kael’thas and Kil’jaeden to prevent the Burning Legion from returning to the world.

Suddenly, the importance of the guild tabard paled in comparison to the new cause we were fighting for. It was a sign that that I participated and lived to tell the tale of how Alliance and Horde worked together to build the Shattered Sun Offensive into a formidable fighting force.

The Shattered Sun tabards became somewhat of a symbol for those who were able to progress far enough to have contributed to the Offensive’s efforts. Remember when Patch 2.4 rolled around and transformed Shattrath into a staging ground for a full-scale assault? It is no more different that Patch 3.0.2 transforming the capital cities into staging grounds for Northrend.

Together, we ended the Burning Crusade.

Now, as I wait patiently for the next boat to carry me to the icy continent, I proudly wear the Argent Dawn tabard. It is in remembrance of the Scourge attacks on our cities and our people. It was a reward for helping the Argent Dawn rebuild its forces in preparation for an expedition to Northrend.

It is a promise and a commitment to fight for the good of all Azeroth and confront the Lich King and his forces in Northrend. We will take the Argent Crusade to the heart of Icecrown.

Arthas, we are coming for you.


Installing Wrath to an External Hard Drive

This is my World of Warcraft folder before installation for Wrath:

wow-prewotlk

This is my World of Warcraft folder after installation for Wrath:

wow-wotlk

Now if you’re like me, then you’re playing on a 3.5-year-old computer (laptop or desktop) that doesn’t have enough space to run Wrath of the Lich King from your internal hard drive. Luckily, Blizzard games are always kind enough for their folders to be played around with. If you want to play from your external hard drive, you can.

  1. Copy your “World of Warcraft” folder into your external hard drive (wherever). (Don’t cut, in case something happens during the installation process.)
  2. Run your launcher from that location in your external before beginning installation. (If you don’t do this step, the installer will refer to the location from where you last started your launcher, which would be in your internal hard drive. It will tell you that you don’t have enough hard drive space.)
  3. Insert the Wrath of the Lich King DVD, begin your installation and let the updaters do their job.

wotlk-install

Your game should now be ready to play. If any shortcuts to your old internal “World of Warcraft” folder remain, purge it just in case. Start up the game from the files in your external hard drive. If things go well, you should be able to just delete the folders in your internal hard drive and free up that 10 GB of space.


In Retrospect: Change We Need

Chapter 3 of Warcraft Retrospective, a documentary series on the development of the world of Warcraft, was released two days ago, in time for the release of the second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. This chapter catches up the series to the current progress of World of Warcraft.

As we wait in lines to purchase our copies of Wrath of the Lich King, wait for that installation to complete, and wait for the servers to stop becoming overloaded, take some time to consider how Warcraft has changed since Orcs and Humans. Players from the golden age of classic World of Warcraft can attest to the ever-changing environment of the game. The original game, when released in 2004, brought new mechanics to the MMORPGs. New content were downloadable instead of required purchase as an expansion. This meant the game has been changing since day 1.

Even coming as a Burning Crusade baby veteran, sometimes you forget how many patch Tuesdays (minor and major) have gone by to this day. But with every change comes an improvement. Every patch tweaks the game a bit more to the ever-changing needs of the players. World of Warcraft achieved something other games hadn’t been able to do: adaptability. The constant downloadable patched made the game evolve along with the players themselves.

The complexity of the game has outlived Burning Crusade. It needs Wrath of the Lich King. With all the anticipation for the complexity of this expansion, it’s difficult to see how these features can be outlived. But many new features in Burning Crusade were also breakthrough ideas at the time that we now take for granted.

Look back at how we, the players (not the developers), have changed the game. More importantly, look forward to how we can help continue to improve the game that 11 million have come to love.


A Midnight Alternative

While many of us will (or already are) undoubtedly in line for tonight’s release of Wrath of the Lich King, there are many of us who will not, including myself.

I asked the Twitterati what would be a good thing to do tonight if you are not attending a midnight release event? Drotara responded with some ideas:

  • Abandon/finish old quests.
  • Stock up on bandages.
  • Empty bags of unneeded stuff (which is a hard thing to do for me, you know).
  • Tame a tanking pet and power-level it to 70 at Legion Hold.

What are your ideas for things to do in the comfort of your office chair while others are out in the cold in long lines?


Listening All Things Azeroth

A shoutout to Medros and Graece of All Things Azeroth. I sat in on their podcast recording session last week. They did an overview of the aftermath of Patch of 3.0.2, which was nice since I hadn’t touched the patch very much at the time.

Check out All Things Azeroth Edition 58 for more goodies!


Patch Day That Wasn’t

I had been hopeful that I would be able to play on the new patch tonight, but my hopes were soon dashed by an error saying that I don’t have enough temporary disk space to install 3.0.2.

That means no playing on my hunter yet. I’ll have to get the files from my friend and manually add them into the folders.

That said, can I complain how easily accessible Horde capital cities are compared to Alliance ones (pre-3.0)? My Tauren druid went to all capital cities within 15 minutes of reaching level 14.  My Night elf hunter didn’t reach Ironforge and Stormwind until like the mid 20s.


I Can Haz Durid!

I can haz resto durid!

I haven’t logged on my hunter for about 2 weeks now. The account is still active, but I just can’t keep up with posting if I haven’t really been doing anything in game. Senior year of college is keeping me very busy with all the activities I’m a part of.

However, last week, my apartmentmates and I decided we should all play WoW. The result is that one of the guys and I invited two of our apartmentmates to start playing. One of them started, so we’re still waiting on the other.

