Adventures in Twinking

Dammerung and I and some other Sidhe Devils are cooking up some twinks to play in the battlegrounds together. Initially we were going to do level 19 twinks, and then decided upon 29 instead, which was a bit of a relief, partly because Warsong Gulch is my least favorite BG, and partly because in reading about how to build a 19 twink, it sounded a bit intense. To maximize your character, you need a small army of level 70 friends willing to run you through dungeons repeatedly to get the BoP drops (again, mindful of not getting too much XP, so this means them clearing the place out and then bringing you in for the boss kills), walk you through lengthy quest chains, and lead you safely through all the areas you ever hope to explore during your career. I totally understand the point of twinking guilds — these characters are not easy to build alone. I don’t have the resources to build the perfect twink, but even building a pretty good one was requiring that I outline a fairly specific plan of attack. The 29 twink seems to have a lot more possibilities for outfitting with BoE drops and PvP rewards, it seems, plus there’s a lot more room for preparation during leveling. I’ll still probably be asking for help with some quest chains, but the process won’t be quite as intense. 🙂

So, this weekend, I spent time leveling my new little rogue, hoping to get her into the BGs for the first time.

Part I: pre-Twink

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m not that big into melee DPS. I’ve only recently started really enjoying my cat druid (now that she’s in her 30’s), and I think I might like the rogue even better. At first it was kind of boring, but now that she can dual wield and has a few other tricks under her belt (hiyaaaah! *kick!*), I think I might want to start another rogue to level to 70 at some point.

Anyway, she finished off Dun Murogh, and then I took her to Elwynn to do the green quests there. There were quite a few other players in the area doing the same quests, so I kept my head down, hoping not to party with anyone because I wanted to get as much XP as I could. I helped a few people out of sticky situations (usually involving murlocs), but otherwise minded my own business. At one point, I was standing by a quest giver and another player also there whispered me: “Can u use swords?” I said yes. “U want [sword of some sort with +1 agility]?” I said that it would be better than what I had, but that I hadn’t trained in swords yet. “Come get it,” they said, and invited me to a group. I joined, met them, they gave me the sword, and I thanked them. I did a few emotes, bowing and so forth, getting ready to say goodbye. “Wow u need better gear. Need sum gold?” HA!!! I told them no thanks, that I’d be fine…

I had to chuckle, given my plans for this toon, but honestly, before a character gets into their 20’s, I really don’t pay attention to what they’re wearing and only upgrade with quest rewards or things I find. It’s not uncommon for me to hit level 20, accept a quest reward, and find that I am replacing a piece of vendor trash. Really. My gear was apparently so pathetic at this point, a random kid was pitying me and offering me gold!

Part II: First Forays into Warsong Gulch

As soon as I hit level 13, I was itching to go into Warsong Gulch, but to avoid the wrath of my teammates upon seeing such a lowbie in there, I decided I’d stay out of until at least level 16. (This was the level Dammy suggested I might actually be able to survive.) At 16, I finally equipped the +agi gear I’d bought in the AH, and entered the queue for WSG. Within a minute or two, my baby rogue entered the battlegrounds for the first time.

Thoughts: 1) Starting at the top of the map instead of the bottom is weird. 2) Although I wasn’t doing tons of damage, my improved gouge very often incapacitated the enemy long enough for one of my teammates to slaughter them, so I still felt useful. 3) It is weird to fight the Horde. I find myself confused by the alerts when the flags are picked up and captured (wait, was that us? oh no…), so I hesitated to say anything encouraging in /bg like I normally do.

We put up a pretty good fight, but ended up losing the BG. I queued again, already addicted.

As useful as I felt in that first shot at WSG, I felt useless the second time. I was getting one- and two-shotted all over the place. It seemed that the Horde twinks were finally out to play, and man, was it frustrating. It wasn’t as bad as one of the BGs the next day, where they camped us by the graveyard farming us for honor for so long that we eventually stopped rezzing just to get them to cap the last flag and end the BG, but it was frustrating. It felt like we just couldn’t get/keep the enemy flag, nor could we defend our own. Gah. Another loss.

After a break to grab some flightpaths, I decided to go back in one more time. This was Saturday night, just after midnight, and I wasn’t sleepy, so what the heck… This time, the Alliance twinks were out! Lots of my team’s guild names had “twink” in them, and I noticed quite a few folks with enchantments on their weapons. We destroyed the Horde. It was amazing. We capped the first two flags pretty quickly, and upon grabbing the flag the third time, our twinked out flag carrier stayed down on the Horde side of the map and ran around. The enemies came up to him and he’d stab them a few times and down they’d go. I ran around next to him in case he dropped the flag, but he never did. I sprinted around him, gouged and kicked his attackers, and soaked up the honor. After about 5-6 minutes of messing with them, he ran the flag back and we won. It was pretty freaking cool to watch.

Part III: Gearing in the Deadmines

Sunday, I worked on the Deadmines quest chains. From what I’ve read, the most desirable chest armor for level 19 twink rogues is the Blackened Defias Armor, a possible drop off VanCleef. Many guides warn that you may have to have your level 70 buddies kill VanCleef numerous times to get it (so plan ahead, mindful of XP, etc). I was just planning to get the also desirable Tunic of Westfall instead, which is a quest reward from killing him. I wasn’t going to stay at 19 for long anyway, I suspected, and it has nice agility on it. I worked my way through the Defias Brotherhood quest line until I got to the escort quest, and then asked if anyone in the guild might help me out. Ash immediately volunteered and met me in Westfall. Yay!

