standing at the back in my sissy robe

July 31, 2009

Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax

Filed under: Hemo,UR Doing It Wrong,World Beyond My Naval — Tamarind @ 11:27 am

As the title should indicate, this entry is a jumble of stuff.

Queen Susan’s Guardian Spirit

Since I may be 5-manning regularly (fingers crossed!) I’ve been thinking about my healing, and generally engaging in mild fits of hemo. I’m pretty rusty to be honest. Intellectually I know what I’m doing but what’s missing is that instinctive, muscle-memory, second nature kind of confidence. But that’ll come back with time and practice. I hope.

The bulk of my hemo at the moment is reserved for my persistent crapitude with Guardian Spirit. I did a quick search through the archives of World of Matticus and The Egotistical Priest to make sure I was, in fact, neglecting an important tool in my arsenal. I’ve found that very occasionally the reason you can’t seem to deploy something effectively is because it’s not very effective in the first place (why, hello living bomb, fancy meeting you here). But, no, the problem is definitely me. The consensus of Greater Minds Than Mine is that Guardian Spirit is amazing

The problem with Guardian Spirit, for me, is not the mechanics of it (40% increase to healing, get out of death free card, sign me up!), it’s the psychology. And by “the psychology”, you understand, I mean “my neuroses.” It’s active for 10 seconds, and it’s on a 3 minute cool down. It functions very much as a “ohmyfuckinggod” button, which is like an “ohshit” button but worse. It’s for the moment when you have one of those blinks that last forever and when you look again the tank is on 10% health. Aieeee!

But here are the associated issues:

1) The 40% healing increase means that the Death Save very rarely occurs – which, on some level, makes you feel as though you’ve ‘wasted’ your Guardian Spirit. Yes, yes, I know this is stupid.

2) The fact that you only ever use it when something has gone horribly wrong means it’s always associated with a sense of failure and panic. Essentially it’s an ability with a negative feedback loop.

3) That 3 minute cooldown means I never use it nearly as much as I should because I’m always thinking “wait, what if there’s an EVEN WORSE emergency in, say, 2 and a half minutes time.”

4) I’m always scared of using it on somebody other than the tank because, again, I start angsting about snatching it from the lips of starving children … I mean … I get myself all knotted up over the possibility squandering something on the DPS (sorry) that might be needed by the tank.

5) Whenever I look back over a fight, I can always see, with the clarity of retrospect, about a hundred and one possible moments when Guardian Spirit could have been used to great effect. But whenever I’m actually in the middle of a fight, there’s never an emergency that feels quite bad enough to merit its use.

This is why Guardian Spirit is the Queen Susan’s horn of healing.

And the way to get over Queen Susan’s horn anxiety is simply to blow the thing as much as possible.

Is it me, or is this analogy getting more lewd by the sentence?

But what I’m trying to say is this: my new self-imposed healing assignment is to use my fucking Guardian Spirit, instead of drenching it in hemo. I’m also going to invest in the Glyph of Guardian Spirit, which reduces the cooldown from 3 minutes to 1 minute if the Get Out of Death Free card isn’t triggered. I think that will help overcome some of my issues.

Not The Sharpest Pig in the Box

We haven’t had nearly as much time as we’d like to devote to the DGC of late (given all the nonsense that’s going around about game addiction, we’re paying a bit of attention to a healthy life-WoW balance) but Rosencrantz has a new pig. Alas poor Yorick, you did not last. I am a shockingly fickle pig owner, I feel almost guilty about it. I’m limping down the beast mastery tree (possibly with my eye towards a fuck off enormous dinosaur of my very own … I will love it and hug it and call it Reginald) and it strikes me that it’s a slightly emotionally counter-intuitive tree. Like most people interested in hunter pets, I have a tendency to invest in my animals. You give them a ridiculous name, you start to ascribe them a personality, and, suddenly, bam you’re engaged in all sorts of absurd behaviour, like fishing for what you’ve arbitrarily decided is their favourite fish or waiting for them to catch up with you if you’ve jumped off a ledge and going to absurd lengths to stop them dying in combat.

When Comfrey (my druid) was levelling with his cowfriend Doriff (not to be confused with Cowfriend), Doriff’s first pet was a tiny tiny, entirely bog standard, not even ornery plainstrider we named Clucksworthy. And although Doriff’s eye would occasionally wander in the direction of turtles and raptors, I’d always guilt trip him back into the arms (wings?) of Clucksworthy because, by that time, Clucksworthy felt like part of the family. Players actually occasionally used to lol us in the street because we looked so silly. 2 enormous level 60 cows with this incredibly small and crappy looking chicken. But Clucksworthy tanked a dragon, I’ll have you know. He was valiant, we shall not see his like again.

But the Beast Master tree seems to be all about the acquisition of MOAR pets, as well as, of course improving the pets you have. But I think if you’re the sort of person who specs beast mastery, maybe you’re also the sort of person who is likely to cleave to a single pet. Recognising this early on, I tried to foster in myself a love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude to pigs. The consequence of which is that Rosencrantz is a rampant pigtart. Seriously. I’ve had, like, 3 in about as many levels.

His first pig was Empress, a small crag boar from Dun Morogh.

And then he upgraded to Yorick, a pig marked for tragedy if ever there was one, an mountain boar from Loch Modan.

And, most recently, a mangy mountain boar, also from Loch Modan, he named Boracchio (gettit? Boar….rachio… sorry)

The happy thing about being pigfickle is that they’re all subtly different pigs. Boracchio, who is my favourite (they’ve all been my favourite, by the way, for the short span of time I’ve had them), is definitely looking at bit worse for wear. It’s the mange, and the battle scars, I guess… I also like the way the pigs move and snuffle around when they’re not running, squealing joyously, into battle.

Except there’s something up with Boraccio. I was watching him lovingly the other day, with paternal pride, and, I swear to God, he fell over. My mighty battle hog FELL OVER. He face-planted into the sward.

...

...

Is it swine flu? Or rabies? Or what?

Friday Links of Loveliness!

It’s been such a fun week for WoW blogging. The shared topic from Blog Azeroth has led to some thoroughly delightful nostalgia trippin. I’ve really enjoyed every post on the subject of I’ve read but I’ve especially loved:

Spinks on the eye-opening rampant insanty if the Thunderfury, Taz on, errr, well … modesty issues in Outland (how I giggled) and Pewpewlazerz (whose blog I have only recently discovered, and I guess should count as my “Have I Been Blogging Under a Rock” entry for this week), whose defence of the old world makes me want to attempt Molten Core right now. And probably get humiliatingly taken apart but, hey…

Vaguely in-keeping with the nostalgia-theme, there’s a lovely post over at Magic and Madness about Reasons to Keep Playing when your enthusiasm founders and your heart doesn’t seem to be in it. I think it’s in the nature of WoW to lead you through peaks and troughs and so remembering what you love about the game is important during the troughs.

I also stumbled across an utterly charming post over at Dreambound Druid about Boo the prairie dog (I won’t say more, just go read it, it’s the cutest thing in the world, especially for a Baldurs Gate fan)

On a more general note, I’m digging Priest With a Cause. Lots of thoughtful, insightful and nicely whimsical posts over there – I especially enjoyed this lament for the tragic fate of the island shoveltusks.

Absent friends missed:Krizzlybear

July 30, 2009

And gentlemen in Azeroth now-a-bed, shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here

Filed under: Hemo,Sweets for the Sweet,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 4:12 pm

M’Pocket Tank and I finally, finally, finally 2-manned Onyxia. Oh yeah! Down with you, my lady (and, no, I don’t say that to all the girls). She’s handed us our arses crispy friend the last time we tried and, truthfully, it took us another 3 attempts to perfect our technique. But we got there in the end.

