Old is as old reacts

I was listening to the radio on the way home from work, flipping between talk radio (long enough to turn red in the face), the teeny bopper channel (in hopes of hearing Lady Gagas’ Poker Face), and my Dragonforce CD, when something came across the airwaves that made me stop in stunned disbelief.

I like to think that I’m fairly aware of the dirty underside of life. It’s been a long time since something actually shocked me or surprised me, in terms of the lengths someone will go in the media, either in language or suggestability.

I grew up in Miami, my dad was a foul mouthed cop, I spent many years in the Marines, and I love listening to Lewis Black. The use of the f-bomb in polite conversation does not startle me. In fact, the use of that word, and indeed many MANY others in polite conversation comes MORE natural to me than breathing.

Ask my friends in vent. If I get comfortable and relax my self-filter, my language gets, to use a dated phrase, ‘salty’.

I make no apologies. I earned the use of that language in a fairly hard school, and while I don’t intend to shock and I don’t think the use of such language is at all witty or edgy… well, I make no apologies if my upbringing was soaked with such language, and your ears are tender to such things.

That being said, ever since Alex was born, I have made a concerted, harder than heck effort to eradicate the saltiness from my conversation, so that he at least has a choice as to how his vocabulary grows. 

Since this is a family friendly (hey, I’ve got a family, and I’m friendly… if you want to bring your family to visit, I’d like to feel that I’m friendly to them, too) blog, I try very hard to not go past a PG rating in terms of language and content.

Yes, some days the token f-bomb will float it’s way past my internal censor. I don’t think I’m being witty or clever by dropping one, I just forget myself.

My point in all this babbling BS is that, while I do not go around venting in expletives deleted here or in casual conversation anymore, I feel that I am WELL past the point of being shocked at hearing anything in the media.

Oh, was I wrong.

I started this post by talking about the radio.

A song came on that I had not heard before. A female singer. I like female singers. Sue me.

As I listen to what she’s singing… I find myself asking myself, “She can’t possibly be saying that on the radio, right? I’m just not hearing that right. She didn’t just say… she keeps repeating that… Who wrote that song, and who the heck would SING that? That makes it past the FCC these days? Holy crap!”

I have, over the course of many years, heard lyrics use many, many euphemisms to talk about sex and describe body parts without actually violating the letter of the law.

“Muffin” is one of the ones that can make me laugh out loud.

Speaking of letters of the law, the letters are what this one uses to get away with it.

The name of the song, it turns out, is exactly what I thought it was, and at the same time, totally not what I thought it was.

“If you seek Amy”.

Looks innocent, right?

Oh yeah, sure.

Try sounding it out phonetically. Much like OU812 of years past (many, many years), what it looks like in text and what it means when you sound it out… or sing it… are quite different.

Congratulations. I got stunned and flabbergasted over something I heard on the flipping radio. Damn, I not only feel old, this proves I AM old.

Now here’s the worst bit… in order to make sure I complete the post… this singer’s music will be on my blog. There is something BEYOND wrong with that.

“All of the boys and all of the girls are begging to if u seek amy”.

Please, somebody just shoot me.

Bear swiping fun in 3.1!

We’ve got a wall of changes staring at us from down the road, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how folks roll with it.

Talked about it before, should be no surprise to anyone that our armor multiplier from Survival of the Fittest is getting cut in half.

We’re also losing some of our Stamina buff from Heart of the Wild in Bear form.

It should also come as no surprise by now that we are getting a bubble (Savage Defense) whose strength is 25% of your Attack Power, and which supposedly procs every time you land a Critical Strike. I’m not on the PTR, I don’t have the time, but I’m sure someone will rush to tell us if there has been a hidden cooldown timer on the bubble procs, or if they proc on EVERY Crit.

Not that I’m all that concerned. Either Savage Defense will balance out the loss of health and armor, and successfully do what Blizz seems to want and make us work harder on chasing gear upgrades, or it won’t. What we see live will give us the answer in due time.

What may surprise you from the PTR is the discovery that our Swipe continues to affect an unlimited number of targets… but now does NOT require a target to be selected. It has become a simple 360° AoE with an 8 yard range, untargeted.

That’s right.

I think that bears repeating.

Swipe is no longer a targeted attack with a frontal arc. It is now an 8 yard 360° AoE.

So…

I see this as being a pretty significant change to how I actually play my bear in tight situations, and maybe you will feel the same if you’re one of us mid-content players. By mid-content, I mean those folks at level 80 who play in 5 man heroic instances, 10 man raids, and the occasional 25 man pug.

