Blizzard – Making you feel good by wasting time while wasting time!

April 28, 2009

It’s no great secret that many of the gaming nay-sayers will be quite vocal about WoW being a complete time-sink and a waste of time. I’ve certainly seen my share of being part of the hardcore few, not as hardcore as some, but I don’t believe that you can pigeon hole the term in a set of hours played in a day, I’d claim being hardcore is more about playing all the hours where you’re not doing something else, or blowing something else off in order to play more hours. Been there, done that, actually have a couple t-shirts….

Now, there are those of us who are much more casual that can still admit that WoW can be a huge time-sink if you let it. Since switching to the Horde from Alliance I know that over the course of my new levelling I’ll have eventually invested a lot of hours to get up to 80 and then have another batch of content to do that I have started on my Alliance and not finished. After all, I love my Black War Mammoth and Black War Bear, I’ll be wanting to replicate both of those on the Horde, naturally.

The mere fact that I have an active subscription and blog regularly about exploits in the game means that I am comfortable with the amount of time that I spend playing, that’s kind of the main point of Operation: Casual Horde. It would be easy to get suckered in and play a lot more on my current 80’s, now I’m trying something different away from the pressures that are there. When I switched over from my Priest to the Shaman one of the biggest issues I had was all the stuff I’d accomplished already on my Priest that I’d have to go and potentially do over again, some of those are still outstanding but my Shaman has some stuff that the Priest doesn’t and that means I’m fine with both. Obviously there are now a whole host of achievements once more now I have my nublet Druid. I happen to be one of those people that likes grabbing achievements and World Events give a great opportunity to snag some more. These events tend to have some that will only be obtainable on a level 80, I don’t really have an issue with this, after all the game has been out a long time and you’d almost be expected to have a max level character after all this time. Titles are really just a way of showing who has spent a lot of time focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all others.

Now, I’m sure some of us can appreciate the irony in the Noblegarden events, if some people consider WoW a time-sink or, in some circumstances, a waste of time, then imagine having an event where you run round in a circle for hours trying to collect little coloured eggs hoping that they have certain treats inside. A waste of time within a waste of time, I could have gone to bed early or done some questing or something else entirely, but last night I logged into the game around 2230hrs with the sole purpose of collecting some damn eggs! You know what, I actually didn’t think it was that bad either…..

Blizzard have stumbled upon a holy grail here, you can waste time, while wasting time and feel perfectly happy that you’ve done it and then be happy to log in the following day for more of the same. I know that this simple formula could probably extrapolated out to sum up all of WoW, if that’s what you wanted to do, but I don’t feel that my general WoW playtime is wasted. It’s entertaining and keeps me at home with my wife rather than being anywhere else. Last night Greenborne spent almost 90 minutes collecting eggs from Bloodhoof Village, Brill and FalconpunchWing Square. I got over a hundred, picked up a dress, two Tuxedo shirts, a set of Tuxedo pants and two bunnehs. I ate a lot of choccies for the Chocoholic achievement (talk about art imitating life on this one…geez) and still have the desire to do more to pick up a couple more items and hope for the bunny ears to drop. I’d also like to think that I’ve blinded some people by continuing to wear my garish Viper set while moving out of travel form to renew buffs I don’t need while grabbing eggs hidden under trees.

As I expressed in Guild chat last night, there is no way in hell I am going to bother doing this on my Alliance characters. I’ve always wanted to be Horde rather than Alliance so I’m kind of “living the dream” at the moment. I know that some of my guildies have also been having fun charging round starter areas grabbing eggs, it’s on the strength of one of their comments that I ended up for a large period of time running round Falconwing as it’s small and has quick respawns on the eggs. The event finishes this weekend and there are a couple more bits and pieces I want, if I manage to do what I’m thinking of I’ll throw up a screenie or something for posterity (don’t get too excited about it). Either way I’ll be spending more time finding these things rather than spending my limited casual time doing something like actually levelling my character.

Grats to Blizzard on the hypnotism that means I feel like actually doing this for hours on end and really actually achieving little for the time investment!


