He said a naughty word

I was over at my friend Mark’s house yesterday, ostensibly to spend some time visiting his family.

Hah!

The truth is, Mark is a diehard BYU fan, and BYU was playing their dread rivals, Utah, and Mark wanted someone there to share commentary with.

Now, Mark and his family are Mormons, and this means that I am under strict instruction from Cassie on the type of language I am allowed to use.

As in, she beats the unholy crap out of me (pun intended) in advance so that the bruises will help serve to remind me that I am not to swear while visiting the Murphy household.

There we are, all set to watch the BYU vs Utah game, and along come two more families, friends of Mark and football fans themselves, to watch with us.

Me. Surrounded by THREE families of Mormon football fanatics.

And the group is split 50/50 between BYU fans and Utes fans.

I learned a few things from watching this game with my friends.

First, I learned that “butt” is a naughty word. At one point, a BYU receiver fumbled the ball within milliseconds of landing on his posterior, and as Mark (who controlled the DVR remote) fast-forwarded, rewound, slo-moed and accelerated the shot to try and get the perfect angle, they discussed the player landing on his butt before releasing the ball, landing on his butt after releasing the ball, butt, butt, butt.

And then one family member chided another, saying “We don’t say butt, it’s a naughty word.”

Ummm…. that’s part of the name of my website. My website is a naughty word?

“It’s okay, we don’t hold it against you.”

lol!

Second, I learned that diehard football fans only have a game on for an excuse to talk to each other about past games.

Frequently, I would catch something going on during the actual game we were supposedly watching, that no one else caught, because they were too wrapped up in talking about past rivalries. Or coaching mistakes. Or putting signs in each other’s yards proclaiming their love for the enemy team, and other shenanigans. Or the signifcance of BYU wearing the Royal Blue color on their jerseys as an homage to their winning ’84 season, when they’be wearing Navy all this season as a current color.

Third, I found out that there are lots of euphemisms for naughty words.

That ties directly into point the second.

See, here’s the deal. Mark has long shared his pride with me in the BYU football team’s clean, wholesome upbringing and how important moral values are to the players.

That’s excellent. During the game, I noticed one of the players had “God is #1” tatooed on his biceps. I thought that was a nice touch.

That’s all cool, but it leaves you open for a little gentle ribbing if, at some point, someone on the team does a no-no that nobody else on any other team would ever be chastised for.

Case in point.

This was, as I said, a team rivalry. BYU versus the Utes. And it was a great game, it eventually went 20/20 at the end into overtime, and BYU won with a TD in second overtime, all very exciting.

But the game was certainly marked with an amazing amount of personal fouls. Flag on this play, flag on that play, late hits, early hits, face masks, pushing, knee to the groin, it was fabulous.

At one point, I think in the first quarter, there was a solid personal foul that allowed the Utes to get in a third field goal over BYU.

The camera cut over to get a reaction shot of treasured BYU quarterback Max Hall, who is a stellar quarterback for the team this year.

It was a perfect framed shot. The camera cut to a full frontal of Max Hall, just as Max Hall clearly was reacting to the field goal… reading his lips, Max clearly said “Fuck Me”, and then the camera cut away.

I burst out laughing.

Nobody else in the room had caught it, because they weren’t paying attention to the game, they were having fun chatting about past games.

So they asked what was so funny.

I told them that BYU’s star QB just got busted saying a naughty word on national TV.

Mark rewound the film… well, here. I’ll show you.

“What did he say, mommy?”

“He said fahrfignewton, dear. That’s a no-no.”

“Well, at least he didn’t say vaccuum.”

“That’s true.”

Wait, what? Vaccuum?

“Oh, look, in the next clip he’s getting chewed out by a line coach, looks like that’s going to leave a mark.”

“I bet going over the game clips for this one is going to be fun.”

Oh, and can I just say how funny I thought it was that, sure enough, I checked YouTube and somebody DID feel it was necessary to put a clip of Max Hall up? That’s priceless.

Good times, good times. I love my friends.

Patch 3.2 Bear Gear Starter List (Armor)

The purpose of this gear list is to help those folks that have been asking me what to look for as a new 80, from start to being prepared for Icecrown 5 person instances in Patch 3.3.

This list is to serve as a guide for how I rank items you can acquire from professions, world drops, quests, regular instances, heroic instances, emblems of all kinds, Argent Tournament Crusader Seals and PvP.

No raids are included, not even the commonly pugged ones. I rarely if ever am asked to provide a raiding bear’s list of upgrades. What people ask for from me is a helpful starting ground for when they want to get cracking as a new bear, and don’t really know where to look first.

I hope that you do seek out fun in 10 or 25 person raids, and have a great time. If and when you do, remember to maintain a balance between Stamina and Agility/Dodge Rating for both Health and Dodge, and when your raid item inevitably isn’t on this list, check to see where your pieces would fall based on comparison to others on this list.

Whether you prefer more Stamina rather than Agility, or vice versa, more Hit Rating, more Expertise, more Crit Rating, etc is really dependant on your current gear overall. There is no gear list that can replace your judgment. What this list can do is help point out where some great upgrades in general can be found when you’re first starting out.

This first list covers armor. Every item on this list has an Armor Value that is affected by the Bear Form Multiplier. Thus, higher Armor Value matters a great deal for these items.

