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As I trudged over to the Timeless Yawn to do my penance for having enjoyed the game in a previous life1, I started to notice something odd.

I was blowing stuff up. I mean, 60 to 80% better than any of my other 90s that frequent the Isle, including those that far outgear me.  Wattup?

I laid awake that night pondering two things.  (1) Did somebody screw up the label on that decaf diet soda I had drank, and (2) how in the world can an undergeared Warlock outdo a less undergeared Hunter or Shadow Priest? 

In answer to (1), I was pretty certain they had, as this was the second time I had been unable to sleep easily after sampling its contents.  (2) was a bit more difficult to answer.

I’ve always held that my first best calling in this game has been in the form of a BM Hunter. I fell in love with that spec when BRK was telling us how to use Doctor Boom to gauge our DPS in a game that offered no target dummies.

Shortly after that, I became enamored with the Demonology Warlock spec; I spent almost as much time raiding as a Warlock as a Hunter during BC. Those two classes and specs have been my favorites ever since.

DPSer CollageSo few choices, so little DPS

But some drastic changes took place with the BM spec – and I’m not talking about the shift from Mana to Focus.  The whole playstyle changed. Back in the day, BM was a lot more proactive rather than reactive. You had to plan your shots out so that you got the most of each. There were flaws, yes, but that’s not the point. The point is that it changed, possibly to something other than BM.

Meanwhile, Demonology had a lot of similarity to BM at the time, which is probably why I liked it so much.  But, though great change took place (looking at YOU, mandatory demon form), Demo retained its quintessential feel, the sense of engagement.

Let’s put this another way.  You know how in a video game, pressing a button sometimes has a visceral feel to it. You feel like there are, I dunno, big-assed levers attached to that button, that go off and actuate many things that then cause green death to erupt from the ground around your adversary.

Demonology has that. It has that feeling that if you try just a little more, put a little more heart into it, you’ll do better.  Jong famously said it best for me: as a belf retadin, the best approach for  maxdps was to get up in the boss’ face, rip your shirt off, howl and the moon, and fucking flip out.

In Warlock terms, this means you let this guy do the driving.

palpatine

Not ripping his shirt off, and we’re good with that.

That blog entry of Jong’s was a long time ago2, but to this day it still rings true.  To really do well as a Warlock, channel your spite, your hate, your bad attitude at the bus driver this morning, your angst over the rising cost of Lite Soy Double Chociato Mochas at your corner beanery, your despair at the Pizza Hut online ordering system. Channel it all through your hands, into the keyboard, and into that avatar on the screen. Turn your hate into pain. Turn that pain into victory.

/wipes chin

Anyhoo.

Where this all goes for me is that while I Hunter because I still haven’t given up, and I Priest because I’m a team player, my jam is right here in the Demonology Warlock corner of the universe.  I think I do better in this class because it just works for me in a way that no other  class does.

There’s an unintended side-effect.

On the Pointless Isle, I usually have to set a goal for my toon to even get engaged in anything. But on my Warlock, I find myself reluctant to close the game client at bed time. I find myself hunting down more things to slaughter. I get giddy watching those big crits float by.

For a brief moment, even that Lightforsaken place is fun.


  1. Or something. []
  2. We miss you, Jong! []

Comments 8 Comments »

Summary: Flying was a mistake. It was a design flaw in TBC.  Blizzard lacked the vision to realize the game would last beyond one expansion1 and so they painted themselves into a corner at the end of TBC by giving everyone the ability to fly, and it went from neat end of game feature to automatic entitlement in the next.

When WotLK came along, the "reason" we couldn’t fly in Northrend at first was so thin, so lame, that we actually mocked them, and for good reason.  And thus has it ever been for the following expansions, as they continue to come up with lame, stupid "reasoning"2 to "justify"3 keeping us on the ground until we’ve narfled the Garthok4, just because they don’t want us ignoring all that beautiful artwork and masterful questlining they’ve done.

A further unintended side-effect is that they’ve never learned how to create a zone with flying in it.  You may have noticed, Blizz uses the landscape to push you where it wants you to go. Impassable mountain ranges, big tree trunks, bloodthirsty troll guards, etc.  You avoid that which is impassable or inconvenient, and end up in an area that they want you to be. Flying mounts negate all that, you violate every control they put in place, children are left unattended, dogs and cats cohabitate, and other terrible things happen as an effect.

I don’t know if they’ve even tried, but I have yet to see a zone where flying was properly factored in to the flow of the zone’s "experience", and, as such, it looks to anyone that’s looking as if they don’t have a clue how to design a zone, period. Twilight Highlands – who remembers how unpleasant it was to slog through the first time versus the second time, when you got flying for the whole tribe and your alts just skidded around in the sky without a care in the world?  That’s the difference in how the zone comes across with and without flying.

