Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Karazahn, Oh You Beautiful Raid!

The Burning Crusade had introduced two new forms of Raiding, based on the size of the groups.  Gone were the 40 man Raids of Vanilla, here to stay were the 10 man and 25 man Raids of BC.  With the introduction of the new Raid Instances, Blizzard had created specific Raid sizes for each of its new Instances.  Karazahn, the first Raid Tier of BC, was limited to groups of 10 man only.  A typical 10 man consisted of 2 Tanks, 3 Healers, and 5 DPS.  Eventually it would wind down to 2 healers, with an extra DPS taking their place.

Karazahn was my first true Raid, where I'd actually put in some forethought and prepared a specific toon to Raid with.  Molten Core had been a complete mystery to me, where I'd let my online friends guide me basically by the hand in the preparation and eventually entering the Instance.  After I'd levelled my first 70, a Warlock called Gronrad, I started down the path of Attunement that Blizzard had laid out before us.


There was quite a long journey in order to obtain The Master's Key, the requirement for a Toon to enter Karazahn.  It began simply enough, a couple of quests that made you kill and collect some items in the World.  A bit of travelling here and there to different Quest Masters, nothing that was difficult for a single Toon to accomplish.  This is where the solitary part ended, and the group content began.

The next step required you to enter the 5-man Instance Shadow Labyrinth, and find the key fragment beside the last boss.  When BC launched, entry into Shadow Labyrinth required a key, found at the end of another 5 man instance called Setthek Halls.  Are you starting to see a pattern here?  Much of BC required an Attunement in order to move forward in the game.

Heroic versions of each instance required you to purchase a key, a key that was only available for purchase by gold once you earned a certain reputation level with a particular faction.  5-man Instances were grouped into factions:  Hellfire Instances required Honor Hold (Alliance) or Thrallmar (Horde) reputation.  Entry into Blood Furnace would require Revered reputation before the key was made available to you.  Every toon that entered those instances required that key.  Auchindon Instances required Lower City rep, and so on.  There were even specific instance keys, like Shadow Labyrinth and Shattered Halls which required you to either complete another instance first, or follow a particular quest chain in order to obtain the specific key.  Fortunately, where a specific instance key was required, Blizzard thankfully required only one party member to open the door, the rest could enter as long as they had the reputation key for the Heroic mode.  Rogues were in demand at that time, as they were able to pick the lock if they had the required lockpicking skill level.  I used to park my Rogue at the entrance of different instances in order to pick the lock.  As well, there were levers located inside the doors, in order to let people in once you were inside.

All of this eventually disappeared, or became easier, as Blizzard lowered the reputation requirements to Honored.  At the beginning, however, it was much more complicated and time consuming.  An Altoholic would have to send each of their Toons down the Attunement path in order to progress.  For most people, having to do this chain a couple of times was enough.  For me, I was happy to progress each of my Toons into Raiding, and ran those Attunement chains over and over.  It wasn't only for myself, but there would always be someone else that needed a step in the chain, so finding people to run the instances with wasn't that difficult.

Entry into Karazahn

I was still with the guild called TWC when BC started, and was happy to find a spot on one of their 10 man Raid teams.  Finally receiving my Master's Key after following all the Attunement steps, I was ready with potions and a bag full of  Soul Shards.  More memory lane tripping... Warlocks required Soul Shards to do most of their Warlocky things.  Creating Summoning Stones, Healthstones, Soul Stones, you name it, it was required.  So, you'd load up on Soul Shards in your specific Soul Shard bag, and considered yourself ready to Raid.

We entered Karazahn and the Raid Leader started marking targets.  One issue with CC in Kara... most of the mobs were Undead.  Mages can't sheep undead, but Priests and Hunters had a heyday.  This is where I truly learned the value of CC.  4 mobs beating on Raid-ready tanks during the first few runs of Kara were just too much to handle.  Healers would fall behind, and a Tank would quickly fall to incoming damage.  Add to that a Raid-wide fear that some of the mobs would insta-cast, it would turn into a wipe very, very quickly.  Thankfully our Raid Leader was well prepared, and within a few minutes we were facting our first Burning Crusade Raid Boss, Attumen the Horseman.

We learned to position ourselves and target Attumen's mount first, so that the second phase would be brought about quickly.  During the first phase, the mount would randomly charge the closest person out of melee range.  I recall one particular very casual player who wanted to Raid.  She was well liked by the guild, but just didn't have the Raid skills that would allow her to progress beyond anything more than a tag along in a Raid.  The Raid Leader would have her position herself up front, in order to prevent the mount from charging and stunning any of the healers.  She never complained about her role, in fact she seemed more than happy to provide a usefulness, in whatever capacity she could.


We eventually progressed beyond Attumen the Horseman, and reached the Grand Dining Room, with Moroes and his band of mini-bosses.  To this day, that is my favourite Raid boss of all time.  Every time you faced Moroes, he would have 4 mini-bosses with him, each with their own ability.  That was bad enough... but Blizzard added their own nasty twist in that there were 6 different mini-bosses that the 4 would be randomly chosen from.  You never knew which 4 would appear, you had to adjust on the fly each time.

One Tank would make the pull, and the Off-Tank would pick up one of the mini-bosses.  The other 3 mini-bosses would be either Kited or CC'd.  Priests would quickly shackle one, hunters would ice-trap a second, and usually the 3rd was kited by another DPS class.  The DPS would then focus their fire onto the Off-Tank's mini-boss, trying to down that mob before the Off-Tank picked up another Mini-Boss.  All during this, Moroes would disappear at times, re-appearing to apply a Gouge Damage-Over-Time (DOT) debuff on a random player in the Raid.  Eventually, if all things went well, Healers would keep people alive while Tanks and DPS worked together to not only kill each Mob in turn, but to maintain their CC and Kiting until the Off-Tank could pick up each mob.

As a Warlock, most of my initial forays into Kara were just to output as much DPS onto the focused mobs as possible, while not breaking any CC, and using my abilities to help the Healers keep me alive.  I'd marvel at the expertise some of our CC'ers had, one awesome Hunter in particular.  I wish I could remember his Toon's name, but his real name was Matt.  Matt was the first person I saw capable of not only maintaining a steady high DPS output on the targets, but at the same time he would keep one mini-boss ice-trapped, and ALSO kite another of the mini-bosses.  This guy had it down pat, and I vowed to learn from him, as my next Toon to level 70 would surely be my hunter, Wylset.