In choosing classes that would best make up a full group, I expressed interest in playing a druid. After deciding what the others wanted, it appears I will be a restoration druid. It’s the only aspect of the game I haven’t tried before: healing. He’s at level 9 right now, but still progressing. There’s a certain difference in game pacing when you’re leveling that makes it fitting to a busy college life. Instead of the daily routine, questing while leveling gives that feeling you’re still seeing new content.

So if you’re looking for me in-game and haven’t found me on my hunter, come over to US-Gorgonnash and look for Bentuk on Horde side. (Yes, you read that right. I’m a Tauren druid.)


We Interrupt This Broadcast

I’m in the middle of writing a post, but it’s taking longer than expected, with schoolwork and all. Rest assured that it is coming! In the meantime, Lassirra asked me to participate in a game of tag.

Where was I when these events happened?

September 11 Attacks

September 11, 2001: It was a Tuesday. The only reason I remember this is because I was in a Spanish class, and since my high school was on a block schedule, it was a B day. I was in class, then a Latin teacher, that was my Spanish teacher’s friend, came into the class to tell her the news. You could just see the expression on her face. Our teacher turned on the television, and we watched the images of the first tower in flames for about 20 minutes before returning to our class subject.

For the rest of the day, we would keep up with the news because all our classrooms have television sets, though sometimes teachers would keep them off so the students wouldn’t be distracted or worried. I went to high school about 20 minutes from the Pentagon in Northern Virginia. Because of this, many students had parents who worked in Washington and for the government. Parents took their kids home for fear of a greater attack that never came. Our principal made an announcement at the end of the day and reassured the students that they were safe. The next day, the school system shut down for one day to assess the situation.

Every day for the next several months, local television stations would show the face of the Pentagon as it was being cleared out and reconstructed.

Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

January 28, 1986: I wasn’t even born yet, let alone conceived. If you were to talk about Columbia instead, that’s a different story.

Hurricane Katrina

August 29, 2005: I had barely arrived as a freshman in college. I would read The New York Times every day, and all the headlines you see in the second week of classes were about the approaching Katrina, its landfall, and its consequences. Many universities in Louisiana shut down and cancelled classes. As a result, my school was one of the many that had opened its doors to students from Louisiana so that they can continue their studies. We had students from Tulane and other schools housed in the lounges-turned-rooms of our dorms, and the current students understood the situation despite living in more crowded buildings.

I personally knew a high school friend who eventually transferred out of Tulane to a school in Virginia so she could be with friends we had known through high school. It’s one of the examples of the impact of the disaster on the people’s outlook in the city.

Two years later, I was in the New Orleans area for a spring break immersion program. I got to see the lasting reminders of the disaster that was brought upon by Katrina.

Reagan Assassination Attempt

March 30, 1981: Not born yet. Only through the history books.

John Lennon’s Death

June 8, 1980: Not born yet.

Kurt Cobain’s Death

April 5, 1994: Who? I was born, but at the time I still lived overseas, so I could’ve cared less about Kurt Cobain.

John F. Kennedy Assassination

November 22, 1963: I only know this through the history books.

Boy, don’t you guys feel old? It’s sad that I can really only comment on two things here. The interesting thing is, my school newspaper printed a column about September 11 and Katrina yesterday and how the people in my class year have been faced with a disaster every time we moved on to a different segment of our education. God forbid if something were to happen again in 2009.

I pass this tag along to:


Pre-Expansion Rewards and Exclusivity

Classes have started, so I haven’t really had time to play. I’ve stopped all raiding also since last week, so I probably won’t be writing about personal progression stories anymore.

I met a new friend yesterday who I found out played WoW. I had been telling him that I occasionally play Starcraft with my apartmentmates. We then proceeded to talk about Warcraft III and Defense of the Ancients. Before you know it, he was telling me how he used to play World of Warcraft before Burning Crusade and grinded for 2 months the Grand Marshal title.

I don’t know what grinding for a Grand Marshal title entails. But I also don’t know how hard it is grind the Wintersaber Trainers reputation.

After talking about people who will be starting fresh as new World of Warcraft players in the last several posts, it made me wonder about the people who won’t be returning for Wrath of the Lich King. My new friend told me he couldn’t handle any more grinding after achieving the Grand Marshal title. At the time, he told me that there were only three people in Singapore who had achieved the title, and he was one of them. I’d say that’s a pretty impressive feat.

But consider the current situation. People are “buying” or attempting to obtain the [Amani War Bear] mount left and right. I have a feeling that this perhaps is the Burning Crusade equivalent to the Grand Marshal grind. After all, there’s always one ultimate prize for every expansion.

But what happens after you get that bear mount?

I’ve seen people who run Zul’Aman faithfully every three days just so they can improve the raid group and hope they can make the fourth timer to get the mount.

Take the analogy of a person at a carnival fair who play those carnival games over and over again just so they can win a prize. In the process, they consume a lot of time (and money) in order to achieve that goal. That’s a similar kind of grinding.

But it makes me wonder. Is all that grinding for that ever-exclusive prize or title worth it in the end if you only burn yourself out? How would that impact your gameplay and your outlook on the game since you first started playing?

Personally, I’d rather not find out because I don’t want this to turn something I love into an obsession.


In the Headlines

It appears I’ve made it to the blog headlines of the Twisted Nether Blogcast.

Go check out episode 13 if you haven’t already. It even has an interview with Nibuca of Mystic Chicanery, one of my favorite bloggers that influenced me to start blogging.

This podcast gets better and better every week.


