Iron Circle: A New Home for my Forsaken Shadow Priest

Can't we all just get along? This means YOU, Lady Jaina Proudmore.

I am happy to report that as of a few days ago, my Forsaken shadow priest has officially found a new home, on LLane, in Iron Circle. Huzzah!

As those of you who follow me on twitter know, it's been a real challenge for me Horde guild-wise since mid-Cataclysm. When our friend-led raiding guild server transferred off Bronzebeard in the dark of night, leaving us guildless, I mostly stopped playing this lady, despite her being my all time favorite character.

When Wrenz and I returned from our time away from WoW (a.k.a. our flirtation w/SWTOR), I had hoped to find that things had livened up on Bronzebeard, but I really didn't ID a guild that would be a good fit for my interests and raiding timeframes (I'm PST and can not get online prior to 6 PT weeknights.)

I had been a little stubborn about considering other realms, in large part because almost all of my playtime on Anexxia had been on Bronzebeard. But at a certain point, you have to know when to let go of the past and move on.

For me, the turning pointwas my getting restless with not raiding. Even tho my gnomey shadow priest was quickly geared up via LFR, I was not able to find her a raiding team. And although I love doing the retro raids with friends, the inability to form a cross-realm raid group meant she was pretty much stuck with LFR as her only raiding outlet. Now don't get me wrong-- that is better than not raiding at all. But in my heart, it's the comraderie and sense of achievement from raiding that keeps me most interested in the game.

And thus, I shipped off this lady, and a passel of alts, to app to Iron Circle last month, at the urging of a number of twitter WoW peeps, with @glyneth being the prime inspiration/instigator for my application.

I've been thrilled to get to do a few of the recent tier raids in the team 2 10man group, and the weekly current tier raid LFR with almost a full guild raid. I've got my WoW mojo flowing again. I am filled with the urge to compile best-in-slot gear lists. And write posts on optimizing your raid DPS. i.e. things are back to normal again.

Now, I can't promise to be better about posting in the blog mind you as I am still super busy with the new job. But I can promise that when I do, it will be back to the raiding shadow priest topics of yore.

And just in time to get prepared to put that jerk Hellscream in his place...

Wish me luck!

P.S. Vol'jin for Warchief!


Throne of Thunder Raid Finder: Shadow Priest's Guide to Last Stand of the Zandalari LFR

WoWScrnShot_031513_072558

Last night, I spent a couple of hours in LFR, working through the first offering from the Throne of Thunder Raid.Normally, you'd see an awesome purpley screenshot up there. But given the concentrating on doing a new raid, and discussing tactics with the other raiders, I somehow didn't manage to take even one screenshot last night.  CRAZY! I know. But I digress.

The great thing about doing an instance and having a wipe or two on each boss is it gives you some time to figure out your strategy for maximum DPS and utility. And before it all leaves my mind, I thought I'd share it with you.

Jin'rokh the Breaker

What is it about the first boss being the hardest? In many ways he was the most difficult for all the newbies to adapt to (I think we had 3 wipes on him, and a number of people dropping in and out). Your key to do's here:

  • Watch for pools of water to be set down on the ground; when you see one, run for it ASAP and stand in it. You will see a serious DPS increase (40% is what I recall from last night)
  • Don't get too comfy in that pool of water -- when he casts lightning storm, you need to GTFO out of that pool as it is going to become electrified, and kill you. Run and stack with the group near the boss
  • As you are running out from the lightning storm cast, pop your Vampiric Embrace up on the boss. This will very likely save a life or two, perhaps even your own. Coordinate w/any other friendly shadow priests in raid to trade off on casting it.
  • If you are the focus of targeted lightning, make sure to run away from the group and DO NOT STAND IN OR RUN THROUGH THE WATER, lest you electrocute everyone.

TL&DR: Stand in the pools of water; run out of water in lightning storm; do not electrify the pools.


Horridon

This fight is somewhat akin to being at the 6 a.m. opening of a superstore on Black Friday. Angry mobs everywhere! Total chaos! Whch is why it is important to stay focused:

  • As the tank moves Horridon around the circle of the room, from door to door, avoid his head and tail.
  • Keep DoTs up on the boss but focus on the adds.
  • DoT all the ads then focus fire the add with the least health, unless there is a Dinomancer up in which case he's your priority.
  • Don't stand in bad.
  • If you happen to be close to it, click the Orb of Command when it appears.
  • After Horridon is done smacking his head against the wall, focus DPS on War-God Jalek,keeping your DoTs up on Horridon as well.
  • You are most likely to die by aggro'ing too many of the adds in Phase 1, so try not to be the first to DPS all out on them.

TL&DR: Focus on adds; prioritize DinoMancers. Kill War-God Jalek then finish off Horridon.


Council of Elders

Unlike other council fights, killing off one at a time doesn't seem to make the team more powerful. So try to get folks to pop Heroism/Bloodlust when Sul is empowered; getting rid of his quicksand will be a big help. Here's your to do's:

  • Prioritize the Loa Spirits and Living Sands adds.
  • When adds are dead, DPS the empowered boss a.k.a. the huge shadow priest.
  • Keep an eye on the ground -- quicksand and barrel rolling trolls can do some serious damage to you.

We had folks try to start in on the usual "you are all so fail" trash talking, but happily it was shot down quickly. Look folks: this is new content just now available to Raid Finder. Most everyone is learning the ropes. So chill out already! Let folks who haven't read the strats know the basics of what to do. Then everyone wins and we all go home happy and understanding how the fight works for next time.   MMMM'kkkk?

Speaking of going home happy, I took home a pretty new dress so that totally made my day.

I hope your first trip into this new LFR is rewarding!


We Saved Bolvar Fordragon!

shadow priest on Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher mount

Last week, the awesome peeps in Friend or Foe on Madoran put together an ICC achievements run in ICC. At the end of the night, all achievements completed, everyone got a mount. Well, except for (@Psynister, @Fynralyl who didn't already have it half completed) me.

You see, I did the half of my Once Bitten Twice Shy achievement I didn't have (the not getting bitten part) to complement the half I'd completed previously, horde-side. But unlike other such achievements, it didn't magically meld together. And thus, I came up one achievement half short of a mount. Psyn and Fyn got their first half of the achievement and would also need to go back again.

And so, this week, we went back to complete it. And thanks to a few FoF peeps who were on, and my #WoW twitter, Battletag and LJ buddies, I got the other half done tonight! And thus, as you can see above, I am the proud handler of a Bloodbathed Frostbrood Vanquisher mount.

Serious big thank yous go out to @psynister @wowcynwise @justdbear @fordarkness and @the_wrenz.

And yes, as always, I watched the cinematic all the way through at the end, and teared up over Bolvar's sacrifice. He is, as always, my hero.

