WoW Wednesday: Lulls in the action

Of course, this week’s WoW playing was interrupted by Thanksgiving–where I had. no. internet. access. And then by the baking extravaganza (made almost $150, btw). Sometimes life intervenes in game playing, as it should, really. But sometimes, the game lags a bit. When that happens, when the game loses its luster, some people end up giving up, figuring that if they’re not interested anymore, they should just quit. Often this happens when you hit max level and have maxed out your gear and you think, well, there’s nothing left to do. Which might be true. But Blizzard keeps coming out with new things, sometimes in patches and sometimes in larger expansions. We are, in fact, waiting for one of each of these shiny new things which promise new dungeons, new races and more.

I don’t play so much for the stuff except inasmuch as the stuff gives me the opportunity to play more often with people I enjoy spending time with. So, when the game starts to feel old, I don’t want to quit because I’d miss that time. There are some options:

  • Take a break. Thanksgiving was a natural break. But any time the game is not enjoyable, it might be a good time to step away. Play another kind of game–trivial pursuit or bejeweled maybe. Or read a book. Or watch tv.
  • Start another character, something really different from what you’re currently playing. I’m finding that playing a different kind of character gives me a new perspective on the game and on the people in it.

Obviously, if you go back to playing and it *still* feels dull, then maybe it is time to quit. Maybe you’ve outgrown the game or gaming altogether. It’s not the end of the world. People do quit on a regular basis. Gaming has been a part of my entertainment menu since I was 12, so I doubt I would ever give up on it altogether. But I’ve been through my fair share of different games, some of which I still play once in a while–the Sims, Civilization, various web-based puzzle games. While I feel like I’m in a bit of a holding pattern with WoW, waiting for some new content, it’s still fun enough to play regularly.

WoW Wednesday: Weird PvP Behavior

I’m continuing to level my priest primarily through PvP, with a few quests thrown in here and there. She’s at 48 now. I’m hoping to get her to 50 before the weekend since I’ll be switching back to my death knight on Sunday for the holiday achievements (more on that next week).

I mentioned in my last PvP post that a lot of whining happens in chat during these games, with people telling everyone how much they suck. Horde always sucks according to these people, which cracks me up since if you play enough bg’s, you realize that it’s probably about even and depneds on the composition of the group. Besides the whining, I’ve noticed some other interesting behavior, some of which is quite detrimental to the group.

I’m going to use Arathi Basin as my main example, a bg where there are five bases to be captured. When a team holds a base, they receive resources. Whichever team gets to 1600 resources first, wins. When I play a bg, I think of myself as part of the group and try to look out for the group interests. In a good bg, most people are thinking this way. At the beginning of such groups, someone will often designate subgroups take on different tasks, so that everyone’s not running for the same area. If no one does this, I tend to follow a group to a particular area. And I generally check the map fairly frequently to see where people are. I ask where the opposing team is, etc.

The first behavior that bugs me is being afk (away from keyboard). If you do actually go afk, either by typing /afk or by not pressing any keys for a certain amount of time, you’ll be kicked out of the bg. But there are people who go hide in a corner, sucking up the experience and the honor without doing anything. These people can be reported as afk. However, all that does is send them a little note asking them if they’re afk and notifying them that they need to engage in combat or they will receive no honor. I’m not sure about experience. When I was investigating how this whole thing worked, I found out, too, that if you’re reported by enough people often enough, you can have your account banned for a few hours.

The problem with being afk is that it means your team is shorthanded. I was in a bg where there were two people afk and when there’s only 10 or so people playing, that can make a big difference. It got frustrating when those two people kept showing up again and again. I was doing the daily bg quest and need to win the bg in order to complete the quest (which gives significant experience). I reported them every time. One of them went out and fought and then died and stayed dead. Another holed up by the start point. I checked to see if they ever moved, and they didn’t and I reported them. A couple of other people noticed them, too, and reported them. But they still kept showing up, which made me think there were few consequences for their actions. This is a clear case of individual desires (xp and honor points) trumped the group desire. The sad thing is if they had participated normally, they would have been more likely to get more of what they, as individuals, wanted.

