Friday, 30 July 2010

Let's be a little security conscious, shall we?

Not to jump on a bandwagon or anything, but there have been a few better attempts to hack accounts around lately.

This is not one of them. He didn't even point out to me that I was supposed to go there - and what was the silly thing with Blizaard about? Next time at least give the initial whisper a random name to make the shifted line appear more valid.

Anyway... on to the real concern. This morning I got an email that was about as good as the one Noisy Rogue talked about.

It read something like this:


Blizzard Entertainment recently received a request to change the e-mail address used to log in to the account with the username The e-mail address k*** has been specified as the new username for this account. An email has been sent to this new address containing a verification link to complete the change.

Once the new address has been verified, the e-mail address can no longer be used to log in to this account or any World of Warcraft accounts merged with this account.

If you did not initiate this request, please click here to contact the Blizzard Billing & Account Services team immediately.


The Account Team

Online Privacy Policy
MessageID hhyx9n7odruzdcck7w0aptbg
Now if I had not recently changed my email adress, this probably would have been less effective. What surprised me is that it is a perfect copy. This is the actual "you changed no email recently" email.
Spot what's wrong with it?
Neither did I.
Mainly because it's not there. Displayed above is the pure text part of the email - not the html email. In the html version there is a link at the end to contact Blizzard Billing and Account Services.
Let me not quote the wrong one here, but it was not leading instead to a .us site. Well done, it did make me wonder for a while.
Oh yes, and in case you haven't done so yet - go and get an authenticator. Cunningly available from the Blizzard store, which you'll likely find linked on the real Blizzard homepage. I won't even bother linking that here, right?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

The good old times

Right, so this post was inspired by playing a rogue again. Not a rouge, not a mascara- but if you were looking for information on either, here is a link. Don't ask me about the validity of it, I try not to use too much makeup. Doesn't go with the beard stubble.

Anyway, I played another rogue because I wanted to find out if I am still crap at it (yep, nothing changed) and if I could improve my gameplay of one (hmm. Not so far). I am trying out the guides posted by Samuel Tempus over at Slice and Dice. Combat clearly is the way I was meant to play - no thinking, just charge in and bash it to death. Just like a paladin, or deathknight, or warrior.

Except - I die a lot.

Subtlety is the most fun to play. I seriously enjoy taking somethings health out halfway in one ambush, then beating the rest to pulp - except the damage output is laughably pathetic in instances. Or maybe that's just me.

However - and this is where the post cometh from - there are class quests for rogues. Several, in fact, and they are actually great. Now the warrior quests for the defensive and berserker stance are okay, but the rogue ones are something entirely more flavoury.

There are probably a few I will get in the future (I seem to remember one about disarm trap?), the first two being a lockpicking quest and something in Westfall.

In this case, scout out a tower with an evil archmage (or some such) - steal a key from one of his guards (killing it doesn't work), abuse their weakened backsides (they die instantly from Ambush or Backstab) and finally pick the lock to his chest and grab his notes. Really really good fun.

And then you get poisoned.

With one of the old things.

Remember those diseases in Stratholme that made everyone but paladins and dwarves curse? They lasted ages.

Not quite as bad as this one, though. All the major rogue abilities taken out for a week. Of course you can get rid of it by dying (and that was, in fact, a recommended tactic back in the day) or you might find a friendly healer. But if you are a lone wolf (well, lone vegetable, in this case, but that is beside the point) you are out for a rather fun quest.

First you get told that no one can be a proper rogue without knowing about poisons. So far, so good. Apparently you can not train the poisons skill without having to do this quest, but pfft. Then you are told to get yourself checked out in the basement. By a proper doctor, which the rogue guild just has on hand. Yay for forward planning!

This quest actually required you to emote at the NPC. I don't know how many others there are - I think there might be one more? Not sure.

And then there is a conference with his collegues and off you go to collect a cure.

