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The Joy of Civ

July 21, 2014

Dear Reader,

So, I haven’t gotten a lot of the superfluous WoW activities done this week, like my Firelands or ICC runs, because instead I’ve been playing Civ 5.  Surprisingly (or not, since it’s a very popular game), a lot of the people in my gaming circle turned out to already own it.  So when the nice guy in our guild, who has instructed that I refer to him as “Jacob” on this website, found out that so many of us owned it, he suggested we all put together a game and play.

So we did.  We’re only about halfway through it, but so far it’s been a lot of fun.  I see a very slow end-game, since we have 10 civs in the game and, by the time the whole map is revealed, each turn will take forever to process.

I ended up getting India, which is great for me since I love to make a lot of culture, and its civilization bonus allows big cities with fewer penalties, making culture progress a bit easier.  However, I ended up in a huge, empty area near an enemy Civ, so if I didn’t fill it, the enemy might.  So I actually ended up in a position where I have a ton of cities, instead.  Bleh, but it was better for the team that I do it.

The AI, though, is behaving oddly; half of their team made a settler but never founded a second city.  We’re blowing them out of the water as a result, but I haven’t a clue as to why they behaved that way.  I feel like capturing their cities just to destroy their stupid settlers, which I’m tired of seeing sitting there doing nothing.

On a separate note, I’ll be moving two weeks from today.  In a few posts, you should expect to see a hiatus note; I can’t keep this going when things get really busy here.  Be prepared.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (Jacob is the pet’s name)

Tanking SoO a Second Time

July 18, 2014

Dear Reader,

So after last week’s flex debacle, I was pretty unsure about my capability to tank anymore.  However, my mother didn’t raise a quitter, either, so I figured I’d give it another shot.

I had hoped it would be easier for a few reasons.  First, I had a better weapon.  Instead of the 476 I was sporting, a 540 had dropped the previous week (the only loot drop on 16 rolls, you might remember).  Of course, after I’d gemmed and enchanted it, I remembered that I might have gotten a tanking heirloom, and when I checked, sure enough, there it was.  So I gemmed and enchanted that one and went in swinging a 556 this week.  It made a huge difference, though the DK tank that was in there – not my buddy – had to stop attacking not to pull threat back.  Since fully buffed he had like 1.2 million hp, I assume his gear was a tiny bit better than mine.  I kept making jokes about him being the off tank, but I don’t think he got them; he just seemed confused.  I didn’t have threat issues against dps, though, so that was a major improvement.

Secondly, I had a better idea of when to use defensive cooldowns.  I don’t think I died on any of the early bosses, and I only died a few times on the later ones, which again was a major improvement.  Knowing how to reduce the damage on abilities that had killed me the previous week certainly improved my life expectancy, and I additionally respecced into Eternal Flame instead of Sacred Shield, which seemed to help keep me up, as well.

Lastly, I had actually seen the boss fights.  I didn’t know what to do in the “other” realm of Norushen the first week, but I did this time.  I still struggled to pick up adds again on Norushen (I really hate that fight), but I was better about it this week than I was last.  I had towers on Galakras stolen from me by the DK tank who didn’t listen to the raid leader, but it’s not like that add fight is particularly rough, so I improved there.  I didn’t mess up bombs on IJ like I previous had, and so forth.  Overall, it was a much easier week all around.

I will say that Spoils seems like a fight solely designed to punish tanks, especially when two different people on my side were opening boxes at cross purposes from one another on opposite sides of the room.  I’m not sure if it was a hazing ritual or some kind of test, but I don’t think I let anyone die, so I guess I passed.  Perhaps, though, the fact that I started opening my own boxes towards the end of the fight (which only stopped one of them) was their real goal; I may not know the order, but by god I’d rather pace the fight myself.

So I enjoyed my tanking this time, and no longer assume it’s my old age and rusty practice that was contributing to last week’s abject failure.  I’m happy to report that I’ll likely keep tanking when they need a tank or heal if they need a healer in those flex runs.  The Saturday raids will still be getting Iambic’s dps unless otherwise requested, but I’m perfectly fine doing that.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and contributing to all three roles)

Spoiled for Shortage

July 16, 2014

Dear Reader,

From a gaming point of view, things are pretty good here.  Too often, I’ve had more than enough to post due to guild issues.  I have been accused in the past, in fact, of generating issues with guilds to have something to write about.  That’s not true, of course, but at the moment I find myself with a dearth of topics because things are, in fact, going so smoothly.

