Jun 292010

While I’ve not been playing a whole lot lately, the holidays usually bring me out of hiding for a little while.  Since I got Flame Warden on Calhi, and I fell in love with the holiday clothing, I’ve been working in a mad rush to level my shadow priest in hopes of getting enough Blossoms to buy the outfit for her.  The aesthetic of a shadowy female Draenei dancing with flaming hands and feet just sounds cool.  Don’t question my motivations!

At any rate, let me tell a story.

I was testing out one of the leveling guide add-ons that aren’t $60 and advertised in banner ads out in Wetlands, when a Hunter dropped in and insta-invited me to party.  I figured he was killing the same murlocks I was melting and wanted to speed the quest along for both of us.  I hit accept.

Silly, naive Skip.

I found myself in party with the hunter and another priest somewhere off in another area and was instantly queued for an instance.  IT’S A TRAP!  But instances are good XP, so I rolled with it.  While we waited, the hunter was being helpful and on most of the same quests as me, so I was lulled into a false feeling of comfort.

who r u

Wha’, huh?  Oh, it was the other priest.  I wasn’t really sure how to answer the random whisper and was locked in heated combat with more gnolls than someone of my limited priestly understanding should ever be, so I let it scroll away.

stop talking in whispers with him. y won’t u talk to me!?!

I should’ve figured this was my exit, but I calmly tried to explain that I was just killing gnolls and wasn’t holding any secret conversations behind his back.  The instance started!  I figured things should calm down now.  Don’t ask me where all this uncharacteristic optimism and faith in humanity came from.  I’m as baffled as you are.  But faith is a fickle mistress and I was quickly proven wrong.  Gnomer came up and the party (some of which were on their 3rd time there in a row) just wanted out.  The priest wanted to do every side-quest in the area and was quite the vocal minority on the matter, threatening to go off on his own on several occasions.

After grating the tank to the point of insanity, he was kicked with such swiftness I barely got to look at the Yes/No dialog box.  He was replaced instantly like the cheap DPS fodder that he was and the instance went on.  Shortly after, I received a whisper complaining how I didn’t stand up for him.

This friendship is over!

Excuse me?  Friendship?  Yeah.

And this forcefully transitions into my intended topic.  Real ID.  See, I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter and complaints about Blizzard’s new in-gamne chat interface, as I’m sure you have too.  To highlight a few concerns:

  • Your real name is displayed. Whether it be worry of stalking or privacy, lots of people are worried about their Internet life crossing with that IRL thing.  Bloggers are worried about piercing their aliases.  People just, in general, love their anonymity and alternate identities.  They keep the Internet in the Internet.  I’m no stranger to this, myself.  One of my early Internet communities was a collection of authors and writers, and amidst that particular community it was generally considered proper to go by your real name.  I deviated and chose not to, and have written under various pseudonyms for as long as I’ve put words to media.
  • Your friends know all of your characters. No matter what server you run to, what alt you play, or what corner of the world you curl up into, your Real ID friends can find you, hockey mask and machete at the ready.  One luxury of WoW was always that you could make a new character and it was a clean slate in every way.  Some make alts just to get away from guildies or other online friends, just to take a breather and play the game.  Sometimes you just need to get away.
  • You can see the friends of your friends. Like any modern social networking site, you can see what people your friends have connected with so that you, in turn, can find mutual friends and add them yourself.  Remember that this is your real name, so it just manages to make itself that much further out there.  In this era of identity theft, we certainly want to covet every tidbit of info we can.
  • You have to give your friend your account login name. In order to become friends, you have to share your battle.net email address.  For quite a while now, this has also been our login, and so whoever gets this is one-half of the way into robbing your account.  Sure, they say you should have an authenticator, though until they actually come shipped with the game or are otherwise offered up as a part of the existing fees, you can’t expect people to shell out yet more money to Blizzard’s monolith of income.

The list continues, but I think I hit the high points.  And as such, I’ve read that many people have chosen not to use the Real ID system.  And to those people, I congratulate you for making an informed and intelligent decision.  Your reasoning may be slightly off-tilt, but you’re hitting the right targets.

