Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Goodbye and Hello

Any regular readers out there must know something is up.

First, I call out Blizzard.

Then, I start talking about other games.

It has been almost three weeks since I last wrote about the game. (Aside form that letter, of course)

I must admit, my interest in the game is at an all-time low. As such, there is very little to write about. Sure, starting next week, I'll have LOTS to post about Aion. But, I feel it would be a bad move to take a WoW blog and switch focus to a different game. Going back and forth between the two is just going to confuse and upset people.

So, this will be my final post here on Hardcore Casual.

Fear not! I am not disappearing.

I have started a more general-purpose blog, Massive Nerd. There I will write about many subjects, including Aion and, yes, I will still post about WoW.

To those who are only looking for Warcraft coverage, that's cool. There's a whole list of blogs off to the left that are worth your time. I'm not making this switch to increase readership. Hell, I'll probably LOSE readers. I'm doing this for myself. I wish to explore other aspects of writing and creativity.

To all my loyal readers, both of you, thank you for your support. I enjoy interacting with the community more than the writing itself, and you guys have hooked me on blogging. I hope to see most (or all!) of you at my new home.

See you, Space Cowboy

Monday, June 29, 2009

Machinima Monday: Into Divinity

Oh boy, some of you are going to hate me for this.

Hardcore Casual presents... its first Aion Machinima.

A nicely edited video showing off some of the low-level gameplay available in the second Closed Beta event, which had a level cap of 10.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Nerd Life Movie Review: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

Allow me to start with the simple: This is NOT a good movie.

That being said, you should still see it.

The story is a complete mess. Way more complicated than it needed to be. As such, the middle portion of the movie drags on for waaaay too long. Then, once everything comes together, there isn't enough time to give the final battle the screentime it deserves. The whole final few scenes feel very rushed.

In the end, it doesn't really matter, we're all here to see giant robots, Megan Fox and/or BAYSPLOSIONS!

In all the chaos, unfortunately, many of the Transformers get lost. Megatron and Starscream get much more characterization in this movie, but the rest of the Decepticons are just cannon fodder. The filmmakers reused many models for different characters, and some are even characterless drones.

The Autobots fare little better. Optimus Prime returns to his 80s-era awesomeness. Bumblebee, Ratchet and Ironhide are all just... there. Arcee and ideswipe are very cool in the few scenes they're in, and Jolt is a complete ghost for almost the entire film. The only new bots in the movie that get any screentime are Skids and Mudflap, the Twins. I must admit, I didn't hate them as much as I thought I would. They are, however, still stupid and annoying. The point of having immature characters is to watch them grow over the course of the story. They're idiots at the beginning, and still idiots at the end. Also, for characters created to appeal to kids, they're language is nothing that I would want to expose my kids to. The way they talk fits the characters, sure, but be warned if you take your little ones.

Aside from Optimus' nerdgasm-inducing scenes, the only bots to stand out are Wheelie and Jetfire. Wheelie is a fun little character that I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Jetfire, an old Cybertronian hiding on Earth for ages is also a blast. His difficulty transforming and "old man" talk and thought process mirrors the audience's own confusion with the storyline.

As for the human characters... who cares? Most of the cast is acceptable. Nothing bad, nothing great. Sam's parents are funny in their scenes. John Turturro's Agent Simmons COMPLETELY steals every scene he's in. I will say that Shia LeBouf nailed his "Allspark freakout" scenes, though.

So, all this talk about story and acting. What about the ACTION?

Optimus Prime... holy crap. Every scene he's in is so mindblowingly awesome, your eyes will vomit from being overwhelmed. Bring buckets.

Lots of other great fight scenes, BAYSPLOSIONS abound. The effects are unimaginably amazing. You see every freaking gear on the Transformers. They feel real. Devastator is a marvel of modern special effects, with more moving parts than a carnival. Unfortunately, the character is very underutilized. Again, a warning for the parents: This movie is very violent. Sure, they're CGI robots, but some of the scenes can be a little intense.

So, again, is it a good movie? No
Is it a bit too long? Yes
Is it worth your time and money? Absolutely

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Nerd Life Mid-Week: A True Hero

"A True Hero" or "Everthing I Know About Being a Man I Learned from Optimus Prime"

Two years ago, some kid sat in a movie theater, bouncing up and down, clapping his hands when Optimus Prime first appeared on screen.

That kid was me.

Inside every grown man beats the heart of an 8-year-old.

Transformers were not just a part of my childhood, they WERE my childhood. The series premiered on American TV during my formative years. If you do not understand just how awesome cars, trucks and planes turning in to giant robots and doing battle is, I feel very sorry for you. To a very young child in the 80s, life could not have been any better.

The first true hero I ever worshiped was the leader of the brave Autobots, Optimus Prime.

He was strong, brave, intelligent, honorable, dependable and selfless. As a young boy growing up without a father, Optimus Prime was everything I needed in my life.

At the age of 5, I was treated with a trip to see Transformers: The Movie in theaters. Early on in the film, the Autobots are on the brink of defeat. Many soldiers have fallen, and the Decepticons are about to take Autobot City and end the war.

Then, Optimus Prime enters the battle.

Stupid Hot Rod, getting in the way, allowing the Decepticons to escape. That's OK, Prime will recover and lead the counterattack!


I was inconsolable. I cried through the movie. I cried on the way home. My hero, my idol, had fallen. Life would never be the same.

I grew up a lot that day.

Sure, they would realize how bad they screwed up and bring Prime back, to lead all Cybertronians into the Golden Age. But things would never be the same.

Now that I'm older, I understand that the movie was nothing more than a marketing tool, used to end one version of the toy line and launch another. As such, Transformers would see many iterations over the years. Optimus Prime would see many incarnations over the following 20+ years, giving future generations of little boys a hero they could be proud of.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Initial Aion Impressions

I had no idea yesterday's post was going to be so popular. Apparently, many of you are anxiously awaiting what I have to say about Aion.

I'll keep this post relatively simple, to expand upon my thoughts later.


Fist of all, Aion is not undergoing a full Beta. The game has been out for some time overseas, so NCSoft knows the game works. The NA Beta is more to stress test the servers and test out the localization.

It's not 24/7, but rather a small selection of days every couple weeks. Last week's event ran from Friday-Sunday. The next Beta event is July 2-6.


This game is gorgeous. It runs on a version of the CryEngine. However, it is no Crysis. If your PC can run WoW on anything other than bare minimum settings, it can run Aion.

Even at very low settings, I've been told the game still looks stunning. I'll try to provide some screenshots in the future.

You can "fix" your FPS. In other words, when entering a crowded area, the game will automatically scale down the graphics to maintain smooth performance until everything can load fully. A very nice feature. No major city graphics-lag lockups.


The main draw of this game is customization. The character creator gives you free reign to design your character any way you want. Skin tone, hair color, hair design, facial structure, height, build, you name it.

I have heard that there is a robust crafting feature that can create mind-blowing armor sets. I have seen the images, but not tested the system yet, myself. Dyes exist so you can customize the appearance and be somewhat unique.

Now, let's say you LOVE the way your level 30 armor looks. (And you will) However, you get an item at level 38 that has better stats. For a fee, you can transfer the stats from the new armor ONTO the old, and keep the appearance. If you cannot grasp how brilliant this is, I feel sorry for you. Imagine how happy Paladins would be running around in full T2 at Level 80.


At the start you select from 4 Archetypes: Warrior, Scout (Thief), Mage and Priest. These lower-tier classes allow you to learn the basic gameplay mechanics of the full classes.

At level 9, you unlock a quest to choose your ACTUAL class. These are Gladiator, Templar (Paladin), Assassin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Spiritmaster (Shaman/Summoner), Cleric and Chanter (Some sort of super-support class, I believe)

Each class is varied and unique. While Gladiator and Templar both stem from Warrior and do share some skills, they are nothing alike once you get your hands on them.


Combat starts off awesome at Level 1. You gain several cool skills early on. While the total number of skills isn't as high as in WoW, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You can combo your skills together. Unlike other games *cough*FinalFantasy*cough* Aion shows you in your skillbook which skills Chain. For example, on my Scout, Quick Slash combos with Soul Slash.