The rest of Karazahn was pretty much the same excitement, divided into 2 nights of 3 hour Raiding.  Eventually we'd clear it all in one shot, but at the beginning we were doing what every guild goes through, settling down the player rotations, getting people used to the fights, and picking up loot that would help us push through into the next encounter.  We'd faced down the ever-changing Opera event, which rotated between a Romeo and Juliet fight, or the Wizard of Oz Council-type fight.  We'd made it past the fun Chess event, and made it to the top of the castle to face Prince.

Each Raid Boss we faced had its own challenges and trials, sometimes it would take a couple of weeks to get the mechanics and placement down to a regular boss kill, sometimes it would be a straightforward one shot fight.  At the beginning, we were churning through Raid members pretty quickly, rotating people in and out until we starting getting multiple 10-man groups running through.

Progression - Sort of

Progression for me wasn't in terms of seeing the next Raid instance.  It consisted of putting my hand (and my alts) to every type of class role.  As I levelled each Toon, I would send them through the Attunement chain, and gear them up enough in Heroics in order to enter Karazahn.  Eventually, I learned to Tank, Heal, DPS, CC, and even Raid Lead the entirety of Kara.  At my high point, I was running all 9 classes through Kara on a weekly basis.  It was an extraordinary amount of time to put in, but I learned to scour the Trade Chat and quickly jump on any group looking for anything, at all times of the day.  Some weeks I'd slack off, running my Main (Gronrad the Warlock) and a couple more alts, but I'd always keep looking for more runs through Kara.

Into The Burning Crusade

Entry into The Burning Crusade (quickly known as BC) was quite spectacular.  Walking through The Dark Portal the first time I remember seeing all those Fel Legionnaires battling on the steps ahead, a gigantic Demon Lord in the back bellowing out commands.  Just incredible.  The landscape beyond looked barren and alien, the sky above darkened and foreboding.  Welcome to Outland!

Holy Item Level Batman!

Not having raided much in Vanilla, and when I did raid those few times, I hadn't been fortunate enough to get any gear drops for my toons.  I entered into this new zone with quest greens and instance blues -- but that turned out to be not a problem at all.

After landing at Honor Hold and picking up the first few quests, I headed off to do battle with the demonic inhabitants of Hellfire Penninsula.  My Warlock Gronrad with his trusty Voidwalker ready to take the beating.  The mobs hit fairly hard, harder than the mobs in Silithus.  Fortunately I'd made a good choice in the class, and was able to finish off my first quests and headed back to turn in.  I remember some talk in Guild chat about the quest rewards, but it didn't really sink in.  Here were people who'd raided into AQ-40, and had their hard-won gear to show for it.  The shock of seeing the item level of the quest rewards were blowing people away, as they were replacing raid epics with quest greens!   Of course, this was an absolute bonanza for an Altoholic.  I looked forward to jumping up in gear while leveling my alts, once again.

At its release, The Burning Crusade had 10 new character levels, upping the maximum to Level 70.  There would be a whole ton of new 5-Man Instances, new Raids, and for the first time, Heroic versions of the 5-Mans, available at Level 70.  There were also new races introduced during this expansion, Draenai for the Alliance, and Blood Elves for the Horde.  Until this time, I'd stayed mainly on Alliance, with only a small venture onto a Horde PvP server at the suggestion of a real life friend.  My experiences with World PvP consisted of getting a toon to level 25, entering into the contested areas, and getting stomped by any random high level Alliance that felt like making my life miserable.  I quickly went back to my PvE server on Elune.

5-Man Instances And Crowd Control

The first 5-man available to newcomers in Hellfire Pennisula was Hellfire Ramparts.  A fairly linear instance, it was quite a bit different than the meandering runs such as Mauraudon, Wailing Caverns and Blackrock Spire.  There was something that really came into play during this time -- the usage of CC, or Crowd Control.

Up to that point, most of my Instance experiences had consisted of a Tank pulling mobs, the DPS killing the mobs the Tank held aggro on, and Healers in the back keeping us all alive.  A good Tank could hold 3 or 4 mobs beating on them, a great Tank could hold 5 or 6.  Luckily, I hadn't seen that many poor tanks, as I'd been running with the Guild TWC for long enough that we'd had very good Tanks.  Up until then, I hadn't seen much CC, but the new mobs in Hellfire Ramparts were a lot more difficult to handle.  Today, in the era of Heirlooms and facerolling through instance after instance, it's hard to imagine.  Back at the beginnings of BC, however, it was an entirely different game.  Tanks were quickly made aware of Blizzard's change in tactics, as they faced mobs that not only hit harder and had more health, but had things like armor debuffs that would quickly lower a Tank's main defense.  Blizzard already had Crowd Control in place, but it wasn't used very often.  CC truly came into the mainstream of Instances during the BC era.

Hunters used Ice Trap, Mages could Polymorph mobs into Sheep, Priests could Shackle Undead, Rogues could Sap, Druids could Hibernate, and Warlocks could use their Succubus Minion's Seduction to freeze mobs in place.  For me, it was a whole new adventure, using skills I'd used to survive while solo levelling out in the world, and bringing them into a 5-man run.  DPS that could actually keep mobs CC'd until the Tank was ready to engage them became worth their weight in gold.  DPS that couldn't... well, they were more of an annoyance than anything.  The use of Crowd Control seemed to lessen as you progressed in levels, as Tanks and Healers got better gear, and were able to withstand the attacks of multiple mobs.

That is, until we hit Level 70 and proceeded into the Heroic modes of the 5-man Instances we'd been running.  Tanks back then had a Defensive Rating, I can't remember what that value had to be in order to Tank Heroic modes of 5-man Instances, something like 450.  This was a combination of factors such as block, parry, armor, etc. that added up to the Tank being able to survive the massive damage that Heroic Bosses would inflict.  Tanks who didn't stack up in terms of gear would suddenly be faced with more incoming damage than their gear and skills could mitigate, and more than their Healers could overcome.  Heroic Instances were the place where new Tanks would be tested to their utmost, even prior to them setting foot in a Raid.

When a new Tank arrived in these Heroics, they were faced with the choice of pulling and handling groups that would not only have three to eight mobs, but also would have to deal with mobs that would aggro but stay at range... archers, casters and the like.  Back in The Burning Crusade, a Tank had very few options in dealing with those ranged mobs.  They may have had a ranged interrupt, such as a Paladin throwing their shield, but that would only work to draw a caster to them.  Archers would take the damage from the shield and maintain their fire.  Another option would be for the Tank to drag the melee to the ranged.  The problem in that tactic was that the Tank would open themselves up to melee attacks from the rear, which would inevitably turn out to be fatal.

