Tuesday, June 30, 2009

How Big is Yours?

In light of the recent Burger King ad in Singapore, I decided to play on words a bit with the title. But just so you know, it has absolutely nothing to do with that ad whatsoever.

I am not a chronic switcher. I've been on the same server since I started playing World of Warcraft years ago. I have a small handful of toons on other servers, but I don't think any of them have gone over level 10. I've had Leiandra, my mage, as my main from the very beginning. She's been in 2 guilds. I got my priest to 70 because I leveled shadow (wannabe mage?). I got my shaman to 80... well... maybe that's been the most out of the cookie-cutter thing I've done in Wow. lol. My druid got stuck at 60 (back with the cap was 70). My rogue got to 40, but I didn't really much enjoy the class. Paladin, warlock, and hunter all got to about 30. I got a DK to 68 back in beta, but haven't done more than create one on live.

So, last night, a couple friends signed on that I haven't seen in awhile. They raided with us awhile ago, but RL got a bit too hectic, and so they settled on a smaller server with his brother, but they still have a few toons on Bronzebeard. In our conversation, they said that I should "totally transfer a toon over to" their server. Ultimately, there's no way I'd make any of their raid times (they start at 6, and I can't usually get on until 8), so it won't happen. But they were talking about all the benefits of being on this smaller server. And it really got me thinking.

Bronzebeard was one of the original servers when wow was first lauched back in November 2004. It's certainly never been one of the cutting edge servers as far as progression goes, but there's always been a healthy population of people. We've had a small share of drama (who hasn't heard about Vinkar?), but on the whole, I assume we're pretty average.

But more on general terms, I think there's always going to be positives and negatives for both small and large population servers. The only way you'd really be able to know what another server is like is to spend some serious time there. But with the majority of my friends (both RL and only met in-game friends) on Bronzebeard, it's kind of hard to think about leaving.

We did have a brief guild discussion about other servers. Two guildies actually started playing Wow on Horde on another server. Actually... they started on the same server. They said they should have had me try Horde. Hmm... maybe one day I'll get a Horde toon above level 10.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Deadly Boss Mods: Revisited

Bless WowInsider's heart (or Wow.com as they're now called). They are a great source of information. They compile so much from so many sources. It's just a shame when they miss little things. Like they're little post about Essential addons for raid leaders. The very first mod they list is for Deadly Boss Mods (good). And as is mentioned, it's kind of a necessity for all raiders. But the most important part of that suite for a raid leader doesn't come from Curse as is linked on their site.

Oh no... the most important part comes from the Deadly Boss Mods downloads page. They're two extra packages called "Spell Timers" and "Raid Lead Tools". Let's see the description, shall we?

Spell Timers
"DBM-SpellTimers is a small but powerful addon that uses DBM timers to show spell cooldowns from raid members. It is fully configurable through a simple GUI so you can easily add new spells."

Want to know when Heroism is up? Or how about who cast Rebirth, and who's still on cooldown? Or how about anything with a significant cooldown? (Yep... even portals. lol.) Yeah, kind of important for a Raid Leader to know. Go get this one.

Raid Lead Tools
"Raid Lead Tools uses the DBM API (especially the kill/pull detection) to manage your raid and DKP. You can export tracked raids to eqDKP with just a few clicks!"

Now, I've actually used CT Raid Tracker for this functionality. (Found here... used to be hosted on Curse.) But it sure sounds like a useful Raid Leader Mod to me. :)

Point being though.... the Spell Timers are WAY better than having to ask, "Whose Battle Rez is up?"

Edit: I didn't even mention the best part of these additional mods. Not sure which one it is, but one of them gives a mass invite to all guildies. Saves a ton of time when you have exactly 25 (or less) on. :)

Finding Old Quest Chains

I mentioned yesterday my big ordeal to pick up the quest chain I had going for Wyrmcrest Accord. I jumped on my shaman last night and saw somebody advertising for the group quests. (Keep in mind these are level 72-ish quests that I just didn't get around to doing when I was about 72. I'm now 80 with the then active spec of enhancement.) So, for easy gold, I decided to help out, and actually do the quests as well.

