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Hello people of the internets.  Yes, it’s been a ridiculously long time since I posted, around three weeks in fact.  I do apologize for that, but I do have what I consider to be a reasonable excuse.  During the last few weeks, I’ve taken a big step back from blogging, simply because everything essentially blew up, and I’m not a fan of third degree burns.

You all know what I’m talking about.  The Real ID war with blizzard has been all anyone has been able to talk about, and I felt that since every blogger in the WoW blog-o-sphere was all over the topic, I could probably leave it to them.

I just can’t bring myself to ignore the topic all-together though.  It would feel like a betrayal of the unwritten contract of bloger-dom.  Thus, I am going to speak of this matter ONCE and only once.  Here and now.  And, Blizz-willing, I’ll never speak of it again.

Clearly, I’m not a big fan of the changes, I just plain don’t like them.  I wasn’t too thrilled with Real ID in the first place, but I wasn’t up in arms over it.  Only one of my “Real” friends still plays WoW, and he’s just returned from a very long absence (like since BC).  It simply wasn’t a feature I thought I’d get much use out of.  And that was fine with me.

If people wanted to use Real ID- more power to them, it just wasn’t my thing.  BUT- things got a whole lot worse than that, as I’m sure everyone is aware.

When Blizzard announced the insanity that was the Facebooking of the public forums, practically every blogger out there exploded with rage.  I could tell you it was a bad idea, poorly thought out, just plain dumb, etc.  But you all have heard that a million times already, so I’m going to say something that some bloggers may consider blasphemous.

Look at the other side of the story.

I’ve just sat back and let all this craziness unfold in the last few weeks, and I feel that *maybe*, just maybe, I’ve become a little objective about the whole thing.

Let’s assume for just a minute that Blizzard actually had good intentions at heart.  Let’s say that at least a couple executives were in favour of the change simply because they wanted to clean up the forums.

I’m not saying that’s the real reason for Real ID, but it could have been a part of it.

I’m not gonna sit here and defend Blizzard though. I’m NOT in favour of the things they tried to do to our game, and I’m not sure I entirely believe their motives were pure (Hell- I know they weren’t).  But the point I’m trying to make here is this.

I feel like I’m posting after a fallout.  After some kind of catastrophic war, where I’m the guy who somehow survived and now has to go take a look at all the damage.  I feel like no one really won here.  And all this insanity is not a good feeling.

Something you should know about me- I hate drama.  I have enough of it in my ‘real’ life.  I don’t need to deal with it in a game I play as a hobby.  This whole thing, in my opinion, should never have happened.  People on both sides of the divide should be taking steps to ensure stuff like this just doesn’t happen.

I agree, that if we’re gonna choose our battles, this was a good one to pick, it was something a lot of people didn’t like.  BUT- next time guys, can we please keep the casualties to a minimum?  Let’s all maybe take a step back, turn off the nerd-rage, and breath for a couple of days.  I’m not just talking about players.  Blizzard should do the same.  They should really consider what they’re doing, before they cause another disaster like this one.  A lot of accounts have been canceled, a lot people don’t trust Blizzard anymore, and that’s a real shame in my opinion.

Hopefully Blizzard can make up some of the damage they caused with Cataclysm lead-up, and Starcraft II.  But there’s no guarantees there.

Stuff like this doesn’t always just go away.

__________________________________________

There!  My ONE and only post about Real ID.  I’m done.  Seriously.  If there are comments I’ll respond, but that’s it.  I am NOT gonna let this thing eat up more than one post.

Let’s look forwards to the happy future!  Onwards!  To Cataclysm!  To raiding!  To… Stuff!

(Yes- Stuff gets a capital “s”- it’s just that important).

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This week’s shared topic over at Blog Azeroth comes to us from Spinks, at Spinksville, who asks the following question.

Cataclysm is coming! The old world is going to be destroyed and remade.

Which town, quest, NPC, or zone really needs to be purged with fire, in your opinion? Will you enjoy dancing on the ashes of a particularly hated quest giver? Or is there some zone you avoid like the plague (plaguelands excluded) where being nuked from orbit could only improve the experience? And why do you hate it/them so much?

