Category Archives: Playstyle

Picking a Gamepad

I’ve been thinking for a while about picking up a gameboard, as my playstyle seems to be leaning that way – it’d help with mobility, and my healing is evolving into a click-casting style which I find fast and efficient.

It’s come down to two options, I think: the Belkin n52te, the latest iteration of the Nostromo; and the Logitech G13. I think I like the look of the G13 more, but it’s nearly twice as expensive as the n52te.

Does anyone have any experience with using both of these, to tell me how they compare?

And does anyone have any experience with using either, or both, on a Mac? Both are allegedly Mac-compatible, but I know that’s not always the case despite what it says on the tin.

Sometimes Buffs Don’t Help!

At the moment my guild only has two raiding mages, one of whom has been unavailable for a while. The other mage has been jokingly complaining for weeks about the cost of reagents for mage tables to feed us shiftless leeches. Tonight, this conversation ensued:

Mage: omg Arcane Powder stacks to 100!
Me: And yet you’ll still bitch about not having reagents for tables. ;-)
Mage: Only if the guild pays for my reagents. [paraphrased]
Me: We don’t subsidise anyone else’s… ;)
Mage: Yes, but I’m not just anybody :)
Me: This is true, you’re not anybody.
Mage: Hey!
Mage: It costs 1g per arcane powder, and I just bought 100, so just send my bank alt 100g
Me: Actually, it costs 8s per arcane powder.
Other Paladin: That’s the last time I pay for a reagent to buff him.
Me: So it costs you 8s to buff the raid, and 40s to put up a table.
Mage: Not only will you not pay me, you don’t believe you when I tell you how much they cost – I’m hurt
Me: I am looking at a reagent vendor right here! :D
Mage: He lies. Never did trust that reagent vendor.
Me: I should note that it costs me 8.4s to buff the raid
Me: So it costs me MORE to buff the raid than you
Other Paladin: Us!
Me: Not to mention I have to cast 7 times to your once. [I’m usually on Blessing of Wisdom, for the 7 mana-using classes.]
Mage: Well, my buffs last longer!
Me: True!
Mage: Hmm, that doesn’t help me actually… forget that.
Me: So it costs me twice what it costs you!
Other Paladin: OMG! We have to buff TWICE on top of that…
Me: Per hour, it costs me 16.8s to buff the raid and requires 14 button presses
Mage: Ok, this isn’t going the way I wanted it to
Me: Per hour, it costs you 8s to buff the raid and requires one button press
Mage: lalalalalalalala
Other Paladin: It’s now clear exactly how much you suck!
Me: Oh, and if you have a second mage in the raid, you only have to pay half the buffing costs; we have to do a buff each.
Mage: I have to put a table down – that’s 5 arcane powder!
Mage: HAH checkmate
Me: Over the duration of a raid, assuming you’re the only mage, it costs me 35.2 silver more to buff the raid
Mage: I said checkmate … that means I win
Me: Therefore, the guild bank will pay you 4.8s per raid to put down a table and not bitch about it.
Other Paladin: Can I kick him from the guild?
Me: Oh, and you still only have to do 5 keypresses for that, as compared to my 28.
Other Paladin: Actually, I’d pay twice that if he didn’t bitch, personally.
Mage: I’m going AFK, you all suck!
Me: In conclusion, hand over the strudel and no-one gets hurt!
Me: I am so blogging this.
Mage: Typical. :P

Moral of the story: never argue with a paladin who’s trying to procrastinate away her dailies!

Edit: I should clarify: the mage in question is the very epitome of ‘friendly, helpful players’, and the day he seriously refuses to buff because of reagent costs is the day I check to see whether he’s been replaced by an alien.

(My guide for spotting it is going to be: if he can blink when he tries, instead of iceblocking, summoning his water elemental or summoning his mirror images – then he’s been replaced by an alien!)

Where WotLK Failed: Arthas

This post contains a) negative opinions, and b) spoilers. Feel free to skip this post if either is likely to spoil your day.

