Saturday, April 17, 2010


Sorry folks, but I've moved to !

Go go .com!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Gear Factor

I am going to start off by saying this outright - I hate gearscore with a fiery passion. Yes, it shows if someone is geared enough for a dungeon, but it doesn't show off their skill levels in the slightest. You could have all the gear in the world and still be a terrible player that stands in the stupid, pulls horrible dps, lets the tanks die, can't hold aggro, and so on.

But, how else do I know if someone is good to take for a run?!

You don't. You can't tell if a player is skilled by looking at their gear. You can't tell if they've done the content by looking at their gear (achievements can help with this, but not if the character is an alt). There are a lot of factors that make up a "good player."

First example:

We have a mage in our guild that joined us when TOC25 was hard content. He was barely geared for Naxx, and was still dragging around greens and blues. However, that mage topped the single-target charts because he knew how to play his class. It's a novel concept, but one that helped him immensely.

Triumph and frost bages are also incredibly easy to come across, it makes the whole concept of gearscore even more trivial. One could run nothing but heroics and gear up, and still be bad because they've never stepped foot into a proper raid.

Second example:

The warlock, known to my guild leader as the Lady of Lag. She had one of the highest gearscores in the guild. She was decked out for ICC25 before a lot of us were ready for it.

The problem? Her DPS sucked.

Lady of Lag would pull a whopping 900 dps on boss fights. She would proceed to blame lag (we had a DK who had a worse computer who topped our charts, thanks), having a headache (same DK raided with a bleeding head, and our tank recently ran with a lung infection), or being on her period. My guild leader and I, who are both female, were absolutely apalled by this.

She had a similar problem on her ret pally. Most of the damage she did was done with white damage, because she "ran out of mana too fast" from spamming exorcism.

I could also go on about our holy and prot paladins running heroics in judgement gear, but it might be going a little overboard.

The point, however, is that gear score would never have told any of us these things. We never would have known how incredible our mage is. We never would have known how horrible that warlock was.

I bring this up, because last night was a twisted ICC run. Our main paladin healer was running on her druid, our druid was MIA, so we brought in a (fresh) resto shaman, our main tank switched to his rogue to dps, and our off tank was main tanking with a Death Knight we rarely had room for.

I did have a bit more work to do myself (as a discipline priest), but we all did just fine. We killed bosses, we looted epics, and our severly undergeared shaman and druid did absolutely fabulously. I didn't carry them, they pulled their own weight because they knew what they were doing.

While I cannot force people to stop using it, hopefully people will start to think a little bit more about the various other factors of play before completely disregarding a player as bad because of lower gear.

For further reading on the subject, Altaholics Anonymous has an older topic on the subject, though still completely relevant... and will continue to be relevant until people realize that gearscore =/= skill.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stay out of the Stupid - Basics for the Beginning Raider

To a new player, level 80 raids may seem incredibly intimidating to get involved in. Fortunately, because of some relatively recent tweaks to the game, it's become easier than ever to hop into a raid, ready to go.

I just hit 80! What do I do now?

Congrats on hitting 80! If it's your first character, it's an incredible achievement. Now, you have a lot more options open to you to get started on raiding. But let's not get ahead of ourselves; you are probably still wearing some blues and greens from questing and dungeons. They will be very easy to replace using a feature most of us didn't have when we were leveling...

The random dungeon tool.

Chances are, you started using it at a lower level to find groups to get dungeon quests done. This is good... but it's even better at 80. You can now queue up for random heroics. Instead of just dropping gear, bosses will also drop triumph badges, which you'll need for later. The dungeon tool will also give you additional gold, and 5 triumph and 5 frost badges for your first random of the week.

Heroics may seem a little scary at first (they sure were for me!) but don't worry too much. While you may get the occasional person who will throw a fit that you're not doing 10k dps, people will, for the most part, be understanding that you're a fresh 80. It may even help if you say (especially if tanking or healing), "Hey, I just hit 80, so could you please be gentle while I gear up and learn?" Most people will be glad to slow down for you.

Now that you've started to collect badges through the Random Dungeon tool, you should start learning how to play your class. The official forums are a good start, but Elitist Jerks is a fabulous resource for all classes, specs and roles. They will explain what glyphs you'll need, the standard cookie-cutter spec, the gems and stats that will help you optimize your class, what gear to look for, and so on. They'll also give you the basic rotation for your spec, so you can be the best you can possibly be.

