Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Bad Hunter, Good Hunter

Some of my adventures around Azeroth...

Bad Hunter:

-I jumped off a high ledge in Dire Maul. Guess who I forgot to dismiss? Mmyep. About three minutes later, in the middle of discussing strategy, my pet comes running up followed by basically every single mob in the instance. Admittedly those last two seconds before we died were pretty funny (I've never seen that many mobs), and the group I was with was very forgiving and reminded me that it was sort of a hunter rite-of-passage... but I still was pretty embarrassed.

-I helped out a group in Scholo so one of the group members could get his pally mount, and another could progress in her warlock mount chain. Not too long into the instance I made a terrible mistake, clicked on the wrong mob, and without noticing, hit my "Hunter's Mark/Pet Attack" macro key. This proceeded to pull basically the entire room. We managed to survive somehow, but I was beating myself up for it and making it worse was the fact that the PuG-members of the group assumed I was a huntard and started telling me to dismiss my pet. I apologized, told them it was my fault and not the pet's, and that it wouldn't happen again and that my pet was staying out whether they liked it or not. I'm hoping they noticed that my pet was very well-controlled for the rest of the instance and that I topped the damage meters pretty squarely. Normally I don't like to flaunt the DPS meters but I really wanted to prove to them that I actually was competent and had just made a bad mistake. (And no I didn't actually post the damage meters, but I'm hoping they noticed =P)

Good Hunter:

-This story takes place during another Scholo run (I help lower-level guildies in lower-level instances a lot). We were doing one of the boss rooms, the pull hadn't turned out as we'd liked, and to make a long story short the entire room was on top of us.

It was pretty obvious that a wipe was imminent as I watched the group members fall one by one, so I took out as many mobs as I could before I was alone and overwhelmed. I ran out of the room, put my pet on defensive instead of passive (so he at least wouldn't go down without a fight) and feigned death.

Poor Locke, I thought, I'm going to be sitting here playing dead while he dies...

But wait, what's this?

Hey, Locke is doing pretty good against those three mobs (one of which was an elite) that are on him. He wouldn't live without heals and help, but still...

I got up, bandaged up, popped Mend Pet, took out one of the mobs, trapped another, and then proceeded to solo the 60 elite.

So there we were, my pet and I standing triumphant in the face of what was otherwise a wipe. It was here that I noticed party chat was filled with people saying things like "Okay, wait for the mobs to be reset... whoa, what the heck, Tawyn's not dead yet?" "Tawyn's still not dead?"

And then I said "Hey guys, I killed an elite for ya", not really thinking much of it, but then party chat proceeded to say ", Tawyn killed the boss."

...I did?

Apparently I did!

He was a few levels lower than me yes. But he was an elite, and he had buddies with him, and I took him down.

And that made me feel really awesome.

-I defeated an equal-level marks-spec'd hunter in a duel. I still had about half of my hit points left by the end of it, too. Looking back on it I can think of some things he did wrong, for example, not sending his pet in to attack me (granted I would have trapped it anyway, but it's the principle of the thing, ya know?) But it's funny because I always had this notion in my head that marks-hunters did a lot better in duels. So this was another one of those "feel-good" moments.

The Morals of the Stories:

- Dismiss your pet before you jump off a ledge.

- Be absolutely sure you know who you are targeting before you send your pet in.

- Don't assume you've lost when you're staring in the face of an instance wipe or a duel against a differently-spec'd hunter. You never know when things will conspire to give you the edge you need.

Oh, and lastly...

- Don't tell a good hunter what to do with their pet. Suggestions, okay. But "I hate your pet, please dismiss him"... no. Not a good idea. We have a thing called Huntery Pride and it comes out in full-force sometimes, and you probably don't want to mess with it. *nods*

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Good Instance Runs: Chicken Soup for the WoW-playing Soul

I have to admit I don't do a lot of instances. It's not because I don't want to do them, so much as because I often don't have the time for them. I tend to be the busiest or the most likely to frequently AFK during the prime instance-running hours: the evening. So oftentimes I opt out of doing instances because I don't want to bother the others with any potential frequent BRBs.

Today, however, was Thanksgiving, so I had a lot of wonderful uninterrupted spare time. (And don't worry, I spent a lot of time with my family as well! =P My mom is a great cook.)

So, I ran Hellfire Ramparts. Twice. The group consisted of guildies and friends, mostly at level 60 (though I was at level 64), and included a warrior tank, a tree druid healer, a feral druid, and two BM hunters.

And I had an absolutely fantastic time, both times. The warrior had never done much tanking before and was very nervous about the whole thing, but he wound up doing a very impressive job. The healer was a great healer. The feral druid was one dangerous kitty. The other hunter was one of the best hunters I have worked with so far, and I'd like to think that I'm not too shabby either.

My job was DPS + CC, and it was one of the first times that I was really asked to provide consistent CC throughout the duration of a dungeon rather than just a few times. The other hunter and I actually played off of each other really well here; sometimes my trap would be resisted and she would be right there with a backup trap, or vice-versa. But what I really felt proud about were the times I had to chain trap. Sure, I'd practiced with the raptors in Arathi a la BRK, but here I was being asked to do it in a much more crucial setting. I guess I shouldn't have worried because I seemed to do pretty good job, and that culminated in my sudden development of a severe case of "I'm-turning-into-a-real-hunter-itis", a horrible disease that causes one to gesture frantically at the screen and tell one's significant other "I'm chain trapping! I'M CHAIN TRAPPING! Are you watching??"


