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Syrco’s What in WoW reminds you of your home? prompt brought to mind the “Ode to Orgrimmar” that I wrote early in the lifetime of this blog. In that post, I wrote:

I grew up in the great American West — Utah, Arizona, California. Zones like Mulgore and the Barrens remind me of different areas of the states where I grew up, the places I call home. My [maternal] grandparents live in the Red Rock country of southern Utah, near places like Moab, the Arches, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park. I came to love their stark, arid beauty. Zones like Durotar, the Badlands, and Thousand Needles, which are clearly inspired by that part of the real world, evoke the same feelings of awe, wonder, and, yes, love in me. These places “feel like home”, if such a thing can be said about locations that only exist within a video game. This feeling of being “at home” in Horde zones is certainly part of why I enjoy being Horde.

Stonetalon Mountains and the Thistleshrub Valley sub-region of Tanaris also remind me of the landscapes of Utah and Arizona. Thus, most of central Kalimdor is, in one way or another, like the part of the world that is “home” to me. Somewhat surprisingly, I also found a reminder of home in Pandaria’s Townlong Steppes –

— these bushes irresistably remind me of the sagebrush that covers the valleys of Utah and Arizona.

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BTH and I flew back to Canada on Wednesday, only to find that our home internet had gone out. It took us until this afternoon to get it back online.

Among the many museums I visited while in Paris, I became particularly interested in going to the musee du quai Branly when I saw signs advertising that they had a temporary exhibition about the Plains Indians. I visited the wonderful Palais de la decouverte earlier that morning (it opens an hour before the Branly) and my camera’s memory card filled up just before I went in, so I was glad, when I finally got to the Branly, that I’d remembered to bring a sketchbook and some colored pencils.

This dress is based on a Lakota/Cherokee woman’s dress from around 1825, and the baby carrier is based on one made by the Dakota around 1840.

When I went into the museum’s permanent collection, these masks from Vanuatu, which apparently represent ogres of the local mythology, immediately reminded me of WoW’s Trolls:

The main body of the mask is a red clay, with designs painted in black. One mask stood out because it had a round face instead of an elongated one and bright blue paint instead of black. My sketches don’t adequately convey the strong dimensionality of the noses, eyebrows, and lips.

Our travels in Germany took us to Wurtzburg. Walking over the Alte Mainbrucke immediately reminded me of the bridge into Stormwind.


click on the images to visit the sites from which I borrowed them

Our last stop was in Freiberg, where we spent the weekend visiting with BTH’s parents, who have been there for the past 18 months as missionaries specifically called to serve in the Freiberg Temple. Senior couple missionaries have fewer restrictions on their activities than the young proselyting missionaries do, so on Monday (their day off), they took us to see the Terra Mineralia museum housed in one wing of the Freiberg schloss. The many huge crystal formations showcased in the collection — especially the amethysts — reminded me of the Draenei. They are also reminiscent of the areas of Outland where netherdrakes are found.

These aren’t quite the same thing as Syrco’s wonderful “What in WoW reminds you of your home?” prompt, though, so I shall have to address it properly sometime.

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This fortnight at the Blog Azeroth Shared Topic forum, Amerence says:

Let’s talk about “Time” in Timeless Isle — How much play time do you really spend time hanging out in this Island? What are the benefits despite those elite mobs ganking at you or, if you’re on a PvP server, for any faction tries to kill you? Or just Rare hunting? Is it really fun? Do you finish all the dailies by yourself or in a group?


these floating chests are probably my favorite thing about the Timeless Isle

One of Prinnie’s free-for-all Liebster questions was

Have you ever played a game so much your eyes glazed over? What game was it?

Well, the Timeless Isle glazes me over faster than just about anything else in the whole wide wonderful World of Warcraft. Running around mindlessly killing stuff just because it’s there or because it has aggroed onto me while waiting for a “rare” spawn or an event to appear bores me.

I don’t like the Timeless Isle because it makes me feel deeply inadequate. Some of my characters can handle the cranes, the yaks, the tigers, the turtles. I can’t do the big snakes. I haven’t really tried the crabs. The frogs and the elementals on the beach and in the cave get me more often than I get them. I can sometimes take on the littlest Yaungol. I don’t even try the big ones. The Timeless Isle exposes how poorly I play my characters… and because I have so very many characters with so very many other goals, I don’t want to spend the time and effort to learn how to play any one of them well enough to do well on the Timeless Isle. (I have not bothered with the Brawler’s Guild for the same reason.)

