It’s over. No Challenge Modes for me! Or for the grand folks who tried to help when we ran into troubles, either.

When we lost our tank unexpectedly yesterday, Wren was good enough to help us out with his Paladin, and he did a great job working our way through Stormstout Brewery, but in the end having five people who had not attempted Challenge Modes before, or at least played as though they had never done Challenge Modes before proved to be too high of a handicap.

To be blunt, none of us acted like we knew where to go or what to do, and everyone looked to someone else to tell us what to do. No excuses, just poor preparation and no time left to overcome it.

I found out we were done the hard way… I logged in tonight, asked the person who had started this run what the plan was for the evening, and was told she had found friends to do it with her.

As in, not you Bear and your tank and healer. Other people than you friends.

As in, we’re not doing them with you and I wasn’t going to bother to email, tweet or in-game message you because you’ll find out when you log in and I’m already in there with my friends right now so kind of get the point?

As a friend of mine said, ouch.

Fair enough.

I can walk away from this experience with the satisfaction that, for one night, I ran with a tank who was exceptional in his skill, who led from the front, and who helped me to see success in two of the Challenge Modes in Silver, the Gates of the Setting Sun and the Temple of the Jade Dragon. Doing those as a team that came together and getting those silvers was a very rewarding feeling, and I am grateful to have had that experience at least once before the pre-expansion patch came.

I also feel the satisfaction that came from playing well in the Tuesday night runs, of performing all of my tasks as a Warlock with skill, and being well prepared for what was to come. I can look back on that night without a single regret. It was as challenging as I expected, and felt incredibly rewarding when we eventually succeeded.

What those Tuesday runs had was intensity.

Do I have any regrets about not completing the Silvers and having any of the mounts?

Yes, I do. But not about the Challenge Modes themselves, more about why I never got them done in the first place.

The truth is, I never attempted to go for Challenge Modes because I don’t know other people in game well enough to have friends to do them with. That is the reality. In game, I don’t have friends that I play with that would consider me as someone to ask when CM time came around.

I don’t really have many close friends in game. Just one or two people I really enjoy spending time with, and I often feel that I hang on them too much as it is, since, y’know, being my only good friends means I’m always there like a puppy when they log in, “How ya doing, huh? Huh? Wanna play? Huh? Huh?” Nobody likes that shit. Even I know that at the very time I’m doing it.

For folks that only know me from my blog, it may be surprising, or maybe not. I really am all the time how I am on here, and while a small dose of me in written form may be entertaining or endurable, in person all the time I’m told by those who would know it’s tiresome.

I have acquaintances, people I know to nod to, say hi when they log on, enjoy their company and wish I did things with and hung around with, but I lack something to make and keep those kinds of friends. I’m not the guy people call up when they want to go do something. I don’t really know why, over the years I’ve just come to assume I’m too abrasive, too big of an asshole to maintain friendships. I lack social graces. :)

Or maybe, as was said in ‘Hackers’, “I don’t play well with others.”

That is what I regret.

I regret that, in the last two years of Mists of Pandaria, I haven’t made the kind of friends, the connections with other people that would have led to going off and doing some crazy shit like Challenge Modes. Of being the guy asked to come tilt at windmills, to slam our faces into a brick wall and scream in shared frustration and hard-earned triumph.

Phoenix Mounts would have only been a token of a larger and grander thing, something that you can’t achieve in a single week of frantic last minute cramming for the CM exam. Of friendship and shared experiences.

For all of you that, in my attempts this week to help someone forge a CM group, who offered your time, your efforts and your partnership in my endeavors, I want to say to you all, thank you.

Thank you all, truly, for being there for me when I asked for help.

I know I do not know all of you or any of you as well as I would like to, but just to know that there are folks that I talk with here who were willing to come forward and try this insanity with me, that really does mean a lot to me.

It gives me hope that maybe if I pull my head out of my ass, I can get out there and make some friends.

And yes, I know that phoenix mounts were a hell of an incentive to run with me. Bribing people to get together, it’s so WARCRAFT that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

God bless you and keep you safe, but not so safe you don’t get to live in interesting times or have your own wild adventures.

In my guild, I would especially like to thank Monster and Tom for being there for me as my friends, from the very first day that I joined the guild right up until today, despite my being a colossal ass. I will endeavor to provide buttflame amusement and dancing Baloo bear bollocks as long as you’ll continue to have me around.

