Adventures in Azeroth

It’s a Druid’s World (of Warcraft)

Emmerald’s list updated for 2.3

As reported by Of Teeth and Claws recently, Emmerald’s oft-quoted ranked list of feral druid gear has been updated for patch 2.3 gear.

Of Teeth and Claws, along with Big Bear Butt Blogger, have become my two favorite blogs as of late.  Both have a great mix of technical analysis, insightful comments and a dash of humor.  Just please Karthis, for the love of Elune and all that is holy, deliver us from the evil that is your current green on green color scheme.

Now back to our regularly scheduled show…

As I, and virtually every blogger I read linking to Emmerald’s list also does, please remember that deep red (yes, not grey) organ between your ears.  It has many functions, including critical analysis.  Emmerald’s list, while a wonderful, time-saving tool, is only a tool and should not dictate your gear choices to you.

Emmerald has updated his site, adding a front page to his lists.  He himself takes the time to point out that the rankings are based on mathematical formula, not actual gameplay or even simulations, and therefore should be used a quick reference.  Also to keep in mind is the rankings do not factor in playstyle or party members.   Make sure to read his comments on this front page, they are really helpful in understand what the rankings are all about and which is most appropriate to you.  For more information, he provides a link to a forum where the list is discussed.

Emmerald has also updated his approach to gems.  For each socket, he decides whether the socket is best fit with the matching color for the socket bonus, or a “best available” gem of another color.  If a gem of a color other than the socket is used, then the sockets and the socket bonus is overstricken, and the gems that are recommended are listed after the actual socket colors.

It took me a little bit to figure out how exactly this works.  The key is the “info” page for each category of gear.  On this page, Emmerald lists the gems, and their rankings, used for that gear category (e.g. Bear Mitigation).  So if the gem sockets are overstricken, just look at the end of the overstrike and you should see the colors that were used in the ranking calculation. 

For example, on the Bear Mitigation – Head page, you should see the Stag Horn of Malorne listed as the seventh best piece of gear.  The sockets for this item are a yellow and a meta; although you see they are struck through, as is the socket bonus of 4 agility. After the strikethrough is listed [MB].  This means Emmerald is recommending bypassing the socket bonus and using a meta and a blue gem instead.  The meta and the blue gem recommended, along with his other recommendations, are on the info page.  In this case, for Bear Mitigation, he recommends a Powerful Earthstorm Diamond for the meta slot and a Solid Star of Elune for the blue slot.

Note that Emmerald only uses rare gems for his calculations.  If you are lucky enough to have epic gems, then certainly use them if appropriate.

Forms Bar

January 15, 2008 Posted by | Druid Gear, Online resources, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

‘Tis the season

I’ve noticed a couple “resolution lists” around the ole blogosphere, both WoW-related and not, so I figured I’d jump in.  I’m really not a big one for resolutions; I get the symbolism of a new year’s beginning just fine, but don’t feel one particular day of the year is necessary to make a decision to change.  That being said, I have been thinking about some WoW goals lately, and this is a good time to put them down on (virtual) paper.

Content goals – as in, “How did I get so far behind?”

  1. Earthwarden (need CE rep)
  2. 5,000 gold for epic flying skill
  3. Complete Epic Flight Form questline
  4. Full Kara run
  5. Full Gruul’s Lair run
  6. Venture into Serpentshrine Cavern
  7. Pay more attention to gear enchantments

WoW Goals

  1. Find a new, great guild
  2. Re-build my UI from the ground up and document it on the blog in an understandable series

Blogging Goals

  1. Move to self-hosting.  There are just too many things I want to do with the blog that I can’t on a free WP blog.  I’ll be sticking with WordPress (great software), but moving to my own hoster. 
  2. Provide relevant content to non-feral Druids.  I have a couple ideas here, but one hope is to integrate all the great gear suggestions out there into one, easy to use location. 
  3. Improve the look of the site.

Life Goals

  1. Finish play-testing on the card game I’ve designed.  (Yes, I plan on publishing it and Yes, you will ALL be buying it…  😉 )
  2. Plan a 10 year anniversary trip to Maine and Vermont (my wife has always wanted to go)
  3. Buy a new car

That’s it for me.  Tag – you’re it!!!

Forms Bar

January 2, 2008 Posted by | World of Warcraft | 17 Comments

A philosophical question

With apologies to the classic:

If a guild member /gquit’s and no one is there to see it, is it a stealth quit?

