Apparently it’s PvP week, here at Aggro Management. You had to know it was coming – my last two posts were largely positive, cheerful things, but as much as I am actually enjoying PvP (God, it feels so wrong to say it…) and rediscovering a class I’ve played for years, the more familiar I get with the game (specifically Warsong Gulch) the more annoyed I become at a few trends I’m just not understanding.

Should any of the following actually make sense to you, please do explain it. Some of it I’m pretty sure is just the standard PuG hazards. Other pieces may actually have some kind of reasoning behind them that I’m just not familiar enough with the game to get.

So, without further adieu, I present: Shit That Makes No Sense

Part 1. Pavlov’s PuG

Allow me to paint you a picture of the start of every. Single. Game.

You hit “Enter Battleground” when the message pops up and are promptly assaulted by the sight of an Alliance banner blocking your view of everything because you messed up your camera for Malygos back in the day and you can’t seem to un-mess it up. You titch to the side while Pitbull tries to decide if you’re a raid or a party. Approximately half of your group is num-locking into the doors, frothing at the mouth to get out there and die as quickly and uselessly as possible. The other half is not content to simply buff everyone for no mana – they have to spam every single spell they have. Someone’s using tranquility. Every mage in the room is Blizzarding. The pally is running around and consecrating everyone. Anyone who can’t cast a spell is jumping up and down and back and forth.

When the horn blows and the gates go up, for no reason that you can discern, the entire raid group pours out the door, mounts, and tears off through the graveyard and on their way across the midfield. “Okay,” you say awkwardly, “I guess I’ll go defence.”

You watch with a morbid fascination on the little map in the corner of your screen as what started as a blob of dots representing your allies inexplicably begins to fray at the edges, drawing out, splitting up, leaving pieces behind. There are dots all over the midfield now, each by itself, and maybe 4-6 left to go try to get the flag. That’s fine. That should be plenty. You know that for a fact, because at least five Horde have just come tearing up the alliance tunnel and are moving for the flag.

You grind your teeth as one of your team members managed to grab the Horde flag and charge the huge-ass, plate-wearing tauren aiming for your own. “For the Alliance!” you think, not without a tinge of bitterness, because your supposed allies have basically left you to try to defend the flag against five freaking level X9 tauren.

You can watch the rest from the graveyard, waiting for your rez. The Horde grabs the flag and heads out down the tunnel. The party guarding the Horde flag carrier will inevitably meet the Alliance flag carrier on their way back from the Horde base, now hopelessly whittled down to, at most, three people. Whatever Horde they managed to kill in the flag room have since rezzed at the graveyard and are now tumbling down over that cliff like a waterfall of death.

The alliance flag carrier gets sandwiched between the two halves of the Horde group, screaming obscenities at his own team as he dies. Some guy named Allysuck returns the Horde flag to its base. Fifteen seconds later some guy named Heresbeef caps the Alliance flag.

Part 2. The Part Where we Don’t Fix Anything

This makes the score 0-1 for the Horde, but there’s still 20 minutes left to the game and plenty of time to realize the mistakes of our past, organize ourselves, and actually, you know, win. Instead, the Alliance will do one of the following:


  • Abruptly lose all hope of winning because it is very obviously impossible and there is very obviously nothing we could have done differently. Half of them ditch immediately, leaving the battleground and a cloud of vitriol and hate in the chat in their wake. The other half decide the mid-field is a really good place to stay, and stay there for the rest of the fight, perhaps figuring since the entire group is obviously composed of retards and we’re never going to cap anyway, they’ll just farm HKs for the rest of the match – by which I mean give HKs to the vastly more organized, less defeatist Horde.
  • Do the exact same thing as we did last time, only now it works even worse, because we all died at different times and the concept of waiting to group up is apparently a foolish, foolish idea that would guarantee our deaths. So we just sort of…attack the horde base on a one-by-one basis. Three people will take the Horde flag and die two steps later within the space of as many seconds. In the meantime, the Horde have had time to confirm that yes, we are in fact a standard Alliance PuG, and they don’t actually need to send five guys anymore. They send two to three to rape me in the corner where I am stubbornly attempting to defend the flag. They will kill me again when I meet them at the end of the tunnel. And again when I chase them into their own tunnel, but not until they have killed whichever unfortunate team member has managed to pick up their flag and chosen to come down the tunnel at the exact wrong moment.

Either way, once the score switches to 0-2 for the Horde, the Alliance will kind of wake up. A sudden, startling realization will streak like lightning through the collective group – Holy shit, guys! We have a flag too! And we haven’t been defending it!

And so, now that there’s only ten minutes left in the game, and we absolutely need to get at least two caps if we want to win, which means we should probably actually be playing a bit of offence here, there will be eight alliance crammed in as tight as they can into the flag room, faces stern and serious, determined now to protect our flag at all costs. The same rogue who has picked up the Horde flag and dropped it again a hundred times continues to stubbornly stealth his way down the side of the field to try it again – no doubt already planning his epic, rage-fuelled swearing when he dies again because he didn’t get the support he never asked for. He’s also level X1 and no support in the world is like to keep him standing for long anyway.

