The Gray Place

What The Friday?

Posted in General Me, WoW by mrfenris on April 30, 2010

I’m such a geek.  This morning I was showing some new employees how to operate a piece of equipment for some work along a riverbank and felt like I was some sci-fi Sargeant teaching his Marines about their standard issue pulse rifle.

*Gathered in a circle around the mower*

“What we have here ladies is the DR Field and Brush mower. *pats handle* This baby will take down any soft wood and any hard wood an inch in diameter.” *looks and points at one of the new guys* “That’s about as big as your pecker son.”

“This mower will also take off your foot and your co-workers foot if you choose to operate it in an irresponsible manner.  If I see you acting in an irresponsible manner, you will no longer operate the DR Field and Brush mower.  Instead you will be using your bare hands to finish this clean up.”

*points at various features*

“Located here is the choke, the throttle, the PTO lever, the safety switch, the hand brake, the chain drive, the deck belt.  We will now break into groups of three to commence start-up procedures.”

Thank you Dad.  For describing every single tool to me like you were still a Sargeant in the Army.  “Son what you have here is a 20 oz roofing hammer, you’ll notice that head is different then your standard hammer…” Oh and heaven help me if you referred to his Entrenching Tool as a shovel.  He would come unglued and spend the next 10 minutes showing you how to kill a man with said E-Tool.

I realized I have a pet peeve when it comes to healing in raids.  When someone else heals my target I get pissed.  I realize their just helping out and dropping an extra HoT on them, but it annoys me to no end.  I want to key down and yell in vent, “get the fuck off my target!”.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a pally healer and I see then drop a HoT *right* before my cast lands.

I don’t get mad when I’m tanking and a bored tank taunts an extra mob off me.  In fact I encourage them to if their bored or can handle another.  But when I’m healing I want to punch someone in the ear (ever been punched in the ear?  It hurts.) when they heal my target.  50% of my healing is overheals anyway and your blanket covering my assignments just makes it worse.  I actually have a habit of letting my assignment take a bit of damage before I start healing.  I mean I like to see life bars move.  It’s not my fault that Wrath raid design has unlimited mana pools where a healer can just spam heals, without even waiting to see if the target needs it.

I really enjoy my level 55 Holy Priest.  It’s really nice to actually have a variety of spells to cast based on the situation.  I secretly love those moments where my party is about to die but I can bring them all back from the brink by using AOE heals.  I love the tools a priest has at their fingertips.  You can drop renews to keep people “even”, flash heals to take bigger chunks, bubbles to buy yourself some time while you work on other party members, and then the big daddies like Circle of Healing and Holy Nova.  I don’t cast Prayer of Healing too often to “save” my party since it’s got such a long cast time.  Instead I use it when I *know* there’s about to be a lot of raid damage coming so I can precast it to land right after the damage hits.  If the damage doesn’t land I just move to cancel the spell and save the mana.

One thing about leveling up via pugging is you always find yourself with something to do heal-wise.

I love my guild, but everyone is 80 or making a mad dash to 80.  I think I’d like to take my priest out of the guild and find a big guild filled with scrubs that has a wide range of levels.  I’m not sure what I want to do with my priest, but I know I’d like to stay Holy.  I really enjoy the array of abilities they have and the fact that I have to think of which spell to use it certain situations.  Discipline seems really cool, but I got bored when I’d shield my target, renew them when it popped, and wait to be able to shield them again.  I need things to constantly do or I get bored.  (Secret:  I like to rearrange my backpacks while raid tanking.)

If I’m going to keep playing WoW, I think I need to fresh challenge and a new start.  My Holy priest just might be the ticket.  Although I think I’ll pay for a race change.  I went Blood Elves because I think they have the easiest starting zone in terms of quest locations, but I really don’t care for belfs all that much.

Hell maybe I’ll go Alliance.  Dun dun dun.

The guild is dead. Long live the guild!

Posted in WoW by mrfenris on April 27, 2010

I was talking to a real life friend and a guildie the other day when he made a comment that surprised me.

“Our guild is all about raiding now and less about hanging out.”  Paraphrased.

For the record I agree.  I enjoy my little guild, but I am a little sad that this is true.  So now I’m sitting here thinking on how this came to pass and all I can come up with is the fact that we became successful.

It started with 4 players.  Two of them were married, there was my friend mentioned above, and the sexual Tyrannosaurus that is me.  Three of us had just come from a series of sucktastic “social” guilds where the inbred guildies all sit around and marvel at the epeen on the one decent player who just happens to be the GM.

We four were adults, had the real life thing going on, and mildly successful people and could spot bullshit when we saw it.  So we decided to guild hop and try to find a better place when one of us (and I curse you to this day) piped up and said we should form our own guild.

