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The Invasion event is almost over, and I’m glad for it.

Not to say that it wasn’t fun and productive, in a limited way, but it wasn’t three weeks worth of fun and productive in a limited way.

Sure, I only have all six pieces of warforged gear on one toon, but all of my 100s have at least four.  More than that is just a grind.

Invasion Gear Ain’t All That

If you get all of your invasion gear up to iLevel 710, you’re on par with some of the less well-developed WoD raiders, but I have to ask how long it’ll be good for. Traditionally, my epics are chucked just as fast as I can find superior questing greens when the expansion starts.

Broken Isles Event was Cheap

I won’t spoil the “surprise” but …

I don’t mean in the form of no expenses spared.  I instead mean, Blizz generated some tension between Horde and Alliance in a cheesy way. Instead of laying down a solid story that explains to you why you should be pissed (Alliance) or feeling REAL misunderstood (Horde), they chose to hide bits of the story behind the Iron Curtain, as it were.  And the joke of it all is that all you have to do is go up to YouTube to see the other side of the scenario, and that tension is instantly negated.  Hordesplainers be like “well actually” and this time it’s actually a valid defense.

Had the story been more expertly laid out, I would have given this event full marks. Having said that, it was still pretty damned good.

Getting Tired of Jaina’s Shit

In fact, the whole “Kirin Tor Takes Dalaran on a Field Trip” series of events is pretty thinly plotted, but the bitterest pill of all to swallow is how they have reduced Jaina to a whiney little jerk that spends a lot of time doing the Kylo Ren Stomp all over the place. So much so that I think most people were glad when she /ragequit the Kirin Tor – and not just on the Horde side.

Let’s go for extra points and point out how sleazily that Khadgar basically manspreaded right into her old spot in the council. I gotta say, people upset that Khadgar has basically preempted Jaina’s rightful place as the Mage of Mages in the past two or three expansions MIGHT be onto something.  And as a guy that named his cat after her, I’d like to see better.

I hope they redeem the character with some solid storytelling in this expansion, but I’m worried we’ll get the ragey version of “*sniffle* just proud of my king …”  (gag). I’d love to say that I know Blizz can do better … but I can’t.  The major character arcs seem to be in the hands of someone that really can’t tell a story that well (cough cough Metzen). They need to hand that over to Kozak.

Invasions were good for one thing, anyway

Getting out there and learning your new rotations is a good thing. For those of us not raiding, the only way to really test your mettle was against the major demons in at the Throne of Kil’jaden.

The invasions provided new and useful targets. They also taught me that melee in that sort of environment is no fun.  Let’s just say I’m glad for the opportunity to learn defensive cooldowns on an Unholy DK, but I would have preferred not to.

You’re gonna say “But Grimm, the Invasion Event was also good for leveling toons!”  Gonna say it again: I’m not getting why you’d bother playing a toon you don’t want to level in the first place. Let’s agree that that argument will never, ever carry water with me.

But this is from a guy that hasn’t used either of his boosts yet. So whatever.

Speaking of Raiding

Our GM has been getting more active in game and has actually canvassed us to see if we’d be interested in raiding this expansion.  Might have to bring Jasra for this, as we look to be replete with DPS, but that’s fine, I like to be useful.

I’m also seeing some old friends I thought I’d never be playing with again, and that makes me very excite.

I don’t know if we will actually get there, but I think we’ll at least be able to cobble together some consistent 5-mans. Jas made an attempt at that last night and brought the house down with her screwed up keybinds.  So we’re working on that. Smile

Cautiously Optimistic

At the start of WoD, everyone was like OMG Cutscenes and proclaiming the storytelling to be the star of the expansion.  At the end of this content drought called 6.2, nobody’s wondering where the five million people went to – the answer is: away. They got bored and let down by the rest of the expansion not living up to the start of the expansion – or its price.

So, while I am hearing good things about the expansion so far, I’m also mindful that Blizz has a lot to make up for once again. Maybe they’ll deliver on the promise of a more content-ful expansion with a lot more to look forward to. You have to play to find out.

Tomorrow in the US, they roll out the demons in force. As always, I’m here first to have fun. Here’s hoping the rollout goes smoothly and it lives up to the hype.

I’ll see you on the Isles, fellow WoWheads.

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I Saw the Warcraft Movie and It Didn’t Suck

warcraft movieBased on the disgruntlements I have heard from “The Internets”, I had very low expectations for this film.  Had I had moderately high expectations, they would have been exceeded. I quite enjoyed it.

Spoilers below the cut.  Don’t read if you intend to see the movie now and don’t want spoilers. On the other hand, if you’re waiting for the Blu-Ray, you’re part of the problem and you deserve no spoiler guards, so read on.

