Tuesday, June 24, 2008

School's out...for summer! Yay?

A week before the end of the school year at my job, and I had hefty plans. I'm gonna keep getting up early, put on some comfy clothes, and walk for half an hour. Then I'm gonna change, make a modest breakfast, and plan something fun for the kids to do, after they work on the yard during the not so blistering hot hour left of the morning. By the end of the summer, the yard will be beautiful, I will weigh less, and I may have even broken the grip World of Warcraft has on me. How? Well, outside is more interesting, more fun, more interactive, more work, more heat....

Day one of my summer vacation finds me in front of my computer, in my jammies, one hand on my mouse, narrowly missing spilling my heaping bowl of Cookie Crisp in my excitement. My husband, sitting at his desk next to me, looks up, shakes his head, and continues his search for survivalist articles. So much for good intentions. The kids are whining at me;
"Can we play on the Wii?"

"Can we go swimming?"

"Can I use your computer next?" That one always makes me laugh. There is no "next" on my computer.

"Can I use Dad's computer" That one is slightly more likely, as he likes to put podcasts on his Juke and take long afternoon naps.

"Can we play Rock Band?" Oh Lord, please spare me the misery of having my children try out their rendition of Mississipi Queen on my already bleeding eardrums!

"Can I...?"

"Can I...?"

"Can I..."

Well, several weeks later and I'm covering my ears and loudly la-la-la'ing to the can I's, as I slip on my headphones. If that doesn't work, we're playing the every popular game ask the other parent. By the time I get up in the morning the heat has been unbearable, so I am still in front of my computer, though my breakfast choices have improved(Chorizo and eggs, anyone?). In my time I have leveled a Draenei mage to 42, moved my human paladin to join her, and leveled her to 52, and joined a wonderful new guild. I have been neglecting my Horde toons, partly because it's summer and even though I am there, I'm not really at the keyboard. My WoW time has been punctuated with swimming, shopping trips, and barbecues.

So, WoW won out, yet again. So much for my fitness plans. Maybe all I can manage is one of those squishy stress balls.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Gaming and Fitness: Do they mix well?

A week ago I got from the UPS guy a box that I hope holds the secret to getting me off my rear and back into shape; Wii Fit. I have been hopelessly hooked on anything that involves a controller or a mouse and keyboard for a few years, and my waistline is showing the stress. We bought a Wii for the kids, because it has many titles that can be played by 4 players, which is just over half of the amount of kids we have here on any given day. When my husband heard about the Wii Fit, he thought it might be something I would like. After all, it involves some skill, and learning a new controller, the balance board. So, naturally, when I got it, I couldn't wait to hook it up, which is why it sat for a whole week in its shipping box. I was busy! Really...

So today, while the kids were cleaning their rooms and helping clean out the pool in anticipation of the swim season, I pulled the box out from behind the easy chair and opened it up. Nintendo made sure I didn't need much thought to put this together, as it involved 4 AA batteries, 4 extender feet (because I would be using it on a carpeted surface), and a disc. Piece of cake, I was up and running in 5 minutes. Or actually, I was doing yoga. Running didn't happen for another ten minutes, but I'll explain that later.

First, it has you sync the balance board with the unit. Push red button on unit, then push red button in battery compartment of board. Having done that, the next step was to step on the board, pick a Mii, answer some height and age questions, and let the board weigh me and check how my center of balance was. I won't tell you the results (I'm still in denial), but the Fit system adjusted the size of my Mii to match. EWW! So now I am looking at this great Mii I made, twice as fat, and reading along with the narrator as she goes on to have me choose a trainer and start my exercises. I did some Yoga positions first, which had a helpful yellow circular area I had to keep a red dot inside of during the excercise, and an aqua circle that expanded when in exhaling and shrunk when inhaling. Not extremely easy, as I am carrying a bit of extra baggage now, but I did well, and earned some points toward unlocking new exercises. The yoga exercises done, I moved on to aerobics. I played hula hoop, did a step routine (which is harder than it looks!), and ran a short course which left me puffing a little. Then I ran against one of the kids in a 2 person short run. Darned kid, she kept passing the instructor and leaving me in the dust! Good thing they weren't tracking her progress!

I didn't get to the strength training, but I tried a few balance exercises. Skiing was fun, but the tightrope walk I unlocked was just not fun(probably because I fell to my death?) There was a tilt board game where you use the board to tip boards to make marbles fall through holes. It took a bit of concentration, but I finished with a whole 3 seconds to spare! YAY ME!

I may let you all in on my Wii Fit encounters as I go. I have set a goal, which the system says is a healthy one, to lose 3 pounds in two weeks. One small step in regaining my pre-children figure. Comments are welcome..cheer me on! I need all the encouragement I can get.

A comic to wrap up from Zoitz.com which really puts it all in a nutshell... I'll just link it, take a look for yourself!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Quests and Reputations for your 19 twink.

What is out there for a level 19 that can't be bought? What items must you have that can only be given as a reward for services rendered? What kind of experience are these quests going to add? What is the lowest level I can possibly complete this quest at? Are there quests in areas I wouldn't normally take my low level character that can be taken before level 19 that have rewards I must have? Are there reputation rewards usable by my character in higher level zones? All these questions I hope you have been thinking about as you plan out your twink.

