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Druid Twinking: Hotstuffbaby

Well, I told you I wasn’t fully finished with twinking, so here’s some more proof for you. Sorry, I just can’t help but enjoy facing opponents with actual intelligence:

As with Killutiludie yesterday, she’s got some progressing left to do. But, she’s got most of her gear already set aside and just needs to level. There are three instances that I need to run for gear, but the three items I need are all the higher of the drop rates for the specific bosses. [Edit: Progression is done, gear is obtained, twink healing has begun. She'll typically be seen in her caster gear on the armory, and there are a few pieces that can be upgraded via BoE blues I haven't manage to get my hands on yet, but there she is. Herbalism should be maxed tonight or tomorrow. Just shy of 1600 hp in bear form, without sacrificing all other stats for stam.]

Hotstuffbaby isn’t mean to kill people, so where Killutiludie ends up with over 100 kills almost every battleground, Hotstuffbaby settles instead for healing more damage over the course of a battle than most of the dps put out. She actually finds herself at the top of the charts at the end more frequently than my hunter does at this point.

Leveling a Druid Twink Through Battlegrounds
Looking back on my previous post you’ll see that leveling in today’s game is pretty well the same for twink as it is for a non-twink. Most of Hot’s leveling since level 10 has come from battleground experience, which makes the process slow sometimes if my entire team feels the need to do solo fighting in midfield or everyone decides that a strong defense is the best offense (and then completely ignores the flag carriers). But when we’re good, we’re friggin’ GOOD! And that’s where the experience really comes rolling in.

Since I’m doing most of her leveling via BG’s there’s some special things to take note of. First off, if flags aren’t getting captured, then you aren’t getting experience in a WSG. You’ll get some when it’s all over regardless of win or lose, but the only way to get experience in WSG in the 19 bracket is from flags being captured. So if you want to level from this method, then do yourself a favor and do your job, which means being part of the team not trying to be superman.

Forget the fact that you’re there to level yourself and do what it takes to help your team succeed.

Gearing a Druid Twink
Gearing a druid depends on what you plan on doing with that druid. From my own personal experience, there are only two types of druid twinks that I have seen in the 19 bracket that actually perform well: healers and flag carriers. I have heard tale of some decent Balance twinks out there, but from what I see it’s always someone with Resto or Feral builds with Resto being significantly more common.

Gearing a Druid twink is a bit easier in some respects to other twinks, and also somewhat harder. The best setup you can have for the druid twink involves a high level rep grind for an offhand item known as the Furbolg Medicine Pouch. You have no chance of getting this item yourself at this level so it requires help from a higher level toon to kill things for you. You also earn that rep at a wonderfully slow 5 points per kill, though there are items you can turn in to get more. I haven’t gone after this item yet myself, though I do have the perfect setup for getting it. Right now I am trying to decide if I want to go with this item for extra hit points or if I would rather go with the Twisted Chanter’s Staff for the boost to Intellect instead.

Right now I’m not sure whether I will need the Stamina more or the Intellect, so only time will tell at this point.

A Druid is about 50/50 on their best in slot gear for twinks between world drops and dungeon loot, and some of their rare drops while being rare also have their highest drop rates located inside specific dungeons. For the druid, Blackfathom Deeps is the location of your best chest piece while Shadowfang Keep is the location for your best weapon if you decide to go for the Medicine Pouch.

Some of the green items you’ll need happen to be among some of the hardest to find though, so be prepared to watch that Auction House pretty close if you’re building a druid. The items themselves aren’t too hard to find, it’s the one with the specific random enchantments on them that you’ll be struggling with.

Playing a Druid Twink
Playing a twink is serious business.

Because of the versatile nature of the druid, there is really a lot that can be put into playing them. Having the ability to switch your role at the drop of a hat is a pretty big deal, even if you don’t necessarily have the best gear for your off-spec roles.

I primarily play Hots as a healer, with crowd control ending up as one of her biggest contributions to actually winning. Sometimes though I have to take on the role of the flag carrier and running around with my big bear butt waving around the screen and relying on someone else to do my healing for me. Right now all of the gear I’ve been building up is centered around healing, but I plan on getting a high Stamina set of gear for when I’m running the flag as well.

