Guest Post – Hiemalis – Quality Over Quantity Part 1

For the first time ever, I’m going to let someone have some face time on my blog to do a short series of guest posts. After featuring her on my blog a week ago, I asked her to write whatever she would like to share about  her experience in the Celestial Tournament, and defeating it with only 25 pets at max level in her entire pet journal.

She took me up on it, and I think as you read it you’ll see why I’ve gone ahead and posted it without edits. On this blog, we don’t cherish brevity. It’s Bearwall or bust!

So that’s enough of me. I present to you Hiemalis and her first guest post, Quality Over Quantity (part 1).

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Hey guys! I am Hiemalis (known in certain quarters as the Talky Shaman) and I beat the Celestial Tournament with 25 pets.

A little obligatory background. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for 8 years and I have always loved collecting pets. My little mini-Restoration druid, the Teldrassil Sapling, plodded patiently behind my bear tank Laia during most of Wrath and Cataclysm. Sleet the Azure Whelpling has flown behind Eyowyn, my mage (and internet handle) ever since I farmed for her back during the last days of Burning Crusade. And, I fondly remember the Dark Whelpling my dad got on his hunter, Idoneus, while we were questing through the Badlands in Vanilla. I was (and am) a gleeful Pokémon player, which trained me well for the fateful Tuesday I decided to bash my head against the Celestial Tournament.

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I would not recommend doing the Tournament without at least 21 pets. That lets you lose all 3 of the pets you field against each of your enemies—and that’s what usually happens. The trick with limited pets is to get creative. Your pets have more abilities than the three that might seem to work the best together. You want to get super-effective damage on your enemy, so make sure you read all the abilities your pets have. Sometimes they will surprise you.

I probably had to reset the Tournament 6 or 10 times before I beat it the first time. It only took me two tries the second time. Just keep trying—and most importantly, believe in your pets.

Refer to this link, for it is your best guide.

 

Without further ado, my strategy for the first week’s tamers is…

 

Lorewalker Cho

His Team: Wisdom (Flying), Patience (Magic), and Knowledge

Wisdom is a typical bird with a Wild Magic/Rip combo that makes her dots hit pretty hard. But we can take care of her fairly easily. Patience is a broom with a humanoid attack that keeps you from abusing dragonkin moves to take him down easily. Knowledge is a dragon who will burst the heck out of you with Amplify Magic followed by Solar Beam.

My Logic:

I can’t use my really heavy hitting magic damage people, because I need them for Chi-Chi and Dr. Ion. I can’t use my heavy hitting humanoid damage people, because I need them for Yu’la.  The broom will kill my dragonkin.

Therefore, it’s time to get creative.

My Team:

Groudon (Pandaren Earth Spirit) with Stone Shot, Rock Barrage, and Crystal Prison.

Aliphos (Lost of Lordaeron) with Shadow Slash, Arcane Explosion, and Curse of Doom.

Hopling (Hopling) who is almost never used, but has Crush and Backflip to clean up.

The Fight:

Wisdom comes out first. I send out Aliphos. Wisdom does whatever she does, it doesn’t really matter. She doesn’t do a huge amount of damage, and Aliphos has a lot of health. Aliphos throws out Curse of Doom and then spams Arcane Explosion until he dies. The Curse of Doom goes off right as Wisdom kills him for the first time, and then he finishes her off with one last Arcane Explosion. Then Aliphos dies.

Patience comes out next, and I send out Groudon. Use Earthquake, Groudon!

Wait, wrong game.

Anyways, the trick here is with how NPC’s ALWAYS switch their pets if they get stunned. So Groudon throws up a Rock Barrage, a Stone Shot or two, and then BOOM! Crystal Prison! Patience smacks Groudon about a bit before this. While he’s switching, refresh Rock Barrage. Then the dragon comes out. Stone Shot him, he charges up with Amplify Magic, and hit him with Crystal Prison the second it comes off cooldown. Cho will switch back to Patience, and Groudon gets a free Rock Barrage on him. A Stone Shot should finish him off, and Cho switches back to the dragon. Just stun him as soon as you can and Stone Shot and Rock Barrage will finish him off easily. Groudon rarely if ever dies to this, but if he does then Hopling can easily kill everyone left alive. Remember that Aliphos has already weakened everyone with his Arcane Explosion. That lets Groudon clean up easily.

 

Dr. Ion Goldbloom

His Team: Screamer (Flying), Trike (Beast), and Chaos (Magic).

Screamer is an annoying little pteroperson who will Lift Off, hit you with Lift Off, Alpha Strike, and then Feign Death when you first see him. But there’s no surprises here. Trike is a Direhorn, god help us all, and is just as annoying as you would expect. Chaos has a humanoid ability, but it really doesn’t do all that much damage. The damage comes from his huge-hitting dragonkin ability.

My Logic:

Once again, I can’t use my really good magic people. I need someone who can block Lift Off, because it hits hard. I’ve got to use one of my Mechanicals on Trike…oh, god, I only have 3 and I need all 3 for Xu’fu (I came back the next day after I powerleveled the Darkmoon Tony) ok, I’ve got one to spare. And I’m going to use my weakest one, to save the strong ones for Xu’fu. I want to save my strong dragonkin, and I need a tanky one because they might take a LOT of damage from Chaos.

My Team:

Whisper (Nordrassil Wisp) with Light, Flash, and Soul Ward.

Titan (Personal World Destroyer) with Metal Fist, Supercharge, and Quake.

Gaia (Emerald Whelpling) with Breath, Emerald Presence, and Emerald Dream.

The Fight:

I know Screamer is going to Lift Off so Whisper uses Soul Ward right off the bat. He’s faster than Whisper so she prepares to (hah) Flash him, he comes down and gets blocked and blinded. Light smacks him about a bit, and then she runs out of abilities. So, I pass, and coincidentally he always Feigns Death. So Trike comes out. Soul Ward comes off cooldown, and Whisper blocks the damage of Adrenaline Rush. Now it’s a challenge to see how many times she can avoid being stunned. Flash then Light then Soul Ward until she dies, then out comes Titan. Trike should be at medium health at this point, less if Whisper got lucky. Titan can curbstomp Trike with a handful of Metal Fists, or a Supercharge then a Metal Fist if you are willing to risk getting stunned and losing your buff. If you can arrange it so a quake will kill Trike, do so and get a little more damage on Chaos and Screamer. Screamer will get sent out, Feign Death, and send in Chaos, who will kill Titan eventually. Hopefully Titan gets off a few Metal Fists first. Then, I send in Gaia. If you get a good moment to use Emerald Presence, use it, otherwise Breath Chaos to death so Screamer gets sent out. Gaia may be at low health at this point. The second Screamer comes out, use Emerald Dream. You can good healing in if he Feigns Death, then Lifts Off, and Gaia should be able to finish him off fairly easily. Sometimes I lose in this strategy, though—darn RNG!

 

Sully “The Pickle” McLeary

His Team: Socks (Undead), Monte (Critter), and Rikki (Aquatic).

Socks is a fairly standard undead. Unholy Acension makes your whole team take more damage, which is icky. Monte has a bleed and a dodge in burrow. Rikki heals when he kills your people, which is annoying, and has an ability that makes your stuff miss him a lot.

My Logic:

I don’t have a single critter at level 25, crap! (forgetting that I actually did have one, but that it wasn’t favorited). Wait…Hopling has a critter attack? Ok, I’ll use that. Sweet, he’s faster than Socks! My girl Trish can crush Monte with her beast attacks, and I want to save Swain the hard-hitter…so let’s use Shimmerwing.

My Team:

Hopling (Hopling) with Tongue Lash, Sticky Goo, and Backflip

Trish (Direhorn Runt) with Trihorn Charge, Horn Attack, and Primal Cry

Shimmerwing (Silky Moth) with Alpha Strike, Cocoon Strike, and Moth Dust

The Fight:

Hopling comes out first versus Socks.

Did you know, I thought Hopling was entirely useless after I first got him to 25? I thought he was just as cute as anything, though. But he has actually  been a huge help both times I did the Tournament.