The other annoying behavior is when people go after bases that are hard to hold or solo a base. Each team, for example has a base near their starting point. Generally, these bases are captured immediately at the start of the game. While it’s true that it can be a good strategy to capture the opposing team’s nearby base, it’s hard to keep and you can lose valuable time and players by trying to keep it. The reason it’s hard to keep is that team players often spawn at the start point nearby, meaning there’s a constant flow of opposing players coming at you. Sometimes people will get bored and go after another base, just because, leaving a base unguarded or weakly guarded. Usually, it’s a suicide mission unless you get lucky and it’s unguarded. Usually, though, as soon as the announcement goes out that you’ve assaulted that base, the team comes swarming in and you die.

Despite some of this annoying behavior, I’m still having fun playing in bg’s. I’ve generally had more good groups than bad and I like the way it’s a limited amount of time. You’re in and out quite quickly, while quests and dungeons can take much longer periods of time. So it’s been a great way to take a quick break..

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WoW Wednesday: Halloween Fun

I have some more serious thoughts in my head about WoW, but they’re not congealed yet, so instead, let’s talk about Halloween. Blizzard has incorporated a variety of events related to seasonal holidays. We actually just had brewfest a couple of weeks ago. I’m now a member of the Brew of the Month club and a brewmaster. W00t!

These events tickle me with their allusions to the real world while taking advantage of the game world. For Halloween, you can go trick or treating at all the inns. There’s an achievement to get candy from the pumpkin buckets at every inn in the world. You can also “trick or treat” once an hour with an innkeeper. Tricks include getting turned into things like bats, frogs, and ghosts. Treats can be candy, masks (which need to be collected for an achievement), or other fun items like toothpicks. There’s also a headless horseman who terrorizes a couple of towns by setting the buildings on fire. Characters form a bucket brigade to put out the fire and become a hero.

You can take down the Headless Horseman by taking 4 of your best friends into the Scarlet Monastery, calling out the horseman and then killing him. It’s a fun fight, especially when his head disconnects from his body and you have to chase the head around. The horseman drops several unique items, some of which are needed to get the Hallow’s End achievement. There’s a pet pumpkin and a special helm that are especially coveted. There are also several rings, a broom mount (seen in the picture above), and a horse mount (which is very rare).

Throughout the season, you see people running around with pumpkinheads, as ghosts or bats. The towns are decked out in Halloween decor, and the whole scene generally puts you in the Halloween spirit.

WoW.com has the lowdown on all the achievements for Hallow’s End if, like me, you’re an achievement whore.

WoW Wednesday: LFG

LFG stands for Looking for Group and eventually, you’re going to need a group. It might be for a group quest or, more likely, to run a dungeon. There are a couple of ways to find a group and some things to know before you head out on your group adventure. There’s a built in LFG feature within WoW pictured to the left. This puts you in a list that people can see and then they might invite you to join a group.

While this is sometimes effective and I like to use it if I’d like to join a group, but not immediately, if you really want to do something with a group, it’s often better to just ask in Trade or General chat. In a major city, trade chat is usually more active, but if you’re out in the world, general chat is going to be your best bet. To find a group this way, simply type /trade (to get you into trade chat; use general if you want to chat there) and then type something like “LFG ToC.” Now, you have no idea what that means. Most people use acronyms for all the dungeons and you’ll look less like a noob if you do too. The acronyms can be found at sites like WoWwiki and WoWHead. It’s sometimes also helpful to let people know what role you can play. So, you can say “DPS LFG ToC” which tells people that you’re a damage person looking for a group for the Trial of Champions dungeon.

Another way to find a group is simply to monitor chat and when someone else announces that they’re looking for a group or looking for a particular role for a dungeon or quest you’re interested in, you can ask to join. Of course, if you’re in a guild, you can ask your guildies to join you for an adventure.

Lingo alert! A group formed spontaneously is called a PUG or pickup group. Think of it like pickup basketball.

Once you’re in a group, it helps to figure out what the expectations are. Group chat is /party and that’s where you can start these conversations. You might want to clarify roles–who’s tanking, who’s healing, etc. Most importantly, you’ll want to clarify loot rules, especially as you get into higher level dungeons where the loot is awesome. Any time something drops from a kill that is green, blue or purple while in a group, you get a dialog box (right). You roll on these items by clicking the dice or the money icon. You can pass by clicking the x to close the window. The dice is a need roll. Need rolls trump greed rolls (money icon), and are usually only used if you really want something. Most of the time, people roll greed on an item or pass on items that they really don’t need. You might ask at the beginning of a dungeon run whether most stuff is need or greed. If something drops that you really want, don’t be afraid to ask if you can need roll. I always ask before I need and so do most people I’ve been in groups with since need rolls trump greed and some items become non-tradeable once you pick them up. This has changed a little bit and even bind on pick up items are often tradeable to other players in the group for a certain period of time. Still, it’s always good to ask. There’s nothing more annoying than someone needing something that you really wanted. More than one person can need roll on an item and if two or more people really want something, that’s generally the way it’s handled.

