Monthly Archives: October 2012

October in Review

The Site

There comes a time when every man feels the urge to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and start slitting throats.

H.L. Mencken

Despite not really playing much, it ended up being something of a World of Warcraft month here.

I am sure the people in Anaheim are not interested in my advice, but look at this chart.

That is a sudden rise in nerd interest in retro WoW, culminating in a record number of page views for a single day here at TAGN.  That interest is reflected in the “most viewed posts” list for the month down below.

To me, that says there is some money to be mined in WoW nostalgia.  Yeah, I know, small sample size and all that makes for statistical irrelevance.  But it still feels like there is some interest out there.

As for how much money, I couldn’t even begin to guess.  Probably not enough to even catch Blizzard’s eye while WoW is still in fat city with millions of subscribers dining on fine panda flesh.

But maybe some day it will seem like enough.

Until then though, I guess the black flag is the only choice for the nostalgic.

Yarr.

On Year Ago

We all said farewell to Steve Jobs.

Tobold was predicting that CCP would go bankrupt in 2012.  Still two months left in the year, but it seems unlikely to come to pass at this point.

I summed up what I liked and disliked about Need for Speed: World.

I got Civilization II running on Windows 7 64-bit.

I started another contest.

And I recalled the start of the alien invasion!

Gaff and I went back to TorilMUD to mess around with the Tako Demon.  I have to remember some MUD command syntax to get his corpse afterwards.

Then there was BlizzCon.  The instance group was already bemused with Cataclysm, and the mention of Pandas did not revive our spirits.  Pet Battles seemed interesting at the time.  In coming to grips with the Pandaria announcements, I assumed that I would end up buying the expansion.  Another bad prediction from last year.

And then there were other WoW related things, like the announcement of the Guardian Cub, which some people predicted would be like PLEX in EVE Online.  How did that work out?

On Fippy Darkpaw, after much complaining, SOE seemed to suddenly wake up and start doing things.  Problems were, you know, solved!  It was becoming a kinder, gentler server.  Sort of.

And then there was Rift.  We started scouting it as a potential home for in instance group after the disaster in EverQuest II.  The scouting went well enough that we all ended up in Telara.

Five Years Ago

Five years ago I finally finished my training and was actually flying a Hulk!  Being mining focused, I went out and calculated which asteroids were the most profitable to mine.  Veldspar rated surprisingly high.

I also figured out that with 120 billion ISK and a year of training, I could fly a Titan, but I couldn’t fire the main weapon system.

Blizzard made its first big cut in the amount of experience needed to get to level 60 in WoW.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

There was the Station Access Savings Calculator.

EA announced it was buying BioWare.  It seemed like MMOs might be in EA’s future again, as BioWare was already known to be at work on one.  Meanwhile, I was trying to work up a set of criteria on evaluating whether an MMO would be a success or not.

I was going on about THE REAL PROBLEM with voice chat in video games.

Mario Kart Double Dash was our Wii game of the moment.

I found one of the rare Golden C-3P0 mini figures in a LEGO package.

The instance group finished up Zul’Farrk and started in on Mauradon.

Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising was put on indefinite hold, which lead to a headline contest.

And, as usual, with the coming of Fall, the rains, and a new expansion I again became nostalgic for EverQuest.

New Linking Blogs

The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.

Please take a moment to visit them in return.

Most Viewed Posts in October

  1. The Nostalgic Call of the Emerald Dream
  2. Emerald Dream – Shovel in the Snows
  3. Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
  4. Diablo III vs. Torchlight II – A Matter of Details
  5. Further Adventures in the Emerald Dream
  6. SWTOR – Two Years After EA Louse
  7. The Final Achievement
  8. Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
  9. Blizzard Relents, Lets Me Cancel WoW Early
  10. Emerald Dream – Murlocs Never Evolve, Defias Never Forget
  11. In Search of the Hetzer
  12. Rift – It’s a Soul New World

Spam Comment of the Month

Other Studies Indicate That Young Males Of Asian Descent Are Also Likely To Participate In Online Gambling!
[And that was just the name field]

Search Terms of the Month

when you get to a certain number of files it just falls apart
[I haven’t really been covering Windows 8]

games of thrones winter is coming meme snow shovel
[That is a new one on me]

eve drake meme
[This one appears to actually be a thing]

how realistic is eve online space?
[Lord of the Flies realistic!]

tortanic look out iceberg
[Too late, it is already sinking into F2P]

EVE Online

It was a quiet month for me in EVE, for the most part, at least until the very end.  I went on a few quiet strategic ops for the CFC.  Then things wrapped up with a bang with us jumping into an enemy fleet in G5ED-Y and the IRC CSAA battle spicing things up.  Mostly though, things seemed to be going on in other time zones.

