standing at the back in my sissy robe

August 10, 2009

an open letter (I am the anti-Nim)

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Deathtards & Co.,UR Doing It Wrong — Tamarind @ 10:09 am

Dear Melee DPS (and, yes, Dicknight, that means you),

What in fuck’s name is wrong with you people?

Don’t stand in fire.

Don’t stand in green.

Don’t stand in mana-wee.

Don’t stand near whirlwind.

Don’t stand near bladestorm.

If the ground looks funny, don’t stand there.

Seriously, what is wrong with you? This is elementary WoW. Are you stupid or merely lazy?

Think about it. If you were going about your life and you looked down and suddenly saw you were standing in a circle of fire, and your clothes were starting to catch alight, and exposed portions of your skin were starting to blacken, would you keep on doing whatever it was you were doing?

Would you?

Whatever it was?

No. You wouldn’t. You just wouldn’t. This is not the Burning Times. You can get out of the fire.

Would you, moreover, expect a passing paramedic to start giving you emergency medical treatment while you whooped it up in the raging inferno?

Again. No. You wouldn’t. You just wouldn’t.

Ignorance, I can forgive. But when I specifically say at the beginning of the fight “please try not to stand in the [whatever]” you have no excuse.

Just plain fail, I can forgive again. I cannot count the occasions on which I have been so engrossed by healing that I haven’t noticed the enormous pool of death in which I’ve been standing. On the other hand, when I have noticed, I’ve moved, and bloody quickly.

What I can neither support, nor forgive, nor understand is what seems to me to be a resolute reluctance to undertake something as profoundly basic as NOT STANDING IN FUCKING FIRE.

I am trying to get into your head here – tiny, stultifying place though it is. And I only assume that your perspective on the matter is that you taking damage is not your problem, and that I ought to be man enough to heal you through it regardless.

Well, fuck you. With a rusty teaspoon.

To be honest, I usually can heal your moronic arse through it but why the fuck should I? Why should your selfish determination to make the game an order of magnitude easier for yourself make it an order of magnitude more difficult for me?

Quite frankly: you don’t deserve to live.

I am not wearying my mouse fingers to the bone grinding for epix in order to allow me to heal dribbling, syphilitic cockmonkeys like you through damage a touch of generosity and a smattering of common sense would allow you to avoid.

Unfortunately you kind of have me by the short and curlies here because there’s nothing I can do. I could stop healing you. And then you would die. But without the DPS to take down the big bad, probably the rest of us would die too. And whereas I’m pretty sure you’d take no responsibility for the wipe whatsoever (shitty healing, you’d say), I’d feel as guilty as hell about it.

I could, of course, refuse to group with you full stop.

But even though healers are moderately in demand, you are out in there in your multitudes. Attempting to put together a group for anything with only caster DPS would the height of silliness.

So yes. You have me. You win. But I hate you for it.

And one of these days I will snap, and respec shadow.

Yours at the end of his tether,
With loathing and contempt,
And certainly no hugs
Unless my arms were lined with poison-tipped spikes,

Tam

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August 4, 2009

glyphs and why they suck

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Soapbox,UR Doing It Wrong — Tamarind @ 10:32 am

In news unconnected to WoW. I think I might I have swine flu. I have a special number given to me by the special pandemic hotline (we have a pandemic hotline? Holy fuck!) in order that I may receive anti-swine flu medication from the government. I feel kind of bad, but not bad enough not to be bored. Also I wish it wasn’t called swine-flu. Firstly it sounds way over-dramatic (pigsniffles, if you please?) and secondly it sounds basically unhygienic. As if Fair Tamarind in pigsty lay… (poetry NSFW, and I assure you I’ve been doing absolutely NOTHING with pigs, or in pigsties). So you’ll have to forgive me if my comments sound like I’m stoned on anti-pigsniffle meds and my posts are a bit more unfocused than usual.

I’ve recently been on a glyphing spree and I’ve realised something.

So, glyphs right? I hates them, precious.

I am not, however, debating their utility. They are extremely useful. That’s kind of part of the problem. They are so unarguably, indisputably useful that you’re pretty much obliged to have them in order to play your class effectively. While you’re levelling, enchanting or gemming or any of that other stuff is a bonus. It’s nice if you can get it but since you go through gear so quickly anyway it’s not a necessity. But that’s not the case with glyphing. Not having the right glyph in place is the equivalent of not having spent a couple of talents points or having forgotten to visit a trainer (not that I ever do that, oh no, not at all, ahem). Whereas having a decent enchant or a gem is a fortuitous improvement, not having a glyph is actually a hindrance.

Glyphing is basically an arms race.

Every other holy priest with half a brain at my level has the glyph of Guardian Spirit. Thus they are a better a healer. And no matter how inspired, quick-moused or intelligent my healing may be, they still have a basic, mechanical advantage that I’d be a fool not to take for myself. So I have to have the glyph of Guardian Spirit.

