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Antigen and I after logging into the WoD demo on the steps of Karabor.

It seems like just yesterday I had booked the hotel, successfully bought the tickets, and began counting down with muted excitement for the day BlizzCon would arrive. This marked my third trip out to sunny southern California for the convention and, two years after the last, it was with a completely different guild.

Personally, I had a really awesome time. I met some amazing people that I only once knew 140 characters at a time, and got to meet up with some great friends that I only get to see all-too-seldomly. And of course there was experiencing first-hand all the WoW news and getting to try out the new expansion and see some of the new content — that was all invaluable. Wouldn’t have missed any of it for the world.


Months earlier, Antigen, Meloree, Theck, Vosskah, Vidyala, and I all agreed to fly in a day earlier for a couple of reasons. The first was to avoid acclimating to all that comes with arrival day along with the thousands of other attendees who’d be showing up on Thursday (there’s something to be said for the peaceful anticipation of the Hilton lobby bar on Wednesday). The second was just to have the day to hang out as a group and get a nice steak dinner — holy cow, that steak — before all the craziness of the con and all its social implications.

On my way out to CA, I had a stopover in New York City for two hours. I finally arrived LAX (which pained me, but cheaper tickets…) somewhere around noon and proceeded to wait for Antigen, Meloree, and Theck for our shuttle to the hotel. Finally there the first objective was to get food. I had only sustained myself that day on some blue chips that JetBlue handed out and it didn’t help that Theck reeked of carrots. At the food court we were soon ambushed by Voss and Vid, back from some shopping trip, and were soon joined by Anafielle before she had to disappear again (that latter bit was a constant theme of the convention).

After lunch we shuffled over to the lobby bar and just chilled out for a few hours, Antigen and I sucking down gin and tonics while Mel and Theck got months of pent-up mechanics discussions out of the way. Hands were waved furiously, I assure you.

Once we had pre-gamed enough, it was time for our reservation at Mortons, and so off we went to that. When we finally got to sit down at the table, we got to enjoy a true feast. Probably one of the top five steaks I’ve ever had, and the company was great too. Totally an excellent capstone to a long and arduous day of travel. Bed followed soon after, we all had a busy day ahead of us.


Started the day off with a nice (though long!) breakfast at the Hilton lobby restaurant with Voss, Vid, Antigen, and (in doing so met for the first time) Hamlet, Perculia, and Sarah Pine from WoW Insider. It was the right start to the day, and was a nice counter from the craziness that would surely follow.

The day before the convention opens is, obviously, the big travel day and all it’s the day of two huge events: the big WoW Insider/wowhead party and the early badge pickup line. The two obligations line up, so choices had to be made of when to tackle each. After about noon there were a concerning number of people beginning to line up for the badge line. This, however, was such a rookie mistake. The best time to tackle the line is typically at the back end of the night, after all the early birds got out of the way. While BlizzCon is infamous for being LineCon, there’s no reason to stand in superfluous lines.

At some point in the afternoon, while everyone was off meeting up with newcomers or ticking objectives off lists, Antigen and I took a cab to In n Out Burger and fulfilled the pilgrimage we had committed ourselves to months ago. Being from the half of the country which In n Out doesn’t exist in, the burger was a rare treat. It was pretty good too — totally worth the cab fare, though that may have been mostly thanks to the animal-style sauce.

When we got back we met up with Voss and Vid, who was handing out some of her business cards to the folks who bought badge art from her. I got to meet some great people as they came over to say hi to her, including Timbersham, Arielle, (guildmate) Elfi, and a few others.
Not long after we got ourselves in gear and headed off for the WoW Insider party before the line got too intense. The group of us, despite having three writers for the site, stood in the line though we apparently could have cruised right through. (Oh well.) Either way, once inside we opened bar tabs and found a spot near the pool that wasn’t baking from all the heat lamps while the deck filled up. And it proceeded to do so, quickly.

I’m going to be charitable when I say there were some interesting characters at the party — there was an awful lot of dudebro-ing going on. And I didn’t envy the tangled mass of people piled up in front of the MC, clamoring for free swag. Not my scene, thanks.

One random rogue cornered Antigen and I and began to level a rant against rogue design in WoW and how he believes that class representation is low because all the specs are the same and they have no utility. When Antigen counterpointed smoke bomb, the rogue compared the radius of its effect to the size of his junk. I asked him how long he’d been waiting to use that line, and he said he’d been delivering it all off the cuff. Yet, once we had escaped him, I’d occasionally see him out of the corner of my eye flitting from group to group like a possessed hummingbird and delivering the same rote rant. It was bizarre.

Anyway, thankfully, there were way more awesome people there to totally set off the throng — including Tikari and Kristin, Hestiah, others whose names escape me — and it was great to get to hang out with them. At one point Voss made the mistake of offering a compliment to me in front of all those lovely people and I immediately tweeted about it. That earned me a smack, but dammit, it was worth it. (I should have recorded it, perhaps made it my ringtone. Regrets.)