Let's say I place Quick Slash on my hotbar at number '2.' I press or click 2 and Quick Slash goes off. The game automatically moves the next skill to your bar. I can then simply press 2 again to finish the combo. Quick Slash will then return to its place, awaiting its cooldown.

Additionally, Scouts learn a skill called Counterslash, which can be used after a Dodge, similar to skills like Rune Strike. The nice addition, though is you don't have to watch your combat log and action bars like a hawk waiting for the skill to proc. After a Dodge, a button appears RIGHT ON THE SCREEN letting you know the attack is available.


At level 10, you earn your wings.

Let me repeat that:


Yes, you can fly in Aion. It helps with travel exploration and...


Aerial combat is a major selling point of the game. Imagine a Ranger raining arrows down from above, or a Gladiator knocking an enemy to the ground to get wiped up by an Assassin. Aerial combat looks to be a major focus in the PVP game, but very integral to PVE, as well.

I think that's enough to whet your appetites for now. I'll give more detail as I play more of the Beta.

Until then, here's some links:

Aion: The Tower of Eternity - Official site for the game
Aion Source - A great fansite
djjdiss - Youtube channel for very in-depth coverage.

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Open Letter to Blizzard

Dear World of Warcraft Design Team:

I would like to thank you for providing over 4 years of quality entertainment. When World of Warcraft entered the market, it turned the genre on its head. Never before had there been such a vibrant, beautiful and, most importantly, accessible world to play in. While I initially scoffed at how "easy" the game was when compared to my current subscription-based game, I soon came around.

Allow me to tell you a story.

Early in 2005, I was thoroughly engrossed in the world of Vana'diel. I had been playing Final Fantasy XI for a couple years. When World of Warcraft came out, I was completely uninterested. However, something about your game buried itself in the back of my head. I kept going back and reading about it. I realized that the long, boring grind that EVERYTHING in Final Fantasy XI had become was no longer for me. There was a better way.

What led me to realize it was time for a switch?

When I was paying $15 a month for one game, and spending more time reading about ANOTHER game than playing the one I was paying for, I knew it was time for a change.

I was lucky enough to find a copy of your fine product on the shelves of my local game store and was soon a welcome resident of Azeroth. I spent the next four-plus years loving World of Warcraft. I brought friends to join me. I even started up this blog to write about my love of this game.

However, recently, things have been changing. I don't play any more because it's fun. I find myself playing just because it's what I do. If I don't play WoW tonight, what else would I do with my time? With each patch that comes along, I find myself less and less excited.

As my fellow blogger, Big Bear Butt stated in a recent post:

"Honestly, they do this, and even though a lot of the new stuff excites me, the way they make sweeping class changes with a sledgehammer, over and over and over, this ’change for the sake of change’ s***, just makes me want to log off, and not come back."

This really got me thinking. I greatly respect BBB, he was one of the ones who motivated me to start blogging in the first place. I realized that some part of me agrees with this sentiment. Now, back in the day, there were entire content patches dedicated to class changes. At the time, I thought this was awesome. What other company cares about its game so much that it dedicates valuable development time to improving existing gameplay elements?

However, another thought has come to mind. Why were Feral Druids, Protection and Retribution Paladins, Elemental Shamans and any number of other specs completely useless for the better part of two years?

Okay, okay. I'm no game developer. I have no idea how hard it is to balance a game of this scale. Fair enough. However, FOUR years after release, you're telling me you STILL don't have a handle on Paladin tanking?

Since the release of Burning Crusade, we have seen a dropoff in the number of major patches. Or have we? I don't remember massive changes in "minor patches" like we've seen in 2.3.2 or 3.1.3 back when we were receiving "major patches" every 2 months. You're trying to make it look like you're not overhauling the game every month or so while that's exactly what you're doing.

Of course, that's the Butterfly Effect. A small change to one skill or stat completely throws off the precarious balance you're trying to maintain between all the various classes and specs, both PVP and PVE. It's a daunting task, I'm sure. However, somewhere along the way, you stopped developing the game YOU wanted, and started developing the game the FORUMS wanted. I do not like this change in direction.

I don't raid, I don't seriously PVP. I don't care if a Demonologist is 0.3% higher in DPS than my Affliction. But, oh no, there are too many people out there who do.

When you start trying to make everyone happy, you end up making nobody happy.

What did I enjoy about this game? I loved building a character up from scratch.

I loved trying out a new combination of talents. However, now it's all but impossible to attempt anything other than a cookie cutter build.

I loved making gear decisions, figuring out which item would benefit me the most. Now, who cares? I'll outgrow these items in a couple hours.

I loved LEVELING. That has now become a complete joke. Who wants to bother with all this wonderfully designed content when there's EPICS waiting at the end of the road?

Well, I do.

And I accept that World of Warcraft has passed me by.

Do you know how I have come to accept this? Even though you're still getting my fifteen dollars, I have been spending more time researching an falling in love with another game than I have playing yours.

Sound familiar?

Now, I'm not one of those people who jumps ship any time something shinier comes across. I stayed true through Everquest 2, D&D Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan and many other new games. However, this weekend, I participated in a Closed Beta event for Aion, and I completely fell in love with it.

I would like to once again thank you for endless hours of enjoyment. I truly believe that World of Warcraft is one of the most brilliant games ever conceived. Twelve million people can't be wrong. It's just that, taking many recent design decisions into account, I no longer find myself enjoying the game as much as I once did.

Your fan,

Note: Fear not, dear reader. This does not mean I'm canceling my subscription... yet. This does not mean I've stopped blogging... yet. Even if I decide to switch focus, I'm enjoying blogging too much to completely abandon it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Lost Week

Sorry for the lack of posts. Work has been insane this week.

Posting will resume next week.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Machinima Monday: Wrought

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Horse of a Different Level

In case you didn't hear, Blizzard is changing mounts again.

Look around the internet, you'll see plenty of posts both for and against this change. Currently, I'm leaning towards slightly against, but I'll wait until next week to collect my thoughts and elaborate.

Until then, enjoy this conversation in Guild Chat last night between myself, my 2 Officers and our True-Newbie friend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'm Good

You have no idea just how hard this was for him to say.

So, now seems like a PERFECT time to plug Sam's Argent Tournament Strategy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Guild Life Part 2, Striking Out

That title can be interpreted two different ways. I was striking out on my own in the world, as well as... plain ol' striking out.

This is a continuation of this post.

When I left off, Bound by Honor had imploded completely. The GM transferred off server, leaving the Guild in the hands of her subordinates.

At this time, I was leveling my Hunter through Outlands. The Guild banded together, we did 5-mans for the first time in... well... a while. There was chatter, playing the game was FUN again.

Then, it happened.

The Guild that the instigators joined for their raiding completely dissolved within weeks. Big surprise there. They all retreated to their "alt" Guild. However, they did not have enough people to fill a whole raid. Guess who they came to for help? Yup... BBH.

We decided that anybody who wanted to run with them was welcome to, but there would be no alliance between our two Guilds. While we had major issues with those in charge, there were plenty of long-time friends who were just along for the ride, not knowing exactly what was going on.

Of course, I refused any contact whatsoever with ANYONE from that Guild because, well... I'm bitter. I lost a very good friend because of their stunt.

So, those that still wanted to raid tagged along with the other Guild. Then they started jumping ship, as well. At this point, Guild membership started dwindling. Others were leaving for greener pastures. Honestly, I have no ill-will towards them. If I were more aware of what was happening, I would have started looking elsewhere. But, I'm stubborn. I've been in this Guild for over 3 years, I am NOT leaving.

So, here I am in a dying Guild. Most members have either joined up for Raiding Guilds or just moved on to other Casual Guilds. And then... the leaders started disappearing. Not leaving, just... not logging on.

So, I carried on, in my empty little Guild, proudly carrying the Bound by Honor banner. When suddenly, I found myself with options. My playing time expanded from 2 days a week to basically whenever I wanted, but still limited. I could start my own Guild, inviting like-minded individuals.