One guy leaves our full group, so the group leader goes looking for in general chat for somebody else. "Let's just do them, I'm sure I count as 2 people," I say... in general chat. Oops. lol. But yeah, we did just fine with 3 lvl 72's and me as a lvl 80 for these 3- to 5-man quests. lol.

At any rate... once I finished those, I decided to go look for that quest chain again. I look in my quest log... "Hey, what's this quest... that's... part of... the chain I was looking for." Sigh. The quest giver for that quest was in the area just West of Wyrmcrest Temple. A place that I had flown over previously, but didn't see the question mark because I flew by too quickly. So... yeah. I found the chain.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Picking Up Old Quest Chains

I'm very much enjoying healing 5-man content on my shaman. I'm actually looking forward to a night when we need a healer for a 10-man raid so I can try my hand out there. But I also find that there's a bit more work that I'm going to have to put in to my shaman. He's got maxed out Mining (yeah, Toughness) and I'm still working on Jewelcrafting as a kind of side project. But the immediate focus is reputations.

And if you play a healer, you probably guessed that my first faction is that of the Wyrmrest Accord. The item "need" that won't go away until next expansion is the Arcanum of Blissful Mending; there's really no other substitute for it, so I need to get Revered. The Gavel of the Brewing Storm is a pretty good upgrade for my weapon, but I really should just have a guildie make me a Titansteel Guardian.

So, I went off questing in Dragonblight, which was a zone that I kind of 1/2 skipped. These level 72 quests are pretty easy for a level 80, so I just decided to do as many as I could. But after finishing most of them, I realized that I should probably finish the ones over at Wyrmrest Temple since I knew those (and the dailies) would be Wyrmrest rep. Only problem is, the dailies weren't available to me. A quick jaunt over to Wowwiki tells me that I need to start the quest chain off of an item drop over near Stars' Rest.

Long story short, I kill the guy and can't find it. I no longer have any quests over at Stars' Rest (completeted those ages ago), and can't seem to figure out the next step. The only place I didn't check was down in the Tuskar camp, but that quest seemed optional. I'll have to check there tonight.

Anyway, the whole point is... it's a pain to pick up quest chains you stopped months ago.

Lies From a Dealership

Okay, I promise this is the last thing I'll post about a car dealership. But I thought the following was hilarious and I needed to share.

Once my car was ready, they told me so and that I could pay the cashier. Nothing else was said. Nothing. So, upon signing my receipt, I get the 4-page invoice. A couple of interesting line items.

Page 1
"Customer has been advised of needed
maintenance - Problem Found - OIL PAN IS

Page 2
"RPS Red - power steering system needs immediate attention"
"RBS Red - brake fluid needs immediate attention"

Page 3

Their typo's aside, I'm pretty sure they're saying that they told me about the problems, and I declined to have them fix them. (A) They never said anything about any problems, and (B) Yes, I would have declined for them to fix the problems, but that's not the same thing as I actually did decline.

Also of note, I'm sure they were supposed to fill in the date/time or phone number that they let me know the recommendations. I didn't selectively quote the Invoice... they simply didn't include that data on my copy of the Invoice.

After that, my next favorite part is the following (I took out the caps for readability this time): "Very soon you will receive a survey regarding your service experience. At Temecula Mazda we value your opinion. We are committed to your satisfaction. If for any reason we have not earned a 'very satisfied' rating on all the survey questions, please let us know so we may address your concerns." Oh, I will Hine Temecula Mazda, I will.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Misleading Marketing: Car Dealership Edition

I just needed to vent, and this is the best place I know to do it. For those that know me, I'm generally a pretty well-informed car guy. I may not know the exact specifications of your '65 Chevy, but I'm generally up to speed on current products. I usually view the car dealerships and sales people as tools that get in the way of what I want. I distrust them at every corner. Heck, I don't even trust their mechanics if I take my car in for warranty work. I generally equate them to the level of politicians. And given that I think California is almost going to financially fall into the ocean because of the current politicians we have here, my opinion of them (and the car dealerships for other reasons) are about the same.