Helm

Enchant: Arcanum of the Stalwart Protector Rep vendor: Argent Crusade (Revered)
Meta Gem: Austere Earthsiege Diamond

Relentless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm – PvP Reward
Hood of Lethal Intent  – 75 Emblem of Triumph (Non-set item)
Malfurion’s Headguard of Conquest  – 50 Emblem of Triumph and no token from Tier 9 vendor
Furious Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm  – PvP Reward
Conqueror’s Nightsong Headguard – Token for turn in costs 58 Emblems of Conquest
Mask of Distant Memory  – Drops from The Black Knight in Heroic Trial of the Champion
Deadly Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm – PvP Reward
Weakness Spectralizers – Engineering crafted BoP 
Titan-Forged Leather Helm of Triumph – 40 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Hateful Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm – PvP Reward
Mask of the Watcher – Drops from Eregos in Heroic Oculus
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Helm – 45 Emblem of Heroism
Shroud of Darkness – Drops from Zuramat the Obliterator in Heroic Violet Hold
Helm of Cheated Fate – Drops from Drakkari Elemental in Heroic Gundrak
Hood of the Furtive Assassin – Drops from Loken in Halls of Lightning
Headguard of Retaliation – Reward from Quest, “Vengeance Be Mine!” in Utgarde Pinnacle
Battlemap Hide Helm – Drops from Prince Keleseth in Heroic Utgarde Keep
Eviscerator’s Facemask – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at level 78

Shoulders

Enchant:
Master’s Inscription of the Pinnacle (Inscriptionists only)
Greater Inscription of the Gladiator (10,000 Honor Points)
Greater inscription of the Pinnacle (Sons of Hodir – Exalted)

Relentless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders – PvP Reward
Duskstalker Shoulderpads – 45 Emblem of Triumph
Malfurion’s Shoulderpads of Conquest – 30 Emblem of Triumph and no token from Tier 9 vendor
Furious Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders – PvP Reward
Valorous Dreamwalker Shoulderpads – Token for turn in costs 60 Emblems of Valor
Deadly Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders – PvP Reward
Trollwoven Spaulders – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Shoulderpads of the Infamous Knave – Drops from The Black Knight in Regular Trial of the Champion
Hateful Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders – PvP Reward
Sprinting Shoulderpads – Drops from Elder Nadox in Heroic Ahn’kahet
Spaulders of the Careless Thief – Drops from Grand Magus Telestra in Heroic Nexus
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Spaulders – Emblem of Heroism
Eviscerator’s Shoulderpads – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at level 78

Cloak

Enchant: Major Agility (+22 Agility)

Platinum Mesh Cloak – 25 Emblem of Valor
Durable Nerubhide Cape – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Shroud of Reverberation – Drops from Volkhan in Heroic Halls of Lightning
Hammerhead Sharkskin Cloak – 25 Emblem of Valor
Ice Striker’s Cloak – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Cloak of the Gushing Wound – Drops from Erekem in Heroic The Violet Hold
Cloak of the Enemy – Drops from Commander (first boss) in Heroic Nexus
Drape of the Undefeated – Drops from The Black Knight in Trial of the Champion (more a DPS cloak)

Chest

Enchant: Super Stats

Knightbane Carapace – Leatherworking crafted BoE from a recipe drop in Trials raid
Relentless Gladiator’s Dragonhide Robes – PvP Reward
Malfurion’s Raiments of Conquest – 50 Emblem of Triumph and no token from Tier 9 vendor
Furious Gladiator’s Dragonhide Robes – PvP Reward
Conqueror’s Nightsong Raiments – Token costs 58 Emblems of Conquest
Titan-Forged Leather Tunic of Triumph – 40 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Polar Vest – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Robes – 45 Emblem of Heroism
Darkheart Chestguard – Rep vendor: Knights of the Ebon Blade (Exalted)
Crystal-Infused Tunic – Drops from Keristrasza in Heroic Nexus
Exotic Leather Tunic – Reward from Quest, “Junk in My Trunk” in Utgarde Pinnacle
Drake Rider’s Tunic – Drops from Skadi the Ruthless in Regular Utgarde Pinnacle
Eviscerator’s Chestguard – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at level 78

Wrist

Enchant: Major Stamina (40 Stamina)

Bracers of Swift Death – Leatherworking crafted BoE from a recipe drop in ToC Raid
Titan-Forged Armwraps of Triumph – 15 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Armbands of the Wary Lookout – Drops from The Black Knight in Heroic Trial of the Champion
Wristwraps of the Cutthroat – 60 Emblem of Valor
Bindings of the Tunneler – Drops from Skarvald the Constructor in Heroic Utgarde Keep
Hateful Gladiator’s Armwraps of Triumph – PvP Reward
Dragonfriend Bracers – Rep vendor: The Wyrmrest Accord (Exalted)
Advanced Tooled-Leather Bands – Drops from Loken in Heroic Halls of Lightning
Drake-Champion’s Bracers – BoE Trash drop from Oculus, buyable on AH
King’s Square Bracers – BoE Trash drop from Culling of Time – Strat, buyable on AH
Eviscerator’s Bindings – Leatherworking crafted, useable at level 78

Hands

Enchant: Major Agility (+20 Agility)