Utilizing your versatility is one of the cornerstones of being a Druid twink, so be sure to put that to use when the situation presents itself.

While versatility is your cornerstone, the keystone to your druid twinking is going to be your mobility.

A druid’s mobility is key to everything. You can heal on the move, you can dps (sort of) on the move, you can root (sort of) on the move, and you can move faster than most of the other classes that you’ll be facing as well. These things all combine into one big kick in the teeth for your opponents. Keep your distance when enemies are around and use what spells you can while you’re on the move.

Tactics
Defense: When you’re playing defense as a druid you have two primary contributions. First, Entangling Roots/Nature’s Grasp – these spells are going to stop people from being able to move. They can use trinkets or racials (humans and gnomes) to get out of it, but those things are limited and have cooldowns where your Entangling Roots does not. Second, you’re a healer. When you see someone engage one of your fellow defenders, it’s time to start throwing some heals. If they happen to be focused on you then take advantage of your healing there as well and try to heal through whatever they’ve got. If the enemy is focus on you or your teammates, then they aren’t focused on your flag, and that’s a good thing.

If they do manage to get your flag then your main focus should be rooting the flag carrier in place and throwing Moonfire on him when you can to help dps him down. And for the love of Sylvanas, please don’t forget to let people know where the flag carrier is taking the flag: “efc going tun/ramp/gy”.

If you’re trying to heal the flag carrier, then do your team a favor and forget that you have any damaging spells and save your mana for heals and roots.

Offense:
Crowd Control is one of your key traits here, especially if you’re a healer or a bear. You probably don’t have the mana or the spell power to be a true dps powerhouse, so the strongest offense you have to offer is crowd control and healing to help out the ones who do have the ability to pack a punch for you. If your hunter mate is getting his face bashed in by a warrior, then you should probably root the warrior and then throw some heals on that hunter while he repositions to finish up the job.

If you see a rogue running towards a teammate, then tag him with Moonfire and rob him of the ability to use stealth. If a shaman is dropping totems to slow down your team, then feel free to Moonfire his Earthbinding Totem (that one above all others). If someone’s low on health, then don’t hesitate to try to finish them off with Moonfire or Wrath, especially if it’s some form of caster.

A Beautiful Thing:
One last little bit that I’m going to leave with you is in relation to the Night Elf race in particular, though it does apply to the whole race instead of just the druids. Shadowmeld is your best friend. If a Hunter or Warlock sends his pet after you then this is how you get them to drop their agro. When you use Shadowmeld, the pets will lose agro on you and return to doing what their owner told them to. A lot of people aren’t used to actively controlling their pets, so I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been able to use this to drop the pet agro and then finish the fight without the pet ever even trying to hit me again.

The best time to use this is right before you’re going to heal yourself, or when you’re camping the enemy’s flag spawn. If you pop Shadowmeld and immediately follow it up with your instant cast HoT then your enemy is less likely to notice that his pet isn’t hitting you anymore. It may also make the enemy player target someone else instead of you which allows you to drop back into a healing role.

While the reaction of the player is completely out of your control, it will always drop agro from a pet which might buy you the time you need to heal. There’s nothing stopping the enemy from immediately sending his pet right back to you, but a precious second is a precious second indeed if it means the difference between life and death or victory and defeat.

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2009 in Druid

 

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Hunter Twinking: Killutiludie

As you may have read in my post yesterday, I regret how much time I spent twinking on my previous server. But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it, just that I’m not going to do it as much. Case in point:

He’s still a work in progress as he isn’t even leveled up all the way yet, but there’s a link to Killutiludie’s armory page that will continue to update itself as I progress with him. Most of his gear has been obtained, save for one piece from The Deadmines and three pieces from Wailing Caverns. All of the rare (blue) gear and enchants have been found, purchased, or produced by myself (at level 12, he’s not wearing any of those items yet).

