standing at the back in my sissy robe

August 6, 2009

Ding!

Filed under: Vainglory,World Beyond My Naval — Tamarind @ 1:27 pm

Well, there are advantages in being horribly ill: you play an awful lot of WoW. So much, in fact, that we dinged 80 the day before patch 3.2 hit. Given that I basically played WoW for 2 days solid it’s shocking think how long that would have taken me – probably at the very least a couple of weeks – had I not gone down with piggysniffles. It’s a weird pay off, although it simply makes me feel guilty in several directions at once, since being ill is meant to be spent lying in bed, feeling crappy, not sitting in bed feeling crappy AND playing WoW.

Being 80 is quite frankly bewildering.

The game has basically inundated me with Things I Could Be Doing, and I’m staggering around like a punchdrunk weasel. Polish the Horn of Whojamiflip? Sure. Blow up some garm? Yeah, gimme. Dark cultists, you say? Show me where. This scattergun approach is far from sensible, I have no idea what I’m doing half the time, or what it’s achieving. But after all whinging about Northrend, I am quite digging the quests in Icecrown. They’re not too fiddly, a lot of them involving good old fashioned killin, and it feels nicely like you’re part of a proper war in which you can, y’know, participate rather than follow lore figures about, singing the “you so fine you blow my mind” song. Although having battled side-by-side with Tirion to drive back the forces of the Scourge, I want to know why he has come to the conclusion that what the battle against Arthas really needs is a Renaissance Fair. I guess I’ll just save up the cash for an epic flyer (alas! Pointlesswing!) for now and then see what happens.

I suppose running heroics is Where It’s At, except I’m probably not geared for it. Hmmm. Problem.

We also attempted to celebrate 80 by taken down Magister’s Terrace heroic. And we failed. It was actually pretty tricky. The thing about being 80 is that you secretly or not-so-secretly think you are now become invincible. We were doing pretty well though, thanks to judicious use of mind control. I love mind control (or mindrape as we call it) in every conceivable way but what I love best is taking control of enemy healers. Not only do you inspire all their compatriots to turn on them, but you can also use their spells to heal your own tank. And before the mind control wears off, you can blow all their cooldowns and leave them there, utterly violated and on about 20% health.

But that damnable Priestess and her posse did for us in the end. I hate that fight with a passion, and not the interesting sort of “I will take you down my nemesis, bwhaha” kind of passion. Maybe I just need to step back a bit and smell the OCD but I don’t like fights I can’t control. The best you can hope for is to control the pull, control the location and, hopefully, deploy some cc – even so, it’s carnage. With 2 of you, especially when you’re both pvp noobs, it’s fucking stupid. There must be a way of handling it but I’ve no idea what that way might be. Of course, the only cc we have is MC to which they’re all immune (wah!) which doesn’t help. But they stunlock M’Pocket Tank and then tear through me like I’m damp paper. It feels like there’s literally nothing we can do, except maybe get to the stage when M’Pocket Tank can solo them, and I’ll cower behind the wall while she does, with my WoW dwindling to about the size of a brazil nut. I guess we could duel-spec shadow / retri but that seems a bit extreme, and I suspect we’d resent it.

Dear Blizzard

I don’t like pvp. That’s why I’ve chosen not to do any, as is my inalienable right. Why must you punish me for this? Seriously not cool, Blizzard.

Fuck you,
Tam

So, yes, what with dinging 80, the arrival of the patch was kind of eclipsed. The only real change I noticed was the tidal wave of riding achievements over guild and the fact all my add-ons had fucked themselves sideways with a banana. There was, however, a buzz in the air as people ran about discovering changes and new content, which was nice. The weird thing is, now I’m 80, I’m not perpetually late to the party guy any more so I could have been doing that myself. But I’m still half-entrenched in the notion that none of it really applies to me and I’ll get to it in my own time. Except it does now, doesn’t it?

I did roll out my druid to check out his sexy new catform though. Failfriend also has a druid and didn’t know about the redesign so we met at Vengeance Landing and kittied together like crazies. Well I was pretty crazy. I ran in gleeful dash-fuelled circles around High Executor Anselm until I made myself dizzy while FF sat there, washing his face and yawning. Despite the awesome earring, I am still not a big bear fan. I’m sorry, but it’s the butt. I simply can’t tank from behind it. The catform is really kittyish though. I love the sleekness of it, and the way it moves. Comfrey is a kind of toffee-russet coloured kitty. Failfriend is black, with a mean look. It’s tempting to roll up a nelf just to see what I’d get.

