Archive for the “Soapbox” Category

My Hunter is now my main, and as I’ve played him consistently since shortly after Pandaria launched, I’ve found myself at the great position where I’ve got everything I could want from LFR and from Valor vendors… so I don’t have to do a damn thing if I don’t want to and still be good to go in raids.

I even finally maxed my 6000 Valor for Wrathion the idjit punk kid last week, and I’m in no rush to do the PvP battlegrounds. Sooner or later, sometime this week, I’ll do it. I’m not looking forward to it, but I’m sure eventually I’ll get the wins I need. Even a blind bear gets the honey sooner or later.

As you may or may not know, I spent many weeks frustrated at the lack of a weapon drop.

I’m not going to belabor the point. It sucked. I had a Legendary gem and desired a weapon with a Sha-touched gem slot, and didn’t get diddly. Not for lack of trying, but random is random, you rolls the dice and you takes your chances.

Which would be fine, except other players on other classes had no problems at all. “Oh yeah, I’m duel wielding ‘em. No worries.”

Many, MANY Hunters feel that pain. Some of them have been trying even longer than I did, and all I can say is, I know, I understand, and I hope and pray you get your Taoren too. I know the Godmother is about ready to take an axe to her monitor, and I don’t blame her one bit.

So, on behalf of Hunters everywhere, I’m going to send out this little note to Blizzard.

Blizzard, I like your new LFR loot system.

I know many people whine about large sacks of gold, but I’m not here to whine about your large sack.

I like the lack of loot drama, and am glad to wave farewell to the bitching about who deserved the drop more that used to break out in Dragon Soul.

Also, thank you for the bonus rolls. It’s a nice extra reward for doing daily quests. I appreciate it.

The problem I have is NOT with the loot system.

My problem is with the loot distribution.

Your loot system offers me loot based on the class and spec I am on. When a boss dies, the only loot I might win is what the boss has that I could actually use.

Great idea. Love it.

The problem comes in when the boss has multiple things that could be used by my class and spec.

In the future, please do not place THREE items that a single class and spec could use on ONE BOSS.

Placing three items on a boss that a single class and spec can use means that even if you only need ONE of those items as an upgrade, using your bonus roll could get you any one of those three, or nothing at all.

This is annoying enough in normal circumstances, but bearable, even kind of fun when there are other options.

Like with trinkets, even if you’d really like that one drop, there are alternatives from Valor gear vendors and from BoE Inscription items. You have multiple options, and sure one item might theorycraft out to being the best, or be a Tier piece, but even so you’ve still got choices.

When you place a classes only possible Sha-touched weapon on a boss that has two other usable drops for you, it’s horrible.

If you’ve already got a low chance at winning ANYTHING, and then finally you get lucky and do get something, now you have to hope like hell it’s the one thing out of three you actually need.

I’ve been there, frustrated as heck.

In my case, after enough weeks of failure I took the step of running Terrace of Endless Spring THREE TIMES each week, saving my bonus roll for each of the three Lei Shi kills to maximize my chance of winning the weapon.

All to get four chances at one piece of loot from a boss every week. And it still took more than three weeks after implementing that plan to see the gun drop. Not from a lack of drops, I won gear. Just, not the one piece I wanted from the three possibilities.

For Hunters, Lei Shi has the Ranger’s Chain of Unending Summer (Mail Agi belt), Terror in the Mists (Agi/Crit trinket) and Taoren the Soul Burner, our Sha-touched weapon.

Three different drops useable by Hunters, and very nice items, too.

Just… don’t do that again. Please, don’t do that again.

One usable drop yes, two maybe, three OH HELL NO.

I know distributing all this stuff for so many slots is a pain in the ass. I understand.

But please, please don’t do that to us again.

Comments 18 Comments »

This post is for me to share with those of you who are interested a well written article on gun control issues.

The piece is written by Larry Correia and posted on his blog, and while it is very long, he states in clear terms everything that I have grown to understand and believe from my own personal experience about the subject of gun control within the United States.

To be clear, I agree with Mr. Corriea in every single respect that he wrote, although I have less faith than he does that there would be as many teachers or administrators in each school across the country that would be willing to volunteer to be properly armed, trained and committed to using those weapons in the defense of the children in their care.

I personally lean more towards schools having a budget for local off-duty law enforcement professionals to be hired to serve as security during school hours. There is already an established practise of off-duty law enforcement officers being allowed to hire on as uniformed security at bars and nightclubs, so the issue there would be cost, not establishing a process.

If you disagree with my position, I understand. Everyone has their own experiences in life that inform their beliefs, and there are few things in this world that inspire as much of an emotional response as guns do.