My WoW life has reached a new low here at the end of the year.  I’ve briefly written a couple times before that my guild was slowly dissolving after some key officers left to form a more hardcore raiding guild.  Numbers had been dwindling and even during core playtimes there were only 6 or 7 guildies on usually, with only 1 or 2 of them being 70s. 

So when I logged on a couple days ago and there was absolutely no one from the guild logged on, I just went ahead and quit.  I wasn’t trying to avoid confrontation or questions, it just felt like time.

I still enjoy this game a lot and may apply to the new guild I’ve found, but for now I’m having some fun with alts, enjoying some time off with my spouse and looking forward to a new year.

I’m looking forward to working out a play schedule with my spouse that works for both of us (she isn’t a player and doesn’t like computer games in general), and finding a new guild.  I have so much work to do – it’s amazing how quickly you can fall behind in this game. 

I hope you all  had a wonderful holiday, no matter how it is celebrated where you are or by your faith.  Here’s wishing all of you a happy and prosperous 2008!

Forms Bar

December 31, 2007 Posted by | World of Warcraft | 7 Comments

Warcrafter.net – PWNED!

Okay – got one last response from Cerberus on saving a buffed character and it all came together.  In case you’re having issues too, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to the main warcrafter page and search for your toon.
  2. Go into Sandbox mode.
  3. Click the Save Character button.  This will generate and redirect you to a new page with your character “saved”.  You’ll notice a number in the URL.
  4. NOW, click the buffs header and apply buffs like Dire Bear or Cat, etc., etc.
  5. Click the Build Stats button.
  6. Go back into the buffs window and the URL will be updated to represent that unique build.  You’ll notice that the querystring data that represents buffs are appended to the end of the generated URL for the character you saved.

So, “saving” your character saves a gear setup, and buffs allow you to generate a URL with forms, buffs and consumables applied.  Sorry for all the posts on this, but it looks to be a great tool, but it wasn’t clear to me how to generate multiple, working URLs for the same toon.  So just in case you were having the same problem – I hope this helps.

Forms Bar

December 20, 2007 Posted by | Online resources, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Glad it’s not just me…

I just read this article on WoW Insider.  In it, Matthew talks about the challenges of playing well into the night – where sleep deprived Priests fake disconnects, and instances that should be quick, clean walkthroughs become extended corpse runs.  While Matthew’s experience was surely frustrating, it came at just the right time for me.

As you can probably guess from reading my posts over the last few months, I haven’t been playing much.  Correct that – I haven’t been playing as much as I used to.  Most of my time online has been some solo work on Amanna, and playing around with some new alts (level 19 Warlock and level 17 Shaman).  Basically a lot of personal drama combined with the disintegration of my guild has contributed to little time online, and basically no time in instances or raids.

So, when I had a couple hours over the weekend to kill I logged in to see what kind of trouble I could get into.  Almost immediately, I got a /pst from one of the few remaining 70’s in our guild wondering if I was interested in a Steamvaults run.  Heck yea!  Not only had I not done any instancing for longer than I will admit, SV was perfect in that I still need to build CE rep for my Earthwarden.

I know, I know, you don’t have your Earthwarden yet???  Hey, sometimes that thing called “life” has to be attended to for a while…

Anyway, I got the invite and the group was a PUG.  If I remember right it was me, a Pally, a Warlock, a Hunter and a Rogue.  Everyone was from different guilds.

Well, you probably can guess the punchline – it was a horrible run.  Multiple wipes even before the first boss.  I was really thinking it was me; that I was too rusty or something.  And that probably did contribute a bit to the bad run, but you know what?  Sometimes, as pointed out in the WoWI article, you just have a bad run.  I’ve done Steamvaults plenty of times before and had flawless runs in less gear than I’ve got now.  Plus, it doesn’t help when you’re in a PUG where no one wants to mark, the rogue is sapping the right target but in the wrong mob group, and the Shaman keeps whining “I can’t heal you if you’re not in my line of sight.”  Well then MOVE, dammit! 

So, yea I’m probably a bit rusty.  But you gotta accept that you’re going to have a bad run here and there.  I guess my time was this past weekend.

One thing I did notice is that my my new custom UI was more of a hindrance than a help.  I actually miss the lower resolution a bit.  Text on the screen is really small and my eyes aren’t what they used to be.  Plus, maybe I was just too used to my old action bar setup, but I’m having a hard time adjusting to this new layout.  With the amount of addons in the package, my framerate really took a hit also.  Now, that’s not to say that the ADUI package didn’t open my eyes to some great addons that I wasn’t aware of, but I’ve found that I probably don’t need around half of the stuff that’s in the package.

