Raiding is from Satan..

.. and other insights are now available, courtesy of WoW Insider. A prime example of hilarious WoW Drama.


Blizzard vs Peons4hire

Blizzard is going on the offensive against gold sellers. They have sued Peons4hire. Interestingly enough, Blizzard is not suing them for gold selling or Terms of Service violations per se. This lawsuit is about spamming. Since there are successful precedents of email spam victims and ISPs suing spammers, this lawsuit might even succeed.

World Of Warcraft: Dancing

A video showing where the various WoW /dance emotes originated from. It's missing a few races, though. For example, trolls, Forsaken, gnomes, female orcs, female tauren and female humans. I hope a part 2 is in the making. :)


TBC raiding: linear and non-progressive?

Tobold recently post his impressions on patch 2.1. The general consensus seems to be that raiding currently requires a full-time commitment and it is killing WoW. While WoW is quite unlikely to collapse outright, because the effects of MMORPG interia will reduce the collapse to a slow bleed. Would you abandon a character and the community that you spent the last two years overnight? I don't think so, because there is no alternatives available that are significantly better.

While I agree that WoW endgame has several outstanding issues, I don't think that the problem is as bad as the doomsayers make it sound. Patch 2.1 did have a lot of changes that should make somewhat easier. They do not address the major flaws, though.

What are the major flaws then? In my opinion, strictly linear progression and non-progressive content.

One thing that TBC has done really well is the 5-man instances. There's lots of them and they stay a viable option at level 70 thanks to the Heroic system. They are and remain challenging to even raiders, but are not too difficult. Since every individual heroic instance has a 1-day reset timer, people are encouraged to try out different isntances to stop them from getting bored. However, this freedom of choice vanishes the moment you start raiding.

Although the attunement chart suggests that Karazhan, Gruul's Lair and Magtheridon are your starter raid instances, the only real choice is Karazhan. Gruul and Magtheridon will wipe the floor with your raid unless you are epicced out from Karazhan, PvP or Heroics. Gruul is generally considered to be the easier of the two, so once you are farming him and Nightbane, you can enter Serpentshrine Cavern. Once Magtheridon goes down you can enter the Eye in Tempest Keep. Once both Lady Vashj and Kael'thas Sunstrider die, you can enter Mount Hyjal. Once you have killed the first boss there (and A'lar, the phoenix god boss in the Eye), you can enter the Black Temple.

Do you see the prevalence of preconditions there? Let's compare it with Vanilla WoW.

Zul'Gurub, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj and the Temple of Ahn'Qiraj are instantly accessible. Molten Core, Blackwing Lair and Naxxramas require a single attunement quest each, are not linked and at most require a single instance run. Onyxia has a lengthy attunement quest, but is required only after you have progressed deeper into Blackwing Lair. While the relative difficulty of the instances does set a recommended sequence, you can switch instances if you choose to do so.

TBC raiding is strictly linear, with the trouble spot at Gruul and Magtheridon. These are very difficult encounters at first, and you cannot proceed any further until you defeat them, leaving Karazhan as the only place you can go.

The status of Gruul and Magtheridon as gatekeepers is enforced by the nature of their instances. These are very short instances in the style of Onyxia. A handful of trash mobs, followed by a boss. The trash mobs do not drop any interesting loot, nor do you gain any crafting materials or reputation in the process. If you keep wiping, there's nothing to show for your efforts, just a hefty repair and consumable bill. This discourages guilds from even attempting these encounters.

In small-group/solo PvE content, PvP and vanilla WoW raiding, the idea of progressive content worked. Any effort was rewarded by something, be it random epics from trash mobs, reputation or crafting materials. Even if you wiped horribly on some boss in Molten Core, you did gain something which made the next raid slightly easier. This is not the case with Gruul and Magtheridon. Each time is as hard as the previous one.

