Gear Gathering – It’s on like Donkey Kong!

I don’t even know where to begin, but since that’s a beginning, let’s roll.

Today, we are told, I’m still not believing the words I’m typing, that patch 4.3 will include Gear Transmogrification.

You’ll be able to change the current appearance of your gear to match the appearance of any other comparative type of gear.

Plate shoulder to plate shoulder, leather chest to leather chest. Possibly even two-handed staff to two-handed staff, and one-handed swird to one-handed sword.

This feature, no I swear to you I am not kidding it’s been confirmed by Blue post on the official forums, goes hand in hand with the new Void Storage, which apparently is intended to have about 150 inventory spaces… for the storage of your old gear.

Items you put in Void Storage, according to Blue posts, will have enchants, gems and crafting identifiers removed. It will be put in the digital equivalent of long-term cold storage.

The subtext here? You will have to possess, currently, an item of gear in order to be able to apply that gears’ appearance to your currently worn gear.

Maybe it will have to be placed in Void Storage to have the pattern be available at the Transmogrifier Vendor, that sounds very reasonable to me. It would make Void Storage a form of “recipe list” for appearance patterns.

Holy shit. Just, holy shit.

Do YOU want to PvP or raid in the armor sets, the MATCHING armor sets of yesteryear? Do YOU love role playing and having cool outfits, and regret having to wear a cobbled-together clown suit to achieve performance?

Well, kiss the clown suit goodbye, my friends, and say hello to a whole new game of planning your special outfit and then going out there and GETTING IT.

Did you always want the twin Warglaives from Black Temple, but once Cataclysm came out and the Legendaries were obsolete as effective gear, you lost the fire in your belly to get them?

Have you always loved the Blackened Defias set, and wished you could wear the whole thing and still be as effective as everyone else?

Just… holy shit.

I know that my first thought, my very first thought was, “I need to transfer my Rogue to my new server, so when this change goes into effect I can be wearing my full Dungeon Set 2 while raiding. With the twin Season 1 PvP swords.”

I know it probably seems stupid to you. Maybe I’m one of the odd ones, getting excited about this.

But just holy shit! I am!

I am excited as hell to go back and review the appearances of every set in the game, decide which appearance I would LOVE to have for my character, and then go out there right the hell now and start working on building it.

How about you? Are you like my Rogue, and have a freaking insane kick-ass set ready to go for your favorite character, just waiting for this to go live? Do you have twenty?

Are you like my Warrior, who intentionally leveled Blacksmithing and acquired every single recipe and built the full Imperial Plate set and kept it, just for a “Worgen about town” outfit, but it’s really nothing all that special?

Or are you like my Druid, who has nothing waiting in the wings, because I was always in forms and it didn’t matter if my gear looked like I failed clown school?

It’s such a simple thing, and yet, our view of the game is what we see around us. We see other players around us, all the time.

When every player you see will be able to look exactly how that player wants, I think it’s going to have a major effect on the world. Instead of people wearing random crap, everyone will have a choice, and who among us doesn’t want to make our own decisions and USE those choices?

Kick ass, Blizzard.

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The tanks all said wha?

From out of the blue yesterday came a new Dev Watercooler blog post from Ghostcrawler, where he revealed that Blizzard has decided tanks shouldn’t have to worry about generating enough threat to hold mob aggro against crazy DPS.

Specifically, tanks on the starter end of the gearing grind shouldn’t be crushed under the weight of trying to hold aggro against raid-geared DPS going balls-to-the-wall in a pick up group.

Ready? This isn’t some “we think it would be nice to someday…” announcement. The hotfix apparently went live today, August 16th, and right now all tanks in their tank mode will have their threat generated from damage boosted, going from 300% threat from damage to 500%. They’ve also ramped up the rapidity by which Vengeance builds in the first few seconds of a pull.

Surprise!

When the announcement went out yesterday, folks I talked to had a wide range of responses.

Among them were that this was the end of the game as we know it, tanks will no longer have to know how to do anything, skill is dead, everybody dance now or quit in disgust, blah blah blah.

Say what now?

I’ll admit, I thought that the days of there being anything tank-related for me to talk about here were gone, what with the high levels of knowledge and awareness I see among the players I run into every day, but I guess I was wrong.

Let’s talk about what this really means for you and me, mmm’kay?

Tank threat generation has been increased. Not just by a little, but by a metric shit-ton. Threat from tank damage has almost doubled. It’s close to TWO metric shit-tons now, and that’s a lot.