After enough time passed we had to rush out to hit the badge line, though reports were rushing in from Twitter that it was still massive. When we finally entered the line, it was parallel with the entrance to the Hilton lobby and we had about 90 minutes to make it through. Thankfully the line was moving really fast by that point — there were so many turns and bottlenecks down the line that it seemed there was enough time for the badge counters to clear people out as new folks stepped up. As a whole it was a ridiculously efficient enterprise. It think it only took us 30 minutes in total to pass through the whole thing.

On the other side, some people (Hamlet and Theck) dodged back to the WI/wowhead party, while the rest of us went up to the suite that Voss and Vid had gotten at the Hilton to hang out. The lobby was already a madhouse, as you’d imagine. Voss played host and ordered food and drinks, and everyone proceeded to decompress and shoot the shit. That’s pretty much how the night ended, with everyone conserving energy for the craziness that would soon follow.

Friday: Day One

If there’s one line that I am absolutely dead set on getting the best spot in, it’s the opening ceremonies line on the first day. That line position determines your seat for the opening and the big reveal of the next expansion and it had to be done right. Antigen was kind enough to indulge me and get in early, skipping breakfast. We weren’t as early as Theck, who was right by the fountain in front of the doors with Kerriodos, Derevka, and other Something Wicked people. Antigen and I snuck through the line and joined up with those folks. Voss and Vid went for breakfast first and were stuck way far away from us by the time they joined the line. Meloree opted to avoid it altogether and just cruise in once everyone was inside.

I severely underestimated how the line would flow — and, sidenote, to call it a line is charitable; they just piled everyone up in a throng in front of the doors, and I was honestly expecting a horror story about a trampling later — and the doors opened probably an hour after we got in line, though two hours before any ceremonies started. We then spent about 15 minutes in the lobby before the doors to the convention itself opened and we barreled forward trying to grab seats. Somehow Kerri, Theck, Antigen, and I stuck together and we grabbed seats on the left side of the main hall. They were decent seats and (I would argue!) better than the row that Voss, Vid, Tass, and Elfi grabbed.

The opening ceremony was great and by the time Metzen started ruminating on the old days of Warcraft and honor and how the Alliance should feel great about themselves (little obvious what they were trying to do) and it was so blatantly obvious that very soon he was going to say the words ‘Warlords of Draenor’. It was only a matter of time. So they ran the trailer for the next expansion and it was awesome. I swear the line about “new character models” was easily the biggest applause point throughout the whole thing. Moreover, I have it on good authority that the first time a draenei appeared on screen, Vidyala began vomiting rainbows.

After that Voss, Vid, and Tass joined us in our obviously superior position for the What’s Next panel. I won’t go too far into that because I want to do a separate post about all the big changes, but suffice it to say, Vid wasn’t the only one vomiting rainbows.

That was pretty much it for the must-have panels, so went out to grab some lunch before the big art panel that Vid wanted to go to at 3:45. Meloree took us down to the restaurants on Katella and someone chose PF Changs. That was amazing, I can’t believe I’ve never been to one of those around Boston before. Then again, I’m a sucker for fried rice.

Back at the con, Antigen and I broke off and checked out the exhibitions. We played the demo for the next expansion, which was painful to do thanks to default UI and keybinds. It looked awesome, though, and the item squish was not noticeable at all. I snagged pictures of the level 100 talents, but everyone else was miles ahead of me on twitter before I had gotten to that.

Later that night, Voss, Vid, Antigen, and I headed over to the Twisted Nether Blogcast party where I got to meet Fimlys and Hydra and eat copious amounts of bar food. I also ran into Glaciel who used to be in Enveloping Shadows, which was trippy. I’m sad I didn’t get more time to reminisce with him. Not too longer after the start Chronis and Kaleri joined us and the group of us huddled around a table and engaged into some awesome, Blue Moon-fueled tank talk. That party was easily one of the highlights of the trip for me.

On the walk back to the Hilton, Chronis seemed to desperately want to call it a night, but no one was letting him off the hook that early. We dragged him back to the Hilton lobby where Voss and Vid bid us good night. Antigen was hopped up on gin at that point and was intent on scoring another hit, so I went to the bar with him. Finally he got the attention of a bartender and got our drinks and then we circled around until we found the Apotheosis folks. I hadn’t met them all yet, so I got to introduce myself to Serinne, Serrath, Colin (I have no idea what your character name is!), Srsbusiness, and a few more. Got to spend some more quality time with Chronis as well.

At one point Ghostcrawler walked by and Apotheosis immediately swarmed him. Serrath kindly offered to take a photo of me and Antigen with GC, so we slipped over to him and asked if he’d take a photo with a couple of paladins. He laughed and immediately offered a “fuck paladins!” With his normal routine, it was hilarious. It was really nice of him to indulge us and take a photo with us.

