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Encrypted Text: Leveling a new rogue, character creation


Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the rogue class. This week, we talk about leveling a rogue, and why you should choose one for your next alt.

I've heard a lot of statistics from various sources stating that the rogue population has been dwindling since Wrath of the Lich King was released. Whether our decline is due to former assassins deciding to try out the new death knights, or rogues simply moving on to greener pastures, we may never know. I do, however, know that there's also a lot of newly minted rogues, working their way up through the levels and lowbie zones. And if there's not, there should be!

There's a lot of fights that are absolutely amazing for rogues, with Yogg-Saron hard mode (no keeper) and Anub'Arak hard mode being two of the most prevalent and important encounters currently in the game. I have seen guilds beg their inactivate rogues to resubscribe with promises of gold, crafted epics, and endless heroic runs to gear them out. I know of a rogue on my server who went from newly 80 to better geared than myself in about a month with a ton of help from his guild and friends. Many of the world's top guilds are looking for solid rogues to fill the shoes of those who have given up the mantle of shadows in the past year.

We've also got a lot of new rerolls who are working on getting a new class to 80 for Cataclysm's upcoming release. I have been working on a guide for those rogues who are new to the class (and possibly the game) who are looking for tips and tricks for getting the most out of their roguish experience. I would also ask that any veterans or novice rogues alike add their own tips in the comments, if you've got a personal anecdote or bit of info that made your time leveling easier.

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Filed under: Rogue, Leveling, Classes, (Rogue) Encrypted Text

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 71-80


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting druids and those who group with them. This week, we reach 80. It is not the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Hail, druids. This week, we're finishing our leveling guide, and after that we're going to be addressing any subject as long as it has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with leveling. I'll be revisiting this guide as Cataclysm approaches, as we've already been told that spell and ability ranks are going the way of the dodo, which was really the only depressing announcement from BlizzCon as I was in the middle of formatting and linking hundreds of same.

To wrap up the full guide:

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 61-70


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we gain all of the abilities that went live during Burning Crusade and wonder why the hell Lacerate can't be trained earlier than level 66, because the Bear spends 16 levels Mangling things it can't actually put a bleed on. Weird.

Only one more leveling guide after this, and then we'll be heading into an array of new articles I've been planning for a while, and a Druid perspective on tanking issues raised by Matt Rossi's article. I will probably be turning some of this material into just plain Druid posts rather than Shifting Perspectives columns, though, as otherwise it'll take longer than I'd like to get them all posted.

LEVEL 61

In Outland and Northrend, you'll be training new ranks each level as opposed to every other level, so don't forget to hit your trainer promptly with each level-up.
  • Shred, rank 6: standard upgrade.
  • Wrath, rank 9: standard upgrade.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 41-50


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, Mangle, Barkskin, and an enraged pack of mobile woodland things are headed our way. We advise stealthing.

Hail, Druids. This week, we continue the long march through levels 41 to 50. Due to some recent RL events I haven't had much time to get on the 3.2.2 PTR, but when I do, I'll try to see how Druids are shaping up on the revamped Onyxia fight and how much use the new Predatory Instincts is getting.

Without further ado:

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Raid Rx: Raid bosses that brought healers to their knees - Part 3 & 4


Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new WoW blog for all things UI, macro, and addon related. Ever wondered what were the hardest fights to heal in the game? Based solely on my opinion and experience, here's a list counting down from number 5 to number 1, along with everyone's favourite "Honorable Mentions" list to follow!

Before continuing with reading the list, I'd strongly suggest you check out part 1 and part 2. Healers have a unique role they play. Almost none of their time is spent with bosses in their crosshairs or target frames. Us healers are busy making sure everyone is alive so they can kill the boss while the rest of us hold down the fort.

Enough with the preamble. Let's find out what the biggest pain in the ass bosses were from number 5 to number 1 are.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Raiding, Raid Rx (Raid Healing)

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 31-40 and notes on PvP servers


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we reach our 31-point talents and rejoice, for leveling is now...pretty much the same as it was before we got our 31-point talents, but nonetheless, level 40 is a milestone.

