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The Lich King? We Could Have Taken Him November 26, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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5 comments

I think it is a sign that the team is happy being back in Azeroth when we all show up for group night nearly an hour early.

Or maybe we all just felt we needed some additional warm up time.

Either way, our normal meetup time is 9pm and we were all in-game by 8:10pm.  All five of us and not just the three or four who could make it.  It was on like some sort of plumber vs. ape event.  Our official group lineup for the night was:

  • Earlthecat – Level 80 Human Warrior Tank
  • Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Bungholio – Level 80 Gnome Warlock DPS
  • Alioto – Level 80 Night Elf Druid DPS
  • Ula – Level 81 Gnome Mage DPS

And the first item on our agenda was to finish up the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.  Last week four of us delved into the final chain of three instances that wraps up the five person content in Icecrown Citadel.  We managed two out of three, with the second one being a bit of a trial for us.  This time around we would go for all three.

Ula, Skronk, and I got out to Icecrown Citadel and used the summoning stone to bring Bung and Earl to us.  Somewhere along the line I guess the summoning stone requirements got reduced to just two people in your group being required to summon.  And so, for the first time in at least two years, we were all together in a group and ready to do an instance in Azeroth.

Hanging around in Icrcrown

Hanging around in Icecrown

(Humanoids in the picture above: Skronk, Alioto, Bung, Ula, Earl, Jaina Proudmoore)

We planned to run through all three.  We wanted Earl to get the whole show and we figured that since we only had trouble with the final bosses on the first two as a foursome, that being a full group would speed things along.  There was a thought given to trying it at the Heroic setting, but we opted for Nomal given that this was our return venture.

More after the cut due the usual verbosity and over use of screen shots in place of narrative.  Plus I totally spoil the ending if you haven’t done it yet.

(more…)

The Instance Group Returns to Northrend November 19, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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6 comments

Sort of.

As has been the case for much of 2013, we could only muster four out of five of the group.  Still, everybody has successfully resubscribed, patched, and logged into the game in the last week, so everybody is on board with the idea if not able to be present.  We are going to take another run at Azeroth.

So it was time to get the old team out, our original level 1 to 80 instance group, and do some warm-up exercises.  The planned group was:

  • Earlthecat – Level 80 Human Warrior Tank (missing)
  • Bungholio – Level 80 Gnome Warlock DPS
  • Alioto – Level 80 Night Elf Druid DPS
  • Skronk – Level 81 Dwarf Priest Healing
  • Ula – Level 81 Gnome Mage DPS

However, as Earl was out of town, we had to make do.

Alioto the druid is my latest character substitution into the group.  I had to change out because I ran ahead in levels with Vikund, my paladin.

Alioto is named after the former mayor of San Francisco because… well… I needed a name and that popped into my head and, more importantly on a very old WoW server, was actually available.  He is one of a selection of druids in WoW that have exactly the same dual spec options and professions.  I always seem to go feral for solo, healing for random instances, herbalism for harvesting, and inscription for a trade.  I actually have more such druids than hunters.

Even on the same server

Just on one server

But now I had a chance to change this pattern.  I cleared out my healing spec on Alioto and picked up the new… well, new to me… Guardian druid spec, which is for durids wat is bare.  Or bear.  I pretty much had to do that because, if you look at our line up, there are not a lot of other realistic tanking options.  Though, as things will turn out, the cloth wearing priest healer will do in a pinch.

The plan was a warm-up exercise to see if we could actually work as a team with the somewhat changed classes of WoW.  Our target was to scout out the three final 5 player instances in Wrath of the Lich King.  Those were added after we had “finished” the last instance… Utgarde Pinnacle… in the expansion.

Time to finish off what we started.

More after the break due to an excess of verbiage and screen shots.

