The Little Priestess Who Could

Keeping up with this week’s alt appreciation, I wanted to highlight my little priest. And by little, I really mean little…

Meet Ninkasi. At the time of this writing, I’ve gotten her up to level 42 and just now entering Eastern Plague Lands. To be honest, I haven’t quested much with her because I’ve been mostly healing in dungeons. That’s the thing about priests though, isn’t it. You’re almost expected to be a healer just as well as Shadow, if you’ve gone that route.

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Ninkasi posing with her homegirl Fiona in EPL!

Ninkasi has been suffering from identity crisis since her inception. I’ve made a Blood Elf, Tauren, and now this Gnome version of her, but this is certainly the furthest I’ve gotten with a priest. Why a little pink haired fem-Gnome? Because I can! I rarely play female characters, although for this one I thought it would be neat to destroy things with my shadowy beam of priesty death coming from the hands of a cute little pink-haired gnome.

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Look ma! I can’t see over the wheel!

Ninkasi doesn’t have much of a backstory yet, although I will point out what her name means. Ninkasi was the Sumarian goddess of beer when they first discovered it. If you know me at all, you know my love for beer. I’ve played Holy, Discipline, and Shadow with her so far in her early life, and they’ve all been quite fun. At the moment, I’m carrying a Shadow main spec with a discipline off spec.

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DIE by my petite hands!!!

All in all, I really enjoy the class. If I had more time to play alts, I’d certainly finish leveling her all the way to cap. She’s my only Alliance toon at the moment as well, and also happens to be the GM of the level 19 guild I own.

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RAWR! Says the mighty Ninkasi!

 

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An Appreciation for Humulus, The Paladin

Welcome back to me! Just kidding, although I do tend to let the blog get a bit dusty. Laeleiweyn from World of Lae started alt appreciation week where bloggers are asked to focus on a class for that particular week. I think it’s no accident that I just found this activity during Paladin week. In honor of that discovery, I decided to play along. Oh, and um…I’ll try to leave this as a draft until I can get home and add some photos (something I sorely lack in all of my posts).

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Humulus with his first set of tier gear and first heroic loot drop!

Although my first toon was technically a Warlock on Azjul-Nerub back in BC, I don’t technically count that toon. I don’t think I even got to level 30, and I thought using his sword on auto-attack was a good idea as a filler spell. This was a 3 month affair and then I hung it up, because I simply wasn’t having fun.

A friend invited me back to the game and I accepted and rolled my “real” first toon. This was the first one I’d give a shit about anyway. I rolled this paladin having every intention of raiding, even though I didn’t even know exactly what happened in a raid. I just knew my friend did it 3 times a week and he loved it, so by the gods, I was going to do it too!

Memorable Moments With Humulus

I’ll never forget one of my first mentors for my pally. A woman in our guild who raided with a Resto druid had a Prot/Holy Pally. I wanted to go holy for my off spec and she walked me through my first few dungeons as a healer. I healed all the way from 75 – 80 in random dungeons, and I did ok at it. This wasn’t the memorable part though. When Cata launched, I had switched my main to my Resto Shaman, but Humulus was the first alt to get the nod. I decided I wanted to learn to tank on him. I leveled all the way from 80 to 85 by questing as a Prot Pally. I had a few folks whisper me along the way and ask why I was doing it that way, and I could only respond that I was trying to get comfortable with my abilities, and this was the best way to do without putting a whole 5-man in awkward situations. I already knew that early Cata Heroics were absolutely brutal on healers, so I didn’t want to be that noob tank when I finally got there.

As luck would have it, Dreyhana (the mentor I spoke about earlier) had also switched mains to her Pally as Holy. So here’s the memorable part. When I finally dinged 85, I asked in guild chat who wanted to come with me for my maiden voyage, she volunteered to heal. After completing Deadmines (really? My FIRST heroic is freaking Deadmines?!), she whispers me: “you’re brave. Even I don’t have the balls to tank this expansion.” Of course I reassured her that she was a great player, but I have to admit I felt really good that we made it and got feedback from a player I admired. Humulus has been a main spec Prot Pally ever since, even helping lead an inexperienced guild through all of Cataclysm content, after I had taken a step back from hard core raiding on my Shaman.

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Humulus on the most badass mount in the game.

