Thursday, February 28, 2008

Talent Show

My experience with other classes is certainly not extensive enough to be able to say this with complete surety, but it seems to me that hunters, more so than other classes, are very spec-specific. Think of your average Joe R. Hunter (where R stands for "raiding") and think of his probable talent spec. 41/20/0, 0/41/20, 0/20/41, 0/31/30. Maybe a coupla 40/21/0 and 0/21/40 thrown in for Scatter Shot and good measure.

Now, this definitely isn't to say that there aren't other good specs out there (in fact, I'll address that at the end of my post) but this seems to be what you will see, most of the time. It just seems like that typical end-game hunter strategy is to grab those 20 key points in the Marks tree and then spread from there. I think, however, that what you do with your other 41 points (or even those "key 20 Marks points") can really vary depending on personal preference and what you want.

Here, I'll use my own current spec as an example:

Let me talk about what I've picked and why I've picked them, and why my overall talent spec is largely personal preference... and probably different from your personal preference.


Pretty standard cookie-cutter 41/20/0 build at first glance. Typically considered by most to currently be the highest DPS hunter spec in the game, although there are a lot of disputes about whether or not this is actually true, especially when really, really nicely-geared Marks or Survival hunters are involved.

I personally chose Beast Mastery because I find it appealing from an emotional and aesthetic standpoint (geeky, no?); the DPS bonus is some very tasty icing on the cake though.

Beast Mastery:

5/5 Improved Aspect of the Hawk: Has a chance to increase your ranged attack speed by 15% for 12 seconds. This is awesome. It's like squeezing bonus ranks out of Serpent's Swiftness. Obviously this is proc-dependent so it's not always reliable, and if you prefer to run around with, say, Aspect of the Viper up, then this might not be such a good choice for you. But overall I see this as a must-have for me. (Little secret: I am madly in love with the little WHOOSH noise that it makes when it procs and the little picture that pops above your head. That's another big reason I always take this talent.) Warning: there is the possibility that it will mess up your shot rotation, but I've never had an issue with this.

2/5 Endurance Training: Yeah it's maybe a little silly to have these two points here, but I still do a lot of grinding and stuff-- with DPS pets, no less-- so they can use all the staying power that they can get. Note: In my little opinion, 5/5 in this talent is pretty much mandatory for leveling. All my leveling hunters get 5/5 Endurance Training; they can respec later.

2/2 Focused Fire: 20% Kill Command crit is amazing. That's really all I have to say about that.

2/3 Thick Hide
: See my comments for Endurance Training. Again, I would recommend a full 3/3 for leveling BM hunters.

5/5 Unleashed Fury
: Increases your pet's damage output, pretty straightforward.

2/2 Improved Mend Pet
: A lot of people I know do not put points in this and I have to admit it sort of baffles me. I don't think I could live without this talent. This is one of the things that got me to respec from Marks in the first place. Picture this: You're attacking something and your pet gets Faerie Fire or some other debuff that completely demolishes their armor/stamina/attack power/whatever. Whatcha gonna do about it? ...Improved Mend Pet, that's what! Oh, and the mana cost reduction is fantastic too.

5/5 Ferocity: Increases your pet's crit. More pet crits = More Ferocious Inspiration for you (er, for me, anyway). This one's a given.

: This is the "Who comes to the rescue when the tank falls down" talent, to quote a line from Hootie the Strigid Screecher. Is your pet a replacement for the main tank? Oh, heck no. But if the boss a five-man is getting to end of his rope, something happens to the tank, and it's your pet or the healer-- this is when your pet comes to the rescue. Usually the healer realizes that your pet is the new tank and will plant enough heals on him to, if things go well, finish off the fight. Locke has successfully tanked both the last boss in Hellfire Ramparts and the last boss in Escape from Durnholde Keep in this fashion. Oh, and this talent is of course the gateway for some awesome talents down the road.

1/2 Bestial Discipline: One of my big personal goals is to have Ferocious Inspiration up 100% of the time. One of the ways I achieve this is to dump a bunch of focus onto my pet, so he has more chances to use Claw, which will hopefully crit. At this point in time, my crit is high enough that when I'm completely buffed and ready-to-roll, I can usually keep Locke or Tux full of focus with Go for the Throat, but there are always those long "droughts" where you won't crit for a while and 1/2 Bestial Discipline helps act as a safety buffer. Note: I would seriously consider going 2/2 here if I were using a Windserpent or something, because of Lightning Breath (costing more focus than Claw).

2/2 Animal Handler: This isn't quite so important pre-level-70, but basically this is your only way to increase your pet's chance to hit, which is going to be very needed in harder instances and raids. More hits = more chances to crit = more guaranteed Ferocious Inspiration.

4/5 Frenzy: Makes your pet attack faster. Again, more hits = more chances to crit = more guaranteed Ferocious Inspiration. You may have noticed I only have four points in this talent. A lot of hunters do that. I'm not one who's much for math or theorycrafting myself, but I do recall reading somewhere that 4/5 Frenzy is just as good as 5/5 Frenzy and in my experience that seems to hold out to be true. I love having an extra point to play with, so 4/5 it is.

3/3 Ferocious Inspiration
: This is one of my very favorite talents and I put a lot of hard work into spec'ing myself and my pet so that this is up near-continuously. This increases the attack power of everyone in your party by 3%, and this works on melee, ranged, and magical attacks. 3% may not seem like a lot, but it adds up. And I just love the idea of it.

Bestial Wrath: This is a given; who doesn't want to watch that big red pet doing almost as much DPS as you while being immune to most everything?

5/5 Serpent's Swiftness: I think this is possibly the talent that makes BM the powerhouse spec that it is. This is what defines the BM shot rotation (Steady Shot/Auto Shot/Kill Command) and allows us to out-DPS a lot of Marksman hunters who are hitting harder, but slower. So... yeah. This is a given.

The Beast Within: Some people prefer Scatter Shot; myself, I like having what is almost the equivalent to a "second PvP trinket". This is the Warlock-buster. Oh, and the Warrior's hamstring/Rogue's poison/etc.-buster. =P


For the most part, you will see these 20 points on pretty much every end-game hunter. There is one debate though, that I will get to in a second:

5/5 Lethal Shots
: Crit is good.

5/5 Improved Hunter's Mark: This is where there's a divide. A lot of hunters-- most, I think-- would rather have 5/5 Efficiency. Myself-- I'm an Improved Hunter's Mark fan. What it does is buff the melee attack power of everyone who is attacking whatever you've marked, whether they're in your party or not. This buffs your pet and it buffs anybody who uses melee attacks. I have always been one who enjoys helping out the party as much as I can, and being able to provide a 110-attack-power-bonus to people is almost like having my own little Trueshot Aura. Also, I have never been in a situation thus far where I've wished I'd taken Efficiency instead. I know, I know, a lot of you are probably saying "Just wait until you start raiding!" And I understand that, and if the need arises to take Efficiency instead, then I will. But at this point I haven't needed it. I would rather be buffing the attack power of my pet and the tank and the rogues and other hunter's pets and the feral druids, than giving myself a few extra Steady Shots before I have to pot. But that's just me. =P

2/2 Go for the Throat: This generates a lot of focus for your pet and in my mind is a must-have talent.

Aimed Shot
: I really only use this against healers in PvP (paladins mostly), but it's the prerequisite for another awesome talent.

Rapid Killing: The best place to toss those two extra points you need in this talent tier; it gives you a little boost if you are killing things quickly and shaves some time off of the gigantic Rapid Fire cooldown.

5/5 Mortal Shots
: Increases the damage that your crits do. <3 big crits.

Well, there you go. That is why Pike specs the way she does. It's not a perfect spec. But it meeds my own personal needs, and that is what talent specs are supposed to do-- fit an individual's needs. This is why I don't think there is "one spec to rule them all", and this is why I make an effort not to judge somebody based on their Armory profile.

Lemme tell you a story quick, and then I'll let you go, since this post is long enough already!

One of my friends has a level 70 hunter alt. Because this hunter is an alt, he's not all that geared. He has a level 64 green helmet of the Bandit; he has Valanos' Longbow without the scope and overall he's just in quest gear. He has a solid but not exactly cookie-cutter BM spec.

