Winner of the “Best Idea I Heard Today” Award

I just got an email from someone wanting me to check a website out.

I get those a lot, people wanting me to let them post content on my blog, post ads, and of course I get spam on the blog.

Ah, spam. Thousands of spam. A day. If we didn’t have a filter, we wouldn’t have comments, I shit you not.

This email was different.

It was successful because he cleared the table and dropped his pitch right there in front of me.

This is what I got, and this is what it does. Check it out.

He gave me his website purpose in one simple sentence, and holy shit, are you for real?

RepCheck auto-magically™ summarizes all the faction items your character has the reputation to purchase.

Wait, what?

Imagine the tears of joy when you discover the mounts and other cool stuff you didn’t know you could purchase!

That’s a BOLD statement. I have a lot of reputations on Bigbearbutt, hard earned and full of tasty items. Surprise me.

I checked it out. It’s true.

You put in your server and name, RepCheck checks your character reputation levels from Vanilla all the way to right now in patch 5.2 up to date, and it will show you every single item in the game your reputation would let you buy.

Better yet, if you play with the filters it’ll show you everything you COULD buy, everything any other profession could buy, all the stuffs for all the expansions.

Holy crap.

There are a lot of expansion out over the last whatever it is, decade, I dunno how long, and I’ve forgotten more than I remember, ye ken.

I had, for example, forgotten there was a vendor for Hydraxian Waterlords. Just as one example.

Or that there were so many Blacksmithing recipes scattered around the factions.

Yeah.

I can see myself using Rep Check a lot, and having it drive my next rep grind. I can see logging onto my Blacksmith and checking to see who has what, and where I can go to get ’em all… and in one easy place so I can be lazy and let the website do the research for me.

Well done, Namzad. Well done.

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Buddy Can You Spare The Time?

Kasmina asked a question in the comments last night;

“I am wondering how long it takes you and your wife to do the daily quests on Isle Of Thunder (along with killing a few rares along the way)? I am trying to figure out if I have enough free time to enjoy playing wow again. I have tried to find other games that didn’t feel so time consuming to accomplish improvements or a feeling of success. I am wondering if the new daily quests are time consuming like the previous daily rep quests were.”

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but in my opinion if you don’t have much time to play every day, and if you don’t like the feeling of falling behind, then this is not going to be the time to come back to World of Warcraft.

You specifically asked about daily quests, but it’s all part of the same thing.

The current patch brought two factions, one that you gain rep with from daily quests (or paper chits of awesomeness you can loot, or by championing them while doing scenarios and dungeons, or by working on your farm doing commisssions, etc) and another faction you can ONLY gain rep with by killing bosses (and until Friendly, trash) in the new Throne of Thunder raid (all versions).

It’s not hard to get to exalted with the questing faction. It’s really not. But you will not be able to advance in the new raid faction unless you actually run the raid, all wings, every week it’s out consistently. And ALL the iLvl 522 Valor gear comes from the raiding faction.

Once you’re Exalted with the questing faction, and most of the consistent players in my guild are Exalted already, you don’t have to ever go back to the Isle of Thunder as far as I can see. You can do whatever you’d like.

They’ve even made it easier for players to decide to cut out early if they want. If you remember Golden Lotus dailies, at the end of the chain they gave you a loot bag. The problem was, the further you advanced in the faction, the more quest hubs you unlocked, and the more quests you had to do to reach the bag.

With the new factions, each stage of the Isle is unlocking more quest hubs… and there is a loot bag. But last night, the first night of the new stage, there were two loot bags. After I finished the first two hubs, they gave me my “go kill this badass dude” finisher quest that rewards a loot bag and other stuffs… and ALSO gave me a breadcrumb quest that led to two more hubs, and at the end of those, ANOTHER finisher quest with another loot bag.

I know, it sounds like I’m saying it’s too much and it’s just enough both at the same time.

It’s the raid faction that is the sticking point.

Your daily quest faction gives you some options for valor gear, but it’s all stuff appropriate for the 5.0/5.1 patch raids. The big reward for reaching Exalted, and it’s a BIG reward, is a triceratops mount.

All iLvl 522 Valor gear comes from the raid faction… and there will be four wings of the Throne of Thunder LFR raid.

Doing all the daily quests on one character as it stands now, with two stages still to unlock on the Isle of Thunder takes me about an hour, maybe an hour and a half when you count in rare runs.

Doing just ONE WING of the new Throne of Thunder LFR takes about two hours.

I’ll be generous. Let’s assume you either are a healer OR a tank, can get a fast queue, or you are friends with one that will queue with you.

One wing still takes an hour and a half. Three hours plus to do two wings, and that’s if you’re not spending time in queue. And there are two more wings yet to be unlocked!

The big problem isn’t the boss fights. I’m finding them to be really fun. I especially love Horridan. I know Cassie hates it, because as melee DPS she has to try to kill adds with bad stuff on the ground while a bazillion spell effects are going off all around her. It’s a melee mess. Me, as a ranged player, I LOVE Horridon, it’s just neat. Every time the raid warning “Double Swipe” goes off I grin, because it means impending dino destruction as Mechatriceratops goes nuts.

It’s the trash. There is just too damn much trash.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the common consensus, you gotta have some trash as a palatte cleanser and to tease you with a taste of game mechanics yet to come.

But what it feels like is Blizzard said, “Lei Shen is a total badass ruler of all of Pandaria and a legendary villain. To impress everyone with how powerful and awesome and all-encompassing was his power, his palace must be massive. It can’t be a shed in the back forty.”

So they built a huge honking palace for Lei Shen.

Then they had a shitload of empty space, and they had to fill it with something.

Bring in the trash!

I’m not seeing a solution to it, either. Reducing it leaves too much white space, nerfing it makes people feel like the whole place should be zergable, and actual boss fights will hurt more by contrast.

If you look at the loot tables, the trash on normal can drop a ton of really nice gear, but I don’t think any of it can drop in LFR, so there isn’t even that monty haul feeling of possible impending lucky lightning. And if there were, everyone would need on it anyway, unless somehow they made the lightning loot work like the personal loot bags.

Whatever the case, there will be four wings of this stuff. On one character, only doing LFR, I expect that to leave you with 6 hours of raiding a week if you want to feel like you’re ‘keeping up’ with your fellow gamers on drop possibilities and raid faction rep development.

Six f’ing hours.

I’m already trying to decide who to cut on my roster. I’m down to only playing two character ever, the Warlock and Hunter. And I’ve been trying to keep them both evenly maxed as much as possible so both are raid viable.

I just don’t see that being possible when another wing opens up. It’s to the point where, with the time I’m willing to play, I have to pick one and only one. And yes, I do play every day, and even I’m saying it’s just too much.

I’m not looking forward to the decision. I like both characters a lot, they’re packed full of fun.

And here is the kicker; they just released the next patch for the PTR. We don’t even have everything in THIS patch released yet, two stages are still locked and two wings are still closed on the Throne of Thunder LFR, and the new patch with tons of new, cool stuff is on the PTR.

To sum up; if you are playing right now and staying up to date, then it’s a great time with tons of stuff to do and new things right around the corner all the time, to the point of being overwhelming trying to do everything.

If you haven’t been playing for months because you felt exhausted by daily quest and faction grinds in 5.0… no, I tell you in all sorrow, please no.

On the other hand… there are so many cute battle pets coming! Did you see? A little pet Barry the dino! He’s sooo cute! And a pet Valkyr! And a Fel Reaver! And more pets from old school raids!

If you want lots to do, and you can distance yourself from feeling like “I should really get my faction rep up so I can buy valor gear”, then there is lots of other fun stuff to do.

Just… fear the faction grinds.

Rare? I say Well Done!

As the weeks go by on Patch 5.2, I’m settling in and finding out what I like most by looking at how I’m spending my time.

Apparently, I like the rares on the Isle of Thunder best.

As a bit of background for those not engaged in this, on the Isle of Thunder there are many rare spawns that can appear. Each enemy appears in one specific geographical area, is a level 92 elite badass, and can be dogpiled by anyone and everyone.

There are a few different maps out there for who spawns where, MMO champion did one that is very good for the experienced hunter, but the one I used to start out came from WoW Rare Spawns, because Euphyley had notes for where they’d appear, which I needed to first get started.

Take a look at those maps. You can see there are a bunch of different rares that can spawn on what turns out to be a fairly small island, and more are coming as each phase unlocks. My server should hit phase 4 today, and who knows what THAT will bring? Aside from one new rare, that is.

The key to how awesome this is, is that they really CAN be dogpiled by anyone and everyone. You do not have to be in a group, you don’t have to be the same faction as whoever tagged it ‘first’.

If a rare is up and you attack it, so long as you tagged it you can loot it when it’s dead. Of course, there is a mechanic to prevent a simple insta-zerg. Each person who tags the bad guy boosts it’s health by 50%. The more people who jump in, the longer the fight can be delayed, which just gives more time for a bigger dogpile.

The rares all have one guaranteed drop, a Tome of Valor that grants you 15 Valor Points when you use it… has a two hour duration and is unique, so you can’t stockpile them beyond the week if you valor cap. You get it, you use it, you move on.

The rares also have a chance to drop the Sealed Tome for the Warlock Green Fire quest chain, and according to an update by Netheara on Twitter the Sealed Tome is ‘first come first served’, first Warlock to loot the body will get it if there is one there to find.

There are two other possible drops from rares that concern us. First is the epic Key to the Trove of the Thunder King, which seems to be an almost but not quite guaranteed drop from the first rare you kill in a week. Log in after server reset for the week, kill a rare or two and off you go to the Treasure Trove.

The second is a pet, which can only drop from the Haywire Construct, which can only  spawn on the Skumblade beach.

Let’s recap, shall we? Warlocks can get the Sealed Tome but are in competition with every other Warlock to loot first. Everyone gets 15 Valor Points for every kill, MORE if another character on your account is capped for the week, money, and for Haywire kills a chance at a pet.

Rares can be found all over the place. But not every massive badass elite is a ‘rare’. Please don’t chain pull the giant dinosaur.

This is how I now spend my time.

I hunt rares.

Oh, I don’t camp them or just run the rotation. Well, sometimes I run the route, but there are usually plenty of quests to do too.

What I do is get on either the Warlock or the Hunter, start the daily quests on the Isle of Thunder, and then do quests while checking out the rare spawn points in the quest zone. If someone announces a rare is up, I drop everything and beeline there to help kill it.

I have grouped with Cassie a few times for dailies, and it’s driving her nuts. Quest, quest, quest, “Oh, Mumta is up let’s go!” and zoom off I go.

Mumta dies, a call in /1 announces “haywire is up!” and off we go right back to the beach! Goda? Gone. God-Hulk? I’m a backdoor man. (There is an easy way to get to God-Hulk by taking the beach and avoiding the mobs in the terrace area who could dismount you for precious seconds. The wall is broken there too).

I love it. The 15 Valor Points is just enough of a lure to make me drop what I’m doing and chase after a rare if I have a shot at it, while it’s not so much reward that I feel I should just spend my time doing nothing but rare hunting.

It’s what I’m doing. If I’m in the queue for anything, I’m likely to be on the Isle doing dailies and chasing after rares.

Now, here’s the funny thing. I’ve seen folks hang back when they are first to a rare, send out the call and wait for backup. When I’m on my Hunter, I do that because some of them (like Haywire) put out some serious damage and if you get a couple extra adds on you (like those god*(^% Seadragon Skumblade things with their damn traps) it’s a pain in the ass.

On my Warlock? If it’s up, I go for it, and if I have to, I solo it. No problem.

Destro Warlocks are… um, err, they’re not overpowered. Nope, not at all. Just right. Maybe a little on the weak side, right Blizzard? [wink wink, say no more]

Still, even though the Warlock is, yes, a little weak compared to other classes, through some amazing luck I just happen to be able to solo the rares as a Destruction ‘lock, enjoying all the self-healing the class has available. Which, um, makes up for the weak dps. Yup.

Okay, seriously for a moment… Destruction is god-like power for soloing stuff. As my friend Monstre said, it feels like how Ret Paladins did back in all their glory.

It’s amazing. But that’s a different story.

Whatever you think about daily quests, I highly recommend you at least try playing the rare hunter mini-game when you’re questing on the Isle.

Just follow one of the links, print out a map, and check out the spawn sites.

Then, the next time you’re at the Skumblade area, swing by the beach to see if Haywire is up, bounce on up to the mountain peak to see if the knockback saurok from hell is there.

If you’re killing Mogu, why not take a quick trek up the stairs to see if Mumta is home?

Coasting through the troll quests, go for a little ride along the beach, enjoy the waves. And didn’t that trip me out, the first time I saw there were these shadow wave things out on the water?

Yep, I’m enjoying hunting rares. It breaks up the quests, makes the Isle a place to hang out rather than endure.

And because of those rares, I capped on both my character for the week. Don’t underestimate how those 15 Valor Tomes add up over the course of a week.

If you’re enjoying them, or hating them, let me know.

When I first saw the map I was overwhelmed, but now I know it’s a GOOD thing there are so many. That means even if you miss one, another one is bound to be up somewhere else very soon.

Cub Down! Cub Down!

We may have lost the Cub.

Alex had a birthday shortly before we left on vacation, and along with some toys he acquired a fistful of Target dollars. Er, gift card thingies.

So, armed with gelt we took him to Target and let him run loose in the toy department.

What he wanted more than anything was the Mega Bloks Goblin Shredder, which Target’s website showed was in stock.

Yeah. They lied. Nope, nope, nope.

Not anywhere in the toy area, the clearance shelves, hidden behind something else. Might have had one in another department, but none in Toys.

Standing in the store we called around to other Targets that showed it as being in stock. We got the store clerks involved. We networked.

Nope, nope, nope.

This isn’t a rant on Target, but what turned out to have happened is funny, and Target Corporate has sure paid the price.

See, the Mega Bloks World of Warcraft Goblin Shredder is a new toy priced at $24.99. And as such, it is at the same price point as the old Mega Bloks World of Warcraft Barrens Chase set.

The old Barrens Chase set, along with ALL the old Mega Bloks World of Warcraft stuff has been clearanced out. it’s the same at Walmart, I saw a Goblin Zeppelin for $22 at Walmart the week before.

Whoever handled the toy purchasing for Target at the corporate level made absolutely no distinction between old series toys and brand new cutting edge releases. And to make it more fun, the store doesn’t track inventory by SKU, or by name… but by ‘assortment’.

They put all Mega Bloks World of Warcraft ‘assortments’ priced at $24.99 on clearance, so they clearanced the Goblin Shredders. At half off.

Plus this weeks advertisement had a 30% discount coupon for Mega Bloks sets.

Yeah, Target took that one in the shorts. Well done, sir and ma’am. No need for me to rub salt in the wound by letting everyone know how badly you messed up… but what the heck, if you’re going to be that ignorant, so be it.

Next time, might want to make an effort to know the difference between older toys and newer toys and track by SKU or name. Us customers certainly know the difference, and we thank you for funding our eBay sales.

Well, not mine, but I’m sure somebody saw that one and chortled with glee.

Oh, and if you search Target.com, make sure and use the correct spelling. Apparently, it’s a “Goblin Schreder“.

Yeah, we can tell Target has their finger on the pulse of the toy market. Might be squeezing a bit tight, though.

We ordered the toy online, so no worries there. But that still left our son with cash in hand and no new toy to get that new car smell.

After he wandered the aisles with no result, because it makes a difference when the toy you buy is with your OWN money instead of momma moneybags, I mentioned that there were also video games for 3DS or PS3 or even the Wii he could check out.

Oh, boy.

Our son, blessed that he is, finds exactly what he wants, and it came as no surprise since he’s wanted it for two years.

Skylanders. In this case, Skylanders Giants.

Ah, shit.

Cassie has fought this battle for two years. Skylanders is another way of saying, “Parents, just hand over your wallets, you’re fucked.”

As Cassie began to explain first that we were planning on buying into the Disney Infinity version soon to be released (and thus if we buy Skylanders there would be no money for the Disney version) and second that there was no way his $50 or so was going to stretch to a $75 starter set, plus you need at least one of each of the eight types of power characters to unlock every area, which go for $10 to $15 A POP, I called a halt to the discussion.

That day, Saturday, the last day of the sale week… the Skylanders Giants PS3 starter set was $40. It was $35 off. That one day. And all sets were buy two get one free.

A huddle formed, because the truth was clear.

If this shit is getting bought, it’s happening today, because we ain’t paying $75 ever in the future. But $40… he could afford $40.

Cassie said Amazon usually price matched when a big chain did this kind of thing. I checked, sure as heck she was right as usual, they were price matching… and she said that if they did, again they would stop as soon as the big store sale was over.

Move your ass and decide now, or forever hold your peace.

But does he really want the game? Is he sure?

What it came down to, as we discussed it over lunch, was he didn’t want it if it meant he couldn’t get the Goblin Schreder (sic). He was almost in tears at the pain of this decision. Goblin Schreder or Skylanders Giants?

When Cassie assured him that his money, if he pushed it and used some allowance, would stretch to both… well, he went for it.

With that decision made, Cassie became directly involved.

I might not have ever mentioned this before, but I do not handle the family finances. Cassie does. She is a master at knowing when to hold ’em, and when to go all in. It’s because of her diligent efforts that we have a house, because if it were up to me we’d have lost the mortgage due to a Battlemech miniature game addiction years ago or something equally stupid.

No, I’m not kidding. I grew up so poor you’ve got no freaking idea. Living in the ghetto poor. I have within me this destructive little thing that whispers to me, “Buy that. You know you want it. You’ll feel better if you have it. You won’t be able to stop thinking about it until you do. Go ahead, what’ll it hurt.”

I’m a lot better these days, but there are still those moments where I feel the yearning to impulse buy something to feel good. And for those moments, there is the Auction House, where I can blow my gold and ask Cassie for a loan until the cash from my dailies comes in, lol.

So she has the veto. She has the sense as well as the cents.

She took a good, hard look at the Target special, checked for price matching at Toys R Us, Walmart and Best Buy, looked at Gamestop, and ultimately decided on a course of action that had us purchase the PS3 Skylanders Giants starter set, three more Giants (Crusher, the Whale and the Cubs ultimate favorite, Eye-brawl) and three of the 3-packs.

One of the 3 packs had all series 2 characters that included a Gear and a Magic, the other two sets were adventure sets from the first Spyro’s Adventures game with the pirate ship and the Dragon Peak, which gave us a fire character too.

This careful balancing act left us with at least one of each type for maximum game unlocks, two adventure sets for expansion, and the most value for the money.

It also left our wallets weeping, but it was on sale! We didn’t spend money, we SAVED money! Yeah!

Oh dear lord what have we done… even I’m wincing at the memory.

Anyway, the Cub now has a level 10 Eye-brawl and is having a blast.

I asked him last night if he wanted to play some more Skylanders, or if he wanted to log in and do LFR on his Death Knight with me for the very first time before the reset.

He chose Skylanders, so, yeah. He might be gone.

On the other hand, I was watching him play, and he let me take the controls a few times…

That Cynder is pretty cool. I like the way he turns into a shadow to scoot along underground, and leaves a trail of ghosts behind.

And if you blast sheep with lightning bolts, they puff up like cotton balls and you can roll them around!

And, and, and…

You know, I might not be logging on for a while.

Take care of my alts, feed my dinosaur, and water my garden, okay?

And if you don’t hear from me after a month or so…

No, you can’t have my stuffs.

Death Knight Redux

Since so many of you offered suggestions and advice on gearing my sons Death Knight, I feel I owe you an update.

I’d been saving Blood Spirits and Living Steel with the intention of having the 496 Blacksmithing crafted gear made for him someday.

Before worrying about that though, we asked him what he’d like to do last night. Watch a movie? Play some Minecraft? TV? Tablet games? Toys?

“Maybe if you and mommy aren’t busy, run some scenarios?”

Okay, plan. Sure, we can do that.

If we can find a couple more folks willing to join us, would you rather do scenarios, or heroics?

“Heroics.”

Okay, let the call go forth!

Gooseigaly, who was such a powerful healing presence on our ICC achievement runs volunteered to come along, so we’d only be looking for a pug tank. Shouldn’t be too bad, Cassie does very nice DPS on her Shaman and even on my Warlock I’m doing about 65k in Heroics. Alex won’t be doing so well, but he’s gearing up, what do you expect? We can take up the slack.

No problem. Right?

Sigh.

Scarlet Monastery. You’d think it would be a lot of fun. Alex never saw it while doing normal groups and leveling, so it will be fresh. And it has lots of fun stuff, like the hounds turning on the houndmaster, then tearing on down the path. And buckets of chow to throw for them. He should like that.

One minute into the run, the tank announces that my son should be ashamed for only doing 15k DPS in a heroic.

Just, fucking sigh, man.

I need to make an in-game /p facepalm macro. I swear to fucking Mylune and all the little bunny rabbits that I do.

I am actually getting grumpier as I get older (I know this comes as a shock to most of you) and so I told him that the DK was my son, and the rest of us were all in a group together to help him get some gear to improve, so we were there to pick up the slack. No need to worry.

It went downhill from there.

Really, I’m not going to dwell on it. The tank was a bully, and yet pulled the victim card at the same time. Oh yes, he was being a dick, but it was only because he knew we were going to kick him, so he got his retaliation in on us in advance.

So when a blue plate chest dropped on the first boss, and he already had it, the reason he rolled need and took it was because he knew we were going to kick him. And the reason his health plummeted in his ungemmed, unenchanted mixed blues and greens was because Goose wasn’t healing him out of vindictiveness, not because he was squishy as hell and standing in the middle of the bad with his back to hounds who didn’t have to deal with parries, blocks or dodges and could gnaw on his boxers without distraction.

You get where I’m going with this.

Cassie announced to me in vent that she was glad to be reminded so forcefully of why she’s just about quit WoW already, and said she was out of there. Fuck him. I wholeheartedly agreed.

I let Goose know we were dropping, and he stayed in a bit while Cassie, Alex and I waited out the 5 minutes left on our deserter timer.

Deserter. Talk about a name meant to shame. Allow me to suggest a better name is the “Prick Penalty“.

You weren’t willing to deal with the prick? You have to deal with the penalty.

Probably NSFW. (Not Safe For WoW).

No worries, you all know my position when it comes to dealing with abuse. Nobody has to take that shit, nobody should ever feel they SHOULD take that shit, ever. If you’re in an abusive situation, fuck them, let them live with their own nasty selves and stew, ain’t my responsibility to take it. Nor is it the responsibility of my wife or son.

And it sure as hell isn’t on our shoulders to feel guilty for leaving a group with someone that’s going to act that way.

Anyway. We sent the call out looking for a tank again, but it was friends on Horde side night, so instead of playing instance roulette, we decided to do scenarios instead, and waved a fond farewell to Goose.

The scenario was Monkey Island. It went great.

Cassie defended the beach while Alex manned the cannon (and I’m sure placed bombs) and I ran around using my boozehunter knowledge to grab all the beer and bring it back fast. Worked like a charm.

I know where the booze is to be found.

That was fast, fun and unrewarding. Still no loots for Alex.

Then Serendipity whispered me to see if we were still looking for a tank. She had one… but she was DPS, did we have a healer?

Cassie was glad to bow out to make room, she had her fill of groups with the tank from the first one. Goose was gone, so we went in, three DPS and a tank, taking a chance on a pug healer.

Turned out the tank, a Paladin, was just starting out, had gear even worse than Alex, and hadn’t done the Mogu’shan Palace heroic before so he didn’t know his way around yet.

I didn’t care, Alex and I aren’t looking to set any land speed records here, we’re just doing a heroic. And you have to start somewhere, and do an instance for the first time sometime.

The tank was refreshingly skilled. He had the classic, old school style. He used crowd control. He pulled mobs using line of sight and physically controlled the positioning and facing so as to let AoE effects go off without breaking the CC.

Basically, the tank was calm, considerate, and went at a measured pace using talent on loan from God.

A classic example of having all the skills, and just needing to get some more gear.

So, the big question.

How did our pug healer handle having one insane high-DPS Warlock (proportionately speaking, that is) that persisted in pulling aggro and acting like a nutjob, a Rogue that marked and sapped targets, a tank in blues and greens that took his time carefully making each pull the classic way, and a Death Knight doing, ahem 20k DPS?

healer was a fucking champion. Not a single word of complaint, not a SINGLE fucking word of complaint at the pace. No bitching, no sulky lack of heals, nothing like that at all.

He (or she) offered a few suggestions, healed like a pro, moved around with us like a member of the team in long standing, and only asked if we could maybe pull the last boss back to the doorway to help make their healing smoother, which we were happy to do.

Let me repeat that. The healer ASKED if we would, and gave a reason why they’d like us to do it that way. No pissy demands, or pouting like they were lowering themselves to deal with us idiots.

Now, I’m sure the healer would have liked a faster run, or higher DPS in the group overall, or a tank that didn’t require so much work to keep alive.

But they played the game with what they had, did an outstanding job of it, remained cheerful and really left me wishing they were on my server so I could add them to my casual realm friends list, just to give them the occasional “Hey, wanna do something?” shout.

You know, like we used to be able to do before the cross-realm choice became “Hey, can I add you to my Battletag list so I can see everything you do on every character you have on every server, and even on other games like Diablo and Starcraft?”

This too might surprise you, but I don’t actually ever say that in a run, no matter how great the other person was. Developing an in-game friendship is one thing, renting an apartment together is a bit much for a ‘next step’ after meeting them.

Anyway. The end result was the entire night was spent playing as a family, Alex had fun, Cassie got disgusted, I got irritated, Goose got a single boss kill, and we got to meet a great tank, play with Serendipity, and have fun with a rocking pug healer to take the foul taste of the earlier run off our palates.

Also, Alex didn’t win a goddamn thing to help his gear iLevel.

Kiss my ass.

There is this really handy feature on Ask Mr Robot that I use for my alts, now that LFR is gated behind average iLevels.

If you load your character, you’ll see on the right side panel a bunch of stats for your equipped gear. Including ilevel.

What is helpful is, you can change an item and save it, and the results will show up on that panel… including your new ilevel with that piece of gear equipped.

If you pay for a subscription with Ask Mr Robot you’ll be able to see what is in your bags as well, and compute best equipped gear based on all your combined stuffs, but I don’t have a subscription yet.

You don’t need a subscription to call up a character, choose a different chest piece from the list, save it and see how that would affect your average iLevel.

And that’s what I did late last night. I loaded Ask Mr Robot, and asked, “What would happen if I got the rest of the Blood Spirits and Living Steel and made Alex the 496 chest and gloves?”

Boom, 459.

“Okay, so where can I get the last point. Trinket is the worst item, but I can’t replace that without a Darkmoon Card, or a lucky drop. Fuck random pugs, what else.”

“He had a 446 ring. What if I made him a second 450?” No.

Hmmm. He’s got enough Justice Points for a 458 item. “What would, say, replacing the ring with a 458 do?”

iLevel 460 exactly.

Fine, done and done.

Bought what I didn’t have, Venoym volunteered to craft the items, I flew the Death Knight out and bought the JP ring, and bam. Fucking done.

It ain’t enchanted or gemmed yet, and he doesn’t have a Key to run the Trove for Elder Charms, but I’m sure that will be taken care of by this weekend, and the next time he wants to run something, the option will be to run Mogu’shan Vaults LFR with my Warlock along for the ride.

I could almost thank that pug tank from my first run. If he hadn’t shown just how MISERABLE a heroic run could be with an asshat in the group, I wouldn’t have been so inspired to just cut bait and get it done.

Almost. But, um, no. Fuck him.

Ermahgerd, Gastropod!

A large part of the guild queued for the second part of ToT LFR last night, but had to date only cleared normal Throne of Thunder through (and including) Tortos.

I say only, but I haven’t even set foot in Throne of Thunder Normal myself yet, so yeah. That wasn’t to denigrate their progression, but to nail down how much of the raid they’d had a chance to see so far.

As we approached the trash leading up to bird brain (my name for the third boss of the second part of ToT), Tom entered our vent channel. He wasn’t queued with us, but he’d done it in the morning in LFR and wanted to hear this.

He was damn near chortling over how much he loved the trash before the bird brain.

“Some of the best trash in the game”, was one spontaneous review, and “Wait until you see the snails!”

Snails?

How the unholy hell can a snail be a viable trash mob?

I mean, a snail. Shell, slime and slow, right? Wavy eyes on long tendrils? We are talking snails here. Shrivel when salted? “Oh no, it’s Crazy Snail! Quick Tom, break out the Bat Salts!”

Yeah, I made a bath salts pun. Sue me.

We worked our way through the trash after the second boss, mostly spiders on ramps.

Where the heck… Ah hah! There, at the top of a ramp we beheld our first snail. Er, Gastropod.

Hmm.

Yep. Huge freaking snail. There has to be a catch here.

Is this a ninja snail? Does it vanish, only to pop in and bump you gently from behind with it’s soft, slimy snout?

Nope.

Maybe it’s a lightning snail, and blazes a swift trail, achieving ludicrous speed to pounce on resto Druids and munch placidly on their leafy heads?

Nope.