So, it’s all crimson blood spraying and rolling in the clover for tanks now, right? We run in, lay down a few quick swipes, then we can go stagger away from the keyboard looking for a Guinness while the DPS finishes the pull.

Right?

Well, maybe a teeny bit, but not really.

The big reason that it’s not going to work that way is that encounter design, even on trash pulls, has changed a lot over the years.

It used to be that the bread and butter, meat and potatoes pull (it’s lunch time, I’m hungry) was the tank runs in and hits the mob, the DPS burns it down. There would be minor variations on that theme, a few extra adds maybe, a healer or ranged spellcaster that wouldn’t come along for the ride, but that was pretty much it.

These days, just as GC points out, the design has changed.

Now, most fights in high level instances and raids have some kind of mobile component, a multi-mob component, and also what my wife Cassie refers to as a gimmick.

The mobile component is simply something to encourage people to move around. Tornados swooping in and out, rocks falling from the sky, mobs that start cleaving/flaying wildly, stomps that you have to jump to avoid being hit by, green or red shit to move out of, electrical fields to pull mobs out of, the list goes on and on.

A mobile component; Blizzard designing fights where the player needs to think about moving your ass instead of just standing and mindlessly pushing buttons in a fixed rotation.

The multi-mob component. This doesn’t just mean that there was more than one mob standing there.

This is where during the fight you need to be aware of the area around you, including behind you, because there may be roaming packs of adds wandering around, there may be adds that spawn periodically out of nowhere and come running in that the tank has to grab on the fly, there may be adds just like the old days that heal others or do evil debuffs and poisons that need to be killed first or locked down with interrupts, and there may even be adds like in Stonecore or Zul’Aman that, if not stopped, will run off and bring a LOT of friends to your fight.

And finally, the gimmicks. Ah, the gimmicks.

It seems like every encounter has some kind of thing that’s different. Bosses that will fixate on a target and charge them. Mobs that are frozen that need to be drug through fire, mobs that are on fire that will destroy you unless you hit a frozen mob first to get chilled out, mobs that will bubble and you have to go jump around flipping levers, all sorts of stuff.

Gimmick. It’s an unkind term for unique encounter mechanics, but it’s accurate.

Tank threat is buffed now. A lot.

So, how does this change the game?

It doesn’t. It simply smooths out the flow.

If adds come running in, the tank still has to tag them and do damage to them to generate threat. End of story. You will not suddenly, miraculously grab adds and hold them automagically without doing anything to make it happen.

You will not be able to charge in, blast up and tune out. You as the tank will still have to be mobile when necessary, be aware of your surroundings and actively grab adds and distribute damage/threat amongst them, and you will still have to handle the gimmicks of each encounter. 

What you can expect to change is that, if you are already doing everything you are supposed to, you will have a much stronger chance of holding aggro on all members of an AoE group, even if you are focusing on Skull, and the DPS are ignoring your marks to blow up whoever they want.

This change would normally encourage you to prioritize AoE threat generating abilities more. Since most AoE is on some kind of cooldown cycle now, you’re probably already using your AoE abilities whenever they’re up anyway, so, well, no big change there. Right?

It’s not like you can do Swipe spam, no matter how much you would have wanted to. But you can pop it every time it’s off cooldown, and expect it to have tastier results.

Likewise, for DPS players, this does not signal the death of Vanish/ Feign Death and Misdirection/Fan of Knives. Adds will still come in from wierd directions, and being able to send them off to the tank is always a good thing. Likewise, having an emergency “Get them the f&*(^ off of me” button never loses it’s value.

So.

In conclusion…. I don’t know where the hell all the panic I saw came from, or the rage about dumbing down the game, but I for one welcome our new threat overlords, and invite them to come tank at the pug table.

My Warrior and Hunter alts will be sure to make you feel RIGHT at home.

Zombies are Dead

I’m requesting an intervention.

The next time someone wants to write a story, do me a favor… don’t include zombies.

If you have the urge to type that “z” word, stop yourself. Think long and hard about what you’re about to do… and then don’t.

It’s been done. It’s been done to death, raised, killed again, and then had a dozen boring variations on the theme brought out to try and make it seem cute, much like these “done to death” cliché lines.

Now, I understand your fascination with zombies. You can do SO MUCH with your story, using zombies as a metaphor for something else.

Zombies are symbolic of the human condition, and very tempting to use to make your point.