Guess what happens when he, I, and another hunter in Season 1 PvP gear all go into battlegrounds? Guess who, without fail, tops the damage done and the killing blows and the honorable kills at the end?

I'll give you a hint. It's not me. And it's not Season-1-gear-hunter either.

It's Mr. Green Helmet.

He is the only hunter I have played against so far who can beat me in a 1-on-1 hunter duel up to about five levels higher than me (that is to say, other hunters who attack me on my RP-PvP server hordie, cannot beat me unless they have over five levels on me.)

The last time we dueled it was in the Stranglethorn Arena to make things dramatic, and we had a little guildie audience too. There I was, completely decked out in blues and purples and with everything enchanted to the brim. Savagery on my Sonic Spear and +10 damage on my Gladiator's Heavy Crossbow. And there he was in quest blues and greens.

He won.

He had about 100 hit points left when I fell. He told me afterwards that if I'd used Serpent Sting, I would've won. And he's right. But the fact is that I failed to use Serpent Sting and thus he won fair and square.

I haven't a clue how he does it. Somehow he manages to work magic in PvP. He's told me he feels much the same way about me in PvE, he says he doesn't think he could ever pull off what I do in instances. This is very flattering, but it still completely blows my mind that he's working his magic in quest greens.

The hunter I have the most respect for isn't some T6 hunter with Illidan on farm. The hunter I have the most respect for isn't in complete season 3 arena armor with some incredible rating. No, the hunter I have the most respect for is wearing a green helmet of the Bandit and only has one point in Frenzy.

Armory profiles aren't everything. Gear isn't always everything. Spec isn't always everything. You spec the way that is best for you, because you know your playstyle the best. The results may surprise you.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Boyfriend Made a Funny

"So when a moonkin kills you, is that death by natural causes?"

...and because I don't have anything else to add to that, really, here is a picture of poor Level-41-Tawyn quite befuddled at some of the strange things that happen in Goldshire sometimes.

You silly druids!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Ol' Switcheroo

So you all know that I have a level 70 hunter. Ja?

Well, my boyfriend has a level 70 warlock. So now you know that, too, if you hadn't already!

Anyways. Today we were talking and at the time he was doing schoolwork and I was on my blood-elf-guy who I adore playing, and I was talking about how I, at level 13, had succeeded at taking on and killing three level 14 mobs at the same time by DPS'ing one down quick and then having my pet tank one (and with a Serpent Sting planted on him) while I kited the third. And we began talking about how really my success there had largely been dependent on the fact that I already know how to play a hunter. And then we began talking about what it would be like if maybe he rolled a lowbie warlock and if it would be the same experience for him, or if it was more of a hunter thing.

And then... I don't even remember which one of us came up with the idea... but one of us said "You know... we should level each other's class". I.e., I would level a warlock and he would level a hunter. And the other one of us very quickly agreed that this was a fantastic idea, and we both went immediately over to yet another new RP server (Sisters of Elune) and pretty soon we had our level one characters ready. We ran them to Durotar where there are both warlock and hunter trainers, and we've agreed that we will only play these characters with each other.

They got to level four tonight.

That's my boyfriend, the tauren hunter, and yours truly, the undead warlock.

Now we've both tried to level each other's class before. He has a level four-ish night elf hunter and I've got a level four-ish gnome warlock, but we both made the characters strictly for RP purposes and then sort of tried to level them on our own, and basically we decided that we didn't like the other's class. But this time it's different. This time we're doing it together and we've got the other right there for advice and help. I trust his warlockeryness, and he trusts my hunteryness, and right off the bat we're giving each other all sorts of handy advice. I have no idea how far we're going to get these characters but I'm very excited for this little project already.

He's doing pretty good, even if I often catch him popping into melee mode when the mob runs up, because he's not the best kiter yet. But I'm a forgiving teacher/girlfriend! =P


See the guy on the left? Tux and I got him down to 85%-ish percent. That's not bad, right? Well on our way to being able to solo Molten Core, right? ;P

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Special Announcement!

This is post number 100 in Aspect of the Hare.

This blog began in August of last year, when I had only been playing for a few months and was just level 48 or 50 or so. I realized that I was spamming my Livejournal with WoW rambles and decided I needed a new place to put them. So I started this blog and began posting my WoW rambles here, convinced that nobody would ever read them or even want to read them. In fact, now that I think about it, it probably would have turned into another one of my unfinished projects: I'd write for a while and then quit, and nobody would notice.

And yet here I am; six months later and level 70, and I've made 100 posts and Feedburner tells me I have no less than 149 subscribers. I have no idea if that's accurate or not but regardless, I'm here to thank you all. Thank you to everyone who has ever linked to me or read my posts or commented on my posts or came here from Google searching for hunter advice or WoW-On-Linux advice. I have read every single one of your comments. I don't always respond to them, but I read them all thoroughly and I cherish every compliment and take to heart every bit of advice.

I have no idea why you guys find my ramblings so interesting or entertaining, but thank you.

Here I would also like to throw out a special shout-out to Kestrel for being the first person to ever comment here. Kestrel, I'm not sure how you found me-- I'm gonna guess through my Blogger profile link in a comment at BRK, or something-- but really, look what you did! All of a sudden I seem to be popular! =P Thank you for showing me that I was in fact a not-too-terrible blogger and inspiring me to branch out and really start to participate in the WoW-blog-community.

The other day my boyfriend and I were talking a little bit about some of the awkwardness that comes with the transition between a "casual-hanging out" guild and a "casual-raiding" guild; my main's guild is going through that transition right now and I won't deny it's been a little awkward to have to go from being "the guild's main hunter" to "one of several good hunters in the guild". I've been spoiled, I think, and I have to keep reminding myself that I am no longer one of the few people around that can do my job, and that it's not a bad thing.

But lemme paraphrase what I told him last night. I said: "In the end, I don't have to be the best hunter on the server, or even the best hunter in the guild. I just want to be the girl who loved her class the most and made the most of it. If I can do that, then I will have succeeded."

And I mean every word of that. And my blog is like that too. This isn't here to be the most informative blog or the funniest blog or the most popular blog. This is here so passers-by can stop by for a bit, take a deep breath, and re-experience a little of that joy and magic that I feel so often in this game. There are a lot of little things in this game that make me happy. And I want to share that happiness with you. Because too often we get caught up in drama or problems or making the game less fun than it's supposed to be. And if one of my posts has reminded somebody for just a split second, "Hey, this game can actually be pretty fun!" ...well, then I've done my job.

I sat down with a pencil and paper for the first time in a while today:

It's sketchy and unfinished, but I kinda like it that way. Tawyn, Tux, and Locke all say "Thank you".

Now, on to the next 100 posts!

*tosses confetti*

Friday, February 22, 2008

Hunter The Thirteenth

So after waxing poetic about all my hunters in my previous post, what did I do? I went and made another one, obviously.

Althalor the Level 7 Blood Elf Hunter.

Male Blood Elf Hunter.

Now some 95% of my characters are female, because I am female too, and I feel most comfortable "getting into" my characters when we are the same gender. After a while I started branching out and playing male gnomes, and now I've got me a male belf.

And I am enjoying playing him faaaaaaar more than I thought I would, especially since I've never been a huge blood elf fan.

But. I love his animations. I love his voice. I love the way he looks in the [Festive Teal Pant Suit]. And I absolutely adore the way his ears go all boingy-boingy when he runs. Actually I have a confession to make here. Not too long ago it occurred to me that I seem to have some sort of long ear fetish. Growing up (and still today) I have always been drawn to animals with long ears-- rabbits, bilbies, and of course hares, my "mascot" animal. I grew up watching Star Trek and I loved Spock and the Vulcans. I collect Pikachu toys. In D&D I usually wanted to play elves or half-elves and now that I look back on it I think that it's not because they're graceful and athletic and all that-- but because they had those freakish ears. My main character in WoW is Tawyn, a Night Elf, and I am so jealous of her ears. I wish I had long ears like that. It would be so awesome. I want to be her for Halloween just so I have an excuse to put on some fake elf ears.