We burned through the escort quest and then made our way into the instance. I picked up red bandanas and goodies for the other quests, along with loads of ore and cloth. Ash was an aggro machine, though I did get into trouble a few times. He’d run in the room and try to gather up all the mobs, and sometimes they’d notice me before they noticed him, so I’d get smushed. Staying outside the room wasn’t always safe either because of the sneaky patrols in there. I could defend myself against a non-elite, but the elites usually killed me in a couple hits. Ow!

We had great fun though, and I only died a few times. (On the bright side, I’m pretty good at navigating my way into that instance now.) Sneed’s Shredder dropped the Buzzer Blade, which was a huge upgrade in DPS for me. I picked up a weapon for my other hand that gave me more agility, but I can’t remember what it was (not a blue, anyway). The Blackened Defias Belt dropped, which was pretty exciting because I picked up the Leggings in my last Deadmines run and never equipped them on my old rogue. Yay!

We had a few close calls as we worked our way up the boat, thanks to my large aggro radius. Ash kept us alive though, and slaughtered everything in our path. (I was down to 10 health once — hehe, close one!) We got up to the top and he killed VanCleef. I looted everything else first, and then finally VanCleef. The drop? The Blackened Defias Armor. 😮 /hug Ash

So, maybe I will stick around level 19 for just a little while after all… 😀 I won’t have the perfect twink gear, but what I have so far is pretty darn good. I’ll now level to 19 and bide my time in WSG until my partners in crime get their twinks built.

Fun!

I’m a Griefer

My horde guild organized a raid on some Alliance towns last night. It was advertised as a blood drive (hee hee), and our plan was to march to Darkshire, stir up trouble by killing NPCs (and whoever else stood in our way), and if nobody came to defend, we’d move on to Redridge Mountains and Lakeshire. We went in hopes of the Alliance drumming up some defense and giving us a good fight. There were even plans of planting someone in Stormwind to alert folks to come defend if the message did not get out on its own.

There were 13 of us, mostly 70s but a few folks in their 60s and one very brave level 38 hunter. We laid waste to Darkshire and cleared out two of the buildings, and kept killing guards as they respawned to keep the local defense messages flowing. Just a few Alliance players showed up, and some even flagged, but they were no match for our small army. We ended up chasing them down, through the buildings in some cases, and all in all, it was really fun. After a few rounds of this, we decided to look for a better matched fight and moved on to the next zone.

At first, our march was slowed by respawning guards in Darkshire, but after we got further from town, were slowed by a rogue who would randomly sap folks in the raid. It was amazing. He didn’t attack, he just stealthed up, sapped, and the person would say “He got me!” and we’d all laugh about it and try to find him. We had a few hunters with us, so when he unstealthed at one point (don’t know if someone managed to tag him with a trap or whether he was just running off), we were able to get him. It was awesomely fun for us, and I’ll bet he got a charge out of it, too. Made me want to level my rogue!

Some unflagged Alliance 70s caught up with us, and marched with us to Lakeshire. We killed some NPCs (including the gryphon master), and then tried to fortify at the end of the bridge near town. When the Alliance got a sizeable group toegher, they all flagged up and the real fight began. We were on the side of the bridge near town, and they were coming at us from across the bridge. A second group of them attacked us from the side, coming from town, so we moved up the hill a bit. That’s when the guards stormed us. Between all the guards and the growing number of Alliance 70s, they eventually obliterated us all, but lemme tell ya… it was FUN. It was a great fight. At that point, we decided to unflag and wait before resurrecting because a bunch of folks had to log off, and with no reinforcements coming, there was no way we’d get our bodies back anyway.

While we were waiting, one of the funniest moments of the night… There was an gnome called Bilbo wandering unflagged along with the group, just watching. He’d been lingering since we were in Duskwood and we were all hoping he’d flag up so we could kill him, just because of the name violation. When we were all standing there in ghost form, he finally got the nerve to flag up!! One of our shamans seized the opportunity. He quickly resurrected, killed Bilbo, and was of course destroyed in short order by the 20 other Alliance standing by, but he said it was totally worth it. Hee hee hee… many chuckles in vent over that one.

Mr. Ess didn’t come along for the raid, but he watched a bunch of it, and this morning we were talking about it a bit more. He said that I had to acknowledge that while it may have been fun, what we did was griefing.

“Well, that wasn’t our intent,” I explained. “We were looking for a fight.”

“But you have to admit it was griefing.”

“We were hoping to get something going with some 70s that showed up. We weren’t killing the NPCs just to make the lives of the lowbies difficult.”

“Yes, but that’s still what you did. That’s griefing.”

I recounted the time he and I were in Thousand Needles, standing at that little camp, getting ready to turn in a quest when Night Elf druid passing by smoked the NPC in one shot with his moonfire, waved to us, and rode off. Now THAT is griefing. Mr. Ess said I had to admit what we did was griefing, too, or else I’d be a hypocrite. What about the folks that wanted to use the gryphon master in Lakeshire?

“Ok, it wasn’t our intent to grief anyone, but I can understand if people felt griefed by what we did.”

“That’s like saying you’re sorry if someone was offended. Not quite the same as saying you’re sorry.”

“I definitely don’t feel bad about what we did. We had fun, and I think the other folks that showed up to fight did, too.”

“That’s fine, as long as you admit it was griefing.”