Anyways, Backflip first. You want to use this every time it’s off cooldown, as Hopling is super quick so you get the free stun every time. Then, Tongue Lash Socks to death. He will probably rake you with Infected Claw once, which will knock Hopling down to half health, but should be easily managed. Try and time it so you can Backflip on him during the round he resurrects, so you can interrupt Unholy Ascension, but if you don’t, it’s fine. Hopling, squeaking gleefully in triumph, then squares off against Monte. Knock Monte down as low as you can with Backflips and Tongue Lashes. You might even be able to kill him, but usually he takes out opling. That’s fine. Trish will annihilate him easily. I might not have even used Trish the first time I killed this guy, but she is certainly a good pick. Then, if Rikki gives you any trouble, any flying type can clean up easily as all of his attacks are weak to flying. Shimmering can Alpha Strike him to death in a couple of turns. I try not to use Moth Dust while he has his evasion buff up, however.

 

It’s really not so bad (at least for the trainers). Get creative. Hopling is a humanoid pet with a critter ability. Whisper does magic type damage and have a block, unlike Nasus (my Anubisath Idol) who wouldn’t do as much damage but has a block, or Talisma (my Feline Familiar) who does magic damage but doesn’t have a block.

Remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.

And I never would have been able to do anything of this without the generosity of a stranger. Can you see baby Nasus in this?

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The Weary Warlock Part 9 – Dinosaur Interlude

Thok the Bloodthirsty

There is a trend I’ve noticed through the years.

I know, I know. I mention all of these things, and it probably sounds like I spend my days peering at the world from under the brim of a tinfoil hat.

It’s not true. My hat is lined with truesteel. Provides a lot more protection from the Titan mind control rays, plus it’s a lifesaver when those impromptu bar brawls break out.

But back on topic. My friends just blunder in and out of trouble and don’t think much of it, but I pay attention to these things.

Here is the thing I’ve noticed.

It seems as though the dinosaurs we fight keep getting a little bigger, a little faster, and a bit better armed every year.

Every. Single. Year.

I can’t quite explain it. I mean, sure, my suspicions were aroused the first time I descended into Un’goro Crater. I had barely stepped foot into the leafy green thickets and I was jumped by a raptor.

Only thing is, this raptor was wearing jewelry. Feathers and beads and shit. Makeup, claw polish, that kind of thing.

This concerned me.

I figured there were one of two things going on.

First, maybe these raptors were smart, had some form of primitive tribal society developing, were in the process of developing a rudimentary tribal structure. They were beginning to value ornamentation in efforts to attract a more discerning mate, took pains about their appearance, you know. Dressing themselves up. Checking their appearance out in still ponds and puddles.

Vain dinos.

Or, and here was the alternative that kept me up at night…

Maybe somewhere out there is a dinosaur fancier that crept around, dressing them up. Making them pretty for his own sick, twisted purposes.

Maybe somewhere out there was some errant Troll looking at a saurian fangéd maw thinking, “Mm you got a mighty purty mouth.”

That’s a thought to keep you awake on a cold, lonely night of camping in Un’goro, I shit you not.

Since that day, as I said, I’ve kept my eyes open. I watch, and I study. And I’ve seen the trends.

Dinosaurs with ornamentation, dinosaurs in bondage gear, dinosaurs with laser beams, shoulder fired cannon and even in one case a baby dinosaur learning how to trick his way to freedom from the trolls of Zul’Gurub with torches and stuff.

The creepy dinophile trolls of Zul-gurub.

I’ve come to the conclusion that both of my original ideas were true.

The dinosaurs are intelligent.

And there are people out there, specifically trolls, that, well… fancy them.

Wait, I know, I know, the idea of a special interest magazine called “Dino Fancy” is disturbing, but look at the facts!

Look at the facts.

The trolls, they keep getting caught with tied up dinosaurs, trying to get them to do things that are against their nature.

There are even trolls who, and I hesitate to mention this…

There are trolls that have gone so far down the dark road of dino depravity to have taken the time to learn how to transform themselves into dinosaurs.

I know, that sounds cool at first. Right? And for you and me, it would be. An innocent afternoon daydream from Calvin and Hobbes, romping stomping dino fun. Rawr!

Based on the evidence, I think those Trolls have staked out a darker territory.

You’re probably wondering why I bring all of that up.

No reason. No reason whatsoever.

 

The Weary Warlock Part 8 – On A Short Fuse

Siegecrafter BlastfuseIt was with a sigh of relief that we left the roar of pissed off dinosaur behind us to see what lay behind door number three.

We trotted back the way we had come, passing quickly over the bridge only to stop dead in our tracks at the entrance to the huge cavernous room.

“Okay, there were two armies here just a bit ago. Anybody see where they went?”

“Nope.”

“No, seriously, how do you lose an army? Hello?” I stepped further out into the echoing, empty chamber, and yelling louder called, “Hello!?!”

Huh. You know, if I were given to introspection, this might worry me a little. Fortunately, I can rarely stay focused on one thing long enough to start wor… “Oh hey, is that door unlocked?”

The others had moved on without me, crossing the vast room to the big door opposite the bridge. With a gentle push of the hand, Monstre sent the imposing doors to swing open, revealing a long, wide corridor lined with pipes and tubes.

At the far end of the corridor were several large sewer pipes, their uncovered openings angled upwards towards us.

Their gaping, oh so very large uncovered openings.

I muttered “Badeba ba bop doot doot doot doot” under my breath, hearing others in the group utter similar charms against pipes and evil flowers at the same time.

As we approached the pipes, several foes jumped out at us from inside them, and began to launch missiles and tracking lasers. We sprung into action, hurling arcane energies, fireballs, explosive shells and in one case a slightly rabid badger at our foes.

Then the first of our strongest, most durable teammates went down to a laser, homing robot bombs began scuttling towards us, and Chron uttered those fateful words of ancient wisdom, “Run away! Break for the door!”

I took off back the way we had come as fast as I could, the rocket exhaust leaving a plume of flame behind me. I took pleasure in leaving the last of my team in the dust. One more speed bump for my enemies to stumble across before they can get me!

For truly it is said, I do not have to be faster than my pursuer, I just have to be faster than the rest of the pursued. Verily, they are the appetizer and, if I’m lucky, can also serve as the main course.

As soon as it seemed safe, or rather as soon as our more durable companions came through the gateway to rejoin the fight, I slowed and added my assistance.

We made our stand there, in the massive chamber where not long before High-Tinker Mekkatorque and his army of gnomes had held their ground. Is this what happened to them? Were they out fought, outthought, out improvised? Did they fail to adapt and were overcome?

With Monstre and Pankration once more leading the way, with the full support of Pumpken, Callaghan and even Tom, we began to push them back and take them down, one at a time.

Then our feet got damn hot. I heard a sizzling sound, I smelled the too, too familiar scent of warlocks roasting on an open fire, and I started running around in circles, screaming “Mah biscuits is burning! Mah biscuits is burning!”

“Where the hell is it coming from? OUCH! Run! Damn it, it’s following me! Where is it? What’s doing this and make the bad man stop….”

“It’s a tracking laser from the original room near the pipes, it’s shooting up at us through the floor!”

“Arrgh! CHARGE!”

We sped back through the door and down the corridor, our sights set on taking down our deadliest foe to date; a gnome wielding a massive shoulder-fired laser cannon that could apparently cut through a mile of steel decking with unerring accuracy.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I want one of those.

We broke her toy and she went down fighting, Arrakeen’s firmly planted axe finally silencing her snarls.

Geez, tough crowd.

Looking out past the pipes in front of us, we saw a massive, well, arena. Shit, I dunno man. It looked like an arena to me. Maybe that’s how Garrosh did all of his corporate meetings? The department heads form their employees into groups in the middle of an arena, and then they fight their way back out through deathtraps, dinosaurs, stale donuts and coffee blasters to freedom?

I dunno. I’ve heard of stupider group-building exercises. There is this one where they expect you to fall backward into someone else’s arms? You’re supposed to like, learn trust when your coworker catches you and shit. Well, what do you foster when he drops your ass? I ask you.

No, really, I’m asking you. I think Tom is gonna slash my tires. Hell, it’s not like he needed a cast or anything. Brush it off, you’re a priest, heal thyself and all that crap.

