Monthly Archives: May 2009

The Lone Lands


It was a great weekend in Middle Earth.  My Warden, above, has reached level 22, and the wife and I are making things right in the Lone Lands.  He’s been crafted some level 21 weapons, the spear and javelin on his back.  He’s still using the level 15 class quest shield.  He’s wearing slightly out-of-date gear, level 16 stuff crafted for him, beneath the cosmetic (level 20+) Ranger Cloak, and my Warden Backpack (also a cosmetic item) provides unlimited javelins (well, not really, they’re just for show).  He prospects ore and harvests wood to support the crafters supporting him.

Those crafters, are my burglar Aelwald, who can prospect at the same level now as the warden, and is now crafting both metal and wood weapons in the level 20′s range, and my champion, Angthir, who is on the quest to master his tailoring (to allow level 20′s gear creation), but that requires killing some elite level 25+ aurochs for an item to drop.

I’m having fun, in other words.  Our Warden and Rune-Keeper couple are making hash out of mobs 4-5 levels higher than them, and even handling elite mobs for fellowship quests, if done carefully, aren’t difficult either.

The more I play, the more I’m liking it.  Maybe it’s because it’s doing a fine job of keeping the obsessive-compulsive inside me busy.  And since the crafters rely on the harvesters, and you can’t do everything alone, in order to keep my characters in gear and weapons I need to play three characters.  And the altoholic in me says “Thanks!”

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Posted by on May 31, 2009 in LotRO


QQing on the ROFLCopter

I don’t know whether to cry or to laugh about it.

Warriors have already been knocked to the ground.  Now they get the boot to the head.

I’m talking about the Arms Warrior Juggernaut talent which has already been nerfed once.

“Juggernaut: Critical strike chance bonus reduced to 25%, down from 100%.”

From 100% crit on a slam or mortal strike to just a 25% crit after you use it to charge a mob.

With that change alone I noticed a NOTICEABLE decrease in my DPS on PvE mobs.  That change to the talent meant what used to be quick fights suddenly became much longer.

It used to be I’d rush in with Juggernaut, Victory Rush them if it was up, Rend, Mortal Strike, and usually Overpower right after that.  Overpower came up a lot in that scenario.

After the patch, Overpower isn’t firing like it did before.  (Unless I’ve stopped applying Rend.  I can’t imagine I’d not be rending.)  And the crits?  /fishslaps and bad attitude are my main DPS sources now.

But now my 70 Retadin can out DPS my 80 Arms Warrior.  I’ll say that again.  My quest reward equipped level 70 Retribution Paladin can out DPS my Savage Saronite geared, Titansteel Destroyer wielding level 80 Arms Warrior.  Stunning.   (Maybe the exorcism is pretty good against Northrend Undead, I’m doing about 2500 against undead now, but Hammer of Wrath also hits for 2500, and so most everything he’s doing hits very hard.  My Orc Warrior weeps in shame.)

Yeah, it’s bad.  So bad I figure he’s just good for opening eggs he’s bought from the Oracles.

And now, already down, here the knock out punch, coming from Blizzard with the 3.1.3 patch:

“Juggernaut: This talent now also increases the cooldown on Charge by 5 seconds.”

Oh, let’s not forget, backing up to 3.1.2 again,

“Glyph of Rapid Charge: Reduced to 7%, down from 20% cooldown reduction to Charge.”



Warrior.  Bench.  “Warm it.”

P.S. And, no, a Fury spec isn’t the answer for me.  Moving like muesli through molasses isn’t my idea of fun.  I won’t walk to the next fight.  It’s charge via Juggernaut or Warbringer or it’s not any kind of Warrior I want to be.  (And, no, I don’t think I need to have to stance dance before and after every spellcast/ability use.)  I guess I wait to see what levels 81-90 bring.

P.P.S. /facepalm Dur.  After I dual specced, and respecced, and had to set my Arms actionbar back up… I forgot the Rend.  That explains one mystery at least.

