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Allison Robert

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Guide to Hallow's End 2014

Headless Horseman comic.
Hallow's End 2014 begins on Saturday, Oct. 18 and runs through Saturday, Nov. 1 this year. As with most of the game's holidays, Hallow's End is required for the yearlong meta What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been that grants the Violet Proto-Drake. Completing the required Hallow's End achievements will also award the title the Hallowed.

In 2011, Blizzard added some major updates and improvements to the holiday, changing Tricky Treats from edible confection into a form of currency that players can use to buy pets, masks, and wands. This year has some new loot available -- three costumes for your pug pals, and a new costume for players as well, the Exquisite Costume Set: "The Lich King." And for all you pet collectors out there, this year you'll find the usual Creepy Crate, Sinister Squashling and Feline Familiar as well as Widget the Departed and Cursed Birman, two new ghostly kitties to add to your collection. Toy collectors will want to make note of the Little Wickerman and add him to your Toybox if you haven't already.

As with most of our holiday guides, I've arranged the achievements in the rough order they should be completed, noting which achievements are required for the meta and which aren't.

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Filed under: Events, Achievements, The Overachiever

Guide to Brewfest 2014 achievements

Brewfest is back, as is Coren Direbrew, his cronies, and some of the easiest trinkets you'll ever farm for from the holiday boss. Now, you can get better gear for yourself and approximately 37,000 alts off the Timeless Isle if you've a mind to grind, but killing Coren can get you some quick and easy ilvl 470 trinkets without having to suffer endless "Is Huolon up?" spam in general chat.

That might be worth it. It's up to you.

Anyway, right now there's no indication that Blizzard has changed the holiday in any substantive manner, and although some new items have been found on the PTR and beta, they are not on live servers, which means the run of achievements is pretty much the same. This year, Brewfest runs from Saturday, Sept. 20 to Monday, Oct. 6. As always, check your in-game calendar for your server's exact start and end times, as they'll differ slightly by time zone. The Brewfest meta Brewmaster is required for the year-long What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been, so you'll want to get this done if you're working toward a Violet Proto-Drake.

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Filed under: Achievements, The Overachiever

Challenge modes 101: The beginning, the middle, and the end

This is the sixth in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

Challenge modes can't be queued for like normal or heroic dungeons; you must travel to the instances and start them yourself (at least until you start getting golds and can teleport to them). Doing so will illuminate why so few people enjoyed having to do this in the age before the Dungeon Finder.

Right-click your character portrait, scroll down to instance difficulty, and click the Challenge Mode option. The instance portal will change to the hourglass graphic above. Enter and you'll find the path forward blocked by a yellow mist with a sundial in front and a list of the dungeon's requirements on your right. Clicking the sundial will give you the option to start the challenge. Once you accept, you'll get a countdown from 5, and then you're off to the races. Be sure to pre-pot!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

You ask the impossible: Finding classic world-drop recipes

I've been running a Challenge Modes 101 series recently to help players who are scrambling to get their transmog sets, mounts, and titles before the axe falls, and our commenter Drewbob pointed something out that I hadn't considered. The use of Invisibility Potions is a key part of the strategy for gold timers, but the recipe is a world drop in classic Azeroth. If you weren't lucky enough to get a drop while leveling, or buy it when it was more commonly available on the auction house, you may find it very difficult to get these days. You can't really farm for it, and on smaller servers, you've got to wonder if it's ever available at all. I bought my Invisibility Potion recipe back during Burning Crusade, and now that Drewbob's mentioned the sheer difficulty of finding it these days, I'm so grateful that I was always too lazy to switch professions.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Challenge modes 101: Ranking the dungeons by difficulty

This is the fifth in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

There's no universal agreement on which dungeon is the easiest or most difficult; groups with different CC and cooldown options don't experience dungeons in the same way. However, there's some consensus on which dungeons demand the most effort:
  • Easy: Gate, Scholomance, and Scarlet Halls
  • Intermediate: Temple, Shado-Pan Monastery, and Scarlet Monastery
  • Hard: Mogu'Shan, Siege, and Stormstout
I prefer to classify them somewhat differently.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Challenge modes 101: Pull McNasty

This is the fourth in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

Pull McNasty (noun: 'púl mik-'NAS-tē): The worst and most difficult pull in a challenge mode dungeon, and most common point of failure for a group attempting to beat the gold timer.

Learning how to survive "Pull McNasty" is an essential challenge mode skill. Once your group knows how to coordinate its cooldowns, stuns, and interrupts, each successive McNasty will simply be a matter of tailoring that rotation to each dungeon's context so you're not pulling faster than your cooldown timers can support.

I've assembled a list of the various Pull McNasties past the cut.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Challenge modes 101: Farming invis pots and how to use them

This is the third in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

For non-mages and groups without access to the rogue's Shroud of Concealment, plan on using a lot of Invisibility Potions for challenge modes. If you're not on a big server, the odds of finding them on the auction house are low, but farming them in quantity is easy. Ghost Mushrooms grow and respawn very quickly in the Fungal Rock cave in northeastern Un'Goro, and you can get more Sungrass than you'll ever use with a few circuits around the edge of Thousand Needles. Get a potion-specced alchemist to make the pots for you.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Challenge modes 101: Shopping list


This is the second in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

Gear in challenge modes is scaled down to ilevel 463, so it's crucial to bring buffs to maximize your group's performance. You will need:
  • Extra helm if needed Legendary meta gems do not work in CMs. If your regular helm has one equipped, pick up an ilevel 463+ helm somewhere and equip it with an ordinary meta gem.
  • Restorative Amber Healers may find this useful as it will regenerate mana substantially faster than ordinary drinking. On the down side, it requires honored with the Klaxxi to buy and it's expensive. I don't use it while healing, but many do.
  • Invisibility Potions: Plan on using one of these in every dungeon with the exception of Gate, Stormstout, and possibly Mogu'shan and Siege. Rogues can eliminate the group's need for these altogether with Shroud of Concealment. Mages can use Invisibility instead and continue to use their potion cooldowns for DPS. You can also use Lesser Invisibility Potions, but I find the 18-second version easier to farm. We'll talk more about these tomorrow.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Challenge modes 101: Finding a group before it's too late

This is the first in a series on getting challenge modes done before the Warlords of Draenor content patch. You will find all the articles in the series here.

Because challenge modes for Mists of Pandaria dungeons are set to disappear in the Warlords of Draenor content patch, I thought it might be helpful to run a series on how to get your golds squared away before that happens.

I would advise everyone to read Adam Koebel's article from January on getting started with challenge modes. I won't repeat the excellent advice given there, but will try to expand on it for the benefit of players who are trying to get all 9 golds done quickly. Take heart: My character is living proof that no one is too dumb or incompetent to do these things.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Do certain roles encourage bad behavior?


I still like tanking and healing more than anything else in the game, but they have their deficiencies while you're trying to smash Hexos into a well-deserved stain on the floor. In order to finish off Brawler's Guild achievements, I went DPS for the first time in 6 years and then thought, "This is actually kind of fun. Let's try some LFR and see what this puppy does in a raid."

In a matter of days, I and my hapless raid-mates encountered the following:
  • A tank who RP-walked to everything. (Spoils took forever.)
  • A tank who posted the meters after each trash pull and boss to make fun of the least well-geared DPS.
  • Tanks who couldn't be persuaded to kill the blademasters in Gates of Retributon, trapping the entire raid in perma-combat.
  • Tanks who kept taunting Thok back and forth to alternately breathe on or tail-swipe the raid.
Notice a pattern?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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