It helped that I purchased a shadow wand on the AH before we went in, which increased my average damage from 3 (yes 3) per hit to around 250 per hit. Okay, so I’m never going to top a DPS meter with that but it still represents a significant improvement over stabbing her in the toenail to death with a lollypop stick. 2-manning Onxyia for a tankadin and holy priest is basically a fight of attrition: damage is much less important, (as long as you’re doing slightly more 3 per hit admittedly) than survivability. Phase 2 was always the sticking point for us. We’d get burned, overwhelmed, and usually I’d run out of mana, before we could whittle her health from 64% to 40%, which is what it takes to induce her to land again.

For our first attempt this time round, we thought I should concentrate on DPSing in an effort to get out of phase 2 a quickly as possible. This turned out to be a really stupid strategy because I ran out of mana and then Ony slabbered us mockingly. Once I was re-assigned from primary DPS to keeping everyone alive, we did much better. By now, I was getting really good at dodging fireballs and M’Pocket Tank was whelp collector extraordinaire. We were feeling pretty positive, all things considered. Until I mis-positioned and got Onyxia’s breath attack full in the face. Would you like fries with your chargrilled priest? So much for over-confidence.

On our third attempt we remembered M’Pocket had a fire resistance aura, which meant that the breath attack had a slightly better chance of not one-shotting me instantly if I screwed up. The bottom of my cape got a bit singed but I managed to run in mostly the right direction during the breath attacks this time round. Yay! Between causing damage, avoiding fireballs, keeping health topped up, collecting whelps, and not having our faces melted, we somehow got it all together and we romped into Phase 3. From there, it was easy. Victory, precious 18 slot bags, and a cavalcade of now useless epics were ours. Ours!

I’m so glad we did it, and before 80 as well.

I’m actually significantly less well-equipped than I was the last time we took a shot at Onxyia, due to the idiot-disenchants-all-his-stuff fiasco. The ironic thing is that I’m poorly geared but what I do have is incredibly well augmented. Normally I don’t bother with enchanting or gemming while levelling because you know you’re going to discard Sanguine Robe of the Cold Whale for Upbeat Tunic of the Chilly Dolphin 10 minutes down the line anyway. But in order to compensate for the general shiteness of my equipment, everything that can be enchanted is enchanted, everything that can be gemmed is gemmed – and all the very best my meagre resources can manage. The WoW Gods are laughing at me. I can hear them.

In other news, I’m currently grinding rep for the Guild Killer title, having joined yet another inevitably doomed guild. It was entirely an Act of Whimsy on my part but since I have had equal misfortune with Acts of Whimsy and Acts of Research, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The Prettiest Elf was messing around in Hellfire Peninsula a few days ago when a message went over General that made my mustachios stand on end and my monocle jump right out of my eye.

This was the message:

Excuse me, but has anyone seen a fel reaver recently, please?

Astonishing, isn’t it? Full sentence. Punctuation. Deployment of the word ‘please.’. Will wonders never cease?

As it so happened I had seen a fel reaver recently so I whispered back with directions.

“Thanks so much” came the reply.

And I thought that was that, day brightening, assuredly, but fleeting.

An hour or so later, a recruitment message went out over the chat channels. I didn’t really pay much attention, other than to note it was at least moderately coherent, but then I recognised the name. It was the polite person! I whispered for more information which is usually the point at which the recruiter devolves in a blithering moron before your very eyes but we had a perfectly nice and perfectly sensible conversation about the guild and its aspirations, so Tam and M’Pocket Tank signed up. It’s a very small, starting guild and it may crash and burn, in tears and politics and ineptitude, within a week but who knows?

Our interactions thus far have been broadly positive. Also the spread of levels is quite varied. Usually when you join a new guild there are 80s and 20s and nothing in between, so being in your mid-70s is a sad and lonely experience. We boast a handful of 70s, M’Pocket Tank and I at the highest end of them, making us the default heavy hitters, which is a bizarre feeling since normally we are normally useless newbies.

And the other thing that gives me a strange fluttering sensation that may, dangerously, be hope is an already evident culture of willingness to do “group things.” Polite Person confided that she wanted to do “everything” hinting at a WoW temperament to match my own.

Since, M’Pocket Tank and I were headed there anyway, we did a guild run of MagT (non-heroic) last night. Of course, we had no excuse not to succeed, M’Pocket Tank and I being 78 a piece, and the rest of the team ranging between levels 70 and 75. But it’s still an unforgiving instance, and it felt like an accomplishment, in developing a sense of guild unity if nothing else.

I find guild runs rather nervous-making. If you’re with a dreadful PUG you can just spit curses and exit stage left in high dudgeon and, perhaps, a puff of red smoke. But there’s a sense of investment in a guild run. Ideally you want a situation in which nobody thinks anybody else is an arse. And whereas in a PUG I have no compunction whatsoever in saying “You see that act of gross stupidity in which you’re currently engaged? No, I don’t mean your life, I mean having your pet on aggressive in an instance, or using deathgrip to pull off the tank, or using misdirect onto the mage, or whatever else it is you’re doing. Stop it please, and right now, or there’ll be no healz for you.” But if you’re running with your new guild you don’t really want to behave that way. Ideally you want to form good relationships with these people, not piss them off.

Thankfully, everyone was moderately competent, and it was genuinely fun. I’d temporarily forgotten the joy of the 5-man, but now I’m full of enthusiasm again. And I don’t think I was an arse, although I did end up, de-facto, leading the run. If I’d known I’d have prepared better but at the very least I could still remember vaguely how to handle the bosses from the last time I did MagT. I didn’t heal especially well, however, because I was too busy overseeing strategy, spotting issues and angsting. We made a big mess of Priestess Delrissa because the DPS leapt off their leashes too early, and we ended up in a bloody ruck right between the pillars for maximum LOS inconvenience. I managed to heal through it (somehow, although I nearly killed myself a bunch of times) but afterwards I was debating whether or not to say something and, in the end, I did. I was super-fluffy about it (not my usual style at all) but nobody spat in my face and the DPS really did make an effort to contain themselves during future pulls, which made our progress much smoother.

I feel quite strange about leading runs. Unless you’re a group of friends who know each other really well, I think you do need someone to do it. And the problem with thinking that you need someone to do it is that it usually ends up being you. Still I suppose it’s better to be default-guy than the alternative. The few players I’ve encountered who actively want to lead runs, and be recognised as the person who is leading the run, tend to be exceptionally unpleasant people, committed to crushing the fun out of the game at every possible opportunity, and turning the rest of you into soul-less husks whose only function is to support their gameplay.

I think I tend to go too far the other way. We wiped on Kael a couple of times and I swear to God I turned into Henry V.

July 29, 2009

Nostalgia Sceptic

Filed under: Sweets for the Sweet — Tamarind @ 12:27 pm

There’s a very charming topic over at Blog Azeroth at the moment, encouraging us all to nostalgia trip about the olden days. It’s a little strange, truthfully, because even as Perpetually Late to the Party Guy I do feel a sense of nostalgia … except it must be for something I never really knew. It’s like missing the days when Rome was a republic. Say what?

