Warlock Training Part 2 – Pets

January 31, 2008 at 1:40 pm (1)

Props to Vick for giving me direction where to go next in this series — discussing what makes the warlock class unique in the game: the sheer variety and multiple roles of pets (demons) that they have at their command.

Now hunters, of course, are granted pets, but theirs is a different relationship. All hunter pets fill the role of tank/some dps with little difference. Some are better tanks, some are better DPS, some have trainable skills that help with these two functions, but that’s where it ends. A hunter pet is a hunter pet is a hunter pet. Not to mention the fact that a hunter can only tote around one pet at a time.

Warlocks, on the other hand, have an incredible selection of multiple utility pets. None that are all-around perfect, mind you, but each with a specialty and situational usefulness that comes into play constantly. By level 70, your standard warlock has four main attack pets at his or her command. A demo lock has five. Add two more pets if you’re counting the regular and epic summoned mount, and two more on top of that if you count the Infernal and Doomguard. That totals up to NINE demonic critters (well… how about ten with the Eye of Kellogg’s or whatever) that a lock can cycle through in their journeys.

By the way, here’s a quick tip — if, as a lock, you get overly dependent on just one demon and never use any of the others, not only are you playing your class in a gimped fashion, but you’ll be denying your teammates your greatest asset: flexibility. You might as well go roll a hunter in this case.

Here we go as we look through the ten warlock pets, and how and when to deploy them:

IMP

Feisty and never without a screeching complaint, your pint-sized pal comes into your spellbook as early as level 2-4. He’s incredibly weak, health-wise, but perfect to get you to 10 (or 20) when you’ll probably switch to your Succy or VW as your main soloing companion. Even so, the imp remains a valuable tool in any lock’s arsenal for one reason: it’s always useful in groups. Awesome in groups, actually.

Imps are great at support, offering nice ranged damage (firebolts) which keeps them out of harm’s way in boss battles that would otherwise kill your pets, a “phase shift” spell that keeps them from being hurt unless you trigger them to attack, a stamina-boosting buff that goes out to your entire party, and a “fire shield” buff that it throws on party members being attacked to offer them a bit more damage to their enemies.

You’ll use imps early on, then mostly later in the game if you’re either raiding or in a group that has great need for the stamina buff. Imps have a few other advantages — they don’t require a soul shard to summon, they have an enormous mana pool (great for affliction locks and their dark pact talent), and if you spec them right, they can be a little firebolt-tossing machine gun that presents opportunities for great burst damage.

VOIDWALKER

AKA “Big Blue”, the VW is your own personal meat shield, capable of absorbing blows and keeping the enemy attention on them (with two taunts). To say their damage is sub-par, however, is an understatement. If you’re soloing with a VW, you better bring the damage yourself. VW’s also offer a nice self-heal (consume shadows) and an emergency bubble option for yourself (sacrifice). Sacrifice is nifty, but you’re basically bubbling to the cost of a soul shard and a resummon.

Ultimately, VWs are a crutch pet that lets locks get to their 20s and 30s without dying too much. Past 30, no lock should really be using one, except in the rare instance run when an offtank is needed (and even then, a VW needs a constant health funnel from you to stay alive).

SUCCUBUS

Succys, as we call them, are the sassy, whip-oriented demons that become the warlock’s mainstay helper for much of his or her middle-to-late career. While fairly fragile (although nothing as bad as the imp), Succys are nasty DPS-dealers. You’ll love her lash of pain, you’re wonder why the heck she needs invisibility, and you’ll swoon over her seduce technique.

Seduce is the reason why Succys get pulled out in groups, as it offers the warlock an opportunity to CC a humanoid mob. However, I’m not a big fan of seduce — it tends to break (which takes micro-managing to reaquire), you have to trigger it manually for it to really be effective (which takes time away from attacking other critters), and when it does break, the mob guns for your pet with a personal vendetta. Seduce, however, is highly popular in PvP, and is one of the reasons (coupled with our three fears) that people get frustrated with the lock class and claim the OP status.

FELHUNTER

AKA “the doggy”. If you’re a lock soloing with one of these, I have a kind of weird respect for you. You’re hardcore. You don’t need the training wheels of the VW any longer, and are looking for a different playstyle than the succy can offer.

