What is it with the damsel getting mad at her rescuer?

| Monday, December 30, 2013
As the armies battle outside for control of the prison, the hero bursts into the cell where his love his held. She sees him enter and is, for a moment, filled with joy that he has returned to rescue him. Then she sees him. He's scarred and wearied, his mind and body burdened by the violence he has used to get here. He's not the man she knew. She storms out, disgusted by what he has become.

What a stupid woman, right? I mean, sure he did some bad things, but they were necessary and for her. She should be grateful!

He lets her go stay with her friends while he meets back with his war counsel. While she's off moping he continues the fight against their enemy. Is it vengeance? Justice? Is he doing it to protect her? Regardless, he's the one in the action. Of course in previous stories she was tough, and still plays the part, but now she's just a prisoner to be rescued, a ship to be protected in the final battle, and overall a burden with all her unreasonable emotions.

I might have my gendered pronouns backward in all that. The dark hero is Sarah Kerrigan while the damsel in distress in James Raynor. Of course there is nuance; it would be a terribly boring story otherwise. But there's the overall narrative: the gender-flipped but otherwise classic story of the stoic hero who does what needs to be done and the emotionally-torn damsel in need of saving.

Heart of the Swarm gameplay

Starting points: Everything I did was on normal difficulty. I only repeated a mission once when I realized that I'd missed a Xel'naga crystal while killing primal zerg. I played to see the story, not to hunt achievements or for speed.

Wings of Liberty seemed a lot harder. Some of those final missions against hybrids felt almost impossible, but I got through them, with some difficulty. Maybe that's because it was primarily a Terran game and then suddenly had strange new units thrown in at the end. Maybe I've gotten better since then, considering I've done some multiplayer since then and that's pretty good training for aggressive play and a good economy.

I did get a little nervous when trying to pop more scourge nests, possibly because I've never quite gotten used to dealing with creep tumors. And Odin (super-Thor unit from the first game) was a bit of a surprise. As a result, I didn't have any lurkers ready and entirely forgot about them. That was stupid and made things much harder, since I'd picked the type that was strong against heavily armored enemies. Don't use mutalisk spam to deal with Thors.

This isn't a criticism of Heart of the Swarm. If anything, normal mode in Wings of Liberty was perhaps too difficult. Normal shouldn't be a walk in the park, but the player should retain at least 99% of their hair during each mission. It should push you a bit, make you nervous, but should not overwhelm the player or make them want to cheat just to get past a mission. Heart of the Swarm made me nervous, made me step up my game a little, but never made me want to break any computer hardware.

The missions themselves were a mixed bag of mixed things in bags. There were some standard "build lots of big units and blow up everything". There were some of the indoor missions where you use Kerrigan and a few handfuls of units (these are the zerg, after all; even their sneaking groups are in the dozens). There were some odd one-time mechanics, such as the freezes, which were then strangely absent in the very next mission on the same planet. There were many fights that made me glad I'd raided in WoW; they were dances of keeping the important people moving and out of the bad stuff. From that perspective, the primal zerg were essentially a lot of trash followed by a few small raid boss fights. But maybe that's just the old saying, "when you need to nail something in, then everything looks like a hammer."

I enjoyed all of the missions. None felt like the same thing as the one before. Only once, when dealing with the scourge nests, did I feel as if the entire thing was just a gimmick dressed up like an RTS. Each mission had its own problem to solve, yet they weren't all quite the same, except for the common thread that tied them all together.

There was a common theme: Kerrigan at the front of the swarm leading a gigantic army. Wings of Liberty tempted me with all sorts of fancy things such as cloaking units and nuclear weapons. I guess that's the Terran way. The Zerg way was a whole lot of units. Maybe they were zerglings with an evolution mission to spawn three instead of only two, though I went with the hopping variant instead. Maybe it was my fleet of mutalisks or my not-as-vulnerable-to-missile-turrets army of hydralisks.

