Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AFK for Turkey Day

Due to traveling plans and the like for Thanksgiving, I won't be posting anything new until Monday. See you then!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy (Belated) Birthday World of Warcraft!

In case you missed it, Sunday (November 23rd) was the 4th Anniversary of World of Warcraft's release. To celebrate, Blizzard gave away a special feat of strength and Bind to Account non-combat pet to every character that logged in that day.

Being the achievement chaser and pet lover that I am, I couldn't pass up such an opportunity. So, I spent a good hour yesterday logging onto all of my characters on Feathermoon (9 in total: 5 Alliance and 4 Horde) to get them all the feat of strength as well as to finish off some of the things I'd been neglecting to do in-game.

A while ago there was some sort of error with the in-game mail system, which effectively removed player access to all mail that had been sent previously. Several days later, Blizzard returned the missing mail items via mass mailing. Unfortunately, this method removed the original content of the letters, as well as information as to who had sent them. Now, I personally use the mail system primarily to transfer items between my alts, but also as a temporary storage system for items or characters I can't be bothered to deal with at the moment. This meant that I had only about a month to log into each character and retrieve each item from the mailbox before it would be lost forever. Well, I took care of that on Sunday, so that's one less worry off of my mind. :)

One of the other things I had been intending to do was to make sure that all of my characters had access to all of the Collector's Edition and BlizzCon related in-game items that I have acquired over the past 4 years. This meant a long string of logging into a character, learning all available non-combat pets and mounts, then sending the account-bound items along to the next character and repeating the process. It also meant that I had to create a new character to make sure that all of my existing characters had access to all three of the non-combat pets that were available in the original World of Warcraft Collector's Edition (I tend to favor the Panda Cub, and thus don't often get the Mini Diablo or Zergling on many of my characters). Well, now I can check that off of my to-do list, too. :)

I guess that means I should get back to leveling. Gryphonheart is still only level 73 or so, although I'm progressing significantly faster than I did when I was first leveling to 60, back before the Burning Crusade launched.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Relationship Between Class and Talent Tree

Recently, I've found myself wondering more and more about how the relationship between classes and talent trees functions in World of Warcraft. For the longest time, I always defined the difference between the two as pretty basic: the class establishes the basic framework of a character and the talent trees allow that character to specialize within that framework.

An example of what I mean is the relationship between the three Hunter talent trees and the Hunter class. When you think about it, each tree focuses on improving one or more of the primary themes of the class. Beast Mastery focuses on the Hunter's pet, one of the most endearing aspects of the Hunter class, as I'm sure Mania of Mania's Arcania can tell you. Marksmanship focuses on ranged weapons and their damage potential. Finally, Survival focuses on "the hunt", or aspects such as tracking, trapping, and, well...surviving.

However, this is not what I see with the Holy Paladin. The Paladin Holy tree allows a character to specialize outside the framework of the class. As I mentioned previously, in my What is a Paladin? and Is the Holy Paladin Really a Paladin? posts, I feel that melee combat is one of the aspects that really works to define the Paladin class as a whole. Yet the Paladin Holy tree does not work toward this end. The result of this is that the Holy Paladin is pushed away from melee combat, and as a result, away from what it truly means to be a Paladin.

In other words, I see the current Paladin Holy tree in a similar light as the pre-patch 1.7 Hunter Survival tree. You know, the one that was crowned by Lacerate? The issue with that tree wasn't simply that Lacerate was a remarkably horrible talent (although it was unbelievably bad), but that the entire tree at the time centered around a ranged combat class specializing in melee combat. Sound somewhat familiar?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I'd like to offer my apologies for my sporadic posting this week. I've been feeling a bit under the weather recently, and have spent most of my free time this week asleep. Thankfully, I'm feeling much better today, and so I hope to return The Lion Guard to a more normal posting schedule as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is the Holy Paladin Really a Paladin?

