WordPress Plugins for your World of Warcraft blog

WordPress Plugins for your World of Warcraft blog

If you’re running a WordPress installation of a World of Warcraft blog (which you should, since WordPress is a beast), you might be looking for different ways to customize it. The WordPress repository has thousands of plugins and it’ll take a long time to sort through and figure out what you would benefit from. With that in mind, I wanted to recommend my own list of plugins for any aspiring bloggers looking to make life easy for themselves.

Security Plugins

Take it from a blogger who has been hacked. Never skimp on security.

Akismet: Best anti-spam protection you can get for your blog. You might think to yourself that your blog will never get spam, but as your audience grows and your popularity increases, so will your spam.

Login Lockdown: This plugin limits the amount of failed logins from any range of IPs. If someone can’t login after say… 5 attempts, it automatically prevents any further attempts. You better make sure you get your login right the first time!

WP Bans: Tired of trolls? You can whip out bans based on IP, range, host name, user agent, and referring URLs.

SEO Plugins

All in One SEO Pack: Whenever you write a post, it’ll optimize your titles for search engines and create META tags automatically. You can use it right after it’s installed without having to configure anything. But, you do have the option to override certain aspects. People keep asking me how do I get people to find my blog? This is one solution.

WordPress SEO by Yoast: Another excellent SEO alternative.

Advertising Plugins

AdRotate: Should you feel the need to run advertisements on your blog to help support your expenses, I highly recommend using AdRotate. It’s extremely convenient and easy to use.

Mobile Plugins

WPtouch: Formats your site with a mobile theme for visitors using touch-based smartphones.

Mobilepress: If you really want to make sure your site works on all mobile platforms, look into Mobilepress.

Utility Plugins

Jetpack: Adds various additional features to your blog. If nothing else, get it for the After the Deadline aspect which checks your style, grammar and spelling before you hit the publish button and prevents it from going live until you’re happy with it.

Broken Link Checker: As you add more and more links to your blog (you are linking to other posts and blogs right?), you’ll notice that sooner or later, blogs will die out or their URLs change. This plugin helps you by constantly scanning your blog for broken links. I wish I had this earlier. I have over 2000 broken links throughout my entire site somewhere.

Livefyre Realtime Comments: Completely overrides your comment system and uses theirs instead. If anyone tweets about your post or mentions it on Facebook or something, those conversations will show up here. Even does it in real time. Tr

Smart YouTube Pro: Allows you to embed videos and galleries from YouTube, Vimeo, and others more conveniently.

W3 Total Cache: Big time performance increasing plugin. The more you write, the more readers you get. Eventually your blog’s going to slow down a little. There were days were my site was sluggish before I switched to W3 Total Cache.

WP Maintenance mode: Throws up an emergency splash page in the event your blog needs to get taken down temporarily. Very handy for any upgrades or theme changes.

WP Polls: If you ever need to poll the audience, you can use this to help.

WordPress Popular Posts: Your blog posts are often timeless. Sure you’ll be writing patch specific or instance specific content. But every once in a while, you’ll write content that’s relevant no matter what expansion it is. Don’t bury it. Have a sidebar widget rotate through previously popular posts.

WordPress Editorial Calendar: Great scheduling and planning plugin for any serious power blogger. Use it to track and schedule posts throughout the week.

Are you a WordPress user yourself? What plugins would you recommend for newer bloggers?

Pet Battles, Rapture, Symbiosis, and Monks

Pet Battles, Rapture, Symbiosis, and Monks

This week in The Herald.

  • An overview of pet battles
  • Why Rapture needs to retire
  • How to make Symbiosis better
  • Mistweaver Monk FAQ and Guide
Last weekend, I was over at Fan Expo Vancouver (think of it as Vancouver’s Comic Con). Not a bad event. I believe it was one of the first ones that was being organized and they were using it to test it out for future comic-ish cons. They hit capacity multiple times actually. Those who wanted to buy tickets the day of were denied shortly after lunch hour and the line was cut off. I heard both days saw around 12000+ people go in and out. Came home with this:

I miss that show.