In the wake of the announcement concerning the upcoming abolishment of spell and ability ranks, I'm wondering whether it's worth our time to continue noting and linking the presence of new ranks while leveling. For now, I'm going to keep linking them; when Cataclysm hits, it shouldn't be too much trouble to go back and delete them, because I'll be revising the guides anyway to reflect any changes Cataclysm makes to the class. Also -- werewolves. Who saw that coming? Have you seen those racials? Sweet Sister Mary Clarence, those are overpowered. And the transform animation? Well, don't we all feel stupid now for rolling something that barely manages a weak whumph when it shifts. But I'm an optimist at heart, and I firmly believe that Blizzard has something special in mind for us. Maybe a bigger whumph.

On a completely unrelated note that I am going to write here just because I can, I was tanking a VoA-25 PuG earlier this week and we lost our offtank to a disconnect right before Emalon. We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to find another tank...with 7 Death Knights in the raid.

Hero class, my giant furry newly-improved butt.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Leveling 21-30


Every week, Shifting Perspectives examines issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we slog through levels 21-30. Also, werewolves.

Once the news broke on Troll Druids (and, I would guess, Worgen Druids as well, assuming that Blizzard isn't in the middle of a giant hoax), I sat back in my chair and held the following conversation with my subconscious, as I am so often wont to do:

ME: Troll Druids make no sense. Neither do Worgen Druids.

SUBCONSCIOUS: This is not about sense. This is about expanding your readership. Trolls + Worgen = MOAR DURIDS = more people reading Shifting Perspectives.

ME: That's not a valid statistical assertion.

SUBCONSCIOUS: Cool story, bro. Everyone will be rolling a werewolf Worgen when the expansion hits. You know you will be.

ME: (silence)

SUBCONSCIOUS: Werewolves! How badass is that, is all I'm saying.

ME: But the Trolls hate the Elves! They wouldn't be caught dead in Moonglade! And how the hell did the Worgen learn Druidic magic that took thousands of years to develop while some nutcase locked them behind the Greymane wall for 10 some-odd years?

SUBCONSCIOUS: Who cares?

ME (faltering): But...lore...wibba...wubba...

SUBCONSCIOUS: F%@k the lore! Now's the time to make a mad bid for power! Grind the rest of the class columnists under your questionably-itemized i-level 239 boot!

ME: Screw you, I need to go write the column for this week.

SUBCONSCIOUS (shouts after me): WEREWOLVES WEREWOLVES WEREWOLVES!

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

Shifting Perspectives: Getting started and leveling 1-9


Every Tuesday, Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, we begin at the beginning, and we will go on until the end. Then we will stop. Then we will ask ourselves why we are taking advice from 19th century children's literature rather than the books that are relevant to our interests, like Why Buying a House You Have No Idea How To Renovate Is Probably a Bad Idea, or Smoked Salmon and You: A Guide To Not Eating Yourself Into a Coma.

Greetings, Druids. I took the liberty of rolling a few new Druids to test out the improved leveling process, and if possible I'm going to level a brand-new one all the way to 80 to make sure everything in the guide's been personally tested and accurate as of the 3.1/3.2 game world. Today we'll start off with a baby Tauren Druid on the PTR who's now level 9; later I'll be switching between a Night Elf and a Tauren.

Level Feral.

This is the single best thing you can do for yourself, at least for leveling in classic content. As we've previously discussed, the Druid is still hobbled by its initial design as an endgame secondary healer, but you can skip a certain portion of this early weakness by leveling feral. Piggybacking off all of the DPS leather that went into the game to support the billions of people who rolled Rogues is a nice advantage, but the real attraction of leveling Feral lies in the ability to DPS in forms that don't require mana. Being able to save your mana bar for healing and buffing decreases downtime enormously (more so as you gain levels, as our mana efficiency and damage aren't that great early on).

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Filed under: Druid, Features, Leveling, Guides, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

All the World's a Stage: Guild themes


All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one man in his time plays many roles.

Every guild tries to make itself unique in one way or another, and yet much of the time it's hard to tell many guilds apart. Most guilds say something like "we are a group of friends" who "focus on casual play" or "on raiding progression" or something which can make clear its priorities in the game, whether in PvP, PvE, or RP.

