On the road – Tuesday

Hi folks!

I just wanted to give you a quick update.
We made our flight from Minneapolis to Pittsburgh, a nice short hop on a small cramped plane. It was a 40 seater, and the seats were just…. Ridiculous. Big Bears with wide shoulders are NOT their target demographic.

Sometimes I think that there is a 4’tall beanpole of a design engineer that gets hired to do the build up of planes and cars, some guy with the temperament of Frank Lloyd Wright, and when someone dares challenge his dimensions, he fires back, “What? It feels perfectly fine to ME!”

Anyway, we arrived in Pittsburgh, snagged our rental car, a Grand Prix that is billed as a full size, but lemme tell you… another car designed for much smaller folks. In this case, the headroom is a joke. Like, my head brushes the roof the whole drive. Double ugh.

We drive across much of Pennsylvania, and take the I-70/I-95 to Richmond, Virginia. To make the most of our trip, we are going to spend the weekend with my best friend and his wife, who have relocated down there.

A recap of the weekend… some beer is drunk (a brand owned by Guinness that I can’t quite remember the name of now… damn good, but apparently hard to find. I’ll have to ask him to remind me later.) We watch a couple movies (Red Sun starring Charles Bronson and Toshiro Mifune. Why is this film not on DVD? A spaghetti western starring Bronson and Mifune, as a classic team up. Samurai and gunslinger hunting stolen gold and a stolen sword? I mean, c’mon people. The movie itself is incredibly awesome, marred only by a mediocre musical score and some choppy editing towards the end. Rescore this one and publish it on DVD, what a fan favorite this would be. Idiots.) and The Shooter with Marky Mark.

Mark Wahlburg. Am I the only one that thinks of Mark Wahlburg as a poor mans’ Matt Damon? Bourne Ultimatum… great flick. The Shooter…. Not bad. It had its moments. It also had its clichés. Hey, screenwriters…. Having a sniper shoot another sniper THROUGH his scope is not just a cliché… it’s bad filmmaking. Just stop. Sniper duels are good if well written, but please… stop.

Anyway, we had fun, good times getting caught up. His new house is gorgeous, and the community is very upscale. We were invited along to a block party while we were there, and if one judges food based solely on the cost of ingredients, then the neighborhood is way too rich for my blood 🙂

On the drive back up to Pennsylvania, we stopped off at the National Marine Corps Museum, about 1 hour north of Richmond on I-95. Mrs. BBB had been telling me about it, but I thought she was referring to the Raider museum in Richmond, so I hadn’t planned on going. She finally just loaded up the website and asked me if I still didn’t want to go. Umm, wow. Nice looking museum. Ooops. Sure dear, that looks nice.

The Museum is just outside the gates of Quantico, and at the time we arrived was the nearest thing to being deserted. Go go Monday morning visitors! The place is clean and new, and while the exterior is foofy, the interior is solid and filled with beautifully detailed dioramas, artifacts, and multimedia productions.

The simulated briefing and beach landing at green beach in Iwo Jima was excellent, as was the video recap of General MacArthurs’ amphibious assault on Inchon. I took many pictures, and two of the ones that I thought you might enjoy were the Minigun and a large scale painting of Lady Liberty.

We had lunch in a period recreation of Tun Tavern, Philadelphia, a working restaurant on the second floor of the museum that serves period entrees and desserts. For my many, many non-Marine readers, Tun Tavern is where the US Marines were born, with the first recruits, in 1775. Of course, they were the Continental Marines at the time. But Tun Tavern is considered the birthplace of the Marines, and of course you would expect the Marines to be the kind of idea someone came up with in a bar. I bet tequila had something to do with it, too. MrsBBB recommends the Bread Pudding with Bourbon sauce.

After the museum, the Big Bear part of the trip was over. We made our way back on the road, and completed the 5 hour drive to the Greensburg/Jeannette area of Pennsylvania, where I now get to enjoy the benefits of zero internet, and no cable TV. I bought a pair of rabbit ears, and I can get a fuzzy ABC and NBC. Sigh.

Well, as the saying goes…. The worst day on vacation beats hell out of the best day at work. I’m gonna get caught up on my sleep.

Take care of yourselves my friends, and I’ll see you again before too long.

