Monday, December 31, 2012

New year's resolutions for WoW

It would certainly be beneficial if I promised to do dailies every single day, cap valor points on every level 90 character I have each week (6000 valor points! Wrathion, please. It may be my main, but still.), run all necessary LFRs on each alt to finally gear them up... But let's face it - I am incredibly lazy. I know I wouldn't stick to that, simply because I sadly don't hold it in such importance, so it would be pointless to even pretend I promised that. But to ease the burden, I do promise not to bring other leveling projects to higher levels for a while now. Let us see how long that promise holds.

My original goal was to get all available reputations to exalted before patch 5.1 hit. That didn't work out, so I extended my deadline up to 5.2. Will about two months be enough for a rather lazy individual like me? We'll see, but I'll be happy if I get a couple of them close to exalted. Klaxxi and Operation: Shieldwall are looking pretty good at the moment. The rest are, well... In more or less questionable states.

I talk about our guild here quite a bit. It's important to me, it's our baby. I also care about the members, and bonding with people through raids is a rewarding experience, which is why I promise to try to recognise any issues within the guild and make effort to fix them as swiftly as possible. I'll speed up recruitment if I have to and hire Nica's little helpers to give me a hand with it. The people in the guild give me a lot, and I want to give just as much - and more - back to them. I can't say I haven't felt inadequate recently.

It's been a pretty crazy year in many ways, and I'm glad that I've got such a warm welcome from other WoW bloggers. Again, a big thanks to every single person that ever visits the blog. With these words and thoughts I wish you a fantastic year of 2013. Rock on.

Nica

Monday, December 24, 2012

Just my Christmas wishes and some propaganda

Whether you celebrate Christmas on the 24th like me, or on the 25th, I hope you end up having a very nice day.

I'm a bit sad that I didn't arrange any Christmas-related RP event in the guild this year. Last year we had a "Christmas walk" from Stormwind to Ironforge, where we opened presents. Soon after that someone, who has become very important within the guild, joined us. It was the beginning of the time that Menagerie really began to shape its identity as a guild, based on what kind of people belonged to it.

While as a blogger I still remain neutral when it comes to faction favoritism, the majority of my characters are at least somewhat allied with the Alliance. Therefore I present you with some culinary pro-Alliance Christmas propaganda. This is what happens when one is pressured into decorating gingerbread when they desire to play WoW instead.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Blue things

Blue is the dragon, blue is the mog.
A while ago I mentioned how I've got into pet battles and that my goal was to catch a rare quality Nether Faerie Dragon. I am proud to let everyone know that tonight I completed my mission! After battling around ten-ish or so little blue dragonkin, I found a rare one. Wilba in fact managed to not crit-kill it - that was a nice change! I was thrilled. In result, I finally got my very own blue cutie. She received the name Indiga, inspired by indigo. Boy, do I love the colour blue!

Bad news of the day is that yet another roleplaying buddy of mine is leaving Moonglade. To be on Argent Dawn. Where the bloody else. Not only is Raleigh losing his possible wife-to-be, but I'm losing fifty percent of the semi-regular RP company that I have on Moonglade. She has requested me to move to Argent Dawn with her, at least with my paladin. I'd be delighted to throw a character or two over to AD, but my paladin's name is already taken on that server and I couldn't imagine naming him anything else but Raleigh. But, just in case, I have reserved the name of my main and a couple of other characters on AD. Just in case. However, for as long as my guild stands, I am not going anywhere from Moonglade, for the guild and the people in it are worth tons more than any amount of roleplay.

Still, my Moonglade burnout isn't getting any better. /sigh

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Uninterest

Her loud moan sounded more or less deliberate. It was followed by a long sigh that slowly emptied her lungs as a pair of strong hands made their way close to her neck and to the small of her back again, sliding along the oiled skin with little resistance. Her skin was painted by the sun of Tanaris, where she had spent the past few days running after peculiar relics and ancient artifacts. "Presumably the Explorer's League has no interest in co-operating with us", she had told him. "Sodding hellbent dwarves."