If you’ve never been to a dungeon before, don’t hesitate to ask for advice about what to do. Most parties end up with one or more people who’ve run a dungeon several times and they’re more than willing to tell you what to expect during a boss fight or more generally. They’d much rather explain it to you than have your lack of knowledge cause everyone to die. Often, the tank will mark mobs in the dungeon, having everyone focus on one mob at a time. It’s a good idea to follow the order, again, so that everyone won’t die.

Group dynamics can get especially weird if things don’t go well. Personally, I’ve never had the experience of being the new person causing everything to go bad. Generally what I see happen is that someone in the group isn’t geared enough or is being haphazard about their play style (like not waiting until the healer has enough mana to heal or jumping into a fight when not everyone is ready) and causing everyone to die. If you’re lucky, the person will realize that and will quit voluntarily. Sadly, more often, I’ve seen people blame everyone but themselves and then quit in disgust. Good times. And sometimes, you just have a bad combination of people. You might really need a ranged dps to win a fight and all you have are melee. It’s okay to say, hey, this is working, I think we should call it. Because when you die a lot, you’re going to have to repair, and repairing costs money.

Group experiences are really fun, though, and it’s a great feeling to work together to beat a really complicated boss or make it through a long dungeon. Now that I’m at max level, I find group experiences, whether with my guildies or with a PUG, to be my favorite part of the game.

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WoW Wednesday: Heading to the Big City

Day 21: Auction HouseImage by lorda via Flickr

As in most bildungsromans, our intrepid hero eventually travels to the big city where they must resist temptation and navigate unknown territory so that they may learn and grow. Sometime around level 10, your character will be directed to the nearest major city or you may simply venture there on your own. Where you started out is a small town with a few vendors and trainers, but the big city offers everything. Every trainer, lots of vendors, and the auction house.

When I first hit the big city, I must admit I was overwhelmed. I was literally afraid of the auction house. Having heard the term “gold farmers” and read about virtual things selling for real money, I had assumed that only the seediest of virtual people hung out at the auction house. It took me a while to venture in there, but I was glad I did.

Before we get to the mechanics of the auction house, we need to talk about professions. Professions are skills you can learn that will provide your character (and others) with items. There are gathering professions: mining, herbalism, and skinning. And there are crafting professions: tailoring, jewelcrafting, alchemy, blacksmithing, leatherworking, inscription, and engineering. Enchanting is kind of both since the materials provided for enchanting come from disenchanting and not from a gathering profession. Generally, you pair a gathering profession with a crafting profession. So mining can be paired with jewelcrafting or blacksmithing since mining provides the materials for those. You can only have two primary professions. There are secondary professions and you can learn all of these: fishing, cooking, and first aid.

There are two approaches to choosing professions. You can choose professions that would be good for your class. For example, I have a warrior who is an herbalist/alchemist. She’s able to make herself useful potions. I might have also chosen mining/blacksmithing so that I could make my own armor. Or you can choose professions that make money on the auction house. I have never deliberately taken this approach, but I can say that my death knight’s mining and jewelcrafting combo is quite profitable. If you’re playing for fun, choose professions that sound fun. More than likely, you will be able to make money off of your leftover materials. To train for a profession, you need to find the trainer for it. Though you may have run into these in the smaller towns, the big city will offer you almost all possible profession trainers. There are guards in the town that you can ask where things are–very handy. If, when you mouse over a NPC, a scroll-like icon shows up, you’ve found a guard who can give information. They can tell you where the trainers are and where the auction house is. You will need to return to your profession trainer periodically to learn new recipes, but you may also be able to buy new recipes from vendors or you might find them as you kill things.