I haven’t taken him into the twink BGs yet since he’s still leveling, so what he’s managed to do isn’t nearly as spectacular as it would be otherwise, but to give you an idea of how he’s doing so far he has ended every battleground so far with 35 – 131 honor kills, and has only been beneath top 5 in the battleground once, and generally places within the top three. Part of that is strictly due to the fact that I’m a hunter and the way that my class works, how much damage I can do, and how easily I can spread that damage out across several players spread throughout the battlefield.

Leveling a Twink
Leveling a twink is really no different than leveling any other character these days. Previously you had to be real careful to do only what was absolutely necessary so that you never went over the level 19 experience cap, but since you can turn off your experience these days that’s really a non-issue.

I prefer to level up my twinks today as I would any other character, doing quests and grouping for instances while accepting runs from guildmembers and such along the way as well. I also like to gain a few levels worth strictly from PVP.

But the challenge for a twink was never really in the process of leveling anyway. For a twink, it’s all about the gear.

Gearing a Twink
Gearing a twink is somewhat different than gearing other characters as the process involves getting the best that the game has to offer for your class and your chosen build. Some things remain static across the board, such as Stamina being a key stat for every class, while others change somewhat depending on how you spend your talent points or which direction you take your hybrid (Holy Paladin vs Retribution Paladin, etc).

An easy fix for some of the gearing up of a twink comes in the form of BoA items. These almost always include the shoulders and weapon(s), and often the chest piece as well. It’s not uncommon to find people with multiple BoA Trinkets these days either, though the tried and true trinkets often perform just as well or even better. For some reason I always end up rolling my twinks on servers that I don’t have an 80 on, so none of my characters end up with BoA gear.

One thing that you find universally across the twinking classes are rare drops, both BoE and BoP. You will find gear from either Wailing Caverns or Deadmines on pretty well every twink in the game, with many of them having gear that comes from both. Casters generally include the bracers found in Ragefire Chasm as well, though they are somewhat less common on Alliance than Horde since the instance just happens to be find right in the middle of Horde capital of Orgrimmar. Shadowfang Keep and Blackfathom Deeps also contain gear that is often used by twinks, but many of the drops from those two require level 20 or higher, so they aren’t as common.

The rarest of the twink gear is the BoE blue items which are primarily world drops with horrendously low drop rates. Some of those items you can “farm” by fighting mobs of a certain level or ones found in a specific location (looking at you here, SFK and BFD). Other’s have such a low drop rate, like 1 in every 478,395 mobs, that farming pretty well out of the question and you instead focus on camping the auction house instead.

Right now there are four items that I am camping the auction house for, though two of them I am also farming mobs for as I do know where their best drop rates are and the mobs that you grind for them have a chance to drop other items that either sell very well on the auction house, items I need for an alt’s professions, or that can be used for other twinks.

Playing a Twink
Playing a twink is serious business.

It can be as hard and stressful, or as careless and crazy as you want to be. There is a mindset that comes from serious twink players that relates closely to those who are serious raiders though. Some of them like to keep stress out so they’ll joke around when something goes wrong, and some will go absolutely crazy when someone makes the smallest mistake, even if their “mistake” wasn’t a mistake at all.

Twinking takes more conscious effort than most other aspects of the game because you aren’t fighting a programmed AI, you’re fighting against other people who are capable of making their own choices and who can completely throw you for a loop at any time. You can expect a hunter to shoot you in the face, but you never know whether he’s going to just run right up to do it, try to circle around to snipe you from behind, or if he’s going to throw you the odd curve ball and come bash you in the face with a melee weapon instead.

Doing the unexpected can give you a big advantage, or it can completely backfire and cost you the match. In the end, it’s important to remember that the old saying “it’s just a game” really is true, no matter how serious it seems. Every loss is a chance to find a way to improve what you are doing yourself, even if you don’t think the loss is directly related to your performance in any way. The same is true for victories too though, find out what everyone did right and try to expand on it.