Last week I got a phone call from my local Mazda dealership here in Temecula: Hines Mazda. They offered me an oil change and car wash for $9.99. "Great!" I think, but the catch is they're only open Monday through Friday. Because of my commute, there's generally no way I can make it here during their business hours, so I decided to pass. I was actually due for an oil change, so it would have been perfect. BUT... my older son had "Donuts for Dads" today at Kindergarten, so I took the day off, and I went ahead and scheduled my oil change as well. (I'm actually writing this from the dealership.)

Not only does the oil change include their 50-point (or whatever) check (which is a bunch of marketing crap for "we glanced under the hood"), but it also includes a free car wash. (With the rain clouds looming, that really isn't much of a draw for me today, but whatever.) Admitedly, that's probably worth about $35 -> $20 for the oil change (what I normally pay) and $15 for the car wash. But the advertised price was $9.99.

So, I bring my car in, get the paperwork, and the estimate is $15. "Umm... excuse me?" I say, "Why is this estimate of $15?"

"Oh, that's the standard tax and disposal fee," he replies.

(So as to not crit with a wall of text, I'll omit the conversation I had with the check-in guy, and the Service Manager, Art.)

I'm a little peeved off at the 50% increase in price. The coupons I've seen are a set amount with usually a disclaimer with more for V-6 engines. But they've included hazarous waste fees. Well, Art, the Service Manager here at Hines didn't think this was resonable. His response was that with sales tax going up and hazardous waste fees, this was perfectly normal. I have no problem paying taxes, but this is essentially akin to a hidden fee based on what the marketing person, Debbie, told me. And how does a 1% increase in sales tax even factor in to a discussion about a 50% increase???

What is the whole point of a $9.99 (or in reality $15) oil change and car wash? They're losing money on it either way. The point is to get people in to the dealership mechanic so that they can see the dealership is a nice, clean, fast place to get your car work done, and the people can be trusted too. Well, actions speak much louder than words, Hines Motors.

So, whole point of this tiraid is this: don't take your car to the dealership for anything unless it's guaranteed 100% free (e.g. Waranty stuff). Even then, see if you can take it to your local mechanic, and they'll get reimbursed for it. (I believe some waranty work can be done this way.) Oh, and if you're actually buying a new car... go through Cars Direct or something so the dealership gets less as well.

Be warned, I'm in no mood to defend this. So if you post something that's contrary to my point (e.g. all the coupons I've seen don't include hazardous waste), I reserve the right to delete the comment out of spite.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Basic Tank Hints: Defense

I was laid up in bed for most of Saturday and all of Sunday. It was plenty of time to quest my shaman to level 80 (from about 77, I think), dual spec him as a healer, and run a couple of my first heroics as a healer. It's pretty much a different game playing as a healer vs. my normal role of DPS. And I enjoyed it a lot.

We first ran Heroic Violet Hold. It went very smoothly. The only casualty was a mage that pulled agro. (That would so be me in normal situations. lol.) I got a minor upgrade with Moragg's Chestguard, and also the Design: Thick Autumn's Glow.

A little bit later, another group went to go do Heroic Nexus. While it wasn't the worst run ever, I now have a more complete understanding as to why healers can't keep up under geared and incompetent tanks. After a number of wipes (I wouldn't consider any of them my fault), we finally made it through. I did make it out with the Bands of Channeled Energy, but lost the roll for the Design: Deadly Monarch Topaz. And I lost the roll to the tank who also got the Flame-Bathed Steele Girdle and the Bulwark of the Noble Protector. Yeah, that's right... the tank got the 3 items from the last boss.

But at any rate... here's the issues I had with the tank. Tanks, pay attention here.
  • Tanks need Defense rating. It's kind of a basic stat for you guys. For Wrath for Heroics, tanks need a minimum of 535. For raids, you need 540. Heck, even in BC you needed 490. Our tank had 305. I could see every time he got crit because his health would be fine, and then it would drop to almost dead.
  • Know where your healer is and don't get too far ahead of him. Sure, it's our job to keep you alive, but if we stayed behind to look at loot, we're probably not ready for the next pull.
  • And along those lines, if your healer doesn't have mana, you might want to wait until he does before you pull.
  • Pull, don't charge. This warrior had a love of charging. He'd charge on almost every pull. Which would pull multiple mobs, which would cause wipes. Furthermore, charging at the mobs that are right before a boss has a high likelihood of pulling the boss. Trash mobs aren't meant to be pulled with the boss. I'm just saying.
  • If other people that have more knowledge about the instance ask you to do something, you might want to listen. Maybe, just maybe they know what's going on.

