Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Council of the Three Hammers

     The sounds of knocking on me door brought me instantly awake this early morning, reaching, reflexively for me weapon. Remembering where I was, safe in the deep stone embrace of me hut in me beloved Khaz Modan, I took a breath, sat up, and wiped a hand over my brow. The dreams still haunt me from me from time to time...I suppose they always will, as do me dreams from the Third War, and me dreams from the  'peace' inbetween all the wars. This one against Arthas was different. The dreams aren't fading as fast this go about. They don't tend to when ye are forced to kill your friends over and over, and have to hear their screams in your sleep.

     The knocking again, insistently on my door.
    "Commander Thogrum!"
     Knocking again, louder.
     As I was not well rested, I growled a response, threw me cloak on, and headed for the door.
 A young captain was outside, with another soldier in dark colored,  vaguely familiar armor. Another soldier stood outside, in the snow, holding the rams. The dwarven captain saluted respectfully. The dwarf in the dark armor stared straight into my eyes, unflinching and unsmiling.
     "Commmander Thogrum, the Council of the Three Hammers respectfully request your presence in the Hall of the Kings as soon as possible."
He offered a sealed envelope with the seal of Ironforge on it in.
     I stared at the young dwarf. Council of the Three Hammers? What in six blue hells was going on?  What was the Council of the Three Hammers? This was clearly an official delegation, and this was official correspondence, but what was this all about? And who was this in the dark armor who was staring at me so inpertiantly?
     "Laddie, What's this all about?"
     "It's all in the letter, Sir. We must get moving. We have many other letters to deliver to all the senior leadership of the Ironforge Armed Forces. Mauradin's orders. We got to you a bit late Sir, because of how far out of the city you are living these days. "
      The dwarf  in dark armor leaned towards me and spoke in a low, thickly accented voice, his words dripping with sarcasm.
      " And, if ye please, 'Commander', make yer journey in haste. The Queen doesn't like to be kept waiting, and ye'd be wise not to cross her...'Commander'"
      The dwarven captain spun to him in a fury.
     " As you were, Roderick! Do you know not to whom you speak?  This is a champion of Ironforge, one of Magni's own! He has defended the Anvil and the Throne since ye were playing with toy hammers in yer infested pit of a city!"
The dark dwarf grinned and held his hands up.
   " I meant no offense, Captain Stonehammer"
   He smirked, and turned walked down to the yard, where the soldier with the rams waited.
   The young captain turned to me again.
   " Commander, I apologize for my companion's lack of respect. But, respectfully, sir, hurry to the Council. Things have changed greatly in your weeks away, and we need all of our people home. We need you. Ironforge needs you."
   He glanced at the yard, where the two dwarves now mounted, waited. He quickly and subtly pulled an envelope out of his cloak, and swiftly passed it to me, and whispered.
   " From Mauradin himself. It will explain it all. Please hurry, Sir. Time draws short."
With that, I watched the lad turn, decend the steps,  mounted his rams, and in a thunder of hooves, the three dwarves moved out at a gallop, leaving behind a trail of hoof prints in the snow.

     As I watched the dwarves move out into the distance, I glanced down at the two envelopes in my hand.
I had a uneasy feeling about this letter, and about the strange interactions of the soldiers. I remember this feeling as me fleet set out for Northrend. I remember the feeling as I approached the Dark Portal. I remember the feeling from a countless battles in countless places. The feeling means trouble, no matter the time, or place.
 Well, time to get to work. I broke the seals and began to read.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lectures from the Academy: A Treatise on Seaborne Infantry Combat

     Now, Lads and Lassies, as ye all know, ye have taken the Oath to defend our kingdom and it's interests, both at home and abroad.
     Ye weren't the ones that chose the' path o' th' Light, nor th' path or arcane nor of the, err...less honorable forms of combat. Ye chose to take up the blade and the hammer, the shield and mace to defend yer homes and yer races. Ye chose the path of the warrior.
       Yet, as ye all know by this point, sheer enthusiasm isn' enough. Ye need training. Ye need skill. Ye need leadership. Ye need to know every bloody dirty soldiering trick in the book to get yer self and yer lads home in one piece.
     This is why ye have come here. This is why we, the faculty at the War College have chosen ye. Ye are the best and the brightest Ironforge has to offer. Ye are our future Captains, Colonels and Generals. You are the future leaders of the mighty Army of Ironforge. It has been thousands of years and many generations of dwarven warriors that proceeded ye, and Ironforge has never fallen. Nor will it ever, not while we, the Army of Ironforge draw breath.

