I’m back in World of Warcraft where I belong.

It was a cold, lonely two days unsubbed without Azeroth to call my home.

I’ve come to the realization, and it’s a somewhat surprising one to me, that over the years I’ve gone from being a solo player to being a raider.

I don’t have to raid all the time, and I don’t have to raid serious progression, but I play the game first and foremost to have fun times with friends doing stuff together.

In World of Warcraft, that means raids.

I enjoy pet battles, and flying around looking for ore, and putzing around leveling alts I know I’m never going to play at max level. That’s still good fun.

There will forever be something magical in riding a dragon, soaring through the sky over mountains and green valleys, scanning the ground below looking for something to kill. Death from above!

For me, the true gaming pleasure boils down to either looking forward to (and preparing for) the next raid, or being IN the raid.

I log in and look at my in-game friends list, and that song from Frozen runs through my head, but the lyrics are changed. What I hear is;

Do you wanna kill a dragon?
Come on, let’s go and raid!
I never see you logging on
Come on get on
Don’t you want to come and play?

Yeah, I’m very excited to be back in World of Warcraft. It’s raid night, baby!

Tonight is supposed to be the first night our raid team in Band of Misfits begins 25-person raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Will we still be called Team Wanda? Inquiring minds want to know, this is serious business!

The first raid will be tonight on Wednesday, and there is a second scheduled night each week on Sunday.

Doesn’t seem like much, is it? Two nights a week to do raiding.

It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to give me something to look forward to. There will be good times, fun conversations, people joshing with each other in vent while internet dragons are battled.

When it’s over, there will be reasons to go out and get stuff to make more flasks, some food, get some Valor to upgrade things maybe or seek out new items in old content to build a new transmog set to wear to the next raid.

There is one truth we all know by now. In order to get a group of folks together on a consistent basis, there has to be a reward those people want. Fun in groups gets most people there the first few nights, but self-interest and the carrot of an actual reward gets people coming back time after time.

A rare mount, a pet drop, that item for transmog, and above all else a better gear upgrade, these things are motivational. Sure, we all want fun, but we also want loot.

That is why raids are going to continue being the thing that brings people together. So long as there is a potential upgrade or achievement or shiny new thing to seek, you’ll get the seekers banding together.

I’m sure some of the folks tonight are only coming because they hope to get gear upgrades, and if it wasn’t with us it’d be with someone else.

I’m sure others are just bored and here is something to do. Maybe they’ll last, maybe not.

Still more might be starting with us tonight because there is nothing in it for them today, but it’s an investment of time now to ensure that when the Garrosh heirlooms get a higher droprate they’ll be right there to get a shot every week.

And of course, most of the core team are doing this now in the hopes of a smooth, speedy transition into the new Mythic raid format once Warlords of Draenor pops it’s cork.

Me… I resubbed, and I’m going tonight, and I’m going to do my damndest to be there every Wednesday and Sunday for raid because I finally got it through my head… I just like playing with friends, and the folks in Team Wanda? They’re my friends, and I like to hang out with them.

Same with Tuesday nights. I’ve been priviliged to run with some of the fine Horde folks in Elitist Jerks in flex runs for the last several weeks, and you can imagine my surprise in finding out they’re a bunch of great folks, too.

Who knew fun friendly folks that know what they’re doing still play this game? From the drama on social media you’d think it was dead. Amazing.

People can bitch about whatever they want to elsewhere, or get enthusiastic about another game, or whatever. It doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me, and it doesn’t change my experience in the game that I do play with the people I like playing with.

World of Warcraft remains a great game. It’s controls are smooth as silk for me, there is a ton of interesting and enjoyable content to play through, and there are still many things I’d love to do, most of which takes a group to do and wouldn’t involve rewards or upgrades for other people, which is why I haven’t done them yet. :)

I remain hopeful and enthusiastic, however. Even the worst night playing with friends is a damn good time.

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Did you ever look at Minecraft videos or hear your friends gushing about it, and thought “I’d totally love to play a game where I can craft stuff and build things, but it’s all fantasy land and primitive stuff. I’m not into that right now.”?

Maybe your friends are all up into Minecraft, hear your words and start telling you how you can TOTALLY play Minecraft with modern weapons and high technology and all this super awesome stuff, you just have to load special mods and make sure everyone you play with runs the same mods and know which ones are the cool ones and understand how they work and make sure yuo’ve got the right update for your game version….” and you want to scream at them to shut up, you’ve GOT a job?

