newbie 80 warrior… what next?

So, in celebration of getting to 80, I went ahead and Explored the world 🙂

Now here’s my dilemma. I’ve been working my way through Northrend, and hit 80 while finishing off Grizzly Hills. Now, do I continue the questlines in nrend or do i just go straight to the new cata zones?

I looked around and here’s pre-cata advice for finishing Northrend after 80:

If you’ve done the run to 80 before you shouldn’t do every quest in the zone; only the ones that will help you later.

Do Howling Fjord first, do the initial zone quests up to the ones that unlock the Utgarde Keep dungeon quests. Then do the Ka’luak quests in full.

Do Borean Tundra. Do Coldarra in its entirety to unlock the Nexus dungeon quests. Do Ka’luak quests until you get to Revered (or close to it, there’s easier ones in Dragonblight), and do the quests that lead up to and include finishing Temple City of Enkil’ah.

Run Utgarde Keep and Nexus at least once WITH the dungeon quests.

Do the majority of Dragonblight. The Goblin quests in the north area are optional, but nearly all the quests are important for something (Kirin Tor, Wyrmrest Accord, Ka’luak, Wrathgate).

By the time you do all those you should be Honored with Kirin Tor and Wyrmrest Accord, and Revered with Ka’luak. When you hit Lv.76 go to the Ka’luak vendor and buy a blue chest, and go back to the vendors for all three when you hit Lv. 78.

After that I recommend skipping Grizzly Hills and Sholozar Basin and hit Zul’drak for the Argent Crusade and Ebon Blade rep, both of which are in the lower areas. You could optionally unlock the Drak’Theron keep quests in Grizzly Hills, and probably a good idea to do the same for the flight point in Sholozar. If you intend to do Frenzyheart or Oracles, then stop by in Sholozar.

Once you hit Lv.77 go directly to Icecrown and do the quests to unlock Crusader Pinnacle and Shadow Vault, and start up the Argent Tournament quests. Then if you think you need shoulder enchants later go to Storm Peaks and do the entire Sons of Hodir questline, but only that. By then you should have enough dailies unlocked to not have to worry about anything else.

However, as the level cap is 85 these wont be as much of a gold bonanza – instead i could go straight to Hyjal, finish the zone, and then go do Firelands dailies for epic gear and better flying mounts. And then I can always return to northrend to finish off the Lich King.

What’s the better strategy here? I don’t even know all the pros and cons of each, so help educate me…

UPDATE – I just went to Hyjal, did three quests and got a sword that doubled my DPS. 0_o


Aabde on Staghelm, level 80


Level 10 – 5/14/09

Level 20 – 6/22/09

Level 30 – 8/7/09

Level 40 – 10/20/09

Level 50 – 12/12/09

Level 60 – 2/20/10

Level 70 – 6/24/10

Level 80 – 7/25/11

So, over two years. Note that it took over a year just to go from 70 to 80, so I’ve been in Northrend for a loooong time. Here are the dates of my Northrend questing achievements:

DEHTA’s little PITA: 7/14/10
Nothing Boring about Borean: 2/2/11
I’ve Toured the Fjord: 2/28/11
Might of Dragonblight: 5/21/11

This shows I’ve spent most of my time in the Borean Tundra (almost 6 months). That’s about how long I spent in Outland (from level 50-70).

At one time I had decided I was going to do all the quests in Outland, and was making some headway, but eventually gave up when I finally bought WotLK. I’ll reserve Outland achievements for my other alts.

I just noticed that there are quest achievements for the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor that I should have had credit for , but don’t – I assume they must have been added afterwards. Thats annoying 😛

On approach to 80

My main is approaching level 80, which has only taken me about two years of play 🙂 Of course the Flame Festival is going on now which will distract me once I get online again (today doesn’t look great for that, maybe tomorrow?). But as I get to “endgame” I am finally going to be eligible for raids and Wintergrasp and all that stuff which until now has been inaccessible.

The question is, what do I want to do? and how do I start?

I used to run battlegrounds when I first started but tired of the Kobyashi Maru aspect of them. I almost had the achievement for winning every BG once but then they changed it so that all BGs give the same kind of honor point (or is a valor point? I get confused). At any rate I have a good number of those saved up but am not really sure there’s any useful gear if any I could buy that would be useful to me now.

Also, I am trying to run a random dungeon every time i log on (which isn’t always possible) and thus am accumulating the other kind of Points there, too. Again, not really sure how many I need and what they are good for.

In a nutshell, I am a PvE player – I like to quest. I also like to do dungeons, in order to complete the questlines and get the achievements. What I want is better gear, I am very poorly equipped as most of my gear is quest reward stuff and I don’t have much gold to spend at AH.