I also got to pull, at the warrior's request. Oh, and the healer healed my pet whenever he was offtanking (or saving the healer). Both these people actually have level 70 hunters already so that may have helped.

Overall it was a fantastic experience. I feel like I learned a lot, and it felt really good to exit the instance knowing we'd done so well and handled the problems we'd came across. I got myself some new gear, and then because I was feeling particularly giddy I threw down a bunch of gold on an agility enchant for my polearm. At level 64, my agility is now over 400 and my crit chance is now over 15%, and I am one happy little hunterling.

I'm going to start trying to do more instances.

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the States!

Monday, November 19, 2007

I couldn't help myself.

I got my tauren hunter to level 29 today, and as is the typical case with me when I get to the end of a "bracket", I'm taking some time out to go play in the battlegrounds.

So there I was, guarding Blacksmith by myself in Arathi Basin, feeling a bit awkward about not having Flare or other helpful higher-level skills and dreaming of the trinket I'm saving up honor for. We're winning this particular game and it's nearing the end, but I've still got a freezing trap sitting at the flag waiting for anybody who wanted to try something at the last minute.

Suddenly I heard a familiar noise. I turned around and, what do you know, a rogue is caught in my trap.

Now I try to be a friendly person and honorable fighter in PvP, and throughout the whole game, really. I thank players for their heals or buffs and in general I think I'm a pretty nice person.

But at this point all I could do was be amused at the hapless rogue as my mind cycled back through all the dozens of times I've fallen prey to the stealthed hand of this particular class...

/target rogue

And then I sic'd my kitty on her and she went down like a fly, and it felt pretty darn good.

Dear rogue, wherever you are... I'm sorry for laughing at you when you were stuck in my trap. But you have to realize how funny it looked and how nice it felt to be the one catching you by surprise for once. I was laughing with you, not at you. I promise. ^^

My tauren also tamed a new pet today; the windserpent Arikara. He apparently makes quite an entrance when you summon him. And I've never had a windserpent before, so it'll be fun to try him out. I named him Ivan to go with the kitty Alyosha, and yes the third pet is going to be Dmitri. Cookie for anybody who gets the reference to my favorite book. *cough* =D

Friday, November 16, 2007

Desktops & Blogs

This is a screenshot I took today of my current computer desktop:

The wallpaper was made by the extraordinarily talented artists over at The Bronze Kettle, which is a very good WoW blog that I would recommend looking into if you haven't already.

Speaking of blogs, I've finally updated my sidebar's blogroll; in fact, thanks to Google Reader and some code, it should actually self-update now every time I find a new blog to read. (Thanks to Mania for originally pointing out that you could do this!)

My blogroll has gotten very big in such a short amount of time, if it gets much bigger I might have to make a dedicated "page" for it. But I like having all the links on the blog itself.

Ding 63 and I got my [Survivalist's Pike]! It even has my nickname in it, so you know it's gotta be a good weapon. =P

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ten Random Thoughts

I sort of have a lot to talk about, but most of them aren't things I want to make full-blown posts about. However, here is a random sampling of what has been on my mind and in my WoW lately:

1. The Dead Zone is gone and I still unconsciously back up to "get range" even if I don't have to. I can't help myself. It's months and months of hunter training that I don't know if I can undo. Heehee.

2. The Hellfire Peninsula music really has a very Holst-like feel to it. It feels right out of the Planets Suite to me. It makes me wonder if that's where the game's composers got some inspiration, or if I'm just being a geek. My money is on the latter.

3. I got my Epic Mount!

4. What's with all the shaman-inspired Outlands gear? I keep finding myself choosing the leather rogue quest rewards over the mail shammy ones. Yes, my armor is taking a bit of a hit, and yeah I like Intellect, but come on... if you give me a choice between a +30 agi, +30 stam, +attack power leather piece, and a +12 agi +12 stam +12 int +magical damage/healing mail piece... I'm gonna take the former. I've heard other people say that shamans have an unusually high amount of Outlands stuff, but wow, I had no idea they were this prevalent.

5. I have been challenged! Namely, my guild has put forth a bit of a friendly challenge for those among us who are in our early-60s: to get to 70 by Christmas. A few people have even taken it farther and have a 100g bet on the line for whoever gets there first. I've agreed to participate in the challenge but at the same time, I don't want that to be the sole reason I'm leveling. I'm playing the game for fun, afterall, not to see if I can beat my guildies to 70. So I'm going to maybe kick up my leveling just a notch, and then not worry about it after that. I'll get to 70 when I get there.

6. Speaking of my guild, I really like it a lot. When I first started this blog we were this tiny little guild of about 20 people; somehow we seem to have exploded recently to nearly 100 characters and almost as many accounts. Some people have their tiffs, as you will see in all guilds, but other than that our guild is full of friendly and intelligent people who willingly donate money to others' mount funds and run newbies through instances on a daily basis-- seriously, we seem to have an abnormal number of high-level members who love running lowbie instances. It's kinda funny really... watching the guild's higher-levels all scrambling to be the chosen one who gets to help someone through Deadmines, which once culminated in a Grand Deadmines Race which involved people pairing off and seeing who could run through the fastest. Yes, I do love my guild.