Maybe you’re still on board with the Minecraft because it is such a great game, and then they tell you that you just have to make sure you’ve got the latest and greatest Java updated and installed, because it’s all Java based and lags bad, but it’s still cool, and that was the deal breaker that made you run screaming into the night?

Well, this isn’t that game.

This isn’t a Minecraft mod. It’s not a Minecraft anything.

What it is, is Star-Made.

In summary, it’s a crafting game similar in feel to Minecraft, but built from the foundations up to be a universe-spanning starship and space station game.

Its single player, and it’s multiplayer. It’s also in my home experience completely lag free.

And at the moment, it’s a rock-solid free to play Alpha. Free to play as in “free to play, no money, no cash store, no microtransactions, no bullshit”.

You download it, you play it, you submit bug tickets if you find something wrong. So far I’ve played two solid days with my son, and we’ve found nothing wrong with it at all. I’m looking, I want to help with the bug reports, so far I’ve got nothing.

I also bought it. Right now it’s a pre-order of $6, and you know what, after the weekend I’ve had playing with it, I feel like I ripped them off. They didn’t even make me pay it, I wanted to, and I still feel like I ripped them off only paying $6 because I wanted to help.

Freaking game is amazing.

I’m not going to sell it to you anymore, you’re (mostly) adults, you can watch Youtube videos as well as anyone. you can see for yourself if it looks interesting.

What I’m going to do is lead you through two days of gaming bliss with my son.

Here is the tagline for the damn game; My son just turned to me a few minutes ago after we both logged off and he said to me, “I really had a great time playing Star-Made with you this weekend, it was wonderful.”

That’s a tagline.

Here are a few links in sequence to give you everything I’ve used all weekend to get this thing going and answer all my questions on the fly.

The link to Star-Made the game.

A link to a Youtube video on how to set up a local server and connect using LogMeIn Hamachi. Worked perfect for me.

A link to a basic video on how to group weapons on your ship so they’re more effective.

A link to the Star-Made Wiki, which has answered most of the questions I’ve come across, mostly about Faction Modules so we could make our own faction with a name (The Destroyers) and claim a captured space station as our invulnerable home-base.

There. Those are all the tools I’ve used to have tons of fun, so now let me get on with the recap.

I never heard of Star-Made before, but my son loves watching the Yoggscast videos on Youtube, and he started watching a series from June of 2013 (yes, a year ago!) that they did about Star-Made.

“Dad, I’d love to play this game, and it’s free to play.”

I’ve heard this before, and as usual, I began to do my research on just how ‘free’ this is going to be. Yoggscast is usually really good about the games they spotlight, so I’m curious. He’s in the same office playing side by side with me, so I get to hear all these videos. I’ve been hearing the Yoggscasters playing together in the game for a few hours. They sound like they’re having fun.

On the other hand, it was free to play a year ago. What’s up with it now? Does it even exist, and if it does, why have I heard nothing?

A million and a half people have watched the Yoggscast video about it, you’d think I’d have heard something from someone.

I found the Star-Made website, downloaded the game, installed it, fired it up. Plays fine. I installed it on my son’s computer, plays fine.

I let the Cub go nuts on it, and went back to reading back issues of Ultimate Spider-Man.

He logged in, and the game starts you floating in your space suit next to a big Trading Post Space Station (shaped like a hell of a long cigar, distinctive silhouette to find when you’re thousands of kilometers away), with $25,000 bucks in your pocket and all the basic parts in your inventory needed to build a ship. It runs you through a tutorial, and then you’re free to do… well, whatever.

He did the tutorial, built a ship from scratch having a ton of fun putting all the pieces together exactly like blocks from Minecraft, linked weapons, attached his scavenging cannon (which you use to mine out asteroids, space stations and planets from inside your ship) and then moved off to starting mining a nearby asteroid for resources to buy more ship parts and armor from the Trading Post.

Five minutes later a swarm of fast-moving pirates pounced on him and destroyed his ship, causing him to lose his ship, a small amount of cash, and respawn next to the Trading Post where his spawn point was set.

Where he got to watch as the pirates noticed him, came swarming after him there, and killed him again.

