One inch deep but a million miles wide

Yesterday, I touched on some of the things I was doing in World of Warcraft that has me feeling like there is too little time for me to do everything I’d like to do.

It wasn’t meant as any kind of statement that there is too much content in WoW for anyone to feel bored, but that seemed to be how at least one person took it, and they wrote a great comment that brought me up short.

Syl of Raging Monkeys said, paraphrasing here, that from the point of view of someone that has one main character they love as their avatar in the game, there is very little to do other than raids and instances. Any new content feels gone the day after it comes out. Being able to do the same 5 quests on 10 alts does not equate to 50 quests worth of content anyway.

I wholeheartedly agree with you, Syl. I’m not saying there is tons of content to do, I’m saying there are tons of things I’m keeping busy doing.

Watch this next bit… I’m going to start rambling about the good old days. And yet, were they really all that good?

There was a time when my Druid was not just my main character, but my only character, just like Syl.

I know for people new to the game it may be hard to imagine, but there was a time when I played my first and only character for three months in Azeroth… just to get to level 60. No alts, no distractions, no other games.

I tackled everything at level, trying to take stuff on at Yellow or Orange difficulty for boosted XP rewards, and I scoured the land looking for more quests. What I didn’t do was try to rush to level, and I didn’t grind mobs. But I quested pretty consistently, and yep, three months.

When I look back on those days, and all the things that have changed since then, I do feel the changes were for the better. But the side effect of all those changes has removed the one thing that helped me love my Druid so much; I loved spending so much time in one zone doing quests that it began to feel as familiar as home. 

When you really think about it, the original pace of the game forced us to take time to advance. And when you spend a lot of time somewhere, you come to know it well.

Maybe you come to love it, maybe you come to loathe it, but damn it you know it!

Aside from the pace of earning XP from quests, and needing more XP then to advance to the next level, there were other reasons we were feet wet in zones for a long time.

We didn’t get mounts until much later, then. We spent 1 through 40 walking everywhere. We carefully planned our hearth settings, gathered and consolidated quests to need fewer trips, we did what we could, but we were slow moving mammals.

One aspect of that easy to forget is that when you’re on foot, it’s a LOT harder to just blast on through to where your quest objectives send you. When you’re on foot, you sneak in or you fight it all, and trying to run just got you dazed/slowed and eaten. You spent more time fighting your way to places.

Another aspect was fast mount speed cost a shitload of gold by old school prices. I knew a lot of people before Burning Crusade that raided, that simply couldn’t afford a thousand gold for an upgraded mount. They had repairs and enchants and crafting Flasks to spend money on instead. So even if you WERE 60, you could be running around and aggro bad guys, and they would be fast enough to catch your ass and knock you off your mount. Phase three… fight!

I still remember the moment I bought my Druid fast mount speed. I was still questing in Silithis, and I had a fast mount, and I was riding past mobs… and they couldn’t catch up to me in time to knock me off my riding cat! I swear to you, that moment I felt a surge of disdain blast right through me.. “Hah! Try to catch ME, mother-)&*(^er! My ass is OUTTA HERE! Nyah, nyah! Woot!”

Another reason I spent a lot of time in zones, time enough to get to know them very well, was that we were comparatively much weaker back then. Gear and talents were aimed at incremental upgrades. It was all additive. You’d get a +3 strength boost on an epic as compared to your best blue. It didn’t seem like much, but when all your gear had those little boosts, it all added up and made you far more effective.

With content balanced with that in mind, tackling 3 or 4 mobs at appropriate level was a hell of a challenge, and just traveling through mobs to get to a quest objective could take a while and some careful planning.

By the time I was done with a zone, I might have been frustrated at how long it all took, but I really knew the area well. I had spent enough time there to develop unique experiences that stayed with me as special events. And gaining a level or two felt like a big deal.

Even now, I can cast my mind back and call forth doing escort quests, orc stronghold invasions, and performing genocidal slaughter of centaurs in Desolace as if it happened to me, and not something that flitted past my eye on screen for a second and was gone.

I remember with fondness the turning point in my feral Druid life, when I took on groups of mobs in Un’goro Crater because they were packed so tight, and developed a feral spec that drew deeply enough on Restoration that I could take Nature’s Swiftness. If it weren’t for how challenging the fights were then, there would have been no call for me to develop a fighting style where I could pull four raptors, burn one down in Cat while accepting the increased damage, switch to Bear and stun one to reduce incoming damage I’ll take in caster to two mobs worth, shift to caster, fire off a Nature’s Swiftness instant cast max level Healing Touch, shift back to Bear to grind them down to one left and then back to Cat to finish it off.

Three mobs, even four, and to still be alive at the end! That was some intense and satisfying fighting, and a true sense of accomplishment that lingers to this day. That was when I began to get a handle on how fun Feral could be if you lived it.

There, just like an old fool I rambled on about the good old days. Those days are long gone, and we have the game to deal with as it is now.

I drift off into into these things, and I think one reason is because I am having a very hard time convincing myself that everything today is rosy red.

I make alts, and they’re fun so long as the rush of possibility is still there. New alt, new name, maybe a new spec to play with, a new race combination, a new combination of professions.

The excitement only lasts while I can keep it different. The new content in Cataclysm is great, and I haven’t seen everything yet, but the closer I get any character to Outlands, the greater the dread grows.

What I try and avoid thinking about is how we have backed ourselves into a corner when it comes to new content.

The playerbase got Burning Crusade, and played it through and loved it. Once we got into end game raiding in Burning Crusade, where there were tons and tons of raids that had all these keys and attunements and quest chains and things to do before we were allowed to enter, we begged to have the leveling process accelerated so we could bring up a second character to help our groups out. DPS wanted to be able to have a Healer alt for when Gene can’t make it. Tanks wanted a DPS for when they felt burnt out.

There was so much to do at end game, we wanted to have extra characters to try and do it all. 

Well, now we’ve got it. The genie is long out of the bottle, the leveling experience is accelerated to ludicrous speed, and we can get alts up in weeks, not months.

But the acceleration applies to all PvE content outside of raids. And those of us with armies of alts long ago leveled them all most or all of the way there.

We’ve done Burning Crusade 8 times, Northrend 8 times, even Cataclysm 8 times.

Cataclysm feels more brutal to me than the others, and I think it’s because they gave us so much new in Azeroth. There is a limit to how much new content anyone can provide in an expansion, and the scope of what we got in Cataclysm was wonderful. It was more than I ever expected.

But it wasn’t quite enough in the end game to satisfy the need for new questing and adventuring.  

Blizzard has done a great job with Azeroth’s revamp, and the races/class combos, and the guild leveling, and the PvP, and even the raiding pace. They are fulfilling their promise of continuous new raiding and instancing content.

But Syl nails it on the head, that for those of us that want to take our main characters on an exciting new adventure, there just isn’t enough. Everything I’m doing is to distract me from that truth.

It is the adventuring that I love, and that calls to mind my favorite moments in the game over the years.

