Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Kam's not-guide to Children's Week

Having got the Noblegarden achievements over and done with, I now turn my attention to that most dreaded of festivals, the Children's Week. This one looks quite simple apart from the dread PvP achievement, so instead of a big guide, here is my To Do list:

Practise the PvP objectives. Hah I've been too busy gathering Noblegarden eggs.
Be able to do a UP run during the week. I probably have a group to do this from the guild.
Farm mats for the cooking dailies for 5 days - 30 chilled meat and 30 rhino meat. Done.
Gather northern eggs, small eggs, mageroyal and cakes, tasty cupcakes. Got 1 of each food Kam needs to eat for Bad Example.

How is your personal achievement progress going? Or are you not bovvered? :)

Sunday, 26 April 2009


Noblegarden starts today and so Kam hit Mulgore at the bright-and-early time of 7:30am to seek out some eggs. Thankfully Bloodhoof Village was fairly quiet so it didn't take long to gather some eggs. In fact due to a distracted wife, I had managed to gather the 180 chocolates I think I need by midday. Unfortunately I was wrong and actually you need to eat 100 chocolates for the meta!

I have already posted a guide to PTR Noblegarden which seems to be valid for the Live one. Some things I will add is don't hand in the starter quest which asks for 10 chocolates for a basket - the temporary basket works fine. Also the tuxedo clothes are not soulbound, so you can buy them or get them from guildies if you just want to complete the meta-achievement.

My top tip for egg gathering is to camp the above spot in Silvermoon, where the rabbit is. The eggs spawn inside the cart, next to the two posts and two spawn in front of the cart. All can be looted by sitting where the rabbit is.

I haven't actually spent the chocolates yet, due to getting Real Life ganked, but I just have another 100 or so to grind. Then just grinding for females of various races, planting flowers, etc is left.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Ulduar impressions

Such was the interest in Ulduar, the Elder Brethren ran two 10 man groups on Tuesday night. We weren't really competing for boss first kills, or anything. Kam was there on melee DPS duty, and we even had replenishment! I was impressed by the tactics available on WoWWiki and Bosskillers, in the early days of Naxxramas there wasn't all that much available. Here is what happened on the night:

Flame Leviathan
"Don't talk to anyone!" was the advice on zoning in. We stood next to our shiny vehicles of choice for a few minutes while the abilities and tactics were explained, then finally Kam was allowed to commandeer his battered Siege Engine and off we went. The trash and towers were somewhat like doing a Wintergrasp in their vehicles, the Siege Engine stream rush helped to catch up with the group when we got split up (due to utter confusion) but as a driver I didn't get to DPS a lot of anything. My gleeful gunner, a holy priest turned nutter, did all the fun stuff.

Top tip: there are 4 towers, and the Flame Leviathan encounter starts when you destroy the gates. We didn't realize any of this, and so started our first try with 1 tower up and several vehicles locked out. We failed.

Flame Leviathan is fun, although kiting it is quite straightforward and interrupting the Flame Jets it does is easy if you are in range and have enough energy. Big if. It was so easy we are considering trying on hard mode in future just to keep it interesting.

XT-002 Deconstructor
We had a crack at this giant child because it is the DPS test for the area, so the raid was interested in a free DPS checkup. The fight itself is quite neat, in the first phase melee can go all out and DPS his legs, in the second phase Kam and the rogue DPSed the heart, while the rest cleaned up the adds.

Magma Totem and Earthbind Totem came in useful at the end of the 2nd phase, where scrapbots walk toward XT. They needed to be killed before they reached him otherwise he eats them and heals himself. The AOE damage and slowing were quite effective, plus some old-fashioned face-smashing.

Unfortunately a few things went wrong, so we called the XT attempts after a few goes.

Razorscale, the giant proto drake, was a neat fight with several phases. Unfortunately (or not, depending on how you look at it) the adds which should come while we were avoiding fireballs and flame rings was bugged, so we had no adds whatsoever. This meant the first phase consisted of standing around, avoiding flame rings on the ground and waiting for the harpoon guns to be repaired.

When Razorscale was dragged to the ground for phase 2, all out DPS was needed, so Ghost Wolves were called, trinkets popped and Kam went in and did as much damage as possible. She has no threat table in the ground phase, so it's a really nice chance to do some damage. However, we saved Bloodlust until phase 3 because no one was taking damage. If there were some adds we might have thought differently.

At 50% health, Razorscale landed permanently and proceeded to follow the tanks, who kited her around a big circle. I used Bloodlust when the tanks had got threat, popped Ghost Wolves and everything and tried to kill her good. The only tricky aspect for melee was trying to keep at her side while the tank kites her around - think Grobbulus and the massive pain that fight is. Her wings are so large that when they are out straight, I couldn't see Kam at all!

On our 5th or so attempt we received the unwelcome message "Server Restart in 15 minutes". This clearly focused the raid and we managed to kill her with 8 minutes to do the loot before the server went down.