(more…)

The Rush Back to Azeroth November 13, 2013

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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11 comments

There may be crit mass to return to wow pre expansion. FYI

That was the content of a text message on my phone from Potshot on Friday.  And while I don’t want to over play the significance of the medium, in our general level of communication, email is the default, instant message is for more immediate issues, and text messages to phones tend to be more akin to picking up the hotline to the Kremlin during the Cold War.

Past text messages from him on my phone… I never clear them out because I so rarely even get text messages… in part because it isn’t a smart phone, but just a cheap old mobile… tend to be about needing to find each other at places like GDC or the train station.  And while it turned out that the medium for the message was chosen mostly because that was all that was available to him at the moment, I still think it says something that he opted for that at the moment rather than waiting for other avenues of communication to become available.

And by the end of the text exchange, it was clear that four out of five of the instance group was on board for an early return to World of Warcraft, thanks to the Warlords of Draenor announcement.   And it seems likely that all five of us will be heading back to Azeroth. Mike was just out of town for the weekend so couldn’t jump on the bandwagon, but he had been expressing interest in WoW when I mentioned I was back and playing it.

So we have circled around back to our game of origin.  As a group we kicked off in WoW back in late 2006 with the intent of going through as much of the five person group content as possible.  Our first instance run was just over seven years ago.  We completed the Deadmines on our third attempt.

Victory over VanCleef

Victory over VanCleef

We hit most of the dungeons in vanilla WoW, foundered a bit in Burning Crusade, and hit our peak in WoW during Wrath of the Lich King. But eventually we hit the last instance in Lich King. While waiting for Cataclysm we re-rolled as Horde on a PVP-RP server just to change things up.  Somewhere in there we stepped out and played Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online.  But after Cataclysm dropped, we felt unsatisfied with the game, so we decided to leave Azeroth and ventured into the wilderness.

We wandered far and wide.  Runes of Magic got a test runGuild Wars was tried on for size.  We staged another return to Lord of the Rings Online.  We attempted to play as a group in EverQuest II until we had enough of struggling against the game.  There have been a couple of prods at Dungeons & Dragons Online. We threw ourselves into Rift. We dabbled in Need for Speed World.  Three of us spent a bit of time in Neverwinter Nights 2 and Diablo III.  A part of the group ran together in World of Tanks, even forming a clan.  And, most recently, we have worked on getting into Neverwinter.

The story of our group, or at least the parts that I have written down, has been traced on this blog.  You can read it by selecting the Instance Group category.  The tale stands at 247 posts as of this one, or just over 8% of the total posts on the blog.

And that does not even count the scouting trips some of us have taken in search of the next game for the group.  Champions Online was touched on, as was Star Trek Online.  I know a couple of us tried Fallen Earth, and three of us tried the original Guild Wars for a couple weeks. Earl jumped into Star Wars: The Old Republic and, like so many people, hit level cap and cancelled.  Potshot went into Age of Conan and The Secret World to explore.  We have tossed around EverQuest as an idea on several occasions.  I think as many as four of us tried Guild Wars 2 at various stages.  TorilMUD and the idea of text held a glimmer at one point.  Even the possibility of EVE Online has been discussed, though it clearly does not work with the varied play budget of our group.  I have even asked for suggestions on this front in the past.

Of all of those games, I think only Rift got anywhere close to the same sort of interest from the whole group as WoW did back in the day.  Of course, since Rift is also the game most like WoW on that list, I suppose it is not hard to understand why.  And we could return to Rift.  It has been a good game for us, becoming as close to a second home outside of Azeroth as we have managed.

But the Storm Legion expansion did not thrill any of us.  And for a game to succeed with the group, at least a couple members of the group need to be excited about it, need to be playing during the rest of the week, and need to be mapping out what we do and where we go next.  Nobody took that role with Storm Legion, and so Rift foundered.

So now, just over two and a half years after we last ran an instance as a group in World of Warcraft, we are jumping back in.  I had already been been back and playing some WoW for a while.  Ula was in game with me on Saturday morning, Potshot by Saturday afternoon, and Earl was loaded back in and had already purchased Pandaria by Sunday.  And we were online a lot.  The guild hadn’t even been looted or otherwise compromised.  We even managed to get a level guild level in our initial flurry.

