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The Hero of Your Own Story

With my recent return to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I keep finding myself mentally comparing things to World of Warcraft.  I have no ill feelings toward WoW in my heart, and it still stands as a fun game.  In fact, I will be one of the first to defend Mists of Pandaria in a conversation.  After all Mists has done wonders for the way that Blizzard has decided to portray story in their games.  However, there is something that has been gnawing at me since I’ve come back to SWTOR.  Where do I fit in the story?

Dating back all the way to the Ruins of Ahn’qiraj, WoW has had an ever shifting sense of perspective that seems to draw less on the player characters being heroes and more that they are the upper echelon of the nameless grunts.  More and more the stories, especially for raids, have focused on large organized armies assaulting the dungeons/bosses/whatever to accomplish the goal, with you simply being the tip of the spear (or in some examples the rest of the arrowhead with an NPC being the tip).  No longer are you the hero, but simply the ones more likely to survive out of a massive attack by a hundreds if not thousands.

For example, the Shattered Sun Offensive’s assault on the Sunwell, the Ashen Verdict’s battle in Icecrown, the Guardians of Hyjal in the Molten Front and assaulting the Firelands, backing Thrall and the Aspects during Deathwing’s Fall, The Sunreavers or Kirin Tor breaking through the Thunder King’s walls, and the entirety of the Alliance or the Darkspear Revolution during the Siege of Orgrimmar.

In each of every one of those examples, you are not the heroes or saviors.  You are simply one part of a much larger effort to defeat the enemy.  This has even extended into questing in Mists of Pandaria, where it no longer matters if you’ve killed C’thun or defeated Kel’Thuzad the master lich twice, you are just another nameless faceless piece on the board along with so many others.  Now this isn’t universal either.  There have been raids and dungeons throughout the expansions that have you and your group as a small team working your way into a dungeon to silence a dark big bad all on your own.  Historically, these usual are the first tiers of raids in each expansion.  Karazhan, the Molten Core, Blackwing Descent, Mogu’shan Vaults…  there’s no army with you for these.  It’s just you against the dark.  Imagine if all of Ironforge joined together for a massive assault against Ragnaros with an army that took over the Dark Iron cities with Magni leading the assault.  Magni who steps on Majordomo Executus’ tail and demands to be let into the Firelord’s chamber.  Magni who proclaims victory once the Hand of Ragnaros is firmly planted in the earth and the enemy vanquished.  Would that be better?

Compare this to Star Wars: The Old Republic where you are cast in the role of the hero for the entirety of the narrative.  YOU the Jedi Knight confronts and battles the Sith Emperor.  YOU the Bounty Hunter who wins the Great Hunt and goes after the Supreme Chancellor single handedly. YOU the brave imperial that freed the Dread Masters from their prison.  The game devotes itself to you and you alone being the central figure of your tale.  Compare Rise of the Hutt Cartel Imperial Side to the Horde side start of Mists of Pandaria.  In both, a small tactical squadron lands in the area to cut a swathe of it and get what is of interest to their respective faction.  The big difference is that in Mists, you are a lackey to General Nazgrim who is leading the team.  You report to him and he tells you what to do.  In the Rise of the Hutt Cartel, you are the leader of the small team.  Mostly guiding the narrative and giving the orders to your subordinates who provide support and information to you, their leader, to help carry out the mission.  Star Wars: The Old Republic goes to great lengths to make you feel like you are the star. Even in the Operations (Raids) and Flashpoints (Dungeons), you are treated by the NPCs like they HAD to get you because you are the best of the best and only you are capable of handling this problem, not because hey, you’ve got a better health pool than the grunts, so you make it to the end.

However, that’s not without it’s drawbacks either.  When you see five bounty hunters rocking the ‘Champion of the Great Hunt’ title, it breaks the illusion a bit since your brain stops for a second and goes, “Hey, wait a minute. Didn’t I win that?” And the answer is yes, yes you did. This isn’t the worst thing ever, but I will admit it’s a drawback to the immersion.  But ultimately it comes down to experiencing the story and the feel of leading the narrative along.  I say feel, because honestly there are no dead ends, and no real way to break off the rails that Bioware has laid down for you.  This may cause issues with role playing a character when everybody has followed the same path, but I’m not a real hardcore role player in game so I am not even gonna attempt to go down that road.

So which one is better?  Well that’s for each to decide for their own.  I personally enjoy feeling like the hero and leading the story forward, but I can see that there’s an allure to the whole thing.  And honestly, when you sit and look at all the NPCs that are aiding in raid boss kills or massive armies tackling the citadels of evil, that’s really our fault from the get go.  Since I can remember I’ve heard things like “It’s ridiculous that X boss can be killed by 10/25 nobodies.”  Well, okay then. We’ll have a somebody do the killing. You just help.  And it’s not for me. I won’t lie, it makes World of Warcraft – a game I LOVE the lore to enough to create an entire site like the old Oddcraft blog and do things like the Warchief Election – a little bit harder to get in to and enjoy.

So what about you?  Which form of storytelling do you prefer and why?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this, Internet.

Looking Back at Mists of Pandaria

mists-of-pandaria-overview-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-new-world-of-warcraft-expansion

It’s been just over a year since World of Warcraft died.  Or at least that’s what people on the forum tell me.  I can still log in it seems, and I see people running around.  Maybe that’s the WoW afterlife.  Doing the same thing you did before WoW died.  Kinda like Dawn of the Dead and that damn mall.  But with WoW.   And unlike the time WoW was ACTUALLY overrun with horrible zombies.  I miss that event.

