PB’s & LBR’s

Last night was the first Laid Back Raid since the new expansion came out.  I wasn’t sure what the turn out would be, but it wasn’t too big of an issue due to the scheduled Ahn’Qiraj raids.  We actually ended up with about ten people.  We flew through the ruins in no time, which wasn’t really much of a surprise.  Even the temple itself posed no challenge against the likes of Dragonray, Repgrind, Arvash, and more.  But, for the first time since we started doing Laid Back Raids, one of the rare mount drops actually fell as the Red Bug dropped!  If that wasn’t a surprise, the fact several of our members already had it sure was.  That lowered the odds and in the end it was won by Delgadita!  We were most excited for her (and rather jealous just the same).

The whole Qiraji adventure took less than an hour.  So, since it was still early (and I knew at least two people in the raid hadn’t done it) I offered up a trip to see Illidan.  Mrs. Amateur is still seeking the second glaive, and as such that is the only item I ever put on reserve.  We lost one or two, but gained one so our numbers were still a fun sized group.  We tore through Black Temple with the greatest of ease.  No glaive this time, though I did notice a plethora of recipes drop on this run (more so than usual).

Prior to the raid night itself, I could be found doing what everyone else is doing: Pet Battles.  I had said a few days ago they were more enjoyable than expected…but the damn things are like digital crack.  Every where I turn my Real ID is full of people talking about and collecting pets.  Some are out and about at strange hours, hoping for rare spawns.  Others are just trying to knock off the achievements.  Some, like myself, are just fattening their collection first and then finessing it later with rares and such.

Now, when you find a standard pet like a Dung Beetle, there is no way of knowing it’s rarity beforehand.  During combat itself, however, you can get an idea if it’s rare.  Navimie wrote a great explanation on how a simple mouse-over can tell you whether a creature is worth taming or putting an end to.  I can confirm firsthand this trick works as it literally helped me snag my first rare -a Fledgling Buzzard I subsequently named Toomes.  Bonus points if you catch the reference.

In the standard pet battles, the Spirit of Competition is ridiculously good.  I can take down most creatures up to two levels higher and when there’s two of the same level it’s almost always a breeze (unless it gets charmed for three rounds by a stupid frog or toad).  In PvP pet battles, it’s a significantly different story.  Thus far I am 1-2 and in one of my losses I got beat by an Azure Whelpling.  Not a team that included an Azure Whelpling, just the whelpling itself.  I got it down to 108 health and that was it.

Also, undead pets I have discovered are fun.  Obviously they’re a bit underpowered, but they have to be because when they’re KO’d they rise back up for a single round where they are completely immune to everything.  I made the discovery with Hoodoo, my Voodoo Figurine.  I’ve had both he and Lil’ K.T. use this ability to mean the difference between a win and a loss.

*sigh* Yeah, I’m as hooked as anyone else is.

Just Hangin’ Out

The weekend that was, was a rather enjoyable one.  We kicked things off Friday with a drive down to Toronto and an unexpected stay overnight (next time, no Amateur Jr at the hotel..oi!).  The main purpose of going down Friday was to join Cheetah Dave (aka Killthryn for my fellow Laid Back Raiders) his son (and guildmate Wontan), and the rest of the family as they were up from the US.  Mrs. Amateur commented how great it was to finally meet them, and I argued we weren’t meeting as far as I saw.  Granted, we’d never sat face to face before…but it certainly wasn’t a first meeting.  And, no, in our infinite wisdom nobody took a picture.

I managed to take a picture on Saturday night, however.  There’s Tome’s Warlock on her spankin’ new Yellow Qiraji mount.  As I promised her, she ended up with the Green, Blue, and Yellow mounts during our Laid Back Raids of Ahn’Qiraj.  We had a great turnout again and I know Repgrind was rather happy to get a shield that dropped.  Even I snagged a pair of Enchants I didn’t have (one of which Siori still needs).  The Horde turned out for a great run, and I believe continued on to Black Temple after the Amateurs and Tome called it a night.

I then had the grand opportunity last night of sitting down with Hydra and Fimlys over at Twisted Nether to chat it up.  We discussed a good number of topics, and I stuck around to join them in looking at the news for the week.  I had forgotten there wasn’t a show last week so it was nice being on when it came time to discuss the Mists release date and even more so to discuss Need More Rage coming to an end this past week.  It was a humble experience to be invited onto the show, and hopefully it went well.  I know I carried things a bit longer than normal.  Apparently I like to talk or something.  So, I wanted to just thank them both again for having me, and also thank all the people who managed to sit in on the show or send supportive wishes beforehand.  I’d recognize all the folks I saw drop in, but I just know I’d accidentally miss someone and would hate to do that.

So all in all, I had a great weekend with so many friends from the game and the community.  I started my holidays on Thursday and this weekend ended up being a pretty great way to kick it off.

Friday Top 5: Transmog Maces (1H)

Friday’s here, so it’s time to continue our look at some of the best ‘Mogging gear in all of Azeroth.  This is part two of my look at maces, as last week I discussed the best two-handed “clubs.”  Today it’s the single-hand variety.  Before we take a look at the list though, several candidates for this list had to be removed (such as the Spider Splatter Mace) because according to WoWhead, they can’t be transmogrified (shenanigans Blizzard!). 

5. The Cruel Hand of Timmy is one of four weapons with this particular skin.  The easiest to obtain would be from the quest to kill Durn: The Hungerer in Nagrand (he’s been nerfed), but after that it’s probably old Timmy’s Hand in Stratholme.  It’s not an overpower mace in appearance, but great if you’ve got a Necromancer type look going or like the Twilight Cultist gear.  Also, I picked this one (though there are similar skins) because the idea of clubbing someone’s skull in with another skull mildly amuses me.  Yes, I’m an odd sort.