Right away I knew we were screwed.  So we stupidly bought a tabard, then we stupidly bought a guild bank (they were new at the time.  Secret:  I still think guild banks are a huge waste of money) with some money we had scraped up.   Our guild was composed of two Hunters and two Warlocks.  I kid you not.

And we played our ass off.  For those of you who don’t play WoW we had no healers, no beefy fighter types, just two casters and two archers.  We would run instances over and over and over, using crowd control, pets to tank, and scrape by with the skin of our teeth.  It was an absolute freaking blast.  People would join our group during a run and be amazed at what we did or get scared and leave.

It was a riot and we were as thick as thieves.  Soon we got another member, then I started working on a tank since we didn’t have one, then we got another tank whose wife was a healer and slowly we started growing.

Now.  Keep in mind we were still super tight.  We stuck together, if one of us was PvPing we all were PvPing even if it meant we were gonna get our asses kicked.  If someone ganked a guildie, everyone showed up to fight.  (Although to be honest we still do that to this day).  We slowly gained members and started to bypass or outlast other “bigger and better” guilds as we went.

We got into raiding even though we were told (and thought) we wouldn’t be very good at it.  We learned the hard way and lead with our faces.  If we only had 8 or 9 raiders we didn’t pug out their spots we just went in with a chip on our shoulder.  We laughed and joked, and told funny stories as we progressed through TBC and into Wrath.

As each new raid came out we got better.  I give a lot of credit to former player who we parted ways with.  He was a solid tank and raid leader who got us through Kara, ZA, and into Naxx.  We’ve always had a pretty low drama rate (Secret:  It’s largely a result of us not mass recruiting.) but some stuff went down and he parted ways.  (Our guild and his guild are still friendly to this day)

After that I took up the raid officer position unofficially and we banged through Naxx, Uld, blew apart ToC, and are now 9/12 in Icecrown (We are not a raid guild.  We don’t pretend to be).  Somewhere along the way I asked for the raid officer position formally because I was tired of seeing other people limp dick through raid leads and making some bad calls in regards to our raiding schedule and attitude.

Somewhere along in Wrath is when we transformed from our super, ultra, ribbed for her pleasure, tight-knit group into a group more focused on raiding.  And I think I’ve narrowed it down to a few things…

1.  We became successful.  We recruited good people.  We became better players.  We developed a focused and direct approach to raid content.

2.  Wrath design.  Ten man raiding became easier than ever.  You geared up in Heroics, badge gear, and you can jump right into raiding.  Once everyone is an 80 and has gear, what is there really left to do in the game?  What’s left to chase but raids?

3.  The looking for group feature.  I remember in the old days we’d want to run something but we’d only have one tank on or one healer on so we used to take turns in running five mans.  Now people log in and if they don’t feel like waiting then can just hop in the LFG feature.  (Secret:  I think the LFG is the BEST and WORST thing to happen to WoW.   If they ever make a raid version it will destroy guilds).

Our entire attitude is different now.  Before everyone had to play their assess off so we could scrape by.  We had a handful of good players and you prayed that they signed up for every raid.  Now you can’t throw a rock without hitting a solid player in our guild and we have 12-15 people who sign up for ten man raids. We don’t have to work as hard as we did.

So now I’m sitting here wondering how this is all going to play out.

I know personally I plan on cutting way back or quitting WoW this September.  In the meantime we’ve got summer creeping in which leads to a slow down of players and playing time.  I *know* once we kill the Lich King some folks will drop down in visibility for a bit.  It feels like there’s just too much time between ICC and Cataclysm.  I don’t think the Ruby Sanctum sounds all that interesting so I don’t know exactly what this summer bodes for our guild.

However, I’m not spreading doom and gloom about my guild’s future.  We’ve got some great people who are ton of fun to be around.  People are organizing old world raids, achievement nights, and I myself have been kicking around scheduling PvP nights.  I think there’s still life left in the old girl.

But what I’m left wondering,  perhaps if we older members time isn’t over.  Maybe we’re like unaware parents, who fondly remember the way things were, how tough we had it, and all of a sudden we just realized our kids have grown up and surpassed us.

Hrm.  Dunno.

I hate Earth Day.

Posted in General Me by mrfenris on April 26, 2010

I am tired of Earth Day.  We pick one day for assholes to pretend they’re not assholes and plant a tree.  Celebrities get to stand on their soap boxes (because you know having a Nickelodeon show makes you an expert on Biology) and parrot what they’ve heard.  Companies get to change their logos green in solidarity of a “Global Event”, then go back to shipping their trash out to sea on barges.

Suck me.

I suppose I am a bit pissy today, being Monday and all.  My coffee is slowly working, I had to move all my stuff back in my office since they did my floors this weekend, and I’m generally kinda a dick anyway.

