May 1, 2009

WoW Guide to Children's Week achievements

All right, folks, we've got another sub-achievement needed for What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been (and thus the 310% speed Violet Proto-Drake) on our hands here. I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that most of the achievements for Children's Week are fairly straightforward, and should be easy (and even fun) to complete. Appropriately enough for a mini-holiday, most of the achievements are simple, amusing, and not too time-consuming. The bad news is that one of the achievements may be a huge headache to get done, and unlike Noblegarden, your character has to be at least 75 in order to get all of the achievements needed for the year-long meta. UPDATE: shortly before this article is set to go live, we're getting emails from Oceanic players noting that two of the achievements may be bugged. I've included notes on the ones they've indicated, and we'll keep an eye on this tonight.

Children's Week runs from Friday, May 1st at midnight through Thursday, May 7th at 11:59 PM. And -- because we've been getting lots of warnings about this from tipsters, and we thought it was a good point too - please remember that YOU SHOULD NOT TURN IN YOUR ORPHAN WHISTLES UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE THESE ACHIEVEMENTS. You know how at the end of both the classic and Burning Crusade Children's Week questlines you drop your tot off and get a pet or a payoff? Don't do that. Do the achievements first, and then do the rest of the Children's Week quests, or you'll find yourself without the item/s needed to summon an orphan for most of the following.

UPDATE 11:13 PM EST: Several EU players are reporting that the option to receive an additional orphan whistle is working after handing in the final quest in the Children's Week questlines, so I'm assuming this has been handled and you should be able to finish these without risking the achievements.

Got your kiddo? Let's get cracking.

The meta-achievement is For The Children and rewards the title "Patron" or "Matron" (depending on your character's sex). As you can see, there are only 6 achievements required for this. Most are fairly simple, but one's a potential doozy.

Home Alone

Easy, and the tooltip speaks for itself.

UPDATE: Oceanic players are saying that this may be bugged and that the achievement is disappearing if they log off. I'm still trying to confirm this; can any Oceanic players who have (or haven't) seen this please write in?

UPDATE 11:13 PM EST: Confirmed by several players from both the Oceanic and EU realms. You will get the achievement if you hearth with your orphan out, but apparently it doesn't get saved to you upon logging off. I assume this will be fixed in the new few days, but it's not too big a worry as it's a very easy achievement.

Daily Chores

Again, pretty easy. That said, it does require logging in 5 consecutive days, and Children's Week is just that -- a week. You'll have to start this no later than Sunday (May 3rd). If you find yourself pressed for time over the course of the holiday, you may want to log in and out at the site of an easy and fast daily to complete so you can get this achievement done with a minimum of fuss.

Out of all the dailies available to us now, I think Thrusting Hodir's Spear is probably the fastest to complete on top of requiring minimal travel time to and from the hand-in site, so if you've opened up the Hodir dailies, that's probably your best bet. If you haven't started working on Hodir rep or haven't enabled that particular quest, I'd go for The Way to His Heart from the Kalu'ak, or an Argent Tournament daily that doesn't require travel from the Tournament site.

Edit: There seems to have been some confusion in the comments over what I intended here with these recommendations. I'd just like to clarify that you should be able to get this achievement done with any daily; it doesn't make any difference which one you pick. The reason I've listed these dailies here is that the achievement requires you to log in every day for 5 days in order to get a daily completed with your orphan out, and there are a lot of WoW players who don't typically log in each day, particularly during the work week. My intent is just to provide a few recommendations based on dailies that I've found to be fast, so that you can log in once a day for 5 minutes, get the daily done, and have the achievement done on the 5th day. If you've had better experiences completing other dailies more quickly, feel free to use those; if time isn't an issue for you and you usually have a roster of dailies to get through, drag your orphan through whichever ones you want. The daily doesn't matter, but if you're trying to get this done during the week with serious time constraints, log your toon out at the site of a daily that you know you can get done quickly.

UPDATE: This is the other achievement that Oceanic players have observed is buggy. There's a thread on the forums here giving more information on what's going on. So far the bug has been observed with both BC and Wrath dailies and players are trying to amass a list of which dailies "work" and which don't. I'll keep watching the forums to see how this pans out.

UPDATE 11:13 PM EST: Confirmed by several players from both the Oceanic and EU realms.

UPDATE 2:55 AM EST: Children's Week is now live on my realm and the achievement remains bugged, at least for me. 3 dailies handed in, no credit for any of them.

Bad Example

This will require a little travel and money, but not too much of either:

Tigule and Foror's Strawberry Ice Cream -- During Children's Week two vendors will appear in Orgrimmar and Stormwind (Alowicious Czervik and Emmithue Smails respectively) selling this. Alowicious will be found between Orgrimmar's bank and auction house; Emmithue will be found next to Stormwind's inn. If, for some unaccountable reason, you don't find yourself anywhere near these cities, you can also buy the ice cream from Brivelthwerp at the Shimmering Flats racetrack, or from the Telaar innkeeper/Garadar innkeeper in Nagrand.