The other way for a Tank to start his pull would be to mark CC targets... usually Moon for Sheep, Square for Trap, Circle for Sap, Triangle for Shackle, and so on.  The Tank would initiate the pull and the DPS would immediately begin to CC their marked mobs.  Focus macros really helped a DPS to maintain a long CC, if it was taking a long time to down the mobs that were aggro'd onto the Tank.  Sure, it would take a little bit longer to set up each pull, but that time was insignificant compared to all hell breaking loose when a Tank died.  CC also helped lessen a Tank's stress in trying to keep aggro off of their healer, as a Healer's natural inclination to fire off a heal right at the start of a pull, in order to mitigate the incoming damage spike on the Tank.

The accountability this placed on DPS was large, but for me it made the game a lot more exciting and challenging.  Remember, the real key to this was that there was no LFD system, you'd have to put together your own 5-man group before entering an instance.  This meant that people who could not only output damage well, but could CC upon request were worth their weight in gold when choosing a group.

I loved this time of the game, where we didn't just rely on a Tank aggroing everything in sight and DPS launching their firepower for all they were worth as soon as the pull happened.  Damage meters like Recount weren't stressed as a measure of how good you were, it was only part of the equation.

Sure, it may seem like Rose Coloured Glasses, but this was a time of personal responsibility in an instance.  Those days are pretty much over, much to some old timer's chagrin....

Friday, 12 September 2014

Guide: 40 man Raid vs A Warlock

Way back in Vanilla, there was a post put up describing in hilarious detail how a 40 man raid should take down a single person playing a Warlock.  That's right, a single Warlock.  This was a post in response in response to some bitching and moaning on the forums about how overpowered Warlocks were.


You can find an SL warlock outside IF or Orgrimmar, this is the place were most SL warlocks hang out.  To initiate combat, you should approach the warlock and talk to him. He will say something about how nerfed warlock were, and how they could not kill anyone in previous patches, and how they became godlike while mages are now water dispensers. After you talk to him, click DUEL to start the fight.

Phase One:

The warlock will begin the fight without a pet, because he will feel too overpowered to use a pet against you. MT#1 and MT#2 should position the warlock so that his back will face the tank farther away from the IF door. It is advisable for them to have at least 350 shadow resistance, and one of them should also have 250 fire resist minimum. (This is explained later). Greater Shadow Protection pots are also a good commodity, as Whipper root tubers and +50 stamina potions from the quest in Blasted Lands.

The melee DPS group (shown as YELLOW in the pic) should stay behind the warlock, near the tank farther away from the Gate. This is done because they will need to retreat behind the tank and bandage, from time to time. (Bandage spot is shown on the pic)

The rest of the raid should position as shown in the picture. It is important for the raid to have about 120-200 shadow resistance, which will help sustain the damage. Keep in mind you will need at least 2 dispellers for each debuff type, otherwise you will wipe pretty soon.

During Phase 1, the warlock will perform a series of attacks:

Shadow Bolt: 

A bolt of shadow is launched every 4 seconds to the tank that has aggro, causing 1200 to 2500 shadow damage, depending on resistance. A shadow bolt will crit between 3500 and 6500 damage, again depending on the target resistance. This is were MT#2 should come into play: If a Shadowbolt crits MT#1, he will have a debuff that will increase Shadow damage by a Zillion times. This is when MT#2 should taunt the warlock to prevent MT#1 from dying. MT#1 will then do the same thing once another Shadowbolts crits MT#2.

Curse of Doom: 

Every 1 minute, the warlock will cast CoD on a random raid member. This member should move outside the raid and unload full DPS, since he will die within the minute.


The warlock will cast Shadowburn everytime he changes target. If one of the raid members gets aggro, he will suffer shadowburn and instantly die. It is important not to OverDPS, or members will die one after another.


The warlock will cast Fear on a randomly raid member, every few seconds. You should provide everyone with Fear Ward if you have it, and dispel fear ASAP, especcialy on MTs and Healers.

Phase 1 is relatively easy and will last until the warlock has 70% life. This can take between 3 and 5 minutes, depending on your equipment.

Phase Two:

When the warlock reaches 70% life, he will instacast a felhunter and Soul Link it. This is when the fight becomes harder.
Note: You cannot kill the warlock while the felhunter is alive. If you try to, the warlock will say that It's not his time yet and will use an healthstone, which will probably render the fight impossible in phase three.

Phase two is all about killing the felhunter.
The felhunter CANNOT BE DAMAGED by magic, as it has very high magic resistance. Also, during phase two, you should not magic debuff the pet or the warlock, otherwise the felhunter will remove the debuff and heal himself.

MT#1 & #2 should stay on the warlock with a few healers, while the melee DPS group will take down the Felhunter, while the magic
DPS group focuses on the warlock. During this phase, the warlock will receive next to no damage, as he is Soul Linked to the pet.

During Phase two, the warlock will have a new attack at his disposal:

Hellfire: Every 20 seconds, the warlock will cast Hellfire and hit anyone within 10 yards for an incredible amount of Fire damage.

Every DPS class standing near the warlock should retreat as shown in the picture and bandage as soon as he casts hellfire. Only the MT with Fire resistance should remain near the warlock. This is done because if the warlock finds no one within melee range during Hellfire, he will summon an Infernal and wipe the raid.

When the Felhunter is dead, PHASE THREE begins.

Phase Three:

Phase three will begin as soon as the Felhunter is dead.
Notes: The warlock should be at around 40% health now. If he's any higher than that, you'll prolly not be able to take him down before you wipe. Also, if you have more than 6-7 dead members by now, you will probably wipe as you can't do enough DPS.

During phase three, the warlock will use all his arsenal to kill you.

Curse of Shadow/Elements/Agony: Every 10 seconds, the warlock will cast a random Curse on the entire raid. These debuffs should be removed as soon as possible. If CoE or CoS are not removed after 10 seconds, the warlock will cast Immolate/Shadowbolt on the member, killing him.

Howl of Terror: The Warlock will randomly cast HoT, hitting all the melees around him. You need to be quick and dispel Fear on the MTs otherwise they will lose aggro.

Death coil: The most imbalanced spell in the warlock's arsenal. This spell will be cast on a random raid member killing him, and will heal the warlock. CT_raidassist will warn you when the warlock is about to cast Deathcoil, and all Healers should hide behind the tank. If more than 3-4 healers are killed, the MTs will not be able to sustain damage and die, wiping the raid.

