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The coolest gift

I've been extremely fortunate to be in some guilds with exceptionally generous people. When I was levelling my first character, a warlock, I found a very nice guild where people shared a lot of drops. I was out working on level 19 one day when a hunter on guild chat mentioned that they'd had a set of Black Velvet Robes drop. For a level 21 caster item, it's pretty much the best thing ever. I said something to the effect of "wow, those are really cool" in guild chat. An hour later, they were in my mailbox. I was just stunned at the generosity. Those robes sell for a lot of gold, even with the level 21 requirement making them less desirable for twinks in battlegrounds.

Is this sort of generosity common? I have a very limited perspective, having been in exactly two guilds, so I'd like to hear your stories. What kind of items have you seen given away (or sold at well below cost)? What kinds of criteria are used for giving things away? I'm less likely to give something to someone's alt than their main, but I'd like to read your comments on this.

Filed under: Guilds

Breakfast Topic: What do I level next?

Throughout vanilla WoW I'd managed to create a small selection of alts that I managed to level all the way to 60. Since the expansion, I've been focusing on gearing out my main character, the irrepressibly cute gnome warlock pictured here. But what's next? I have a druid, warrior, and a hunter that I've leveled up to 60, and a Draenei mage that I've leveled up to 20 just to see the new starting area. I'm tempted to level the mage up as a tailor so I can crank out more shadoweave cloth for the warlock's nefarious purposes, but leveling my druid alchemist up could also be a nice moneymaker. I enjoy playing all the classes I have, or I wouldn't have leveled them up as high as I have, so that's not an issue.

Any thoughts on what I should level next? Are there any leveling catches that I haven't heard, things that make a hunter, druid, or warrior easier to level than the others?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Beginning Karazhan

I got a chance to lead a raiding force from my guild into Karazhan last week. It went really well. I was very pleased to find fight after fight that managed to rely on coordination and communication, as opposed to old style raiding which relied on how fast can mages, priests, paladins and druids spam their respective cleanse spells. I started out with a conservative group, which to me means a group that's heavy on heals at the expense of damage dealers. This makes the fights take longer, which means the fights are a lot slower. When things begin to devolve, we can all see very clearly what's wrong with our tactics and modify them during the fight or at worst after the fight. This works great up to the Curator, where if the group doesn't have enough damage dealers then the event becomes very difficult.

The instance is pretty. Very pretty. The fights are engaging and require adjustments for class balance, which is great because many of the fights in "Vanilla WoW" had very hard class requirements for crowd control. As it is we can do most events with one priest and one or more paladins. I actually prefer a shadow priest for the Vampiric Embrace goodness, which helps out the paladins a lot with their mana usage on long heal fights as well as improving our raid's damage output. Even with the priest nerfs that went in, Shadow is still a very viable raid spec. In addition I've had a paladin play offtank with great results. I haven't had any druid tanks yet, but only because the scheduling hasn't worked out yet. In other words, this is a great small-guild instance, it only requires 10, you need adequate healing and tanking which can be supplied by multiple classes, and you need adequate DPS. The gear checks aren't even horrible, a group that's geared with nice blues from Shadow Labyrinths, Steamvaults, and the Tempest Keep instances will do very well here.

So how are you doing in Karazhan? Do you have any stories to tell?

Filed under: Instances, Raiding

The sad state of engineering

While many trade skills aren't living up to our expectations, engineering is the saddest panda. While the gathering professions get to gather new materials (although maybe not in the quantities they'd like) and nifty epic patterns and weapons, engineers have gotten a variety of new flares and items they can't even make. Yes, flares. And items that can't be made because of bugs that will go "in to a future patch."

There were many engineering recipes dropped between beta and retail release of the expansion, as a result there aren't many recipes available to progress from about 355 to 370, and the recipes that are in game require very expensive materials. Also, most engineering trinkets cease to function against creatures or other players over level 60, so as an engineer levels the stuff they've been using becomes less and less useful with no replacement in sight. To compound matters, none of the trinkets or bombs can be used in arena combat, including even marginally useful trinket pets. As compared with jewelcrafters, who can use all their pets in arenas. The only positive preview we've gotten for things coming for engineering is this post, in which Drysc hints at a frost grenade. Since it's a grenade, and probably a consumable, it's also a non-player in arenas, and since many engineers took the profession for it's PvP utility this is not a very promising development.

I've dropped engineering after being an engineer for over a year. How many engineers are left out there? Why are you still an engineer? Are you finding it has enough utility to justify keeping it, or are you hopeful that there are enough new things coming that it will be once again worthwhile?

Filed under: Engineering

Breakfast Topic: So how are those keys coming?

