Day Ninety Seven - 15 Sep 2011

Aldonza has been earning loads of gold at the Auction House (see more about Aldonza's gold lust) and she passed on much of the excess gold to Kallixta. Certainly she could find something to spend it on? Kallixta has been upgrading her equipment in preparation for the End Game. What's the fun in accumulating 100,000g if you never spend any of it? First, some items Kallixta could upgrade via Blacksmithing for both her Holy and Tank specs (plus adding sockets to her bracers and gloves and things like Ebonsteel Belt Buckle):
Second, Kallixta had made some progress on reputations that provided rewards worthwhile upgrading from either Guardians of Hyjal and Ramakahen:
Next, I found several items that were major upgrades for Kallixta on teh Auction House. Since there wasn't a rush, Aldonza could shop carefully. For the more expensive items, she could bid instead of buy-out and save a few hundred. In all, she paid just over 5000 gold for these:
That leaves a few quest rewards that I haven't upgraded, including one obsolete trinket!:
The results are that her Tank Spec Equipment Item Level averages 326 while Holy lags to 320. Moving these upgrades into place and shifting things around a bit for specs, I managed an achievement:
That's right. I hadn't managed a blue in all slots above 187 item level until now. Some of those Cataclysm greens where way too attractive.

Day Ninety Six - 14 Sep 2011

Kallixta's guild has recently talked about running Old World Raids during the week. Wednesday night saw someone ask, "Anyone up for Black Temple?" Kallixta joined in.

Now Martuska has actually run the Black Temple once, so this wasn't very new ground, but it was a wonderful opportunity to work with my guild mates and prepare for more old raids in the future. I also remember from our run of Ahn'Qiraj that Kallixta was unlikely to be needed as a tank or healer, but she doesn't have a Retribution spec. She ran as a tank and occasionally pulled a few mobs off the "real tank", but I felt like I contributed more.

We only had five, so this wasn't going to be a Guild Run. We had three paladins and two hunters, but at level 84, Kallixta was the lowest level and little in the run was a challenge. Well, little meaning only one spot was a challenge, the Den of Mortal Delights. It wasn't any boss. We just didn't take those scantily dressed ladies seriously enough and suddenly our entire party was charmed. We gathered way too many of the mind-controlling lasses and laughed at ourselves, helplessly watching our health wither. The hunters managed to feign death and one Mass Resurrection later, we had our chance to retry the encounter. This time we were careful to gather in small groups and we puzzled over why we had any trouble!

We took Illidan down quickly and before he changed form, and two of us got our Black Temple achievement. Ironically, Got My Mind On My Money  popped, despite my mind being elsewhere.

Our group was happy with the result and someone asked if we wanted to try Gruul's Lair. I was willing and we even managed to recruit another guild mate to join. I had done zero preparation, but in the few minutes granted to bio-breaks and for repairs and junk selling, I read enough to know we would have even less trouble.

We spent way more time on trying to decide on a kill order than needed. We joked the proper kill order should just be "Them before Us" and leave it at that. the sub-bosses died quickly and Gruul soon joined them. Again Kallixta was not the only one to gain Gruul's Lair. Someone else thought this was the last raid they needed for Outland Raider, but when it didn't pop for them, realized there must be another. The group decided this was sufficient for a mid-week run and stopped there.

While it was wonderfully fun to accomplish and I got to bond with my guild mates, it wasn't a real opportunity to learn anything about future raiding. Nothing was sufficiently challenging enough to provoke us to real effort beyond "don't aggro the entire room of mind-controlling mobs". It did give me confidence that raiding with these folk will be enjoyable.