Parting Tips
As I bring this article to a close, I’ll leave you with just a few tips to use for your low level battlegrounds, particularly Warsong Gulch in the level 19 bracket as it is by far my favorite bracket for twinking.

Etiquette
Team Mindset: Whether the other players on your side suck, or their the greatest group of players you’ve ever seen in your life, remember that they’re still part of your team. Don’t talk crap to your teammates. If someone’s screwing up, try to offer them some advice and preferably in whispers rather than open chat. If you know something they don’t, then chances are they’re going to listen and try to improve. If you’re wrong, then you might very well learn something yourself when they school you instead.

You’ll often find that the person who talks the most crap in chat is the one that’s doing the absolute least to help your team succeed.

Also remember that a good way to build trust and a sense of teamwork is to take the time to actually acknowledge the actions of others. Thank your healers, congratulate your flag carriers, and give the team some props as a whole as well. And yes, even take the time to tell that stupidly overpowered hunter that his sniping skills are unmatched. If it helps the team succeed, then it’s a good thing. If it brings people down or breaks the group apart, then it has no purpose in a battleground.

Emotes: One of the things you’ll get a lot of advice on is whether or not to use emotes to taunt your opponents. The best example is probably going to be /spit. Some will tell you to use it because it will infuriate your opponents and by so doing cause them to make stupid mistakes, and others will tell you to never do it at all. If you want to use them, then use them; if you don’t, then don’t. Personally, the only emote I ever use in a BG in relation to my opponents is /hug, and even then only to get the achievement.

If you feel that taunting the opponent is going to make them screw things up then that’s your call. I will say though, that when I see someone doing it excessively, or without any reasoning I lose respect for you whether you’re on my team or the opponent’s. I like to think that the twinks deserve a bit more respect for the time and effort that they are dedicating, so I shake my head every time I see someone doing it. If there’s one guy that’s just kicking the crap out of everyone and his first death comes after 20 minutes of failed attempts, then I can see someone doing something to express their emotion at finally overcoming him, but once is enough.

Tactics
Defense: When you’re playing the defensive role, take note of where your opponents are at, and be proactive in engaging them. If you know that you have someone coming up the tunnel, then meet them in the tunnel, not the flag room. If you kill him before he gets the flag then congratulations, you just did your job. If you end up being the one that dies though, then you at least have a chance of catching him again when you resurrect, before he can manage to make his getaway with your flag. The tactic is somewhat more useful as a rogue or hunter, but it’s applicable to anyone.

Take note of the fact that your enemy can use this against you though, especially if you see them running back out of the tunnel when they see you. If they pull you farther down the tunnel, then they may very well be leading you away while their buddy drops down from your roof and then takes off with the flag.

Offense: Kill the healers. Kill the flag carrier. If there aren’t any healers and nobody has your flag, then kill anything that has crowd control (warlock, mage) or big burst damage (hunter, rogue). And remember another old saying “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’”. You’re part of a team, so don’t try taking everyone on by yourself. You’ll have a better chance of winning if you fight in groups than if you go do everything by yourself.

Use your crowd control, and use it correctly. For instance, rooting a hunter or a caster doesn’t really help you much unless you do it while they are in pursuit of a flag carrier Unless you have the Glyph of Polymorph, then you probably shouldn’t be sheeping anyone when a Warlock is around unless you’re going to tell them what you’re doing. Druids in their animal forms are considered beasts, and as such can be put to sleep or scared by class abilities that only affect beasts.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2009 in Hunter

 

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Guild: The Breakfast Club

There’s a new guild in town, and it’s called The Breakfast Club. It was started by a group of five people who got together originally when MOTiE was created, who decided that we might as well also start up a twinking guild. I happen to enjoy PvP, so I agreed to doing it and offered to lead the guild as well since I had more PvP experience than everyone else.

To give you a quick definition of what twinking actually is, it’s basically obtaining the best gear you can get along with the best enchantments you can find for said gear, and using that to make the most powerful low-level character you can. A lot of the gear you get from Dungeons, some from turning in PvP rewards of honor or marks, some from quests (usually higher level quests that you get a high level character to run you through), and some you might get from turning in badges or shards for BoA gear from your high level main character.

