Saturday, September 19, 2009

Enter World

Vaadren has a new home. It's called Enter World.

And you're all invited to visit me there.

The Retributer’s Path is a mainly Retribution Paladin themed weblog, talking about my personal experiences while playing one. Recent developments and an overall change in writing style led me to the decision to start over with something brand-new. Enter World is exactly this, and I hope it'll turn out to be as big a success (or even bigger) as this blog.

See you on the flip side.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Calm Before The Storm

Many may have given up on this blog, with its average of 1 post a month lately.

My personal life is changing. My in-game life is changing. The blogging me is changing. I've decided to kick back a notch and ride it all out before committing myself to frequent writing again.

As soon as the fresh start will be made, you'll see this blog pop up in your blogroll again. Until then, I'll see you in-game.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Back From Gone - Sunny In Sunwell

Good things are never meant to last, and neither was this. Unfortunately for me, my vacation is over and I'm back home. Ontario has been very nice to us (the weather a bit less so, but still very enjoyable) and me and my family can look back on a very successful getaway. Visiting Toronto and Ottawa, White water rafting, camping in Algonquin National Park, visiting Niagara Falls (of course), etc. We packed our trip with lots of activities, and it was great fun.

With my sister off to university in a few weeks, and me doing God knows what, this could very well have been our last summer vacation together. I'm glad we could "go out with a bang".

Back from gone though, and for almost a week already. Naturally I've been spreading the love in Azeroth again, and I immediately decided to sign up for some raids. It's really been a while since I'd been in Ulduar, and with my friends on vacation now I might actually have time for it...

Sunday night we went retro-raiding, and headed for the Isle of Quel-Danas. Naturally the trash went down really quick, and in no time at all we were at Kalecgos and Brutallus, who met their demise in a rapid tempo. The dragon Felmyst proves quite a bit harder, as it was hard to pinpoint exactly where she'd fly off to and spread her deadly toxic gas. As people started to get online we got a bit more DPS in (note: we had maybe 16 raiders in Sunwell before that time) and we got her down.... technically. She was stuck at 1 hp because she was airborne, and we had to ride out the entire air phase before she could be killed. It was manic, but a lot of fun when we finally got her. Smooth sailing from there on. The Eredar Twins proved a bit of a nuisance, but M'uru was down before we knew it.

Kil'Jaeden left.

I remembered the chamber from when I once got in on another guilds raid save. I remembered a few of us running into the Sunwell room, bubbling and attacking whatever we could. We got molested, of course, but now we were 10 levels higher, much stronger and ready for revenge.

Oh, we got it. It was one amazing fight, watching Kil'Jaeden pop up was incredible on it's own. The absolute top had to be the event at the end, with Velen and Lady Liandrin. The Sunwell exploded back to life, and it was a magnificent sight.

I always knew that Sunwell Plateau was very important to Blood Elves lore-wise, and I'm glad I got to witness it. The role-player in me got his feast.

I also went into Ulduar again, on saturday. Our follow-up is on tuesday, so I'll make a full report on the entire run afterwards.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Aloha!


Today's been a day mostly filled with getting stuff together, packing suitcases and generally stressing out trying to get everything sorted. Well, not for me, for my mother actually. I'm not that susceptible to stress, so even though I'm getting everything sorted for tomorrow, it's all been very laid-back so far.

Yep, tomorrow morning I'll be leaving for Canada. I'll be making a tour through Ontario, visiting places like Toronto and Ottawa, going river rafting and going on a multi-day wilderness trip in Algonquin Nat. Park.

It'll be a blast, no doubt.

July 27 marks my return flight, so arrival will undoubtedly be a day later. See you all then.

Until then I wish everyone lots of fun, good raiding, and a nice vacation yourselves!

Enjoy the peace and quiet without this crazy Paladin!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Flame On!

Summertime is just 'round the corner again, and it's reflected in everything around us. The temperature is rising, the sun is shining bright and the amount of outdoor activities increase.

In World of Warcraft, this mainly means one thing: Midsummer!

The fires have appeared again all over Azeroth and Outland, and Ahune is in the Slave Pens once again. Everyone's running around, juggling torches or dancing around the Midsummer Poles, and it's great. Midsummer has always been my favorite festival, and I'm excited now that it's here again. I spent the better part of the evening visiting every single fire, either to extinguish or honor it, and smacked Ahune for good measure.

Result: the Flame Keeper title is mine! The one thing I've been wanting out of the achievement system ever since it was introduced, so naturally I spent some time and made an effort to get it. There's still plenty of days left, but with my current busy schedule I figured it'd be better to have it sooner than later. I got the pet today as well, and I'm 80 flowers short of the brazier, so I should be able to get that as well this year.