It is going new places with my Druid and seeing new things. In a perfect world, I’d be able to keep doing that with new questing content that came out as regularly as raids and instances. In a perfect world, there would be frequent mini-pack expansions of expanded worlds full of solo or two-person adventuring delight.

There would be $15 expansions of ‘pirate adventures’, and ’empire toppling’, and ‘lost civilization discovery’, the same as the D&D modules we used to buy from TSR. Things to keep you going for another couple of months of lateral adventuring at the same level and with new green level (or blue) quest rewards, leaving the epics to PvP and PvE raiders.

What keeps me from getting cranky about it, or seriously talking about it, is the simple fact that content for adventuring pleases one person at a time, and is only repeatable in that you can do it again with your alts. Content aimed at challenging a group of people can satisfy a whole lot of folks at once, and has a weekly reset timer.

It makes more economic sense to focus design team work on creating content that is inherently repeatable for a group.

The other thing I keep in mind is, Blizzard does have another design team hard at work on a new MMO. They are trying to make something insanely awesome, something that will both blow us away, and at the same time not compete directly with those of us that love the myth and feel of WoW. So I don’t expect the same level of investment in WoW as I would if it was all they had on their plates. WoW revenues help to support new product development. How could it be any other way?

I guess all I’m coming around to say is, I can’t always get what I want, but if I try sometimes, I justmight find, I get what I need…. until something shiny comes along, or the new MMO comes out, or getting to know a good group of folks to play with changes the game experience itself in new ways.

Thank you very much for the thought provoking comment, Syl.

And have a great weekend!

When You Wish Upon a Star…

Just yesterday, I mentioned that I have no trouble findings things to keep me busy in the game without raiding.

What kind of stuff?

Well, I am playing my 85 Druid as a dual spec Kitty/Bear. Yep, two feral specs, one optimized for Kitty. I’ve run a heroic as Kitty in Bear spec, and my DPS was atrocious. It was crap. So, I’m going to see where I can take it with a fine tuned spec and planned out kitty gear.

No, don’t ask. This is my windmill, and I’ll tilt it if I want to.

Then there is that Human Warlock alt I made in honor of Fulguralis, and to give fair play to the Warlocks. My Mage tribute to Jaina and Gnomeageddin is level 71, so there is an inequity in the balance of power. Inequity? Hmm, the word sounds right but I bet that ain’t how it’s spelled. Well, damn the spellcheck, full speed ahead!

The Warlock reached level 25, and has 125 Enchanting/Tailoring. I was going to play more last night, but then…

I made a new Dwarf Shaman and sent over my two heirloom hammers.

Have you SEEN what a muscular dwarf looks like swinging two square-headed mjölnir ripoffs? The animation fits the models perfectly, which is a geeky way of saying the dwarf looks like a total badass. “Hey toad-boy, c’mere, let me say hello. Dwarves say hello by hitting you in the face with a sledgehammer. If we really like you, we hit you lots. Stand still, ya pansy! I’m jest trying to say I love ya!”

But wait, wasn’t there a Hunter? Yes, but the friends I was running heroics with ain’t been online. So, well, idle hands are the devils tools, right? And apparently the devil made me play alts.

Oh, and I farmed tons of herbs so I could make flasks so I am ready to make Cauldrons if my Hunter ever gets invited to another raid… and I’m making Truegold to get the crafted polearm made for my Druid.

It never ends, you know that?

Just going on the hunt for new non-combat pets on my Druid can last the week!

Seriously, with all this content, who the hell even has TIME to raid?

Geez, and I don’t even PvP! Can you imagine how little time there would be if I added killing slobs on top of it? Then I’d have to start building a resilience set, and a spec for slaughtering living, thinking peoples, and a macro that would scream “Screw the deeps, KILL THE HEALERS!!!”

I’m sorry, but there is just too much WoW to play. I think what I need… is a sponsorship. How am I expected to get everything done if I have to go to work every day?

Dude, seriously… people sponsor boxers, and the boxers go train. I know Curse sponsors serious raiders… I need to find someone that is willing to sponsor a World of Warcraft slacker.

And no, I won’t farm gold for you!

In Thrall we trust, all others pay cash.

Raids – Accessibility versus Challenge?

I’ve been wondering how you feel about raid accessibility and progression lately.

During Wrath of the Lich King, the raids started out at one level of difficulty, and then were reduced in difficulty over the course of the expansion. Raids kicked it big, and then as new raids came out, old raids got the ol’ nerfbat swung at ’em.

Even the last big pre-Cataclysm raid, ICC, saw planned gating with the group buff that got beefier the longer the expansion was out.

The most recent notes from patch 4.2 indicate that all existing raids in Cataclysm are about to meet with the same nerfbat treatment, just in time to ease the difficulty/speed the progression of those working on them to get people into the Firelands sooner.

We know for a fact that the easing of difficulty in the name of accessibility did not die with the Lich King. Also, Valor gear for Justice points, coming soon to a vendor near you.

So, how does that make you feel?

I’m interested in this, because for the first time in the game I have a character that could keep up with progression and see Firelands with my guild as it’s released.

In all the years I have played World of Warcraft, I was never one of the players on the leading edge of content progression. Of course, I’m still not on the leading edge, it’s the guild I’m in that is. But I’m kinda going along with them, running like hell to catch up, and I’ve been the beneficiary of their largess with pity epics.

That, plus some seriously focused playtime on my Hunter have placed me on the “wtf, I can raid?” chart as a backup/fill in. If content gets nerfed, then it will be the raids I’ve actively seen that are getting the axe. Including the one boss I haven’t seen die, Nefarian.

It’s my opinion that the nerfs aren’t needed, not on the basis of difficulty level.

I have now done the raids with two different groups, and I’ve had the chance to see how things look from both sides. One group has the content on farm, and the other has about half of it on farm and is tackling new bosses each week.

I’ve also done the heroic dance, getting the gear and figuring out what to get for Justice points, and what to save those precious Valor for.

What I’ve seen is that the content as it is, is excellently balanced.

It is very challenging to learn initially as a group, because each battle has multiple phases, slick gimmicks, and is balanced for groups with a good mix of melee and ranged. learning everything about each fight as a cohesive group takes time. I don’t care who you are.

The most challenging aspect of each battle seems to be movement.

There is a choreography for each fight, a timing and rhythym. They aren’t as rigid as the Safety Dance in Naxx, but timing is still critical.

The most interesting thing to me is that you can control the timing of your group. If your DPS is too high for some fights, too unrestrained, you can trigger phase changes at the wrong moment for your tanks to handle. You can choose whether or not to kill adds or kite them, and deal with the repercussions your own way if you feel up to it.

You’ve got more control, and the better your group is able to flow as a team, the easier the fights get over time. I like that. “And you can dance… for inspiration.” Oh, sorry, I didn’t really type that, did I? 

The thing is, once your group has learned these things, then the encounters are fun and thrilling without being a pain in the butt. When you finish a battle, you know you still had to do it right and do it well, you don’t snooze through. There is still definitely a strong feeling of “Hell yeah, baby, beat his ass again, roll him and grab his wallet” to it.