Phase Four:

When the warlock is at 5% life, he does an emote saying "Imba Warlock performs one last service for Blizzard" He will then cast Curse of Doom on the entire raid. This means you need to kill him within one minute, or you will wipe. You should have at least 15-20 DPS classes still alive here, otherwise you won't be able to kill him in time.

If you manage to kill him within the minute, congratulations! You just killed the hardest boss currently in World of Warcraft!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The First Expansion

Around Christmas of 2006, there was a buzz in the air around the World of Warcraft community.  After many months of anticipation, Blizzard's next expansion The Burning Crusade, was due to drop in January, 2007.  People all around me were excited about the upcoming event.  There would be a World Event around the Opening of the Dark Portal, new levels, new areas, and new.. well..everything.

I wasn't anywhere near ready for the next xpac.  I still had more toons to level, around 4-5 if I recall.  I'd been working pretty consistently since I hit 60 on my rogue, Nifeweaver, and the results were starting to come in.  After the first couple of 60's, I was able to buy them their Epic Mounts as they hit 60.  I'd also been working hard on my professions, having every crafting profession at least once, and several miners, herbalists and skinners.  I found that once I'd maxed out my crafting, the raw mats I was collecting became a nice cash crop for me.

Focused as I was on levelling my toons, I decided to wait for a couple weeks after the expansion dropped to go and buy it.  This was a pre-planned thought.  Being naive sometimes works, but sometimes it reaches up and bites you in the ass... you can miss things you wish you didn't.

The Dark Portal Opens

So, there I was happily in my decision to wait, blissfully ignorant of the EVENT that opened the Dark Portal, when Kelletar logged in.  "Holy shit man, was it ever wild last night, did you get involved in the Opening of the Dark Portal?"  My answer, of course, was no, and "was it a big deal?"  My friend proceeded to paint a picture of a wild event, a HAPPENING that I should've attended, as it would only happen a few times during the entire run of WoW.  Well, at least it was a mistake I wouldn't repeat.

I finished levelling the rest of my toons to 60 within a couple weeks of the release of BC.  I went to the store, bought my copy, and went home to install it.  Two trends started that night.  The first, I'd be buying whatever expansion came out next.  The second?  I'd be buying a newer computer each time.  Without fail, whatever system I had wouldn't be enough to play WoW comfortably when a new expac came out.  Something would be off, usually the video, and I'd have a choice of either going into a new video card, or a new system.  Most times I'd find out that I was a step or two behind in terms of video card slots, and the newer cards wouldn't fit into my system.  So, I'd play the expansion for a month or so, then plunk down enough money for a system that would play it properly.  Most times I didn't mind, a new computer system every few years isn't that hard to swallow, and since I was spending a ton of time playing it, I figured it was still cheaper than most other forms of entertainment.

Twink Time

It's time for a correction.  I hadn't levelled all my toons on Elune to level 60.  One I'd kept at around level 10 or so, a bank alt named Hammahead.  Poor Hammahead just sat in Stormwind, running between the bank and the mailbox, running storage errands for every other toon I had.  We didn't have guild banks back then, so there was no point in making a guild for him.  Instead, I packed him with the largest bags I could at the time, and used him to hold onto stuff I'd wanted to store.

I'd stayed away from PVP for the most part, going in only at the urging of Kelletar.  "It's fun, man, give it a shot!"  So, I took my rogue in, and of course, proceeded to get my ass handed to me time and time again.  I'd never been more frustrated by a game in my life!  I wish I could say that it got better, but it just didn't.  I was a clicker, meaning I clicked on the icons on my toolbar with my mouse, instead of hitting the corresponding keys.  I found a weird way to play, using the arrow keys on the right side of the keyboard to drive my movement, and keybinding the closest keys to target, change views, whatever.  All the while, mouse turning wasn't even on my radar, even when I first started talking with people about how to pvp.  I tried using the W, S, A & D keys, and strafing appropriately, but it just felt so awkward that I gave up trying and resigned myself to leaving the world of PvP to those better suited to it.

Eventually, however, I'd heard about this thing called 'Twinking'.  Basically, it is the purposeful levelling to the end of a bracket (10-19, 20-29, 30-39, etc.) and then stopping the gathering of experience points.  I did some research, and found that I may have a shot at enjoying PvP, limited though my skills were.  I had some advantages built in by being an Altoholic.  One was that I had all my professions levelled, and could provide my lower level twink with whatever gear could be crafted.  I also found out the items that I'd need to acquire during my twink's levelling process.  Some of those items my twink would need to run instances for, all the while mindful of his growing level and xp cap.  From what I'd read, the level 29 twink appeared to be the most fun, with a level 29 toon having just enough spells and abilities to make it fun, without being overwhelming in choices and options.  Split second timing, where your brain quickly decides what skill to use, is valuable in PvP.  I found that by limiting the choices I had to make, the quicker I could come to the right conclusions, and make my time in PvP a lot more enjoyable.  I'm not kidding myself, I wasn't good by any means, but it pushed me further away from the 'total suck' end of the meter.

I made a decision about the class I wanted to play in PvP.  Actually, I didn't make that decision, I rather had it forced upon me.  I'd gone into a 20-29 bracket with one of my toons and played a few games of Warsong Gulch.   Looking at the end scoreboards, where it would show the total damage done by any one toon, there was one toon that stood out, miles above the rest.  This was my introduction to MOTHER.

Mother was a twinked out Level 29 Undead Warlock.  I wish I could remember his server, but it's gone from my memory.  What isn't gone, is the ease of which he played, and the complete and total mastery of his surroundings.  5 toons would run at Mother, trying to get within range.  Between his curses, fire based spells and his imp, there wasn't a single one standing after Mother finished.  Mother would gleefully cackle, never in a spiteful way, but more in a 'come on, bring it on, let's dance!'  kind of way.  I knew I'd found the class.  Now to implement it.

Goodbye Hammahead, Hello Snert

First, I'd have to get rid of a toon.  Poor Hammahead's days were numbered.  He'd faithfully served me and my toons well, never complaining, just happily moving from mailbox to bank to mailbox.   'Sorry Hammahead," I thought, as I clicked DELETE then typed it into the box to confirm my toon's demise.  Proceeding on without much backward glance, I went to work creating my most diabolical toon to date:  a gnome Warlock.  His laughter would be great to hear while he burned down his enemies, much as Mother had done to me and my fellow Alliance PvPers.  I decided on a short name for this short guy, a name that had always brought me a chuckle.  Snert was Hagar the Horrible's dog, and it seemed appropriate for my new dealer of pain.