I’m in a position where I’m comfortably playing 4 characters in a guild with people who enjoy doing a wide variety of things and are very open minded about allowing participants to bring whatever character they want.  No “serious” guild would have allowed my to bring most of my characters on their “first” raids.  The irony, of course, is that this is a 14/14H both 10 and 25 guild, so they’re very serious about some things.  Yet they allowed me to take my shaman, which probably had less than 100k dps on my first raid, for example, and you read last week, dear reader, about my first experience tanking in flex.

I don’t think I’ve ever been comfortably rotating so many characters essentially on a daily basis, either, and I strongly suspect that’s because of my level of comfort with my guild.  When I was server transferring all over, looking for a home, it would have been too costly to take everyone to each new server, so I was pretty limited in my play choice simply by the financial restrictions of character migration.  Now that I’m pretty comfortably situated, I can slowly and surely consolidate my characters in one place, giving me a variety of characters from which to choose.  It’s certainly kept the play a lot more fresh and allowed me to fool around with different roles, specs, and professions.

In fact, I’ve been leveling my two new professions on my rogue: engineering and mining.  Some of my early posts were about how terrible leveling engineering was, but this time, the process has been much smoother.  I don’t know if they’ve streamlined the process, am using a better guide, or am just more familiar with the profession, but this time the engineering has flown by.  On the other hand, the mining has been a pain.  I’m fine with throwing money at the problem, but there are stages in the leveling progression where you can only get skill ups by actually gathering the mining nodes.

Now, to be fair, I admit that it’s not really a huge issue.  I can fly wherever and mine the stuff, hearth back, and be done in maybe a half hour.  It’s not a huge deal.  But still, I find it odd alongside a system that can allow you to purchase a level 90 with zero professions which will then, obviously, be power-leveled up.  It seems to me that those “gray areas” of skill ups should be smoothed out so that there’s always other options.  That way, if you want to sit around in town and buy your ore and smelt it to 600, fine.  If you want to fly around and save all your money by mining yourself, fine.  Either way, you have a choice.

So overall, I’m very comfortable and enjoying the juggling. Hopefully it will last.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and content)

A Dark Room

July 14, 2014

Dear Reader,

I’ve made it known that I’m a fan of Extra Credits.  While I may not agree with everything they publish, I’ve found a majority of their episodes interesting and discussion-generating.  I particularly like their episodes on the relationship between games and education, an area of study close to my heart.  Additionally, I like that they bring games to my attention of which I might not have otherwise heard, which broadens my gaming opportunities beyond just what I or my buddy come across.

In their most recent episode, they discuss some games that develop over play time.  I’ve now tried all three of the games they mention, and for my part, I found A Dark Room to be by far the most interesting and fun.  I won’t go into great detail about the game itself, as the discovery of the game is part of the enjoyment, and I wouldn’t want to rob anyone of that.

I will say that I was afraid it would take a while for the game to get going, considering its starting screen is so sparse, but it really didn’t.  About two or three minutes into the game, I was hooked, and I played it consistently over the next few days until I finished it – the first round of it, anyway.  It’s an excellent game to play while doing something else; I have recently began to level my mining and engineering on my rogue, and when I had a large stack of ore to smelt, I could happily switch to A Dark Room and play for a few minutes, then switch back.  In fact, at one point, I was playing Candy Box, A Dark Room, and Dungeons of Dredmore all at the same time.  The whole “waiting” aspect of the game(s) worked well in that regard.

I mentioned it to my buddy, who I suspected would enjoy it, but I was overheard by my new buddy, the nice guy from my guild.  He’s a very high-energy player; he categorizes himself as “wanting maximum actions per minute.”  He has sniffed haughtily at the turn-based strategy games I play, and he has puffed out his superior chest (phrased intentionally) at my volume of rogue-likes.  He has turned up his nose at any side-scrollers, as well.  In other words, he’s a bit of a gaming elitist.  He’s young, too, so I assumed that a game like A Dark Room would hold less than no interest for him.

But I was wrong.  I’m not sure if my buddy talked to him about it and its quality or he tried it out on his own, but he, too, has been playing and enjoying it.  He said, “I’ve never played a text-based adventure before!” and he seemed to be really enjoying it.

