Following the Path to an Unborn Val’kyr

bearunborn

The summer season is fully upon us, so while the entire pet-hunting population of cross-folded servers descends like locusts upon Silithis in search of their Qiraji Guardling, I decided to take advantage of this vacuum in the seeker continuum and hunt for an Unborn Val’kyr.

Much is made of MMO Champion, WoW Insider and various bloggers concerning their helpfulness.

To me, the true heroes on the front lines of information warfare are the commentators on Wowhead.

MMO Champion tells us what is coming and dutifully keeps us informed as to the latest gossip, but when I want to know the facts, I go to Wowhead. There, I am sure to find someone that has worked their ass off to anticipate questions, gather information and post the latest facts and info at the nitty-gritty level.

The hunt for the Unborn Val’kyr is no exception.

Visiting Wowhead revealed current and updated comments by Nalain, Ozlem and Alisonder giving plenty of information, everything I needed to know.

Now, here’s the only reason I post any of this instead of assuming the links to Wowhead are enough for you. I wasted a lot of time figuring things out myself, because I’ve never used TomTom before, and I wanted it to do things it ain’t designed to.

The key points I learned from Wowhead were that the Unborn Val’kyr can spawn in any zone in Northrend, and each zone has three potential spawn points.

This tells me that, to seek the Unborn Val’kyr, I will want a route to follow that spans the entire continent.

Normally, when farming Ore or Herbs, I use the Routes addon in conjunction with Gathermate 2. Routes takes provided x,y data points and crunches the numbers to provide a least-time graphical route displayed on minimap and main map for you to follow to hit them all.

The problem? Routes crunches numbers for data points within only one zone, it doesn’t have a setting to let you provide points for a route spanning multiple zones. The reason is clear, it takes a lot of processor power to compute least-time intercepts for a zone with over a thousand potential mining nodes, and if someone were careless enough to try and run such a process for all the mining nodes of, say, Eastern Kingdoms… well, computer say bye-bye for a while and take a nap.

I believe that it is potentially possible to input data points into Routes using the Handynotes addon, and then manually configure a single-zone map route to also include points outside one zone. I spent over an hour testing this hypothesis, because why the hell not. Um, fail.

After wasting some time, I asked myself anew what my objective was, reminded myself that I didn’t need to have a route hold my damn hand to find a single pet, and dropped the project. Maybe it can be done, but I wasn’t willing to invest the time needed to figure it out. There was mindless farming to be done!

So, TomTom.

It takes provided data points, and puts them up on your screen and map as waypoints, along with a ‘crazy taxi’ style arrow to lead the way.

I’ve never used it before.

After installing it, I took the list of coordinates provided by Alisander, popped it into Notepad to strip any hidden HTML tags, and copy/pasted it all into multiple macros. I didn’t know why I needed permanent macros, until I saw that there wasn’t a way to just type in coords directly into a TomTom text window. You use line commands, so each individual line command adds a single active waypoint into TomTom.

An active waypoint. Not a stored waypoint you can refresh anytime you like. You add a waypoint, and once you reach it, it’s gone. Because, hell, you reached it, so why the hell would you want to keep it?

That’s the point of the macros. To store your waypoints and keep them handy to refresh TomTom once you’ve hit them all and cleared them on one pass.

I still didn’t really get it. I had to try it in the game before I understood, waypoints are markers drawn on a whiteboard, with the eraser riding hard on your ass.

I put in my macros, 5 of them, to cover all the potential spawnpoints in Northrend.

I tried to input the coordinates in a specific order, sorted so that the waypoints went in the order I wanted to follow on the map. My own redneck route.

It took me a while to figure this out. TomTom does not work like that. But I thought it did, which is why I laid my coordinate list out in the pattern that I did.

I sorted the coordinates as follows into 5 macros to create a route of links in the sequence I hoped to follow;

/way Dragonblight 64.4, 43.7
/way Dragonblight 82, 66
/way Grizzly Hills 26, 57
/way Howling Fjord 45, 43
/way Howling Fjord 68.10, 67.63
/way Howling Fjord 71.91, 43.39

/way Grizzly Hills 79.60, 50.79
/way Grizzly Hills 61, 18
/way Zul’Drak 75, 22
/way Zul’Drak 57.0, 39.8
/way Zul’Drak 24.3, 63.7
/way Crystalsong Forest 67.8, 49.5

/way Crystalsong Forest 18.6,57.0
/way Crystalsong Forest 43.3, 44.0
/way Storm Peaks 42.5, 78.5
/way Storm Peaks 65, 41
/way Storm Peaks 29.0, 50.0
/way Icecrown 73.8, 64.5

/way Icecrown 47.9, 86.6
/way Icecrown 43, 33
/way Sholazar Basin 58.5, 22.0
/way Sholazar Basin 36.8, 19.4
/way Sholazar Basin 44.47, 69.59
/way Borean Tundra 48, 8

/way Borean Tundra 32.7, 60.1
/way Borean Tundra 80, 48
/way Dragonblight 26.9, 54.1

I organized it to sync with this excellent map that Myzou provided, as follows;

Myzou_map_modified

I printed out a rough black and white copy of the map, and figured that the start point I’d circled, having been the first of the waypoints I uploaded with my macro, would obviously be the first point that the addon would direct me to.

Lols. Um, no. TomTom does NOT follow some kind of pattern. It’s all about proximity.

TomTom sends you to the nearest waypoint, or one you specify, and even then by default only on waypoints within your current zone. It does NOT create a sequential route. Ever.

So. Ah well. This is both good and bad.

The good part is, when you fly over a waypoint, that point vanishes from your list. You only see the points you have yet to visit.

Also, you can use your macros to refresh/reload your waypoints whenever you want. Any waypoints you load that are already active are ignored, they don’t stack up, cluttering up your list.