Also, Kevin Sorbo is freakin’ tall. He was sitting next to Worf. I wonder who would win in a hand to hand fight. Hercules may be a demigod, but Worf is Klingon. Saw Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi and might I add she aged really well). I bumped fists with Tony Amendola (Master Bra’tac from Stargate).

Hope we get a bigger and better one next year with a larger gaming presence, as well.

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An overview of pet battles

This post has a video demonstration of several pet battles from start to finish along with a preview of the new pets pane interface.

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Why Rapture needs to retire

Derevka lays out his thoughts on Rapture for Discipline and why he believes that mechanic must go. In a word, I agree with his sentiments.

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How to make Symbiosis better

Jasyla offers her opinion about the related spells of Symbiosis and offers up some alternative solutions instead.

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Mistweaver Monk FAQ and Guide

EGTactics has an up-to-date guide on the basics of playing the Mistweaver Monk. It covers aspects like suggested talents, ability usage, and gear.

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Are Good Healers Born or Created? 

Personally, my belief is that good healers can be created. But great healers are “born”. You can teach the technical skills to a player but you can’t really instill the burning desire to keep everyone alive.

Poor Ji Firepaw

Poor Ji Firepaw

I’m aware of the controversy surrounding the guy. I don’t actually know if they made any additional changes to the dialog or anything, but this quest dialog cracked me up when I ran the 1-10 Panda area again for the second time.

He’s referring to Aysa Cloudsinger, a female Panda who practices a separate Pandaren discipline. You can see her in the above shot meditating on a pole.

poor-firepaw

I know full well the problems ailing this poor Panda.

I mean seriously! How does one Panda tell another Panda that they got a fine tail without be construed as a creeper, right?! What’s a Panda to do?! I wouldn’t even know how to pick up a Panda. But his concerns do seem to be valid. Mention her looks, and Aysa thinks Ji’s an instant creeper. Mention her forms and stature, and she’ll go “oooookay.”

It’s okay Ji. I got some ideas for you.

  • “I like the way your fur glistens in the sunlight.”
  • “Your tail is well groomed.”
  • “You smell beertacular.”
  • “How about you and I get together privately and… meditate?”
  • “I’ll show you my martial arts techniques if you show me yours.”

Heh, I don’t know. I wish I knew the answer to this question! Can anyone help a Panda out?

Priest talent: Mindbender

Priest talent: Mindbender

Really quick, my earlier post about Atonement is no longer accurate. Atonement is now a baseline, Discipline ability. It’s no longer a glyph and Holy has no access to it anymore. Edit: Discipline has access to Atonement at level 60.

Mindbender
40 yd range
4 min cooldown

Creates a Mindbender to attack the target.  Caster receives 6% mana when the Mindbender attacks. Damage taken by area of effect attacks is reduced. Lasts 15 sec.

It’s literally a flying squid. And it sucks the mana out of opponents. Not sure if this is a placeholder model or not, but I rather like it.  Now that the level 45 talents are seemingly finished, which one of the three talents would you choose?

I’m not actually sure which one of these I would take. My default choice will most likely be From Darkness, Comes Light. I really like having those free, instant Flash Heals. Not exactly the most reliable and there’s an heavier emphasis on procs. Can’t ignore the benefits of Mindbender though. A 4 minute cooldown means it can be used twice on most raid encounters.

New Priest talents, Glyph of Dark Binding, and Tier 14 healing bonuses

New Priest talents, Glyph of Dark Binding, and Tier 14 healing bonuses

Mindbender is the third level 45 talent. It was a giant question mark before, but it looks like it’s another pseudo-Shadowfiend. On a 4 minute cooldown, the Priest creates a Mindbender to attack the target and the Priest receives 6% mana back when Mindbender attacks. It’s only up for 15 seconds.

Glyph of Dark Binding: You can now cast Binding Heal, Flash Heal, and Renew without cancelling Shadowform. Nice! I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a super, OP utility glyph. I wouldn’t call it a requirement or anything yet. But if it were up to me, I’d ensure every Shadow Priest in my guild had it on progression as a just in case measure.