(If you’re unable to afford to see the movie, this is probably your only chance to find out what’s in the movie since you wouldn’t be able to afford the disk, either, unless you plan to pirate it. Don’t pirate it.)

Read the rest of this entry

The New Hotness

As countless happy people log into the beta, I’m sitting  here looking at a bog standard login in battle.net. But there are compensations.

Once again, our internet angel Vidyala has reached out and provided me with a reason to be of good cheer, in this case a most excellent commission of myself and my favorite pet, Bumbles, in our favorite hunting grounds. She hadn’t been taking commissions, but for some odd reason accepted my moniez in exchange for this awesome artwork. As you can tell, no matter the price, I came out on top in this exchange.

I am not here to brag on my good fortune, but merely to a) explain why this image may appear in the headers from now on (it will), and b) to sing the praises of all things Vidyala.

And now, prepare to bask in the magnificence of my turbulence.

Grimm_full_resolution

Thanks, Vid! As always, it is a genuine pleasure!

They see me Trollin’, they hatin’, mon

NewGrimm

The 2016 Running of the Trolls is an event to benefit The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBT (and other) youth.  I will be there on my fresh Troll hunter, GrimmtoothTu.  I intend to be at least level 20 so I can help retrieve lostlings with my mammoth, but one need only roll a level 1 and show up to participate.

Essential links:

The Trevor Project Info:

thetrevorproject.org
Lifeline: 1-866-488-7386
Get help online : http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/get-help-now

Date: June 11, 2016

Time: 9PM EST / 6PM PST

Here’s a more thorough explanation of what’s going on, how to sign up, how to donate, how to participate, and an FAQ.

Magical Warlock Girl – Running of the Trolls

This is a truly worthy cause – I hope to see you there!

Disco til it Hurts

jasra-port-2.jpg

For the majority of this expansion, I’ve run Shadow for leveling and grinding and otherwise non-raiding, and it’s been okay outside of my inability to keep myself – or my minion – alive if I start taking damage.

Then I started working Tanaan, and it all fell over.

My bodyguard wouldn’t last through a fight if more than one elite was pulled. And if my bodyguard went down, I couldn’t take the mob down fast enough for my health to stay above zero.  I’d die, and the monochrome marathon would ensue.

I’ve been reserving Disco for raiding / grouping, but out of desperation I decided to try it as a levelling / grinding spec.  And I was pleasantly surprised.

I have to qualify this with the observation that I am getting nowhere near Grimm’s 40K/s damage numbers. My output is split between DPS and healing, as SmiteySpec is known for.

The whole thing is contingent on the survival of my new bestie, Illona, who reminds me a lot of my pal Orlee. I’m not really sure how survivable I’d be if I didn’t have my pocket tank.

Jas and Illona

Yep, for the first time ever I’ve found something related to the Garrison that I actually like.

On the other hand, I’m kind of bummed that there are no healer or DPS bodyguards to fill in for other roles out there. Though I have to concede that Delvar is so lousy at tanking, he might as well be  DPS.

At any rate, I’m kind of looking forward to logging in on Jas these days and trolling around Tanaan to farm Apexis crystals.

Life Imitates WoW

… or something like that.

Behold:

drama horn

Remind you of anything?

drama horn

Them Zeth’gol Orcs, they be Dramatic.

Today is the Fourth Annual Finding Jaina Day

Not actually Jaina but pretty damned close.

Not actually Jaina but pretty damned close.

Just over four years ago, the vets at a certain chain vet clinic which will shall remain unamed told us that this little stray Birman kitten we found in the parking lot had less than six months to live.  I named her Jaina for her fighting spirit. Four years later, she’s still at large, and in charge.

It has been a momentus year for The Cat Who Lived. She’s moved to a new house, which she likes very much.

Say Hi to Butterscotch AKA Professor Jiggley

Say Hi to Butterscotch AKA Professor Jiggly

She has gained a new “sibling”, another stray we picked up named Butterscotch (a “ginger” if that matters to you).

 

 

 

 

Morgan Circa Aug 2015 when I named her "Tracer". It didn't stick.

Morgan Circa Aug 2015 when I named her “Tracer”. It didn’t stick.

Then she picked up another new “sibling” named Morgan, a kitten that also had no home. She hates them both, of course, as she hates all other cats, so that’s nothing new.

Her biggest adventure this year was a visit to the vet’s for a checkup and nail trimming. The ruckuss she raised when the trimming came up was so powerful that the vetinary tech NOPED right outta there when the vet showed up for the exam, and never came back. She’s a very fearsom 10 pounds of fluff and anger, and we still lover her very much.

Our little kitten has become somewhat more sociable, but only on her terms. On chilly nights I may wake up with her plopped up against my back. If I turn around to face her, she’s gone. But it’s a start.