Guild Level 4! Oh Boy!

Guild Level 4! Oh Boy!

There was a burst of excitement and activity and joy at just being back in Azeroth.

And, of course, some confusion.  A lot has changed since we last played.  I had a bit of a head start, having played on Garona for a while, but even I was a bit puzzled at how to play my retribution paladin after all of this time.  Fortunately Blizzard has some help for that.  In the spells and skill book, there is now a tab devoted to the core abilities of your class.

Retribution Pally in 6 Skills

Retribution Pally in 6 Skills

That isn’t exactly an Elitist Jerks level of class detail, but it seemed to be a good refresher course on how to deal with the class.

So there we were back and happy and running around figuring out where we left off.

Which, of course, should lead to a pretty obvious question.  Didn’t we leave WoW for a reason?  And has anything changed that might make us think that things will be different after we come back?

Clearly we need a plan.

Part of the problem was that, at Cataclysm launch, we went back to character creation and rolled up a whole new set of characters with an eye to seeing the changes to the old world and all the various features.  That was our plan.

Unfortunately, the old world had changed a lot, the old instances… or the updated versions thereof… seemed too easy, and the new tools, like Dungeon Finder, trivialized travel.  Add in the fact that after a few years of playing the game we actually picked up some game skills, and the whole thing seemed too easy.  Even at our normal plodding pace in instances… compared to the “run, run, run!” method that Dungeon Finder groups seem to follow these days… we were able to knock out three instances an evening and still get to bed before midnight.

Meanwhile, the original group of characters was still sitting there.  They still had three instances… added after we were done… in WotLK to finish.

So Potshot put forth what we will call “The Plan,” which is to pick up where we left off with the original group and continue their story.  First, we warm up by knocking off those last WotLK instances, actually finishing the content we declared done about four years back.  Then we move into the Cataclysm 80 to 85 content, trying to do whatever we can as a group and taking on the instances there as we find them.  And we also plan to avoid the Dungeon Finder, insisting on actual travel to whatever instances we may need to run.  See the world and all that.

Easy enough I suppose.

But the plan also calls for us to come back to the same character in the same roles, where I may have cocked things up a bit.  The original group, as it stands now, is:

  • 80 Warrior – Earlthecat
  • 80 Warlock – Bungholio
  • 81 Priest – Skronk
  • 81 Mage – Ula
  • 87 Paladin – Vikund

Earl and Bung have both been good.  Bung just doesn’t play outside of group time, while Earl has a warrior alt he drove through Cataclysm on his own time.  Skronk and Ula have both edged over the level 80 line.  And I have clearly said “see ya!” to the rest of the group, running off ahead and into Pandaria.

Vikund is clearly out of the band for now.  I will be running him up to level 90 through the Pandaria content on my own.

Fortunately, I have a backup plan.

When we left off WoW back in the day, I had druid mired in the middle of the WotLK content.  I took a chunk of the weekend getting him from 77 to 80 so that he can replace Vikund in the lineup.  The only question will be, how to play him.  He will be taking Vikund’s old DPS slot, so do I go feral and be the cat, or do I go whatever the other spec is… balance I think… and be the boomkin crap owl?

So we have the lineup.  We are all excited as we get settled back into the comfortable setting of Azeroth.  And we have a plan.

Now will it stick?  Can we revive the old group, carry on, and have fun?

And, of course, can we get all five of us online at the same time?  That has been the main issue so far this year.

Really Cheap World of Warcraft November 28, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, World of Warcraft.
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Blizzard is making a big push to get everybody ready for the Cataclysm expansion.

We’ve gotten a revamp of classes.

New starter experiences are in for the current races.

The sundering has occurred and we have changes all over old Azeroth.

