Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What Happens When Mages Ponder

You'd think that I would know enough about Mages in Classic (and TBC Classic), but every so often something pops up that catches me by surprise.

Like how I was helping my questing buddy's Mage run through Sunken Temple --I was on Linna-- when one of the pulls went a little haywire. We managed to kill off the pack, and then my questing buddy mentioned that "I didn't know you could Ice Block and break a sheep."*

I paused a second. "I had no idea either."


Most of the time I'm sheeped in Alterac Valley my Ice Block is on cooldown, and when it isn't I'm likely about to die anyway so I'd rather not waste it. And in instances where you can get sheeped, such as Sunken Temple and Zul'Farrak, Ice Block may be available (if you pick up the talent in the Frost tree) but it's typically not what you're thinking of when you get sheeped. Especially with a 5 minute CD and the potential to get sheeped multiple times in one pull.

And to be fair, Cardwyn 1.0 has been Fire Spec for almost two years, so I'd kind of forgotten that Ice Block for all specs was a change made in TBC Classic. I'd probably have continued in blissful ignorance --courtesy of the leveling grind Card went through-- until sometime in Wrath Classic.


While that's one example of me learning new tricks, there is one surprising part of TBC Classic where I, uh, by accident kind of broke the game.

Okay, maybe it's by design, but it was waaaay too much fun to not do it.

If you're a Mage in TBC Classic you're familiar with the Spellsteal Level 70 spell. For the uninitiated, Spellsteal allows a Mage to steal a buff that is currently on an enemy and use it for yourself. This is the how a Mage can perform Mage Tank duties during the High King Maulgar fight: the Mage uses Spellsteal to take the Spell Shield buff from Krosh Firehand, rendering him vulnerable to spells, and the Mage (mostly) invulnerable to the same. In my case, I've used Spellsteal from time to time with Neve in Alterac Valley, stealing heals and other assorted buffs from enemies, often to their displeasure (and Neve's inevitable death).

The other day, I had gotten it into my head to farm some Runecloth on Cardwyn 1.0 to replenish my depleted supply, and since I could also use some extra Winterfall Firewater as a cheap melee DPS buff I figured I'd head out to Winterfall Village in Winterspring. The Winterfall Firbolgs drop both items, and Winterspring is typically empty anyway, so why not?

Now, anybody who knows anything about WoW probably perked up their ears when I mentioned Winterfall Firewater. It has two effects: you get +35 to your Attack Power for 20 minutes, and you get a bit of an increase in size for the duration while it is active. I used to use it with Azshandra all the time until one fateful Blackrock Depths run where I was heading to the entrance of the instance and I jumped down from the outer walkway within Blackrock Mountain onto the ledge below, which serves to break my fall at about the halfway point in the drop so I don't plummet to my death. Well, that was the idea, but Az had consumed some Winterfall Firewater and had correspondingly grown large enough that she couldn't fit properly on the ledge, and so she bounced off of it and died in the lava below. 

My groupmates had a good round of laughter at my expense. 

"Helluva way to find out if your butt is too big, Az!"

I still use Firewater from time to time on Card when I'm goofing around, even though she doesn't need it at all**, just because she can then almost look a Draenei in the eye. But I did use it on Briganaa and Linnawyn when they were out in the field, because it's a cheap buff and I acquired a ton of them when I was working on the Wintersaber mount grind. 

But my supplies were running low, so I headed out to Winterspring.

While I was obliterating Firbolg for fun and profit, I took a note of something:


The buff that you see there is the Winterfall Firewater buff on the Firbolg. All of the Winterfall Firbolg have it, so at first I didn't notice anything. But do you notice the highlight around the buff? That means the buff was a candidate for Spellstealing.

When I was last farming up here, Card was L66, and that buff wasn't highlighted. After all, Spellsteal is only learned at L70.

But that got me to thinking.

So I used Spellsteal and yes, I noted the slight size increase and I got a 2 minute version of Winterfall Firewater with a boost to the buff itself:

Instead of 35 AP like the regular
version, this one was 70 AP.

Convinced this was a cheap way to amuse myself, I attacked another Winterfall Firbolg and used Spellsteal there.

And much to my surprise the little bump in height happened again.

Sure enough, there were now two Winterfall Firewater buffs active:

I checked, and the buffs did actually stack in Attack Power as well. So I wondered if this was like the little "cheat" to the system in Karazhan, where a Mage using Spellsteal and a tank keeping one of the Ethereals with their stackable caster buff could get up to 10 stacks of said buff and absolutely obliterate Netherspite.***

Well, it wasn't exactly the same, as the Spellsteals for Winterfall Firewater were separate buffs, but...

I drank one of the Winterfall Firewater potions Card had on her (after one of the buffs had fallen off) and....

Now this is interesting.

I went out and killed a few more Firbolgs, stealing their buff, and each time Card grew a little more. It didn't seem like she was that large...

But when I ported to Theramore as my questing buddy needed a hand with something, I was greeted by this:

This is with four stacks.

I sent that screencap to my questing buddy, who said "She's huge!"

I mean, I've had multiple buffs before, with Heroism + Firewater + Alterac Valley Belinda buff, but this was something entirely different.

Just exactly how many stacks could I do at once? 

Mana would become an issue, as would killing the Firbolg I pulled. But I figured "why not" and at my earliest opportunity I went back to Winterfall Village and got to work.

I discovered that 8 stacks was the practical limit given my constraints...

I could hit 9 stacks, but one would fall off just as soon as I put one on, so I just left it at 8 and ported into Stormwind.

"I look like a raid boss!" I said out loud, and then I tried to exit the Sanctum:

"I can't get out the damn door!" I cried.

So I had to wait for a few stacks to burn off and only then could I squeeze through.

"Who's the Archmage now, Malin?"

I should have checked what my Attack Power was, but just being able to game the system like this was awesome. No idea if this would work in Wrath Classic, but I've the screencaps to prove that it does in TBC Classic.

Totally worth it.


*Or maybe it was a frog. Can't remember and I'm tired.

**It's a melee buff, not a caster buff.

***We tried this out one Friday night with a friend who'd just specced Fire for the first time --so she even wasn't aware of using Combustion or the Fire Mage rotation at all-- and she absolutely dominated us in the DPS meters.

EtA: Corrected some grammar.

EtA: Corrected some more grammar.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Gen Con 2022: The Gamers Returned

I normally wouldn't have had a follow-up post like this, but Gen Con LLC released their post con press release, and the contents confirmed what my son and I thought was the case.

The gamers were back.

According to the press release, Gen Con attendance returned to pre-pandemic levels at over 50,000 attendees and over 15,000 ticket events. The Gen Con Online version had over 900 virtual games and events as well, so there seems to be a future for Gen Con Online. 

For us personally it certainly seemed that the crowds were just as busy as when we last attended on Sunday (around 2012), but the tweaks made to improve the flow of people throughout the con kept the traffic snarls low.

I do wonder just how much space the Exhibit Hall will expand into so that the traffic is kept to decent levels, given that there were tons of cafeteria style tables in a good 1/3 of the area beyond the Exhibit Hall itself. That was where I saw this poster:

Given that I typically play AD&D 1e
these days, I could use a refresher.

That area was pretty empty, but I think they might have been holding a Magic: the Gathering tournament there during the other three days of the con. 

For the curious, I did want to point out what the prices were for badges for this year's Gen Con:

Have I mentioned lately that
I love Snip and Sketch?

This does not include buying Event tickets, but as you can see a Sunday badge is incredibly cheap, which is why we tended to focus our Gen Con visit on Sundays. In fact, parking at the Stadium was almost as expensive ($30) as the cost of two Sunday badges. 

Still, the cost of attending Gen Con was very much worth it. I got to see the games in action that I'd not even be able to find on the shelves at my local game store, 

Point Salad! My questing buddy recommended
this as a present for my wife, so it's nice to
see it get some love.

and I got to talk to people there who were specialists in the games they were promoting. I mean, being able to talk to someone at the Atlas Games booth about Ars Magica and segueing into a game that he really liked, Feng Shui 2, was priceless:

Obviously he did a good job,
because this.

If you can imagine an RPG that plays like
a Jackie Chan movie or Big Trouble in
Little China, that's what Feng Shui 2 is like.

So unless you're not a fan of crowds, which is understandable, you ought to give Gen Con a try. Even this introvert found something to love.


EtA: Corrected some grammar.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Gen Con 2022: It's Good to be Back

Guess who just got back today?
Them wild-eyed boys that had been away
Haven't changed, had much to say
But man, I still think them cats are crazy
--Thin Lizzy, The Boys are Back in Town

(I added a jump break because, well... There's a lot of photos from both my son and myself.)

If there's one truism about a trip to Gen Con, it's that I don't get a lot of sleep the night before.

Not because of excitement, although I was looking forward to going for the first time since 2013 (ish), but because of.... Whatever.