Cue the singing nuns!

So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, good night,
I hate to go and leave this pretty sight.
So long, farewell, Auf wiedersehen, adieu,
Adieu, adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu.

yes, it’s true, I am leaving you, my friends.

For a week, anyway.

As many of you have probably noted with scorn, this last week has been entirely devoid of posts bearing any sort of worthwhile information. Instead, despite having had some emails with questions that are just too tasty to leave unanswered for long (I’m looking at you, Conquernfool), I have settled for recaps and commentary.

There are two reasons for this.
First, I have been supporting my team at work solo, doing the work of two, during a time when we are ramping up production dramatically and adding new customers. This has left me quite short on ‘research the intrawebs’ time.
Second, my family is leaving on Saturday morning to take a trip halfway across the country, to visit relatives and basically to congregate in our hordes. Many others of the Big Bear Butt network of local relatives are also traveling across the country during this time. It’s not quite a full fledged family reunion, but it’ll come quite close. Lots of the meet and greet, not so much on the ‘big ass party with munchies’.

How this affects you, my gentle readers, is that we will be staying at my grandma-in-laws home in the Pennsylvania hills, and we will be without cable TV (or satellite), and phone service during the duration.

Yes, I know. Believe me, I know. But at the moment, this is a poor broke bear. No hotels are possible. We decided at the alst minute to spend the extra $300 to fly isntead of drive our van, and then my car broke down this week and needed a sudden $300 infusion to get going. /dapain.

We hope to stop by local libraries and internet wireless hot spots for email and such, and I can write posts in text to upload later, but be warned that my posting times for the following week will be sporadic. I’ll try, but I certainly won’t have awesome new researched posts for you to devour.

I hope to see you all again on a steady schedule starting Monday Oct 1st.

one last note… we are going to be gone during the one week when new fall shows start. So I will be utterly dependant on our programmed VCR for the season premieres of the Unit and Heroes, not to mention continuations of Kitchen Nightmares and Top Chef. And Cassie is looking towards the Greys’ Anatomy and spinoff starts. Sigh. one power failure and poof!

Wish us luck!

Hope you guess my name

The scene… an idyllic little suburban home, as father and son sit on a couch in front of the TV, watching Gordon Ramsey call Italian restaurateurs idiots.

Off in one corner, the wife and mother of the home sits at her workspace, computer fired up and running. She flicks back and forth between websites and active programs with the ease of long use.

Cassie: I think I’ve done everything in Goldshire. Do I go to Westfall next?

BBB: Yes, Westfall is the next zone for humans. You already have the flight path from our Deadmines run. Or, you could take the tram up to Ironforge, do some questing in the dwarves’ 1-10 starter zone.

Cassie: It looks like I still have some quests in western Goldshire I haven’t done.

BBB: Ah, yes, there are some quests out there to do. Just make sure you tell me before you take on Hogger… It usually takes a party of 2 or 3 to take him on.

[Silence from Cassie for a little while]

Cassie: Ack! I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die!

BBB: Use Evasion and Sprint to safety.

Cassie: I don’t know where Evade is!

BBB: …. Are you still alive?

Cassie: Yes. There were four of them! They jumped me!

BBB: Yep, them gnolls are tricky buggers.

Cassie: Hey! I’m gonna die! Darn it, that’s not fair! No!

BBB: Use Evasion and Sprint to safety.

Cassie: I’m dead!

BBB: How many jumped you this time?

Cassie: Just one!

BBB: ….. Just one? Let me see…… [gets up and strolls over for a look]

BBB: Welcome to WoW… that would be Hogger, your first introduction to being ganked. He patrols there near the river. Did you wander into him?

Cassie: No, I pulled him with my thrown knives.

BBB: ….. Perhaps I should have mentioned this before, but bad guys with golden dragons wrapped around their portraits are elite… and hit about 3x harder than normal, with 3x more armor and health.

Cassie: Geez, you think?

Appearance or performance?

This one is about what we wear… basically, something dropped for my wife last night that got me thinking about how we can either choose to wear armor that matches and looks cool… or wear armor pieces that clash hideously but are each the most effective piece we can find. And why is it that it seems designed that way?

Let’s look at what dropped last night.