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Posted by on May 27, 2009 in Warriors


Surfing into the Barrow Downs

I remember way back, my first weekend in Irvine, CA and I was getting ready to start my studies at the University of California there.  I’d found my apartment and was spending some time at Corona del Mar beach.  Beside the fact that I was doing a great imitation as shark bait just bobbing in the water there, or a similarly great imitation of laundry in a dryer as the waves picked me up and absolutely ran be through the wringer as the water pushed me to the sand and gravel bottom and rolled me up to shore, there were golden moments to be found in between.

That moment was when you started paddling early enough to catch the wave right, and strong enough to stay ahead of the wave, and next thing you know you’re part of that wave and, without a board, lifted up with the wave, not going under, and you’re pushed at a surprising speed back towards shore.

I’ve had my LotRO account for a little while now.  I’m not a lifetime subscriber, just a month by month type.  The wife is the biggest Middle Earth fan and she was quite happy with the game.  Tango’s more fun with two, and so I bought an account and jumped in.

At the time I think it was because Warcraft still held some goals for me to accomplish that I didn’t get appropriately into it.  I did the Argent Tournament dailies with three characters, and earned enough marks to collect some of the gear.  My Druid has resisted the Sylvan Staff of Silvery Might (is that the name of it?) as a replacement for his Titansteel Destroyer.  It might be better for tanking, but…  Msaker took the tanking axe, since he too has a Titansteel Destroyer.  (And the recent nerf to Juggernaught?  It’s stunning how much DPS it takes off PvE grinding.  In iLevel 187+ gear he’s managing the same DPS as my level 70 Paladin in quest rewards.  I think the Ret Pally is doing GREAT DPS, but the Warrior feels nerfed to the knees at this point.)  Stormsoul is the biggest recipient, dual wielding twin Grimhorn Crushers.  I’ve actually gone Enhancement and left the better Elemental gear in the bank.  A couple more goals to reach have been reached as well.  Our Paladin and Mage are in Northrend, doing pretty good.  Our Death Knights are just a hop and a skip away as well, but it’d probably be better to keep these two couples somewhat separated in progression to avoid “summer repeats” of the content.  We’ll be repeating it, but it’ll be a little fresher if we insert some space between them.  That said, I’m comfortable with where I’m at in Warcraft, and that allows me to take a more solid interest in LotRO.

And doing so feels like I’ve gotten picked up by a wave of momentum and I’m enjoying the ride.

Some of the things I enjoy in these games are the grindy crafty stuff.  Coming back to it, and making a commitment to be serious about it, I realized what crappy gear I’d allowed myself to settle for earlier.  My Champion felt like he was dressed in paper and wielding butter knives.  That wasn’t fun.  I took a deeper look into things and realized I could buy recipes to allow me to make better gear.  It’s not just the automatic things you know, it’s also the buyable recipes that are important.  Zounds.  So now my Warden and Champion are in the best Medium Leather gear I’ve found to make.  (The “tier 2″ Tough Leather stuff.)  That required farming up a lot of Medium Leather.  In a full set of it my Warden farmed up two more stacks of Medium Leather, in the Forest west of the Barrow Downs, which he boiled down into one stack of usable hide, 50 of them, and my Champion tailored it all into a set for himself, and a lesser set for my new Dwarf Guardian, who doesn’t get heavy armor until level 15.  (The Champion has to wait till level 20 to wear heavy armor.)  My Burglar finally caved in, smelted some of the copper ore into ingots (waiting for tin to make bronze to use in leveling up is way too painful a wait) (sent those copper ingots to a new Minstrel Jeweler), which leveled up his prospecting to the point he could mine the next level of ore, and then headed to the Barrows and rustled up enough Barrow Iron to craft two Steel Swords for himself, two Steel Swords for my Champion, and two Steel Swords for my wife’s Champion.  Whew.  And he’s also managed to craft a smooth Ash Javelin and Spear for the Warden.

Crafting and Gathering in LotRO requires multiple characters, and that pleases the altoholic in me.