So yeah, sorry about that tangent. Now that I've scared away half of my readership I'll continue where I left off:

Above all though, I love my new character's personality and backstory. You will notice from the picture that he is in Mulgore. He has a very good reason for that. I cannot wait to develop this further.

I love inventing new characters. I think it might be my favorite part of the game.

...but then again, these days anytime I make a blog post, I say something like "[Some completely random aspect of WoW] is my favorite part of the game!" So maybe I should make a song:

Running heroics and downing the last boss
Roleplaying and using up all my toon slots

Big Steady Shot crits and winning AV

These are a few of my favorite things

When the raid wipes

When my traps break

When I'm feeling sad

I simply remember my favorite things

And then I don't feeeeel so bad!

The downside to having so many character ideas, of course, is that I give myself far too many characters to play, so many of them wind up getting neglected, even if I didn't intend them to at all. I almost need to make some sort of playing schedule for myself. Hmm, that's not a bad plan, really...

In closing, I leave you all with my new favorite YouTube movie. No, it most certainly did not put tears in my eyes. /scoffs at the notion



Tuesday, February 19, 2008

My hunters. Let me show you them.

So it's no secret that I love hunters.

But... just how much do I love those hunters?

Hmm. Let's take a peeksie at my toons. I count a grand total of 28 characters, across 12 servers. Now let's meet my hunters. In no particular order...

Level 70 Night Elf Hunter
Server: Silver Hand (RP)
Pets: Tux the Owl, Locke the Cat
Notes: Ah Tawyn. She was my first character and as such she will always be my favorite. Not much to say about her simply because this blog focuses far more on her adventures than anyone else's... so you can go read up on her anytime!
Current Status: Main

Shantizar the First
Level 12 Troll Hunter
Server: Silver Hand (RP)
Pets: Scraps the Cat (this is a personal in-joke. "Scraps the Cat" is the name of a cartoon character I invented some 14 years ago.)
Notes: I wanted to play Horde. I wanted to make a hunter. I love trolls. Shantizar was born.
Current Status: On hold until I have more time

Level 16 Dwarf Hunter
Server: Silver Hand (RP)
Pets: Clifford the (soon to be) Big Red Dog
Notes: I wanted to make a dwarf hunter and I wanted a wolf named Clifford. I also wanted a character on the same server as my main that I could play if I... didn't feel like dealing with my main. This character is super fun and is not played enough.
Current Status: Casual alt

Level 9 Orc Hunter
Server: Dark Iron (PvP)
Pets: None yet
Notes: My brother and a bunch of my friends all play Horde on Dark Iron. Pretty much as soon as I got the game, they ambushed me and got me to make a character there. I made a Blood Elf Paladin who I got to level 16 before giving up. I didn't play on that server for a while but eventually they once again convinced me to try playing there again. I figured I would have the best shot at not giving up if I rolled a hunter, so... I did.
Current Status: Retired until further notice

Level 14 Tauren Hunter
Server: Dark Iron (PvP)
Pets: Charisma the Cat
Notes: See above but I decided I liked taurens more than orcs because I'm silly like that. Also I thought that putting an "e" at the end of my main's name would inspire me to keep playing the character. Turns out I simply have a hard time playing on non-RP servers. Hey, you can't say I didn't try, at least!
Current Status: Retired until further notice

Level 13 Tauren Hunter
Server: Moon Guard (RP)
Pets: Unnamed Owl
Notes: This character actually started out on Silver Hand and then all my character slots on Silver Hand filled up and I wanted to make a new character there... so I transferred this hunter to Moon Guard because I heard the RP there is awesome and I wanted to check it out. (Yes, I paid $25 to transfer a level 13 character. Don't laugh. I get attached, okay? >.>) I actually have hardly played this character since the transfer but I really want to at some point.
Current Status: On hold until I have more time

Level 2 Dwarf Hunter
Server: Drenden (PvE)
Pets: None Yet
Notes: The mandatory female dwarf hunter that I made to say hi to BRK. But then I chickened out and decided he probably didn't want to be bothered so I failed to ever even whisper him. I simply stalk his blog now. /cough
Current Status: Retired until further notice


Level 2 Blood Elf Hunter
Server: Drenden (PvE)
Pets: None Yet
Notes: So after chickening out, I figured so long as I was on the server I'd might as well make a new type of hunter that I'd never tried before. So I made a female blood elf hunter. I quit at level 2 for the most shallow reason in history. Ready for it? ... the bow-firing animation drove me insane. I don't know why. I can't even remember what it looked like. All I remember is that I hated it. I am horrible, no? Anyways, I'm sort of feeling the urge to try making a male blood elf hunter next time. Because the guy blood elves are... kinda cute. (Pike, did you just pull the female version of "I play a girl night elf so I can look at a cute butt?" ... yes. Yes I did. I am not afraid to admit it. =D)
Current Status: Retired until further notice

Level 47 Tauren Hunter
Server: The Venture Co. (RP-PvP)
Pets: Alyosha the Cat, Ivan the Windserpent, Dmitri the (insert current experimental pet here)
Notes: This character started out on Wildhammer, a PvP server where some of my friends and their awesome guild were. I got up to level 27 or 28 or so but as much as I was enjoying the Horde side of the storyline, I simply was not enjoying not being on an RP server. So the character was shelved for a little bit. Eventually the guild sort of imploded and most of its members went their separate ways and I took the opportunity to transfer to an RP-PvP server and I haven't looked back. I love playing this character and she will be my second level 70.
Current Status: Horde Main/Main Alt

Level 4 Tauren Hunter
Server: Anvilmar (PvE)
Pets: None Yet
Notes: This character was made specifically to partake in a certain project brainstormed up by Ess. A bunch of us bloggers get together to hang out and level together. Unfortunately I am really really slacking here but... I'll try to log on more!
Current Status: Heir to the throne of "I need to play this character more"

Shantizar the Second

Level 14 Troll Hunter
Server: Shadow Council (RP)
Pets: Niels (the) Boar
Notes: This is my Survival hunter. I'd like to think she's the character I focus on most after Tawyn and Lunapike but really only time will tell because I just started her.
Current Status: Full-fledged Alt

Level 6 Draenei Hunter
Server: Maelstrom (RP-PvP)
Pets: None yet
Notes: This character was made for two reasons: firstly, I wanted to have at least one hunter of every race and I didn't have a draenei yet, and secondly, now that I've played Horde on an RP-PvP server I decided it was time to give my birth faction (hehe) a shot on an RP-PvP server. Actually she had been hanging out at level 4 until very very recently, when I resurrected her because I know how to kite and jumpshot now (THANK YOU BRK!!! EVERYBODY GO WATCH HIS MOVIES GOGOGO) so pre-pet hunters are now surprisingly superfun.
Current Status: Unknown; hoping to develop her into a Casual Alt

12 of my 28 toons are hunters.
That means approximately 42.8% of characters that I make are hunters.
If you added up the levels of all my hunters and made them one entity, you would get one big level 209 hunter.
The average level of my hunters is: 17
The average level of my non-hunters is: 8

My five highest leveled characters are:
Tawyn (Level 70 hunter)
Lunapike (Level 47 hunter)
Ralaenia (Level 21 mage)
Katlaina (Level 16 hunter)/Aellindria (Level 16 paladin) (tied)

Paladin and mage are the only two non-hunter classes I have ever gotten to level 11 or higher., what do you guys think? Am I a little crazy? Obsessed? Not obsessed enough? ...I like that last option.

Why don't you come back in a few months and we'll see how many more hunters I've created/leveled.

Monday, February 18, 2008

And so it begins...

Finally got around to doing Black Morass and nabbing the vaunted key to Karazhan. We sort of waited around until we had a good-sized group of us in the guild who needed it, and today was one of the rare days lately where schedules didn't clash and we had four of us who needed the key, so we grabbed a fifth person and off we went to what was overall a very smooth run of BM, free of any deaths or major problems. I was on "adds duty" and I got a lot of praise for my job as such, so I must've done better than I thought I would, which is always a plus!

