Thursday, 29 April 2010

Mounting Tamarind

So apparently Tamarind from Righteous Orbs has made himself unhappy by ... err... falling out with horses. It seems to be a mutual thing, though, so maybe it's for the best. I wonder if a horse ever came up to him and said first "Tam, we need to talk" followed shortly by something like "We can still stay friends - as long as you are way over there".

His selection of other suitable things to mount was impressive, thought maybe not as crafty as this story.

However, We (that being the royal we) are in a unique position to help! A dwarf of compulsory robust stature and with a fine selection of riding things (both airborne and not so much), I can provide a sample selection of screenshots.

So here we go.

Be warned - there might be an image or two in this post.

Let us start on the ground. The most obvious selection (and recommended quite frequently in his comments already) is the fine motorcycle. Why, I even recommended it myself, not too long ago. So please, do yourself a favour and join the dwarven motorcycle gang. Added bonus: The sidecar has a map, and I gear stories about Tamarind also getting lost in straight corridors.

Number two on the list - I could recommend the Deathcharger. Yes, you might have to run Stratholme once or twice (or so), but it is a dead horse. You could beat it, you could ride it - and it should allow you to sneer at it being dead already, so it won't talk back.

Of course, for the horde inclined former elf, there is always the raptor. However, it does have a few rather annoying disadvantages. Tickely feathers, strange troll armour and last but not least - it's basically a used car deal.

Ground based there is still one excellent option however. Better looking than the goat, with nicely shaped horns that allow a full view of the landscape in front of yourself (and the horns match the shoulder armour of plate-wearers ... maybe not an advantage for a sissy robe-wearer) and comes in a variety of colours.

The lovely Talbuk. On sale from your friendly Kurenai (and Halaa dealers).

You didn't want bears, horses or mammoths (even though the armoured horses look reasonably good and you could always spotweld the plated feet to the side of the horse), so we're already finished with the ground bound suggestions.

Which leaves taking to the air.

Preferrably a bit more elegantly and safely than her.

Although... no .. let's not go there.

Again you got a few very viable suggestions, but let me just start with ... erm... the not-so-great.

Repeat after me. A hippogryph is for treehuggers, not for stout dwarves. Nothing more needs to be said.
The colour does not matter.

The same can be said for any drake variant. I know you are the proud owner of a black one, but no matter the colour (again) they can not be trusted. Just to make sure you are aware of the eyesores drakes cause, I took a picture of the albino one - an especially foul example.

Slightly more useful are the netherdrakes - as long as you are very careful with your colour selection. Stay away from the veridian one - baby poo is not a good colour choice.

Also mentioned were proto drakes. A good selection available - some of them harder to get than others. On the ground you'll again be force into to "I'm about to fall off" position, but in mid-air they look surprisingly sturdy. And match the shoulders. Displayed below - the red one, because I don't have any of the really nice Ulduar ones.

You also mentioned liking the dragonhawk. Of course, the dedicated stable-keeper does not have to worry - there is an option available for you. Just collect a hundred silly mounts and you'll be able to ride your very own shiny blue dragonhawk.

And it's quite a feat.

It's just ....

Oh look for yourself.

Look, I know what you are thinking, but however elegant they look when a nice bloodelven NPC rides past on them, they make me sea-sick and they are not especially fierce. Mouth-froth-tentacles notwithstanding.

Even the Nether Rays look better fiercer than this.

Can you not see yourself on top of this, brandishing a wand and a fireball lol-smite, running down your enemies with froth dribbling from your mouth and the fangs of your flying fish?

Hmm. Okay.. point taken.

Last option then. And it's not one I recommend lightly. Have you any idea how difficult it was to drop Blacksmithing, pick up Tailoring, craft a carpet and relearn Blacksmithing just so you could see what this looks like?

Right. A carpet actually get's my full seal of approval. It looks like surfing. And that, of course, goes well with the motorbike.

So theres your options. Now be a good dwarf and choose the bike and the carpet. You know you want to.

Monday, 26 April 2010

So this is what the sparkly pony was made for!

Right. As you may know I am an avid collector of titles. They are shiny and some of them are quite cool even. A few of them are rarer than others, obviously. I think the titles "the Patient" and "Jenkins" scare me the most when I join a random PUG. Of course I am aware that some people might display them intentionally - but if those are the only ones?

Anyway.. back to the topic at hand. I personally like "Salty Snack", I did like "Chef Koch" back when that was still my name. Highish level dungeon titles are also rather nice. Of course those slowly decay with the introduction of new gear. While "of the Nightfall" was incredibly impressive a year ago, it's now something pickup groups do on a slow Saturday afternoon.

