Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jocelyne Earns an Iron Horde Title

Jocelyne Earns an Iron Horde Title

Jocy spent the night at the Wyvern’s Tail Inn in Orgrimmar’s Valley of Honor. Anxious to get the most out of her day she wolfed down a quick breakfast and headed off on her second trip to the Blasted Lands. This time she brought her arsenal of weapons and spells, ready to take on the Iron Horde at Nethergarde Castle. Jocy quickly found out the hard way that not all of her spells were working. She still had enough muscle to kill a few mobs and pick up some quests without dying.

Jocy waited impatiently while I did some research. I finally located the problem - Macros. Back before Jocy’s boost I must have tinkered with macro settings, or it might have been a transition issue with the new patch. However it happened, several spells that should have been set to attack things, were instead set to heal things. No wonder the spells failed to work. Just remember it’s been more than a year since anyone did any heavy combat (or even light combat, for that matter). My head still hurts from having to remember how to build and set macros.

Once she got the green light, Jocy was off to the Blasted Lands again. The basic storyline is that the Iron Horde has taken over Nethergarde Castle. From the small base camp, Jocy was sent to kill some named mobs and collect artifacts. One thing I like about the revised questing is that there is always an arrow available to point out the nearest quest. Another thing I like is that artifacts belonging to quests are outlined to make them easier to see. Smaller objects, though, tend to get lost even with the outlining, but it is still an improvement.

Jocy learned that the Dreadmaul ogres had allied with the Iron Horde, so she slaughtered a number of them for some more quests. The topper was to take on a big bad orc leader, Gar’mac. That fight pushed Jocy pretty hard. She actually had to maneuver when he went sword crazy and even had to cast a few heals on herself. All that did was to extend the inevitable, though. Jocy killed him.
That ended the quest thread. Jocy was directed to go to Warchief Voljin. Jocy got a slap on the back and a squeeze on the rear for her efforts. She was also given a new title: Jocelyne of the Iron Vanguard, and earned the achievement “The Iron Invasion.”

Ok, the title is nice, but Jocy also got some loot! But let me digress a short moment. One interesting thing about the stats squish is that it didn’t affect item levels. Jocy is geared mostly in Timeless Isle gear with an ilevel of i496. That didn’t change with the new patch. Her newly won gear included a necklace (i515), a cape (i515), a ring (i515), and a trinket (i520). Jocy won two companions as well. All in all a pretty nice haul. Jocy is now ilevel 503.

Note that this quest line is only for level 90 characters. It appears that Wild and Fist both are showing some interest in doing the quests as well. This particular quest line will only be available until the WoD expansion is launched.  Get it while you can.

For Stat Geeks. I wanted to get some basic DPS information down to see how well (or not) Jocy progresses.
Using the Target Dummy with only auto attacks, she logged an upper and average DPS of 61 and 66 respectively. Attacking the dummy with my flawed macro set up yielded 261 DPS average and 276 max.
Once Jocy started killing real mobs, even with some macro problems, she got up to an average 1346 DPS.
Finally, with her equipment pretty much straightened out and fighting real mobs, she raised that number to 1596 DPS.
I don’t know what are good or bad numbers because of the squish and my own lack of playing. Jocy’s plan is to be good enough to do the things she needs to do, and to continue improving.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Building a Level 90 Paladin From Scratch

Building a Level 90 Paladin From Scratch

Part One of building a paladin begins with young Jocy, a level 27 paladin who was all but forgotten in Silvermoon City. As a reward for signing up for the Warlords of Draenor (WoD) expansion, the gods of WoW allowed one player of any level to be “boosted” to max-level 90. The child tapped for that honor was Jocy. The boost also came with a free set of armor for her Holy (healing) spec. She got her Retribution gear (damage dealing) from the Timeless Isle, which Wild and Fist collected for her.

I took a snapshot of Jocy’s gear and specs not long after her boost for comparison in expectation of the next patch. Those results are at the bottom of the post.