Or, I could take over Bound by Honor!

I instantly sent an in-game mail to our 3 Guild Leaders. I did not want our Guild to die. If they're not playing often anymore, PLEASE give me ownership! I've been there since the beginning, I can bring it back. I had two RL friends on the server, one of which had been in BBH for almost 2 years, they could be my Officers.

A month goes by. The mail comes back. I send it AGAIN. Then, I gave up. I saw one of the Leaders had FINALLY logged on while I was at work, ignored my request, and disappeared again.

FINE. Screw you guys, I'll do it myself.

That weekend, Denarian was formed. I brought in my buddies to be my Officers. A few of the charter signees liked the concept and decided to stick around. I set up rules. We had an awesome bank. Denarian was going places. I did it. BBH would be reborn under my leadership. I even sent mails to all the still-active BBH members, inviting them to join us.

What comes after the top of the hill? The drop.

A week after forming Denarian, I recieved a mail from another of the BBH Leaders. It was basically, "Sorry I haven't been on. I would have loved to give you ownership, but I see you went in your own direction. Good luck, nice knowing you, I'm leaving the server."

Well HELL.

Okay, that's cool, I've still got my Guild... except all the charter members already bailed.

No problem... we'll just recruit! Well, the release of Wrath has essentially killed non-raiding Guilds. EVERYBODY with a little dedication and time can progress now. Well, what about those of us who don't?

Oh yeah! We're also cursed! Anyone who DOES join the Guild seems to completely forget their login information within a week. We have several Initiates in their 50s who haven't logged on in months.

So, here I am with my (now) three coworkers, filling out the Guild Roster with an army of alts.

Honestly, I'm not sure where we're heading. I've almost given up on recruiting in the game. Message boards are completely ineffective. Has the game really changed so much in recent times? Is the concept of a small, family-friendly, casual, play-when-you-feel-like-it Guild completely dead?

Internet! What are my options at this point? Transferring is not one of them. I am not leaving my friends behind, and I'm most definitely not paying to transfer a half-dozen characters.

Additionally, e-cookies to anyone OUTSIDE the Guild that can catch the reference in the Guild name.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Machinima Monday: The Culling of Stratholme

Nothing very original here, basically just a cinematic version of the Caverns of Time scenes. However, the editing is so fantastic that Alexander is a machinima creator to keep an eye on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Weekend Warrior 18

In this Weekend Warrior, we are treated to Denarian completely destroying Northrend. Junior and I needed the group quests so we could get the achievement and our Deathchill Cloaks. We grabbed Blue Knugget and went to town.

There are very few things two Warlocks and a tank-specced Death Knight cannot demolish.

This guy doesn't seem so bad

This guy... oh...

Hey! I know him!

The first of many 5-man quests we rocked that night, The Admiral Revealed. This is a bit of a hard quest to find, as the chain starts from an item that can only be picked up during the Intelligence Gathering daily.

You know he's important if the Lich King shows up for no reason

Banshee's Revenge, another 5-man. This guy was tough and took us 2 tries. Our tank dropped early on in his first phase, but was able to fly back and bandage during the cutscene. Thanks, Bliz! This then leads to the Battle at Valhallas chain. We were able to complete all but the last fight there with just the three of us.

Several more 5-mans later, Junior and I had our Achievements.

I still need to do the freaking Amphitheater of Anguish before I get the meta.

However, I did manage to get my Inscription up enough to make my Iron-Bound Tome!

I also managed to get my Ebon Blade reputation to Revered, grabbing the Sterile Flesh-Handling Gloves.

All in all, a fantastic weekend!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Links! 6/5

A Philosopher's Work is Never Started - Euripedes over at Critical QQ gives great insight into the various Mage trees, and the personalities associated with each. Fun read!

Remember to Wear Sunscreen - BBB gives the worst (or greatest?) commencement speech ever.

Roll Credits - Goodbye Stop

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Guild Life Delayed

I wanted to finish my Guild Life story tonight, but I am not feeling well. Apologies, but it will be completed next week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guild Life Part 1, The Fall of Honor

I've been meaning to tell this story for a while now. Writing about it, I can finally cleanse my soul.

Way back in the Spring of 2005, I was a young Dwarf. The game was new, it was fresh, everyone was excited to play. While slugging my way through Dun Morogh, I made a friend. The next day, said friend started a Guild and invited me. We were your standard group of newbies, just having fun in this new world.

Several days later, the Guild Master joined up with another Guild to be with friends, and invited me along for the ride. I was Ralken of Bound by Honor. I even had a GUILD TABARD. Back in those days, that was a pretty big deal.

BBH was an adults-only Guild. We were a mature, friendly, welcoming place. We helped each other out. We cheered each other on. When our first member reached Level 60, it wasn't just a personal accomplishment, we all shared his joy.

We were a family.

In those early months, I tried other servers, I tried Horde, but I could not stand to be away from my Guild. There was so much insanity flying around chat back then, it was nice to have a quiet home where I could be myself and enjoy conversing with my fellow players.

We knew how to have fun. We would have races and holiday parties. One night, when all the boys were PVPing at Southshore, the girls decided it would be a great prank to change the Guild Tabard to pink with teddy bears. Oh yeah, that was a blast.

I'm not exaggerating when I say I feel we had some of the best players on the server. We had the best Paladins and Priests I've ever seen, even to this day. I learned everything I know about playing a Hunter from my "elders." Knowledge I have passed on to other players over the years. I loved rolling in and smashing Scholomance, Stratholme and Blackrock Spire. I felt I had beaten the game when we took out Araj and his goons with 8 players.

As an adult Guild, we were not big raiders. We had jobs, we had families. We did what we could, when we could. In time, we graduated to running Molten Core Fridays and Saturdays, co-raiding with another Guild. It was good, it was fun.

Many developed a taste for more.

To make things easier, we merged with that second (and later a third) guild. Of course, as with all Guilds, drama ensued. The "top raiders" wanted more progression, better loot faster. The core of BBH was not down with this. Arguments were had, friends were lost, feelings were hurt. It was decided that the raiders could keep the name "Bound by Honor" and all the respect that came with it. The rest of us, most of the BBH originals, including the Guild Leader and most officers left to form Awaken.

Awaken was all the fun of BBH without the stress of raiding.

Awaken was a solid guild. It started growing. And growing. AND GROWING. In time, we surpassed 500 members, including alts. Now, there is a "glitch" in the system that causes major issues when a Guild surpasses 500 members. It's kind of hard to plan a raid when you can't even tell who's online. Well, we had a second Guild sitting around that noone was using. Shortly after the split, BBH imploded, leaving the original GL's bank alt as the only member. It was decided to split into a "Raiding Guild" and an "Alt Guild." A joint chat channel was set up and we functioned as two halves of a whole.

As a non-raider at the time, I remained in Awaken. As a long-time member, I was given the seniority of joining BBH, but I stayed where I belonged.

Some time later, shortly before the launch of Burning Crusade, my account was stolen. I lost everything. A week later, I had a mailbox full of Hellfire Greens and Gold. Mind you, BC Greens were a substantial upgrade over Old-World gear, and worth a significant amount of Gold at the time. Even though I only played a couple days a week, I was still a member of the BBH family. We leave no man behind.

Burning Crusade carried on. The most motivated among us reached 70 quickly. Karazhan runs were started, with a little success. Prince was downed a couple times. Some wanted to move on to Gruul, but we weren't ready. Of course, just try to stop the stupid from trying. Yup, more drama. Raid attendance was down, Kara runs were less and less successful.

There was an increasing number of members who grew frustrated. All the casuals were holding them back. Over a holiday weekend, when the Guild Leader was away, they staged a coup. They started kicking people, telling them BBH was becoming a full-time raiding guild. They invited all their big-time raiding friends. Of course, I have no idea what they hoped to accomplish. Once the Guild Leader logged on, they were all booted, regardless of Officer status.

