Halloween Challenges Galore!

Welcome to another All Hallows Eve season. I hope you’ve been enjoying it!

World of Warcraft has expanded on what is one of my favorite in-game celebrations, and brought us not one but TWO new pets to pursue, in addition to the little pumpka-dude.

This, of course, comes about 3 days after I finally reached 150 in-game pets on my Druid. Those last two pets seem kinda… well, superfluous now. Ah, well. Getting a start on the inevitable 200 pet achieve, right? Bright side, bright side.

The new kitty pet is cute, but the Creepy Crate… just, omigod.

The Creepy Crate… easts critters. It is the critter chomping crate.

Awesome, right?

I mean, I know that this certainly does reinforce the notion that those Blizzard artists, boy, they sure are serious about wanting WoW to have fewer silly things, huh? Sure does put that argument to rest. /sarcasm.

You might think that the new Creepy Crate was all win, no downside at all, but I’m here to tell you the new pet threw the BBB household into a bit of turmoil.

Our son Alex is eight, and he has the attention span of a ferret on hot chocolate. He gets enthusiasms, stays on something for a few days, then wanders off to something else for a while.

Credit where it is due, he has beaten both Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2 on the Wii (thanks to an incredible reader that sent me a copy of MG2, for which I still remain exceedingly grateful). He plays games, specializing in Mario. He loves Bullet Bills, he knows the names, he has the moves.

He also, yes, has his own World of Warcraft account, but after the first paid month we let it lapse. He simply didn’t use it much. A few days here, a few days there.

With great joy, therefore, we set him up with a free WoW account soon after they were available.

Limited to level 20 on a free account? No problem! All Alex wants to do is log onto a level 5 dwarf shaman, equip a fishing pole and run around fishing. And exploring Ironforge and Stormwind, taking the tram back and forth. We can group with him, and I can take him on Dragon rides around the world. It’s all good.

Oh yeah, there is one other thing.

Alex loves killing critters.

Bunnies. Frogs. Deer. Sheep. Whatever.

I’ve told the tale of Alex the Wabbitslayer before, but he cemented his place in the critter gitter hall of fame when he proudly showed me his secret cow level in Stormwind, where there are usually 5 cows all in a clump out in a farmers field. Cows that are just itching to be whipped to death with a fishing pole, apparently.

This disturbs Cassie, who has this policy of never, ever, ever allowing a critter to come to harm through her actions.

I say, it’s better than having him setting real critters on fire in the backyard… and don’t think I ain’t watching fer the signs.

Alex saw me on my Druid last night, saw me complete the quest chain for the Creepy Crate, and then watched in stunned amazement as I went down into the Ironforge Tram and let the crate feed on rats for a while.

Oh yeah, that did it. He wanted one. Badly. A critter-eating crate pet? Oh, heck yes.

So, the BBB household faced its first true test of the season; can a level 5 free account get a Creepy Crate?

No. No, a level 5 cannot get the first quest of the chain. We tried.

Thus begins our little drama. Sadness. Crushed spirits. Dissappointment, bringing a sudden lack of interest in continuing last night.

You see, he was really excited, he got his hopes up. Once he had those hopes up and went to try and do it on his own character, and found out he could not, that he was denied, he really felt bad.

So, as I talked to him afterwards, Cassie took up the challenge. She began researching what it would take.

A little research revealed that it was possible for a level 10 character to get the quest, and to actually complete it and get a Creepy Crate.

Okay, first goal. Level his character to 10. 

This became a surprise pain. No heirlooms, no problem, right? Of course not. We’re master-class WoW professionals.

But also, no money. No money to train, no money for gear upgrades, not even from vendors. No money by playing the Auction House, you can’t use the AH on a free account. No money for flight paths.

No money from friends or trades, you can’t even USE the mailbox on a free account. And nobody can trade with you. Not money, not items.

So, you quest, you get quest rewards, you loot cash from mobs you kill and from the quest turn-ins.

I got his little Dwarf to level 8 last night, and called it. Wasn’t hard, was just a grind.