Now, for whatever reason I sometimes get pegged as a “stalwart Republican” amongst my social group.  Someone will make a “liberal leaning” political comment and look at me sheepishly as if I am supposed to take offense and argue against it.

I don’t even vote Republican all the time, but somehow I’ve gotten pegged as the “Conservative” guy  (apparently they eat babies).  I try to never talk politics with  people.  One reason being, I just don’t care what you think.  My political beliefs are rooted in information, common sense, and philosophy.  I do not broadcast it to the world, I do not try to move other people to my line of thinking.

Another reason being is that people never want to “talk”.  They only want to tell you why your wrong.  Nine times out of ten they just parrot the last person they heard expound on some political topic.  And news channels?  Don’t get me started.  I never trust anything driven by ratings.  Never.

I am tired of all the hyperbole.

I am tired of the same people with fish with feet stickers on their cars screaming about evolution, while their eyes well up when talking about “climate change”, and they tell us we are part of nature.

Yet they completely remove themselves from the cycle, when talking about how man is wrecking the planet, and some evil monster hell bent on killing as many baby seals as possible.  Somehow mankind is removed from the cycle and must be stopped because he’s “unnatural”.  We are the only species that does XYZ, we are destroying the planet, we are destroying the natural world.

If we are truly part of this world then why aren’t we judged and viewed as part of it?  What if it’s part of our evolution as a species to destroy anything we touch?  Why do the same people who defend evolution insist on keeping the world exactly as is?  Why do they defend building highways across some acre of land that a cactus grows in?  Why do they not allow the world to truly evolve alongside man?  Why must mankind not impact the world around them?

If man is part of the natural world, then why isn’t every single horrible thing he does considered evolution of that world and his species?  Life continues along the same path until it encounters an obstacle.  At that point it can either adapt or die.

I’m not defending companies dumping toxic waste.  I am not encouraging the slashing and burning of forests, but I don’t understand why Mankind always gets left out of the equation when were talking about the “natural world”.

Man is a powerful creature.  We can destroy ways of life, we can destroy nations, we can destroy ourselves.  We are not the pinnacle of life in my eyes.  We are a new species, untested with our entire legacy before us.  The true crime against the beauty and wonder of life to me is when we remove ourselves from it and act superior.

For the record, I’m sure I’ll be accused as some sort of environmental hating, bible thumping (LOL), endangered species buttfucking, whale calf eating, psycho that is upset that they are forced to recycle by their local government.  Yeah I’m not gonna even defend myself to that lunacy.  You’re a broken record.  Die already.  No please do.  I want your land.

I think it’s fantastic that SOME people are conscious of their environment and their place within it.  I think it’s great people are making an effort to live within the world and not lording above it.  But let’s dial it down a notch please and stop being intellectually dishonest.

Hate Mankind all you want.  Blame him for the “destruction” of the world all you want.  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that we are somehow “above” the laws of evolution.  What we do, good or bad, is part of the evolution of Earth and ourselves.

And fuck Avatar.

Project Next?

Posted in Gaming, General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 23, 2010

Unrelated:  Tobold hit it on the head for the most part.

I am a life long gamer.  After ten-something years of marriage my wife finally understands.  We are not like normal people.  Normal people don’t take half a day off work to come home and play a board game.  Normal people don’t know the odds of the combined number ten coming up on 3D6.  Normal people don’t fly across the country to play a video game with people who they can play with from their own home.

I tried to relate too her it’s much like how I used to think Polish Americans were like other “white” people.  I assumed they were just your average boring, unable to dance, white peoples.  They are not.  Once I was on the inside (and poking one) their true nature manifested.  Their loud, fierce, goofy, family oriented, religious, party happy people who love to start shit just for the sake of drama.  I love them and my wife’s family.  (Secret:  I make sure I drink a lot before family functions).

In fact I have dubbed my Polish in-laws, “White Mexicans”.  They act the same way.  And Polka?  My god that’s just a step from Mexican music.  (The running joke at my house is that since my kids are Mexican/Polish they are going to break into their own cars and steal them).

I have no idea where I’m headed in my next stage as a gamer.  MMO’s are fantastic for me except for the part of having to play with other people.  The very thing that draws me too them, makes me want to leave.

I think the time I have left in WoW I want to spend getting my guildies over a few humps we have in front of us.  I want them to become a working unit in regards to raiding.  I want people to be interchangeable in regards to roles and teach them to think and react on their own and not wait for the raid leader to say something.  We’ve made a lot of strides over the years.  We used to be halfass social guild that couldn’t even find a raid entrance.  Now we’ve (and it’s a GROUP effort) transformed into a small solid social guild that clears content with a laid back approach.