Operation: Casual Horde – Weekend Update Part 2

April 27, 2009

Another weekend, another batch of levelling and just for a change, another world event whereby people are camping various points and get irate if you step into their perceived personal space.

I took a break on occasion this weekend away from TourGuide in order to run some instances, I can now tick off Wailing Caverns, Shadowfang Keep and Blackfathom Deeps. I picked up some very fetching pieces from Wailing Caverns and now look like some reject from the 70’s!

* of the Viper

I know, it’s just not right!

Overall I had but one goal that drove me over the weekend. I’ve been getting used to DPSing in kitty form as well as switching over to bear when things go a bit pearshaped. However, everything has gone swimmingly and I even got to try my hand at tanking in Blackfathom, I didn’t lose aggro, no-one died and it all went rather well feeding my impression that Horde > Alliance. I hope that this continues.

Without boring everyone to tears I’ll just say that I hit my goal, I can go back to being more casual now as I’ve really done a ton of levelling. My simple gather and sell has netted me over 100g so far and I’m happy at that. For what my goal is I’ll direct you to the picture below. I should have a more detailed post up when I can decide on its direction, it might involve players disguised as bunnehs frustrating me to hell!



Cow on Pig Action

April 24, 2009

TourGuide steered me through the wilds of Stonetalon last night seeing Greenborne through from being a paltry 21 to the dizzy heights of level 23. I will probably play a reasonable a mount on Saturday to try and get closer to getting a mount, I have a point in Feral Swiftness at the moment (it’ll be two points once I ding 24) but still it’s not what I’m used to having two level 80s both with epic flying, a little success on the Auction House has me at over 60 gold right now and I have some more items to throw up there.

My little “here’s what you do to level” add-on took me through some places and quests I haven’t done since the very early days of WoW back when I had a Hunter and then moved onto my Shaman. Windshear Crag and it’s horde of Goblins for instance, although having a stealth kitty gives me some options I’ve not had before.

Now, I may be getting confused, it’s certainly been a few years since I did much Hording, but the “Weapons of Choice” quest I always remember as being a nightmare due to the low drop rates of the weapons, I also seem to remember you had to collect 3 of each rather than one? Now I’ll admit that I may have this wrong as there are other quests I can think of where you have to go around picking up weapons so I may be getting some crossover, but now it’s just one of each things when a lot faster, also being able to stealth past mobs you don’t want to fight is awesome.

After I’d fought my way through that little area and the quests TourGuide pointed me in the direction of Gann’s Reclamation. I had bad memories of this quest and it’s nice to see that nothing has really changed, I hit my first death in around 4 levels in that place. It’s so cramped with the mobs quite close together and they have a seemingly huge aggro range and a reasonably short respawn timer to boot. I really hate that the standard mobs also have Sunder Armour. I need to kill things fast as a Kitty and have little to no armour to speak of in that form, I could go bear but then I do less damage and take longer to kill things and there are so many patrols in that little dig site that you can easily get mobbed. Swapping out of forms to heal yourself soon eats through mana as well. I finished the quest but it is still as awful as I remember from the first few times I ran through there. I’m not looking forward to the fact that my guide is showing me the Harpy quest in the Charred Vale, that’s another one I remember as frustrating, they’re all grouped up together and there are various patrols around to give added headache.

Still, despite these “setbacks” I must say that I am enjoying the Druid, my mage still has not even entered the game so I’m on target for keeping this character going. Although I am thinking that a Hunter/Mage Arena team could do an amazing amount of damage in 2v2. That’s a long way off however.

So, observations on levelling comparison between Horde and Alliance then;

I suppose the first few levels are all going to depend on your race. All my level 40+ characters are Draenei and I tend to take other races over to the Draenei starting zones as they give better rewards (and I know all the quests so can run through them pretty fast). Horde side I have a lot of Blood Elves and even though I do have a Tauren now once he finished Mulgore I hoofed it over to Ghostlands to run through that (this is partly because TourGuide gave me the option too and partly because I know the place gives better rewards than the early parts of the Barrens). You can almost discount 1-20 though as the real levelling starts after that.

