Looking for more than Group

Last year, on November 14th, quite a few of us within the WoW community took part in what we called the Raid for the Cure.

It was an in-game event for both factions on the Kael’thas-US server intended to increase awareness of the importance of early testing for breast cancer.

A lot of wonderful people, including many of my readers at the time, all got together that Saturday afternoon and took part in the event. It was an amazing experience to be a part of.

All cheesy BS aside, I know that I felt really choked up by how many people came out to take part in the run across the realms, and wore Pink Mageweave shirts and /danced and generally had a great time together.

Several people took the time to whisper me during the event, and email me both before and after the event, to share with me their own personal stories of how breast cancer had touched their lives, and how they were taking part in the run as a way to once again feel closer to the person or in some cases people in their lives that breast cancer had taken from them.

Being a part of something like that, even for just one day, really reminds me why the “massively multiplayer” part of this game makes such a difference. We do have the power, all of us together, to transcend the programmed intent of the game and make of it something else, something with great personal meaning for each us, if we decide we want to.

And then we go back to the serious business of smacking Arthas upside his head.

I was asked yesterday by Kit in an email if we intended doing another Raid for the Cure again this year, a RftC2.

Sort of, kinda, but not really.

Yes, we do intend to try and organize a charitable event in-game across both factions on the Kael’thas-US server.

What we are not doing is continuing with the Raid for the Cure theme for a second year.

Last year, we had a very personal reason for organizing the Raid for the Cure. Julie’s diagnosis, and her battle with breast cancer, caused within us a desire to show our support for her. It was a personal cause, not a general one.

This year, Cassie and I want to show our support for a different cause, one that has intense personal meaning to our family, one that is really never far from our thoughts.

Our own personal lives have been touched, very deeply, by Heart Disease.

Cassie’s maternal grandmother died of complications arising from her battle with heart disease on June 4, 2007, and within less than three weeks, her father had passed away very suddenly from heart disease as well on June 21st.

Cassie was devastated by this, she was just torn apart. I really don’t have the words to describe how close her relationship was with her father, a wonderful, caring, loving man. He was such an incredibly warm-hearted man, I felt so welcomed by him into his home and the incredibly warm extended family that he had helped nurture, that even within the brief time that I knew him, I have only ever felt pride in choosing to take her family’s name instead of keeping my own when Cassie and I married.

The biggest factor that caused Cassie to begin playing WoW was as an attempt to find a means to distract herself from her grief at her father’s passing, and though several years have passed, it’s been clear to see that her grief remains as fresh today as it was when he passed years ago.

That is why this year we’d like to organize an in-game event meant to heighten awareness of the risks of heart disease, and to be a time of remembrance and celebration of the lives of those of us we loved, and still miss, that have been taken from us by heart disease.

It’s a very personal cause for us, and I know that I would feel joy in thinking that I had done something, however small, in helping to support organizations that are working to find solutions.

What we’d like to do, starting now when there are still months to go before October/November, is to ask for volunteers who would be willing to work with Cassie and I in planning the event, organizing it, and running it when it happens.

The event we will work towards and take part in will be on the Kael’thas-US server, both Alliance and Horde side. If someone likes the idea, and wants to organize one of their own on a European server, I’ll certainly be happy to advertise it on my blog if you let me know the details.

We’ve got some ideas, but now is the time to really get a plan going, and we can’t do it without your support.

This event is going to completely driven by the individuals that want to come forward and take an active part, a true community activity, and everyone that wants to participate in the planning stages or wish to offer their services as event volunteers are not only welcome, but needed!

So if you’re interested in taking part in this with us, with a planned event date somewhere in the end of October, or early November, please email me at tigerlordgm AT yahoo DOT com.

I can tell you one thing… Cassie pointed out that the Red Linen Shirts look quite attractive, and the mats are certainly a lot easier to come by than the Pink Mageweave ones. Cassie told me she could see a vision of the event, and a scene of dozens of players wearing bright red shirts, forming the shape of a big old heart in the middle of Barrens. Is she the only one that sees that vision?