BA Shared Topic: WoW Music Playlist

The Blog Azeroth Shared Topic  this week was suggested by Saga of Spellbound:

The WoW in-game music is awesome, but there are times (at least for me) when I’m listening to my own music instead. Are there any specific songs that you connect with WoW? Whether it’s tied to your own characters in some way or simply because it reminds you of WoW. Please share!
Most frequently, I'm not listening to music while playing WoW. When I do, it's using my "Instrumental" playlist. This playlist is huge with over two hundred songs, so I won't list them all. Instead I've sampled a few to show the variety and eclectic nature of the thing. While obviously most music are instrumentals (because I don't like being distracted by lyrics), the exceptions prove the rule. I also happen to have things from Polish (Jacek Kaczmarski) to Japanese (Yuki Kajiura) as the lyrics still don't distract me.

I'm older than alot of WoW players. The playlist is a bit heavy on 1970s rock, but when looking at the variety allow me to select a few. These are ordered by year of first release. You might be surprised at how modern oldies can sound or think "Oh, I've heard that before". Enjoy!
  • Rumble, by Link Wray (1958)

  • Apache, Jorgen Ingmann (1961)
  • Green Onions, Booker T & the MGs (1962)
  • Point Panic, The Surfaris (1963)

  • Zorba the Greek, Herb Alpert and the Tiajuana Brass (1965)

  • Shine on you Crazy Diamond, Pink Floyd (1975)
  • Buck's Boogie, Blue Öyster Cult (1975)
  • In the Lap of the Gods, Alan Parson Project (1978)
  • Tramontane, Foreigner (1978)
  • Woodpecker from Mars, Faith No More (1989)
  • Lugubrious Whing Whang, Squirrel Nut Zippers (1995)
  • Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra in E flat Minor, Yngwie J. Malmsteen (1998)
  • In Memory of You, Yuki Kajiura (2001)
  • Hanuman, Rodrigo y Gabriela (2009)

I hope you enjoy these!

Day Ninety Five - 11 Sep 2011

Kallixta enjoyed revisited Blackrock Depths so much, and that long list of dungeons yet to be achieved was attracting her attention. I'm not sure how it was sorted, but Zul'Farrak was at the top of the list. It was the old dungeon I probably enjoyed the most on Martuska. There really wasn't a need to revisit on Kallixta, but I knew I could run through it quickly for a Sunday evening.

And it did go quickly. I discovered how small Kallixta aggro circle was and could avoid large numbers of mobs on horseback and ride to bosses in little time. I got a bit bored at the main pyramid event and ran around gathering up a huge crowd to take down quickly. I belatedly discovered there were spawn points that I was missing and a large number had gone up the steps and were working over the NPCs on my side. Luckily I discovered the oversight before any died. Soon the achievement dinged and I realized that Kallixta didn't have the hammer to ring Godzilla's gong. Actually that hammer might not be required any more, but I'd accomplished my night's mission and picked up a lovely item for future RP potential: Bad Mojo Mask.

Low level dailies, part 2

You might want to read Part 1

Updating for the last few weeks, Aldonza has continued with the experiment and will probably ding 35 in a week, at which point she'll be training new professional skills. It seems that first I'll point out a few interesting discoveries.

Aldonza had been limiting herself mostly to Ironforge with occasional visits to Stormwind. Compiling her few achievements, which included the reminder that she can teleport, I had her shift her operations around:
It only took a week to complete the new reason for basing in Stormwind. Along the way, two more achievements mark her progress. It was time to shift to Darnassus. I found the mailbox outside the Auction House extremely convenient, but the bank not so much.

I also discovered that more than the other two capitals, Darnassus is infested with critters! Serious, the number of frogs, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits and the like is significant. I ensured Frost Nova and Arcane Explosion were handy and I add a dozen or so critter kills each trip to the bank and several more going to and from the daily quest givers. This activity has resulted in moving the needle on or 10 points. Critter Kill Squad to 2%. Only about 50 months more! That's... 4 years at this rate?

The hazards of random dailies meant the last cooking quest dropped first but that clam quest didn't show up for another week!
Aldonza also hit level 34 about the same time, so Artisan Inscription is coming. To explain a bit of my excitement, just with Auction House games Aldonza has earned around 150,000g. Casually picking up 1000g a day is easy and I'll pick up considerably more on occasion.

