Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Alt Project: Druid: Early Impressions

Yesterday I rolled a tauren druid on The Venture Co., named Songlark (the actual naming process took about 45 minutes, because I'm a dork).

In character, she's bright and cheerful and more outgoing than the hunter Lunapike.

Out of character she is my highest-level druid in WoW, at level 7.

Rejuvenation is one of my favorite things ever. It's like a Mend Pet, only for yourself. As such, my current typical super-intense and clearly very experienced *cough* druid strategy goes something like this:

Pull with a Wrath or two. Rejuvenation. Moonfire. Moonfire again. ...hit with stick until my mana comes back. Rejuvenation, Moonfire, Moonfire, hitting with stick...
Like that. Sometimes I'll throw in a Healing Touch for good measure.

I dig it. I'm like a mage that can heal. Except I go OOM a lot faster than my mage does (and that's saying a lot). But that's because my mage has a bunch of Intellect gear and this druid, well, doesn't yet.

So I got about halfway through level 7 and was having this great fun time and I was aiming for level 10 before the night was out, and then suddenly I felt it.


"Piiiike... come back to us... you know you want to..."

"No! I'm leveling a druid!!"

"Piiiiiiike... we have cookies... and Kibler's Bits..."


I logged out of Songlark and logged into Tawyn and spent the next two hours in Alterac Valley pewpew'ing stuff.


It's a drug, I tell ya.

Currently I'm waffling over whether I should get the druid to 10 today or give another class a whirl. I suppose I'll think it over while I'm at work.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Few Final Words Before The Alt Project Kick-Off

First of all I want to say thanks to everybody for your input on my previous post regarding "The Alt Project". I read all your ideas and comments and took everything into consideration. I wanted to post a few things though, to perhaps set peoples' minds at ease:

1.) I am well aware of the fact that level 20 is not going to give me a sufficient overview of a class. The main goal here is to actually get some non-hunter classes higher than level 10 and get just a very, very basic, minimal idea of other classes. After The Alt Project is done, there might be an Alt Project II, where I try to get to level 30 or 40. And then maybe an Alt Project III. Etc. But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself when I haven't started yet. Level 20 is an attainable and tangible goal that I can work on without feeling burnt out. And getting to level 20 on a class is better than not getting there at all. That's why the initial goal is set at 20. I do realize this puts some of the slower-to-ignite classes (such as druid) at a disadvantage. But the whole point is to take things slowly and then go from there. I don't want to set my sights too high at first.

I myself would say that somebody who played a hunter to level 20 should (hopefully) at least have a basic idea of the class mechanics. Oh it's true they don't get Feign Death or improved traps or Steady Shot or Scattershot/Intimidation or a lot of other very important stuff yet... but they will have spent ten levels with a pet and thus should have the very basic, "1+1" idea (or what I often like to call "Hunter 101") down . That to me is the important part.

2.) Regarding specs: the reason why I want to spec into what sounds the most unusual or fun rather than what most people swear by, is because that is how I did my hunter and I am very glad that I did it that way. I was deep enough into Marksman for Silencing Shot before I respec'd BM. I am so, so glad I had that experience as a Marksman hunter. It really helped me a lot in regards to my playing experience I think. Now granted, hunters are maybe unusual; all three specs are considered to be fairly solid specs if you know what you are doing. And admittedly the gear-stat focus for each of the three hunter trees, is not nearly as varied as the three trees on a druid or on a shaman. But the point is, I know hunters who would never dream of leaving the Marksman tree or the Survival tree, not even for the much-hailed DPS machine that is 41/20/0. Just as I know druids who would never be anything but a Moonkin. And mages who will never be anything but Arcane. That is why I want to spec what initially "sounds fun". If it turns out that it's not fun, or it's too gear-dependent, then no big deal-- it's super easy to respec to something cookie-cutter. I just want to have that experimentation option open at first.

3.) "Aspect of the Alt" is the best name ever. Thanks Lazz!

4.) Most of the characters are already rolled, on my main server (Silver Hand) for the most part. I imagine I might make a few characters on The Venture Co. as well. While trying out other servers might be fun I think I'd like to stay "home" for now, while I'm trying things out.

Once again thanks for all the comments and suggestions and constructive criticism. I really appreciate all of it and please do keep them coming =) Oh, and this blog will always be a hunter blog first and foremost, even if I do start sharing some alt stories every now and again. With Elune as my witness, the day another class takes over hunter as my favorite class, is the day I kiss a murloc.

...Murky doesn't count. Because he's adorable.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to put my laundry in the washing machine and then roll a druid!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Alt Project

A lot of my guildies and the people I normally instance with haven't been on WoW quite so much for various legitimate and very understandable reasons, such as school, work, and just-plain-needing-a-break. This has inspired me to sort of "stable" Tawyn for the time being; I haven't been logging into her quite as much so she can take a little break too. Playing one character for a while does make me kind of antsy, anyway.

But I like WoW.

So I have decided to officially jumpstart an idea that has been running around in my brain for a little while now: The Alt Project.

Basically, I want to get at least one character of every class, at least to level 20.

"But Pike, you said you could only play hunters!" Oh that's true, I won't deny it. That's why all my non-hunter alts have eventually wound up going from the "alt" pile to the "collecting-dust" pile. But I dunno, I've been thinking lately that it's kind of sad how little I know about the other classes. I could probably tell you all the hunter talents backwards and forwards and play my hunter with my eyes closed (actually, once I did kill a mob with my eyes closed; it was strangely relaxing to simply listen and time my shots based on the sounds they made... but I digress *coughs*).

But I couldn't begin to tell you squat about any of the other classes. I maybe know a little bit about warlocks because my boyfriend is one, and I know about a few mysterious moves that other classes have (like the mythical "Last Stand" that our tank will announce he's using in Ventrilo, usually when things aren't going so well), but I couldn't tell you how to properly play or spec any other class but hunter.

And on top of that, I can't tell you how to defeat any other class in PvP, except for what I've learned from experience.

This is where The Alt Project comes into play. If I learn to play the other classes, even just a little bit... it will expand my knowledge and my play experience, and maybe help me out a little in PvP situations.

So here are the rules:

1.) Get one of each class to at least level 20
2.) It's okay to use existing characters unless they haven't really been touched in a while
3.) Spec the way that sounds the most fun, hopefully to help keep the "I-must-go-back-to-my-hunters-NOW" bug at bay.
4.) It's okay to jump between characters (i.e., I don't have to sit down at get one to 20 before I move on to the next one, etc.)

Here's my basic itinerary:


Character:The highest level I've gotten a druid to is level 6, and that was on some random server I don't play on anymore, so I think I'm going to ditch that one and start anew. I am definitely going to be a tauren druid-- don't get me wrong, I really like night elves. But see... ya know how you can really love kittens but not want to breed anymore because there's already too many in the world? That's sorta like me and night elves. So... yeah. Gonna make a hordie druid.
Spec: I'm torn here. Moonkin looks ridiculously fun. Bear tanking is something I'd like to try (I'd like to give tanking a shot in general, and bear-tanking sounds the most appealing so far.) Tree healing sounds fun for similar reasons; namely I want to try healing and the tree looks fun. Kitty actually doesn't appeal to me too much simply because as I've said before, I have a hard time with melee classes. So if you give me a hybrid class I'm going to pick the caster spec over the melee spec. To be honest if I'm just getting to level 20 it's not like I'm going to be able to mess with many forms anyway so it maybe doesn't matter, but I think I'm going to wind up going Balance/Resto.


Character: I happen to have a human mage at level 19. Now, because that's so close to 20 already, I'm going to go above and beyond the call of duty on this character and aim for 25. There was a time when I was actually playing and enjoying this character a lot and I was thinking she would probably be my second level-70, but eventually the Call of the Wild was too much for me and I headed back to my hunters. Still, I'm looking forward to spending some quality time with my mage; and I still maintain that if I'm ever going to get a non-hunter to level 70, this is gonna be the character that does it.
Spec: I really have no idea what I'm doing in terms of a mage spec though I'm sorta basing myself on a "leveling spec" I saw once on WoWWiki or something. I'm going mostly fire. I like blowing things up. And casting the spells that make the peoples fall down.


Character: A blood elf paladin was one of the very first alts I ever made. I actually leveled her to level 16 before I realized that I was going into fits of jealousy anytime that I saw a hunter running by with their pet, breezing through mobs while I was sitting there using these confusing seals and judgments and dying all the time (yes I was a horrible paladin. It was like... my third ever character, okay? =P) So I basically gave up on her. Several months later I decided to give the paladin class another try, inspired primarily by the Tales of the Past III machinima which depicted paladins as being a lot more awesome than I recalled them being the first time I tried one. So I now have a draenei paladin who is currently at level 6, and I think this is the pally I'm going to focus on. I still find the playstyle to be a bit confusing but I'm having a lot more fun this time around.
Spec: "Ret for leveling" has kind of been my way of thinking but at the same time I really do want to give healing a try so Holy is calling to me. I'll have to think this one over a bit.