Roleplaying guilds have a special opportunity to distinguish themselves with all these elements and then some. In addition to raiding schedules, loot distribution rules, and whatnot, they also have a story -- some idea of where the people in this guild come from, and what binds them together. The story theme that binds them may be something as simple as striving to fight against all evil threats to their homeland, or it could be as involved as running a weekly faire, full of trading, performance, and all manner of festivities.

Most roleplayers seem to just drift into an RP guild based on who they happen to meet in the course of their travels and what sorts of friendships they are able to develop. I worked this way for a long time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and in the end I gave up, feeling increasingly frustrated that I wasn't drifting into guilds that could really meet my needs. Finally I decided to steer my own ship and I realized that the theme of any particular guild could make a big difference as to whether or not I enjoyed being in it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: Out of Character


All the World's a Stage. It really is. All the World of Warcraft is a actually a stage -- and all its orcs and humans merely players, each one with a role to play.

When people hear about roleplayers in WoW for the first time, some get the impression that we take our little game of "let's pretend" way too seriously, that everything we do in the game has to be some sort of mind-blowing expression of our innermost true feelings. But the truth of the matter is that only a portion of what we do in the game involves stories and character -- a lot of what we do and say to other players is not "in character" at all. In fact, our out-of-character (OOC) communication is essential in order to properly enjoy the in-character (IC) elements, and good roleplayers do a lot of cool things to help make both sides complement each other.

Much of what roleplayer does is out of character, and rightly so. Even just pushing buttons in order to activate abilities could be considered "OOC" -- in a way, the only character you can ever totally immerse yourself in is... yourself. Any time you play a role that isn't yourself, there's always some part you which is there in the background, knowing that it's all just a show. You can't really ignore your true self -- you have to let it guide and inform every part of the role you play.

The same is true when roleplaying in WoW. Roleplay is strengthened when you open up and accept OOC communication with others, establish real relationships in addition to those your characters create. Actors in a play have to support each other as real people or their play will fail, and in the same way, the honest communication we open up with our roleplaying friends can sometimes be what defines our roleplaying experience and gives it true meaning.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Guilds, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Shifting Perspectives: Why (or why not) to play a Druid


Every week (sort of), Shifting Perspectives explores issues affecting Druids and those who group with them. This week, in the anticipation of a patch likely to bring many new players into the fold, we descend into the depths of an ancient library in pursuit of Druidic history, lean back in our chair considering the modern form of the class, cast a gimlet eye toward the future, and then wonder how many more clichés we can shove into a sentence before readers start writing angry letters to our editor.

Dear new Druids,

Welcome to the class -- and for some of you, welcome back. I've observed a flood of players rolling premade Druids on the PTR to try out with the new bear and cat forms, and with the promise of new moonkin and tree forms arriving at some point in the future, I think it's reasonable to expect lots of you trying (or rediscovering) the class on the live realms. You are most welcome, and we are glad to have you. This is the best class in the game.

Now, I'll grant I'm prejudiced, because I have loved this class since the first day I started playing. I love it so much that it's difficult for me to remember that there are 5...or 8...or...however many other classes there are. I don't know. I haven't checked lately. I'm told Blizzard added another one, but I can't be expected to keep up with every little thing.

So.

It is possible that we have changed more than any other class between the beginning of the game and July 2009 as I write this. I want you to know what the Druid is all about, why it might be a good choice for you, and why (as much as I find this difficult to write) you may wish to steer clear before we start a series on leveling a Druid.

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Filed under: Druid, Analysis / Opinion, Features, Humor, Lore, Leveling, Classes, (Druid) Shifting Perspectives

The OverAchiever: Attack of the Glory of the Hero


Mr. Daniels: This is punishment, gentlemen, not party time.
Logan: Well, that would explain the absence of balloon animals.
-- Veronica Mars, "The Girl Next Door."

