“I will be worthy of it!”

This is personal and has very little do to with WoW so feel free not to read.

My Grandmama was admitted to hospital last night, jaundiced and with some sort of infection. To say I’m scared is an understatement, despite the chaos and constant upheaval that was my childhood, my Grandmama was always there to anchor me. I tend to forget that she’s ninety now and frail, skin like crumbled paper and bones so light, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine her flying, floating through the sky, cackling with glee. Instead when I look at her, I see the woman she was when I was growing up. She taught me that the strongest steel is forged in the hottest fires, that regardless of what life throws at you, you pick yourself up and keep going. I know that the inevitable will come, that there is no turning back time and that one day, probably quite soon, I’m going to have stand up and give her eulogy. Mixing the fun, the picnics with ginger beer and sliding down banisters on cross channel ferries eyed disapprovingly by passer-bys with her struggle with blindness and deafness, with the fact that she has buried two husbands, a brother, a sister and a son.

I’ve always hated change, partly I think because my parents dragged me from pillar to post across Europe as a little girl and partly too because it makes me think of death. Of funerals and holes dug in stony ground, of that sickly scent of lilies and rotting wet leaves (it always rains at funerals). As soon as I made some friends, got settled into school, we were off again so I’d have to begin the cycle all over again. This was the pattern, inter-spaced with hours spent in churchyards watching as what was once a loved one was locked in a box and buried beneath the earth. “Home”, which meant first my Great-Grandmother’s and then my Grandmama’s was the only constant I knew, everything else was boxes, suitcases and learning to live somewhere new all over again. As an adult I like my life to be ordered and controlled, I like to know my schedule in advance and I hate surprises. Then last night I found out about my Grandmama before I logged properly into WoW post patch and somehow it felt like my world was rocking on it’s axis. I thought that I’d hate the game, the shared achievements, the simplified talents and the new travel form. As it turns out, I was wrong about most of it (sorry, not a stag fan) and now, whilst I’m waiting for the phone to ring, I’m comforting myself with my Great Grandmother’s words uttered before she died, rolling her coins for the ferryman over and over in my hand. I’m seeking comfort in something the rational side of my brain knows to be a lie but somehow, the ways of my childhood give me strength.

Earlier tonight, I found myself running through the Greatmother quest line in Mulgore.

Perhaps not the best choice in the circumstances but somehow I just ended up there and I know that both my Great Grandmother and my Grandmama would approve. Whether we like it or not, the world keeps turning and when that day comes, my final gift to the woman who helped me find my feet in this rocky world will be to honour her memory.

There lies a nameless strength in this –
I will be worthy of it.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

 

Screenshot Saturday – A farewell to Theramore

Two factions, both alike in dignity,
In fair Theramore, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.

With apologises to Mr Shakespeare but I’m sure he’d understand

Theramore as it currently exists is one of my favourite cities, a place which holds many happy memories for me. From my first and rather pathetic foray into dubious RP with long forgotten Nightelves in the Inn to pvp on the long and twisting road through the marshes. Disembarking on the dock having sailed from the Wetlands to take on a dragon in her lair and sitting fishing on the pier watching the sun sink behind the horizon, painting the waves pink in it’s wake, so many things spring to mind when I think of Theramore.

The scene is set and the players assembled. Soon the Marsh will never be the same again.

We all scream for icecream: A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The shared topic this weekend is all about icecream,

It would not be uncommon to hear about the initial release of World of Warcraft as Vanilla or Classic. In terms of ice cream or gelato (which is my preference), Vanilla was once considered the most popular flavour of it’s time. So if Vanilla represents Classic WoW, what flavours could represent the following expansions?

Suggested by Cymre.

I struggled a bit with this, going backwards and forwards through the freezer section trying to make up my mind.