For everyone else, I started with the story I did to emphasize a point.  The priest in that story was an extreme example, and probably just some kid looking for attention, but it’s not an isolated incident, even among mature adults.  I feel that the Internet, particularly social networking sites, have skewed our definition of “friend”.  I’ve met people with over 500 friends on their FaceBook/MySpace/Friendapocalyspe/etc.  Are they all really friends?  Friend has plenty of definitions, and someone you’ve met only briefly and made that interaction enjoyable can certainly be a friend.  But I feel that maybe the phenomenon of collecting friends like stamps has further depersonalized the meaning.

I could debate on that for far longer than a paragraph, but its a topic far better suited for dialog than just me waving my finger and saying “back in my day, we had to walk 50 miles, in the snow, up hill, both ways, to get friends, and we were happy!”  The point I guess I wanted to get at was that Real ID is not a “friends list” as we have come to know it.  If using it concerns you, than you are completely in the right for dismissing it.  In fact, those concerns can be made into a bit of a checklist.  Or better yet, a Choose Your Own Adventure book!

  • [Page 1] Does this friend know your real name?  If not, would you be comfortable with them calling you by it?  If so, turn to [Page 32].
    If these are people who you only interact with on a guild or blog level, and you do not want them behind that veil, turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 32] Would you be comfortable with this friend having your address and cell phone number?  If they showed up uninvited to your door, would you be happy?  If yes, turn to [Page 58].  If these thoughts make you uncomfortable, turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 58] Would it be alright if this friend talked about you with their other friends, even the ones you don’t know?  Would sometimes meeting their other friends not be too much of a put off?  If all of this is fine, turn to [Page 93], else turn to [Page 102].
  • [Page 93] Would you trust loaning this person things on occasion?  Maybe you would loan or spare them a little money from time to time.  This person would be respectful and thankful of that which your share.  If this is the case, turn to [Page 105].
  • [Page 98] The room quickly fills with water.  Unable to escape your weighted shackles, your last gasp of breath fails you and everything fades to blackness.  You’ve learned all too late the dangers of taking candy from strangers.  Also, you shouldn’t read ahead in Choose Your Own Adventure books, cheater.
  • [Page 102] Perhaps this friend is not a good choice for a Real ID companion.  They may be a perfectly upstanding person and maybe one day your relationship will blossom into befitting this union, but for now, you should stick to being regular WoW-based friends.
  • [Page 105] Congratulations, you have met someone truly worthy of your Real ID friendship.  Cherish this bond for all time and it will give you many happy memories and raids.

Yes, I’m being a tad extreme and silly with it.  I admit that I’m just having a little fun in order to take a go at a far simpler point.  If features in the Real ID system have you on edge, it’s very possible that what it is peddling isn’t particularly aimed at your needs.  It’s certainly possible to have deep and fulfilling relationships with people with which you would never get more personal than letting them hear your real voice over Vent.  My main point is that you shouldn’t feel the need to shoehorn this feature into that life, nor blame the feature for not catering to your needs.  I only know two people playing the game who I’d share IDs with, both people I know face-to-face, and only the one has shown open interest in the idea.  He plays on a completely different server and is moving away in a couple months.  I’m happy that Blizzard has come up with a system to fit that singular need for me.  For the rest, the old system has worked just fine.

I didn’t forget.  Your fortune cookie:

[Page 61] After much debate over the dangers of recursive anomalies, you decide to pick up the Choose Your Own Adventure book from the dusty library shelf and begin reading.  Turn to [Page 1].

May 112010

I suppose I should make some sort of comment, rather than fading from notice without a peep.  That’s not how Skip rolls.  Wait, yes it is.  Skip rolls that way all the time.  But this one time, I’ll go against the grain.

It’s been a fun little dance thus far, though I have to admit, it hasn’t always been an easy write when my interest in WoW tends to phase with the moons.  That’s not really what made me fall off, though.  In truth, the time I typically dedicated to writing became filled in with work.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I wrote most of my articles at work.  Funny how that pans out.  Nope, there’s only so many months an employer will let you goof around aimlessly on the Internet before they cautiously put down their foot but not too hard and ask gently if you could maybe work on a project if it’s not too much trouble thank you.  That’s government for you.

Now summer is arriving, and with it comes the potential for a little personal project time.  I’ve strongly debated on it, and I think the time would be better spent on more diverse endeavors, like my WoW-less parent website.  I’d point you to it, but Skip isn’t about the wanton self-promotion.  That’s not how he rolls.  Wait, yes it is.  Skip rolls that way all the time.  But this one time, I’ll go against the grain.