So, one decision I made out of the run is to move away from the custom package and rebuild my UI from the ground up, getting back to something more like what I used to have, but integrating the addons I found out about by using the package.  In the tradition of BRK’s recent Omen overview (which was great – thanks Damh), I’m planning on documenting the rebuild and posting it here in case there are others out there looking to build or just revamp their UI and could use some help.  You all probably know more than I do, but hey – it sounds like a fun project.

Forms Bar

December 19, 2007 Posted by | Custom UI, Instances, World of Warcraft | 2 Comments

Cerberus responds – Warcrafter sandbox mode fixed for IE

I checked the forums this morning and had the following reply from Cerberus:

“Amanna: thanks for stopping by :p. I loaded your profile and checked the buffs you mentioned (also saving your character for the first time will clear any buffs currently checked) and the mentioned new was working for me: either http://www.warcrafter.net/sandbox/10602?b=0i1M1R or http://eldrethalas-us.warcrafter.net/amanna?b=0i1M1R . It’s the querystring part that adds the buffs 🙂 I hope this makes sense :p
edit: oh I see, it’s just not working in Internet Explorer haha, thanks I’ll get it fixed. edit2: I think its fixed.”

I played around this morning a bit, and I’m still having some trouble with the Save Character button, but the URL string on the Buffs page works.  Here’s what you do:

  • Go into Sandbox Mode
  • Click the Buffs link
  • Check off the buffs you want to represent (this is where Bear and Cat form is)
  • X out to close the window
  • Click Build Stats
  • Click the Buffs link again
  • Copy the URL link at the top.  It has all the querystring info it needs to re-create this character

You can now use that link as a representation of your character.

I posted in the forum again to see if I’m using the Save Character button incorrectly, but I can’t get it to save a character, with buffs, and supply a link that works.

Enjoy!

Forms Bar

December 19, 2007 Posted by | Online resources, World of Warcraft | 1 Comment

More Warcrafter stuff

Hopefully by now you’ve played around with Warcrafter.  It looks like my links got a lot of clicking!  That, along with BRK’s original article and the WoW Insider article – I’m guessing most of you have checked it out.  I was just poking around in it briefly this morning, and saw they had a shout-out to me, BRK and WOWI.  Thanks Warcrafter!

The one thing I can’t get to work is getting a URL that I can share to represent different gear sets.  I know Cerberus of Illidan has been very active in the forums posting update threads and responding to questions/comments.  So I just posted this question:

“Hey Cerberus,

Amanna here of Adventures in Azeroth.  Thanks for the shout-out on your site.  It’s a great site and you deserve all the gratz you’re getting.

I have a quick question.  I’m trying to get something working and I think it may be a feature that isn’t implemented yet, but I just want to check.

Let’s say I go into Sandbox mode and buff up with Dire Bear, LotP and MotW.  I then rebuild stats.  I’d like to share this build.  I’ve tried the “Save Character” option and the URL that’s shown in the Buffs window.  If I take either one over to a new tab in IE and navigate to that URL, they both simply return my basic screen as it first appears without the buffs.

I’d love to be able to use your site to represent two different builds/gear sets – say Bear and Cat.  Am I doing something wrong, or are those URL’s not intended to be permanent?

Thanks in advance – keep up the good work.
Amanna”

When Cerberus posts a reply, I’ll be sure to share it with you.  In the meantime, if any of you have a comment on this, please post it for the rest of us.

Forms Bar

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Online resources, World of Warcraft | Leave a comment

New, very cool, resource site

You guys may have seen this before, but until BRK mentioned it, I hadn’t heard about this.  The site is Warcrafter, and it is very cool.

Think The Armory (only very fast) + WoWhead’s talent calculator + CT Profiles.

Yea – it’s that cool.

I checked out this forum post for a little background.  Looks like the site is being put together by a Cerberus, an undead warlock (ew!) and his girlfriend (double ew – lol!!).  All kidding aside, this site is very well done.  Especially considering Cerberus says he considers the site to be only in beta.  While the site looks very nice, I think he means he can’t guarantee absolute accuracy on generated stats, etc.

I gave a run through the site and for beta, I was very impressed.  The first thing that strikes you is how fast it is.  I’m not sure if this is because it’s fairly new, or if it’s just programmed better than The Armory, but this thing rocks.  I hardly ever use The Armory for no other reason than how slow it is.  With Warcrafter, you just type in a character name and server from the home page, and in about 2 seconds you get a full page with stats, gear, talent spec, buffs, etc. 