Now, on to today's lecture: Seaborne Infantry Tactics.

       While in the service of Magni, Ye will find yer self in many challenging and dangerous places. Sometimes fighting in close, cramped quarters in the stone halls of an orcish fortress, perhaps in the dark tunnels of the fallen Nerubian Empire, or on the hellish frozen plains of Northrend's Icecrown Glacier. Of all of these however, very few environments are more challenging for the dwarven soldier than seaborne, ship to ship combat. I have unfortunately have had to fight in many ship to ship engagements. From defending the harbor during our assault on the Sunwell, to fighting pirates in the South Seas of Stranglethorne, to fighting the Vykrul and the Sunreavers in the cold waters of Northrend, I've learned a few things about it.

      This lecture is not intended to teach ye all about it, that ye will receive when ye get to your field commands. This will be a general overview of how to prepare and survive combat on a ship.

Now, a great deal of the tactics will depend on yer adversaries. I will divide them based off of the different racial fighting styles and tactics, as we have classified many of their styles into distinct racial/cultural styles in the past.

       First and foremost, as a dwarf, and as a soldier, I don' recommend getting into a ship to ship fight in the first place. Dwarves don't belong on the oceans. Leave it to the humans and the elves. If ye have to though, here are some general tips on preparation.
         Regarding yer arms and armament: Clean and oil yer weapons daily. The salt air plays hell with even the finest armor and will dull the sharpest blades without close attention.  Consider getting a set of spiked straps for yer boot bottoms, as the tossing seas and the salt water on the deck will make it mighty slippery, and when the fighting starts and there be blood on the deck it gets even worst, and when in a hand to hand combat situation, the last thing ye want is to fall on yer bum. Also consider wearing a flotation bladder and put quick release straps on your armor, in case ye get tossed overboard. Also, wearing a water breathing potion in a vial around yer neck can be a lifesaver too.
       Fighting the different races at sea can change yer tactics considerably. I will highlight a few of the considerations now.
     Blood Elves: These buggers are dangerous at sea, almost more so than on land. They be fast, nimble and natural sailors. Their balance in rough seas is uncanny, and they have a tendency when pressed to climb into the rigging and pelt ye with magic and arrows. I recommend standing off at a distance and giving them a bit o' the old Ironforges's finest cannonades and destroying the ship from afar. Do not engage ship to ship unless there is no other choice. If ye can't avoid it, engage them below decks and remove their mobility advantage. Also, ensure that you have plenty of riflemen in the rigging of yer vessel to harass their magi. It's hard to cast a fireball spell when ye got a dwarven sharpshooter aiming for ye.
    Orcs/Trolls: We all know the orcs. Most of us have crossed blades with them in the past. We have a pretty good understanding of their infantry tactics on the ground, and they don't change much at sea. They don't like seaborne engagements either, so will almost always choose to disengage and fight on land when possible. Although, Light knows those buggers could use a dip in the water once in a while. What is it about orcs and baths anyway? Regardless, caution is advised, but fighting them at sea is like fighting them on the land. They generally are straightforward. Aggressive, tough and well experienced, but honorable.
     Forsaken/Undead: This presents a bit of a problem, as fighting the undead always does. They tend to not be too nimble, but are clever as the day is long. We once boarded a Forsaken vessel that was attempting to shell Valiance Keep. After vicious fighting on the main deck, the Forsaken started to leap overboard. We pressed our advantage and reinforced with some gnomish troopers. The gnomes swept the lower decks and the holds and found that the Forsaken had packed the holds with gunpowder, light the fuses and ran, leaving us to blow sky high! Fortunately, the gnomes quickly disarmed it, but the lesson stuck. Forsaken are clever, well disciplined, and aggressive. Use extreme caution whenever you engage them.

These are tidbits ye can take with ye as ye lead our troopers out into the world.  Keep yer wits about ye, be prepared to think on th' fly and ye will be fine.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

After the Fall

The hum of the elevator shaft, and the clanking of the machinery were the only sounds as Thogrum and Billy descended into the darkness. Their guide was a grim faced young gnome, a captain,by the look of his armor. He had not spoken since meeting them at the airfield, now far above.Thogrum glanced up at Billy, his  companion and fellow soldier. Billy appeared lost in thought.