Technically, yes. A Holy Paladin is simply a Paladin character who has placed more talent points in the Holy tree than in the Protection and/or Retribution trees. However, if the answer was as simple as that, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog post. :P

Two weeks ago, I asked the question "What is a Paladin?" and provided my own answer. I highly suggest reading that post as it provides a more in-depth response, but to summarize very briefly, my answer was that the Paladin is best defined by its essence, which is primarily made up of three prominent Paladin themes (which extend beyond WarCraft to every fantasy-genre Paladin I've ever heard of):
  1. durability,
  2. connections to the divine, and
  3. melee combat.
Now, the reason why the question in this post title comes up is that the Holy Paladin in World of Warcraft does not fit particularly well with the third theme, melee combat. Sure, Holy Paladins are decidedly melee-ranged characters while engaged in solo play, but very much lose this trait in group situations. As a result, every time I join a group as a Holy Paladin, I get the sensation that my character is no longer a Paladin, but rather something more akin to a Cleric or Combat Medic.

Don't get me wrong, though—I still love playing my Holy Paladin. If I didn't, I would have respecced, rerolled, or quit the game long ago. However, the fact that my Holy Paladin only plays like a Paladin about half the time is somewhat disappointing, and the fact that I cannot answer the question "Is the Holy Paladin really a Paladin?" with a wholehearted "Yes!" is discouraging.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Happy Wrath Day!

I hope everyone's enjoying the Wrath of the Lich King release. :)

Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to enjoy it, myself. Due to some issues I've been having with how World of Warcraft and my operating system get along, I decided that I'd celebrate the arrival of my shiny (oh, so shiny! :D) new Collector's Edition by completely uninstalling and then reinstalling World of Warcraft. So, after spending some time backing up my addons and converting 22.7 gigabytes worth of .tga format screenshots into 4.55 gigabytes worth of .jpg format ones (which really must find the time to go through, as most of them are completely pointless), I finally got everything back up and running.

Now, if you don't mind, I've got to go swing some Light around. ;D

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Wrath of the Holy Light

Be warned! The Lich King no longer sits idly upon his glacial throne. His wrath—the cruel and uncaring fury of death itself—is upon us at last! Be wary, friends. The Lich King knows no mercy, and even the eternal slumber can not grant you reprieve from his icy influence.

Yet we must fight on, as brothers and sisters, Alliance and Horde, blessed of the Light and damned of the darkness. We must stand united, for the Lich King seeks not only to divide our attentions, but to tear asunder all that we love and hold dear!

Stand tall, my brothers and sisters! Stand resolute. Know that so long as you fight against the evils that seek to devour this land—that seek to purge it of all that is good and just and right—know that the very world itself shall fight alongside you. Know that we will emerge victorious—of this there can be no doubt! No matter how deep the darkness, the Light shall always drive it away. No matter how great the horror, the Light shall grant us the resolve to face our fears. No matter how desperate and depraved our souls become, the Light shall always greet us with a welcoming embrace.

By blood and honor we serve. By body and mind we protect. By life and death we sacrifice. And by the Light we'll prevail!

To arms! To battle! Together!

To Northrend!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

On Collector's Editions

In my opinion, one of the best things about every new Blizzard game or expansion release is the Collector's Edition. Blizzard does an amazing job packing these boxes with cool extras, especially the soundtracks, art books, and behind-the-scenes DVDs.

If you haven't bothered to listen to the in-game music recently, I really think you're missing out. WarCraft music is some of my absolute favorite music of any video game franchise, and is amazingly effective at breathing life into an otherwise fairly static world. Not only is the music itself epic enough for any music player, but there are just some moments in World of Warcraft that are not only enhanced by, but become extremely memorable because of music highlights. Two examples of this from the top of my head occur in Molten Core and Zul'Aman.

For those of you who used to raid Molten Core with the in-game music turned on, you probably know the exact area I'm thinking of. About halfway through the instance, right after you defeat the fourth boss, Garr, you pass through a narrow tunnel to encounter your first "lava pack" trash group and see the cavernous room in which Baron Geddon and Shazzrah reside. Right as you cross the threshold from the tunnel to the cavern, the music suddenly drops away and is replaced by something much, much more epic. This transition is absolutely perfectly placed. Garr was arguably the last of the easy bosses at the start of the raid zone, and the "lava packs" were definitely some of the hardest trash pulls in the entire instance. Yet despite this sudden increase in difficulty, the members of the raid group I was part of always seemed to become re-energized when we reached that point, regardless of how long the raid day had been, and I credit this musical transition for at least part of that.