To Infinity And Beyond

Well, I never thought this day would come, but here it is. 366 days of playing World of Warcraft.

August 16, 2007: After trying out the game on a friend’s account for several days, I bought World of Warcraft and activated the account on the same day. Loronar the hunter was created and leveled to 8 on the same day.

Princess Theradras in Maraudon

Princess Theradras in Maraudon

October 9, 2007: My first blog Ranger’s Bow was created. It was inspired by reading some of the older blogs around, especially BigRedKitty, Kestrel’s Aerie, and Mystic Chicanery.

November 23, 2007: Bought Burning Crusade during Black Friday. It was about $10 cheaper than the suggested retail price at the time.

December 8, 2007: Entered Outland upon reaching level 58. I had such a hard time killing mobs for quests at this time because I was wearing a lot of greens and some gear that was very outdated from the early 50s.

January 17, 2008: Level 70 on Loronar achieved after some heavy-duty questing for a week. I meticulously completed every quest I had in each zone before moving on. We hit level 70 questing around Sylvanaar in Blade’s Edge Mountains.

January 22, 2008: Stopped playing to get ready for the start of spring semester at school.

The Dark Portal

The Dark Portal

March 12, 2008: Reactivated account prior to spring break, in anticipation of Patch 2.4.

March 22, 2008: First Karazhan run with the guild, completed over 2 days. [Beastmaw Pauldrons], [Cowl of Defiance], and [Sunfury Bow of the Phoenix] become my first epic-quality items.

March 28, 2008: Current blog 35 Yards Out created.

April 21, 2008: Obtained [Sonic Spear] from Shadow Labyrinth while helping several guild mates with the trash leading up to and including Murmur himself.

May 25, 2008: Accumulated 5200 gold for epic flying mount.

May 27, 2008: First time into Gruul’s Lair with a PuG group. After a slow start, we were able to finish the place.

June 5, 2008: First time into Magtheridon’s Lair with a PuG group. After three attempts, we defeated him with most of the raid still standing.

A friend obtains swift flying form.

A friend obtains swift flying form.

June 12, 2008: Accumulated 1600 gold for the [Cenarion War Hippogryph].

June 25, 2008: 35 Yards Out is featured on WoW Insider.

July 10, 2008: First time into Black Temple. The Hand of Fate makes its first attempt at High Warlord Naj’entus to 26%. They returned the next week without us and progressed all the way to Shade of Akama.

July 11, 2008: First time into Serpentshrine Cavern with Knights of Redemption. Best attempt at 30%, including surviving an enrage timer. Hydross the Unstable fell the next week.

July 13, 2008: Achieved the title Champion of the Naaru after going with a PuG group for Magtheridon’s Lair.

July 17, 2008: First time into Hyjal Summit. Made ten attempts at Archimonde, and I had bought my [Medallion of the Alliance] the day before.

August 5, 2008: First participation in a guild progression kill in Black Temple by defeating Teron Gorefiend. That night saw my first upgrades from tier 6 content.

August 16, 2008: Where we are today. Will we stay for another year? Only time will tell.

At the moment, I’m going to be playing less than usual because school is starting up again, and raiding will take too much time away from studying. I will most likely continue to post and comment on people’s blogs, so don’t think that I will be going away. It has been a very productive year, and I’m grateful to have friends and fellow bloggers to share those experiences with.

I leave with you some current data. Be Imba! has our PvE gear scored at 225.22, and a 776 score on WoW Heroes. The following charts from my profile at WoWProgress show progression in Agility and Ranged Attack Power, respectively, since I first started raiding in March.


Generations Apart

In World of Warcraft, there’s just as much a generation gap as there is in life.

On one end, you have the “Burning Crusade Babies” like myself and Pike. This generation started playing after the first expansion pack was released and were not able to experience old world raid content or see much of level 60 endgame. Hunters from this generation know very little about the history of how the class was developed and why it has become what it is today.

Next are the players who started playing in the middle of the golden age of classic World of Warcraft. Class roles have been clearly defined, and oftentimes, a certain spec has been defined as the most useful for certain situations. The role of the hunter was up to the players to refine and improve. People like BRK will fall into this category. But of course, not everyone learns at the same pace, so Breana finds herself still learning even at this stage of the game.

Finally, you have the old timers who were there for beta and know the development of hunters and have seen the entirety of how the class changed from (near) day 1. Kestrel will fall into this category.

So what happens when Wrath of the Lich King is released? You will get an influx of players who are new to the game and will experience neither Azeroth nor Outland endgame. They miss out on the learning involved in min/max and combat ratings and will have to wait until they are level 80. How many people will actually go into the upper level Outland instances like Shattered Halls, Steamvaults, Shadow Labyrinth, and the three pods of Tempest Keep? Who’s going to take the time to complete the quest chains for the Shattered Halls Key and Key to the Arcatraz?

Consider the Recruit-A-Friend program. Despite the increased leveling speed, it is still unlikely that new people who take advantage of this offer will be able to see endgame. It’s an endless cycle for a MMORPG. In a few months, you’re going to have people who have never played and will be asking how to play certain classes, and the ones who were inexperienced before will become the elder players. How many people will ask how you can get a Champion of the Naaru, Hand of A’dal, or of the Shattered Sun titles? Unfortunately, due to the extent of these quest chains, it is unlikely that people will be able to achieve them without going beyond level 70.

