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Milk of Human Kindness

WoW Insider’s Community Blog question this week is “What’s your end game?” This is a question I‘ve been asking myself this week. It doesn’t feel that straightforward to me. There is one easy answer – a description of what my end game currently is.  And there is another answer –  what I would like my end game to be. Two different things.

What my end game is: – Well I seem to be juggling a lot at the moment. Seashell my mage is on the “earn 3000 valor points” part of the Legendary Questline (the Black Prince now reveres me  – although deep down I suspect he reveres no one but himself). I understand that the delights of PvP & fighting masochistic Celestials awaits me on the rest of this questline.  It all feels rather overwhelming when I think too long about it …  one step at a time I guess.

As well as that I’m trying to get all the various cooking Ways done  (I have Grill & Pot so far). It’s slow going. I’m either out farming ever day until my little hands bleed or guiltily paying over the odds at the auction house.

Then there’s the Anglers,  Isle of Thunder & Timeless Isle stuff (I want the trinket). I’m leaving the other dailies for the moment. I just can’t do it all.  I’m trying to run a scenario a day with my husband & one random person. The random person normally leaves us to get on with it – sensing a domestic on the horizon. Which there sometimes is – particularly when hubby makes me run around getting in all the hozen brew while he plays with the cannon.

Ok so that’s what it is. Fun – yes, definitely. There is a variety of things to do. I’ve never enjoyed an end game as much as this one. While I’m still levelling some alts I actually find I miss being on Seashell, which is unusual for me once I’m at the level cap. But is it the end game I want? No – not exactly. I like the variety of things I’m doing  & I enjoy teaming up with hubby. But there’s still an issue – and that issue is LFR.

I want to do LFR at end game. And I want to enjoy it. I am never going to be a “proper” raider.  But I do like LFR level raiding. I like it a lot. Or at least I like it a lot when it goes well. And by well I don’t mean no mistakes and no wipes. No – I recognise that these are an important part of the game, part of the challenge, part of the learning curve. No – by going well I mean when the people are nice, friendly & tolerant. Or if incapable of that then at least neutrally silent. But unfortunately I see neither of these things in LFR. I usually see  impatience, intolerance  &  abuse. And this is an unwelcome part of my WoW end game & is turning me away from something I should be enjoying.

There are some truly awful people in LFR. The things they say are extremely offensive.  Their attitude towards other people is quite appalling. The abuse stuns me. I have never spoken to anyone the way they speak to other people in the raid.  The bottom line seems to be that no one can make mistakes. No one can learn. Apparently because some of these raids have been out for a long time everyone should know exactly what they are doing. The fact that in every single LFR there are people who are there for the first time  completely escapes them. I notice some of these “first timers” now announcing their inexperience as they enter the raid. “First time here”  they confess  – the unspoken part of  this is often a plea I think- something along the lines of,  “Show some patience please. Explain the fight. Don’t be mean.” But of course there is rarely patience, rarely explanations and nearly always meanness.

It seems that even if it is your first time in a raid you are expected to know everything, to have read all the strats & to have remembered every single boss mechanic. You are expected to have good reactions & spatial awareness (lo betide anyone who gets themselves in a bit of a state when the screen is an explosion of numbers & colours). You should have watched the videos,  committed it all to memory & you should know exactly what you need to do in every situation. And yet of course for many people it’s not that easy.  Many people do not learn by reading and/or watching. They have to do something to understand it.  And yes that might mean making mistakes. In fact it often means making mistakes. Like falling down the hole when the platform disappears. Yes that can  happen. I’ve seen it happen lots of times in LFR. And it happened to me the first time (when my addon said the floor was dropping away I thought it meant the main floor so ran ONTO the platform!). But you know what? It’s never happened again. This is because I, & most people, try to learn from mistakes. After all it’s a fairly important part of life. So when someone has messed up  in LFR next time they usually remember the mechanic that caused the death, fall, shame etc. and are more aware to ensure it doesn’t happen again. They learn to move  quicker, target the adds, run from the wall, distinguish between platform and floor. That’s how it works.

Except of course in LFR it doesn’t – not because people don’t learn, but because many are so horrified by the level of abuse they see that they leave & never come back. And this means that something that might have been an enjoyable part of their end game is cut off from them. And that shouldn’t be the case.

I have no answers to this. I see my end game being constrained by my apprehension about LFR. I’m yet to try SoO – I have heard that the mechanics are complex & while I’m happy to have a go, fail, learn & have another go, I suspect there will be plenty in LFR unwilling to give me the chance to do so.

So I stay away. I run scenarios with husband & do my dailies. But it’s not what I actually want my end game to be – not fully anyway. I want my end game to include at least some degree of raiding, albeit the watered down, raiding for non raiders that is LFR. But I can’t easily have that – at least not in a non-stressful, pleasant way. And I find that frustrating.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Stone Guard Huddle

Ok boys we’re  the four stone guards & we’re going into LFR. I like a bit of light relief on a Sunday evening- gives you boys a chance to blow off some steam. Now as it’s LFR it’ll only be three  of us. But I’m not going to say who’s in until the  fight has started. There’s a possibility one of you’s a snitch in cahoots with the raid leader – you’ve gone red Amethyst, anything you want to confess? Anyway I’m not taking any chances.

As you know… or should know … I hope you’ve all been reading the guide I posted on the forum… sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself on there… we all share one giant health pool. But – and this is important … we have individual energy bars.  No Amethyst – not the type you eat-  and I emphasise the word “you” there. You’re starting to put the chunk in amethyst chunks aren’t you? These are different energy bars and they are important. You should also have a Solid Stone  buff up when we start. What do you mean Jade you don’t know what a buff is? How did you get to raid boss level without using any buffs? You what …you’ve always been low level trash and the most you’ve ever done is Vanilla 5 mans?  I don’t believe it!  Where did you get the gear to be in this raid? Oh you’ve been grinding Timeless Isle for Bosses have you? Say no more.