Overall I enjoyed our run into Ulduar. The fights weren't too much of a pain for melee, the FL fight is a nice fun opener, and I like that you can choose between three bosses after FL.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

A reader asks about 3.1 specs and improved ghost wolf

Wow, my first email question! This one comes from Charles. Charles says that my enhancement build is very close to Stoneybaby's from Big Hit Box except that I have 1 point in Shamanistic Focus and 1 less in Improved Shields. Is there a reason for this?

We also have 2 points in Improved Ghost Wolf and although Charles loves the ability to instant into a Ghost Wolf, he was wondering how valuable that is from level 70 onward.

Basically I've taken Shamanistic Focus for mana regeneration, because in our 10 mans we have a set of people who sign up for runs, and they are never the same each week. Thus we don't always have replenishment, paladin buffs, etc so I am erring on the side of caution. I am tempted to try Stoney's build instead because in Ulduar last night we did have replenishment and I did fine on mana. However we only did the Razorscale encounter. If I can get Kam into Naxxramas again I can try my build a little better and see if I am being overly cautious. There is an excellent article on BigHitBox called Enhance Mana Regen Abilities which spells out the choices for mana regeneration.

One thing to bear in mind is that replenishment "replenishes 0.25% of maximum mana every sec". This means that if your mana pool is large, you will get more mana back than if it was small. As better gear comes with more Intellect, a well geared Enhancement Shaman should have more mana than a less-well geared one. My enhsim simulation claims that I will go OOM more if I don't take Shamanistic Focus and thus do less DPS, but there's no substitute for real world testing, thus my temptation to try without SF and see what happens.

Improved Ghost Wolf is very useful in PvE to move around quickly, rather than mounting, and to run away! For raiding Naxxramas it's not useful, but I'm not a really serious raider so I'm willing to use those two points in Improved Ghost Wolf that I could have put elsewhere for more DPS. If at level 80 you are fine with using a mount all the time, then I would consider not taking Improved Ghost Wolf and getting more DPS instead. Stoneybaby also says IGW in Ulduar is very useful for Ignis, a boss we've not tried yet, so in that respect it may be worth considering.

Update: I've taken this 16/55/0 build, with 3 in Call of Flame and 2 in Improved Shields, mainly because I see Kam running Naxxramas a fair amount and AOE on trash is pretty much king in that place.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Patch 3.1 Post

Because I've not done much except spend the week waiting for the first EB Ulduar run today, I thought I'd do a standard Shaman patch 3.1 post. You know, like this:

Races: General
- Command (Orc Racial): Applies to shaman pets, and now correctly
applies to death knight pets.
This means the Spirit Wolves get a damage boost if you are an Orc.
- Gift of the Naaru (Draenei Racial): The heal has been changed to an
instant-cast heal-over-time.
You Draenei, you get free +1% to hit and now have an instant cast HoT. And are big and blue. What's not to like?

Classes: General
- Armor Penetration Rating: All classes now receive 25% more benefit
from Armor Penetration Rating.
Kam currently has an armor penetration rating of 0, mainly due to it being a bad stat. This change should make ArPen a lot more useful.
- The damage threshold for Fear, Psychic Scream, Hex, Intimidating Shout, and Turn Evil to break early has been significantly reduced.
I guess Hex will be breaking earlier with this change. I used to be able to take around 1/3 to 1/2 of a normal mob's health before it would unhex.
- Haste Rating: shamans, paladins, druids, and death knights now receive 30% more melee haste from Haste Rating.
Hot p**s! Kam has a haste rating of 118, so this is a direct buff.
- Mana Regeneration: The amount of mana regeneration derived from intellect and spirit has been reduced by 40%; however, talents that allow for mana regeneration while in combat have been increased. As a result, in-combat regeneration for classes with those talents will stay the same, while out-of-combat regeneration will be lower.
Now as far as I know, Resto Shaman don't really spend any time outside of the 5 second rule, so this change to out of combat mana regen shouldn't affect us a great deal.
- The Shaman’s Fire Elemental and Spirit Wolves, mage’s Water Elemental and Mirror Images, and druid’s Treants have all gained avoidance from area-of-effect damage similar to what warlock and hunter pets already have.
This means that our wolves and fire elemental should survive a lot longer when taking AOE damage. Hunter pet avoidance reduces the damage taken by AOE by some percentage, so your pet survived a lot better in shadow novas and that sort of rubbish.

