Dorrie and the Quest for Green Fire

As the next patch draws closer I’m ever so slightly in panic mode. There is one thing I’d love to do before every changes once again and that’s level my little Warlock to 90 and give the Green Fire quest a shot. So in the next month can I get a level 39 Gnome to 90 plus acquire enough gear and then learn to play her well enough to get shiny green flames? I suspect not but there is no harm in trying.

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Also if you didn’t read the Dorrie books whilst growing up, keep an eye out for them because they are wonderful. Thanks to them I spent my childhood wishing I could ride a broomstick and have my very own cauldron.

Nostalgia – That Bittersweet Pill

Nostalgia is a funny thing. In someways those first few years playing WoW were my happiest, playing with a stable group of people, raiding high end content and generally enjoying myself.Yet when I unpick those memories most of them aren’t hugely happy ones. I’ve certainly been left wary of trusting others, of fully engaging with my current guild because of things which have gone before.

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I’ve just spent the afternoon running UBRS remembering how much I loathed the place when it was current content, when the General only dropped one blood and therefore you had to run it over and over again to get your whole raid attuned for Blackwing Lair. I remember having to solo heal it one day in a raid of 15 because the other Priest took offense when someone linked the healing meter (not me) and set out to smite the rest of the run. The wipes because people adored hugging the whelps or being knocked off various ledges and edges. The fights we would have to convince the rest of the group that they’d should do Solakar Flamewreath because Priests deserved a shot at their dungeon set shoulders just like everyone else. Then there was the night we had to go and rescue a guildmate who joined an UBRS raid three or four hours before hand so that he could raid with us the following night and when he finally asked for help, they’d only made it as far as the Rookery… I think I still have nightmares about that PuG.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of WoW, I find myself questioning why I’m still here, why I haven’t learnt from past mistakes and run away as fast as my legs would carry me.  There are plenty of decisions the Developers have made which have left me rolling my eyes but the flip side of that is they’ve also done things I love, Hallows End and Ulduar being prime examples. Besides if they always got it right for me, they would be no doubt a fairly large subsection of people criticizing that because they just don’t like or enjoy the same things as me. Yes it’s a balancing act but it’s not as simple as say deciding not to read a book because either things contained within the text revolt you or you just think a five year old could produce more literary merit. Take Fifty Shades of Grey for example, a friend gave me the first one stating I’d love it. I read the first few chapters in a mix of disgust and horror, imagining Thomas Hardy rolling in his grave and made a conscious decision not to purchase any of her books. WoW on the other hand is more than just a game, it’s a community, something which inspires and pushes me. Do the pluses out way the negatives, I’d argue yes they do at least in my current circumstances as I sit here trying to figure out a way of coping with ante-natal depression and what comes after. Besides, I think there is hope for WoW. People can and do change their minds and their perspectives, it’s just about keeping the dialogue going in such a way that everyone can engage with it. After all, when someone creates something and pushes it out into the Public view then they have to expect criticism. I read English Literature at University and that’s pretty much all we did, unpick other people’s words trying to get inside their heads. Art History contains a fairly hefty criticism component. We have book reviews, Food critics and people who write about the Theatre so why should the Gaming Industry expect to be any different?

Beta – First Attempt at the Proving Grounds mark II

Today on logging onto the Beta I noticed that my Garrison was offering me a quest to go and try the Proving Grounds and perhaps more importantly offering me a new and shiny weapon for completing the Bronze wave in any of the disciplines. Despite the fact that I’m playing the Beta with no addons and no proper keybinds, I thought I’d go and give it a shot. As a Holy Priest wearing mostly the bits and pieces Blizzard give you for making a level 100 Premade, Bronze was extremely easy. I have no idea if it’s tuned correctly but my mana didn’t go below 75 percent and I barely cast any solaces at all. In fact I felt slightly guilty taking the weapon because if I played like that in a proper group setting I’d feel rather guilty. On the positive side, the NPCs felt better at moving out of bad but unfortunately they were equally good at moving out of my sparkling disco floor too.

I didn’t have time to look at the Silver level, the one which Blizzard have stated everyone will need to enter Heroics through the Looking for Group mechanism but if it’s just a step up from Bronze I really think that the Healing Proving Grounds should be in the grasp of anyone who has healed at least a leveling dungeon on their healer. However hopefully tomorrow I’m going to make time for trying the Silver and seeing just what it’s like, especially in comparison to the Proving Grounds currently in game.