Anyway, the big raid has come, we have a new “warchief” (I’m still unsure if he’s a warchief or just the leader of the Horde.  There’s a subtle distinction there that I might go into in another post) and we’ve learned what Wrathion was all on about this whole time.  Everything’s all tidied up now, eh.  So it’s time to look back and talk about what I really loved and hated about this expansion.

Let’s start on the positive with the things I actually really liked:

VRY’S BEST

Grummles: Is there anything these little guys don’t make better?  They brought a smile to my face every time I ran across a camp of them.  From their on-click statements that make to giggle to the demanding of a replacement yak at the “Yak temple” in Townlong, the grummles never got old, never got on my nerves, and still get me to smile and laugh every time these little trailblazers speak up.  Especially the munchies crunchies bit since they do always remind me of Gurgi from Disney’s version of the Black Cauldron.

The Story:  Everyone who reads this site or knows me online should know that oh man did I ever not like the story of Cataclysm.  The whole thing just felt like a giant let down.  Oh sure, the 1-60 revamp was top notch in terms of storytelling, but 80-85 was a completely divided up mess.  The events of Mount Hyjal had nothing to do with Deepholm or Uldum.  The conflict between the two factions that the entire 1-60 revamp spent building up has practically non-existent except for moments of Vashjir and the Twilight Highlands.  So would Mists be able to pull it all together and deliver a cohesive story?  The answer was Hell freaking yea!  The Shas, the killik swarms being early, the yuangol pushing outward into Kun-lai? All connected.  The battle in Krasarang and the story of the Divine bell? Wonderfully delivered.  And I will be one of those people who defends the Garrosh turning evil story and go on record as saying it was wonderfully told from Burning Crusade straight to the Siege of Orgrimmar.  The only story hiccup I didn’t like?  Well…  I’ll get to that in the Worst section.

Pet Collecting: I am a collector at heart.  I collect things in games, out of games… furbies (currently at like 30 of them), so when they added a metric crap ton of new pets to collect, I absolutely fell in love with running around and getting them all.  Oh sure, a lot of them were just look alikes or reskins of other pets, but that was fine.  It was something to collect! And it could be done on my time and didn’t require a group!  …Until Throne of Thunder.  That’s got to be the dark spot with the whole pet collecting craze is when they made them raid drops.  Why? WHY?  Even if you could do it in LFR, the drop is so low on some of these that you’ll be running them into the next expansion getting them to drop.  You know, the old raid pets were fine.  It gave you a reason to go back to old stuff that could quite honestly be solo’d most of the time. But Throne of Thunder?  COME ON!  /sigh.  Still it provided hours upon hours of entertainment just collecting these little things and unlocking achievements with it.

The Seat of Knowledge/The Farm:   Well after the last one on the list, I’m guessing you can probably figure out why this one is a two-fer.  Yes, they both involve collecting things. But more importantly they collect things in the actual world that you can see.  It’s not just an UI option with a list.  I can actually go to the farm and see the yak that was given to me, the cat wandering around, oh and there’s the dog I saved and fed, and the nice little house that was decorated for me by my friend.   That’s a nice feeling when you can tangibly see the reward in the world around you.  Even if no one else but you can.  It feels awesome to walk into the Seat of Knowledge and see the intact artifacts I found lining the walls in shining displays.  Now if only Blizzard would get it together and do player housing where I can customize it too.  Put trophies from defeated raid end bosses on the wall, and my old armors on mannequins for having a complete set.  I would just die for that.  But the Seat and the Farm is about as close as we can get so far and I love it.

The Pandaren:  Much like the grummles, I found the Pandaren a joy to just mingle with.  The NPCs are given so much enjoyable life throughout the Jade Forest and Valley of the Four Winds that they have permanently embedded themselves snug into my heart.  I still find myself saying “Slow down… life is to be savored!” to people in my best pandaren voice.  Of course, it would be unbecoming to talk about the pandaren and not mention the tragic ending to the tale of Aysa and Ji.  I won’t go into detail for those who wish to avoid spoilers for the Siege, but oh man.  The feels.  There are so many of them.  Large quantities to be sure.  Surplus sale for all these feels. That’s how many.  Who knew those two bit characters from all the way back at the Wandering Isle would show up again at the end of all things?  And who could of predicted such a sad way for it to end?  Still, overall the pandaren have that love of life that I can only wish for.

VRY’S WORST

Golden Lotus Dailies: You know, I actually liked most of the dailies in the expansion.  I didn’t have the driving hatred of them that so many did.  It was a fun thing to do everyday.  With one exception.  The Golden F-ing Lotus.  Maybe it was the fact that as soon as you thought you were done, another link in the chain was added?  Maybe it was because you could only do the hubs in order?  Or maybe it was because all the mobs seemed ridiculously tough for a fresh level 90 and are still some of the toughest non-dungeon/raid mobs around?  I did not lament seeing them go when the Vale blew up.  I usually avoided them using the farm and dungeon finder when I could on alts.  Sure it takes longer, but less of a pain.  These dailies just sucked, and the fact that were smack dab likely to be the first thing you tackled at level 90 I can see how many people grew to hate dailies in general.

