Thursday, October 18, 2007

Brewfest, or "If You Don't Have a Hangover Now, Wait"

Brewfest is a warcraft event loosely based on the real-world Oktoberfest. Its theme is getting drunk.

You begin by speaking to a reveler inside any major city. From there, you are sent to Ironforge (A) or Orgrimmar (H). You must speak to the man in charge (he's always under the Brewfest grounds entrance banner), and he'll give you some random drink that I used right away to get it out of my bags.

There are three quest givers available after speaking to him. The one on the Brewfest grounds will give you the quest for the small pet, Wolpertinger, and the quest for killing pink elekks in all the other major cities (which is the best quest for a large stack of tickets). The other two are right beside each other, just outside the Brewfest grounds. One gives you the ram quests, and the other gives you the "Did Someone Say Souvenir?" quest, which produces the Yellow Brewfest Stein.

Do the "Did Someone Say Souvenir?" quest first. The Yellow Brewfest Stein, when equipped, allows you to drink from the three kegs placed around the Brewfest grounds. However, if your level is low, two of the kegs will be too high level and will make you vomit (green projectile spew -- not attractive). So try them all and keep drinking from the one you can stomach.

You'll need the Stein to get drunk without having to buy alcohol. And you need to be stumbling, blindingly drunk to perform the Wolpertinger quest.

To get the Wolpertinger, a cute jackalope-like creature with wings, you get a net to throw on 5 of them. To SEE the Wild Wolpertingers that you have to net, you must be so drunk that you can't see anything on your screen, it's so blurry. To CLICK on them requires luck because you're ... well, you're stinking drunk. Try using the Tab key to switch targets, or type "/tar wild." That will make you target anything whose name begins with "wild."

Net 5 and return to the guy, and you get one of your own. Easiest quest ever.

The pink elekks are equally easy. Just go to all the major cities, get stinking drunk, and zap three with the ray you were given.

The ram quests are daily and are the hardest by far because the ram is so difficult to control properly. Use the time you have with your practice ram (Ram Racing) to practice running the paths of the daily quests before you actually have to do them.

My friend Thellys wrote decent run-throughs of the ram quests (I didn't do them because they were buggy for a while):

Ram racing. First off, curse Blizzard for reminding me of one of the worst lines in Star Wars, Episode Crap. I seriously hated that smug little kid and his dumb Nascar podrace. Anyway, I digress. The first ram racing quest is a tutorial on making it move. You'll receive a quest item and be placed on a ram. The ram walks. If you use the quest item, there is a snapping sound and the ram walks a wee bit faster...then slows to a walk again. What you need is a rhythm, and I highly recommend hotkeying reins. Tap the reins to make the ram go, and do it first at a slow pace, then a bit quicker, then spam the button - but always try to do it at a steady rhythm. Hold each speed (trot = slow; canter = medium; gallop = as fast as Thrall runs in OHB) for eight seconds, then go to the guy and you succeed. REWARD: I dunno. Do you get tickets for this? There are two daily quests you can do after doing this though, so it's definitely worth it to open them up.

Moving kegs. Now that same guy wants you to go get him some kegs. You can do this minigame (it doesn't count as a quest) once per day. The idea is that you make a circuit from just outside Orgrimmar to a goblin a short distance south of the city and then back again, as many times as you can in four minutes. So just run, right? Well, yes and no. As you should have noticed during the tutorial, when the ram moves at a walk or at a trot, everything is good, but if you canter the ram gets tired, and if you gallop the ram gets tired really stinkin' fast. Look at your bar of buffs to see the fatigue building on the ram. When fatigue hits 100, the ram will move so slowly you'll think you're on an escort quest. This uber lame debuff will last for 15 seconds, and will totally screw you over on anything timed. Priority #1 is to avoid being fatigued. So, then, we want to go fast, but going fast makes us go slow. The key to this quest is the barrels of apples along the way. When a ram eats apples, its fatigue (the 1-100 meter) is reset. There are two barrels of apples along the course, and you do not need to stop for the ram to eat. Before you start this minigame, take the time to locate the barrels. Plan a route that passes right beside each one, each way. Now, start the quest and whip your ram to a gallop, pass the apples to reset its fatigue, keep galloping to the second apple barrel, then ease off the speed, but only just a bit. Your goal is to reach the keg thrower and get back to the barrel at 95 fatigue - this means that you did it as quickly as possible without risking becoming all slow and dumb. As soon as you get the fatigue wipe from barrel #2 on the return trip, gallop all out back to barrel #1, which wipes fatigue again. Now be careful to slow down, probably even to a canter. This is because it's a LONG round trip from barrel #1 to the keg receiver and back to barrel #1, and you really don't want the 15 second debuff. Anyway, practice makes perfect on this one, I suppose. REWARD: 2 tickets per keg delivered.