The truth is that WoW is an evolving game and a lot of the things we “remember” as being epic and awesome about vanilla are basically impractical and annoying now. Quests that take you from Tanaris to Winterspring to Un’goro to Winterspring to Tanaris to be BRD? Hah, you’d be lucky to get a group together for that these days. I do see the occasional self-styled nostalgia run (inevitably looking for a healer) but that’s about it. But when you have millions of players on the tread wheel at basically the same time, progressing at the same pace, I imagine BRD was tourist central (I aggroed an entire bar full of dorfs and all I got was this lousy T-shirt). Also immense world-spanning quests make more sense at level 40-50 when the level cap is 60, because end-game is just around the corner, and you have both time and inclination to do them. When the level cap is 80, you don’t want necessarily want to be straddling the globe like an uncomfortable Colossus – you want to be collecting monkey bollocks efficiently. Of course, it is human nature to resist change and to resent it, and to always assumes things were worse than they used to be, but I think we need to recognise that the WoW we are playing in 2009 is not the same WoW that was released in 2004.

(All the same, bring back CC, and stop reducing to everything to AoE fests!)

I am, however much I like to indulge it, suspicious of nostalgia. I sometimes think games deceive us. Like pregnancy. Okay, this analogy is more spurious than usual. But people I know who’ve had multiple children (not all at once, obviously) tell me that pregnancy plays terrible tricks on you. While you’re giving birth it’s the worst thing ever and you swear by all the saints and angels that you’re never going to put yourself through this hell again. And then, somehow, you forget… And I suspect that some of the experiences one remembers as being game-definingly great were actually frustrating and gruelling. It’s like when you finally find that piece of fucking aged gorilla sinew – yes, it feels fantastic (having found the sinew, I mean, not the sinew itself, I’m not sitting here with a piece of aged gorilla sinew, rubbing it gently over my body or anything… argh!) but it’s basically just a pleasurable sense of relief. I believe geekademics call this feeling in games aporia, although I think they should make more of the fact it is distinct from, y’know, actual fun.

I had something very similar happen to me between Morrowind and Oblivion. Morrowind was one of Those games for me. You know, the ones that make you misty eyed and lumpy throated, regardless of Actual Merit Of Game. There isn’t that much of a technical leap between Morrowind and Oblivion (although, of course, it is generally shinier) but between Daggerfall and Morrowind there’s, err, literally a world of difference. Morrowind achieves what Daggerfall suggested. There’s a lot the Elder Scrolls games don’t do so well, but in terms of creating an in-game space that feels vast and full of possibilities, they cannot be bettered (except, ironically, by WoW). So, anyway, there I was, rather miserable, and along came Morrowind. And the real world was kicking my arse so I lived in it for a while. I was, incidentally, residing at the time in a dank basement flat so I was, for a brief period, an archetypal gamer stereotype. Things got better, I finished Morrowind, life moved on…

Later, of course, Oblivion came out. I bought it in eagerness, tried to play and HATED it. It was so, err, NERFED. Fast travel? What kind of bullshit was that? Remember those halcyon days when a journey in Vvardenfell was a proper goddamn journey? Remember getting killed by cliff-racers on your way back to Balmora? Remember when exploring meant something? Remember when armour sets came with paldrons? Remember when medium armour was a skill? Those were experiences! That was the real deal.

So, naturally, I fired up Morrowind again. And, err, oh dear. How nostalgia had deceived me. Getting killed by an extremely high level cliff racers on your way to the first proper city in the game? So not fun! Being given quest directions like “the mine is west of the river to the south”? So not fun! Spending literally hours of real time wandering around the wilderness, lost and confused and terrified of cliff racers? So not fun!

This is the trick that nostalgia plays on us. It smoothes over real frustration with remembered satisfaction, blends aporia into pleasure. On the other hand, I think what we genuinely and fairly miss are the things we felt on the journey the first time we made it, regardless of things that frustrated us or were just inherently badly designed (walk across Tanaris, just try it). And I think this what’s worth remembering and worth celebrating.

I was struck by this last night, actually. Cowfriend and I were questing in Outland. We were in the Ruins of Sha’naar, gathering demonic essences, and there’s quite a nice little quest line there about the enslaved Dreghood. Usually what happens is that, once you kill their demonic masters, the Dreghood make joyful noises and escape, except sometimes, of course, they get caught in the cross fire and don’t. In which case they beat you about the head with their enslaved hands until you have no other choice but to, err, euthanise them. I like the Naladu arc so I’ve done this quest quite a few times, and I was pretty blasé about laying into the poor, innocent enslaved Dreghood whenever they got in my way. Cowfriend wasn’t. Really wasn’t. And that was when I realised: there would have been a time when I wouldn’t have been either. I’d like to blame the Prettiest Elf for this (he genuinely wouldn’t care) but it’s the first time I’ve caught myself making no attempt whatsoever to engage imaginatively with the game.

And, truthfully, I was saddened, and slightly ashamed.

But in the spirit of nostalgia here a couple of moments from my WoW journey.

The Perfect Place For a Picnic

Pass the dalaran sharp please!

Pass the dalaran sharp please!

The strange hunterly Cow at my side is not, in fact, Cowfriend, but the person who basically took me under his wing and taught me to play the game. He was my tour guide to Azeroth, when I was just a small, naïve druid far from home. And beside us, is our mighty tanking chicken: the redoubtable Clucksworthy. As you can see, we are having a celebratory picnic having downed our first devilsaur (big moment for me!). One of the things that never fails to amuse me about WoW is the ludicrous places you find yourself sitting down for a quick snack or a drink of spring water. On top of volcanoes. In the desert. Surrounded by hostile trolls. I can’t quite remember, but I do believe Comfrey has his Glowing Brightwood Staff strapped to his back, and I believe he’s sporting a lovingly hand-tailored Robe of Power. Yep, it was a good day for small cows.

I am Become Death, Destroyer of Parties

I’ve written before about the pleasures of blacktie instancing. In the good ol’ days we did, in fact, have a full, impeccably presented 5-man team. And here we are, raring to go, at RFD:

Dressed to kill

Dressed to kill

And here is Tam celebrating his triumph over the partying skeletons therein:

Priest Smites Fun

Priest Smites Fun

I think this was an important moment for Tam. He’s not a big fan of, y’know, fun.

Why I love WoW

Because it makes me feel like this:

Small cow, big world

Small cow, big world

And I guess when it doesn’t, all the nostalgia in the world won’t help.

July 28, 2009

the cold weather flying wheeze

Filed under: D'oh,Real Men Wear Purple — Tamarind @ 11:17 am

After all that, we didn’t buy any rubbishy geriatric mounts (and, accordingly, the patch didn’t go live this morning – that’s my fault, I’m sorry, if we had splashed out, it would surely have happened).

The intention was there but M’Pocket Tank suggested we pick up our mounts in Northrend, so we didn’t have to take a long detour to Shadow Moon Valley. It seemed sensible so we threw ourselves on chicken-back and began the long hike to K3.

Except: flaw in the plan.

Although there was a goblin willing to train us in the ways of expert and cold weather flying, were we to grease his little green palm with gold, there was nobody to actually sell us a damn mount. There was only a seriously dodgy second hand mount vendor. So the long and the short of it is, we have temporary free flying mounts from the dodgy guy and 2.5k gold burning holes in our pockets. Thank God the prettiest elf is still in Outland, otherwise I couldn’t answer for the consequences.

I also took a brief inventory and my finances are not in the best of shape. I have a steady stream in incomings from enchanting mats but I also have a steady stream of outgoings in pointless frivolity. I haven’t really put much effort in cash-grinding though so I only have myself to blame. On the other hand, it’s not as though money is ever a problem in the game. One of the things I like about WoW, actually, is the way that pretty much anything becomes achievable if you set your mind to it and you’re high enough level to have access to the necessary resources. It’s a very satisfying feeling, and a pleasant antidote to the real world, where very basic things, like hiring a car in L’Aquila for example (he says with bitterness and bile), can take up to a morning of frenzied negotiation.

