Monday, November 23, 2020

Some Mindfulness Would be Good

I've been busy at work, but that's not the reason why I've not not posted over the intervening time. I guess the best way of putting it is that I've had trouble trying to articulate what's been going on in my gaming life since even before my post celebrating Shintar's guild's 9/9 AQ40 kill.


Part of it is easy: I need to help the oldest mini-Red replace her (literally) creaky laptop. The machine is an old AMD A-10 that struggles to do anything beyond the basics: MS Office 360, browsers, etc.* You could argue that is all a college student needs in a laptop, but come on. Let's be real about this. You're going to want to play games and handle more graphic and processor intensive tasks, and you're going to want a machine that won't be functionally obsolete within a couple of years. Which all points to a more modern chipset + an actual separate graphics card.

Plus you'll want a laptop whose hinges don't stress the casing so much that screw heads have been stripped off of the case. I've dug into my supply of spare screws and come up with a computer screw long enough to add a couple of washers to and then used that screw to hold the case together, but every couple of months that screw works itself loose, and it's just a matter of time before the case itself breaks. And is it worth repairing at that point? Not really; the laptop is 6 years old and driver support is becoming hard to get.

So I've been haunting laptop reviews online and casing the rows of machines at Microcenter.**

When your dreams start looking like this,
you've been spending too much time doing
research. From



Visiting Microcenter that much hasn't helped me personally, because it has revived my desire to build a PC of my own so that my wife can use the "home" PC and not interrupt me whenever she wants to use it. Part of the reason why I game so late at night --US Eastern Time-- is because I don't have to worry about overlap whenever she wants to use the machine. With a new machine of my own, I won't have to worry about that so much. Additionally, her PC usage is very much limited to social media and browser activity --she games on our Nintendo Wii U-- so the current PC will be perfect for her for years to come.

But you know, there's this thing called a budget, and building a PC isn't part of it.

So I've been trying to beat that urge to build a PC back into the depths of my psyche from where it emerged.


That aside, gaming has been... Okay, I guess.

I mean, I hang around with friends, I raid a bit a lot, I run BGs a bit, and I run 5-man instances a bit. I even have managed to spend a little time on an alt or two.

 Oh, and I farm a lot to keep up gold for pots for raids, and to allow myself time to think.

With Naxx coming, I've been realizing I need to start work on prepping for that. And with Card's current gearset, she is ideally equipped.... to start running AQ40.

I am not kidding.

With the exception of the cloak and belt, all of my gear is BWL or lower. I've come a long way, but I've also just about gotten to the point where the rest of the Mage team was when they started raiding AQ40 back in August. And I'm only starting to get some of the pieces enchanted, because I figured they'd get replaced so why waste gold enchanting something that's gonna get replaced soon? And with Naxx coming --and our AQ40 runs shutting down shortly-- there's just about no reason to get my hopes up about getting all the mats needed to get the T2.5 Enigma pieces together.***

So I'm looking at taking a Bloodvine set at the core into Naxx. And if you think that's gonna work out well I'd point you to the fact that Bloodvine does not have any Stamina on a single piece. There's a reason when I go to half T1/half T2 for AOE work that my health bar gains 500-1000 health. Once I started going back to that T1/T2 mix for a lot of the AQ40 fights, my survivability went up by a lot.


Beyond Naxx I know BC is looming, and with it 25-man raids. Which means that Mages aren't going to be as dominant --DPS wise-- due to changes in the classes, and that dropping down from 40 to 25 means that at least 2 Mages will likely be put on the bench.**** Or, if I'm lucky, a spot on a second raid team, with people's alts and whatnot. Either way, I realize that my time with this current raid configuration is going to be coming to an end in the Spring/early Summer.

And of course somebody just had to post this in the WoW server Discord channel yesterday:

From the Myzrael-US Discord channel.
No idea who actually created this version.