Keep in mind, this was with enemy AI set to ‘easy’.

So I found the option in settings to reset your universe, wiping everything, and let him start over, hopefully with pirates spawning MUCH farther away so he has a chance to build something with armor.

I went out to the TV, popped in the first Sherlock Holmes movie starring Robert Downey, Jr and started to enjoy the snarky asides with Jude Law. I love the layers of that film.

The Cub comes out about 30 minutes later to tell me the pirate swarm happened again and he lost everything, so thank you very much but he’s choosing to rage quit.

That’s what he called it. Rage quit. Most polite rage quit I’VE ever seen. It was more of a zen retreat. “I choose to withdraw my forces, good day to you sir.”

Off he went to bed, highly frustrated.

I stayed up to investigate.

I was certain there HAD to be some trick to the pirates, otherwise who would play the game? Kinda hard to get anywhere if a swarm of pirates mobs you 15 minutes into every game.

I logged in myself, made a ship, moved about 100 yards towards an asteroid and suddenly a small fleet of five pirate ships appeared and destroyed me.

I felt violated. I’d just spent some lovely time hand-crafting my ship, and then boom!

I re-spawned, and I was so close I got to watch them salvaging the ruined remains of my jaunty craft. Then they turned and blasted me from space. Again. In my space suit.

Well, that’s just bullshit.

I searched the good old internet looking for ways to turn the pirates off or make them actually easy, or something.

The first thing I found was the video about making better clusters of weapons. So I tried that.

The pirates thought my little ship with my itty bitty wittle anti-matter cannon were cute, in the seconds before they destroyed me. I couldn’t afford any damn armor, so they were shooting a clay pigeon. Also, outnumbered much?

Finally I found a page on the Star-Made Wiki that detailed the server.cfg file, and showed one of the lines was to control enemy spawning.

One problem. Server.cfg files would be for a server, right? So to do this I’d have to run a server. OMG time to vapor lock.

But wait, I searched for how to set up a Star-Made server, found the Youtube link above, and I already had LogMeIn Hamachi installed from a previous attempt at networking Minecraft.

I followed the instructions. I ran the server startup on my computer, little window showed up. What, that’s it? Apparently so. Server running on my computer, just like that.

I started the game through the launcher to actually play, selected Network, then copied my IPv4 address from the LogMeIn window as directed, pasted it into my single player Star-Made network as shown in the video, boom, I logged my game into my server. Looked at the little server window, showed me right there online.

I went over to the Cub’s computer, fired up LogMeIn Hamachi, logged into the network with my computer, started the single player Star-Made game… and used my common sense to type in the network address from my computer instead of his, since my cmoputer is where the server is running. I swear, I almost typed in HIS IPv4 address instead of mine to try to connect to MY computer. Geez.

Hey look at that, he’s there right next to me next to the Trading Post.

Just like that, five minutes in setup and we were LAN linked on a home Star-Made private server using LogMeIn Hamachi. Which is also free.

That’s when I logged us both out of Star-Made, went to my install directory, found the folder for the server, and used a text editor to change the server.cfg file from ENEMY_SPAWNING = true //Enables enemy spawing to instead show as ENEMY_SPAWNING = false //Enables enemy spawing.

Started the server back up, logged my game in, and started playing.

From that moment to this, I have never seen a pirate ship again. Little bastards.

This morning, the Cub got up and I introduced him to the world of multi-player Star-Made on a private server with no pirate ships.

We both logged in, and spawned beside each other automatically. We both made ships, moved out and messed with asteroids.

No pirates.

I saw a space station floating nearby to the Trading Post, so I flew over towards it.

I promptly got blown out of the sky.

Turns out, setting the server.cfg file to stop enemy spawning does not prevent pirate-faction-controlled SPACE STATIONS from being in the game.

With turrets. Armed turrets. Turrets armed with anti-matter cannon.

SHORT RANGE anti-matter cannon.

It’s the best of all worlds for a father and son. No sneaky pirate ships to ambush us while we slowly craft our ships and fortify our bases and harvest resources, and armed space stations filled with loot to test our ship weapons on. It’s so much more fun when the targets shoot back.

The Cub felt sorry for me that I was blown up, but I simply shook my fist at the stars and began construction of the grand ship Revenge.

