Archive for October, 2012

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WoW: DING! Level 90

October 11, 2012

Sixteen days after the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria release, I finally reached level 90 last night with my druid main. Given my pacing, a little more than two weeks is about when expected I’d make the new level cap. I wouldn’t say I consider this “slow” by any means, but I do know that I have been a bit sluggish compared to some of my fellow bloggers, some of whom I know hit the big ding last week.

Indeed, this is the first WoW expansion where I’ve actually taken it easy, and it has been good. I’ve been taking my time, spreading it between leveling my main and playing my new Pandaren Monk, in addition to also doing a little bit of dungeon running on the side with guildmates. If you recall, I reserved a Mage alt exactly for that last purpose, and that lowbie spellcaster I started weeks ago with my friends is now level 80. With all of us having mains from different servers, different factions and different levels, this has become a way for us to do group content together.

If you’ve seen my WoW pet hunting posts, you’ll also know that I’ve been completely addicted to the new pet system. My progress on that has been happening in the background, mostly in the afternoons when I find lulls during the day between chores and working on my commissions. As well, the baby’s napping schedule is still a little sporadic, which makes the pet collecting/battling mini-game the perfect activity, whether I get 20 minutes or 2 hours to play. It’s also essentially the closest thing to a “pause” button in this MMO; once you engage a wild pet in a fight, the whole world literally fades into the background, you can’t get ganked or attacked by roaming mobs, and the game will wait for your turn until you take it. When I need to step away from the computer in a hurry, I can do it without a second thought.

Overall, I’ve been quite impressed by MoP. Admittedly, this is the most fun I’ve had in WoW since The Burning Crusade, which still happens to be my favorite expansion. Granted, as is the case with most MMOs I play, a lot of my enjoyment has to do with the people with whom I’m playing, but a part of me is also convinced there’s something special about MoP. Contrasting it with Cataclysm, I feel that this expansion has a lot more personality and character. Don’t get me wrong, I really didn’t think Cata was that bad, but while it was an ambitious and bold move by Blizzard, I also felt the last expansion lacked a certain cogency and at times seemed like it was confused with itself. MoP on the other hand feels like it has a clearer direction and things more in check.

Cuddly!

The other thing is, I know a lot of people have put this expansion down it for its cutesy nature and cuddliness, and that’s certainly a valid criticism. I’m definitely not denying that the game has dialed up big time on the whimsy, but I also don’t think it should be the only reason to stay away. There’s just so much more to explore in this expansion that a concern like that just melted away once I actually got to play more of the expansion.

At least to me, it sure feels like there’s a lot more to do in MoP. In addition to my pet hunting shenanigans, now there’s even farming to do! And I don’t mean MMO farming, I mean the tilling, seeding, watering, harvesting kind of farming! I’m crossing my fingers here, but getting your own little farmstead and plots to grow crops in certain feels like a first step towards one day seeing player housing in WoW. If this is some sort of experiment by Blizzard, I have to say it’s proving quite successful.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is, I’ve hit 90 and I already feel completely overwhelmed. I know there’s a lot to this expansion, but I don’t feel it so much when I’m leveling because there’s always that forward direction and an ever present goal to reach level cap. However, once I got there, it was like, where’s an Everything-You-Need-To-Do-Once-You-Hit-Level-90 checklist when you need one? There’s farming and cooking for the Tillers, fishing for the Anglers, other reputations to work on, two entire remaining questing zones to complete, professions to level, more pets to hunt…

I haven’t even thought about the dungeons I need to run yet. No doubt I’ll be doing some endgame instances real soon, but so far gearing up has been the last thing on my mind. That’s probably a good thing, since that process has always been the first step leading me to burnout in the past. We’ll have to wait and see how long MoP will keep me playing, but right now it does appear to offer a lot more to do at endgame compared to the previous expansions.

To close off, I’ll leave you with some of the gorgeous visuals I’ve come across on my adventures through Pandaria. I have to say they’ve really nailed the Eastern themes.

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The Secret World: Monday Night Thrill-Seekers

October 9, 2012

Hrrmm, creepy black veins around my screen. What could go wrong?