And then there are the exceptions. Titles that stay impressive or just nice even after a content patch has come and gone.

This is (sort of) the story of one of them.

It all started here, really. The celestial planetarium just looks lovely. The entrance hall is decorated nicely as well, but somehow I didn't feel like overloading the blog completely with images (and I'll stick to that story - nothing to do with taking screenshots with my messy UI in the foreground, no siree!).

Good old Brann helpfully did the usual thing - left us with all the work and ran off to the other side of Ulduar to play computer games. Seriously... does the think that "I'll try and buy you some time with the archive console" fools anyone?

And because a proper boss requires a proper entry, Algalon did us the favour of a sparkly lightshow. It only gave me slight motion sickness - something I have not experienced since the days of my first driving lessons (and that one time - no... not in band camp - on a boat, off the channel coast).

Commence the usual stuff. Tanks taking tons of damage, healers healing all of it and more, mighty mages shooting fireballs arcane missiles, warlocks setting stars on fire. It took us more than one attempt - the incoming damage is rather on the high side. I think my personal favourite is the damage taken from his Ascend to the Heavens spell. Hardly ever took more than half a million points of damage in one hit before.

In the end it was one of those wins that no one really believed in. One of our healers was wondering if she had shielded the wrong target, two people were dead on the floor, everyone was still half-hiding inside a black hole and Algalon does not do the raid the favour of actually falling over. He just sort of walks back to the middle and pops open his treasure chest.

His sparkly treasure chest.

Full of stars and ponies and such (disclaimer: None of that is actually true).

Much like Onyxia, Nefarian, Hakkar, C'thun, and Ossirian he drops an item. Same as the other items listed, the associated NPCs do celebrate the return of the victorious heroes. And much as I have trouble putting this into words, it was actually a rather nice feeling - to know that tonight we saved the whole of Azeroth from destruction. They even did a nice little lightshow for us in Dalaran.

Which only left one thing to do, really. Hop on my little sparkly pony and...


Not that one.

As I was saying, there was only one thing left to do. Hop on my sparkly pony, fly high over Dalaran and proudly display the new title. Starcaller Snack.

Sounds like something out of a Japanese vending machine.

And I'm still happy about the title. Damn lovely night, this.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


No, not this video (Youtube link, SFW up to 2:38 - afterwards it depends on your workplace).

Occasionally I want to write about how amazing Intervene really is – and then I usually forget about it again. Now, because this is my blog and my boss didn’t tell me to have it ready by Tuesday, I can do this – probably forever.

But then I noticed that this is how I felt about Intervene in instances as well. For me, Intervene was a tool that I did not learn to use properly until very recently. The problem stems from the time warriors learn intervene and the current talent trees – and the sometimes rather awkward way of using it.

Let’s start with my list of complaints before I suggest a use or three. Warriors learn Intervene at level 70. That indicates that it was meant to be a powerful tool in The Burning Crusade. The final new ability, the misdirect equivalent (which defined a special move before tricks of the trade), the big bang for protection. Just … hardly anyone used it.

It got even worse with WotLK offering the (amazing) Warbringer. Protection warriors now can charge and intercept in any stance, which alleviated the need for a special spell giving us mobility in defensive stance. This fit in with the general trend to make stance-switching unnecessary for tanking. Berserker Rage is now usable in all stance – so fear-dancing is not needed either. As such, this is clearly an intended change.

Personally, I use a macro like this one:

/castsequence reset=15 Charge, Intercept
/cast [help] Intervene; [target=targettarget, help] Intervene;

This works nicely. Click on a target, press the button and you will attempt to Charge there, generating rage in the process. If charge is on cooldown, your macro will use Intercept instead. If you click on a friendly target, it’ll use Intervene and if your current target has switched to an overeager ranged dps/healer and is trundeling towards them, you don’t even need to switch.

How often do I actually use it for the Intervene? Well… hardly ever. The spell is clearly underused by me. Mainly because, well, I never properly had to learn it. At level 70 leveling warriors (with a protection spec) have warbringer these days. It’s that amazing. A third movement effect within 15 seconds is nothing I have ever used much.

However (yes yes… I’m trying to come to a point here), there is another two effects of Intervene.

Intervene: You run at high speed towards a party member, intercepting the next melee or ranged attack against them as well as reducing their total threat by 10%.