7. I have transferred my tauren hunter to a new realm: The Venture Co. It's an RP-PvP realm. See, I know I often mention how I find PvP realms to be irritating because of all the ganking that goes on. However, I recently got this little dream in my head of being able to say I've leveled to 70 on a PvP server, and being able to experience that and broaden my knowledge that way. But being on a regular PvP server, I really missed the RP, so I've compromised and moved to an RP-PvP server. I'm really happy with my new server so far, though admittedly I've only just transferred-- but it makes me so dorkily giddy to see real roleplay going on, and it's already made my little tauren about ten times more fun to play.

8. Right after the transfer took place and I hopped onto my tauren alt, I noticed something unusual... track humanoids not only shows humanoids on the minimap, but beasts as well! Has anyone else experienced that? I sent a ticket into Blizzard and a GM had me do the whole "disable-all-your-addons" dance, but it didn't change anything so I have been informed that it's being looked into as a bug. In the meantime... it's, um, very handy for contested zones, so it's staying up... *hangs head guiltily*

9. My main is now a Scryer. Aldors had a decent ring, but Scryers had an alchemy recipe, and I'm a bit OCD when it comes to my professions. Gotta catch 'em all!

10. I'd completely forgotten how difficult it is to keep two pets leveled up with you simultaneously, especially since I seem to be perpetually rested these days so I'm always getting double XP while my pets aren't. I fear I may have to soon make a decision and have one pet stay with me to 70 and then come back and grind the other one later. On the other hand, at least leveling a pet that is 7 or 8 levels lower than you shouldn't be quite as bad as leveling one that is several dozen levels lower than you... hopefully that's the case, anyway.

*glances over list*

Hmm. I think I write too much.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Newbie's Guide to Battlegrounds: Part 2

Thank you all for the kind comments on my last post. Here's the conclusion (for now) to the "Newbie's Guide to Battlegrounds" series!:

(Edit: Matticus has reminded me that patch 2.3 brought some changes to AV. For example, you can now win the game through objectives other than killing the boss. I have yet to play the "new" AV but I will see if I can play some games soon and I'll report any major changes. In the meantime, I think that most of my basic guide still stands (except for the part about pulling at the end) and will hopefully be a little helpful to people.)

Alterac Valley
The Basics: This is probably the most complicated to learn and master of all the battlegrounds, and it's hard to condense the point of it into one sentence. Basically you and the other faction start out on opposite ends of a very, very large battleground. Your goal is to get to the other end and kill their leader, which is a very powerful elite NPC. And their goal is to come to your side and kill your leader. Along the way you'll have to deal with a lot of NPCs that want to kill you, not to mention the other players themselves. It's sort of like a big game of chess, only more chaotic.

There are also quite a few other objectives for you to capture or accomplish along the way, which may or may not be skipped. Some of these objectives are more important than others, though-- graveyards, for example. The more graveyards your faction has, the more places you will be able to rez at and the sooner you'll be able to get back into the fight, which will give you a significant edge. In general you will want to have graveyards close to where your offensive team is currently.

General Strategies: It's hard to discuss general strategies for AV because it's so big and "deep". But there are certain things that seem to be "givens" in the typical game. The Horde is going to take Stonehearth Graveyard, and the Alliance is going to take Iceblood. After that, the Horde takes Stormpike, and the Alliance takes Frostwolf. Finally, in the final stretch, Horde takes Stormpike Aid Station, and Alliance takes Frostwolf Relief Hut. People wanting a really fast game and wanting to beat the other faction speed-wise may prefer to skip Stonehearth/Iceblood all together and go straight for Stormpike/Frostwolf. People who are more interested in farming honor will go slower, taking everything along the way and stopping to kill Captains Stonehearth or Galv.

A typical strategy is to "let" the other team capture one of the graveyeards (generally Stonehearth/Iceblood) so they don't start rez'ing way back where they started and make life hard for your offensive team.

For the most part what you will probably want to do here is just follow your offensive team around, especially if you aren't sure of what you're doing. After a while, you'll start to learn your way around. I find it best to keep the mini-map up in the bottom corner of my screen on this one, just so you can see where you are and where everybody else is.

Basically, in a nutshell, what you are probably going to be doing is following the offense from graveyard to graveyard, capturing these graveyards along the way and eventually getting to the boss at the end.

Defense is very important for graveyards. Capturing graveyards is just like capturing the flag in Arathi Basin-- you click on it and wait for it to change colors. However, it takes a much longer time. While you're waiting for the graveyard to cap, it's a very good idea to stick around with at least one other person and provide some defense. I find myself "stuck on defense" a lot because nobody likes to defend, everybody likes to go kill stuff on offense. But it's still very important. If you're defending a graveyard do the same strategy you do elsewhere when you're defending-- tracking, flare, traps. Do take note that you will probably see members of the opposing faction rushing by you on occasion; often they don't want to stop and fight you, but want to catch up with their offense. In that case, use your judgment on whether you want to attack them or not, and keep in mind that they might be trying to distract you to get a stealthie in.

Once the graveyard caps, a bunch of friendly NPCs will show up who will guard your graveyard for you. Generally that means you can go run and catch up to the offense now. You can also keep defending the graveyard if you like, but the NPCs will usually do an okay job of defending and, most of the time, will at least keep the graveyard safe until your team caps the next one.