Oh yes... his partners in crime:

A stone statue and a squirrel. And they told me I smell. Wonderful.

Whee.. back to playing, though. This is fun.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

What a short, exciting trip it has been!

Erm yes. Sorry in advance, but another post admiring my own progress coming up. My excuse this week shall be ... hmm... solar flares. No wait, that's too easy. Let's pretend it helps me keep track of what I did when - yeah, that sounds much better. And martians. Under the earth.

Anyway.. took us a whole three weeks to get a shiny meta-achievement. We started basically by just doing heroic modes. The difficulty difference between the single encounters is quite interesting: heroic Blood Queen and Saurfang for instance are almost identical to the normal versions. Heroic Sindragosa and Putricide were a little more interesting. Yes. Interesting is the word I want to use.

In the next week we did the achievements. Not heroic - and in retrospect I'm incredibly happy we didn't.

Let me quote the strategy guide we used in the end (and I don't know where it was originally ripped from, sadly). My comments are just added here as well, to make it appear more "self-made". I should so get into science - I can fake own work like anything!

Marrowgar and Boned - Easy - just nuke the crap out of the spikes.

Lady Deathwhisper "Full House" - Hard - There is a guide on tankspot, but in the end it boils down to getting lucky with your add transformations. At the end we had 7 adds up when we finally killed her. The achievement was listed as "hard", same as Sindragosa. Ha!

Lootship and "I'm on a Boat" - Easy - "Just rotate the people who jump and be imba on cannons". That basically summed it up. I would have preferred the tactic with one tank, one healer and all melee dps jumping over and staying permanently - then evade the enraged and unhappy boss by hopping up on his bridge and back down again ... but this was easy.

Saurfang "I've gone and made a mess" - Easy - This is one of the "done it right" achievements. You should get this.

Festergut "Flu Shot shortage" - Easy - First spore people run away, second spore people do their normal thing and first innoculated people run away again. Third spores are distributed as normal.
Rotface "Dances with oozes" - Medium - Start as per normal - once you merge 4 oozes into the 1st big thing - move along to a secondary spawn point sufficiently after the 1st tank who is dragging the ooze in a circle. Have a 2nd kiter - possibly a ranged dps pick up the 2nd big ooze and keep kiting it after the tank - not letting the 2 merge. We used three tanks for this.

Putricide "Nausea, Heartburn, Indigestion..." - Easy - Nuke the crap out of the oozes - as you are not allowed to slow them - normal strategy is fine. This works especially well with a mage casting invisibility on the first tear gas and taking out the orange ooze before it becomes active. Ranged DPS helps but is not technically required.

Princes "The Orb Whisperer" - Easy - Keleseth tank must have five dark balls and empowered flame has to be walked under before it is allowed to reach a person to minimize the incoming damage.

Blood Queen "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" - medium - Stupid achivement that can be given to a few people each weak. Other than that easy enough.

Valithria "Portal Jockey" - Easy - Either have a 4th offspec healer with us to take 3rd portal every go - which would make encounter even faster or have a random dps take the 3rd portal every time. We used the fourth healer.

Sindragosa "All you can eat" - Insane - Basically on the last phase - People have to get behind iceblocks before you can reach 5 stacks of the stacking debuff that is applied by Sindragosa on the last phase "Mystic Buffet" it's called. With some practice doable. This was (luckily) nerfed from the original 4 stacks max. And it's still incredibly hard. We finally did it by keeping two iceblocks up and only killing the older one when the tank shouted "clear". Tank communication was the most important. A close second is the placement of the iceblocks - both need to be as near the head as possible, but obviously avoid trapping anyone else. On our last attempts we tanked Sindragosa in the centre of the grey circle and dropped the iceblocks on the edge (lighter grey) - right distance, but OH BOY did this take practise.
Lich King - "Been waiting for a long time for this" - medium - The first plague has to be dispelled "away" from the horrors/ghouls (and the raid, obviously) to make sure you loose it. The second plague goes onto the monsters as normal - and by then enough ghouls and horrors have spawned to stack it to 30. A little bit of DPS control is required to not push the Lich King into the next phase prematurely. He looses his "increased damage" buff in phase 2, so once you got 30 stacks of plague and pushed him into phase 1.5 the rest of the fight works as normal.
And what was that all about. Well, the flappy thing, obviously. And because I still remember Tamarind complaining about mounting his dwarf, here are some pictures of the thing as well.