Anyway where was I? Ah yes.. Solid Stone. Well it reduces any damage you take by 90%. Good yes? NO! Not good. It stops you generating energy and we need energy. The buff goes away though when we stand close together.  And what have I always told you? We’re a family and we have to stick together – even you Amethyst, even though I’m starting to hate you.

When we’re close together we gain energy & one of us will reach maximum energy at some point. Let’s face it – it’ll probably be me. You think my day is over when this is done? No sirree. I’m back out there lifting weights  … I can lift my own body weight, no TWICE my own body weight, with just one arm. Try me … over here Jasper.  Let’s show them. No. Ok maybe later. I also take a spin class every Wednesday morning. I’m super fit. I could be in the Stone Guard marines, if it wasn’t for my flat feet.

Ok so when one of us gains maximum energy we are basically overloaded. Nothing new for me there. I’m always overloaded. What with keeping you guys in line and making sure old Meng the Demented is happy … he thinks he’s a chicken these days, I have to stop him pet battling every squirrel in sight. So I’m already overloaded. But this is a different sort- it’s overloaded in the maximum energy sort of way.   And when one of us is overloaded we cause lots of damage to those saps out there. Unfortunately one of us will also be reducing damage at that point with the Petrification effect.  More on that later.

Ok so as well as standing close together to build energy – and don’t be scared to hug it up boys  … it’s ok to have feelings … it’s not like we’re made of stone … oh wait, yes we are … well it’s nurture not nature, that’s what I always say …well anyway – what else do we need to do? Well we need to rend that’s what. We need to rend those motherf&%ers into the ground. Sorry sorry – no need for bad language. It’s just that those guys make me so mad. They reckon we’re the easiest fight in LFR. Us …easy! We’ll bloody show them. The floor will be awash with their blood.  Don’t look so sick Jade.  Bloody bleeding heart. Where’s your stone guard killer instinct? Think of what they did to your children – all those necklaces. Anyway our rend only causes a little bit of bleeding and you can always look away.  I’ve done worse to myself  filing down my corners – the missus likes me smooth. But still it’s blood and it’s theirs. So spill it.

What else … hold on … let me check what Icy Veins says. Ah yes, here it is.  Amethyst- if you’re in the raid… and I’m hoping you’re not… I want to see those pools coming thick and fast. Those guys in the raid – well we all know they never move out of your pools – the purple transfixes them or something. So keep it coming. I’ll be supporting you with my cobalt mines – chucking detonating shards around like there’s no tomorrow. Again you’d swear they were magnetic the way those players run right towards them.  It’s beautiful. And Jade …well I know you don’t have much in the way of a special ability, but this is your first raid and the experience counts for everything.  Just try and get your jade shards out every 10 seconds. The entire raid will take some damage from them and it’ll panic the healers every time you do it.

Now Jasper… I’ve not forgotten about you sitting there quiet in the corner. You’ve got the cleverest  ability out of the lot of us. You’ll chain two players together. This is the morality lesson part of the raid. We’re actually trying to show them that family is the only thing that matters, that family sticks together and that they should regard themselves as one big raiding family. Of course they won’t do this.  No one in LFR can stand the sight of each other. So inevitably they will run away from each other. And that’s where the fun starts. Did I say fun. I meant fire. Which is fun of course. For us anyway.  Unfortunately if they’re apart for 15 seconds the chains disappear. This  is something I’m not very happy about …makes no sense … but my letters to Blizzard are being returned unopened. So we just have to make do with casting more chains as soon as we can. I need you on form here Jasper. No AFKing. Not like last time. And I don’t want to hear your funny story about the cat distracting you with a tap dance. If it’s not on YouTube it never happened.

Now while all this is going on one of you will be casting Petrification. I mentioned it earlier. This will slow the players right down. Now again we win some we lose some. Whichever one of us casts Petrification also loses 90% from the type of damage we cause. But the Petrification is worth it. Yes it is Jasper – stop shaking your head. Who’s the raid leader here, you or me? When the Petrification reaches maximum level the entire raid will be frozen  & turned to stone. Which is always my favourite bit. Unfortunately there is a way to stop Petrification. If the one casting Petrification reaches maximum energy and overloads … yes  it’ll be me … I’m a machine … this stops Petrification. So the raid team will obviously try to overload whichever one of us is casting Petrification. They’ll do this by trying to move whichever of us is casting Petrification close to one of the others so we gain energy quickly and overload. So in these cases we need to move apart. Yes I know I said earlier you need to stand together but not if you’re casting Petrification and your energy is going up. That’s when you move. It’s quite simple. Yes? What do you mean no? What do you mean it’s too complicated and you can’t be bothered? Come back. Come back.  Where you’re going? It’s only LFR- I haven’t even got onto 10 man & Heroic tactics yet.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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Back to School

Ambermist over on Tastes Like Battle Chicken has suggested a Shared Topic on Blog Azeroth. She asks:-

what about WoW just doesn’t work for you? Maybe it’s something you aren’t good at, maybe it’s something you just don’t understand, maybe it’s something people like that you really never got into and don’t understand the appeal”

In thinking about this my mind kept on returning to something I read the other day  in another WoW blog – something along the lines that if you can’t play your class by the time you’re 90 then there’s no hope for you. I actually think that’s complete nonsense. There’s always hope – I’m living proof (after all I survived the Durumu maze yesterday!).

But it does lead into what doesn’t work in WoW for me – and that is the fact that the degree of skill needed to level your character is so markedly different from the skills needed to raid & to a lesser extent run dungeons.

In my opinion you can easily  get to 90 without really knowing how to play your class. I could have got to 90 as a mage purely questing & spamming Arcane Blast in every single fight. And contrary to popular opinion that is not all that Arcane Mages do in proper  boss fights. We have to do complicated things like count to 4, keep an eye on Living Bomb and remember which of the  Mirror Images can’t be trusted.