They have cut the experience needed to get from 71-80, so you can hurry up an get ready for the expansion.

We get to see the trailer for Cataclysm any time we want from the game logon screen.

But just in case you were feeling behind, just in case you didn’t have all the expansions, Blizzard has a deal for you it seems.

Discount WoW

For a limited time you can get all of WoW, the base game and both already released expansions for $20.

I guess Blizzard hasn’t released enough expansions yet to have to worry about consolidating them all in each running expansion there after.  They can stick with their Battle Chest combo offer for now and worry about the EQ/EQ2 method (both of which have way too many expansions to juggle individually at this point) at some later date.

How many expansions do you have to have before you just start rolling them up?

And as SynCaine would no doubt point out, you can get all of the current game for less than the price of a sparkle pony.

Three Zones Through the Outlands April 7, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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5 comments

The Outlands occupy a strange place now in World of Warcraft.  They represent a hurdle between classic Azeroth and the current destination location of Northrend.  Most people, it seems, don’t want to get to the Outlands, they just want to get past them.

Put me on that list as well, I guess.

My daughter, my mother, and myself have been lingering in the Outlands for a couple of months.  This slow progress has been mostly because my daughter spends a lot of her time distracted making alts, figuring out how to get on top of buildings, and taming new pets for her hunter.

Once in a while though she is driven to actually concentrate on her main character for a bit.  And so it was, a couple of  Sundays back, when she suddnely declared she had hit level 68 and was now ready to venture into Northrend.

That meant there was some catching up to be done!

I was not horribly far behind, sitting around level 65.  I had been through the Hellfire Peninsula quests and was working my way through Zangarmarsh.

A diligent weekend afternoon got me through Zangarmarsh, after which I jumped to Nagrand, which seemed most appropriate for my level.  And then another couple of focused hours in Nagrand got me to 68 and ready to ascend to Northrend.

So three zones worth of content was about enough.

I did divert into Terokkar and the Blade’s Edge Mountains for a couple of “go talk to…” quests, but never ran down the follow-ons.

I also ran one and a half instances with the dungeon finder.  And the half instance was barely that, as I got kicked because, as healer, I couldn’t keep the level 61 tank alive when he pulled full rooms of mobs in the Steamvault.  The group did me a favor on that one.  Good luck to the next healer, I thought, if a level 67 resto spec’d druid running HealBot can’t keep this guy alive.

So there were some other sources of experience, but not enough that I would have had to visit another zone.  I left Nagrand with quests left on my plate.

And so I left The Burning Crusade for Wrath of the Lich King.

I knew the Outlands had more content than needed to get you from 60 to 70, but when you only have to get to 68, you pretty much shave off a whole zone or so worth of content.

And when you can fly at level 60, even the run through those few zones goes pretty quickly.

Now just another seven levels until I can fly again.

The Lich King… Bond Style December 17, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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9 comments

Having all of the James Bond movies on DVD at our house, I feel fully equipped to appreciated this video.

The theme from Casino Royale played out with WoW characters but fully in the spirit of Bond movie credits.

Stunningly awesome for a Bond fan like me.

Going Through a Phase September 11, 2009

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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20 comments

Phasing, the changing of the world as you progress through the story of Northrend, is one of the innovations that Blizzard introduced to the game with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion.

And, as a method of investing people in the tale of the expansion, it has been a success.

It is certainly an answer to the long time complaint about MMORPGs, that you can do all the quests you’re given and the world remains the same.

In Northrend the world changes based on your actions.  Some of my favorites:

The Argent Vanguard fortress is under siege when you first arrive.  You help the Argent Crusade to throw back the scourge and the area phases and the fortress is no longer surrounded by hostile foes.  Your assistance has tangible results in the world.

You help the Crusade assault and hold Crusader’s Pinnacle and, if you defeat the scourge counter attack, the location goes through a phase change when next you visit.  A tower has been built, more quests have opened up, and a flight point has become available.