If only skill are making money in an MMO translated to real life!

One other interesting thing popped up:

All done by one character, Aldonza. What will be the next thing to happen for the Sages of Tabasco?!

Day Ninety Four - 10 Sep 2011

Actually, there were a few more days of Kallixta playing "Whack a Plucker" for Ramakahen reputation, but nothing else until she got to missing life in a capital. She had been stuck in Uldum with her hearthstone set to Gadgetzhan when I finally decided to make a change. Aldonza has been enjoying Darnassus for a long time and both were perfectly happy with Ironforge, but Kallixta was going to need regular access back to Uldum, so that meant Stormwind.

After briefly settling in, and with Transmogrification potential in mind, Kallixta flew to western Darkshire for a short quest chain that yielded the Shield of Darkshire, which with Imperial Plate makes a character look like a Stormwind Guard. That's one of my RP plans for the future and it was easy enough to grab now.

Reviewing old sets, I was reminded that Kallixta was missing many Dark Iron Blacksmithing patterns. This was the reason for venturing into Blackrock Mountain. I missed out on Vanilla, joining just after Burning Crusade launched, and have been inside only a few times, such as chasing down an Elder at Lunar Festival time. This time I had four purposes:
In the back of my mind was laying the ground work for solo Molten Core runs for Sulfuras, but that wasn't for this weekend.

I used a wowhead guide to find my way around the huge BRD instance, which I found wonderfully confusing! There has been nothing like it since. It's huge. It has multiple paths, puzzles, goals and a mid-instance bar. It has atmosphere and useful shortcuts. I know the Mole machine teleport wasn't original, but a useful thing for keeping something like this from being too annoying.

The guide was excellent for finding the Core Fragment, but not so great at explaining the Grim Guzzler, which thus allowed me to solve some of the puzzle on how to exit by myself.

I mismanaged my exit and fell to the Black Anvil, necessitating the death of two more bosses before getting back on track, but I did pick up a cool Monocle I'd otherwise have missed. I picked up sufficient vendor trash with all those BOE greens that I returned to the Grim Guzzler just to clear my bags a bit.

I also had my daughter's boyfriend looking over my shoulder a few times, but mostly to help me peek inside Molten Core itself. He was the one that explained what I was doing wrong with the Core Hound packs! While inside, I tested the difficulty of soloing Lucifron. As might be expected, a level 84 Paladin can solo him easily enough. The trick is killing those damn Core Hound packs all together. I have no experience with managing my outgoing damage.

Back tracking a little, I returned to finish off Dagran Thaurissan.

Huh. While Kallixta is Revered on some reputations, this was the first faction she actually earned Exalted with! Martuska doesn't have this yet and she's my achievement whore. Kallixta needed this to buy some of the recipes. There isn't much for a Tailor.

I had a moment to reflect on Achievements. Martuska has already accumulated many, especially some Feats that Kallixta could never accomplish and she already has a huge number of pets, mounts, tabards and holiday things that I have no interest in repeating for Kallixta. However, Kallixta is already more complete on dungeons. If I'm serious about using Kallixta to explore things I missed with Martuska, I shouldn't mind the split in achievements, but there's an ache seeing Blackrock Depths and other dungeons on Kallixta and not on Martuska. How do I get over that?

Day Ninety One to Ninety Three - 14-16 Aug 2011

I did some more review of equipment, this time for her Protection spec, and found Kallixta's reputation with the Guardians of Hyjal was sufficient to provide a few upgrades:
I had also found a Relic upgrade on the Auction House:
Kallixta has been running the Pluckers daily to raise her Ramakahen reputation. Log on, whack the moles, and turn in. I had her hearthstone set to Gadgetzhan, but I realize that's a mistake. I should stay in Stormwind, take the portal to Uldum and hearth back. I don't know why I didn't.