The damage, however, was done. The Guild was in shambles. Many disgruntled members had already moved on. Awaken was merged back into BBH and we tried to carry on. We started having fun again for the first time in ages. However, the GL's heart just wasn't in it anymore. She wanted to continue with the game, but BBH was not the place to do it. After 3 years of playing Mom to a bunch of adults, she wanted to start playing for herself. She transferred off server, leaving the Guild in the hands of other long-time members.

I turned down an Officer spot. With my extremely limited schedule at the time, I felt I could not put in the time that would be required of an Officer. In retrospect, that was a bad decision.

To be continued in Part 2 here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Druid Karma

Way back in the 1.0-something days, one of my first alts was a Druid. He was fun, but back then Druids were painful to level. Cat Form was a total waste and Bear Form was nowhere as good as it is now. Boomkins were not even an option. Needless to say, I gave up on him.

Over the years, several more Druids were born and abandoned. I never really liked Cat Form, for some reason. I'm not terribly fond of the Balance spells, either. I just filed Druid under "classes I'll never level" alongside Priest and Mage.

Well, a couple weeks ago, BBB posted a bit of awesome that rekindled that old flame.

That weekend, I rolled up a new Druid, Drux, finally ditching the name I've used for the past 7 or 8 failed Druids, thinking that would help break the cycle.

The next week, what do I see? NEW DRUID FORMS! I take this as a sign from the Heavens to continue with Drux. I'm rather partial to the brown-and-green model, myself.

Yes, inspired by BBB, I'm leveling as a Bear. An offensive Bear, but a Bear nonetheless. I figure if I spec solidly into Feral and gear for Strength and Crit, I can be rather effective. Not as much offense as a Cat, not as much defense as a true Bear, but a nice combination of the two.

Of course, now I'm on that brutal doubleheader of the Poison and Sea Form quests.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Machinima Monday: WoW 101: The City Life

Part 2 of the video I posted a couple weeks ago.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Nerd Life: Comics are Fun Again

Any comic fan can tell you, comics these days are growing more mature with each issue. Granted, their core audience is growing older, and the medium is growing with it.

However, what about new readers? What about bright-eyed little 8-year-old boys (or girls)? Many major comics are becoming exactly what moms everywhere feared they were years ago.

Then, Marvel made one of the most brilliant and controversial moves in their long history.


For the past 40+ years, Spiderman has been the flagship title for Marvel. Sure, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man and others may have exceeded it in sales at times. Avengers has always been the core of the Universe's story. But Spiderman has always been the company's heart and soul.

We've grown up with him.

We've seen him fall in love.

We've had our hearts broken.

We were invited to his wedding.

We were together at the worst time imaginable.

Over the years, as with many books, Spiderman's universe was growing complex. Writer J. Michael Straczynski was introducing some interesting plot developments, but between joining the Avengers and all the big Marvel events like Civil War, he was unable to really bring them together.

Like many comics before, Spiderman was due for a relaunch.

This started in Amazing Spiderman #538, when, in an attempted attack on the now-public identity of Peter Parker, his beloved Aunt May is shot. This leads to the "Back in Black" event where Peter goes after those responsible, seeking vengeance.

Amazing Spiderman #544 starts the "One more Day" storyline, where Peter does anything and everything, legal and illegal to save Aunt May. His last resort is Mephisto, a near-omnipotent demon trickster. In exchange for saving May, mephisto wants one thing in return.

Not Peter's life.

Not his soul.

His love.

Peter and Mary Jane agree and Mephisto changes all of history. Peter and Mary Jane never got married. Spiderman's true identity was never revealed. It was a "Brand New Day"

Many fans were outraged by this. They canceled the subscriptions they've had since childhood. I thought it was brilliant. If Stan Lee says it's a great idea, then who am I to judge?

At the time, there were 3 regular monthly Spider-books, Amazing Spiderman, Sensational Spiderman, and Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman. Marvel took a huge chance and CANCELED the latter two, deciding to publish Amazing Spiderman three times a month.

"Brand New Day" started in Amazing Spiderman #546, and was the beginning of the almost-weekly publishing schedule. Instead of several writers and artists working on several titles, Amazing Spiderman features a team that collaborates on the issues.

Let me say, this change has made comics fun again. Spiderman is single again, hurting for money, trying to have relationships, work, pay the rent AND fight crime. It's a long overdue return to his roots. The schedule allows them to run one-issue stories without "wasting a month," while still doing larger, 6-issue "trade-sized" stories. Additionally, they can create large, branching, drawn-out underlying stories that would take YEARS to tell in a normal format. You can tell even the staff is having fun. The lost art of "editorial balloons" has resurfaced. Used to remind readers where plot threads came from, the editors and writers now actually use them as a storytelling device. They inform and entertain, even telling jokes and poking fun at each other.

If you're someone who has loved comic books in the past, but lost interest, do yourself a favor. Go to your local bookstore, buy a big cup of coffee and sit down with the Trade Paperback edition of "Brand New Day." You'll fall back in love all over again. I know I did.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Links! 5/29

The Purple Kodo: 13 Points of Blogging - Matticus, blogger extraordinaire, gives some great tips on how to own a successful blog. Granted, I fail at many of them, but "success" isn't really my goal, anyway.

What's Your Mage Bad At? - Even though it's his weakest skill, Gnomer gives some great explanation in how to use Amplify and Dampen Magic.

Stupid Mages and their Spawning - Fulguralis has one of the best posts ever.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exp-LORE-ation: Prepare to Die

Exp-LORE-ation will be a recurring, but not regular feature on Hardcore Casual. I absolutely love the story created by Blizzard and the wonderfully crafted world we play our game in. I will use this theme to explore some of the lesser-known aspects of the in-game lore.

Today's Topic: Father Inigo Montoy

When I first happened across the Father at Light's Hope Chapel in Eastern Plaguelands I laughed at the joke and continued with my business.

Several years later, while working on the Wrathgate questline, an interesting plot unfolded. Wintergarde keep is under siege by the Scourge, led by the Lich, Thel'zan the Duskbringer.

During the quest An End and a Beginning, Highlord Bolvar Fordragon shows up and converses with Thel'zan, saying, "So how, then, did Father Inigo Montoy, bastion of virtue for the Argent Dawn, become the embodiment of that which he hated most?"

Wait, what?

A further look at Thel'zan's Phylactery shows that indeed, this Unholy servant of the Lich King once used to be a Priest.

What happened there?

Back in the old days of Naxx-40, those strong enough to defeat Kel'Thuzad were given the quest to bring his Phylactery to the Argent Dawn. Yes, you give this item to none other than our friend, Father Montoy. He seems to be quite impatient to get his hands on it.

Some time later, (Remember, the expansions in WoW not only advance the story, but the timeline, as well.) Kel'thuzad is resurrected and Naxxramas relocated to Dragonblight. But, that's impossible. Without the phylactery, the Lich King has no way to bring Kel'Thuzad back.


Father Inigo Montoy, member of the Argent Dawn, Priest of the Light, betrayed us all to his true master.

As Thel'zan tells Fordragon:

Our lord, Arthas, saw in me the frailty of man.
"Serve me in life and i will promise to rend the weakness from your soul. To erase it from existence!" To be chosen... blessed by the Lich King in such a way.
So seve him I did... Were it not for me the glorious dead citadel of Naxxramas may never have returned to Northrend.

A wonderful bit of lore that those who have not been playing for years or those who don't read carefully will miss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Reason I Hate Night Elves

Okay, maybe not the only reason.

While slacking off this weekend, I once again attempted one of my greatest WoW hurdles: leveling a Druid. While doing this, I had an epiphany.

I think I may have figured out just WHY I dislike Night Elves so much.

Teldrassil is an exercise in frustration.

First of all, let's look at Teldrassil itself:

See all those mountains and caves? Yeah, that's a pain to navigate. Since there are quests that have you running back and forth all over the place, you can't just point down the road and autorun while playing Peggle.

Dun Morogh is complicated as well, but more compact. Goldshire is frakking huge, but very easy to navigate. None of the starting zones are perfect, but Teldrassil seems to be the worst, at least on Alliance side.

