Kick, punch, it's all in the mind

A rainy day in the Valley of the Four Winds

First, monks

  • After spending time with it, I'm more certain than ever that my initial impression of the monk class was correct: it's like Blizzard came to me and ask me what I wanted in a class. Even down to the little things like "what weapons should they be able to equip?" - the monk is like the aspects of other classes that I like, but without most of the stuff that I don't.

  • Due to the fact that some of the damage abilities are actually part of the healing rotation in times of low damage, it's actually amazingly easy to level as a mistweaver monk compared to some healing specs. (You wouldn't catch me dead trying to level as a holy paladin outside of instances, for example. I know it can be done, but it's more aggravation than I intend to put up with.) It's a little dull compared to the others, but it's doable.

  • If you want to find me on the beta, look on the US PvE server (Lost Isles?) for Headstoned or Maztroz.

And now a series of assorted beta-related thoughts

  • I spent a while out of the beta, letting things stabilize and hunting achievements on my live character - it didn't help that I got into the beta around the same time that no one could do anything because CRASHES CRASHES CRASHES. It's a lot better now, although - haha - I still haven't seen Jade Forest as a result.

  • Here's an odd quirk from account-wide-everything: on the beta, I have Mountain o' Mounts - I don't have this on live, on any character. I'm a little skeptical - Zulfon has 62 mounts, and even being generous and discounting the two mounts added to every premade's mount collection (Raven Lord and Crimson Pandaren Phoenix), that's 38 mounts on some other character (namely my warlock, my only other live character that I've copied to the beta) that I don't have on my death knight. Oh well. Beta weirdness! Maybe they just give it to everybody!

  • I think I could run around forever marveling at how pretty Pandaria is. My screenshots folder
    seems to agree. Here, have another screenshot.

Is this Bottletoads?

So I punched it into Warcraft Mounts and was surprised to find that, well - my mounts don't really overlap at all, but I have a little ways to go before hitting 100. (That number should be accurate for any of my current 85s, each of which has 2 class mounts.) I also found that every one of my 85s owns a White Kodo, for some reason.

Picking up the two Netherwing Drakes I haven't bought for some reason will take me to 88, then goblin trikes will put me at 90. I've been working on Tol Barad; when I finish it, and pick up the drake and ghost wolf, there's two more, for 92. Three easily-accessible mounts at the tournament - 95. After that, well... PvP mounts?

Oh, damn it Blizzard

80 #2

Proving that I, too, can be years behind all the cool kids, I got my second level 80 character last night at around 2:30 AM EST.

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A little background: This is Malacrass. He started life as Kallech, a draenei shaman, in January of 2008 - my first character upon my not-so-triumphant return to WoW. Kallech was ostensibly to level up with my cousin, but I neglected to remember that my cousin has waaaaay more free time than I do, and so around the time Kallech hit his late 40s (46 to be exact), my cousin's mage was strolling into Outland - or maybe even further by then.

And so Kallech took some time off while I discovered the joys of the Horde. That character, Queklain, a Forsaken warlock, would be my first (and, for the rest of TBC, only) character at the level cap, and my initial raider. Kallech chilled in the Hinterlands, dusting things for the Wildhammer and wondering if he'd ever get to go out and hit things again. He did hop over to Silver Hand at one point to say hi to Tawyn, only I never did because she was important people and I was just some guy. Yes, I was too shy to say hello to someone on the internet. I did at least play him a little bit there, gaining him a level or two.

Then came Wrath, and then came death knights. Duskwalker (née Ambassador, née Rajaat, née Zulfon) raced to the cap during the days when Death Knights were overpowered and I could solo 3- and 5-person quests to my heart's content, and raided. Raided Naxxramas and Ulduar, while my little alts sat forgotten. Took some time off for basically all of ToC, and came back for ICC. Kallech waited, still hanging out in the Hinterlands, until the first signs of burnout began to set in, at which point I transferred him to the same realm as my death knight, bought him some mail heirlooms, respecced him elemental, and sent him to finish killing wolves or whatever it is one does in the Hinterlands.