Right now, I am quite accustomed… nay, happy… with playing my bear tank as I do, with a targeted frontal arc Swipe. It’s a flavor thing.

I know that it’s quite different as a mechanism than other methods, and while there are of course certain challenges, there are also rewards.

In it’s current form, it’s not, in my mind, any better or worse than other AoE threat generating methods. Just different. It’s… well, it’s bearish.

For example, right now Paladins drop a stationary Consecrate that ticks threat. Mobs can run through it without taking a tick, and not get held up. Likewise for Death and Decay. These two methods of group threat generation are extremely strong continuous threat generators with a 360° field of affect, and their only drawback is they lack mobility. 

On top of that, Paladins have had to face the fact that, yes, their Consecrate pulls in a 360° area, but their Shield does not protect them from attacks from any opponents in the rear. Paladins are quite vulnerable to being taken from behind without protection.

(Yes, Graimerin, that joke was for you. You know you like it. lol.)

Also, in close quarters, stationary continuously ticking 360° threat can make the use of Crowd Control quite difficult, if not outright impossible.

On the other side of the tanking spectrum, Swipe has, up until 3.1 goes live, been quite different in technique and effect.

With Swipe, you are not throwing down a field of hate. Instead, you are specifically targeting one mob within your range, and then attacking it, and everyone near him within a frontal arc centered on that target, and all those additional targets may actually be outside your normal physical attack range, but they’ll still get affected by the effects of Swipe.

Swipe is not a passive field you lure the timid daisies into before ravaging them unmercifully. It’s an intentionally timed attack that lasts for the space of a single smackdown, and can let you herd your wayward charges wherever you desire.

Allow me to describe a typical scene for the non-bears in our audience to illustrate my point.

A nice little typical five man run. A group of four mobs ahead.

Say we in the group are all new to heroics, and these guys hit like the Steeler’s offensive line.

Time for a quick three second decision on pull tactics.

One of them is a ranged caster, so he’d be squishy, go down fast… but if we CC him, we’d be lining up the three highest hit point/high armor targets for our first three kills, which will potentially drag the fight out long enough for the CC on ranged doofus number one to expire. 

If it does expire without us noticing while mixing it up in melee, or if the three we are fighting give us more troubles that we expected, we might end up with a glass cannon lighting us up that won’t come a-running when I Growl.

So, fine.

I set up for a ranged line of sight pull, intending to dart forward, nail the closest one (that is not the necessarily the marked skull first kill target, he’s just the closest; ranged boy will be my first kill target) with a Feral Faerie Fire.

Why Feral Faerie Fire? Well, I know that Growl does not actually CAUSE threat, it only pops your threat higher than any other person your target is currently aware of. So it’s kinda useless to use as a pull, especially if the Healer throws any kind of ticking heal or stat increasing buff on you afterward. If you pop a Growl on one target and then switch to a different target to start fighting… any heals you get will send that first mob off after the new highest threat person out there likety split. But you knew that already.

Anyway, there is a Mage in the group with me, so as I line up on the mobs at extreme range, I mark the caster as a Skull for our priority kill, and mark one of the most distant melee bullyboys as a sheep target.

I ask the Mage to be prepared to sheep one after I do my pull.

Why after? Sheep causes Threat, so if you have the Mage do a Sheep pull… all the baddies will love the Mage long time. I’m the jealous kind, I want all their lovin’ for myself.

Gimme all your lovin’, all your hugs and kisses too.

So, I’m lined up. I give the Mage a split-second verbal warning so she can begin her long 1.5 second Sheep cast, then I send in my FFF on the closest one, and run like hell away and get around a corner, out of line of sight, and wait for my idiot targets to come running around the corner to me, including my bestest buddy, Mr Caster Who Wants His Face Ripped Clean Off.

As they go running past the party chasing after me, ignoring everyone else because they are quietly standing there whispering to themselves “you can’t see me I’m not here you can’t see me I’m not here you can’t…” the Mage has been casting Sheep, and it goes off on the run.

So there I am, facing two melee and one very squishy ranged…

I make sure I have the very closest mob targeted so when he rounds the corner, my first Swipe goes off fast and lays down a base foundation of threat on all three to counteract initial global healing aggro and bad targeting decisions from the DPS. Not that I’m saying I expect the DPS to be unloading all out damage on the wrong targets a millisecond after the mobs reach me… okay, yes I am saying that.

I change targets if necessary and spike a Mangle into the forehead of caster-boy ’cause I want him to lay down and die first, I prime a Maul to go off that will do tons of damage (for me) AND help build even more threat on one of the other two melee, fire off another Swipe to keep building up group threat, and get a FFF going on my caster main target, global cooldown permitting.