Before Wrath was launched, Blizzard reps publicly said that they wanted to bring Arthas to the forefront as the very visible face of evil in WotLK. The comparison was drawn with Illidan, where – although his machinations were involved in almost everything we faced in Outland – players rarely interacted with Illidan himself until they made decent progress into Black Temple. There was the odd quest here and there where Illidan would show up and pwn someone back into the Stone Age, such as the event when you reached Exalted with the Netherwing. But, by and large, Illidan was the “you are not prepared!” guy from the trailer, and many players never saw him at all.

So, Wrath was set to change all that. Good, great! Right?

Wrong. It feels cheap.

The first wrong note sounded for me when I rolled a Death Knight. You log in as a Death Knight and the first thing you see is Arthas’s boots, followed by the rest of him as you pan up. (He’s pretty tall.)

Despite the fact that you’ve only been dug out of the ground as a newly-turned Death Knight, Arthas himself is there to greet you, and to impress upon you just how much cooler than you he is. Unfortunately, this is nonsensical – Arthas is a being of vast power; he shouldn’t be standing in front of you as the first questgiver your Death Knight ever sees.

If meeting Arthas had come later in the progression, it would have felt awesome – it would have felt like a meaningful reward in an epic quest chain, meeting your mighty master as a reward for your exemplary service and impressive potential. Meeting him before you’ve done anything to earn that leaves it feeling a bit anticlimactic, in my opinion.

And then let’s look at Northrend. Some encounters with Arthas are cool, lore-appropriate and frankly gave me goosebumps the first time I saw them – such as, for instance, his appearance in Gjalerbron when you’re hiding behind the fallen body of Queen Angerboda as Arthas appears to whisk King Ymiron away to serve him in Utgarde Pinnacle.

Equally, the first Arthas encounter in Drakuru’s storyline – wherein you’ve inadvertently helped Drakuru to take over Drak’Tharon Keep, and Arthas turns up to pat you all on the head for being useful minions – is awesome, in an ‘oh god, what have I done?!’ kind of way.

And then, unfortunately, you come to the ‘Let’s Jam Arthas In Here Despite the Constraints Of Logic’ appearances. Okay, so you manage to sabotage Drakuru’s efforts in Zul’Drak, and luckily Arthas finds it amusing and ironic and refrains from squashing you like a bug.

The Lich King says: I spare your insignificant life as a reward for this amusing betrayal. There may yet be a shred of potential in you.

He still warns you, though: “When next we meet I shall require much more to justify your life.” Except, apparently, he doesn’t. He somehow fails to recognise that you’re the same pest (if you’re Alliance) who helped Thassarian break the Cult of the Damn’s control over Alliance forces in Borean Tundra, despite the fact that he ordered your death at the time:

Prince Valanar says: Allow me to take care of the intruders, lord. I will feed their entrails to the maggots.
Image of the Lich King says: Do not fail me, San’layn. Return to Icecrown with this fool’s head or do not bother to return.

And again, when you encounter him while you’re busy killing another of his servants in Icecrown, he just makes some more threats and then leaves his servant to carry on with getting killed. (Edit: he does the same thing when you turn up during his Valkyrifing of Svala Sorrowgrave in Utgarde Pinnacle.)

Where’s the menace? Where’s the malice? This is a being of pure evil, who can strike down pretty much anyone in single combat. Why are you even still alive after inconveniencing him multiple times?

To me, at least, it stretches credibility, and weakens Arthas’s impact. He is reduced from the figure of terror and menace he was, to a comedy bad guy muttering ‘and I’d have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids’.

Seeing Arthas turn up should be, I think, more than just a ‘oh, look, it’s the Lich King again’ moment. There should be actual threat to the players. There are other quests that kill you as part of the quest; I can think of three off the top of my head. Why isn’t Arthas killing us when we inconvenience him? Constant threats of doom stop sounding scary after a while, and Arthas deserved better treatment than that. He should be a lot scarier than he is; in Wrath of the Lich King, his ubiquity weakens him.

New Shiny!

I don’t generally make “yay I got this loot last night!” posts, but I can’t help but post about this because I’m so darn happy about it.