Other than that, I am trying to focus on training up my skills to fly the Alpha Fleet doctrine Rokh battleship.  The final piece I need is tech II large hybrid turrets, but to get there I need to get small then medium trained up first, all of which is a long trail of training and I am easily distracted.  Which is how I ended up with torpedoes V because… Phoenix maybe?

Rift

The instance group is approaching the end of the original Rift content.  We are closing in on level 50 and there are only a few dungeons left to explore.  Of course, Storm Legion is coming, and will show up before we are finished.  But it is already having an impact on the group, something I will go into with tomorrow’s post.

World of Tanks

I have been having a good time diving into WoT again.  This month has seen my most concentrated play since the game went live.  I still cannot spend a whole evening playing the game.  I am still only good for a few matches at a sitting.  But I have been launching the game more regularly.  I am not sure if I will even get to the higher tiers without buying a tank for gold, but I am farther along than I have ever been.

World of Warcraft

I have been playing a lot of WoW for somebody who isn’t actually playing WoW officially.  The whole Emerald Dream nostalgia tour.  It has been quite the voyage of re-discovery.  I am not sure how far I will go on the server.  But for now it remains fun in a refreshing way.

Coming Up

What isn’t coming up in November?  On the MMO front we have:

  • Darkfall: Unholy Wars
  • EverQuest – Rain of Fear
  • EverQuest – Chains of Eternity
  • PlanetSide 2
  • Rift – Storm Legion
  • Star Wars the Old Republic – Free to Play version

That is too much stuff, and I feel at least a little tug from each of those items.  Yes, Darkfall and SWTOR are unlikely candidates, and I am already all-in on Rift and their Storm Legion expansion.  Meanwhile, the smattering of SOE offerings has my attention as always.

Of course, not all is well in the land of MMOs.

November will see the demise of City of Heroes, as NCsoft shutters another MMO.  An eleventh hour reprieve seems very unlikely as NCsoft appears to have decided to shut down the game and then put up some window dressing to make it appear that they pursued other alternatives.

And the Project: Gorgon Kickstarter, which I wrote about earlier in the month, looks like it won’t meet its mark.  Still, this won’t kill the project since it was not an attempt to “make a MMORPG for $55k,” but just a way to fund specific aspects of the work.  Project: Gorgon will go on.  There is a lot more than $55K in labor invested in the game already.

If nothing else, November will be a month of milestones.

The War Against Super Capitals at Q-VTWJ

That was how the fight was billed from the CFC side of things.

We were going to kill a super capital, rumored to be an Erebus, in its CSAA (capital ship assembly array) before it was born.  That this particular CSAA belonged to Intrepid Crossing (IRC), with whom we are neither at war nor at peace I gather, seemed irrelevant.  It was within our range and we were going to try and blow it up.  We have been down this path before.

A CSAA in its natural habitat

Razor put the POS into reinforce and we were coming back to take it out and the CSAA with it.

This fight was pretty well advertised.    The CFC had been put on alert and told to expect a fight, while intel reported that IRC had issued their highest level call to arms and was going to bring in as many allies as they could muster.

The only people who didn’t seem to get notified was CCP, since they clearly did not reinforce the node where we were fighting.  Or maybe they did.  It is hard to tell, but things got bad.

So it was last night.  The call went out that the fleets were forming.  DBRB was leading the Alpha Fleet, which filled up very quickly.  Zagdul was leading an armor tanked fleet, so we had Abaddons flying with us.  And finally there was Lazarus Telraven leading the third fleet, the Drake Fleet.

For reasons unknown, the Drake Fleet ended up in operations channel 2 because Zagdul took channel 3.  This seemed to confuse Laz and he kept telling people we were in channel 3 for long past the time it should have taken him to get his brain around it.  For Logical Laz, the third fleet should be in channel 3 dammit!

I joined Laz in a Drake, determined to shoot something fun before the month ended.

More after the cut.