Good night everyone, and have a wonderful final weekend before the curtain finally draws on the Mists.

Comments 10 Comments »

Just found out two minutes ago, our tank has bailed on the Challenge Modes. Lots of stuff on his schedule, wasn’t able to make it.

Um, is there anyone out there that is a tank and would want to do 7 Challenge Mode heroics with us on Alliance-US?

I just checked all of the emails and tweets I’d had, and I have plenty of healers and DPS but nary a single tank.

I think I left it for far too long, to be honest.

Comments 5 Comments »

wow-challengerphoenixes

Short notice, but here goes.

I have a group that is all set and ready to go for taking on Challenge modes.

The plan is simple; help Suicune’s fiance achieve silver in the Challenge modes, get the Phoenix mount.

We have a tank and three DPS… what we don’t have is a healer, a skilled healer that plays Alliance US that would like to join us and complete these modes with us.

And the biggest catch? We want to start Monday night at 8:30 central time. We’d like to blow through these THIS WEEK. Or make a damn good effort.

Are you willing to take the challenge with us?

Your gear is automatically scaled down to 463, but there are things you can do to maximize what you’ve got. The key is the skills, not the OP gear. Which means I’m in trouble, but I’ll be studying, you can bet your butt.

We’re not worrying so much about going for the Gold, it’s all about those sexy phoenix mounts. We’re deadly serious about those phoenix mounts.

If you’re up for this, please send me an email at thebigbearbutt@gmail.com, let me know.

I’m not kidding when I say we want to be hitting it today, Monday, at 8:30 central time PM if at all possible.

Here is a link to the Challenge mode guide on WoWhead.

Here is a link to the WoW Challenger  website that Suicune says is a badass resource for best gems and itemized pieces, etc.

I understand that Resto Druids and Discipline Priests are kicking the most ass as healers in there, but obviously I’m open to anyone that is up to really go for it.

I hope I hear from you!

Update- it looks like we have a healer, the talented Joonces will be bringing some Resto Shaman goodness on board.

If you have contacted me since I heard from Joonces, I will certainly keep your name close in case something comes up.

I guess now it’s time for hilarity and hi jinks?

Comments 7 Comments »

Punchingismagic

As we near the home stretch, I keep eyeballing the two last characters that I haven’t leveled to 90; my Mage and my Rogue.

The Mage would seem to be the obvious choice to try, since I’ve got an Heirloom Staff from Garrosh I could pass off at 90.

Somehow, I can’t bring myself to do it. It feels so damned painful to even contemplate leveling a squishy ranged caster with long cast-time attacks.

There was something that tipped the scales over to the Rogue, and it wasn’t just that she looks fabulous in Midnight Blue.

Kittiana is my Leatherworker, and in Warlords of Draenor, it has been revealed that a max level Leatherworker will be able to craft a Riding Harness, to obtain a Dustmane Direwolf mount.

If I’m willing to kill dinosaurs for 9999 bones to get a mount that I personally think is butt ugly and will never, ever use, what do you think I’d be willing to do to get a gorgeous Dustmane Wolf with the new WoD wolf model?

Yeah, I’d even be willing to play a Rogue.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved the Rogue class… as a concept. I just always hate them at the start of every expansion, when stats and gear get reset and all their haste is sucked away so they SUCK to play with the most horrendous sit and wait bullshit for Energy Regen.

Nothing says fast killing machine like having to wait for 5 seconds or more before I have enough Energy for every attack, and of course it’s lovely having to sit and eat food to heal after every fight.

I still say speed of attack recovery should be baseline. Haste shouldn’t be a stat, so a character plays slow as shit like you’re in molasses at the beginning of an expansion, and then plays FUN once you get to the very end. Just, funcrushing. Who thinks that way? Who thinks that the way to run a game is to have your character be weak AND slow? Weak is fine at low levels, just not slow.

“Boy, I was slicker than greased owl shit when I killed Deathwing last month. Now I get my ass handed to me fighting a crocodile in a jungle. WTF just happened?”

Anyway. Didn’t mean to break into a rant, just sometimes design decisions make me wonder if the developers actually LIKE players and want us to have fun. I’ve always assumed players having fun was, like, a design goal or something. Maybe I’ve been wrong all these years, who knows.

As you can imagine, if I know going in I’m not going to enjoy the leveling experience, I’m damn well gonna find SOMETHING to have fun with.