Cassie picked it up again this morning and pushed the rest of the way to 10. Go go Cassie levelbot!

After training, and buying a vendor axe for the off-hand, Alex had a level 10 Dwarf Shaman with… 6 silver and some copper.

But he could get the quest! Hurrah!

This evening, after dinner, we revealed to Alex what we had done, and told him that we would work together to do the quest chain, and at the end he would have a Creepy Crate for his very own.

Ah, the excitement! The delight! His little face lit up with pure joy.

It will be one of those moments that I carry with me and hold tight, cherished as a warm, cheerful glow for when I’m old(er), and gray(er), and he has begun legal proceedings to declare me senile and put me in a home so I’m not a bother.

Doing the quest chain together was a lot of fun, we had to run everywhere on foot, because, well he is level 10, and I’d done it on my Druid already, and I don’t have any others that have passenger vans. Err, who can carry a friend around.

As Indy might say, “We’re on foot from here!”

We ran around, we did everything together, when we had to follow the trail of purple spiders I took a step back and let Alex the mighty spider-sniffer lead us along the trail. He likes being the leader, even when he has no bloody idea where we’re going. It’s enough that someone is following him for a change.

Everything went great, right up to the point where we had to get 5 Blood Nettles, 5 Arcane Powder and 5 Crystal Vials.

Guess what? Vials are cheap and Blood Nettles are free, but the Arcane Powder were going to cost him 9 silver 50 copper. EACH. Times 5? Do the math.

Little dude had 4 silver. Screwed, we were.

Ah, shit.

Think, think…. there had to be some way to cheat like a bastard. It’s a video game, there is ALWAYS a way to cheat in a video game. We choose not to cheat in video games, we never said we couldn’t figure out how.

Ah hah!

I’m already grouped with Alex, so we know that works.

What is the goal?

Earn money in sufficient quantity to buy his quest items, minimum 50 silver, in the quickest and easiest fashion possible.

It took 5 levels to get 12 silver, so that is flat out.

But… high level mobs drop higher-value money per kill… plus vendor trash drops. And weapon drops at level 60 are frequently worth a gold all by themselves.

Time to test.

I get on my Druid, we group up, I put it on Group Loot: Free For All, pop Dragonform and fly him out to Burning Steppes, where there are swarms of mobs.

A fast kitty whompas through the crowds, and there are a ton of dead bodies littering the barren wastes.

Can he loot my kills?

Why yes he can!

Five minutes later, he had a few gold in cash plus some sweet vendor trash, and away we went back to Stormwind, and carried on brilliantly, thank you.

Yes, he did complete the quest, and yes, I anticipated the point where the level 84 bad guys pop out when you intercept the meeting. Except I think his bad guy was level-appropriate for him. It went so fast I didn’t get a good check on it, but we both turned in our quests, and I swear two mobs popped out, and mine was 84 and lasted a few good hits, but I think his target was level 10 like him and died in an eyeblink. Something I need to check on an alt.

We went and endured the long chat scenes, waiting patiently to turn our quest in so he could get his Crate AND have the moral high ground by giving it to the Archaeology student… even if I knew the student would be all greedy anyway.

Then I watched as three people ran in, one after the other, and made sure to spam the buttons on their long quest turn-ins so Alex had to wait five minutes, with other people cutting in front of him, and never getting his turn because he just wasn’t fast enough to get that millisecond response time in on the click to turn in.

After three of those, it was time to say “Screw this for a game of soldiers” and go all the way back to Ansom, who may have been greedy, but at least he was short-winded and gave Alex a chance to finish his damn chain.

For the rest of the evening, I enjoyed watching Alex travel around Stormwind, giggling and snorting as the Crate ate… well, everything.

Including, yes, cows. And bunnies. And damn near every other thing he could find.

An evening well spent.

When I think, “I could have been raiding”… it sure does put things into perspective.

In related news, we have two Wii guitars, a drum set, and Band Hero, Lego Rock Band and Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock. Cassie has the Wii version of Metallica and Guitar Hero 5 on the way.