From its launch, I’ve praised The Secret World as the most fun and interesting MMO I’ve played in years, and that I plan on sticking to it for a long time especially if they keep up with their monthly updates. I know there have been some hiccups along the way for Funcom, including some restructuring and staff layoffs, but against all odds they’ve managed to catch up and maintain their update schedule! What is this? How dare they keep their promises! Now where the hell am I going to find the time to play all this new content?! Unforgivable, I tell you…

Yeah, I’ll be the first to admit I’m no good at MMO juggling. Being able to concentrate on one game at a time appeals more to my personality, but I try and try anyway. Thanks to Guild Wars 2 and now World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, I’ve been shelving TSW to play again when things calm down a little, but it doesn’t help that every time I sit down and my computer and see a TSW article, some exciting news about upcoming updates, or even the game icon on my desktop, I get the urge to fire up the game. My addiction to it is still very much in my system.

What I really need is focus, and sometimes a schedule or a little bit of enforced structure does wonders. Which is why I’m so pleased that my multi-gaming guild has decided to put together “The Secret World Nights”.

These static weekly Monday night sessions began yesterday, when a handful of members from Knights of Mercy dove right back into the game and started kicking Egyptian cultist butt. Like all MMOs, the game is so much more fun when playing with other people — not to mention the difficulty level takes a jump once you leave the Solomon Islands and head into Egypt, so the extra manpower really helps. Not only were we able to support our fellow cabal-mates, the quests being repeatable also garnered everyone, even those who have completed them already, much needed AP and SP.

At the end of the night, the remaining brave souls, full of piss and vinegar, even tried to take on super-powerful mobs in a lair. These are a somewhat new feature in the game, which is probably why we were completely unprepared for the good old-fashioned thrashing we received. Originally designed for three players in endgame gear, lairs have been toned down so more casual players can also attempt them, but it was still painfully clear that we had wildly overestimated our own power. Silly us! This is TSW, after all.

KoM will be returning to TSW next Monday night, and every Monday thereafter, hopefully to polish off some of the new quests that have been added in the latest issues. It’s great, even if you’re not the grouping type but would still like the company. Personally, I love it because I know this is a great opportunity for me to keep up with the content.

Speaking of which, by the way, I still need to get my rocket launcher. Oh, and we all know the Halloween content is coming soon…

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The Pet Hunter Diaries: Azeroth Achieved!

October 8, 2012

Dear Diary,

New Acquisitions: 58
Current Total: 309

Believe me when I say you would not want to be one of my World of Warcraft battle pets. I would scream obscenities at you, put you through a grueling workout regime that would make you wish you’d never been born, then force you into violent fights with other pets over and over again until you’re beaten black and blue and unconscious. That’s exactly what I did with my stable of battle pets; I PT’ed those useless maggots (and some of them actually are maggots) until I had myself an elite team of bloodthirsty level 25s.

Only then did I feel ready to take on the bigwigs of the pet battling world. That’s how a few days ago I managed to unlock the pet battle dailies in Azeroth, accomplished by defeating all the battlemasters in Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. Getting to that point really wasn’t so difficult at all — especially if you’re actively hunting unique pets at the same time; the experience points roll in, and the levels simply fly by. Soon enough, I was ready to take the fight to Outland and Northrend.

As far as the hunt goes, I’m only missing the really hard-to-find Azerothian wild pets and those that only show up during certain conditions. I’d consider myself a patient person, but I’m still not about to fly to Stranglethorn every half hour to check if it’s raining. Speaking of patience, I’ve also taken to letting the game idle on my machine while I’m busy with my real life obligations during the day, occasionally throwing glances over my shoulder as I’m working around the house to see if a pet I’d been camping has finally decided to respawn. Pet collecting is like the perfect hobby for us compulsive multi-taskers.

Unfortunately, more people are also clueing in on the server reset trick. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who cares about pet battles, but that’s clearly not so. Last time I tried to log out and camp at a pet “hotspot” before a scheduled restart, there were about a dozen or so other people who had the same idea. Hopefully in about a few months things will get better as our group of pet-obsessives get what we need and move on.