Turning completing Bronze into a quest with a useful reward for brand new level 100s is I think a brilliant idea. Now it should become one of those things you do on reaching the leveling cap, just like doing the Arena Scenario for the Blue weapon was almost compulsory at the start of MoP on every new character. I do wonder though if there should be a quest for completing the Silver and Gold versions too, just as that added incentive to those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of the Proving Grounds. I haven’t run any dungeons at the level cap yet as I haven’t been the most diligent Beta tester recently but in terms of the items I have seen, this weapon is by far the highest item level coming in at lv 610 with over a 100 more spell power than the one which Premades get.

In the Alliance Garrisons, you can collect the quest from Lieutenant Thorn, Mission Specialist so I imagine that in the Horde Garrisons, you pick it up from her opposite number.

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The Truth about Challe

Witchcraft has been on my mind these last few days. In part because of the rowan tree laden with berries in my new back garden but also due to the chaos of moving which always makes you look at your possessions in a new light.

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This was a post I started almost a year ago but took no further. I think my intention was to write about the Jade Witch, Hallows End and my favourite Warlock trainer but can’t be too sure but my original working title seems to have been The Witches of Warcraft. Today however inspired by something I discovered on the beta, I thought I’d resurrect it.

One of my all time favourite stories as a child was that of Baba Yaga, my Grandmother and Great Grandmama could tell it in such a way to have shivers racing down your spine. I still don’t like dark forests when the mist comes in because for all you know, that scratching sound, the wind on bark perhaps could be the chicken feet of Baba Yaga’s hut watching and waiting. So there I was riding around Nagrand on an Orc Hunter, exploring and looking for new pets to tame when I came across this rather creepy looking cave.

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I mean fairy stories should teach us all that people who hang wind catchers made of skulls outside their caves have to be approached with caution.
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Inside the cave turned out to be even more creepy, I mean who puts that many nails in a poppet?
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It was the woman inside who caught my attention though. She’s not the first Challe to be encountered in the hills of Nagrand after all. At first because I hadn’t done any quests here I thought perhaps it’s just a mistake or laziness on Blizzard’s part but somehow it kept nagging at my brain. To that point that I even logged on to live and flew to Nagrand to confirm that my memory wasn’t playing tricks.

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Of course on discovering that Challe on Live was Troll, I thought it must just be coincidence but my over active imagination wouldn’t let it drop and instead of logging back onto my Nightelf, I thought I’d do a spot of Orcish questing and with hindsight, I’m so glad I did. A couple of very sad quests later of which I won’t go into details because it spoils the emotional impact of doing them yourself, it seems that Miss Challe, she of the isolated orphanage isn’t quite so charitable and kind after all. In fact, she’s the sort of face eating monster who lurks in the shadows and really shouldn’t be trusted with children. In fact she really deserved having “her” face eaten by my pet cat as displayed in the picture below.
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Of course this helps put certain things about her Home for Little Tykes into perspective, the little Orc boy caged in bones for example and the large quantity of red meat and bones in the kennel take on whole new sinister meaning but that’s what I love about Warcraft and this particular expansion in general. As it gives us the ability to see beyond face value, to engage with characters who have fascinated or interested us for years and potentially to kill them, adding another dimension to the game.

For those of you wishing to see the chain for yourself on the Beta, it’s Horde only (sadly) and can be picked up straight away in Nagrand on a Level 100 Premade or a Lv 98 if leveling through. Gar’rok, the quest giver can be found by the Throne of the Elements, if you’re standing in front of the Giant Elemental types, he’s off to the right hand side up a little path overlooking the lake. The Wowhead link shows a map with his exact position on it.

 

A Few of my Favourite Things: Mr and Mrs WoW’s Community Project

Mr and Mrs WoW have proposed an interesting community project to combat the negativity bouncing around as we slowly drift through the doldrums. They are asking the community at large to inform them what we love doing in Warcraft in these slow days before the expansion is released.

For me it’s a fairly simple list and I hope my little diagram gives a few hints!

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Up there at number one is Archaeology because it gives me the opportunity to wander around Azeroth just as I used to do whilst herbing in the original game. It’s an excuse to relax, look at the scenario and perhaps kill a few mobs or do a spot of fishing as you meander past. On top of that, you also make things which provide the opportunity for either toys or grey items to muse over, perhaps sparking a story or two.

My second choice is exploring old dungeons, the ones I’ve run a thousand times before but never used to stop and take in the scenery. Blackrock Depths is a definite favourite because I like hanging out in the Grim Guzzler picking up Dark Iron Dwarf outfits (my old raid leader really hated these) and the odd pickled egg. The music isn’t too bad either and you can always pick up a few items of clothing to help transform your latest outfit into something even better.