With Alliance I tended to drop into Ashenvale in the early twenties, there is plenty to do there that sends you towards 30 with occasional forays into Stonetalon. I know that historically on the Horde side you didn’t hit Ashenvale until the late twenties, before TBC I always found a gap around 20-25 where you’d be all over the place trying to get to the point where you can go to Ashenvale. Now though I’ve been grabbing things across the Barrens and Stonetalon, as both zones are close to each other there are some nice paths for handing in things that keep you cycling around and the levelling is quick. I know this is going to lengthen out as I get higher and I’m looking forward to seeing how the higher end zones work Horde side. I’ll have to see where the guide takes me, it’s not boring me so far and I’m not really tempted into firing up my Alliance guys. I think it will be interesting at the point I can get into Dalaran seeing the people I know on Alliance with me on the opposite side.


3.1.1 Elemental Shaman Spec

April 23, 2009

Right, I finally managed to remember to screenshot my talent trees as they were before the latest patch reset them all again. But I know where they’re going so that’s all well and good. For Major Glyphs I am running with Glyph of Lightning Bolt, Glpyh of Flame Shock and Glyph of Totem of Wrath. My current Elemental spec;



This is pretty much a straight re-write of the old 57/14 spec that was doing the rounds before 3.1 hit, not a couple of the talents have been taken away or changed this is what I’ve come up with as a replacement, it covers all the basic damage boosting bases as well as adding in the staples of the spec. The biggest change between pre 3.1 and now is the addition of Booming Echoes. Boosting Flame Shock periodic damage by 20% is pretty awesome, especially as it now can crit, the cooldown is less useful though as the Glyph of Flame Shock means that Lava Burst isn’t going to be consuming it.

I’ve added in Glyph of Totem of Wrath, it provides a 5 minute buff equal to 30% of the spelldamage boost that you get from Totem of Wrath, I think this is awesome. Totems can be destroyed or you might be in a fight where you move a lot and (for whatever reason) get plonked out of range of your totem, but with this little buff you’re still going to adding some extra spell damage across all your spells which will stack with you dropping another Totem of Wrath later. With my normal gear, unbuffed, dropping a Totem of Wrath and the new buff pumps me up to over 2100 spellpower.

However, with all this messing around with talents I got to thinking (and this is a dangerous thing. I remember when Wrath hit and we got the new talent trees a discussion started up on Elitist Jerks on whether you could run a Shaman resto spec for Dual Wield with Earthliving Weapon on each. This got me to thinking about the possibility of an Elemental core spec but with Dual Wield and Flametongue weapon on each. Please note that this is pure theory, I have no idea even if FT on two weapons stacks at all, I’ve taken talents that increase the power of Flametongue totem as there just isn’t enough points to get Totem of Wrath, ok you miss the crit and some of the higher level Elemental talents like Lightning Overload, Lava Flows and Shamanism though.

Spec pasted below and I’d be interested in hearing anyone comments on this. A lot of the Enhancement here is filler to get up to Dual Wield, if I had an appropriate off-hand I could respec and try this on a dummy, I don’t and I’m too poor to be able to afford dual-spec to try this out myself. Hence the fact that this is pure theory, it may be that people look at this and laugh at how completely nonviable a spec it is, but I’m willing to take any discussion and help to iron it out if any of it looks worthy of a deeper inspection. I’m not imagining that this is the case but this is the first time I’ve really tried to come up with something completely new talent spec wise rather than going with the de-facto spec out there.



I’m note sure if the trade-off in the +% damage bonuses on the those top tier talents are adequately compensated by the extra Flametongue on an off-hand though and my current Glyph of Totem of Wrath would need to go back to the old Glyph of Lava too.


Memory Like a Sieve

April 21, 2009

As an aside today I was going to talk about the changes I’d made to my Elemental Shaman Lekktra over the weekend. I spent a bit of time out of the new project to look over the new Glyphs and I respecced from 3.1 hitting and resetting everything. A run on the target dummy saw me doing 2400DPS which isn’t bad from badge epics and a couple Naxx drops. (That’s unbuffed btw).

I was going to go through my talent spec and expound on some things but forgot to tag myself in the WoW armory and as I am posting from work (shhhhhhh) I can’t get there now to post things up.