Character: I have a woefully neglected level 8 undead priest. I say "woefully neglected" because every time I've played this character so far I've had an absolute blast. I dunno why she's so fun, she just is. Not hunter-fun, of course, but "DoT-Smite-Heal-Win" fun. I can't wait to resurrect her (no undead-related pun intended...)
Spec: For a while I was waffling between Holy (so I can try out healing) and Shadow (for easier leveling); at this point I think I'm gonna throw both those ideas out the window and go Discipline. I like the odd specs.


Character: At first I thought this was going to be the class I would have the hardest time with... it's purely a melee DPS class and I simply don't have as much fun with melee as I do with other stuff. However, I have an adorable level 8 gnome rogue who I've been playing on and off lately, and enjoying a lot. Why? Roleplaying. I came up with the best backstory ever for this guy. How can you not love a gnome whose only wish is to be a Draenei? I took him to the Draenei starting area and he's doing all his questing there; a bit hard because Draenei can't be rogues so he's gotta run to Darnassus to hit up the trainer, but it's oh so fun. I love this character, melee or not.
Spec: I've no idea. Probably combat because I've heard it's easy to level. But I'm probably going to put at least a few points in Subtlety, because the whole sneaking-around thing is one of the things I like best about this class so far.


Character: I have a draenei shaman who started out as a bank character, wound up getting power-leveled to 9 in a bored afternoon, and then promptly turned back into the bank character. I can't decide if I want to pick this character up again or make a fresh start on a new character. Still thinkin' about that one.
Spec: Elemental. Casting ftw.


Character: I believe I will be picking up my long-neglected level 5 gnome warlock for this one. I recall getting frustrated and giving up early with this character because my imp was failing horribly as a stand-in for a hunter pet. On top of that, I wanted to roleplay this character as "evil" and I just have trouble doing that. I think I want to modify her story and personality a little to give her some more quirks and interesting personality traits. She won't be quite so purely evil. That will be more fun.
Spec: I'm totally thinking Demonology. It's the closest to Beast Mastery that you can get!


Character: I'm going to have to make an all-new character for this one I think; I've tried warrior a few times in the past but never gotten very far (7 or 8 is the farthest I think) and those characters are all on servers I don't play on anymore. I'm not sure what faction or race the new warrior is gonna be yet, though.
Spec: I have a lot of respect for tanks and I don't know if I could ever play one properly; still, I find myself intrigued and I'd love to give Prot a try. But I think that might be rather difficult to level. In which case I'd probably go Arms or Fury or whatever the "good" warrior leveling spec is (I have no idea.)

Well, there ya have it. Can she do it? Can her little huntery heart manage playing *gasp* other classes?

We're about to find out!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Everybody say "Grats!"

So it's a little hard to see, but...

That would be my Tux, dinging 70.

Lemme tell you a little bit about Tux.

He was the very first pet I ever tamed (aside from the "taming quest pets") on the very first hunter I ever rolled-- heck, the very first character I ever rolled period.

For some strange reason, he stuck by me even though he was starving and unhappy and rebellious for a little while because I had no food with which to feed him.

He stuck by me even though he couldn't hold aggro worth a darn because I didn't know I was supposed to teach him Growl.

He stuck by me when my strategy was "Hey Tux, let's run around and melee things together!"

He was the pet that I put on aggressive in Deadmines, zipping around attacking everything and pulling everything because the two of us didn't know any better. Or perhaps he did and was just too polite to tell me.

He followed me everywhere. In Westfall. In Redridge. In Darkshore. In Wetlands. Actually in Wetlands I tamed a raptor and Tux spent a good few levels in the stable, but for some reason he still liked me when I eventually pulled him back out.

Desolace. Stranglethorn Vale. Arathi Highlands. Swamp of Sorrows. Tanaris. Hinterlands. Felwood. Un'goro Crater. Winterspring. I went all over Azeroth and back again and the whole time there was a little owl following me.

It was around this time that I realized I had a little problem; namely, Tux's birdlike nature and his big wings were annoying people that I grouped with. So out of courtesy I tamed my teal kitty, Locke. Now, I love Locke to death. And Locke was my first pet to hit 70 because he gets to go to all the instances.

But Locke is no Tux.

Tux is just a normal ol' gray owl, a Strigid Hunter to be precise. He's not one of those fancy white owls or black owls or super-shiny red-and-purple owls. Nope, he is just a plain gray bird from the night elf starting zone.

...and that is why I wouldn't trade him for anything. We've experienced the entire game together, he and I. We've grown together and learned together and made mistakes together and never once has he complained.

We've come a long way, you and I...

So I guess what I'm trying to say is...


A Question for the Ages Leads to an Informative Post

Way out in Netherstorm, by Area 52, there is a goblin named Dr. Boom. Who or what is he? Well let's see what WoW Wiki has to say:

Dr. Boom is a non-elite quest boss with about 500,000 hitpoints; he does not move or use ranged attacks, making him a popular target for casters and Hunters to test their DPS output, as well as a target for leveling up ranged weapon skill.

So we can see that he is handy for a few things, aside from a quest. He is very handy for leveling your weapon skill (if you are not quite a high enough level for Netherstorm yet, you can always hit up those guys in Blasted Lands that don't die.) And he is handy for ranged DPS classes who want to test their defining role: DPS.

Now, as BRK once said in one of his posts... hunters can't really get the full story because you can't use your pet on Dr. Boom. So even though you can get a good idea of your ranged DPS sans-pet... it's discounting 35% of the story (or however much your pet contributes to your DPS.)

Still, I found myself heading over to Dr. Boom today. Why? Well, initially it was because I have a third use for Dr. Boom.

Namely, he allowed me to answer the age-old question... What happens when Improved Aspect of the Hawk procs, and you use Rapid Fire, Abacus of Violent Odds, and The Beast Within... all at the same time?

Well it doubles my vanilla DPS, that's what:



(Note: I also tested using Bladefist's Breadth in place of the Abacus, since I typically have both equipped. The resulting DPS increase is not quite as much as it is with the Abacus.)

But wait! That's not my total DPS... that's just Tawyn's DPS. I am a hunter, afterall. I have a pet.

Now Tux is only going to be effected by Bestial Wrath and not all the other fun stuff like I am. But still...



So now we have a bunch of numbers showing my DPS and Tux's DPS, before and after using a bunch of buffs/trinkets. Remember, this is all "white" DPS: no special shots, no Kill Commands, no Ferocious Inspiration, no Frenzy for Tux... not even Hunter's Mark. So the actual number in real combat would undoubtably be higher.

So why am I posting all this then? Well I'm not one for hardcore math or theorycrafting. But here's what we can see right off the bat:

1. Unbuffed (except for Aspect of the Hawk), Tux is doing 32% of our vanilla DPS.
2. If we pop The Beast Within, Tux moves up to doing roughly 41% of our vanilla DPS.
3. If I use a bunch of speed-increasing trinkets/procs and The Beast Within, Tux is still doing about 26% of our vanilla DPS.

Obviously this isn't telling us the full story; as I said before the numbers would change as we throw in stuff like Frenzy and Ferocious Inspiration and various special shots and Tux's Claw. Also the numbers would change if I were to pull out my kitty Locke who does slightly more DPS than Tux does. The main thing I am trying to say here is: Your pet is important. If you are a Beast Mastery hunter and your pet dies, your DPS is going to be gimped down to about 70%-- or less-- of what you normally do. Furthermore you will be bringing no more Ferocious Inspiration or Kill Commands to the table.

And even if you pop all of your trinkets/buffs (minus the Beast Within), and double your white DPS, you still will not be able to make up for the loss of your pet.

Now there are times when things happen and losing your pet on some superhard boss fight might be inevitable. In these cases you can only hope he does the best he can, because not using him at all is exactly the same as him being dead. Well, except not as sad. *hugs pets*

But there are things you can do to increase your pet's survivability. Here's a short list:

-Sporeling Snacks.

-Various other stamina buffs or scrolls (I love using scrolls on my pet).

-Spec'ing him with Avoidance Rank 2.

-Spec'ing him with the appropriate resistances for the instance. BRK wrote up a handy list for Karazhan and various five-mans here.

-Keeping a Mend Pet up. Kestrel has a really nifty macro that lets you keep both Mend Pet and Scorpid Sting up at the same time.

