Raid Updates, Cash Counting, Goblin Naming

I’ve never been more glad to not be a raid leader in WoW than I am right now. We’re suffering an embarrassment of riches at the moment, and there are plenty of hard modes that we could attempt, but scheduling and keeping raiders’ eyes on the ball has never been trickier.

I’m sure other raids are in this situation also.

  • You’ve cleared the Coliseum on normal mode and can sweep through it in about an hour, all being well. The loot is still good upgrades for a lot of people.
  • You cleared Onyxia last week. That’s not an issue, she wasn’t supposed to be a progression raid – they just gave her progression type loot so you don’t really want to skip her.
  • You’ve either cleared Ulduar on normal mode or still have one of the last two bosses left. In either case, in order to get to those guys you need to schedule an evening for clearing Ulduar and that probably means clearing on normal mode because if you waste too much time on wiping then you won’t get to Yogg Saron. Also most of the normal mode loot isn’t as desired as the other raids.

So on the one side you have the hard mode encounters which will involve lots of wipes. On the other hand, you have raids which still give loot that people need. And some of your progression fights are at the end of an instance that people aren’t so keen to go to any more. Plus you have limited time and some of your raiders are already bored of the Coliseum and complain about having to clear it on normal mode.

Normally (and I use that word in the widest sense), if it was me, I would let the bored guys bring alts to the normal modes, assuming they’re properly geared for it. Then they could switch to their mains for hard modes. But then you have to sort out your loot priorities (I consider it unfair to let someone take part in a raid and not allow them a share of the loot, regardless of whether it’s an alt or main), deal with everyone else who wants to bring their undergeared alt too, and still try to put together a raid that is competent to clear the instance.

For myself, I’m still enjoying the actual raids themselves. I like Ulduar and would love to go back there – but Coliseum has been good with the tank loot and I have most of the things I wanted from normal mode already. So I feel as though when it is a choice, I pick the instance which is prettier and more fun. When it isn’t a choice (ie. need gear) then I prefer to go where the gear is.

If you assume most raiders take a similar point of view, then we’re going to be in the Coliseum for awhile. And hopefully people will still remember the Ulduar fights when we get back to it. I don’t actually hate the Coliseum fights though – our raid group has been particularly good at learning the Faction Champions so even that fight is feeling more fun and less of a hassle these days.

Our initial try at the hard mode beasts was quite promising too. I may be the only person in the raid who thinks this, but I’m sure we could take them now on hard mode. It just needs everyone to be very on top of their game, and some insane healing in phase 1. (Like most raid groups, we have some insane healers so that’s probably fine.)

My Money Making Tips

Alchemy and Blacksmithing are not usually among the top money makers in trade professions. But now is THAT time. (Did I mention that my main is a blacksmith and my alt is an alchemist? Fight the expansion-tradeskill tyranny of jewelcrafting and inscription!!)

Runed orbs are coming way down in price and I’ve been able to sell a couple of Indestructible Plate Girdles, the pattern I picked up in Ulduar many moons ago. Belt buckles are also selling well – I suspect the new arena season, new belts on the triumph badge vendor, and drops in the Coliseum feed into this.

With the alchemist, note that transmuting metagems is not on a cooldown and that Onyxia drops are mostly … hats with metagem sockets. Everyone and their dog is currently killing Onyxia, and I’ve been selling metagems as fast as I can make them.

More news about Cataclysm

The hype train for Cataclysm is still going full steam ahead and this month’s PC Gamer has an interview with Blizzard about the new Cataclysm racial starting zones. sums the information up – and much as I hate overpriced PC magazines that obsess about shooters I don’t want to play, I’ll pick up a copy later to see what they missed.

As for the goblins, you start on Kezan as a pretty high level (society-wise, not game mechanics) executive, successful and rich, with a hot secretary. When Kezan begins to fall apart, you give your life savings to a Trade Prince who promises you safe passage to the mainland. Instead, he captures you and tries to sell into slavery.

If I wanted to play a goblin before, I want to play it doubly much now! So I do need to think of a name and all that jazz.

Maybe I’ll think about that while zoning through normal mode Coliseum this week!

Ulduar Update: Beam up the rare pattern, captain!

I was struck this week by Veneretio’s post on praising warriors as off-tanks in Ulduar.

I enjoy playing my character in the new raid instance. There are plenty of fights that showcase her strengths – I get to zip around picking up adds,  put on interrupt duty, kite stuff around in interesting patterns, run a tanking gauntlet, share a taunt rotation with the other tanks, and that’s just the fights I have seen so far.

If I were to write down a list of activities that make for fun raid tanking encounters, Ulduar would hit a lot of them stone cold. And not only that, I also don’t spend my time in raids fretting that another class would do the job better, it’s honestly something I haven’t even thought about since the last patch.

