Thursday, October 9, 2008



Well guys, it's that time. Blogger has served me long and well but this blog has grown beyond my wildest expectations and as such, I have "outgrown it" so to speak and it is time for me to take the next step.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to follow me over to my new site (which I am still tweaking a bit-- but it should be functional) and keep reading! I would also appreciate it more than you would know if you were to update any links to me you may have on your blogroll, so people continue to know how to find me.

Other than that, if you subscribed to this blog via my Feedburner feed, you shouldn't have to do anything; you should continue to seamlessly receive updates from the new blog. If you are a really long-time subscriber or did not subscribe through Feedburner for whatever reason, then this will be the last post you get until you update your feed. You will know because I will be posting on the new blog directly after this, so check to see if it is there.

As for this ol' place? I've already imported all the entries and comments that were here as of last night. I will probably be leaving it up for a few weeks and then I will be setting up a permanent redirect so any traffic that ends up here is pushed over to the new place. Ah, if this HTML could talk.

Well, nostalgia over. Onward and upward and I hope to see you there!


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pike Lives. In LFG.

Apologies for failing to post anything constructive lately. I have a pretty hefty Top-Secret-Project that I am working on but which is sort of taking longer than I expected due to various reasons, so I promise I'm still around. Just busy!

Yesterday I was sitting around on Lunapike in LFG (my latest main hangout), hoping to weasel my way into a group, when I received a kind whisper from somebody asking if I maybe wanted to go to Karazhan and did I consider myself geared for it? I replied that I was still a bit undergeared in my own estimation but that I knew the fights and would love to go if the group was okay with it. Images of grouping with a fellow blogger and going in there with greens and coming out with purples danced in my head, but sadly the group filled up without me. Ah well. I really need to gear up more anyway. Though I am rather proud of going from 1150 to 1325 AP and 17% crit to 20% crit in the past week, but I find my lack of hit rating disturbing. This must be rectified.

I really do enjoy the "gearing up" process. Am I nuts or what? =P Now if only Kalithresh would drop me another Beast Lord for my Set Bonus and Murmur would hand me his Sonic Spear...

P.S. Yes I have a post about "gearing up at 70" in the works. It's the last in the "So You Want to Be a Hunter" series so I want it to be good. I apologize for my heinus slowness!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Okay, Pike's Gonna Sit You Down

And tell you a little story to make a point.

With all my spec testing lately and my latest entry on how my "relationship" to my pet, playstyle-wise, varied according to spec, I fear I may have accidentally given off some false impressions. So, I'm gonna clarify.

There are hunters of all specs who love their pets.

There are also hunters of all specs who really don't care very much either way. This includes some BM hunters who are BM only for the numbers, for example.

The point that I was trying to make in my last post, is that I missed the feeling of splitting my damage with my pet. I missed knowing he was doing 35% of my DPS. It felt awkward knowing that the damage responsibility was basically squarely on my shoulders. It felt lonely to me.

When I say that, I am not at all trying to discredit the relationship you lovely MM and SV hunters have with your pets, or say that they aren't important.

Tawyn was my first ever character and she was Marksmanship until level 55-ish.

The reason is because I had no idea what I was doing or what a spec was. So I asked my friends what to do with these newfangled talent points. At this point I'd actually started putting points into BM already but two different people completely mocked the idea of me spec'ing BM and told me Marksman was the way to go, so I promptly changed course and followed their advice.

Up I went through that talent tree and my owl Tux was there the entire way. He was my feathery little pocket tank. He was my leveling buddy. He didn't dish out a lot of damage but he held aggro like a champ. I loved him dearly. I loved him just as much then, as a Marksman hunter, as I do now as a Beast Master hunter.

Really though, I was hungrily eyeing the Beast Mastery tree the entire time I was leveling. Heck, I went off and made Lunapike so I could have a BM hunter that my friends didn't have to know about. There is a reason why I gave her a red kitty pet, aside from the fact that I think they're cute. It was a conscious, symbolic choice because Lunapike was going to be my BM hunter.

That Little Red Kitty is level 70 now, by the way.

Anyways, back to Tawyn. I finally said "Ya know what, screw everybody else. I don't care if they're going to call me a noob now. I'm respec'ing." So I did, and I'd like to say that I didn't look back.

...except I did look back, once. Because it sort of scared me at first. Tux went from being my pocket tank to being this Big Red Owl of Doom. He was doing as much DPS as I was at the time, if not more. "I've created a monster!" I thought. I spent about a level as BM and then spec'd back to my Marksman safety zone. Tux went back to being my mild-mannered companion. All was well.

