The Cub Report: Don’t Look Kids! Scaaaaary!

This year as usual we visited the Pumpkin Festival so Alex could pick out the perfect pumpkin. He chose one that is this mutant pumpkin thing that grew lying on it’s side. So, the top is what is normally the side, and it ended up having this wierd stretched shape with big ears.

We asked Alex to sit down with a piece of paper and draw the design he wanted his pumpkin to be carved with.

Yep. Seven eyes, three noses, three eyebrows. “I could do the wide face that I’ve always wanted because we got a wide pumpkin.”

Who says kids can’t engage in forward planning? I know he was planning on that face from the moment he saw the big pumpkin. “Finally, a pumpkin big enough to take all the eyeballs I’ve ever wanted!”

So, Happy Halloween, everyone!

Speaking of Alex, forward planning, and of spooky things….

Well before Mists of Pandaria came out, the revamped Scroll of Resurrection process was revealed.

At the time, my family had all the fun we could handle, but we were lucky enough to have a few people accept Scrolls from us and pay for game time, resulting in free mounts we never use.

Those rewards if you were the recipient of a Scroll were pretty amazing, though. They made me think.

If you had an inactive account that had once been paid, and it had been inactive for over a month, someone could give you a Scroll (to your email account) and you could apply it, giving you…

  • An instant free boost to your registered expansions to include everything up to and through Cataclysm.
  • Seven free days of full game time, instant, without needing to provide payment info.
  • One character on your account, of your choice including newly made level ones, that would be instantly boosted to level 80 with full 20 slot bags, 75 gold, reasonable level 80 starter gear, and 280% flying speed pre-trained.
  • A server transfer to the server of the person who gave you the Scroll, free, if you so choose.

That’s… that is pretty crazy.

In the back of my head was the thought that, if Alex ever showed a lot of interest in a character class, this might be something we could do. Someday.

Thanks to the sometimes Byzantine billing and account systems Blizzard uses, Alex does have more than one account. He began with the starter account that had free game time that we gave him to see if he liked the game.

That first account was the one he had made his former favorite character on, the character that he worked so hard to level just to get the Creepy Crate pet that I once blogged about.

Well, when the time came and we agreed to get him his own account… because that account had already been created, we could not convert that to a paid account ON THE RECRUIT A FRIEND PLAN.

As I blogged about at the time, to have a RAF account, it has to be created from the RAF invite. You can’t convert an existing account, even if that existing one was a free one or gifted one in the first place.

Also, the RAF plan does not have the option of being Recruit a Family. 🙂

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an option for the invitee to accept more than one RAF at a time, so two sponsors (or more) could all be linked together, where all three (or more) would share the rewards?

But then I suppose that would unleash the floodgates, and you’d find people with multiple kids all wanting to do RAF together, or groups of teens all wanting to start accounts linked as a group of friends so you’d have 10 brand new accounts all wanting to share instant teleporting and enhanced leveling and all that stuff, and oh my God the horror, so much money and so many new players all with those rewards the cranky old people in the Forums didn’t get to have back when God was a corporal and Naxx was in Vanilla, it would be terrible!

I can see why Blizzard would never do such a thing. The horror! /lol

Anyway, we got Alex his own account through Recruit a Friend with me. that is where his Druid and, eventually, our Death Knights came from.

Then I activated his original account, for the grand sum of $5 thanks to a previous bundle sale, and paid to transfer his Shaman who had the Creepy Crate, so Alex had everything on one bloody account. 🙂

Such a convoluted process. Silly, really. When I log into his Battlenet account, he’s actually got three sub accounts, WoW1, WoW2 and WoW3. WoW1 was the free starter, WoW2 was the one you could gift to a friend to give them a full access account as a trial, and then WoW3 was the RAF account that is now the full paid account.

I called and asked once if I could have WoW1 and WoW2 deleted, since, you know, why? And I was told no, suck it up and deal with it.

I thought long and hard before I paid to move his Shaman just because, you know, pet. What it came down to was, I had the money in my savings account at the time, and I have paid for pets (and a mount) from the Blizzard store for myself before. When it came time to consider this move, I had to balance how hard Alex worked to get the Creepy Crate and how much he loved it against what I would be willing to pay for a pet. Put that way, it felt worth it to me that he have the critter-munching monstrosity.

Even though, now that I sit me down and describe it, the idea of spending $25 so he could have a Creepy Crate pet seems hard to explain. Ah well, one more thing Cassie gets to use when she takes me to court to show my ‘fragile’ state of mind.

Fast forward to this week. Alex just happens to have, through all this complicated concatenation of account shenanigans, a formerly paid account that has been sitting inactive for many months.

Topic shift…

Since Mists of Pandaria came out, Alex has done very little in the game. He has done pet battles, and gotten a team up pretty good, but he barely entered Jade Forest on his Death Knight before it just got too complicated and frenetic with all the crowds and kill stealing and crap.

Basically, he doesn’t want to spend any more time in Mists on his DK until we can do it together.

He did get far enough into it to do the Alliance chain where he played as a little dwarf who encounters a few raccoons along the way. That part he liked. I guided him to Halfhill where he learned to farm, and enjoyed it. He even was the first of our family to find an Ominous Seed and grow his own Terrible Turnip pet.

He started a Panda Hunter, and leveled through the entire Turtle Island chain, ending up as a level 12 Panda outside the gates of Stormwind, and eventually laying a good one on King Wrynn.

He’s done a good bit of stuff, but nothing has had any staying power. It’s all cute little vignettes instead of a single engrossing novel that would draw him in.

He’s spent more time doing other things, and more power to him. That’s the way I think it should be, with him trying all sorts of different stuff in real life instead of getting hooked into only one thing. I want for him to have a broad range of interests and the chance to do it all. Let him wait until he gets old before he settles down into one hobby.

At the same time… he kept coming back to the game to log into his Warlock, the alt that we had made and were playing together. He started playing it by himself, and having fun. He was full of excitement at how cool the stuff they could get seemed to be.

He really got fixated on wanting to get to the level as Demonology where he could ‘upgrade’ his pets to their super-powered versions.

I had originally thought you got access to that at around level 40 or 50, and he was putting forth a pretty good run at reaching that goal.

I happened to look at the Talent list one day, and realized… oh shit, you don’t get that Talent until level 75. Oh, damn. He was really looking forward to that…

Oh wait.

Two nights ago, I asked him out of the blue, just to test the waters, “If you could have any character race or class instantly at level 80, what would it be?”

As a rhetorical question, not linked to anything at all.

“WARLOCK!!!! A worgen warlock!”

“Really? You wouldn’t want, maybe, a warrior or your druid or a mage?”

“No, I would want a warlock!”

“Well, maybe we could do something that would let you try one out for a week.”

That was a very exciting idea.

So, I sent over a Scroll of Resurrection to his old account, and told him that he could create any character he wanted, any at all, and once he was really happy with it, we could make it level 80 instantly to enjoy for one week and see what it was like.

He spent at least an hour fussing with the character creator. 🙂 I love seeing it when he takes the creative process seriously. He gets into imagining things, it’s so cool. 

I thought he was going to go Gnome for a minute there. He also played around with the Blood Elves, which surprised me. He really thought about it.

Then he went back to big and looming with a worgen, and was all set.

Last night I made sure he was positive that was the character he wanted boosted, and then thump, up to 80 it went.

Holy crap, people.

So yes, the characters do get 75 gold and four 20 slot Frostweave bags just given to them. I’ve got characters I’ve played to level 85 that don’t have bags that good. And the gear set he got as a level 80 warlock looks really cool, too.

Here was my first major shock; when he went to look at his mounts, he had access to ALL of the mounts from his OTHER, ACTIVE ACCOUNT.

Yes, his mounts were not just shared on all the characters of one sub-account but on all the other accounts attached to that one Blizzard Battlenet account!

So he’s on an account with only two level 8s and a level 80 warlock, with the mounts from Glory of the Raider and stuff all available to him. WTF?

Then the second surprise was all the abilities warlocks get.

I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t know anything about warlocks. I really don’t. It is the only class I have never, ever leveled past 30. And I don’t PvP, so I’ve never had to learn about them to defend against them. I don’t plot their destruction, I leave that to Gnomer.

Almost nobody I know or play witha ctively even has a warlock, so I don’t get to see them in action, either. It’s wierd.

But I thought I knew the basics… at least, up to the last great patch 5.0 revamp.

Just, wow!

He loves the Dreadsteed, but even more than that, he’s got the ability to drop a circle on the ground and then run around, instantly teleporting back to it! Yeah, that was a hit.

And the upgraded demons? I thought he was going to spend an hour just summoning each of them and gushing over what they look like and what their names are. He is very impressed that his blueberry is now a Void LORD. it’s not just a Voidwalker, it is a LORD of Voidwalkers.

Basically, he is now able, for free, to try out the abilities at level 80 and see if it’s really something that he loves.

So far, I’d say it’s a big hit.

A few things he said last night included wondering why he bothered making a hunter when the warlock pets are so much cooler. And teleporting!

When I showed him the two special guardian pets he can summon once every ten minutes, he was just amazed. His first question? ‘When I get to max level, will I be able to have one of my pets look like the huge fire rock guy permanently?”

I have no idea. I doubt it, but really, who can say? Someone who knows more about warlocks than I do, clearly. I was shocked that Death Knights could Glyph a new appearance to their Ghouls to make them Ghasts, and Army of the Dead to be different undead critters, so hell, maybe?

Here is the funniest thing. I didn’t even show him that he can now bind other NPC demons to his will. But I’m going to take him out to Nagrand and show him the demon infested area out to the west of the zone, and let him go nuts.

Warlocks have so many fun toys to play with, it’s scary.

His biggest thrill? He can cast a spell and breathe underwater. FOREVER.

So funny. Who would have imagined he’d have found a home in the eeeeevil side of town?

Scroll of Resurrection. It’s not just for friends anymore.

My biggest surprise? I mean, just really surprised?

I expected his Warlock on the other sub-account to be a ‘play it now and then forget about it’ thing, because the Scroll only levels your account to Cataclysm levels. I assumed, before you could pay to transfer a character from one account to another, both would have to be at the same expansion level, and no I was not going to buy a fourth MoP expansion box just so i could then pay to move a warlock. Not just no but KISS MY BUTT.

The surprise is, no you do NOT have to have both accounts at the same level. I have checked very thoroughly, and yes, I could pay to transfer the warlock from a Cataclysm account directly to one that already has MoP on it without upgrading first. 

Think about that. You could buy the Warcraft Battle Chest for $5, activate it and then let it go dormant and inactive for over a month, and then for $25 boom, you’ve got a brand new level 80 on your main account.

I know people who pay more than that on appearance changes. IN A MONTH. Baddmojo, I’m looking at you.

You just never know.

Kids these days, and their evil warlocky ways.

Next thing you know, he’s going to be showing me all the demons in the entire world that he could control, and drag them around behind him.

He’s already a menace in ICC, every time we go to fight something, it’s “Don’t fight the frost whelp, it’s my pet!”.

“But Alex, if you keep it as your pet, the wave never ends and we can’t activate the Sindragosa fight.”

“Oh, all right. I wish I could have one of those Frost Whelps as a real pet though, they’re cute!”

Thank GOD he didn’t hear the person in our ICC raid vent who announced that you could, if you’d bought Wrath as the Collectors Edition. I have enough of a pain explaining why no, he can’t have his own pet Deathy.

At some point, enough is enough. And I draw the line at having ancient uber-powerful world-shattering metal-jawed or undead frosty dragon whelps as pets.

He can stick to his pet-eating box, and just deal with the occasional cloud of green fart smoke.

Brrrr. Scary.

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Goals for the Future

I know I just posted about cross-realm last night, but I wanted to talka bout what my goals are and what I hope to see happen over the course of the next several months.

The new expansion brought with it new raids, factions, a new continent and a frenetic feel of activity. There is just a… well, my apologies to the Klaxxi but it brought with it a buzz that has me feeling that it’s all go go go, so much to do and there is more coming down the tunnel at a breakneck pace.

I know that there is typically three or four months between the announcement of a patch and the patch releasing, but even knowing that and KNOWING that everyone talking like patch 5.1 is ‘imminent’ is wrong doesn’t stop that feeling. Move forward, get things done because the next phase is right around the corner.

That’s all well and good, I’m glad of the vast quantity of things to do in the game.

What I’d like to do though, really like to set as a goal, is to complete all of the raids in the game, every last one of them, with friends.

We’re doing Sunwell Plateau next Sunday, but it’s not really my goal to hop around out of order like that. I wanted to do that one once quick, simply because Alex saw the artwork and took the virtual tour when we did the Magister’s Terrace instance, and he’s been hot to see the actual raid ever since.

What I’d like to do is pick a different raid each Sunday, and do them in order.

As a group the BBB Cross-server folks have killed the Twin Emperors in AQ40, so I see that as a starting point. From there, I’d like to go in order through all of the Burning Crusade raids whose only accomplishments are for final completion.

Some of them certainly don’t take very long, so I’m thinking Gruul’s Lair and Magtheridon’s Lair can be done in the same night.

I’m also thinking that, for something like Karazhan, we could split up into two teams all in one ventrilo channel, and compete on speed kills to see who downs the last boss first. Okay, three teams depending on how many were to sign up. Just for fun, no other reason.

But that’s my long term goal in the game right now. I want to progress in sequence through all the raids in the game, at least once, and eventually do all of the Naxxramas 25 heroic achieves, and then the Ulduar 25 heroic achieves, and from there possibly move on to Cataclysm raids.

Of course, by then my head might have exploded.

I’ll admit it, I’m really excited at some of them, like Serpentshrine Cavern and Black Temple and the Battle for Mount Hyjal. It’s been a real long time. But it makes sense to me to take it one step at a time.

I hope you’ll be able to join me!

BBB Cross-Server Raid: The Sunwell Plateau!

Next Sunday evening November 4th, we’re moving on to a new raid… the Sunwell!

Sunwell Plateau is a 25 person raid tuned for level 70 players located on the Isle of Quel’danas. It was the last raid implemented in Burning Crusade, the most powerful (the drops were of more power than the Black Temple) and has the chance to drop a legendary, the bow Thor’idal the Stars Fury.

Sunwell Plateau is considered able to be cleared by a two person team of level 85 players.

However… I ain’t looking for two peeps. I’m looking for twenty-five.

Twenty-five insane souls willing to crash the Sunwell and have a lighthearted time while doing it.

You don’t have to be a part of a big team to do the raid, so if all you want is a clear and an achieve, you can certainly accomplish your goal with a 5 person group of regular composition any time you’d like.

But if you’d like to join me, next Sunday from 6 PM to 8 PM central time is when we’ll be going.

As usual, the only requirement to take part is that you be level appropriate or higher and either on my friends list (and same Alliance faction) or friends with someone who already is.

At 15 minutes ’til 6, I’ll be on and send out the broadcast to whisper me for an invite… so if you’re late, you might miss out.

Oh, and on a side note… Thor’idal will be handled like any other loot in these old raids. Roll Need if you are a Hunter and don’t have it, Greed if you don’t want it. That’s how we’ve been handling all transmog-appropriate gear, Need if you want it for your set otherwise Greed it.

Yes, I’ll be going on my Hunter, and no, Thor’idal is not reserved.

Reminder – Icecrown Citadel cross-server TOMORROW NIGHT

Tomorrow night, planning on going into ICC for a pure heroic-mode blowout.

Speed kills, my friends. Just how fast speed kills remains to be seen.

What I’d like to do is change the start time to one hour earlier than normal, from 7 PM to 6 PM, Central time.

I say again, start time for ICC heroic destruction is 6 PM Central time.

The reason is simple; if we go at 7, Alex can’t finish the run. Selfish, I know, but he was really unhappy he wasn’t allowed to stay up to kill the Lich King on our last one. Sunday night is a school night, and we’ve got a regular schedule for school nights, so he is done playing by 8 PM.

So, if you’d like to do ICC heroic with us Sunday night, be on and ready to rock at 6 PM Central, and of course already be on my friends list.. or friends with someone who is.

Oh, and as a reminder to the folks from last time… all we were missing was Been Waiting a Long Time on the Lich King kill, so let’s see if we can knock that out for the few folks that still needed it.

See you there!

 

Storytime – Misty Mountain Hop

I was given the greatest compliment I could have earlier today, as Jon told me he had been reading and enjoying my stories for years. It’s been a long time since I’ve done one, but this storytime bearwall is for you, Jon. Put another way… this is all your fault.

Back when I was a cub even younger than my son is now, I lived with my mother in Miami.

I don’t talk much about those years for various reasons, but I do have one story I thought might be fun to share.

My mother had a lot of family living in South Florida, mostly in and around Miami. The world that I knew was fairly close, geographically.

One relative, my mother’s sister, lived in the distant, far off land of Fort Lauderdale. To my then-young ears, rumor said Fort Lauderdale was where all the hookers, sluts, pimps and white trash hung out, and my aunt chose to live there because that was where she fit in best.  If tyou think that language is bad, you should hear what they actually said.

In later life, of course, I learned that Fort Lauderdale was no better or worse than anywhere else… but those years held other horrors in store. Specifically, the fondue craze, and macrame. Just, macrame. How many flower-pot holders does one house need, anyway?

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, if the words “disco”, “fondue” and “macrame” do not send shivers of terror racing up your spine… bless you. Some viruses must not be propagated.

There was at the time only one other relative I knew of that was regularly absent from the South Florida area, and that was my mother’s brother, my Uncle Charlie. Uncle Charlie was a truck driver by profession, who it was said had once traveled as far north as Orlando, but I scoffed at such tall tales. I knew the map was a lie, told to install false hope in children that there was a possibility of escape from Hurricane Alley.

Ah, my Uncle Charlie. He lived in a rathole apartment, brewed his own beer in a closet, carried a gun in the cab of his truck, always had a full beard and wore a Peterbilt ball cap 24/7… what a great guy. He was who I always wanted to be when I grew up. I’m pretty sure I became a truck driver just because, hell, Uncle Charlie did it.

Anyway, this one hot Miami winter, my mother announced out of the blue that we were going on vacation.

I knew that she wanted to get away from her life for a short time, she’d just had another bad relationship fall apart, and whenever that happened she wanted to get a change of scenery.

Normally, that meant leaving our one room apartment for a week or two to live at the grandparents, next door to the Hialeah Race Track.

In other words, an advance insight into what purgatory would be like.

People talk about zombie apocalypses, but they hold no fear for me. I spent summers living in my grandparents house in Miami.

How to describe what that was like? A place where, during high summer, no windows could be open, no fans were active, breezes were never to be seen, Charlies Angels and the Rockford Files were the highlights of black and white television, and the yard was where you escape to, to see if you can hunt lizards with lego robots. Swift movements were frowned upon, and loud noises forbidden.

I still remember, the highlight of my entire week one time was they had a Texas Instruments calculator in a desk, that was the size of a Bible and had red glowing digits when fired up. I learned how to type 7734 on the calculator, and other words of deep personal meaning. It gave me something to look forward to sharing when I returned to school. That was a banner week, all right.

As you can imagine, when my mother announced we were going on vacation that hot Florida winter, I was… unthrilled. The lizards would be hibernating! What the 7734 would I do for fun?

Mother quickly corrected my mistake. This was no ordinary vacation. Oh, no.

No, this vacation would lead us… out of the state. Across the state line to hillbilly hell. Out of the state, to some strange, far off distant land known as North Carolina.

To my mind, this meant I was going to where the damn Yankees lived. There was a North Carolina, and a South Carolina, and we had had a war of the north against the south called the Civil War, and so North Carolina must be where all the Damn Yankees lived, and South Carolina was where Johnny Reb lived.

Would we be in mortal danger when we crossed those battle lines?

At the time, my mother said no. Now, I know better.

But how could we possibly leave the state? Where would we go? How would we live? I’ve heard of winter UP NORTH, they have, like, snow and shit. I heard tell that it felt like living in your ice-cube tray all the time! And I’ve stuck my head in the freezer section before, everything in there is all hard, cold and has sharp corners. Sounds painful.

My mother shared with me a story of far off distant kin that lived amongst the great smoking mountains, in and among the green and verdant valleys. She painted a picture of a vacation spent in a place where deer run wild, bears eat the unwary, and there is this stuff on the ground, its water, but somehow it’s solid, too, but not like the ice cubes in the fridge, more like this soft powder shit, but not cocaine either.

I grew up in Miami, even at that age it was important to make the distinction.

Like, you can pick the shit up, and flop in it, and it’s cold. But it’s really water! I know, right? I’m calling bullshit on this powdered water on the ground thing. I’ve seen our freezer, that shit is hard as rocks. Cold sharp rocks? Oh yes, sign me up for the cavorting.

 No, she explained to me, it’s like the stuff on the walls of the freezer when it needs to be defrosted.

OOOOHHHHHHHHH. Now I get it.

So the idea is, these far off relatives who I had never, ever heard of before in my life supposedly lived in the mountains of North Carolina, and had a cabin at their tobacco farm we could stay at for a few weeks, up where the Great Smoky Mountains divide the land between the Carolinas and Tennessee.

Now, this excited me. Tennessee? Hee Haw was my FAVORITE SHOW EVER!

Gloom, despair, and agony on me.
Deep dark depression, excessive misery.
If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at alllll.
Gloom, despair and agony on me.

Or my other favorite,

Where oh where are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone.
I searched the world over and thought I’d found true love,
You met another, and PBBBHHHT you was gone.

Hell ma, why didn’t you say so? Let’s get on the road!

Off we went… with our thrift store winter coats packed and ready for a winter adventure.

The drive was going to be fairly long, but I was used to long roads trips of even as much as an entire hour on the road. This would just be a little longer than that, right?

It turns out that driving from Miami to the Great Smoky Mountains takes a tad longer than an hour. Fortunately, I was able to stretch out and sleep for most of it, and read books and comics. We had a big old boat of a car, and this was back in the 1970s, where the rules were vastly different.

There were no child car seats, and nobody used seat belts, let alone seat belts in the back. Where did I sleep? Sometimes I slept stretched out on the back seat, and sometimes I climbed up into the ledge of the window well above the back of the seat and slept up there, like a cat in the Sun. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it?

The change from sunny Florida to chilly North Carolina mountains was… dramatic. It was already a winter wonderland covered in snow when we arrived, and it was like something from a picture book.

Our relatives turned out to be fairly prosperous tobacco farmers, and their “cabin” a two-story stone and brick structure accompanied by a big curing barn for leaf tobacco tucked up in the high country, crowded by dense hardwoods.

We pulled up and unloaded our scant belongings, and were shown into the “cabin”, which to our poor asses was as luxurious as a freaking mansion. Cabin? How do you call a multi-room structure with separate living and dining areas and kitchen and nice furniture and a wood burning stone fireplace a cabin?

First round of culture shock. Where I grew up, “cabin” was semantically equivalent to “dinky little shack”. The word cabin just seemed too puny and insignificant next to this opulent splendor. Hell, they even had a bookshelf with boxed puzzles for whiling away the long winter days snowed in! Talk about posh!

I felt very much like a fish out of water, thrust into a very unfamiliar world. We were shown around the property and up into the treeline, where we were told about the deer we might see, and I’m not talking your Florida deer which are little more than small dogs with antlers. I’m talking DEER, like the things Marlin Perkins might talk about on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, narrating a scene. “And now, as I enjoy this lovely cup of coffee, Jim will cautiously approach the vicious, brutal man-eating deer to scratch it behind the ears. Let’s watch. OH MY! Well, that will certainly leave a mark. As we leave jim to extricate the antlers from his posterior, may I suggest you protect your children from the mauling of massive marsupials with an insurance policy from Mutual of Omaha?”

The folks that showed us around were dressed well in many layers of heavy winter clothing. We, of course, were dressed like idiot Floridians that thought long sleeve Henley shirts were a bit too much. Our relatives, it turned out, were sober, respectable tobacco farmers. They had all their teeth. They did not talk about “Gittin’ Johnny Reb”. They DID talk about the deer hunting that year, and made jokes about how they’d have to take me up on a hunt, get me my first deer and smear deer blood all over me as part of the grand hunting tradition of the Great Smokies.

I wanted to ask if that was anything like the blood I got all over me in my first school knife fight, but saying that kind of thing around strangers was one of the fastest ways to get my mom to beat the shit out of me in public, so I managed to refrain. She was in one of her ‘good moods’, and those were to be cherished and encouraged as much as possible, usually by being invisible.

Still, the talk of killing deer and being covered in blood (which, in my mind, meant my thin clothing would be sopping wet, and damnit I was already cold) left me feeling happy when the “grownups” all headed back into the house to chat and visit with each other and catch up on lost time, and I was left outside to explore.

Not long after they all went inside, a guy came roaring up the narrow dirt path that led to the property. He had this incredible piece of shit for a car, all rust and bondo and patches welded on, cracked windshield, just a piece of shit. He layed down on his brakes, scattering rocks and dirt everywhere, and when he got out he hopped straight up the steps to the house as if he owned the place.

He was a complete stranger, of course, but so was everyone up there, tall and thin with whiskers and overalls. Basically, he looked like a country version of my moms infamous “Fort Lauderdale white trash”.

He came bopping out of the house minutes later, hurried over to his car, and then noticed me standing there, watching.

What follows is a fairly accurate recreation of what happened next.

He looked at me, and yelled, “Hey boy, you want to go for a ride in a race car?”

‘Sure!”

“Well, hop on in boy, let’s get going.”

I ran over and approached the passenger side of the car. I tried to open the door, but there was no handle… just a flat patch of bondo. The guy reached across and opened the door from the inside, and pushed it out. I climbed on inside, and I didn’t have to bother with a door handle, because the door slammed closed as he rocked it from zero to fifty in nothin’ flat, spinning around to head back down the, did I mention before, NARROW single lane dirt trail that led back to the road.

Thus began my misty mountain hop, as we barreled down a single lane dirt road at up to 60 mph, with no hope to survive if someone happened to be coming up that damn road at the same time.

I grabbed ahold of the armrests and the door handle, as he hit the road at full speed, skidded into the turn and got us pointed in the general direction of ‘down’.

“Hey boy, you like racing?”

“Umm, sure?”

What followed then was an absolutely indecipherable running discussion of K cars, Detroit steel, Nascar, stock car racing (all I knew about race cars were the Utah Salt Flats and the rocket cars that went for the world land speed record, a fascination I had at that age. Nascar? WTF was that? If it didn’t have a rocket engine, how could you call it a race car?) and bootlegging in the mountains, and how racing all started from good old boys running moonshine through narrow mountain roads.

All this being said while we are blasting through narrow country roads in the high mountains, weaving in and out and occasionally hitting gravel shoulders on the turns. Gravel shoulders overlooking some truly gorgeous scenery. Just, stunning. In my expectation of sudden, imminent death at the hands of this COMPLETE ASSHOLE, I was gratified that some of my last moments as I lay dying would be of such beautiful snow-covered mountains.

Eventually, we arrived at the very bottom of the mountain valley, and came to a stop next to a trailer home, rust spotted and with cars up on blocks around the acre sized lot that looked to be in better shape than the piece of shit he was driving, and of which he seemed so proud.

He got out of the car, and a couple more good old boys came out of the trailer.

My driver opened the trunk, got out a few glass jugs of what looked like water, and handed them over. The three of them pulled a cork, a no-shit yes I am dead serious cork out of one clear glass jug and drank right from the jug. They passed the jug around while the two trailer guys talked to my driver, and it turned out, holy shit, the race car the guy was talking about was the PIECE OF SHIT HE WAS DRIVING.

I was thirsty, and so when one of them offered me the jug, just a straight “here, want some?” I said sure, I usually hate water, I’m more of a Kool-Aid drinker, but I’m thirsty, screw it.

Did you know that, when distilled properly, moonshine really is perfectly clear and indistinguishable from water? I didn’t. I had no idea.

I think I could be excused for not knowing this information previously, though.

Why? Probably because I WAS SEVEN YOU STUPID REDNECK ASSHOLES.

From there, we climbed back into the car, with an empty clear jug left at the trailer behind us, for the trip up the mountain to take me to the ‘cabin’.

It kinda blurs from that point. I was drunk and didn’t know what drunk was, I knew the maniac driving the car was a crap driver who kept taking it right to the edge, I was out of my mind with fear and expected to die at any moment.

But, and I want to be clear about this, I still had my pride. I was DAMNED if I was going to show this son of a bitch how scared I was by his driving. I may be about to die, absolutely certain of it, but I flat-out refused to show it. Fuck you, drive it off the cliff, I don’t give a shit.

Who said you can’t learn anything of value in public schools? I already knew how to spit in the face of death.

When we finally came roaring up the dirt lane, the cabin was deserted. He told me to get out, and then took off like a bat out of hell.

I wandered around for a while, wondering where everyone went. I was in a daze. I was still drunk, I was still alive and felt kinda cheated by this, since I’d gotten all the worrying and fear out-of-the-way already. After all that, to just be wandering around a snowy barn and stone house seemed… lame.

The barn was open, so I went inside where all the aromatic leafy tobacco was piled up in a massive mound. It smelled pretty good.

Uncle Charlie always chewed Old Red out of a pouch, and that looked fairly easy, so what the heck, right? If my Uncle liked it, must be pretty good stuff. It hadn’t occurred to me until right then to wonder why I never saw any kids chewing tobacco. Everyone I knew smoked like a chimney, so it must be all right.

I got a wad of leaf and stuck it in my mouth and started to chew.

Right then, I heard an engine straining to make it up the drive, and I walked outside the barn, but I was still focusing on chewing this stuff that, wow, you know that stuff is really pretty nasty, and why do I suddenly feel lightheaded and dizzy, good lord everything is buzzing and tingling, okay this is some good shit, I have a lot of juice in my mouth though, gotta move the chew around and swallow some of this OH WHOOPS BAD MOVE….

And this is how I was when my mother got out of the car after spending two hours with my relatives frantically driving all over the mountain trying to find me after I “vanished” with the bootlegging, moonshining occasional farm hand and all around lunatic that had just been fired by my relatives.

Wobbly. Drunk. Buzzed off my mind from chewing tobacco. And sure as hell that there was no way, NO WAY, that I would ever get in a car with a Nascar fan ever, ever again.

Like, ever.

If that’s how a Damn Yankee acts, God save us from the rednecks!

Five Feet High and Rising

[audio:https://thebigbearbutt.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Five-Feet-High-and-Rising.mp3|titles=Johnny Cash – Five Feet High and Rising]

Beartrap the Unbalanced: The adventure continues!

The Unbalanced should be a title. I’m not insane, just… unbalanced. Ever seen me try jumping or platforming puzzles? It’s true on so many levels!

I decided that I would do dailies nevermore. None for me. My Druid is exalted with Tillers, so I can plant Songbells or whatever food strikes my fancy, but even there, no dailies. None.

The feeling of freedom is incredible. No responsibilities, no daily toil or drudgery. Just log in and play, man, play.

And after I get that first hour of gametime out of the way where I harvest, plow, plant and do daily Scroll of Wisdom and Imperial Silk transmutes, I can get right on my Hunter and play! lol. In most games, that first hour would be considered playtime too, right?

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Freedom? Oh yes, I’m free to do anything I want to!

And what I want to do turns out to be dailies. I just want to do them for the sake of doing them, not for a ‘someday’ goal.

While Freedoms just another word for no Lesser Charms to use, I’m not doing dailies for some goal, I’m just enjoying going around doing stuffs.

Specifically, Klaxxi stuffs.

I chain-queued my Hunter last night, did a bunch of heroics, and even took part in killing the Sha of Anger for the second time.

That was great, the instances are very exciting and feel nicely bite-sized, but I kept resenting them pulling me away from Awakening Paragons and killing turtles for the honor of the Klaxxi.

Oh, and I hit Friendly with the Black Prince, so I calculated how many more mobs I would have to kill, exactly, to hit Honored and make the Black Prince happy with me.

500. That is what I would have to kill, five hundred. Sounds like a made for TV movie, doesn’t it? The Five Hundred. Dun dun dun.

Is it wrong of me that, after all my whining about gating gear behind rep and JP in a faction, I am seriously thinking about buckling down and going on a one-night rampage of blood-drenched slaughter just to please the Black Prince?

That was a rhetorical question, you don’t need to answer that.

It’s funny. Obviously, I don’t HAVE to have lesser Charms (turned in by the 90s for a Greater) to get extra chances at gear rolls, I can play just fine without them. At the same time, if you have any interest in getting geared up for your raids, don’t you almost HAVE to try and get them, at least in the short term?

Good thing I like the Klaxxi. And sooner or later I’m going to go do some Golden Dawn (er, I mean Lotus) dailies so I can get Satchels for a chance to learn the recipe for the little Jewelcrafting Kittycat pet. I got my recipes for two of the Cat mounts, that will do me for a long time.

Apparently, I will do dailies to get patterns to make vanity items, but I’ll turn my nose and sneer at upgrading my gear to improve actual performance. My Lesser Charms will be an incidental byproduct of my wastrel ways.

Hmmm. Where did my life go so horribly wrong?

A few words about the heroics.

Damn, they are FUN!

The first time you roll a barrel into a monkey just feels right.

At the same time, holy crap are some of the mechanics confusing. Remember how I said my son feels that you ought to be able to figure out what to do based on what you can observe?

Yeah, that works a lot of the time, but then there is Raigonn in the Gate of the Setting Sun.

For the record, so far I really like all the instances I’ve done. I like the pacing, the flair, the humor and the mechanics.

Can I just say though, that when you’re in a group that has, none of us, ever done Raigonn before, it was a confusing mess of chaos?

I had Deadly Boss Mods warning me to fire for the weak spot. I couldn’t find a weak spot to target specifically! Was I supposed to? In the heat of the moment, you can’t really flip over to Wowhead, y’on?

I was pounding away at the big bug for all I was worth, it’s health wasn’t going down. I saw that what looked like rocket launchers were sparkling at the sides of the big courtyard, so I ran over to one and used it, which showed me jumping in like I was about to be launched onto the bug’s back… only I fell through the launcher onto the floor. I didn’t get launched. I wasted a good 2 minutes of time trying to get the sparkly launchers to do something, with nothing apparently happening.

Next thing I know, he’s “fixating” on someone, and his health is going down when attacked, so I figure somehow we got onto a Flame Leviathan style phase, and began DPSing my little heart out, all the while trying to burn down adds and stay out of the bad.

I’m all for exciting mechanics, but honestly, I still have no clue exactly what I was supposed to do.

I know that many of you are very, very helpful types, but don’t worry about telling me what the mechanics are for my sake. I’m just gonna go look it up and research stuff myself anyway. If you’ve got your own tips on how to tank him, though, by all means share them! It looked like a huge pain for a tank new to that place having to figure out how to tank the big bug while also handling the adds.

I’m just making the example that, in these early days… there is perhaps more excitement to be found than we might expect once things become old hat? But we didn’t give up, or panic, we just tried like hell to work as a team, and while the Warlock died to save Elo (our healer), we all managed to win in the end without wiping. So, how bad could it have really been?

Certainly was very exciting. 🙂

How odd that it was the Warlock who sacrificed his life to save a Priest. Doesn’t that kind of thing get you kicked out of the big meanies green fire club?

As I’ve said before, there is far, far more available to do than I can do in a single day, even if I only played one character. That means that I have to absolutely have to get past the idea that I must do everything or even most things every day.

Thankfully, I’m a bit of an anti-establishment type, so doing the opposite of what I should comes easy to me. 🙂

Even though there are things of astounding benefit, like having a second farm, or grinding rep with all factions, or doing dailies to have an abundant supply of LesserCcharms to turn in. Those are all temptations, but they are not necessary to play the game.

All that is necessary is I filter out the grind, and only do the fun, and continue to do heroics for gear upgrades as part of the fun.

It was worrying me, being ready for raids, but then Tom, our guild leader and player in Team Wanda told me, so long as I just run some heroics to get geared, I’ll be just fine for us when we start raiding. No need to go insane getting all the VP gear.

I’m going to try to take that to heart, even if it does seem to go against all previous expectations.

If I get left behind, oh well.

Along with that, I really need to research more about everything that is out there so I can make the best use of my time in doing the fun stuff.

A shining golden example.

One thing in the back of my head was Stormstout Brewery. Specifically, pets.

I was queuing for random heroics, to get Valor and because I hadn’t seen any yet, so I had no preferences. But I knew that Stormstout Brewery held an achievement to get a cute pet. And it was an achievement you could do even after the instance was cleared and everyone else had gone home.

So, when I did get a Brewery instance, I bought 5 of the special Tea from Auntie Stormstout at the beginning, stuck them in my bags and then ran the instance with everyone in normal “tank has to go to the bathroom go go go” fashion. I didn’t hold anyone up, I did my best to kill lots of stuff. I balanced on the barrels and blew up the bozos. I admired dancing monkeys.

When the final boss was dead, and everyone else immediately dropped group, I stayed in. Then I drank my first 5 minute tea, and went hunting Golden Hoplings at a nice, leisurely pace. Cassie watched and saw just how easy it was to do, too, especially after I got the nameplates up and went back to find the few I missed the first time. I didn’t encounter any bugged Golden Hoplings under stairs as had been reported on Wowhead, I collected 30 Golden Hoplings, dinged the achievement and found I had mail waiting for me… with my new pet Hopling. 🙂

I’d done the Stormstout Brewery on normal with some guildies earlier in the week, but I hadn’t been reading up on the instances at that time. How simple it was to complete that achievement, once you knew it was there to be done.

And how cute the pet is, too.

Maybe my priorities are screwed up, but I am finding my motivation for doing things is more about having fun banging around and doing the cute stuff.

Once the new patch comes out, I can tell you for a hard, cold fact that while other people will be doing the new Alliance versus Horde war machine chain in Krasarang, I’ll be running with Cassie and Alex in Molten Core and other Vanilla raids, hunting those newly released raid pets.

Naxxramas will fall, and Mr. Bigglesworth WILL be free! Free to escape the cold, cruel embrace of Kel’thuzad, and free to no longer be killed by every moron that wants to piss off the cat lovers in a party. Free!

I guess freedom is also another word for a cat with no lives left to lose.

Color Me Unthrilled

My Hunter is now level 90, and I have a Dynamic Duo.

First thing Cassie asked me was if I am going to get started on my dailies.

Just thinking about it has me considering quitting the game.

No, really.

I play to have fun, you know? It’s been said before by many people concerning many aspects of this game over the years, but it’s true. I already HAVE a job.

When I play a game, what I like are intuitive mechanics. Things that make sense.

Factions and purchasing gear upgrades made sense to me in Cataclysm. Now? Not so much.