- Bloodlust/Heroism: Cooldown reduced to 5 minutes, but Sated and Exhausted now last 10 minutes.
From reading elsewhere, this is a change for raiding so that Bloodlust is available for more boss attempts. The Sated debuff is lost when you die, so you can pop Bloodlust, wipe, then 5 minutes later Bloodlust is available again. Before this change, you would have to wait for 10 minutes before you could pop Bloodlust, even if the raid wiped.
- Earth Elemental Totem: The summoned Earth Elemental should now have significantly more health and slightly more armor.
Always good, this should make the Earth Elemental more useful for tanking, and definitely a better escape option.
- Fire Elemental Totem: The summoned Fire Elemental should now have moderately more health and mana, and its damage scaling has been increased. In addition, the Fire Elemental’s spells now cost less mana.
More DPS from the Fire Elemental and it's a bit tougher with the extra health and AOE avoidance.
- Flametongue Weapon: Bonus damage from spell power now based on weapon speed. Slower weapons will benefit more from spell power.
As posted by Ghostcrawler, Blizzard want Enhancement Shaman to be using slow weapons in main and off-hand, with FT on your off-hand. This change just makes that slow off-hand weapon do more damage.
- Frostbrand Weapon: Damage increased by approximately 20%.
This looks like a PvP change to make Frostbrand more viable in PvP for damage, in addition to the slowing effects it has.
- Mana Spring Totem: This totem has been redesigned. It now provides the same mana benefit as Blessing of Wisdom to the entire party or raid, but is exclusive with that effect.
This is one reason why Kam now has access to better mana regeneration than before. It doesn't stack with BoW but we have few paladins so this won't be an issue to Elder Brethren.
- Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem have been merged into Cleansing Totem. Cleansing Totem pulses every 3 seconds, down from 5.
As useful as it sounds - no more choosing between poisons for rogues or diseases for DKs in PvP, 1 less action bar slot and a general cleansing totem for PvE. The pulse duration change is also very welcome, although I think I will still need to use the Poison removal spell on Maexxna. Now can we get curses and magic on this thing please?

- Talents - Enhancement
Earthen Power redesigned: Your Earthbind Totem has a 50/100% chance to also remove all snare effects and make you and nearby friendly targets immune to them for 5 seconds when it pulses.
This will help greatly in PvP when we tend to get snared and sit there waiting to die, especially enhancement shamans.
Flurry: Now provides 5/10/15/20/25% haste instead of 10/15/20/25/30%.
Nerf! I hoped that the 30% more haste from haste rating change affects this, but the wording here is "haste" and not "haste rating", so I think you just get 5% less haste.
New Talent: Frozen Power: Increases the damage done by your Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Lash and Shock spells by 5/10% on targets afflicted by your Frostbrand Attack effect, and your Frost Shock has a 50/100% chance to root the target in Ice for 5 seconds when used on targets at or further than 15 yards from you.
So this buffs the damage on targets affected by the Frostbrand effect, on the spells which an enhancement shaman would use in their DPS rotation (note Lava Burst is not included). This says to me "can Enhancers please use FB/FT on your weapons in PvP". The frostbrand effect slows the target so they cannot run away, which they generally try to do when faced with an enhancement shaman. The frost shock change is clearly to give us options to keep targets in melee. I can see this being very useful for Enhancement Shamans in PvP where you can frost shock a player into chains, close to melee distance then get the frostbrand effect applied to stop the buggers from running away.
Lava Lash now has a new icon.
Very nice it is too.
Spirit Weapons: Now reduces all threat generated by 30%, not just physical attacks.
This is very welcome, as 30-40% of Kam's damage comes from spells, so he will generate a fair bit less threat.
Stormstrike charges have been increased by 2, and cooldown reduced by 2 seconds.
They've rolled the old improved SS into the baseline one.
Improved Stormstrike redesigned: When you Stormstrike, you have a 50/100% chance to immediately grant you 20% of your base mana.
A nice mana conservation talent for Enhancement Shamans. This is working out pretty well for Kam at the moment, although I haven't yet tested it out in a proper raid.
Toughness: No longer increases your armor. Instead, this talent now increases your total stamina by 2/4/6/8/10%.
A PvP change which should improve survivability.
Unleashed Rage: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. No longer increases agility, but instead increases your total expertise by 3/6/9%.
Well, if you've been reading other Shaman blogs, you will know this is massive for Enhancement Shaman. After maxing out hit rating, expertise is the next big stat to get to the cap. This talent helps immensely. Also the reduction from 5 to 3 points means more points to spend elsewhere.

- Talents - Elemental
Disclaimer: I haven't played Elemental since TBC so I direct you to Baluki's WoWblog and Elemental Adventures for some actual Elemental reactions.