If you want to talk about how a person can feel alone in a crowd, few things represent it quite so well as having that someone running around surrounded by mindless, unresponsive, hostile zombies that just don’t ‘get’ you, no matter how hard they try. A sea of faces, blank or hostile, that are all around you, but no matter how loudly you scream for help, you are still all alone in a cold, threatening world that sometimes seems to hate you.

But here’s the thing. It’s been done. It’s been done, the point has been made, it wasn’t even a point, it was a massive sledgehammer of brutal obviousness ramming the entire concept down your throat.

Zombies do NOT equal subtlety.

So why is it people will not leave zombies alone? Why do we keep getting zombie movies, books, comic books, video games all in seemingly endless derivations?

Does someone out there think that there is still some untapped reserve of zombie goodness, some secret well that, once found, will gush forth with a fresh perspective that adds something new?

Here’s a secret for you. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

IT’S BEEN DONE!

I don’t have to be more specific. Whatever the hell it was, if you were thinking about it plus zombies, it’s been done.

If your idea was, just pulling something out of my butt, literary fictional classics and zombies, I bet it’s been done somewhere.

I’m sure if you looked, and I’m not even going to bother, but I’ll bet you could find a version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and even Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, all done with added zombie.

Zombies in Space? Oh, please. There’s even been Jason Voorhees in space, for the love of memes!

Oh, are your zombies from a plague, the main characters are isolated and alone and fearing infection, and you’re making a witty statement by having the healthy be the minority, hurting and alone, and the sick be the uncaring, unfeeling masses? No, we missed that you inverted things to make your point. We are completely incapable of grasping your intended statement about aids or other communicable diseases, and how terrible the isolation feels, without the addition of zombies.

Oh yeah. You’re a freaking genius. Our silence stems from stunned admiration. Or a cowlike obliviousness. You pick. You will anyway.

Does your special zombie breed come from some alien cause, and part of the horror is being alone in a world that is not just hostile, but is unknown and unknowable, something you will never understand or be able to deal with, where all you can do is try and survive and keep ahold of your sanity, and find hope amongst the hopeless even when it seems there is no possible future to be found?

Well, just so long as it’s done with zombies.

Just, yes. We get it.

Funny zombies, scary zombies, adventure zombies, mercenary zombies going into war torn regions of the world to rescue political prisoners, a world of the living dead where humans are long gone and all that is left are zombies versus vampires, I DON’T CARE!

Just stop it.

Just… stop it.

We keep seeing the same cycles. New zombie story is very, very serious business. Next zombie story  is a variation on the theme, playing on some popular small bit the fans of the serious movie liked, like special forces vs zombies. Then the humorous take on zombies comes out, poking fun at the ‘serious zombie’ story. Then the self-conscious ironic take on the zombie story comes out, lampooning the whole thing, tongue sticking out of rotted cheek.

Then, a new serious zombie story comes out to remind people what a serious zombie story is, and is acclaimed as revolutionary, revitalizing the genre.

And it starts all over again!

Please.

Zombies.

Just say no.

If you still feel the urge, that primal drive to write or direct something that has zombies in it, if you feel that your message, whatever the hell it may be, can only be said through the use of the shambling undead, then prove it to yourself.

Take a moment of private time to contemplate Edward Hoppers’ painting, Nighthawks. Don’t think about it, don’t try to analyze it or break it down, just contemplate it. Let it seep in.

Now, while you’re contemplating Nighthawks, in the back of your mind, just let this thought seep into view…

Could I improve this by adding a zombie?

Think about it. Then go write a screenplay featuring cartoon characters from the ’80s in our modern world. You’ll display the same creative integrity, but aren’t they so cute.

If you’re a bitter nihilist, you’ll make the cartoon characters be zombies, just to spite us.

Zombie Smurf has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

At this point, straight up, I’d rather see just about any other damn thing than a new zombie story.

I won’t specifically name which zombie ‘thing’ was the inspiration for this post, I’ll leave it to your imagination to come up with the possible culprits. I’m sure you won’t be lacking possibilities. If someone somehow does guess right, I’ll say so, but I won’t confirm what type of media it was. Well, I’ll narrow it down for you. It was either a movie, book, comic book or video game.

Yeah, that narrowed it down. At least you won’t be wondering which music video set me off.

I will say, for the record, that it wasn’t “They Live“, only because, well, it was hilarious, I love Rowdy Roddy Piper, the alley brawl is legendary, and I feel like giving it a pass, even though you could use it as a freaking textbook case of what I’m talking about. 