Me, GC, and Antigen. Sorry, my phone camera is crap.

As it always does, 2am hit and the Hilton staff cranked up the lights and began to herd everyone out. Was a good cap to the night!

Saturday: Day Two

Saturday was a much more quiet day, and much like with regards to writing this recap, the first day had completely drained my batteries. I’m not a social butterfly to begin with, so extending past my natural reticence was beginning to take its toll.

The day itself at the convention was really quiet. There was nothing super critical to get there early for. The live raid is always cool, but I didn’t think it was worth standing up for a while for. I took my time and grabbed breakfast with Voss and Vid while Antigen scooted off to grab some seats for the following general WoW panel.

When we met up with him, it turned out he was in just about the same area we were in for the What’s Next panel the day before. So that was convenient. The gameplay panel, again, I won’t go too far in to it — but the highlight was obviously the stats and design discussion. I am ridiculously excited for some of what they talked about.

After that panel, Antigen and I went to walk around the con. We watched a few Starcraft matches, which I was able to follow despite knowing next to nothing about the game. We tried out Hearthstone on the tablet, and the Diablo 3 expansion on the PS4, and fell victim to how sold out the Blizzard store was.

At 4pm it was time for Pallypalooza at the meeting stone, which was ok. I got to talk a bit with Meloree, Kerri, Colin (sorry again), and Antigen while Theck was swarmed by grateful prots and Anafielle shmoozed with the high-end raider prots like Slootbag and Treckie. We took a big group photo which I was super paranoid I got cut out of because some guy that looked like Tom Hanks on the island from Castaway started to edge me out. Thankfully, I made the cut.

After Pallypalooza, we had the guild dinner over at sushi place way down Katella Ave. It was really, really good. And I was happy to be able to just calmly sit and chat with my guildmates over copious quantities of fish and rice. Vid got the manager to take a group photo, though I’m not sure where that went.

The night ended quietly as well. I eventually crashed after hanging out with the BTers and Jed and his friend for a bit. It was a long week and I was definitely nearly out of steam.


When I woke up the next day, just about everyone was in full “get out of dodge” mode. People were flooding out of the Hilton and surrounding hotels, catching shuttles and cabs, and heading to the airport. Blizzcon was over and it was time to return to normalcy.

Had breakfast with Voss, Antigen, Theck, and Mel, and Arielle joined us a little after. I got to enjoy a little tank talk at the table, mostly listening to Theck and Arielle talk about their blue interactions the other night.

By the time the afternoon rolled around, it was like a bomb went off. Everywhere you went, where the day before there may be hundreds of people filling some spot, there was no one. No throngs crossing the streets at all time, not long lines for Starbucks or the food court, just… emptiness.

Meloree was still around until his flight on Monday and he was awesome to spend the day hanging out with me. Antigen left at 1pm and Theck a little before him, and with Vid at Disneyland and Voss out shopping, it was just the two of us for a while. So we hung out and talked a lot and drank a decent amount of coffee until eventually Voss returned and we went for a long lunch. Then it was just the three of us until finally it was time for my shuttle to LAX, that night. I met up with Anafielle and we hopped in the shuttle and rode off for our respective rides into the sunset.

My plane took off a little after 11:30pm, and as the wheels retracted and LAX faded away in the distance I reflected a bit on the trip while trying to jam those JetBlue earplugs into my ear canals. It was a really awesome week and I think I officially accomplished all I had hoped to, along with a little bit more. Most of all, I’m glad to have gotten to spend time in person with good friends — some for the first time, some for yet another time. But hopefully not the last time.

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Here’s my secret to getting Blizzcon tickets

To stay zen before ticket sales, I went down to the flying turtle emporium that Millya was making to keep HERSELF zen.

Yesterday was one of those magical days that only come once a year where a person gets to put aside all concern for their blood pressure and stress levels and attempt to buy one of the hottest tickets of the year in the world of nerdery.

The last two times tickets went on sale for Blizzcon, I managed to snag my entry passes both times. Of course, the very first time I bought tickets I got place 413 in line, the second 1254, and last night I got 1334. I might be slipping.

Well, regardless, I saw a lot of people on twitter that were sad that they got stuck with such a high queue number that they eventually missed the boat on tickets. In the interest of helping — and with the selfish interest of already having my ticket and thus not shooting myself in the foot — I would like to share my method for buying Blizzcon tickets in the hopes that I can help some other folks get to enjoy the event in person come November.

For starters, do the following pre-flight checks:

1. Confirm your payment methods are correct on the Blizzcon site, to be safe. I know Blizz recommends this too, but it’s really important and bears repeating.

2. Download Chrome if you don’t have it. In my experience (or maybe this is confirmation bias) Chrome is the fastest when it comes to reloading pages. Test it out at the ticket buying site a few times to get a feel for how quickly it reloads.