I toss a glance at the displayed targets of each of my team members, a helpful tool that XPerl provides in the party display, so I can tell if someone is, in fact, on the wrong damn target.

Wow, everyone is on target, and caster boy be going down. Yay us!

So, there you have a truly typical line of sight pull around a corner, with CC safely out of range of Swipe. A caster was selected as the first kill target due to his potential damage output being all out of proportion to his health, and rapidly burnt down.

Ah, but what if someone accidentally tags the Sheeped melee, baaing his little heart out, and he springs up and runs around the corner into melee range of the Healer or the Mage before the Mage can get another 1.5 second Sheep cast off again?

If I had Consecrate or Death and Decay, then I would now simply be a singer in a rock and roll band, and tank the extra groupie.

Instead, I have an intelligently controlled, directionally targeted group threat that only fires when I tell it to.

I use my ranged Growl to bring the groupie… err, I mean target, over to me. I give it a cursory Mangle to get it’s attention, and then switch auto-attack to the next true kill target and ask the Mage to reSheep. I stop Swiping and I stop Maul, because I want to control who I am applying threat to. I will restrict myself to Mangle and Lacerate on my kill target until Sheep goes off.

I ask the group to ease off on all heals and AoE, I let the Mage finish the Sheep… and I drag my posse of zombies back a bit, move through them, turn around, and get them all nice and repositioned just the way I like it with the Sheeped mob behind me… and with another Swipe we’re back in business. Even in close quarters.

I have the power to choose how I use my abilities, and can tailor my choices to fit a changing tactical situation in a way that feels, to me, to be somewhat bear-like.

When I Swipe right now, I’m slashing the group in front of me. I can relate to that. It feels… it feels like being a bear. 

Using a Consecrate is not worse, of course. It’s just different. It’s a different playstyle than what I’ve gotten used to, with it’s own inherent mechanics. It is absolutely not inferior.

For a Bear Tank, having a 360° threat AoE that does not require a targeted opponent to be within range in front of you will be a powerful buff to our ability to pull in and hold mobs consistently, AND we will be able to control when it goes off. 

I have no complaints. It is NOT bear consecrate. At least, not unless they really change the hell out it, and I see no signs of that happening yet.

However, it bears reminding everyone that, if the enemy is behind you, YOU CANNOT DODGE. As you are also not Parrying or Blocking… you’re still gonna need to move that big bear butt when you get surrounded. Mobility is still a factor, even if you can now be confident that if it’s within 8 yards, you tagged it.

I just want to be clear about this… I’m not unhappy with the change. It’s a buff to our threat on multiple mobs, and I’m sure that after I get used to the small changes, it’s going to be a welcome addition to my arsenal of tanking.

In the above example, the only real change will be that if I am in quarters too tight to move more than 8 yards away from the Sheep target, I’ll just stand and tank it and forget trying to re-establish CC. Facing away from the Sheep mob won’t help.

No, I don’t regret  the coming change, in terms of my effectiveness.

Humor me, however, as I take a single moment to cherish my current bear dancing manuevers in the dark, as I thrive on the fun of using facing and backstepping and a directional Swipe to be a nimble old bear while I tank my groups. It’s fun, it keeps me hopping, and while I do admit that 9 times out of 10 the standard fast pull overgeared overpowered strategy is “run in, piss ’em all off, Swipe and take it”…

When the going gets tough…

It’s time to bring out the dancing bear!

A Happy Saint Patricks day to all!

Yes, I know this is going up the evening before.

I promise you, that there will still be a touch of Guinness flowing through my veins as midnight passes to the 17th.

In the meantime…

Allow me the priviledge of introducing you to a local band here in Minneapolis/Saint Paul, The Tim Malloys.

These guys are the real deal, an awesome band that plays locally, and I am proud to have all their albums. And a hat. And a shirt that doesn’t fit, damnit.

I think listening to Neal on this track makes it pretty clear why I love these guys so.

The Mannyac and I spent my Bachelor’s Eve party with these guys years gone by… and we sat and chatted in between sets. A fine old time was had by me, that I’m sure they forgot by the next day, but that I’ll always remember fondly.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all, my friends, no matter where you may be.
I shall hoist a few wee Guinness, in remembrance of thee.
Should your travels take you far from home, and the way be dark with gloom,
Still you know I’ll be right here, waiting patiently for you.

Slainche!

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Okay, I can’t just leave it at that. So one other Tim Malloys song, aye? And if ye be local to the Twin Cities… go see them, and tell them the Big Bear Butt sent ya!

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Watchmen review

I watched the Watchmen last night.