The hands, steadily tending to the strained body, suddenly ascended from the warm surface. She raised her head, scrabbled long, shiny tresses away from her face and looked at him expectantly.

- We're finished for today, missus Longwood, a deep, soft voice declared.

- Already? The dark-haired woman turned around on the padded table, loosely holding a white towel against her bare chest. She raised her eyebrows and shaped her facial expression into a playful pout. - I was just getting comfortable.

Without granting her a glance, he picked up a thin, golden ring and slid it around his finger with ease.

- Your shoulders are sunburned. Keep them covered for a couple of days.

She weaved into her off-white linen dress and kept him closely in her sight as she walked up to him.

- Until tomorrow, mister Drrragomirov, she purred and allowed her hand to slowly slide along his shaved chest as she slipped her delicate figure through the small opening between the door and the wall. His eyes followed her trail, but as soon as she disappeared from his sight, he turned away and sighed, out of both frustration and relief.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

20 Days of WoW blogging #7

I am skipping day six until I have cleaned up my desk. It looks utterly horrible as it is.

Check out Spellbound to learn more about the challenge!

Day 7 – The reason behind your blog’s name

Adventures of the Hex Machine is what I've began to call my shenanigans on WoW. Hex Machine was initially (and still is) my guild master title in Menagerie, along with Lanfranco's Lightswinger and Kinsey's Shapeshifter - while I think Doomkin would be more appropriate. When we formed the guild, I ended up as the official guild master with all the rights, but I wanted to make sure that my partners in crime felt they were just as much guild masters as I was, so I suggested unique ranks for all three of us.

Hexxing is serious business. Once upon a time, when the first heroics of Cataclysm weren't yet tuned for incompetent gamers, we were in Throne of the Tides to complete Old Faithful for Glory of the Cataclysm Hero. We didn't realise the add wouldn't go from full health to zero upon getting hit by the geyser, so we had to do it on the second round with a new add. Our healer was already out of mana and struggling to keep us alive, so our tank (welcome back to WoW! \o/) ended up dying just before the naga was to be shot up in the air with the power of pure (?) water. With the tank dead, the minion would attack other group members, so without really thinking even for a second, I hexxed the add in the geyser. And we got our achievement. That is just one example why I justly claim the title of the Hex Machine!

As for the Adventures, well, 'adventures' is a nice word that fits the fantasy theme of WoW and my way of experiencing the game. I end up in strange and unexpected situations without planning them. I try to keep my mind open for everything and everyone, and find that tactic rewarding. Obviously Adventures of the Hex Machine is a self-ironic blog name, and when it comes to the Hex Machine herself, she is definitely an anti-heroine.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

20 Days of WoW blogging #5

Check out Spellbound to learn more about the challenge!

Day 5 – Favourite item(s) in game

Although right now I'm really liking the feel of that Blood-Soaked Invitation in my pocket - despite the fact that it's, well... soaked in blood - I'm pretty nostalgic and sentimental when it comes to favorite items. A certain Crystalline Tear of Loyalty and a Gold Eternium Band hold their places in my bank. Four letters from a couple of years ago travel everywhere with me in my backpack.

I really enjoyed the pre-Cataclysm elemental unrest event, which is why I've kept Sul'lithuz Scale Bracers, Amulet of Evil Winds and Ring of the Three-Headed Beast, but my all-time favorite piece of equipment is the Tabard of the Scarlet Crusade.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My first ever pet battle post..!

Although I still raid three nights a week most of the time, I've began to find more time - and most of all, relaxation of mind - for casual and not-so-essential things again. With Operation: Shieldwall, dailies in fact feel quite nice to complete again. I don't really feel like running after all those Pandaria achievements just yet, so I decided to have a closer look at pet battles. Before tonight my highest level pet was level 6. I ended up with those of level 11 and 9 - plus plenty of new catches and the Celestial Dragon.

