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Warcraft Diary
Bar Harbor

I had an interesting little PvP experience last night. Near the center of Hellfire Peninsula, there are three buildings that are PvP objectives, and there's a repeatable quest to participate in the capture of all three of them. As an Alliance-side character, it's often not feasible for me to do that quest, because the Alliance already controls all of them. It isn't because we are inherently better at PvP (arguably, we are worse), it's just that there are so many more of us. But I keep the quest in my log, and try and generally check the status of the buildings in between doing other quests.

In-world PvP is different in a lot of ways from the Battlegrounds. For one thing, there's no assurance that there will actually *be* any opposition there. So last night my Mage tried -- and succeeded -- to take all three buildings by stealth. While the Horde was battling it out over building A, I was sneaking to a sheltered spot near building B and beginning the capture process. As I rode away in triumph, I saw a large group of Horde cresting a hill and heading towards me -- but when they realized I was leaving, they went back to recapturing the building.

Now, once you're in PvP mode, it takes five minutes to get out of it. Forgetting this little detail, I went off to do some adventuring around a hub of questgivers that caters to both sides. Some Hordies eventually noticed that I was flagged, and attacked me. I panicked! Quickly threw up a Mana Shield, Blinked, and started running for my life. They had me down to about 1/3 of my health... and my PvP flag timed out, in mid-fight! Good thing I hadn't reflexively attacked back, or the timer would have reset. The Hordies laughed at me once they realized what had happened, but at least I survived :)

Afterwards, I ventured a bit into Zangamarsh for the first time, and saw the first few questgiver areas in there. 25 slots in the quest log is still not enough, especially in the Outland. The levels are so long that there are a *lot* of quests that are appropriate to any given level -- really more than you can keep around at once.

As heroftheage said, it's like bag slots -- no matter how many you have, you still want more. Which reminds me, I'm now rich enough to start thinking about buying some of those 18-slot bags at the Auction House...


Decided to do some left-over quests in the Plaguelands last night. I had one marked "Group", but which was only rated at level 57. I figured that at 62, there was a decent chance I could solo it.

The quest required infiltrating a troll village up in the corner of the map. As I made my way in, I started to wonder why this quest was marked Group -- the trolls did not appear to be Elite, which is what usually triggers that designation. Once I started trying to penetrate the center of the village, I found out. Some of the trolls were labeled "Scout"; this is quite common, and usually doesn't mean anything in particular. This time, however, it did. These guys were not only positioned like scouts, they *acted* like scouts. The moment one of them became aware of me, he would run to a nearby group and alert them to my presence. As a 62, I *was* able to solo it, but I had some tense fights, and even ran away a few times.


At least for the time being, there doesn't seem to be much point in auctioning off the awesome new BC gear. Supply is extremely high, from all the players zipping around in the new content, and the AH fee on such high level items is significant. There is a profit margin there, to be sure, but not a big one, especially compared with how much money you can make by just adventuring in the Outland.


Rumpelstilt has been trapped by a bug again. Installing the expansion appears *not* to have cured his mystery problem in northern Azeroth. While flying from EPL to Loch Modan, he crashed to desktop. Ah well, I'll just have to log in from work and rescue him. At least that's a pretty rare flight path to be taking, so I shouldn't hit this problem often...


The good news: Rumpelstilt made it to Shattrath City, the major hub of the Outlands. Being a Mage, he even learned how to teleport directly there. The bad news: While flying from Shattrath to Tereldor, I hit the crash-to-desktop bug *again*. Must be time for bed...


The crash was persistent near Telredor. It started to bug me that, after all these crashes I had reported with their crash-reporting tool, that they hadn't figured out some sort of fix by now. And then it occurred to me, somewhat belatedly, what if they *have*? I poked around in the Start menu folder for WoW, and there was a "Repair" option. I tried it, it ran for about 15 minutes, downloaded a replacement for one (big) file, and the problem went away! Yay!