The Throne of Thunder:  Behold! The one storyline that Vry actually hated in the expansion!  Yea, I didn’t like the story for the Throne of Thunder very much.  Mostly it came from the fact that the actual villain wasn’t very well established.  Oh sure, during the quests in Kun-Lai we HEAR about all the evil stuff he did way back when, but what does he do when he comes back?  Runs off to his island fortress and then… nothing.  We actually go up to his house and start poking the hornet’s nest with a sharp stick for not much reason either.  He hasn’t done anything since coming back to life to warrant this reaction!  I know, I know, better safe than sorry but it stills feels like an over-reaction.  So what does the terrible Thunder King do?  Well,  he came back from the dead.  He uh… sent his lackies?  And then he totally like broke that bridge and dropped us into a sewer level.  And sewer levels suck! He must die!

I had hoped that Lei-Shen would get a bit more fleshed out as to why he’s a threat during the dailies, kind of like how the Landfall dailies showed the story of the Divine Bell and what not.   Nope.  Just the Sunreavers and Kirin Tor fighting to take over the island or each other.  That’s all.  Lei Shen shows up once to send a lackey at you ala Rita Repulsa but that’s about it.  What a fricking let down for what seem to be a great build up for a new threat.

Battlefield Barrens: Oh geeze. The grindfest that was Battlefield Barrens.  It’s like a TV show that had a really great premiere followed by having the same rehashed formulaic episodes week after week until the season finale/next patch.  There was nothing exciting or interesting about Battlefield Barrens other than it wasn’t a daily.  It was a weekly!  I supposed it had those tap-to-anyone-who-damages-it boss mobs that would spawn.  That was a neat mechanic.  But all it did was give you more resources.  The same resources you got from everything else.  And you just grind them. Then turn them in.  That’s it.  That’s all it was.  It just seemed like small potatoes considering what it was building up to.  Heck, the new scenarios gave us more plot than the battlefield barrens quests did.  Mechanically cool, but extremely underwhelming.  The whole thing felt like a technology test for the Timeless Isle.

Pet Battling:  Oh I love pet collecting.  But I hated battling.  Especially the trainer battles.  Right around the end of Outland going into the Northrend, the strategy quickly changed from ‘level up your favorites and battle with them’ to ‘prepare three precise pets at ze proper level with ze proper abilities to ensure victory over ze veak minded fools!’  It make me miss pokemon where yea, if I didn’t have an optimized team I’d be at a disadvantage, but it didn’t mean a guarenteed butt whoopin! See even the final bosses in Pokemon Red/Blue only used like level 60 or something pokemon.  So if you were determined and had a lot of time on your hands like High School Vrykerion did, you could level any team up to 100 and have a good chance of winning.  But with the trainer battles here, by the time you’re hitting Outland they’ve started using level 25 pets.  That’s max level.  You can’t out level the battles from that point on. So it’s level the right pets or gtfo.  I decided to gtfo.  I still haven’t beaten that undead using punk in Crystalsong Forest.  Go level three rare quality turtles to 25 to win.  F. THAT.

Pride: The ever looming question in the expansion was the identity of the seventh Sha.  Oh there were plenty of guesses, mostly around the seven deadly sins but heck if I know why since ‘Doubt’ and ‘Fear’ are not deadly sins.  But it was eventually revealed that it was of course, Pride.  Now my problem isn’t with Pride being the seventh sha.  It’s the other stuff surrounding it.  Pride was the Sha that Shaohao could not defeat.  His pride took the form of the Mists that cut off Pandaria from the world.  So why did the Sha of Pride let the Horde and the Alliance in?  I mean, if the mists were his pride that would mean the Sha of Pride would be able to manipulate it yes?  That’s how all the other Shas seem to work.  Using your doubt, fear, hate, etc to take control of you.  So why let them in?  To unleash havoc? How would they know they’d unleash panic? To unleash the Sha?  Well, they do release ONE Sha.  But timeline indications seems to imply that the others may have been active long before the Horde and Alliance found Pandaria.  Especially Fear, who has been causing a good deal of trouble.

So what’s the deal with the whole pride thing?  It’s stated that Shao Hao possibly parted the mists because his people had grown stagnant and fallen to their own Sha.  Well, that means Shao Hao was in control of the mists?  Did that mean he conquered his pride?  In the Seven burdens of Shao Hao he says he creates the mists because he people needed time to prepare and learn the lessons he did.  So if they grew stagnant instead, why did he wait to part the mists until now?  Why did Yu-Lon say that they parted for a reason involving you (the player)?  GAAAAAH! IT JUST RAISES TOO MANY QUESTIONS!  Nothing else in this expansion has made me pull my hair out more than that.  The puzzle of pride.  Truly it is good until it is bad.

So that’s my best and worst of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.  Overall, it was a pretty good expansion.  Not my favorite, but far far FAR from the bottom of my list.  What were some of your best or worst moments this expansion?

Going Galactic

Thus far in my MMO career I’ve primarily bounced back and forth between two games: World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Oh sure, I’ve dabbled here or there in other games.  Occassionally I still jump in and have a swim in the waters of Dungeons & Dragons Online (Less so now that they’ve decided to abandon Eberron for Forgotten Realms, but I could write a whole other post – and might – about that beef), and my copy of Guild Wars 2 still sits firmly installed for when I just want to wander and have fun.

So now the pendulum has swung back and I’ve decided to wander back into TOR for a bit.  Why?  Well, I won’t speak ill of patch 5.4 for World of Warcraft because by no means do I feel it was bad, but for the moment there’s not a lot of time investing fun to be had beyond leveling alts.  The Raid Finder (aka the only raiding Vry does anymore because every raiding guild I’ve ever run with boils down to petty drama bulls*&%) is more frustrating than anything when the wings are just opening.  People rushing in like cattle to the slaughter.  Best to wait until everything opens up and people start getting used to the mechanics and fights before wading into the thick of it.