These people also won’t know the resources available to them. All the things we take for granted from Wowhead to WowJutsu, from Be Imba! to Cheeky’s Spreadsheet. Somehow, I think Blizzard needs to improve its ability to integrate new players into the current community. New people feel frustrated that they can’t find anyone in Azeroth because everyone will either be in Outland or Northrend.


Keeping Up With the DPS Race

You’ve encountered these bosses before. The raid tries to keep up its damage dealt against the enrage timer. Sometimes a fluke happens and you fail. Sometimes the fight becomes a simple tank and spank. Welcome to the DPS race.

Watching some of the best badminton players in the world makes me think how similar their gameplays are to a DPS race. Badminton now is not the same badminton from the last summer Olympics. The game has been modified to make it more fast-paced and suitable for television viewing. As such, you have more quick shots and attempts to force the opponent to commit errors. Every time you make a mistake, not just when the opponent makes a scoring drive, you give a point to them and have to make up for it. Just like with every death against Gruul, you have fewer people to keep up with his Grows.

These high-powered matches will keep up at the edge of your seat, just like the feeling that your raid will make the enrage timer with just seconds to spare. You look at the enrage timer; you look at the boss’ health; you look at the timer again.

What can we take away from these players?

The key to the DPS race is momentum. Try not to step back on your DPS because you will have to make up for it harder and faster towards the end of the fight. It’s like an unpaid debt that you pay only the minimum amount each month. Over time, it becomes unmanageable. On the other hand, you should also never tell the raid to “step up the DPS” if you are perfectly on target. Stepping up DPS puts more pressure on the damage dealers. Casters will burn through their mana faster, forcing them to rely on mana potions to keep mana up and may unconsciously impose a mindset to conserve mana. Your brain then has a conflict between spamming your macro more often and a mana conservative macro (i.e. 1:1.5 rotation versus 3:2 Steady/Auto rotation).

You technically can’t “DPS faster”. That phrase is counterintuitive to DPS and misleading. The DPS that you do on a normal raid is the DPS you will have. You can’t DPS faster than what you already have without better gear. In addition, accelerating DPS means you were wasting time in the beginning of the fight and letting that enrage timer gain on you. When you accelerate your gameplay in badminton, your opponent will always try to counterattack by slowing down the returns. In the end, you made no gains except by tiring yourself out.

So the key point is to keep your DPS steady. Fluctuations in DPS upset your balance and throws off the entire momentum of the fight. Slow and steady wins the race, well maybe not always the “slow” part.


For The Love of The Game

Well, I’ve been watching a lot of the Olympics. As a badminton player, you can imagine I’m glued to the streaming feed from Beijing around 10 pm in the US when the event rolls around. It’s a good thing there’s a 6-hour break so I can sleep too. It’s been pretty exciting to watch, but that means no playing WoW late at night unless I’m raiding.

It’s amazing to see everyone from around the world be focused on one city for two and a half weeks. It kinda makes me consider what if there were some sort of short-term event in Azeroth that involves the participation of every player, Horde and Alliance working together. I’m not talking about world events like the one that happened before Burning Crusade was released and the upcoming world event that may occur before Wrath is released. This kind of event has happened before during the Ahn’Qiraj War Effort. Both Alliance and Horde gathered war matériel to prepare for the opening of the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj. You could say the Shattered Sun Offensive was similar, but both types of collaborative server progression are limited.

For one, rewards are individually based. There is no reward for one faction to have completed an achievement before the other faction. The lack of group identity makes the whole idea stop short of a true collaboration.

What if a collaborative event broke up each racial faction separately? Alliance competing against Alliance. Horde competing against Horde. Sure, people might complain about imbalance of the number of people playing each race, but what about the difference between the larger and smaller countries participating in the Olympics? It’s about the pride one has for his/her own country. Why not have some pride in your own racial faction? A rivalry between Night elf druids and Tauren druids. Deciding which faction is more worthy to have a paladin class. A place where the best of the best can compete.

It can incorporate both PvE and/or PvP elements to accommodate all different server types.

We’ve all loved the game so much that we learn the ins and outs of it. It’s time to put it to the test. After all, some healthy competition is always good. Heck, I think this would be more worth of a [Gold Medallion] than winning a battleground, which is often clearly lopsided.

What would your idea of a world event like this be?


More Pets?

Hello, Boomstik here!

I’m going to try very very hard to not comment on Wrath changes, whether they’re about gameplay, classes, or pets. It should go without saying that going on Wowhead/Wowinsider/Petopia/Mania’s/etc that I was QUITE excited about new stuff coming in Wrath. However, I don’t really want to comment on Beta software…also…I am like 99% certain that I will not be playing WoW when Wrath comes out due to school.

So, the real only thing I want to say, and hopefully Blizzard takes this to heart:

WE NEED MORE STABLE SPOTS FOR PETS

BRK had a good point where it could be a goldsink for hunters to have like 10 spots or whatever. I just want like 5…but to reiterate

BLIZZARD PLEASE GIVE HUNTERS MORE STABLE SLOTS FOR PETS

especially since it looks like some pet families will have specific tasks…and you’ll need more than-STOP BOOMSTIK, no more Wrath!

(Edit by Loronar: Begging helped I suppose?)

Ok. Calm down. Breathe in…out…in…out…ok, what I wanted to write about today was pets! “But Boomstik,” you say, “you already wrote a post about BM pets!” True, but I wanted to talk about pets that don’t Growl, Bite, or increase your dps. That’s right! Non-combat pets! Everyone loves non-combat pets, right?