Yep. Who watches the Watchmen? That would be me.

After I got home, I wrote a nice long movie review full of spoilers.

Then I looked at it, and how long it was, and deleted it.

You can thank me now. Even after reading this very long, movie review. Thank me for deleting that other one.

Yeah, I spent about an hour writing that post, but in the end, it wasn’t worth posting it. I’m not outraged, I’m not horrified, I was just writing down my thoughts on what I liked or didn’t like about the movie.

And it got to be stupidly long, because I grew up with the graphic novel, and have over the years spent a lot of time thinking about some of the storytelling techniques used in the comic.

So I scrapped it, and wrote this new long ass post/review full of spoilers instead.

Why? Because I damn well grew up with Watchmen, I read the comics when they came out and I was in High School, I admired the way it broke new ground, and I admired the many, many layers of depth and meaning in the book. A large chunk of my mental capacity was spent thinking about Watchmen back in the eighties, God help me and my wasted youth.

I am intimately familiar with the story, and as a writer I feel I learned a great deal about how some characters can be developed, and how they can affect a reader from reading Watchmen.

For one thing, it showed me that you can have a character be written in a certain way that he is charismatic, interesting, occasionally funny, and makes the reader like him… and then show that, inside, he is a monster, an amoral killing machine without a conscience as we understand it, someone that is just despicable, has done terrible, monstrous things… and still have it be the same person we met at first, someone who, now that you know more about them, still seems to be a complete character. The character has a believable consistency to what they do. You know more about them, about how they think… and even though you can’t help but still like the way he’s portrayed, and feel a touch of sympathy for him as a person, you now know that inside, he’s a monster that deserves a bullet to the back of the head. 

You can also have a character that your reader will dislike, that they will see, and meet, and think “What a dirtbag. Oh, ugh… what a pompous asshole. Treats his friends like dirt. Abuses people right and left. What a jackass.” But in the end, you can win the reader over by showing them what has driven the person to be this way… how the one character you started out hating can be the one that becomes your favorite, because you know they would fight by your side no matter what, they would never betray you, never turn aside from evil, but would do whatever it takes to see justice done. That no matter how horrible they seem to act on the outside… what drives them is a thirst for vengeance against anyone that harms an innocent life, and that burning intensity has left no room for anything else inside them. They are worthy of pity, and fear, but not your hate.

There are a lot of rich characters, deep personalities in the comic book, and I learned a lot from it about the crafting of a story.

So I wrote a movie review based on my appreciation for the craft involved in the base material. Kinda worthless, since who cares about the graphic novel, it’s the movie I was supposed to talk about.

So here’s a real review.

 The action scenes are very well done, but short. There are more of them in the movie than in the comic, but the amount of dialogue in the movie is brutal. They did a good job of trying to be faithful to the dialogue of the source material… but it is just is too long, and too dry. What worked on the written page doesn’t work here.

Now, I said they did a good job of being faithful to the dialogue. That is true.

But they did a pretty poor job of being faithful to the highs and lows of the story, and matching them to the big screen.

First, the lows; most of the movie is pretty agreeable for most audiences, but I felt that, considering how drastically they changed major parts of the story for the film, they really screwed the viewers by leaving in some scenes of graphic, nasty violence. Hands cut off, heads struck multiple whacks by a cleaver, dripping body parts from the ceiling, that kind of thing. Just didn’t really fit the overall rest of the film. They were in the graphic novel (well, not the cleaver to the head)… but you’re making a film. Once you choose to change shit to be consistent with showing a film to an audience… be consistent. Those scenes were the epitomy of gratuitous violence, because they added nothing to the story but gore and violence.

Now, the very lows;

I posted the Hitler thing a few days ago mocking a frantic fanboy’s fury over the changed ending, and it’s funny, but really, it’s pretty true.

Because where they changed the story from the base material, where they just went in a totally different direction… it does NOT work for the better. It’s pretty bad.

They did two major things to change the original story, and there was absolutely no need for it. And what’s worse, the changes they made hurt the story quite badly, and left me walking out of the theater thinking “That was pretty crappy and showed a pathetic lack of imagination.”

The first is simply that they changed the nature of what Adrian Veidt and Dr Manhatten were working on, so that the two of them were working together on a source of infinitely renewable free energy to replace fossil fuels, creating a machine that could duplicate the power of Dr Manhatten himself, duplicate the way he could create energy apparently from out of nothing at all, by changing the molecular structure of reality. 