Throughout TBC, I was one of my guild’s worst-geared healers, because my dice hate me. I wasn’t lagging to the point of ridiculousness, but I was always one of the last to get an upgrade.

Thankfully, in WotLK, things seem to be somewhat different. Last night Gluth dropped Life and Death, and I expected there to be fierce competition for it. I pulled out a mighty roll of 98, and faced absolutely zero competition anyway as everyone was hoping to roll on the tier tokens instead.

Sailan, in pre-T7 healing gear

As a bonus, it looks freaking awesome.

PvE Is Not Easy

If you peruse large WoW communities – the official forums, the big gaming websites, trade channel (*shudder*) – you’ll see a common thread: ever-so-terribly leet players telling us that PvE content is easy, that if you fail on X encounter you’re terribad, that anyone with half a brain could faceroll through this stuff, et cetera.

Well, they’re wrong.

I’m not talking about the current level of raiding content – that is, indeed, pitched at a less challenging level than most, if not all, of TBC content. (Which is not to say it’s trivial – it’s certainly not, especially for inexperienced raiders.)

No, I’m talking about the blithe statements, usually made either by hardcore raiders, hardcore PvPers or disparaging ex-WoW-players, that all raiding is easy, that you can’t help but win if you don’t suck.

One of the popular measures for ‘not being bad’ is managing spatial awareness and 3D movement. Well, you know what? Those tests of spatial awareness and movement (Frogger boss, I’m looking at you) probably are trivial if you have the reflexes of a 20-year-old, or you grew up playing FPSes, console games and arcade games.

Hi, I’m thirty-three, and I avoided combat games like the plague. I never owned a console growing up, I spent very little time in arcades, and the first time I had access to a computer capable of running games more advanced than NetHack was in my second year of University. Granted, I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time playing games since then, but they’ve largely been RPGs and strategy/simulation games because I’m not a particularly aggressive or competitive person. (Please note that ‘not competitive’ and ‘not performance-oriented’ are not synonymous.)

Frankly, I’m sick of the attitude that treats WoW like another twitch-based FPS game, and that rates these skills above everything else. If you’re going to ignore the fact that my tanking is good, my DPS is fine, or that I just saved your ass with a split-second heal, just to mock me for dying on Frogger? Kindly shut up.

(True confession: sometimes, just sometimes, I turn with my keyboard. Gasp! Yes, it’s true! Guess what? It’s never gotten me killed, and it’s never caused a wipe.)

Edit: Based on some of the comments, I should probably clarify: this is not ‘Confession of a Terribad Raider’ time, because I don’t think I am. I certainly could do better, particularly on movement issues, but I do okay. (For the record, I’ve only ever died on Frogger twice – once in a 40-man because I’d never seen it before and no-one explained it, and recently in a 10-man, purely due to lag. I’ve never failed the Thaddius jump, I’ve never been beaten by the Ledge Boss or the Pipe Boss, and I haven’t been hit by a lava wave on Sartharion since the first time I did the fight. I did, however, once fall off a ledge in Karazhan for absolutely no reason at all, which caused a lot of hilarity.)

What this post actually was intended to be – and this probably didn’t come across clearly, since I was writing it at 7am after a night of zero sleep – was expressing my frustration at the elitists who’ve been practising these skills for half their lives, who do not ever stop to think that not everyone has the same training they do.

Siha Has Lots And Lots Of Class

Pike recently tried to convince us that she has no class, which is a patently false idea.

I, however, can proudly assert that I have lots and lots of class. Observe:

Siha bought WoW, installed it, and rolled a paladin. To this day she can’t remember why, except that she’s always loved playing healers, and a melee healer sounded like fun. She tried levelling as holy, which was fine until things got very slow and tiresome in the mid-30s, and a guildmate convinced her to swap to Retribution. Whee! Siha duoed her way to 60 with her best friend, who played a hunter. Good times. A couple of months after saying the fateful words “Oh, I don’t think raiding’s really something I am interested in”, Siha was spotted in MC, up to her elbows in fire elementals and healing like crazy.