Gah.

Ok, fine. Last night, we undoubtedly griefed somebody, intentionally or not, so that made us griefers. I was part of that group, so technically, I am a griefer. Fair enough.

It is interesting to think about though… I still believe intent should be considered, but maybe that’s just me defending my actions. I think there’s a difference between intentionally trying to make another player’s life difficult and what we did last night. I can hear in my brain the level 15 me standing there in the Crossroads saying, “Why can’t those Alliance *&#^@#’s go roll on a PvP server instead of hassling us?” I can see now that maybe they weren’t trying to inconvenience us, they were just hoping to get some defense out there for some world PvP. They don’t want to PvP all the time, as on a PvP server, just a taste now and then. Take out the NPCs to alert the opposite faction to your desire for some bloodletting, and wait for the defense to show up. Why not go pick on someone your own size? You want NPCs that are easy to kill… you want the focus to be fighting the opposite faction, so you pick an area where you can swat the respawning NPCs like flies.

It’s not for everyone, I suppose, but I can see both sides of it now. And, I’m sure that wasn’t the last raid on an Alliance town that I’ll participate in. Apparently, I do like to partake in a little bit of griefing, even if my intentions aren’t mean. It’s fun! Sorry, Alliance. 😉

No more BGs on weeknights…

…unless I am going in with a group of folks I know, because it is just. Too. Annoying. Also, it apparently turns me into a raving lunatic. Last night…

[Scene: WSG ends, the Alliance wins, and I storm into the living room where Mr. Ess is reading his book.]

Me: You would not &*#*ing believe what just happened. We had the Alliance flag all the way at our base, but both flags were out so our carrier couldn’t cap it yet. A bunch of us were defending him in the flag room and when a wave of Alliance came in, we all attacked but the kid with the flag just #*&^ing stood there, not moving, not defending himself at all. We all died, they got their flag back.

Mr. Ess: (looks up)

Me: The @*&#ing kid just just #*&^ing STOOD THERE. So, someone said, “dude, why didn’t you attack or anything?” And the kid said, “I was afk i had to let the dog out lol.” WHAT THE $%^&%$!!! You were letting the ^&#&@ dog out??? If you’ve got the flag and you need to go afk, give the #(*&$ing flag to someone else!! Who DOES that kind of thing??!! RAR!!!!!! (storms back into the office)

Mr. Ess: 😮

[Curtains close.]

So… yeah. I’m reminded of when I realized I needed to quit tournament Scrabble. (Don’t laugh, it’s true!) I was playing in the lowest division and my opponent was a little old man named Herb who played only three letter words and muttered the entire game. “Bat, bat, bat, as in baseball bat, I like baseball, 13 for me.” “Hoe, hoe in my garden like a spade in my shed, that’s 16.” As if that weren’t bad enough, every time I tried to open parts of the board, he closed them, and we ended up building the diagonal staircase of doom. I felt myself reduced to his horrifying style of play, lobbing off three letter words, fishing for better tiles and praying for a bingo there wouldn’t be a spot for anyway. He beat me (by a slim margin, but it was a win) and I left the board disgusted with him and myself. After the game, I went to my Scrabble friend I was there with and completely trashed the old man. Sure, much of my reaction was rooted in frustration with myself in this particular case, but my response toward this other player was still needlessly nasty.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but I realize I have a competitive streak that can make me unpleasant and unforgiving at times. I can forgive noobness (because we all have to start somewhere), but not passing off the flag if you’re going afk is just stupid. Yes, if I had a dog and it looked like it was about to relieve itself on the carpet, I would go afk to let it out, too, but I would first pass the flag to one of the many people helping to defend it. That’s common sense.

I should clarify: I don’t vent my spleen in the battlegrounds themselves, just like I didn’t blow up at Herb. I’m not one of those people crying the BG chat in all caps how stupid everyone is or how everyone is a noob. Instead, I shout at my monitor or my poor husband (receiver of all my venting — that was in the vows, right?). Unfortunately, I’m betting after last night, Mr. Ess (and now, maybe all of you) would hesitate to step into the battlegrounds with me. That sucks because you’re an intelligent lot that would certainly pass the flag if you were going afk, I’m sure. But still, I understand. I don’t like that cursing madwoman I have the potential to become either.

So, I think I’ll give the BGs a rest for a while. I got enough marks last night to buy my Red Skeletal Warhorse, so now I’ll level my mage to 60 and proceed through Outland. From here on out, unless I’m going into the BGs with people I know, I’ll limit my BG play to early mornings on the weekends when there seem to be more sensible people around.

Weekend Recap: PvP

(Yeah, who would have thought I’d have so much to say about my PvP activities that it would actually warrant a whole separate post?)

My frost mage spent a lot of time in the battlegrounds this weekend. Part of the reason for all the PvP is that I’d really like to save a little money on the epic mount for her. (Also, it means she could easily ride something cool like a wolf or a war horse instead of the chicken.) I realize it’s the training that’s the expensive part, but with my hunter saving for an epic flying mount, plus two toons ~60, I’m going to need to save every silver. (I joked with my guild that it was like having all your kids in college at once. It’s ‘spensive! Maybe I’ll wait a while before leveling my priest to 60!)