I did swap out my Glyph of Lava for Glyph of Totem of Wrath though, 10% spellpower bonus for 1 spell against +30% spellpower for 5 minutes everytime I plonk a Totem of Wrath down was a no-brainer for me. I can hit a level 80 mob for over 75% of its health now with a Lava Burst crit, and my Lava Bursts ALWAYS crit.

My selling of Copper Bars and Light Leather from the gathering specs I grabbed on Greenborne have been uber-successful too, everything he put on the Auction House has sold, along with the green items I picked up from drops while questing. I have almost 60 gold already after having spent most of what I’d earnt from questing on glyphs already. Ten levels to my mount and I am hoping for continued success to mean I’m not going to have to wait for that Kodo.

Also, following comments on the voting for the Casual Horde thing I dropped Bind the Undead Mage and recreated the Mage as a Blood Elf called Snowborne. I doubt this character will see any play time but if the Druid falls through I have a backup. In true casual fashion I shouldn’t be on until Thursday night and that will be the only weeknight this week that I’ll be playing. Green will be hitting up the Stonetalon Mountains and the last sections of the Barrens according to TourGuide. I may actually start to write down my observations too, I come up with a lot of material but once I try and remember it days later for a blog post it’s all gone.


Operation: Casual Horde Weekend Update 1 – Hitting 20

April 20, 2009

So far, so good! Operation: Casual Horde hasn’t really been all that casual though. The levelling experience of getting the druid to 20 (which I achieved yesterday) was much like I’d expected, I’ve died a few times already (including one ill-fated jump off Thunderbluff trying to grab an achievement). Although I must say that hitting 20 has meant that I see the bear as actually having enough of a skill pool to be able to get through some mobs without me wanting to bang my face against a table. I know that having those kinds of feelings are not really conducive to playing a class long term, this is the third of fourth time I’ve gotten to 20 on a Druid though so I’m well versed in how things go. Now I have Kitty form I should be a lot happier and can hopefully start ripping things up.

Roop’s new Orc Spuzz is catapulting along too, I have to admit that having someone else I know levelling close to me is providing more of a sense of competition to not fall too far behind. However I’m going to commit to the more casual side of things now that the first levelling goal is out of the way. My mining and skinning is going well as I’m collecting everything I come across, I’d have around 60g by now if I hadn’t have spent almost 30 on getting the Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth the moment I dinged 20.

At the close of Friday night, this is how my junior cow was looking;


I finished the TourGuide section for 1-12 and then decided to take the option of Ghostlands rather than sitting around doing more Barren quests. I know I’ll be back to the Barrens at 20 for a bit anyways. I’ve been following this guide pretty faithfully the only detour I had was when Spuzz (Roop) and I decided to try and 2-man Ragefire Chasm, which we did, although we had to wait about half an hour to actually get in to the damn place and once we finally did get in my computer dropped the Internet after the first pull. Luckily a restart cleared everything up and we finished the instance without any problems.

Saturday out of the way and more upgrades for the Beeflord;


Sunday hit and I was happy with how things have been progressing so far, the addition of Faerie Fire to my spell list has been a greater change to my damage output than it may at first seem. Starting off the pull with that spell has seen me reduce the amount of time taken to kill mobs significantly. Running through the final sections of the Ghostlands on my trusty guide managed to get me well over halfway to 21 before completing the guide. I’ve also kept up with my cooking and First Aid so my tradeskills are keeping pace with my levelling progress. As things have gone so well I’ve now taken my foot off the gas and started to be more relaxed and didn’t spend all night last night playing where usually I would have.

One final update on how Greenborne is looking before I offer some observations;


Check out those pants! You should also notice that his horns have changed, there’s not much in the way of haircuts for the bovine-inclined among us but I thought that these horns suit him more than the originals so there.


  1. What exactly is the point of the Satyr boss in RFC? He doesn’t drop any loot….
  2. Isn’t it odd that mobs are perfectly happy to ignore you walking right in front of them until you grab a pickaxe and start mining?
  3. Why do Zombie Trolls only let off poisonous gas when they die and not when you pummel them with a mallet as big as they are?
  4. Despite having hooves I can still wear the same shoes that are given out to everyone else who has killed 10 Ghostpaw Lynxes already…
  5. Why are the Golden Plains some of the hilliest terrain around? Aren’t Plains supposed to be mostly flat?
  6. Orgrimmar is filled with high level guards to protect the city, yet in the bowls of that same place there is a cave filled with much lower level nasties that I should got fight when I barely have any skills.