Oh… and psych! If you made it this far, smile. I’ve been having some fun with you. What’s the point of doing Aprils Fools posts on Aprils Fools Day when everybody expects it?

You’ve been Bearwalled!

Storytime – The Cat Lover

Love it or hate it, this story is true. If nothing else, I hope you find it momentarily distracts you from whatever blahs you may be enduring today.

There once was a young boy named John whose parents found it necessary to divorce.

John, though he was but seven or eight at the time, had no worries that he might have been the reason mommy and daddy were breaking up, because even then he was wise enough to know that his mommy was batshit crazy. So waste not a tear at the plight of poor, sad John.

John’s father, far from being batshit crazy, seemed to personify the very essence of manliness to the young, impressionable lad.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but for newer readers, John’s father had been a submariner in the US Navy, a police officer all the rest of his life, and an avid ‘manly stuff’ hobbyist and sportsman. Bushy cop mustache, live the stereotype!

Hmm, a batshit crazy psycho who liked to scream and run around chasing people with knives, or an incredibly macho badass? Who do you think the boy would choose, if given the chance?

The courts, as the courts were wont to do, did not ask John which parent he would like to live with, nor did anyone ever ask him if he feared for his life living with one or the other. John was not consulted in any way. This was because he was not an equal member of the family in the eyes of the courts of that time, in that state… in a custody dispute, he was simply the prize.

So of course, they assigned custody of John to his mother.

Yay, me. You may now allow one and only one tear to trickle down your cheek, no larger than what a medium-sized crocodile might shed, if such be your desire.

Fast forward a few years.

I’m living with mom in Miami, near to where she grew up. She went back to live close to her parents and relatives, amidst familiar surroundings with an emotional support network.

Which is ironic, considering how desperately she hated and envied all her relatives, and how bitterly she raged about them when nobody but me was around to hear. But enough about that. Let’s get to the fun.

While my mother and I were settling into life in Miami, my father was busy doing what police officers usually do when they find themselves suddenly single and without kids in the area – get hooked up with cop groupies and run through a string of quickie marriages and even quicker divorces with lots of weird, messy drama.

When my father Tony was about six months into living with wife number two (who was so heavily freckled and with such a wide, flat nose that I mentally dubbed her the “buckshot mallard” the moment I laid eyes on her), he invited my nine year old (or so) butt up to stay at his rental apartment for a weekend to have a great time, get to know each other better, and of course have a chance to meet his blushing new bride.

Mostly to meet the blushing new bride and see how happy he was.

The psychology of these kinds of events are so transparent that even I, at such a supposedly naive age age, knew what was up. I was to see how wonderful my father’s new life and new wife were, and then bring those tales back with me in order to torment my mother.

Relationship judo. Hai-yah! Ah, the games people play.

Surprisingly enough, things didn’t go according to his plan.

He did succeed in two things; he made one hell of an impression on me, and I definitely got to know my dad a lot better.

The weekend was, as are most such summer weekends in south Florida, hot, muggy, buggy, humid and miserable. Note to future vacationing travelers; Southern California, being a desert with water extravagantly pumped into it, actually has the weather Florida only pretends it has. The humidity makes all the difference. If you’re on the coastline, and able to get those offshore breezes, it’s divine. Get further inland, and oh my.

South Florida, in case you missed it, is a swamp. Everglades. Gators. Mosquitos. Lizards. Sword palms and snakes. Spiders larger than your fist.

Actually, it was pretty fun, now that I’m reminiscing and don’t actually live there. Made for a great introduction to a world of excitement, adventure, and antivenom.

For this singular weekend excursion, Tony drove down in his rugged blue Jeep to pick me up and haul my butt back up north to Boca Raton.

He was full of ideas of what we would do while I was there. I believe there was some leatherworking, model rocketry and shooting on the agenda, exciting stuff for a young boy to look forward to. The excitement! The thrills!

Halfway through the drive up, things spun on me a little. The first rush of “I’m finally spending time with my dad!” started to wear off, and the “Who the hell is this old fart” thoughts began to kick in.

“It’s my dad, I’m spending time with my dad, oh boy, oh this is great, dad, woohoo, hey, wait a minute, who the hell is this old guy anyway? I haven’t seen him in two years, I don’t know this guy, this isn’t the dad in my memories at all. Was he always this tan? Did he always have that gold chain, and come off like a smooth-talking used car dealer?”

The changes a few years made to my father in person when compared to the one frozen in my memory were nothing compared to the shock of being introduced to his new home.

Here was my dad, changed and different, but the place he called home was a complete turnup for the books. Just as I had expected him to have remained exactly the same since I’d last seen him, somehow my mental picture was of his still living in our old apartment, with everything exactly the same as it was, including the furniture placement.

Not just no, HELL no. My mother, as part of her batshit craziness, is a functional obsessive/compulsive when it comes to everything being clean, neat, orderly, squared away and perfect in the home. Better Holmes and Gardens might be coming by any minute to ask to take a few pictures, and you need to be prepared, don’t you know.

Additionally, it was part of her cover for visitors. It worked very well, too. Her home was perfect and clean, so she must be perfect and clean. Since most families with kids that I knew were kind of, well, harassed and let things like coasters on tables or toys all over the place slide a bit, she came away from any comparison looking good. Don’t knock it if it works.

My dads new home was, umm, not so nicely kept. Or tidy. Or clean.

Turns out, Tony was a born slob, and his new bride clearly came from the Flower Power side of the sixties. The new apartment was, well, not bad. Physically. What it was, was a living example of two vastly different and conflicting lifestyles recently rammed together into one space. There was no melding, there were demilitarized zones, and there were quarantine areas.

This was the man area, there was the woman circle, scattered throughout the rooms and on every surface, each clearly defined by the lack of someone else’s stuff in the mix, but with a very studied casualness.

It was a total shock to me, being so used to perfect cleanliness and order, to see a house crammed with crap, magazines scattered everywhere, full ashtrays, burn marks on the furniture all over the place where cigarettes had been set down ‘for a minute’ because the ashtrays were out of arms reach and left to smoulder out, plants, potted plants, hanging plants, dangling plants, macrame hangers with plants, some more potted plants, guns, makeup cases, just shit everywhere.

And there were some plants here and there, too.

What was this plant? What was it’s purpose here? These magazines, from whence did they come? My dad reads Shooting Times and Guns and Ammo, where did Cosmopolitan come from, and what alien life form reads it? What the F&@# is a porcelain statue of a little naked boy with chia pet hair doing on the end table amid lighters, loose ammunition and Hoppes #9 gun cleaner? Coffee cups everywhere, dear lord they all have green mold and cigarette butts in them, shit I don’t want to sit down in this place, damnit!

Oh my god, is that the kitchen? Holy shit, what is that, is something growing on the stove? What IS that? Did it move? I think I saw it move! HELP!

Just, damn.

So I’m looking around nervously, Tony tells me to have a seat and get comfortable in the florida room (what would be a three season screened-in porch if Florida had seasons… since all Florida has is the one season, hot, it’s an all-season porch, or the florida room).

Sitting down and feeling comfortable ain’t going hand in hand here… but what the hell, I can always wash my clothes afterwards. So I go on in, wondering if I just made a big mistake for the weekend, and sit down.

My dad comes in a few minutes later and sits down across from me. He’s in talky-talk mode, all fake exuberance about how awesomesauce the weekend will be, us buddy-buddy guys getting to know one another again, how much he missed me, how incredible this will all be. Oh, and Kim the new wife is at work but will be by soon, so let’s talk about how we’re supposed to act when we meet her.

So there we are, we’re both sitting in the Florida room, I’m feeling pretty disoriented and taking it all in spectator style while my dad is talking up our big weekend, and IT happens.

My dad stops talking in mid-sentence, his gaze drawn by movement from the doorway off to my side.

I look over there to see what distracted him, and I can see something alive moving through the dense wilderness of houseplants that choke the entrance to the Florida room. This is inside the house, you understand, moving from the porch to come deeper into the rest of the house, possibly on the way to the kitchen.

What fresh hell is this?

Oh wait, it’s a cat.

Oh cool, my father has a pet cat!

In all the time I knew him, my father had never had a cat, nor did my family ever have any pet except working breed German Shephards. Ever. He was a dog person, a big dog person, and I had never, ever pictured him having a cat. In fact, it would be safe to say that the existence of cats, while possible in theory, were not something that at the age of nine I would have been prepared to swear to in a court of law.

But here was a cat, and a fine, proud specimen of the species it was.

It poked it’s whiskers out of the fronds of the potted plants, and ventured further into the room. It’s stride was confident, moving with an oiled grace that spoke of a long heritage of jungle cats, great hunting beasts that are choosing, right at this particular moment, to refrain from eating you, but will be keeping it’s options open for later, in case he feels peckish.

This magnificent animal glided forward, following the space along the wall between my father and I, and then, just as it reached a point midway between us, it paused, and swung it’s head to meet my fathers stare, as if it felt the weight of my father’s eyes upon it.

My father, frozen as he was in the act of speaking, had remained sitting there, watching the cat. The cat, now paused mid-stride, watched him back.

They passed through this extended moment of motionless silence, as a hush fell over the house. All was still. Silent.

Waiting.

It was a moment straight from an old west gunfight showdown.

Standing cat and sitting man, each sized up the other. I could feel the intensity of their wills as they tried to stare the other down, each daring the other to break first, to move, and in moving, lose the true fight, the ultimate battle of the warrior spirit.

Then, the cat hissed at my dad.

With that sudden movement, the room exploded into a flurry of chaotic action.

Before the sibilant sound had barely registered on my ears, my father’s hand flashed towards the nearest table, and came up with a massive stainless steel revolver, a Ruger Redhawk chambered in .44 magnum.

The moment his hand twitched toward the table, the cat had leapt forward, making a mad dash for the far door to the kitchen.

I recoiled in stunned surprise as my father came up with the pistol in his hand, whirled, and from his seated position opened up with his hand cannon at the fleeing cat, the roars deafening my ears, muzzle flash rocking my eyes, the force of the expanding gases leaving the barrel slapping me in the chest with each devastating shot.

Six concussive bursts slapped me back in my seat, and I clearly saw the hindquarters of the fleeing feline jerk towards the wall with the force of some impact as the explosive shots blasted forth.

As the sound of the last shot rang in my ears, the wisps from the smokeless powder filled the room with their scent, and the afterimages of the muzzle flash danced in my eyes, I stopped looking in the direction of the long-departed cat and turned instead to stare at my father in complete disbelief.

He calmly put the gun back down on the table, muttering under his breath all the while. He seemed lost in his own little world. He then turned back to me, and calmly picked up his conversation from where he’d broken off.

Something from my stunned expression must have gotten through to him that, perhaps, just perhaps, what had happened might need further discussion.

My father then explained to me that there weren’t real bullets in the pistol. Oh no, it was just wax, that’s all. He said that he melted paraffin in a tray about half an inch thick, let it cool and harden, and then pushed his reshaped cartridge casings inset with primers into the wax, resulting in each casing having a half inch wax bullet, ready to be propelled by the force of the primer alone.

In other words, it’s okay that he was shooting at the cat in the house, they were just wax bullets which probably couldn’t kill it anyway.

Wax bullets that of course turned into little molten slugs of hot wax under the force of the expanding gases to get stuck in the fur wherever they hit, and possessed the same mass as they did when solid.

I think something in my expression must have gotten the idea across that I was thinking, “That’s still not fucking right.”

He explained further, as if this all made perfect sense, that the cat was his new wife Kim’s, and the cat hated him. They had a personal vendetta, one against the other, and waged it with a passion amongst the hidden battlegrounds of the home… at least, whenever wife Kim wasn’t around.

This was all related in a conspiratorial way, as though he and the cat were just playing big practical jokes on each other, aren’t we all big kidders and love good practical jokes, but there was real hatred underlying his tone of voice.

If there was a closet full of shoes, the cat would find the most expensive, comfortable pair of my father’s work shoes to pee in. If he bought a $50 roll of cured leather to work on, the cat would jump up on the workbench, get in the leather, unrolling it with his body, and then take a dump in the middle of it.

The list of imaginative attacks made by the cat upon my father was impressive, but I noted that nowhere among them could be found “Made special dad-shooting ammo and kept loaded guns around the house, just on the off chance an opportunity for a snap shot presented itself.”

I know he thought me ungrateful, but after that, the magic of the weekend with my father was somewhat lost on me.

As I said, part of his purpose was accomplished. I walked away from that weekend with a far greater understanding of exactly what kind of man my father was.

Sometimes, when looking back on my childhood, being raised by the batshit crazy one until I was old enough to recognize and resist buying into my father’s attitudes lock, stock and one smoking barrel doesn’t sound so bad after all.

The Flame Wreath Chant – by request

We were talking about something in ventrilo just now, I dunno what, and I was reminded of the wonders of Karazhan raiding… and this was one of those shared moments that I think all of us could relate to at the time. So, by request from Blackbear, here you go. 🙂

Shade of Aran in Karazhan… I will NOT move when Flame Wreath is cast, or yes, yes indeed…. the raid blows up.

Who else remembers those wonderful pugs, when over vent you hear the scream, “Who moved? Who F)&(*^^ moved?!?”

I hope you enjoy this… blast… from the past. /sunglasses

Death Bunnies and Epic Rainbows!

Has this ever happened to you?

“Wtf tank? Why’d you move?” “I had to get out of the purple circle.” “Dude, that was the Warlock’s Hand of Guldan, wtf.” “Oh.”

World of Warcraft is a wonderful game, and no mistake. Very complex, very intricate, and that means lots to learn and master.

So many classes, so many specs, so many…

Spell effects.

There are a lot of different, highly interesting and sometimes quite lovely spell effects in the game, caused by both you and your friends and the internet dragons you love to fight.

One common problem I run into is that I’m fairly new to all the raids, and I haven’t played all the classes to max level myself and played with every spec.

Sometimes, what spell effects I see on the screen, especially in a PUG in an unfamilar zone with masses of AoE mobs, causes me to mistake a fellow players’ attack with something of the bad variety that bad players love to stand in.

Cassie and I were talking about it a bit, how the raid I run with isn’t used to a Moonkin, so the first time I dropped the Talented Mushrooms with that icky greenish-brown slime trail in the center, others were kinda like, “What the hell is that, and do I get the hell out of it.”

Likewise on the aforementioned Warlocks Hand of Guldan, a spell effect I hadn’t seen much before, and that seemed too simple to be a player-caused effect. I saw it on all the add pulls in Grim Batol, and it looked like something that could herald BAD STUFF™.

Cassie mentioned that, as someone that doesn’t play in groups all THAT much, she’d really love an optional setting be added to the graphics choices. 

You may know that there is already a setting that allows you to emphasize your own spell effects over others, highlighting how awesome your spell casts look in your own UI. That’s a nice thought.

Well, we’d like an option that would be functional, as well as attractive. 

We’d like to be able to set spell effects so that they displayed an additional effect, based on whether the caster is friendly or hostile to you.

The way Cassie described it to me, it would work like so;

Your own persistant spell effects, and those of your friends or those friendly to you in PvP, would appear as normal, except that they would be ringed about with pretty bunnies, rainbows and unicorns. Perhaps some lovely hearts or roses and flowers, for flavor.

The persistant spell effects of our enemies would also appear as normal, but would be ringed along the outer edge with daggers, skulls, or some other appropriately menacing symbol of pain and suffering.

In this way, when something appeared under your feet, you’d bloody well know if it was time to GTFO of the fire or not.

I think it would be equally beneficial if it was applied to AoE healing spell effects as damaging ones, as in PvP it sure would be gratifying to have a Druidic green circle of healing appear, and see from the tiny skulls that there was an enemy healer within range of gankage.

Not that I would advocate ganking Druids, of course.

Now, I understand that many people will probably just say, “lrn2recognise, noob”, and I wouldn’t blame them. There are always going to be people who are happy with the way things are, enjoying the increased difficulty of the uncertainty.

Perhaps adding it as an option would cause it to become one of those things that, if others have it on, you have to enable it too, just out of self-preservation. Again, thinking PvP.

But for PvE, I know that it’s not a big thing, but it would be a nice thing. And I’d dearly love to see those happy little death bunnies dancing around the circle of badass all-consuming fire that your friendly warlock or mage just lay down under the internet dragon you were fighting.

Killing them with kindness, indeed.

I’m up, they see me, I’m down!

If you have the right mental attitude, you can find a world of fun in just about anything.

Let’s take the Molten Front as an example.

I imagine most of you that play World of Warcraft have made your way into the Molten Front by now, doing daily quests and furthering the war against Ragnaros.

We’ll take the Firelands one piece at a time… and it won’t cost me a dime… you’ll know it’s me when my flaming hippogryph wings into town.

It’s fun. I’ve been enjoying it.

In this here post, I’m going to eventually be talking about spiders. It’ll take me a while to get there, but, hey… orange flaming spiders. Y’know? Wait for it… Wait for it….

To talk about spiders, we must first talk about unlocking the Shadow Wardens, and having access to their nifty area of the Molten Front.

The Shadow Warden area, as you’ll have quickly discovered upon entering, is filled with flaming spiders and some seriously badass Druids of the Flame.

It’s also got The Hill.

The spider-infested Hill which, if you feel so inclined, you can climb to become the King of the Spider-Hill.

