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Archive for October, 2008

With just over two weeks til Wrath of the Lich King arrives, it's getting down to the wire to make those preparations for the expansion.  As K- and I are both switching classes, we have quite a lot to do.

Leveling the Shadow Priest:

Our goal was level 58, to coincide with the deathknight's level upon finishing his opening questline.  Khæli is now about 40% into level 60, and I'm a little concerned she'll hit 61 and level out of the AV bracket — the only BG in my battlegroup where the alliance consistently wins.

Honor:

I'd hoped to get all six pieces of my PVP Epic set, along with a weapon and maybe a jewelry item.  Of course this gear is made obsolete in the Outlands, but it is pretty badass looking, and the deathknight deserves a hot-lookin' shadow priest at his side.  I have about 3000 honor now and 3 of the six pieces.  So by my count, I need roughly 62,000 honor, 70 AB tokens, and 30 WSG tokens.  Ouch.

Faction items:

The shadow priest will go Aldor; the deathknight Scryer.  The dailies from the Isle have made collecting the latter quite easy.  We need to spend a bit more time farming the Aldor turn-in items.  We also have banked hundreds of the Unidentified Plant Parts for the CE rep, as well as a number of the spores and hibiscus parts for Sporeggar faction.  Lower City, Consortium, Sha'tar, Kurenai — all these will need to be earned via questing.  Whether we choose to do so will probably depend on crafting recipes.  At the least, of course, we'll get honored with all of them for the key to the heroics.

Tradeskills:

Khæli is in good stead for crafting.  She's over 300 with both enchanting and tailoring.  There are lots of recipes she'll have to track down, however, particularly if there aren't good upgrades in the expansion.  She hasn't learned cooking or fishing, however.  I don't think I have time before WotLK to level these.  We also have quite a bit of ore saved in the bank, along with some blacksmithing recipes, in preparation for the deathknight's professions.  And tons of cloth.  Seriously.  Tons.

Coin:

Ugh.  We have long felt at a deficit in this realm as relatively new players we do not have the large stash of gold that other players seem to.  We'd hoped to raise enough funds to buy epic flyers for Khæli and Kaleyen, but needless to say, I haven't amassed enough gold for one yet.

So much to do; so little time.

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Two recent events in WoW have heralded the November release of Wrath of the Lich King.  The first was the implementation of Patch 3.0.2, which among other things, drastically altered the class talent trees and decreased raid bosses’ health — two changes to the game that made players (particularly ret paladins) feel extraordinarily powerful.

The second event, however, left many people feeling extraordinarily powerless, namely the zombie plague that tore through Azeroth over the course of the past week.

Mysterious crates first appeared in Booty Bay on October 22.  By clicking on a crate, a player became infected with a disease that if not cured within ten minutes turned her/him into a zombie.  As a zombie, a player gained several new skills, including the ability to “retch!” — an AOE that spread the disease to nearby players and NPCs alike.  Although Argent Healers were stationed throughout the cities and although paladins, priests, and shamans could cure the disease, the plague spread rapidly.  Within days, the incubation time had shrunk to five minutes, then to only one.  The Argent Healers seemed to all but abandon the cities, which were inevitably and incessantly overrun with zombies (both players-as-zombies and NPCs).

As an article in Anti-Aliased argues, this (along with other world events that are still ongoing in-game) was “the perfect reason” for the Horde and Alliance to feel compelled to venture to the new zones that will open in WotLK:  “What could Arthas possibly do to make everyone simultaneously angry and want to journey to Northrend?”

The answer:  Zombies ate the auctioneers.

Personally, I think the zombie infestation was the best world- and pre-launch event I have ever experienced in an MMO.  After all, in the last game I played, on release day it was just “click on the bell and hey! a whole new world!”

But the wrath of the Lich King and his mighty zombie army was perhaps matched by the wrath of those players (let’s use the correct gaming lingo, shall we?) — the QQers — who filled the trade channel in-game and the WoW forums out-of-game with their complaints that the zombies made the game “unplayable.”

Well, no shit.  As the legions of zombies movies should have taught us, zombies are synonymous with the apocalypse, and when “the End is here!”, it does get a bit difficult to shop or travel.