I will take a character who’s recently dinged 90 to the Timeless Isle once to do the introductory quests and to attempt to pick up armor tokens for any slots that weren’t filled by what I already had stashed away from previous characters’ trips to the Isle. I don’t try to get all the chests — just the easy ones I happen to wander past. (Kamalia herself only got the last chest for Treasure, Treasure Everywhere when BTH convinced me to go there with him as a last hurrah before he quit WoW to go play TESO until Warlords and he escorted me up to get the Blazing Chest. Despite Tome’s terrific tips, I am too much of a coward to try to get there by myself.) After that one trip, I generally don’t go to the Timeless Isle again until I’ve got another fresh 90.

I did spend a couple of hours on the Timeless Isle with my Paladin last week; I was out of ore, so she was flying around mining and when she got out to the eastern edge of the Jade Forest, I thought, “as long as I’m farming ore, I might as well pick up some Lesser Charms while I’m at it.” I felt really glazed over by the time I decided she had enough ore and could go home! Usually, though, I don’t even go to the Timeless Isle for Lesser Charms; I’d rather do dailies. Sure, doing dailies will take more time, but I will be less bored, and I will also get gold (instead of mostly useless Timeless Coins), miscellaneous useful items, and a much smaller repair bill!

I was quite grateful when, near the end of Cataclysm, BTH’s decision to change guilds for raiding reasons also moved us from the PvP server we’d initially rolled on (because his RL friends who were playing the game at the time were there) to a PvE server. In early Mists, seeing the high mixed-faction populations at all the rep-dailies areas — especially the Golden Lotus areas — made me even more grateful that I was no longer subject to ganking. The Timeless Isle has made me more grateful still! Even without taking the Censer of Eternal Agony into consideration, I would not want to go to the Timeless Isle ever, for any reason, if I were on a PvP server!

I am somewhat concerned about the extension of the Timeless Isle model to Warlords; if the level 100 non-raid content is too much in that vein, Warlords may be the expansion where Blizzard loses me. Hopefully Garrisons will prove engaging enough to retain my interest!

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A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic, courtesy of Dragonray, who wonders:

What sort of method do you use for levelling multiple alts? Do you follow the same quest chains each time, do you avoid a certain quest section, do you only dungeon, etc?

I typically level with a mixture of questing, gathering, and LFD.

Since Heirlooms debuted, most of my characters have used them. I’ve gotten used to the pace of leveling using Heirlooms, to the extent that leveling without them now feels agonizingly slow. Kaumalea the Underpowered Death Knight doesn’t use Heirlooms, of course, and I’ve decided that Kehontah the Male Tauren Warrior will not use Heirlooms to help him reach level 60, prior to being boosted to 90, either. He’s also not going to do LFD, not even SFK at level 20 for the weapon (a rite of passage for all my other alts). He’ll be finding joy in the journey and perhaps even contributing to the Godmother’s “Those We Leave Behind” project.

To keep myself from getting bored with the leveling process, I try to do something a little different with each alt — or at least, between one alt that I spend a lot of time with and the next alt that I spend a lot of time with. I try to choose zones and questlines that feature the race of my character or a faction that relates to the class of my character. I use LFD to skip over levels that don’t have any zones or quests I want to do.

When I get to Outland, I cherry-pick the questlines that give good-looking clothes or weapons for Transmogrification. This means I end up doing a different set of zones and quests depending upon the armor class of the character.

Going through Northrend as Horde, I usually do some of the Taunka village questlines, then burn through the rest of those levels in LFD. Ever since Kamalia experienced the Wrathgate, I’ve avoided the Forsaken outposts and their quests like, well, the plague (pun intended). I tried to do some of the Alliance side quests in Northrend with Kinevra, but she was in such a hurry to get to 85 that what she did went by in a blur. Now, Kaprikka is in a hurry-hurry to get to 90, so I probably won’t see much of non-LFD Northrend with her, either. One of my other Alliance alts will have to be the one to take it slow through the Alliance story in Northrend — and I would like to play all the way through Storm Peaks again sometime.

I do have a fairly set path for the Cataclysm levels. I play through Mount Hyjal until I’ve completed Aessina’s Miracle, so that if the character ever wants to get something from the Molten Front, they can jump right in. Then I go to Vashj’ir and follow the quest chain until I get to Silver Tide Hollow and open up the Earthen Ring quartermaster. I go to Deepholm just long enough to get to level 83, and I usually follow the Stonehearth questline rather than the skyship questline. Then I go to Uldum and play through the Ramkahen questline. Sometimes I finish it, other times I go to Twilight Highlands as soon as I reach level 84. I’ll do enough of Twilight Highlands to get the portal open. After that, I may continue questing in Twilight Highlands, go back to Uldum, or just gather and LFD my way to 85.