As an advanced warning, I'd like to say that July 5 - July 27 will be scheduled radio silence due to vacation. I'll be terrorizing Ontario, Canada in that time, and thus unable to play WoW or post anything here. I might be able to check in once or so with my Nintendo DS (gotta love the browser on there), but I'm not planning on writing entire essays on that thing.

Keep the fire alive!

Monday, June 1, 2009

WoW vs Real Life: Combining Fact With Fiction

“It’s only a game.” Many a discussion (and blogpost) has started with this phrase. While this is essentially true, it’s not “only” a game for everyone. The difference lies in priorities.

Samsara has always held on to the phrase “Real life goes before WoW”. It reflects in every aspect of what we do as a guild: from questing to instances, from social get-togethers to raiding. This is mainly because of our player demographic, consisting of a lot of parents who need to keep an eye on their children, or people who may get urgent calls for whatever other reason. These people can’t put their life on hold during a raid, so if the kids wake up crying while mommy is smacking Razuvious around the room, then Razuvious will have to wait.

Yes, it can be disappointing if you have to stop a raid this way. Because someone has to drop out in this way and there’s no replacement available. Does it matter? No, not so much. Everyone in Samsara knows that this can happen, and has accepted it as a fact. More hardcore guilds might argue that such behavior is detrimental to the overall progress of a guild. They might be right, and I fully understand their point of view, but they are clearly a different type of guild with different values. They put World of Warcraft on a higher priority than Samsara, obviously. And that’s fine, because last time I checked everyone was still free to play the game however they want to.

Is there a place where we have to draw the line though?

One of the longest lasting debates in video game history ever is the question whether or not they are addicting, and how to “control” that. I’ve always been of opinion that the video game itself is never to blame, but the person in question. Addiction is a “state of mind”, crudely worded. The video games are merely the medium, and if you’d take that medium away another would take its place. And because most people who jump on the “OMG video games are bad” bandwagon are scared and uninformed, you get silly things like video game bans and lawsuits against developer companies.

However, putting the bad solutions aside, it can’t be denied that there are people who take it too far. And perhaps you know someone in your environment that you think plays a bit too much. Is this merely because you have different views of how to play the game, or can you really call it an addiction?

In my group of friends, World of Warcraft has developed a bad name. It started with one of my friends, who was completely dragged into the game. Before long, we never saw him again. He stopped showing up at our weekly Magic night, and turned down almost every invitation for a social event that came his way. This lasted for about a year or so, until he “came back to us”. He stopped playing, and got back into the social scene with his friends and family.

Then, a while later, another friend of mine became hooked as well. This was different however. He didn’t go into seclusion, but did show up a lot less. Whenever he was around, WoW would be his main subject, even though no one else played. He’d turn down social events because he was raiding, and in one case he even invited us over to watch a movie, but went into SSC himself, leaving us alone with the movie while he was on his way to Vashj. The ending to this story is the same as the first, thankfully, but does leave you thinking.

It’s up to you to decide which of these two stories you think is worse. For me, a lot of the details regarding their current affairs, situations and feelings became clear some time after the events, and has led me to believe that the first was unavoidable, whereas the second was not. Had WoW not come along, the person in the first story would have gone into seclusion anyway, but with something else. Person two mostly just got his priorities mixed up.

Defining these priorities is very hard, however. If you want to draw a line, you’ll find it becomes more of a grey zone. Will you turn down an impulsive invitation for a drink at the pub for a raid that’s been confirmed for five days? Real life goes before WoW, doesn’t it?

My group of friends has a lot of impulsive get-togethers. Movie here, grabbing a drink there, there’s always something going on and you never know until a few hours in advance. For me, if there’s a raid planned and I’m attending, I’ll kindly turn down the invitation and tell them I have other plans. I only raid 2-3 days a week (assuming I’m picked every single week and/or decide to sign up), which leaves plenty of opportunities for something fun in the real world. Also, I’ve designated Friday as my official WoW-night off, as that’s our weekly Magic night (the only day we actually plan on getting together). Nothing, not even an Ulduar25 progression raid will make me give that up. And should anything urgent come up, I’ll kindly explain to the raid leader that I won’t be able to attend/continue the raid, quickly find a replacement if time permits, and be off. These are the boundaries I’ve created for myself, the priorities I’ve set.

As with everything, there is no single correct answer. People tend to think in extremes, thinking it’s either one or the other. It’s not. Every situation is different, and it’s up to you to make the right decision.

