All is quiet on the Blogging front

It’s been pretty quiet around here, I know. For that, I apologise.

I have been unusually quiet lately because I have not wanted to write posts about the writing I’m doing elsewhere. Seems like a big waste of your time.

I am writing elsewhere, but not on another blog or website, anything like that. I have been working on Converging Forces.

The story as it exists has been arranged and edited, and I have been adding new material that I couldn’t release while it was an ongoing turn-based RPG.

Since the story was an ongoing RPG, I didn’t want to show the reader anything other than their part of the story, as it would have been too revealing.

I’m hopeful that I’ll have things added and finished polishing within the next few weeks. It’s been a lot of fun.

When it is complete, my plan is to take down all of the old chapters and links, and replace them with links to the new, finished sections.

If you’re still around, I’ll be looking forward to any feedback you’ll be willing to provide.

In the meantime, have a great day!

Can you Handle the Horror?

Here’s the setup.

Theres this guy, Cameron, he’s a huge Star Wars fan, and he’s got this massive collection of Star Wars stuff and vintage figurines that he loves and collects and keeps safe and sound.

He’s even got some of the really rare and valuable stuff, you know what I mean? He keeps his stuff in his guest bedroom, a room full of awesome.

Does Cameron sound familiar to you? Does this sound a little close to home?

I know I can turn my head right now, and while I don’t have any super valuable collectibles new in box, hey, look there, an entire array of lead miniatures from fantasy games, Warhammer 40K, Mechwarrior, stuff I’ve assembled and spent hours painting. There in pride of place is my Druid, my original ancient human druid from AD&D, carefully painted, a figure that I’ve had since, good lord, since my first year in the Marines, and that means the little lead bastard has been following me around all over the world since 1987.

How about you? Do you have stories that YOU could tell of the things you’ve collected, fragile, precious little things, collectible and worth thousands or valuable only to you for the memories they hold? Things you’ve gathered over the years that are part of your love of fantasy, science fiction, anime, films or novels?

I just bet you do.

So, this guy I’m talking about, Cameron, he’s out in Las Vegas for a bachelor party that went down last night. He got drunk, he had a roaring good time.

While he’s out of town, his sister, Therese, was watching his house for him. Water the cats, pet the plants, make sure the refrigerator didn’t catch on fire, you know.

Therese has a darling little son, Dillon, age 6.

The story goes, Therese plopped Dillon down in front of the TV, and then went outside to water the plants.

When she comes back in, why, little Dillon has mysteriously vanished! Poof!

Therese gets in a panic and goes hunting for her son. Whatever could he be doing? Wherever could he have gone?

She has barely begun her journey of discovery when what should she find, but that the door to the guest bedroom, which had been closed, is now, miraculously, open.

Little Dillon is in the guest bedroom, oh yes he is. And he is standing amidst the debris of ripped open toy packaging. He opened the door, went inside, grabbed some toys and opened those suckers right up.

Hey, he wanted to play with Boba Fett and Luke Skywalker, and who can blame him?

How valuable might these toys once have been? Well, Therese makes a point during her side of the story by saying one of them was an “AFA80” Luke Skywalker… and I thought it would be nice to give you some extra facts of the case, so I found one of them on ebay.

Oh, yes. That would be a thousand bucks. Gack.

So tell me, if you were Cameron, and you were hungover in the early morning hours after a massive bachelor party in Las Vegas, and your sister called you to tell you this, how would YOU handle it?

Really, what would you do? What would you say to her, your sister whom you presumably asked to watch your house for a few days, her and her darling son Dillon, aged 6.

Answer that for yourself now, but before you write a comment, you might want to ask yourself, how do I know the details about what happened to poor Cameron?

I’d be delighted to tell you. 🙂

I happened to hear this story on the radio this morning, on my way in to work.

The Dave Ryan in the Morning Show on KDWB does this incredibly stupid bit called “How will they take it”.

People call in who’ve screwed something up, and instead of telling the person they screwed over face to face, or via postcard from France while enroute to enlist in the French Foreign Legion, they instead choose the healthy and mature option of calling in to a radio station, and have a comedy-focused morning show setup the big reveal.