Yeah, we’re stepping backward a bit on this one. Back to WotLK. So after being really bad in the few times I got to raid with the guild, I finally showed enough improvement to where I was granted a legit trial spot on the raid team. On the last night of ICC before Cataclysm launched, the GM decided we would wrap up mount achievements on 25 man. I was so damn excited. It was my first (and coincidentally only) raid mount I earned while content was current. In fact, I flew that mount all the way through Cata, and have only recently switched to the Violet Proto Drake as my main flyer, and that’s really only because I finally earned it this year, after completing Children’s Week.

Where is Humulus Now?

Well, he’s still there. I just leveled him to 90 two weeks ago, and I’ve been lazily playing him since then. I’ve actually decided to dedicate him to earning reputations because he has 30 exalted reps and none of my other toons are even close to that. I’ll tank with him in LFR’s, older Tiers, or Flex raiding, I’m sure. He’s also my miner, and has always been my miner, so I do travel around picking up nodes on occasion. But the days of him being my main have come and gone.

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Humulus with his first prot tier set!

How the Ball Bounces

This week we had a tweet from Bashiok that told us the Mogu Runes of Fate (aka Rogu Moons of Fate) will now cost a mere 50 lesser charms, versus the 90 they’ve cost since MoP launched. It is yet another change that was long overdue and another one that makes me scratch my head on how Blizzard approaches these types of issues.

The Past

Let’s keep in mind that any serious level of play was not something I even participated in until WotLK. So I cannot speak to content prior to that. This isn’t an invitation for Vanilla folks to tell me how they had to walk uphill in the snow both ways. Yeah, you had some weird and inexplicable burdens to bear back then, but good for Blizard to move away from some of that.

What I noticed immediately in WotLK is how easy it was to progress through heroic 5-man dungeons. In particular, any of the heroics prior to the ICC ones. Those were a nightmare up front for a lot of people. Well, not all of them, but I know Halls of Reflection was a complete pain in the ass, most notably for healers in the first part, and the DPS check at the end. But you know, as much of a broken record as this may be, this is when the game was really thriving in terms of player count, PuGs, and finally capping the story of Arthas.

Here come the complaints. “Wrath is too easy,” they said. What did they do for Cataclysm? They made dungeons so unapproachable for so many (especially healers), they immediately lost subscribers. The triage healing model (which never really came into fruition—just pillow talk) is what killed it, in my opinion.  Couple that with a mostly uninteresting story, and the game took a complete 180 from where it was before.

The Present

In Cataclysm, now you could cap your vp in a couple hours each week, there were no compelling rewards from dailies, once you got past the initial factions of the expansion, and players were just bored. So, then the complaints were that there wasn’t much to do. As we saw with the Hour of Twilight dungeons, 5-mans are now far more approachable and on the verge of face-roll again. See how the ball bounces?

So, what happens when Mists launched? They overloaded the shit out of us with “things to do.” The problem was always that Blizzard actually believed that most would look at all the content as “optional.” To many of us (as I’ve covered before), it was. But the VP capping and the Lesser Charms capping has seriously been the biggest pain in the ass. Regardless of what it is that you’re doing to gain VP, it’s the same repetitive shit as it’s always been in the game. “New” content is only new for a very short time period. Blizzard understands this, but still insist that we grind and grind and grind for the hope of something more later on. That’s not “more things to do.” That’s having to do the same things more. Big difference. And for lesser charms? You’re only getting those from dailies at the start of the expansion.

The players have been complaining about the grind since MoP launched. Blizzard was “firm” up front about keeping things like they were, but let’s look at the back-peddling so far.

  1. Reputaion gains were enhanced significantly in 5.1, but acknowledged almost as soon as MoP dropped.
  2. Certain dungeons grant more VP, because they’re a bit longer or have more obstacles in them.
  3. 5.2 Brings higher VP rewards through daily sets, and even offers some weekly quests worth 150 VP. That’s 15% of cap in about 10 minutes of your time.
  4. Rares drop 15 VP.
  5. Pet battles can drop lesser Charms
  6. Cost of Mogu Runes is reduced by nearly half.

These are only some examples of how Blizzard heard and responded to requests from the player base. Hats off to them for that. The problem I have is: Why don’t they see these things coming? What causes them to go from one extreme to the other, and then back again, and then settle out somewhere in the middle. Why can’t the design be aimed at “the middle” from the start.

The Future

I only hope that Blizzard finds the sweet spot on this. I do want to have to work a little bit to cap the things which need to be capped in a week, but I don’t want to only focus on this. I’d like to be able to play my alts a bit more without feeling like I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do.