The scaffolding is still up on the tower

The scaffolding is still up on the tower

You assist the Knights of the Ebon Blade in their attempt to retake the Shadow Vault and turn the minions there to assist the Knights.  Again, with success comes a new quest hub, an inn, a flight point, and a set of daily quests.

And all of this is great.  It works well when you are running through the quest lines by yourself.

But if you have a regular group, and that group does not keep rigidly aligned in quests, there can be issues.

Being out of sync has lead to conversations I haven’t heard since the early days of EverQuest II when multiple instances of the same zone used to be common.

When you are in a group that is out of sync, you can see the group member markers on your mini map, but you cannot see anybody who is not in your phase of the area.  So your whole group can be standing next to Highlord Tirion Fordring, but if you aren’t all in the same phase, you can spend a lot of time insisting that you’re RIGHT THERE and yet not be able to see your friends.

So you have to wait for your out-of-sync friends to catch up.  But you cannot help them because you are not in the same phase.  You can, however, leech experience from their kills if you hover over their dot on the mini map while they run the quests.

With our group and it’s range of play time budgets, this has ended up being an issue on a number of occasions.

Now I’m not saying phasing is bad.  I still think it is very cool.  And it is a discreet phenomenon.  You are not in a different phase of the entire zone, just a small area of it, though the localized nature of it can lead to moments of confusion.  The other night four of us flew through an arch in Icecrown, but I could only see three of us on the other side.  Earl had done the quest in the phasing quest in the area so he flew into a different version location.

But it would be nice if there were a way to resolve the out of sync group issue besides waiting for those behind to catch up.

I don’t know what the answer is.  It certainly is not the biggest issue facing the world, but it is one which our group seems to be running into with some regularity of late.

And given that phasing is supposed to be a huge part of the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, I hope Blizzard has some ideas on the subject.

December in Review December 31, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, DS, entertainment, EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Month in Review, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Sony Online Entertainment, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft.
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1 comment so far

On Events in 2008

I sit here on the final day of 2008 looking back and saying, “WTF?”

Pirates of the Burning Sea set sail, but foundered.  Excellent ship to ship combat turned out to not be worth a monthly fee.

Age of Conan should have launched in March because it came on like a lion, but is now more like lamb in size and competitive vigor. (Or maybe a salt marsh harvest mouse.)  Folks in Oslo have since been heard saying things like, “Third time is a charm!”

Warhammer Online screamed “WAAAGH!” in September, but within six weeks the Mythic team was trying to consolidate its population rather than adding new servers, something that Mark Jacobs himself had previously said would be a sign they were in trouble.  Not that Mr. Jacobs is now saying they are in trouble, but I just love that quote as an example of things not to say. Meanwhile, even some WAR fanbois have changed their mind on the game.

Tabula Rasa, after a statement of support by NC West President of Publishing David Reid, was declared untenable just weeks later and slated to be closed at the end of February 2009.  The Bane issued a press release declaring total victory over the humans while General British, Colonel Blackthorn, and Major Miscalculation fled into space.  A blank slate indeed.

Sony Online Entertainment talked a lot about cool upcoming products, but shipped no new games.  Aside from two expansions and a lot of small content additions, the big headline of the year for SOE seemed to be, “EverQuest and EverQuest II: Now with RMT!”  While I won’t argue with Grimwell’s declaration of success on that front, the reaction seemed to me to be mixed.

All the while the Wrath of the Lich King seemed to be getting lukewarm support at best over the summer with many a blogger picking apart individual features or weighing the whole and declaring it “too little, too late” after nearly two years of waiting.  Then, as the day approached, people began filing back into Azeroth after their summer vacations in other lands.  On the ship date Wrath broke previous sales records set by The Burning Crusade, pushed WoW to a new subscriber peak (sure, just half a million people… small when compared to 11 million, but still more than almost any other subscription based MMO you care to mention has total.), and was generally declared wonderful by those who have enjoyed WoW in the past.