Gatekeeper encounters are fine when they are buried in the middle of normal raid instances, since you can clear everything up to the gatekeeper encounter. However, Gruul and Magtheridon are Onyxia-like encounters, not full instances. The progressive content model breaks down, which discourages guilds from trying these encounters. So, they return to Karazhan. So if you were looking forward for endgame raiding consisting of 6 instances instead of one, it's no wonder people became frustrated. As well-designed as Karazhan is, I can see myself become bored of it eventually. The upgraded loot will keep people interested for a while, but will it be enough?

The introduction of Zul'Gurub back in the day was a very welcome addition to raiders who were burned out by Molten Core (pardon the pun). I hope Zul'Aman has the same effect for TBC.


You gotta know who's the boss..

A gnome explains the fundamentals of a relationship to all those silly females.


Even the mighty can fall

The Dark has claimed an another casualty. A long time ago, Sargeras, the champion of the Pantheon, despaired in the face of his great task. And just like him, Tseric has now succumbed as well. He too fought forces that desired only chaos and strife. And just like Sargeras, his eventual downfall was foretold by the numerous cracks and fissures on his metallic skin. Once the fiends got under his skin, the breaking point soon followed.


Quag Done Quick

One of the great things about the Internet is that there's billions of people that come up with stuff that you've never thought about. However, this is not one of them. Soloing bosses by making them run back and forth is an old trick, but this time.. there's epic loot involved. While Blizzard should have prevented things like these from happening long ago, it's still a neat video.


Blood, Fire, Death

"The Weaver has certainly blessed me today.", Shalkis thought. No bodyguards.. no sycophants.. not even servants. The prey is completely exposed. He slowly walked around the edge of the arena, oblivious of the two red eyes starting at him through the thin slits of Shalkis' wooden mask. She carefully walked around the outer edge of the stony steps of the auditorium. Too much was at stake to be caught now.. She followed him around until he sat on the edge of the Arena. She was now convinced that he was alone and approached.

Tziak turned slowly and gazed towards Shalkis.
"I didn't expect to see you here, but.. Could you step into the Arena?"
"Hmm...A familiar voice...Shalkis?"
Shalkis drew her sword and held it lazily, with the tip pointing towards the ground.
"Pretty please?"
"Planning on making a sacrifice? Not wishing to converse? How unlike you, Shalkis..."
Tziak stood slowly.
"Of course not. An example."
"An example of what?"
"Patience.. you'll find out soon."
The pair started walking towards the ramps. Tziak in the front, and Shalkis following at a swords-length behind him.

"Very well... You wish to fight, yes? Not exactly my strongest skill, but still...i shall fight, if you will speak with me first.."
Shalkis stayed silent.
"Answer me?"
She prodded Tziak with her sword. Tziak eyed the dark blade and then chuckled.
"A sword in the stomach, hmm?"
"Keep moving."
Tziak rolled his eyes and walked down the ramp onto the crimson sands.

"Spill his blood all over the sands!"
"Feast upon his heart!"
The voices were still whispers, but loud enough to be heard clearly. Shalkis could almost smell Tziak's delicious blood, pumping in his veins.. then he turned and spoke.
"Now, shall you speak?"
Before Shalkis could reply, he heard an another voice from behind her.
"It is an honor to be in your presence once again."
Hidden behind her mask, she smiled. Audience. And judging by his words, a Gurubashi. The blessings are numerous today, she thought. And before she realized it, a red haze filled her vision and words escaped her lips:
"This might sting a bit."