From this comprehensive guide to PvP gear for the new 4.2 release, most of which is utterly incomprehensible to me, it seems like some PvP gear would be hugely useful for PvE. So, should I try to get some? How? What’s the best way to go about this?

I dont know if I will enjoy raiding, but right now I’m so under-equipped that it’s not even an option. I’d like to at least try it out. But again, no idea where to start.

I need a Newbie Eighty Guide to Gear. Tell me what to do, what the basic due diligence is. Any and all guidance appreciated!

UPDATE – should have mentioned, my main is a human Arms spec warrior, level 78 on Staghelm.

China and Azeroth: gold farm slavery

As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells.
Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.
it was the forced online gaming that was the most surreal part of his imprisonment. The hard slog may have been virtual, but the punishment for falling behind was real.

“If I couldn’t complete my work quota, they would punish me physically. They would make me stand with my hands raised in the air and after I returned to my dormitory they would beat me with plastic pipes. We kept playing until we could barely see things,” he said.

It is known as “gold farming”, the practice of building up credits and online value through the monotonous repetition of basic tasks in online games such as World of Warcraft. The trade in virtual assets is very real, and outside the control of the games’ makers. Millions of gamers around the world are prepared to pay real money for such online credits, which they can use to progress in the online games.

The trading of virtual currencies in multiplayer games has become so rampant in China that it is increasingly difficult to regulate. In April, the Sichuan provincial government in central China launched a court case against a gamer who stole credits online worth about 3000rmb.

The lack of regulations has meant that even prisoners can be exploited in this virtual world for profit.

I have no words. read the whole thing.

a stupid question about Steam

What’s the point of Steam, really? Suppose I were interested in picking up Portal 2. I have a choice, I can buy the retail version from Target or I could use Steam (which came pre-installed on DENT). Is the game full-featured in either case? Is there extra DRM in one and not the other? If I buy the retail disc, I can still install that on more than one PC, right? (I’m not going to game on anything other than PREFECT or DENT anyway).

Leeroy Jenkins

This is an old Warcraft meme, but new to me, and its hilarity is universal.

It’s just awesome. And players who endlessly strategize and micromanage drive me insane. I’ve never yet been on a raid (my main is still 75) so maybe the overthinking is necessary for all I know – but pulling a Leeroy is going to be hard to resist.

high score: 1026 on Entanglement


not too shabby

Clearly, my new strategy is on the right track. My goal is to basically create my endgame path, and wind my red path around in semi-helical fashion around it for as far as I can go. I dropped all my earlier strategies (go concave, isolate the center, etc etc) and as you can see with some luck I found myself with a very low score right before the finale (click to enlarge):

just before the final play... 80 measly points

You can see how I shepherded the long path around the board and for the most part kept the red path close to it. Here’s the final board (click to enlarge):

the final board - added 43 segments in one move

I think if I am careful to save a really good tile with a U and a V and some crossovers in my Swap, and try for slightly more torturous endpath winding, I can go even higher. This literally was my first try at this new strategy and of course I really lucked out that I was able to connect the two long path segments at the end. But amazing as this was, it’s humbling to look at how my score fares on the leaderboards:

I'm #2 for today!

I'm #79 this week. Yay.

I'm... not even in the top 100, all-time. Sigh.

Rage against the machine: Watson isn’t elementary

IBM’s supercomputer Watson is playing Jeopardy against human champions, and the first round was a tie. This is spawning two narratives in the media.

The first narrative – by far the most widepsread – might be summarized thus: OMFG the Machines are kicking our asses! I bow to our mechanical overlords. Where’s my Matrix pod? Fear Skynet!

The second, however, seems to me the more interesting one, and to be honest I haven’t actually found any examples yet of it out there but I am hopeful that someone (besides me, anyway) is writing about it. That narrative might be summarized thus: You mean, with all those gigabits/sec, petabytes, petaflops, and nanoseconds at its disposal, the best the machine can do is tie?

Let’s keep in mind that the combined total of the entire world’s CPU power – the total, across all computers on the planet – is estimated to be the equivalent of one human brain. One.

You might argue that this fact supports narrative #1, the OMFG one. After all, measured in CPU capacity, Watson is kind of toast. But human brains compute using chemical reactions, whereas computers compute using electronics. That means that computers can compute about a hundred to a thousand times faster than we can. (I am reminded of the aliens living on a neutron star in Robert Forward’s landmark scifi novel, Dragon’s Egg, arguably the progenitor of the hard-sci-fi genre). Also, information retrieval using search algorithms on indexed data is obviously far more accurate than the vagaries of memory. So mere compute capacity isn’t the issue. An enormous desert full of rocks has more compute power than my desktop, but you still can’t play Warcraft in any reasonable timescale.