I confess, I currently have a Wolpertinger, a Turtle, a Bird, a Floating Eye thing, a Chicken, a Mechanical Chicken, and a Firefly! This isn’t a whole lot of pets, but I like them nevertheless. I did once put my Firefly on the AH but it didn’t sell, and I never had the heart to put it up for sale again (I think the firefly is awesome, but I still haven’t actually bound it to me yet).

Wow, I forgot, if you want to see all of the pets, go here. Definitely the best site for non-combat pets.

But yeah, I admit first pet I got was the Chicken, but they didn’t really stick out for me…just items taking up bagspace…then the first Children’s Week came….and who the f*** can say no to a f***ing turtle named Speedy?!?! I think I liked the pets after I got Speedy. I think him and the firefly are my personal favorites, but my wishlist has the Dark Whelpling and the Tiny Green Whelpling (favorite color is green!). There’s a freaking adorable panda too, but I won’t link it since seeing it will only make me sad that I don’t/can’t get it, lol.

Anyway, Boomstik is out of ammo and needs to reload, so what were your first pets? Your favorites? Wishlist? Sound off!


When You Have Raid Fright

I’ve made a lot of hunter-related posts lately. I figured I should write something different today so I wouldn’t bore my readers who aren’t hunters.

I’m fortunate to have been able to raid a bit more the past week. It’s starting to look like a regular cycle of weekend Serpentshrine Cavern, Monday Karazhan, and Thursday raid with the guild. Knights of Redemption made its progression kills on Hydross and Lurker last weekend, and we were there for both of them. After a few attempts on Tidewalker, they may actually down him this weekend (though I won’t be able to make it). My guild made more attempts on Archimonde on Thursday to no avail, and we also found out one of the guilds in the server that’s a bit ahead of us took 7 hours to down Archimonde on a Hyjal run that night.

As I’m raiding throughout the week, I’ve been noticing something in my performance. It’s similar to stage fright. I call it raid fright.

In my guild, I’m usually a standby raider, helping fill in empty slots if they need an extra DPS. It’s been my general attitude towards the guild for a while. I will do instances with them from time to time, but I mainly stay for the company. That’s why I PUG a lot and raid with other guilds.

Normally, I’d say I’m pretty on top of things when I go into an instance or a raid. There are rare days where I may be off in my performance, making accidental pulls, being sloppy with crowd control, etc. But in general, I perform my best during these PUG situations. One of the raid leaders of KoR thinks I’ve been doing well and is eager to get me into 25-mans whenever they are able to raid. But as I raid more regularly with my guild when needed, I’m starting to see differences in my performance that I didn’t really notice before. Earlier this week, I managed to pull extra packs of mobs with my pet in Karazhan, pulled aggro on several occasions throughout the night, etc. In Hyjal the other night, I was very sluggish and slow during trash waves. My response time was longer than what I’m used to. The same happened for Rage Winterchill and Anetheron. (I was subbed out for Kaz’rogal and Azgalor.) At Archimonde, I was too slow to activate my Tears of the Goddess during air burst and died first during one attempt and not running to a decurser because I didn’t notice I had Grip of the Legion on me during another attempt. It was pretty disheartening.

Why do I think raid fright happens?

For one, it happens when you’re thrown in a situation you’re not familiar with. In my case, I leveled my way through PUGs and meeting people outside my guild. I didn’t really start running instances with guildmates until I arrived in Outland. At that point, during Slave Pens, a guildmate commented on how well I was doing at chain trapping. In PUG situations, you want to leave a name for yourself, hence you try to perform your best. However, if you are having bad day, a slightly sloppy performance doesn’t really harm you since you most likely won’t see the other people in the group ever again. In a guild raid, you still want to perform your best to put your name out there, but when you are among the core raiders, you’re afraid of making a mistake. You become so afraid that it begins to distract you and actually hampers performance instead of improving it. Despite having been explained the fights, you become so cautious that a sudden change in the environment that requires immediate action causes you to panic.

I think the other reason raid fright happens has to do with the environment of the raid itself. If a raid team sets its expectations too high for a relatively new raider, it may perceive him/her as an actual hindrance rather than a member of the team, however temporary. The team must understand when they pull in others who do not regularly come, they will not know what kind of expectations it has of them. I’m not talking about not being a general idiot. I’m talking about the raid’s attitude towards a wipe and mistakes. If the raid is intolerant of these occasional things, it will alienate the new member and make him/her feel even more uncomfortable. There is too much pressure than the person is used to, and it’s even more difficult in mentally tasking encounters.

How can you cure raid fright then?

Much like stage fright, the only way to cure it is more practice. But practice alone is not enough. The effort has to be mutual. The raid team can’t go under the impression that the new member will perform his/her best the first few times around because they are still getting used to the environment. Raid leaders must be in a positive attitude rather than yelling at people for performing less than spectacular. Encourage the raid members. The more positive experience the new member has, the better he/she will perform. They will not feel as much that they are under the lens being reviewed of their actions.

In all honesty, I envy people who can just come into a group and still perform very well the way they do normally.


So Many Things, So Little Time

A blogger’s dilemma: You find many things you want to write about, but it takes so much work and time to do them all, partially contributed by my lack of knowledge in certain areas.

Some posts I have on the drawing writing board currently over the next week (or two) (in rough priority):

  1. Improving Hunter Raiding: WoW Web Stats. This one may take a while since it’s essentially a translation and learning effort. More later.
  2. Marksmanship Pet Selection and Synergy. Many people come to this site looking for this information. It’s been a long time coming, and it’s gonna take a few more days. Please stay tuned. :-)
  3. Choosing A Partner: Aldor and Scryer. An overview of what hunters can get from each faction so they can best choose in the long run and be satisfied with that choice.
  4. Hunter Reputation Guide. This will take some time to compile. It’s essentially a brief overview of what hunters can get through reputation from each faction, but not as detailed as the Aldor and Scryer version.
  5. Trophies of a Hunter, Part 2. The previous installment was such a hit (800+ views!), yet I never had a chance to finish the continuation post. They say nothing is better than the original, but oh well.