Well, first I needed to make sure I had all my ducks in a row.  Research and more research eventually led me to the best build, and best gear that I could acquire for my twink.  This was a long project, needed to be completed in precise steps.  Failure to accumulate the right gear out of instances and quest chains would prevent me from gathering the optimum items before I'd gotten to my stopping point, Level 29.  There was a distinct danger in not getting what you needed before you couldn't hit the instances anymore.  Near the end, there was a trick of planting Snert outside an instance, running in with a friend on our higher toons, clearing to a boss that Snert needed gear from, then swapping out my higher toon for Snert.  My friend (usually Kelletar) would take out the boss, and Snert would loot.  It was a sneaky way to do it, but when you were counting down the xp in terms of thousands, it was mandatory to avoid gaining xp, even from trash before a boss.

That wasn't the only thing that that I focused on during my Twinking of Snert.  I also scoured the Auction House at all hours of the day, continually watching for those precious Bind on Equip blues that were the best in slot at level 29.  I don't remember every piece, but I do remember finally finding Stonecloth Bindings, the ultimate for the Bracers slot on a cloth wearing toon.  I'd seen them before, but the prices were always insane.  Hoping that someone would eventually put them up at a price that obviously indicated their auctioneer had no idea of their worth in PvP,   I remember seeing them at around 5 gold, at least 1/25th of their true value.  I snapped them up quickly and sent them off to Snert, for him to hoard away in preparation of hitting level 29.

Finally, the day came that I'd gotten my last piece of gear.  I'd taken Snert into the Battlegrounds of Arathi Basin and Warsong Gulch, the only two PvP areas he could get into at his level.  As I gathered more and more pieces of his ultimate PvP outfit, I felt his power getting closer and closer to that which I saw displayed by Mother.  Finally, it all gelled one day and there I was, dotting everything in sight and watching the numbers scroll by.  I didn't have near the finesse nor the skill of Mother, for where Mother would face his enemies and end up dancing and laughing after the combat, I'd end up in the graveyard, waiting to rez.  The major difference for me, however, was all the KILLING BLOWs that would flash up on my screen.  Even in death, people just couldn't outrun my curses and immolates.  At level 29, as I'd done my research, you couldn't decurse those things.  They'd run their course, and the gear that I'd accumulated gave me enough spellpower to boost my damage over time spells to maximum effect.  It was a blast!

Mother Redux

I was, if I recall, a few weeks after I'd fully twinked out Snert that I entered into a Warsong Gulch match.  Normally, I'd check the names of the Horde we were up against, sometimes recognizing the names of my opponents.  This day I didn't and ran in unaware that there'd be my model Warlock.  There he was, Mother in the Undead Flesh.  My first thought was to run up and hug him, so I did.  He hadn't a clue who I was, but I just had to do it.  Of course, he killed me quickly, but after I hugged him I got a /hug and a /wave back!   After rezzing, the battle really commenced.  We'd seek each other out, and true to our twinked out status, it was pretty much a draw.  My inexperience was mitigated by the outstanding gear I'd collected.  For the most part, our healthstones would'nt save us from each other's damage.  We'd end up dead, lying there waiting for a rez, only to run back, sometimes throwing out a /hug or a /wave before commencing with the damage dealing.  What a rush!  Even typing this today I'm transported back years to that particular afternoon when I saw the hard work, time, and gold that I'd poured into my Twink come to fruition.  I definitely have a smile on my face.

After that particular battleground was over, Mother still outdid me in damage, but by no means in terms of fun.  I then decided to talk to this guy, and quickly logged into his server, created a horde toon (dunno who, it's long since deleted) and sent a tell to Mother.  Fortunately he was still online, and we chatted for quite a while.  I told him that he'd by my inspiration for Snert, and that after watching his awesome skill at twinking out and playing that Level 29 Warlock, I'd modelled myself after him.  He was flattered, and was seemed really happy that his work hadn't gone un-noticed.  I wish that we'd stayed in communication, but cross-realm friends via Real ID was still years away, and I didn't even think about levelling more toons than I already had on Elune.

Alas, after a while, running around in Battlegrounds on Snert wasn't nearly as much fun as the research and time spent gathering his gear.  Eventually I stopped taking him into PvP, and he sat unloved and unused... until much, much later.

Memories Of Firsts

Sitting down today, I thought I'd blog a bit more about the beginnings of an Altoholic.  No, I'm not some Gold Farmer that's chained to his desk trying to level and sell toons (if they even do that anymore?)  I'm just a guy who loves the art of Levelling in World of Warcraft... and had the time to spend on it.

My First Max Level Toon

About 2 months before Burning Crusade was launched, I had my first max level toon.  Nifeweaver, my rogue, dinged 60 after a few day's push.  I'd not really focused on one toon, instead working on all 10 toons as I went.  It's hard to remember all the details after all these years, but I do remember having 6 toons in the 40's at one time.  The surprise I'd get when talking to someone in game about how many toons each of us had, that really never went away.  Even today I'll still get a 'holy shit' out of someone I talk to about my alts.

I also remember the first night I went into Silithus after Nife hit 60.  The quests there were tough, and the aggro you'd get from riding around there was insane.  I'd bounce from one mob to another while trying to navigate through my quest goals.  One goal was on my mind:  gathering enough gold to buy my very first epic mount.  Yes, it was quite different back then.  You bought your first riding mount skill at Level 40, and it went 60% faster than your toon could run. The next level of riding, 100%, was achievable at Level 60.  The one major catch, of course, was that it cost 100 gold for the mount.  Again, back then it was reversed.  The training cost was minor.  The mount cost was a fortune in Vanilla.

Nowadays, in Mists of Pandaria, 100 gold is only a matter of minutes to farm, if you're at level 90.  Do a few quests and vendor the stuff you picked up from looting during those quests, and it's easy.  During Vanilla, however, I spent that first night in Silithus, I slogged my way through and accumulated 40 gold for about 5 hours work.  A pittance compared to MoP, but it was incredible.  I'd -maybe- collected 50 gold total in levelling all my toons at that point.  Still 10 gold shy I headed back to Silithus the next night and was able to get enough to purchase my epic mount.  The fun part of that was logging onto each of my alts and sending Nife their hard won gold.  Leaving each toon with maybe 1 gold, that was tough, but I knew there'd be a fortune ahead, now that I had my level 60 AND an epic mount.