Fortune Cookie:

This isn’t the last you’ll hear of Skip.  You’ve just become family now.  That means you get calls on holidays, birthdays and when he needs money.

Feb 112010

So you want to make a guild.  You can’t all be party to successful, end-game power-raider guilds who make the under-side of your name look sooo gooood, like yours truly.  Even if they out class you in skill, progress and playtime to the point that you could never hope to actually join them in serious group affairs.

Wait, what?

Making guilds!  Right.

So you want to make a guild.  Maybe you’re tired of your guild leader’s inability to cater to your every whim.  Maybe you don’t want to be bothered by people offering for you to join their guild.  Maybe you accidentally took a few extra Celexa this morning and rational thought has taken a backseat to manic impulse.

Whatever the reason, I’ve put it in your head, and now you want to make a guild.  But how?  Don’t worry, Jimmy.  Skip will tell you how.

Step 1: Acquiring a Guild Charter

For the simple price of 10 silver, you can acquire a guild charter.  If you don’t know where to get one, go into any major city and spam trade chat until someone tells you.  Don’t bother with proper grammar or spelling.  People who need for you to spell out your communication in full, well structured sentences to understand you obviously aren’t smart enough to know the answer anyways.  However, many people have difficulty seeing or paying attention.  They may be old or watching TV while they play.  Be sure to repeat yourself often.

Step 2: Picking a Name

Now that you have a charter, you need to pick a name for your guild.  Think carefully.  Whatever you pick, you will be stuck with until next week, when you give up and start a new guild. Blizzard has a strict naming policy when it comes to guilds.  But they’re also lazy and probably won’t care what you pick.  I mean, the expansion has been out for like a year, and paladins are still OP.  So, pick something cool, like <TeH gAy VaMpYrEz>, or <TRANNY SHAMMIES>, or <asdkghldhfsa>.  If they make you change it, remind everyone that Blizzard is gay and how horrible this game you play 12 hours a day is.  What have they got against Shaman Transmission Specialists, anyways?

Step 3: Getting Your Charter Signed

What, you don’t have a guild yet? That’s right.  In order to become an official guild, you have to get your charter signed by 9 people.  A common tactic is to enter a starting area and offer new characters a few gold pieces for the service of signing your charter.  This gives them very beneficial starting capital at little actual cost to them.  A less common tactic is to actually have 9 friends ready to join and run a guild with you.  You aren’t going to do either of those things.

Instead, enter a crowded capital city and run up to every individual without a guild you can find, prompting them immediately with the guild charter signing window.  Most people are dicks and won’t sign, but keep doing it and you’ll eventually succeed.  Don’t talk, just charter.  Talking wastes valuable signing time.  Some people consider this rude, but you’re a rude person.  If they don’t figure this out now, it’s just going to create issues later when they’re in your guild.  It’s better you weed out the soft-skinned pansies now.

Step 4: Guild Management

You’ve done it.  You now have your own guild, complete with new members.  Your responsibilities have ended.  Chat with your new peons.  Remind them that this will be the best guild ever.  The more everyone says that, the better it will be.

Pro-Tip: Promote all of your new members to officers.  Just like in real life, people will do things for you if you make them feel important.  Yet really, all you’ve done is given them the ability to do all of the work for you.

Now, just sit back and enjoy your new guild.  It probably won’t be as exciting tomorrow, but you can always just take the good stuff from the guild bank and /gdisband later.  It’s good to be the guild leader.

Your Fortune Cookie:

Your guild is going to be the best guild ever!

Jan 212010

I’m not hyper-keen on doing link posts. I generally consider them cheap post fodder. I’m making an exception today for Alaron, because I’ve been in the market for a plain and simple explanation on hit-caps that falls somewhere between “just get this number” and “unintelligible theorycraft”. The article hits the main points, gives a basic understanding of the “why” of it all, and doesn’t muddy the waters with anything else. Skip approved!

(I’m also putting it here so I have it for later.  >.>)

Melee Hit Table FAQ – The Fluid Druid

Jan 132010

While I was writing the Survival of the Fittest article, I was thinking on something. Many people who play melee damage characters often comment about how often they spend time face down in the muck for half of the fight. Some have the luxury of plate or dodge mitigation, but it never seems like enough. Those familiar with ranged damage (more so in older instances than modern ones) will tell you to spec pure damage and let the healers keep you up. Maybe that works for them, but we’re in the fray. Some bosses make it really hard to keep at their side, and sometimes all it takes is a single spinny-roundy or green cloud you didn’t catch in time to put you out.

