Archive for the “Recap” Category

Hi folks! Today we’re going to talk about raiding.

No, you’re not confused. Get back here! This IS the Big Bear Butt, I’m just gonna talk about raiding.

No, really. Stop laughing, damnit, I’m serious.

Last night I joined an ‘alt run’ raid in Band of Misfits – Azuremyst with my quickly rising Hunter, Beartrap.

Since I write a blog, surprise surprise, you get to read about it the day after. Hopefully, this will be more entertaining and informative than a “look at me, I raided, see my loots’ style thing.

Hopefully. I make no promises.

The alt run was done in fine Band of Misfits fashion, as in, everyone but me seemed to be drinking heavily before we even started. At least the ones on vent were. Okay, the raid leader was, and the rest didn’t seem far behind.  

We started out by going to Bastion of Twilight. My first Cataclysm raid experience began with me asking, “Hey, where the hell IS Bastion of Twilight, anyway?”

Go figure, it’s in Twilight Highlands, on a platform waaaay up in the sky over that mountain all the Twilight Cultist goons hang out at.

Now, how am I supposed to be expected to know that a Twilight raid entrance was in the Twilight zone at the Twilight mountains over the Twilight Cultist hangouts? I mean seriously, who would have thought to look there? Cut me some slack.

We entered as a brave ten person group, and I proudly brought AnnCoulter the Devilsaur to display my Beast Master heritage for all and sundry. If you’re gonna piss someone off, I figure I might as well get it out of the way before we get too far in.

Surprisingly enough, nobody said anything about it. Perhaps the drinking had gone far enough that they couldn’t tell what that thing was I had with me?

We smashed our way quickly to this big platform open to the sky, and with joy I saw that there were lots and lots of internet dragons. And whelps! Oh my, this was gonna be fun.

I hurriedly checked on the most important part of my rotation… yep, my Misdirect macro was ready to go, all I had to do was add in the name of the healer and set it next to my Multi-Shot and I was all set for a Whelp fight.

Hey, you prepare your way, I’ll prepare mine.

This boss encounter turned out to be what you experienced types call Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

I’d like to tell you how I did in this one, but it went by so fast that all I remember is there were many whelps, there were internet dragons, and then there was some loot. Huzzah!

After Halfus we went to tackle the second set of bosses in BoT, a pair of dragons called Valiona and Tharalion. More internet dragons! Blizzard loves us, this I know, because the dragons tell me so…..

The raid leader gave all sorts of instructions for this fight, but it all boiled down to ‘run inside, run back out, run in circles, scream and shout’. I followed these instructions to the letter, but I kindly refrained from keying my mike during the ‘scream and shout’ portion. I was, apparently, the only one.

After two or three highly entertaining wipes and a VERY close up view of a purple dragon poop chute (Run under the tail! Run under the tail! Jeez, okay, I should at least get double crits for where I’m sticking my arrows, man, c’mon) we decided to shift direction to Blackwing Descent, and to shift our drinking to shots.

As a Hunter, I’m highly proficient in many different types of shots. I can offer up just about any kind of shot you could imagine. Except for Steady Shot, I don’t have much use for Steady Shot.

Blackwing Descent, here we come!

This time, I knew I could find the entrance. Umm, I think. Huh, not in the mountain? Really? It’s got to be in the mountain, Blackwing is always in this one damn mountain. Oh looky, I took so long they tossed me a pity summon. Sweet!

We entered, ran in and beat up Magmaw like the squirming squirtle snake thing that he is. It went by so fast that, again, I really can’t say much more about my experience than that it involved a lot of shooting, a lot of running back and forth with the rest of the ranged peoples, and a bunch of staying out of the bad. It tested my abilities to focus on shot prioritization to their limits, but I came through okay. I’m happy to report I didn’t spill a drop.

I said I didn’t have much use for Steady Shot. I never said I didn’t know how to use it. 

(That’s a Quigley Down Under joke, btw. In case you’re a real hunter wondering wtf I’d be doing using Steady Shot for reals and all)

After the one shot Magmaw kill came the truly entertaining part of the evening; Omnotron Defense System.

Even I, as intentionally clueless as anyone that plays WoW can be about group raids, has heard of Omnomnomotron.

I did not know anything whatsoever about this fight before we pulled. I have tried my best, since Cataclysm was released, to remain spoiler free and worry free about the instances and raids. I know that I have to study them now that I’m going to be doing them, really study, but I wanted to stay clean as long as possible. Last night, I was as noobish as you can be about what to expect.

I was paying attention in vent to any possible instructions, and you know, damned if I recall anyone even mentioning what was gonna happen or what to do before we pulled.

That first pull was a LOT of fun!

It turns out that there ain’t just ONE critter in there… there’s bunches! And it turns out there ain’t jest one mechanic… it’s like, a collection of every ‘get out of the bad’ mechanic I’ve ever seen in the game, all rolled into one encounter, and then thrown out in stages over and over.

It’s WONDERFUL!!!

Shit, I had so much fun I was grinning ear to ear.

Now, we wiped the first few times, but I learned a lot.

The biggest thing I learned was that the folks who’ve programmed Deadly Boss Mods deserve some serious thanks and your money. WTF, over. I can see learning the fight and doing it without DBM, but sure as hell not without a LOT of teamwork and confusion first. And never as part of the first time walking in.

There are all sorts of things to avoid, there’s things not to step in, there are things you SHOULD step in, there are adds that spawn, there are times you really don’t want to be doing damage on the dude you were just whacking… it’s most excellent.