So, all I needed to do was change the default setting to allow the closest waypoints outside of my current zone would be used too.

TomTomsettings

With this all set up, a map printed and the macros for the TomTom waypoints, the easiest way to use them seemed to be to follow the waypoints as long as they pointed to the next point on the printed map I wanted to go, and when they didn’t point that way on their own, I would head off in the direction I knew was correct myself, and once I got close enough use a macro of “/cway” to reset the arrow to the new closest waypoint. Generally, I had to use that most often in Howling Fjord and Storm Peaks, and of course in Crystalsong Forest when the path I wanted to follow doubled up on itself.

As the waypoints were reached, they’d drop off the list and no longer interfere with ‘closest waypoint’ indicators.

If I logged off, got into a LFR, or otherwise went off to do something, I could come back anytime and hit all 5 macros to refresh the route and pick it up from wherever I wanted.

If it weren’t for the people who work so hard to gather this information and post it on Wowhead, there is no way I’d have had a chance to get the pet. It’s that simple. I’d know it was in Northrend somewhere, because MMO Champion told me so, but I would have had no idea where to go or what to do to be able to seek it out, and beyond all of that, Cladhaire, the author/programmer of the TomTom addon is the one that makes such a waypoint system possible. Without that, the best bet for me would have been to just camp one spawn point for the next week and hope for the best.

Now, I don’t use SilverDragon or NPCScan to tell me when I have found a rare, but a lot of people love them for the alerts so you know there is a pet around to search for. Me, I don’t spend near enough time hunting rares to make it worthwhile to clear the cache constantly. Also, players who keep their pets out to spoof your tracker give me heart failure. They are cool, so don’t overlook them if you want that extra edge, but I didn’t use one and I did all right.

After I got everything set up based on the info from the fine folks at Wowhead, it took me about 3 hours of flying around to have an Unborn Val’kyr appear. It was a poor, but that is fine by me since I can buy a Polished Battlestone for 1000 Justice Points to bring it up to uncommon, and trust that I’ll find an Undead Battlestone somewhere along the line.

Good luck to all of you in your hunt for one, grats to all those who already have one, and a heartfelt thank you to Nalain, Ozlem, Alisonder, Cladhaire and everyone else who did so much hard work to gather the information and publish it to allow me to follow along their hard-won path to find my own.

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What Community Means To Me

I started this blog in a much sillier time, when the world was young, and I’ll admit, when it comes to this crap I’m an innocent. Writing some fun stuff and gushing about a game to a few friends isn’t exactly supposed to draw attention. This is the real world, and what I do used to be called ‘being a geek’. Anyone could play, all it took was the desire to write copious amounts of drivel about something you love in a place where they can’t taze you. It helped to be a little monomaniacal, too.

I know a lot has changed over the years. I’m not a complete idiot. There is money to be made, and the progression is clear-cut. Be outrageous, generate a lot of content, gain a following, produce merchandise, post ads, build the ‘brand’ of the fake identity you craft to appeal to a demographic and grow into other media markets through networking.

Nothing presents a clearer picture of the business side of selling yourself as a product quite as well as the recent Strip Search reality series/contest by Penny Arcade.

It wasn’t like that when I started, and when I think of the people who I follow within ‘the community’, the ‘build a brand and say crazy shit to get attention’ crowd aren’t the people that come to mind.

“The Community”. Dun dun dun.

The community, to me, are all of the people who love this or any other video game so much that we can’t help but be inspired by gaming, by the worlds, the stories, our characters and what we see and do with our friends, and take that inspiration and blast it out there to share it because if we didn’t we’d explode.

It’s that honest enthusiasm, that irrepressible joy in living in the game with our friends, moment by moment.

The rage we have to vent somewhere about desperately wanting that one drop, and seeing the fickle favors of RNG smile, flip us the bird, and call “Yoinks!” once again.

The delight at the new pets that will be coming to the game, and our frenzied desire to have a cute little dinosaur hatchling as our very own pet. To take pictures of our pets, and show them to our friends just as if they were our real kids, KNOWING that our friends are right there looking at those pictures, and being happy for us, buying into the whole thing because that’s where our heads are at.

The emotional attachment we have to our characters, the world, our place within it, all that can drive someone to write a magical piece of true storytelling that comes from the heart.

That is the community to me. It’s defined by what we are; people who love video games so much, people who are so emotionally engaged that far from being ashamed of it, we shout it from the heavens and share it with our friends and roll around in laughter, feeling that warmth that comes from knowing we’re not alone.

We’re all caught up in the same craziness. It’s what we share.

When I read a webcomic by Rades and Vidyala, I feel that bond, I feel that love for and immersion within World of Warcraft shine through.

When I listen to the Group Quest podcast, I can hear the faint traces of obsession in the hosting tones of Hasteur, and the genuine spark of madboy craazy in the voice of DeGei when he starts talking about Garrosh and Thrall and lore. I always expect Gulvan to have a Tranq Shot sound file at the ready when those times roll along.

Or when I follow along in the travels of Skolnick, as he takes the path of the Warcraft Less Traveled. Now that is some seriously awesome shit right there, and you don’t just decide to make that your gimmick. You’ve got to have a massive love for exploring the game as a voyager to do that.

I recognize the spark of community the strongest whenever I read the “Know Your Lore” segments on WoW Insider by Anne Stickney and Matt Rossi, and then read the comments. Oh lord, the comments. Especially to tinfoil hat editions.

That is the community to me, right there. Loving it, rolling around in it, wanting more, wanting to talk about anything and everything and speculate and tie it all together and wonder aloud, “What if… what then?”