I imagine that the idea is, if pain shared is pain halved, then maybe death threats made over the radio in front of 15,000 listeners are death threats that won’t ever get carried out.

Anyway, so this story is real. Therese is real. Her son is real. Her brother Cameron, God bless him, is real, and he IS in Las Vegas, and his action figures? What happened to them, that be real too bro.

Yes, right down to the AFA80 Luke Skywalker.

Therese called in to a radio show, and asked a radio show DJ personality to help her break the news to  her hungover brother at 6:00 in the morning in Las Vegas. On the air. 

You don’t have to take my word for it. You can still listen to it yourself. It’s all right here at this webpage, where they provide the entire thing for your listening pleasure.

It’s about 12 minutes long. Not too bad, right?

So make the call. What would YOU do? How would you handle it?

And after you’ve decided, why not listen and find out how the real Cameron handled his own personal Camarón?

This story brings to my mind the immortal words of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, who said, “The horror… the horror….”

A little coda.

I found it fascinating how quickly the morning show crew changed sides.

They’re in the business of pleasing people who listen to contemporary music in our area. Most of these people mock us geeks, video game players, and basically anyone that doesn’t think the height of sophistication comes from going on a cruise with strippers and a parlor psychic, getting drunk, and passing out in a pool of your own vomit. Which, might I add, they are doing at this very moment on their second “Booty Cruise” of the season, and more power to them. I’m singing “I’m on a boat” while they really are. More power to them.

I expect some mocking out of them. Dude collects action figures, still in the box. I respect that, you respect that, but morning show people are supposed to mock the geeks. At least, they do in the world where people live as if they were plastic people stereotypes.

Well, that’s how they start out on the show. “Oh, your son opened them up, that’s sad, but geez, they’re only toys, he’s a little boy, it’s just a mistake, and it’s not like it was important, it was just some toys”.

And then Lena, bless her, comes up off the back deck with the elbow to bring the “Oh, HELL no” perspective to the party. She turned on Therese while Dave Ryan was still playing kissass, bringing OUR point of view. 

I could tell that she related.

On a normal day, I know she’d have been ripping on a grown man collecting Star Wars stuff with the rest of them, but this story, you could tell, she flashed back to something SHE collected, and she got it in her gut what it would have felt like if, say, her Hello Kitty collection took it in the wood chipper. For a few minutes, she dropped the mocking, and empathized.

Doesn’t matter what it was the man collected, it mattered to him, he was the one that cared about what he collected, and you don’t dismiss how he might feel just because you or I or some DJ might think collecting Star Wars stuff ain’t ‘cool’.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go move my miniatures to a higher shelf. Not that I’m worried or anything, you understand. Just, er, I suddenly thought they might like to be closer to the light bulb. Get some more of that glow.

Riding the Chariot of the Sun

I guess a lot has been said recently about the whole Valor Point/Justice Point drop rate.

I won’t quote various sources, but there seems to be a bunch of folks that are pretty hot that normal raiding, BWD/BoT raiding, no longer yields Valor. Instead, it’s all about the Troll dungeons and the Firelands. Well, and Baradin Hold.

I’ve even heard that some folks are in guilds that require raiding members to ‘cap’ their weekly potential Valor points by running Troll dungeons, and other folks resent the heck out of feeling they have to run Trolls if they are going to stay competitive.

I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that World of Warcraft represents a wide open landscape for you to pursue your goals, and the freedom to make your own choices. Nobody is forcing you to do anything, including pay a monthly subscription.

Aside from the break between European and US/Oceana servers, WoW has no borders or passports. If you want to move to a different server, do it. There are no locks to bar your way. Nobody holds up a sign sayin,g “Must have 359+ gear level to ride this server.”

If you choose to raid at a pace that competes for first kills with other guilds, then that’s your choice. If the guild you choose to be in to meet that goal sets expectations for what you have to do, including meeting a weekly Valor Point cap, then again, your choice; stay or go.