The only things a character must do in Pandaria are get the Grummlepack and open the Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Mages don’t even have to do the latter; they can just wait until they get to level 90 and learn the teleport. I usually do the Tian Monastery in Jade Forest, getting started at Sunsong Ranch, and the Lorewalker Cho/Zouchin Province questline in Kun-Lai Summit (at least until the trolls have been defeated). I’ve only done the Dread Wastes with a few characters; the others have all tried to avoid it.

I’m fond of Archaeology as a speed-leveling tool when I’m really in a hurry to level and don’t have any zones or questlines that I’m particularly interested in playing through. Archaeology provides consistently good XP, plus a little gold on the side, and it’s a good way to occupy myself while I’m sitting in an LFD queue (especially as DPS). Archaeology gets much easier after level 60, when one can fly. Many digsites have very uneven terrain or large obstacles created by ruined structures, and it’s faster and simpler to hop on one’s flying mount and go over an obstacle than to go around on the ground. The digsites at Auchindoun are particularly terrible; the relics can spawn both inside and outside the ring, and trying to navigate around that place on the ground while searching for relics would be a nightmare! I am not excited about trying to do Archaeology on Draenor if it remains a no-fly environment for the whole expansion!

I’m also fond of dailies as a leveling tool, though they are definitely not a speed-leveling method! I’ll often do the Thunder Bluff fishing and cooking dailies with whichever alt is currently at the top of my leveling queue. I particularly like to do dailies from past expansions with a character who is not yet at the level cap of the current expansion, so that they can get XP as well as whatever reward I’m interested in. I’ve put many characters through their paces at the Argent Tournament. The latest, Kinevra, eventually said enough is enough and refused to do any more jousting — I haven’t done the jousting in the Court of Bones for ages, only the arena jousting on the Tournament grounds, but it seems that I’ve finally gotten thoroughly sick of that. Kaelinda got a couple of levels between 85 and 90 from the Molten Front — good enough XP that Kinevra is contemplating going to Tol Barad after she’s finished at the Argent Tournament (still a long way off). After Warlords launches, I will probably get post-90 levels for at least some of my characters from the various Pandaria dailies.

The Kalimdor Pet Battle Trainer circuit sped the Pet Battling Monk quite handily through her first 70 levels. I’ve liked Pet Battling enough to occasionally vist Pet Trainers with other alts, if they’ve been convenient to wherever the character was questing, or to do a wild pet battle here and there. In the future, I might do Pet Battling as an alternative to gathering and LFD to skip over levels that don’t have any zones/quests a given character wants to do.

So that’s how I level, a little bit of this, a little bit of that, never exactly the same way for any two characters.

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Dragonray’s been wondering,

What are your top 5 mounts – or just the ones you go to all the time because you like the way they ride? What are the ones you really dislike and can never bring yourself to use – does it rub against your collecting nature (if you have one) to buy all the mounts even though you know you will never use them?

At the moment, my favorite-favorite mount is certainly the Swift Zhevra.

I’ve wanted this mount for a long time, and now I finally have it — thanks, Navimie!!

Wanting the Pandaren Kite is what finally motivated me to finish getting all the Pandaria reputations to Exalted.

(Well, that and Wrathion’s 6000 valor points quest. :P)
I really like the Red Flying Cloud too!

I wrote an in-character story about how Kaelinda got the Celestial Steed. Kaelinda was also the lucky one who won the gorgeous Ashes of Al’ar for me. During BC, I had thought that I would never, ever be able to acquire that mount.

I’m quite fond of hippogryphs. I’ve collected all the ones that I can obtain purely in-game. I’m not going to seek out the ones from TCG loot cards, but I do I need to either find someone else to RAF-swap with or just RAF myself to get the Emerald Hippogryph. I rather like gryphons, too.

Well, those are the first five that came to mind, so I guess they’re my current Top Five.

Mostly, the mounts I prefer depend on the character I’m playing. Each character has a different selection of mounts in her randomcast “ride” and “fly” macros. Most types of mounts are used by at least one character in this fashion. It does bother me to have mounts that I don’t like well enough to use, so I try to use even the mounts I don’t particularly like — such as the Skeletal Horses and Wolves — with the characters who have those types as their racial mounts. This still doesn’t mean that all my mounts get used, however. I generally prefer un-armored mounts to armored mounts, and though I usually try to obtain all the colors of any given type of mount, I only use the colors I like best.