This change in the story was a necessary change to make their new ending work… but it also gave them an opportunity to include a brand new scene… where Adrian Veidt is faced by a group of ‘captains of industry’ involved with exploiting fossil fuels, coal and natural gas as energy sources, and even naming Lee Iacocca by name, and portray them all as a group of smarmy evil men willing to do anything to retain their greedy, evil profits at the expense of a planet in dire peril of disaster.  After the fat cats gave ther smarmy threats and insinuations, it gives Veidt a chance to lecture uninterrupted about how evil and mean they are, how shortsighted they are, and how free energy is the way of freedom and peace and love. In fact, it allows him to describe how, if it weren’t for exploitive oil companies and car manufacturers, there would be no war today.

The fact that the actor they got to play Veidt looks like a typical whining yuppie that could be broken in two by a stiff wind, and boy oh boy, I was really impressed. What a crock of shit.

Yay. Yeah, that fit in the movie like a turd in church.

But the big failure that stunk up the movie was the damned changed ending.

Seriously.

Yeah, the ending they used was just lame. The whole point of the movie was that the Comedian stumbled on something so big, so scary, so terrifyingly over the top, such a huge practical joke on the whole world, that he snaps. And he can’t keep his mouth shut after he snaps, this amoral man who kills kids and pregnant women, who assassinated Kennedy himself, it’s so big that HE snaps, and has to be killed to shut his ass up.

The original ending, in my opinion, fit the bill. Sure. It was a whopper of a big huge lie to make the entire world choke on, and I could see the Comedian seeing that huge-ass thing under the tarpaulin, read about the cloned psychic brain, the whole mindfuck of Dr Manhatten, and snapping a little. Even after everything he had done… because this was something bigger, more audacious, than nearly any mortal mind could conceive of not just planning, but DOING and getting away with.

What they did instead… it’s like the deballing of the graphic novel, and it has no integrity at all. They take out something that made sense, that had it’s own crazy logic… and replaced it with something that doesn’t even work in what little connection to reality the story had.

The graphic novel was always partly about a character study of diffferent personality types, and how they would react to different stimula. You learn more about these people over time, and see how their actions are shaped by their experiences, and by their own inner nature.

And then the movie changes the ending into something that is ignorant of even the most basic understanding of human behavior.

Dr Manhatten is the only superpowered individual on earth. We are shown that, from the moment he came into being, in the era of Vietnam, the US government had total control over him. He lived in a military facility. He obeyed military directives. For over 30 years, he was the threat of nuclear force that kept the Soviet Union at bay.

In reaction, the Soviets worked feverishly to stockpile a nuclear arsenal that could overwhelm even Dr Manhatten’s ability to stop them all, forcing America to retain the balance and not push the Soviets too far. America had bullied the Soviets previously, in Vietnam, and won. But now, now mutually assured destruction and a world on the brink of WWIII has things tense, balanced, and the slightest misunderstanding or pecker waving could see everything go up in smoke.

So to make the world one peaceful place full of joy and love, we are led to believe that first, Dr Manhatten is encouraged to leave earth forever, so America now has no nuclear deterrance to remain at a comparable level with the Soviets. Next, we are shown that America is at Defcon 1, and is fueling it’s bombers and arming it’s bombs to go to war in a pre-emptive strike, in response to the Soviet war machine posturing in Afghanistan, taunting the US to see if Dr Manhatten has really gone.

So the Soviets are shown explicitly not believing that Manhatten is gone… and everyone knows America has controlled Manhatten for his entire existence, and used him to wage war in the past, blowing people up and tanks up.

America is shown as being ready to launch a nuclear attack at any moment… a fact which anyone that has a clue knows the Soviets would be aware of.

And we are supposed to believe that the Soviet response to having some of their cities blown up by a massive explosion with Dr Manhatten’s energy signature… would be to say “Oh, you Americans had some of your cities blow up too, is all big mistake, Manhatten is actually fighting all of us at once for no reason, he must be crazy and is acting independantly against everyone on Earth, is not some American trick, so we all big friends now.”

Really.

And better still… this lame ass plot is supposed to be over the top crazy enough to make the Comedian crack?

Just… “Bitch, please.”

And there’s my real movie review. Taking the movie as a movie… they took an ending that, even if goofy, at least made sense… and left you walking out of the theater thinking, “Boy, that was a pretty stupid ending. In what universe is that supposed to make sense? The Soviets would have pushed the button about three seconds after their first city blew up. Dumbasses.”

Edit: After reading PlasticRats comment, aside from the fact that Alan Moore was the writer of Watchmen and not Frank Miller, I pretty much think you’re dead on. In fact, you nailed the reason I even felt any desire to write anything about it… that they did such a great job in all other respects, the acting, costuming, the attention to detail. It all showed a fine appreciation for, and respect for, the original material. Frankly, the movie showed far more love and care than I personally needed. I’m cool with reinterpretations… Batman Begins, Spiderman, Iron Man, Hellboy… none of them really went panel by panel with an original comic. Sin City did, and I thought it was done real well, but it’s the rarity in comic book movie adaptations.