Malfurion’s Handgrips of Conquest – 30 Emblem of Triumph
Gloves of the Blind Stalker – 28 Emblem of Conquest
Gloves of the Argent Fanatic – Drops from either 2nd boss in Regular Trial of the Champion
Charged-Bolt Grips – Drops from Ionar in Heroic Halls of Lightning
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Gloves – 30 Emblem of Heroism
Handwraps of Preserved History – Quest reward from “A Royal Escort” in Culling of Time: Strat
Bile-Cured Gloves – Drops from Meathook in Heroic Culling of Time: Strat
Gilt-Edged Leather Gauntlets – Drops from King Ymiron in Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle
Sidestepping Handguards – Drops from Mage-Lord Urom in Regular Oculus
Seafoam Gauntlets – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at level 78
Eviscerator’s Gauntlets – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at level 78

Waist

Enchants: Don’t forget your Eternal Belt Buckle

Belt of the Twilight Assassin – 28 Emblem of Conquest
Death-warmed Belt – Leatherworking recipe for BoE drops in Ulduar 25
Sharp-Barbed Leather Belt – Drops from Ingvar the Plunderer in Heroic Utgarde Keep
Titan-Forged Belt of Triumph – 15 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Trollwoven Girdle – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Jorach’s Crocolisk Skin Belt – 40 Emblem of Heroism
Polar Cord – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Treasure Seeker’s Belt – BoE trash drop in Azjol-Nerub, buyable from AH

Leggings

Enchant: Frosthide Leg Armor

Malfurion’s Legguards of Conquest – 50 Emblem of Triumph and no token from Tier 9 vendor
Titan-Forged Leather Legguards of Triumph – 40 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Leggings of Wavering Shadow – 39 Emblem of Conquest
Valorous Dreamwalker Legguards – Token purchased from vendor costs 75 Emblems of Valor
Mind-Expanding Leggings – Rep vendor: Kirin Tor (Revered)
Gored Hide Legguards – Drops from Gal’darah in Heroic Gundrak
Legguards of Swarming Attacks – Drops from Amanitar in Heroic Ahn’kahet
Leggings of Brazen Trespass – Drops in Eadric’s (loot pinata) Cache in Regular Trial of the Champion
Savage Gladiator’s Dragonhide Legguards – 45 Emblem of Heroism
Ravenous Leggings of the Furbolg – Drops from Gortok Palehoof in Heroic Utgarde Pinnacle
Chain Gang Legguards – World Drop BoE, buyable in AH
Constellation Leggings – Drops in Tribunal Chest in Regular Halls of Stone
Eviscerator’s Legguards – Leatherworking crafted BoE useable at level 78

Feet

Enchant: Superior Agility (+16 Agility)

Footpads of Silence – Leatherworking recipe drops from Ulduar, crafted BoE, expensive
Treads of Dismal Fortune – Drops from 1st Champion fight, Heroic ToC
Titan-Forged Boots of Triumph – 15 Wintergrasp Mark of Honor
Polar Boots – Leatherworking crafted BoE
Hateful Gladiator’s Boots of Triumph – PvP Reward
Boots of Captain Ellis – 40 Emblem of Valor
Slag Footguards – Drops from Volkhan in Heroic Halls of Lightning
Gorloc Muddy Footwraps – Drops from Eck in Heroic Gundrak
Treads of Nimble Evasion – 10 Champion’s Seal (Argent Tournament)
Boots of the Whirling Mist – Drops from Sjonnir The Ironshaper in Heroic Halls of Stone
Boots of the Neverending Path – Rep vendor: Argent Crusade (Exalted)
Jormscale Footpads – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at 78
Eviscerator’s Treads – Leatherworking crafted BoE, useable at 78

Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?

Ahh, a gratuitous Full Metal Jacket quote.

You know it’s going to be a good day.

Oh, and the quote has no relevance to the post. I just like quoting Full Metal Jacket. And I wish I had an R. Lee Ermey action figure.

I said action figure, damn it!

So, what brought me to just spontaneously mention R. Lee Ermey, John Wayne, and Full Metal Jacket?

I was reading a post by Chawa at The Wayward Initiative, where she has an idea for an Achievement Title she’d like to see added to the Pilgrim holiday event… and was soliciting ideas for what you could do to earn it. 🙂

I’ll give you a minute to go over there, read the post, and then bookmark the site. With posts like that, you’ll want to go visit again, right?

Okay, let’s go.

The quote Chawa chose is pretty good. It sets up the situation… “You done caused a lot of trouble today, and you dearly deserve a solid asskicking. I’m a better man, and I’m not gonna be the one to lower myself to give it to you. Wait, you know what? On second thought, screw that, I am gonna kick your ass.”

So in what situation can we identify someone that needs an asskicking, and then proceed to kick their ass?

Of course, I immediately consider ways to pwn my own faction. If there is anything that can get a person frustrated, it’s having to deal with people being asshats on your own faction, in your pugged groups, in your Trade chat, whatever, and not being able to gank the living shit out of them.

The next thing that comes to mind is, if it’s for an Achievement during a temporary holiday, with a 7 day duration… can we get have a temporary ‘smackdown’ item or flag for them, that lets us affect our own faction?

Now, how to make sure the people that get nailed are those that deserve it.

That… that right there is the hard part, isn’t it?

After all, who determines who deserves a good asskicking?