The Red Velvet Cupcake, Dalaran Brownie, Dalaran Doughnut, and Lovely Cake Slice are all sold in Dalaran by the NPC Aimee, who is located in front of Dalaran's north bank. Quick note; you don't actually buy the Lovely Cake Slice from her. What you buy is a Lovely Cake, which then becomes cake slices once you set it out and right-click it. As another note, the cake costs 18g (before reputation discounts).

The Tasty Cupcake and Delicious Chocolate Cake are both created by Cooking. The Cupcake recipe requires at least 350 Cooking and is a drop off early Northrend mobs; the Delicious Chocolate Cake is a rare drop from the Cooking dailies (either the ones from BC or the new ones given in Dalaran). The Cupcake is easy to make; the Delicious Chocolate Cake is somewhat more time-consuming. If you're not a cook, make friends with someone who is, or keep an eye on the auction house, although odds are good they'll be expensive.

Hail To The King, Baby

I foresee many Utgarde Pinnacle PuG's with small children in tow this week.

This should be doable on either normal or heroic mode, so if you're not 80 yet or your gear's not up to one of the more difficult heroics, don't sweat it. However, fair warning; your character has to be at least 75 in order to enter Utgarde Pinnacle on normal.

School of Hard Knocks

Nightmare. not going to be a lot of fun.

School of Hard Knocks requires you to enter the four pre-Wrath battlegrounds and capture/return flags or assault nodes with your orphan out. It may sound simple, but think about the length and frustration factor of the average pugged battleground, and then think about the length and frustration factor of a pugged battleground where your own team's sole concern is beating everyone else to an individual achievement.

This is going to work in one of two ways: either you get these achievements for being close to a captured/returned flag or a captured node, or you have to do it yourself. If it's the former, then this achievement is suddenly a lot less nightmarish. If it's the latter...I really don't know what to tell you that might help. Your best bet is to try to organize a premade (if your guild isn't doing one already), rotate people into flag and node captures, and hope everyone sticks around long enough for everyone to get their achievements done, although this is obviously going to be a tall order by the time you hit the 40-man AV.

I'm looking forward (well, not really) to seeing a series of Warsong Gulches where no one plays offense, Arathi Basins where no one plays defense, Alterac Valleys where no one plays defense, and EOTS where the entire game is a writhing, howling mass of players clustered around the center trying to be the first to click the flag. Oh, and to make things even better, with the huge decline in arena participation and the relative ease of raiding, few players at 80 have serious resilience gear, making it easy for burst DPS on the opposing team to annihilate people in the run for a flag or node.

I return to my previous statement; nightmare.

Aw, Isn't It Cute?

This should be the last achievement you do if you're a new player and don't have any of the previous Children's Week pets, because getting one requires you to hand in your Orphan Whistle.

WoW Pets for raiding

It's no secret (or shouldn't be!) that Ferocity pets are where it's at for raiding pets. They provide the most overall damage of the three pet types, and for Hunters there's no bigger priority in a raid environment than delivering dps like it's Dominos. There are a wide variety of Ferocity pets to choose from, though, and each have their own unique abilities. Which is the best type to give you the biggest boost to your damage? Let's do a quick comparison and find out.

There are a total of eleven different Ferocity pet types to choose from in the game, three of which are Exotic and only available to Hunters with the Beast Mastery talent. Each pet has a unique ability, some more appropriate for a raid environment than others.

Demoralizing Screech: Blasts a single enemy for 85 to 129 damage and lowers the melee attack power of all enemies in melee range by 410. Effect lasts 10 seconds. 10 second cooldown.

Rake: Rake the target for 47 to 67 bleed damage and an additional 19 to 25 damage over 9 seconds. 10 second cooldown.

Tendon Rip: Tears at an enemy's legs for 49 to 69 damage and reduces the movement speed by 50% for 6 seconds. 20 second cooldown.

Serenity Dust: The moth's wings produce a cloud of dust that increases its attack power by 10% and heals it for 825 over 15 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.

Savage Rend: Slashes the enemy with the Raptor's talons for 59 to 83 damage, and causes the target to bleed for 21 to 27 damage every 5 seconds for 15 seconds. Successful critical strikes with this ability temporarily boost the Raptor's damage by 10% for 30 seconds. 1 minute cooldown.

Dust Cloud: Your Tallstrider kicks up an obscuring cloud of dust, causing all enemies within 10 yards to miss their next attack. Lasts for 8 seconds. 40 second cooldown.

Sting: Your Wasp stings for 64 to 86 Nature damage, and decreases the armor of the target by 5% for 20 seconds. While affected, the target cannot stealth or turn invisible. 6 second cooldown.

Furious Howl: Increases melee and ranged attack power by 320 for the Wolf and its master for 20 seconds. 40 second cooldown.