Eventually, after taking a few graveyards, you're going to get to the big "bad guy" at the end. It's important to take the graveyard that is there-- either Frostwolf Relief Hut, or Stormpike Aid Station, depending on if you're Alliance or Horde. Because the boss is probably going to kill everybody and the trick is to rez at that graveyard that is right there and run back in and keep attacking him, while people are still on him.

Don't go in the building right away, wait for a decent offensive team to have been built up and then let somebody else (someone usually volunteers, so I let them) pull out some of the NPCs that are in there with the boss. These NPCs can be very powerful and some of them have really vicious AoE attacks. (This is one of the parts where I often find my poor pet is dead; Avoidance Rank 2 helps immeasurably here, as does keeping a Mend Pet up if he's fighting somebody really hard. Oh, and make sure he has growl off. If he pulls aggro and nobody else gives him heals, he's probably a goner.)

Note: If you are Alliance, some of the NPCs here are elite wolves. You will often hear it repeated "DON'T LOOT THE DOGS!", meaning the wolves. It is said that if you loot the wolves, they will respawn and you'll have to fight them again. I have no idea if this is really true or not, since I've heard people say different things on this subject, but personally I like to err on the side of caution and leave the wolves alone. (You really shouldn't be looting in the middle of the fight anyway, but I digress! =P)

Once all these NPCs and any defenders are taken care of (it might take a while and you might die a couple times-- that's expected, so don't worry about it), and preferably once the relief hut/aid station is cap'd, somebody will usually give the call: "All in!" or a similar variant. This means it's time to kill the boss. Now the most important part, once you are in the building trying to down the boss, is to not run out of the building, ever. If you run out of the building and the boss follows you out, he will reset to full health. So if he's on you and your feign death cooldown is up, just let yourself die, you will rez nearby (hopefully your team has the closest graveyard!) and be able to run back into the fight really quickly.

The boss fight is just like the boss of a dungeon, you will need tanks and healers and DPS. So it's very crucial that you have adequate tanks and healers here, because without them the DPS can't happen, at least not very well. Keep in mind that this guy has really horrible AoE attacks (even worse than the previous NPCs) and your pet is probably going to die even if he doesn't have aggro. Being a BM hunter, I typically use Beastial Wrath first thing so I can get that overwith before my pet falls and then I can't use it anymore. After your pet dies just keep on DPS'ing as best you can. You will probably pull aggro at some point, since you're a hunter and hunters are aggro magnets. ;) In that case, run to the nearest tank and feign death; if it resists or your feign death is on cooldown, then as I mentioned before, stay where you are, take one for the team, rez with your pet and run back in.

Basically during this fight the goal is to whittle down his health bit by bit and keep at least some people on him at all times, because chances are a lot of people are going to be dying and making the run back in, and you don't want him to "reset", which he will do if he kills everybody. Also, often (but not always) by this time, the other team is also at your own boss so there's sort of a rush to see who can down the boss first. With any luck, your team will be first, and you'll have won your first AV!

Your Role as a Hunter
: If you find yourself on defense then once again you will be very prepared for it, just as you will be in other battlegrounds, thanks to your traps and tracking and flare. If you're on offense then just use your Blizzard-given talents to DPS the enemy down. Preferably you should have growl turned off on your pet throughout most of this battleground but if you find yourself needing to take down an NPC (and the NPC isn't too hard for you) then hit the growl button or use Intimidation and do like you would any other mob.

A lot of this battleground just has to do with huge battles-- masses of Alliance and Horde just rushing at each other. If one side really has a numbers advantage then it will show, but otherwise it can really go either way. Put Hunters' Mark on rogues, use Scare Beast on druids, Wing Clip warriors, and all in all just try to put all your hunter-abilities to good use.

If you see a big mass of the other team coming for you, stop and take a look around and make sure you aren't alone. You don't want it to be all of them vs. just you, or you and one or two other people. If you have no chance there's no shame in backing up for a bit and waiting for the rest of your team. Putting yourself in the front lines is generally not a good idea, try to stay sort of back-- you are a hunter, after all. If there are casters or other hunters standing on high ground, shoot them back, because you're one of the few classes that can do so... save the poor melee'ers the work of having to climb up after them.

And that's AV in a nutshell! There is a lot more to it actually; there are quests you can do in AV and there is a way to summon a big elemental to fight for your team, but if you are just starting out then you shouldn't have to worry about those things for now; just get the basics down.

The rewards of doing Battlegrounds:
Doing battlegrounds will earn you both honor (for kills, etc.) as well as marks (for victories. A loss gets you one mark, and a win gets you three.) Honor and marks can be used to buy things in the Champion's Hall or Hall of Legends, or outside of the battleground's instance portal. Some of the things you can buy include PvP-oriented gear, epic mounts, and various other handy things such as the Insignia of the Alliance/Horde, a trinket which you can pop to get you out of Fear, Frost Nova, or anything else that hinders your movement. Most of the stuff is for level 70s, but you can find great things if you are a lower-level character as well.

Finally, doing a lot of PvP will make you a better player, in my opinion. You will learn how to be more effective with your class in certain situations that you wouldn't come across in PvE, and you will quicken your reflexes as well. PvP and battlegrounds are a very different game than just PvE, and it can be very fun aside from teaching you more about the game.

