New hunters: where to go for help/advice/info

On Monday, I got my first ever hit via Reddit.

Wait… what?

That’s what I said to myself when I saw that. As far as I know, I have never been linked on Reddit before. Since I was curious, I followed the link back, and it was to a thread by someone who is new to the game and chose to roll a hunter.

The link to Mushan, Etc. was put there by my friend Cheap Boss Attack, who referred to my blog as “a nice hunter blog.” To which I say, thanks! and /salute! @ Cheap Boss Attack. :)

But at the same time, I was troubled, for two reasons…

1) While this may be a decent blog – and perhaps even fun to read from time to time – I don’t know that I have much specifically helpful hunter content to offer a new hunter here; and

2) There is no longer quite as long of a list of places to send a new player/hunter for advice.

Nonetheless, in case other brand new players come to my blog looking for guides or whatever, there are a few places that I can, in turn, recommend.

Resources for new hunters/players (Not a complete list by any stretch!)

Scattered Shots – the hunter class column at WoW Insider

WoW Insider is a wonderful site. It’s extremely active, with many new posts a day concerning most aspects of the game. There are weekly class columns for most of the classes, including hunters. WoW Insider is also a great source for up-to-date news, lore, commentary on the design of the game, daily Breakfast Topics to promote reader discussion, raiding and PvP columns, a weekly podcast, and much more. It’s a site with something (or many things!) for virtually everyone, and has a very large base of active commenters. Additionally, there is information in the form of new-player “getting started” guides there for new players (of any stripe), which can be very helpful for someone just beginning to explore this huge game.

Scattered Shots – specifically – is the hunter class column. It has been written by different people over the years, and went through a long hiatus during the spring and summer between columnists. However, it is currently active and is being written by Adam Koebel, who seems to be doing a great job. The previous columnist, Brian Wood, wrote Scattered Shots for several years until this spring, and although the game tends to change from patch to patch and expansion to expansion, the pre-Adam posts are definitely worth the read if you’re looking to get a feel for the history and culture of the class and the hunter community.

WoWhead

If you’re looking for a site that is chock full of information on gear/items, quests, NPCs, professions, loot tables, and more information than I am willing to categorize in this post, WoWhead is your place. It’s a massive database/news site/blog that has a just a ton of info on just about anything you could need to find. Definitely a place to bookmark and visit often.

Icy-Veins

For good basic guides on how to raid with your class once you hit the max level – as well as dungeon/raid boss guides, news, forums, reputation guides, lengthy quest lines, etc., Icy-Veins is a great resource for any class.

The Brew Hall

Darkbrew (The Brew Hall) not only blogs about hunters, but he’s a co-founder of the Hunting Party Podcast, which is the podcast for World of Warcraft Hunters. He posts each episode on his site, and you can also find podcast information at OutDPS!, which Darkbrew recently took over when the podcast’s co-founder, Euripides (founder of OutDPS!), retired. The Hunting Party Podcast is both entertaining and informative, and listening to back episodes can provide a further look into the history of the hunter community, and of the game itself.

MMO Champion

For all the latest news, datamining, first looks at new gear/quests/mounts and pets/blue posts and changes, etc, MMO-Champion is a great site. Not only do they have frequent posts (and updates to those posts) with info on the game as it changes, but there are also forums with helpful guides to many aspects of the game. Additionally, in the past couple of years they’ve put together a great site in WoWdb, which is, among other things, a comprehensive item database with some excellent search-filtering features. Another great resource.

Petopia

Have a question about hunter pets? Wondering what special abilities certain pets have, which pets are best in certain situations, or which pets bring which buffs to your group? Want to know which food you can give your pet without him spitting it back at you? Petopia is your one-stop shop for pet info!

El’s Extreme Anglin’ – World of Warcraft FIshing Guide

Fishing can be both an enjoyable and profitable activity. If it interests you, or if you need to find certain fish, or have any other questions about anything fishing-related in WoW, El’s Anglin’ is the top resource. He cover’s fishing, cooking, achievements, and related topics on his site.

WoWpedia

WoWpedia is the wiki source I use whenever there’s something I want to know about the game that I feel they might cover better than most. There’s information on almost everything – I tend to use it most for lore and history, but over the years I’ve gone there for information on just about anything you can think of.

Ask Mr. Robot

Looking to optimize your gear and character for end-game raiding, dungeons, or PvP? Mr. Robot can help you gem, enchant, and reforge your gear, as well as find upgrades, and also has an in-game addon for all of that. There’s a lot to explore on Ask Mr. Robot – I use it all the time. Check it out!

As I noted above, this is nowhere near a comprehensive list of resources. There are also some important links to resources that I didn’t include on this list at the right side of my blog, so feel free to check them out. Additionally, check out resources you can find on other peoples’ blogrolls, and links to great sources of info in articles on the sites I mentioned. There’s a lot of info – and fun stuff to read – out there, and I don’t even know about all of it!

World of Warcraft is a big game – and by that, I’m not referring to how many copies it sells or subscribers it has. What I do mean is this: we’re four full expansions past the game’s release, and looking at possibly a fifth during the next year, which is also the 10th anniversary of the game’s release. That’s a lot of lore and history and community and commentary to discover: you could theoretically lose yourself for hours on some of the sites I mentioned above, and for days on others!

I hope that someone finds this post helpful. I’m not a guide-writer or a theory-crafter, and I’m not even a nine-year “been here since WoW-beta” veteran. But I’ve been around a while, and have found all of these tools useful. Hopefully, sharing them with you can open your eyes to new things as well.