I was running my wifes’ level 11 Rogue through Deadmines (Because I can, that’s why. Fastest way to grab oodles of Linen and Wool that I know, and she’s got some First Aid to master.)

Anyway, guess what Edwin VanCleef drops on her very first run?

That’s right… the Blackened Defias Armor.

Now, back in the day, Big Bear Butt dearly wanted this chest piece. I ran Deadmines at least 10 times, mostly in PUGs, but once or twice with friends too, all in the hopes of seeing this piece drop. Not once, NOT ONCE did it ever drop for me while I was still in the level range to be able to use it.

And almost all of those runs were made just in the hopes of getting it, after I already had the Tunic of Westfall, the quest reward you can choose from running the Deadmines quest chain. As far as Rogues and Feral Druids are concerned, the Tunic of Westfall is a superior choice based on stats.

Ahhh, but I didn’t want the Blackened Defias Armor because it was the uber loot. I know many 19 twinks love it dearly, but that wasn’t the cause of my desire. Oh no. I wanted the damn thing because I had every other piece in the Defias set, including having found one of the two leather shoulder pieces that go with the set, and I wanted to finish the set to LOOK DAMN COOL!!!!

In the end, I wore a tabard to hide the Tunic of Westfall, and wore the rest of the set, and was very grumpy about it.

Defias Leather (Level Range 13 – 19)
This 5-piece set includes the following items that contribute to set bonuses:
Blackened Defias Armor (19)
Blackened Defias Belt (17)
Blackened Defias Boots (13)
Blackened Defias Gloves (13)
Blackened Defias Leggings (13)

Plus, visually, the following shoulders match the set:
Bandit Shoulders (17)
Scouting Spaulders (18)

Set Bonuses
Wearing more pieces of this set will convey bonuses to your character.
2 pieces: +10 Armor.
3 pieces: +5 Arcane Resistance.
4 pieces: Increases dagger skill rating by 2.
5 pieces: Increases attack power by 10.

Am I alone in wishing that there was more effort in making armor sets whose pieces were NOT spread across a 6 or 8 level range? I mean seriously… that is my number one complaint. The first three pieces of a matching armor set will be available at level 13… and the last pieces at level 17 and 19… long after you’ve outgrown the level 13 pieces for much better choices of stats.

I would be deliriously happy if each piece of any set, whether green or rare, were all the same level to equip, and comparable in point value to other pieces at that level.

So for example, all the pieces of a set of ‘Gypsy’ would be level 9 instead of 7, 7, 8, 9, 10… and the stats pointed accordingly. You could look forward to dinging 9 and seeking that set on the AH.

Sure, there will still be better individual blue drops for one slot or another, but you could have a set bonus that only applies with all 5 pieces equipped, that was just ok enough to be attractive if you couldn’t afford 20 gold for that AH blue on your level 20 main.

On the subject of set bonuses… I look at the set bonuses of that Defias Leather, and say to myself… “+10 Armor? I put 1 Medium Armor Kit on my leggings, I get +16 Armor, and that’s worth more than a 2 piece set bonus? Or +5 Arcane Resist? Well, if I’m a gnome with +10 Arcane Resist already, that might be nice… but for a 3 piece bonus? +2 Dagger Skill Rating? Well, ok, but I get a +5 skill with swords AND maces as a human… why can’t I get +5 daggers for a set bonus that I actually had to earn? Attack Power +10? That’s not that bad at level 20… IF each armor piece in the set is very good on it’s own. Say, if they were all equal level point value pieces. But with mostly low level point value greens and one blue, only +10 AP? That’s just silly.”

No, if you are serious about having the best available gear for your class and level at the 20s, there are far more attractive pieces in each slot than the Defias Leather set, and the set bonuses are just not enough to compensate for that.