So flying’s broken the game, and they won’t or can’t adjust the game to make flying work out as a part of the game5, therefore all we get is "U No Fly Heer" zones and collective years of wasted effort on their parts as entire zones turn into flat, two-dimensional tabletop adventures that have a scattering of completely avoidable mobs.

Clearly, flying must die.

There are three possible paths, as I see it.

  • They can remove flying from the game completely, admit it was a mistake, soak up the abuse6, and move on.
  • They can remove flying from the current content, allowing it in all previous expansion areas, but controlling it in the current.
  • They can bloody well learn how to put together a zone with flying taken fully into account.

As a gaming purist, I am in favor of the "nuke it from orbit" approach, mostly (a) because I have seen no evidence that option #3 is even possible. I’d rather they spent scarce resources on something that they have a reasonable chance to accomplish, meaning (b) I also have my doubts as to whether they can pick up all the loose ends in the case of option 2.

I’m not in favor of removing flying simply because I have the blackest of evil hearts and enjoy seeing others suffer7, I’m in favor of it because it makes for a better game.

  • They spend less time trying to account for8 people flying around whatever feature they’re working on.
  • They spend less time trying to negotiate the precise moment in the expansion or player’s life that the ban gets lifted.
  • They spend less time tracking down bugs that might crop up because someone found a niche where they CAN fly in9.
  • Players play the game, rather than ignore it on the way to whatever corner-cased endgame feature they need to twink on10.
  • The designers put more thought and interest into game features because they realize that there are far fewer ways for players to blow them off.
  • You actually "accomplish" something yourself.

It amazes me that people can’t keep things civil on this.  A friend of mine has been getting abuse over her opinion on this.  Listen here, cheeto-breath.  When all you have to fall back to is abuse, you lose. You’ve already lost.  Everyone can see it, you have added nothing relevant to the argument.  You’re nothing but a hater, and we all know about haters.

haters

That’s right, J. D. 11 

You’d know better than most.

And the only way to deal with the haters is to let them go hate on the only person that loves them – themselves.  So, any person they unfollow is, really, better off for it – though blocking the haters is better, since that whey they can’t sleaze back into your life later without your permission.

I’ve not said much about this before, because others have done a much better job of getting the point across. But it seems as if some people don’t do "points." 

Or something.


  1. I’m really not making that up, they didn’t expect it to be so popular. []
  2. Hint: no actual reasoning to be found. []
  3. To them, not us. []
  4. Def. #2 slays me. []
  5. Well, every now and then they try flying mobs that will knock you out of the sky, but as soon as the expansion moves far enough along, they remove that. Say hello to the birdies over Halfhill for me.  If they pay you any attention. []
  6. For the kind of money they’re getting, they can manage to soak up a LOT of abuse and be just fine. []
  7. I might, but it’s not germane to the situation. []
  8. And failing, and giving up on. []
  9. A feature not implemented won’t cause bugs in its own right. []
  10. And maybe players leave the game over this. I’m not concerned over the quality of people that lets something like this put them over the top. I just aren’t. []
  11. Doing selfies Old Skool. []

Comments 9 Comments »

Every now an then I have to spring Illume out of the glyph shop and drag her around the countryside to remind her what it looks like.  I don’t mind this, I consider this a service to her and the people around her.  She still doesn’t seem to appreciate it.  Like that’s ever stopped me.

On this occasion we were tromping around the ruins in Shadowmoon Valley, just for old times’ sake.  Since it was a special occasion, I let all the demons out to play around.  To you and me, it’s a burned out wilderness burning with Fel energies. To them, it’s Disneyland1.

We were sitting around the campfire, enjoying a few moments of relative quiet, when Illume broke out laughing.  Looking over my shoulder, I saw why.  My imp, Fuzzbutt2, was running by wielding a whip and cackling manically.  After a moment, he was followed by my succubus, Bronwyn3, waving her fist in the air and cursing in a language few on Azeroth or Draenor have ever heard without bursting into flames.  I’d forgotten how much Fuzzbutt loved to torment her.

I let out a heavy sigh and Illume looked concerned.

“Something wrong, Flora?”

“Nope,” I sighed again.  “Just one damned thing after another.”4

Illume didn’t speak to me for a month.


  1. I know someone that has portals. She knows things. []
  2. Not really his name. []
  3. Might be her name. []
  4. I only steal from the best. []

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I love it when bloggers post search terms that brought people to their website, and express awe / incredulity / outrage / amusement at the outlandish terms that often bring people to them.