Continue reading

Disney Buys Lucasfilm, Plans New Torments for Star Wars Fans

When I saw this headline pop up over at Game Informer News, I had to check the calendar.

No, it is not April 1st.

Maybe this is some sort of “Devil’s Night” prank?

And it has been a long time indeed…

But the news seems to be popping up everywhere except The Onion.

What can this portend?  I can hear a million sighs of relief as George “The Destroyer” Lucas is out of the picture.  The quote:

“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” Lucasfilm CEO George Lucas said in a statement. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers.”

But is Disney a step in the right direction?  Is Star Wars even a Disney-like property?  I thought Disney required kids with single dads and dead mothers, not kids with single moms and no dads.  And what will we get with a Star Wars Episode VII release in 2015?

The future looks… weird.

Now what is the best follow-on rumor to start right about now while people are stunned… the return of Star Wars Galaxies maybe?

And in what freaking order am I going to have to watch the movies after Episode VII comes out?

Hrmmm…

Anyway, how are you taking the news?

Emerald Dream – Interlude Before Hogger

With my last update about my time on the Emerald Dream server, I had finished with the quests in Eastvale and had been sent off to the Westbrook Garrison.  There I would be expected to help solve their gnoll problems, including the most famous gnoll in the game, Hogger.

I was feeling a little bit of trepidation about just running out and assaulting Hogger right away, so I decided to run down a couple of side tasks in Goldshire just to help me warm up.  It is a heck of a place.

Sometimes it is a strange place…

The first was to pick up a trade skill.  By this point, while I had only died a couple of times, I was using up health potions at a rapid rate.  So I decided to pick up herbalism and alchemy and went looking for the trainer in Goldshire.

But where was the trainer?

I ran in and out of all of the buildings I could find in Goldshire.

After looking around for a while, I eventually had to ask a guard for directions.  A good thing they put that feature in.  The guard pointed me to a path up a hill in the distance.  I headed that way and, after fighting off a few wolves and a couple of stray Defias, I found the herbalism trainer.

Up the path on the hill…

That was a location I had clearly forgotten about.  I think it is easier to get to the crazy cat lady’s house in Elwynn.  I might have to log in to WoW on my daughter’s account to see if the trainer has been moved down to Goldshire proper since then.

Anyway, I got my training.  One of the pluses of a quiet server is that there is plenty of herbs to harvest.

Herbs in range

Though I have to admit that having earthroot growing right outside the trainer’s house is a bit of a tease.  You need to skill up some before you can harvest it.  I also noticed that I failed on some early harvest attempts.  I had forgotten about that.

You might also have noticed, if you looked carefully at the top picture in the post, that Vikund has a shield on his back.  In my run through Eastvale, he managed to get a decent drop.  A weapon upgrade with a significant boost to DPS.  It even had stats!  However, it was a one handed mace, and if you have one hand free, you might as well use it for something.  So I bought a cheap shield from the armor smith in Goldshire.

Herbalism and harvesting under way, I then stopped in at the paladin trainer in Goldshire, as he had a quest for me.  A class quest.  More things from the past.  The quest sent me up to the Cathedral in Stormwind, made me speak to anybody with half an interest in paladin’s there, and ended up turning me around and sending me out to Stonecairn Lake.

The lake which is over by the Eastvale Logging Camp.  The one where the murlocs live.  The one I thought I was already done with.  Running back and forth builds character, right?

So I headed out that way, harvesting as I went.  At least I could couple the two tasks.  I got out there and, rather than consulting the quest text, about which I only recalled something about wizards and a big stone thing.  I found the wizards pretty easily.

Frost shield blues

I managed to tear my way through them okay until I go to the stones in the center, which showed a “click on me” cog wheel when I moused over the center one.

Stones at rest

Of course, once I made it to the stone and clicked on it, a window came up that said, “Hello, Vikund.”  That is the sign that you are not clicking on the right thing.  This stone was not for me.  So I dragged up the quest log to actually read about what I was supposed to do.  While I have detailed memories of a lot of the quests in Elwynn Forest, I have only really made one paladin, so I have only done this once… and that was probably in 2006, the era which this server is set to simulate.

Anyway, what I was supposed to be doing was finding the mostly dead body of Henze Faulk and revive him with a magic dingus, because mostly dead is slightly alive.  And the dingus did its thing, and Henze arose to give me a quest update.

