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Random Acts of Uberness: Defender of Hellfire Peninsula

Nobody ever protected me from the Fel Reaver when I was a mere young'un in Hellfire Peninsula ... /sniff

Caught being uber: Fireßugz, Ravencrest (US-Alliance) I'd like to send a shout-out to Fireßugz, level 85 dwarf shaman on Ravencrest-US(Alliance). There I was, minding my own business killing Crust Bursters in Hellfire Peninsula ... when the notorious horror of Hellfire appeared overhead! It was a Fel Reaver, of course, and despite popping a health potion and Darkflight, things looked grim ... until suddenly the Fel Reaver turned aside from me, distracted by a flame shock!

Fireßugz descended from the heavens, destroyed the Fel Reaver, and went on his way. I don't know what he was doing in Hellfire Peninsula, or what inspired him to stop to kill it, but it's truly appreciated. -- Carnassial, Ravencrest-US (Alliance)

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Filed under: News items

Drama Mamas: Guild friends without benefits

In an era when it's so easy to open a group or raid to a casual acquaintance, what value does guild membership still hold? Are individual contributors vital to building your guild's strength? Can your ship carry the weight of barnacles that don't contribute?

I'm the leader of a small casual guild. We do a lot of achievement, transmog, and mount runs, and just old stuff for fun. The only current tier raiding we do is Flex mode. Everyone enjoys it and we do fairly well. Awhile back I read a post on our server forum from someone looking for a Flex group since his guild doesn't do too much of anything. He didn't want to leave his current guild, which was fine with us. He sounded like a cool guy so I invited him to our Flex group. He's been doing well and is a great group member. The issue is this:

This guy we picked up on our server forums (and his guildmate friend which also joins us. Both are good group members) has integrated himself to our guild, and Vent server, and a couple of times he was the 8th person in a group for an old raid which we're still lacking in guild achievements. I guess my question is this: Am I wrong for having a problem with these 2 joining our guild runs when they're not guilded? I personally would leave my guild if I had to look elsewhere for the things I enjoy, but that's just me. They have a loyalty to their guild leader for reasons unknown, which is fine, but are we being used here? Am I wrong if I ask these two to either join the guild or work on recruiting for theirs (in a diplomatic way of course!) Guild achievements are a big reason for my issue with these two. Not to mention the communication barrier with people not in our guild chat when someone blurts something out.

Opinions? Am I being a total jerk and should just live and let live? LOL Or should I tell this guy to join us or go away? Thanks for any help you can give, and Happy New Year!

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Filed under: Drama Mamas

​Breakfast Topic: Are you a gatherer?

It's no secret to anyone I play with regularly that I'm a gatherer. I find gathering soothing enough that I actually enjoy play sessions focused solely on leveling up a gathering skill. One of my all-time favorite memories of WoW are my long, rambling flights around Zangarmarsh to gather herbs while shooting the breeze in guildchat on non-raid nights. I'm sure I've rhapsodized about it in past Breakfast Topics, even. Beautiful zone, peaceful activity, good company.

Herbalism, mining -- heck, even mindless slaughter for leather or cloth: Let's talk about your love (or disdain) for gathering. Do you enjoy gathering, or does it represent the kind of mindless drudgery you avoid at all costs? Do you gather purely to feed your professions? Do you gather only during the leveling process in order to gain more XP? Is gathering a money-maker for you? Do you sell it all?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Have you played through every last leveling zone?

While I don't believe that any of my characters have actually completed The Explorer or achievement, all of my older girls are intimately familiar with the original zones of Azeroth. I've quested through and explored them for both XP and pleasure, and what I didn't cover with my first round of characters became new ground for subsequent alts.

But when Cataclysm turned so many of leveling zones on their heads, I completely lost track of many of them. Which had I done the new versions of? Which had I begun but moved on from before finishing to keep up with the crazy-fast new XP curve? Which had I given up on after finding the changes not to my taste? Needless to say, I think there are quite a few revamped zones at this point I've never done or finished. One of these days ...

Are you an Insane player or an Explorer? Have you played through every last leveling zone in the game, or is doing so on your bucket list?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Growing Up in WoW: One-third of a lifetime shared with Azeroth

A few months ago, I received an email from the kind of player who sets off all sorts of bells and whistles for a feature writer like me -- a WoW fan who's integrated the game into a balanced, engaged, lively lifestyle. If you've ever found yourself shaking your fist and snarling at teenaged players as a group -- Get off my lawn! -- then you've probably never met a young player who's got his stuff together quite so well as Zukkai of Area 52 (US).

I'm 18, I'm a raid leader for one of the 10man teams in our guild, and I've been playing since I was 12. In December, I can claim that I've played WoW for a third of my life. Along the way I've been in school full time, and will be attending university in the fall. When I first started playing, my parents regulated my play time. Once I started controlling my play time, I had to learn about my own time management and how to balance WoW with RL priorities. I've also learned how to deal with the social stigmas of playing WoW through high school, including how to explain to your friends that you might not be able to go somewhere because you have to raid.

I've managed to grow up right along side the game, and I think playing it for so long has taught me a couple of valuable lessons along the way. I've had stretches where I'd be playing 4-5 hours a day and I've had stretches where I've toyed with quitting, but I've kept going for 6 years. I've never had massive amounts of time to play, but I've managed to put together my Insane title and collect a large sum of pets and mounts, as well as raid at the heroic level.