What’s ostensibly in the game to give you a greater degree of choice and customisation, is, in practice, extremely restrictive. Basically all glyphs fall into one of the following categories:

Glyphs That Are So Useful You Can’t Not Have Them

For a holy priest, these would be the Glyph of Flash Heal, the Glyph of Renew, the Glyph of Prayer of Healing and the Glyph of Guardian Spirit. Ultimately which selection of them you have (oooh, mighty choice, 3 out of a possible 4, wow, I’m so glad for this increased customisation) is basically dependent on your playstyle, how you use renew, whether you’re single-target healing more, or AoE healing more, or if you’re neurotic about Guardian Spirit.

Glyphs That Would Be Nice But You Will Never Use Them Because of The Glyphs That Are So Useful You Can’t Not Have Them

So, for a holy priest, these might be something like the Glyph of Power Word: Shield (although this probably goes in category 1 if you’re a disc priest), or the Glyph of Inner Fire, or perhaps the Glyph of Circle of Healing. Again, it would be really nice if you could tweak your skills to suit your style but ultimately there’s no point giving yourself the Glyph of Inner Fire to make yourself more durable if you could instead give yourself a 10% mana reduction in your most used healing spell.

Glyphs That Remove a Regent Cost

I genuinely don’t see the point of these. I’ve got a couple because they tend to be minor glyphs and there’s rarely anything better to do with minor glyph slots. I’ve got the Glyph of Levitate for Tam which basically means I spend an inordinate amount of time standing on one leg in the air … because … well … why not? And I’ve got the Glyph of Unburdened Rebirth for my druid. But the availability of glyphs to remove the reagent cost of spells, especially when the reagent is readily available from vendors, seems to merely render said reagent cost pointless. If the fact the spell costs a reagent isn’t actually balancing anything (because if it was you wouldn’t let us remove it) why is there in the first place? Huh?

Special Occasion Glyphs

So that glyph of Fear Ward. Yes, it actually makes fear-ward semi-viable but how often, seriously, do you use fear ward? Enough to deny yourself a 10% mana reduction in your most used healing spell. Didn’t think so. I suppose these glyphs would be worth it if you were going into a fight, a raid maybe, in which your primary function was keeping a nasty de-buff from settling over the group. In which case possibly you’d temporarily replace a Useful Glyph with an Occasional Glyph, but you’ve still got the problem of what you’re going to replace.

Glyphs That Actually Make Your Class Less Interesting to Play

Hello Glyph of Swiftmend. Fancy seeing you here. This is the most egregious example I can think of. I love the way druid healing works. I love the fact it’s different to pally healing and different to priest healing. I love the carefully balanced ticking HoTs. What the Glyph of Swiftmend does is remove an interesting tactical decision and replace it with a bog standard, instant cast healing spell. Thanks Blizzard. But, again, you can’t not have it because a boring instant cast healing spell that doesn’t consume a heal over time effect is better than an interesting one that does. M’Pocket Tank’s lock informs me that the Glyph of Conflagrate is similar.

Glyphs That Are Completely Useless

Of which they are too many. Glyph of Fade anybody? I’m sorry but if the tank didn’t get what was attacking off you the first time round, being able to cast fade again more quickly won’t help. You’ll need the Glyph of Not Having A Tank That Sucks. Or there’s the Glyph of Drain Soul which gives you something like a 1% chance of getting an extra soul shard sometimes. Woot! Or what about the Glyph of Consecrate – the glyph that makes one of your primary abilities fit less well into your rotation.

Minor Glyphs that are Disproportionately Useful

So you have our friend the Glyph of Fade which reduces the cool down on something that you shouldn’t have to use more than once per fight anyway. Compare that to its precocious little brother the Glyph of Fading, which reduces the mana cost of fade that one time you use it. Not only is this actually better than the major glyph but it’s better than quite a lot of other minor glyphs. Given the choice of being able to stand on one leg for no apparent reason whenever the whim takes me and my 1-off emergency button costing me less mana, I know which wins my vote.

Ultimately I think glyphs just don’t fit comfortably with the way we play WoW, and the way WoW is designed to be played. Essentially each class has a relatively narrow core of primarily abilities on which they rely, surrounded by a much wider selection they use on specific occasions. Naturally glyphs which buff the former are fundamentally better than glyphs which buff the latter. It doesn’t help that Blizzard doesn’t seem as though its been able to settle on the function of minor glyphs. Currently they range from the absurdly pointless (yes, please, improve my Eye of Kilrog!) to the pleasing but cosmetic (I love you penguin!) to the actually genuinely useful (ah, my old friend, glyph of fading). Either they have to be purely cosmetic or purely functional. You can’t balance one against the other because although players love customisation and will go to great lengths to attain what you might call luxury glyphs ultimately the nature of the game means utility will always trump aesthetics.

As for major glyphs. I think we’re just fucked.

I will say this though. There is one major glyph I like. It’s the Glyph of Fireball. This removes the DoT effect of your fireball spell but ups the crit chance by 5%. I think this offers you a genuinely interesting tactical proposition, but not such an overwhelming advantage that you cannot be a fire mage without it. The glyphed fireball does less damage overall but if you’re reliant on crits for procs then it’s a sound investment. It just depends how you’ve specced your fire mage.

Isn’t it this kind of thing that glyphs were meant to do?