You’ve been mostly dead all day

Henze’s big revelation from mostly beyond the grave was that I needed to murder a few rogue wizards to see if any of them happened to be carrying important papers of some sort.  Because that is what the Defias does, they hand out secret plans and papers to low level operatives.  It is part of their henchperson empowerment program.

I hit the jackpot on the first wizard, pick up the papers, and was directed to head back to Stormwind.  Mission, as I keep saying, accomplished.

But I had run all this way, I figured I might take a moment to explore.  There is that area just north of the lake and I could not for the life of me recall what was up there.  So I went to investigate.  And I found gnolls.

Do gnolls fight gnomes?

Which was kind of strange, because I was all the way over here as a way to avoid gnolls for a little bit.  But there they were, a big camp of them.  I slew a couple in order to get closer and see what they were up to.  They even dropped the armbands required by the Westbrook Garrison quest.  And in the midst of their camp was a named gnoll.

Fedfennel!  I could not recall such a gnoll from the past, but there he was with the silver dragon around his portrait, the universal sign of somebody carrying goods worth taking in WoW.

I started to work my way closer to his camp, proximity pulling one gnoll at a time.  Or trying to do that.  It did not quite work out as planned.

Gnoll ganked!

I got a little too close to the wrong gnoll and the whole camp fell on me.  I died quickly.  And my death was made worse by the fact that the nearest graveyard was not all that near.

Tele-mort across mountains

Well, that was an inconvenient place to come back.  And I was feeling like I had built up enough character from running all over Ellwyn.  So I decided to take the hit and the five minute 75% debuff to everything and just revive and the graveyard.  I figured I could stay out of trouble for the run back to the cathedral in Stormwind.

Which was correct, for once.  I manages to avoid wolf and Defias entanglements add got there to turn in the quest, speaking to several people before I got my final reward, which was my very own ress spell.

This guy was just first on the list…

That done, I took some of my harvested herbs and turned them into minor health potions and a few armor potions.  I also trained up to heavy linen bandages.  I was going to go find Hogger as well prepared as I could be.

After I hit my limit of that and stowed my excess in the bank, it was time to set out in search of the big gnoll and save the Westbrook Garrison.

I found Hogger about where I remembered he would be.  He was still an elite mob though, so I decided I should probably get some backup.  After all, look at the bones!

I first lay eyes on Hogger

I got on the Elwynn channel and asked if anybody was up for Hogger, and actually got a couple of replies.  One level 7 said they would be there once they got to the quest.  Considering they were waiting for Princess to respawn, I figured that might be a while.

Then a level 11 rogue asked for a group invite and ran over to find me.  She had a plan, I would heal, she would kill.

Getting stuck into Hogger

It wasn’t really a contest.  I healed twice, which was one more time than I really needed to, then got in to hit Hogger myself.  He was down quickly and that was that.

We both collected his paw, the quest item.

Remember when that was a WoW innovation, a quest item drop for everybody in the group who needed it?  In EverQuest at that time we would have had to kill him, wait for a respawn, and kill him again to get a drop for each of us.  I remember that comparison being called out in a review of WoW way back in the day.

We ran around for a bit more and killed some more gnolls for the painted armband drops.  Then, in the grand WoW tradition, Punch dropped group and ran off without a word, no doubt having completed the armband quest.

I completed it myself and ran back to the Westbrook Garrison to turn in one quest, then back to Goldshire to turn in the other.  And that was it.  As far as I can recall, that pretty much wraps up the quests in Elwynn Forest, unless I want to go back and try to take down Fedfennel.

The next stop on the list is Westfall.

Looking towards Westfall

And in Westfall there is the Deadmines… though not before I have to kill a lot more Defias.

Into The Vale of the Silent

Last week I was looking at the map of the Tribute region in EVE Online and wondering if the war against Norther Coalition might be coming to an end.  NC held just three systems in one corner of the region after internal politics and the trench warfare of the sovereignty grind basically sapped their will to live and they lost eleven systems in one day.

The implication seemed to be, as demonstrated by excerpts from one of NC’s recent alliance meetings, that if they just gave up in Tribute, they could get back to more fun aspects of null sec life, like getting stuck into the Russians in Solar Fleet.  Good fights and good times, and no more shooting SBUs and repping towers.

A State of the Goonion message gave the CFC response to this idea.  The TL;DR version being:

We’re chasing NCdot to Vale and purging them. Also their techs in lowsec. Fuck’em.