It was a nice way to cap off a week in World of Warcraft that also included slaying my old nemesis Staghelm, a.k.a. the druid formerly known as Archdruid McCrankipants.

Ah yeah, staggypants! We meet again...

Just another awesome week in Azeroth...

I have been MIA in the blog for a bit, but not due to a lack of playing. Mostly due to IRL being exceptionally busy due to having been interviewing for and then onboarding at an awesome new job. No time for any serious raiding or theory crafting, but I am still around these parts. So be sure to stop by and say hi here, on twitter or in game.

Cheers!

P.S. I am sure Wrenz and I could have duo'd the place, but that would have taken the nostalgia out of it for me. Because this raid was one of my all time favorite team effort experiences. It's just not the same without at least 9 other raiders dancing and DPSing alongside... :)

 


Is that a Sha in Your Pocket...?

Are you TALKING TO ME!?!? Gnome shadow priest with scary Sha helm

...My gnomey shadow priest's looking more than a little Sha-touched these days. Between her strangely frightening visage, as you can see above, and the Shafiend that keeps following her around, even on her farm (see below), she's gotten a little bit more evil as the season has worn on.

I completely blame/credit LFR. While it certainly can never take the place of the feeling of exhileration that comes from being part of a successful collaborative raid team that's kicking booty, it has been a great way to keep a toe in raiding on my favorite class, despite not having a schedule that could accommodate regular raiding with a guild.

I'm crossing my fingers, however, that we'll be able to do some 10-mans with Friend or Foe soon. I had the pleasure of finally completing Terrace of Endless Spring last night, thanks to two FoF tanks (/waves at Manglehaft), and can tell it would be a great experience to casually raid with those folks.

I haven't made much progress on the alts, other than getting the shaman to 90 a few weeks ago. I mean to be leveling my boomkin, but I mostly want to play my shadow priest. No, my Alliance shadow priest. Not, you-know-who. She's still hoveringaround at 85, trying to figure out if there's anyone left to play with on Bronzebeard...

me and my Shafiend


Mists of Pandaria Factions to Grind for Shadow Priests

It takes hard work and perserverance to look this cute!

With the bazillions of dailies one could complete in support of raising your faction high enough with them in order to purchase something useful, there's one thing for certain: You've GOT TO prioritize! If you try to grind out all the factions at once, you'll quickly burn out and retreat to the safety of the pet battles. And collecting all the pets. Ahem.

As previously noted, I only ever really stick with and play my spellcasters. Hence this guide focusing on factions you'll want your shadow priest to rep up with in order to improve your gear. Note that I am including both +hit and spirit caster pieces. However, many of the spirit pieces have mastery as a stat, which is your least desireable stat. Keep that in mind when choosing which piece you want. Of course, if you want to use items for a healing offspec in addition to shadow, the spirit gear would be the way to go.

As a reminder, your shadow priest stat priority is:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Spell Hit (obtained with Hit or Spirit) will enable your spells to not miss on bosses
  3. Haste (aiming for 19.03% to earn 2 extra ticks of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague)
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery

I'm leaving the Tillers and The Anglers for another post since their rewards are fun and benefit your cooking and fishing professions, but are not factions that reward gear for improving your gameplay. Ditto for the Lorewalkers and Order of the Cloud Serpent.

Golden Lotus

Revered status with the Golden Lotus faction will allow you to pick up quests pointing you to the daily quest hubs for Shaod-Pan and August Celestials.

Gear

Tailoring Patterns

Misc

 The August Celestials

To unlock the daily quests for this reputation, you must be Revered with Golden Lotus.

Gear

Enchanting Formulas

Misc

The Klaxxi

Per WoWhead, to grind rep with The Klaxxi, you'll have to do a lengthy Dread Wastes quest chain that starts with Psycho Mantid. Once you reach honored, you may obtain ~6 quests from the Elders you freed.

Gear

Misc

The Shado-Pan

To unlock the daily quest hub in Townlong Steppes, you must be Revered with Golden Lotus. Until then you can gain rep with the Sdhado-Pan by questing throughout Townlong Steppes.

Gear

Enchanting Formulas

Misc

 


I Have a Confession to Make...

Nothing like a team meeting to bring out some confessions...

I have a confession to make: I've been running around Pandaria, listening in on your deepest secrets. No -- really. You see, in the midst of my inscription research one day, I made a glyph of confession. And I couldn't resist the temptation of learning it myself instead of just making a few and selling them for profit.

The first player I targeted and cast the spell of confession upon told me: "I go into dungeons not to make Azeroth a better place, but just for loot."

Just as I'd expected! My fellow adventurers weren't really in it just for the thrill of adventure. I KNEW IT!

Inspired to learn more secrets, I targeted more adventurers standing around int he tavern. That mage in the flashy dress nursing a beer? They said: "I really wasn't prepared. Who knew?"

Ha! You probably mooched a ton of fish feasts off those of us who *were* prepared, missy!

That other shadow priest though, they were the one I really wanted to find out more about. Casually, I shifted out of shadow form for a moment and stopped to talk to the bartender. Then, when I was sure they weren't paying any attention to little gnomey me, I cast the spell and learned: "I have stood in the fire."

Woah. Really? You just..stood there? For shame! You could have at least dispersed! Bah!

I stood there pondering this for a moment, when out of nowhere I saw myself saying "I never use the lightwell."

Quickly glancing around, I looked for that sneaky shadowpriest. And sure enough, he was targeting me. Beaten at my own game by a fellow shadow priest! Oh, the humanity!


This post inspired by the most recent Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.


What to Wear: the Shadow Priest's Guide to Mists of Pandaria Heroic Gear

Note: to jump in to the Heroic difficulty Mists of Pandaria max level dungeons at level 90, you will need a minimum ilvl of 435. If you don't quite meet that minimum, check out my guide to pre-heroic gear.

Know your priorities

First things first, get to know your stat priority:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Spell Hit (obtained with Hit or Spirit) will enable your spells to not miss on bosses
  3. Haste (aiming for 19.03% to earn 2 extra ticks of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague)
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery

Gem Appropriately

Maximize Your Enchants

 Heroic Dungeon Gear

You may obtain ilvl 463 gear (and a few epic pieces) from the following max level Heroic dungeons:

Note that I am not leavng out items with mastery despite it being our least effective stat.  I've called out hit and spirit on pieces, and the few epics. Here's what you can take home from these dungeons if the RNG is in your favor:


What to Wear: the Shadow Priest's Guide to Pre-Heroic Mists of Pandaria Dungeon Gear

To jump in to the Heroic difficulty Mists of Pandaria max level dungeons at level 90, you will need a minimum ilvl of 435. I've compiled your sources for getting the gear you need to beat or exceed that minimum.