Sometime during those last months of Vanilla I came across a Level 40-something rogue in Westfall while on one of my lower toons.  A measure of your skill back then was being able to solo The Deadmines, the first instance that Alliance characters could group up and test their mettle.  You'd often see level 40ish toons advertising in General chat that they were willing to run a group through the Deadmines.  I quickly sent a message to the rogue, and received an invite from this nice stranger, named Kelletar.

Kelletar ran us through the instance without much trouble, we actually had 3 other lowbie toons much like myself, who knew to just stay back, avoid drawing body aggro, and loot corpses while sucking up the free xp.  Sometimes it was fun just to let someone else drive.  Kelletar was very skilled and moved through the mobs with ease, gathering them up and knocking them down.  He sapped where he needed to, waited for pats and knew the instance like the back of his hand.  I'd solo'd The Deadmines on my own characters a few times by then, but never with the grace and confidence that this rogue had.  It was impressive, to say the least.

After the run, he offered to run us through again, and some of us took him up on the offer.  I knew I'd found a good guy, when Kelletar again advertised in General, just to fill up the party.  He didn't need the help, he just wanted to help others even if it meant taking that extra effort and getting more people into the party.  The second run was a little more difficult, with an inexperienced hunter drawing aggro from Kelletar by running ahead, or starting the pull before Kelletar did.  We paused for a moment while Kelletar patiently advised the hunter to let him pull the mobs, and stay well back.  He was polite about it, and eventually the hunter got into the swing of it and the run went a lot smoother.

When the last boss died, we all thanked Kelletar, and people started dropping group.  I stayed in group and chatted with him for a while.  I told him that I found his runs very impressive, and that I too had a rogue around his level, but I had nowhere near the skill that he'd shown.  Kelletar suggested I add him as a friend (I already had, perhaps a social faux pas, but wanted to keep this guy on my radar).  He offered to help me learn to play my rogue better, and I was grateful for the advice.  Pretty soon Kelletar and I were logging many hours together, running through quest areas, zipping through instances, and having a blast.  We quickly became comfortable with each other's play styles and personalities, and I looked forward to seeing him log in so we could continue on from where we left off.


Kelletar belonged to a guild named TWC, The White Company.  Yes, it sounds racist, but the guild founder was a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and espcially the book called 'The White Company'.  Kelletar offered to get me a guild invite, as my toon at the time was unguilded.  I happily accepted, and found myself immersed in the first truly organized guild.  These guys were raiding, hitting Molten Core on a weekly basis, and pushing into AQ-40.  My highest toon at that time was in his 40's, still a ways away from raiding, but it was a great place to learn more about the game.

I still remember the guild's first 'Get To Know The New Members' night.  Everyone online at the time was gathered into level appropriate groups, and run through an instance by one of the long-term members.  My team leader that night was Junius, again a rogue that had helped Kelletar learn when he was first starting out.  Junius spoke to us in Vent as he led us through that night, and I mentioned that I had a few more toons, and would they be able to get invited to the guild.  His response was music to my ears:  "Sure, bring any and all you'd like, we invite the player, not the toon".   After the run, I proceeded to log one toon after another and got them all invited to the guild.  The 'Welcomes' that rang out in guild chat were overwhelming, especially when someone noted that Junius was doing one hell of a job recruiting, to get that many new players into the guild.  Of course, that soon turned into laughter when Junius admitted that it was actually one player, not a full raid team invading from another guild.  This was the first time I'd experienced (or forced the experience onto a guild) of mass inviting all my toons.  It wasn't the last, and always fun to do.

Molten Core

I've raided on many, many toons. The most raiding I've done was during Burning Crusade, where I had all 10 toons (the max on a server at the time) going through Karazahn.  It was an amazing experience, always being able to join a pug looking for...anything.  I could tank, off-tank, melee dps, range dps, heal, CC, whatever they needed.  I'd run with a dedicated toon on my guild's run, then their alt run.  After that I'd keep my eye on trade chat and join up with a group looking to fill their run.  Eventually most of my toons were committed to running with specific groups, usually other guilds, who would be happy that the pug they needed to bring in was not only competent, but could bring whatever class/role that they were short on.

However, that was my heyday, not my introduction to raiding.  At the time I didn't understand the entire scope of it, but Kelletar started pushing me towards getting attuned for Molten Core.  Basically my friend led me by the nose, going through the appropriate steps in getting attuned.  To this day I still don't remember much of the attunement, other than that first night when Kelletar advised the raid leader that I'd be ready to go.

The nervousness I felt about not wanting to let my guild down was quickly pushed aside when one of the healers, and Kelletar's real life friend, Opus shot me a tell:  "Don't worry Nife, I've got your ass covered, just have fun and assist Junius with your Focus macro."  Kelletar had shown me the brilliance of that little macro, allowing me to quickly switch to the proper target each time.  The biggest memory I had of that night was seeing 40 people in our raid, charging in after the tanks, and beating on the two enormous molten giants that guarded the entrance.  I was too excited to take it all in, even to the point of paying no attention to my health as I ran in after the tanks and started stabbing for all my worth.  I tried to remember to get behind them, not knowing the reason why, but knowing that was what I was supposed to do as a rogue.

I don't remember which bosses we killed, if any, that night.  I don't remember getting any loot beyond trash drops.  I do, however, remember the excitement that lasted well into the night, beyond the end of the run, knowing that this game was absolutely incredible, beyond what I'd already experienced while levelling my toons.

I didn't raid that much during Vanilla, I was still focused on getting the rest of my toons to max level.  I had 9 left to level, and Kelletar kept me advised on the upcoming expansion, The Burning Crusade.  Back then, I didn't pay much attention to the wealth of information that was available.  I focused mainly on sites like Allakazam, and Thottbot, in order to figure out quests that I was stuck on.  I rarely looked up things like loot tables, happy just to get whatever dropped.  Compared to today, I was a total innocent, happy to react to things that happened rather than being proactive.  It was certainly a time of innocence.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Returning to WoW at the end of an expansion...where does one begin?

An old friend I met in Vanilla recently returned to WoW, and I decided to send him a bit of a guide to help him get up to speed as quickly as he wanted once he hit level 90.  

He loved it, and said I should post this somewhere, and I remembered that I'd started this Blog a while back, and left it to waste away.