So long as that spark is alive, so long as the enthusiasm burns, there will be a community. My idea of a community, anyway. And I’ll be happy to be a part of it, even if all I do is read the awesome things everyone else has burning within them that they want to share. I don’t have to write to be a part of it. All I have to do is read, and listen, and know I belong.

Godmother, Rades, Vid, Hasteur and DeGei and Gulvan, Skolnick, Anne and Matt and yes, so many others, too many to ever give a proper shout out to except to say, yo, blogroll, right side, read it, love it, live it.

Thank you all, you and everyone else that continues to share your crazy with me, and let me know I may be insane, but at least I’m not alone.

God bless you all. We are the new normal, because I said so.

It’s Not Looking For Friends

I’ve been feeling a trend. Not among the game, no.

Among a part of the community.

I was listening to last weeks Convert to Raid podcast when it hit me the hardest.

Preach was a guest on show #99, he has a Youtube channel where he posts vids about the game. He was there mostly to talk about a recent vid he’d done about game accessibility and community apathy. As an experiment, he took a level 90 bank alt, geared up through heroics and LFR, with a twist.

The twist?

He intentionally did zero dps, and as a capper,he stood in the fire. All of the fire.

The point?

Supposedly to see how a brand new player would see the game, what the game was designed to teach them to improve their performance, and also to see how the community would welcome such a player.

The hosts were gushing all over Preach, and all I could think was, “This whole thing reeks of bullshit.”

Preach made some points about how horrible it is that he would make a level 1 alt, and he would immediately get invited to a guild, such guilds wanting nothing more than to take advantage of new players who don’t know that guilds want low level players for no other reason than to have levelers feed their coppers into the guild coffers.

Another point made was that, as a level 90, by using every trick currently in the game for gear boosting and factions, he was able to get from 90 and no gear to having completed Throne of Thunder on LFR and killed Lei Shen after just a day. To paraphrase his point, “I saw everything the game had to offer in just one day at the level cap. Why bother joining a guild or trying to do normals? If you describe a normal raid, it sounds too much like work.”

Hey, so you’re a player who knows nothing about the game or how to play, but you’re also a player that knows every trick to gearing up and getting to the next LFR gear threshold fastest? Fucking bullshit.

And the final point… he was doing zero DPS, and standing in every horrible thing to be an active pain in the ass and make healers suffer, and nobody ever, ever said anything to him about it. Nobody offered any suggestions on how to be better, nobody raged at him, everyone ignored him completely… even in heroics. And that means the community fails.

My opinion is, this was nothing more than a way to get attention and buzz and get people talking about him, so I guess congratulations, because here we are.

The underlying assumptions are just bullshit.

His conceit requires we assume a player who has reached level 90 with no idea how to play a character at all, no idea that standing in things is bad, no guilds, no friends, nothing but a single player game of WoW, isolated and alone.

And then this player, having reached level 90, now for the first time asks in trade chat “How should I prepare for raids” and then follows the only advice he is given, to “Gear through heroics, then do LFR.”

Underlying assumptions. If we start with them weighted heavily enough, I guess we really CAN prove whatever the hell we want.

You know what I did?

I decided to test the first underlying assumption. That the community is full of apathy and nobody will help anyone, and those level 1 guild invites are evil.

I made a level 1 alt on a different realm, chose a name at random that was vaguely fantasy-ish, and started playing. No heirlooms.

Within 10 minutes, I had a guild invite and accompanying whisper.

I accepted the invite, and was greeted in a friendly way by several people.

I said, “Hi! Thank you. I’m really new to the game, um, can anyone tell me where I can find something to tell me what these buttons do?”

Guess what?

Holy crap, did I get a lot of help.

It turns out, people seem to know an awful lot about this game, and shocker! They are not only willing to share that knowledge, but they seemed very happy to be able to give advice to someone that didn’t already know it all.

I got suggestions of visiting Wowhead.com to be able to see what my specific abilities do, a suggestion to visit Tarou on Youtube to see many guides to current content, a warning that most of the videos were guides to help make gold in-game but lots of other stuff too, suggestions of MMO-Champion for the latest news, and one person took the time to take me step by step through my Spellbook and teach me how to see what I have, what specs and Talents are, how to move them onto my bar and move them around, and finally, a suggestion that I pay attention to the level 3 quest I will get that has me test an ability on a training dummy, and how I should remember that because when I get new abilities, I can put them on my bar, go to one of those training dummies in any city, and try them out.

I was also introduced to addons, DPS meters, and where to go, the Curse website, to find them.

So, an anomaly, right? I just happened to find the one guild that invites brand new players that is helpful, normally they are all evil and such. It was a fluke.

Maybe it was because I made a Draenei Hunter, and everyone loves more Hunters. Or knows they need all the help they can get.

Maybe there is a Hunter Outreach Program, people who watch for new Hunter players, and intercept them to stop the noobs.

Stop the noob. Almost sounds like a public service announcement, right?

So I went to a completely different server, and this time I made a Night Elf Warrior.

Within 15 minutes of normal playing, I got another invite to a guild.

This time, I didn’t take it. I was noobish right from the beginning, asking what the invite was for, what a guild was, etc.

They were patient, talked to me for a bit, assured me they were helpful to new players that were leveling, and I accepted the invite.

Same thing. Bunch of people, this time over 25 people online in the guild, many of whom said hi to me and ‘Welcome!’.

I said hi and admitted to being brand new, asked for help/advice, and was again drowned in a deluge of link suggestions, Youtube guides, and websites.

Amusingly enough, one of the suggestions was I should visit Preach Gaming to see his guides on how to play your class at max levels for a good idea of not just abilities, but their use in the game, addons and UIs.

So, what do I get from all this?