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments and suggestions are welcome and encouraged!


Off-Topic: The best days

It’s good to be in something from the ground floor. I came too late for that and I know. But lately, I’m getting the feeling that I came in at the end. The best is over.

- Tony Soprano, The Sopranos “Pilot” (1999)

_____________________________________________________________________

This part was written on September 14th (with some measure of optimism)

The recent announcement by Darkbrew that Hunting Party Podcast co-host Euripides is done blogging about, talking about, and playing WoW was yet another in what has become a series of retirements/hiatuses by prominent members of the hunter community this year.

This marks the fourth time since the end of May that I’ve read an announcement like this. Tabana, Frostheim, Quelys, and now Euri. The Hunting Party Podcast has not just been decimated, it’s been seriously hurt, although Arth has been doing a tremendous job on the show.

In a game as long-running as this one, with such time commitments, there are several factors that can impact a player’s ability or desire to stay in the game. The number of “I’ve been here since Vanilla beta” players continues to dwindle, as people grow tired or disappointed with the game, or have less time due to family or work commitments, or a desire to use their talents differently. This is only natural, and completely understandable.

However, there’s a part of me that identifies with the above Tony Soprano quote every time someone like Euripides announces that he’s reached the end and is moving on: I came in at the end. The best is over. I missed the best ride, as a blogger and a part of the community.

It seemed like the best days were around the time of Wrath, heading toward Cataclysm. This is probably my perspective alone, but with Wrath seeing overall population numbers reach their zenith, there was also a boom of bloggers about the game itself: theorycrafters and class bloggers, explorers, levelers, raiders, achievers, PvPers, screenshotters, role players, fiction writers, and so on. That all continues today, but it seems at times that, like the subscription numbers, the number of great blogs is dwindling – not toward zero at any time soon, but dwindling nonetheless.

The truth is that we still have some great hunter bloggers, and there are new and rising bloggers out there all the time. However, they don’t always come to our collective attention, and so it feels like the community is shrinking, and some people do seem irreplaceable.

As a person who started blogging almost five years ago, but started blogging hunters 17 months ago, it’s easy to feel like I came in at the end. And perhaps I did miss the community’s zenith, or, at least, came in at the end of the tail end of it (WoW Hunters Hall was a pretty great hunter community site, after all!). But the game and the community are still going strong, and I have to remind myself of this at times like this, when it seems like what I knew to be constant is no longer so. It’s the nature of the game and the community, constantly changing and adapting and fluctuating.

Euripides doesn’t know me from Adam, but I’ve known his voice and writing for years as a hunter and podcast listener. I loved listening to him talk about PvP; I think that, in general, he played the game better than I could ever have the focus to do. I looked up to him, even when I disagreed with occasional points he made on the podcast. And while Darkbrew has long been the zen member of the podcast, and Frost the outspoken one, Euripides held his own in some fun and epic battles with the Frost-meister. I’m going to miss him, and I’ll always remember listening to him.

Take care, Euripides, and best wishes to you and your family!

_____________________________________________________________________

Today (with slightly less optimism)

It’s almost a month later, which means we’re a month further from experiencing the talents of all of the bloggers who have retired over the past year.

We do have a new bright spot in Scattered Shots columnist Adam Koebel, who is doing a fine job over at WoW Insider. After five months of dormancy on the hunter front at WI, there is finally someone there representing the class. This is very important, because WoW Insider has a large reader-base… and while the powers that be seemed to be disinterested for a long time in providing for class columns when previous columnists left, I personally think they provide a critical service to the community.

Beyond Scattered Shots, most of my hunter reading material – what I’d classify as commentary on raiding with the class and playing it well – comes from Kheldul (Hunter-DPS), The Grumpy Elf, Darkbrew (The Brew Hall/OutDPS! The Hunting Party Podcast), and Arth (and commenters at Warcraft Hunters Union). Jademcian (Jade’s Forest) has posted somewhat recently. Jasyla (Cannot Be Tamed) has switched her main from druid to hunter and has some nice posts. And of course there are various hunter guides at Icy Veins, the forums, Youtube, etc.

That’s about it.

Alternatively, after a glance at (the also dormant) WoW Hunters Hall’s blog list, the number of bloggers who have gone dark from that resource list alone in the past year or so is kind of staggering:

  • Loronar
  • Zanbons
  • Garwulf (for the most part)
  • Morynne
  • Euripides
  • Quelys
  • Gavendo
  • Frostheim
  • Mehtomiel
  • And, of course, both Tabana and Kalliope at WHH

And Laeleiweyn is a monk now. Just sayin’. :)

Additionally, there are some signs that the Hunting Party Podcast could be close to having run its course. In a post this past week, Darkbrew hinted that this could be the case. And Arth has also said previously that he doesn’t know how long he’ll be there, or at the WHU for that matter. It’s certainly understandable – both the podcast and the WHU are big commitments and popular hunter gathering places, and also stand as two of the last bastions of the hunter community we have come to love over the years. A lot of work goes into them, and that can be difficult to sustain.

This morning, out of curiosity, I went over to Blog Azeroth to see if there was anything new there. What I found was that participation on that site has dropped precipitously as well. The first page of new blogs, for instance, has 48 blog introductions since the beginning of December, 2012.