So, here's some help to anyone who's hit 90, perhaps a boost and looking for a fairly efficient way to get into LFR of the Siege of Orgrimmar.  This is based on an alliance toon, but the same quests are available to both sides, just the names of the quest givers are different around the shrines.  The locations are the same, however.

1.  Once you ding 90, head to the shrine.  Where the innkeeper is, there'll be a dude standing there with a quest, called Stranger in a Strange Land  This is the beginning of the legendary chain.  You'll also get a pop-up quest to go and see Chromie, she's atop the building on the east side of the Vale.  That'll lead you to Timeless Isle with a teleport directly to the Isle.

2. There's a dude on a floating dragon near the FP at the shrine, he'll sell you Pandarian Flying for 2500 gold.  Buy it right away, you'll need it.

3.  Under the shrine's FP are some blue ! marks.  Look for the Elder Lin who has the quest called Warforged Seals  She will trade Lesser Charms for Warforged Seals.  Those seals will allow you a bonus roll on any raid boss you defeat.  You do the quest once per week, trading 50 charms for 3 Seals.  Don't worry if you don't have 50 charms yet, one trip to Timeless Isle will get you enough.

4.  On the ground in front of the Shrine is Lyalia with a yellow !.  She has 2 quests for you: 
Meet the Scout, 
Thunder Calls
Take both of these quests, as you'll want them to supplement your gear.

5.  Queue for the Scenario:  Arena of Annihilation.  It's a non-heroic (regular) 3 man 'instance'  that will pop quickly, and it'll take about 10 minutes to run.  Grab the quest inside, the dude near the gong, and it'll give you a 450 dagger at the end.

6.  Go and see Chromie, she'll give you the quest Journey to the Timeless Isle, use her item to port over to Timeless Isle, and follow the quest chain to the middle of the Isle to meet Timekeeper Kairoz, who has 2 quests, one an exploratory one, and another to gather 1,000 Timeless Coins and meet 2 guys.  Those 2 guys are located on the southern part of the rectangular sunken arena you're at, beside the Emperor.

Timeless Isle

There's a few things to know about going into Timeless Isle.  The important things you're looking for here are Gear Tokens, they will come from just about anything you do on the isle.  These tokens will transform into ilvl 496 gear, with the ability to be upgraded 4 times for 4 ilvls each, 16 in total (at 250 VP each upgrade). Timekeeper Kairoz gave you 2 quests.  Completing both will open up the 1 daily and 2 weekly quests. 

The isle has chests all over the place.  Some are one time use only, some are repeatable every week.  Every chest will have some Timeless Coins in them, from 5 to 400.  Each chest has a chance to have a gear token in them, and there's a few chests that will absolutely have 2 tokens.  They're one time use, they'll disappear when you click on them.  There's a couple of mods that I use, based on the mod called Handy Notes.  Install that first then install the Timeless Isle chests mod.  The chests mod will show the locations of all chests on your minimap, and will make them disappear off the minimap as you discover them.

Handy Notes is awesome, you can make marks on your map like Carbonite, and if you use TomTom it'll turn them into waypoints if you want with a directional arrow and an ETA timer.

Mobs also have the same deal as the chests in terms of loot.  They'll always drop some coins, and have a chance to drop the gear tokens.  There's regular, elite, and rares, and World Bosses on the isle.  The higher the level, the better chance of gear tokens, and the higher the amount of coins that'll drop from them.  

So, when you hit the isle, you want to work on those 2 original quests, gathering 1,000 coins and exploring the isle.  Do yourself a favour, DON'T start using the tokens when you find them.  The quest that requires you to gather 1,000 coins and meet the 2 guys beside the Emperor will reward you with a random gear token.  Complete that quest first, use that token, and then start using the gear tokens as you find them.  Here's why... the random token from the quest will give you a random slot, everything but a weapon.  So, if you start using the gear tokens, like gloves, or a cloak, then use the random one from the quest, you could end up with 2 sets of gloves... not much point.

The gear tokens are based on your current spec.  You can check which spec your are in (in regards to loot, it DOESN'T have to be the one you're currently using) by right clicking your portrait then loot specialization.  Now, for a rogue, it's not a big deal, but say you're on a druid and want Feral vs Resto... big difference.

Gear tokens that you find won't always be for your armor spec... i.e. you'll get cloth, mail and plate as well as leather.  It's a higher chance for your armor spec, but you can still pick up tokens for other armor types.  They are purely bind on account, so you can send them to any toon you own, alliance or horde, cross server no problem.

There's 4 strangely named tokens.  One is a Lavalier, it's to make a necklace.  Curio, will make a trinket.  Signet makes a ring.  The last is a Burden of Eternity.

Burden of Eternity is a gizmo that you apply to a Gear token, and instead of it making a 496 piece of gear, it'll make a 535 piece.  Every piece of gear from Timeless Isle will allow you to upgrade it 4 times for 4 ilvls each (250 valor points to upgrade).  You MUST use a Burden on a Token, not an already converted piece of gear.  As you can guess, Burdens are extremely rare, but you can purchase them from a vendor (one of the guys beside the Emperor) for 50,000 coins.  It takes me about 2 weeks to gather 50,000 coins on a toon, doing the dailies, the weeklies and killing stuff on the isle.

Coins will ALSO come from herbing, mining and skinning while on the isle.

There's one daily quest, and 2 weeklies.  The daily quest is from the Emperor, he'll ask you to kill 20 elites.  No biggie, takes about 30 minutes if you're not geared, about 15 if you are.  The 2 weeklies, one to kill 5 rares, the other to gather 50 Epoch Stones.  There is about 20 rares that spawn on the isle, and people will have mods that yell out sightings and co-ordinates.  You'll get used to locations pretty quickly.  The epoch stones can drop from any mob, the higher the mob, the better chance of a drop.  You'll get 50 in no time, especially doing the daily Kill 20 Elites.  Elites have about a 50% drop rate, rares about 90%.  People group up to do dailies, or rep groups (a long grind for the Emperor Rep), so feel free to join in to anyone asking.

I use a Rare Elites mod, again from Handy Notes, shows you locations on your minimap while on Timeless Isle:

Timeless Coins can be used to buy 489 weapons (10,000 for a 1h, 20,000 for a 2h), shields (10,000), trinkets (50,000 for a 535, and 7,500 for a 496...but the 496 requires honored with the Emperor).  Don't waste your coins on weapons, they can only go up to 504 with upgrades, and you're wasting 20,000 coins plus 2,000 valor to do that.  Go the pvp route for the 522 pvp weapons and work on the 528 drops from LFR.