Know your priorities

First things first, get to know your stat priority:

  1. Intellect
  2. 15% Spell Hit (obtained with Hit or Spirit) will enable your spells to not miss on bosses
  3. Haste (aiming for 19.03% to earn 2 extra ticks of Shadow Word: Pain and Devouring Plague)
  4. Crit
  5. Mastery

Gem Appropriately

Maximize Your Enchants

 And now, onto the Gear!

The following ilvl 450 gear can be obtained from the later leveling instances, Mogu'shan Palace (MP) and ilevel 435 gear from Shado-Pan Monastery (SPM) so be sure to queue up as you go!

 

 


It's the Little Things...Like the Wanderer's Festival

WAnderer's Festival lights up Turtle Beach

I continue to be impressed with all the little things that have made this expansion so compelling for me. And the Wanderer's Festival is one of them.

 My guildie Ada sounded the alarm and was kind enough to schlep my shaman, who didn't have any of the Karasang Wilds flightpaths, to Turtle Beach for the event. As we arrived, we noticed a number of floating candles on the water. Then slowly but surely Pandarans strolled onto the beach, in their finest festive garb. And everyone celebrated with fireworks and beer. Our old friends LI Li and Chen Stormstout were there (Chen brought a keg, natch.) And ada was lucky enough to pet battle and capture an uncommon pet that only spawns during this event -- the Wanderer's Festival Hatchling (level 24). And we all earned the achievement Wanderers, Dreamers, and You.

Take part in the Wanderer's Festival on your server to see the magic for yourself first hand. The Wanderer's Festival happens every Sunday at Turtle Beach, Krasarang Wilds from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. server time. Hope to see you there!


Friday Five: Five Ways to Make the Most of the Start of the Expansion

Snakedriver, leader of the Pandaria Shadow Fan Brigade!

Many months and blog posts ago, I was in the habit of doing pretty regular Friday Fives...posts with 5 common factors or thoughts pertaining to my adventures in the World of Warcraft. I'm bringing back that tradition today, with five ways to make the most of the start of the expansion.

  1. Finish every zone of new content. Now, this doesn't have to be on one character mind you. Because presumably you are interested in hitting 90 and having your heroic ilvl gear and unlocking dailies and the like, and probably don't want to hit 90 while still in the Wilds. I'm personally trying to pick different zones to complete on the characters I am leveling right now fro some variety.
  2. Don't feel obligated to do all the dailies. Just because your profession has a daily doesn't mean you have to bankrupt yourself every day to do it. Ditto for the level 90 dailies. Yes, you want perks from the various factions. But you shouldn't take 40 dailies and then bemoan the grind of dailies. Show some restraint! Focus on the faction that is most important to your end game goals and set a reasonable/tolerable number of dailies to keep moving towards your goals.
  3. Stop and queue for the leveling dungeons as you go. Not only is it more fun to learn the boss mechanics at the regular mode level, you can earn yourself some shiny ilvl 435 and ilvl 450 gear, to get you closer to the heroics ilvl requirement. I'm only level 88 and have ilvl 420 so far as a result of my dungeon queuing. And as a bonus, these dungeons have quests with some solid XP, and gear rewards that will make your leveling that much less painful.
  4. ...But queue for dungeons with your guildies and your Battletag friends in tow. Yes, it's easy to just hop into LFD solo, but chances are you know plenty of other folks who want to get in on that as well. So why not use that as an opportunity to get to know one of your guildies or one of your Battletag friends a little better? It's a lot more fun trying out a new dungeon with a buddy at your side.
  5. Give yourself permission to try something new. I've seen a number of folks who poo-poo'd the Battle Pets minigame as "Pokewow" who have come clean with their new obsession with pet battles. But they wouldn't have known how much fun they had with it if they hadn't given it a try. Give yourself permission to try out a new spec, or a new profession, or a new aspect of game play. You just might find something that you love doing in game.

What are *your* tips for making the most of the start of the expansion? Share 'em in the comments!

P.S. Comments are screened and TypePad doesn't seem to notify submitters of that but rest assured I receive them and approve them.


My First Week with Mists of Pandaria...and I'm Loving it!

weeeee! tiny shadow gnome  on incredibly huge Jade Dragon...

I know it's not officially been a week since launch, but frankly I'm having such a great time with the expansion I felt compelled to write about it now versus waiting another couple of days.

Jumping right in, despite having attained a few levels in the BETA, on my horde shadow priest, since the Jade Forest intro quest was bugged for me at that time, I didn't quest there at all. Which means all the content has felt fresh as a daisy which is exactly how you want to start of on a new leveling path.

I've been splitting my time between my elemental shaman on one server and my shadow priest on another server. I realize this is not maximum efficient usage of my limited game time, but it's been nice to get to spend time in both guilds and playing two characters I'm really enjoying.

I was not sure how WoW questing was going to stack up after having been such a fan of the immersive storytelling in SWTOR. I've been enjoying having the quest chains be broken up here and there with some immersive storytelling, and cu scenes, even though I can't make any choices or have a direct impact on the story. It's still a step in the right direction and is a nice change from the old school wall of text quests.

A few things I love:

  • Watching peeps in guild chat, every few hours, earlier in the week, type out: "Socks! Noooooo!" 
  • The pretty clothes for my cloth-wearers, and the nice looking mail for my shaman. Gone are the days of looking terrible, unless you are equipping the tailoring gear I am making...
  • Even as DPS getting in to LFD in a reasonable amount of time. Or perhaps I am just having enough fun out and about questing that I don't notice the wait that much.
  • Professions have been moderately expensive to level but not impossible. I have enchanting, inscription and jewelcrafting maxed, with tailoring and alchemy up-and-coming.

A few things that are bugging me:

  • I need a toy chest for all the toys and trinkets that do things like summon a raccoon friend! They're taking up all my bag space!
  • I want my farm to grow things faster! I have many things to grow for my Pandaren Cooking. Can't I buy some EZ-Grow mulch from the goblins? No?
  • I made the tailoring set for my poor neglected horde shadow priest and she looks absolutely ridiculous. WTB a dress please!
  • Every LFD run I have done has had at least 1 incident of the boss lockout. It's never resulted in the group not completing the boss so far mind you. But people need to keep up with the group and not ninja AFK! ;p
  • I think I may need to purchase a new bank slot for the banker to hold on to all the cooking materials. I've cleared one tab for it, but I just don't think that will be enough...

What about you? How's your first week of the expansion going so far?


Too Many Pets?!?!?