So the expansion's been out for over a month, you've gotten all your raid keys done, right? RIGHT? The overwhelming looking raid attunement chart hosted by WoWWiki seems intimidating, but a lot of things turned out to be easier than I'd anticipated. For example, you don't need to complete Shadow Labyrinth, The Steam Vaults, or Arcatraz for your Karazhan key. The Shadow Labyrinth key is at the end-boss, Murmur, but the fragment in The Steam Vaults can be reached without actually killing any bosses, and the one in Arcatraz can as well. The reputation buildup just from doing the usual instances and quests was enough to provide me with almost all the reputation I needed for heroic mode keys, but I haven't started any heroics yet.

How are those keys coming folks? Horror stories with that pickup group in Steamvaults got you down?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Raiding

Whither Zul'Gurub?

We used to run Zul'Gurub weekly, if not more often. The loot was OK (a couple of GREAT tanking swords drop there, and not a lot else), the reputation rewards were fantastic, as were the enchants. Since Burning Crusade, we haven't even gone to Stranglethorn Vale. Is it less fun? I'm not sure. With the boss scaling issue, and trying to get everyone up to level, we just haven't taken the time to check it out. Since the shoulder enchants and head slot enchant are still very good, I may try to get a group to go back on a bijou and coin farming mission. We might just go back to see if we can run the place with 5 people for kicks.

That said, if I never set foot into Molten Core again, I'll be happy. I'd like to finish Blackwing Lair and poke into Naxxramas since I never managed to get there, but the new 5-man instances and new raids are keeping me adequately busy for now.

Any plans to go back in time now with new and improved gear and abilities?

Filed under: Raiding

Social guild events

One of the things my guild does is bi-monthly guild events. Every now and then we all get together and do something fun or crazy, and then get together in Stormwind or Darnassus to have a few ceremonial ales and /dance around the fireworks. We have a few people in the guild who set the events up, a few folks volunteer/get drafted to help out, and everyone has a good time. No real guild progress is made, no huge bosses downed, just general craziness and fun. We do occasionally n00b races, where we have members make level 1 alts, summon them to a secret location and have them run to another secret location, usually PvP flagged (with some of our experienced PvP'ers riding shotgun to prevent any spawn camping). Gift swaps during the holidays, and so on. Does your guild do any fun social events? Got any concepts I can steal...uh...use with appropriate credit?

Filed under: Guilds

Breakfast Topic: How many times have you changed your talents?

With the new talent trees and the challenges of leveling, I've had to adjust my talents several times. On my warlock, I did a post-2.0 build before the expansion pack that was very heavy demonology, a leveling build that was heavy affliction, then I tried multiple builds for post-70, settling on a hybrid 40/0/21 build similar to my old raiding build.

Fortunately I'd had my old raiding spec for a very very long time, and my cost to switch everything now is up to just 30G. How many times have you unlearned your talents lately? What's your re-spec cost up to?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Talents

Server stability one month later

So, how are the servers treating everyone a month after the expansion release? Alleria's actually gotten (knock on wood) significantly better, with only one hard server disconnect last weekend. It seems that all of our instabilities are on weekends, last weekend's was Saturday, the weekend previous was on Sunday. There have also been no queues for the last two weeks, even during prime times, lag has been "acceptable" for me anyway.

How are your servers treating you?

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard

Breakfast Topic: Most annoying mob in The Burning Crusade

With every new expansion comes a new mob to hate. Pictured here is my most hated mob for The Burning Crusade. Found in the Shadow Labyrinth of Auchindoun, these Fel Overseers hit cloth really hard, and have a very annoying Intimidating Shout fear effect that is annoyingly resistible and resets aggro on the tank until the tank is back in melee range. When I say "annoyingly resistible" I mean that I often resist it, and the tank doesn't, so the tank is halfway across the room and I'm being stabbed at for for 1,200 to 1,900 hit points per swing, with a very nice critical hit one time of 4,796. My favorite part is how this thing is classed as a "demon", but immune to both Banish and Enslave.

The best method I've found for dealing with them is to make sure everyone is in very short range, so everyone gets feared, including the healers. Hunters are excused if they can feign fast enough to achieve the same effect. This generally means the mob will follow the tank around. Since there's no warning, and he hits so hard, trying to stay in berzerker stance to have anti-fear abilities up is somewhat hazardous. The cool down on the fear is very short, on the order of 30-45 seconds, so even fear ward and berzerker stance will eventually be on cool down when the fear hits. If I don't get feared, I either will try and drain-tank the big guy, or simply run after my tank, so the tank is in melee range as soon as the fear fades. Either way has about a 75% success rate, where success is me not needing a rez at the end.

So, The Burning Crusade has been out for about a month now, have you found a new most annoying mob?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, The Burning Crusade