Thogrum could hardly blame him. The fighting had been vicious in recent weeks, as the demons had become more desperate as they had lost ground. Thogrum and Billy had been in the middle of coordinating the next series of assaults when orders had arrived from the Alliance High Command, recalling them to the military command center in Ironforge for 'Urgent Reassignment'. Thogrum recalled not being pleased to be pulled off of the lines as the final campaign was being planned, but this order was extremely unusual and the High Command very seldom pulled it's field commanders unless there was a very good reason. Thogrum again glanced at the set of orders in his hand.

Recipients: Field Commander Thogrum of Ironforge
Field Commander BillyWallace of Stormwind
Subject: Change of Duty Status/Reassignment
Current Personell Assignment:
Lieutenant Colonel Thogrum of Ironforge:Field Command Staff,
Fourth Combined Alliance Army (Infantry)

Colonel BillyWallace of Stormwind: Field Command Staff,
Fourth Combined Alliance Army (Aerial Cavalry)

Reassignment: Alliance High Command Special Military Attache,
Ironforge Military Assistance Command
Effective: Immediately

Situation: As you know,Gnomish Military involvement in the war with the Scourge has been limited to a few pilots and aircraft under preexisting agreements. Their choice not to send their troops and infiltrator units was surprising, but we did not have time to investigate this unusual change in Gnomish foreign policy. All this has now changed. Three weeks ago, all communication with the Gnomish Capitol City of Gnomeragon was lost.All trade has stopped and the gnomish troops on all the border checkpoints have now disappeared. Reconnaissance overflights of Gnomish lands show no activity on the surface near the city, near the primary airfield or the city entrance.
Orders: Effective immediately, You will proceed to the Gnomish Capitol City of Gnomeragan. Evaluate the security situation, and offer all available Alliance tactical and strategic resources to King Mekkatorque and his people.
Details will be provided prior to mobilization. Proceed with extreme caution.