As if I needed any reminders that friends of mine from Az's old MC group are struggling to clear content while others have gone back to Retail for the next 2-3 months (at least).


At times like this, listening to music is a salve. I can put on anything (in the case of Sunday morning, the Sunday Baroque program found on classical radio stations), begin farming, and just get lost in the music. It's not exactly meditation, but it works for me. Work, the pandemic, social upheaval, family concerns, gaming worries, personal issues#, repair work around the house/car(s), etc.: they all fall away to whatever I put on.

I've commented before on the zenlike nature of this sort of thing, but it doesn't work the same way for other people. Or even myself, for that matter, depending on the situation. Put the right music on before a raid or an instance, and I'll be inspired enough to want to run through a wall. (Well, Card running through a wall, but you get the idea.) But I'm not necessarily going to put on Black Sabbath when I want to chill, either. ##

I just wanted an excuse to post this
music video. After all these years, 
this song can still inspire me.

Still, farming to music is a coping mechanism for the situation we've found ourselves in late November, 2020. Here's to hoping you have a coping mechanism as well.

*I've no idea how well it can handle MS Teams, but I'd bet that it struggles there too.

**Our Microcenter store is the second oldest one in the country. I remember when they had their "Buck a Meg" sale back in the early 90s, when you could get a hard drive for the price of a dollar for each megabyte of storage, and everybody at my job thought it was a steal of a deal.

***Have you seen the prices on the auction house for some of these idols? Zoinks.

****And if you think I'm going to be one of the 3-4 kept on the main team, you're in for a surprise. I've been pulling in at 6/6 fairly regularly, and other classes are catching up to me since they've been getting more gear drops.

#Including, I suspect, a mild case of depression. The hints have been there for years, but it's only in the past few months that it's become more obvious to me.

##I know; your mileage may vary.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Another Slimeball Bites the Dust

My long time blogger friend Shintar of Priest with a Cause posted this video yesterday, showing her guild's final attempt at taking out the last boss in AQ40, Viscidus:

Congrats to Shintar and the rest of the Order of the Holy Fork for the kill!!!

I did notice that unlike how our raid got rid of the poisons, I believe they were using Elixir of Poison Resistance instead of Immature Venom Sacs, but outside of that we used a similar strategy.

Shintar, did everybody have a stack of 20 to work with?

Oh, and it does look weird to see your bars, with all of the Hunter abilities instead of my Mage (or Rogue) abilities. And I think the Tranq Shot addon is awesome.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

50 Ways to Cleave Your Mage

As my time in WoW Classic has progressed, I've discovered all sorts of interesting ways to die.

No, really.

It's become a running joke that whenever Card gets into a Zul'Gurub run, Card is going to die on the run up to Z'G itself. Az, of course, never has a an issue with this: stealth (and Vanish, when needed) works wonders for a Rogue.

There's the standard "run up and hope you can CC enough to make it through", which rarely works.

Then there's the "follow along behind someone else and hope you keep up and get in", which is awesome if you're following along behind a Warrior or Paladin. Not so much if you're following a Clothie.

Oh, and how can I forget the "help someone by CC-ing the trolls so they can get through and then the trolls aggro on you before you can get inside yourself"  death.

Yesterday was the "follow along behind someone and they get so far ahead that the elite trolls get reset and aggro on you" method.

I'm at the point where I really shouldn't bother with world buffs if I'm going into Z'G, but for some reason I never learn.


I have to admit that I have a slight addiction to Winterfall Firewater, not for any real useful effect for a spell caster, but because it turns Card into a WNBA prospect. However, I've since learned to temper that enthusiasm for the Firewater because there was one time where Card died trying to get into Blackrock Depths by jumping down to that ledge halfway down, and because she was so large from the Firewater she couldn't get a grip on the ledge and bounced off to her death below. The rest of the group I was in laughed their collective asses off as they witnessed that. 

"That's what happens when your chest is too large, Card!"