But just as you have your own experiences and beliefs and I respect your right to hold them firm, I have lived my own life and come to my own understanding of these issues, and I stand by them just as strongly.

What Larry Corriea expresses in his article is what believe to be a true representation of gun control legislation and the facts behind the various issues. And because I do feel this strongly about the subject, and because my blog is about me being honest and up front about what I believe or am passionate about, I’m sharing it here.

Everything I write here on the blog from my own life is true. Absolutely true. In an age of internet anonymity and attention seeking through lying, I write about what I’ve actually done and seen, and I’m not going to pretend that the current political advantage people are trying to derive from a horrible tragedy doesn’t make me feel a bit sick.

When I write a storytime about getting drunk on Parris Island and sleeping it off on the top of a water tower, by God that is the literal truth of what happened. I’m not trying to make myself seem cooler, or smarter, or whatever. You read some of my stories, you’ll see. I’ve done some incredibly stupid things in my life, and the real story is I’m a lucky son of a bitch who could have been dead for, well, for being careless with my own life.

Maybe it’s just how I grew up being exposed to the black humor of law enforcement officers like my father, and then the rough humor of the Marine Corps that leads me to think there is a funny side to my stories. Maybe when you read them, instead of amusement you think “What a stupid bastard.” It doesn’t matter, whether they are funny, sad, or stupid, they happened the way they did.

It was all real life and how I responded to it, and that is where I’m always trying to come from.

How is this at all relevant to gun control and my sharing it here on my blog?

Here is some more of my true life.

I don’t talk about my first ten years of life on the blog for a reason that seems good to me. To my mind, there wasn’t anything positive in those first ten years to talk about. There are no funny stories, no cute anecdotes, I don’t have a touching teachable moment.

My folks got divorced at a real early age, my mom was manic-depressive and violent, VERY violent, and she got custody. She wasn’t able to hold down a steady job, and so we went where it was cheap and she could get emotional support from her family – the inner city of Miami.

My childhood was one of violence. Serious violence. I have been stabbed before, I have seen shootings and beatings, I have been chased by a pack of kids bent on beating me bloody with sticks, chains and broken bottles on a football field after school.  There was nothing thrilling about it; I was running for my life, as scared as it is possible to be. Whenever I hear the song “Here come the high astepper”, I think about that moment, and believe it or not I smile, because I can smile now at shit that scared me to death at the time. I was a high-steppin’ son of a bitch THAT day, that’s for sure.

I had a bottle smashed over my head by another kid, just because he wanted the bottle and I had it in my hand, and it drove him into a rage. I was three. My head was split open and stitched up, and I can still feel the scars.

I was attacked by a group of much older kids when on my bike. I was smashed right off the bike, and then beaten bloody. It is hard to remember, since nothing got broken that time.

In Miami schools, I was once threatened, seriously threatened, to be killed by gang kids. not joking, not bravado, but a serious threat to kill me if they were able to catch me after school. I tell you now, with absolute honesty, that for over a week I carried a gun to school with me, every day, in fear for my life and knowing that if I told my mother I would simply be beaten, beaten as hard as you can imagine, for daring to lie to ‘try to get out of having to go to school’.

For those curious about such things, the gun was a Baeur .25 automatic, a small pocket pistol kind of thing, and yes, it was loaded and yes, if those kids had managed to corner me, and come at me, I would no shit have drawn that weapon and used it. I was absolutely certain they meant to kill me, and I did my best to scurry like a rat scared out of my mind of being caught by the kids, and also of being caught skipping school by my mother.

I never showed the gun to anyone else at school. It wasn’t a cry for help. It wasn’t something to be cool. It was something I prayed I wouldn’t get caught with or get in trouble for having, and that I hoped and prayed I wouldn’t need by being cornered by them. I spent most of my time that week not being seen, heard or caught by them. I was invisible.

Fortunately, I hid well. I found places to be, like the library, anywhere but the school at any time except a millisecond before and after the bell rang. They couldn’t find me, so they went after other kids and forgot about me. But, ah what could have been. I could have been just another senseless statistic in the news.

As soon as I figured out they forgot about me, I slid that gun back in the dresser drawer I found it in, because I was just as scared of being caught with a gun as I was that I’d get beaten or stabbed to death.

I wasn’t afraid of being bullied. Everyone gets bullied at some point, and in my school all the damn time. There is a lot of truth that standing up and fighting back, and doing it so as not to make them feel they HAVE to fight to prove they aren’t scared of YOU now, that makes you more work than they were looking for, and they go torment someone else. This wasn’t that, this was a gang thing, and there was nothing else to do but hide and pray and be ready if they caught me.

Everyone has their own experiences. Mine don’t make me better or worse than other people.

