Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Quick Redesign

Just a quick shoutout to Shyama for doing my blog header. It looks great, thank you so much!
Also, I've added a few new screenshots to the wallpapers section of the site, and I've got about 6 more ready to go up at another point, and updated my blog background with one of them, too.

Monday, 29 July 2013

What Do You Want To See More Of?

   Mists of Pandaria has been an extremely different expansion to most others. MoP seems to be taking particular notice of things like vanity items and exploration, much more so than other expansions. I don't believe there have been any new dungeons since the beginning, only new raids and scenarios. More focus has been put into patch zones and new factions and daily quest hubs, more so than the others. The closest the others came was the Molten Front. But how do you all feel about that?
   Given that I don't raid and have only just started to take up scenarios again (I'm still not confident enough in my abilities or people skills to return to dungeons yet), I think it's pretty obvious that I'm quite happy with its direction (so, dear haters, not everyone hates the direction Blizzard have gone with MoP).
   But what would you want to see more of in WoW? More focus in group activities? More depth for factions? Greater incentive to dungeon? To be honest, I think that some people expect too many rewards. They seem to forget that one big incentive to raid and dungeon is to experience this new content, and another big incentive to raid is to actually kill some of the biggest villains - for the most part Illidan, the Lich King, Deathwing, some Old Gods and so on. At least, that's the only reason I ever consider raiding. But, of course, being a totally incapable individual, I have to wait until I totally outlevel the dungeon to have a real chance at it, or catch a group doing a transmog run who won't be too concerned about mistakes (and whose presence would probably prevent cock-ups). But I'm okay with that. Better outlevel the dungeon by an expansion or two than be responsible for a wipe.

What about you?

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 12: The Badlands

68th Day of Spring

   Loch Modan appeared pleasant enough, but I didn't have much time to look around. Dwarven sentries were on our tail from more or less the moment we began to ride on that first morning, and they chased us through the night. They were on us quickly, there must have been sentries near the border, patrolling against the Orcs, and some short fool sounded the alarm - whether at myself, or at some Orcs that may have followed me afterall, I don't know, but they pursued me right through the region. No matter; both Styric and I are unharmed. To my knowledge, they were only firing warning shots, and given that I didn't stop to engage them once, I don't think they'd have truly tried to kill me so soon.
   They left us alone once we reached the southern border, which was fortunate, because I hadn't anticipated the enormous chasm which had opened up, I assume, during the Shattering. Styric was very hesitant to begin the descent, but I managed to ease her down with a few gentle words. It took us two hours to navigate the steep path, and I dismounted early on for the mare's sake. I admit that it was actually quite an exciting experience, walking through the earth which had been covered up for goodness knows how many millennia.
   When we reached the summit of the path, though, I was shocked. I've never seen any such land that looks like this before. The landscape is so dry and arid, dust is stirred with every footstep, and th eonly life at first glance appears to be tough desert grass, cougers, coyotes and scavenger birds. But the life here, at least, is sparse due to the natural location, as opposed to anything caused by any superior race. The more I think about it, the more I believe I have been mentall scarred by the Plague's effects on the land.
   I continued through the Badlands and found numerous Black Dragons. Theirs is a tragic story that I have real interest in, and one that probably could not have been avoided. Being the Aspect of the Earth, it is not surprising that Neltharion became corrupted by the Old Gods imprisoned beneath Azeroth.
   I'm staying in a Goblin town called Fuselight, which is...well, they're a very odd race and I haven't slept too well since getting here. There are often random explosions throughout the night, always followed by cheers and a strange high-pitched horn, and each morning there are Goblins using goodness knows what to blast goats off of the cliff. It's a real wonder that any of them survive.
   While I've been here, however, I have heard of a digsite nearby. I'm going to check it out soon - hopefully it will be more interesting than the digsite in the Wetlands.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Reign of Fire - Opening

   Having made a nice sale on Etsy the other day, I was able to afford a few packs on the new TCG expansion's release. I pre-ordered 12 packs and impatiently waited for them to arrive. In true Chaos Cards style, they were on my doorstep early the morning of the release date.
   I gave 6 to Koruth and we opened them together, and these were the best cards we got:

   Three hero cards - Monster Hero Zovaar the Fallen, Monster Hero Lady Vashj, and Alliance Hero Illidan Stormrage. These are all new artworks on the pre-existing cards, and have the same abilities as the previous versions. I actually quite prefer the older version of Vashj, but the newer version of Illidan wins by miles.

   Crafted cards - instead of sending in Justice, Crafting Materials, Sigil or Archaeology cards for the cards they make, you have a chance at pulling some of the actual crafted cards out of your packs. We got the Opal of the Secret Order and Threadlinked Chain, which were both created by Justice cards, and the Ancient Amber, which, I think, was made by either Sigils or Archaeology cards - I can't remember where I saw the card first.

   And these two I linked for funsies. Call of C'Thun, a rare quality card exclusive to the expansion, which I love because, well, Old God. And the loot card I was lucky enough to pull out, the Thunderhead Hippogryph. Certainly better than the Path of Cenarius!

   Has anyone else had anything exciting?

Use the code WYVERN at checkout on ChaosCards if you spend more than £10 of WoW products, and get a free WoW booster pack. Valid in the UK and EU only. These packs were purchased by myself.

