Category Archives: World of Warcraft


Come on in and grab a keg...

Come on in and grab a keg…

I did a post a while back about Bizzard’s foray into the CCG (collectible card game) market…..called Hearthstone.  I said it looked pretty cool and, now, I know for sure that it does.

How do I know that, you ask?

Because I finally got into the beta! Woohooo!!!! [horns toot as fireworks go off]

Now, I won’t gripe and complain about how long it took for my beta invite ahem ….no…instead, I’ll just focus on just how cool this game is.

If you’ve ever played Magic:The Gathering, you’ll find quite a few of the same game mechanics in Hearthstone. For example, creatures have ‘summoning sickness’ when played (meaning they cannot attack until the turn after you lay them down) unless they have an ability called “Charge”. This lets them attack right away and comes in handy quite often.

Some of the other card abilities are:

  • Taunt: If the other side attacks you, with a minion (their name for a ‘creature’) or if the Hero wants to attack, they must attack this minion.
  • Windfury: This minion can attack twice in one round.
  • Deathrattle: When this minion dies, it causes another effect (damage, etc.) to go off.
  • Battlecry: When a minion is played, a special effect goes off.
  • Divine Shield: A minion ignores the next damaging attack.
  • Enrage: The minion gets attack bonuses if it is damaged.

These are just a few of the minion abilities, there are more and each adds to the overall strategy of gameplay.

Another variation from M:TG is that the player or, in this case, the Hero can attack as well….equipping weapons, doing damage, etc.

This brings up the Hearthstone Heroes……or the role you take on, depending on which deck you decide to battle with.  You can play any of the nine classes, each represented with an iconic World of Warcraft character.

Pick an icon...any icon....

Pick an icon…any icon….

You have:

  • Warrior: Garrosh Hellscream
  • Shaman: Thrall
  • Rogue: Valeera Sanguinar
  • Paladin: Uther the Lightbringer
  • Hunter: Rexxar
  • Druid: Malfurion Stormrage
  • Warlock: Gul’dan
  • Mage: Jaina Proudmore
  • Priest: Anduin Wrynn

If you’re a WoW player, you probably notice the conspicuous absence of the Monk and Death Knight class as well as the Pandaren race. I’m guessing these may show up in future expansions.

Each hero has a different “hero power” corresponding to how their class works. For example, Gul’dan can draw a card, at the cost of two life…such is the price of being a Warlock, Anduin can heal two points, Thrall can drop a random totem every round (provided you have two mana to spare), each with different abilities.

The fuel for powering these abilities, as well as casting spells, dropping minions, things like that is something else that should be familiar to Magic:TG fans. It’s called mana. though it doesn’t quite work the same way as it does in M:TG.  You start off with just one mana point (don’t worry, there are some decent cards that only cost this amount) and gain one each round, up to ten. After you spend your mana, it refreshes at the beginning of each new round.

Gameplay is pretty simple. On your turn you lay down minions, cast spells, use effects, or whatever else you can do that costs mana. You also get a chance to attack either the opposing hero or their minions, depending on your strategy. Even if you’ve never played a collectible card game before, the tool tips, in-game, pretty much spell everything out for you. After just a couple of games you’ll start coming up with some strategies of your own, depending on which Hero you’re going with.

Around the board....

Stormcrow’s eye view….

As you play, your character ‘levels up’ and you get access to more powerful cards. You also earn gold by doing quests, such as “do 100 points of damage to enemy minions” or “win two games against another player with a Rogue deck”. You can use this gold or real world money,if you’re behind on your questing, to purchase more cards. Now, since everything is digital, I’m not sure how/if you’ll be able to trade/sell cards or things like that.

Of course, this post is only scratching the surface of the ‘simple complexity’ this game offers and we have to remember that, since this is still a ‘beta test’, some things can (and probably will) change.

I will say, though, that this is probably one of the most polished beta games that I’ve yet to see. So far, I’ve only seen one ‘bug’ (involving missing letters in tooltips) that was gone the next day.

All in all, this is a very fun game…..easy to learn, but with enough facets and dimensions to keep it challenging. I’m really looking forward to the final product and know what I may be doing with some of my free time when it comes out.