This is a question that, with the new expansion on its way sometime in the not-so-distant future, has probably been on the minds of a lot of WoW players.  A lot still isn’t known for sure about Cataclysm.  How much of the Old World will be left?  Will old quest hubs even exist after the change?  And when is the thing even going to arrive?  And with all these questions up in the air, it’s only natural a lot of players start to ponder exactly what changes the new expansion will bring.

And on that same note, if we were blizzard, and we had the power to just hop into that code and make some tweaks to WoW, how  much would we change?  And what would we  change?  Or, more importantly… what would we destroy?
Throughout my illustrious career in WoW, there is one thing which, above all others, I have hated, despised, and abhorred.  And that one thing is the Barrens.

Now I know that we all know for sure that the Barrens are going to be redone.  There’s going to be a whole fun volcanic eruption type of thing going on, and it’s going to be pretty crazy.  According to the somewhat shifty information Blizzard has already provided, we’re going to be seeing shifts to volcanic craters in some areas, and lush wetlands in others.  I’ve seen a couple pictures of the volcanic apocalypse areas, and yes, it looks sweet.

BUT- it’s not the appearance of the zone which I dislike.  I play Horde, I’m totally fine with the desert wasteland sort of areas.  If I wasn’t okay with those, I would have leveled a Night Elf, with all their pretty early zones.  The thing I hate about the barrens is that it is, above anything I’ve experienced in the game- a HUGE drag.

Everytime I step into the Barrens with an alt,  I essentially lose interest in that alt, because I just can’t bear to submit myself to the horror of that place again.  I usually get through it… but with much crying and gnashing of teeth.  I feel on occasion that I’ll probably go pre-maturely gray, largely because of the Barrens.

What’s wrong with them?  Let me explain.

The size.  The barrens is a HUGE zone.  Baby orcs, trolls, and Tauren all go from Mulgore or Durotar (both of which are around half the size of the Barrens) into an enormous, sprawling mass of hills.  It doesn’t seem that bad, until you find yourself running from the Crossroads (on foot- because you’re still mountless in these early levels) to a  bunch of savanah-themed mobs and back again for the 90179874th time.   It gets old very, very fast.

But even that wouldn’t be enough to cause my hatred of the place.  I can deal with that, there’s plenty of other zones that have similar leveling styles.  It’s the fact that, after finally clearing your way out of the Barrens, you always end up going back.  You finished the area around the Crossroads?  Congrats.  Now go take a break, and come back in a few levels, there’s Camp T and Ratchet still!  My first time through the place, I was horrified to find that even in my mid to late twenties I still had some quests to finish up in that god-forsaken zone.

My issue with the Barrens boils down, not to its monotony, that’s just part of the Old World (until Cataclysm, that is), but do to the length.  You enter the Barrens at level 12, and even upwards of levels 26, 27, you’ll still find yourself going back.  I do not want to spent 15 levels in a zone.  That’s way too much.  I need to move on and have some fun somewhere else.

So, if I could throw something into the fire before Cataclysm, it wouldn’t be the look of the Barrens.  It would be the layout of everything inside them.  And with the huge shakeup in that zone, I can only pray I won’t find myself in the same horrible place, with a new, prettier skin.

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Woah.  That’s sort of all I’ve got to say right now.  If you’ve been following the Cognisance Council over the past week or two, then you know that I’ve been working on gearing my druid up for raiding.  That’s been my eventual goal at least.  But last Thursday, my guild was short a player for our regular ICC 25 run.  That’s right.  ICC 25.  Not even just ICC 10.  And just like that, I was whisked off into the hardest normal mode version of the latest content in the game.  Pretty crazy stuff.

Of course, before getting to a boss, a storm blew in and knocked out my wireless.  C’est la vie.  But the fact remains that my guild has, for whatever possibly misguided reason, recognized me as a raider.  That means that, if everything goes according to my loosely defined plan, I’ll take my first real steps into ICC next Tuesday evening.  With this whirlwind of PvE I’ve really not had time to do anything else.  Suddenly I’m mildly concerned that I need to rank up with three or four factions for enchants.  Suddenly getting Sons of Hodir all the way up seems really pressing.

Needless to say, I’ve been farming rep and random heroics like a mad-man.  I still need around 3 upgrades from random heroics, and I need to rank up with (I think) three more factions to get all the enchants I need.  With all this PvE craziness, I’ve decided to do up a post explaining just how to get raid ready.  And how to do it in a few days (which is what I’m trying to do… for better or for worse).

To start things off, this isn’t a comprehensive guide by any stretch.  It isn’t even really a guide, more of just some helpful tips to get you on your way.  If you’re looking for some really helpful guides, check out places like WoW.com.  For druids out there looking for gear, Shifting Perspectives (WoW.com’s druid column) has some great posts about gearing a new druid.  The resto version for my fellow trees can be found here.

Heroics, Heroics, Heroics.  If you need to get gear pre-raiding, heroics are the place to do it.  If you’re in a PvE guild (which makes life oh so much easier, trust me I’ve tried it without), ask around.  Usually people are more than happy to help a guildy out by running some quick instances.  Of course with the new LFG tool you can PuG anything relatively fast, but you’ll go even faster with guild-mates, especially if you’re a dps and don’t want long queues.  People you know will also pull all the bosses in an instance, instead of skipping to the last one for the two frost badges.  If you have no other option, PuG, but if your guild is willing, running with friends (even if you have to random one or two spots) makes life a hell of a lot easier.

Shop Around.  If you can, ask an experienced raider in your guild with your class/spec about what you should look for in gearing a new toon.  They can be extremely helpful and informative for people wanting to learn a new spec.  Even if you have a main raiding regularly, learning a new alt at 80 can be tricky without some help.

If you don’t have a veteran raider conveniently on tab, widen your search.  Hit up blogs and other resources for your class.  Generally speaking, most class-specific bloggers have some tips for gearing/ playing their class.  For instance, Mystic Chicanery has a great flow-chart basically explaining exactly how to gem up a new affliction warlock.  Even just googling the gear you’re struggling with will often bring up a solid list of opinions from the greater blog-o-sphere.  Post a question  on the forums (either official WoW ones or otherwise).  Use the community.  That’s what we’re here for.

Rep Up.  Although this seems kind of obvious (much like heroics), if you’re a totally fresh 80, work on running dailies to rep up with factions you need for enchants.  If you can spare badges, convert extra triumph to reputation from the vendors in Dalaran.  It might seem like a lot of work for a head, or shoulder enchant, but once you’ve got all your gear enchanted, it makes a huge difference.  It’s like the difference between running about without socketed gear, and finally breaking down and acquiring some gems.

Be Selective.  If you’re planning to raid with your guild, make sure you actually enjoy raiding with your guild.  Don’t run with a group of people you don’t have fun running with.  Whatever you end up raiding (10s, 25s, hard modes, etc.) it’s no fun if you don’t enjoy the people you’re with.  And this is a game (much as some of us tend to forget it).  Whatever you log in to do, always make sure you’re having fun.  That’s a big part of it.

Anyways, having read my brilliantly creative tips, go forth and pwn some bosses for me.  Seriously.  I’ll be here.  I’m waiting.  I want to see some dead Lich Kings with “Flairn” carved into their necks.  Just let me know.

Oh… and have fun!  That too.

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Although this is a couple weeks after the fact, over on the Blog Azeroth Forums, Nexdominus suggested a shared topic involving preparation for Cataclysm.

What are you doing if anything to get ready for cataclysm?

Although at the time, for whatever reason I never bothered putting together a shared topic post, I’ve decided to do so now, because very recently I’ve begun my preparations for Cataclysm.

Something you should know about me.  I hate leveling.  Like I really despise it.  It’s always been my least favourite part of the game.  But for some strange reason, I’ve recently felt compelled to roll the warlock alt I’ve been thinking about rolling for the past month or so.  I’m in the process of pimping out my level 9 god of warlockery (Shhh… don’t tell Gnomeaggedon) with heirlooms and I’ve decided to do something I’ve never really done before.

Actually take my time, and enjoy leveling.  Achibald, the new undead warlock (over on The Venture Co. US- my server of choice) is going to be my loremaster toon.  I’m going to run him through the old world, and just take in the sights.  After all, they’re going to be gone pretty soon.  I’m planning to just, really take my time, and breath in all the vanilla glory one last time before Cataclysm hits.

The reason he’s undead mostly because I’ve always really enjoyed that starting zone.  While when I first started playing I though “Ewww, how do people live with this?” I’ve since really begun to love it.  Maybe my Undead Death Knight was the inspiration, but something about that starter zone feels really cool to me.  There’s a great Left for Dead/ Resident Evil/ 28 Days Later/ feel to the whole place.

Basically the plan is to actually read quest text as often as possible, and to go through and complete Loremaster at level as much as possible.  I’d like to be able to hit Northrend and already have Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor, and Outland all wrapped up.  That would be pretty cool, I think.

A lot of people around the World of Warcraft are starting to work towards making Loremaster, simply because the quests are, in all likelihood, going to just go away, or not be available anymore.  And I want to experience all that great content as it was designed, at level.  Although I’m probably going to outlevel a lot of the zones and make that pretty impossible, I’m going to try anyways.

Besides that, I still really want to get my paws on an Invincible mount before the end of the expansion.  Downing 25 man hard LK might be a bit out of my range right now, but I’d like to see it happen sometime before the world goes and blows up on us.  After all, I’ve never been able to take down the big boss of an expansion before (I never hit max level back in BC and vanilla was before my time), and I’d love to see it happen.  Plus that undead horse is just sooo cool.

So anyways, that’s my plan as far as Cataclysm goes.  Experiencing all the old content at level.  I’m going to try to run every dungeon too.  It should be a blast.  I’ll make sure to keep you updated with any cool things I find while leveling my way up.  And thanks again to Nexdominus for giving me something to write about today, and probably a bunch of times in the future.  This should be fun.   And I can’t wait to finish everything off before the next expansion.

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In the World of Warcraft, tanks arte often portrayed and percieved as the “A Type” personalities of the game.  They’re the gun-ho, crazy people who, instead of staying back where it is safe- run screaming into the most dangerous parts of the world.  They are the adrenaline junkies.  The skydivers and roller-coaster nuts of WoW.

And in the WoW of today- the late-expansion play-style, where everyone is running about in T10, decked out in crazy ICC gear, tanks are almost under more pressure now than they are at the beginning of an expansion.  NOW, they have to deal with expectations.  Like being able to pretty much solo a heroic, or take huge hits like they’re love taps.  Some tanks can do this.  Some tanks live up to this expectation and excel under the pressure.  They are, quite literally, tanks.

I like to maintain that somewhere out there, there is a “Golden Tank”, the ultimate tank who is so good he doesn’t even need to be healed.  He just solos everything.  The tank who can run into a heroic, pull the whole instance, then grab a coffee while the dps AoE it down.  And my worry in this era of late-expansion playing, is that too many tanks try to live up to that unreasonable fantasy.

New tanks often bow to the pressure, and waltz into heroics, and actually TRY to pull the whole instance.  Even tanks that are grizzled veterans will sometimes bite off more than they can chew.  Is this a bad thing?  Well, when it wipes a raid… obviously- yes.  It’s bad to wipe.  Is it an unforgivable crime for which I would condemn a tank to an eternity in… I don’t know… the occulus?  No.  Of course not.  Tanks are human too.  But in the interest of preventing further wipes- I would like to put this out there to all the tanks, young and old, who find themselves occasionally doing stupid things.

Disclaimer: I do not play a tank.  I have tanked some low level randoms.  That’s it.  I am by no means an expert.  These tips are given through the eyes of a healer, and occasional dps only.  They do not reflect the best way to tank, and this is not a tanking guide.  More like tanking suggestions.

/end disclaimer

Tip #1–  When tanking, make sure everyone is ready before you pull.  There’s nothing we not-tanks hate more than having the tank glance at his health, see it is full, then run off into the pull, only to realize the healer and the mage were drinking, and the hunter was switching specs before the run.  Typing a quick “Ready?” into party/raid chat goes a long way towards common courtesy and keeping your party/raid/random/whatever happy.  People won’t complain or say “hurry up”.  They’ll thank you for being considerate.

Tip #2–  Pay attention!  Yes, as a tank your primary focus is keeping aggro off the squishies.  But if you find that the healer isn’t pulling his weight, or one of the dps is a fresh 80, take a deep breath, and  SLOW DOWN.  Seriously.  Pull one trash group at a time.  Give everyone a second between pulls.  Make sure everyone can handle it.  Nicely point out that the DK is dpsing in Frost Presence.  Although all classes and roles should pay attention, it’s especially up to the tank, who controls who pulls what, when.

Tip #3– Do NOT overpull.  This is my all-time biggest pet-peeve with tanks.  While gearing my druid to heal (I’m still in this process, just much further along), I once got a random Pit of Saron.  We reached the trash before the first boss, and the tank said this into party chat “Mount pulling.  Be ready with heals.”  I had no idea what this meant.  Mount pulling?  Huh?  Are the mobs on mounts?  The tank then mounted up and pulled every group of trash up to the boss.  Expecting me, the undergeared healer to heal through it, and the dps to AoE it down.

Take a moment and look at gear.  Notice that “Wow that healer isn’t raiding yet.  He’s in random heroic gear.  Maybe I should take it slower.”  And really, unless you are running with guildies, whose abilities you know inside, outside and backwards, you really shouldn’t ever be “mount pulling.”  You should pull in easy doses in a PuG.  Don’t expect everyone to be uber leet.

Back to my example tank- later on in the dungeon, at the point just before the ice tunnel leading up to the last boss, the tank ran up the steps leading to the tunnel.  Note that this was after I told him I wasn’t very geared, and asked nicely if he could take things a little slower.  He pulled all the groups on the hill he could pull, at once.  Never do this.  Never make a huge, ridiculous pull if you aren’t 342% sure your team can handle it.  And if the healer has already asked you to slow down… seriously?  Need I say more?

Tip #4–  My fourth and final word of advice for tanks from a resident Not-Tank.  Know your own limitations.  This goes for any class/role.  Know what you are capable off.  If you can’t handle showing off with enormous pulls- don’t.  Just step back, and take it easy.  People might not love going slowly, but I can guarantee they dislike repair bills even more.

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I’m sure that I’m not the first blogger to ask this question, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.  As I’ve gone from PvP on my druid into the world of PvE (raiding being my eventual goal), I’ve had to return to the world of being relatively undergeared for just about all the content that currently gets run.  I CAN usually make it into a weekly raid, but that’s about as far as my gear will carry me, and too far into Ulduar, I still can’t handle the content.

So, in a world of ilvl 277 BiS wearing raiders, the question that comes to mind, is just how important is gear, really?

Let me give you an example.  Yesterday the random dungeon finder saw fit to stick me into Heroic Pit of Saron.  Now, I was under the impression that without sufficient gear, one could not get into these new heroic 5 mans, as they are reasonably difficult.  All the same, clearly the RoF (Random Occulus Finder) counts my ilvl 245-251 PvP gear as raid pieces, and ignore the fact that they are of origin in the arena.

So there I was, stuck in the second hardest heroic 5-man in the game, with less than half my triumph gear.  BUT I managed to get through it.  It was a little tense at times, and one or two of my party died on each boss, but we made it through without any wipes.  I was pretty impressed with myself.

Later that evening, I found myself facing a new loading screen when I queued for a random heroic, and my heart sank.  “Please don’t be Halls of Reflection,” I prayed silently.  I knew that HoR was actually considered pretty tough, particularly in heroic mode (and since I was queued for a random heroic, of course it would be.

And yes, it was HoR.  For the second time in a row, I was put into a random ICC 5-man, in heroic mode.  For this third member of the ICC 3, I knew I was seriously undegeared.  We wipped twice on the third of fourth wave of mobs (right at the beginning) and I got a charming “wtf.  Bad heals”, and group leave by the tank.