Next, most of the Elves I've attempted to level have been Leatherworkers. The Leatherworking Trainer is just outside Darnassus. That's a heck of a haul every 5-10 skill levels.

So far, minor annoyances, but really no reason to discriminate against an entire species, right? To be honest, the Elves THEMSELVES should be enough of a reason, but it's easier to justify this way.

Let's look at the classes available to Night Elves, and how well they perform at very early levels.

Warrior - No worse at low levels than anything else. Anybody can become one, so you rarely see Elf Warriors.
Priest - Can Priests do ANYTHING before level 20+?
Rogue - Terrible survivability without the damage to make up for it yet.
Hunter - Playing a Hunter before level 10 is one of the worst things anyone can do. Thankfully, my Dwarf Hunter was my first character, so I didn't know it COULD be any better.
Druid - Same as Hunter. Sure, you have spells, but nowhere near enough mana to use them much.

So, with the exception of Warrior, all these classes are brutal to play at Teldrassil level.

Finally, the quests. I despise these quests.

EVERY time through, one of the species flat-out refuses to drop one of its body parts. And it's a different headache each time!
Practically EVERY enemy in this zone either can heal, will run away at low health, or be completely impossible to pull less than 2 or 3. Usually all of the above. I don't mind multiple pulls every now and then, but every darn time is a bit annoying.
Too many "bosses" are completely impossible to solo pull. Since they're even tougher than the USUAL annoying enemies, this becomes very frustrating.
Then there's that place.

Sure, Hunters get their pets, Druids get Bear Form, Rogues become awesome and you can always just group up. But I don't want to wait. I don't want to grind. I don't want to deal with your average low-level NIGHT ELF player. A newbie zone should be quick and easy. I should be able to do the quests in whichever order I please, without needing to wait until level X to be able to attempt it. I should be able to just go on autopilot by this stage of my WoW career.

At Level 8, I should not be this frustrated. At Level 8, I should not want to just stop playing. At Level 8, I should not already be considering making it a Free Realms night.

How in the world did ANYBODY who made I Night Elf their first character continue playing this game?

Oh yeah, it only gets worse.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Machinima Monday: Crank Dat Druid Boy

A bit of an old one, but I've been feeling rather... Druish... lately.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Links! 5/22

Threat Generation - A (Brief) Discussion - BBB gives some great info on Threat. All tanks, DPS and healers should read this.

Going on Sabbatical - Saresa gets points for using "sabbatical" correctly. Sadly, we're losing too many good bloggers.

Martyr vs Command - K gives some great Retribution info.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sam's Stupid Name Award 2




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Toughness is NOT a DPS Talent

Small amounts of math incoming. I will keep the post relatively short to give your brains time to relax.

I would like to make one simple point. For Death Knights, Toughness is NOT a DPS talent.

Now, don't get me wrong, Toughness is a fantastic talent, both for tanking and PVP. However, taking this talent solely for the DPS boost through synergy with Bladed Armor is a mistake.

Let's assume your Death Knight has 10,000 armor. High-end gear with buffs will allow you to go well past this number, but it's a nice one to work with.

Bladed Armor, when maxed, increases your Attack Power by 5 for every 180 Armor.

10,000 / 180 = 56-ish
56 x 5 = 280

280 Attack Power is a very nice stat increase for 5 talent points. 14 Attack Power translates into 1 DPS. This is a 20 DPS increase for white damage, which is 60 extra weapon damage, assuming 3.0 attack speed. Many Death Knight abilities scale off weapon damage, and those that don't scale with pure AP.

Now, what about the benefit of Toughness?

10,000 x .15 = 1,500
11,500 / 180 = 64-ish
64 x 5 = 320
320 - 280 = 40

Forty. Trust me, 40 Attack Power is NOT worth 5 talent points.

If you're Frost or Unholy, those 5 points will have to come out of either your core Frost/Unholy talents (a very bad idea) or Dark Conviction. Trust me, 5% crit is a much better DPS increase than 40 AP.

If you're Blood, those 5 points will have to come from various Unholy talents. (And you SHOULD be sub-specced into Unholy as Blood, if you're serious about DPS) Again, not worth 40 AP.

Now, I usually go with the "play how you want" line. However, when I see so many people making a BAD decision, I feel it is my responsibility as a member of the community to educate. I mean, what else is a blog for, but to distribute information?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Machinima Monday: Gnomebusters

It's about time somebody took care of those creepy little guys.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Weekend Warrior 17

It's been a while since I posted a Weekend Warrior. Last time, we were helping Tirion Fordring hunt down Arthas' weakness.

He seems smaller

Although, he DOES bear a striking resemblance to a certain handsome fellow.

I don't remember Illidan showing up this much

Seriously, Arthas is popping up EVERYWHERE. While it's awesome that we get to see this major villain doing his business, it kind of loses its effect after a while. That being said, this is an AWESOME scene. It also proves one of my lore theories impossible.

And..... that's about it for progress. A pretty simple weekend.

Time for some more accomplishments, though!

Dagger of Lunar Purity, from the Argent Tournament. Yup, Welfare Epics for me. This thing is awesome and I dropped an Exceptional Spellpower on it. That glow was MADE for this weapon model. Self-buffed, my Spellpower is almost 1900, nice!

For the Hordies out there, the equivalent is Scalpel of the Royal Apothecary.

Magnificent Flying Carpet. Whee!

And, just for fun:

I rode around like that for quite a while. I even kept standing while Jousting.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nerd Life Buried Treasure: The Last Remnant

The Last Remnant is a Square-Enix developed RPG released for the XBox 360 last November. It was also recently released on PC.

Wait. 6 months? THAT'S a buried treasure?

Yup. Seeing as this game can currently be found in bargain bins everywhere it sure is. It will probably be hard to find in the near future. As with many non-major franchises releasing in the Fall, this game sold like crap. A coworker recommended that I try it out, so I picked up my copy for 25 bucks brand new. I expected a decent bit of fun, well worth the cost.

I was surprised. Shocked, even. This game would have been worth buying at full price.

So, why did I wait? Well, i have a limited gaming budget and that money was going to Fallout 3 and Wrath of the Lich King at the time.

Now, many other people did not purchase it for a more sinister reason. The game received widely awful reviews. Some major news sources (*cough*GameInformer*cough*) passed it off without ever giving it a chance. The battle system must suck since they never took the time to learn it.

Admittedly, the graphics were a horrible, glitchy mess. So, it deserved a mediocre score. However, saying the core of the game is not worth time because you didn't GIVE it any is a mistake. This was not isolated to any single source.

Those graphical issues have since been "solved." The PC version runs fine. With the New XBox Experience, you can install the game to your hard drive. This cuts down the loading times immensely. It also relieves most, if not all of the glitches. Now, that doesn't excuse the poor design, but it allows many of us to play a wonderful game we would have otherwise missed.

Now, allow me a minute to break down the small stuff:
The graphics are fine. Nothing mindblowing, but, much like Too Human, there's so much going on at once on screen that the overall effect is very nice.
Music is ok. Again, nothing special.
Sound effects are functional.
The voice acting is SUPERB. However, the battle speeches get repetitive after a while.
The story is serviceable. Not bad, but not Final Fantasy quality, either. It serves to flow the real meat of the game: The character and combat systems.

Your main character, Rush, is the only one you really need to take care of. He's the only one you have to equip. He's the only one you have to synthesize gear for. He's the only one whose skills you need to manage.

The other 17 (17!) active characters will all take care of themselves. When you pick up loot they can use, they'll ask for it. When they accumulate the proper items, they'll upgrade their own gear. When they level up, they'll pick which skills to learn. Your Generals will occasionally ask you how they should manage themselves, but aside from a few quick choices, it's all out of your hands. Now, I love character building as much as the next guy, but there's no way I would want to micromanage 18 frakking guys.