Too, the graphics in the game are stunning.  Standing at the forge smelting some ore, the heat from the red coals is causing the air above it to shimmer.  That’s cool.  Cooler yet is when the wife’s Rune Keeper lets a nuke off in some mobs face, and since I’m close I see that heat shimmer too.  The look of the environment is so excellent.

And leaving the green hills around Bree for the dryer hills at the Forlorn Inn I was reminded of Northern California.  Who knew Weathertop Mountain was located near Napa?  And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways.

I’m having fun in LotRO in other words.  The wave’s caught me and is carrying me on a great ride.

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Posted by on May 26, 2009 in LotRO, Musings


Expand the previous expansion.

Blizzard can blow open some bottlenecks in their old content.

The wife and I are leveling through the Outlands now.  We’ll be leaving as soon as we both hit level 68.

I plotted out a course for our two couples.  Honorus and Effilda turned north and reached level 68 in Netherstorm.

Cenotaph and Ombria turned south and hope to reach level 68 in Shadowmoon Valley.

But, for both locations, ALL quests begin at level 67.  We’ll be there for 1 level and then blow those pop stands.

Blizzard could “open up” their previous expansion with one easy, easy change:

Lower the “level requirement” for all Outlands quests by 2 levels.

That would recognize players starting at 58 and leaving at 68.

I’d prefer to see more of Shadowmoon Valley, rather than spin wheels in ridiculously easy Terrokar Forest and the Bonewastes.  So start the quests 2 levels sooner at Level 65.  We’ll survive.  If we don’t, we can backtrack some.  Our choice.

It is recognized that certain things were created with the point of keeping max level characters occupied.  In previous max level areas that ship’s long sailed.

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Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Uncategorized


Queen of Orgrimmar

No, Thrall.  It is *you* that have failed to receive the memo.  After all, Lady Sylvanas got it.


Now, release the fish.  And it will be like we never were here.

(Apparently they’ve fixed the “phased fishing” in Orgrimmar.  Sigh.)


Posted by on May 18, 2009 in Uncategorized


Equalized content.

The wife and I, tired of the frozen waste of Ice Crown, decided to work on a few quests in Zul’Drak.  The Ebon Blade guy sent us to go hassle Drakuru.  That leads us to a grand finale, a final confrontation with Drakuru himself, and the example of equalized content that brought this to mind.

I suppose you could hammer Drakuru down personally.  Treat him like the sock puppet he really is.  Pwn him.

But what you’re supposed to do is use a Scepter of Domination on one of his own Bloodblight Troll guards and whale on him till he’s trollbutter.  If one Bloodblight Troll doesn’t do the job, grab a 2nd (after the first is dead) and continue the love.  (Oh, and don’t reapply your ghoul disguise or you’ll bug the event.)  All the while stay out of the pools of blight he throws at you (looks like the Grizzly Hills Outhouse visual effect, and I’m sure smells pretty similar), and survive the blood boils.  Your Bloodblight Troll minion does have a heal ability they can use to heal you.

It’s this particular battle, the final scene, that is equalized for everyone.  Whether you’re in Ulduar Epics or Quest Greens, level 80 on your 15th epic flying mount, or 77 and flying for the very first time, Warlock, Warrior, or Wimp, you have an equal chance at defeating Drakuru because he’s the same regardless of your circumstances, and the Bloodblight Troll you dominate and use to defeat him is the same regardless of your circumstances.

Other examples abound.  The Sons of Hodir proto-drake flying daily is equalized.  You all get the same proto-drake, the same abilities to use against it.  The Brunnhildr bear fight is equal for everyone.  Anytime you ride a tournament or jousting mount for the Argent Crusade or Tournament, you’re equal to everyone else riding one too.  (One Caveat:  Warriors in Defensive Stance will have their damage output reduced.  You can’t two-shot a Scourge Scout at the gates like everyone else does it.  It takes 3 shots, because the stance’s damage reduction reduces your mount’s damage (shield breaker, charge, etc.) too.  Hmmm.  Do mount abilities critically hit?  Would Berserker Stance improve the mount’s damage abilities?  I don’t think so, because Scouts take 2 hits, always (unless your Prot and in the wrong stance).  I’ll have to check it out.)