New Talent: Booming Echoes: Reduces the cooldown of your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 1/2 seconds, and increases the direct damage done by your Flame Shock and Frost Shock spells by an additional 10/20%.
Damage increase for PvE...
Elemental Mastery redesigned: When activated, your next Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning or Lava Burst spell becomes an instant cast spell. In addition, your Fire, Frost and Nature damage spells have a 15% increased critical strike chance for 15 seconds. Elemental Mastery now shares a cooldown with Nature’s Swiftness.
Basically no more NS-EM and they have folded the instant cast aspect of NS into the new EM. However they also changed the guaranteed crit to a 15% increased crit chance, so your instant LB may not crit.
Elemental Reach: Now also increases the range of your Flame Shock spell by 5/10/15 yards.
Very useful as one of the spells you need to keep on a target is Flame Shock.
Lava Flows: No longer increases the range of your Flame Shock spell, but now increases your casting speed by 10/20/30% when your Flame Shock spell is dispelled for 6 seconds.
This is looking like another PvP change for when someone dispells your Flame Shock, you cannot Lava Burst them for a guaranteed crit, but instead can shove some hasted damage down their throats.
Lightning Overload: Reduced to 3 points (7/14/20%), down from 5.
More points to spend elsewhere is always welcome.
Storm, Earth and Fire: No longer increases the range of your Earth Shock or Wind Shock spells, but now also causes your Earthbind Totem to have a 33/66/100% chance to root all nearby enemies for 5 seconds when initially cast.
This is a bit of a pain if ES now cannot have as large a range as your other spells, but the snare effect of Earthbind will allow you to get range on mobs or other players.
Thunderstorm can now be cast while stunned.
Hah rogues, take that!

- Talents - Restoration
Ancestral Awakening: This talent now accounts for your ineffective healing, rather than effective.
Ineffective healing means all of the healing the spell put out, rather than the amount the target was healed by. This is a buff to the AA effect.
Ancestral Healing and Healing Grace have swapped places in the Restoration talent tree.
I think this was done to make Healing Grace accessible in the Resto tree. It reduces the chance DoTs and heals will be dispelled by 30%, which is a big deal in PvP.
Cleanse Spirit now has a new icon.
This one isn't as awesome as the Lava Lash icon.
Mana Tide Totem: This spell no longer costs mana.
Good. This doesn't really need spelling out.
Restorative Totems: Reduced to 3 points, down from 5. Increases the effect of your Mana Spring Totem by 7/12/20%, and increases the amount healed by your Healing Stream Totem by 15/30/45%.
Less points and a greater effect for Healing Stream. I've not healing anything yet with this, but I never used to use Healing Stream in instances anyway.
Riptide: This spell has a new icon.
I liked the old icon fine but whatever.
Tidal Force: Now has a new spell effect.
That is nice... for the rest of the party. Me? I was always too busy watching health bars to be seeing any sort of spell effects.

- Enhancement Shaman PvP Set Bonus: The cooldown reduction of Stormstrike has been increased to 2 seconds, up from 1 second.

Items - Glyphs - Shaman
Glyph of Earth Shield: Increases the amount healed by your Earth Shield by 20%.
This is a very nice Glyph as I would always have ES on the tank in a 5 man, more healing means less actual need to send a healing spell their way. Some testing is required.
Glyph of Feral Spirit: Your spirit wolves gain an additional 30% of your attack power.
Now that Enhsim has support for wolves, I can give this glyph a good simulated testing to see if it is worth dropping some other enhancement glyphs for.
Glyph of Hex: Increases the damage your Hex target can take before the Hex effect is removed by 20%.
I remain unconvinced. The Wowhead comments are right on - this should decrease the cooldown on Hex by 30-45 seconds instead.
Glyph of Riptide: Increases the duration of Riptide by 6 seconds.
This means more healing from Riptide and also you can keep it on 4 targets instead of 3. For raid healing it might be a go, for 5 mans I'm not so sure.
Glyph of Stoneclaw Totem: Your Stoneclaw Totem also places a damage absorb shield on you, equal to 4 times the strength of the shield it places on your totems.
PvP glyph. Want a shield? Drop stoneclaw.
Glyph of Thunder: Reduces the cooldown on Thunderstorm by 7 seconds.
The glyph of thunder already increases the mana gain from Thunderstorm, so this one is for PvP where you need to get those pesky rogues off you. Really they are like flies, if Thunderstorm could have some sort of swatting ability too, that would be great.
Glyph of Totem of Wrath: When you cast Totem of Wrath, you gain 30% of the totem's bonus spell power for 5 minutes.
A pretty nice effect which would make dropping ToW useful even if another Shaman has it down. Wowhead comments also suggest this may be better than Glyph of Lightning Bolt, ymmv.

Cleanse Spirit is now properly in the Nature spell school.
If you get spell locked in the nature school, I guess you can no longer be a'cleansing.
Tremor Totem: Now correctly pulses every 3 seconds, up from 1 second.
Ba****ds. I quite liked it pulsing every second... ;)

- Racials
Blood Fury: The tooltip on the attack power version of this ability will now tell how much attack power it grants to the orc.
This racial and the Command changes makes an Orc a seriously good alternative to a Tauren as a Shaman. But cows rule, you know?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Black Temple first impressions

Oh what, was I meant to be going to a different raid instance?