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 11: Dun Algaz

63rd Day of Spring

   It took me almost a full day to pass through Dun Algaz, and when I say 'full day' I mean sunrise to sunrise; a full turn of the stars. I awoke suddenly yesterday morning to the sound of Orcs. They were near to my camp. At first I thought little of it until I noticed their unfamiliar accent. They didn't sound like any Orcs I'd ever met, as few as they may be.
   Then I remembered some stories I'd heard in the inn the night before: Dragonmaw Orcs roamed these mountains, capturing dragon whelps like they did in the Second War. Still  clinging to their past.
   The Dragonmaw Orcs are a part of the Horde now, but I'd heard whispers that they couldn't be completely trusted, so rather than stick around to find out how friendly they were, I packed up my camp as quickly as I could, leapt onto Styric's back and rode away as fast as she could carry us.
   Perhaps we were too fast, or too loud (stealth has never been my strong point), because before we'd travelled even fifteen feet there were Orcish shouts behind us.
   Crossbow bolts shot past me, and a few hit my back and shoulder. I had gathered this armour for protection against the Alliance, but at this point they seemed more hospitable than races of my own affiliation!
   They threw ropes and nets, likely used to catch dragon whelps, and began aiming at Styric when I refused to suffer injury. Just about everything missed - a full grown horse is likely somewhat faster than a dragon child - but at one point Styric's back legs did get tangled in a rope they'd thrown. I'll count the stars, I don't know how she did it, but this clever mare managed to get untangled in seconds and ran even faster afterwards.
   We're clear of Dun Algaz now, and in the vicinity of Loch Modan. I don't feel too much safer here - a Kal'dorei isn't a Dwarf, afterall. But regardless of the time of day, and location, we both need to rest.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 10: The Gryphon's Feather

62nd Day of Spring

   The Stonewrought Dam is a mess. Just about half of it has been broken away, and water still runs down from its wound. I had a good look at the lake beneath it, and fragments of rock that had surely been out of the water's reach atop the dam are covered in algae. It's been like this for some time now. There are even threshadons in the water, though there seems too little to properly accommodate them. The poor things are clearly stranded, either way.
   I've heard conflicting tales about the dam's destruction. Most stories say that Deathwing's wingbeat tore it apart as he flew over during the Shattering, but a few say that it was the Dark Iron Dwarves. Whatever the case, the Dwarves of the Dark Iron clan have now seized control of what's now little more than a wall. I'll see if I can get up there and have a careful look, at any rate. I don't believe that the Dark Iron Dwarves are a part of the Alliance, so at least I won't have to contend with reinforcements.

   I stayed in an inn last night, as I was passing by. I admit fully that it was a terribly risky move given the territory I'm in, but it's just been so wet and cold out here in the rain that I needed a dry bed, some warm food and certainly a bath. Plus, I was certain that Styric would appreciate fresh hay and a dry stable just as much.
   The woman tending to the small inn was a Kal'dorei - a Night Elf, an ancestor of my people - and though I did my best to change my eyes from a green to a sky-blue, I'm certain that she saw through my poor disguise. She was likely three hundred years old, and with myself at a meagre one hundred and eight, there was little chance of outsmarting her. But, if I'm not just mistaken, and she did see through it, she never made any great deal out of it. She gave me longer looks and watched my movements more closely than she did anyone else, and when she sat me down for my meal, she put me in a corner out of everyone's way. I don't know if it was so I wouldn't upset anyone, or so no one would upset me, but I was so grateful for the fact that she accommodated me despite our differences that I payed her double this morning. While I have encountered other races associated with the Alliance who have wished me no harm, such as the Argent Crusade, I hadn't put much thought to those within the Alliance. I had naturally assumed that they were all my enemies. I now hold these people in slightly higher regard; they're not all aching to kill us.
   Styric had even been groomed when I got back to her.
   Unfortunately, tonight I'm nowhere near an inn, and have camped in the mountains between the fortress passes. I wish I had more of that delicious honey-roasted ham.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Friday, 19 July 2013

Reign of Fire Update

 Edit: if anyone has had any trouble using the code WYVERN on Chaos Cards, it's been fixed. It should now properly apply the free WoW booster pack when buying £10 or more of WoW products. You can also pre-order the new Reign of Fire packs, too.

   I pulled this info from The Crimson Hammer (whose original post is here) regarding the new WoW TCG expansion. This info is particularly interesting to those of us with more money than sense who are more interested in loot cards than the TCG :P
   Basically, as Luxypie has said in the past, the loot cards in this expansion are just a repeat of past loot cards. However, while there is nothing new here, it does mean that we all get a renewed chance at any pet, mount or novelty item we've wanted. This extends as far back as Upper Deck's cards, and as recent as the Betrayal of the Guardian expansion.
   But what's most interesting, and may lead to a few heartattacks, are 'god packs' - seemingly ordinary looking booster packs which contain 'not one, not two, but fifteen Loot Cards – primarily rare Loot cards – instead of the standard cards you expect to open' - how about that?! There really is something for everyone in this next expansion.

   It's being released on Tuesday the 23rd - and remember, you can get a free WoW booster pack if you buy from Chaos Cards and use the code WYVERN at checkout.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

WIN! WoW TCG War of the Ancients Epic Collection

The competition is now closed, and the winner has been contacted. Thanks everyone who entered, and thanks to Chaos Cards for donating the prize! There will hopefully be a few more prizes of this grandeur at some point in the future, and definitely some loot card competitions - I've already got about 10 loot cards ready! I'm hoping to get a few awesome WoW competitions set up with handmade prizes - for both giveaways like this, and participational competitions, such as creative writing, screenshots, unique ideas and so on, so keep watching!