The elevator screeched to a halt. The grim faced gnome swung open the door, and stepped out into the dark corridor. Billy and Thog followed, their armored boots clanking loudly on the metal floorplates. Thogrum stopped, and rested a hand on the wall. The familiar hum of the walls from the machinery, normally so prominent, was almost nonexistent.The dim red emergency lights flickered intermittently. Thog glanced at Billy, who nodded ever so slightly. The tall human was very familiar with the Gnomish city, having spent much time there before the war. He also knew, felt,something was terribly wrong. "This way, Gentlemen". The gnome spoke for the first time. His voice sounded tired, and there was not a trace of the famed gnomish good cheer in it. In the dim light, he looked very old, and very tired. He turned and moved down the corridor at a steady clip.
Billy and Thogrum followed, through a series of tight corridors. After about ten minutes of walking they came to a sturdy looking hatch. The gnomish script on the door read simply " Auxiliary Power Control Station 3". The gnome rapped on the hatch,and after a pause, the bolts clanked, and the door swung inwards. The gnome moved through, and Billy and Thogrum followed.
Inside, the dimly lit room was lined with screens that each showed different scenes, with panels of flashing lights and switches underneath. A gnome was sitting in front of each screen, twisted around looking at the door, with hands on their weapons. They stared for a moment, and then relaxed, turning back to their screens. A serious faced gnomish woman crouched behind a console, pointing an enormous firearm at them stared for a moment and then lowered it, glaring at them before returning to her console.
A deep voice called out. Thogrum looked around the dim room, and saw an armored gnome striding out of the darkness.
"Well, I'll be. Billy and Thogrum! I knew the Alliance would send experienced warriors, but I didn't know it would be you two!!You young pups!"
The gnome grew closer, and became visible. He was old, with a white beard, and a scar running down the right side of his face.The insignia of an infantry general was just visible on his shoulder plates.His battered plate armor made him look even larger than normal, for a gnome. He too, was heavily armed with two swords crossed over his back, and a dagger at his hip.
"I haven't seen you lads since we all taught at the Infantry School in Ironforge."
Thogrum smiled, and stepped forward and clasped the gnomes armored hand.
"General Sprungsprocket. We came as fast as we could."
"And not a moment too soon, Lads. Thank you for coming. We held as long as we could."
Billywallace spoke suddenly, a rarity for the silent human.
"Held as long as you could against what, General?"
"Follow me, boys."
The old gnome turned to the young gnome who had guided them in, and spoke rapidly in gnomish. The gnome saluted, and rapidly moved off into the gloom. General Sprungsproket watched him go.
"He's a good lad, that one. A fine soldier, and a hell of an officer. I fear I have asked too much of him as late,but we have had little choice recently."
He turned and began to walk into the dark. Billy and Thogrum followed. As he walked, Billy and Thogrum followed, watching the screens. The screens showed scenes of destruction. A glimpse of an abandoned common area, with debris strewn about. Some of the screens showed drifting clouds of green gas, obscuring what lay underneath. A third showed a barricade, manned by grim faced gnomes in a collection of City Guard uniforms, infantry and civilian clothing. A scene of the aircraft hangars, with mysterious shadows wandering aimlessly around.
"They came up from deep underneath, while our construction crews were expanding our water collection systems.At first, they were merely annoying, and our City Guards handled them easily."
The General paused in front of a now dark monitor screen. The label at the bottom read 'Nursery 3'.
" The first attack in force came in  through Nursery 3. They tunneled through the floor, somehow avoiding our seismic sensors. We managed to beat them back, but not before they had gotten through all three of our nurseries."
He turned and continued walking slowly.
"The second attack came right on the heels of the first, while our Guards were reorganizing from the first attack. It came through the third level robotics workshop. It was simultaneous with another breakthrough in the Lower City Quad. They were too numerous. They tore through the lower city. Casualties were in the thousands."
The stout little gnome's eyes had a far away look as he spoke.
"We sealed off the Lower City, after getting as many people out as we could. The High Tinker and his council made it out, barely. After a hasty conference, the recall order was sent to our troops in the field. The High Tinker knew that we could not hold without all our forces. I still recall his words. He spoke of our peoples commitment to the Alliance, and the special bond between our peoples. He spoke of sacrifice, and commitment to the greater good. He told us we must hold. The Alliance could not spare troops to assist without risking loosing the war."
The gnomish general turned and faced Billywallace and Thogrum.
"We still hold the water station, Power Station 2 and parts of Power Station 3. We hold the Upper City common area, and parts of the schoolhouse. The rest is either irradiated, or overrun. The casualties are uncountable. Perhaps in the the thousands, if not tens of thousands. We have held as long as we can."
His face hardened.
"We will never give up our city. Our race may have suffered, and indeed may be near extinct, but we will never give up our beloved city."
Thogrum spoke: "We are here as official military representatives of the Alliance. We offer the full aid of the Ironforge and Stormwind Armies. Where do we start?"
The gnome laughed grimly.
"Provide a safe place for my king, and our people. That is all we require."
Billywallace then spoke again.
"What about you and your troops?"
General Sprungsprokt smiled grimly.
      "Lad, I am pushing two hundred and fifty years old. I have survived two wars against the Horde, multiple battles with the demons, and many a battle with the forest trolls. I lost three generations of my family when the Troggs hit us. My son, three grandsons, and five grandchildren. All gone. I had a family, and a clan full of life. Now, I have nothing left but my duty to my race, my fallen city, and my King. My troops feel the same. The young captain that brought you in had a brand new baby daughter in the nursery. The gnome there at the door had her infant son snatched from her arms as she fled. No, my friend. We will stay. There is nowhere else for us to go."
He turned to stare at a nearby screen, which showed the enormous central hall, once bustling with life, now dark and silent.
The dwarf, the human, and the gnome soldiers stood together, staring at the screen.Thogrum rested his hand on the old gnomish generals shoulder.
The gnome spoke again.
"Someday, sometime, we will retake our city. Maybe not today, or next week. Maybe not even next year, but we will retake our city."
The city on the screens laid, waiting, and silent.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Speaking in Strange Languages

Well, me head is hurting and I've been having the oddest thoughts lately. I been dreamin' in numbers! Now, us Bronzebeard clansmen aren't too good with numbers, except our engineers....and our artillerymen...and our brewers...and our  Royal Historians....Well, so maybe we do have a few 'numbers people' in Ironforge, but I usually aint' one of them. Anyway, I woke up the other day, and on me bedside table was a grubby bit o' paper with th' following on it.