As a brief one paragraph aside, someone mentioned in the comments yesterday Kaliban’s Loot Lists for a place to research gear to search for while leveling. I’ll give it a shout-out, because pre-BC I practically LIVED on Kaliban’s Loot Lists while planning in advance what loot was good for my class and spec from raid bosses. In this day of super-knowledgeable players, it seems almost absurd, but it wasn’t that long ago that I can remember being in a guild where we would do 40 man raids in Molten Core, and when the boss dropped loot half the classes for which it was a good upgrade wouldn’t bid on it because they didn’t know what it did or why it was so good for them. Does anyone else remember people shouting in ventrilo, “It’s for your class dumbass, bid on it, don’t pass!” It cannot be stressed enough that you are responsible for knowing what gear you need for upgrades, so that you CAN roll for it when it drops, and so you DO pass on it in favor of someone else when it’s a downgrade. At any rate, Kaliban’s is a wonderful resource for gear at all levels, for both good BOE World Drops for your class or spec to look for on the auction house, as well as BOP boss drops. Of course, it ranks gear based purely on effectiveness at it’s level point… NOT by looks 🙂

Back to the Defias Leather…. in my opinion, there is no other set in the entire game until you reach Tier 0.5 and PvP that looks as super ninja leet uber cool as this one.

Now, that got me thinking. We each play the game for different reasons. I know that on my main, as soon as I hit Outlands, I gave up any hope of good looking matching armor. I chose pieces that are the best for my playstyle, and looks be damned. I am lucky in that the Heavy Clefthoof set complements the Vengeance Wrap gloves, and I have mixed and matched set pieces from my tanking and cat gear in itemrack so I have one set that would be sub-par for playing, but looks… ok. What I’ve heard referred to by BRK as a ‘traveling in town’ set.

But my hunter is 68… and her gear is intentionally chosen to match and look cool… except for the belt. That piece just does not go. I can imagine what Stacy and Clinton in What Not To Wear would say about that combo. Anyway….

On the character I play that has to perform at it’s best for the team and my friends, I choose gear to maximize my effectiveness.

On the character I play purely for fun as a soloer, I choose gear for looks… as long as it can sorta get the job done.

So that begs the question…. why the hell can’t Blizzard either do a better job making sets that you want to collect to actually use, OR give us a method of dying/altering existing pieces so at least the colors match?

I mean, Dark Age of Camalot had an armor dying system… and if I remember back that long ago, some colors were rarer than others or required higher levels to use. But you got to wear matching color coordinated gear if you chose to, even when your armor was chosen for performance.

I’ve heard arguments by PvPers that dying or altering armor appearance to satisfy individual needs would ‘ruin’ PvP…. because apparently you could not tell how well the other team would play without recognizing every piece of gear they wore on sight.

Ummm…. what? I would think you play your best against the other team no matter what they wore… and I would HOPE that the tactics used by the other person would have more of an impact on your plans than whatever gear he had on … Unless you want to know if you’re up against Tier 6 so you can bail on your teammates in the first 2 minutes. I have said before, I don’t PvP, so take this with a grain of salt, but I do know that Orb of Deception is considered useful enough to take up a trinket slot for many people, but it’s not SO useful that it’s use is required for a solid advantage over other players. Of course, I do know that PvP is srs bsns. 🙂

Continuing On….

Now, this has gone on long enough… but I’d like to hear from you. Do you only grab gear that has the best stats? Do you collect gear that looks really cool, no matter what level it is? And lastly, what are some of your favorite set/look combos?

I think when I get home tonight, I’m going to open up my WoW Model Viewer, load up my Windshadow model, and dress her in all Defias Leather, plus the Scouts Epaulets, and then my epic Engineering death cyber goggles… and take a screenie for the site. If it looks as cool as I expect, I think I may just go out and farm for those pieces, juist for my “traveling town set”. I don’t care if I would be a 70 druid in level 20 armor… death ninja FTW!!!

New comment… as James/Melpo mentioned Shadowcraft, it reminded me I never bother to compelte my druid Dungeon Set 1, but I did have the Shadowcraft Set 1 for catform, including the chest from General Drakkisath. Damn, I’d forgotten that, and now I want it back. James, name a place and time, we’ll stealth in and two man as much as we can. If we get a resto druid, we can stealth in and have a nice tank/DPS/heal combo going to make it supafast.

“I have you now!”

It’s official. MrsBBB has gone over to the Dark Side.

Of course, she’s sooooo gonna kick my big butt for this 🙂

Yesterday, she decided that being able to talk to our friends, receive bags and some helpful gold loans from MrBBB, and play the Auction House were important enough to invest the $20 in the game.