So now that you’re trained up, you can start gathering up stuff for your profession. As you gather and make things, your skill level will increase. And you’ll have things you can use like potions or nice new pants, or you may decide to sell them off. To sell stuff, make your way to the auction house and right click on the auctioneer. The interface that pops up should be fairly self-explanatory. You can browse the auction house to find stuff to buy or you can drag an item from your bag to sell it. When you sell an item, you can set an initial bid and then a buyout amount. You might want to look up the item you’re selling and see how much it’s going for and set your price accordingly. I often set a buyout price that’s double the bid price. After selling things for a while, you’ll get the hang of how to price things. A good add-on* for auction house stuff is auctioneer. It will price things automatically and keep track of your sales and purchases.

In addition to selling materials for crafting like herbs or ores and products like potions or gems, you can sell off items that you loot from things you’ve killed. You may get armor and weapons that you don’t need, but that are green in color, meaning they have some value (white or gray means they have little or no value and are usually best sold to a vendor). If you’re an enchanter, you can disenchant these, but they can be sold usually to be purchased by enchanters needing materials.

You can, of course, buy stuff from the auction house with your earnings. You may need to buy materials for your professions. Sometimes recipes have items that you can’t gather yourself or you just don’t feel like gathering and you have money, so you may as well buy them. You might also buy equipment for yourself. Generally at the lower levels, you can find equipment out in the world that’s suitable, but as you level, you might decide you need better equipment. You can often find better equipment in a dungeon (which I’ll talk about next week), but you can often buy some good things at the AH. Having good equipment can make leveling and questing go a lot faster.

Next week, we’ll talk about dungeons, where things get really interesting and where we’re adding in the element of group dynamics. Is there anything else you’d like to know to get started? Have questions? Let me know and I will try to answer them.Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

*an add-on is a third-party program that enhances some aspect of wow. there are hundreds of them.

WoW Wednesday: Getting Started

I had a couple of requests for a post about how to get started playing WoW. First, let me say that I’m not a complete expert on the fastest way to level or the best class to pick, etc. What I can offer is my experience getting started and some tips about what I’ve learned as I’ve been playing. Let me point you, then, to two other sources of information that might be useful: WoW Rookie, a column at wow.com (generally a good resource for all kinds of things) and How not to be a Noob at Wowwiki (another good resource).

So, to get started, you first need the game. I’d recommend starting with the free trial. It gives you 10 days of free play time. You can decide whether you like it or not before investing in purchasing the full game and signing up for a subscription. A typical subscription will cost you $14.95/month, which is really a bargain compared to cable, for example. But it is an investment.

If you can, start playing with someone you know, who can walk you through the game as you go. Your friend can answer questions via chat without having to be in the same area as you are, which is a really nice feature. I’ve done this with the kids; it works pretty well. If you can’t start with a friend and/or when you’re on by yourself, much of the game will be self-explanatory at first.

First, you’ll need to select a character and you’ll have to choose which side to play: Alliance or Horde. I started out as Alliance simply because the character looks appealed to me (who doesn’t like elves!), but am now playing Horde since that’s where all my friends are. I’ve even moved my old Alliance character over. So, if you’re going to play with friends, you’ll need to a) be the same faction (Alliance or Horde) and b) be on the same server (which you’ll pick before making a character). A note about servers–there are PvP servers (where players can always fight each other), PvE servers (where players are usually questing and killing non-players) and RP servers (role-playing, where players are into the story of the game).

Next, you’ll decide what race/class to play. That is, will you be a night elf hunter or a tauren warrior or an orc shaman. The race isn’t a huge decision as there aren’t a lot of benefits to playing one race over another, usually. There are a few race-specific abilities that are nice to have for certain classes, but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. The class is more important. Generally, think about what kind of player you’re interested in. Do you want to heal? do a lot of damage? tank? be primarily melee or attack from afar? I’ve chosen, in most of my characters, to be a melee damage kind of person. That is, I get right in a monsters face and beat on him until he dies. I will say that it’s fun to play and easy to level as a melee damage character, but you might be interested in healing or want to be able to heal and do damage effectively (shamans or druids are good at this) or heal and tank (paladins and druids). Classes are much more flexible than they used to be, in that you can be two different things thanks to dual specs, so if you choose a class for healing but decide you like doing damage more, it’s easy to switch. Here’s the WoW Rookie class guide, which is a little dated, but still has good info on choosing a class.