Although it offers the second-highest health pool of the base four demons and a nice melee debuff to whoever attacks it, the felhunter is basically an anti-caster pet. It really shines when you find yourself battling wave after wave of casters/healers who do annoying things like heal themselves or load up on more buffs than you’re find at a Jimmy Buffet buffet. Spell lock is an awesome spell silence skill that shuts casters up in a hurry (although you should put this on manual trigger), and devour magic not only strips an enemy of its buff, but heals the doggy at the same time. Nice!

Devour magic is also a useful tool if you or your allies have harmful magical debuffs on them — just let the doggy chew them off!

Overall, the felhunter is a much more situational pet than most, but when you need it, it shines.

INFERNO

Arguably, the inferno (a giant burning rock elemental thing) was the poster boy pet of the warlock class, at least according to WoW’s opening cinematic. However, Blizzard got it into their heads to make this and the doomguard pains in our collective butts to use in any sane situation, and ergo it goes largely unused by the lock community. Once you complete a quest chain to tame one, the inferno is summoned with the help of an inferno stone (not a soul shard), something you can only do outside and every 30 minutes. The upside? The quick 2-second cast time and summoning damage that it causes is pretty nice if you have a pet go down and you need another in a pinch. The downside? It comes with a limited warranty: a five minute enslave timer that, when up, requires you to repeatedly enslave it (which costs soul shards and tends to break unpredictably).

The inferno is a fun pet to use as a novelty, or to unleash upon a friendly/hostile city when it breaks. It does decent damage and looks properly intimidating, and is worth getting just for the occasional joy of using it. Otherwise, Blizzard needs to up and admit that they’ve failed when it comes to these pets and their enslave mechanic, and need to make some serious adjustments.

DOOMGUARD

This is the only lock pet that I’ve never gotten, and probably one most locks have never seen. This is due to the difficulty in aquiring it: you either have to hope that Curse of Doom kills a creature and summons the DG, or you have to partake in a party ritual wherein one of your party members (possibly you) dies instantly.

Like the inferno, it too requires a summoning reagent and comes with a five-minute enslave timer. For its trouble, the DG has great tanking and damage potential, but that comes at a cost: when enslave breaks, that damage potential will be focused on you.

FELGUARD

With the Burning Crusade’s new 41-point talents came the Felguard in the demo tree. I’ve always been a huge fan of the demo tree, and never more than the day when I got my new favorite pet. The felguard, like the VW, is a tank, but much more of a DPS tank than a prot tank. It gets into the battle quick with its intercept charge/stun, has a decent attack coupled with a multiple-target damaging cleave, avoids AOE damage, taunts you enemies off you, and can whip itself into a DPS-happy frenzy quite easily.

Until post-68 dungeons, the felguard can happily offtank for your party, as long as you feed it a health funnel now and then. Once you get into high level dungeons where the demon pets don’t scale with lock gear (which is a bug that needs to be fixed), the felguard loses its ability to be a good tank, but can still bring the damage quite well. Its power in PvP situations (especially with intercept) caused it to be nerfed twice early on, but it still does an impressive job thwacking away at clothies and nasty rogues who think they can up and stun you.

Felguard-using locks get a bit of a bad reputation for some reason, but I absolutely love mine and solo with him exclusively. You do want to be aware that he’s a bit more fragile than the VW, and his multiple abilities chew through his mana pool incredibly fast — you’ll need to be life tapping (coupled with the mana feed talent) to keep him fueled up.

OTHER PETS

Locks are blessed with a free level 40 summonable mount (Felsteed) and can quest for an absolutely wicked-looking level 60 epic mount (Dreadsteed). Getting my Dreadsteed after a particularly bothersome quest chain was one of the highlights of the game for me. Unfortunately, warlocks do not have any options for unique flying mounts, although skeletal griffyns would be quite tasty.

The Eye of Kilrogg is worth mentioning as an extremely situational demonic summon. It conjures up a floating eye with no aggro radius, and allows the warlock to control it, seeing through its eyes as it scouts ahead. Great for seeing what’s around the corner or to freak out low level players.

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TWW Bank Update! New Rules!

January 29, 2008 at 11:39 pm (1, General)

Well, we recently had enough gold to purchase a 4th bank tab.  Huzzah!