Afterwards we all rushed off to Shattrath and then all the way back to Azeroth and Deadwind Pass to finally nab ourselves [The Master's Key].

Now, you gotta understand something here. Of the five of us, three of us, myself included, had never once set foot inside Karazhan. The fourth had only been inside once and only for one boss, and the fifth had been inside multiple times but never before on this character or even character type (his two other characters are a warlock and a mage; this character is a holy pally.)

So what did we do?

We converted the group to a raid and went inside, of course.

(Insert screenshot here that I should have taken but completely forgot to! =P)

There were some level 71 elite horses that we decided to have some fun with because we were feeling a bit giddy. So that's exactly what we did. Pulled some horses and disposed of them. I even chain-trapped one, which normally isn't a big deal because I do that all the time but this is Kara, after all.

After a couple pulls we were sort of discussing it and came to the conclusion that the mobs so far seemed to be of a comparable difficulty level to the mobs in a Heroic. And as a guild, we've got a few Heroics under our collective belt.

So that's when somebody said "Hey, let's see if we can grab five other people and take the first boss."

So there we were, with that carrot dangling in our faces, and it was as four of the five of us were drooling over the carrot when my boyfriend, who also happens to be the guild leader, spoke up. He said that he had made this guild and leveled up with this guild and become good friends with the people in this guild and he wanted his first Karazhan run to be a guild/good-friends-of-the-guild run. And at the time we certainly did not have enough people in the guild who would be ready to jump into Kara with us.

And we all sort of agreed and reluctantly pushed that tasty carrot aside and left Karazhan. For now.

See, lemme talk about my guild for a bit. I'm sure I've mentioned this before in the past, but I'm gonna say it again. We have a pretty large guild, 120-something characters and 70+ accounts, and we are largely comprised of people who are newer to the game or who are at least new to getting a character to 70. These are people I leveled with. People who learned the game with me. People who have never done this end-game stuff before... just like me. We're all in this together.

I know of a lot of people who are in some big huge guild and they get ushered through Karazhan by the big boys the day after they hit 70 and come out of the other end all shiny and geared. I'm not trying to say that's a bad way to do it, but that's not how I would want to do it. I like the fact that my guild and I are doing it the old fashioned way. A year behind, yes. But that's not the point. We worked our way through the 50s and 60s doing instances together. We learned how to work together as a very unified team. We started doing some heroics and we have done very well on them, if I might say so myself, largely because we have that unity and experience with each other.

Most of us have never been in Karazhan before (except for today's little tour of the entryway). We haven't done end-game before. We don't know what we're doing. This is a big first for us. And it's going to be hard and we're going to get dirty and there is a lot of work ahead of us. And we are going to learn so much. And I can't wait.

We have a lot of people in the guild who are in their 50s or 60s or who are 70 and still need to get geared/keyed. And we agreed that we are going to start concentrating on helping those people get ready. It might take a few weeks. It might take more than that. But we will do it, and then we will have more than enough people for a ten-man raid and we'll trust each other and be able to work as a team because that's how we've been doing it all along.

It sometimes amazes me how much of a role WoW has had in teaching me how to be a team player. We're allowed to say this in job interviews, right? You know, when they ask you the inevitable "Tell me a story of when you had to work as a group" question. I can talk about WoW, right? I might get some funny looks, but hey...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Puttin' Your Shoulder to the Wheel

So I'm sure most of us have been there: ahead of you, for as far as the eye can see, are approximately a million and a half elementals, ogres, or blood elves, and you're there to destroy every last one of them (unless someone else gets to them first) as a way to grind rep, motes, cloth, or what-have-you.

Now I imagine different hunters have different approaches to this. There are a lot of people, I'm sure, who will send their pet in to a mob, pop Mend Pet and Autoshot, and then alt+tab to play Desktop Tower Defense or go make lunch or something. This is one of the beauties of being a hunter, and also one of the aspects of it that I have this tendency to avoid-- not because it's wrong, but because it's just not exciting enough. So then you have hunters like yours truly who run up to every mob as though it were some raid boss that I'm trying to solo and go all out. Intimidate, Bestial Wrath, full-on Steady Shots and Kill Commands, trinkets, and... OHCRAPIGOTSAGGROAGAIN and OHCRAPI'MOUTOFMANAAGAIN.

This, friends, seems to happen to me more frequently than I'd like when I'm trying to grind. I'm not a very good learner apparently.

My co-host Illidan has a few words to say on this as well. Illy?

Yes, I know. /cry

Fortunately there is a way to strike a balance between auto-shot grinding and hardcore-hunter-mode grinding. Here's how I do it:

Basically I focus on two things here: keeping aggro on the pet, and keeping your mana up. This ensures that you will hardly have any downtime and you will be able to get a lot done in a short amount of time.

- Aspect of the Viper. I'll be honest; this one hurts and stings. Because I loooove me my Aspect of the Hawk. I love it much. But let's face it: Viper is handy. It helps us regen mana, and it helps us so we don't overpower the pet and grab aggro from him. It is my Aspect of Choice when grinding.

- [Power Infused Mushroom]. This is obtainable from an Underbog quest and it's a very lovely grinding trinket. Basically it means that whenever you kill something that would yield experience or honor, you get 200 mana. 200 mana may not sound like much, but it adds up. I'll usually swap out [Abacus of Violent Odds] for this thing, this further nerfs my attack power just a little bit which also helps to keep aggro on my pet, as Viper does.

- [Blackflight Arrows] are a lot cheaper than some of the better ammo which I usually like to carry around with me. They don't do quite as much damage but again, that's fine: your DPS does not matter when you are merely grinding for cash or rep. And again, aggro on the pet is good.

- [Sporeling Snacks]: Whether or not you want to use these is probably sort of dependent on how easy they are for you to make or obtain. For me, they pop up in the guild bank pretty frequently thanks to some of our crazy cooking fanatics so I usually have a nice supply. (And I do toss 10g or so into the bank anytime I take some-- a tip, if you will.) More stamina and spirit on the pet means less downtime between mobs. You may opt for [Kibler's Bits] instead if you have a pet that has a lot of armor/stam but needs a damage and threat boost.

- Using Intimidation and Bestial Wrath when they are available. I usually only use one at a time, per mob.

Well, that's how I do it. That's how I typically manage to maintain minimal downtime between mobs or aggro issues, while still being able to at least do some huntery stuff: Steady Shot + Kill Command is a very close friend of mine and I could never bring myself to shrug it off for Autoshot spam, even if it's just grinding.

There are some things I'll do to make the grind more fun or interesting; these include taking on more than one mob at once so I can practice chain trapping one while still focusing on the other, working on leveling a pet, using [Noggenfogger Elixirs] or [Dartol's Rod of Transformation] (if you manually weave your shots as I do, it's a heck of a fun challenge to try and do it without animations, as you will in furbolg form), and putting on music. I have no musical taste so I usually end up grinding to cheesy 90s electropop, and I love it. But do what works best for you.

...Hmm. I am feeling the urge to go play Desktop Tower Defense now. I used to be really good at that game, but then they changed it and added a bunch of new stuff and I turned into a jaded oldschooler who refuses to get with the program. Young whippersnappers!

...*goes to play it*

Friday, February 15, 2008

Roleplayers Gone Wild

So what happens when a rather motley crew of roleplayers shows up in Moonglade to have an in-character Guild Lunar Festival Party... and then somebody randomly announces that a certain boss has been summoned?

Yep. We downed him.

To fully appreciate this you have to realize that about half of our little raid group consisted of people from levels 40-60. The other half were people in their 60s and a smattering of 70s. None of our healers was a higher level than 60, and that level 60 healer was spec'd Boomkin at the time.

We were completely and thoroughly unorganized, because we had no idea we were going to be doing this; people had been thrown into random groups without regard to party buffs, in fact nobody had any buffs of any kind really. There was conveniently a graveyard very close by, so the typical strategy was to do as much damage as you could before the AoE inevitably caught you off guard and killed you, at which point you would wait two minutes to rez and then rinse and repeat. It wasn't long before everyone's armor started getting shot so we started taking shifts running to the nearest repair guy and running back.

