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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)

Happy 4th of July!

July 4, 2014

Dear Reader,

Many of you are not in a country that celebrates the American Fourth.  That’s fine.  It’s Friday, so I’m sure you can find something else to celebrate.

It’s at that point in the summer where I’ve completely lost control of my bodily schedule; I just woke up about 20 minutes ago (around 1 p.m.), after having gone to bed at an unholy late hour.  I don’t like sleeping so late – or going to bed that late, for that matter – but in the summer, it seems to happen.  The schedule just slides later and later until we find ourselves here.

So today I’m celebrating earlier bedtimes, and other than that, taking the day off.

So find something to celebrate, whether it be through a #FF, with your loved ones (be they human or pets), or something on a more national scale.

See you Monday.

Sincerely,

Stubborn

DoTA 2

July 2, 2014

Dear Reader,

One thing I’ve experimented with this summer is DoTA 2.  Since my wife is very monocular when it comes to games, she’s been focused solely on WoW.  As a result, I’ve been playing other games with some of my other buddies from time to time.  One of them, the really friendly guy in our new guild, kept mentioning DoTA 2 as an alternative game we could try.  Since it was a MOBA, there was no way my buddy was going to be  interested, but eventually, I figured I’d give it a try.

It’s a medium-sized download from Steam, but it’s also free, so that was a huge plus.  I’ve only played three matches, mind you, so as I put forth my opinion here, keep in mind my deep ignorance to the deeper elements of the game.

Let me also preface that the really friendly guy who got me willing to try DoTA 2 is a bit of a fanatic; he vehemently insists that the game is special and good and not at all like LoL.  He does admit to some of the weaker elements of DoTA 2, as well, but for the most part he’s a zealous defender of the game.  And he hates League of Legends.  I assume there’s some sort of community v. community mindset here, like rival sports teams, but I don’t know.  I never knew anyone zealous about LoL, so I can’t really be sure.

All that said, he’s been very helpful and patient as I learned the game, which has a much steeper learning curve than LoL does.  That, in fact, is the one criticism I really have of the game: it’s hard as hell to get into.  That’s the one deficit which he acknowledges, too; the game is not open to new players.  As much as one might talk about fighting games as closed communities nowadays, communities that study frame rates and pixel distances and so forth, DoTA 2 was much less accessible than League.

There’s two primary reasons for this.  First, all the champions are available all the time.  When you first get into League, you can only really afford to purchase a few champs, and there’s only ten free a week.  If you play a reasonable game or two a day, you can try each of those champs.  In DoTA 2, there’s hundreds of champs to wade through on day 1.  That’s not a great strategy, really.  I like the “fairness” of equal access for all, but it’s dangerously overwhelming.

Second, there’s a hell of a lot more buttons in DoTA 2.  A lot of League has been streamlined, but in DoTA 2, it’s not.  There’s the basic 4 attack and 6 item buttons, but then there’s more.  You have to hit a button to level up.  You have a mule (referred to as the “chicken” by “real” players).  You have the ability to click and target others, which removes your own action bar as you “inspect” them.  You can create target groups, like in the RTS games on which DoTA was originally based.  It’s goddamn overwhelming for someone used to League or any new player to the genre.

The map, too, is far more complex than League’s.  It’s not perfectly symmetrical, for one; each team has two short and one long lane.  The long lane is terrifyingly spread out between towers, and players find themselves far away from any kind of help.  Additionally, the jungle is far more complex.  Instead of two sets of jungling “paths” on each side of the river, there’s hundreds of nooks and crannies in which to get lost or mis-path and end up wandering into the wrong place.  There’s also jungle areas outside the outer lanes, which I keep forgetting about and getting ganked from.  These changes make a seemingly similar game incredibly confusing.

To top all of this off, the game is a lot burstier and longer range than League.  In my first game, I was being hit by abilities that I couldn’t identify the source of.  Sure, this can happen in a very limited way in LoL: Ashe’s ultimate arrow, Lux’s light beam, Gangplank’s ship barrage – there’s a few.  But it seems in DoTA that many champions have off-screen ranged abilities.  This is partially because you cannot zoom out in DoTA 2.  I feel like I’m a chiropractor treating my champion’s back the whole time, while claustrophobically trapped inside this tiny screen box.  Since CC is stronger and attacks longer-range, you’re often dead before you could possibly react.

I realize these are all just differing playstyles, not actual problems with the game.  I’ve grown accustomed to one play style, and the other one’s a bit stifling.  My vast knowledge of League toons is gone, too, so I don’t know what my competitors can do to me when I’m facing them.  On the other hand, most of the abilities in DoTA 2 are reflected by abilities in League, so once I see abilities in action, I can usually say, “Okay, that works like Tristana’s attack speed boost,” which helps me understand the new toons.

All in all, it’s enjoyable, but I’m not to the depth of play to see the real differences between the games.  I can see the increased complexity allowing for much greater finesse and subtlety in DoTA 2, but I’m barely able to control the mule, so tiny hiding spots and teleport ganks and river buffs are lost on me.  I’ll stick with it, nonetheless, as I assume once I begin to adapt to the button and map differences I can begin to at least dip my toe in the 100 champion differences, but it may be a while before I get there.

Sincerely,

Stubborn (Sand King / Windranger / Lion)

Deja Vu

June 30, 2014

Dear Reader,

It seems that every time I have a computer error – every time – it’s a hard drive failure.  I’ve only once had a problem that wasn’t a hard drive crash; pink lines were appearing in my game of Fallout 3.  It was pretty obvious it was the graphics card in that case, so I replaced it – like that – and was back to fighting the Legion.  Hard drive failures, though, are much more expansive problems.

So far be it from me to be surprised this morning when my computer wouldn’t boot.  It would turn on, try to boot, then flash a blue screen and try again.  I figured it was the hard drive, but ran a system diagnosis.  Sure enough, the only error was the hard disk.  Lovely.

So after lunch I went to the local computer store and bought a replacement – an upgrade, actually, since conveniently the mid-line drives were out of stock.  Whatever.  It’s just money.  It’s not like I have a house to sell and a cross-country move coming up or anything.

So now I’m writing from my wife’s computer while mine finishes installing Windows, which will be followed by an enormous about of system updates, since the Windows I’m installing is wildly out of date.  After that, I suppose I can install Steam and download a game to play while I’m installing all the gigantic pieces of software on my computer.  Then, of course, come all the peripheral programs like the Curse client, virus protection, and so forth.

Hopefully I’ll be caught back up by tomorrow night, but in the meantime, I’m stuck wondering which of my games save information server side and which I’ll be starting from scratch.  I hope the Steam Cloud is as prolific as I’ve heard mentioned; otherwise, I’ll likely not be finishing some of the games I’ve invested so much time in simply because I don’t want to have to go through them again.  It’s not that they weren’t fun; I just don’t usually get much out of playing a game a second time; playing the first seven hours of a game just to see the last hour or two isn’t a good investment in my book.

So that’s where I am, today.  I’ll go swimming here in a bit to give my computer time to get the Windows updates, but other than that, I see a lot of sitting and waiting in my future.

Hope your day’s going better!

Sincerely,

Stubborn

P.S. I suspect it’s my power company’s fault, by the way.  There were zero – ZERO – power issues for two years when I first lived here, and now the power seems to go out about once a month for an hour or two.  I have no doubt that the sudden outages have contributed to my hard drive death.  Good luck proving that, of course, for any kind of compensation.  The most recent power outage – this morning – immediately preceded my computer’s failure to boot.  Thanks, Ameren!

Hey! It’s Friday!

June 27, 2014

Dear Reader,

Deep in the throws of summer, it can become hard to keep track of days.  Apparently, Friday has sneaked up on me.  Luckily, I’ve had plenty to do, so I can pick quickly and give you the rundown on yet another Steam purchase from this sale.

I mentioned before State of Decay, which was a lot of fun, so much so that I blew through it in only a few days.  Gunpoint, my second purchase from the sale, was similar, except it was much shorter.  Much, much shorter, like “finished it in one sitting” shorter.  Of course, your “game playing” sittings may not be 3 or 4 hours like mine sometimes are, but nonetheless, it did NOT meet its Ed Value; I got about 4 hours for 5 bucks.

Those four hours were fun, though.  The level of difficulty and scaling up of challenge were very well tuned.  The story was nicely thematic, adding to the atmosphere of the game.  It played on its own silliness a little; part of the game’s conceit is that you have super-pants that allow you to jump very high and fall safely.  Since those pants become a central figure of the investigation in which you’re taking part, the whole reflexive silliness builds on itself nicely.

On top of the platformer aspect of the game, there’s also a puzzle-solving aspect.  You use various wires and switches to accomplish tasks like opening doors or shocking guards into unconsciousness through wall sockets.  I have no doubt that each level had a variety of approaches one could take to solve it, but, as I usually do, I went for stealthy and nonlethal as often as I could.

I see why it got the very good reviews it got, and I agree with them, but I simply wish there were more content.  It’s depressing to be done with both of my Steam purchases before the sale’s even over.  Of course, that’s partially a pacing issue on my end, but it’s summer.  I’m a teacher.  What else do I have to do?

The game partially makes up for its short campaign by having an active modding and content-generating community.  If you’re into that sort of thing, I’m sure the longevity of the game could be increased indefinitely, but I tire of sorting through the partially-dones and mostly-lousies to find the really good ones.  I already do that for Shadowrun Returns; I’ve no interest in doing it for a second game.

So if you like puzzle platformers like Mark of the Ninja, I’d heartily recommend the game, but be aware that you’re not getting a lot of hours for you money.

Sincerely,

Stubborn

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