Just the "showing off" screenshot here. I have to say, I enjoy the skeletal look. Better than those ridiculous griffins the deathknights get, anyway.

And the seating position is quite nice actually. Doesn't look as weird as on the bear or the tiger. Something is wrong with the poor guys snout, though.

Oh yes.. and it's a nice mount. Because I got it from Darion Mograine, not that silly bugger Fordring.

Monday, 12 July 2010

So what have I learnt from the RealID debacle?

Was there a message for me, personally, in all that mess?

Several, actually.

I’ve been going about my online life moderately carefully so far. I do have a facebook account (err no – no link, thanks), but most of my settings are locked to “friends only”. I have (in retrospect) added a few too many people there – some who I’d only consider very casual acquaintances – while a few people are clearly missing. Professional “facebookish” services are not very widely used over here (yet?).

Unfortunately, that was not always the case. On a webpage I own, I had an email published for a very long time, complete with @ and .de, for every crawling spam-bot to find and abuse. Many bloggers already are better there, using (at) and (dot) and such in their descriptions – or going to even greater lengths to make sure a human reader will understand, while a machine will be stumped (hopefully).

So apart from cancelling an account (and reactivating once they had assured us it wouldn’t happen), what have I done?

Well, I’ve been over my facebook settings again – I’ve made triple sure it’s all “friends”, not “friends of friends”. I’ve changed and created several new email accounts – Blizzard has its own (so any “official email” not appearing there has to be phishing by default), as does the Blog and the other games. I wish I could have changed my name on the Blizzard account to John Doe – sadly phone support was never available, so I couldn’t even try.

I’ve also upped the general paranoia levels a bit. Basically: It’s Blizzards fault, but no future game subscription will see a real name ever again. There will be faked parts in it – added advantage: Should I get snail-mail at home with the fake name, I’ll at least know who sold out my name.

Larissa has waxed poetically about how much of a loss of trust this was – single employees are still okay in her book, the company as a whole has lost her trust.

I can’t say that I’d put it the same way. Some Blizzard employees apparently fall for the same traps that players do. They thought that sharing a bit of information wouldn’t hurt, that it would all be secure enough. Interestingly, those are also the people who don’t mind putting their name on the forums (see the case of the poor Community Person – weather it was his information or someone else’s doesn’t really matter at this point). Those who were the ones to cry for their privacy are likely also the ones who would have been hard to find anyway.

Still, the matter remains – it is not for a game company to decide (retroactively, I might add, otherwise I would have been John Doe since the start) to share my information with other people.

So yes… internet safety is not something we can ignore. It’s also something a lot of people do not take care of properly. There are guides for safety on the web (surprise, surprise) – and even though many of them are written for parents with children in mind, the general information does apply. Let me quote from the FBI “Parents Guide to Internet Safety”:

Instruct your children:

- to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line;

- to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know;

- to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;

- to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images;

- to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;

- that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.

Now I don’t agree to all of those suggestions myself.

I have had, in fact, many very pleasant guildmeetings in real life. They were my choice to participate in, however, and there was a promise of beer and cocktails and pizza and long debates about the state of warlocks (or earlier: Dragontaming and Lightsabers).

I also may once or twice in my life have deliberately downloaded a sexually explicit image. Again, my choice (and I'd do it again).

I decided to trust those strange people I played games with enough to go out for a beer (at a youthful 25 or so for the first time – maybe I was still overconfident), and I decide what I download.