Thus, this article will be about focusing on keeping your fuzzy kitty butt alive. There are those who will disagree with my points of view here, and given my experience, maybe they’re right. Still, I think it’s a meleer’s responsibility to be as self-sufficient in their survival as possible, and that’s the attitude we’ll be going into this thing with.

Proper Attire

You’re a lucky sort. Almost all gear these days seems to come with Stamina. Most Critty Kitties will be using Rogue-ware, as its the latest trend in dominatrix fashion, so you’ll be getting primarily Agility and Stamina. You can actually afford to go balls-out offense. If you find you’re just not staying alive, you do have options, though. A wealth of tanking leather and druid weapons are available. If a few good ones fall to you for being the feral in the party, save them just in case. You’ll probably only have to compete with the Survival Hunter for them. Your group and your DPS may not approve of your clothes, but in an undergeared situation, it might just be better to go in doing less damage than spending the fight face down dealing zero damage.

Talented Survivor

While you do have a cornucopia of tanking talents to boost defense, many of them are Bear-only. Boo. Bear is greedy. But, all is not lost. Kitty comes equipped for the job too.

Improved Mark of the Wild – We’ll start off with a minor off-spec talent. You probably won’t bother if you’ve got a Resto tree in your usual raid group, but if no one else has it, this has good all-around bang for its buck. +2% more to all of your own attributes in addition to improving one of the best buffs in the game. More armor, attributes, and the ever-elusive resistances. If no one else in your group has it, you can’t go wrong with it.

Thick Hide – The Thick Hide vs. Feral Instinct debate is a raging, axe-wielding, possibly menstruating one. You’ll probably take one or the other, and when leveling, I always took Feral Instincts. But, the stealth element is somewhat underplayed in group instances, and whether Swipe (Cat) is worth buffing is arguable. +10% armor isn’t going to make Azeroth move, but it might be worth more than Feral Instincts to you.

Feral Swiftness – I consider this one mandatory. The speed buff gets you out of harm’s way and back into the fight. Your mobility is both extra damage and defense in a sexy little bundle of death. +4% dodge is an extra ounce of defense that the average platey has to spend 4 talent points to match.

Survival Instincts – Identical to the Warrior’s Last Stand, except that you don’t have to go down a different tree to get it. It can still be a stubborn beast to fit into a build, and I’ll admit, it’s often one of the first things I cut out. It’s more worth your while the higher your HP gets, since it heals based on a percentage (and thus will always be of more use to a tank than you). The other problem is remembering you have it.

Predatory Strikes – You’ll be taking this one anyways, simply for the raw attack power. But I tossed it in because of the instant-cast heals it makes available. They can be a life-saver.

Nurturing Instincts – There are those who refuse to take this talent. I refuse not taking it. I consider it irresponsible, really. They see the +healing, and go “*scoff*, I’m a DPS, not a healer, thank you very much.” But the part we want is part Beta: +20% bonus to all healing you take as a cat. A lot of small heals fall around a busy battlefield. The more often you’re topped off with quick or stray heals, the less attention you need compared to your party members. This also improves Improved Leader of the Pack, which may just keep you topped off on your own.

Survival of the Fittest – We discussed this earlier, we did we did. Crit Immune and +6% to all attributes. Probably your single best durability talent. You want this, you do you do.

Improved Leader of the Pack – Either the single best group buff you can offer, or worthless. If you have a Bear tank in your regular group, she probably took this, and yours doesn’t stack with hers. Since you can easily crit once every 6 seconds, this will be a steady source of small heals for you. Nurturing Instinct will improve that heal by 20% (but won’t improve it based on your +healing), giving you an extra 0.8% of your HP each time.

Primal Tenacity – This is primarily a PvP talent, and probably won’t make it into your regular builds. There are bosses that make heavy use of stuns and fear, so you might bring it along conditionally. Probably not, though.

Predatory Instincts – Extra damage is always welcome in my home. You’re probably looking at maybe an overall +1% to 1.5% increase per point, depending on your crit chance. The focus here is the 30% less damage from AoE attacks. Sometimes, you’re going to stand in the fire briefly. Sometimes, bosses blast all the melee around them to knock them back. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that poor kitty is going to get caught in some mess. This applies to a lot of the damage you can expect to take, and 30% is no small dip. Don’t ignore this one.

