Monday, June 1, 2020

Playing on a Distant Server - The Pros and Cons

Hey dudes - Silvite Soltis here, and today I've got a bit of a different post for you.

As you may, or may not, remember, I currently live in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with my family - my lovely wife and two daughters. But as I plan to eventually move back to the United States, I rolled my Classic characters on US servers - Mankrik and Atiesh, specifically. Well, I recently got into a discussion with my guildmates about what it's like to play on a server on the opposite side of the planet, and it got me thinking - what if there are others who are in a similar situation as me? Or maybe there are players out there who want to play with distant friends or family. After all, the world is a big place, and it's getting more and more globalized by the year, so international gaming is just becoming more common.

So, since I've got quite a bit of experience playing from Asia at this point, I thought it might be fun to list out some of the positive and negative aspects to this type of play. Before getting into it though, I'd just like to ask that you add yourself to my mailing list below so you don't miss out on posts like this in the future. Also, consider checking out my YouTube channel if you're into video content, as that's where all my posts end up eventually. In any case, I hope you enjoy!


Distant Servers - The Pros

While you can probably imagine quite a few problems with playing on a server that's far away from you geographically, there are some great benefits that I've found made my experience quite enjoyable. First off is the simple fact that your prime time is likely much different from the server's prime time. And when there are fewer players online, there's a lot less competition for spawns. This means that you can quest, level up, and generally enjoy the solo play of Classic a lot more. When you want to go farm water elementals up in the Eastern Plaguelands, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some up there - unless that's where the bots are parked that day. And if you want to tame Broken Tooth, you stand a much better chance of being the first hunter there when he pops.

The reduced competition is great for those of us with gathering professions too, as you're much more likely to actually catch a Black Lotus spawn or Thorium vein while passing through a zone during the dead of night. This happened to me when my shaman was running to turn in a BRD quest in the Burning Steppes at around level 57 or so - a random Black Lotus spawned in the middle of one of the burned down dwarven buildings just outside of Flame Crest. Though I had to clear some mobs to get to it (and almost died), I managed to snag it - something that would've never happened during peak hours. Sure, Blizzard recently implemented some changes to these herbs, making them much more common in general, but I'm sure those of us who play in the dead of night server time will be able to scoop up even more as we simply pass through the zones.

Having less competition isn't the only benefit of playing at off times, however. Many people choose to finish their WoW sessions by taking a trip to the auction house to dump all of the items they've picked up over the day. Since the idea behind this is to log into a nice chunk of change in the mailbox for the next play session, these players often post items at lower prices to encourage someone to buy. With less players online, however, the demand just isn't there. So, if you play during these off hours, you can sometimes find some amazing deals. I, for one, picked up a Brain Hacker for my shaman for around 30 gold back when they were typically selling for around 50. It felt pretty good...

So yeah, browsing the auction house in the wee hours of the morning can sometimes be really lucrative. It does really depend on your server size and player base, though. So, just keep in mind that the market is ever-shifting and this might not always be a pro. There is one thing, however, that is ALWAYS a positive...

NO QUEUES!

Without a doubt, playing when everyone else is asleep or heading off to work has the greatest benefit on larger servers, as you never have to deal with queues. Though I play on Mankrik - which has far fewer players than Whitemane, Herod, and Faerlina for sure - I still hear complaints constantly from guildies, friends, and random pugs about how they are, or were "stuck in the queue." However, I seldom have this problem, unless I try logging on first thing in the morning, of course.

Back when Classic launched, the word on the street was that everyone on every server had huge queues to sit through, then crazy competition for mobs once they finally got in on day 1. Luckily for me, I had work that day, so though I wanted to experience the launch, I had to wait until around 5:30PM to finally start questing in the Valley of Trials. But, oh man, it was worth it. I got home, set up my stream, and played for 3 and a half hours straight with no queues, disconnects, or other issues.

It. Was. AWESOME! And I'm happy to say that I still don't have to deal with queues to this day.



The Cons

Alright, so you get to play without queues or other players stealing your nodes - that's great! But what must you give in return?

EVERYTHING!

Well...not really, but still quite a bit. First off, when you play at what is the dead of night, or early morning, for nearly everyone else on your server, you can expect to have issues finding groups for what you want to run. Of course, it's easier if you're playing a tank or healer, but if you're a lone hunter, you're pretty much S.O.L. To make matters worse, out of the limited number of players online at these strange times, only a few are typically functioning properly. I can't count the number of dungeon runs I've done with a terrible player, only to find out that they were simply falling asleep at their keyboard. Hell, I once led a ZG pug at only 11PM server time and it still took 3 hours - people kept coming in and leaving due to "being tired." Pfft. Weaklings...

But that's not the only issue, unfortunately. If you're interested in raiding - or any large-scale group content really - you'll need to find a guild that matches your schedule, or alter your play time to fit into one. Your guild options are really limited if you can't play at the server's prime time (usually around 7-10PM), meaning that you don't really get to shop around for the perfect guild. Instead, you just have to sort of accept a guild that meets at times you can make. So, if there's only one guild that raids at 4:00 in the morning, you know where your new home is, regardless of the actual people in it.