And I think that just about does it for my Battlegrounds guides for now! I have yet to play the fourth and (for now) final battleground, Eye of the Storm, but once I start playing that one I shall return with a Part 3 of my guide. These guides were obviously not meant to be an authority on battlegrounds and you really have to do a lot of playing to learn. But I hope that they at least have given beginners a good idea on how to start and what to do, so they aren't completely lost when they enter the battlegrounds for the first time, as I was.

So until next time, get out there and do some battlegrounds, soldier! =D /salute

And as always... questions, comments? Lemme know and I'll do the best I can to answer them!

(Back to Part 1)

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Newbie's Guide to Battlegrounds: Part 1

At the request of one of my readers who wanted to know some basics on battlegrounds, here is the first part of what I hope to be a couple of posts on this subject. I certainly make no claims to be a battlegrounds expert by any means, but I've played quite a few and I put together a guide that I sort of wish I'd had when I was starting out.

Warsong Gulch:
The Basics: Capture-the-flag. Horde and Alliance each have a base, and you have to run into the enemy's base, grab their flag, and bring it back to your own (with your own flag still intact.) Capture the flag three times to win a match.

General Strategies: This varies. Different people have different ideas. Some people like to leave a couple people on defense, others like to group up and rush en masse to the other base. After you have played the game a bit, you will sort of get an idea for what types of things are common, where the typical hiding places are, that sort of thing. Stealthed classes, for example, like to hang out in your base and capture your flag when you least expect it (like five seconds after the flag has been returned to your base). Ranged classes or casters will get onto the roof and shoot you; fortunately we hunters can usually shoot back. *grin*

Your Role as a Hunter: Again, this will vary. But I think that hunters make very good members of the defensive team. You have freezing traps to lay down in front of the flag (if you're Alliance, the blue trap sort of blends in with the blue flag, so it works out awesomely), you have Track Humanoids so you can see who's coming and announce it to the team, and you have Concussive Shot and Wing Clip to slow the enemy down. You also have Hunter's Mark, which you can pop onto whoever has your flag, so your entire team can see that person on the minimap. If you are a night elf, you can hide your pet in the corner behind a wall (or have him use prowl), and then shadowmeld yourself, so you can catch any intruders by surprise.

Hunters also make good offense and are good flag-capturers, largely in part to Aspect of the Cheetah, since when you have the flag you cannot mount. Aspect of the Beast can also be useful so their own hunters (and druids) won't see you coming! Again, crowd control really shines here (it's good for essentially this whole battleground), if you're being chased just throw down a freezing or frost trap or fire off a Concussive Shot, then turn on Aspect of the Cheetah and make a break for your base. Keep Track Humanoids/Track Hidden on (pesky rogues!) so you don't inadvertently run into any members of the opposing faction on your way there.

My honest opinion is that druids often make the best flag-runners, as they can stealth in and then travel-form out. They can also heal if they have to. But really, anybody can do it, and hunters are very capable of it.

Capturing the Flag!: To capture the flag you run right up to your own flag and it "caps" automatically. Do remember that if your own flag is AWOL, you can't capture the enemy one. In that case your best bet is to find a spot to hide, hopefully with some people guarding you, while the rest of your team goes out and tries to hunt down your flag.

No matter what you are doing, as a hunter, be sure that you are aware of your surroundings and that you are able to broadcast these to the team. If you are on defense, use Flare a lot to check for rogues. If you look on your minimap and see people coming to the base, announce it: "[number of people] inc", (where "inc" stands for "incoming"), or something along those lines. If you see the flag carrier on your minimap, click on them so it will do that little circle thing that shows the other people in your party where they are.

Arathi Basin:
The Basics: King of the Hill. There are five areas on the field for you to capture (they are captured by clicking on a flag, and waiting a bit for it to change colors). If you capture one, your faction starts earning resources. The more you have captured, the faster you earn resources (and if you manage to capture all five, you earn resources at a ridiculous rate and you've pretty much won.) The first faction to 2000 resources wins.

General Strategies: Again, like Warsong Gulch, there are people who like to group up and steamroll all the flags one at a time. Typically I think it's best to leave a few people at each flag for defense.

If you get into this battleground for the first or second time and don't know what's going on, defense is almost always appreciated. Plant yourself down by a flag, preferably with a teammate or two, rotate between Track Humanoids, Track Hidden, and Track Beasts (for those druids), pop a Flare every so often, and be on the lookout for the other team.

Your Role as a Hunter: As with Warsong Gulch, hunters will be good for defense for all the same reasons. Although in this battleground, I think it's less about slowing the enemy down as it is about actually fighting them and beating them. The other team will try and capture your flag that you're guarding, but because it's a static flag-- it doesn't move-- they can capture it, and then if you manage to kill them afterwards, you can recapture it very quickly. So there's not the whole run-in-run-out thing that goes on with WSG.

You will be good for offense because you can shoot people from far away. It's what we're for, afterall! =P Eagle Eye is another great tool here, if you're at some high ground and want to see if, say, there are people at Blacksmith (the middle area of the map), use Eagle Eye on it and then report to your team what you see.

General PvP: The lower level battlegrounds... the 10-19 bracket and the 20-29 bracket, in particular... will be full of twinks, or players who spend hundreds of gold to deck themselves out in the best possible gear for their bracket. If the other team has a lot of twinks and you are just wearing normal questing gear, be prepared to spend a lot of time in the graveyard, waiting to rez. I'm not saying you'll be 100% useless against a twink, but... you won't have an easy time.