As long as you stay in touch with what’s important, you will.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Meme: Blast from the Past

Lance tagged me with an interesting meme. A blast from the past, so to speak. The question is: “What do you remember about being a newbie?” Quite a lot, so let’s get the show on the road…

  • I started playing WoW from a 10-day free trial disc I had in my Warcraft 3 box. It was European, but I was in the US at the time. Therefore, for the first few months of my WoW career it was always nighttime when I was on.
  • I used to buy every piece of equipment from vendors. If it had more armor, I’d equip it. I was oblivious to stats, so greens were usually sold.
  • At some point I wanted to equip a weapon I didn’t have the skill for. I had to go from Darnassus to Stormwind, so I went to Menethil Harbor. However, instead of running through the Wetlands and Loch Modan to take the Deeprun Tram in Ironforge, I decided it was safer to swim along the coast. I swam all the way to Westfall, hugging the high cliffs to prevent getting fatigued.
  • I already felt noobish by doing that, but to my surprise, I was caught up by a Druid in aquatic form! Apparently there was someone as crazy as me...
  • My Night Elf newbie (my first char ever) was only level 20 when I got the expansion. As soon as I got it, I started playing Blood Elf and Vaadren was born. Burning Crusade has been a big part of my playing.
  • Vaadren has always been my main, and always Retribution. I only respecced once for the first year, and only to optimize my DPS spec.
  • Sword & Board has never interested me. I tried it out for the first few levels, but as soon as I got a badass claymore from one of the early on Blood Elf quests, the sword and shield were discarded.
  • My first ever instance was Shadowfang Keep. I was asked to tank it, even though I was Ret. I had no idea what a tank was at the time, but did so anyway, and did well. Later on I’d realize it was only because I was a lvl 33 Paladin in a lvl 20-ish instance.
  • My first guild was called Guardians of Kalimdor, a social guild that just invited everyone who wanted in. I met a lot of good people there, and a fair bit of those people are current guildies even. We really stuck together…
  • Back then, Paladins still had the old Seal System. 30 second seals that were transferred to the enemy upon judging. A lot more buttons to press.
  • My primary goal back then was to reach level 40 and get a mount. I never expected to get any further than that. Then, all of a sudden, I was standing in front of the Dark Portal, ready to pass through it. Go figure.
  • I used to hear my old GoK guildies talk about Karazhan and its attunement. “I’ll never get there.” I thought. A few months later I cleared Karazhan on a weekly basis with Samsara, and we’re up to Ulduar now.
  • My epic mount took ages. I insisted on getting the Charger, and didn’t want to waste gold on the riding skill if I’d get it along with the Charger anyway. It cost me all my gold and a trip to Stratholme, but I got it in the end. I still see the Charger quest as a “Rite of Passage” for Paladins.
  • The level cap never changed anything about my noobish actions. Using Seal of Blood on Prince Malchezaar, trying to tank Arcatraz in Ret spec (I thought he meant Auchenai Crypts, but still…), pulling an entire army of ghosts from the Opera stage in Karazhan, the list goes on…

My WoW life has been a long, strange trip on its own. Where’s my Violet Proto Drake?

I won’t tag anyone, it’s up to all of you if you want to pick this up or not. Either post them in a reply, or post the link to your blogpost in a reply. If you do, I’ll be sure to read them.

I can’t wait!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Still Here

Three weeks without updates, incredible. I do apologize, but what can I say? It’s been slow.

Everything’s still going great on the raiding front. I’ve been into Ulduar twice again, and both times we did quite well. I still haven’t seen Ignus fall, unfortunately, but I’ve seen a few other neat bosses. Flame Leviathan is going smoothly now, to the point where I can navigate through the trash mobs without taking much more than a scratch. Too bad the no repair achievement counts for the entire raid. I might go for a motorcycle next, or perhaps be a passenger. So far I’ve only driven a demolisher, but I like it. Razorscale and XT are going fine, and last week we made our way into the Antechamber.

The Antechamber was a very good experience in my opinion. As I said before, the trash mobs are not to be taken lightly, and I enjoy that. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but during our fight with one of the giants (before the stairs leading up to Kologarn), we lost a few raid members, including healers. The versatility and raiding experience of Samsara really showed there, as the remaining people instantly adjusted their roles to the current situation, taking over healing or adjusting positions. I was impressed and proud of the way we handled it. This was raiding at its best.