I’m in a guild that has three raid teams. One of those teams is destroying Firelands and having a great time. Maybe one of the expectations among the members of that team is that they cap Valor Points each week. I wouldn’t know, nobody has said anything that I’ve heard, and it’s sure as hell not an expectation for the team I’m in. Because that’s not one of my goals, so I’m not even trying to be in that team, so I don’t have to meet that expectation.

If I wanted to be at that level of play? Then I’d expect to have to pay… with my time and energy and determination.

Is the raid team I’m a part of doing Firelands? Not yet. Cleared trash, sure, killed the new BH boss. Mostly, they’ve focused on clearing the last of the original raids and getting the Defender of a Shattered World closure first. 

Goal met. Bigbearbutt, Defender of a Shattered World says hello.  

Are they full up on hard modes? No, no they’re not.

But that’s the point, isn’t it? If they wanted to make the commitment in terms of time, if they wanted to set hard modes and race to server first kills as team goals… then the rules for the team would be different.

Look, it’s all about what you want to set as a goal for yourself, finding other like-minded people to play with to pursue that goal, and then doing what you feel is necessary and beyond to achieve success.

If you want to get all the Valor Points that you can in a given week, then you’ll use whatever method that you’re given. If you don’t, you won’t.

If your team feels that it is necessary to cap Valor Points each week, and you resent it, then your goals might match the rest of your raid team, but your level of personal commitment does not. Might be time to find a different raid team that has your same level of commitment, or lack thereof.

If you feel that the method Blizzard put in place isn’t fair, that’s your opinion and you’re welcome to it, but don’t expect me to share it. I clearly don’t have the same goals that you do.

From the outside, this is how the whole discussion sounds.

A player wants to raid, and be one of the first to see and do the new content. At the same time as the new content is released to challenge raid teams, wonderful, powerful new gear upgrades are made available through Valor Points.

These Valor Point gear upgrades would clearly make completing the existing content a little easier, but they’re not absolutely necessary to complete normal mode Firelands, as shown by other top notch raid teams that have already done it with existing gear from the old raiding Hard modes. The Valor Point gear makes it easier, but are not strictly required, and do not block progression.

With that being the case, Valor Point gear seems to occupy a place as an optional luxury to help raid teams that have not been doing Hard modes narrow the gap.

If the Valor Point gear is an optional luxury meant to help raid teams that have not been doing Hard modes get caught up, then yes, it would make sense to have Valor Points drop from old raids like BWD and BoT.

What Blizzard did makes sense to me, though, as it allows players to get those optional luxury points on their own time, outside of scheduled Firelands raids, without having to deal with a weekly lockout or by dividing their raid time between Firelands and BWD/BoT/Tot4W.

Their move also has one further benefit from Blizzards’ point of view; it encourages raid geared players to re-enter the LFD random mix in Troll dungeons, potentially shortening the queue times and increasing the possibility that at least one or two players in an LFD troll dungeon has been there before and is truly geared and capable of leading a team to victory.

So, what is the down side?

Well, I see a whole lot of QQing that people who aren’t raiding are able to get the Valor Point gear just as fast as raiders.

Err. Umm.

Yeah, not really feeling your pain, there.

If you don’t want to do Troll dungeons, don’t do them. If your guild is telling you that you have to, then guess what, sparky? You’ve got one of them whatchamacallems… dilemmas. Only you can decide if you want it bad enough. 

You know that determination and sacrifice and hard work you hear Michelle Kwan talk about? How she worked her ass off to do what she had to do to succeed and win, but she stayed the course and pushed herself, because she had a personal desire and drive to be the best, and she refused to give in or give up?

Yeah, about your desire for those server first kills and speed of progression? Turns out, you might have to work for it a little bit. I know that comes as somewhat of a surprise, but there you have it.

Anything worth having doesn’t come cheap. If you want it, earn it. If you don’t want it, then stop bitching about it, and do your normal raids and take your time. It’ll still be there a year from now, waiting for you.

Is it worth the price you’re expected to pay?

Your call.

I just know I’m tired of hearing about it.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang changed my life

A long, long time ago, there was a little boy that sought an escape from the world he lived in.

He found his escape not through the gentle auspices of cinema, computerized virtual worlds or drugs, but instead by slipping into the universe of L-space, the infinitude of possibilities and worlds to be found by browsing through the stacks of books in any good library.