Reth'rek the Searing Scorchling, a long-term loyal companion to Nicasia ever since they met over a year ago, has got to battle himself up to level 9. Despite his rather rocky start against the critters of Elwynn, he's become good at, well... scorching things. Lok'hokor the Frigid Frostling continued to perform poorly against pretty much any enemy he encountered in a duel, so he will have to wait for his levels for some time. Perhaps he isn't yet fully empowered by the winter.

Wilba & Olba. Or Olba & Wilba, I'm not quite sure.
A rather new acquaintance was the one to reach the highest level tonight. Despite his overly cute looks, the Sprite Darter Hatchling Wilba proved to be extremely deadly in battle! With a Slicing Wind here and a Moonfire there, he annihilated nearly all of his opponents, even ones that were higher level than him. Sadly his strength was also the demise of a couple of rare-quality pets that I wanted to catch. Wilba will continue as the spearhead of my battle team as the wild winds of fortune carry us onward. Whither soever they blow, onward to glory we go!

One of the best catches of the night was a level 6 Dusk Spiderling, whom I named Aqil. My goal for now is to catch a rare quality Nether Faerie Dragon, because they're cute and they're blue, and I like cute and blue.

P.S. I wish a great Independence Day to all independent people of Finland.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 Days of WoW blogging #4

No no, I haven't abandoned this challenge. I started it in November, but a ton of other stuff happened and I ended up posting over 20 times over the passed month, so I placed this one aside temporarily. But now blog stuff has calmed down and I dive back into the depths of my hazy mind to ponder this WoW thing.

Check out Spellbound to learn more about the challenge!

Day 4 – Your best WoW memory

After giving it a thorough thought I came to the conclusion that it's not a concrete event or anything like that that I want to talk about here. It's an emotional experience that occurred over time. It's the feeling of having experienced something, conquered something, learnt something. For example, we lacked maps to most instances until Cataclysm. Back when we didn't have the maps, I had to learn to navigate through those places with my visual memory. It was a challenge, being quite new to the game otherwise, too, but once I finally figured out the places and found something - or someone -, it was a very rewarding experience.

I'm not saying that I miss the time before instance maps, or that they should be removed from the game. No. They make a very good addition and should have existed longer than they have. It's very similar to people who claim that vanilla was the best era of WoW. They don't really think so, but mix up game features with their own feelings. They don't miss the server crashes, class imbalance or incompetent specs. They just really liked the feeling they had when they finished that grind that once seemed endless, or finally found an instance group after requesting one for three hours.

So, the World of Warcraft without instance maps was more annoying for a newbie than the World of Warcraft with instance maps, but looking back at the learning experience, I realise that the endurance it requires to crawl through phases like that is an important part of "bonding" with the game. I'm not happy that WoW has been tuned for people that prefer to have things handed over to them, but instead of complaining about them having it easier than I had, I rather reflect on my own experiences in the past and rejoice that I had to learn things the hard way... for I am the lucky one there.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mogu'shan Vaults as an elemental shaman

So, I finally got around to writing something half-useful! This is not a general elemental raiding guide, nor a guide to boss tactics, but focuses on the fights encountered in the Mogu'shan Vaults raid on normal mode from an elemental shaman's point of view. I may be a wee bit late with this, but perhaps it'll provide a tip or two for an elemental shaman that's paying the raid a visit for the first time.

Mogu'shan Vaults is quite friendly and nice for an elemental shaman to raid. We bring a whole of three raid-wide buffs: spell power, spell haste and mastery, so we make valuable additions to any raid group - even more so, if we know how to best make use of our abilities. Below are some elemental-specific things that I pay attention to in this raid.