Anyway, the opposite wall was one massive machine of some kind, grinding and sparking and welding up bits. On the left side of the room, across a gap filled with pipes, a conveyor belt entered the room from to the left of where we were and headed forward, vanishing behind the massive machine. It came back out again from the right of the machine towards us and disappeared into the wall beside us.

There were pipes to the left of the room and again directly in front of us, and other than that, the arena floor was surrounded by space. How the hell were we supposed to jump across to it?

Wait. Why were we going over there?

“Wait. Why are we going over there? Is that machine loot? It ain’t fitting in my bags, I know that.”

“No, the final door leading to Garrosh is locked, and we need to get the key off of him.”

“Him? Him who?”

“Him.”

Chron pointed across the vast arena floor to the front of the console, where, far off in the distance I could sort of see a big, mechanical shredder-looking monster with the coolest glowing blue fist thingie ever lumbering around fiddling with the controls of the machine. I pulled out my Spyglass and zoomed in for a better look.

Why, however did I miss it hiding there.

Okay, so big bad machine dude thingie. Right. We’ve taken down the Iron Juggernaut, exactly how bad could this be? Linkages and bombs and sawblades. Whoopie.

I went back to eyeing the conveyor belt with something akin to terror in my heart. Somehow, I just knew I was going to end up running on that conveyor being pursued by tracking lasers. And monstrous chainsaw blades. I just knew it.

Chron said, “Everyone listen up. It’s obvious what we’re going to have to do here. We’re going to have to jump in this pipe in front of us, we’ll be spit out onto the platform over there. Then we attack Blackfuse and destroy him. We’ll pry the key to those doors from his still-smoking corpse.”

“That’s obvious, is it? What about the conveyor?”

“What about it?”

“You’re telling me that there is no chance at all one of us will end up on that conveyor then, are you? Is that right?”

“Oh, right. Yeah, I was reading the markings on the walls, other side of that wall to the left of us is where all the death machines go through rough first stage assembly. Then they come in here on the conveyor, go into that machine, get finished and operational, and go out the right hand side to the freight elevators.”

“You can read goblin engineering instructions and signs?”

“Yes, why?”

“Nothing.”

“So someone is going to have to go up on the conveyor and destroy whatever you have time to before it comes out the other end and blows us up.”

“Why can’t we simply walk over to the rough assembly area, kill the goblin peons working in there, make sure nothing comes out to get finished?”

“Goblin Workers Union filed a grievance. The GWU says after that whole Death Star thing, all workers have an automatic exemption from mass destruction events on underground or intersteller villain lairs.”

“We could evacuate?”

“What, before it’s time to punch out? You’ve never worked with a union before, have you.”

“Fine, okay. So, why not go in there and blow the parts up? They can stay on the clock, we’ll just destroy the parts.”

“Can’t do it, subsection five says any damages to tools or equipment can result in serious penalties.”

We are here to kill Garrosh Hellscream and destroy the heart of an Old God. What, exactly, are we afraid of as a penalty here?”

“Lawyers.”

“Oh, shit, sorry, so you were saying about conveyors.”

Summibs - Master Warlock

“Bear, you’re going to be running on the conveyor with Mibs.”

They call me Bear. It must be a nickname, because my proper name is Buttflame, but since the alternatives seemed to be either Butt or Flamer, I felt I was getting the better part of the possibilities here.

Also, WTF, OVER?

“Um, I’m running with Mibs? On a conveyor. And we’re sure there will be death machines on this conveyor to destroy? This isn’t some ploy to get rid of by sending me on a conveyor to be sliced up by tracking lasers, is it?”

“No, no, no. No, you’ll be perfectly fine, Mibs is an absolute expert and will carefully and safely guide you through whatever you may face together. Trust him, he’s a professional, and the best damn Warlock on the server. I mean in the world.”

I looked over at Summibs. He grinned, waved, and flexed his muscles at me. His red loincloth fluttered a little, and I felt a bit greenish in the gills.

I quickly cast Unending Breath on myself to prevent getting sick, and looked back at Chron.

Really.”

“Absolutely, best Warlock in the world, and he will be your guide. Pay close attention to everything he says, and you’ll be just fine.”

“…”

“He isn’t wearing any clothes.”

“So?”

“We’re miles underground in the heart of Orgimmar, hunting Garrosh and fighting an army of every lewis carrol reject you can dip in purple paint that an old god could think of. And he’s naked. This is our expert?”

“He’s doing better than you are. Like twice as well. Maybe mo…”

“Point taken, no need to go on and on about it. Okay, let’s do this.”

As the rest of the group huddled together to discuss strategy, I walked over to Mibs. Oh dear lord, I think he flexed at me.

“So… what’s the plan?”

Mibs took a piece of chalk and began sketching an professional engineering diagram of the room, the conveyors, the machine, and the pipes. He labeled each part in sequence, drew zones of destruction and fields of fire, and began pointing out various bits as he talked.

“Here is the plan. We’ll move over here towards this pipe. Drop your personal portal, that way when we spread out between conveyor phases, you can get back faster when we have to go in. When I say go, we’re going to jump in this pipe and get dropped on the conveyor. Laser fences with small gaps will appear; don’t get touched or you’ll take severe damage. Enough that you might die or at least be a very crispy critter.”

“To continue. We will be on the conveyor. It will be moving in this direction, towards the machine, at a pace slightly faster than you can run even with enchanted boots. We will run against the flow, and three unfinished death machines will appear. I will call out what we want to destroy. We must pick one and only one, because as soon as one gets blown up the other two will turn turtle. Then we hop into a pipe just off the conveyor before getting pulled into the machine. Whichever death machine we destroy, we won’t have to deal with on the floor. Any questions?”

“Um.”

“Okay, here’s one. Why is a brilliant tactician and thoroughly-prepared agent of devastation dressed like a fruitcake?”

“Because fruitcakes are a pain in the ass, and you can’t get rid of them.”

“Fair enough… ”

We walked back over to the rest of the team in time to hear Chron say, “So when the entire field is full of spinning, hovering razor blades Mibs and Bear or Trajar and Chron will let an electromagnet through to clean them up”

“Right. Whichever conveyor team is up at the time.”

I broke in to ask, “We’re going to have two conveyor teams?”

“Yes, we’ll have to, once you’ve been on the conveyor you have to take a break, you can’t get right back up there or you’ll be laser chow.”

“Again, fair enough.”

“Okay, so, we gonna do this?”

“Go!”

Mibs and I ran over to the pipe closest to the left conveyor and jumped in as the rest of the team spread out around Blastfuse.

We dropped into the pipe, there was a feeling of rushing movement and then I plopped down onto a moving conveyor belt. Which immediately got criss-crossed with laser fences. And was moving at high speed.

I started running my butt off against the belt, and looming ahead of us, the first set of three devilish contraptions came through.

Mibs called out, “Go for the bombs first! Ignore the rest!”

I picked out the cluster of bombs, and began sending streamers of flame into them on the run until they blew up, all the time keeping an eye over my shoulder for gaps in the laser fencing to sidle over to.

The bombs blew up, and I turned to look for the pipe to jump into, and saw it just as the conveyor carried me past it.

“Noooooooo!”

I made a valiant leap for the pipe, and came up short, falling into the gap between the conveyor and the arena floor.

A little while later, a VERY little while later, I sat quietly at a campfire eating some snacks and listening to the conversation going on around me.

“Okay, so, by my count Bear has fallen off the edge, what, four times?”

“More like five.”

“And there was the time he stood ON the pipe to the conveyor, and a buzzing, spinning saw blade camped RIGHT ON THE PIPE so nobody could get in.”

“To be fair, that was Chron.”

“Okay, granted. But still. We’ve got one standnig in the blast zone when the drills broke through the crust, one case of intimate knowledge of a saw blade, on the premises, several jumps off the conveyor and a partridge in a pear tree.

Mibs spoke up and said, “Okay, Bear, you seem to be having… performance issues getting it in, I mean getting YOU in the big hole.”

“What we’ll do is, you go over near the pipe that you are trying to jump into and drop your personal portal. When you get to the end of the conveyor, instead of trying to make the pipe, ‘port.”

“So, kind of a ‘porta-pipey.”

“… No.”

“Do you think will work?”

“Can’t hurt. Let’s find out.”

Monstre stood up, dusted his hands off and said “Ready to get this done? All right, everyone. TIME TO DIE!”

