28 September 2012

Pet Battles and Addons

Hi, I'm Chris.  I'm a Pet Battle Junky

The addition on the Pet Battles was something I scoffed at when it was announced. I was one of the seemingly few folks that wanted Pandas. Yet, pet battles?  I was never going to get into that!  I don't get Pokemon, and I assumed pet battles would be lame.

Boy, was I wrong!

I'm going to be hard pressed to get any leveling or questing or achievement hunting done because I'm spending all of my time battling critters.

Addons make this even better.  Three that I'm totally hooked on:

Can you pet battle without these?  Absolutely.  But, why wouldn't you?

25 September 2012

Tuesday Highlight

So far... hell yeah! Very much digging Mists!

I've rolled a Pandaren Monk called Foomanchoo, and I'm loving the starting area and the quests. I thought it was really cool when I learned how to Roll! Stop and consider that -- a pudgy character learning to roll! Too great!

So here I am rolling through the newbie area and I get a quest to burn some scrolls.  Maybe they gave bad advice or somehing?

I was floored by the 'wisdom' contained in my first scroll.
Where's my monkey pet?!?

22 September 2012


As we get older, we acquire scars. Have you ever been with a group of friends and the "Scar" game ensues? Someone shows a scar, and then someone else tops it with a bigger or badder scar. Each scar has a story behind it. Pretty soon, people are lifting up shirts and pulling down shorts to show off their marks.

Harry had a pretty famous Scar, too
Personally, I can look over my body and locate plenty of scars. There's the incision scars from my appendectomy a year ago. The turf burn on my right elbow from college football. The diamond pattern in my right shin from a BMX pedal slippage incident... you get the idea.  Well, you get a few ideas: one is that I'm injury prone. The idea I want you to get is that each scar has a story.

For example, my right index finger is pretty damn ugly. It's scarred from 3rd degree burns from when I was four years old.  Before there were Beavis and Butthead, there was me, the a junior pyromaniac. One autumn evening, I was feeding bits of masking tape into a candle flame and watching them burn. After a few times, one strip failed to catch fire before my fingers got too hot to hold near the flame. In my four year old intelligence, I wrapped the tape around my finger and proceeded to place my finger in the candle flame. I can only imagine I thought that only the tape would burn leaving me unharmed... As you can imagine, the result was far different!  My mother, who was in the other room taking care of my infant sister, now describes the scene like this:
He came running into the room screaming and holding up his hand like Lady Liberty, complete with a burning torch.
Yeah, not a brilliant move on my end. Suffice to say, a trip to the ER and now I have an ugly right index finger.

But I also have a great story that accompanies that disfigurement.

Right, but this is a gaming blog. So how does this relate to WoW?

Well, it's a bit of a retrospective as we get ready to embark on the new expansion.

See, Cataclysm was all about scars. The physical landscape was changed. The Barrens was ripped in two, as was Stranglethorn Vale. Thousand Needles flooded. Deathwing's rise changed the landscape. The entire expansion was about reshaping: the landscape, the talents, the game mechanics.

One of my biggest complaints with the Cataclysm expansion has been that while we have these amazing physical changes to the world, the lore behind them are lackluster at best, and non-existent at worst. Mainly, I've simply never really cared about Deathwing. He lacks --- charisma? presence? An explanation as to why all of a sudden he's here melting Stormwind's towers? More like all of the above.

In fact, Cataclysm tries to tell a story with each of these scars. On some level, the changes to each of the zones from the quests in the zones is really quite successful. If you simply take each zone on it's own the new quests do tell a story for each zone.  However, these stores fail to come together into a whole main theme for the expansion as a whole.

On the other hand, I've thoroughly enjoyed the changes to the game in Cataclysm. The extension of LFG to LFR has been great for me, as have cross-realm raids.  So, despite a poor showing in elevating the final boss to an actual "final boss" status, the scars left in Cata have altered the way the game runs - mostly for the better.

There are also the invisible changes, however.  I like the LFR system because I am the target demographic for LFR. I'm not on a raid team. I'm a casual solo player, any my grouping experiences stem pretty much entirely from random in-game groups. Without LFR, I would never have seen Dragon Soul. I'd like to see LFR get extended backwards so that older raid content can be experienced as well, but that's a different post.

With cross-server raids, I can take advantage of OpenRaid and join in on raids that meet my own schedule.  I am not comfortable joining a regular raid team because I simply can't commit to logging in 'ready to raid' on a regular basis. If I did commit, I'd be letting 9 or 24 other folks down. I'm not gonna do that. So, the game has evolved giving me the ability to still experience what I can when I can.  I'm a fan of that!

All in all, I'm looking forward to putting Cata in the rearview and tackling some new challenges. I expect to pick up a few new marks as I re-learn the ropes of the game in the new expansion.

17 September 2012

Rolling Restarts...

OK guys... I understand you're making some really cool changes that I'm going to immensely enjoy with the deployment of Mists. And with that comes upgrades. Despite understanding that, it's not a maintenance day. I'm not expecting down time -- even for a software restart.

This is truly all about me, though. I had 20 minutes to kill between conference calls. As @Ghostcrawler has mentioned, one meeting ends early, and another is planned. I don't have enough time to really start anything, so I may as well do something.  But where Greg answers Tweets, I'll try to dig up some artifacts with the amazing changes to Archaeology.

And then I get....

Thanks for playing! Please try again, later.
Ugh.  No digging for me! I guess I really have to work, then. Bummer.

14 September 2012

Blog Fiddling, Redux

I really need to stop tinkering and start writing. I've spent more time on the web-coding and layout for this than I have actually writing content.

However, at this point at least, I'm finally happy with the look.  Who knows how it will sit with me, but I wanted to get to a lighter background and replace that worgen at the top.

Have a great weekend!

12 September 2012

Single-serving Friends

Photo by Nathan Cooke via Flickr Creative Commons
I find that I relate much of my real-life experiences to things that I’ve either read in books or seen in movies. Therapy would have a field day exploring that, but suffice to say that I find parallels in fiction. For example, Fight Club feature’s Edward Norton’s character discussing the concept of “Single Serving Friends” with fellow airline passengers.
Tyler, you are by far the most interesting single-serving friend I've ever met... see I have this thing: everything on a plane is single-serving...
This resonated with me personally long before starting to play Warcraft. I used to spend an insane amount of time on airplanes. No, I wasn’t driving them. I was a passenger, and I was visiting clients approximately 90% of my working hours. It all added up to an obscene amount of frequent flyer miles and time spent sitting in airplanes or in airports.

To paraphrase Chuck Palahniuk (the author of Fight Club), when you travel that much everything is a single-serving. Your airplane service features a single-serving liquor bottle, a single-serving slice of cheese, a single bag of nuts....In my experience, my airline trips sat me next to random strangers, and invariably we struck up a conversation for the duration of the flight, becoming a single-serving friend just as Palahnuik describes.  I’d never see these single-serving people again, and the pleasant experience was limited to that small duration.

Enter Warcraft

Specifically, enter the LFD system. Almost all of the instances that I now experience offer a single-serving experience -- either positive or negative. I can draw the angry tank who’s bitter about everything and criticizes everyone. He or she is a single-serving jerk. Or, I can get that group that just clicks and everyone is on the game. The tank is pleasant and helpful (the kind of tank I strive for if I’ve dusted off my pally or death knight). I enjoy this experience. So much so that I find I queue for random instances much of my time spent in WoW. Ultimately, it’s all a temporary rush.

Before you start to say “But, But, But...” I realize that Blizzard has indeed provided me with tools, especially with 5.0.4, that I can use to stay in touch with those folks from my random instances that truly shine. Before 5.0.4, I would have had to exchange RealIDs with folks; I’m not too keen on that. But now, with Battletags, there is no reason for me not to reach out to people. I’m not giving out an email, after all. I would be saying “I’d like to hang out again for a cross-server event so feel free to reach me whether I’m on this guy or any of my alts.” Er... that’s a bit long-winded. How about “I like you. Let’s hang out more.” Yeah, that’s simpler.

But I don’t say either of those things! I just move along.

In the last months, the LFD instances also began placing a priority on players of the same server. So, increasingly, I’m finding myself grouped with other members of my server. This one’s brutally easy: I can simply friend that person. But I don’t even bother with that. How lazy am I, anyway?

I’m not using the tools the game affords me to stay in contact with players. I have no good reason, either. Is it a habit? Shyness? A joy of sticking with the transitory nature of an instance group?

There is something magical when you do group and get into that party makeup where everyone know’s their stuff, nobody is crabby, and the run is just plain fun. When that happens, it’s so unexpected (for me at least) that it’s treasured. I’m almost afraid to ruin the magic by placing some organization around it. Isn’t that crazy? I’m hesitant to continue a good thing -- because most of the reason why it was good in the first place is that it was a surprise. If I impose organization and then plan a run, the efficiency is now expected and I can only be let down. That’s pretty depressing, when you stop to think about it.

Bad Behavior

Am I alone in this? Perhaps... but it’s really interesting for me to consider why this behavior persists.

Before LFD (and to much more focused view LFR), my options for running a PVE instance were either hitting up guild mates or braving trade chat. Trade had it’s own perils. You had to commit to running an instance (God forbid a raid) because you had to brave the idiocy that is trade chat. It took effort to put a group together, and even then you still might get total buffoons. After all, the tank didn’t need to be nice. Tanks could get a group immediately if they dropped. Heals could usually regroup quickly. DPS? We were a dime-a-dozen and treated as such.

With the introduction of LFD (and LFR), the mechanics have evolved. Tanks still insta-queue. Heals less so. Blizzard even added the Call to Arms mechanic awarding tanks or heals a chance at extra loot when their role is underrepresented. In theory, a DPS could get this too, but really? That’s just not gonna happen.

So again, the DPS take whatever the tank dishes out. Sure you CAN boot somebody. A DPS is backfilled quickly. A Tank will take some time to backfill (even across servers). To some extent, I believe that part of the reason for piss-poor behavior in random instances or raids is based upon how easy it is to re-queue. There is no consequence, really. On a single server, a jerk would get a reputation and then trade chat would lambast them. In random, nobody on my server gives a hoot that someone from a different server was a jerk.

Without a consequence, there’s no discouragement other than social norms or even altruism to behave well in a random group.

I have come to expect poor behavior from random instances. That’s sad, but true. I expect better behavior from my pre-schooler than I do in instances or LFRs. It's a perpetual flash-back to Romper Room.

Even so, I find myself in the situation where I’m trying to quickly establish a rapport with 4 or 24 random people because I’m hoping for the best. I’m also on my toes because I need to perform to my best so that I’m not targeted for the Boot. I don’t want to do anything that would cause me to become a target.

There’s something in that experience -- I’m not exactly sure what -- but there’s something that is preventing me from wanting or even trying to reach out again to the other players in these random experiences. I know that I could; I’m just not.

Maybe I just really enjoy the anonymity and the transience of a single-serving friendship?

11 September 2012

Blog Fiddling

Hello maintenance day...

Since I'm not going to be logging into the game anytime soon, I spent some time fiddling with the Blog itself.

Character Roster (Alter-Egos Page)

As a side-effect of the Achievement Feed, I've been messing around with displaying my character information on the blog as retrieved from BattleNet.  I like the idea of showing a 'current' view -- at least as current as the last time I logged out on that character. (Note to self, add a timestamp).
Check out the page - it currently shows the equipped items and talents / glyphs.  It's a work in progress, but it's definitely an enjoyable work.

New Comment System (DISQUS)

I wanted to add a bit more interactivity to the comments. I adore those of you leaving comments -- it's such a concrete reinforcement that people are not only reading the drivel I'm writing, but in some fashion that drivel impacts them enough to actually reply to me!  I'm reminded of school crushes: I'd "like" somebody and then I'd be flabbergasted when they actually responded to me. It was giddy then, and it's giddy now.
I wanted to highlight that a bit and give it some pizazz; if there are any issues, please hit me up via Twitter (since if there are issues you won't be able to comment, will ya?)

07 September 2012

Shared Topic: Spell Envy

Arvash from The Crimson Hammer offers up this week's Shared Topic:
In the new Mist of Pandaria expansion, Druids will be getting a new spell called Symbiosis, which will allow them to "trade" a spell with another player, based on the player’s class and combat role and the Druid’s specialization.

So my question is, if you could have any spell you want from any other class, current spells or new ones in MoP, what would it be? How would you work it into your rotation, gameplay, etc.?
What a fun question! I'm going to look at this by role -- damage, tank and healing.


My choice on damage spells is not going to be based on putting out the highest DPS. It's about pure fun! The winner? The new form of priest Mind Control:  Dominate Mind. Perhaps I'm biased with the PVP I've been running lately, but I simply love this ability. Walking folks off cliffs or into lava... Such evil joy! I'm literally giggling as I imagine having an enraged spirit beast wailing away on a target as I'm lazily walking it towards it's doom!  Very Warlockian of me!