So, now you’ve got your character set up and you’ve logged in. The starting areas in WoW are basically tutorials, but you’re playing the game and playing counts toward your overall leveling. It’s not separate from the rest of the game, which I think is nice. The first thing to do is to look for a NPC (non-player character) with an exclamation point over his/her head. This indicates that he has a quest that you can go on. Right click on him/her and you’ll get the text of the quest, which you should read to figure out what you need to do. Click on accept and then you’re off. Your first adventure! Woo hoo!

Generally the first quest involves killing 10 or 15 creatures of a particular kind. To kill the creatures, you need to use your abilities. To start off with, you’ll see some in your action bar at the bottom of the screen. You’ll see probably 4 or so items, usually place 1 to 4 along the bottom. 1 is usually your basic attack, hitting the creature with whatever weapon you’re wielding. 2-4 are usually special abilities that deal more damage. If you mouse over each item, it should tell you what each thing does. So, you go off to kill your creatures by clicking on them and the firing off an attack by pressing one of the buttons. Generally, you will auto-attack if you have the creature targeted (by clicking or pressing the tab button). This will become second nature pretty quickly. You’ll be surprised.

Once you’ve killed a creature, you can loot them, which you do by right-clicking on their dead body. Loot will come in the form of money and items. There might be weapons or armor or items that can be used in different professions, or at this level, junk, things like claws and eyeballs. You can sell off this stuff to a vendor and make more money.

But you might die. If you do, you’ll be a ghost and will be hanging out at a graveyard. You’ll need to walk back to your body in order to resurrect yourself. Your body will appear as a gravestone on the map and there will be arrows in the minimap showing you the way to your body. More on dying next week.

You gain experience for killing these creatures as well as for turning in the quest, which you do by returning to the quest-giver who now has a question mark over their head. There will be many quests in the area to do and as you do them and gain experience, you will eventually level up, moving from level 1 to 2 to 3, etc.

Some tips that will help you in the first levels:

  • Explore the area, including the NPCs, checking out what they sell and finding the trainer for your class.
  • Put on items that are better than what you are wearing. You start out with gear that makes you look bedraggled–some raggy pants and shirt and shoddy shoes. As you loot, you will probably see items that you can wear that are better than what you have on. Wear them! Press c to bring up your character, then drag the item to the right slot or right-click it and then you’ll be wearing it. Don’t worry too much about specifics at this point in terms of what’s best for your class. Just increase your armor and any other stats that might be useful. Keep in mind that some classes can’t wear certain items. Priests, for example, can’t wear anything but cloth items. Generally, if you can’t wear an item, it will be red. It may be something you can wear in the future if the restriction is because of level or because you have to learn a weapon skill, so you can decide whether to keep it for future use.
  • Sell off stuff you don’t want to increase your funds. You can sell stuff to any vendor. Things that are green or blue (the text is this color as well as the outline in your bag) can usually be sold for a larger profit in the auction house. Hold onto these until you get to the auction house in a major city. I’ll discuss this more later.
  • Buy another bag. Or two. Usually there’s a vendor who sells them in the starting cities. You’re going to end up with lots of stuff, most of it not useful, but you don’t want to have to keep coming back and reselling your stuff every 5 minutes.
  • Train as soon as you can. As you level, you can usually go to your class trainer and learn new skills. Keep up with these as they will help you kill off mobs faster, which means you can level faster.

That will get you through the first few levels, which might take you a few days to get through. Next week, I’ll talk about professions and getting to a major city with an auction house and all kinds of other goodies.

WoW Wednesday: Managing Stuff

As you play WoW, you collect gear, but you also collect a lot of stuff, cramming it into your virtual bags as you go along. Everything from weeds to boots to flowers to drinks and so much more. Some of that stuff is useful to you. You can wear it or eat it or drink it or use it to make things with. But a lot of it just isn’t. And it doesn’t take before you have bags full of things that you just don’t need. It’s a lot like real life, really. We had a garage sale this past weekend, putting out a lot of the stuff we’d accumulated in our lives, trying to make a buck or two off it. And we did, but we had a good deal left over, some of which we hauled away to charity and some of which we posted on Freecycle. I’ll say one thing, though, it’s a lot easier to get rid of virtual stuff than real stuff. No right-clicking on an old sofa to sell it to a vendor in real life.