But yes getting to 90 could have been just an Arcane Blast spamfest.  Certainly I would have died more often (in reality I have at least tried to use other abilities & so have done my fair share of freezing & blinking to get myself out of trouble – often blinking right into another pack of mobs of course – but that’s another story).  But even with more deaths and messier fights my progress would have continued and I’d have got there in the end.  I actually think that many people just “get there in the end” i.e. get to 90 without properly knowing all the tricks of their particular trade.

And that’s fine. To enjoy this game you don’t actually need to know how to play your class well. You can quest, level, fish, dig and dance without knowing your class inside out. In fact you can be on only nodding acquaintance with your class to do this & lots more.  You only really need to know how to play your class well when it comes to dungeons & raids  (& of course PvP)- in other words when (a)the difficulty level steps up a gear (b)you bring other people into the mix.

I think problems arise in WoW when people think that just because they have hit the level cap they can easily succeed in a complicated raid or dungeon.  Someone at 90 might very well not be good at dealing with dungeon mechanics, avoiding bad stuff on the ground, using interrupts or basically doing anything other than standing stock still & hitting things.  All that levelling via questing trains you for is the latter – see mob, hit mob X times, loot mob. And so this is what I think is missing from WoW  – a leveling experience that truly trains you for a raiding end game.

I speak from personal experience in all this of course. In fact despite the “pro” freezing & blinking referred to above I’ve been shockingly reliant on a very limited number of spells in my levelling experience. So much so that I froze (in a non Mage sense) the other day in LFR when someone said “Mage table” (as an aside note the lack of “please”). I had forgotten I could even set a table (real life doesn’t help – we always eat on our laps). I’ve also written previously about my mishaps with  Slowfall in a group  & the other day I counterspelled  when I meant to blink.  And I realise these are very basic abilities. Sigh.

What I wish for is an in-game dungeon & raid Training School. I’d enroll in a heart beat. I’d even wear the uniform.  Year 1 would involve running 5 man dungeons with NPCs. If you’re Dps they would  be Tank & Healer etc. These dungeons would be different from the dungeons in-game at present in that there would be more complex mechanics involved, more need for situational awareness &  less abuse  (in fact the NPCs would be programmed to say encouraging words throughout such as,  “Well done Seashell, you sheeped that troll, yes I know you then broke CC because you forgot to change targets but yay for the sheeping, we are so proud” etc.).

In Year 2 the dungeons would step up in complexity & become tailored to your particular class. Additionally on occasion one NPC would play up and have to be shown the error of his ways – bonus points if you get the NPC to apologise for yelling Gogogo & calling the healer a noob. Party chat would sometimes be disturbing – particularly if there were NPC Pandarians in the group. But it would be good experience.  You would fail the dungeon if you did not use all the necessary abilities. You would even need to conjure refreshment, cast Slowfall & correct someone’s grammar. The full caboodle. Most importantly no mob would go unsheeped. You get the idea.

Before entering Year 3 you’d need to run some proper dungeons in the real Azeroth world with real people. Then when ready (i.e. out of therapy) you’d come back to school for the 10 man raiding experience (9 NPCs – all with their own interesting personality quirks, including one who claims he’s a real player trapped in the raid by Blizzard) & in year 4 the 25 man experience with a boss whose  abilities would change in ever single encounter (oooh hardcore). And then & only then would you be released into the wild i.e. LFR.

Oh it would be amazing. I understand that Proving Grounds has been introduced as a way to challenge yourself and practice your class (or a new class specialisation) alone. But I don’t see that it prepares you for group experiences and raids & I do think it comes too late in the game. Not because by 90 you already know it all, but because by 90 you could know so much more, and there could be something in the game that could help you with this. So come on Blizzard – the summer hols are over, let’s go back to school.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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Green Green Grass of Home

The Wow Insider Community Blog topic is “What’s your most & least favourite expansion?” I notice that many people in the comments have said Wrath is  their favourite & that’s true for me too. Wrath wins, hands down.  But the reason Wrath wins for me is  not because of the Lich King story line (excellent though it is), not because of ICC (I didn’t even know what ICC was back then – & even now when someone say ICC I think they are talking about the cricket) & not because of the introduction of the “combat on vehicles” thing- which I hate.  No the reason  I love Wrath the most & the Burning Crusade the least is the landscape. The world part of the World of Warcraft is important to me. I need to enjoy the world in which I’m questing.

The thing is –  I like a bit of greenery. I’m Welsh after all – we like our hills, valleys and bays. Vanilla WoW was home from home. Sort of.  Elwynn Forest – we  have one just like it 20 minutes down the road (less Defias – though there is the odd wino). Menethil Harbour – Cardiff Bay with crocolisks.  The monsters of Duskwood  – Swansea on a Friday night (I’ve had way too many drunken Stitches lumbering towards me).  I have to admit I didn’t like Stranglethorn- too tropical for me –  you can have too much sun (and gorillas). But  it wasn’t long before I was off to Arathi  – cue Sound of Music opening scene – my toon singing her little heart out at the top of the hill, the raptors joining in with impressive harmonies.

I also loved Winterspring (ooh Christmasy), Feralas and of course Auberdine at sunset.  I turned my nose up at the Barrens, Blasted Lands & Desolace – anything too red and dry. And Silithus … well say no more, I looked, I saw, I hearthstoned  out of there to chill out in Southshore.

But then that fateful day came. I turned 58.  It was time to cross the Dark Portal. It was all very exciting. My husband joined me at the screen to watch. We took a screenshot. I rang my mother. It was quite the occasion.  And then I landed on the other side. The first bit was ok- get thee to Honor Hold.  And then the guys there sent me out to get some stuff and I saw it. I saw it all. Oh dear god I thought, what is this? The ground- why does it slope? What are those bones? What’s that thing running towards me screeching? Why can’t I kill it? (I checked myself out for  resurrection sickness –  I was so weak & feeble). And the sky … my toon & I craned our necks to look upwards – she saw shattered space,  I saw a crack in the ceiling. Neither of us were happy.

I somehow got through Hellfire & made my way to Zangarmarsh. It was slightly better. The ground was fairly flat, although getting to certain quest givers without the ability to fly was a tedious affair.  But there was an interesting bluish quality to the light and the Cenarion  Expedition were kind. Still – it wasn’t home. Occasionally I’d go back to the Eastern Kingdoms for a brief respite  – I’d spend a nice morning  in Menthil Harbour and then catch up with old friends in Elwynn. I hugged them all before leaving but they told me I had to go – I sometimes had the feeling I’d outstayed my welcome. Maybe it’s true – you can never truly go back.  But I couldn’t go forward either – the Outland areas were all so  strange and unfamiliar. BC changed the game for me. I lost my bearings. I missed home. It was only Terrokar Forest & Nagrand that gave me a taste of the familiar –  I loved them both (although Nagrand was almost too cloyingly sweet- I prefer an edge to my green), but my enjoyment was short lived –  before I knew it I was off to Blade’s Edge  and Shadowmoon Valley, and once again I became a stranger in a strange land. I got to 70 and started levelling an alt. I pretended the Outlands  didn’t exist.

Then came  Wrath. I dug out my main & put her on a boat. She was anxious but I told her I’d heard good things about it. We landed in Borean Tundra and took a deep breath. It was icy cold but the sky was still in one piece. Maybe, just maybe, things were looking up. I did some questing & went up a few levels.  Already I was enjoying it more than BC.  And then I discovered Grizzly Hills. You can imagine my joy. There were trees, there was grass, there were even loggers. Nothing like some good deforestation to warm my cockles.  I considered buying a cabin. And then I found out…oh best not…spoilers. Suffice to say I killed everyone & quickly moved on.  Good times. Good times. I enjoyed nearly all the Wrath areas – even Icecrown which isn’t the most welcoming of places it has to be said. But I struck up a friendship with the Knights of the Ebonblade by incessantly trying to mimic the way they sound (friendship with husband took a bit of a knock at this time – “For the love of god stop talking like that!!”) & never looked back. The only area I missed was Storm Peaks & the Sons of Hodir questline (I know – shocking. They still hate me after all this time – I  send Christmas cards but they are returned unopened.) I hit 80 in Icecrown and never really moved on from there. I had come. I had seen. I had conquered. But then I got bored. It happens.

But the magic of the expansion stayed with me. And the following expansions never quite matched it.  I will take MoP over Cata any day.  I love Pandaria & for the first time since I started I have explored every area even after hitting the level cap (I know for many people hitting the level cap is just the start of the game, but for me it’s always been the death knell of my enjoyment. But not in MoP though – there is still so much to do and enjoy.)  Cata was particularly strange for me – it marked my return to the game and gave me the chance to revisit the starting areas (although that was sad too – Auberdine in particular broke my heart & Menthil Harbour- well no more Saturday mornings there unless I take a snorkel). But I wasn’t that keen on all the new areas – I really really disliked Vashjir (more water) & Deepholm (more rock).  I loved all the Thrall stuff of course &  Deathwing.

Cata was also the expansion in which I first started to raid a little (I used LFR  & I also did some 10 man normal stuff with the guild). This was both a good & bad thing.  On the one hand it meant I finally started  thinking properly about my class & my gear (I’d survived more through luck than judgement up until this point).  But on the other hand it meant the game started becoming more  stressful.  Occasionally I’d think back to when I first started and my discovery of the world and I’d experience a real pang. Back in Vanilla, BC & Wrath I never worried about what anyone thought of me in the game. It was a solo journey. If I saw people when I was out questing then all I needed to do, at most, was wave & buff  (for politeness sake). That was the extent of my interaction.  I was enjoying my own  journey. In Cata though I started playing with others (& even doing old world dungeons as I levelled my alts) & I immediately felt that all my shortcomings  were put on show for the world to see. This is still something I wrestle with. In MoP I have consciously returned to a more questing & exploring approach to the game. I’m trying to rediscover the feelings that first brought me into WoW. MoP – unlike Cata – feels like an expansion that encourages this.

So in summary I think I can say:

I endured Cata, I survived BC, I enjoyed (and I’m still enjoying) MoP. But Wrath was the expansion I loved because it was an expansion that felt like coming home.  It took me back to Azeroth the early years. Not a place but a state of mind, and all the more precious because of this.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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All the small dudes

As a result of my vow not to raid anymore (although I have recently done 3 LFRs  – the lure of all those VPs was too much to resist – I want a pair of valor boots so what’s a girl to do?), I’ve started doing more of the other things on offer in WoW.

Like a dedicated follower of Julia Child I first began by scrutinising the Cooking profession achievement list to see where I had  gaps.  Having decided that I was not quite up to finishing off the Chef title at the moment – just need to do Dinner Impossible but I hear it doesn’t go down too well with PvPers – I instead  finished up the Pandaren eating achievement (yes when in doubt eat) and  cooked my way up to the Pandaren Gourmet achievement (eating again as I went along so as not to use up valuable bag space). I’ve also started slowly getting my cooking up to 600 (currently in the late 570s) by building rep with the Tillers and expanding my farm so I can grow my own veggies (while in real life my overgrown lawn stares morosely at me through the kitchen window).

The farm is great for all sorts of course.  I’ve even started planting windshear cactus seeds as a lazy way to get more windwool cloth (this will help me make enough celestial cloth to craft Leggings of the Night Sky  – ilevel 553 – perfect with my new boots – I will be quite the fashion icon in Halfhill). I’ve also nearly maxed out my fishing (although as part of that spent a fruitless hour Saturday night trying to fish up the Giant Sewer Rat in Dalaran – when did my Saturday nights become so exciting I asked myself as I reeled in another crystal vial).  I’m halfway through the Isle of Thunder stuff (love the solo instances)  and even had a nice day out on Timeless Isle (and yes that will be my answer when back in work and asked if I went somewhere nice on holiday –  “Yes I did actually –  I visited the islands”, “Oh which ones?”,  “Oh you won’t know them – Isle of Thunder & the Timeless  Isle – very exclusive resorts. But you do need a good weapon.”

So a full WoW life – yes. Except … except … in the last few days I’ve discovered something that has pushed all of the above into the background, something that I now think about obsessively when I’m not in the game & something that I’ve started playing constantly when I’m in the game. Yes you’ve probably guessed it – I know I’m not the only person who has  succumbed to this addiction –  Pet Battles.  It’s finally got me.

For some reason until now it had almost completely passed me by. Yes  I did end up doing one or two battles in Elwynn Forest on one of my husband’s characters  when it was first introduced. But it just irritated me. Every time I saw a green paw I felt I had to click it even though I was busy mining or questing or whatever I was doing at the time. Then I kept capturing all sorts of things  (unable to resist the lure of a sparkling crate) so had three of everything- all poor quality. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing & pretty soon stopped.

But I’ve now decided to give it another go – not just because of the no raiding thing but also because that exclamation mark above the Celestial Tournament host on Timeless Isle is so tantalising. I want to be able to take part in the Celestial Tournament and to do so I need 15 pets at level 25. Gulp.

So this time I decided to do it properly. I took Seashell along to the pet battle trainer in Stormwind & got my first quest.  I have a few pets already – I’m not a collector but you inevitably gather a few in WoW over the years eg Core Hound Pup, Azure Whelping, Sinister Squashling, Fossilized Hatchling, Creepy Crate etc. Because of the guild I was also able to buy Lil’ Tarecgosa. So a fairly decent starting squad.

Off I trotted into the wilds of Elwynn. I selected my first victim…I mean opponent …and clicked the green paw.  A couple of rounds later there was a dead critter at my feet. Oh how I celebrated. It was great fun.  Too much fun in fact. Because now I can’t stop. The achievements keep popping up. I’ve even won a few PvP pet battles. I’ve had none of that nervous terror I feel when raiding.  There was none of the old “you’re standing in the wrong place  again, you’re lost again, you’re dead again” trauma.  No it was just me and my dudes out in the field beating the crap out of skunks, hares and rats like the WoW pest control officer I’ve always wanted to be.

But oh – those battles can be tricky. I’m currently stuck in The Hinterlands unable to beat David Kosse’s pets. I hate Subject 142 – he’s either burrowing or dodging- either way I can’t get a hit in. But I will get there. Subject 142 will be mine (well  not mine actually –  he will dead – really DEAD – I swear it).

I’m really getting into it.  I’m starting to learn which pet type does well against which pet type and which of my lovely friends have great finishing moves or dots or heals. And I now have a level 10 Snake called Trusty (I’ve promised them all names when they reach level 10, he is named after the “Trust in me” snake in  Jungle Book).  Me and Trusty – well we  got off to a rocky start. I nearly battered him the other day when out on my farm  –  I forgot he was my pet & thought he was a pest. But it’s all good now. He’s won us a few battles with his own great burrowing ability & has earned my undying love.

So it’s me and my dudes ruling the wilds of Azeroth. And Subject 142 – your days are numbered my little friend.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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If Only

Created my first little comic strip. Ok it’s a little basic but it’s my first one. Fab site to play around on too. Husband commented it kept me quiet for an hour – so he was happy. Anyway here it is (can’t embed it on here sadly)…..it’s called If Only

Edited to add a link to the second one  – called Fearless

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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Cut me Mick

Raiding. Hmmm. Well I gave it a go. Never let it be said I haven’t tried. Last year I did DS Normal & by the end had just about got the hang of it. This time round though – well it’s just not going to happen. Last Saturday had a brief (unsuccessful) attempt at SoO (1st boss)  & then Throne of Thunder  (got to boss 2) & last night a bit more of Throne of Thunder (got to boss 3). By the end of last night I was logging out & preparing for my new WoW career – maybe fisherman, possibly archaeologist. Definitely something quiet & death free – something I can do in my slippers. Definitely no more raids.

Now it’s important to be clear this is not the fault of the raid leader – he is very supportive, knowledgeable &  helpful  – and he will likely read this too :) And it’s not the fault of the raid team – particularly the two who helped me get an Armani war bear from Zul Aman before the raid (lovely people – also possibly reading but it’s all true!) It is just that however understanding some people in a raid group are about (a)your lack of experience (b)your lack of good gear- I am ilevel 483 and  (c)your lack of situational awareness, keyboard skills & the ability to work a mouse in moments of high pressure – there will be other people in the raid who expect everyone to display a certain level of competence. A level I can’t reach. Not yet. Maybe not ever. And their disappointment/disapproval with the performance of certain raiders (me)  is evident- and irritating.

Because  I am only going into a raid (a)when the required number of “proper” raiders haven’t been reached – not enough people signed etc (b)after having made numerous suggestions that they get someone else with better gear/dps. So when I finally agree to go (after all I do want to see behind the curtain & maybe, just maybe, get my head around some of the mechanics, get some gear and have fun), I don’t  want my performance and gear assessed. I don’t need it. I can assess my own performance & gear perfectly well. Just because someone is not up to scratch doesn’t mean  (a)they need to be told they’re not up to scratch (b)need to be told how to get up to scratch. They might know both  (a) & (b) but may have a plan to get to where they want to be. Too many  assumptions are often made.

So for example in SoO a well meaning whisper informed me I should get myself gemmed & enchanted if I wanted to raid. Now when I did DS I was always gemmed & enchanted. And again I say it was well meaning- but it was whispered as the raid leader was explaining the tactics & I was trying to listen. So not great timing.  And on Saturday I’d only got half my gear that same day  – a combination of  Timeless Isle loot & some reckless splurging on the AH. The  only thing in my head had been reaching ilevel 480 & I was over the moon when I did (I know – so low, but for me so wondrously high!). And I only ended up on the raid because  they were going to cancel it because they didn’t have enough people and were asking people to come & I said I’m only  480 (I was beaming as I typed it – 480!!) , and then the reply was well  it all helps, and next thing- spur of the moment- I’m in SoO. So I was clear with everyone that I knew my ilevel was not high enough but the view was yes we know, we won’t actually kill anything  this time but let’s have a look & see what the 1st boss is like. Which we did. And yes we wiped. But we got to experience it. So it was good. But because of that whisper I felt crap about not remembering gems so once we left that raid & were agreeing to have a go at ToT I was stopping off at the AH panic buying lots of gems & then heading off to ToT feeling stressed &  skint & wondering why I was choosing to spend my Saturday night in this way!