So, you've run around the island a few times, you've picked up all the chests, and killed stuff... but you're still short some gear.  Probably a trinket or two, a ring or two.... here's where you work on opening up 2 other quartermasters that'll sell you 496 gear for JP's, or 522 gear for VP.

Remember step # 4, the 2 quests for Meet the Scout and Thunder Calls?  Time to open up those areas.  Do Meet the Scout first.  The scout is located in Kasarang Wilds.  Follow that quest chain until you see the cutscene with the alliance ships landing at the beachead.  Once the cutscene is over you'll be standing in front of the Operation Shieldwall Quartermaster, who sells the 496 gear for JP.  1750 for a trinket, 1250 for a ring, and usually a belt or boots, or something like that.  JP stuff is available at Neutral or Friendly, whatever you're at as soon as you open it up.  Total time to open up this area is like 15 minutes.

Next, head up to Townlong Steppes and start the Thunder Calls quest chain.  After arriving on the ship at Thunder Isle, you'll do 4 One Man scenarios.  Each Scenario is about 15-20 minutes in length, not hard for most classes to do, and once you have them complete, you've opened up the dailies on the isle.  Here's where you can choose to do PVE dailies, or PVP dailies, chosen each day.  My suggestion is to go the PVP route, as the island isn't populated with people doing dailies anymore, and won't molest you when you're flagged.  You're working on your 522 PVP Weapons (and gear) so collect your roughtly 600 Honor Points each day and work on getting your weapons.  Doing the 6 or 7 daily pvp quests on the isle takes about 15 minutes.

There is also a Shadow Pan Assault quartermaster (different from the Shadow Pan rep).  You can buy a 522 necklace at neutral for 835 valor.  The rest of the 522 gear can be bought at friendly.  You want to queue for the Throne of Thunder LFR, run ONE wing, and you'll come out almost honoured.  This quartermaster is located across the bridge from the portal to the Isle of Thunder, at the northwest part of Townlong Steppes.  The quest for Thunder Calls takes you up there, so you'll recognize the area quickly.  I can't remember what ilvl you need for the Throne of Thunder LFR but if you've gone to Timeless Isle and gathered the 496 stuff from there you'll be fine.

Finally... to WEAPONS.

PvP gear vs PvE gear... there's no penalty for using pvp stuff in pve, the itemization is just a pvp power tacked on to regular pve gear.  You can gain honor by doing bg's and arenas, and you can do it by converting JP's to HP's at a 50% loss.  The vendor is in the ground floor of the Warrior's Guild in Stormwind, near the Heirloom Vendor.  He'll sell you 250 HP tokens for 500 JP.

Here's your goal, should you choose to accept it:  

To buy any PVP weapons, you MUST get a season total of 7125 honor.  Here's the quickest way to do it:  

For 2 x 1h:
Buy 2 x 2250 HP pieces (chest, legs, head).  These are 522 gear, so don't worry about scrubbing your 496 stuff from Timeless Isle Gear Tokens.  This will give you a 2 piece bonus as...well, a bonus :D  Btw, honor is capped at 4000 before you have to buy something, so buy one at 2250, get another 2250 and buy the 2nd piece.

So, now you're at 4500 on your season total.  Now, save up 2625 (making your season total 7125) and buy your 1st 1h for 1750.  If you need another one, save another 875 honor and you've got your 2 x 1h.

For 1 x 2h:
Buy 1 x 2250 HP piece (chest, legs, head).  Next, buy a 1750 HP piece.  You're at a season total of 4,000 HP.  Next, go all the way and save up your 3500 for your 2h weapon.  You'll be a bit over the 7125 mark (7500 total) but you've got 2 decent pieces of 522 pvp gear and your weapon.  You -can- go with a 2250 and a 1250, but you'd be at 3500 and needing 3625 more jp anyway.  Your choice.

JP's are easy to get, just run heroics and you'll average about 480 per run.  As soon as you get near any multiple of 500 convert them over to HP.  Remember not to enter a heroic at above 3500 JP in your total, or you'll be capping out at 4000 if you hit a 5 boss instance worth 600 jp.  

Somewhere in all this advice you'll find yourself hitting 496, and you'll be able to queue for the LFR version of Siege of Orgrimmar.  My guess is that it'd take you about 5 hours play time to get there, depending on what tokens drop for you on the Isle.

Good luck, and hope this guide takes some of the head-scratching you're doing trying to weed through websites and blogs and other information to get you up to speed.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Moving, what a joy!

The Glass is Mostly Full..

I've been working for a company I'm exceptionally happy with, my days begin and end with a smile on my face.  Much, MUCH different than the last job I had.  Stress that had pretty much incapacitated me from my previous job is now a fairly distant memory.  Unfortunately, I'd moved to be closer to that job...which meant my new job was over an hour commute each way.  Not terrible, but during the winter it can be a lousy drive, especially after a long day when you'd just like to get home.

After a year of that commuting, I found a place much closer to my work.  It's almost perfect.  Large, country estate surrounded by farmer's fields.  Fantastic landlord.  Roomy apartment.  More room than I need, but the price is fantastic.  2 friendly dogs that have adopted me as their new pet.  Almost perfect... the only access to the internet is through Satellite.  I've tried logging in, but the signal to my apartment is too weak to give me anything other than a 'limited' connection.  Even my smartphone only gets spotty access, or I'd be using it as a WIFI hotspot until I get things going.  

So...World of Warcraft is impossible to play for the time being.  It's been almost a week since I last logged on to my account.  This is actually the longest period I've not played.  It's strange, but it's given me some time to play some older, forgotten games while I figure out what it's going to take to get myself up to speed, literally, with my net connection.  

In the meantime, here's to some time spent enjoying older classics like Heroes of Might and Magic II, and Civilization II.  Yes...older.  Friends who helped me moved asked why I held on to old desktops (I moved 7 of them with me this time).  This is the reason.   You never know when you want that old program that just won't work on your newer Windows Vista, 7, 8, whatever.  I've got machines going back to Windows 3.1.  Sure, you can always bring your data forward on CD's or DVD's... but try to run AutoCad R14 on anything higher than Windows XP, you're screwed.  

Starting this blog a week before I moved, well, sometimes you just don't see into the future clearly.  Ah well, I can at least take some time at work to jot down some Wanderings here and there.  I'd have like to taken Shawn's advice from  but to blog everyday requires time and access.  Time I have...access... not so much.