I’ve been trying to prepare someone to take my spot when I’m gone.  We’ve got a bunch of people who have lots of great abilities to bring to the table, it just seems no one wants to step up and take the responsibility.  I can understand that.  The problem is I think their worried about making mistakes and letting people down.  I understand, but it’s funny to me because they don’t realize how many mistakes I’ve made over the years.  It’s part of the learning process.

Single player games are fantastic for me, but great games come along once in a blue moon.  I like being able to *pause* my game and go sit on the couch with the wife and watch a 40 minute (DVR FTW) TV show, then go back into the office and squeeze off some more headshots.

GTA IV update.

1.  I have shot and killed police officers.  I know I said I wouldn’t.  One particular mission is impossible without it.  I am a hypocrite.

2.  I killed Dwayne instead of Playboy.  No I did not look up ahead  of time to see the outcomes.  Here’s why.  Playboy is a fake ass gangster.  Dwayne’s the “harder” of the two.  But ever since prison Dwayne’s been out of sorts, talking about killing himself and stuff.  Playboy lives in a penthouse, Dwayne lives in the projects.  Whose got more bankroll?

I could just buy an Xbox 360.  My son’s older now and while he still enjoys the Wii I think an Xbox would see more use from multiple people now.  I may buy one this X-Mas when we buy a new TV.

I was “this” close to running a role-playing game again.  I’ve got my custom setting, had a few players in mind, and an interesting story to delve into.  I haven’t ran a game in nearly two years.  I’m sure some folks have attributed it to me playing WoW, but that’s really a bullshit halfass reason.

At one point there was some real immaturity going on in the little social circle of RPG players I knew.  WoW was “teh debil” and people got out their soap boxes and acted superior and like fucktards.  I try to stay out of cliques and bullshit.  I’m sure people had their piece to say about me, but I’ve always been of the attitude if you don’t have the stones to bring it to me, you can go fuck yourself.

But two large reasons I don’t play RPGs with my friends anymore are …

1.  Because I don’t like firm commitments.  If I don’t log into WoW for 3 days and nobody misses me.  If I no-show a RPG game I’m running, 4-5 other peoples lives are impacted.

2.  I got tired of the clique.  Whose pissed at who, this guy sucks cus of XYZ, you gotta invite this person if you invite that person, etc.  Fuck it.  I don’t have time for that shit.  Ya’ll are fucking up my Wa.

Let me put this out there.  I LIKE my friends a lot.  I like their flaws.  I accept them as that being part of them (Just like I know the accept my flaws too).  But I don’t want the basis of our friendship to revolve around an RPG game.

So anyway before I got preachy I was saying how I was close to running an RPG.  Then my wife got pregnant *shakes fist at the mail man*. So that idea got moved to the back burner for a bit.  Oh sure, I could run a shorter game.  That’s not the issue.  My life is just crammed full of enough stuff.  I don’t want to cram something that’s supposed to be fun on top of it all.

I wasn’t too keen on running a game in the summer also.  That’s when my workload explodes and I put in about 10 hours at work and 2 more hours at home every day.

I dunno.  But tonight I plan on kicking back, pouring myself a Pepsi with a LOT of ice in it, logging into WoW, and tanking like a mofo.

Old me. You sucked.

Posted in General Me, WoW by mrfenris on April 22, 2010

I realize some of these posts are typical “farewell posts” that people leave when they are quitting something.  That’s probably apropos in a way.  I don’t quite know what I’m doing with this blog, but that doesn’t bother/surprise me.  Structure and focus are just half of the world.  I think they’re too restrictive at times for what I’m doing here. (Secret:  That doesn’t mean I have a plan.)

I was scared to FUCKING death the very first raid I went on.  I was a young pally with like 12k health (I really don’t remember) who first stepped into the wide world of raiding with his scrubby guildies.  (Your all still scrubby FYI.  Get out of the fucking fire before I slit my wrists)

So here I am standing in Karazhan (best raid evah!) in front of the stables that are filled with ghostly workers and ghostly horses.  My Druid tank buddy is telling me that these horses will fear, they’ll hit me for like 5k (I don’t really remember), they randomly charge people, and leave their socks in the bathroom.  All sorts of nasty shit.

So I’m sitting here, a newbie tank who just started playing a few months before, knowing that if I fuck up I wipe my raid and everyone is going to laugh at me and tell me I’m a sucky player, if I take too much damage I must suck (people still wanted Pallys to be AOE/Add tanks back then and that was it), deep down knowing I was out of my league, and I’m never gonna be ready for “THE RAIDING”.