Then I started to miss the whole "fast and furious" playstyle of BM and the idea that Tux could be more than just my tanky friend. We could fight alongside each other, each doing equal damage. We could be unstoppable, together.

Together we went through the Dark Portal and stepped into Outlands and that is when I spec'd to Beast Mastery for good and since then I haven't looked back. I wouldn't have it any other way at this point. We fight together. He isn't just there to keep the mobs away from me. He is there to buff me with his Ferocious Inspiration so I can in turn buff him with Kill Commands and tons of Focus, and we both act as an elegant killing machine, as One.

I have a special relationship with my pets as a Beast Master hunter. But that doesn't mean I love them any more than I did when I was Marksman. That doesn't mean I don't value them any more than I did when I was Marksman (although in a gameplay sense, obviously you do have to value them somewhat more =P)

When I was experimenting with non-BM specs in Beta, I felt a certain detachment to my pets in terms of there not being nearly so much hunter/pet synthesis (one procs something for the other) and the reason I was forgetting Mend Pet is probably largely because I was busy trying to work out new rotations. Anyways, that is what I missed about being BM. I missed the hunter/pet synthesis. I didn't love the pets any less just because I shuffled talent points around. That would be silly.

So! That is your Pike-story for the day. Hunters everywhere love their pets, and that is the way it should be. Just wanted to clarify that. Thank you, as always, for your comments and support and I will see you all next time.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

[WotLK Beta] Survival of the Fittest

So now all the BoP alchemy recipes start dropping for me. Now that I'm in Beta and can't keep them. /sob


Today I spec'd 0/9/52 -- Full Survival. Once again, I do not claim to be an expert on non-BM spec'ing, but it seemed like a decent set-up to me. Really the interesting thing that I noticed with Survival is that all the things I really liked about this spec also seemed to have an opposite and equal downside to them. So while the "wow" factor seemed to be there more than it was in Marksman, at the same time, the letdown factor was also here more than it was in Marksman.

Here, I'll show you...

Things I Liked:
Expose Weakness
So many crits!! <3
Hunting Party
Explosive Shot, because it's superfun
Knowing I have awesome traps

Things I Did Not Like
Knowing Expose Weakness now only affects myself
So many crits... so much pulling aggro from my pet after a string of them.
Hunting Party is a nifty idea and not bad, but... really, it does so little, in the long run. I'm still a mana monster.
Explosive Shot is only superfun for so long, and when the novelty wears off it's not a particularly exciting 51-pointer in my humble opinion.
Awesome traps either are not implemented currently, or I'm going crazy

Really, the hardest part of both this and the Marksman tree, was getting used to the idea that my pet is no longer important, other than as a meatshield to keep the enemy at range. I feel like I'm doing all the damage, which feels "off" to me. I even surprised myself when, more than once, I forgot to use Mend Pet and my Tenacity-- tanking!-- pet wound up dying. You've got to understand, I never forget Mend Pet. My pet rarely dies unless Shade of Aran has a vendetta against him or something. And yet once I get into a mindset of a non-BM hunter, I... forget to use it. Because I get focused entirely on myself. And I don't like that. I miss being "us".

I promise, this isn't supposed to be some sort of "BM Power" rant or anything. Survival was a fun tree to explore, it had a lot of perks, and I wouldn't mind exploring it further. I would also like to give the Marksman tree another (deeper) look, and also test all the specs on the training dummies. Because all my testing thus far has just been running around the world pewpew'ing mobs. I like to test in a sort of "open field" environment because that is where I will be spending a lot of my time when leveling.

But really, I can't envision myself spec'ing away permanently. My tests have confirmed that, I think. Before, I was sort of wavering. Because some of the stuff in the other trees was finally starting to look really appealing to me. And they still do. But I can't do it, I've gotta fight with my pet. It's like, you know that Digimon Tamers episode where Takato was like "I really really want to fight together with Guilmon!" and then they bio-merged into that super awesome mecha thing?


...okay, never mind >.>

Thursday, October 2, 2008

[WotLK Beta] To Thine Own Self Be Trueshot

Got my quest from the nice Tuskarr guy, leaped down into the area behind him to start my quest, and:

Note: The person in General Chat who says he is a "big game hunter" clearly has his words confused with "a normal person who lives where Pike does and has to deal with the local wildlife."