Whatever it was, I had a lot of it and I always had more of it coming. I didn't smash into my enemy once and then retreat. I'd smash into them and keep pushing. I don't know if it is more experience with the game or from playing zerg instead of Terrans, but I didn't care about causalities. If I took massive casualties but destroyed an important base, that was just fine. I had reserves. That was fun! It's all well and good to win with a superior strategy, but why not win with a superior economy?

It sounds silly, but I liked that the way I won was the way they'd win in the story: with a Zerg rush. Of course Kerrigan taught her brood mothers a bit of cunning, but ultimately the Zerg prevails through numbers and a complete disregard for casualties.

Unlimited equipment slots: A wizard did it

| Thursday, December 19, 2013
Oblivion had staff as weapons, so you could have a spell and a staff. Skyrim uses them as spells, so you can have a staff or a spell, or two staffs, despite the fact that the only guy who uses two staffs is Saruman. On the plus side, you could have two spells equipped, which allowed for more flexibility and creativity.

And then I realized that it was all nonsense. I can equip telekinesis. Therefore I can equip anything, and with training, everything. Who has not struggled through the mishmash of disconnected plots to reach the end of Knights of the Old Republic 2 to see Kreia fight with four lightsabers using only her mind? Why can we not do the same? But with swords? And if with swords, why not hold armor as well.

We already carry unreasonable large amounts of armor in our bags. Why not carry them with our minds? Layer them, one over the next, levitate ourselves so we can carry the boots. No longer will the mage be a glass cannon, but instead he will be a magical robot, surrounded by shining shells of levitated armor, with a whirling corona of swords. Bring on your pitiful warriors, let them bounce off my armored shell of invincibility. If one item breaks, I will tear replacements from the corpses of my foes and with every one that falls I grow bigger and stronger.

Bow before me, mortals, bow before your doom!



The Recovery: Unfinished Business: A Story

| Tuesday, December 17, 2013
In response to Rock, Paper, Shotgun:
The President wasn't happy about it. He didn't care how much everyone loved the guy, he wasn't going to allow Chris Hadfield, astronaut extraordinaire, and Canadian, to lead America's most important mission. Yet he remained calm. All he had left were calmness and two dogs suitable for kids with allergies, and any day now someone might leave a door open and they'd be gone.

With a string of profanity he threw it all away and threw open a door. The dogs would explore and so would he. And dammit, this mission was too important. Wasn't he always talking about international cooperation? What was that peace prize for if not for this?

President Obama; Chris Hadfield, astronaut extraordinaire; and SEAL Team Six boarded the ship. Fifty seconds later it launched. No one had their seat belts on, despite everyone taking turns yelling, "Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy fucking ride!"

Space isn't actually that bumpy. At least it wasn't usually.

Three missiles had already hit and shields were at 10%. They'd thought Valve Voyager was going for speed. It wasn't. They were outgunned and outrun. It was all over.

Then John Aaron's voice crackled over the radio. He calmly rattled off orders, everyone panicking except him and Chris Hadfield, astronaut extraordinaire. A few more switches flipped and shields were online.

Even better, Valve Voyager had slowed down to power its tractor beam. They were trying to trap the President!

But that was the plan all along. The hatch blew open and bullets flew. Valve agents were hopelessly outmatched. Their bunny hopping was useless. They couldn't see anything in first-person view. Defense Pattern Delta wasn't actually a thing, just a morale booster and an intimidating thing to yell.
"Hold your fire. Ganymede, Gabe?"
"Our own world to make, Mr. President. It could be anything!"
"You already had your own world. It was one of the best FPS experiences I've ever had. The characters were like actual people, the story was complex but understandable, the twists and turns and... dammit, you have unfinished business!"
"I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"No? Do the words 'Episode Three' mean anything to you?"
"Nice try."
"Okay okay, but we were to never speak of it again! It was forbidden. We made it, but it never got past the prototype stage. It's too dangerous!"
"Danger is my middle name."
"Isn't it Hussein?"
"Hand over the game. Now. Or I'll be playing a different FPS."

Gabe moved slowly, carefully, to the computer. With a few keyboard presses, no mouse, and far too much steam to make any sense at all, he copied the files to a flash drive.

The American ship, piloted by Chris Hadfield, astronaut extraordinaire, detached and turned toward the Sun.

"My fellow Americans, it is time to go home. Let me be clear, that does not mean that the Canadian astronaut extraordinaire is going to be stranded here as well. He gets to come home with us, but to Canada."

On the largest moon in the solar system two words were written on a whiteboard, barely visible in the distant sun: "Episode Four."

Weeks later, a man wheeled the flash drive down the hallway toward the President's computer. Men in suits watched, joined by one extra. Steam finished checking for already downloaded content, found it all, and began first time set up. There was a flash of green light.

No more crises in the sandbox

I like urgency in games. I like sandboxes or other non-linear games. I don't like them combined on a large scale. Full disclosure: I used the word sandbox because it sounds better than "No more crises in the non-linear game that also features structured quests" and I'm a paid lobbyist for a national sand and box chain. In related news, silica exposure is an imaginary problem, why do you think crabs don't get lung cancer?

Imagine that a cult is summoning a demon and that this demon is going to more or less destroy the world when it gets here. Certainly you're no going to jump right into saving the world; you are an exceptionally weak mage after all. But after a bit of practice you'd be out there investigating, turning in amulets, and finding bastard offspring. Oblivion is my reference point here, but the general notion is widely applicable in games that allow you to explore while using a crisis as a central plot point. The combination ends up being completely absurd.

The crisis isn't just rumor; it is often directly explained to you. In Oblivion it is what gets you released: the Emperor thinks you're the one who is going to save the world. The world could end tomorrow without your intervention. You opt to join a murder cult and hunt down old trinkets for the nobility. That never showed up in any training montage. Though I suppose it is a bit more directly applicable than painting fences or picking up coats.

Maybe Fallout 3 works better, at being ridiculous. Your father has ditched you and you've been kicked out of your formerly safe home. You set out to find him. But before you save your dad from potential death / reunite with your only family, you first do some things along the way. Some of these make sense: someone has information and wants something in return. There's not much you can do about that. A detour to slaughter a town of slavers or disarm an atomic bomb, that's just what anyone else would do, given the ability. Other things, don't make much sense. Do you leave your dad out there so you can find Future Coke for an addict? What about tackling a housing discrimination case? At some point I started to wonder if my character had an attachment to his father at all, or the reverse, given some of the dialog.

Far Cry 3 features a similar level of insanity. Your friends and one brother have been kidnapped, the other brother killed while you were escaping. Since you're just a jackass frat boy you're not a very good hero for a rescue mission, so logically you spend some time getting tattoos, which in this universe makes you more powerful, so it makes sense. Yet there comes a point when it becomes absurd; you're driving all over the first island for days, capturing pirate outposts, fixing radio towers, and going hunting, and doing nothing at all to rescue your friends or gather intelligence on your enemies. This would at least make some sense if it seemed as if it was the result of the player shaping events through decisions, trying to help the island as a whole before worrying about his friends. The delay is never addressed, and in fact doesn't seem to have happened.

That's one of the persistent oddities in open-world games: what you do in the sandbox stays in the sandbox, while sometimes your actions in the little time bubbles leak out into the sandbox, even undoing your progress or canceling out what you have done.

This is when a more personal (by which I mean selfish) story can come to the rescue, a story based only on the player. In Fallout: New Vegas you get shot in the head and that's about it as far as the main plot goes. You're not destined to save the world. You're just a guy who got shot in the head and probably wants a bit of revenge. Given the difficulty of travel, it's not as if the other guy is going to escape; he thinks you're dead anyway. In this scenario there is no rush at all, so why not go exploring? The world isn't going to wait for you and that's just fine, because as far as you know, you're completely irrelevant.