Well, sure, me. Of course. You can trust me. 🙂

As Future Sam thought to Past Sam in Night Watch, sometimes the difference between something being right or wrong is that it’s you doing it. 

Okay, that’s facetious, but when I read that, I knew what he was saying. You know what your intent is, and if you’re gonna take the law into your own hands and be a vigilante, well, you know your own motives, right? But that other bastard… who the hell knows WHAT he was thinking? He’s probably an evil, mean, nasty sumbitch, right?

Okay, it was a lot funnier when Sam thought it.

Still needs to be said… *I* may be okay with me having the power to decide who does or does not deserve an in-game asskicking… but I bet *you* aren’t.

So, who do you trust?

In World of Warcraft, we’d have to trust Blizzard’s game designers, right?

So, for there to be a judgment set up by Blizzard game designers… it has to be able to be articulated and implemented in an automatic fashion through programming.

Is it possible to build in a method by which the game can detect a behavior, and then mark the person for elimination (or bitchslapping) by players?

In Borean Tundra, those PITA types don’t like you killing animals. If you kill an animal, you get covered in blood until you enter water to wash it off. If they see you while you’re covered in animal blood, boom. They go after you.

This shows there is a mechanism in game for detecting whether someone has fulfilled a condition, and is or is not open for attack by computer controlled NPCs. Additionally, there is a built-in marking function that can be tied to the condition, so players can see it as well. It can even be set so the condition is not set by duration, but can be persistant until logout, or by fulfilling some specific condition… like being killed, or entering a water area.

Taking an example from the distant past, if you merely walk on certain areas, even in a PvE server, you get flagged instantly for PvP whether you like it or not, and that makes you wide open to attack by the opposite faction. 

This means there is a mechanism in place for recognizing behavior, such as traveling in a zone, and becoming flagged for player PvP against your will.

So… is it possible to tie, say… typed chat into the triggering mechanism?

Can you, perhaps, have the chat system recognise spammed/repeated sentences or comments from a player, or frequency of comment from a player, and if someone spams Trade chat, say, with a repeated statement or with a big macro or saying, then they immediately get a big Skull placed over their head, and flagged for same-faction/any faction wide open PvP gankage?

Oh please… please, let it be so.

I know it’s too much to ask to be able to destroy a same-faction loot ninja on sight… but if someone that ports into Dalaran and starts to spam Trade were flagged and marked with a nice shiny Skull over their head, maybe for as long as 5 minutes, and could be killed by ANYONE… oh, what fun.

Do a /who, see what city they’re in, and then go hunting.

“There he is! The little bastard is hiding in the Dal sewers near the Poison seller! Get him, guys!”

[Boot to the head!]

/sigh

And while I’m wishing, I’d like a pony, please.

Video Game Definitions

Video Game Definitions

The “Good” controller: The one controller out of dozens in the house you are convinced actually works. Often fought over when playing multiplayer fighting games.

The “S.O.B.” controller: The controller you throw across the room with all of your might, screaming “Son of a bitch”, after losing your last life to a totally cheesy bugged jump platform 30 minutes after the last game save. Often discovered to have formerly been the good controller.

Vintage Game Console: A game console you remember as being made of solid gold (or costing as if it were), having the greatest games of all time, and providing thousands of hours of pure joy. When plugged in, often crashes in mid-game at the wrong time, requiring the cartridge to be removed, taken apart, and an eraser run over the corroded copper contacts to make it work again.

Headset Microphone: Intended for use in coordinating actions in a multiplayer game. Actually used to listen to random people talk about sex, getting high, and bitching about corpse campers and loot ninjas.

Handheld gaming system: The dangerous big brother of the SOB controller. Most wonderful invention known to man after the bacon sandwich, except when you try to play it in direct sunlight. Usually designed without an internal light, forcing gamers to seek out a delicate balance between daylight and shadow, known as ‘gamers twilight’. Versions made with internal lights, or screens that can be seen in daylight, are released as new models costing more than the original, and yet the corporate offices are, surprisingly, not stormed. Often found in bathrooms and in school book bags next to undone homework.

Video Card: An excuse to spend thousands of dollars over the years in a deranged suicidal arms race love pact with hardware designers and graphics programmers to see who will crack first. If a video card were finally released that was capable of modeling the real world in 3D in finer resolution than the eye could recognise, a video game would be released 3 months later that required two of the cards in a parallel configuration to run at max resolution. And people would buy them.

Games intended for children: Made with horrible graphics, terrible repetitive gameplay, poor controls, and game crashing bugs. Sells very well due to featuring a licensed character from a television show or popular product line that parents recognise when desperately trying to find a present for other people’s children.

Games intended for teens: Feature platforming puzzles, cute characters, fast gameplay and cartoony graphics. Primarily played by adults. Frequently kept on gamers shelves for years, even decades, from a fondness for the tight gameplay experience.

Games Rated M for Mature: Games intended for mature players, commonly containing nudity, profanity, extreme violence or gore, murder, death, slaughter, wanton chaos and cruelty to small furry animals. Primarily played by teens. The video game equivalent of the horror film; talked about at school in hushed tones, the ‘cool’ kids have all either played it or have seen it played. Kids watch scenes of gameplay on Youtube to be “in the know”. Frequently dumped two weeks after release in favor of the new, hot, controversial game on the market, and never heard of again.

Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Game: Any game where the core gameplay comes from a persistent world filled with a large community of live players. As each game design company works harder to make a more pleasing and enticing world to draw in new players, more people decide to abandon the real world to lose themselves in a happier place where things make more sense. Eventually the design wars will result in the creation of an online utopia, the real world will be abandoned, and people will have wires stuck up their butts and be turned into batteries.

Original author of every word… ME! (BBB)

Why? Because I thought it would be funny.  Feel free to add your own, I could go on for hours… I didn’t even touch console wars, console versus PC, PC versus Mac… man, these things write themselves.

A word of advice on hunting Wild Turkey

First, try your local liquor store. They got lots.

No, seriously, the latest seasonal event has a quest where you have to kill 40 Wild Turkeys, and you only have 30 seconds between kills to get the next one, or the counter resets.

The only place to find them are Elwynn Forest, or Tirisfal Glades.

Competition, as you might have noticed, is fierce.

My advice?

If you are a Druid, make sure you eat some Tracker Snacks.

The Turkeys are level 1 Beasts, so you will be able to track them, to help you find that crucial next one.

You buy the recipe from the Dalaran Cooking trainer.

That is all.

In love of Ret Pallies

In one of my more recent posts, I said;

I know I’ve been told that Retribution DPS sucks compared to other classes, and the reason for it is to compensate for a Paladin’s survivability in PvP. I’ve been told that I should just accept that people aren’t going to want a Ret Paladin in their runs, because we don’t, ahem, “put out”.

I’d like to point out that the key words in those sentences are “I’ve been told.”

I never meant to suggest that *I* believed it. I meant to suggest that there are clearly people out there that *do* believe it… and when you’re trying to get a group with strangers from the community, it doesn’t matter what you know, it matters what the majority of the community believes.

Hey, a lot of people in the community can believe that Greg Street wears briefs instead of boxers, that doesn’t make it so.

Noobs. Ghostcrawler is too manly for briefs.

He goes commando, of course.

Now that I’ve left you with that mental image, I’ll move on.

To prove that I bear the retribution Paladins nothing but love, I’m linking to two of my absolute favoritist Retribution Paladin bloggers… and I invite you to recommend your favorites in the comments. (Ret, not Prot… there are tons of great Prot bloggers, darn straight, but they get all the love already).

My two favorites are Jong of Forbearance, whom I’ve mentioned a few times recently as I have been playing my Paladin more, and Morrighan of Caer Morrighan fame.

Morrighan is simply awesome, and has great informative posts mixed in with fun, and Jong… well, Jong has expressed a love of Bacon and Bruce Willis in the past. How can you not swear allegience to a man like that?

In other news, I think I need to make a Pally alt on a server somewhere called “Pallywhacker”…

In closing, I’d like to show you a little sample of my night last night as a Retribution Paladin, for those who wonder if I actually am doing anything other than sitting in /Trade pining away…

AchieveStack

See? I DO play my Paladin!

And my thanks to The Zug Initiative for carrying me along with you. 🙂 It was great fun.

Attunements – your mileage may vary

Welcome to a rousing edition of “Back in my day, we walked to school, in the snow, uphill… both ways.”

Also known as comparing old school gameplay with the new world order.

But I wanna do something NOW!

Blizzard has recently announced that the much anticipated Icecrown Citadel raids are not going to be released as one huge content release. Instead, they will be unlocking a certain number of bosses at regular intervals, with spaces of perhaps a few weeks in between each release.

This, it is supposed, will allow guilds to concentrate on the awesomeness of the first group of bosses, and really pay attention so as not to lose out on any of the cool features of the released challenges. Otherwise, if they released everything all at once, why, guilds might give the fights scant attention, due to just trying to ‘rush through’ each fight in their eagerness to see how far they can get in the shortest possible amount of time. 

Or maybe they’d just like everyone to relax and not get so caught up in raiding over the holidays. Who knows? My interpretation of the reason is certainly open to debate.

The point is, there is a new big raid coming soon, but you won’t be able to do it at the pace your guild is capable of, you will be limited to going no faster than the pace they have chosen for you.

And you can be certain that there will be multiple hard modes for encounters.

I wanted to mention it, not because it affects me all that grievously, but because sometimes in the midst of day to day events, it’s easy to lose sight of what brought you to this pass.

Stay awhile, and listen

I recently decided to do something silly.

I decided to get my Kara key on my Paladin.

I always liked Karazhan. Why not go see about getting the key so I can pop in there whenever I want?

And more, how about the Urn as well? The whole 9 yards, the quest chains inside and out, everything.

Thinking about the prospect brought to mind how I felt the first time I approached this on my main, Windshadow.

I’d reached level 70, I’d run some regular instances, I’d run some heroics, but here was the big time. If I wanted to raid with a guild, I’d have to be able to get into Karazhan. I’d have to get the key.

It took effort. It took some planning. There were goals. There was a lot to do.

And there was a lot of anticipation. You knew you were taking on a big challenge to get it all done, but at the end, you would be all set to enter Karazhan whenever you’d like.

You start by going on out to Karazhan itself, where you are directed to complete a few quests, getting some essences and divining the locations of ley line activity.

From there, you travel a great distance, where you introduce yourself for the first time to the Kirin Tor, at the blasted ruins where Dalaran once stood. There, you present the findings of your investigations, and are sent to go forth to Shattrath, to begin following up with the mysteries of Karazhan.