-Knowing what you're fighting. You should pay attention to the people who have been here and have done this before. Pay attention to the things they're telling the melee DPS classes. If you're in Mechanar and they say "Rogues, you have to run away when he 'raises his hammer menacingly'", then you need to mentally add "And pet." If you're in Shadow Labs and they say "Melee classes have to run away when Murmur does his Sonic Boom" ...yep, that includes your pet. Watch for what the melee guys are watching for and recall your pet to your side at the appropriate time. Then send him back in when it's safe.

Is it hard to do? Yep. But is it worth it to not only have that extra DPS, but also provide that constantly-ticking Ferocious Inspiration to your party? You betcha!

Happy Huntering, and give your pet a pat for being a good boy (or girl).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Why I'm Still Here

So firstly I just want to say that I am probably more amused than I should be at the fact that Google Reader is recommending me to myself:

Anyways, on to the meat of this post.

First we had Someone and now just today Laser Chicken, two great WoW bloggers who have decided it's time to quit playing the game and move on with their lives . While it's sad to see them go, I'm also glad that they're doing what makes them happiest, and on top of that... it's really just the nature of our hobby. As I've said in a few different comments now... I'm going to quit playing someday too. It's not so much a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". All the games I have ever been really obsessed with, I have eventually stopped playing (or slowed down enough that it can be considered "over"; with WoW you get more finality than with other games because you actually have to cancel your account and then you can't play again until you re-subscribe.)

Lemme tell you a little story. Before I played WoW I played Neopets. A browser-based cross between virtual pets and an MMO. Now despite this game's reputation as being just another kiddie site, let me assure you this is a very deep site with legions of adult fans. It has an economy the intricacies of which I'm sure are more in-depth than WoW's. It has an astonishing amount of stuff to do and an astonishing number of goals to accomplish, goals which can often take months-- or more-- to reach.

I played this game every day throughout the day (being a browser-based game, you could multitask and play it and do other things at the same time, which was nice) for probably about a year and a half or two years or so. What really got me hooked was the money-making aspect. There are a few different ways to earn Neopoints and I earned mine through restocking; refreshing a shop page every few minutes, buying up all the items and then reselling them for more in my shop. I got good at this. I could tell you what the best deals were to resell. I could tell you what the rare ones were that you could nab. The economy was changing constantly and I had to deal with that and I loved the challenge.

This was all really fun at first. I had one goal I was working towards: I wanted the rarest most expensive Neopet in the game. It would cost about 2.5million Neopoints.

It took me a year.

One year of restocking. One year of playing games. One year of scrounging up every last Neopoint I could get my hands on. And then I did it: I got him. The rare dragon-like Draik. It was an immense accomplishment for me. And yes I know it sounds super-dorky. But I was really proud of myself.

I kept playing for about a year after that, because after I'd accomplished my main goal I'd sort of gotten greedy and there were dozens of other goals that I wanted. I wanted to collect all the avatars I could. I wanted to collect all the special sidebars that I could. I wanted to get as many trophies as I could on my user lookup. I wanted more Neopoints so I could buy the second most-expensive Neopet, and so I could paint all my Neopets rare fancy colors.

And as time went on... it quit being a game.

It became a job.

I would log on in the morning and do my dailies and maybe half-heartedly play throughout the day to get my allocated 10,000NP (my minimum amount of money I'd allow myself to make in one day) and then I would just be glad when I was all finished for the day. I was no longer having fun. I was merely playing for two reasons: a.) to maintain my status as a successful Neopets player, and b.) because I'd made some friends who I would chat with on the chat boards.

Finally this past May I started playing WoW. I continued to sort of play Neopets after that... less and less... recently my Premium Neopets subscription expired (you can play the game for free, but Premium nets you a bunch of benefits). I chose not to re-subscribe and I haven't played since.

I look back on it and at first glance I see a couple years spent playing an online game, making online currency, so I could make some pixels on a screen look nicer than they do by default.

...but ya know what? I still feel some of those accomplishments I made in an online game were legitimate accomplishments. I set a goal. I worked for that goal. I achieved that goal. Yes the goal was merely fantasy, pixels that aren't tangible. But the process of working hard and achieving something is very real. That feeling of accomplishment has stuck with me. I don't regret the time I spent playing Neopets. I learned more about supply and demand than I ever did in school, I made new friends, and I learned that if you can put your mind to something you can accomplish even the most far-off-sounding goal.

When I started WoW I determined that I was not going to let it become a job. I was going to take it one day at a time, enjoy exploring the world and playing it how I want to play it, and then when I got tired I would quit. And that's how I've played it. I've met lots of amazing new people and made new friends. I've found something that I can take pride in (playing my hunter). I've learned a lot about teamwork and group work... more than ever before I feel like I know what it means to work as a team, simply because of what I've learned from when I do an instance. And this will sound strange but because of WoW I feel like I have a new way to connect to my siblings (all of whom were WoW players long before I was) and my boyfriend and I also have a multitude of new things to talk about. If I do start to feel overwhelmed, I take a break. Usually the feeling passes pretty quickly.

"But Pike, it's not real. It's just a game." Yes. But without launching into a whole 'nother essay about why video games have helped me become a better person, I'll just say that I read somewhere that it's not that playing video games or enjoying other hobbies is a bad thing. It's the time that you pour into something that you could be evenly distributing with other things. I play WoW a lot. I read/write about WoW a lot. Yes. But I also have a job that I enjoy, family and a boyfriend that I hang out with, and even the occasional forays into the outside "social world" (I have never been a social person, so honestly, it's not like WoW has gobbled up my "social time" because I rarely had any "social time" to begin with. =P) However, I will say I'm glad I waited to play WoW until after I graduated university. (Quite glad!)

Anyways, the key is in variety and if you can maintain that variety and that balance then you're doing good.

Will I quit playing WoW someday the same way I quit playing Neopets? Yep. I'm going to try my hardest not to let it burn me out the way Neopets did though. And I can tell you that all the benefits I've reaped from WoW and other video games are benefits that are going to stay with me. The game world is not real, but the people you meet are and the things you learn and the feelings you have are. So try your best to make your experience a positive one. It's a game-- have fun. =D

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Operation: Hug

So way back when I had first started on Lunapike (my RP-PvP-server-hordie for those of you just joining us) and was getting ganked after ganked after ganked by level 70s in Hillsbrad, I came up with a plan. Something that I wanted to do when the tables were turned someday in the future, when I was the level 70 and I could be the one in charge of the newbies' fates.

I called it Operation: Hug.

And it works like this:

Firstly you need to be high level. Secondly-- not a requirement, but this is preferable-- you have to be on a PvP or RP-PvP server. Thirdly, you need to head to a lowbie contested zone. Good examples might include Ashenvale, Stonetalon Mountains, Duskwood, Thousand Needles, and Hillsbrad Foothills.

And here is the part where you mount up and charge around searching for lowbies of the opposing faction. When you find one, you run STRAIGHT up to them, looking all scary and menacing.

And then you dismount.

And then you /hug them.

And then you mount up again and run away.

This, my friends, is Operation: Hug.

For a long time I didn't consider myself to be a high enough level to do this. But now that Lunapike is level 41 and she has herself a cuddly Kodo:

I thought "Well, maybe I'm high enough level now to initiate Operation: Hug."

So off I went, to Hillsbrad, and then to Stonetalon and Ashenvale.

...unfortunately all I have run into so far are people who are still ?? to me and who still gank me. Dang.

I will not give up hope though. I may still be too low-level now, but someday, Operation: Hug will officially be launched. FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.

Oh, and yes, I will be posting updates as I finally get Operation: Hug off the ground. And yes, you may participate on your own server, if you like!

Hunter Loot Trumps Sleep

AND The Abacus of Violent Odds. Which the rogue already had.

Tawyn is only going to get about four and a half hours of sleep tonight but she is a happy, happy hunter.

Heroic Mech (almost) clear. We got the fire boss to 4% and wiped, and then people had to start leaving. Still, we got the Calculator, so we'll consider it a success.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Trapping Those Pesky Casters

I realized it's been a little while since I posted a guide. And because I always want to have some guides available for newer (or older) hunters wishing to hone their skills, I figured I'd post a new one.

Today's topic comes from a question somebody in my guild asked me the other day, while she was in ZF: "Tawyn, how do you trap casters? The person marking always seems to mark the caster for me to trap."

Well, before we go any farther, I want you to make sure that the person marking is aware of the fact that trapping casters is a difficult thing to do. It could be that they haven't played a hunter before and thus this little problem hasn't occurred to them. I got lucky in this regard; our guild's main tank already has a level 70 hunter of his own and he is very, very good about making sure that I don't get the casters unless necessary. So be sure you politely let whoever is marking know that, if at all possible, you should be trapping the non-casters.