But what of the spammers?  Nobody loves them, and yet they submit such masterful examples of the language – whatever it might be.

So, to be different, let’s share.

 

I do not even know the way I ended up here, however I believed this put up was once great.

Yes, our heyday is long past, and now we’re wallowing in mediocrity.

 

I do not recognize who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already. Cheers!

I once almost met BRK in real life, this is true.  Perhaps there is another famous blogger I will go to someday. Ratters, you up for a double date?

 

This write-up very pressured me to check out and do so!

That write-up pressured me to check out as well.

 

Your writing style has been amazed me.

Again, clearly we’re past our prime.  All but called has-beens!

 

You recognize therefore significantly with regards to this topic, made me in my view imagine it from numerous various angles.

I am imagining several angles as well, trying to parse this one.

 

Your individual stuffs excellent. At all times handle it up!

If you don’t handle it up, you won’t get gas.

 

I am sending it to some pals ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you to your sweat!

My sweat says "your welcome".  My sweat is trolling.


I’ve added a rotating wall of spam to the blog. Don’t tell Grimm, let’s see how long it takes him to notice!

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For one that knows where to look, Stormwind has something for every appetite, things that would make a pimp in Booty Bay blush, even. In the past it was a lot easier, truth be told, but even after Good King Varian came along and asserted himself, there is perversion and skullduggery a-plenty, some of it even under his nose – the departure of Miz Prestor did not flush out all of the corruption in the royal court.

Even before, a general nexus of seediness existed in and about The Slaughtered Lamb, where the Warlock Council orbited, and the criminal underground’s diminutive overlord, Milo Oddcog, pulled on strings from the dark corners. 

Fortunately, I didn’t need to go there, as I came close to setting Milo on fire last time we crossed. I think he knew that, since the note left at the dead drop in Halfhill told me to go to the Shady Lady and see the bartender there, rather than my usual chat in his office.

Fine by me. His place always has a whiff of sulphur about it.

Not that the Shady Lady is much better.


Stormwind GatesI rolled in to Stormwind early enough to beat the nightcrawlers out of their pits, but not so early as to be accused of being a morning person.

It was good to be back. A faint haze of wood and coal smoke hovered over the place, giving it a dreamy quality that held up until you flew into that haze and tried to breathe.

Viewed from the rooftops it looked like the kind of place the Priests and Paladins told you it was. Getting down to the ground, it took on a whole new character; a busy metropolis filled with people trying to get things done, whether it was banking, buying, selling, stealing, or begging.

Raiders posed and preened on the bank steps, blocking the guards’ view of the courtyard below.  I decided to blow a charge of my precious cache of Baby Spice.  I walked away with the sound of guffaws fading behind me (and one outraged yelp). Waste not, want not.

Good form is to stop by the Lamb to check in, but the thought that that insufferable Gnome might already be up and poking around sent me the other way, to my assigned rendezvous.

It’s a nice walk, along the canals, just taking it all in; Stormwind is above all other things vital, alive. Children running through the streets, vendors hawking their wares, adventurers selling off their booty. There’s an energy here that makes you feel alive.

The acrid smell of coal burning gives me a general idea that I’m getting close to the Dwarven District. When I walk into The Shady Lady, a whole new selection of scents assaults my nose – stale ale, half-burned tobacco, mostly-cooked meals.  This is just the sort of place Milo would send me, the bastard.

Shady Lady

The bartender barely looks up when I belly up to the bar and order a cider – reasoning that’s the least vile drink they serve here. I drop one of Milo’s tokens with my payment, and that gets his notice.

"You Floramel?"

"Yarp.  Milo said you knew someone."

"Corner table, next to the stairs."

Grabbing my drink, I made my way to the table, watching the local "color" for any red flags.  Fortunately, it’s early enough that the serious lushes aren’t up and about yet, but that leaves a more dangerous form of scum to deal with, and they’re less likely to miss an opportunity.

Sitting down at the table, I scan around for the likely candidate.  Nobody seemed to be moving towards the table, so I wonder if I have the wrong one.

"My eyes are down here."  A scratchy voice that can only belong to a Dwarf comes from across the table.  Readjusting my gaze – how embarassing! – I realize there’s a Dwarf sitting opposite me  He’s wearing a wide brimmed hat, and has a well-worn stogie clenched in his teeth, but even in the dingy lighting of the Lady, the glowing red eyes clearly show that I’m talking to a Dark Iron.

"Wow, I didn’t realize Milo had branched out into comedy."

"Watch your mouth, lady. Dark Irons are part of the Alliance now, like it or not. We’re not too pleased about it ourselves, but it is what it is. I was told you were a professional."

Sigh.  "Fair enough. Just wish he’d've warned me."  Milo, I’m gonna kill you. THEN set you on fire.  "What’s on your mind, aside from amicable diversity?"

He grinned. Even in this lighting, it was a bit unsettling. "Good.  Down to business."

He quaffed a bit of I knew not what, and began.

"When we left Shadowforge City I was caught outside the city and never had a chance to gather my belongings. Most of it can be replaced, but one item is special and has great sentimental value. It’s a wand, it’s special to me, and I want it back."

"Why didn’t you go back and get it?"

"Those of us that followed the Empress to Ironforge were put on notice. We’re not welcome back, and by ‘not welcome’ they mean ‘shoot on sight.’  So I need someone capable to get in without, in fact, being shot.  And getting back out with the prize."

"What makes you certain it’s still at your place?"

"Oh, it’s not. I have friends on the inside, and they mapped out where it’s at for me.  And that’s the other kink in the line."

"Oh, tell me, I can’t wait."

"It was claimed by the chief warlock that remained. It’s been locked up in her vault since then – she doesn’t use it, as it’s not that powerful in anyone’s hands but my own.  The catch is, it’s in a place that only a Warlock can get into without raising an alarm. I don’t want an alarm. You’ll probably not get out if there is one, and they might trace this back to me – and I’d rather not find out if we have any Shadowforge spies in Ironforge in that particular way."

"Here’s a map, a drawing of the case, a drawing of the wand. Are you in?"

A job’s a job. "Sure, let’s settle on price."

He grinned, and offered me a stogie. "Great. Name’s Jenkins."

"Any relation to Leroy?"

He made a face. "Jenkins Direflame."

My bad.


Getting into the depths of Blackrock was a bit easier than it used to be.  The fall of the Emperor and the subsequent departure of the Empress had shifted things somewhat, and not always to the better. There were new ways into the city, and some of the old ways were forever closed. The map I had didn’t help with that, since it assumed that I could get to the Grim Guzzler myself, and at that point I could start following it.

The Guzzler’s patrons were, as usual, indifferent to the presence of a Human in their midst. Well, except for Nagmara, who gave me a wide berth. She knew a warlock when she smelled one, and wasn’t buying what I was selling.

The map took me in a direction I’d never been in the city. Usually, I was looking for a way to the throne room. This time, I was headed to a part of the city that, to be honest, had a very comfortable vibe to it, but which would have been described by anyone that wasn’t a Warlock as "foreboding", "dark", "brooding".  Seemed like I was headed the right way.

There were patrols to avoid, but plenty of warning and plenty of places to hide.  I cursed that I hadn’t worn my black velvet robes just this once; besides being warm in this dank cavern, they’d be decent camouflage.

There were a few casualties, but no alarms.  At least, not yet.

I eventually made it to the vault, which had cheery green lighting, making everything look like it was on Draenor. I closed the door most of the way, but wedged it slightly open so as to not become part of the treasures therein.

Warlock Vault

First rule of vault-raiding: always make sure there’s a way back out.

Second rule of vault-raiding: don’t get distracted.

There were treasures a-plenty in here, and truth be told plenty to tempt even myself.  But years of retrieving items for people have taught me that keeping focused on the objective is important. Start window-shopping, and something nasty usually catches you with your hand in the fel cookie jar.

Scanning the shelves, I spotted the case that Jenkins described. It was locked, as expected, but the combination he gave me (667 – "The neighbor of the Beast", he said cryptically. How odd.) popped it right open.  The wand itself was within, in fine condition.

"Hello"

I jumped maybe ten feet straight up and scanned the room frantically. 

"Hello?", I ventured, hoping to buy some time.

"I’m right here."

I looked about. Nothing.

"In the case."

I looked down at the wand.

"Aye, ya git! right here!"

"Um, you’re the wand?"

"Aye!  How can someone so tall be so dumb?  Are ye an ogre?"

"No, I’m –" deep breath; "I’m sorry, do you have a name?"

"Aye! I’m Wanda!"

"Yes, you’re a wand.  Do you have a name?"

"My. Name. Is. Wanda!  Are ye thick?"

"Oh!  Okay, Wanda.  Sorry about that."  Jenkins hadn’t mentioned that his bauble could talk.  Something that was going to cost him.

I started to place the wand in my bag. "I wouldna do that if I were you."

"And why not?"

"I’d have to give the alarm!  You canna just come in here and steal things anytime ye want, ya know!"

"Please don’t."

"Aye, then put me back in my case."

I put her back in the case and closed it.

"And don’t cheat and put the case in the bag."

I could hear her clear as a bell. So much for that idea.

"Listen, I can’t let you give the alarm."

"Then put me back on the shelf and leave this place."

"I can’t."

"Well we have an impasse, then."

"I don’t normally threaten inanimate objects, but I may make an exception in your case."

"Oooo, how scary!  But why would you do that, if you wanted ta steal me, I wonder? Destroyin’ an item ya came here ta steal – now that’s daft!"

"Ever been through the insides of a Felguard? I could have mine swallow you and let you enjoy a slow drift through the alimentary canal.  I’m sure you’ll wash up nicely, and I doubt anyone would hear you."

"Might ye be knowin’ what effects I have?  Shadow? Flame, Fel Flame?  Maybe I shoot bouquets of Peacebloom, so that wouldna hurt your wee Felguard. But that’s a gamble, isn’t it?"

Had me there. Wait …

"Apparently that case is proof against whatever you do."

"Aye, it is.  And can your wee beastie swallow the case?"

"He – "  Damn. No, he couldn’t.

Thinking for a moment, I remembered seeing some sort of sleeping quarters just a couple of rooms down. "Wait right here."

A couple of minutes later, I was back with a pillow from one of the beds.  Slitting the end open, I stuffed the case with Wanda in it into the innards of the pillow, then tied it shut.

"Can you hear me, Wanda?"

"MY CMMAH HRR ROO"

I’m sorry, Wanda, I can’t really hear you that well."

"MM SOO GMMA GBBA AWMM"

"Be my guest."

"AWWMWM! MMM BMM STWM!"

I peered out the door, up the hall, down the hall. Not a creature stirring.

"Sorry, Wanda, nobody can hear you."

"LLL GTTCHOO FRRR DSSS"

"Yeah, whatevs."


The trip back out was pretty much the same as the trip in, except fewer casualties since nobody had noticed the ones I had left earlier.  Looked like I was going to make it.

That is, until I set foot back in the Grim Guzzler.  One of the patrons popped up from her bench and pointed at me. 

"HER! SHE’S THE ONE STEALING OUR PILLOWS!!"

Pillow Thief!Oh, bother.  I’d forgotten about that.

I reached into the pillow, grasped Wanda’s case tightly, and pulled the other end of the pillow real hard.  In a flurry of down feathers, I headed out towards the exit as fast as I could, summoning a Felguard as I did. Kil’jaden’s Cunning, don’t fail me now!

As I headed out the way I’d come, Wanda was egging my pursuers on.

"Hey, did ya know she stole a wand from the Warlock’s Vault as well?  Aye, that’s me!  I’m sure there’s a big reward to the one that brings me back!"

"Shut up, Wanda! I’m not stealing you! I’m retrieving you!"

"Aye, that’s what the others said, too."

"Oh, shut it."

"You go that way?  That’s a lot slower!  I’m sure they’ll catch you now!"

"Very funny. The other way leads to a chasm of lava."

"Oooo, so sorry.  Maybe I’d survive that."

"You’re lucky somebody wants you intact."

"Aye, that’s a kindness.  Not sure they want you intact, though."

"SHUT UP."


Jenkins at least had the good grace to look embarrassed.  "I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that they had put a geas on her to give an alarm.  I didn’t even realize they knew she was more than just a wand."

"More than ‘just’ a wand?"

"Why, yes.  Wanda’s my wife."

"Bwuh?"

"She angered Thaurissan a few years back; I begged him not to harm her, so he promised that she’d be mine forever.  Then he imprisoned her into this form and presented it to me for our anniversary."

When I looked at the fel crystal on the end of the wand, I realized it was in the shape of a female dwarf’s head.  As I watched, the head swiveled to look at me.

"Aye, and I’d been with him ever since.  He left the city for ONE HOUR without me and see what happened?  That should teach him!"  The crystal grinned at Direflame.

"Empress Moira promised me she’d have a go at fixing her, or finding someone that can, in exchange for my allegiance, so I’m hopeful, now that I have her back!"

"One last matter."

"Payment. Of course!"

"No, besides that.  Wanda mentioned that there had been others that had attempted to retrieve her … obviously they failed.  Is that true?"

"Aye.  Close to a dozen times I’ve tried enlisting from the best and the brightest of Ironforge, and not a one has ever returned."

"These were dwarves?"

"Aye."

"Dark Irons?"

"Some, but not all."

"So, you sent dwarves …"

"Aye"

"Into a room of treasure …"

" … aye."

"And told them to come out with JUST ONE item."

" … aye … OH!"

"Yep.  I’d say they were genetically predisposed to fail."

"Oh, my.  What have I done?"

"Given yourself an object lesson, is all. Never send a Dwarf to do a Warlock’s job."


The money was good, I was able to give Milo hell about a number of things, I enjoyed a good night watching fights at The Brawlers Guild, and I got to spend the night in my favorite Stormwind inn afterwards.  

It’s not an easy life, but it’s a good life.  As I’m sure Jenkins would agree, the little things are what’s best.

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One of the benefits of having multiple max level toons on the team is that each contributes in his or her own special way.  I make flasks and potions, and do transmutes for sale.  Illume makes glyphs for sale and our own use.  Jas runs the auctions and provides bags.  Each of us provide armor and weapons as we can make them.

Illume has some pretty sweet items in her bag of tricks -  the fan is already mine, but the staff requires Spirits of Harmony, an item you can’t just go buy or mail to an alt. 

So, what to do other than start grinding with the mage and get her inventory full of Spirits.  The goal is to get her to 90, then get her grinding the Tillers so she can plant songbells. This will keep things moving along for future stuff as well.

The point of this is to get my iLevel up to where I can queue for things like daily heroic scenarios and stuff. I’ve been grinding the Darkspear weekly when it makes sense, but weapons are not part of the rewards, alas.

It’s kinda weird going at it from two fronts like that, but whatever works, works.

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While we were offline, events that affect us all took place.  Our guild managed to get its first T141 boss down, without Jasra’s healing touch. The question came up, did they want her back, or a DPS?  I was told, get Flora moving.

So move I shall.

‘Undergeared’ is not exactly the most descriptive term I’d use. I still have several greens.  ‘Undergeared’ doesn’t seem to be a strong enough term!  Dutifully, I drafted a gear plan, and it was unsettling.

Part of the reason for this is the addition of several flavors of random-enchant epics for completing daily heroic scenarios; there is also a random-enchant quest reward from the Darkspear Rebellion. Both of those usually outstrip top-end T15 gear.

So, the Rebellion appears to be the place to be, but there’s a problem – the main quest is a weekly, so once you’ve gotten your 150 bits of various mats, and turned them in, all that’s left is additional collection.  It’s rather daunting, the massive and tedious grind that the next few weeks seem to have in store.  I’ve bitched about dailies, but this seems to be something designed to convince us that dailies aren’t really so bad, after all.

The other half of this is getting my rotation down; Demonology is just plain odd, with the Demonic Fury resource system. Still, I’ve done my homework, and I have something that’s at least passable, even if I have to look down at the keyboard from time to time.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank the Light for WeakAuras and/or PowerAuras.

While Thunder Isle appears to be outgeared by the Rebellion, now, I still have some work there; the Green Fire quest is triggered by a book that drops over there, of all places, so I need to grind dailies there until I get that, at least.

It’s funny how much content is completely irrelevant, though. Sure, there are upgrades to be had from Shieldwall and Thunder Isle, but why waste time there when the biggest payoff is to be found in Northern Barrens?  The irony of WoW is that 95% of its content is irrelevant to a raider.

Still, it’s fun to fly the Warlock flag once again. Even if I derp it like a noob.


  1. That is not a typo, we’re not exactly pushign the envelope – or at least not THAT side of it. []

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We’re online again, though we had to wait until payday before we could actually re-enable our account. Blast and damn, not offline long enough for a Scroll of Rez, so no freebies for me or mine.

So what to do in between loads of freight?  Looking around the F2P playground, I remembered that Neverwinter was in motion, so I’ve rolled up as Floramel-like a toon as possible, a control wizard that I hope to bend to warlock-like habits.

Character models

Flora, shortly after startingCharacter creation allows for a lot of individuality. It even allows for chunky body types, adjustment of individual face and body attributes (there are like seven nose adjustments!).  My model is one of the more slender ones, so as you can see, no Barbie dolls here. Overall, very good.

Outfits are somewhat less flamboyant than one is used to in endgame WoW.  However, I would point out that I actually like the models of the lower-level stuff in WoW better, as well, meaning that the higher level stuff in NW might suffer from the same ridiculous effects.  Time will tell.

It’s also possible that the outfit models are limited1 at this time to a select set of looks. Through level 20, all outfits looked pretty much the same.  Mogging2, however, is baked in to the basic interface. 

Armor dye is also supported, though from the looks of it you will have to cough up some cash to get it, since it requires the "Zen" currency, and best I can tell, that’s a cashy money thing.

Some of the NPC character models suffer from what I would call "mannequin syndrome".  So realistic, they look plastic. This is a Cryptic Studios product, so it probably shares a lot of DNA with City of Heroes and Star Trek Online – the former looks very similar to this game from a character and model perspective, including the character model creation process.

Graphics and visuals

Graphical details are sharp and clear, maybe too much so.  WoW catches a lot of crap for its looks, but one thing that it has a lot of practice at is making things stick out in obvious ways.  It’s not too difficult to find a mail box, or a vendor, even in a crowded room.  And while I give Blizz hell for abolishing Night from the worlds, realistic and dark shadowing makes everything kind of bland and difficult to deal with. 

It’s real easy to walk into a mob, too – no little nameplates over their heads!

User Interface

The controls take getting used to. Part of that is just the usual "this is a different game" thing, but there are elements that just stink of "let’s do something different just to be different."   You are seriously constrained on what you can have on your action bar, too  – unlike the ten or so action bars with ten buttons each that you get with WoW, you get one action-bar-like interface in this game, and it’s very small as well.

Aim matters. You don’t click on a mob and then start beating / shooting him, you have to aim and then whatever you are aiming at is hit.  Fortunately, there’s no friendly fire outside of PvP.  Right-click actually defaults to an attack, so for a former WoW player, ‘F’ to interact is a bit awkward.

Tinkle, tinkle, little trailIn combat, activity is pretty lively. I’d love to have some countdown timers visible at eye level, but on the plus side you can move your action bar – which does have countdown timers – to wherever you want.

Similar to CoH, a sparkly trail of lights appears to direct you to the next point of interest in your current quest.  This is highly intelligent and also a rebuttal to the trope that Blizz has nerfed the game too much. Others are way ahead of them in some ways. 

Lootable items are very clearly denoted, including caches you might find in your travels.

Interaction between the map and the world is pretty wretched.  You can’t click a location and see the trail light up for it.  And it’s a highly accurate replica of the real world, meaning it’s gloomy and low-contrast and difficult to read. Again, others win in this area.


Combat

Combat is very like any other game I’ve played – there is a strong emphasis on "don’t stand in fire" and button pushing and stacking debuffs and such. The big bads also have a very in your face element to them, and sometimes the graphics engine can’t keep up (though that may be my system more than the engine).  Good example is the "treasure trapper" creature.

Other than in interaction with my companion, I really didn’t see much in the way of aggro mechanics, but what I saw was unsurprising and familiar.

Crafting

Crafting includes the gathering of resources, and the creation of items from them, much like other games.  Where this differs is interesting.

Gathering is done from caches.  Caches are coded to skills that are native to specific classes; dungeoneering is tied to fighter types, arcane to wizards, religious to clerics, thieving to rogues, and so forth. You can buy kits to enable looting of caches outside of your class, and the kits drop from mobs as well.

Creating items is done by proxy. You hire a craftsman to go do things, and gather the results when they’re done.  This can be administered from the web page for the game as well. 

The gathering game seems to be more in service to itself than anything. "Oh here’s a random cache, oh, it contains a random pile of stuff."

Neither the crafting or gathering experience feel organic. But you could get used to it.

Companions

Flora and JasraOne difference in this game is that of companions. If you’ve played other Sword Coast games in the past, you’re probably familiar with the concept of companions.  You get your first at 16, and it can be from one of the main classes. I chose a cleric because that seemed wise. 3

The best unintended benefit of having a healer companion is that you start learning aggro management right away – or rather, how to keep aggro off of her.  A dead healer heals no damage.

Delving

It appears that in each zone there is an ultimate dungeon / instance activity with five party members, and you don’t get the final lore payoff or zone closure if you don’t do them. Very WoW-like. I would have thought that they’d've noticed how many people would be thrilled to see instance scaling so that one to five people could share the experience rather than be stuck at five.

I didn’t participate as such so no further comment would be useful.

"Community"

Well, this is where WoW is falling short, according to what I keep reading in the blogospheric echo chamber.  Our "community" is becoming populated by a bunch of spoiled, lazy, racist, sexist, haters, is what I hear.

I am not going to delve into details, but I will say that until you have seen general chat in Neverwinter, you have no idea how bad it could be.

The community  per se is no better or worse.  What the big difference is that we’ve become pampered by the Blizzard Nanny State; any aberrations tend to stick out.

Sometimes you have to swim in the sewers to remember what shit really smells like.

Overall impression

Flora - Level 22-ishIt really does "feel" like Neverwinter. It also, however, feels a bit chaotic and frenetic.  A lot of this, I’m sure, is due to the beta nature of the game at this time. Heck, I’m not even sure if the appearance of the armor in the game is due to design or because we’re still in beta and they haven’t completed all the models.  I’m leaning towards the former because money.

And that brings me to the elephant in the room for this sort of game – how hard are they pushing to sell you cash shop items.   Right now, for example, it looks like the only way to change your armor color is to buy "Zen" and then spend it on dyes. "Fine," you say, "cosmetic isn’t a big deal."  Problem is, the kind of player that gives a game a soul tends to invest in a character, and care about appearances, and something like this could be discouraging to them.

The other items I saw were such as mounts and companion items, but no game-changing armor or weapons.  So pay-to-win, not so much at the moment.

Overall, I like this game.  It’s not yet complete, so time will tell if it has legs, and endgame content will drive a certain kind of player’s expectations. Disregarding that, the game is solid, and the leveling game thus far has been fun.

My time in Neverwinter is at an end; the WoW account is up and running, and we have some picking up to do.


  1. Due to beta. []
  2. They don’t call it that of course. []
  3. I named her Jasra – don’t tell! []

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Grimmtooth Actual’s first best love is Grimmtooth the hunter, no doubt about it, but one could argue that the Hunter is so second-nature at this point that it’s more like a Stay-cation than a true diversion. Grimmtooth’s existence at the moment is all about getting things done, from the scrupulous attention to gardening to the grueling slog of dailies.

Warlock’s what comes out when we want to play.  I’m not a raiding main, Jasra is, so I’m free to indulge myself as I see fit.  I’m not even level 90 yet.  And with Grimm and Jas sucking up all the CPU they can, I rarely get to come out and play, so I make the most of it.

I’ve got myself a good adventuring outfit, for example. Black velvet robes are good for shaking down the locals in Stormwind, displaying a decadant sense of evil that the rubes truly appreciate. But they tend to snag on everything. Denim and forest leathers are a lot more appropriate for stomping around in the wild.

Flora's Mog

Also, I have horns from time to time.  While I like the look, it was hell on hats until I figured out to punch a couple of holes in the right place.

Horns

But that does bring me to the part of this expansion that I dislike the most about the Demonology spec.  Demonform has gone from a hefty buff to DPS to being a whole second spell rotation to learn. It plays hell with my rhythm, let me tell you.

But outside of that, Big D is a blast.  I cut through mobs like a hot knife through butter. I use Hefty Voidwalker to gather them up and just beat them to the ground. Even Grimm can’t AoE that well. I don’t even use most of my rotation because the mobs die too fast.

There’s this green fire thing coming up, I’ve heard, once I hit 90.  I have some nice prezzys from Jas to wear when I hit that level, too, so it looks like I’ll end this turn at the wheel on a high note for sure, since I’m 89.25 now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Damn, it’s good to be a Warlock.

Addenum:

Been out front of Stormwind lately?

Stormwind gates are fixed

Yep, been patched right up!

Well almost

Well, almost.  The minimap still shows the glowing embers for the gate towers, though, as you can see, they’re just fine now.

Glad to see my tax money going into something other than blowing panda bears up.

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As long as I’ve played, I’ve seen a constant flow of envy from other classes.  They look at our magnificent demonic steeds, and say "Hey, why can’t we have one?"1  They gaze longingly at our portals and whinge, "why can’t we use them?"  They even cried about healthstones so much that Blizz gave them a vending machine for healthstones. I imagine that somewhere out there, someone’s upset that they can’t summon Warlock pets, either.

The most recent outbreak has been over a new quest series in patch 5.2 in which Warlocks go to change our mundane orange fire for green fire, as it should have been all along2.  Apparently, some people are annoyed that we get to have all the fun here, and want something like it for themselves. Ignore the fact for a moment that there’s nothing about (for example) mages3 that gives them that "cool factor" like Warlocks, and thus no real REASON to have a special epic quest series.  They just want it, because, reasons.

As always, Auntie Flora has worked long and hard to bring a solution to you.

You want all the warlock goodies?  Here’s what you do.

  1. Log out.
  2. Select CREATE NEW CHARACTER4
  3. Select class = WARLOCK
  4. Log in.
  5. Get your neat Warlock stuff.

You’re welcome.


  1. Mind you, they didn’t look at the massive cost of our mats and go, "Hey, why can’t we be taxed as much for our mounts?" []
  2. Don’t get me started on THAT, []
  3. You know that fire mages have GOT to be at the center of this. []
  4. If you have no free slots, delete a mage. []

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