Fishing Dailies are equal.  And now that fishing’s changed, and you can fish in Northrend at any level of fishing skill and catch something (to include the daily quest item), no reason anyone who doesn’t try because they think they’re not high enough fishing level, you’re fine.  Come join us.  (Greenclaw leveled the last 25 points in Northrend to get him to 300 and using the Kulak fishing pole finally.)

I like the idea of it, this equalized content.  It means a lot more people will see a lot more of the content.

So, Blizzard, if you’d be so kind, please provide an equalized version of Ulduar for me and the wife.  Okay?  Thanks.  :)


Posted by on May 14, 2009 in Musings


5/5 rather than 3/5.

I’m talking Champion’s Seals.

I tend to float in a world of my own.  If I’m not playing with the wife I’m coursing through on my own.  About the only place I needed to worry about the kindness of strangers was the Battle Before the Citadel where you have to defeat a Commander.  With the wife, that fight’s trivial.  But on your own, and nobody helping out, impossible.  What with respawns and scouts flying about, it’s crazy out there.

And last night while the wife revisited her Warhammer folks I was left to fend for myself.  (I know, I know.  Put the tissue away before we all break out bawling!  :) )

And I’m heading out to kill those Scourge and I see in general chat “LFM Threat from Above.”  Hmm.  That’s the group one I never tried.  I’ve always just gone the easy route, “easy” if you don’t consider the Commander fight, of just worrying about getting 3 Champion Seals for the night.

Anyway, I whisper the guy, get an invite, and next thing you know I’m facing Chillmaw.  Wham, bam, thank you Ma’am and it’s done.  Easy.  “Anyone for the Commanders?”  “Sure.”  “Sure.”  “Yep.”  Wow.  Getting 5 Seals is pretty much just as easy as getting 3 Seals.  I just needed to keep my eyes on the chat channel.

Now, what to do with the Seals.  Greenclaw, already wielding a Titansteel Destroyer, picked up the Silvery Sylvan Staff for 25 Seals.  Meh.  I’m not tanking much nowadays.  Was it worth giving up Attack Power for +2% Crit and +Dodge on my Cat?  I carried it around for a bit but took it back for a refund.  I noticed that I haven’t seen anyone else carrying one either.  (It’s got Agility, and no Hunters or Druids were carrying one.  Are they ALL raiding??)

Too, Msaker also has 25 Champion Seals again.  After buying the tanking axe, I now picked up the Sin’Dorei Greatsword to check out it’s looks.  I’m not Fury, not yet at least (let’s see how nerfed Juggernaut feels), so I don’t have need for a 2nd two-hander.  I’m also not sure if Sword Spec >> Mace Spec (when we all know Poleaxe Spec is the only option for winners).  It’s a beautiful graphic, this greatsword.  Probably look a lot cooler with two strapped to my back too.

And can someone confirm whether or not MaxDPS is updated for the latest patch.  From what I can tell it is not.

Anyway, keep your eye open for folks looking to complete Threat From Above.  It’s an easy 2 Seals.  :)

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Posted by on May 12, 2009 in Musings


Here and back again.

Just watched a documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien and decided to join the wife in Middle Earth for a bit.

Our earlier couple, a Champion and a Burglar, were having a bit of difficulty in the Barrow Downs.  I guess when the screen gets all fuzzy and “special effects” it means we’re in “epic story” territory, and it’s not supposed to be easy, and it wasn’t.  Maybe I wasn’t properly into it.  Maybe the Burglar didn’t suit me.  Maybe it’s a class that requires finesse and I’m just whaling away on stuff with the biggest weapons I’ve got.  (For the term “whaling” I’m referring to the definition “to strike or hit vigorously” and not “to defeat soundly” (thanks Merriam-Webster).  I wanted to get the proper spelling on that.  Not that some wailing wasn’t done either, mind you.)