Combat is a blast. Instead of issuing 18 individual orders, you place your characters in up to 5 "Unions." Then, you issue command to each Union. It's all very streamlined. Tell them to attack, everyone will attack. Tell them to use magic, and those that can, will. Others will simply melee attack. Need healing? When you do, that option will come up. Fantastically brilliant. You can pick from many different formations, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

I spend a great deal of time testing out different Union combinations and formations, trying to get the most out of the system. Of course, major fights sometimes require their own unique strategies. It's all JUST difficult enough to keep you on your toes, but simple enough that you don't mind working with it. Yes, there's a learning curve, but the game builds you up slowly. You don't start with 18 people at the start, but slowly build up to an army.

My final verdict: If you enjoy RPGs heavy on strategy without becoming full STRATEGY games, you'll probably like The Last Remnant. If you can find it for a good price (and have space on your XBox hard drive) I definitely recommend picking it up. I've currently played for close to 50 hours, running around doing sidequests and building up my team, and I haven't even reached the second disk!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Links! 5/15

Affliction Warlocky Pet Choice Guide - Fulguralis has a nice guide to different Warlock Minions.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Can Be Seductive

Image courtesy of Penny Arcade

Yesterday Fulguralis posted a great Affliction Pet Guide, in which he states that he has "very little use" for the Succubus' Crowd Control spell, Seduction.

I happen to be an excellent Seducer, as thousands of ladies around the world can confirm. You think it's a coincidence that many of my most faithful readers are female?

What were we talking about? Right, Seduction.

The confusing thing about the spell is that it has a cast time of 1.5 seconds and THEN is channeled. This makes the skill a little hard to pull off. Here's my strategy:

This only pertains to PVE.

Step 1: Focus your target.

Right-click its portrait, type "/focus" while targeting the mob, or just use a macro.

Now, my Nazverre is a fragile little thing. She hates breaking nails. So, I want to keep the enemy away from her.

Step 2: Cast Searing Pain on the target.

Just one should do. You want the tank to be able to get the enemy off you when it's time comes up in the kill order.

This is doubly effective as it makes it very obvious when the Seduction breaks, as the enemy will be pounding on you. Make sure you're able to take a few hits when using this tactic.

You may also want to drop a Curse of Elements on the mob, just in case.

Step 3: Pull the enemy to a safe location.

You don't want damage from the battle to break your Seduction early, so pull the mob out of the way. If it's a caster, make sure to use line-of-sight to your advantage. Practice.

This is where my experience as an old-school Hunter comes in handy. Back in my day, Freezing Trap could only be used outside of combat, so you had to get it right the first try. Freezing Arrow? Please.

Step 4: Seduce!

Seduce the Focused mob. This way, you can continue DPSing the main target. You're probably going to want a macro for this.

Step 5: Recast Seduction as necessary.

Again, if you used Searing Pain, you'll know when this happens.

Seduction uses 24% of the Succubus' base mana. Basically, count on getting 4 off before she's spent. At 15 second a piece, that's over 60 seconds of CC, taking into account recast times. Sure, CC isn't as useful as it was back in the old days, but it's nice to have this trick up your sleeve. Your groups will be amazed that you can do something very few other Warlocks can.

I'm leaving the macro part out because, honestly, I'm terrible at them. I have some lame-functional thing that I use, but it's too embarrassing to post publicly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sam's Argent Tournament Strategy

A lot of people seem to be struggling with the Tournament. Jousting is not easy, but it's also not as tough as some make it seem.

I've read several other guides, and nobody seems to use my strategy.

There's Gnomer's guide, which is great for high-latency players or those who have extreme trouble reacting. It works, but it's a little too slow and doesn't always work.

Then there's Stop's guide, which is awesome, but a little on the difficult side.

What about the in-betweeners? Fear not, Sam's got your back.

This guide assumes you at least understand the basics of jousting. If you keep dying to the training dummy (looking at you, Junior) you may want to do a little research.

Step 1: 3 stacks of Defend. Standard.

Step 2: Engage

Step 3: As soon as your opponent gets to range, Charge.

Step 4: A second or so after making contact (about 2 strides), start veering to the left or right, depending on terrain. Yes, use your keyboard.

Step 5: As you come around, hit Shield Breaker repeatedly until it fires.

Step 6: Rush back to melee range and start Thrusting.

Step 7: Reapply Defend as necessary.

Step 8: Repeat steps 3-7 until victory.

OK, here's how this works. At Step 3, your Charge will carry you THROUGH your opponent, and you will be behind them. Apparently, the NPCs are keyboard turners and will be unable to attack you for a couple seconds until they get back around. In this time, you will exploit the range where you're far enough for Shield Breaker, but to close for Charge.

The key is to get your timing right, and it may take a little practice.

If executed PERFECTLY, you will get behind your enemy, come around and still be in Shield Breaker range. You will fire that off while they're still turning and get back to melee range before they can do anything. You have removed 2 stacks of their Defend and they've done nothing.

If executed WELL, you will get behind your enemy, come around and still be in Shield Breaker range. However, your opponent will also be able to come around and fire a Shield Breaker. You have removed 2 stacks of their Defend and they've removed one of yours. As soon as your cooldown is up, you can easily reapply and stay at 3 stacks.

If executed POORLY, you will get behind your enemy, come around but be too close for Shield Breaker by the time you get him in your sights. Your opponent may have been able to fire a Shield Breaker of his own. Worst case scenario, you each lose one stack of Defend, which you can again easily reapply. Your opponent will probably reapply as well.

If executed MISERABLY, you will get behind your enemy, but will run too far away, into his Charge range. He will possibly Shield Breaker and definitely Charge while you're running around trying to find your target. You have removed one stack of Defend, while losing 1 or even 2 of your own. You will have to try to regain your full stacks.

The key to Jousting is not killing your enemy. It's a game of chess involving wearing down your opponents defenses while keeping your own up. Of these two, your own well-being is more important. You will have plenty of opportunities to take down your opponent's shields, but may have a hard time fitting multiple Defends into your cooldowns.

If you practice my method even a LITTLE, you can definitely achieve the "POOR" result, and should often get "WELL" and "PERFECT." You will keep your stacks up while taking down your opponent's.

I have been able to take down all 4 Champions WITHOUT using a single Refresh Mount in between. I take 15-20% damage each fight. If I'm not paying attention, I may suddenly find myself with NO shields in the middle of a fight because they wore off without me ever needing to reapply.

Happy Jousting!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Machinima Monday: The Avenger (Trailer)

Trailer for an upcoming machinima from Dtbn.

This has the potential to be the best one I've seen since Craft of War.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Nerd Life Movie Review: Star Trek

Star Trek fan? Go see it.

Casual nerd? Go see it.

Nerd who's in denial? Go see it.

Person who beats up people who watch Star Trek? Go see it.

Seriously, this movie has it all. There are enough nods to the series' legacy to please the faithful, while still being completely accessible to non-fans.

How did they do this? JJ Abrams.

The studio has said the main reason they hired Abrams was because he HATED Star Trek. So, he took this wonderfully realized universe and made it accessible to the non-geeks of the world.

Many reviewers are going on and on about how amazing the cast is. I'm not going there. They're absolutely right, but here's all you need to know:

Zachary Quinto is Leonard Nimoy's long-lost grandson.
Karl Urban is an AWESOME "Bones" McCoy.
Simon Pegg is the man no matter what he does.
No issues at all with the rest of the cast.

The main area where this film diverges from tradition is the action. In previous films and TV series, missions always start out peaceful, the occasionally require a more physical approach. In Abrams' take, the younger crew takes more of a "shoot first, as questions later" approach. Kirk comes off as more of a cowboy than ever before, and it works. More action means more profit. More profit means more films to tell awesome stories in.

The story is... interesting. I have no real complaints, it's just radically different from anything that's come from the franchise before. It's cool seeing all these characters we know come together for the first time, and everything fits. One problem:

I hate time travel.

I went in to this film expecting the time travel plot device to be nothing more than a way to shoehorn Nimoy's "Old Spock" into the story. I couldn't have been more wrong. The time travel allows Abrams to create his own universe, without 40+ years of canon to adhere to. New stories with old characters.