The Burning Crusade –  Rocky Road Icecream

When we arrive in the Outlands, it’s most definitely a rocky road through Hellfire and onwards into the other zones. Everything is crumbling just like the crushed biscuits and there are definite soft and gooey spots to represent the marshmallows, the Black Temple for example was a favourite of mine. Unfortunately, just as with Rocky Road the icecream, there are also glacé cherries like Lady Vash’j, the bits you want to avoid but can’t really.

The Wrath of the Lich King - Honey Lavender Icecream

Slightly sickly with a touch of purple is how I’d best characterise Wrath. Whilst Ulduar and the revision of Naxxamas were fine, as is honey lavender icecream at least for the first few mouthfuls, as the expansion wore on, the vomit inducing stickiness increased. By the time Cataclysm rolled around, I suspect most of us were happy to wash our mouths out with something new.

 

Cataclysm - Lemon Icecream

With a hint of sourness but a refreshing after taste, Cataclysm cleansed the palate from the aftermath of Wrath (and the tournament shenanigans in particular). It might not have been the most popular expansion yet but it brought a revamp to Azeroth which was needed.

Mists of Pandaria - Margarita Icecream

Whilst we were in San Miguel de Allende, I had the most amazing Margarita icecream. There was just a bite of tequila on your tongue before it softened into the taste of lime and sugar. I could have eaten the entire tub it was so beautiful and standing on the cusp of MoP, that’s how I see the forthcoming expansion. It had that same freshness, that same excitement on the tastebuds and that same sense of wonder I feel now as I prepare to step into Pandaria for the first time (beta not withstanding).

Miscellaneous Monday

Today is my first day at my new job so I’m slightly terrified and rather distracted, thus this is a miscellanea of the various things I’ve been working on in the last few weeks.

Warcraft

In WoW, I’m steadily crossing things off my to do list. I’m finally exalted with the Netherwing, Puppy dog people, the Darkmoon Faire and the Timbermaw. The gold is pouring in nicely, certainly enough for purchasing all shinies come MoP and in fact, if the expansion hit tomorrow I could live with my current progress. I’ve even got a rough plan of what I’m going to do once Pandaria opens up.

I also got Navispammed!

New additions to my reading list

Competitions

You have until friday to enter Neri’s August  transmogrification contest. The theme this month is Faction Pride so go go go!

Other games

Botanticula

I got sucked into this by Eva from Image Heavy who did a blog post highlighting just how beautiful this game is. Then I played their free demo on the website and fell head over heels. There is even Jack O’Lanterns….

I still have no idea what I’m meant to be doing but there is something therapeutic about running around clicking on leaves.

I also got a new phone and have managed to get pulled into the dangerous world of game apps. Who would have thought that breeding dragons or running a virtual bakery could be such fun.

After watching the Olympic show jumping, I really want to get back into riding but need to wait until our move is complete before finding a suitable stables, therefore I’m also playing MyHorse (my user name is Erinys if anyone else is playing).

Random Stuff on the Internet

As my new job involves a 20 minute daily bus journey and I can’t read on the bus, I’ve also been looking around for audio books. One of my new favourite things is now Libri Vox which proves free audio books of things which are in the public domain. It’s a bit hit and miss as to whether you like the voice of the person reading each book, but so far I’ve listened to Washington Irving’s the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I’m currently putting Charles Dicken’s Little Dorrit on my phone which at a whopping 70 hours should last a while.

I’ve also been playing with my old friend, Wordle again. There is something addictive about it and I love the fact that both flowers and carrots made it in.

Outside games

I’ve been taking a bit of an advantage of the weather to sunbathe and generally relax.

The Infested Bear Cub: The most distressing Mini Pet in-game

When I ride through Hillsbrad I give those bears with the spider eggs on their back a wide berth because I have this visceral moment of fear whenever I set eyes on them. However this little cub inspires another sort of reaction.

I’m left wondering why my heal pet button doesn’t cleanse those evil eggs off his little back.

He and his similarly effected brothers and sisters can be found with their parents running around between the mine and the Sludge fields.