And then I pulled them.  We killed them and pulled the next group.  Then the next, next, etc.  Each pull was precise and measured.  Hunter trap the square, shackle this, don’t break CC!  Each pull I felt a little better.  I wasn’t being one shot, I was holding aggro, I was losing a tiny bit of anxiety each and every pull.

I used to be a COMPLETELY insecure tank.  I used to undervalue my abilities, I used to punish myself for little mistakes, I used to pour over articles and theory to fill up the holes left by low self-esteem.

Every single pull I’ve made over the years has killed a little bit more of that lingering doubt in myself.  Two years later it’s just another day at the office for me.  If I could go back and talk to that scrubby nervous pally I’d give him one piece of advice.

“Stop acting like a pussy.”

In fact that is a piece of advice I’d give to any player whose nervous about jumping into raiding for the first time.  Do not psyche yourself out.  Enjoy every single second of you playing a kick ass video game with nine other people.  This isn’t a five man “dick the dog” run.  You are raiding, hitting content that lots of people don’t get to see.  This is the magic of the game, the huge freaking bosses, the crazy encounter mechanics, the beautifully designed artwork and sounds.  It’s the real deal.  Open your eyes and take it all in.  There’s nothing like it.

I don’t give a shit if your in blues and it’s your first character.   I appreciate the fact your nervous and don’t want to let your guildmates down but stop and smell the flowers along the way.  Congratulations you made it.  You are a “Raider”.

Now get out of the goddamn fire.

My wife makes Mexican wet dreams come true.

Posted in Gaming, General Me, Raid Leading, WoW by mrfenris on April 21, 2010

Yesterday at my house every single illegal male Mexican’s wet dream came true…

She’s white, pregnant, and in the kitchen making tortillas.  My wife ladies and gentlemen.

BANG a roast cooking all day with chilis, BANG 50% pinto beans 50% black beans made by me (started at noon too), BANG homemade flour tortillas, BANG a little cilantro and chopped raw onion, BANG a little cheese and sour scream.

Hot damn.  I guess I would actually marry her again if I had to do it all over.

My GM texts me last night before the raid.  Something to the effect of “Your healing ICC tonight?  I wish I wasn’t so tired so I could come see you yell at people and fail”.  Well it was something like that.  She knows I dislike Paladin healing.  BTW yeah we kid like that.  She’s got a dry sense of humor like mine.

I am a tank.  It’s what I do.  I can go ret and rock face, I can go Holy to round out a group for a five man.  But at heart I love to tank.  I used to firmly and viciously avoid healing in a run because of a little secret that most hybrid tanks keep to themselves.  We don’t want to get shoved into healing just because we “can”.

When you are a tank you constantly have to fight to stay on the gear edge (vs the mobs, vs the DPS).  You have to constantly bring your A game because EVERYONE can see when you don’t.  You’ve got 2-3 other tanks breathing down your neck just waiting to take your spot.  You don’t want to do ANYTHING that jeopardizes your spot as a  frontline tank.  Especially healing, and there’s NO help for you if your good at it.

When I started raiding I was the last tank to hit 70.  We all were really cool about swapping spots for the two raids per week.  However our strongest tank at the time was a Druid and we tanks decided for the good of the guild (we weren’t really organized like we are now) the Druid would go both raids and the Warrior and I would flip-flop.

I was cool with this (some days it really really sucked) but we were progressing on content even if I wasn’t at the front.  However I KNEW I was just one healer /gquitting from getting stuck in a healing role.  (Secret:  No I do not think Healing is “sissy”.  I understand how hard it is and I take care of my healers.)  I did not want to be the guy people looked at and sheepishly asked if I’d go to heals.

I bitched loudly about healing.  I cursed and made it known I hated it when I had to heal to get a raid off the ground.  I was two steps from being a big baby about it.  But I did not want to lose my spot as a tank.  (We don’t have a maintank spot and we still rotate).  Yes I was insecure.

You can fit 5-6 DPS in per raid.  2-3 healers (Secret:  We’ve almost always gone with 2.  Keeps us lean and mean).  Then lastly you can fit 2 tanks in per raid.  When you’ve got 4+ tanks in the guild it’s really easy to “lose” your spot even without anyone taking it.  Especially to healing.

Fast forward 2 years later.  I am a secure and vetted tank.  So secure that I’m able to offer up my spot for other tanks and I’ll come go as DPS on raids.  I’m cool sitting out raids so other people get some shots at gear and experience.  Last night I was even so secure I moved myself to heals to get our raid up and running.

I actually enjoyed it.  My Resto Druid partner did a great job on the raid with a few “extras” on the tank and me and my Beacon of Light took care of the tanks and I did a few extras on the raid.  I screwed the pooch once and I should have bubbled one of our rogues who got a little trigger happy, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.  Lower Spire plus Festergut and Rotface all went down smooth.  (We also had some great DPS who played smartly and that helped a bit).