I hit the BGs early Sunday morning and queued for both WSG and AB. I got a bite for WSG first and entered the battleground. When the battle began, there were 6 Horde, 4 Alliance. Heh. We got the message that the game would end in five minutes, and one of the Horde folks left immediately. I’d never seen this before, so I stuck around to find out what would happen. We ran our butts off to the Alliance flag and carried it back twice within that five minutes to win 2-0. I don’t know what the Alliance did because I didn’t see any of them. How’s that for easy marks? I ran WSG three more times, and it wasn’t until the third and fourth runs that we started to see good solid competition from the Alliance, but the Horde still won all the matches. Personally, I felt I did well. I even had the opportunity to run the flag once! Oh, and in honor of Daxe, I ran one of the matches using my fishing pole instead of my new Staff of the Twin Worlds. The staff really does have better stats. 😛 )

I was hesitant to hit AB again after my recent frustrations there, but I only had about 10 of the 30 AB marks needed for the epic mount. So, I queued and hoped for the best. It turns out the Sunday morning crew is much easier to deal with than the Thursday night crew. We lost one close fight, had an easy-peasy 5-capper (since we outnumbered them 9 to 4), and won the other matches thanks to really good defense and communication. I took it upon myself to coach the team a bit. I’d occasionally call out which nodes needed defense, encouraged people to fight by the flags and not let the enemy pull them out onto the road, and was relentlessly positive about our progress. I thought I might be overdoing it a bit, but one teammate said, “I love your positive attitude!” Heh… it’s all good while you’re winning, I guess. It helped that there were a few others in there that agreed with the strategy of capturing three nodes and defending them, so I wasn’t the only voice reminding people not to get greedy. I encountered these same players in BG after BG that morning, and I’m hoping to run into them next weekend, too.

Last night, I finished my weekend of WoW with a few matches in AV. In the first two, I did something I’ve never done before: I stayed and defended the graveyards until they capped. I’ve always heard people yelling for others to do this, and have never been sure if anyone bothered. It’s a little boring to stand there for two minutes doing nothing but buffing whoever runs by, but we did have to fend off a few attackers. There was another guy who was following the same pattern, and we met up at both graveyards in both BGs. “Come here often?” he asked. Heh. We won both of those matches.

Somewhere along the line, I picked up a few AV quests, and managed to satisfy one of them (to kill Vanndar Stormpike) during one of the first two runs. The other involved getting a banner from a cave in the south part of AV. On my third trip through, I decided to check it out. I wandered south and found the cave, and was bummed to find that it was filled with gnolls. They were below my level, not hard to kill, but what a pain. I started chipping away at them, and hoped nobody would think I was hiding or afk. After a few minutes, a shadow priest appeared and we killed a few gnolls together. I conjured some water for him and asked if he was looking for the banner, and he said yes. I thought we’d work together, but instead he decided to dart in and try to run past a bunch of them. Uhh… yeah. Didn’t work. He was killed and fortunately, I didn’t grab aggro on any of them, so was safe to keep picking them off one by one. He apparently got far enough in that he couldn’t retrieve his body safely, so I had to kill my way back to his body before we could work together. Fortunately, in ghost form, he was able to find the banner, so at least we knew where to go. We retrieved his body, got the banner, and then decided that allowing ourselves to be squished and rez in the graveyard would be much faster. 🙂 Within just a few minutes of our resurrecting in the graveyard, the Alliance won the BG. Alas… but at least I got that stinking quest done. I ended up getting loads of XP from it, too. There was the initial prize of the trinket, and then I got to upgrade it a few times (because my rep with Frostwolf was pretty good), getting about 9000 XP each time. Wowsa. Wish I’d known about that before! I should really check for other BG quests soon!

Arathi Basin Blues

Last night I did three rounds in Arathi Basin with my frost mage. She’s not hit 70 yet, but she was still eligible for the daily, so I decided to give it a go. The Horde lost all three matches. Argh

I hate to say it, but I got very frustrated with my teammates. In the first match, the Alliance capped four nodes really quickly, and there was essentially no organized effort toward getting any of them back. Given the number of enemies pummeling the farm, our one remaining node, there had to have been at least one unprotected Alliance node somewhere, but folks just weren’t finding it. My typical response when the Horde is falling short is, “what’s the plan, guys?” People usually respond well to this (though I’m always bracing myself for the smartassed answers), but I got absolutely no response at all with this team. As a noob pvp mage, it’s not as though I can personally lead the charge anywhere, though I can encourage it. I suggested we take the gold mine since it’s a little easier to defend than the blacksmith’s, and some folks did join me, but we just weren’t organized enough.

I entered the second match after the Alliance had already capped three nodes, so I must have been a replacement for someone who quit. ( /sigh ) I stuck it out, I didn’t quit, and we managed to get a two nodes, but we just couldn’t hold them. This was one of those groups where the whole bunch swarmed in and killed all the enemies, took the node, and sometimes left for the next node before the newly captured one had capped. Grr! Again, as an individual player, there’s only so much I can do to defend by myself. I should make macros:

/bg We could use more defense at the mine.

/bg I’m the only one here.

/bg inc mine!

<–dead

So stupid. Of course, we lost.

In the third match, the Alliance again capped three nodes alarmingly quickly. Rather than abandon all hope, I stuck with the group and helped us gain control of two and then three of them. The leader said, “Hold these, don’t get greedy.” I looked at the map and saw that we had at least three folks defending each node, so I thought there might be some hope. There was a rogue that couldn’t help but scope out the mine instead of help defend (ok, fine), and I saw someone wandering the road toward the stables, too… it was a mage. Wha?