They’re not nerfing raid fights because they have to. They’re nerfing raid fights to make them easier to get past, and they’re doing it at the same time as they released troll heroics that are farmable for epics, and when they’re making Valor gear go for Justice points.

It’s all about accessibility for more people.

I clearly remember how I felt when all this happened in WotLK. I was glad that there was new content for me to do (the ICC heroics), and I was glad that my friends in Zug would soon be seeing even more tasty fun content.

I even got some benefit out of it, in that the old heroics defintely became a much easier proposition in ICC heroic gear. 

But at the same time, there were problems.

The old heroics were shunned, because why run one of those when there were fun heroics that had epics? Sure the old ones were easier and you could gear up in them to be stronger in ICC heroics, but a lot of people queuing up didn’t seem to care. As soon as iLevel gating said they could do ICC heroics, in they were. Carry me!

So that begs the question, is the current iLevel gating to the troll heroics forcing people to be much better geared in comparison to what we dealt with in WotLK?

Then there is the problem of how you feel, working so hard and taking on challenges, only to have them nerfed, then bypassed by stuff that people won’t get upgrades from if they can get into the new stuff instead.

Will the current raids still feel as epic, when I know that they used to require a tighter group? Will guilds that were struggling feel cheated that they didn’t clear it before the nerbat was swung?

Or will people feel too excited to get into the Firelands?

With Firelands out, will we see the same change in priority we saw in Wrath of the Lich King? Guilds that run the old stuff as little as possible in order to get into the tasty loot-dropping new stuff? Players that run the two new heroics with epic drops exclusively to gear up to hit Firelands, skipping the old raids entirely?

I’m really wondering. I wasn’t part of the raiding scene when ICC was released, so I never played with anyone that had been struggling on content, only to have everything they were doing flushed when ICC and the new heroics got released. 

Is your guild already farming hard modes and bored, waiting for Firelands? If so, will you ever return to BoT, Throne of the Winds or BWD?

Is your guild at the point that you’re could be done and farming the current raids, but have chosen to focus more on farming the new heroics for easier (and repeatable) chances at troll epics?

Are you still struggling to get full raid clears (much like I feel I am) and if so, how do you feel about the upcoming nerfbat, and where will the Firelands find you? Eager to enter, or determined to finish what you started first?

I’m surprised to admit that I’m interested to see what happens next in the story… but at the same time, I feel a strong sense of familiarity about the whole thing. I wonder if the content shift in the next patch will work smoother, or if we’re about to hit that bumpy patch in the road.

I’m just a healer (In a gogogo pug!)

With apologies to the Moody Blues, whose song and melody are the inspiration for this parody.

I’m just a queueing up to get a quick run
Looking for some more people
Who want to group up with me

And while I’m healing I see so many noobs
Tanks losing group aggro
Damage standing in green

And if you want my long cast heals
To glow around you
When you’re the only dumbass standing in the bad, don’t tell me

I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!

The tank is charging at the whole &%$^ing group
I can’t heal that fast
we need some CC

If damage classes want to taunt off the tank
I’m gonna let you all die
Your screams aren’t bothering me

So if you want to pull the groups
in one endless chain
when you can see my mana running out
Please kill me

I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!

How can we understand
damage for the meters for the idiots
Who are only destroying themselves

And when you see the dropping
health bars of the group around you
players still standing in the bad.

Standing in the bad.

I’m just a queueing up to get a quick run
Looking for some more people
Who want to group up with me

And while I’m healing I see so many noobs
Tanks losing group aggro
Damage standing in green

And if you want my long cast heals
To glow around you
When you’re the only dumbass standing in the bad, don’t tell me

I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!

I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!

How can we understand
damage for the meters for the idiots
Who are only destroying themselves

And when you see the dropping
health bars of the group around you
players still standing in the bad.

Standing in the bad.

Pugging is the misery causing our woes

Meeting so many asshats dying like fleas

I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!
I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!
I’m just a healer in a gogogo pug!

I Love the Smell of Caffeine in the Morning…

I am a Bear of very many words, but there is only one thing that I can think of to properly describe my state of mind this morning.

“It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed, the hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.” – Unknown (derived from Dune )

… it smells like victory.

Double Rainbow Winning!

This post goes out to Fulguralis, and all those like him, that bring skill and dedication to everything they do.

In Fulguralis’ latest post, he mentioned that he and his raid team just successfully destroyed the Omnitron encounter, like so;

I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of the Bear earlier in the week. I mean, some of us have been toiling away for months over here, and he strolls in all casual like and passes us up in progression in just one day! Also, to add insult to injury, he did it on his hunter.

Fortunately, we downed Omni last night for the first time as well, knotting the score, as it were. Not that there’s any sort of race going on, just… he hasn’t raided in forever. He usually doesn’t even write about raiding. And he then steps in. And on a hunter. And. Just. Blech.

I was overjoyed that Fulguralis attained the satisfaction that comes from setting a goal for yourself, working hard to reach that goal, and finally tasting that hard-won victory.

At the same time, reading the beginning of his post made me feel a little sad. I hadn’t stopped to think how it might feel for someone working their ass off and fighting every week to read that. To strive so hard, and then see some complete noob and raiding dilettante just pop on in and get it first.

It was pretty rotten of me to do, and for that I offer my apologies to Ful and to anyone else in the same position who might have felt that I was, well, a cheater. 

That’s kinda what this post is about.

You see, the way I look at it, if you’re going to go and post something that causes folks to feel bad about their progression, leaping ahead without really trying, you should go the full monty.

You should really break out the total double rainbow side to side, baby.

So, let Uncle Bear tell you about the raid he went on yesterday.

The afternoon started much like any other… wandering around in WoW. In this case, I believe I was on my new Warlock alt, seeing what kind of craziness I could get up to.

I get whispered out of the blue to see if I could take an empty DPS spot in one of the raid teams in the guild.

Now, I’d been asked to raid already by my very good friends, Matheo and Hedwig, but I’d had to turn them down. The email I had said their raid time started at 8 PM, and went for about 3 hours. On Azuremyst, I’m two hours ahead of server time, so I took 8 PM, added two hours, and said thank you but no, I can’t raid with you. 10 PM to 1 AM would normally be just perfect for me, but in this special case Sunday was going to be my sons first communion. No way could I stay up til 1 AM raiding on the morning of so much preparation.

Now, here I am getting invited to a second raid for Saturday, to raid with one of the other serious raid teams.

Mind you, my total iLevel is around 342. I’m not being invited because of my stellar DPS skillz. I’m being invited because there are three kickass raid teams of ten people each in the guild, and there are simply no other unclaimed peeps. Everyone else that might be available are claimed on some other teams lockout. If one person can’t make it… well, when that happens they usually have to pug in someone to fill the raid.

I’m also getting invited simply because there were eleven signed up for the alt run raid on Thursday, and I wasn’t able to go. So, there was some kindness at work there too, which I certainly appreciated.