So screw convention wisdom, I’m going back to wild and crazy predictions.  Diablo III will generate more revenue than Toyota when it ships and StarCraft II will cure cancer and lead to the reunification of Korea.

The Site

I cleaned up the right hand bar quite a bit.  The most obvious piece that is missing is the counter for Feedburner.  I originally put it up there to encourage people to subscribe to the site via FeedBurner, since it offered some statistics.  However, most of the people who read the site via RSS use the WordPress.com feed, so the counter was displaying about 10% of my RSS readership.  Since WordPress.com has since added some minor stats about RSS, I decided to just remove the counter.  The FeedBurner feed is still live and will remain so, there just won’t be a link to it now.

One Year Ago

December 2007 seemed to be a busy time for the SOE.  First there was the whole “moving a whole guild from test to a live server” brouhaha.  Then there was the rumor of SOE being purchased by Zapak Digital Entertainment.  And, finally, there was the deal with Live Gamer to take over transactions on the Station Exchange servers, at which time Smed himself said that this did not mean that they were going to open the flood gates of RMT on any of their servers not currently served by SOE’s own Station Exchange RMT plan.  All of which I wrapped up in one post.

The yearly EverQuest Nostalgia Tour was off to the usual activities.

I put up my predictions for the “Next EverQuest II Expansion,” which I have yet to score.  I will have to get a post together comparing The Shadow Odyssey with my own guesses.

The Saturday Night Permanent Floating Instance Group was finishing up Blackrock Depths.

Dr. Richard Bartle brought up the “why so much fantasy” question for its regular beating to death.

I was interviewed over at World IV.  So far that is the only interview I have ever been asked to do.

I lost my first battlecruiser to pirates in EVE Online.  Meanwhile, after pissing away a lot of ISK on invention, I was not getting a lot of results.

And I bought a new gaming computer full of Quad Core goodness.

New Linking Sites

A big holiday thank you to these sites who link to The Ancient Gaming Noob.

Please take a minute to visit these sites, one of them may be your new favorite blog!

Most Views Posts in December

  1. Play On: Guild Name Generator
  2. Getting Upper Blackrock Spire Access
  3. How To Find An Agent in EVE Online
  4. Howling Fjord Quest Night
  5. Best MMO Expansion in 2008?
  6. Do You Name Your Ships?
  7. 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations
  8. LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
  9. Five LEGO Video Game Titles I Want
  10. The Name Generator (which has nothing to do with #1)
  11. Is There Hope for a Science Fiction MMORPG?
  12. The Way Questing Used To Be

Best Search Terms

world of warcraft hot to get out of gnomergen
[A lot of people are]

which mmo
[A question that plagues so many of us]

new lego emperor
[That is what we all seek!]

Spam Comments of the Month

ignorant christmas wallpaper cell phone :PPP
[Not a random string at all!]

I use WoW code all the time as it saves time!
[added to my Know Your WoW Code post and linked to a gold seller.]

Deleted Comment of the Month

Die in a fire you ‘tard.
[Like almost all of the really hateful comments I get, this came from an EVE Online player.  The game inspires passion, both good and bad.]

EVE Online

EVE Has been quiet for me this month, not so much out of a lack of desire to play as a lack of time.  The first half of the month I was busy shipping a product before the holidays, and then came the holidays.  Still, I ran a mission or two, hauled freight when needed, kept production going, and brought in another pile of ISK.  Still no freighter though.

EverQuest

I have not played ANY EverQuest.  There has been no 2008 EverQuest Nostalgia Tour.   EverQuest II might be old enough now that it is suitable for nostalgia.  That certainly fits what I have been doing there.

EverQuest II

In Norrath I have been mostly involved with the adventures of Reynaldo Fabulous of Freeport, a swashbuckling berserker who has been cutting a swathe through the original level 1-50 content in EverQuest II.  With the support of his friends and his guild he has managed to get to level 52 and remain fabulous.