So… War On!

The CFC has even built up enough infrastructure in Tribute… in the form of POS and jump bridge locations… that we are not even being asked to redeploy again.  We have a pretty simple commute to and from the war at this point.

The Vale of the Silent is a little more complex, sovereignty-wise.  In addition to NC, there is EvOke and Ewoks and Rolling Thunder, and Babylon 5 rattling around in the region, each with some sovereignty carved out.  Some are known quantities, like EvOke, others I have no clue about, like Rolling Thunder, who showed up one day when Raiden imploded in the north.

The Neighborhood

And, in amongst all of that there is NC and 25 tech moons.  Time for more strat ops.

More on that… with pictures… after the break.

Continue reading

Giants Win The World Series… Again!

As I stood in the front yard listening to cheers and fireworks going off, there was agreement between my neighbor… who is about my own age… and I that there was a time where we thought we would never see the Giants win the World Series.  For long time fans of the team, there have been difficult years.

And now I am writing a second post about that very thing coming to pass.

The conversation was curtailed by him setting off a strip of 100 firecrackers, which hurt my ears and sent the cats diving under the bed.

The win was not as sweet as it was last time, but it was still good.  Very good.

Now, about the Cubs

The Zynga Business Plan Moves Forward

My daughter and I were watching Spongebob together when we saw a commercial for this:

Hungry Hungry Herd

Technically, it is not a simple rip-off of some other company’s idea, the classic Zynga approach, because Hasbro owns Hungry Hungry Hippos, and Zynga and Hasbro are in bed together on this one.  But it certainly feels like a poor recycling job to me, with 50 Farm Cash thrown in as a “Digital Value for Parents Inside!”  I suppose at least they are pretending to feed adult addiction to the game rather than overtly suggesting the kids go log on and play.

Of course, in looking this up, I found that Hasbro and Zynga have recycled a few other classic games with a FarmVille theme.

I would add that there is even a CityVille version of Monopoly… but what brand hasn’t gone for their own version of Monopoly at this point?

Quote of the Day – Microsoft

Like Blanche DuBois, Microsoft has relied on the kindness of strangers.

-Robert X. Cringely, in the post Steve Balmer’s Dilemma

I read Robert X. Cringely not so much because he is right all the time… because he isn’t… but because he throws out scenarios that make you think about the industry in new ways.

Are there parallels in the MMO and gaming world to that Cringely post about Microsoft’s future?

The Word of the Day is: Sturmgeschütz

I am not ready to celebrate my 10,000th match like some players more dedicated than I, but my renewed interest in World of Tanks, driven by the changes in the 8.0 patch and my sudden desire to drive a Hetzer, has propelled me to add another hundred or so matches to my modest total.

Hetzer in its natural habitat

I have found the nature of the German tank destroyers, which tend to be heavily gunned, fragile, but not very quick, to suit my own play style.  I stay a bit back under cover and let the other tanks expose targets.  When it works, it works well.  Sometimes though, it can be frustrating.  I recall a match where I had set myself in ambush on one flank of the Karelia map, which has three channels, making it almost a League of Legends map.  A medium tank moved ahead of me and spotted five hostiles approaching up.  Rather than baiting them back into my kill zone, he rushed forward to engage and was knocked out in short order.

I managed to knock out two of the hostiles as they exposed themselves and had damaged a third before I also was knocked out.  All the while, the chap in the medium harangued me for not rushing forward to die with him.

There is always somebody who thinks they know your business better than you do.  And while I am sure many players know how to play better than I do, the guy who just screwed up and got himself killed isn’t very high the list of those to whom I will listen.

Playing through the week I managed to rack up enough points to get to the next rung on the German tank destroyer ladder, the Sturmgeschütz III.

I got into the StuG III as soon as I could because… well… you always envy the person one tier up.  When I was in the Marder III, the Hetzer was my bane.  In the Hetzer, I seemed to inevitably face a StuG III.  So I bought the StuG and got into a battle as soon as I could.

A freshly minted SutG III

Of course, I realized as the battle started that I actually had a lot of shared experience left over from the early days of the Type-59 and that I could, you know, probably upgrade the damn thing.  So while I had spent a chunk of my gold on a fully trained crew, I had ignore the rest.