I would like to thank everyone who donated to this cause.  Getting a 4th tab in our guild bank shows our growth and overall desire to make the guild better.  So thank you all!

With the purchase of this tab, we have decided to change things up in terms of what tab does what now.  This also changes permissions for different rankings in the guild.  I will go over each ranking and what they can take out in this blog.

So first, the different tabs.

Tab 1.  Super Important!

This tab has not changed.  This tab still involves  blue items, rare crafting recipes, uncut gem stacks, ZG coins, and anything we officers deem super important.

Tab 2.  Recipes Armor (and more, but there’s a limit on how long your title can be, unlike this bold text here.)

Tab 2 is pretty simple.  Green armor, potions, cut gems, librams, and profession recipes.

Tab 3.  Professions Tab

Herbs, leather scraps, venom sacs, ore, shadowgems, etc.  Anything to do with helping your profession go up is located here.

Tab 4.  Random

This tab is also fairly straightforward.  Food, bandages, low level potions, low level bags, quest items, etc.  Put that type of stuff here.

So so far, pretty spot-on.  Now we go over the rankings.

GM’s and Co-GM’s.  

Full access.  Obviously.

Officer

Tab 1    5 Items
Tab 2    7 Items
Tab 3    8 Items
Tab 4    10 Items

Sergeant

Tab 1    1 Item
Tab 2    2 Items
Tab 3    3 Items
Tab 4   4 Items

Corporal

Tab 1    None
Tab 2    1 Item
Tab 3    2 Items
Tab 4    3 Items

Private

Tab 1    None
Tab 2    None
Tab 3    2 Items
Tab 4    2 Items

Newbie

Tab 1    None
Tab 2    None
Tab 3    1 Item
Tab 4    1 Item

Alts   

Tab 1    None
Tab 2    None
Tab 3    2 Items
Tab 4    2 Items

Probation

No access at all.  

So there you have it.  If you see something you need in a tab, but can’t access it, ask an officer.

Also, and I want to make sure everyone understands this next rule:

The bank is not to be used for your own profit, aside from helping your profession.  If you take out items and sell them for profit, and we catch you doing so, we will warn you and drop you in ranking.  If you are caught repeatedly you will be kicked from the guild.

Thanks again, and enjoy the new tab and bank setup!

Boazar

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Warlock Training, Part 1 – Abilities, Roles and Limits

January 29, 2008 at 3:15 pm (1)

One of the services your humble officers wish to present to you, other than well-timed sarcastic jabs at misspelled chat text, is our experience in playing particular classes.  Whether you’re starting a class for the first time as a main or alt, or whether you’ve (like me) played a class in the past but had the sneaking suspicion that you’re not quite playing it to its full potential, it’s never a bad idea to do your homework and learn from others (like I have) who’ve played these classes into the ground.

I’ve always loved the warlock class in WoW — one of the two pet classes, warlocks seem to buck the standard trend of the game.  Having lots of health good?  Locks sacrifice their health repeatedly to gain mana, hurt others and heal our pets.  Cloth-wearing classes fragile?  Locks can, and have, stamina and staying power that rival tanks at times.   Crits and big flashy numbers the be-all, end-all of the DPS game?  Locks cherish the even bigger numbers of the gradual flesh-eating DOT spells.  Heck, unlike hunters, our pets don’t even like us — we bend them to our will and make them our cannon fodder.

As a more-or-less pure DPS class — meaning that we’ll never be called upon to tank (except for the very rare VW/Felguard offtank situation) or heal — a warlock’s job is to learn how to do the most damage that he or she can possibly do, and also to be as asset to the team.  In this article, I want to outline what we can do (abilities), what we should do (roles), and what we can’t do (limits), for anyone considering rolling a lock.

ABILITIES

  • We’re the only class that carries with them, at all times, a full assortment of pets that can be called out in any order to deal with a variety of situations.
  • Given a fight that lasts over 30 seconds, a well-geared and well-skilled lock can (and should) out-dps most any other class in combat.
  • All of our talent trees are raid- and solo-viable, and all are geared toward DPS.
  • Free mount at level 40 that takes up no bag space.  Quest-gained epic mount at 60.
  • Lifetap + bandages/drain life = never having to sit down and drink/eat.
  • DOTs last even after you die, which is always fun when PvP opponents whine about dying after killing you.