Because with every new patch comes chaos, both from the many addons I run, and the Blizzard servers being a bit unstable, the Thursday night raid was to Black Temple. Having never even seen the inside of TK, I was quite excited to hit the home of Illidan and try to get my mods and talents working.

I've finally gone with a 16/55/0 build, sacrificing one point in Improved Shields so I can take Shamanistic Focus. In our 10 man raid environment no class is guaranteed, so replenishment is still not generally available. However this time I wanted to try Static Shock and use a Lightning Shield, especially as the Tier 7 set bonus increases LS damage. I think Blizzard's design goals for Enhancement is to use LS and get mana from Mana Stream, Shamanistic Rage and now Stormstrike.

I'm pleased to say that I didn't have any mana issues during the run, our 20 man raid managed to get most of the bosses down despite not really knowing what we were doing, but being level 80 we could resist/soak a lot of the damage which I imagine would have killed level 70s. Although the longest boss fight was 3 minutes or so, I never had to use Shamanistic Rage once, so the build bodes well for "proper" raiding. We didn't have replenishment again, even with 20 guildies coming along.

Some of the fights were really cool too - the Reliquary of Souls was especially impressive and it's a real shame that more people didn't get to see them. The instance design is neat too, sometimes we where fighting in rooms in the temple, other times in the outside areas of the temple. I could almost imagine someone sitting in Shadowmoon Valley on their flying mount could be watching us fight our way to the top. I do wonder quite what Illidan was doing with a den of iniquity in his temple though.

Kam finally killed Teron Gorefiend, to make amends for his earlier mistake in Shadowmoon Valley. Unfortunately our crusade through the Black Temple ended at Mother Shahraz. It seems her Fatal Attraction ability, which is meant to target 3 members, actually gets applied to a group of 3, then another group of 3, then another... within milliseconds! Somewhere the cooldown has gone missing. The result is the whole raid was teleported together and then much death occurred. I'm still not convinced we could have done it without shadow resistance gear anyway.

The guild is due to hit Ulduar on Tuesday, which has predictably gotten massive interest, although I don't think Kam will be attending, so it's back to Naxxramas for some more spec testing.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Secrets of Ulduar

As we all know by now, patch 3.1 "Secrets of Ulduar" is out and churning the hell out of our hard drives. The cinematic is well worth a look, if only to deepen the dislike of the Horde/Alliance (delete as appropriate). Seems we are going into Ulduar because those whacky leaders of ours cannot agree. Oh, and for the phat lewts too.

Some highlights:

Fishing dailies. New fishing dailies! From Dalaran, no more porting to Shatt every day! Amazing prizes to be won, such as fishing rods which aren't as good as the Kaluak one, a non combat pet and some epic gems to flog on the AH for ludicrous gold, or equip in your favourite piece of loot. The rare underwater swimming turtle mount, fished from northrend pools, also deserves a mention.

Dual specs. Finally I can pick up a resto build and maybe actually use it. I may pick up this spec I read elsewhere, or some variant thereof. There is also an achievement for ponying up the 1000 gold for the dual spec.

Argent Tournament. A new grind to get 5 non combat pets, a highly expensive mount, and the possibility of paying huge amounts of gold for alliance non combat pets! I'm not sure how much of a grind this one is, I did the dailies once on the PTR then gave up. I have a suspicion the champions tokens for the vendor items will be limited to 1 per day, so 40 days for a pet or 200 for the mount. I hope I'm wrong about that too.

Some new raid instance! Not having done a lot of Storm Peaks quests, I have little clue what's going on there, but I hear there is some new place for our rabid raiders to get cracking on. Just in time too, as the guild has had their first kill on Malygos 10 and is clearing Naxxramas in like 2 days. I am, however, not looking forward to the inevitable loot/progression drama which will arise from this place... the Old God Yogg-Saron's influence reaches beyond the confines of the game world.

Noblegarden rammed right into Children's Week. The latest I read was that Noblegarden has been delayed until around the 26th, but this means it ends on friday 1st April, the same day Children's Week starts. /golfclap Good lord Blizzard, what were you thinking? Mount seekers, welcome to the busiest two weeks of your life! I can't verify these dates as the EU servers won't be up until 2pm.

Shaman changes. Quite a few Shaman changes which will let me grab Static Shock and hopefully not run OOM all the time, but I think the changes should be the subject of another post. Suffice to say, I'm hoping for an increase in enhancement DPS from this patch.

Not long to go now, come on you servers!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Kam's guide to the Noblegarden

I have been messing around testing Noblegarden on the 3.1 Public Test Realms, so here is what I've discovered thus far. This is also valid for 3.3.3 as I have run through the achievements again on an alt.

This post also contains massive spoilers for the Noblegarden event, so if you want to discover it yourself, don't keep reading!