From there, Kallech continued on to finish up his time in Azeroth, then went and fought the Burning Crusade, spending an extended amount of time in Hellfire Peninsula before moving on to Zangarmarsh. Finally, to Northrend!

About this time I relocated both to Cenarion Circle and to the Horde. I forked over the cash to do both, bringing him to a happy state of trollhood, only to discover that the only other toon named Kallech in all of WoW was already on Cenarion Circle. /fistshake

So I named him after my favorite troll. :) And then he pew-pew'd his way to 80, and here we are. Just in time for everything to change! I tell you what, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on Earthquake - and everything I need to know about elemental in the days to come, I learned from Binkenstein. (By the way, Totemspot has a really nice theme. I'm not biased or anything. ;))

Mounts, loopholes, BLU, and a CYOA update

Choose-your-own-adventure update

Bishamel has hit 18 and is paused there briefly while I do some other things. I'll do a full update at 20. Suffice to say that prot paladinning is awesome, and holy crap does HoR do some serious damage at that level. I pull crap in the Ghostlands with it and it's half dead almost immediately.

Mounts from Zul'Gurub

ZulianTigerValnoth confirmed yesterday that Zul'Gurub is gone as a raid instance in Cataclysm. This makes me sad - I love Zul'Gurub, and not just because of the mounts I can't get to drop! - but if you want something from there, better get to farmin'. ZG's lockout resets every 3 days, so you can be in there pretty often compared to other raids. Keep in mind it's not just mounts - you'll probably also want to get The Deadliest Catch by fishing up Gahz'ranka and Hero of the Zandalar Tribe by grinding to exalted with the Zandalar Tribe while you're at it. (Full clears of Zul'Gurub - even ones where you don't kill much of the trash - yield a few thousand rep. You'll also want to kill trash for coins and bijous. Zandalar Tribe is super-easy to grind to exalted these days.)

So yeah, this is your last shot at the Swift Zulian Tiger (and its achievement) and the Swift Razzashi Raptor (also with an achievement). I ran a full solo clear last night. I've also decided to keep a small collection of Zul'Gurub weapons - so many of the items in there are absolutely awesome looking, and so many of the designs and models weren't re-used (or were re-used in Outland).

Who's ready to start farming?!

Builders League United

My guild, <Builders League United> (or BLU for short) has a few new people in it. It's kind of comforting, having the general chatter of a small friendly guild again. If you're interested in seeing what we're about, and possibly raiding with a small-schedule 10-man Horde-side raiding guild in Cataclysm, I highly recommend checking our site, especially the BLU policies and "What is BLU?" pages. We totally have a bank tab and a tabard, just like those other guys in the Guild Recruitment channel.

Loopholes for silly pirates

So it turns out that those of us working on Insane in the Membrane and trying to grind up our goblin rep after sacrificing it in the name of pirate rep have a small loophole I just now got around to finding - we are not stuck solely freeing Knot Thimblejack or grinding on endless pirates and nomads. After some careful (fingers-crossed, bated breath) experimentation last night, I found that - barring the repeatable "reconciliation turn-in quests" that were made solely to raise goblin rep with one city and lower Bloodsail Buccaneer rep - it seems like as long as Booty Bay isn't the primary rep recipient, you can safely do quests for Gadgetzan, Ratchet, and Everlook questgivers without lowering your pirate reputation (and earning spillover reputation with all the goblin cities, as well). The best part about this is that since I chose to get IitM on my death knight, he's done basically none of the goblin quests scattered throughout old-world Azeroth. Time to see the sights before the sights go away, and work on my title!

This is not about my impressions of 3.3

fall That, if I decide to do it, will come tomorrow. I'd have to find something different to say from what I've already said, though. The problem is that patch day and my weekly real-life gaming night fall on the same day, so by the time I got home last night, the instances were mostly smoothed out in my battlegroup... but I got to spend my time sitting in front of the gates to ICC, waiting on a tank and a healer to miraculously log on to go with the three DPS we got together in a hurry.