Especially the "don't meet strangers" line appears a lot more sensible for children than adults, though, and the rest of the lines basically describe what I do not want Blizzard to distribute to the public – or even for Blizzard to just possess. My name and phone number and my photo.

Lastly: Not everything told online is true (that line applies especially to companies that want to make a profit. Yes, that is really everyone. Up the paranoia please, it is a good idea) and replying to trolls never helped – and can be used by online companies as an excuse for a blatant abuse of privacy.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A cunning plan, in retrospect!

Did you notice that the instance we are currently considering "proper content" is in the frozen cold north? With lots of frost attacks and cold things and ice and such?

Even though it completely ruins immersion - it really makes me want to go there!

Friday, 9 July 2010

And now for something completely different - Part 1

Part 1 - see what I did there? Keeping you all in suspense while you wait for part 2. Oh cunning, cunning me.

Anyway. Today, class, we'll be talking about tanking Sindragosa. More specifically - why on earth were we so silly to switch the tank in front of her face in phase 2.

Let me illustrate something nifty with a picture or two - after all, a picture says more than a thousand words and only uses about six-thousand times as much memory.

So this is roughly what the fight looks like in phase 2 (10-man displayed here). An angry dragon is on the ground, pulsing frost damage, rending and tearing (and cleaving - never forget about the cleavage) and she occasionally breathes fire frost. The frost (while welcome at a time like this, with temperatures outside in the gazillion degrees) slows down the tanks' (and hopefully not some stray dps) movement speed. Running behind the iceblock while a second tank rushes up, taunts here in the face, possibly eats half a frostbreath is thus not really the ideal solution.

And I still can't believe we didn't figure that out earlier.

So basically the cunning trick is to park the second tank on her right hind leg (as indicated above nicely by a red circle. No the other red circle. The one on the right hind leg! Yes... that one!) and have him step under her tail just before the taunt. The iceblocks are close, not much running is involved and the tanks get a really enormous visual indicator of aggro.

Frostbreathing dragonface? You got aggro!
Ginormous Dragon Arse? The other tank has her attention. Go and have an icecream remove your stacks.

Now I can see how the above image is possibly a bit confusing, so here - have another one.

See the positions now? One tank and one iceblock per side. No need to run (for the tanks) from the head to the ice and back - just a simple taunt, tank, wait, sidestep, getridofstacksnownownowohpleasedon'tkilltheiceblockalreadywhewokay, taunt, etc.

Easy peasy.

Why did we not think of this before?

Thursday, 8 July 2010

How to contact Blizzard or Cancel your Account?

Interesting. In this time of strife, the phone lines at Blizzard are permanently full. This being the second day that I try to reach someone to change my name (preferred) or cancel my account.

I cannot, however, reach Blizzard on the webpage either. Trying to follow the link from the homepage most of the time leads to a "failed to find this page" error.

Here you are, though:

For us Europeans that is the link to account management on The "Cancel Subscription" button is near the top.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The good and the bad, all in one shiny day...

A bright day it is. Sun is shining, a few white clouds about to break up the monotony and we are currently stuck at 25°C. Perfect in every sense.

Yesterday it was a little bit cooler and a little more cloudy, but of course yesterday I finally handed in my 25 saronites and a few bits and dribbles and got my Shadow's Edge. A proper highlight as well. I am now wondering about how to most quickestest get my 1000 souls. This is probably the coolest way in a long time. I have sort of decided to play DPS during trash and go back to tanking for proper fights.

And use a weird abomination spec for the fights with Putricide, Sindragosa and the Blood Queen. Of course it's possible to tank with a two-handed weapon and a shield - it just requires a bit of creativity. Ends up a lot like this, though:

Impractical, and frankly, quite hideous (to quote an old friend).

So yay! Highly cheered up and bouncy all night. Looking forward to the next days.

