If I were the sort given to introspection, I might be worried at the direction my Warcraft gaming has taken.
I started this journey full of life and hope, an Elven Druid devoted to nature, given to the wild fury of the storm, a tiger to my foes, a stalwart bear to shield my allies.
Over the years, the journey found me seeking a companion to travel alongside, sharing each new vision we came across, me and my pet against the world, both of us excited to see what might lay on the far side of the mountains, under the cloudy skies.
But now… now, I just don’t know.
I’ve been exploring the darker side of life, playing with fire, taking my meals in the shady side of the streets. Hiding my light in the bushel of the Slaughtered Lamb, and isn’t that a creepy place to hang your hat and drink your draughts?
It’s hard to imagine sinking any lower than consorting with demons, even if your version of consorting involves some real consort-type action. What’s that? Nothing on the telly and 1-800-SUCCUBUS on the magnet by the fridge? Sounds like just another Warlock Saturday night.
Yeah, it’s hard to imagine sinking any lower than that.
It’s only hard until you’re faced with finding something to do on a Saturday night when you’re going to be a long time dead.
My Hunter looks forward to spending many a fine evening camped under the stars, massive dinosaur by his side. He will be there all summer long, a panda and his dino, toasting bacon, marshmallow and chocolate smores over the fire. The breeze feels mighty fine.
My Warlock is full of nervous energy, trying to claw and scrape her way towards power and wealth just as you’d expect. Always in sight is the need to deal death and destruction on an ever-larger scale, and when the Twin Emperors in old Ahn’Qiraj died in a millisecond this last weekend, all she could mutter was “Could’ve used a bit more oomph in the fire there. Could have cut a bit deeper. I can’t be having with any dilly-dallying on the fire.”
She’s never satisfied. Nothing is ever good enough, and a Valor Point left unearned in a week is simply unacceptable. There must always be more… more striving, more goals.
There can be no stopping until the stars themselves know what it is to wither and die beneath her crushing will.
But while she has the ambition and the will, she lacks the power to rain death and destruction on her foes at the scale she desires.
That might be a good thing, at least to everyone but her, but don’t tell HER that. She gets cranky.
As strong as her desires for destruction may be, even she pales beside the depths to which I have now sunk.
I’m dead, Jim.
I have spent the last week getting my undead groove on, aiding my sons Worgen Death Knight to take his first, fateful steps into LFR.
I say aiding, but it’s me on the reigns as he loses himself in Skylanders Giants and the new Luigi’s Mansion for the 3DS.
A dead Worgen, skeletal fleas nibbling on rotten ears, coated in a rime of frost, steeped in an unholy mixture of foul pestilence and rotting blood worms.
It doesn’t get any lower than six feet under. Does it?
Through this week, my playing has accelerated as a few horrifying truths have come clear.
Dear lord, Death Knights are so ridiculously overpowered I feel ashamed to log in.
No, wait, seriously now.
My Hunter has been on a few raids with lots of trash, and I don’t sit on my hands, mark you. I know Beastmasters are powerful on single targets, but I have still tried to support the team with the best AoE I could do.
I think my Hunter reached nearly to 99k once on the fourth boss in Heart of Fear. Once. At the peak of my iLevel 494 gear.
I ran Mogu’shan Vaults once all the way through a few weeks ago on the Death Knight, didn’t win any usable rewards. I ran it again this last week, and also worked hard to get enough Valor to purchase an iLevel 522 necklace. That finally qualified the DK to enter Heart of Fear.
Last night, I ran both halves of Heart of Fear for the first time ever, and capped the evening with the last three bosses of the Terrace.
First night even qualified to get into Heart of Fear, and that was with some crap gear cheating my way into the raid sitting unequipped in my bags.
I was worried, of course. Will my DPS be so poor that they boot me? I don’t want to be a drag on a team.
Let me put it this way.
On that fourth boss for Heart of Fear, Wind Lord Mel’jarak, I had 116K DPS, and fourth place on the chart.
That’s not a typo.
ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN THOUSAND FUCKING DEE PEE ESS.
And that is as UNHOLY. I keep hearing as to how Frost is so awesome, because y’know, Howling Blast means it has strong AoE.
That’s bullshit, that is.
It makes my power-mad Warlock weep bitter green tears, it does.
And for questing? I got Alex set up with a Blood spec, because the Dread Wastes were tough for him leveling as Unholy.
I fired the ol’ DK up as Blood and started rolling tide across the Isle of Thunder and, well, shit.
You know why I like questing as Blood DPS?
I like it because I can kill anything, I don’t have to pay attention, and I end every fight with full health.
I feel dirty.
Who knew the soil of the grave would leave me feeling so unclean?
Yeah, that’s what it is.
I was wondering aloud upon the incredibly bullshit OP nature of the Death Knight in guild chat last night, and Arrakeen remarked that there are few things in game quite as annoying as seeing a Blood Death Knight in the Brawler’s Guild, ignoring mechanics and gutting it out past the enrage timer.
I had to laugh. I think I saw the same fight.
“Oh no, you probably just saw one of many.”
You know, when a class is really overpowered, I always have just one thing to say.
Good on yer, and now let’s see some of that love spread around, all right then Blizz?
I’m sure it will last just as long as the next patch balancing, when somebody else will rise to new heights of WTFdom. It’s all good.
This trend of mine can’t continue. Where will it end?
For one thing, I can’t imagine what I would have to play to sink down any deeper than this.
I mean, I already HAVE a Hunter.
And no, I’m not race changing to Night Elf.
Or Blood Elf either, nice try.
And I absolutely draw the line at renaming him “Lolgalass”.
A large part of the guild queued for the second part of ToT LFR last night, but had to date only cleared normal Throne of Thunder through (and including) Tortos.
I say only, but I haven’t even set foot in Throne of Thunder Normal myself yet, so yeah. That wasn’t to denigrate their progression, but to nail down how much of the raid they’d had a chance to see so far.
As we approached the trash leading up to bird brain (my name for the third boss of the second part of ToT), Tom entered our vent channel. He wasn’t queued with us, but he’d done it in the morning in LFR and wanted to hear this.
He was damn near chortling over how much he loved the trash before the bird brain.
“Some of the best trash in the game”, was one spontaneous review, and “Wait until you see the snails!”
How the unholy hell can a snail be a viable trash mob?
I mean, a snail. Shell, slime and slow, right? Wavy eyes on long tendrils? We are talking snails here. Shrivel when salted? “Oh no, it’s Crazy Snail! Quick Tom, break out the Bat Salts!”
Yeah, I made a bath salts pun. Sue me.
We worked our way through the trash after the second boss, mostly spiders on ramps.
Where the heck… Ah hah! There, at the top of a ramp we beheld our first snail. Er, Gastropod.
Yep. Huge freaking snail. There has to be a catch here.
Is this a ninja snail? Does it vanish, only to pop in and bump you gently from behind with it’s soft, slimy snout?
Maybe it’s a lightning snail, and blazes a swift trail, achieving ludicrous speed to pounce on resto Druids and munch placidly on their leafy heads?
Mind control snail? It takes over Warlocks and makes them devour the Gastropod while talking with a French accent, resulting in acid indigestion?
Nope. But getting closer.
I know! Slime Slaughter Snail with extra Mucus action!
Ding ding ding ding.
So, okay, a snail. What’s the big deal?
Tom says, “check out the buff on the snail.”
I mouse over the Gastropod, and sure enough it has a buff.
Anything it touches (10 yard range) it, ahem, eats alive.
You’re being eaten alive!
2 seconds remaining
And after that two seconds, boom, you are DEAD.
In the words of my Dungeons and Dragons youth, no Armor Class, no Saving Throw.
Oh, hell yes.
I had to test this.
Rades, this is proof you don’t want me on your raid team. I saw that buff, and the very first thing I had to do was run over and stand in front of it.
Well, maybe you’d understand.
That’s right, it slowly, SLOWWWWWLLLYYYY approached me, and then killed my butt. Instantly.
Which didn’t help my raid team any, but had me howling with laughter at home. Oh, if only you were left with a 15 minute green cloud and the flavor text buff “You’ve been slimed!”
So, if it kills everything it touches, how can you possibly fight this most terrifying of terrestrial snails?
the way it works is, it fixates on someone, putting the big eyes of doom over their head, and then slowly slimes it’s way towards the fixate target.
This was massive fun, and I’ll tell you why.
It can fixate on Hunter PETS.
It fixated on MY pet. It fixated on BARRY.
Greatest thing ever.
As soon as I saw the eyes appear over Barry’s head, I popped him on passive so he’d run back to my side, which took a few seconds because apparently Barry really wanted to eat the snail, but whatever. I actually think Barry is just stubborn as hell. He seems to have an attitude.
After a suitable amount of cussing and swearing, Barry finally returned to my side and I was able to lead the damn snail around and down and over the ramp away from the rest of the raid… or most of the rest of the raid, who tended to spread out to cover all available space like an avalanche. That let everyone else stand back at a distance and drop a ton of bricks on it from safety.
Not everyone who got fixated had the same thought.
Oh yeah, there’s more than one of these badass snails.
I saw more than one player with eyeballs over his head back slowly through the center of the player group, DPSing as he went as though he were trying to burn down an Undying Shadow from Ziang in the Spirit Kings encounter.
One does not simply burn down a Gastropod while kiting it through the raid.
Unless you’re doing it for fun, but that’s another story.
New drinking game… every time a fixated player kites a snail through the raid, you down a beverage of choice.
We wiped on snails a few times.
It was so fun! Best damn trash in history.
I’m not even going to go into any more exposition.
I’m gonna let you think of all the ways having a super-high health mob that insta-kills anything it touches and fixates/chases a player (albeit slowly) can be used for good… or evil.
Thank you, Novalas, for reminding me I was going to write about the joys of Gastropodony. And for posting that awesome picture of the Gastropod Siege of Orgrimmar.
Last night I ran the second part of Throne of Thunder LFR on my Hunter. I also did Galleon and Sha of Anger.
Ended up with a 496 ring and two iLevel 502 drops. No, not the bow, but really when enjoying an embarassment of riches, who cares?
Contrast that with last week, where I didn’t so much as sniff a drop. Or Cassie, who ran the first section last night, used a coin every kill, and also didn’t win new loots.
Random is random.
It’s funny, I remember one of the core tenets of video games when I was growing up in the ’80s, which was that digital logic programming couldn’t produce truly random results. At some point, there had to be a seed, and from that seed all pseudo-random gobbledygook must follow.
Duplicate the seed, and you repeat the sequence related to that seed. The secret to beating video game ‘random’ sequences was discovering that hidden, secret seed or how the system was programmed to respond to your actions.
I wonder sometimes if that is where some of our legends on influencing loot drops comes from. That old faith in an underlying structure, a belief that nothing in a video game is truly random, and that things are programmed to respond to our input, to react to our actions in some way, and if we could just nail down what the repeatable response would be, we’d know what to do to influence events to fall our way.
I sometimes wish that our wild theories on how to influence loot drops or ‘random’ events really, well, WORKED.
I loved the mystery in Vanilla WoW of wondering if we the players, by our actions, could somehow influence, say, when Onyxia would deep breath. People in raid would come up with strats for what the players had to do, and they were serious. Stand over there, DOT early, don’t DOT until 15 seconds in, all Mages stand in the center, etc. Some of it was that Onyxia wasn’t tauntable, so tanks had to be allowed to really build up threat before people started doing damage, but other things were just… attempts at seeing if player actions in weird ways would affect when Onyxia would do something.
There is a part of me that wishes there really was some chance that filling my bellybutton with blue mud, dancing naked in the rain widdershins to the wind and rubbing my tummy with one hand while patting the top of my head with the other, I could increase the chances my Gun would drop from Lei Shei by 10%.
It would give me the illusion that I could somehow influence my fate.
I’d even welcome the inevitable “blue mud is unbalanced, nerf blue mud” forum posts.
I’d like to think that there were secret, behind the scenes things that players did in their ordinary gameplay that would have unforeseen and unknowable effects later in the game, on loot or bosses, when you least expected it.
You could call it karma if you like, but I am not suggesting that there be any way to track it. It would ruin things if there was a clear link between cause and effect. Part of the fun would be in thinking you’ve discovered a secret trick that always works for you, you don’t know why nobody else has discovered it. It didn’t work for someone else? They didn’t do it right!
“Hey, I don’t know what’s wrong with your group, when me and my four Druid friends formed a raid and made a stack of Reindeer, Ashes of Alar dropped from Kael’thas right after. I’m telling you, you need to try it. Did you have five? Maybe you didn’t have enough Druids in your stack.”
It would be so much fun if there was a gentle suggestion from the devs that, should you do things of a positive or friendly nature in the game, your kindness would be returned to you in ways you could not foresee. And that it was coded right into the game to track random acts of kindness, just like tracking achievements. But without any way for the player to see what is or is not tracked, or what they have or haven’t noticed to create some ‘perfect guide’ to gaming the karma system.
I know people in the game already who enjoy taking items, wrapping them in gift paper and sending them to friends, just to cheer them up. Or who offer tips instead of criticism, support and encouragement instead of unloading with venom.
People that do the little things that go into being a positive person in public rather than a depressing pain in the ass.
Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we were told that keywords, phrases, even trends of typed chat in the game contributed to some kind of karma system?
Such a terrible dilemma. To troll people and rant in trade chat, swear and yell at noobs, post ‘anal’ links and risk reduced loot chances or increased damage done to YOU by bosses (or enemy players in PvP!) or, as the alternative, pretend to be nice to court unspecified but presumed real karma rewards, even when you’re a nasty little shit in real life.
It’s fun to contemplate. It really is.
Thinking about these things, and how it would be fun to experiment with the results in a live setting, it all just points out how glad everyone should be that I am not a game developer.
Because I’m telling you, straight up, i’d implement the system and not tell any players until the game had been out at least 6 months, and then track social behavior changes.
Lab rats or players… well, as the saying goes, eventually developers would grow a fondness for the rats.
Also, there are some things you can’t get the lab rats to do. One word? Achievements.
I love the Engineering profession in World of Warcraft, and have leveled it to max on quite a few characters over the years.
When I changed servers a year or more ago, I left my most advanced and complete Engineer behind.
As I leveled my Warlock up recently, it occured to me that I didn’t have Engineering on any character I felt like playing. nobody has leveled it into Pandaria for the new fun goodies.
I have no Blingtron! I cannot craft a Depleted-Kyparium Rocket!
Oh my, this will not do.
I know! A Warlock Miner/Engineer.
What could possibly go wrong?
Ahem. Perhaps I did not say that loudly enough for the fates to have heard.
I said, “WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?”
Ah, that’s better. I can feel the forces aligning around me even now, having invoked the words of power.
Over the course of a few days, I power-leveled my Mining to max, and at each stage of ore I didn’t stop until I’d leveled Engineering past that point. It kept me from having to go back over and over. Pretty smart, right?
The two professions were about equal to each other up to Cobalt Ore. You need an ungodly amount of Cobalt Ore to level Engineering. Other than that one bottleneck, no problems.
Fast forward to now.
Level 87 Warlock, level 585 Engineering, max Mining. Just have the FUN stuff left to make to level. You know, Wormhole Generators for Pandaria, Dragonling pet, and at max a Blingtron. All stuff that takes Spirits of Harmony, and so all stuff that realistically takes a working farm at level 90.
But what can I do now?
Ah, I have just the thing! I can go back and get my Jeeves!
Oh right, going back to stuff I’ve leveled past and don’t have mats for. Brilliant, Bear. Just brilliant.
As i said, I’ve had many Engineers over the years, and across them I’ve had Jeeves at least four times now. Why, it shouldn’t hardly take any time at all for my 87 Warlock to drop on by those Library Guardians in the Storm Peaks and get the Jeeves recipe to drop. Why, I’ll also get the SCRAP-E recipe quest as a two-fer!
“I intend to pursue, capture and learn this receipe. It’s as simple as that!”
How bad could it be?
Ahem. “HOW BAD COULD IT BE?”
There we go. [shudder]
I traveled to Storm Peaks and began to slaughter Library Guardians. It was quite easy, and I left their looted bodies scattered across the snow.
Five, six, eight at a time I’d dot ‘em up, and they were just so helpful, running to me so as to be within close looting range once the dot finished them off. I could plop down in the center of a widely-separate assortment and pull them all to me with a measly dot a piece.
Ah yes, wintertime, and the killing was easy.
So I cleared the area, and cleared it again, and my wasn’t it nice that the respawn rate was so high?
And I cleared the area again, and then cleared some more, continuously burning through Library Guardians until I had many hundreds of Relics of Ulduar, hundreds of gold in grey drops vendored (gotta love the Tundra Travelers Mammoth), and a slightly sore mouse hand.
But no Jeeves.
Okay, I know the answer to this. I’ve been here before, many Jeeves have been learned and crafted, I know these Library Guardians have the best drop rate.
Random is just random. I have to bear down and deeps harder. MOAR DOTS!
Hmmm. Still no recipe? That is just damn odd.
I know it used to take a few days, but geez, that was when it took me a while to burn one mob down. I’m blowing through a hundred Library Guardians every fifteen minutes or so. This just seems doo de doo doo, doo de doo doo twilight zone time.
I wonder… did the drop rate change since the Pandaria expansion? Seems odd, I woulda thunk they’d increase the drop rate for something so necessary in old content, but maybe, just maybe, before I spend another three hours on this tonight, I should check WoWhead to be sure.
So… you’re supposed to, like, salvage the Library Guardians to get the recipe. It’s not a loot drop.
Salvaging. Oh yeah…. that’s right. That, like, Engineering thingie that us Engineers can do.
So, let this be a lesson to you.
Before you set your cunning plan in motion, make sure you check your facts and do your research, or you’re just gonna end up in the pot.
I follow blogs and listen to a few podcasts related to WoW, and it’s occurred to me I’ve really been blessed.
It took me forever to get my Sha-touched Weapon.
Months of pain, of striving, of crying in the night, cold and alone without my bang-bang.
Running week after week with a rare 463 bow, I began to take extraordinary measures to try and up the chances of a drop, multiple runs a week, chanting and burning incense, rolling my D20′s over and over until they all showed 1′s before a run just to use up all my bad luck and up the chance my next bonus roll would be a natural 20, you name it.
What reading other blogs, listening to podcasts and talking with other guild members in raids has made clear is I am not alone.
Oh no, far from it. And those of us who are sharing the troubles of our times, we carry with us scars that will last a lifetime.
What I’m realizing is, this strife, the struggle, the quest for the Sha-touched weapon for all classes has taken on a larger than life meaning.
The item itself? For Hunters, the Sha-touched weapon is ultimately meaningless. Like every other combat item in the game, it’s as relevant and enduring as navel lint. It’s as ugly as the north end of a south-bound rhino, too.
Looks aside, a year from now, will I still be using my Sha-touched weapon?
Not only won’t I be using the Sha-touched weapon, I might not even be playing the same character anymore.
You never know what the future holds, but one thing is certain; there will be content upgrades with more powerful gear, ALWAYS.
Whatever we are using now will someday soon be taken off, examined for transmog opportunities, and dumped accordingly.
In the end, it’s not the drop that matters.
The true value of the Sha-touched weapon is the community that has grown up around it.
Those of us who have sought the Sha-touched weapon in vain for months at a time are digital adventurers, striving against the fates and an unfeeling Content Programmer on the trail of a myth, a legend, a tantalizing glimpse of life-changing treasure.
We endure extremes of playing and queue times, blow extra rolls and run dailies to earn tokens, all to feed our passionate quest for the ultimate prize.
We are Allan Quatermain, searching for King Solomon’s mines, only when we get the gold his team craved to us it is as ashes in our mouth compared to the wondrous glory we seek and never find.
You who walk into an LFR or raid and have Sha-touched weapons fall easy or early are the ones who are left out.
You will never have had that experience that we few, we few, we band of unfortunates have shared that will bond us into a community for years to come.
We are the ones who won’t be able to tell you what upgrades we picked up and tossed aside along the way, but our memories of striving for the Sha-touched weapon and failing over and over will last a lifetime.
When we sit in vent waiting for raid to start, we will be the blessed few with tales to share with each other of failed extra rolls and pity-gold by the thousands.
We will feel that bond that only comes from sharing a common pain as we look back on all the times we queued up hesitant and hopeful, only to suffer through the fail pugs and utter idiots to hold gold in our hands once again.
You, with your easy Sha-touched drops will not be one of us. You will be an outsider, and we will shake our head in sadness to your stories of running Attumen the Horseman for three years, or all the runs into Tempest Keep for a phoenix, but inside it won’t be the same.
There are mounts and other vanity items, but for those of us who sought a best in slot raiding weapon tied to our Legendary questline and came up with nothing, it’s just not the same.
We know what it is to seek in vain, to hope and be crushed, to strive and fail, week after week after FUCKING WEEK without getting that one damn drop while our raid team moves up the charts without us, and worse yet, without truly appreciating how lucky they are to have it, those bastards.
Oh yes, we know how it feels to earn thousands of valor, to have a legendary gem and gem socket just sitting in our bags, waiting for that day that one goddamn weapon we want drops for us, only to get nothing.
We know. We’ve been there.
That gives us an experience that will last long past the point the gear itself is meaningless.
Just like any adventure… it sucks while you’re doing it, omigod it sucks, but someday in the future, these memories will be priceless.
Either that, or just one more thing to bitch about, I honestly can’t tell you which.