My pre-raid warm up speech was basically, “I’m healing tonight.  You bitches better make this easy.  I’ve never healed ICC.”  And my raiders totally kicked ass.  Kudos to all 9 of them.

Some random observations I learned.

1.  WTF is it with all the steps and line of sight issues?
2.  Why does only mail SP gear drop?  And why is it better than my plate gear?  Srs.  Why is my Paladin wearing Shammy antlers on his head?
3.  The difference between a good Pally healer and a bad one is timing your heals.  Soon as I saw decimate being cast I’d queue up Holy Light to land right after decimate hits.
4.  Whose your Daddy?  Aura Mastery, that’s who.
5.  Healing in ICC is a lot of “nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing HOLYFUCKSHITSPAM”.

I had debated between the FoL vs the HoL spec.  I ended up going HoL, because fights like Marrowgar and Festergut seemed to lend themselves to it and those were the two fights I was worried about.  (One spec is big crit little fast heals, one spec is big slow mega heals with unlimited mana)

I found myself casting lots of Flash of Lights, but man it was nice to reach down and POUR out the heals with Holy Light carpet bombing when I needed too.  Going by our WoL I casted FoL Vs HoL on an almost 2:1 ratio.  If you add in Holy Shock, I may be on a 3:1 with HoL vs FoL/HoS ratio.  Man I don’t know if that’s enough to make me go grab the T9 4 piece and regem/respec.  I’m leaning towards doing it.

Most of our regular raiders are fairly geared and experienced (unless they go into “short bus” mode like last friday) so I’m not spamming heals constantly where HoL would be more attractive.

Dunno.  I had a blast and enjoyed the challenge.  I don’t want to make it a habit, but it wasn’t all that bad and I learned a lot.

I didn’t even yell at anyone.  Although I did ask “Why is there a small ooze in the middle of my raid?” once.  “My” raid…I’m such a prick.

Monday monday. Can’t trust that day.

Posted in General Me, WoW by mrfenris on April 19, 2010

It’s a monday.  One of my many bosses (my boss’s boss) gets an email from the two other Departments and a Federal rail road agency about a property they want cleaned up.

Said property has not been touched in over ten years judging by the tree growth (Secret:  Federal rail lines are exempt from State and City laws) and the Feds haven’t done dick with the property.  So I just know this property is going to be come a pissing match between three departments, the Feds are gonna tell us to go screw, and I’ll get stuck doing it.

So I’m out there cursing, standing in wet weeds and saplings, no doubt getting ticks in my balding hair, and snapping pictures of said property.  I am a stocky guy.  Oh sure I’m short and fat, but I’ve played sports all my life and I’ve got some muscle hidden under my blubbery ode to cupcakes.  I don’t startle or get intimidated by things too often.

I work in bad bad bad neighborhoods.  Crack houses, spooky empty warehouses, gang members, crazies, I deal with it all.  I’ve learned that if your firm, blunt, and act like you know what you’re doing people leave you alone.  I walk around like a guy in his Dockers and button downs is supposed to be there.  I’m aware, but I’m never scared.  You can’t ever show weakness.

So I’m taking pictures along this overgrown rail line, minding my own business, when I hear a sound to my left and the hairs on the back of my neck stand right up.  I turn and there about 20 feet away from me is the biggest Rottweiler I have ever seen.  This dog’s neck is as wide as tree trunk.  I look into his eyes, and he’s just staring at me, quietly and slowly walking towards me with his head slightly dipped.

Not much scares me, but I’ve seen that look before.  He doesn’t bark or growl, his shoulders and head are inclined and I just know he’s ready to come kick my ass.  I see there’s a hole in the fence he just came out of so I know he’s most likely just protecting his turf so I start to back away and get back in my truck.  I *know* if I had stood my ground or even spoke to him, he was a millisecond away from charging me.

That dog scared the piss out of me like he was some sort of force of nature.  Dog 1, Mrfenris 0.  Much respect dog.

People always say that there are stereotypical personality traits when it comes to tanks (and to a lesser degree healers).  People assume males are tanks, which is probably only true in regards to the fact that more males play WoW than females.  I’m not even going to get into the issue of female tanks because it’s a non-issue to me.  Male/female, you’re a tank, lets bang shields and get this shit done.

But there’s this image that people who play tanks are aggressive, bossy, direct, stubborn, and that they take command.  I don’t know how much I buy this.  (I may be some or all of those).

Instead I think there are unrecognized traits.  When you tank you’re at the front of the group.  Your job is to hold onto the mobs, not die, and set the pace your party moves through the instance.  This doesn’t take a “me smash!” mentality.