3. Compliment your F5 key, it’s going to get quite a beating because you must use F5 to reload. If you click the reload icon in Chrome, you will lose precious seconds (this will be a recurring theme) getting your mouse from there to the checkout button. Either way, get familiar with how your hand will rest on the keyboard and what will be the most optimal/least painful way to spam that key.

4. 15 minutes before tickets go on sale, log into your account on and go to the payment methods page and just reload that every 5 minutes to make sure you stay logged in.

5. Check the @BlizzCon twitter account. Last night they were tweeting 30-10-5 minute warnings so it was easy to gauge the difference between my clock and theirs (ie, if I was 1 minute faster or slower than them). Gets you an idea at what point you need to be “in the zone”.

Okay, now we’re 3 minutes before tickets go on sale. This is when you want to start going to town on the F5 key, since you don’t know if some mook at Blizzcon is going to flip the switch to put the tickets on sale early. (This probably would not happen, but in cases like this safe is better than sorry.)

Here is the single most important bit of advice I can impart to you. Look at this screen:


Where that red box is is approximately where the checkout button will appear. There will also be a drop down box where you can change your quantity, but that box is a trap. You hear me? It’s a trap.

You will lose precious seconds changing your quantity on this screen when you need to get into that goddamn queue as soon as possible, scrambling over the thousands of other clambering purchasers and scalper bots. You can change your quantity at checkout before you pay for your tickets.

As you F5, get in the zone so that as soon as that red-orange button appears you will instantly click down on it rather than reload the page another unnecessary time.

I hope this all helps. Good luck on Saturday, you can do this!

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April 25, 2013
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BlizzCon prot paladin recap

Just a quick post to digest anything pertinent to our beloved spec!

The new talents system

Firstly, when they were gave prot paladins as the example for the new system in the WoW Preview Panel, they gave a quick list of what abilities we’d receive automatically as a result of our spec. No surprises here, except that retribution will have Hammer of the Righteous too.

(Apologies to mmo-champ for stealing their screenshots.)

As for the actual talents they offered for prot paladins later in the talent panel, I played with the wowhead calculator a little bit and settled on this spec. There’s not much reason to go terribly in depth, since these will likely all change before we even reach beta, but to briefly bob and weave through the six tiers …

Tier 1 – Level 15

First of all: HALLELUJAH — a gap closer at last! During the preview panel when they mentioned how the new talents would include a helpful amount of utility enhancements, I immediately thought that this could feasibly lead to the long-deferred dream of a tankadin gap closer to be fulfilled. So imagine my joy when that first screenshot came up on the screen showing an overview of paladin talents and the first tier was the three movement-enhancing talents in our current trees.

But I digress! Speed of Light is the obvious choice here. The fastest speed combined with a short cooldown makes it the most useful of the three choices. You’re not going to be constantly zipping around, so you want that burst of speed to mean the most it can when you choose to use it.

Tier 2 – Level 30

The stun is the only real choice I see here. CC is nice, but it has a cast time, and that’s not the kind of thing you’ll want to be playing with in combat. And, likewise, there are plenty of other CCs available. As for Seal of Justice, total PVP choice.

Tier 3 – Level 45

This is a wonderful tier, but despite the temptations of the first two, hands-down nothing can beat a cheat death.

Tier 4 – Level 60

Don’t make the mistake I first did when I saw this, the wording “friendly target” also includes the player (see Word of Glory, for example; same verbiage) so Holy Shield was be self-usable. It’s the only real survivability choice. Eternal Glory remains lackluster, and Selfless Healer focuses itself on a heal with a cast time, something we won’t be dirtying ourselves with.

Tier 5 – Level 75

Clemency seems like the best choice. The ability to get two BoPs out, for example, feels pretty powerful. Reduced cooldowns are boring, by comparison. Being able to choose the end of the cooldown will always be more powerful. Veneration likewise feels like a PVP talent, but you never know if a PVE fight may require switching to it if there’s some kind of raid-wide slowing debuff, or something of that ilk. You never know.

Tier 6 – Level 90

Holy Avenger gives us a burst of survivability: the ability to cast WoG/Holy Shield 6 times in a row — especially if WoG’s cooldown disappears in 5.0. That’s incredibly powerful, especially when choice of timing is the name of the game.

All in all, I know it’s stupid to dig through these when they are nowhere near final. But I love the new system, I’m very excited about it. For the same reason I enjoy flipping around my major glyphs fight to fight, I love the possibility of customizing my talents depending on the needs of the encounter. I really hope they stick with this to the end. (Not the numbers, mind you, the big picture framework.)

Sidenote: I think it’s cute that Blizzard is aiming for this new system to kill cookie-cutter builds. The truth of the matter is, if numbers are included on a talent, you’ll be able to crunch our its survivability value. We’re going to have a list of proper talents for each encounter, there’s no way around it.

The return of Blinding Shield?