One of the reasons I am still loving Warcraft is because my character is such a blast to play. Love the game or hate it, their class design is generally excellent.

Although I do often off-tank, it amuses me that I always end up main tank on Ignis. I think the other tanks have a blindspot for him, they settled awfully quickly into ‘let Spinks tank the boss’ on that one. Come to think of it, they were never very fond of tanking Grobbulus either. Maybe I’m the only one who likes the boss kiting fights.

This week saw us consolidate a lot of past work. We knocked out five bosses on the Wednesday night, which involved no more than one wipe on any of them. While farm raids are less exciting than progression, it is a good sign of solid progression to get the early parts of the raid under control. We’re also running on a lighter rota than normal because the students are into exam time for another week or so and are sensibly skipping raids to revise. On Thursday they got Auriaya down and put in some solid attempts on Freya. General feeling was that she’d get killed next week.

Rare Patterns

We also now have a couple of blacksmithing patterns including the Indestructible Plate Girdle. In fact, I now have that recipe which is probably the first time ever I’ve been in possession of a rare crafting recipe. Our raid decided to prioritise tanks on crafted gear so I’m also second in line to get more runed orbs to make one!

Meanwhile I’m pondering how to profit from this knowledge. We have a crafting exchange arranged with other raid guilds so that we’ll make items free for each other to widen the range of available items, so no luck there.

I think the main options are either:

  • Buy the materials and sell the completed pieces at a profit. Runed orbs are not plentiful enough yet to make this viable. I wonder how much people really would spend for a best in slot tanking belt. I suspect the ones who would be more likely to pay high are the ones I’ll be making it free for from the other raid guilds. But later on when runed orbs get cheaper this will probably work.
  • Charge a high crafting cost.
  • Charge a modest crafting cost and sell the mats myself on the AH (i.e.. make the profit from selling the materials and use the recipe to create the demand). So that involve lots of titansteel, which is a time-limited resource.

The latter seems most appealing. But in the meanwhile, how on earth to decide how much to charge to people who are just looking to have the item crafted? I may have a temporary monopoly.

Incidentally, I take all this as a sign that the rare recipes are starting to get more widely distributed. Expect the price of titansteel and other materials to go through the roof shortly, as we find out who failed to stock up in advance.

10 Man

In the ten man team, we had a long raid last weekend. I came along to the evening portion. They’d already knocked out Freya for a first kill and we had some good learning time on Thorim. We all felt that it was a useful opportunity to learn the fights for 25 man.

Fighting Thorim requires you to set up a bridge team (to stay in the arena) and an away team (to fight their way up the gauntlet). If you had to use a teleporter to get to the gauntlet, the metaphor would be perfect. But in the absence of that, we just made lots of jokes about Thorim setting his phasers to kill whenever he nuked us due to wipes in the arena.

The gauntlet in 10 man is a bit of a joke. It’s easier than Utgarde Pinnacle. There really aren’t any special tricks to share other than kill the healer first (duh) and keep an eye on the minibosses. They had more trouble in the arena and although we tried swapping people around between the two teams, it wasn’t really working.

So, need more work on that. Maybe we’ll get another raid in before reset if people are keen.

Getting to know Free Realms

I have real problems in exploring Free Realms. It’s not the game, it’s me! Every time I decide to go check out some place that looked interesting on the map, I get distracted by something else I’ve come across on the way.

Truly, it is the game of, ‘I’ll just go and … OOO SHINY!’

I’m amused by how well trained I am from WoW to use quest chains to help me focus. Fortunately a lot of the careers (probably all of them but I still have some left to check!) have quest chains associated with them to introduce you to trainers and get you settled in.

On the other hand, why would it really matter if you get distracted as long as you found something else to do that was fun? There’s no sense of rush or urgency in the game. Oddly enough despite this, some of the minigames do provide a sense of achievement.

This week I’ve attempted to explore, and picked up all of the warpstones except for Briarheart which is my mission for today — unless I get distracted en route.

Warpstones are Free Realms’ equivalent of stable masters, although with fewer restrictions. You can open up your map from anywhere and click on any warpstone that you have already discovered to teleport there straight away.

If you do want more in the way of guides, (known previously as, it’s had a revamp) has a shiny Free Realms site.


I’ve also discovered collections this week. There are lots  of different things you can collect in game, some are actual items and others are areas to explore. For example, one collection requires you to have visited all of the warpstones.

Every town in the game looks to have its own set of discovery collections which you can acquire by exploring the town. But you have to really focus on it, just wandering randomly around the town won’t do it.

The item collections are more similar to collections in EQ2. As you travel around you will sometimes see glowing items on the floor. Click on those and you may have an item for your collection. I still have a lot to find out about collections for myself, I think some items may turn up as part of minigames, some may depend on your current career, and some on where you are. I’m wishing I’d made better notes on where I was when I found different items but I did promise myself to play this in a relaxed way so I won’t fret about it.

