What's there to complain about?

| Sunday, October 19, 2014
I love a good complain. Change anything and I bet I can complain about it. And that's why the pre-warlords patch has me so angry. I'm at a loss for legitimate complaints. Oh sure, I have a few, but it's just not enough for a frothy-mouthed rage.

As might be expected, I'm a bit peeved about the switching of UBRS. And at first I found it to be terribly boring. Then I remembered an old pet peeve: people who watch TV while playing: paying no attention, making mistakes without even noticing), and generally making me wonder why they're even logged in. I'd become one of those people.

Pausing Netflix, I turned the sound back on, and focused on the game. Suddenly I could heard what I'd been missing, and generally notice. I pulled more carefully, rewired the gun turrets to help us, and soaked in as much fun as I could. Turns out, there's actually a bit of fun to be had. Maybe when it isn't half an instance I'll enjoy it more. In the meantime, it's nice to run a place where I can actually die if I play badly. I need to remember to bring my ring from LBRS to see if I can get a second Vael.

On the other hand, I like how the weird squish-non-squish has screwed up the already-broken tuning of old raids. Everything dies as if it were meant to be soloed, perhaps because Blizzard realized that people are typically running these solo or in small groups. I wouldn't say they're "tuned" for that, not in the sense that they're remotely challenging for such groups. It was fun to be able to just run straight into some of these places and knock them out without trying to rally friends to the cause, what with their annoying habits of having lives outside of outdated raids.

The invasion event was mildly interesting, though also almost an exact copy-paste between Alliance and Horde. Oh no, my filler content wasn't carefully customized for each faction! At this point the Iron Horde seems somewhat generic, but it probably doesn't help that I've seen literally nothing about the expansion outside of the game and whatever I saw on wowhead while looking for UBRS loot.

People in trade are mad about the squish, or some ability being removed, or... something or other. It's an enlightened bunch. Someone claims the squish ruined everything. As best as I can tell, in practical terms nothing changed, except that my Thunderfury, due to a fully-powered proc, seems to work just fine. (I got buffed! Wee!) I am still in the habit of trying to refresh Inquisition. I asked in trade if hunters still need mana; someone replied that they never needed mana. Jokes are wasted on some people.

I'm glad to have an enchanter; strange dust is selling well in pairs, thanks to the Fire and Poetry event, though I'm guessing that will slow down as people finish the quest. And then pick up again as people realize they haven't finished the quest.

Trolls look weird when they run.

Farewell, Brawler's Guild

| Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Since The Great Betrayal soon after Cataclysm, I've been a bit spotty on the raiding front. My rogue did some in Cataclysm, but mostly LFR and I saw nothing outside of Dragon Soul beside a few wipes on whatever the first boss in the first raid was. Mists of Pandaria has mostly been LFR for me, because finding guilds is not my strong point and I'm not interested in PUG raids.

As a result, I've been missing on the challenge high, of failing over and over until I get it right, and then feeling amazing. Unfortunately, I didn't give the Brawler's Guild much attention. The best time to do it is first thing in the morning, which is also the best time for me to forget what I was planning to do.

Then I heard rumors that it would be gone. I misinterpreted this as gone gone, gone forever, Cataclysmed gone. So, with no time to lose, the Friday before patch day, I started Brawler's Guild. And then immediately wished I'd started sooner. It turns out that, despite my ranking as the number one level 90 paladin with a partial Justicar transmog on my server, I couldn't one-shot everything.

It all began with Hexos. In a way, that was a great boss, because it forced me to actually learn how to DPS without paying much attention. A momentary distraction from the pink of death was death. Over the many, many, many attempts, I reworked some keybindings, finally macroed my gloves, potions, and wings together, and stopped clicking rend. Then I died some more, until finally, I won, and then worried that I'd pass out because a pot of coffee does not constitute a complete breakfast. Good times.

 From there I learned that, those things which are fought least are also fixed least. The snake was awful, filled with either bugs or just bad behavior. It would stop for no clear reason and get a stack, one of which is enough to end the fight. It would drop poison directly in its path. I hated that fight, not for being a crazy gimmick like Hexos, but for being a badly-made fight. The fire elemental angered me almost as much, though it at least took fewer tries. The stun would fail and the elementals would seem to go out of their way to run into the fire. But I beat them, and it felt great because it had not been easy and because I'd gotten better in the process.

Then finally the paladin. While it took fewer tries, I think it was a more accurate skill check than Hexos. Adapting movement to a rapidly-changing situation, seeing small changes, identifying the goal, timing, and finally winning a harsh DPS race. That's almost everything someone would need for an actual raid, beside other people.

And yet, there were other people. It had some of the social elements of raiding. There was the begging for a res from the person who had gone AFK and blamed you for dying. There was the delay as other people failed in their own unique ways. There was the every-growing repair bill. And there was the congratulations, because when everyone is trying to get the achievements on the last available weekend, they tend to stick around and recognize each other. We'd offer advice, learn from them, and cheer and smile as they finally beat a boss. It was a temporary crowd, but somehow, this solo activity seemed to bring people together better than LFR.

So here's to you, Brawler's Guild!

Next time, please have more arenas; it's not fun waiting 15 minutes for a fight.

The Long Dark

| Saturday, October 11, 2014
I saw this the other day, looked interesting. Don't Starve had been a good bit of fun, this reminded me of it. Ha. Don't Starve is a walk in the park in comparison.

This isn't a base-building game. You don't get fancier toys as you go along. You might get none, stuck smashing cans of pork and beans, losing precious calories as they spill on the floor. Then you find one, and it is your precious. You sit shivering in your unheated cabin, fixing a can opener with scraps of metal, knowing that the wolf might still be outside.

It mauled me on the way in. I bandaged myself, applied my only bottle of antiseptic, and slept. I woke up hungrier than ever. Outside was a deer carcass, but I lacked the tools needed to gather any meat.

I did what anyone else would do: I walked outside, nearly dead from hunger, shivering, and barely conscious from lack of sleep, and shot my five bullets at the stars.

At this point there's not a lot of content: one 'sandbox' map and no story mode. But I see a lot of potential. It's not a game that encourages wandering, because that's how you end up like the frozen corpses that you find here and there. But you must explore, so it pushes you onward to find food, and firewood, but the cold and fatigue want you to stay here, where it is warm and peaceful. You can be perfectly safe for the moment, and doomed to die if you don't go out to face the wolves.

 I'd say this game is like a small box of legos. There is a lot of potential for fun, but at the moment, you're pretty much limited to a very small spaceship. Note: There are no spaceships, but there is supposedly a secret bunker somewhere with great wealth, which means lots of fire wood.

DPS the targets in this order that is always changing, or we all die

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I'd decided to give healing a try again. It was never my strength. I might even dare to say that I am awful at it. And yet, I cannot help but blame how healing is done.

Let us imagine if DPS had a two dozen targets. Each one would need to be attacked within a particular time, hit a certain amount, or else the raid could wipe. These targets would change unpredictably and frequently. There are too many to simply assign a DPS to each one. They have to each, somehow, know which one to damage, and make these decisions within fractions of a second. Meanwhile the healers keep healing their targets, because their healers are too damn stupid to not make their jobs harder.

Wouldn't that be terribly unfun?

With a coordinated group, perhaps it would be doable. With a small group, only five or ten, it would be doable. But when your DPS are dropped into a chaotic mob of uh, chaos, it gets to be more difficult. The mobs move, so you lock them in place, but of course if you lock their positions, then you can't really see what's going on in the fight and it becomes that much harder to predict what little you could before.

My own experience has always been rocky. I'd done it about since I started playing, here and there. I love filling in for a lost healer or a tough spot. As a primary job, I am just not good at it. I never have been. I tended to get mad at it, and yet often got stuck doing it. Something about it just doesn't work with my brain. Maybe it's just a lack of practice. It is not unlikely that a lack of gear causes some problems as well; I only just created an incomplete Timeless set, without a weapon, no trinkets or rings, and so on. I'm sure it adds up to a blue set, but when the tanks pull like they're expecting a healer in purples, I don't see myself as overgeared.

On the plus side, I had a lot of fun trying to figure out macros to make it work. Somehow I had managed to fit all my prot and ret abilities into an action bar and a half. I roll to another bar if I need AoE and some are macroed to fit in extra spells. Holy has not quite managed to fit comfortably. On the plus side, I may find use for my mouseover macros elsewhere; though ironically, they don't work as well when the spells are bound to mouse buttons. For some reason mouseover doesn't work on party portraits when the macros are bound to my mouse.

And of course, above all, it is something new to learn. I like having those things.

The other day I went healing with some friends. One was used to healing, so we made him DPS. The other tanked as usual. I learned that the second-to-last boss in Niuzao Temple does not summon adds if you're alone, and his damage isn't actually that high, so as the last one standing I was able to slowly, very very slowly, kill him for about 10% before my friends told me to stop wasting the time of the PUG people. I granted their request to no longer grace the group with my greatness and switched to ret for the last boss. Somehow having far superior gear in a role that I am more experience with led to a better outcome.

I'll heal some more. Some. 

At least Engineering is supposed to do that, but Blacksmithing is terrifying

| Sunday, July 13, 2014
Copper. Tin. Iron. So far, so good. These are all fairly safe things. What about mithril. Is it dangerous to smelt and work with it in an open setting in the middle of a major city? Or worse, an unventilated room?

Then there's thorium. That's a nuclear fuel. Can you imagine if people were commonly melting down uranium, purifying it, and then making armor with that? What happens to the slag? Do we purify it to get the more or less radioactive isotopes? What about the radium that is generated by decaying thorium? Powdered thorium can spontaneously burn in air at near-normal temperatures, though that's true of many metals. It should have no problem exploding in a forge.

Just to the next expansion and we're working with fel iron. Fel iron? As in, iron that has been corrupted by demonic energy? It's not as if we forge it into something that isn't demonic, making either fel iron bars or felsteel. That is followed by adamantium, which is likely mostly safe, and given the willingness of vendors to purchase it, seems to have some ability to be recycled. Due to its name and rarity, I'd guess that khorium is terribly radioactive or in some way unstable. Why we would then mix that with demon-tainted iron is anyone's guess.

Cobalt. Well cobalt doesn't sound so scary, right? It really isn't, except for cobalt-rich ores tending to produce arsenic when smelted. It is named from kobold (which means goblin). And for some reason, despite being commonly found as a by-product of copper production in real life, it is instead found in pure form and is never seen during copper production. Perhaps it isn't actually cobalt and we've been working with some terrifying other mineral. Or it comes from meteor impacts. But how often do we see meteors? How much more often do we see infernals crash down?

Saronite is the blood of an Old God.

Elementium and Obsidium don't sound like anything all that scary, though it is a little odd that we only discover the latter after Deathwing triggers the Cataclysm. The original elementium was also an extraordinarily rare and expensive alloy created from a variety of materials recovered from hostile elementals. The new version is much easier to find and smelt, but is entirely incompatible, suggesting that, despite having the same name, it is something different. What are we working with? Pyrite is a sulfur-iron compound, which seems dangerous to be smelting, and who knows how we're turning that into something other than poor-quality iron bars.

Ghost iron.

Kyparite, as best as I can tell, is fossilized amber. That's where you get transgender dinosaurs, a stirring soundtrack, and certain death.

Engineering is supposed to be horribly dangerous and irresponsible. But blacksmithing? No one said that it would be hammering radiation, demons, ghosts, and congealed madness into armor.

Cobalt: This one weird ore that can make you lose your mind in just a few minutes

| Thursday, July 10, 2014
Why it was okay that fel iron and cobalt were annoying to find

Once upon a time when leveling took a while, it was not unreasonable to need a lot of a crafting material to level the profession. You'd be out in the world so much that you were bound to get what you needed. Ores such as cobalt were widely-dispersed and tricky to gather without flying mounts. Yet you got them.

Upon hitting the cap, you likely needed the other ores more. So there were more of them. Saronite could come out the wazoo. Adamantium could also come out the wazoo. Meanwhile, fel iron would remain persistent even in higher level zones because it was still needed for high level items.

These are all fine and dandy when you're in a leveling-capping situation. These days, it becomes a problem. You may level out of the cobalt zones before you've naturally farmed enough. Then you're in the saronite-flooded zones for plenty long, a situation made especially noticeable thanks to the level 80 start on Cata, rather than the 58-60 or 68-70 that could fudge the starts and ends of continents a bit. So you have saronite out the wazoo, but there aren't capped crafters setting ten dozen stacks of saronite ore on fire to make a single "Boots of the Pretty Good That Can Get you Started on Raiding".

There are two ways to fix this. One way is to slow down leveling. The other is to replace some saronite with cobalt. My money is on the Third Way: ignore the problem.

Shared Health

| Monday, July 7, 2014
What if groups shared a health pool?

Incoming damage is calculated, and able to be seen, individually (no hiding that you were in the fire). It then feeds into a larger, combined health pool. Overall damage taken in unchanged. If the entire raid takes damage, then the proportional spike is as big as ever. If a particular player takes damage, just as much healing is needed. But, the spikes that hit individual players are proportionally smaller relative to the health pool, giving more time to deal with such things. More importantly, this cuts the number of health bars to deal with by 80%. Now the 25-man raid has as many health bars as a five-man instance.

I'd heal that.

Coming tomorrow, the post you've all been waiting for: Cobalt ore.

That guy who leaves the party and comes back and then pretends he never actually left...

| Saturday, July 5, 2014
It just leaves us thinking that he spent the past two hours in the bathroom.

Apparently at some point I stopped writing posts. I cannot imagine that it was because I had nothing to complain about. Here, a list:

  • Requiring specific BGs for the legendary cloak
  • PvP pet battles
  • My inability to ignore cross-server
  • Healing
  • Not having three specs
  • PvP having a gear grind
  • Not being Horde (I admit it, I think male trolls and female blood elves look awesome)
  • Cobalt nodes
  • The next expansion (nothing in particular; I just get angry at change)
  • My usual bank alt name being unavailable on Blackhand
  • Healers who heal DPS who pull
  • DPS being allowed to talk
  • Groups that don't kill Ahune during the first submerge
  • The valor cap during the Have Lots of Valor in-game event
  • The lack of target dummies for healing

Where does one start? By putting that in another post, of course!

In the meantime, some positive things. I'll try not to make this a habit.

Despite three months to do so, I have not yet been fired. Madison has a lot of farmers markets. I met some cool people. I'm moving to a larger apartment. There is a bag of popcorn just out of reach, so that if I really want it, I can get it, but I won't waste it on a stupid whim (sorry, I might have just slipped into another complaint about badly-implemented 'accessibility'). And I'm still playing WoW, alongside a few other games.
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