Gaahh! Dazed and confused and blind. A relog didn't solve the problem so I wound up having to hearth. I'm worried that this might be an OpenGL problem (us Linux folks run the game with OpenGL instead of Direct3D), since I had a similar one with one of the Death Knight starter quests and that's what it turned out to be. But hopefully it's a bug that will be fixed. Hopefully. I reported it to Blizz, anyhow.

However, the point of this post is not silly Beta bugs, rather, it is hunter talent specs. Those of you who looked closely at the screenshot may have noticed something rather decisively un-Pike-like.

Yeah, see the Trueshot Aura?

Today I spec'd 3/51/7. Then went out and shot stuff. (Note: This probably isn't the best level 70 Marksman build. I don't know very much about the Marksman tree. I just sort of winged it =P)

Now, I regret to inform you that I do not have fancy DPS charts or anything to share with you, largely because the way I have always gauged my DPS has been through the use of a group of addons. SWStats + SCT Damage, to be precise. SCT Damage is basically like the game's built-in Scrolling Combat Text except it looks much nicer, in my opinion, and much more importantly it tells you what shot you did next to the floating damage number, or what move your pet used, and in short I find it to be very valuable for getting a good "feel" for my own personal DPS. Sadly, I don't have it in Beta, and without it, it's much harder for me to get a feel for DPS than I thought it would be.

So, I now present to you Pike's Thoughts on the Marksmanship Tree Based on Pure Intuition Which May or May Not Have Merit:

Things I Liked:
- Opening up my character panel and seeing a "zohmygawsh-huge" AP and crit number.
- Trueshot Aura
- Being able to do more than just spam Steady Shot. I said it way back in my spec-testing days of level 50, and I'll say it again: Marksman is the "cool calculating blue" to Beast Mastery's "frantically red hot". You shoot nice and slow as a Marksman hunter, and you can focus on weaving in other shots, and it's pretty neat.

Things I Did Not Like
-Lack of Bestial Wrath
-Lack of Intimidation
-The fact that I really, really wanted to use Readiness with Bestial Wrath and Intimidation, and only with Bestial Wrath and Intimidation, and, um... that would kind of defeat the purpose of Marksmanship and be overly ironic.
-Lack of the four extra talent points for my pet (I honestly missed these more than I initially thought I would.)
-Shooting felt too slow. =[ Serpent's Swiftness is a drug; so sue me. Or arrest me.

I whispered BRK and told him that I was testing Marksman. He said, "Wow, you must be even more sick than you said you were." It was of course in jest, but really, he had a point. I can see the appeal and I'm really happy that my Marksman friends got so much love this time around, but it's just not Pike. It's not me.

Armed with new resolve I gallantly leaped off Scryer's Tier, died (I forgot my horse cannot fly), rez'd, and ran to Stormwind and respec'd to Big-Red-Om-nom-nom-chew-your-face-off-goodness.

Of course, that's not gonna stop me from continuing to test out specs, and try them more thoroughly! Next stop: Survival. Though I am sort of expecting that my "Things I didn't like" list will look frightfully similar to the Marksman list. I'm kind of spoiled I think.

In closing, I now have a Gorilla named G√ľnther. I <3 him dearly. So many pets, so little stable space. FIVE SLOTS IS NOT ENOUGH. Also THERE ARE FOUR LIGHTS. Er, EXTRA PET TALENT POINTS. Or something. /cough

We're All Mad Here

Okay, so I am currently sick with a nasty flu and 101-degree fever, so while anything I say in this blog can and will be used against me, I plead temporary insanity regarding anything in this post.

So yeah, I was thinking it would be fun to have three endgame hunters, one of each spec... then I was thinking... it would be fun to have one hunter for every race that can be a hunter... two down, five to go...

The little voices in my head are telling me I should probably lay down or something. I scoff at them, because I must defend Halaa. For reasons still unknown to science, defending Halaa has become my latest favorite past time. You get near Halaa, you get to meet Big Red Pike. Oh, what's this? I see you have brought a rogue, a warlock, and a resto druid with you! Yeah, bring it, good sirs. I will at least live long enough to annoy you with strategically placed traps and Viper Stings. I see the men coming with straitjackets. Okay, if you need me, I will be curled up with a blanket and a box of tissues. And probably my Nintendo DS.

Or maybe defending Halaa while browsing LFG for instance groups.

*shifty eyes*

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Family that Plays Together...

Hearthstone and Cynra have both recently written excellent pieces on online friendships and their validity. This is a a subject that really hits home to me. You see, my boyfriend and I met online and we know very well what it's like to have an "internet relationship" and the different reactions people can have to something like that.

"So, where did you guys meet? At school?"
"On an online video game forum."