So I created a new character.  Not that it plays any easier.  In fact, it’s supposed to be an “advanced” play style, but maybe it suits me better.  That new character is a Warden.  As for races, the LotRO male elves make Legolas from the movie look Harley riding, cigar chomping, moose hunting, Ax Man Manly.  So my Warden is human.

And I figured if my Warden is “tank like” then to be joined by a “healer type” Rune Keeper (since both can DPS quite well as well), I encouraged the wife (bless her heart) to create an Elven Rune Keeper.

Geirmund (spear protector) and Culedhel it was.  And since I appreciate the finer things, I joined her in the Elven beginning area.  (Some thoughts on that in a moment.)

geirmund & culedhel 3

Turbine is offering some special things for their Anniversary.  Some bonus XP, some gifts (a potion??), and what I noticed was there are actually an awful lot of people playing.

In fact I’d say the beginning areas have more people in them than what I’ve been seeing in the Warcraft beginning areas.  Turbine has far fewer servers online than Blizzard does, sure, but I’m thinking this is a sign that LotRO appears to be rather healthy at the moment.  Which is a cool thing.  It’s a nice looking game.  The models are good, the towns are really nicely developed, the environment (I’ve got the graphics on their highest settings) are art.

Yes, three characters doing Valiant+Champion dailies for  a couple weeks now had me pick up a fourth character with a lance.  It just happens to be in LotRO, a Warden, and I’m happy to see LotRO remains a solid alternative to go play in.

And, tonight, Honorus and Effilda make launch their Northrend careers, both just turning level 68 and ready to go.

P.S. My biggest gripe with LotRO: The fact that I can’t scale the bags and inventory larger.  A lot of the interface will scale larger.  The bags and stuff in them won’t.  I can barely make out what it is I’m looking at.  Warcraft gets this right in that stuff on my screen is HUGE and OBVIOUS.  If someone out there knows how to alleviate the “squint factor” in LotRO let me know!  :)  Thanks.

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Posted by on May 10, 2009 in LotRO


Jousting gets easier

I remember my first times jousting with the Valiants.  Time after time they sent me home, back to get a fresh mount, ego bruised.  But I got better.

Firstly:  Always keep your shields at 3.  Always.  Let me repeat, always keep your shields at 3.  Always.  No reason not to.  If you only see 1 red, or 2 yellow shields, it’s time to reapply, and reapply until you see 3 green shields defending you.  Always.  That’s a priority.  (At least until you’re on rails and they call *you* the “Pain Train.”)

So my first tactics against the Valiants was this:  Trade blows.  Yes, it’s very slow.  Painfully slow.  MAKE IT STOP, OMG MAKE IT STOP! slow.  Where you get the advantage, where you do a little more damage than your opponent, is when they back away from you, and they always do this, count on it, you throw a shield breaker and then move in close again.  They aren’t throwing theirs because they’re moving away from you.  You throw yours, reduce their shields by one, and then move in to go lance to lance again.  They may pop back up to 3 shields very quickly, but you still have managed to take the lead in damaging them.  In this way you will defeat them.  It takes time, but it works.

I’ve gotten better.  Much better.  I lose only the very rare bout.  I blame lag for those.

Anyway, here’s what I’m doing now:

Starting with the Champions.

I park myself alongside a Champion, the one  I plan to joust with.  I have 3 shields up, so do they.  I speak with them, and off they go.  As soon as they start moving forward I hit them at once with the lance, the 1 key.  Yeah, yeah.  Honor is in the victory, when fighting the good fight, not the surrender.

They’ll keep going, shrugging off the first hit without a loss to their shield.  Now they’ve pulled ahead to charge range.  I hit my charge, the 3 key, and let them have it.  They’re down to 2 shields now.

And here’s where I’m feeling particularly talented: I wheel away and do a 180 leap in the air, still at a distance where I then can peg them with my shield breaker, key 2.  Now they’re down to 1 shield.