Barking. The ogres and the trolls each want you to run around Orgrimmar yelling about how great their brew is. This is another ram racing event, but it's all about pacing. You again have four minutes, and you need to make a fairly complete circuit around Orgrimmar in that time. The problem is that there are no apple barrels in the city, so there is no way to wipe the ram's fatigue. Believe it or not, this quest isn't so hard once you know what to do. Summon your normal mount. Take off your Riding Crop or your Carrot. Now you're moving at normal speed - this, in my experience, is the speed you want to aim for on the ram. Fast enough to be fast, but not so fast that the ram will tire too quickly. The other secret to this quest - and this is a true quest that counts as one of your dailies - is the path you take. I recommend going from the start, into the city (duh), pass the AH (1/4 objectives) and head toward The Drag. From there, go into the Valley of Honor, circle by the Brewfest banner (2/4 objectives) and exit the Valley of Honor the same way you entered. When you get back to The Drag, turn right to head toward the Valley of Wisdom. Run straight and you'll hit a pair of brewfest banners. Run between them (3/4 objectives), then turn left. Follow the road south, and take the south fork - not the one that goes into the Cleft of Shadow. You are on the road to the Valley of Spirits. Follow the road as it curves, and you will eventually come to the last banner you need (4/4). Once you hit that banner, turn around and jump down into the Valley of Strength, and out of the city. You must get back to the questgiver to turn the quest in within the 4 minute timeframe. Although it is possible to do this on the ram, it is easier to dismiss the ram after you have 4/4 quest objectives complete and to ride your regular mount back to the questgiver. Either way. REWARD: 15 tickets.
Now, when you first get to the Brewfest grounds, you may notice random dwarves popping up from the ground and causing havoc. And everyone is all intent on attacking them, but you select them and, lo, you can't attack!

Here's the deal. It happens every hour on the half hour (1:30, 2:30, 3:30, etc). Find a Barker, right beside one of the three stands. /wave at him and he'll throw you a Complimentary Brewfest Sample. Hotkey it. Stand close enough to the Barker so that he'll toss you another one when you throw the one you have (feel free to practice before the starting time). When the dwarves attack, face the direction of newly-arrived tunnelers and spam the hotkeyed Sample button (never stop hitting it, for any reason). You don't have to run up -- it will auto-target for you. And you don't have to move around a lot -- I got ten by staying within a fairly small area on the edge and facing the newest arrivals. By the end, though, you can barely see anything so everyone just points and hopes.

You will get drunk by doing this, since you're drinking the Complimentary Brewfest Sample before you throw it -- you'll be as drunk as you'd need to be to see the Wolpertingers, so if you wanted to know what that looks like, see the image below (my Wolpertinger is behind me). Evidence of drunkenness includes blurry screen, slurred speech, not being able to run in a straight line, and seeing all monsters and enemies as a level or more lower than they actually are. It hurts the eyes after a while, and slurred speech gets old pretty fast when everyone in your guild is drunk.

General loot of interest are bought with tickets (you get one buff for every dwarf invader you tag before anyone else and one ticket for every buff). The ticket vendors are Blix Fixwidget (H) and Belbi Quickswitch (A). Blix is completely sexist, and I didn't spend much time around Belbi, but she seems kind of forward too.

I liked the dress and regalia. I'd love to get the regalia for my draenei next year, and the dress for Dustfire. The shoes are sweet, but shoes don't show on draenei, and I'm not so crazy about them that I'd waste time getting 100 tickets for them.

I didn't adore the hats (blue, brown, green, purple).

The goggles are kind of amusing. Belbi's goggles turn everyone you see into a gnome. Blix's goggles turn everyone into an orc. I don't care much about gnomes or orcs, though.

The riding ram is probably the most coveted prize (can't purchase it until level 40), and expensive at 600 tickets. It has a Brewfest banner across its back, like a blanket. Scroll up and click on the picture of Thellys on his ram, and you can see the blanket more clearly.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Warsong Gulch, or "Turtle Soup"

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening, beaufiful Soup!
Beau--ootiful Soo--oop!
Beau--ootiful Soo--oop!
Soo--oop of the e--e--evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!
--Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

Turtling: When a whole team gathers together around one point and will not move; in WSG, it's usually around the flag or flag carrier. Turtling prolongs games to unnecessary lengths.