I can’t believe I’m going to make this reference but there’s an episode of Sex and the City… Yes, yes, I have watched it. I was very ill for a few weeks before the advent of WoW in my life and, confined to bed, bored, listless and full of wrath, I was pretty much willing to watch anything anybody put in front of me. Sex and the City performed an extremely important role in the recovery process, in that I hated it so much it kept from despairing. Anyway, so there’s an episode of Sex and the City in which the Sarah Jessica Parker character discovers she has spent somewhere in the region of $40k on shoes and, therefore, can’t afford to buy, like, her flat or food or something. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely support a woman’s right to shoes but you don’t get to whine about it afterwards. You’re a grown up, you made the choice to spend all your money on shoes, you don’t deserve censure for it, but you certainly don’t deserve sympathy.

(I really disliked the Sarah Jessica Parker character, by the way – I don’t understand why she had such cool friends)

However, a brief discussion with my WoW Financial Advisor indicates that I have been guilty of pretty much exactly the same thing. Not shoes, certainly. But the Profligatest Elf is toting around at least an epic flyer or two of things that sparkle and/or look cool. I’m not whining about it. Mainly I’m sheepish.

Baaaaa.

Anyway, this post was meant to be about cold weather flying. Seriously, what is with that? Yes, I know, it’s as much as an arbitrary hoop as anything else in the game and I suspect the imaginative reasoning behind it is something like “you need special training to stay mounted in high winds and cruel temperaments of Northrend.”

But that’s bullshit, isn’t it. It’s blatantly some sort of scam, a goblin scam. Your naive character rocks up at Northrend and you’re about to take to the skies when Lustig the Goblin sidles up to you, and he’s like:

Lustig: Have a care mate. It’s dangerous up there.

You: I’m level 77, thank you so very much. I think I know what I’m doing. Stand aside.

Lustig: Well, all right, if you say so, it’s your corpse-run.

You: What do you mean?

Lustig: It’s the weather, in’t it? You can’t go flying around up there like it’s Outland. You need special training.

You: Special training?

Lustig: That’s what I’m trying to tell you, mate. You need Cold Weather Flying. Help you deal with, um, the cold weather when you’re mounted.

You: I’m wearing gloves and a helmet, and I have, in fact, flown over Winterspring on several occasions. I think I’ll manage.

Lustig: Whatever you say, me old chum, whatever you say. And I’m sure you’ll be saying that when the high winds and freezing rain knock you straight into the side of a mountain. You see that stain on the snow over there? That’s a gnome that is. Well. Was a gnome.

You: By the Light! What happened to him?

Lustig: Didn’t have cold weather flying, that’s what.

You: I say! How can I learn this cold weather flying?

Lustig: Well, err, I wouldn’t do this for just anybody, you understand, but, err, I can teach you.

You: You can?

Lustig: A thousand gold, though I’m cutting me own throat.

You: Very well. Here you go, my good man.

Lustig: Thanks a bunch, mate.

You: Now what.

Lustig: *hands over some ear muffs and runs away giggling*

You: …

July 27, 2009

And What Should I Do In Illyria?

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Real Men Wear Purple,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 3:38 pm

I must have had too much tea this morning because this post has gone on an epic emotional journey before even having been written.

It began in a melancholy fashion. “I confess,” I said, in a melancholy fashion, “I am slightly concerned.”

Flashback:

Things are pretty stagnant for M’Pocket Tank and I in WoW at the moment. Tam is 78, with 80 looming if only I’d put my head down, stop avoiding Northrend and get there, he’s wearing stuff he found lying on the ground in Sholazar Basin (mango leaves and animal furs, I suspect) and he’s waiting for the patch to come out so he can buy bargain basement flying.

In the short: the poor bastard is Waiting for Godot. Everything he does is subsumed into the act of waiting. And that’s taking a toll on our morale. There are only so many bowler hats we can pass around.

We’ve also pretty much run out of instances. This weekend we embarrassed ourselves in the Black Morass yet again. Poor Medivh, his heart must sink when we appear through the instance portal. I imagine it rather goes like this:

Medivh: Look guys, I really appreciate you trying to help and everything but, uh, I’m kind of sick of being torn apart by infinite whelps.”

Us: No, no, it’ll be fine, we have more DPS this time. Tam’s learned mind sear, it’s gonna be a cake walk.”

Medivh: You said that last time.

Us: That was an error of judgment, we admit it. But third time lucky, eh? Wait till you see that mind sear, it’s going to change the tide of battle.

Medivh: *bursts into tears*

Not really very much later…

Medivh: *torn apart by infinite whelps*

Us: Maybe we need more DPS…

Me: *shaking head sadly* I can’t believe mind sear didn’t make the difference…

(In case it isn’t obvious, guess who just got mind sear – his first proper AoE spell, since Holy Nothing doesn’t count. M’Pocket Tank scorned it and derided it: “The shadow effects look totally lame” “Are you kidding, that’s fel power that is!” “It looks like wee.” “It’s fel wee, dammit!” But it still makes me feel awesome.)

Tails between our legs, we slunk off to try our hand at The Steamvault and The Shattered Halls, both of which went down with a whimper. I really like The Steamvault – another genuinely huge and epic-feeling instance. Also it’s crazy full of mobs. We spent an awful lot of time yelling “HUG THE WALL!” at each other, like we were in a 1970s cop show. There are probably better strategies but it worked for us. None of the bosses gave us much trouble, but after Grand Master Void Fetishist everybody is a bit of a let down. He’s totally our nemesis. Screw this Arthas dude. The Shattered Halls are pretty funky too. Although I wouldn’t call them Shattered so much as Long and Straight and Quite Well Maintained. Talk about misplaced hyperbole.

And this, of course, brought us face to face with an impasse. “Tempest keep, yay!” we cried eagerly, only to find the way was barred.

Between trudging back to Northrend and doing something stupid, we naturally opted to do something stupid. Hellfire Ramps Heroic!

My first heroic, in fact. Well, technically my second heroic, since the last time we had this idea we poked our noses in the door, fought valiantly to the Beast Master and then died horribly and repeatedly at the teeth of his eighty million beasts. That gave me a bit of a fright, I can tell you. Heroics, I guess, are full of surprises. Surprising deaths, anyway.

But last time we tried the God of People Who Don’t Like Northrend And Will Do Anything To Avoid It was smiling on us. And, somehow, we got through Ramps heroic. Again, I know we’re 8 levels ahead of schedule so it’s not the kind of mighty deed WoW-aficionados down the ages are going to sing camp fire songs about. But it was something new and exciting to try and it was actually pretty challenging.

I’ve also got to the point of level progression in which my healing looks visually pathetic. I remember how stunned I was, that time I accidentally went on a Raid, when I’d be casting heal spells and it would make a trivial amount of different to the health bars. These days, flash heal on M’Pocket Tank is the equivalent of an elastoplast on a severed limb. The only reason I cast it at all is to proc Serendipity. Of course it might have something to do with the fact M’Pocket Tank is wearing, y’know, gear, whereas I am clad in crap the Nesginwary expedition didn’t want.

By the time we’d finished, we were rolling in stuff that would have been awesome 8 levels ago by the end of it. It was utterly tragic. In fact … God … another first … I disenchanted my first epic. It broke my heart to do it.