Books, for me, were an escape from reality, and I freely admit it.

I consider myself blessed that books were my shield and armor, because it was through the examples of countless heroes, heroines and ordinary folk overcoming adversity far worse than any I faced that I found role models to guide me, teach me and inspire me to never give up, and to know that even if you can’t see it at first, a way can usually be found if you think. Failing that, the least you can do is carry on and bide your time.

When you’re a child, escaping into books chosen on your own, without external guidance and direction, the lessons you take away can be very different from what your parents or teachers expect.

As an example, one of the earliest books I can remember was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

At first glance, would you expect that book to have a subversive impact on a young mind? After all, Disney made a movie of it starring Dick VanDyke, and that doesn’t usually scream “subversive” to most parents of the 70’s.

To me, though, it had a profound impact, indeed, it’s had a life-long inflence.

Early on in the book, it introduces the roads of the European countryside as being filled, bumper to bumper, with black sedans, plain, utilitarian, boring, each one just like the one before. This is the modern world.

Into this world comes an anachronistic throwback, an antique car with strange lines, vibrant colors, unusual noises and hidden depths, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The obvious message wasn’t lost on me, the metaphor for a world of people struggling to conform to some boring, faceless, colorless ‘normal’ for the sake of efficiency.

But there was a deeper message in the story for me. The point of the car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang wasn’t to be different so that it would stand out and be noticed. It wasn’t get the attention of others, to cry out, “Here, look at me!”

The point was that the car was different and colorful because it pleased the car and it’s owners from a personal aesthetic.

The goal was not to stand out just to stand out or be different from the herd. It wasn’t about being noticed.

It was about finding an inner life and an outward appearance that you found pleasing to yourself. To find what you like, and embrace it, irrespective of what you’re told by others that you should like or be or do.

Everyone looked at Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and thought it was silly, laughed at it, made fun of it, and it hurt. But the owners and car did not react by changing to try to fit in, or by acting outrageous to spite them. The reaction was to be even more true to itself, and be as superb at what it truly was and loved as possible, and screw what others thought, or even if they noticed.

Shakespeare can have a torrent of advice to young people pour forth in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true”, but that didn’t reach me the way Chitty Chitty Bang Bang did.

The point is to find what you love, to think, to be, to do, to look, and then embrace it. Live it.

Not to stand out, to be looked at, to act a role and draw attention, to live a life on stage.

No, it’s to be yourself, and the best damn self you can be, because no one else can know who you really are or choose for you.

The ideal then, is that everyone, everywhere, does the same. That we ALL embrace our loves and life, and nobody stands out as silly or crazy in a soulless, faceless world, because everyone looks and acts as unique and individualistic as they really are.

In fact, true freedom of personal expression includes the freedom to seem as ‘normal’ as you’d like, if that is how you reaaly wish to be.

I suppose if you really crave attention, if you want other people to fade into the background so you shine all the brighter, this doesn’t sound like a good thing.

But from where I’m standing right now, in the main gathering area of the North American Discworld Convention, what I’m seeing are people, hundreds of people, all being themselves, all being the kinds of folks I feel comfortable hanging out with, and having a great time doing it.

Not all of them are outwardly flamboyant, but all of them are clearly damn glad to be here. It’s a wonderful thing.

I don’t know what it is, but it has Aggro

You remember that post a few days ago, where I laid out my son’s wish for a special kind of pet?

Well, Tesh, being the master of video game art that he is, with sidelines in Mad Science and Fun Stuffs, took that as a challenge.

I hereby present to you his interpretation of that dream!

Upon seeing that, my son said, “Wow, that’s even BETTER than I imagined!”

High praise, but I agree. That’s just amazing.

If you think that is good, though, you should see some of the other creations he’s done, and hey, why not go buy A Kingdom for Keflings, and play a game that is infused with his artistic genius?

There will be a shirt soon, since as usual, I want to wear shirts with Tesh’s art on them, and he won’t start his own store. But it’ll have to be after this weekend, since right now I’m at the North American Discworld Convention in Madison, Wisconsin, and I’ll be taking pictures, livetweeting and having fun basking near the brilliance of Sir Terry Pratchett.

