How to get to Mount Hyjal in WoW – if you’re lost, we’ll show you the way

Mount Hyjal was the first Cataclysm zone that most players encountered while leveling from 80 to 85. For those players who skipped the zone, though, it may not be immediately clear how to get to Hyjal in Cata. With the addition of the Molten Front daily quests in patch 4.2, Hyjal is once again a vital waypoint in most players’ day-to-day lives, so here’s a simple guide to getting there.

By far the easiest way to reach Mount Hyjal is to use the convenient portal located in Orgrimmar or Stormwind. The portal is free to use, and offers instant teleportation to Nordrassil Inn in Hyjal. There’s a slight gotcha, though: if you haven’t yet completed the initial few quests which start the Hyjal questlines, the portal won’t be available to you. So, work your way through the opening of the Mount Hyjal zone if you haven’t already – the lead-in quest is ‘Warchief’s Command: Mount Hyjal!’ from Warchief’s Command Board in Orgrimmar or ‘Hero’s Call: Mount Hyjal!’ from the Hero’s Call Board in Stormwind. It’s worth doing – for one thing, you’ll need to have completed virtually the entire Hyjal questline in order to get access to the Molten Front dailies, so it won’t be time wasted even at level 85.

Once you’ve completed enough of the Hyjal questline to activate the portal, you’ll find it with the rest of the Cataclysm zone portals: on the hill just north of the Valley Of Wisdom in Orgrimmar, or on Eastern Earthshrine island (northwest of Stormwind Keep) in Stormwind.

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Other ways of getting there

While the Orgrimmar/Stormwind portal will usually be the quickest way of getting to Hyjal, you can make your own way there instead if you want . For Horde players, Orgrimmar is still the closest major Horde town from which to fly. Alliance characters will probably find it easiest to get a boat to Rachet and fly from there.

If you are crazy or stubborn enough to fly to Mount Hyjal, be aware that – as the name suggests – it’s a really big mountain. Once you hit the edge of the zone, all you’ll see is a bleak gray cliff-face. You’ll have to fly vertically upwards for quite some time before you find a point at which you can enter the zone.

Getting back

Prior to patch 4.2, the return journey from Mount Hyjal was bit of a pain, especially for Alliance players. If your hearthstone was on cooldown it was quite a trek. Luckily, return portals to Orgrimmar and Stormwind have now been placed just outside the Nordrassil Inn, so the return trip to your capital city is a piece of cake.

Return portals to Stormwind and Orgrimmar outside the Nordrassil Inn

Return portals to Stormwind and Orgrimmar outside the Nordrassil Inn

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Guild experience – Cataclysm: how to earn it and how to level your guild fast in Cata

MMO players have long been used to the idea of earning experience to advance their own characters, but with the addition of Guild experience, Cataclysm has given us a whole new way of advancing. If you’re in a small guild struggling to boost your levels, or if you’re a guildmaster looking to optimize the efforts of your guildies, this short guide will help you get the most of WoW’s new guild experience mechanic.

Your guild, rather like your character, now has a level. A new guild starts at level 1, and the maximum level attainable is currently level 25. The higher the level, the more perks your guild members will have access to. These perks range from the purely cosmetic, such as new vanity pets and mounts, to the pragmatically useful – for example, guilds which hit a certain level gain the ability to mass resurrect entire raids, or have their repair bills automatically slashed or their hearthstone cooldown times reduced. There are plenty of reasons to try to level your guild, and even the lower levels give immediately useful benefits.

Your character even has a reputation with your guild, just as she has a reputation with the many factions in-game. The best guild rewards are only available to players whose guild reputation is Exalted. Earning guild experience will automatically raise your personal guild reputation, as well as contributing towards the earned experience of your guild as a whole (and bringing you all a bit closer to the next guild level).

As one might expect, leveling a guild is a cooperative task which will require all your guildies to work together. Each guild member earns guild experience, and there’s a cap of 6,246k xp on the amount of guild experience a guild can gain in one day.