I WAS planning on taking my Guild Leaders’ advice (Baddmojo, best damn Rogue i’ve ever seen) and level Assassination. Welp, that went out the window when I got a pair of iLevel 450 Fist of Fate fist weapons, and there isn’t a dagger to be seen.

If the spec is weapon dependant, and I ain’t got the weapons, then I guess I ain’t playin’ it.

Leveling Combat is apparently my destiny. Because Mutilate? Hell no.

Fist of Fate. Nice power for a level 85 starter weapon, isn’t it? But kinda drab. Needs a transmog.

I have a nice Axe, but hell no! I didn’t realize fist weapons were still locked to transmog with fists only.

Hmmm…

What are my options.

Apparently, my Rogue has only one fist weapon in all of her bags… Theldurin’s Fist. Alovely, massive spiked boxing glove you can get as a reward from the ‘Punch Deathwing in the face’ quest in the Badlands.

I kept it because it looked awesome, but sadly you can’t use it to transmog.

At least… it USED to be you couldn’t!

They didn’t… holy shit, they did! They changed it!

Awwwyeah….

A pair of massive spiked boxing gloves, can it get any better than that?

I dare say it can.

It should go without saying that the complete Dungeon Set 2 that Cassie and I worked together to get, me on my Rogue and she on her Paladin, are what I will wear for gear.

But what if we enchant those boxing gloves with the rainbow-hued Windsong?

Oh. Oh my.

Oh, that’s freaking hilarious!

I swing into action, and I shit you not, it looks like I’m punching my enemies to death with rainbow sparkles!

That’s it, time to go full Brony on their asses. “Friendship is magic, bitch! Be my friend or I’ll beat you to death!”

Suddenly, playing my Rogue looks a whole lot more inviting.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to go make friends with the natives of the Jade Forest. Somehow I just KNOW they’re gonna love me.

Comments 5 Comments »

Slim Pickens Eat Your Heart Out

Slim Pickens Eat Your Heart Out

For many years, I’ve played World of Warcraft more as a dedicated but solo gamer than as a raider, hardcore or otherwise.

I say dedicated because, to paraphrase an old Marine Corps line, I’ve got more time in the shitter in Grizzly Hills than you’ve got in the game, sunshine. For a given value of ‘you’, of course.

I say solo gamer because while I’ve been in great guilds and known a lot of cool people, I log in, do my own thing and log the hell out on my own time. Coordinating things with other people on the internet is something that mostly happens to other people.

Which is funny, since these days that’s my day job. Scheduling other people tasks to do when I want them done.

Ah, but that’s a job, and the game is (in my headspace) meant to be fun, so maybe that’s why I hate scheduling shit with other people in game. It’s supposed to be fun, not a job where people have to show up and clock in and put in their time. It’s a game, fun, crazy, we’re being wacky over here, spontaneity and shit, y’know?

For the longest time, I didn’t raid. When I did raid, I did what raiding can be done by a bunch of goofballs who put friendship and playing with family and spending time arranging everything to suit everyone’s schedule over downing bosses.

Newsflash; it’s a lot of fun if you don’t care if you ever kill any internet bosses, but if you’d like to see some content or get some loot, it’s not really a blueprint to craft an engine of boss killing destruction.

It’s the Hello Kitty of raiding, and that can be all right. But sometimes, I found myself hungering for more.

But I refuse to compromise my principles. The main principle being life is too short to waste it spending time gritting my teeth and pretending I can’t hear the AMAZING ASSHOLE that is talking in vent right now, just so I can kill shit and get shinies.

Way too short. WAY too short.

Remember back when Blizzard was going to make it mandatory that real names were revealed when you posted on their official forums?

I know why they relented. It’s easy and obvious.

Someone at Blizzard finally ran a progression raid and realized if that forum name shit went live, people in raid teams all over the world would be taking planes, trains and automobiles to hunt down that ONE ASSHOLE in their raid team and kill him. Or her, or her, let’s not discriminate.

Principles. It ain’t much, but it’s there.

Years I’ve spent playing this game. Years playing everything I could do, but stopping short of progression raiding.

Whatever the current raid tier would be, I’d usually be found about two steps back. Or more, lol, Outlands and endless Karazhan runs I’m looking at you.

This last year, all that changed. I’m in a guild of generally awesome people, and eventually I was invited to be a warm body to fill a gap made when someone with actual SKILL left the progression raid team, and somehow I have clawed my way into sticking around.

They haven’t booted my ass yet, but there is always tomorrow.