I am certain that I am the first person that ever considered naming his ship the Revenge. The very first.

The Revenge is a good ship. It’s the ship I’m still piloting now. I started with two layers of hardened hull armor around my core, followed by multiple stacked rocket launchers, anti-matter cannon and scavenger cannon. Then I covered it with more hardened hull armor. Then we scavenged a derelict space station, and I covered the ship with shield modules.

See, what we found was that there are plenty of space stations out there that are unarmed, and plexiglass windows sell for a mint at a Trading Post. A little scavenging without having to worry about pirates netted us a fine haul of booty to sell at the Trading Post, and the post sold us plenty of hardened hull armor and weapons.

The problem I had was visibility. My ship core was in the middle of all the armor, so my view looked like, well, this;

Starmade-piratestation1

All those weird green angles and shadows are hull armor showing around and in my view, because I’m looking through the hull.

That picture shows our second run against the pirate-controlled space station. You can adjust the ratio of your guns so if you want a bigger radius of explosion, you can reduce something else… like reload speed. Or range. Or damage.

I upped the range to keep me out of the turret’s anti-matter envelope, increased the reload time, and fired my missiles as long shots. Kind of like dropping rocks in their gravity well, they couldn’t reach me from their fixed positions with beam weapons, and I proceeded to teach the pirates that all those years of reading David Weber books about Honor Harrington didn’t go to waste.

The view was annoying, so I did some reading, and found that by adding a cockpit module to the hull I could move my viewpoint elsewhere on my ship… multiple elsewheres, and I could flip between them with the arrow keys.

So I was able to put cockpits centered between my various gun systems, and get really nice views. Without jaggies.

Starmade-openstation1

That is a view from my ship, while floating inside a captured space station we are converting into a Death Star, with my sons’ ship floating just outside.

Orientation bothering you? Just remember, the enemy gate is down. Only orientation that matters.

After a bit, my son did something to his guns that knocked his scavenging cannon out of sync with his scavenging computer. He wasn’t sure what to do to fix it because his computer was in the middle of his ship, so he’d have to take half the thing apart to get to it.

This led to my finding out I could save a blueprint of my ship to the server catalog, and the game put a dollar amount on it. All he had to do was get close to a Trading Post, open the catalog, have enough money to buy it, and poof! Instant copy of my ship. The Trading Post did NOT have to have every block used in the design in inventory before selling it, the dollar amount bought the whole thing, fabricated and complete.

So the very next pirate space station we found, there was the Revenge, and the Revenge Mark II. I’d added a computer AI-controlled turret to the top since my first run.

Starmade-piratestation2

That is me scavenging the ship with my cannon, while the Cub is in a duplicate of my ship off the port bow firing his scavenging cannon clear through the station superstructure.

So what, I like big guns. Really big guns.

Like I said, it’s ugly, it’s a big green box. I used plenty of angle pieces and green lights to dress it up so it looks like a ship, even if it does have the lines of a tugboat.

And the acceleration to match, damn but she’s a slow beast.

We’ve found that Navigation around the star sectors is pretty easy. The display shows you what sector you are in, and as long as you keep a journal of the sector coordinates of cool places you’ve found, you can bring up the navigation menu and create a waypoint to that location when you want to go back later. We’ve used it a ton to travel all over space roaming at will without fear of getting lost or being unable to find each other.

It’s always nice after a day of raiding to now how to get back home.

The Cub is working on a pet project of his, he is building a scale model Star Destroyer. With AI-controlled turrets.

I’m working on building a Death Star. And I intend to build a carrier, with AI-controlled ships. I have been looking into it, and I think it is possible to have AI-controlled small fighters as parasites to your capital ship.

We’re going to take our time, have fun building an empire, and when the time is right we’ll modify that little server.cfg file and let new pirates spawn in to join the party. See how they like it when we can hunt them back in ships that have actual armor and shields.

Oh, and in the blueprint catalog, the ships the pirates use are in there too. So you can buy them and check out their design, suckers are fast, have strong shields, but popguns for weapons. No missiles. If you have a chance to armor and shield your ship before they swarm you, you might even be able to take them down.

This has been a long post, and I’m not covering everything because who knows if this sounds like your thing. If it does, you’ll find out soon enough, everything you could want to know is out there, usually in a Youtube video.

Here are some serious incentives to try it.