Or consider a game such as Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. You have amnesia and a quest to kill a man, and you don't know from whom. Given that beginning it is not surprising that you'd end up doing some wandering and searching for odd jobs. You're lost in a terribly dangerous place, so making yourself useful to nearby people with information and guns is sensible. Eventually you discover a big mystery and pursue that, but at no point is there a sense that if you're not acting toward goal A, then you're putting your life and the existence of the entire world at risk. Though, it turns out the entire world is at risk, and you might have made things a lot worse, or better, or who can really tell given the strangeness of events in the Zone.

Adding some sort of stagnation/stalemate can help as well. One of my favorite game series ever, Escape Velocity, featured all manner of ongoing wars. But they were stalemates and therefore we could expect them to keep going about as they are without our influence. It helps that in fictional universes outside of Civ IV there is no such thing as war weariness. If the war isn't changing one way or another and you're just another small-time shuttle pilot, why wouldn't you go out and see the galaxy?

We could also look at most MMOs in which something is busily trying to destroy the world, yet for some reason we're off picking apples. Surely the locals would be telling us to get out there and fight. The government would be throwing piles of gold at us to get us back out there. Imagine if General Patton had decided that fighting Rommel just wasn't that pressing and took a detour to go hiking in Peru? We'd have put him in an asylum, or at least threatened to turn the whole operation over to Montgomery, unless the Englishman was off learning the bagpipes as a way to scare rats away from grain silos (if that quest does not yet exist, it should).

I love non-linear games, games where I can choose what to do and when. But when the game is overshadowed by an imminent threat, well that tends to overshadow everything else. It turns side quests from fun distractions into absurd detours that no sane person would start. Yet insanity isn't really an option either, because the games never acknowledge that you were doing anything other than what they told you to do. Instead you're apparently some sort of transubstantialmultidimensionaltwoinone being who is simultaneously inspecting caves for bandits while also not doing so, at either the same time as, before, or after, saving the world.

Escort Quests and Cargo Quests

| Monday, December 16, 2013
Here's a organizational scheme to consider: escort quests and cargo quests.

Escort quests are what they sound like: you escort someone through some dangerous area. Sometimes they're just passing through. Other times they're doing something along the way. They might ask you to take the lead, though never as often as they should, or run out themselves. The main takeaway is that the thing or person being escorted could take the journey without you, but with far more risk to themselves. For example, someone gathering measurements of local deadly wildlife . You are a helper, not a mover.

Cargo quests are also what they sound like: you transport cargo through some area, which is potentially dangerous as well. This can be an item, or a person. This can be a kidnapping quest or a kid-carrying quest. The main takeaway is that the thing or person being escorted cannot take the journey without you, not because of risk, but because they cannot even move on their own. For example, any prisoner will at least start off as cargo. You are the mover, and quite possibly not a helper.

Since both quests can involve people, which do you think includes characters with greater autonomy?

Civilization IV vs. V

| Thursday, December 12, 2013
I tend to go back and forth with these games. I'll play one for a while, then the other. As I play one I see the relative flaws and remember why I was previously playing the other. It's a perpetual motion machine based on greener grass. What is it that makes me ping pong like this anyway? I mean, what's so different and so much so that I'd actually care.

Something that is different about which I don't care is workers. In IV they can cross rivers without movement cost, making them more flexible. In IV they use food, the same way settlers do, so it is tempting to delay them until city size is maxed (ignore this temptation; improved land is what helps your city grow).

Onward to the big things that make me prefer one game over the other, at least temporarily.

Vassals are better than puppets
Puppet cities don't make much sense. They're clearly part of your empire, giving you territorial control, gold, culture, and science. They have a happiness cost. They can be conquered by anyone at war with you without your enemy needing to be at war with another entity. These aren't puppets so much as poorly-managed normal cities.

While some measures were taken to reduce the habit, it's still easy to end up with an empire that is 90% puppet cities. These cities never revolt, under any circumstances. This looks absurd.

Contrast that with vassals, specifically those won through capitulation. A civilization recognizes that it is going to be wiped out, so it cedes some sovereignty to you in exchange for avoiding annihilation. You do not occupy their cities except those which you have actually conquered and kept. They are the closer thing to a puppet, being free to direct their internal affairs but following the foreign policy of their master. Under certain circumstances they can break free, sometimes with the result of war with their former masters. Puppets magically remain loyal to the very end and a civilization can even find itself with only puppets, clearly a ridiculous state of affairs.

For the player vassals also offer some advantages in terms of management. A vassal will defend itself with its own army. That makes them useful as buffers and distractions for the enemy. They will build their own infrastructure. A puppet city is entirely dependent on your army and workers. This means more distractions and more areas needing management. All they save relative to a annexed city is the production orders, but that comes at the cost of being unable to manage population; I'll trade some more micromanagement for the ability to avoid the AI-run city growing out of control. Though, I could use my workers to remove all food-producing improvements around the puppet, so then I've not saved any micromanagement after all.

Finally, I don't like having to keep playing after I've clearly won. Capitulation means that you can deal with a civilization and be done with it without needing to slog through every single city to make an empire of puppets. When you're the dominant power civilizations will tend to capitulate faster, so that again you don't need to slog through every single city to win. You can return captured cities to their civilizations rather than waste effort and resources to develop them to be useful to you.

On this one I have to give the clear advantage to IV.

Tactical combat is fun, but clearly cheating
I prefer the tactical combat of V. It's more interesting to me than smashing stacks into each other. However, it also feels like cheating. The AI is not very good at it. I can't say that the AI in IV is brilliant, but the stack nature means that there are limits to how much I can run circles around it. Economics are much more important in IV as well, since I am going to lose units; even with air superiority there is only so much I can do before I have to risk actual units. Nuclear weapons can eliminate causalities (on my side by making them 100% on the other), but they are automatically killed, so it's not entirely accurate to say that there are no losses.

Any time I've found myself facing multiple economically-superior opponents in IV I find myself longing for the tactical combat of V. It's a handy crutch for bad economic policy, or bad luck. Yet is that crutch a good thing?

I can't quite point to one being better than the other with combat. Combat in V is more fun, but in IV it is more balanced for the AI and makes economic decisions more important.

City States and Trade Routes
I like city states. They give us something to do to hurt other civilizations that aren't war. However, the AI isn't very aggressive about keeping them on their side, so these tend to screw up the diplomatic victory, which is terrible in both games, and the congress in general. The AI used to try harder to keep them but that changed at some point, I suspect because people got mad at perpetual coups and the AI's bottomless treasuries. City States also give us friends of last resort, meaning trading partners of last resort, and can act a bit like the vassals of IV in terms of acting as buffers and distractions.

Trade routes, though fairly recent, make it feel like a more complete game. They add more layers to diplomacy: losing a trading partner is to be avoided, as is having none at all. They offer some interesting choices: maximize gold, science, or spread of religion, or use them internally to boost production and growth.

Obviously this goes to V.

V gives the player something to do with it. Bribe city states, buy units, buy buildings, and so on. It is a currency that changes how you play depending on how much you have. However, buildings carry a non-trivial maintenance cost, making infrastructure a risky investment. IV instead allows you to trade gold for science or culture production, giving greater flexibility. You can sell off the buildings in V, but that is a ridiculous level of micromanagement for something that used to be a straightforward tradeoff.

This one is going to V. While the science-gold trade is a less-annoying mechanic, the general uselessness of gold in IV has bugged me. If players could generate a lot more with the rush function from universal suffrage, then gold would be worthwhile.

Interface and graphics
 I group these together because the usefulness of information depends on how it is displayed, which is in turn affected by how it can be displayed, meaning the graphical limitations.

The outdated maps (meaning that they don't update until you buy a map or send a unit to look) of IV tend to bug me. Expansion is hard to manage when it is not clear where the borders are. Keeping scouts out there is expensive with the supply cost and a general annoyance. It's harder to see civilization borders in general on the map, perhaps because of the graphical limits. On the other hand, V has a bad habit of not diplaying units or updating tiles to reflect roads and rail, so I'm frequently using f10 to get the hex display, which is ugly and a stupid thing to have to do.

On the other hand, IV has far superior production and happiness management. Being able to queue up multiple buildings is a great thing. Being able to queue up an endless run of a unit makes it easier to manage the logistical side of war. Not having three tiers of what are essentially just barracks means fewer hassles when gearing up for war. Of course needing to switch civics might sound like a hassle as well, but it makes more sense to have political changes to support war than to have, for thousands of years, been on a cultural war-footing.

The combat log in IV is pretty useful for figuring out what happened after dozens of battles scattered across the world. Even better, clicking on a note in it will center the screen on that location.

IV puts AI conversations at the start of the turn rather than the end. This means that if you misclick you can load the autosave and none of your decisions are lost. V places the AI conversations at the end, so you're stuck with either redoing an entire turn or saving the game at the end of every turn. Neither of those are good.

IV tends to look universally ugly regardless of the circumstances, partly due to the graphics quality and partly due to the mess of roads and rail. V is prettier and more nuanced. It shines and sparkles, but cities also burns, the pillaged landscapes are charred and smoking, and nuclear fallout adds a haunting glow. Fallout in IV just looks like any other ugly tile with a patch of ugly layered on top.

Perhaps I should not have combined these. Interface goes to IV, graphics to V.

IV loads a game in seconds, V can take several minutes. Given how much a misclick can screw things up in either game, but particularly in the tactical combat of V, loading a turn is a huge deal and not an uncommon occurrence. Turns in IV can take very little time, particularly if there are no enemy movements to watch, while they can drag on in V. The start times are much different between the two as well. The only performance issue that I see in IV is when calculating damage from nukes, and since those tend to come out near the end of the game, if ever, this is rarely an issue.

This one obviously goes to IV.

All things considered, there are parts that I like in both of them. Since it is the newer title, V is going to get more developer attention and will most likely continue to gain relative to IV; in its initial state IV was clearly the superior game. If V ran better, and perhaps with a newer computer I'd see significant gains, then I think it would become the superior game by a non-trivial margin. Until then, I think it is entirely a matter of personal preference.

One member online

| Wednesday, December 4, 2013
I logged on to an empty guild.
An empty glass is not half filled.
Many things to do,
No one to group.
Maybe in LFG you'll meet someone new
Yet they're only there for the rep
And any loot that you might get,
Will seem meaningless.
Walking alone among the crowd
Makes me wonder if I should just log out

A Timeless Problem

/w Want to group up for rep?
/1 lf rep group
raretimer huolon
RareCoordinator: hulon died 500 weeks ago
RareCoordinator: huolon died 5 minutes ago
rartimer hulon
when is huolon back?
raretimer Huolon
/w may I join your rep group?

The Timeless Isle is a nice place. It's sunny. The flight path isn't too far. It showers players and their alts with gear. I was glad Chromie sent me there, as it got my newly-90 rogue into LFR much more quickly than waiting on LFG queues as DPS. My DK will be geared up in no time at all with all the plate drops I've gotten.

I like the rare mechanic. Everyone who gets a hit gets a hit. The only problems are ones that I wouldn't directly attribute to Blizzard, though perhaps they could help with. First, it makes me very sad when a rare dies when I'm a second away. That is why I try to just get my hit in and then wait it out, particularly if there aren't many people attacking yet. Second, I get annoyed by rare timer spam. I'd prefer if the addons used a separate channel.

Then there are the rep mobs. First off, Kilnmasters are ridiculous. Get hit and you die. For hunters this is a trivial matter, maybe because of the reduced AoE damage to pets. I can solo them, but to do so requires either perfect rhythm back and forth or spinning it in circles. The former is hard to keep up for the entire fight while the latter means that I'm causing random instant death to anyone nearby. I hate it when people bring their kilnmasters near others for this exact reason.

The bigger problem is with grouping. Since the loot is so generous it makes no sense at all to try to hoard it by taking your own kills. Rep is the same whether soloing or in a group, so grouping means that you have that much higher chance of being tagged on a kill, plus a much faster kill rate. If someone in the group is a hunter, well then everything is wonderful.

Yet people don't group up. Every person who is there for rep should be in a five-man group. To do otherwise is just stupid. Every time I am there I try to form groups. Sometimes I succeed. If I see more people, I try to bring them in too. If I could get rep in a raid I'd do that, once the daily elite kill is done, of course. Though even then, I suspect it would be worth missing out on the quest in exchange for having a tag and five-second kill time on every mob in sight.

I wonder if there is another mainstream title that has a solution to this. Not automatic grouping, but something like what Blizzard already does with the rares.

In defense of big, bright exclamation points

| Monday, December 2, 2013
are you done yet? you don't look done. maybe you need to kill some more bears.

Let's ditch that weirdo and instead get into the world, yea! Let's go talk to this guy, see what's up with him. It is nice weather indeed. That's cool. It's like a world. In the real world no one has quest markers, you have to talk to them to get a job. How about this guy? Kids died in the war. That's sad. I wonder if I can visit his kids' graves and drop off flowers for him or something? No? I guess I am a complete stranger. That's realistic that he has nothing for me. Maybe this guy. How's it going? Need to me to shoot any bears? Yes? Great, I'll get right on that.

Yep, these bears are so dead and this world is so awesome. I mean, none of those weirdos with the shouting and then whispering and then shouting some more. Pretty great. I kill those bears, sir. Thanks for the firewood, I mean family heirloom.

Hi! I'm an adventurer in search of adventure. Do you have any for me? No? Okay. Hello over there. You don't talk, got it. You, fellow, how are you today? Winter is coming? Yes sir, it is. Hello ma'am, do you need any help with anything? Going to the well? I could carry some buckets for you? No, you have it covered? No one fell in?

*unsheathes sword*

LISTEN TO ME: I am not here to socialize with a bunch of scripted idiots. I am here to get excuses to kill stuff. Unless you are going to give me something in exchange for killing something else, I do not want to talk to you. I'd prefer to not even look in your direction. The next person who looks at me and doesn't have a quest to kill stuff or carry stuff past people who I get to kill will die.


Thank you, insane shouting man.

Pet battles, the solution to Cataclysm

I admit it, I like pet battles. I like them more than I like doing Mount Hyjal more than once. It turns out they give a decent bit of xp. It's not a fast way to level, but it's a non-Hyjal way to level.

I don't like the PvP, mind you. My pets don't seem to be very good yet, since while I have a good selection of pets, my level 25 selection is limited. Someday though, I may enjoy it. I have this notion that I'll be able to watch what I tend to face and adapt accordingly. A bit of vorfreude.

In the meantime, I've been fighting NPC battles. It's been a romp around the world. At fight I'd think of what pet I was lacking and fly out to get it. Then I got all efficiency-oriented. Optimization is, for me, a form of fun, particularly when I'm the one working out the method. I like puzzles.

I switched methods to instead going to a zone and identifying those pets that are at their highest level in that zone. Once I have one of each of those I move on to the next. This minimizes leveling, since that can be somewhat tedious if done for its own sake. If I happen to get a rare that isn't of the highest level I still capture it, since a rat in the hand is worth ten thousand poor qualities in the bush. As I move along I switch pets in and out to fit the zone, thereby pushing everyone upward a little bit each time.

I've learned that strong against and weak against aren't absolutes. Thorns might have lower damage against critters, but critters often do lots of small attacks, meaning lots of triggers. They are strong against mechanicals, but mechanicals often use single large attacks. Similarly, while fliers are strong against aquatics, their rapid, small attacks can be greatly reduced by a shell shield. A critter fighting something with a shell shield is a joke, with swarms entirely negated.

As with all things that involve moving around a lot, a druid is great to have, popping in and out of flight form in an instant to hop over enemies and hop to pets. I pick up herbs along the way, which give a whopping more than 100 experience each. Astounding, I know. But it all adds up. It all adds up to my druid being 81 and a quarter without yet recovering Frandral from the cave, though I did do everything up to that. A few instances might help too. I rather enjoy Blackrock Caverns.
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