This is not worded very well, but the effect is this: It allows you to soak up the next hit on your target. Clarified is this by the buff your target gains: The next melee or ranged attack made against you will be made against the intervening warrior instead (10 seconds remaining).

Even better, the attack (within 10 seconds) is redirected, not the hit, so your defence, dodge, parry and block all apply in full.

And I have to admit that I still don’t use it. If someone manages to draw fire in current raid content an Intervene is rarely going to save them. One hit is either something the healers can take care of, or that kills the poor recipient outright. With taunt now having a range that is actually greater than that of my Intervene, has a shorter cooldown and possibly is affected by Vigilance, using Intervene still seems like the worse option.

That is …

Until I got to see the Sindragosa fight. Now for those who have not seen the fight before: Dragon, has a tail and great cleavage and breathes fire (except the fire is cold and frost damage and called Frostbreath as well, but pfft) and is surrounded by an aura of cold. So cold, in fact, that it really stings if you forgot to wear your earmuffs (and who’d equip earmuffs as long as there are epic helmets about?).

Once in a while she’ll do the new “blue dragonbrood special” (like Cyanigosa and Drakos the Interrogator) and pull everyone towards her, then blow up the surrounding area. People run away and don’t die (if the raid works, that is).

Now and then she also flies up high in the air and does a short phase of something else (so mainly not maim the tank and instead “Pull a Malygos” and drop both zones of safety (relatively speaking, that one) and fiery fire of death on the ground.

I’m about to end the rambling already, stop complaining!

So anyway… the use for Intervene. Once the air phase starts, the tank will want to reach his friends quickly and safely. The tank will also still be slowed from Frostbreath, so anything to speed up movement will be a bonus. And the kicker? That last line from the Intervene ability:

as well as reducing their total threat by 10%.

Totally amazing. With the slowdown to ability use now and then this is important over the whole length of the fight. At the beginning it allows to control the highest dps threat each time when moving to the designated Ice Tomb spots. Near the end of the fight, it will reduce dps threat by massive amounts (10% of total, not a fixed value, after all), ensuring a safe lead. And ... you don't even get killed by frostbombs when your intervene target stands in the wrong place, because it only applies to melee and ranged attacks, not magic.

It’s still not an ability I’d use in other fights as my first choice. There are, however, fights where Intervene is an incredibly powerful tool to control the fight.


Take that, druids, deathknights and steenkin’ paladins! You may have AoE threat, but you don’t have this!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Cobbled for her pleasure

So the snow has melted, but this is still what the place looks like where we live (well... that is not our house, obviously. Just think of the heating cost!).

The upside is that the town can look rather nice, the downside (or so I thought so far) is this:

Yes. We have a lot of that. Everywhere. I have to turn up the radio in the car and it's a bother to walk on in high heels (wait.. that came out wrong. I am told it is a bother to walk on in high heels!).

Now how does this relate to World of Warcraft?

Well.. because of Dalaran. And the people in it. And an innocent comment my wife made today while we did a bicycle trip through town.

See, while I was cruising about Dalaran, enjoying the sights and getting my quests (weekly raid, daily fishing, daily jewelcrafting etc.) I kept meeting the same person on a bike (marked by blue circle). And I could not help notice that Dalaran was cobbled all over as well. And that people kept going in a circle round and round and round.

So how does that make sense? Well... what my wife said was "Ah, I see. Cobbled for her pleasure!"

Friday, 16 April 2010

The new horse in town

There is a new thing available from the items shop over at Blizzards. Several bloggers have already voiced their opinion – some of them outraged in general, some not bothered, some worried about the direction the item shop will take in general and so on and so forth.

Who am I to resist the temptation to join in on such a hotly debated subject?

So let’s first get those facts out of the way that’ll only impact the serious statements to follow. I queued (in an online shop, for a virtual item that won’t ever make any impact on my real life) for several hours (started the queue at roughly 55.000 people waiting). I got two of them horseys for a total value of 40€ - one for my wife and one for myself.

And personally – even though they only look “okay” in flight and quite “meh” on the ground, I already know I’ll love them.

See… I do run with quite many alts. My “main” (that’s the Koch person I keep boasting about) has collected a ton of flying mounts (including a rather lovely, but slow, blue dragonhawk). On my alts I usually practise an “as few as necessary” approach to mounts – which used to be limited to two one slow riding, one slow flying. Now, with the earlier available riding skill training, I end up owning three on all my alts. Slow ground at 20, fast ground at 40, slow flying at 60, northrend flying at 68 and that’s it. I still refuse to buy epic flying for all of them – the alts intended to stay gatherers get it and so do the ones I really like. If an alt has not entirely convinced my by the time we get to 70, they don’t get an epic flappy.