I’m putting it out there so that you understand, before you talk to me about gun control,  inner city violence, abject poverty, the availability of guns and how effective gun control laws are or could be, please don’t make the mistake of stereotyping me as a clueless middle-class suburban white guy sitting fat and happy with a cigar and a brandy, relaxing in my wealth earned by stepping on the faces of the proletariat. I have a pretty firm grasp of what inner city life is like.

If you don’t want to hear about it, if you believe that if I oppose gun control I must be evil, biased, heartless or greedy, then I do understand. I am not sharing Larry’s article out of a misguided sense of trying to convert the gun control advocate faithful.

What I hope is that someone out there has read about gun control and the issues surrounding it, heard a lot about gun control and violence through the news, but aren’t quite convinced they have the whole story, and are still open to learning more about it from other sources.

Will I alienate and anger some of you, who have been long time readers?

Unfortunately, I am sure I will, and that saddens me. I never start out the day hoping I can piss someone off or offend them. I don’t get my rocks off by hurting anyones feelings.

This is smiply what I believe. To pretend otherwise for fear of offending readers would be cowardly. This is a part of who I am, and I am quite happy about it. I can only hope that most of you either believe the same, are open to a different point of view, or are able to respect, if not my beliefs, than the fact that I am willing to stand by them.

So long as I have this venue for expressing my own strongly held beliefs, I am going to take this chance to share Larry Corriea’s article with everyone I can.

I keep saying how important this is to me, and I want to be clear why. I’m old now, I’m 44. I am well past the age of your usual activist. The world is what it is, and my ability to influence it in any way is small at best.

My son is nine years old now. He’s almost ten. I grew up in violence that he could not even remotely dream of. To me, that is the one major victory of my entire life. Everything else, EVERYTHING else in my life is meaningless crap, except that the life my son is living is so much better, so much more loving than anything I ever knew in my own.

My son, to my knowledge, has never been bullied at school, the playground or at home. Not in any way I would recognise. He might have had some pushing thing or an argument over whose turn it is to use a toy, but nothing where a knife or broken bottle might come into play. I have a hard time even conceiving what that would be like; I have no frame of reference for it. There is a reason why I am wholeheartedly behind paying so that my son can go to a small private Catholic school, and it’s not because of the stirring religious message and the Friday mass.

One of the things I worry about is how to keep him from absorbing a message of intolerance or hatred towards others with different lifestyles or views. I have accepted that worry in exchange for being free from worrying over whether he’s going to get shanked between classes. Okay, yes, that’s a joke. I live in Minnesota in the suburbs, I’m pretty sure that if he goes to public class out here, he’ll be okay, no shanking.

All of it, all of his life, all of our care to help him grow in love and kindness can be wiped away in an instant, in a heartbeat, simply because the school that my son and all other children his age attends is wide open to any predator with a will to make his name as a psycho, without any possibility of an effective response within 10 to 15 minutes of that first moment of horror.

As a former Marine, I know how useless a response ten to fifteen minutes after the first gunshot would be.

I feel that what we hold most precious in our lives, what we cherish the most, is what we should protect and defend the strongest, with everything that we have.

And I also feel that gun control legislation, in all of it’s many proposed forms, is useless in addressing that problem.

The only issue in all of this debate that I care about is, “How do we ensure the safety and security of our defenseless children”, and no matter what anyone says, I do not believe we are going to accomplish that goal by placing new rules on what types of guns are allowed to be sold in the future, by actively taking existing guns away from law abiding citizens, or by keeping better records on people who have had mental health issues or are on certain medications.

If the debate does not center on a proactive response that provides a fast, immediate reaction against violence at the time it occurs, than it does nothing about the core issue that I care about.

I want my son to have the life that I never had, and the opportunity to grow into the kind of man he chooses to be. And I will oppose with everything I have any son of a bitch that turns it into a sound bite for votes or a power grab for bigger government, or a chance to get a personal agenda rammed through out of fear and the passion of the moment.

Thank you for your time.

Comments 53 Comments »

I love buzzword bingo, especially at this time of year.

One of my favorite buzzwords is paradigm. Not because I like it all that much, but because the people who typically use it around me have no idea what the hell a paradigm is, let alone what a shift of a paradigm would be, or why anyone would care if it happened.

I’m gonna use it out of pure perversity. It’s a new year, and I need to put the hammer down.

I’m arguing that World of Warcraft is a paradigm for an MMO. Ooh, controversial! Okay, no, not at all, pretty damn obvious.

World of Warcraft is wildly successful, and is often immitated by other MMO products in terms of structure, quest theory, group dynamics, etc. World of Warcraft is the example that inspires and teaches us what works and what doesn’t, what customers will respond to.

I’m also saying that the paradigm has shifted out from under our feet.