A great movie. Again, go watch it. Highly recommended to anyone and everyone.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mission Successful!

Born of a joke, a stroke of inspiration and a complete underestimation of the time required, a brilliant idea was created many weeks ago.

A little over a month ago, 10 brave blog authors set off in a bold new direction.

Four weeks later, on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, we were successful.

That idea, that experience, that journey was Create Your Own Azeroth, our multi-blog, cross-community, WoW-themed Choose Your Own Adventure story.

While CYOA may have been my baby, I could not have done it without the help of 9 other fantastic authors. Well, I could have, but then I'd have far less time to not update my Death Knight Guide.

For those who did not follow the story (Shame on you! Go!) I would like to praise those other 9:

Byaghro of Casual WoW, for helping inspire the event.
Syrana of Sideshow and Syrana, for being our greatest motivator.
Jaramon of Deathcoil.org, for having the courage to kill our poor character early.
Fulguralis of Killing 'em Slowly, for signing up almost immediately, allowing me to believe this crazy idea could actually work.
Skipper from WoW Druid, for coming aboard late in the game and still delivering, when others had decided not to.
Creep from Creeping..., for NOT killing Corrigan when everyone else did.
Grimtorn of Me and my Ghoul, for having the flat-out coolest looking site of the group.
Snug from Circumspect Snug, for having the most difficult choice to end any chapter.
Ithiel from WoW FailBlog, for being the only author to sign up mid-story.

Also special recognition to:

Llanion from Mad Cow Chronicles, for being the unwitting inspiration for all this.
Kim from World of Warcraft Wanderings, for being our biggest supporter.
All the friends, coworkers and guildmates who helped convince me I could actually pull this thing off.

Thank you, everyone, I could not, WE could not, have done it without you.

Keep your eyes on your feed readers, for we will return with more stories.

However, if you or anyone you know would like to participate, PLEASE sign up! In order for our story to grow more epic, we need more authors.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Frost 3.1 (Death Knight 2-Handed DPS)

Another Tuesday, another talent build. This will be the last of my 3.1 talent posts.

Go here for my Level 71 talent build.

As always with my builds, keep in mind that this is optimized for soloing and small groups.

Tier 1
Improved Icy Touch: 3/3 The additional debuff is just a bonus. Icy Touch is a core Frost spell, so more damage is sweet.
Runic Power Mastery: 2/2 You'll be generating a great deal of Runic Power, so capping before you're through a rotation is not good. In 3.1, this talent gives the same bonus with 2 points that it used to with 3.
Toughness: 0/5 Standard Tanking/PVP talent.

Tier 2
Icy reach: 0/2 Fear PVP Frost Death Knights, even at range. 30 yard range on Chains of Ice is brutal.
Black Ice: 5/5 Changed in 3.1 to reduce the Frost bonus, but add in the Shadow. This is a nerf for 2H Frost, as the only Shadow damage we deal is Blood Plague, not even the Plague Strike itself. This is, however a buff to Dual-Wield builds, which gain major damage from Unholy talents like Necrosis. Still a mandatory talent, however.
Nerves of Cold Steel: 0/3 The only true Dual Wield talent in any Death knight tree.

Tier 3
Icy Talons: 5/5 This talent is not as great as you would think. A properly played 2-Handed build will only have roughly 20% of its damage come from auto-attacks. So, having those attacks come 20% faster isn't that amazing. That being said, it's not like you have anywhere ELSE to put these points, and it's a prerequisite for a nice buff down the tree, in addition to a small damage boost.
Lichborne: 0/1 Post-3.1, this is almost purely a PVP talent, now.
Annihilation: In addition to the glorious crit, this talent allows you to use Obliterate more than once per rotation.

Tier 4
Killing Machine: 5/5 Altered in 3.0.8 to be on a proc-per-minute basis instead of percent chance on crit. This balances the talent between Dual-Wield and 2-Handed builds.
Chill of the Grave: 2/2 Extra Runic Power is always good. It only amounts to 25 RP every 2 rotations, however. Still, every little bit helps.
Endless Winter: 0/2 Mostly a PVP talent. However, a completely free spell interrupt is a VERY nice ability.

Tier 5
Frigid Dreadplate: 0/3 Great for tanking. Good for PVP. Completely unnecessary for DPS.
Glacier Rot: 3/3 Any well-played Death Knight will ALWAYS have diseases up. 20% extra damage to 3 of your core abilities is amazing.
Deathchill: 0/1 Why don't I recommend this talent? It's pure DPS! Well, I feel Frost crits enough as is. I recommend it for tanking and PVP builds, when on-demand crits are incredibly useful.

Tier 6
Improved Icy Talons: The only constant buff in the game that can equal this is Improved Windfury Totem.
Merciless Combat: 2/2 Many DPS specs across all classes have a talent like this.
Rime: 3/3 That's a crap-ton of crit. Also, this now triggers off Obliterate instead of Icy Touch in 3.1. That's a buff to 2-Handed and a nerf to Dual-Wield.

Tier 7
Chilblains: 0/3 A Death Knight in Unholy Presence could kite mobs very well with this. Situational in PVE, but another great PVP talent. Now you're starting to see why I recommend Frost for Death Knight PVP.
Hungering Cold: 1/1 This is where I put that Deathchill point. Completely useless for DPS, but I like having an escape button while soloing.
Improved Frost Presence: 0/2 I MAY come back for this one later. Extra health in DPS mode is a nice buff.

Tier 8
Blood of the North: 5/5 Please refer to my Death Knight Guide for further explanation of Death Runes.
Unbreakable Armor: 1/1 A DPS buff and an "oh crap" button all in one talent.

Tier 9
Acclimation: 0/3 Tanking/PVP. Death Knight talent trees are incredibly versatile.
Frost Strike: 1/1 Yup. Frost's primary Runic Power ability.
Guile of Gorefiend: 3/3 You crit a ton. Extra damage is win.

Tier 10
Tundra Stalker: 5/5 15% to everything but auto-attacks is impressive. Assuming you keep Frost Fever up 100% of the time, this could grant upwards of a 12% increase in total DPS.

Tier 11
Howling Blast: 1/1 Hungering Cold used to be down here. Howling Blast was moved to reduce the amount of Unholy talents standard Dual-Wielders could take. An amazing ability for AOE situations.

Here's a look at what my "complete" future build. I'm still undecided on what to do with those extra 3 points. I may put them in Virulence or Rune Tap and the aforementioned Improved Frost Presence.

I may also look into the versatility of Death Rune Mastery.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Machinima Monday: World of Warcraft 101

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Nerd Life: Wolverine Review

First off: This review MAY not be based off the finished product. If I were to somehow view this movie weeks ago, this is the hypothetical review I would write. That imaginary non-movie would have the bulk of the finished plot in place, one would guess.

See where I'm going here?

Okay, first of all let me get something off my chest.

Deadpool is one of the most unique characters in the Marvel Universe. He's a fan favorite.

He's awesome in the movie.

For about five minutes.

Then they completely blow it. Let us never again mention the teleporting, eye-laser blasting, Baraka-sword wielding Merc Without a Mouth.

Aside from the Deadpool debacle, I have to say, it's not a bad movie.

The core story is very well done. They've taken some license with Wolverine and Sabretooth's origins, but it all works. Liev Schreiber plays a great take on Sabretooth while Hugh Jackman is just as awesome as ever in the role of Wolverine. Everything involving their past, Silver Fox and the Weapon X Program is very well done.

However, there's just not enough of it. Sabretooth is presented as the film's main villain, but in reality Stryker is the one that conflicts with Wolverine the most.

The entire rest of the movie is just a blur of forced fight scenes and character cameos. They advertise the movie with a large cast, including The Blob, Emma Frost, Cyclops and Gambit. While that's all cool, they neglect to mention that the scenes they show in the trailer are the ONLY scenes they have in the movie. It's as if the writers just sat around asking "How can we write another character into this movie, just to say he's in it?" Overall, the supporting cast does nothing to enhance the movie.