On Death and Desensitization (RIP Sweets)

This post may or may not have anything to do with WoW. You take it how you will.

With all the media’s focus on desensitization from the enjoyment of video games, it makes me wonder how such nonsense makes its way into the supposed motives of the criminals in question. I’m not a psychology major by any stretch. I had a single psych and sociology class in college. But I’m a veteran. One who, like many others, has been surrounded by the deaths of his friends.

In the last year, as of last night, I have lost two very close friends of mine to similar circumstances. While I was an active duty Marine, I lost several others. This isn’t a pity party. It just is what it is.

Most of my circle of friends with like backgrounds deal with death similarly. We mourn very briefly (sometimes minutes), and then go on about our day. It isn’t rude, it’s just how we deal with it. We’re taught to adapt and overcome, and to do so quickly. After a while, losing someone is just another part of one’s day. Adapt to their loss. Overcome your own emotions.

What we don’t do, however, is use it as an excuse to go on murdering sprees. Most of us know that our passions must still be kept within due bounds, and adjust accordingly. Video games? Pssh. There is absolutely nothing realistic enough about video games that in my opinion would warrant this being a valid excuse.

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RIP, Sweets, my brother. Give ‘em hell in Thunder Chapter.

Semper Fi, Shado-Pan

Today, WoW Insder posted this article about the Shado-Pan so I gave it a look. http://wow.joystiq.com/2013/02/27/know-your-lore-the-shado-pan/

I have to admit that although I really do love reading about the lore within the World of Warcraft, I don’t do it enough. I’ve dabbled a bit here and there, reading about the various factions within the story, and marveled at some of their plights. While some have been more interesting than others, none have touched me more than the Shado-Pan, as presented in the article linked above.

This is where I mix the game with my personal life, I suppose. You see…the lore presented in the article immediately made me think of battle-hardened Marines, specifically those who may be suffering from PTSD. Why the Marines?

Marines are smaller in number and proportion compared to other military entities of our country. The discipline instilled in them is a tradition that dates back to the Corps’ inception. From the earliest days of boot camp, on to the battlefield, and back home being “rotated back to the world,” maintaining one’s composure or bearing is something that is a thing of pride, regardless of the pain one may feel inside.

Marines often reflect upon the things they’ve witnessed. The times they had to play “God” for a moment and choose life or death for a fellow human being. And they have to do this over and over again for the protection of those who cannot or will not do it for themselves. They fight the Sha of our world, in its many manifestations, even if others mock their motives and make claims that these Sha do not exist. The marines know. They’ve seen them. They’ve fought them. Their hearts are scarred by them. Yet, they must maintain their bearing and continue to fight. On the exterior, they’re hard—seemingly desensitized and ready for battle. Almost cold. Inside, they fight their own Sha of doubt, fear, anger, and violence. They eat at them. But they maintain their bearing. Their composure and the drive forward keep them steady.

As with the Shado-Pan of Panderia, the Marines are not immune to succumbing to the power of the Sha. There have been many acts of evil committed by members of that most noble order. It is always sad to read or hear about, and there never is any justification that makes these acts ok, but most people who judge or condemn our darkened brothers and sisters do not know the angst they must deal with—the Sha. Yet the order presses on.

After these thoughts earlier, I may now always give a /bow to the Shado-Pan as I do their quests, enter their monastery, or press on into the Throne of Thunder. I will be proud to fight for the Shado-Pan, as I was proud to fight as a Marine. While the pixelated version of this honorable order will not have the same impact on my life, from an immersion standpoint, it’s equally as important to Panderia.

Semper Fi, Shado-Pan.

Coat of Many Colors

In the Spring of 2007, I went into Barnes and Noble, straight to the music section, and was looking for the latest recording by Baiba Skride (www.baibaskride.com). I had just recently attended two of her performances of Shostakowitsch Violinkoncert No. 1 with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra and was blown away by her prowess on her violin–so much so that I did attend those performances in the same weekend. The store didn’t have them in stock and would have to order it for me. That’s perfectly fine, of course. The way the guy responded to my request, though, made me chuckle a bit.

 

You see…I took my Harley that day (as I do most days). I ride with a three-pieced patch Motorcycle Club (or MC) and had my “colors” on that day. I’m a pretty big guy with a shaved head and a chin-only goatee of moderate length. The person working the music section ordered my disc for me and said something similar to “you know, I never would have guessed you to be a classical music fan.” It didn’t bother me, because although people want to believe they may or may not do it, we place generalizations on people all the time based on appearances. I’m aware of this and take those sorts of comments with a grain of salt.

 

With that said, I have been thinking a lot about the associative nature of humans and how we interact with others with similar or dissimilar interests to our own. I am by no means clinically or educationally qualified to make any professional assessments, but I have a watchful eye and have come up with some conclusions of my own. For one: I don’t fit in anywhere. Not fully, anyway. There’s no single group that I can positively identify with 100%. This is problem for some folks, but it’s how I’ve always been and I’ve learned to embrace it. No, I’m not a hipster. I even hate the term. I don’t shun pop culture or exclusive societies at all, either for who they are or any other reason. There is a time, place, and audience for all things, and for that, they should be appreciated, even if not agreed with (think Aristotle here).

 

Early Association

 

I suppose that like most kids and teens, there’s always a sense of just wanting to identify with a group of folks. I had my share of those times. My childhood was spent in the 80’s and teenage years up through the mid-90’s. That probably isn’t relevant, but I think there are some different challenges facing my kids today than I had to go through as an outsider kid. I didn’t necessarily have it tougher, just different. I wasn’t “cool” by any stretch of the imagination, but I also wasn’t the kid that everyone ignored or made fun of. I was just “there.”

 

As a teenager, I actually did make concerted efforts into fitting in with groups. I tried just about every group there was. I was in the band so I had those folks. I wrestled, tried football and baseball, so I had some of them too. I even tried hanging out with those kids who listened to the Ramones. You know those kids. You saw them in the hallway. That’s actually the funniest one to me. To try to fit in, I tried to copy their style by wearing old cut up slacks with combat boots. Wow… my Dad told me I looked like I just fell off the back of a turnip truck. I have no idea what that means, but he was probably right. Gotta love those Southern Colloquialisms.

 

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that finally decided I just didn’t give a fuck. I wore whatever I felt like, I spoke with whoever struck my fancy, and did just about whatever it was that I wanted to do. I had the most fun that year and really wish I had taken that approach from the beginning. Either way, I was an oddball and I was ok with it.

 

A Grown Ass Man

 

Transitioning into adulthood via the US Marines didn’t prove to be any different than my previous experiences with fitting in. I still didn’t have that “in” with anyone. I will say that there were 5 or 6 of us oddballs who did end up forming lasting friendships during our time together. Some of the best times of my life were spent with these guys. And they didn’t really fit in either.

 

Thus far, I’ve said all I’ve said to point out a few things about me and to sort of reinforce the breadth of my interests. I don’t like “hangin’ with the guys” but I don’t want to spend much time with a group of girls either. I wear a tuxedo every Tuesday night as an officer in a mason lodge, but I wear MC colors and ride a Harley Davidson on other occasions. I enjoy bluegrass music, heavy metal, classical, rap, country, and punk. I like tipping strippers and looking at porn, but I also enjoy some discretion and find amazing beauty in a more “classy” woman. I can fix a car in my garage, but I can also form a raid group in a video game and lead a team to moderate success. I can give a professional presentation at a meeting of colleagues, but I can also “bull-jive” with the people of my Southern/country heritage. When I don’t want to be bothered, I politely tell people to leave me alone when I think a lot of people would just suck it up. When people ask me questions, I give them direct answers without hesitation.

 

I have no doubt that there are many people who feel the way I do and don’t quite fit in. Their tastes may vary just as much or more so than my own. I’m not a special snowflake at all. How does this all tie in to a WoW blog?

 

Cliques Within the Subculture

 

Since I’ve taken to the social media side of WoW, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the interactions of folks within their own circles. Yes, these circles exist in every subculture, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What you see, though, are folks with notoriety only communicating with others of the same presence. You get elite raiders who only openly communicate with other elite raiders. You have the folks who speak to the current and trendy memes often, and they get along with each other well. There are very few “regular folks” even within the WoW community.

 

Bringing the era of my upbringing back into the discussion, the “nerd” or “geek” lifestyle was not “cool” or “trendy” by any means. Did they associate with themselves primarily? Yes, of course. But it wasn’t hip to be a geek. Now, you can be a geek and still not fit in without either creating your own niche, or filing in line within another. How did we get there? How do we select which nerds are going to be welcomed into our circles of nerd-dom? It’s a funny phenomenon to me.

 

So, I do my thing. I play game (better than some, worse than others). I try to keep social with people in and out of game. I’m often called “a really odd dude” and in the words of my dearest Cookie Monster: That’s ok with me.