I’m quite happy with the Celestial Steed, Winged Guardian, and Enchanted Fey Dragon, but I can’t bring myself to spend the money for the Heart of the Aspects, Armored Bloodwing, or Swift Windsteed, even to add to my mount total, because I know that I’d never use them. I will probably never make the Sky Golem or the Jeweled Panthers because they just don’t interest me. I only have one mammoth, just for the sake of having one. It’s not even the Traveler’s Tundra Mammoth, because I couldn’t afford that mount back in the day. I almost never use my mammoth because it is too big and I don’t like its gait. The Grand Expedition Yak, if I had it, would be too big for me to use regularly, too, and I don’t much like the gait of the yaks, either — but the little ones make up for it by being oh-so-cute and having a small footprint/profile. I acquired the Kor’kron Annihilator and the Sunreaver Dragonhawk purely so that account-wide mount magic could allow my Alliance characters to ride the Golden King and the Silver Covenant Hippogryph — I never use the Horde versions of those mounts.

One mount deserves a special mention here. In general, I absolutely love kodos. They’re like the Jeeps of Azeroth, moving steadily over all kinds of terrain. Kamalia has as many of them as she could manage to find. I love the way the Sunwalker Kodo looks, better even than the Great Sunwalker Kodo–

–when it’s standing still. When it is moving, the Sunwalker Kodo sways wildly from side-to-side.

Watching it gives me a headache. No other kodo has this problem. The Sunwalker Kodo hasn’t always had this problem, either. It broke a few patches ago, and Blizz hasn’t gotten around to fixing it yet.

I would like to get to 150 mounts eventually so I can get that pretty Jade Pandaren Kite… but there will surely be at least a few mounts that I’ll like on Draenor.

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It’s that time of year again — time for the #FFW Furtive Father Winter blog post exchange!

There’s one week left — until 15 December — to sign up for the exchange at red cow rise. Then Akabeko will put everyone’s names into the Father Winter hat and send out recipients on 16 December.

I’ve really enjoyed participating in this event the past two years. For me, the most fun thing is figuring out what kind of post to make for my recipient and putting it together. Then, I love seeing what everyone else has come up with. The gifts I’ve received have been wonderful, too!

I had to think a bit before I decided to sign up this year; BTH and I are starting our Christmas vacation a little earlier this year than we have for the past couple of years and will be at relatives’ houses for the whole #FFW timeperiod. Still, I think I’ll have enough “downtime” to do my own thing that I’ll be able to make an #FFW post for someone — and I can’t wait to find out who that person will be!

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the collections, oh, they pile high

It’s been awhile since I did a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic, but this… er, last week’s topic, from Noahdeer of BeMOP is right up my alley:

World of Warcraft has added many different items for players to collect, whether it be collecting pets, mounts, transmog gear or knickknacks about the lore… What you do collect in the game and what is your prized item from that collection?

In-game, first and foremost, I collect clothes. I began by collecting the holiday clothes, then expanded to collecting level 1 gear. Even before Transmogrification came along, my characters’ banks were stuffed with clothes for RP sets. As in real life, where I tend to buy batches of three or four different colors of the same style of shirts or trousers, in the game I often try to gather as many colors of my favorite styles as I can. Out of that vast collection of clothes, I suppose that my most prized items are the ones that are no longer obtainable — for example, Alanna’s Embrace and the Bloodmail Legguards that were low drop rate to begin with and then entirely vanished in the Scholomance remodeling.

I do collect mounts and companion bets, though not to the extent that I want to have them all, or that I’ve spent a great deal of time farming for rare drops. My Flametalon of Alysrazor is perhaps my most special mount, because winning it was pretty much my luckiest roll ever — though my winning roll on the Ashes of Al’ar is a close second. Given my dislike of PvP, it was hard work indeed for Kamalia to earn her Black War Kodo — and then she farmed Stonekeeper’s Shards for Wintergrasp commendations, back in the day, to get another one for my Warrior. I have a particular fondness for hippogryphs. I haven’t bought either of the TCG loot card hippogryph mounts, but I worked diligently to earn the Cenarion War Hippogryph, the Argent Hippogryph, and the Flameward Hippogryph — and I’m still sad that the lovely Silver Covenant Hippogryph is only available to Alliance characters. I’m not particularly interested in Mazzranache as a mount, but if the Love is in the Air vendors had offered the beautiful pastel-colored Frayfeather Hippogryph instead, then I would have ground Lovely Charms eagerly.

Although in real life I wouldn’t want to have more than two or maaaaaybe three cats at a time, I’d collected almost all of the companion pet cats in the game before pet battles were introduced — I’m only missing four of the housecat model battle pets, two of which I could probably get with out much trouble and two of which would be rather more difficult to obtain. My Hunters both have multiple great cats tamed; in fact, one of my purposes for creating my second Hunter was to have her tame the Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms cats so that my first Hunter could free up some stable spaces for the gorgeous new Pandaria cats.

And, well, I collect characters themselves — at least one of every class, at least one of every race, a Tauren of every class the race can be, a Mage of every race the class can be.

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