Glyph of Penance: Increases the mana cost of Penance by 20% but allows Penance to be cast while moving. I can accept this tradeoff.

Glyph of Fade: Your Fade ability now also reduces all damage taken by 10%. Fade just became much more attractive.

Spectral Guise does not appear to be our level 87 spell (Watch it in action here). You can now find it as a level 60 talent (Check WoWhead’s talent calculator). Wonder what replaced it. Edit: According to Derevka, Void Shift is now learned at level 87.

Divine Insight has changed. It’s no longer just an improved Serendipity.

Original

Divine Insight
Serendipity
When you heal with Binding Heal or Flash Heal, the cast time of your next Greater Heal or Prayer of Healing spell is reduced by 20% and mana cost reduced by 10%. Stacks up to 2 times. Lasts 20 sec.

Shadow of Death
When your Mind Blast deals damage, there is a 40% chance your next Shadow Word: Death will treat the target as if it were below 20% health.

New

Divine Insight
Discipline:
When you cast Spirit Shell, there is a 40% chance your next Power Word: Shield will both ignore and not cause the Weakened Soul effect.

Holy:
When you cast Greater Heal, there is a 40% chance your next Prayer of Mending will not trigger its cooldown, and will jump to each target instantly

Shadow:
When your Mind Blast deals damage, there is a 40% chance your next Shadow Word: Death will treat the target as if it were below 20% health.

Can’t wait for beta servers to come back online. I want to check out Mindbender. I’m sure it’ll be mind blowing.

Have to admit, I’m a little sad panda at the loss of Serendipity. Maybe they made it a base line or something but I haven’t seen anything that indicates that yet.

Tier 14 bonuses

Priest

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Flash Heal by 10%
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Penance by 4 seconds and reduces the cooldown of Circle of Healing by 4 seconds.

Shaman

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Greater Healing wave by 10%
  • 4 piece: Your Tidal Waves ability now grants 1 additional charge each time it is triggered.

Paladin

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of your Holy Radiance spell by 10% (Overpowered).
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Holy Shock by 1 second.

Druid

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Rejuvenation by 10%
  • 4 piece: Reduces the cooldown of Swiftmend by 3 seconds.

Monk

  • 2 piece: Reduces the mana cost of Surging Mist by 10%
  • 4 piece: Your Chi Wave spell will now heal 1 additional target
Atonement Priests in Mists

Atonement Priests in Mists

Edit: As of build 15640, Atonement is no longer a glyph or a talent. It appears to be a baseline ability built into Discipline and will not be accessible to Holy. Discipline Priests will learn it at level 60.

Plan on going Atonement? The process has changed.

For starters, Atonement isn’t something you talent into anymore. Instead, all the relevant abilities are located in your glyphs (See the above screenshot).

Atonement presently takes up a Major glyph slot. For it to continue being a strong style of healing for Priests, you’ll need to grab Glyph of Smite. You could grab Glyph of Holy Fire but it doesn’t seem to be as important. In order to be an Atonement priest, you must have the Atonement glyph and the Smite glyph. The Holy Fire glyph makes the spell instant but might not be a necessity depending on the encounters.

Not quite sure how I feel about moving Atonement from talents to glyphs. I understand what the move was made: So that Priests could really pick out their talents without feeling they had to force themselves down one route. At the same time though, limiting it to a glyph means that Atonement Priests don’t have as much flexibility either when it comes to glyph selection. I’d wager that you’d still have to grab Archangel in order to remain competitive.

The bright side is that you can go Atonement as Holy.  Chakra: Chastise increases the potency even further.

That third glyph slot?

You could go with the Glyph of Circle of Healing or Glyph of Penance as your two spec stapes.

There hasn’t been much change to the style of healing. If you’re comfortable playing Atonement right now, you should have no difficulties heading into the expansion. At least you can set up a specific glyph page just for Atonement.

Leveling as Smite spec? Still good to go (I’ve been doing it from 85 – 87).