I was at the blacksmith’s, defending along with a hunter and a rogue. We fended off a few small waves of Alliance and the few times that I thought I was totally dead I managed to outlive my attackers. The attacks stopped coming at our node and we could see a battle ensuing down the hill on the road, toward the farm. My fellow defenders began to wander a bit toward battle and then they mounted up and left. “Keep defending bs, please,” I said, but of course you know what happened next. Alliance poured over the hill behind me, destroyed me, and took the node. We never got it back either. Gah! I don’t think the three of us necessarily could have defended it from such a large attack, but with just me alone, there was no chance.

So, I think AB has now replaced WSG as my most frustrating BG. I had a pretty good time in WSG last night, in fact…

When I entered Warsong Gulch, the Alliance had 2 captures and the Horde had zero. Ah, another case of a mid-match replacement. Oh well, free mark of honor, right?

I buzzed in and starting killing Alliance. Awesomely fun. Despite the score when I entered, the Horde was playing some great defense (maybe thanks to other new arrivals?). The Alliance got our flag a time or two, but we knocked them down and destroyed them each time. “Just let them win,” one of my teammates said. “Screw you,” said another. “Ya lets turtle,” said someone else. “No let’s win,” said the screw-you guy. Heh… that’s the spirit!

We continued to fend them off for quite a while when someone finally said we should either go get the flag or let them win. So, some folks went and got their flag and managed to get it back to the Horde base! I stayed midfield and froze enemies as they rode by. In particular there was a hunter and a rogue that I made a point to attack every time I saw them. Hee hee hee… We captured their flag a second time, and there was much rejoicing. (Yaaay!) The screw-you guy did a lot of mocking of the let’s-quit guy at this point. I can’t say I blamed him, but we hadn’t won yet.

After getting killed midfield and resurrecting in the graveyard, I noted a lot of action outside our base, so I ran over to help defend. It was a lovely chaotic mess and I got killed a few times, but managed to take several enemies out, including the druid carrying the flag at one point. Aww yeah… We had our base pretty well cleared out, and it all seemed a little quiet to me for a moment. Then the music played and the scoresheet flashed up: Horde Wins!!

So, AB sucked, WSG was a blast. Go figure.

Also…

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Woo! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Patchwork Weekend Recap

My pugging mage went through RFK this weekend, and I’ll post the write-up in the next couple days!

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I also spent some time leveling my frost mage in the Hinterlands and Un’Goro, and she finished off some of the easy stuff in Tanaris as well. I also sent her to Azshara to do the series of quests with the tablets. It’s really easy experience, given that it just requires a bit of running around. (With my mage being able to portal to capital cities, it was even faster to run the circuit!)

My frost mage also ran Sunken Temple with a pug that was basically a time bomb of wiping, though somehow, we never wiped despite the loud ticking. We had the stereotypical “rouge,” who was far more interested in stealthing around and exploring than staying with the group. Half the time, she wasn’t even on my minimap, which is zoomed out to the max. The pulls were unmarked, chaotic, a series of scrapes that seemed to get closer and closer. I stayed alive because I basically stood there waiting to figure out which mob was taking the most damage before I started casting. My dps was the highest of the group, but I felt dreadfully inefficient. I suggested marking several times, but nobody acknowledged it. I did pick up the Vestments of the Atal’ai Prophet and some good xp, so I suppose it was worth it. (Cleared my quest log a bit, too.) My frost mage is at 54 now. Hey, almost Outland time for her, too!

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After the Sunken Temple run, my mage popped back into the LFG and heard a call for a healer for Maraudon. Ooh! I switched over to my level 48 priest, sent a tell to the leader, and they invited me to the group. I haven’t played my priest in so long that it took a little while to get my groove. It was a total blast to heal again, though there was a mage in the group that made the job quite challenging. First problem was that he started casting and many times got a fireball lobbed at the enemy before the tank even got to it. He drew aggro on most pulls. Competing with him for aggro was a hunter that would start shooting and send his pet in (growl on), again before the tank got a few swings in. Initially, I spent all my time healing the two of them and didn’t have to heal the tank at all. It was ridiculous. Given that I wasn’t playing my “hands-off” pug mage, I decided to make some suggestions… 🙂

At first, the mage didn’t get it. He still kept casting right away. So, between each pull, I’d patiently explain again that he and the hunter should let the tank get a few swings in before they started firing. If the mob came running right at them immediately, they didn’t wait long enough. Finally, we had a pull that went like it should. The tank ran in, the off-tank ran in, the dps then started firing, and all the mobs stayed a safe distance away from them. I only had to heal the main and off tank. Hurrah!

Things continued to go smoothly until we got to the point where some AoE was in order. I think it was the room with all the maggots. The mage said that in another party, they let him gather up a bunch of them and AoE and it was “so fun.” So, I bubbled him, he ran in, and started blasting away. This was all good, except I think he got used to the idea that I’d keep him alive whenever he felt like going into AoE mode. Like in regular pulls. He started drawing a lot of aggro again, now with his prancing around, popping arcane explosions all over the place. Argh. What’s worse is that when the mobs burst through the bubble protecting him, he’d run away! So, I reminded him to run toward the tank if he got into trouble, and also suggested that when he drew aggro, he should stop with the AoE and let the mobs refocus on the tank. “But the AoE kills them,” he said. “It’s going to kill you, too,” I said. I told him my focus was going to be healing the tank and myself, so he should keep that in mind. I did let him die a few times after that when I possibly could have saved him, I confess. He died a few times when I couldn’t save him either. Mages just don’t have the hit points to survive attacks by multiple elites several levels above them.