Now then, sometimes you really don't have a choice and you will have to trap a caster anyway. The main problem with trapping casters is, of course, that they stay in place and cast spells at you from afar rather than run up to you (and thus, run into your trap). So, what can we do about this? Well, let's take a look at some of our options:

Silencing Shot: Silencing Shot does exactly what it says on the tin: it silences the target for three seconds. If the mob is silenced, he can't cast spells, and will default to trying to hit you with his stick. Open with this thing and it should give you enough time to pull the mob into your trap. The downside is that it is the 41-point-Marksman talent. Therefore, only full-Marksman hunters will have access to this shot; BM, Survival, and hybrid hunters will not be able to use this.

Warlockery!: Our warlock friends have a minion called the Felhunter. This minion has an ability sort of like Silencing Shot; it will silence a mob for a few seconds, thus allowing you to pull it into your trap. The downsides: Firstly you have to have a warlock in your group, and secondly... well lemme put it this way. In my experience, warlocks don't typically like to be told what to do with their minions, much in the same way that we hunters don't like to be told what to do with our pets. This is very understandable, of course. But poor warlocks are often told to use certain minions for certain tasks when they'd really rather be using their Imp or something. So if you're going to ask your resident 'lock for help, be sure you are very polite and that they aren't already using a minion for a very needed reason. Most 'locks, I'm sure, would be glad to help, but it's always good to let them know that their help is appreciated. (Or you can get lucky like I have and get a warlock who comes up with this idea on their own and volunteers their felpuppy before you've even thought about it.)

Other Classes' Help: I have to admit here, there is a lot I don't know about non-hunter classes. However, I believe there are other classes with a sort of silencing ability. Shadow Priests, for example, can silence. You might ask around and see if any one in your party has any sort of silencing ability (if you don't already know for certain). I know the warlock one mentioned above surprised me the first time I heard about it. You might be pleasantly surprised too.

Okay. But what if you're not a Marksman hunter, and you don't have an available warlock or other silencing class in your party? Then what?

Then we use a little trick we call Line-of-Sight.

Basically this means you are going to set your trap down by a corner of a wall, shoot the mob, and then run around the corner. If the mob can't see you, he can't cast at you. He will run to catch up with you, and pop! He'll run right into your trap.

Here's a little illustration I whipped up:

(Yeah, it's not too pretty, but it works, right?)

Things to watch out for include making sure the trap isn't too far off the beaten path (though they always do seem to have a fairly wide "radius"), making sure the place you're hiding behind really is a good place to hide behind (i.e., it's wider than a thin tree or something), and placing the next trap pretty close by so when the first trap breaks, he can hardly move without being trapped again.

Also, it's a good idea to keep your mob selected. That way, if when you run around the corner you can't see him anymore, you'll be able to see the trap debuff pop up under his nameplate and know that you were successful.

"But Pike, what if I'm not a Marksman hunter, there is nobody in the party that can silence, and there are no walls in sight? Then what??"

Then... you do the best you can. Which for me usually means running up to the mob and throwing down a trap at their feet. Make sure you don't invoke the wrath of any other nearby mobs when you do this, though!

Lastly, remember that practice makes perfect-- if at first you can't figure this thing out, keep trying and you'll eventually start "picking up" what to do at what times and where to best place your trap. Hopefully it won't be long until you've added yet another little magic trick to your Hunter Goodie Bag.

Alright, there you have it. A Basic Beginner's Guide to Trapping Casters. I'm sure there are probably other little nuances regarding this topic that I haven't covered, but hopefully this will at least enable you to get the general idea. As always, your questions and comments are quite welcome.

Until next time... hunt's luck!

Monday, January 21, 2008

World Raid!

I'm writing to you instead of driving to work right now because it's about -10 degrees Fahrenheit where I am, which really wouldn't be too bad except my car is refusing to start. So here I am writing up a post inbetween trying-to-get-my-car-to-work.

Basically, yesterday, apparently a few pretty sizable raid groups of level 60+ Alliance on Silver Hand got together and successfully raided Orgrimmar and downed Thrall.

Sadly, I wasn't here for that, I only heard about it.

I was there, however, for the resulting Horde counter-raid on Stormwind. It was chaotic and very, very laggy. Now the sort of semi-lag that results from some of the more epic battles in Alterac Valley, I can handle. But about 50 Horde clashing with 75+ Alliance at the entrance of Stormwind was ridiculous. I was trying my best to get in on the action but it was like... I'd fire my bow and nothing would happen for several seconds... and then I'd send in my pet on something and again, nothing would happen... and then everybody would just be running in place for a long time... yeah. Apparently everybody was having the same lag issues though; I just don't think the server was prepared for it.

Somehow... no idea how... but somehow I managed to get 4 honor kills out of it, despite the lag. And because the Horde were just too hopelessly outnumbered despite their own numbers, the majority of their counterraid was defeated right at the entrance. There were some who managed to get back to Stormwind Keep, but there were more Alliance waiting for them.

Then we heard that apparently a lot of them had managed to get to the Deeprun Tram and were headed to Ironforge. So away we went-- probably 60 or 70 Alliance all dancing on the Deeprun Tram and then making a mad dash for King Bronzebeard's throne room, where we apparently had just missed all the action because a bunch of dead Horde were there alongside the still-intact-Bronzebeard.

Now it was at this point that the Alliance decided to launch a counter-counter-raid and try to take Undercity. Visions of screenshots of downing Sylvanas danced in my head and me and quite a few of my guildies decided to go. So off we went!

Unfortunately, this Undercity raid was not nearly as coordinated as the Orgrimmar one had apparently been... I really only saw about 6 or 7 fellow Allies there (despite the fact that a /who Undercity revealed over 50 of us) and I was killed a few minutes into the thing because I jumped off a high ledge bringing me down to about 100 HP, at which point a mage came up behind me and one-shotted me. Most of my Undercity-raid-time was spent bouncing around my corpse in wisp form, waiting for the orc hunter with jealousy-inducing gear to go away. Finally he did and I managed to rez, run around frantically for a few minutes while being chased by guards, feign death, and then hearthstone out to Shatt and safety.

And so our counter-counter-raid had apparently failed (or maybe they'd succeeded without me? I'm not sure) but it was still fun to be able to participate in my first real "worldwide PvP" event and I hope I can participate in more of it in the future.

Other things of note that happened yesterday included our guild's first ever attempt at a Heroic instance, namely Heroic Mech (we couldn't get past the first mini-boss, which we were kind of expecting anyway, so we just did it on Normal mode instead); and some fantastically intense roleplay between our guild and a Scarlet-Crusade-esque guild. The downside to roleplaying in Stormwind on a Sunday afternoon is that you will always attract the mockers; honestly I have no idea why they decide to roll on an RP server if they have a problem with roleplaying. It will forever be a mystery.

Hmm. My car still won't start and the soonest I can hitch a ride off of somebody isn't for another hour or so. At least I've called work and updated them of the situation. In the meantime, there is always WoW to be played or my story to write (have I mentioned I'm working on a story? I'll be posting it here for you guys!)

Oh and apparently I now have an authority of 50 on Technorati which really just blows my mind. Thank you all so much.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The other day I was in the middle of a Steamvaults run (which we ended up scrapping halfway through because the tank was disconnected and then apparently the login server went down), when somebody said something to this effect in guild chat:

"Ugh, I'm grouped with another huntard. Tawyn, you need to start writing guides on how to be a good hunter and post them online so we can send all the huntards there."

...I giggled.

And I told her that as a matter of fact... I sort of already try to do that. I said that there's a rather expansive online "hunter community" of people that want to lend their advice and experience to newbies, and that I'm a part of it.

Now what you've gotta understand here, is that very few of my guildies know about my blog. It's not because I'm hiding it from them or anything. It's mostly that I don't really like tooting my own horn. Somehow, for some crazy reason, this site is currently getting over 130 hits a day. Now I dunno about anybody else but I consider that to be a resounding success. But I can't help but fear that it might put me in a sort of weird authoritative position in the guild that I don't find myself to be deserving of, considering how awesome my guildies are. (Though to be fair, you could argue that I'm already in an "authoritative position", since I am an officer and probably unofficially the "hunter class leader", considering the "I need advice" whispers I often get from various lower-level hunters in the guild.)

Anyways while I'd love for more of my guildies to see this blog at some point, I'm holding off on it because I'm waiting for a time when it's less awkward for me to bring it up. So when the aforementioned person asked for a website to refer the huntards to, I said Because there is no denying that not only is BRK probably one of the best hunter resources on the net right now, but he also holds the position of being sort of the "central hub" to this hunter community, and as such his site is a really good starting point-- if you spend enough time at BRK, you will eventually find a lot of other good sites too.

And once again I find myself vouching for the help that the WoW-blogging community offers. I've been having more and more people recently asking me how I learned to play my hunter competently. And really my only answers are "lots of reading online" and "lots of practice." Others in my guild, after hearing me mention this, have started doing their own research and reading on their class and I think it's showing. We are developing a really strong group of players and it's really exciting.