I listen to a lot of WoW community podcasts, I enjoy reading what WoW folks say on Twitter, I read a bunch of blogs.

One persistant theme is daily quests.

We used to have them, but they were a necessary evil that were thankfully limited. We only had a few at a time, they had specific rewards, and once you had what you wanted the only reason to ever go back and do them again was to chase gold.

Now, daily quests are everywhere, there is no limit to how many you can do, and there is a good reason to want what they can give you, world without end, amen.

In short, daily quests have gone from a sometime thing to being very nearly at the center of the core gameplay, and people resent the hell out of the change.

To go by the podcasts and Twitter comments I see, they’re a drag, a grind, a bummer, a thing stripped of joy and humor in a cold, cruel universe not of our design. Curse them, we curses the dailies my precious!

Well, I’m here to say, I think the core gameplay in World of Warcraft is now being built around daily quests, and if you’re still stuck thinking of dailies as something we will someday get past, good morning Mr Phelps it’s time for your 6:00 AM wakeup call. That smell in the air? That’s change. Oh, and bacon. Bacon and change.

Maybe what is called for are a few well chosen adages.

I can drag out the good old Marine Corps slogan “Improvise, Adapt and Overcome”, effectively saying brush it off and get over it. That’s what I’m thinking, so yeah.

Or perhaps I should simply reference Hank Williams, Junior and suggest you could use an Attitude Adjustment. :)

How is this a paradigm change?

Before patch 5.0, daily quests existed of course, but they were different from the daily quests of today in a couple of very signficant ways that have big implications.

First, we were capped by quantity. There were only so many we could do in a given day. We also usually only had one faction at a time, so if you were going to do dailies, the temptationw as to get out there and burn through them, get them over with, then move on to other stuff. Like queueing for heroics or LFR.

Second, they only gave gold and reputation. Once you had maxed your reputation and got what you wanted from that faction, you were done forever. 

Argent Tournament added tokens, a new throttle to prevent us just buying everything when we hit max rep and were done. Still, even with the Argent Tournament, there was a limit. Once you had the pets and mounts yuo wanted, done. Gold was all that remained.

The Molten Front really shook the daily quest structure up, tossing out tokens but adding phased progression, advancing storylines, great upgrades, profession recipes and vanity items, and branching paths to keep unlocking new stuff. 

As much of a success as the Molten Front was, it was still limited by points one and two. Limited dailes to do, only gold and reputation to gain.

Ah, how things have changed! Who would have ever imagined the difference tying Valor Points and Lesser Tokens to dailies would make?

The paradigm shift came when daily quests became something you could not burn through in a short time, and provided rewards that you would never stop wanting.

Who out there remembers where they were and what they thought when the word came out of 5.0 beta… “The cap on daily quests is being removed. You will be able to do as many daily quests each day as you could want without limit.”

Did you laugh? Did you look to your guildies in disbelief, thinking of the then-current system of gold/reputation dailies, wondering who the hell was out there praying for this change?

“Oh hell yes, sign my ass up, I want to spend my days grinding daily quests for gold, take that cap off because 25 quests a day is NOT ENOUGH to satisfy my hunger for money.”

Ah, but that before we saw the Valor Points being added to each and every quest. That was before we knew they were changing the way you could earn Valor Points from heroics, when you could still go in for just two days a week, run a bunch of heroics each of those two days, and max out your Valor gain from them. That was before tabards for reputation gains were removed…

And it was before they added the Greater Charms of bonus loot rolls, and item upgrades from Valor Points.

Things have shifted, big time.

Now, Valor Points are hard to get from heroics without logging in and committing to playing every single day, reputation upgrades cannot be obtained without running dailies at all, and Valor Points will forever play an ongoing role in upgrading all of your gear.

Now, you will never, ever truly run out of things to spend Valor on, you’ll just reach a point where you’ve stopped giving a shit if your items are fully upgraded or not.

For the progression raider, so long as new content is coming as fast as it seems, it will make more sense to relax about Valor. It takes one and a half weeks of Valor to fullu upgrade one epic. If you’re running progression, clearing all content and getting upgrades, it only makes sense to upgrade a few key items.

If you are not raiding or seeing a lot of drops in a short period of time, then using Valor to upgrade items is a nice way to continuously improve.

Bonus loot rolls? You get them from dailies, period. Reputation? Dailies. Even with the 5.2 farm changes coming, and being able to fulfill contracts on your farm to earn faction reputation, planting and farming still takes time each day. It’s just a new way of doing it.

Rumor has it, some players are motivated by new gear, and upgrading the gear they have. Who knew?

Well, Blizzard does, and the humble daily quest now fills an open-ended need.