After the first battle, I went to explore what upgrades I could afford.  As it turned out, there is a lot of commonality between the Hetzer, which I had fully upgraded and which is now an “elite” tank in my garage, and the StuG III.   Using a bit of my remaining gold to convert some experience over to the freely shared variety, I was able to fully upgrade the StuG III for my second battle.

Upgraded StuG III

Just behind the StuG in that picture is the JagdPanzer IV, the next German tank destroyer in line, and which is described in the World of Tanks wiki as being “considered the worst Tier 6 tank destroyer.”  So I have that to look forward to.

I also opted for the camo netting, which boosts a tanks “you didn’t see anything” abilities by 25%.  I did not, however, have enough gold left to apply the paint scheme to the StuG, which is worth another 5% in that regard.  In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bothered with those emblems on my Type-59.

…and they called it “Peace”

Of course, fully upgraded meant I got cocky pretty quickly.

Dead StuG III

Like the tank destroyers before it in the German tree, the StuG III is best used a bit behind the main line to take out targets of opportunity.  Finding yourself in the front line generally means death will be coming for you soon.  Still, it is light and maneuverable and fun on par with the previous tank destroyers on the tree.

Racing through green fields

Meanwhile, I will say that the World of Tanks 8.0 patch, which is what brought me back to the game, has been living up to my expectations.  The graphics are very good, though they can be a bit slow to draw at times if you have your settings too high, and the new physics are excellent.  I have to say, the removal of the invisible barriers, which allows tanks to fall (or be pushed) off of high ground has delivered all the comedy gold one could hope for.  I saw a medium tank get rammed and shoved off the high, broken bridge in the middle of the Westfield map the other day.  Completely worth it!

And it looks like World of Tanks won the Golden Joystick Award for Best MMO, with League of Legends coming in second and SWTOR getting third place.

While Wargaming.net deserves congratulations on their victory, I think it would be extremely foolish to read too much into the win.  WoT ran a very aggressive “get out the vote” campaign for the event, which is always effective in player driven ballots.  And the fact that the it was WoT and LoL in first and second place certainly seems to demonstrate that the MMO category is a wide open field that means many things to many people.

And what with SWTOR coming in third, you might be ready to write off the fantasy MMORPG element in the category were it not for the fact that, due to the calendar constraints of the awards, neither Guild Wars 2 nor Mists of Pandaria were on the ballot.

In fact, I am not even sure how WoT got on the ballot.  When you are free to play and don’t sell expansions or boxes, does your latest patch count as shipping something new?  And in past years there wasn’t even an MMO category, it was just Online Games.  There are some blurry lines in all of this.

Ah well, popularity is nice, but making money trumps every time.  World of Tanks seems to be managing both though, so good for them.

Emerald Dream – Murlocs Never Evolve, Defias Never Forget

Again into the pretend past on the Emerald Dream server.

I started out after my diversion to Kharanos and my post-level 10 plateau looking for a new weapon.

Need to save up for that!

To do this, I ground kobolds around Fargo Deep Mine until I had the requisite about of silver.  I could finally afford my new hammer.  It was time to say good-bye to the Kobold mining shovel.

Thus armed, I was able to make it through the exploration of the Jasperlode Mine and was finally sent on my way down the road to Guard Thomas and the Eastvale Logging Camp.

Hey, he has a quest for me!

Guard Thomas, of course, sends you out on two quests.  The first is to kill Prowlers and Bears.  A pretty standard MMO quest.

Certainly not the last wolf I’ll be asked to kill

The other is one of those great quests that sticks with you long after you have completed it… and not always for the best reasons.

You have to find out what happened to two missing Stormwind guards.  Guard Thomas sends you up the river to look, which is about as good a set of directions as you are going to get in a quest.  I took a side trip to the Eastvale Logging Camp to pick up the wood collection quest, which happens to overlap nicely with the wolf/bear quest.  I also got the next in the long line of “collect items of Defias apparel” quests.  That one doesn’t overlap, but I was there and had room in the quest log.

The first guard, who turns out to be just a pile of meat sitting in the grass, is just about where you expect if you followed the river as directed.  It wasn’t radiating little sparkles, that effect having come in further down the line for “hey, quest thingy here” indications.  But I was still able to find the pile of meat, which showed the little cog wheel when I moused over it.

Finding the first guard then gives you the clues to find the second.  It describes webbed foot prints and a village just visible in the distance.

