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Breakfast Topic: Do you enjoy using vanity items?

Vanity item
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

People have been complaining about the lack of character customization in WoW for a long time now. I agree that the character creation screen in WoW does seem a bit limited when the customization options in other games can generate thousands of permutations, but for now, I'm content with the way things are. Why? Because a lot of the time, my character doesn't even look like himself.

I have some 30 vanity items that transform the appearance of my main character or the world around him, and I put them to good use. Whether it's clucking my way through city streets as an Arakkoa (via my Time-Lost Figurine), or popping my Iron Boot Flask and making everyone in the Auction House dance with me (via my Piccolo of the Flaming Fire, I love being able to change the way I look when I get sick of the same old character model. I've learned that dropping my Tol Barad Searchlight in a capital city almost always generates a party out of thin air as passersby use their Mylune's Call, throw down their Haunted War Drums, set out their Romantic Picnic Baskets, and decorate with their Guild Battle Standards.

But while I use them to escape the tedium of limited character customization, vanity items for some players serve loftier purposes. Back in Wrath, a guildie of mine would always use a Gordok Ogre Suit when he thought the next attempt would be the one in which we'd finally down the progression boss we had been working on all night. Whenever we saw that ogre, we knew things were getting serious and that a boss kill was imminent.

So how do you use vanity items? Which is your item of choice when transforming the appearance of your character?

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Breakfast Topic: Do you have any characters that've slipped off your radar?

Character selection screen
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Sometimes we lose track of things.

As I was working through my third Mass Effect 2 campaign the other day, I was reminded of my first play through Mass Effect 1 in which I had painstakingly developed the perfect version of Commander Shepard. I lost that first save game file, unfortunately, and had to play through ME1 again in order to set myself up for a character import into the sequel. Alas, for some reason, I have never been able to recreate perfectly the masterpiece that was my first Shepard.

I also have a character on WoW that I no longer play, the loss of which distresses me greatly. I created this character, a blood elf gunter, shortly after The Burning Crusade came out. I loved my hunter's name scheme, as he and all his pets had the word "Blood-" prefixed to their names. At that time, I had just begun to play with a group of RL friends who attended the same college I did. The five of us would all bring our laptops to one guy's room and play late into the night. We leveled quickly, each filling one of the roles necessary for running 5-man content. It was a blast, but unfortunately it ended when they graduated.

Eventually I began to play with new people who were committed to the opposite faction. They were already active on a different realm, so I switched and left my beloved hunter behind. I've missed him ever since. Sometimes I think about transferring him to my new realm, but all my characters are Alliance and I don't know anyone on the Horde side. And how could I change him into a night elf or some other race when he is perfect just the way he is?

Do you have any characters that have slipped away? Do you ever think about what could have been if they hadn't?

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Breakfast Topic: What's your motivation to perform?

Firelands DPS chart
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

The raid is falling apart. You're on a boss you've downed before, but now it seems impossible to make it out of phase 1 because people keep failing on mechanics they should already have mastered. Ranged DPSers are standing in fire. Healers aren't popping CDs when the boss smacks the tank with its hard-hitting ability. Melee DPSers aren't switching to the adds in time, so they wipe the raid. Tanks can't seem to position the boss correctly. The raid is falling apart.

So what is it that will motivate your group to pick up the pieces, stop failing, and win?

Some group or raid leaders seem to think anger is the best motivator. They get stern, raise their voices, and threaten to kick the next person who fails, hoping their severity will prod everyone to victory. Some take a sarcastic tone, mocking group members until they clean up their act. "Wow, what a pro-mage move -- you Blinked right into that explosion. You should really think about doing this for a living." Others seek to break the tension and frustration by giving everyone a short break. Perhaps a reminder of the rewards works best, since shiny new loot is a great incentive for most. Sometimes even humor does the trick; it's just a matter of getting people to LOL at how pathetic that last attempt was or how ridiculous their character looks while riding Magmaw.

Since people are different, though. Sometimes one method of motivation doesn't work for everyone in the group. The angry lecture approach can backfire when group members get so worried about failing that they freeze up and stand still instead of doing their jobs. Taking a break or laughing for a few minutes can have the unintended result of breaking the raiders' concentration, at which point their loss of focus causes even more fail.

So what is the best motivation for you to overcome obstacles, perform at the highest level, and succeed?

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Breakfast Topic: Choose your own adventure

Green Proto-Drake
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

In many games, plot outcomes are affected by choices the player makes throughout the course of the game. This is obviously not the case in WoW -- but what if it were?