Instead I think responsibility, focus, and dedication are the key traits that make up most players whose mains are tanks.  Why do we not automatically think of these traits when we think of tanks?  Tanks understand the role they play.  They know if they screw up someone might die or the party might wipe.  Why aren’t they given any credit for being responsible?

Same goes for being focused.  A tank handles the pulls and makes adjustments as needed to keep their group moving through the instance.  Line of sight pulls for a group of casters, are we moving too slow for the groups playing ability, what adds are pathing this way?”  A good tank is focused on their immediate group as well as the group just around the corner that’s about to be “pet pulled”.

If you want to be a good tank just log in, throw all your points in your tanking talent tree, and get some “tanking’ gear.  If you want to be a GREAT tank, understand the core concepts of the game.  Then learn the core concepts of your class.  Understand the encounters and boss mechanics.  Understand other classes and what you need to do to adjust for them.  Gather different pieces of gear for different encounters.  An encounter with lots of physical damage?  Put on your armor kit.  An encounter with lots of magical damage?  Grab your high stam kit.  Read read read read.

Dedication to your class and role is the SINGLE most important thing you can do to being a tank.  It allows you to think on the fly, adjusting where needed, it allows you to survive things you “should” not.  It allows you to get your subpar group past what conventional wisdom says you can’t do.

Why is it when we mention the traits of tanks we never think of these things?  Instead we imagine them as some brash, bossy, hulk smash type.  I sometimes see these players.  These players are more in love with the idea that they play a tank.  9/10 times they are insecure, uneducated (in WoW), and fragile players who crack under pressure or responsibility.

Me?  I want someone who IS a tank.  Not someone who PLAYS one.

They are trying to kill me. I swear.

Posted in Gaming, WoW by mrfenris on April 17, 2010

After two years  people still can’t get out of the damn fire.  I have no idea why.  I figured it best to go right to the source.  Ladies and Gentlemen I introduce the one, the only, Teh Fire!

*applause sign*

Fire: “Thank you very much for inviting me!  I’m happy to be here!”

Mrfenris: “Of course.  Were happy to have you join us.  How are you this evening?”

Fire: “Oh man I’m better than ever.  I have a fantastic job and going to work is a treat.”

Mrfenris: “Lets talk a bit about your job.  I mean how many raid mechanics have had such a long career as you and your still as successful as ever at killing stupid ass players?”

Fire: “Oh I know MF, it’s amazing.  I think the key to my longevity and success is my focus on staying grounded.  I try to stay with what skills and talents got my into the raid encounter business.  I just have a really good work ethic.”

Mrfenris: “Right right.  That and there are still scores of stupid DPS that can’t figure out they shouldn’t stand in you…”

*crowd laughs*

Fire: *chuckles*  “Yeah that too.”

Mrfenris: “I mean it’s been what five years of killing players and you still do it the same way.  If they stand in you they die and wipe the raid right?”

Fire: *laughs* That’s right.  I think that’s truly the rewarding part.  I just change colors, sometimes I’m green, sometimes I’m purple, but I’m always still the same underneath.  If you stand in me you will die!”

Mrfenris: “So tells us a little about your next project, what do you have lined up?”

Fire: “Oh I’m so excited MF.  I’ve got an entire expansion of nothing but ELEMENTAL damage coming up in Cataclysm.  I can’t wait.  So six years later I’ll still be killing people who stand around in me and I think Blizz always comes up with new way to use me.”

Mrfenris: “That’s fantastic.  I’m sure you’ll be extremely popular when Cataclysm hits.  Fire I want to wish you best of luck and I hope there’s many more DPS deaths in your future.”

Fire: “Thanks MF.  That’s one thing you can be sure of.”

***

WHAT THE HOLY FUCK PEOPLE?

I understand making a mistake once or twice, but for the love of Jaina’s granny panties can we please pretend we have a fucking clue on something that’s been killing dumbass players since day freaking one?  I mean players know not to run out into traffic cus cars hurt right?  (Can we get that confirmed?)

So why the fuck can’t we figure out that standing in fire kills players and can wipe raids?

I swear after I quit this game and come back 20 years later, people will still be dying in the fire.  It boggles my damn mind.

This shit would make me drink if I didn’t already.

Tit wank is a stupid phrase.

Posted in General Me by mrfenris on April 16, 2010

I read horrible news stories.  It’s kind of my thing.  They’re the stories that some people will scan the headlines of and say “I can’t read that” or “I don’t want to know about that”.  Those are the ones I have to read.  Human beings try to carve out their little realities and stay safe within them.  They don’t want to know about the guy down the street who does horrible things.  They don’t want to think about the millions of children in our country (and world) who are abused daily.  They don’t want to think about the ugly side of life.  I understand that.  I don’t seek it out myself, but I acknowledge it and don’t hide from it when I come across it.