ROLES

  • In all raids and most 5-man groups, locks should pull out their buff-friendly imp to help boost the whole team’s defense and damage.
  • Healthstones and soul wells are invaluable to teammates in providing them with a “free” health potion that’s on a separate timer than normal potions.
  • In-a-pinch crowd control vs. humanoids (succubus’ seduce), elementals (banish) and demons (banish).  Also fun?  Fear.  Also stupid most of the time in dungeon settings?  Fear.
  • Soulstones protect the healer and give the group a chance for less painful wipe recovery.
  • Soul shatter and a demonologist’s talents can lower our threat while letting us DPS without worry of stealing aggro.

LIMITS

  • We’re not that great at burst damage (unless destruction specced), and mages routinely beat us at AOE damage.
  • Even with high stamina and soul link, etc, our cloth armor means that if we draw undue attention to ourselves (instead of party or pet), we’re dead in a few blows.
  • Non-demo specs have more aggro issues and a smaller pet selection.
  • DPS classes/specs are a dime a dozen, and we have to prove why we’re more valuable in a group that a ret pally or a huntard.
  • People really love to hate the warlock class (a year later and we’re still “OP”, apparently) — prepare to have nobody like you for the class you play.
  • Pet skills, namely seduce and spell lock, require a lot of micro-management to effectively use in a group setting.
  • DOTs aren’t “flashy” like other attacks or spells.

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Starting Over

January 21, 2008 at 4:09 pm (1)

A recent blog post (sorry, I forgot the name of it and the link) posed this question: if you could reverse time and start playing WoW for the first time again — but knowing all you do now — what would you do differently?

Now that blog poster started playing a year ago at the release of TBC, which is when WoW basically received a huge overhaul in terms of design and direction (mostly for the better).  For me, this question would take me back to 2004, and would be a trickier answer.

So we’ll assume this has happened.  It’s 2004, I’ve gone back (nooooo!) and WoW is really the only good MMO that will be on the market for at least the next three or so years.  I decide to join, once more, at the very beginning… but I have the advantage of my 2008 brain.  What would I do?

For starters, you have to realize how different WoW was back then.  The classes had yet to receive their individual class reviews, which meant that they were largely imbalanced and had a lot more crap skills and talents than they do today.  Nobody played warlocks — they were easy kills.  Druids were equally reviled.  Shamans were the “OP” class of choice, and cocky rogues were everywhere.  The end game in November 2004 was, I believe, MC.   Battlegrounds were just a twinkle in the developers’ eyes.  Many of the features that we take for granted — multiple hotbars, meeting stones, multiple icons on the mini-map, combat damage scroll — weren’t in the game and hadn’t been fashioned by mod makers yet.

My list of a truly hypothetical “do over”, knowing what I know now, would be as follows:

1. I’d roll Horde.  I’ve played Alliance most of my WoW career, and pretty much run that leveling content into the ground.  I’ve done Horde too, but not quite as much.

2. I’d search for a good mature guild to join out of the gate.  Good guilds are what keeps me playing WoW.

3. I’d plan out and roll four different classes, one for each Horde race: Tauren Druid, Troll Hunter, Undead Priest, Orc Warrior.  I’ve never played a warrior, and never gotten a priest to level 30 (or a shammy to 50).

4. I’d concentrate on mining/skinning as my two main professions to build up cash.  Only in 2004, and on newly released servers, was the fact that the AH wasn’t populated with high level characters’ farmed items.  Bag space would be at an incredible premium.

5. I’d take my time.  I’d know that TBC was two years plus away, and I wouldn’t be in any rush to hit the level cap.  End game for me wouldn’t be raiding (again, I’d know that TBC would wipe out any hard-earned gear), so I’d probably just work on getting my Tier 0 set and have fun finishing up quest lines and whatnot.

6. I’d engage a lot more with guildies, instead of selfishly focusing on my own leveling process.  There’s a reason why group Deadmines is still fun even if you’re a 70.

7. Knowing that the honor system would be revamped, I wouldn’t bust my hump in BGs, except to have a bit of fun earning rep rewards (like AV).