How to gain experience for your guild

Many of the day-to-day tasks which you’re probably already performing in WoW will award guild experience as well as any other rewards.

  • Completing quests will reward guild experience (in additional to any standard experience which would be awarded). If your character is level 85 and therefore no longer earns standard experience from questing, completing quests will still reward guild experience. The amount of guild experience awarded is 25% of the amount of standard XP awarded.
  • Completing daily quests also awards guild experience. At maximum level, this is one of the best ways to earn guild experience. Again, the guild XP awarded is based on the standard XP.
  • Successfully killing a boss in a dungeon will reward guild experience, but only if the majority of the party is from the same guild – pugging a random dungeon or raid on your own gets you nowhere. Killing a boss in a 5-man group will grant 18600 guild XP (per player) if two other party members are from your guild. With three fellow guildies, the amount increases to 37200 XP per player, and if all five members of the party are from the same guild the amount earned per boss kill is 46500.
  • Killing a raid boss awards 78700 guild XP per person, if sufficient guild members are present. For a 10-man raid, you’ll need at least 8 guildies. For a 25-man raid, at least 20 raiders need to be guilded.
  • A winning arena team will earn experience for their guild, but only if all members of the team are from the same guild. The amount of XP earned in this case is 138,800 XP per player.
  • A rated Battleground win will also award guild experience. Each Honor Point gained will also award 10 guild experience. In addition, a rated battleground win will also award guild experience, but only if at least 8 members of the team are from the same guild. There’s still some debate as to exactly how much XP is awarded in this case.

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How quickly can we advance?

The daily experience cap puts an effective limit on the speed at which your guild will be able to advance. Getting from level 1 to level 2 requires just over 16,500k xp. With the daily cap at just over 6000k xp, it’ll take you three days to gain your first guild level even if you earn the maximum amount of experience you possibly can. Don’t despair, though – guild experience is comparatively easy to come by, so even a leisurely-paced guild should find themselves naturally climbing up the rankings.

Take a look at this fantastic series of forum posts by Bregdark, which break down the specific numbers in excruciating detail.

The most efficient way to advance

If you want to hit Guild level 25 as soon as possible, you’re going to want to hit the guild experience cap every day. The most efficient way to do that partially depends on your playstyle and the size of your guild, but in most cases raids and dungeons are the best way to go.

As a rough guideline, if your guild can kill a raid boss in the amount of time it would take to kill two dungeon bosses, raiding will be the most efficient thing to do. If not, split the raid into five groups of 5 (or two groups of 5 for a 10-man raid) and run heroic dungeons instead. Of course, each raid boss can only be killed once per week, so you have to resort to dungeon boss kills eventually anyway. If you can complete Lost City Of The Tolvir in less time that it would take you to down any two raid bosses, you’ll be better off running dungeons. Remember to take raid trash into account when estimating your timing!

Be sure to keep an eye on the guild experience cap. Any activity after you hit the cap is wasted. It’s important to note, though, that the guild experience cap is removed once you hit guild level 20, so once you’ve reached 20 you can happily grind until your fingers fall off.

Guild leveling! Huh! Good God, y’all – what is it good for?

Absolutely everything.

The benefits of guild advancement are numerous. Each additional guild level provides a new “perk”, which will automatically apply to all your guild members. These perks include:

  • An increase to amount of experience or reputation gained from killing monsters and completing quests.
  • Items taking less durability loss when you die (giving all your guildies lower repair bills).
  • An extra bit of cash being automatically deposited in your guild bank every time a guild member loots cash from a mob.
  • Hearthstone cooldowns being reduced for every guild member.
  • Mail sent between guild members arriving instantly.

… and much more besides. Wowwiki has an excellent detailed list of guild perks available at each level.