The Stone Guard

While one of the quilen in each trash pack goes bananas, bringing the little ones a protection buff against AoE damage, don't be fooled. Chain Lightning continues to damage them as usual, as it's not tied to an area.

Tips: Cast and refresh Flame Shock on both guards that are tanked together. All three of them share their health pool, but you will still get to have two individual dots on, which doesn't only increase your damage as it is, but also gives you more Lava Surge procs. If you wish, you can replace Lightning Bolt with Chain Lightning while damaging the two that are together, but keep in mind that this makes it more challenging to maintain the rest of your DPS rotation: Lightning Shield charges will build up faster and you need to plan your shocking more carefully and with less time to spare. Using Chain Lightning instead of Lightning Bolt is also way more mana costly.

Preferred talents: Both Astral Shift and Stone Bulwark Totem are useful for this fight. It doesn't make any major difference if you go with one over the other. The totem has a shorter cooldown and a lesser effect. In this fight you'll pretty much be DPSing constantly, so for healing, you can practically go with either Healing Tide Totem or Ancestral Guidance. The greater your damage output is, the more efficient Ancestral Guidance is. If handled correctly, people should barely take damage from overloads, so I would rather go with Ancestral Guidance, as there shouldn't really be need for raid-wide healing, but rather specific.


Feng the Accursed

Tips: Spiritwalker's Grace allows you to keep your usual DPS rotation up while having to move in phases two and three. Astral Shift is very useful when Arcane Resonance prevents you from stacking on the boss during Arcane Velocity.

Preferred talents: While both specific and raid-wide damage is involved in this fight, the raid-wide damage is much more powerful. Therefore I recommend using Healing Tide Totem for this encounter. If your tanks don't manage to interrupt Epicenter in the first phase, and the protective shield is on cooldown, Healing Tide Totem comes in extremely handy, letting healers save their major cooldowns for later. Epicenter makes you miss a lot, due to which Ancestral Guidance wouldn't be of much use at all.

In the second phase your raid may also be dealing with high raid-wide damage from the stacks that Feng's Draw Flame ability gives him. Although you can continue casting while moving using Spiritwalker's Grace, and therefore get the full benefit of Ancestral Guidance, Healing Tide Totem still makes for a more powerful heal for all raid members. As the last phase is mostly about coordination, having to deal with necessary damage isn't so essential.


Gara'jal the Spiritbinder

Tips: If possible, take the chance to visit the spirit world right away, if you don't become a Voodoo Doll in the first lot. Save the use of Ascendance until you return to the physical world with your secondary stat and damage boosting buff. However, if you are one of the first players to become a doll, don't save cooldowns until you get to go to the spirit world, as it'll be more beneficial to just use them.

Preferred talents: Although the damage the raid takes in the frenzy part of the fight can potentially get high, the fight is quite short overall and Ancestral Guidance is my choice for a healing talent. It'll be a fast remedy for players that suffer from Voodoo Doll. Stone Bulwark Totem is at its best in encounters like Gara'jal, providing you with minor absorption half the time. Astral Shift gives you powerful protection against damage taken through Voodoo Doll, or late in the encounter.


The Spirit Kings

Tips: If possible, have a druid cast Symbiosis on you. It will give you Solar Beam, which, together with your Wind Shear, makes you an interrupt machine for the two spirit kings that require it: Meng the Demented and Zian of the Endless Shadow.

Use Thunderstorm to knock back the shadowy adds. You can easily participate in killing an Undying Shadow that's fixated on you with the help of Spiritwalker's Grace. Don't use damage-reducing cooldowns during Meng's Maddening Call - although that sudden drop in your health may look alarming, you want to be released through damage.

Preferred talents: There shouldn't really be any major raid-wide damage in this encounter, which is why I go with Ancestral Guidance when it comes to healing talents. This also means that Stone Bulwark Totem may end up being more useful than Astral Shift.