What do I do with all these badges that I've gotten, then?

So, now you've probably been running randoms for a while and have a nice pile of badges to show for it. In Dalaran, there are vendors in your faction's quarter where you can trade badges for gear. Normally, I try to replace my worst items first, so it will be easier to find groups later on. For instance, if you have the choice between replacing a green or a level 80 blue, chances are you'll want to replace the green first.

I have some okay gear now... where do I go from here?

If you are in a guild, see if you can get into a lower-end raid. They are, in order of easiest to hardest: Naxxramas, Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader, Icecrown Citadel.

Naxxramas and Ulduar would be ideal to start with, if even just for experience, but if you have the gear for it, Trial of the Crusader is a quick raid that drops plenty of good gear that can help you get ready to join people in ICC.

Okay! I'm ready!

Let's first make sure you're all gemmed and enchanted. Are you? Good!

Before you go, let's get you a little something to help you along first.

While this may seem like a cheap addon, Deadly Boss Mods? is incredibly useful for players with tunnelvision (like myself... all I see are boxes and pretty green numbers) to warn them to get out of the stupid, when a boss is about to punch you in the face, and all the nice warnings you'll need for boss fights.

What is the stupid, you may ask? "The Stupid" is one of the terms used to describe avoidable AOE damage. This means anything from black circles of pain on the ground, the pokeballs in Ulduar (really. Look at them. They're pokeballs!), or the fire in ToC. Don't stand in it. Chances are, it's not a buff. There are a few exceptions, like during the Hodir fight, but only if it's specified beforehand.

Another good resource to use is Tankspot. Watch Tankspot boss videos before fighting a boss for the first time. It will tell you everything you need to know about what the boss does, the phases of the fight, and what your roll will be in taking him (or her) down.

Some raid leaders (such as mine, bless her heart) are also more than willing to explain the fight beforehand, so it would be benificial to download Ventrilo so you can listen in. The raid will also probably be doing callouts too (Tank B, taunt!), so even if you don't have a mic, try to have it anyway so you're able to hear what's going on.

Is there anything else I can do to make raiding easier?

Yes! If you haven't already, there are plenty of interface and combat mods you can use to make your job easier.

I have a couple suggested over at my smaller blog, Penance, which can be found here. Those are mainly aimed towards healing, but a lot of the mods can work wonderfully for anybody.

If you're still curious and want to add more, check out Curse. I can't tell you which addons you MUST use, as, for the most part, it's personal preference. Find which ones work right for you.

All that's left now is to hone your skills by practice, practice, practice.

Happy raiding!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Account Security and You

Following up on my previous post on Gold Spammers, the amount of people performing such acts seems to be on the rise. Hardly a day goes by where I don't recieve one whisper or another trying to sell me gold, scam me into giving personal information for a "free mount," and other devious ploys to get an unsuspecting player to drop their guard.

The shared topic over at Blog Azeroth is one of the best I've seen in a while.

First of all, what is the problem, really?

I'm sure everyone has seen spam in trade or the body messages in main cities avertising a gold-selling service. The gold and items they sell does not appear from thin air; they have to get it somewhere. If not hiring people to farm for them, then by using trickery to gain access to your account.

There are mamy ways that they are able to gain access. One of the most common is a link on the forums from an already-compromised account that has you "log back in" to Blizzard services, or forcibly downloads a keylogger. I have also heard stories of people getting ingame mail, whispers or emails asking for their password to prove that the account is theirs for "security purposes."

Blizzard will never, ever, EVER ask for your password. They don't need it for anything. This alone is a huge red flag that this person sending you these message really isn't who they're claiming to be. Anything offering a "free mount" or "free gold" or anything similar is a sure scam; anything officially offered by Blizzard will be announced on the Blizzard website, and not through ingame means.

How can I protect myself when I'm not playing?

There was a (fairly) recent breach in Blizzard's security on the forums, where an ad was planting keyloggers on players' computers. When this happened, I took the opportunity to download NoScript and AdBlockPlus for Firefox. NoScript blocks any and all scripts from being started without your permission, and AdBlockPlus blocks all ads from loading and appearing. Combined, they create good security for ad-based keyloggers, but can do nothing for those that require you to actually go to a website and put in your information. Remember to always check the url when you get redirected from a link. It may only be a single letter off.