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Third I’ve picked Festivals, those annual excuses to get out of the cities and wander about visiting zones you haven’t seen in ages, dressing up and generally being silly. My favourite of these is Hallows End with it’s broomsticks, headless horseman and candy but really I’m a sucker for all of them, even the weekly Wanderer’s Festival.

My final choice is a bit a cheat really. It’s not so much something I do in WoW but something I do in between playing and that’s catching up on what the rest of the community are doing and saying. Sometimes it takes someone else’s perspective of something like Pet Battling to change your own perception of it (Thanks Navimie and Cymre). I hated archaeology when it was first introduced but I remember reading someone’s almost ode to the wonders of digging in Azeroth’s fertile soil (can’t remember who wrote it) and became hooked. The Godmother helped alter my feelings towards Garrisons and so on. Playing a multi player game is one thing, but diving into the community shows a whole new world out there.

Pre Warlords to do List – It’s Panic Time!

So we have three months almost to the day and it’s time to start panicking in this neck of the woods.

My list can essentially be broken down into 2 parts:

  • Things which having played the Beta I feel are things I want to have achieved
  • Things which would be nice to have but won’t make a huge difference either way

I am however trying to keep both lists relatively short to save myself getting distracted.

  1. Level a Warlock to 90 and attempt to get Green Fire. I’ve no idea how possible this is, leveling itself won’t be an issue as I have multiple Warlocks to choose from but whether I can level, gear to a decent enough standard and beat the boss in time I’m not sure.
  2. Acquire as many of the items on the Toy Box List as possible. Due to the sheer size of this, I’ll probably do a separate post or series chronicling my attempts to achieve this.
  3. Sort out Snowflower’s transmogrification requiring items from UBRS asap as the dungeon will clearly be changing prior to Warlords being released.
  4. Attempt to get Dulcamara to the end of the Brawler’s Guild. She’s rank 7 at the moment but has received a few upgrades since my last attempt at beating the fight she was stuck on. If I keep failing as a Mistweaver, I will try speccing dps to have a go.

My focus with List Two is more to keep things ticking over, for example when I’m running UBRS I’ll try and remember to use a tabard to finish up my Panda Rep and whenever the Faire rolls into town, I’ll do a couple of dailies and my profession quests.

  1. 60 exalted reputations on Snowflower. Whilst this would be great before November, there are new reputations coming with the expansion and I’m not missing that many.
  2. Enough Darkmoon Faire tokens tucked away to purchase the new clothing coming with the expansion.
  3. Farm the other 8000 Dinosaur bones I need for the White Raptor. Riding it on the Beta has shown me how lovely it is.
  4. Farm around 300 Oshu’gun Crystal Powder to get the two Halaa mounts. I have the kill tokens I need so slaughtering some Ogres in practice for the expansion should be easy enough.

I’m sure there are a thousand and one other things but to begin with at least, these eight should keep me out of mischief.

ALT:ernative Chat’s 10 years, 10 questions: Looking Back at the Last 10 Years

Just before I went away for the weekend, the Godmother raised an interesting set of questions on our WoW experiences over the last 10 years and whilst wandering around an art festival and trying not to be sick on people for the last two days, I’ve been mulling over my answers.

 

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

Wandering the aisles of our local supermarket, Mr Harpy picked up WoW from the shelf and suggested we give it a try. We weren’t long back from almost a year of travelling and were looking for some sort of distraction to help us readjust back. He had played all the previous Warcraft games and was a big fan of the franchise. I on the other hand had only played Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne which we had picked up whilst travelling through Canada the previous year. I had no idea what a MMO was and certainly no clue what we were getting ourselves into. At first we just bought one copy to see if we liked it and at first, I quickly bored of the whole thing. In fact it was only by level 10 or so that my interest was sparked again and I think that was by the sheer size of the game, oh and the sea monsters off the coast of Darkshore. In my absence Mr Harpy had managed to join a Guild full of Female Nightelves and imagine my surprise when I discovered that 99 percent of them were played by guys (I may have been slightly more naive at that point) and once I got over the shock of chatting to “real” people through a game, I started to enjoy myself more and more. In the end buying my own copy seemed like the right thing to do and we did, driving an hour to track down another copy.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

The first character I rolled on my own account was a Human Female Warlock. I still have her and by coincidence she was on the realm which was recently joined to my current server so ideally I would like to level her from 62 to the cap at some point.