I’ve begun to do the pet hunting exclusively on my Mage now, since being able to teleport to every major part of the game world is the only way to travel, especially now that I’m canvassing Outland and Northrend. One interesting thing to note, is that once you hit around level 20-22 with your team of battle pets, it looks like you’d be strong enough to tackle wild pets everywhere, including the Cataclysm zones and even into Pandaria.

Sad to report, Diary, that so far I’ve had very little luck hunting in Outland, and only slightly better luck in Northrend. There’s always one single pet exclusive to each zone there, and they’re almost always nigh impossible to find…

Happy hunting and until next time,

MMOGC

Latest field notes and recently hunted pets:

Once again, showcasing some of the more unique pets I’ve captured on my travels, because quite frankly I’m getting rather sick of all those variations of snakes, spiders, rabbits, squirrels, etc.

Pebble

To get this little guy you must complete achievement Rock Lover which involves doing Lost in the Deeps daily at the throne of Therazane in Deepholm 10 times. The catch is, some of the dailies there are random, changes every time. And whaddya know, apparently random = rare. I’d sat at 9/10 times completed for the past two months because that quest was never up, and I checked every day since I resubbed. No wonder I hardly ever see anyone with Pebble on my server.

Diemetradon Hatchling

Familiar to those who remember questing in Un’Goro Crater, which also happens to where I hunted this pet. They tag alongside the Diemetradon Elders that dwell there; a trick to get hatchlings to spawn if you don’t see them, kill Elders and wait for respawns with these little babies accompanying them. Very cool looking pet!

Sporeling Sprout

Obviously the pet exclusive to Zangarmarsh in Outland, doesn’t seem to be very abundant, but got lucky and bagged this pet as I was flying over Sporeggar and spotted him. Looks like I have graduated from being small-time poacher to Sporeling sprout abductor. I should feel bad, but he happened to be the Humanoid type pet I captured to gain Family Reunion achievement, so I don’t.

Fel Flame

Found in Shadowmoon Valley, it’s a great pity pet for those of us who were never lucky enough to get Searing Scorchling that drops off the ice lord boss that’s part of the Midsummer event, or who can’t be assed to grind more Firelands dailies to buy the caches with Marks of the World Tree for a chance at him.

Clefthoof Runt

Here we go with poaching baby animals from their parents again. Remember these guys from Nagrand? Seems pretty rare, but one day flew over a herd and there happened to be quite a few of these tagging along. A runt he may be, but he is still almost as big as my cat form.

Stunted Shardhorn

Another “runt” pet, one of the first Northrend pet I captured, native to Sholazar Basin. Has tendency to spawn inside trees that annoy me to no end! I had to put two or three out of their misery until I came across one I could battle. Always wanted a baby rhino.

Water Waveling

Quite a few of these at the water fields in Zul’Drak. Now I can run around and pretend to be a frost mage with my very own pet water elemental.

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The Pet Hunter Diaries: Notes From The Great Azerothian Safari

October 2, 2012

Dear Diary,

New Acquisitions: 96
Current Total: 251

Uh, yeah. Just as I thought — it’s pet collecting madness after the release of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, as evidenced by my new acquisitions count and current total, which illustrates a huge jump in numbers from last week. There are so many new pets to hunt and collect.

My guess is, if I’d spent as much time leveling as I did pet hunting and battling this week, I would have reached level 90 by now. But it’s the perfect thing to do in the middle of an afternoon when your baby is napping. Or any time you have a moment to spare, really. What I’ve been doing is methodically going through Azeroth zone by zone, hitting the low level areas first and working my way up. Basically, the higher the level range of the zone, the higher level of the pets you’ll find in them. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can defeat the NPC trainer in one zone, then you are most likely good to go to move on to the next level bracket.