The plot
Magical eggs are appearing all over the starter towns, bearing chocolates! A feeder quest is available from at least Silvermoon city, sending you to any of Falconwing Square, Brill, Razor Hill or Bloodhoof Village. Alliance will obviously be sent to your very own starter towns. There you will find a Noblegarden merchant who will offer you a quest to get your very own Noblegarden basket for 10 chocolates, and a mage who offers a daily to collect 20 egg shells, one shell per egg. The merchant also sells a variety of goods, in exchange for Noblegarden chocolates.

The mechanics
Brightly painted eggs will spawn all over the starter towns, mostly underneath carts, next to buildings and inside bushes. You just run up to them, right click one, and loot the Noblegarden Chocolate from inside. Now on an empty PTR, I have managed to loot around 50 eggs in 30 minutes. On a live realm, with 1/8 of the realm population in each, this rate will take a nosedive, and the festival seems very much designed around a Bun-Fight (or Smash-and-Grab if you prefer!).

Occasionally I have found the Spring Robes (1/40 chance) and Spring Flowers (1/40 chance) in an egg. Also, sometimes you will be turned into a Noblegarden rabbit, which renders you unable to cast spells, take a taxi or mount. This buff can be removed by right clicking, and happened once every 30 eggs or so. I have also looted the pet rabbit from an egg.

Once you complete the starter quest, you get your own Noblegarden basket which increases run speed by 60% for 10 seconds, with a 10 second cooldown. In other words, spammable. On the PTR, this stacked with the ghost wolf form speed increase. I suspect you will need this basket to get to eggs quickly. However you can also try camping the eggs on a busy day.

I tried wandering outside the starter zone towns to see if I could spot more eggs, but I could not. Tellingly the Noblegarden basket will not work outside the starter towns, it displays an error message saying it only works where Noblegarden eggs are found. They are only found in the starter towns.

The loots
The Noblegarden merchant sells a variety of items for Noblegarden chocolates, which are obtained by looting eggs. A noteworthy item is the Spring Rabbit's Foot for 100 chocs, which is a non combat rabbit pet.

The achievements
It's no secret that Noblegarden is now part of the meta achievement, so let's take a look at what is involved. * means not part of the meta.

I Found One!
Loot an egg. Easy. Part of the meta.

Chocolate Lover.
Eat 100 chocolates, looted from eggs. Part of the meta.

Sunday's Finest.*
Loot a tuxedo shirt or pants from an egg. The garb can be gotten from eggs, which is handy because the tuxedo shirt and pants from Noblegarden are not the same as the tailored ones. Not part of the meta.

Dressed for the Occasion.*
Loot a Elegant dress from an egg. The chance of this is lower than the other clothes from what I've seen. Not part of the meta.

Hard Boiled.
Lay an egg in Golakka Springs during Noblegarden. Eh? So when you are turned into a rabbit, if you stand stationary, you will sometimes lay a little brightly coloured egg. It's not lootable but its funny, especially as it rolls down inclines. The Blossoming Branch will put a rabbit costume on a party member, which means you can get to Ungoro, be turned into a rabbit, and lay your egg. Once you have been turned into a rabbit from looting an egg, you cannot cast, mount or take a taxi. So your only way to get to Ungoro is running, taking a zep or an orb of translocation (or maybe a summon). You do get 60 minutes on the rabbit buff so it is doable, and you can still melee attack mobs. Part of the meta.

Spring Fling.
Find your pet rabbit another one to love in each of the starter towns, where the eggs are spawning. This then requires you to collect 100 chocolates, or get lucky with an egg which according to, can contain a rabbit. Then I think you just need to have the rabbit out and find someone else with one, which shouldn't be too hard. Part of the meta.

Noble Garden.
Hide an egg in Silvermoon city. You can buy a hideable egg from the vendor for 5 chocolates. Part of the meta.

Shake Your Bunny-Maker.
Is this holiday themed around Playboy? Use your Spring Flowers to place rabbit ears on females of all races and factions. Once you have some Spring Flowers from either an egg, or for 50 chocolates, you target the victim and use the flowers. There is a 5 minute cooldown on this and the female in question must be at least level 18... so no creating level 1s on test accounts! You can use the Spring Flowers to put ears onto yourself, should your toon be female. Or you want rabbit ears. Overachiever has added this to its trackable tooltips. Part of the meta.

Desert Rose.
Use the Spring Robes you get in an egg, or purchase for 50 chocolates, when equipped and they will plant a flower in the ground. You need to plant a flower in the deserts of The Badlands, Silithus, Thousand Needles, Desolace and Tanaris. There is a mere 1 minute cooldown on the robes, so just a bit of travelling is needed for this one. Part of the meta.

Blushing Bride.
Ok and now onto the weirdest achievement of the whole damn lot. You need to wear the noblegarden-specific tuxedo pants and shirt (the tailored ones are different and will not work) and /kiss someone who is wearing the Elegant Dress. Whatever floats your boat Blizzard... This means you personally need to discover the tuxedo items, or pay a total of 50 chocolates for them, but also someone needs to discover or pay 50 chocolates for the dress. Top pulling tip: equip the dress and hang out in capitals or starter towns for guaranteed "action"! Part of the meta.