   I've got an amazing offer for you all! As some of you might know, I'm a big fan of the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. In part, yes, for the loot cards. I first started buying years ago to try to get loot cards, but it didn't last long since I didn't find anything in my first 4 packets. But I've also been buying the Collector's Editions of WoW since Wrath, and in both Wrath and Cata, the CE had a full TCG deck. I've lost my Wrath deck through unforseen circumstances, but I sill have my Cata deck. Something came up - I don't remember what - but it caused Koruth to go through my Worgen Warlock deck, and we decided that, since we had a full deck already, we could buy another deck and have a go at the game. Koruth ended up buying the Elderlimb (Ancient Druid) deck (which was stupidly overpowered as far as I'm concerned), and before long, we had 5 pre-made decks (Cata's Worgen Warlock, Elderlimb Monster Druid, Night Elf Rogue, Murkdeep Monster Shaman and Blood Elf Deathknight) and one self-built (Timewalker).
   We didn't really know where to get the booster packs since we live in a pretty quiet area along the urban-to-rural fringe, so all we really had was Amazon, and on Amazon we had no choice but to buy them in bulk, so we never did. Then Koruth found this awesome site - Chaos Cards - that sold the booster packs individually, in packs of 5 and 10, in full 24 pack boxes, and, something I'd never heard of: Epic Collections. They also sell loads of other card games, too, like Pokemon, Skylanders,Weiss Schwarz and so on, but our interest was limited.
   Chaos Cards are awesome, because they have a huge product range, including loads of booster packs from Upper Deck as well as Cryptozoic, and packs that are really hard to find. They also stock raid and dungeon decks (yes, they take several players), WoW card protectors and things like that. Their shipping is pretty good, too, which satisfies my impatience and miser's spirit, so I've become a regular customer with them. They have amazing offers, like getting free card protectors when you spend more than £10, or a free pokemon online code card when you spend over £15, or a free WoW booster pack when you spend over £35 (you can only choose one offer per order, though), so there's an awesome incentive to buy. But continue reading for an even better offer!

Twilight of the Dragons Epic Collection

   But back to my point: Epic Collections. I've bought two in the past - War of the Ancients, and Twilight of the Dragons - and they're amazing for new collectors, and veterans. Epic Collections are released with every expansion and always feature all of the following:
• A box, and a pretty good quality box. It's a good 3mm thick, fully illustrated and relevant to its expansion, and is designed for keeping your millions of cards in (or bits and bobs you've got lying around if you're not much of a collector).
• Card seperators assigning class, allies, equipment, resources and so on, for keeping your cards good and organised and fit firmly into the box.
• A plastic deck box which, like the bigger box, is fully illustrated, and has a Velcro closure. It's got a single seperator, also illustrated, to seperate two full 60-card decks which easily fit into the box.
• A card mat which is used to display your cards on while playing, and a very common sight in the championships. Personally I find some of them too bright and distracting to use while playing, but they're about 25 inches long and are perfect to use beneath your keyboard and mouse. They're non-slip on the bottom and have the feel of a soft mousemat on top.
• 5-6 random foil Hero cards, depending on the box. A Hero card is essentially your 'main character' - if it dies in the game, you lose. You have to do what you can to keep it alive while killing the opponant, by using allies, such as protector cards, healers and DPS to attack the opponant and defend your Hero, and you can kit it out in item and gear cards (just about all of which are also in-game items) to increase its defence, attack and things like that. There are also ability cards, like spells and the like specific to your Hero's class, and there are also neutral abilities that can be used by any class.
• 5-6 booster packs, depending on the box. If there are 5 Hero cards there are usually 6 booster packs and vice versa. The booster packs are those from the same expansion, are are true booster packs, meaning each one has the chance to yeild a loot card, an epic and so on.
• A common loot card, which is usually the pet. Pets are the most common loot cards in Cryptozoic's cards. The middle loot card in the Cryptozoic cards are usually novelty items that can change appearance or replace your hearthstone (I've been after the Dark Portal Hearthstone for SOOOO LONG), and the rarest loot card in expansions are mounts. The booster packs supplied in Epic Collections can yeild any (or if you're sickeningly lucky, all) of these loot cards.

War of the Ancients Epic Collection

   But now onto what you're all likely waiting for: Chaos Cards have supplied me with a War of the Ancients Epic Collection to give to one lucky winner! The War of the Ancients is my favourite expansion because the War of the Ancients is probably my favourite period in WoW history, and the expansion features a lot of demons, Night Elves and things like that. Also, I love the artwork, featuring Malfurion, Tyrande and Illidan (Demon Hunter form) in the centre, as well as Queen Azshara and Mannoroth off to one side. The loot cards are also pretty good - I tried so many times to find the Fel Drake, but never got lucky. I did get two 'fake' cards, as I rather sourly call them - two Fel Drake cards without the golden loot strip, and three Eye of the Legions - but I did find the true Demon Hunter's Aspect, which I was so excited about.
   This specific Epic Collection features 6 War of the Ancients booster packs, 5 Hero cards, and the guaranteed loot card is the Eye of the Legion pet, which can be used in Pet Battles and is of rare quality. It's also one of my favourites despite its simplicity. I always have it out on my Undead Warlock, Spinegrinder, and is an amazing Warlock companion pet - particularly an Orc warlock since it's model is that of the Eye of Kilrogg.

   And, as an added bonus, Chaos Cards has been awesome enough to supply my blog with a unique and permanent promotional code! It's currently displayed in my sidebar with a link to the website. Usually you have to spend £35 or more on their website to get a free WoW booster pack, but if you input the code 'WYVERN' at checkout, you can get a free WoW booster pack if your order totals just £10 or more (not including shipping). You must live within the UK or Europe for this to apply.

   All you have to do to win is fill out Rafflecopter below. For those of you unfamiliar with Rafflecopter, all you need to do is either sign in with Facebook, or sign up with your name and email address on the widget below - that's all it'll ask you for, no other details. Then you do the entries displayed below, all of which are optional. You can do as many or as few as you'd like. This method of entering is used very frequently where giveaways are concerned, and I've used it a good number of times on my personal blogs. The program uses to randomly select a winner. I can then view the winner's name and email address (as given through manual sign-up, or your facebook email) and contact them directly to notify them and gather the details I need.
   I have lots of giveaways planned for this blog in the future, including loot cards I've been saving up (some of which are particularly exciting) and lots of handmade goods from handmade sellers, and this will be the way they will be done, unless they require active participation such as in an art competition and the like.
   This giveaway is open worldwide and shipping is free, payed for out of my own pocket. The winner will be notified directly rather than publicly announced, but when the winner has been chosen, I will update the top of this post to say they've been contacted. If you've not received a message then you won't have won. To ensure that my message won't end up in your spam folder should you win, you can add my email address to your contacts.
   Please also note that entries will be checked. If the winning entry is a false entry (ie the individual claims to have tweeted, but there is no trace of said tweet) then their entries will be disqualified and a new winner chosen.