Lava Breath: Your pet breathes a double gout of molten lava at the target for 128 to 172 Fire damage and reduces the target's casting speed by 25% for 10 seconds. 10 second cooldown.

Monstrous Bite: Your Devilsaur ferociously bites the enemy, causing 91 to 123 damage, and boosts its own damage by 3% for 12 seconds. This effect stacks 3 times. 10 second cooldown.

Spirit Strike: Burns the enemy for 49 to 65 Arcane damage and then an additional 49 to 65 after 6 seconds. 10 second cooldown.

Right away, we can eliminate abilities that are obviously not entirely geared towards pure PvE damage output such as Tendon Rip, Dust Cloud and Lava Breath. Abilities like Sting and Demoralizing Screech are also of questionable usefulness, particularly when you take into consideration that neither will stack with other armor and attack power reducing buffs you'll likely have in a raid environment. This puts Carrion Birds, Hyenas, Tallstriders, Wasps and Core Hounds out of the running for viable raiding pets.

In order to determine a relatively accurate case study comparison of the remaining pets under ideal circumstances using a controlled data set, I used Shandara's Spreadsheet to compare pet dps for the remaining pet types. For the sake of simplicity, I used the character profile that loads by default (Shandara) when you first download the spreadsheet so that it would be easy for you to follow along with these figures yourself to check the math if you so choose. By simply swapping out which pet is active on the "Pet" tab of the spreadsheet, you'll see how each type of pet's dps differs when all other factors remain constant.

For Hunters not specced into Beast Mastery, you'll find that Cats still provide the most overall dps (1115.46 in our spreadsheet example), followed by Raptors (1099.30), Wolves (1087.99) and Moths (1080.06). This means a 16.16 dps gap between the highest dps pet and second highest dps pet, and a 35.4 dps gap between the best and worst. Some could argue that a difference of 16 or 35 dps is negligible at best, and in that case it merely becomes a matter of personal preference. For the Beast Masters out there, you'll find Devilsaurs are the best Exotic pets in terms of dps, with Spirit Beasts coming in at a relatively distant second. So, while Rake may deal less damage per swing, it's significantly shorter cooldown gives it the edge over a Raptor's Savage Rend. For Exotic pets, the stacking percentage increase to a Devilsaur's damage gives it a distinctive advantage that will scale nicely with your gear.

April 30, 2009

Addon Spotlight: DagAssist

I love it when people send in tips for cool addons. There was a time when I could subscribe to the RSS feed for an addon site and check out each new mod as it came out, but the scene is too big now; I'd be at it all day. Today we'll look at DagAssist, which was submitted by Rodney earlier this afternoon.

DagAssist puts a single, quite attractive button on your minimap that, when clicked, opens a pop-up menu containing things like:

Teleports and portals, for mages Summons for warlocks Profession skills Hearthstone You can see what it looks like for my warlock at right.

DA is sort of like a micro version of AutoBar, which I've been using for a long time on all my characters. It's missing a lot of AB's functionality - it doesn't give you access to quest items, nor food and other consumables, and it's not configurable. But it also takes up much less space, and it's a good 80% solution for me, in that it covers probably 80% of my AutoBar clicks, in less than 5% of the screen space. It also doesn't have AB's current nasty habit of leaving pop-open menus stuck open at awkward times.

If you're interested in something that gives you easy access to some of your more rarely-used skills, but you don't want to invest the screen real estate in something like AutoBar or Necrosis, give DagAssist a try. It's already found a place in my UI.

Blizzard sends a C&D to Warcraft Characters, other iPhone apps

The good news here: Blizzard may be planning to do more with the iPhone. The bad news: they're apparently trying to squelch useful iPhone apps that are out there right now. They've already sent out cease-and-desist orders to two Warcraft-related iPhone apps that were charging money (Armory Browser and the Warcraft Arena Calculator), and now we've heard from its creator that Warcraft Characters has gotten the C&D treatment as well (here's his post on the subject, though his site appears to be down at the moment). Just before he was set to announce the alpha of the 3.0 version of the app, Blizzard dropped him legal notice to stop distrbution. As of this writing, however, the app is still on the App Store, so get it while you can. Warcraft Chest and WoWTalent appear to still be available on the store as well, and WoWTalent is still charging 99 cents.

For whatever reason, it appears Blizzard is going after even free programs released on the iPhone that use their information from the Armory. We're not quite sure why -- an optimist might guess that they're planning to release an Armory app of their own on the iPhone, or they're worried that people might confuse the official iPhone app with one that's unofficial. Or maybe they're just being cautious of their copyrights, though that's a pretty harsh assessment -- there are other MMOs who surivive and thrive off of unofficial iPhone and desktop apps.

It would be a real shame if Blizzard legal was simply going after fans who have invested a lot of time and effort into these apps even when there's no clear reason for them to do so. Clearing the field for an official app is one thing, but closing down a useful product for your players built solely by your fans just to erase a perceived threat is entirely another.