And then, of course, came the bad. The weather forecast predicts something around 38°C for the weekend. I play near the roof in a room with one window (and a fan, a blessed, precious fan). It's not going to be pretty (and only part of that is because I might have to play topless. I am not a supermodel).

There also is this RealID thing. When it first was announced I was sort of looking forward to it. I would love to be able to chat with my friends from other servers. It worked in Star Wars Galaxies (not very well - you had to enter the names manually as in MyFriend-ServernameofLengthyWeirdSpellingInStarWarsStyle) and it's nifty. And then I got to read the FAQ (linked again here, because it needs to be easier to find).

So friends of my friends can see my real name?

In addition, players with Real ID relationships will be able to view each other's online status, Rich Presence information, and Broadcast messages, and will be able to see which character and game their Real ID friends are playing across supported Blizzard games.

Oh really now? So people I do not know - or worse, actively do not like (we had this argument before, some of my friends really enjoy playing with someone I'd call a total tosser) - know my name, the game I currently play, which alt I am on (some of which I specifically created to avoid the tosser specific people) and what server and such?

Admittedly - in most cases that won't be a big problem. I am fairly laid back about abuse (see the Spellpower DK posts - I'm currently trying to generate rude remarks) and can ignore a lot, but it's a little concern.

Look, even facebook allows me to choose to share my information only with friends. Facebook. You know? The people Blizzard just signed a cooperation with? The security nightmare of security nightmares? Not Blizzard, though.

Does this concern me?

Well, it didn't so much when I started online gaming. I was a mere 20 years old, going on 21. The internet was still young and the search engine of choice was Altavista and possibly Yahoo!. Are they even still around? Seems like. I was actually proud when my email account got the first spam message.

When I finished university and applied for my first job, I didn't feel bad about listing my work on Stratics as a hobby. It outlined that I actually wrote English well enough to post on an international site. That's how I meant to play that card and that's (luckily) how my employer read it. I did get a question on "I hope you'll find enough time to work with all that internet gaming", but didn't even react to that at the time.

Currently, I see the whole situation a bit more critical. I have published a paper or two on academic subjects. I'd rather like those found than a post of mine on technical problems connecting to my favourite a game. I have posted on the official boards a grand total of three times in the last five years. Still too many for my employer to find out about.

I want the choice to display private information - and yes, I consider my name private.

Blizzard seemed to agree with this up until two years ago:

Nowadays, this seems to be different - and pretty much all blogs and large sites connected with World of Warcraft have pointed that out. Once or roughly 22 thousand times (at 7 pm Central European Time today).

My cunning plan was to just change my name. They don't technically need an accurate name for their billing - I can just pay by gametime card like any good troll or chinese farmer. Sadly, it's impossible to change my name without rather large legal hassle. I remembered giving up on that point before when my wife accepted my name.

Upload legal documents pertaining to my namechange? I'm sorry, but this goes too far for a game.

A lot of quite real concerns have been brought up within the uproar - about stalking, about discrimination and about using the game as an escape from real life. I'll not reiterate. Check a random link (not usually known for their lenience towards whining) for examples.

At lunchtime today I was completely with Gnomageddon. I'm real sad to see him cancel (him? her? I'll never find out via RealID now - and can't send him/her chocolates either by a simple google search. Such an opportunity lost!) but I was very much tempted to do the exact same thing.

I have calmed down a little, though. At the moment I choose not to enable RealID and I'll give Blizzard until the end of my current billing period. The outcry is rather massive and cannot really be overlooked. They are basically aware that this was not a good stunt to pull.

Make some changes to the system to allow me more choice over who and where I want to share information. I'm quite happy playing the game, but I am not willing to have World of Warcraft trample all over my privacy. When this billing period is over, I'll have to reevaluate my commitment. In the current state of affairs we will be parting.

And yes, I am aware that no one from Blizzard will reach an outlying Blog such as this. I merely use this as a medium of information for friends and family. Don't add me to RealID yet - I have no intention whatsoever of accepting anything.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

So it came to pass that it was my wifes birthday...