The second thing that’s cool about this site is the Sandbox Mode.  In Sandbox Mode you can build a character from the ground up, specifying all relevant gear, buffs, etc.  This is where it gets interesting for me.  With the death of CT Profiles, I’ve been looking for a way to represent different gear sets.  The Armory only displays what you logged out of play with recently.  As Druids, we often have multiple gear setups.  I for one have full Bear and Cat sets, along with a hodge-podge of healing gear if needed.  With Warcrafter’s sandbox mode, you can build each gear set, hit the Save button, and then use that profile to send to guildies, friends and family for all to enjoy.

The site’s features are numerous even for being new and in beta.  What I like the best is the extensive tooltips.  Just about everything that’s on the page can be hovered over for more information.  Warcrafter breaks down everything so you can see exactly what is impacting a particular stat.  So not only is the site useful for representing different gear sets, but I can see using Sandbox Mode to compare different setups.  The only word of caution would be not to rely on it as “the gospel” until it seems stable and stats are being represented accurately. 

I haven’t read the entire forum post – there’s 23 pages of comments already.  Cerberus lists the following as key features in his original post:

  • ‘Sandbox mode’ both for existing and new characters, which lets you alter gear, talents, gems, enchants, buffs etc. and save it for reference and linking to friends/guildies.
  • Search through character database with more options then Armory (e.g. to view all 70 priests on your server, you’d search for e.g. “70 priest Blackrock”). Only characters that have been viewed at least once are searchable.
  • Made a start with guild progression, I haven’t all the bosses in the database yet so it’s not yet completely accurate.
  • Extensive tooltips for equipment: view rating conversion, socket stat stacking, how each stat affect other stats. http://www.warcrafter.net/images/b/warcrafter1.jpg.
  • Extensive tooltips for stats: see what each stat is composed of, taking into account gear, enchants, talents and buffs. http://www.warcrafter.net/images/b/warcrafter2.jpg.
  • Extensive tooltips for spells: see each spells’ dps(/hps), crit chance, damage-per-mana, tps, what it crits like, etc; taking into account your gear, talents, enchants and buffs. http://www.warcrafter.net/images/b/warcrafter3.jpg, http://www.warcrafter.net/images/b/warcrafter4.jpg.

Okay, I’ll shut up.  This site is cool.  Go to it.  NOW!

Forms Bar

December 11, 2007 Posted by | Online resources, World of Warcraft | 3 Comments

He Said / She Said – Gold selling version

I continue to do some research here and there on the gold selling front.  Not arguments for/against – those battle lines have long been drawn.  No, I’ve been trying to track down some hard facts on whether the owner of some of our favorite online research sites – WoWhead, Thotbott and Allakazham – are or are not connected with gold selling.

However you feel about gold selling, I believe you should have solid facts on which to base the decision of what online sites you use.  And while I have not seen a gold selling ad on any of those websites recently, if in fact the parent company of those sites indeed owned other gold selling interests, then I believe that would be information of interest to some of my readers.

This is actually much harder to track down than you would think, and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure I have “hard” facts for you to look at.  But here’s what I have so far…

I started with the original announcement of the acquistion from the Wowhead site.  This is the one of course, wherein the parties involved in getting married denounce any claim of current infidelity.   As if any of us believe that the questions asked, and the responses given in the “interview” that was part of the news item has any link to reality.  Those are scripted events and everyone knows that.  It doesn’t necessarily mean they are lying, just that nothing about it would force you to tell the truth.

The statements in that announcement clearly say that the gold selling organization was IGE, not ZAM, and that ZAM had sold IGE:

“Didn’t you sell to a bunch of gold sellers?

Tim:Nope, and that would have been a deal killer. The ZAM guys are an independent content business, and they don’t promote RMT (Real Money Trade). Period. You will never see gold ads on Wowhead or their other ZAM sites. We made sure that was true before proceeding.

What is the deal with Affinity Media? Why all the secrecy?

John:Affinity Media is a privately held company with gaming assets that operate independently. This includes the ZAM Network. The reason we are not more forthcoming in what the company owns and does it there are a lot of moving pieces. At one point, the company owned IGE but it was sold this spring. It was a private transaction so we can’t reveal details. As head of the content network, I was thrilled we sold.”

Ah, okay – there we go.  ZAM and IGE are both part of some big company.  Big company buys WoWhead, they don’t like the gold selling part of the company, so it gets sold.  Mystery solved.

Except “big companies” have a tendency to do what benefits them, not act on the requests or demands of a smaller company they are buying.  So who is this mysterious Affinity Media?