WoW vs SWTOR: The Metaphor… I guess?

The Timeless Isle however IS content I can sink my teeth into.  It’s fun and open.  I like just wandering in circles and seeing what I can find.  I LOVE the trivia daily as you can imagine.  But the problem with the Timeless Isle right now is that it’s pretty much the ONLY thing to do outside of Proving Grounds (Solo) and raiding (slaughter house), so the Island is PACKED.  And the problem with the island being packed full of players running around and killing everyone and everything in sight is that the place becomes so ridiculously overfarmed the only chance to do anything is just to chest hunt.  Hey! A rare is up! Oh, it’s dead before I can reach it because 100 people were camping it. Oh another one! Hurrry scurry murray hurr-  Oh, dead again.

Then if you’re lucky to find the Island at a time when it’s NOT busy as hell, good luck having the killing power to take down the big game.  I mean, I enjoy the fact that I can at least kill my 20 elites in peace, and maybe actually tag an albatross, but at the same time it seems like some of the bigger mobs require a group effort to bring down.  So when the island is bare, you’ve got yet another problem.

Really, the only solution I’ve come to with the island is that it’s great fun, and will continue to be great fun when I’m killing things on it next expansion when I’m 95 in bad ass gear cutting my way through it solo because no one needs to gear up alts anymore.  AKA the “How Vry plans to do the Isle of Thunder achievements” plan.

However I don’t plan to just abandon World of Warcraft for months on end.  Oh heck no.  I’ve been having a ball just going back and leveling my alts.  My monk just made it to Northrend, and for the first time in a good long time I get to explore the Alliance side stories in Northrend. Which despite all the talk of Horde bias in recent years, the Alliance stuff in Northrend is REALLY good story-wise.  The Cult of the Damned infiltrating their ranks in the Borean Tundra, recovering the Ashbringer for Tirion in the Howling Fjord, reuniting with the Westfall crew in the Grizzly Hills…  there’s a lot of good stuff there.

Meanwhile it SW:TOR there’s a lot to catch up on.  I came back to just miss the bounty hunter week so I’m curious to try that out. I just finished up my Makeb reputation and am currently setting all my 55’s to complete the Section X one before moving on the new Czerka area.  And I’ve started a bunch of alts fresh to try out some new experiences in the game (Light side inquisitor, good guy agent, bad guy jedi, greedy bounty hunter) as well as have a refresher for the class storyline reviews.  Which for those who haven’t seen yet, you can find spoiler-free paragraph long class storyline summaries here now. I’ll be doing more reviews soon hopefully.

I know TOR has gotten a ton of crap over it’s short life, but I still find it quite enjoyable to play.  Okay, not every aspect of the game is amazing.  The cartel market constantly swings between “That’s AWESOME” and “You’ve got to be kidding me” for one.  But they’ve also done some pretty cool things.  Like the new flashpoints, while devoid of fun conversations, are designed to be done with any combination of classes and roles.  3 tanks and one healer? Cool.  4 DPS? Fine.  (On the Hard mode, it’s still the typical 2 DPS/1 Tank/1 Healer arrangement, but that’s fine)  This is pretty much like WoW scenarios.  Which I love.  Like a lot.

But when it comes down to it, the stories in TOR is what keeps me coming back to it over something like Guild Wars 2 or DDO.  I had 10 – TEN – different playthroughs of Mass Effect 1 & 2, 6 characters in Dragon Age 2, and yes, I loved ME3 ending and all.  Is it any shock that playing through the class stories and seeing how different choices play out is really fun for me? Even if there’s a ton that’s the same every time?  Plus they’ve done a great job of fixing up a lot of the annoyances in the game that were there at the launch.  The group finder works great, the later worlds seem to be retuned a bit, and the legacy unlocks and new travel consoles make getting around much less of a head ache.  The only thing that still drives me nuts is that with F2P or preferred, you only get 5 on-site rezes per character.  Then you have to go back to the med center always unless you buy more.  Really?  Can’t you just put a ridiculous cooldown on that one instead?  Like you can only on-site rez once per 4 hours for F2P, or 2 hours for preferred if you don’t have a medi-droid contract (first 5 is free, then you have to purchase further medi-droid contracts in the market. Or else you go on a wait list – aka long cooldown).

So if you happen to be on Begeren Colony, keep an eye out for the Vrykerion legacy running around.

Blizzard’s Storytelling: Bad or Just Unfair?

story

A lot of times I joking will post stuff from the WoW Forums, or poke fun at the BioWare forums.  I know that really it’s just a festering pool of every inane complaint where the smallest slight is trumped up like a national tragedy, and every idea demands the weight of the cure of cancer, but sometimes… just sometimes…  stuff like THIS pops up.  And it really, REALLY, gets under my skin.

GOOD storytelling isn’t always FAIR storytelling.  Everyone wants their faction to be the heroes and to win the war and come out on top.  There is a reason that Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II had TWO separate endings.  In Warcraft 3, the factions united to drive out the greater threat of the Burning Legion.  In WoW, a game built on continuity to the point where the slightest changed is burned in effigy among the chants of “Retcon! Retcon!” that the former option is impossible, and the latter has been done to death in every expansion.

Now you are probably grumbling at this point and saying “Oh Vry, so you think the Alliance should just lie down and take it?” Not at all, I will happily go on the record saying that the Alliance seriously should have had more victories, especially in the Eastern Kingdoms.  Honestly a quest line in the barely touched Dustwallow Marsh where the Alliance forged a path into the Southern Barrens by breaking through Horde strongholds would have been nice, since the Horde was busy dealing with the Grimtotem threat in the region to begin with.

FAIR storytelling is what people seem to want.  That special kind of story, where everyone wins, Everything blow is matched for an equal blow, and every loss is always met with an equal gain so that nothing is ever really lost.  I’ve played that game.  It was called SWTOR.  Seriously, go play through both factions stories and you’ll see.  Both Factions “win” Correllia.  Taris and Balmorra are lost and then retaken. And the only reason the Imperial’s are losing (or so we’re told, we never really see much losing going on from the Imp side) is because the Sith keep shooting themselves in the foot with stupid internal power struggles.

Speaking of stupid internal power struggles…  Loremaster Cho points something out that I think is very telling of where this story is going.  The Horde is tearing itself apart from the inside,  every race only concerned with themselves: The Blood Elves feel used and have decided to act on their own,  Sylvanus and her Forsaken have always acted in their own interests, the Goblins are naturally out to make a buck because that’s how goblins are, and even Baine enters the Battlefield Barrens story hesitate to join Vol’jin in open revolt because he must think of the Tauren before the rest of the Horde.  Only Vol’jin and his Darkspears seem to be working for the betterment of the Horde supposedly.  I say that because it’s unclear how much of this revolt is taking back the Horde from Garrosh, and how much is just straight up revenge for his treatment of the Trolls.

The Alliance on the other hand, is uniting together.  Bridges are being built, issues being resolved, and treaties made.  There is something happening with the Alliance.  It’s not just “Yea, we’re IN the Alliance, but we aren’t THE Alliance” anymore.  And while we haven’t seen the payday on this yet, I have no doubt that Blizz is laying the groundworks for SOMETHING with the Alliance.  Heck, the Garrosh storyline took 4 whole expansions to play out in totality.

What Blizzard is doing is GOOD storytelling.  They’re laying the foundations and foreshadowing events, they are establishing characters and their relationships, and the events that unfold make sense in the greater narrative.  I’m not going to say that Blizzard’s storytelling is PERFECT, and hardly what I would call FAIR, but it is most definitely GOOD.  There’s lots of hiccups here or there, or plot lines that vanish for months/years before resolving that drive me nuts.  But I always remember that storytelling in an MMO is very different from how you tell a story in a single player game, and definitely different from how you tell a story in a book.  Compared to some MMOs I’ve played, they’ve definitely got a good story going.  Compared to others, it’s still a bit lack luster but fits for the style of game they’re making.

Personally, I’d rather have a good story than a fair one.  But maybe that’s why I don’t pour out my frustration and bile onto the forums. (Besides, I have a blog for that)

An Ode to Dailies

Can I just say how much I actually love dailies? Being able to have something fun to do with myself that’s not too repetitive tasks that give me rep, valor and gold that I can then use on other awesome stuff.  Not to mention mounts! I love mounts.  And a farm! I looooove my farm.

I know most people don’t like it because they feel the need to do everything, always, forever and what not.  But for me, it’s the perfect pace of content.  I do about two different ones at any time and work my way through exalted.  Do I valor cap? No.  But I really don’t NEED to.  I gear up through dungeons, scenarios, and now LFR (Finally.  And loving it by the by.)  Valor stuff I buy when I have enough and there’s something I can use.  So ultimately it just gives me something fun to do every day I log in that short enough that it doesn’t take forever (Eyes on you Belsavis TOR dailies. Ugh.), and I honestly don’t feel like I’m doomed if I skip a day because I’m not feeling it.  Because hey, dailies are always there.  Even at level 135, these dailies will still be there. So get to them whenever.