If you're running Internet Explorer, I'm sorry, but you're wrong. Internet Explorer is rightfully notorious for having gaping security holes, which can compromise your computer and accounts on various websites. I know it's hard, but try to stop using it. Really. Do it.

If you really must continue to use it, try getting an addon that blocks popups, and a variation of AdBlockPlus called HostBlock. I'm not entirely sure how well HostBlock works, as I don't use IE, but any ad blocking addon is better than none at all.

Opera is a lightweight and fairly secure browser. I was able to find a widget that works on Opera, Chrome and Firefox called Adsweep. Adsweep is essentially the same as AdBlockPlus.

Safari has PithHelmet and Saft for adblocking.

If you're using the same passwords for everything, stop. This should be obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people use the same password for everything. Things like emails can be pretty easy to get into, and once someone gets that when your passwords are all the same, you're screwed. Change them if they're all the same, use a combonation of letters and numbers (and symbols where applicable), and change them often. Don't use something easy, either, like dog1 or password0. Ideally, it should be a random string of letters and numbers. Try to avoid using things like names, birthdates (ex: 1980), locations, and common words and phrases.

An example of a strong password would be, say, 4k95a73y. This looks intimidating, but can be easy to remember: we have 4 kids, 1995 is our anniversary, and I was born in the year 1973.

A weak password would be something like billy1996, cat, password, 12345, etc.

The stronger your password is, the harder it will be for brute-force hacking to occur.

What else can I do?

Perhaps the most obvious, and one of the easiest things to do would be to buy an authenticator. They're very inexpensive ($6.50), are durable, and can help prevent a lot brute-force and even stupid missteps.

Authenticators are small keychains that generate a random string of numbers that are connected to your account via a serial number on the back of the device. If they are lost, broken or stolen, it just takes a phone call to Blizzard support to get it removed or replaced. Without the authenticator, nobody will be able to log ingame or into account management but you.

My guild uses the authenticator as one of the requirements for full, virtually unlimited bank access (known to us as Bank Trustees). I am one of the few people who can pull anything from any tab as much as I want, not only because I earned the right, but because I have an authenticator. It's less likely this way that our entire bank will be jacked because of hacking. Even if that does happen, we have a rank that we can be demoted to with zero bank access. It's a good way to avoid having your guild bank cleared out, which can take a while to restore.

Be smart, be secure.


Zan says: AdBlock and FlashBlock are available for Chrome, which are similar to AdBlockPlus and Noscript, respectively. Also be careful when you torrent or download things. It's best to steer clear of torrenting altogether, but if you really must, run a scan on all the files first.

An antivirus, virus scanner, and firewall are pretty much required. AVG Free is a free Antivirus software whose basic package also doubles as an anti-spyware, which is a plus.

Avast! also includes anti-spam features and a firewall. This one has been recommended to me numerous times by my comp-sci buddies.

I've also heard some nice things about Avira, which has some nice features as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How to Annoy Gold Spammers and Obnoxious Players

Dear Gold Spammers,

Cut your shit.

Here I am, leveling my paladin in Borean Tundra, and I get 3 whispers from you assholes. THREE. That's within the span of an HOUR.

I had already made it clear I wasn't interested. That means that one is more than enough. I don't care if that's how you make your living. I am not going to spend MY hard-earned money working a REAL job on something that is likely to result in my characters being stripped, but my account BANNED. Also, I have an authenticator, so your devious ploys are futile.


That Priest

I actually normally run an addon that tends to confuse the hell out of spammers. I have to load it automatically though, since it's EXTREMELY out of date. It still works beautifully though.

Automatic Goblin Therapist is a relatively lightweight addon that adds people into its list when they whisper you. You can then move them into "surgery," which will prompt the addon to start replying to the other person. It's a whole lot of "tell me how you REALLY feel," which frustrates gold spammers and annoying players alike.

Just don't abuse it. I mean, you DO like your guild, don't you...?

Annoyance in moderation.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Where is Mankirk's Wife?

I already have a very specific WoW-related blog (for priestly things), so now here is That Priest's general WoW spamfest.

This is going to end in tears, I just know it.