I get that if I were indeed that level 1 brand new player, and I did get that guild invite, and I didn’t have a preconceived impression of such guilds as selfish or evil and discarded them out of hand, if I actually gave them a chance because I wasn’t trying to build a completely bullshit point by ignoring inconvenient facts, then maybe I might get some interesting suggestions on how to learn more about playing the game. By talking to new guildies and interacting with the guild, its even possible I might make some casual acquaintances that would like to run stuff WITH me.

They might even grow to become friends, and allow me to enjoy some of what an MMO can be.

So what about the other end? What about helping people in LFR who aren’t doing as well as others, the lack of outreach, community apathy?

Here is the thing.

If I see someone in LFR, and that person is doing zero DPS, I know that in order to do nothing, nothing at all for DPS, that person has to be working hard to intentionally not touch anything.

It’s not a question of not knowing what to do. Unless that person played as a pacifist to 90 and only did Fedex quests, they have buttons that eventually kill things. To do zero, they are either on follow, which breaks on damage, or they are actively choosing not to use them to be trolls.

I have seen players like that before. I’m going to make a wild and crazy assumption; you have too.

I don’t offer them helpful suggestions, instead I put them on ignore for the worthless trolls they are. not even one point? That takes skill, yeah, um fuck you troll, bah bye /ignore.

That’s not even taking into account seeing him standing in ALL the fire.

So that just throws out anything he did in heroics or LFR. Why would you do that, and assume anyone would reach out to you to help you perform better? You’re being an asshole in a way that takes an effort. Completely worthless results.

It was only when he started to do Rogue DPS without poisons and to Rupture to be on the meters but low that he started getting any data worth a shit, and even then, how many runs were those? And again, why does he think that other players are responsible for watching what the fuck HE is doing instead of focusing on their own performance and duties?

Do you do that? Do you spend half your play time in LFR looking at each person on the meters to judge for yourself how he or she is playing their character, looking for people who need you to tell them how to play?

If so, please put Bigbearbutt and Buttflame and Beartrap on Azuremyst-US on ignore. I never want to see you, in any content, ever. You are an asshole. Focus on playing your own character, unless of course you think you fucking know everything and exist to tell other people how to play, which again, put me on /ignore.

I liked how he had to make the point that other people were lower than him on the meters. /facepalm.

To buy into what Preach is selling you have to agree with his underlying assumptions… and the key assumption to me was, new players are too introverted and shy to ask anyone in an MMO anything. Ever.

New players apparently need someone to be assigned as their friend, to tell them these things.

Worse,  in Preach’s world new players aren’t capable of finding anything for themselves. They don’t look anything up, they’ve never heard of Google, they don’t look for guides, they are oblivious to anything and everything having to do with WoW, except for the login screen.

Is it that he does videos where he teaches everyone how to play their classes? Does donning the mantle of the great teacher mean everyone else is an idiot? Does he get so many stupid questions that he thinks everyone but him are stupid?

The thing that struck me the most about it was how the crew of Convert to Raid just thought it was the best thing ever, so awesome, they couldn’t stop gushing about it.

I have a big problem with so many of his conclusions, but the one that annoys the most is that the community within WoW has failed him and let him down, because nobody else took the time to see what he was doing, approach him in the LFR raid, and offer him advice on how to improve his DPS. To point out that if he equipped poisons he would perform better. Nobody took him under their wing and helped him to fly.

It is Looking For Raid. It isn’t Looking For Friends.

It is not Blizzards responsibility to build in a Looking For Friend matchmaking service.

Despite that, they actually DID take a stab at this in the recent past, or is it inconvenient to the narrative Preach is selling to recall the Guild Mentoring Program? If that wasn’t a “Looking For Friend” trial program, well, it was the next best thing.

It is not the responsibility of Blizzard to help new players make friends. Blizzard makes the MMO, and if anything, tells people “If you bring the friends you already know into the game with you, you get rewards like boosted leveling, teleporting and mounts! So go get your friends hooked too!”

You know what I took away from his video?

What I learned was you can be an intentional troll, and in some LFR groups some people have stopped spewing forth the venom and hate of Cataclysm, and instead they grit their teeth and work harder to get a victory despite your trolling.

People are indeed focused on accomplishing the mission and moving on in LFR, because it is a place where you are there for yourself. You are presumably not there with friends or family, and you are not there for progression. You enter LFR to obtain Valor, item upgrades to help in progression raids, to keep pushing on your Legendary questline and to hone your skills and improve your own game, unless you think you already know it all.

If you’re going into LFR looking for opportunities to teach other players how to play their classes, well, just damn.

LFR is just not the place for that. A huge go go go mission focused environment? A place where, just as Preach said, people are there to get the job done, and are generally moving too fast and are too successful to even leave a minute or two free without something being pulled.

That’s not a situation where you even HAVE the time to open a dialogue with a complete stranger from another server to broach the topic of playstyles and potential improvements.

You need a place where, after the raid, you can talk to the person you’d like to help in a non-stressful environment, and do so without being accusatory or threatening or derogatory.

Oh shit, look at that, Flex Raiding incoming. How about that.

Flex Raiding, easier than normal, harder than LFR, and designed for you, a group of friends, AND any pugs from your server that you’d like to bring along to help because loot isn’t competed for, it’s individual.

Guess what? By making it a mode that is good for forming pug groups on servers, it provides an opportunity for new players who haven’t raided before to join a group where people could actually see them, talk to them on the server after the raid is over, and have a lingering conversation on improving performance without publicly calling someone the fuck out.

I will say it one last way, and hope I get through.

If your expectation is that the player is not responsible for trying to improve their own skills, if you expect that the game and the experienced players within the game are responsible for seeking out under-performing players in the wild and take the steps to approach them and coach them, then you’re fucking delusional. 