So this is why bloggers need guest authors… *coughFillerPostscough*


Introduction!

Hey everyone! 

Loronar introduced me a bit already, but I’m your friendly neighborhood boomstik!  Aptly named Ihasboomstik.

Loronar and I are good friends (cept when we’re rolling for lewtz, jk jk) and he’s right that I’m a BM spec hunter.  I used to roll MM until I hit Outland and didn’t like how my awesome bear (Bigwhitebar) was having trouble with same level mobs or how I would easily pull aggro off him or how I had to drink pretty much after every kill.  So I specced BM and got me a ravager (Imaspikyroar). 

Loronar is more hardcore about this game than I am.  I took the longest out of all of our group of friends to hit 70 and get purples.  I just started running Kara only a few weeks ago, too.

In any case, feel free to direct any questions or messages to me or anything.  I can be found at Ihasboomstik, on my pally tank alt Ihasaggro, or on my own blog at my Citadel of Zoning.

In the meantime, I should probably get back to work instead of posting.


Just A Few Things

You may have noticed the layout change when you visited the site this morning if you’re a regular visitor rather than a feed reader. The old layout got a bit too plain and unfriendly to me after a while. I like this one very much because it looks clean and clearly separates content and sidebar material.

You might also have noticed I’ve been putting polls up. The last poll about the progression of my readers is now closed. Half of you responded as players in T4 content (Karazhan, Gruul’s, Magtheridon). A quarter of you are in T6 content (Hyjal, Black Temple). One-eighth are in T5 (SSC, Tempest Keep), and another one-eighth in Sunwell. To me, the results seemed to match my initial anticipation and the general trend of people speeding through T5 content after the removal of Hyjal and BT attunements. And I’m glad some people in Sunwell also find my blog worth reading.

A new poll has been put up about your preferred spec if you’re a hunter. (Non-hunters can vote the fourth option too!) This allows me to gauge what kind of readership I have.

From now on, you might also see posts from a good hunter friend of mine. Ihasboomstik started playing about the same time as me (though he played pre-BC WoW for a bit in the early days). The difference between us is that he’s a Beast Mastery hunter. I’ll leave the rest of the introduction to him when he makes a post.

Patch 2.4.3 is apparently going live today. The most significant change for hunters will be:

Growl: Pets will no longer generate additional threat from this ability based on attack power buffs cast on them. Attack power buffs on their master will still indirectly increase the threat generated by the pet’s Growl.

This means buffs such as Blessing of Might won’t affect a pet’s Growl. For marksmanship hunters, this is perhaps a bit more significant because (if it’s doing what I think it’s doing) Trueshot Aura will no longer make our pets’ Growl stronger. I guess I’ll find out tonight to see if I lose aggro more often while doing dailies. Mania has also confirmed that this will occur.

The other nice fix for hunters is the correction of the Kill Command bug.

Hunters: Using an instant ability after Steady Shot will no longer lock out auto shot.

Aside from that, I think I will finally have the motivation to level my alts to 30 for ground mounts. There should be a good accumulation of rested XP already.


Haste: A Balancing Act

If you remember hunter gear before Patch 2.4, you may recall that there were very few Haste gear pieces available for us. In general, many of these Haste items are now available from the new Shattered Sun badge vendor, from Magister’s Terrace, and from Sunwell Plateau.

If you’ve read Howitzer’s guide to marksmanship hunters, you might notice that he strongly shies away from Haste rating. Why is this so? Feanoro from Trueshot Aura can explain Haste mechanics and how it factors into the 1:1.5 marksmanship shot rotation. Because by the time your hunter is level 70 you will be using a quiver or ammunition pouch with 15% increased weapon speed, a marksman’s attack speed is cutting very close to the optimal attack speed for a 1:1.5 shot rotation.

In considering some of my gear choices, I’ve decided to stay away from two things:

  1. Patch 2.4 Haste gear, and
  2. Ranged weapons with less than 2.90 attack speed.

These two considerations go hand-in-hand. If you’ve done theorycrafting, you will know that the formula for actual attack speed is:

\mbox{Attack Speed} = \frac{\mbox{Weapon Speed}}{\displaystyle \prod_{n} (1 + \mbox{Haste Pct}_n)} \times \frac{\displaystyle 1}{\displaystyle 1 + \frac{\sum_{n} \mbox{Haste Rtg}_n}{1570}}

(LaTeX is awesome. Can you tell I’m an enginerd?)

Without any haste gear, you may drop the second term in its entirety. This leaves you with only the first term taking into account any skill-based attack speed increases such as quiver/ammo pouch effects, Rapid Fire, Quick Shots, etc. If you are using a 2.90 weapon, you will find that your attack speed is approximately 2.52 with a quiver or ammo pouch that provides 15% increased speed. Using a 3.00 weapon, this number is approximately 2.60.

With the proc from Improved Aspect of the Hawk, you are reduced to 2.19 and 2.27, respectively. The faster you shoot, the harder it is to keep a 1:1.5 shot rotation. This is why I’ve considered taking the 5 points from this talent in the Beast Mastery tree and putting it into Endurance Training instead for raids. (Readers: Good idea or no?)