Will you be giving Atonement a shot in Mists?

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

More Like This: Vodka vs Method Speedrun

Forget arenas.

Forget rated BGs.

Give me competitive PvE raiding!

Vodka and Method, 2 of the world’s best guilds, going heads up in the Dragon Soul challenge hosted by Athene for charity. Last time we saw something like this was back during BlizzCon 2011 when Vodka and Blood Legion went at it live with some of their members on a stage in front of thousands of people.  When I watched those two guilds go at it during BlizzCon, the announcers and the overall event was really exciting to watch. Blizzard had some cool camera tools at their disposal and the plays were called by Ghostcrawler and Daelo. Blood Legion took that one after Vodka succumbed to heroic Ragnaros at the end.

If one wanted to devise story lines, there are a few things. The question on everyone’s minds is can Vodka avenge their loss and come back in the latest raid tier? A more subtle angle is the battle between regions: One of North America’s finest guilds vs Europe’s best. No faction questions here since both raid teams are Alliance (although I did find it interesting that Method was planning the switch to Horde).

Vodka

Between Method and Vodka, my money was on Vodka for winning out this one. They have the experience in an environment like this coming out of BlizzCon when they took on Blood Legion. Their strategies for time trials involve a high risk/high reward approach. They deliberately underheal (bring in less healers) in favour of additional DPS. In long run, this strategy pays off with faster kills as long as their raid doesn’t get overwhelmed.

Method

I honestly had no idea what to expect from Method. They’re one of the top guilds in Europe, but without much of an idea of their raid comps or seeing how they plan, I’m not sure what impressions to had. I figured they’d had their own set system and would stick to playing their style of raiding that’s gotten them this far. Nothing super complicated or anything.

Thoughts

Spoilers below. But if you don’t care, go ahead and read on:

  • Nice approach on Mor’chuk with the tanking positions. Most guilds usually tackle the two bosses side by side but with the advent of the timer, both guilds changed the position so that one boss was at the top of the ramp and the other was on the bottom.
  • The wipe on Zon’ozz slowed Vodka down significantly. I cringed but they’ll go on to recover quite well.
  • Both guilds kicking the lore aspects of the instance since it slows them both down (Vodka, especially).
  • Madness of Deathwing: Ouch to Vodka for losing a healer in a weird fashion with the platform jumps. That darn bug.
  • Athene and Kina: Would have loved more commentary throughout the stream on more aspects of the raid encounters as well as additional insight in what’s going on in the different mentalities of the guild as they go from boss to boss.

PvE power rankings

Guild Region Record
Blood Legion NA 1-0*
Method EU 1-0
Vodka NA 0-2

* I ranked Blood Legion as higher on the tie break since they defeated Vodka at BlizzCon live in front of thousands of screaming people.

Here we have the first ever PvE power rankings.

I personally believe that Vodka’s the better guild in the last engagement. The calculated risks they have taken have a potentially higher payoff and there were times where they came really close to clutching out and winning. But all those tiny mistakes and the assorted wipe does add up thwarting Vodka from getting their first win.

Another way to spice it up is adding an Iron man challenge of sorts. Finishing out an instance with the least amount of overall deaths. Wouldn’t just be enough to race the other team, but have to add that extra element of perfection.

To add a little diversity to future events, I wonder how feasible it is to revive some of the “older” raids. On a special server, adjust and inflate the stats of the older raid bosses so that they can remain challenging for the maximum player level.

The concept of a PvE raiding league has some merit. If it were up to me to start it, I’d set up an invitational 16 guild league (8 NA and 8 EU). it would take place over 8 weeks and then lead to playoffs. Each week would have it’s own instance/bosses of the week. Maybe week 1 would be tier 11. Week 2 would then be Firelands. Week 3 would be back to Black Temple. Week 4 could be Ulduar. Great way to recycle the older instances if it their stats could be made. Or the alternative is to lower the stats of the raiders so that they’re at level with the content.

But overall, I’m really impressed. Props to Athene, Kina, Vodka, Method and everyone else involved for an excellent event.

Priest 87 Ability: Spectral Guise

Priest 87 Ability: Spectral Guise

Spectral Guise is the current spell all Priests gain at level 87. as a talent at level 60.

Spectral Guise
30 sec cooldown

Your shadow blurs into the darkness, leaving your true form behind. As a shadow you are invisible, but remain in combat. Lasts 6 sec or until your true form is hit by 3 direct attacks.0

It seems much more suited towards PvP action than anything else. I can see it coming in handy for PvE stuff while you’re questing or if you’re one of the few people left alive in engagement.

What would help improve this illusion is if my clone taunted or if it casted a placebo spell dependant on my spec (Flash Healfor 0 or Mind Flay for 0).

Here’s a direct link to check out the video.

What do you think of Spectral Guise? Something you’d use?

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Answering 8 Questions of a Guild Acquisition

Like many of our fellow 25 man raiding guild friends, we experienced our share of recruiting problems. Players had been losing interest in Warcraft. Every raid night was a dice-roll to see which line ups could be fielded. Some days we were able to raid short-handed with 23 or less.

It’s really easy to sit back and say “Just recruit”. I commend those who have the weight to attract candidates. The reality for the rest of us is that it’s a little different. If you divided the 10 million-ish players among their different criteria, you’d end up with categories based on stuff like:

  • Time zone (Region)
  • Focus (Competitive, hardcore, casual)
  • Progression
  • Loot system (DKP, loot council)
  • Activities (PvP, PvE)

One of the officers in guild proposed wholesale acquisition of a guild instead of a merger.

For the sake of definition:

Guild merger – Complete integration of two guilds with agreed upon distribution of players (roles), leadership, and loot. Possibly includes name changes and site changes. Resources tend to be combined together.

Guild acquisition – One guild completely absorbs and assimilates a guild. Generally, no leadership spots are given. Bank items can be distributed as they see fit. Sometimes, there is no pooling of resources. There’s minimal (if any) changes to the absorbing guild’s identity or website.

Several months ago, we ran into a guild that was looking to be acquired. Seems that their officer corps was in a mess.

More importantly, they couldn’t find anyone with the time, dedications, or skills to lead the group. Ultimately, they decided they still wanted to play together as much as possible and went shopping for a guild that was willing to consider taking them in.

What were the qualities?

From our perspective, when looking for guilds to pick up, we’re looking for a number of key aspects:

  • Skilled players that can suit our immediate needs. No point picking up 2 surplus tanks and extra rogues if the present raid already has 4. If we’re looking for healers and ranged DPS and that group had those players, we’d talk business.
  • Similar progression. We wanted to avoid  having to re-teach certain encounters. We also wanted to minimize gear gaps.
  • Similar raid ethic and mindset. This is just for general raiding compatibility. Players that have the same attitude towards raiding are generally more cooperative with each other and are willing to set personal feelings aside in favour of getting the job done.
  • Compatible personalities. Similar to the above point. Minimizes any personnel disagreements or verbal fights/arguments.
  • Indifferent to leadership positions. Non-negotiable. Leadership structure already in place. It’s okay to have leadership aspirations like being an officer, but that can come later after getting a few raids under the belt.
  • Raid times and hours. Also non-negotiable. No point in picking up players who can’t raid because they have to go to sleep early or because they can’t get home from work early enough.

We decided to jump on their Ventrilo servers. It was extremely important that we figure out what the intentions and philosophies of each other were. We found that there were a surprising number of questions. Here’s the questions we received and how we answered them:

  • What happens to the social players?
    We’ll accept all of them. They can participate in whatever activities they like but if they’re looking for spots on the raid or rated BG teams, they’ll need to apply.
  • How is loot handled? Will our status prevent us from rolling?
    We use loot council. Initiates are allowed to express their interest in an item. You won’t be prevented from rolling on an item that is an upgrade for you.
  • What kind of raiding opportunities can we expect?
    There’s a spot for you and your players on our progression team. If your contributions are solid, we’ll make sure you see action.
  • What other activities are there?
    We have a Minecraft server that some of the players like to mess around with. We have a growing group of competitive Starcraft 2 players. League of Legends games usually occurs nightly with as much as 2 or 3 5 man teams firing off at once.
  • What happens if things don’t work out?
    If things aren’t compatible, Ner’zhul has a balanced and decent sized population. There are other raiding guilds on the server you could consider working with that might be willing to give you and your team a shot.
  • What roles are looking to be filled?
    [At the time] Ranged DPS and healers.

They weren’t the only ones with questions. We owed it to ourselves for due diligence. No one likes to waste anyone’s time. Here’s the questions that we asked them:

  • Why do you want to merge with us?
    No one really wants the job of being a GM or raid leading. We just want to play the game and raid.
  • Is it an absolute requirement for all of you to raid together?
    It’s preferred but we understand that there isn’t going to be roster slots open the whole time. We’re okay with being in the same guild at the very least.

I can’t say for sure the viability of a 10 man guild absorbing or merging with a 10 man guild. But a 25 man raiding guild taking in a 10 man guild appears to be easier to handle and coordinate since much of the infrastructure and power base already exists. Whereas two 10 mans trying to join forces might need additional time to work out leadership structures, guidelines, and other administrative details.

Have you ever been a part of a guild merger before? How did that end up for you? If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

The Substitute Raid Leader

The Substitute Raid Leader

Remember the days in school where your favourite teacher was away?

Maybe she was sick or needed a personal day.

Then the sub would roll in with a giant, CRT television that was Velcro strapped to a cart and you thought to yourself, “YES! It’s going to be one of those days!”

Getting a substitute teacher is like a day off. Subs were mainly there to supervise and hand out homework. Sometimes they weren’t able to teach the lesson plans your main teacher already had in place.

Once in a while, you dice rolled into a teacher who unexpectedly knew their stuff (I once had a Caucasian teacher who spoke fluent mandarin and taught the class pretty well. Not bad).

In your raid, what happens when your raid leader’s out cold? Maybe he stayed up too late watching Starcraft 2 tournaments while excessively drinking.*

* That has never happened. It’s completely hypothetical.

Chances are you have several fall back plans at your disposal:

  • Cancel raid – Worse case scenario. Wasted raid night. Players get to relax and have a night off.
  • Delay – Not a bad option. Instead of tossing the whole night, you end up tossing 30 minutes or an hour. Dismiss your players and have them regroup at a specified time. This allows them to engage in other activities.
  • Run a different raid – Could go knock out a specific raid achievement that doesn’t require a full roster or tackle another boss that has a specific drop that are still improvements for certain players.
  • Down size – Only applicable to 25 man raid groups. Viable option if a progression boss is later on in the instance. You can speed up the process by sending in a small team to knock out some of the earlier bosses that aren’t needed. Downside is that this isn’t applicable to hard mode raiding because you’ll end up being saved to that specific lockout (and it applies to raid size).
  • Run with someone else quarterbacking – Every raid leader needs a number 2. This is their chance to prove they can function as a number 1.

In most cases, the last option is the most viable. A 25 man guild is likelier to have other players capable of stepping in to lead compared to a 10 man

The problem.

Like the substitute teacher, the substitute raid leader suffers from 1 problem:

No one takes them seriously

The newly promoted raid leader is usually one of the boys who’s a raider or an officer not normally known to raid lead.

Guys!

There’s still a raid going on! There’s still internet dragons that need to be killed!

Just because there’s an absence doesn’t give you the license to mess around card. He might have a different style of running the show but you as a raid team need to give him that support! They may not have the months or years of experience that your primary raid leader has but give them a shot! It’s upsetting to see that when the cat’s away the mice will play. Most of you don’t raid 7 days a week and you have nights off where you can relax and do other stuff anyway. Of the nights where you do raid, your raid leader (whoever it happens to be) needs your undivided attention and focus.

Don’t just dismiss them.

Give them a chance to show what they can do.

Dragons don’t just spontaneously lie down. They still need you and your raid to work together.