I’ve kept every other epic I’ve found, because I’m still enough of a sentimental noob to conceive of them as being incredibly rare and valuable.

Let me see, I have not one but two ardent custodians, both BOE, both random world-drops. I’m saving them for a character who could duel wield them. Mwahaha.

And I have a Glowing Brightwood Staff, which was a present from a dear friend. Again, it broke my heart to swap it out for some random Outland shite with infinitely better stats.

An Eye of Flame, for the Prettiest Elf, which I am NEVER NEVER NEVER replacing because it so utterly fabulous. A monocle. On fire. Oh God yes.

And, yep, that’s it. And there fell the Feltooth Eviscerator into my graceless hands and I crushed into a void crystal as if it was nothing.

We also pulled in a metric sack of epic gems. Gemming rarely seems worth it during leveling because you trade up gear so regularly but I guess waste not want not … oh wait … I’ve got nowhere to put the damn things because I’m dressed in Nesingwary’s hand-me down trousers.

“Woo hoo! What’s next?” I asked.

Flashforwards:

And it was at this moment that I succumbed to melancholy. It suddenly struck me: what on earth am I going to do when I hit endgame. No, seriously. What is someone like me meant to do? Run heroics over and over and over again until my eyes bleed? Grind daily quests? Raid? Achievement whore? I don’t think I’m interested in any of those things.

I ran UK about 10 times when I was the appropriate level (if you count all the times I FAILED to run UK) and I never want to see the damn thing again as long as I live and breathe. I just can’t see myself running the same heroics repeatedly. I can’t see myself rep-grinding. I’m really not sure WoW will have anything to offer me at that point.

I know I could start leveling alts but there’s an extent to which “80” serves as a set of goal posts. It’s not the end of the game, it’s not even a victory condition, but it’s something to aim at. If it’s just a mirage, then, why aim for it at all?

But there’s a saying in family: we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it (yeah, we’re a cheery lot).

And I guess there’s about as much point in worrying about what I do when I hit 80 than there is in worrying that I might wake up one day with nothing to say on this blog (I do, as it happens, worry about both, pointless though it is).

Back to the present

And in the spirit of this: it is officially Fuck The Patch day.

I could afford artisan + cold weather flying maybe (big maybe) if I put all my gold together, bankrupted all my alts and deprived the Prettiest Elf of his vanity fund (he is my single biggest WoW expenditure, I’m embarrassed to say).

But the cost of that isn’t changing, so let’s not bother, and let’s not worry about it. Money accumulates in WoW. Unlike in real life where it seems to … just disappear.

What is changing, however, is the effectiveness of your Bog Standard Flying Mount but that’ll kick in when the patch happens regardless of when I purchase the damn thing. And, actually, when you get right down to it, although the costs for ground mounts, and the training to ride them, are going through the floor (was there a job lot of substandard chickens or what?), the difference in cost of Expert riding + Thing To Ride between now and the patch are in the region of 250 gold, not counting faction rep bonuses.

250 gold? That’s nothing, right?

So I’m resolved. Tonight, M’Pocket Tank and are going shopping.

We’re going to get our hands on a pair of crappy, geriatric flying mounts, fit them with thermal underwear and ride them in slowwwwwwww triumph over Ice Crown.

Azeroth is, once again, at our feet. The world is ours.

July 26, 2009

Sin to Win!

Filed under: Diversions,UR Doing It Wrong,World Beyond My Naval — Tamarind @ 11:59 pm

Apologies in advance, but this isn’t about WoW. It’s also not about me failing to pull either, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief about that.

Spinks recently drew my attention to EA’s latest marketingfail, in which attendees at this year’s Comicon were invited to take pictures of themselves committing “acts of lust” with the booth babes as part of a promotion for the forthcoming Dante’s Inferno (I mean, a game spuriously connected to Dante’s Inferno, the original having already, err, come). As far as publicity goes, it’s certainly a winner in the “get lots of attention” respect but it is, of course, profoundly offensive on every conceivable level. They have since issued an apology which is so hilariously point-missing that I feel obliged to quote a large chunk of it:

We created this promotion as part of our marketing efforts around the circle of Lust (one of the nine sins/circles of Hell). Each month we will be focusing on a new Circle of Hell. This month is Lust. Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps at Comic-Con here, find us on Facebook or via e-mail. “Commit acts of lust” is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps. Also, a “Night of Lust” means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante’s Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes.

Again, I could go into why this is still mind-bogglingly offensive but this gives it too much credit. Let’s concentrate, instead, on the STUPID, which is present in equally generous quantities.

Basically what jumps out at me is this: so you’re doing a series of competitions based on the circles of the Inferno, one per month in fact. You do realise, don’t you EA marketing department, that the circles of Dante’s hell do not quite correspond to the seven deadly sins in the way I suspect you think they do? Um, do you think maybe you should have, perhaps, just perhaps, read The Inferno before you embarked on this doomed endeavour?

With this in mind, M’Pocket Tank and I hereby present our own take on the Sin to Win competition which we hope compensates to some degree for EA with its fidelity to the original text.

Circle 1: Limbo

In order to win, invitees must wear togas and compose epic poetry in dead languages.

Circle 2: Lust

Attendees are invited to perform such SINful acts as marrying for love, getting divorced or fancying someone against their parent’s approval.

Circle 3: Gluttony

Attendees are invited to send photographs of themselves eating in a manner which serves as a metaphor for the politics of 13th century Florence.

Circle 4: The Avaricious and Prodigal

Attendees will be encouraged to waste as much money as possible on useless crap they don’t need. We are currently re-thinking this promotion as it is functionally identical to the normal behaviour of punters at a convention.

Circle 5: The Wrathful and the Sullen

Attendees are invited to perform acts of violence on other members of the convention. We apologise for any misunderstanding this description may have caused. “Acts of violence” is just a tongue-in-cheek way of saying “have your photograph taken with.”

Circle 6: Heretics

Attendees are invited to tweet in support of interpretations of Christian doctrine which deviate from Catholic orthodoxy.

Circle 7: The Violent

Attendees are invited to commit suicide.

Circle 8: Malebolge

In order to win the Malebolge prize, attendees are invited to submit a photograph of themselves engaged in acts of pandering, seduction, flattery, simony, fortune telling, grafting, hypocrisy, theft, evil counselling, sowing of discord and falsification with other convention goers.

Circle 9: Cocytus

Attendees are invited to commit acts of treason.

In the event of fire, attendees are reminded that there is an emergency exit situated between Satan’s buttocks.

July 25, 2009

on behalf of the Goblin Office of Safety and Health

Filed under: Diversions — Tamarind @ 6:43 pm

A couple of posts back, I was talking about the WoW obscenity swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad and quite a few of the comments mentioned the effectiveness of the lifts in Azeroth in inducing a welter of swwwwwading followed by dying.

So, since it’s frivolity Saturday, I decided to send a highly trained field-agent on a whistle-stop-tour of Azeroth in order to investigate the situation on the behalf of the Goblin Office of Safety and Health (GOSH). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a highly trained field expert so I had to use the Prettiest Elf instead. Having equipped himself with a diamond tipped walking cane, the marvellous madstone of immortality (which he only bought in the first place because he thought it was the marvellous madstone of immorality) and his cow bodyguard, our brave and terribly pretty elf set off on his deadly and vital mission.

We began in Shattrath.