Well, truthfully I’ll be spending my time having fun meeting other fans of the works of Sir Terry, but I’m sure he’ll be in the building somewhere.

If you happen to be near Madison, Wisconsin, you ought to come down, I hear they have one day passes. I’m going to be there all of Friday and Saturday, so maybe you’ll see me there! And, you know, be able to throw fruit at me or something.

Baradin Hold is watching you!

The new boss is up and smoking in Baradin Hold, and his name be Occu’thar.

This be what he looks like alive;

And this be what he looks like all deaded and stuffs;

Now, let’s say for a moment that you’re a Druid trying to go all Feathery on Occu’thars’ butt.

For the people doing DPS, there are two things to be real careful of; staying the hell out of the big red circles on the floor (Focused Fire), and being set to drop massive AoE on the Eyes of Occu’thar.

See, the big dog randomly picks somebody and does a Focused Fire that stays on where that player had been standing, burns for a second, then spawns a large red stationary circle (12 yard radius) at it’s gaze point, a circle that does 35k+ damage per second, for several seconds. Needless to say, anybody standing in the bad gets eaten alive.

The other thing he does, is he casts the Eyes of Occu’thar, which spawns one eyeball per player in the room; the eyes travel to each player in a cloud, stick on the heads of the players dealing damage as they burrow in, and then once they are done (10 seconds), they detonate, doing Shadow damage to everyone. If all the Eyes detonate, they are doing cumulative damage. It’s a wipe. You can survive one Eye, say the one on the tank as long as the tank doesn’t currently have the 100% Shadow damage debuff from Searing Shadows.

Before the Eyes get cast, you want everyone but the tank of the moment to be all huddled up close, and you’ve got about 9 seconds to blast the shit out of those eyeballs before running like hell, because immediately after the Eyes pop he’s gonna shoot that Focused Fire right where you’re standing.

You want to have somebody or some place marked that you’re all going to fall in on, someplace close to the melee, so everyone know that when it’s time to deal with Eyeballs, we be moving to ‘x’. We had a big blue square over a melee DPS player for our fall-in mark. We tried a stationary mark on the floor first, but since the doggie likes to cast Focused Fire on you, that meant if the Focused Fire was on the mark, we didn’t have a second fall-in point to run to.  With a melee marked for us to fall in on, the other melee didn’t have very far to run to stack up. All this means is that, with the tanks swapping the big dog back and forth between them due to the Searing Shadows breath debuff, the melee will keep shifting position at least a little. If the Focused Fire circle drops on a melee, you’ll be shifting your movement a lot.

But it worked, damn it, it worked.

So, this is basically what he does.

When you pull him, he’ll do a Focused Fire on somebody. Everybody starts all spread out, using /range with a 12 yard distance if DBM doesn’t have it set up for you yet. That way, when it picks somebody, there is just one person hustling to get out of the circle before it goes boom.

Very shortly after that very first Focused Fire, he casts the Eyes of Occu’thar. Everybody that can, fall in on your marked spot. As soon as the cloud of eyes descend upon you, blast the shit out of them. Then, SCATTER! The first of two Focused Fires that follow each Eye summons will immediately (and I mean immediately) begin. I mean right the heck NOW!

You get away from the Focused Fire circle, continue DPSing the boss. Stay spread out. After a short break, the second Focused Fire cast since the Eyes spawned will appear. You are now safe to immediately fall into position on your Eyes AoE mark, there will not be another Fire before the Eyes are cast. When the Eyes appear, AoE them fast, then scatter again before the next Focused Fire of the cycle hits.

Rinse and repeat. It goes 1 Focused Fire, then a repeatable sequence of; Eyes of Occu’thar summoned, first immediate Focused Fire, delay of a few seconds, second Focused Fire, then stack up for the Eye sequence, then begin again.

There is almost exactly 1 minute between the very beginning of the first Eye summons and midway through the second Eye summons. I know this, because I cast Starfall (1 minute cooldown) in the middle of the first Eye spawn, and it still had 1 second cooldown remaining at the end of the second Eye summons.

As a Moonkin, I understandably felt under the gun to deliver some AoE here. You keep hearing how awesome Moonkin AoE can be. You just have little margin for error, you’ve got to burn all those Eyes down fast.

When the Eyes spawn, you’ve got about 9 seconds that the little bastards have to be dead before you’re running from Focused Fire. You do not have time to screw around with tab-targeting and Moonfire/Insect Swarm. You have to have a clear tactical plan in place for what to cast, when, and why.

As things began, I quickly pushed my Eclipse bar into a Solar Eclipse, to gain powerful Wild Mushroom effects. I am currently, stupidly, specced for Lunar Shower, dumbass that I am, so I couldn’t spam my Sunfire like I should’ve on the boss between Eye phases. Why? Because my Moonfire/Sunfire would give me Lunar Energy and push me out of Solar Eclipse.

I tried using all sorts of other spells, like pushing my Starfire a lot, and what I found out was my mana currently can’t handle my all out DPSing the boss AND doing AoE, because I have to use Hurricane each time. I had to carefully eke out my Starfires and Insect Swarms, so as to regain some mana before each Eye.

As I said, I pushed into Solar Eclipse, kept some DPS up on the boss, and waited until Focused Fire was done and we knew the Eyes were next. I started positioning my Wild Mushrooms on the fall-in mark, recasting them on the fly if we needed to adjust. As soon as the Eyes were summoned, I fired Starfall to get the cooldown started in anticipation of the next round, detonated my Mushrooms, backed off a step and kicked off a Glyphed Typhoon (does larger AoE with no knockback), and then I used Hurricane to channel them down the rest of the way.

Then, I ran like hell, of that I can assure you.

Hurricane eats so much mana it’s a sin to use, but there is a reason we have it; sometimes, you just need AOE and everything is on cooldown, and you don’t have time to recast three Mushrooms. 

I really should never have been specced into that Lunar Shower, that kept me from using Sunfire on the boss, and that was a lot of lost DPS.

Every wipe we had was from failure to clear 100% of the Eyes within 9 seconds. Wild Mushrooms just do too much damage in Solar Eclipse to let it fall off. The best solution that I can see is to drop Lunar Shower, and practise the timing on popping Starfall, Mushroom Detonate, Typhoon, and then rapid-casting three more Mushrooms and seeing if the Detonate is off cooldown in time to use it. I really don’t think there are enough GCDs in there to do all that in 9 seconds, but right now I’m too tired to try.

Still, we did it, Occu’thar is dead tonight at the hands of two different Band of Misfits raid teams, and it felt like a solid win.

I hope that all of you enjoyed or will enjoy similar success this week, and dear lord, I pray that you don’t try to pug that. It is enough to break the strong and drown entire cities in the tearful cries of “Get the hell out of the red! No, you’ve got to burn the eyes! Stop DPSing the boss, and kill the EYES! FUCK your damage meters!”

Out of the Mouths of, well, You Know

Blizzard was kind enough to send out some “Recruit a Friend” emails to long-time players recently, invites that allowed you to give someone else 30 days of full free gameplay, unrestricted, in World of Warcraft with Burning Crusade.

I was quite pleased to get one, because with this invite, you can give someone else the full experience, with trading, chat, grouping, all that sort of thing.

I created an account for my son, who is eight years old, and got his computer set up to play.

Today, he played, and I mean truly played, World of Warcraft for the first time. He’s dabbled on my account before, but this time he was on his own personal computer, and I was able to be online in the game at the same time.

He created a Draenei Warrior, tried that for a bit, and decided that the Rage mechanic sucks. Hey, I didn’t influence him at all.

Then he created a Dwarf Rogue, with flaming orange beard, and gave that a go.

Around about level 3, I flew down to the dwarven starter area in dragon form, and took him for a ride around the frosty dwarven homeland.

I brought him up the valley, and I let him get off the dragon and chase a little boy down, and purchase his own pet bunny rabbit. Cassie taught him how to make the pet bunny his friend, and bring him out into the world to hop around and follow him everywhere he goes.

I gave him some gold, taught him how to buy upgrades from the vendors, train skills, and then set him loose once again on the starting area. I’m in the same room with him as he plays, his computer is in my office.

He reached level 5 before the evening was done, and as we tucked him into bed, he had some very revealing things to say about the game. He had few preconceived ideas, nothing to get in the way of his imagination, he had played for a bit, but he knew nothing of what was possible or what limitations the game held. Everything was possible to him, or could be, and he had no way of knowing unless he asked.

This is what he asked us and told us as we tucked him into bed tonight;

“My pet bunny is level 1, does that mean I can teach him to do tricks, and level him up? Can I teach him to attack? That would be so cool!”

We explained that the cute little pets like the bunny don’t fight, or ever level up. They’re friends to travel with you, and they can never be hurt like your character can. But, we said, there is another class where you can have your own pet that fights with you, and that class is a Hunter. And you can have cats, and bears, and wolves, and when you get even more powerful, you can tame dinosaurs to be your pets!

“Can you have a moose as a pet?”

Sigh. No, I’m afraid you can’t have a moose, sweetie. Ghostcrawler promised us a moose, but we still don’t have one yet. I’m sorry.


“Well, if I go in the water, can I have a shark for a pet?”

No, I’m afraid not. You’re right, that’s a brilliant idea, whoever would have come up with that idea when Vash’jir was released was a genius, but no, you can’t have a shark for a pet underwater. But Hunters CAN have your normal pets, and they will swim along with you and fight underwater just fine.

“Well, what about a goldfish?”

A goldfish? What, as a friend or as a pet that fights for you?

“A goldfish to fight with you! He could be in a fishbowl and everything.”

Okay, the goldfish would be in a fishbowl. I guess the fishbowl would protect him like armor, I can see that… How would he move around?

“The fishbowl would have legs! And the goldfish could charge forward in the fishbowl and attack things!”


Okay, Blizzard, here’s the deal.

I haven’t asked you for much, but this time, it’s for reals. I challenge you to match the imagination of a child.

We don’t have moose combat pets, and we don’t have water-combat pets like sharks, but this…. this you can do. You know you can do eet.

You can make an Engineering-crafted Goldfish Assault Bowl on little mechanical legs, with little external saw blade and arc-welder waldo arms. The goldfish, genetically enhanced of course, can ride inside the little fishbowl with his head sticking out the top to see, and drive the bowl into battle.

When I imagine a Gnome Hunter, that’s now what I’m seeing for his pet.

I beg of you, at least think about making a Bad Guy Gnome boss that is like this. You’ve got Gnomeregan, the Gnomes are going to truly assault that place and wrap that storyline up some day, give the players a boss that will truly scare the hell out of them with the horror of a gnome mind unleashed.

Failing that, you’ve got the engineering goggles, you’ve got all this awesome Hunter stuff built into the engineering profession… just let your mind run riot, man. Let the Hunter Engineers make their own combat pets.

Now, I know it may seem over the top, maybe you’d be tempted to let it go with something sensible, like a mechanical dino-raptor. Don’t give in. Unleash your inner Steve Martin. Be some wild and crazy guys and gals, and give us the Goldfish Assault Bowl. Something about it just sings in my head and won’t let go.

The only way this could be better, would be if some great artist like Tish Tosh Tesh* drew up some stylized sketch of it poised for action.

I can see it now, walking into BlizzCon wearing a shirt showing the crazed face of a goldfish driving this over-the-top goldfish bowl war machine, shit-eating grin on his (or her) fishy face, with the words “Hunter + Mad Science = I Don’t Know What It Is, But It’s Got Aggro” written around it.

I can see it, I swear I can. It’s right there. And someday, in some role playing game somewhere, I am going to USE that idea. See if I don’t.

Tidy Plates/Threat Plates question

I use the Tidy Plates addon with the Threat Plates addon to supplement it.

I use that on all my characters. I love it.

If you have not tried it, I will take this time to suggest you give it a shot. Just in 5 person runs. What can it hurt?

I’m by no means in expert in the capabilities of Tidy Plates, though. So, I present to you this question.

Is it possible to get my DoTs to show up on the Threat Plates of mobs?