Tziak was lying on the ground.. frostbitten. As was the other troll. Shalkis would have preferred if he was conscious, but one cannot have everything.
"Now.. get up.", she barked towards Tziak.
"The reason why we're here.. I've been thinking what the warcry of the Empire really meant.."
Tziak slowly opened his eyes, and his flesh was already regenerating rapidly.
"P-pardon...wait till my ears r-regrow...", he smirked and coughed up some blood.
"The Blood.. that corrupts us.", she bellowed and drove her blade through Tziak's hand.
"The Fire.. that consumes us.", she continued yelling. Flames danced on her fingertips and jumped to Tziak, burning away the regenerated flesh.
"The Death.. that sets us free.", she screamed on top of her lungs, drowning out the wailing winds circling around her.
Tziak was trying to whisper something.
"Of course.. you're not getting away that easily..", she spoke and smiled.
"Of course not, Shalkis.", he replied and then whispered..
"But answer me one question....Do you regret that your lips, who even now quiver with jealousity, shall never again grace my skin?"
He started to laugh, but it quickly turned into a cough.
"Now sleep.. and dream of horrid things..", she spoke omniously and pointed the tip of her bloodied sword right at Tziak's face.
"Wait..", he smiled again.
"Will you not answer my questions?"
"I have no regrets. My task in this world is done. This.. is just a bonus.", she replied from behind her mask.
"That was not my question."
Shalkis heard someone walk towards her from behind. She turned, still keeping her sword pointed at Tziak. An another Gurubashi.
"I did not come here for you. Wait your turn.", she quipped and turned towards Tziak.
The other troll spoke: "Me be ´ere to ´elp me Emporah."
Shalkis ignored the troll and carefully cut Tziak's tabard off him with her sword. When the blade nicked Tziak's skin, the wound closed even before it could bleed.
The troll behind her started to chant: "From da earth yah call da Powah..."
Shalkis grabbed the tabard and held it up, marveling at the handiwork. Even in it's burnt and tattered state, the twin snakes still looked majestic.
"This.. is now mine..", she spoke to herself. She then turned her gaze back towards Tziak.
"As for your life.."

Shalkis' sentence was interrupted by a snarl from behind. Before she could turn, she could feel and hear metal grind against bone. Blood gushed out of her back. She whispered a word and she was beyond the axe's reach. The troll wielding it pulled the axe up from the ground and started running towards her. The other two trolls were already hurling lightning towards her, and from the corner of her eye, she saw Tziak, shimmering with frost and an elemental at his side. She had a wicked grin behind her mask, but that was only a facade. Of course he had only been stalling, waiting for more Gurubashi to show up. Each second here would increase the chances of him winning. It would have to end now.

Shalkis muttered a long-forgotten blessing, and she too was protected by both a frozen shield and an elemental. The elemental turned it's featureless face towards one of the shamans while Shalkis was already introducing the berserker to his ruminant side. Bolts of lightning, ice and water criscrossed around the Arena. The first shaman succumbed.. then the other. She looked back at Tziak, and the blood haze filled her vision again.


Shalkis stood next to Tziak, looking down on him.
"Now.. where were we?"
"I believe you where going to take my life? Amusing, really.", Tziak grinned.
"All things have an end. You are fortunate to encounter yours so soon. However.. your end will not come today."
"You know, if you let me live, what shall happen..", he shook his head.
"You.. will bring your own downfall. This.. is simply a long overdue reminder.. of your mortality. That even a 'God-Emperor' can bleed."
"Breaking my body serves nothing to remind me of 'mortality' ...you should know, as an 'Aspect' ...the Flesh means nothing", he replied.
"Of course.. so here's something for you to dream about."
"I have long stopped dreaming....but continue.."
Shalkis' sword flared briefly as she thrust it towards Tziak.


"Sleep, Emperor of the Gurubashi.. and dream of your fate that you have brought upon yourself!", Shalkis bellowed. Her work was done, for now. The wound on her back was not bleeding anymore, but she could not handle any more Gurubashi. With great effort, she climbed on top of her raptor and rode north from the Arena.


Snacky's Journal - Episode 2

There's something about gnomes that always makes me chuckle. Especially when they're getting beat up and thrown around.


Curse Gaming & Markee Dragon?

I was a bit surprised to see a post in Curse Gaming which denounces the most recent wave of bans for botting, trading gold and trading accounts. Although it appears in their "Editor's Notes"-section, it was not written by the staff of Curse. The post was submitted by AlexandraMD, but the post itself mentions that it was written by Marcus Eikenberry of Markee Dragon. And sure enough, Alexandra is one of the editors there.