While there is such a thing as a PvE twink, people don’t usually bother with that because if you are constantly leveling and progressing through the game then you are constantly having to replace your gear as well. The majority of twinks are PvP twinks who focus on a single level bracket. In our case, that bracket is currently level 19.

Meet the Team
Guild Master
Ibewaffles (Tauren Druid 19)
– soon to move up into the 29 bracket to heal in Arathi Basin as well

Guild Officers
Ibegritz (Undead Rogue 19)
Ibebacon (Blood Elf Hunter 19)
Ibepancake (Orc Rogue 19)

Guild Members
Ibemilk (Blood Elf Hunter 19)
Ibesyrup (Orc Shaman 17)
Ibepancakes (Blood Elf Warlock ??)
Ibehashbrown (Undead Warrior ??)
Ibeomlet (?? Rogue 9)

Some of these guys were brought in while I was not logged in and I haven’t seen them since, or they are players that play during hours that I do not. Looking at the roster last night we have quite a few more that aren’t on the list here, but since many of them are still below level 10 as the players focus more on their main characters, I cannot look them up on the armory or like sites to find all of their names now.

Recent Twink Changes
Turning Off Experience Gains
With the launch of 3.2 players are able to turn off their experience gains so that their character can stay at a given level indefinitely. This allows twink players who previously could not run instances or do quests without leveling their character up to do so. Along with that change was one to battlegrounds, where players who have turned off their experience only fight others who have done the same, so there is essentially a Twink battleground, and a non-twink Battleground.

Despite the theoretical existence of two different types of battlegrounds, the reality is that you will still face twinks in the non-twink battlegrounds due to the amount of experience rewarded being so small, and you will still face non-twinks in the twink battlegrounds because there are players who plan on twinking but have not bothered to get their gear or enchants yet even though they are in the bracket with you. The biggest difference that you see is that non-twink battlegrounds have a significantly shorter queue time on average than the twink battlegrounds do.

“Nerfing” Enchants
Another recent change, that’s been around for a few months now, is that a lot of the enchants that people used to abuse to make their twinks more powerful are now unavailable to them because Blizzard made two changes. First, they put level requirements on enchants so that you can no longer get some enchants for lower level brackets that you used to. In the past, if you had a high level character, a fair amount of gold, and an excess of time, you could have a twink that was pretty well unbeatable by anyone who did not match your level of devotion to twinking.

In addition to putting level requirements on some enchants, they also made it so that some of the other enchant-type items that you received became soulbound when you enchant them. Previously you were able to get head enchanting items on your high level character and then use it on your twink, but this no longer works as the enchanting item is bound to the high level character and whatever item you use it on becomes bound to you as well.

Time Limit
The most controvertial change of them all is the 25 minute time limit that has been placed on Warsong Gulch (WSG). Along with that change was one that says in the case of a tie whoever captured the first flag wins the game. When the time limit was first introduced it was only 20 minutes, which passed by so quickly that basically whoever captured the first flag won. Prior to this change, there was no time limit at all which presented its own problems.

People complained a great deal about the time limit and Blizzard responded by giving us an extra 5 minutes. That’s not a whole lot of extra time, but those five minutes do help a lot more than you would think. Before the time limit was introduced people did what we call “Turtling”, where they capture a flag and then pull most of their players around the flag carrier to defend them for however long they feel is necessary. In some cases you would turtle to prevent your team from losing, in some cases you would do it to give your own team time to recapture your own flag, and in the horror stories it was done so that the team doing the turtling could go and farm honor from their opponents for as long as they wanted.

Turtling
Turtling is not much of an option now that there is a time limit though you do still see it. When the time limit was first introduced people turtled because they were used to it. After a few days it pretty well disappeared for the most part because people were rushing to do as much as possible within the time limit. Here recently though turtling has been reintroduced by whichever team captures the first flag as they try to win with a single capture instead of trying to win the game as intended by being the first team to capture three flags.