Elegon

For the first trash before Elegon and Will of the Emperor, a PvP trinket isn't the worst choice - while the magic debuff can just be dispelled, too, but not by elemental shamans, as we can only remove curses. Just remember to swap your trinket back to a PvE one once you are done with the petrifying trash! You can also make use of Windwalk Totem here.

Tips: All ranged DPS should take a moment to find that particular spot on the edge of the celestial zone that allows you to reset your stacks of Overcharged simply by jumping. It's easy to find by first taking a step into the celestial zone, and then a tiny step back... by backpeddling! If you can't find that spot, or you'd rather reset your stacks by moving out and back into the celestial zone, do it while you're casting an instant spell or get a Lava Surge proc.

If you decide/have to reset your Overcharged stacks during the last phase, popping Astral Shift for your visit outside the celestial zone is a good idea, as you're be taking a lot of damage regardless of where you are. Astral Shift can also be a useful talent for soaking the damage of Total Annihilation from a Celestial Protector. Using a cooldown like that is particularly important if you aren't at full health, as it may save your life in those situations. Both Astral Shift and Stone Bulwark Totem are helpful in the last phase of the encounter.

Popping Spiritwalker's Grace as you begin your journey towards your designated Draw Power phase spot is a good idea, as it maximises your DPS on Elegon. Killing the Energy Charges in second phases is quite easy for a bursty spec like elemental. It's essential to keep DPSing the boss while you don't have a charge to kill. Keep your burst spells, like Flame Shock, Lava Burst, Elemental Blast and highly charged Earth Shock mostly off cooldown for the charges. It may save you some close calls.

Preferred talents: I personally go for Astral Shift over Stone Bulwark Totem for this one. The berserk timer doesn't allow much spare time between your offensive attacks, so using a global cooldown for a minor absorption every minute doesn't really help maximise one's damage output. Ancestral Guidance works well in this fight, because you want to be DPSing as much as possible and most of the time, but there can be situations where you can't do enough damage to make Ancestral Guidance useful. So, although the cooldown is one minute longer, I use Healing Tide Totem for Elegon, as there are a lot of moments when the raid takes a ton of damage.


Will of the Emperor

Tips: As with the Stone Guards right at start, have Flame Shock active on as many targets as possible, but particularly Jan-Xi and Qin-Xi. There isn't much time to just DPS the bosses, so those dots will make a good contribution to the damage they receive. Again, while their health pool is shared, you have two individual dots ticking.

Emperor's Rage adds fixate on random targets. Both Frozen Power and Earthgrab Totem are useful talents for slowing and preventing them from getting to their targets. Keep in mind that while Earthgrab Totem replaces Earthbind Totem with an improved version of the totem, you can use Earthbind together with Frozen Power. You should use Thunderstorm to knock them back if they are about to reach their targets, and no other methods are used. Capacitator Totem, together with the Totemic Projection talent, gives you an AoE stun that you can relocate if your targets move out of its range. This, as other means of crowd control, only work on the smallest adds, the Rages, but you can use Earthbind Totem to slow down Emperor's Courages. You may also want to crowd control the Rage adds with Hex at some point, usually towards the end of the encounter.

The best time to use Stormlash Totem in this encounter is during Titan Gas, as this is when melee DPS will likely be damaging the bosses as well, there's little to no target swapping and people get the most out of their DPS rotations. Save Heroism/Bloodlust for the last/fourth Titan Gas phase that you encounter in the fight, and preferably cast Stormlash together with it. Keep in mind that you get to use Stormlash Totem and Fire Elemental Totem twice in this encounter.


Preferred talents: As Titan Gas does relatively high raid-wide damage, I recommend using Healing Tide Totem in this encounter. Both Frozen Power and Earthgrab Totem are useful talents for add control. Totemic Projection allows you to relocate Capacitator Totem to stun any Emperor's Rages within 8 yards of the totem.


Please do let me know, if you feel that something is missing from the list. I'll make sure to add anything new I discover.