I was stunned. Just 18 months ago, I stuck the business card for Mushan, Etc. on there and hoped it wouldn’t be drowned out by other blog introductions. In retrospect, it sort of was and sort of wasn’t; close inspection shows that use of that site has been dwindling for some time now. I think it helped a tad, but it’s not the resource it used to be.

One thing I need to do is take some time on Twitter, to browse through the lists of people who follow me, and people I follow, and check out the people who follow them, and who they follow. There has to be a new (or new-to-me) hunter blog in there somewhere, right?

Before this post gets too long, I should cut it. The purpose isn’t really to whine and complain about people leaving the community of hunter bloggers; rather, it has been sparked by a feeling that the pool is much smaller, and a bit lonelier, than it was a year ago.

Sometimes it seems like there is little to read for days. And as someone who enjoys back-and-forth inter-blog discussions about the class, I’m starting to miss that. And I’m starting to feel like the hunter blog is becoming a “legacy” thing, where there actually isn’t renewal or new birth in the community because of changing technology or due to lack of interest. I’m fine with blogs themselves being “old hat” – I just blog, when I have the time, because it satisfies an interest of mine. So if this is the way it’s going to go down, I’ll accept it. It’s just sad to see so many old friends saying goodbye. The community really is a gift.

o/

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


I Won’t Miss You – a tribute to Frostheim

Frostheim, co-creator of Warcraft Hunters Union (and all that that site has done for us hunters), progenitor of WoW Hunters Hall, long-time Scattered Shots (WoW Insider) columnist, long-time member (and poet laureate) of the Hunting Party Podcast, writer of several amazing odes to hunters, staunch defender of facts and math and balance, advocate for cool new stuff for hunters, recoverer of his own cloak, and generally fun and awesome guy, announced last Saturday on the Hunting Party Podcast – and later that day on WHU – that he is retiring.

Given his recent stretches of absence from the WHU and the HPP, to say that I didn’t see this coming would be incorrect. And he is not quitting the game, but is shutting down his personal commitments to his blogging / podcasting activities in order to devote his time to other ventures. He’s also apparently going to put away his white-quality weapons and lessen the amount of time he spends shooting at target dummies as if they’re trying to invade his city, and actually devote more of his WoW time to playing the game! This is a good thing.

Personally, though – and I know I speak for untold numbers of players out there – I Will Miss You, Frost.

I’m A Hunter

I wasn’t always a hunter. But one of my earliest toons was a hunter back when I started playing shortly after the release of Burning Crusade, although since I was a terrible player (and that’s all the info anyone needs) back then, I failed to get him to level 70.

During the spring of 2010, when the Lich King was dead and we were in the midst of the longest stretch of meaningful-content-less boredom in the history of the game, I started listening to the Hunting Party Podcast. I forget how it happened; the best I can remember is that, as a reader of WoW Insider, I liked Frostheim’s Scattered Shots posts more than just about anything else on the site.

(I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was probably ready for a change at that point… but anyway, to continue…)

Of course, the header on each of his posts mentioned that he was from Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast, and so I checked them out. And let me say, when someone charismatic like Frostheim is available to be both read and listened to, it can be a powerful combination. I wasn’t much of a podcast-listener in those days – my only constant at the time was the WoW Insider Show, which I haven’t listened to in almost a year now, and I had tried out several others that either didn’t grab me or didn’t stick around. So when I found Darkbrew, Euripides, and Frostheim, I was hooked. I downloaded and listened to every single episode that was available on iTunes, and they were my companions that summer and fall as we inched our way toward the launch of Cataclysm.

Meanwhile, I started a few hunters. Mushan stuck, and the rest is history (which I’ve laid out in previous posts). Playing the hunter that summer and fall, leveling the hunter, doing dungeons on the hunter, was every bit as fun as I had imagined it would be while listening to the HPP. As a player who now had some general skill, I didn’t have any of the problems I had had in 2008 with my long-deleted original. I was topping meters, learning to use my utility abilities, enjoying playing the movement/Auto Shot game, and seriously thinking about making Mushan my main. Which eventually happened.

I was “Ana” back in the day, but now I’m “Mushan,” and that is indescribably largely due to the influence of one Frostheim.

Things lately have been quieter on the Mushan/HPP front. I often work on Saturdays, so I don’t get to listen in live when the show is recorded anymore. And the shows have often taken weeks to come out on iTunes, and so over the past several months I’ve only listened a handful of times, and I expect that to continue.

But I’ve always enjoyed listening to Frostheim, and I’m going to miss that. He has given so much to the hunter community at this point that it’s almost a cliche to say so, but I don’t care. Why?

Because without Frostheim, it’s almost certain that there would be no Mushan. And that’s of some importance, at least to me. He literally rejuvenated my WoW experience by unknowingly reintroducing me to the hunter class. He changed the game for me. Without Frostheim, I might not have switched over to a hunter. Without Frostheim, I might not even be playing the game anymore. At the very least, without Frostheim, this blog would certainly not exist in this form.

The first paragraph of this post probably makes me sound like a bit of a fan-boy. Am I a fan-boy of Frostheim? Hell yes! I think my previous paragraph does a pretty good job explaining why.

And so, to Frostheim, Thank You for all you’ve done for hunters. You’ve been a gift to us these past several years, and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be following whatever you do in the future – stay in touch!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


My selfish hopes for Flex Raiding, Raid Finder

Squido told me about Flex Raiding before I had read about it myself. He seemed excited about it.