Other notes I’ve picked up from my great Azerothian safari:

  • It’s all about the team! Team make-up is probably the most important aspect of pet battling, and you’ll probably find yourself constantly switching around and tweaking yours depending on the type of fight. At least, you should be. Always mix it up, and don’t be tempted or feel like you have to be stuck with the same 3-pet team.
  • Consider leveling up at least one of each type of pet (e.g. Flying, Magic, Critter, etc.) because you never know when one of them will come in handy. Variety is key! I definitely would not recommend filling your team with three pets of the same type; it’s a bad idea, as evidenced by some of the NPC trainers you will no doubt tasked to defeat. For instance, I wiped the floor with the goblin Cassandra Kaboom, using a strong Elemental pet against all three of her Mechanicals. You don’t want the same thing to happen to you.
  • If you’re going to be leveling at least one of each type of pet anyway, and seeing as there are 10 types all together, it’s perfect to level several teams in tandem. When looking for battles in one zone, rotating 3-4 teams also lets you take advantage of the 8min cooldown on your heal/revive pets ability, so no need to visit a stable master every time you get battered up. When one team gets low on health, simply switch to another one. This ensures you’ll have about a dozen pets all around the same level no matter where you go, also allowing for minimal downtime.
  • Make sure to still keep a good number of pets at every level or level bracket. You never know when you’ll be traipsing through a lower level zone one day and see a wild pet that catches your eye, and you’ll want a battle pet at a similar level to capture it. This shouldn’t be too hard if you’ve been an avid hunter already, as pets keep their levels when you catch them.
  • Admittedly, leveling pets can be a bit of a grind if that’s all you’re focusing on. The best way to make it not feel like one is by making it a hunting expedition. Time flies when you have a goal in mind, especially if that goal is adding a new unique pet to your collection. Still, even when you catch a new pet, why stop there? Chances are the quality of that pet can be improved, because you’ll probably be catching a lot of “Common” ones.
  • Don’t settle for “Poor” quality! I certainly don’t. Hunting uncommon and rare quality pets can help you level up quick by keeping your mind off the grind. Kill all Common pets you encounter that you already own (there are addons out there that help let you know), and usually by the time you finally bag that your Uncommon or Rare, you would have gained a healthy amount of XP for your team(s).
  • When you find you need to focus on leveling one particular pet, you will want to take it to a zone where there are wild pets appropriate to its level, but see if you can give it an advantage by choosing areas are that teeming with opponents that are weak against it. For example, when I found I needed to power level my Lil’ Tarecgosa, I took to the wilds of Feralas, where the Flying type Nether Faerie Dragons there were getting one-shotted by her strong Magic type attacks. The quick XP gain meant I was able to level her from 8-11 in a matter of minutes.
  • Pet hunting comes with a whole other set of rules, since your goal is not to kill, but to capture. Before you set out, it’s good to have a good mix of pets at varying levels on hand. Usually, a good rule of thumb is to have pets about 1-2 levels above the ones you hope to catch, meaning they are strong enough to not lose the fight, but at the same time they aren’t so strong that you’ll risk killing your opponent outright. Also, be careful not to use abilities that your targets are vulnerable to or you’ll risk doing too much damage, leading to a dead pet and a botched hunt.
  • Also good to have are pets with “small” attacks (like leech life or abilities that do periodic every turn). They’re good for those annoying situations where you’ll get your opponent just a sliver of health above the threshold which activates the trapping ability, when all they need is a tiny little nudge to put them in the sweet spot (25-30% health range). Always look at the numbers, especially when your opponent goes under 50% health. Calculate the damage of your attacks, and pray you don’t get a freak crit that kills the pet you hope to capture.
  • It’s also helpful to have a “tanky” pet on hand, one you can use to soak up damage between turns while you try and capture, because the truth is sometimes the trap misses. This can prevent your other pets from being whittled down and dying on you, because once they die they get no experience at all, no matter how much they participated.
  • While I do prefer to level a bunch of pets at once and keeping them all at around the same level, admittedly it’s sometimes good to have along a “brute” that’s higher level than all the rest. They come in handy during those times where you find the need to completely and utterly destroy your opponent, without delicacy or any of the subtleties. Fighting against NPC battle trainers, for instance. Or, say, when you’ve caught the pet you were after and now that a second pet has joined the fight, you just want the battle to be over. Brutes are good as a back-up plan, and I find bears especially good for the job (Baby Blizzard Bear, Hyjal Bear Cub, etc.)
  • I’m finding that each zone has at least one pet unique to them. Not always, but in general this is the case. Sometimes, that pet can be a bit hard to find. Maybe I just got lucky, but I wonder if server resets can be used to your advantage? All I know is, after days of hunting around the Wetlands for Tiny Bog Beast or Arathi Highlands for Tiny Twister and having no luck, one time I showed up in both places after a server reset and there were a bunch of them all over.
  • Some pets will only come out during certain conditions. For example, Widow Spiderlings in Duskwood or Stone Armadillos in Desolace will only appear at night. Baby Apes in Cape of Stranglethorn only when it’s raining. When it comes to finding out information like this, sites like Warcraftpets.com are your friends.
  • Once you get out of the starting zones, you’ll find most wild pet battles will consist of two opponents; you’ll get an alert that another pet has joined the battle after you engage, and it will sit in the sidelines until you defeat the first. Some wild pets only show up as the “second” pet of a team battle. I suspect the Snowshoe Hare in Hillsbrad Foothills may be one of these. Keep in mind, you can only capture one pet per battle.