The way things are looking, I might even still be raiding with Team Wanda when level 100 and 20 person Mythic raids roll around. That’s my plan, anyway. they may have other ideas.

It helps that the raid schedule is one that I can commit to and maintain happy family wavelengths.

So. All those years as a filthy casual (as some seem determined to keep calling it), and now over a year of killing shit on the front lines. Well, the reasonably close to current lines.

It’s a total change in perspective.

Here’s the deal.

I’m not in a raid team that is, like, farming Heroic Garrosh kills or some crazy shit.

At the start of summer, the 10 man team added a flood of new people, converted to raiding 25’s in anticipation of Mythic in Warlords, and have gone from a complete reboot to farming Heroic Siege through General Nazgrim, and knocking hard on Malkorok’s noggin. That ain’t too bad when you consider that aside from the core, the team formed over summer, a normally dead time for playing.

Good people. Still that one on vent, but you know, it’s not that bad. I just remind myself that even in the Marines we had to deal with that 10%, and in a 25 person team, only one on vent means we’re ahead of the curve on asshats. Hur hur Ahead of the Curve. Yeah, sorry.

My item level on my raiding main Ursinerate is 580, compared to my non-raiding characters like Beartrap, who even with lots of Flex items and drops from Ordos is only at 557.

In the old days, Beartrap would be my fantastically geared main, my ‘woah this is Keanu god-level Matrix type shit’ main, and it would have required tons of time investment from raiding a lot of Flex with friends, crafting, reputation grinds, etc.

The other thing to consider…. normally, by the time I would get a character like Beartrap to where he is now, it would be the very tail end of that Tier of gear. I would have gone through most of the expansion with the early range of gear, patiently working up to a stronger set, so that just when I finally qualified for an entry level position on a raid team, they were all bored with clearing all heroic modes and quit until the next expansion.

Not so as a progression raider. There is no delay, no year-long ramp up.

As soon as new raid content comes out, you tear into it. You start learning it, and wiping on it, but you get victories and loot.

As a raider, you start getting the very strong gear right at the beginning when the new content is fresh and tasty, and there are fewer folks competing for the rare spawns.

What I want to tell you is, I had no idea for all of those years what a huge impact that has on quality of life in the game. Just, no idea.

Yeah, I know you can imagine how ‘ooh neat’ it must be, so leet, very cool, who gives a shit. But I’m trying to say, don’t write off raiding if you’ve never really tried it, ESPECIALLY now that the normal raids will all be open to cross-server raiding right out of the gate.

I want you to open your mind to the possibilities if you’ve never done this before. OpenRaid is an excellent community of people that have cross-server raids of all kinds, from achievement runs in old content all the way up to regular raiding of current stuffs. If you can’t find a pre-forming raid with the perfect times for you, try starting your own, and even say up front what days/times you’ll go and if you’re looking for a raid leader if that role scares you. Give it a shot.

It’s been over a year of my having one character that was a progression raider and the rest being my alts.

Such a difference

Challenges are good in the game, but having strong gear means that when you’re playing on your own, you can go do something you could never do before without finding a bunch of friends that have the time AND the interest in joining you right then.

This last year, as new content came out I was able to charge right in on one character, while the others had to do the usual build up.

Here are some of the differences that really stood out.

LFuckingR

To try and get desired loot upgrades, I would have to queue for LFR on my alts. Before the multi-queue situation, it would take at least 30 minutes of waiting before I could get into just one raid, and then you never knew if it would be at the beginning or in the middle, and remember what I said about life being too short for assholes? Omigod.

LFR is a social experiment designed to prove that there is no bottom to the lowest common denominator, that negative numbers truly exist. I’ve seen good people log off the game, hands shaking they were so upset at what went down in an LFR. Good people who swore, “Fuck this game, and fuck those people.”

Nobody needs that in their life.

In a scheduled raid with my normal raid team, there is none of that. NONE of that. Plus, there is no pressure to raid at any other time. No thoughts of, “I really should be queued for LFR right now, I need to try for that weapon to drop, my 502 is so crappy. I should be trying to get more Legendary item drops, ugh, I need all the wings.”

Scheduled raiding with friends not only eliminates that asshole factor, but it frees up ALL of your other time to do whatever the hell you want except raid. Raiding and possible upgrades and team fun is already covered, so go farm dinosaurs for 3 hours guilt free!

