Choices

The more I play and read about the beta, I find myself struggling with an unexpected dilemma. Do I keep playing my Priest even though I’m not 100 percent happy with some of the changes or do I switch to my Druid?

Whilst I do want to get back into raiding at some point during the next expansion, given the fact that I’m about to start a new job in a new city a month before MoP is released, plus we’re going to be moving house in the next couple of months, raiding other than LFR is out of the question probably for the first tier. So it’s not the PvE side of things which bothers me, after all I was healing heroics at the start of Cataclysm despite the “Oh, it’s a priest…. this is going to suck” comments from my party members. In the words of the song, “I can get by“, grumpily sure but I’d manage.

My problem is PvP which brings with it a whole new set of issues and problems. The thought of losing to certain people, the ones that my current Disc Priest can happily beat in one v ones at the moment despite the fact that they’re similarly geared and dps specced is enough is to make Sprout curl up into a ball and cry (I know I probably have that effect on them but that’s totally different okay!). We’re losing so many of the tools I use on a day to day basis and getting little in return.

  • No more shadow cast time spells. Ignoring the kick/interrupt aspect especially when fighting melee because you can get around that, smite just doesn’t have same oomph as “mind blast” or “mind spike” in terms of the imagery it conjures up.
  • Mind control being a talent with a 30 second cooldown. This is perhaps my biggest issue because  I use it a lot in PvP. It’s won me arena games, it’s allowed me to hold nodes solo in maps like AB and of course throwing people off cliffs is priceless.
  • Losing our damage reduction talents. Resilience will probably fix it but you never can tell.
  • No more holy nova unless you glyph for it but you can’t afford the glyph slot because you need a whole bunch of other glyphs to get back the stuff which has become optional but isn’t really for PvP. Now I know mind sear works just as well for killing snakes and stopping people from tagging flags but when you’re solo, it doesn’t help you find the rogue that you know is sneaking up waiting for his moment.
  • Mana being a bit of an issue. Although not sure this is a real issue, at least in random battlegrounds because drinking is always an option if you’re careful.
  • The cooldown on dispels helping create an issue with mobility, something Priests have always had a bit of an issue with.

Which brings me to my Druid. A class that like the Priest I’ve played since vanilla and just like the Priest I have multiple Druids scattered across servers. I lost interest in the class when Tree of Life was introduced because it went against everything I loved about mine. I didn’t want to be stuck in one form, which all things considered was a bit odd since I’d spend hours chatting away to people sprawled in catform next to a brazier in Ironforge, purring at passer bys. I kept trying but I couldn’t bond with mine any more. The final straw was feral charge being moved out reach of Resto and my Druids, disillusioned and angry became feral and balance. I went back to Resto last season because playing the underdog is always interesting if not always fun. Tree form as a cool down, not a permanent form definitely helped too. I like being able to blend in, not being the healer instantly recognisable by anyone because they look like a slightly past its sell by day stick of broccoli.

In terms of off-spec, I’d much rather be Balance or kitty cat than Shadow which is a plus for the Druid. Also who doesn’t love pouncing people. But then am I looking back with rose tinted spectacles. The days of being able to tank 5 mans as Resto merely by changing your gear are long gone. As are the days of perhaps my Druid’s greatest triumph, holding the Blacksmith solo versus five or six well geared Horde through feral charge, cheetah and lots of healing whilst reinforcements rode in.

Perhaps it’s time to play something else entirely. After all, having healed for over seven years maybe it’s time to just dps and let someone else take care of the healing. Both the Druids and Priests have some fundamental flaws at their core, healing mushrooms and chakras for example. I’m not also hugely in tune with Blizzard’s movement towards pushing healers into dpsing because to me it’s for the wrong reasons. You should be dpsing to dps, not to gain mana or boost your healing. I suppose that’s partly why I’ve grown to prefer PvP healing than raid healing even though I still miss the buzz of downing bosses with people I generally like. In raids it becomes routine, you learn what the boss does and figure out the optimal strategy to counter that but in PvP that’s not possible because there are too many variables to consider.  Of course there is a rough order to your spell choice/the abilities you choose to counter the enemies choices but it pushes you to find uses for all your spell book. Whilst both are dances, in pvp especially encounters outside rated/arenas it’s like comparing “Strip the Willow” (PvE – formulaic unless someone screws up) done properly to a wedding disco where everyone is dancing to a totally different beat (random battlegrounds). Arena should be more like ballet but often ends up resembling the disco too. I suspect the over all theme here is that most people can’t dance. I actually got knocked unconscious once doing Strip the Willow because my partner had two left feet and far too much muscle. The fact that we were both drunk at the time was purely accidental.

Of course, the eventual end-game will be to level them all my characters but which one will come first, right now I’m really not sure and that is a source of great frustration.

If Haribo made Dragons..

They’d look like this:

So I’ve finally got around to finishing up my Netherwing reputation, it’s only taken me the better part of three expansions but I got there in the end. Pre-account wide mounts I wasn’t particularly interested in the jelly dragons because I didn’t see any of my characters ever using them. The idea of everything being shared changed my mind slightly because I can see my little Gnomish warrior flying about on one.

Despite doing it very slowly, I think the Netherwing grind is the perfect example of how non dungeon related reputation should work.

You start with a quest chain which introduces you to the faction and sets the scene. We learn about these poor mistreated dragons who are falling from the sky exhausted and progress from there. The chain then cumulates in what was a fairly tough group encounter, the demise of  Zuluhed the Whacked. I seem to remember helping an awful lot of people kill him in one of those little rooms off his courtyard.

Once you hit neutral, you have dailies to contend with but with each new level of reputation reached, you get more dailies to complete. There is also a good mix of quests from the Booterang which always makes me smile to the Deadliest Trap ever laid as well as one off quests mixed in. For example you have to make your own booterang before you can start throwing it at lazy peons which is a wonderful touch. Most importantly though I love the fact that you can supplement your daily rep gain by farming eggs as well as doing dailies. I wish all reputations followed the same pattern, offering you a choice of dailies or the ability to farm a specific item or a combination of both.

You also get disguises, okay it only works in a couple of specific zones in Shadowmoon Valley but disguises are always good. Then there are the trinkets which summon a whelping to fight with you, despite their bag space consumption, things like this are always useful to have.

Finally, hitting exalted isn’t the end. You get to have a meeting with the big bad guy, in this particular case Illidan who of course sees straight through our Orc disguise and is less than impressed. (Fascinating how when these bad guys project themselves places, they are always bigger than when you meet them face to face).

Although he does a great line in name calling,

This might become my go to response next time someone tries to explain away the fact that they ignored the healer/flag or anything else of crucial importance in PvP.

You get rescued by a Dragon pretending to be  Goblin which wraps up his “interest” in any Netherwing eggs you happen to find lying around nicely and flown off to bond with a sweetie coloured drake. The fact that you can then buy the other five drakes you didn’t pick is just icing on the lollipop.

It might be a reputation grind but it’s well paced enough to distract you with it’s various quests, items and rewards.

In which I attempt to get organised #2

Inspired by the amazingly organised Godmother, I’m attempting to prepare as best I can for MoP. However I’ve just acquired a full time job which at least for the beginning will require a fairly horrible commute leaving little time outside weekends for WoW. On top of that, in order to lose the commute we need to move which will eat into my weekends as well. In a terribly selfish sense, I’m actually starting to hope that MoP doesn’t launch until things are a bit less frantic here. Also if anyone can recommend any good audio books… I’d be very grateful. I’m going to be spending quite a bit of time sitting on a bus to and from work and I can’t read on public transport. Thirty seconds in and I’m nauseous, any longer and being physically sick is a real issue.

Everything in red has already been ticked off but I swear this list gets longer and longer all by itself. 

Dulcamara

1. Reach lv 75 so I can have a Shivarra.

2. Level Jewelcrafting

Ellora

1. Finish the Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms

2. Finish the Loremaster of Kalimdor

3. Level Inscriptions

4. Finish levelling Enchanting

Erinys

1. Collect the last few pets she needs to hit 125. It’s possible that the individual pet achievements will be disappearing come MoP and I’d like to have the Brilliant Kaliri to go with my Arrokoa disguise.  

2. Finish up the last 10k I need for exalted with the Netherwing.

3. Find the last 12 mounts I need for the mountain of mounts achievement.

  • 6 Nether Wings
  • Green Proto Drake
  • Swift Burgundy Wolf  (Argent Tournament).
  • Epic Flying Machine
  • Get the Darkmoon Faire strider mount.

4. Read “Sunwell – The Fall of Quel’Thalas”, “The Last Guardian” and “The Lich King Triumphant”, the last three books I need for the “Well Read” achievement.

5. Complete Silverpine and the Southern Barrens quest chains from the Horde perspective again.

6. Get an Oracle egg every three days until one of them hatches a mount.

7. Exalted with the Ebon Blade

8. Exalted with the Oracles

Lylobean

1. Finish up all the Argent Tournament achievements.

2. Get the Darkmoon Bear mount. Done.

3. Level Cooking and Fishing to the cap.

Sproutling

1. Level Archaeology to the cap.

2. Level Cooking and Fishing to the cap.

3. Pick up the Nesingwary Brush Burner wand for future transmogrification fun.

4. Get the last pet that I’m missing from the Darkmoon Faire (the tonk).

5. Exalted with the Frenzyheart

6. Acquire Pebble. Only six more dailies to go :(

Sprouts

This character was created with one aim in mind, reaching a high enough level to save Spot before the bombs start to fall on Theramore.

1. Save Spot! Given that the Theramore guards are guaranteed to not like a Goblin sneaking in and stealing their dog, I’m not 100 percent what level I’ll need to be. I’ll start trying around the 45 mark.

2. Grab a diseased hawk.

Teasel

1. Finish up all the Fireland Dailies/quest chains

2. Get exalted with the Timbermaw

3. Get her onto the Oracle egg stage of those quests. The more eggs I get per week, the higher my mount chance has to be.

Twiceshy

1. Hit a high enough level to tame Chromaggus.

2. Pick up a Brain Bug too. Either the one with the brain showing or this one.

3. Find and tame Zaricotl.

4. Get exalted with the Thorium Brotherhood (10 k rep to go)

5. Level Blacksmithing

Calantha

1. Finish farming the Oshu’gun Crystal Powder I need (in the region of 300ish) to grab the two Halaa mounts. I already have the tokens you get from pvp, it’s just the grind I’ve been putting off.

Snowflower

I also want to get ready for my Monk who I’ll be levelling along side since Mr Harpy since he wants to be a fotm reroller! Although I must admit levelling my beta monk has been a lot of fun so far.

1. Double check I’ve got all the heirlooms I could possibly need for both dps and healing specs.

2. 4 big bags for my inventory plus a couple of the bank.

3. Decide on professions and get any mats to level them lined up.

4. Decide on race, Panda versus Gnome versus Nightelf.

General non-character specific stuff.

1. Think of names for all my non combat pets. So far on the Beta I’ve named the following which leaves me with quite a few to go.

  • Orange Tabby =  Boris (after an old book of Peter and the Wolf I found. In it the cat was both orange and called Boris).
  • Feline Familiar = Pyewacket
  • Wind Rider Cub = George
  • Sinister Squashling = Ichabod (for obvious reasons).
  • Darkmoon Faire Balloon = Cecy (after Ray Bradbury’s short story “the April Witch”).

That only leaves me with 140 names to come up with between now and MoP.

2. Fill the bank with as much gold as possible.

3. Run Karazhan every reset on as many characters as possible until Attuman gets stick of seeing me and hands over his horse.

4. Make sure every character has the largest bags possible.

That turned out to be a bigger list then I expected. Hopefully this will work out better than my Pre-Cataclysm to do list where I managed to tick off a grand total of three things.

Random Battlegrounds: Blizzard’s own Stanford Experiment

Today I want to talk of many things, primarily the three Gs of PvP, gear, graveyard camping and griefing with a slight focus on community. The PvP community understandably gets a bad press a lot of the time and I want to look at why and perhaps more importantly what we can do about it.

First up,

Graveyard camping. Now Cynwise has started a great series about the maths and logic behind graveyard camping (WSG and AB) which you should definitely go and read if you haven’t already. Now in the games I play, I see three separate but common reasons for graveyard camping occur over and over again.

1. 40 man premades in AV/IoC which are designed purely for this purpose. The idea is to trap as many of the opposing team in one location and farm the reinforcements down that way. They let the other team take the mines as well as any other nodes to keep the reinforcements as high as possible and then set about farming their way to the Bloodthirsty title. Whilst these are beatable,

for the average random team there is nothing they can do but choose not to res, afk or get farmed for fifteen to twenty minutes.

2. The second type occurs primarily in the 10 or 15 mans, when one team is vastly stronger than the other. The first clash goes very one sided very fast and then the bulk of the winning team scenting blood flood towards the graveyard. Keeping them penned in or dead helps you win faster because that way they are demoralised, trapped and not beating up your flag carrier or running/destroying vehicles in SotA.

3. The third type like the first occurs primarily in the 40 mans. Perhaps the other team are doing a far better job of defending than you and so the only the way you can win is by pouring back into your own base, wiping them on the boss and then camping them at the graveyard.

Now I don’t particularly like graveyard camping in which the flag carrier sits in the camping pack nor the premades set up purely for that purpose but in general I’m fine with the concept. If the discrepancy between teams is so great that you’re being camped at your spawn point, then it’s likely you’re going to lose regardless. The opposing team showing pity and moving back thirty yards so you can try and scatter, having buffed up is not going to make much of a difference. In fact from my perspective it’s worse, I don’t want to be zerged by five well geared melee who pitied me first, I’d rather they just squished me like a bug underfoot without first pretending to offer me a chance when we all know the reality is that the only option is die or stop ressing.

I’m sure if you ask many people, graveyard camping would come under the heading of griefing but in PvP, that’s such a massive and inclusive category. I suspect if you asked fifty people for their opinions, you’d get a huge list of things, sure they would have commonalities like cheating and botting but griefing is in the eye of the beholder. For example I class people who saunter in into lev 85 wearing gear that’s two expansions out of date or do less dps than (I am a Disc Priest remember) to be griefing me and I’m sure the DK called “Your Mother” when you translated his name out of their native language felt griefed when I took out my Mummy issues by throwing him off the LM repeatedly whilst giggling at him. The same goes for the guy who hit 85 yesterday and is on the receiving end of a rant from some one in arena gear who is sick of losing. However when you delve a little deeper, the root of the vast majority of issues seems to be a common one. Frustration, anger at losing, tired of playing with randoms when the other side are premading, sick of having no healers when they have three. Rather than accepting that life isn’t unfair, some resort to cheating or botting and others yell, swear and name call.

In many regards, it’s as if Blizzard are setting us up to fail. Random battlegrounds are not just a stepping stone for many, they are something people with gear do for fun and there in lies the rub. I played six games last night, five of those were lost and won by gear and bots (the sixth was AV). When five of your team die to one Ret Paladin in the time it takes to levitate from the Lumber Mill to the Blacksmith, it causes issues. The same for the SotA in which we ended up camping the graveyard because it saved us having to chase vehicles. I wasn’t healing, I didn’t need to, I was staring at my screen pretending I was a proper dpser as these people with no resilience repeatedly splatted. Before the game even started, the result was clear. It didn’t matter how well I played in either of those games, my part didn’t matter and that is annoying. We won half but apart from the AV one side or the other ended up graveyard camping because the overall item level cap was just too big.

At the moment, random battlegrounds are the Azerothian equivalent of the Stanford Prison Experiment staring the geared as the Prison guards, the bullies and the aggressors and those without as the Prisoners. Even with the patience of a saint, it’s hard to keep your tongue when for the fifth or sixth time in a row you end up with people who haven’t gemmed, enchanted or bought any PvP gear at all. Who flop over dead the second someone glares at them and then blame you for not keeping them alive even though according to the combat log that Mage did 120k damage to them in 2 spell rotates. In that AB I referenced earlier, just like Prisoners in that experiment, they turned  on each other in an attempt to prove to the “guards” that they, unlike the others had value. Under pressure, the community devolves at a frightening rate earning us a horrible hateful reputation. In many cases, they don’t even have to be losing to attack others, even a slight setback can cause an outburst. The current battleground system with it’s random teams, premades and gear differences is set up to turn people against each other.

Now I normally try and play the peacekeeper, amongst my own team at any rate. I’m sure the Horde who see a pint sized green haired thing charging at them would find that hard to believe but having done my own fair share of bullying as a bitchy teenager, I grew up into a woman who full well understands the harm that words thrown out so casually can wreck on those they’re aimed at.  Last night however, I found myself close to breaking point. Words of contempt bubbling up like bile in my mouth, I wanted to tell them why we were losing, that no it wasn’t because the Alliance sucked, no it wasn’t because we were facing a German team, it was because we were infested by bots, lazy players and idiots. People who seemed incapable of taking responsibility for themselves, who were too mean to buy gems, enchants and the basic blue pvp set. Who would rather cheat or bot because it’s easier than spending your own time but who find it acceptable to waste the time of others. I ended that game, not only annoyed with them but mad at myself because I’d come close to slipping, to losing my temper.

Now I’m not laying the blame for the toxic community solely on Blizzard’s shoulders but there are a few quick fixes which  go a long way to removing some of the ignition points.

  • Come down on the botters and the cheaters like a ton of bricks. Ban their accounts permanently or at least remove all the honour/conquest points they’ve accrued plus the gear they’ve spent it on.  The punishment for this has to be something which makes doing these things pointless.
  • Improve the matchmaking system so that premades meet premades rather than randoms. I.e. if I queue as part of a 5 man premade, I’ll be matched against a team compromising another premade.
  • Ban the AV preformer, scripts shouldn’t be able to access the battleground queuing system. Not only would you stop teams coming together with Real ID specifically to farm randoms but this would also cut off  one avenue for the bots to exploit.
  • From the second arena season of an expansion onwards, divide the end-game random battlegrounds into two dynamic brackets based on gear. That way you have the first bracket where 100k health meets 100k and a second one where gear beats up gear.

It’s rare in winning games or even closely fought games for one team to turn on each other and this little list would help make all games that little bit more even. Of course we’d still have to deal with bad language, lev 1 whispers from the opposing faction and emotes but it would definitely be a step in the right direction to ironing out some of the issues.

As for what we can do, well next time you hit the level cap on a character please put a bit of effort into a character before setting foot in a battleground. For the rest of us, yes it’s frustrating but it’s hard to fight properly when you’re spamming chat with expletives. At the end of the day, we reap what we sow and one way or another, we’re all in this together. You might not say a word in battleground chat but that still makes you apart of the problem, just as you’re a part of the issue if you turn up naked or sit afk in a corner for the entire duration. Take advantage of that Stanford herd mentality, call the bullies and the bots and cheaters out and more often that not, the majority will support you.

Miscellaneous Monday

To borrow from the estimable Godmother, right now I’m mostly faffing.

In WoW

I’m mainly pvping and achievement chasing, with a side order of trade chat discussion. My Hunter has progressed a bit as well, spurred on by the idea of shared realm spaces and lots of other Hunters chasing “her” rare spawn pets and spirit beasts so the idea of me finishing 2012 in 2012 is still possible.

I’m also working on both my entries into JD’s Mogolympics and Neri’s “The Skills to Pay the Bills” July transmogrification competitions. If you haven’t already signed up/started thinking about your entries, what are you waiting for?

Gaming in General

I started a new game of Dragon Age: Origins, running my fifth mage through her Harrowing and yes, I am a total Harrowing expert by now but since “true tests never end”.. you never know.

This time the plan is to seduce Leliana but that’s been the plan before and Alistair with his goofy smile and Templar armour usually gets in the way.

I’m also probably the only person with a copy of Diablo III who still hasn’t finished it on any setting at all. My Monk is still working her way through Act 1 and whilst I found myself enjoying it for a period, I don’t have any great desire to pick it up and finish it.

I’d love fluttering moth shoulders as transmogrification option.

Books

This week I’m reading Kate Atkinson “Started Early, Took My Dog“, any book which uses Emily Dickinson to provide it’s title has to be worth reading right?

As well as “Das Leben der HochGräfin Gritta von Rattenzuhausbeiuns” mostly because I couldn’t resist the title. In English it translates to “The Life of High Countess Gritta von Ratsinourhouse” and so far I’m loving it.

Finally I’m reading “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” because my Mother told me not to, also I rather like sea monsters. So far Jane Austen has not risen from the grave to haunt me for this sin but never fear, the second it happens, I’ll blog about it assuming I don’t just die of fright.

Random Stuff off the Internet

I fell in love with this kitten creator a week or so ago and have spent many a happy hour “faffing” with it since. This is Mr Harpy’s Gnome Rogue reimagined as a kitten.

I also spend far too much time browsing The Graphics Fairy and the OBI Scrapbook Blog looking at old bookplates, labels and photographs.

My other favourite place has to be Project Gutenberg where you can lose yourself in things like this and this. I think it works a bit like my brain, I search for something completely random and then end up somewhere else, miles away. As  a plus point, some of the illustrations, especially in the children’s books are amazing. There are so many things out there that I never knew I wanted to read.

Back to the faffing!

 

I am what I am!

For her July Challenge, Ambermist over at Tastes like Battle Chicken wants to know something about us, the people behind the characters.

Now when I envisioned this post originally, it was going to be rather brief. I’m not great at talking about me, my Priests on the other hand, I can go on about forever and you should hear me on various literary periods I’m passionate about (oh, wait…you already have), but me… well that’s an area where I’m not 100 percent comfortable. I’ve tried in the past with a couple of blog posts and they were perhaps the hardest things I’ve ever written.

1# I like hats which is slightly strange because the vast majority of my characters never ever show helms.

Perhaps if I had awesome green Gnomish hair I’d like hats less outside Azeroth. Although you can’t tell in this picture, my  hair is a rather boring shade of very dark brown.

2# I find throwing things away a trifle hard. One day I might need those shocking orange buttons, my stress doll in the shape of a dairy cow or my giant cat mug with the chip in the rim, it might be unlikely but you never can tell.

3# Out of all the bits and bobs I’ve collected over the years there are a few things that I could never part with. These include Foxie, a rather battered toy fox who was presented to me when I was less than an hour old and my Grandfather’s books. I also have two coins, their patina is faded and you can barely make out their markings any more. To an outside observer they are worthless, just two more little objects to gather dust but to me they are irreplaceable. This is their story:

My great grandam–She was a witch.

Long though the shroud, it grows stitch by stitch
My great grandam — She was a witch.
Walter De La Mare

My Great Grandmother had a bit of a reputation in the village where she lived. People would go to her for love potions and when they were sick more often than not, it was her door they went to rather than going into town to see a Doctor. She used to laugh about she’d seen them all birth’d into the world and she’d see them wrapped in their shrouds too. In her eyes birth and death was women’s work, men were too weak to deal with all that blood.

She had this big glass jar in her sitting room and it used to fascinate us as children, packed as it was with coins. We’d never seen anyone put anything in but the number always seemed to be increasing. It was as if they were multiplying of their own accord. Now this particular summer, we (our happy band of wayward cousins) had been abandoned by our respective parents who were all off having a spa weekend at Baden Baden and left to fend for ourselves under the watchful eye of our Great Grandmother. The village children never wanted to play with us and would often stand at safe distance yelling things like “witch spawn” and “the devil’s gonna get you” whilst we climbed trees, fell in rivers and generally had a ball.

When we wandered back home, tired and hot that afternoon, my eldest cousin, our ringleader and chief decided that we all needed ice cream but there was one small snag. A quick rustle through our pockets didn’t produce anywhere close to enough money for us all to have one. His eyes then lit on the jar and it’s amazing replicating coins. Quashing our doubts as he was the eldest and clearly knew best, he opened the lid and poured a handful of money into his hand. As the light caught those coins, for a brief second they looked molten and I almost expected him to yelp in pain. Shaking my head, trying to suppress my fears, I followed them outside because even though I was scared, I still wanted an ice cream. One step, two steps and my eldest cousin tripped and fell, cutting his leg rather badly on the side of the path. As the blood poured down his leg we panicked. Now it might be coincidence, we were definitely clumsy children but to our superstitious minds back then it was definitely cause and effect. The jar was clearly cursed in some way and the village children were obviously right and our Great Grandmother was a witch.

We never got those ice creams. In fact we went as far as to block out that jar from our collective consciousnesses. We never told anyone what happened, we said he fell out of  a tree, something which happened so often as to be believable. We’d avoid being in the same room as the jar and if we had to, we’d fight over chairs which didn’t have a direct line of sight to it. Then one day, it was winter and there was snow everywhere, we were summoned. All of us, the whole bloodline ordered to my Great Grandmother’s house. We were outside building snow monsters and throwing snowballs with stones in them at the locals (I know, I know.. but they threw my second best doll on a garden bonfire and said that one day they’d burn me too) when my Mother popped her head around the door and said we had to come in. Fear flashed amongst us and with the self absorption of youth, we wondered if she knew we taken the coins, whether putting them back wasn’t enough. I thought my heart was going to explode when we saw that jar, not in it’s usual place but sitting on the table.

There was silence, which was unusual in any family gathering and then my Great Grandmother spoke. She talked of death, of dying and of the ferryman who carries the dead safely over the river. She talked of coins, of payment and debts that must be honoured. She told us that whatever we chose to believe as adults, that we should always remember where we came from. Then she told us to put our hand in the jar and pick two coins, two coins to keep safe so that when death comes as he always does, our fare is paid. I remember looking at my father, an engineer, a man who made his career in the military, thinking he’d be laughing, that I wouldn’t have to do it but his face was as a stone. I was so sure that something would grab me, that a broken mess of bone and sinew would reach for me as I grabbed the first two coins I could. It didn’t but I still have those coins and I’ll have them until the day I die.

I’m not sure what I believe these days, the rational side, the side I inherited from my father along with his eyes fights regularly with the other side, the part of me which sees things in shadows, which still trusts a little in her Great Grandmother’s Gods but I suppose that’s just a part of being human.

4# This is my favourite colour.

That beautiful sea green shade which always makes me think of margaritas, long hot days and the taste of salt on your lips.

Something Wicked this way comes: Magatha and Macbeth

This post was inspired by many things, by my own post on the Women of Warcraft through a watery lens of Victorian Literature, by Anne Stickney’s recent WoW Insider post, by Red Cow Rise’s post about the lack of Women in the Panderian start zone and finally by a random snippet of conversion I happened to over hear in trade chat. Magatha Grimtotem, three dimensional female character or a paper villain, a coward, a prop to further the stories of the men who surround her? Trade Chat was dismissive, calling her a pathetic cow amongst other things too impolite to print, although given the usual quality of trade chat (at least on my server) … this was still an improvement  on the normal conversions.

Wind Serpents, Forsaken and Strange Tablets

Our first introduction to Magatha came in classic WoW where she was a fixture in Thunderbluff handing out quests. Right from the start it was made clear that she was a delightful villain with her own agenda, one who glorifies in taking the opposing but “correct” view point to many of her fellow Taurens. Her use of her own summoned wind serpent to try and scare Cairne and perhaps to turn his supporters against him is inspired as is of course her use of us (questers) as dupes, both to spread the arrival of this troubling new omen,

I fear she may be stalking Cairne Bloodhoof; too much Tauren lore has changed, and I fear this has angered Arikara. Move quickly before all is lost, 

and then to help her deal with this “threat” to Cairne. She couldn’t be seen to either announce the creature nor to be directly involved with it, in case it created suspicions in the minds of those already suspicious of her loyalty so she came up with a perfect plan. One that even included helping to destroy said creature to make her look blameless.

In fact her strategy could be summed up perfectly by the advice Lady Macbeth offers her husband,

Your face, my thane, is as a book where men
May read strange matters: – to beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eyes,
Your hand, your tongue: look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under’t, (Act 1, scene V)

and Magatha even nailed the serpent bit perfectly.

Her encouragement and aid to the Forsaken also made her stand out. For example when the Goblins were destroying the forests of Stonetalon, it’s the Forsaken in the Pools of Vision that Magatha sends you to.

But I fear that to heal the land, we must first remove the disease upon it. Is it not fortunate, then, that the Forsaken are allied with us? They know much of disease.

Her creative solution to the problem is to get the Forsaken to poison those pesky Goblins. Note again that whilst she sent you to talk to the Forsaken, her hands remain clean of anything which might follow. All she did was suggest you talk to a nice Forsaken Lady. This is a pattern which keeps emerging, Magatha prefers getting other, more expendable people to do her actual dirty work. Although  surely that’s just the sign of a good leader, one who intends making old bones.

Finally, there was the Tablet of Beth’Amana, that strange tablet Magatha happened to really want from Azshara. Why would the Elder Crone want something written by one of the Highborne’s most influential Alchemists, a wizard who it is claimed could transmute metals amongst other things.  It makes you wonder just what came under the heading of “other things”.

“A drum, A drum…”

When I was at University, I had the pleasure of watching two people act out Macbeth and that is how I see Magatha, especially in The Shattering, she’s Lady Macbeth, Macbeth himself and of course the Three Witches all rolled into one glorious character. Switching from role to role as the scenes require, first the witch planting poisonous seeds in fertile ground, then the confidant, the wife/the mother, making sure everything goes to plan and finally playing Macbeth attempting to secure what she bought in bloodshed.

It’s her words softly spoken into Garrosh’s emotional ears which lay the ground work. She picks her moment perfectly, Garrosh, like Macbeth has returned from a great and successful campaign when he’s waylaid by his very own Crone. Both of them have new and shiny titles,

I have heard you called the Hero of Northrend, and I think that an apt title (Pg 47 of the Shattering, Thrall to Garrosh)

and Macbeth is newly called Thane of Cawdor on top of his own existing title yet both have a hunger for more. Magatha pushes the right buttons, mentioning first Garrosh’s father and then his own deeds claiming to be impressed by them, knowing that the boy inside Garrosh will fall for her flattery, especially in the light of his “treatment” by Cairne and Thrall. Just like the Three Witches, Magatha influences the events which follow. Her title too, “The Elder Crone” plays into this idea of her as a witch, a wise woman with the answer to everything, even the question not yet asked. Even those that don’t trust her, respect her abilities and her opinions.

Then later, she reinforces what has already been said, making sure Garrosh “does the right thing”. She doesn’t want his weakness getting in the way. It’s not hard to imagine Lady Macbeth’s words coming from Magatha’s mouth.

That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;

And chastise with the valour of my tongue

Of course she is helped by Garrosh’s personality and his fear of looking stupid. He doesn’t want to question her motives because that might highlight his own lack of knowledge. He accepts because she has offered him a prize, already mentioned, the support of her clan, her tribe and to bring the Grimtotem to heel, to accomplish something so quickly that both Thrall and Cairne never managed, of course he’s going to leap at the chance.

Her need then to dispose of Baine also harks back to Macbeth, just like him she needs to rid the world of anyone who might contest her claim. Macbeth needs to remove Banquo because his prophecy proved true, so might Banquo’s which would mean Macbeth murdered for nothing and Magatha can’t let Baine live for the same reason. What’s the point of going to all this trouble of removing one obstacle to your’s hearts desire if you don’t clear the path completely, if you leave their offspring behind for your enemies to unite behind. Unfortunately for Magatha, you just can’t trust anyone these days and her efforts fail.

Their downfalls have marked similarities too. Both Magatha and Macbeth are undone by what could be classed as their own dominion. As King of Scotland, regardless of how he came to the crown, it was his own forests which turned on him. The land itself rebelling against a traitor and a murderer is a powerful symbolic moment even if those trees move because there is an army of angry men beneath them. Magatha is a powerful Shaman and yet during the attack on Thunderbluff, storm clouds shield the zeppelins from prying eyes until it’s too late.

It emerged from it’s cover, as garishly colored as the concealing thundercloud had been subdued, an airborne ship with a bright purple balloon hovering over it. (The Shattering, pg 282)

Both Macbeth and Magatha “win” through deceit and trickery, so it’s only fitting I suppose that both lose the same way. The true size of avenging forces hidden by a moving forest on the one hand and by stormclouds on the other. Macduff lost a wife and his children to Macbeth’s hand and Baine lost a father so perhaps it’s not surprising how similar their words are to the respective objects of their wrath.

Then yield thee, coward,

And live to be the show and gaze o’ the time:
We’ll have thee, as our rarer monsters are,
Painted upon a pole, and underwrit,
Here may you see the tyrant. (Act V, Scene VIII)

Can be easily compared to,

Baine Bloodhoof was crouched over her, holding the peculiar weapon high. “Yield!” he cried. “Yield, murderess and traitor!”. (The Shattering, pg 286)

Coward, traitor, tyrant and murderer, all four words could be applied both Magatha and Macbeth. It doesn’t matter what they did before, the great warrior and the powerful shaman were both reduced to nothingness in the eyes of those passing judgement upon them.

The Doomstone 

We next encounter her in the Thousand Needles, where it seems that she’s slipped away from her exile in Stonetalon Mountains. Somehow her capture by the Twilight Cultists seems a bit off, even with her totems broken you have to question if she got captured because that happened to suit her purpose, not because a bunch of fairly inept “we want to bring about the end of the world” cultists managed to overpower her. That perhaps her ultimate aim was always to get her hands on the Doomstone using us and the Cultists, just like she used Garrosh.

“At the core of Animus is an artifact known as the Doomstone. One of its properties is an ability to absorb a great deal of energy.”

I wonder if the tablet of Beth’Amara and the Doomstone are linked in anyway. It certainly sounds like something a Highborne might cook up. Perhaps the tablet either described the creation of such an artefact or included a map to it’s last location. There are a lot of Highborne ruins littering Stonetalon Mountains and who knows what they might have left behind.

So what’s next for Magatha?

I think we can be assured of one thing, she will be back, it’s in her nature. She has reasons to hate both Garrosh and Baine but I imagine that she of all people understands the benefit of revenge as dish served cold.

Could the Doomstone be used to help destroy Theramore? A case of one (Doom)stone, two birds perhaps. We know from the excerpt from the forthcoming Jaina book (Tides of War) that the Focusing Iris is likely to play a part but could the two items be used together to create a very nasty weapon? When we first encounter the Doomstone, the Cultists were trying to overload it using Animus but since we killed him, anyone wanting to unleash the Doomstone might have to find another source and the Focusing Iris would fit that brief perfectly as it “pull[s] arcane magic from Azeroth’s ley lines”. Magatha also has every reason to hate Jaina and her city, after all, she gave Baine sanctuary from Magatha’s malice and troops from Theramore have been a constant thorn in the side of the Marsh’s Grimtotems.

She might manipulate them all, offering the Doomstone could help her regain some favour with Garrosh and the rest of the Horde but Garrosh doesn’t seem the type for second chances. It might even be more underhand, perhaps just like the Queen in Snow White, maybe an old Crone or a passing pretty young Orc might offer Garrosh aid with his war plans, with the Doomstone acting as a poisoned apple. All Magatha would have to do is sit back and watch the chaos unfold, potentially getting her revenge on Garrosh, Baine and Jaina as the tides of war spill across Azeroth once more.

There are similarities too between Magatha and Fandral Staghelm. For much of vanilla they were both the proverbial thorns in the side of their respective faction leaders so perhaps Magatha will follow in his footsteps and become a raid boss. Certainly her last comment to us, the players indicates that as a potential possibility:

For rendering me faithful service, I grant you your life. Take it and be gone from my sight. Let your people know of all that has transpired.

And <name>, if we ever cross paths again, you will die.

If she does “trick” Garrosh once again, seeing her as a raid boss in a fall of Orgrimmar type raid would make sense, although I think she’d be wasted that way. I’d like to see her continue to make plans and plot away, WoW needs more characters like her. There is a shortage of female Tauren raid bosses though so perhaps she should become one.

Finally, a little while ago Matty at Sugar and Blood asked this question:

“Why can’t the Queen “win” because she’s smart, not because she’s evil?”

I think this sums up why Magatha is so important to WoW, she does win because she’s smarter than the rest, okay, she’s temporarily having a bit of a setback but they happen to best people. She’s definitely ruthless but she stands in stark contrast to a lot her male counterparts in both her patience and in her planning. Would Garrosh or Varian have waited and watched for the perfect moment to strike? Given their track records to date, I’d say not. Even Cairne managed to lose his temper with Garrosh in a relatively short period time. I suppose I like Magatha because unlike most female baddies, she’s not driven by emotions. She doesn’t scream or shout or whine, she just does and that’s rather refreshing.

Is she evil? Well taken at face value what has she actually done? Her husband died in a climbing accident, but that could have more to do with the unsuitability of hooves for climbing rock faces than anything else (They called it Head-Smashed in Buffalo Jump, not “Buffalo gracefully skipping down cliff” for a reason). If we look at some of the other men of the Grimtotem tribe we could also argue that if she did do it, well then “he had it coming” (writing this post left me with a definite desire to do a Magatha Grimtotem version of both that song and also the old classic, “50 ways to kill your lover”). She assisted in Caine’s demise for sure, but we have to remember it was a “fight to the death”. One of them was going to die regardless, Magatha merely ensured that “her Warchief” prevailed. Pragmatic yes, practical yes, but evil?

The attack on Thunderbluff and the other Tauren encampments were messy sure but there are distinct similarities between that and Varian’s attack on Ironforge, both were ruthless and show a clear lack of regard for life. Now yes, Varian was attempting to rescue his son but Magatha too was trying to ensure the best for her “family” (and her). What’s right or wrong is often determined purely by the winners and this time, Magatha ended up on the wrong side of the line. In many ways she’s the archtypical Matriarch, just like my own Grandmamma. All that matters is blood and there are no lines that she wouldn’t cross for her own because the “other” are nothing but vermin in her eyes.

She doesn’t want to end the World, where’s the fun in that and she doesn’t want to turn everyone into mindless monsters which makes her fairly mild in comparison to some of the really malignant creatures Azeroth is inhabited by. If evil in WoW is defined simply by your body count, then by that definition we’re all evil, there is no shade of grey and if not, then Magatha might err on the murky side but most of her choices can be understood and justified if even you don’t support them.

A world at war needs it’s Elder Crones.

If they love you, they’ll kill Demons for you: A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The shared topic this week is

What is the nicest thing another player has ever done for you in-game?

courtesy of Frinka of Warcraft Street.

Immediately one thing stood out but first you need to know the background. In November 2005 I was in a 40 man raiding guild which was ripping itself apart from the inside. Founded on very open terms with no GM and lots of Officers by a bunch of escapees from an ultra strict dictatorship guild (when the GM accuses your boyfriend of stealing you away from him on the realm forums…. you know you made the right choice), we were struggling to get along. My now husband was our Raid Leader and there were whispers (behind his back of course) of a “cult of personality” and “brain washing” to explain away why the majority of the guild looked up to him and not the rest of the Officers. I was caught in the middle as both our Priest Class leader and the girlfriend of the RL, people would whisper me complaining about the other Officers as well as the other Officers whispering bitching about my partner. All in all, at times I felt like just walking way, I was sick and tired of dealing with tantrums, whines and just general obnoxious behaviour. It really felt like I was running a kindergarten rather than helping lead a raiding guild. We had two tanks who both needed their hand holding half the time, one who famously sat down on Onxyia and just gave up and one who deleted his gear regularly, who usually had to be talked down by me.

This night in particular we were working on Majordomo and despite the usual hiccups and whines, we managed to defeat him. Now we were the fourth guild on the server to do so but apart from the server first guild who got an Eye on their first kill, the server seemed to cursed to only get the Leaf so we were both surprised and pleased (at least those of us who weren’t hunters) to see the Eye of Divinity gleaming away at the bottom of the chest. No one contested it going to me but that’s where the next snag arose. The server’s top guild had a monopoly on Kazzak as well as an army of priests, there was no way I could get the Eye of Shadow that way. I was just going to have to chance my luck in Winterspring versus those nasty elite demons.

So after a quick pull on Ragnaros to get a feel for him, a group of us headed off to Winterspring. It was already late, past midnight and most people had both families and jobs in the morning. The clock chimed 1, 2, 3 and still we were at it with no luck. Our tank went to bed, as did our hunter and the rest of the dps which considering that they had to be up in the morning was fair enough. That left four of us, my now husband on his resto druid, me on my priest and two of my fellow priests. Four healers versus those fairly nasty elites. We rooted and we smited our way around in circles, killing mob after mob and getting nothing. Four in the morning came and went, four thirty.. five am and had anyone been watching they would have seen four forlorn figures running around killing demons. Someone said those immortal words “just one more” and dotted a Felguard. We killed it and there it was.. my Eye of Shadow. The rest is a blur, hearthstoning, flying to the Plaguelands and completing the quest.

As it turned out, I was the second Priest on the server to compete my staff and when that guild finally burnt itself out and a bunch of us were “headhunted” by the server’s top guild, I was able to repay one of those priests who spent all night farming demons with by gifting them an Eye of Shadow from our guild bank. They are the reason that my Benediction is so important to me, sure it’s great to have because you can’t get it any more but their efforts and their time means far more to me than a sparkly staff.

If you’re reading this and you know who you are, <3.

Transmogolympics: Go Kirin Tor!

J D is holding another interesting Transmogrification competition, this time with an Olympic flavour. The categories are as follows:

  • Archery – Build an outfit around your favourite bow.
  • Cycling – Build a biker outfit to compliment the Chopper.  It must be either Leather or Mail.
  • Discus – Build an outfit around one of the shield skins seen here
  • Equestrian – Build an outfit to compliment one of the horse mounts in the game.  (Faction limitations apply, so no Orcs on a Stormwind pony)
  • Fencing – Time for some swordplay.  Build your best outfit around the 1h sword of your choice.
  • Javelin – Build an outfit around the polearm of your choice.
  • Hammer Throw – Build an outfit around your favourite two-handed hammer.
  • Wrestling – We’re going to deviate from olympic wrestling and go to the sports entertainment aspect instead.  Using one of the “championship” belts, design your own Azerothian pro wrestler.  Think of the oversized belts, such as the Firemend Cinch.
  • Freestyle – Build your own NPC.

However as with every competition, everyone needed a faction (or country) to represent and these are drawn at random. I drew the flag of the Kirin Tor and will be endeavouring to do the Mages proud. A list of whom everyone else is representing can be found here. There is also room for lots more people to join in the fun, so come on, sign up today.

Here is Sprout, my standard bearer, all dressed up like she’s about to sneak into one of those secret Mage only parties they throw in the Purple Parlour giving it laldy* for the Kirin Tor. I am actually tempted to farm this and hang out in Dalaran talking to Bitty Frostflinger

.

The other categories won’t be shown here as they will be submitted to the judges anonymously.

*There are two Scots slang words I happen to like a lot, Laldy which mostly means to do something with gusto, to put a lot of effort in and Peely-wally which is one of my best friend’s favourite all time words and means to look off-colour, to be pale.

A Cenarion Hatchling and a Happy Ending

Three weeks ago Euphyley of WoW Rare Spawns celebrated her blog’s first anniversary by holding a contest. She wanted to know what our favourite rares were and why. For me it was an easy choice, Humar the Pride Lord sprang straight to mind and the story I wrote about him can be found here and all the other entries can be found here. Last week, Euph emailed me to say I’d won and to ask what pet I would like which was another easy choice as I fell in love with first the Hippogryph Hatchling and then his cousin the Cenarion Hatchling many moons ago.

However it turns out Blizzard frown on people from one region buying gifts for those in another, no doubt due to pesky financial laws. So I just want to say a huge thank you to Euphyley who refused to give up, despite already having purchased a US pet that I couldn’t use. Who persevered and ended up sending the money via Pay Pal so I could get my Cenarion Hatchling. There will be no prizes for guessing said Hatchling’s name come MoP.

Once more with feeling:

THANK YOU

Sprout in her summer clothes with her new friend

Twiceshy, the cat which started it all and the Cenarion Hatchling watching over Stormwind

In closing, thank you again <3

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