standing at the back in my sissy robe

August 5, 2009

Tamarind does not see the point of needles cougars

Filed under: D'oh,Sweets for the Sweet,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 9:22 am
Come Pointlesswing, to the skies!

Come Pointlesswing, to the skies!

Meet Pointlesswing and Needlesstail, two loaned wind riders from the dodgy second hand mount dealer in K3.

Pointlesswing goes very well uphill if you get out and push.

The problem is … the problem is … they have names now.

And I’m totally convinced that the dodgy goblin mount dealer is going to take Pointlesswing to the knackers as soon as I hand him back.

Needlesstail is from The Thousand Needles. We know this because there are Needless Cougars all over that place.

(Yes, yes, I know, they’re Needles Cougars, not Needless Cougars, but I’ve been mis-reading their name since I was a small cow and it’s an in-joke that’s stuck).

M’Pocket Tank wants her very own, non totally generic flyer so she’s going to take Needlesstail to The Thousand Needles and destroy the harness, which we think will symbolically represent releasing him, in his dotage, into the wild.

But, well, I can’t bear to part company with Pointlesswing. He may have a list to the right, gout, a dickey heart and only one tooth but, dammit, he has spirit, he has zest, he has verve. We’ve been fighting the Scourge in Icecrown together. He has as much right to take the fight to Arthas (slowly, very very slowly) than any young wippersnapper of a proto-drake.

Ways I have died in the vicinity of Pointlesswing:

1) Forgetting I was on foot
2) Summoning my chicken by accident and then leaping off cliffs
3) Dismounting in mid-air
4) Being shot off his back by a variety of allies, vrykul and scourge siege weaponry
5) Soaring blithely out of his licensed zones
6) Attempting to do funky things with levitate – now it has no reagent cost – and failing. Badly.

More to come, I’m sure.

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August 3, 2009

Holy Priest Tanks Dragon!

Filed under: D'oh,Real Men Wear Purple,UR Doing It Wrong — Tamarind @ 11:32 am

Hmmm…bad choice of headline I think, since the story is much less interesting than the concept. I believe that’s what the Earl of Rochester would term imperfect enjoyment (blowing one’s load too early). Annnyway….

I ran Ramps Heroic with my guild, basically for the lulz and the practice. M’Pocket Tank was away in Cambridge so I was healing a DK tank (well, if you’re in different collegiate universities it doesn’t count, right?). He was significantly squishier than M’Pocket Tank and had made some questionable spec decisions (no toughness?!!), added to the fact that I’m so accustomed to the rhythms of healing M’Pocket Tank that learning a new tune can be a pretty fraught initially. It was one of those incremental-learning runs I find so satisfying. And in terms of the diplomatic / political aspects of running with guildies, having the guild leader with us was very helpful indeed in that I was tactics-guy and she was “please don’t do that stupid thing again” girl, which meant I didn’t have to worry about alienating people with my outrageous demands, like following kill order and letting the tank pull. We died more times than a group of 70s has any right to, but we learned and we improved and eventually we triumphed.

The final fight was … shall … we say … unorthodox.

When Nazran came down, he went straight for the healer – as is his wont – and the tank just couldn’t get him off me. I’ve no idea what he was doing, but I tried everything, fading, running towards the tank, everything. The thing is, I don’t know what you’re meant to do when you’re a healer under those circumstances. If you’re DPS, it’s obvious. You stop DPSing and hope for rescue. But it’s not like I can just stop healing. Anyway, in a state of panic, I threw up the usual protections, kept up a steady stream of healing on myself and did my damndest not to stand in fire.

And, of course, the best way to do this when he’s right in your face is to kite Nazran round in a circle. I died when he was on about 2% health, and then the DPS finished him off. And then I realised that, apart from a bit of splash damage, everybody else was absolutely fine.

I had, entirely inadvertently, tanked the drake.

Holy priest tanking! It’s gonna be the next big thing!

The DK, who’s basically the loveliest guy, apologised after. But the next time he makes me tank a boss, he’s healing, dammit.

The other thing I learned from this experience is that tanking = fucking terrifying. I’ve done a bit of tanking but at much lower levels. And maybe it’s different if you’re in a full set of spiky macho platemail but if you’re a skinny guy in a sissy robe who’d much rather be standing at the back and instead you’ve got an enormous, black, bat-winged drake right in your face spewing fire, well, yes, I found it genuinely traumatic. Bosses look considerably less scary when you’re standing behind them, some distance away and somebody else is whacking them in the face.

Disconnected update on Queen Susan’s Guardian Spirit. The glyph has helped the situation considerably but I’ve uncovered yet another problem with Guardian Spirit. Casting it makes you feel like you’ve done something. This is actually lethal. Because obviously what you need to do is keep healing. Perhaps it’s the happy little wings or something but casting GS feels so much like having solved the problem that I tend to chill out completely instead of following up. ARGH! Can I never win?

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 21, 2009

Belgium, man, Belgium

Filed under: D'oh,Sweets for the Sweet — Tamarind @ 11:45 am

WoW, of course, has its vocabulary of obscenity, the most expressive and sublimely onomatopoeic of which is this: Swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad.

It is, of course, the helpless and heartfelt cry of someone typing obliviously in chat when something goes wrong.

You say it when somebody is carefully explaining the tactics of the next boss and you look up from the chat window to discover you’ve walked whistling right into his mouth: Swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad.

It’s the sound you make as you careen, full tilt, over a cliff with the auto-run key depressed. In which case it, naturally, gets softer and softer and softer as you spiral away to your inevitable doom, dashed on the jagged rocks below: Swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad.

It’s the curse that flies from your lips when you’re carefully explaining to someone else about the dangers in the current area and to which they must remain alert at all times.

Something, ahem, like this:

Me: Okay, Cowfriend, listen up. Now we’re in Outland, we’re batting with big boys. We’re kind of punching above our weight here so we have to be super-careful, super-focussed and absolutely prepared for whatever comes our way.

Cowfriend: Um… dude…

Me: No, listen, this is important. You need to remember this. Rampaging about Hellfire Peninsula there are a bunch of level 70 elite fel reavers. You can usually tell when they approach because the ground shakes ominously.

Cowfriend: A fel reaver!

Me: Yeah, there’s no way in hell we can take them yet. They’re kind of like a big stompy engine of destruction. So if you see one, it’s every man for himself. Run like a bastard and don’t look back … hey … where are you going? Swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad!

[SMOOSH!]

Cowfriend: …

Me: Just don’t say anything, okay.

Most recently it was the sound of my Dwarf hunter uttered, running for the boat from Stormwind. M’Pocket Tank was already aboard, urging me along in the chat window, and waving at me from the deck. The warning bell had already rung and the harbour is bloody long when you’re a level 11 dwarf, barrelling along, hog at heels.

It was kind of like a scene in a 1950s screwball comedy. I was Cary Grant, obviously, and M’Pocket Tank was my feisty ladylove, leaving on a boat for Europe because I’d pretended to her sister’s fiancé in order to investigate a family scandal and, although I’d fallen in love with her For Real, she’d first been traumatised with guilt because I was her sister’s fiancé and then found out the truth, concluding I was only using her to further my career as a playboy-come-journalistic in a stylish hat. Thankfully, my best friend, who had also infiltrated the family, disguised as a replacement housekeeper (the previous housekeeper having run off to Las Vegas to become a show dancer – she’s played by Marilyn Monroe, by the way, in one of those comedy bit parts that suited her so well) happened to fall in love with the sister to whom I supposed to be engaged, although it was complicated by the fact that my best friend has spent most of the film in unconvincing drag as a matronly housekeeper, fending off the disconcerting advances of our heroine’s lascivious, drunken Uncle. Anyway, at this point in the movie, the plot has been untangled, everyone has been paired up appropriately (including the lascivious, drunken Uncle and Marilyn Monroe, separately obviously) and all that stands between us and an irrefutable happy ending is a scene in which I have to persuade the feisty heroine of the sincerity of my love, disembark from the boat to Europe into my waiting arms and kiss me while the credits roll.

Only with more dorfs, obviously.

Okay, I’m thinking about this way to much. Let’s start again:

I was missing the boat.

And there’s an insane sense of helplessness about this. If you’re a druid you can slip into something more comfortable travel form. If you’re a mage you can blink your way to victory. If you’re a shaman you can spirit wolf. But if you’re a level 11 dorf with a gun and no aspect of the cheetah all you can do is say “come on come on come on” to the screen and watch him fail.

There’s some horribly like life in the public transport systems of WoW. They’re never going where you want, and you always miss them by seconds. And you get the same sense of public shame for rushing desperately after them, waving your arms, only to have them pull out of the station just as you arrive. And then you’re forced to stand at the bus stop, purple in the face and perspiring unbecomingly because, of course, you were carrying six tonnes of books and a live zebra about your person when you were circumstantially obliged to break spontaneously into a sprint, pretending that you’d been intending to run wildly down the pavement all along anyway.

Truthfully, although it’s a complete pain to miss the boat or the zep, I quite like the fact, at low levels, going on a long journey in WoW really feels like going on a long journey. I like the planning that goes into it. You know, you think to yourself: “I’ll run south to here, then I’ll take the fp to Org, then I’ll get the zep to Grom and then I’ll go west from there.” Even though the execution is always a little bit painful, it more than makes up for it, for me, by feeling pretty damn epic. I think it provide a real and invaluable sense of scope and size. And ultimately spending 2 minutes dangling your feet over the edge of a viewing platform or fishing off the end of a pier is often a welcome time out. It reminds you that the imaginary worlds, like the real one, need not always be rushed through. And that journeys can be as valuable as destinations.

So, yeah, the long and the short of it was: I didn’t miss my connection.

My little dorf feet bounded from land to boards just as the ship was pulling out of the harbour.

“Holy fuck,” I typed joyously into the chat window, “I fucking made it. I fucking made it!”

Except I was so smack-dash amazed, so utterly unprepared for the even the slim possibility of success, (to say nothing of far too preoccupied gloating into the chat window), that I completely forgot about auto-run and by the time it occurred to me that I should probably turn it off, I was all fingers and thumbs.

“Swwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwad,” I wailed, as I careened straight through central section of the ship and plopped into the ocean on the other side, to the accompanying incredulous laughter of the rest of the passengers.

Swwwwwwwwwad indeed.

July 15, 2009

And to think darling, if I hadn’t been reading Arthas: Rise of the Lich King….

Filed under: D'oh,Diversions — Tamarind @ 1:23 pm

This post is a little bit less about WoW than usual – although it is, at heart, a WoW-themed anecdote. I apologise for the lack of a sissy robe.

On the other hand: Arthas: Rise of the Lich King just ruined my life.

There was an old British comedy show called Newman and Baddiel in Pieces – it’s pretty obscure these days because the critics spanked it to death and Newman and Baddiel discovered, during the making of it, that they hated each other and couldn’t work together. I mention it because one of Rob Newman’s sketches centred on the idea (and you’ll have to forgive me for vagueness, I can’t remember it very well and it doesn’t exist anywhere on the internet, that’s how badly this show sank without trace) that he was incapable of going to gatherings he knew he would hate because some part of him always thought it would be at the very same gathering he would meet the love of his life. His monologue goes something like:

It’s 3am in London, and my friends are all saying, yeah, let’s go to this place, you know, and I’m like, no, I don’t want to do it but then I hear the same voice in my head, and that voice is me, on the occasion of my ruby wedding anniversary, as I lean on the mantelpiece and raise a glass to my wife saying:

“And to think, darling, I nearly didn’t go to that nightclub, and we would never have met.”

Of course, from there it gets increasingly outlandish. “And to think darling, I nearly didn’t go to that satanic orgy, and we would never have met”. Etc. etc. Typical Rob Newman stuff, insightful, neurotic and very very funny.

I mention this, despite the fact it has little to do with WoW, because I think we all, secretly, on some level think like this. I am driven by, and attracted to, the shimmering possibilities of things that could have, but did not, happen. (Cresting a wave of profound self-indulgent here, I nearly quoted TS Eliot here, but I’ll spare you).

So, let’s take this out of the abstractionville: last night, I was walking home, and I was finishing off Arthas: The Rise of the Lich King. I don’t normally read when I’m walking along because, quite frankly, I lack the necessary concentration and coordination. So it amounted to a private insult aimed at the text. I was trying to let it know just how little I thought of it, and that I resented any real time given over to reading it.

While I was walking along, reading and resenting and not paying as much attention to where I was going as I could have been, I very nearly, very gently, walked into a Very Beautiful Person. The reason I didn’t collide embarrassingly with the VPB was because we were both reading books and, therefore, all that happened was that the spines lightly nudged against each other.

Our eyes met, and held, over the top of our respective, still-touching books.

Rob Newman went wild in my head. This was it! My ruby wedding anniversary was going to be along any day now. To think darling…

My eyes dipped to the book.

The world had long since stopped turning.

“You’re reading Roland Barthes,” I said, dreamily.

The VBP’s eyes did likewise.

“You’re reading…” a pause, a voice increasingly filled with incredulity. “World of Warcraft? Arthas? Rise of the Lich King?”

I have never seen attraction die so quickly in my entire life. Never.

It barely had time to gurgle.

Critted for 10k points of damage.

So, yeah, no Ruby Wedding Anniversary for me.

Fuck you, Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, fuck you.

And, actually, fuck you VBP, you elitist, judgemental meanie who probably smells. I’ve read Barthes AND Arthas: Rise of the Lich King. I happen to think that makes me a more balanced human being, actually. And I didn’t want to have a Ruby Wedding Anniversary with you anyway. So there.

So, anyway, does anybody want my copy of Arthas: Rise of the Cockblocking Lich King? I will happily pay postage for the privilege of no longer owning it, and I feel a moral quandary about giving it to a charity shop lest it fall into innocent hands.

July 11, 2009

disenchants into faildust

Filed under: D'oh — Tamarind @ 12:49 pm

At the risk of hubris, or rather a kind of negative-hubris, I am an anti-Gevlon. Not only am I not maximising my whatevers and manipulating my thingamies for fun and profit, I’ve actually just committed a ludicrous act of material and financial self-harm.

In my defence … what can I say? Well, it was late, I was tired, I was slightly distracted by Things Going On In Real Life, and like most over-educated people I have an immense capacity of acts of mindboggling idiocy… but, no, there are no excuses. This was entirely stupid.

You know how M’Pocket Tank and I have been running instances in blacktie in order to avoid Northrend?

Well, as the house enchanter, unless she actually wants anything for nostalgia or kicks or re-sale, I scoop up most the swag and smoosh it into magic bits, which are currently going for a bomb on the Horde-side AH. Well, a small bomb. A Molotov cocktail maybe. Enough to fund, when the time comes, the aeronautical aspirations of most of our alts.

On Thursday night, we finished up the instance, I instinctively hit my hearthstone, found myself, unhelpfully, back in Sholazar Basin. Oh well. Not a massively convenient place to be, but it could be worse.

Before logging off, I decide I might as well disenchant my way through my bulging bags to save me having to fiddle around with logistics and admin the next time I logged on…

The arcane dust was flowing nicely.

A stack of planar essences.

Infinite dust? That’s a bit weird. Where did that come from?

Arcane dust, hurrah.

More arcane dust … I shall be rich, rich I tell you!

Infinite dust, again? Wtf?

Couple of prismatic shards.

And a large cosmic shard? Eh?

It was while I was posting everything to bank alt, that I realised I was still in formal wear. Now, of all the places you could be stuck in Azeroth in a dinner jacket, I reckon Nesingwary’s base camp is one of the least incongruous. But, still, I thought to myself, I’d better think about putting some armour on.

So I went to change….

Ah.

So that was where the mysterious infinite dust had come from. It had come my gear. All my gear.

So I am now in the middle of Sholazar Basin with only a tuxedo to my name.

Ooops

Ooops

Small edit: thanks for all the supportive suggestions, as well as the loling – having thought about it, I’m not going to bother a GM for something so trivial/stupid. Ultimately, it’s not I like disenchanted a set of fully gemed and enchanted epics of sexing, just some quest greens and instance blues. I can always tailor myself up a set of decent stuff, and I kind of believe in owning up to failure – in fact, I rather suspect I’ll find recovering from disenchanting all my gear rather more interesting than just grinding in Northrend!

July 8, 2009

there was a boy, a very strange enchanted boy

Filed under: Altaholism,D'oh,Sweets for the Sweet — Tamarind @ 12:56 pm

This is a story about love failure.  Topical, huh?  But I think it’s also a story about success.   Here we go.

M’Pocket Tank and I are still Northrend avoidant, especially since I’m now not sure Arthas himself could truly live up to the joy of saving 20 baby murlocs, so we’ve been concentrating mainly on alts.

As well as M’Pocket Tank, I have another victim friend I have generously introduced to the pleasures of WoW and she’s been doggedly levelling a cowtank.  I have run around the world a little bit with her, usually providing DPS backup with the prettiest elf (burn baby burn!), but apart from an RFC run way back when, we haven’t really had much opportunity to instance.  And, instancing, of course is the crucible in which a tank is truly forged.  Being of a pedagogic bent, I have attempted to communicate a fair bit of tanking theory as we’ve been levelling but it truly is the blind leading the blind.  I have tanked a bit but, as I have said before, it’s not my natural role.  On the other hand, I guess I’m better than nothing.  Maybe.  Hrm.

And let’s not forget tanking, especially warrior tanking in vanilla WoW, is bloody hard.  You can’t just pop consecrate and have the world fall down and you’re still in the process of actually accruing the tools that allow you to do the job (Temi wrote a rather cool post awhile back on the surprising difficulties of low-level WoW). But, despite my inadequacies as a teacher, there was a definite mental click somewhere around level 40 in which the theory slid into place.

The practice, however, well, that was still to come.

Between self, M’Pocket Tank and Cowfriend, we now have 3 characters, at 60 or in the low 60s.  My boomdruid, M’Pocket Tank’s lock and our new-found cowtank.

“Let’s do Ramps!” I cried. “We’ll sail through with 3! Ramps is easy!”

Uh right.  Yeah.

Well it was carnage.

Mainly because the lock and the drood played like absolute noobtards.  I was supposed to be healing off-spec but the DPS Demon kept whispering in my ear that Ramps was easy so I might as well do some DPS while I was standing there.  So I’d be doing that and then the tank would die.  I know, I know, I’m an idiot.  I’ll spare the lock’s blushes by not going into details about dodgy pet handling.   And, of course, Cowfriend was actually desperately putting all that theory into practice, baptism of fire style, so sometimes things would Just Go Wrong.

There was a lot of talking and a lot of wiping.  A lot of post-game analysis.  “So what went wrong there.” Sigh.

At about this point, we decided to accord Ramps the respect it deserves.  M’Pocket Tank (or rather M’Pocket Lock) went off to respec destro just because.  Less minion micro-management more BURN, I think, was the reasoning behind that.  Cowfriend completely overhauled her UI.  And I slunk sheepishly off to Moonglade to subdue the DPS demon once and for all.

Yes.  I did it.  I went tree.

We reassembled to take another crack at Ramps.  Literally hours had gone by at this point and we hadn’t even seen the nose of the first boss. You’d have thought we were tweaking for Ulduar, the way we went on.  Progress was still slow but so much better than before.  The DPS demon rode M’Pocket Tank hard but, even though I could hear her cackling like a manic at her DPS, somehow she controlled it.

And doofus here actually pulled his finger out and did his fecking job.  I’ve gotta say, though, those HoTs are hot!  It’s amazing how being a tree focuses the mind.  It’s slightly disconcerting, though, to be so absolutely vulnerable.  I mean, apart from barkskin, what does a poor tree have to protect itself?  Nothing, that’s what.  A sad expression.  And the vain hope that the enemies will feel damn silly wailing on a helpless tree.  Also, I know a tree is smaller than a cow, but I still had real trouble seeing past my own floofy branches when I was trying mark.

Stealth tree I is not.

It was a huge learning experience for everybody.  It wasn’t just a question of a new UIs and new specs, it was learning to work together effectively as a team, which 3-manning absolutely demands.  Playing mainly with M’Pocket Tank makes it easy to overlook the importance of trust and teamwork.  We take each other, and our tank-healer relationship, for granted.  I was surprised by how difficult it was to learn to trust a new tank.

One of our more ignominious wipes occurred because I was so busy trying to draw the tank’s attention to a caster lurking at the back that I, err, forgot to heal her.  Yes, I am covered in shame.  My branches are drooping, my leaves are blushing.

“Sorry, guys,” I said, as we jogged back to our corpses, “I was worrying about the caster at the back.”

“Don’t apologise,” said Cowfriend, “but I should be the one worrying about the caster at the back.”

And that was the moment when I let go.  I realised I absolutely had to.  There was nothing more, as a teacher, I could do.  Trying to backseat tank AND heal is actually impossible. It was time for Cowfriend to stop listening to me and become her own tank.

That was the moment when it all came together, theory and practice. And we were flying.  Down went the first boss.  Down went the large groups of caster mobs.  Down went the room o’doom, despite a mild case of over-pull.  The weakest link was actually me.  It’s the first time I’ve ever tried to manage HoTs.  It’s so much more flexible than holy priest healing but, uh, you kind of have to know what you’re doing.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

So, we rolled up to Omor the Unscarred, all psyched up to scar him but good.  “This is a straight tank ‘n’ spank,” explains Idiot Of The Week (yes, it’s still me).  “Charge!”

And so we charged.

The thing is, every time I’ve done Ramps previously (and I’ve done it a lot, although from this entry you probably wouldn’t think it) we’ve had so much onboard firepower that he went down so quickly it was like he was made of wet spaghetti.  I actually always used to think he was pointless.  Omor The Pointless I used to call him.

So, I didn’t know he summoned an army of gambolling felpuppies.

I didn’t know he’d take to tossing the tank into the air like a ragdoll.

In fact I was so busy going “omfgwtf” that our DPS spent most of the fight dead on the floor.  I may never hear the end of it.

But, somehow, Cowfriend tanked every single felpuppy and very very very slowly prodded Omor to death while my HoTs rolled and rolled and rolled.  It was a looooong fight.  By rights, we should have given up.  But we didn’t.  And, by God, victory was sweet.

We didn’t, however, take down Nazan.  We had a couple of goes but we were exhausted and it was late.  Perhaps this would be a better story if I could have said we did.  But, actually, although it consists, in many ways, of a long string of failure, what it also includes was recognisable, incremental improvement.  The first time we tried Nazan, he just blatted us because the tank couldn’t convince him to stop munching on the tree (you’re a fucking dragon, try the STEAK!).  The second time it was my fault because I lost my HoT rhythm and, in the split second when none were rolling, Nazran crispy-fried the tank.  I’m pretty damn sure, though, that the next time we try him, he’ll fall.

But I’ll remember this run, and I remember no others.  Ramps has always been little more than routine for me.  It feels genuinely good to have engaged with the content in the way, perhaps, it was intended.  As the first Outland instance, Ramps is forgiving but I can’t imagine the designers sitting around at Blizzard HQ going “hey, y’know Ramps, let’s make it a meaningless cake walk.”

I guess what I’m trying to say was that this run meant something to me.  I think we all learned a lot from it, and from our failures.  I think we fought the good fight, and I think we were honourably beaten.

In short: I’d far rather fail well than succeed badly.

July 1, 2009

punting from both ends

I about to disappear to Cambridge for a couple of days on a conference so there will be a brief hiatus in the WoWblogging.  Alas!  Unless it’s insanely dull in which case, I’m sure, there will be a deluge of WoWblogging, difficult though it is to blog about WoW without the inspiration of, err, WoW.

I do have a few musings, however.  None of them would constitute a full entry so I will therefore present them as they come, in a heap of undigested thoughts.

I Tank In French

I tanked a guild run of Wailing Caverns a couple of nights back.  As I’ve said before I don’t think I’m a natural tank.  People tend to gravitate towards roles and although platemail and I don’t actively repel each other we definitely exist in an uneasy harmony.  Even melee DPS doesn’t do much for me.  I guess if there isn’t a sissy robe involved, I’m not interested.  Also I haven’t had much practice so I’m tanking mainly on theory.  I know what I’m meant to be doing, but there’s still a bit of a gap (mind the gap between the tank and the platform!) between the realisation and the activity.

I think people involved in the academic study of videogames talk a bit of about what they call the “grammar” of games – all a bit structuralist for my postmodern tastes, but it’s an interesting way of thinking about the interaction of the game mechanics and the game itself.  Like learning any language, there’s a point at which grammar becomes instinctive and inherent.  When you say “I would like it if you could attend my dinner party” you’re not consciously parsing the conditional subjunctive.  Yer just talkin’.

Healing, for me, is like that.  Of course, I’m still improving my comma placement and deploying the occasional audacious semi-colon but, for the most part, by the time I’ve thought “a CoH would really help things about now” I’ve already used it, and have moved onto the next thing.

The grammar of tanking, though, isn’t there yet for me, and given my lack of a natural enthusiasm for the role, it sure is taking its time to get here.  So I think my tanking is like my French.  I can do it if I concentrate but it’s just not elegant.  And occasionally people will cringe and ask me, for the love of God, to just speak English, please.

Je voudrais taunt you now, you morceau de merde.

Je vous frapperai avec mon sword enorme.

Please send for the concierge, I appear to have a frog in my bidet.

Shut Your Eyes and Trust in Me

There was something else faintly bewildering about this run.  It was me tanking, M’Pocket Tank healing, and 2 random shadow priests we picked up.  We were, I think, within the level range but it was pretty straightforward.  If only I’d had my WoWcock with me, I’m sure he’d have had something to say on the subject.  I guess it’s been NERFED.  For the casuals. Anyway, despite my poor command of the grammar, I was tanking absolutely adequately.  I might even go so far as to say ‘well’.  The group was pretty competent (although it’s hard to tell at low levels – you don’t really have enough tools at your disposal to be able to fuck things up as comprehensively as you might like) and quite nice.

Except I kept seeing this golden gleam out of the corner of my eye.  It turned out that one of the shadow priests – the one in the heirloom gear, no less – was Power Word Shielding himself continually.  I tried to chalk it up to Bizarrolandia but bitchy bloody mindedness got the better of me and finally I whispered him to ask why.

“In case I pull aggro,” he said.

Uh?  Right.  I could understand if you’re soloing but, seriously?  Except in the case of arrant stupidity (oddly popular playstyle that it is) there was no way this guy was pulling aggro off me, I was so damn threatening.  And even on the couple of occasions I did momentarily lose threat, I was there with my taunt and my mocking blow and my “I shall knock your armour off you!” skillz.  The worst damage anybody took was a couple of hits on rare occasions, before the mobs remembered that they were more interested in the stocky orc in platemail than the skinny dudes in robes.

“You know,” I said, as gently as I could, “that if you pull aggro, I’ll get the mobs off you again?  I’ve got a bunch of skills  for that.  Being a tank.”

“I’ve had some terrible tanks,” he whispered back.

I genuinely didn’t know what to say that.  “Haha, I’m not that bad,” was the best I could manage.

Now what’s going on here?  Seriously.  Was that some kind of fucked-up tankism?  You know, you tanks, you’re all the same, coming over here, stealing our threat.   Or was it, in fact, the tanking equivalent of the dreaded “heal pls.”

Ultimately, it did no damage to the run.  It was a low level instance, they tend to be pretty forgiving, and it was his mana he was squandering. But it pissed me off.  Mainly I thought it was discourteous.  After all, I was right there, tanking perfectly competently.  He might as well have renamed it Power Word: I Don’t Think You Know What You’re Doing.  Despite, I would say, abundant evidence to the contrary.

Also it’s hardly a sustainable strategy (I’m using the word ‘strategy’ in its alternate sense of ‘dumb thing a complete moron was doing while instancing’) – there’s going to come a point when wasting time and mana putting a redundant PW:IDTYKWYD on himself was going to actually impinge on what he was supposed to be doing (DPS, you drivelling pillock).

Or do you think he was some kind scarred and wounded soul, abused beyond redemption by too many bad tanks.  Even so, I think there comes a point when you have to let go and move on, maybe get some counselling.

Of course, the most likely answer was: he was just that stupid.

June 30, 2009

The Dangers of Cheap Laffs

Filed under: D'oh,Diversions — Tamarind @ 11:15 am

So this, post was going to be based on a “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” theme.  It was going to consist of precisely one joke, which I shall make now to get it out of the way because the deluge of trouble caused by the joke is actually far more amusing than the joke itself.

Here is the joke.

My WoWcock: let me show you it:

WoWcock

Yeah, I warned you it was cheap.  But it was going to have more of a build up, which would have made all the difference, I promise.  I was going to be all “admire the sleek and mighty beast that is my WoWcock.  Ta-daaaa!”

But, anyway, in order to facilitate this cheap joke, I took a lot of WoW screenshots last night.  My laptop was bought on the assumption of travel and libraries and Great Works of Genius, rather than obsessive MMORPG playing (yeah, who was I fooling) , so my screenshots always look like shite anyway.    But if you’re going to do a job – even if that job is taking pictures of a chicken in WoW – you should do it right.  I emailed the best of them from myself to myself, from the gmail account I use for the majority of my blogging to my actual grown up, I am a real person affiliated to an organisation email address.  So that, this morning, instead of doing any of the things I ought to be doing, I could instead wax eloquent about my WoWcock and post pictures of it on the Internet.

I don’t know in what world, at what late hour of the night, this seemed like even a remotely good plan.

Seriously, what is wrong with me?!

To partially account for my own rampant idiocy, I should emphasise that I’m not connected to the Ministry of Peace from 1984, or anything, so internet traffic and email is not what you’d called stringently monitored.

However.

If you email yourself about 20 large-ish JPEGs, all of which are called some variation on “wowcock”, (wowcock 1, wockcock2, wockcockagain, yetmorewowcock) it is liable to hit a few switches and cause even if the most lax and open minded of computer officers to raise a concerned brow.

I had a slightly awkward meeting this morning in which I found myself trying to explain firstly that I hadn’t been either virused or hacked and secondly why I was apparently trying to filter vast amounts of porn through the email system a world-leading university.

Or rather, that I was not.

“Oh no,” quoth I, “most assuredly, it’s not porn.  I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that stupid.  I mean, err, I’m not into that.”

“Oh yes?” returned they, with a ‘pull the other one, it’s got bells on’ kind of look.  “What is it then?”

“It’s, um, it’s  … lots of pictures of a chicken. From World of Warcraft, which is often abbreviated to WoW.  It’s not like I was trying to say “oh, wow, chicken!”  Or err, “oh wow, cock!”  I should probably have named them chicken, really, shouldn’t I?  And maybe sent myself them to in lesser quantities.  Or maybe not at all.  Can I go now?”

So they looked at my WoWcock and, lo, did it look small and inadequate under the harsh glare of the Mean Computer Officer Who Hates Me And Now Thinks I’m A Total Idiot.

Credibility rating = 0.

Maybe even into negative figures.

But, on the plus side, I am flush in pictures of what I am now thinking of as my oh wow cock.

Nerfed

June 28, 2009

the demon on my shoulder

Filed under: Altaholism,D'oh — Tamarind @ 3:55 pm

Now the delights of the fuck off enormous dinosaur have worn of, Northrend is back to feeling like a bit of a slog so M’Pocket Tank and I have been playing it fast and loose with alts.  I’ve been trying to help my Girlcow with her self-esteem issues but I’ve also been running around a bit with my fire mage. And I’ve had to face up to something: I’m bad DPS.  I don’t mean I’m bad at DPS.  On the contrary, I’m great at it.  You want things chargrilled?  Flame-seared?  Reduced to pile of ash.  As quickly as possible?  Great.  Put them in front of me and watch the fiery death carnage.

But you know all those things you’re not meant to do when you’re DPS?  I do them.  I do all of them.   I know not to do them, and I know why you shouldn’t do them, and I know how annoying it is when people do them … but I do them anyway.  And I can’t stop myself.

But it’s okay, it’s not me.

It’s the DPS Demon.

It sits on my shoulder and it whispers to me while I play.

It say things like:

But you’re on a crit streak…

Your DPS is so awesome, the rules don’t apply to you.

It doesn’t matter if you pull aggro, you can handle yourself.

Just … one … more … firebolt.

I think I’m especially susceptible to the DPS Demon because if I’m not healing, I’m tanking.  Don’t get me wrong, I love healing (in a sick, twisted, Sid & Nancy, Zelda & Fitzgerald kind way), but it’s not what you’d call a thrilling role.  It’s an interesting, occasionally extremely stressful, quietly satisfying role.  Your tank may give you a “good healing, mate” as she emerges, battered, blood-sodden, grinning and miraculously alive from a battle but only another healer can really tell when you’ve been on top healing form.

It’s a lonely business, healing.

DPS, on the other hand, everybody understands.

If healing is a fine old tawny, aged to perfection over long years, DPS is a fluffy pink cocktail, bristling with cherries on sticks, umbrellas and twizzly straws.

Healing doesn’t really have a feedback loop.  It just has a sigh of relief when you look round and discover nobody has died.  DPS, though – it’s like the game itself is cheering you on by emblazoning your screen with a great big number.  Your great big number.  Your great big number of pure distilled awesome.  I have occasionally, when the DPS demon has been riding me hard, caught myself in the act of yelling “oh yeah, 4k crit!” at my computer.  When the buzz fades, of course, I feel like an almighty doofus.  But we all do it.

At least I think we do…

We do, right?  Right?

Okay.  Moving on.  Quickly.  Nothing to see here.

I think tanking and healing have been described have “the spine” of a group – which is fitting because, although they’re important, their role is primarily supportive.  Supporting the crazy Hawaiian shirt of DPS.

So when I’m neither tanking nor healing, and I’m iberated from having to worry about other people, I think I must go a little crazy.  But it’s the demon, I tell you, the demon.

It’s like when my free pyroblast procs.  Sensible thing to do?  Content myself with the fact it’ll proc again soon anyway and continue to act like a person with a fully functioning brain.  What I actually do?  Run helter-skelter round the world, waving my arms and cackling hysterically, until I find an enemy – any enemy mind you, or not even an enemy, or a tree, the back of a barn, or a small orcish orphan, anything – to throw my free pyroblast at.  Because if I don’t get it off within 7 seconds, that’s it gone.

I have to you see.  I absolutely have to.

Because it’s free, dammit, free.  Free!

And it’ll probably be a crit anyway…

And if it crits, then my next fireblast will crit as well.

And then…

Sorry, I think that was the demon talking again.

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