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Breakfast Topic: Do you have a set schedule for playing WoW?

I don't do well playing WoW on a free-form basis. During the first half-dozen or so years I spent in Azeroth, I had a schedule to keep. There were raid nights. There were farming and upkeep nights. There were alt nights, and there were PvP nights. And then somewhere along the way, things got more relaxed. That's when I discovered that when I don't have set evenings to settle down with a good session in Azeroth, real life takes over in a major way. Nobody at my house would sweat me for sitting down to play WoW, but there are just so many things that need doing! When I realized what was happening, I put myself back on a WoW schedule based on my husband's raiding schedule in another game, which made a neat fit for the whole family. The routine keeps things rolling.

Do you have a set schedule for playing WoW? Is that built around raid and event schedules, or do you play then because those are the times that work best for your schedule or your family's schedule? Or do you prefer to log in at your whim, morning, noon or night?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Random Acts of Uberness: Good times with good people

Good deeds are all well and good, but good people truly make the world go 'round. If you're recruiting for your guild, you couldn't do better than to find players like these. Good times with good people -- that's taking the random roll out of Random Acts of Uberness.

Caught being uber: Aret, Baelgun (US- Alliance) I'm leveling a Priest alt, Holygears, and I'm in Uldum. The area seems particularly busy perhaps because so many of us are trying to push alts to 90 (we have to use all that yummy Timeless Isle gear, don't we?).

My quest was The Bandit Warlord and required killing Warlord Ihsenn. While I'm flying there, I'm thinking I might have to wait awhile for a respawn because of how busy the area is. As the Warlord shows up on the horizon, I realize he's alive but already tagged. Bummer ... worst timing ever!

Just to help him go down faster, I start hitting the Warlord with Penance, Holy Fire, and a Smite. In the middle of whacking buttons, up pops a group invite. Since the Warlord is going down fast, I quickly accepted, the Warlord died, and I got credit. I typed "Thanks" in party chat and Aret of Baelgun replied with an abbreviated "No problem." Aret managed to invite me and Mesmerizze of Whisperwind before the Warlord died so we could all three get credit.

It's not a huge deal, but it turned a potential "sit and wait" depressing scenario into a "keep on going" moment. Thanks, Aret. -- Holygears, Alexstrasza (US-Alliance)

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Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: Actor Jake Stormoen lives the fantasy life on set and in Azeroth

Photo: Arrowstorm Entertainment
I actually made myself practice saying the first name of actor Jake Stormoen before our recent phone interview: "Jayyyyyyyke," I intoned over and over, trying to banish the memory of the chewy Irish "Jehk" I'd heard so many times in tale after tale of Azerothian camaraderie from long-time gaming buddy Kristian Nairn ("Hodor" in HBO's Game of Thrones). It's impossible to get very far talking with either actor without running into a reference to the other; the two have formed one of those crazy gaming bonds that -- well, you know how it is with a bromance forged in the ice and fire of Azeroth.

I caught up with the smaller half of the inseparable WoW-playing duo by phone during a break from the frigid set of multi-part fantasy epic Mythica, now filming on location in Utah in temperatures as low as 10 below zero. Young actor with a cool fantasy role? This guy's most definitely got it going on. We explored WoW friendships, mused over the pressures of tanking, laughed about blowing off steam in Azeroth after a long day on the set -- oh, and paused the whole interview mid-stream to deadpan and snort our way through a phone call from the Hodor-sized half of the Nairn/Stormoen duo.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Breakfast Topic: What MMO lingo grates on your last nerve?

Please don't tell me about your "toon." That word drives me to utter distraction. I despair at the idea of players callously shoving their characters out into the boss encounter like so many chess pieces. That's your dude we're talking about! Your avatar, the thing that represents you-ness and all your innovative, adventuresome, heroic purpose! I want to think I'm surrounded by players who are invested in the characters they're playing, rather than simply hopping into them for a quick joyride through LFR before screeching into a parking space and hopping into a new one.

"Toon" doesn't carry the same connotations for plenty of other players, and they couldn't care less about the term. Why should they, when there are so many other pet peeves to fret over -- like players who type "PST whisper" or "PST me." PST is an acronym for "please send tell"; it's not meant, as some players mistakenly believe, to represent the more onomatopoeiaic "psst" sound. There's no need to add anything else after saying PST. In fact, you shouldn't allow your "toon" to "PST anybody," ever. Ouch.

Is there a snippet of MMO lingo that grates on your last nerve? What about it drives you batty?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

15 Minutes of Fame: Flower power pollinates leveling for true neutral pandaren

Crazy metagaming projects are among my favorite topics here at 15 Minutes of Fame. It's impossible not to catch the excitement of someone who's figured out a new way to spin Azeroth. Take for instance the curious case of Doubleagent , the "neutral" pandaren who's managed to make it to level 80 and still climbing without ever leaving the pandaren starting zone. In his case, staying put also means never having chosen a faction; Doubleagent is neither Horde nor Alliance but instead remains a neutral party. And the method to his madness? Flowers. Lots and lots of herbalism and flowers.

Ticking through level 83 when this article was posted, Doubleagent continues to drift through the gentle fields leading to level 90 and beyond -- because oh yes, this is one player who plans to take his leveling project all the way to the top in the coming expansion as well.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Drama Mamas: Where a kid can be a kid

Those crazy kids ... We sure hear a lot of frustrated cries for them to get off our Azerothian lawns. The usual scenario: The son or daughter of a relative or friend takes up playing the game. She's a great kid and all, and you're happy to make the occasional dungeon run with her -- it's just that every one of those evenings ends up as an exercise in frustration.

