Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Shared Topic: Starting Over

This week's Shared Topic at Blog Azeroth is starting over. What would you do if you were forced to start WoW over? When I read this question I immediately knew what the answer would be. I would roll a Troll shaman. Rolling and leveling a Troll shaman would be to succeed at alot of things I have failed at in my current WoW career. I have repeatedly tried to roll Horde because I feel like I'm missing half of the game by only playing Alliance, but I have never made it past level 10. I've missed the easy support of my wealthy main and the green text of my beloved guild chat too much to be able to stick with Horde in the past.

I also have attempted to roll a Troll several times because, in my opinion, they are the coolest race in the game. One of the reasons I've never gotten very far on my various Trolls, in addition to the fact that they are Horde, is that Troll females only have one acceptable face and one acceptable hair style. To fix this problem, unless the overlords at Blizzard decide to answer my prayers and introduce new models, I would roll a male Troll. I wonder how my game play experience would change playing a male toon. It probably wouldn't change all that much while out in the world questing or in a PUG, but it would be an exciting/amusing moment when my new guildies first heard my voice over vent. I might become guild famous as the sexually confused Troll :)

Finally, my male Troll would be a shaman. I've never actually played a shaman, for the sole reason that Alliance side only Draenei can be shamans and while I have nothing against space goats in general I just can't stand their darn space totems. They look like something out of a bad science fiction movie and don't embody what I imagine shamanism to be. Trolls and shaman just seem to fit together.

If you have thoughts about what you would do if forced to start WoW over again head over to Blog Azeroth to share your thoughts and read what others have to say.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures in (and out) of Azeroth: Fan Fiction Part 2

I dared to go were no gnome (at least this gnome) has gone before; into the realm of World of Warcraft fanfiction. I emerged mostly unscathed and am ready to report the results of my first adventure. I previously posted that I would be reading a story in each of three categories; 1) A story where the main characters are lore figures 2) a story where the main characters are player characters 3) NC-17 Thrall/Jaina fanfiction (don't judge me!). Now without further ado...

Hail
This is a short vignette about Med'an being welcomed into the ranks of the Alliance by King Varian Wrynn. Now I admit that I had no idea who Med'an was so I looked him up. The brief version is that Med'an is the Gaurdian of Tirisfal and is one quarter orc, one quarter draenei, and one half human. WoWWiki suggests that his father is Medhiv, but in the story it is Varian's father, King Llane Wrynn, making Varian and Med'an half brothers. The story is short and just depicts the solemn ceremony of Varian bringing Med'an into the alliance forces with a whisper reserved just for the two of them, acknowledging their shared heritage. I actually found this story moderately interesting, but mostly because it prompted me to look into a lore figure that I didn't know about before.

The Beginning
This is a three chapter story that is the background story for the author's female Forsaken warlock character. I actually really enjoyed this story. It begins with her character as a human child who finds an abandoned troll baby whom here family adopts. It follows her conversion into a Forsaken even as she manages to save her troll sister the same fate. The last chapter is her as a Forsaken, traveling Azeroth in search of her lost sister. If you want to know the ending I won't spoil it for you, you can go read it yourself. Not only is the story well written, but it seems strangely believable. The character is heroic, but not the savior of all of Azeroth. She has strengths, flaws, fears, and motivations. This has actually inspired me to think of a more concrete background for my characters even though I do not role play.

Strength (not for kiddies!)
Here we come to the stereotypical Thrall/Jaina explicit story that us non-fanfiction readers use to mock those who write fanfiction. Ultimately, when I finished reading it I was much less emotionally scarred that I thought I would be. The writing is actually quite good and the actual intercourse was handled well, without needlessly gratuitous details, since I really am not interested in the mechanics of orc/human sex I was grateful for the tact used. The most interesting part comes after they do the proverbial deed and life and politics intrude. The moment that made me laugh out loud was when Jaina used a polymorph spell to turn would be attackers into a sheep. Now mages turning people into sheep in game I don't have a problem with, but in a story it just struck me as odd. It does seem perfectly legitimate to use a spell in game in a story based on said game, but for me it was just a bit too weird. While I don't think I'll be reading anymore inter-species sex scenes in the future, I must say that this story makes the idea, and the entire genre, feel less creepy.

The stories I read were more enjoyable than I expected them to be. Ultimately, I still find it difficult to take a story seriously when it is based in game world where trade chat trolls, and naked Night Elf mail box dancers abound, but it has stimulated my interest in lore and the story of my own characters.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Munchie Monday: A Fast Food Ripoff

This is a little invention I enjoyed just last week while sitting in the dps queue. Its a ripoff of those KFC bowls, only cheaper. Its so simple that it doesn't really qualify as cooking, but it is still tasty.