Part Two of building a paladin began with the release on 14 October of the Iron Horde pre-patch. This patch is preparation for the coming release of WoD. The biggest change is the “great statistics squish.” I’ll get to the statistics comparison in a moment.

There are a great number of things that have to be done to turn a vanilla wrapped paladin into an effective combatant and healer. Glyphs had to be bought and installed. Enchantments also had to be purchased added to her gear sets. Addons to improve her abilities had to be set up. A long list of spells had to be re-learned, not to mention spells that changed or were deleted by the patch. Finally (I think this is the last thing), spell rotations were set up for combat and healing.  All of that has been completed.

Part Three of building a paladin puts all that hard work into practice. Even after all of the above, Jocy is far from being ready to enter a dungeon or raid. She needs to practice her spell rotations and get comfortable with them. That will be an ongoing task.

Feeling a little more confident, Jocy decided to take a peek in the Blasted Lands, where the invasion from Draenor is expected to emerge from the Portal there. I expected a crowd of players and was prepared to jump into a large battle. That is the kind of thing pre-patches generally have. My past favorite was the house to house battles in Orgrimmar. I was kind of disappointed that Jocy found only a small tent camp and a couple of quests to get her started. Things were very quiet. The quests required killing, but Jocy wasn’t ready for that just yet. Soon, though, after some work on the practice dummy, she’s going back to the Blasted Lands.

Comments on getting the patch installed: The first attempt failed utterly. The second attempt at loading the game went pretty well, though. There was one issue that resulted in having to do a computer reboot, but once that was done patch loaded without any problems. I’d have to say overall it was a pretty smooth transition. Another very pleasant surprise is that my more important addons all had up-to-date upgrades supporting the patch. The only addon that failed was Xperl, which I have been using practically since I first started playing. The author has abandoned it, it hasn’t been updated in a year, it isn’t stable, and its too complicated to fix. I can use the default setup that WoW provides for now. Eventually I’ll have to select and learn one of the other addons that provide similar features, particularly when/if I consider raiding.

I took a snapshot of Jocy’s gear and specs after the patch went live but before all of the gear upgrades she got. That should give a good comparison of the before and after statistics as a result of the squishing of stats. The stats look very vanilla WoW sized. I’m going to hunt down an old snapshot at some point and compare Wild’s vanilla stat set with what he has now. That should be interesting.

Pre-Patch Stats

Post Patch Stats
 And that’s a Wrap!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Warlords of Draenor (WoD), Patch 6.02: The Iron Tide

The Missus is on a short trip to Palm Springs and has left me to fend for myself for a day. I have a long list of honey-dos to keep me out of trouble. Most of the work involves taking care of our cats, three of which need regular medications. But I do have time for an announcement: I am going to restart this blog again. Somewhat paradoxically, the first thing I’m going to talk about is why I’ll be playing WoW even less than usual for a few weeks, even though a new patch is coming out in just three days.

First of all, I am in the final stages of finishing my novel. Ok, so I’ve claimed to be “almost done” more than a couple of times. This time, it may even be true. Twenty-seven chapters are complete, and for the first time the chapters still to be finished (Chapters 28-32) are already mapped out, ready for me to fill in the details.
Complicating both WoW and the novel, our RV trip to the east coast to visit relatives is just around the corner. The RV is currently in the shop getting a thorough checkup. I’ll have the laptop so I can keep up with any WoW news when I have internet access. What I wasn’t expecting was the announcement of the pre-Warlords of Draenor patch was being released this coming Tuesday. I know the full WoD release is planned for November, but the pre-patch slipped up on me unawares.

I’m going to carve out some time to check out the patch next week. I have three max level 90 characters to choose from. I’ll be most comfortable trotting out the veteran Wildshard, but I can also pick from two other level 90 characters, the Monk Fist and the Paladin Jocy. I am constantly changing my mind about which to start with, but I spent my player “boost” on bumping Jocy from level 27 to level 90 and I really want to learn to play a paladin. Jocy is my choice, subject to change.