Limping into Children’s Week

Another year has passed, and another opportunity for collecting non-combat pets (or vanity pets, or whatever you’d like to call our little friends) comes around again.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I blew this off the first couple of years on my main. I’m still chasing pets from doing Orphan quests.

This year I was fairly excited to begin the runs. I was determined this time that I’d grit my teeth and persevere through the PvP achievements to complete the overall week as one step closer to “What a Long Strange Trip”, and also, this would be the first time doing it on the Horde side.

Of course, the pets you can get are the same, but I’d never dragged the Orphan around Barrens before.

It didn’t take long to complete both Shattrath and Orgrimmar Orphan quest chains. I ate a bunch of sweets in front of a wanna-be rocking Blood Elf brat, and I even killed a King in front of her.

Not exactly sure what message I’m supposed to be trying to send her by killing a King before her very green eyes. That this too must pass? That no matter how important you are, a dagger between the shoulder blades will really crimp your style? That 5 max level and geared players can kick one person’s butt if you all gang up on him at the same time?

Hmm. Those are all pretty good lessons to learn after all.

Regardless, I turned in the Orphan chains, I completed all the quests, and picked two new pets, leaving only one more left to collect next year, Mr. Wiggles. What can I say, if I get a pet pig, it’ll be bacon a week later. Might as well leave him for last, prolong the pleasure of anticipating a fine lunch.

So, every achievement except the PvP ones are done, every Orphan quest chain except the Oracles turned in. Time to go to Dalaran, right?

I was well prepared for the PvP. Thanks to Cynwise’s outstanding guide to the event, I felt that I had at least a fighting chance to get it all done… IF I started early, of course. And if I went in prepared and determined to kick ass.

All set, ready to rock, queued for Arathi Basin and gonna kick some massive Gnome butt.

47 minutes in queue for AB later, and it pops…

1 minute after I finally decided to turn in the Orgrimmar orphan, and 2 minutes before I would have picked up the Dalaran Orphan chain. Or thought I would have.

Not the most auspicious of beginnings.

Okay, this time I’m going to make damn sure I’ve got my Orphan, and THEN I’ll queue. I just didn’t expect the delayed queue for a BG when PvP was a big part of Children’s Week achievements.

Off to Dalaran, and I talk to the fine lady who provides such a wonderful parenting example, as the Oracle and Wolvar children chase around, trying to kill each other.

She… she doesn’t want to entrust me with an Oracle orphan. /shocked!

I is a sad bear. But… but I can be good to him! Is true! Why wouldn’t you trust me? Look at this huge horny face! How could you not trust these horns!

And I really need that kid, lady, because there is this massive war going on between Horde and Alliance, and I need some little kid following me around, to watch me carve my name into the shattered, broken carcasses of a million little gnome bodies…

Hmmm. The light, it begins to dawn.

Okay, next time, I don’t mention Battlegrounds. And I hide the massive Harpoon I carry around. It needs the blood cleaned off again, anyway, before it rusts. And, umm, the armor. Okay, so it smells. I’ll clean it next time, I know how that Ick stench really does penetrate leather, but hell, after a few weeks of wearing it without a bath, you kinda stop noticing. 

I made some inquiries, and now the word is that it’s just a mistake. That really, the Orphan lady is supposed to be willing to talk to me, but that she might just be confused after the, um, good job I did watching that Wolvar brat last September.

Hopefully, she’ll get the word from on high that, no, really, it’s okay, his clothes were just in for cleaning, that’s why I turned him in naked (hey, he had some fur left! And the burns will fade sooner or later, the little crybaby. Won’t kill steal my ass.) and I already TOLD her he had those bruises when I got him, and oh yeah, it was his fault in the first place, I TOLD him not to stand that close to the edge of Aldor Rise. And by the way, what kind of a kid just runs right off the edge when you’re flying over in flight form?