Then I quickly close distance with them, so they can do none of the above to me.

I do have a cooldown timer and buff bars, and I easily keep an eye on my shields.  They’ll actually wear off in 60 seconds or so, so even if they aren’t taking the shields off you might wind up defenseless.  Keep those shields at 3 all the time.

Anway, enaged with a Champion after the initial start I stick with them, and I’m always slowly backing away from them.  I lead them around the grounds like a puppy on a leash.  I like open spaces and I do this to lead them away from other people jousting.  And I lead them to the center so when they break, and they always break, they aren’t going beyond the limits.  (I’ve lost 2 Champions fighting outside of the tourney grounds.)  Lance, lance, lance, all the while backing up and steering where I want them.  They break, I charge, wheel, shield break, reengage.

The Valiants are even faster fights.  Using the same tactics it goes more quickly because the first lance hit, as they pull away, actually drops a shield off them.  Now they have 2 shields when I hit them with a charge, and no shields after I hit them with a shield breaker.  They recover to 1 or 2 shields before they make another break.  I’m basically fighting Valiants that have either 1 or no shields on.  This is where I had to remember to reapply my own shields every now and then because they will time out.

It goes MUCH faster now with a little practice.

Do remember you can do both Valiant jousts and Champion jousts in quick succession.  Consider that you may only defeat each race once per hour.  You can fight any race, of either faction, Horde and Alliance, for the Champion fights, but you can only fight your own faction’s races for the Valiants fights.

I had actually started this by fighting the “big” units, Draenei and Taurens, in the Champions circle.  And then a few more Horde Champions.  Then I moved to the Valiant circle and found I had to wait because I’d just defeated these race’s Champions earlier.

So, in the Champion’s tourney, my Horde Champions defeats 4 Alliance, and then defeats 3 Horde in the Valiant jousts.  Opposite for the opposite side of course.

It’s been amusing so far.  My Night Elf Druid never did the Argent Crusade starter quests, so when he kills 10+15 Scourge he does it by killing spiders in the beginning area.  Advantage is I get credit for killing Scourge, and I can skin them for leather.

My lovely wife is a great help in defeating the Commanders at the Enemy at the Gates (Champion’s version).  But I have found if I’m helpful to others in taking down Commanders, these folks appear more than willing to help  others, like me, in taking down our Commanders.  This is the best place for Karma coming back to you in the game I’ve seen.

The sword quests are interesting little jaunts abroad.  I’m disappointed that they’re all to the east (Dragonblight, Grizzly Hills, Howling Fjord) and none to the west.  On the other hand, when I get two sword quests at the same time, after I complete the tasks for one race and move to the next, at least they’re in the same direction.  Would I travel further for more Valiant tokens?  Maybe.

All that’s missing appears to be a title for becoming a Champion for your entire faction, all the races.  I’d very much love to sport a title: Me, of the Horde.

And, as an Arms Warrior, what’s up with this game detail:  The only Arms weapon you can craft at 80 is a two-handed Mace.  The only epic two-handed weapon you can get by questing/rep is a two-handed Sword.  Where’s the Axe?  Where’s the Polearm?  Raiders only?

And does anyone know whether dual wielding those two-handed Greatswords of the Sin’dorei (or at least one with a Titansteel Destroyer) as Fury will way out DPS an Arms Warrior wielding either?  Given equivalent gear otherwise, will Fury Spec dual wielding Titansteel Destroyer plus Greatsword of the Sin’dorei way out DPS an Arms Spec wielding a Titansteel Destroyer?  (And does the Greatsword of the Sin’dorei out DPS it for Arms?)  I’m liking Juggernaut, but would my damage output noticeably increase with DW Fury using these two weapons?  (My first 25 seals, since I wasn’t sure of DW Fury >>>> Arms, went to the one-handed tanking axe for my protection spec 2nd talent setup.)


Posted by on May 4, 2009 in Musings


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