Okay, I admit it – all of them except for the shaman have it by now. I bought 9 times epic flying. And it just cuts down on the frustration factor of levelling, so shush.

Anyway... back to the flying horse.

This one will upgrade itself. I won’t have to worry about replacing icons on the quickbar, I won’t have to bother finding one of the “classic” styles that suit me – it’s perfect. Lowest effort required. And even though the total savings are now extremely low (as compared to 2006, when an epic mount was expensive and the training dirt cheap), it’s still a few shiny golds I’ll never have to spend again.

More importantly, though, is a piece of coding that makes me jump with joy. The new horsey can go at 310% speed if the owner has at least one 310% speed mount of their own. So it’ll be very fast – and it’s possible to do it.

Now my campaign for the speeding up of the blue dragonhawk can finally start in earnest. And I think I know at least one other person who would be interested.

Final note: Technically you get two mounts. I don't own one of the Headless Horseman's Horses, but I presume the behaviour is the same. The same buttons summons both a ground mount (if you are in the old world, in Northrend without cold weather flying, in Wintergrasp during a battle or in Dalaran) and a flying mount (in the Outlands, in Northrend with cold weather flying, in Wintergrasp when no battle is on and on the Dalaran landing pad and the balcony). Be careful, though, your mount does not change it's abilities when you move from a non-flying into a flying area on its own. You will need to dismount and remount.

No problem usually, but try this: mount up in front of the Dalaran bank, ride through the sewers to the sewer exit and gracefully jump out of the sewer exit.

See that ground rushing towards you? And the wings of your horse not spreading out and flapping?

This is where you wish your horse could have flown .... and look, it seems I was not the only one...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Weapons of Mass Destruction

No... I don't intend to talk about anything like this. I'm not even going to go there. My knowledge about all that secret spy stuff is limited to what I can learn from James Bond movies and the newspapers - and both spread the occasional bit of misinformation.

What I want to talk about is the amazing landscape of World of Warcraft. See... lately I leveled my mage from zero to hero (working on gearing her up now) - and of course I grabbed flying at level 60. And that (well .. and my wife and Tam talking about leveling slowly and taking in the sights) lead me to discover a few interesting things.

Mainly amazingly well done sites of mass destruction.


Did you know that (in my opinion, which I can sell as fact on my own blog. Ha! Stop me!) at least one nuclear weapon was used in the history of World of Warcraft?


Not there.

That was an accident.

I'm thinking: here.

Look, I even hovered a little closer to the ground to get the important details.

Well yes, that's just the city with the spires still standing for some reason. How on earth did they build their cities? Tent walls and solid Adamantite Reinforced Concrete (ARC - I like it .. I should probably patent that) for the struts? It does show where the explosion was centered though.

This is a bit closer to what I wanted to show. All the trees bent away from the centre of the explosion, broken trunks littered all over the landscape and all in a neat circle?

Same as above, just shows the effect a bit better. And there is a spider walking around. Which should, probably, be a cockroach, but let's not be picky.

Right. So there was a nuclear weapon used on a broken and shattered city right in the middle of the Terrokar Forest. Or rather on the edge. Or it may have been the middle and a bit broke off - hard to tell with the way the whole continent is crumbling up like an ancient cookie.

Reminds me a little of those pictures:

Now the above is allegedly taken in Tunguska and thus (maybe - queue conspiracy theory music and all such) does not show a nuclear explosion, but I couldn't find any pictures of weapon tests in a forested area. Which may be for the best. Same look, though.

Other areas where someone had to play with more firepower than they were supposed to have?

Oh yes.. there are more.

Orbital defense system, right? Making sure no one gets to play with any old gods while no one is looking? And just to make sure it all stays neatly contained, why not drop a giant rock on their heads when they misbehave.

Not really a picture that describes the effect well. But it looked neat, and I got to put it up. Ha! again. Anyway... look at the two concentric rings in Thorims "but I wanna wanna wanna" stompy picture. Shockwave travelling through rock and all that. I'm sure if you found a site in English that explained our local meteorite crater, it would show a pattern similar.

What does that tell us?

Basically ... don't fret about the next nerf to your beloved main attack. Damage nerfed by 2%? Just try and get your hands on one of the systems other people use to fight their battles. You'll have success on a much larger scale.