And sure, so he got a little nibbled when I was fishing up Bull Lion fish for the Kalu’ak, I didn’t expect the kid to just leap in the water and swim after me. And boy, who knew the kid could swim that fast? No matter how far out into the ocean amongst the sharks and icebergs, no matter how fast I turned around, there he was, moving like a little furry torpedo. If he wanted to keep those toes, he should have used the shark repellant.

Ah well. I’m sure she’ll talk to me again. Just as soon as the bribes kick in.

Until then, I’ll be lonely and sad, for there are gnomes to extinguish, and it’s just no fun without an audience!

The Week of the Phoenix

This is going to be a slightly different post for me, but I’d like to ask that you bear with me on this one for a few minutes, because the feelings behind it are very important to me.

I’d like to start, by asking you to try and remember back a few years to 2008, and the story of a young boy named Ezra Chatterton. 

Ezra Chatterton, for those that might not have played WoW back then, was a charming ten year old boy that suffered from a very serious brain tumor.

His story came to light in the WoW community when, through the works of the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard, his wish of meeting the designers and developers of his favorite game, World of Warcraft, and spending a day AS a developer was made real.

World of Warcraft was Ezra’s favorite game, because according to the story related by WoW.com, Ezra’s parents were divorced, and Ezra’s main method of spending time with his father was through playing together, and talking together while they were both online in WoW.

WoW was a bonding experience that helped bring father and son closer together, even though they lived quite far apart. 

The story of a father and son brought closer together through a shared love of video games did strike a very personal chord with me, and it was only too easy to imagine how I’d feel if it was my own son that suffered from a brain tumor, and an uncertain future. My little wabbit slayer. 🙂

During his visit with Blizzard, and his day as a guest designer, Ezra, whose in-game name for his Tauren Hunter was ePhoenix, took part in helping design many small features that are still to be found in the game.

He helped design and do voiceovers for a new NPC, Ahab Wheathoof, that can be found in the Tauren starting town of Bloodhoof Village near Mulgore, and also designed the quest Ahab gives you, which is to help find Ahab’s pet dog, Kyle, modeled after Ezra’s own dog Kyle.

Ezra also gave input on, and helped design the Season 2 PvP weapon, the Merciless Gladiator’s Crossbow of the Phoenix. A weapon that still looks really damn cool, and that my Hunter has in the bank. How can you get rid of the Phoenix bow?

Why so many references in Ezras’ story to the Phoenix? It’s because Phoenix was actually Ezra’s middle name, and he took the name his father Micah and his mother had chosen for him, and it’s mythological background, close to his heart.

The lengths the Make a Wish Foundation and Blizzard went to, to bring his dream of feeling what it was like to be a game developer for a day, really was an inspirational, sweet gesture full of heart. 

Towards the close of his  day with Blizzard, he was given one parting gift from the development team; the Ashes of Al’ar that drop from Kael’thas in The Eye, the 25 man raid instance in Burning Crusade. He was the very first person to have the Ashes of Al’ar in all of the game, the exceedingly rare drop that becomes the lovely Phoenix mount, and I think it was very appropriate and wonderful to have thought of.

Not too long after the story of Ezra and his day with Blizzard came to our attention, WoW.com shared the news that Ezra had passed away on October 20th, 2008, after complications resulting from a stroke.

So, why am I bringing this up now?

Well, here’s the thing.

One thing that is talked about a lot these days, here and elsewhere, is how things feel like they’ve changed recently in the game.

With the addition of random Battlegrounds, random Looking For Dungeon tools, weekly Raid quests that get advertised, filled, knocked off and then party abandoned, even pug ICC raids, it’s become increasingly easy in the game to log in, join a series of groups, play in group content for hours, and then log off without ever having shared an actual moment of personal interaction with anyone else.

For me, the story of Ezra is, at least in part, the story of how a video game that is designed to make it easy to bring people closer together CAN be a place where families and distant friends can get to spend some valuable time together that they might not have had otherwise.

Yes, it’s time spent in a virtual world, but it’s time with REAL people that you know, love, and miss, people that you can’t be near in real life at that moment.

The distance between people in game, the ease the random group systems make it to slip away into isolation from other people… these are things I think about often, and Ezra’s story stays there in the back of my head, as counterpoint to what the game can be.

I’d like to try and do something with you, the readers of the blog, as a joint effort to remember Ezra. A little event where we could each get together and remember him, and the joy he took in having the game help him be closer to his dad, by doing something with friends and family.

What I’d like to propose is this.

If you read this blog, and if you are willing to take part in this with me, then approach your guild leaders, raid leaders or officers, and ask them if they would kindly put up a raid sometime during the next week or so to go into The Eye, the 25 man Burning Crusade raid, and try for a Phoenix mount drop, in honor of the ePhoenix.

Make it a special occasion that holds the spirit of the game to heart; you and your fellow friends and guild members, and of course your family if they play, getting together to have fun, to bond, and to spend time doing something just to be together as friends in the game.

I know it must seem corny, but it would bring a smile to my face to think of people playing WoW all across the world, seperated by physical distance but together in the game, having fun and giggling and doing silly crap, all inspired by the memory of the young boy who loved the game and the closeness it brought his family so much.

Now, here is the part that will probably sound wierdest, but I’m really serious.

Please, don’t advertise it with my name on it. Please don’t link to me, or refer to me, or have it be attached to me in any way. It’s not a Bear thing. It’s an “all of us” thing.

If you do want to spread the word, please do not mention me in any way. Just take the idea on your own, and mention it as something you’d like to do.

Where the idea comes from isn’t important.

I want this, for the people who agree that it’d be a nice thing to do, to be all about the idea, and about Ezra, and about playing together with friends instead of alone in LFD.  

If the idea of taking a few hours out of the week to remember how precious it is that we can get together with friends and most especially family members from all over the world and have fun appeals to you, just bring the idea back to your guild, and try to make it happen.

Any of you that do this next week, whether you get a Phoenix mount or not, I’d just like to know how it went for you. Whether you had fun, what craziness you may have gotten into. Just drop me a line at my email, and let me know.

If by some chance you do have a Phoenix mount drop, send me a screenshot if you think about it. Cassie and I would love to see it. 🙂

I don’t know, maybe it sounds stupid on the outside. Maybe folks just have much more important things to do, or things to think about. But the older Alex gets, the more I think of Ezra and his father… and of how precious having these few moments to spend together really are.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I wish everyone a wonderful Saint Patrick’s Day today, wherever you may be,  and wherever you may be from.

Here in the United States, it’s an interesting occasion, as a lot of folks consider it an excuse to get drunk and act the fool, without any appreciat for or understanding of what the heck it’s supposedly all about.

I ain’t gonna get into any of that “What it’s all about” stuff meself, since you either know already, or you most likely dinnae care.

I heard one statistic this morning on the way in to work that the population of Ireland, where, like, actual Irish people live, is around 4.5 million, while the number of Americans that consider themselves Irish-American, or of Irish descent and are proud enough of it to mark such on their census/statistics forms numbers over 35 million.

So… are we Ireland in exile? Or just a whole bunch of people that wished we were more exotic than we actually are?

“Oh, I’m not JUST an American… I’m an IRISH American! I’m different! I’m a special little snowflake!”

Yep, just like the other 34 million, 999 thousand, 999 people.

And I’m one of ’em!

Today, in celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day, I shall spend the day not in wild drunken debauchery, but instead involved in a more subdued, yet still honest series of micro-actions. Kinda like my own subversive, anti-establishment version of observance.

First, I am not “wearing green”, as the tradition over here goes. Instead, under my uniform shirt, I am wearing my “Irish Brigade” t-shirt that I bought while visiting Gettysburg a couple of years ago. It’s quite tasteful, and I love it dearly.

Second, I shall take home with me a very small quantity of the Guinness, and tonight, after Alex is in bed and sleeping the sleep of the innocent, I shall drink it while enjoying that awesome classic film, “The Quiet Man” on DvD.

Ah, I do love that movie, and it’s entirely different pace. The fact it includes the most awesomest battle sequence on the planet is just a bonus.

Yes, “most awesomest” is a real phrase. Well, at least it should be.