A really good healer can often make or break the game. I always, always try to compliment good healers when they show up, because they seem to be rare and I want them to know that their skills are appreciated.

Stamina is good. Honestly I don't have dedicated PvP gear (not right now, anyway), but if you want to get some, be sure it has lots of stamina. You will live longer, and thus do damage for a longer amount of time.

Spec is a matter of personal preference. Marks/Surv seems to be the perennial PvP favorite, and for good reason; there are all sorts of helpful PvP talents in those trees. Furthermore, if your pet dies (this seems to happen the most often in AV) you can still do a lot of damage. But a really good BM hunter is a truly frightening and awe-inspiring sight, and as my brother is fond of saying, "There's nothing scarier in battlegrounds than a Beast Mastery hunter." I have seen BM hunters just devour the rest of the field like nobody's business. However, it's a lot harder to be BM in PvP than it is in PvE, because you have to spend a lot of time watching your pet and keeping it alive. Anyways, I think a lot of dedicated PvPers choose to spec MM/SV instead, and that can be a very deadly combo.

What you do with your pet is another matter of personal preference, personally I like to keep my pet on passive in battlegrounds (most of the time) because he has a tendency to disappear otherwise-- chasing somebody across the field.

While we're on the subject of pets-- in battlegrounds, if your pet dies and you die later, you will both be rez'd together at the graveyard, with your pet at full happiness. Use your judgment on whether you want to self-rez your pet yourself, or wait until the next time you die. I find myself self-rez'ing my pet more often in AV, which I didn't discuss in this particular post-- a lot of times your "lifespan" is a lot shorter in the other battlegrounds.

Alright, that does it for now! I have begun writing my Alterac Valley guide but as it's the "deepest" of the battlegrounds so far, it's certainly shaping up to be a very long article, so I'm going to post it separately.

These guides are not supposed to be all-inclusive but hopefully they have just provided a brief overview to BG newcomers about what to expect and what they can do to help out their team. Enjoy, and I'll see you next time for our next installment!

(On to Part 2)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Answering Questions (Mostly of the Linux Persuasion)

I got a couple positive responses to my Linux guide (thank you for the shout-outs, Lassirra and Kestrel!) as well as a couple questions that I would like to address:

Think it's possible to dual boot a Linux distro onto a macbook? Although I haven't had experience with this, a google of "dual boot linux macbook" brought up some promising looking links and Pelides mentioned this: "With Paralells installed on an Intel Mac, you could run Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD and any other X86 operating system within the Mac OS X environment. You could theoretically run WoW under WINE in Linux through Paralells on your Mac. You'd be working about 2 virtualizations deep at that point, but it should work." So I'd say the answer is a yes!

Just for fun, I'm going to say the screenshot used in your wallpaper is a character overflying Mulgore, north side somewhere. Hehe, that particular wallpaper is available here and yes, I'm going to say it's Mulgore too. (I actually find myself wanting to say they're headed southwest through Mulgore from the direction of the Barrens, but that's probably just me being a geek, as usual.)

Did you use the RPM based Wine or did you get Cedega?
Because I use a Debian-based distro I do not use RPM files which are for Red Hat based distros. To install Wine I would either use a Deb file, compile the thing from source, or do it in the terminal via a sudo aptitude install wine. As for Cedega... a lot of people swear by it and say it works a lot better than Wine. I prefer to use Wine for two reasons: one is that it simply works for me, so why fix it if it ain't broken ;P and secondly because it is one of the few Linux programs I have run into that you have to pay for, and I would rather keep my stuff as "free" as I can. But if you are having issues getting Wine to work and you really want to play games on Linux, then Cedega might be worth a shot, and your money.

"World of Warcraft is unable to start 3D acceleration." *sad panda* Sucks, because other than that, it feels like I'm SO. CLOSE. I got that same message when I tried to install WoW (via Wine) on my laptop. Now I didn't spend too long trying to figure this one out because firstly I don't know if my laptop can even adequately run WoW =P And secondly because I've got it working fine on my desktop. But from my quick research I was able to determine that it is possibly a driver problem. You may want to try seeing if you need to update your video drivers at all. (This would also be a good place to mention that as far as Linux is concerned, Nvidia is the clear winner over ATI.) Otherwise I would recommend asking around for help on the many Linux forums out there; if you use a 'buntu then Ubuntu Forums is an invaluable resource.

Alrighty, that does it for now, as far as Linux is concerned. Please let me know if you have any more questions or comments, I love getting them! Also, I want to mention something. I seem to have inspired some people to try installing Linux or even just consider it. I think it's great that a lot of people want to try it out and that I have inspired some people that way, but I also want to remind the adventurous reader that WoW and Wine are not a foolproof combination and that while there are a lot of people like me who have managed to get it working with little problems, there are also a lot of people who haven't got it working at all, for whatever reasons. There is truly a lot of luck involved in what kind of hardware you've got and how Wine reacts to it, and things like that. But don't let that deter you from giving it a try if you want! You will gain a deep satisfaction for "getting it working" if you are successful, and of course you will be using a very fun new operating system ;) But I wanted to lay the cautionary note out there too. Back up your stuff, and be prepared to revert back to your previous operating system if it doesn't work out right.

Lastly, I got this question in my previous post...