Although the 1:1 rotation does fine to keep up with our DPS when we are low on mana, we can’t always tell when the Quick Shots proc will kick in. It’s best that we are able to control ourselves by using Rapid Fire or through the use of [Abacus of Violent Odds].

I’m not saying Haste is bad. As a matter of fact, hunters who use a fast shot rotation will benefit from it. But if you are a marksman, you’re sacrificing the ability to use the damage dealing special shots that we specialize in. We want to be able to minimize this as much as possible and to control our environment.

So what does this mean? No [Crossbow of Relentless Strikes] and its 2.80 attack speed, at least for now. Choose [Tunic of the Ranger Lord] over [Hauberk of the War Bringer]. Sure, Heroic Magister’s Terrace is more a pain than normal, but it’s better for you in the long run. A lot of these new itemizations will benefit the beast master more through their fast rotation and 2.0 attack speeds. There are many, better items for marksmen (especially since Intellect also adds to our attack power).

Use Haste at your own discretion. There technically is no wrong way to do it. You just need to be aware of what it does.


Dare to Surpass Casual

Last week, Lassirra of The Hunter’s Mark posted a powerful tirade on finding herself a casual player by circumstance.

When I first read her remarks, I sympathized with many of her frustrations. I don’t want to beat a dead horse by ranting my woes with finding raid opportunities again, but I do want to say a few things. This weekend, I took some time off from playing and considered why I want to continue playing this game. University starts for me again in a month and a half, and it being senior year, I’m bound to be very busy with preparations for graduation.

I’m approaching on a year of playing World of Warcraft, and I’m not sure how long I will be playing this game. This was my first MMO, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I admit that I had my doubts at continuing into Wrath, which would have meant that this blog would effectively discontinue once it is released. But when I looked at the content of the new expansion again, I found a renewed interest in what brought me to play in the first place. I enjoy looking at screenshots and reading people’s adventures and dreaming that I would someday be able to see it. Screenshots of Wrath alpha is tugging at me to give it a chance to rekindle that inner curiosity.

But before I go off on a tangent from my topic, I want to introduce my concept of a hybrid casual/hardcore player. The casual player enjoys the daily routine of the game as long as they are able to experience it with friends and having fun. The hardcore player has an objective of playing the game and seeks support in being able to achieve those objectives. But what about those who go beyond casual but are not quite ready for hardcore? We are the ones who are willing to work for our positions and help others but know when enough is enough. We are a level beyond the casual but can’t quite fit in with the hardcore, like the nice guy/girl stereotype in society.

Lassirra and those who responded to her tirade can point out that we are often found held back by others. The problem is, we don’t like getting out of our comfort zone. That’s human nature. As a result, I sit on the LFG looking to PUG raids and Heroics too often. I watch as everyone else in my guild but me get picked for 25-man raids. It felt as if I was being overlooked even when I’ve worked hard at being good in what I do. But I found that I have to make a name for myself; I can’t just sit there and let opportunities handed to me on a silver platter. If we don’t get out of our comfort zone, we never get to experience what is out there. It’s hard to do, but the key is doing it step-by-step.

I have found two guilds I can raid with, provided that they have holes to fill in their 25-man groups. I gathered up the courage to contact people I’ve met through my own journeys and not by introductions through a mutual acquaintance. So far, the results have been quite positive. I will be a bench raider, not quite hardcore but definitely beyond casual. As a tip to those who are looking for new homes but just aren’t comfortable enough to leave the people they are currently with: look around you. Guilds rise and fall, and they especially rise. These two groups I have come into contact with have been around for a month on average, and they are great people. They are more than willing to get people that will help them get started.

I’m thankful for the advice from the Blog Azeroth community. I can’t thank Jezrael enough for first getting my gears rolling on this issue since her comments on progression laziness. It’s been a struggle trying to figure out what’s holding me back, but it was worth the trouble. Matticus has told me that I have to know first what I’m looking for to be happy with a guild. Aurdon was also supportive of my frustrations and desire to move on. Then after reading Lassirra’s post over and over again, I decided it was time for me to make a decision.

A setback is never a failure until you give up on trying to fix it. It’s the same way that frustrations are not signs of burnout until you refuse to find a way to remedy them.

I hope you all had a nice July 4 weekend if you were able to enjoy the holiday. Catching up with blog reading is always hard to do…


Making the Environment Work for You

It’s cool when the company you’re doing an internship with has a blog that writes about MMOs and virtual environments. One of the posts on the blog brings up the topic of user-generated content.

An example was how a raid leader used a dead gnome as a placemarker for where the tank should place a boss. I’m sure you all know by now that positioning is always important in raid boss fights. The objective of the tank was not to successfully tank the boss. It was to tank the boss so that it would land directly on top of the dead gnome when the boss is defeated. The raid leader shared that they had no more problems with raid positioning from then on.

If you’ve ever gone deep into the quests in Netherstorm, you might remember [Archmage Vargoth's Staff]. It summons an image of Archmage Vargoth to complete and take new quests. I’ve never done this before, but an item like this (since it is not destroyed upon completion of the quest chain) can be used to identify critical positioning for raids. It might even help in positioning the raid for a Nightbane or Prince Malchezaar fight.

World of Warcraft provides little to no option for user-generated content, tools that may be necessary to enhance the gameplay. Because of this, people get creative with their environment. I bet you haven’t done musical chairs in Karazhan‘s Banquet Hall. (I haven’t either, but I would love to!) You can also play guild bank checkers and the usual steam tonk wars.