The other example of when music really makes for a memorable moment is the completion of Zul'Aman. After successfully defeating Zul'jin, your raid group is treated to a bit of a celebration in the form of victory music. For me, the feeling of exhilaration after completing Zul'Aman was greater than anything I'd experienced since defeating Ragnaros in Molten Core. Of Hakkar the Soulflayer, Ossirian the Unscarred, Prince Malchezaar, Gruul the Dragonkiller, Magtheridon, Lady Vashj, and Kael'thas Sunstrider—all of whom I defeated between my first victory over Ragnaros and my first victory over Zul'jin—none provided the same sense of achievement that completing Molten Core and Zul'Aman did.

Art Books:
If you've never had the chance to take a look at any of the WarCraft art books, I highly recommend you check out Sons of the Storm, the website of the top Blizzard artists. It'll give you a small taste of the pure awesome that is packed into every art book page. Not only do you get some insight into WarCraft development, but you also get to see cool concept art and sketches of things that may not have necessarily made it into the final game (most likely due to being comprised of too much win). One example of this would be the original concept for Crystalforge Armor (the Paladin tier 5 set), which is much more awe-inspiring than its in-game counterpart.

Behind-the-Scenes DVDs:
The behind-the-scenes DVDs are, by far, my favorite part about Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes. Not only do you generally get high resolution versions of the jaw-dropping cinematics, but you also get to watch cool environment, character, and gameplay videos narrated by the designers and developers.

In fact, my greatest regret about any of the Blizzard Collector's Edition boxes I've bought is the loss of my WarCraft 3 Cinematics DVD (before I could peruse its full contents, too :( ).

Now, am I saying that you should buy yourself a Collector's Edition? No, not necessarily. If you're not interested in owning all the extras, then leave them to people who are. However, if you do know a friend who has gotten the Collector's Edition of any of the WarCraft games which have offered it (WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos, World of Warcraft, World of Warcraft: the Burning Crusade, and World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King), I definitely recommend taking the time to stop by and ask to ogle their goodies.*

...On second thought, you might wish to find a different phrase to use.

*: By reading or in any other way consuming the content of this post, you hereby agree that Gryphonheart of The Lion Guard will not be held responsible for any repercussions resulting from the usage of the phrase "May I please ogle your goodies?" or any derivative thereof.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Beacon of Light: Backwards?

As you may know, Beacon of Light is the new 51 point talent for the Paladin Holy tree. It's designed to allow the Paladin to better handle healing situations in which multiple targets are taking damage—a scenario in which Paladins were very ill-equipped to handle prior to patch 3.0.

Now, this post isn't so much about the talent's effectiveness or what I think about it (but if you must know, I'm not really a fan). It's about the divergence between the talent's design and name.

Generally speaking, Blizzard does a phenomenal job of making sure that spells and abilities fit well with the names they're given. Rohan, of Blessing of Kings, discusses this in the post Ability Names. Beacon of Light, in my opinion, is one exception. When I look at the nomenclature of Beacon of Light, I tend to divide it into two parts: "Beacon" and "of Light". The latter part is pretty self-explanitory, and I have no quarrel with it. My problem lies with the useage of the word "Beacon".

Think about it: a beacon is something which emits energy, usually in the form of light. However, Beacon of Light does not turn its target into something which emits the Light—it turns the target into something which mirrors the healing received by other targets. As a result, I always feel that the effect is somewhat backwards every time I use it.

So, what happened? Why did Blizzard's normally high standards of nomenclature break down in the case of Beacon of Light? I believe the primary reason for this is that the Beacon of Light which exists today is a completely redesigned spell from the original one (the one that properly fit the name). The Beacon of Light which first debuted in the Wrath of the Lich King beta was an area of effect heal over time spell, which read as follows:

Beacon of Light
Requires 50 points in Holy
The target becomes a Beacon of Light, healing all party or raid members within 10 yards for 2000 over 15 sec.