I think the thing about 80 and the thing about patches is that … well … they’re kind of similar to losing your virginity. No, stay with me here, I know what I’m doing with this analogy (hah, do I ever). They’re both massive events you build up in your head to the point that you genuinely believe they’re going to completely change your life and the way you think about yourself. And then it happens, and although conceptually it was the most overwhelming and exciting thing ever because finally, finally you’d got there but practically it was awkward and fumbling and you were semi-paralysed with “is it supposed to be like this and am I doing it right” anxiety, and that never happens in the movies. And somewhere in the middle you get a glimpse of some receding wonder but it’s only a glimpse. And when it’s done you wait for that moment, the one that’s going to change everything, and then you realise that it’s never coming, because you’re still you and change comes, if it comes at all, in incremental fragments on your journey towards the infinite horizon.

You can also say the same thing about getting your hair cut.

So, here, let us fix our add-ons, grab 3.2 by the, err, horns and loft ourselves on our cut-price flying mounts … into the future.

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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.

July 30, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was the message:

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

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

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

“Thanks so much” came the reply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 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 23, 2009

can you feel the devilsaur tonight

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

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

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

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

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

Not so Grand now, eh?

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

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

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

That's ... not ... good

That's ... not ... good

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

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

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

And then I spoiled it by giggling excitedly.

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

Go, pink chicken, go!

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

Dinos to the left of me.

Dinos to the right of me.

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

I hit frost nova.

I hit blink.

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

I blinked again.

And frost nova-ed.

And, again, and again.

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

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

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

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

July 13, 2009

The Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is now recruiting!

Filed under: Altaholism,Real Men Wear Purple,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 1:03 pm

Since the weekend renders me even more pointless and frivolous than usual (when I’m not wrecking all my gear) and I have recently committed to overcoming my WoW prejudices, M’Pocket Tank and I rolled up a couple of dwarf hunters, on the assumption that the best way to explode prejudices is to embody them all.

Alliance. Shudder.

Dorf. Shudder.

Hunter. Shudder.

And, omg, it’s the most fun in the world.

Seriously.

I could throw my sissy robe aside right now and start a new blog called bignosebiggun.wordpress.com.

Well … okay … maybe not.

But it’s still that much fun.

Here is my mighty level 10 dorf:

My First Dorf!

My First Dorf!

Isn’t he just fabulous? I particularly like the belt with the heart on it, I think that’s a nice touch. I have to say, I’m getting a sexually ambivalent vibe from him. I think it’s the perfectly groomed beard and the waxed moustache. Also you can’t tell from this angle but he’s got a long, flowing ponytail that would shame a belf.

Also check out his potent pig! I can’t tell you how much I love my pig. It’s a war machine, that beast, I tell, you a war machine. She’s called Empress after the Empress of Blandings, another sterling hog.

Unfortunately, I’m slightly fearful that I’ve inadvertently mistreated her. When I first made sweet sweet love to her by, err, hitting her in the face with a concussive shot to slow her down and then crooning sonnets while she lumbered, dazed and confused, in my direction, she was naturally, well, a little bit unhappy afterwards. M’Pocket Tank suggested I feed her as a way of cheering her up.

Well, I just wasn’t prepared. I don’t go out into the wilderness with my pockets stuffed full of pigfood on the off chance some sweet little porcine is going to catch my eye. A brief investigation indicated that she would especially enjoy some meats so I rummaged through my amo and cracked boar tusk stuffed bags in search of something that would satisfy the new companion of my future life. I finally got my eye on some mouldering ribs I had stashed in there and duly handed them over.

Several ribs down, she had, in fact, cheered up immensely. In fact, she loved me. It was very gratifying.

It was then that I realised I’d been gleefully feeding her portion after portion of … beer-basted boar ribs.

Uh. Whoops?

I made a cannibal pig.

I feel quite bad about that.

Anyway, cruelty to animals aside (I’m a bit embarrassed that concussive shot forms such an important part of my seduction routine, it strikes me as being the equivalent of Rohypnol), being a dwarf hunter is such crazy crazy fun that M’Pocket Tank and I decided to embrace the Nesingwary lifestyle and do it properly.

The idea is to level doing only quests that dwarf hunters would appreciate and shooting vast quantities of random animals en route, which I’m embarrassed to note shows no sign of getting old. We were on our way to return some lost ammo to a bally silly chap, dontchaknow, and the pleasure of shooting things with guns swept over us with such intensity that we’d actually banged and tallyhoed our way across half the map (in the opposite direction from the amoless fellow) without even noticing.

In fact, we were so tickled by the idea of being proper Dwarven hunters that we made a guild for it: the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club.

(Isn’t it ridiculous? I’m now the founding member of 2 entirely silly guilds, and I can’t find an actual guild to save my life).

So if any EU-based bloggers fancy doing something silly with me and M’Pocket Tank, roll yerself a dorf hunter (or another kind of hunter, I guess) on Emerald Dream and come join the, err, madness. I should probably also say that the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is not a sexist establishment: they welcome fillies, too, of course, if they’re the right sort of filly.

Hmmm… I suppose I’d better make my recruitment pitch. I haven’t quite had the courage to blast this out over General but, heh, give me time…

The Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club is now recruitin sound but not necessarily diminutive fellows, interested in huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. We have a spiffin’ tabard and a jolly fine trophy cabinet, tally ho, what what!

And, look, here is a thoroughly splendid picture of the members of the Dwarven Gentlemen’s Club poised on the brink of adventure…

Oh I say, jolly fine view!

Oh I say, jolly fine view!

I think the plan is to get them to The Barrens to hunt kodos… and, some day, of course dinosaurs! The more fuck off enormous they are, the better!

July 9, 2009

why don’t you go where fashion sits

Filed under: Real Men Wear Purple,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 10:23 am

I’m not sure how long M’Pocket Tank and I can continue to play WoW without, y’know, playing WoW. At this rate of progress there’s a slim possibility we’ll ding 80 maybe in time for the next expansion.

Last night we decided to take a crack at Onxyia, partly because M’Pocket Tank was curious but mainly because I’m still carrying her goddamn head around in my back pocket and feeling guilty about it. I thought defeating her honourably would help me put her large, scornful ghost to rest. The long and the short of it (mainly the short): We Were Not Prepared. Obviously, I was on mana-conservation, healing and air guitar, M’Pocket Tank on tanking, DPS and percussion.

Phase 1, we were perfectly fine. Ish. The healz were fine, the mana was fine … except the theory was that I would contribute to our IMBA DPS with, wait for it, my wand.

Well. It’s DPS isn’t it?

And M’Pocket tank has a thingy that lets me regain mana every time I hit with it so…

Except.

Except.

Guess who rolled up to tea and crumpets with Onxyia with a fire wand?

Plan B involved me positioning myself away from the fire breath and the tail sweep and stabbing … her … in … the … toe … with … my … dagger … over … and … over … again. The poor girl must have thought she had a bothersomely ingrowing toenail.

Holy priest = melee DPS. For the win (using “win” here in its alternative sense of “lose”).

Anyway, about two and half days later, sleeping in shifts, we got her down to 64% health and phase 2 began. And basically we just couldn’t do enough damage to her between the whelps and the fire. Boo.

So the score currently stands at 1.1.

But, never fear pretty lady, we’ll be back.

In order to cheer ourselves up and because I read a totally inspired and inspiring blog post on the subject we ran Scholomance. Being Perpetually Late To The Party Guy (another name for this blog maybe), I’ve never quite got round to doing it. And this is a profound shame because, as the Harpy says (not quite in these words), it’s pure, undiluted awesomesauce. It’s like Harry Potter for perverts. What is with those uniforms.

It always strikes me as a crying shame to roll through instances – which, being mid-70s, we inevitably did. There was, however, one mortifying wipe of which We Do Not Speak. Should not have happened. I think I might try to take Team Tree back to it so we can experience Scholo semi-properly, as it truly deserved.

In order to try to make it a little bit less of a stroll-along-whistling session, we decided to revive an old game and do it in formal wear. And here we are:

So ... d'you, like, wanna go steady?

So ... d'you, like, wanna go steady?

Tam looks both dashing and uncomfortable there – I do wonder if a trip to Scholo is his peculiar idea of a date. Well, he’s a holy priest, he doesn’t get out the metaphorical office very much. I have to say, M’Pocket Tank does not seem impressed. Forgive, by the way, the crapitude of my screenshotting. It would also make a pretty decent horror movie premise, I suspect. You know, hoping to get some action from his girlfriend after the prom, Generic Fresh Faced American Highschool Student whisks His Equally Generic Hot Girlfriend off to a supposedly haunted school, only to discover that it is actually haunted. Screaming ensues. He most assuredly does not get laid.