Monstre charged in after Blackfuse, everyone else spread out, Arakeen leaped heroically behind Blackfuse and began unleashing a whirlwind of blows upon, I think, an unoffensive servo-cam, and Mibs and I hopped in the pipe, five by five.

This time for sure!

We dropped on the conveyor, ran towards the rapidly appearing parts, we attacked the bombs, and as we reached the darkness I activated my Demonic Circle and appeared perfectly safe and sound on the arena floor. IMMEDIATELY UNDER BLASTFUSE.

Eek!

I quickly scurried away, got to range dodging what seemed like an entire universe of spinning saw blades, only to have one fly at me, slam me backwards to the ground in a shredded mass, and leave me broken and dying on the floor.

As I blacked out, the last words I heard were Tom calling out, “Sorry, Bear!”

Gah.

About an hour later, and it was a somber bunch to be found munching on snacks.

“All right, let’s review.”

“Don’t stand close to the pipe or a saw blade can block it.”

“Don’t stand too close to the huge mechanical beast because it sends out waves of bad stuff that hurts everyone around it. Only one of our front line defenders can handle it.”

“Watch for the buzzbombs, and move before they pop out of the ground, just like dancing the waves of spreading crap on the Protectors of the Endless on the Terrace.”

“When we finally let an electromagnet through to sweep up all of the buzzsaw blades, do not stand directly in the path of the dozens of moving blades streaming directly toward you. This may come as a complete surprise, but that hurts. I thank you, and your healers will thank you.”

Somebody muttered, “Your healers will let your dumb ass die is what your healers will do.”

“Okay. I know you’re tired, I know you’re feeling sorry and sore, but this time it’s for real. Now let’s go get it!”

We lurched, I mean leaped to our feet and roared our defiance. This time for sure!

We spread out and prepared to give all we had, win or die. Again.

Siegemaster Blackfuse lifted it’s massive blue fist in the air and let loose with a shriek of tortured metal, freezing us in place as hard as stone.

All of us, that is, but Mibs.

Summibs2Blastfuse roared at us, “Why aren’t you stone cold, Mibs?”

Loincloth swaying, Mibs called back “BECAUSE I’M ALREADY ROCK HARD.”

Shortly thereafter, we all died. But we were all immensely cheered up, I have to admit.

We ate some snacks, straightened out loincloths (so to speak), dusted off our robes, and went in for reals. No jokes, no cute catch phrases, just an iron determination to get this mechanical monstrosity pounded into the control panel.

We fought with furious intensity. On and off the conveyor belt the two teams jumped like well-timed pistons. The buzz blades were spread out in a perfect fan, giving plenty of room to run. The tracking lasers were guided safely away, the creeping crawling bombs were burned down, the whole team handled the chaos of destruction like dancing through the raindrops and never getting wet.

Finally, Arrakeen the Bloody unleashed a mighty blow, and in absolute silence embedded her axe blade into Blackfuses’ skull, ending the fight and the goblin’s need for a hairdresser permanently.

We rested, we cheered rather weakly, and then we looted his still warm corpse.

Chron lifted up a key. Even I could see it was only half of a key for the lock we saw.

“Hey everyone, guess what? Looks like we get to hunt a dinosaur after all!”

“Oh, boy. Just…. just oh boy.”

The Weary Warlock Part 7 – Loot At Last!

As High-Tinker Mekkatorque’s forces stormed into the chamber, goblin shredders whirred to life, flinging sawblades through the air. They had barely built up enough steam to stagger a few steps before being overwhelmed by the air to ground missiles of the GAS (gnome air support).

As the shedders were being GASsed, missiles and squirrel parts flew everywhere, making us duck and look for cover.

The chamber was so massive, the ceiling so high above us that there was no cover to be had. We could either turn back or charge forward into the scrum firing wildly, trusting in the luck of fools to see us through safely.

As one, we ran forward through the battle. Massive orc warriors charged us, led by the meanest badass I’d seen since General Nazgrim, only to be blasted by some gnomish device that froze them into orcsicles. We dodged around them down the hall, to end up in a huge chamber with locked doors to front and left, and an open bridge leading to a far off door on the right.

We charged to the bridge. At least here we were out of the range of the missiles and explosions.

The echoing explosions of the continuing battle receded behind us as we reached the middle of the bridge, and came face to face with big ugly.

A big ugly wearing a nameplate on his armored chest that read, “Hi! My name is STOREROOM GUARD how may I decimate you?”

Storeroom Guard? LOOT! Holy crap, the vault of da loots, in before the rush! “GET HIM!!!!”

We swarmed all over the poor guard, only to be thrown off with a power we didn’t expect. He beat us down, killed Pankration and then called for help, bringing more guards running. We quickly found ourselves sore pressed and near to dying, before with an incredible lunge Arrakeen buried her axe in the Storeroom Guard’s skull, ending the fight and saving our hides.

As we sat there catching our breath, Chron said, “Has anyone noticed the grunts in this place are harder to take down than the big guys? That was rough.”

Tom said, “So far, I really like it.”

It came as news to none of us that Tom liked it rough, but this was a bit much.

As we sat there, resting against the scuplture in the middle of the bridge, I looked around. “So, where’s the loot?”

“You’re leaning against it.”

I dragged my ass away from the sculpture and turned around. It didn’t look like much, a big stone block with carved faces done up in the manner of the Titans.

Oh.

“So, it’s a Titan thingiemabob? How much loot do you think is in there?”

“The loot isn’t in there, the loot is in all those boxes and crates down there in those four massive rooms below the bridge. That thing just drops the gates so we can get in and get it.”

Oh again!

“So, who turns the thingie on and drops the gates, then?”

Chron stepped forward and said, “I’ll do it. I’m the mage, I’m clearly the best suited to do something that requires any sense.”

Chron fiddled with the box for a moment, and then stepped back with satisfaction. “There, that got it! Everybody get ready, when those gates drop it’s time to get our pillage on.”

We stood impatiently at the gates, waiting for them to fall and let us at the loot. Suddenly, a loud voice started yelling all sorts of inane crap about emergency defensive systems, intruders, death to all, yadda yadda.

“Oh good call, Chron. Way to go. You pissed the box off.”

I tried to focus on what was happening around me, but I was thrown back into a flashback, as my mind turned to the days past, with a dwarf named Brann and large Titan artifact defensive systems that never, ever simply got bypassed without incident. Ever.

I remembered the streams of troggs, the laser beams, the troggs, the explosions, the troggs, the troggs, dear Elune please make the troggs stop.

Summibs slapped me across the face, snapping me out of my waking nightmare. “Hey! pay attention, we’re picking sides.”

Wait, what?

Sure enough, while I was off in la-la land dreaming of the Tribunal of Ages, everyone was standing in a group while Pankration and Monstre picked teams. What the hell, were we playing dodgeball now?

Monstre said, “I’ll take Chron, Trajar and Callaghan.”

Pankration said, “Works for me, I want Pumpken, Arrakeen and Tom.”

Monstre looked at me and Summibs and quickly said, “I call dibs on Mibs.”

Pankration looked sadly at me. I grinned and waved back. I don’t know why, but he sighed, and I swear his shoulders slumped just a bit.

With our two teams chosen, we each lined up at one of the two gates at the sides of the bridge. Each gate crashed open at the same time, and with the blaring of the alarms all around us we jumped down into the loot-filled rooms below.

Looking around, I saw that the room was filled with boxes of loot marked with stamps that looked like green Panda sigils, Mogu and Klaxxi runes. There was a large switch handle near a gate that led to another room the same size as ours.

“Okay…. so what now Cochise?”

The commanding voice of the Titan defensive system blared overhead, “You now have 280 seconds until Ultimate Systemic Immolation. Your bodies will be rendered to component atoms in 279 seconds… 278 seconds… ”

Um.

Pankration called out, “Smash the crates! If that thing is controlling all of this storage stuff, maybe smashing the crates will confuse it or scramble it long enough for us to deactivate it!”

In what universe would smashing the shit a defensive system is protecting deactivate the system?

“You now have 270 seconds until your bodies are chopped up into itty, bitty pieces and buried alive. 269 seconds… 268 seconds… ”

“I’m breaking! Shit, I’m breaking!”