I wasn’t so sure. My first thought was this:

Oh great. Now I’ll have three raids to run every week on just one character… to spread my bonus rolls around to, to make decisions on, etc. Awesome. (Sarcasm implied) (Yes, Mushan is a hunter and he thinks to himself in green-colored font: stayin’ class-y).

Additionally, the whole “flex raiding is great when you don’t have enough people to fill a 25″ thing doesn’t do much for me. Usually, the problem our guild has is that, too often, not enough people show up to even fill a 10-person team. Last night, for instance, we 9-manned the first four bosses in ToT because the replacement healer that was apparently confirmed ahead of time didn’t log in at all, and there were no other options to even pick up a body. So from that nit-picky standpoint, this solves no problems for me.

The other side of the issue, the ‘three raids per week’ concept, was another irritant for me. More busywork*. More shit to do if I want to take all of the opportunities within my grasp / within my community to be as geared and ready as possible when it comes time to raid with my team.

*I’m considering anything that isn’t either new lore, fun adventuring, or progression raiding to be busywork today – such is my current mood.

Thus were my initial thoughts.

Since then, I’ve read more about flex raids; additionally, more information, some of it speculative or tentative, has come out. And I listened to last weekend’s CTR interview with Preach - a fascinating interview, by the way – in which they discussed flex, LFR, and where they think Blizzard needs to take these concepts in the future.

And here’s an interesting quote from Ghostcrawler:

One item that hasn’t been mentioned, at least to my knowledge, is whether ilvl upgrades will be going away again in 5.4. I have sort of been assuming that they will be, and will play my VP-managing game according to that premise. However, if by some chance the upgrade NPCs remain plying their trade in 5.4, the game changes a little bit.

In that case – depending, of course, on itemization and socketing for the new gear – flex gear, able to be upgraded under current rules, would be highly sought after. 544 is no joke to a normal-mode raider, after all, at this point in the game.

At any rate, it looks like Blizzard is not working terribly hard to bring LFR any closer to its original premise of “it’s for non-raiders to see the raid content” and any further from what it is now: raiders use it to fill holes in their gear sets or to initially gear up, or to get legendary quest items, and LFR is still too hard for non-raiders and too easy and irritating for raiders.

I could start a rant here. I’m trying not to; I’m trying to stay on track.

There needs to be a bigger separation.

I like the idea of flex raiding, I guess. It forces people to put teams together to run a raid built explicitly for that raid team’s size. Its gear is almost 20 ilvls lower than normal mode. Got it.

But I’d like to see LFR become largely irrelevant for normal mode raiders. And to accomplish in-game goals such as mine, that’s not the way it is right now.

Case in point: I finally finished collecting Secrets of the Empire a few weeks ago. I’m now collecting Titan Runestones. Where can I get those? Well, they have the chance to drop off the bosses in parts 3 and 4 of ToT. Bosses that, for various reasons, my team is not killing yet. Thus, my personal progression – my personal goal, of questing through the Legendary quest line for better gear – has left me no options other than to a) run ToT LFR for those quest items, week after week, or b) choose not to do so, stalling my progress and possibly choosing to thereby not finish the questline at all, since the likelihood that I will be killing those bosses with much regularity is marginal at best in normal mode.

It’s a harsh choice. After all, I’ve never had a legendary. And I’d love to finish legendary progress at least one time before my time in this game is over. So this is an in-game goal, combined with a result that will probably help me contribute better to my team. And how do I accomplish this? The same way I’ve accomplished major portions of it up to this point: I slug out a few LFRs every week. Content I grossly over-gear at this point. Content that is frustrating because it’s for ‘everyone,’ and therefore much time is wasted in the process of succeeding in picking off those bosses for possible pieces of the puzzle.

With 5.4 and flex raiding, the importance of LFR may diminish for me with the hunter. Judging by how long it will take for it to come to live servers, I will likely be entirely covered in gear that is higher level than the gear from SoO LFR, thanks to Thunderforged normal gear and VP ilvl upgrades. In fact, I will be very close to the flex level. So at least I may be able to skip SoO LFR, unless… Tier gear. Oh yeah, and weapons with crazy, OP weapon procs. Yeah. Yeah…

(deep breath, go get a drink, Mushan.)

I really, REALLY liked what Preach (and the CTR guys) had to say about how the concept of LFR gets it wrong. I’m going to mix my feelings with their points, because they are melded together in my head now and because I don’t feel like writing up a transcript of the podcast in order to quote them correctly. Definitely listen to the show if you haven’t already – here’s the link again.

Anyway…

If the point of it is for everyone in the game to be able to see the content, why is it able to be completed by the fifth week after the new raid opens? Why is it built to be such a challenge that groups will fail if they don’t have raiders in the group? What happened to the idea that you finally kill the final boss after a long, hard struggle, which gives it an epic feeling of total awesome?

From my experience – and I talked about this before Throne of Thunder had even dropped, in my post Discovery, together: the number 1 reason “the new Ulduar” will differ from the old Ulduar – the answer to the last question is that, unless you’re at the front of the pack, it’s likely gone.

Preach talked about how the Lei Shen heroic fight is one of the greatest boss encounters Blizzard has ever made. I’ve only seen it once it on normal, but I’ve seen it several times in LFR.

Meh.

The soul of raiding is absent, by and large, from LFR. It’s you and 24 other tools (and I use that word to mean ‘things you use to get a job done,’ not derogatorily) smashing and bumbling your way to VP/gear/quest items.