We got to the center of Mara, got the staff for the portal, and then the hunter had to go, so the mage portaled us all to Thunder Bluff to empty our bags, make repairs, and pop into the LFG again. Almost immediately we picked up a second priest. They were higher level than I, so I was worried for a moment I’d be reassigned to DPS, but it turned out they were shadow. Sweet.

This shadow priest seemed to know what the heck they were doing. Ample use of vampiric embrace kept everyone’s health topped off, too. It made the whole group run more smoothly, since they knew how to control their aggro. I know I mostly complained about the mage, but I don’t think that hunter knew what he was doing either. He ran out of bullets and food for his pet during the run, and his pet’s dps was like 5. (Not kidding.) I suspect they hadn’t trained the pet at all. The shadow priest’s dps was… um, more. We downed all the bosses with no problem. I came away with the Chloromesh Girdle, but the remaining blue drops were all plate, so the lone warrior in the group came away with a shiny new outfit. 🙂

===

I also briefly sent my priest into Arathi Basin. She was at 49, and I wanted to see what it was like to play when you’re at the higher end of the level range. Brief reflections on the experience…

– Being a priest in the BGs is a thankless job. You are a big target, obviously, so you die a lot. After healing someone, rather than “nice heals,” I heard, “fort buff plz.” DPS in the BGs is more fun.

– The novelty of Arathi Basin has worn off, and now I’m more often frustrated with my teammates than having fun. I’m not acting like a baby, but I find myself saying, “Hey guys, why don’t we protect the nodes we capture?” I’m brand new to the BGs, but to some of the teams I played with, this was a revolutionary idea. Their strategy was capture and move on to the next node, leaving the last one undefended. Morons. I know protecting the flag is boring, but having a rogue sneak up and retake it a few seconds after you walk away is just annoying. As a priest, there was only so much flag protection I could do by myself.

===

At the end of the night last night, I decided to give a different BG a try: Alterac Valley. I sent my frost mage in, and boy-oh-boy, that is a different kind of BG.

I did read about it beforehand, but like the others, it’s hard to know what to expect (or even what to do, really) in AV until you actually go in there. It is a huge BG, I’d no idea where anything was, so I just tried to hang with the group, follow the crowds, and pick off as many Alliance as I could.

I did AV five times total. The Horde lost the first three matches. This was a little surprising, given all the “Horde always wins AV” stuff I’ve been hearing lately. At the end of the first run, someone kept saying, “see that’s why you don’t skip Bal.” At the beginning of the second game, someone said, “GET BAL FIRST.” Heheh…. perhaps they were on my team before? It still didn’t help.

The fourth run of AV took almost an hour, but the Horde won. It was really super-fun. Lots of huge battles, 15-20 of us against a mass of Alliance coming up the road. I could never see the appeal of a game like Warhammer Online until now. I went in for another run right away, and it took about 30 minutes or so before the Horde won. Sweet sweet victory.

===

I’ve created a Night Elf priest over on Drenden, but haven’t played her much yet. I almost rolled a warlock, since it’s the only class I don’t have represented amongst the Horde characters in my main realm, but given that it means I could only be human or gnome… hrm…. not so sure about that one. 😉

===

Wow, that’s a long post. More later, if I think of anything…

Resolution achieved!

Last night I logged into my hunter briefly, sifted through her inventory a bit, and then decided to park her in the inn again, as I’ve been playing her quite a lot. Mr. Ess didn’t feel like playing our duo, so I logged into my priest for a while. She had a lot of stuff to disenchant, so I took care of all of it, and then switched over to my mage (my “main” — har har). My mage was in Tanaris, although most of the quests there are now “low level” for her. I still thought I’d get some decent XP from the turn ins, plus the kills would be quick, so she wandered over to hassle pirates for a few minutes… and then got bored. Huh, bored? Sooo, I logged into my pug mage to look for BFD group. No dice. For a moment, I thought I might have a Gnomeregan group (of all things), but it fell through…

My pug mage was in Thunder Bluff, fishing while in the LFG, and as I was realizing I wasn’t going to find a pug, I noted the Warsong Gulch battlemaster across the pond. Hm... So, I did it. I put myself in the queue to join the next available group for a round of capture the flag against the Alliance. 🙂

At only level 24, I knew there wasn’t much I’d be able to contribute in terms of DPS, especially against a bunch of level 29 twinks. Plus I didn’t really know the map, and I don’t know the mechanics of dealing with the flags, not to mention that my only PvP experience thus far has been a few rounds of dueling with my guildmates. But, what the heck… I decided to jump in with both feet. Since this toon wasn’t in any way connected with my main toons or my guild, reputations would not be damaged much if I totally stank it up in there.

Within about two minutes, I was added to a raid and entering the battleground. There was nobody in the little starting area, and after subsequent matches, I realized I must have been a mid-game replacement of someone who quit (or maybe a late addition). This first match was all kind of a blur… I generally followed the strategy I use when I’m in regular groups and the mobs aren’t being marked. I tried to stay off to the sides of battle and potshot whoever was already taking the most damage. I had no idea who had the flag or where the flags were, but I was certain that I wouldn’t need to be a flag carrier anyway. Doesn’t seem that mages five levels below the cap would be good candidates for that. 🙂

Almost everyone else in the BG was level 29, though I did see a 26 on the Alliance team, and I went after them as much as I good. Our team also had a level 22 warlock, and they probably got squished more times than I did. I died a lot, but ultimately, I did get some kills in, and it was really fun. At one point, I was skirting the group that was battling it out, and went up to some trees. Apparently there was a level 29 rogue hiding in there, and they killed me in like one stab. It was hilarious.