And yet somehow, after what I swear took no less than a half hour, our scraggly little group of roleplayers pulled it off. It helped that we had our ever-so-amazing pre-Kara-geared tank, who did not even die a single time, thanks to our ridiculously talented sub-level-60 healers.

We failed to get the quest beforehand, but honestly, I couldn't care less about that. Being on Ventrilo with the whole group, cheering and squealing at the end and congratulating and complimenting everybody and simply being so giddy and high on our guild's first little "raid victory", was worth far more than any possible quest reward.

I cannot wait to start raiding.

(Oh, did I mention Tux didn't die a single time? I musta died 5 or 6 times; Tux never once hit the bucket before I did though, Omen's Starfall be darned. I'm proud of my boy. *ruffles his headfeathers*)

Just A Little Personal Victory

If you are Alliance, and I am Horde, and we run across each other on an RP-PvP server...

If we are about the same level, or if you are a higher level, I will fight you.

If you are blatantly attacking a fellow Hordie or a horde NPC or town, I will fight you. (About ten minutes prior to this I went and took care of a level 50 night elf hunter who was harassing Crossroads.)

If you make rude gestures at me or are otherwise acting annoying I'll probably fight you.

But if I am level ?? to you, and you are all alone, and you are being polite... I will hug you. And then mount up and continue on my way.

Because you never know when you might run across someone who just might be a real bone-fide roleplayer, and those are scarce, even on roleplaying realms.

I like to think I had a really neat little in-character moment today. And those are some of my favorite moments in WoW.

I am a geek, and a carebear, and I like it that way.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's All About the Balance

The current topic flying around the WoW blogosphere is "How do you balance WoW and real life?" I've seen this issue addressed in a few places; I know Trackhoof has covered it, as has Softthistle and Alda. (I keep seeing that last name there as "ALSA" which is a Linux sound thing. Forgive my geekism! /beg) And in the time it's taken me to write this article, another one has popped up at She Rolls Horde. Apologies if I'm missing anyone!

Anyways my own answer to this topic has been stewing in my head for a little while now, largely because, to be honest, I often have no idea how I manage to pull off maintaining a balance. How the heck am I juggling the dozen or so characters I have that I consider "active" and my job and my family and my friends and housechores and so much else?

Okay, let's break this down.

A Day In The Life of Pike:

Work Day:

4:45am: Up and out of bed. Feed my guinea pigs, get ready for work and grab some breakfast. While eating breakfast I'll typically check my e-mail, catch up with my Livejournal friends, and read a WoW blog or two (or three, or four... I'm a fast reader)

: Out the door and in my car.

6:00am - 2:00pm: Work!

: Arrive home after work. Take a nice, long shower. When you work at a pet store, specifically in the pet care department, you will come home covered in cricket guts, fish guano, hamster fur, and bird poop. It's just unavoidable. The shower is a must. (My parents' dog thinks my work pants are a tasty delicacy, however.)

3:00pm - 4:00pm
: Checking the e-mail, the Livejournal friends list, the personal online forum my friends and I hang out at, the news headlines to see if there is anything going on that is marginally interesting to me (my definition of "marginally interesting" ensures I really only see the oddball or geek news, like the new Star Wars animated movie), and of course, checking Google Reader for updates on my ever-expanding blogroll. Sometimes I'll work on a blog entry here.

4:00pm: This is typically when I log onto WoW. It used to be I would log into Tawyn and hang out on her for basically the rest of the night. These days-- within this past month or so-- I am much more apt to log into one of my alts at this point. Occasionally I will still log into Tawyn first to see if the guild has anything going on, if not, I'm off to play my lowbies. What can I say-- I love leveling lowbies. Yes, I know I'm insane.

6:00-ish, give or take an hour: Dinnertime. Unless there is something crucial going on (like me being mid-instance) I generally take my sweet time with dinner and sort of take a half-hour or hour-long break here.

6:30-7:00ish: This is usually when I switch over to my Windows partition (it pains me every time!) and get onto Ventrilo. Originally I was only going to save Ventrilo for things like instances, but I've decided I like hanging out and chatting with the guildies so I try to get on for a little bit every day or almost every day. This is also usually when I log into Tawyn (unless I'm really into one of my alts at the moment) and if we're doing an instance, this is usually when I do the instance. Otherwise I'm typically doing PvP or working on bringing rep or skills up.

8:30-9:00pm depending on how tired I am and what's going on: Say goodnight, log off, in bed no later than 9:30pm (and being in bed by 9:00pm is preferable).

And that is how a typical work day goes for me. As you can see, my work schedule has me waking up early and going to bed early so I don't have a whole lot of time for "social activities" even if I wanted to (and I'm so shy... I really don't! =P) because I'd have to be back home before 8pm. Also, this schedule is of course subject to changing: somedays I am on WoW a lot less. Somedays I'm multitasking and doing my laundry while I play. Somedays... about once a month or so... work pulls a switcheroo on me and I work a 1pm-9pm shift instead of my typical 6am-2pm. In that case, I pretty much just flip the day: Try and get some WoW in during the morning.

Now let's talk about my days off:

Non-Work Day:

Between 5:00-6:00am: Wake up. Yes, this is my definition of sleeping in. I try not to allow myself to sleep in very much, actually, because it throws off my circadian rhythm and gives me a headache.

Until about 6:00 or 6:30am: The general morning routine: feeding the pets, feeding myself, checking up on my e-mail and that fun stuff.

And then
: Early morning WoW. I love early morning WoW. There's something so serene and calm about playing so early in the morning. I love watching the skies turn from pink to blue. I love the fact that there's hardly anyone else around and that sometimes I'll be the only person in a given zone. Usually I really like playing my alts this early in the morning, but sometimes I'll log on Tawyn too. Because lemme tell ya, 5am server time is the best time to go farming for motes at the Elemental Plateau. There will be like one or two other people there, and plenty of elementals for everyone. One time I was the only person hanging out with the water elementals for over an hour.

After a few hours of WoW I'll generally log off and then this is where my schedule cycling kicks in-- typically on days off I have a lot to do so I try to make the most of it. I'll do blog stuff for an hour, then I'll do housework for an hour, then I'll maybe read or play another video game for an hour, back to WoW for an hour or two, back off to try and get more work done... etc. A lot of times on my days off, my family will go out to eat and I'll accompany them. I'll also try to do something decently social for a little while if I'm feeling up to it (yaaaaay being shy!)

As evening settles in I'll sit down and get on Ventrilo and have some "serious WoW time" reserved for instances, hardcore-PvP-marathons or grinding. Those last two are actually often more fun than they sound.

And I'm in bed by about 9:00 or 9:30 again. If I don't work the following day either, I'll sometimes stretch it to 10:00.

Well, there you have it. That's how most of my days go and I suppose you can say that my key for balance is a lot of variety and a lot of breaks. Way back when I first started playing, my initial addiction was pretty bad. Not to mention that was when I had a job that had a lot of problems giving me all the hours I'd ask for. So I'd be working 18 hours a week, and the rest of the time I was either eating, sleeping, or playing WoW. No joke. I'd be on from morning 'til night and eat while in flight from one zone to another.

Since then, I've made a big improvement in terms of striking that balance. I am not in game nearly as much, I'm rarely on for more than a couple hours at a time (exceptions will be made for things like big instance runs), and my full-time job keeps me busy. In order to save time, I also often "consolidate" things; for example, if I need to go shopping, I just run over to the Target right next to where I work after my shift is done and grab stuff. The gas station and post office are on the drive home so I can stop for gas and stamps too. Things like laundry, as I've mentioned, can be done while playing. And of course, the constant switching between WoW and other things that need to be done, is something that I think helps a lot.