There are so many quests available, and more coming all the time. And following up on the Molten Front design, we now have multiple daily quest hubs, each with a different theme, each having story advancement, phasing, and something fresh and new as you go.

Rumor has it, players like fresh story advancement and new shit. Again, who knew?

But the biggest wild card is how fast the new stuff is coming.

We just about had time to get our mains maxed in the 5.0 factions before Operation: Shieldwall and the Dominance Offensive dropped.

Now we’re going to have had time to finish and absorb those, and boom here comes the new war between the Kirin Tor and the Sunwalkers.

Things have changed in the game. Daily quests are at the heart of most of what we are doing, with the Black Prince threading through it all, adding a bit more meaning, bringing the threads together.

These days, even if you hate daily quests, it is strongly in your own best interest to pick a faction, grab some quests, and use them to fill the time as you wait for your heroics or LFR queues or BGs to pop.

Don’t expect things to change back the way you’re used to. Don’t expect there to be a day when you’ve got all you need and you’ll never have to do another daily quest again, ever.

And move past the idea that daily quests are something to focus on and burn through to get out of the way before moving on to the other stuff. There are too many of them for a reason, just pick and choose and fill in the gaps.

Above all, if you’re prejudiced against the idea of dailies, if the quests offend you by their very existence… you might need to adjust your attitude.

You can get your Valor from other ways, and you can decide you don’t need bonus loot rolls, and you can commit to getting your faction rep by planting flowers and fulfilling commissions, but the game is being built around dailies to fill in the gaps between doing all those other things you love.

Queue for a heroic, LFR, BG, whatever you want, the dailies are there to give you something to do other than stand around in Orgrimmar spamming Trade Chat while you wait.

Maybe I’ve made my case, maybe I haven’t, but the game feels very different to me now that before 5.0.

Before, there were big things to do, absolutely, but if you weren’t doing them, or if you were in queue waiting, there wasn’t much better to do than sit in a city, tab out with a warning timer, and read a book.

Now, there is a ton to do. Always. And it will reward you with upgrades or the potential for upgrades, either from upgraded epics, purchased gear from vendors, or bonus loot rolls.

And even if, somehow, you are playing World of Warcraft and could care less about gear at all…. Pet Battles. There is STILL something to do!

The world has changed around us, and the familiar needs to be looked at with a fresh eye.

Things will change in the future, maybe they’ll give us tabards, maybe they’ll do something else.

For right now, I know that if I log in, there will be a wide choice of things for me to do, and the hard part is figuring out what I want to do right then the most. 

And I love it. Every single day, I love it.

Every day, for months now, when I log in there is something to do. Always.

And more stuff is coming out!

I think it’s well past time for people to stop talking about daily quests as an annoyance, an unwanted evil, and start looking at them as something fast and rewarding to do in between the big stuff.

They’re not just for gold grinding anymore.

Comments 22 Comments »

Well, I never would have thought it, but I’m settling down into a very reliable cycle.

And I’m pretty happy about it, except of course, only so many WoW hours to go around.

Each week is getting to be a bit familiar. A pattern is forming. I have some priorities, and I follow them when I log in during the week.

Tuesday night, the instances reset. Time to begin queueing for Terrace of the Endless Spring!

Which I did, any time I thought I’d have two hours to be online. Yep, I want a shot at that damn gun. Obsessive? Me? NO! What could possibly have given you that idea?

It’s okay, though. This is a strictly limited obsession. I only get four shots at that gun each week, and once they’re gone, I be done til next Tuesday.

So, yeah, I might have stayed up late last night, but I managed to get in three Terrace runs since the server reset. That means four shots at loot rolls from Lei Shei, or whatever the hell her name is. That watery tart who doesn’t chuck a sword at you.

You did know that you can use Elder Charm bonus rolls on bosses that you’ve already killed in earlier runs, didn’t you? Yes, yes you can. And yes, you can win loot.

I have absolute proof. On my first run this week, I won loot from Lei Shei on the bonus roll, no loot from normal roll. Tier whatever the heck it is she drops. Last week, I won the Agility Trinket from her, but it’s not as good as the ones I have so it’s just in my bags.

My second run this week, used a bonus roll, no loot. Third run, used my last bonus roll, and WON… the Agility Trinket again. :)

So, I may not have won the Sha-Touched Weapon again, but I have absolute proof that you can use all your rolls on one particular boss, if you’re crazy enough to keep queueing up over and over again just to try.

Look, if Lei Shei didn’t have so many things useable by my class and spec, I’d probably have it already. I just have to fight double odds, first that I’d win something, and second WHICH item I would win.

Next week for sure. Bet on it.

Next priority, see if there is a Sha group forming, get that out of the way. No? Yes? Maybe later.