Currently there are actually a few decisions for players to make in the game. For instance, a quest in Eastern Plaguelands gives players the option of adding varying amounts of a solution to a plague cauldron, with different results depending on the player's choice. The option to associate with either the Aldor or the Scryers was a key dilemma players faced in The Burning Crusade. Similarly, in Wrath, players had to decide whether they would assist the Oracles or the Frenzyheart tribe, with each faction offering different rewards.

None of these choices influenced the unfolding story, however. So imagine how much more compelling it would be if the decision to support the Oracles or Frenzyheart tribe had some effect on, say, the Icecrown raid. What if the Oracles showed up and played a song on their instruments to paralyze the Lich King for a short time? And what if the Frenzyheart charged in and set traps that made him take more damage when triggered? Raids groups would then need to have at least one player supporting each faction in order to have them both show up.

Which storylines and events would you want to influence if player decisions really mattered? Would you have voted for someone besides Garrosh to become the new Warchief? Would you try to promote peace and cooperation between the Horde and the Alliance? Or would you pledge allegiance to the Old Gods and stymie the efforts made by other players to stop Deathwing and his ilk?

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Breakfast Topic: Back to the future or forward to the past?

Caverns of Time
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More and more patch 4.3 news has been emerging in recent weeks, and it's looking like the new dungeons and raid in patch 4.3 will all be Caverns of Time instances. One intriguing twist is that the first of the three new dungeons will actually bring players to a time in the future. Though the news sounds great, I for one do not expect that the new 4.3 PVE content will exhaust the concept behind CoT. The notion of traveling backward or forward in time to witness -- and perhaps even influence -- an epic event in the story of WoW has the potential to breed an endless number of exiting possibilities.

A CoT instance I would like to see in the future is a visit to the past conflict between the Eredar who joined up with the Burning Legion and the Eredar who fled with the help of the Naaru (aka the Draenei). There hasn't been much Draenei lore or story development since The Burning Crusade, so I think an Eredar-themed CoT venture would be welcome (and for once, my Draenei shaman wouldn't have to disguise himself as a Human). Perhaps players could be brought back to the eredar homeworld Argus to assist Velen and the Draenei as they attempt to escape from Archimonde, Kil'Jaeden and the demon-corrupted Eredar. If Sargeras is involved in the next expansion, perhaps the trip back to the time at which he recruited the Eredar could be part of an attempt to weaken or destroy him.

What Caverns of Time dungeons or raids do you hope to see developed in WoW? Would you rather go back to an historic moment in the past or forward to some key event in the future?

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Breakfast Topic: What was your first armor set?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

With the recent news that transmogrification will be making its way into the game come patch 4.3, I've found myself thinking back on the different sets of gear my main character has worn over the years. The first full set I collected was the mail armor from the Scarlet Monastery. I remember the boots dropping from one of the trash mobs the first time I cleared through the library with a PUG. I'm pretty sure it was the first item I had ever seen at the time that had a tooltip with the list of items in the set and the bonuses at the bottom. Once I won the roll, I knew I wouldn't rest until I had collected every piece!
After far too many Scarlet Monastery runs (and after my character had leveled too high to get much experience from running the dungeons), I finally completed the set. The sense of accomplishment was satisfying as I equipped the last piece and admired how sharp I looked -- especially compared to the dull, mismatched quest greens I had been wearing before. Lately I have been reliving the excitement (and frustration) I experienced back then because I can't help but attempt to pick up the armor set once again for use with transmogrification.

What was your first armor set? Did you keep it, or will you too recollect it for transmogrification?

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Breakfast Topic: How do you decide which race to roll?

Want a race change?
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Each time you create a new character, you are faced with a few crucial decisions. Which class? Which race? And perhaps most importantly, which hairstyle? When I started my most recent alt, I debated with myself over the best choice of race for quite some time. Here are some of the factors that crossed my mind:

  • Class considerations Before Cataclysm, if you wanted to play a druid on the Alliance, rolling a Night Elf was the only option; likewise, Blood Elves were the only ones who could be paladins on the Horde side. Selecting a class first often makes the race decision easier -- unless, of course, you select the warrior class, in which case you won't get any help.
  • Pure aesthetics Who wants to look at cow butt for hours on end? 'Nuff said.
  • Affinity Perhaps the backstory of a particular race captivates you, reminding you of your own journey or struggles. Perhaps it's easier to put yourself in the shoes of a character who howls at the full moon or eats the corpses of the dead for a quick pick-me-up.
  • Racials If you plan to min-max with your character, you may want to select a race with a bonus to stats that actually matter for the character's class. Likewise, it could be helpful to go with a race that has bonus skill points in the profession you hope to learn. Some advantages are just a matter of convenience (e.g., instant flight form). And let's not forget cool effects like Rocket Jump!
  • Resemblance When you still can't decide, I suggest rolling a character of a race that looks more like you do. Got lots of back hair? So do Worgen and Tauren. Long ears? You must be an Elf or Troll.