Shared Topic: War-Crafts

The Blog Azeroth Shared Topic this week was suggested by Essence of Gamer Girl Confessions: World of War-Crafts

I started wondering, how many people are into making WoW-like things in real life? Not just food, though food could count too. But how many people create pottery inspired by WoW? Or wigs, or costumes inspired by WoW? Or even knit or sew things relating to WoW? Or are you a fan artist with pen and paper or pastels or clay? How about Machinmas? Comics? Stories?

I must confess I have stuff that fits into this category, but little ready so show.

  • The family has often dressed up in costumes imitating computer game characters, but none happen to be from WoW. For example, my older boy got me to sew a long black duster for Hallowe'en last year so he could be the Merchant from the Resident Evil franchise. This is the dude that started the family playing Warcraft before moving on to other things, like StarCraft, himself.

  • The family loves to rewrite popular songs to parody them into other subjects. I tried modifying a Billy Joel song that listed many things Azeroth. It really wasn't bad, but we never saved the lyrics and I have no intention of posting what little I remember.

  • The family does have all of Ember Isolte's WoW Parody songs on iPod, perfectly suitable for road trips. My younger son was singing "Ninja Raiders" on his way to school just yesterday.

  • My daughter's boyfriend has raided as a Hunter. He probably would appreciate my reference to her dog as a Blighthound, but he knows better than to laugh.
  • My kids bought me a plush Griffon, but I haven't made something myself. Well, I have sewn stuffed animals before and many could be matched to things found in, say, the Borean Tundra. The "Buffy Rat" in our foyer wears a small crucifix necklace and I've thought it looks like it could be from Gilneas.
The fact is, we are a geeky family and warcraft is only part of all the geekiness in our house.

BA Shared Topic: One vs Many? (Solo vs Party Questing)

The topic this week at Blog Azeroth was suggested by Martha of  Perish Twice: One vs Many? (Solo vs Party Questing)
While there are some quests that specifically call for grouping, most don't... but do you group anyway? How many of you pick up a friend or guildie to quest with and how many grind the lonely roads alone?
I before I could post an entry that really didn't add much to what others already said, I concentrated my few thoughts that weren't distracted by the upcoming holiday weekend and had a thought that I hadn't seen others consider.
Yes, yes. Questing and leveling has been changed so much that the old Group Quests can all be soloed and the LFD and PVP tools have conditioned folks to quickly level to get somewhere else. It's easy to understand a hesitancy to inviting an unknown character to complete some quests together.
I've tried raising a character with my son, questing together, but it was too easy for one of us to play one session without the other and suddenly the level difference made things too difficult to continue. The current levelling speed only makes this worse!

Leveling has become a solo experience while things like Raids are not. A 5-man dungeon is obviously a group, yet many pugs are accomplished without any social interaction. Where is there room in today's WoW for a real party experience?

I think the answer Blizzard gives us is in Guilds. At least in my guild, folks don't group up to do quests, but we have been know to form a group with a specific goal. One particularly memorable event was when someone wanted to hunt a Whale Shark and excitedly convinced a bunch of us to try.
It strongly reminded me of a fight versus Stitches in Darkshire in the old days, complete with squeals of terror. Granted the reward was only an Achievement, not a loot drop or token towards completing a legendary, but it was something special.

Another Guild activity was when one of us wanted to solo Black Fathoms Deep for the achievement and asked if anybody else wanted to join. There was no requirement for others as they were perfectly capable of soloing the old content, but it was an excuse to do something together. A really neat part was how it gave me fodder for subsequent Role Play.

These activities obviously don't fit the old "Group Quest" paradigm nor questing at all, really, but they did give an old fashioned feel that reminded me of how we'd group for a dungeon in the "old days" and one veteran would help others ensure they were picking up the right quests before joining together at the gathering stone.

Now THAT image in my brain has prompted some real nostalgic thinking.