Mind control snail? It takes over Warlocks and makes them devour the Gastropod while talking with a French accent, resulting in acid indigestion?

Nope. But getting closer.

I know! Slime Slaughter Snail with extra Mucus action!

Ding ding ding ding.

So, okay, a snail. What’s the big deal?

Tom says, “check out the buff on the snail.”

I mouse over the Gastropod, and sure enough it has a buff.

Devoured.

Anything it touches (10 yard range) it, ahem, eats alive.

Devoured
You’re being eaten alive!
2 seconds remaining

And after that two seconds, boom, you are DEAD.

In the words of my Dungeons and Dragons youth, no Armor Class, no Saving Throw.

Oh, hell yes.

I had to test this.

Rades, this is proof you don’t want me on your raid team. I saw that buff, and the very first thing I had to do was run over and stand in front of it.

Well, maybe you’d understand.

That’s right, it slowly, SLOWWWWWLLLYYYY approached me, and then killed my butt. Instantly.

Which didn’t help my raid team any, but had me howling with laughter at home. Oh, if only you were left with a 15 minute green cloud and the flavor text buff “You’ve been slimed!”

So, if it kills everything it touches, how can you possibly fight this most terrifying of terrestrial snails?

the way it works is, it fixates on someone, putting the big eyes of doom over their head, and then slowly slimes it’s way towards the fixate target.

This was massive fun, and I’ll tell you why.

It can fixate on Hunter PETS.

It fixated on MY pet. It fixated on BARRY.

Greatest thing ever.

As soon as I saw the eyes appear over Barry’s head, I popped him on passive so he’d run back to my side, which took a few seconds because apparently Barry really wanted to eat the snail, but whatever. I actually think Barry is just stubborn as hell. He seems to have an attitude.

After a suitable amount of cussing and swearing, Barry finally returned to my side and I was able to lead the damn snail around and down and over the ramp away from the rest of the raid… or most of the rest of the raid, who tended to spread out to cover all available space like an avalanche. That let everyone else stand back at a distance and drop a ton of bricks on it from safety.

Not everyone who got fixated had the same thought.

Oh yeah, there’s more than one of these badass snails.

I saw more than one player with eyeballs over his head back slowly through the center of the player group, DPSing as he went as though he were trying to burn down an Undying Shadow from Ziang in the Spirit Kings encounter.

One does not simply burn down a Gastropod while kiting it through the raid.

Unless you’re doing it for fun, but that’s another story.

New drinking game… every time a fixated player kites a snail through the raid, you down a beverage of choice.

We wiped on snails a few times.

It was so fun! Best damn trash in history.

I’m not even going to go into any more exposition.

I’m gonna let you think of all the ways having a super-high health mob that insta-kills anything it touches and fixates/chases a player (albeit slowly) can be used for good… or evil.

Mostly evil.

Thank you, Novalas, for reminding me I was going to write about the joys of Gastropodony. And for posting that awesome picture of the Gastropod Siege of Orgrimmar.

I request your Plate Gearing advice!

Hey, I have a quick request if you’ve got a few minutes and some advice to share.

My son has reached max level on his Death Knight, his first newly max level character.

I got him decked out in crafted 450 plate PvP items, a crafted 463 double handed axe, 483 boots from Sha and a 480 necklace from the old Love is in the Air boss.

Even got a cloak and a 450 ring.

What I’d like are your words of advice on the easiest, fastest way to get him to the 460 line so he can get into Mogu’shan Vaults LFR with me.

I’m still running it on my Warlock, and he’s memorized the whole thing from the Dungeon Journal and tells ME what to do during the boss fights… he just can’t get in there himself.

He loved Dragon Soul LFR so much, and as a DPS was very good. But it’s all but impossible to get him geared through heroics. They just take SO LONG to pop for a DPS with limited playtime like he has, just for the off chance at a single drop, maybe.

So, any ideas, I’d really appreciate it. I would level my Blacksmith and try to make him the epic 476 items, but it’ll take weeks, maybe months, and from what I understand they take dozens of the Spirit of Harmony and the Golden Lotus rep for the patterns, so BS don’t make em so much anymore. Better things to do with Spirits, maybe?

Cassie and I haven’t leveled a single plate wearer this expansion, so we simply don’t know.

I thank you in advance for any suggestions you might have.