"Helluva way to find out the answer to 'is my ass too big?'"

"Yeah yeah yeah.... I get the hint."


But some of my more spectacular deaths have happened in raids, where Card finds herself in odd locations after having died.

Like the time where I was running away from a Dark Glare when fighting C'Thun and I got punted by a tentacle that appeared beneath me.... right into the Dark Glare.

Or the time where a tentacle appeared beneath me (same fight) and tossed me up and into C'Thun's stomach right as I was getting zapped from an Eye Tentacle on the other side of C'Thun. I died 20 feet up before I could even get into the stomach.

The Anubisaths leading up to the Twin Emperors fight are particularly nasty on Clothies, like the one time we're all supposed to run in and shadowbolts wiped almost the entire Mage contingent out.

"What happened to the Mages?" someone asked. "Was it a meteor?"

"No," I typed in Raid chat. "Shadowbolted."

"Ah, that'll do it."

"Yeah," I replied. "The drawback to Bloodvine sets are that you're extra squishy."

And then there was last Friday night, where during the egg section of fighting Razorgore I was casting away, DPSing down the adds, and I was vaguely hearing the chatter in raid about the orb controller having trouble staying in control of Razorgore. I'd never had a problem before, so I was just focusing on my job. Then all of a sudden Razorgore appeared before me.

"Wait, why is Razorgore here? He's usually over behind... Wait, what is.... OH NO."

Yeah, I got one-shot by Razorgore in the brief period of time when the orb controller lost control of Razorgore, and I happened to be the closest one to him. 

The Raid Leader interrupted the chatter, saying "Okay, lets clean this all up. What happened to Cardwyn?"

"Razorgore got him when he was loose," one of the Rogues replied.


Later in the Blackwing Lair raid, we had those goblin + Orc + Dragonkin packs, and anybody who's been in BWL knows the Goblins' AOE damage packs a whallop. There's the Rain of Fire and then the Goblins will toss bombs at people, keeping everybody on their toes. 

Naturally, I die on those pulls a bit. 

Sometimes I avoid the AOE, get into position, and a bomb wipes all of us nearby.

A whole lot of Mages and Warlocks,
with a couple of Resto Druids to keep us company.


Then there's the time I blinked away from AOE right into the middle of a bomb throw.

And there's also the ever famous blinking away from one AOE and landing in another AOE.

Yes, a Druid keeping me....
warm and snug. At least that's what they say.


And finally, there's the ever famous Molten Core death caused by suicide to burn down packs of Imps that got aggroed along with a Molten Surger. You not only get to give the Surger a hug, but burn down off the Surger's buddies.


At least I can laugh at the various ways I die, because it's not like the soul crushing grind of battlegrounds. And I do learn a bit more about fights this way, just not in the way I envisioned it.

And I also provide our druids the opportunity to sit on my dead body. To keep it warm, they say.

"Where's Card? I can't find the body."

"Oh, just look for Tany or Levie. They've got Card.... covered."

Friday, November 6, 2020

It's Not You, It's Me

About 3 months ago, I started reflecting on my first crush.

I hadn't thought about her --in depth-- in decades, so I wasn't exactly sure where this came from. I suppose you could say it came from some of the mini-Reds being involved in their own relationships, but I don't think that's the case.* And I do know that while most of my grade school classmates thought my first crush was a redhead in 7th Grade,** that's not true either.

My first real crush was in the summer after 6th Grade with a girl who lived down the street. She was two years older than me, and her parents were divorced, so I only saw her part time. She was pretty, and believe me she knew it.*** As long as I knew her she used to wheedle to get her way, and while I rolled my eyes at that most of the time, what she'd be asking for (such as to borrow my bike to ride around, as she didn't have one) was reasonable enough I'd have said okay without the extra spice.

If she knew I had a crush on her, she never seemed to give it away. But with me with my first onslaught of raging hormones took notice of everything about her and thought she was perfect. Even the fact that she listened to disco didn't deter me from crushing hard on her.