I joined team Ubermonk in smashing crates, and as each crate was smashed, a bunch of creatures came tumbling out, cramped, pissed and looking for a fight.

This is loot?

We smashed the green marked crates first, and a couple of pandas leaped out and started smacking the hell out of us. As the crates were crushed, they seemed to release a teeny amount of purple energy into the air around us.

There were a few large crates, a handful of medium sized crates and a whole passel ‘o small ones all over the edges of the room. The bigger the crate we smashed, the more purple energy was released. And as the energy filled the room, the switch handle started to glow and hum with increasing intensity.

Mantid came tumbling out of boxes, Klaxxi set bombs on our backs, explosions rocked the room and we worked frantically to kill everything around us as fast as we could. With seconds left to spare, the purple glow coalesced around the switch and the hum changed in pitch.

“Stop breaking crates, it looks like it worked! Pull the lever!”

I ran over and grabbed the lever, yanking it down hard. Nothing happened.

“Um, guys?”

“Shit! I was sure that would work!”

We heard a yell from Team Army in the room on the other side of the bridge. “Almost got it, give us a second here!”

“You have ten seconds until you are mauled by wild animals that think you have pretty mouths, accompanied by the sound of banjos. Nine seconds… eight seconds…”

“Guys!?!”

The loud hum vanished with a sharp ‘clack’ and the gate to the next room dropped open. At the same time, the voice overhead announced, “In 280 seconds all music on the planet will be replaced by accordians. 279 seconds… 278 seconds…”

“Okay, that thing is vicious. Get the crates!”

Again, it was a race against time to destroy crates and kill the creatures that sprang from within. As Team Ubermonk smashed crates and killed baddies, we could hear Team Army doing the same from the other side.

The countdown continued, and Chron yelled out for all to hear, “You don’t have to smash everything, just enough crates to release the energy to activate the last switches!”

Pankration yelled, “Got it! Smash everything! Roger roger!”

“WAIT!” Pankration quickly smashed all the crates remaining in our room, unleashing a wave of every kind of Klaxxi and Mogu critter under the sun. Aw shit.

We killed them as fast as we could, but there was no way everything would die before the countdown ran out. Then I happened to notice the switch was glowing and ready to rock! We’d unleashed enough energy already, we didn’t have to finish the creatures off!

I activated my rocket belt and blasted to the level. Giving it a quick yank, I relaxed in relief.

“Ten seconds remaining until you dance the polka in a lake of fire ants for all eternity. Nine seconds… eight seconds…”

“GUYS!?!”

Monstre called out, “Almost got it.”

“Well get it! Got it? Good!”

With a final, bone shaking thud we could hear the switch being pulled, and the craziness stopped.

Silence reigned in the room.

I looked around at all of the smashed crates, the wreckage of pottery shards and mogu bodies.

“Loot? Fuck Garrosh. Smartass.”

“No, wait, grab one of those chains and get up here, there was loot in the Titan thingie!”

We ran to the bridge, where hoist hook dangled at the ends of chains. A quick grab and shimmy, and we were all back on the bridge to see what we had won from all of that mess.

“Um… what is that? Is that a pair of boots and a belt?”

“Yeah… but at least they’re purple.”

“I don’t care if they’re pink with purple polka-dots, that ain’t what I call the spoils of a continent laid bare.”

“Well, we broke the rest of the stuff.”

“And whose fault was that?”

We all turned to look at Chron.

“What? Hey, I pushed the button. There was a button, I pushed it. Sue me.”

Fine. “So, where to next?”

“Well, let’s go the rest of the way across this bridge. Now that the Storeroom Guard is dead and the defensive system is destroyed, that big gate is open.”

We moved quickly across the bridge. The sounds of explosions and war receded even further until we were walking along in silence.

Whatever was going on back there, I was glad to put some distance between us. I didn’t want to have anything to do with laser beams, explosions or mechanical war machines ever again.

We entered a large, rough-walled tunnel that descended further into the earth. in the distance ahead of us, we could hear roaring, and screams, and the ground shook beneath our feet at some distant impact.

I thought I smelled something funny.

“Trajar, was that your pet marking the tunnel?”

“No.”

“Ah crap.”

“Yep, that’s what I smell too.”

We reached a large open chamber, high ceiling, rounded walls, dead end on the other side.

Near to us were large Mushan beasts, flying overhead were pteradactyls, and running back and forth I swear were what looked like shaved yetis.

“They’re just hungry.”

“They look like shaved yetis. I call ’em like I see ’em.”

“They have a fur condition.”

“Yeah, they don’t have any. They look like chihuahuas on steroids.”

A pterodactyl chose that moment to swoop down into our group, grab me and drag me up into the air.

“Wait, wtf? Halp!”

The pterodactyl let go of me as I started blasting it with fire. All the fire I had.

As I fell, I started to panic, and then remembered. Parachute! Hah hah, take that you mother-fucking pterodactyl!*

*See The Oatmeal for more adventures of the mother-fucking pteradactyl.

I landed safely, and we fought a brief battle against the enraged mushan, the shaved yeti and the pteradactyls.

Then we got a nice, close look at what filled the center of the chamber.

A dinosaur. Another goddamn dinosaur.

This time, it looked like a Titan-empowered tyrannosaurus rex with distemper, rabies and this huge honking bladed spike thing on it’s nose. It was being restrained by a team of orcs holding on to it, and it had what looked like some giant shock collar and lightning charged shackles on it’s ankles.

On all the walls surrounding the chamber were cages filled with beasts and prisoners. Apparently, they were trying to tame this giant t-rex, and the cages held it’s food.

You know, you have to hand it to Garrosh. It takes some massive inferiority issues to look at a T-Rex and decide it wasn’t scary enough, it needed a spiky blade on its nose.

Monstre, Chron and Tom took a long, lingering look at the dinosaur.

“Yeah…. I think we’re going to go see what’s behind one of those other doors. To hell with this shit.”

Whew! Missiles and explosions, here we come!

The Weary Warlock Part 6 – Just Desserts

We stood, holding our weapons in eager anticipation of the battle to come.

The platform we were on descended further into the depths of the Warchief’s underground stronghold. Seriously, when the hell did he have time to build all this? And how did he keep the lava from flooding it all?

No matter. Speaking of lava…

“Hey Tom, about that lava.”

“I told you, if we flood the evil lair with lava, we don’t get any loot.”

“That’s the thing, man. What loot? All we’re doing is killing our way through soldiers and their siege engines to get to Garrosh. What are we gonna get, a scrap of armor or a sword that didn’t get broken along the way? And if the stuff is all that great we wouldn’t be able to pry it off their smoking dead bodies, now would we? Just saying. Lava, dude. Lava. Why not smoke ’em since we’ve got ’em?”

Everybody groaned.

Chrondeath said, “Garrosh has been scouring Pandaria for magic crap, treasure, anything he could get his hands on. And it’s all got to be stashed somewhere. Now, it wasn’t up there, so where do you think it is genius? Somewhere down there are all the treasures of a plundered continent. An entire plundered continent. That’s bigger than a breadbox or a baby’s arm, by the by. And we’re gonna get to it first. Do you finally get it?”

Ooooohhhhh. Oh, all right. Got it.

“So you’re saying it’s gonna be a lot of loot?”

“Sigh. Yes, you idiot, all lying there for the taking. It’ll be easy as cake.”

“I tried baking a cake, but it didn’t turn out right, the bacon was soggy.”

“Shut up.”

The platform finally arrived at the bottom of the shaft. As we stepped off, I took one last glance upwards to the level far, far overhead. How the hell did he build this so fast? And if he could do this, why not lava traps, spikes, snakes, boiling oil, something.

I mean, a big underground sprawling dungeon and not one single mechanical trap or poisoned chest? No green slime? You’ve got to have green slime! Or purple, whatever. Also, how did all this crap get down here? Through that one elevator shaft?

“Hey guys, do you think they’ve got a freight elevator somewhere that they use for the food deliveries, weapons, city-sized siege engines and stuff? This is kind of a long way to go every time you need to restock on toilet paper.”

“Shush, there are more troops ahead.”

Sure enough, the short tunnel opened up into a vast chamber, filled with patrols of orcs. Some were just standing around and others riding wolves back and forth. In the center of the chamber sat a big Hellscream Annihilator.