I haven’t been totally derelict regarding the incoming patch. I gleaned the information below from the patch notes.

The pre-WoD patch has finally been announced. Next week (14 Oct) the World of Warcraft will shift on its axis in preparation for the coming release.

There are a ton of changes in this patch. The new/old enemy are orcs coming from a parallel universe on Draenor, called the Iron Horde. The initial attack begins in the Blasted Lands, which I think most everyone will be able to participate in. Level 90 only players can gain access to Blackrock Spire and enter the 5 player dungeon, Upper Blackrock Spire. NOTE to Myself: Place Jocy in the Blasted Lands BEFORE the patch, to avoid the flood of players heading that way on Tuesday.

We are tramping over very old ground, as the Blasted Lands and Blackrock have been sacked and destroyed innumerable times since the original, vanilla game came out in 2004. The familiar ground should help players adjust to all of the game changes in the new patch as we learn and deal with them. And that is likely the point.

Wild and his family have chosen to stay away from groups and raids, at least for now. Those players who are looking to group up, however, will find many changes (hopefully improvements) to get players together to kill things.

Questing has gotten more options to improve that necessary aspect of the game. The Quest Tracker automatically lists quests in order of how close they are to you. Quests don’t take up bag space anymore, either.

There are so many changes in how bags are handled, and so many changes in where things can be stored, it will take my bank manager, Happy, some time to get that all sorted out. One thing Happy’s noticed, though, is bag sales remain high despite the incoming changes. The newest bag will have 30 slots. There are all-purpose bags with 26 and 28 slots in the game now, but they are so expensive most players stayed with the much cheaper 20 and 22 slot bags. I’m really interested to see how the 30 slot bag is crafted and what Wild (who is a tailor and plans to make those bags) needs to learn to do to make them. Wild won’t even have to level up from 90 to 100 to learn how to make them, either.

There is more help for those who always need more bag space, too. Many items that stack up to 20 now stack up to 200. Now Happy can store even more stuff that he already has too many of to sell. One thing Happy has learned over time, though - almost everything has a price, and a buyer. You just have to put the two together. Banks also get a new, special reagent bank tab, adding more storage. And crafter's will be able to use reagents from that tab from wherever the crafting takes place. No more having raiders leave a raid to go get materials to craft something important. It can be done on the spot.

The “squashing” of character stats also goes into place. Repeat after me - This is NOT A NERF. Supposedly everything is balanced out so that you are as good - or as bad - as you were before the patch. Many stats have been removed from the game completely to further simplify what had become runaway stats. These changes are going to affect Pandaria items as well, something that isn’t usually done. There are going to be some befuddled folks wondering who messed with their stats.

Reforging items is no longer possible. Good riddance. It was a pain to keep up with, and it was practically a forced requirement for raiders.

Resurrection spells have also undergone changes when grouped up. All available spells are placed in a pool. The availability of a spell is based on a timer with a cooldown. Players must still cast their own spell, so group leaders will likely have to make rules on when and who should cast them. The nice thing is that these spells can be charged up and reused, depending on the length of the encounter.

That is just a smattering of all the changes. I’ll have more to say next week, if I can get Jocy ready.

Friday, October 10, 2014

One Bag of Gold Too Many
Posted on July 10, 2014
One Bag of Gold Too Many

Note: This originally appeared on my J Walker Bell website. I am adding it here now that I am going to back to using this blog.

If you’ve found your way to this blog and aren’t sure what World of Warcraft (WoW) or Warlords of Draenor (WoD) is then you are at the right place!

Still here? Great! Welcome to the World of Warcraft, and the adventures of my main character in this world, Wildshard (aka “Wild”), and his extended family of adventurers.