Thus far Noblegarden is shaping up to be a fluffy holiday for the bunny-obsessed among us, as well as hardcore (casual) achievement seekers.

The achievements Spring Fling, Shake Your Bunny-Maker, Desert Rose and Blushing Bride don't specify they have to be done during Noblegarden, the items needed are not time limited, so maybe they can be done later. This will help a great deal. There are 110 achievement points on offer here, including 10 from the meta, so a good chance to bump up your score.

Assuming no luck with the tuxedo and pet from eggs, you will need a total of 255 chocolates. I got very lucky and got the robes, flowers, clothes and pet from eggs, so only 105 eggs were needed. If you don't get the Spring robes and flowers, make that 355 chocolates. That's the same number of eggs to loot. It's hard to estimate just how long it will take to get even 180 chocolates - with the spawn rates on the PTR it could take about 90 minutes, but that's with no competition, and you won't have that luxury on live. H3ll no.

Links for other information
World Of Raids Noblegarden guide
WoW Insider coverage
WotLK wiki achievements
WoWWiki Noblegarden page

A gallery follows:

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I can haz Honest Scrap

So I was reading Pew Pew Lazers! who had been tagged for this Honest Scrap meme and imagine my surprise to see this little blog posted under the Shaman category, because "He keeps it simple and is always informative...". Then my chair proved inadequate to contain me when Shields Up! kindly said "While the wooden background of this blog is most irritating for my mind, the content is not". I would like to thank my simplistic mind for the mostly straightforward content of this blog, and blogspot for providing a theme I could steal reuse, although I must confess that the wood background is the only modification I made to the stock theme. Good job. Doh!

The rules of Honest Scrap are:

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

First teh blogzors:

  • Blessing Of Kings. No, I don't play a paladin, but I do read this blog because the author covers a wide range of topics, thinks about WoW and proposes a lot of really good improvements. Always thought provoking.
  • BigHitBox. This is where I get a lot of my enhancement information from, bonus that it carries posts from other melee types so that I might have a vague understanding of what they do.
  • The Big Bear Butt Blogger. This blog is pure awesomeness due to the massive rants, crotchetyness and posting of interesting youtube videos.
  • Hoof n'Healz. His healing guides for Karazhan were pure gold and there are some wickedly funny posts on there too.
  • Greedy Goblin. Gevlon makes our resident gold-hoarding warlock look like an amateur! His gold making tips often help Kam turn a few bucks, plus his Goblin Wisdom posts make for interesting reading, if you agree or not.
  • Tobold's MMORPG Blog. Tobold covers a wide variety of MMOs, although he plays WoW so there are always interesting discussions about Warcraft. He also tries other MMOs, so this blog is always good research for the Next Big Thing.
  • Random Ravings Of Warcraft. I don't play a rogue (apart from at the AH), but this blog is stuffed full of tips and guides for all my crazy achievement-driven play. Plus he's an Aszunite (probably the only other blogging one) and us lot gotta stick together ;)
  • Kaliope's WoW Crafting Blog. Although I've given up crafting, Kaliope covers every possible profession on her blog, from fishing to first aid, engineering to inscription. There is often some very good news on here from the Beta, PTR and the live realms.

Now for the disturbing honesty part:

  1. I love the smell of new books & magazines, that gluey scent of a new page unopened to the air. I tend to stick my head in new books and take a few good sniffs, while they are "still good".
  2. I can't remember dates of anything - the second someone tells me a date, I instantly forget it. This also goes for the dates of in-game events too.
  3. I would be a sci-fi fantasy geek, but I just cannot remember any of the details of anything specifically enough to truly qualify. Nor do I really care. As such, I resign myself to merely loving sci-fi and fantasy instead. Alien rules!
  4. I use the google reader to read all the blogs I check on, mostly because it is a very good aggregating tool, but also because my wife once mistook it for google mail, and you don't want to correct spousal assumptions that you are actually doing work and not slacking off. Ever.
  5. I hate noise very much, in fact I once forced my lodger to spec his new PC with expensive silent-PC parts, just so I wouldn't hear it. I forgot about his damn keyboard tho! My own PC is also quiet. Any noise outside, and you can bet I'll be the first at the curtains, twitching away. But if you don't want to get noticed, don't cause a ruckus.
  6. I am a code hacker by trade and, as is typical among my colleagues, have very mild OCD. It is undiagnosed but let's face it, you've all seen the many many posts about achievements. Damn you Blizzard and your achievements system! Can we have more cooking & fishing ones, please?
  7. I am a father of one, who I refer to as "the creature". Due to this, I know the words to all the songs from In The Night Garden. Yes, including the Makka-Pakka song.
  8. I am pretty much a petrol head, and although I dabbled with a coupe and a sports car, I've settled on an ordinary hatch back with a big turbo (known as a "hot hatch" around these parts) cos it will lug the baby stuff around but yet go fast. I'd still love a rear wheel drive like a 350Z one day... maybe when I have my mid-life crisis?
  9. I am not very competitive. I really can't get myself stirred up over DPS stats, big crit numbers or anything like that, which is why a class which can do some non-competitive healing as well as smashing things in seems ideal. The achievement points drive is of course mostly due to ODC...
  10. I bought an iPod Touch specifically so I could read WoW blogs around the house.