The lift leading to the Scryer’s Terrace consists of a round platform that cunningly disguises itself as part of the ground, thus making it remarkably easy for the absent-minded, or visually impaired, traveller to miss it entirely. It is clearly operated by magic as it whizzes up and down to its own schedule. It is also silent which, though a vast improvement to all the headache inducing clanking and whirring of the Barrens lift technology, comes with dangers of its own:

La la la la

La la la la

However, despite having the lift land upon his head repeatedly (for science!) Cowfriend suffered no visible injury. The fact he was persuaded to stand beneath a falling platform several times in a row, however, may attest to some small brain damage not mitigated by his helmet. Agrimony asks me to remind all those not wearing a Serious Tanking Helmet not to try this under any circumstances, as it is terribly bad for the hair.

The lift itself is entirely open on one side. Although it does offer a lovely view of Shattrath, again, this is extremely perilous for the clumsy, large-hoofed or otherwise preoccupied lift-users.

Aieeee!

Aieeee!

Cowfriend suffered only minor wounds (one sprained fetlock, one bruised knee and a slightly crushed tail) from his unfortunate fall, indicating that a rapid, unintentional descent from the top of Scryer’s Terrace, unlike other locations around Azeroth, while not precisely recommended, is not deadly. So although the design of the lift itself is neither safe nor sane, it causes little harm to its passengers.

However, the Prettiest Elf was quick to spot the one thing the lift to Scryer’s Terrace has going for it:

So, how do you feel about customer service?

So, how do you feel about customer service?

In Summary:

Convenience:
Moderate
Accessibility: Low – easily missed due to the fact the platform camouflages itself
Technology: Good – smooth, silent, magic action
Danger: Very low
Attendants: Can attend me any day, baby…
Likelihood of hefty settlement following legal action: Low, as injuries caused by lift are rarely significant

The Undercity

Where to begin! The lift system in the Undercity is, of course, the handiwork of the famous, Forsaken architect, Incapability Brown. And, ye Gods, does he have a lot to answer for. Our crack team immediately spotted several significant problems:

Slight logistical hiccough

Slight logistical hiccough

Just look at those dreadful attendants! Err, and, of course, the fact that the lift cannot accommodate a mounted cow in full battle armour.

The lifts themselves consist of a spike-ringed platform (why, Incapability Brown, why? Are enormous spikes of bone ever a sensible addition to a heavily used public facility?) that judders up and down a sealed column of stone with access doors at both the top and bottom. While in motion the lift is arguably slightly safer than the open air style adopted by both the Scryers and the cows, but there are serious ‘Mind the Gap’ issues at the point where the lift encounters the exit door. And by serious, we mean fatal:

This seems neither healthy nor safe

This seems neither healthy nor safe

It is all too easy for the impatient lift-user, in defiance of all the laws of physics, to fall through the invisible gap between platform and wall, plummet down the shaft and then re-encounter the lift in a most painful fashion. The result of which is to find oneself both impaled on the bone spikes and decapitated. And, it goes without saying, deceased.

Alas, poor Agrimony

Alas, poor Agrimony

In Summary:

Convenience: Low – despite there being several of them, the lifts are notoriously difficult to locate and the doors have a tendency to close in your face just as you approach.
Accessibility: Terrible – do you know how long it took Cowfriend and the Prettiest Elf to extricate that kodo?
Technology: Frankly, I hate to speculate
Danger: EXTREME!
Attendants: For future reference, we should prefer our lift attendants to have their internal organs on the inside.
Likelihood of hefty settlement following legal action: Extremely low, not because you don’t have a case but because the Forsaken would just laugh in your face

To The Barrens

The lifts to Thunder Bluff and Thousand Needles have both clearly been designed by the same a stupid cow. They consist of two counterbalancing gazebos on a string. Although they are capacious in order to accommodate users of all sizes and offer gorgeous views (Cowfriend insists) of the Mulgore scenery, they are nevertheless seemingly constructed to cause the maximum frustration to users.

The platform is precisely of a length to ensure that, if you miss the ascending gazebo, no matter how fast and desperately you run you will also miss the descending gazebo on the other side. Naturally this means you’ll miss the previously-ascending-now-descending-gazebo, in a tragic cycle of lift missing that could conceivably last forever.

And, of course, it should by now be obvious saying that structures designed to transport a person a significant vertical distance should not consist of 5 doorways to death:

Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.

Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.

And although the lift attendants weren’t a patchwork of deadflesh and organs (for which everyone was thankful) they were far from the sterling guardians encountered in Shattrath, displaying absolutely no concern for their job.

Like ... whatevs ... dude

Like ... whatevs ... dude

We suspected this one was stoned. And on duty! Tsk tsk.

To give The Thousand Needles whatever small credit it is due, we can at least praise their efficiency. Although the ground at the bottom of the Great Lift was strewn with the bodies of the fallen dead, the graveyeard was extremely conveniently located, displaying a certain degree of foresight on the part of either the lift designer or the local undertakers.

I have no idea what it says about the world of Azeroth that 'proximity to graveyard' may be considered an advantage in a lift.

I have no idea what it says about the world of Azeroth that 'proximity to graveyard' may be considered an advantage in a lift.

In summary:

not so great actually

With that, the Prettiest Elf and Cowfriend, bruised, battered and partially dismembered, called it a day.

GOSH will be hearing about this. You mark my words.

Cowfriend then attempted to inspire the Prettiest Elf with the wonders of his home town, in particular The Randomly Wobbling Rock to which Azerothian tourists apparently flock:

*yawn* dear boy *yawn*

*yawn* dear boy *yawn*

The Prettiest Elf, however, had other ideas and ported straight back to Shattrath:

He learned from the best

July 24, 2009

He’s gone from bad to…

Filed under: Sweets for the Sweet,World Beyond My Naval — Tamarind @ 11:12 am

So, I’m wondering when putting the word “devilsaur” into the title of smooshy love songs is going to get old, and I’m starting to think … maybe … never.

Three Times a Devilsaur … Waiting for a Devilsaur like you … When you love a Devilsaur … My baby loves devilsaur

Okay, I’m stopping now.

*twitch*

In-keeping with the half-arsed Things I Love About WoW theme I’ve recently imposed upon myself, the part of this post not dedicated to the rest of the blogsphere is dedicated to my favourite NPC in the whole of the game. Because of the sheer quantity of quests and characters populating Azeroth, it’s very easy to see everyone you encounter as little more than a quest dispenser, especially if said quest is “Hello [class], I require 10 monkey toenails because … I do. And I can’t get them myself because … I can’t. I will give you this random hat and 25 copper pieces if you bring me 10 monkey toenails. For the Horde!”

This isn’t a criticism. I have nothing against giving a bunch of monkeys a pedicure. With my axe. As I’ve said before, you tend to know what you’re getting with WoW and too many fiddly quests (why hello Northrend, long time no see, I haven’t complained about you for a while) are exhausting and annoying. You know the type I mean: “Go to the Cave of Songs on the other side of the map and use this Arcane Harmonisation Device on 35 Crystallized Pillars until it is properly attuned. Then use it with the filled Bong of Ysandril to summon Raksaw The Suicidal. Take Raksaw with you to the glen south of the river and, with his aid, kill the creatures you find there and bring me 10 of their toenails as proof of the deed. I will give you this random hat and 25 copper pieces as a reward. If you should happen to lose Raksaw The Suicidal, return to me and I will give a new Bong of Ysandril, which you can refill at the Smoky Chasm.”

ARGH! ARGH! A world of ARGH. Lend me that teaspoon, for I must gouge out my eyes in pure frustration.

Okay, I’ve veered as wildly off track with this blog post as if I had my epic flyer stuck on auto-run. The point I was trying to make is this: because Azeroth is fairly and comfortably generic a lot of the time (and I have no problem with that), characters who are well-written, well-characterised, or just a tad more imaginative than usual really make an impression.