The following is a VERY brief synopsis, just to set the table. WoW is an MMO (Massively Multi-player Online game) released in 2004. I started playing in 2005, and since that first release WoW has released four expansions: Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria. The latest expansion, Warlords of Draenor, was released to beta players on June 26th. I was fortunate to get an invitation to help beta test the new release, and I’ll have a lot more to say about that in later posts.

I’ve been playing the game for nine years now, long enough to see the ebb and flow not only of the game, but of my own playing as well. Right now my playing is at a low ebb, focused mostly on maintaining a presence in the game and collecting gold for use when I decide to become more active. I have close to two dozen characters, three of which are at the maximum level of 90 (which, in WoD, will rise to level 100).
My banking player is named Happy, a goblin who loves his job. Happy works the Auction House, the equivalent of the stock market in the real world. He’s good at his job (if only I could use him in the real stock market!). He is so good that this morning I discovered that the mysterious game lords have set an upper limit on just how much gold he is allowed to accumulate. Happy is not happy at the moment, fuming like a dragon who’s been told he can’t add any more treasure to his lair. Happy, by the way, rides a two headed dragon when conducting business. His dragon isn’t very happy, either.

The solution to Happy’s problem isn’t likely to make him feel better. Wild and his family is going to become more active again, taking on the new challenges coming with Warlords of Draenor. That will require spending gold, likely a lot of gold, and Happy’s problem goes away. Happy hates spending gold even more than loves making it, but he was somewhat mollified by the opportunity to work the Auction House with a new expansion full of fresh goods and eager buyers.

I am still considering just how active I will be in the beta testing and final release of WoD. The game can be truly immersing and a real pleasure to play. My level 90 players – Wild, Fist, and Jocey – are very rusty from disuse and it will take some practice to get back into the swing of things. On the other hand, if there are some readers interested in starting with a fresh character and learning the game from the ground up, this would be a good window to try the game. There are a couple of ways to play for free, at least for a few levels, and even supply a guide to help get started.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Wildshard's Adventures is Relocating


I am busy creating a new website that will bring together several projects. This will likely be the last entry in this blog. The chronicling of Wildshard's adventures, and those of his extended family, will continue, just not here.

The new location can be found at:

Wildshard's Family Adventures under the category "Wildshard, My Warcraft Family"

The site is still under construction, so wear the appropriate armor when visiting. Thanks for all those who've participated over the years, and please join me at the new site!

Wildshard, aka Charlie

PS - I will continue to check in here for awhile, at least until I get the sign in set up at the new website. Drop me a comment here if there are any questions.

Friday, April 4, 2014

My Apologies to League of Legends

My Apologies to League of Legends

I've been having ongoing login issues with my primary game, World of Warcraft. I could make angry accusations at what I went through, but I've cooled down enough to let that all go now. While wrestling with that issue, I went looking for something else to play, and League of Legends (LoL) was recommended. League of Legends is a free game that is a lot of fun to play. I went so far as to get it installed (simple and easy) take the short "get to know the game" tutorial, and played a few tune up games against the computer. Unfortunately, real life intervened and my gaming time went down considerably for a time.

When I was able to spend a little more time on playing, the issues with the Warcraft login were finally (hopefully) resolved by switching from the standard Warcraft Launcher to the launcher, which seems to avoid the login issues. That's the long way around of explaining why I'm not playing LoL.

Back to Warcraft, I checked into getting the pre-release upgrade from Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor (WoD). The WoD expansion won't be available until the end of the year, but buying the pre-release still allows me to "boost" one character up to the max 90 level. I have planned all along to boost Jocelyn, my young level 27 paladin, to level 90. Today I did just that. She got a new set of i483 gear, courtesy of the boost. She got Holy spec gear (for healing), which is what I wanted. Wild and JB had also been collecting gear on the Timeless Isle, and had six pieces of i496 gear available for Jocey. She chose Retribution (damage dealing) as her secondary spec and used the Timeless Isle gear to fill some of her retribution gear slots. Jocey had about 7,000 gold and spent most of it buying fill in pieces. Surprisingly, Jocey hasn't asked Happy for any gold. Yet. I thought that the gear for sale would be cheap, but knowing that boosted players are going to need additional gear has kept prices fairly high. The closer to the release of WoD, the higher the price will get for that gear. Jocey likely got a bargain by buying early.