The film isn't BAD, it just misses on some key marks. Casual fans of the X-Men movies will probably like this movie quite a bit. Actual comic fans who have years invested in some of these characters can enjoy it, but will be left disappointed about the movie that this could have been.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Links! 5/1

Links! returns!


Warlockery: Affliction Very Short Term Damage - Nib gives some tips for single-target trash kills.

The Secret to Being a World-Class Healer - Honestly, I only skimmed this post, but Matticus is the man when it comes to staring at life bars.

Take Care - Megs is calling it quits. There's been a lot of this lately.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Create Your Own Azeroth: Stand Your Ground

This is a continuation of last week's post from WoW Druid.

The story originally started in Create Your Own Azeroth: Prelude right here at Hardcore Casual.

Stand Your Ground

Corrigan would like nothing better than to ensure the safety of the refugees. However, should their defenses fall, The Scourge would waste little time in running them down. No, the best way to help everyone is to stand his ground.

Corrigan makes his way to the center of the line. He whispers a few prayers to lift the spirits of his men. He reaches deep into his spirit to summon his devotion. Scourge strikes suddenly miss their marks, deflected by some unseen force.

Inch by inch, step by step, his soldiers gain ground. It is a long, brutal battle. It takes every ounce of Corrigan's focus to maintain his men. Wounds must be healed, spirits must be lifted, the exhausted refreshed. The day drags on and on.

As the sun descends and the day turns to dusk, Corrigan's vision falters. He stumbles, the taste of dirt, steel and blood filling his mouth.

When his eyes next open, Corrigan once again finds himself in his tent. None of its previous disarray can be seen. Rondrey pokes his head through the entrance. "Good, lad. Yer awake. Just in time, too. Wyrmbane's here to see ya."

Corrigan tries to rise but his muscles cramp. The best he can manage is to halfway lean on his side.

"Stay in your bunk, Paladin. You've earned your rest. The Light only knows how you and this ragtag unit of yours survived that assault."

"We... survived?"

"Yes, soldier. Many good men lost their lives, but in the end, The Scourge withdrew."

"Commander, the civilians?"

"All safe behind the walls of Wintergarde Keep."

"So, I am to be stationed in Wintergarde now?"

"No, Corrigan. It is no longer your responsibility to protect those people. The 7th Legion will ensure their safety. No, son, your next assignment is to go on the offensive."


Our story has ended for now. We will return with further tales of Corrigan and other heroes across Azeroth and beyond.

Interested in participating? Check out our message board. Always looking for more authors.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Enhancement 3.1

Time for Enhancement this week. Raising a few baby Enhancers in Denarian.

Again, go here for my Level 71 talent build.

As always with my builds, keep in mind that this is optimized for soloing and small groups.

Tier 1
Enhancing Totems: 3/3 Strength of Earth and Flametongue are two of our best buff totems. Making them better is standard. You'll need these for soloing tough Elites, as well as group situations. Sure your offensive Fire Totems will grant more DPS for yourself, but as I always say, Group DPS > Personal DPS.
Earth's Grasp: 0/2 A must for PVP. Not for this build, though.
Ancestral Knowledge: 5/5 Despite being a melee-heavy spec, mana is very important to Enhancement. Why Intellect and not straight MP boost? We'll see later.

Tier 2
Guardian Totems: 0/2 The buff to Stoneskin is minimal. However, the lower cooldown on Grounding is very handy. Not a bad talent, just better uses for these points at the moment.
Thundering Strikes: 5/5 Enhancement is all about the crit. Please note that this effects spells as well as melee.
Improved Ghost Wolf: 0/2 2 Points makes Ghost Wolf instant cast. While this is indeed nice, it becomes slightly irrelevant after you get your mount. You'll have points left to spend to get to later tiers, so if you want to drop them here instead of Enhancing Totems temporarily then respec later, that's a solid plan. Also, this is cool for PVP. Take that, Droods!
Improved Shields: 1/3 Nothing wrong here. I'll come back to max this later. One option is to drop the 2 points from Improved Windfury Totem here.

Tier 3
Elemental Weapons: 3/3 A Mandatory talent for Enhancement. Windfury is a large chunk of your damage.
Shamanistic Focus: 1/1 So nice that this is a passive effect instead of the old on-crit effect.
Anticipation: 0/3 While increased dodge is nice, you're better served killing enemies faster. Really more effective for PVP.

Tier 4
Flurry: 5/5 You'll be critting a LOT, so this will be up often.
Toughness: 0/5 See Anticipation.

Tier 5
Improved Windfury Totem: 2/2 Enhancement's third big totem.
Spirit Weapons: 1/1 Parry is good. Shamans cannot train that skill like other melee classes. You'll be very thankful for the threat reduction. This was modified in 3.1 to effect all threat, not just melee.
Mental Dexteroity: 3/3 Remember that Intellect back at the beginning? Here's where it comes in handy. This allows Enhancement Shamans to gear for more mana for attacks while still maintaining their offensive capabilities.

Tier 6
Unleashed Rage: 3/3 Again, you'll be critting often. 10% is a lot of Attack Power to be up almost constantly. Changed in 3.1 to give the same effect for 3 points instead of 5.
Weapon Mastery: 3/3 Well... yeah.
Frozen Power: 0/2 New talent in 3.1 Enhancement is becoming increasingly viable for serious PVP.

Tier 7
Dual Wield: 1/1 When Shamans learned to Dual Wield in Burning Crusade, I was sold. 2 big scary weapons are better than 1.
Dual Wield Specialization: 3/3 Dual Wield has a 24% increased chance to miss to compensate for the extra damage, so this is mandatory.
Stormstrike: 1/1 The damage is massive. The debuff is ridiculous. In 3.1, the extra 2 charges and 2 second cooldown reduction from the old Improved Stormstrike have been rolled into the base skill.

Tier 8
Static Shock: 0/3 A very nice talent for DPS. I prefer to level with Water Shield, but I will almost definitely come back for this later in an endgame build.
Lava Lash: 1/1 This doesn't really do much damage on its own. What is DOES do is make Enhancement Shamans want to use Flametongue in their offhands instead of the old Windfury selection. Why Flametongue? More damage here, Fire Damage on each swing and MORE SPELLPOWER! We're a true hybrid, here.
Improved Stormstrike: 0/2 I raised someone's Shaman-sense with this one. While I still stand by my statement that I feel this is more useful for PVP, I have to admit it's allure for PVE. While I never experienced mana issues with Shamanistic Rage, extra mana is always good. However, my current priorities are to max out Enhancement as quickly as possible, and get into those delicious Elemental talents.

Tier 9
Mental Quickness: 3/3 AP -> SP Brilliant. THIS is the talent that makes us the only true hybrid in the game.
Shamanistic Rage: 1/1 Kiss your mana issues goodbye. Once every 2 minutes, you can get it alllll back.
Earthen Power: 0/2 More PVP.

Tier 10
Maelstrom Weapon: 5/5 Okay, that's a heck of a tooltip to take in. When you hit with melee, you have a chance to gain the Maelstrom buff. This happens often. You will quickly gain 5 stacks of this. 5 x 20% = 100% So, basically instant-cast Lightning Bolts. Or Heals for those nasty Elites you'll be soloing with this talent.

Tier 11
Feral Spirit: 1/1 I love Fen and Gar. (That's right, you're only a true Enhancer if you name your wolves!) Their attacks regain my health and stun my enemies. Also, the Spirit Walking speed boost is AWESOME.

Here's a look at what my build will look like at level 80. As usual with me, it's not the optimal OMG build. However, it gives me everything I want for what I do.


About Me

My photo
A part-time player trying to exist in a full-time world. Guild Master of Denarian on the Azjol-Nerub server.


Image courtesy of Nexodyne

Current Goals

  • Haddar - Level 80
  • Tarmr - HERBS!
  • Samodean - Wyrmrest Accord Exalted
  • Samodean - Finish Northrend Quests


  • Watching - Primeval
  • Playing - Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood (DS)
  • Watching - Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
  • Playing - The Last Remnant (360)
  • Playing - Persona 4 (PS2)


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