WoWScrnShot_092512_180203

So far, it's been pretty smooth sailing for me with the Mists of Pandaria launch. The ship quest line worked fine, as did questing w/Wrenz cross-server (since we both want to play our shadow priets atm.) Only one small issue cropped up for me last night, right after receiving Mr Fishy, a new companion pet. I went to learn him and was faced with the most horrible text I have ever seen:

Can't add companion to your account.
You have too many pets.

WTF?!?!?!?

510 pets is too many pets? But I don't see any duplicate pets I can cage and sell or give away. What is going on here?

Determined to figure this out, I went to the pet battle trainer to see if she could help. I learned pet battling and accepted her quest then opened my journal again. Still not seeing how man of each pet. So, I picked one I knew I had too many of, the blue dragonhawk, and searched for it. Sure enough, I got a list (by searching dragonhawk) that showed every individual occurrence of dragonhawk in my pet hournal.

I started right clicking on and choosing "put in cage" for each of the duplicates, to clean up my pet journal. The good news is since these are pets that are sold individually, they are able to be caged and sold (well, if anyone wants them.) Many other pets require that you set them free to get rid of your duplicates

And here is the happy ending to my story, my new friend, Mr Fishy!:

WoWScrnShot_092612_080625
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Getting Settled In Guild Wars 2

Gw042

I've been playing Guild Wars 2 daily since the headstart, and am starting to get my sea legs.

I've been making slow but expensive progress through my crafting professions. Cloth is still slow to come by but I am keeping my tailoring a bit ahead of my character leveling on the whole. Ditto for the artifice. The cooking is not so much at level, and outrageously expensive, but the diverse creations that come out of the discovery mechanism for it are so much fun to shoot for, especially now that we have the Good with Beer GW2 cooking helper tool.

I've also been making nice progress with my alt ranger -- she's already 22! It's fun to explore in search of new pets to add to her team, and I am amazed at how much she and her pet can take on together successfully.

And now that the auction house is up more reliably I have made a few sales. But It is curious to see how many people put items up for the same amount at which you can sell them to a vendor. Oh well, more salvage for the crafting collections...

And finally, our original guild has apparently been restored so all our 200+ members can see it and represent it, after it being in limbo and inaccessible for most of the time since the headstart weekend.

All that said, I'm taking a mini break from the game for a few weeks to give it time to continue to settle. You see, in addition to the issues I wrote about last time, my SO and I hit a nice big new bug: his class quest, which he and I had been doing together since we're both Asura in the 30s, bugged out. As in it told him his next step is a level 48 quest. As in, he is no longer able to get credit for completing the quests with me.

As you may expect, he creaeted a support account and put in a support ticket (I don't at all get why you need to make a new account for support btw). It was answered in a timely manner, but with a generic copy/paste reply about quests not completing that seemed to indicate the correspondent either did not read or did not udnerstand his ticket. Now, if the respondent didn't understand, they should have asked for clarifying details/more information. But they didn't -- they closed out the ticket. And they haven't replied on twitter to me about that (or anything I've asked themabout on twitter) either.

Yes, my SO could just scrap this character and start over as a workaround for the bug. But what if it hits again? And why should he have to scrap 30+ levels of playing and all that crafting, for a workaround that could possibly lead to this exact same outcome? ugh. NO THANK YOU! So perhaps by giving the game a timeout, the issue will eventuall be resolved by ArenaNet. If not, it's not like we didn't get some value from the game purchase-- just not as much as we'd expected to. And that's OK. Because I am a little tired of the grind of killing the same mobs over and over and over again. SO this break should do me good.

TTYL GW2.


It's the Little Things That Charm Me So...

Can she keep this forsaken firefighter rig forever please?

No, I don't just mean the gnomes. Tho clearly, I have been charmed by the gnomes.

I'm talking about the small details that make some of the Cataclysm lowbie quests give you a grin. Like this Forsaken firefighting backpack apparatus. It's so functional and yet so stylish! I didn't want to turn in my quest and give it up, but I also wanted to progress through the Ironforge airport story, so in the end I did surrender it. Alas, I do not hitnk this one will be ready for Hallow's End and trying to get a similar Forsaken gas tank of her very own. But perhaps she'll go for one of the blue water tanks that @Rades wrote about obtaining.

For the record, this little gnome is a shadow priest. I plan to level her through some of the Cataclysm content I haven't run an alt through yet, aling with a heavy side of LFD. What's truly fun though is looking at every piece of gear she gets as a drop and thinking "Transmog y/n/murloc?" Good times.

What is a little thing that's recently charmed YOU in Azeroth?


BA Shared Topic: What spell would I most want?

Boomkins on dragons forever!

This week's blog Azeroth shared topic asks: "What spell would you most want?" It was inspired by the fact that in the upcoming Mist of Pandaria expansion, Druids will be getting a new spell called Symbiosis, which will allow them to "trade" a spell with another player, based on the player’s class and combat role and the Druid’s specialization.

This one was a no brainer for me-- I'll be crossing my fingers that I always have a shadow priest in my party so I can borrow their Mind Sear. Now, its tooltip doesn't make it sound like all that: "Causes an explosion of shadow magic around the target, causing 152 to 163 (+ 15% of SpellPower) Shadow damage every 1 sec for 5 sec to all enemies within 10 yards around the target." But what it DOESN'T MENTION is that you do, in fact, create a shadowy purple explosion of damage in a large circle around your intended victim. Purpley bolts of doom for everyone!

When I play my boomkin, it's always the mind sear button I try to reach for, from the many hours of shadow priesting and the joy that spell has brought me in so many dungeons and raids and city leader strikes. If my druid had it in her arsenal, it would be her go-to AOE spell. And her targets would never see it coming...

What about you? What spell would you seek out?


Guild Wars 2 Headstart Hiccups

 

Gw035

As comes to a surprise to no one, I've spent the better part of the last 3 days playing in the Guild Wars 2 Headstart. Above you can see my Asura Elementalist, who is only level 15. This is due not to my lacking game time or playing too many other alts. Rather, it's a direct result of some of the hiccups the game has had since Friday night's soft launch to prepurchasers such as myself.

I was online and ready to go at 9 PT on Friday when ArenaNet brought up the servers, which impressed the heck out of me. Earlier in the week we'd heard servers might be up as early as then but I don't think anyone was expecting them to be ready to go at exactly that hour. Over Vent, I was hearing issues from a number of players regarding login troubles and guild invites not being received (or being received but they could not see themselves in the guild roster. I was happy to not have any of those issues, and to snag most of the names I wanted on my home server.

My intention had been to play until midnight with Wrenz, but the grouping/phase/overflow issues we started having almost immediately, including one that kept Wrenz from being able to move his Asura out of the initial instanced quest, and coupled with game crashing lag in the overflow KO'd that plan. Instead I set up my alts, put a few small items up  in the trading post and logged out after about an hour, planning to get in some serious crafting and exploring time over the weekend. At this point, I was just super happy that we got our characters rolled on our server before it filled up, which happened by about 9:40.