Okay, queued up for something, time to go do some dailies on one of the factions I don’t have at Exalted yet while I wait.

I truly admire the structure of the Operation: Shieldwall dailies. Different quest hubs randomized by day, and at certain points of reputation gain you get special story-driven quests to get extra (unplanned-for) reputation and also to drive the overall story forward.

If nothing else, I really hope they keep that concept alive going forward. Reputation grinds that have surprise new story-advancing content is what I want from now on. For me, I like having familiar dailies, but I also like having new story moving forward with them. 

Once the midweek rolls around, my thoughts turn to how I’m going to get Valor capped without too much time or grindiness.

It’s an interesting fact that you can queue for multiple types of random things now, without losing your spot in any of the queues, and while still accruing seniority.  Want some Valor for the night, but don’t like the long Heroic queue time sitting around as a DPS? Don’t want to HAVE to do dailies to pass the time in queue? Then queue for a random Heroic, and THEN queue for a random Scenario.

The Scenario will pop right away (usually), and all the time you are in there, you are building up time in the quue for the Heroic. When you leave the Scenario (and only after leaving the Scenario), you’ll be right back in line for the Heroic… and very likely at the head of the line!

I’m really starting to look towards how to get the most milk with the least amount of moo. Time is limited, and I’d like to do something other than run shit on my Hunter until I get capped Sunday or Monday, just in time for the server to reset the caps again.

I really want to regain the feeling that I can skip playing entirely for several days while still capping. WoW isn’t supposed to be a job where I have to punch my clock every single day or feel, subjectively, like I’m falling behind in my responsibilities.

Maybe Blizard is intending to structure things to reward those who log in every day. I’ve seen some blue moderator comments that do seem to indicate that they want to reward those that log in, well, every day. Consistently. For hours at a time.


It doesn’t matter. If I’ve got stuff going on, well, tough. Guess I’ll just fall behind, and if I start feeling bad because I’m falling behind on game goals because of real life, there is a clear way to stop feeling bad about it… stop playing at all. I don’t need a video game to set goals for me that I will feel bad about not meeting.

So far, I have been hitting the Valor cap on my main each week… right at the end of my play time Sunday.

That means my Monday night gets to be my ‘do anything’ night without the feeling I really should be earning some Valor with something.

I’m going to have to do something to change that. I want more of my week free to play the PS3, or read a book, or watch TV or just laugh as Alex makes stuff out of legos.

A single LFR that is fresh nets 90 Valor. less than 1/10th the week of Valor. Considering how long a damn queue and run takes, I’d sure like to see it be a minimum of 1/7th the cap. I log in, queue, get my run done, I should feel like it’s cool if THAT IS IT for the night. Committment met, good to go, free to do something outside Azeroth.

If I do the Scenario/Heroic trick, it’s 120 Valor in a night. If I did a single daily hub for 25 Valor (5 quests/5 Valor each), plus one random Scenario and Heroic, then I’d be a sliver past 1/7th of the weekly cap each day. 

Mah point is, this is silly. The rewards for reaching the Valor cap are too damn good to just blow it off completely, but I feel silly juggling things around trying to get the most Valor out of the least game time, because geez, this is starting to be a lot of damn time in game.

Moderation in all things, even in Warcraft, remember?

Well, this week is gonna be all about moderation.

I did my time in the grind, I did Terrace three times this week, and if I don’t hit the Valor cap, whelp, too bad.

Tonight is the night my son will be performing in the school Christmas concert, both singing AND playing the saxophone in the band! I have the battery for the camcorder fully charged, and I can’t wait. it will be awesome.

After that, I expect to be reading him some more of Terry Pratchett’s “A Hat Full of Sky” to Alex. My son loves the Nac Mac Feegle, and I do all the voices. A good time will be had by all. Crivens!

I am thinking that, as much as I love the game, and as much fun as I’m having right now and have been for months… it feels like a bad sign that I’m trying to figure out how to get the Valor I want with the absolute minimum time in game. because no shit, I feel shackled to the keyboard right now, and that’s gonna get old real quick.

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This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. It’s a topic that I’ve never seen anyone really address, and my instincts say most folks choose to avoid it with a ten foot pole.

I’ve mentioned ‘ten percenters’ before, but I’ve never really come right out and talked about it.

There are folks in this world that aren’t as fast on the uptake as other people, or who make choices and decisions that seem odd.

Call them (or me) stupid, or whatever, or say we’re all challenged in different ways, I don’t care what labels you put on it.

Some folks do not learn, process information, react to changing circumstances, improvise, adapt or overcome sudden obstacles at the same rate of speed as other people.

