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Breakfast Topic: Just how lucky are you?

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

Getting random drops always involves a bit of luck. In a PUG, not only do you need to have what you want drop, but you have to manage to win a /roll as well. In guild groups, you have to have DKP or whatever currency your guild uses for a loot system. Gear for the most part comes from time; eventually, you get the loot you need, but getting these random drops becomes far worse when farming for low drop-rate items such as pets and mounts. Baron runs, heroic MgT runs, Anzu runs, ZG trying to farm the various whelp and raptor pets ... some of us spend hours or days or weeks, and still never see it.

I have been on a pretty major achievement kick since prior to the Cataclysm launch, topping off old reps, farming pets and mounts, doing fishing achievements, all the things that take a back burner to leveling and new instances and raids. Trouble is, I have awful luck. Being a druid, I have run Anzu so many times I lost count and have never seen the mount; same with Baron, ZG and heroic MgT. No mounts from any of these places in hundreds of attempts. On the other hand, I have a guildie who has both ZG mounts, both Brewfest mounts, the Horseman's Reins, Anzu, and Rivendare's Deathcharger. He even got two of the raptor pets from ZG the same week he got the mount.

How lucky are you when it comes to farming rare drops? Have you been able to go in and get the drops in a few attempts, or have you given up in frustration, cursing the WoW gods?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: When do you refuse to play WoW?

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

Hopefully, people have other interests besides WoW. Many of us are nerds, whether it be movies, TV, books, or cartoons. Some people refuse to log on during their favorite TV show or miss a night to see a movie premiere or have to finish reading their favorite author's new book. These other forms of entertainment outweigh WoW in terms of importance to some people. Others just log on WoW and catch up on other media when the servers are down or they are bored with lack of new content.

I do not log on Sunday nights, mostly because I am watching Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead. Sure, I could record these programs and watch them later so I could maybe get in an alt run Sunday night -- but besides these being something I enjoy, I also take Sunday as a break night. One of my friends is an avid follower of a band (I don't really remember the name; they are pretty underground), and every time they have a show close by, he goes out of his way to see it. Another guildie announced that he would not raid one night because he was going to the midnight showing of the latest Harry Potter movie with his girlfriend; he claimed it was her idea, although I have my doubts.

So are there certain things you will not miss even to play WoW? Do you schedule your raiding or PvP nights around your favorite TV programs or new movies? Or do you just log on and figure you can always see whatever it is later?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: It was lag, I swear!

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

Lag is probably the single most common excuse for mistakes in all internet gaming. From the beginning of the big craze of first person shooters to now, mistakes are chalked up to lag. The expressions change from: "Oh sorry, you didn't get a heal? I lagged real bad!" to "Oh, I had a huge lag spike!" -- even expletive-laced shouts at the lag itself, as if you could personify bad latency. This happens in PUGs, guild runs, and even just friend and family groups.

The question is how often are people actually lagging versus how often is it merely an excuse, because no one else can prove you did not lag. The truth is, it is not always lag -- but sometimes it is. I have went on expletive-laced tirades when I disconnect during a boss fight or see that horrible thing when my entire action bar is lit up with queued spells but I am not moving. However, if you actually make a mistake that is your fault, I am a big proponent of taking credit for and owning it. If you blame lag or someone else every time you make an actual mistake instead of taking ownership of your shortcomings, you never learn from them. Admitting you used an ill-timed spell, moved into the fire, or just got caught up in your rotation and had a lapse of attention allows you to learn and grow from your mistakes (and hopefully never make them again).

Do you ever use lag as an excuse when it was a personal mistake? Is it a common go-to excuse you use often? Or do you believe in admitting your mistakes and trying to get better from them?

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Breakfast Topic: Moments of pleasant surprise

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

Everyone who plays WoW has horror stories. Awful PUGs, bad groups, guild drama, the time you got that item ninjaed. We often pull out these horror stories in games of one-upmanship about who has had the worst experience with friends and guildies. Or when recruiting a new member to your guild, the bad memories often outweigh the good when it comes to certain players.

However, if WoW were merely a collection of awful experiences and drama, there would not be millions of people paying 15 bucks a month to keep playing it. This is about those moments in which you were pleasantly surprised.

