Life in Azeroth

Author Archive

Holding out for a Hero

I’ve temporarily (I think it’s temporary) put my WoW subscription on hold. I really thought I was back for good this time (apologies for the Take That reference – I thought I was better than that) but I’ve ended up taking on too much stuff. I’m enjoying this stuff and not complaining but I’m finding myself too busy to play. Plus I know I’ll be getting even busier in January when other parts of my life kick into action, and this means my play time will shrink even further. And I can’t – won’t – pay monthly for something I’m hardly playing. I feel guilty enough as it is – not long back I paid for a faction transfer for my mage and a realm transfer for my pally. Of course I was playing a lot then, enjoying the game & all rose tinted spectacles about my life as a WoW player. But things change so quickly (indeed for me they can change in a heartbeat) and now I’m regretting those purchases.  I think I should have known better.

I’m sure I’ll be back though. I will miss it and I’ll return. It always happens. But right now I’m looking for something to fill this WoW shaped hole – albeit a WoW shaped hole I wasn’t filling with WoW itself.  I don’t want to give up playing games altogether of course (perish the thought!). I am still playing Minecraft (for my fledgling YouTube channel) & Hearthstone (because I have dreams of one day being good) but the former can feel rather lonely and the latter gets me so frustrated and tense that I can only play in short sessions (plus all those Reno Jackson decks mean games are taking ages now). I want something else, something I can dip into, something free, something “MMOy”, something fun. I want to be able to play when I feel like it without feeling guilty about the times when I don’t. It could be The Secret World – I have a real hankering to play that game again. It won’t be Wildstar – I have decided I don’t like the “look at the ground & move” combat system. I thought about the Elder Scrolls – I enjoyed the game once, but now when I visualise it I just seem to see a lot of dull brown and yellow areas that all look alike and lack the colour and vibrancy of WoW.

And that’s the problem- when I think of other games I compare them to WoW and nothing seems to offer what WoW offers. There is such a variety of things to do in Azeroth, such a variety of experiences on offer. And over the years I have enjoyed so many of them. But if I don’t play the game enough all this is irrelevant.

I have also thought about forgetting the whole MMO thing & maybe just getting more into Heroes. I’m assuming that’s something I can just dip into when the fancy takes me. I’ve not played it much. I know it’s got lots of features I like (pretty colours, cool heroes, an AI to practice with, real people when I feel brave enough etc). Could be perfect for me. The more I think about it the more I think it might be time to transition from MMO to MOBA.

But then I think of WoW Pet Battles and I feel just a little bit sad.




A Juggling Act

I’m totally neglecting WoW at the moment. This is due to:-

  1. Hearthstone  – I’m rank 10. Yay! This is the highest I’ve been in months. While I don’t think I’m going to hit Legend any time soon I am aiming for single digits this month. Therefore I’m playing Hearthstone – a lot. I will be writing more about this over at Geeks and Geeklets.
  2. Speaking of Geeks and Geeklets, I’ve also been busy doing Roblox Tutorials there. Of course I use the word “tutorial” loosely. They are really videos of me figuring our Roblox so that I can at some point create a fun Roblox game for my daughter (“look what I made today dear – see mothers can be cool”) & help her create her own (she tried once, found it extremely hard & gave up). So I am basically learning Roblox as I record – this leads to some fun moments (including the building I made collapsing around my ears – a scene from a disaster movie – albeit one on a very tight budget.)
  3. I’m still working on my Unity/Fungus game – it’s a lot of fun and I’m learning a great deal, but it’s also a complete time sink.
  4. I am busy getting more videos up on my own YouTube Channel. I’ve been recording Minecraft videos for a few weeks now but there have been lots of issues. I have had video problems, audio problems, missing item bar problems & “I’m an idiot who left mute on” problems. But I finally seem to have cracked it  (I think). In celebration I have started a new Daily Vanilla Plus Minecraft series. Vanilla Plus is a Feed the Beast modpack for Minecraft. The original press release for this modpack called it an “attempt to make a mod pack that delivers some of the benefits of Modded Minecraft whilst maintaining the Vanilla feel …. providing a familiar yet enhanced playthrough.”  This is perfect for me. The Mage Quest series I was doing used the Mage Quest modpack (also Feed the Beast) which, although fun, turned out to be rather huge, very complicated and downright dangerous (eg I seemed to run into a zombie farm at every corner). Falling into lava and losing everything I’d died ten times over to get didn’t help much either.  And doing all this while trying to figure out the recording side of YouTube life … well not an easy task.  So I want to go back to the basics for a bit and enjoy Minecraft with just a few of the quality of life extras provided by the Vanilla Plus modpack. The fact is I like Minecraft as is. I enjoy mining, growing stuff and exploring. I’m already rather proud of my little farm and pretty pink house (eucalyptus wood – one of the Vanilla Plus extras) and there’s still lots more to do. If you’re interested please do pop over to the channel to see the new series. It’s going to be daily (a bit of a commitment I know but I’m going to  try and record in that magic hour when everyone is in bed – (2 days later edit: What was I thinking?? There’s no way this can be daily. There is no magic hour!!), the second  episode is uploading as I type, and it should be fun if you like that sort of thing.

