The Problem with Night Elves

| Saturday, December 20, 2014
A giant crytals space ship crashed into Azeroth a while back. It irradiated a nearby lake and mutated the wildlife. The alien survivors set to work understanding the damage they'd caused. At times this was a violent process, gathering blood samples to study them. As they learned more, they found a way to clean the lake. Moving outward, they worked to inoculate nearby wildlife from the remaining radiation. In further stages they sought to understand the damage and limit further harm.

Contrast this with the night elf method:

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Huh, must be bugged.

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Third time's the charm?

I go off to kill a dozen demons and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill them!
Me: Could you clarify that pronoun there? I think we're having some problems with the "them" that you want me to kill.
Quest Giver: You have to kill all the bunnies!
Me: Sure thing!

I go off to kill a dozen bunnies and return, looking for a reward.

Quest Giver: Demons have corrupted the poor widdle bunnies! You have to kill all the demons. And also some more bunnies.
Me: Why didn't we just kill the demons in the first place, then decurse the bunnies?
Quest Giver: Because I'm not secretly an ambitious demon using you to kill bunnies and my rivals.

Archaeologists should fight only three things: Snakes, Nazis, and Unimaginable Tedium

| Monday, December 15, 2014
Since I can't fly in Draenor and I keep forgetting that I can fly elsewhere and the ores there aren't worthless, I've stopped using mining as my chilling between missions/queues activity. Archaeology has filled that gap. I go somewhere and press a bunch of buttons on my mouse. Sometimes I press my keyboard. My screen fills up with various colors marking off where things might be. It's the world's slowest laser show.
In case you're wondering what prompts the grats in that shot: someone has an auto-grats addon, and I think the other person is being sarcastic about it. Also, I spelled you're wrong the first time. And while trying to write that. I am filled with shame.

But do you see that other thing? Over there. Left. Not my character portrait. Right of that. Up. Those are the words above the picture, not that far...

That's an elemental fighting another elemental. Not a problem, right? Except sometimes they have no one to fight, so they fight me. It's little more than a momentary distraction, but the whole point of this archaeology expedition is chilling. I'm just not in a mood to hit things with my sword.

Most days I don't have to fight to get my artifacts. And I don't even thing I'd mind, but implementation matters. I don't want to fight some over-sized bird or rocks that don't know how to sit still. If I'm going to fight, it better be a Nazi, crypt filled with snakes, or the crushing boredom which is slowly, very slowly, digging up a giant plot of sand, only to find a few bits of pottery from the early 21st century and a taunting note from Dr. Evelius, my archeological arch-nemesis.

Get back to where you once belonged

| Tuesday, December 2, 2014
I have a love-hate relationship with the timer on missions. The missions themselves are fine, good even, but that timer...

On one hand it can make me feel rushed. I have some quests that I want to to, and I have half an hour to do them, otherwise I feel like I'm wasting valuable clicking on followers time. But then there's the travel time, so I don't want to rush out and rush back, or in all my hurry I'd be wasting even more time.

Then they decide to switch it up, they being the mysterious forces that manipulate small events against us. They steal our socks and give us hat hair. This time it's a 45 minute quest. I go out and do a fishing daily and some fishing fishing and a kill everything daily. I have a few minutes to spare. The archaeology site is across the zone, so I'd use up half my time just getting there. So now I wait. Or do I go farm? Maybe hit a few mining nodes? Or just wait.

On the other hand, it can be nice to have that out and back again feel. I'm going on my own mission and I have a particular amount of time to complete it. Having that timer means that I have to think about what I'm going to do. I define a goal, figure out whether I can complete it, and set out to do just that. That can be a welcome change from wandering off and wondering what I'm going to do, only to end up doing nothing because I had all the time in the world to figure out what to do.
 
The endless outdoor nature of leveling, of chaining quests back to back, doesn't fit well with missions. Either the missions break the flow or there's this glowing reminder during the quest that you're missing something. At the more free form level cap, where activities aren't so often lines of quests, having some sort of structure to the time is to be appreciated.

Brb, phone timer is going off; my alt's missions are done.

The new Molten Core is the first genuinely bad experience I've had this expansion

| Saturday, November 22, 2014
I'm not saying this expansion is perfect, but overall I've had fun and there haven't been many things that I've pointed at and said "this thing is reducing my fun." And then I queued for the Molten Core raid.

I was immediately dropped into a trash pull in progress, and it was not going well. A bunch of bosses were dead already, which made it odd that they were fighting at the entrance. And chat, chat was filled with people yelling. All of it was wrong. Somehow they'd become convinced that AoE attacks cause lava spawns to spawn or clone. Or maybe that AoE attacks did too little damage, which is true, but the better way to phrase that is "focus fire". People spent the entire rest of the raid yelling about how AoE attacks are terrible.

I opted to entertain myself by chatting with someone who had been there in vanilla and understood the absurdity of the situation. I might have also claimed that AoE attacks make Onyxia deep breath more often. I had just as much evidence as anyone else in the raid.

It was a slow, bumbling process of 40 people slowly bumbling their way toward bosses, without any idea of how they worked. People kept yelling nonsense directions in raid chat.

Apparently they'd been there for hours. I was sick of it after a few minutes, but I figured I'd see it through to the end. I got a hat and a mount. Wee.

Then I did things that were fun, such as heroics and follower missions. I'm going to have a hard time picking my favorite heroic, but so far, Shadowmoon Burial Grounds is winning.

We are the Warlords of Draenor

| Thursday, November 20, 2014
Orcs have warchiefs, not warlords. So who are the warlords? Us, of course. We are the warlords.

It was inevitable. We'd spent years gathering powerful magical items, built up reputations, amassed fortunes. And finally, we have our own private armies. People are seeing that when they throw their lot in with us, they get results, and tend not to die as often as when they go alone, or even join a faction. Notice how when followers join they don't say "I want to join the Alliance!" They say "I want to join you."

One could argue that we're more like Colonel Kurtz. We were sent out in an official capacity, and then took our mission to heart, seizing power locally in order to accomplish the goal given by our superiors. And then promptly went insane with power.


However, we are still in direct contact with our factions, receiving intel and the general strategy, rather than being off in the jungle while Sartin Meen tries to kill us. Those are how I interpret quests and follower missions; they can't quite tell us what to do, but they can reward us well and try to point us where they want us to go. However, before you think we are part of the organized military, we don't receive any sort of ongoing material support; it's all based on specific missions, making us appear more like an warlord for hire. Everything else is generated locally, from the production we set up and manage (gathering and work orders).

I rather like this situation. It feels as if we're finally getting our due. We used to run around murdering for trinkets and armor, then get called heroes, but rarely did our factions reward us for our deeds. Now we've set up our own armies and can finally take what we've earned. The mines we liberate send their ore to us. The soldiers we rescue join us. This world that we're pacifying is ours. We are the warlords of Draenor.

The best laid plans fall before the might of the overlooked detail

| Monday, November 17, 2014
I had it all figured out.

I was mere hundreds of experience away from level 100. I had to make it count and I had the means to do it: N.U.K.U.L.A.R. Target Painter. What could possibly go wrong?

I rode out of Telaari Station in Nagrand and found the nearest rare. I got line of sight and painted the area. Not the target itself; the AoE is pretty big.

Ten seconds later the area was covered in ash. A windroc was dead. My skin was charred. And that was it. Redclaw the Feral still lived.

It turns out that this is not a ground-penetrating weapon. It explodes on impact, blowing up everything outside the cave and leaving him entirely unharmed.

I returned to my garrison and resolved to find another rare, outdoors, with no pesky layer of invincible terrain to save it. While I was there I checked on my completed follower missions, and hit 100.

Please stop making exciting zones

| Friday, November 14, 2014
Jade Forest is a nice zone. It's pretty. The story is awesome, particularly on the Alliance side. And I never want to do it ever again.

In the title I don't mean actually exciting, but rather the highly-scripted, frequently-interrupted, linear "exciting" that has been an increasing trend since Cataclysm. Rather than informing us of the need to kill some quantity of reskinned rats, we are instead treated to voiceovers, flybys of things, and short vehicle events. These are all fun, the first time around, when the story is new, the events are new, the flybys are of new things, and the voices haven't yet been reused a few dozen times. I'm not saying Blizzard should higher a different voice actor for every single NPC. At least they don't have people with identical voices carrying on random conversations consisting mostly of hello, goodbye, and their hatred of mudcrabs.