And speaking of guilds, a lot of those that raid nowadays have a big emphasis on getting world buffs before raid night: Rallying Cry of the Dragonslayer, the DM Tribute buffs, and Spirit of Zandalar to name a few. These buffs are huge boons to any raid team, but if you play at off hours, you're pretty much out of luck. Guilds on most servers coordinate these buffs to benefit the greatest number of raiders - meaning you'll miss all of them if you're not online at prime time on any given day. Sure, if you park your character in Booty Bay or Orgrimmar and stay logged in there you might get lucky, but generally people don't turn in Onyxia's head at 2:45AM server time. So, yeah...

Finally, there's one last little con to playing on a server from the opposite side of the planet that people usually think of first - the lag. While my friends and family back in the States tell me about their 20-40ms latency, I'm typically sitting at around 300ms. And while this issue is definitely much more manageable now than the 900-2000ms that I used to get back when I played in Japan back in 2007, it does still cause some problems from time to time. Most notably, I get disconnected quite often, or get the strange buggy disconnect, but where the chat still works completely normally. Honestly though, this is the smallest issue that I've faced in my Classic adventures. So, as long as you've got decent internet wherever you are, you can probably deal with this.

Good luck finding groups though...



So, What's the Verdict?

So yeah, there's a few of the good and bad sides to playing on a faraway WoW server. Overall, it's definitely a fun experience, and vastly different from the way in which most people play the game. There are a few other quirks that I think are worth mentioning - such as late night LFG chat and the personalities of the night owls that you'll likely encounter out in Azeroth at 3AM. These guys will definitely keep you entertained...or offended, depending on how thick your skin is. But yeah, I don't think those are necessarily pros or cons - just another fun little difference from peak server hours and the late night/early morning hours that you'd likely be on.

So, in general what do I think? Is it worth it to play on a distant server? My answer is, it depends on how you enjoy the game. If you love solo play, or know of a guild that does exactly what you want to do, when you want to do it, then yes. However, if you really want to have more options for groups, guilds, and participating in the min-maxing culture of world buffs, then definitely no. Overall, I've been thoroughly enjoying my play time on Mankrik and Atiesh, but it's definitely been an uphill battle to make schedules work, and I have struggled to complete my own personal goals in-game. That being said, the lack of queues and competition have really been nice, so I can't complain too much. At least I didn't roll on Faerlina... I can get on, do my thing, and generally have a good time most days.

In conclusion, I'd say it depends on your goals and personal schedule, but it can be worth it. However, I'd also like to know what you think - do you play on a distant server, far from everyone in your guild? How do you make things work? Or do you always stay close to home, to avoid having scheduling conflicts? With an eventual Classic TBC and my family's eventual move back to the US, I'm really considering my options going forward, so any input you all have would be appreciated.

But anyway, yeah, that's it for today. If you liked this post, or found it informative, then follow my blog by adding yourself to my mailing list below, or follow me over on Twitter for updates. Also, check out my YouTube channel where I put all of these posts into video form shortly after publishing them here. In any case, thanks for reading, have an awesome day, and as always...

Take it easy!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Memories of TBC - Episode 3: The Friendly Hunter

New Friend?
Hey dudes - Silvite Soltis here. And today, I have another installment of Memories of TBC for you all to enjoy.

As I'm sure we all know from watching seven seasons of My Little Pony - friendship is magic. So today, that's what I'm going to be talking about - the story of how I met one of my longest in-game friends in World of Warcraft. As far as I'm aware, this is the final big event that I experienced before finally being able to step through the Dark Portal, although at this point, the lines are quite blurry, so it might have actually happened slightly after my first adventures in Outland on my priest. Either way, it's a memory that I cherish from out in the open world of Kalimdor from back in the day, so here it is.

Before getting into the story, though, I'd just like to take the time to day thanks for coming to read it. If you enjoy it, feel free to add yourself to my mailing list below, so you can get updates when I release new content like this in the future. There's a lot more coming as we head toward Classic TBC, so let's keep the hype train going!

But anyway, with that out of the way, let's get right into the story...



Memories of TBC
Episode 3: The Friendly Hunter

It was a hot and humid May day back in 2007. I'd recently come home from a Saturday morning kendo practice at school to my newest, and final, host family's house, and I wanted to relax a bit through the afternoon. My host parents were still busy with work and errands until the evening, so I had free range of the house. And you know what that means - World of Warcraft on the family laptop!

I sat down at the short coffee table in the small living room of the house, just in front of the couch. Firing up the laptop (which was leaps and bounds ahead of the ancient technology that my previous host families had tried to pass off as computers, by the way), I eagerly wondered what I should do today - take my priest around to farm gold, level my tauren druid through the mid-20s, or continue the grind on my favorite alt - Aoyamamotoko.

I chose the third option, and swiftly logged onto my purple elf lady to go continue a quest chain that I'd started a few days prior in Felwood. Though I'd hearthed back to Darnassus to gain that sweet sweet rested XP in my previous play session, I was soon back in that creepy forest and began making my way down to the middle of the zone - to an area called Jaedenar.