And putting aside epic lore figures like Thrall, my favourite character in WoW is … well … ahem .. I think it behoves the depth of my passion and the nature of his, err, nature to express myself in form worthy of him.

So, my dear readers, brace yourself for a one-time aberration. It is, indeed, VERSE.

My dearest Jeremiah, just a note to say:
You’re my favourite zombie in all of Azeroth.
My adoration for you suffers no decay
Despite the massive fuss about the Lich King’s wrath.
The Jeremiah Blues are such a tragic tale,
Rubbish loot aside, it never fails to move me,
Though fools deride its lack of epic Wrathgate scale.
Hey, you should be the star of the Warcraft movie!
I’ll always buy a cockroach, just to win your smile,
And keep it by my side, and other pets decline,
Even though it really does nothing for my style.
Unlike the fickle masses who flock at Valentine.
On the morning after, you’ve no need to sweat it
Whatever Blizzard claim, I never will regret it.

(Not quite an Alexandrine because I couldn’t be arsed to fiddle with the weird stresses required but in hexamater rather than pentameter because I think poetry to zombies ought to be slow and shambling, err “that like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along” in fact!).

So, who’s your favourite NPC, and why? Do you even have one or am I just crazy? Poetry on the subject entirely optional.

And, finally, because it is Friday. Some of my favourite links of the week.

This was technically last week, but over at Shadow Word: Blog, there’s a great post (and accompanying discussion) on Abi’s Top 5 Most Hated Quests. It should provide some kind of cosmic balance for the peace, love and rainbows flying out of this blog at the moment. Also it’s really funny. My favourite line: “Who knew that not every Hillsbrad Farmer had a skull?” Hehe!

Under no circumstances should you forgo your invitation to sit on Uncle Mis’s lap over at Aggro Junkie. Another one of his splendidly sensible posts on why and how eager young DPSers should curb their DPS Demons.

Earlier in the week, Spinks was thinking about the anti-social consequences of adventuring in pairs and new possible directions for duo-themed content in MMOs, which led to a fascinating post over at Wild Growth about her own experiences of playing WoW with an established group. Both posts have really made me think about how I’ve been playing the game lately, and whether clinging to M’Pocket Tank and Cowfriend is making me harmfully disenganged.

And, finally, not a specific link but I’ve recently discovered Nim (I know, I know, there I was, blogging in a hole in the ground again). Her blog is called A Shaman’s Journey but, in my head, I think of it as Letters to Azeroth. Nim’s WoW exploits are primarily related through letters to, well, everything. The zeppelin, her shield, herself. It’s charming and whimsical and never fails to brighten my day.

And, finally, you’ll have to forgive me but I’m going to go incredibly smooshy for a moment. The sonnet must have gone to my head. I can’t really link here either but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for the amazing comments. When I first started this blog (to let off steam after a bad PUG) I didn’t actually give much thought to the idea that people might, y’know, read it, especially given the fact that I don’t exactly write about anything useful or profound, and wouldn’t recognise a strategy if it trounced me at Risk. But I’m so grateful and delighted that, apparently, people do. Thank you so much for your time, and your wonderful, wonderful comments. You make writing this blog an absolute pleasure, and you enrich my game no end.

Okay, that’s enough of that. I have to go now and be rude to a stranger. Kick a murloc. Or something.

July 23, 2009

can you feel the devilsaur tonight

Filed under: Real Men Wear Purple,Sweets for the Sweet,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 11:14 am

So, we’re into the summer slump, apparently. Various blogger are headed off on out-of-game adventures, lots of people are taking a break, raid groups are foundering, and the game itself is that weird, semi-suspended pre-patch state where nothing you do really seems quite worth it because of incoming changes. On the other hand, I find reading about the enthusiasm of others bolsters my own when it flags. It reminds me of the things I love about WoW, and inspires me to try new things or look at certain aspects of the game in a different way. I’m going to spend a little time, probably not in a very organised way because I’m not that kind of blogger, just, y’know, appreciating WoW and generally taking time out to smell the pixels as Lantanna says. I’ll probably degenerate into ranting and whinging pretty soon but for the moment: let’s spread the love around.

But first, some vainglory! The Shadow Labyrinth. Went Down. Oh yeah! Oh yeah, baby! Commence dancing and air punching. Sorry, this is getting embarrassing but it was really satisfying, especially because the first time we attempted it we crashed and burned oh so badly on Grandmaster Vorpil and his voidwalker loveclub. Having very little AoE DPS, what am I saying, very little DPS at all, it was really difficult to eliminate the voidwalkers in time to stop them healing him.

My ideal way to run instances is at level with a tight 3-man team, but 2-manning at higher levels, if you judge it right, can be an interesting challenge too, especially when you’re reliant on a holy priest off-DPSing for your major damage. And you end up evolving some slightly crazy strategies to deal with things like mind control – trying to juggle your threat so that the guy in the sissy robe with only smite to his name gets mind controlled instead of the platemail sporting tank with the big sword, for example. There’s nothing more embarrassing than being cut down in the middle of an instance by your own tank. I have to admit, I’d love to see the chaos caused by Blackheart the Inciter on a five party group though. There wasn’t all that much we could do except blow our cooldowns before he MCed us and then stand as far away from each other as possible before the mind-control, like Smitefight at the OK Corral, since M’Pocket Tank could survive anything I could throw at her but I’m pretty vulnerable to a sword in the face.

Grandmaster V. was a close run thing though. M’Pocket Tank basically north-south kited him while I took out the void walkers in the centre of the room. It was a huge strain on resources because DPSing gives me very little return on my mana and it took 2 casts per voidwalker to take one out. Meanwhile M’Pocket Tank was whittling away at the Grandmaster and simultaneously trying to keep herself alive because I couldn’t take time off from killing voidys to chase her to the other end of the room. I did mange to get a couple of emergency heals off though and there was one heart-stopping moment when the Grandmaster got away from us and ploughed gleefully into a rugby scrum of voidwalkers. I had run completely and totally out of mana, void walkers were converging on the centre of the room and I was about to despair when … somehow .. we did it. He died.

Not so Grand now, eh?

Remarkable. The best part of it is I’m not sure I could do it again. That’s always the sign of a good fight, I think. You triumph but the challenge isn’t lost.

Also the Shadow Labyrinth is brutal, I tell you, brutal. Insane quantities of mobs, mobbing us. We were taken out by the trash at least once. Oh the shame!

Okay, that’s enough vainglory for one day. Let me go back to the subject of this post. Here’s something I love: Terror Run.

That's ... not ... good

That's ... not ... good

I mean, how you could not, with a name like that. I think I might, on previous occasions, maybe, just maybe have expressed – possibly – a slight degree of enthusiasm for dinosaurs. So, naturally, I really like Un’goro, although it might as well be called MetaZone for all the silly references jammed in there. It looks fantastic, it’s brimming with a metric arseload of insanely fun “go forth and kill lots of dinosaurs” quests, it’s got a wonderfully, ironic, pulpy atmosphere and, of course, it has Terror Run. Now, usually, when I rock up at Un’goro I’m punching above my weight so Terror Run is genuinely terrifying, exactly as it should be. I don’t have a hope in hell of taking a single one of those enormous elites, well, maybe, if I managed to corner one, in the dark, while it was unconscious. So if I want to get to the western pylon, which of course I do, I have to run Terror Run. In terror.