Little Steps

This is a bit what last night felt like - new raid night in an attempt to get into ICC. Many of the people in the raid had not been to ICC before, some of them are quite new to raiding itself and some of them had a long break and only just returned to WoW.

Not entirely surprisingly, there were bumps on the way.

To get the good stuff out of the way first, before I can get into a proper ranty whine: It was good fun, actually. We made really good progress.

Now for the bad news: We didn't actually manage to kill even Lord Marrowgar. Not with the 10% buff, not with repeated attempts and not with trying extra hard.

Overall, I think our damage may have been slightly too low for ICC. But it didn't matter - people got to see a new instance (*points to picture above*), get some reputation (*points to picture above*) and learn a new fight. The first fight. Let me see if I can describe why we had trouble....

The original description of the fight included all the four big issues:

1) Do not stand near the tanks unless you really like them and want to reduce the damage they take from Saberlash (which is not called Saberlash, but those are details).

2) Do not stand in the burning fire of death, which this time is blue, not green. If you stand inside the red circle that appears when you target him, you will not be hit by fire.

3) When someone gets impaled by a ginormous bone spike, stop doing whatever you are doing and do your best to apply burst damage to the bone spike. This even applies to shadow priests.

4) When he goes into Blender mode (not Bender, Blender!) run like a chicken to the walls and try not to be hit by him. However, his Blender mode only hurts a little (around 1500 damage on cloth in 10-man) whereas fire burnBURNSBURNS! (around 6000 damage in 10-man), so better take a hit rather than running into the fire.

I think everyone got it.

However, lack of raid experience and lack of communications made the whole exercise a lot more difficult than it should have been. Our DPS were spread out at the beginning - probably to avoid burning to death, but unnecessarily complicating the bone-spike thing. One of the DPS (our boomkin) thought it would be a good idea to stand behind the tanks - this did put him in easy battleres range, but meant that the tanks got even more fire to dance out of. One of our healers was doing the mad running chicken dance and occasionally stumbled through the tanks - insta-splat if that coincided with Saberlash.

We managed to get him down to around 50% at one point - just before this happened:

Our raidleader apparently was twice as dead as required. Two ghost debuffs, even.

Ressurection did not make it any better. At that time he tried a relog and found out the login servers were down.

Clearly not a lucky night.

I did ramble on a bit there, didn't I? Well the point is (and you can imagine a drunken handwaving and slur here) that we made progress. Slow progress and it was occasionally painful, but this was how a boss-fight is learnt properly - by not being overgeared and able to overcome game-design by "not having to care". I liked it.



Okay.. I'll post it. I also liked being at the top of the damage meter as a tank. I know it's probably shameful to post and I should possibly have edited out names, but they are all good folks who don't mind ... and *SQUEEEEE*:

Warrior-tank dps is amazing these days *nodnod*.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

How to grab as many eggs as you can at Noblegarden

Been a while since I did this last time, I have to admit - but the same tactics for grabbing as many Noblegarden Eggs still applies as last year, it seems. And quite a lot of eggs are necessary to complete all the achievements it seems.

Now - unlike usual achievements this is one of the few where it pays off to work when everyone else does. This is rather important and based on the spawn mechanism for the eggs.

I'll try and explain: As an example let us choose (entirely randomly - read: where I was the last two years) the quaint little village of Azure Watch. Spread over the entire village are several spawn spots for eggs. Those are fixed - same as nodes for ore and herbs, for instance.

As an example I've marked three positions here (and I'm sure there are better pictures about). On each side of the crystal recreational area three eggs can spawn (Lookity - there is another egg in the top left corner next to the bench - safely out of my reach). Now the eggs behave like fishing pools when spawning.

There is a total number of possible locations (in our example, probably around 40) in Azure watch. Out of those, a total of maybe 5 will have an egg present at any time. As soon as one egg disappears, a new one can spawn in any of the locations. Now if you are being a lazy dwarf like me - and just camping one spot with as many eggs in reach as possible - you don't want to run to all the other places to check for an egg spawn.

If enough people are collecting eggs at the same time, an egg will spawn in your spot soon. If you are alone, you'll have to check all possible locations yourself. And some of those are actually hidden - like, behind a shrubbery or in the dirt or some equally unpleasant locations.

In the snow? Comeon ... the kids will just follow the footsteps.

So anyway.. as long as there are many people running around, picking up all the eggs in a way as inefficient as possible (or at least all 40 locations are camped), eggs will appear in your spot repeatedly and total effort will be low. And limited to following guildchat. Where you can find very politically incorrect gems like this one, then: