Game Time for Gold? Yes Please!

Have you seen the news about game time for gold? It broke earlier today in a forum post from Bash. Aside from the standard looking ahead to patch 6.1 content stuff like flight master paths, garrison stuff, and that Pepe (which is a separate blog post altogether because frankly, I just don’t understand the appeal), they dropped this bomb:

We’re exploring the possibility of giving players a way to buy tradable game-time tokens for the purpose of exchanging them in-game with other players for gold. Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system. A few other online games offer a similar option, and players have suggested that they’d be interested in seeing something along those lines in WoW. We agree it could be a good fit for the game, and we look forward to any feedback you have as we continue to look into this feature.

You’ll recall that this was one of the main hyped features for Wildstar around the use of CREDD. EVE uses a similar currency called PLEX.

I’m in favor of it. I think it’s a great idea. It gives players like me with limited time (or limited energy) another way to pick up gold. And it gives players who don’t has much access to funds another avenue to keep their game time going.

But isn’t this kind of thing going to mess with the server economy? I want to say this is a method that will certainly put a dent into the illicit gold selling community. What’s going to do a better job than Blizzard legalizing that itself? I just don’t want to see this feature backfire upon itself the way they introduced real money trading into Diablo. I’d go out and suggest that this would ruin the game, but the examples with PLEX and CREDD have me wondering. It’d for sure upset the balance and prices of BOEs now. I could buy a BoE trinket for $20 and not bat an eye but 45000 gold would make me pause.

Are you a fan of the currency trading idea? It’s not set in stone yet but they did say they were exploring the possibility.

Now the question remains, what would you call this new currency? Needs to be short and catchy.

Talents and Glyphs for Your Level 100 Disc Priest

Talents and Glyphs for Your Level 100 Disc Priest

When I levelled to 100 and started queueing into heroics, my mana regen was absolutely abysmal. I actually opted to pick up Words of Mending because of the extra passive Prayer of Mending that it would fire out. Heroics at 610 ilevel with non-existent Spirit with similarly geared tanks and DPS is truly a challenge.
No one has health pools high enough to soak that kind of periodic and unnecessary damage.
The damage out from the group is competing against my ability to keep the group alive long enough resulting in strategically healing the tank and the highest DPS.
My mana regeneration isn’t enough to keep everyone topped off which results in a different mindset of making sure players are above an arbitrary threshold (like 30% across the board).
Don’t mistake my observations as complaints as most of us veterans have been here before from the start of Burning Crusade, through the heroics of Wrath, the mana and healing crunch during early Cataclysm, and the slightly more relaxed Mists of Pandaria. I’ve done the dance before. I’m still trying to get over the fact that spirit’s only available on a few items. I mean, I get it. I know why. But it’s the first expansion where I’m not scrambling for as many spirit items as possible and where I’m legitimately competing against Warlocks and Mages for that cloth gear.

Normal mode dungeons and early heroics (ilvl 600 – 615)

Now, let’s talk about talents for a second. I mentioned Words of Mending because the outgoing Prayer of Mending was free. I love free (even though it’s like buying McDonalds coffee, with every 7th coffee granting you a free one after). It means my mana can be saved for other crucial spells like a well timed Power Word: Shield. At this stage of the gearing process, you probably don’t have any trinkets but you’re slowly working on your way to obtaining that legendary ring from Khadgar. Maybe you have it, maybe you don’t. You might still be using an heirloom weapon or something. The name of the game here is efficiency and low costs (or free costs). Like it or not, you’re going to be dying for mana if you intend to solo queue into heroics. The pool of players will range from skilled players who won’t take any damage to players who are attracted into standing in every fire or void zone or ignoring mechanics.
Recommended talents and glyphs
Surge of Light tends to proc after one or two taps of Holy Nova. Great if you need to bank a few instant heals in reserve for upcoming damage. Your Psychic Scream talent and glyph offers you an out in case CC breaks early or if you attract company. Power Infusion provides much needed mana relief during high pressure phases. Your Power Word: Shield will both absorb and heal with one action.

Heroic mode and Challenge Mode (ilvl 615 – 630+)

Now you’re in a slightly better position. Your spells and heals are hitting for a little more. People aren’t dying as much. You can afford to be a little inefficient here and there if you need to in order to save players. Your trinkets and neck have spirit on them now. You’ve said goodbye to Hellscream’s BoAs. You’re ready for the next step and want to gear yourself up for raids that’ll be opening in December. You want to be an asset to your guild and indispensable to your raid.
Recommended talents and glyphs
Psychic Scream stays. It’s a clutch spell that can make or break your Challenge Mode attempts. Surge of Light continues to be useful but Mindbender is another choice if you want that slight extra damage (very slight). You don’t need the Power Infusion as much since it only kicks in once every two minutes. Instead, pick up Spirit Shell because you’ll guaranteed to use it twice throughout most boss fights to help the group absorb incoming bombs or damage pulses or anything that could potentially flatten your group.
Clarity of Will becomes the winner here for the level 100 talent. You can pre-shield your tank a few times with it before they engage the boss and it gives you something to do if everyone is at full health. I managed to coat the tank with a potent 163k shield before a pull. I’m sure some of you can do much higher. Try to load up on as much mastery to help increase the power of Clarity of Will and your other absorb effects.

Raiding (ilvl 630+)

Welcome to raid finder (or normal mode or heroic mode or mythic mode, whatever your fancy). You’re now working with a team of healers and you’re in a position where you can bust out your Disc specialties and shine.
Recommended talents and glyphs
Level 30: Body and Soul
Level 45: Power Word: Solace
Level 60: Void Tendrils
Level 75: Spirit Shell
Level 90: Divine Star or Halo (encounter dependant)
Level 100: Clarity of Will
You’re going to be building up and banking Holy Fire stacks for Archangel anyway. May as well convert that into Power Word: Solace and use ‘em as you go. Your level 60 talents for crowd control aren’t going to be relevant as much so it’s a preference. Level 90 talents will center around the raid encounters. Returning priests may be shocked (and partially annoyed) to find that Halo and Cascade now have a slight cast time. Clarity of Will continues to be my pick for the 100 talent because you can pair up with another healer who can supply heals to the tank while you drop large absorb shields simultaneously.
I consider Penance to be mandatory but Fade and Purification is up to you. Some of the upcoming encounters will involve plenty of dispelling so I like having the Purification glyph. Fade adds a slight damage reduction. It might not seem like much but it’s something especially at the start of a tier.
Anyway, don’t take my word as gospel. Start of with whichever talents and glyphs you like and feel free to try out new builds as you adventure throughout Draenor. If you’ve been having success with a different build, post it! I’d be happy to hear and try it out myself. I have not had an opportunity to give Saving Grace a try. Any of you budding Priests out there use it in current dungeons?
Checklist of Things to do at Level 100 for Raiders

Checklist of Things to do at Level 100 for Raiders

I could not stop myself. After levelling up my main Priest to 100, I had to level another one to provide additional resources and support. Ended up reaching level 100 on my Paladin on Saturday so I could tank on our alt raids on the weekends. Plus I’ll be maxing out it’s support buildings like the herb garden and the excavation mine.

Apexis Shard Farming

Once you reach level 100, your garrison will offer two sets of dailies for Apexis crystals. These things are currency for gear. Plus you can use them to upgrade the same items that you’ve purchased for later. Right now, it seems like the 630 level blues are available and the raid level ones will be available later on when the actual raids open. Try to knock out the the ones that give 1000 Apexis crystals. I’ve noticed there was a display bug. For example, today’s daily offered the Ring of Blood set of dailies and that one said it would reward 800 crystals but upon turning them in, it awarded 1000.

apexis

Legendary Ring Questline

Khadgar provides this quest at level 98 but you can realistically start it at level 100. His pet an be found at your garrison and will direct you to see his tower out in Talador. The quest is called Call of the Archmage. WoWHead has a great guide on it here to help you get started.

Treasure and Rare farming for garrison resources

I’m addicted to garrison development. After playing years of Heroes of Might and Magic (with the third one being my favourite), I just have a love for base building type games and controlling armies. Treasures are the most lucrative for garrison resources although many rare mobs will drop them as well. When you take them down once, they become ordinary mobs after that and won’t drop any more additional resources. The treasures that are the biggest pain in the rear are the ones in Nagrand as they often involve using those Goblin gliders to get to really hard to reach places.

Heroic dungeon farming

You need to have a 610 ilevel minimum to queue into them. Not only that, you also need to have finished out your Silver level Proving Grounds. However, it’s still possible to stroll into the instance portal and get in that way if you’re running with your guild or with your friends.

Challenge mode dailies

If you complete the challenge mode daily, they offer a random item that’s 640 ilevel which is the level of gear from normal mode raids. For me, today’s was Shadowmoon Burial Grounds which took us a solid 2 hours and 30 minutes. I’ll have a writeup on that later on in the week but boy was it rough. As people get a little more geared up and more familiar, those times should lessen significantly. Not to mention, we walked in there without really knowing much about what to do and there were plenty of trial and errors.

Ashran and PvP

During the opening few days of the expansion, there was virtually no Horde in Ashran. A few of us managed to queue into it repeatedly and take advantage of the situation by farming up as much honor as possible unchallenged. I used the extra honor to buy some 620 pieces to help put myself into position to queue into heroics.

ashran-pvp

Garrison Followers

Now this is the fun part. Everyone loves having more followers! Don’t forget that if you want to upgrade your followers to epic quality, the experience they earn after hitting level 100 goes towards that. So you can turn superior followers into epic followers just by repeatedly sending them out on missions. Here’s a few easy ones you can pick up:

  • Image of Archmage Vargoth: Requires a bit of a trek to Frostfire Ridge
  • Defender Illona: Really easy to snag as well. Complete the single quest in Talador (and yes, Horde players have their equivilent).
  • Pleasure-Bot 8000: Tailors will want this robot.
  • Abu’ghar: Look for 3 items around Nagrand (His fishing lure, his line, and his pole) then look for him within Stonecrag Gorge in the southern most pool of water.
  • Leo’rajh: Just have to find him and free him within Spires of Arak.

Check out this link on WoWhead for a full list of followers that can be earned via quests!

 

Alliance First Level 100!

Alliance First Level 100!

Elapsed time, 10 hours and 5 minutes. The servers opened up at 11:45 PM Pacific a few minutes early. Turned in all my dailies and started my pre-planned route on the way to level 100. At around 9:50 AM the next day (Thursday morning), I turned in my final quest and hit level 100. All in all, my run took me around 10 hours and 5 minutes. My personal best on beta was 9 hours and 33 minutes but you factor in the periodic disconnects and you can see it adds up. Being on a PvP server and being ahead of the curve means almost no one tries to gank you. All the higher level players know and we have a gentleman’s agreement that if you go after an opposing player, it actually slows everyone down for levelling so we don’t tend to go against each other. After that, I tried to stay up for a few hours longer by running a dungeon and completing my Apexis Crystal dailies. Holy heck, it feels as if my body just started weaving in and out of consciousness. There were times I snapped back to reality while healing and noticed my group was a little further ahead in the dungeon. Took a herculean amount of effort just to try to stay focused. After that, I queued up more work orders and garrison missions and went to bed for a few hours.

I was up for about 30 consecutive hours. I’m naturally an early riser so I was awake at 6 AM on the Wednesday. That’s when I did my shopping and cleared out as many other errands as I could. Met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while for dinner and just made an effort to try to relax myself before the game launched. Later that night, I tried taking a nap but I was at that weird sleeping state where you’re partially asleep but still slightly awake and aware of everything. At about 10 PM, I gave up.

Why didn’t you take your time to level to 100 and enjoy the sights and scenes?

I did that during the beta. The final builds of the game were at a point where I could just quest at my own leisurely place and really immerse myself in the lore. I knew when game day rolled around though, it would be a mad rush to 100 and I didn’t want to get myself caught with the flood of players. You just have to beat the curve.

How’d you do it?

Many players out there relied on energy drinks or caffeine to get them through it. I bought myself a fruit platter and had two jugs of water beside me plus a few snacks to munch on. Things got a little dicey around 6:30 AM because I was starting to get hungry and I was running out of hard food to eat. I knew that I would receive breadcrumb quests that sent me over to the next zones so I timed my bathroom breaks with that. During RP sessions in game, I’d pull nearby random mobs for bits of extra experience or start disenchanting items to keep my bag space clear. Most of my experience came with practice on beta servers where I had my routes all figured out.

Why not server first?

When I was the only level 94 in Gorgrond, I ran into a Horde level 95 Shadow Priest. I remember early on in the day a few rollbacks were issued out to players on EU servers for abusing and exploiting the turtle quest turn in on Timeless Isle. Or maybe I was beat out with a player who had a Darkmoon Faire buff. I’m not sure, but I certainly gave in my best effort and loaded up with experience potions on the way up. I’ll certainly settle for Alliance first though.

I am so excited for this expansion. No real dailies to do, for one! No quests to grind out or anything. Lots more exploration! More world PvP action (one of the benefits of being 100 is I get to dish out payback on players who annoyed me over the years).

Post BlizzCon Highlights and Warlords Levelling Tips

Back from BlizzCon! What a crazy weekend. Biggest weekend ever with the announcement of Overwatch and several new game features coming to Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone. Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft were silent this year for obvious reasons since Reaper of Souls had already debuted and we have the Warlords expansion launch tonight at midnight.

BlizzCon Highlights

I held it! The strategy guide that I mentioned I was working on the other day? Brady Games had a booth set up and they happened to have a few copies to give away during a random draw. I went up to them and asked if I could take a picture with it in front of their giant sign and pointed out that I was one of the contributors. At 400 pages, it’s fairly hefty but I think it’s roughly the same size and length of previous strategy guides. Just remember, expect this information to be out of date within a few months due to patches and such.

Overwatch was insanely fun! My original gaming background started with shooters, actually. I’ve since strayed from that genre but it’s great to see Blizzard try their hand it especially since Starcraft Ghost was cancelled ages ago. I wrote up my initial impressions on a few of the heroes I played like Tracer, Pharah, and Widowmaker on BlizzPro. Give it a read!

The rest of my guild was being anti-social for most of BlizzCon but we did manage to meet up a few times for a few drinks here and there. While I was out on the Hilton lobby most days catching up with other internet friends, they were upstairs playing Cards Against Humanity and WoW Trivial Pursuit.

Actually, some of those questions were pretty tough. Can you list all the factions associated with the PvP battlegrounds? I had to think real hard about that one.

At the airport, I was at my terminal waiting to board. I went up to the ticket agent to see if they had a pin or a paper clip I could use to swap out my SIM card. She eyed my poster tube and asked if I attended BlizzCon this year and I said yeah! I go every year! She was so envious because every year she wants to go but she can’t make it out because her airline always schedules her to work BlizzCon weekend. She jokingly offered to trade me a pin for one of my posters in my poster tube. Of course I said yes! I managed to get a few extra copies of the mini Overwatch posters to give away to a few of my friends back home here and offered her one.

She didn’t feel that was a fair trade so she offered me a seat upgrade as well! Damn! Look at that! Just goes to show that you never know who plays games out there. We ended up chatting a little more about World of Warcraft and some of the new features coming before I started boarding. Go figure!

Warlords Levelling Tips

  • Stock up on drinks like water. If you need the extra caffeine, go for tea. If you absolutely must burn energy drinks, go for the 5 hour energy.
  • Try to time your bathroom breaks at every even level. LEvels 92, 94, 96, and 98 feature breadcrumbs that involve you going on a gryphon.
  • Starting to feel a little weary? Splash some cold water on your face or dunk your head under the shower briefly to wake yourself up.
  • Switch your talents and glyphs and load up for instant casts or lowered cooldowns.
  • Check your binds if you’re just returning to the game now.
  • Load up on whatever consumables you need like your potions, flasks, food, and guild banners.

Anyway, good luck out there! See you at 100!

Announcing the Warlords of Draenor Strategy Guide

Before I get to BlizzCon, I wanted to make a quick note of a special project that I and a few of my friends and colleagues around the community have been working on. A few months ago, I was approached to help work on the Priest section of the Warlords of Draenor Strategy Guide from Brady Games.

Anne Stickney (@Shadesogrey) put together an all-star team to help get you started in Warlords of Draenor when it goes live next week.

I borrowed the full list from Alaron himself, Druid extraordinaire. He’s also giving away a complimentary copy of the guide.

Death Knight: Magdalena (@MagdalenaDK), of the self-titled Death Knight blog Magdalena’s Musings.
Druid: Master Archdruid Alaron of the Fluid Druid.
Hunter: Eyes of the Beast’s Bendak (@BendakWoW), who blogs at and keeps trying to tame me, despite repeated growls.
Mage: Manalicious’s Vidyala (@_Vidyala). Also the artist behind the webcomic From Draenor with Love.
Monk: Video Cast Monk Meditation‘s Chaithi (@WoWMonk).
Paladin: Righteous Defense‘s Rhidach (@Rhidach).
Priest: Just me.
Rogue: Ravenholdt.net‘s Rfeann (@Sveltekumquat). Also check out his blog: Red-Hatted Rogue.
Warlock: Poneria (@_poneria) of Fel Concentration.
Shaman: Totemspot‘s Binkenstein (@Binkenstein). Quite possibly one of the smartest folks in the game. Or at least, the most spreadsheet-est.
Warrior: Matt Rossi. Together, we made up WoW Insider‘s team Matt. (@MatthewWRossi)
Editor: Finally, Anne Stickney (@Shadesogrey). No words can describe the hard work and effort that she invested. Truly an inspiration.

It just occurred to me that I can now say I literally wrote the book on Priests. Anyway, I suspect it’ll be fully outdated by the next patch!

Anyway, more on pre-BlizzCon thoughts when I get back. People are already lining up to obtain their tickets and passes.

Raiding Epiphany

Raiding Epiphany

You know that time when you’re working on a new boss and it just seems like you keep hitting that same block over and over? For us, it was Blackfuse. We’ve been working on the guy for the past month now. We kept bringing him down to about 65% but we’d keep consistently buckling during that first magnet phase. It was a combination of fires, mines, overload, or something else that was seemingly unavoidable.

Then all of a sudden, the clouds part.

Sunlight shines right through.

The players are struck with a wave of epiphany.

Our attempts improve dramatically. We made it past the the first magnet phase, then the second magnet phase, and now we’re breaching below 50% more often than not.

It’s like being able to breathe again after having clogged sinuses for so long.

That’s kind of where we’re at now. I call it cautious optimism, but if this level of improvement continues, then we’ll be on track.

Retooling and rebuilding

Not long after the proposed schedule went out, I had a few members express their inability to commit to that schedule. As a result of that, I did end up losing some fine players and friends.

It’s a little funny how things work out though. I was approached by a previous raider who’d been out of the game for a while and with a different group. Turns out the players in there were looking to move on up and get into some of the more top tier content in the game. Instead of trying to transition from a 10 man to a 25 man guild, they were toying with the idea of flat out signing on with a 25 man guild.

The beauty of the current state of raiding is that players can easily cross-realm on any difficulty. For the past month, we’ve been raiding with many of these players and they didn’t have to change servers at all yet. A few of them made the leap earlier on because they liked what they were seeing. Some others are still holding off for now, but it seems an amicable solution for everyone.

Conquest veterans can be rested a little more on the earlier encounters to conserve energy and mental fortitude for some of the more challenging bosses like Thok and Blackfuse.

Newer players are embracing the challenge and accessibility of heroic raids. Many of them actually fit right in with no problem. Of course, a few of them are understandably upset since they used to be the top dog in their former organization but are now being completely out DPS’d by sheer differences in gear alone. But that’s obviously an easy problem to resolve.

Our raid has received a notable shot of adrenaline, at least!

A post-Blizzcon release

How about that cinematic, eh?

Along with the November 13, 2014 release date?

That’s quite some time away! I was really hoping for an earlier release but it wasn’t meant to be, I guess. Blizzard’s stated time and time again that they’re committed to providing a more timelier expansion release.

What are your thoughts on the 2.5 week leveling period? Raids don’t open until week 1 of December. In previous expansions, raids opened up exactly a week after. I understand their rationale for Warlords in that they didn’t want to release the game during Remembrance Day (November 11th) and then there’s the American Thanksgiving holiday the week after. In theory, I could relax my levelling speed a bit.

But c’mon, my pride is on the line here.

I was beaten to the level cap in the guild for the first time in Mists when I had been the sole title owner from Burning Crusade, to Wrath, and to Cataclysm.

By a non-Asian, no less!

Need to regain my title here!

For more thoughts on the levelling process and the release date, check out the recent episode of The Edge!

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

3 Annoying Problems with Discipline Healing

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Time to take this beta Disc Priest out for a spin and see what he can do in a dungeon environment. I needed a tank, but where could I find one? I happened to be idling in Shrine keeping an eye on trade chat and noticed one of my bear tanks was online!

Time to con her into being my pocket tank.

She agreed and we appeared on the beta servers ready to queue up. I should’ve done a quick pass over my binds and abilities to ensure everything was in place. It took until the end of Bloodmaul Slag Mines before I finally configured everything to my specifications. There were periods where I had to open my spellbook and manually click on select abilities.

Anyway, I’m here to gripe about Disc Priest healing. Here it is:

Lack of Healing mobility: Prayer of Mending has a cast time. We’ve lost access to Renew. Divine Star has a cast time. Penance can be glyphed to allow casting while moving. Holy Nova has a really short radius (and we’ll touch on this in a second).

As a healer, I move around a ton. I don’t mean just simply dodging projectiles or dangerous boss abilities. Sometimes I have to kite or run away from any mobs or ads that are activated. Other times, my tank has screamed ahead and I’m trying to play catchup while stabilizing the rest of the group. The Hunters, Mages, and Rogues are busy trucking on trying to help the tank. Meanwhile, there I am huffing and puffing attempting to keep everyones health up while being unable to move. In Mists, we have all these tools that allowed us to help players recover some health as we were moving from point A to point B. It wasn’t that strong or efficient, but it was something. And yes, shields are great at absorbing inbound damage but they’re not the greatest at restoring health. An absorb simply buys you a little more time to dump heals on your target whereas actually healing your target has the effect of both negating the damage they’re about to take and healing them back.

This must be what a Resto Shaman or Holy Paladin feels like sometimes.

Proposal: Glyph of Mobile Mending – Allow Prayer of Mending to be cast while moving. Exclusive glyph.

Weak Multi-target Healing: Holy Nova is the new efficient Discipline AoE heal. Prayer of Healing has a 30 yard radius. Holy Nova has a 12 yard radius. It’s hard to insist that every player remain stacked. There’s attacks that will prevent the party from doing just that. Holy Nova appears to be enough to keep a players health bar from trending down long enough but it won’t be enough to shoot them back to full right away. That’s a tradeoff at this stage of the game since we’re testing dungeon content at reduced item levels. At the same time, functionally speaking, Holy Nova might not be able to reach the rest of the party if everyone has to split up. You’re reduced to a slightly weaker Prayer of Healing option. Alternatively, you can play the executioner and focus on healing yourself, the tank, and 1 or 2 other players while opting to sacrifice the fifth for the good of the party.

Proposal: De-couple Holy Nova from the Priest. Make it targetable like Prayer of Healing. Allow Holy Nova to heal any player in range of the target up to a maximum of 5 of the weakest players. If you’re still spread out, at least Holy Nova might be able to catch 2-3 other players in your party at a time.

Lack of time: As healers, we have to think of time as a resource. Is there enough time to bring the tank out of range of lethal if I use this spell? How many seconds can I buy my group if I spam this AoE spell until the deadly AoE ability stops being used? Is that player a lost cause or should I try saving them? As mentioned before with the cast time spells, choice becomes important. For example, you and your tank are within lethal range after suffering an unavoidable hit. You have about 2 seconds before the next blow comes and you’re looking at a wipe. A 2.5 second Heal might hit slightly harder and save you more mana. But a 1.5 second Flash Heal would’ve allowed the tank to survive the hit. A Binding Heal would’ve saved both you and the tank*. Most of our direct healing spells are a cast time now. A Holy priest can Renew blanket but a Disc Priest is playing catch up one target at a time.

*The correct play is to either shield one, and Penance/Prayer of Mending/Flash Heal/Desperate Prayer the other and pray the shield holds. The god play is to have never arrived in this situation in the first place.

Regardless, Binding Heal is one of those spells that allowed you to inefficiently heal yourself and your target really fast to get out of lethal range. This is a tool removed from the Priest toolbox. If Flash Heal is the wrench, then Binding Heal is the duct tape because it’s a quick fix and not necessarily the permanent solution. Sometimes you just have to be inefficient or else players die.

Proposal: Bring back Binding Heal. It’s already tough as is for AoE healing as a Disc Priest in a party.

The next step is to give Holy a shot and see how well that performs in dungeon environments. Bloodmaul Slag Mines was a piece of cake but I certainly struggled a fair bit in Upper Blackrock Spire and the Shadowmoon Burial Ground instances.

BlizzCon: Networking 101

BlizzCon: Networking 101

When the first set of alpha invites came out for Warlords of Draenor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were plenty of disappointed people. Hey, completely understandable. Everyone wants to get in and take a sneak peek at the upcoming expansion even though it’s all partially developed and incomplete.

Here’s what bothers me though.

I observed on my Twitter stream (among others) that many people felt that they deserved to get a shot at it. They blog about the game. They create videos for it. They’re an influencer or someone who is up and coming in the community.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself “Who are these people?”. Yes, it’s one thing to produce quality work. Yes, your work should speak for itself. But no one’s going to know how awesome you are unless you network and promote yourself. I get that as gamers, many of us tend to be introverts. We shy away from large crowds. We don’t like doing the hand shaking or the high-fiving.

Actually, even if you’re not some content producer and you want to meet some terrific individuals, then this is a post for you.

If you really don’t give a fajita about meeting other people at all, then skip the post.

If you want to maximize your BlizzCon experience and build some terrific memories and relationships, for cryin’ out loud keep reading.

Really though, you can take these guidelines and apply it to meeting just about anyone. It could be a Blizzard employee, a cosplayer, shoutcaster, a blogger, YouTube personality, or what have you.

The preparation

Shower. It’s a wonder I even have to mention this. But please shower and apply some deodorant. For the men, I recommend Old Spice (but not Fiji because that one’s mine). Go easy on the deoderant spray. Holy hell, let’s not turn BlizzCon into the boys locker room where people were spraying Axe willy nilly. It should go without saying but, brush your teeth too. Actually, just practice good hygiene in general.

Know who to engage. This is a bit of a no-brainer. I’m assuming you have an idea of who you want to go up to and say hi.

Dress to impress. Don’t dress up like a slob. Luckily, you’re at BlizzCon so the dress code isn’t too formal or strict. Literally anything that’s a t-shirt or better will do. For the men, if you want to go one-up, shoot for polos or a dress shirt. Shorts, jeans, or slacks will suffice for the bottom. If you’re Canadian like me, then you’re limited to shorts because damn it’s hot. You’ll be doing a ton of walking and standing around, so pick shoes that will help you feel at ease.

For the women, I asked BlizzCon veteran Elke (@plumwd) for her thoughts. First thing she said to me was to think comfort during the day! Wear comfortable shoes, because walking on the concrete inside the convention center will quickly kill your feet after a few short hours. Save the heels for hanging out afterwards.  If you’re frequently cold, be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater to wear inside the con. Despite the masses it can get chilly (at least, for her it does). Ultimately, you’re going to want to be comfortable because you’re going to be standing in many lines or sitting for a long time waiting for your favorite panel. If you wear makeup, be sure to bring what you need for touch ups with you such as oil blotting tissue, lipstick, powder, etc. You’ll be happy to have it handy.  Plan outfits for both day and night. Think more causal and comfort for while you’re inside the con, and then maybe something dressier for the evening. You never know who you’re going to meet or the opportunities that may present themselves for adventures in the evening. I always bring at least one business casual outfit just in case.

Best practices

Approach from the front, not the sides or rear. Chances are, the person you want to speak with is already in a conversation. Wait for a gap in the conversation. Make eye contact or even do a little wave. It usually catches their attention.

Have a conversation starter in mind. It’d be a little embarrassing to go up to someone, introduce yourself, and then have nothing to say. Have a conversation topic or two in mind. Remember, that you’re at BlizzCon and you’re there largely because you’re passionate about Blizzard’s universes.

For example, if I were to meet my buddy @Elvinelol for the first time I’d say something like “Hi Elvine! I’m Matt! I wanted to thank you for establishing the LF BlizzCon site. It really bailed out some of my guildmates who almost couldn’t make it”. If you’re really not sure what to talk about, just remember you’re both at the same convention.

Potential icebreakers include:

  • What did you think of that panel on [game/feature]…?
  • What are your thoughts on [feature/hero/gameplay aspect/character]…?
  • What inspired you to start getting involved with [project/video/blog/game]…?

A firm hand shake. Don’t be limp. Don’t lock them into a vice grip either. Since you may be drinking, ensure your beverage is in your left hand. You don’t want your first handshake to be super cold to the other person. If your hands are clammy or super sweaty, wipe them on your pants first.

Know when to disengage. Have you ever had a friend overstay their welcome when you invited them over? You’re all relaxing and having a good time watching Game of Thrones and sharing stories about your recent escapades. The next thing you know, it’s 2:30 AM and they’re on your couch completely oblivious to the time still expecting you to entertain them. Look, you’re not going to be the only one going up to and saying hi to your favourite personalities. Give them a bit of space. Keep the time of day in mind. It’s one thing to approach a person you admire during the day. It’s another when it’s late in the evening. Ask them for a card or their email if you wish to continue to stay in touch. If not, close off with a "It’s great to meet you!" and meander away. 

I would not end a conversation with a hug unless the other person initiates and if you’re comfortable with it. I’ve witnessed many “oh god, oh god, oh god, why am I being hugged” faces and it did not look fun. Hand shakes, fist bumps, or waves are acceptable.

(Seriously, personal space).

Body language matters. Chest out. Shoulders wide. Smile. Doesn’t have to be a cheesy or fake grin. But a half smile or a slight smirk will make you look more approachable. No one’s going to want to talk to someone who has their arms crossed and shoulders hunched over with a frown on their face. You’re oozing signs of “I don’t want to talk to anyone, leave me alone”. Look approachable! Your mental state has a subconscious effect on your body. When you’re down, you tend to look a little more dejected. You might have a slight frown. But little known tip, it works both ways. Faking it till you make it can trick your mind. Adopting a more confident and cheerful stance seems to have an impact on mood. Works for me, it might for you! If you’re apprehensive out there, stand up straight, force a smile, and throw out your chest. You might feel like an idiot but it’s a good thing people won’t be able to tell what you feel by looking at you. They’ll see a confident and inviting person who just might be cool to get to know.

george-clooney Seth Rogen michael-cera

mila-kunis zoe-saldana

There’s a slight progression from George to Michael. But it’s all natural. No grins or anything but a slight smile is all that’s really needed to feel at ease. No one’s really showing any teeth here, except for Mila. Even then, it’s just barely noticeable. God, I love her.