Until next time….


The Case of the Hearthstone Heroes…

From the House the Warcraft Built...Blizzard.

From the House the Warcraft Built…Blizzard.


Way back before I started playing MMOs (Massive Multi-player Online) games, such as World of Warcraft, I was pretty big into playing CCGs…or, collectible card games, such as Magic The Gathering. For a couple of years, now, MTG has had an online version which I’ve played and had some fun with, but it just didn’t grab my attention all that much.

Yesterday, as I brought up my World of Warcraft client, they had an advertisement for something new they’re working on called, Hearthstone.

It looks to be, a bit, like Magic, but features the World of Warcraft characters, places, spells, etc.

Right now, it’s only in the Beta test stage so if you head over to the site and think it looks interesting…sign up for a beta key.

I did 🙂


From what I’ve seen, it looks pretty cool. Something quick and easy to learn, but with enough strategy to keep you interested for a good while.


Give it a look and see what you think.



Until next time…

The Case of the Missing Mist.

The only other person in line at our local Wal Mart for the midnight launch.


About a month and a half ago, I headed over to our local GameStop and plunked down $25.00 to preorder the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. I was really jazzed and looking forward to every aspect of the game. From the midnight launch, which this same GS location hosted during the last expansion, to giving the silly pet battles a shot, I was looking forward to the whole experience. After seeing a couple of things online about which local GameStops were hosting a midnight launch (the nearest to Vero Beach was over 50 miles away), I noticed our local store was not listed so I gave them a call. My fears were realized when, on the day of the launch, I found out that they weren’t holding a midnight opening, but I could pick up my game at 10:00am on Tuesday morning.

10:00 am??!!?? Tuesday morning??!!??


The reason I preordered the dern thing was so that I could pick it up at midnight and be ready to play when the servers went live…..duh!! The gears began to turn and I started to form a plan. I’d go to GameStop, get my deposit back, and we’d go to the local Wal-Mart and pick up my collector’s edition when the clock struck midnight. Say what you want about Wal-Mart but, at least, they’re reliable in getting product out. So, that’s what I did.

On a side note and to their credit, I have to say that GameStop didn’t give me a hassle about getting my pre-order deposit back, at all. The girl even seemed a bit sad that they weren’t having a midnight launch….or that could have been because the store just lost a sale, I’m not sure.

Anyway, we headed over to the local Wal Mart at about 11:00pm and shot straight back to the electronics department… find it roped off for floor waxing. Not another soul was there, save for the guy who wanted to buy a cell phone….at 11:00pm. I figured that was a bit odd, but was glad that we’d be the first in line, should anyone else show up. We confirmed that, yes, they were indeed still putting the game out at midnight and the guy in charge (I’m assuming he was in charge due to his walking around while the other guys were waxing the floor) even offered to show us what he was putting out. He kept describing it as a ‘small box’ and a book….which had me suspicious. The collector’s editions are always a larger, heavier, box and, from what he was describing, it sounded as if he only had the standard version. Sure enough, he went back and brought out a standard box version and a strategy guide (the book), telling us that was all that had shipped.

They had no collector’s editions.

After a few sighs, we decided to just come home and I’d get the “deluxe” digital download. It came with a mount, an in-game pet, a banner for Diablo 3 and something for Starcraft, which I don’t remember since I don’t play it anyway. I’d be missing out on the mousepad, the book of game art, the behind the scenes of the making of the game DVD, and the game soundtrack.

On a positive note, it was $20.00 cheaper.

I guess that I could have just waited for the next morning and went to Best Buy (they looked to have plenty of CEs, but no midnight opening) but we were excited to log in, as the game went “live”, and get to playing. So, impulse buying at it’s finest, I opted for the deluxe edition….the best thing being, there was nothing to download (it was all in the previous patch) and I was still ready for launch.

The moral of the story being, always double check to make sure your preorder store is going to have a midnight launch…..or, skip the physical copy and go the digital route….or, something else….take your pick.