Which factors did you consider when choosing race? Which of them is most important and why?

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Breakfast Topic: What's the longest you've ever farmed for something?

Time-Lost Proto-Drake flight paths
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

I used to farm Attumen in Karazhan every week for the Fiery Warhorse mount. I used to farm Anzu in Sethekk Halls every day for the Raven Lord mount. I used to farm the quest in Brunnhildar Village every day for the White Polar Bear mount. I used to farm a lot of things ...

One of my longest-running farming attempts was for the elusive Time-Lost Proto-Drake. I would fly around The Storm Peaks for hours while working on homework, watching shows on Netflix Instant, waiting for random heroic queues, etc. After a few months of diligent hunting, my determination to find, kill, and loot the reins of the Time-Lost Proto-Drake was incited all the more when a friend just happened to fly past the dragon on his way from Ulduar to Dalaran.

At first, I was upset that the mount I sought so dearly had fallen haphazardly into his hands. Soon, though, I realized that if someone could get the mount by sheer dumb luck, it would be much more likely that I find it through persistence. After I spent several more months farming, however, this same friend just happened to see the shadow of the Time-Lost Proto-Drake flash by while he was questing in The Storm Peaks on the new Worgen mage he created when Cataclysm dropped. When I saw him flying around on his second TLPD mount, that was the last straw for me. I gave up the hunt.

What items, mounts or achievements bring out the farmer in you? How long have you been farming for that seemingly unobtainable something?

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Breakfast Topic: What new class of weapons would you add to WoW?

Ebon weapon rack
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

As an enhancement shaman, my main character has lost many a roll over the years to players rolling on weapons for which their class probably shouldn't even have been rolling in the first place. We enhancement folk are pretty picky about which weapons we'll use; slow one-handers with agility are the only ones that pique our interest (blasphemers who use spellpower weapons are dead to me), and only those of the mace, axe, or fist families. Back in Naxx, I lost out on Calamity's Grasp to a rogue who wasn't even specced into a fist weapon build. Hunters rolled on one-handed axes like Touch of Madness -- as if they couldn't use nearly every other kind of weapon! Even dual-wielding DKs tried to get their cold, dead hands on one-handers like the Lion's Maw.

If it were up to me, I would remedy this problem by creating a whole new weapon class: flails. Flails would only be usable by shaman (and maybe druids, because kitties are cute). Variations could include the medieval-esque spiked ball(s) chained to a short pole handle, or even the nunchaku style of two sticks chained together. The swiftly spinning ball and chain of death would fit well with the enhancement shaman's Windfury Weapon imbue as well.

If you could, what new type of weapon would you add to WoW? Which classes would be able to use the new weapon, and why?

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Breakfast Topic: Are Cataclysm gear ilevels too big a jump from Wrath?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Throughout Wrath, I spent the vast majority of my time in game on my max-level main character, with just a few hours /played on alts at various stages along the road to being forgotten. With the onset of Cataclysm, however, I found myself motivated to level an alt to the level cap for the first time. After a few days questing, I succeeded in bringing my up-and-coming alt from Un'Goro Crater to the quest leading into Hyjal.

Thanks to the time spent on my main, my fresh lvl 80 alt was well-resourced. In addition to carrying pots and foods, I stormed into Hyjal wearing heirloom chest, shoulders, weapon, trinkets, and even a spiffy new heirloom cloak. I was ready to rock, and having come straight from Icecrown, I expected to be able to pull two to three mobs at a time without exerting much effort.

As it turns out, Hyjal is not Icecrown. I soon found out through a process of trial and error -- well, mostly error -- that I could barely survive one mob without popping cooldowns and potions. My response? "But Cataclysm content wasn't this hard on my main!"

Once I completed a few quests and received my first upgrade as a reward, I realized what the problem was: My gear was 100 item levels too low. Aside from my heirlooms, my alt was wearing blues and greens from questing in Icecrown -- ilvl 174 gear, at best. The mobs were much more difficult on my alt because he wasn't wearing anything remotely close to the ilvl 264 gear my main had brought!

What gear were you wearing when you took the plunge into the new Cataclysm content, and how did you fare? Do you feel the new zones are well-tuned for characters coming straight from leveling in Northrend? Is the ilvl jump from 174 to 272 too drastic or a necessity?

Is the gear jump from Wrath to Cataclysm too large?
Yes2274 (23.5%)
No4385 (45.4%)
Only for non-raiding characters3008 (31.1%)

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