Okay, let me paint you a picture of what it was like from a Beartrap point of view, if you’ve never seen Omnotron before.

We walk up some stairs and stand there on a landing, looking into a large chamber, It’s all dwarven styled architecture, so square blocks and granite walls and right angle shapes.

At the far end of the room are several large stone giant statues of the kind you are used to seeing guarding dwarf areas. Think the stone golem bouncer in the Grim Guzzler, but larger. All of them seem dead or deactivated.

Okay, so we stand there, we buff up, and then the raid leader yells “Go!”

I go running in with the group, and one of the stone giants comes to life. It’s got a name. It has a health bar. It has as much health as a full raid boss all on it’s own. Therefore, this must be the infamous Omnotron, right? Funny, name says Toxitron, I must have missed something. Wow, a simple tank and spank fight? Well, okay. I’ll have to stay on my toes in case something else happens.

The stone giant dumps a cloud of green shit that hangs in the air. Okay, so get out of the green bad stuff. That’s cool. I can do that. Is that it?

Then DBM announces “Poison Protocol”, and Toxitron spews a stream of green stuff on the floor like it’s peeing on the tank. Peeing green? Ewwww. Dude, one word; penicillin.

From out of the green puddle, little green toxic oozes pop up. What, he has crabs, too? Oh look, adds! Cool, switch targeting to take down the adds. Raid leader tells people to run if they’re Fixated. I store that nugget of wisdom for later.

We’re burning him down and then DBM tells me to switch my target right the hell NOW!

Wait, what?

Oh shit, there’s another of those stone bastards! OMIGOD HE’S GOT A GAZILLION HEALTH TOO!

Okay, this guy is throwing fire around in an AoE, and I can’t get out of it. Grrr. Hey, what the hell is that, a laser beam? GET IT OFF GET IT OFF… oh shit, I bet he blows up everyone around the target, I gotta run the hell away from everyone else…

I hear the raid leader say ‘Don’t leave the room’, so I come back into range of heals… and sure as hell, big badda boom on me, but at least I ain’t near anyone else.

DBM says to switch target right NOW! Oh shit, again?

WTF IS WITH THE HEALTH ON THESE PRICKS?!?!

Arcano… oh shit, he dropped a big purple circle on the floor, run away, run a… hey, everyone else ran INTO the circle, RUN IN, RUN IN…. oooh, damage boost! Yummy!

Lemme guess… right on time, yeah yeah, switch targets, fine, whatever… Electron? Lemme guess… yep, that there would be lightning. Chain lightning. Yawn.

Okay, what the hell is that on me, I’m sparking like an incipient blue flame generator… oh shit, that’s gonna be one of those ‘you blow up the rest of the raid near you, but you live’ kinda things, ain’t it? RUN AWAY FROM THE RAID, RUN AWAY!

Oh damn, I pooped ball lightning… oh, okay, I don’t have to run out, I can just run away from the raid and run in circles pooping lightning, I can do that. Oh, and ewwwww.

All right, we’re back on the green dude again! Okay, switching…

And then there was this big kaboom, and we wiped.

Here are a few actual mechanics things I picked up over the course of the evening, which thankfully contributed to my still being alive and useful when we downed the encounter and got our loots on the third go around.

The first thing I learned (from our first wipe) is that if you do NOT switch off of the mob you had been targeting when the next one gets activated, then what you’re doing is whittling away at the mob’s damage shield, and if you break through, the mob blows up, killing folks. So when DBM was telling me to switch, that ain’t a suggestion that your own particular raid leader might not want to follow. Nope, that’s what you do. So do eet!

In order to adjust my game to that little factoid, I made sure to HASTEN my retargeting as soon as the new mob got activated, commanded my pet to change targets just as fast, and also stopped refreshing my Serpent Sting dot at the ten second warning DBM gives you prior to the next guy activating. I didn’t want that dot ticking away at the shield. I also made sure to fire off my Explosive Trap at the beginning of each activation so it would have faded before it was bubble time. DoTs ticking away at shield = not good.

The second thing I learned was, the four things share health. You do not want to stay on one that’s almost gone and ride it down and hope the bubble doesn’t pop… you switch targets. They all have one big shared health pool. Hey, that wasn’t readily apparent the first go around, and knowing it made me breathe a sigh of relief.

The third thing I learned was it’s very, very good that I was burning down the adds. It looked like they did hellacious damage if they hit who they were fixated on. Oh yeah, didn’t I mention? Those oozes weren’t just random adds. They all fixate on someone like a guided missile, little green bombs, and they slowly make their way towards their targets. Burn them bad boys down.

That purple circle Arcano drops? Yep, good to stand in, bad to leave boss in. Note to self, watch fer those suckas and love the extra damage.

We wiped a few times, and you know how I finally found the entrance to the raid? By following a long, long, LONG stream of dead players all making their way back up to the landing. Must have been a rough night, man.

We killed ‘em all and sorted the loot, and I walked away from the fight with a shiny new Voltage Source Chestguard. Oh wow, raid loots!

Now, if you expected a real guide to any of this, well, sorry to disappoint. I was having fun flying by the seat of my pants.

If you really want a serious guide to this encounter, you’re not going to find it here. Instead, I’d recommend you pay a visit to Tankspot, the home of some truly wonderful narrated video guides. Now that I’m stopping my intentional ignoring of strats and spoiler videos, you’ll be able to find me there. That’s my first stop for resources on how things work and what to expect.

Aside from researching individual boss and mechanic functions on Wowhead, of course.

Have a great weekend everyone, get out and see Thor! It was awesome!

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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.

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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. :)

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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!

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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.

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