Physical? Mental? Lack of caring, lack of focus, cat ran across the keyboard every pull, degenerative nerve disorder, stupid as a suit made out of tacks in an inflatable inner tube factory? 

Not my concern.

I’m concerned with results.

I am on one side of a keyboard, staring at a monitor screen. I do not have any idea what is going on behind the screen of anyone else’s monitor.

For all I know, your character is being controlled by two cats, one moving the mouse and the other controlling the keyboard, working together to farm goods to sell on ebay to afford iPad butt warmers and chicken livers.

No clue.

What I see is what the other characters do in game, and what people type in chat. And, occasionally, what people say in vent.

Sometimes in random groups or in LFR raids, I see people do stuff, and I think, “What a stupid son of a bitch.”

I have no way of knowing what is really going on with that person. I don’t.

Half the raid is dead, and someone runs forward and pushes the big red button to start the next boss fight, initiating a wipe.

Intentional troll? Ignorant player? Stupid son of a bitch?

No clue.

In the Marines, I had a Sergeant who used to say, often, that being stupid wasn’t something to be ashamed of. If you were born stupid, there isn’t a damn thing you can about that. Algernon had a special treatment, but we don’t. And if we did, much like for Algernon, I doubt me it would last.

But if you’re ignorant… well, he had some seriously direct things to say about ignorant people. Ignorance can be corrected by education, by effort, by study and practice. If you’re ignorant, there are definite things to can do to correct the situation. The sin is in refusing to do something about it.

So, do you blame someone else for being slower than others, if they’re trying like hell but just aren’t getting it?

Well, do you really know they are trying? As I said, how do you really know what is going on behind the other keyboard?

If you don’t know… if someone keeps doing things that screw up the group, make mistakes, react in the wrong way, move too soon or too late, make the wrong decisions, you have to start wondering.

Is it a troll? Is it someone who doesn’t know what to do, and could have gone and watched videos and read strats, but didn’t? or is it really someone trying like hell but who can’t quite get it?

If you just don’t know, hopw do you handle it?

This really is something that is important to me, because I feel stupid. A LOT.

I have days where I just feel like an idiot. Things don’t click. I feel like I’ve got all the pieces right there in front of me, but I’m not putting them together right.

Someone will say something, others will laugh, and I’m wondering what I missed, what connection didn’t happen in my brain. Was it a pop culture reference I didn’t get because I don’t watch that show? Was it a play on words that I wasn’t smart enough to tie together?

Other days, I’ll feel pretty sharp. Those days are a mixed blessing, because I love them so much at the time but I know I won’t feel that way for long.

Like I said, I think about this stuff a lot.

I feel like an idiot a lot, and I’m not immune to peer pressure. When I spend time playing with other people, I don’t want to be the one making mistakes.

I don’t want to be the one person in a ten person group making mistakes or doing the wrong thing. Whether anyone says anything or not, I’ll be the one thinking, “Everyone else moved out of the Cobalt Mine before it went live, why the FUCK can’t I move out of the way fast enough? Everyone else is able to do this, so what is wrong with me?”

Or with the Stone Guard, and Jaspar Chains. I don’t want to be the one where, oh look, Jaspar Chains on me, and I didn’t even notice that I’m killing a melee player because I’m so focused in on pew pew pew that I’m oblivious to everything else.

“Oh shit, run in! Whoops, sorry, too late, I wish you hadn’t died like that just because I was too slow to react.”

Here’s the thing. Mistakes happen, yes I know, especially when what you’re doing is coming at you live and fresh like on the first few hours of a new boss.

But what do you do when the whole group tackles a challenge together, and there is confusion the first few times… but some of the group starts to get it, and others just don’t?

What do you do when you’ve got someone in your group that is not coming along as fast as everyone else. Someone who just does not get it, hasn’t had the encounter ‘click’, hasn’t gotten that flash of insight that suddenly brings everything into focus.

I just don’t see this question answered out there in the community, I don’t see it addressed.

If you’re in a raid group, what do you do when someone doesn’t get it, and the ones who do and think they should be able to kill it and move on get frustrated?

Worse yet… what do you do when you’ve got a raid member that isn’t consistently bad at just one thing, but seems to screw up all the time in all sorts of different ways?

And the capper – what if the person is in your guild, and is a good friend (or family member) of yours?

I have had days where I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and the simple fact is, I could not get it done.

I mentioned Jaspar Chains earlier. Let me go into Stone Guard in more detail.

I had a raid pull a few weeks ago where it seemed like I did something wrong every single time I took a step. not per wipe, per step.

I knew what I was supposed to do, but I could not actually DO it right.

I have chosen Talents so that my Deterrence is on the shortest cooldown possible, and I take the least amount of damage possible when it’s up.