At this point you may or may not be asking "Hey Pike, what about that boyfriend of yours? When do you guys ever see each other?" Okay, well I will admit that it's hard for a few reasons. Firstly he's a notorious night owl and I, well, my schedule has got me turned into an early bird. Secondly he's going to college full time and he's also one of those motivated people (unlike I ever was) who studies and does homework and stuff. But we still somehow manage to be able to talk to each other throughout the day. I'll send him a cheery text message on my phone during my lunch break or something, and somehow, no idea how, we still sometimes even manage to play WoW together. Oh, and to be completely honest with you guys, we've been dating for over three years and have successfully dealt with all sorts of weird scheduling conflicts in the past, so it sorta doesn't phase us anymore. =P (That probably sounds horrible, doesn't it? Hehe.)

I know a lot of you guys are far more busy than I am; you've got kids and school and all sorts of stuff going on that I currently don't have to deal with. How you guys successfully manage to pull off a WoW/real life balance I don't know, but I /salute you all. I hope I can be as balanced when life catches up to me and I leave the post-college doldrums. (Probably not gonna be anytime soon, but hey!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lovin' that New Hunter Smell

Not too long ago I mentioned how I pulled out an old troll hunter alt that I'd had lying around and wanted to retool her into a Survival hunter.

Well, she has been rerolled. There are a few reasons for this:

1.) She already had talent points in Beast Mastery and was too broke to respec.
2.) I did a lot of hard work getting her to Dun Morogh and taming a snow leopard pet. However, I decided that using a boar would be a much better idea. But I didn't want to put that adorable snow leopard in the stable and never take him out again.
3.) Starting 12 levels into the game already sort of feels like "cheating".

So I decided to make a completely fresh start and reroll her! I had a few issues at first deciding what server to put her on. All 10 of my Silver Hand character slots are filled up, and to be honest I really only play Alliance on Silver Hand anyway. I really like Venture Co. a lot, and RP-PvP servers are starting to grow on me, but I don't know if I want to level two PvP hunters simultaneously-- it'll be good to have one to play on a regular ol' RP server I think, if I ever don't feel like the PvP. So finally I picked a new RP server which I've never played on before. It's called Shadow Council and I know absolutely nobody there and that's fine with me. Sometimes anonymity is fun ya know? It's also the first server I've played on that is actually in the same timezone as me; I am an hour ahead of both Silver Hand and Venture Co. Not that it really makes a big difference, but it's kinda neat.

And so we have Shantizar the Troll Hunter and her trusty pet Niels (first person to "get" the name, gets a cookie!)

Niels is cute and charismatic in a way I had no idea boars could be. And oh boy is he an aggro monster. I love it.

Anyways, I've been having a blast on this character so far. Right from level one I've been practicing my kiting and my jump shots (I consider both of those to be, by far, my biggest hunter Achilles' heels. I really shouldn't even call myself a hunter sometimes. /hangs head and blushes) and I sort of feel like I'm getting into the Survival mindset, which is kind of silly considering the fact that my first two points have gone into the Marksman tree, Lethal Shots specifically. The reason for this is because I'm a troll and get a 1% crit bonus when I'm using bows, and I totally am going to take advantage of this fact. MOAR CRITS. I will move into Survival after 5/5 Lethal Shots.

I wound up on the zeppelin to Undercity with one other passenger: a fellow female troll hunter who also had a boar. She was level 35 or so, and we both waved at each other and /patted each other's boars and stuff. I glanced at her spec (I am super voyeuristic when it comes to other hunters and their specs... I can't help it) and was somewhat surprised to see... a fellow leveling survival hunter! Woot. This is fun already. I can't wait until I can put some points into that tree. It's going to be so fun and different.

I went to Silvermoon City because I randomly decided I want a chicken mount so I figure I'd best start leveling there. And who should I run into but...

Level 70 Elite Tauren Chieftain!

The Fab Five, propelled into superstardom by their hit single I Am Murloc!

...I was too shy to ask for an autograph. =/

So yeah, The Alt Project is sadly being more neglected than it should be, simply because I am playing not one, not two, but three* hunters simultaneously. And I absolutely love it.

* Shantizar is actually guildless; she signed somebody's guild charter for a gold and then left--- er, was booted actually-- after. Armory is just slow. I don't know if she's going to find a guild or fly solo-- still thinkin'!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Arrowed!: A Guide to Ranged Ammunition Part 1

First off, the title "Arrowed!" is a reference to a particularly amusing Homestar Runner cartoon.



One of the neat things about ranged weapons in WoW, is that we aren't just keeping track of our bow or gun, but we're also keeping track of the ammunition for it. There is a staggering variety of it; Wowhead tells me that there are 21 types of arrows and 26 types of bullets in the game. Seem intimidating? I'm not surprised! Furthermore, each type of arrow or bullet adds damage to your shots. Now in general, the higher you get in level, the bigger your ammo selection will be, so you will slowly be able to work your way up to the higher DPS shots.

Let's take a closer look here:

Normal Buyable Ammo:

This is the stuff that you can buy around Azeroth at any Bowyer or Gunsmith. You can typically find them at major cities and in some towns:

[Rough Arrow] / [Light Shot] (1.5 DPS)
[Sharp Arrow] / [Heavy Shot] (3.5 DPS) (Requires level 10 to use.)
[Razor Arrow] / [Solid Shot] (7.5 DPS) (Requires level 25 to use.)
[Jagged Arrow] / [Accurate Slugs] (13 DPS) (Requires level 40 to use.)
[Wicked Arrow] / [Impact Shot] (22 DPS) (Requires level 55 to use.)

Now you get into the Outland, and added to the basic selection are:

[Blackflight Arrow] / [Ironbite Shell] (32 DPS) (Requires level 65 to use.)

So those are your basic, buy-at-any-vendor arrows and bullets.

But wait... there's more!

Special Buyable Ammo:

Here is the ammunition that is buyable from a vendor, but only if you meet certain requirements, aside from the normal level ones:

[Scout's Arrow]
(26 DPS) (Requires level 61 to use and requires a Friendly reputation with the Cenarion Expedition.)

[Halaani Razorshaft] / [Halaani Grimshot] (34 DPS) (Requires level 66 to use and can only be bought if your faction is controlling Halaa.)

[Warden's Arrow] (37 DPS) (Requires level 68 to use and requires a Revered reputation with the Cenarion Expedition.)

[Felbane Slugs] (37 DPS) (Requires level 68 to use and requires a Revered reputation with Honor Hold. Alliance only.)

[Hellfire Shot] (37 DPS) (Requires level 68 to use and requires a Revered reputation with Thrallmar. Horde only.)

[Mysterious Arrow] / [Mysterious Shell] (46.5 DPS) (Requires level 70 to use and requires a Revered reputation with The Violet Eye.)

[Timeless Arrow] / [Timeless Shell] (53 DPS) (Requires level 70 to use and requires an Honored reputation with The Scale of the Sands.)

Each of these special arrows and bullets, with the exception of the Halaani ones (you have to physically go to Halaa if you want those), can be purchased from the Speciality Ammunition Vendors in Shattrath City. You don't have to do anything special; if you meet the requirements for a certain type of arrow or bullet, it will show it as being available to you.

One of the interesting things about these reputation-based projectiles is that you might have to grind different rep depending on if you have a bow or a gun. For example, currently I use a crossbow and am Revered with the Cenarion Expedition, so I use [Warden's Arrow], which gives me an increase of 37 DPS. If I were to start using a gun, and I wanted to gain the same DPS bonus of 37, I would have to become Revered with Honor Hold so I could use [Felbane Slugs]. And if I was Horde, I would have to get Revered with Thrallmar so I could get [Hellfire Shot].

However, for the most part, all the arrows have a bullet equivalent with similar requirements, and vice versa. (A noticeable exception would be [Scout's Arrow], for which there is no bullet equivalent.)

Wow... that's a lot of ammunition. And we've only scratched the surface! I've yet to cover craftable ammo and ammo that you get as quest rewards, and other such special types. However, in the interest of preventing my readers' brains from exploding, I'm going to save all of those for another post.

I'll see you next time for the next installment of "Arrowed!"

Level 29 Tawyn shows off her [Quiver of the Night Watch] and [Razor Arrows]. (I love the fact that I've taken billions of screenshots throughout my WoW career. Although poor Tawyn must feel like I'm the mom pulling out all the embarassing baby pictures. =P)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

For the... well, nobody says Alliance, do they?