Helping other people is nice, but it’s not your job. Your job is to have fun on your own terms without hurting other people. Anything beyond that is gravy.

I’m going to conclude this with facts.

I went to Google, and typed in this simple search phrase; “New Player Warcraft”.

Top result?

World of Warcraft Official Forums New Player Help and Guide thread.

Yeah, it’s so damn hard for new players to find information about how to play the game, or get better. It’s just terrible.

Oh, if only a new player had a resource on the internet to help them! Oh, if only someone would make a website! Or a Youtube channel! Or a twitch stream, or a twitter account, or an official forum, or guilds, or or or…

Fucking get a grip.

What are these new players…. Amish?

If you require Amish to play the game to fulfill the requirements of your argument, I think it’s time to fall back and regroup.

/drops mic.

Pet Leveling and Burning Spirits

I was listening to the Group Quest podcast earlier, and I heard my buddy DeGei say that he knew the Elemental Spirits were good to level pets against, but he wasn’t sure how you actually did it with only two level 25 pets carrying the fight.

DeGei, this one is for you, man.

We are going to level a pet from 1 to 25, in exactly nine fights. Ready? Let’s go!

First, we pick our team.

Beginning

 

To level pets from 1 to 25, I use three specific level 25 pets as the carrying team.

The three pets are the Anubisath Idol, the Emperor Crab, and the Ash Spiderling.

The Anubisath Idol is picked due to having the Sandstorm ability and a very strong humanoid Crush, and the Emperor Crab is chosen because it’s got a ‘always goes first’ aquatic Surge, a Renewing Mist and a Shell Shield, making it one whopper of an endurance pet.

The Ash Spiderling is simply my crutch when leveling pets at low levels. By Applying Brittle Webbing first, every time an enemy hits you, it hurts itself. Also, by being webbed, every time you hit the enemy with Leach Life, you get twice the healing. On enemies that Swarm, Brittle Webbing makes them darn near kill themselves. It’s wonderful. But your third pet can be whatever you like, the two absolute key pets are the Anubisath Idol and a crab.

How I Prepare

The first step is to get your pet high enough level to survive a few hits from the Burning Pandaren Spirit team. I usually level my pets to 8 somewhere else, then bring them to the trainer in Townlong Steppes.

Prepareteams

I use an addon called PetBattle Teams to allow me to make premade teams with selected abilities.

Lots and lots of teams.

In fact, as you can see here, I originally made about 75 teams of level 1 pets at one time, went to my starting zone, and just started leveling them up to around 6 – 8 to prepare them for the big leagues. As a pet reached 25, I delete the team.

I’m in absolutely no rush to reach some leveling achievement, but I like playing with a wide variety of pets at max level, so I figured might as well be organized for those times I feel like doing a leveling binge.

Right?

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, to begin our leveling journey, we take our level 1 pet and the Spider/Crab combo to Un’goro Crater.

I like Un’goro Crater, because the pets average level 16, high enough to score some decent XP but low enough not to one shot a level 1.

Usually.

Your mileage may vary.

My advice to you?

Avoid the moths, they’re a royal pain in the ass.

Stick with Diametrodons, they’re cute and fun.


earlylevelteam

 

We will open each fight with the pet we’re leveling, let it survive just one round, getting a hit off before switching. It does NOT matter if you hit or miss, taking an action counts as being in the battle. Swap the pet out, bring in the Spider, and Brittle Webbing/Leach Life your way to a cheesy victory against the level 16 pets in the crater.

Ungorolevel1-small

Within four battles, you will go from level 1 to level 8. Your first battle gets you to 5, then to 6, to 7 and to 8.

Level5Level6Level7Level8

 

Congratulations, you’re ready for stage two. Prime time, baby! Bright lights, big city, strong winds and brutal fire.

Time to swap the spider out for the Anubisath Idol as your second pet in the lineup.

Burningpandarenspirit-small

This process is a pretty interesting dance. The fun thing is, you can go a few different ways. All lead to victory, but one way plays it safe while the other risks all…

You always open with your leveling pet. Get off an attack, whatever you want to do. It truly doesn’t matter, so long as you DO NOT STUN THE ENEMY. If the enemy pet gets stunned, it gets swapped out, screwing over your planning.

The Dragonling will always go first in the enemy lineup, it will always attack you first, and it will ALWAYS cast Cyclone first. This means that the enemy spends it’s first turn casting a spell that will NOT do direct damage to your starting pet.

As soon as you get the chance, rotate out the leveling pet, bring in the Anubisath Idol.

Battle1

Tornado? Phah. I got this.

Battle2

Idol up!

Battle3

The second attack the Dragon makes is always Lift-Off. The Dragon takes off, and hovers while you wait out your “I just got here” delay of turn.

On your next move, you can cast Deflection. It always goes before the enemy, so you can avoid the big hit he’s about to perform.

OR… you can cast Sandstorm.

The cautious way to play it, and the smart way when your leveling pet is only 8, is to cast Sandstorm.

Battle4-early

What Sandstorm will do is seriously reduce the amount of damage Cyclone will do to your backline pets, which is critical when you’ve got the leveling pet back there and you’re praying it will survive. In fact, if your leveling pet is weak against Flying attacks, you might want to level to 10 to be safe before coming here.

The downside is… Sandstorm reduces everyone’s hit chance, and your Idol’s heavy hitting attack, Crush, is already an 80% chance to hit ability. This means with Sandstorm up, you miss. A lot. And if you don’t kill the Dragon fast enough, it WILL get off a second Cyclone, which is a real pain in the ass and increases the overall damage your leveling pet might take. Oh, and the Crab is weak to Flying damage.

In the screenshot above, eyeball the two cooldowns on the Dragon, the pet on the upper right. Those timers show you that the Dragon will only perform a simple breath weapon for at least the next few rounds. So hammer him hard.