It’s free.

It’s quick to set up, especially for a local network.

It’s well-documented on Youtube and on the Star-Made Wiki.

There are many multi-player servers out there you can log into to try, most with actual experienced players that I’m sure will be happy to show you a thing or two… and teach all about the importance of factions and faction modules and forming alliances and having a home-base you can dock your ship in to be invulnerable to attack.

You can make your own custom-designed star ships, seek out new life and new civilizations, and nuke them from orbit.

Great game. Just, great game.

I hope that you have a chance to try it with your kids, or with your friends, and see what it’s like. Building your own ships immediately and going after each other in dogfights, having design decisions MATTER to ship handling and weapon stats, it’s just an amazing feeling.

FYI, this isn’t Eve Online. Try it yourself, but just because it has spacecraft building, space stations, PvP, factions and pirates, and an economy and Trading Posts doesn’t make it Eve. It’s definitely it’s own thing.

You just gotta try it. You’ll see.

And say goodbye to the rest of your weekend.

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If you’re ever looking for some great World of Warcraft or Druid-related items, I strongly recommend you check out the Etsy store that blogger Euphyley has for her crafts at Warcrafts By Euphyley.

Euphyley writes great guides about rare spawns and Hunter pets in Warcraft at WoW Rare Spawns (go figure) but she’s also an incredibly gifted artist, and these are simply wonderful.

A lot of the items are related to Druids, so this is right in our wheelhouse, but there are also some Warlock, Shaman and Mage themed pets and even items from other games (like 1 UP mushroom earrings) and lots of Hearthstone and Pet Battling jewelry.

Here are a few pictures of some of the amazing things in her store, so you can see I’m not kidding, these handcrafted items are truly unique and quite beautiful.

DruidMalorne minimoonkin VoidwalkerNecklace

There are many more, and they are all just as lovely as these, so why not check them out?

Still not convinced?

One word.

MURLOCS.

Warcrafts by Euphyley

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Since WoW is now dead to me, at least until I totally cave in and resubscribe because I am cracking up and can’t take much more, I have lots of free time on my hands.

I spent some of it tonight fixing my music playlist.

I go to the gym most every morning, and I use my iPhone and the Amazon Cloud Player to manage my music because fuck iTunes.

Some songs get too burned into the brain to keep getting the blood thumping, and others are momentary flashes of fascination before I lose interest, but for right now, this is my absolute ultimate “just hit random and go’ music selection.

Since this is me, I have infested my playlist with my own personal sense of humor and touch of hell. As an example, I derive great joy from making Nickelback rub up against both Rage Against the Machine AND Skrillex. I like to think Nickelback wakes up each morning screaming from my own personal brand of voodoo hoodoo, and that RATM and Skrillex would be getting together and plot some kind of vicious blanket party except, you know, they hate each other too much to drop the fashionable scowls.

See if you can spot some of my other “I may love this song but I’m going to make the artist feel dirty” song arrangements.

It doesn’t matter what order they’re in anyway, I always run my playlist on random, so don’t read anything into which is top or bottom. They’re all evensies.

Keep in mind, I’m an old bastard, and I really don’t care if you like these or approve of MY liking them or what. This shit gets me moving, and at my age, that’s a freaking miracle. Also, I am long past the age where I worry what people would think of my music choices. My music choices should all be grateful I choose to like them, it’s like bestowing a blessing upon them from on high. They’ve been anointed, and that leaves room for more beer.

Do you hit the gym or work out and are on the hunt for something new to freshen your playlist tracks? Something here ought to get it done. If it doesn’t, you’re dead.