The first time around the breaks in the flow come with a reward in the form of something new. The second time around, they're just breaks in the flow. Even worse, you know they're coming, so it's that much harder to kill into a rhythm of murder. On a related note, I actually like the ridiculous name floats for new enemies; gives it a Kill Bill sort of feel.

I propose a solution: Background Hero Mode.

It is often the case that a scripted sequence features someone in an endless battle, off to the side, barely in the camera. Endless slaughter is kind of our thing, so why not have an option to play as that person? Let the scripted stuff run its course nearby, while you spend the time happily drowning the grass with blood. To spice things up a bit, give bonus xp if you kill a certain number of enemies during a sequence, or let us run some of the off-screen machinery, such as crashing Ogrim's Hammer and carrying boxes while asking everyone nearby if they're going to give them more work.

Best End of Expansion, Ever

| Monday, November 3, 2014
I've had a great time in the weeks leading up to the expansion. It's not because Mists of Pandaria is ending. Maybe a bit... But actually, I think this is due to a few things added during MoP that only recently have I taken advantage of.

Soon before the patch I finished the legendary cloak on my paladin. It was a profoundly anti-climactic moment. I effectively got a legendary for running LFR a lot, and for putting up with the utterly ridiculous need to win two specific BGs for a PvE chain. If it had merely been two generic BGs, or even to win two Pandaria BGs (including the same one twice), that might have been okay. I was glad to get it, but I think I've gotten bigger thrills from finding khorium nodes.

Then I heard that the Brawler's Guild was closing. I misinterpreted this as being permanently gone, or that the entire thing would be scrapped and return in some vaguely familiar, yet wrong form, as happened with Naxxramas, or Azeroth. This led to me spending pretty much my entire weekend before the patch trying to get to rank 10. I managed to do it, beating the paladin the morning of the Monday before the patch. Hexos, the first boss in rank 8, was probably the hardest thing I'd ever done in WoW.

My warlock had tried to get green fire, which meant flying to Black Temple and dying a lot. I'd not expected this to be a skill check. Gear helps, but it's like Hexos: it can reduce the length of time that you need to play well, but you still have to play well for a solid 5-6 minutes (Hexos was only two minutes, but was also even more unforgiving during that time). The result was that she died a lot. And then more. I looked it up and found that this wasn't typically people did with an ilevel of 490.

She had puttered around for a while, never even gone to SoO, barely done any LFR at all. That had to change, and that was the first part of the fun. All this time I could have gotten better gear, but for what purpose? Higher numbers for their own sake aren't that appealing to me. But, when they have a purpose, then I very much enjoy the collecting of near gear. Some time on the Timeless Isle (no idea how long) got her a couple timeless items, one of which replaced a blue. (did I mention that her gear was awful?) Some LFR brought in a necklace, Ordos donated a very nice belt, and a Celestial gave her her first tier piece. I gemmed, enchanted, upgraded as much as I could given my lack of lesser charms of good fortune (she was so neglected that she barely even had the currency they gave out for sneezing).

I flew to Black Temple and proceeded to die a lot. I was doing this fight, not perfectly, but I think pretty darn well, except for my one inexplicably stupid habit of running away from cover and getting killed by a chaos bolt. It was as if I'd were being possessed by a Spirit of Stupid. I yelled at that spirit. Then I ignored it. I focused on my pretty red and purple flags on the ground. "Stay near those flags and everything will be okay", I told myself. I didn't and I died. I explain the fight again, "stay alive and stay near those flags. It's not a DPS race until late in; just survive until then." And finally I listened and I downed the boss.

Now I have green fire. This has the unexpected downside of making all of my spell icons look different than I remember, and all the same. But by golly, I have green fire, a weird title, and an Feat of Strength.

In other news, the price of arcane crystals has skrocketed on Blackhand, for no apparent reason. I knew my odd habit of farming thorium would pay off someday.
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