There are some very nice items that can only be had for questing. Take for instance the Gravestone Scepter. This item comes from a quest you can take from a dead npc in Blackfathom Deeps. You have to be 18 to get this quest, and the item level is in the high 20's. Or, you warrior twinks out there, how about the Runic Darkblade? The item level is in the low 30's, and out paced all of the rare swords that a warrior could get on drops. Since the recent dungeon loot overhaul, this is just not worth the experience you have to spend to get it. The Battle of Hillsbrad quests are attainable by a level 19, and the experience gain from the quests alone is 15,600. Unless you absolutely have to have a sword, I'd go with Smite's Mighty Hammer, a little less damage per second, until you figure in the strength and agility that are added. Another item from that quest line does deserve a look, the Sacred Burial Trousers. No stamina and less intellect than the cloth twink favorite Darkweave Breeches, but look a that spell damage. I might plan carefully to run this quest chain, dead most of the way, with a high level escort.

Another very popular item that requires either some late late night camping or some very high level help is the Arena Grand Master trinket. In the Gurubashi arena, once every three hours Short John Mithril drops a chest in the middle for an all out free for all fight to see who gets the chest. In the chest are some greens and blues, and Arena Master , a trinket that gives stamina, but not usable until level 35. But, if somehow you are lucky enough to collect 12 of those babies, you can turn them in, earn a whopping 850 experience, and get the no level requirement trinket.

How about reputation? This item I have seen on only one twink warlock, and I know he did some big planning to get it. the Furbolg Medicine Pouch is an item you can purchase once honored with the Timbermaw. I'll let you all read how people managed to get the reputation needed on the link provided. The use effect doesn't work at level 19, but the 10 stamina is well worth the money and time invested.

If you have more experience points to spend than money, or for clothies that want 2 extra points of armor (whoa!), there is a quest to be had from killing the Alliance Outrunners in the Barrens. Leather wearing types can get Trailblazer Boots as a final reward from the quest chain (find a strong friend to help), and Cloth wearers have as a choice the Jutebraid Gloves, which are just slightly better than the cloth gloves that drop in Deadmines and Wailing Caverns. All Horde side should do the Leaders of the Fang quest for the weapon that can be had, on par with most twink level items, and the price is right. Alliance leather and mail wearers would be smart to pick up The Defias Brotherhood quest for the chest or pants. The staff, in my opinion, is really not worth it for PvP.

Do you know any other quests that are a must for the 19 twink? Add it to the comments!

Travel for the successful Twink.

I enjoy Twinking. What is twinking? In my favorite game of the moment, World of Warcraft, it means you have a character at the top of their level bracket (ie 19, 29, 39), in the best gear planning and money can get, with the best enchants and librams that level will be able to use. Some do it just to see what can be done, some gear up for battleground hijinks. I have a level 19 rogue, twinked pretty well, for my bank character. I also have a 19 hunter and priest, missing maybe one enchant each, that are fun for battlegrounds.

I have read about level 1 twinks, even level 10 twinks, but, for now, I like the 19 bracket. There are very few talent points to spend. Spells and abilities are fewer, making it easier for me, who doesn't enter Player Versus Player combat unless necessary, to enter battlegrounds and be effective. I even get pretty good sometimes! It's a taste of endgame, without the trouble of making the 70 level cap and raiding incessantly.

How do you plan for a good twink? I was told by a wise person once that you should always take your level one intended and walk them everywhere you plan on going with them. Why? Because it will keep you from the accidental experience gain of discovering an area. For a low level twink especially, this is crucial, as a lot of your gear requires endless dungeon runs, and if you are twinking without a level 60 or so to drag you through, these runs are going to be very expensive in terms of experience point gain. Every point you can possibly save for another chance at that bind on pickup drop is worth skipping starter zone quests and dying numerous times to mobs more than twice your level to avoid the future experience gain.

So where should a future 19 twink explore after birth? I recommend every major city possible, even Shattrath if you can find someone to whisk you there. Discover Ratchet, for the quest turn in there, and the ship that travels to Booty Bay. The Wailing Caverns and the oases surrounding it (if you have no sugar daddy, this is where you should level fishing, for Deviate Fish are worth more than their weight in gold) should be discovered, as there are some great items in there for leather and cloth wearers, and THE bow for the hunter twink. Wander the length of Ashenvale, discover the Zoram Strand and Blackfathom Deeps, for mail wearers, shield bearers, and the ultimate wand quest. Travel into Silverpine Forest, and chat with a bloke in the Sepulcher for a great ring quest, then find Shadowfang Keep, another great place for weaponry and some nice melee cloaks. While in that neck of the woods, if you aren't planning on taking engineering and have a buddy to help, Hordies should hit Tarren Mill for a quest that nets a nice cloth headpiece. Booty Bay and Grom'gol and all the land along the shores there should be travelled if you plan on trying for fishing gear. The Gurubashi Arena is a sight to see, and should be found if you have some high level buddies willing to help you gain the trinket from the event. For those brave Horde(who will also have to discover dreary Duskwood) or lucky Alliance, Westfall should be on your list of sights to see, as well as the Deadmines. Van Cleef has a leather chest piece any leather or mail wearer should have on their list of must haves, and some of his minions drop some nice weaponry and rings. For those of the Horde faction, the Ghostlands have some nice quest rewards and a very nice cloak you can purchase at high reputation levels with Tranquillien. There is a nice thrown weapon to be had from one of their vendors there,too, if you are quick about it! Your baby may level a few times while exploring, and die many times more, but it will be well worth it!