One of the things that has always intrigued me about the World of Warcraft faction division, is that most of the people who play Horde are very, very firmly and patriotically "For the Horde!" Whereas a lot of Alliance are rather less enthusiastic about it-- they like Alliance, yes, but they don't go around posting "FOR THE ALLIANCE" as every other comment in a WoW YouTube movie or proudly proclaiming it on their website, whereas a lot of Hordies, well, do. (Note: I know this isn't everybody... just the majority, in my experience.)

As somebody who really, truly, honestly enjoys playing both factions equally and is actually fond of *gasp* all of the races (even gnomes... actually I have a secret here: I adore gnomes. If gnomes could be hunters I'd never play another race), I've always found it interesting that there is that distinct difference there, and that Horde players get so much more excited about simply being Horde than most Alliance players ever do about being Alliance.

Now, I've heard all the out-of-character and out-of-lore reasons. I've heard people say that they simply like the aesthetics of one over the other, whether it be the look of the races or the look of the places. (Somebody once gave me "Elwynn Forest is a lot prettier than Durotar" as their main reason.)

And yes, I've heard the ever popular "People are more mature/friendly on [insert faction here]." Honestly my views on that last one is that it really comes down to what server you are on, what server type you are playing on, and the people that you encounter, as I have had both very positive and very negative social experiences on both sides of the faction fence. When I worked at a video game store for a few months this past summer, one of my coworkers told me "Alliance has the immature little kids, and Horde has the immature adults, it's just a matter of which ones you'd rather put up with." Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I agree with him (I tend to assume the positive about people anyway), but I am saying that he sort of has a point in that you are going to find immaturity and negativity anywhere in the game-- just as you are going to find some very amazing and friendly people anywhere in the game.

So as you can see, my views have long been very neutral and unbiased regarding this issue. So it sort of took me by surprise when I realized over the past few days playing a lot of Horde alts, that Horde does indeed seem to have a homier, cozier feel to it. And I think I may have pinned it down (for me anyway):

I think it's the NPCs and how they react to you, and the things that they say. The Horde NPCs have a very "fatherly" sort of quality to them. Taurens will tell you "be careful" when they put you on a windrider, and they sound so genuine when they say it. Same with the orcs when they tell you to "be safe". Even trolls, when they say "You relax, mon"... yeah, it sounds so funny, but it also really is strangely relaxing. The Horde sounds like they are concerned for you.

The Alliance NPCs are more distant. Friendly, yes, but in a very formal way, especially with the humans and night elves. Dwarves are up-front and happy and tell you to "Keep your feet on the ground!" but it seems more... like a "best buddy" type of thing instead of a warmer familial thing. Really I think the closest the Alliance comes is with the Draenei, which is fitting since an unusually high amount of die-hard Horde players that I've come across admit that they quite like the Draenei. I think that maybe it's because the Draenei has that same caring "aura" that you get with the Horde.

When it comes down to it, it just seems to me that the Horde is really about being "a family" and as this is sort of subconsciously represented throughout the game, it rubs off on the players and the players become a family as well, and this leads to a healthy amount of hometown pride. Alliance isn't so much a family, it's much more independent. I'm not saying that's bad... I'm just saying, the Alliance's faction allegiance is not going to manifest itself quite the same way the Horde's does.

I think I am always going to be a Stormwind girl at heart; it's where I was raised on the game, it's where I've met my best in-game friends, and I simply love the aesthetics of the Alliance locations. And I know it's seeped into my blood, whether I like it or not, because the other day when I saw some guy at work wearing a big Horde emblem on his coat, the very first thought that came into my mind was not "Oh cool, a fellow WoW player", but "Oh crap, it's the enemy!"

But I'll be darned if it doesn't feel good sometimes to log into my hordies and come "home" to the family in Thunder Bluff.*

* I have never really liked Orgrimmar for some reason. When I play Horde, I hang out in Thunder Bluff.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Hunter Song

A few weeks ago somebody told me that when I talk about WoW, it sounds something like this: "Hunter hunter hunter hunter hunter..."

Anyways that sort of reminded me of a popular flash animation (no not "Badgers", although that fits too)... so I sat down and wrote this:

"The Hunter Song"
(Based on The Llama Song)

Here's a hunter
There's a hunter
And a little dwarven hunter
BM Hunter
Marksman Hunter
Hunter hunter priest

Hunter hunter
Furbolg hunter
Shadowmelding Night Elf hunter
Hunter hunter
Murloc hunter
Hunter hunter priest

I was once a newbie
I made some mistakes
But I did my pet research
So I could tame The Rake

I was only level ten
Couldn't yet wear mail
Best time for a furry friend
Or feathery or scaled

Did you ever see a hunter
Kiss a hunter
Roll a hunter
Newbie hunter
Expert hunter
Hunter hunter priest

Instance hunter
Raiding hunter
Trapping feigning kiting hunter
Hunter on a mount
Hunting a
Hunter hunter priest

I just love my kitty
And I love my boar
Now I'm out of stable slots
Oh why can't there be more?

I think that it's just so fun
To have a big red beast
Maybe I should retire now
And reroll a priest

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My First Ever Arena...

...was a 2v2, me (BM hunter) and a warlock vs. a warrior and a priest.

I really didn't know a lot about what I was doing because I'd never even been inside an arena before. Somebody told me I should "run up the ramp" so I did. The warrior started pounding on the warlock first which gave me ample time to pop Beast Within, Abacus of Violent Odds, and Rapid Fire, and start devouring the warrior.

I actually got his health down quite a ways, but, ya know... he had a priest. So it was all to no avail. (In retrospect we probably should've attacked the priest first, but I didn't see him for a while.) I eventually died, which I expected-- I am so geared for PvE right now that it's not even funny how gimped my stamina and resilience are-- but to be honest I did better than I thought I'd do. I guess having 7000+ lifetime honor kills gives me a wee bit of an advantage despite my lack of gear.

I also played ten Arathi Basin games yesterday; I figured "why not" because it was still the holiday weekend for it and also because I had this sudden idea to record the results of the ten games, just for some fun statistics to look at.

Of the ten games I played, all PuGs, seven were against premades and were thus losses. (Though funnily enough, only two of those premades wound up actually five-capping us, the other five were all long grueling battles that lasted just as long as if it hadn't been a premade anyway. One comes to mind where we constantly had two nodes capped and the premade only managed to keep three... they kept trying to take our other nodes, and they kept failing.)

So only three of the games were good ol' fashioned PuG vs. PuG matchups. Of those three games, Alliance won two and Horde won once. For the first Alliance win, the Horde seemed to be off the ball right from the start, Alliance was ahead the entire way and won about 2000-1200. The second Alliance win was actually a very very close race for about 75% of the game, at which point Alliance somehow pulled off some crazy epic 5-cap maneuever and clinched us the victory. The one Horde victory was a pretty resounding Horde victory, they were ahead basically the entire game and it culminated in a 5-cap for them.

All and all I was satisfied; it showed me that despite all the premades you still get the occasional really fun matchups. I've been taking a break from PvP for a while but yesterday may have given me "the bug" again. I need to get some gear, afterall, if I'm going to be doing arena!

And now for something completely different: more and more WoW blogs are being hosted on Wordpress, and that's fine and all except that for some reason, blogs hosted on Wordpress seem to have a lot of issues loading for me. I think it has something to do with "Google Analytics" because that's always what shows up at the bottom of my browser, by the loading bar: "Waiting for Google Analytics". Seriously though, I had a Wordpress blog open in a Firefox tab just now and it took no less than ten minutes to load. They're all like that for me. And it takes me forever to leave a comment at those blogs, for the same reason. =/ Does anybody happen to know what's going on? So many good blogs are hosted on Wordpress and I'd like to make them easier to access.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Alt Project: Weekend Report

First thing's first:

I've got the bear necessities on my druidling. /bow

I haven't had much of a chance at all to mess around with the bear form yet, suffice to say that I'm rather enjoying it thus far and yes, I am one of those level 10 newbies who runs around doing everything in bear form and jumps all over Thunder Bluff and exudes "Wheee, I'm a bear!!" We've all seen them, and now I'm one of them. /shame

So the druid has gone from level 1 to level 10. Not bad. How goes the rest of The Project?