Well, I just got educated. I was going to say "Concencration" because that AoE holiness was such the effective aggro-magnet for a pally tank. But I just checked Wowhead, and it's gone.  A victime of 5.0.4?

Hmmm... When I'm tanking (in 5mans), what is my biggest issue?  AoE threat! What's the next best thing?  Death and Decay! It may no longer be fashionable, but when I was tanking on my dead knight, a drop of DnD pretty much stuck the pack on me and I was able to maintain aggro despite the best efforts of my AoE happy DPS members.


Once again, I'm leaning towards the Priest class.  My favorite healing spell got to be the frisbee (formally known as the Prayer of Mending). For those that never priested, you cast this on a party or raid member taking damage, and it heals for a goodly amount when that person is actually damaged. Then, it bounces to another party or raid member and does the same thing. It will sit there waiting for damage for up to 30 seconds, and it can bounce up to five times to friendlies before it expires.
In a single tanking fight where only the tank's taking the hits, the frisbee is "meh".

But, when there is party-wide or raid-wide damage, the frisbee bounces around and heals -- all for a minor mana cost. At that point, it's more a "yay!"

Imagine as a shaman, dropping a healing rain and tossing out chain heals along with a frisbee bouncing around as well!

Or, a tree-formed druid loading folks up with rejuvinations, life bloom stacks and tranquility and swiftmend, and then having that frisbee to bounce around as well. Holy AoE healing!

Sadly, I can't comment on pally healing -- I just don't know how it works. I guess I need to play my pally a bit more and experiment. One more thing to do!

Impacts of 5.0.4
Holy noobishness, Batman! My first reactions have all been changed with the new game mechanics! Mind Control is now a talent. Shammy Thunderstorm is gone! Pally concencration is gone! Uh... time to relearn and rectify the ignorance.

For that, I'm thanking Arvash!

06 September 2012

To Tome With Love


For those of you wondering WTF?!?  Check this...

05 September 2012

Calling for Fashionistas

Yet another case of Real Life echoing WoW...

While I have the base mechanics of dressing myself, I wouldn't characterize myself as stylish or hip. In fact, my son has told me I dress like "a Dad". I guess there are worse things, but that still sucks.  I guess I'm just partial to 20 year old styles.  Anyways, on with the post!

In Dire Need of a Makeover
In WoW, I would like to become a bit more stylish. I'm currently strutting around in i397 PVP mail and have quite the purple and greeen vibe going.  My hunter needs some fashioning up, and I'm the wrong man for the job.

Now don't get me wrong -- I am totally hooked on transmogrification or as the rest of the community refers to it: mogging. The idea of getting specific drops from instances, or working towards a look is fun.  The idea of changing how something can look is cool.  Having something else to waste time on is priceless.

To define any look, I've been told I need a cornerstone -- something to base that look off of. I'm totally digging the Beast Mastery spec with 5.04, and I'm never without Loque'nahak as a companion. How do I create a look that complements Loque?

What I lack is defining the look itself. I've wasted hours in MogIt and have yet to come up with anything that I'm happy with. I'm just not a fashionable dude.

Here's where y'all come into play.

Can you help a guy get a bit more hip?  Start with a male Worgen hunter and crafted or dropped items (no quests, no legendaries) what can you come up with?

01 September 2012

The Grown-Up Grows Up

I was listening to The Twisted Nether Blogcast (podcasts are the perfect companion to mowing the lawn, don't ya know). I'm wrapping up the back yard and come to the section where the newly announced blogs from Blog Azeroth were announced. Hey!  They announced me! Yay!

And then, they said something that impacted me.
Fimlys: That is the longest URL ever!
Hydra: At least he knew it wouldn't be taken!

Hey! That's me you're busting on, folks! As I thought about it, I realized something.  They're right.

What am I going to do about it?

Enter GoDaddy and a new shiny

For those of you awesome people that are receiving an RSS feed (trust me, it's a very heady feeling to see in Feedburner that people have actually asked to receive my feed and thereby read my stuff), it should automatically redirect.  If not, I'd dearly love to hear about so I can rectify.

For the Bloggers that have done me the honor of including me in your blogrolls (just as heady an honor because it's an implied recommendation!)  I'd be obliged if you would point my entry to the new .com domain.