 When I logged back in on Saturday morning, I was disappointed to find that we'd ended up with a playing experience that had reverted to the issues we'd had in the first BETA weekend, rather than the smooth playing that had set the tone for the last two BETA weekend events. Specific issues that kept cropping up include:

  • Mail not reaching its recipient. Happening both if the player was online and mail was sent from the contacts window or from typing in the person's name in the mail window.
  • Trading post not available. This led to full bank and bags and my scavenging a vast number of items I would have otherwise sold on the trading post, such as blue quality gear and weapons. It also put me at a bit of an impasse with my professions, since at one point everything needed vials of blood, which I would have purchased on the trading post. Luckily for me, last night twitter came to the rescue in the form of one of my tweeps sending me a stack of blood (thanks Scott!)
  • Join in not working. This is supposed to allow you to get into the same phase/server as your party member. But I kept having it not work, or worse yet-- not show up as an option. This meant Wrenz and I, although in the same guild and on the same server and playing in the same Asura lands often could not actually play togther (or see each other in the game world tho our little dots were right next to each other on the mini map.
  • Game not sure what character I was playing. By this I mean to other players, and to my guild roster, last night, it thought I was on my level 8 Norn ranger, in Hobrek. Over the weekend it kept thinking I was on a level 2. Not only did this prevent folks from thinking I was available to play with in the area I was in, it was on these occasions that I was not able to be grouped up with. Similarly, the game kept thinking Wrenz was on his level 2 human, instead of his Asura, which is quite likely one of the causes of our grouping bugs.
  • Buggy overflow server. By midday Saturday it started to feel like there was more than overflow for the Asura starting lands on our server, since I could be in overflow playing with Wrenz, walk a few yards away then POOF! No longer be able to see him in game and vice versa without either of us having gotten a message that we'd been moved, and no ability to Join in to get back in the same phase.
  • Gathering tools gone missing. Perhaps one of the oddest bugs was last night logging in to find my elementalist was unable to gather wood due to not having any tools equipped. Having just bought her a stack of lumber axes the night before, and still having plenty mining picks, I was unsure as to what had happened with the 88+ she logged out with. I went and bought more and moved on, but it was a bit of a pain since it cost time to go to a vendor, as well as cash to travel there, the latter being in much shorter than usual supply due to the lack of the trading post.
After we got past the debilitating lag of the first night, the game was beautiful and playable...in a solo fashion. But not so much from a crafting perspective. And certainly not from the perspective of wanting to experience the first blush of this new MMO with my SO. I am bummed for the folks who got swept up in GW2 fever that prepurchased and had not had the chance to play one of the flawless BETA weekends. I've seen a number of them having already thrown up their hands and gone back to SWTOR/WoW/TSW.

Inevitably, one of you is starting to formulate your reply, along the lines of "haven't you ever been in a launch noob. you have too high of expectations." Well let me save you the trouble of typing that (it won't be unscreened if you do): I had the pleasure of playing in SWTOR's headstart this past Winter and it had absolutely none of these issues. Other than Windows barfing on my Mac keyboard a bit, it was every bit as smooth as I could have hoped.

This weekend's GW2 headstart, on the other hand, was pretty frustrating, and was more akin to some of the game breaking WoW patches and expansions (hello Burning Crusade and HFP lag of doom and rolling restarts!) of many years past. I am hoping that GW2 gets over these small hurdles quickly. The Guild Wars fans who have been waiting years for this game will put up with these issues as minor annoyances, but those who are new to the franchise might not.

Overall, I still have high hopes for this game. My Asura elementalist is adorable and I am enjoying my Norn ranger. Once I am able to fully take advantage of the trading post and get my economy mini game going, I know I'll be back on track to being the raving fan I expected to be. See you in game...

PS as always comments are screened. Rest assured constructive comments will be unscreened as soon as possible.


My Shadow Priests' Patch 5.0 Talents and Changes in Playstyle

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Now that I have my glyph choices squared away, I thought it was time to share the direction I'm heading with talents for my shadow priests* since we're about to have Patch 5.0 land upon all of us, bringing us into this new talent world order.

It quite honestly feels odd, after years of playing, to have so few talents to choose from. Luckily, that marries well to the limited amount of time I've had to screw around in the BETA to see which ones I'd most like to have in the live game.

Tier 1, Level 15

Despite how tempting it would be to have a tentacle monster forest at my beck and call to root down my enemies (i.e. Void Tendrils), I went with the Psyfiend here. It's fabulous fun to have a shrieking little friend causing my enemies to flee in terror. What's not to love?

Tier 2, Level 30

Since this is my leveling build, I've gone with Phantasm. It allows you to remove damaging effects and disencumber yourself by hitting fade. The other real possibility in this tree, Angelic Feather, will go in my second build, to be invoked if I have a raid situation that needs the extra speed for allies.

Tier 3, Level 45

Given how much I love my shadowfiend, turning her into an exquisitely evil and more frequently deployable mana regen machine by choosing Mindbender was a no brainer for me.It will be interesting to see if Shadow Word: Insanity ends up being more DPS or not (that all being relative depending upon one's ability to watch DoTs and CDs and react accordingly).


Tier 4, Level 60

This tier is all about self-preservation. Since I am tired of having way too many rarely-used "oh shit" spells crowding up my bars, I went with Angelic Bulwark which will passively try to save me from anything terrible I stumble into by shielding me and regenning health.

Tier 5, Level 75

My first look at Twist of Fate was initially due to it being an old friend name and icon-wise. But it stayed in my talent tree due to it being a nice passive DPS boost on low health targets. I'll pop Power Infusion into my second shadow build, which is intended to be more suitable for raiding, as the increased haste and mana regen on demand could definitely come in handy.

Tier 6, Level 90

Since I haven't gotten to 90 in the BETA (and frankly, I don't want to ruin all the surprises or get burnt out playing at max level before Live launches), I haven't yet gotten a chance to play with these talents yet. But they seem to be pretty interchangeable from their descriptions and what I've read from other BETA-goers. I thnk I'll go with Divine Star on my leveling build and Cascade (with its higher mana cost) to my raiding build.

Changes to Shadow Priest Playstyle Along with the Patch

Give up any latent thoughts you may have of trying to keep your old rotation in the new frontier of 5.0 and beyond. It simply won't be possible. Here's why:

  • Mind Flay no longer refreshes Shadow Word: Pain. You have to manually keep an eye on it and refresh as needed.
  • Devouring Plague now requires shadow orbs instead of mana. Ideally, you'll want to wait for all 3 orbs to be present to get the most plague for your buck.
  • You build up shadow orbs through damaging targets with Mind Blast or Shadow Word: Death. The latter can generate 2 orbs if it is the killing blow on your target.