A murloc village.

Murlocs… why did it have to be murlocs?

I think that this quest… and the murloc village… was one of the few areas not to be “made safer,” for lack of a better phrase, with the advent of Cataclysm.  The remains of the other guard are still a pile of meat in the middle of the village, and the murlocs are all still crowded so close together that multi-mob pulls are just a fact of life.

It is one of those situations where you think that if you just approach it from another direction, there might be an easier path.

There isn’t.  Instead, only death awaits the solo adventurer.

Look at the bones!

The ground around the village was covered with a fairly consistent semi-circle of bones.

I don’t know if that was death spread over many different players or just one guy who was ~really~ persistent.

Still, as I always do, I looked around, trying to find that mythical safe path into the murloc village while hoping for a bit of luck.  Fortunately, luck stepped in, because myth has always evaded me.  A level 9 warrior and a level 16 hunter came running into the murloc village, so I was able to tread in their wake.

Help from random strangers

Of course, the murloc village is still not that easy.  I got in and helped, but the warrior still died once and I had to heal the level 16 hunter to keep him alive as we finished up the murlocs within aggro range.  The respawn was just slow enough for all of us to click on the second pile of meat and evacuate the village without getting into another full on rumble with the murlocs.

Then it was a bit more wood, a few more prowlers, and time to turn in a few quests.

Of course, the way things worked, turning in my two quests to Guard Thomas got him to send me out to collect… murloc fins!  Like I hadn’t just killed about 25 murlocs in the last ten minutes.  I think you have to turn in the wolf/bear quest first before you go after the guards for maximum efficiency, a detail that slipped my mind.

But, I still had Defias gear to collect and there were, as I recalled, murlocs in the river to the south.  So time for some new locations.  Fortunately, the zone decided that there had been enough rain for a while.  I think it had been raining in Elwyn Forest for a week straight.

Down stream murloc

Murlocs were easy enough to find along the river as I wandered around looking for a decent sized concentration of Defias.  They have a couple of small camps down by the river.

Defias are where you find them

I managed to stumble into a camp with a named Defias, Dead-tooth Jack.  He was level 11, which put him a couple levels above the rest of the Defias in the area.

Me and Dead-tooth down by the school yard

I do not remember anything in particular about Jack, though on looking him up I gather he is part of a warrior quest line.  He sure didn’t drop anything nice for me.  Well, he dropped a shadow gem.  Fat lot of good those are.

Anyway, I slayed and disrobed enough Defias and clubbed and de-finned enough murlocs to satisfy the blood thirsty ambitions of the local Stormwind aligned residents.  However, on the way back, I stumbled across one more prize: Princess!

Some Pig!

I had forgotten about Princess.  I still had the quest, but it is a quest that starts at one farm, goes to another, then vaguely refers to some third farm that is pretty far across the zone.  It is another one of those things that if you were coming from pre-tutorial EverQuest, you would accept this as an pretty easy quest chain.  But if you were coming from a 2012 MMO, it would seem bizarro world complex for a starter zone.

Anyway, Princess was level 9, while I had just hit level 12, while her two minions were each level 7.  None of them was elite.  Despite not having hit my trainer, who was way back in Goldshire, I decided I could take them.  I ended up needing a health potion to do it, but I managed to put all of them down and collect the brass collar that Ma Stonefield was asking for about 8 levels ago.

Then it was the quest turn-in loop.  Guard Thomas, Sara Timberlane, Ma Stonefield, and then back to Goldshire.  Among the rewards was the red shirt (I hope that is not blood) made from the bandanas of the Defias.  No wonder they remain so hostile to Stormwind, as the citizens go around wearing such trophies.

Next, I need brown pants!

Arriving back in Goldshire I was immediately sent back to the Eastvale Logging camp because… it is 2006 and we think making you run across the zone and back builds character!  I had to consider this, because Eastvale is… a little odd at the moment.

We don’t hold with floors ’round these parts!

By this point though, having knocked of Princess, I was feeling I needed to be a completionist in Elwyn Forest, so I did the run out.  I did use my hearth stone to return to Goldshire though, because… screw character!

Then, at last, I was sent off to the Westbrook Garrison, where I was to collect the quest everybody has been waiting for.

Best Wanted Sign Ever!

He is out there, somewhere, waiting for me.

He is out there… wait, I just said that

Another elite quest to face.