[Give the widget a moment to appear beneath this text. It may take up to 30 seconds.]
[Please note that you do NOT have to complete all 5 entries to enter. Each of the five options
that is completed is a single entry - do all 5 and you get 5 seperate entries, which boils down
to 5 chances to win]
[If the widget will not load, see below for other method of entry]

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If the Widget above won't load:
   If the widget above won't load, you can do the entries manually, and enter through comments. Be sure to comment for each individual entry (and be warned, it's quite clear if you've not done the entry you claim to have). Be sure to leave your email address on each comment so that I can contact you if you win. Your entries will be added to the Rafflecopter number of entries at the end and will include your entries.
1. Tweet the following: 'Win an awesome WoW TCG Epic Collection, with a guaranteed loot card! @TheWyvernsTail'
2. Follow me on twitter: @TheWyvernsTail
3. 'Like' The Wyvern's Tail on Facebook
4. Follow my blog through either RSS or Bloglovin'
5. Purchase from Chaos Cards and use the code 'Wyvern' at checkout if your purchase comes to £10 or more before shipping (UK & EU only)

The fine print: as said above, this giveaway is open worldwide, and the amazing prize was supplied directly by Chaos Cards. It is being shipped to the winner by myself out of my own pocket. I will not accept bribes or anything of the sort. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to the email notification. If they do not, then a new winner will be chosen and notified. All decisions are final. Should you wish to obtain an Epic Collection and live within the UK or Europe, you can purchase from Chaos Cards. Be sure to use the code 'WYVERN' at checkout if you spend more than £10 so they know I sent you!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 9: Whelgar's Excavation

60th Day of Spring

   I easily gained access to the digsite. I had expected to have to buy my way in to satisfy my curiosity of what had been dug up in there, but there was nothing in the way of defence at all - and I quickly found out why. I'm not sure what the Dwarves have done, but there were any number of earth elementals trundling about aimlessly, and - would you believe it - skeletal raptors. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, since there are many other undead animals walking around on Azeroth, but they usually have remnants of...tissue. These raptors were naught but bone!
   They didn't quite seem undead, though. They seemed as though something raised them from the dead - not a necromancer or anything like that, but something higher. Something more powerful than us, at any rate; a force beyond us. I can't quite explain it, but they didn't feel the same as any other undead creature that I've ever come across. I'm not even certain that they were bone. Some of them seemed...more like stone. Is that possible?
   After fighting off anything that attacked me, I did get a good look around the ruin. If there was ever anything of interest there, however, then the Dwarves have either already dug it up, or they haven't dug down deep enough yet.
   I eventually moved on south from the digsite yesterday, and as I ride, I can see the Stonewrought Dam growing in the distance. In about two days, I should reach the mountain fortress of Dun Algaz - little more than a mountain pass these days, as I hear it - and cross into the vicinity of Loch Modan. Despite being on horseback, the going is slow, what with the marshy terrain of the Wetlands, but hopefully this rain will either stop, or atleast keep at its current light drizzle and not slow us down any more than it has already.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Saturday, 13 July 2013

WoW Trading Card Game Promotional Code


   Just a heads up to anyone in Europe who plays the WoW TCG: if you buy from, be sure to enter the code 'WYVERN' at checkout. If your order comes to £10 or more, before shipping - which I'm sure you'll be aware is pretty easy to do - you'll get an extra WoW booster pack for free. This code is exclusive to The Wyvern's Tail, so it's pretty special, and if you use it, it lets them know where you found them!
   Chaos Cards stocks all of the new WoW booster packs, as well as class and Monster decks, raid and dungeon decks, WoW card protectors (including the awesome Succubus design), Epic Collections and card mats. They've also got a lot of really rather hard to find booster packs like Archives (which contain only foil versions of the best cards in the game, and also gives you a chance at the Spectral Tiger mount and Robotic Homing Chicken pet), the Scourgewar Epic Collection and The Hunt For Illidan.

   So remember: the next time you lovely Europeans are looking to buy some WoW booster packs - either because you're avid players or dedicated loot hunters - head over to Chaos Cards and use this code. And also remember that the newest TCG expansion, Reign of Fire, is really worth buying regardless of the type of buyer you are, because the loot cards are more common, and every single loot card that has ever existed in the WoW TCG is obtainable. So you're luck is likely to be greater this time around.

ALSO, check back here tomorrow for a special WoW TCG competition!

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 8: The Wetlands

58th Day of Spring

   I was able to buy a horse in the Western Plaguelands - a fair and healthy mare - and though lightening my coin pouch, it's cut my journey time down considerably at the same time.
   I had also acquired some armour from a smith in the Eastern Plaguelands in anticipation of my southern journey, and while it is uncomfortable and heavy, I know it's a good investment.
   I've been on the road south for just over two weeks now, and I've been in the hostile territory of Khaz Modan for three days. So far I've been left alone by the denizens - a sole traveller is little threat to anyone, armoured or not - but I don't expect it to last.
   The Thandol Span - a great dual-bridge which is the only access point between Lordaeron and the southern continent - is absolutely amazing. It is so vast, stretching across the equally amazing Thandol Valley, and was built to withstand the weight of a full army. The western bridge is in a poor state, however, having been damaged by the Scourge in the Third War as I understand it, but it is still quite something to behold.
   Though, one strange thing did occur at several points on that day's journey: I could swear I heard laughter - manic, insane laughter. Whether my imagination (which begs the question: just why I would conjur that up in a place that wasn't remotely unsettling?), a remnant of the past, or from beings lurking within the Span even at this point in time, I don't know, but I can say that I was very pleased to put that bridge behind me.
   As for the Wetlands, there is little to say. It is as the name suggests: a swampy marsh with perpetually puddled roads and little flora, save for scattered trees and tall, thick grass. But I admit that I am interested in this place. The Dwarves are great diggers, and I happen to know of a digsite nearby. It won't be easy, but I would like to see if I can gain access to the digsite.
   Otherwise, I will carry on south. I'd like to get a look at the great Stonewrought Dam. It's supposedly one of the architectural wonders of our world.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Thursday, 11 July 2013