Having played a day in Pandaria, here are a few initial thoughts:

  • This was the smoothest expansion launch I’ve ever experienced for World of Warcraft. Not a server crash in sight and no lag to speak of.  In fact, you didn’t even have to log off when the game went live (as was required in the past), I guess they just flipped and switch, or something, because at 3:am EST (the game went ‘live’ at midnight PST) a quest popped up for all the 85s to get the ball rolling.
  • I still love the ‘cartoony’ grapics and would be a bit disappointed if they ever decided on a more ‘realistic’ style.
  • On the topic of graphics, the Pandarian style gear looks way cooler than the Cataclysm style mess.
  • There is a lot to do, but not to the point that it makes you feel overwhelmed. A recurring theme in the land of Pandaria is “take your time”. A lot of the NPCs say this and I’m not sure if it’s meant for the character or the players looking to rush through content to be “first” (and, then, cry for the next year that they’re ‘bored’).
  • One the big ‘things’ in this expansion is the (literal) farming sub game. I’m hearing a lot of positive things about this and can’t wait to get to that point. Very “Harvest Moon”, from what I’m being told….not “Farmville”…thank God.
  • Pet Battles. Are. Addicting. That is all. Also, you can do them on any character….the quests for them carry over to all your toons.

I’m only a day into the new expansion and I can, honestly, say that my expectations weren’t just met….but exceeded…..even if I didn’t get my mousepad =)

The Approaching Mists….


Since the announcement was made by Blizzard that the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, is going to be released on September 25th, it’s got me to thinking.

I have quite a bit of things, in game, I need to get done between now and then…..and not a lot of time

At this point, I’m not going to worry about gearing any of my 85s up because once the expansion hits, the quest reward greens will soon be replacing our hard (sometimes, hardly) earned epics.

No surprise there, though, as this happens with every xpac.

My main focus is going to be making gold and cleaning out my banks.

After that, some secondary goals are going to consist of  (WARNING: Obligatory ‘Mark blog bullet point list’ ahead)

  • Getting my level 65 Warrior to 85–This is something that I really need to do. This is my highest level Warrior….ever. A lot of fun to play and I wouldn’t mind trying some plate wearer tanking (as opposed to my usual leather wearer tanking) in the future.
  • Building up a stock of herbs. I have two characters with maxed out Herbalism and Alchemy and another with Inscription. There’s going to be a high demand for Glyphs as well as new ones being added to the mix, so the more prepared, the better.
  • Grinding guild rep. Since I’m fairly new to my guild I want to make sure I’m ready to take advantage of some of the new Guild Perks that are coming down the pike.
  • Continue to have fun. Simple and a ‘given’, I know, but something to still remember.

Regardless of what others might say, I really enjoy when a new expansion comes out. It gives the game a new shot in the arm and always seems to open up more options for more different kinds of playstyles.

Oh, and lest I forget…..our famous launch party! Maybe this year I’ll take some pictures of our “Warcraft Smorgasbord Table” and throw up (no pun intended….hopefully) a post about that, as well.


Diabolic thoughts….

I’m sure, no matter where you may roam on the Interwebz, you’ve probably seen something about a little game called Diablo 3. 

Yes, after about 12 years, Blizzard has finally come out with another chapter in the Diablo series and, from checking out the buzz for it, one that’s been highly anticipated.

I’m also pretty confident that you’re getting a little sick of seeing “D3” posts on whatever social networking site you choose to frequent. Well…..bad news….you’ve stumbled upon another. 😛 The good news is, though, I promise to make it brief!

Blizzard was pretty smart (as they usually are) in giving this game away provided you chose to enter into a ‘contract’, of sorts, with them where you promised to continue to play, or at least pay for, World of Warcraft for a year. This was pretty much a ‘no brainer’ for me so I went ahead and signed on the dotted line.

The other day I pre-downloaded the game (whatever that means) and waited for 12:01 on May 15th (last night, as of this writing). At the stroke of 12:01, I hit the setup button…..and the game started to download….again? I guess it was adding files that weren’t included in the ‘pre-download’? I don’t know….

Checking the D3 forums didn’t get me a straight answer right away as the whine-fest had begun.