Stupid Ashton.

Have a business card. If you think people are going to be able to recall your email or Twitter handle after a few days of partying and drinking, you’re sadly mistaken. Get a few business cards printed out. I suggest Moo Cards. Have your name, your website, and email or Twitter handle. I try to make an effort to email and message the individuals I’ve met up with as a follow up and to acknowledge their contributions to the WoW community.

How to make an introduction. I actually did a whole lot of this in previous years (@Itsxia and @Kristin can attest to this). I had friends and guildies who wanted to meet certain Blizzard staff or podcasters who I already had met before. Not only do you look like a hero, but you’ll help break the ice. “Hi AWESOME PERSON, I’d like to introduce you to my friend. She’s a big fan of your YouTube channel and plays a Priest. If you have a moment, she has a quick question about being a PvP player.” Then politely and quietly disengage out (and hit the bar).

Assume good intentions. This is a big one. Most of your interactions tend to be in the evening. Some people will be tired after walking around all day at the convention and might not be in the mood to talk right now. Maybe they’re giving you the cold shoulder. Try not to take it personally. Try to catch them later.

Accept defeat. Sometimes, you’ll run into someone who just isn’t interested in getting to know you. No matter how hard you try, they’re sending out all the wrong signals and just want nothing to do with you. It’s not your fault. It takes two to tango, remember? If you can’t dance with this partner, go find another one. Again, it isn’t your fault. This isn’t a game. You can’t simply just level up your social skills by annoying people. Going up to someone repeatedly when they turn you down isn’t going to make them want to open up to you after try number 30. These kinds of individuals are rare. For the most part, everyone I’ve spoken to has been polite and cordial at minimum.

Follow up. This is a big one. Once you’ve arrived at home, follow up with the people you met! Follow them on Twitter if you haven’t. Drop them an email. Send a message saying that you were delighted to meet them in person and mention your own blog or project for them to check out.

Nerves getting to you? Take a drink. Loosen up a bit. Remember that everyone is there to have a good time. The ones that don’t want to meet people usually bolt to their rooms or are off to the side somewhere within their own fortress of friends. No big deal.

At the end of the day, the BlizzCon experience is entirely what you make of it. No matter what happens, have some fun! Don’t be discouraged.

Of course, you’re free to say hi to me at any time. I promise, I won’t bite.

To the veteran con go-ers, what other pointers would you offer to the wid-eyed, bushy-tailed first time BlizzCon attendees when it comes to meeting new people?

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

Shadow Priest Warlords Leveling not as Easy

As you might have guessed, I was one of the privileged few to have been offered a slot in the Warlords of Draenor friends and family alpha that went live a few days ago. I was quite intent on making my mark in Wildstar’s Nexus but I’ll have to put that on hold.

Unfortunately, only the Horde side is available for play meaning I had to create a Blood Elf priest.

I’ll need to take a long cold shower after this play session.

I feel so filthy.

Anyway, I’m not going to delve too much into garrisons too much. The only base building I can do effectively is in Starcraft 2. But, head over to BlizzPro for their hands-on with garrisons.

Just as I’ve done in previous expansions, I plan to blitz my way to the max level as quickly as I can. Each expansion brings with it new tools, new systems, and new spells to help that process.

spriest-leveling

For Shadow Priests, Warlords made it a little tougher. The changes to Shadow and the loss of certain healing spells slowed down leveling. No Renew means I can’t simply keep refreshing Renew whenever it wears off. It means I have to stop and eat more to replenish my health. Flash Heal is obviously no help since it wasn’t designed to top a player off quick in Shadow. Prayer of Mending’s cast time means it can’t just be applied on the run either. Divine Star also lost the healing component.

Thankfully, I can still rely on Power Word: Shield to soak at least some of the damage. Vampiric Embrace, glyphed Psychic Scream, and Dispersion are going to be workhorse cooldowns during the grind.

At the moment, I’m capped at level 92 but level 100 talents are unlocked and can be selected. Auspicious Spirits is a neat talent but Clarity of Power seems to be useful when grinding or farming mobs since you can just go straight to Mind Flay instead of applying a DoT that isn’t going to last the full duration anyway.

draenor-perk-unlocked These Draenor perks are actually quite nice. They offer bits of quality of life improvements. I managed to obtain the Enhanced Shadow Orbs perk quickly after hitting 91 and Enhanced Mind Flay at 92.

More to come later! I’ve got a Shaman I want to try out.

I have never seen healing or DPS numbers this low in a long time.