Did a lot of adventuring in the Zangarmarsh zone. There are actually some engaging story moments built in to the quests here. There's a big mystery involving the Naga draining the swamps of their water and I'm actually curious as to why. Almost all of the quests here tie into the ecology theme in one way or another.

More interesting AI stuff here, too. Creatures that buff you when they die, and creatures that cast a debuff which also has positive qualities. Slavers, whose minions will join in the fight against you -- but as soon as the slaver dies, the minions flee. Piranhas that attack in packs. They keep finding interesting ways of changing up the situations you have to deal with, while keeping the basic game mechanics intact.

Rumpelstilt has made it to Level 63. Belatedly picking up his Level 62 spells, he has a new fave: Molten Armor. This replaces the old Ice Armor in his repetoire. It's true that this reduces his Armor rating some, but his Armor was sucky even with that spell, so what the hell. Molten Armor does Fire damage to anyone that hits him -- and that fire damage seems to get all the damage and crit% bonuses that his other Fire spells do, so it hits pretty hard. The real kicker, though, is an extra 3% crit chance to Fire spells. Between that, and some equipment upgrades, he now has close to a 26% crit chance on Fire spells!

Rumpelstilt is sufficiently rich that he's decided to become an Engineer. Starting a new Crafting Profession from scratch can be expensive, but he can afford it. I spent a few hours shuttling him between the Trainer, the Auction House, and the Great Anvil, and I've got him past 250 skill already. He's specialized in Gnomish Engineering. Not sure I'll *use* it very much, but it's loads of fun to have things like Shrink Rays and Mind Control Helmets!


While it's nice that Blizzard finally decided to include a LookingForGroup tool, the actual implementation is a bust. It doesn't provide nearly enough options, so no one actually uses it. I gave it a whirl last night, leaving it on for about 90 minutes. I got precisely *one* nibble, and seconds after the group was auto-formed, the second person quit.

Other than that, I had a fun evening. I noticed that one of the Elite quests I wanted help on, dealing with some Collosal Crystal Giants, had had an exploit discovered. There was an Alliance village nearby, and people were kiting the Collosi over to the village to let the guards help kill them. Since the LFG tool wasn't working out, I decided to try that technique.

Worked fine the first two times. On the second run, I noticed that by the time the village guards got involved, the thing was almost dead. On take 3, I got attacked on the way back to the village by some Buzzards, and wound up losing aggro on the Colossus when I ran in a bit of a panic. Then it occurred to me -- why go to the village (via the dangerous buzzard patch) at all? Since I was doing so much damage to these guys, why not go straight down the main road (nearby, and with few to no wandering monsters on it) and try to finish them off solo?

I got ready by loading up Combustion and Mana Shield. Started off with Pyroblast, Fireball, Fire Blast. By that time, the Colossus had reached me, and could get in a hit or two, but the Mana Shield absorbed that. Turn around, cast Blink, and start running. Every few seconds, turn around and cast Fire Blast again (or, if I had a big enough lead, a Scorch followed by a Fire Blast), then run away some more. After about two repeats of this, the Collosus would be hot on my heels, but the cooldown on my Blink spell would have worn off, allowing me to pop ahead again. After a while, I drank a mana potion, more out of caution than need, just in case something went wrong. Rinse, repeat, and the Level 63 Elite goes down without me taking more than token damage along the way! So now I know -- given enough room to run, I can beat a single Elite of my own level, or maybe even tougher. That enchantment on my boots to let me run faster was a good investment :)

Before the evening's end, I dinged Level 64. I took a moment to go shopping in the Auction House for new gear. I ended up replacing the two pieces of the Magister's Set that I had been wearing for a few months. This cost me a fair amount of Armor and Stamina, but I was more than willing to trade for that for what I got. As a Fire Mage, I'm a glass cannon, and should be concentrating on improving my strengths rather than shoring up my weaknesses. My bonus spell damage is now over 300, and my critical hit chance is a whopping 27.5%!


I just read Tom Chick's back page column in the latest CGM. Splash.


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