And for those of us who find ourselves there week after week, doing boringly-insane DPS and dealing with tanks who queue for the first time ever for Pinnacle of Storms with an ilvl of 484 in full PvP gear with 426k health unbuffed, gemmed for PvP power/resilience (when there are gems), missing most enchants and all glyphs, who say “first time here…” (for example), it can be numbing if you let it get to you / if you do it often enough.

It’s badly designed. There needs to be virtually no incentive for raiders to do LFR – baked right into the game. It needs to be a true faceroll, with no trollable mechanics (like the healer today who yelled repeatedly at people to stack on the Gastropods and then lol’d at all the people who died. Asshole.). It needs to not have any gear we normal-mode raiders could possibly want. And I really like the suggestion from the podcast, that the introduction of LFR be delayed much longer than it is now, possibly even until the following patch (like 5.3 or 5.5).

This suggestion, the delay of 8-12 weeks or so, seems to me to be the best solution. It takes LFR off the table for Day One raiders. It takes care of the “I have to do this three times every week” mentality. It gives LFR-only raiders something to look forward to, while still giving them a chance to gear up. And it narrows the focus of raiders a bit, particularly with flex raiding coming.

I know that this probably reads as something of a haphazard, tangent-filled rant, as well as the fact that it is certainly not a well-thought-out, step-by-step solution/proposal. Apologies for that.

One more thought, before I wrap this up and try to move on to some other topic for some other post…

There may be other guilds like mine, where the only days you see many people online are on raid nights. In my guild, that’s Saturday and Sunday.

We tried to do LFR nights for a while during the week, but after a few weeks (each tier), attendance participation petered out. What I’m curious about is whether flex raiding is something my guild (and others like it) will be able to do as a team, without sacrificing raid time. My guess is that it will not be.

As such, I’m likely going to try to latch onto and pug with a guild that does regular flex raid runs earlier in the week. Because I’ll probably need gear from SoOflex, and it will give me something productive to do during the week. If this is possible, I may be able to avoid LFR in its entirety in 5.4 with Mushan, which would be a very, very good thing.

We’ll see what happens… :)

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Off Topic: Some minor changes to the blog

The changes... were not this drastic!

The changes… were not this drastic!

For some things, the time was right.

For others, the time had come and gone and was long past.

Whatever the timing, this week seemed like a good time to freshen up the look here at Mushan, Etc.

Since the blog started 14 months ago, it has basically looked the same: plain white background, header showing Mushan in his old (future transmog) gear, wearing his polearm like a boss, standing in Silithus with his ravager; Gravatar a black and white version of the same screenshot.

It had been getting old for a long time, for serious. Check it out…

It’s still a good shot… but it was time for something new.

This week, I was inspired to change it up a bit, to add some color. I started with the header, taking some screenshots in a few different places before finding a situation that I really liked. I’m sure you can figure out where I was standing… anyway, the screenshot turned out so great that I decided to use it for my avatar as well! Once I had the header in place, I decided that it looked like too much of a bright contrast when combined with the plain white background, so I changed that too, finding a color that fit with the theme of the header shot. It turned out way, way better than I had expected. I actually like to look at my site for fun again!

(Yes, yes, I am so vain…)

I also took a long-needed sweep through my blog rolls, cutting several links to blogs that haven’t been posted to in six months or more. My blog rolls aren’t necessarily something that people need, but readers do seem to click them from time to time, so I’d like to have rather current links on them. Hopefully everything that I left (or added!) is moderately current; I don’t want to be the guy that sends people to out-of-date info…

Additionally, I added a new section for podcasts. It’s not extensive by any stretch of the imagination, but then again I don’t listen to many podcasts. Convert to Raid is, without exception, my favorite podcast right now, and I also enjoy Legendary, the HPP, and Twisted Nether. I also added a couple of non-WoW ones, because I like them and because… I don’t listen to that many podcasts. However, I plan on working to change that. I have a short list to check out in the near future, like Hearthcast, The Instance, Realm Maintenance, All Things Azeroth, and Ready Check. We’ll see how that goes – if I latch on to something, I’ll add it to the list. For now, the ones there are the ones I listen to and enjoy on a regular basis.

Other than that, I generally just tried to trim a modicum of clutter from my blog. Like I said, these were minor changes, but hopefully this makes my site more aesthetically pleasing and seemingly alive, or something. I’ve got to say again, though: I’m very excited about how the new colors and header turned out. Hope you all enjoy it!

Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


The luck, and the lack thereof

T14 4p - Woot!

T14 4p – Woot!

On Monday morning, I was playing my mage – doing my farming at Halfhill, actually – when the call went out for a Sha of Anger group. I took the invite and, upon using my bonus roll, was awarded the Tier 14 leg token.

Now, my luck on this mage has been pretty good, if I may say so myself. Playing him casually, compared to the hunter, I’ve managed to get him up to ilvl 481. With the 4-piece bonus. 

Mushan, on the other hand, has three pieces of T14.

Sonofa…

I can’t get T14 Protector shoulders to drop from Lei Shi to save my life, in spite of faithful weekly kills and rolls, just like I can’t get Feng (FENG!)** to to cough up his mail boots. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining or bitter, because I’ve had some pretty nice luck with Mushan, with a Sha-Touched weapon and gem, three tier pieces (including two 496′s from Sha of Anger and the 496 helm from Sha of Fear), 489 belt-amulet-cloak-bracers from Mogu’shan Vaults… considering what we’ve killed, I’ve made out very well.