What this means for your rotation is you'll now need to keep a closer eye on your Vampiric Touch and Shadow Word Pain (my favorite DoT timer for helping with that in the past has been Need to Know) and refresh them at the last possible moment. You'll want to use Mind Blast every time it is off cooldown, Devouring Plague every time you have 3 orbs available, and fill in with Mind Flay when nothing else is up. And don't forget to deploy your Mindbender/Shadowfiend early and often. When dealing with a group of 4 or fewer mobs, you'll want to DoT with VT and SW:P and DPS down the main target, using plain old Mind Sear instead of DoTs for groups of 4 or more.

I have long loved using my Devouring Plague and being a DoT machine. But I am OK with the changes in my rotation that are coming with this patch. I'll blame that easy going stance on having been a long-time boomkin as well. Adapting to all of their changes over the years, and feeling in a way I can't quite put my finger on that this new shadow priest playstyle is more cosmicly linked to boomkininess, is giving me a purple calmness. I'm looking forward to trying out the new talents and abilities in the next few weeks on my shadow priest ladies.

See you in game!

* That's not a typo. I have a gnome and a Forsaken shdow priest at max level tyvm.


Mists of Pandaria Shadow Priest Glyphs

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Believe it or not, Mists of Pandaria finally delivers upon the promise of making minor glyphs...fun! That's right, no more removing a reagent or adding some other utility function -- you now get to pick your minor glyphs based upon what looks fun to you, not what makes the most sense for your pocketbook and bag space. But I am getting a little ahead of myself here.

First of all, there are no more Prime glyph slots. Just a total of 6 glyphs, split between major and minor. For major glyphs, shadowpriests can choose from these spec-specific glyphs:

  • Glyph of Mind Spike -- 50% reduction in cast time of your next Mind Blast for 6 sec (stacks up to 2x)
  • Glyph of Mind Blast -- 4 sec stun on target when Mindflay critically hits
  • Glyph of Dark Binding -- can cast Prayer of Mending, Renew and Leap of Faith without leaving shadowform
  • Glyph of Shadow Word: Death -- can cast SW:D at any time, but only does 25% damage on targets above 20% health, and casting SW:D now damages you for the amount it would for damaging a target above 20% health
  • Glyph of Psychic Horror -- reduces cooldown by 10 sec
  • Glyph of Mind Flay -- no longer slows target; instead every time it does damage your movement speed is increased 15%, stacking up to 3x
  • Glyph of Vampiric Embrace -- converts an additional 50% of the damage you do into healing but reduces the duration by 5 sec

For leveling, I've chosen to go with Glyph of Dark Binding, Glyph of Mind Flay and Glyph of Mind Blast. I have to say I am not super enamored with the Mind Flay so if I find need for dispersion at 90, I may swap to that instead. I will also swap out the dark binding for Mind Spike at 90. If none of the above shadow specific glyphs appeal to you, you can choose from a glyph that buffs one of your utility spells. See Wowhead's full list of Priest Glyphs for details.

Minor glyphs of interest include:

I will give you one guess as to which glyph I will equip first...Of course I have always wanted little shadowy friends! And then there's the shadow ravens! How many times did I remark here and on twitter how shadow priests needed shadow ravens? TOO MANY TIMES! It's like playtime for Anexxia with those two combined. Though I should not that the shadow ravens do not have as much visible time as I would like. And some of my noncombat pets are not as awesome in shadowform as regular form. Hmmmph. So, I am most likely looking at Glyph of Confession, Glyph of Shadow Ravens and glyph of dark archangel, with bouts of Glyph oh Shadowy friends.

What's interesting to me, is none of these feel yet like "must take" glyphs, unlike previous go rounds with glyphs. It will be interesting to see if that is born out once the game hits live.


Getting Started with Guild Wars 2

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...a.k.a. Tips and Tricks for Players New to Guild Wars, With Other MMO Baggage

I resemble that above aside. Having played World of Warcraft for years, then becoming completely immersed in SWTOR, I have a lot of game mechanics and world logic baggage that I carried with me into Tyria -- but you don't have to! I've compiled the below as a guide to all the things you'll need to know and keep in mind as you start your adventures. And I hope to see some additions or questions from you in the comments...

Character Creation

  • Be mindful in answering your alignment questions. The way in which you answer the questions that come up after you've chosen your profession and customized your character will determine key parts of your story. If you end up playing more than one character of the same race, be sure to mix up your answers to provide some variation in your story.
  • Spend some time playing with dye color combinations for your starter gear set. These combinations will automatically be applied to new pieces of gear you equip as you go along (though you can go in and change the colors later.)

Your First Steps Into the World

  • Build up your weapon skills, one at a time, before venturing out too far into the world. Unlike other games, your weapon skills will vary by weapon type, and are learned via using the weapon in combat. You'll want to use your first weapon until you learn all the skills associated with it, then swap to your next available weapon once you have it. Note that each time you swap in a previously unused weapon type, you will start with only 1 weapon skill unlocked and have to grind out the remaining skills. The good news is you can do this on lower level mobs. The very best place is in the instanced starter zone.  Very low health mobs that die in 3 hits, and actually give quite a bit of XP.  You can even have a friend mail that toon all the starter weapons if you want to unlock them all.
  • You can buy inexpensive starter weapons from vendors or in the auction house. To preview the skills that accompany each weapon type, to help you decide which weapon you may want to  try out next, go to your Hero tab (h) and choose the skills and traits tab, then weapon skills.
  • Get accustomed to dodging attacks in addition to standing your ground to fight mobs. Unlike many other MMOs where you primarily stand your ground and fight, it's very helpful to actively try to move yourself out of the way of attacks, lest you be smashed into the ground like a bug. You can double-tap a movement key (WASD) to dodge out of the way, or you can keybind your dodge. And also be sure to use line-of-sight and kiting to your advantage to avoid for taking on more damage than you can survive.
  • Check your email often. You can pick up mail wherever you are in the world by clicking on your mail icon in your top navbar. After completing quests, you may receive a mail with some cash from an NPC you assisted. Be sure to click the "take all" button in your mail window to recover the items or gold attached to your mail messages.
  • Spend your karma points on item upgrades versus stockpiling karma. You'll find karma vendors while you are out questing-- be sure to take a look at what they have for sale, and spend your karma points with them to keep upgrading your gear as you go along.