Cynra once told me she used to be a top designer for player houses in Ultima Online. The reason why many people ask for features like player housing and guild banks is to allow for more customization and interaction. It used to be that a guild bank is located on one of the senior members’ bank alts set aside especially for the guild. By adding guild banks, it opens up a whole new system of checks and monitoring to make sure people don’t abuse the authority. Player housing can allow us to brag about and share our spoils with others. (If Blizzard ever decides to implement player housing, I would definitely hire her to decorate my house.)

These things help promote the collaborative environment of an MMO. If this is a vision that Blizzard has for Wrath of the Lich King, I can’t wait to see what open PvP in Lake Wintergrasp is going to be like. Being able to control siege machines and destroy buildings (DotA style?) is a great way to bring about more player interaction and coordination.

How have you made the environment work to enhance your gameplay?


All Good Things…*

Larísa (formerly of Larísa’s Corner) of Pink Pigtail Inn posed a question that was once asked by Matticus to Phaelia.

Let’s hypothetically assume Blizzard goes out of business and decides to shut down their servers and WoW for good. You have 5 hours before the server shutdown is permanent. What would you do in 5 hours?

Although it is doubtful that WoW will not outlast my actual interest in the game, it made me pause and rethink my gameplay for a moment. The current people I know were introduced to me by friends who brought me into WoW over the course of the past year. They are very generous and helpful people. They’ve allowed me to use a few things from the guild bank so I could enchant my gear, tanked and DPS’d and healed my PUG instances, helped complete group quests, and did dailies with me. Yesterday, the ultimate act of kindness from one of them was to put together a Zul’Aman group for those who were inexperienced and have never been in there.

If the above hypothetical situation were to happen (and if I were elsewhere), I would return to that guild where these people belong to. I would spend time with them and go with them to do whatever they were doing. I’ve never stayed in contact with people I met through gaming for very long. I may have some of their contact info, but I would rarely talk with them. The only thing I would miss the most is the daily contribution from Blog Azeroth. All the posts and insights and sharing we do through blogging brought this game’s experience to a whole new level for me. It’s the daily readings about accomplishments and setbacks that I will miss.

If I had more time, I would take a whirlwind tour of Azeroth and Outland and fill in those grayed out areas in my maps. Places like the Horde starting zones and pre-BC endgame territories I never had much chance to see. The game was built so extensively for a reason, thus it would be a loss to not see everything there is to offer.

There are several options of where I would leave my character. One of my favorite places in the game is on the balcony of the building which houses the ammunition vendor on Aldor Rise. The view there is just stunning. Another option would be to return to Teldrassil, the roots of my hunter and also where he tamed his first pet. Another would be to leave him flying the skies of Nagrand, where I fell in love with Outland.

Larísa is right about one thing: we are not our armor and weapons. But one bow has always been a part of me. The [Ranger Bow] was one of the reasons I wanted to play a hunter when I was looking into WoW. I would buy another one from the auction house and log out with it.

It would give me the sense that I’ve come back full circle to the reasons why I loved the game in the first place: exploration and excitement.

*Who can identify where the title comes from?


The Demise of Tier 5 Content

Your guild raided Serpentshrine Caverns and Tempest Keep. After several months of hard work, your raids feel apart when encountering Lady Vashj and Kael’thas Sunstrider. Patch 2.4 lifted the attunement requirement for Mount Hyjal and beyond, so you decided to poke around. First week, your guild attempts the trash mobs. It was sloppy at first, but your raid got better in 2 weeks’ time. When you took down Rage Winterchill, you became more confident and decided to push forward. One by one, Anetheron, Kaz’rogal, Azgalor fell.

All the while, you let Vashj and Kael’thas live for one week after another.

Sound familiar to you?

From what I can see, there are two categories of guilds in terms of progression at the moment: those who have completed Karazhan and are trying to field enough people for 25-man content, and those whose condition I have described above.

There are a few who already have the 25 people together to jump from that first category into regular 25-man, tier 5 content. Because there are so few, there’s a group of people who are caught in the limbo in between tier 4 and tier 6 and have nowhere to go, myself included. 

Zul’Aman was initially introduced as tier 4.5 content with the intention of keeping players occupied before the tier 6.5 content of Sunwell Plateau was completed. Unfortunately, this retroactive introduction of lower tiers meant that there were many people in tier 5 who were going into Zul’Aman. If a raid could not get together because of missing people, at least they had enough people for a 10-man. Unfortunately, this left out those in limbo once again, which sets up for the disparity between a Zul’Aman PuG and an actual raid.

The Shattered Sun Offensive badge rewards brought a whole new level of badge gear. It used to be that some of the older badge gear would be a stepping stone to get into tier 5 if you can’t get that gear you want to drop from Karazhan. These rewards and the drops from Magisters’ Terrace could also replace tier 5 (and even tier 6) gear, but at a much smaller, 5-man content.

So take your pick, 5-man and 10-man versus 25-man. You will see why tier 5 is being compromised in favor of all this filler content.

As much as I want to see SSC and TK, there are so few groups who are first venturing into it and intend to do it regularly. At this point, it’s merely a stepping stone into tier 6 because the attunements have been lifted. In addition, the groups I have found in tier 5 are full on hunters.

So now I’m stuck with SSO gear and have nowhere to go but to battlegrounds when not looking for a Magtheridon group to get my Champion of the Naaru title. Why am I even trying to get a [Medallion of the Alliance] for an Archimonde fight that I might not see?

Thanks for messing up the delicate balance of progression, Blizzard.


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