ToT itself was fun until we got to the stupid windy bridge & I fell off so many times I feared all my new Timeless Isle gear would get trashed  (I was red from head to toe). Then I died in the Horridon fight (double swiped  – did not get out of the way quick enough). So not great but at least I got to watch the fight from my position dead on the ground.

But Tuesday. Ugh.  I think there were issues with the different expectations of some of the people in the raid (not the raid leader  – I must stress that, but one or two others). And I’m not criticising but I am saying the expectations are different & so I did not enjoy the experience. I play WoW to have fun & I know I have more fun quietly tilling my soil with Farmer Yoon (& that is not a euphemism).

Again I was not going to go on the raid (should have been in choir- that’s another story), again I said there are stronger dpsers etc.  but again I had a lovely  encouragement to come along, that there weren’t enough otherwise & they would need to pug . And I only died once this time on the bridge & did not die  when we took Horridon down & I avoided the double swipe! Improvements. Yay! But then it all went horribly wrong.

On the 3rd boss I did not understand  “kill the dark ones” first . Stupidly I was looking for something called “dark ones” (Pressing F frantically looking for the right thing to target), then could not find the Loa Spirits when they spawned, and then did not move quickly enough out of bad stuff on the ground. There was just a mass of things on screen and I couldn’t see anything. I struggle to make sense of anything on screen in a fight. I’m like Rocky – “cut me Mick cut me” – virtually bloody eyed & dizzy, slumped against the ropes.  To be fair eventually my brain catches up with my eyes, or vice versa, and my fingers catch up with my brain. But by the time I’ve caught up everyone is dead.

The worse thing is how slow I am to run, jump, blink (or dance even – anything – just bloody move Shell) out of crap. I’m so slow finding the right keys in those moments. So when a voice comes through Team Speak nicely advising me not to stand somewhere & I’m already trying to move because I know not to stand there- & I have about 3 million addons also telling me not to stand there –  well the whole thing is not fun, it’s the opposite of fun if I’m honest.

And when I know I’m not geared enough & struggling to move quickly enough & – because I’m panicking – letting my rotation go to pot, then I don’t  really want to feel like my performance is being assessed by a far more advanced raider who expects more out of the raid & wants to know “why the dps is so low” and says we have no ranged dps when I – a mage – am standing right there waving at him (ok not waving actually-  something like waving – with a finger).

Oh I think it’s lovely that the guild want me to come along & the raid leader is lovely, patient, supportive etc. but I’m so not ready for that type of raiding & more importantly, having experienced Tuesday, I don’t want to be ready. It’s a  part of the game that brings pressure. In real life my job is very demanding & I put a lot of pressure on myself. In WoW I just want to chill and have fun, see lovely gleaming achievement boxes pop up on a regular basis, maybe collect mounts, pets,  do Loremaster. There’s so much to do that doesn’t involve me wanting to curl up & die because I fell off a bridge. So the life of a raider is not for me – unless the raid is so old it can be soloed. So Seige of Orgrimmar- I think that means I’ll next be seeing you  when I’m level 150 in game & about 75 in real life. If my eyes are up to it that is.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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Garrosh before the Committee

Well we all know what has happened to Garrosh, but what is less well known is that it should never have come to this.  A few weeks  ago the Azeroth Senate Committee- in a scene curiously reminiscent of Michael Corleone before the Senate Committee in The Godfather Part 2 , tried to call him to account for his actions. This ultimately failed, leading to recent events, but it makes for interesting reading as the following extract from the Committee record shows.

Committee Chairman: Are you the son of Grommash Hellscream?

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: Yes, I am.

Committee Chairman: And where was he born?

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: Draenor, straight through the Dark Portal, turn right.

Committee Chairman: Did he at times use an alias that was known in certain circles as “Grom?”

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: Grom is a term that was used by his friends – one of affection, one of respect. Grommash  means “The Giant’s Heart” and my father never liked that. He had an absolute terror  of turning into a giant and so use of his full name would upset him. The minute it happened he’d turn pale and  run off to get a tape measure. People learned to stop using the full name – apart from tailors that is – they seize any opportunity they can to measure you for a suit.

Senator Thalen Songweaver: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I would like to verify the witness’s statement. Not just the tailor bit – although I do have a love of fashion as you can probably see (does a twirl). For years now a growing number of my spiritual brothers and sisters have been of Draenor Orcan decent, and I’ve come to know them well. They have honored me with their support and bribery … I mean friendship. Indeed, I can proudly say that some of my very best friends are Draenor-Orcs – despite the way they look. And please do not read anything into the fact that as I speak I am edging out of the door Mr. Chairman. At this time, very unfortunately, I have to leave these proceedings in order to preside over a very important committee, a Sunreaver one – I was part of the Kirin Tor you know – I think it’s important to bat for both sides if you get my drift. And while I have the utmost respect for my Orcan brethren I can only take so much of them before I have to teleport to Silvermoon for a bloody good wash. But before I leave I do want to say this: that these hearings on the Hellscream family are in no way whatsoever a slur upon the great Draenor-Orcan people. Because I can state from my own knowledge and experience that Draenor-Orcans  are among the most loyal, law-abiding, patriotic, hard working Azeroth citizens in this land. And it would be a shame, Mr. Chairman, if we allowed a few rotten goldenbarks to give a bad name to the whole broken barrel. Because from the time of the great Medivh up through the time of Blackhand right up until the present day, Draenor-Orcans have been pioneers in building, defending, destroying and then partially rebuilding  – think of the lumberjacks in Warsong Gulch  – how long have they been chopping – our land. They are the deeprock salt of the earth, and they’re one of the backbones of this country- albeit a frequently deranged bloodthirsty backbone that won’t sit tidy in your trousers. 

Committee Chairman: I’m sure we all agree with our esteemed blood elf  – even though he quite makes my skin crawl. Now, Mr. Garrosh you have been advised as to your legal rights. We have testimony from a witness — a previous witness — one Vol’jin. He has stated that you are head of the most powerful Orcan family in this country. Are you?

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: No, I’m not. You must have misunderstood Vol’jin. His accent you knowit’s not his fault but… 

Committee Chairman: The witness has testified that you are personally responsible for the mana bomb destruction of Theramore and the murder of a High Commander of Stormwind Defence, a Marcus Jonathan, renowned for the thickness of his beard. You deny this?

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: Yes, I do. His beard was ok but I could easily grow a better one – it’s just that I can’t be bothered. 

Committee Chairman: Is it true that you plotted the murder of the heads of the so-called “five families” in Azeroth – Vol’jin, Lort’hemar, Baine, Jaina and Prince William – sorry I mean Prince Anduin Wrynn 

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: That’s a complete falsehood. I intended to sell Baine to the Tillers. They need to build up the livestock part of the farm. See – I’m all about the little people. 

Announcer: Chen Stormstout? 

Senator Stormstout: (glug glug) Is it true that you have a controlling interest in three of the major inns in Undercity – and if so do you run a loyalty card scheme?

Garrosh Corleone Hellscreame: No, it is not true. Undercity you say? Jeez – it’s an utter shithole – who goes there these days?

Senator Stormstout: (glug glug) Mr. Garrosh, do you have any interests or control over the game Jihui and Wounded Warrior Whisky trafficking in the land of Pandaria because I …well… it’s the sort of thing I have an interest in. I mean games, whisky, what’s not to love. (Looks confused.) Why am I here? 

Kil’ruk Tom Hagen: Senator, my client would like to read a statement before this committee.

Senator Stormstout: Mr. Chairman — Mr. Chairman, I think this statement is totally out of order at this time. He hasn’t answered the whisky question yet- surely the most important part of these proceedings?

Kil’ruk Tom Hagen: Sir, my client has answered every question asked by this committee with the utmost sincerity and minimal snarling. He has not taken the 5th amendment or anyone’s head off, as was his right to do. So in all fairness I think the statement should be heard, else none of us are getting out of here alive.

 [Senator Stormstout whispers something to the Committee Chairman]

Committee Chairman: No, no I’m going to allow Mr. Garrosh to read his statement and no we can’t order in some beer. Get a grip on yourself panda man. Mr Garrosh has my children tied up somewhere beneath Orgrimmar so I rather think I’d like to hear his statement if you please.

Garrosh Corleone Hellscream: Thank you. And your children are quite safe – seem to be quite enjoying playing hide and seek in Ragefire Chasm – although some of the things seeking them are a little toothy if you know what I mean. Haha. You’ve gone quite pale Mr Chairman.  Anyway in the hopes of clearing my family name, and in the sincere desire to give my Horde children the fair share of the Azeroth way of life, without a blemish on their name and background, I have appeared before this committee and given it all the cooperation in my power. There were other things I could have been doing –  there is a point to what I’m doing in Domination Point you know  – haha, yes I’m also a skilled punmaster but no one ever talks about that.  I am trying to rebuild the area – I’ve even had the painters and decorators in.   So I consider it a great dishonor to me personally to have to deny that I am a murderer.  If a person has no right to exist how can it be murder I ask you that. I mean Darkspear tribesmen – what’s the point? And the Tauren – well I hear in some worlds they are culling badgers to save the Tauren. They shouldn’t bother in my opinion- I’d take a badger as my second in command any day over a fat arsed Tauren.   I wish to have the following noted for the record: that I served my country faithfully and honorably in the Shattering  and was awarded the title Warchief  for actions in defense of my people;  I have never been arrested for any crime whatsoever – the thought of doing so gives my enemies a cardiac arrest- see yet another pun – what did I tell you. There is no proof linking me to any Theramore conspiracy, whether it is called “Theramore’s Fall” or “Attack on Theramore”  or “First scenario before the Mists of Pandaria expansion” – whatever name you wish to give it. I have not taken refuge behind my Gorehowl though it is my right to do so. I challenge this committee to produce any witness or evidence against me – and Thrall doesn’t count. Can’t stand the bloke these days – cries at the drop of a hat. Particularly if the hat is attached to a decapitated head. Far too sentimental for my tastes. And if no witness is brought I hope you will have the decency to clear my name and allow me to get back to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms – beautiful place – where I understand the heart of an old God awaits me and Taran Zhu wants to have a chat. Business calls, business calls. 

Committee Chairman: I’m sure we’re all quite impressed, Mr. Garrosh, particularly with your love for our country. I’m sure Theramore was just a misunderstanding. Who hasn’t launched a mana bomb once or twice in error? And I’m sure those Darkspear tribesmen were a jolly nuisance. The committee will stand in recess until you do whatever you need to do to clear your name. Now my children, they’re in Orgrimmar right, ok ok quite safe with you in the city I’m sure. I will see you soon Mr Garrosh. Be safe.

Meeting adjourned.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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Dancing Queen

You say never again but the next thing you know you’re the other side of a dungeon entrance in a complete panic, no idea what to do next. Yes I went in another dungeon.  However, this time I needn’t have worried (well not quite so much) because I was with my guild. Those kind hearted souls had read the blog, taken pity on me & offered to accompany me on some runs. Team Playpen it’s called & it’s perfect – for me anyway – they’re far too good for it but have generously toned down their uberness to lead me by the hand through the valley of death (boss death of course – we were awesome).

The Gates of the Setting Sun was chosen by the guild’s esteemed raid leader. I guess he figured he’d try to help me deal with my insect phobia at the same time – a form of therapy almost. Of course he failed to take into account my speaking phobia too by suggesting I come onto team speak. I bravely logged on but didn’t utter a word – stubbornly typing into Party Chat even when it meant I took ages to respond to anything anyone asked me (I cannot type & play at the same time- I’m not a bloody mantid – and even they need quite sophisticated key bindings).

The group were already killing things by the time I finished collecting the quests.  Indeed they coped admirably well without me – amazing what raiding level 90s can do. I joined them like a long lost hero & got ready to cast something (anything) before realising everything was dead. I quickly minimised Recount –   my philosophy has always been if I can’t see it then it’s not happening (this is why I always shut my eyes tightly whenever my mother dances –   in these circumstances I also find it helpful to scream NO and run from the room).

Before I knew it we were at the first boss – the Saboteur one. It felt very tank & spank to me (yes I am now using technical terms in the blog – the times they are a-changing).  I just cast Arcane  Blast when I could and helpfully ran round in circles when I couldn’t . Whatever we did (they did) it seemed to work & I was soon in possession of a new cloth head item. I went through my usual stress about rolling need even though it was pretty obvious they all had far better gear than me (& it was an upgrade). In  the end I bravely clicked need & hoped they wouldn’t hate me.

On we ran – until we ran into Striker Ga’dok. What good fortune I thought. This turned out to be a complete nightmare. All I can remember now is fire everywhere & lots of blinking – both me and my mage. I think I heard our healer gasp at one point – probably  wondering how one person could stand in so much crap quite so often. When I thought I could cast something I would try to, but GTFO would interrupt,  noisily harranguing me to move along sir like an hysterical police office. Off I would jump.  I felt a huge relief when it was over but I suspect it was just a fraction of what the healer felt.

I think the next encounter was a straightforward tank & spank boss  (for me anyway, standing right at the back out of harm’s way.  I heard our tank say, “Don’t stand in front of him, you WILL die” at one point though, and sensed there was more going on up front).

We moved on.  Just as I was starting to relax (somewhat) with three bosses down, my name was mentioned in dispatches – something about me & Slowfall. I started racking my brains, trying to remember how it works in a group – if I cast on one do all get it, do I have to cast it on myself for all to get it, when do I cast etc.?  Yes even the simplest instruction, “Seashell cast Slowfall” can throw me into a complete panic. Sensing my confusion the priest helpfully interceded (as priests do) & cast levitate on everyone instead, briefly saving me from further humiliation.

Yes briefly. It was not long before I was once again displaying the staggering incompetence for which I am renowned  by getting my cannons confused. Our party leader had helpfully explained we had to use cannons in the fight in order to shoot the boss’s weak spot and that he wanted two dps  doing this. However, I only heard part of his instructions (probably fretting about something that had happened two rooms back)  & couldn’t get my bearings on the screen quickly enough to see where he was standing. I then zoomed out by accident (the zoom thingimijig works backwards on my mouse for some reason & I keep forgetting to sort it – doesn’t half get me into some scrapes). Suddenly everyone was a tiny spec on my screen.  I hastily rezoomed back in & ran to what I thought was the right cannon, jumped on & got thrown right back up to the floor where the Slow Fall shenanigans had happened. $%&%  I thought (yes there’s no denying – my language is quite foul when I’m in a dungeon).  A patient voice sounded in the room (God, finally, I thought) & explained that I’d gone on the wrong cannon & I should just throw myself off the wall and let them heal me. It was clear that by now they had decided that even Slowfall was beyond me. I decided to prove them wrong by expertly casting it on myself & professionally floating to the ground.  The response was … silence  (probably awestruck).

I quite enjoyed this last encounter once I got into it,  although I’d have hated it in a pug – in fact I probably would have been booted before this point  what with the cannon mishap & poor dps and all. I got into running to the (right) cannon, finding the weak spot, throwing off a few blasts,  then having my head rammed into a wall. Great fun. At one point there was a comment along the lines of, “Seashell is targeting the weak spot perfectly & we’re damned lucky to have her in the group.” I beamed with pride.

And then it was over. The party leader escorted me by the hand to the quest giver so that I could claim my reward (I’ve been known to exit dungeons before this point, usually so overcome with relief that I’ve  survived that I forget why I came into the hellhole … I mean dungeon … in the first place). A nice cloak awaited me & lots of experience points. I thanked my guildees  profusely – extremely grateful for their patience and kindness throughout. We then celebrated with a couple of glasses of darkbrew lager & before I knew it I was  dancing like my mother. Good times!

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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And the journey continues

The journey to 90 continues. 89 and a bit. Only got killed 6 times today by the same horrible Horde guy who would not let me quest in peace. I hate my PvP server but the guild I’m in is so lovely I can’t switch servers even though it means I cry on my keyboard every night. I never fight back. I try to out-Ghandi the gankers. It never works but I like to think one day they’ll make a 6 hour film about me & everyone will admire my stoicism.

Other observations:-

  • If I hear slow down once more I’m going to knock some one’s head off.
  • Never go out drinking with a Pandaren. It’s always “Next one is on me” – then they disappear into the toilets for three hours.
  • I think Farmer Yoon & I are at the start of a beautiful friendship.
  • Springtail Gnashers have put me off the Easter Bunny for ever  – however he is very welcome to try to win me back with lots of chocolate
  • Doing quests for Hemet Nesingwary makes me slightly hate myself  –  a chicken sandwich cheers me up
  • I think someone should tell Lili that repeatedly calling someone fat could be regarded as bullying.  Poor Chen – what with her & Gao he’s a broken man. No wonder he drinks.
  • Everytime I see  Kilruk the Wind Reaver I want to hit him with a fly swat.
  • I feel sorry for Gardener Fran’s partner if she’s like that in the bedroom….!  What an absolute control freak. Do this. Do that. Touch this. Touch that. No there there. FASTER FASTER !! Poor sod. And she’s also obsessed with size. Nuff said.

Onwards & upwards.  Definitely upwards. 90 – it is finally in reach :)

 

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in World of Warcraft

 

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