Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's In A Name?

This past Sunday was a joyous day for me.

Sunday was the day that, after countless attacks on Maexxna 25, Gothik 10 and Heroic Ymiron, I finally, finally upgraded my waist piece.

It was partially a matter of pride. I'm in Ulduar, dammit! I'm a Tier 8 raider, with Tier 8 britches! I don't need to be running around in a heroic badge belt! ...except that the [Sovereign's Belt] I replaced it with is off a heroic end boss. What's the difference?

This, my friends, is not [Vereesa's Silver Chain Belt].

I spent what must have been a month and a half raiding Naxxramas with a quest blue belt out of stubborn refusal to buy that piece of armor. No way in hell, I said time and time again, was I going to have the name of an enemy of the Horde and embarrassment to the Dark Lady's bloodline wrapped around this proud troll's waist. At some point, though, my thirst for big numbers managed to win out over my loyalty to Silvermoon, and I handed over the badges.

I've worn the damn thing ever since. Fuck.

Let me go into this a little deeper. My co-guild leader, Ailinea, is one of my best friends, and her toon is one of Jez's nearest and dearest as well. While Jez is perfectly aware that Aili outdoes her in damage 98% of the time (homegirl hit nearly 7k DPS in heroic Azjol-Nerub last night!), there's still a bit of tribal instinct that sees a tiny little girl elf wearing cloth robes, and is intensely protective of her. That's most of the reason she was so gung-ho in defeating the blue dragonflight -- yeah, trying to destroy all mortal magic users, bad thing, whatever; but going after her Linny? That's a killin' offense, right there.

Anyway, Ailinea was actually studying in Dalaran before the razing of Quel'Thalas and had to rush home when the Scourge steamrolled her city. So this random elf chick, who's banging a human of all things, trying to keep the sin'dorei out of the city when Aethas Sunreaver himself, y'know, is one... not to mention hating all over the Horde when they've shown her sister (you know, Sylvanas? The national hero who died defending their city? Yeah that one) more support in her people's time of need than the Alliance ever did...

You know, I think one of Jez's big problems so far is people judging her based on what some ancestors of her friends did before she was ever born. All she did was show up. Her people joined the Horde because their other option was to go extinct. All this crap that the elves and the orcs and the Forsaken did in their distant pasts? She doesn't give a damn. She's allied with these people because they're the only ones who ever gave her the option of allying, as opposed to trying to kill her.

Ahem. Anyway. I am not fond of Vereesa Windrunner. And given that it's a hunter(/enhance shaman) belt, I think we all know Sylvie's the better shot anyway. And it pissed me off for a long time to be wearing gear with her name on it. What sense does it make to name a piece of cross-faction badge gear after a character who openly hates one faction, anyway?

Doesn't matter now. It's gone! And I'd much rather wear a belt named after a dude I killed than some bitch the game won't let me kill.

So what is in a name, or in an armor slot? Have you ever had a piece of gear that just would not get upgraded to save its (or your) life? A single blue that you just couldn't get rid of, or an off-spec piece that you could never find an appropriate alternative to? Feel free to discuss among yourselves.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"Where we port up to? Antechamber?" "No no, the Unclechamber." "... 50 DKP plus. That one HURT, Jez."

(Alternate title: "Hey look! It's a lock pocket!" I was a punning machine Tuesday night.)

So I guess some talk about actual gameplay is warranted here, no? I'm running out of lore musings, fits of RP and pointless memes to toss up here -- I might as well discuss what I'm actually doing in game most of the time these days.

Which, right now, is Ulduar. After some stops and starts early on due to bugged fights and personnel shake-ups, my guild has finally started getting into the place regularly. It's been loads of fun so far -- difficult as crap, but once we got out of the Naxxramas steamroller mindset and back into the familiar "wipe, study, fix, try again" rhythm of true progression raiding, the majority of it has been completely doable.

So here be my impressions of Tier 8 raiding so far...

Emalon was surprisingly simple, mostly due to the utter face-pwning of our DK offtank. She's a newish member who's turning out to be one of the best /ginvites we ever spent. With a few exceptions (mostly guildies) I've had very sketchy experiences with DK tanks, probably due to a lot of them being DPSers who got a level 55 tank for Christmas. Anyway, with a good offtank , there's pretty much nothing to this little punk. It requires just enough coordination and communication that your average post-Wintergrasp PUG will probably fall apart on it, but a friends-of-friends "people that you know don't suck" pickup should be able to handle it just fine. If your guild is good at keeping track of changing situations, he's cake.