"More information on BG's would be cool, it sounds like you enjoy them and spend quite a bit of time there. I have not found or read much information about them but they sound interesting. Any guidance you can provide would be appreciated."

Firstly thank you very much, TazButane, for your faith in my PvP abilities, which are in my opinion still rather meager. Your question is a rather "large" and open-ended one as opposed to a more specific one, and as such I will probably have to think on it for a bit and see if I can come up with a good satisfying post for you. So stay tuned =)

Patch 2.3 next week! My alts are quivering with excitement.

Monday, November 5, 2007

You know you're a Beast Mastery Hunter when...'re fourth in the healing charts at the end of an AV match:

Ahead of druids, pallies, shammies and priests. I found it rather amusing, but I guess that's what comes from spamming the Mend Pet button!

This particular AV match was a very good one, too. Highlights included a rogue and I taking on and successfully capturing Frostwolf Graveyard by ourselves (thanks to sap, some cleverly placed traps, and Tux amazingly managing to tank the 61 elite for a very long time), a very close race from both factions to killing the final boss, and my personal favorite part, ding'ing 61 mid-game in the 51-60 bracket (you'll notice my level in the screenshot, heehee).

It's moments like those when I really love battlegrounds.

I was asked a couple questions regarding Linux (and my desktop wallpaper too, haha) and I will be addressing those in my next post. Thank you giving me the questions and the opportunity to answer them, and do feel free to keep asking them!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Linux and WoW - a Q&A

Mirsh recently wrote up a little Linux guide over at his blog and since Linux is my operating system of choice, I figured it would be good for me to write some stuff about it as well.

As you may or may not be aware, I play WoW exclusively on Linux. I have never logged into any of my characters on a Windows or Mac machine; they have all been leveled exclusively on an unsupported operating system. It takes both some work and some luck to get WoW running well on Linux-- fortunately I was willing to do the work and I had luck on my side.

So let's begin:

What is Linux?: Linux is a free, open-source operating system based on UNIX. By free and open-source, I mean that everybody can use it and its components for free, and you can also modify them to fit your liking if you so wish.

Why do you use Linux?: Many reasons. For starters I wanted to support the free/open-source software movement because I agree with much of the philosophy. Secondly, I wanted to learn more about computers, and let me tell you, I have never learned more about computers in my life than I have since I installed Linux about a year ago. Oh, and of course, the "free" bit is a huge plus. I got sick of having to call Microsoft and explain to them why I was installing their software again after a reinstall, I got sick of the way certain music formats that I downloaded would only play on certain media players and then on certain mp3 players, and I got sick of having to pay to use so much software. Linux is free to install as many times as you want, supports free and open music formats, and has all sorts of good quality software completely for free. I'm all over that.

How come more people don't use Linux, then?: Although Linux is pretty big in the server market, I believe the current desktop Linux usage is 1.3% or something, possibly less. There are a few things holding this back, I think... one is that it's very hard to find computers with Linux pre-installed on them, whereas you can easily buy computers with either Windows or Apple software installed on them. (Note: Dell very recently started marketing computers with Linux, so this is changing.) Secondly, a lot of people see Linux as being difficult to use and firmly in the realm of computer geeks. I think that while this used to be so, this is changing as well. The most difficult part of using Linux in my experience has been the fact that because so few people use it, not a lot of things are officially supported for it. So getting stuff like your scanner, your printer, etc. to work can take some doing. But even then if I can do it, I think most people can. =P

The Linux geek readers want to know... what distro do you use?: Kubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake, currently. It is the only OS installed on both my desktop and my laptop computers. I originally was going to dual-boot with Windows but it messed up somewhere along the way, so I said "screw it" and went completely Linux. I haven't looked back. ;)

Now on to everybody's favorite MMO...

WoW isn't officially supported on Linux, correct?: That is correct. WoW is supported on Windows and Mac. If we Linux users want to play WoW, we have to install some other software to help us. I should also mention here that the Blizzard response to Linux-WoWers seems to be unofficially positive; that is to say, people occasionally post "Linux and WoW" guides on the forums and "Blue" will respond with stuff like "great guide" and "thanks for helping the Linux users".

But didn't some guy get his account banned for playing on Linux?: From what I have been able to gather, he was also using a unique keyboard and that is what got him banned. There have been stories of a "mass banning" of Linux players, but this later turned out to be a mistake and Blizzard apologized to everybody and gave their accounts back.

Okay... so what software do you have to install to use WoW?: There are different programs you can use, but I myself use Wine. From the Wine website: "Wine is an Open Source implementation of the Windows API on top of X, OpenGL , and Unix. Think of Wine as a compatibility layer for running Windows programs. Wine does not require Microsoft Windows, as it is a completely free alternative implementation of the Windows API consisting of 100% non-Microsoft code, however Wine can optionally use native Windows DLLs if they are available."

How do you get it set up?: At its core, the idea is that you install Wine, and then install Windows software through Wine and it will run for you. WoW requires some special tweaks and configuration, and I should also mention here that it seems to be very hardware-dependent: some people can't get WoW working at all and for others it runs flawlessly.

I followed this guide basically to the letter.

Some people have framerate issues which can often be solved by trying the methods offered here.

Any further questions can be posed in this thread on Ubuntu Forums and answered by very helpful people.

(Note: the above guides are tailored to Debian-based distros such as Ubuntu. Directions will be slightly different on certain other distros, but still follow the same basic idea.)