So all this means I’m not playing much WoW at present. I logged in last week for an hour or two but so far I’ve not logged in at all this week , not even to get my WoW anniversary present (although husband has and he was underwhelmed). I get moments like this in WoW and I know they usually pass, but it also means I am a bit cross with myself  – I want to get my pally up to 100 & the anniversary experience boost would help no end, but I’m too busy doing other things. And in truth it feels like a grind. She’s in her late 80s & I’m fed up of Pandaria. It’s a juggling act & I’m dropping some balls – but I’m dropping the WoW ones on purpose. I’m sure it won’t last and I’ll pick them again – I just don’t know when.


Yay More Blinking

 Given that one of my mains is a Mage – she was Frost but now she’s Arcane (she got tired of the little elemental & his needy ways) I thought I’d better have a look at the changes planned for this spec.
According to Blizzard  “Mages are in a very strong place compared to most classes, both thematically and mechanically” with “a lot of distinction among Arcane, Fire, and Frost Mages“. Therefore the changes they are making are more around improving our current gameplay and the quality of our stressed out lives. This includes Summon Refreshment which will automatically provide a stack of food if you’re on your own (ie me) and a table of refreshments when in a party or raid (ie everyone who’s not me). Fair enough I suppose but I’m quite civilised – I like to lay out a nice table even when I’m a billy no mates. Dining etiquette is on a downward slippery slope here.
Specifically on Arcane, Blizzard say that Arcane Mages require “Unparalleled skill … to manipulate the volatile forces of the universe.” – Oh dear, maybe I need to rethink the spec. They go on to say, “These practitioners push their magical knowledge to its very limits—often to the brink of their own exhaustion“. Yes that’s me to a tee. Many a night you’ll find me slumped over the keyboard weeping from the stress and strain of it all. Three buttons! Three buttons! It’s inhuman that’s what it is.
To help us burnt out Arcane mages our Arcane Charges will now be an “actual resource located underneath [the] Mana bar instead of a stacking debuff.”  Excellent. To be honest I never have much of a clue about my buffs or debuffs. I can only look in so many places at once (one place actually – and that’s usually my keyboard). When I do lift my head I like to admire my pretty portrait in the top left hand side of the screen (yes default UI- did you expect anything else?) so this will help me a lot.
Arcane also has a new Mastery  which increases our maximum Mana by a percentage and increases the damage bonus from Arcane Charges. Anything with the word “increases” is good for me, unless it refers to the size of my thighs. According to Blizz this “should make the Mastery feel a bit more interesting by allowing more aggressive Mana usage“. Excellent. In readiness for this I have drafted some awesome snarling & growling emotes. They want aggression I’ll show them aggression (I’ll also have some passive aggressive ones up my sleeve too – just in case the raid needs a change of strategy).
Good news for me with Displacement (instant cast, removes Blink cooldown for 4 seconds). I love blinking I do (obscure shout out to any UK reader who watched Big Brother Season 2 a gazillion years ago). Blinking does get me into trouble though – in real life my boss interprets blinking as dissent (so I now glue my eyelids to my forehead) and in game when I regularly blink into bad stuff at every inopportune moment (once during the Warmaster Blackhorn encounter I of course blinked right off the edge of the airship – it was a proper guild raid though (thank goodness) so everyone was nice about it even though I think I caused a wipe).
And that’s pretty much all the main stuff as far as I can make out. If I’ve missed something important (& I probably have – I skim read anything that included numbers and a”%”)  let me know. Nothing ground breaking as far as I can see but in fairness that’s what they said. I wonder what they have planned for the Restoration Druid though? I am of course a healer in training too. I trust there will be no blinking (now that would be a class change) – I really want to maintain my eyes wide open, bunny in headlights approach to healing. It has served me so well….

A Tasty Bone

I’ve not been a complete slacker during Blizzcon. I wrote something on the opening ceremony for Geeks and Geeklets (which you can see here). By the way I’ve also started doing a Roblox YouTube series there too (nothing to do with WoW of course- although I may end up so good I’ll be able to recreate Azeroth in Roblox. Maybe. So far I’ve made a tree and a door.) In regard to Blizzcon I’ve mostly been catching up on the various panels that I’ve been too tired to watch in real time (I’m old and weary) & catching up on people’s views and opinions on these panels.

It’s fair to say everyone is very excited on what the Systems Panel offered yesterday- particularly on Transmog and Professions. In a nutshell you’ll get a Wardrobe holding all the finery you’ve ever been entitled to (account bound) & there’ll be a questing approach to professions. Personally I’m not wildly excited about the Transmog stuff (although I can see why other people are – it looks amazing). The problem is when it comes to clothes anything approaching good taste and style has always alluded me (in both real and virtual life). I have tried to change. I once dressed poor Seashell in the High Inquisitor Whitemane set. I  thought she looked awesome until someone laughed at me in Stormwind. So now Seashell is wearing a simple Runecloth set that I put together with my tailoring and that’s about as good as it gets. So while I’m happy for everyone else I’m not sure these changes are going to help me look good.  But I look forward to seeing all my old stuff again and creating some wildly mismatched looks that appeal to no one else but me.

As for the Profession changes –  well the questing approach could certainly be interesting. I hope the quests are challenging enough to give us a real sense of achievement when you get the profession reward but not too time consuming that by the time I complete then the reward is old hat (and as Seashell is a tailor it could literally be an old hat). In regard to the “no fighting over nodes” change – well to be honest on my server I never see much of this any more. Maybe it’s the areas I choose to hang out in but I’m usually on my own (was it something I said?) But again I can see how this could be welcome to many.

All of the above seem to be big crowd pleasers – I’ve just never  been part of the crowd. Legion isn’t out any time soon but look you get a Wardrobe and your own nodes. It’s the small things that matter it seems. People are happy now and all loved up for Blizzard when days before they were raging at delays and the lack of news. Seems to me that all Blizzard needs to do is keep throwing the odd tasty bone at its core audience. I don’t think this approach will get the subscribers up to 10M again but maybe that’s something Blizzard no longer need given all their other games? They’ve done enough to keep a large part of their current playerbase feeling happy, well fed and contented. Didn’t take much really.

And so the Machine beeps on

So WoW subs are only down by 100K. The WoW community on the whole is delighted with the news, taking it as proof that WoW has stabilised. I hear the word stabilise & I think of intensive care and life support – it’s always heartening to know your loved one is stable but deep down you fear they’re never going to tap dance on the kitchen table again. Still, ask any dinosaur, stable is better than extinct.

Reading some comments over on Blizzard Watch there is a view that the remaining 5.5 million subs are the diehard fans who will never leave  WoW –  new content or no new content they are there for the longhaul(or until they too go the way of the “definitely not tap dancing again” dinosaur).

But perhaps some of them are like me – not quite a diehard fan, but not a fair weather fan either. Last year I subbed, unsubbed, then subbed again. I got bored with WoW then re-enthralled with WoW. Even now, during the same play session, I can run out of things to do then suddenly think of something and become overwhelmed with things to do. Generally my view on whether I want to be in Azeroth or not has little to do with the content of the latest expansion (and certainly not the latest raid) and far more to do with my feelings about life in general. In the right frame of mind Azeroth, like life, offers limitless opportunities for fun and stimulation. In a different frame of mind it reveals itself to be the ultimate time waster, a meaningless distraction until my bones turn to dust.

Anyway undoubtedly some people returned to WoW because they are excited about Legion. Whether that expansion will deliver what they want remains to be seen. There is likely another contingent too that will never leave WoW – some habits are too hard to break, some habits mean too much to break. Then there are those like me – here today, gone tomorrow, back again the day after. It’s not that I’m disloyal – I don’t really understand loyalty when it comes to a game. I reserve that for my loved ones (however hard they sometimes make it). It’s just that sometimes I want to do other things. Sometimes the power of its pixels wears rather thin.

Now is not one of those times. Right now I’m part of the 5.5 million. Right now I’m helping it stabilise. I’m helping the machine sound its rhythmic beep.  But nothing lasts forever.


A Late Starter

So I’m enrolled on a Coursera Unity course and I’m loving it. I’ve completed a Solar Simulation project to my family’s amazement (perhaps they humour me) & I’m part way through a Rollerball project. I’m getting my head around the X,Y, Z axis (is there a plural for “axis”? – yes, looked it up, it is “axes” –  I may have just grown a brain cell). I’m learning  the difference between Materials & Textures (not the same thing apparently – you put a Texture onto a Material but something could be a Material with no Texture  – I think – although it’s now reading like something the Riddler would send to Batman). I’ve also learnt about Game Objects, Assets and Prefabs. It’s a great course – the instructor is easy to understand and each stage of the project is broken down into nice bite size chunks. I feel like I’m learning new and interesting things. So why then am I  feeling so guilty about the whole thing?

The answer lies in the reason for doing the course. You see I’d like to make my own game. I’ve wanted to do so for awhile but aside from making a couple of little games in Scratch (as part of another course) and dabbling a bit in RPG Maker  I’ve not really got very far. And I’m no programmer – I’ve completed two beginner Coursera courses on Python but that’s it. One poor version of Pong does not a programmer make.

So I’ve thought about games development a lot but have always stopped myself either before starting out on anything or part way through whatever I’ve enrolled on (or checked out from the library).  And the reason for all this is that I feel very foolish about wanting to do this (even worse now I’m putting it out here on the blog – but where else but my Bravetank blog for a post about me being foolish?).

I try to be my own cheerleader of course. I tell myself  – you’re never too old, you should always pursue your passions, you’ll never get anywhere unless you take that first step. I’ve said all these things. I’ve even done a Rah Rah at the end. But still the fears and doubts come :-


I’m in my early 40s so probably too old

The world is awash with games – who needs mine?

People already complain about all the dross on Steam made from Unity  – why add to it?

To make something really good would require more knowledge, skill & ability than I could ever hope to develop – particularly at my age with brain cells dying off every second (although I did just grow one a moment ago).