I think in order to truly treasure and value your place in the world you have to experience the uglier aspects of our lives.  I’m sitting here today thinking of dinner last night.  We went out to eat, shared a dessert, and had a great time.  I couldn’t look back on that happiness and give it any value if I wasn’t aware of the issues and “evil” (I use that word VERY loosely) in the world.  If I sealed myself off in an opaque bubble filled with my wants/job/family/status everything inside that bubble loses value and becomes a muted gray.  You lose perspective, context, and just have a shallow life with nothing to measure it against.

We could make the tired leap and say “You can’t have the good without the bad”, but that’s inherently understood I think.  It becomes an excuse all in and of itself.  It’s almost a version of the “No” trap in Zen philosophy.  Instead of understanding and feeling something you reflexively react with preconditioned thought.

I understand (some days I fail too) that I am a small part in this chaotic/perfect world. I have to see and sometimes touch the parts of it that disgust me and hurt in order to understand the depths of the wonderful parts.

The real trick is understanding that and “being” instead of “doing”.  That’s where the trap lies, between the two, in the gray place.

Melodrama is my lifeblood.  I blame my Hispanic genes.  We love that shit.

I become part of the monster I hate.

Posted in Gaming, General Me, WoW by mrfenris on April 15, 2010

This has probably been expressed elsewhere.  And better.  However this is what I’m worried about with the Star Wars MMO…It’ll be too easy.  There I said it.

No.  I am not in a hardcore raiding guild.  Yes I could function in one EXCEPT for my schedule.  I cannot raid as much or as long as most hardcore guilds.  (Nor do I want to.)

No.  I do not play the “hardest” classes in Warcraft.  I play a Paladin.  (As if any classes are hard to play).  Warriors spare me your QQ, because I plan on rocking face on my own Warrior in Cataclysm.  Keep tossing your tired hyperbole around.

No.  I do not play the “hardest” games out there.  I do not play EVE (since everyone seems to think that’s where the big boys play).  I do not play Shadowbane/thing/whatever it’s called where its open world PvP yadda yadda.

However I want a game that’s got some challenge in it.  I want to have a higher risk factor since that’s what makes me gravitate towards games.  Oh let’s be honest.  Video games are shallow things that are designed to let the players beat them.  At heart they are built to offer personal gratification and are in fact rigged from the get go to allow you to “win”.  I get that.

I want a game that’s got a smallish window for error.  I love fights in Warcraft where if one person makes a mistake it could mean a wipe.  I like being the guy that moves perfectly during an encounter and get’s his raid through the boss.  I want to be good because I’ve developed skills on my own.  Not because of a ramped down difficulty level that enables a god mode.

Granted my info about the Star Wars MMO is limited, but it’s already reminding me of Champions.  (Note:  I have not played Champions, but from the videos I’ve seen and heard it looks too easy even in the everyday questing.)  I want to be the guy that uses all my abilities to get through a three pack of mobs by the skin of my teeth, not to be the guy that stands there and gets gang-banged by all three yet still wins with more the 50% of his health.  (Leveling a rogue as Sub was FUN!)

I’m worried because legions of Star Wars fans will be attracted to SWTOR just because it’s Star Wars.  They want to spend a few hours playing virtual people they only wish they were, kill the bad guys and get some more cool Star wars epics (This is Master Windu’s greatgreatgreatgreatgreat grandpappy’s lightsaber *spurt*) to equip.  I do not care how these people play the game.  I care how they impact the game design.  I’m concerned that Bioware will have the difficulty ramped down so much that they can experience all the game’s content with minimal investment in learning about the game’s mechanics.  Yes I’m scared of the players being too casual.

Some dickwad, will be thinking “Oh you’re a hypocrite because you don’t play all games on Difficulty: Hell or you don’t PvP”.  Not true.  I’m not claiming to need SWTOR to be a complete nightmare slogfest to get through.  I need it to offer a challenge to me where I have to beat an encounter by using my brain instead of just being a fanboy/fanchic faceroll.

There’s a balance that I think can be maintained.  For example I think Blizzard did a very good job in the Wrath raiding cycle with design and difficulty.  Content was available for people who like all levels of difficulties and the average joe scrub could get into raiding, while the premier guilds had their own difficulties.  (Heroic ToC Gormak was stupid design FYI.  Zero Skill.)  I want something to aspire too.  I want something to work towards.

At worst I think SWTOR will be a great “single player” Bioware game.  Which means it will be awesome in terms of storyline.  What I’m worried about is the MMO aspect.  I feel slightly dirty for even mentioning, but I’m completely honest about it.

I’m worried the sucker wanksta fanboys/fanchics will drag down SWTOR.