The sad thing is, turtling is effective. If the other team doesn’t pull together a solid team to come crack down on your flag carrier then you’re probably going to win so long as you had the first flag cap. It doesn’t show that you have any skill in PvP or in being a twink, it just shows that sometimes simple math proves itself in that nine people can kill two faster than the two can kill one with however many healers standing around him.

The flip side of turtling is that it can easily cost you the game, especially if you capped the first flag but your opponent capped the second and you’re now tied. Your team turtles to score a win because you capped the first flag, and meanwhile the other team does the same thing while continuing to send a couple of small groups at you one at a time. Your team keeps up the defense because they think they’re effective and shutting down the enemy assaults.

What’s really happening here is the opponent is sending those groups in to find out what each person of your team is doing and what they’re capable of. They’re also running the clock down to nothing. They want to find who all can heal and what kind of damage your flag carrier can take while also getting used to a pattern so that you defend against an attack every 2 minutes. You fall into the habit taking out the group then sitting down to eat and drink and getting caught up on the TV show next to you. Suddenly you find out the other seven people sitting just a few yards away pop their trap and completely own your face using crowd control on your healers and everyone else focusing fire strictly on the flag carrier. Your guy dies, the enemy recaps their flag and then caps yours as well for a 2-1 victory with no time left on the clock.

The ones that came in on offense tend to kill whoever they can while not bothering to heal themselves during that time, hoping to get a small amount of honor before you save them a trip back home. That’s right, they want to get killed, they just don’t want it to seem to easy. Because the next step in this process is a mad rush by your team to cap a second flag so that the score can be tied again with your team winning from having the first cap. The problem is, you just killed off all of their attackers allowing them to resurrect right back at their base so that they can meet your sad little rush with a brutal defense. Congratulations, you just got owned.

My Thoughts
For the most part these changes are good because it allows more people to join the mix and have a chance at twinking. In some cases the changes are “bad” and have driven players away (mostly talking about things like the head enchants there), but I leave bad in quotes there because it’s not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion.

Turtling sucks, and anybody who decides to do it or participate in it sucks too. It’s a valid strategy and it does technically win you a match if done correctly, but if I see my own team turtling I will intentionally let enemy players bypass me to go after my flag carrier instead and I will not help in defending them. I’m there for a fight and a challenge, not to see who has the thickest shell. I will certainly help defend my flag carrier in normal play, but once it becomes a turtle I want no part of it. In the examples above of good turtles gone bad I will not defend my flag carrier, but I will serve my team by killing the EFC instead. I do want to win, I just don’t want to do it via some pansy tactic like turtling.

The Breakfast Club: Start your day off right – go kill some Alliance!
So far none of the premades that we have done have faced off against premades from other servers. So while we generally dominate when we’re together, we have had an unfair advantage in doing that so far compared to our opponents.

Despite the lack of opposing premade groups, there are a lot of very experienced twinks in our battlegroup that present a wonderful challenge and provide us with opportunities to learn and grow in our own skills and strategies.

Though we are not a big guild and we are not focused solely on PvP (the guild is, but the players aren’t), I think this guild has been successful in doing what it set out to do and we have a blast when we get together and face off against the other players.

The Blog
I have no intention of turning this blog into a source for Twink information. I created the blog to be a source of information for leveling your characters, and that’s how it’s going to stay. I might start up a second blog to house twink-related information, but I’m not in too much of a hurry to do that if I do it at all. I would not be surprised if a bit of twinkage shows up from time to time on the Notebook, but don’t expect the blog’s focus to change.

Out of every aspect of World of Warcraft that I have participated in, I find that PvP presents the most challenge in the game. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the hardest part of the game, or even the most fun, just that it gives me the most challenge. There’s an extra level of excitement when rushing into the unknown of facing other people who are capable of making their own decisions on the fly that you can’t find get from facing a raid boss who follows a preprogrammed course of actions.

Despite all of that, I still find leveling characters to be the most enjoyable and most rewarding experience overall. For the best flavor overall though, it’s a nice mix of all of the above.

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2009 in World of Warcraft

 

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