So to me, in a case where clearly they did their absolute bestest in following the comic book, right down to Silk Spectre’s fugly costume… somebody, somewhere, had to come up with the idea that the tentacled squid was a bad idea, and Dr Manhatten energy bombs was a better idea. And many other people had to agree.

And again, as PlasticRat points out… Why? I guess it was a cool movie in many regards, I thought they did a great job of dealing with Rorshach, Nite Owl was handled extremely well, Silk Spectre was given a very strong consistent thread… to me, it’s just the changing of the ending that drops me. Because to me, it’s not that it’s different… it’s that it just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t feel like it would work.

Ah well. I still have Death Race to watch on DVD, I’ve got Resident Evil: Apocalypse for right after. Maybe after I watch those, I’ll come to appreciate the fine acting and special effects in Watchmen a lot more.

Speaking of subtitles

A few days ago I mentioned my love of watching films where I don’t understand what they’re saying, but I love putting the subtitles to the action.

Here is a perfect, shining example.

Of corse, if you actually understand German, than this video will totally suck for you. Sorry to discriminate against my educated or more cosmopolitan readers.

Next time, my advice to you is to remain ignorant. Life will offer you more opportunities for amusement.

Hmmm… you know, that explains a lot, actually.

Anyway, this film has spoilers if you have read and loved the Watchmen graphic novel and have not yet seen the Watchmen movie. It has to do with the nature of the ending of the film. You’ve been warned!

No, really, Watchmen spoilers ahead.

Mount farming for fun and… well, fun

Omigod, a post somewhat related to Druiding!

Achievements.

I’ll never pretend to care all that much about them myself, unless I think they’re cute. Like the ones that give you neat pets like my beloved Skunk, or extra mounts, or fun titles.

That having been said, I DO heartily approve of anything that provides you a reward you actually value. And I don’t mean 10 “Achievement Points”.

The Achievement for obtaining 100 mounts is certainly one of those that has a reward folks value, yes?

Time to get down to brass tacks.

I’ve known for a while that some of my guildies were interested in pursuing the mount collection thingie.

So last weekend, we organized a retro raid to go into AQ40.

As I’m sure most of you are well aware, there are 4 mounts that drop off of the trash in AQ40 (and only in AQ40), three of them have a high drop rate (the red has a much lower drop rate than the others), and they all look pretty cool. They can only be used while IN AQ40 or AQ20, but they do count towards the Achievement.

That being said, since they only require time and the ability to kill AQ40 trash, they are the cheapest mounts I know of in the game.

As I said, we went into AQ40 last weekend.

We cleared everything in our path for quite a ways, no problems at all… but on the Twin Emperors, we wiped the first two shots while we figured out what they actually DO (and what they look like while they’re doing it), and then they bugged. They vanished while we rezzed, and never returned. And the door to continue didn’t open either.

Phooey.

Ah well, shucks golly gosh darn, we had a lot of fun.

But that’s not the point.

The point is, there is a single patrol of one critter, a 4 pull bound together, two more single pull patrols and another 4 pull right before the first boss.

Killing that trash alone netted our run three mounts last weekend.

Now THAT is a drop rate that has to make your ears perk up, amiright?

I wasn’t in the mood to do another full AQ40 tonight, but I was curious to see how smoothly you could down the trash with a small force. After all, it’s the trash that gives the goodies.

As our wise guildie Ruune mentioned in our forums, it’s the trash you want, and you can farm that all week long. Reset, schmeset. 

I went to AQ40, and I asked for anyone interested in beating it up with me to come along. Just the entrance trash. No biggie. 15 minutes, tops.

Caladorn’s level 64 Warlock, and Essahn an 80 Enhancement Shaman decided to come along for the ride.

I fully buffed up first, Elixirs, food, Scroll.

We went in, I pulled the 4 pull first… and we grabbed the patrol too, lol.

At the end of the five of them, with me tanking ’em all, Essahn healing and going OOM a lot, and Cal’s Warlock Meerenie blasting away, we took them down with no problems.

The 4 pulls are interesting, in that every time one of them dies, it adds a buff to the ones that are left. So the remaining trash actually gets a bit tougher as you go.

Not that it helped them any.