We could play WoW, but it can’t always be Creepy Crates and consumed cows. But it CAN always be “Daddy played bass, momma played fiddle, and little Alex was joining right in there”, whenever we’d like.

Lately, having only an hour or so to do something before an early bedtime, WoW just seems like a lot of time investment with very little family fun and excitement in return. But a good song is only 4 minutes… 5 tops.

That there is good entertainment value for my gamer doller, right there. Git ‘er done!

But for tonight… tonight, there was Creepy Crate.

May you enjoy yours at least half as much as we enjoyed ours.

When You Wish Upon a Star…

Just yesterday, I mentioned that I have no trouble findings things to keep me busy in the game without raiding.

What kind of stuff?

Well, I am playing my 85 Druid as a dual spec Kitty/Bear. Yep, two feral specs, one optimized for Kitty. I’ve run a heroic as Kitty in Bear spec, and my DPS was atrocious. It was crap. So, I’m going to see where I can take it with a fine tuned spec and planned out kitty gear.

No, don’t ask. This is my windmill, and I’ll tilt it if I want to.

Then there is that Human Warlock alt I made in honor of Fulguralis, and to give fair play to the Warlocks. My Mage tribute to Jaina and Gnomeageddin is level 71, so there is an inequity in the balance of power. Inequity? Hmm, the word sounds right but I bet that ain’t how it’s spelled. Well, damn the spellcheck, full speed ahead!

The Warlock reached level 25, and has 125 Enchanting/Tailoring. I was going to play more last night, but then…

I made a new Dwarf Shaman and sent over my two heirloom hammers.

Have you SEEN what a muscular dwarf looks like swinging two square-headed mjölnir ripoffs? The animation fits the models perfectly, which is a geeky way of saying the dwarf looks like a total badass. “Hey toad-boy, c’mere, let me say hello. Dwarves say hello by hitting you in the face with a sledgehammer. If we really like you, we hit you lots. Stand still, ya pansy! I’m jest trying to say I love ya!”

But wait, wasn’t there a Hunter? Yes, but the friends I was running heroics with ain’t been online. So, well, idle hands are the devils tools, right? And apparently the devil made me play alts.

Oh, and I farmed tons of herbs so I could make flasks so I am ready to make Cauldrons if my Hunter ever gets invited to another raid… and I’m making Truegold to get the crafted polearm made for my Druid.

It never ends, you know that?

Just going on the hunt for new non-combat pets on my Druid can last the week!

Seriously, with all this content, who the hell even has TIME to raid?

Geez, and I don’t even PvP! Can you imagine how little time there would be if I added killing slobs on top of it? Then I’d have to start building a resilience set, and a spec for slaughtering living, thinking peoples, and a macro that would scream “Screw the deeps, KILL THE HEALERS!!!”

I’m sorry, but there is just too much WoW to play. I think what I need… is a sponsorship. How am I expected to get everything done if I have to go to work every day?

Dude, seriously… people sponsor boxers, and the boxers go train. I know Curse sponsors serious raiders… I need to find someone that is willing to sponsor a World of Warcraft slacker.

And no, I won’t farm gold for you!

In Thrall we trust, all others pay cash.

Any model builders in the crowd?

Earlier this evening, our family watched the latest episode of James May’s Toy Stories on BBC America.

It’s basically a nostalgic look back on the hobbies of yesteryear, and a completely doomed attempt by a middle aged white guy to make them seem cool to the generation AFTER the Nintendo generation.

There was the model train episode, the erector set episode, and the modeling clay episode. All of which, apparently, go under different manufacturer’s trade names in England.

What? Other countries had their own versions of products? Go figure.

I enjoy the show because the inherently futile nature of James May’s quest to have kids tell him that, yes, what he did as a kid IS cool, is somehow fulfilling to me. It’s not Hamlet, but his utter cluelessness does qualify as a tragedy.

My son, on the other hand, finds this talk of toys on TV by stuffy adults interesting for it’s own sake, and we do our part by gushing over the awesomeness of what they do on the show. The model train show, for example, saw us explaining just how amazing the feat of a 15 mile working model train track was by comparing it to how far away his Grandma lives, and multiplying that by two.

Anyway, sorry. Follow the bloody link, that’ll tell you more about the show if you’re interested.

Mah point is, we watched it earlier this evening, and the topic was plastic model kits.

Well, hellfire, finally something I actually DID as a kid!

I loved putting together those damn model kits. Military planes and tanks were my subjects of choice. I was messy with glue, I didn’t have very good attention to detail, and much like Calvin and Hobbes, working canopies and landing gear, in my hands, quickly weren’t.

But that’s okay. At the same time, my other fascination was with fireworks. My stepfather sold ’em illegally out the back of a panel truck at the local swap meet. I, at the ripe old age of 12, used to actually be the one to drive the truck on my own down to the swap meet, which as I recall was held at the time at the Hialeah Race Track parking lot. this was before he became my stepfather; at the time, he was the guy that hired me to help stock shelves and work the register at his Five and Dime store, and I got the job to support my Pac-Man habit.

You know, come to think of it, my life has been filled with things that I would never let my son do in a million years, and that if I’m unlucky could still net me, or others, jail time. Maybe I need to start screening my memoirs.

I just fact checked myself. By god, I really WAS twelve when I did that. Wow. I hope my son never sees this; ain’t no way in HELL I’m letting that boy drive my car at twelve.

Where the heck? Oh right.

Plastic model kits and fireworks. It seems so obvious to juxtapose the two, doesn’t it? Who HASN’T stuck cherry bombs and M-80s up a jet’s tailpipe? C’mon, be honest. Or taken a shitload of bottle rockets, daisy chained the fuses and hot glued them to your jet’s wings to see if you could achieve powered flight.

Who else out there found out that what hot bottle rocket exhaust mostly does is melt airplane wings?

Ah, good times, good times. I still fondly recall taking the giant sized bags of plastic army men, planting them all over a huge dirt mound at the local construction site, adding tanks, and then mining the entire area with daisy chained firecrackers (Black Cat for preference) and lobbing M-80s at the stubborn ones.

Hmm. What the hell was I talking about before I got sidetracked into making things boom?

Oh right. Plastic model kits.

Our son watched the episode, and I could see the gears turning. I asked him if he’d like to build a model.

“Of course not, father, that is much too boring for me. I’d prefer a nice biscuit and a cup of tea.”

What do you think he said? He said YES!

So, he’s seven years old, and I haven’t built a model kit since I traded firecrackers for 40mm grenades.

What I do recall is Revell made a line of snap together model kits that were for beginners, models that didn’t require glue. They even had adhesive labels instead of the water decals.

I did a quick scan for plastic model kits on the internet, wondering if this was a hobby that has gone the way of the dodo, and found to my astonishment that there are thousands of kits and dozens of companies in the mix.

Too many choices, and no good places I found to find reviews from people NOT trying to sell me something.

So, I turn to you in the hopes that I might have some readers out there that still love building models, and have an awareness of the various levels of quality and sophistication (or lack thereof).

Anybody have any personal opinions on what manufacturers or brands would be good quality and skill level for a dad and seven year old to build together, with the idea that I really like my son to take the lead and figure these things out himself as we go, with my nudges? I don’t do the “let me take that and do it all for you as you watch” thing, you don’t learn anything that way.

I saw that BanBan apparently does some snap kit Gundam mech figures that look awesome, and Revell is doing snap tite Star Wars kits, and all sorts of craziness out there. And I think there were some dinosaurs available from someone.

Seriously, anybody got any knowledge of this stuff that could give us some guidance? I’d like to have some clue of what brands or kits to look for before I drag him into one of the massive local hobby stores and see him run RIGHT straight for the $300 precision scale models designed for the professional hobbyists.

I love that line. “Professional hobbyist”. Look, I’m Gallagher!

I asked him what kinds of models he’d want to try, and the categories come down to military tanks and spaceships.

Tanks and spaceships! [sniff]

I’m so proud!

Still, he didn’t know dinosaurs or giant robots were options, so I’m keeping my mind open. Or maybe it’s just that *I* want to build giant robots.

Either way!