Fixated on gaming? Hiding away from life? Not in the least. Our conversation with Zukkai reveals a player for whom World of Warcraft is just another pastime -- albeit one that's filled a full one-third of his lifetime. Moving in and out of WoW with the rest of life's rhythms is as natural as breathing, as Zukkai demonstrates in this look at life for one of the many players today who are growing up in Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: Recruit-a-gear

The author of this week's first Random Acts of Uberness letter reports hearing rumblings in trade chat as he was busily receiving Recruit-A-Friend levels. What happens when you attract the attention of townies when you're insta-leveling in public?

Caught being uber: Axtin, Stormreaver (US-Alliance) I was in Stormwind receiving free levels from 23 to 85 from the RAF benefit. Some people were commenting about it, and when I hit 85, I mentioned that I needed to get some gear, now. I was just going to go to the adventuring supplies vendor and buy everything I needed, when Axtin told me to hold on.

He came back a few minutes later and gave me a complete set of plate gear, rings, and weapon for my newly minted 85 warrior. I tried to pay him for it, but he refused. By far one of the coolest experiences I've had. Saved me a huge amount of gold buying all the vendor gear. -- Eriine, Stormreaver (US-Alliance)

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Filed under: News items

Do you crank up leveling difficulty via self-imposed limitations?

The heirloom-armored approach that works for your BG-loving friend while she levels may make no sense to you if you prefer to amble through Azeroth at your own quixotic pace -- we get that. While many players love the heirloom slingshot effect, others wouldn't be caught dead equipping an XP boost. Whether they draw the line at a certain number of heirlooms or none at all, their rules are firm. Most frequently, these laws are predicated on slowing down the leveling process or making fights and gaining levels more challenging overall.

Eschewing heirlooms, in fact, is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to self-imposed constraints on leveling. Noor the Pacifist was one of the first players to gain widespread attention for leveling up in a quirky fashion; he managed it entirely without personally killing creatures or other players. Then there's neutral pandaren Doubleagent, who recently reached level 80 without ever having left the pandaren starting island (and he's still going). There are players who've leveled without training any talents. And incredibly, there's a whole host of players who've embarked upon what's known as the Ironman Challenge, leveling to 90 with no gear, no talents, no grouping or professions and the reality of considering any death a "perma-death." Ouch.

If you too enjoy setting self-imposed restrictions to spice up your leveling experience, what's your poison? What makes the added twist so enjoyable for you?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: The best WoW ability for the real-world task

I was joking around with a friend on Facebook the other day when he admitted he wished on a fairly regular basis that he could use Leap of Faith on his kids. (I suspect that dealing with two rambunctious boys at those particular moments might feel more like Death Grip, but that's another story.) "I want a button that makes the Psychic Scream noise that I can mount on my dashboard to slam during traffic jams," I replied. Thus began a whole riff on WoW spells and abilities we wished we could pop off in real life.

"Ya know, I think you have a WoW Insider article there," he observed. "How would WoW talents affect us in real life and what would be the consequences?" So Aron, this Breakfast Topic is for you -- but better, because I'm going to throw in a few specific scenarios to the mix.

Readers, what WoW ability or short combo do you most wish you could deploy in these real-world scenarios?
  • Commuting and traffic jams
  • At the office
  • Dealing with the kids (for parents)
  • Dealing with the parents (for non-parents)
  • Romance

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The fascinating personalities of World of Warcraft

The annual "Where are they now?" roundups for 15 Minutes of Fame are a high point of my year as a feature writer. It's rare to get a built-in opportunity to re-open the conversation with someone I've interviewed, and it's always intriguing to learn where these passionate, involved players and people are headed today. Not everyone's answers make print, of course; the pool of past subjects after six years is much larger than we could reasonably follow, and not everyone is still doing something related to WoW. So far, limiting coverage to those who reply to an email inquiry seems to keep things to a manageable roar.

The downside of compiling a yearly update is all the time I lose wandering down the side streets of Memory Lane. This year, I finally realized that if revisiting all those articles was so interesting to me, it probably would be to you too. So today, I'm curating some of my favorite 15 Minutes of Fame interviews for your perusal. There are many more I couldn't include due to space constraints, but you'll discover a little something for everyone here. As we push off from the shore of a new year, I think you'll find the creativity and passion with which they weave the World of Warcraft into their lives to be positively energizing and inspiring.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Breakfast Topic: The villain you love to hate vs. the villain you hate to love

Arthas Menethil. Illidan Stormrage. Magatha Grimtotem. Kael'thas Sunstrider. And Fandral Staghelm, for that matter ... Which villainous WoW figures do you simply love to hate? Who's kept you holding your breath to find out what shocker would tumble forth from the next patch or expansion? Who in Azeroth makes you burn with exquisite, passionate hatred? (And have you killed them yet to exact your revenge?)

On the other hand, it's almost as entertaining to discover ourselves wooed by a villain against our will. Who do you begrudging find yourself admiring, despite everything their little black hearts stand for? Have you forgiven any of WoW's villains their perfidies? Is there a villain whose choices drive you mad (and you know exactly who I mean, don't you?) yet still leave you hungry for more?

Let's talk vile villains and dastardly deeds. Who do you love to hate? And who do you hate to love?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics