Settling Into a Cycle

Well, I never would have thought it, but I’m settling down into a very reliable cycle.

And I’m pretty happy about it, except of course, only so many WoW hours to go around.

Each week is getting to be a bit familiar. A pattern is forming. I have some priorities, and I follow them when I log in during the week.

Tuesday night, the instances reset. Time to begin queueing for Terrace of the Endless Spring!

Which I did, any time I thought I’d have two hours to be online. Yep, I want a shot at that damn gun. Obsessive? Me? NO! What could possibly have given you that idea?

It’s okay, though. This is a strictly limited obsession. I only get four shots at that gun each week, and once they’re gone, I be done til next Tuesday.

So, yeah, I might have stayed up late last night, but I managed to get in three Terrace runs since the server reset. That means four shots at loot rolls from Lei Shei, or whatever the hell her name is. That watery tart who doesn’t chuck a sword at you.

You did know that you can use Elder Charm bonus rolls on bosses that you’ve already killed in earlier runs, didn’t you? Yes, yes you can. And yes, you can win loot.

I have absolute proof. On my first run this week, I won loot from Lei Shei on the bonus roll, no loot from normal roll. Tier whatever the heck it is she drops. Last week, I won the Agility Trinket from her, but it’s not as good as the ones I have so it’s just in my bags.

My second run this week, used a bonus roll, no loot. Third run, used my last bonus roll, and WON… the Agility Trinket again. 🙂

So, I may not have won the Sha-Touched Weapon again, but I have absolute proof that you can use all your rolls on one particular boss, if you’re crazy enough to keep queueing up over and over again just to try.

Look, if Lei Shei didn’t have so many things useable by my class and spec, I’d probably have it already. I just have to fight double odds, first that I’d win something, and second WHICH item I would win.

Next week for sure. Bet on it.

Next priority, see if there is a Sha group forming, get that out of the way. No? Yes? Maybe later.

Okay, queued up for something, time to go do some dailies on one of the factions I don’t have at Exalted yet while I wait.

I truly admire the structure of the Operation: Shieldwall dailies. Different quest hubs randomized by day, and at certain points of reputation gain you get special story-driven quests to get extra (unplanned-for) reputation and also to drive the overall story forward.

If nothing else, I really hope they keep that concept alive going forward. Reputation grinds that have surprise new story-advancing content is what I want from now on. For me, I like having familiar dailies, but I also like having new story moving forward with them. 

Once the midweek rolls around, my thoughts turn to how I’m going to get Valor capped without too much time or grindiness.

It’s an interesting fact that you can queue for multiple types of random things now, without losing your spot in any of the queues, and while still accruing seniority.  Want some Valor for the night, but don’t like the long Heroic queue time sitting around as a DPS? Don’t want to HAVE to do dailies to pass the time in queue? Then queue for a random Heroic, and THEN queue for a random Scenario.

The Scenario will pop right away (usually), and all the time you are in there, you are building up time in the quue for the Heroic. When you leave the Scenario (and only after leaving the Scenario), you’ll be right back in line for the Heroic… and very likely at the head of the line!

I’m really starting to look towards how to get the most milk with the least amount of moo. Time is limited, and I’d like to do something other than run shit on my Hunter until I get capped Sunday or Monday, just in time for the server to reset the caps again.

I really want to regain the feeling that I can skip playing entirely for several days while still capping. WoW isn’t supposed to be a job where I have to punch my clock every single day or feel, subjectively, like I’m falling behind in my responsibilities.

Maybe Blizard is intending to structure things to reward those who log in every day. I’ve seen some blue moderator comments that do seem to indicate that they want to reward those that log in, well, every day. Consistently. For hours at a time.

/shiver

It doesn’t matter. If I’ve got stuff going on, well, tough. Guess I’ll just fall behind, and if I start feeling bad because I’m falling behind on game goals because of real life, there is a clear way to stop feeling bad about it… stop playing at all. I don’t need a video game to set goals for me that I will feel bad about not meeting.

So far, I have been hitting the Valor cap on my main each week… right at the end of my play time Sunday.

That means my Monday night gets to be my ‘do anything’ night without the feeling I really should be earning some Valor with something.

I’m going to have to do something to change that. I want more of my week free to play the PS3, or read a book, or watch TV or just laugh as Alex makes stuff out of legos.

A single LFR that is fresh nets 90 Valor. less than 1/10th the week of Valor. Considering how long a damn queue and run takes, I’d sure like to see it be a minimum of 1/7th the cap. I log in, queue, get my run done, I should feel like it’s cool if THAT IS IT for the night. Committment met, good to go, free to do something outside Azeroth.

If I do the Scenario/Heroic trick, it’s 120 Valor in a night. If I did a single daily hub for 25 Valor (5 quests/5 Valor each), plus one random Scenario and Heroic, then I’d be a sliver past 1/7th of the weekly cap each day. 

Mah point is, this is silly. The rewards for reaching the Valor cap are too damn good to just blow it off completely, but I feel silly juggling things around trying to get the most Valor out of the least game time, because geez, this is starting to be a lot of damn time in game.

Moderation in all things, even in Warcraft, remember?

Well, this week is gonna be all about moderation.

I did my time in the grind, I did Terrace three times this week, and if I don’t hit the Valor cap, whelp, too bad.

Tonight is the night my son will be performing in the school Christmas concert, both singing AND playing the saxophone in the band! I have the battery for the camcorder fully charged, and I can’t wait. it will be awesome.

After that, I expect to be reading him some more of Terry Pratchett’s “A Hat Full of Sky” to Alex. My son loves the Nac Mac Feegle, and I do all the voices. A good time will be had by all. Crivens!

I am thinking that, as much as I love the game, and as much fun as I’m having right now and have been for months… it feels like a bad sign that I’m trying to figure out how to get the Valor I want with the absolute minimum time in game. because no shit, I feel shackled to the keyboard right now, and that’s gonna get old real quick.

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The Point Hoarders Dilemma

Are you a point hoarder, or do you know someone who is?

Maybe you don’t know what a point hoarder is.

Here are a few simple questions to help narrow it down.

Do you know someone who has a habit of holding on to Valor or Justice Points without using them, until they hit the cap and are forced to make a decision?

Maybe even then, they’ll sit and stare at the choices, and despair for they cannot commit to spending those points for fear of not getting the most out of them.

Whatever they choose, they are afraid it won’t be the optimal use of their points… and so, they make no decision at all. They never spend them, until they hit the hard cap and have no choice.

Do you know someone that is one of the most extreme cases, at the cap and beyond, still running content but no longer getting new points because they just can’t decide on what to spend them on?

I feel your pain.

Point Hoarding is a very real thing, and it’s not a joke.

Well, okay. It IS kinda funny, because, you know… video game problems. Not exactly in the same class as “I can’t make the mortgage payment this month”, now is it?

Still, it’s a very serious problem within the context of the game.

You play for a solid week, doing daily quests, running LFR, doing Heroics and Scenarios. You bust your butt to hit that 1000 Valor Point weekly cap, so the pressure to get the most bang for your Valor Point (or Justice Point) buck is immense.

Granted you had fun earning those points, or you should have, but you can only ever get 1000 points that week. If you blow them, you’ll never get them back.

What to spend them on that will benefit you the most?

I know a Point Hoarder, someone very close and dear to me. I know exactly how it works, and the pain it can cause, especially if the person doesn’t play enough to normally max Valor out.

If it took three weeks to reach 1750 Valor Points, or even longer, the worry over spending them on the wrong thing can be a nightmare. Much easier to avoid the worry by pushing it off as long as possible. Those points are precious, my precious.

But what to do?

Let’s just look at upgrades, at improving the power of your character at max level.

Justice Points can buy you iLevel 458 blues, or you can upgrade an existing blue (rare) item by 8 item levels. Personally, I would only ever consider upgrading an iLevel 463 drop with Justice Points, and even then one that was proving insanely hard to replace. Or maybe one whose stats are better than their iLevel would suggest, like the ilevel 458 Alchemist Trinket.

Valor Points can be used to buy iLevel 489 epics from your various factions, and with the new factions that can even get up to ilevel 496. Or you can upgrade one of those, OR an LFR drop by 4 iLevels a pop.

So many choices, and so expensive!

Choice is the enemy of the Point Hoarder.

But when you get close to the cap, you have no choice. It’s either spend the points, or reach the cap and accrue no more.

Go forth and accrue no more? NEVER!!! I must consume mass quantities!

That was exactly the choice I faced last week. There were three iLevel 496 items from Operation: Shieldwall I wanted, each costing 1750 Valor. BUT… I wasn’t going to hit Revered with them until Thursday night, and I was going to hit the Valor cap on Tuesday.

I had to spend some to make room for more Valor. Had to. BUT… I didn’t want to buy an expensive item that wasn’t as big a boost from some other faction.

The best choice was to spend just a little Valor, just a smidgeon. And that meant picking something to upgrade.

So I did. I picked something, and then I upgraded it.

After I was done with that, what do you think I realized?

I SPENT MY VALOR UPGRADING THE WRONG DAMN THING!!!! ARRGGGHHHHH!!!!!

Oh no, I ain’t kidding. Hell no.

It was completely preventable too.

See, I looked at my gear, and had to decide which item to upgrade. Which one would I be most likely to keep for a long time? I don’t want to upgrade something and have it be replaced next week, thats the same as blowing my Valor on cheap wine and loose women.

Not that blowing your earnings on cheap wine and loose women can’t be a valorous endeavor, but that ain’t the topic for today.

I tried to pick from those items I was likely to hold on to for a while, and decide which one would give me the biggest boost from upgrading.

I looked at my gear, and I thought that my iLevel 489 shoulders from the Golden Lotus faction were the ones most likely to be kept. I don’t have a single piece of Tier gear yet (thank you, Sha of Anger and LFR!) so even if I get a piece or two, the 489 shoulders I’ve got would be better.

So I upgraded them one level.

I am not a Point Hoarder, I just know how it feels to look at the points I have, the choices open to me, and fear I’m about to make the wrong decision.

I make the decision anyway, I just accept that there are consequences if I chose… poorly.

Then, yep, I find out I made a decision that was NOT OPTIMAL, and feel like an idiot.

The key difference here is, I may not have made the best decision, but I did still make a decision, bought an upgrade of some sort, and have enjoyed improved performance from that point.

Just, you know… not the optimal performance I could have had. DAMNIT.

In my case, if I had really studied before rushing to spend Valor, I would have seen there was something else worth upgrading first.

In Patch 5.1, Blizzard implemented the item upgrade system, but currently there is no way to load your character directly from the Armory and tell if a piece of gear is already upgraded or not.

Ask Mr Robot has worked around this by upgrading their system so that you can load your character from the Armory, select an item, and manually upgrade it and save the results.

This lets you manually modify your equipment to its real values in-game, and then run their optimizer… and also see how your upgraded items rank in the “Best in Slot” lists.

What I failed to do was take a long, hard look at Ask Mr Robot, compare point improvement scores, and see that my lowly iLevel 476 trinket, the Relic of Xuen, is actually the best trinket I as a BM Hunter can get in the game short of Heroic modes.

For me, right now and for the foreseeable future, there is no more effective trinket than the Relic of Xuen. And even worse… the upgrades would just make it awesomer. Awesomest? More awesome. It would be damn good, is what I’m saying.

Ask Mr Robot is great, I am truly grateful for how it helps me plan improvements. But it’s not idiot proof… as I have hereby proved.

With these pitfalls, and my proven track record of spending my Valor Points unwisely, how do I convince that Point Hoarding loved one to let go of the points and spend them with confidence?

The answer is WoWUpgrade!

WoWUpgrade is my new best friend.

At WoWUpgrade, you enter your character and server, it pulls your details from the Armory, and then it shows you a list of your gear, ranked by your currently chosen spec and gear, with the items that would MOST benefit from being upgraded up at the top… and shows you HOW MUCH those items would be improved from upgrading by a comparative point score.

Yes, you can get to the same results within Ask Mr Robot, right down to comparative point scores, but this website takes all your gear and shows you the best point improvements right at the top.

Idiot proof.

It does not show you currently upgraded gear, because the Armory API can’t discern that yet.

So, WoWUpgrade has the horrible power of ranking what you SHOULD have upgraded first, and then you get to see where your actual upgrades ranked in the list.

Take, for example, my raiding character and main, my Beastmaster Hunter Beartrap on Azuremyst-US.

If you were to call that up, you’ll see that my most effective upgrade would be my Tempestuous Longbow with Justice Points, followed by the Alchemist Trinket with Justice Points, and then of course the Relic of Xuen. Right there. Obvious, right in my face.

Those shoulders I upgraded? The Windwalker Spaulders are freaking eighth.

Brilliant. /cry

On the positive side, I did upgrade my Tempestuous Longbow and Alchemist Trinket weeks ago, so there’s that. I’m not a full-on huntard.

What this added website tool does is give you a much clearer view of which upgrades are of the most value to you.

If you start at WoWUpgrade to see what your best performance enhancing upgrades are, and then go to Ask Mr Robot and use their ‘upgrade an item’ feature to see where that upgraded item falls among your best in slot list, you can see if upgrading an item makes it more valuable than other potential items you might have been thinking of buying. Or have a reasonable expectation of seeing drop.

It can help give you confidence in your decision… and maybe, just maybe, a Point Hoarder can finally pull the trigger and BUY SOMETHING.

I know buyers remorse can be painful, but geez, there is a cap, after all. Use ’em or lose ’em!

*The Point Hoarders mentioned in this post bear no resemblance to any person I know, living or dead, who may make me sleep on the coach when they read this. Love you, dear!

Stay Tuned, We’ll Be Back Soon!

A few different things.

First, and most important. The blog is hosted on GoDaddy, and it’s been unstable a lot lately. It’s been fine for years, but all of a sudden the thing is acting like a yoyo, and of course GoDaddy says the solution is for us to change servers, upgrade to different technology and blah de blah blah.

Cassie has done all the work researching what GoDaddy is asking us to do (and their how to manuals? Not only not helpful, but actively wrong in places.) and she is going to begin the process, like, now. GoDaddy says the blog may be down for up to 72 hours while it’s happening, so if we go dark, don’t worry. We’ll be back.

Maybe.

Because I know all websites are shut down for two or three days when things are updated or upgraded, amiright?

Anyway, there is that.

Second, don’t forget that we are doing the finishing run in Ulduar 25 this Sunday night. We only have the last two fights of achieves left for the mounts, so don’t forget, please. I DID push the Raid ID, so we’re all set.

If the last two bosses die fairly quickly, I’m thinking it might be fun to clear the TOC raid as well, just because, well, a lot of people hated that place, and it might be fun to get revenge.

Third, I know a lot of people are loving the new Grand Commendations that give you faction rep boosts of 100% for everyone on your account.

Ghostcrawler is saying they are considering doing this for old pre-Pandaria factions too, AND right now it applies to reputation from quests.

So, for example, if you did Shado-Pan and got your Grand Commendation on your main, your alt will get way past Honored just by questing in Townlong Steppes. This is a good thing.

Finally, you all have a great weekend. Okay? I will be wishing for good health and happy loots for all of you!

Some Folks You Just Can’t Reach

This is something I’ve thought about a lot over the years. It’s a topic that I’ve never seen anyone really address, and my instincts say most folks choose to avoid it with a ten foot pole.

I’ve mentioned ‘ten percenters’ before, but I’ve never really come right out and talked about it.

There are folks in this world that aren’t as fast on the uptake as other people, or who make choices and decisions that seem odd.

Call them (or me) stupid, or whatever, or say we’re all challenged in different ways, I don’t care what labels you put on it.

Some folks do not learn, process information, react to changing circumstances, improvise, adapt or overcome sudden obstacles at the same rate of speed as other people.

Physical? Mental? Lack of caring, lack of focus, cat ran across the keyboard every pull, degenerative nerve disorder, stupid as a suit made out of tacks in an inflatable inner tube factory? 

Not my concern.

I’m concerned with results.

I am on one side of a keyboard, staring at a monitor screen. I do not have any idea what is going on behind the screen of anyone else’s monitor.

For all I know, your character is being controlled by two cats, one moving the mouse and the other controlling the keyboard, working together to farm goods to sell on ebay to afford iPad butt warmers and chicken livers.

No clue.

What I see is what the other characters do in game, and what people type in chat. And, occasionally, what people say in vent.

Sometimes in random groups or in LFR raids, I see people do stuff, and I think, “What a stupid son of a bitch.”

I have no way of knowing what is really going on with that person. I don’t.

Half the raid is dead, and someone runs forward and pushes the big red button to start the next boss fight, initiating a wipe.

Intentional troll? Ignorant player? Stupid son of a bitch?

No clue.

In the Marines, I had a Sergeant who used to say, often, that being stupid wasn’t something to be ashamed of. If you were born stupid, there isn’t a damn thing you can about that. Algernon had a special treatment, but we don’t. And if we did, much like for Algernon, I doubt me it would last.

But if you’re ignorant… well, he had some seriously direct things to say about ignorant people. Ignorance can be corrected by education, by effort, by study and practice. If you’re ignorant, there are definite things to can do to correct the situation. The sin is in refusing to do something about it.

So, do you blame someone else for being slower than others, if they’re trying like hell but just aren’t getting it?

Well, do you really know they are trying? As I said, how do you really know what is going on behind the other keyboard?

If you don’t know… if someone keeps doing things that screw up the group, make mistakes, react in the wrong way, move too soon or too late, make the wrong decisions, you have to start wondering.

Is it a troll? Is it someone who doesn’t know what to do, and could have gone and watched videos and read strats, but didn’t? or is it really someone trying like hell but who can’t quite get it?

If you just don’t know, hopw do you handle it?

This really is something that is important to me, because I feel stupid. A LOT.

I have days where I just feel like an idiot. Things don’t click. I feel like I’ve got all the pieces right there in front of me, but I’m not putting them together right.

Someone will say something, others will laugh, and I’m wondering what I missed, what connection didn’t happen in my brain. Was it a pop culture reference I didn’t get because I don’t watch that show? Was it a play on words that I wasn’t smart enough to tie together?

Other days, I’ll feel pretty sharp. Those days are a mixed blessing, because I love them so much at the time but I know I won’t feel that way for long.

Like I said, I think about this stuff a lot.

I feel like an idiot a lot, and I’m not immune to peer pressure. When I spend time playing with other people, I don’t want to be the one making mistakes.

I don’t want to be the one person in a ten person group making mistakes or doing the wrong thing. Whether anyone says anything or not, I’ll be the one thinking, “Everyone else moved out of the Cobalt Mine before it went live, why the FUCK can’t I move out of the way fast enough? Everyone else is able to do this, so what is wrong with me?”

Or with the Stone Guard, and Jaspar Chains. I don’t want to be the one where, oh look, Jaspar Chains on me, and I didn’t even notice that I’m killing a melee player because I’m so focused in on pew pew pew that I’m oblivious to everything else.

“Oh shit, run in! Whoops, sorry, too late, I wish you hadn’t died like that just because I was too slow to react.”

Here’s the thing. Mistakes happen, yes I know, especially when what you’re doing is coming at you live and fresh like on the first few hours of a new boss.

But what do you do when the whole group tackles a challenge together, and there is confusion the first few times… but some of the group starts to get it, and others just don’t?

What do you do when you’ve got someone in your group that is not coming along as fast as everyone else. Someone who just does not get it, hasn’t had the encounter ‘click’, hasn’t gotten that flash of insight that suddenly brings everything into focus.

I just don’t see this question answered out there in the community, I don’t see it addressed.

If you’re in a raid group, what do you do when someone doesn’t get it, and the ones who do and think they should be able to kill it and move on get frustrated?

Worse yet… what do you do when you’ve got a raid member that isn’t consistently bad at just one thing, but seems to screw up all the time in all sorts of different ways?

And the capper – what if the person is in your guild, and is a good friend (or family member) of yours?

I have had days where I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, and the simple fact is, I could not get it done.

I mentioned Jaspar Chains earlier. Let me go into Stone Guard in more detail.

I had a raid pull a few weeks ago where it seemed like I did something wrong every single time I took a step. not per wipe, per step.

I knew what I was supposed to do, but I could not actually DO it right.

I have chosen Talents so that my Deterrence is on the shortest cooldown possible, and I take the least amount of damage possible when it’s up.

I did it specifically to be of more use on the Stone Guard for the Cobalt Mines. When you pop Deterrance this way, you can run over and trip Cobalt Mines when it’s not the Cobalt petrify phase, and you take seriously reduced damage AND you don’t get frozen in place.

The idea here is obviously to pull minesweeper duty on the Cobalt Mines whenever you need to, not just during Cobalt petrify, freeing up the work space if you have to deal with the Amethyst Pools as well.

Now, that’s nice. I did that on my own, practicing in LFR, worked nice. But Deterrence is only up for 4 seconds. I figured it would work best if our Healing priest Disco were to spec into the Talent that increases run speed when bubbled.

So the idea was, I would announce that I was popping Deterrence in two secs, get a bubble from Disco, and run faster, letting me cover more ground and pop more Cobalt Mines in a tight span of time.

Disco was gracious enough to change Talents just so I could do that.

So I ask you, how many times do you think I remembered to give her a two second warning in vent before popping Deterrence?

If you were to say “only once in a four hour span of wipes”, that would be pretty damn accurate.

I just couldn’t seem to move in on Jaspar Chains, pew pew the correct dog (the one in a group of two, NOT the solo one), avoid the purple puddles, pop Cobalt Mines, break things when the correct petrify was up, AND remember to give Disco a two second warning.

If I remembered to give the warning, I popped Deterrence and cleared Cobalt Mines that weren’t actually in the way. Or I stood in Amethyst for 5 seconds before going, “huh, dying, wtf” rather than getting the heck out of the way.

I tried my best, but I just kept making all sorts of stupid mistakes. The kinds of mistakes that are scattered around, and make it hard to point to one thing and say, ‘I need to do that better.”

Instead, it was the kind of pull where I had to point at myself and say, “You need to take a deep breath, and chill. Because that crap ain’t funny. Pull it together.”

You know what I mean? Just an entire pull where I was a day late and a dollar short.

Now, I’ve gotten a lot better since then. I’ve seen the fight often enough now that I can move properly for some things without having to focus extra hard on it. That frees up some of my attention to more judgment-oriented tasks.

But what if I didn’t get better? What if I came back, week after week, and I just kept being a spaz with no improvement?

I mean a spaz like “We are not progressing past this point because out of ten of us, this one person keeps doing stupid shit every damn week, and I’m sick of wiping for two hours.”

I see people talk about practicing, and working with players by going over recount, or World of Logs, or reforging, or rotation help, etc.

What do you do when you can ‘coach’ until you’re blue in the face, but they ain’t getting it?

More to the point… what do you do if the person is a friend, like in a friends and family guild raid team, and you can’t just say, “Sorry Raider X, you’re not getting it, so we’re benching you for someone that can.”

Does someone really have a good answer for this?

It’s one thing for me to look at a complete stranger in LFR doing something, and think (NOT SAY), “What a stupid son of a bitch.”

That is a private judgmental thought that hurts nobody but me and vents a little steam, because the person has no idea what I’m thinking, and they will never see me again. And again… it’s an unfair judgment because how the hell do I know what was happening on the other side of their monitor?

But it’s something else entirely when the person knows you, you know the person, you want to do this thing together as part of a team and to build shared experiences and have fun together… and now friendship, ego and pride are all tied into something like raiding progression pressure while one of you is doing stupid shit.

What do you do? Do you put progression before friendship, and tell them they aren’t welcome just so you can get a win?

Or do you put friendship first and stick it out together, even if that means wiping for three weeks straight without a single boss kill, holding your group together against the frustration because yo’re gonna get it together, or you’re not gonna get it at all?

I wonder about this a lot. Like I said, I have days I wonder why the hell I pretend I can raid.

I have days where I strive for brilliance and have to settle for competence… and wonder if I’m fooling myself.

I wish I could say that everyone would of course put friendship and family first, that what is truly important is the bond we have with the person behind the keyboard, that is the only thing that is real in a digital world.

But I see LFR, and I see the intentional trolls, and  wonder what guild they are in? Who chooses to have them as members?

I see people who don’t give a shit, and afk follow through LFR, and bump into walls because they can’t even be bothered to pay enough attention to walk straight. People who click the ready checks, and then stand there immobile through the entire fight, not even auto-attacking, as if to show they are too good to lower themselves to play in LFR with the likes of me.

Where are they guilded? Do they raid? Do they show that level of don’t give a shit with their friends?

And I think about how damn hard those of us who do feel like idiots try to learn and do better, so we don’t drag the group down with us… and I wonder how many people I play with wish they were on a team with someone who didn’t fail quite so bad.

There are stupid people in the world, and I often suspect I’m one of ’em. And we’re in your game, standing in poo.

What do you do?

So Much To Raid, So Little Time

Let’s talk about raiding, and the news coming from all of the Developer interviews.

The feel is, Blizzard is committed to trying to release new content patches every two months or so, and some kind of new raid every four months.

This is coupled with the idea that, rather than nerfing existing raids over time to make them more accessible, they will leave them as is (aside from possible bug fixes).

So, for example, we could see the expansion hit as it did, then 5.1 come along two months later giving us new tons of new non-raid content, and then four months after that the first new big raid. And we’ll ahve two months to say, “Oh nice, a raid” before more non-raid content.

A new raid in four months that has had the mighty word “Ulduar” invoked when describing it.

What does that mean?

I just had the pleasure of running in Ulduar 25 on Sunday night (dear lord, I love seeing Ulduar), so the experience is fresh in my mind.

We have no specifics on what ‘Ulduar’ means in regards to the new raid, but it could mean a massive location with both indoor and outdoor areas, or it could mean 10 to 12 bosses (or more) in different wings to spread things out and vary the feel, it could mean new hard modes… it could even mean that epic scope of architecture and setting.

Or, it could mean the assault on Orgrimmar. Who the heck knows. I’m still thinking way too soon for that. We have a lot more story buildup before that happens. Maybe even another year of buildup. Or more!

But in about three, three and a half months we should get the new raid, whatever it is, and then two months after that, more non-raid stuffs.

That seems like ideal pacing to me.

It’s not enough time for most raiding guilds to get everyone everything they could use for upgrades from the existing bosses, RNG will see to that. But for those folks that may be stuck on earlier content, new raids bring new LFR, new opportunities at more powerful upgrades, and that gives you a built-in buff to clear the content you’re stuck on.

How cool is that? If they can keep that kind of pace up, we will always be looking toward the future, and if we do get down time, quiet time where we’re ahead… then we can run the older raids that we’ve moved past to try for those items that we really wish we’d won.

The lesson we need to remember here is, old raids are NOT dead content. Old raids represent fun opportunities to run with friends when we overgear the shit out of them for transmog stuff. And they are palces new pets and mounts can be added later!

Another point to ponder… at what point does a raid move from ‘current content’ to ‘old content’? When a new full paid expansion is released, or when a new tier of raids comes out in a content patch?

If it’s a content patch, then the new ‘current content’ raids can remain locked to single-realm raiding, while the older ones are broken free to cross-realm teams.

I’m really excited about all of this. Can you tell?

See, I’m in a raid situation where we are still on the first raid instance of the three that are out, but I still think this rocks.

When it comes to raiding, my personal sitaution has had a major upheaval in the last few weeks.

I really tried to maintain the Saturday afternoon raiding, but I couldn’t do it.

What it came down to was, I just can’t lock out a four hour chunk of time on Saturday afternoon every week for the raid. Once in a while was fine, but when you start talking a regular, weekly commitment, that changes everything.

The weekend is really the only time we have to do crazy family stuff… like driving to Duluth to see the aquarium, or hit Chicago, or whatever. Or to do home work, like paint rooms or install appliances to make repairs. Ah, the joys of home ownership.

I live in Minnesota. You’d be surprised how often the snow boss comes out to play. Funny story there, but maybe another time.

Anyway, I just couldn’t maintain Saturday raiding. I had to leave Team Snuffy, with a HUGE amount of sadness. We were really kicking ass, coming together as a team, and while it’s nice to leave on a high note with the first two bosses down in Vaults, it’s still a bummer.

With every door that closes, though, there is one that might be opening if you look for it, and Askevar and Venoym, who recently joined the guild, have started putting together an ‘alt night’ guild raid group on Thursdays.

In other news, Askevar will be on the Follow the Leader podcast in the next show, so make sure to follow them and check it out!

So, with them putting a once-a-week raid up on Thursday nights, late enough that my son is in bed for most of it, this is something I can do if they’ll have me. I know I’m a lot happier with it. 🙂

The new raid team on Thursdays has a name… I wish I could say I thought of it, but I didn’t. All I did was embrace it, and hold it close to my heart in happiness.

Askevar and Venoyms raid team on Thursdays is called… wait for it…  Team Dippy.

If you’ve ever fought in the Brawler’s Guild, you know what that means.

Yep! We’re sloppy, clumsy, flail around and look ridiculous… but we’re cute and oh so FLUFFY, and if you give us a chance we’ll kill your ass in a heartbeat, sucka.

What a great name.

If anyone has a nice close-up picture of Dippy, btw, please email it to me. I’ll put it on Team Dippy posts. 🙂

So far, I’ve only gone on two runs with Team Dippy, but it’s been very fun.

The first week, we beat our heads against the first boss in Heart of Fear, and that was great. Yes, we failed to down the boss, but we learned the pacing of the fight pretty well. It’s all about the dance of Attenuation, and I love dance fights. I LOVE dance fights.

I can say that because I don’t have soul-crushing lag. If I did, I would scream in frustration and tear my hair out in clumps. But I don’t, so yay dance fights!

As I say, we didn’t actually kill the boss, but we got him below 15% a few times, and everyone was coming along tight by the end of the night. I’m pretty sure we have that one in the bag, just dangling there waiting for us to pluck it and taste of the… okay, that went to a weird place.

The second week, last week, was Mogu’shan Vaults. I knew the first two fights, and had seen the third once, but when studying the fights I did not take into account the skill level of the tanks and healers.

We destroyed the first three fights, just crushed them. I have to admit I had not watched the Fatboss videos or read the strategies of anything past the third boss, since you know, we only raid for two hours once a week.

Suddenly, I found myself facing the Spirit Kings, armed with nothing but some quick advice from my friends list, and what I had learned by listening to Koltrane, Zhug and Solarflair on the Convert To Raid podcast

Fortunately, JUST that previous week Convert To Raid had gone into great detail on the Spirit Kings fight on Episode 73, so I found myself knowing what the heck to do, and holy crap we killed them!

Team Dippy, rocking the 4/6. It feels good.

Circling back to the point… there are three raids available right now, Mogu’shan Vaults, Heart of Fear, and Terrace of the Endless Spring. And all of them have heroic modes.

The raid group I’m playing with is 4/6 normal in the first raid, with two more raids sitting there untouched, and we have the prospect of another brand new huge raid coming out in maybe three to four months.

Yes, other folks are raiding strong, doing heroic modes, so you’d think there would be panic and disappointment at how far behind the curve we are, right?

Wrong.

Will we be done with the first three raids when number four comes out? Hell no. I don’t care how good Askevar and Venoym are, we have about sixteen raid nights before the new raids are expected to come out.

When it does come out, though, we’ll have had fun, killed more bosses, improved our teamwork and our gear, and learned to do the dance.

When the new raids DO come out, we’ll suddenly have new LFR, new gear opportunities, and that should help us speed up our progress through wherever we’re at.

What I’m saying is, as a player that will be ‘far behind’ in raid progression when new raids are being released, I don’t see needing a nerf to existing content, not when we’ll have LFR to help give us a boost. And we’ll have more incentive to improve, destroy existing bosses, and move higher up the progression to maybe leave MSV behind and focus on Heart of Fear and Terrace.

It’s exciting times… but everything depends on Blizzard following through on this time commitment. If they can do it, then they could be looking at a brand new energy for players in the long term.

If players who left keep hearing how there is new stuff, and more new stuff, and even more new stuff, and LFR to bring them back and get them begun gearing regardless of reputations, then I can see them coming back in droves.

If Blizzard can’t keep it up… well, buzz doesn’t last when the bees get bored.

Can We Foretell the Fate of Garrosh?

I’ve just been musing on the raids we’ve had so far, and some of the spoilers we had from the last Blizzcon.

We were told that the final raid boss of the Mists of Pandaria theme will be Garrosh.

Perhaps ‘final raid boss’ is too strong a term. Towards the end of this expansion, we will be going in to take Garrosh down, irrespective of faction.

We saw his willingness to use weapons of mana destruction against Theramore, the worrisome rise of high-placed assistants that come from the old Blackrock Orc clans, splintering within the Horde factions and covert assaults murdering those that dare to show their uneasiness or dissent.

What I’m wondering is, what would bring things to the point that a raid of destruction would be required to unseat Garrosh.

Yes, he is currently the Warchief of the Horde, but that doesn’t make him supreme dictator and overlord of all the peoples that make up the Horde.

The Horde is an alliance of disparate cultures, bound together for survival and mutual benefit. At a certain point, if the leaders of races other than the Orcs were to band together in opposition, what exactly will the Orcs do? Are the Orcs truly felt to be as powerful alone as all of the other Horde races put together?

Maybe so, but if things truly got to the point where Garrosh simply must go, and a coalition of the other Horde races allied with Thrall or other neutral factions confronted him, there need not necessarily be all out war.

Except for one worrisome thing. Garrosh has brought the Warlocks together into a solid force of destruction, used so far against the Alliance very effectively.

Are we seeing the seeds of what we’re going to face?

We know what happens when powerful emotions, especially negative emotions, are allowed to run unchecked in Pandaria. To give in to powerful negative emotions is to open your own heart to infestion by the Sha.

If you give in to your rage, your anger, your fear, you can become infested with and overcome by the Sha.

What are the Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring raids showing us? That a powerful Sha being can infest and control another soul against their will, even beings that are truly good, and direct them against us.

We have seen, especially in Terrace of Endless Spring, that the beings so controlled by Sha may by their nature try to fight the control, and not want to do what they are doing, but the greater Sha are so powerful that it takes an outside force to break the control and purge the being of the influence of the Sha.

We also know one other thing.

We know that a long, and fairly deep quest chain for the Warlock class, going into and through the Black Temple, will play a part in this expansion. And who is noted for the sudden use of Warlocks and the Dark Arts in war?

Right.

So, are we seeing what will come?

Will the current war between Alliance and Horde in Krasarang result in Garrosh coming to the shores of Pandaria, bringing the organized use of Warlcoks with him, and will his incredibly powerful negative emotions lead him to become infested by, and merged with, one of the Greater Sha?

Garrosh merged with a Greater Sha, supported by Sha-infested Warlocks with ties to the Black Temple, with a previously unknown surviving black dragon, Malkorok, posing as an Orc from the Blackrock Orc clans and manipulating events from within just as ‘Lady Prestor’ once did?

Is this what will tie Wrathion and his Legendary quest chain into the picture? Will Malkorok turn out to be pulling a Lady Prestor, and if so, will he be an assistant TO Garrosh, or is he the true ‘big bad’, a black dragon infested with Sha energy? Or are evil infested black dragons in an expansion something someone will be looking at and saying, “Dude, too soon.”

What happens if a Greater Sha infests and overcomes Garrosh… and is carried outside the bounds of Pandaria to the shores of Kalimdor, where the Pandarians are but lately come?

Would the Greater Sha slowly infest and consume all those around him, and cause Ogrimmar to become a dark place, filled with beings tainted by the Sha exactly as the Terrace of Endless Spring once was?

Will we see the last raid be an assault on a Sha-infested Orgrimmar, defended by those who were once friends, allies and even family to the rest of the Horde, and now standing in the way, protecting Garrosh and the Greater Sha within him?

Will we see major boss encounters of a Sha-infested Warlock Council, perhaps Malkorok the Sha-touched Dragon, and culminating in the attempt to break the bonds between Garrosh and the Greater Sha that infests him, freeing Orgrimmar from the evil influence?

Will we have to work with powerful, balanced Pandarians that can bring a calm, peaceful influence over those touched by the Sha and even purge them, in an attempt to free the Horde ‘trash encounters’ rather than just kill them all?

I’m just spinning ideas here, but it all seems plausible, and you know, I’m a geek. Speculating about this stuff is fun all by itself.

I can see an expedition making its way to Orgrimmar, having to fight their way into the city, trying to pin down the citizens and purge them of the Sha, destroying demons unleashed by the Warlocks, struggling against Demonic Beings that are infused and suborned themselves by the Sha…

I mean, you can see that coming, right? It’s not just me? Demons merged with Sha?

I mean, you know that’s eventually got to be a thing.

One last thing. I like the feeling of synchronicity and growth involved in having an almost-mirror of Stratholme… but instead of giving in to expedience and killing everyone infected, this time a group bands together to risk all to actually SAVE those who were infected, even though it is far harder, and the risk is even greater? 

How about you? Does it seem too obvious, or in keeping with what’s happened so far, or do you see other clues telling us we’re in for something completely different?

What do you think we’re leading up to?

Can You Handle The Heat?

This was another idea that was inspired by a Twitter conversation.

I was chatting with @chicknlil, @tedthethird, @anafielle and @tishtoshtesh, when I was hit by another vision. A bold vision.

If you don’t know who those tags represent… you should!

The vision didn’t need to be nurtured, developed or refined. I saw it, all at once, exactly how I knew it must be, and resolved at once to make that vision a reality.

You know…. if Tesh went along with it. 🙂

HE DID!!!

I proudly present to you something I am truly proud of. It works on so many levels. It’s artsy, cause it’s got subtext!

Behold…

THE BUMPER STICKER OF EPIC AWESOME!!!

Okay, so it’s just a bumper sticker.

That is exactly how I imagined it. In every possible details… except, you know, I love what Tesh did with the rocks. That might have been a bit better than I imagined. Especially the way the sizes of the rocks imply that you’d be welcome to walk up, plop your butt down on one of the small flat wide ones and warm yourself.

Alex just walked up behind me, saw the picture, and announced “That basic campfire is so cute!”

See, our candidate is more photogenic, too!

LOL. OMG Alex just went off on Garrosh. “Even a slug would make a better Warchief. Thrall had everything working perfectly, and Garrosh had to come along and ruin the entire setup.”

That was a direct quote.