The Lost World: Pandaria’s Cinematic

Yep this is yet another post about the Panda cinematic but I also want to touch on my feelings about the lack of a “big Bad”. I know Blizzard have taken quite a bit of flack over that decision, but I feel its the right one for a number of reasons. When we curl up with a murder story, we don’t know the villain from page 1, perhaps by the half way mark we have a good idea who did it but it’s rarely spelt out until the last few pages. In many regards WoW functions in the same fashion as a book, it’s a never ending story, each patch a chapter which unfolds as we play it.

Knowing the destination from the start removes some of the fun from the journey as well making little sense from a literal perspective. Why in Wrath for example did we waste time and lives fighting Old Gods and taking part in a tournament of all things when we could have just knocked on the door of Icecrown Citadel. Perhaps we weren’t strong enough to take him then but we never tried, we just got derailed by the plot.

I’d like to think that Pandaria is an expansion of storytelling, an expansion where the focus is more on why people do things we class as “evil” rather than pulling out the old generic excuse that something external corrupted our heroes. I hesitated in quoting Hannah Arendt here but her comment about the “banality of evil” is I believe relevant here at least a topic of debate. The Horde and the Alliance have been at war so long, with each other and against outside forces that some of those negative emotions are bound to have seeped in. Mass murder, torture and burning villages have the bread and butter of our “heroes” and so surely the line has been repeatedly crossed. Do we know what’s worth fighting for any more or has that all been lost in the bloodshed which has become a way of life.

Then we also have the Sha to contend with, manifestations of negative emotions, they stalk Pandaria taking strength from the anger and hatred we brought with us. From the Temple of the Jade Serpent we know that they can amplify our feelings, bringing us to the point of destruction and thus Pandaria could be very dangerous for some of our Heroes. It will be an interesting path to walk. Is it as exciting as knowing that the huge dragon, demon or guy with a very big sword who just committed some atrocity in the opening cinematic will eventually die to our swords, perhaps not but as a study into human nature it could potentially be far more interesting as we witness the twists and turns of the plot.

Now when I watched the cinematic two thoughts twisted through my brain, the first, wonderfully covered by Apple Cider was the lack of any female characters and the second was a sense of deja vu. Some feeling of familiarity that took me a while to chase back to it’s source. When I was a little girl I loved reading stories of adventure and one of my favourites was “The Lost World“, I suppose I secretly hoped that somewhere hidden from sight, dinosaurs still roamed the earth just waiting for us to discover them.

He had the face and beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid, the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue, spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-gray under great black tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression of the notorious Professor Challenger (from the Lost World).

Both Admiral Taylor and General Nazgrim fit that mould, where men and orcs are manly, tough and happy to run around bare chested. I’ll also admit to a slightly dubious thought involving impalement and Admiral Taylor’s very large pole but I’m going to blame that on this. In many regards I like the fact that Blizzard have stayed consistent, reusing familiar characters (Nazgrim has been with us since Northrend and Taylor at least since Vashj’ir). These are NPCs we’ve already fought along side and whilst I would have loved to see a female Pandarian beat them to a pulp, I think that’s a good start to what has the potential to be a wonderful adventure complete with monsters and amazing scenary.

My guilty secret: Pet Battles and Me.

I have a confession to make.

I hate pet battles.

I want to like them, I really do. I’ve been a pet collector in-game right from the very start. I sold the clothes off my Night elf’s back to buy my first pet, a bombay cat and ever since then I’ve run dungeons, quested and grinded my way to various pets. I’ve bought them from the pet store and the auction house. I’ve even jousted just for pets but the truth is, pet battles leave me cold.

I love the detail which has gone into the flavour text for each pet.

I’m in awe of the huge scope of both pet families and models which will become available to us and I already have a sort of wish-list in my head. I wanted quite a few of the new pets for years and now we’re finally going to be able to get them. In fact the only way they could improve in that regard is if they made a mini harpy (which is clearly a huge oversight on Blizzard’s part). In fact I look at the different spells available to the pets, to the love and attention shown to them and then I look at my own class. At the clunkiness of Chakras, Power word: Solace and Holy Nova requiring a glyph slot and I feel slightly annoyed.

Then there is the actual battling itself. In the average battleground, Sprout uses over forty five different buttons/binds on vud’ho. Now that includes both defensive and offensive spells, drinks, racials, trinkets, nets, pots and cooldowns and would be much higher if I included her party favours for graveyard camping. In the pet battles, each pet has three abilities and as you level, each of those three slots ends up with a choice of two abilities to fill it. So you have a stunning choice of 6 abilities per pet but you can only use three at once. To make matters worse, at least from my perspective, the only interaction I have is choosing which pets and which of the few abilities to use. There is no equivalent of the hit cap, instead I’m a 100 percent at the mercy of RNG which can be frustrating to say the least. I suppose I’m so used to being able to improve my performance through the use of addons, keybinds, talents, enchants, gear and consumables that paring everything down seems unchallenging and almost boring. Sure you can cherry pick your team but to me at least that’s another issue. I have certain favourite pets, these aren’t particularly special creatures but they have meaning to me. They are the ones that ideally I would want to use in the pet battles but it’s hard to ignore the fact that other pets would have a higher success rate, perhaps due to the whole rock, paper, scissors effect or simply because they have better stats. So far I’ve just been steam rolling my way to victory with a suboptimal team but I’m not sure I can do that all the way.

Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother. I’d much prefer it if there wasn’t a cap on the number of pets we are allowed. 500 seems like a decent number until you start doing the maths.

Now of course there are some plus points, seeing a horde of rats run at an unsuspecting critter is always good for a smile plus it reminds me of the many day trips to Hamelin I had to go on as a child. I’m hugely in favour of anything which gets people out of cities and into the world (unless of course they’re the jerks who like to follow people around trying to kill the critters people are trying to battle). I imagine that just like with Archaeology the gankers will be out in force for the first few months of the expansion.

Will I partake, yes. I at least want to collect my very own baby Vermling but I don’t see myself going beyond that point. I’ll pick up the various pet models that I like along the way, oddly enough, most of these despite being labelled “tiny” are bigger than my Gnome but I miss the complexity of playing my actual characters. I also don’t like the anonymity of the whole system. What’s the point of keeping score without recording losses? In a way I find it a bit insulting that Blizzard are basically implying that the whole pet collecting community can’t take competitive combat. In my experience at least, knowing who just flattened you can go a long way into pushing you to improve, something we should all be striving for. WoW is a multi-player game in which we compete on so many levels, why should this be exempt?


In short, pet battling feels a bit like a single player Strand of the Ancient, only the demolishers have cute little faces.

Why I beta test: A Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The shared topic over at Blog Azeroth this week is:

Are you playing the MoP Beta? Why or why not? How much time are you spending there vs. the “live” servers. 

suggested by Frinka of Warcraft Street.

I’m one of those people who hate surprises, partly because I’m a total control freak and partly because I have rather expressive face. Birthday parties used to be a nightmare as I’d try and rearrange my features into something resembling a smile as I opened yet another bunch of weird and wonderful presents from people who should really know better. As a direct result of this, I still have a bad habit of sneaking a peek into presents before they are “officially” handed out just so I know what I’m getting and can prepare appropriately.

So yes, of course I’m playing the Beta. I’m not playing a huge amount at the moment but then I’m not spending that much time in Azeroth either right now. At the start I was fairly dedicated, running dungeons, trying out the new Panda start zone and questing as much as possible however life has got in the way a bit and I’m basically playing with pet battles and pretending I’m a farmer.

The idea of having to do it all again doesn’t faze me in the slightest, I’d rather have to do it twice but know what to expect than run in with my eyes shut. Whether we like it or not, Mists is going to come rolling out and thus playing the Beta, along with reading forums/blogs and the like is the best preparation we can do.

One day I shall ride Midnight

That day is not today however but surely I deserve the mount after this?

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