The Markee Dragon site doesn't hide the fact that they do support botting, gold trading and account trading. WoW Glider links, IGE ads, botter interviews, links to gold selling sites. .. you name it, they've got it. Apparently Markee Dragon has personally been banned by Blizzard as well. One other thing that I found was an utility called FreeGameCam (not to be confused with the GameCam), which can be used to monitor your bot's progression remotely.

If I were a Curse staffer, I'd be more careful who I allow to post on their front page.


Misguided Alleigances


Shalkis looked at the tabard one more time. The crimson background had faded some time ago, and the edges were frayed. Only the black sword motif remained, as sharp as ever. She carefully straightened the tattered cloth, then folded it. Once, twice, thrice.

They had failed offer any answers, either. Those who had once challenged the dominance of Frostmourne now.. just gave up. To some, the call of the grave proved to be too seducing. Others returned to whatever places they called home. Some found new employers. Whatever they did was now irrelevant. There would be no voyage to the north.

With a thud, the male Draenei set a metallic box on the counter and opened it. Shalkis' eyes lingered for a moment on the stack of cloth in it, each one with different markings. Only the top one with a hellish mouth motif was visible, but Shalkis knew the others as well. A golden scepter, a silver sun, a blue wolf's head, a red drake, poison-green eyes, golden twin spires, a red Naaru motif.. and the twin snakes.

"Too many..", she thought.

Shalkis snapped out of her reverie and set the latest tabard on top of the pile. The Draenei put the lid back on the box and unceremoniously picked it up. The self-devouring snakes reminded her of one other thing she needed to do now. News of the collapse would eventually reach their ears and lure the scavengers in, looking for an easy kill. She glanced on the Draenei, who nodded slightly and vanished into the back room for a moment. A few minutes later he re-emerged, carrying an another box.

The stench of forbidden magic greeted Shalkis when she opened it. She would use their superstition to her advantage. In their eyes, she was the betrayer, the heretic, the corrupt. Fine. Let them come and test their bravery before their strength. The first item she removed was a fiery robe with intricate patterns. Then a set of shoulderguards. Three monstrous mouths, locked in an eternal howl stared back at her. Finally, the most important part.. a wooden mask. The dried blood still lined it's insides. The draenei looked at her with a well-hidden frown on his face. She nodded, and the metallic container was sealed and hurried out of sight.

The robe was gentle to the touch from the inside. Like finest silk, straight from the Spider Queen's chosen. Yet the outside looked like it was molten and would scar from the slightest touch. As soon as she slipped it on, the faint whispers started to circle in her mind. Barely recognizable promises of power, of vengeance, of dominance. For such a small price.. yet too steep to even consider. Still.. detecting and fending off the temptations would be good practice. There was no leeway to let delusions of grandeour fester. Any overestimations would be the death of her. Literally.

Next, she grabbed one of the shoulderguards and attached it to her right shoulder with the leather straps. Then the other. From the corner of her eye, the eyes of the beasts seemed to flare. In her mind's eye, she could see the false prophet writhe and scream in agony. Her mouth sharpened into a grin. The price he would pay for his betrayal would be high indeed. But.. not now. Patience. Discipline. These would be her allies in the coming months. Not the rage that was offered to her.

Finally.. the mask. As soon as she lowered it to her face, all seemed so clear. Short-sighted fools. Heretics. So many times she had offered the ingrates the truth. And an equal number of times it had been rejected. Their downfall would be of their own doing. All she needed to do was to watch.. and judge. With their dying breath, they would all admit that they were wrong. But then again, she had been wrong so many times before. So many misguided alleigances. So much trust for those who never deserved it in the first place.

But maybe there would be some who would be worthy. Those who also see the mistakes of the past and follies of the future. It would be so good to talk to someone who would understand. It has been too long since the last time. As she saw it, there was now two alternatives before her. She could stay in the shadows, in the sidelines, to catalogue all the mistakes of the world. It would serve as a warning for the future generations, should there be any. Or.. Perhaps..

Oh yes..

With a smile hidden beneath the mask, Shalkis climbed on her wyvern's back and guided it towards the sky.