The Ebon Blade: illuminating the monk’s missed chances

Knights of the Ebon Blade in Acherus

Originating back in Warcraft II, the death knight has since made several transitions: from the bastardised remains of Stormwind soldiers and Shadow Council warlocks, possessed of free will and wicked intellect, through the runeblade-wielding, heavy plate warriors of Arthas’ Scourge, dominated by his will but incredibly strong, to the splinter sect of the Ebon Blade, liberated from servitude but not from torment.

Although a good deal of that story occurred within the earlier Warcraft games and the Death Knight manga rather than World of Warcraft itself, the Ebon Blade’s arc is not only well showcased in-game, a death knight character is invited to play through all their major plot points.

It’s this wealth of backstory and playable story that makes playing a death knight such an absorbing experience. I also feel it’s a trick the monk class failed to take advantage of.


The August screenie wall

So, August is over, and with it the Screenshot a Day challenge. Thanks go to Tycertank for issuing it in the first place! It's been pretty awesome swanning around the world, taking shots of whatever the hell takes my fancy. The Twitter hashtag is just a thing of beauty at this point, full of incredible screenshots from all the participants.

Below the cut are my thirty-one entries, making this the most image-heavy post I'm likely to put up on this blog. Be wary of that before you click onward! It does look fantastic, mind you. I have been staring at it for some time.


Death knight alt appreciation ramble


So, Laeleiweyn of World of Lae has started an alt appreciation initiative, whereby each class gets a week of attention from participating bloggers and tweetists.

I have been, in the past, a horrendous altoholic. Toward the end of each expansion I invariably start getting bored and start levelling alts. As a result, I have at least one of every class at eighty-five and above, although the number of alts to reach ninety has been pretty low, I have to admit. As much as I loved the Mists of Pandaria storylines the first time through, they don’t seem to have much replayability for me.

Que sera sera. One of the classes I love too much not to level is the death knight. This is fortunate, really, as alt appreciation is kicking off with death knight appreciation week. I have a slightly more meaningful post in the works. In the meantime, a ramble lurks beneath the cut.


More daily screenshots

15: the best

Wrath of the Lich King is my favourite expansion and Zul'Drak is my favourite zone within it. This is the region that really shows the scars of the war with the Scourge in a way the others don't.

Icecrown may team with saronite spires, but that's the Scourge at their most creative, adding colossal and often brutally beautiful architecture to a frozen wasteland. Borean Tundra might have necropoleis aplenty, but the Icehoof tribe have found new hope with the Horde and a good number of their losses are recouped when their chieftain resurrects them.

No such luck in Zul'Drak. The trolls have been thoroughly beaten and are in their death throes here, turning on their gods in desperation and rending huge god-blood scars in their city in the process. I love how everyone is in defeat here, and that the Argent Crusade are no exception. Down this path is the tiny quest hub that starts the chain to Gerk, whose closing quest text is some of the bleakest in the game: Gerk is dying.

There was really no competition for day fifteen's topic, best. This is the best, most gripping place to quest.


Failing at WoW Screenshot a Day

Paralysing Sha in the Dread Wastes for fun and screenshots

Alright, not completely failing. It's possible I actually won a thing, but I've been roleplaying so much lately (making up for roleplay time lost while on holiday) that I've maybe possibly a little bit fallen behind the Twitter parade of excellent screenshots, to the point at which one or two of these will've been disqualified for lateness. Oops.

That, however, is not the fail focus of this post. Instead, here's a big blog catch-up session and a long-winded explanation of the screenshot I just couldn't get.


WoW Screenshot a Day takes me back

Fresh water salmon

If you click the banner that'll take you to my entry for day four's prompt, fresh, but it's day five, early, that led me to an extended runabout today in Feralas.

When I was a fifteen-year-old WoW newbie playing through to level sixty on my first ever character, Feralas was one of the zones that made me go screenshot happy. It's a bit bland and green for my tastes now, but I think I liked the neutral tones and the sparkly bits. Who wouldn't like the sparkly bits?

Anyway, that slew of screenshots happen to be some of the few that survived from 2005, so I got it into my head that it'd be a good idea to recreate them with a modern character. Miriah was chosen as my willing sacrifice and thus, this.


Tycertank's Screenshot a Day

A screenshot a day

Twitter's been kind enough to inform me that Tycertank of Toonacious has started up a daily screenshot challenge. (This is actually the first time I've stumbled across their blog, so double win?) You can find all the details in Tycertank's post, but to boil it down: each day there is a word. Take a screenshot based on the word. You can then submit it via email, blog post or the #WoWscreenshotaday tag on Twitter.

I'm (unsurprisingly) late. As I'm done flailing about in a pool of my own no-blogging misery, however, I'm not going to let that stop me jumping on board, so here're three shots in one post. With a bit of rambling added in.


Nothing wrong with rainbow kit

TBC and Cataclysm armour

A recent forum thread invited players to discuss a perceived decline in quality of armour sets in WoW. Amongst wistful posts about iconic Judgement and snarky one-liners about recent tier coming pre-packed with rust, Vaneras made the following point:

Truly colourful gear that really pop can be very cool indeed, the problem with this though is when characters have a mismatch of different colourful armor sets equipped. We received quite a lot of negative feedback back in the day during TBC about “clown gear” making characters look silly, and there were a lot of requests for more toned down armor sets that would allow for better looks when mixing and matching pieces between different sets.

Miriah and I were subjected to the clown look. The clash between a yellow vest, purple and blue belt, green and pink trousers, and grey, blue and lilac boots was sufficiently eye-searing that I disenchanted the lot and went back to her warlord kit at significant loss of stats. But I don’t think the legacy of TBC questing should be a permanent aversion to bright colours and bold designs in gear outside of our tier sets.


On guilds

Best guild

Thanks to Jojo’s more detailed reply to yesterday’s Breakfast Topic I’ve been thinking a bit about guilds, and why ‘how did you choose your guild?’ is cunningly phrased as opposed to, say, ‘how did you join your guild?’

Don’t get me wrong, the moment when you first join, when you first gain that new guild tag, is a great opportunity for the other members to welcome you in and provide a solid first impression. But I feel that moment is really the culmination of prior thought and the start of new exploration rather than a big deciding instant.

I believe there are two critical points in the guild-choosing process: the moment when you become aware of that guild as an option to you, and the moment when it becomes your guild.


Mogu did it: possessions of the Thunder King

Throne of Thunder: Twin Consorts.

How to dig yourself deeper into a hole in three simple steps:

  1. Create a vibrant world with a wide range of characters, only to introduce new species with each expansion that come only in the default (male) gender.
  2. Create a female model for one of these races post-launch. Make it hypersexualised, and limit its appearance to one boss fight. Be sure to give it a name that describes it in terms of its relationship with a male character.
  3. Release a blog post in which all other bosses are discussed in terms of fight mechanics and design team influences with jokes ahoy. In the section about this new Female Fight, neglect to do this, and instead neatly justify step two with a design team within a design team. Be sure to put extra emphasis on women as trophies for bonus depth.

Done? Congratulations, I bet you can barely see daylight that far underground!


Arctic imposters

Lies and deceit.

So I was working toward VP cap on my paladin roughly twenty minutes ago when a seemingly everyday question was asked in guild chat: why is Orgrimmar full of polar bears? All the critters are polar bears.

Being super duper knowledgeable and that, I suggested that a mage or two had gone on a poly spree.

No, said my guildie. They don't have any active effects on them.

Perplexed, I logged over to Nyxrinne to have a look at these not-polyed critters. And you know what? I still have no idea what's going on here, but it's kinda brilliant.


Warcraft at the Oscars

Warcraft Oscars

So, Matty of Sugar & Blood is hosting a transmogrification contest based on favourite films, and I thought I’d take a stab at producing a proper entry.

This past year has been fairly disappointing for me in terms of film: I haven’t been able to go to the cinema all that often, and I haven’t much liked the majority of what I have seen. I did, however, enjoy Snow White and the Huntsman almost unreservedly, and it features women leads in brilliant costumes. Suffice to say, my choice of film to represent in transmog form was almost made for me.

I should note that, while I was faffing around with the huntsman, Kaitz beat me to it with this film. You can see her transmog sets here. As you’ll soon see, mine are much less accurate…


20 days: Introduction


I’ve been dithering over whether to take part in the various ‘twenty days’ challenges that have been popping up all over my RSS reader.

My brain is a stubborn lump, y’see. It notes that I’ve updated within the last three or four days and it decides it doesn’t want to write that concluding paragraph for an otherwise-finished post. If I was updating with a 20 days post every day, well, I don’t think I’d get anything else written.

And yes, that is an admission that I’m not entirely on top of this ‘self motivation’ gig. I am working on it, alright.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my best bet is to answer questions on a once-weekly basis, leaving the rest of the week to normal posts. The next twenty Mondays, therefore, will be dedicated to Saga’s 20 Days of Blogging Challenge. I’m thinking Friday can host my attempts at prose, but we’ll see about that. For now, onward.


Touch of Death: it’s no execute

Touch of Death versus Hogger. Who else?

In retrospect, I should have anticipated the downside to naming a blog after a class skill: luring people in search of Actual Information to a blog full of rambling and silliness.

To all the WoW players who’ve stumbled here while searching for the details of the monk ability, I'm sorry. Here’s a run-through of the basics as they stand.


Touch of Death is learned at level twenty-two.Touch of Death. Image by Nyxrinne.

At a cost of three chi, Touch of Death will instantly kill non-player targets, but it can only be used on foes whose health is equal to or lower than yours. This is the actual number of hit points they have, not the percentage: as a levelling monk, you’ll find you can essentially one-shot some mobs from full health with this skill.

Touch of Death requires melee range to use, and has a 1.5 minute cooldown.


Farm spots for Lovely Charms in 5.1

Love is in the Air is back once again in 2013 with its much-adored grindfest. Any luck with with Big Love Rocket yet? I thought not.

The Swift Lovebird: its beady eyes are taunting you.

Fortunately for us, the other seasonal mount we can obtain during this event is the Swift Lovebird, and it isn't RNG-dependant like its flying counterpart. Instead you can buy it for a mere 270 Love Tokens from the seasonal vendor.

Love Tokens are purchased with Lovely Charm Bracelets, one for one, although there are daily quests that allow you to pass a bracelet to each faction leader for five tokens a pop.

It takes ten Lovely Charms to create one bracelet, and you obtain Lovely Charms when you kill mobs within your level range, so long as you've a Lovely Charm Collector's Kit in your inventory.

In short, the Love Bird demands you mow down 2,700 foes if you're allergic to dailies, which I'm sure is brilliant news that no-one is cursing aloud. But restrain your glee: there are several grind spots that trivialise this challenge, and I'm about to list the best I can find right here.


The defeat of the fashionable hunter

So I took Praelia through the Shado-Pan Monastery today for the first time. Wow, was she ever lucky with the drops. Actually, lucky might not be quite the right word for it.

Enter: stylish

Praelia before.

Exit: terrible

Praelia after.

I’ve inspected this from all angles now, and it is 100% certified horrible from every single one.

Terrible hunter armour. More terrible hunter armour. Terrible hunter armour again.

It’s so terrible, in fact, that I just might keep it.


The Lunar Festival in MoP

Lunar Festival in Mists of Pandaria

We’ve reached the end of this year’s Lunar Festival, and I have to say: it was even more disappointing than usual.

I know, that sounds difficult to achieve. The Lunar Festival’s in-game purpose has always been to celebrate the defeat of the Legion in the War of the Ancients, an enormously important event in lore that led to the reshaping of Azeroth itself, and it has always failed to convey even a pittance of the story.


Cordula, part four

Rainy day in Gilneas

Water soaked her through as the mist began to dissipate, froze her to the bone. Silhouettes blocked out in uniform shades of grey began to show through the whiteness. Slowly the trees gained their knots and gnarls, and the post not far in front of her gained hair and eyes.

Copper and suspect shared a moment free of any comprehension: both rubbing their arms for warmth, both staring, expecting greenery.

Then the hoarfrost over Cordula’s brain gave way. She saw his helm over curling brown hair; the feline aspect to his face, cheekbones broad, eyes set wide; a thatch of beard along his jaw; and his standard-issue armour, the crest on the clasp of his cloak scratched away, where tapered gouges met in the middle like a brass snowflake.

Her stone-cold muscles turned her instinctive charge into a stiff-legged stumble. Blundering through ankle-deep water, her teeth chattering so hard she couldn’t force open her jaw to yell, she saw reality sink in through the man’s eyes, and his flight reflex flare up.


The pits of Ogudei

Dominance Offensive Pits of Ogudei

Okay Horde, it’s been weeks since the release of the Dominance Offensive dailies, and I think we need an intervention.

I know it seems like a goliath task. I know it may feel as though you’d need truly mountainous willpower to do it. But you have a support network all around you, and you can escape the Ruins of Ogudei.


Cordula, part three

The mud sucked at her boots, made her stumble. In all her armour Cordula held no delusions of being quiet at the best of times, but all this splashing and cursing wasn’t getting her anywhere, just increasing the chance she got sucked under, or that something mortiferous heard and reckoned it could get a solid meal out of her.

She circled, lost, direction unfathomable with each patch of ground all dislocated from the next by the wall of white, and finally set her arse down on a mouldering log.

What choice was there? Whoever it was, they were gone. Disappeared just as soundly as Dag and the injured guard, the path, and even the cathedral spire of Gilneas. Now that was proper disconcerting. The sight of the city was meant to be a constant.


Cordula, part two

The ground was steep past the bridge, steeper than either of them had expected, and wet from the dewfall. Dag slipped a few times, trying to forge ahead, trying to lead, his pistol drawn early, while Cordula planted her feet carefully, doubting, now, the shadows that entranced her, subjecting them to every inquiry her eyes and ears could make.

It was a narrow path for a thoroughfare, this one, with the rising cliffs on one side and the falling cliffs on the other. There wasn’t much space for anything to hide, unless it sprang down from the rocks – and her head turned up at that thought, and she eyed the jagged ridge, jet black with the moon behind it. Nothing.

Still nothing as the slope began to level out and the gatehouse into Gilneas loomed, with its lamps left unbroken and its walls good and strong. The other patrol didn’t head into the city, she knew that much, and there was only one other way to go: along the path as it doubled back on itself, following the very base of the cliffs around toward Duskhaven. Alongside the bog, as it happened, and well into the thick of the mist.


Windwalker vs. Razorgore

Right, so, Raiding with Leashes is a thing, most of the new pets are several kinds of brilliant, and, oh yeah, some of them drop from Blackwing Lair. The place that has beckoned with all kinds of pretty armour for years, only to subject prospective soloists to burny beatdown at the very first hurdle: Razorgore.

For those who haven’t hated Razorgore since the dawn of time, I can summarise: there is a room full of eggs with a dragon and an orb. You click the orb to control the dragon and smash the eggs, and while you’re doing this your character is incapacitated. Adds spawn in waves and dogpile you and your new scaly minion. If said minion is overwhelmed, you can enjoy being one-shot.

You can see why a lot of my in-game mates have been somewhat reluctant to attempt this encounter again, even though they’re now thirty levels above the raid requirement. In fact, I’ve been drafting in my epic paladin friend whenever I run Blackwing Lair on any character other than my cheating hunter.

This ended last week, when I tired of being scaredy and tried it on my own. Although things went less than smoothly because I can be a bit of a numpty at times, I downed him first try, and headed back there again this morning to see if I could improve on things. As it happens, when you’re not running around like a headless chicken, being a monk (or perhaps simply being level ninety) trivialises the encounter.


A good day is better with visits

I'm actually starting to feel ill again by this point, but today was a fine day of writing and sunshine and feeling unusually bouncy. Then things got even better, as per the header screenshot.

Maybe another screenshot will provide sufficient clarification.

Beginner brawler

It seems I picked up my Blood-Soaked Invitation at around the same time as a couple more established bloggers (Navimie and Cymre). I thought I’d add to the newbie brawler report! I gained my invitation by camping the faction rares for a while. Long enough, in fact, that Nyxrinne is now sporting half a PvP set, courtesy of a large stack of Honourable Commendations.

First off, the Brawler’s Guild is a lot of fun. Being a little self-conscious of what I anticipated being massive failure on my part, I started fighting early in the morning before work to avoid the crowd, but as other people started filtering through, mostly low-ranking newbies like me, there was no nastiness at all.

In fact, we ended up cheering each other on. Eventually a rank seven priest showed up, working on GG Engineering, and the rest of us paused our queuing to let her spam the fight a bit. Compared to our crocolisks and rams, those guys with their rockets looked hard.


Monk tier breaks no moulds

Shy of Shy at WoW posted earlier to flag up the similarities between tiers fourteen and fifteen for monks, pointing out the prevalence of saucer hats and the lack of anything really interesting about them.

For the most part, I agree with her. I felt tier fourteen in particular was an unsuccessful attempt to prove that splashing neon onto neutral tones can make for something beautiful. Both fourteen and fifteen lack any powerful centrepiece to them.

This changes somewhat if you view tier fifteen’s chestpiece on the male model, mind you. Due to a lack of boobs to cover, it becomes a lot more interesting.


Cordula, part one

They put her on the night shift as a punishment, and after the second week Cordula was in love. It was the dark that did it. Only the shadows moved on the daytime beat, but when shadow had full reign it made the whole world shift along with it.

She strolled through the centre of Stormglen at just after suppertime with the air balmy and the light dying slow. The lamplighter walked right alongside, chatty-like, her long pole with the wick on the end lifting up to the lamps until the streets were awash with flickering orange and the blackness danced between the cobblestones.

Daytime was near-dead by the time she left the lamplighter at the outskirts. The sun hit the sea as she headed west: the water bronzed to precious metal, the path underfoot baked red, and one last gout of light lent flame to the trees. For a half-minute the Blackwald seemed to burn, before the stars opened up overhead, and the darkness set in.


Shared topic: No Favourites

Which of your characters do you always look forward to “seeing?” But the real question is why? Perhaps think of this from a role playing perspective, that this character has a personality, play style and demeanour that inevitably just works.

Topic suggested by Mataoka of Sugar and Blood

My favourite character, the one I always come back to, the one I’ve played the most and who always makes my top ten list, is my shadow priest, Miriah. This post has become a bit of a tribute to her.

I created Miriah at the start of June 2006 for roleplay, duelling and battlegrounds, and my first character (who had spent her time duelling outside Ironforge and raiding AQ) never drew my attention back.

At the time this wasn’t all that confusing to me, as I had yet to figure out my preferred role in the game.

Nowadays, though, I’ve played through all the classes and I know I love being in melee range, if not tanking outright, more than anything else.

It seems a bit odd that my ‘main main’ is a caster. So I’ve been thinking a bit about why she’s such a compelling avatar.


5.2’s troll councillor and models of the future

After a minor spat with life I’m working on a proper blog post, but I saw the new model for the Jungle Troll Councillor (which you can view in 3D here on Wowhead if you haven’t already) and had to say something.

This is the first time since Therazane that I’ve looked at a new female model and loved it unabashedly. Look, look!