And as usual, I am out of ideas. So I got her "4 inches more".

Now before you start spluttering.... it's not as bad as it sounds. I've done it before, and even though the whole procedure does leave a sizeable dent in the finances, it's usually well worth it. Of course... there is usually a small wait involved.

Last time it was only 2 inches, for starters, but this year she's got the whole deal. Wider as well.

And not to get back at her for "My husband is a big fat meanie" or anything, but I did NOT want to hear "it looks so tiny" when she first unwrapped it. That is just NOT how it's done!

Of course, once we got it all going properly the comment of "Oh my god, this is the biggest thing I've ever seen" helped a little.

And before this all gets out of hand... this is what I am talking about.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Abolish Disease may not be the ideal choice

Right. So a guy who plays melee classes (preferrably plate) decides to do a post about a healer spell. We all remember (that can be the royal we) about my single time healing in normal Nexus. It was not pretty. A bit like this, really:

However, for once I feel vaguely qualified to talk about a topic that is very dear to me. In todays case: The abolish disease spell.

More specifically, the Lich King fight.

I mentioned this before (Sockpuppet.. yay!), but I usually get to tank the Shambling Horrors and kill them with the plague of doom. Shame the damage is not counted for me on Recount - several million damage to the protection warrior would be a nice change for once.

Now if you are unsure about the mechanics, I can recommend all sorts of links - how about this one. They do make their lives unneccessarily difficult with this positioning, but ah well. At least all the abilities are touched upon and it has shiny images.

Our topic today: Necrotic Plague.

The necrotic plague bounding around the platform is what is required to kill some of the adds. It does 50k damage (10 man - 100k in 25man) per stack every 3 seconds. That also means you don't want it on a player for more than 2.95 seconds or so (2.99 if you really don't like them). Whenever the plague gets dispelled it jumps to a new eligible target in range - and range is small. So what the guide (and me) suggests is that you run close to a horror, have it dispelled off you, make it jump onto the horror and then watch the horror die messily a bit later.

The plague gains a stack whenever it jumps off a target naturally - two possible things can cause this:

1) It lasted for the full 12 seconds on a shambling horror,
2) It killed the target.

Yes, technically you can kill your offtank to gain an extra stack, however it is generally preferred to use the ghouls and horrors for having more stacks.

Also, of course our buddy Arthas does not just cast one, he will occasionally infect a new player with the plague just to make sure we have a fair chance to finish off his minions.

So .. what does that look like? Something like this...

The muddled mess on the top left side is the melee group. They are all doing their best to beat up the Lich King. A tank is also holding all the ghouls in position (all the ghouls? almost!) and merry AoE commences occasionally when people feel like it. The healers and ranged dps are grouped up in the bottom left corner. Only a leap away from the shambling horror (shown here in it's unenraged state).

Same image with more marks. All sorts of addons told me that I just got infected. And my debuff icons in the top right tell me it's 8 stacks. Oh nice. 400k damage inbound in 3 seconds and counting.

This is the point where one of our healers presses their "cure it now" buttons. And we can just hope it works. Mainly, because of this:

Note the "attempts"? Yeah.. they don't like us.

At first I thought there is hope, because of:

No attempting here, right? It's all going to be fine, right? Nothing can happen right? Notice the shaking and the edge and the slight insanity here?

Well.. it turns out that the "person" casting the spell is a level 83 boss. And of course all dispell mechanics have a chance to fail against effects cast by a higher level. Now this is where the melee-plate-dps shines through - I have not the foggiest idea how to ensure a dispell against higher level targets. Spell hit? Spell penetration? Lucky shake of the dice?

At least the official forums have no better answer either, but they confirm that "yes, Abolish and Cure Disease can fail and then people will die".


If you rely on spells to cure the disease on the Lich King fight you might end up with dead people. Make sure the cure actually went through - when in doubt, trust the little green blinking light on your heal addon and cure again!