Happy Hallows End

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A warning to trick or treaters

Outside the mist has been drifting up from the sea. We can hardly see the world beyond the garden gate so its perfect Halloween weather. Anything could be lurking in the street beyond the window, ghosts floating, witches cackling and werewolves prowling.

In short, we are all set for a spooky evening with lots of candy, candles and ghost stories but first, before I head off to scare my friends with tales of the unquiet dead, I just want to take a second to celebrate my favourite in game festival, Hallows End.

Blizzard have taken all the great festival ingredients and thrown them in a cauldron, added broomsticks and cats which bring bad luck, mixed them all together with some eye of newt, a horseman missing a head and of course candy. The end result is an excuse to run around the world revisiting old haunts.

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Bats in the Belfry?

Darkshire suits the glowing pumpkins and hanging ghosts of Hallows End more than most places. Hallows End gives an excuse to farm bits and pieces for your alts, still haven’t seen the Headless Horseman’s Horse drop though. Even a reason to level long discarded alts for some quick and free experience from flying around eating candy. Who can resist candy, especially the type which gives gold and experience.

I think its one of the better fleshed out holidays, there are things for all level groups, from the daily quest to save the villages and prove yourself a hero to the orphans to the candy buckets to an albeit rather easy boss to kill. This year they even fixed the power of pine, with the addition of the Forsaken Prankster throwing stinkbombs in Southshore which was a nice touch because when NPCs attack, the world feels more real. Then there are the bats fluttering around and the black cats prowling, trying to trick you into killing them and receiving bad luck. The devil is in the detail after all.

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Sinister Squashling with a pet gnome

There is something slightly sinister about a pet which is the same size as its owner, especially when that pet is a walking fruit (something I learnt today, always thought Pumpkins were vegetables… turns out they aren’t. Halloween cartoons are educational). A gnome wearing a gnome mask is a little disturbing too.

HAPPY HALLOWS END AND HAPPY HALLOWEEN

On a bicycle made for two

The other morning whilst browsing my favourite mini pet site I learnt that the rather flimsy looking gates of Zul’Aman no longer needed a party of five to knock them down. Naturally being a rather squishy cloth wearing type, soloing was out of the question but what a hunter can solo,  a warrior and priest can most certainly two man. So we loaded up the bike with supplies and snack food (might as well make a picnic out of it) and headed off to troll country.

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I really do feel Blizzard missed a trick by not adding a troll instance to Northrend. Icetrolls up to no good would have fitted in perfectly and would have been a lot more interesting to play with than the Faction Champions and tired bullied Yetis.

Took around 15 hex sticks and the killing of 2 out of the 4 beast bosses, but with 10 minutes to go before the server shut down for some “emergency maintenance” I stopped rescuing random idiots and found the ultimate frog.

mojo01So thats another mini pet ticked off the list. Although its reaching the stage where I’m just going to grit my teeth and start farming for the rest of them.

 

Darrowshire – 101 things to see and do

Ever since Vanilla WoW I’ve avoided questing in the Plaguelands, too many annoying mobs and too many annoying diseases. However with our hunter/paladin team we thought lets revisit old haunts and old hauntings whilst working our way through all the quest chains. To say I’m glad we did is an understatement, instead of slaughtering our way through countless mobs for a few pieces of gold we were following a proper story line and doing something worthwhile.

Take for example the epic questline that is the Battle of Darrowshire. It has everything a story needs, a hero who loses his way, evil doers, ghosts, a little girl hunting for her dolly and of course a dragon pretending to be gnome (never quite got that one myself, but who is going to argue with a member of the Bronze Dragonflight).

Darrowshire, named from the Darrowmere Lake to its west, is a village tucked into the southern foothills of Lordaeron.

It sounds idyllic enough and indeed it probably was until war came ravaging its way across the landscape corrupting everything it touched. The chain begins in Winterspring, where Jessica Redpath of the Argent Dawn begs you to find her little sister Pamela.

I fled Lordaeron during the great war, and was lucky to escape before the Scourge swept through my homeland and turned it into a plagued nightmare! I was lucky, but my family was not. I fear they were all killed during the battle of Darrowshire.

It sounds easy enough, head off to the Plaguelands and look for a little girl. Hardly taxing for a seasoned adventurer. Yet I assure you, even the hardest hearted amongst you will find cause enough for tears in Darrowshire. On arrival the village is deserted or at least it appears that way at first glance, skeletons lie where their owners died.

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Listen for a second as you look around, perhaps whisper a prayer of thanks that this isn’t your village, that you know where your family sleep tonight.

As you work through the chain, misery confronts you at every turn. Betrayal, death and anguish will dog your footsteps. You will see things better off unseen, yet continue you must, for little Pamela if nothing else.