August 2, 2009

this will be my mousterpiece

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Real Men Wear Purple — Tamarind @ 6:06 pm

The thing about running regularly with a guild is that it makes you think about the stuff you’re actually ostensibly there for, in my case standing at the back in my sissy robe (healing). Although on the subject of sissy robes, despite the fact the one I have is blatantly rubbish I’m loathe to let it go because, unlike every other robe in Northrend, it is not black, black like my soul, black like my coffee, black like a teenage goth’s bedroom. It’s. Um. Mostly black. And, in the right light, if you’re feeling generous, purple. Not the kind of glaring beacon of purple-ness Blizzard has led me to expect, more a sort of bruise-coloured indigo. But, holy fuck, it’s a colour, and I’m not knocking it.

[Mournful edit: woe, woe and thrice woe upon the House of Tamarind. Since writing the above I have been obliged to replace the robe with a new robe. And guess what that looks like. Sigh.]

Recently, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into my healing (which I shall relate in excruciatingly detail later, be assured) but the long and the short of it is I’ve been experimenting with more mouse-click centric healing. It’s going quite well except for one minor drawback.

My mouse is shite.

Except, no, that shouldn’t be the case. My mouse is average. It’s a 4-button, not bog standard but not top of the range either, kind of mouse. I’m not really up on mouses, since a mouse is the sort of thing I invest in only when the current model has died and been pulled back from the brink so many times it might as well be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I, therefore, had trouble when I went out to purchase Microsoft Shite Mouse 3000 because mouse technology had, of course, swept into the future, leaving this luddite wringing his hands and saying things like “but don’t want it to be cordless, mouses have cords.” Also, perhaps this is another sad example that I may be turning into my mother, but I don’t believe a mouse should cost one over £30. Not unless it is made of solid gold, calls you darling and gives you regular foot massages.

Anyway, the drawback of the Microsoft Shite Mouse 3000 is that, although it comes equipped with a reassuring cord and is basically functional, WoW only deigns to recognise 2 out of its 4 buttons. To be fair, they’re the important two, but still. The 3rd button, which lurketh beneath the mouse wheel, it remembers exists maybe 66% of the time. This does not a happy healer make. In fact, it’s worse than the button just not working at all because part of you believes that if you can just make it function enough of the time, this will somehow, miraculously lead to it working all the time. So instead of concentrating on healing a fight you’re fingering your mouse like you’re trying to find its G-spot. Harder? Softer? Change of angle? Different finger? What if I flex my wrist like this?

This is just the sort of trivial technological setback I find disproportionately irritating because it’s basically insoluble. There are few sensible things you can try, and each potential solution lulls you into believing that this’ll be the thing that sorts the problem out, but, after a while, you just get completely and helplessly stuck. I mean, I’m not a mouse whisperer. It’s not the sort of technical problem you can demand Blizzard or Microsoft fix for you. You can’t even take your computer down to Dodgy Dave The Laptop Fiddler to see what he can do about it.

So I did everything I could think of to deal with the problem in WoW. And I did everything I could think of to deal with the problem with the mouse software. And then I sat there, growling.

There was the computer.

There was the mouse.

There were buttons 3 and 4.

There was World of Warcraft.

Why won’t you believe in each other? For fuck’s sake, it’s RIGHT THERE. THE BUTTON IS RIGHT THERE. Gah! No, I don’t want you to bring up a magnification window. No, I don’t want to invert the mouse. Come on, this is perfectly simple. Mouse, meet Rosamunde, she’s my laptop. Rosie, this is Microsoft Shite Mouse 3000. Rosie enjoys over-heating, running out of memory and scanning for malware when I’m trying to instance. Microsoft Shite Mouse 3000 enjoys making me tear my hair out by the roots. You two should get along beautifully. Rosise, MSSM3k, this is 4th Button: I don’t know what 4th button enjoys because neither of you will talk to him.

It makes me suspect the problem was not technological but philosophical. We started from first principles and, although my mouse now knows it thinks, therefore it is, it still doesn’t believe it has a fourth button in World of Warcraft.

Why, in the name of God, why?!

Anyway, I now have a new mouse. And it has caused me precisely ZERO trouble.

Excuse me, I have take the Microsoft Shite Mouse 3000 out back, where I will be hitting it with a hammer.

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 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.

July 20, 2009

North & South?

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Diversions — Tamarind @ 11:20 am

There’s been a fair few posts around here recently about What It Means To Be Horde and What It Means To Be Alliance. I’ve been thinking about it myself, recently, having for the first time in my WoW playing life, jumped to the other side of the fence, although I’ve been thinking about it in a slightly different context.

There are, of course, stereotypes about the sort of people who play Alliance and the sort of people who play Horde (which reminds me, I must level Genericus, Male, Human, Warrior!). The Horde apparently attracts people who like to root for the underdog and, it has been argued, more “mature” players. I do find myself wondering what this means – the sort of people who get a kick out of being evil are often not renowned for their, err maturity. I’m not saying it’s not a whole lot of fun to occasionally play the Machievel, especially in safe spaces like virtual worlds and computer games. But, ultimately, in the sweet bosom of Prentendlandia, wanting to be the hero or wanting to be the villain are both, I would argue, neutral propositions, there’s nothing more inherently sophisticated in wanting to be either. And I often suspect people who make a deal out of their attraction for the darker end of the spectrum have a tendency to believe that doing so makes them somehow cooler and deeper than their shiny shield sporting cousins.