Traveling to Shattrath, you talk directly to legendary Khadgar himself, and you discover that, to enter Karazhan itself, you must recover three fragments of the fabled Key to that legendary edifice. These fragments were hidden in locations that once were quite secure, but now, with the shattering of Outlands, has resulted in them being quite difficult to obtain.

The first key fragment you must acquire was placed deep within the Shadow Labyrinth, in fact it is now in the same chamber within which Murmur now tries to force his way into Auchindoin. Go forth, and recover it!

You travel to Auchindoin, and prepare to go in and get the key fragment.

But wait! The doors to Shadow Labyrinth are locked, and you must first get a key to unlock those doors, before you can proceed (or be a Rogue with lockpicking of 350, etc). The Key to Shadow Labyrinth drops from the last boss of another of the Auchindoin instances. Are you prepared to face Talon King Ikiss of Sethekk Halls?

That’s right, you must triumph against Sethekk Halls, and once that is done, THEN you are free to enter Shadow labyrinth, and get the first key fragment.

You return to Shattrath, and there you learn that the last two key fragments require you to go to two other instances… Steamvaults in Zangarmarsh, and Arcatraz in Netherstorm.

You enter Steamvaults, and find that this key was concealed deep in a pond, which is not too far from the entrance. Well, they can’t ALL be at end boss areas, now can they? These areas were supposed to have once been secure, and what happened to  make them difficult to reach happened afterwards. Mission accomplished! Whew!

Then, you journey across the Outlands to the far off distant Arcatraz.

You rush to enter, but wait! This, too, is locked! You need a Key to the Arcatraz to get in!

Okay, that’s fine. How do we do that?

Well, it involves going to Area 52, and befriending Nether-Stalker Kay’ji, who is having some problems with those darn Zaxxis and Warp-Raider Nesaad. Why don’t you help him out?

After a while of doing him favors, then his boss, then his bosses’ boss and head high muckety muck Nexus-Prince Haramad, you eventually do more than just gain the Key to the Arcatraz. You actually recover the Ata’mal Crystal, and are sent to return it, as a sign of peace, to A’dal himself in Shattrath.

This is the shit, in case you’re wondering.

NOW you are told that bad things are brewing, and in order to find out more, you must obtain the key to the Arcatraz. This involves killing two entities, that just happen to be the end bosses of… wait for it… Botanica and Mechanar. Once you have killed both of them and obtained their two pieces of the key, you will be able to open the Arcatraz, go all the way inside to the final boss, and get the third fragment to the Key of Karazhan. 

Holy crap, that was awesome, wasn’t it? Damn, I earned that Kara key!

But wait… that sense of accomplishment was good, but you’re not quite there yet.

You’ve got the three key fragments, return them to Khadgar, and wait patiently for the Kara attunement.

Unfortunately, even though you’ve got the pieces, the Key won’t work unless it has Medivh’s blessing on it. Yes, Medivh is dead, but that’s okay. If you travel to the Caverns of Time, you can enter the Black Morass, traveling back in time to speak with Medivh… personally.

While he’s in the very act of opening the Dark Portal.

Holy crap again, right?

Okay, we can do this. Off we go to the Dark Portal. Hummina hummina.

But wait! What’s this? Khadgar may have sent you, but the Bronze Dragonflight are in a sticky situation. They need help in restoring the fragile balance of events, and want you to go take care of something for them in the distant past… and they control the portals. You cannot go into the Black Morass until you first help them rescue… Thrall!

That’s right, you must go back in time to when Thrall, then a young orc ophan, was held captive in Durnholde Keep, being trained as a gladiator, kept enslaved and taught the strategy and tactics of the Alliance races that he would one day turn on the Alliance itself, founding the Horde of today. 

War Chief. Shaman. Thrall himself.

There are those beings known as the Infinite Dragonflight that seek to go back in time to destroy him, and you must see to it that he is rescued, and goes free.

Man, this shit is epic, dawg! Sign my butt right up!

Off you go, complete the Escape from Durnholde Keep, and prove yourself to the Bronze Dragonflight against the forces of the Infinite Dragonflight.

Now that you’ve done that, they send you in to see to it that Medivh survives to open the Dark Portal unhindered by the Infinite Dragonflight… and along the way, you get to show Medivh your key.

He sees it… but decides to keep it to give to Khadgar later, and gives you his very own key to Karazhan in it’s place!

Congratulations, my friend. You have completed an arduous and complicated process that has led you through many instances, many epic storylines, and culminated in granting you access to the fabled halls of Karazhan.

Karazhan!

A place so immense, with it’s basement cellars overrun with beasts and bugs, it’s dining halls and kitchens, it’s secret demonic guests, dragon skeletons and dragon spirits, gaming diversions and mad parents full of “Flame Wreath, don’t move!”

A place so incredible, that running it in all it’s glory, week after week, happily kept players occupied for a year and more!

Is there a point in here, somewhere?

Yes, there is.

I ran down all these epic events that must be followed before Karazhan could be attempted. But I could have done the same thing concerning attunement to fight Onyxia, except that the attunement for Onyxia has been removed. The Karazhan attunement process is still live, and can still be done for those that want to seek it out and enjoy it.

Once upon a time, it was accepted that a part of the process of preparing to raid was to follow a certain amount of preparation. We were fortunate, I think, that the quests and storylines you enjoyed to do this were so epic in scope, so diverse and imaginative.

Sometimes some parts seemed to drag, others were choke points of varying difficulty, and after your third character hit 70 it got old trying to find someone in your raiding guild to go back and bring you through the whole thing again. Appeals for sanity were made.

And change happened.

Attunements were simplified, reduced, and eventually, removed.

I really think that was a mistake.

I love the quests, the stories, the rich world all of this takes part in. Karazhan had a ton of stuff going on, and you played through all of this backstory long before you went in there. And once inside, it took a long time to make your way through, and after the halfway point, it really picked up steam with boss after boss after boss, each rich in history and legend.

Things are certainly more accessible now. Ding 80, throw some stuffs on and in you go, whereever it may be.

Now, if it’s your third max level character, sure. You’ve been there, you’ve done that, it’s all good.

But what about your first?

Does Ulduar seem as epic if you haven’t done any quests at all? Does Heroic Trial of the Crusader?

What about a middle ground? You have the attunement, the Key, the incredible storyline and quests that take you in and out of the world of warcraft content, meeting and interacting with key figures in the story…

But once you’ve done it, the attunement or key is Bind to Account?

One other thing.

Part of the old school of raiding had been bragging rights on which bosses you had completed. How far into the progression you were.

With the inclusion of hard mode variations that are achievement based and optional, it’s become much harder to feel where any particular guild may be, or to feel that you are part of a competition with other guilds, because one guild may skip hard modes to clear first, and others may stay on one hard mode entirely before moving on, or skip some hard modes in favor of others, etc.

Why not change things up a little, so that hard modes themselves cannot be attempted until every member of the run has completed the regular version, in it’s entirety?

That’s right. An attunement you obtain by competing the normal mode, from start to finish, that allow you to enter the hard mode.

And make the entire raid be the hard mode. An entire step up, instead of bits and pieces.

Again, with the Bind on Account attunement, this would mean a guild would only have to get their team through once per player in normal to be attuned. Does that truly seem unreasonable, that new players would have to see the content on normal first before moving on to the advanced mode?

It would certainly return competition at one level… once again, a guild would be able to show where they were in progression, by naming one boss they were at. “We’ve cleared Iron Council Hard”.

I don’t concern myself with advancement or progression, but I do admire competition, and I miss some of the epic feel of the preliminaries to raiding. I miss that feeling that, stepping into a new raid, I had to climb a long way to get there, anticipating how cool it would be the whole time.

Did you hate some attunements? I don’t think that knowing there were bad, pointless or endlessly grinding attunements means that an argument is made that all attunements are bad and should be removed.

Instead, I think that it shows that, when an attunement is done right, it adds to the entire experience, it brings a sense of depth and meaning to what you are doing that really adds to the immersion of the entire experience.

It’s there in Wrath of the Lich King… there are insanely awesome quest chains in Icecrown, in the mountains around Ulduar, in the heart of Dragonblight…

But they are not tied into, or unified together with instances and events to bring you, ultimately, into having to do them once before entering the massive end game raid that they eventually lead into, driving the story to a meaningful conclusion.

And that, my friends, is a shame.

Harping on party politics

I’ve been playing my Paladin a little more the last few days. I really do love Ret, and I decided to see how much trouble I could get into if I just pretended I only had the one spec.

I ended up, two nights ago, getting invited into this wildly successful group that pounded three heroics one right after another, and let me buy the Emblem of Conquest neckpiece for Ret. MmmmMMmm, yummy! This might have had a hand in getting me a little excited too, not that I got an upgrade, but that I got to play! And not in right field, either.

Okay, the prejudice, it felt like it was still there. I was prepared to expect not to get groups as a Ret Paladin.

A group was advertising in Trade channel that they were looking for one DPS for Azjol-Nerub, and it was NOT the daily.

I immediately offered to come DPS… and I got a long, long, long pause before an “okay” and an invite.

Were they throwing down some Pally Ret prejudice? Omigod, should I be all offended?

Nah, I don’t think so, but judge for yourself.

When I joined the group and arrived at Azjol-Nerub, I found out that three of the other four were all from the same guild, the fourth it turned out was a real life friend, and they were all in their own vent. A group that were going to be tight together.

AND…

It was a healing Priest, a Death Knight tank, a feral cat Druid and a Fury Warrior.

That’s right, they already had all melee DPS. So, by inviting me, they had to have discussed if they wanted to deal with all melee DPS in Azjol-Nerub before saying “let’s go for it.”

I think that’s a good lesson in not reading too much into a situation, or looking for reasons to be pissy or get offended. I know some folks that would have been so irritated at not being quickly invited they would have gotten on their high horse and refused the group.

But flip it around… have you ever needed one more for an instance or a raid, and used the current composition of your group to decide that some classes would be preferred for the challenge than others?

I know I have. Heroic ToC, forming a PuG, already have a healer, tank and two melee DPS? Sure, I’ll take a ranged DPS from LFG before a third melee, thinking ahead to the Faction Champion’s warrior whirlwind and rogue poison. I’ll still take whoever happens to be in there, but if given a choice, I’ll have a preference, and act on it.