Jaedenar
I don't recall the specific details of the quests over here to be honest, but the general gist of it was that I had to kill a bunch of these cultists in and around the cave, then light some braziers. Easy work, I thought. But as I made my way toward that cave, I realized that this was not going to be so easy. See, there are a bunch of mobs packed in fairly close proximity in this general area. And while I should've learned how to pull mobs back to a safe distance by this point, being a warrior and all, I didn't.






These guys are no joke in large numbers
I charged toward a cultist, since that's what warriors do. However, there was a caster just a bit too close to it.  By the time I'd finished the first mob, I was at around 40% health. All of a sudden, ANOTHER cultist was on top of me - a patrol perhaps, or maybe just a random mob that I hadn't seen when I'd charged in head first.

"Oh crap," I thought, "I'm gonna die..."














I popped Retaliation, thinking that it might somehow save me from the shadowbolts that were coming at me like machine gun fire. But just as I was about to die, something else flew past me - a flurry of arrows and a giant cat! And man, that kitty looked pissed!

Regaining my composure, I clicked on the only health potion that I had left, which I'd somehow forgotten I had until that point. I looked around while smashing Mortal Strike on the closest mob and discovered just who my savior had been - a male night elf hunter by the name of Thrillseeker. Well...he'd certainly lived up to his name with this pack, that's for sure.

I thanked him for helping me as my warrior ate some random food that I'd had stored in my bags. Then, I asked whether he was doing the same quest chain I was, to which he nodded.

"Wanna group up then?"

"Sure!"

Male Night Elf Hunter
Thrillseeker and I spent about an hour in that cave that afternoon - killing cultists, lighting braziers, and even escorting that one night elf out of the cave to safety.  We died a couple of times toward the end of the quest chain, but had a blast throughout it all. While we fought, we chitchatted about why were were both playing at like 2AM server time. It turns out that he lived in California and typically played late after work, while I was in Japan on a study abroad and played when I could log on. He'd only just recently started playing the game and was on his first character, whereas I was considered a veteran by this point (despite still being a terrible nooby clicker). All in all, it was a friendly exchange and a nice change of pace from the solo experience I'd grown accustomed to over the past few months playing in the dead of Azeroth's night.

By the time we'd wrapped everything up in Felwood, we'd added each other to our friends list and agreed to do a dungeon or some more questing together at some point. At the time, I remember feeling like that would be it - that we'd just part ways and never group up again. Little did I know we'd interact much, much more over the years to come...


---------------------------------------


I hope you enjoyed this short story of friendship in the big wide World of Warcraft. Thrillseeker and I continued to quest and dungeon together on and off throughout the Burning Crusade leveling experience, which was obviously a lot of fun. Eventually, around the end of July when I got my priest up to level 70, I left the guild I'd been with for most of Vanilla - the Guardians of Azeroth - and joined his guild - Reservoir Dogcows of Whisperwind. This guild ended up being my home for most of the Burning Crusade, and you can still see some old raiding videos of our adventures together there over on my YouTube channel even to this day. But if it hadn't been for that one fateful day in Felwood on my warrior, I might never have found that guild. And so, many of the stories to come in this particular series would have turned out very differently.

So, thanks Thrillseeker - whether you know it or not, I owe a lot of my WoW experiences from 2007 onward to you. Thanks for saving my ass in Felwood that day!

Anyway though, that's it for today. If you enjoyed this story and would like to hear about more of my adventures from The Burning Crusade back in the day, then follow me over on Twitter, or add yourself to my mailing list below so you can get updates when new content is released. Also, consider checking out my videos over on YouTube, as all my posts get made into videos shortly after they're written here. In any case, thanks for reading, have an awesome day, and I'll catch you next time.

Take it easy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Who is Silvite Soltis? An Updated Introduction

Hey dudes. Silvite Soltis here. And today, I just wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about me and my content.

I started playing World of Warcraft back in 2005 and have been enjoying the game ever since. Though I've played every expansion up until BFA, Vanilla through Wrath were definitely the best in my opinion. So, when Classic was announced, I thought it'd be fun to start making content here and over on YouTube - in order to keep the hype train going.

In general, I make three types of content - top 5s, guides, and story videos in which I tell my stories from back in the day. My Top 5s range from all topics Classic - including things like classes, music tracks, and quests. However, my guides seem to be what most people enjoy - as I try to help those of us who aren't really interested in min-maxing, but just want to get going. There's a big try-hard culture in Classic, despite the game being pretty faceroll at this point, so that's really who I aim to help - the average player. Going forward into The Burning Crusade and beyond, I plan to continue making simplified guides for people, TBC-themed Top 5s, and, of course, my Memories of TBC series.

So yeah, that's a little bit about me. As a teacher by profession, and a father of two at home, I don't have a ton of time to devote to content creation and gaming, but I do try to release at least a bit of content every week. If you find that you enjoy what I do, then follow my blog here, or subscribe to my YouTube channel to help support my endeavors. In any case, thanks for taking the time to check out my blog. Have an awesome day, and take it easy!

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Top 5 - Playable Races of TBC

Hey dudes. Silvite Soltis here. And today I'm back with another Top 5 post!