Anyways, blog-talk time over. I met one of my goals this weekend:

That is my new Gladiator's Heavy Crossbow, which was promptly equipped with an Adamantite Scope. I was hoping to have it a day earlier, but it turns out the Estimated Honor was even more inaccurate than I'd assumed and I wound up about 180 honor short. But a few AVs and 24 hours later... yes. I am a happy hunter.

I went and tried it out on the level 70 elementals in Nagrand, and the improvement over my last bow is just insane. I'm so excited to try this out in an instance. I also need to get my crossbow skill up, so I can bring my crit back up.

Speaking of crit, my unbuffed agility is now over 500. At this point, I think I could probably decently pull off a 0/31/30 spec. It's difficult for me to imagine life without the Big Red Pet and all the benefits that 41/20/0 comes with (like Serpent's Swiftness, oh how I love this talent); but I feel like I have left hunter territory unexplored if I don't try out a lot of different specs. Besides, I've noticed lately that my crowd control is pretty critical in instances; now I think I'm a decent trapper as it is, but I often feel like I could be bringing more to the table and improved traps would help with that. I know I can think of more than a few times lately where I've wished, mid-instance, that I had better traps. So I've informed my fellow-instance'ers to let me know if they ever feel like they need improved traps, and if so, I will respec post haste.

*glances up at wall of text*

...I really do talk too much, don't I?

Friday, January 18, 2008

And They Call It... Hunter Love

Well I had a post on a different subject slated for today, but I have been inspired by Delos and One Among Many to touch on something I've touched on before in the past, but feel compelled to touch on again: the hunter obsession.

It started with Delos' post about how hunters, more so than any other class, seem to have this weird thing for becoming passionate about their class and making a bunch of alts of the same class. This attracted a lot of comments from people giving all sorts of good reasons, about wanting to try out different specs, different pets (especially with our limited stable space), and just plain liking the class. Then over at One Among Many we have a very nice list of twelve reasons why she personally loves the class.

Now I am somebody who will put a lot of thought into something when she gets excited about it, so I've put a lot of thought into this subject before. Why do I like hunters so much, and perhaps more than that, why is the class so appealing for so many people-- to the point that, for many, it becomes more than simply being "just a class"?

I'm gonna give you the short n' simple answers and then I'm going to put on the detective hat and give you a thoughtful answer.

Short n' simple reasons on why I, Pike, love playing the "hunter" class in World of WarCraft:

1.) It's fun. WoW is a game and is supposed to be fun. I have fun playing hunters in a way that I can't replicate with any other class. Hunters come with fun stuff. Feign Death, pets, Misdirection, being able to see the bad guys on your minimap... what's not to love? Thus, I play hunters.

2.) I'm good at it. See, you have to understand something... I love video games and have been playing them since I was in diapers... but I've always been pretty notoriously bad at them. ...okay, maybe not that bad. But the point is that I was always out-gamed. I never could beat my brother in StarCraft. Nor could I ever beat my friends in Street Fighter or Halo. When I play my hunter in WoW, I know that I am good at it. Not great, I don't think-- I still have much to learn and practice-- but I'm good at my class. I know because other people have told me.

This "I'm good at it" applies itself in different ways. Firstly, I love doing something I can take pride in, and I can take pride in playing my hunter. Secondly, I want other people to see me at my best. If I roll an alt on, say, some friends' server, I usually roll a hunter. Because I know I can play it well and I want to show myself at my best. I leave the experimenting with classes for more safe environments.

3.) As I wrote in a recent essay, I honestly think there is a beautiful aesthetic to the hunter class and I love that aesthetic.

Okay. So those are the "short-answer" reasons that I often throw out to the masses when trying to explain my hunter obsession.

...but is there perhaps a deeper reason? A more personal, underlying, even subconscious reason? Something inherent in the class that just attracts certain people?


*puts on detective hat and pulls out magnifying glass*

A while ago, a guy named Thom Hartmann came up with a theory about the seemingly rising number of kids (and adults) with issues like hyperactivity and inattention. His theory was that it was not some sort of mental disease like so many people thought it was, but rather, the result of putting a different type of person in the wrong environment. His basic idea was that humans have developed from both farming societies, and hunter-gatherer societies, and that people today who show the aspects of an ideal "hunter" personality no longer have an outlet to do what they do best, and that manifests itself in the form of so-called "bad behavior."

Here is a list he came up with of the attributes of a successful hunter:

-They constantly monitor their environment.
They can totally throw themselves into the hunt; time is elastic.
They're flexible, capable of changing strategy on a moment's notice.
They can throw an incredible burst of energy into the hunt. (The theory here compares hunters to the Hare in "The Tortoise and the Hare", which rather tickled me considering the name of my blog.)
-They think visually.
They love the hunt, but are easily bored by mundane tasks.
They'll face danger that "normal" individuals would avoid.
They're hard on themselves and those around them.

Hmm. Tracking things? Needing to be able to monitor situations and change strategies at the drop of a hat? Finding a thrill in doing things other classes think would be too hard, like solo'ing elites? Sounds sort of like a certain class in WoW.

Here's how this particular theory goes on to link these hunter-traits with "bad-behavior" in kids:

- Constantly monitoring their environment: Attention spans short, but can become intensely focused for the long periods of time.
- Able to throw themselves into the chase on a moment's notice: Poor planner: disorganized and impulsive (makes snap decisions).
- Flexible; ready to change strategy quickly: Distorted sense of time: unaware of how long it will take to do something.
- Tireless: capable of sustained drives, but only when "Hot on the trail" of some goal: Impatient.
- Visual/Concrete thinker, clearly seeing a tangible goal even if there are no words for it: Doesn't convert words into concepts adeptly, and vice versa. May or may not have a reading disability.
- Independent: Has difficulty following directions.
- Bored by mundane tasks; enjoy new ideas, excitement, "the hunt", being hot on the trail: Daydreamer.
- Willing and able to take risk and face danger: Acts without considering consequences.
- "No time for niceties when there are decisions to be made!": Lacking in the social graces.

(Full essay here, comparison list here. Very interesting reads.)

So I dunno about you guys, but that last list there was pretty much me almost word-for-word when I was a kid, and to a pretty large extent, even today as an adult. (Heck, I actually really was diagnosed with ADD when I was younger.)


Okay, so, the point of this post is not to throw some weird theory that may or may not be true at you. Nor is it to go all super-psychoanalysis on you. The point is that for some of us... for me, at the very least... I really feel like there is perhaps something deep there. I love playing my hunters because as I said way at the beginning, it's fun, it's something I'm good at, and I find it to be aesthetically pleasing. Why do I find the hunter class able to fulfill those three things for me? Why does it fit like a glove the way it does? Is it because somehow, deep down inside, it resonates with me?

...I sort of think so.

And I sort of think that I'm not the only one who feels that way.

And I think maybe that's one reason why the class seems to get so many devotees.

And there ya go, Delos. The "deep" answer. Whether this post has any merit to it at all or is just the wild speculations of some crazy nerd chick, perhaps we'll never know. But you know me, I have fun playing detective and following the trail of things like this =P


/sits down

/eats a cookie

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Shadow Labs Runs

Really the only thing I can add to these pictures is: "You should've heard me on Vent."

I'll put Savagery on it tomorrow; no enchanters seemed to be on tonight. I'm at a point right now where my crit is over 20% unbuffed so I think I could use the attack power more than an agility enchant. Though agility will always be my one and only favorite stat. Because I love my crit. But I'm trying to stay balanced.

In other news, I did SM Library on my level 38 hordie hunter. With a 33 warrior tank and a 34 shammy healer. And... that was it. Just us. We three-manned it. We originally had two other party members but they disconnected and disappeared right at the beginning of the run and we... just decided to keep going. It was pretty awesome. I love instances. I love the challenge of them and the rush of doing them, and the whole way you have to coordinate yourself with other people. It's so weird that I've come to enjoy that kind of thing because I've always been one of those flying-solo-types. And not just in WoW.

Said to me today: "A hunter who can trap. I think I love you." You heard me ladies. Freezing traps get all the men. Now you know the secret. =P

I See Dead Orcs

This is a screenshot I took in Shadow Labs a few nights back:

See that scary looking guy with the big ol' sword looking ready to leap at me?

He's dead.

Kinda creepy if you ask me.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Instance-Running Machine

Well, after a lull of a week or two where Tawyn was sort of stabled from instances and focusing on PvP and working on trade skills, the instancing appears to be back in full swing.