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
Rihanna – Where Have You Been
Within Temptation – Faster
David Guetta (feat Sia) – Titanium
Rihanna – We Found Love
Lana Del Rey – Summertime Sadness (fast remix)
Nemesea – In Control
Nonono – Fire Without a Flame
Dragonforce – Through the Fire and the Flame
Audioslave – Like A Stone
Agent Provacateur – Red Tape (from the Jackal soundtrack. The Jackal. It was a movie with Bruce Willis, damnit, sue me)
Shakira – She Wolf
David Guetta (feat Sia) – She Wolf
Nonono – Like the Wind
Havana Brown – Warrior
Nonono – Jungle
The Cranberries – Zombie
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Lady Gaga – Applause
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Nickelback – Side of a Bullet
Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of
Avicii – Wake Me Up
Nonono – Pumpin Blood
Christina Aguilera – Fighter
Eminem – Lose Yourself
One Republic – Counting Stars
Avicii – Hey Brother
nicki minaj – Super Bass
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Of Monsters and Men – King and Lionheart
Katy Perry – Wide Awake
Ke$ha – Die Young
Katy Perry – Roar
Pussycat Dolls  When I Grow Up
Veronicas – Untouched
Vast – Touched
The Crüxshadows – Eye of the Storm
Rihanna – Disturbia
The Offspring – Lightning Rod
Dragonforce – Fury of the Storm
Namie Amuro – Hide & Seek
Concrete Blonde – Tomorrow, Wendy
Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down
The Offspring – the Noose

I put together every one of these that I could find in a shared playlist on Grooveshark, to help make it easier to try them out. Nonono isn’t on there that I could see, and neither was Namie Amuro, who does the song Hide & Seek on the famous Blind Machinima video. I was shocked by how many were, so hopefully the playlist there works for you if you’re interested in listening to any that are unfamiliar to you.

I am always on the hunt for more pounding songs for my workout, so if your personal favorites aren’t here (and I can’t imagine that tehy would be), please share them in the comments or on Twitter.

Have a great weekend!

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The final countdown has begun. I have less than 24 hours remaining before my paid World of Warcraft subscription goes dark.

Cassie frankly doesn’t think it’s going to happen, and I’m kind of curious if I can manage it myself.

A little voice in the back of my head tells me, “You know, you KNOW that a week after your account closes, Blizzard will announce new in-game rewards based on continuous subscription time… and you’ll have gone from ten years to zero. Don’t do it.”

Last night, I decided to log into each of my characters to find that one special place, mount and pet to pose with and take pictures of before logging out for what might be the last time.

For every character I have leveled to max over the years, I have some special place that springs immediately to mind with images of great battles, raids or fun with friends and family. At least I did until I reached my last character, Chainblade, my poor abandoned Death Knight.

Poor Chainblade. I created my Death Knight to play with my son, and we spent a good bit of time together in Cataclysm on the long march to 85. When Mists of Pandaria came out, many of my other characters traveled on, but Chainblade was left behind. He never took the magic airboat ride.

As my son’s Death Knight Hailsword adventured deep into the mist-shrouded pandaland, Chainblade became a pet battle alt. His duty orders sent him to spend a long, LONG time standing next to Major Payne, where he would briefly appear each day to engage the good Major in pet battle before returning to his tent for the rest of the afternoon.

Chainblade was the character that joined my son in completing the daily missions to gain a Winterspring Frostsaber, so that mount is the one that Chainblade shall always be riding for me. I was happy to see that he still carries with him a photograph of his cub’s first toy. That brought a smile to my face.

But what location resonated with the Death Knight? I could certainly log out next to Major Payne, that would feel proper considering the length of time spent there, but it doesn’t half speak of adventure, now does it?

In fact, Chainblade spent so many months in brief daily battle with Major Payne that I didn’t create a story for him so much as had the head canon build up for me.

You see, once the Lich King was finally defeated, the great wars of Chainblade’s time were over. He had battled valiently and been true to his cause, but once the grand threat was removed, what place could there be for the dead in the lands of the hot blooded and quick?

With his days of glory behind him, Chainblade the worgen Death Knight retired to the Argent Tournament in Icecrown, near to the scenes of his past glories, and there he spends his days lost in his memories of friends and fallen foes from the past, and continuing on from day to day in a kind of timeless, changeless rhythm amidst the comfortable trappings of his life on the front lines.

Chainblade has his tent pitched near to Major Payne’s tower at the Tournament, where he has been for several years now. He’s a familiar sight to the vendors there as he goes about the same time-worn ritual, each day the same as the last.

At midday when the pale sun is at it’s zenith he will emerge from his tent, vigorously sniff the air, and then light one of his foul-smelling Nerubian cigars. Once he has it going well, he pulls out his old campaign chair and sits beside his fire to enjoy the feel of the weak sun on his fur.