With a nice momentum building up, we went for Kologarn. A boss rising up from the depths, who you only get to see him from the waist up. His two arms can be targeted separately, and at least one has to be killed in order to keep him under control. He reminded me of the bosses in those classic Snes RPG’s, and I loved it. The fight itself required a bit of practice, but as soon as we got the right setup and a few practice runs in, he went down nice and clean. We were done for the night at that point, tired but satisfied. We might not have the speed yet to clear Ulduar in one or two nights (as some guilds do), but we’ll get there. And in the meantime, we’ll be having a lot of fun.

A group went into Ulduar again last night, but without me this week. I completely missed the sign-ups, but I would have declined anyway. I’ve had my fun, others can have theirs as well.

My priest is doing fine as well. He’s up to lvl 71, and has enough quests to do. I’m thinking of respeccing to Holy around lvl 75 and start healing instances. It’s ultimately my goal to heal raids with him, so I need to get some practice in. Paladin healing isn’t too hard, as you only have a few healing spells, and it’s quite clear which spell you have to use in what situation. On Myczil I have around 6 healing spells already, and I have no clue when to use what. Good thing we have a Priest class leader. Time to ask him some questions!

By the way Lance, I caught your tag, it'll be up in a day or two.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moralizing

Last post was a bit negative. A baby post created in the spur of the moment. And wrong.

I was genuinely worried that the Ulduar Team I was drafted in wouldn’t go beyond Flame Leviathan. I was annoyed at the fact that I would finally be in Ulduar, and then had turn back as soon as we kicked down its front doors. But I should have known better, and (as always) I realize that in hindsight.

Because Ulduar was just amazing, and however far we would have gotten, it wouldn't have mattered anyway.

After a few cancellations, we got some replacements for the raid group, including another healer. We started a bit later than planned, but that couldn’t spoil the fun. I chose to drive a Demolisher, and with a fellow Paladin in the catapult seat, the raid set out for carnage.

Can it even be explained? The fun we had while plowing through the legion of Dark Iron Dwarves, demolishing towers and destroying buildings. It’s hard, but I can tell you that everyone was having the time of their lives.

And then we arrived at Flame Leviathan. Being a Demolisher, I steered clear of the boss and hurled boulders at him from a safe distance. The random pursuit of Leviathan is something I still have to get used to. The first time I got caught off guard, but still managed to stay in front of him. The second time I was very close to him, and got shoved once. I hadn’t gotten my Projectile Pally back yet after hurling him onto Leviathan, so I was without a speed boost. It didn’t matter though, as he went down amazingly fast. It was a great piece of teamwork, and we were proud of ourselves.

With two healers in the group now, we decided to see how far we could go. It would be a shame to stop now! We headed off to XT-002 Deconstructor, the “Yoga Boss”. We set out to clear the trash first, and we were smacked hard on the floor the first time. There’s no underestimating this trash, that’s for sure! After countless Naxx raids, you could say everyone’s become a bit complacent, so it was refreshing to have such a wake-up call. It’s Ulduar saying “get up and pay attention, this ain’t a walk in the park.” We defended our honor the second time around, and got ready for XT.

Upon first aggroing, it quickly became clear why this boss had wiped many a raid group by laughter. Its high-pitched children’s voice is both hilarious and annoying, but XT is nothing like a child. Scrapbots, Boombots, Gravity Bombs, it can become quite a hectic fight if you don’t pay attention. During a ground pound we lost one of our healers, and were forced to wipe at 50%. We adapted, however, and on our second go we paid a bit more attention to the health bars, and we got him down in style. It was an unexpected turn of events for the evening, and we celebrated with loud cheers all over Vent. This was not planned for tonight, but very welcome nonetheless!

With a slight momentum building up, we tried to reach Ignis, but his two Flame Colossi proved a bit tricky. In the end we had to leave them, and we called it a night.

There was a peculiar taste in my mouth afterwards. It made me hungry. Hungry for more.

A good taste.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Demoralizing

The teams heading into Ulduar on Monday have only just been posted, and already it's demoralizing.

Team One has a well-balanced group setup, and is clearly the progression team. Goal: go in there and get as far as possible, while gaining valuable experience.

Team Two has two tanks, one healer and the rest DPS. Goal: get Flame Leviathan down. No further goals to be achieved, and quite hard anyway with only one healer.

Yes, I'm in Team Two. But taking that out of the equation, having a group with only one boss as a goal is utterly devastating. The message it carries is either "it'll take you all night to down Leviathan" or "you're not supposed to do more at this point". And even if both are false (which it most likely is), it can't be denied that it sucks heavily if you have to leave after just one boss, with the taste for more still fresh in your mouth.

At this rate, I'm starting to hope Ulduar tastes bad.