But in the wake of so many people talking about how they DON’T like dailies at all, I decided to compose a silly little ode to them that makes me smile.  Maybe it’ll make you smile too?:

~~~

Dailies here. Dailies there! Dailies can be found most anywhere!

In pagodas and on the steppes, do your dailies to grind those reps!

Help stop mogu in the Vale, roll down the spine and fly off the rail.

Train your serpent amongst the Jade, hunt for eggs before they fade.

So many dailies you can do! So many you’ll start to rue. Don’t forget farmers, fishers and gods. They need your help to get along.

Help preserve the August Celestial brand and fight in temples across the land.

Farm and fish, fish and farm – but remember you won’t make friends if you wish them harm!

And unless we forget there’s those nice bugs too, the Klaxxi are your friend until they eventually decide to turn on you.

And now we have a war going on. Sheildwall and Dominance are here to play along. (Just don’t upset the King or Garrosh, or else you might end up with your head cut right off.)

So many dailies you can do! So many you’ll start to rue. With even more in five point two!

(But remember you must cap that valor, yes you do – or else we’ll raid without you!)

Of Death and Ironmen

Honestly, I’m still completely shocked that the completely silly Ironman Challenge idea that we brewed up on Twitter all those years ago is still kicking around.  Now we’ve got our brand new level 90 Immortal Ironman.  For those who haven’t visited the OddCraft Archive’s Ironman page, the Immortal Ironman is the much, much, much, much, MUCH more well-known No Deaths variant of the challenge that the World of Warcraft Community came up with months after the original rules were posted.  (No, I’m not still sore about this all. I swear. I’m NOT! Stop saying it.  I do not protest too much.  And I’m not a lady, bub…   Sorry about the bub comment, Ma’am.)

But I was thinking about the Immortal Ironman version of the rules, and the past World Firsts that made it with no deaths, and I realized that there was an aspect of that whole challenge that really bothers me.  Something I think kind of undermines at least what I personally sought to see with the original Ironman Challenge and one of the reasons I didn’t WANT a ‘No Death’ rule in the game.

It makes you play it safe.

The 85 Immortal Ironman? Dinged doing level 80 dailies.  The 90 Immortal Ironman? Questing in Hyjal.  Are you kidding me?  I mean, yes. You did something amazing, hardcore, bad ass, all that. But come on people.  You can’t even do it in the current expansion’s content?  You could just do damn dailies over and over until you ding.  That’s…  borderline cowardly!

In my mind, Ironsally did it right.  Ironsally went into Hyjal and Deepholm and did battle against things that were compared to trying to solo raid bosses.  That is awesome.  And yes, she died.  But survival wasn’t the goal.  Conquest – VICTORY – was the goal.  And victory she achieved.  She killed them.  She waded into hell wearing her skivvies and emerged bloodied, beaten and victorious.

I really don’t want to diminish the victories of those who decided to undergo the Ironman Challenge with the no death rule.  It’s still an amazing accomplishment.  But in my mind, to play it safe is the undermine the true goal of the challenge.  To face the forces of darkness with nothing but barest of essentials.  To see if you could do it.  To see if you can even HIT or KILL a level 85 monster at level 84 with nothing but your underwear and a wooden sword.  That’s where I was going in my mind when the initial conversation on twitter took place, that’s still where the REAL challenge is in my mind.

But that’s not what the community wanted.  They made the challenge they wanted.  They took our framework and modified it.  That’s fine.  They have their champions, we have ours.  But if they want a challenge.  A REAL Ironman, best of the best, Ironman challenge.  Allow me to offer one additional rule to pair with their hardcore ‘No Death’ one:

14. No Daily Quests.

I’m asking you to show me how ‘Iron’ you are. I’m saying drop your safety net.  I think we’ve shown that Ironman is doable and Immortal Ironman is doable.  Now I’m upping the ante.  Show me what you have, WoW community.  I’m eager to see how tough you are.

New Level Cap, New Ironman

Level 90 Immortal Ironman: Lyssan

Well, it’s happened folks.  The challenge was set forth and the World of Warcraft rose to meet it.  We have a new Ironman.

It’s been declared that LYSSAN of VEK’LINASH (US) is our World First Level 90 Immortal Ironman. A great big congratulations on the achievement!

As it has been with past winners, your name is now eternally carved into the history of the Ironman Challenge.

And I must say, a huge props on accomplishing this task with a priest.  Early on in the challenge I know a couple people tried to do priests, thinking that the heals and shield would be helpful in the long run.  Ultimately they were defeated by the massive drain of their mana pool. While I’m not sure if that has changed at all in Mists of Pandaria, I am still willing to say that hitting level 90 on priest Ironman style takes balls. Iron balls.  So a massive congrats to Lyssan!

Reassemble – Chapter One, Part Two

My sincerest apologies about this post being a day late from its scheduled Saturday posting.  Time has a way of getting away from me and I had a lot of random stuff drop on my lap yesterday.  So here it is, part two of my short story…  (Sorry!)

Vrykerion inked out a rough sketch of each piece that lay before him on the desk.  He drew lines and notes of how each one would potentially fit with others.  He didn’t need too.  He had done this many times before and would likely do it many times in the future.  He knew the design by heart but still went over it again and again.  It may have been in part to the time he spent studying and working with gnomish engineering.  Their desire to tinker and go over every detail hundreds of times to ensure that every bit was correct and in place.  But he knew that wasn’t about knowing how things went together, but understanding why.

“We’re proud of you, son.”  Kitarin Dawnshatter said, slapping Vrykerion on the back, “It might not be a Spell Breaker like your brother was, but being accepted into the Blood Knights is nothing to laugh at.”  Vrykerion just nodded a bit.

Vrykerion was wearing his blood knights’ tabard, a depressing mix of black and red – a reminder of what his people had to endure in the wake of the Third War.  He was dressed in his best chain mail from the graduation ceremony with Lady Liadrin, though in all honesty he had worn it for someone else.

“Just think! A few more years and you might be able to help pull this family out of Murder Row and back up into the Exchange! Or even the Court of the Suns!” Vrykerion’s father continued to prattle, causing Vrykerion to slightly roll his eyes. There was nothing like a reminder that his father’s crimes and the task of their family’s redemption was riding on his and his brother’s shoulders.

“But I want you to have something, my boy.  Something your Uncle got back during the Second War. He originally gave it to Herio, but he didn’t really want it.  I think he thought it would tarnish his reputation with the other Spell Breakers after we joined the Horde. Not that he’ll need it now.” Kitarin dropped something into his son’s hands: a small gold pocket watch. “It’s a gnomish design, ya see.  Tried to pawn it over in the Bazaar but no one in this Nether blasted town is willing to take it with those knuckle dragging orcs’ banners flying everywhere now.”

Vrykerion’s armored fingers traced over the designs on the back of the watch. “Gnomish,” he muttered for a moment before looking up, “You shouldn’t speak of the other races like that.”

“Those brutes killed your brother, you cowardly green skin boot licker!” Kitarin shouted throwing a bottle of wine at Vyrkerion and missing him, turning his back dismissively at Vrykerion and walked back to his hookah, “Don’t you have some rich noble whore to go visit or something, boy?”

“Yea.  Calowen is waiting for me at the celebration.  Tell Mother that I left her a gift when she gets home from work, will you?  Please don’t sell it this time.” His father puffed on the tube, inhaling the thick fumes of bloodthistle, and waved his hand, dismissing Vrykerion without a word.  Vrykerion sighed and left into the streets of Murder Row and up towards the Court of the Sun.

As he turned the corner into the fountain square, he was met with a pair of arms wrapping themselves around his neck.  Vrykerion panicked for a second, his instincts from his years living in the shadiest neighborhood in the city kicking in.  But his nerves eased when a familiar and curvaceous body followed the arms and pressed up against him in a hug, “Congratulations!”

He wrapped his arm around Calowen, “You too.  Excited for our deployment tomorrow?”

Calowen nodded, nuzzling her head in the crux of Vrykerion’s neck, “A bit nervous too.”

“You’ll do fine.  If you can drag me to graduation, I’m sure you could take on the entirety of the Scourge all by your lonesome.”

Calowen chuckled softly, never lifting her head, “I can see my extra lessons in ‘sense of humor’ have served you well.”

Vrykerion smiled.  It was one of many ‘extra lessons’ he had enjoyed with Calowen during their time training to be paladins, “Are you ready for the celebration?”

This time she shook her head and her soft voice got quiet, “I actually thought we could go somewhere else.”

Vrykerion raised an eyebrow.  Did she really mean? His answer came quick in the form of her lips pressing deeply into his, her soft warm skin contrasting the cool metal of his armor.  And as the night went on the cold feeling of armor vanished piece by piece, and the warmth spread more and more.

Vrykerion’s hand trembled slightly as he drew a small 14 toothed cog.  He stopped and set the parchment down.  He allowed himself a moment of reprieve to glance out the window and to let the blood drain from his flushed face.  Blue Child hung low in the night sky.  For a brief moment he wondered where the sun had gotten off to.  The process of rebuilding was long and sometimes very hard on him.  Still, he knew that he had to continue.  He had to press on or else finishing and thus understanding, would never come.  He would simply run away again.  So Vrykerion sat back down and took his quill in hand once more.

Mists of Pandaria Leaks You Won’t Believe (Cause they’re LIES!)

Hello and welcome! I am, of course, the distinguished and honored Professor Gnomey, an acclaimed expert on truthism and internetology at Gnomeregan Gnuniveristy.  Professor Billy could not be here today due to some… uh… legal troubles.  Something about him forging his credentials or some such.  Anyway, I am here to discuss the fabulous and fantastical Mists of Pandaria beta.  Or namely, to address some HORRIBLE rumors being tossed around the ‘Tweetor’.  You seem, some rascally hooligans thought it would be fun to make up things about the new WoW expansion on the internet.  Thus breaking the delicate and carefully maintained balance of everything on the internet being true.  Which it has. Completely.  I trusted every word I read on there until these trouble makers decided to start flat out LYING to the whole world.  But I one upped them all. I took notes. I wrote them aaaaall down.  And now I’m gonna to expose them for the dirty little liars they all are.  These are just some of the lies I saw perpetrated under the extremely deceptive hashtag of #FakeMoPBetaLeaks!

@Vrykerion

  • In order to combat perceived Horde bias, Alliance quests will get extra love & have twice as many pop culture references.
  • The Horde wins, all players get free faction transfers, Alliance becomes a neutral faction of NPCs
  • To make Pandaria easier to traverse without flying, a gnomish train system dubbed ‘The Panda Express’ has been added.
  • A level 88 quest hints that the reason we fight Garrosh is he ate Thrall’s cookie that was clearly labeled ‘Do Not Eat’
  • Shaman receive a class quest at level 90 that after mastering all four elements will receive the “Thrall State” stance
  • In a quest to restablish Varian as a good leader, players will be his ‘wingman’ to help him ‘score’ at a Pandaren bar.
  • To correct the ‘indignity’ of some classes wearing “skirts” or “dresses”, now all class sets have skirts or dresses!
  • The Mogu are NOT related to the Mogwai.
  • Morfeeus, a new goblin NPC added to the start zone, will remind goblins that they do NOT know Kung Fu.
  • Players will face off against the elusive Warriors of Virtue in a new dungeon and learn a lesson about peer-pressure.
  • To foster camaraderie among the Alliance, King Varian will now address all NPCs and players as “bro” regardless of gender.