World of Warcraft Watercolours - Voidcaller & Ethereal

   I've done a couple more watercolours. I've given my dad his watercolours back now, since I bought my own, but these were done with his lot still. I'm not sure if I should expect any better results in colour, but I'll cross my fingers. There are definitely individual colours I need to get, especially if I hope to take character commissions one day - colours like purples for Night Elven skins and bright green for fel glows.
   I'm also going to try to keep watercolours as a frequent feature on here, perhaps displaying other peoples' artworks if they get in touch about it, but I'm going to post my own perhaps once a week rather than every few days. They take me about 3 hours to do each, so I only manage to knowck one out a day, and I only do them on an evening since my day is filled with being a carer, running my business and of course playing WoW. I have loads of other priorities, such as finishing my book, exercising, writing my personal blog, building stock for my business and stuffing my face with sweets. I realise the latter is counter productive but I don't care. Sweets are awesome.
   Anyways! Here they are:

Voidcaller Watercolour

Watercolour Ethereal

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 7: The Eastern Plaguelands

42nd Day of Spring

   After a few more days and having grown tired of the cries of pain and war from across the hills, I found that my stomach had finally settled over the thought of heading back north. I didn't set out from my home to keep safe and comfy in other places; I set out to see the world. After just over a week of hard travel, I reached the edge of Tirisfal Glades. The area known now as the Western Plaguelands was not as foul as it had first appeared. There is green there, there are trees. There is death, too, but it is only the remnants of the past, and I have to remind myself of that. The land is healing. But I did pass through with some initial hesitation. There was a battle taking place there, over the city of Andorhal. I decided to stay clear of it, given the feeling of dread that I couldn't shake while staying there. I did visit the northern village of Hearthglen, and found it to be far more homely, even if it was overly Human.
   But Tirisfal Glades wasn't my ultimate goal when heading back north. It was to set foot back into Darrowmere Forest - the Eastern Plaguelands. It was where I ended up after exiting Thalassian Pass, and it shocked me and broke my heart more than I thought possible. My view of the place was tainted by expectations of beauty beyond the sadness of the Ghostlands. I wasn't ready for what I saw at that point, but I was ready for it this time.
   I crossed the Thondroril River and entered Darrowmere Forest. I was surprised to find - of all creatures - a gypsy Worgen with her caravan as soon as I stepped off of the bridge. She was pleasant enough - surprisingly so, in fact - and I ended up travelling with her and her two companions through most of that region. They were an odd group, but it was the two Paladins - a Sin'dorei and a Dwarf - who contributed the most strangeness. At first I found them childish, but I grew rather fond of them both over time - particularly Tarenar. The three of them truly brightened my trip, and I'm able to look back upon it with some degree of fondness.
   But only a slight amount.
   Despite the laughs and pleasant company, I still could not ignore the utter death of that land. There were more large bats - one larger than I ever thought possible - and more vicious and organised Scourge than I have seen since Arthas himself led them through Quel'Thalas. The whole place is riddled with sadness, and survivors of the Third War look upon what was once their home with such sadness that it breaks my heart. But there's little that can be done to bring back the dead. Or little that should be done.
   The city of Stratholme still burns, even today, even after fifteen years or so. You can see the smoke and reddened sky from most of the Argent look-out towers right across the region. There is nothing good in this place at all, except the green patches of grass that have sprouted up around the very same towers of the Argent Crusade. But that alone gives me hope that one day this sickness will pass, and that the land can be healed.
   I'm eager to leave and move south, and part of that eagerness does stem from the poor health of this place, but I won't be leaving it without hope. I'm certain that it will bloom again, and the stink of death and decay (how can these people stand it?) will be replaced with the scent of pines and flowers once more.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Monday, 8 July 2013

World of Warcraft Watercolours

Check back frequently for new watercolours! I'll get better in time, and maybe open commissions for watercolours of your characters if I can get good enough!

   I've always been creative, but I've never been necessarily good at anything I do. I'm sort of a Jack of all trades, master of none kind of person. I'll try a lot of different things but I won't be too good at it.
   I tried watercolours a long time ago, since my dad was pretty good at them, but I always preferred acrylics because of the bolder colours, but I got on surprisingly well with watercolours after only a little practice. I ended up leaving them alone because I prefer to work on canvasses than paper, but I recently returned to them for some experimentation.
   Last night, while absently watching Dispicable Me and Wreck-It Ralph, I tried a few watercolours.
   I've not had much practise lately, but I've done these two so far (I may yet add more work to them):

Unborn Val'kyr Watercolour

Val'kyr Watercolour

All images in this post are copyright to me and may not be reproduced. I am happy for you to post these images on your own blogs but you must provide a link back here.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 6: The Arathi Highlands