I’m getting invited, and hey, this was what I had hoped to be able to work towards someday. Being the guy that might not be in a regular raid team, but is able to fill in if he’s needed once in a while to help people out. And hopefully, not suck.

For this raid, I’m told the time will be from 4 PM to 7 PM server. Well heck, 6 PM to 9 PM my time, I can make that work. At least, I can this time. If Cassie feeds the cats for me at 6:30, and if we rush and get dinner done before 6:00 start time, and if we don’t go too far past 9:00. I run it by Cassie, and kind-hearted soul that she is, she lets me go ahead and be available.

So, here’s how the evening goes.

With a 3 hour raid window, I think we have time for maybe one solid shot at a raid instance. i just don’t know where we’re going.

We head to Bastion of Twilight.

I’m pretty excited, because while I’d taken part in killing Halfus, the alt run I was in didn’t clear Valiona and Theralion. Twin dragon deaths! Something to look forward to seeing, and hopefully this time I’ll live through it.

My greatest hope was that I’d see Bastion of Twilight in it’s entirety before raid time was over.

What happened instead was nothing short of amazing.

We went in and one shot Halfus, then Valiona and Theralion, the Sanctum of the Ascended, and Cho’gal. Pretty much at a dead run.

Did I live through everything? Err, no. I don’t think I did terribad, but at the same time the rest of the team moved like a well oiled machine. A machine lubed with vodka and everclear, but lubed nonetheless.

I was told who to pew pew, and when, and the more complicated stuffs were handled by those more capable at the finer elements.

You heard me right, I got carried through Bastion of Twilight and got the Achievement.

I received a very nice upgrade as well, a new necklace, the Necklace of Strife from Valiona. A raid with tons of stuff to see, and loot too? Verily, my cup be running over.

At this point, I naively thought the evening’s entertainment was done. They raid two nights on the weekend, so I figured they saved Blackwing Descent for Sunday.

Not so! Off we went to take on BWD, at top speed.

In short order Magmaw, Omnotron Defense System, Maloriak, Atramedes and Chimaeron went down.

That’s right, everything except Nefarian.

T’was at that point that the raid was called, Nefarian being held for the Sunday raid, which I, of course, would not be attending. Not just because I was busy, but also because my DPS just be too damn low. I stayed right around 12k to 15k, and that’s just not right. 

So, time to go to Stormwind, and then off to bed, just as soon as I had purchased a Gnomish X-Ray Scope for my new bow, Themios the Darkbringer, which dropped on Atramedes and was passed to me with something akin to relief, with a few comments along the lines of “Hey, for once we don’t have to shard the Hunter loot.”

Yep, loot whore, one each.

So, after I got the new bow enchanted, someone said, “Okay, now for Al’Akir.”

Wait, what? We’re not done yet?

Nope!

 We went straight into Throne of the Four Winds, where we proceeded to finally wipe, on Conclave of Winds.

Now, don’t get me wrong. They usually have no problem one shotting Conclave of Winds.

The problem was, according to vent, a combination of poor Kissinger the Mage getting actively hacked while we were on the platforms, and of my bringing too much DPS to the raid, compared to who they normally would pug in. I was rushing them to go all out sooner than usual.

Isn’t that great? I screw the raid by trying to do my best. You can’t beat that, my friends.

Poor Kissinger. Sitting there on vent raiding, and poof, you are booted from your own account and taken over.

He got it seized back quickly and changed the password, and he talked to a GM about it, but there was little else he could do. He has an Authenticator on the way, but it’s not in yet. Talk about screaming frustration, right?

To cut it short, we beat Conclave of Winds despite some incredibly embarrassing blunders by me, and moved on to Al’Akir.

Al’Akir is an amazing encounter. Truly amazing.

I also did something I can’t ever recall doing before.

I pulled the boss while the raid leader was still telling me the strategy.

That the team almost one shot him that try anyway just says how badly they were carrying me, but, um, yeah.

See, it’s totally my fault, but at the same time, well, shit.

I turn using my mouse. I hold right-click and change facing by moving the mouse around.

Al’Akir has ONE HUGE F’ING HIT BOX.

I pointed the mouse I swear at my feet, right-clicked my mouse to look around, and shot the boss in the ass.

I’ll long remember the raid leader saying, “Make sure during phase three that when you get lightning rod you move down 10 and out 40, then WHAT THE HELL?!?!”

Yep, that was me that did that, yep!

So.

One night. About 3.5 hours.

Bear got, on his still shiny new Hunter, blasted through every normal raid boss except Nefarian.

Umm, Fulguralis, I think at this point I should say something like, I’ll see your Omnomnomotron kill and raise you a please don’t kill me, please please please I’m sorry I’m sorry.

Not that we’re racing or anything. 🙂

Seriously though, what this has proved to me is one thing.

If you want to have success in raiding, having skill and gear is good, but joining a guild full of uber accomplished raiders that are willing to carry you is even better.

Okay, no, that’s not what it proved. I’m sure the more cynical would say it is, but meh.

What it proved to me is that skill and coordination and talent all play the largest roles… even to the point of a very good 9 person team being able to deal with a horrible noob and still come out on top. At least, as long as that noob ain’t a tank. Or a healer. Or one of the people needed for CC.

Now… THAT is how you’re supposed to write a post about leaping ahead in raid progression without earning a single bit of it.

I now return you to your normally scheduled blah blah BBB blah.

Oh, wait… I know what this post is missing. Screenshots!

Okay, huge blind internet dragon swooping in for the kill… poor little guy. If only he heard about Lasik Eye Surgery!

The gong show… my favorite show ever? Not really, but I always loved the Comedian in the Paper Bag. Of course, I think I was five when that show was on the air. Everything on TV is funny when you’re five, if it involves stupidity or farting.

Nezir, I think AnnCoulter would like a quick word with you… just be careful, she may be a hideous, deformed thing with a massively huge snout and ginormous mouth that roars incoherently all the time, but if she grabs onto your nuts with those teeth, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Ahhhh, Al’Akir. You poor, poor Elemental Lord. You are huge, you are powerful, you are one of the four elemental lieutenants that had once led the armies of the Old Gods. Your power rivals that of Ragnaros himself, and you are worshipped by all that love the sky.

I’m really, really sorry about these arrows I’m about to shoot at you. I mean, the angle, what I can see here… it’s just not dignified, and I want you to know, if I had it any other way, I wouldn’t be about to do this. No, I mean it, I’m really sorry.

I’ll tell you what. Those arrows? You keep ’em. No, really, you can have them. I don’t want those back. You just… you just hold onto those. Just please… don’t mention it. We can let them be my gift to you.

Quick request – USMC Mahjongg tileset.

Back in the dinosaur computing era, as near as I recall 1993 – 1994, I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, SoCal.

We had a Win based computer for report writing at HQ, and on that computer was this incredible game called Mahjongg.

The coolest thing about that game was that the pictures on each of those little digital tiles were high qualty USMC related designs.

Rank insignia for officers and enlisted, Eagle Globe and Anchors, American flags, all in color.

I know this is silly, but I really, really wish I had Mahjongg on my computer at home with that tileset. I’ve tried to find it or one like it over the years, and never had any luck.

So I turn to you, and ask you for help. Has anyone ever seen a tileset like this before?

Thanks everyone for your time, and have a happy Friday the 13th. Try not to get axe murdered if you can avoid it.

Tales from the Truckstop: WTF R U Thinking?

This morning as I headed into work on our wonderful Interstate highway system, I found myself behind a little Honda that scared the crap outta me.

Having been trained as a professional driver, one of the things I constantly do while driving is scan the area around me, the other drivers and vehicles and terrain, for potential road hazards. I also scan for emergency routes.

If something happens unexpectedly, you need to see it coming and you need to know where you can safely go.

As an example, say you’re in the center lane of a three lane highway in medium traffic. If a car on your left decides NOW is the perfect time to merge into your lane without a signal and without looking to see that you are there, you CANNOT count on honking to save your ass. Honking is a passive warning trusting in the other driver to realize they are being stupid and to respond in time. No, YOU need to be the one to take action to achieve safety.

So, you have to know where stuff is. Is the car behind you back far enough that it’s safe to slam on the brakes without causing a rear end collision? Is there enough room in front of you to floor it out of the way? Are you able to accelerate fast enough? Is the area to your right clear right this second for you to safely swerve, or is someone there? Is there a gravel shoulder, or would you flip your car if you swerve off the paved road? Is there a stanchoin or bridge abutment coming up that you’d crash into?

You have no time to check all these things at the precise moment that car is swerving into your lane. You have to know what act you can take NOW that will safely get you out of harms way without killing someone.

Here’s a chilling thought: It used to be that some states had an ‘at fault’ policy, where if you hit another car from behind, no matter the situation or speeds or following distance involved, the person that drove the car that hit another from behind was automatically at fault. I don’t know if some still do, I don’t know the traffic laws of all 50 states. Most I do know of have swutched to ‘no fault’ policies now, though.

Anyway, people actually took advantage of this to set up teams of drivers, usually using three cars, to box you in. One car in front of you, one to the side and one behind. They’d box you in with a concrete divider to your side so you’d have nowhere to go, creep up to you so there was no safe place to swerve to or brake to, and then the driver in front of you would slam their brakes on, forcing you to ram SOMEONE in trying to avoid an accident.

Then they’d sue you for rear ending ’em.

It’s a crazy world out there. I wish it were simply paranoia, but when your job is to drive full time, you learn just how scary it can be.

This post isn’t about how to avoid being mousetrapped or how to drive safely. It’s about how when I drive, I’m looking around me all the time, checking everything out.

As I said, I pull behind this Honda this morning, and what I see is the right rear tire on the car is wobbling. WOBBLING. Like, the other tires are clearly spinning just fine, a smooth rotation, but this one tire is wobbling side to side with at least an inch of play at the hub.

WTF?

Have you ever driven by a vehicle parked on the side of the road, and one axle is jacked up missing a tire, but there ain’t even a hub there to mount a tire rim to? You ever wonder how that happens?

THIS is how that happens! Some dumb son of a bitch driving in a car with a tire that is either completely loose on it’s lug nuts, or with a hub about to come right off the damn shaft! With a wobble like that, at 60 mph his car had to have been shaking inside like he was sitting on a jackhammer, AND HE WAS STILL GOING!

In the middle lane at full speed, no less!

Just, WTF R U thinking?

When that tire goes, we’re not talking about a flat that you limp over to the side of the road. We’re talking about losing the tire at the hub, having the car drop a foot and a half to the axle on that side, and tearing into the asphalt or concrete.

I saw that, and I immediately got out of that lane and slowed down, I put a LOT of space between me and that fruitcake.

Seeing that reminded me of some of the other WTF things I’ve seen on the road over the years, and thought it would be fun to share just a few.

The first one that comes to mind is the car I saw with four bed mattresses strapped onto it’s roof with bungie cords. The car was a green hatchback Gremlin, and the stacked mattresses were both taller than the car, and longer/wider than the top of the car’s roof. Much longer than the car’s roof.

I saw this in South Florida on I-90 just north of Miami, doing about 80 mph, and about 30 seconds after I saw this and moved the HELL out of the same lane, the mattresses (that were being pushed up by the wind) suddenly got pushed DOWN… blocking the windshield. The driver, suddenly blind as a bat doing 80 mph, spun out and then OFF the road onto the gravel shoulder and down into the ditch.

To this day I wonder how the heck the bungie cords held that long, but once off the road the magic was gone, and mattresses went flying.

Another one. I was driving my semi in Wyoming, on I-80, past Laramie headed east for Cheyenne.

Strait stretch of highway, lots of ranches out that way. I saw an old pickup truck come up an onramp behind me, with a bed stacked high with hay bales. And I mean high. The top hay bales on the stack were about 6 bales above the level of the bed.

Yeah, you know where this is going.

The hay bales were clearly lashed down to the bed with plenty of twine, because while the whole stack was listing to the left, they weren’t falling off. Instead, I started wondering what was keeping the truck from flipping over onto it’s side.

I sped up, because I wanted to keep that pickup WELL behind me. Maybe that driver knew something I didn’t know, maybe those wise old ranchers are just flat out smarter than me, but to my eye, it looked like those hay bales were eyeing freedom, baby.

About 30 seconds after the pickup got onto the interstate and up to top speed, the twine must have broke, because hay bales EXPLODED off the back of that truck, raining down on the road and the cars that were right behind him. Kaboom! 

Now, here’s the kicker.

By that time, I was about a half mile ahead of the action. I couldn’t exactly turn around on the interstate and go back, and that stretch of road has few offramps. There was plenty of traffic behind the scene, so I wasn’t concerned that people weren’t gonna stop. Fact it, people weren’t going to have a choice but to stop until the road got cleared.

I saw the hay explode off the pickup bed, and I had seen that there were several cars immediately behind the pickup right before it happened, and then the road was obstructed by a mountain of hay.

The pickup truck KEPT GOING. Never even slowed. Those bales came off and detonated on cars and highway like depth charges on dry land, and that bastard just kept right on going.

You understand, I’m not recounting all the times I’ve seen people driving the wrong way on a highway, or doing U-turns in the middle of the highway, or anything like that. I saw that stuff so often that it’s not even worth mentioning.

No, what blows my mind is knowing that each one of these incidents and others just like them represent someone thinking, “This sounds like a good idea”, then spending time and sweat muscling that crap up there onto their vehicles, lashing it down, looking at it and thinking “Yep, that will be just fine”, and then going out on the road like that!

For something like going the wrong way, hey, it can take a millisecond distraction, didn’t see a sign, and boom, wrong way on the road. Then yo’re just trying like hell to get back off without dying.

For these, there were multiple opportunities for sense to smack them in the face. Plenty of chances to stop, take a good long look, and say to themselves, “You know… that kinda looks stupid. Maybe I need to rethink this plan.”

What scares me most is the idea that the next thought they had was, “Nah, fuck it. If something happens and someone else dies, what do I care?”

Just, really… WTF R U THINKING?

The Crowd Control, it is a Changin’

Amongst the patch notes for Patch 4.2, there was an interesting morsel about proposed changes to Crowd Control functionality.

The news release was a bit ago, has everyone had a chance to think about this yet?

  • Crowd Control
    • Many crowd control abilities no longer cause creatures to attack players when they are cast. The creature will not attack the player when the crowd control wears off, and nearby creatures will not become hostile to the player either. However, if a visible player gets too close to the target creature, the creature will remember and attack the player when the crowd control effect wears off. The intent is to make it easier for dungeon groups to manage crowd control assignments and pulling packs of hostile NPCs. The abilities affected by this change are: Hibernate, Entangling Roots, Wyvern Sting (will still cause hostility when it begins to deal damage), Freezing Trap, Polymorph, Repentance, Shackle Undead, Blind, Hex, Bind Elemental, Banish, Seduction.

This was followed by a hue and cry that momentarily baffled me. Then I remembered that people will whine about bloody well anything, so why not this too?

Reading the comments by the outraged elitist asshats, one thing seemed pretty clear to me. The outraged elitist asshats sound pretty pathetic. At their best, they’re whining like little bitches that mommy Blizz is being nice to some other kids and they don’t like it, it’s not fair.

Any time someone starts complaining about things getting changed, and the subtext of what they’re saying is that it’s not fair how easy/hard something is going to be, I just stop paying attention. Fair? Wah. Suck it up and soldier on, bitch. You don’t like it, Rift is =====> thataway.

If you have a constructive reason why you think a design change will cause issues with balance or whatever, that’s fine, but just bitching that something’s not fair? In a video game? Oh, grow the hell up.

I don’t really feel like trying to figure out how this is bad, or unfair, or whatever. I usually try to put myself in the other person’s position and understand their point of view, but on this one, I can’t be bothered. It’s a stupid thing to bitch about.

The changes to Crowd Control will only affect PvE, and it’ll streamline the mechanics of crowd control so they all affect mobs in the same way.

They won’t all CAST the same way, they won’t LOOK the same way, they won’t have the same durations. You’ll still have melee-range CC, ranged slow cast to instant activation CC, instant cast to stationary trap CC, all sorts of variety.

What is changing is how the mobs react to the player that caused the CC. That’s it. All CC mechanics that result in immobilizing a mob will take the ‘awareness’ aspect off the table.

Why is this something that changes your game? Whats this all about? Why should you even care?

I’m glad you asked. This gives me the opportunity to revisit the fundamentals of Threat.

I love talking about Threat. Why? Because so many people in the groups I see don’t seem to understand the mechanic, and those that do seem to think that this makes them special. You know, as if having read the breakdown on a website made them uber or something. Just like copying a spec, rotation and gear/stat priority off Elitist Jerks made them special.

If reading something someone else explained on the internet can make you uber, well then, by all means, let’s have all of you who read my blog be uber. Why the hell not.

The first thing to know about dealing with groups of mobs is that there is Threat and there is Awareness.

Threat is measured, with numbers, and that means you can compare it between different characters. Threat starts at zero and goes on up. Threat is developed on a mob when that mob suffers damage, or when a character the mob is aware of has damage healed, OR has abilities/stats increased through some other means such as potions/flasks. Threat from damage and Threat from healing are tied to the person that caused the damage or healing.

Awareness is not measured. Awareness is equal to a Threat of zero. A sneeze by a tank will pull aggro away from you.

You gain Awareness when you do something like walk up close to a mob. He physically sees you, and comes charging after you. You didn’t damage the mob, heal damage from yourself, or drink anything that modified/boosted your power, but the mob is coming after you anyway. That is Awareness, with a Threat value of zero.

You also gain Awareness when you generate Threat in a mob that is linked to others in a group.

Mobs can be linked to other nearby mobs, forming a group. A link means that any status change you make to one mob is communicated to the others it is linked to, regardless of YOUR proximity to the other mobs.

I will give you two examples of the difference between linked and unlinked.

When you are very high level, the range at which you’ll face pull a mob gets very small. At 85 you can wander the halls of Blackrock Depths with near impunity.

In most doorways, there will be two mobs standing guard, one on either side. If you walk up to one, you can kill it and the other won’t even see you.

In some doorways, however, the two mobs are linked. Even though you don’t face pull the other mob from physical proximity, the other mob is linked, and when you whack the one, the other comes running.

There is a hallway in BRD that has Fire Elementals lining the length of the hall in linked pairs. It’s on the way to one of the Fire Elemental bosses, where that black anvil thingie is. The mobs are very far apart, opposite sides of the hall and far out of face pull range, but when you tag one, the other is linked, and you have to run over and get it too.

So. Face pulling (physical proximity) causes Awareness. Dealing Threat or face pulling a linked mob causes Awareness in all other mobs it’s linked to.

Most forms of Crowd Control also cause Awareness. A Rogue’s Sap ability does NOT.

Right now, your Rogue can enter stealth, toss a distraction, walk up to melee range of a mob from behind or close to it, and Sap it. Doing this places the mob in a stunned/locked down state for a short period of time. No linked mobs gain Awareness, and if the Sap wears off without action from anyone else, the mob just wakes up and thinks nothing of it.

No Awareness risk at all.

Not so for other forms of Crowd Control. Sheep a mob, Drop a trap to freeze one, and that mob plus all linked mobs gain Awareness of the person that initiated the crowd control… and come running for the person. With a Threat value of zero.

Seems pretty simple, right?

Right now, you’ve got two forms of pull using Crowd Control.

You’ve got the Rogue pull, where the tank marks a Sap target, the Rogue sneaks in and Saps it at their leisure, and then the tank decides when to engage and pull the mobs away from Sap so it doesn’t get broken.

Then you’ve got the “all else” pull, where the tank marks a target and waits for a player to cast crowd control… which pulls all the rest of the mobs to HIM. The tank then intercepts the oncoming group, and if the tank doesn’t have group AoE ready, or misses one, then the poor CC caster gets a face full of mob.

Another potential challenge for the CC pulling method is Healer aggro. If the group is pulling frequently and ignoring the Healer, then you can have the Healer still topping people off when the next pull is made.

What did I say causes actual Threat? Damage done to a mob… and the mob being Aware of someone getting Healed. 

I’ve seen groups where the tank and DPS are charging from mob to mob, and the Healer is isolated and alone, running after them casting heals to top up and then sitting to drink every chance they get. It’s like watching two groups, and sometimes the healer is still casting HoTs to top off people right as they’re firing off Sheep or Freezing Trap… and the mobs head in one direction, then make a 90° direction change to head for the healer instead.

Healing Threat is neat.

Damage Threat is simple; damage done to a mob is Threat on that mob. If you didn’t hit a mob, it doesn’t even know you’re there unless you hit one he’s linked to. You do a point of damage, you get a point of threat. Basically. If this is too complicated, I ain’t getting into the amount of Overthreat needed to pull aggro, or the increased Threat generation from melee DPS as opposed to ranged DPS.

Healing Threat is shared out based on Awareness. Every mob that is Aware of the Healer gets Threat built up… but it’s divided among them all. If there are ten mobs in the group and you toss the tank a heal, only the amount of damage that was actually healed causes Threat, and that Threat is divided up amongst all ten mobs. Like, say as pure example the tank took a hit for 1000 damage. You toss a Flash heal that heals for 10 million. You don’t get 10 million threat, you get 1000 threat, the amount actually healed, divided by ten mobs, for a paltry 100 threat per mob. As the mobs die, the Threat is divided up amongst fewer targets, so technically the fewer mobs, the more Threat per mob the healer generates. Of course, that is usually countered by the longer the fight goes on, the more AoE Threat the tank does.

As long as the mobs are getting hit by the Tank, or someone else.

I love that mechanic. It’s so elegant.

With this Patch 4.2 change, the tank will be able to mark a target for Crowd Control, and not have to worry that the player will fire it off immediately, pulling the group before the tank was prepared. If they fire it off early, the mob will just be CC’d. Oh well.

People are upset about this, and I just don’t get it.

I keep seeing folks saying that now people will be able to have three mobs CC’d, and just faceroll them one at a time.

Yeah? You could do that now with multiple Rogues, whats your point? Or with a Rogue and any other CC activating a pull, which is what I typically see now.

If you’re concerned that this removes your chance to show off how skilled you are in PUGs, let me put that notion to rest, maynard.

I have yet to see anyone chain trap in a normal pug. I have yet to see anyone offer to perform a Misdirect pull on a mob to a tank out of line of sight in a normal pug. I have yet to see any of the CC/DPS juggling that was the heart and soul of doing Moroes in Karazhan, or in Shattered Halls for that matter.

If you think you have these amazing Crowd Control skills, then I am sure you will still have your chance to display them in your heroic pugs. Most players show no sign of ever having HEARD of kiting up to and including level 85 normals. If you break that shit out, you’ll have jaws dropping all over the room.

I can’t even imagine what kind of reaction you’d get if you offered to Misdirect pull onto the LOS tank while having a dropped trap ready to grab the leader at the corner. Someone might Youtube it, and post it with a caption, “SKILL NOT DEAD YET”.

Have I just been playing this game for too long? Have I become the grumpy old man that screams at the young punks whining about their iPhones and Androids that back in my day we had two tin cans and a piece of string, and we didn’t even get new string, we had to cut it off the package of meat dad got at the butchers?

Just, WTF. This is really what you’ve got to bitch about?

I bet there’s a thread somewhere that Rogues are bitching that now nobody will want to use them because they will be the only class that has to get to melee range to use CC.

You know, bitching that now they are the only class that has to show skill, and why can’t they get THEIR game dumbed down, it’s not fair!

Grrr, just grrr.

BBB’s BM Hunter experiences in Omnotron

Hi folks! Today we’re going to talk about raiding.

No, you’re not confused. Get back here! This IS the Big Bear Butt, I’m just gonna talk about raiding.

No, really. Stop laughing, damnit, I’m serious.

Last night I joined an ‘alt run’ raid in Band of Misfits – Azuremyst with my quickly rising Hunter, Beartrap.

Since I write a blog, surprise surprise, you get to read about it the day after. Hopefully, this will be more entertaining and informative than a “look at me, I raided, see my loots’ style thing.

Hopefully. I make no promises.

The alt run was done in fine Band of Misfits fashion, as in, everyone but me seemed to be drinking heavily before we even started. At least the ones on vent were. Okay, the raid leader was, and the rest didn’t seem far behind.  

We started out by going to Bastion of Twilight. My first Cataclysm raid experience began with me asking, “Hey, where the hell IS Bastion of Twilight, anyway?”

Go figure, it’s in Twilight Highlands, on a platform waaaay up in the sky over that mountain all the Twilight Cultist goons hang out at.

Now, how am I supposed to be expected to know that a Twilight raid entrance was in the Twilight zone at the Twilight mountains over the Twilight Cultist hangouts? I mean seriously, who would have thought to look there? Cut me some slack.

We entered as a brave ten person group, and I proudly brought AnnCoulter the Devilsaur to display my Beast Master heritage for all and sundry. If you’re gonna piss someone off, I figure I might as well get it out of the way before we get too far in.

Surprisingly enough, nobody said anything about it. Perhaps the drinking had gone far enough that they couldn’t tell what that thing was I had with me?

We smashed our way quickly to this big platform open to the sky, and with joy I saw that there were lots and lots of internet dragons. And whelps! Oh my, this was gonna be fun.

I hurriedly checked on the most important part of my rotation… yep, my Misdirect macro was ready to go, all I had to do was add in the name of the healer and set it next to my Multi-Shot and I was all set for a Whelp fight.

Hey, you prepare your way, I’ll prepare mine.

This boss encounter turned out to be what you experienced types call Halfus Wyrmbreaker.

I’d like to tell you how I did in this one, but it went by so fast that all I remember is there were many whelps, there were internet dragons, and then there was some loot. Huzzah!

After Halfus we went to tackle the second set of bosses in BoT, a pair of dragons called Valiona and Tharalion. More internet dragons! Blizzard loves us, this I know, because the dragons tell me so…..

The raid leader gave all sorts of instructions for this fight, but it all boiled down to ‘run inside, run back out, run in circles, scream and shout’. I followed these instructions to the letter, but I kindly refrained from keying my mike during the ‘scream and shout’ portion. I was, apparently, the only one.

After two or three highly entertaining wipes and a VERY close up view of a purple dragon poop chute (Run under the tail! Run under the tail! Jeez, okay, I should at least get double crits for where I’m sticking my arrows, man, c’mon) we decided to shift direction to Blackwing Descent, and to shift our drinking to shots.

As a Hunter, I’m highly proficient in many different types of shots. I can offer up just about any kind of shot you could imagine. Except for Steady Shot, I don’t have much use for Steady Shot.

Blackwing Descent, here we come!

This time, I knew I could find the entrance. Umm, I think. Huh, not in the mountain? Really? It’s got to be in the mountain, Blackwing is always in this one damn mountain. Oh looky, I took so long they tossed me a pity summon. Sweet!

We entered, ran in and beat up Magmaw like the squirming squirtle snake thing that he is. It went by so fast that, again, I really can’t say much more about my experience than that it involved a lot of shooting, a lot of running back and forth with the rest of the ranged peoples, and a bunch of staying out of the bad. It tested my abilities to focus on shot prioritization to their limits, but I came through okay. I’m happy to report I didn’t spill a drop.

I said I didn’t have much use for Steady Shot. I never said I didn’t know how to use it. 

(That’s a Quigley Down Under joke, btw. In case you’re a real hunter wondering wtf I’d be doing using Steady Shot for reals and all)

After the one shot Magmaw kill came the truly entertaining part of the evening; Omnotron Defense System.