The Druids of the Flame… /sigh. Okay, flaming kitty form is cool, it’s very pretty, I’ll grant you that. It brings out my inner druidic aesthete, I’ll be getting my face clawed, screaming in excruciating pain, but all the while I’ll be thinking, “Darling, those flames look simply FABulous on you! What octane do you drink to get that gorgeous orange tone?”

And they’ve got this blazing phoenix flight form too, it makes me swoon with desire. Have you seen them flying around in that form, leaving blazing contrails across the sky?

I was okay with it. It’s pretty cool, seeing Druids from an entirely new visual perspective.

But then I was fighting some, and they went and unloaded on me in Scorpion form.

Scorpion form!

I’ve got a great sleek black kitty form, and I love my bear form, but I had to check out my horny feather form for a second, sure I missed something. Nope, same old Moonkin form we’ve had for years. I look back over to the new, improved Druid forms for the 2011 model year… the NPC druids get WHAT FRABJOUS IDIOT DECIDED TO DO THAT?

Scorpion form? Really? If you stab me in my furry heart, do I not bleed, Blizzard? DO I NOT BLEED?!?

I’ll be blunt. Blizz, don’t you EVER tell me again that you don’t want to waste spending development time and money on new Druid form graphics because too few members of the player population would benefit. If you can whip up an entire new gorgeous range of druid forms for a content patch, you can bloody well update the Moonkin form that you expect people, actual paying customers, to continue to play for the next five years.  /endrant.

Grrr.

Moving on, away from certain… issues… the author may have, and returning to flaming spiders.

Once you’ve unlocked The Shadow Wardens, AND the Druids of the Talon, AND you’ve gone down inside the Druids of the Talon cave to complete the extra quest Need… Water… Badly… you can unlock a new quest giver in the area the Shadow Wardens control… Tholo Whitehoof.

Tholo, when approached in the Shadow Warden area, will sometimes offer you a quest called The Flame Spider Queen.

Yeah, I know, it feels like I’m taking forever to get to the point.

Here’s the deal. This Flame Spider Queen quest sends you out to gather up two different kinds of spider… fluids.

You’ve got to collect Flame Venom, which the normal flaming melee spiders have when you kill them. They’re in range, they wander around all over the area, you have to kill them anyway for another quest. No worries.

The other spider…. fluid you have to collect is Searing Web Fluid.

The Searing Web Fluid comes from Cinderweb Spinners… who live on The Hill.

The Cinderweb Spinners, when you do something to get their attention, will… spray… you with their noxious juices, and then yank you up to them on their high stone perch!

When you get sprayed in the face in this fashion, you collect one of the 8 Searing Web Fluid that you need. You can then proceed to kill the spider, and you’re standing up there, on a higher stone perch of The Hill.

The idea is for you to continue to annoy the Cinderweb Spinners, getting sprayed by spider juices and then getting yanked up to progressively higher perches, until, finally, you are on top of and King of the Spider-Hill! Way to go! Grats!

Hey, I can see my house from here. Hey! You! Get the hell off my lawn!

But what if you come back the next day, get the same quest, and really don’t feel like killing 8 individual Cinderweb Spinners? They can be a pain in the butt to target, since they sit up on these high stone ledges, and you can’t get good line of sight up there. Some classes don’t have 40 yard ranged tugs, either.

Yeah, I said ‘tug’ instead of ‘pull’.

Here’s why.

What you do is, you approach your Cinderweb Spinner of choice, for the purposes of this demonstration we’ll name him “John”. He’s your john of the evening. Take a moment to get to know each other.

Hi john!

You ‘tug’ on the john, and he’ll spray you with his juices, and then drag you up there to his high perch.

But you don’t have to kill him to collect the fluid, it’s sprayed all over your face. Kill john? Let’s not be too hasty, here!

All you need is a rag to wipe it off with, and then take a step back off the ledge… and he’ll spray you again, dragging you right back up there.

Every time the john sprays you in the face, you get another Searing Web Fluid to pack away in your, umm, bags.

So you can tug on that spider repeatedly, and he’ll just keep spraying you in the face until you’ve got all 8 of the Searing Web Fluid that you need.

Now, sure, once you’ve got what you, err, came for, you can kill john if you want. But after all that you’ve been through together, you know he’s tired and just wants to roll over and go to sleep, so why not jump down off the hill and run like hell, see if you can break aggro before his next 2 second spray cast gets, err, ‘off’ on you.

As I said when we started this journey together…

If you have the right mental attitude, you can find a world of fun in just about anything.