Battle5

 

As you can see, in this fight I did as an example, I had the crappiest luck ever, and missed something like 4 rounds in a row. So, a new Cyclone got cast, and he went into Lift-Off again… but my shield is up and I’m still in this for the long term.

Battle6

Still, the many misses with Sandstorm meant my Idol died before finishing off the Dragon. Oh noes, right?

Battle7

Not so much. You see, the Crab comes up next, and the Dragon was low enough I could use my Surge, which goes first, to finish it off.

Now, the Fire Pet comes up next. And it ALWAYS opens with the heavy-hitting Conflagrate. Big badaboom. Since I’m out of sequence, all I can do is eat it.

But now, it’s all going to go my way.

You see, the Crab is powerful against the Fire Pet with Surge, and the Fire Pet is about to go on a long break from doing damage.

The second thing the Fire Pet does is cast Cauterize, the self-heal. Well, that’s fine, we didn’t do any damage to the damn thing yet, you just go ahead and waste that turn.

Then it casts Immolate on it’s next round, to set you burning.

So a quick Shell Shield to protect from periodic damage, a Renewing Mists to start building my health back, and look at that… once it has cast Immolate, it does nothing, nothing whatsoever for a couple turns, because it has to wait for the cooldowns on Conflagrate and Cauterize, and once you’re burning, it doesn’t cast Immolate again!

Battle8

You have plenty of time for your Crab to build up health before the next Conflagrate, and your Surges do silly badass damage to him. Piece of cake.

But here comes the wasp!

Battle9

The wasp… is a joke to the Crab. The first two turns, the wasp drops poisons on you… and so long as your Shell Shield is active, they are meaningless. Always cast Shell Shield when the duration is down to one round, and you’re golden.

Get your Renewing Mists up to build your health back to safe levels, but honestly. The only attack it has which can do damage to you is Swarm… and since the damage of Swarm is spread out into small chunks, your Shell Shield damage mitigation reduces it so many times over that you almost take no damage at all the entire fight.

I’m serious. I have had shitty Cyclone runs before where my Crab came into this fight with 80 health, and still won. Easily. You get your Shell Shield up FIRST, get Renewing Mists up to cover the small damage you do take, and it’s in the bag.

Only downside? Surge does minimal damage to a wasp, so it takes many rounds to burn it down. But hey, it’s a sure thing.

Our fifth fight, and our leveling pet goes from level 8 to 14 in one shot!

Level14

Okay, so what now?

Your leveling pet is 14. He’s got the health to survive some Cyclones, so long as he’s not weak against flying.

Why not go for a fast kill?

Battle10

Take a look at this next screenshot. Anubisath is still alive with over 500 health, the Dragon is dead, and I’ve popped my shield in preparation for the heavy-hitting Conflagration I know is coming.

What was different?

In this battle, I never cast Sandstorm.

Instead, my leveling pet fired off a cheap shot and ran for it, my Anubisath Idol came in, popped up the Shield, and then went straight to hammering the Dragon with Crush. I ignored the Cyclone, let it do it’s thing, and counted on my hit chance being high enough to finish off the Dragon before he could cast a second Cyclone.

It worked. Cyclone had one turn left to go when the Dragon died. When the Fire Pet came up, I knew he would cast Conflagrate, so I cast my Deflection Shield.

Then I knew he would cast Cauterize to heal the damage he hadn’t taken yet (um, what?) and so again, I hammered the shit out of him with Crush.

Battle11

Think back to what I said about the Fire Pet. He casts Conflagrate, which does a shit-load of damage. Well, we Deflected that. Then he healed himself, we got a free shot at him. Then he cast a measly little Immolate on us to set us on fire. Another shot at him.

Then he sits there doing nothing for at least two turns, waiting for those cooldowns to end! We get two more free shots before he is ready to Conflagrate, and if you watch his cooldown timers, you know when it’s coming and can cast your Deflection again. That is, if he ain’t dead already.

Level17Level20Level22Level24Level25

One last note… nine fights, level 1 to 25. Once my leveling pet was above level 14, I never used Sandstorm again, and I destroyed the opponents by using Deflection at the correct times to avoid Lift-Off and Conflagrate.

And I did NOT use, at any time, the BOA pith helmet reward that gives pet trainers improved XP. I felt it wasn’t fair to do so, since many folks starting out might not have one yet because they hadn’t gotten the achievements.

There you go, DeGei. A step by step breakdown of how to take the Burning Pandaren Spirit with a leveling pet and two 25’s, on time every time, and make it look easy.

The down side to this is, from what I know, once you have actually completed the Elemental Grand Master Pet Tamer questline, you can’t just fight the Burning Pandaren Spirit over and over again, endlessly. You only get one shot a day.

I don’t know, I refuse to complete the quest until all 400 pets of mine are level 25. 🙂

So DeGei… any questions?

As a side note…

The only other Pet Battle addons I use are; Battle Pet Count, Battle Pets List, PetJournal Enhanced and Pokemon Trainer, which is the nice addon that shows me the enemy cooldowns, and the little up and down arrows. I mostly use it for cooldown timers, though.

I hope this helps someone, because leveling lots and lots of pets can be such a pain in the butt if you don’t find a good system like this.

Virtual Realms – Ohhhyeaaahhhhhhh

All right, let’s look at one bite-sized morsel of Patch 5.4, shall we?

New Feature: Virtual Realms

  • Virtual Realms are sets of realms that are fused together, and will behave exactly as if they were one cohesive realm. Players on the same Virtual Realm will be able to join guilds, access a single Auction House, join arena teams and raids, as well run dungeons or group up to complete quests.