Yesterday I did both Shadow Labs and Botanica. The Shadow Labs run wound up being horribly ironic because everyone in the group was running it for gear, and not a single piece of gear for any of us dropped... that includes the ever-so-elusive Sonic Spear. However, I did receive a visit by one Bremm in the middle of this instance, so that was pretty awesome. /wave

Botanica we were running for the second half of the Arcatraz key. Our group also had slightly better luck on this one gearwise; I actually didn't come out of the instance with anything for myself (a pretty good neck piece dropped, but the rogue and I decided we would roll for it and he won, which I'm glad for, because he deserved it)... but the quest turn-in did bestow a pretty snazzy new belt upon me. Not to mention the Arc key! We'll hopefully be running that at some point today.

One of my favorite parts of the instance-running, though, was this: there's a boss in Shadow Labs who mind-controls the party (I can't remember the name of this boss). The problem for us was that when he does this, the tank seems to lose aggro. So we came up with a plan: after the next mind control, I was to misdirect onto the tank. The next mind control pops up and by the time it's over the boss is chasing the rogue around-- probably another hit and the rogue would be down.

Here comes Tawyn to save the day!

Misdirect on the tank... pulling back the bowstring... and... BAM!

Aimed Shot Crit Misdirect. Oh yeah!

Boss runs back over to the tank, rogue survives, and we finish the guy. I felt pretty awesome.

My next moment of personal heroism was the last boss in Botanica. Right towards the end-- boss had maybe 6% of his HP left... everybody wound up dying except for the tank and I, and we managed to finish him off. But to be honest there were a lot of little moments of heroism from everybody throughout the instances, not just me. It was really great.

I also felt good because at some point everybody started complimenting me for my traps. "Tawyn, I have no idea how you do your traps like that, but you're pretty much the only hunter I will ever group with." Stuff like that. /blush. Even though I still think my trapping could use some improvement, but I think I'm getting better with all the practice I've been doing lately.

I promise I'm going to post about something other than instances soon. =P

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Gettin' Stuff Done

I had a pretty productive day today in WoW.

For starters, my little hordie Lunapike hit level 38 and I decided to wander off to Westfall in the heart of Alliance territory and give solo'ing Deadmines a shot:

Ooooh, shiny stuff for my mount fund!

Aaaand, there ya have it, solo'd at level 38. A new record for me, because Tawyn solo'd it at level 41 (being primarily Marks-spec'd at the time.) Other then a few bad mistakes I made on Mr. Smite, and a VanCleef fight that was nearly too close for comfort (let's just say my health was down to about 5%), the run went quite smootly and I got a lot of stuff out of it that I was able to put in the Auction House. (Hehe, and did you notice the mini-Tux in a few of the screenshots? I love it.)

I've been having a lot of fun with Lunapike lately; I've been playing her a little more often and I've been inspired with new character ideas for her, roleplaying-wise. I think I want to write a short story about her. There is a special meaning behind her name afterall, I bet you didn't know that. Well two special meanings behind her name; one of them is in-character and one is out-of-character. I'll have to talk about those in a future post!

The second thing I did today was net about 2500 honor in PvP on Tawyn, thanks to randomly winding up actually in the middle of a few Alliance EotS premades (and yes, a few good old-fashioned hard-earned games as well) and EotS being the PvP daily. I now have 100 AB marks and 100 WSG marks, which is the most you can carry, so I'm gonna stick to EotS and AV for now-- sort of sad because AB and WSG are my favorites, but eh. Some of my guildies almost talked me into blowing nearly all my honor points and 30 WSG marks on some good pants... almost... in the end I opted not to because I didn't want to spend that much honor, now that I'm finally on the downhill side of the grind for my crossbow. If I decide to be superhardcore I might even have it next weekend, but I'm certainly not going to be holding my breath!

The third thing was a guild clear of Mechanar. We did pretty well, I think, considering that only one of us had ever run it before. Sure we had some wipes, but we also seemed to manage to pull off some crazy miracles on what otherwise might have been even more wipes. Having us all on Ventrilo has been a big help also. There's little I find more intense in this game, than something going wrong on a pull and somebody tossing out some crazy idea over voice chat, and then having it actually work. I even got to do some emergency trapwork a few of these times, and I think I did a pretty good job of it, too.

So now I've got the first half of the Arcatraz key, and if things go as planned I will be getting the second half tomorrow. I haven't gotten any "phat dungeon lewts" in a while so hopefully those are in the cards, but on the other hand, I'm really just doing these instances for the fun of it and for the whole experience of doing one. The loot is just secondary.

I have to say, WoW has taught me more about teamwork than any school "group projects" or even any real-life, money-making job. The only other thing I have ever felt so much teamwork in, was Orchestra back when I used to play the cello in school. There were times when you were playing music when you just really "got it" and realized that you were all working together, playing parts that all sounded strange alone, to make a beautiful song. Instances in WoW (and battlegrounds too) are really the same way.

I sort of had a realization today in Mech. Basically I checked the damage meters about halfway through, because I wanted to make sure I was doing okay, and because I won't lie, it's always thrilled me to be on top. But today when I looked at the meters, the first thing I thought wasn't "Oh yay I'm on top /flex". Nope. It was "Wow... look at how well we're all doing." The meters looked exactly like they should. Nobody was doing a bad job. Three awesome DPS/CC doing their job and an awesome tank doing his job and an awesome healer doing his job, and together we were clearing this difficult instance. It was really a neat moment for me to feel that same synergy that I haven't felt since my Orchestra days.

And yet again I realize that a video game has taught me a life lesson. Now if only we can get more people in the general public to realize that games can be good for you! =P

Friday, January 11, 2008

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Endgame

Faeldray and Nina have both written very interesting articles lately about why they love the leveling process and are in no rush at all to get to 70.

My main response is both a very emphatic "Good for you guys!" and "I agree!" I have long been a proponent of "the game is here for fun" attitude; I've encountered way too many people who have made it a job or some sort of contest for weird bragging rights over who has leveled the "hardest class" with the "hardest spec" on the most "hardcore server". There are people in my guild who enjoy running old-world dungeons like Scholomance for the experience (and not as in the "point" kind) and the fun of it. We've been accused before of being "noobs" for not exclusively running Outlands stuff instead. We shrug it off because we're having fun. I've had people tell me that having an "easy-mode hunter" on a non-PvP server invalidates my skill in a the game or my hard work in getting to 70. I shrug it off because I love hunters and because honestly, if you think the type of server I play on in a video game determines my status as a person, then I'm not the one with issues. =P But the point remains that you will always encounter people like that who poke fun at your experience.

My mantra, which has been my mantra basically since I started playing, is this: Don't let other people ruin your enjoyment of the game. I often find I have to repeat this to myself when I'm encountering others who are like this, or people who are being stalkery or overly-dramatic, or whatever. You choose to have fun when you play WoW. Don't let others choose it for you.

Anyways, now that I've got that out of the way. As somebody who also really enjoys exploring the game world (it's been posted on my blog sidebar since day one!) and who loved, and still loves, the whole solo'ing, quest'ing, and tons-of-alts thing, I have been inspired to write about why I'm rather enjoying the level 70 endgame. Because for the longest time, I didn't think I would. I remember thinking "Oh man. I don't want to get to 70. There's nothing really to do at 70 except instances and PvP." As I got closer to 70, I started learning more and more things that you could do, but I was still a little leery about it. However, now that I'm here, I'm quite loving it. Is it a different sort of game? Yes. But that's why I enjoy it so much.

A few things I really like about being level 70:

1.) New Goals: One of the things I like about questing and leveling is being able to feel that thrill of getting closer and closer to your level and then, ding! The bright golden flash and you've met your goal. I love that build-up of progression and reward. For a long time I was afraid that I would really miss that once I hit 70. But the truth is, it's still there. It's just in a different form. You have trade skills to work up. You have reputation to build up so you can get fun new things. If you like PvP, you have honor to work for so you can also get fun new things. If you like exploring, there are neat areas in Outlands that you can only get to via flying mount. You have awesome new quest lines that only open up once you hit 70. Heck, I've still got hundreds of quests left to do-- good old fashioned solo'able quests-- I was certain there wouldn't be anymore of those once I hit 70 but I was quite wrong.

So many goals to set!! I love it. To be honest sometimes I'm overwhelmed with all I want to do with Tawyn but then I remember I've got plenty of time. I want to relax and enjoy the "Endgame ride" the same way I enjoyed the "leveling ride".