Lord of the Rings Online

The call of Moria seems to have hit Gaff.  Having a lifetime membership means I can pick that game up any time.  However, now he is talking about starting over on a new server.  Damn his eyes, I finally have horses on all my guys on the old server.

World of Warcraft

Holiday commitments and illness has kept the instance group from playing as often as usual.  Still, we are banging away in Northrend and expect full victory in Utgarde Keep any day now!

Coming Up

Santa delivered more than just LEGO kits to our house over the holidays.  There were also a few Wii and DS games that I will mention in future posts, though it seems at the moment that Cooking Mama II is the surprise DS hit with my daughter.

And, of course, tune in tomorrow for my predictions for 2009.  I’d better start working on them!

The Ride to Utgarde Keep November 20, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
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10 comments

The first Saturday night for the instance group after the launch of The Wrath of the Lich King found us wondering what to do.  With a brand new continent to explore and ten more levels to grow, plus as yet unfinished content in the Outlands, the options were wide open.  The line up for the night was:

70 Warlock – Bungholio
70 Warrior – Earlthecat
70 Priest – Skronk
70 Mage – Ula
70 Paladin – Vikund

We thought we should stick with our usual mission, though in the new lands of Northrend, so we decided to take a look in the first instance, Utgarde Keep.

This was a bit presumptuous of us, given that we had only upgraded some of our gear so far and we were struggling a bit back in the Outlands.  But the new expansion smell was intoxicating, so we thought we would give it a try.

We met up in Valiance Keep in the Borean Tundra and started digging around various information sources to figure out just where Utgarde Keep really was.  The expansion being fresh, information was somewhat sparse, but we eventually figured out where we needed to be.

Valiance Keep Harbor

Valiance Keep Harbor

Northrend is shaped somewhat like Australia and we were in Valiance Keep (Perth) and needed to be in Utgarde Keep (Canberra).

Northrend

Northrend

(The above image was taken from Wikipedia who in turn took it from the CIA World Fact Book.)

Which, frankly, was a bit out of the way.  But, again, the spirit of adventure was upon us, so we decided to follow the roads east and see where we ended up.

That is very much the way we used to do things in the old days, in EverQuest; just saddle up the horses and ride… except we didn’t have horses back then.  All we had back then was Spirit of the Wolf, and we were happy to get that!

So on we rode!

We ended up on a very nice tour of… south Northrend? … Southrend? … the landscape.  As we went, we tried to pick up the flight points so we would not have to make this long ride again.  We did very well at first, but we missed one or two in the middle, so we do not have cross-country, non-stop service as yet.

The ride was a lot of fun, and my reference to the days of EverQuest and seeing new things was not idle.

There was the Borean Tundra.

See the Aurora

See the Aurora

There was a beautiful snowy area that looked something like the night elves might end up with if they got snow.

Do Those Hooves Melt Snow

Do Those Hooves Melt Snow?

There were areas of icy  tundra with great fissures running through it and a giant tower in the snow.

Do Not Put Your Tongue On The Tower

Do Not Put Your Tongue On The Tower

And, in the usual jarring environmental change common to Azeroth where deserts and tropical forests exist mere steps apart, we ended up in a lush green forested hills, beautiful scenery and fjord turkeys.

uk1waterfalls

Rustic Scenery

Eventually, after making it all the way to the coast and then past the Plain of Jars and back to the center of the Howling Fjord province, we found Utgarde Keep.

Charting Our Course

Charting Our Course

As usual with our navigation, we ended up around on the wrong side of the place, at Utgarde Pinnacle, which you need to be level 75 to enter.  A few minutes and only two falling deaths later, we made our way to the right summoning stone and portal.

Once we were there… and revived… there was nothing for it but to get into the instance.