Meet Ralaenia Dexton. She's spunky and upbeat and she likes kittens and walks in the rain.

She also likes blowing things up.

Yesterday she was level 19, now she is level 21. She has been leveling almost exclusively in Deadmines, with the help of a bunch of lowbie guild alts. We've all been having a blast running Deadmines with an appropriately leveled group of characters, all of us playing different classes (and even different group roles) than our 70s, which results in a lot of panic and laughter all around. Drives me nuts when there's a hunter in the group though. The sounds of the firing guns and bows make me horrifically homesick.

BUT! She has Polymorph. And Blink. And Evocation. Evocation is one of the best inventions in the history of WoW, by the way. Just in case ya didn't know.

So I now have a level 10 druid and a level 21 mage.

I have a confession to make though. Those aren't the only alts I've been playing.

I also have a troll...


I have a valid excuse for this one though! I'm going to level this character Survival. Because it occurred to me that Tawyn leveled Marksmanship (she didn't "officially" respec to Beast Mastery until level 57) and Lunapike is currently leveling Beast Mastery... but what kinda hunter am I if I've left an entire third talent tree untouched? So yes. Shantizar is going Survival. least, she will be when I get the money to respec. (I started this character a little while ago and she's got a couple points in BM.)

If Lienna can do it and Trackhoof has a how-to for it... and Mirshalak makes it sound so fun and interesting... then there's no way I'm going to be left out of this.

Well, that ends our special report. Coming up after a word from our sponsors: Hogger: horrible killer, or misunderstood defender of his people? Stay tuned!

The Pre-Instance Checklist

I have my own personal little "Checklist" that I mentally go through when I'm going to be doing an instance. I thought I would share it with you guys in case anybody might find it useful:

Before Heading to the Instance:

-Ammo: Make sure your quiver/ammo pouch is full of the best arrows/bullets you can buy. If the instance is especially long you may want to bring a couple extra stacks in your regular inventory as well, but to be honest I haven't found that I really need to do this in regular five-mans.
-Pet Food: I never bring anything less than a full 20-unit stack of pet food to an instance. If I know it's a particularly hard instance, or one that is long, or that I haven't done before, I'll bring 25 pieces of pet food.
-Hunter Food: Unless you've got a mage handy, bring some food and drink for yourself.
-Repairs: Even if your durability is still at 90%. Get it to 100%.
-Bag space: It sucks to spend most of the instance trying to juggle what loot you want to keep and what loot you want to toss because you only showed up with three empty slots or something. (Trust me on this one.) Vendor stuff, put it on the Auction House or in your bank, or mail it to an alt and give yourself ample room for the things you'll pick up!
-Potions/Elixirs/Buff Food: If you have some, bring it! Bring some for your pet too!
-The Right Pet: You probably don't want to show up at Heroic Mech with the level 19 ghost saber that you just tamed a couple minutes ago. (Just a hunch.)
-Spec'ing the Pet: This is sort of an optional one and some people don't like to re-spec their pet for every instance. But it's cheap and it's not a bad idea to give your pet extra nature resistance for Steamvaults, for example.

At the Instance:

- Growl is OFF. If you have Cower, it's ON. If you have Screech, I myself like to turn it OFF (just because it causes threat on multiple mobs; I'm not sure if it breaks CC or not. Oh and a lot of tanks really hate the noise).
- Tank assist macro (feels an urge to write a macro article brewing) is set to the current tank.
- Pet is set to PASSIVE.
- Buff up: Is Aspect of the Hawk up? (I know I've forgotten once or twice). Have you used your food and agility elixir? Did you feed your pet some Sporeling Snacks or Kibler's Bits?
- If it's a group of people I haven't worked with before I usually inform them that I am able to trap and that if they want me to trap something they should stick a blue square on it, and I'll take care of it. Sometimes they'll want to use a different symbol other than my usual blue square, that's fine with me so long as they let me know (they always do).

Well, that's my list. It seems long and scary but it really doesn't take too long to do, especially if you're like me and you like to be super-prepared and you go replenish your supply of ammo and pet food and repair every hour or so.

Everybody's experience is different when it comes to this type of thing so develop your own list and find out what works best for you, but for the most part I think you'll have a similar list. Do take note though that I have never done a real "raid" before so the list might be a bit different if you are further-progressed than I am (and I imagine a lot of you are).

Remember, "failing to prepare is preparing to fail". Thus sayeth some random inspirational poster. =P

Happy instancing!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Spotlight on... you guys!

If you are one of those people who comes and visits my actual blog as opposed to reading it through a reader, then you may have noticed that the two very long blogrolls on my sidebar are no longer there. They had a noble life though, and as much as I would like to keep them there they were simply getting to be far too unwieldy and as such they have been retired. ...or, at least, moved. I now have a completely separate page for my blogrolls:

Pike's Blogroll

And that is what will appear on the sidebar. I contemplated leaving a few "Best of the Best" blogs on the front page but it's just too hard for me to pick favorites when there are so many good ones. So everyone from the most popular bloggers to the very-newest-bloggers all reside on the same page.

Why are my blogrolls so big? Because I maintain that a lot of my skill as a player comes through posts made in WoW blogs, and as such I want to help to promote blogs and articles that continue to educate (and entertain) me. See, look, here's just a brief sampler of some of the neat stuff that's been posted in the past week alone:

Mirshalak tells us how he solo's Scholomance as a Survival Hunter and shares his views on how, on some situations, the cookie cutter talents builds might not be quite as effective as the more unusual ones.

Pelides has a very informative post about Feign Death and when and how to use it.

Trackhoof tells us about meta gems for hunters in various situations.

Drotara has a super-informative post about shot rotations, it's really one of the most nicely-summarized articles I've seen on the topic and it's definitely worth a look.

Over at Great Green Hunter we have a post about the pros and cons of using various popular pets in arena.

Siha at Banana Shoulders made a super-useful jewelcrafting reference sheet.

Critical QQ has some handy tips regarding that urge to go spend time in battlegrounds mid-leveling.

And Trollin' spills the beans and tells us just how he made that awesome click-able blogroll of his that everybody has been drooling over for a while now. least, I know I have.

See what I mean about learning from other bloggers? That's why my blogroll is so gigantic. So go take a look if you haven't already, and maybe you'll learn something new! =D

Friday, February 1, 2008

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

So the other day I was browsing the fan art section of the World of Warcraft website, and stumbled across a stunningly gorgeous picture that promptly became my new desktop wallpaper:

So maybe I'm really just an obsessed hunter-addict (okay, so there's no "maybe" about it), but I can't stop looking at this picture. It's just a compelling and dynamic image. And standing at the side of that powerful hunter, almost appearing to to be materializing from the shadows, is an ever-faithful wolf pet.

So of course I had to go tame myself a wolf.

I picked the Bloodmaul Dire Wolf in Blade's Edge. He comes with the highest rank of Furious Howl, and before I tamed him I temp-tamed a raptor from Netherstorm and obtained the highest rank of Bite for myself as well. This is my third stable slot, after all, so I'd best get everything I need beforehand.

Is the wolf gonna stay? I'm not sure. I haven't had anytime to play around with him yet and he's only level 65. It's going to be neat, I think, to try having something other than a pure DPS pet. The wolf is more of a well-rounded pet, sacrificing some DPS for some armor. I think he might be good for grinding and solo'ing. One thing is for sure: he needs a name.

And once he gets a name, I'll probably get all attached to him.

Oh Blizz, why must you torment us so, with a mere three stable slots?

Hrmm. It doesn't look quite as epic as the artwork, does it?

Someday, though. Someday when Tier 4 leaves the bounds of a young hunter's daydream, as it is perhaps the most attainable dream in a garden of delights such as Loyalty Level 7, traps that never break early, The Ultimate Aimed Shot of Ultimate Destiny (And No Threat To Boot), and being able to surround oneself with a limitless menagerie of creatures.