In this case, I'd set things up to get around 6 hours of sleep, which would have been perfectly fine for me, but I woke up after 4 hours, wide awake, and I couldn't do anything about it. And I just knew what it was going to mean in the end: I'd be tired on the drive back home, and I'd be hunting for a rest stop so I could zonk for 1/2 hour.

But still, I did try to rest, so that kind of helped.

All things considering, we got off to a pretty decent start, although we had a rabbit in our front yard right by the driver's side door that simply refused to move when I wanted to get in and leave.

"Come on, buddy," I told the rabbit, "you've gotta move. I have to go now."

After about 10-15 seconds of staring at me, the rabbit finally hopped a couple of times and let me in.


This year it was just my son and I, as my wife took a pass at being around crowds, my youngest had other commitments, and my oldest was going to get her SO back from Interlochen, where they were an instructor this Summer. Given that I was fully vaxxed and that Gen Con had a "mask on" policy the entire convention, I was reasonably confident that things would be fine. Still, I was a bit nervous when we got in line for having our vaccination status verified, 

but I need not have worried. We zipped right on through the (small) line and secured our verification tag.

In what became the theme of our Gen Con trip, we arrived at Will Call for our tickets and said "Well, the line doesn't seem to be too long." About 5-10 minutes later, we got through the line and got our badges. (You need your vaccination status verified before picking up your badge.) We turned around and....

The line stretched almost to the bend in the hall. 

"We got here at just the right time," my son observed.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Point Me in the General Direction of Bed

I have been to Gen Con today. I haz survived it.

More later.

But first, here's a preview:

It's a balloon version of Genevieve,
the mascot of Gen Con!


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Well... Look Who's Back

Wowitshard, the YouTuber who made many WoW Classic videos, is back. And in a timely piece, entitled "Server Transfer", he's kind of defined the experience:



Friday, August 5, 2022

Passive Aggressive Commentary

When I was sending some mats to Cardwyn to craft, Linna came across this toon on Myzrael-US:

Gee, I have no idea what that guild is referencing...

That's one way to express your displeasure with the swift abandonment of Myzrael-US by the major Alliance raiding guilds. 


Thursday, August 4, 2022

Taming the id

I've occasionally touched on this in the past, but one nice thing about blogging in this (electronically) written format is that it avoids what I call the "unrestrained id" found in other forms of social media.

This was on my mind when I was listening to the interviews in Josh Strife Hayes' YouTube video I posted about yesterday, particularly how streamers are basically caught in the moment when they comment on something that they're asked about while streaming. It also jogged my memory about a comment that Kaylriene made about Taliesin and Evitel, and how he was a fan of their YouTube videos until he saw some of their livestreams, and then.... Oh well.

A huge part of why I don't like being on Twitter* or livestreaming is that the immediacy of the apps means that there's no time for contemplation before committing to a comment. You see something, you open your mouth (or your keyboard/smart phone), and out it goes. The only restraint is that little voice in the back of your head saying "NO DON'T!!!!!" as you hit "send" or just let those words come out.

Even in a conference call at work there is a thing called a mute button, which comes in awfully handy when you're in a meeting and to save your blood pressure from skyrocketing you let loose with some invective. Not necessarily aimed at anyone, just blowing off steam, but...


And if you've ever actually missed that the mute button was off, and you say anything, it's one of the more embarrassing things that can happen to you.**

Still, the lack of filter beyond your own internal one can become a huge liability if you can't keep your mouth shut. And let's be honest: a lot of the appeal of watching a streamer isn't just what they're doing, but what they're saying. It's all unfiltered, and a livestream only tends to encourage that lack of filtration. 


Is it the shock value that people want to see, or something witty and clever? 

Reaction videos are just that --a reaction-- and people will watch them more than regular videos put out by the same person. Asmongold admitted as much in Josh's video, where he spends a lot of time putting together a "how to do X" video and it only gets a fraction of the views than a "TBC Classic is better than Shadowlands" video. It's a shame, really, but I guess people are coming for the drama and the affirmation that they're right (or the YouTuber is wrong).

Maybe I'm just an old fuddy duddy or something, but I fail to see why the immediacy is needed so much. In a world where your reputation --and online even more so-- is everything, why risk it in an emotional outburst? Why risk being rounded up and crapped on by an internet hit squad because you couldn't keep your mouth shut?

From where I sit, it's not worth it.


*For the record, yes, I --as Parallel Context's Redbeard, not for me as, well, me-- do have a Twitter account. I never use it, as I only created it for a very specific reason (to DM someone), and it sits there, unused. So if you ever pinged me on a Tweet, I'd never see it.

**No, I did not curse. I asked my youngest if she needed a ride to something. Still, it was plenty embarrassing.