  • Players belonging to the same Virtual Realm will have a (#) symbol next to their name. (Source)

Now, I know I’m not going to be the first to think it, but I’m going to say it.

This spells the end of character slot limitations.

As soon as Virtual Realms go live, and we can identify which servers are linked into our Virtual Realm, we’ll be able to use each individual server as a new expansion to our ‘effective’ character slot list.

Already have all your character slots full on your ‘real’ server? No problem!

Just go to a linked server and make new characters! They can then join the same guild, friend all the same friends, group with the same people and act as a true extension of your server presence.

Will we be able to mail Heirloom items to them? That is but one of the questions that we’ll have to test in live, but I think the words ‘behave exactly as‘ would lead me to think so.

So… tired of trying to choose who to delete to make room for a new alt or test a new build idea, because you want to keep all your characters in your guild or on your server?

Rest your weary mind, for your troubles are, well and truly, over.

I for one welcome the end of the “Plz Blizz give me one more character slot plz plz” era.

Well played, Blizzard. Well played.

The Bear Chef – WoW WoW Sauce

Hi, I’m the Bear Chef, and welcome to another episode of random food fun.

I have been working on this one for quite some time, and I think it is finally ready to unveil.

Behold, the power.

The majesty.

The unstable danger of….

Wow Wow Sauce!

Long recognized as the prized sauce of discerning Archchancellors, the method of its creation has long been a closely held secret. Granted, that’s mostly due to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulations that would classify it as all three and tax the living beejeebus out of it.

But no longer! Thanks to the efforts of yours truly, a hirsute ursine with a recent flair for the diabolical, the recipe has come to life and can be duplicated in your very own kitchen! Demon familiar not included, unless you drop some on your cat.

This sauce is a powerful concoction, and provides an explosive touch to a fine meal. You’ve been warned.

Once fully prepared, this sauce should be stored in glass containers, mostly because it tends to eat its way through anything else, as my wife and our floor will attest.

Ingredients; 
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sriracha ‘rooster’ sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp or two light dashes of crushed red pepper flakes

Tools:
Whisk
Saucepan
Glass container for storage (or a plastic squeeze bottle for dispensing, if you’re up to enchanting a bottle that is liable to melt in your icebox anyway and turn your leftover meatloaf into a ravening demon. Which is a horrible danger, since the demon might eat your bacon.)

The Steps of Divine Creation:
Special note: If you are looking for the pervasive fire of the one true ring, use a full tsp of the crushed red pepper. If you’re more in the mood for a tantalizing tease of heavenly heat, use just a dash or two.

Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.

Gently boil uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes. We’re aiming to reduce the volume of the liquid through evaporation, so you want a reasonable boil more than a mild simmer. Just don’t bring it to an aggressive boil, or to a fast boil, because it will foam up and then you’ve got serious trouble… and a heck of a mess on your stove top. Also, the sauce will take on the characteristics of its creation, and the last thing you want is a fast, aggressive wow-wow sauce on the loose.

Bonus points for any GM that creates stats to have a fast, aggressive wow-wow sauce as a random monster in your fantasy campaign.

Think of it this way. You are the mad wizard, or at least the mad wizard’s apprentice. This is alchemy, and you’re distilling the potion. Or, if you’re like me, you’re a fan of distillation in all it’s forms anyway, and that this smacks of alchemy is simply a fortuitous occurrence.

Remember that uncovered boil? After about 20 to 25 minutes start checking the volume, you want to be down by about 1/3rd. As it reduces, the flavors become more intense, and some of the vinegar is muted into a rich, mellow tone against the chili fire.

If you’re not sure how much it’s reduced, don’t sweat it. More or less is fine, we’re wizards and this is high art, not to be mistaken for the art of getting high. Eyeball it, and if you like the deep, black color with red-tinted edges, call it good.

Remove the pan from heat and let your sauce cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

When your immediate needs are, ahem, satisfied, place the rest in your icebox for use anytime. Remember, we added no unnatural preservat… oh, I can’t even finish that line with a straight face. Store it in the icebox for as long as you like, but remember, fermentation may be a thing. Along with explosions, fires of unknown origin, black oozes and random unexplained detonations in your pants. You’ve been warned.

I recommend storing it for no more than a week myself, since you know… I may be a Warlock Bear, but even I am not impervious to litigation. You store it for five years, drink it and then explode, it ain’t my fault. You’ve got one week. After that, it’s your ass. Be told.

Suggested uses:
Wow Wow Sauce is a good dipping sauce for meat or poultry, like chicken nuggets, and also as a glaze for pork chops or chicken on the grill. For those kinds of uses, the ‘dash of pepper’ method may be a more universally accepted taste.

Where WoW WoW Sauce truly shines is when you toss all thought of moderation to the winds, and go for broke. Especially if you go for the tsp of crushed red pepper technique.

Here’s what to do. Make some exceptionally crispy chicken strips, preferably quite thin and not those big honking KFC-style things that are simply whole chicken breasts dipped in batter. They’re good, but they detract from this particular experience, the point of which is the maximum conveyance of sauce to your mouth.

Take your fully cooked and hot super-crispy chicken strips (or crispy wings!) and put them in a metal wok-shaped bowl with a generous portion of the warm sauce. Shake and swirl and spin to coat the chicken well, then set the chicken on a rack over a shallow pan to drain the excess sauce off. Give them a minute, then pick up with tongs, shake, and plate them suckas.

Serve your WoW-WoW Sauce wings/strips on a plate with a side of cool, soothing ranch dressing for dipping. I think you’ll agree with me that they’re magical.

Trust me on this, if you whip this up when you’re in the mood for a walk on the wild side of buffalo wings, you’re going to be a devilishly delighted devourer of succulent snacks.