I should be doing something more useful instead.

When do I intend doing all this – particularly come January when my work/life “busyness” is going to increase hundredfold?


So I have all these thoughts whirling around in my head making me feel silly for starting this Unity course. At my time of life I shouldn’t be feeling all pleased with myself for applying a Texture to a Material (or was it the other way round?) and oohing and aahing about my rotating planets. I’m being silly, deluding myself & wasting precious time. Maybe.  And in any case it’s going to take me ages to learn enough Unity & programming skills to create any type of game, let alone the one I want to create.

But I read something the other day about setting ourselves a 10 year plan. The idea is we shouldn’t be put off starting learning something new because it’s so hard and/or would take ages to reach anything approacher a mastery of the subject. We should tell ourselves that if we practice something new every day in about 10 years time we’ll have a lot of it figured out. I think I can commit to a 10 year plan – while accepting that we plan and God guffaws till his sides split, and all that. A ten year plan would take me to my early 50s. If I could create something that I want to create by my early 50s surely that’s worth doing or at least attempting? Sometimes I think I hit my peak too long ago – 11 years to be precise when I completed my PhD and published a book that was well received.  I left academia not long after. I didn’t want the academic life – too much travelling, too many conferences, too much home sickness. But I sometimes regret that decision. I’m proud of the book – it’s very occasionally cited in other academic texts on the subject and that gives me hope it will be around long after I’m gone. But I feel frustrated too. I feel that there’s still more in me. But I don’t really know what that “more” is. For awhile I thought it was writing – I self published some books on Amazon a few years ago but I pulled them all down not long after. I lost my nerve.

So will games creation be the same? Something I will try, get so far with and then chicken out from?  It’s not that I lose the interest. It’s that the fear becomes overwhelming. Fear of  screwing up in a conference, fear of travel and homesickness, fear of bad reviews, fear of ridicule. All I know right now is I keep thinking about creating a game and then I admonish myself for these thoughts. I tell myself that games creation was a road I should have travelled in my 20s.  It’s all so confusing. Roads travelled and not travelled, and the constant fear I’m now at a dead end.

So anyway I’ve enrolled on this Unity course because I have an idea for a game and I have to start somewhere. But I’ve had ideas like this before and I’ve talked myself out of them before. I’m hoping for once I can just shut up for a moment and let myself enjoy what I’m doing. And maybe that way I’ll find my way onto  a road I often wish I’d taken a long time ago.


The Butcher says…

Everyone and his pup seems to have a view on raiding in WoW but what about the bosses themselves? They have to put up with group after group coming at them hurling all manner of spells and abilities and of course have to adjust their strategy based on the difficulty setting of the raid (I’m including LFR within this generic raid term here – I know – crazy old me). What do they think about it all? Is it working for them or is it back to the drawing board for Blizzard? I sat down with the Highmaul Butcher (as opposed to my High Street butcher – he hasn’t got a bloody clue about WoW raiding but can fillet a steak without an addon) and asked him for his thoughts on the subject.

Me: Ok I’ll cut straight to the chase – LFR, Normal, Heroic or Mythic?

Mythic every time my friend, every time. Normal and Heroic have their moments I’ll grant you that. But really if it’s not Mythic it’s not real raiding –  it’s just different degrees of derping. Or do I mean twerking? Which is the one where you wiggle like this? (Shows me – my eyes bleed.)

Me: I think that’s twerking … sort of. Can you stop now please.

Yes yes you’re right. Got to think of the old hips. Anyway I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the non-Mythic guys and gals – yes I said gals – I’m all politically correct now – Blizzard made me go on a course after I messaged Ms. Iron Reaver inviting her to pound a certain part of my … well anyway I was asked to go on a course. But in terms of the non-mythic raiders – while I do throw some tricky stuff at them, you know Cleave, Gushing Wounds that sort of thing (and when I’m really showboating I get into a sort of Frenzy that puts the fear of god in them),  the bottom line is it’s all watered down from Mythic. In Mythic I pull out all the stops. I even have the Night-Twisted Cadavers along for a bit of added spice. And what they can do with their Paleobombs – well even I get nervous when I see them approaching. For the other raids I do what the Powers That Be tell me. And that is,  “Put on a show Butch but don’t go crazy now. Some of these raiders are sensitive folk and we don’t want to lose them. At least not until Overwatch is out of Beta.” (Pauses) Umm no I mean … they didn’t say that …not at all … oh dear I’ve said to much. This is all off the record right?

Me: If by off the record you mean published on a blog read by few then yes totally. So what’s your strategy for LFR?

Alcohol. Lots of it. Me and the trash play a drinking game. One shot every time someone stands in bad stuff and dies – easy obviously. Two shots every time a DPSer accuses everyone else in the raid of being AFK.  We down the bottle when the raid descends into Lord of the Flies type madness and everyone eats a healer.  That’s the best bit. To be honest I’m paralytic in most LFRs.

Me: Do you think it’s all too easy?

Look you know the score. Its a bit of lighthearted fun. Honestly I don’t give a toss as long as they’re paying their subs and I collect my paycheck. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. It’s all about the money when you come down to it. They pay it and I take it. I’m not going to complain. But if I want a real challenge I go Mythic. No question.

Me: So not Normal or Heroic?

Well to be fair those groups try – they really do. Me and the boys call them The Tryers and we mean no disrespect by it. Earnest, sincere – I’ll give you that. Real nice people for the most part. Sometimes I join them on Mumble or Teamspeak  – they don’t know I’m there of course – and I listen to what they’re saying and god bless them, they’re really planning things out. Someone is told to do X and Y, someone else Z – and yes I know my alphabet – just the last three letters though- they’re the only ones you need. Anyway I just laugh because I know that nine times out of ten they are all going to get stage fright on the first attempt and start hurling god knows what in my direction. But they get there in the end. And then we all pose for a lovely screenshot. I have to play dead of course so you don’t ever see me smile but inside I’m beaming – I’m that proud of the little group.

Me: And mythic?

Hard core bad asses everyone of them. The fights really take it out of me to be honest but it’s great challenge and when I beat them the endorphin rush is second to none. We really work for it though – I don’t think that’s always appreciated. And I’m bummed that us Bosses are not getting the Moose in the next patch. I kinda thought that’s what Blizzard had in mind when the Moose was datamined – a little thank you to us Bosses. But no it’s another perk for the high end raiders. I can’t even buy it in the shop. And the thing is – well my first cuddly was a moose so I really wanted this mount  and (sob) and (more sobs) – oh let’s change the subject – I get upset just thinking about it.

Me: Ok so what about the future?

Well I’m looking to retire – I’ve made no secret of this. I’m getting too old for this raiding lark. And the writings on the wall- look I wrote it over there – “eSports is the future”. I wish I could get into Heroes I really do, but that wannabe from Diablo got my gig.  So I’ve got my eye on Hearthstone now. I’ve written god knows how many letters to the Powers That Be suggesting I become an 8 mana rare  – think Molten Giants but way cooler. In fact maybe your readers can help me out here? I know for a fact Blizzard base all their development decisions on the number of tweets they receive on a subject. So go on – let’s get  #ButcherForHearthstone trending. Do it for me. Please.

LFR – the Couch to 5K approach

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion about LFR and raiding (particularly since patch 6.2.3 was announced). The point is often made that LFR is not real raiding, it’s too easy with no mechanics worth talking about, people are in there just to get loot that they don’t really deserve (since it’s all too easy) and people in there don’t try at all/don’t need to try (in fact the little sausages are probably tabbed out watching Netflix). It’s also said that because it’s so watered down & easy it does not either (a)prepare anyone for proper raiding nor (b)encourage people to try out proper raiding. Therefore Blizzard have failed in all their intentions. Shame on you Blizzard.

I want to challenge some of these points. I admit that what I’m saying here is from my own personal perspective and my arguments will not apply to everyone. However, I suspect they will apply to more people than just me and I think it’s a perspective worth exploring.

First: the “too watered down/no real mechanics” argument:-

For me this doesn’t feel true. There are sufficient mechanics in LFR for my abilities.

For example -in Highmaul Kargath has a Chain Hurl ability that will move one tank, one healer & three DPS to the stands. If you don’t know about it & you are the one picked it’s going to be disconcerting to say the least (I’ve not experienced it yet but that kind of thing always throws me – literally in this case) and you need to know what to do (basically just kill things and survive!).  There is also his Berserker Rush ability which can do huge amount of damage if not tanked correctly (according to Wowhead in LFR Kargath should be tanked in, or near, an active Flame Pillar).

Similarly in Blast Furnace  Phase 1 there are Heat Regulators to destroy. While (according to Wowhead) in LFR only 5 bombs are needed to destroy each one you still need to know what to do with the button should it appear on your screen.

And finally Iron Reaver. The guide on Wowhead for the Normal level encounter provides paragraph after paragraph of information on dealing with mechanics that include Barrage (the advice is not to try and out range but instead run to the sides), Pounding (during which you should use raid cooldowns & move in close to the boss to avoid Immolation patches that are being pushed away) & Blitz (which you should avoid by watching Iron Reavers’s feet). In the LFR section it says, “There are no mechanical differences in the Looking For Raid difficulty of this fight. Players should still focus on survivability”. Helpful! So unless things have changed since Wowhead was last updated this means there are mechanics in the LFR version of Iron Reaver- indeed the same mechanics as in Normal, but without any of the proper raid team benefits of good communications and strategy (& I say this sadly as I died in the LFR Iron Reaver encounter- clearly mishandled Barrage, Pounding & Blitz and never noticed her feet).

I accept that Iron Reaver is not typical & that in most cases the mechanics in LFR are more like the first two examples –  nowhere near the level of the normal raiding. But nevertheless there are mechanics. There is stuff to avoid, disperse and use cooldowns on. It is not stand in one place & hurl your spells.  And these mechanics can feel more difficult to deal with because they are being dealt with by a group of random strangers.  Of course your LFR group could be filled with overgeared raiders who can pretty much blitz through everything. But these pros are not in every LFR & arguably while they might speed up each phase of a fight, you are still likely to experience most of the mechanics in each phase & and these – for me anyway – mean I must give the encounter my total attention. Even concentrating so hard I ground my teeth to dust I died in the Iron Reaver encounter and I’ve felt totally frazzled in the others. This may say more about my ability than LFR but I can’t be on my own here (surely –  please say there are others like me!). One reason LFR exists is so that people like me (with less ability than others) have a chance to experience some raid content at a level I/they can deal with. I would say LFR gives me that.

As a side note: this doesn’t mean other people are not coasting on the back of the more experienced/better geared raiders who are running LFR. This probably explains all the raging and arguing. The pros get angry with all the poor abilities/presumed lack of effort on show. They have done this at a harder level – why can’t the rest of us get it? Are we all AFK (no we are not – but some might be). But in any case none of this is specifically an LFR problem – it’s a people problem. People could choose not to coast & people could choose not to get angry. Everyone could choose to  give 100% effort and help/guide where they can. That people don’t is a sad indictment of people. But not necessarily a sad indictment of LFR.

2. Onto the gear argument – people run it just for gear & don’t put any effort in and don’t deserve the gear.  I’ve run Highmaul a number of times in one week just to get more experience with the encounters and to practice healing.  I know I might be atypical here (again) but surely I’m not the only one doing this. I want the practice. And while I know I’m healing LFR & not a Normal Raid, for me there are still numerous challenges – raid boxes to look at and understand, an addon to get used to, mouseovers to practice etc.  So LFR offers more benefits than mere loot  – LFR gives me a place to practice abilities I can’t practice when I quest alone. And while I know there are always 5 mans I don’t feel confident enough for them yet – one mess up on my part could cause a wipe & I’m not ready for that.

3. The final argument – LFR does not prepare anyone for raiding nor does it encourage anyone to raid.  Again for me having completed a few LFRs as a healer I am now curious enough to read up on the normal raid equivalents to find out how the mechanics differ. So eg I read about what you need to do if you are on the Chain Hurl team in the Kargath encounter and I consider what it might be like to be a healer on a Normal Raid dealing with this. If it was a team of like minded folk (i.e. nice, supportive & friendly) and there was time to plan out the approach, agree the strategy & also agree that heads can stay firmly on necks if there is  a wipe, would I be interested in trying? I find myself thinking yes maybe I would like to try this out.  I am interested. I might do it. So Blizzard perhaps chalk me up as a partial success (only partial mind – I still have to be brave enough to do it). Again LFR is (for me) working as intended.

Indeed the only bit of LFR that definitely isn’t working for me is the Tourist Mode idea – ie LFR as a way to let casuals see the end of the story. In LFR  I am normally concentrating so hard at what I’m doing that I do not take in any of the story & barely notice any part of my surroundings. And when there’s a cut scene I escape out of it so that I’m not left behind. I really do think that story completion should happen elsewhere. I take in far more of the story when I’m questing alone.

But back to LFR. Is it real raiding ? Umm no – not if you only class raiding as what you get in a Normal Plus raid.  But who cares? Is this not semantics? Would everyone feel better if it wasn’t called Looking for Raid but was instead something else – Looking for Fun perhaps (although that could be embarrassingly misconstrued!)? Perhaps Looking for Practice which would at least convey the idea that this could be approached as a form of training – not training for being in a raid team per se (since you’re not going to get the raid team communication/strategy side in LFR), but more a type of Proving Grounds for using skills/abilities within a larger group setting (I mean all those people on the screen – takes some getting used to) and  for dealing with mechanics that give a flavour or the type of thing you will get in a raid. LFR could be seen as a way to start flexing muscles that do not get flexed on solo quests or on 5 mans. Perhaps LFR is the raiding equivalent of a Couch to 5K running programme, with Normal Plus raids being the 10K, Half Marathon & Marathon equivalent. It could be said that LFR, like a good Couch to 5K running programme gets you out there doing something different and flexing muscles that haven’t been flexed before (or in years). But like training for a marathon, normal raiding is a whole different ballgame that demands a different level of commitment, dedication and focus.

In summary: I would argue that with the right frame of mind & intention LFR can be an experience that makes someone at least curious enough about proper raiding to think about what it would mean to join a proper raid team. I know this because it has happened to me. Would I be thinking about all this had I not tried LFR? No. And that for me is why LFR is worth doing and worth keeping. It’s got me off the couch.



It’s not me it’s you (okay it might be me)

I’ve been playing Kolento’s Dragon Priest deck recently with everything bar Voljin (which I don’t have – I’ve replaced with Sylvanas) and it had been working out quite well up until now. But while I managed to go from rank 17 to 13 with this deck, yesterday morning was a total disaster darling (yes I’m channelling Craig Revel Horwood now – it’s that bad).

Game 1

I started against a Mage (never a favourite – too many unexpected fiery things coming right at my face). I had Power Word Shield, Azure Drake and Twilight Whelp in my starting hand. I kept all three so that I could play a buffed Twilight Whelp on turn 1 and give it some extra heath on turn 2. Yes – naive little me. It was only as I gently placed my baby whelp on the board that I remembered Frost Bolt (it’s not just the fiery stuff you have to be afraid of). The Mage had it hand (of course he did) & coined it out. Bye bye little whelp – I miss you dearly.

I had no turn 2 move & drew Velen’s Choice. Great.

The Mage had the perfect hand. He/She played Sorcerer’s Apprentice (spell costs reduced by 1) & a cheap as chips Mirror Image. I had a Holy Nova in hand. I’d show these Mirror Images what they were up against on turn 5 – yes turn 5!! – a lifetime away.  Biding my time (frustratingly) I played a Dark Cultist that was promptly dispatched by a cost reduced Flame Cannon. Cheapskate Mage then cast another reduced price spell (Arcane Intellect) & drew 2 cards. I drew Cabal Shadow Priest which (a)can’t do anything until turn 6 (b)can’t do anything much unless your opponent has an under 3 attack minion. Terrific. I could only sit there & heal myself – always the mark of the defeated on turn 4. By now the Mage had a Mana Wyrm down, a Knife Juggler & had played Unstable Portal (making the 1:3 Mana Wyrm a 2:3).  I Holy Nova’d on turn 5 (finally) but of course could not kill the Wyrm. This turned out to be a real shame (for me) as the Mage then brought out an unexpected Windspeaker (damn you Unstable Portal) & both windfuried the Mana Wyrm and cast some spell so they now had a 3/1 Mana Wyrm who could hit me for 6. I was too stunned to do much on my turn 6 apart from play Azure Drake & Power Word: Shield while giving my Cabal Shadow Priest a rather disappointed look.

I then glanced away from my computer for barely a second & when I looked back there seemed to be another Windspeaker on the board (what? how?)  and two Mirror Images. My health was down to 7. I still can’t figure out what happened. Since I didn’t have a dragon worth talking about (apart from the Welsh dragon that is forever in my heart) I could not usefully play my Blackwing Corruptor so I instead played something rubbish – I forget what – and on the next turn the Mage windfuried me to death. Thank you sir.

My rank – down from 13 to 14 just like that.

Game 2

Undeterred (but down at mouth) I went  in again. Paladin this time – and a Secrets Pally at that who coined a secret on turn 1. I had Shadow Word Pain, Azure Drake & Velen’s Choice in hand (not my choice – in a fit of pique I had thrown the initial offering back into the pot). I had nothing to play on turn 1 or turn 2. He played Muster for Battle on turn 3.  I refused to Shadow Word Pain a paltry 1:1 and instead healed myself  (take that Pally chops). He played Warhorse Trainer, turning all his 1:1s into 2:1s – awesome. Meekly I Shadow Word Pained one of them but of course he had the Avenge secret up anyway and the 3/2 buff kicked in. In return I kicked myself. By now shockingly I was 18 health (when did that happen?). I played Azure Drake (nothing else in hand but in playing this card I then lost the dragon that could have helped the Wyrmrest Agent I drew from Azure Drake – oh the irony  – Alanis quick add this to your song). More shockingly I was now 8 health and he had 8 on the board & a 1 damage weapon. Yikes. I healed myself to 10, he hit me silly for 9 and then played a cheeky Loatheb (I was too beaten to even think of playing a spell). I eventually got the right combo to play a 4 health taunt but that was all rather pointless and he despatched it & me quickly. Game over.

Game 3

Last one of the morning – a Hunter. He opened with Webspinner. I had Wyrmrest Agent but no dragon. I played it anyway just to do something. He played a secret (ah another secret deck) & I killed the Webspinner. The secret didn’t trigger so I assumed  (wrongly as it turns out) that he had Explosive Trap. He played a stealthy Jungle Panther. I hit face with my dragon & discovered his secret was Bear Trap leaving me facing a 3/3 taunted bear. I dealt with it via a quick Shadow Word Pain. The bear howled but was quickly replaced by a tricky Piloted Shredder. I put Velen’s Choice on the Wyrmrest Agent & killed the Piloted Shredder to reveal a Mad Bomber. He then played a Ram Wrangler  – a new card to me but before I had time to ooh and aah the wrangler has summoned another beast and oh no a bloody Tundra Rhino which enabled his minions to clear mine & several points of my health. I used Blackwing Corruptor for three damage on the Ram Wrangler (an Azure Drake in hand). My cunning plan was to Holy Nova his 2 health minions once I got the mana. He Kill Commanded my Blackwing Corruptor and then his minions hit me for 6 & his Eaglehorn Bow for another 3 and in a blink of an eye I had only 12 health. I finally got a chance to use my Holy Nova which raised me back to 14 but it was all too late in the day. He whispered a secret, I played Wyrmrest Agent and Azure Drake (in that order thankfully – I have done it the wrong way round before now thereby losing my chance at a taunt. Doh). He mercilessly used his hero power on my face bringing me down to 10.  I shrank one of his minions (thank you Shrinkmeister dude) to ensure that it didn’t kill my minion when I killed it (clever huh), but when I then went face I triggered explosive trap (ah there you are my old friend) & there was total and utter carnage (again with the Craig Revel Horwood) on my side of the board. I played Dark Cultist but he had his bow,  his hero power, a Quick Shot & a silence. Say no more.  Goodnight & thank you.


No more Dragon priest. I can’t win anything at this level with this deck. It’s the deck’s fault though. And a bit of bad RNG too. And maybe the phases of the moon.


This morning in a fit of “if you can’t beat them join them” I pulled together a Secrets Paladin deck and amazingly won – 2 matches out of 5 that is. And 2 of my losses were to … you guessed it – a Dragon Priest deck. Aaargh. I have to admit it – I think it might be me after all.

Virtual Blizzcon – here I come (maybe)

Getting very excited about Blizzcon & strongly considering buying a Virtual Ticket. Even my toes are tingling (although that might be because the boiler is due a service). Now I know some people have decried (hysterically rent their garb more like) the lack of WoW stuff at Blizzcon but to me (a)it seems pretty much the same as normal – although I’ve not got any graphs to prove this (slacker yes) (b)it is Blizzcon so has to cover all Blizzard games not just WoW and  (c)umm  can’t think of a third one – I’ll distract you by singing until we get to the next paragraph.


Ok. Hope you enjoyed that. Anyhoo I am a big Hearthstone fan (& total pro within the hardcore level 17 circuit) so for me the mix of WoW & Hearthstone stuff is perfect. I’m unlikely to spend much time watching the other game segments. I’ve never done a lot  in Starcraft & Diablo, am only mildly interested in Overwatch & while I have enjoyed Heroes whenever I’ve played it, I haven’t played it much. So for me its going to be the WoW & Hearthstone items that draw me in – with the real toe tingling excitement reserved for the Hearthstone championship (I loved it when little Fruitbat won last year  – I’m such a fan)

I am particularly looking forward to the following:-

  1. The opening ceremony – I will be all snuggled up on the sofa bed watching this  (I bring it out for special occasions – I believe the Queen does the same). I wonder if any big announcement will be made? I know most people think there will be nothing big for WoW but I, the lone voice in the Azeroth wilderness, continue to hold out the hope that they will announce WoW is going F2P. Now I know there are no doubt (a)zillions of reasons why this will never happen (b)why this would a bad bad thing (c)why this could mean the END OF THE WORLD (OF WARCRAFT) AS WE KNOW IT but (a)I don’t like spending money every month (b)I don’t like spending money every month (c)I DON’T LIKE SPENDING MONEY EVERY MONTH. But I love the game & feel sad without it (boohoo poor me and my first world problems). And let’s not talk about WoW tokens – they don’t work for me. I have never been able to make much gold – I think I must lazily vendor all the good stuff or something. I basically make enough gold to get by but not enough to buy a token. Heyho. F2P please – you can do it just for me if you want.
  2. The Legion overview – excited to know more about this & finding out likely timescales (assuming these are realistic & not just made up on the night to get the crowd cheering).
  3. The Hearthstone “What’s Next?”  item – oooh interesting, although I’m not sure I can handle much more new stuff in Hearthstone right now. I’m still getting my head around TGT. And I don’t even know what I would want in the way of new stuff – I’m very happy with the game exactly as it is. What I definitely don’t want is anything in the way of in-game chat. There’s already too much BM with just the limited emotes available. I do not want those asshats to be allowed to string a sentence together (assuming they can). I like my Hearthstone like I like my men – silent and defeated (a joke dear husband, a joke)
  4. Hearthstone World Championship & Exhibition match –  needs no words – just excitement & popcorn (even though it will be crazy o’clock in the morning when I’m watching this I’m sure I’ll be awake enough to stuff some popcorn in my mouth – or a pizza).

Somewhat less excited about:-

  1. All the contests – not for me. Crowdsourced entertainment. The sort of thing you have to be there & drunk on atmosphere (or something else) to enjoy.
  2. The cinematic segments – if these are basically “Look at how we made this – don’t we do a good cut scene?” then they are not for me. I expect Blizzard to be able to do a good cutscene and I’m not their mother. I’m not giving them a pat on the back and extra pocket money for a well designed orc, even if they managed to colour inside the lines.
  3. Epic Cosplay & You – this sounds like a “Look at how this person made a super duper Naga outfit. You can do it too with three cardboard boxes, four hundred rolls of toilet paper and one partially sedated goldfish.” Not for me. I have better things to do with cardboard boxes and toilet paper (although admittedly have yet to find a way for the goldfish to earn its keep).
  4. Anything introduced with the words “Deep Dive” –  business jargon that has no place in a games convention. Plus totally insensitive to the goldfish.

One last thought:-

Just noticed it says Opening Ceremony on Main Stage, but Simulcast Ceremony in Halls A, B, C & Arena. Ooh Simulcast. This must be a new Sims-like game. How come nobody else has noticed this. Blizzard Watch – I demand an article speculating on what it means post haste. It’s going to be Blizzard does the Sims I just know it. Now that’s something I would be interested in. I’m definitely going to buy a Virtual Ticket for that. Money well spent.


Post Navigation


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 76 other followers