Somewhere along the way, Siha decided she had some free time (hah) and rolled a druid. It was slow, and horrible, and got shelved around level 9. Months later she dusted off the druid, got to level 10, and bearformed her way through Ashenvale. Cat made things go faster, but Siha has decided she fundamentally hates feral. Druid is currently stalled at level 40; every few months Siha logs her on, runs in circles for 10 minutes, giggles at the moonkin /dance, and logs off again in boredom. In principle, Siha loves druids; in practice, the druid is shelved.

Siha rolled a hunter. She got it to level 17, got bored, and lost interest. The hunter is now her herb banker.

Siha rolled a priest. She got it to level 12, and shelved it. She later realised she’d lost interest because she didn’t like the way the priest looked. The priest is now her food banker.

Siha rolled two rogues, a warrior, and a warlock. None of them made it into double figures before getting deleted.

Siha rolled another priest (who was actually named Siha), and stuck with it. Levelling was slow going until she got shadow form, and then she fairly zoomed along. The priest hit 60, and Siha raided on her a bit, but she always felt a bit pointless because the paladin was so much better-geared and could do the job so much better. Siha later levelled her to 70 and raided in TBC with her as a disc/holy DPS/heal hybrid and really enjoyed it.

Siha rolled – look, let’s be honest, and say Siha rolled another banker. This one was warrior-flavoured.

Siha bought another account to make room for all her bankers. On the new account she rolled a mage, and loved it. Stuff died fast, and things went boom, and Siha cackled madly all the way to 60. The last few levels were a crazy slog; the mage hit 60 in a Strat Dead pug literally 8 hours before TBC’s midnight launch. This was to allow her to dual-box the paladin and mage through outland, since the paladin was an alchemist/jewelcrafter and the mage was a herbalist/miner.

Siha discovered she hates dual-boxing.

Siha rolled a draenei shaman, like every other alliance player. Siha actually really liked it, although she made life harder for herself by levelling as elemental despite a complete lack of spellpower mail. Shaman currently on hiatus at level 60.

Siha rolled another hunter, and enjoyed it, right up til level 10. Then, inexplicably, got bored and eventually deleted it.

Siha rolled a warrior on another server to play with a friend, and hated it. Shelved at 17, and not entirely sure which server she’s languishing on, either.

Siha rolled a Horde hunter. Shelved at level 26.

Siha rolled a Horde warlock, and quite enjoyed it, but missed her guild and her vast stash of tradeskill mats. Shelved at level 27ish.

Siha rolled a dwarf rogue and loved it, and stabbed face along with a group of friends levelling together, all the way up til about level 68. Then Siha discovered what she loved about rogue was the way they play in world PvE, and that she doesn’t actually enjoy single-minded melee DPS in instances. The rogue is currently shelved at 69, parked in Dalaran to make potions and engineering thingies, although she’ll probably get levelled as a solo character in six months or so.

Siha rolled an Alliance warlock and enjoyed it, but is unmotivated to play it more. It’s okay, she supposes, but feels a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing. She wonders if she might enjoy it more when soloing, where the versatility of the warlock will be more useful. Shelved at 64ish.

Siha rolled hunter #4 and is really enjoying it. She is surprised by this. Levelling interrupted by the arrival of WotLK, currently sitting in the teens.

Siha rolled a death knight, and looks forward to playing it, but can’t get motivated to actually finish the starting area quests after playing through them too many times in the beta test.

Siha admits that she might perhaps have a teeny weeny addiction to alts.

I’m off for some New Year’s celebrations, so I’ll see you all in 2009. Which means I’d better hurry up, as that’s only an hour and a half away. Happy New Year, all!