Thus the question.  Were my heals really bad?  Resto healing in heroics is not complicated.  I stood where I should have been standing, and popped the same HoTs that some ICC veteran would have used.  I like to consider myself a fairly competant healer (if not in PvE, I’ve been PvP healing for quite some time).  I know my role.  But I just wasn’t geared for the content.

When gearscore first made a big splash on the scene, everyone all over the game, and the internet were all freaking out about it.  “What if my gearscore isn’t high enough?  What if I get kicked for not having raid gear?”  The same questions were asked again and again.  At what point does gearscore constitute skill at the game?  When does experience and capacity to play your role start to matter less?

The conclusion most bloggers reached, of course, was that both were needed.  You had to have skill, but without the right gear, all the skill in the world was irrelevant.  I can’t say I disagree with this stance.  I could have healed my way through HoR easily with better gear.  But, when it comes down to actual raiding, I have a somewhat different opinion.

Once you step into ICC, and you’ve been at it for a while, the gear really levels out.  Everyone is at the same level of content.  A good chunk of all the raiding guilds out there, are now reaching the Lich King, and that means the gear curve is leveling out.  Everyone is running around in tier 10 gear, with ilvl 264-277 raid epics (unless you only run 10 mans, in which case your gear is a little lower).  At that point, gear stops muttering.  On the leading edge of content, where you’ve stopped regularly upgrading your gear, most of the upgrades you get are going to be pretty minor.

Once you start min-maxing, and playing around at the endgame of endgame, gear isn’t really what it is where I am now.  What really matters is skill.  Although yes, I’m not a raid leader, if I were, I’d rely less on “Dude, wth, you’ve only got 3.2k gs- what are you doing with your life?”  And more on, “Hey look, someone who can play.”

In a world full of idiots that just like to brag about how good their gear is, I think people should really take a step back, and look at what really counts.

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And so it begins.

At the beginning of many great things, there have been an assortment of joyous celebrations.  There has been people cheering in the streets.  Hockey games stop traffic.  Elections shape countries.  And here we stand, you (the unnamed reader) and I on the brink of something truly grand.  Something fantastic.  Something so incredible and undefinable that I’m not even going to try to define it.  I won’t blame you if you shed a tear… or jump for joy.  Those are all perfectly normal reactions, because this is the beginning of something really, truly, special.

This blog.

If you are reading this, then that means you’ve already discovered this blog, and how incredible it is.  This is most likely because this is the very first post, so if you’re reading it, we are probably months in the future, and you just love the blog so much you came back to see where it all began.

So you’re reading this.

If you’re reading this as I post it, you probably want some information besides the very obvious fact that this is post #1.  So here it is.

My name is Flairn, and this is my third attempt at a WoW blog.  I’ve tried a feral druid blog.  A hunter/druid blog with a friend of mine.  A druid PvE blog.   I even (almost) started a DK blog,  since there just aren’t many DK bloggers.  But they all mostly went down the drain, do to my own laziness and boredom.

But for some reason, that urge to write has taken me again, and so I’m heading back into the blogosphere, head held high, spirits on the rise, determined to make it work this time.

What am I making work?

Well this blog of course.  You my dear, fond, friend (and probably only reader) have found your way into a WoW blog, about WoW.   It’s going to be a bit about DKs.  A little about Druids.  Maybe some PvP.  Heck, I might even start raiding.  But the bottom line is, this is THE blog.  This is the one I’m going to keep writing and finish.  If you want a specific niche of WoW, you’ve come to the wrong place.  A blog about WoW is niche enough for me.

So if you’re interested in hearing my inane ramblings about the game we all play, stick around – you’re in the right place.  If you want to be entertained for five minutes every day, then please, put your feet up and enjoy.  If you want to laugh, and cry, and become emotionally attached to something on the web, be my guest – try the couch, it’s lovley.

Because for better or for worse, you have found your way into the Cognisance Council- bringing coherence to the World of Warcraft since right now.

Good luck, and happy reading.

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