Even I, as intentionally clueless as anyone that plays WoW can be about group raids, has heard of Omnomnomotron.

I did not know anything whatsoever about this fight before we pulled. I have tried my best, since Cataclysm was released, to remain spoiler free and worry free about the instances and raids. I know that I have to study them now that I’m going to be doing them, really study, but I wanted to stay clean as long as possible. Last night, I was as noobish as you can be about what to expect.

I was paying attention in vent to any possible instructions, and you know, damned if I recall anyone even mentioning what was gonna happen or what to do before we pulled.

That first pull was a LOT of fun!

It turns out that there ain’t just ONE critter in there… there’s bunches! And it turns out there ain’t jest one mechanic… it’s like, a collection of every ‘get out of the bad’ mechanic I’ve ever seen in the game, all rolled into one encounter, and then thrown out in stages over and over.

It’s WONDERFUL!!!

Shit, I had so much fun I was grinning ear to ear.

Now, we wiped the first few times, but I learned a lot.

The biggest thing I learned was that the folks who’ve programmed Deadly Boss Mods deserve some serious thanks and your money. WTF, over. I can see learning the fight and doing it without DBM, but sure as hell not without a LOT of teamwork and confusion first. And never as part of the first time walking in.

There are all sorts of things to avoid, there’s things not to step in, there are things you SHOULD step in, there are adds that spawn, there are times you really don’t want to be doing damage on the dude you were just whacking… it’s most excellent.

Okay, let me paint you a picture of what it was like from a Beartrap point of view, if you’ve never seen Omnotron before.

We walk up some stairs and stand there on a landing, looking into a large chamber, It’s all dwarven styled architecture, so square blocks and granite walls and right angle shapes.

At the far end of the room are several large stone giant statues of the kind you are used to seeing guarding dwarf areas. Think the stone golem bouncer in the Grim Guzzler, but larger. All of them seem dead or deactivated.

Okay, so we stand there, we buff up, and then the raid leader yells “Go!”

I go running in with the group, and one of the stone giants comes to life. It’s got a name. It has a health bar. It has as much health as a full raid boss all on it’s own. Therefore, this must be the infamous Omnotron, right? Funny, name says Toxitron, I must have missed something. Wow, a simple tank and spank fight? Well, okay. I’ll have to stay on my toes in case something else happens.

The stone giant dumps a cloud of green shit that hangs in the air. Okay, so get out of the green bad stuff. That’s cool. I can do that. Is that it?

Then DBM announces “Poison Protocol”, and Toxitron spews a stream of green stuff on the floor like it’s peeing on the tank. Peeing green? Ewwww. Dude, one word; penicillin.

From out of the green puddle, little green toxic oozes pop up. What, he has crabs, too? Oh look, adds! Cool, switch targeting to take down the adds. Raid leader tells people to run if they’re Fixated. I store that nugget of wisdom for later.

We’re burning him down and then DBM tells me to switch my target right the hell NOW!

Wait, what?

Oh shit, there’s another of those stone bastards! OMIGOD HE’S GOT A GAZILLION HEALTH TOO!

Okay, this guy is throwing fire around in an AoE, and I can’t get out of it. Grrr. Hey, what the hell is that, a laser beam? GET IT OFF GET IT OFF… oh shit, I bet he blows up everyone around the target, I gotta run the hell away from everyone else…

I hear the raid leader say ‘Don’t leave the room’, so I come back into range of heals… and sure as hell, big badda boom on me, but at least I ain’t near anyone else.

DBM says to switch target right NOW! Oh shit, again?

WTF IS WITH THE HEALTH ON THESE PRICKS?!?!

Arcano… oh shit, he dropped a big purple circle on the floor, run away, run a… hey, everyone else ran INTO the circle, RUN IN, RUN IN…. oooh, damage boost! Yummy!

Lemme guess… right on time, yeah yeah, switch targets, fine, whatever… Electron? Lemme guess… yep, that there would be lightning. Chain lightning. Yawn.

Okay, what the hell is that on me, I’m sparking like an incipient blue flame generator… oh shit, that’s gonna be one of those ‘you blow up the rest of the raid near you, but you live’ kinda things, ain’t it? RUN AWAY FROM THE RAID, RUN AWAY!

Oh damn, I pooped ball lightning… oh, okay, I don’t have to run out, I can just run away from the raid and run in circles pooping lightning, I can do that. Oh, and ewwwww.

All right, we’re back on the green dude again! Okay, switching…

And then there was this big kaboom, and we wiped.

Here are a few actual mechanics things I picked up over the course of the evening, which thankfully contributed to my still being alive and useful when we downed the encounter and got our loots on the third go around.

The first thing I learned (from our first wipe) is that if you do NOT switch off of the mob you had been targeting when the next one gets activated, then what you’re doing is whittling away at the mob’s damage shield, and if you break through, the mob blows up, killing folks. So when DBM was telling me to switch, that ain’t a suggestion that your own particular raid leader might not want to follow. Nope, that’s what you do. So do eet!

In order to adjust my game to that little factoid, I made sure to HASTEN my retargeting as soon as the new mob got activated, commanded my pet to change targets just as fast, and also stopped refreshing my Serpent Sting dot at the ten second warning DBM gives you prior to the next guy activating. I didn’t want that dot ticking away at the shield. I also made sure to fire off my Explosive Trap at the beginning of each activation so it would have faded before it was bubble time. DoTs ticking away at shield = not good.

The second thing I learned was, the four things share health. You do not want to stay on one that’s almost gone and ride it down and hope the bubble doesn’t pop… you switch targets. They all have one big shared health pool. Hey, that wasn’t readily apparent the first go around, and knowing it made me breathe a sigh of relief.

The third thing I learned was it’s very, very good that I was burning down the adds. It looked like they did hellacious damage if they hit who they were fixated on. Oh yeah, didn’t I mention? Those oozes weren’t just random adds. They all fixate on someone like a guided missile, little green bombs, and they slowly make their way towards their targets. Burn them bad boys down.

That purple circle Arcano drops? Yep, good to stand in, bad to leave boss in. Note to self, watch fer those suckas and love the extra damage.

We wiped a few times, and you know how I finally found the entrance to the raid? By following a long, long, LONG stream of dead players all making their way back up to the landing. Must have been a rough night, man.

We killed ’em all and sorted the loot, and I walked away from the fight with a shiny new Voltage Source Chestguard. Oh wow, raid loots!

Now, if you expected a real guide to any of this, well, sorry to disappoint. I was having fun flying by the seat of my pants.

If you really want a serious guide to this encounter, you’re not going to find it here. Instead, I’d recommend you pay a visit to Tankspot, the home of some truly wonderful narrated video guides. Now that I’m stopping my intentional ignoring of strats and spoiler videos, you’ll be able to find me there. That’s my first stop for resources on how things work and what to expect.

Aside from researching individual boss and mechanic functions on Wowhead, of course.

Have a great weekend everyone, get out and see Thor! It was awesome!