Ingredients:

Frozen chicken nuggets
Instant Potatoes (or you can make real ones if you are feeling fancy)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Canned Kernels or Creamed Corn, your choice

Make potatoes and chicken nuggets according to package directions. Heat corn until warm in microwave. Pour warmed corn and cheese over hot potatoes then top with chicken nuggets and enjoy your fast food ripoff.

Later today I'll post the conclusion to my adventures in WoW fanfiction.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Adventures in (and out) of Azeroth: Fan Fiction Part 1

When thinking about starting a WOW blog I thought it might be fun to do a reoccurring series where I try something new that is somehow related to WOW either in game or out of game and record what happens. I’ve decided my first little adventure will be to try reading some World of Warcraft fan fiction.

I mean no offense to anyone, but to be honest the idea that people actually write fictional stories about Azeroth and its inhabitants kind of freaks me out. However I write a blog about said fictional world so perhaps I shouldn’t talk. Perhaps my horizons will be expanded by this exercise or maybe not. Who knows, I guess you will all have to wait and see.

Now, lets get down to the details. I’m going to read stories in at least three categories:

1) Stories concerning actual lore, or in game figures
2) Stories that center around a player’s character and his or her adventures in Azeroth
3) NC-17 rated Jaina and Thrall story, just because I can’t resist checking it out and it’s the stereotypical joke that everyone always makes about WoW fan fiction. I mean come on, how could I not click on it? I don’t have that kind of self restraint!

I will post the results of my adventure in the next few days (read: when I get done writing my religion paper). In the mean time consider going here or here and give it a shot yourself. Beware, some of these stories are not for kiddies!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Shared Topic: World of Awecraft

This week's shared topic over at Blog Azeroth is moments when you were filled with a sense of awe when you first started playing WoW. The very first thing that jumps to mind was seeing the huge, lumbering Ancient Protectors in Darnassus. As I walked into Darnassus for the first time and saw them I was actually terrified. It took me a while to figure out that they were on our side and that they weren't going to smash me like a bug. I actually think something similar to this would be nice for new Night Elf tree form models, but that is probably unlikely. An equally awe-inspiring moment was when I was promptly one-shotted by a ?? level dragon in Ashenvale. I was so surprised I went back for more, getting killed just as quickly the second time as the first. I also felt a different sort of awe when I turned on all 8 of the default UI bars, and thought that one day I would have enough spells to fill all those bars.

While the moments of awe and wonder we experience when first beginning the game are undoubtedly the most memorable I still get those moments that jar me out of my 80 mindset and bring me back to being just a lowly noob again. Taking the boat to Howling Fjord the first time was the most epic virtual boat ride of my life. The Wrath Gate quest line was also memorable and I don't think that my heart has ever beaten as fast as it did when I ran across Loque'nahak on my hunter. It was a wonder that I didn't have a stroke before I managed to tame him. If you have moments of WoW awe that you would like to share head over to Blog Azeroth and check out the shared topics post.

3.3.3 First Impressions

The biggest addition of 3.3.3 was the Random Battleground Finder. After crafting my frozen carpet I queued up and was assigned to Eye of the Storm within 10 seconds. My first thought was, that was fast. My second, crap, I don't remember how this battleground works. I think I've only been in Eye of the Storm once or twice in my life. It wasn't until half way through that I remembered the flag component, until then I was just holding bases Arathi Basin style. We ended up losing so I queued up for another to get my daily arena points and extra honor. Again I waited less than 10 seconds before popping into Alterac Valley, which brought a smile to my face. I don't think I've been in AV since I've been 80. Apparently others felt the same. The BG chat was filled with exclamations of "Oh, I forgot about this place." We even had a strat and what's more we actually followed it! We blitzed, not stopping to take down any towers or hold any graveyards. Everyone made a run straight for Drek and we took him down with his six or so adds earning the achievement Alterac Blitz in the process.

I did a few others just for fun. All of the wait times were well under a minute and I got Strand of the Ancients, Eye of the Storm again, and Warsong Gulch. Overall it was a lot of fun, quick queue times combined with the surprise of a random battleground that you might not usually pick made for a good time, even if I spent half the time dead :)

While the Random BG Finder was the biggest addition there were lots of small, quality of life changes that I really appreciate. The first is that if you have an authenticator, and you should, the login page provides a box to put your number in on the same screen with your user name and password. The map now has an option to view different layers for example, when in Dalaran you can choose to view either the main city map, or the Sewer map no matter which portion you are currently in. The Greed only option of Frozen orbs is certainly also nice. I have yet to witness the changes to the Random Dungeon Finder; the deserter debuff is now 30mins, you can now kick a player without waiting 15 minutes, and you are now prompted to give a reason for initiating a vote to kick option. These changes seem positive, but I have some concerns and will have to wait and see.

My favorite little change is the change to auction house functionality. Now you might not have even noticed if you run Auctioneer, but I dumped Auctioneer a while ago, partly because it was broken I didn't feel like fixing it and partly because I just didn't make use of its functionality. If you use Auctioneer for tracking prices you definitely won't be dumping it for the standard UI. However if the only reason you use Auctioneer is for more convenient ways to list auctions you might want to disable you Auctioneer and see if you can get along without it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Patch Day

Patch day is here everyone. Luckily I have class to preoccupy me until the servers come back up and I can dive into patch 3.3.3. The first thing I'm going to do is hit up Frozo the frozen orb vendor to get the pattern for my brand new flying carpet. I don't care what awesome mount I get, Ashes of Alar excepted of course, there is still nothing cooler than a gnome on a flying carpet. Hopefully after diving into a few random battlegrounds and taking my carpet for a test drive I'll be able to tear myself away for long enough to do a little write up about my first impressions. Until then, happy patch day!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Munchie Monday: Taco Pie

Assuming you have some compressed air nearby to get the crumbs out of your keyboard its nice to enjoy a little snack while pwning some noobs or downing Loken for the 100th time. So hopefully every Monday I’ll be offering a recipe to try out. Since I suck at music and drawing cooking has always been my creative outlet. For my first Munchie Monday I present to you my most brilliant invention to date; behold, Taco Pie! The great thing about this recipe is that it is delicious and impossible to screw up.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1 can plain tomato paste
1 medium onion
2 T Worchestershire sauce (optional)
1 can black beans (well drained)
1 can corn (well drained)
1 can diced tomatoes (well drained, I particularly like the Red Gold brand Chile Verde version but any brand will do)
Fresh cilantro
Shredded cheese (any kind you like)
3 Flour tortillas, the big ones
Sour cream (optional)

Dice onion and cook in skillet with ground beef, drain off fat and stir in the tomato paste, salt and pepper, and Worchestershire sauce if you like. Place a tortilla on the bottom of a either a deep dish pie dish or a round casserole dish, really anything round that is as close as possible to the size of your tortilla. Spoon half of the meat mixture on tortilla and then add half of your beans, tomatoes, and corn. Sprinkle with roughly chopped cilantro. I like a lot of cilantro, I think it has a great, bright flavor that really makes the dish, but use your own discretion. Sprinkle with cheese. Use your hands to press down your pie to pack everything together and ensure that it is even. Lay down another tortilla and repeat all of you previous layers. Put your last tortilla on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 mins. I take the foil off the last five minutes and sprinkle a bit more cheese on top to make for a nicer presentation. LET STAND 10 MINUTES. If you are patient and let it stand you can cut it in pie slices and it will hold together very nicely. Top with a dollop of sour cream if you like.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Travel Azeroth: Teldrassil

Too many of us, myself included, blaze our way through Azeroth zone by zone killing 10 harpies, collecting 15 feathers, delivering mysterious bundles from continent to continent, but do we really know why we are doing what we are doing? I am currently working my way through the Loremaster and The Seeker titles as well as leveling an alt and as I do quests that I have done several times before I find that I don’t really have any idea why exactly those 10 harpies need to die or what in the world we are going to use their feathers for. So hopefully by the time Cataclysm comes out I will have profiled every zone in the game, a bit of a travel guide to the World of Warcraft in the mode of Rick Steves. I will try to provide a little insight into the background and lore of each zone as well as the major story lines that you can participate in through questing. Today I’m going to start with Teldrassil, the very first zone I ever leveled through.

Where: Off the western shore of Kalimdor
Faction: Alliance
Level range: 1-10, night elf starting zone

History: Teldrassil is actually an enormous tree. It is the second World Tree, the first World Tree, Nordrassil, was severely damaged during the Battle of Mount Hyjal, the damage done to this first World Tree robbed the Night Elves of their immortality. In an effort to regain their immortality the Night Elves, lead by Fandral Staghelm planted Nordrassil, but Nozdormu, the leader of the Bronze Dragonflight, refused to bless this tree and thus although the tree grew it did not restore the Night Elves immortality.

Story lines: Adventurers in Teldrassil will come across several quests to kill corrupted beasts, Timberlings, and Furbolgs. There appears to be several sources for corruption spreading through the boughs of Teldrassil, there are hints that the Burning Legion and the Emerald Nightmare have something to do with the spreading taint.

Interesting Quest Chains

Tenaron’s Summons- This quest chain will send you to collect samples of the water of different from different Moonwells, along the way read the quest text and you will learn a bit about the history of the Night Elves and Teldrassil.

Zenn’s Bidding- Begins a small chain where you unwittingly help the antagonist and then make up for your mistake in a rather amusing form of payback.

A Troubling Breeze- This starts a quest chain in which you must acquire relics in order to wake the sleeping druids who are in danger of being slaughtered in their sleep by the Gnarlpine tribe.

Denalen’s Earth- Begins a chain where help Denalen cleanse the corruption of the local Timberling population.

The Temple of the Moon- begins a short, but beautiful little quest line. I won’t spoil it, but be sure to watch for the animation when you finish the chain in The Temple of the Moon.
In the next few days I will be covering a Horde starting zone, although I haven’t decided which one yet.

Disclaimer: I am not a lore expert. I am putting together this guides through a combination of my own experience and a bit of research. This not meant to be a comprehensive guide to either lore or quests, but rather a place to start to get a feel of the role each zone plays in Azeroth.

The Random Battleground Finder And Why You Should Care

Soon the Random Battleground Finder will be upon us when patch 3.3.3 is released. Like its predecessor, the Random Dungeon Finder, it will be a huge change to how we experience the game. First a quick recap of its features:
  • The first random battleground you WIN will award an additional 30 honorable kills worth of honor and 25 area points.
  • Any additional wins in a random battleground will award an additional 15 honorable kills worth of honor.
  • A loss in a random battleground will award an additional 5 honorable kills worth of honor.
  • Honor awarded per honorable kill is being increased by 100%
  • Honor awarded by Wintergrasp weekly quests will be reduced by 50%

For all of the upcoming PvP changes read the blue post here.

If you are a hardcore PvP-er then I don’t have to convince you to be excited about this. If however, you are like me and enjoy PvPing occasionally or you are not into PvP at all this is still something to pay attention to. First off the Random Battleground Finder should make getting into a battleground almost instantly. The only thing the system has to do in order to get you into a battleground is have enough Horde and Alliance players queued up and off to your mystery battleground you will go. You might anticipate wait times however if your battlegroup is imbalanced and you play on the more populous faction.

Secondly, you will be gaining honor much more quickly in battlegrounds and those Wintergrasp weekly quests will no longer be so lucrative. Therefore random BGs are where it will be at to gain honor. Now all this is great for just some plain old PvP fun, but for those of us that haven’t really gotten into PvP I have some reasons for you that it might be a very good idea to get some PvP experience and gear in preparation for Cataclysm.
  • Rated Battlegrounds are coming in Cataclysm and the new Random BG Finder is a great way to get some practice in so you can sky rocket in the ratings come expansion time. Besides just gaining general PvP knowledge you can fine tune you strategies in each individual BG. Get to know the best tactics and the terrain for each battleground and you will be wiping the floor with your opponents come Cataclysm.
  • Tol Barad, a Wintergrasp like zone, is coming in Cataclysm. Holding Tol Barad will give you access to a daily quest hub. Don’t be a scrub. Brush up on your PvP skills to help your faction maintain an iron grip on Tol Barad.
  • Even just with honor you can get some really nice PvP gear and if you are like me and have triumph or even frost badges lying around you can also pick up some great PvP gear with those. I mention this because just as Blizz has said that our tier 9 and 10 should be good enough to get us through the first raid of Cataclysm I suspect that with a nice PvP set, that you will soon be able to get more easily with the Random BG finder and increased honor gains, you will do really well in those first few months of the expansion in either Tol Barad or the new battlegrounds we have been promised. All those people in their questing greens and blues won’t stand a chance against you in 1000+ resilience gear.
  • Guild leveling and achievements are coming. You will be able to better contribute to PvP guild achievements and earn more guild experience if you practice being a kick ass PvP-er now.
  • Finally if you are no fun and just want to use the Random BG finder for profit then all that easy honor can be turned into easy gold by purchasing epic gems for 10k honor each.