Getting Ready with the Usual Buffet

Getting Ready with the Usual Buffet

Again, more great artwork.  I have not been a huge fan of the Tesla-inspired electro-plasma dungeons that you find in the Outlands, but here, in Utgarde Keep, I felt at home.  Skronk said it felt very much like a D&D location, and I could not help but agree.  There was even Vulcan’s own forge there to warm us when we got going.

Now There Is A Forge

Now There Is A Forge!

Warily, we started to work our way into the instance.  And things went surprisingly well for a while.  Our only wipe before the first boss due to line-of-sight issues when trying to heal.  Things were looking good.

And then we hit the first boss, Prince Keleseth, and he just worked us.  Not enough equipment upgrades, not enough hit points, and probably the wrong tactics meant that the prince wiped the floor with us five times running.

Prince Keleseth Thinking of New Ways to Kill Us

Prince Keleseth Thinking of New Ways to Kill Us

By that point, after the cross-country travel, we were tired and decided to call it a night.  Soundly thrashed but having had a good time all the same, we left the keep.

Looking for a way out, we headed south a bit and ran almost immediately into Valgarde which, from the looks of it, is the OTHER starting zone for Northrend.

We grabbed the flight point then saw a ship pull up at the dock.  It turns out that ship runs between Valgarde and Menethil Harbor.

Utgarde Keep in the Background

Utgarde Keep Very Close in the Background

So the right path for us would have been to take the boat from Menethil Harbor to Valgarde in Howling Fjord, then run 30 seconds to Utgarde Keep.

That information was not on WoWWiki on Saturday night.

Of course, not having that information made the night an adventure.

I think there is a lesson in that for all of us.

No Shortage of The Wrath of the Lich King November 13, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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2 comments

As was the case with the release of The Burning Crusade back in January 2007, Wrath of the Lich King was available in huge quantities at my local Fry’s.  I dropped by on my way to the office to pick up my copy of the expansion, along with a copy of Kung Fu Panda/Secrets of the Furious Five.

Fry’s seemed to have cut back on the number of Collector’s Edition boxes they stocked, as they still had copies of the Burning Crusade Collector’s Edition sitting on the shelf up until last week.  There was only one pallet of WotLK CE’s visible when I was in the store.

Of course, arriving at the office, I had to open the box to see what it contained.  Contents:

  • Game install DVD with activation code
  • Expansion Set Game Manual(33 pages, of which 13 are credits… a lot of people worked on this!)
  • Two 10 Day Guest Pass Keys (destined for the recycle bin)
  • Blizzard Entertainment Product Catalog

The catalog was easily the biggest thing in the box, which I found odd for a company with essentially three game IPs, two of which are years out of date: Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo.

But I had not considered the World of Warcraft spin-offs.  They include:

  • WoW Novels (StarCraft and Diablo have them too)
  • WoW Strategy Guides (Is the game so complex we need a hard copy Atlas?)
  • WoW Manga
  • WoW Minitures Game
  • WoW Original Comic Series
  • WoW Board Game (StarCraft too)
  • WoW Trading Card Game (10 different flavors, plus a treasure chest set with dice)
  • WoW Action Figures
  • WoW Wall and Daily Calendars
  • Talking (?) Murloc plush toy
  • Life Size Frostmourne replica sword
  • WoW T-Shirts
  • Carrot on a stick key chain
  • WoW Custom Statues

The last one intrigued me.  A company called FigurePrints will, for $130, make an up to 8″ tall statue of your character with its current equipment.  They are worried about such an onslaught of customers that there will be a lotto for the privilege of getting to pay to have you character created.  And they are probably right to worry.

I wonder why the company making the custom guild shirts does not have a similar plan to get you a custom picture of your character or if such a feature is being planned?  That would seem to be a more reasonable path.

And with all this, no animated series.  Maybe after the movie version of the game.

Anyway, still hours to go before I can get home and install it.  I’ve heard that there are some non-functional disks out there. (Earl seems to have gotten one.)  We’ll see if I am on that list.