Nominees, expect some pestering in the near future! Now back to normal service.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Escape options for Shamans

I've been asked by friends starting new shamans a few things about the class, but they mostly end up asking "why am I dying all the time?" and "how can I escape bad pulls?", so I thought I'd jot down some ideas. If I can remember how it was levelling a shaman, that is!

Tauren War Stomp from level 1. This (and that cows rule) is the reason I rolled Tauren. When I rerolled Horde, I read a description somewhere that Shaman don't have very many CC options, so being Bovine is good for the 'Stomp. This is certainly true, when combined with another ability the Stomp can get you out of trouble and heading for the hills, screaming.

Earthbind totem from level 6. This totem is good to slow down any attackers, but it seems to have need a "tick" before it snares mobs, or the server has to realise that mobs are in its range. If you pull a big pack accidentally and can get this down quick enough, you may be able to run for it in the opposite direction.

Stoneclaw totem from level 8. This is generally useful when your carefully planned pull went wrong and you have add(s). Stoneclaw will not aggro your primary target, but it will control the add(s) for long enough for you to either try to escape with a single mob beating on you, or nuke that single mob down quick. However, it has very little health so really won't last long.

Frost shock at level 20. If you need to get away from a single mob, drop a Frost shock on them and run for it. When I accidentally pull 2 mobs, I would often Frost shock the add when it gets within 20 yards, thus splitting the mobs up. Then I would hope I could kill the first mob by the time the add reached melee combat range.

Ghost wolf form at level 20. If combined with War Stomp, you can just about get into wolf form as the mobs unstun. Then so long as you don't get stunned yourself running away, you're laughing. If you don't have War Stomp, get Improved Ghost Wolf which makes for instant Ghost Wolf, which you can cast while already running away. If you have War Stomp... I'd get Improved Ghost Wolf anyway, you're really laughing when you can stun a pack of mobs, shift to wolf and be 1-2 seconds travel away when they wake up. Suckers! TWS and GW was my number one method of escape from level 20 onward.

Earth Elemental Totem at level 66. He is on a 20 minute cool down, but in a tight spot, this guy will save you. He's got an AOE taunt which will pull aggro onto him, and is tough enough to survive for several seconds while you beat a hasty retreat.

Fire Elemental Totem at level 68. Unfortunately he doesn't have a taunt, but does a wide variety of fire AOE, so any adds you haven't peeved off will switch to attacking the fire elemental. With little health you'd best run fast.

Hex at level 80. This is the business and I was so excited when I read we were getting a CC all of our own. It's very annoying then that you won't be using this until level 80. It does exactly what it says on the tin... hex that add and beat up the main mob, hex the main mob & stoneclaw any adds while you run away. The only limit is that it works on beasts and humanoids only, and has a 45 second cool down. Beware that the cool down starts when you start the cast, so if you cancel a Hex you still have to wait 45 seconds to cast another.

Feral Spirit is the 51 point enhancement talent, so you can have wolves at level 60. These guys have Twin Howl and Bash, both of which will let you get away while the wolves tank.

Thunderstorm is the 51 point elemental talent which you can have at level 60. It does knock enemies back by 20 yards, unfortunately with the run speed of most mobs, they are on you almost immediately. Still, if you pick a direction you can at least thin the mobs out and have a fair chance of escape.

Having said all that, most of my low levels were spent pulling very carefully, and dying if it went wrong! Don't be afraid to spam LHW, its a quick heal and I would often end up in a competition between whether my mana bar or the mobs health would reach 0 first. A lot of these escape options have other uses too, but I won't go into them here, suffice to say sometimes you can turn the tide of battle instead of legging it. Stick with it too, now Kam is decked out in mail, instead of running from adds, he laughs in their faces, shortly before smashing their faces in with uber weapons.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A palomina dashboard and duel-muffler twins

I'm quite excited that Blizzard are working on a Pimp my mount feature for a future patch. From the looks of it, this should be a feature actually worthy of development effort, unlike the lacklustre Barbers shop we got in 3.0. Or that dance studio thing, whatever that will be.

Zazzber is clearly a version of Xzibit, but of course they missed out the good-old UK's representative pimper... Westwood. The customizations on display look ok, although an option to simply reskin the mount would be welcome... or it that reserved for Blizzard artists when they add a new "mount"? Chortle.
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