As you can probably guess, I think the old version fits the name much better than its successor. What do you think?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why I Play World of Warcraft

I started playing World of Warcraft back in 2004, when the game first launched. M reasoning for picking up the game in the first place was twofold:
  1. WarCrafts 1, 2, and especially 3 had endeared me to the franchise and gotten me interested in the lore and storyline.
  2. The Paladin class. The Paladin was my second favorite unit in WarCraft 2 and my favorite hero unit in WarCraft 3. (You can probably guess my favorite WarCraft 2 unit and WarCraft 3 non-hero unit based on the name I use. :P)
It just so happened that a good friend of mine from high school had also picked up the game, and so we both decided to create our characters on a promising new RP realm called Feathermoon. Naturally, the first character I created was a human Paladin named Gryphonheart. I originally wanted to name him Ethos, which was the name I used in the open beta and what I've continued to use in the expansion betas, however that name was unavailable, which is somewhat boggling to me as I have never managed to find an existing character with that name on Feathermoon.

Anyway, my friend created a night elven Druid, and although our characters never spent much time together—as we both insisted on leveling on our home continents—we still had a great time chatting with each other and discussing our experiences in whispers and party chat. Sadly, that friend has since quit playing World of Warcraft, but remains one of the primary reasons why I cotinue to play on Feathermoon. (Playing on an RP server was my idea, but my friend chose which RP server we would create our characters on. As a result, every time I see the words "Feathermoon (RP)" on the top of my character select screen, I'm reminded of all the good times we had.)

Sentimentality aside, another primary reason why I play World of Warcraft is raiding. At first, raiding did not appeal to me very much because I got the impression that many of the Alliance-side raid groups on Feathermoon at the time were somewhat condescending towards the roleplaying community*, and every raid group I'd heard of required a greater time commitement than I could reasonably afford to meet. Fortunately, I ended up hearing about a new raiding group which had modest time requirements and was being put together by some of the more famous Alliance-side roleplayers on the realm and decided to check it out. Back then the group was called Totally Molten Core, and raiding with that group was the most fun thing I'd experienced in World of Warcraft up to that point. I still continue to raid with that group to this day, although it is now known as Totally Raids, Inc.—and if that name is familiar to you, it's probably because it's the same group that Anna of Too Many Annas raids with.

Now, there are plenty of other reasons why I play World of Warcraft, but friends and raiding are probably the two primary factors. So, if you don't mind me asking, why do you play World of Warcraft?

*: Were the Alliance-side raid groups on Feathermoon at that time condescending towards roleplayers? Honestly, I couldn't tell you as I wasn't one of their members. It may have been an issue of misinterpretation or miscommunication, or a situation of a vocal minority making things seem worse than they truly were. All I can tell you for sure is that, for whatever reason, I did not get the impression that there was a relationship of mutual respect between Alliance raiders and roleplayers back then.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Pre-Wrath of the Lich King Goals

With Wrath of the Lich King just under a week away now, I figured it would probably be a good time for me to lay out my pre-expansion goals. So, without further ado:

High Priority Goals:
Low Priority Goals:
I doubt I'll even be able to complete most of the high priority goals, much less all of them, but at least writing them all out will help me better organize the time I spend in-game.

I know that chances are that if you're reading my blog you probably read other World of Warcraft-related blogs as well, and so you're probably getting tired of bloggers asking you this, but what goals are you trying to accomplish in the short time remaining before we can finally set foot on the shores of Northrend?

PS: If you're wondering why today's post is on such a generic topic, my reasoning is threefold:
  1. Writing my goals down in a public space serves to better motivate me to work towards them, rather than simply putting them off.
  2. Generic posts give me a bit more time to work on more interesting posts and you more time to read and digest interesting old posts. :P
  3. The many achievement links give me a chance to test out and troubleshoot the Powered by WoWhead script.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What is a Paladin?

One of the things that I would like to do with this blog is really delve deep into the raw awesomeness that is the Paladin. But before we do that, I think it's important to first define what the Paladin is.

There are, of course, many ways to do this. For example, one could give a very generic answer such as "The Paladin is one of 9 (soon to be 10) character classes in World of Warcraft." Or, one could give a more lore-centric answer. "Paladins are humans and dwarves who have been inducted into the Order of the Silver Hand, draenei who have become Vindicators, or blood elves who have joined the Blood Knights." Perhaps one might use a definition which mentions gameplay roles: "A Paladin is a hybrid character who wears heavy armor and can specialize in healing, tanking, or dealing melee damage."