One of the things I like about Azeroth is the fact that most of the races are, to an extent, morally ambiguous – the Night Elves fucked up the entire world, for God’s sake. The humans enslaved the orcs. The orcs are psychotic warmongers. And there wouldn’t be the Forsaken if it wasn’t for Arthas. Sometimes, when you play a game, you just want to feel like a hero. And, sometimes, you just want to be pretty. And sometimes you just want to be green (even though it isn’t easy, spending each day the colour of the leaves). It’s more than a little foolish to make assumptions about players based on the caprice of their inclinations.

But what I’m wondering at the moment is this: is there really an Alliance/Horde divide? Is it primarily social? Are there are different expectations of Alliance players, than Horde? Does the fact that the Alliance are nominally “the good guys” mean Alliance players are nicer to each other than Horde ones. Or is this entirely spurious?

Having only played Horde previously, I am genuinely finding the Alliance side of things a bit of a culture shock. On Emerald Dream, Alliance outnumbers the Horde 3:1. I used to think Org on a Saturday afternoon was carnage but it’s nothing compared to Iron Forge on a regular weekday evening. The first thing I saw when my tiny level 8 dorf staggered through the enormous gates was a six mammoth gangbang outside the bank. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a gangbang. Maybe they were just playing Twister. But it was still a sight to be seen. The thing is, I still stare a bit, Horde side, when I see ONE mammoth lumbering past, let alone SIX of the things.

But it’s not just the sheer volume, it goes deeper than that. In a bizarre way, it reminds me of the differences between Northern and Southern England. Stick with me here. This point is going somewhere.

Y’see, I hail from a pretty depressed area up in the far Northeast. I’m so working class that there’s still a part of me that believes Vienetta is the height of gastronomic sophistication. Before I came to university, the furthest South I’d ever been was York, and that was only on a school visit to the Viking Centre. I got off the train with the going-to-university-equivalent of all my worldly possessions stuffed into a red spotted handkerchief knotted on the end of a stick. I had a broad Northern accent that occasionally, helplessly, slipped into dialect. I thought ‘epitome’ was pronounced epee + tome, and that façade had a hard ‘c’. Don’t even ask what I did to Foucault and Nietzsche.

The worst of it was, I wasn’t entirely sure I was in Kansas any more, Toto. There was something subtly different here, and it had to do with the people. They didn’t talk to each other. They didn’t smile. They didn’t share newspapers or help each other with crosswords on public transport. If you held open a door for them, they eyed you suspiciously as they went through, tense and scowling as if they expected you were going to slam it in their face and laugh. Even the way friends interacted was different. Definitely no touching. No sharing of food. Up in the North, if you’re eating, or drinking, something good, the thing to do is load up your fork with a hefty sample and stick it in your companion’s mouth. Offer somebody a morsel from your plate in the south and they’ll leap away from you like you’ve offered them a dead rat on a stick. A dead rat on a stick with cooties.

I’ve been an honorary southern prick for over 8 years now. My accent is all but gone, except for my ‘a’s and, if I can think about it in time, I can paaaaarrrth and baaaaaaarth with the best of them. I know how to pronounce, and deploy, all manner of poncy polysyllable words (would you like fries with your weltanschauung?). I’m glad to report, though, that there’s been an element of cross-fertilization the other way though. M’friendship circle is a huggy bunch. And when we go out to dinner it’s a veritable forest of waving forks. I talk with strangers far more than the average southerner, and I’m much much nicer to American tourists. On the other hand, I was surprised at how deep the changes had gone.

The last time I went back North, which was a while ago because I am basically Pip from Great Expectations, I was, standing at the bus stop and the old-woman-in-a-headscarf (this is very North-eastern, the fashions for southern old women seem to have bypassed the trusty headscarf) next to me, nodded, smiled and said: “Afternoon pet.” I nearly jumped under the wheels of a passing motor vehicle, I was so shocked. This stranger. Was talking to me. Me! What did she want? Was this some kind of trick to get me lower to my guard? WHAT WAS WRONG WITH HER?

And then I remembered: in a small town in North-eastern England, it was perfectly normal, indeed expected, behaviour. I was the antisocial weirdo here, not her.

Horde-side Emerald Dream is the south. People who don’t know each other are generally suspicious. They rarely talk unless they have to. Mainly they’re getting on with their own business, and think you should mind your own. Nobody will go out of their way to screw you over and if you were in terrible trouble somebody might help you but mainly we’re playing WoW like we’re on the London Underground. Sitting in our seats not looking at anyone in case, ye gods and little fishies, a stranger should take into it his head to acknowledge the existence of the other human beings around him. AND THEN WHERE WOULD WE BE?! THE THIN END OF THE WEDGE I TELL YOU.

Alliance-side though. Talk talk talk talk talk. And not just on the channels. People in the actual world have spoken to me. What is this madness? This strange white text floating above your head? The other day a gnome, called Deathbygnome which I thought was cute, scampered by.

“Hi :),” he said.

“Uh.” I said, “Hello.”

“How are you?” he asked.

“Fine,” I said, trying to repress my inner Southerner who was practically in tears of terror. “Good. How are you?”

“Great,” thrilled Deathbygnome, bouncing up and down happily. And then he buffed me, and was gone.

Not long after, three of the members of the Dwarvish Gentlmen’s Club ran into a pretty girl dwarf hunter on the path to Iron Forge. Needless to say they were thrilled. A filly! What what! So we danced at each other. For ages. It actually got kind of socially embarrassing after a bit. I mean how long can four dwarves keep dancing? Finally admitted she had to get on “wif stuff”, thanked us for dancing with her, waved and headed off.

Maybe I’ve been hanging out in the wrong places but that would never happen Horde-side.

It’s not just the talking, though. I’ve partied with randoms more in four days of being a dorf than I have in my entire life of wearing a sissy robe. All easy, low level quests, made easier by having two, or more, but perfectly simple to solo.

Horde-side, we only group if we absolutely have to in order to complete the quest. We’d rather wait for respawns or get in each other’s way than party. Horde players actually regularly quest-ninja other Hordies. Gah!

Alliance Barrens Chat the other night went something like this:

Random: I love WoW!!!

Next Random: me too!

Next Random: Me too!

Next Random: And me!

Next random: yay!

Nobody called anybody a noob, the response I’m pretty a pretty certain a similar spontaneous outpouring of enthusiasm would garner on a Horde-side channel.

Obviously these observations are only drawn from my experiences of the game (and not so many of those!); I’m not suggesting we draw conclusions about the The Way Things Are from them.

But … is it just me?

Or is it always like this?

Are Hordies basically a bunch of wankers?

I have to say though. I’m still a Northerner at heart, and this brave new Alliance world attracts me. Not enough to abandon my sissy robe, of course. Never that.

All the same … anybody fancy a Vienetta?

July 18, 2009

You can’t take my tree from me

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Soapbox — Tamarind @ 2:49 pm

There’s been quite a lot of talk recently about potential changes to druid shifting. Having only recently embraced my inner-tree I’m surprised at how emotionally invested I feel in, well, being a tree. Normally, I’m not that into druid-shifting, to tell the truth, which is a stupid thing to say when somewhere along the line I chose to play a fucking druid.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I’m really into the kind of shifting that the developers seem to want to move more comprehensively towards. I’m into … I don’t know quite what to call it … utility-shifting I suppose. Less for the utility, though, than the aesthetic. It makes me genuinely feel like a druid. You know, when you’re running for the boat to Booty Bay and the bell is ringing and a bunch of level 80s Allies are sneering at you from the deck and you know you’re going to miss it and they’re all going to laugh at you and you’re wondering, shit, should I get on my mount or will that just waste time … and then you remember, and you hit travel form and suddenly you’re a speeding leopard and, dammit, you’re on that boot. Oh yeah! And ya boo sucks to you, Alliance. Or when you’re somewhere really pretty like Ashzara or Stranglethorn Vale and you stumble across some moonlit pool in some forgotten glade. And then you can turn into a walrus and splash about happily in it, with the silver moonlight gleaming on your silver tusks (sorry, that’s a Dragonlance injoke). My cow loves being a walrus. No idea why, it’s just one of his little hobbies.

It’s that sort of stuff makes me feel like a druid, in the way being a cat, or a bear, or a fucking moonthing doesn’t. But I don’t actually think it’s connected to the way the shifting mechanic works, I think it’s just sheer flavouring. But then I also think that maybe it’s the flavouring that tends to make the different overall. What, after all, is meat without salt. So, ultimately, I’m not certain that trying to make the major forms work in a less “I’ll just spend my entire time in this dungeon being a bear” way is the answer but, hey, getting wound up about impending changes that may or may not happen is a mug’s game. And I have Arthas: Rise of the Lich King to shred… or I would, if I hadn’t let go and moved on.

Mind you, it’s also about what you turn into. I’m glad they’re customising the forms a bit (and, hurrah, not making cow-cat form look like arse, thank you Blizzard!) because that, for me, has always been one of the major irritations of druid shifting. I suppose the fact that once you get into progression raiding and everyone looks the same anyway, it dents the impact a bit but while you’re levelling you often look different to other people and that’s great. You are a unique and special snowflake. Cowflake. Whatever. But having to spend a large portion of your time as a bear that looks exactly the same as every other bear is, well, just a bit disappointing. Especially if the blue Trousers Of Not Looking Like They Shrunk In The Wash have just dropped.

The exception to this, for me, is tree of life. I just love being a tree. I think it’s utterly absurd but perhaps that’s why I love it. I’m often a tree when I don’t have to be a tree, just for the sheer delight of being a tree. I don’t think I’m ever going to lose my appreciation for the sheer incongruity of it. Tree, checking its mail. Tree, in the AH. Tree, just chillin in Org. Tree! They always give me the impression of being quite stressy. I think it’s the waving branches and the anxious way they waddle around. Oh noes, someone is taking damage! Action tree!