So, back to WoW and organizing stuff. Like managing your time in WoW, managing your stuff can help you enjoy the game more and spend less time figuring out where that thing is that you need and more time doing what you really want to do (kind of like real life). The default in WoW is to throw everything into your bags willy nilly, not organized at all. And there’s not an easy way to sort through things. I can’t tell you how many times when I first started playing that I got to a quest area and needed to use a specific item and couldn’t find it. So annoying! Not only that, but you need to know what to get rid of and what to keep, and what might be worth selling on the Auction House and what can just be sold to a vendor. I have accidentally thrown out things that I needed and vended things that I could have gotten 10 times the gold for on the AH. Also annoying.

Luckily, there are a couple of addons that help. And sorry, there are no addons for real life. If there were, though, I’d totally get them. I use an addon called ArkInventory for managing my stuff. Instead of displaying your bags separately, it displays everything all in one big bag, organized into sections determined by how you configure it. So, I can put all my food in one area, jewelcrafting items in another, ore in another, and equipment somewhere else. I have never lost anything. ArkInventory also organizes your bank this way. Your bank is like the attic or the junk room in your house, where you store stuff you don’t need to use that often.

There are other addons out there that I haven’t tried, some of which tell you when you have all the materials to make things or what you’re lacking, etc. If anyone has opinions on those, please feel free to comment.

Another way I manage my stuff is by periodically going through it and ditching things I don’t need. But how to know what to sell where and for what price? For that, I use Auctioneer. I use this addon much more simplistically than I know some people do. You can track all kinds of things via this tool and price things very specifically. Mostly I use it as an easier and faster interface for selling things off. There’s an Appraiser tab that shows up when you’re at the Auction House and through that one can click on an item and Auctioneer will price it. If you have more than one of the item, with the click of a single button, you can post all those items for sale, even if they have to be posted one at a time and not in stacks of 5 or 10 or 20. That makes it really easy to clean out your bank and your bags. Auctioneer will also make recommendations about whether to post an item to the AH or sell it to a vendor. I’ve found that you have to take these with a grain of salt. It takes time, for example, to keep reposting an item to the AH, and if it’s a common item or something without much of a markup, sometimes it just makes sense to sell it off quickly to a vendor. I’ve gotten to the point now where I can usually take 10 or 15 minutes and get everything sold off.

Now if only I could be this organized in real life.

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WoW Wednesday: Gear

A friend wanted me to title this “Still Not Def Capped.” For you non-WoW’ers, let me explain. Each type of player needs a certain level of stats to do well in higher level dungeons and raids. Stats include things like defense, spell power, attack power, hit rating, etc. Players who mostly deal damage strive for a hit rating cap. Tanks strive for def (defense) cap. The way to achieve these stats is through a) leveling/talents and b) gear. I’m going to ignore a) for now, but suffice it to say that as you level, you can select talents that increase certain stats. Once you reach 80 (currently the highest level), gear becomes more important. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was slightly undergeared for tanking. Where I’m undergeared is in my defense stats. I’m not def capped. And here I am, two weeks later, sitting in the exact same spot. As my guildies told me last night, I have no excuse. All I need to do is slap the right trinket on, put a couple of jewels on it and I’d be golden. Which is true, really.

I have a strange relationship to gear in the game. I’m probably not alone in this. A lot of people research what gear they need, find out where to get it and then set out to acquire it. Gear can be obtained in two main ways: dropping from a boss in a dungeon and purchasing with currency that drops from bosses in dungeons.* So, getting good gear requires going through dungeons. So a lot of people figure out what they want, which boss drops it, and then start running that dungeon until they get what they want. All good. I like going through dungeons, but I don’t like being that prescriptive about my adventures. I’ve been in dungeons with people where they say at the very beginning, “I want the boots that drop in here.” And I’ll be like, boots? what boots? Which I don’t say out loud because then I’d be declaring myself a noob. Basically, I like to be surprised. Whatever drops after we kill a boss I consider a gift. And I don’t like to open my gifts before it’s time. I get a little thrill from the unexpected. If I knew what I was likely to get ahead of time, I’d lose that thrill. My kids laugh at me all the time because I get giddy over getting new stuff. But usually only when it’s a surprise (or, in some cases, I’ve worked hard for it). “Look at this cool new sword I got!” Not too many moms who say that I’m guessing.