2.) Class Variety: And an Even Better Enjoyment of Alts: Bear with me on this one because it sounds kind of weird. Basically, here's the deal. I don't know how it is with other classes, but with hunters, the mechanics of how the class is played in PvE change dramatically once you hit level 62 and get Steady Shot. As the levels continue to go by and you get Kill Command and Aspect of the Viper and (to a lesser degree) Misdirection and Snake Trap, the mechanics continue to change until eventually you are playing your hunter entirely different. I'm not exaggerating when I say that if you took level-60-Tawyn and lined her up besides level-70-Tawyn and asked them each to kill a mob... after the initial Hunter's Mark/Pet Attack, these two hunters would be played entirely differently. Different shots. Different shot rotation. Different timing. And possibly a different method of holding aggro on the pet. Furthermore, if you were to inspect the gear of these two hunters, you would even see some differences in what each one is "focusing" on, in terms of stats.

"What does this have to do with anything, Pike?" I hear you asking. Well, here's the thing. Pre-level-62 hunters and Post-level-62 hunters are so differently played that it's almost, but not quite, like playing another class. I'm sure most of you know by now that I can really only play hunters. I would like to be able to mess around with other classes, but they just don't feel homey and cozy enough to be a good fit and I end up coming "home" to my hunters. But with the differences between an old-world-hunter and an Outlands-hunter, I can experiment with two different types of playstyles, almost two different classes... both of which still possess that wonderful familiarity of hunterness.

My alts are even more ridiculously fun to play now than they ever were. Why? Because I love being able to jump between two playstyles of hunter like that. I love being able to hop from Tawyn to Lunapike and I love the fact that they are played differently. It's interesting and fun. And what I've learned (or re-discovered) on one lends itself beautifully to the other. Once Lunapike hits 62 I'll start focusing on another hunter (alongside my original two of course), because I always want to have one that is in those lower-levels, so I can always have that "bounce" going on.

3.) The people: I've never really been too much of a "people person". Oh I love my friends, but I was always one of those shy-loner types who really hated doing, say, group projects in school. I think this is a big reason why for a long time I shied away from doing group quests and instances in WoW. (The other reason was that people in PuGs tended to yell at me when I was a newbie, and that made a really big negative impression on me.)

But I can't say enough good things about the people I have met in this game. I have made some great new friends through my guild and through "sister guilds". We all do instances together not just for "phat lewts", but because we enjoy doing it as a social activity. It's fun to all work together for some common goal, knowing that we will be immediately forgiven if we make a mistake or are still learning.

Our guild recently decided we want to give raiding a shot. Why? Because we know how well we work together in five-mans and how much fun we have. We just want to try bumping it up a bit in intensity level. If we fail, that's okay. We're trying in a safe environment-- that is, with good friends-- and in the end we all just want to have a good time... that's the whole point of the game.

So... there you have it. The confessions of a girl who initially figured she would have absolutely nothing to do at endgame and has been proven wrong. Now, I'm not saying that any of you will have the same experience as me. Nor am I saying it's bad if you end up not liking leveling, or not liking endgame (I've met people who have tried both and strongly favor one or the other.) The main reason I wanted to post this, was to give newer-WoW-players who are maybe somewhat like me, a look at what types of neat things they can expect at endgame when all they ever hear about are the hardcore arena-people or 25-man-raiders. Level 70 is not just for those people, and don't let anybody tell you that is. You play the game the way you want to play it. The way it is most fun for you. If going into instances and doing the highest DPS gives you your kicks, then do it. If sitting in the warm sun at Ratchet and going fishing is your thing, that is a just as valid a way to spend your $15 a month. And don't let anybody tell you otherwise. =D

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Roleplaying Raiders. Or the Raiding Roleplayers, mayhaps.

I apologize for the lack of updates these past few days. I have a semi-valid reason, I promise:

It all started a week or two back. I think I've mentioned before that our guild is interesting in that it is a newer guild with quite a few people who are all in the same level range-- currently mostly mid-60s (and now 70).

We have also discovered that we like instancing together, a lot. We make a very good little team.

Anyways. A week or two back somebody mentioned something about Serpentshrine Cavern. Someone else said "Yeah, it'll be a loooong time before we get to that." "Wait, isn't that like... a 25-main raid?" "Yep."


And then somebody said it. "You know... we should become a raiding/roleplaying combo guild."

And everybody liked that idea.

So here we are, Entelechy, a guild full of roleplayers who have never done end-game before (or even hit 70 before), slowly keying up for Karazhan a year behind everybody else, and thinking we should do raids.

Crazy? Maybe. Awesome? Yes. We're gonna try it.

Now to why I haven't made any posts for a few days. Basically it was decided that if we're going to be a raiding guild, we need a Ventrilo server. (We have also wanted one for a while just to mess around and have fun with each other.) So we got one set up a few days ago. Problem: Pike runs Linux. Ventrilo does not play well with Linux.

Cue a few-day-long geekathon where Pike desperately tries to get Ventrilo and Linux playing nicely. Hardly any WoW. Just a lot of Dr. Pepper and keyboard pounding inbetween work shifts.

The sad news is that the whole attempt was pretty futile; it turns out there is some weird problem going on in my computer where microphones are not registered. I was able to get Ventrilo up and running, simultaneously with WoW with no slowdown, even... but it was pretty pointless if nobody could hear me talk, even if I could hear them. And the problem was complicated enough that I think it's beyond my meager abilities, at least for now. In the meantime, I still wanted a way to get on Vent so we could start practicing instancing while voice-chatting., I took a deep breath, sucked it up, and stuck a little Windows XP partition on my hard drive. I copied the WoW folder over, installed Vent, and... there ya go. I now have two different WoW installations, one on Linux and one on Windows. As much as it pains me to say it... I logged into Tawyn on Windows today. My initial impression was that it was pretty much exactly the same as on Linux with Wine. My second impression was that something was off somehow, which I couldn't quite put my foot on... the mouse was moving differently, or something. But, I'm dealing with it.

I'm on Linux now and it will remain my main operating system. I'll hop over to Windows when I'm instancing or get bored and want to dork around with the guildies for a little bit. But the rest of my WoW'ing and computer'ing in general will remain on Linux. And hopefully I can figure out the microphone problem at some point, and come back to "pure" Linux.

So that is why I haven't been around much.

I have one more story to tell. There is a level 70 hunter in my guild who is... maybe just a little less geared than I am, and his spec is similar to mine (though not the same-- there are a few notable and interesting differences). We both have the same ranged and melee weapons, except I've got Savagery on my axe and he doesn't. He's got a windserpent and I've got a cat.

We dueled today about... six times. And he won four of them. Rather resoundingly, too, a few times.

We had a good chat afterwards about the results and how we thought they may have come about. Because the duels really seemed to be going either way. To be completely honest he is a very good hunter and it caught me off guard. I'd never really seen him play his hunter before, usually he's tanking for us on his warrior. So I really wasn't sure what to expect. Anyways we compared specs and gear and strategies and had a chat. Here are my thoughts:

-Windserpents seriously do this thing where they pop up next to you and take you by surprise and throw you off, that's what they seemed to do to me anyway. His strategy is to dump as much focus onto his Windserpent as he can so it can spam Lightning Breath, so I was on the receiving end of that, too. Oh, and the thing about the big wings... yeah. So hard to target the other guy when something's flapping in your face. Definitely time to bring Tux to 70 (he's halfway through 67, currently) and make him the Official PvP Pet.

- He's a draenei and would use Gift of the Naaru on himself right when the duel began. He also has Spirit Bond. So he was regen'ing health the whole time.

- I kept trying to use my attack-power-boosting trinket without realizing I'd forgotten to equip it. Whoopsie... *shifty eyes*

- Also, he somehow has a different strategy than most hunters I go up against in PvP, but I've still got to figure out exactly what it is (clearly more research is required!)

Anywho, why am I telling you all this? Because if you play a draenei hunter and/or you have a windserpent these are awesome new PvP tips for you! I'm sort of jealous of the Gift of the Naaru thing. Granted, he told me a new tip about Shadowmelding at the beginning of the duel to annoy people while your pet eats them (haha) so it's a fair tradeoff.

After the duels though, I was feeling the urge to hone my skills because he'd won more times than I'd won and it was inspiring me to PvP and get better. So I went to AV.

Hey look, Alliance on Bloodlust actually won a "New AV" game and it was the daily too... yes I know, don't go into shock... but aside from that, I've got 239 honorable kills. And that's with the omnipresent Valanos's Longbow. I can't wait for an upgrade. That's what I'm saving up Honor for next, that ridiculous Crossbow. I can't help myself. I'm in love.

Hmm. Sorry that this post sort of rambled on and on and covered at least three different subjects. That's what happens when I put off making a post for too long. In summary: I like my guild, I like my Linux (honest!) and, when it's not frustrating the heck out of me, I like PvP.

And two more quick things: Armory is working again! My unbuffed crit is so very very close to 20%.