I have had several throughout the six years of WoW, varying from random, in-game good luck to things that resonate in real life. One of the most pleasant surprises for me was meeting an-in game friend during a dungeon, eventually joining his guild and becoming a main tank for that guild -- the guild I still raid with to this day. I also got Undying on an 8-man Naxx run the day I turned 80 on my paladin tank alt. Friends of mine met through WoW and are now married. One of my relatives went to BlizzCon only to find a coworker also there; neither of them had known the other played, and they found out they are on the same server. Even recently, a doctor of mine saw a WoW shirt I was wearing and asked what server and faction I was, then made a joke about not knowing if he could heal me since I play Alliance.

So what are your moments in which you were pleasantly surprised? What moments have made your day or left you feeling relieved and happy? Have you had the simple, in-game moments of joy that bring a smile to your face, or have you had in-game moments that affected your real life as well?

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Breakfast Topic: Will you be buying either of the new vanity pets?

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

Blizzard has been selling us in-game items for a while now; however, it has kept this to noncombat pets and mounts -- things that, outside of counting for totals for achievements, have little to no real effect on gameplay. Some of the items Blizzard does for self-profit, and sometimes it sells in-game pets for charity. People who buy the items get different reactions from the community; the sparkle pony especially got a lot of hate.

Personally, I have not bought any of the real-money pets, partially because I am not a collector and partially because I felt that paying for downloadable content should add something major to the game experience. However, I am considering buying the Ragnaros pet for one main reason: because Rags is my major epic memory of vanilla WoW, I always felt he was an awesome model and so imposing, and many of us went around saying "too soon" on Vent.

Have you bought any of the vanity pets? Do you buy them all as a completionist/collector? Do you pick and choose the ones you think look cool? Do you only buy the charity pets? Or do you avoid real money transactions in games altogether?

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Breakfast Topic: How often do you read quest text?

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

If you have played WoW for more than five minutes, you have done a quest. It is nearly impossible to avoid doing them altogether. Since the option has been implemented to have instant quest text and the options tracked on the map by Blizzard's default UI now, most players see the exclamation mark, click on the NPC, accept the quest, and go get the items -- whether it be someone's head, 10 rocks, or going to kill a certain number of creatures -- without paying attention to the why. We want the gold, experience, achievement, or perhaps a quest reward, but we cannot be bothered with why we need to commit genocide on a population of wild animals. We would rather crit the mobs required for the quest than be crit by a wall of text.

I am as guilty of this as the next person: Oh, bring you murloc eyes ... Sure, why not? Kill a bunch of boars? Whatever. However, when I recently went back and finished off Loremaster, I found myself actually paying attention to some of the quests, and I realized there can be some great stories there. The Burning Crusade, Wrath, and soon Cataclysm have come a long way in terms of making the quests feel like they are leading somewhere, as opposed to killing these random mobs for no apparent reason. While working on Loremaster, I was like, "Wow, that was a neat little storyline in that quest chain!" It made me both impressed and a little sad, wondering about all the possible nuggets of story I had simply ignored just so I could level a couple of minutes sooner.

Do you actually read the quest text? Do you ever want to know why we have to kill the creatures we kill and why the NPCs want these seemingly inane items? Or do you just do it for the XP and money and could not care less?

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Breakfast Topic: WoW on the go

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

All of us have a life outside of Azeroth. People always say how much more important real life is than the game. However, if we say we are going to be somewhere in the game, shouldn't we take that commitment as seriously as one in the real world? If we tell our guild or friends we will be there for a raid or to PvP, shouldn't we do our best to not let them down? Isn't telling your WoW friends that you will be somewhere and simply not showing up without any notice just as bad as if it were your real-life friends?

Since I am a tank for my guild, I pretty much have to be at almost every raid. In order to make raids when not at home, I have raided on laptops and at other people's houses, just so I don't let people down. By not always playing on my home PC, I have learned to be a minimalist with mods as well as learning what the minimum settings I can still effectively tank with. This has allowed me to maintain most of my real-life and in-game commitments.

Have you ever had to play WoW outside of your own home to fulfill your social obligations? Do you have a gaming laptop for this purpose? Have you played at a friend or relative's house on their PC? Do you have different UIs or mod setups for your PC and laptop?

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Breakfast Topic: How do you get past bad nights?