At the class Q&A, Ghostcrawler imparted that Blinding Shield (originally a new spell for Paladins in Cataclysm, but later removed) is penciled in as the level 87 spell. As he went on to disclaim, that could very likely change, so don’t consider it remotely set in stone.

Hope burns eternal

I would love to see an orange shield.

- Ghostcrawler, when the panel was asked about a tanking legendary

Cosmetic librams soon?

When talking about hunter quivers, the panelists also brought up librams as a similar cosmetic option for paladins. I wonder if they’ll turn the soon-to-be deprecated ranged slot into a “cosmetic item slot”. You equip a libram, or a totem, or quiver, or whatever and it appears slung to an appropriate spot on your character. It’s something I’ve wanted to see since Burning Crusade, so here’s hoping we see that in MoP.

What we didn’t hear about

On Thursday, Miri texted me to let me know that she asked Ghostcrawler about active mitigation/tank changes during the charity dinner and he said there was not going to be any news about it during BlizzCon. Likewise, as the convention continued we didn’t get a single inkling of any news about the subject. I’m a little disappointed, but as long as it makes it to 5.0, there’s not much of value in worrying about not getting news about an early design iteration.

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Leaving, on a jet plane

I am currently posting this from the Dallas airport, waiting for the eventual departure of my flight. I have a long day of travel today — 8 hours and change — but at least it’s almost done!

In any case, I’m very much excited for BlizzCon and especially to see a lot of great friends and folks from my guild, Twitter, and elsewhere in the WoW community. If you want to meet and say hi at any point, hit me up on Twitter and let me know — I’d love the chance to say hi to any readers!

I’ll also be at the WoW Insider Meetup on Thursday and the after-party at the Hilton on Saturday (hooray for being centrally located). And, of course, I’ll be camping out at a lot of the panels this year. And now that I’ve finally ditched my iPhone, I should be able to tweet while inside the Convention building — so I can offer inane commentary on any big reveals as they occur.

Looking forward most especially to some tantalizing details on how active mitigation is going to work, and any other changes we can expect for tankadins in WoW 5.0. Hopefully there’ll be some big news!

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October 20, 2011
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Blizzcon 2010

Well, where do I start? It was a pretty epic weekend, full of friends, WoW news, endless walking, and lots of laughs. Thinking back now and peeling back the layers of jetlag that are caked on my memories, I absolutely had a blast out there and cannot wait for next year–provided I have the opportunity to go again.

The icing on the cake was, of course, meeting some of my guildmates for the first time. I’d already met Cendra and Ildara before, but this was my first time seeing Anafielle, Gandy, Sheepindeath, Palehoof, Katmandu, and Amulgur. All great folks and they totally made the weekend for me.

From left to right: Ildara, Cendra, Sheepindeath, Gandy, myself, Anafielle. (Not pictured: Pale, Kat, and Amulgur, who were off doing their own crazy thing.)

I’ll spare you all a play-by-play of all four days I was out there, but there were some key moments I am compelled to share. Like on Thursday, I was following the progress of the badge pickup line through Twitter with some trepidation hearing of multiple hours spent in line. However our delay in getting over there (because we were waiting for Cendra and Ildara to fly in and drop off their stuff at the hotel) ended up rewarding us. When we finally got to the B hall to grab our badges, the place was nigh-deserted.

I can’t even fathom the unmitigated hell that must have been standing in that awful line for a long as so many must have.

Once we had gathered up our badges and our guildees, we trudged down the road to the Anabella hotel for the WoW Insider party. It was a lower key event than I thought it would be, with huge crowds stacked around the podcast table and whoever was yelling into a microphone. The bar lines were long but the drinks weren’t too expensive. I managed to sate myself on multiple G&Ts over the course of the night. Had a good time overall, since I prefer low key things.

Towards the end before the party ended, there was a huge commotion at the patio. Apparently Ghostcrawler had arrived and was immediately swarmed.

Ana managed to pull a conversation with the guy, and despite my best efforts wouldn’t act as a partisan in my quixotic quest to get a gap closer for Prot. Instead the two chatted briefly about Maintankadin while I stood 30 feet away and shouted over the din, “LONG ARM OF THE LAW FOR PROT!”

But not really.

The next morning I did my best to get everyone up and moving early so we could get in line pronto for the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, everyone afk’d for my ready check. After docking the raid’s DKP, I was able to motivate them to get into gear. On the walk down to the convention center, half the group split off to go get breakfast at some overpriced joint in Downtown Disney while the rest of us continued to the line. Once we had our spot near the fountain, we then proceeded to stand there for two hours, unaware that the line behind was extending to unholy lengths.

After about two hours of uncomfortable weight shifting, some dope dressed up as Risk Astley and poorly rickrolling the crowd with his iPod dock, various innuendo from Gandy, a parade of cosplayers whose shtick consisted of “I’m blond, scantily clad, and wearing blood elf ears!”, and all other kinds of craziness, the doors opened and the line started moving. We quickly got inside and grabbed some okay seats for the opening.

As you know, not much was announced for WoW aside a new charity pet from the online store. And they replayed the opening cinematic. Woo.

I then proceeded to spend most of the day in that hall, watching the various panels. Most of which were really interesting. As the day progressed and each panel ended, we moved closer and closer to the front of the room to the point where we were in the second clump of chairs from the stage, slightly to the left of center stage, in time for the live raid and costume contest/other contests.

The dance contest in particular was fantastic, and I say this as someone with a genetically predisposed lack of rhythm. The kid who did the gnome male dance was great, the trio who did the goblin female dance put on quite the show, only one of the male orc dancers was actually good, and the woman who did the female gnome dance made me all the more terrified of that benighted race. And, of course, the male undead dance. Poor guy, I was mortified for him.

Biggest disappointment of the costume contest: not watching a Draenei or Illidan cosplayer face plant on a ramp. Best costume: the “T4 warrior lfm for Kara”, that one took me back! (Except for the warrior part.)

That night we went to Bubba Gump’s for dinner and I briefly popped in to the meetup at the bar to say hi (once I had stuffed myself with a shrimp-based dinner), but by then a lot of people had already left. However, I did get to meet Ophelie of Bossy Pally, which was pretty cool.

The next day I resolved to not spend the entire day in that one room, so the goal was to just hit up the Class Q&A and then do some wandering and see everything I missed the previous day. So we skipped the cinematics panel at the beginning of the day, got some breakfast at Denny’s (in all its greasy glory), and then headed over to grab seats for the Q&A. The room was pretty full by the time we got there, but we snagged a row of seats in view of one of the giant monitors off to the side. Meanwhile, Ana ran off to get in the Q&A line before it was too late.

(If you can’t tell by now, she’s definitely the more social of the two of us!)

There were some really good questions and some amazingly terrible ones. As much as I hated the “lolpaladins” attitude present (and I’m sure I made a spectacle of myself clapping like a cymbal monkey any time someone asked a Pally question), the crowd was pretty well behaved. And when it wasn’t, it was primarily in response to the abject stupidity of some questions–like the first guy who had a raft of bizarre hunter complaints, or the DK that wanted to be buffed because nobody liked him in LFD.

The third question in or so was a really good one done by this fellow, asking about Grand Crusader and how worthless it is right now. Unfortunately, the devs side stepped the question, saying they’d buff the talent if need be. That’s all well and good, but they totally missed the point that the root problem is the rotation we have right now is so rigid there’s only one spot where Grand Crusader can feasibly go. As such, I’m suspecting their happy to keep 3-second CS where it is for some time, rather than fixing the rotation, which is pretty disheartening.

Another question got the devs to spill that in the near future we’ll have a talent that will make Divine Plea generate 3 Holy Power, giving us a full ShoR ready to go at the pull. That was great news!

Towards the end of the Q&A, Ana finally got her turn to ask her question. She stood up and asked the following:

Hey guys, this is Anafielle from the paladin blog, Righteous Defense, and I have a question about tanks in general. I was wondering if you were happy with the current implementation of Vengeance? Right now, … the way it’s working, you can run into an avoidance streak and you won’t get enough stacks; and it also punishes survival gearing to an extent because when you’re gearing for survival you’ll have less stacks of Vengeance. I was wondering if you were happy with the way that is?

It was a bit obvious at the time she got up there that Ana was a little nervous. Let’s be serious though, who wouldn’t be? I echo Antigen’s sentiment that “I would’ve been so nervous I would probably just said “Hi!” and excused myself.”

Personally, I don’t have anywhere near the cojones to get up in front of all those people and put myself at the mercy of what could be a very merciless crowd. I did my part by holding back the compulsion to sympathy-stress-vomit all over the Mullet in front of me.

The rest of the con was hardly as exciting. I spent the rest of our time there checking out the booths from afar (no thanks, lines!), the art gallery, hitting up the store, grabbing lunch, and doing some more wandering. At around 5:30 we ducked outside for the official Lightninghoof photo, only to find out they rescheduled the photo for an hour early and had already taken it. So, we took one of our own. Palehoof even paid the kid who took the photo with a loot card.

From there we broke off and went back to the hotel to drink beer, eat pizza, and shoot the shit. After a while, Ana and Gandy got wanderlust so they headed off for the after party. Apparently they didn’t make it back until 5 am the next morning and we had to retrace Gandy’s steps with a receipt from Denny’s time-stamped at 4:15 am. In any case, was relieved to learn after the fact that Palehoof was there to keep Gandy from trying to drunkenly Tricks someone, IRL.

And then of course yesterday we all bid our farewells to one another, wished safe travels, and scattered to the four winds, back to our respective homes and varying states of jet laggedness.

The plan is to roll with an even bigger crew next year. I hope that happens, Blizzcon was way too much fun to share with just 9 people from our guild. Can’t wait til next time.

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October 25, 2010
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Finding our footing once more

Up until that first pull of Heroic Marrowgar I was terrified that last night was going to be a repeat of the debacle that was the raid on Wednesday last week. The first time we tried Heroic Marrowgar last week I think I was two shot, ingloriously. The offtank followed suit with much haste.

Last night–much better! We had no problems dropping Marrowgar. In fact it felt like pre-4.0.1, except for dps was much higher, so the fight didn’t last as long. Then on Heroic LDW we had a somewhat clean one shot. With everyone’s additional health I’m sure that there were survivors to some unnecessary ghost explosions. I’m sure we wouldn’t have pulled it off that attempt if not for 4.0.1, but at this point I’m beyond caring about these externalities. I just want the night to go well.

And so it did. We pretty much rolled over everything in our path, cleanly one-shotting Heroic Putricide and only stalling at Heroic Sindragosa at the end of the night. With Put in particular I was convinced there were some boss damage hotfixes, because I was reduced to a paste by his normal mode last week, and yet last night I wasn’t taking that much of a beating. Lo and behold, there were.

Per the crab,

We’ve made some Icecrown and Halion changes already and we may need to make more.

He didn’t go into details but I’m certain that they nerfed boss damage in ICC and RS. On just about everything except for Sindragosa (who is still very truck-like in her damage) I was sitting pretty with very few “oh crap” moments, if any.

Last night was also a great chance to get more comfortable with the rotation and all our new toys. I’m much happier with 939 than I’ve been since it was first devised. It’s still annoying to CS every other attack, but the 9′s are not as locked in as they used to be (there’s some fluidity) to make the rotation require some thought. Plus, I’m really liking the choice presented by Shield of the Righteous and Word of Glory.

The former you use at the start to establish a threat lead, then once you’re comfortable with your position you can use Word of Glory to boost your survivability. A lot of times I found myself with a good 10% or so headstart on the dps and started popping the self-heal/absorb. I like any choice we get and any choice that rewards us for not choosing poorly. I think WoG is one of the those things.

Perhaps my favorite part of the night, though, was Heroic Festergut. Thanks to Vengeance and the the damage buff he slaps on the tank, I pulled off an 85,665 damage Shield of the Righteous crit. I’m sure I could have done much better with AW up, or some dps gear, though I was at least using my Bloodvenom Blade.

In any case, I close out my post with this demand: I want to see your crits. Email me screenshots of ShoR crits on your scrolling combat text or Recount, from Festergut. Your personal bests, the biggest number you can push. Next Friday I’ll do a post showing off the biggest ShoR crits I received. You can email your screenshots to rhidach [at] gmail [dot] com.

Housekeeping note! Tomorrow morning I’m flying out to California for Blizzcon. Blogging here will of course be light to non-existent, since Anafielle is also going to be there. However you can follow both of us and our Blizzcon-related ramblings on Twitter! Here’s my Twitter page, and here’s Anafielle’s.

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October 20, 2010
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I have no idea how I did it. For the last few months, some friends and I have been talking about going to Blizzcon for the first time, with each statement being neatly hedged by bookend “assuming we get tickets.”

This past week gave us the chance to finally put our money where our mouths were. Tickets first went on sale Wednesday night, right in the middle of our attempts on the Lich King, and I was too stubborn to take a break to go for tickets. Someone else in guild managed to buy 7 tickets across two different accounts, which was somewhat annoying. Even more so, though, because he declared he was intending to scalp them. Pretty disheartening to hear for people who actually wanted to go to the stupid event.

After the incident, five of us coalesced and planned to meet in vent Saturday afternoon to coordinate and strategize our buying attempts.

Come Saturday morning, one of them (Anafielle) was at work and another (Gandy) was apparently napping. It came down to Ildara, Cendra, and I to somehow bring home the bacon.

Come around 12:55 eastern (5 minutes before the tickets went on sale), I began furiously F5ing until that checkout button appeared. I had all my ducks in a row, I was in Chrome (granted, it’s my default browser), already logged into the Blizzard Store, had my credit card set as my default payment method, and was completely in the zone. I was a leaf on the wind, watch how I fly.

I had instructed everyone to not bother to select a quantity, just hit the button as soon as you saw it to get in the queue ASAP and then change quantity after. Just get in the damn queue.

So 12:59 rolls around and I’m completely zen. F5. Is it there? No. F5. There? No. F5. Eventually, what seemed an eternity later, my subcortex catches a flicker of orange on the screen. Go time. I quickly click the button and jump in line.

Apparently I had trained for this moment all my life every time I immediately slammed on the gas whenever a traffic light shifted over to green. My reaction time was razor thin. All those pedestrians were not sacrificed in vain.

My initial queue position was 413. Four hundred and thirteen. As I read that number it slowly dawned on me, I was going to Blizzcon. Holy crap.

While Anafielle was despairing on Twitter, I shared my victory with Ildara and Cendra. Dara managed to get 3000ish in line, Cendra was stuck around 8000ish. I snagged the five tickets for us, and Dara grabbed another three for Palehoof and his two friends.

So, everything worked out in the end, generally. Anyone else get Blizzcon tickets? Or were you stuck in Queue Purgatory?

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June 7, 2010
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Coming changes are catacly–no! I won’t do it!!

You can’t make me make the “cataclysmic” pun… I refuse! Damn you Blizz and your siren song of easy jokes.

Having eagerly digested all the information from Blizzcon that I could, I’m happy to report the following game changes. (And, by report, I mean regurgitate everything you’ve already read.)

Block is changing

Block rating and value is being folded into one stat. Now instead of having x chance to block for y, you’ll have x chance to block for a steady percent of damage reduction. What that number is, we don’t know yet. Great chance for raid bosses, but kind of crappy for heroics and outgeared content.

Defense is gone

Gone baby, gone. Now all tanks get a crit reduction talent a la Survival of the Fittest. I’m mostly in favor of this, because it’s a huge pain trying to maximize stamina and avoidance while staying crit capped. But then again, juggling is half the fun of the mini-game we call raid gearing.

New ways to advance our characters

Blizz isn’t adding another tier of talents (no 61 point talents) so all we get are 5 more talent points to spend as we will. SotP I guess would be the obvious choice if we had those extra 5 points with today’s menu of options. However, the trees are probably going to be shifted a little with some things moved to the new mastery system (as I understand it) so talents are less “improve x by y%” and more “when you do x, y might happen”.

Path of the Titans is one new way we’ll be advancing our toons, choosing a Titanic cult (I call the Cult of DiCaprio, /swoon) and researching “ancient glyphs” to plug into spots we research. MMO-Champ has two example glyphs that are tank oriented, one giving a passive 4% damage reduction, and one that makes a new Divine Sacrifice-like spell. Pretty cool shift.

So many questions…

Will there still be tank weapons or will we be sharing weapons with dps? How much will the prot tree change? Will there be a “tanking” Path of the Titan to focus on?

The beta will be interesting.

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Blizzcon, the expac, and lore

I originally wasn’t going to order the live stream of Blizzcon (mostly because I’ll be at work during one of the Con days) but I’m starting to feel like I’ll be missing out on some big things. I’ll probably get it and just listen to it at my desk with the window minimized. Sure, I could wait for the YouTube clips, but… impatience demands satiation…

It’s pretty exciting, all these changes that will be passed down from ye on high in just a few days. Details about class changes, philosophy shifts on certain stats, and of course a big reveal of the next expansion pack.

I’m not sure what to expect from Blizzcon. I can’t imagine Pallies are in line for the same tectonic shift we received at the beginning of Wrath. Blizz will probably move to finally kill off spellpower plate once and for all, and announce a major redo of the Holy tree around that. But, that’s Holy, what about us? Maybe a change to the Blessings system, folding Sanc into something. As TBC was wrapping up it was obvious there were structural weakness to Prot Pallies that needed to be fixed. This time around, not so much.

Something I caught in one of GC’s comments on the forums was when he said in regards to defense, “we have a solution to the ‘defense cap’ [sic] at Blizzcon. :)”. Who knows what that means. I can’t even begin to imagine.

Moreover, everyone’s seen the write-up on mmo-champ about Cataclysm by now. I believe in Boubouille and I’m sure in the end it’s going to turn out he was right about everything: Worgen and Goblins, the new sundering, Tauren Paladins, the works. And then all those WoW forum cretins whose only form of expression is bile will have to eat crow. No, scratch that, they’ll never admit fault. They’ll just move on and find something else to extend their diseased claws into.

There is a certain degree of ignorance fueling this hate that’s directed at the Cataclysm rumors. For example, people are insisting with every fiber of their being there is no lore justification for the alleged new class combos, which seems like bunk to me. There are already Troll Druids in game (see just about every troll raid boss). The foundation for Light-following Tauren was laid out in 3.2 with that dialogue in TB. The next patch will have a similar quest reintroducing Arcane-aligned Night Elves (i.e., the Highborne). The Wildhammer Clan of Dwarves already has shamans.

All these new combinations make sense on some level. Nothing is really, truly “lorelol” in the same way that the sudden introduction of the Naaru and space-faring, retconned Draenei were.

One thing I’d like to see is mirrored Wrathgate-esque, massive quest chains where either Gnomes or Trolls reclaim their ancestral homes. For the former it’s Gnomeregan, the latter the Isles where Thrall first found them. That would be epic.

WoW is getting stale, and definitely needs some new life added to it. Hopefully Cataclysm will be the expac to do it.

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August 18, 2009