IRL Prep for WoW Classic

World of Warcraft originally launched in 2004 back when I was in my early 20s and life was a lot less busy. I worked at Best Buy on a varying schedule, I lived in a one bedroom apartment and didn’t have anyone to care for other than myself. I first got into World of Warcraft when all my gamer friends seemed to be playing it. I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the performance issues with the MMO that I was playing at the time (SWG) so I figured it was time for a change. Of course, I didn’t have any idea what World of Warcraft was prior to its release. I had played Warcraft II and III, but didn’t follow the up coming titles since I was very much engrossed in the current game that I was playing. Since that time, I have become infatuated with new games and truly believe that the best time to play a MMO is when its new and the vast majority of players are experiencing it for the first time.

World of Warcraft Classic was announced back in 2017 when I was about 2 years into a private server obsession. I had fallen back in love with the prior expansions and was super excited to play the authentic version of Vanilla that all of the private servers had a hard time living up to. While I enjoyed several new MMOs this year I have had my sights set on WoW Classic as my new obsession. The game comes out tomorrow and between a spouse, kid and a house to maintain I have a lot more on my plate than I did 15 years ago. In order to make the most of this launch week I’m working hard to prepare!

Here are my quests for today:

1 Day before WoW Classic Launch here is my Quest list to be completed:

  • Snacks of Stormwind – Grocery Shopping enough food for 10 days
  • Prepare the Royal Kitchen – Clean up the Kitchen
  • The Soiled Garments – Laundry
  • Pies for the Boy King – Cook the following things – Meatballs, Lasagna, Roast Chicken, Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, Asparagus, Mini Cheese Cakes!
  • The Dwarves be Thirsty – Prepare Lemonade and Iced Tea for the week
  • Muck out the Stables – Clean the Bathrooms

Already Completed Quests:

  • Make Ready for Battle – Clean and organize the computer
  • Sharpen the Swords – Install addons, ensure PC is at top performance
  • Make it sparkle, make it shine! – clean the living room, bedrooms including dusting and floors
  • Update the Official Records – Reserve my character’s names on our server

Ready your battle stations. The day is nearly here!

Should I play a priest in WoW Classic?

I have a long history playing a priest in World of Warcraft. It was the first character that I leveled up to 60 and the character that I first experienced large group raiding on. I’ve often been teased about deciding to play a new class and then going back to play priest. It’s a pattern that I’ve followed for the past several WoW expansions.

Many claim that Priest is the strongest healer in World of Warcraft Classic. As a priest you will have a big variety of spells in your toolkit to help you with many different situations. You have strong single target heals as well as heal over time abilities and a group heal.

As a leveling player:

  • Pro: WANDS! One of my favorite things about playing a priest is that for the first 30 or so levels you will be using your wand as a large part of your damage. Wands are not effected by spell pushback and can often out DPS your mana expensive damage spells
  • Pro: Levitate is a great spell to have in your arsenal since some areas in the world of Azeroth have steep falls.
  • Pro:  Psychic Scream is fear that will send several of your enemies running scared for several seconds and is great to have when you are running the risk of being overwhelmed
  • Con: Psychic Scream a double edged sword. Sometimes you will seriously save your own butt with a well timed fear but you can also send the bad guys running into the arms of their friends….and then the friends come to help. So use with caution!

As a solo player:

  • Pro: A Priest has some great survivability if you are playing on your own. Since you have both damage and healing spells you can top your health up if you get too injured.
  • Pro: Shadow Form will reduce the amount of damage that you take by 15% and can make you a much more solid cloth-wearing-wizard out in the world
  • Con: Mana management can sometimes become an issue, but if you run out you can always use your wand to auto-attack mobs.

Playing with groups:

  • Pro: Groups are very easy to find since you will be one of the most sought after healers in the game.
  • Pro: Fearward [Dwarfs Only] is a buff that you can cast on yourself of friendly players to negate a fear. Fears are prevalent in the game in dungeons, raids and in PVP. When effected by a fear effect you lose control of your character and will run around (sometimes into more angry mobs) until the effect wears off.
  • Pro: You can buff party members with Prayer of Fortitude which will increase your party members health.
  • Con: If you want to be a competitive players in high level dungeons and raids you will most likely be asked to heal. Shadow priests have huge mana issues and are not a great option for most groups

Priest is the first class that comes to mind when I think of healing in WoW. As a priest you will have a large variety of heals and be in a position where you will be asked to join groups. I haven’t 100% decide what class I’ll be rolling in WoW Classic but priest is one of my favorites and a strong contender.