But time eventually did. 

As happens with first crushes, I eventually outgrew my infatuation and moved on to another crush. I still saw her around, and I thought she was still very beautiful and I retained a soft spot for her, but the age difference plus the total difference in interests ended all feelings for her.****


Ironically enough, reflections on my first crush started right around the time when the Shadowlands expac hype train began leaving the station on my WoW Classic server.*****

Retail WoW was my first MMO, and like my first crush, my feelings for Retail were pretty intense. I went through a long period where Blizz could do no wrong, and while others in Trade Chat griped endlessly about this and that, I'd defend Blizz as well as I could. I thought the game that Wrath represented as perfect as you could get, and the culmination of a trilogy that began with Vanilla, closing a huge chapter in the Warcraft story. 

But like many crushes, my infatuation with WoW began to fade as Cataclysm approached. Some of it was socially related, as some of my fellow bloggers began to close up shop, but other parts were game related as I realized that Cataclysm's release became a gigantic race to max level. Once people got there, the "I'm bored" calls in Trade Chat annoyed me to no end. I was spending my time at that point leveling two alts --one Alliance, one Horde-- and I was in Outland, so the gigantic wave was gone by the time I made it to the first Catalcysm zones. I enjoyed the ride, but the social aspect soured me a lot on WoW. And by the time I was entering the Cataclysm 5-man instances, the toxicity I found pretty much ended my crush on WoW. 

While I hung on through Mists, my heart wasn't in WoW by then. I was simply too close to the game, and invested in the blog, to see it.

Years (and several other MMOs) later, WoW Classic offered me a chance to play the game I once loved, but in a more raw state than what Wrath represented. And bumps aside, I've thoroughly enjoyed the ride. But like my first crush, I look at Retail from time to time, and wonder "what if?" on more than one occasion. 

When I went to go take that pic of Neve sitting at the bar in Dalaran about a year ago, my add-ons were so out of date that I had to disable all of them, so I got a chance to see the default UI in Retail for the first time since, oh, 2011. What surprised me was how much of it is similar to my modded UI now. What also surprised me was the sheer number of "Do this!" and "Do that!" and "Come do this other thing!" events that popped up on screen. It was as if Retail was determined that I was going to be doing something, boredom be damned. While I suppose the concept of sitting around somewhere, fishing, still existed, Retail overwhelmed you with so many things you could do that it felt like you had to do them.

I consequently "noped" my way right back to Classic and spent about an hour on Card, just hanging around Darnassus and fishing in one of the pools around the city.#

But months later, I still wonder. Not enough to spring for Shadowlands or even to play a non-Shadowlands Retail WoW, but I do wonder about my first MMO crush. 

And I ask myself "What if...."

*Sorry, not going to divulge anything here, but trust me on this.

**You know how cruel middle school kids can be? At Catholic grade schools, there's no difference. I was constantly harassed by my classmates to divulge "who I liked", so when I finally let the cat out of the bag at the end of 7th Grade, the reaction was pretty brutal. My 8th Grade year was a very miserable experience.

***She eventually became a cheerleader at the public high school.

****I'm absolutely certain she would not have been interested in most of my hobbies today, and I doubt we'd have much in common to talk about. I knew that even back then, but with crushes you tend to throw that out the window.

*****What, you thought this was going to be another post about guilds? At least give me some credit here.

#Yes, I do appreciate the irony here. But I'm probably the only person who played Mists and refused to play the destruction of Theramore event, so back in the day when I'd fly in and land in "old" Theramore, there were a couple of leveling toons but that was it. The place was a ghost town, but I liked it like that. Maybe that's why I like having Az use Theramore as her hearth location in Classic: I can continue to enjoy Theramore the way it once was.

EtA: I cleaned up some grammar in the second big paragraph. I missed that earlier.