Now, I know serious mount farmers will pull the solo patrol first, clear it, and then pull the 4 bound mobs back to the instance entrance, kill three, loot them, and then run out of the instance entrance. When you leave, the 4 pull resets, the three dead trash respawn instantly, and you can go right back in and pull/kill 3, loot, run out, reset ad infinitum.

I wasn’t into that either. It wasn’t a simple smash and grab, a scouting raid to probe defenses.

I just wanted to see how we could do on the trash, and confirm what the drop rate looked like.

We pulled all the trash prior to the boss, cleared it all, and ended up with… well, I’ll let you see for yourself.

aqmounties

Not too tacky, eh?

So, down to the facts.

From how we did on the pulls, I firmly believe that a single level 80 tank, ad a single 80 dedicated healer could clear the trash by themselves, and do it smoothly.

I think two Druids, one Boomkin and one Bear, could probably smoke it wit no issues at all. The Boomkin can throw down some heals and still do solid DPS, with a self Innervate that will be available often as the fights are fairly long. The trash is weak to an 80 tank, but has a ton of health. It’s a long beatdown.

Of course, a Death Knight tank and a Shaman healer would be fun, too. 🙂

If you take your hits, use your Survival Instincts and Frenzied Regen early, and let the healer conserve their mana for dealing damage, then you should have your SI available later on in the same big fight. It beats having a healer OOM early on.

I’m thinking that a feral Druid might be able to solo the trash… but I haven’t tested the theory. They have a LOT of health.

I might just do that, though.

Good luck on farming some mounts. If a red one drops for you, let me know!

Okay, an update.

I got a guildie to join group with me so I could form a raid, and then went in to solo the trash.

I pulled the wandering solo pat first; no Elixirs, btw, and no problem at all.

I then pulled the 4 Sentinals, and fought them near the instance entrance.

They did not cause me any issues, except for one thing; one of the possible buffs one of them can have is a self heal. You need to watch for that guy, and NOT kill him. You’ll have a hard time burning him down, especially with three others that are NOT healing themselves to choose from.

I started on the self heal idiot, realized what was going on, switched to another one, and proceeded to burn the other three on the pull down. I looted, ran out, came back in and they were rest.

So my fellow druid tanks… go farm some mounts!

Okay, and after having farmed solo for a bit, and getting MY mounts, some guildies decided to come in and join me for a bit. I admit, it’s neat to run around on these mounts.

aqmounties2

In the interests of full disclosure…

Lessons I have learned this very evening…

I am now, officially, a lightweight. It has been so ridonkulously long since I actually drank so much as a single beer, that three bottled Guinness Draught imbibed over the course of a 1 hour 54 minute period has caused me to become mildly buzzed.

I am a cause for shame amongst proper Guinness drinking Marines, and I shall hang my head low henceforth.

At least I can console myself with the knowledge that I’m a cheap date.

Too bad I’ve already got my date for the prom…

Second… the movie Battle Royale is one fucked up flick.

No, seriously. I don’t often drop the f-bomb, but I mean, WTF was up with THAT shit?!?

I had long heard about this insane Japanese movie about a normal class of kids trapped on an island by their government, and forced to fight to the death until only one was left alive, to punish them for skipping sch0ol wantonly… but I truly did not believe it was gonna be that over the top.

And this coming from a guy that lived in Okinawa for a year and had a video rental card in town for some straight, real deal non-import anime. That’s where I learned about the movie Silent Möbius, a film I’ve still never personally seen stateside, whose art in 1990-something simply blew me away. Even after all that, I was still not prepared for Battle Royale. 

Oh, and why did I watch it?

I blame Netflix. After having a subscription to Netflix for going on four years, I’ve already seen everything I’m even remotely interested in… but I don’t drop it for the sake of yet unreleased stuff. So I’m paying for it… and I’m damn well going to use it. Hence the browsing at random, looking for anything even remotely interesting.

The worst part?

As horrible as that was… it was also so fascinating, so “I cannot believe I am so devoid of taste that I am watching this”, in a total train wreck kind of way, that I watched every minute of it’s 1:54 running length…

And I’m actually considering getting part two on Netflix.

I’d forgotten how much I liked watching a movie in a language foreign to me with subtitles, though. If it was in straight English, I doubt I’d have made it through the first 15 minutes. But subtitles… yummy! It’s just like reading a really great book, but with pictures that move! Neat!

Makes me want to rewatch my copy of Brotherhood of the Wolf.

My idea of a great film with subtitles, is when, halfway through the film, you suddenly think you understand Japanese or French, because you’ve become so caught up in the movie you forgot you were reading the dialogue.

Or maybe I’m the only one that does that.