Look, Factions. I get Factions. Reputation with faction, of course. The more I do to develop our friendship, the more you come to know and trust me, let me inside your lives and your culture, and become willing to share your most special secrets and/or treasure with me.

I get that system.

You get a group or culture, put together a list of neat stuff they have, and they’ll only hand it out to their friends. The more they like you, the higher the quality or special nature of the things they’ll share.

No problem. It makes sense. My son can understand this concept just fine.

Now, it’s gone off the rails.

I’ve always seen Faction reputation gear as being similar to Boots of Elvenkind. 

Boots of Elvenkind were fancy magic boots that let you move silently, but only elves wore them because they were cultural. It wasn’t to the point of any Elf cutting down a human on sight if they found you wearing the boots, but it was close (depending on your D&D campaign world, of course).

It’s not that Boots of Elvenkind were all that powerful… but they were very desirable in other ways, because they were restricted in who could have them. To be a non-elf wearing them represented that you were a special little elf-friend, and they let you wear their fancy boots.

They didn’t give those out to just anybody, you were kind of a big deal. 

That’s how I’ve always looked at Faction gear. That having it represented you were kind of a big deal with those folks.

The conceit of the game is that we are each special heroes. Yes, all 8 million of us.

We’re supposed to pretend that there are not really 8 million other heroes in WoW. We are to quest and adventure as though each of us is special, and when we go forth to slay Deathwing or whatever, we acquire a supporting cast of lesser heroes to go on the raid with us.

Faction gear represents you becoming a special hero to that cause or Faction, building your reputation with them into a special relationship until you get into that ‘friend with benefits’ category, where nothing is too good for them to show their appreciation, up to and including gifting you with Boots of Elvenkind (or their comparable thingie).

Which is why I feel disgusted by the current iteration of Factions.

So, I get to grind rep (and as shitty as people are being to each other over Golden Lotus dailies, it is miserable grinding, no other word for it) and a large portion of my reward is the ability to… buy gear that I also have to grind Valor and Justice Points for?

Yes, there are other things you can get, mounts and stuff. Recipes. Some gear. The stuff that makes sense.

In my opinion, Valor and Justice rewards have no place whatsoever in a gated Faction shop list. It’s stupid. It doesn’t work well for playing flow, and it doesn’t make sense in terms of reputation with the group.

Factions worked fine before. The more they like me, the nicer the quality of the things they are willing to give me access to. At the Exalted level, they are willing to grant me access to cultural treasures, which is what epics were supposed to be.

Where does turning them into VP and JP vendors come into that? So, they’ve got all this uber epic gear, and you’re Exalted with them… but no, you can’t have it. Nyah nyah. We know we love you long time, and you’ve saved our yak very nicely, but we still want to see you hand over some Valor before you can have our special stuff.

Valor points and Justice points ARE ENOUGH OF A GATE ALREADY.

Just stupid. Offensively stupid.

I like that you can do daily quests and get Valor as an alternative means to raiding or running heroics, but there was no reason to take all the JP and VP gear and scatter it to the four winds. Hur hur.

Wrath had vendors all over the place, and I thought it was stupid then too. You shouldn’t need to use Google to figure out who has the damn VP gear.

Cataclysm got this right. One room, a couple vendors, one stop shop to spend your VP and JP, and turn in tokens for gear upgrades.

Reputation quartermasters should have only had special, cultural stuff that they hand over (for small, token amounts of lucre) once you’re that level of friend. Mounts, Tabards, Pets and some special recipes, special items.

My plans right now are to avoid all of them. Pretty much out of spite. I look at the system, the way it feels like a step backwards in punishing players, and I get a strong feeling of “fuck you, Blizzard”.

I don’t even want to run my second farm.

I was thinking of running Scenarios as well as Heroics to gear, have fun, etc. Latest thing I’m hearing is, you don’t get any gear from Scenarios. Maybe a random blue once in a blue moon, but nothing to ever count on.

I ran a scenario last night, it was great fun. I’ll do them anyway, I just won’t allocate as much time since I do need to get geared, too.

It would have been nice to do stuff in Scenario groups that was fun while also improving my gear for our raids, but I guess that would have been too much like giving us something for free. If you like it, it’s not work, right? And you gotta work, and suffer, and pay, pay out your ass, if you expect to get something in this game.

I guess. That’s how all of the little pieces feel like they’re fitting together in this expansion. Lots of awesome story elements, neat quests, beautiful zones, pet battles of yahooness, all this great stuff…

And then a faction, daily quest and gearing system designed by Torquemada.

You know what would improve my entire attitude about all of this?

If daily quest mobs were changed in the following way;

  1. They could not be skinned.
  2. They did not drop loot.
  3. Anyone who tags a mob gets kill credit for that mob, even if three hundred people all tag it in overlapping Consecrations before it dies.

Those quests are bullshit, mainly because of scarcity of mobs, slow respawn timers, five billion competitors, and the inevitable cocksuckers running in and pulling 10 mobs and slowly tanking them down while everyone else with a slow cast or melee range pull stands and watches because, you know, fuck them I hope they choke on the mobs.

From a designer point of view, why punish us? Just let the quest targets be shared kills by thirty people all blasting everything in sight, and let everyone who had a hand in dealing any damage at all get credit for ’em. Screw it. DOGPILE!!!

Some people are massive assholes, just accept it and plan accordingly. It will cut down on a lot of the frustration, I promise.

I know all I’m doing is griping, but yeah, that’s how I feel. Once I’ve dinged 90, I see all this time sink stuff, how it’s arranged, all the layers and levels and links, where they buried your upgrades, and I lose interest.

Screw it, Clone Wars Adventures looks pretty cool.