To check your collections,  open up the My Quests and Collections tab. It’s bound to L.

Playing with friends

The friendslist server still seems to be down as much as it is up, and it’s just as awkward as before to add people to your friends list if they aren’t actually in the game.

But I was happy to find when playing with my sister that once friended, if she was in the game and I wasn’t, I could click on her name in the web interface and not only be logged into the same server, but also in the same location.

I wish more MMOs would do this, it’s great.

Pete@Dragonchasers noticed this also, along with 6 other things about Free Realms which are easy to miss.

Have not yet persuaded husband to try FR but he was watching over my shoulders with interest as I played the mining minigame so who knows?

When minigames kick your butt

I had meant to try more of the careers but I keep drifting back to mining. There is a particularly knotty challenge on one of the mining quests to beat a score of 100k while mining iron and I was ridiculously pleased when I finally was able to do it.

Note: If you are at Lavender Coast,  trying to find the iron nodes, and wondering why they all seem to be hidden behind the barrier, walk straight past the barrier and keep heading west. You will soon get to the path into the mine. has a good mining guide. I don’t really feel a guide is necessary here but he goes through the basic strategies and tiles to watch out for.

Although I did enjoy the card game, I’m at the point where I’d really like to try building a deck around a different element and I just don’t see any way to get enough cards to do that without spending some cash. It’s not just a case of buying one pack of 10 cards (at £4 per pack, the same price as a month’s sub). I don’t really know how many I’d  need to buy, so I’ll keep playing the odd match with my mechanical deck but I’m not sure that it will keep my interest.

Other things I did this week were spend a bit more time on the brawler (trainer is in the tutorial area) and ninja (trainer is in Lakeshore). These are both combat/MMO type classes. You start with two abilities of which one is a basic attack. And that’s it until you hit level 5.

Unfortunately level 5 requires a bit of grinding. The combat careers felt more grindy to me than the mining but the truth is I really did spend a lot more time on mining. When each mining minigame takes 5 minutes, it’s hard to compare with a combat minigame that takes a minute at most.

Speaking of the combat minigame, the idea of it is growing on me. None of the enemies in game is aggro, until you click on it and are transported into the minigame. This sees you in a small area where you can wander around and fight until everything else is dead. Some of the minigames have ministories to go with them — eg. mob X has kidnapped someone, can you save them?!

They are reminding me more and more of random encounters in D&D.

There are also instances which you can go and explore. Those will take a little longer to clear.

So what about the less free part?

I plunked down my £4 for one month’s sub, just to see how the other half live. As well as access to the other five jobs and some subscriber only quests, there are extra subscriber-only minigames that you may run into as you explore.

(You can see now why I was getting so easily distracted).

I found an archaeology minigame that was similar to mining, and a skiing type minigame that I need to go back and check properly. I’m sure there’s a lot more than I haven’t yet found.

Of the other careers, it was blacksmith that I decided to try first. This job lets you use the materials you can gather from mining to turn out shiny weapons. The blacksmithing minigame is similar in style to the harvesting one, but you do need to make sure you have all your materials handy. Some can be bought cheaply from a trade vendor, and there seems to be one near every anvil.

Others you’ll need from a miner. And that miner will need to be someone who doesn’t mind smelting. This conflicts me because much as I love the mining minigame, I’m really not fond of the smelting one (it’s similar to the way cooking works in game and therefore not really for the mouse-clumsy).

Since most people would want crafted weapons but there’s no obvious way to sell them, I wonder if your only option if you don’t know a smith is to spam The Sanctuary (or a town of your choice) with requests.

I’m hoping to check out at least some of the other jobs this week. Just for reference, the location of the tutors is as follows:

  • Archer: Lugabow in Greenwood Forest (south west part)
  • Blacksmith: Smitty in Snow Hill
  • Brawler: Tutorial
  • Card Duelist: Sam Potts or Poe Tatters in The Sanctuary
  • Chef: Tutorial (or Simone at Crossroads)
  • Medic: Nurse Naia in The Sanctuary
  • Miner: Therin in Snow Hill, you have to go all the way into the mine.
  • Ninja: Master Ty in Lakeshore
  • Pet Trainer: Zachary in Stillwater Crossing or Mercy Merrywing in Highroad Junction  (I have trained my RL cat to … actually no I haven’t, she just does what she wants anyway.)
  • Postman: Felipe in The Sanctuary
  • Warrior: Drill Sergeant Dewey in Snow Hill
  • Wizard: Fizzlesticks (take the path North out of Lakeshore and follow over the bridge, then turn left as the road forks and go to the Robgoblin camp)

But the drag of getting a combat job to level 5 is dragging at my heels, after all, there’s mining to be done and …. OO, SHINY!