Should I play Mage in WoW Classic?

With August 27th just around the corner you may be asking: What class should I play when the game comes out? Mage is a great choice for many since they bring respectable damage, utility and the ability to teleport everyone to your major cities! Mage has been one of my favorite classes since I created my undead mage back when World of Warcraft first came out. Here are some pros and cons too keep in mind when considering mage.

As a leveling player:

  • Pro: You can conjure your own food and water. In WoW Classic you routinely had to sit and regenerate your health and mana bars before you were able to carrying on fighting creatures. Having the ability to create ‘free’ food and water are huge money and time savers as you level up.
  • Pro: Early leveling slows are great for fighting tough mobs. This enables you to keep some distance between yourself and everything else that is angry with you in the game.
  • Pro: Slow Fall is a great spell to have in your arsenal since some areas in the world of Azeroth have steep falls.
  • Con: you will be moving a lot while fighting. Mages are considered glass cannons and therefore will do high damage but will also take high damage if hit. I’ve found that of all the classes you are the least durable as a mage in general but make up for it with cooldowns like Iceblock and Ice Barrier.

As a solo player:

  • Pro: Great at killing stuff. As a frost mage you have the ability to group up several enemies at once and kill them slowly with your blizzard and cone of cold abilities. You can also spend talent points to increase your slow effects on your enemies and make it even easier to kite (run away from) mobs as you kill them. Here’s a deep frost build that can help you with some solo farming: https://classic.wowhead.com/talent-calc/mage/230001–05350233132351351
  • Pro: Portals are an easy way to make money. If you are available in a major city, you can almost always pick up some easy gold selling portals to other locations. That and you can quickly teleport yourself to difference cities.
  • Pro: great solo utility in spells and can play highly diverse play styles depending on how you spend your talent points.
  • Con: Mana management can sometimes become an issue, but if you run out you can always use your wand to auto-attack mobs.

Playing with groups:

  • Pro: You will probably find it easy to find groups since mages bring good ranged damage and the ability to Polymorph humanoid mobs.
  • Pro: As a mage you can create food and water for your group at no cost to you.
  • Pro: You can buff party members with Arcane Brilliance which will increase mana users intellect and mana pool.
  • Con: If you are the only mage in a large group, creating water for everyone can take up a ton of your time.

You should play mage if you enjoy playing ranged classes with a large variety of abilities. If you enjoy people needing you for things like portals/water/sheeps this will be a great way to fill that people pleasing need. Mages are strong in both PVP and PVE content. If you enjoy having just one main character and spending time in all aspects of game play in WoW Classic, mages are a great choice.

Revisiting WOW Cataclysm

I have many fond memories of the 2010 World of Warcraft expansion Cataclysm. It was my last two year of college and the last time that I was able to spend a good amount of time gaming. I was in a great guild that I will play with on and off over the next 9 years. I was part of their raid team for 2 raid releases and had a blast. In 2011 I got to attend Blizzcon and meet up with several of my guildmates as well as dozens of players on our server, Illidan. It may be the rose colored glasses but Cataclysm will always be one of my favorite expansions because of the relationships that I built and those memories of kicking butt.

For the past several months, I’ve been playing on the WOW private server Apollo. Instead of playing one of my tried and true class, I dove into something new to me. I created a Night Elf Druid which is something that I have never done before (I know! It’s a shock to most people when they find out that I’m a girl). I spent my time exploring the zone that had been completely changed due to the wrath of Deathwing and to my delight. I realized that this was my first time leveling in these zones, even though I’ve been playing World of Warcraft intermittently since the game was initially launched. I had the pleasure of floating around a flooded Thousand Needles and got to explore a wonderfully revamped Ungoro Crater along with many more new and improved areas. Experiencing these zones for the first time made WOW seem like a brand new game.