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

No matter what aspect of WoW you prefer, we all have bad nights. Your guild has an off night, wiping endlessly on farm content. You get in a drama-filled PUG and get saved to a raid that doesn't really accomplish much. Your arena team loses most of its matches. You keep getting into BGs with half the other members AFK. We rage, QQ, maybe have an alcoholic beverage, and eventually log off frustrated and unfulfilled. However, with as many subscribers as WoW has, it is clear most of us manage to put that behind us and try again.

I'm not much of a PvPer anymore; mostly, I raid now. Lately, our guild has been struggling a bit. Lots of players are taking time off until Cataclysm. Some of the replacements just aren't as good as the people they are replacing, or they are having trouble adjusting to the way our guild does fights. A couple of weeks ago, we had the worst raid night I have had since Wrath launched, wiping for about two hours on heroic Lady Deathwhisper -- a fight we usually one-shot -- and as the raid wound down, we actually set the encounter to normal just to get past it so we could clear at least through Saurfang before we called it a night. There was finger-pointing, complaining, grumbling, and general poor morale as the night wore on, and I am ashamed to admit I joined in on some of it. As the night ended and I logged off, I was just glad it was over.

So as I logged on for the next raid, I was already dreading what would become of the continuation of the previous night's antics. However, as a guild, we decided to have fun the rest of the week, bust out some achievements for those who'd missed them, and not worry about slamming our heads against heroics -- just clear the raid and make it a short week. It brought morale back up and turned things into a rewarding and relaxing raid week, and we got back on track. So how do you and your guild or friends recover from bad nights?

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Guest Post: Azshara revamp ushers in new level range, epic stories

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

I would hazard a guess that a vast majority of WoW players have never even been to Azshara. Honestly, since Molten Core is no longer a major raid zone and the Runes of Fire Lords just put themselves out, there really isn't much reason to. Those of us who raided in vanilla made weekly trips there to pick up our Aqual Quintessence, and I was also an herbalist, so I would spend another hour or so out there looking for Dreamfoil because of needing a bag full of mana pots to raid in those pre-potion sickness days.

Clearly, the zone was unfinished. There was one quest hub, if you could call it that, because there were only a very small number of quests there. Blizzard tried to bring people to the unused zone later on by adding in the level 50 class quests that led up to Sunken Temple -- but really, in the process of leveling, you could basically ignore Azshara and move on.

I hated the original Azshara because it was out in the middle of nowhere and fairly poorly designed. It was hard to get to places because of all the rocky cliffs, and passages up and down from the beach to the cliffs were too few and far between. It could even be dangerous at level 60 before The Burning Crusade's stamina inflation; lots of mobs feared and or put debuffs on you, and there were elites wandering around over huge portions of the zone.

Sadly the few fond memories I have of old Azshara are gone, as well. When Azuregos was up in vanilla, the entire zone would become a raiding guild, PvP fight zone as the top Horde and Alliance raiding guilds fought over who could tag him, killing flagged members of the group who got him, hoping to wipe them and inflict them all with the debuff. It could get fun and entertaining -- and one time, it even caused our server to be shut down.

Well, that has all changed come Cataclysm.

Read more →

Filed under: Cataclysm, Guest Posts

Breakfast Topic: Have your guildies inspired you in real life?

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

We all have people in our guilds who are better at WoW than we are. They have amazing reaction times, are great leaders, or put up amazing numbers on the damage or healing meters. But often we know little about the person behind the keyboard. Since my guild is full of mostly adults, we talk a lot about real life in guild chat and on our guild forums. Some of the stuff is merely about TV shows we are watching or books we are reading; seriously, we have a 15-page forum about MMA from all the UFC fans in our guild.

Occasionally, however, truly major life events are discussed, some of which are sad and some are inspiring. We have used the forums to say goodbye to a few members for reasons ranging from personal tragedy, to moving and changing jobs, to simply getting tired of the game.

Some of the stories inspired me to make changes in my own life. One of our guild members talked about his diet and how through exercise and cutting out some fast food, he has lost nearly 60 pounds. This caused me to start watching how much I was snacking during raids and got me back to the gym. Another guild member went back to college for his master's degree, and this led me to look into what it would cost for me to go back and get my culinary degree. Two of our guild members got engaged, and this led me to realize I had better start thinking about ring shopping before my girlfriend gets fed up with me.

Do you ever discuss important real-life events with members of your guild? Have any of their stories made you examine your own life? Have any of their advice or personal insights inspired you to make changes or tough choices in your life?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts