My Mage be makin’ BACON!!!!

It finally happened. It took a long time, way too bloody long all things considered, but this Bear finally achieved one of my pre-Cataclysm goals, thanks to Cassie.

My Mage, the first and only Mage I ever created, has (as I’ve said previously) only been played as part of a team, following the lead of Cassie the Superbear.

Cassie, who, and I really can’t say this enough, has the most amazing spacial awareness of anyone I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter what direction I pull the mobs from with my 40 yard Ice Lance, or how many she’s already holding, she grabs the incoming mob before it’s even halfway near us.

Growl and Feral Faerie Fire on incoming mobs are your friends… and most of the time, Growl is irrelevant unless I’m just going to town. FFF does some amazing threat.

Anyway, we’ve only played these characters together, and we’ve taken so long on leveling that both our characters have the Achievement for saving a town from the Headless Horseman… from last year. :)

But I had a dream.

It was a simple dream, of modest proportions.

Nothing revolutionary, nothing to set the world on fire. But an important dream to me, nonetheless.

I dreamed of a day when I could proudly march into a field of Murlocs, transform them into Pigs, and use my powerful fire abilities to make my own Bacon, on demand.

My ice abilities, of course, would be helpful in saving leftovers. But it’s bacon; leftovers? Yeah, right. 

That was my dream. A do-it-yourself Bacon kit; just add Murloc.

Last night, my dream finally came true.

We started out the night at level 57, and I mean 57 and 1.2% into the next level. We had some quests in Un’Goro Crater on our books, but after that, we weren’t sure where to go.

We’d done some solid playing the nights before, and had managed one level per night, so I had hopes we’d see Hellfire Peninsula, or at least come darn close.

Instead, through Cassie’s dedication and tanking skills and my ability to hit a “fwoom” button, we plowed through Un’Goro, nailed 58, popped into Hellfire and blasted all the way through to 60.

I’d like to personally thank the jackass level 80 Blood Elf that helped make this possible, who waited for us to kill all the Ravagers in an area before swooping in on a broomstick to snag the egg and then fly off out of sight overhead… just to do it again on the next egg we cleared the way to. I’ve never killed so many Ravagers before when doing that silly quest, and it helped a lot.

I’m happy to say that all of the commenters on my previous post were right; while there are bugs in the Mage class quest chain that results in learning the Pig Polymorph spell, it is still in the game, and is still perfectly available.

The first bug that can be misleading is when you pick up a quest from a Mage Trainer, a quest that will send you out to find the actual quest giver in Azshara. For Alliance Mages in Stormwind, the quest was called “Magecraft”.

When picking up that quest, if you zone or log out, the quest is gone when you return. That can be very misleading; you don’t need that quest at all, you can go directly to Azshara and get the quest from the source, no pre-requisites.

The second potential bug is when you are directed to Polymorph targets in order to create polymorph clones. The quest expects you to use your Sheep spell. If you have the Penguin glyph enabled, it will bug out and crash the quest. So make sure you use Sheep.

The quest itself turned out to be very fun. Initially, it sounded like a big drag, because you have to Sheep a target, and  then after 2 to 3 seconds, the target spawns from 1 to 5 polymorph clones that look like super-teeny tiny little sheep… that are FAST as hell, take off in all directions like they’re sensitive areas were on fire, and are NOT tab targetable.

These are the things you need to kill. And you need to kill 50 of them.

My first two or three sheeps, I tried to nail the Polymorph Clones with Ice Lance, and only got one before the rest died of old age.

Next I tried Sheeping the target, and then standing on the Sheep and prepping Arcane Explosion to fire when the clones appeared. that didn’t work worth a damn, though, because they quickly rocket out of the Arcane Explosion AoE.

But finally, I simply chose to Sheep a target, and then drop an old fashioned Blizzard right on top of the sheep before the clones appeared. This broke the sheep early, but the clones appeared INSIDE the AoE and popped instantly.

That was a lot of fun!

A long night, but a merry one. The very thought of knowing that I hold the power in my hands to not only transform my enemies into Pigs, but to kill them, roast them and make delicious BLTs out of them fills me with glee. No, not that kind of Glee.

THIS… this is true power. This is the heady feeling of power that can corrupt even the mightiest of mortals.

In other news, I have four versions of Polymorph; Sheep, Pig, Turtle and Rabbit. Yes, Rabbit. I planned ahead and ground out the chocolates so I could buy the Tome of Polymorph: Rabbit during the Easter in-game event, even though I knew I couldn’t use it for about 30 levels or more. Totally worth it.

It looks like all that’s left right now is the Black Cat. There was a Turkey datamined and can be seen in WoWhead, but it lokos like it never went live. Man, turkey? Can you imagine? Bacon is epic, but what about making my own bacon WRAPPED turkey? Club Sandwiches, anyone?

Thank you Cassie, for dragging my Mage butt all over the world just so I could make darn sure I could be makin’ some bacon before the Cataclysm. I do solemnly swear to never polymorph a Druid, no matter WHAT the form they’re in.

Storytime: Feeling the Surfing Blues

This morning while driving to work, I got a nostalgic twofer on the local rock station. They played a song by The Offspring, back to back with some Red Hot Chili Peppers.

That combination brings back pretty powerful memories for me, because both of those bands evoke for me the time when I lived in Southern California, and almost all of my free time was spent either on a surfboard, or on the beach playing volleyball when waves were rough.

It’s funny, I don’t know if it’s just because both of those bands were on the airwaves a ton back then while on the beach, along with Suicidal Tendencies, or if it’s a similarity in tone, but hearing them always brings back that ‘surfer vibe’.

Hearing those songs, bringing back those memories after so long really shocked me a little.

It crept up on me. I can’t believe I live in Minnesota. I’m a freaking Minnesotan? Like, you want to go to the State Fair this year? You betcha!

Grr, hell no. That ain’t me, man. No way.

If you’d have asked me years back, I’d never in my wildest dreams have believed I’d end up living in a totally land-locked state, about as far from the ocean as you can get in the continental USA.

I’ve got the sea in my soul. It’s trite, and even corny, but dammit it’s true.

I was born in San Diego, CA, and I spent my entire life living right up close to the ocean, whether West Coast SoCal or East Coast Miami/Fort Lauderdale/Boca Raton.

Right up until I left for Marine Corps Boot Camp, all my life I was never farther than a 15 minute jog to the beach.

All my memories of growing up are tinged with an awareness of the closeness of the sea. Jogging the intracoastal waterway, working my uncle’s tourist sport fishing boat off the Miami Pier during the summer months, boogie boarding and surfing and snorkling, lazing around on the scorching hot sand, bitching about the long walks to get from the street to the surf, lots of my time was spent hanging around the ocean.

Even when I wasn’t within sight of it, though, you’d get the smell, the breezes, and the attitude. The awareness that, sure, right now you may be suffocating in a classroom, but freedom was just minutes away. Skip class and you could be in the water in minutes. Ahhhhh.

When I was at loose ends after High School, waiting for my entrance date to go to boot camp, I had months to get ready. I spent most of that time in Delray Beach at an apartment off South Federal Highway, and in the evenings, like starting around midnight every night when it got cooler and the humidity only felt like breathing through a wet dish towel when you ran, I’d head out jogging, go down to the big bridge over the intracoastal waterway, run up that sumbitch at a dead heat (and then coast down the other side), and run all the way to the fancy pants Marriot and out back to the beach cabanas they had back there in the planted palms. I’d run full out to get there, and then just sit for a while and relax, in the dark, enjoying the cool sea breezes, just being there and feeling the pulse of the sea. It’s incredible. 

And then I’d have to run my happy ass back up that bridge to get home. Ugh.

It’s silly, but the whole thing feels like a weird dream when I take a step back and get some perspective on it. I never would have imagined a time when I’d live so far away from the ocean that people would talk about going to a waterpark, and seriously talk about the fun of playing at a “wave pool”. A big tank full of water with a machine that forces that water to simulate the motion of the waves of the ocean.

Say what? How, well, soulless.

Even in the Marines, events conspired to keep me close to the sea. Years spent in South Carolina at Beaufort right near the ocean, with Hilton Head Island a quick trip down the coast. Savannah just a little farther. Sure, it’s roads through swamps, but it’s still coastal. Then there was Okinawa and the joys of windsurfing. Oh, how I loved windsurfing.

I had no choice but to learn windsurfing in Okinawa, the big rocks they reinforced the coasts with mean the waves break RIGHT where your face meets concrete. That’s a scary damn thing for a soft sand beach boy to learn to deal with, right there. Coming in, coming in, coming in, Bail! Bail! Bail! Windsurfing gives you more steering control. :)

We won’t talk about the years in the desert, shall we? Let’s just say that I really, really enjoyed the stark contrast between life in the desert, and life near the ocean. I found it far more fun than if I lived in some normal place. Fortunately, the military isn’t in the habit of wasting perfectly good land to put a military base on. They’ll find some remote sandpit or swampland, and plant stakes there.

Yet, here I am. It was always meant to be a temporary visit until I could return to a REAL state, one with some tasty beaches. I came up here to visit because Minnesota is where my dad was born, and where all my family on his side still live. I came to visit relatives I’d never really had much chance to get to know before, and ended up hanging out for a little while. Inevitably, I made some friends. Next thing you know, I’ve got a job, apartment, friends I hang with, and I fall in love with a wonderful lady whose entire family lives here locally, and, well, once you start sinking roots that deep, you tend not to move very far away. :)

Is there a point to this?

No, not really. Just on my mind how funny things turn out, in ways you’d never expect when you sit down as a teen and plan out how you think your life will go.

If you’d asked me back then, nope, never in a million years would I have expected to end up in Minnesota. Just, how?

And yet, here I am, and honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere else… because this is where the woman I love is, and where we are happy with our son.

Now I get to think about what life will be like for my son, with all of his roots here in land-locked ‘flyover country’. Having never known the sea, never known it’s power, what will his future be like? Will he grow up never imagining a time when he’d end up living anywhere else? Will he someday find himself living on a small atoll in the South Pacific wondering what the hell happened?

God help me, he’ll probably end up on a Navy Submarine.

I guess if there is a point to any of this, I guess it’s to not get too hung up on making long term plans, or setting serous expectations for the future.

If you get all wrapped up in how you think your life should go, then when real life comes along and changes everything around you, you might be too caught up worrying about what might have been to sit back and really enjoy the things you actually HAVE. 

Still. Dammit, I miss good barbeque. One thing you can say for Southern Florida, barbeque is plentiful. And fresh seafood. Oh, the fresh seafood. How do I miss thee? Let me count the ways. OH! And cuban food!

Okay, I don’t miss Florida, I just miss the food!

In all seriousness, the one thing I really do miss is just being at the beach, at night, when things are quiet and there’s nothing but you, the sound of the surf, the feeling of massive waves pounding into the rocks transmitted to your feet, and the stars in the clear sky overhead. That’s just the best.

On the other hand… what I get now is the joy of watching my son hit a ball off a tee-ball post, and run to first base like a nut, arms waving madly all over in his excitement. Oh, and the way he giggles when he farts, driving his mother batshit insane, because “he’s just like you!”.

It doesn’t get much better than that. :)

Tales from the Trip 1

So, we’re on vacation to South Dakota.

At the time of this writing, I’ve been driving for two days through rain, and assiduously avoiding the internet. I know that MMO Champion has released tons of new info on Cataclysm, and I am proud to say I don’t actually have any interest in the details at all. I COULD check it out… but naaah.

As we have traveled through the delightful reaches of South Dakota, there have been two wonderfully trippy moments to share.

Both moments happened in Mitchell last night.

First, we went to the Corn Palace, a fine testament to the struggle of early Americans to come up with marketing ploys to suck people into bringing cash into their city.

No, that’s not sarcasm. The Corn Palace put on a 15 minute movie, and in the first 15 seconds, the movie made it clear, two guys back in the day of the wild west, before South Dakota was a state, were chatting, wondering to each other “What can we do to bring people to our city and spend money?” The answer? To steal someone else’s idea. “Another city has a wheat palace, and a different city tried to make a corn palace to compete but failed to build it. Why don’t WE steal their idea, build a corn palace, and use it as a draw to sucker people from miles around to come see it, and while here, spend their money on food and rooms to sleep?” “Good idea!”

To prove the efficacy of their idea, here we were, 80 years later, sitting in the Corn Palace, about to buy souvenirs, room booked at a local hotel, and dinner about to be purchased. Just another group of tourists, suckered in to see the Corn Palace. Go us.

Still, the actual first amazing trippy thing? The Corn Palace was filled with tacky gifts to buy. As Alex gleefully filled a bag with selected shiny rocks (only $4.99 per bag!) I browsed among the stuffed Jackalopes and carved corn sculptures (with stickers saying Made in China!), and made a glorious discovery that harkened back to my earliest childhood.

What did I find?

I found a display of candy… candy CIGARETTES!!!

Oh hell yes, these were the shit. I’d go to the Five and Dime store, and buy a couple packs of fake candy smokes, and pretend to light up outside. The candy tasted like crap, but they were cigarettes! A paperboard box stamped with a realistic logo, the little tax stamp faked at the top, the whole deal.

I hadn’t seen these in decades, and here they were!

I just had to buy a pack.

They sit here on my hotel desk, reminding me of a simpler time, a better time, a golden era of America. A time when seat belts didn’t even come on cars, where kids could sleep on the back seat during long rides, where everybody smoked, even the kids, where you didn’t care about cholesterol; you cooked with Crisco lard straight out of the can by the ice cream scoopful, where the hot new thing was this kickass video game called Pac-Man, and the rich kid down the block had an actual video game on his TV at home, this badass game two kids could play against each other called PONG!

Damn right, Pong was real, bitches! Now that’s hardcore.

I didn’t spend 59 cents on a tacky souvenir, I bought a gateway to my childhood. A childhood where, if someone had ever suggested someone would be stupid enough to spill hot coffee from McDonalds on themselves and then sued McDonalds for not posting a warning label that the hot coffee would be, like, hot, that we naively would assume they’d be laughed out of court, and then mocked for the rest of their lives.

Yes, a time of innocence, before reality crushed my spirit into endless cynicism that doubles in this world as being a realist.

Hey, I can really spin some words out of a pack of candy smokes, can’t I?

The second amazing thing I’m going to leave more to your imagination.

We went to a truck stop across the street from our hotel for dinner.

It was a truck stop with a fairly large home cooking restaurant.

Our waitress had a tattoo on her face. A tattoo that stopped me dead in my tracks with complete and total brain lock.

It is NOT overstating things to say that my brain tried to process what my eyes saw, and then broke.

I’ll preface this by saying, I drove a truck cross-country for a couple years after I got out of the Marines. A full tractor-trailer, 18 wheeler, yadda yadda rig. I lived out of the sleeper cab rather than use hotel rooms on the road, I ate out of truck stops and diners, and I saw every bit of the continental US.

I learned that there are certain… unsavory facts the kills the romance of our heroic long distance truckers.

One of those facts, is lot lizards.

Lot lizard, and I’m totally serious, is the term truckers use for women of negotiable affection who cruise the truck lots by night, looking for cash in exchange for hauling some ash.

Lot lizards. That’s what they call ’em.

Well, a lot of truckers are single and want to hump anything that moves. And a lot of truckers are family drivers that want absolutely nothing to do with lot lizards.

So, since the way lot lizards get business is by walking up and down the lines of rumbling, idling trucks tapping on windows and propositioning the drivers, there have been two methods developed on the down low to signal ones’ interests.

The drivers that want nothing to do with lot lizards can easily find and buy stickers that show a sleazy looking female lizard with scales and hideous lipstick, with a big circle/bar symbol over it, to signify “No lot lizards”. I’ve also seen handmade signs that just say, “No Lot Lizards”, for use by truckers that don’t own their own rigs but drive company ones.

Then there are the guys (and presumably ladies) that DO want to make a lot lizard hookup.

Hey, it’s just like gold sellers. Everybody says they don’t use ’em, but SOMEBODY is keeping them coming back, right?

Well, for truckers looking for lot lizards, there are these pictures you see of a sexy lady in silhouette, usually of solid silver color. You can get them as stickers, you can get them on bumper stickers or license plate frames, and you see them most prominently on big trailer mud flaps.

Yes, that’s what they mean. If you ever bought one and displayed it and had no idea what it meant, however it may have started, that’s what it means in the trucking industry now.

So, truckers who are seeking the attentions of the lot lizards make sure they display that prominently on their truck somewhere.

Which kind of trucker was I?

I’ll put it this way.

After a long day of driving, anybody rapping on MY truck window waking my ass up pisses me off. I’m a tired, grumpy old bear, leave me the hell alone.

So this brings us right up to last night, at a truck stop diner, a family restaurant, and our waitress… all properly attired in clean, neat uniform… hair up in a bun, pleasant smile… and one of those leaning lady nudes TATTOOED ON HER FACE NEXT TO HER RIGHT EYE!!!

I’m serious. I looked at her, my eyes noticed a tattoo on her face, my eyes tracked over, identified the image… and my brain tried to process the sequence of events that would lead a woman to choose to have THAT tattooed permanently on her face forever, and my brain simply went “Uh, wha? Huh? Whadafu?”

I still have no idea. Not a clue.

And you know what?

I don’t really want to know. I’m just going to chalk it up as a “Wow, every time I think I’ve seen it all, I find out that I haven’t even come close” moment.

So, with that lovely image ringing in your minds, I shall say farewell. May you enjoy your week of constant barrages of WoW info, while I check out the rough loveliness of the badlands of South Dakota, the Mount Rushmore faces, and as many nice meals out as I can scam out of Cassie.

Bye!

Tales from the PUG: The Return

Yeah, you know it. Uh huh, that’s right, you know it.

Just when everyone is choking down actual gameplay teasers being released in a flood, here I come with some non-informative post about a PUG run.

Hey, there’s only so much teaser BS a person can take in one day. You gotta have somewhere to go for a laugh, right?

Last night, I returned to the PUG for a turn or two on my Druid.

My lovely, beefy Tauren piece of awesomeness.

As a sidebar, I’d never really noticed how much I had grown to dislike the appearance of my very first, original female Night Elf character. When I started the game and chose my Druid, the male Night Elf options all looked terrible to me, and the Night Elf females looked pretty nice. I didn’t know about the whole “pole dancing” thing yet.

But the face I chose for the Druid just looked… well, vapid. Stupid. Irritatingly so. She looked like a valley girl, like, ya know?

Is it any wonder you hardly ever saw me in anything other than Bear, Cat or Tree?

But my Tauren… ah, my Tauren.

I love him so much, I want to heal in Tauren form. Screw going into Tree, I can’t see those horns!

Okay, anyway.

Oops! First, let me make clear, there ARE Night Elf females I do like. I think my Nelf Hunter Windstar looks awesome. She looks both sensitive and badass at the same time. It’s not Night Elf females in general, it was the choice I made in face design for my Druid in specific. You can’t change faces in the Barbershop. Doing a faction change, for that alone, is almost worth it.

Okay, anyway, anyway. Again.

(You know I do that with my grammer just to torque Kestrel, right? Shh, don’t tell him. Oh, and now some dots, everyone loves my dots…)

((Love you, Kestrel!))

(((Damnit, I spelled Grammar right above… I better fix that… okay, fixed. Moar dots!)))

I’m in a cheerful mood, so watch out, I don’t know where I’ll be driving this bus next!

Right. Where the heck was I? Oh, yeah, right.

[Queue Keanu voice]: Woah.

So there I was last night, all horny and everything, and wanting to build up my stockpile of Emblems.

I created this Hawt Blood Elf Hunter Chick (Which is kinda like a Sexy Blood Elf Biker Chick, but with a reddish colored cat with great big fangs like this ;-<) and she’s got two Heirloom Trinkets, some sexy Heirloom PvE shoulders and a chestpiece, and this big honking double-barreled PvP Heirloom shotgun.

It’s all good, the cute off the shoulder armor with the little red vest is precious, but the shottie? That’s so, like, Dwarf, you know?

Now, if the Shotgun had some taste and refinement, if it had the finishing touches found in a nice Holland and Holland over/under combo, if it came in a fine handcrafted ebony wood case with a few bottles of Mont Blanc, well…

But no, it’s entirely too plebian. It simply will not do.

But I did see just the thing in the latest Tiffany’s collection catalog, this very well shaped Heirloom Bone Bow,  that looked just the sort of thing for a Blood Elf with an eye towards style and sophistication. Perhaps with the 12 1/4″ shafted arrows with Northrend Shoveltusk ivory inlay, silver chased heads and rare black eagle feather fletching?

Yeah, those cost 65 Emblems, and my charge cards are all maxed out. And you don’t EVEN want to go there, but you know, it was Easter, all the stores had their new Spring collections out, what can you do, you know?

So anyway, that’s totally why I need Emblems right now.

Hey, let’s go on a pug!

I went into the LFD tool as a healer, because I pretty much have decided that I will only tank for friends from now on. I play for fun, or to achieve goals for other characters that are going to be fun, and being a tank for the groups I typically get just isn’t all that spiffy anymore.

I love tanking with friends, but strangers? Yeah, not so much.

On the flip side, I try to never be the person that does to other tanks what people do to drive ME to stop pugging as one. You pass it on, right?

I joined LFD, and right away got an Azjol-Nerub group. That’s a good thing, because AN is about as smooth and straightforward and fast as you can hope for in a pug, when it’s all about return on time invested. 5 Emblems, 15 minutes. Sweet!

You suspect it’s going to be one of those runs, when you don’t even have five in the group yet, and the tank has already pulled the first mobs.

You know it’s going to be one of those groups, when you just rounded the corner trying to catch up to “hopalong tankaday”, and you get a facefull of ignored Skirmisher all up in your roots.

So, yay, I self-heal through that, while tossing my HoTs around and begin getting down to serious healing. This group, tank included, are taking just a massive amount of fast damage.

Wow, what the heck?

I’m running the Gearscore addon these days, NOT to judge people’s worthiness to be in my groups, but for just this type of situation. By looking at each player’s portrait in the party, I quickly see I’ve got a Paladin tank with a 5600 Gearscore, I’ve got two players, Death Knight and Shadow Priest with 3K GS (or under, actually, both were like right on the edge of 3K) who are both in the same guild, and a Warlock at around 4K.

By way of comparison, my healing gear on my Druid is pretty solid from Emblems and Heroic PoS/FoS drops, and it’s gemmed and enchanted properly, and I’m at 4.8K GS. I’ve even got a Frost cloak. So 5600 tells me that’s someone in pretty good raiding gear, and 3K tells me a couple pretty new level 80s in mostly Blues and a few crafted Epics or drops, and 4K tells me the player is working their way up nicely.

Notice I make no judgments on skill at all here. I’m simply making assumptions on current gear level, where it may have come from, and set a few expectations on where they might be in terms of DPS and survivability.

It’s handy, as I said, specifically for situation like this. Because the tank actually says, while on the first boss, “C’mon DPS, wake up, you suck.”

Well, no, actually, considering the comparative levels of their gear, they’re doing pretty damn good. I’m very impressed with what the Shadow Priest is squeezing out of her gear, that’s a player spot on.

But okay, whatever, we’re moving too fast for me to type.

Boom, we get down to the next boss area, we’re flying along, killing, clearing, boss goes down, moving on.

We get to the two large mobs just before the last boss, and one of the players, the Shadow Priest I think, is back a ways. They haven’t caught up to us, and wonder of wonders, the tank didn’t just run ahead and pull without them.

But he DOES take the time to get bitchy in chat.

“Are you coming or what? We don’t have all day, get over here.”

I take the time to reply, “Since we’re sitting here waiting and you’re bored, how about buffing me with Kings, since you never gave anyone Paladin buffs yet?”

Yes, that’s right. A tank too lazy, too rushed or too ‘leet’ to bother buffing the group, not even doing the new standard “I’m too good to give you the buff you want, I’m giving everyone Kings” like you see most of the time these days. 

I get my Kings, and he shuts up.

For now. Oh yes, for now. But there is still one more boss, and this pull will tell me something.

Gear or skill? Care or indifference? Phoning it in or in it to win it?

One pull. We’ll see.

We clear the two mobs, we all line up on the King, and the Paladin runs in to pull.

Here’s the test. How did he pull?

He ran straight forward to the boss and stopped dead right there, boss facing the entrance ramp, and stayed there.

This is the loser way to tank the final boss in Azjol-Nerub.

Whether you want to call it laziness, ignorance, or just-didn’t-give-a-shit, bad tanks run forward on the last boss and stop.

Why?

Pound.

The last boss casts Pound. It has a long cast time, and when it goes off, he casts it in the direction he had originally been facing when he started casting. Well, most of the time. Sometimes he bugs and does whirl around if his main threat target is behind him, as the tank is supposed to be.

Oh, and Pound’s key characteristic is it does a shitload of damage to anyone standing within an area the shape of a cone in front of him. It’s a cone-shaped AoE.

It’s almost enough, sometimes it IS enough, to kill cloth or leather wearing players.

By running forward and stopping right there, the tank is leaving it to everyone else in the party to be aware of the mechanic, and run all the way the long way around the boss to get behind him, and during that time, of course, only instant cast spells and attacks are going off.

And if the other players aren’t aware of the mechanic, then when Pound goes off, guess what? Everyone standing somewhere in front of the damn bug king gets a big facefull of WHAM!

So, the tank ran in. Stood there. Kept the boss facing the ramp.

Not everyone ran around to the sides and back like I did. The Death Knight and Shadow Priest did, the Warlock didn’t.

The Warlock’s health plummeted to about 500, and my existing HoTs quickly pulled him back up.

The Paladin, who had run through the boss to get behind him when Pound started casting, lols in Party chat.

He did it on purpose, the worthless little prick, hoping to kill someone else.

Why? Why would someone do something like that?

The run had been smooth. The enemies all died. Nobody ran crazy. Everyone stayed on target. There was no chaos. My heals prevented sillyness and unnecessary deaths.

So why?

I tell the tank in party chat, “How about pulling the boss to face away from the party.”

He announces that you can’t move the boss after he casts Pound.

Well, he has managed to be technically accurate, while at the same time avoiding the fact I didn’t say shit about moving the boss DURING the Pound, I said move the boss to “face away from the party”.

On the second phase, sure as hell, he does it again, and the Warlock eats it again, and doesn’t die. Again, the “lol noob” rolls off the tanks’ lips.

I’m making sure that if nobody actually gets one shot, nobody dies.

Yes, not even the tank.

Phase three comes around, I’ve whispered the Warlock, and the only person that eats Pound is… the Tank. Who immediately throws a Party chat hissyfit.

Guess what?

He moved through the boss during the Pound cast, and the boss did his sometimes-seen bug and whirled around before it went off, nailing the tank.

Amusingly enough, the Shadow Priest, Warlock and Death Knight had all moved to the side during the cast, and didn’t eat it.

Oh, yeah, I was at the side too. Of course.

What? Hey, of course *I* know about the bug, I blogged about it a year ago. Or something like that. Back when it really hurt to get hit by Pound. Like, in Neolithic times, with the dinosaurs and shit.

The tank is hot. He ran through and got hit by Pound anyway, and that’s not fair.

Now, here is the question I have up to this point.

I’m the only one who has said a word, besides the tank, on the entire run. Not a peep out of anyone else while the tank has acted like an immature child.

Do you think the silence was due to not caring what an idiot thinks, or because they were afraid that if they said anything to show they didn’t appreciate the attitude, the tank would leave and the DPS would have a collapsed run on their hands?

Do YOU adjust your behavior, do you hold your tongue when insulted or ridiculed, so you don’t piss off your tank and maybe have him leave you in a fit of childish rage?

While you think of that, I’ll wrap the run up with a fun moment.

When the boss falls, the tank first rolls the Recount log of Damage done through Party chat, and then says, “God you all suck, I’ve got top DPS and I’m the tank.”

I immediately reply, having been primed for this bit of asshattery since the first boss, “You are a Paladin tank with a 5600 GS. The rest of the DPS has nowhere even close to your gear level, so what is your point?”

At the same time, the Death Knight says, “Well, if I was on my other character my DPS would be a little different, lol.”

The tank replies, “Well, the Warlock has 4K.”

To which I reply, “You are a complete moron. A MORON. Goodbye!”

/leave group.

The Warlock has 4K? This is your answer for being a dick about being a tank with the highest DPS? And a Paladin tank as well?

“Oooh, I only outgear you by 1600 gear score, how come I’m top DPS, you must all suck.”

Damnit, there are days, as I said in guild chat, where I just want to bitchslap the world.

Or, in this case, I’d like every tank with this kind of attitude to line up single file, perform a left face, and I’ll freaking ride down the line on a Harley doing 70 with my hand outstretched, to SLAP THEM ALL!!!

Do you do it? Do you eat your feelings and allow yourself to suffer indignities in silence just for the sake of not bruising a sensitive tanks’ ego, challenging his asshattedness, so that you get your run finished?

I now return you to your informative MMO Champion/Blues Tracker game announcements, still in progress.

A PUG Raiding Retrospective

Last night I decided to give PUG raids a chance once again, and on a whim volunteered for a VoA 25 run.

Let’s just say that, while I have seen the 2nd and 3rd bosses before, I haven’t done VoA since they added the Ice boss, and I’d only done the Fire and Lightning a few times. Possibly not even on my main, either.

In fact, thinking back on it, I think I’ve only done the Fire boss twice before; once on my Paladin on Horde side with the Zug Initiative, and once on my Hunter on Alliance in a PUG, winning some nice PvP boots that I’m still wearing.

I had studied before, and knew the tactics for all the bosses except Ice. I’d never intended to do VoA again, so I hadn’t bothered studying that one. Oh why look, an unprepared Bear. /win

I went as a Tree, and not only did I get to heal, I even bullied poor Dechion to come with me to heal as well. Misery loves company, and if I’m going to screw up, best to have witnesses, right?

It’s more fun that way.

Since I hadn’t studied in advance, a hurried query in guild chat followed as we ran in. “Hey, Occulus… wtf do we do on the Ice boss, dude?”

We were then given the following advice;

“Stay away from the Orbs.”
“Heal the tanks.”

Ooookay. We can do that. I think. Thanks for the tip.

It was a lot of fun. It did take a while to get the group together, people kept dropping in and out, and as far as I can see it was because people felt that the group was not forming fast enough to suit them. Which, let me tell you, when you drop group because you’re missing two people out of 25 after 3 minutes, it sure does speed up getting the group formed. Idiots.

We got the group full up, summoned or teleported in, marked the two main tanks (I love that, I really do), buffed up and ran to do the new boss first.

All things considered, it went very well, although I quickly saw what Occulus meant about watching the Orbs. The damn things spawn and swirl all over the place, and if they touch you it hurts. I have no idea if they had to be DPSed down or if they despawn on their own after a set time, because nobody… NOBODY mentioned doing any particular strategy at any time, for any boss. If you didn’t know how to do things going in, there was zero guidance along the way.

So, all I really know is, Orbs spawned and did lots of group damage that we healed through, and then vanished after a while. It’s kinda hectic in a 25, and I just don’t know without researching if they despawned on their own or not. 

After that boss fell, one person instantly left group. Guess he only wanted a piece of loot from the Ice boss, and had no interest in sticking around to like, I dunno, finish the run. That’s one to feed to the ignore list, and thank you very much.

We then continued on to Archavon, short 1, cleared that and went back and did Lightning. Lost another player after Lightning, a healer, and did the Fire boss with 23.

It amazes me how many people dinged boss kill Achievements all the way, even on Archavon, and yet there were no wipes, and no discussion about tactics at all.

I’ll admit, I was healing with all the skill I was capable of, and a lot of people getting stuck in Lightning Ring and in Fire and stuff got very low in health before we brought them back up, but we never wiped, and had very few actual deaths. I think we had four healers, and Dechion and I were two of them, so that always feels good.

Cassie walked in towards the end of the run, and of course almost everything that dropped was Paladin plate, so she was crying a little inside for her Pally.

That led us to talk a little bit about this whole raiding thing, and PUGging versus guild runs, and how things are now compared to how they used to be.

I think I’ve been pretty clear in the past year or so that I ain’t a regular PUG kinda person. Unlike most people I know, I haven’t done PUG raids as a regular thing in a long, long time. Not real raids. I have tried to do the weekly Raid boss on my Druid, when I think of it though.

When Cassie and I talk about raiding, and doing them as PUGs, the conversation usually turns to the last time we actually enjoyed PUGging a raid.

Karazhan.

That’s right. Karazhan.

There was this beautiful window of time where a lot of people had leveled and geared from Heroics, gotten some decent Badge gear, but the last load of uber-leet Badge gear costing beeellions and beeellions of Badges had NOT been released yet on the Isle of Pretentious Blood Elves.

It felt like a magical time.

We’d left our big guild that wanted to do serious raids, and there was just the two of us on our own, with our alt guild nametag over our heads. Karazhan was the only 10 person Raid in the game, and it was very, very long with tons of bosses. There was lots in there to do.

Karazhan was the stopping place for many casual guilds that wanted to raid, but didn’t want to merge into large guilds and deal with potential drama just to hit 25s. If you wanted to raid and didn’t have 25 people to field, Karazhan was the place.

For Cassie and I, it really was a magical time to PUG. We both loved the length of Kara, we loved the way the fights required people at our gear level to use all our abilities and to CC and move and play well and use tactics in order to succeed. It was lots of fun to be with a group of other people all at our same level, because raiders never went back to Kara.

We were also very fortunate that, most of the time, when someone was advertising that they needed a few more for Kara, they were really great people that just happened to be short one or two guildies at that moment, like Essence of Grandeur.

We got to join PUG raids as a couple, and do really interesting and challenging content at the time, with what were in effect entire guilds of skilled people. Not really a true PUG at all, when you think of it.

Looking back, it’s really a shame how things turned out.

When the uber-leet Badge loot was released, suddenly all the raiders wanted fast Badges again, and lots of them. So Karazhan got swamped by people that had insane levels of 25 man raider gear, raiders that wanted to run Karazhan, and who were in guilds that weren’t going to organize Kara in the middle of their progressive raiding schedule.

These people were in a rush to get done because they weren’t there for fun or to see the place or enjoy being with friends. They didn’t want loot from there. They just wanted Badges, and they didn’t respect the level of content OR the other people who were in there at the appropriate level.

These people also wanted to gear their alts up to join their raiding guilds, their raiding guilds weren’t organizing lower-level raids, and so they raided on their mains, and pugged Kara to gear up from the uber-leet Badge gear. And they broght with them their high end raider attitude.

Welcome to brute forcing content, speed pulls or nothing, trash talking, and e-peen waving. And of trying to brute force content on undergeared alts.

It really did ruin that as a raid for both of us, at least for the brief period before Wrath was released. And with Wrath, the whole game changed.

I personally thought that adding both 10 and 25 person versions of all raids would make everything all better. The raiders could move on, and never want to go flood the lower level raids again. The days of e-peen waving leet raiders PUGging with strangers and being asshats were over. Why PUG when you can run with your guild in all these actual raids?

What I didn’t anticipate was the Badge/Emblem system going live with such highly desired rewards, and there being small raids like Sarth and VoA that would be so conducive to PUG farming for quick Emblems.

The model we have is still what we had at the end of Burning Crusade. High end content for raiders to focus on in their official guild scheduling, and lower end content that provides Emblems for gear that high-end raiders will still want, and that will drive them to try and PUG the “lower” difficulty content to farm Emblems fast with their OP uber-leet gear.

Raiders are not encouraged to move on to one level of content, one level of challenge, push forward together with their guild, and stay there.

With Frost Emblems from both daily Heroics and from the Weekly raid boss from lower level raids, and with Triumph Emblem gear being so good to fill in spots like Trinkets and Rings, raiders in their uber-leet gear are encouraged to go, and I hate to phrase it this way but that’s how a lot of these people act, “slumming” in the lower level content. To run content they vastly overpower, content they don’t want any gear from, and content their guild has no interest in running together as a group.

So the raiders are still encouraged by the system to PUG with strangers.

And the raiders, ever and again, seem to act like they feel that they’re running content that is beneath them, with strangers that are beneath them, and they want to get done and get out as fast as they can with their Emblems.

I will say that the only thing about the entire situation I mind, what really bothers me, is simply how it brings up-and-coming players trying to do content at the appropriate level, trying to learn how to play and learn how to deal with different mechanics, face to face with people that are vastly overgeared, have no respect for them, and teach them nothing but bad habits and how to brute force content, and who actively discourage any other way of doing things because it would take too much of the raider’s precious time to even discuss.

I am thinking about it a lot, but aside from bitching, pissing and moaning about it, I really don’t see a viable solution. Cataclysm is coming, and Blizzard really wants more players to have the opportunity to see Icecrown Citadel before it turns into what vanilla Naxx 25 did; a place that only a handful of folks got to see before an expansion made it obsolete.

Without a method that is easily understood for gathering gear upgrades that leap you past older, time consuming content, or increase how many upgrades you can get over a limited span of time, players starting now would never have a chance.

I’ve got that Marine Corps mentality that says, before you bitch about the way things are, you better have taken the time to come up with your own idea on how things could be better. If you can’t, then shut the hell up.

I have some ideas, but frankly, I don’t know if they’d fix anything without making the overall fun of the game suffer.

Where I’d lean most, is to cut off the power of Emblem gear and drops a few ranks below the top progression content. Spread out the difficulty of the progression content (and the rewards provided) so you really do have to master the one below before moving onwards and upwards.

Instead of leaving people to have to bring alts up through older content that your current progression guild doesn’t run, one solution to that would be to have drops at your current content level be Bind on Account, so that if you as a player are already playing at one level of content, you could gear up your other toons as well from that level without going backward. That way, no matter what the drop, somebody is going to want it.

And finally, when there is Emblem gear to bring players ahead past old content, release one entire range of items, one for every slot, so that people are able to get geared and not feel they have to pug in lower levels raids to fill the same three slots every other player wants as well, and fight over those handful of drops while all the armor gets sharded.  

The problem is, even with doing something like that, trying to make levels of progression feel more significant on their own and remove the urge of high end progression raiders from running with people in places they don’t want to be, it still doesn’t take into account the desire on the part of players in 10 person guilds from wanting to PUG to get their hands on 25 person content gear to make their 10 man runs easier. 

See, that’s the hard thing about trying to second guess where things are now. Where we’re at now works. There may be issues with it, but it works. Would a change cause more problems than they’d fix?

Blizzard is very smart. Cataclysm is coming, and they watch all this stuff just like we do. They play as well, and I have to imagine they’re not all high end progression raiders in tight guilds, oblivious to the feel of the game and the effects of all these Emblems and PUGs on players. 

Who knows what kind of flowcharts and graphs they have of player expectations and feedback, what Six Sigma analysis they may have made on the situation and it’s core variables, and what decisions they may have planned for addressing things without breaking them?

What I do know is that I was able to raid last night in a PUG and succeed, and there was loot handed out, and Emblems that were won, and there were many other raids going on as PUGs at the same time. There are PUGs at all levels, from ICC to Ulduar to Naxx and even to Sunwell and the Black Temple. If you want to run something, at any content level, there is an opportunity available. You may need to run a ton of Heroics to prepare, but the opportunity to see content at all levels is there just the same. And that’s the single biggest complaint people had coming out of Burning Crusade.

For me, though, it also doesn’t change the fact that even though those PUGs are there, and available, and can be fun to run, the attitude among a lot of players is still there as well. That they want something from lower level content to gear at the highest levels, and they act as though they are somehow lowering themselves, slumming, in order to get it.

Hmm. I feel like I should be standing on my lawn, waving a fist and screaming at some kids.

LFD: It’s making me a people watcher

Just a heads up. Total Bearwall incoming. Rambling, lengthy post. There is WoW stuff in there, though, I swear! But I’m proud to say that I manage to ramble on for over 4000 words… just for fun. Classic Bearwall action. I know it’s been a while!

People watchers.

I’ve never been that person before.

You know who I mean. People that tell you that they enjoy going to a high traffic area, getting comfortable, settling in, and spending time watching the diversity of folks go by.

The “local color”.

“OMG, did you see that woman with the purple snakeskin capri pants and pink flip flops with the plastic flowers? Wow, who leaves the house looking like that? There’s a trailer park in need of a tornado somewhere.”

Well, I’ve finally found my own version of this. And you are my enablers.

I think I’m starting to play WoW less for the fun of the game, and more for the people watching. 

Don’t mistake me, I still love the game.

But everytime I queue up in LFD, I feel it.

The fascination, the burning desire, the ever-present curiosity…

What incredible jaw-dropping shit is going to happen next? 

It’s people watching – but I swear, it’s even better, because normally you see people in a crowd, and they’ve got their “People are watching me” masks on. They put on some makeup, did their hair, brushed their mullet, and put on their very bestest spandex stretch pants before going to the mall food court.

In WoW LFD, you get the “John Gabriel” factor at play, where everyone is free to be themself. Totally anonymous, especially if they are in a PUG with 4 strangers, all of whom are from different servers than your own, and you’ve got no guildies with you.

Tell me that idea doesn’t make your skin tingle with the desire to plot out social experiments. 

People being themselves, without even the most minimal concern for internet consequences.

All hell can, and sometimes does, break loose.

Disclaimer, and the positive thought for the day;

The amazing thing ain’t that people act like asshats when cloaked in anonymity. The amazing thing is how few people you may run into, out of the vast playerbase, who actually DO act like asshats.

The majority of players you are likely to meet are kind, decent, or at the very least quiet, friendly players. They just want to play the game, have some fun, get some loot, and get on with their lives with the minimum drama and fuss.

Let’s all try and remember that. I may tell stories about amazing stuff that happens, but really, the whole reason it’s entertaining to read those stories is that those are the exceptions, not the normal state of affairs. 

The reason I mostly tell these stories isn’t to demonize people, as much as it is to follow in a grand sea service tradition that does extend to the Marines…

“This is a real no shitter.”

I love sharing these stories. It’s fun.

There is always something amazing waiting, just around the bend. Good, bad or just freaking weird, you never know what’s lying in wait right around the next corner.

Last night I ran two Normal Pit of Saron runs, back to back, in the hopes of getting the mail Spellpower helm off the first boss. I’d really like that hat. Mine is horribad.

These two runs damn near blew my mind. I queued up for a third just on the off chance I could score the hat trick, because this stuff is pure popcorn entertainment. Or as Kiri said in guild chat last night, “I don’t even know what to say to that”.

The first run as a Shaman Healer I’ve got a Death Knight tank, Cassie is with me on her Retribution Paladin, there is a second Ret Paladin on the run, and we’ve got a Mage.

This is Normal Pit of Saron. My expectations are fairly reasonable. A group of people trying, gearing, and learning. Maybe altastic runs, maybe brand new fresh dings.

What I find is, I’ve got an entire crew that’s good… except the tank.

The Death Knight pays absolutely no attention to anyone else in the group, where they are, what they’re doing or, and this is really the point… what mobs may be on them.

He just doesn’t look behind or pay any attention to anyone else but himself and what’s directly in front of him.

He never pops Death and Decay until about the last three seconds of whatever fight he’s on, treating it kind of as an additional DPS technique rather than an AoE threat generating tool.

He was in Frost Presence. I checked. Early on. Trust me, I had to know.

Right from the very start, on the first pull, it began.

The Death Knight avoided the large stationary group at the base leading to the right, jumping down near the water and running up to the single giant Skeleton to engage.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are even remotely familiar with Pit of Saron, what can you expect?

That the second large group of Summoner and Skeletons, that pats right along there, will roll on up behind you and engage from the rear if you take too long on the Giant Skeleton, or if people hang back too far if the tank grabs the Giant Skeleton and pulls him down and away from the pat area, etc.

So the tank engages the Giant Skeleton right where he is, doesn’t go further. I run forward so I’m at least past the tank and his mob, so I can look back and watch for the pat as I heal. I don’t like being taken from the rear. Read into that whatever you’d like.

The Mage moves a little forward, but not as far as me.

I see the large pat rolling on up. I announce in party chat, “Large pat incoming from the rear”.

The Giant Skeleton drops, the pat takes the Mage from behind, we’re all getting engaged on the group… and the tank takes no notice and runs on ahead, hopping down and grabbing the next two Giant Skeletons. 

This, my friends, is when you perk up, pay attention, and find out if you really have practised your “Oh shit” buttons.

Cassie and the other Ret Pally basically tank the group while the Mage AoEs and I spam heal everyone through it. No real problem after all, group dies, we move forward, and finish off the mobs the Death Knight was on.

Now, you might think that the Death Knight, getting no heals from me while he’s beating on something, might say something. Acknowledge a bit of a scurry there. Whine about health. “Whoops”. Anything.

Nope. Oblivious.

That typified the rest of the run. Death Knight tank that paid absolutely no attention to what anyone else might be doing. And the group tried to adapt.

I wasn’t angry, worked up, or sputtering as the run unfolded. It was Normal Pit of Saron, and I never really felt overtaxed on Healing the rest of the group. It was just, well, amazing. And fascinating. Just how oblivious might this person really be? Is this for real?

See, the thing is, the tank is acting like every other tank you see these days. Full steam ahead, chain pull, fast clear, go go go. The difference is that other tanks that do this at least bother tagging the mobs to establish aggro, and grab the ones that slip on by from over eager DPS. They Taunt. They are aware that there is something that NEEDS to be Taunted.

They at least, bottom of the barrel, wonder why the Healer’s health is dropping… dropping… dropping….

Heheh, on every non-single mob pull, I waited until the tank pulled and whacked for a while, and then when I finally did drop a heal, I still got a faceful of mobs that never got a single tag. 

Ya know, Death and Decay, Blood Boil and all those plague and chill thingies… boy, I thought those spread stuff around. Silly me.

I spent a lot of time with mobs in my face… and on my butt, since the tank never paused once the ones he was fighting were dead, so he’d take off while there were still one or two on me, dazing me, and Cassie and the other Paladin would kinda brush them off me and step on ’em. Then we’d catch back up to wherever the tank had gotten to. Tank? No clue we’re still fighting back there. No clue I’m getting eaten.

My first actual “cluestick” smackdown rebuttal happened after Krick and Ick died.

The tank lined up on the ramp with the Flame AoE dudes, and I just knew… KNEW what was coming.

And so did everyone else. You could see them kinda… huddle up. I had my own defensive linemen, I swear.

The tank charges in. So does everyone else. I dart forward with them and drop Totem. I wait. AoE kicks in and people start dropping. I cast my first Chain Heal, and here most of them come. Right in my face. The big lady in the middle that does those tasty (I mean ouchie) Shadowbolts?

Yep, all of them cast on me. Boom boom boom.

Yep, I’ve got aggro. From most of ’em.

Everyone else is working at killing the mobs in that first group, the ones that stay there. One of the teleporting flame AoE dudes is on me like stink on a skunk, teleported right on top of me and going whoomp, whoomp, whoomp.

As I’m chain healing, casting like a fiend, flipping the mobs the bird ’cause we got this and everyone else is coming down to finish them off… I see the tank, all alone, run up to grab the next group.

Yep, no pause, no break, no indication there was a thought in his mind that we might be trying to finish this last guy down here pounding the healer to hell before going up top to grab the next group.

Love that AoE flame, thanks!

He just runs on ahead, far out of range of my heals BTW, and grabs the next group.

We stay where we are, finish off our flame dude, and run on up the hill.

His health is going down, he’s at half before I get there.

I’ve got plenty of time to respond.

I let his ass die. Cold and hard.

I watch as his health continues to drop and then poof! Dead.

I didn’t lift a finger to help him.

Cassie, the other Ret Paladin and the Mage meanwhile are engaging the group.

I heal them through it, without a single problem.

We kill that second group, from start to finish, with two Ret Paladins, a Mage and me, no actual tank at all. And it was EZ mode.

I’ve made the tank see, lying there dead in the dirt, that if he really wants to play games, well, we can move on. It’s okay. We don’t actually have to follow him to certain death. He does not automatically get to pull us all down into death with him.

After the group is dead, I rez him. Nobody says a word. At least, not until the tank says, “Wow, sorry guys.”

Do I think he might have learned to pay a little bit more attention?

Did I at least enjoy seeing him eat a repair bill?

Yes, I did. And I was curious to see if he’d realise what had happened, and if so, if he’d get pissy and leave the run.

Nope, no clue.

But it should get better now, right?

HAH!

The tunnel. The ice. The mobs.

What are the rules?

You know the rules of Tunnel Club.

  1. Nobody attacks but the tank.
  2. Nobody heals anybody unless the tank absolutely no shit needs it. If someone dies, we come back later when the tunnel shuts down and rez them. 
  3. Nobody talks about Tunnel Club. Oh, wait.

Wow. Hard.

So, first time up the tunnel, tank makes a mad dash for the center metal circle.

Yeah, the first time. That’s an artistic writing technique called foreshadowing. See what I did there?

He’s below half health by the time we get there, but I’ve held off, and nobody else did DPS. At the metal circle, the DPS begins to burn them down, and I cast some heals.

The last mobs aren’t even dead yet, the Mage has aggro on a couple the DK hasn’t grabbed, more adds are streaming down the tunnel towards us aggroed on ME ignoring the tank… and the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the run, hell bent for leather.

He doesn’t grab anything as he runs past.

Edit addition: I realise, on re-reading this massive bearwall, that I was unclear here about what was going on during this first run in the tunnel. The DK took off from the metal circle while there were still mobs, many of them on me… and like in all normal groups, even though I had aggro from stuff hitting me, we all as a group took off after him and tried to keep up. The DK enver paused or slowed down to see how the rest of us were doing. Not once. He just ran straight to the end and waited, and the rest of us tried like hell to keep up.

Meanwhile, I’m getting hit. I’m having to cast heals on myself to stay alive. This is adding to healer aggro, making me even more tasty to every new mob the tank is running past, who are all ignoring him to come get me. And the Mage is trying like hell to get them off of me, so he’s getting pounded right beside me as we run, we’re both dazed and falling behind, and next thing you know I’m chain healing the Mage and myself, we get overwhelmed, and die, just as we reach the end of the tunnel. 

The rest of the group, without heals, and swarmed by all the mobs that had been on me, go down shortly thereafter.

Ever notice you don’t have time to slow down and do it right, but there’s always time to run back in and do it over?

Now, there are no recriminations. No harsh words. But also no encouragement. Just a grim determination to keep going.

But not from everyone.

We lose the Mage. He drops group, and we get a new Mage.

We square off at the tunnel, and I say to Cassie on vent, “Let’s just do our thing, and I’ll keep us alive”.

We take off exactly the same as before.

Everything happens exactly the same as it did last time.

With one major difference.

As the Death Knight takes off for the second half of the tunnel run, I stand my ground on the metal circle. I’ve got my totems out, the mobs that the DK ignored are still on me, the ones running down the tunnel towards us past the DK come on down to us, and Cassie stands her ground beside me.

And so does the other Paladin, and even the new Mage.

Death Knight? Runs on up and out of range. Bye? Bye!

We stand our ground, and I heal the group as everyone else kills the adds.

And kills the adds.

Eventually, we run out of adds to kill. They just stop coming.

Eventually, the DK comes down and rejoins us. Bringing the two adds from the tunnel mouth. And a few spawned mini-skellies.

The last two mobs of the tunnel and a few scrubs. Those were the only things he kept aggro on himself.

We killed the few mobs he brought down with him to the metal circle… and the avalanche and spawned adds instantly stopped.

We actually completed the tunnel run, and cleared it, and shut down the snowstorm blue circle of knockback add generation idiocy AT THE METAL CIRCLE.

I didn’t even know you could do that.

We calmly walked up the rest of the way, and as you can imagine, healing the group through the last boss wasn’t even an issue.

That… that kind of run is so amazing to be a part of, it’s hard to describe. You know in your hearth that, if it were on Heroic, it would be a run of frustration, of anger, of pain, of guilt when people died, of abandoned group and just a terrible experience.

But, on Normal… it was kinda fun. Horrifying in it’s implications for any poor group that gets him for a tank in the future, but fun at that time, in that place.

And I’ll be honest. Letting him die, all alone, and THEN stepping in and killing that group on the ramp? That felt epic even as we were doing it.

Homeric, even. :)

You’d think that would be enough for a post, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that enough of an evening to retell?

Oh, hell no. There’s more.

But I’ll be quick about it. I swear. 

The second run was smooth sailing. A rare pleasure to heal. Excitement at times, fun challenges, but a solid team working with you.

A Paladin tank, a feral kitty Druid, a DPS Death Knight dual wielding one-handers and a Combat Rogue.

Everyone else on the run, aside from the Death Knight, was in pretty new gear. Tank, Rogue, Druid, mostly blues.

That sets it as a challenging run.

The difference? Skill. They did a good job.

I’d like to be clear about this; I have rarely, if ever, seen a better job of tanking in Pit of Saron. That Paladin tank locked down every single mob, positioned himself perfectly for each pull, manuevered where appropriate, stood still where not for the melee DPS.

So, what’s the problem? What made this run unusual?

Well, here’s the deal.

So Forgemaster Garfrost drops Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer. I am at work on my lunch and can’t link to WoWhead, I’ll do it when I get home, but the hammer is a two handed mace with tons of Strength, Stamina, Crit, and a red socket.

Both the Death Knight and the feral Druid roll Need.

The Death Knight gets a 9, the Druid gets a 92 and wins.

The DK immediately throws an epic level hissycow.

First, he’s rude and pissed the Druid rolled at all. When the Druid replies, polite as all heck, saying that’s it’s a big upgrade for him, the DK starts telling the Druid that Druids don’t want Str, it’s useless to a Druid, Druids should only ever roll on Agi items.

I inspected the Druid. He had a blue quality mace, not bad, but a long, long, LONG way away from Garfrost’s Two-Ton Hammer in terms of kitty DPS. Not to mention, dump a +20 red Agi gem in it, it’s not bad for Bear tanking. Not optimal of course, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. It’s got lots of Stamina on it, and a socket for added Stam or avoidance. What more do you really want when you’re alternative is a blue mace with no sockets, huh?

The DK won’t let it go. He bitches, pisses, moans, whines, tells everyone and anyone in the run how the Druid should never have taken it, it’s no good for him at all, Druids should never take Str, it’s worthless, and on and on and on.

I pipe up, just to say “I’m sorry, but that’s not correct. Feral Druids get Attack Power in both Bear and Cat from Strength. It’s far from useless.”

The DK wheels on me. He apparently feels the need to spank this upstart down and put him in his place so he can keep working on the Druid.

“My main is a Druid” he informs us.

I answer that my main is a Druid too.

He tells us “My main is a tank. You can check with Elitist Jerks that I’m right.”

Then he adds, in a second line, “If you’re a Druid, I bet you’re resto.”

Yes. Yes, he did.

Oh, hell yes he did.

Cherish that mental image with me for a few moments. I’m sitting there, with a lot of folks that happen to play Feral Druids that come visit me regularly on a website, and yeah, I don’t raid, but I have been known to occasionally research a few things here or there. Granted I haven’t visited the EJ website in months, but that’s okay. I do my own research, and when I’m wrong, you guys catch me. I’ve just been told that if I do play a Druid, it must be as Resto. The implication, of course, being that I’m completely ignorant about Bear tanking or feral Druiding. I know things can change, but last I heard Str still coughs up some AP in bear and cat both. Cataclysm ain’t live yet, is it?

As Emilio Estevez said in Young Guns, “Hey! I’ll make you famous!”

And for much the same reason.

But no, this is a fun post, not a name and shame post.

Still, how delicious!

Now, having put me in my place, he continues haranging the Druid.

The Druid finally says, “Ug, here.”

I stop dead. Remember, we’re still playing. This entire conversation is happening while we are playing, killing the mobs after Garfrost. We’re at this point killing the last couple parts is parts draggy mobs before killing Krick and Ick.

I say, “Please tell me you did NOT just give the DK the staff.”

The DK says, “It’s not a staff, it’s a mace, bro.”

To which, all I can possibly reply is, “What possible different does that make, “bro”.”

He did. The Druid actually gave in to pressure, and traded the damn mace to the whining DK.

The Druid asked him to equip it. The DK answers, “I happen to be dual wield specced at the moment.”

/facepalm

The Druid turned over a massive, huge honking upgrade he could have used immediately to someone who isn’t even ready to use it until he juggles a bunch of other stuff. And to someone who lost the damn roll fair and square!

I was appalled. What a complete asshat. Making someone else feel like shit for daring to want an upgrade that was actually perfectly viable for him and try to guilt him into trading it back.

Nevermind that he succeeded, just to do that to another player in the first place.

As I said, the run itself went smooth as can be. Great tanking, good DPS, easy healing. No worries. Just fun challenges.

In Ick and Krick, the Druid and the Rogue each were Pursued; each were one shot. New players to the fight maybe, nobody thought to mention mechanics. They’d done so well up until then.

Both of them went down very early on, when the boss was still at about 75% health. Between the tank, the Death Knight and myself, we had zero problems completing the boss smooth as silk. It wasn’t a panic… it was a fun challenge. Everyone ended at full health, no issues, and I still had good mana from potions and Totem juggling and Mana Tide and stuff.

But at the end, I made a point of saying that I really enjoyed the run, had a great time with everyone, and would love to run with them again, great tanking, solid playing… except the DK. I told him he was now on my ignore list, and I hoped to never see him again.

He can take that and think what he wants about it. His behavior just blew my mind.

I did whisper the Druid and mention a link to my website, if he’s ever interested in some starter info on getting ready for Bear tanking. He’d mentioned in chat that he wanted to get geared up to do some, and what the heck, some of the stuff I have on the sidebar might be helpful. You never know.

Hopefully, he’ll not only look forward to Bear tanking, but also learn more about the mechanics of the Druid, to feel a little more confident in asserting his right to roll on gear that is perfectly appropriate to his chosen specs and stated goals.

Maybe next time, he’ll be prepared to tell a player unhappy with a roll that he’s sorry the player isn’t happy, but yes, it is a very viable weapon, and he’s grateful to have won the roll, and fully intends to use it.

Seriously. These runs, seeing this side of people, the often good, the rarely bad, and the frequently damn strange… it’s addictive. It really is. You never know what’s going to happen next.

Keeps me on my toes. :)

Shabby PUGs I can stand, but exploits really makes my ass drag!

Name where I got that (slightly changed) quote from that I used as a title, and get a Big Bear shout out… because if you recognise where it came from after I tweaked it a little, you’re definitely my kind of movie fan.

Yes, that’s a hint. The original line is from a movie. Here’s a second hint; it’s one of my favorite films of all time.

Now, on to the show!

A few nights ago I finally achieved my mini-goal of hitting 375 Enchanting on my Shaman, and so I no longer had any excuse not to play her.

I queued up once again as a Healer Shaman, and away I went into LFD.

All I wanted was a quick romp in the Heroic sack with some random PUG I picked up in a bar, but, as Ford Fairlane might have said, “I got the bonus plan.”

I got Drak’theron Keep, and in looking at the group composition (as I always do for Totem adjustment) I saw that three of the others in the group were all from the same guild. A Paladin, a Shaman, and a Shadow Priest.

Now, the first thing I did was laugh, and I mean really laugh at the name of this guild.

Get this; Prophet of Cthulhu.

Why did that get me chuckling? For the answer to that, may I refer you to this ancient post of mine, from May of 2008, wherin I plug John Ringo books, throw down the hate on Transformers, laugh about things that lots of people probably take very seriously, get insanely cranky… and way down at the bottom relate a true story concerning myself, some very serious true believers, and the great old ones of Lovecraftian lore.

Okay, so I’m laughing with the guild name of these three, and off we go.

First thing I do, as I said, is see that one of the three, Lardzilla, is a Enhancement Shaman, and I’m examining what Totems he’s dropping in the first coupe fights so I can set mine not to overlap. I also check to see what the Paladin did for buffs, all the things a Shaman has to do to make sure you drop the right Totems. And of course, I get my Tremor Totem set for later, when the fear, she be a flowing.

This causes me to lag a little behind, but I do my best to keep the heals flowing.

Then we get to some lizards, and I’ve got max skinning and seem to be the only skinner, so again, I’m lagging behind a little trying to get some skinning in.

All in all, I’m doing my best, but I’m certainly not feeling like I’m giving off the impression to the others of being bright-eyed, bushy tailed, and poised to let the heals flow.

We blow through the instance, everything is pretty nice, a few times the Paladin scoops up groups that are a bit larger than I’d certainly like, but some frantic healing and Nature’s Swiftness keep everything just fine.

We hit the end boss, finish him off, and I win the epic Mail healing bracers. Score!

I also ding the 25 Emblem achievement. :)

I thank the group for the run, and make the comment in passing that it does get hard gearing up a new alt all over again.

The Paladin, of all people, comments that he knows the feeling from his Druid.

I mention that at least I’ve got an idea about healing and some good toolslike Vuh’do thanks to my other healer, a Tree Druid, and the Paladin says he hates Vuh’do on his Tree Druid, he prefers Lifebloomer instead, an addon I’m not even sure I’ve heard of before.

Next thing I know, the Paladin says, “Hey, when did you ding?”

I tell him I just turned 80 on Saturday, and it’s been a lot of fun.

Next thing I see, he’s queued the four of us up for heroic Forge of Souls, and says, “Here, let’s get you some gear.”

Well… okay, this is an unprecedented level of niceness from three folks that I haven’t seen before. My healing sure as heck didn’t warrant this behavior.

What does that leave?

It couldn’t possibly be… nice people?

Hmmm.

The Paladin queues us up, and it won’t let him. Why? Because despite my efforts, I still don’t have the gear necessary to let me in.

So the Paladin laughs and queues us up for regular Forge of Souls, and away we go!

We did Forge of Souls, and Pit of Saron, back to back, and they were willing and ready to go do Halls of Reflection, if I hadn’t had to go get Alex ready for bed.

And a nicer bunch of people I haven’t seen in a PUG in a long, long time.

Knowing the fights, the enemy tactics, and the boss encounters from both a Paladin tank and Healer point of view helped immensely in making sure I was proactive in my healing rather than reacting in a panic.

And being familiar with Vuh’do and having studied my spells also helped a ton.

But mostly, I had a very well geared tank and a very powerful group of DPS that killed things before they had a chance to hurt anyone too much. :)

Earlier I mentioned an exploit. Mostly, I brought it up just to be able to use that movie quote in the title. :)

We did use an exploit I had never heard of before, in Pit of Saron, but it didn’t actually make my ass drag. OR make my butt slump.

What happened was, as soon as Ick and Krick were dead, the Paladin said, “Everyone mount up, we’re going to do the exploit.”

I had no idea what he meant, but I know what a mount is. I’m kinda crafty that way. I can haz hoofs!

Loot was taken, but even before the dialogue was over and Krick was dead, we were mounted up… and heading up the ramp.

We reached the top of the ramp just as the two shadowcasters appeared to head down, and they ignored us as we kept on going to the other side and stopped on that first landing halfway towards the tunnel, where it takes a dogleg 90° to the right. The two groups on the ramp spawned after those two reached their positions… and ignored us, safe at the top landing.

We only had the two groups of icicle guys and their minions to deal with before the tunnel.

I don’t mind the ramp, but I’ll admit, I wasn’t crying a river of alligator tears about avoiding that particular fight when I don’t know everyone I was with, and my healing power is a might on the low side just yet.

Anyway, we blasted through the whole thing, I was very careful of my healing during Overlord Brands, and I got the nice Mail healing chest piece, and of course emblems and stuff.

More than that, we chatted a bit during the run, and I really was amazed at how you can sometimes just bump into the nicest people.

Things like this really serve to highlight one lack which I wish Blizzard could remedy.

We already have an ignore list that works cross-server, and if you put somebody from another server on it, it prevents you from being queued with that person in a random again in the future.

That’s all well and good.

What I wish is that there was a cross-server friends list, where if you find yourself grouped with some really nice folks, you could exchange friends lists.

You put them on your list, they put you on theirs, and if the random generator sees two people who BOTH are on each other’s friends list, it matches them up together by preference, if possible.

Just a thought. It’s nice that we can prevent future occurances of playing with the same asshats, but I’d love it if we could increase the chance that we would play with great folks we’ve had fun with again.

So, to Khaotix, Karalov, and Lardzilla of Prophet of Cthulhu, thank you very much for being really nice people, and great players, and for being kind to a complete stranger in a pug.

Bravo. You all rock.