As we all know, The Burning Crusade brought with it some amazing new features - new zones, professions, and even flying mounts. But as you might remember, one of the most anticipated additions to the game back at the time wasn't any of these changes, but rather the addition of two new races - the Blood Elves and the Draenei. The addition of these two races brought the total number of playable races in Azeroth up to 10, and also gave access to Paladins and Shamans to Horde and Alliance, respectively. It was a big change.

So, since we're all getting hyped about the eventual Classic TBC release, and we'll have 10 races to choose from with this shift, I thought it might be fun to explore what playable races I think are the coolest in The Burning Crusade. Before getting started though, make sure you add yourself to my mailing list below and consider following me over on Twitter, so you don't miss out on content like this in the future. Also, I'd just like to say that this list is entirely my opinion, and it's not really based on any race/class combinations, or anything like that, but rather looks, lore, and just the general badassness I feel when I think about these fantastic races.

So yeah, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Playable Races of TBC!


#5 -  Night Elves

Night Elves
Starting off my list here is the race that was my personal favorite back in Vanilla. The OG of WoW elves, the purple-skinned sexy dancing Kaldorei - the night elves.

As an avid fan of high fantasy, the night elves were the first race in WoW that really stuck out to me after I started playing. And though my first character was a human, I always loved the way of life of the night elf people - living out in trees, communing with nature, and of course, dancing on mailboxes.

In the Burning Crusade, the night elves don't do anything too spectacularly different than they did in Vanilla, but they are still the Alliance's only druid race. And considering the major buffs that druids got to their tanking and dpsing in TBC, it's definitely safe to say that you'll see a lot more of them in the expansion's re-release than we do now in Classic.

So yeah. night elves are pretty awesome. And for that reason, I put them up here at number 5.

#4 - Orcs 

Orc
Alright, I have to come clean - I never really liked orcs before Classic. They're big, bulky rage-monsters that I imagine smell like kodo-dung. BUT in the Burning Crusade, we get to travel to their homeworld of Draenor to learn of their origins. And man, that really makes a difference to me. Running across the plains of Nagrand, meeting Garrosh, son of the legendary Grom Hellscream, and uncovering the story of the Mag'har was one of the coolest bits of lore to me personally playing TBC back in the day. And now that I've leveled an orc shaman in Classic, it seems all that much cooler.

For players, orcs still have some of the strongest racials in the game as well - beneficial for tanking and melee dps in particular, but also PVP situations for those who enjoy that content. Furthermore, male orcs get to dance like MC Hammer, which is always entertaining to see. So, though I didn't really like these big green guys a lot when I was younger, I can definitely say that they've grown on me. And so, I've put them up here at number 4.

#3 - Dwarfs

Dwarf
"Interest ya in a pint?" Possibly my all-time favorite fantasy race, the dwarfs take my number 3 spot for the Burning Crusade. Though they don't really have any changes whatsoever in terms of lore and racials compared to Classic, the simple fact of the matter is that I love these little drunkards. They've got kick-ass beards, love beer (like me), and look so damn funny when they run.

It's pretty well-known that I'm planning on making my dwarf prot paladin my main come Classic TBC. And though we don't know exactly how Blizzard will handle the transition, I'm fairly confident that I'll have a good time running around with a 4-foot-tall holy warrior decked out in Justicar Armor come December 2021.

So yeah, dwarfs are my number 3. And I'll drink to that!

#2 - Blood Elves

Blood Elves
Alright, here we go - one of the races that I'm sure EVERYONE expected to see here. The blood elves, also known as Sin'dorei, are the first "pretty" race that the Horde got. And while many Alliance players were upset back in the day at the treachery of the former high elves, I think it's fair to say that they were just jealous...and for good reason!

The introduction of blood elves in The Burning Crusade provides the Horde with their very own Paladins - which have solid dps, great AoE tanking, awesome tank healing, and, most importantly, blessings! No longer do the dps classes of the Horde need to hold back their damage for fear of pulling aggro from the tank! It's really a dream come true.

Moreover, these beautiful elves also provide unparalleled fabulousity to the Horde as well - with their long elegant locks, deep green eyes, and silly jokes about addiction - they really raise the property value of Orgrimmar with their presence within the city limits. Plus, they have, arguably, some of the best racials in the game for TBC - with a racial silence, a mana-tap, and the ability to ride Chocobos! What's not to love?

But that's not all! Lore-wise, the Blood Elves have an epic backstory full of adversity, betrayal, and a search for their place in the world. And though we can play the protagonist faction of blood elves, led by Lor'themar Theron, there's a whole other faction of this race that's loyal to one of the main antagonists of the expansion as well - Kael'Thas's blood elf army. It's actually hard for me to think of another race in this expansion that has such depth of lore. And it's for all these reasons that I think blood elves are the 2nd coolest playable race in TBC. However, there's one more race that I think is just a bit more awesome...

Honorable Mention - Trolls

Before getting to the number 1 spot, I just want to give a quick shoutout to all the trolls. Having mained a troll priest thus far in Classic, I feel obligated to mention how much I love this race. There's basically no change for them in TBC though. And so, though I like them (and would likely have placed them as number 6 if this were a top 10 list), they just barely missed a spot. Sorry Classic Silvite...