The Game

Warsong Gulch is a capture-the-flag game. You must capture the enemy's flag 3 times to win. Until one team captures 3 flags, the game will not end.

The Gameplay

10 players.

The minimap (shift-M) shows where your teammates are and where your flag-carrier is.

Each side has a starting base (south for horde, north for alliance) with a flag (red for horde, blue for alliance). An enemy player can enter the base and click on your flag, thereby picking it up. That player is called the Flag Carrier or Flag Runner, and attempts to take your flag back to their base, where they must run up to their own flag to capture yours.

If their flag is not at their base (you have captured it), then both teams must protect their flag carrier while killing the enemy player holding their team's flag.

The flags leave a trail, like blue or red dust, for a certain length behind the carrier (who cannot mount but can transform while carrying the flag), so it is fairly easy to follow (around corners, for example). Alliance players will chase the blue flag (to kill the carrier and reclaim it), and Horde players will chase the red flag (ditto). When the enemy flag carrier is killed (called "returning the flag"), the friendly flag carrier can bring the enemy flag to the newly-returned friendly flag in order to capture it (called "capping").

The terrain is such that the bases are far apart with a wide, flat terrain in the middle. The struggle is getting the flags past the people fighting in the middle of the map and keeping those people away from the flag carrier until the flag is capped.

The Strategy

The best flag carriers are classes with enhanced speed: druids in run form, shamans in ghost wolf form, or hunters with their speed buff. Also, mages, with blink, are very good at getting out of snares set for them by their enemies.

Like with AB: know your class and it's pvp strengths, coordinate with your team, and don't join a battleground unless you're in the upper half of your bracket.

In Warsong Gulch, coordination is the most important part. Because you only have a 10-man team, and protecting your flag carrier is directly related to winning, not a single player can be spared to goof off. Either you are keeping the enemy busy while a team runs in to take their flag, you're defending your own flag at your base, you're killing their flag runner, or you are aiding your flag runner. The least important job is fighting in the center. If any other job needs doing, that is where you should be.

A trick to carrying the flag: when you pick the flag up, you get a buff. You can right-click that buff to drop the flag on the ground (this also happens if you die) for a very short amount of time. The flag can be picked up by a teammate if they are very quick to click on the flag (they should start clicking rapidly in the spot the flag will drop to), though an opposing player can click on it and return it to their base. (The best teams I've seen have passed the flag from one dying player to another at least twice in order to run it to their base.)

Also, like coordination, it is important to stay in a group of some size. More often than not, the most annoying Gulches are when you run out by yourself and get killed by five of their players. If you are alone on the field in Gulch, you will die. Period.

This is also the most-twinked battleground. (I covered twinks here.) If you are just leveling through the 19 bracket, it's probably better not to play any Gulches, just because you often go up against full twink teams. (Twinks exist in every bracket except 50-59 and 70.)

If you are the flag carrier (best classes: mage for blink, druid for run form, shaman for ghost wolf): DO NOT STOP TO FIGHT. Keep running. That is your job. That is your only job. Get to your base and let your team defend you. I just got to listen to Manasseh on vent ranting about a warrior with the flag stopping to fight every person who ran up to him. And the guy died. Because that's what happens when you stop to fight -- you are zerged.

The Same Gear Spiel I Gave You in the AB Post

Get some boots with +speed on them from the Arathi Basin vendor in Hammerfall(H)/Refuge Pointe(A). In any battle, you cannot win if you can't keep up with your opponent. (Speed is the most important factor of Warsong Gulch, as you must be able to outrun your enemies and keep up with the flag carrier.)

With gear in general, you want stamina to increase your health -- consider getting +stamina enchants on your gear if you want to be more protected in pvp (though they're expensive). In pvp, you want to outlast your opponent. In case you're a little like I was when I started, here are your five basic stats:
  • +Stamina: +10 health
  • +Intellect: +15 mana
  • +Spirit: Percentage of mana regeneration. This is better for priests than most classes, because priests can use talent points to improve mana regeneration by spirit.
  • +Strength: Percentage of attack power. Good for warriors, rogues, and other melee classes. Useless for casters.
  • +Agility: Percentage of dodge and critical strike chance. Best for hunters and rogues because it also gives them attack power.
My shadow priest, Dustfire, focuses on Stamina and Intellect (as well as +shadow damage) when choosing gear. So Spirit isn't always the best choice for priests.

Better gear will not assure you a win, but it will help you survive.