Breadcrumb by breadcrumb, the terrible details of that battle come spilling out.

I wish Joseph could again be with his daughter, but it cannot be so. His soul was twisted by the Scourge, and he became a monster. Oh, he is doomed!

Search the graves outside for Joseph’s monument. His body’s not there, for it was trampled and destroyed years ago, but under the monument is his wedding ring. Take that ring to Chromie… a strange gnome with very strange powers.

It seems that Pamela’s loving father has a dark secret and no real grave. There is however something tempting about changing fate, altering the path of time (hmm wonder if I could snag a job with the Infinite dragonflight).

The Annals of Darrowshire tell us the full tragic story:

The battle continued, and Captain Redpath led his militia bravely.  And it might have been won, had the captain not been corrupted by the death knight Marduk the Black.

~~~~~~~

The corrupted Captain Redpath then spread his evil taint among the defenders of Darrowshire, who betrayed their allies and slaughtered them.  They then turned on the town of Darrowshire and killed all who hid in their homes.

Part of the reason why I like this chain so much, despite the fact that it makes me cry everytime I do it is that it reinforces what we are fighting for. Running around Northrend, especially with this new Coliseum its easy to lose sight of our history. Of the terrible things that happened during the wars that litter Azeroth’s past and why we have so much to lose as we fight our way up to the doors of Icecrown. Joseph Redpath wasn’t a bad man, yet he was twisted into slaughtering his own people, his own family. That kind of darkness, that kind of evil has to be wiped clean before it ruins anymore lives. Besides, its the only quest chain in game which gives as a reward a cup of sugary tea made by a ghost no less.

The questline begins with either :

Sister Pamela from Jessica Redpath in Winterspring.

or

Little Pamela from Marlene Redpath’s ghost in Sorrow Hill

The chain then goes:

In case you need any further encouragement to see this epic quest line before Cataclysm sweeps it all way, watch Cranius’s awesome video on the subject, dry your eyes and head off to Darrowshire. Save the ghost girl, save the world!

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Run away little girl

In this almost quiet period before the release of Icecrown I’ve been playing around with my talents yet again. Out of curiosity and a sneaky desire to slaughter some of our melee on Kologarn, I picked up Body and Soul. Its uses are myriad and amusing so here is the list I came up with to justify my mini sprint in case I had to explain myself.

Northrend Beasts

Gormak the Impaler

  1. If you use a tactic like ours, where all the casters with snobolds run to melee, this helps them get there that bit faster
  2. Gets people out of fires a tiny bit faster, although its still hampered by the fact that they actually have to stop casting and move (if only body and soul forced the person you cast it on to move whether they wanted to or not… would be heaven)

Not one but two Worms

  1. Helps unite the people with poison with the person or persons with fire
  2. Gives the tank a little speed burst to reach a re-emerging worm faster
  3. Gets people away from those with the fire before they burn to death

Icehowl

  1. Allows slightly more leeway when it comes to running away from his charge
  2. If you are on the opposite side of the room to him when he crashes, you can assist the dpsers along side you get back swifter.

Lord Jaraxxus

  1. Handy for melee with the legion flame, lets them get away from the rest of the melee fast.
  2. Great for running away from pesky volcano adds who decide to erupt on top of you.

Faction Champions

  1. This baby was made for kiting. I throw them on anyone who is being chased by melee and likely to get squashed, i.e the people in the raid who can’t pvp.

Twin Val’kyr

  1. Good for your soakers, helps them reach that sneaky orb a bit faster
  2. Great for making sure you can always change colour before the channel
  3. Fun for dodging orbs on your way to switch colours back

Anub’arak

  1. Helps kite spikes around
  2. Lets you run away from annoying little beetles with really sharp teeth (one of our trials who is no longer with us, managed to get that stack thing up to 26k a tick…. evil bugs).

Ulduar

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  1. Useful for getting the debuffs out of the raid cluster that bit faster. Especially handy to be popped on the slightly slower than average caster every raid has. You know, the one watching tv or drinking a beer at the same time with only one eye on his or her monitor.

Kologarn

  1. Seeing how much attention your melee actually pay to what’s going on around them. Guaranteed there is someone in every raid group who can be made to fall off the cliff. (Not recommended for use on your tanks or your raidleader though).
  2. Handy for dodging eyebeams
  3. Useful for running away from rubble

Thorim

  1. Good for escaping Sif and her wintery touch.
  2. No excuse for being hit by the charge with body and soul.

Mimiron

  1. Handy for dodging lazors
  2. Useful for getting melee away from bursts or w/e its called
  3. A bit of speed for slacky dpsers who don’t see big bubbles of water until its a bit too late