Transportation and Navigation

  • Unlock every waypoint you see on your map (marked with a blue square). Waypoints are your primary mode of transportation around the map.
  • If you die, you'll need to rez at your nearest waypoint. Most unfortunately, this will cost you some of your gold. If you are very lucky, and you die in the midst of an event, you may be rezzed by a friendly player, but don't count on it!
  • Maps have multiple levels. If you can't seem to find the point you are looking for, check out other map layers to find your way to the point of interest. This especially holds true in the often multi-leveled cities.
  • Look for hearts on your map to figure out where to quest next. Hearts indicate there is a quest you can undertake in a specific area. To uncover hearts in a new unexplored area, talk to a scout (marked with binoculars on your map.) Upon completing a quest, you will receive some amount of gold and XP.
  • Look for orange skulls or other icons with an orange circle around them. These indicate areas with dynamic events that are currently in progress. You will get karma for completing these activities, with your reward (gold, XP, karma) depending upon your amount of effort on the task/boss kill relative to the other players taking part in it. Sometimes an additional dynamic event will spawn after the completion of another dynamic event so it can pay to stick around for a minute afterwards to see if there is a part two in which you can participate.
  • Look for overlapping red triangles for points with a pretty view of the area. These triangles indicate a vista point. Upon reaching the point, often through some jumping or tree climbing, you will be rewarded with a cinematic and a nice place in which to take a screenshot.
  • Instant waypoint travel via party chat. When out in the world with a group, you can shift-click on a waypoint to link it in chat.  You party members can double-click that link to travel directly to the waypoint.  Very handy for corralling a large group. (ty Manglehaft!)

Crafting, Gathering and Auctioneering

  • No one can steal "your" gathering node. All players in the area with the appropriate gathering item (mining axe, logging axe, harvesting sickle) can tap a node. No more trading off with your party mates or seething in nerd rage over other players tapping a node while you're fighting the beasts that are guarding it!
  • The gathering tools are consumables that must be equipped, not permanent. Make sure to buy more from your friendly junk vendors whenever you are running low. And keep an eye on what you are harvesting-- as you move into higher level areas, you will need a better quality tool to gather successfully.
  • Gathering gives a significant XP boost. Our friend @zerena_hoofs accidently tested this in the last bwe; she didn’t buy tools, and by level 11 was two levels behind everyone else, the only variable being her not gathering. (thanks to Manglehaft for this reminder.)
  • Always keep salvage kits in your bags. Available for purchase from various city merchants, these kits are used to break down armor and weapons into crafting materials. This is a great way to cear out your bag slots of old or unsaleable gear you pick up, and generating crafting materials for your use or for sale in the Black Lion Trading Company auction house.
  • Right click on crafting materials to deposit them in your bank. Unrefined crafting materials can be deposited to your bank from anywhere you are in the world by right clicking and choosing "Deposit collectible." There is an option on the top right of the bag menu that allows you to “deposit all collectables” in two clicks (thanks Manglehaft and Psynister for the deposit all tip!)
  • You can sell and purchase items from the auctionhouse from anywhere in the world. However, to pick up the proceeds of an auction house sale, or an item you have purchased, you need to go to an auctioneer and pick it up from the pickup window.
  • You must be standing next to a crafting station to craft items. The crafting station window will also provide access to your bank so you can easily pull out items you need. If you run out of crafting materials for an item you are trying to make, you can right click on that item to search for it in the auction house. You will however have to go pick it up at the aucitoneer.
  • Keep your bags partially empty while crafting. Your crafted items have to go somewhere! You can either salvage them to recover some of the materials after you've made the item for a skill-up, or you can right click and sell them in the auciton house.
  • Pick your price for buying and selling. When looking to purchase an item, you can either buy a listed item or put in a bid for X amount of those items at your desired price. Similarly, if you have an item you'd like to sell, you can either meet or beat the list price for others of those items on the auction house, or if there are outstanding orders for those items at a specific price, you can choose to sell immediately to that buyer.
  • When pricing an item for sale, keep in mind that the auction house takes a 15% cut.

Miscellany

  • You can not mail items to yourself. To send an alt an item, you will either need to deposit it in the bank (your bank is account-wide not character specific) or mail it to a friend with whom you are questing.
  • You can not trade items with others. Instead you have to mail it to them. It's usually pretty fast, but still not the instant gratification of opening a trade window.
  • You're visible to folks who have you friends listed, regardless of which character you're on. This is nice for not having to keep track of altoholic friends. However, note that when you message someone in game, they'll just see the name of whatever character you're on, not your area.net name, and may in fact have no idea who you are. Luckily, if you want some alone gaming time, you can make yourself show as invisible, as though you are not online, on the login screen.
  • Shift+click to link an item in chat.
  • No one can steal your quest mob/loot. As long as you do some damage to a mob, you will attain credit for the kill, and have your own loot assigned. Note that if you are in a party, your party may still have to roll against each other for loot.
  • Turn on auto loot. Go to general options + interactions and check the auto loot button.

How the Mists of Pandaria BETA Renewed my Interest in WoW

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I've been on a World of Warcraft hiatus this year. No one was surprised to see it coming, including me, given my responses to my own 2011Year in WoW review. But I kept an eye out for BETA information of interest, and still read BETA related posts that came across my twitter feed. At about the time pet battles were implemented into the BETA, my interest in the changes, and the new content, reached a fever pitch and I happily was given a BETA key (thank you again @Krizhek!) with which to play and see if my love for WoW would be rekindled. And it was.

Of course, my love for my shadow priest Anexxia confounds the empirical evidence on this mind you. She's my favorite MMO character of all time. And I missed her. So she does give me somewhat purple-tinted glasses for the expansion.

That said, however, poking around and exploring all the new areas, and fishing up the many fish that reside there, learning Pandaren cooking, and even getting started with my own Tiller's kitchen garden got me really revved up about playing WoW again. So much so that I reactivated my live account to start looking around for some new active guilds in which to play. Because I want to be ready to go when the pre-expansion activities hit.

I think the key to what grabbed me in the expansion, in addition to missing playing my shadow priest, is how so many of the little things I enjoyed doing (fishing, cooking, collecting mini pets) now are such a bigger part to the game (or better integrated with each other in the case of the cooking/fishing/gardening.) I am not sure that I will even roll a monk at all, but I will definitely have a blast making my way through all of the new scenery in Pandaria.

What about you-- are you planning to play once the expansion hits?


Getting Ready for Guild Wars 2: Required Reading

Now that we've entered the final countdown to Guild Wars 2's release, it's time to start thinking through your plans for launch (and headstart.) And I've found a few great resources to help you get started...

Planning Your Cash Shop Spend

Picking Your Profession

  • Guild Wars 2 Hub's Profession Guides. Nice overview of each profession's playstyle, list of weapons you can use, and tips for each class.  
  • GW2DB Skills list. Now, if you want to start getting into the nitty gritty of the skills available to your profession with each weapon, you'll want to spend some time poking around Zam's database. Here's the elementalist skills list as an example.

