Another step in the saga that is the continuing tales of Alex, 8 year old WoW adventurer and novice Worgen Feral Druid.

The saga has taken a turn, and I don’t know what to think of it.

There are bonfires, cooking fires and campfires all over the place in lower level zones. Quest givers stand around campfires, Innkeepers stand near burning braziers, there are little flames at building entrances here, there and everywhere.

When you stand in these fires, you get rewarded with a gentle ‘poof’ of smoke from your butt.

There is no other way to say it… my son loves to stand in the fire.

‘poof!’

You ever wonder where those people come from? The ones that just stand in the fire? Now you know. They like to see the gentle poof of smoke coming from their butts.

Alex loves Druid Cat form, running at high speed through the jungle, using Dash for a burst of speed immediately followed by Darkflight to keep that rush of movement going for as long as possible. When he gets the Stampeding Roar talent, he’s going to be buzzing like a ferret on Red Bull. I can see it coming, oh yes I can.

One thing I have learned in playing with Alex and going at his speed is that no matter how excited you are about the next quest, there is always time to stop and notice the small critters and insects that populate a zone… and kill them. Snakes, rabbits, small deer, cows, sheep, roaches, you name it, he kills it. And proudly announces it as a running commentary.

“There’s a snake! I pounced on it, I got it! Oooh, there’s a roach! Got ‘em!”

…. okay. I know mommy doesn’t like you to kill critters, but you can kill all the roaches. I grew up in South Florida, I approve. Kill all the roaches. In fact, Blizzard, show me some good old South Florida house lizards, we can kill all those little bastards, too. I’ll make a Mage just to perpetrate a house lizard holocaust.

His favorite critters in the game at the moment are the rats. Or, as the logic train he pointed out to me goes, “cats eat rats, and I’m a cat, so I’m pouncing on my lunch!”

And that brings me to his true, most special love.

Feral Charge.

He started out getting addicted to Skull Bash, which you get at level 22. We’d be hunting Worgen in Darkshire, and he would have me wait while he lined up carefully on the target, inching forward slowly to get within the 13 yard range of Skull Bash so he could fly through the air, pouncing on his prey.

Skull Bash obviously isn’t supposed to be a charge, it’s supposed to be a spell interrupt with a short range leap, it just brings you to your target, that’s all. Alex doesn’t know what mana cost increases and stuff really are, or spell interrupts, or PvP functionality. What he does know is he had a pounce that let him slam into his enemies from a distance. Gotcha!

The 13 yard range ended up causing a little frustration. He didn’t know how to tell if he was in range of the bad guys to use the spell or not.

I didn’t understand the problem at first. On my UI, when I target an opponent, each button indicates if I’m in range for that spell or not by lighting up. I tried to explain this to Alex, only to have him tell me his doesn’t do that.

As I tried wading through the Interface options looking for where his was turned off, Cassie asked me what I was talking about like I was crazy. She uses a mostly default UI, and hers doesn’t put any form of range indicator on her buttons either.

WTF?

It turns out that the XPerl UI Addon I’ve used for, what, five years now or more has it built in, and since I never, ever play the game without XPerl, I took the range indicator on individual buttons for granted. Hell, I thought it was standard for the game, how else do you know not to waste time activating an ability that has a varying range? It’s one thing on flat terrain, but some of the new sloping terrain designs are deceptive, and make accurately estimating distances difficult.

So, I got Alex set up with XPerl. I would have preferred just installing an addon that would put range modifiers on the ability buttons rather than completely revamping his whole UI, but I didn’t know of one. Honestly, this subject never came up for me before. I don’t know how Cassie and other players manage without a constant visual indicator of target range. I guess you’re just that good?

I got XPerl installed on his system, and now Alex knows how to stalk up to his prey in stealth, get just within extreme range and then unleash the leaping kitty Skull Bash thunder! Pow!

He had to use stealth for Skull Bash, because the second cause of frustation was that Skull Bash’s short range meant he could sometimes face pull before using his spell.

Ah, but I had the answer for that. And it came at level 29, when Alex was finally able to spec into Feral Charge.

Feral Charge. Sing me a song of Feral Charge, for Alex is in love with you.

With Feral Charge, Alex has a leaping kitty roaring pounce that puts him behind the target and is useable from stealth, plus he doesn’t have to be as careful with range. It’s got a much longer range than he’s used to, 25 yards, so he can be less focused on range.

Alex now Feral Charges all the things. ALL the things. Mobs, critters, pirates, you name it, he tries to feral charge it.

Last night, I caught him trying to line up on me from extreme range at the rear.

“Alex, you can’t feral charge me. I’m on your side.”

“Awww. You should be able to feral charge people on your own team too!”

“…. yes son, yes you should. Sometimes, I pray for the ability to attack members of our team, Feral Charge them and gank them and gank them and gank them….”

“What?”

“Nothing, nothing. That Crocolisk looks pretty cool. You wanna kill ‘em?”

“Yes!” *manuevers in stealth to feral charge the crocolisk*

At level 31, he was able to put a point in Stampede. This to me wasn’t that big a deal. To Alex, this was a VERY BIG DEAL.

I explained to him about the haste buff and the Ravage without positioning/stealth modifier, but it didn’t register until the first time he did a Feral Kitty Charge, and the Ravage button lit up.

“When I leap on them, the Ravage button lights up, and I’m not even in stealth!” Ah, the light in his eyes, the delighted glee at free mayhem. Having one of his stealth-only abilities, which must mean it’s special, available after a charge is like icing on an already delicious cake.

Then I paid closer attention to what he was saying.

He wasn’t saying “leap”.

He wasn’t saying “Feral Charge”.

No, when he was using Feral Charge to attack the enemies, ALL the enemies, what he was doing was singing a little song he made up on the spot, and sang over and over as only an 8 year old can;

“Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, they don’t call it head buttin’ for nothin’. Headbutt madness, headbutt madness, my head to his butt, POUNCE!”

At that point, I just grabbed a notebook and put it next to my keyboard. Gotta be ready to write this shit down.

Good thing I did. Not two minutes later, as we raced through the Stranglethorn Tigers (that we vastly outlevel) to grab our last two, Alex calls out, “I’ll get the one behind you so he doesn’t attack your tushie!”

Ah yes. Even on a Dwarf Shaman, my butt makes for a tasty target.

Butt protection, isn’t that what everyone wants from their adventuring companions?

26 Responses to “The Cub Report – Stranglethorn Edition”
  1. Neil says:

    This sounds awesome! When I have kids, I hope they’ll want to play video games with me, too.

    Quick note: I play with almost no addons (just AuctionLite and DBM), and I have range indicators on my spells. The number for the hotkey is red if you’re out of range. It’s hard to notice, though, if you’re not looking for it; X-Perl does a much better job.

  2. Xew says:

    Warms the cockles of my heart :) Kinda wish I had kids too… too old now, and the wife is against the idea, but happy to live vicariously through your story telling.

    I’m gonna go pounce around STV in honor of Alex.

  3. Tesh says:

    I *love* this. Alex is such a cool kid.

    Oh, and I don’t use any addons. I just look for when the hotkey number goes from grey to white on abilities like that with range I have to dance around. I’ve gotten good at guesstimating distances out of necessity. I kinda like playing the game without addons so I can get a feel for how it’s designed, rather than how it’s been polished by the community. I get a better sense of how Blizzard does things, for better or worse. (You can’t always count on the playerbase doing your work for you.)

  4. Sarabian says:

    When you start the next blog “Alex in Azeroth” make sure to post a link here so we can follow the adventures as I know many would. I just got my 9 year old son a trial account. We’ll see how that goes.

  5. Zwingli says:

    I’m not sure my wife is ready for me to introduce the oldest Nelfling to WoW…but, I can’t wait!

    Z

  6. Herr Drache says:

    What a great story! Almost makes me wish I’d had kids of my own. Then it hit me:
    1) I do have them. 2) They came with the marriage – insta-teens, you don’t even need to add water! 3) From that point on, I had to live vicariously through others.
    Ah, the decisions we make when befallen by this “love” thing…

    As to the range-addon, there is one, called “tullaRange”, which is based on “RedRange”
    And now that you side-tracked me, here’s someone else’s comment:
    CPU usage
    1. TullaRange 0.37-0.47%
    2. RangeColors 0.71 – 1.31%
    3. ButtonRange 2.92 – 4.35%
    4. RedRange 3.35 – 4.75%

    TullaRange came in as least CPU usage, but RangeColors also checks/colors spells you have too little mana(blue) to use.

    And I’ll fade back into geekdom…

  7. Zombiee says:

    For what it’s worth, Bartender also has a built in range indicator for the buttons. You can have the entire button or just the number change to red when out of range. While it allows you to change the spacing, position and size of all the toolbars, it doesn’t change the look of anything until you decide you want to change their appearance. It’s also simple enough to move stuff around that the BearCub might enjoy moving and resizing them to his taste. I certainly like my most used abilities floating near my toon.

    As for the post itself, it’s ones like this (and soapbox bearwalls) that keep me visiting every day.

  8. E says:

    This post needs a tissue warning for the tears that were streaming down my face from laughing so hard.

    It is very good to have a tushie protector!

  9. Elfindale says:

    I love these stories so much. What a great new perspective we can gain for this game we love so much once we view it through the fresh eyes of an innocent child. Keep playing with Alex and keep sharing.

  10. Gameldar says:

    I love feral charge too… (and it’s dirty cousin Shadowdance on my rogue – not to mention charge/intercept/intervene on my warrior). I wonder how Alex would take to the whole Feral Charge(Cat) -> Bear Form thing… I know I don’t use it enough (I’m usually too busy freaking out my healers running up with magic mushrooms down in caster form for a detonate->Bear Form macro usage)

    I hadn’t realised the range indicator on buttons wasn’t there until recently I stripped back my druid’s UI and switched to the default bars – Bartender provided that for me… and I think I might just have to switch back – tiny red text just doesn’t cut it!

  11. Rades says:

    That is awesome, keep up the Alex posts! I love how he was trying to Feral Charge YOU. It’s great to hear that you are having such a good time with him playing something that – clearly! – you both enjoy so much!

  12. Narley says:

    What a cute post… I know what I will be singing next Blackhorn HC^^.

    tell your son that he can charge twice as much in Bear form :3.

  13. Saz says:

    A truly feral little kitten, how adorable! I definitely feel his love for feral charge, prowl, and pounce. Best abilities in the game in my opinion, far too much fun and mischief to be had with them! Sounds like you two are forming a fun and productive gaming relationship, you get to spend quality time with him and he gets to have a blast pouncing all things.

    Thanks for sharing your adventures with little Alex with us, I know that it definitely made me grin!

  14. RobBy says:

    Out of the mouths of babes ;) Head-butt madness /ROFL

    Nice to know he’s got your six, B3.

    I’m surprised and disappointed that you didn’t duel him, so he could pounce you…. but then again, would you ever get any questing done after that? “Let’s dual again dad, huh, huh, c’mon you know you want to… I want to. come on, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease?”

    I didn’t realize the range finder wasn’t default. I guess CT-mod’s “barmod” does it for me… likewise, couldn’t live without it.

    • bigbearbutt says:

      Ummm… I forgot about the existence of dueling. It’s one of those things that’s in the category of ‘stupid waste of time’ to me.

      But now that you say that… that might be a fun idea.

  15. Cym (@Cymre) says:

    LOL, the things kids say.
    That was very entertaining to read. Thx for sharing :)

  16. Riegnman says:

    Tushie protection, huh? Let’s see if I can find it. . .
    *digs around recesses of his digital storage*

    nope. . . nope. . . ahhhh, here it is: http://i.imgur.com/mQraz.jpg

  17. Navimie says:

    Love the Alex stories :) Gosh I wish my daughter’s wow stories were that exciting! But she’s only 3 so she just runs around and sits in water troughs saying she’s taking a bath.

  18. Cris says:

    BBB, i would love to have Alex’ adventures on the side bar as well. Eversince i read these story, im trying to convince my 8 year old to play, but he is more interested with the lore. Now, he knows the aspects by color and i don’t even know them. hehe

  19. Mannyac says:

    Jeez. I remember sitting in your basement and getting him to say “ball” and you looked at me like wtf did you just get him to say?!?!?

    Damn I’m getting old(er)

  20. redcow says:

    “my head to his butt” Oh god I’m crying with how hilarious that is. I want to shake his furry little paw :)

  21. Cris says:

    BBB, whoah! it’s already at the side bar. :)

    • bigbearbutt says:

      I was busy Sunday morning! :)

      In fact, Sunday was a day of working so as not to think of other stuffs. Three blog posts, added blog sidebar links, went through the last two years of blog posts to add a few more storytimes and tales from the truckstop and stuff over there.

      Time flies so fast, and I’m usually looking to the future so much that I never think of adding past posts to the sidebar. Thank you for mentioning it, and getting me off my duff to do it.

  22. C.H. says:

    Your munchkin is the most awesome gamerbaby I’ve seen, met, or read about yet!

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