But while it would be really easy for me to play the "Well my boyfriend and I met online and whaddaya know, here we are four years later, end of discussion" card, I'm going to relate this to World of Warcraft because this is, after all, a World of Warcraft blog.

A couple days ago, a group of us what I like to call "Old-School Entelechy" folks all got together in an AIM chat. We're the people who have been around the longest, who have been leveling and questing and instancing with each other since our pre-Outlands days. We're the people who eventually left our guild and, in many ways, have sort of drifted away from what we used to be: we are the people who forged an unbreakable bond and an unforgettable little personal legacy before floating away to focus on characters on different servers (I will not deny that I am at least partially guilty of this), or drifting away from the game entirely.

Anyways, five of us all got in a chat. By sheer coincidence our AIM group makeup was very instance-worthy: myself, two warlocks, our holy pally and our much-loved main tank from back-in-the-day-- the best prot warrior I have ever had the pleasure of DPSing for, and I'm not just saying that-- who has since largely left the game in the admirable name of higher education.

Well what happens when you get five of us old-schoolers in one place, for the first time in a while? We work ourselves into a little frenzy, that's what. We reminisced about crazy stories and tales from our WoW-playing past. We swapped screenshots. We commiserated with each other about how we never really did "finish" Karazhan, as our little group. So that springboarded into us talking about a possible Karazhan "dream-team", plucking together old friends and allies and brainstorming up our ideal raid composition for a one last huzzah before WotLK shows up and changes things.

So there we were just talking and talking about the game and stuff we could do together in the game if we were really serious about it, and who else but our tanky leader to break in and say "Guys. Forget about the game for a minute. I don't miss the game. I miss hanging out with you guys. I miss hanging out with my friends."

And then there was a moment of silence as what he had said sunk in, and we all knew that he was right.

That dream Karazhan run? There is talk of us actually pulling it together. If we did, it would be absolutely incredible. It would consist of people we have worked with and done amazing things with for over a year. People whose strengths and weaknesses we know very intimately which makes for an extremely satisfying experience.

But ya know what? If the dream Karazhan run doesn't come together, that's okay. If more of my friends quit playing or play alts on other servers, it's okay. Because we're still friends. We still have crazy AIM chats. We still have Ventrilo. We still have my boyfriend's forum. We still have a million things that we can talk about that aren't WoW.

And if it does come together, and we finalize a date, I'm going to make sure to take time off of work for it-- chuckle at me if you will, but for me, it's not unusual. For me, it's not "taking a weekend off for a video game". Rather, it is "taking a weekend off for a family reunion".

And that is really what it is about. It's not about the purples. It's about the people that you meet in game who become your comrades and then become your friends.

Don't forget that.

Ask Pike: Answers! Part Three

And here are the last questions from our little Q&A Session:

15. "Hunter Debate?? I say you and me use our blogs to debate some hunter issues and designs!" says Nomakk. While it's a fun thought, firstly I was never good at debates (can I use the term "carebear" here?), and secondly, I worry we may end up agreeing on most things anyway. But then again, I guess we could do playful pet vs. pet showdowns or something. Or some sort of hunter joke contest ("Two hunters walked into a bar. Druid's got 'em LoS'd good.") Guess we'll have to see?

16. "How do you personally undergo character creation when you envision a new character on a roleplaying server? How have you roleplayed a hunter in the past? And what other ways can you envision roleplaying a hunter, especially when you take into account racial tendencies and perceptions?" There are two different ways I start a new character, either I have a sudden flash of inspiration about one that sends me rushing to the character creation screen, or I feel like creating a [race & class] so I go make one with the intent of finding a story as I go. That first one there is usually the one that yields the best results though. I tend to incorporate various aspects of the game into my roleplay, it is often said by people that they can't get into RPing in WoW because of limited game mechanics, me, I find that to be an asset. A favorite technique of mine is to make my character somehow connected to a culture or homeplace that is not their own native one-- that gives you all sorts of opportunities when it comes to getting to exalted, getting a faction mount, getting tabards, etc. It says a lot about a character when they come up to you riding a unique mount and/or sporting a unique tabard, especially when they "match".

Hunters are an interesting class to roleplay because by definition they tend to not hang out with people so much as many other classes. Typically though, I can take one "aspect" of hunters and run with it. Tawyn in her current incarnation has roots of inspiration in Calamity Jane; a bold and fun-loving character who has an almost religious respect for her rifle and who isn't afraid to live life to the fullest. Lunapike is more reserved (though no less intelligent), focusing more on the spiritual aspects of "The Great Hunt". She enjoys learning about the many things the wilderness has to offer (hence her dual gathering profession of skinning/herbalism-- she's a researcher more than a creator). Althalor has a kindred-spirit respect of the creatures of the Barrens, lions in particular. So in a way, with each character, I am taking one aspect of hunters and making it their focus. It is difficult to make just one character the quintessential platonic hunter ideal; it has too rich of a history and is too deep.