*****Fury DPS post 4.0******
Some extremely amature testing post patch has lead me to some interesting conclusions. I was, before the patch, an extremely happy warrior. I had my lovely little babies Ramaladanis Blade of Culling (Axe i251 ICC 10) and Citadeal Enforcers Claymore (i251 sword ICC 10) and was merrily tearing things apart left and right. Well, patch day came and went and my warrior who used to pull massive damage on all things unpleasant was suddenly hitting like I had a nerf wepon in each hand, literally. I even ran a heroic and got out dpsed' by the pally tank!
So, after some playing around with the new talents, I decided that since my big gunz weren't working out, I went for a 'TBC' feel and decided to use some old weapons I had in the bank and test out 1h fury again. I got ahold of a couple of Ghoulslicers (i219 from HoR-Reg); and set up a 1 handed fury spec.

Priorities for abilities are : Bloothirst, Strike, Heroic Strike, Slam when its up and Raging Blow when its up.

I went to Heroic Halls of Reflection to test this spec and style out ( I like to go for the throat; If it will hold up there, it will hold up anywhere.) and was suprised at the results to say the least. I did insane, stupidly high dps without even using CD's.

So, after this observation, I went to IF and did some testing. With the following spec and gear http://www.wowarmory.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Skullcrusher&cn=Thogrum

I did the following(rough numbers) on the heroic target dummy, no buffs except Battle Shout.
Current gear with i219 Ghoulslicerx2=4700
Current gear with i232 Liar's Tounge'sx2= 4200
Current gear with the two 2handers above=4000

So, as of where I sit right now, It feels like that the TBC/Pre BC requirements of slow one handers with high crit rating is what 1h fury likes the best. I get rage starved with the fast 1handers, and the two 2 handers just feels too clunky now.
I know this isn't scientific, but these are my observations so far. After the first hotfix, the 1h dps got even better and I came to the fun realization: As long as Blizzard doesn't change the mechanics of charge or stop me from tearing things apart in a flurry of flashing blades...I'll be ok.  Fury warriors forever!

Dark Iron

I was recently in the area o' the Redridge Mountains that the humans have taken to calling 'The Burning Steppes' on an assingment fer Royal Historian Archsonus. I have nea been here in many, many years, since me time in th' mighty Ironforge Defence Forces, and I must say, It ha' nae changed for the better.
It is still devoid of plants, the ground still smells like sulphur (An' no, not in that nice hot molten metal way we all love so much!) and there are beasties everywhere.
Me travels took me to the ruins of 'Thaussarian', the former capital city of the Dark Iron nation.

Nae much left now, fer sure. The War devastated it, and whatever foul magics the rebel leaders unleashed ha played hell wit' th' land.
Now, I am not a fan of the Dark Irons. I mean, th' war damn near tore me beloved Ironforge apart, and generations of fine Dwarves fell to the  Dark Iron blades. I can nea speak for the Wildhammer clans...They lost their beloved city of Grim Batol, near as fine a city as Old Ironforge.It remains uninhabital to this very day.
But as much horror as th' War caused, they didn't deserve this.

No one does.

Friday, October 22, 2010

This be me, and this be me axe...or whatever.

I have felt compelled of late to join in th' discussion regarding me fellow warriors and some recent events that ha been takin' place across our beloved Lands.
First, I need to clarify me role. I am not one of those touchy feely types of dwarves. I do not 'protect'. I do not 'intercept', and ye can be damn sure if I 'taunt' something, it's because I want to kill it meself, not to save yer cloth wearing behind. I kill things. Me personal favorite is is the Horde, but I'll settle for anything that can fight back.
Now that that's out of the way, and we know where both stand, I have me some concerns. As I have been out and about in the country lately, strange things have been afoot. The hordies have been a mite more agressive than usual, and there are strange things going on....More strange than any other Hallows Eve, I mean. The very ground itself is shaking, great, fearsome trembeling that I haven't felt for many, many seasons, since the end of the War with Illidan's forces, and the fall of the Black Temple.

It also seems I am not the only one concerned... Something strange is coming indeed. If ye have come across anything, please, share yer experiences. It might be th' very thing that might save yer backside someday, and mine as well.