Getting a boosted character was relatively easy. After paying the $50 (it's $60 for additional character boosts after the first one), a button appears on the character screen. You have to decide what your main spec is, and once that is done the change appears instantaneously. The character gets a full set of gear for the selected spec, and then there is the work of setting talents and buying the secondary spec from the trainer. I was really annoyed when Jocey seemed to have lost all of the items in her bags. She got a full set of embersilk bags, which was great, but they were empty! Not to worry - it took about a half hour, but Jocey got mail and all of her old gear and items in her bags were all returned to her. Note, though, that boosting a character under level 60 will wipe out all profession gains made. I planned on changing Jocey's professions anyway, so it was no big deal to me. At level 90 she should be able to grind through her professions pretty quickly.

All in all it was a pretty simple and painless transition. Now I just need to learn how to play a paladin again.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wrestling with Warcraft

Wrestling with Warcraft

Blizzard makes my head hurt. On the one hand, they are feeding my obsession by announcing just yesterday (10 March) that I can pre-order the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor (WoD), even though it's not expected to be released until this fall. Why would anyone pre-order that early? Well, because of the "Boost to 90" opportunity. The idea is that when WoD is released each account would be able to boost one of their characters (even a newly made level 1) instantly to level 90. The boosted character would get a set of green i483 gear (a decent starter set), 150 gold, and a full set of 22 slot bags (worth about 2,000 gold). If the character is at least level 60, learned professions are boosted to max level 600 as well. What makes this intriguing is that the boost can be done NOW, instead of having to wait for WoD. I am very tempted to pre-order and boost my level 27 paladin, Jocey, to level 90 right away.

On the other hand, Blizzard is making me really angry. I've started having connection problems with WoW. For quite awhile now I've been experiencing random disconnects. If I were raiding I'd have been a lot more worried about that, but since I'm not doing anything that affects other players, the disconnects were only an annoyance, not a game breaker. I could immediately log back in, so no big deal.

Well, now I'm having a problem with the Warcraft Launcher hanging with a greyed out PLAY button. It started a week or so ago and has gotten progressively worse. Yesterday I spent more time with a hung screen than I spent in game. Last night I gave up after numerous attempts to login failed at the launcher. Note that the failure affects only Warcraft. All my other programs and Internet connections work just fine. Even so, I took the computer, modem, and router through all the trouble testing and they checked out fine.

I put in trouble tickets, of course. Blizzard "answers" them, sort of, and I sent copious data to them, but nothing they've suggested has worked. I'm on my fifth ticket now. The situation as it stands is that Blizzard is blaming my Internet carrier, Cox Cable, and Cox Cable is blaming Blizzard. What little coherent information I've been able to get is that there is a network hop somewhere in Los Angeles that is causing dropped service. Apparently, no one is responsible for it (or is willing to admit it). The Cox Cable guy I talked to (I was directed specifically to him because he is a network/server tech and personally deals with all Blizzard issues) said that about this time every year the same thing happens. Players complain on the forums, and Blizzard tells them to go complain to their Internet provider. When they do, Blizzard says, see, the Internet provider is getting complaints, so it must be their problem. Sure they are, because Blizzard passed the buck to them. But, note that the problem affects other Internet services, not just Cox.

In Blizzard's world this is just a little blip. One technician said exactly that. Millions of players can access the game just fine, so it's not their problem that I can't. Really, that's what she said.

This morning I was happy to see that the Launcher is working. I get a nice, live Launcher PLAY button. Of course, this is Tuesday and the game is down for maintenance. I fully expect that once the game is live again I'll be treated to a greyed out PLAY button again.

Why do I keep trying to play this game?