I noticed that she is already using advanced AH search features while looking for rogue gear upgrades. She may not know what to look for yet as upgrades go, I said at our level her best bet is Agility and Stamina, but what do I know. She sure does know how to search smartly. Considering her advanced eBay and Craigslist skills, I expect very soon that she will have the Auctioneer addon tuned to perfection… and more money than my Main.

She trained Alchemy and Herbalism, has leveled First Aid to use Heavy Linen Bandages already, and is generally kicking ass.

She does have one question, however…..

Can anyone recommend good blogs or websites for new or casual rogues to read? For tips, reader-friendly guidance, or just fun stuff for rogues to do. She asked yesterday, and I forgot to post the question to you fine folks. Daakster? Melpo?

On a related topic, I resurrected my old warlock gnome level 6 alt, and ran that with her… I logged out last night at level 11 with my Voidwalker in hand, and a bag full of shards.

I don’t really know that I like the Warlock. My hat is off to all of you that have played Warlocks consistently, they seem very hard to coordinate attacks and manage abilities. The talent trees confuse the heck out of me. None of the abilities sound fun.

I’m debating simply going back to my lowbie rogue and rolling with Cassie rogue to rogue… but I dunno. I hate giving up a Warlock when they can summon and create Healthstones and such and be so useful. On the other hand, once Cassie reaches level 20 or so, I can bring my Priest back in and roll that way from then on. Any Warlock pointers? Kemangi?

I expect a break from Kara over the next three weeks, as I play my druid in PvP to earn the shoulders for tanking, and as I play an alt with Cassie.

I hope everyone has a great day…. and the more I play, the more grateful I am that I made the druid my first class… I love it more and more.

Take care everyone!

Author Robert Jordan has gone ahead, and a part of the magic has gone with him

Robert Jordan, known as the author of the brilliant fantasy series The Wheel Of Time, passed away on Sunday, September 16th. He was 58 years old at the time.

The Associated Press filing can be found here.

This isn’t a news site, and I don’t have anything profound to say.

I know that many of my friends will be affected by this news just as I am, and I wanted to make sure you got the chance to hear as soon as possible.

My wife just emailed me 10 minutes ago, to let me know. She knew from my conversations with friends that I cared, and would want to know.

Robert Jordan had for quite a while been associated with The Dragonmount blog, and would occasionally post updates on his condition, and how he was feeling.

My friend Mark had told me some time ago that Mr. Jordan had been very sick, but with the treatmeant he had been getting, he was beginning to feel better.

I checked back periodically, but to be honest I felt as though I were being too voyeuristic in the affairs of Mr. Jordan’s life, and I stopped visiting Dragonmount, perhaps in the naive wish that I could help him, or at least myself, by remaining ignorant and “thinking happy thoughts”.

All I can really think of to say is, I have been reading Mr. Jordan’s books since the first in the series, The Eye of the World, came out almost 17 years ago. At the time, I was a Sergeant and attending an advanced school stateside, on a base of Privates and PFcs whom Thou Shalt Not Fraternize With, and here was this huge fat book that not only promised to be a good long read and keep me out of trouble, but professed to be the first of a long series. I read that book from cover to cover in a weekend, and I was hooked from then on.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 17 years. I can remember in the earliest days of comupting, BBS sytems, phone modems and turn based chat posting, and hordes of fans on the fledgling PC Intrawebs, organizing ‘Darkfriend Socials’, getting together in face to face parties to celebrate the amazement of being fans of such a marvelous and complex fantasy world.

I was one of the online chatgroup that Darkfriend Socials sprang from, and used to debate the ‘Super Aes Sedai’, and what would happen to Perrin next, for endless hours.

Sightings of Mr. Jordan at conventions, or small book signings, were reported on and tidbits of hints that may or may not have been said were dutifully posted for all to read and debate at length. We hung on his words with open ears.

I guess all I can say, all that I should say, is simply…

For 17 years of my life, I have been influenced by a great writer, and today I feel as though I have lost a good and precious friend, a friend that I never met in person, but who truly was a part of my life. I wish that there were some way to let him know how much I appreciate his writing, admire his storytelling, and how much I wish him godspeed and blessings.