From the Grassy Plains of Mulgore

April 17, 2009

As of last night Operation: Casual Horde is a go!

The night before I took the two highest rated class/race combos from how I was feeling and created both characters, say hello to Greenborne the Druid and Bind the Undead Mage. The Blood Elves missed out I’m afraid. I spent a lot of time thinking about which one to actually play and despite the flurry of voting that has occurred on the poll today I already made a start last night. Say hello to the newest member of the Horde!


Yes, I went with the druid! Now to be seen running across the plains of Mulgore, I’ve played a couple of Taurens in the past so have a little familiarity with their quest chains. However, as I had decided this was going to be a casual project I was going to just have fun grinding out some low levels, or so I thought. With 3.1 being released I’ve updated a lot of Add-ons and as I was going through my list I saw I still had TourGuide installed. For anyone unfamiliar with this particular add-on it is a series of guides with on screen waypoints that tells you where to go and what to do, it gives you an order for taking quests as well as when to hand them in for the most effective and efficient levelling. I decided to throw this into this little project to see how it turns out. To start with I picked the “Mulgore (1-12)” guide and followed what it told me to do, I even got shown a quest that I had never seen before right there in the Tauren starting village, it certainly is a great little levelling aid and working through it keeps me playing despite the fact that the process of getting up to level 20 with a Druid is one of the most trying in the game.

Taking things slowly I got to level 10 before finishing last night, I just need to complete my Druid quest at the border of the Barrens to unlock bear form, I’ve also been reminded about some of the horribly low drop (or maybe I’m just unlucky) rates for some of these early quests. Due to the fact that I am not trying to power level my way through the content I have also take time to pick up the two gathering skills I’d pre-selected to try and earn me my cash to get through the game. I settled on Mining and Skinning so I only have one resource to track. I know the ores will sell for more than the leather but I can switch to a profession later on if I want to. I also took Cooking and First Aid and can make Heavy Linen Bandages as well as having Boiled Clams available to cook once I get the resources. I’ve always liked trying to keep on top of my tradeskills as I level and it’s quite easy to let cooking drop off as you go. I’ve never done it properly on this side of the faction divide yet so am looking forward to uncovering the differences between my Alliance characters.

After doing all the running around I logged off in Thunderbluff I logged out there after returning from Moonglade, I’ll finish up the bear form quest later (maybe tonight, I want to try and get 20 over the weekend but have other stuff I want to spend time doing as well so not going to be sat in front of the PC all weekend), but here is how Greenborne looks after those first 10 levels of his grassy homeland.


I sent him over the Baby Blizzard Bear and bought a Prairie Dog. The achievements I completed during the first night were “Can I Keep Him?” “Explore: Moonglade”, “Level 10” and “Journeyman” for my Skinning and Cooking. Not a bad night and I certainly didn’t rush through anything.

Spell rotations for the first few levels; As you only start with Wrath as an offensive spell I just fired off two of these and then beat things down with melee. At level 10 I cast Entangling roots and then 3 Wraths if the target is lower level than me and 4 if it’s the same level or higher. This eats up a lot of mana and even with Thorns and Mark of the Wild up you don’t have a lot of damage mitigation. Cooking and First Aid help here as you have options to replenish your health without eating more into your limited mana pool. My one and only talent point so far has gone into improving my Mark of the Wild. Once I get my bear form, and later on Cat form, I’ll more than likely be exploring the options on the Feral Combat tree.

In late breaking news I’ve also found out that Roop is coming over to the Horde to try out a PvP themed Orc Hunter, as I want to be PvP viable on this character as well it may be that if we get to top level Arena may be something in our future, that’s something I haven’t done before which may be interesting. Stay tuned for more about this as it develops and I’ll provide another update after the weekend on how little calf Greenborne deals with moving from Mulgore into one of my favourite ever zones, the Barrens!