However, while all of the above are true, my opinion is that the most significant definition of the Paladin deals with essence moreso than anything else. It's not until we strip away the surface characteristics, the rich and vibrant lore, and even the gameplay mechanics that we can begin to see where I believe the essence of the Paladin resides. What we are left with are themes, such as honor, devotion, faith, piety, righteousness, and (of course) big-ass hammers :P. Even then, the essence is elusive, and so we must sift through the themes to find what is most relevant to the Paladin as a whole, and only then can we see what I think is the true heart of the Paladin. What we are left with are 3 things. Three phrases that not only describe the Paladin of World of Warcraft, but also the Paladin of virtually every fantasy setting of modern times: durable, connected to the divine, and melee combatant.

  • Durability is most commonly expressed through heavy armor and, occasionally, shields, and WarCraft Paladins are no exception. In addition, WarCraft Paladins also have the ability to reduce the damage dealt to themselves and their allies, become invulnerable, and heal.
  • Connections to the divine are expressed in a variety of ways across the fantasy genre. The three most common are likely the ability to heal even the most grievous of wounds, to smite demons and/or the undead, and affiliations to a religious order. WarCraft Paladins fit this perfectly.
  • Melee combat is often emphasized in fantasy settings by an aversion to fighting at a distance. This could be the result of a lack of proficiency with ranged weaponry, a code of honor that favors one-on-one or close-range combat or looks down upon commanding from the safety of the back lines, or a myriad of other reasons. This applies to WarCraft Paladins as well. More specifically, this manifests itself in the Paladin class of World of WarCraft through the inability to equip most ranged weapons (there's one exception, which I'm sure most old-school Paladins will remember :P) and the absence of any baseline spammable ranged offensive spell or ability.
In my opinion, those 3 themes are the essence of the Paladin, and do more to define what a Paladin is than any other element, WarCraft-specific or otherwise. However, there's a problem with my definition and how it relates to the World of WarCraft Paladin...

So, two potentially not-so-quick questions:
  1. How would you answer the question "What is a Paladin?"
  2. What, in your opinion, is the problem with my definition, or is there one at all?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Greetings! Welcome to my blog, The Lion Guard! This is a World of Warcraft-centric blog recounting my personal experiences and thoughts about the game, primarily in/on/of/around/near/by/for/with/regarding/from/about the Paladin class.

So, who am I? Those of you who know me in-game or from various forums, blogs, or other such sites probably know me as Gryphonheart (or by my nickname: Gryph), a Human Paladin on the Feathermoon (US RP-PvE) realm of Blizzard Entertainment's extremely popular massively multiplayer online roleplaying game World of Warcraft. Those of you who don't know there! :D

Since we're getting ourselves acquainted anyway, allow me to tell you a bit more about myself and my goals for The Lion Guard.

More About Me:
  • I'm a roleplayer. The lore and stories of and behind WarCraft are some of the most interesting and compelling parts of the game for me. That being said, I know there is also some prejudice against roleplayers in the general WarCraft community. As a result, I'd like to state up front that you're more than welcome to post comments including your disagreements with roleplaying (or anything else I discuss, for that matter), however insults will not be tolerated.
  • Gryphonheart is the virtual expression of myself in the game. What I mean by this is that if the World of Warcraft was the world in which I existed, Gryphonheart is the type of person I would be. I do not mean that I actually think I am the character Gryphonheart in real life.
  • I am a raider. I find raiding to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of the game.
  • Blizzard Entertainment is my favorite game making company, and WarCraft is my favorite Blizzard franchise.
My Goals for The Lion Guard:
  • 5 posts per week, on average, with at least 1 "meaty" post per week.
  • Provide myself an inspiring means to exercise and develop my writing skills.
  • Practice public expression. I tend to be one of those quiet, shy people in public. Perhaps this blog will help me become a more confident individual.
  • Express myself. Most of the people I interact with regularly in real life are uninterested in WarCraft. I hope that here I can create a place to freely converse with folks who are genuinely interested in at least some of what I have to say.
Well, I guess that's about it. I must admit, I'm looking forward to seeing how this blog turns out. :)