  4. Also great for running the frogger bomb gauntlet, either for helping people you like to avoid them or running people you don’t like into them

Vezax

  1. If anyone’s tanks still kite, the mini sprint would be useful here
  2. Good for dodging shadowcrashes
  3. Handy for limiting the Mark of the Faceless Damage

Yogg-Saron

  1. Allows you to move from one side of the room faster as you hunt tentacles
  2. Better running away from people with maladies
  3. The self depoison is handy. The mana drain is the most annoying of all the debuffs on that fight.

Algalon the Observer

  1. Helps you reach black holes that bit faster
  2. Handy for finishing a cast and then putting distance between you and cosmic smash

Basically most fights have some aspect where a mini speed boost is useful, whether its on yourself to ensure you don’t get hit by something or on someone else. If you are brave or crazy or just plain lazy like me and PvP as holy, its equally fun in a battleground setting too. You can run annoying fellow teammates off cliffs in Arathi Basin. You can assist flag carriers in WSG or EoTS and most importantly, you can run like the wind albeit briefly as angry enemies pursue you.

In conclusion, its a been a lot of fun but my main worry is that it could become a crutch. Something I rely on to avoid scary stuff, which of course could mean I go squish a lot when playing Disc (just like not having glyph of levitate on my disc spec…..). Therefore, amusing as it is, once Icecrown is released, I’ll most likely drop those two points back into something less gimmicky. In the meantime however running away was never more fun.

The wind beneath my wings (101 things)

Everyone should at some point in their WoW playing experience take the leap from Thunderbluff offered when the Darkmoon Faire is in town.

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I also want her outfit, it would go perfectly with the Bloodelf Bandit mask.

The view of Bloodhoof village as it looms towards you is rather impressive although I don’t think I’ve survived a jump yet, but that just adds to the charm.

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Achievements are like buses

They all come at once.

We cleared Ulduar last night and much to our surprise.. netted not one, not two but five fragments of Val’anyr which was enough to finish my mace and start one of our shamans off on hers.

Then all happy and bubbled, we headed off to Algalon to save the world or die trying. Due to a variety of factors we haven’t had many shots on him (unstable servers, people’s real lives all hitting them at once etc), so I admit I wasn’t that optimistic. A feeling not helped by the fact that after try number 1, a handful of people got dced temporarily but we rallied and after a 11 percent wipe, we pulled it together and convinced him that even the gnomes deserved a second a chance.

savedtheworld02Was one of those fights where you are almost taken by surprised when he surrenders/gives up/decides he likes you. The “RP” event afterwards in Dalaran was rather a let down though, ignoring the fact that Rhonin has a rather weedy voice, it was over in a flash. Blink and you could have literally missed it.

mammothFinally I managed to convince the Gnomeling that what I really needed to banish this flu thing completely was a traveller’s tundra mammoth. I want to swap Hakmud for that rather nice troll female the Horde get though and unfortunately, it seems to be working as well as the cough medicine at stopping me coughing.. i.e. totally useless but its the thought that counts. Then as the icing on the cake of getting shiny stuff, I got a mail from Breanni containing a little penguin in need of a good home.

All in all, a pretty good day.

Bad Queen

On our raiding offdays, I’ve been working on my Loremaster title. There I was slaughtering my way through the Ogres of Blade’s Edge when I noticed this:

Bad Queenand my favourite

Puny NightelfFor a moment I felt almost guilty and but then I realised if I was to finish my Loremaster those ogres were going to have to die, for a higher cause so to speak. Which lead to this:

Dead OgresHorrid Queen indeed. I love the fact that even something as simple as completing the Ogri’la quest chain can change the way that NPCs react to you. Although I can’t help but feel sorry for those Ogres, imagine having to spend eternity in Ogri’la doing dailies and hanging out with those annoyingly chirpy Skyguard types.

DinaIn fact, redoing those quests on my Priest made me realise just how much I liked Blade’s Edge both visually and for some of its little quirky jokes. For some reason it feels a lot more “alive” than a lot of the Burning Crusade zones. I also have a sneaky fondness for trashy movies such as Starship Troopers and therefore I love Toshley’s station with its references to Dizzy Dina and the Roughriders. The fact that its also periodically attacked by evil bugs (ravagers) really helps to add to the Starship Trooper atmosphere.

Visually, the landscape is raw and scarred. Having huge skulls and dragons hanging from spikes creates a sense of atmosphere lacking from a lot of the other zones. Add in the huge red sky, and the multi layered feel you get from the constant climbing and descending of hills and ravines and Blade’s Edge really is a special zone.

Careless Dragon

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