Okay, this post, which was meant to be a quickie, devolved very rapidly into random thoughts on druid shifting. But the point of it was: having recently, err, gone tree (how on earth do you express that? Got wood? Maybe not), it has crystallised for me, once and for all, how much I fucking hated moonthing form and how glad I am never to have to be a stupid, shambling slightly overweight, moon-bear-owl-thing again. Ever.

In my neck of the woods we call it Brian Blessed Form. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brian Blessed. I think he’s a great man, and a fine actor, and I wish him well. But I don’t want to be him. No matter what he does to my critical strike chance. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Here, I shall prove it by means of a simple pictorial demonstration:

While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 370% and all party and raid members within 45 yards have their spell critical chance increased by 5%. Single target spell critical strikes in this form have a chance to instantly regenerate 2% of your total mana.

While in this form the armor contribution from items is increased by 370% and all party and raid members within 45 yards have their spell critical chance increased by 5%. Single target spell critical strikes in this form have a chance to instantly regenerate 2% of your total mana.

IS THERE ANY MAN IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER???

IS THERE ANY MAN IN ROME WHO HAS NOT SLEPT WITH MY DAUGHTER???

I rest my case.

July 16, 2009

flogging a dead horse

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Diversions — Tamarind @ 9:56 am

Okay, I promise, I promise I’m going to leave Arthas: The Rise of Lich King alone. Any day now. Any … day … now …

I think I must have been badly traumatised by both its madness and its comically negative impact on my life because, for some reason, I just can’t stop picking at it. But since it’s a scab on the skinned knees of fiction, I suppose that’s fair enough.

I just want to share one more line before I set it on fire (since nobody wants it – but whyyyy? Did I fail to sell it to you somehow). Now, y’know Illidan Stormrage, right? Fantastically cool looking, half-mad, eyeless, demonic night elf. The betrayer, although it was he who was betrayed? The Lord of Outland? He for whom we are not prepared? That guy?

Well, would you ever write this about him: “Sweat gleamed on his massive, lavender-hued torso.” I’m okay with the sweat, I’m okay with the massive, I’m okay with the torso but what the fuck is with the lavender. LAVENDER? Illidan Stormrage is LAVENDER? Lavender is the colour of Grandmas. It is the colour of pot pourri. It is the colour of bath oil. It is in no way the colour of a fantastically cool looking, half-mad, eyeless, demonic night elf.

Goddamn you Christie Golden, is there anything else you’d like to WRECK around here?

Why don’t you take Darth Vadar and make him a whiny emo teenager…oh wait, somebody’s already done that.

Putting aside (for the moment, if it’s even possible) my accumulating rage and bile, I think the other problem I had when I was reading Arthas: Rise of the Lich King was that I found it quite hard to let go of the game behind it, if that makes sense. I couldn’t quite suspend my disbelief. Now, I know that’s my own problem, but I suspect part of the reason behind it was the general awfulness of the book making me most unwilling to give it an inch, let alone start dangling my disbelief over a dark chasm of doom.

But it did make for some unintentionally comic moments.

Like this:

Book: [9 year old] Arthas flipped back the hood of his beautifully embroidered red runecloth cap
My brain: Hey, wait a minute, there’s no way Arthas is high level enough to wear runecloth

Book: He had thought he found well with his blessed hammer, now lying discarded and forgotten in the icy vault where Frostmourne had once been imprisoned but it was nothing to the damage he dealt now.
My brain: Well Frostmourne is clearly a legendary weapon, isn’t it? The hammer was probably only a blue.

Book: The dancer, a shaman by the name of Kamiku, missed a step and his hoof struck awkwardly.
My brain: *imagines the cow dance*

And once you go down that route, you can just run with it and run with it and run with it…

The herd of shoveltusk huddled together for warmth, their thick, shaggy coats protecting them from the worst of the storm. But not the group of PCs who charged in and randomly slaughtered them all, even though they were yellow.

Or like this…

Arthas strode down the cobbled streets of Stormwind, the air ringing with the cry of a thousand traders: WTS: Eternal Fire, cheaper than on AH!

And again…

The words died in his throat as Mal’Gannis began to shimmer and whirl in a familiar pattern. “No!” Arthas shrieked. He surged forward, blindly, recklessly, and would have been cut down in a heartbeat had the teleportation spell been completed. Arthas cried out incoherently, swinging his faintly glowing hammer at empty air. “I’ll hunt you down to the ends of the earth if I have to! Do you hear me? To the ends of the earth!” Manic, raging, screaming, he swung his hammer wildly at nothing until sheer exhaustion alone forced him to lower it. He propped it up and leaned on it, sweating, shaking with raw sobs of frustration and anger. “WTB port Northrend!” he howled.

And even…

“This entire city must be purged.”
Arthas’s statement was blunt and brutal. Jaina blinked. Surely he hadn’t meant that.
“How can you even consider that?” Uther cried, marching up to his former student. “Do it at 80, noob!”

Okay. For the sake of my sanity, and yours, I’m stepping way from Arthas now. I’m stepping away…

July 13, 2009

pursuit remembered

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin — Tamarind @ 12:26 am

He’s been picking at his blog again, despite having all the artistic talent of a colour-blind longneck grazer (after it’s been shot) and CSS skills to match. If something isn’t working, is overlapping where it shouldn’t be, looks a bit funny on your browser or is generally making you eyes bleed, please for the love of everything let me know.

You know, I’m a bit ‘feh’ about the Nesingwary quests in Northrend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy to be in Sholazar Basin (even if I am stranded in a tuxedo), the zone is absolutely gorgeous and lots of the quests are typical Nesingwary fare (SHOOT THEM ALL, OLD BOY!). I’ve always been a big fan of the Nesingwary quest chains because first of all they’re a lovely distillation of the core WoW gameplay of going to x and killing y, but also because there’s a glorious element of gigglesome incongruity about them. I mean, you roll up to some zone in which there’s the usual array of semi-serious quests going on, evil voodoo trolls or angry nagas in STV, great big chunks o’lore in Nagrand, and right in the middle of it all there’s a group of clueless, pseudo-Victorian maniacs charging about shootin stuff for kicks. Tally ho! What what!

And I like it because you get sucked into it against your better judgement, and you end up having a stupid amount of fun, again, against your better judgement.

I mean, the Nesingwary lot are utterly obnoxious, there’s no way round that, in this sublimely parodic Great White Hunter way. And maybe I read too much into it but I always thought there was a degree to which we were meant to see them as, well, blithering morons, and Nesingwary as the self-styled Greatest Hunter in the World, rather than the actual greatest hunter in the world, if that makes sense. I mean, whenever you found them, they always seemed supremely unaware of the very real danger surrounding them, and one of them was always on the brink of death anyway, either having been gored by a wild beast or having caught the equivalent of jungle fever. But, of course, they’d always pull through, to meet up with you again later, oblivious, in the way, I’m sure, many clueless, over-privileged Victorian imperialists were.

But in Sholazar Basin it’s almost like the game has partially forgotten its own joke. For a start, despite having crashed their dirigible, they seem slightly more competent than usual. Rather than being three nutters in tents accompanied only by their trusty manservant, there’s a whole settlement of them, including shopkeepers, scientists and heaven knows what else. They’ve even come with their own inn for God’s sake. I suppose it could partially be accounted for by increasing fame and fortune, and interpreted as the equivalent as parasols and tiffin, but it just validates their wacky behaviour in a way that detracts from the fun of it.

The whole the zone seems set up FOR Nesingwary, rather than having him comically gatecrash an already fully functional area. The quests that aren’t directly connected to him are ever madder (the Frenzy Hearts) and the business on the outskirts with the Scourge breaking in (presumably to remind you that this is Serious and Epic, in case you were in danger of ever forgetting) only emphasizes the distance (metaphorically speaking) of this zone from the rest of the Northrend. And the idea of a Nesingwary-themed zone feels a bit odd to me – it’s not as if Africa only existed for Great White Hunters to pop over there, shoot shit and steal shit.

Possibly I’m over-thinking things. Who? Me? Over-thinking? Never.

But why isn’t hunting mammoths in Icecrown or whatever?

Oh wait, would the comedy guy detract from the epic, man, epic?

Sorry, I’m turning into an increasingly bitter old fart aren’t I? But Nesingwary always felt, weirdly, real to me, despite being primarily played for lulz. It creates a sense that Azeroth is a world in which stuff happens and other people exist – and some of those people just want to go places and shoot things. Having him essentially put in his own little box in Northrend contributes to the sense of linearity I find so dissatisfying.

July 7, 2009

Blowin cold in Northrend

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Real Men Wear Purple,Sweets for the Sweet — Tamarind @ 11:39 am

M’Pocket Tank and I are losing focus again.  We’re running out of ways to level that don’t involve, err, doing the content in Northrend

I’ve read quite a few blog posts lately about burnout, passion for WoW and maintaining enthusiasm for the game.  My relationship with WoW, well, it’s fucked up.  I don’t mean for it to be, but it is.

I blow hot, I blow cold, I’m crazy about her, I’m bored of her, I love her cute li’ll flaws, her flaws drive me up the wall.  I don’t think she’s interested in pleasing me any more, I think we’re growing apart, I don’t like her new look, I preferred the way she was back in 2007, I think she’s seeing other players behind my back, I suspect she wants to be more hardcore. I want to break up, I want to get back together, I think we should get married, she’s ruining my life.

I’m a damn tyrant.  No wonder her log-in servers are always on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

I also think there’s real love underneath it all, but surely that’s what all abusers tell themselves in order to justify their behaviour.

God, I’m sorry WoW.  I’m really really sorry.  Maybe we should see a relationship counsellor, help us work through some stuff?

But, anyway, Northrend is driving me into one of my enthusiasm troughs.   And I think we’ve reached the limit of instances we can 2-man as well.  They’re either too easy, which is boring, or basically impossible, which is sad.  I should quickly add: by “too easy”, I don’t mean the problem is with the instances themselves, I mean the problem lies with us.  We tried to compensate for there only being 2 of us by being over-level but I think we went too far and, although the mobs aren’t grey yet, instancing has fallen off the delicate knife-edge of challenging in the ballpit of undemanding.  Sorry, that’s a horrendously mixed metaphor.  Why there would a knife balanced on the edge of a ballpit, I have no idea.

As you might expect from healer and tank ruling the universe together, our survivability is incredible but our DPS is piffling.

We attempted The Shadow Labyrinth because, well, err, because Salvànus told us not to (*blush* that was a red flag there, I’m afraid) and we were fine until we hit Grandmaster Vorpil.  First of all it took us a while to notice the voidwalkers were healing him (d’oh) and then we simply didn’t have enough DPS to take out them out.  I have since concluded it would probably be possible for us to kite him since the voidies are so slow, and concentrate on taking them out only when he teleports us back the centre of the room.

But if we really want to rule the world, we need a DPS.  Someone as frivolous as us.  Preferably with onboard sheeping, for the lulz.

*tumbleweed*

I feel a bit of an arse saying I don’t like levelling in Northrend.  I’m not, as such, complaining about it but I find a lot of the quests really rather irritating.  The thing is, WoW quests – well, they have a bad reputation, and it’s semi-deserved.  In the Old World, they’re all of the “go here, do that” variety and if you’re really lucky “go here” is a direction you have some hope of following instead of “go to the cave to the east” (riiiight, to the east you say?).   There is usually an attempt to contexualise the quests and give them at least a façade of meaning.  Kill the terrible plainstriding chickens that are threatening our village.   I would like to make gorilla entrail soup.  Whatever.

Some of them are better done than others.  I think we all have our favourite questlines, perhaps because they have, in spite of the limitations of the medium, a great story attached (Hillsbrad, for example) or because you get to kill things that are particularly satisfying to kill (pirates, the Scarlet Crude, or dinosaurs!).  But the point is you either like, or at least accept, that style of quest or you don’t.  And, if you don’t, you’re probably not playing WoW.  What are you doing reading this blog?

Maybe it’s just Nostalgia Glasses but I’m pretty fond of Outland.  I think they did a good job of mixing it up a bit.  Most of the quests seem really nicely contexualised and I genuinely felt like I’d joined a war effort, in which my involvement was important.  The handful of vehicle-quests, disguise-yourself-as-a-whatever-quests and dig-around-in-some-poo-for-cheap-laughs quests provide just enough variety to keep things novel and interesting.

But in Northrend all the quests seem to be like that and the game is so desperate to involve you in epic content that it feels as though you might as well have stayed at home polishing your glowing brightwood staff.  One of the most egregious example of this that  I can think of at short notice is the bloody Ruby Dragonshrine.  On one level, it’s really exciting, with dying dragons falling out of the sky and everything, but the quests are not so much “Save the Ruby Dragonshrine” (by killing x numbers of y) as “Save the Ruby Dragonshrine” (by watching the NPCs kill x numbers of y).

I know it seems like a silly distinction but I think it falls into the uncanny valley of verisimilitude.  When you’re questing in WoW, you suspend on your disbelief.  You know everything will respawn the second your back is turned and you know that killing x numbers of y won’t really save the Ruby Dragonshrine.  But it’s easy enough to convince yourself it’s All About You because you did, after all, kill x numbers of y.  Go you.  Never mind that 11 million other people are doing exactly the same thing. But if you have to join a random mob of NPCs, it diminishes your impact and it’s harder to pretend you made a difference.

It seems like every other quest in Northrend either involves a vehicle, an annoying NPC, an annoying group of NPCS, or a pointless doohickey.  I appreciate variety, I really do, but it’s getting to the point where the the actual player is getting less and less important.  I want it to be about me and my awesomeness, not the vehicle, or the NPC, or the doohickey.

But, to give its due, Northrend does occasionally pull it out the bag.  All the messed up quests from the Royal Apothecary (extract dorf brains!) are a huge heap of fun.  Killing Vikings never gets old. And because Tam is a filthy cow fetishist I’ve been insisting on helping out the Taunka at every possible opportunity.

Also we’ve just completed the murloc questline which is a little piece of genius.  I’m not mad keen on disguise quests because they’re always basically “replace your cool customised character with a generic dodgy man in a moustache.”   It’s less problematic for M’Pocket Tank because she’s always a hot chick but every male disguise in WoW appears to be constructed from a do-it-yourself 1970s porn star kit.  Thanks Blizzard.

But run around in an obviously hand-sewn murloc costume?  With a zip up the back and button eyes.  And a white flag.  ANY DAY OF THE FUCKING WEEK! Gimme, gimme, gimme.

By the way, did anybody else dance in their murloc suit?  Best thing ever.

And as for rescuing baby murlocs.  Getting twenty of them to follow you around, gurling and hopping.  I squealed like a girl.  I didn’t want to give them back.  Not my baby murlocs ! They are my baby murlocs now.

But, y’know, one can hardly take an army of tadpoles into battle against the Lich king.

Although if anything would recall him to his lost humanity it would be a platoon of gurgling baby murlocs.

SQUEEEEEEE!

Ahem.  Red meat.  Beer.  Black and Decker.

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