4. Scepter of the False Prophet makes the list for uniqueness.  It honestly looks more like a short staff than a mace.  It’s also one of those items that just doesn’t have anything else in game that compares to it.  Definitely more of a Priest or Druid type “Mace” but depending on your Transmog look it could work with anything.  Unfortunately, you have to kill C’thun and hope it drops.

3. There are several items with this model, but most players can probably get the Devout Aurastone Hammer the easiest.  Whether it’s Justice Points, Champion’s Seals, or Darkmoon Tickets, the Heirloom hammer can be snagged quite simply compared to hoping it will drop in Molten Core or The Blood Furnace.  This is my personal favourite Mace for Tumunzahar, as I love the animation that is a flame of light so to speak.

2. The Crystal Spire of Karabor is a Mace I’d never seen before, but the blue and ebon combination caught my eye immediately.  Not only does it look great, those spikes suggest you’ll be turning your target into a meat grinder victim upon impact.  Relatively speaking, you should be able to nab the Spire more easily than some items…so long as it drops.  You can get it from Illidan and usually the only thing people have on reserve is the Glaives. 

1. The Bloodskull Destroyer.  There’s a couple Maces with this skin, but this one’s the biggest and quite frankly there’s times where size matters.  The molten hot look is always a personal favourite, but the skull face on the head is one of those intimidating extra touches that suggest to me when wielded the hammer would look akin to a flaming skull as it’s swung at a target.  Visit Old Hillsbrad Foothills and kill the first boss, Lieutenant Drake, to wield this bad boy.

There you have it, five ways to bludgeon your opponents to death and look good doing it.  I tried to include a list that suited both melee and caster folk, and I think there’s a nice balance here.  So depending on what look you’re going for you might find something here for you, and if not there are certainly plenty more viable choices in the Mace category.  I know I had to take a long look at things before I could narrow this list down from 10.  Until next week!

AQ -Will We Ever See Anything Like It?

*image courtesy of kittenliberationarmy.com

Ahn’Qiraj was a huge deal when it was introduced almost five years ago (January ’06).  The build up requried players to collect a plethora of materials in the “War Effort” against the Silithids, before players were finally able to restore the Scepter (of the Shifting Sands) which could then open the gates to two raids, one 20-man (Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj) and one 40-man (Temple of Ahn’Qiraj).  There was also an army of insects on the other side, but that didn’t last.

There were many things that made AQ’s injection into WoW unique, in good ways and bad.  The bad, quite honestly, was just (at least) a guild that got the scepter and refused to open the gates on one of the servers (Eventide on Cenarius, I believe).  Essentially, they held it hostage.  I’m sure Blizzard learned from that.  Fortunately, as I suggested, there were many good things involved in it that such a blemish is overshadowed -namely The War Effort.

In a rare moment, both Alliance and Horde players were working towards a common goal.  They had to collect a tonne of materials before the gates could even be opened on the server (nevermind the previously mentioned Scepter quest chain).  There was a relief effort NPC in every city and players had to keep turning in cloth and other items until the coffers were full.  Let’s be honest, Horde and Alliance have some hardcore zealots who hate the other faction (despite the fact it’s simply a game), but the idea of working together to reach a common goal is exciting.  It makes Azeroth the bigger picture for a change.  Based on the design, it was also something everyone could be a part of.  It didn’t matter if you were in a hardcore raiding guild, or even a guild at all.  You could go out and do your part. 

Of course, the actual gates opening was huge as well.  Again, once your coffers were full and you had the scepter you’d ring the gong and the gates would open.  Of course, the Silithids would be happy to attack anything and everything when that happened.  But after all that was said and done and you went through the Ruins and then the Temple players got their first glimpse at something we’ve only encountered once since: an Old God.  Even at level 80, you can wipe fighting him (though it’s usually because someone does something foolish).  Still, 5 years later and we’ve encountered one other Old Gold, and that was in Ulduar.  It makes these two bosses somewhat special that way.

So the question is, could such an event happen again?  I think the answer is absolutely.  Unfortunately, it won’t happen when it would make the most sense.  If a Cataclysm struck Earth, humanity would spend most of the following years rebuilding and getting supplies where they are needed most -in theory (see Hurricane Katrina).  As such, that could’ve been an opportunity in a few weeks.  However, in terms of gameplay and business model, it won’t.  Blizzard will want players checking out all the new stuff.  Races, class combos, new content…all the goodies that they’ve been hyping for a year now.  To roll new characters just to go and farm would be a waste (though half the gold guides online would tell you otherwise).  But what about down the road?

I can’t honestly see Blizzard creating a section of Azeroth that requires unlocking again, least of all by player control.  Having it on a timer would be interesting.  Be it a tower, or something in a lake, or whatever option.  It randomly appears and a few NPC’s (nay, Doomsayers!) elude to some knowledge of it.  Then an honest invasion (per server) could occur and create a similar scenario to AQ.  The after effects might involve some restocking (perhaps after someone like Sargeras showed up?…though, Deathwing’s already annihilated half the world) though.

The bottom line is having the Horde and Alliance set aside their differences on rare occasion is fresh and unique.  I can’t see such a thing happening in Cataclysm because the two key elements being focused on are Deathwing, and the Factions renewed war with one another.  But, the Horde and Alliance were also heavily at war five years ago.