I finally get the download finished and try to activate the game.

I’m then told servers aren’t online. Another trip to the forums gets me an official answer that the game won’t go live until Midnight…..Pacific Time. Ugh! I had to wait three more hours.

So, I took a little nap then tried logging on. The, now infamous, error 37 (servers are busy) reared it’s ugly head and a faster internet meme you have never seen.

After a bit…I think it was about 4:30am…I was finally able to log on and start making a character.

“You talkin’ to me??”

My very first character was a Wizard, but I never got past the name so I deleted him and made a Barbarian (which I had tried during the open beta and liked) and took off.  I’ll probably, eventually, make another Wizard and then a Witch Doctor as these both look like pretty cool classes.

Some of my random thoughts on the game itself:

  • If you play World of Warcraft, a lot of the game will be pretty intuitive. Things like clicking to equip things, resource management, buying, selling, buying back, auction housing….things like that will be pretty much second nature. I like that consistency.
  • A neat feature in D3 that’s not in WoW is ‘the stash’. A trunk (basically, a bank) that all your characters can add to and take from. The stash isn’t just exclusive per each character. So, if your Barbarian finds a nifty crossbow, you can throw it in your stash and save it for when you make that Demon Hunter you’ve been eyeing.  The only catch is that you only start off with so many slots to work with. More slots equals more gold…10,000 for 14 more slots. Just as a sort of indicator of how quick you can make gold (just doing quests and selling to vendors) I’m level 8 and have about 6K gold. So…there’s that.
  • The controls are a tad different from WoW in that you use your mouse to move as well as to execute your main attacks. You, eventually, get more attacks and such and will be using the number keys but you’re not pounding near as many keys as when you’re playing WoW.
  • I haven’t gotten high enough yet, but you’ll eventually get Artisans to ‘craft’ for you instead of your character doing the work on their own.
  • Your character will also get Followers to help them along, giving them access to certain abilities they wouldn’t otherwise have.
  • The graphics are pretty crisp though I know some  people (my wife, chief among them) think the three-quarters view makes them look like ‘stick figures’. I did find, though, that hitting your “Z” button will zoom you in so you can get a better look at your character. I wouldn’t recommend questing that way as you don’t get near the view you get in three-quarters.
  • I’ve heard a few complaints about the font. It’s a little funky in some areas and too small in most. It would be nice if Blizzard would patch that so you could adjust the font size for us (ahem) older folks.
  • If you have “Real I.D.” friends on any Blizzard game, you can still keep in contact with them even while playing D3. I was chatting to my wife while she was on WoW.
  • I haven’t done any grouping, yet, but it seems like it’s pretty easy to group up with friends or even random people by making your game ‘public’ or joining someone else’s public game.

I’ve read where someone has already finished on normal difficulty….I, obviously, have not and still have a lot of exploring and killin’ to do.

Maybe, I’ll post a follow-up when I get further along…..

Until then, have fun and….if anyone knows what the “Black Mushroom” is for…let me know 🙂

Going with the fl(W)oW…


So, the wife and I have decided that we are spending a bit more time than we should playing World of Warcraft. The sort of ironic thing about that decision is that’s how we met….playing WoW.  We don’t really do a whole lot with our free time besides watching t.v. and, sometimes, the occasional stroll to the beach or the pool. The weather being hot/rainy/more hot hasn’t been all that conducive for even the occasional stroll, up to this point.  We’ve decided to focus, a bit more, on other aspects of life. For me, it’s my writing….trying to develop better habits for writing as well as working on the discipline of actually DOING it. For her it’s getting into shape, reading more, and trying out some different games.

Sometimes I get the feeling, while playing WoW, that it’s like a second job. A job that I don’t get paid for, mind you, but a job nonetheless. Spending hours doing dailies, trying to gear up characters, farming for materials, getting professions leveled…it can be a bit taxing, at times. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy playing and we’re not even contemplating cancelling our accounts any time soon, but I’m finding it easier and easier to log out to do other things.  What all that means, I don’t really know. Sometimes it’s just easier to go with the flow.