Think about it. You’re a Moonkin wanting to drop Insect Swarm and Moonfire on every individual mob in a pack of 6. Wouldn’t it be nice if small Moonfire and Insect Swarm dot boxes (with or without timers, I don’t care) appeared somewhere on the target’s health plate?

I could look out at the swarming group of moving mobs, and pick out exactly which three or four did not have my dots on them yet, click on those name plates to target and boom boom, next target, boom boom.

No wasted time.

Is it possible to do that with the addons as they are?

I’m dying to know.

I’d imagine that would be nice for Death Knights wanting to see how many mobs in the swarm have Frost Fever and stuff like that too, but screw them. I just want to know for me.

Questions, concerns, conundrums

So, a few days into this whole “Moonkin” thing, and it’s going okay.

I do have a few questions, and while Twitter folks (especially @restokin, @greenwithenvy01, @jadedalt and @owlbearmoose) have been helpful, there ain’t a lot of characters to say things without spamming walls of Twits. I mean Tweets. Tweets for Twits? Twits that Tweet? Twitter Tweat, smell my feet, okay damnit, stop it, stop it right now.

First question up for discussion. Lunar Shower.

What the hell is up with Lunar Shower?

Pretend for a moment that I don’t know what it was like before, or how it affected how you played, or whatever drama has been going on.

From the point of view of someone walking into Moonkin today, it’s nothing but win… but makes figuring out spellcast priorities a nightmare.

From my outside looking in view, Lunar Shower means that I cast Moonfire or Sunfire ONCE, and start moving. As I move, the Lunar Shower buff goes up to 3, and continuous refreshes itself. If I stop moving, the buff starts dropping off.

While the buff is up, my Moonfire and Sunfire instant cast direct damage is incredibly buffed, and the mana cost is nerfed to the ground. I can spam Moofire until the cows come home.

Additionally, the Shooting Stars Talent lets your Moonfire and Insect Swarms cause your Starsurge to reset the cooldown and make it instant cast.

So what am I to think from this? That we are being encouraged to spend 5 talent points to spam Moonfire, dropping occassional instant cast Starsurge bombs.

Lunar Shower even lets your Moonfire/Sunfire grant some Eclipse energy, pushing the bar forward while you fire.

Here’s what I don’t get. 

I’ve had people tell me that the movement aspect of Lunar Shower ain’t actually part of it anymore, and yet I thought that was the key part of it. Is the tooltip wrong?

Some people I’ve read say that on AoE pulls, Moonkin should be dropping Insect Swarm and Moonfire on every single individual mob, and then popping three mushrooms on ’em. No Hurricane, EVER. Am I supposed to be moving while I do this? I have tried, and yes, I can tab-target while running while spamming IS and Moonfire and while dropping mushrooms and detonating them.

Why is it this feels like something intended for PvP, and that I may be barking up the wrong tree? How does this stack against popping Hurricane with the appropriate Nature buff from Eclipse?

Just… I dunno. I guess what I need to do is see how much DPS running Moonfire spam with mushrooms and Insect Swarm and Starsurge procs do over 5 minutes, and compare that with stand and deliver Wrath/Starfire Eclipse pushing with standard IS and Moonfire when the dot drops off.

Your thoughts on all this would be MOST helpful. I’m supposed to actually do a serious raid tomorrow as a Moonkin, and I’d sure like to know how you’d recommend I practise.

One last thing… does anyone have any tips for fast and precise Mushroom dropping? Right now, I can either click the button for mushroom and then move the cursor to position it, OR what I’m actually doing, which is having Mushroom activation be the “3” button on my keyboard, and having the cursor already in position to drop it.

What I’m thinking is, I’d like to set Mushroom to the 4 button on my mouse, so I can just mouse over drop points and tap the button with my thumb to prime the mushroom pump, maybe set detonation to the 5 button on my mouse.

Still, a lot of you folks have had years to master this, shower me with your wisdom!

If you’d like, you can take a look at my spec and gear and mock me terribly by checking out Bigbearbutt at Azuremyst-US. I am in current gear and spec for Moonkin. GO ahead. Make fun, it’s cool.