Why are u pointing that at meh and how much will u pay to stay alive as a result?

Why are u pointing that at meh and how much will u pay to stay alive to make up 4 it?

Every year we have with The Cat That Lived is a year that we were told that would not have. I treasure every day with this cantankerous, rowdy, antisocial, bearcat kitten of mine. Who needs boring when one can have the excitement of living with Jaina? Totes worth it, y’all.

How to Fail at Being a Weapon

too-soon-noobsauce

The lady has a very fine post on WoW Insider about how cookie cutter builds suppress individuality – or words to that effect. I won’t gainsay her observations, but I do have some additional comments to make on the topic.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room.  The concept being that players are going to optimize their characters for maximum effect. If Vee’s laments are to be taken patently, then that means that every frost mage looks just like the next, and ever Afflock is pretty much taking the exact same spec. You have probably figured out for yourself at this point that that is not the case. Does this mean that Vee is full of shit?  Not at all!

Please be mindful that Vee’s field of view is extremely limited by the data she has to work with.  And in this case, the data she has to work with is from raiders doing raider things.

Instantly, without taking a breath, we have an automatic bias.

This bias is, strictly speaking, limited to people that (a) raid and (b) upload their combat logs to AskMrRobot’s combat log analyzer.

So, again strictly speaking, Vee’s article ONLY applies to raiders that like AMR over other log analyzers.

Those that do not raid – i.e., a lot of people plus PvPers – are not included in this equation.

If one were to take blog post titles literally – which I discourage – then Vee’s article should be more accurately entitled “How cookie cutter builds discourage player customization in raids“. Because that is one of the only two places (the other being PvP) where this statement is even remotely accurate.

Let me take a moment to be completely honest with you. What you choose as a spec and how you glyph and how you select talents are completely irrelevant if you are not a raider or PvPer.

Pretty much any build will work if you’re just questing, or bumming around Tanaan gathering Fel Blight or whatever that green shit is called, or grinding stupidity points in the Garrison, or, well, most activities in WoW. Talents and Glyphs are mostly meaningless if you are not raiding or PvPing.

Raiding and PvPing are special corner cases where all the rules of Sanity go out the window. In these cases, you must spec for maximum effectiveness. There is no other way. Failing to do so will result in less than optimum contribution from yourself to the effort at hand, be it a raid or battleground.

Yes. Yes, a thousand times. I am categorizing Raiding and PvP as corner cases in the WoW spectrum of builds. Because, when you compare the requirements of these efforts to everything else, they require specific- may I say, perverse – configurations in order for any one character to contribute effectively.

Former WoW lead designer GhostCrawler once confessed that he was surprised that users would optimize on efficiency. I as well would agree. But what he was actually commenting on was our tenancy to optimize on effectiveness, which includes but is not limited to efficiency. GC was wrong and the world may never be the same.

Let’s circle back on Vee’s core conceit here, though. In my mind,she’s late to the party, and I’ll tell you why.

For years we’ve known that raiding and PvP require specific skills. Optimization. Focus on what is required of you, the contributor to the team.

These are very specific environments, and nobody should be surprised that, given a known optimized build, top players would gravitate to the ones that yield the best results for others.   Once you have let the information genie out of the bottle, there is no going back.

Blizz have given us the tools to do this, in the form of combat logs, threat meters, DPS meters, and so forth. Given a source of information, geeks will mine it for all that it is worth, and that means that we’ll arrive at specific recommendations for specific situations.

Up to now I’ve restricted my observations to Raiding/PvP. For raiding, there’s an extra-exotic layer in which one tunes one’s spec PER BOSS. And why the hell not? For the cost of a reagent, one can switch talents and glyphs around like they were backdrops on a Windows PC.

So here are my fundamental observations on all this.

  1. The cookie cutter thing only applies to raiders and PvPers. Regardless of your opinion of what percentage of the playerbase that is, I guarantee it’s not over 70%.,
  2. Optimization is both normal; and EXPECTED for raiders and PvPers.
  3. Optimizing for maximum effectiveness is a normal behavior for anyone that is informed and trying to do the best they can in their role, whatever it may be.
  4. Whoever is not raiding or PvPing may be doing their own thing, but the AMR data does not support any conclusions either way, because AMR does not collect realtime data on non raiders.

I will point out that one major point of Vee’s article is that 3% of the top raiders are different than everyone else, and that may be significant. I totally agree with her premise in that regard. The cookie cutter thing gets you so far – i.e. somebody did the hard work of discovering what works and what doesn’t for you. But the truly excellent players find their own ways of doing things. That 3% isn’t a benchmark. It’s a challenge., It’s a challenge to the number crunchers and theory crafters to do  better.

And after all that, all I can say is: here’s to the 3-percenters.  Keep us on our toes. /respect.

Failed Design

If you’ve spent much time around me, you know that few things piss me off more than game elements created to deliberately waste my time.  In that regard, the Garrison as a whole, and the Lunarfall Excavation in particular really set me off on a rant when certain things come up.

But there’s more.

There are far fewer things that piss me off than things that are done to deliberately waste my time, but which contain self-defeating mechanisms to lessen or nullify their effects because the game designer was unwilling to hold the line  on the decision to go with that design, and wimped out rather than admit s/he was wrong.

In this case, I am referring to the two little treats you can find in the Lunarfall Excavation – the Preserved Mining Pick and the Miner’s Coffee.  These two items drop from Mine Carts that you find throughout the mine, and they nullify a bit of the time-sink that the mine represents – the picks by halving the time it takes to mine a node, and the coffee by speeding up your movement speed between nodes.  While neither completely nullify the time or distance required to travel around in a Level 3 mine, they go a long way towards diminishing it.  And that’s what annoys me.

When you’ve completed the design of a thing and submitted it to alpha testing, there are two ways of dealing with any shortcomings that the testers might find.  The first is, you take their feedback and make adjustments to the thing to make things better.  The other is, you pretend the testers don’t “get” your creation, and hold that line until someone else – say, the senior game designer – gets wind of it and there’s no time to actual redesign the thing, so little, stupid, workarounds have to be created to compensate for the failure of the thing.

Is this what actually happened with the Lunarfall Excavation?   Honestly, I’ll probably never know. But the design is so crappy, it really looks like those two “buff” items were added as a compensatory afterthought to somehow mollify the throngs of torch-bearing beta testers that wanted someone’s ass.

Compare the design to the herb garden. The garden is compact, organized, and takes less than five minutes to fully clean out even at Level 3.  Sure, it doesn’t render up the same quantity of resources or Primal Spirits, but it is just a far better design than the mine is.

This would not annoy me nearly as much if it weren’t for two things.  The first thing I’ve already hit on – Blizz, having elected to have this huge, sprawling complex that took at least a quarter of an hour to fully clean out, seemingly decided to wimp out on the level of commitment needed to clean it out. They apparently decided to soften the blow with a rather wimpy solution that showed commitment to nothing.

The second thing that amps up the annoyance here is that the mine is artificially mandatory for anyone that has a garrison.  Either you have to mine it for mats for your crafting – and many of these crafts are not blacksmithing or jewelcrafting – or you have to mine it for primal spirits used to upgrade your crafted armor.

Sure, you few Mythic raiders are going to get the good stuff off of Archy, but us mere mortals are going to have to deal with collecting resources to make our stuff, and unfortunately that includes mandatory mining for most things – Savage Blood, for example, requires Blackrock Ore for alchemists to use, and you need 60 of them to get a crafted item to its 4/6 level.

(Aside: it feels like they did levels 5 and 6 better, requiring you to be out in the world to find the primary mats for those upgrade, at least. So they can possibly be taught.)

In the film “Ruthless People” (A film I highly recommend, by the way), Danny DeVito’s character, Sam Stone, shares some power-negotiator advice with a hapless cop.

Never let the seller know you’re hot to trot. Tell him you haven’t got the money. […] tell ’em you don’t have the money, that it’s all tied up in investments or some crap. […] A bad salesman will automatically drop his price. Bad salesmen make me sick.

With regards to the Lunarfall Excavation, Blizzard plays the role of the Bad Salesman.

Bad salesmen make me sick.

Doing my part to make the situation worse

If you’ve been in a cave recently (the irony will make itself known momentarily), you may have missed that a new battle pet has been discovered in-game. It was datamined a while back, then revealed as a special pet for an event in Taiwan. Now, the companion pet Terky, a rare non-purchasable murloc pet, has been revealed.

S/He hatches from a small egg found in a cave in Northrend. It’s not the easiest to find. First, go here:

Dive below water, and you’ll see the entrance to the west in the cliff face, around 56, 88. Enter the cave; it’s a short swim until you hit a wall. Then go straight up and you’ll enter the cavern.

It’s a pretty popular spot.

Right in behind the table is a pile of refuse, and withn that is a small white egg. Click on that to loot your Terky.

Note that the respawn time for the egg is pretty short, so don’t be discouraged! Be patient and you’ll get it. I got mine in less than five minutes. Took longer to get there.

I realize that joining the chorus of people trumpeting the new pet is probably making things fractionally worse, but I also suspect that a lot of people are going to shy away from this pet if they feel like getting it will be too difficult. Fortunately, this isn’t a Noblegarden-class clusterquack, so don’t let the crowds discourage you! Go get your murloc!