The Horde lost the battle. I wasn’t surprised to see myself at the bottom of the scorecard in terms of total damage done, but I was surprised to see that I didn’t have the least number of kills. Go me! I jumped in the queue for another match immediately.

I had a slightly better feel for what I was supposed to be doing during the second go. As a squishy, I knew I’d be best off sticking with other people, too, so whenever I died, I stood in the graveyard a sec to see if anyone else appeared so we could run out together. I spent a lot of time hanging with a druid who healed me several times and saved my butt when the Alliance hunter’s pig was trying to eat my face. We ended up making a pretty good team and killed a few rogues together. In this second match, the Horde was triumphant! For the HORDE!

Since the queue times were so short, I went into Warsong Gulch a third time, eager to apply what I’d learned from the previous runs. Again, I tried to stick with a small group of people and not wander off on my own. I ended up protecting the flag carrier for a bit, and got some nice kills in when the Alliance came after her. Ultimately, we were overpowered, however, and lost. Still, much fun.

First impressions… good times. I didn’t mind losing, I didn’t mind dying, and when someone killed me in a surprising way (by being sneaky or just killing me in one shot) I thought it was pretty funny. It was also clear that any type of teamwork gives a huge advantage. Because of this, I was a bit surprised at how little communication there was, but I suppose there wasn’t much time for it. Everything seemed to happen so fast. (I was tuned into the in game voice chat, but nobody was using it.)

After getting my feet wet in Warsong Gulch, I decided to make my way to Arathi Basin. The queue times for AB were longer, with the average wait around 10 minutes when I first joined up. I tabbed out while I waited, studied some maps I found online, and read about the objectives. And then into battle I went, once again…

This time, someone did step up and take charge, and said for a team to run up to the lumbermill. Although I’d just looked at the map, my terrible sense of direction made me unsure where that was, so I just followed a small group of people and ended up there. Woo! We took the node successfully and didn’t get challenged for several minutes. The Horde took two nodes right away and seemed to be battling for the third one. The Alliance only had one node for most of this time, so this gave us a good head start on them.

Alliance did come up and challenge us at the lumbermill, but they seemed to be coming up one at a time. We’d run over, squish the the intruder, and then that would be that. For the most part, I lingered off by the mill itself, but I noticed the other two folks guarding the node favoring the right path up the hill, so I eventually wandered over to keep an eye on the left path. I did catch someone coming up and hit them with a frost bolt, and then ran back toward the node to get the attention of the others guarding it. We all unleashed our DPS on the poor dude… hee hee hee.

We got control over that third node, but then lost it to even things to 2-2. We were then called to help defend the farm, and so I ran there (from the graveyard, as I recall), and a shaman and I guarded the node together. He had totems up all around it, and one of them exploded when a rogue approached. I immobilized them with a frost nova and then we destroyed them. It was awesome. (Maybe I am a PvPer after all?) The Horde won, we all congratulated one another.

By this time, I was addicted. Must… queue… again. The queue time was estimated to be 12 minutes, but it was a full 15 minutes before I was back in Arathi Basin. It was starting to get late, but I wanted one more run…

I’m not sure how long the previous match took, but this second one was over in about 2 minutes. Literally. I ran up to the lumbermill just like the time before, and we seized control of it for about 5 seconds before there were 5 Alliance there taking it back. We never got a foothold. “They’re trying to 5 cap us,” someone said. And they did… Alliance took all five nodes, and had 2000 resources before we even had 200. It was a complete and total smackdown. Daaaamn.

So, of course I wanted to go in there one more time! I queued again (queue time now up to 16 minutes), and went to UC to see if I could do any training. Much to my embarassment, it looked like I hadn’t been to the trainer in a really, really long time. (Oops. That would explain why my DPS was so crappy in that recent BFD run.) I trained in everything possible, and then hung around UC for a few minutes. I tabbed out to check my e-mail at one point and the game crashed! Noooo! It was about 12 minutes into my wait, too… bah. By this time, it was midnight, so I decided I’d better be off to bed…

… where I dreamt of an Orc rogue alt. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm… 🙂

Resolution achieved. I have dipped my toe into one of the PvP parts of WoW, and I think it’s super fun. (I do like green eggs and ham!)

Tuesday Ten

1. The newest issue of The Daedalus Project is up! If the psychology of MMORPGs interests you, you’ll definintely want to add this site to your reading list. Current articles cover survey data on why people choose the avatars they do, motivations for playing MMOs, MMOs as a way of coping with RL, and how people use these games to keep in touch (contrast with the anti-social gamer stereotype).

2. Last night, our guild had a PvP event and I participated. This was my very first time dueling against other players EVER. And it was pretty fun. Next time a random person challenges me, I will consider sparring with them, I think. I’m not quite ready for those battlegrounds though.

3. I finally got vent working, so last night was also the first time I chatted via microphone with my guildmates. I mostly kept quiet, particularly when the channel got crowded. I guess I’m still feeling a bit shy, but everyone was very nice (and so funny), and I can’t wait to start running instances with these folks.