Overall I try not to stray too far from a race's lore-given qualities, but still bestow upon my characters a certain uniqueness. It is admittedly a difficult balance to strike sometimes, but it's far from impossible. Different cultures do approach hunting in different ways, as do different individuals.

17. "Are you excited or dissapointed about the changes to owls (or, well, birds of prey) away from being a dps pet with aoe tanking abilities to a cunning pet with a disarm?": In all honesty Tux was always my solo/PvP pet. While the changes mean he may no longer be as good of a solo pet as, say, a rhino, he's still gonna be an epic PvP pet. So I'm pretty happy about things.

18. "Got an idea: a PVP guide for BM hunters. For duels and for arenas. :) Tips & tricks of sorts.": Well a loooong time ago I made a Battlegrounds Guide-- I think it's still fairly helpful even though it was written a.) before the AV change and b.) back when I was still kind of a wee hunterling. For duels, I once wrote a little hunter-on-hunter guide. Arenas are simply not my thing (though some of my buddies are trying to coax me into it again, so we will see). However, this does all still leave out hunter-vs.-[insert non-hunter class] here guides. So, thank you for the suggestion, I will look into that!

19. "I'd also like to know which pet in Wrath that you prefer. How will you you spending your first few days in Northrend? What color are your underpants?": Which pet I will be using in Wrath, I am still unsure of. I imagine I will be switching between all my pets. Granted that may make it really, really hard to keep them up to an even level with me-- so we'll have to see. I am looking forward to Tawyn & Tux together again, although it's hard to argue against the rhino.

My first few days in Northrend-- also unsure. I imagine the starting areas up there will be super hectic a la Isle of Quel'danas. I've considered focusing on lowbies for the first week or so for the mayhem to die down, but I also think a lot of people will be planning on doing that so really, if you want to wait for the mayhem to die down, I think you'll have to wait a while. Besides, I do look forward to all the shiny new Northrend stuff. So-- we'll see what happens.

I have different colors of underwear thank you very much. Mostly white though. Yeah, I'm boring.


(No really, once I was grouped with a hunter who rolled need on it.)

21. (paraphrased) "Recommendations on just-turned-70 weapons and gear?" I cannot tell you enough how much I love and recommend this guide. I am going to mail Zeisha chocolate-chip cookies, I swear. To quote the last post in the thread so far which happens to have been written by some huntard chick named Tawyn, "I just got my second hunter to 70 and it's just as much of a lifesaver the second time around as it was the first." Seriously, bookmark and love that guide.

If you want a slightly more personal response: I went with the PvP crossbow on Tawyn and it's not a bad choice, but in all honesty it's a little slow for a BM weapon and the battlegrounds grind was looooong to the point of being painful (and you know me, I love battlegrounds, so that's really saying a lot.) I know everybody and their dog has Valanos but it's really not a bad bet, nor are some pretty good ones you can get out of five-mans that will last you until Karazhan.

As for other gear, get thee to Shadow Labs and run the place silly until Sonic Spear drops. The hunter gods like to use this one as a test of extreme faith and patience so be prepared to live here until you finally get it. It took Tawyn countless tries to get hers and Lunapike ran it twice in a row yesterday with no luck, but it is worth it. Until then, Crystalforged War Axe is usually pretty cheap on the AH, or you can do like I do and run around with Survivalist's Pike enchanted with +35 agi. But then again, I'm kinda extreme and am willing to throw hundreds of gold into agility enchants at every chance I can.

and lastly...

22. "Yo Pike, I was wondering if you might be willing to address the issue of makeouts in your blog, and whether or not you would have them with me." Ah yes, makeouts. Serious business indeed. The problem is that you, my friend, currently have a monopoly on Pike-makeouts as it is. Moderation in all things* eh?

...including moderation. /sexy Spock eye-brow quirk

OKAY, there ya go! Everything you ever wanted to know about Pike answered. Maybe. If you want to know more, you'll have to wait for the next "Ask Pike" post. Scary proposition that there might be another, eh?

And now I will stop destroying you with walls of text that have scared countless readers off. G'night everyone!

*this phrase does not apply to rolling more hunters.