Two Wintergrasp Tips

Two handy Wintergrasp tips for you:

  • It’s a great place to get the With A Little Helper From My Friends achievement. WG is one place where it’s fairly easy to get a lot of HKs without getting repeatedly killed by the other side, provided you’re smart and you use cover and teamwork appropriately. It’s easier if you’re the defending team, of course. And best of all, there’s no deserter debuff – if you loseWeight Exercise your gnomeness halfway into the match, just nip out, regnomify yourself, and get back in there to finish the battle. I got all my kills in about 25 minutes of a defending WG this morning.
  • If you’re a healer, you can heal from the back of a moving siege engine. I had always assumed it would be impossible for spells with a cast time, that you’d get prevented due to movement, or that you’d be locked out from doing anything when you’re a passenger. But no! Protected by the tank, and free to cast to my heart’s content? I have a new favourite hobby.

Remember the Geek Code?

Come on, someone other than me has to remember Geek Code, that mysterious string of alphanumerics featuring prominently in the .sig files of old-school internet geeks a decade and more ago?

Well – and I’m only surprised this hadn’t happened sooner – Typhoon Andrew has come up with a WoW version, a quick and easy way of summing up your WoW focus and interests.

For reference, my WoW Code is

M:Pa-H-80, Mb: 51/0/20, Mr: Hu, Alt:Ma-F-71, S:Proudmoore-US-PvE, G:Southern Wardens GMO+L+Heal, PvP, PvE++, Y2005.1, D++, L++, R:Dr+Or+Un-, :), V0.1

…but that’s probably all stuff you knew already.

Check out Typhoon Andrew’s original post for a translation, then come tell me what your codes were! I’m curious.

Link Round-Up

A few links wot I recommend:

Josh of Eye For An Eye has posted an excellent guide to playing Retribution in Wrath – for those of you planning on picking up PvE Ret as your second spec, this is pretty much invaluable, especially if your last experience with Ret was back before Molten Core like mine was.

As a counterpart, Ferraro’s blog Paladin Schmaladin provides a good analysis of talents for Ret paladins; if you’re trying to L2Ret, this is a good summary of the decisions you should be making – and the reasons why.

On a non-Paladin note, I recently stumbled across Artisan Level, a general WoW and Guild Leading blog that I’m really enjoying; great writing and relevant – if fairly non-specific – content. You can find it at

For the longest time, I thought I hated world PvP, and the idea of a PvP zone in Northrend filled me with ‘meh’. But on a whim I tried a couple of games of Lake Wintergrasp and found I really, really enjoyed it! If you’re interested in checking it out, Mooonfire! has written an excellent guide: “Ten Things I Think You Should Know About Wintergrasp”. It’s definitely worth a read; some Wintergrasp mechanics aren’t at all clear when you first try it out, and a guide like this is a great help.

And one last link useful for anyone who’s likely to be tanking – or off-tanking. Honor of Honor’s Code has written a useful guide to tanking caps in WotLK – uncrittability, the block cap, the hit cap and the Expertise cap. Dedicated tankadins probably know all this, but it’s a handy reference for those of us who are, at best, part-time tanks looking to work on our offspec gearing.

Outside World? What? (Thoughts on Wrath)

Or – hooray, Sailan is now level 80! I dinged early this evening – I went to bed last night with 13% to go, and today just seemed to draaaag.

I can’t say I’ve experienced more than a fraction of what WotLK has to offer – I dinged 80 in mid-Zul’Drak, leaving me with Sholazar Basin, Storm Peaks and Icecrown all untouched (but for an exploration jaunt and an instance run) – but so far I’m incredibly impressed. Wrath has really raised the bar for MMOs, I feel; not only is there loads of content, but it’s far more immersive and interactive than TBC or classic WoW. An old friend of mine – Mrigashirsha of Shift-T – has been talking with his usual insight and perceptiveness about what’s new and awesome in Wrath, and I tend to agree with him.

I think that, for me, the two factors that have set Wrath apart are:

phasing, which finally allows you to actually have a lasting impact on the world you see around you, and

variety in questlines; no longer are you just killing X of Y, then Y of Z for someone – the variety of tasks you’re given to complete, and the more numerous ways you can interact with the world, make every questline feel more immersive.

That, and the fact that the world is just gorgeous. (My next post will be another WotLK Wallpapers post.)

There are some negatives to Wrath, of course, but I don’t particularly want to focus on downsides at this early date – not when I’m having so much fun.