Additional guild perks

As well as allowing guilds to advance by earning experience, Cataclysm also brought with it the ability for guilds to earn Achievements in just same way as players. These guild achievements usually require the cooperation of several (if not all) guild members. In addition to the benefits gained each time the guild advances a level, there are a variety of other perks and items to which you’ll have access, depending on your personal guild reputation and whether or not you’ve accomplished some of these guild achievements.

The additional rewards available from guild achievements include Heirloom items, vanity pets and mounts. If your guild manages to hit the maximum Guild Level of 25, for example, you’ll be able to purchase the undeniably awesome Reins of the Kor’kron Annihilator if you’re a Horde guild, or the almost-as-awesome-but-not-quite Reins of the Golden King for Alliance guilds.

No matter how you like to play the game, whether you’re a loner quietly grinding quests and professions, or a dedicated raider never far from your guildies’ sides, you’ll be able to earn guild experience whilst carrying on with your favorite guild activities. Since guild experience benefits everyone, there’s no reason not to start building it up right now.

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Logitech G110 Review – great gaming keyboard?

It’s hard to get truly excited about keyboards, when the world is full of things like iPads and 3D cinema and Felicia Day. That hasn’t deterred Logitech, though, who have pulled out all the stops to design a keyboard that’s actually worth getting excited about. If standard keyboards are vendor trash, the G110 Gaming Keyboard is pure purple and bind-on-pickup.

The idea – as with Logitech’s other gaming keyboards – is to provide a keyboard which does far more than simply enable you to type “lols nub l2p” into party chat. The G110 has a whole host of other features, all firmly designed with gamers in mind.

The keyboard itself is adequate, if not spectacular. The keys are nicely weighted without feeling heavy and cumbersome, and the boards sits well under the palms. The available tilt angle is minimal, but the keyboard does come with a detachable wrist-rest which snaps snugly onto the bottom of the board for those of us who are a bit lazy with our typing postures. For a keyboard which boasts so many features, the G110 is admirably compact, measuring just 50cm wide by 19cm deep ( 23cm with the wrist-rest attached).

The G110 keyboard

The flagship feature of the G110 is the bank of additional keys to the left of the main keyboard. There are twelve keys, positioned in three blocks of four keys each, but Logitech’s clever use of custom modifier keys and profiles allows for far more than just twelve additional buttons. Three small modifier buttons sit just above the bank of custom keys, allowing the user to change to a different set of keybindings with a single press. Software supplied with the board enables each key to perform a variety of functions, some of which are admirably specific. A key can be configured to mimic a standard keypress, of course, but can just as easily mimic a complex key combination. Sick of having to break your fingers trying to press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+J to trigger that once-in-a-blue-moon ability? Just set that combination as the action for one of the custom keys, and your poor phalanges will be safe from harm. Even better, the custom keys can trigger a sequence of keypresses, rendering a regular sequence of key presses down to a single tap. I set one of the custom keys to type “/afk” – a simple shortcut, but one which saved a lot of time.

For extra credit, the G110 will even allow keypress sequences to be recorded with specific lengths of time between each keypress. That’s potentially dangerous levels of automation for some of the more dictatorial MMOs – using automation like this could theoretically get you banned in WoW – but for something like A Tale In The Desert (where automation macros are actually encouraged) it’s a killer feature.

The software will automatically detect installations of many popular games – on our test machine both World Of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons Online were detected – and will create profiles for each one. This allows you to switch the entire set of keybindings and macros contextually, depending on the game. You can create additional profiles, of course, for whatever purpose you like. Many of the popular games are additionally supported with direct keybindings to popular actions – the World Of Warcraft profile, for example, allows you to assign the action “send my pet into defensive mode” to a custom key. The keyboard will then interface directly and issue that command. No need for keybindings or macros – the keyboard software takes care of it all.