8. I’d probably play a lot more casually, devoting more time to non-online games.

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A Tale of Two Pets

January 15, 2008 at 1:08 pm (1)

All hunters will tell you that one of the main appeals of the class is the pet-owner bond. Sure, this is a virtual world and my pet is just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s, but it’s uncanny how many hunters grow attached and refuse to part with a particular pet to tame a new one — even if the new one offers better skills or abilities.

My first pet on Ghostfire was a level 10 ravager named Scrunchie. Despite looking like a cockroach going through puberty, I loved Scrunchie. She was an animated blender at my command, and she stuck it out with me from level 10 to level 70. Sure, there are prettier ravager models in Outland, but Scrunchie is special to me; we have a bond. It’s unthinkable that I’d ever replace her, or that she wouldn’t continue the journey with me to 80 when the expansion pack hits.

That said, I never felt the need to tame a second pet in the game until I heard about the guys who figured out how to tame the summonable ghost wolves following patch 2.3. I’ve had a soft spot for wolves, but because Blizzard so clearly favors cats in this game, the wolf models sport only a limited selection of looks. The second I saw a screenshot of the ghost wolf, I knew I had to get one. I mapped out my strategy, I scrounged for a helmet, gold for a metagem, and coerced some buddies into helping. When we successfully tamed Oz — on our first try, no less — well, that instantly went into my top 5 moments of playing WoW, ever. Oz might not be the best pet, stat-wise, but I formed a second bond with this critter, enough to make me stick it out having to level him from 30 to (currently) 66.

As any hunter will tell you, the owner-pet bond is one of the things that keeps them playing their class.

It came as a sucker punch to the gut when I logged out last night and read that Blizzard was no longer allowing players to tame ghost wolves (the grimtotem spirit guides). Drysc posted this as their reasoning: “The unintended nature of the taming, the undead status of the guide, appearance of the wolf in relation to the feel of the hunter class, and the complex processes of taming were all issues touched upon and discussed. ”

At first I thought this meant that I’d be losing Oz, but I guess they’re allowing current ghost wolves to stay in the game (big sigh of relief). However, this is a completely bone-headed move on Blizzard’s behalf. Yes, I know it’s just a pet type that’s no longer tamable, and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t seem to matter — yet it does. Follow me now:

1. Blizzard lied. When ghost wolf taming was initially discovered, worried players asked Blizzard if this was something that would be changed, or if it was safe to start saving up for the mats to tame this guy. A Blue went on record to say: “While this feature of the Grimtotem Spirit Guide wasn’t exactly intended, it was agreed by the development team that this is a fun use of in-game mechanics, and we therefore have no plans to address this issue – it will still be possible in future for everyone who wishes to tame this NPC to do so. :)” Now, we can’t. Blizzard lied.

2. Blizzard stealth-hotfixed it. This is where the real protest stems from. Without announcing to the hunter population that the ghost wolf would become unavailable, Blizzard went ahead and quietly hotfixed it. Only when players who tried to tame the ghost wolf recently and failed discovered this as an issue and posted a question about it on the forums did Blizzard come out and admit the change. It’s one thing to lie, it’s another thing to stab your players in the back this way.

3. Taming a ghost wolf took considerable preparations: time, money and effort. When this hotfix was discovered, many hunters had already blown over a hundred gold or so on the metagem and were in various stages of preparation for the taming. Now, they’re left in the lurch.

4. The reasons that Blizzard cited are invalid. In particular, the reason that ghost wolves are “undead” and don’t fit in with the hunter class. This is silly — hunters can tame three pets that are definitely undead (like the plagued boar) and another pet with a transparent look (the ghost saber).

5. Ghost wolves have no special abilities over any other pet, other than a unique look. There’s absolutely no threat to balance in leaving them in the game.

6. This is in keeping with Blizzard’s policy of “If it’s a fun feature but we didn’t deliberately create it, it must go.” We’ve seen this time and again: a player discovers an inventive use of a spell or an item or a game feature, and has a lot of fun with it — then Blizzard comes away and yanks the fun toy away because they didn’t mean to do it on purpose. Sure, sometimes that toy causes imbalance, but when it doesn’t, it makes no sense that Blizzard should get prickly about it. Your game just got MORE FUN for its players. You have unintentionally SATISFIED a paying customer. What business model sees this as a bad thing? Instead of hotfixing it, Blizzard should be wholeheartedly embracing this quirk and turn it into a supported feature: rare-looking pets that take significant effort to tame, sort of like an epic hunter pet quest.