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She reached Knight-Captain in those early days of the Honor system before being abandoned for a Priest and a  PvP server, thus wears her PvP gear with pride and a certain amount of snark, reminding me that she could have gone all the way had I not left her for bloodier pastures. Her bags do make for an interesting time capsule with their Darkspear Troll Mojo (apparently I really didn’t like Trolls) and her Thrash Blade though. Whilst I did love playing a Warlock, the whole soul shard thing in world pvp was a pain especially given that you had to travel quite a distance to find high enough level mobs from both Hillsbrad and the Barrens plus the summons whispers… grrrr.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

 So whilst Mr Harpy was busy installing our first copy of World of Warcraft, I was flicking through the manual making important decisions like faction, race etc etc. I wanted us to roll a Druid and looking at the pictures, Nightelf catform beat Tauren catform hands down. I know, I know…..  We have since then played both factions and I am rather partial to the Forsaken but we still play Alliance primarily.
4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

After lots of reflection, I think three person healing the end of Anub’arak 25 man Heroic to our first kill has to be the most memorable. Killing C’thun at the time was amazing but we had weeks and weeks of preparation leading up to a sensible kill, clearing Ulduar and getting our Proto-drakes was pretty good as was getting my legendary and of course my Benediction but Anub’arak wins out because it was such a close run thing. Half our healers were dead and people were thinking it’s wipe but somehow, the three of us managed to keep ourselves, the two tanks and enough DPS alive in order for us to get a kill. My hands were shaking so much that around 8 seconds after the giant undead bug keeled over, I died too having too excited to bother healing my debuff any more. Although beating an Arms warrior in vanilla on my Priest for control of the mine in Arathi Basin was pretty sweet too.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

The sheer scale of it. Feel like Healing, join a battleground or dungeon queue. Feel like wandering around by yourself, go for it, there’s plenty of places to go. There was a time when I would have instinctively picked Healing as an answer to this and I do still love it but my anxieties mean that I have increasingly found it hard to partake in this social aspect of the game. I’m hoping that with this new expansion I’ll be able to conquer that, but the truth is, I suspect that I’m just too emotional fragile at the moment.

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

Duskwood has held a fascination for me since I first set foot across that rickety bridge almost 9 and a half years ago. I hang out in the Scarlet Raven or wander it’s boneyards visiting old friends. I especially love to visit at Hallows End when all the spooky decorations are out.

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On the Horde side, I’d say Silverpine Forest is a clear favourite again especially at Hallows End.

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

On my mostly main Snowflower I have 197 days played although I suspect if I logged every alt and added it all up, the total would be far more scary. It hasn’t been continuous as unfortunately I’ve witnessed more than I’d argue my fair share of in-game Drama. What with Guild leaders who hacked their own websites to read private messages, GMs who did a fair impression of Jekyll and Hyde, turning from a good laugh into a psychopath kicking people for nothing more serious than a slight mistake which they apologized for and just other general nastiness. There was a time when Mr Harpy ran a guild and was accused of running a Cult of Personality by the other officers because the rest of the guild didn’t respect them enough. This would have been funny if it wasn’t for the fact that rather than approach him, said officers thought that coming to me accusing him of being unfair made more sense. Sometimes you just need to run away before the madness gets to you. That’s before I even get into the loot drama, the general rows and spending most of vanilla in a top end raiding guild where everyone hated everyone else and healers were on par with Mages in Dragon Age, useful but best locked up somewhere and denied any loot which might encourage them into unholy ways.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

Always and much to the annoyance of Mr Harpy who doesn’t care about lore but just wants to know that he can aoe grind and get healed, not die whilst my nose is buried into quest text. To me the game is a bit like a choose your own adventure game and therefore you have to read the quest text otherwise you’re blundering around in the dark killing for fun and gold and fancy clothes not because X is bad and deserves to have their head cut off and carried back to Stormwind.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

There are a few occasions when I should have spoken up sooner and louder. On the whole though, there might be a lot of blood on my hands but I think my Nightelf Priest would be semi proud at least of the way in which I have carried her through Azeroth.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming? 

Very little. My parents, my Mother in particular see gaming as some satanic ritual guaranteed to condemn you into a life of sin so discussing it with family is completely out. I have after all, enough to argue with my Mother about already. Blogging about the game has helped me keep my hand in with writing, something which was always a massive part of my life and I do have a Wind-rider club guarding my monitor.

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