If that’s not enough to impress your friends, the keyboard also provides a bit of eye-candy in the form of the backlighting on each key. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but it’s not actually eye-bleedingly ostentatious – and if, like us, you tend to do your gaming in a gloomy room late at night it does actually help to easily identify the keys. Yes, you can pick the colour.

The keyboard provides a handful of USB ports, and also contains an entire in-built USB-audio card. That means you can attach a microphone headset directly to the keyboard. It’s a nice touch, especially when combined with the separate mute button to affect only the headset audio.

At the right-hand side of the keyboard is a standard set of media control and playback buttons, including one of my favourite little touches: the volume control. Rather than the usual “+” and “-” buttons, the volume is controlled by a scrollable wheel. It’s a much more natural way of controlling volume, and once you’ve tried it you won’t want to go back.

This is not a keyboard for a casual gamer, nor is it a keyboard for those who like instant results. In order to make the most of this board, you’re going to have to take the time to train yourself to use it properly. You’ll need to think about the optimum assignment of keybindings for each game, and you’ll probably still find yourself using the same keybindings for your core abilities as you always have. Where this keyboard really excels is its extraordinary amount of customisation. You can tailor the G110 to do almost anything you need it to do. There are other gaming keyboards, some of which have more bells and whistles, and some of which have even more keys. If you’re looking for a workhorse gaming keyboard, though, which will improve your game and give you an astonishingly flexible setup, the G110 is a solid contender. While it’s not the cheapest of keyboards, it won’t bruise your pocket as much as some of its competitors, and the potential benefit is well worth the investment.

Buy the Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard from Amazon.com ($64.99)

Buy the Logitech G110 Gaming Keyboard from Amazon.co.uk (£48.99)

Main Logitech site

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All Of T3h: Opinions on the “Call To Arms”

Oh, my word. Blizzard announces they’re going to bribe tanks to please, please, please queue solo in the LFD Tool (as a friend of mine commented the other day, the “D” is silent), and the blogosphere explodes in a way I’ve not seen since the last time Blizz really screwed up – erm, I mean, since the Real ID flap.

I’ve just spent the last 45 minutes reading all the reactions that have flooded out of the WoWosphere (not to mention the 364 and counting comments on WoW Insider). That’s a lot of writing about one patch note. So, if you’ve been hiding under a rock and missed all this (or quit WoW to play Rift, but want to come back and laugh at us), here’s our pick of the reaction posts:

  • Blessing Of Kings has an excellent post discussing the WoW approach to tanks vs the Age of Conan approach. Why do we have to have one overstressed tank and three bored DPS in a group? Why not have two of each? Really nice thinking outside the box, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work.
  • Psynister at his very own Notebook has an excellent and lengthy overview of things from a DPS perspective, and an analysis that I’ve not seen anywhere else – that actually, Blizzard should be rewarding the DPS, not the tanks. You may agree, you may not, but it’s a very interesting perspective.

    • Kadomi at Tank Like A Girl thinks it’s a Call To Fail. Don’t mince words, Kadomi, tell us what you really think! But she does, with a number of excellent points, including the minor issue that actually, these rewards aren’t enough to compensate for being forced to queue solo.
    • Thisius at Dots and Locks hits the nail on the head when he says that the real problem with LFD isn’t lack of rewards for tanks: it’s you and me. Or at least, it’s the DPS who pull for a tank, who rush them, abuse them, and so on. And Call to Arms won’t fix that.
    • The worst offenders in LFD are the pushy assholes who are just there for the rewards. By attempting to incentivise tanks with rewards, you’re just going to get more pushy assholes – so says Saniel of Primal Precision in just one of the many good points he makes about Call to Arms.
    We’ll be keeping on top of this story as it develops (said he in his best TV reporter voice), and I’ll be writing a bit about my own thoughts on the subject. So far, the most interesting point is that I’ve not seen a single post praising this idea.

What do you think? Solution from the heavens or Blizzard screwing the pooch?

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Is it better to be single?