All that said, I do take advice. So, if someone says to me, you should get those boots that are in such and such dungeon, I am willing to go get the boots, especially if my adviser is going to go with me. Gearing up is more than just slapping on whatever falls on the ground after a kill. Once I figured that out, I think I became a better player. But I still can’t bring myself to obsess over it, running dungeons over and over just to get one pair of pants (well, okay, I have done that once or twice, but it’s not my usual mode). I also don’t do this in real life. Shopping for clothes wears me out. But I promise to be def capped by next week. Really.

*I should note that gear can also be made by blacksmiths and some relatively good gear can be purchased with gold from special vendors.

WoW Wednesday: Taking a Break

Day 137: About to save the worldImage by lorda via Flickr

I’m on vacation this week, without my computer and without much access to any kind of network, so I’m away from WoW. Which is a good thing. WoW can get pretty intense at times. A few weeks ago, they released a new patch which added some new features to the game. Many people jumped in and played pretty intensely, collecting the new stuff and trying out the new areas. I was among them and thanks to some rainy days, I spent a few hours in a row doing everything from collecting ore to running heroic dungeons. While that’s paid off in new gear, it’s also made me feel like I’m spending way too much time at this thing. So the vacation timing was good.

My guild in theory treats WoW playing like bowling. We have regularly scheduled times twice a week to play together and there are people who do simply pop in to play during those times. I’m still trying to find my equilibrium. I mostly play at night and weekend mornings. I probably play up to 20 hours/week (average 3 hours/day, 7 days/week). That’s a lot and just typing that number out is a bit depressing. What am I not doing during that time? I’m nto watching tv, which isn’t such a bad thing, but I’m also not reading, not hanging with the family, not doing housework (which, eh, who cares). I do tend to play in waves. One week, I’m playing 20 hours, the next, I’m playing only 5.

I think ideally, I’d figure out a way to get that number down, either by playing only 2 or 3 days/week. Or playing less in any given day. Once the school year begins, I have a feeling this will happen naturally. The dog days of summer have made us all a little lazy and we’ve gravitated toward the computer for solace (when we’re not at the pool). In other words, we’ve had time to fill and I’ve filled it with WoW. In the fall, I’m going to work on filling it with other stuff, relegating WoW to the recreation it should be.

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WoW Wednesday: Tanking

Tauren Tank CrossingImage by antifuse via Flickr

So, many of you know I’m a gamer, my most-often played game being WoW. I don’t write about it much, but I’ve decided if it’s a regular part of my life, it needs to be a regular part of my blog. Although I will write about the game as it’s played, what I find most interesting about playing are the personal lessons I learn and the social dynamics of the game. So, even if you’re not a gamer, you’ll get something out of these posts.

I’m currently playing a level 80 Death Knight. I’ve been playing her as a damage-oriented player, but she has the capability of playing what’s called a tank. A tank is a player that puts herself between the bad things trying to kill the players and the rest of the group. They generally have heavy-duty armor and the ability to keep the mobs focused on them rather than the rest of the group. Tanks also tend to set the pace of the dungeon and often set the strategy if they know a dungeon well. It took me a while to get decent enough gear (and I still need better gear), but recently I announced to the guild that I was ready to try tanking and would love some lessons and/or the opportunity to try it out on willing groups of people.

It wasn’t until our regular tanks were all gone that I finally got the opportunity to tank, and let me just say, it’s harder than it looks. Although I’d read up on strategies for tanking and what moves to use, theory is often far away from practice. First, because I’m slightly undergeared, I take more damage than I should, meaning I need someone to be able to heal the crap out of me. Second, we have a lot of really good players in the guild who have good attacks that anger mobs and then they get attacked and so I have to scramble a bit to recapture the errant mob. And third, let’s face facts, I’m not a 15 year old boy. I’ve had a few good runs that went smoothly and successfully, but I’ve had just as many where the entire group has died over and over again. This is a frustrating situation to be in as a tank since it’s often a tank’s weaknesses that can cause this to happen. While this hasn’t always been the case in my situations, as a new tank, I’m guessing it is the problem 95% of the time.

I find being a tank rather nerve-wracking as I’m learning. It’s a lot of responsibility. And the learning curve seems to be fairly large. My guild is patient with me, however, so there is that. I’ve learned that support goes a long way in making me feel comfortable trying this new thing out and trying it out under not so ideal conditions. I decided to try it, in fact, because I wanted to help out the guild since we seem to be short on tanks. Hopefully, I’ll get better at it so that I’m a bit more reliable and don’t get everyone killed so often.

Bonus: Read Sins of a Gaming Father.

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