Heresy! A Veronica Mars quote rather than Firefly. Eh, who cares, it's a holiday weekend, so we're wild and crazy. We're continuing our march through Glory of the Hero, and today we're going to tackle the first of Wrath's "halls," the Halls of Lightning. Before we do, here's a round-up of what we've done previously in the OverAchiever: GotH series:
HALLS OF LIGHTNING

Lightning Struck

As long as your tank and healer aren't in greens, this isn't an overly difficult achievement. Bjarngrim and his adds path around a series of 3 platforms and will pause at each, gaining a Temporary Electrical Charge that increases their damage. You simply need to pull Bjarngrim while he still has this buff. During the fight you can force him to lose it by killing his adds, and if you're still gearing up, that's a more reasonable option than trying to survive the damage. The abilities of note here are Mortal Strike, which is a fairly nasty hit in the range of 15-16K, and Whirlwind, which can two-shot melee DPS.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Features, Bosses, Guides, Achievements, The Overachiever

15 Minutes of Fame: The furry fandom


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

If you think "the furry fandom" sounds like a bunch of players who like playing Tauren, you'd be right -- to a tip-of-the-iceberg degree. This week's 15 Minutes of Fame looks at a often maligned, frequently mocked yet little understood hobby and lifestyle: the furry fandom, or furries. Furries (or "furs") are fans of fictional, anthropomorphic animal characters with human personalities and characteristics. Together, these furries form the furry fandom, a community of artists, writers, roleplayers and general fans of the furry art forms who gather on the internet and at conventions. Yes, these are cosplayers in fur suits – but there's a lot more to it, as this week's profile will show.

Now, before we proceed: Yes, there's a segment of the furry community that's into erotic art. While the media have had the proverbial field day with this furry fodder, the sex-focused furs are by no means an especially representative segment of furry fandom. Even if they were, this profile is not headed there. Instead, let's head back to the WoW.com context of the furry fandom: a World of Warcraft player (and frequent WoW.com commenter) who expresses himself emotionally and spiritually through his furry persona.

EDIT: As always, hateful, insulting and trollish posts will get deleted. You don't have to agree, but you can disagree without resorting to personal attacks. Multiple offenders will be banned, k thx ~ The Management

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Features, Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

All the World's a Stage: The core layer


This week's edition of All the World's a Stage concludes a three-part series on the layers of social interaction in roleplaying. Next week we will continue looking at how to roleplay one's professions.

Good friends are stars in the sky of life, and especially as roleplayers, friends are absolutely essential to our hobby – our whole reason for playing WoW involves creative social interactions. Even if you never really know who a roleplaying partner is in real life, just roleplaying with him or her for a few minutes can create a memorable experience.

Previously, we discussed how to roleplay when you first meet someone, as well as what to do once you've gotten to know them a bit more. The key in each case is remembering that roleplaying is a social experience first, and a creative one second – your character must conform to the rules of good socialization before he or she can succeed creatively. Even though at first this seems more limiting, in the end it will be more liberating, because through sociable characters, you can collaboratively create stories and experiences in a way that no other form of storytelling can.

In fact, the closer you become to your group of friends, the more the possibilities bloom. The core concept characterizations you used to use to entertain strangers are still useful, but here they can take on a deeper meaning. You still listen to your friends and adapt your own character to theirs, but now they will listen to you, and adapt their characters to yours. The closer your friendships are, the more your exploration and creativity are truly mutual and cooperative, and the more you can try out new things that you've never done before.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

One Boss Leaves: Anomalus comes up short


Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW.com's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.

For the second week in a row, the victor of Two Bosses Enter ... One Boss Leaves was determined by a margin of fewer than 100 votes. Anomalus fell short of his task of protecting Brann Bronzebeard throughout the Hall of Stone's Tribunal of Ages event, falling to the combined forces of the Tribunal's defenses.

"Anomalus wins this one without a sweat," wrote Saravok for the dissenters. "Anomalus engages the adds while moving around to avoid the mobs. When he opens a rift, his own adds join the fray. Soon enough, having lost about 25% of his HP, he shields himself. The Tribunal adds now fight Anomalus' adds. Anomalus' adds are losing -- but BAM, the AoE evens up the contest, and the fight rages on.

"Anomalus retakes the battle, with the Tribunal kicking it up a few notches to boot. Once again, our elemental hero takes a beating, pops up some rifts and hides in his shield. The multiple rifts now attack the adds, with lots of AoE. The Tribunal adds are quickly slaughtered."

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Filed under: Features, Bosses, Two Bosses Enter

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