Friday, June 5, 2009

10-Man vs. 25-Man

In thinking about this topic, I really had to do some introspection about how I am as a gamer. Am I the type of gamer that wants to see every level, so I simply put the game on easy mode to be able to burn through a game in a couple nights? Or am I more of the type that wants all the bragging rights because I've beaten a game on ultra-extreme tough mode?

The answer is: It varies with every game.

A lot of games, I will simply play through on easy. If I enjoy the game, I'll bump up the difficulty so that there's more of a challenge. If it gets too insanely difficult though, I'm out. Some games will unlock additional content or levels if you play the game on these more challenging modes though.

Take the Guitar Heroes series, for example. (Hope I remember the skill levels here.) Easy is good for people to start learning. But I enjoy music, and I've played guitar for a few years, so in short time, that level got quite boring. Medium is a bit more hectic, but with practice, most people can probably do this level. Hard is where the boys and men are separated. You have to put in some practice to be able to move your fingers around now. And Expert? Well, that's just insane. Maybe that's what separates the hardcore from the casual. lol. When I was playing Guitar Heroes, I generally played Medium/Hard. (Once Rock Band came out, I haven't purchased any more of the GH series.) I really saw no point in getting a finger cramp from attempting Expert.

Rock Band, on the other hand, didn't make the difficulty quite so rough, in my opinion. With practice, I think most people can do Hard, and Expert is simply knowing the "real" song. I generally play Rock Band on Hard/Expert. The difference is attainability.

Well, I played both those games and skill levels for my own personal satisfaction. I don't play Expert on songs to show off amongst my friends. No, I do it because it makes the game more fun when I have to struggle a bit. But there's certain solos that make me want to simply restart the system... oh, and I fail almost instantly on those.

Now... what the heck does that have to do with 10-man and 25-mans? First off... they're not equal. It's more difficult to do the 25-man runs, so you get better loot. I would expect that. But I would also expect your options to be the same (which they're not). So, if you get a trinket in 25-man that increases your spell power by 111, then you should be able to get the same trinket in 10-man that increases your spell power by say... 98. But that's just not the case.

Naxx loot has 4 trinkets for 10-man and 8 for 25-man. Furthermore, not all classes can get 2 legitimate trinkets from them. Like what would I do with the second ranged DPS trinket from Naxx as a mage?

Anyway... the whole point is that I've starting asking myself: do I care? And if I do, why?

I've made fun of a buddy of mine because he's still in mostly blues. I've suggested a few upgrades, even crafted ones, but the cost simply doesn't justify the upgrade. And he does pretty good DPS. He obviously plays his class well, but he just doesn't devote that much time to raiding to be able to get full epics.

And the whole point of the game is that I want to have fun. I want to hang out with my friends. And maybe every once in awhile, I get a gear upgrade. But mainly, I want to see the content, or... I want to finish the game. I think because of TBC and original wow, I still have this leftover mentality that I have to be in 25-man raids. But really... I just don't care that much. Furthermore, I'd be perfectly happy if I was simply running 10-mans with my 9 closest friends, and hopefully somebody (doesn't even have to be me) gets an upgrade.

So don't let the mob mentality make you do things you don't want to. It is a game, so make sure you're happy while you're playing it. Do what makes you happy.

p.s. If running 25-man content makes you happy, then by all means... go for it. This was in no way meant to bash or discredit anybody else's idea of fun.


Just in case anybody is wondering: I will not be Twittering.

That is all.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Failoc-alpse Broken

I was on a daily conference call this morning that I had to be on, but is really quite pointless for me to be on. So, since I had to be 1/2 brain dead for the call, I figured I could be 1/2 brain dead to play Failoc-Alypse. Quite humorous that Blizzard is willing to laugh at, at least some of, their mistakes, and even make a game out of it. At any rate... I think I broke it.I got bored and started using more charge attacks. Then the charge just kind of took over the screen. Must be the same code they used at the beginning of Wow when people would cast spells and then appear to have their hands raised until you logged out.