Chrondeath whispered to us, “Here’s the plan. We kill all of these orcs, I’ll take over the Annihilator, and we’ll use it to blow up the orcs in the next room.”

“How will we do that? They’re in the next room. It’s a small door. No trajectory.”

“Monstre and Pankration will lure them out, and we’ll lob shells on them at the doorway.”

“… Why would they come out if you’re sitting in an Annihilator waiting to drop explosives on them? And wouldn’t that kill Monstre and Pankration too?”

“It’s okay, you can’t kill your own people. Even with captured enemy siege equipment. We’ve tried. Oh Elune, how we’ve tried, ever since you joined us. But it doesn’t work.”

“Oh, okay. Wierd, how would the Hellscream Annihilator know not to hurt our side when we took it over? That doesn’t make sense. Wait, what do you mean since I’ve joined you?”

“Nothing. Let’s pull.”

We attacked the nearest group, and again we reaped the benefits of the iScream players the orcs were listening to. Despite killing orcs in the same room, nobody else paid us any attention.

In fact, the only other person that noticed us was the current operator of the Annihilator, who opened up on us, forcing us to stay mobile, ducking behind roof supports and watching our feet. Even with the constant rain of explosives, the screams of dying orcs and wolves and the fur flying, we were able to catch each group by surprise.

Annihilator

Before long, we had fought our way into the next chamber, some kind of half-assed training room, with Chron sadly leaving the smoking shell of the destroyed Annihilator behind him.

As we headed for the stairs, we saw a group of orcs trying to control one large mother of a beast, an enlarged orc glowing with purple ooze. Uh oh, purple! Must mean it’s bad! Everyone knows purple is the color of Y’shaarj and also the very coolest jedi.

Which begs the question, will that make Garrosh an orc jedi?

Old god or not, purple or not, the corrupted orc died like all the rest, and we pushed on up through the soldiers until we finally reached Malkorok, standing and waiting for us on a platform.

All alone.

On a high platform.

And he was glowing with purple ooze.

Uh-huh. *I* see where this is going.

“I got five bucks says someone is getting blown off the platform.”

“I’ll take a piece of that.”

We arrayed ourselves around Malkorok, and I noticed that his right hand and forearm were gone, replaced by a huge honking blade. When the hell did that happen? Did I miss a memo? No matter, if it was important we’d find out about it soon enough.

I looked around at the rest of the group, and while their attention was fixed on Malkorok figuring out where to stand so we were all nicely spread out, I quickly pulled out my engineering tools.

I had a Goblin Glider built into my cloak, but it was so complex it took a long time to reset. I figured, if I got blown up, it might be nice to have a simple easy to reset parachute instead. Something that, oh, I could use every thirty seconds, just in case.

Wow, can you imagine? Get blown up into the sky, only to pop a parachute and float back down safe and sound, shooting all the way! Like a commando or something.

Team Wanda and the Whining Commandos. Hell yes!

Malkorok was saying something to us, and of course the rest of the team were issuing clear instruction on how we were going to take him down, but I was kinda preoccupied tinkering with my cloak, so I didn’t pay too much attention. How hard could it be, anyway?

I mean, let’s face it. Whatever was about to happen would boil down to shooting Malkorok in the face with demon flame while moving my ass out of bad stuff. Right?

So that was when Monstre and Pankration moved in, and things got weird.

Well, weirder than usual.

First thing I noticed was, that purple ooze seemed to be coating everything on the platform, including us. Okay, no worries. I don’t feel any different.

Then I got flung up in the air by some unseen explosion. HAH!

Eat slowly falling comfy parachute, asswipe!

I landed gently to the ground right where I had been standing, continuing to send my flames to burn his butt, as it turned out, because his great horny back was to me.

Then big purple swirlies formed on the floor in a few places. One was very near to me, so I ran away, only to have the entire team start yelling and waving at me, screaming, “Go back! Go back! Stand in the bad, dumbass!”

Wait, what? I don’t stand in the bad, I get out of the bad. I know I ain’t the brightest torch in the sconce but I know enough to get out of the bad.

Then the purple swirlie blew up.

As we ate our meals around the campfire, it was patiently explained to me that if someone did not stand in the purple swirly and eat the explosion, then it would go off in a nice, fat area-wide blast that would hurt everyone. So please, pretty please would I stay in my zone and run to stand in the swirlies nearest me? Please?

Well okay, but you don’t have to be sarcastic about it. Geez.

So we attacked Malkorok again, and this time the purple swirly formed on the ground and I ran into it, and the explosion went off, and my health dropped.

I quickly popped my cookie in my mouth, spitting out the burnt hairs, and watched as my health bar did not fill.

“Umm… Pumpkin….. my health isn’t going up!”

“It won’t, you’re coated in purple slime. You can’t get healed until later. All our healing is doing is giving you an absorption bubble.”

“How does that work?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh. Okay!”

So we kept on. Very soon, Malkorok caused the ground to erupt in a cone to one side, and then again in two more areas. I started to run to get into one, but was told no, those are bad to stand in.

Tricksy!

Once the floor had blown up in three different areas, Kissinger called out, “Okay, now everyone remember where those three explosions were, he’s about to make all three explode at once with no visual cue, so don’t be standing where they were.”

Um, wut?

Wait, what did he say? I was supposed to pay attention and remember where purple dude had blowed up the floor?

Oh crap.

So, as we ate our noodles around the campfire, I was informed that, yes, in fact I was supposed to remember where Malkorok was blowing things up so I’d know where not to stand for laters, but just for me, since I was so special, Kissinger would try to take the time out of what he was doing to place a target mark on the floor each time the explosion went off so we could see it easily.

Now I think we had a handle on it. Right? Stand in the small purple stuff, get out of the big purple explosion zones, remember where they were for later when he makes all three go off at once, occasional parachute, and we don’t heal, we bubble.

Then I saw it. Malkorok weakened!

Immediately, Tom called out, “Everyone in, stack. NO NOT YOU BUTT, YOU’RE FILLED WITH DISPLACED ENERGY!”

Funny, I don’t feel sparkly.

I didn’t know why, but I wasn’t sensing a lot of hate in the group for Malkorok, just a desire to get his death over with so we could move on to important things.

But, this is Malkorok! This is the dude that’s been a little weasel from day one, and he was such a weasel we couldn’t tell if Garrosh were really behind things, or if Malkorok was the true evil, and Garrosh merely his dupe.

There it was, though. I think it was because he wasn’t a normal orc anymore. Whatever he may have plotted, he let himself be all pumped full of purple muck, armed with a, well, with an arm, and sent to block a door.

It didn’t scream “number one guy” to any of us. More like, “here, stand here and if anyone comes, whack ’em.”

Not exactly evil overlord material. Cannon fodder, nothing more. Kinda disappointing.

As Arrakeen sent her axe spinning into Malkorok’s skull, it felt more like pushing an obstacle out of the way than taking out a big fearsome baddie.

Oh, who am I kidding. Watching that scum-sucking purple puddle popper die felt great! I guess I’m just immature enough to enjoy seeing that piece a crap go down for his part in Theramore Island.

Filled with determination, we strode to the door he guarded, determined to push on, us, alone against the might of Orgrimmar!

Plus, you know. Loot.

We pushed through the door and looked upon the hell of war.

A massive chamber was revealed just beyond that door, halls stretching into the distance, ringing to the sounds of cannon and explosions, shouts and screams.

To either side of us, the forces of High-Tinker Mekkatorque streamed in through wide-open gates, raining death and destruction upon the Goblin war machines and shrieking orcs.

As the planes, tanks and gnome engineers streamed past us, freezing, blowing up or turning to squirrels all who stood before them, they were led by the High-Tinker himself, shouting order and smashing orcs as they came.

As we gazed upon the devastation, I said the only thing I could think of to sum up the situation.

“Guess they found the freight elevators.”

“Shut up.”

The Celestial Tournament – It’s Skill, Not Size

Hiemalis, Shaman of Korgath US
As a follow up to my most recent blog post about the Celestial Tournament, I wanted to show another side to the challenge.

I related my own experience with it, because that’s what I know. I described my two weeks of tournies, and how with my stable of 95 pets at max level I felt the need to go out and level four more for better synergy.

All that is true, but the implication I left was that in order to enjoy success at the tournament, you must level and then level some more.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope.

Ahem.

There once was a Shaman named Hiemalis
who healed and chattily charmed us.
The Tournament she won
with skill second to none
and twenty-five pets in her toolbox.

That’s right.

One of the friends I made over the course of the old IceCrown Citadel cross-realm heroic achievement runs was Hiemalis, who at the time was tanking for us on her Bear.

We were chatting earlier in the week, and she was lamenting the way her schedule was going to prevent her from raiding with her guild. That whole real life thing in the outdoors and all, you know how it is.

I mentioned that Team WANDA and the Band of Misfits were going to do our weekly Flex Raid on Thursday, and she’d be very welcome to join us.

She said she’d bring her heals and her charm, and I have to admit, she was true to her word and brought an abundant measure of both. She also brought a few of her friends along with, and they were quite fun to have as well.

As the night progressed, and we normally taciturn Misfits dubbed her ‘the talky shaman’, I learned that she has defeated the Celestial Tournament each week herself, just like I had.

Except, of course, in her case she did it while only having 25 pets leveled to 25.

Let me say that again. It bears repeating.

Hiemalis-Kargath (US) defeated the first week of the Celestial Tournament with only 25 pets at max level.

The Tournament doesn’t sound so all-fired impossible and grindy now, does it?

I asked her the secret to her success, and she told me it was fun to match up lots of different abilities that worked great together.

In other words, she prefers synergy teams and smart play to brute force. And clearly, she can pull it off.

She ran down every pet she used for every fight off the top of her head, and why they worked. I asked why she didn’t use one pet over another, like a Darkmoon Zeppelin instead of a Personal World Destroyer, and of course the answer was because she didn’t have one.

Some of the pets she used against tamers I used as well, like Gnarly/Chuck when facing Chen Stormstout. But for the most part, I was sitting there looking at the list of pets she matched against tamers and the mini-Celestials, thinking “Wow, don’t I feel like a dumbass for not being able to get it done with 95. Talk about an abundance of riches.”

Because it’s the truth. Where I looked for brute force solutions first, and fell back on synergy when all else failed, she looked for fun combinations to work together as the first choice.

I won’t list the pets she used or her strategies here. If she wants to share them, then I think it’s only right she share them herself and get the appropriate measure of respect and admiration she’s earned.

At the time of my writing this, while we are still in the midst of the second week of the Celestial Tournament, a glance at her WoW Armory account shows she still only has a grand total of 30 pets at max level, including all the ones she told me she used in the Tournament…

And also Xu-Fu, the Cub of Xuen, currently at 10th level, the perfect proof that she has done what she said and in the way that she said she did it.

I wanted to share this story not to make you or me feel bad, but to show you that it is possible for someone with skill, talent and an abundance of creative thinking to win the Celestial Tournament with 25 pets. And that’s not even with the ‘perfect’ set of pets, but the ones she had that she made the best use of.

I think a heartfelt ‘well done’ is in order, don’t you?

You know what else I like?

I like seeing that she has taken the trouble to name all of her max level pets. As if she formed an attachment to them and thinks of them as her actual pets when she takes them out to play.

It shows that you CAN mix playful fun with a determination to win, the best of both worlds…. of Warcraft.

Oh God, what a cheesy sign off sentence.

I love it so much, I’m leaving it there.

The Celestial Tournament, Revisited

Welcome to week two of World of Warcraft patch 5.4, and that means the second live week of the Celestial Tournament.

For those of you just tuning in, the Celestial Tournament is a brand new venue for you to enjoy a pet battle challenge, so long as you meet the requirement, which is to have at least 25 pets each leveled to 25.

In previous patches, new pet battle tamers were added that were significantly tougher to deal with than those that came before. Specifically, the Pandaren Spirit Tamers, and then the Beasts of Fable.

Those patches introduced us to the idea of tamers with teams of epic (or legendary) pets, and also ‘boss pet’ fights, where you bring an entire team to try and take down one single, super tough and hard-hitting pet.

The Celestial Tournament rolls both of those into one event, with a new twist; a sequence of fights with no healing or pet resurrections allowed between matches. None.

When you do accept the quest to take part in the Celestial Tournament on the Timeless Isle, you are transported to a scenario version of the Isle itself.

You find yourself within the massive courtyard of the Celestials on the Timeless Isle, and it is fully populated with the mini-Celestials themselves. Also, many famous personalities in the game are there as tamers with their pet teams, there are vendors that sell noodles, and basically it’s like a little village dedicated to celebrating your taking part in this tournament.

The courtyard in the scenario, just as in the shared Timeless Isle, has a set of steps leading up and out, and yes, you can take this opportunity to leave the courtyard and explore the Isle, without monsters or players or encounters or treasure of any kind.

The scenario makes for a perfect opportunity for you if you love taking screenshots of the scenery without having random Ordos minion and three players named “Dickcheeselolz” strolling across your shot. You can wander around most of the island without any problem, no other soul at all to deal with. I can’t say that it is all clear, or that there are no secrets lurking in a cave somewhere because I haven’t fully explored it yet, but so far no sign of surprises.

For the Tournament itself, your first challenge on entering the Tournament courtyard is to defeat three famous people who have teams of their own. You can challenge these three tamers in any order you would like. The only thing is, you have to defeat all three before you can move on to the next step.

There are nine potential tamers, split into groups of three. Each week, you have no idea which group of three tamers will be there to fight. The members of each group are always the same, but which group you get changes from week to week.

Maybe one week you get Wrathion, Chen Stormstout and Taran Zhu as the three tamers. Maybe it’s Sully, Loremaster Cho and Doctor Ion.

The point is, if that is the group you get, it will always be that group for the remainder of the week until reset, and of those three, they will always have the same three pets each. From my playing, it seems each pet will also always start in the same order, so planning a counter-team strategy is very possible.

As I said, your first challenge is to defeat all three of these tamers, in any order you wish to face them, but you are not allowed to use bandages or pet rezzes or other ‘out of combat’ pet healing in between fights.

Your pets CAN self-resurrect and use healing abilities in the fights themselves.

I find myself leaning heavily on humanoid pets that get a little self-healing every time they do damage, mechanical pets that get to spontaneously resurrect once when killed, and undead pets that come back as unkillable engines of destruction for one round after dying. I’m not saying that’s a good strategy, I guess what I’m saying is my subconscious apparently likes that ‘crutch’ to rely on greater longevity from inherent pet mechanics rather than from a well thought out strategy of my own.

How it tends to play out is you field a team of pets, and at least some of them will die, but at least one has to live to beat a tamer. Once that fight is over, any of your pets that died stay dead for the rest of that instance of the Tournament scenario. Any pets that lived get the familiar ‘after fight pet heal’ of a few hundred health, and thus can be used in another fight.

Suppose you zone into the Celestial Tournament, face down Wrathion and get your face chewed because you thought all three of his pets were dragonkin types, and the fact the first is an undead takes you by surprise. You get your ass handed to you.

You can choose to leave the scenario at any time you please, after any fight. When you leave the scenario, all progress you have made is lost, but you can heal your pets, immediately requeue and enter the Tournament for a fresh shot.

What this means is, you can build your initial idea of a team, go in and take on a tamer, fight it out, and analyze your own performance. If you defeated him but want to refine your strategy for all the weeks to come and really nail down that perfect team, you can leave the scenario, change abilities. Heal the team. Move pets around. Swap in a different choice for a position.

For true clarity, you can change your teams, abilities, swap pets, anything and everything inside the scenario itself EXCEPT heal or rez. If you’d like, you can take as many attempts against the same tamer as you want, so long as you have the pets alive to put in the battle. One team dies, you can immediately build a new team of different fresh pets and try again. Every pet down, however, is lost to you for the rest of the time you are in the Tournament scenario. You don’t get to use those again later.

The only time the Tournament remains completed is when you’ve beaten the entire thing.

After the three tamers are down, you are given the second stage of the Tournament. Each of the four Celestials has a mini-me version Legendary pet, and you must face each one down individually just like defeating four Beasts of Fable. Call them the Celestials of Legend if you like.

You can challenge any of the four in any order you’d like, and you get your full team of three just like with the Beasts of Fable.

Once you have defeated all four Celestial pets, you have won the Celestial Tournament for that week. You can stay and explore for as long as you’d like with no timer that I’ve ever found, or you can choose to ‘leave the instance’ via the interface button and return to where you were standing next to the Tournament quest-giver (and Celestial Coin vendor).

Each time you complete this Tournament, you get one Celestial Coin. It costs three such coins to buy your choice of one of the Celestial pets.

The very FIRST time you complete the Tournament, after turning in the quest there will be a follow up quest giving you two more coins. This means that, the very first week you win the Celestial Tournament you will be able to buy one of the four pets and enjoy the victory with a new friend.

It will take three victories (and thus three weeks) after that first win to earn enough coins to get one of the remainder of the pets.

So. All clear? Good. Damn, that was a lot of hot air to make sure the framework was laid down.

The first thing that becomes clear is, any pet you use on a team that dies cannot be used on another team later. Any pet you use that gets wounded CAN be used again, but unless they are healed back up to full you will face another fight with a weakened team.

The first week I worked up my teams against Sully, Doctor Ion and Loremaster Cho and saved them as I went, refighting the same battle multiple times to make sure I had consistent results for next time.

My only concerns were to have teams that consistently won, and didn’t rely on that pet later in the tournament against someone else. Easy enough to do when you’re doing it live, since any pet that is dead in your roster clearly is used on another team earlier, right?

Right.

This week, I entered the Tournament and faced a different lineup of tamers from last week; Wrathion, Taran Zhu and Chen Stormstout.

Again, I built teams on the fly, starting with Wrathion, then moving on to Chen, and finally going to take on Taran Zhu.

That is when I realized how badly I’d screwed up. My first problem was, I wasn’t happy with my Chen team. I open with my Darkmoon Zeppelin, a solid fighter against Chen with a heavy hitting missile, Decoys to open the fight, and when I’m about to die anyway a huge hitting bomb to take them with me.

The problem I was having was if the missile missed once, I usually lost. Also, I wasn’t happy with my third pet against the Elemental. Sure, I won a few times, but it felt like I was relying on RNG a ton to get a lucky series of hits while suffering the reduced hit chance.

Then against Taran Zhu, fighting an all-humanoid Pandaren Monk team, it occured to me I used not only my Monk but my Anubisath Idol in my team to take down the dragonkins of Wrathion. I needed them to fight Yu’la if I followed last week’s strategy against the dragon Celestial.

Oh crap. I used up pets earlier I’m going to need later. And I don’t like the pets I’m selecting as long term solutions against Chen and Taran Zhu.

Although, and let me be perfectly blunt here… against Taran Zhu, I love love LOVE the Creepy Crate and Bonestorm. It’s hilarious. I get to use The LUGGAGE in battle finally! Just wonderful, cheers me up no end.

But it was still an amazing feeling. I was sitting there struggling to build a consistent team against Taran Zhu, realizing I had to go back and rethink my entire team build against Wrathion to free up pets to use against Yu’la later….

And I have 95 pets all rare at level 25.

There are people doing this with 25 or 30. Here I am, Tuesday night, I’ve got 95 pets to choose from and I’m scouring my roster looking for a good mix, and realizing there are at least four more pets I really should take the time to level up to solidify my teams.

HOLY CRAP. How can I still need more pets?

See, the thing is there are three different kinds of strategies to use.

There are pets that rely on being strong defending against an attack type. You know what kinds of attacks the enemy will use, and you bring in a pet that takes reduced damage from those attacks.

There are pets that rely on having attack types particularly strong against the enemy, relying on doing massive damage in a short enough period of time that the enemy doesn’t steamroll you.

And there are the synergy strategies. Fights designed around using a team with complimentary abilities against the enemy. A pet that sets up the fight by Blinding or Bleeding or Chilling the opponent, and then the rest of your roster has abilities that capitalize on that by always hitting, doing massive damage or stunning.

The ideal pet for a brute force approach to a fight is the pet that is strong in defense against the majority of an enemies attacks and is strong in the attack against that enemy type. You stand behind your wall and lob nukes. Kinda hard to beat that strategy.

Developing a strategy around pet ability synergy is, to me, more satisfying. But it’s also harder, right? You need to know your pets, their abilities, the strength and weakness dials and your opponent to craft a nice synergy team.

When it works, though. Oh, that moment when your enemy is Bleeding and you pop Blood in the Water for a guaranteed hit on a double damage attack? Ooooh, that feels good. I’m looking at you, elemental on Chen.

This has gotten ridiculously long, and I apologise.

What I’ve been wondering about this last week is how the addition of the Celestial Tournament has affected pet battle as a gametype for players.

We were told what the gate to entry was in advance. 25 pets at max level, and you could get in. Then that was reduced to 15, I think it was. Not really sure, since I’m way beyond that point.

The thing is, I’ve got a reasonable stable of pets to choose from, and I spent months trying to pick a wide variety of solid pets to level so each family would be well represented. I didn’t level, say, 15 critters and 1 flyer. I tried to balance it all out.

And even still, with over 95 pets at max level now (warcraftpets only shows I have 92 at max level, but it doesn’t count the pets I have two or three of at max) I am still looking at my roster and thinking, “None of my pets have the moveset I really need, I should level up my Gnarly to be part of this team.”

That is a lot of pet leveling. A lot.

When the Celestial Tournament went live, I went in and was excited to have enough pets to have the fights be really challenging, but feel like I had plenty to draw from to build teams and get the job done. I won the first night, and I thought that was fair because of the months of leveling I spent beforehand, nothing but leveling in preparation for the Tournament.

Yes, that is sad. I spent months to be ready to win a PvE pet battle tournament. The lengths a grown man will go to, just to get that spectral tiger kitty pet, I guess.

This week, it went live and it took me four days of attempts, rebuilding teams and the leveling of four more pets to max before I could get it done, and yes, in the end I had to build a synergy team for Chen because brute force wasn’t cutting it against the hit debuff.

The feeling of satisfaction was even greater, but at the same time it was frustrating to go in and try again and again, and look for new pets in my roster to try something different, and to finally accept that I was going to have to go level some more to continue.

What if I didn’t have all of these other pets to choose from? What if I had gone in with only 30 or 35 pets at max level, thinking I was above the cap needed so I had a cushion, and then found out I really couldn’t field anything that had a chance to make it all the way through the whole shebang?

The big question. Now that the roof of pet battles has been raised with the Celestial Tournament, do you feel overwhelmed at all it takes to fight inside?

And should there be an expansion for pet battles that goes in the opposite direction?

Cassie liked the idea of pet battles until she learned that you had to match pet types and abilities and all that to win. She wanted to pet battle as a role playing type of thing, by picking pets as though they were PETS, with names and personalities, and take those pets she loved out on adventures.

When you have to strategize and min/max abilities and pet types and swap pets out for advantage, it removes a level of personal involvement with the pet.

By way of comparison, you go from being the Hunter that has only ever had one pet since level 1 (or ten when you could tame another), has named your pet and traveled across the entire world with your best friend by your side…. to that hunter that the raid expects to swap your stat beast in and out based on what special buff it can provide the group.

So she doesn’t like the Tournament, and pet battling in specific. She’s fine with the lower level fights that allow her to bring a team of her pet friends. The more it requires a specific pet for a task, the less fun it is.

Has the Celestial Tournament had any of that kind of impact on you? Do you wish we had more RP opportunities with our pets?

No, not costumes.

Would you like to see something added going in a different direction. An adventuring or questing path that focused on you leveling your pets by taking control of them on adventures of some sort?

For that, I refer you to the Alliance quest in the Operation: Barrens that had you take control of a robot remote controlled cat to scout the Horde positions. Clearly, there was some effort put into a player being able to take control of a pet with the abilities of the pet on an action bar.

Would you like to see that explored in the game, expanded on in more detail? Something where you could have your pet Pumpkin the Feline Familiar fly through obstacles to get to the halloween candy, or something else probably a lot more fun? Something less stat vs stat driven.

The blog post that would never end. I blame not blogging about pet battles since I got obsessed.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts about any or all of this in the comments, okay? I live in a bubble and I’m curious what folks think.