I’d like to attribute my more relaxed enjoyment of the day as being a reflection on how I’m getting more mature as I get older… but I think I’m just boring. 🙂

It’s been a long, long time since I spent Saint Patrick’s Day on River Street in Savannah, Georgia, getting completely obliterated and having an insane time. A long time, and lot of water under the bridge.

To any Marines that stagger down to River Street this week for the festivities, or for anyone anywhere that takes a few moments to enjoy the day in some special way, Sláinte!

Saint Patrick was a gentleman,
Who through strategy and stealth,
Drove all the snakes from Ireland,
Here’s a toasting to his health.

But not too many toastings
Lest you lose yourself and then
Forget the good Saint Patrick
And see all those snakes again.

‘Beannachtam na Feile Padraig!’
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Retro raids, revisited!

I’d mentioned a long time ago that one of the things we like to do instead of actual raids, is to have fun in older, less frequently visited content.

Along those lines, Cassie put up the Black Temple on our raid calender, and the Sidhe Devils went in tonight and for the first time sought to explore it’s vast, cavernous interior.

Most of us had never seen it, and of those that had, we didn’t have any that had gone the distance. Most of the boss explanations we gleaned from World of Raids or Wowwiki, and then we winged it.

There were anywhere from 12 to 15 of us at any given moment, all but 2 level 80.

We had two tanks to start, myself as Feral Druid and Caladorn as Prot Paladin, and Sux as Feral Druid backup in case we needed a third. We quickly changed the plan to being one tank, me, and Sux as second tank if and when we needed one, which was rarely.

We went in with three healers, Jardal on Tree duty, Shadewynn on Priest and Kitsen as Shaman for a nice rounded mix.

Everyone else was DPS, and a lot of that was melee.

We cleared Black Temple, a new group learning as we went, in 3.5 hours exactly (30 minutes of that spent taking an afk break for bio), without a single wipe.

In fact, the only fight that we found truly taxing was Mother, and the Illidari Council of course.

Over the course of the evening, we reached Honored with the Ashtongue, we witnessed epic struggles, took part in bringing down Illidan Stormrage himself…

…and saw the drop of a legendary Warglaive go to Kaelynn the Rogue.

It was a wonderful night, sure to be remembered for a long time. Having nothing but friends by your side as you fight legendary battles, rather than pugging another meaningless heroic, is a priceless gift.

If you’re in a guild with a bunch of friends, and you occasionally find yourself at loose ends trying to think of something fun and different to do… why not give it a try?

I leave you with a few parting snapshots. 🙂





Thank you, Veterans!

United_States_Department_of_Veterans_Affairs_Veterans_Day_2009_posterTo all Veterans, I offer you my heartfelt thanks on this day, and all days, for all that you do and have done in the name of liberty, freedom, duty and justice.

I strive to remember, on this day and all days, that the liberties I enjoy, the freedom that I have to live my life, to spend time with my family in peace, to work for a better life, and even to spend time in idle play within the virtual world of a video game  or to blog about it endlessly, is all due to your hard work and personal sacrifice.

Veterans, truly, for all that you have done, and all that you continue to do, you have my gratitude, freely and without reservation.

God bless you.

And as a veteran myself, thank you to Dechion for your well wishes today, and for being far more eloquent than me. 🙂


I have no f’ing words for this one.

Except maybe… “When the frak is December gonna get here?!?”

I loved the guy early on wearing the olive drab t-shirt with the muted old skool Eagle, Globe & Anchor on it…. damn, that sent a little thrill through me.


No, hell with that, I’ve watched it like 5 times now, and yes I DO have the words.

Watching that trailor, for the very first time since a day in a movie theater in Atlanta in the mid-eighties, I feel that exact same thrill race through me that I felt when watching Aliens for the first time. Watching, and knowing that what I am seeing is not only up to my expectations, but has blown way past them to set a new freaking benchmark.

That feeling, sitting there and watching, unable to form a coherent thought other than “Omigod that is so cool, that is so cool, that is so cool, that is so cool.”