As the plague crescendoed, “business as usual” was disrupted in WoW.  But the game was never unplayable.  One just had to adapt to the new circumstances, and as all video games do warn us:  “experience may change during online play.”

My priest, loathe as she is to leave shadow form, furiously cured all around her who’d been infected.  (Note to Blizzard:  please let us cure disease while in shadow form.)  She did purposefully get sick once in Shattrath, only so as to port to Thunder Bluffs to infect the Tauren.  But primarily she fought, rather than succumbed to or whined about the plague. 

During
My druid, unable to cure herself or others, was zombified far more frequently, sometimes intentionally, sometimes as she was trying to (ZOMGStarfall!) hold back a Zombie invasion.  On the last night of the plague, when the infection was instantaneously turning people to Zombies, she, along with all of the Stormwind Trade District, found herself overrun by a forty-plus zombie “raid.”  (For the record, zombies hit the orphanage first, long before they targeted the King.  Bad zombies.  Bad bad.)

To be part of the spontaneity and power of that force of destruction was exhilarating.  In an email to K- the next morning, I wrote

Last night was so fun.  I knew it was late but I wanted so badly to call you and get you out of bed to participate in it.  😛  But the thing is, it was over in probably less than 5 minutes, and by the time we’d returned to Stormwind to get our bodies, all the NPCs had respawned.  Also, I was able to unequip all my gear, so I didn’t take any durability damage at all.

It was so damn cool… and isn’t that why we plan MMOs? — an online experience that is always changing and that is unpredictable?  I mean, any PVE content is scripted to a certain extent, and that’s what makes PVP, I think, so much fun — you can’t have Deadly Boss Mods telling you that the mage you’re fighting, for example, is about to AOE.

But even if you abhor PVP and even if you prefer to play in a controlled environment, at the very end of an expansion and on the cusp of a new one, what better thing to happen than something that shakes up gameplay — for a weekend.

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Introductions

K- sent me an email today announcing he was starting a Deathknight blog.  Well shit, I’ve been stewing about a blog entry on WoW’s recent zombie invasion for the past few days, and although I’ve scribbled some notes – “zomg. Best world event evah.”  — I haven’t crafted a post yet.  But if he’s starting a new blog, then dammit, I have to start one too.
So about me and about this blog:

As a blogger
:  I have blogged on and off for a number of years.  I think I’ve made one or two posts about my experiences in MMOs but I’d like this blog to be devoted to my gaming adventures.  I intend to write about not only game mechanics, but also about the anthropology of gaming culture.  So there’ll be posts on whether or not it’s worth speccing into Improved Vampiric Embrace alongside musings on why the hell people got so upset about the plague over the weekend.

As a gamer
:  I have played MMOs for a number of years.  I’ve tried my hand at Lord of the Rings Online, City of Heroes, and Vanguard; but most of my time has been spent playing Everquest 2 and currently World of Warcraft.  In EQ2, I played two classes extensively – a fury and a dirge.  I raided with both.  I was a guild leader, a class leader, and a raid leader.  Undoubtedly, the best loot I won from that game is my fiancé, who I met raiding the Court of Al’Afaz on New Year’s Eve 2005 and who wooed me over the course of the Ivy Shrouded Earring quest, an infamous seven hours since which we’ve been inseparable.

Burned out on raid- and guild-leading, we moved from EQ2 to WoW in February of this year.  I know it was February because he gave me The Burning Crusade expansion as a Valentine’s Day gift. (Awwwww.)  He has played a Night Elf Hunter; I have played a Night Elf Druid.  Unlike friends and guild-mates who have multiple toons at level-cap, these are our only level 70 characters. 

As a shadowpriest:  With Wrath of the Lich King around the corner and with the promise of the Deathknight class, my fiancé is leaving the (sad sad sad sad) hunter class behind.  Although I still enjoy the druid class, I’ve opted to play a new class in the expansion, and thus we’ve been power-leveling a priest.  I chose a class that could provide both a DPS and a supporting role. (More posts to come on how Blizzard is re-imagining “support classes”.)  She’s now level 60, a level she’ll remain at until

  • The DK joins her in the Outlands

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