Easy one there, let’s just check out their website.  Pretty easy to find and says absolutely nothing, except for that little tidbit about a new CEO.  The very brief news article it links to, dated June 26th 2007, explicitly mentions the recent saleof IGE.  It even says that as part of recent transitions, their current CEO is stepping down and being replaced with a new one. 

Ah, okay – there we go.  That makes perfect sense.  Big company buys little fansite and bows to their demands to sell their gold selling business.  Big company CEO is so upset he “transitions” and is replaced by CEO more in tune with the players.  And what’s up with this one page website for some company supposedly as big as Affinity Media is?  That just makes me suspicious right there.

(I wrote an E-mail to the info@ address on their website requesting an interview with company management to clear up this issue.  Hey – it could happen…)

So, after hitting that dead end I started doing Google searches on the topic and it doesn’t take long to come across lot’s of posts on the issue.  The one that stuck with me is this one from MMO Gamer

Ah, there we go.  Court Documents.  Now there’s something you can sink your teeth into.  As MMO Gamer correctly points out, look at the description of the defendant in the proceeding says that IGE is now know as Affinity Media. 

Hey – there could be something up with this too.  Just because it’s a court document doesn’t mean it’s gospel.  Probably a good shot, but people play games with the court system all the time.  But between a 5 sentence statement on a one page company website and a legal document – I’m betting on the document. 

So at the very least, and I mean the veryleast, it would appear comments in the news releases by Affinity that IGE has been sold is highly suspect.  The other thing that is odd to me is that with speculation and debate raging in the forum and blogosphere, no one from Affinity has come forth to “deny the rumors”.  At least I haven’t found anything. 

Not sure why I posted all this other than just letting you all in on pertinent articles and links I’ve found in my searching. 

 I certainly don’t want to open up a fresh debate on gold-selling, but if anyone has any other concrete information on the situation or the companies involved, please share with us all in comments.

Forms Bar

December 7, 2007 Posted by | World of Warcraft | Leave a comment

Managing guild drama

The guild I’ve been thinking of joining has a website.  A while back I linked to their guild charter and rules, which I thought were very nicely done.  I haven’t applied yet, but I check out their website once in a while.  Their forum posts aren’t private, so checking out their posts is a good way to get a sense of what they’re all about and the personalities of guild members.

I recently saw this post by the Guild Master:

“I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints from different members. Some have been, “we aren’t progressing fast enough it’s these people’s fault!” Some have been, “These people only care about progression! If it doesn’t have to do with a raid they don’t want to help.”

This is going to end but I want to give everyone the opportunity to step and do their part. Something that is very hard for people is to admit they are wrong. No one wants to be wrong. So today I want you all to be wrong. I want you to admit and then to move on in a different direction. What exactly am I asking?

I want you all to blame yourself! Yup, don’t point the finger at anyone else for things you feel are going wrong or aren’t perfect. Find that place where you are personally responsible…and then fix it.

If you are a hardcore raider…change your view. Take this week, hell this month, and say, you know why we aren’t progressing? Because I’m too hardcore. I don’t take the time to play with my friends. All I talk about with people in guild or in-game is raiding. I don’t give people the incentive to WANT to raid with me because I bark at people or I have a tendancy to push people away because I’m blaming them for the guilds problems. I need to take a step back and just PLAY with people and have fun.

If you are a casual member…change your view. Take this week, hell this month, and say, you know why people only worry about progression? Because I’m too casual. I don’t take the time to prepare for raids I sign up for. All I tend to do is avoid raiding discussions. I don’t give people the incentive to WANT to do anything but raid with me because I’m not as committed as I could be or I could just come more prepared and willing to do what is needed when I do raid. I need to step back and be willing to raid.

Do these statements fit everyone? HELL NO! lol. But find yours. Find where you could really make a difference. Be it in taking time to NOT dwell on raiding when it’s going on or taking time and actually prepare for raiding more than an hour before the raid. Be it being willing to move outside your circle of friends and talk and work with others. Be it being willing to wipe here or there to give someone else a chance to be in your group in raid or in an instance. Whatever it is!

Reread the mission and find a way to uphold it. Even the parts you may be uncomfortable with. Our community is YOU. It will only be what you are willing to give. Each of you. Let’s take up the challenge and find our fault and fix it.”

The response by guild members to this quote?  Lot’s of posts directly responding to the GM with things that guild member will focus on doing to get better.  Several of the posters said they appreciated this post getting them back on track.  A few of the guild posters even acknowledged they were probably one of the members being called out and promised to get better.

The more I read about this guild the better I like it. 

Forms Bar

December 4, 2007 Posted by | Raiding, World of Warcraft | 5 Comments