There's just been a lot of stuff to deal with lately (though not stemming from the patch - frost death knights saw virtually no changes of note in this patch, which is just fine and dandy with yours truly), and it hasn't been the best of times, but I'm hoping tonight fixes that. We'll see. If I can't get into ICC, maybe I can at least PUG a little bit with the new LFG mechanism (which Anea sums up nicely here with her in-game experiences, so I don't have to). If anyone on Rampage runs into Rajaat, give me a wave. :)

Also: boy, that Core Hound Pup is cute! Lil' K.T. has himself some competition for the spot of my favorite pet.

Tonight will also probably be when I redo my UI from the ground up. I mentioned on Twitter that a few things were non-negotiable. Those things are, in no particular order:

  • A rune timer of some kind. I'm currently using SimpleRune because it lives up to its name.

  • Unit frames. Currently I use Grid, but full-fledged raid frames are largely overkill for what I do. I've heard a lot of good things about Shadowed Unit Frames, and may give it a try. (Users of SUF are welcome to convince me. :))

  • A configurable bar mod. Currently rocking Dominos. My primary reason for this is a bar layout that matches my n52te. I'm not totally committed to this, but I like to at least have 14 keys, with the ability to page to 14 different keys by holding alt, and as just about any bar mod will do that... (Also, you can tell how old the screenshot in that post is because it still shows Unholy Blight as a clickable, actually-useful spell. Ah, those were the days.)

    • I put the bar mod down as non-negotiable, but honestly, I dunno. If I could find a 14-button bar mod with paging on keypress and a few additional slots to the side for things I am lazy about, like mounts and Path of Frost, that might be sufficient. I might not need all the extra jazz that Dominos comes with.
  • Quartz. More for my caster alts than my main.

  • Jamba, but only until February, when my recruit-a-friend runs out again. I loooove Jamba.

  • RatingBuster, because I hate crunching math on the fly.

That's basically it. I do have some utility stuff (Auctioneer for bank alt, for instance), but a lot of my addons have been replaced by built-in features - for instance, from what I tried last night, I don't think I'll need to be toting around Cartographer or QuestHelper anymore; I could truthfully do away with Outfitter at this point; and LightHeaded's built in features have been replaced by having a second monitor. I also have Buffalo3 but I don't find it very useful. I also have some features I've lost that I'd like to get back - for example, a movable minimap like SexyMap or Carbonite's map.

The first five things I'm doing after 3.3 drops

Borrowed from Bible of Dreams:icecrowncitadel

  1. Get into LFG and finish the 5-mans, straight off the bat. I was blathering Ratshag's ear off again this morning on IM about how there's 1, maybe 2 drops in all of the first two instances for me... and then I can replace damn near most of my gear in heroic Halls of Reflection. (Plus I kinda wanna see Uther.) In fact, "PUG randomly and constantly" is on my list of things to do because I need - need - to get rid of this crappy mix of T7, T7.25, and T8 that I'm sporting. Ugh. Just... ugh.

  2. Figure out where the hilt for Quel'Delar drops, and get started on it. Papa wants a brand new legendary (as in its place in the lore, not its gear level - don't be overly literal) sword to dual-wield with his beer mug.

  3. Log onto my rogue and enjoy the 70% walk speed stealth! And, maybe level her or something.

  4. Wish that "bind on account" actually meant "binds to battle.net account" and not "binds to WoW account" because I would really like to send my paladin some heirlooms suited for following my rogue around healing her, but unfortunately that won't happen. One step at a time, I guess. (Cross-faction BOA! Woooooo~)

  5. Keep working on Insane in the Membrane, since I've been slacking lately, kinda. (As far as I'm concerned, leveling my rogue is working on Insane in the Membrane. Those junkboxes won't pickpocket themselves.)

So what are you going to do first when the patch drops?