She's late to meeting spots. She goes AFK in the middle of dungeon run. And she pesters you endlessly whenever you're in a raid: "Are you done yet? What are you killing now? Why did you wipe? Are you going to try again? Is everybody mad? Are you done yet?"

Is there a way to keep sharing the occasional fun session with this young player without opening yourself up to a barrage of inconveniences? How can you handle this sticky situation without alienating your relative or friend?

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Filed under: Drama Mamas

15 Minutes of Fame: Converting all of Azeroth to raid by the thousands

You know the new guild on the scene is making a impact on the community when other players offer it up as a solution to other players' woes. Take a look at this excerpt from the comments of a recent Drama Mamas column, wherein a player was unhappy with the way her new raid guild membership was unfolding:

janet.houck I think you need to leave your current team, do some research to find a good match, and move. Aerie Peak has the CTR uber guild, and we're sitting at over 90 raid teams. You can always find a team for you. If you can't, you can build it.

MarshallGlenn @janet.houck wth is CTR uber guild?

janet.houck @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck Convert to Raid, the podcast, has a greenwall'ed guild on Aerie Peak-US A. I think there's 8 sub-guilds at the moment. We tend to attract an older and more serious crowd, so for a 45-year old player, it might be a nice place to check out. :)

TaxmanCDN @janet.houck @MarshallGlenn All of my toons are in the CTR guild. Best guild I've ever been in. I'm on two raid teams, and on my off-nights if I feel like doing a flex there's always someone looking. Great community there, and I've found it to be a better class of raiders (in general) than on other realms.

Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houckConvert To Raid is a popular WoW podcast. They have a series of raiding guilds on Aerie Peak, because there's a cap to the number of people you can have in a guild. I was also under the impression that there were 'steps', like the more casual guild splinter vs the hardcore one to make it easier to find your niche but I'm not entirely sure about that. There are a few other mega/meta-guilds similar to this around, too.

MarshallGlenn @Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck ahhh very cool. Edit

bluefer I had something like this problem and I transferred my toons to Aerie Peak and joined CTR. I suggest you roll an alt on Aerie Peak. AT L15 you can join CTR mega guild and find a ton of teams to choose from with good people and lots of raiders who treat each other pretty well. Best of luck.

While Bluefer sent our letter-writer off with a "best of luck," we don't suspect the Convert to Raid success story has anything to do with luck. We suspect it has everything to do with Pat Krane.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: Around the world with a friendly troll

Why stop at one world boss when you can knock out a whole handful of them? It's easy with a little help from a fellow Hordie. No transportation? No problem!

Caught being uber: Kaza, Zul'jin (US-Horde) Why hello there! I'm Evianary, a level 84 Undead Mage, that's currently on Zul'jin. While on my mage the other day I found a World Boss group and thought why not do it on my mage to try and get prepared for level 90? Unfortunately, I cannot fly in Pandaria, and there were no Warlocks in my group!

I was in quite the pickle, till Kaza, an awesome troll hunter also from Zul'jin. She, or he, flew me to all the various bosses including Sha, Galleon, Oondasta, and Nalak! I even got some shiny epics that are currently waiting for me. I'd just like to really thank her/him for helping a fellow Hordie out! -- Evianary, Zul'jin (US-Horde)

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Filed under: News items

Well Fed Buff: Love is in the Air Heart Candy

That bell-like sound? That sweet scent wafting through the air? Ah, that's love. Love is in the Air means it's time to slip that special someone a strategic Heart Candy. It's the thought the counts; nobody can deny that Heart Candies are probably not the tastiest treats in Azeroth. Good thing nobody actually eats them! (You don't, do you?!)

You can pop as many as you like in real life if you whip up a batch here on Earth instead of in Azeroth. Like love itself, the recipe for Love is in the Air Heart Candy is simple yet demanding; you'll knead your heart out for this one. We've also got two tastier and quite romantic treats to share with you today: the delectable Dark Desire and those irresistible Tauren Toenails. Mmmm, chocolate!

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Filed under: Arts and Crafts

15 Minutes of Fame: Japanese players build their own community in World of Warcraft

What does World of Warcraft sound like from an entirely different cultural perspective? Jump to about 8:30 in the above video and listen to the last moments of this heroic boss kill -- the point at which terse expletives usually bristle from from even the most disciplined, well-oiled raiders, the whole thing followed by a deafening avalanche of shouts and cheers when the boss finally falls. Contrast those expectations with the understated pleasure here of CAVAG, a guild of Japanese players on Proudmoore (US-Horde), and you'll gain a sense of just one of the more outward cultural differences between this group and the typical American raiding guild.

Welcome to the world of #wowjp, a network of Japanese WoW players who've learned English primarily through playing the game. You can find localized versions of World of Warcraft in Korea, mainland China and Taiwan, but Japanese players are left to their own devices -- no dedicated servers, no language localization. To solve those challenges, Japanese players have banded together to create their own Japanese game guides, share addons and tips for typing in Japanese within the game, and form a network of Japanese-language guilds across several North American realms.

Bringing us this interview with two Japanese WoW players is the Sha of Happiness, herself a native Japanese speaker and a member of the #wowjp community. But before we begin, a simple and heartfelt message from the Japanese players:

The wowjp community wished to tell the readers/Blizzard: "Thank you for providing the Hippogryph Hatchling for the tsunami relief efforts. Thank you for all of your donations."

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame