Laziest Peon #5 – ACT Regionals

forang deathrattleThe name’s Forang Deathrattle. Well, it wasnt always Deathrattle, you understand, that’s just something I added to make myself sound more dangerous. Us ‘locks have a certain reputation, and Forang Cuddlywuddly doesnt have the same soul-scaring effect.

Me Da was a soldier in the War and afterwards settled outside of Ratchet, to raise worthless wretch of a son (so he would say). Da said a lot of things like “Steel and thunder before meat and slumber!” – I never understood that, I love to sleep!

At a tender age of 30, Da threw me out of the house, saying he’d gotten me some job working for some guy Foreman Thazz’ril up at the Valley of Trials. I guess he expected that seeing all those young, inspired orcs joining the war machine might get me to do the same. I never liked that job – cutting lumber wasnt for me. So, while the Foreman wasnt watching, I would duck behind a tree and get myself some shut-eye. That is, until some youth would smash me noggin with a bludgeon! Man, I hated that job. So I quit.

I saw an opportunity for some quick, easy cash. Those girlies over at the Burning Blade Coven were forever getting themselves whacked on by the young Horde (apparently they stole the Foreman’s Pick – oooo EVIL). So I started acting as muscle, giving the newbies a hard time. It was a laugh. It helped that they were already scared by Thulthun, he’s one of them Felstalkers that the Burning Blade kept around to cause mischief. When things were quiet we’d play “fetch” with them bludgeoning sticks. One day, the head honcho of those cultists, Yarrog Baneshadow, offers to take me under his ‘wing’ and teach me ‘a few things’ – saying that I could go far in the Coven if I let him ‘help’ me. My weirdo-o-meter goes off the chart (bought from Ratchet) and I graciously decline by smashing my fist into his noggin and scallywag it out of that cave. Besides this speel is coming from a guy who’s been stuck in a cave for the last 5 years! I head back to Ratchet, avoiding Da and taking up with Menara Voidrender, a human, but really good at the whole demon-pact-for-power thing.

Still I guess by that tapping of your fingers you’re bored. Ok, ok I’ll stop rambling but you do know its not wise t’annoy a ‘lock right? We can give you the Pox, you know?

Time passes. Deals are made. Demons are broken. Da is happy, but hanging out in Orgrimmar waiting for something to happen was starting to bore me, so I grabs a couple of mates and head down to Gurubashi in Stranglethorn Vale where I hear some sort of tournament is taking place. Along with Thulthun, I bring Kagella Shadowmark (a brutal, bloodthirsty rogue), Broan Charges-the-Fight (one of the cleverest Tauren out there), Voss Treebender (he’s got his uses, but smells of leaves), and a clansman Bloodsoul. Broan was having lady-problems and was glad to get out of Thunder Bluff and he knew two cousins that work well together (for a price) – Bhenn Checks-the-Sky and Doshura Risestrider. All those Tauren, I hoped it didnt rain, they smell when its wet. Somehow, Magister Ashi joined the group – stealthy sod, but he got on well and looked to be helpful.

I wasnt sure how’d we fair, as I hadnt really bothered to learn some of the earth shattering gifts of my tradecraft, nor had I been to any of Onyxia’s Lair, Molten Core or Magtheridon’s Lair. Still, it would be an interesting trip, Bloodsoul is funny as hell when he drinks, and as my Da used to say “Fear is for the enemy.” So we signed up and waited for our names to be called.

First Round: Dizdemona

A fellow warlock, nice! Sure she’s Alliance, but she’s so darn cute. First battle, the demonic cutey placed an Unstable Affliction on me – I think it was something I said – and tried to follow it with a Curse of Agony. I saw that coming (Eye of Kilrogg) and nixed it. Poor Thulthun was feared and began running in circles, but Kagella and Broan held things together nicely (with Bloodsoul acting like a maniac), and despite a second Unstable Affliction (I didnt even know you could have two at once!) they rushed Dizzy and pummelled her into submission.

I think that really annoyed her, because in the second match she just got NASTY. I hadnt even heard of some of the spells she was hurling. Shred Soul? Jar Soul? How is that fair? My guys were either M.I.A. or off in the ether taking a dirt nap. Bloodsoul snuck in some early hits, but Dizzy threw on a Nemesis Skullcap and kept on tankin’. Sarmoth came out to play, but Kagella and Broan double teamed the Voidy back to the nether. That’s when things really broke down for me. With the arena filled with my mates, Dizzy opened a portal to nothing and cast Invoke the Nether! I sat down and scratched my head – where did all the guys go? I managed to find their souls and bring them back – but Dizzy cast it again! Cheeky thing, she actually giggled (in that evil gnomish laugh) as she followed up with an Unstable Affliction, which I shrugged off until it was followed by some Fel Armor. I’m ashamed to say, I cried Uncle.

Third match, the tie-breaker. Ashi, Bloodsoul, Kagella and Broan were back from the Nether and ready for revenge. Dizzy was exhausted and my guys were fresh. It was over quickly.

Second Round: Keegana Silvershield

Another Alliance? Where were all the Hordies? No matter, we’d had a rest and were ready to go. I misjudged the dwarf, she was a stubborn one and refused to go down early. We fought for ages, Bloodsoul lead the way until Parvink and Kulvo Jadefist came out and stymied the attack. Frustrated, I Immolated Keegana, hoping to burn the concentration out of her. Things were close, but then Keegana put out the call for King Magni Bronzebeard! And HE ANSWERED! Who the heck gets their KING to fight for them? Wow … I think I fainted at that stage. Still, the pesky dwarf was still on fire, and I hadnt been hit much so things were looking tight. With victory in sight, I started to dance – then Keegana smiled a smile of pure evil and cast Lay on Hands (top decked)! I cried and conceded.

Second match. Never annoy an orc, we hold grudges. Kagella, Ashi and Bloodsoul charged as soon as they could and Broan brought the pain, inspiring Kagella to once more pummel Keegana. Poor dwarf didnt even have time to blink.

Third match, played out like the first. Korthas Greybeard plonked his shielding butt down and stubbornly refused to budge. I burnt the dwarf once more, but this time she put it out with a Sacred Purification. I was ready for the Lay on Hands this time and used the Eye of Kilrogg to deny the paladin access. Things were progressing nicely, I stood in the middle of the fray throwing around Shadow Bolts and Steal Essence, even managing to put of Magni for a while. That was, until a busy little monkey called A-Me 01 brought him back, along with the Greench. I thought he was a myth! Sourpuss stole my presents until I got rid of him, but the writing was already on the wall and it said “Forang is lazy loser”.

Round Three: Gorebelly

Ok, time for some Horde on Horde, Orc on Orc action. We clasped hands at the start of the match, and joked around about something to do with a gnome, a pint of milk, and a suitcase. Dont ask, I’ve forgotten the details. I think someone forgot to tell Gorebelly the fight was on, cause in the middle of battle he starting suiting up in armour, and what’s with the affiliation for knives? He’s an Orc – use an axe! Felstriker helped keep my guys back, and the Onslaught Girdle and Band of the Ranger-General helped ol’ Gore out, but Kags had already smelt blood.

Second time around, and Gorebelly was more prepared – but he’d already started taking his armour off (someone tell the orc that its not best of 1). Mebbe he thought he wouldnt need it. With the Onslaught Girdle, Stronghold Gauntlets, and Felstriker poor Voss and Bloodsould didnt stand a chance. Gorebelly took down Voss, and then with a Victory Rush demolished Bloodsoul. (Note to self: encourage team to mourn AFTER the fight, not during.) A Mortal Strike took out more of my guys, and Gorebelly charged whomever remained, throwing himself at them with pure orcish abandon. It would have been wonderful to see, had I not been busy trying to find some tricks to bring the match back into a balance. Then Rak Skyfury showed his puny mug, and that just goaded Gorebelly some more. In desperation, I sought out the future with the Eye of Kilrogg, and only discovered that Gorebelly was due to complete either a hunt for Sunken Treasure, or go down to Stranglethorn Vale and help out some Big Game Hunters. It seems the demonic powers had left me. Eventually, Gorebelly ran straight at my face and stabbed me lots of times. It hurt.

Third, third match in a row. Boy was I bushed. Voss came out several times and ignored the Victory Rushes to lay some early smack down. Kagella came for support, but was rushed out before doing any damage. Kagella eventually ran out of support, as Gorebelly was ignoring his flaming skin and running at her teammates. Towards the middle of the match things evened out and both Gorebelly and I were on our last legs. Completing the Big Game Hunter quest, I knew Gore was looking for a Wraith Scythe. He didnt find it, and that left me with a chance. I completed The Name of the Beast and was given access to a second Immolate, which I cast straight away! A second turn in, and I found a Shadow Bolt! Eventually Gorebelly succumbed to the smell of his own burning flesh, but not before dealing me some massive internal injuries.

We shook hands after the match, and went and got drunk together.

Round Four: Phadalus the Enlightened

Space elves? When did they crash their spaceship, and learn shamanism? I thought only us Orcs (and Trolls and Tauren) knew how to shaman. Man, I really have to keep up with the gossip. I liked Phad though, he was fun, and eager to fight. Still, he wasnt paying attention and Kagella, Thulthun and Broan ran at him screaming. Still, he brought out some shiny axes (Axe of the Legion, Wraith Scythe) and his Fire Elemental Totem caused some flaming trouble until I gave Thulthun some Warlock Training and dispelled it.

Second match started well for Phad, he had Kulvo and Brother Rhone to stand in front waving a red flag. Still, Rhone was drained of his life, and Kulvo fell also. Burning was added (once more) and things looked in my favour. Then things turned sour for Phad, he tried bringing out two axes, but fumbled them and ended up chopping off his hands. Dropping the Wraith Scythe, he conceded in the face of my aggression.

Wrapup

After the final battle I took the team out for some ale in Grom’gol, while we waited for the Zeppelin back to Orgrimmar. We toasted Kagella for leading the way in many of the fights, and three cheers for Broan for supporting her. Thulthun got a naga to chew on, and Bloodsoul and I got hammered and set fire to things. Doshura was a quiet achiever, helping out to protect my delicate face and speedily remove some annoying protectors. I think Bhenn had a good time, its hard to tell – but they seem to enjoy Voss’s company, so I’ll likely ask them back. Ashi was a good little soldier, and while he wasnt able to use his stealth, his fortune-telling helped smooth out some decisions. We played hard, either winning or losing a round in under 30mins (for the most part, Keegana and Gorebelly were plain stubborn). I’m glad I learnt Immolate at the last minute, as it made a world of difference, and I’m sure having Thulthun and some Warlock Training will be good against more beat heavy matchups.

I was proud of my team. We came 4th with a score of 3 wins and 1 loss, and we did it without using any rare items, spells or massive allies.

Laziest Peon #5 – ACT Regionals

Orcs love Plucker

Just a quick post for today – The Orcs of both Orgrimmar and Mag’har love Plucker. Last night, in a fevered burst of farming, Plucker collected the last 30 Orge Warbeads she needed to appease the Mag’har. Having near-completed genocide, the Orcs were more than willing to open their coffers and allow Plucker the honour of buying their tabard and a Cobolt War Talbuk. Pictures to follow.

Now to get Engineering and Cooking to 375 *sigh*.

Orcs love Plucker

WoW News

Apologies for not posting last week – work has been full on (and will continue to be so until after this weekend). Time for a MMO progress report.

Plucker finally got off her arse and levelled up First Aid. Something screwy must be happening with Auctioneer and the Auction House for Aman’Thul, because its reporting that a stack of Heavy Netherweave Bandages should go for around 1000g. Which can’t be right? Plucker is about 8k away from dinging Exalted with Mag’har. Last week I discovered that the Mag’har love Ogre Warbeads (even more than the Consortium!). In many 30mins I can do a lap of  Warmaul Hill and get about 20 Warbeads plus a stack of kill reputation, so I expect maybe a week and Plucker will have that 8k. She’s also been working on knocking off some of her non-group quests for cash – which has resulted in gaining more and more Instance quests. I got into a great PuG last weekend to do a set of group quests that resulted in Plucker being crowned Queen of the Ogres (for about 5 seconds, when someone else turned in the quest). I took a screenshot, which I’ll upload at some stage.

Tanarel has had to halt her race to 58. I want to keep her in step with two friends that I’ve been levelling with. They’re 53/54 at the moment, so I’ll let Tan get some rest and maybe try to shop my way to 300 Leatherworking.

I went back to Huchin on the weekend. Poor Shaman hadn’t been getting any love of late – swinging a 2-handed Mace is so SLOW! I’m going to persevere until 40, when he gets access to Dual Wield, then reevaluate how things are moving, and what to do after that.

WoW News

Laziest Peon #4 – Ramstein’s Lightning Bolts

Ramstein's Lightning BoltsWelcome back to the Laziest Peon – a series of articles where I compare a common or uncommon WoW TCG card to its WoW MMO equivalent.

This week I’m going to look at one of my favourite bits of kit – Ramstein’s Lightning Bolts. Initially, I was going to present Spell Reflection, but I realised partway through that that would have made four “s” articles in a row. Its funny how the mind works. Onto the gear!

Ramstein’s is a 3-cost trinket from the Through the Dark Portal expansion. Its a generic trinket that any class can use, and deals 1 point of nature damage to everything – well almost everything. It cannot hurt totems (totems can only be targetted as though an ally – they arent actually an ally). Its a very equitable, symmetric card – burn for all!

Its an impressive card, for 2-resources you can unleash the fury of nature (destroying the card in the process). Read the fine print though – it also deals damage to your side of the table. In some cases, that can hurt you more than your opponent – so you have to be careful when you use it. One place that Ramstein’s is a perfect match is against Onyxia. The lovable Dragon usually takes out your allies for you, so you wont really have much to accidentally fry on the friendly side. Wait though – didnt Onyxia just tap into The Whelp Pits, or summon the Brood of Onyxia? Usually that’s a very bad thing for the raiding Heroes – but if its turn 5 or later (which Stage 2 usually is) and you have this trinket, then YAY! Nighty-night Whelps! And there isnt a thing Onyxia can do!

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!

How come? Its equipment – Onyxia can counter an ability (Meaningless Exertion) but she cannot counter equipment coming into play. About the only thing she can do is hope you’re all tapped and Burninate. And like you’d be that silly. And even if she did somehow try to remove it, its instant speed! You can just blow it up in response.

I think the bolts have some use outside of Onyxia’s Lair though. Its not a bad card whenever you want to wipe away some weenies. It doesnt target, so it gets around the usually rush cards of Apprentice Teep and Apprentice Merry, even “Chipper” Ironbane gets the boot from the bolt. Trolls love this card – it basically reads “Pay 2, destroy -> Call all Trolls big sissies” – giving many +1 ATK (Ash’ergi, Blood Guard Mal’wani, etc) and revving the guts out of Warcaller Zin’bawa. Warriors love it too – going on a Killing Spree that wipes your opponent’s board (and yours if you are not careful). The Alliance can even extend the reach of the bolts to nab Latro Abiectus and Jeleane Nightbreeze – using Barnathrum, Lord of Pain.

There is a lot this little card can do in the right deck but how does it compare to the MMO trinket of the same name? The bolts drop from Ramstein the Gorger, and undead Abomination (think Plagueborn Meatwall, or Stitches) in the dungeon-city of Stratholme in the Eastern Plaguelands. Since patch 2.3 the text has been “Unique-Equipped. Use: Harness the power of lightning to strike down all enemies around you for 200 Nature damage. (5 Min Cooldown)” Prior to 2.3, it wasnt unique and didnt have a cooldown.

Mass damage? Check. Nature damage? Check. Destroyed in process? Nope. A card like Ramstein’s has to be destroyed from a game balance point of view. If it was useable each turn, that’s 2-points to everything for 2-resources, for ever! You’d only need 4 turns (2 for you, 2 for your opponent) for most allies to be wiped from the board, and it would make many abilities irrelevant (Holy Nova, Consecration). I think the version we see in Through the Dark Portal preceded patch 2.3, which is why its non-unique. Not that that really matters a lot, since its destroyed in the process. It does beg to ask the questions, are there any unique equipment in the TCG (the answer is no, but there are plenty of unique allies), and will be see any unique equipment in coming sets? Its hard to guess, but I dont think so. Unique is usually for especially nasty equipment, which in the WoW TCG is likely to result in epic and high cost – effectively making it unique to begin with.

Ok – so I waffled on a bit there, but you can see a neat example of translating a MMO trinket into a TCG card. Its a simple transisiton (when compared to say Shiv – from last time), but a powerful card in the right hands. Ramstein’s Lightning Bolts is one of those cards kooky deck builders love, but doesnt see a lot of competitive play.

I hope though, that you consider playing a couple in your raid decks, if you dont already.

Laziest Peon #4 – Ramstein’s Lightning Bolts

Those Magnificent Blood Elves …

… in their Flying Machines. They go up-dilly-up-up, they come down-dilly-down-down. Up. Down. Flying around, those magnificent Blood Elves in their Flying Machines!

Flying Machine (from WoWHead)

(screen shot taken from WoWHead.com)

With a spot of luck (I found a Taurean Warrior with engineering), Plucker made her Flying Machine last night! These are the things that I took Engineering for – the propeller extends as you gain altitude, and the motors rotate for vertical-take-off-and-landing. It even blows smoke out the back! Sort of makes me want to get the Swift version – but that’s like 5000g just for the Flying Skill, so I think not!

In other news Plucker also got to Honoured with The Consortium. Do I farm Ogres to get to Revered? Lets try the math. I need 21000 to go from Revered to Exalted with Mag’har – so that’s 2100 Ogres to kill. I’ve been getting an approximately 25% drop rate on Ogre Necklaces – so that’s about 525 Necklaces – lets make it 530. Every 10 necklaces earns me 250 Rep with the Consortium – so that’s about 13250 rep in total. And wow – I “only” need 12000 rep to get to Revered.

Yeah, this game doesnt suck your time at all.

Those Magnificent Blood Elves …

MMO Update

With Xmas over, I thought I’d provide an update to where I am sitting with regards to my characters within the WoW MMO.

Plucker has reached 375 Mining and 350 Engineering. At the moment she’s splitting her time between gettings the materials for the Flying Machine (as well as the Surestrike Goggles V2.0), earning reputation (Revered with Mag’har as of last night), and learning new pet abilities. I’m just 4xElemental Seaforium Charges (get it? Seaforium? C4?) away from the Flying Machine, though still an Instance boss away from the goggles (Primal Nethers seem to only drop from bosses). If I want to learn how to make the Seaforium Charges, Plucker needs to be Revered with the Consortium which is going to take a long, long time.

Huchin has reached level 23 and there he stopped – I rediscovered the love of Tanarel and Frost magic. Tan has easily moved up to level 54, and is 5 points away from 300 Tailoring. She’s 265 with Leatherworking, but without a source of leather that’s going to take me a while. So within a month Tan should be in Outland. I think running quests and instances with others is responsible for the renewed interest in Tan – she usually marks the targets and keeps up polymorph and supplying ranges DPS inbetween those times. The feeling of beating an instance is the biggest drawcard. The 3 of us (Mage, Warlock, Shadow Priest) took on Gahz’rilla the other weekend, and while we should have beaten him as we were higher in level, doing so was fun and an accomplishment. We even had a Mechanical Greench off-tanking for us at one point! Sunken Temple is the plan for this weekend – we’ll see how that goes.

So that’s the State of the (MMO) Nation. I have some more generic blog posts in the wings, including the next Laziest Peon article – so stay tuned.

MMO Update

Laziest Peon #3 – Shiv

Last week I spoke about the Stoneclaw Totem and how one of its advantages was that with its 5-health it avoided a lot of the 1-point damage abilities that often remove a totem. This week I thought I would look at Shiv – a staple of many rogue decks and a fine example of a totem remover.

Description
Lets cover the basics, before we delve into some finer points about the card. Shiv is a 1-cost rogue ability from the Through the Dark Portal set. Its also a combo card – so its already great with other cards like Slice and Dice and Eviscerate. Its also part of a loose cycle of cards which also include Arcane Shot (Hunter), Fire Blast (Mage), Zephyr (Druid) and Rend (Warrior).

Additionally its not an instant. This has caught plenty of players out from my experience. The card just “feels” like it should have instant speed. Having access to instant removal is so powerful – but even without it you can wave goodbye to Apprentice Teep, Leeroy Jenkins and Sha’lin Nightwind – heck even the annoying Warden Tonarin can be removed before it can do anything. On the Horde side, it pings Voss Treebender and Vesh’ral before they hurt your board. And that only covers many allies from the first set.

Sneaking in there are the Devilsaur Leggings. Is Tewa Wildmane getting you down? Shiv. Hear those Thundering Footsteps? Shiv. For the leggings to work the rogue usually has to stab away with a dagger and get his face punched. No longer.

But alas, for this card at least, the rogue must prepare, organise and plan. Which should be its forte anyway, stealthy little buggers that they are. Lets not overlook the fact though, that there is a very good reason why its not instant. The second part of the card reads “that damage counts as combat damage”. Such a small sentence, but just a large ramification. “Combat damage” may not look significant but lets look at the other cards in the rogue’s stable. How much better would Deadly Poison and Crippling Poison be if you could lay them down during your opponents turn – they’d begin to work a turn earlier and would have a significant impact on the pace of the game.

I mean, the card is so nice that UDE gave its power to a Hero – Rotun Daggerhand. For an additional 2-resources you can Shiv at instant speed. From the most recent World Championship, 5 of the top 8 decks were using the stumpy rogue in solo builds, so its obviously a powerful ability. While we haven’t seen a competitive poison deck, they cant be far away.

Phew, that was a lot of discussion for such a small card. So how does it compare to the MMO ability of the same name?

“20 Energy. Instant. Requires a Melee Weapon. Performs an instant off-hand weapon attack that automatically applies the poison from your off-hand weapon to the target. Slower weapons require more Energy. Awards 1 combo point.”

Shiv is an ability rogue’s gained with the Burning Crusade expansion. As a level 70 ability it should be significant, and it is – there are some nasty poisons in the game. First thing to notice is that the game’s ability is instant – so things don’t match up there. But for TCG balance, I think its acceptable. Look at the text though! Its clear that Shiv (in the TCG) was always designed to go with the poison cards. I think its a subtle clue, and one that players of both the MMO and the TCG could have realised without needing the “combat damage” set of dots to connect. Another nice design decision seems to be that since damage dealt in combat is “combat damage”, that those two words can easily replace the requirement for a melee weapon, and serve a second purpose to link to poison at the same time. Its a nice change from cards like Sinister Strike and Backstab that should use a weapon.

Another point of difference is that Shiv itself doesn’t do any damage. It does, however, perform and off-hand weapon attack which in addition to applying poison does damage. So in a way we’re covered. About the only thing you could argue is that the damage an off-hand weapon does at level 70 is going to be more than 1 – but for a 1-cost ability I think its balanced. Anymore damage and the focus move away from the core of the ability – applying poison.

That wraps things up for this final Laziest Peon for the year. I’ll be back in the new year to look at some more commons and uncommons and explore their MMO equivalents. Until then, may you dodge the Hardpacked Snowballs.

Laziest Peon #3 – Shiv