34th Day of Spring

   The Arathi Highlands are a little disappointing. The landscape is harsh, with thin scrubland. There are large boulders dotted around the place, and it's just not comfortable. By comparison to almost all of what I've seen so far, however, it's certainly better than nothing. At least the rain is clean.
   But what makes the place a little better, though it was historically another internment camp, is Hammerfall. Orcs. I've met Orcs before, and they were...not as well-mannered as my people, but actually better than I had originally expected. These Orcs are no exception. I was hugely relieved to see them, and I've slept far more comfortably in the inn here. There are one or two Forsaken, but they don't appear to be up to no good - and it's unfair to assume that they all would be.
   But the place still isn't quite right. There's something beneath the land - but not in the same way as Tirisfal Glades. But there is still something evil here. I have seen elementals at one or two points in the region, all lingering around stonework as if they were guarding it. There is also a large gem not too far south from Hammerfall, a large floating crystal that shifts from black to purple and back again at a whim. I asked around about it, but anyone I asked seemed a little unsure about it. There is one Orc, however - named Zaruk - who seems to know a lot more, but if he does, he isn't inclined to talk about it.
   I've also heard shouting and screaming in the distance, beyond a small mountain range. I asked the innkeeper about it, a very polite Tauren named Adegwa - certainly the first Tauren I've seen up close, and they are surprisingly huge beings - and he told me that beyond the hills there is a natural basin which is almost a constant battleground. Apparently the Horde and Alliance are constantly trying to claim its resources - a prosperous mine, farm, lumbermill and such - and it's more or less a blood bath up there at all times.
   The cries still send shivers up my spine, and I'm forced to remember the march of the Death Knight, Arthas Menethil, and the cries of my people as they tried to hold their defence against him. Once again, I feel the need to move on, but there is enemy land immediately south of the Arathi Highlands, and, while I've managed to find a few people to teach me a few tricks with weaponry, I'm not too confident to go charging down there just yet.
   I'll linger here for a time longer while I decide what to do.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 5: Hillsbrad

29th Day of Spring

   Green! It's Green! There's actually Green out here! The further south I travelled from Silverpine Forest, the greener the land grew! I ended up following the road into a place called Hillsbrad, just south of the Alterac Mountains. It was a beautiful place, and I would have stayed had the presence of the Forsaken not been so strong. I realise that these Undead are not the Scourge, and are, in fact, our allies, but for the life of me, I can't get comfortable around them. They may not be the monsters of the Scourge, but they're still very vicious for being fully in control of themselves. Everything they do, they do consciously, and with full knowledge of its consequences. I couldn't bear it anymore, so I followed the road on through, hoping to find something else further on.
   As I followed the road west, though, I did pass a very interesting place. Durnholde Keep. This was where the old Warchief, Thrall, was raised. As I understand it, he was born nearby but his parents were killed, and he was found by Humans. He was taken to Durnholde Keep, which was an internment camp at the time, and was raised there as a gladiator by its owner, a Human named Blackmoore. He befriended a young girl named Taretha, I think her name was, and she slipped him books and things and educated him in secret. In the end, he managed to break out from the place with her help, and freed all of the Orcs, but it cost her her life. After that, with the help of Orgrim Doomhammer, he created the new Horde, travelled to Kalimdor and set up a peaceful life for his race away from all the Humans.
   I went in there as I passed. The place is utterly deserted, but I think I caught a glimpse of an enormous elemental as I walked along the walls. I managed to avoid them, however, and got a look inside the ruined cabins. They're burned down and in a bad way, but it's clear that the orcs were imprisoned in a very small space. There are still ball-and-chains on the ground and old beds squashed near one another. The more I walked around the place, the more I wished I could have gone back in time and witnessed the break-out. I'm sure it was spectacular.
   I'm just about at the Arathi Highlands, now. It seems just as green as Hillsbrad, though perhaps a little flatter. Either way, I'm excited to explore the place.

-- Atherya Sunleaf              

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Reign of Fire WoW TCG Expansion Sneak Preview

   Developer Dan Clark has shed some light on the newest WoW TCG expansion, Reign of Fire, recently, giving us the first real glimpse of its new cards, including 2 new Master Heros. This trading card expansion focuses heavily on the invasion of Demons, known as the Burning Legion, and includes a new mechanic: Portals. It was initially touched on in War of the Ancients, but due to the desire to focus on a few of the races, portals were put somewhat on the backburner. There was a glimpse of it in the Betrayal of the Guardian expansion, but now it's out in force.

   To read more of the original article, follow this link to the Cryptozoic WoW page.

Cataclysm - The Positives

   Cataclysm is considered one of the worst expansions on WoW, mainly due to the fact that the end-game content was so poor. But what people seem to forget when they think back are the positives. This is, in part, because one or two of them aren't present anymore (such as Deathwing's destructive fly-overs), and because others are taken for granted. In this post, I will list my personally favourite aspects of Cataclysm.

Screenshot by Kiyoine

Deathwing's Flyovers
   I mentioned that just now. I remember saying to Koruth, the first time I was killed by his flame in Uldum, that Deathwing was the only villain to truly present himself to the world. The others hid in fortresses, ordering their minions about, but Deathwing took destruction into his own claws. As someone who doesn't raid for personal reasons, I never really got to see anything of any of the bosses apart from their lower subordinates, and I never encountered the villains themselves until the expansion was out-dated (although, having said that, the Halls of Reflection was pretty sweet when the Lich King chased you. That was so scary!). But there was Deathwing, flying around over any zone, just setting fire to everything.
   I will admit it was a bit of an inconvenience at one point: I was levelling my shaman through the new Stonetalon Mountains, and I had been in a mine for the last ten minutes. Just as I stepped out of the mine, POW, fire on my face. It's quite hot when you get your face in it. I died immediately, of course, and as my ghost ran back, the entire zone was ablaze. I had to wait just inside the mine for a further then minutes, waiting for the fire to subside. Though, despite the inconvenience, I did still think it was so awesome.