Dualboxing melee

RetributionAura I mentioned this to The Mighty Gresh on twitter - I started dual-boxing again (so I could power-level my rogue to 60 using Recruit-a-Friend [so I could pickpocket junkboxes for Insane in the Membrane]). I'll actually be leveling two or three alts this way - since Lasombre (the rogue) is already 18, I needed a quick way to boost Sigrat (the paladin) up to join her. And so, I started a relay race, only using a dwarf instead of a baton: this involved creating Bubblesqueak (the mage) to lead Sigrat around and have him kill stuff until they hit 18, then passing Sigrat off to Lasombre... but wait, you say, you put the mage in the lead? There's a method to my madness:

  1. I wanted to make sure I could get Sigrat's keybindings set up ahead of time, and

  2. It's easier to pull with a mage, on account of having a ranged attaack with a range of greater than 10 feet, and

  3. There have recently been changes that made dual-boxing a melee character ... well, possible.

It's still a touch awkward (namely if you try to attack with the melee character while the monster is still running towards you), but it's a far sight better than having to run through the mob and flip it around. Here's the guide. (Thanks to the folks at Dual-Boxing.com for figuring this out well before I ever needed it.)

  • Besides the required keystroke passing app (I use Keyclone), you'll want to have an addon that allows auto-following after combat. I'm currently using Jamba, last time I used TwoBoxToolkit. I can vouch for both; though Jamba's got features above and beyond TBTK, and makes configuration a lot easier (plus has some graphical niceties like a small window on my "master" character showing how close everyone on my Jamba Team list is to leveling, whether they're following, etc.), TBTK will get the job done.

  • On the character or characters who will just be following you around, turn ON click-to-move (Main Menu > Interface > Mouse > check Click to Move).

  • On the same character(s), go into the key bindings and bind something to Interact With Target. As the name implies, this is essentially a keybinding for right clicking. I set mine to the same key that, on all my other characters, makes pets attack. It's fitting. :)

  • And last but not least, you'll want a macro you can hit to make this character assist your "master" character. I use a simple macro that says "/assist party1" because my dwarfadin will actually be following two different people. For ease of use I actually worked this into my other macros - I macroed together "/assist party1" and Judgement of Light, for instance.

  • On the "master" character, combat goes like so:

    • Engage target. For ranged classes, pull, for other classes, wade into combat.

    • Once the target's positioned, hit the keybinding that corresponds to the assist macro on the follower, then the keybinding that corresponds to the Interact With Target keybinding on the follower.

    • ???

    • Profit!

Because of the way that assist, click-to-move and the Interact with Target keybinding work, your follower will target your target, then "right-click" it - i.e., pull out their weapon and run into melee. This way you're not strictly limited to having a ranged follower or healbot follower for ease of use. I was actually considering having him level up holy and using my rogue to do all the damage, but it's just more fun this way.

Places to be, versus places to die

There seems to be a new trend in instances these days: more, quicker, faster, get in - get the loot and badges - get out. Take the money and run, as it were. Now, I like the loot from ToC and Ulduar as much as anyone else, but I can't help but shake the feeling that the instances and raids are losing their, for lack of a better term, place-ness. It's a hard concept to explain; the best I can do is contrast instances that feel like places to exist or be, versus straight lines full of target dummies and loot.

How I joust

I've seen a lot of people talking jousting lately - people who are just now getting to the tournament level, people who've hated jousting all along, people who actually refuse to do Trial of the Champion because it involves a short joust at the beginning... and realized a lot of the frustration stems from the fact that the instructions you get on how to joust aren't really all that great. Stationary targets are fine and all, but what about when the target fights back? And moves?

This is a short example video of how I joust. It may not be the greatest demonstration in the world, but it should give you an idea what I do. Barring the few times I've mysteriously gotten 2500ms+ ping, or down in Icecrown when I accidentally tagged 3 Commanders at once (ouch...), I boast a 100% success rate.

Jousting? Yeah, I got that.

I'll add this note for Nibuca's sake: a few people have told me they don't "get" strafing. It's also probably true that what I do isn't strictly strafing - it's a combination of strafing and mouse movement. Anyhow, for those of you who still have your movement bound to the default keys, Q strafes left and E strafes right - moving you left and right without actually turning. It's great for getting at range from someone.

For those of you using the n52 or n52te, with movement bound to either the keys or the joystick, you can simulate the leftward movement I do in the beginning of the video by moving the joystick/keys left while mouse-moving to the right - it ends up with a pseudo-strafe rotation that still leaves you facing your opponent (even if it doesn't look like you are). The right movement is exactly the reverse - joystick/keys right, mouse move left.