**From Convert to Raid. Awesome, awesome podcast. Listen to it, or you’re missing out on the awesome.

It’s just funny how things work when it comes to RNG. My mage has, at most, a third of the effort put into him that has gone into Mushan in this expansion, and he’s got the 4-piece. Of course, he doesn’t have a nice purple weapon, and his gear has some holes here and there, but he gets by. He gets by just fine.  ;)

After dabbling with Fire for a short bit and being seriously turned off by how sluggish it felt compared to my hunter, I’ve been full-on Frost DPS on Modhriel since shortly after I hit 90. I enjoy it very much; it plays fast, which makes it a lot of fun, and I’ve found that I can hold my own in situations like LFR, dungeons, or Sha groups. It’s great that all three mage specs are generally viable now, because, since I enjoy the way that Survival plays – pretty active – Frost mage is a nice approximation, at least as far as pacing goes. The mage isn’t a raiding toon in the strictest sense, but I think I could raid with it, and while I don’t have the level of expertise (and I use that term relatively) and experience with mages that I do with hunters, I still feel comfortable enough that I could jump into Mogu’shan Vaults, at least, and be effective.

So… this isn’t a bitter post, by any stretch. I’m very happy with where my hunter is, gear-wise, so I write this from a happy place. I’m thrilled that this toon has the 4-piece – how could I not be? I just think it’s funny how RNG works: I grind and grind for a couple of things on the hunter, over the course of months, to no avail, but the mage is like, “Yes, I’ll take one of those, and one of those…” It makes me chuckle!

Good times in Pandaria. Indeed.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc. Comments are welcome!


Blog Azeroth Shared Topic: Starstruck by someone in the WoW community

I’ve been wanting to write about a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic for a long time – since the days when I used to blog about WoW on a different blog a few years ago, actually.  But, for various reasons, I never did.  However, this week’s Shared Topic is something I’m ready and willing to talk about, particularly as this particular topic both a) resonates with me pretty deeply, and b) comes from friend and fellow blogger, Dragonray at Azerothian Life.

Dragonray’s suggestion, from Blog Azeroth:

Are you starstruck by anyone? Does someone in the community respond to a post or a tweet and get you all speechless because they actually responded? Is there anyone you are waiting to have respond directly to you? Is there someone that you would like to chat to, but are too chicken? Am I the only one who puts other bloggers on a pedestal?

Like I said above, this topic hits home with me.  As a blogger, I have, at this point, a few years of experience with blogging itself, about both WoW and other topics.  However, I am still strictly an amateur blogger, in more than one sense.  Basically, I’m both a non-pro financially and a non-pro with regard to my skill and output.

So, with that being said, here are some things that make my mid-30s, hairy male semi-nerd heart flutter…

The meta-sites

I’ve been lucky in ways that I’ve never been lucky before – and by that, I mean with previous WoW- and non-WoW blogs – with Mushan, Etc.  I’m not entirely certain why, but I’ll attempt to map out my great fortune in a way that isn’t too ponderous to read.

For a few years now, I’ve followed the Warcraft Hunters Union and the Hunting Party Podcast pretty religiously.  Occasionally, I’ve commented on Frostheim’s blog as Mushan, and have made half-assed comments in the live chat during the HPP.  Nine of ten people in those chats probably don’t recognize me in there, or know that I have a blog, but Laeleiweyn of World of Lae and the Hunterstalker page (and a diehard WHU fan like myself) was someone who took an interest in my fledgling blog, and was an early follower of my Twitter account, which was totally awesome!  From there, I eventually began to be followed by Tabana at WoW Hunters Hall, and thanks to her links, I have gotten a ton of traffic that I would have never gotten. Seriously, Tabana is responsible for the largest percentage of my page views from one source – by a long shot – given that she has spotlighted several of my posts during the past two-plus months.

And… here’s where we get to the starstruck thing.  When Tabana first linked one of my posts on WHH, I figuratively “lost my shit.”  It was an afternoon, and I had come home from an errand or walk or something, and I saw the pingback, and I was like, “Omg. O. M. G!”

I texted my friend and raid leader, Squido, with something to the effect of, “Holy shit my post got linked on WoW Hunters Hall OMG OMG!!!”  And I watched throughout the day, as I got a nice jump on the hits to my site and to that particular post, and it was one of the most exciting things that had ever happened to me as a blogger.  Since then, I’ve been linked on the WHH several more times, and each time it happens I feel a very deep gratitude to Tabana for thinking that some of the things that I write are worth sharing.

This escalated back in May when, on the eve of Diablo’s release, I wrote a post about naming cookie cutter talent builds in MoP that was graciously shared by Tabana.  Within hours after her link, I logged in to Google Reader to see that my post had been mentioned by Hugh Hancock at MMO Melting Pot.  This is what I blurted out loud (in my home, by myself) when I saw that:

“Daaaaaaaaayuummnnn…….!!!!!”

I promptly thanked him for the link in a comment on his post.  But it didn’t stop there.  The next day, the discussion was picked up by the amazing Anne Stickney of WoW Insider, and… well… folks… I just about had a heart attack.  Because seriously, what little WoW blogger like me doesn’t want to be linked by WoW Insider, and Anne Stickney in particular??

I know, right?

The text I sent to Squido that I mentioned in a previous paragraph? Well, I sent him something similar after this, maybe a bit amplified, on this occasion.