Crafting

  • The official wiki is your best source for accurate and comprehensive crafting information. You can get an overview of crafting and then dive in to detailed crafting materials information.
  • IGN's GW2 Wiki has a nice crafting section, including recommendations for which professions are best suited to which crafting skills.

And after today's stress test, I'll be back soon with my getting started guide...


I'm a Boomkin Biker Babe, Don't 'ya Know It!

Badass Boomkin Biker babe
Badass Boomkin Biker babe


In perhaps one of my most significant BETA findings to date, I've discovered that my boomkin is now able to ride her mounts whilst in Boomkin form!

That's right -- your eyes are not deceiving you.

And it's not limited to ground mounts either. Here I am on my Headless Horseman's Mount:

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And now back to your regularly scheduled programming...

xo Anexxia


Why Hello There, Shadow Priesty Lady...

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I wasn't expecting to be posting a screenshot of my shadow priest exploring in the new Pandaren lands. But here we are. All thanks to my twitter buddies Psynister, who was helping me think of a way in, and Krizhek (tytyty!)who was so kind as to give me a BETA key.

Welcome back, Anexxia, I really missed you.

And stay tuned to hear about all the shadow priest changes, pet battles, Pandaren Cooking and more.

xoxo


Getting Together a Guild Wars 2 Blog Roll

Hot on the heels of my Guild Wars 2 twitter list, I've started getting my Guild Wars 2 blogroll together as well.Here's what I have so far...

Official Sites

Individual Bloggers

Fansites

  • Crossing Tyria
    Substantial forums and a front page keeping you up-to-date on Guild Wars 2 fansites' news
  • Dragon Season
    This fansite has an international audience, featuring content in Greek as well as English
  • GuildMag
    This fansite supports a podcast and a magazine, and is hosting a blog carnival on the topic of 5 years of waiting for GW2
  • Guild Wars 2 Guru
    Solid GW2 fansite from curse.com
  • Guild Wars 2 Hub
    A nice community section, and a number of guides worth checking out
  • Guild Wars 2 Journal.
    Forums, general and class-specific guides and a healthy news page are primary draws
  • Guild Wars 2 Junkies
    Fansite with news and video from the folks that also bring you Forcejunkies and Riftjunkies
  • Guild Wars 2 Life
    Part of the mmorpglife site, with a number of guides including locations for obtaining crafting materials
  • Guildwars2 Live
    Livestreaming is a focus here, with a busy public calendar of upcoming streaming events
  • Guild Wars 2 Skills Build Editor
    ALthough the bulk of this site is in Russian, the build editor tool is in English and is well wroth checking out.
  • Guild Wars 2 Wikia site
  • Guildwars Insider
    Not only do they support forums, a podcast and a good selection of posts on lore, they also have a turntable.fm station
  • GW2DB
    Guild Wars 2 database site created by curse.com with entries for recipes, items, achievements, maps, guild upgrades, and talent calculators
  • GWOnline.net
    In addition to news and forums, there is a significant video library fueld by community members' contributions
  • IGN's Guild Wars 2 Wiki
    A nice user-friendly and easy-to-browse framework for a community-sourced wiki, but still has a number of pages needing to be fleshed out.
  • Talk Tyria
    This community-focused fansite has a diverse group of contributors, covering everything from lore to professions
  • Team Legacy
    Focusing on PvP, strong content (and feeds) for video guides and PvP action
  • The Tyrian Order
    In addition to forums and live streaming, a professions codex and a visual encyclopedia in their "database hub" make this site worth a visit

Let me know other individual bloggers and fansites I should add!


My Recent Adventures in Guild Wars 2

Wrenz and I exploring scenic vistas in Guild Wars 2

I've spent this past weekend doing some additional exploration of the beautiful world of Guild Wars 2. This was my third and final BETA weekend participation. Now I just have to sit and wait impatiently for the game to launch next month. Very impatiently. I'm still enjoying SWTOR, but I've become charmed by GW2 and want to spend some time exploring all its new places.

I was excited that they gave us the ability to play Asura this time, as I had been looking forward to play the adorable wee creatures. I am, after all, a huge fan of the gnomes in World of Warcraft. The other big addition to this BETA weekend was the addition of the scenic vistas, most of which are accessible via platform jumping or scaling up vine-wrapped architectural supports.

I am not terribly good at figuring out the datacrons in odd places in SWTOR, but so far, I have been able to get to all the scenic vistas I've spotted on my map in GW2. Granted, I've not gotten past level 13 due to all my race and class jumping around so perhaps they ratchet the difficulties up a few notches as you get to higher levels. In addition to a small amount of XP, accessing a vista rewards you with a cutscene that is a sweeping view of the area your character can see from their vantage point.

Charr mesmer

 My first weekend of playing I spent the bulk of my time on the Charr Mesmer you see above. Although fundamentally I don't think Mesmer is the right class for me (as weapon swapping and dodging out of the way of damage is not something that comes naturally to me), I am a big fan of the beautiful Charr and will definitely be playing at least one of them through to the end of their story.

 I recall being a little frustrated while playing the first two weekends with the difficulty in keeping my professions leveled up in synch with my character's level. This was due in part to not having had much luck selling items in the auction house. This weekend on the other hand, I was able to offload many items in the auction house, and thus could afford to purchase the supplies I needed to level up artifice and tailoring on one character to 25 skill. While this didn't quite mean that I was keeping up with my ability to make gear at my own level, I did still craft a piece or two for myself to wear, so overall I'm good with its progress. Additionally, it seems as though the quest rewards have possibly gone up a little bit. I am just not finding myself as cash strapped as I did in the earlier BETA weekends. And that is a very good thing!

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I briefly played around with a Sylvari Ranger and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed a ranger class for a change. I can't say that I've had the best luck in the past with them, but in the name of trying out all my ranged options, I had rolled one this weekend. I like that GW2 makes it easier to manage your pet's health -- when they need healing they limp up to you so you can take care of them -- no searching through a monster-infested bog to see where Mr. Whiskers expired!

I'm not sure I can say that the Sylvari grew on me (no pun intended.) It was nivec that Wrenz and I chose different options on character creation, so we were able to see two of the forms the character story can go depending upon some of the alignments chosen. But overall the plant people are just not sucking me in to their story. Perhaps they just take a little bit longer to charm you than the Asura and Charr.

Rather than starting a new blog to capture my Guild Wars 2 adventures, I think I'll just work them in here. And once the World of Warcraft Mists od Pandaria expansion launches and I pop into that for a while, you'll see that here as well. Hope to see you in game!

P.S. leave me your GW2 player name so I can add you to my friends list!