Screenshot by Neutronimity

Dungeon Difficulty
   I'm a bad and lazy player. That's not to say I refuse to work for rewards, because I will, but I don't like my expectations to be thrown around. Up until Cata, as a warlock, all I had to do was stand and cast, whether it was a level 40 dungeon or level 80 Heroic. I realise, of course, that that is exactly why they were changed, but it seriously put me off of dungeons. I used to do virtually nothing but dungeons in Wrath, but when Cata changed the way dungeons worked, I stopped running them - I only managed to get exalted with Ramkahen.
   Having said that, though, I admit that harder dungeons were more entertaining. I'd never raided before, so I didn't know where to go to find tactics - because you needed tactics for dungeons in Cata - and that caused us to wipe a few times due to my own mistakes. I learned quickly enough, though, and I was able to run most dungeons with no problem. It made things a lot more interesting for a lot of people. Unforunately, being a carer and unable to do anything I couldn't drop at a moment's notice, these new dungeons were a personal inconvenience, but otherwise, they were pretty sweet (though I can't say I'm pleased to have slightly easier dungeons back).

The Molten Front
   There were other patches, but in all honesty, I don't remember them. The Firelands patch is the only one I remember. The Molten Front, in particular. It differed greatly from the main body of Cata, given that dailies had finally returned. And there were a lot of them. I loved that the quest hubs increased as you progressed. You started out small, and it gradually expanded further into the Firelands. It was so cool. The zone had several unique features, such as navigating those floating rocks to get to the nest site, awesome little caves where you had to collect or activate runes on the ground and get away from elementals and stuff, and of course the awesome hot air vents that propelled you forwards. They were awesome - if you did them right. Koruth always did. I always lagged behind.
   Then, as a hunter, there were more goodies what with the taming challenges. I've told you before how awful a player I am, so Koruth got most, if not all, of those pets for me. I did try several times before failing miserably. They were very difficult but very rewarding at the end, since not every hunter would succeed. I did see a nice etiquette for the most part, one person trying at a time - even forming an orderly line at some points. It sucked when the person before you succeeded, of course, but then you just come back another day. There were one or two points where there was one particular douchebag who would come in and steal other people's tames. He'd bring his Druid buddy, who would steal aggro, then he'd take aggro and tame them. I saw this one person do this about three different times, and his excuse was that someone did it to him. There's no helping some people.

Levelling 1-60
   This is something which is often forgotten. I believe that it's safe to assume most of us made a new character during Cata, what with the release of the Goblins and Worgen, and the new race/class combinations. Personally, I made a Troll Hunter (yes, I know, hardly a new combo) because I wanted to see the new Troll starting zone. I did roll a Worgen (one of the few Alliance races I actually like) and a Goblin but it took some time for me to bother getting them to any high level. Only my Worgen Druid made it to 85, and she's still there now.
   But it was the levelling which always put me off of making new characters, so I never bothered. But then when they released Cata, levelling really changed. Lots of zones got face-lifts, lots of quests changed, and the whole feel of Azeroth changed. I personally preferred the Eastern Kingdoms - a continent I had originally despised - over Kalimdor after Cata, because it was more humourous and interesting. If you were looking for a more serious levelling experience with an air of war, then Kalmidor was more for you. It was nice to have the differing options, really. And while I made so many characters (few made it to max level, however), I have grown quite sick of levelleing through 1-60 again, it was still a much needed addition to the game. Of course, now you really burn out when you hit Outland, and you really have to push yourself through it.

   Oh so so good. I love it. I do. I've always had a passion for history, and I think that's where my interest in WoW's lore stems from, even though that is technically the history of a fictional world. I just love the study of civilisation after major events have occurred, and seeing the resolutions, aftermath and whether anyone has learned any lessons (in short: no). So when Archaeology was released, I was so excited. I didn't understand how it would work, though. It was said that digsites would be all over the world, and I had assumed that they meant actual digsites, and that they would be full of people all the time. I relaxed a little when they went on to say that other people wouldn't be able to take what you 'dug up' so I figured that the items would be phased or tagged or something. I was pleasantly surprised with how it actually worked, though I do admit to enjoying the digsites that spawn in actual digsites a little more. This was one of the things that MoP brought that I actually didn't like. I hated how the little grey items you dug up from archaeology were all worth the same, and could all be 'crated', eventhough those crates weren't used for anything truly exciting. It sort of ruined the value behind artifacts - from common things like coins worth very little, to things like pots and urns and stuff which were much rarer and more valuable, in both gold and history.

What was added in Cata that you liked? Was there something I put on the list that you absolutely hated?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

New World of Warcraft Character Models

Update: Blizz have confirmed that the new WoW Character Models will be released with the next expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Read more here.

   Most of you have probably already seen this blue post tweet, but I thought I'd talk about it for a moment.
   In the past, Blizzard stated that remaking character models was a risk, because a lot of people make their characters based on what they saw at the time of creation, and that if they suddenly changed the way character models look, then their old and loved characters may not be quite as loved any more.
   But so many people have complained about the massive difference between Vanilla races and the Worgen and Pandaren (aside from a lush coat of fur) that perhaps it's not such a bad idea. I expect Blizzard also felt that the difference was quite large, too, so it was about time for an update.
   Personally, I'm glad they're going ahead with it. Sure, I love how my characters look, but I can't say I wouldn't want an update. But, of course, we don't know just how much will change - however I'm relatively certain that a female Troll won't suddenly be given an extra pair of arms and become five foot taller. In truth, I don't think I'd have much to complain about.

   Their skeletons will certainly change, and that affects a lot, including movement, so with new models, movements like running and (more likely) expressions will be reworked to look more fluid. This also means that their bodies will probably change - that doesn't mean that some races will shrink and others will get fat. It just means that their skin might fit them differently, that some races might become slightly broader and so on. This is all speculation on my part, of course, knowing nothing about how game development works.