Of course, being the only one of your class in the raid and having your T8 PvE pants drop doesn't hurt either. Those were a MASSIVE upgrade from my T7 -- I'm much more impressed with this tier than the last. Ready to wear, too; with just the leatherworking leg enchant and no gems, they were still an improvement. Plus, the socket bonus is just +hit, which I'm drowning in, so I just put two straight +agi gems in them. In MM spec (which I'm admittedly not in for raiding often, wtb retadin/spriest PST) I'm now over 4700 AP and 35% crit, self-buffed. Very, very sexy. I do still need to regem a lot of my stuff from AP/Crit to straight +agi, between my "main spec" getting better benefits from agility post-3.1 and the fact that I'm in my "off spec" most of the time for raid utility reasons.

Anyway. Trollsie gives new VoA boss an 8/10. A fun, simple fight with tier drops... hard to beat that.

Flame Leviathan is simultaneously an incredible drudge and fun as crap. I wish there was less trash leading up to it, because it really does wear thin after a while. By the time we're to the boss, I'm half asleep... but getting to blow away dozens upon dozens of mobs is pretty much always fun. Most of my experience has been on a chopper; this week I got to pilot a demolisher, but aside from being a lot slower the trash wasn't much different. I didn't actually get to do the fight in the demolisher, because we were in the middle of pulling the boss when the sky fell open over my house, we were suddenly getting frequent lightning and quarter-sized hail, and the tornado sirens started going off. By the time that was done with and I logged back on, they'd pulled someone else in to get the kill. Anyway, it's somehow simple and confusing all at once, but it goes by quickly. Trollsie says: 6/10.

Razorscale, I'm proud to say we got down before she was recently nerfed. Back in my day the mole machines popped on opposite ends of the terrace from each other! *shakes cane* But seriously, it's a fun little fight. I generally enjoy alternating adds-boss-adds mechanics (dear, sweet, darling Curator, how I miss you...) and trying to ground the drake in as few passes as possible is fun too. An intial problem we had was being dot-heavy -- we'd get her to around 52% in the second pass, she'd fly off, we'd get adds, then the dots would tick down and she'd hit 50 and come down. Chaos ensued. We've streamlined things since then; barring any hiccups in the transition, we can take her pretty easily. Trollsie says: 8/10.

Ignis the Furnace Master. Please divert the ears and eyes of any children under 16.


OH MY GOD I HATE THIS BASTARD WITH SUCH A PASSION. The main reason he's so frustrating is that we've, so far, just had tremendously bad luck on him. We have the technique just about down. We aren't making any huge mistakes. He just tends to eat our healers. Badly. As in, "One healer is in the slag pot already and he hits Flame Jets right as the OT needs a massive heal, so the OT goes down, the add goes after the MT, and while the lone remaining healer is trying to keep the MT up through all that, the healer in the pot gets thrown out directly into a scorch and dies." It is absolutely bananas. The RNG has it out for us on this bitch; apparently Ambrosine of I Like Bubbles and her guild are not faring much better.

The fight itself isn't that bad. It feels a bit gimmicky for me, and I am personally indignant at not being able to shatter the golems myself... although it's nice to have a fight where I'm not on add duty for once. Trollsie says: 7/10 on paper, FUCK YOU/10 in practice. The above-mentioned pun was the only good thing about this stupid fight.

X-002 Deconstructor is fun as hell. He was a massive bitch until we figured out that if you tank him near enough to a scrap pile, he won't spawn bots from those piles. Tank him in between two piles on one side and you only get two streams of scrapbots to deal with. We went from calling a wipe mid-fight because he'd healed back up to 80% halfway through the enrage timer, to getting [Nerf Engineering] on both of our first two kills. We do have a tendency towards bad luck with light bombs hitting right before tantrums (often on the healers... noticing a trend here?) but once we got the new tanking position down, we've been able to drop him fairly reliably. And the mecha-Majin-Buu voiceovers don't hurt, either. Even when your priest gets squashed, it's hard not to giggle when he gets all "I DUN THINK IT BENDS DAT WAY :(" about it. This is hands down my favorite fight so far. Trollsie says: 9/10.

Oh, and before Tuesday's kill, we accidentally pulled both of his add groups at once. Downed them handily. "Damn. Is there an achievement for that?" "If there was an achievement for surviving your own stupidity, we'd all have it already." My guild leader wanted me to note that these two groups pulling together was the "too hard to deal with" bug that led them to pull the Decon trash from the instance altogether early on. Therefore, the fact that we downed the two pulls simultaneously makes us uber.

Kologarn. Urgh. We've downed him twice, but both times by the skin of our teeth. I hate it when progression kills are that close. The first time, we ended up at like 4% with no tanks alive, flailing helplessly at all our cooldowns. The second was a little better, but it was still on the verge of going completely out of hand when he dropped. The fight mechanic is neat (and thank God that damage done to the arms actually damages the boss, otherwise this would have been insane) but we're just plain having trouble dealing with all the focusing and refocusing and moving around that we're having to deal with. Trollsie says: 7/10 when properly executed, 4/10 so far with guild.

And we managed to knock down Auraiya a single time. It's just like everyone's said -- it's all about the pull. The fight is frantic as hell, but in a fun way. I had no damn clue whether we were doing good, bad or otherwise until my Kill Shot started proccing. That Pounce move is an absolute mess. It is a little bit overwhelming, to be perfectly honest, but at least below the overwhelming is a fairly easy kill (we basically one-shotted her, not counting a false start where the offtank didn't break line of sight in time and got eaten). Crazy cat lady falls to berserker wolf lady. And I got [Ironaya's Discarded Mantle] -- which I'd link, were I not at work right now. Suffice it to say they were a solid upgrade from my T7 shoulders, and they have a nice bluish-black version of the T8 shoulder graphics. Still a bit disproportionally ginormous on a troll chick (as most epic shoulders are), but dead sexy nonetheless.

That's Ulduar so far. We got as much down Tuesday as we ever had at all, not counting Auriaya. She's on notice for tonight, along with the Iron Council, Hodir and Freya. The Portents are raiding again -- at top-level, cutting-edge content, for the first time in WoW -- and damn, it feels good to be a gangsta.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five Hundred: To Battle!

From Too Many Annas, as always:

In 500 words, write up a battle between your character and a bad guy. This can be a monster, a player, an enemy, an instance boss - anything goes, so long as you’re writing an actual fight scene, and not a “mental” scene. If your character is totally against all fighting, today’s the day to pick a more aggressive alt to write about. Whether your character wins or loses is up to you.


Jezriyah ducked off the road and behind a stone column, Micropterus swift on her heels, holding perfectly still as she watched her breath cloud softly in the frigid air.

A moment later, the two Drakkari berserkers ambled by, unaware of their southern cousin's presence. The Darkspear raised a hand to cast a faint red mark over the head of the (only slightly) larger one. She glanced down to the scorpid at her feet, giving him a soft nod. He skittered forward, weaving through the ferns alongside the stone path. A moment later he exploded from the leaves in a burst of waving claws and angry hissing clicks, slashing the massive troll's ankles twice before flicking his tail forward to inject a dose of poison into the target's calf.

The berserker gave an angry roar, looking down as he jumped back. "What crazy evil loa is this?!"

"A measly bug-spirit!" the other barked, heaving his axe from his back.

Micropterus dodged the oncoming attacks deftly, weaving between their feet. He moved masterfully around them and down the road, luring them away and turning their backs to his mistress.

"That's a good love," Jezriyah purred, raising her gun and reaching into her ammo pouch. By touch alone she fished her first two bullets out. The first went off flawlessly into the berserker's back, a slow-releasing serpent's venom, barely noticeable in the melee. The second landed squarely in the center of his spine, between the shoulderblades, loaded with a highly reactive chimera-blood poison. The second the two fluids combined, the berserker howled in blistering pain, spinning around to face her. "Miserable whelp!" he roared, charging towards her, steps faltering, as his companion continued to swing in vain at the scorpid.

She let out a barking laugh, loading in a third bullet, this one coated with an arcane enchantement. "Die like your gods did, wretch!" she yelled back, firing directly into his throat. The berserker stopped, stumbling, as blood seeped from the singed hole in his skin. He could only squint and hiss angrily at the hunter as he crumbled to the ground.

Jezriyah turned her attention to the second warrior, still scrapping with her pet, his movements already clumsy from the effect of the scorpid poison. She moved more slowly this time against her weakened target, aiming carefully at the back of his skull. Two carefully placed shots were enough to dispatch him, his body dropping like a rock.

Micropterus just barely dodged the falling troll, pausing a moment before darting back to Jezriyah's side, chirping happily.

"Ya done good, chile," she cooed, rummaging through the two dead trolls' meager belongings. She smiled as she picked up the carved stone idol she'd been looking for. "Perfect."

The huntress stood up, gazing at the bodies on the ground that, save for the extra muscle, could pass for her brethren back home. "Waste of perfectly good troll blood," she spat, before clicking her tongue to beckon her pet as she headed back towards Ebon Watch.

The Others

I've got alts. A good number of them. In fact, my slots are full on my home server, and I have five or six toons on other realms as well. A good handful of these characters are unused ones that I can't make myself delete because I put too much work into them, and some others are ones I play fairly regularly and haven't managed to come up with a convincing backstory for yet. But I do have characters with personalities behind them, though none of them have Jezriyah's detailed backstory. So I figure a quick introductory post is in order, so if I reference any of them in the future, you'll all have some idea what I'm talking about.

First up is Raenie Sparkshard. Gnome frost mage. She's an instructor of Stormwind University, and an associate of Arrens Caltrains. She's based more closely on me personality-wise than any of my other characters -- while Jez is definitely my ball-busting, heroic fantasy self, Rae is pretty much what'd happen if Medivh got bored one day and yanked my nerdy ass through the Nether over to Azeroth.

Rae had never fit in quite well with her people -- love them though she might, they were just a bit too... timid. Not physically, mind you; she's definitely more a lover than a fighter. But there's this whole quiet, polite mannerism that they have that she just doesn't. It wasn't until the evacuation of Gnomeregan and her subsequent move to Ironforge that Raenie discovered her real problem: she was meant to be born a male dwarf.

The words that come to mind are from a Bette Midler song. Too loud, too big, too much to bear / Too bold, too brash, too prone to swear! She's not going to pretend to be any tougher than she is, but she's got a big (foul) mouth and a lot of opinions, and is a bit of a lush besides. She's most at her element with a bottle of rum in one hand, some good cheese in the other, and somebody to argue with. Deep within, she's desperately needy, and craves the approval and affection of others -- but she's very, very good at ignoring those tendencies.

I haven't gotten to actively RP with her yet, as Arrens' and my schedules tend to disagree. But I've let her monologue in my head while she's questing, and she should prove quite a lot of fun to develop further.

The sisters Stonefoot, Trokha and Paknah, blood DK and enhancement shaman, raised by a widower father. Trokha, the eldest, felt a strong connection early on to the elements and the spiritual past of the orcs, and began training as a shaman at a fairly early age. Paknah, meanwhile, took strongly after her warrior father and had an axe in each hand almost before she could walk. They made a formidable team, Paknah taking on their enemies while Trokha called upon the spirits to aid her blows and heal her wounds, but they ended up in over their heads in the Ghostlands. Trokha was slain by the Scourge, and Paknah barely escaped.

After being bedridden for months with her injuries, Paknah decided to take up her sister's mantle and train as a shaman. She spent months in prayer, meditation and training, and turned out to be a completely mediocre healer. All her trainers knew it wasn't remotely her calling, but she wouldn't be dissuaded from following her sister's path, so she was assigned to the Barrens where even her meager skills would prove some use.

She was following two warriors taking supplies from the Crossroads to Camp Taurajo when they were attacked by centaur. They were quickly overwhelmed, and Paknah once again found herself standing alone. With her sister's death replaying in her mind, she felt her old warrior's bloodlust rising in her again. Taking up the injured warriors' axes, she begged the spirits to aid her what they could and dove into the melee. To the surprise of everyone (especially the centaur), her blows came more swiftly and strongly than ever before and she was able to drive back the entire raid. Her teachers rejoiced at the breakthrough and she began to grow stronger, finding a group of adventurers to travel and train with.

And it was about this time that Trokha, clad in dark plate armor, walked back into Orgrimmar. Freed from the Scourge, she spent several days hiding out, slowly regaining memories of her past life and struggling to reconcile them with the monster she'd seen herself become. After a long fireside conversation under the stars with an older orc, who'd gone through the same struggles after breaking free of the Legion, she committed herself to reclaiming her life. The next morning she sought out her father and sister, and after much confusion and explanation, they were joyously reunited. Trokha is currently exploring her people's background in Outland -- she knows she'll never again call on the elements as she once did, but she seeks desperately to at least find their forgiveness.

Those are the ones with the most development; the others are just vague character prototypes. Rylienne is high society gone wrong -- she was a well-off quel'dorei with no real lot in life before the fall of the Sunwell, and has nothing to show for herself now. She's good at playing the victim; the fact that she's a warlock and reliant on demonic magic, her well-hidden but nearly-cripping bloodthistle addiction -- it's all someone else's fault, somehow. Pretty much every horrid stereotype about Blood Elves all rolled into one.

Herriet is an undead rogue. In life, she was the daughter of a human trader who spent extensive time in Silvermoon with the high elves; she died and became Scourge around the age of 14, so is physically a young girl, though she's mentally grown up since being freed with the Forsaken. She uses her young appearance to her advantage quite often (hell, she's an undead rogue, she uses everything to her advantage) and spends most of her time in Silvermoon where she visited so often as a child.

Jiyoti is a troll shadow priest -- Jezriyah's mother, actually, whose story is mostly documented in Jez's own.

Xozwak is my third and last troll, a warrior who ranks somewhere between a surf crawler and the pot it's caught in intelligence-wise. He personifies the troll opening spiel -- superstitious and bloodthirsty. He kills things because killing things is fun.

And finally Rhysandre... the paladin that I'm leveling with my guildie Ailinea's new hunter. They are Silvermoon's Jack and Karen. Be forewarned.

That sums up the ones I've got toddling around my head right now. My muse is fickle and has a tendency to leap to odd places, so at any given point there may be some kind of story based on any one of these... be prepared.