#1 - Draenei

Draenei
Two words: Butt. Waggle.

Yes, as you might have guessed, my personal favorite race in The Burning Crusade, and all of Warcraft actually, is the squid-faced blue aliens that hail from the planet Argus. The draenei, formerly known as Eredar, are a race that has faced greater trials and tribulations than probably any other playable race in the Warcraft lore - having been the first to defy the Burning Legion and losing their home not once, but twice. But just like Chumbawamba, no matter how many times the draenei get knocked down, they get back up again. And in TBC, they end up joining the Alliance in their fight against the Burning Legion...and the Horde, of course.

Similar to the blood elves, the draenei bring a new class to the Alliance - shamans. And because of this, the two factions become more balanced than ever. This means that the Alliance gains access to the great totem buffs such as Windfury and Mana Tide - amazing boons to any raid team! And though I would definitely argue that the Horde gaining access to paladins is definitely a greater boost to their raids overall, there's one last thing that the fabulous elves just can't compete with, in my opinion...

The looks.

Throughout Classic, the Horde had access to massive towering behemoths for their characters. What's more, all of the Horde races were unique from each other - green orcs, tall lanky trolls, actual zombies, and the grass-fed tauren. Sure, they were all hunched over, but they were different. The Alliance, on the other hand, had purple elves, and then three slightly different heights of what were essentially humans - visually anyway.

But in TBC, this all changes. Finally, the Alliance gets a massive blue blob - the male draenei. And though it's cool as hell to watch these beasts do their work, it's even better when they dance. The Tunak Tunak Tun dance has got to be my personal favorite in the game.

The female draenei are great too, though. Despite their considerably smaller size, they still manage to look badass when tanking, healing, or dealing damage. Though, I must admit, my favorite part of the female draenei is probably their dance as well. Like I said...dat butt waggle.

So yeah, with an epic backstory, a big tanky type male model, hilarious jokes, awesome dances, and more, I 100% believe that the draenei are the greatest playable race in The Burning Crusade. And I can't wait to roll one come Classic TBC...

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it - my top 5 playable races of The Burning Crusade. Honestly, every race has its perks - whether it's their racials, looks, or race/class combination, but as far as I'm concerned, these are the best ones. However, I'd love to know what you think? Do you just LOVE your undead? Maybe female tauren are your thing? Whatever you like, let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you'd like to see more content like this in the future, add yourself to my mailing list below as well, or follow me over on Twitter, as I post updates on content regularly over there. Also consider checking out my videos over on YouTube if you prefer that content medium, as I turn all of my posts here into videos there shortly after writing them here. In any case, thanks again for reading, have an awesome day, and as always...

Take it easy!



Friday, May 8, 2020

Healing Fury Tanks: A Simplified Guide

Hey dudes. Silvite Soltis here. And I'm back with another simplified guide for all of you healers out there.

Does your guild still struggle with threat? Do warlocks constantly pull Broodlord Lashlayer into the ranged group? Is your tank an iron juggernaut that hits like a wet noodle? Well, there's a solution for these issues that you might have heard of: dual-wield fury tanking.


Why Dual-Wield Fury Tank?

Basically, a warrior that foregoes the shield for an offhand weapon will generate a ton more threat, as he's hitting more often and getting hit a lot harder. This, however, makes the healers' work a lot harder, so it could cause a host of other problems. Luckily, having experienced this shift in my guild, I've learned a few tricks that can make healing these berserkers a lot easier for your team.

Before getting into it, though, remember to follow my blog by adding yourself to my mailing list below, so you know when I write more guides and other content like this. There's a lot more coming as we blaze through AQ and Naxx, and I'm sure you'll want to stay informed. But anyway, without further ado, let's get right into the tips...


Tip #1 - Healing Team and Assignments

First off is the absolute most important thing to keep in mind as your guild works toward having a dual-wield fury tank - the healing team and their assignments. In the current iteration of Classic, we're seeing an increase in the "less healers is more" mindset. And while this can have its benefits in terms of overall dps, it can be detrimental to raid survivability. So, what can be done?

First off, you need to ensure you've got balance in your healing team - around 5 priests, 5 paladins/shamans, and 2-3 druids. Your healers need to be transparent about their specs, +healing, preferred healing styles, and gear. Then, once your team knows who's got what, you have to start setting up healing assignments.

Recently, it seems that there are lots of healers relying on addons such as HealCommsClassic to basically remove the need for healing assignments. And while these addons are wonderful for helping healers avoid wasting mana on overhealing, they can cause confusion about who is healing whom. As such, it's important to have healing assignments arranged for fights, and even trash packs, where your guild plans to use a DW Fury tank.

About two months ago, I took on the job of doing healing assignments for my guild  - Exodus on Mankrik-US. And through careful consideration and lots of discussion with guild leadership, we found that having 7-8 of our healers focused on spamming the tank during boss fights, with only 3-4 other healers focusing on raid heals, was the ideal way in which to make sure the MT was always topped off - no matter how many hits he was taking. If you are doing these assignments, make sure to set up a few priests and shamans (if Horde) to keep the 25% armor buff up on the tank at all times, as it can make or break him. Your highest +healing druid should constantly keep HoTs up on the tank as well, and you should assign one priest with high +healing and improved renew to keep that HoT up on the tank at all times as well. Finally, make sure you have at least one priest (preferably not the renew priest) to keep an eye on Power Word: Shield - as this bubble can be used in an emergency to save your tank, or to reduce incoming damage like Firemaw's Shadowflame ability. Personally, I keep this job for myself, as I'm deep-discipline, baby!

Tip #2 - Use Fast Heals

Now that you've got a healing team assembled and assignments sorted, it's time for the actual healing. DW Fury tanks take a lot more damage than their shield-bearing counterparts, and generally have a bit less health as well. As such, it's important that they are constantly getting healed up to full. In order to do this, those who are assigned to tank heals MUST NEVER stop healing. That means using the fastest heals you have available as often as you can.

First and foremost, know if you have a specific job as a healer - the renew priest, the HoT druid, etc. Then, find a rank of the fastest heal that you can spam constantly for a good 90 seconds straight without going out of mana. For me, it's Flash Heal Rank 2, but you can also alternate to a higher rank for emergency situations if needed (FH R7 for me). Druids are at a bit of a loss here, as they only have Healing Touch, but priests, paladins, and shamans can all work together to make sure the tank is constantly getting a heal of 500 every 0.2 seconds or so.

Ideally, mana shouldn't be much of an issue, as the tank should be able to generate so much threat that DPS can go ham on the boss. However, if mana does become a problem, you should make sure to have pots, innervate assignments, and more at the ready. Even Superior Mana Potions can make a difference!

Tip #3 - Target of Target (and Mouseover Macros)

Alright, the third tip is a bit of a simple one, but important nonetheless. Sometimes when a tank is running DW Fury, he'll just get completely roflstomped. And while this hopefully won't happen too often, it's important to be able to continue healing the next target(s) as fast as possible. For that reason, it's important to make sure you target the boss and keep Target of Target enabled so that you can quickly swap to the new tank (or warlock, whichever is 2nd on threat).

It's also very helpful, in this situation, to make sure you're using mouseover macros like the one I mentioned in my previous "Healy Priest Tips and Tricks" guide:

/cast [@mouseover,exists]Flash Heal(Rank 2)

If you keep your mouse cursor hovering over the enemy's target like I do, you can keep spamming whoever is taking the damage at all times. Keep in mind that for fights like Vaelestrasz (where the target changes occasionally) spamming heals on the Target of Target might result in some random healing of a rogue or mage, but it's still better than risking a loss of your 2nd tank immediately after the first. So...yeah.

Tip #4 - Communication!

Finally, my last tip is one that should be very clear to anyone raiding in an MMORPG like WoW Classic: Communicate! Talk with your tanks about when you think they NEED to have a shield, or when they might be able to swap to their offhand weapon. Odds are if you speak with them, you'll get a good idea about when they take the most damage, when threat isn't a huge issue, and more.

Currently, Blackwing Lair is the most challenging raiding content available in Classic. And while typical dragon fights like Firemaw and Nefarian can be DW tanked fairly easily, others like Chromaggus are definitely more suited for the Sword-and-Board tanks. In any case, and especially going forward, discuss your tanking and healing strategies together as a guild to decide on the best approach for you. Communication will take you very far.


Final Thoughts

Thanks for taking the time to read this guide, and good luck healing your fury tank. In my opinion, dual-wield tanking is one of the most interesting new methods of fighting these old bosses that I've seen in my many years of playing this game. It adds a new level of complexity to the encounter, while also making it finish much faster, if done correctly. And really, that's what the new meta seems to be all about. In any case, I hope you found this guide useful or interesting. If you liked it, or have any feedback for me, let me know by leaving a comment down below. If you'd like to see more content like this in the future, add yourself to my mailing list as well, or subscribe to my YouTube channel if you prefer video content instead. In any case, thanks for reading, have an awesome day, and catch you next time!

Take it easy!


Monday, May 4, 2020

Memories of TBC - Episode 2: Around the Cape!

Hey dudes. Silvite Soltis here. And today I'm back with another installment of Memories of TBC - a reflective series of my adventures in the Burning Crusade back in 2007-2008.

Last time, I talked about how I started the first expansion to World of Warcraft by killing furbolgs in Felwood using BoE greens I bought from the auction house. Since I couldn't get the expansion for quite a while after launch, there wasn't much more for me to do - other than level alts, that is. So today, I've got an alt story for you all. If you like it, feel free to add yourself to my mailing list below this post so that you can get notified when I make more posts like it in the future, and consider spreading the word around as well - I really appreciate it!

But anyway, on with the story...


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It was the early spring of 2007. As it was spring break, I had no classes at my Japanese high school. So even though I went in pretty much every morning anyway for kendo club, I had the afternoons off - which meant lots and lots of WoW. It was around this time that I actually hit exalted with the Timbermaw Hold, if I remember correctly, and I was itching for something else to do in game. So, I started exploring.

One day, while leveling my warrior up in the Hinterlands, I looked at my map and noticed that there was an empty zone up above it - not quite part of the newly-introduced Ghostlands, but also not part of the Hinterlands. So, having nothing better to do, I headed over there.

Now at the time, the computer I was using was a really crappy laptop that could hardly run WoW. The graphics were so bad that huge chunks of the land were jagged sheets of screen tearing. I found the eastern coast of the zone among the laggy blocks of turtles moving around at 8 frames per second and began moving north. I remember feeling surprised at how little of the coast I could actually run on - getting pushed into the water quite a few times and having to swim in the dark waters of...wherever I was at that point.




As I moved, I began to notice something strange; I was clearly moving along the coastline and my minimap displayed this, but as I progressed the world map showed me as moving through the continent! This was soon confirmed when I encountered a small night elf area in a zone called Quel'Thalas!

"Wow," I thought to myself, "I got here without the expansion after all!"




I took some screenshots (that I'm happy to say that I still have to this day), then decided to continue onward along the coast. After all, I was basically in the middle of the continent, and I was curious about what else I might find on this little adventure. I swam and swam next to the shore for what felt like an eternity - through it was probably more like 20 minutes now that I think about it. Unfortunately, the gazebo was pretty much all there was to see. Eventually, my warrior exited Quel'Thalas and The Veiled Sea and entered a zone that everyone knows well - Tirisfal Glades.



"No way." I thought to myself as I looked at the map again. But it was true. I had swam all the way through the continent and ended up on the other side. Laughing to myself, I killed a few undead murlocs along the coast - as if to virtually pinch myself and see if this had all been a dream or something. Alas, it wasn't. The developers had simply not put anything up where the map said land should be - not even mountains to block adventurers like myself. Oops!

So, not wanting to travel all the way back the way I had come, I waved farewell to a random lowbie undead guy, hit my hearthstone, and went back to the leveling grind...



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I hope you enjoyed my brief story of exploration in this big wide World of Warcraft. Even though I didn't actually have TBC yet at this point of the expansion's life, I can still say that this memory is one that I really cherish...for some reason. Even though I'd been playing the game for nearly 2 years at that point, the sense of wonder at the big wide world was still alive, and it's fun to see that this feeling continues even now, 13 years later. In any case, there won't be  many more of these TBC-but-not-actually-TBC-yet memories going forward, as there's really only one other event that sticks out in my mind - and I'm not even sure whether that was before or after I secured the expansion.

But yeah, that's it for today. If you liked this story or found it interesting, let me know by leaving a comment down below - and by adding yourself to my mailing list. Follow me over on Twitter for updates on new content as well, and consider checking out my videos over on YouTube if you like stimulating your eyes and ears simultaneously, as I make all of these posts into videos over there soon after I write them here. Thanks for reading, have an awesome day in Azeroth, and as always...

Take it easy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Top 5 - Zul'Gurub Drops

Hey dudes - Silvite Soltis here, back with another Top 5 post for your reading pleasure.

As you're all aware, Phase 4 has officially arrived - giving us all a fantastic "new" catch-up raid. And though I'm sure most of us have already beaten the Blood God Hakkar into a bloody pulp several times by now, I doubt many have collected all of the items they desire from this troll city. (Personally, I've done five runs in the past two weeks.) Given that some of the items in Zul'Gurub are so powerful compared to what's available in the likes of Molten Core and Blackwing Lair, raiders will no doubt continue to raid this place for months to come.
Zul'Gurub

So, in celebration of this (old) new content, I thought it might be fun to discuss what I feel are the best item drops one can obtain in ZG. In order to make this list interesting, however I will only include immediately equippable drops from the bosses, as certain items like the Zandalarian Hero Charm from the Heart of Hakkar quest, and the Primal Hakkari Idols used for the head and leg enchantments are simply too amazing to compare. Also, I will NOT include more than one item from Hakkar, as the final boss of a raid ALWAYS has the best loot and it would be pretty boring to just list off his loot table. Finally, I can't stress enough that this Top 5 list is entirely my opinion, so feel free to share your own Top 5 ZG drops in the comments down below - and add yourself to my mailing list for good measure, if you like this and want to see other content like it. But yeah, with those disclaimers out of the way, let's get right into the list...



#5 - Zulian Tigerhide Cloak (Venoxis)

It's a great cloak!
A drop from the second boss of Zul'Gurub, the Zulian Tigerhide Cloak starts off our list with an absolute bang. This cloak is AWESOME for all physical dps classes - rogues, warriors, hunters, and more. Considering that until this point, good quality melee cloaks were pretty scarce at endgame and only one other cloak had +hit on it (the Puissant Cape from Azuregos to be specific), it's a welcome addition to just about everyone's character screen.

So yeah, even though it isn't much to look at, this cloak is awesome. And with how easily it can be obtained, it definitely deserves a spot on this list.

#4 - Thekal & Arlokk's Grasps (Thekal and Arlokk)

As if we needed another reason to eat Frosted Flakes...
Have you ever hit something so hard that you turned into a freaking tiger? No? Well now you can! The dual-fist Primal Blessing weapon set Thekal's Grasp and Arlokk's Grasp is, without a doubt, one of the coolest pair of items throughout all of Zul'Gurub, and possibly Classic itself.

These items drop from two of the High Priests that must be defeated as you progress through the raid - Thekal and Arlokk. And though their stats aren't really anything to write home about, they provide decent damage and speed for fist weapons and have an ultra-cool proc that turns you into a beefy tiger-man.

What's not to love about these weapons? They're GR-R-REAT!


#3 - Zanzil's Band & Seal (Venoxis and Bloodlord Mandokir)

Dat hit tho!
Taking the number three spot, we have the caster DPS ring set, Zanzil's Concentration. At first glance, these items seem pretty lackluster - just 11 spell damage, some intellect, and a paltry amount of Mp5. However, these rings are all about one thing - that spell hit!

When one equips both the Band and the Seal, you're looking at a whopping 3% spell hit, which puts your caster a good portion of the way toward your hit cap. And if you combine these rings with the newly introduced Bloodvine Garb crafted by tailors, you can pretty much rest assured that your spells won't be resisted, meaning bigger numbers and ever-better parses!

Honestly, all of the ZG Ring sets have their perks - lots of healing and stats on the Primalist rings, great stamina and defensives on the Overlord's Resolution, and decent hit and crit on the Seal and Band of Jin. However, the sheer amount of spell hit - the most valuable stat for caster DPS by far until hit cap - makes this particular pair of rings just that much better, in my opinion.

And that's why it's up here at number 3...



#2 - Zin'rokh, Destroyer of Worlds (Hakkar)

Just....so good!
Alright, I have to say again that ALL of Hakkar's loot is amazing, so this was hard to narrow down. However, I absolutely had to give the number 2 spot on this list to Zin'rokh. This epic 2-hander from the Blood God himself is most definitely the most iconic weapon within this troll raid - even moreso than that snake staff from the panther boss that I personally adore.

Looks-wise, it's no contest - this item is a beast. It's massive, glowy, and has jagged edges, making it all that much more intimidating when you see a warrior charging at you with it. But more than the looks, the stats this weapon boasts are insane! For an item that drops in a 20-man raid that can be pugged easily in under 2 hours, 72 attack power and a solid 3.8 weapon speed is pretty nuts. And really, the only 2-handed sword that compares to this monster is the infamous Ashkandi that drops from Nefarian in BWL. So whether you're playing a hunter or a dps warrior, you can bet you'll be excited to see this weapon drop from Hakkar's beaten-down corpse. But no matter how amazing Zin'rokh might be, it's still only number 2 on my list...


Honorable Mentions

Before we get to the number 1 spot, though, here are just a few honorable mentions:
All the other Hakkar loot (because really, it's all amazing)
Primalist Rings (because I'm a biased healer)
Nat Pagle's Fish Terminator (because seriously, it's just too funny)
Will of Arlokk (because I think it looks awesome)

#1 - Literally Everything off Jin'do

He may be trollin', but his loot isn't!
Oh! Plot twist! In sifting through all of the items in ZG, I came to realize that one boss in particular has the greatest items in the entire instance - so many awesome pieces of loot, in fact, that I couldn't choose any one of his drops for a spot. Jin'do the Hexxer, the optional second-to-last boss of Zul'Gurub, is an immensely fun encounter that provides the biggest challenge in the instance, other than perhaps Hakkar himself. And while most of us currently raiding ZG regularly can probably steamroll him with our BWL gear, he still drops some of the most amazing items in the entire raid:

First off, his epics are, quite literally, epic! Jin'do's Evil Eye and Hexxer are two of the best healer items until AQ - even outranking most BWL items! His Bag of Whammies offhand and Judgement staff offer lots of spell damage and, again, that coveted spell hit stat that all casters love. But his amazing loot table doesn't stop there, as the blues are great too: The Hexxer's Cover, Bloodstained Coif, Bloodtinged Gloves, Bloodsoaked Gauntlets (lots of Blood off this guy...), and more are all excellent items that anyone would be hard-pressed to replace anywhere other than in the highest-end raids. So, no matter what your class is - Jin'do is your man, mon!

Oh yeah, and he also drops the idol for the enchant on top of all that...so...yeah...it's pretty much no contest. Jin'do's entire loot table is definitely my number 1.


Final Thoughts

So, there you have it - my Top 5 Zul'Gurub Drops. Honestly, this list was really hard to make, as ZG has so many absolutely amazing drops. And even though I sort of cheesed the number 1 spot, I think that fact only stands as a testament to how excellent this raid's loot is. Blizzard clearly learned from their itemization mistakes by the time Zul'Gurub was conceived originally, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we all appreciate it. No matter what class you play, or what content you enjoy, you can definitely get some great items here - be it gear, sets, enchants, or consumables. It's pretty great...

Anyway, that's it for today. If you liked this post and would like to see more in the future, add yourself to my mailing list below! While you're down there, leave a comment letting me know your top 5 drops in ZG as well, as I'd love to know what you think and why. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for updates when I release new content as well, and consider checking out my videos over on YouTube, as I eventually turn all of these posts into videos over there. In any case, thanks for reading, enjoy Zul'Gurub, and as always...

Take it easy!