So for a game like Jeopardy – which is full of questions that can be answered quite simply using Google, unlike other Trivia contests I could mention – a computer really should walk all over the poor bags of mostly water who literally have (chemical) soup for brains. I’m not privy to watson’s architecture, but I suspect that Alex reads the question, it’s converted to a text strong by some straightforward voice-to-speech algorithm, processed by natural language algorithms to extract the keywords and rudimentary context, sent off to google or IBM’s inhouse equivalent against Watson’s database, and then the results are ranked using some sort of fuzzy logic (again influenced by the context of the question). Watson takes the most probable answer, sends it through another natural language filter, and constructs a response in the form of a question as per Jeopardy’s rules. With answer in hand, the “buzzer” is activated, and if the humans haven’t already buzzed in by now, that response is vocalized using a Stephen Hawking Box. Nothing about this requires any intelligence, just clever code – and if you are a machine, but your performance depends entirely on the code written by your human handlers, then that’s the digital equivalent of holding HAL by the short hairs.

So please, Watson merely tied the humans? Even if he beats them in the end, anything less than a total rout is indeed a soft bigotry of low expectations. To quote Kirk, “I’m laughing at the Superior Intellect.”

entangled by Entanglement

an Entanglement tile
an Entanglement tile
Google Chrome has started featuring the Entanglement game by Gopherwood studios on it’s website. You can link your google account to the game so your scores can be posted online, under your moniker (which you choose using three haiku-esque phrases – I am Tidy Folded Landscape).

The game – coded entirely in HTML5, not Flash – is quite simple – place hexagonal tiles on a hexagonal board, to construct a long pathway. The path can (and must) cross itself but cannot intersect the darker tiles around the periphery or at the center. Each tile has 12 nodes and six paths connecting them, and you can rotate the tile as you decide where to place it. You are given randomized tiles, one at a time, and you cannot “look ahead” to the next one, but you can “swap” a tile with an extra one kept aside.

Strategy for this game is deceptively complicated. I’ve developed a strategy whereby I try to isolate the central tile, always preferentially double back rather than curve my path outwards, and try to maintain escape routes along the edges. But of course sometimes you have to choose between adhering to one rule and violating another, since the tiles are random and you can’t plan ahead very far.

My maximum score thus far is 311, and that’s with a lot of luck. Today’s top 100 scores begin at 500+, the all-time leaderboard starts at 1200 for the #100 slot up to 3500 for the #1. The maximum theoretical score is 9000+ but that is probably impossible to achieve in practice. But I am absolutely astonished at how people can get 500 and above. There clearly must be some additional strategies at work here which I haven’t discovered. I’m not alone in my frustration – there’s a whole thread on Reddit about scoring in Entanglement, but no one shares their strategies, alas.

Path length is another metric by which you can keep score. My best is 102, today’s best is 122, and the theoretical maximum should be 169. Oddly there are scores on the leaderboard with path length of 400, which just makes no sense to me at all.

The Annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest

spiffUPDATE: see the wrap up below.

Trivia, you say? Why yes:

The Midwest Trivia Contest, webcast by Lawrence University’s internet radio station WLFM (, was founded in 1966 by J. B. deRosset, ’66, and each January offers 50 consecutive hours of questions such as “What is the Minnesota state muffin?” and “What was the name of the first American hotel with indoor plumbing? (answers: blueberry and the Tremont House in Boston, respectively).

My affiliation with Lawrence University is nonexistent, but as it is located in Appleton WI, the home town of some of my dearest friends in college, I am what you might call a veteran of Lawrence Trivia. My participation in recent years has been lax, but our team, the Hobgoblins of Little Minds typically ranks among the top scorers every year.

And now, Haibane of Little Minds, I ask you to join us. Are you potentially going to be bored at all this weekend? Have a few spare moments worth spending in trivial pursuit? Then tune into WLFM’s live feed of the Trivia Contest, and if you know an answer, post it below in the live chat room below. Our Trivia Mavens are standing by!

UPDATE: Well Trivia has ended, and the Hobgoblins took fourth place, ties for our best showing ever. Much respect to the worthy opponent teams such as Trivialeaks, Scott Pilgrim vs. The Superbad Iowans in Revolt, and Trivia Pirates Arrr!. Final scores will be posted to the official Trivia blog.

Along the way, we scoured the wierd corners of the Internet, from Tarvuism to stuffed animals with mental disorders. And of course, much food and fun was had by all, and sleep had by few.

Here was the final Super Garuda question, whose answer I will not reveal, as a challenge to you all 🙂 After all, in accordance with Trivia Tradition, this will also be the first question of next year’s contest:

What was log entry on Sept 29th 1961 at 2PM PST in the Alamo Airways Daily Log at McCarran International Airport?