Happy hunting,

MMOGC

Latest field notes and recently hunted pets:

Too many to list all of them, obviously. And anyway, most of them are the same variations of your common models of rabbits, mice, snakes and spiders, etc. Believe me, after a while, you get so sick of seeing rats and rabbits like in every zone you go. Anyway, I’m just going to showcase some of the more unique ones I’ve found on my travels, or a few that I personally like.

Lucky Quilen Cub

What the heck is a Quilen you ask? Apparently a lion dog thingy with disgustingly huge blue watery doe eyes. Finally got this after entering Collector’s Edition code to upgrade my game. Holy crap, this thing is so cute it’s ugly, didn’t even know that was possible. It kinda hurts just to look at it.

Giraffe Calf

No safari is complete without a giraffe. Caught this little (um, maybe not so little?) guy out in Southern Barrens among roving giraffe herds, just swooped in and stole him away from his parents. WoW has turned me into poacher. Next up is training him to become a killer in underground fighting ring. Anyway, pet is TALL. Towers over gnomes. Throw a pet treat that increases its size at it, and it also gets as big as a hunter pet. Got loads of comments.

Lost of Lordaeron

These ghosts are all over the place out in Tirisfal Glades, common but very cool model nonetheless. Also shows you can capture of some of the most unique and pretty pets right in the low level zones, like Gazelle Fawn in Mulgore or Ravager Hatchling in Bloodmyst Isle. Best looking pets are not always locked in later parts of game, though not sure how respectful it is to be able to capture and own and treat the spirits of the dead like…well, pets. Game has turned me into monster.

Tiny Harvester

All over Westfall, very commonly seen in the fields. Essentially miniature of annoying Harvester mobs that try to kill you, but starting out in the human lands it was first wild pet I saw that got me really excited about pet hunting. But also special to me as first catch of this pet also happened to be my first Rare. Very detailed and unique little pet.

Tiny Twister

We have pet models of earth elementals, fire elementals, etc. about time we get an air elemental pet. Found only around Circle of Outer Binding out in Arathi Highlands, but rarely seen because of possible long respawn times. Hunted for two days without seeing any until after server reset, and then there were many. Good luck if you go, and pray some jerk hasn’t caught or killed them all.

Tiny Bog Beast

Yet another “Tiny” pet. Also seems to be quite rare because of possibly long respawn times. Found in Wetlands around the Green Belt, northwest of Greenwarden’s Grove. Finally bagged myself one and only shortly after a server reset, may be harder to find but very awesome looking, well worth it to hunt.

Fishy

FISHY! Oooh, fishy fishy fishy fish! A fish, a fish, a fish, a fishy, oooh! Oooh, fishy, fishy, fishy fish! That went wherever I did go… My first pet quest reward out in Pandaria, that lives in a floating water bubble. To be the greatest pet hunter, quests must not be neglected!

Feral Vermling

And of course, the achievement reward for collecting 250 unique pets, a fairly easy one to do now these days. Kind of a scary-looking little bugger with its red eyes and evil smirk. I think it might be planning something…