Of course by the time I got to the end of my leveling experience I discovered that I wasn’t really interested in the gear grind and the scheduled raiding that typically goes into endgame raiding on private servers. I spent most of my time farming and leveling up professions and trying to make a bit of money. One of the ways that I measure success in an MMO is how well I can make money in the game. If nothing else, this experience on the private server drove me back to play retail WoW so that I could further explore the early zones and have my progress saved forever on my 15 year old account. If I’m going to be leveling up characters for fun, I might as well be unlocking heritage armor on my allied race characters!

As a final gesture, I split my remaining gold between those folks in my guild that were kind enough to answer my dumb questions and make me feel included. Enjoy the gold! I know that you all will get more use out of it that I will.

Diving into Dauntless

Dauntless first caught my eye 2 years ago at PAX East. I tracked down one of the developers working the booth to see what this game was all about. He asked me what kind of games I played. Naturally I told him that I was big into MMOs like World of Warcraft. He went on to tell me that this game took your traditional MMO dungeon run and slimmed it down the fun part: Boss Fights! Instead of spending time tediously killing the grunts blocking your path, you are faced with one brutal enemy with interesting and challenging mechanics.

We put him through the ringer. Lava is no match for me.

Combat in Dauntless is an action system where you learn the best way to mount your attack and the best time to get the eff out of the way (ehem enrages). The zones remind me of the 3 man quickie instances in Skyforge where you are dropped in and have a quick run to the final boss. The zones are lush and there are plants that you can gather for crafting. Some of the behemoths that you fight become familiar, and as you work your way through to the harder monsters they become more sophisticated versions of the owls and lizards that you fought in your first few adventures.

Is my sick gear making you envious?

My first impression of character design was that it seemed to be a mix between Wildstar and Fortnite. The armor sets that I’ve seen so far range in aesthetics from ninja turtle to hungry viking. This game is free to play and the cash shop offers a multitude of different emotes and cosmetics for your character. The crafting system is sleek and make sense for the newbie (me). It’s a refreshing change from the sometimes overwhelming systems in your typical MMO or dungeon crawler.

The character progression systems is based on craft your armor and weapons using the skins of the behemoths that you kill. Later you get cores which grant special abilities and resistances to your armor and will be more important as you skill up. You can select 4 different special items to use during each fight. These items include healing potions, items that buff you for a period of time, grenades, and probably much more than I have access to at my current level 7.

Fighting style depends on the weapon that you are welding and can be switched quickly through your Loadout interface. This means that you are not locked into a specific play style and are free to experiment with the different weapons. I’ve come across a few bugs so far, which is to be expected since the game is currently in Open Beta. Overall I’m having a blast hunting monsters and look forward to exploring the later game, social systems and see how far my dollar goes in their cash shop. Happy hunting and see you in game!

Pax East on the cheap – where to sleep

Where do we sleep at PAX East?  The answer is the bean bag chairs!  I’m kidding of course. 

If you have ever been to Boston, you know that one of the big expenses of visiting the beautiful city is the rental of a bed, or other surface, to sleep on.   The first year that I attended PAX East we got passes just for Sunday to try it out.  This was eight years ago and we’ve been attending every year since.  This month I will be going over what I’ve learned over the years attending gaming conventions.  Last week I talked all about what to eat to save money at PAX, in this post I’ll be talking about where to sleep while you’re in Boston.  When planning a big trip like PAX East I always start with a general budget.

Sample Budget:

  • Convention Badges
  • Lodging (hotel, airbnb)
  • Flight/Train tickets
  • Driving (gas, parking at event and at hotel)
  • Meals (coffee/breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
  • Swag/Souvenirs
  • Taxi/UBER/T-pass (to and from airport or convention center)
Decompressing in the beanbag chairs at PAX East

Lodging: I’ve found that it’s best to make plans for where you will be staying as soon as you know the dates of the event. Usually this is before tickets go on sale. In my experience, it does not pay to wait till the last minute.