As the light slowly begins to move, tracing stark patterns across the face of the Storm Peak mountains, he relaxes in his chair and sips his kungaloosh. He drinks to forget, even as the taste of the kungaloosh mixed with a dash of quinidine bark reminds him of the times he drank it in the hot jungles of Sholozar Valley to keep his undead heart moving slow and sluggish in the quickening hot climate.

When night finally descends in full and the lights of the Tournament are aglow, he gets up and wanders his way over to visit with Major Payne, and watch as a fresh crop of hopeful challengers bring their pets, eager to show off their skills to the master trainer.

He sips his drink and watches through the dusk hours while the natural drama of victory or defeat goes on around him, untouched by it all but still feeling something, some small sense that he could have been any of them, with a bright future ahead, and with a life where such a small thing as a lone pet battle victory or defeat could seem like the most important thing in his entire young life.

Then the day has finally ended, and the youthful challengers all run off to celebrate or drink away their disappointment and tell stories of the grand adventure they have had, and their hopes for more excitement in the days and weeks to come.

Chainblade sets down his drink and cigar upon the steps of the old, cold tower and faces off with the good Major for the last battle of the night, two old warhorses replaying an old and familiar game. He takes his victory with the ease of long practice, using the same tactics as has worked each month and even year that has slipped on by.

Picking up his drink and cigar once more, he gives the Major a long-toothed grin, and retires to his tent, letting the moments of the day slip away to blend into the long line of unchanging and forgotten fallen dawns behind him.

Kind of sad, really. He’s a Death Knight, he shouldn’t be sitting around molding away by a campfire, he should have one last, bright charge against a valiant foe left in him!

I decided to resurrect Chainblade, call him up out of his retirement and make him shake loose the cobwebs from the rut he was in, give him one last hellride through mystery and adventure.

Chainblade had always been Unholy, so it was really time for a change. The tired old wardog needed to learn everything all over again, and what better way than to take a lesson from the new World of Warcraft Crash Course video on Death Knights, and try Frost? Dual Wielding Frost at that, really shake things up!

I watched the video, and I enjoyed it. Then I read the guide for Frost Death Knights at Icy Veins, and thought, “Holy crap, that is a lot more complicated than the Crash Course made it sound!”

Then I read the small section on simplified Frost DPS, and saw that it was about the same as the Crash Course, only you know, Icy Veins talks about things like Army of the Dead and glyphs and what kind of Runeforging enchants to put on weapons and all that stuff. Whew! A ton of stuff to take in.

Chainblade finally took his first steps into Stormwind in years, and was summoned to a visit with the King. He was directed to take a magic airship ride to discover what had happened to the fleet and the White Pawn, and stepped once more into adventure.

Two words: Holy shit!

I have played through the starting Jade Forest Alliance zone as every character class now.

I can say, without reservation, that I have NEVER before blown through that zone like an unstoppable juggernaut the way the Frost Death Knight did.

Just, holy shit!

I know I should be popping some of my short duration cooldowns, but I didn’t have time, because even when swarmed by adds like Hozen I just destroyed them. I never even bothered with Obliterate, I never had to.

I will say that the combination of summoning my pet on a 2 minute cooldown, and then using the talent that takes half of my pet’s health away to heal ME for half of MY health on a 2 minute cooldown was awesome. If I got swarmed by more than four or five things, I’d wait until I was finally below half health (and most of the mobs were dead anyway), then pop my pet and my healing Talent and boom! Back at full health AND with a pet to help finish them all off.

Felt overpowered while leveling, and that’s no lie. I never died, and I took on swarms of Hozen. I pulled the Hozen camp where Admiral Taylor is found right before you rescue him and take him to the fishie people, and it was nothing but a thing. Just pull the camp, kill them all and loot enough keys in one go to finish it all up. And then get the skulls easy because everything’s dead.

Never, ever felt anything like the god-like power of the Frost DK in that area.

I think I only ever summoned Army of the Dead once, and that was when I started feeling guilty killing swarms of adds without it, like I was being a fail DK. Army, damnit! I’m supposed to use that.

One last night to go. Tonight will be the last one.

Chainblade is level 86 already, and he’s remembering why he had to drink that kungaloosh to make it through a hot forest full of things that wanted to eat him in the first place.

Even if he finds himself retiring there among the fish people, he’ll at least have had the pleasure of one last hurrah, and the knowledge that yes, even in this modern age, an old wardog can learn one more trick, and be a total badass while doing it.

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