Since I just need to keep grinding away at those frost badges to improve my PvE gear, I’m too rich to care about selling gems, and I already have heirlooms set aside for my dwarf shaman that I will be rolling come Cataclysm I have recently set my sights on collecting a good PvP set and can’t wait for 3.3.3 to make it a bit easier. So even if you suck at PvP like me take the Random Battleground Finder as an opportunity to brush up on your skills and collect some gear. And if practice doesn’t make perfect and no amount of resilience can keep your squishy self alive, so what, have some fun anyway.

Gateway Drugs

Growing up my parents would never buy me or my sister a video game console, so my sole exposure to Mario and the like came from going over to my male friend's house and getting owned by his little brother every single time. Today I would still get owned by a 7 year old in console gaming. But despite my parents best efforts to get me to go outside and play instead of sitting in front of the computer I soon picked up PC games like The Sims, SimCity, and Rollercoaster Tycoon.

During high school I some how wind up with this nerdy boyfriend who talks endlessly about all kinds of video games and uses words I don’t understand like tank, stats, and dps. Eventually he somehow convinces me to try out a game called Ragnarok Online, its free he tells me, free is good. And I can play it on dial up which is the only thing we had at the time. So I get this Ragnarok Online and start playing. It’s a cute little Korean 2D sprite based game with almost no quests and a constant grind, but I don’t know any better and I started to love it. I become a forum troll, constantly reading so I can get better and before you know it I’m far higher level and much richer than my poor boyfriend. I’m not going to lie, I think beating him probably increased my sense of enjoyment.

So off to college I go and now said BF starts going on and on about this game called World of Warcraft. Well it sounds pretty cool, but it costs money and I’m none too keen on this. Finally I agree to make a test character on his account. I rolled a gnome mage, and I died a lot. It was a horrible experience really. I didn’t like it at all. Reluctantly I took the official World of Warcraft guide books my boyfriend had laying around and flipped through them. Ultimately it was those guides that convinced me that I had to play World of Warcraft.

I know that they are hopelessly outdated almost immediately after an expansion and that all the tables of quests, gear, and recipes are useless when you can get easier access to better information on Wowhead, but damn it those pictures are pretty. I enjoyed reading the little bios of each class and race and pouring over the ability listings. I never gave those guides back to the BF, shhh don’t tell, and I bought the Wrath of the Lich King Guide and will definitely be buying the Cataclysm guide. So I was lured into the World of Warcrack by a crappy Korean game and pretty pictures. My first toon on my own account was, what else, a night elf hunter, who is now my level 80 bank alt and I haven’t looked back since. The moral to this little story is guys, don’t give up, your significant other can be lured into WoW playing, but beware, she might pwn your face someday :)

Welcome To Almost Epic!

Welcome to Almost Epic with me, Alamara. I’ve toyed around with the idea of writing a World of Warcraft blog for a long while now, but it was only after listening to a few episodes of the Twisted Nether Blogcast, my newest WoW podcast subscription, that I decided to get my butt off the proverbial couch and give it a shot. So thanks to the Twisted Nether Blogcast and all you awesome bloggers in the WoW community for giving me some inspiration. For my first post I figured I’d tell a bit about the real life me before I dive into the wow/gamer/ridiculously nerdy me next time. Hopefully you’ll learn just enough about me to be intrigued and add Almost Epic to your feed reader, but not so much that you become my stalker.

For starters I am a college student at a Midwestern university. I am a double History and Religion major. What am I going to do with that, you ask. Excellent question! Now if only I had an answer for you. If you have any ideas on how I cannot be homeless in a little over a year let me know. Outside of the World of Warcraft, my interests include cooking, reading, all things science fiction, obsessive sports watching (Go Colts!) and dabbling in writing. While I plan to keep most of my posts on Almost Epic WoW related, I may occasionally ramble on about my other nerdy pursuits.

I started playing WoW under the influence of my boyfriend. Sadly I’m not one of those people who have been playing since beta. I started towards the end of the Burning Crusade, only hitting level 60 on my first character the day Wrath of the Lich King came out. I still remember doing a /who as I leveled through Hellfire Peninsula and seeing that it was me and 49 death knights in the zone. Today my main is an 80 gnome affliction warlock and I am a regular, if not hardcore, raider. I also have a level 80 hunter, but she has turned into a glorified bank alt in a dress. Here and there I also find time to level my baby druid as Resto entirely through the dungeon finder tool (its way more fun than it sounds, I promise).

So that’s a bit about me. Next time I’ll go into a bit more in depth into my gaming background. I hope you’ll add me to your feed reader or come back to visit from time to time. If you have any comments or questions you can contact me at almostepicwow@gmail.com.