Thank you for your time, and remember to hug the chef!  It gets you within range of melee attacks.

We All Want To Be Special

We all want to be special.

Is it really that simple? Does all the bitching, pissing and moaning boil down to everyone wants to be a special little snowflake?

Ever since Flex Raids were announced as a new feature, I’ve been silently observing comments, discussions… remembering where I’ve heard these same old stories before.

I’ve pieced together the bullshit behind a lot of the discussion.

Put simply, it is this belief; “Blizzard ruined the game by dumbing everything down in ICC to get more people carried in raids, then even stupider with bonus LFR idiocy in Cata, and now any moron or baddie gets to feel like they should be allowed to raid in Pandaria. Blizzard wants everyone to be able to raid, and when everyone can raid, then there is no point for real raiders to play the game because there is nothing special about being a raider anymore.”

Reminds me of the nefarious plans of some super-villain. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

“Some content should be exclusive, only for those who earn it. Baddies don’t have any right to see it, but now since Blizzard caters to them, the game is ruined and they think they have a right to see content. In the same tier it’s current, no less!”

“If some content isn’t exclusive, if there aren’t cool rewards for the hardcore raiders, then why should they play? There has to be something for the baddies to look up to, to aspire to become, although they are too bad to ever put the effort into getting better. Because they’re bad.”

“That is what exclusive rewards are for. To give someone the feeling that they are special, different… better.”

“That’s why the game is an MMO instead of a single player RPG. So other people can be my audience and bask in my radiant glow of awesome.”

Is that really what it comes down to? If people don’t get to be special snowflakes and feel superior to others, the game isn’t worth playing?

Adapt or die, motherfuckers.

Maybe the game was about that in the beginning.

Maybe it has been like that for years, and maybe those roots run deep and will never entirely go away. Rare pets, rare mount drops, insanely low drop chances, heroic content, PvP ranked ladder matches, races to world firsts that ding special snowflake achieves.

Competition with winners and losers is a part of the game.

Problem is, those of wee brain have missed the point that it’s a big ass game, and the competition is just one part of it, a part that is easily ignored if desired.

It’s a big motherfucking game. It spans worlds, ages of legend and despair, times of triumph and trial.

There is room enough for love, war and everything in between.

If you need to feel better than others around you with rare mounts, world firsts or achievement points, good on you. I laugh my ass off at you, and I’ll do it in your face, but good for you. I’m glad you have a place to find life affirmation.

Exclusive content? Exclusive significant group content that I am to be denied because I don’t now nor will I ever invest the time someone else does in the game? I said bullshit years ago, I say bullshit now.

Every time a new method of bringing friends together is added, I rejoice inside. Battletags and RealID friends. Cross-server raid groups. LFR options available whenever the PLAYER is able to have time for one rather than an entire group. Hell, Queueing for LFR with a handful of friends and chatting along in Vent while a bunch of silent stragglers roll right alongside.

Now, even more fun friend flexibility. Cross-server Flex Raids for current content that requires more coordination and commitment than LFR, but fewer solid ‘numbers’ of people.

I cannot count how many times I’ve seen a raid group of 18+, who are left with no choice but to “Go to the General Chat to look for more or the raid is canceled.”

Oh yeah, those must be bad players, because they only had eighteen players in the group. Good thing they weren’t able to raid.

Are you kidding me? Go suck a drainpipe, Luigi.

Would I love to see it work with eight players? Yes. Or even nine.

I would like to see a Flex Raid system where you need two tanks, two healers and three DPS for a core team, and then you grew it from there. Maybe, for every additional four DPS you added, you’d be best served to add one more healer… or even a DPS/healer hybrid.

Regardless of how it eventually works, this isn’t Vanilla WoW anymore. The game grew up, how about you do too?

The game and it’s content is not exclusive to those who have the most time to play, and does not belong to those who do more than it does to anyone else. The hardcore raider spending 50 hours a week raiding heroic modes in WoW is not an exalted King, gracing the rest of us with his or her majestic presence.

Fuck them, we also play who cross-server raid with our friends whenever we damn well feel like it.

Tired of it. Tired of the same old tired entitlement bullshit.

That’s what it is. Someone who wants the ‘best parts’ of the game tailored to a small, special sub-set of the paying player-base. The rest of us are supposed to pay our monthly subscription fees and help fund the content that they experience, while we stand by and admire from afar.

Bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

Hey, if you want an exclusive experience that nobody else will have the privilege of seeing, code your own damn game, play it in single player mode, and then delete it. Grats, you won.

Oh, wait, are we playing a single player game? Oh, no it’s an MMO. A group game, a dare I say it SOCIAL experience.

Things have changed. That’s what this is all about, and it’s what keeps bringing the complaints and the cries of “WoW is dead”.

WoW has changed. It’s not all about you anymore, and it hasn’t been for a while. So bitch all you want, sit in your bird nests and open your little shrieking mouths to cry for food, Ji-Kun ain’t gonna cram exclusive lore down your throats anymore.

The game has been opened up for the masses. And those masses, for all you fucking cry about it, hey it turns out a lot of them are pretty damn good raiders, no matter how much you want to deny it and call them baddies.

I run in LFR. I do it all the time. And for every ‘baddie’ I see, I see four self-important egotistical little shits and twenty other people who are doing what they are supposed to in a raid, and doing it well.

Newsflash; it’s the self-important egotistical little shits I put on ignore.

So keep crying.

You play the game your way, I’ll play it mine, and we’ll see who has a better time of it.

From the looks of things, you’re going to have the satisfaction of reaching the server-first “Choked to death on his own bitter bile” Achievement. Grats.

While you’re doing that, and bitching about the death of WoW and how much it sucks, I’ll be talking to folks about cross-server Flex Raid groups and looking forward to having fun.