Berserk – I’m posting this one mostly as a no-no. Berserk makes a great fear-breaking trinket in PvP, but if you save it for that in an instance, you’re wasting it. It creates a HUGE burst of damage, and should be popped off on each and every boss that can afford the aggro spike. I learned this one from experience. Even when the situation arises to use it to break fear, I have to spend a second or two of potential super-damage running back to the target. No bueno.

The Strat: HP > 0

I harp on this a lot, but I’ll say it again. As Kitty Kit Kitterson, you have two traits to hone to a razor’s edge: Awareness & MobilityTM. It’s really easy to get tunnel visioned when staring at those buffs and bleeds, but you’ve also got to find the backside of your target, get there, recognize threats, and get away when necessary. Your #1 survival tool is your own head. A few pointers to further the point:

Stay Out of the Green Sh** – It may be self-explanatory, but we all seem to forget from time to time. Those flames/fumes/tentacles on the floor hurt. You’re probably more resilient than many to them, but hurting yourself is still bad. Get out!

Optimal Attack Location – To get off your Shred and to improve your accuracy, you want to be behind your target. However, many many large enemies like dragons and giants have rear-attacks. Some also tend to do instant 180 turns from time to time, just to annoy you. The optimal spot is typically on the side, just slightly to the rear. They won’t hit you with their tails/back-kicks, and if they flip-flop facing, you’re a tiny side-step from being in position again.

Billy Don’t Be a Hero – More basic knowledge, but worth repeating. One of the worst things you can do for your own safety is to pull aggro. Attack the target that the tank is properly tending. Don’t feel its your job to pull things off of the healer, cuz you’ll just get in the way. Don’t rush the enemy healer in the back, just because you think you’re the only one smart enough to notice it. Call it, get the tank on it, then shred with the peace of mind that comes with not having your skull caved in with two blows.

Back of the Class – This is more a tanking issue, but it’s spelled my doom a time or two. A good tank should face enemies away from the group. One reason is so everyone gets the nice juicy backside exposed to them for the rocking and the socking. The other reason is because if there are more enemies ahead, they will be… well… ahead. A wandering patrol is far more likely to come in from the front. If you’re the furthest ahead because you had to go there to get behind the enemy, you’re the first thing they will see, and it won’t be pretty. It’s not something you have a lot of control over, but be aware of the situation and watch your own back.

Barkskin – You forgot you had it, didn’t you. Ah-aah-ah-aaah (yes, I am five years old) , I knew it! It’s not just for casters anymore. Barkskin works in all forms, doesn’t have a painfully long cooldown, doesn’t trip the Global Cooldown, costs nothing, and offers a short burst of very good damage reduction. If you can’t be bothered to remember you have it, I suggest macroing it to an ability you will remember, like:

/cast Runic Healing Potion
/cast Barkskin

You’ll at least pop it every time you go to use a potion, which is probably an appropriate time to assume you’re freaking out. If you have any other defensive abilities, like Lifeblood from Herbalism, go ahead and macro it to that too. Basically, anything you already use to mitigate damage.

I Will Survive

Melee damage has a bit of a stigma. People picture us primarily horizontal. It’s a challenging role and we get a lot of hate for it. But respect can be earned. Stand tall and proud. Or, er… As tall and as proud as a kitty can. Come to think of it, we are always horizontal…

Ugh. Long, wordy, potentially informative… where’s that delete button? Alright, alright, I’ll leave it, but under one condition! I want to see related posts for Death Knights, Ret Paladins, Rogues, Enhancement Shaman, Fury/Arms Warriors, and, heck, even other ferals. Lots of people talk about how to maximize your damage, but it seems somewhat glazed over in the area of staying alive. How do you keep your melee DPS alive? Then I can sit back and read them while posting random topics about how casual I am. Your challenge is posed!

Your fortune cookie:

As long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive!

Edit: Haha, awesome! I have become the BlogAzeroth shared topic of the week! >>Forumeth Posteth<< Okay, so I did post it there, meaning I wasn’t exactly nominated for my blinding brilliance so much as I was the only person to make a suggestion for that week. (Running unopposed ftw) And as I hadn’t really planned to be omnipotent topic of an entire week, I hadn’t paused to consider that Melee DPS isn’t exactly a universal topic. Whoops. Still, the bloggers of WoW-land are resourceful, and so be sure to watch that space for creative individuals adapting the topic to their interests.