I love to follow topic threads as they wander around the blogosphere. An off-hand comment on one of Gordon’s posts at We Fly Spitfires prompted him to write further on the topic, which in turn prompted Klepsacovic to weigh in at Troll Racials Are Overpowered (which, in turn, is prompted the post you’re currently reading).

Gordon asks if MMOs have affected the success of single-player games. It’s an interesting question. I don’t think Gordon’s speaking of the actual, quantifiable sales figures; he makes the point that MMOs take up so much of his available leisure time that he rarely has time to dip his toe into any other game’s waters. I think that’s a feeling that a lot of us would share.

Klepsacovic’s follow-up asks what it is we’re actually paying for when we renew the subscription for our MMO of choice. For him, a single-player game has a higher “fun per hour” ratio than an MMO. The ace up the MMO’s sleeve is the social factor; being able to interact with, cooperate with, or compete against your friends (or, more often, random strangers).

I can empathize with both of them. When I first started playing World Of Warcraft, I treated it effectively as a single-player game. I barely interacted with other players at all. I simply leveled my character on my own, in just the same way as I would have done if WoW was a single-player game and every other player was an AI bot. At that stage, I still had time for other games.

Once I joined a good guild and started end-game raiding, it all changed of course. I’m still a pretty casual player by most definitions, but I rarely find time to play other games. I haven’t even completed Fallout 3 yet, and if you knew just how much I loved loved LOVED Fallout 1 and 2 you’d understand what an extraordinary thing that is. In fact, come to think of it, I’ve played Fallout 1 and Fallout 2 right the way through several times. Of course, that was back in my BW days: Before Warcraft.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have my Dragonmaw dailies to do.

_You can find Gordon’s We Fly Spitfires homepage here

You can find Klepsacovic’s Troll Racials Are Overpowered homepage here_

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How Are MMOs Doing These Days?

Amidst lots of bloggers cheerily wishing the world-and-his-gaming-wife a happy New Year, some folks are pausing to reflect on the MMOsphere post 2010. Let’s start as we mean to go on with a heartfelt cry of Happy New Year and a quiet, considered look (in case the hangovers and fresh work days catch up with us) at the state of our beloved niche – with Psychochild as our guide.

His post is the one that grabbed me the most. It’s a great retrospective with lots of links to give it substance. Psychochild starts out by looking back at how other genres grew and waned over the past couple of decades and compares MMOs to them.  He acknowledges how and why MMOs work – and how that differs from genres that have been popular (adventure games and older RPGs anyone?) – and crucially, what MMOs could be learning from the older genres before it’s too late.

But, what about MMOs? I fear they’re doing the opposite of adventure games and trying too hard to appeal to the newcomers while ignoring the increasingly disenchanted hardcore. The old hands who want something a bit more deep to meet their more sophisticated tastes aren’t finding it. This is partially because the expectations for an MMO are so high that it’s hard to do anything even remotely risky, therefore most stick to the DIKU-defined path. The further problem is that social games are stymieing MMOs by taking the “real” newbies who might otherwise be interested in MMOs. We’re not seeing an influx of new people because they’re getting their “grind something somewhat rewarding” fix by playing Farmville for free, not wandering around Azeroth or some other WoW wannabe game.

Psychochild goes on to talk about the games MMO companies play with our wallets in a section on business. It’s clear and generalised enough that anyone can get to grips with it and brings up some lesser-talked of topics like how investors feel about MMOs. He rounds up with a look at the future and where MMOs and certain individual games could or should go from here, both in terms of content, platforms and how much they’ll dare to flog the cash cow.

I’m wondering if Psychochilds missed anything – what do you think about MMOs, past present or future, as we head into 2011? Oh yes, and Happy New Year guys – I hope it’s a great one for you and yours, and for those who’s had a bad start – hoping it gets better for you.

_Quote taken directly from Psychochild’s post

You can find Psychochild’s blog here_

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