And a HUGE SHOUTOUT to Moonglo for coming to visit me on Silver Hand. You guys are all great.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Cute and Cuddly Beasts Within

First of all, a shout-out to the authors of Troll on a Powerbook and One Among Many, for becoming the fourth and fifth people, respectively, to roll alts on my server to say hello. All of you guys flatter me, really, and I still sort of can't understand it-- I don't find myself very interesting at all, and I'm even less interesting when I'm talking in real-time, because I can be pretty shy. But thank you anyway. I'm quite a lucky hunter. (I'm also getting to be quite the enchanted-out hunter, and thus quite the broke hunter... but that's another story.)

In my recent "essay" on the Beast Mastery spec, Faradhim asked me if I have pets in real life. As a matter of fact... yes I do:

These are my guinea pigs Reno and Vincent. (First person to figure out where their names are from, and then deduce which is which because of it, gets a big ol' cookie. Turns out I name my real-life pets the same way I name my pets in WoW... always a hidden meaning.)

Reno and Vincent have been living with me for the past couple of years. They are intelligent, mischievous, and also possibly the most spoiled guinea pigs on the planet. You see, I work at a pet store. (Yes, that's right, the hunter works at a pet store!) Specifically, I work in the pet care/small animal department. This means that I not only spend most of my time working with and handling fish and small critters, but I also get to stock the shelves in my department with all the new goodies that come in. And the whole time I'm doing it I'm thinking "Oh my gosh, they would LOVE this new treat... oooh, and that one too..." and then I come home with a bunch of snacks for them and they don't eat half of it.

At least they've gotten a little less picky lately.

They've caught onto my sleeping schedule and decided that maybe if they start making noise before my alarm goes off, they will get fed earlier. Cue lots of squeaking at 4:30am, every morning. Fortunately I am prepared, with earplugs! Bwahaha.

They have also decided that merely eating their food out of their bowl is not exciting enough, and it's much more fun to eat food off of the floor of their cage. So they wedge their head under the bowl, and then when you least expect it... BAM. Bowl goes flying, food goes flying, and the guinea pigs are happy and Pike has to grab the vacuum again.

I can't help but love them though. And I wouldn't want to get on their bad side... I don't know if I'd want to deal with the wrath of a Big Red Guinea Pig anytime soon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Good Hunters go to Heaven, Except They Don't Die

So I had the rather, um, unique experience yesterday of surviving a wipe. Basically it goes like this:

We were in Black Morass, which none of us had ever done before. This is a very... unusual instance. It consists of you running around killing bosses and other non-boss big elites, while trying to prevent wave after wave of mob from getting to Medivh. Very intense.

Anyways, we were about halfway through and doing okay, for it being everyone's first try. I was on add-duty, so while everybody else focused on the elites I got to run around with Track Dragonkin up, making sure nobody was trying to sneak past. Anyways to make a long story short, we were busy on one of the bosses and then it happened. Tank died. Warlock died. Rogue died. Healer died. ...hunter and pet are running around attacking the growing number of adds. I was fully expecting to die any second, but... nope. You see, I hadn't touched the boss at all because I'd been focusing on adds. So I had no threat when it came to him, so he wasn't touching me.

Furthermore, the adds weren't mobbing me because they were all focused on Medivh. I was able to run around and pick them off one at a time-- or at least make a futile attempt to do so before Medivh's shield fell.

Medivh's shield was, in fact, falling faster and faster and suddenly I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be trying. Maybe I should die while his shield was still up... maybe then we wouldn't have to start over?

I said in party chat: "Hey guys, I'm still alive".

Party Chat: "..."

Me: "Am I supposed to die?"

Party: "Is Medivh's shield falling?"

Me: "Yeah"

Party Chat: "Yeah... maybe dying would be a good idea..."

Okay, suicide. I can do that easily enough. I ran up to the boss they were fighting before and fired an arrow at him. Boss yells something out and charges at me and hits me for a lot of HP, but I was still hanging in there. I braced myself for the final blow...

And then he disappeared.

Medivh's shield had fallen and so all the bad guys had disappeared.

Everyone had wiped and I'd ran up and shot an elite dragon boss in the face and yet my pet and I were still standing, battered, but alive.

Let me tell ya, I never thought I'd see the day where I could say that.

As for the instance, we tried a few more times unsuccessfully (the instance does in fact reset) and then decided we would call it a night and come back later when we needed the Kara key and when our tank was better geared. (Very good tank... needs better gear.)

I think it's starting to turn into a joke among my guildies that I have this mysterious tendency to survive wipes. I am perfectly fine with that reputation.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

About the Author

Way back in 1997, a then 13-year-old girl stumbled onto the Internet. She called herself "Pikestaff" after a character she'd invented based on the "Redwall" series of books; a hare with a penchant for causing mayhem.

Over ten years later, Pike still lives...

"Pike" has been the longtime Internet moniker (heck, offline moniker too sometimes) of a twentysomething geekish girl who lives in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. (Specifically, she lives in the town where Vulcans and Humans will make First Contact, according to Star Trek lore.)

She's been playing video games basically before she could talk, thanks to the cutting-edge Commodore 64 computer her family owned. A quick perusal of the "Favorite Games" section of her Baby Book would not reveal Pat-a-Cake or Peek-a-Boo, but rather Dig-Dug, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man.

Then one year they got a Super Nintendo, and other than a very passionate love affair with Starcraft, she was exclusively a console gamer for many years. Until one day her boyfriend said "Hey I'm installing WoW, do you want to play too?" She thought hunters sounded fun, created her first WoW toon, and that's when the madness began.

Today you can see Pike creating and playing hunter after hunter after hunter because it's not just a class, it's a lifestyle. And an obsession, admittedly.

Pike's other big passion is the Linux operating system. She leveled her first character to 70 exclusively on Kubuntu Linux and the only reason she pops onto a lesser OS sometimes these days is for Ventrilo (by the way, she appreciates all the "Linux/Wine/Ventrilo" how-to links people send her, but trust her when she says she has tried everything and it's a bug that's out of her control at the moment).

You can find Pike online most places as "Pikestaff" and chances are if you see a "Pikestaff" on some internet site, it is her (DeviantArt is a notable exception-- somebody else took her beloved internet name first and that is perhaps the big reason why she can't bring herself to create a DeviantArt account).

Other than that, her Pikachu plushie collection, and the Periodic Table of the Elements she carries in her wallet, Pike is just your normal chick who holds a bachelor's degree in filmmaking which she does not use and who currently works in the Pet Care Department of a popular pet store chain. That means she is a master cricket counter and fish catcher and is bitten by snakes on a regular basis. She can also warn you to never, ever touch a pooping hamster., seriously.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I link to you?
Yep! =D

Will you link to me? If you are an active commenter and your name links to your blog, chances are I will pick up on it at some point and add you to my blogroll. If I do not, feel free to send me an e-mail and if your site seems to have some decent content and is regularly updated, I will link to you.

Would you like to hook up for some advertising/moneymaking?
No thank you.

I saw a "Tawyn" on [insert non-Silver Hand server here], is that you? Nope. I tend to view my characters as all having distinct personalities and so as such I generally do not share character names across servers, though I have made exceptions. Tawyn is not one of those exceptions. (At one point, though, I did have a "Tawyne" on Dark Iron, but that character is now retired.)

How do you pronounce Tawyn
? Say the two words "Saw Win". Now blend them together and replace the "S" in Saw with a "T". And emphasize the first syllable. ^^

What is the cool add-on that makes you and your party's name plates appear in 3-D? X-Perl Unit Frames.

"For the Horde" or "Glory to the Alliance"? Both! No really, I rather enjoy playing both factions. Alliance if pressed, though these days I am more prone to be found Horde-side due to circumstance.

PvE or PvP Server? RP and RP-PvP! =P

Is your guild on Silver Hand recruiting
? Entelechy is always accepting of new members of any class, level, and activity level (i.e. we won't kick you even if you only log on twice a year). We are a fun group of people of varying backgrounds and ages (I'll take a stab here and say our average member age is early-20s) who enjoy goofing off and hanging out in Ventrilo. You do not have to be a roleplayer but keep in mind that our guild's roots lie in roleplaying so you should at least be respectful to those that participate in RP even if you do not yourself. If you are interested in raiding with us keep in mind that at this point we really only run Karazhan (we aim for once a week, though it doesn't always happen) but many of our members raid higher-content with other guilds and you would be free to do so as well.

And if you want to get really nitpicky, we could use mages. Desperately. (And healers and tanks, but mostly mages.)

Anyways, if you see me on as Tawyn or Tamaryn send me a poke and I'll toss you an invite. You can also randomly whisper someone in the guild if I am not on to see who has invite rights, usually at least one person who can invite is online.

Is your guild on The Venture Co. recruiting? No, because that guild is a small personal guild for me, my alts, and my friends and family. That may change in the future, but for the time being, no, Lunapike's guild is not recruiting, and no, I'm not interested in leaving my mini-guild for a bigger one.