  • To match the Asian theme and tone of the expansion, item levels will be renamed ‘power level’
  • Complete combat system overhauled designed around card games confirmed. Spells and abilities replaced with trading cards.
  • In order to promote players to get out in the world, Warlock summoning spells will now also kill the caster and clickers
  • Female armor does not contain any chain mail or plate bikinis. All pants are ass-less though.
  • Mists will introduce a new PvE stat “NotSuck” that will boost all damage and healing in Dungeon & Raid Finder groups.
  • In memorial of Theramore, Goth Jaina builds the new Linkon Park.
  • Worgen Druids will receive exclusive out-of-combat ‘Human Form’.
  • Several Lorekeeper NPCs added to world to remind players that monks are not ninjas, and China is not the same as Japan.
  • Demonology Warlocks will be tanks.
  • New Legendary Revealed! First Shield Legendary! In order to make sure it’s rare, it will be +Agility.
  • Hidden across Pandaria are 7 magical orbs that, if gathered, will summon a dragon and grant your class a buff.
  • Pandaren start zone quests include “Wax the Car” and “Paint the Fence”
  • The origins of the Sha revealed! They are what happens when you leave Pandaren ice cream out in the sun too long.
  • Hunters can tame anything for a variable length depending on the level of their new “Training” skill, even players!
  • In a Horde specific scenario, players will face the Horde’s ancient and deadliest foe: BEES. And the Alliance will have a parallel scenario where they face their long time enemy: POOR PEOPLE.
  • Tirion Fordring confirmed as faction leader for the Pandaren.
  • The Argent Crusade will have a presence in Heroic Scholo. They don’t actually do anything, but they are standing there.
  • Along with raising and maintaining a farm, players will also have to defend their land by launching birds at felboars.
  • With Monks now in game, Paladins will be losing their tank and healing specs in favor of new abilities that make sparkles.
  • Warlocks are getting a glyph that gives them a taunt, Mages will be receiving a new healing AND tanking spec.
  • Players will receive a shocking twist at level 90 when a quest line reveals that a pandaren is just 3 gnomes in a suit.

@San_Lear

  • The expansion ends with a tearful public service announcement from Garrosh on the dangers of steroid abuse.
  • Thrall is forced by Aggra to move into the Cleft of Shadows after being caught trying to “get his Proudmoore on.”
  • “Chow Yun Fat-Free” is a BOE cooking recipe.
  • Everyone is thrown for a loop when the real villain of Pandaria is revealed to be Shepard from Mass Effect 3.
  • The “Harrison Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Item” questline doesn’t go over as well as hoped.
  • Druids are given animal forms of the rest of the classes. The Donkey Death Knight is scrapped as “too depressing.”
  • Accused of Horde bias, the band “Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain” renames itself “Level 100 Uber Human Dude.”
  • Battlegrounds get sponsors, such as “Alterac Valley, brought to you by McDonalds.” The winner gets a McSword or McShield.
  • Alementals abilities are datamined. Beer Goggles: +85 inflation to ego. Debuff: Waking up the next morning.
  • Players will discover the hard way that the Pandaren do, in fact, have a Kung Fu grip.
  • Tirion gives one of Arthas’ twins to a moisture farmer to raise in Tanaris.
  • Blizzard begins the “Pandaren, at least they’re not Ewoks” ad campaign.
  • The real reason the Forsaken destroyed Southshore is retconned as the cancellation of the Alliance’s “Jersey Southshore.”

@Druidis4fite

  • Hidden Continent of Pandaria was under Crusader’s Coliseum all this time.
  • Warlock taunt only works on non-boss level mobs and mages
  • Hidden continent of Panderia was inside you all along
  • Stormwind Library adds several progressive volumes about Orientalism.

Other Awesome People

  • New Race added. Trolls! no really please will someone play one of these, We’re bored of Blood elves – @DanRyyu
  • Large styled belts are now limited to one per server, players can only challenge for these belts AT WRESTLEMAINA! – @DanRyyu
  • All PvP players who refuse to fight near the objective will be permabanned after three BGs. – @CosmicLaurel
  • Tier 14 Monk Armor revealed to be a yellow tracksuit with black striping. – @WalksTweets
  • Monks surprisingly cannot use the /flirt or /hug commands and cannot enter Goldshire due to vows of chastity.  – @WalksTweets
  • Completing 1000 Pandaren cooking dailies will reward the player with a pair of legendary chopsticks – @RogueDarren
  • Arcane mages get 3rd DPS ability, makes arcane rotation 33% more difficult – @Leodartbok
  • New Death Kinght ability: Furry of Frostmourne – 3 sec cast, turns your enemies into Pandas. – @Leodartbok
  • Aggra is carrying Velen’s love child – @Atanae
  • The Aspects are re-granted their original powers after eating the magical Sensu beans from the Pandaren. – @Katana_Angel
  • Garrosh is discovered to be Thrall’s evil clone, created by the Royal Apothecary Society to destroy the horde from within. – @Katana_Angel
  • Everyone can eat and drink at the same time. If you’re a Pandaren, you can eat, drink, and brew beer at the same time. – @WoWCynwise
  • Just discovered! In MoP, BM Hunters get 2 min CD Bestial Xform – change into a twin of their active pet for 15 secs! – @BigBearButt
  • Pet Battle System only way to earn Trinkets. – @Melofedge
  • Genn Greymane gets rabies, bites and infects Jaina Proudmoore, and then sends players on a poop quest in Lordaeron. – @Druidleaves
  • Pandaran cooking profession now include a recipe for Sweetfire Chicken sponsored by Panda Express, home of the flying wok. – @KneeDough

((A huge thank you to all the awesome folks that joined in the fun on twitter.  I love to see what people come up with.  To those who aren’t already, I would highly recommend following all these amazing tweeps.  They are an amazingly fun bunch!))

A Short Prediction for MoP

“Garrosh has become corrupted and has been doing some really nasty things beneath Orgrimmar.” – MMO Champion

“Sha: Lethal dark energy—absorbs hateful emotions and easily corrupts those who are unsuspecting” – WoWHead

Garrosh has become corrupted – Sha … easily corrupts

GARROSH CORRUPTED – SHA CORRUPTS

Gee, can we guess what happens to Garrosh this expac?

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