Progress Matching Pace

When you’re raiding and getting current gear drops, your power level stays strong in comparison to your new foes.

New content comes out with parts designed to still be challenging six months after it is released. It’s expected to take most players several months, maybe longer before their gear becomes powerful enough to trivialize all the new stuff.

When you’re raiding and getting those drops, the grinding stuff is already trivial. Blow through it in a few minutes, get it out of the way, move on to the fun stuff. It’s the hard stuff that is now a legitimate challenge and fun to do. You get to leap right into it.

A few examples? Soloing Primal Devilsaurs and all the other dinos on the Isle of Giants, hunting down and soloing the Zandalari Warbringers, going back and soloing achievements or farming transmog gear in old raids that are still sort of not that old, taking out rares on the Timeless Isle like Garnia for the Ruby Droplet, all without having to wait for someone else to join you just to survive. Soloing old raids like Eye of Eternity and Tempest Keep each week for mount drops.

Power Overwhelming

It also means that when you only have a few friends to run with, there are more possibilities in what you can do together.

It was just a week ago that Cassie, the Cub and myself went and completed Blackrock Descent, from start to finish, just the three of us. There was I think once or twice someone died, but the end result was never in doubt, and it wasn’t all that hard either. We all had a good time, took our time looking around, and got some nice transmog gear to boot.

So yeah, good gear is fun, it changes the game in almost every way. And raiding with a regular team of people you know is a real game changer, because it takes so much of the stress out of raiding through LFR and having a new week reset hanging over your head. And having a raid already scheduled means you don’t have to worry about what you should be doing but don’t want to, you can just do what you feel like.

Do what feels good for you.

Looking Ahead

There is one other thing raiding regularly does as well.

It gives me something to look forward to each week, something to steer towards. Whether it be food, flasks, farming new transmog to display at the raid, or whatever. Having that raid coming up gives you something to look forward to in the coming week that keeps you logging in and staying current with whats up. There continues to be a purpose to playing.

And as long as you don’t have the ENTIRE current raid and all of it’s achievements on farm, you continue to have a challenge to strive to overcome.

Blah Blah Blah already

We’re coming up fast on Warlords of Draenor.

We’ve got a character level reset, gear reset, everything reset coming up.

Now is the time to consider, if you’ve never raided before… would you like to? If you would, what’s holding you back?

Is it not finding anything that works with your schedule? Maybe you can figure out one or two days where you’ve got some time you could commit to having free, and then look for the right fit on OpenRaid?

Is it not liking how your current main plays, and not wanting to raid with him or her? Warlords gives you that perfect opportunity to dump the old and begin anew!

It’s Orange Fishwrap

Whatever you do, I hope that you try to do one thing before Warlords.

I hope that you try to find some raid group that you can join that does Flex or better, and that can kill Garrosh, and do it before the pre-expansion patch comes around.

Maybe Blizzard will change their mind, but the last word was, once the pre-expansion patch is released, your character’s very first Garrosh kill (on each difficulty setting) is a guaranteed drop of an Heirloom weapon appropriate for your class and selected spec, an Heirloom that will scale from level 90 all the way to 100.

Don’t discount how nice that will be for questing when the expansion comes out. You will have plenty of other gear to worry about replacing, but wouldn’t it be real nice to know that when you finally hit level 100, and face having to attain Silver on a challenge mode just to enter five person dungeons, you’ll at least have a strong weapon to do it with?

I’m being totally honest here. Being able to just swing around Pandaria and bully Warbringers to farm the dinosaur mounts whenever I wanted, that was crazy. And yes, I did get all the mounts, something I doubt I ever could have done if I had never gotten back into raiding.

Now I’m farming dinosaurs on the Isle of Giants, to get 9999 bones. And I’m getting a thousand bones a day, so at the end of ten days, no problem.

I can absolutely assure you there is no freaking way I would ever do this if I had to try to find people willing to farm three times the number of these dinosaurs so we could all share out enough bones to accomplish it. Talk about a grindfest horror show, blech!

For those of you who have always raided all along…. yeah, I’m loving it too.

But never forget, raiding doesn’t give you an excuse to be an elitist asshat. The people who don’t actually raid mostly don’t do it because they can’t find the time, not because they lack the skill.

Raiding success does not grant anyone the right to be a douche. Fight the stereotype. Be a progression raider that’s cool and friendly.

All right, you can still do it from the back of your Heroic Garrosh kill mount.

Comments 6 Comments »

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