7. This sours hunters on other pets. Blizzard cites time and again the wide field of beasts already available to hunters for taming, however, in reality this boils down to a mere handful of choices. You want a tank pet? Get a boar. A dps pet? Get a cat, ravager or raptor. You want to annoy the crap out of your fellow dungeon runners? Get a bird. Other pets are statistically inferior or lack key trainable skills, such as dash, to make them appealing for hunters to tame. To paraphrase a poster on the hunter forums, what does it matter to Blizzard, that a player can tame a beast with skin model A, but can’t tame an identical creature who sports skin model B? Why does it matter to Blizzard so much that they actively limit the more unique and cool-looking beasts that we can tame? Darn it, I want to tame a giraffe!

8. Current ghost wolf owners are understandably worried. Suddenly, their pet of choice has been deemed “Bad” by Blizzard. Sure, we’re allowed to keep the pet, but the reversal of their support of ghost wolf taming, coupled with the stealth hotfix, has left us with little assurance that our ghost wolves are safe in the future. Blizzard has in the past, many times, yanked tamed pets away from their owners because they retroactively decide that a certain beast shouldn’t be tamable. It’s entirely possible that I might log in one day to see Oz’s looks changed to a normal wolf, or to be unable to feed Oz (and have him flee once his loyalty bottoms out).

I’m sure Blizzard doesn’t think much about this issue, but if, like me, this annoys you and points to a larger problem with the Blizzard mindset, then post your support on the hunter forums today.

EDITED TO ADD:

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A couple ideas for fun/different events

January 11, 2008 at 4:25 pm (1, Events)

So we have a couple ideas floating around for events.  Thought I’d get a general consensus on them from the guild.

 1.  Scavenger hunt.  Certain items would have a higher point value.  Your goal would be to get as many items as you can within 90 minutes.  Winner would receive 50g, 2nd place 25, 3rd place 10.

2.  Scarlet Monastery speed runs, specifically the Cathedral portion of the instance with all bosses downed.  Groups of 5 would be allowed, but there would be a level cap at 190, so the group cannot exceed a level total of 200.  Winning group would get 100g to split up between the party.  2nd place would get 75, 3rd place 50. 

3.  Deadmines Speed Run.  Same as above, but prizes and level cap would be different.  Level cap would be set at 110, up to groups of 5.  Winning group would get 75g, 2nd place 50, 3rd place 25. 

4.  High Level 3-man groups – Speed Run through Undead Stratholme.  All bosses would need to be downed.  First group back to the doors after killing the Baron receives 100g.  2nd place 50g, 3rd place 25. 

5.  IF to Booty Bay run.  similar to what we had previously with the IF to SW run, but longer run this time.  Winner would receive 75g, 2nd place 50, 3rd 25. 

6.  Undead City Raid.  Simple enough.  no gold given, just some old fashioned city stomping. 

7.  IF to Undead City Run.  Similar to the IF to SW run, except this time your goal is to plant your corpse on the mailbox inside the Undead City.  Winner would receive 75g, 2nd place 50, 3rd place 25. 

 So do any of these sound fun?  All of them?  Some of them? 

Feedback as always is greatly appreciated!

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TWW Girls will rock you!

January 5, 2008 at 6:56 pm (1)

TWW Girl’s Night

TWW female players celebrated the New Year in style stalking the Fel Reaver.fel-rev.giffel-2.gif
Thoughts of revenge and camaraderie spurred seven female players to laugh,
fight and enjoy this time together. TWW has plenty of female players, and no
we do not count males playing male characters, that are interested in an
occasional “Girl’s Night”. Events could end with a celebration at the
Stormwind Pig and Whistle Pub, dancing is optional. We would like to
schedule a TWW Girl’s Night at least monthly, or twice a month if we have
enough interested players. Girl’s Night Events could be silly, like a level
1 Hogger Raid, or serious raids and instances. Of course it is Time Well
Wasted! If you are a female player and interested in participating in a
future “TWW Girl’s Night”, pst Tami or Ainhilde with your thoughts and ideas!

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