Do you encounter any problems while playing WoW in Linux?: For the most part, my WoW experience has been a very smooth and enjoyable one. We have to thank the Mac people here really; Mac and Linux are both built off of the same UNIX core so because WoW includes components that help it run on a Mac, we can also run it with very little problems in Linux.

Occasionally I have run into quirks but these have inevitably ended up being Blizzard problems or occasionally Wine problems.

An example of a "Blizzard problem" would be the recent "voice chat patch" where sound was suddenly messed up for a lot of people, myself included, not just Linux users. Blizzard released a mini-patch not long afterwards that fixed this problem.

An example of a "Wine problem" would be a recent Wine update that caused the game to crash on exit. This was worked around either by downgrading your Wine version or by alt+tab'ing out of the game and closing it via a script. This bug has been fixed in newer Wine updates.

Is there anything about WoW that flat-out doesn't work in Linux?: At the moment I can't really think of anything. Voice chat still has some issues but I know of some people who have gotten it to work. You used to not be able to change video settings in the game because it would crash, but Wine has fixed that since then.

There is/was (not sure if it's still there) a bug that caused the game to lose sound when you alt+tab'd if you were playing fullscreen. This was easily worked around by setting the game to "Windowed Mode" and then maximizing it.

Okay, but the game works better natively in Windows/Mac than it does in Linux, right?: Maybe it does, but not to a discernable degree for me. People who are into having THE ULTIMATE BEST FRAMERATE POSSIBLE may very well be better off sticking to playing the game natively. But the game still seems to run at about 50-70 frames per second for me, dipping lower in the cities of course, and this is very, very playable. The only time I have played WoW on Windows was for a few minutes when my sister was playing on her computer and she asked me to take over for a bit. So I did, and I really noticed no difference in graphics quality or framerate between WoW on Windows and WoW on Linux. But then again, I was only playing for a few minutes.

Any lag you experience will be lag you would have experienced on Windows anyway. My boyfriend plays on Windows and he actually experiences far more lag and slowdown than I do. I am inevitably always the first person to get out of the new-continent-loading-screens, and my game does not slow down at all when I alt+tab to check WoWhead or Thottbot, whereas it does for him. =P

And you named your pet after the Linux mascot as a tribute?: Yes.

Wow, you are a geek. And awesome.: Why, thank you, on both counts =D

Alrighty, that does it. Hopefully I covered a lot of frequently asked questions there or gave you a general idea of what it takes to run WoW on Linux. Also, hopefully I didn't bore you, I realize this was a rather long post.

Please, if you have any comments or questions, ask away! If I get a lot of them I might make a "part two" to this series with actual reader questions, rather than ones I made up on the spot.

And here is a rather old screenshot of me playing WoW on Linux. Normally I play fullscreen, but this screenshot was taken to show that I am, in fact, playing on Linux (or at least a KDE-based UI.):

The game runs just as smoothly windowed as it does full-screen. And as you can see, add-ons work just fine in Linux. I believe there's even a Linux version of the Ace2 updater, though I haven't looked into that yet.

Happy questing, and as always, thank you for reading!

Friday, November 2, 2007

I've been recruited...

...well, that's what the people in Stormwind are saying, anyway:

Ah, it felt good to finally see my name up there. I remember being level six, having just arrived in Stormwind for the very first time after a long and harrowing journey through places like the Wetlands where level ?? crocolisks wanted to eat me for dinner. There I was, completely lost, standing around, and these two people by the tree were recruiting the Alliance's bravest heroes. That's awesome, I thought, I wanna be a recruited like that someday. And now... here I am! =D

One thing I have been wondering for a while, though, is exactly what determines who is mentioned in this little dialogue and who isn't? I know it's people who walk by, but only higher-level people. I started /who'ing everybody it mentioned to see if I could figure it out. At first I thought I had it narrowed down to Level 58 and higher, "Outlands levels", but no, I've seen a few level 56 and 57 people mentioned. I thought maybe it was dependent on PvP kills, but nope, my boyfriend, who never PvPs, has now been "recruited" as well. Hmm. Anybody have any ideas?

Anyways, currently I have a huge WoW patch downloading-- a whopping 222 megabytes, and it tells me it's patch 2.3. I don't think it's actual "patch time" yet, but I do think it must be getting closer if we're downloading it or parts of it. I've been thinking I should make a post on "my thoughts on 2.3" but I keep forgetting, and a lot of other blogs have gone through them already. =P I will mention that the part I am probably the most excited for is actually the new tracking thing, where we can choose what we're tracking from the mini-map and I'll finally be able to free up something like ten action bar slots. Haha, yep, the dead-zone is going away and leveling is getting faster and yet I get excited about action bar slots. I'm kind of a dork, but oh well.

Regarding the leveling thing, I must say that while it's great for my inner alt-oholic, I sort of wonder about new players. Is the leveling going to be a little too fast for them? Will new players still have time to learn and practice the mechanics of the game and of their class if they're leveling so fast? I think about myself and the way I just hit level 60 "the traditional way", and I wonder if I would have learned so much and had as much practice as I needed if the leveling had gone faster like it will in the new patch. I think I'm glad I hit 60 before the new patch. I know I needed all the practice I could get before Outlands.

I guess we'll have to wait and see how it goes, though! I'm excited to give my alts some more love.