So if I, my buddy, and my nice-guy friend from the guild can all enjoy A Dark Room, I think that you likely can, too, dear reader.  I realize that this is in no way a “useful” review, but like I said, the discovery within the game is part of the joy, so give it a try and let me know what you think!

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and proprietor of a raucous village)

After DPSing and Healing, now – Tanking SoO

July 11, 2014

Dear Reader,

That’s right, not only is my flex raid leader pleasant, industrious, and personable, he’s also extremely forgiving.  He’d have to be to let me tank all the way through flex SoO this past Wednesday.

Look, it’s not that I don’t like dpsing or healing.  It’s really more that I’m a shifty person and have a hard time staying true to only one character or one role in WoW.  I’ve done it all, now, even at heroic levels in various different expansions.  So I’d spent the last few weeks getting rid of my last blues on my tank and spit polishing his gems and enchants so that I might give tanking another whirl.

Tanking was my first real love in WoW; my paladin was my first max-level character, and prot was my first end-game spec.  My first raid – Kara – was completed as a tank.  I always thought of myself as a tank, even when I was healing on Stubborn and dpsing on Iambic, though admittedly less and less so the further I got from my paladin.

One reason for the distance was that I hated the changes they made to tanking in – well, really – in every expansion.  Threat has become less and less of a mechanic and active mitigation more and more of one.  If I want to prevent damage and/or heal it, I can just be a disc priest.  I don’t like that tanks have been given more and more defensive cooldowns and less and less interesting choices to make.  You hit button A during boss mechanic B.  You hit button X during boss mechanic Z.  Not only is it boring, if you make a mistake, it costs the entire raid an attempt as your death likely means a quick wipe.  Disinterest + huge responsibility is not a good combination.

So I stopped tanking for a long time, but now that my tanking buddy’s back and I’ve been observing him getting to tank, I got the itch again, too, and my guild was kind enough to let me scratch it last Wednesday.

I honestly don’t know if I liked it.  I was so unaware of the tanking mechanics for each boss that it again qualified as a “new” raid for me, and I did make mistakes – a lot of them.  Luckily, the raid is so vastly overgeared that they were usually (always?) able to recover from my death, but it was still quite irritating, if only on a personal level.  I’m quite sure gearing was an issue; my gear score was only 518 and my health 650k unbuffed or so compared to the usual 750-900k unbuffed tanks we occasionally get.

On top of that – and if you’ve been a long time reader you know I never complain about gear drops – I got zero gear from the first boss up until Siegecrafter, and that includes an additional 6 coins on top of it, so I was zero for 17 at one point.  The mace on Siegecrafter dropped, which was a huge upgrade, thankfully (as my weapon was my weakest piece), but still, I went 1 for 20 for the entire night.  That doesn’t exactly encourage me that next week would be any easier.

So I don’t know.  I may have lost interest in tanking as a whole.  I don’t like the different emphases from when I first started tanking.  Then again, maybe it was just a sticky run because it was my first as a tank.  I’ll have to wait and see what next week looks like before I’m sure one way or the other about who I want to take to 100 first in WoD.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and tanking – maybe)

Friends like These

July 9, 2014

Dear Reader,

A funny thing happened the other night in WoW that I thought I’d try to share.  I really have no idea how well this will translate into text, but I figured I’d give it a shot. My blind buddy gets a lot of flak because – well – for no reason, really.  Just because he’s my buddy and that’s what guys do.

One of his core personality characteristics is self-sufficiency, almost to the point of never asking anyone for anything.  He prides himself on this self-reliance.  He enchants and gems his own gear, brings his own flasks, and is always to raid on time without needing a summon.

Except recently.  For whatever reason, in the last few days he’s been a bit turned around.  When we decided to go to Dragon Soul, he flew to Dragonblight – an easy mistake to make, but still, we gave him flak for it.  He asked for a summon, but we were already in the instance, and the stone’s all the way up at the top of the cavern.  He was annoyed he’d have to fly their himself, and that we weren’t going to wait for him.  So when my other buddy and I went into the instance and got killed by the first boss, he viciously gloated that we’d gotten ourselves killed.  We of course blamed him for being in the wrong place.  It was all friendly, but heated nonetheless.

He got mad enough to actually complain that we gave him too much shit instead of thanking him for tanking, so of course I immediately thanked him for his tanking, which he complained about because it was “so disingenuous.”  You just can’t win with some people.

Afterwards, we flew out to Ulduar to help out another friend.  This time, my blindish buddy for some insane reason instead ported to Uldum.  He was really off his game.  This time, of course, we offered to summon him and flew to the stone and waited.  Instead, this time, he showed up in Dalaran complaining that he didn’t need a summon because he had the Signet of the Kirin Tor.  So this time, when we were willing to help him, he blew us off.  Naturally we gave him even more grief.

But it wasn’t over yet.  After all of this, we decided to do an MSV mount run.  We hearthed to Shrine, and I told my buddy to fly to MSV North/Northwest of Shrine.  We got there, and naturally he was nowhere to be found.  I checked his location in the battle.net and saw he was in “The Gilded Foyer.”  Well, that sounded like a place in Shrine, so I began to berate him for not even having left Shrine yet.  He snapped back instantly that he was not only AT the instance but already INSIDE.  Well, I had been put in my place, so I apologized for having made an assumption and stepped in.  The group I was with went ahead and pulled the first trash back and was obliterated.

Well, it turned out he was in Mogu’Shan Palace.  He’d gone into the wrong instance.  We all had a good laugh, of course, and gave him an exponentially larger amount of flak since he’d been so sure he was in the right this time.

A fine ending to this story happened while writing it.  I was on Mumble telling my buddy I was writing this post, and he defensively pointed out that it was “my fault” because I’d given him “ambiguous directions.”  Technically, he’s right, of course, but I pointed out that MS Palace had a purple, dungeon entrance and MS Vaults had a green, raid instance.  He insisted that the one he’d gone into had a green entrance, so I told him to go there and take a screenshot.

I never got that screenshot from him.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and laughing)

Oh, Hey, it was Monday – or – Weekend Normal Full Clear!

July 8, 2014

Dear Reader,

So a majority of my play time recently has been committed to Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall.  As you likely remember, I’m largely opposed to DLCs as a business practice, but this felt more like a true expansion to the game, so when it was on sale for about 5 bucks, I scooped it up.  I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it, but as I haven’t finished it, I don’t want to discuss it fully just yet.  Just know that it’s been very good, even better than the original, and it’s worth the cost.

In more interesting news, the somewhat on-again off-again Saturday raid was back on this week doing normals again, and it went very smoothly for the most part.  We got hung up on – of all bosses – Malkorok, but once we took care of the issues there, we went straight to Garrosh with relatively few problems.

Then there was Garrosh… Well.  It went a bit downhill from there.  I didn’t specifically time it, but I think we got through Thok in about 4 hours, then to Garrosh in another hour or so, and then we worked on Garrosh for like three hours.  Seriously.

First off, I really like the people in my guild I raid with; I would never raid for seven hours with people I don’t like.  Still, that’s a long raid; it’s like a day job.  By the end, I was making simple mistakes like running to the wrong raid marker and so forth.  It wasn’t a huge problem, of course, and it didn’t happen repeatedly, but still; it’s a little embarrassing to be mind controlled when you’re out in left field instead of stacked up like you’re supposed to be.

There was a serious tanking issue there, too; the guy who was tanking was trying to help the raid out, but he was in full monk dps gear, so the damage spikes were incredible.  He repeatedly died during phases where the healers needed to be  moving.  But he’d been there the whole raid on one toon or another, trying to help, so asking him to step out wasn’t really an option.

So I stepped out; I’ve killed Garrosh (I should say I was carried through a Garrosh kill) in the past, and I’m never really there for the loot, so I figured I’d free up the slot to get a real tank in so the monk “tank” could switch to dps.

They one-shotted after that, which I know everyone was thrilled about – myself included – because those Saturday raids haven’t gotten through Garrosh before, only to him.  Sure, it was a long raid nonetheless, but we finished.  My wife and I both have a normal mode Garrosh kill.  Hurray us!

Of course, my blind buddy “forgot what day it was” and missed the start of the raid.  Then, when we had a spot for him, he’d wandered away from his computer and missed getting invited.  So he missed the kill, but only through his own social ineptitude.  I’m sure he’ll get it in the future, though, and hopefully not after 7 hours.

So grats to all of us!

Sincerely,

Stubborn (and Ahead of the Curve)

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