So yeah, on each occasion that I was linked by something that is generally considered a meta site or a portal, I had heart palpitations and so on.  My only multiple meta site link to this point has been WHH, but any time I get some exposure for my thoughts or ideas from a site like this, it’s a good thing.

The fellow bloggers

OK, seriously?  Fellow bloggers?

Here’s the straight deal: I’m as happy as can be whenever one of the following happens (and I’m talking about bloggers here when I say “Someone”:

1) Someone puts me on his or her blogroll;

2) Someone leaves a comment on one of my posts;

3) Someone interacts with me on Twitter;

4) Someone links one of my posts on their blog or on Twitter;

5) Someone responds to one of my comments on his/her own blog;

…in no particular order.

I mean… when Lae – someone whose blog I’ve followed for a while now –  first followed me on Twitter (as mentioned above), I thought to myself, “Shit, dude. You’re already doing better than you did in 15 months of WoW blogging back at the old blog.”  Because when I was essentially a druid blogger back then… I don’t know if I just didn’t say the correct things or what, but I rarely got attention from my blogging ‘heroes’ at the time, and when I did, it took me a while.  This may be because I’ve become involved with a different set of communities (the hunter community totally rules; plus, the ‘general WoW blogger community’ as a whole is seemingly more open nowadays) than I was back then.  But – and I don’t specifically know/remember how Lae found me – having her follow my Twitter/blog was so very reaffirming.  And things grew from there.

From that point, I’ve been fortunate to have great bloggers find me via various means – including Twitter friends / retweets, the WordPress Dashboard, through WHH and WoW Insider – and I cherish everyone who has come to consider my community input as something of an equal: Erinys, Dragonray, Lae, Spencer, Rioriel, Tabana, Tzufit, Jasyla, Lilpeanut, Justin, Cymre, Aralosseien, Alyzande, Garrosh, Zanbon, and anyone else that I can’t think of at the moment.  Each time one of these great people has friended me and/or supported me in one way or another, I’ve felt proud, privileged, and – quite frankly – awed.

The in-game friends

I only have a handful of people who follow me via the at-this-point-old-school method of ‘subscribing to a blog,’ but most of them are friends and/or guildies.  Three of them that come to mind are all close friends, and I am honored that each of them follows my blog.  It feels awesome to know that Squid, Ela and Jac are all following me and taking an interest in the things that I write about.  I talk with Jac a lot about hunters, Ela a lot about raiding and lore and other games (among other things), and Squido about hunters, raiding, other classes, blog posts and resources of interest, and just about anything else.  Each of these three have been friends of mine for years at this point, and the fact that, for instance, Jac found out about my blog because he saw me comment on a different blog that we mutually – but separately – followed was pretty amazing to me.  And each of these friends and fellow raid-mates have complimented me on the blog, and that means more than I can express.

The funny thing is, I have several other WoW friends who I play with (or have played with) that I still haven’t told about the blog.  When and if I do so, I’ll be happy as all get out when/if they take an interest in the things that I have to say here.

People that I haven’t really ‘met’ yet

If the following people would ever chance to read (and respond to) my blog, I would probably… well, I don’t know what the hell I’d do:

  • Frostheim, Darkbrew, and Euripides
  • Matthew Rossi
  • Big Red Kitty
  • Big Bear Butt
  • Cynwise
  • Quel
  • Michele Morrow
  • Fimlys and/or Hydra
  • there are probably others that I can’t think of at the moment.
Not too much to be said there!

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OK, this post is winding down.  I can’t imagine that I’ve covered everyone that has made me “starstruck” with regard to the WoW blogosphere and so on.  However, I’ve covered the major points in general, and this post is getting long, so I think I’ll close.

Thanks, again, to everyone who reads this blog and finds me interesting / informative / entertaining / whatever.  I am truly honored to have each and every reader, old and new – whether you’re a fellow blogger, friend, or just an interested reader.

And thanks to all of you for giving me that ‘starstruck’ feeling by interacting with me on the blog and/or online!  Seriously – you each made me feel so blessed when you came into my blog-world!!

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


Mushan, pronounced (for Hydra!)

When I think up character names – when I’m not ripping them off from books – I think them up entirely in my head.  By that, I mean that I have some characters that have what are, to me, originally created names.*  Anacrusa and Mushan are two of these.  I also made up Abenadari, my draenei paladin.  These three, at the time that I made them, were each created at the login screen, playing around with letters, wondering how they would sound, and so on.

*This doesn’t mean that nobody else has those names, but it means that I made them up in my brain, they were available when I entered them into the character creation screen, and I didn’t look to an outside influence when I did so.

Of my names, the one that gives me, personally, the most trouble with pronunciation is my warrior, Droignon.  I stole his name from the Jester Series of books by Alan Gordon, along with Theophilos and Feste, which are all names used by the protagonist in those books.  I loved the name Droignon – loved how it looked, and how it looked like it might be pronounced like filet mignon.  (Yes, this is how my brain works!)

How it’s been pronounced

Anacrusa flows off the tongue, and, once you sound it out, Abenadari does too.  However, Mushan seems to cause loads of trouble for some people.  I’ve had friends call me Mu-shan (rhyming with can), which is fine.  One of my guild-mates started calling me Mushy (rhyming alternatively with slushy or bushy) during Firelands because apparently that was easier to say than the full word, and I accepted that, because my brain by that time could react to being identified as Mushy in vent.