4. I’m slowly trying to update my blogroll, which is a bit of a mess, I know. I really do read a lot of blogs, but some of the ones on that list have gone inactive, and I just haven’t had time to remove them yet. (I read through my Google feed reader, and read many more than are listed to the right — I don’t often use those direct links.)

5. I want to pick up the pace with my puggin’ mage this week, and try to complete the second BFD run and also an RFK run, if possible.

6. Our anti-pug activities will begin tomorrow night! We’ll meet in Orgrimmar, form the guild, and then away we’ll go on our first set of adventures. Whee! It looks like we have two teams ready to go, and a third team formed. If you think you might be interested in joining the project, please post in that thread or send me an e-mail.

7. My main server is now maxed with characters, I think. This means no more alts for me unless I start deleting my alliance characters (I have two, I think). This is probably a good thing. There’s already so much I want to do with the characters I do have that I really shouldn’t make any more, but…

8. Daydream alt of the week: warlock, either Undead or Orc.

9. There is no #9.

10. A non-WoW note. My co-workers and I are avid followers of the super-awesome Eurovision Song Contest, which happens each spring. Think American Idol, but much more theatrical. Some of the entries are traditional (pretty!!) ballads and folks songs, while others are totally over the top. This competition has been going on since the 1950’s (1974 winner = Abba!), and given the other international TV we have access to in the states (plus the interest in competitive reality shows), I’m a little surprised it doesn’t air here. If you enjoy silly, cheesy, and ridiculous pop videos, it’s worth your while to do some youtube searches for the videos. If you find anything good, let me know! We’ve found a few goodies to rival last year’s favorites (oh my gosh, I love that last one), but nothing that screams winner yet. 🙂

A resolution for 2008

Lots of folks have been posting their WoW resolutions for 2008, and it’s been the topic of many a podcast conversation as well. For me, well, I’d like to get a few of my characters to 70, dip my toes into Kara with the guild, get my puggin’ mage through (at least) all the 5 man instances in the game, and … maybe try PvP? I have never, not a single time, tried any PvP in WoW. I’ve never entered an arena or battleground, participated in a scuffle in the Crossroads, or accepted a duel.

Why? Back in my Diablo II days, I had some bad experiences in dealing with other random players. Most of the time that I played Diablo II online, it was with people I knew in real life. The few times I ventured out to play with other folks, it was rarely a good experience. The time I got tradehacked pretty much ended it all for me. I had just completed a legitimate trade with the person when they offered a second trade. They said they’d give me the unique shako (don’t even remember what it was called) for just a single Stone of Jordan. Seemed like a pretty good deal, too good… and as soon as I hit trade, the shako turned into a regular shako with no stats, no nothing, and my Stone of Jordan was gone. The other person laughed and laughed and when I cursed at them, they were like, “oh, now don’t be mad,” and tried to get flirty. I was so upset, so disgusted with this idiot, and myself — also an idiot, apparently. Thinking about how the whole trade went down, the things the guy said, the substance of our interaction, I should have known not to trust him. I don’t even know why I did it. I let my guard down too easily. I quit the game for a long time after that.

So, I came into WoW feeling like I was going to have to be exceedingly cautious, as not to allow another idiot to ruin the game for me. Anytime I got a quest that said “dungeon” or “group” next to it, I abandoned it. I didn’t even learn how to use the most basic chat features until I decided to join my first guild. If anyone talked with me, I didn’t respond. My husband wasn’t playing yet, so I was pretty much going it alone, soloing as best I could. Can you believe how much I’ve changed? Now I am actively going out and looking for random people to play with!

Well, some things have changed. I’m obviously comfortable grouping with people I don’t know. Most transactions with others that involve money or valuable materials are still done through the auction house, however. I have never responded to a “WTB” or “WTS” message in a city, and very likely never will. (I do trust the lovely folks in my guild — I imagine they can help me with anything I might need of that sort.) I have done enchants for a few people I don’t know, and I realize that this is safe. I absolutely would never put a lockbox in the trade window for someone else to open, however, though I’ve been assured many times that this is safe. Just before I left my last guild, some of the folks were talking about tradehacks that they used to do in WoW, things to slow people’s framerate to boot them from the game during the trade and somehow get the item…. That’s all I needed to hear. Will never happen. I don’t care how safe people tell me it is.

I have also never so much as dueled another player. People have challenged me many times while we’re waiting for boats or standing by the summoning stone waiting for the party, but I have never accepted. For me, that’s stepping into a territory that I’m not sure I’m prepared to handle. It seems tremendously personal to me, and I’m not sure that I want to add that stress to the game. I wouldn’t survive for a second on a PvP server unless the rules about encounters were quite different. It would only take one ganking before I ran back to my RP server. Call me a big baby, whatever. Sure, I run into jerks now and then as it is, but it’s still us against the game.

The biggest barrier is clearly psychological. I’m not saying that in 2008 I’m going to derail all my PvE plans (of which there are many), but I feel like I want to try to overcome this fear of PvP and slip into one of the battlegrounds to see what it’s like.  If I don’t like it?  No problem — I just won’t go back.  I’ve read a bit about the different battlegrounds now (including some lovely intros to each of them by Pike), and I think they might be a good place to start. Plus, the battle between the factions is something I think I can get behind, given the number of times I’ve had Gnomes fart on me in Gadgetzan and various Alliance rogues ninja the chests or mobs I’ve been clearing around.

For the Horde!