I did it specifically to be of more use on the Stone Guard for the Cobalt Mines. When you pop Deterrance this way, you can run over and trip Cobalt Mines when it’s not the Cobalt petrify phase, and you take seriously reduced damage AND you don’t get frozen in place.

The idea here is obviously to pull minesweeper duty on the Cobalt Mines whenever you need to, not just during Cobalt petrify, freeing up the work space if you have to deal with the Amethyst Pools as well.

Now, that’s nice. I did that on my own, practicing in LFR, worked nice. But Deterrence is only up for 4 seconds. I figured it would work best if our Healing priest Disco were to spec into the Talent that increases run speed when bubbled.

So the idea was, I would announce that I was popping Deterrence in two secs, get a bubble from Disco, and run faster, letting me cover more ground and pop more Cobalt Mines in a tight span of time.

Disco was gracious enough to change Talents just so I could do that.

So I ask you, how many times do you think I remembered to give her a two second warning in vent before popping Deterrence?

If you were to say “only once in a four hour span of wipes”, that would be pretty damn accurate.

I just couldn’t seem to move in on Jaspar Chains, pew pew the correct dog (the one in a group of two, NOT the solo one), avoid the purple puddles, pop Cobalt Mines, break things when the correct petrify was up, AND remember to give Disco a two second warning.

If I remembered to give the warning, I popped Deterrence and cleared Cobalt Mines that weren’t actually in the way. Or I stood in Amethyst for 5 seconds before going, “huh, dying, wtf” rather than getting the heck out of the way.

I tried my best, but I just kept making all sorts of stupid mistakes. The kinds of mistakes that are scattered around, and make it hard to point to one thing and say, ‘I need to do that better.”

Instead, it was the kind of pull where I had to point at myself and say, “You need to take a deep breath, and chill. Because that crap ain’t funny. Pull it together.”

You know what I mean? Just an entire pull where I was a day late and a dollar short.

Now, I’ve gotten a lot better since then. I’ve seen the fight often enough now that I can move properly for some things without having to focus extra hard on it. That frees up some of my attention to more judgment-oriented tasks.

But what if I didn’t get better? What if I came back, week after week, and I just kept being a spaz with no improvement?

I mean a spaz like “We are not progressing past this point because out of ten of us, this one person keeps doing stupid shit every damn week, and I’m sick of wiping for two hours.”

I see people talk about practicing, and working with players by going over recount, or World of Logs, or reforging, or rotation help, etc.

What do you do when you can ‘coach’ until you’re blue in the face, but they ain’t getting it?

More to the point… what do you do if the person is a friend, like in a friends and family guild raid team, and you can’t just say, “Sorry Raider X, you’re not getting it, so we’re benching you for someone that can.”

Does someone really have a good answer for this?

It’s one thing for me to look at a complete stranger in LFR doing something, and think (NOT SAY), “What a stupid son of a bitch.”

That is a private judgmental thought that hurts nobody but me and vents a little steam, because the person has no idea what I’m thinking, and they will never see me again. And again… it’s an unfair judgment because how the hell do I know what was happening on the other side of their monitor?

But it’s something else entirely when the person knows you, you know the person, you want to do this thing together as part of a team and to build shared experiences and have fun together… and now friendship, ego and pride are all tied into something like raiding progression pressure while one of you is doing stupid shit.

What do you do? Do you put progression before friendship, and tell them they aren’t welcome just so you can get a win?

Or do you put friendship first and stick it out together, even if that means wiping for three weeks straight without a single boss kill, holding your group together against the frustration because yo’re gonna get it together, or you’re not gonna get it at all?

I wonder about this a lot. Like I said, I have days I wonder why the hell I pretend I can raid.

I have days where I strive for brilliance and have to settle for competence… and wonder if I’m fooling myself.

I wish I could say that everyone would of course put friendship and family first, that what is truly important is the bond we have with the person behind the keyboard, that is the only thing that is real in a digital world.

But I see LFR, and I see the intentional trolls, and  wonder what guild they are in? Who chooses to have them as members?

I see people who don’t give a shit, and afk follow through LFR, and bump into walls because they can’t even be bothered to pay enough attention to walk straight. People who click the ready checks, and then stand there immobile through the entire fight, not even auto-attacking, as if to show they are too good to lower themselves to play in LFR with the likes of me.

Where are they guilded? Do they raid? Do they show that level of don’t give a shit with their friends?

And I think about how damn hard those of us who do feel like idiots try to learn and do better, so we don’t drag the group down with us… and I wonder how many people I play with wish they were on a team with someone who didn’t fail quite so bad.

There are stupid people in the world, and I often suspect I’m one of ‘em. And we’re in your game, standing in poo.

What do you do?

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