  • Hotels: The Westin Boston Waterfront is attached to the convention center but you will pay an arm and a leg to stay and eat there. I’ve found that it’s best to shop around in the surrounding area. Many of the hotels in the area have shuttles that will run from the hotel right up to the door of the convention center. You can see a list of hotels and shuttle routes here. If you find a hotel that is not listed check your maps, often there will be a shuttle stop within a block of hotels that are not listed.
  • Airbnb: If we have a group of us going we have been opting to rent a local apartment or house. Not only is this often cheaper per room than staying at a hotel, but you get a kitchen which can be used to save your group even more money! We usually try to find a rental within a mile of the convention center so that we can walk if the weather is nice but also we can take an UBER for a reasonable amount if we would rather not walk.

You may be wondering: Is it worth your time to stay further away from the convention center?  Lets first look at this as a math equation.  

Assume that we can save $100 per night by staying 8 miles away.  

UBER – $24 per day (assuming $1.50 per mile) 

Driving – $45.28 per day which is $9.28 (assuming $0.58 per mile in gas and wear & tear) + parking at the convention center $18.  The parking at the hotel would be there if you were had your car parked there the whole time or if you moved back and forth each day, so for that reason I’m not including it in my figure.

The second thing to consider is how much your time is worth.  If you value the time to travel to and from the convention center more than you value the money that you would save, you’re better off staying closer and paying a little bit more.  

 

A few things that I look for when finding a place to stay for the convention:

  • Fridge – I save some money if I’m are able to store food in our room. It increases the variety of snacks that we’re able to bring. We’ll also save leftovers from eating out and sometimes grab some beverages to keep in the room (hotel pregame anyone?) Just don’t get too loud or risk your party getting shut down.
  • Want a way to keep beer cold for just the night? You can buy a bag of ice and if you are lucky enough to have 2 sinks, fill one with ice and your beverages. A box and a plastic garbage bag can work in a pinch as a makeshift cooler.
  • Proximity to parties/convention center. There are a lot of offsite adventures to be had after the show floor closes for the day. You can find a list of parties and events outside of the convention center on the Penny Arcade forums. A lot of these events require you to sign up ahead of time. There will be unofficial meet ups all over the conference area if you want to play it by ear.
  • WiFi – Check the hotel reviews for wifi. I’ve found it to be very hit or miss depending on where you stay and if they offer upgrades to their wifi. I often rely on wifi over my cell service for streaming/tv channels and also to save data on my cell plan.

My hotel room checklist

  • Google chrome or amazon firestick. Some nights we are beat but want to watch the streamed events that are broadcasting on Twitch. We have netflix and amazone prime, so it’s nice to have easy access to those services.
  • Laptop is a must anytime we travel. It’s an easy way to read up on the companies that you are interested in visiting on the show floor.
  • Headphones if you’re staying with friends or family. There’s always one person that wants to stay up later than me, (spoiler alert: it’s my husband) the headphones allow him to watch a show or play a game without the sound keeping me up.
  • White noise machines are amazing. If you are not use to all of the city noises you will want to explore some white noise. You can also use a white noise app or the bathroom fan to help block out the sirens and car horns that drone on throughout the night.
Taking a moment on the sky-walk to soak in all that the show floor has to offer.

What’s most important is having a clean, safe place to crash for the night. Trust me when I say that you will be exhausted at the end of the day. It may be tempting to explore the convention all day and party all night but make sure you allow enough time to decompress and rest up for the days ahead.

Pax East on the cheap – all about food

It comes as no surprise that I’m a big lover of video games. When it was time to my gaming fandom to the next level many years ago, I decided to check out Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). Conventions are not cheap events to attend and it seemed like each year we were shelling out more and more for hotel, travel, and event tickets. So now, I like to head to PAX each year with a plan and a budget to keep us on track.

Sample Budget:

  • Convention Badges
  • Lodging (hotel, airbnb)
  • Flight/Train tickets
  • Driving (gas, parking at event and at hotel)
  • Meals (coffee/breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
  • Swag/Souvenirs
  • Taxi/UBER/T-pass (to and from airport or convention center)

In this post we are talking all about food. You will probably want to eat while attending the convention. There are a lot of options to fill your tummy in the area with different advantages and costs to each.