I was invited to group, and we went into heroic AN. I like that instance, btw. Very fun encounters. 🙂 The scope of the encounters always feels like a good balance between all out fury, and fast response and movement.

The second thing I did after beng invited, was to scope out my team. Inspecting them, I found that, as to be expected, Warrior is sporting the Edge of Ruin, everyone has solid epics in the 200 – 226 range, the tank has the Onyxia tanking weapon, everyone is very well geared.

And then there’s me, still in mostly blues. Sigh.

The results?

Well, first, everyone knew the fights, and there was no discussion. It was pull, fight, win, next, but the tactics used clearly showed that everyone else did indeed know about Skirmisher priorities, poison and Pound and all the rest. They started by using marks, but by the time we were at the first boss, that stopped. We knew who to go after and why. 

So it all came down to doing your job, to the best of your ability, with what you had.

I pulled down a consistent 2.3k DPS on every fight… and I came in third behind the tank and warrior. A very, very close third. I was chasing the warrior every step of the way. And I came in way over the Druid, who was running at about 1.7k dps.

We got the achievement for killing the last boss in under 4 minutes (Gotta Go), had a perfect fast clear, and afterwards went and blazed through Nexus and VH, too.

I know I’ve been told that Retribution DPS sucks compared to other classes, and the reason for it is to compensate for a Paladin’s survivability in PvP. I’ve been told that I should just accept that people aren’t going to want a Ret Paladin in their runs, because we don’t, ahem, “put out”.

Well, can I throw out there that, if you decide in advance how a player is going to perform based on looking at their spec and gear, you deserve exactly what you get. 

It just keeps getting driven home for me, over and over. Gear and spec, even achievements do not mean a player WILL perform to a certain level, it only means that it is possible that they CAN perform at a certain level.

Skill and knowledge still matter. At least, reading expert advice from other people, and trying to implement it in your own gameplay matters.

Attitude also pays a key part.

I wanted to do the best I could. I was trying to get my flow smooth and respond fast.

Did everyone else who was there have the same attitude? Was everyone else trying to kick ass, or were some of them phoning it in? Could the Druid have put out far higher damage, and been a more vital part of the run by off-tanking or using stuns or Innervate when possible, but was actually on his cell phone for most of the night and just going through the motions?

Were the other four chatting and joking and doing a nice, relaxed run, while I was trying to prove I could contribute my fair share towards our joint success? I still had fun, darn skippy, but I was definitely trying to step up and do my best.

Doesn’t really matter. We played, we had fun, we won. I got to practise various things in the real world, and found a few things that were stupid mistakes.

Like, oh, having my Taunt button next to my most used attack button. That was simply brilliant.

Nothing is quite as much fun as thinking I’m the Druid tanking badass, and having to apologise to someone for pulling aggro because I taunted off the tank. 

And now, to move from that simple story of an evening’s fun, and on into the true topic of discussion.

It’s funny, but it seems like I see more people using Gear Scores these days, while I want to go in the exact opposite direction. 

What do Gear Scores and other related websites or addons really do?

In nuts and bolts terms, they provide someone with a means to judge the potential of a complete stranger, to determine if they will be an asset to your group. 

They serve as a replacement for judgment and personal experience with other people.

What you really want to know when you are trying to build a group, is “Does this player have the gear, knowledge and skill to help us win, or will they be ignorant and full of fail?”

You cannot accurately measure someone’s knowledge or skill from spec, gear scores, or achievements. You can’t tell what their attitude is like, or how focused and driven they will be to help the group succeed.

You can demand that people have certain achievements, in the hopes that this will prove they know the fight already and are good enough to have earned it. But all that really proves is that their character was there when it happened.

As an example, what if they were there as a DPS spec the last time, know the fight from that point of view and only that point of view, and now you’re bringing them into your pug as a healer?  Sure, they have the achievement, but they might still know nothing about the healing aspects of the fight.

You can also demand that a player’s gear reach a certain value to prove that they have the potential raw brute power necessary to overwhelm the content. That’s not going to tell you if the person knows to get the hell out of the fire, or that they’re concentrating on your raid instead of splitting their attention watching an episode of Bleach on the TV in their dorm room. No matter how precise the algorithm used to determine gear value against class and spec, you can’t get into the player’s head.

 And I think that’s why I, along with most of the people I play with, think that raid leaders who keep lists of who has been good in pugs, and who wasn’t, and try to only reinvite the players that they know from personal experience can play with skill and determination will always eventually enjoy greater success than random pugs. 

But that doesn’t stop them forming, all the time.

I still think it’s funny, but also a little sad. There will always, it seems, be people that want to win or to succeed, or get their raid on, but don’t want to have to put forth personal effort. People that want to shut their brain off and let something else make the decisions for them, even an automated addon, so they don’t have to take the time or make an effort to do it the right way. 

I wonder… how many of these people then bitch, piss and moan when the raid isn’t successful?

Damn the man!

Ya ain’t never gonna stop me, ain’t never gonna shut me down.
I’m gonna keep on bloggin’, ’till the big guns take me down.
You can try to bring your IP blocks,
You can send the fanboys to beat me down.
You can fire up the D.O.S. attacks,
You can ban me under all kinds of names.
There will STILL be a Big old damn Bear Butt
Munching bacon and writing bearwalls all day.

Damn the man! Where’s Skynard? I wanna hear Freeblog!