I know death doesn’t actually, per se, mean anything in WoW. At worst it’s inconvenient (death isn’t the handicap it used to be in the olden days…) but Terror Run helps me to forget that. When I’m pegging it, mist-blind and panicking, through a forest of smooshed trees and angry elite stegodon, I know I don’t want to die by dino, and I’m afraid, and exhilarated and cackling and having a wonderful time.

I had cause to visit Un’goro fairly recently, when I was levelling the prettiest elf with Cowfriend. The prettiest elf, by the way, is a full-spec fire mage. I know this is underpowered, I know it’s a silly choice of levelling spec but … but … I like the pretty lights. And the burning. Gotta love the burning. Anyway, there we were, Cowfriend on her kodo, me on my big pink chicken, standing on the brink of Terror Run. “Here’s the deal,” I said, “we’re here [map plink] and we need to be here [map plink]. Between us and our goal, is Terror Run. It’s full of a bunch of elite dinos we simply can’t take. So we’re going to have to run it. So, when I say go, peg it, as fast and hard as you can. Don’t look back, don’t stop for anything. If you get knocked off your mount, keep going, if I get knocked off my mount, keep going. Don’t be a hero. It’s every man … cow … elf … for himself. It’s the only way to survive.”

And then I spoiled it by giggling excitedly.

And, y’know, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson about every-man-for-himself strategies but anyway… off we went.

Go, pink chicken, go!

Aaaaand within about 10 seconds, I’d been knocked off. And there I was, a spindly little fire mage with excellent hair, stuck in the middle of Terror Run, with no hope in hell. It was at this moment precisely that I realised when I said “every man for himself” I really meant “if you get knocked off, I’ll run like a bastard but if I get knocked off, you come and help me.” But I’d said to keep going in all circumstances and I couldn’t set a bad example to my cowfriend protégé so, over the shaking, rumbling ground, I started to run.

Dinos to the left of me.

Dinos to the right of me.

Dinos right fucking behind me, taking enormous bites out of my arse.

I hit frost nova.

I hit blink.

I half turned round as I was running to blow dragon’s breath in the face, well toes, of my pursuers.

I blinked again.

And frost nova-ed.

And, again, and again.

The edges of the screen were bleeding to red through the sea-green mist (yes, I can still spare a dig for Arthas).

And, somehow, on something like 5% health I made it. The dinos got bored, decided I wasn’t worth it, lost sight of me, who knows, but they stopped chasing. The prettiest elf reeled against a tree, gasping for breath and suddenly realised I’d be holding my own, and my heart was pounding like I’d been the one fleeing the dinosaurs.

Silly, entirely silly of me, but such fun to lose yourself in a moment like that. But it’s for that kind of thing that I love WoW.

And, of course, I can now say that I literally ran Terror Run.

July 22, 2009

Miscellany

It’s disconnected Wednesday! Recent thoughts / happenings that are not quite significant enough to merit to posts of their own.

As idle as a painted ship, Upon a painted ocean.

I want a meta-game title.

Champion of the Frozen Wastes can go take a running jump.

I want: Tamarind the Guild Killer.

For, lo, I am. Another one bites the dust. Gah! I know it’s not actually me – I’m not that hubristic – but I’m starting to think I must have inadvertently shot an albatross somewhere along the line In some ways, I suppose, the collapse of my guild is quite fortunate because it has saved me from the social awkwardness of gquitting. But my (ex)guild had been around on Emerald Dream for a good while actually and, clearly, once upon a time, it was a great place to be. Yet within literally moments of me joining, there was an eruption of drama and fail that led to, well, more drama and fail. And then the centre could not hold. And that was the end of it. Sigh.

My leaves may be provocative, but that doesn’t mean I’m asking for it

I was heal-harassed repeatedly in Hellfire Peninsula last night. I was already committed to 3-manning BF with M’Pocket Tank and Cowfriend (downed, by the way, downed!) but almost the second after I put hoof in Thallmar, a level 60 deathcow came running up to me and said: “Blood Funuce????” (Blood Funuce, putting the fun back into prisons for pit lords!) Possibly it’s just my anti-DK impulses kicking in again but I think anybody who, in cold blood, deploys more than an absolute maximum of three question marks (or any elements of punctuation for that matter) is probably not to be trusted. Also, and I admit I make plenty of typos myself, but I do consider being able to spell the name of the instance you’re trying to run advantageous. His next collection incoherent syllables expressed, to my mind, disappointment and he trudged off.

I thought that would be the end of it but then I got the whisper, the one familiar to every jobbing healer. “U heal?” it goes. Yes, I heal, weddings, funerals and Bar Mitzvahs, and why can’t anybody ever ask me nicely? Just a couple more syllables. Go on. Say “are you a healer?” Push the boat out, say “excuse me, are you a healer?” Acknowledge that, perhaps, I have an existence of my own outside my in-game function of healing you on demand. Go on. I dare you. Seriously, is it really too much to ask? It improves my heals. I’m a civility-powered healer. No. Really. Look, I can prove it with science:

Here comes the science....

Here comes the science....

Anyway. “I do,” I responded, “but I’m afraid I’m already committed to a group.” There was brief pause.

“Fuck,” he said.

And then again: “Fuck.”

And finally: “Fuck.”

I have to admit, I was genuinely startled. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the swearing; I read Restoration poetry, and WoW has nothing on that. And it wasn’t even directed abuse of the usual sort. Despite the fact he is wearing (though no choice of his own) a skin-tight purple shirt tunic, split to the navel, and a skirt … sorry … “war kilt” nobody has yet dared to call my cow a fag. At least not to his face. And I suppose U Heal Bob was just expressing his frustration at the scarcity of healers currently available but the three angry fucks (I can’t decide if that’s an excellent name for a band for a comedy trio) struck me as weirdly disproportionate to the situation. “Fuck,” you might say when you lose your keys, or stub your toe. “Fuck fuck fuck” you say when you run over your neighbour’s cat in a juggernaut, or forget to phone your mother. And, regardless, it’s something you mutter to yourself rather than express directly to another person, especially not the person involved in the disaster, especially not if that person is your mother.

You certainly don’t whisper it to me. Right? I mean, what could I do? “Ah, your ability to deploy the word fuck three times in a row has moved my heart of stone. I will abandon this group and fly immediately to your side.”

It’s kind of the equivalent of going up to somebody in a bar and asking if they’d let you buy them a drink. If they say “no, sorry” you respond with a smile and some generic reassurance that you’re not Jack the Ripper: “maybe some other time then,” or “enjoy your evening.” You don’t burst into tears and punch the wall.

Was that the end of it? The fact I’m still writing about it indicates not.

About five minutes later, he whispered me again: “So, you gonna heal, y or n?”

Now, my druid is a very nice cow. His hobbies are saving gazelles and eating picnics. He looks like he doesn’t have a bad word to say about anybody and, consequently, when I’m playing him, I’m a much kinder player. However, at that moment I channelled Tam, pure and simple:

“What part of ‘no sorry, I’m committed to another a group at the moment’ suggested to you the answer to that question might be yes?”

“Fuck,” he said, but at least only once this time.

“Same to you,” I offered, /ignoring.

But it kept happening. Different people, less fuck-happy folks, but every ten minutes or so: “U healer?” “Wanna heal [whatever]” and a constant stream of invites to groups without so much as a by your leave. Obviously I get occasional whispers for healz and when WotLK came out being the only healer in the village was a bit painful but nothing on this scale of epic and perpetual stupidity.

And, no, I wasn’t randomly on LFG. I checked.

Maybe it was National Harass Tam’s Alt Night.

But it made me really bloody grumpy.

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