  • Restaurants – There is no shortage of dining establishments in the area but this would involve leaving the convention center, maybe paying for an extra coat check (you may laugh but paying a few bucks every time you leave adds up). In my opinion, the quality of food is better than eating at the convention center. You can expect to pay $15 or much, much more depending on your restaurant choice.
  • Food Trucks – If you venture just beyond the sliding glass doors there will be a variety of food trucks lined up and waiting for your business. I’ve found the food trucks to be hit or miss. My rule for food trucks is to always go for the ones with a big line. This may go against your instincts to get food as quickly as possible, but trust me when I say that you probably don’t want to eat at an empty restaurant or a dead food truck. Expect to spend $12
  • On Site – There are vendors in the convention center with a large variety of food but be prepared to wait in yet another line to eat. Last year the on site dining did not offer alcohol and I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer on if it will be offered this year. If you like your beer with lunch this is something to keep in mind. Expect to spend $8+
  • Packed Lunch – We’ve been attending PAX East for the past 8 years and we only eat out for every meal when we were staying at a hotel with no fridge. Fueling my body with a bunch of junk was not a good call. The best thing that you can do to save money on food is to hit a grocery store at the start of the convention weekend. If you do not have a fridge where you are staying, get some sandwich bread and peanut butter and fluff. While you are at it, grab some pastries for breakfast as well. One loaf of bread will yield 9 sandwiches. This will run you about $0.72 per sandwich.

Brown bagging your lunch is the way to go! Not only will you save roughly $10 per person, per meal but you will enjoy a more satisfying and healthier option to the food that you might otherwise consume. We pack all of our snacks and lunches the morning of the event and usually get to the convention center shortly before it opens at 10am. March in Boston is usually cold so we won’t worry about the temperature of our food staying warm for too long if we decided to head over early and wait in line outside. You will want a food that tastes good cold or room temperature.

We usually plan the following food schedule:

  • 8am – Breakfast at the rental/hotel – pastries, eggs, toast
  • 11a – Snack of fresh fruit or anything that you brought that you don’t want sitting in your bag all day
  • 1pm – Lunch time! We usually do sandwiches and some light sides to go with
  • 3pm – Snack of nuts, jerky, granola bar or anything else that we brought
  • 6pm – Dinner back at the room. We take turns cooking and will usually do something easy to make and satisfying. Little prep is the name of the game!

Here are some lunch ideas:

  • Sandwiches – Peanut butter is probably one of the cheaper options but deli meat sandwiches are also great.
  • Salad – Load up on dark leafy greens, protein, cheese, veggies and your favorite dressing.
  • Pasta/Potato Salad – best done in batches if you are traveling with a group. Or this can be done at the beginning of the trip and portioned out for the week.

My Favorite Snacks:

  • Seeds or nuts
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Granola or granola bars
  • Fruit leather
  • Cheese sticks
  • Raw carrots or other veggies
  • Jerky

No one knows your body better than you do.  So make sure you are making decisions about what to eat that will keep you satiated and avoid the bubble guts.  One of the worst experiences that you can have, is suffering through stomach pains when there is a whole world of gaming to explore at the convention. Any convention is not a great time to start taking iron supplements when you’re not used to them.  Ask me how I know.

If you are staying at a place with a kitchen, use it! We usually have at least one person driving in to the event and we will have them bring a crock pot for an easy meal that can cook all day while you are out exploring and be ready as soon as you get back to your room. If you are cooking from scratch each night, some easy meals after a long day of walking around are:

  • Tacos
  • Pizza – get already cooked crust
  • Chili
  • Chicken and Rice
  • Pasta

Don’t be limited by this list. Any meal that you are comfortable cooking and doesn’t involve a lot of preparation will work for these nights. The goal is to make it easier to cook than it is to spend the time finding a restaurant with open seating. Set yourself up for success and look forward to your meal at home. Your body will thank you later for not over doing the restaurant food.

Boston is a great city with some amazing restaurants. If you decide to take advantage, like we do, limit your eating out to one or two outings. We like to meet with local friends (guildmates) that live in the area and will usually eat out with them. I like doing one lunch and one dinner on separate days. We know ahead of time what days these will be on so we know where we are eating and when. I find that this makes our days much easier if we have things planned and we don’t have to make so many decisions.