Some things I'd like to see changed (but won't cry about not being addressed):

Undead symmetry. I find the rotting on the models to be too convenient. Sure, I guess the knees and elbows would wear away with constant rubbing, given the nature of the areas, but I still think it's too symmetrical. I've never dug up a dead body, but I'm relatively sure that the rotting would be less predictable. What I'd like to see is simply less symmetrical rotting. Though, in an ideal world, there would be an extra customisation option featuring three or four different rotting options, just for that little bit more. Perhaps even some kind of customisation option giving suggestion to how the individual originally died - an obvious stab wound or something like that - though that might admittedly upset roleplayers a little.
Female Troll idle weight shifting. Female Trolls have a few problems. The males are hunched, and the females are not, so it would be nice to see a bit more similarity between the two sexes, and the female Trolls also don't blink at all. But my biggest upset is the female Troll idle animation. They shift their weight, which is very simple, and it means when taking a screen shot of your character you don't have to worry about her suddenly crouching down and looking around herself suspciously. But, they shift their weight very suddenly and very stiffly, as if they're stuck in a very narrow invisible box. Blood Elf females have a similar problem but at the other end of the spectrum, by shifting weight too dramatically. Although, they look bored at the time and I think that's the point. It would be nice to see more fluid idle animations from the females, which I'm sure would probably be addressed anyway.
Hands. Oh God, hands. They're bigger than their faces. I was looking at Atherya today when taking a screen shot, and her hands...I hadn't noticed it before, what with gloves and all, and for some reason I thought it would improve when I increased the graphics, but her hands are so bad! They're far from delicately female and Elven. The same goes, really, for all races pre-Cata. It would be nice to have finer fingers. And smaller hands. *smooshes hand against face* No, my hand is not larger than my face.

   What about the Blood Elves & Draenei? I'm not so certain they'd be included. Death Knights were added in Wrath, rather than a new race (but you did get a few new customising features), which means there's a bigger difference between the BC and Cata races than between Cata and MoP or Vanilla and BC. They do have better skeletons than the Vanilla races, and more interesting (but annoying) idle animations. [Note: I cannot comment personally on Draenei, having never levelled one past level 11].
Blood Elf female faces. I hated Blood Elf female faces. I always thought they looked extremely snooty and stuck up. Night Elves were always this way, but they haven't retained the look. I just feel like Belf females look like total bitches. It probably also doesn't help that (after forming this opinion) I knew someone who then made a Belf and was, in fact, a generally horrible (and insane) person. Sure, Atherya is a Blood Elf, and I chose the least bitchy face I could find without making her look ditsy. It would just be nice to have more of a variation. Most Belf female faces look the same.

Idle animations. Okay, admittedly this isn't something that really needs to be 'fixed' and neither does it have anything to do with skeletons. It's just personal preference, but I'll state it while I'm here: I cannot stand the male Blood Elf idle animation. At the risk of sounding really 90's, I can think of no other word to describe as other than 'naff'. I can't stand that "What did you say? Oh my god, seriously? You cretin." sort of stance they take. It's specifically the middle part of the expression that bothers me. The surprised look. I tried to screenshot it for this post but my computer actually froze on the most annoying part. I didn't even get the screenshot.

   There is another danger to updating models. I was reading a forum topic about models looking outdated. Understandably, as time goes by, graphics get better, and each new expansion adds onto that. But when Vanilla was released, the graphics were probably considered quite good, and the characters were just the same. Time has passed, and each new expansion brought out models with more detailed skeletons, to the point that the Pandaren are the greatest model in-game, and the Vanilla models are outdated. So they're going to fix them. But by doing that, the Burning Crusade models are out dated. And once they're updated, the Cataclysm models will be outdated - though perhaps not to the same degree as the others. I fully agree with the need for new character models - afterall, they're our characters, you literally see them the whole time you play the game - but then where will the expectations end?

   Not all of the things I've listed above will be seen to. The hands likely will, and fluid female troll idle animations, but little annoyances and the like won't be - it's personal preference, anyway! But, if you could change anything about WoW models, what would it be? (please don't say anything about female bodies or anything like that, that's not quite what I'm trying to get at here.)

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Diary of Atherya Sunleaf - Entry 4: Silverpine Forest

21st Day of Spring

   Silverpine Forest is a bitter place. There is little healthy life - every other squirrel I have come across is infected by something, and though I had no idea what it was initially, I soon found out, and I've killed them through mercy whenever I've found them since.
   I do not understand the Forsaken. I had always pitied them, and Sylvanas Windrunner especially, since she was once what I was, but since the Lich King fell, they have changed their focus from revenge on a single soul, to revenge on any living thing. I was beside the Dark Lady herself when I witnessed the powers of the Val'kyr she had in her allegience. Human remains lay before us, and after the Touch of the Val'kyr, they rose up and bent their knee to Sylvanas. It felt wrong.
   I had thought that, given their unnatural fate, they wouldn't wish it upon anyone else. I was wrong.
   Not only were they raising the dead, I discovered, but also devising cruel methods of killing. After a few days of travelling, I reached the Forsaken Front, and the battle that was commencing outside of the great Gates of Gilneas. They had great barrels of glowing green...something. I don't truly know what it was, but it certainly wasn't gunpowder, or explosives.
   I watched how carefully everyone - particularly the Orcish guards who were present and, I felt, keeping an eye on the Forsaken - moved near these barrels, and after seeing a curious squirrel get a little too inquisitive towards a spilt puddle from a leaky barrel, I realised just what they were doing.
   I cannot put it on paper, however. I'm still too disturbed to fully put it into words. I begin to wonder just how we can possibly be allied with these monsters.
   The more time that goes by, the more I want for home, though I am admittedly feeling a little better after having left Tirisfal Glades. There was something about the place that made me uncomfortable. It was more than just the Forsaken, and the ever lingering memory of Human civilisation which came from the towering ruins of the old capital city. It was something deeper. Something darker. I can't explain it better than that, but I am in no hurry to go back any time soon.
   The only way, now, is south. I will follow this road from the Forsaken Front and see where I end up. But the further I get from Tirisfal Glades, the better I feel. Anywhere is better than that place.

   I knew I was right not to hope for this place.

-- Atherya Sunleaf