I swear, halfway through Brotherhood of the Wolf, I totally thought I suddenly could understand the French language. I was even mentally quoting awesome lines of dialogue in my head… that I had read onscreen.

Hey, look! Midnight! Guess I get to be tired tomorrow for work. 

It was, in a sad, chilling out, decompressing kind of way, worth it.

Catch you later, mi amigos.

Posting has become erratic… I'm still here

As you might have noticed, my posting schedule has become somewhat erratic.

I am still posting, I still intend to continue posting, but with my new schedule, I am working many more hours and spending a lot more time in transit to and from work.

This has caused me to have less time to write posts, and much less time to actually play, then previously.

Once I get things at work stable, get some programs in place, get some of the processes started that will help me to track changes, I’ll have some more time freed up.

In the meantime… well, I’m sure there shall be no lack of exciting blogs to read while my posts cut down to one every other day or so for the next week or two.

I’ve been writing the same Storytime for two days now… and I just don’t have tons of free time to spend on it. Kinda makes me sad.

But, as Shrinn might say, “I lurves you all!”.

How to bring Uber to your alt!

This is a cutesy post to fuel your excitement to play an alt.

The idea is quite simple, and merely requires a level 80 toon. All you folks carping all the time about being bored surely have ten of those by now, right?

Step the first: Run tons of Heroics, preferably when your faction controls Wintergrasp so you get lots of Stone Keeper Shards.

Step 2: Save up your Emblems of Heroism and Stone Keeper’s Shards until you have silly amounts of them.

Step 3: Decide what kind of alt you want to make Uber.

Step 4: Purchase Bind on Account items for Shoulders, Main (and OH and Ranged, if applicable) weapons, and a Trinket.

Step 5: Go nuts!

It’s just that simple.

Let’s take an easy example… a Feral Druid alt.

For a Feral Druid, you would choose the Balanced Heartseeker (40 Emblems) for a Main Hand weapon (no, there really aren’t any super perfect Feral Druid weapons), the Stained Shadowcraft Spaulders for your shoulders (40 Emblems), and the Swift Hand of Justice for a Trinket (50 Emblems).

If your budget on Emblems is tight, of course, you could use the Sharpened Scarlet Kris (200 Stone Keeper Shards) or the Exceptional Stormshroud Shoulders (200 Stone Keeper Shards) in their place. The drawback of the Stone Keeper Shard items in terms of pure PvE awesomeness is that they have some of their item budget used for Resilience. On the other hand… there are few other uses for all those shards, so why the heck not?

Now, no matter WHAT you do, my advice to you, if you are playing an alt from level 1 to 25, is to purchase your Shoulders first. Try very, very hard to get yourself a set of Shoulders.

Once you have some Shoulders purchased by your level 80 Emblem farmer (that’s all those 80s are good for, didn’tcha know), you need to carry your 80’s happy butt on over to Master Sergeant Biggins in Stormwind for the Alliance, or to Brave Stonehide for the Horde, and purchase a Greater Inscription of the Gladiator for 10,000 Honor. 

That’s right. Your level 80 (or whichever character you have that is level 70+ and has 10,000 Honor) can take your nice new Shoulders, enchant them with the Inscription, and then mail them off to your lowbie alt with no problem whatsoever.

The Heirloom Bind on Account items, you see, can be enchanted by any enchant that can be applied to items that are level 1. Fiery or Crusader or Lifestealing can be put on your swords or daggers (and wow, is Crusader fun for leveling Kitties now that it procs), and the Greater Inscription of the Gladiator can and bloody well should be put on your new Shoulders.

Also, your new Bind on Account items scale in power depending on your level, staying about equivalent to a good Blue (rare) item of your level… but the enchants stay the same regardless.

So if you are, say, a lowly level 15 Druid with 400 base Health… the Shoulder enchant alone almost doubled your active Health.

That’s right, my friends. You can be a level 1 (okay, whatever level you are by the time you reach a mailbox) Druid with Shoulders, Dagger and Trinket… and a +300 Health enchant.

Go try tanking Deadmines now!

It’s crazy wicked.

Rogues and Hunters can really get tricked out, because not only do they use the Shoulders, and can Dual Wield weapons for twice the stat fun, AND use the Trinket… but you can also equip one of the Bind on Account ranged weapons, as well, for super nice stats, all the time, every level.

Sure, most of us are used to cruising the Auction House for those Blues… but how valuable is it to have Blue quality weapons and shoulders that act like you JUST upgraded them almost every time you level?

Oh, and protip… none of these items has a Durability rating… so none of them suffer durability damage when you die.

Not too tacky, eh?

So what are you waiting for? Dump that tired old main and start an Uberalt™ today!