Blacktie instances used to be one of my favourite things to do in WoW. It’s just so inherently comical. Look, here’s a gigglesome shot of Chastity wailing on Instructor Malicia with an enormous hammer.

CATFIGHT CATFIGHT CATFIGHT!

CATFIGHT CATFIGHT CATFIGHT!

I have to admit I was, at this point, circling them both going CATFIGHT CATFIGHT CATFIGHT. Ahem.

July 4, 2009

wtb one intact healer

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,UR Doing It Wrong,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 6:14 pm

I solo-ed The Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj.

Oh, yeah baby.

Well, okay, there was a DK tank along for the ride but since he was triumphantly claiming after to have solo-ed it,  I think that means I did as well.

We also had a handful of DPS with us but Ossirian the Really Rather Blue took them out pretty quickly, leaving just me and the tank.

I see this story needs a small amount of context.  I was playing the mini-game World of Dithercraft (you know the one where you shuffle yoru bank-bursting quantity of pointlessly accumulated mats between all your alts on a 30 day rotation) in Org and a frantic cry went out over general: LF healer, any level over 60 for AQ.

Five minutes later, the same frantic cry went out.

And, again, five minutes later.

So I took pity and the next thing I knew I’d been summoned to Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom, a bunch of level 80s were running around in circles, disco lights were flashing everywhere, health bars were dwindling, waves of enormous mobs were descending on us, orange text was streaming up my screen and, holy fuck, I was in a raid???

It was perhaps the bizarrest, most bewildering experience I’ve ever had in WoW.  I think there were 5 level 80s and my good self, so it wasn’t like a proper raid.  And I suspect we would have scythed through it had there been even a whisper, a whisper I say, of organisation.  The DPS were all running around like headless chickens, paying no need to LOS at all, essentially taking it in turns to die.  The tank was standing in the middle of a group of mobs who were whacking at him but he didn’t seem to have any particular inclination, y’know, to tank them. I was always pulling aggro, partially because I was healing him and partially because, as the level 70 amidst the 80s, I had an aggro radius of about a hundred and eighty thousand miles.  I’d deal with it by pelting towards the tank, desperately casting PW:S, renew, desperate prayer and fade on myself, and occasionally whatever was wailing on me would peel off and start swiping at the tank instead.  And whenever this happened, the DPS would go wild, shrieking “Is the healer intact, is the healer intact” like a platoon of Victorian matrons trying to sell their debutante daughters on the marriage mart.

When I first joined the group, I did come straight out and admit I’d never done it before and didn’t really have a clue about what I was supposed to be doing.

The advice I got was so pricelessly profound I think I’ll carry it in my heart for the rest of my days.

“just heal, lol.”

What srsly?  Heal?  ‘Cos, I was gonna try tanking this one.

So I took what I’ve learned from the blogsphere to heart and tried to put the only rule I felt able to apply into practice.

Don’t Stand In Fire.

And the reason I didn’t die horribly and repeatedly was because I was so damn mobile.

Standing at the back in my sissy robe?

Running around crazily at the back in my sissy robe, more like.

I understand there’s some funky stuff with crystals you’re meant to do with Ossirian the Really Rather Blue but I guess at level 80 it’s not really necessary.  Except he smooshed the DPS in the first five seconds and then it was down to me and the tank … sorry … the tank.  He solo-ed it, of course.

I was slightly surprised that the DPS all got instantly blatted.  As I say, nobody took the time to explain what was going to happen (did anybody know?  I’m not entirely sure) so if I was meant to be on some kind of Super Healing Miracle duty I wasn’t aware.  But ultimately when somebody goes from Being Alive to Being Dead, there’s not exactly much even the most IMBA (haha) healer can do.  I have a feeling they just expected me to heal through whatever-it-was.

I’m not sure whether that’s complacency, laziness or stupidity.

I mean, I remember standing there halfway up the steps thinking to myself “gosh he’s big and blue and he seems particularly pissed off right now … there’s a kind of light radiating from him encompassing my whole screen  … that’s probably not good … ruuuuuuuuuun awaaaaaaaaay” which, I like to think, is the kind of verbosity of thinking that saved my life.

I seem to be brushing up, explicitly or implicitly, against a “just heal through it” mentality a lot these days.  From trivial things like ignoring the proximity bombs in BF to deciding to prod Ossirian the Really Rather Blue in the toe when he’s feelin’ all Supreme.  It annoys me because it tends to put unnecessary pressure on the healer, as well as reinforcing bad habits.  The rule is not Don’t Stand In Fire Unless Your Healer Is Over Level and Over Geared.  And, ultimately, what does it cost you, not to stand like a pillock on a proximity bomb?  WoW players aren’t Wile E. Coyote standing there with a confused look on their faces while Acme AoE Affect ticks away comically.  It reminds me sadly of Northrend instances, actually, which, as I have ranted about previously, can either be healed through or not.  Big AoE splatters can either be healed through or not, and that has nothing to do with whether you’re any good at being a healer.  It just depends on how much spellpower you’re packing.

So much for bring the player not the spec.

It might as well be:

Bring the gear, not the player.

June 23, 2009

Saving my faith in PUGs one zombie at a time

Filed under: D'oh,Sweets for the Sweet,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 11:32 am

Since yesterday was basically not-especially condensed whinging, I shall try to be positive today.  Putting aside disastrous friend-runs, I’ve actually been quite lucky with my PUGs lately.  There was, of course, the neophyte pally and her undead mentor who whisper me fairly regularly these days, usually to heal UK, although I have now run UK so many times I’m actually bored of the damn thing.  I can spam CoH with the best of them.  To be honest, it’s partially vanity on my part because they make me feel loved and appreciated.  It does have an air of “ahaha! A healer!  We shall keep him!” but, of course, I’m already seeing a tank, so it’s slightly awkward.

Wouldn’t want to make M’Pocket Tank jealous.

I’m thinking back on an old(ish) Misneach post about tank/healer chemistry and it’s kind of amusing to see it  filtered through PUGs.  I mean, if you take guilds to be established social networks, into which newcomers are carefully introduced, LFG must be a sleazy bar for desperate singles.  In LFG, the drinks are cheap and plentiful, it’s always after midnight and there you are, always the detritus of the evening; it’s either take what you can get or spend the empty, grey hours till dawn loving angels instead.  So you gyrate up to the least-troglodytic of your fellow discards:

“LF Healer?” you bellow over the terrible music, squinting in the unflattering pink wash of the disco lighting

“Naw, DPS,” he/she replies, disinterestedly

“I could off-DPS,” you offer, with a winning, eager smile.

“Pffft.”

Rejected.  Scorned.  Not quite spat upon.  There’s nothing for it but to approach the second least-troglodytic of the rapidly dwindling crowd and repeat until your soul dies (or you manage to put a run together).

And some of the tanks you hook up with are clearly only in it for the healz, and they don’t care how they get them, or from whom. But some of them, I think, aspire to a better life.  They still have romance in their hearts.  They want to meet not just a healer but the healer.  They don’t just want to a run an instance with you, they want something a bit more stable, a bit more meaningful, maybe something regular.

It’s a little bit tragic really.  There should be some alternative meeting system for lonely tanks looking for that perfect healer, and bitter, burned out healers searching for someone in platemail to save them from themselves.

Sounds like the premise of a WoW romcom actually…

“Darling,” he said tenderly, “from the first moment I saw you blundering through the Scarlet Monastery in quest greens I knew there was something special about you but it wasn’t until you healed me through the steps of ZF that I realised you were bind on pick up.”

Sorry.  This is an absurd flight of fancy.  How did I get here?  What was I talking about?  Who am I?  What am I doing?

Oh yes.

Several successful PUGs.  I am very happy.  M’Pocket Tank and I have fallen in a with a warlock from one of Emerald Dream’s more (supposedly) hardcore raiding guilds.  We ran AN and the weekend and DTK yesterday.  AN is a pointless hole in the ground but nobody told me there was a fuck off enormous dinosaur in DTK.  I am completely converted to Northrend instances.  Yes, I am that shallow.

I don’t know what was wrong with us but we ran DTK like a bunch of spanners.  There was self, M’Pocket Tank, a deathtard, a hunter and the warlock.  The hunter was shockingly, amazingly competent.  And the Deathtard turned out to be 14 but was very sweet and, actually, by no means the worst DK I’ve played with.  I think that says damning things about the class as a whole.  But basically we were all off our game.  M’Pocket kept accidentally body pulling.  At one point, I blinked and when I’d opened my eyes again I was a big glowing blue angel and everybody else was dead.  Did I fall asleep on the job?  The warlock committed suicide while opening a can of beer and spamming Rain of Fire on a large group of mobs (there’s a moral in there somewhere, kids).

We got through it through and the whole experience was actually, bizarrely, gigglesomely fun.  There was a lot of banter and a lot of apologising and lot of not really playing any less like spanners.  But it does go to show that whatever magic spark makes an instance a genuinely pleasant experience isn’t necessarily quantifiable. If someone had told me at the outset “you’re going to run an instance, and you’re going to play like a spanner all the way through” I’d have surely gone “errr, sorry, I think I’ll pass.”

The spannering zenith (or do I mean nadir) came when I was squealing happily at the fuck off enormous dinosaur and it somehow seemed like a good idea to suggest that the hunter try to make a pet of it.  I will generous take 25% of the blame for what followed but I think the hunter deserves at least 50% for agreeing to it and the other 25% of blame can be apportioned to the rest of the party for egging us on.

I’ve never seen a hunter in action but the plan, as I understood it, involved the hunter making sweet sweet love to the fuck off enormous dinosaur while I kept her alive. Fuck off enormous dinosaurs apparently like it rough.   But, anyway, the flaw in this otherwise sound and watertight plan was this (I suppose you’ve already spotted it – and I like to think I’d have spotted it myself if I hadn’t been in the grip of Spanneritus):  healing, of course, generates threat.

So was happened was this:

Hunter: So … what’s a nice fuck off enormous dinosaur like you doing in an instance like this?

King Dread:  ROAAAAAR!

Me: Renew, flash heal, flash heal, greater heal SQUISH.

Hunter: So … do you maybe, y’know, wanna come back to my place and catch a Doug McClure movie… SQUISH.

I guess King Dread just isn’t that kind of fuck off enormous dinosaur.

June 21, 2009

Goth of the lichking

Filed under: Bitchin 'n' Moanin,Diversions,Real Men Wear Purple,Vainglory — Tamarind @ 9:55 pm

I do have some irritated, semi-serious things to write about but I like to reserve weekends for fluff and frivolity.

So let’s talk about the gear in Northrend.  No, no, I don’t mean the stats, I mean the important stuff.  I mean, how it looks.  Last weekend I posted a picture of Tam sporting his most deadly off-hand weapon yet.  I think part of the reason the pretty bouquet looks more absurd than usual is because the rest of his get-up is so Very Dark and Serious.  He looks like Valentine’s Day at the Inquisition.

Say it with flowers (and pilliwinks).

Since then I’ve actually been playing quite a lot, meandering rather than slouching towards 80, the upshot of which is that my entire outfit has pretty much turned over.  Unfortunately, this also includes the pretty flowers, which have been replaced by … well … some kind of dildo?  Anyway, horror of the off-hand item aside, Tam now looks like this:

tam again

Spot the difference?

No.  Neither can I.

I’m not seriously pining for the days of the Outland clown suit and I know there are different design principles underlying Northrend gear (everything goes with everything, I think?) but I’m sick of looking like I bought all my clothes from Alchemy Gothic.

Once you hit endgame, you obviously want to look as cool as possible, especially in the shoulder department, the bigger the better, oh yeah, if they don’t look like a psycho’s bonsai collection something has gone horribly wrong. I swear to God those Aged Pauldrons of the Five Thunders look like they come with cup holders.  But I actually believe one of the diversions of levelling is the regular turn-over of utterly ludicrous outfits.  You know, the gimpy helmet, the blue trousers that look like they’ve shrunk in the wash, the nerdy sandals, the bright orange arse-length cloak, combined with a midriff revealing shirt in alternating purple and green stripes.

And very, very occasionally it would all come together and, for a brief shinning moment between level 42 and 45, by pure luck, you’d somehow contrive to look like you hadn’t got dressed in the dark without your thumbs.

Aaah.  Those were the days.

I remember fondly the sweet moment mid-instance when some awesomely powerful piece of blue loot would drop (awesomely powerful for level 35 at least) and you’d click need with trembling, excited fingers.  And then, yes, joy of joys, it would be yours.  Yours!  And gleefully you’d equip it, ready to take on all the world … only to have the rest of your party fall about laughing at the ridiculous figure you cut.

I’m not in the habit of taking WoW-screenshots (it feels rather like taking photographs of yourself, i.e. a bit vain and weird) but here are a couple of Tam from his “glory” days of sartorial desperation.

This was a particular disaster – damned if I can remember what it was, I’ve probably erased it from my mind for self-protection.  Weirdly immodest and impractical, to say nothing of the dungaree-style Noddy buttons.  No wonder Tam looks so pissed off.

Naked Robe...dear boy!

And this is the famous sissy robe.  And there is a Tam, resplendent and really very very purple, a man entirely comfortable with his masculinity.

WoWScrnShot_112408_235909

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