On a more public scale, though, I’ve had the good fortune of having my name pronounced on two podcasts.

For several months, I’ve been actually logging into the chatroom for the live Hunting Party Podcast when I’m able to attend.  For those who don’t know the HPP, if you have any interest in hunters, fun podcasts, or just WoW in general, it’s both informative and very entertaining – hunters have a great community, so the conversation is lively and friendly.

Anyway, during the podcast, Frostheim reads the names of those who join the conversation in the chat room, and part of the fun is hearing him either nail or butcher various names.  I was relieved to hear Frost pronounce my name “MOO-shahn” the first time I managed to log in on time, and that was fine.

Today, though, I was listening to last week’s episode of the Twisted Nether Blogcast, and was delighted to hear Hydra announce my blog as one of the new introductions on Blog Azeroth over the past couple of weeks.  Unfortunately, she didn’t quite get the pronunciation of my name, but she did spell it out.

How I pronounce it

In the interest of anyone who cares, I pronounce my hunter’s name “moo-SHAHN” with the second syllable rhyming with John.  I also like Frostheim’s version accenting the first syllable; I think it sounds cool.  But, if you should ever read this, Hydra, no worries!  (And thanks for introducing my blog on the show!)  You’re not the first person, and you won’t be the last, to not know what to think when you see my name.  Unintentionally, I chose a name that has an uncertain pronunciation, so I guess it comes with the territory!

^^

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


Have Group, Must Summon: the removal of a favorite guild perk means more responsibility for individual raiders

People are upset about this change.

This afternoon, I listened to most of the latest episode of the Twisted Nether Blogcast, in which hosts Fimlys and Hydra discuss the opening of beta and the massive wave of Mists of Pandaria information following the press tour back in mid-March.

During the podcast, they talked about the upcoming removal of the popular guild perk, Have Group, Will Travel, and its relation to the announcement that there will be three raids in the initial tier.

Hydra, in particular, felt that this was a big negative, as she explained to Fimlys and a roundtable consisting of Rades (Orcish Army Knife), Poneria (Fel Concentration/WoW Insider) and Nevik (Nevik’s Notebook):

If they’re getting rid of the whole ‘Have Group, Will Travel,’ it’s gonna make this really annoying.  I mean, this is one of the things which, when they put out Cata with the three different raids, at first it worked out great, because . . . you’re not plowing through it; you’re working at it, you know, doing four or five bosses in the raid and then . . . the next day, maybe, you’ll go to the next one.  But when you were all geared up, after two or three months or whatever it takes, and you’re plowing through it and it only takes you an hour and a half or so to get through it, and you have a three hour raid [session], then you’re spending twenty minutes, a half hour, or whatever. . . between breaks, getting everybody over there, getting it all together, and then starting on trash again, and that interruption. . . I don’t like the fact that it takes like twenty minutes in between raids.

Blizzard claims it is removing this perk as a way to address player concerns that there aren’t many people out in the world doing things; that Stormwind and Orgrimmar, like Dalaran before them, have become lobbies where players sit around queueing (or waiting for a mass summon, in this case) for instances.

In Wrath of the Lich King, Dalaran sat in the center of the continent, while, for raids, players flew southeast for Naxxramas, south for Obsidium Sanctum, northeast for Ulduar, north for Trial of the Crusader, and west for The Eye of Eternity and Icecrown Citadel.  I don’t know where the hub will be located in Pandaria, but the experience in Mists will be similar to how raid summons worked in Wrath.

Personally, I’m not as annoyed about this change as many others seem to be.  In Cataclysm, I didn’t really start raiding until guilds had T11 raids on farm, and I never felt that it was a huge deal to fly Northwest from Stormwind to Blackrock Mountain for BWD.  Following that, a hearth to the Dwarven District and a very close portal to Twilight Highlands or Uldum meant that BoT or Tot4W was theoretically reachable in just a few minutes.  Of course, this is from an Alliance perspective.

The wasted-time problems come when other team members don’t show the same initiative.  Often there is a break between raids in these situations, since it’s a natural place to take one.  Then, you run into issues where So-and-so is afk for an extra six minutes, Someone is declining or ignoring his summon because he’s gemming / enchanting / reforging new gear, and Somebody went offline to fix an addon and hasn’t logged back in yet.  And of course, You-know-who decided to pug the second raid on all of his toons earlier in the week, so you have to find somebody to replace him.  This takes more time than the active summoning process, in my experience, because those doing the summoning have to do so around all of these other distractions.

Despite the fact that the 80-85 zones were scattered across Azeroth, the raid instance portals were fairly easy to get to.  In Mists of Pandaria, from what I understand, the first tier of raids will be confined to Pandaria itself, meaning that, with flight available at level 90, it shouldn’t be much more difficult than it is now to get a team to a raid portal, providing the individual players are responsible: on time, ready to go, and willing to get themselves to the instance or help others get there as quickly as possible.

Have Group, Will Travel is undeniably a sweet perk, and we will all definitely miss it.  The problem, though, is not with its removal.  Rather, the problem is an individual one: if your raid team doesn’t have 10/25 individuals who are proactive about getting to the instance quickly – or, at the very least, about accepting a summon when it comes – then yes, not having this perk will suck.  However, in my experience, getting everyone into the raid instance is not a Blizzard problem – it’s a raider problem.

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Thanks for reading this post by Mushan at Mushan, Etc.  Comments are welcome!


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