“Okay,” says I, “I guess I’ll go O, then…”

The Level X1 rogue does not wait for me. He grabs the flag and dies just as I’m running into the base. “Fuck it,” says I. I jump on the bandwagon and down into the flagroom. I grab the flag, stun the pally guarding it, and make it halfway down the tunnel before I get raped by the entire Horde team, who are basically turtling now that they have two caps and we have none and their victory is more or less assured if they can just keep us from capping.

I am returned to my team’s side of the base, where we are also turtling, because we have zero caps and absolutely need to get two more to win, but we are not going to do that because everyone knows defence is the key to winning WSG.

We lose. The next BG group consists of largely the same people as the last one. Oh good, I think, they learned their lesson last time. Maybe this time they’ll…run out the door, mount as fast as they can, and make a desperate dash down the midfield for a flag they’ll never be able to keep. It’s cool, though. I know they’ll be back to turtle down with me once the Horde has two caps.

Conclusion

WTF?

Specced for Angst

On the day I decided I wanted Justicar, I was specced prot (naturally). Unfortunately, I was labouring under a misunderstanding about the nature of PvP – I believed it to be entirely about the “deeps,” because, after all, isn’t that what PvP is? Deeps deeps and more deeps?

So, after doing a couple WSGs to test the water and my own resolve, I decided to suck it up and do this thing right. No matter how much it pained me, I would respec into something deeps related, and take all those PvP talents I’ve always ignored. I went to my trainer, head down and shamefaced, and requested a respec. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry a little when all my talents went back into their pool, and I switched away from the protection tab.

I decided I would go Fury because waaaaay back when I rolled my first baby warrior, I was fury, and on my level 80 main (who used to be my first baby warrior), Fury is her sadly neglected off-spec. Also because I have been severely obsessed with dual-wielding since I was introduced to Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, with whom I have been madly, deeply in love my entire life.

My hunters dual-wield. My shamans dual-wield. My DKs dual-wield. My warriors, when they are not sword-and-boarding, dual-wield. It has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of the spec or whether it’s better than something else at what it’s supposed to do.

So, in the interests of Doing This Thing Right, before I started plunking my points down willy-nilly, I hit Google to look it up and oh my God, people are not friendly to Fury in PvP, are they? Forum thread after forum thread of people spewing bile at anyone daring to ask for spec recommendations for Fury in PvP, even after that person had explained that they know it’s sub-par, but it suits their play style, and that’s what they want to do.

And I thought raiders were picky.

Now, I fully support everyone playing the game however they want and fuck the forums, but there was a moment when I wavered and almost went Arms. They were just so…adamant that Fury had no place in PvP, and I really, honestly did want to Do This Thing Right, and I wanted to contribute, and I didn’t want to be that total noob bringing everyone down and making us lose the battleground.

But, in the end, two things kept me from going Arms – solidarity with my fellow it’s-my-game-I’ll-play-how-I-want brothers, and a lifelong crush on a bipedal mutated sea creature, who also happens to be a ninja.

Fuck the forums, I went Fury.

I settled on an interim spec and went back into the BGs, but for reasons I couldn’t entirely fathom, it wasn’t as fun as it had been the first couple times. I stuck with it for a whole two hours (so…4ish crushing losses and no rep), but I couldn’t take it. I died so easy. The rotation was escaping me, and as with anything at low levels, there’s no help to try to figure out what your rotation should be when you don’t have any fancy level 80 buttons and procs to work in. Then the crank started to kick in, and I went back to Google to figure out what I was doing wrong.

The answer was so simple it was mind blowing.

The problem wasn’t that I was Fury. The problem was that I wasn’t prot.

There, on the first forum thread I’d looked at, was my answer. “fruy sux do arm sor prto”

Out of the mouths of douchebags.

It had never once occurred to me that prot was a valid PvP spec. Not even after that funny little patch where Blizzard nerfed Prot warriors because they were “doing too much damage in PvP” and we all kind of laughed and looked at each other and wondered what the PvP warriors were doing differently than the PvE warriors given that I can’t generally DPS my way out of a paper bag.

I can haz respec, NAO!

First though, I tested it out. I loaded up my level 80 prot warrior and popped her T10-wearing-ass into the WSG queue. More on this later, but suffice it to say yes. Yes prot is totally viable in PvP. Unequivocally.

Clutching my precious, precious talents once more to my chest I flipped back to the only tab I should ever look at and began to pop them back into place using the Talent Preview option. It was actually kind of fun to resist the urge to instinctively put them where I always do. For the first time in a long time I sat down and carefully read each talent and re-considered its purpose in light of the different game I intended to play. Suddenly talents I have always turned my nose up at became not only viable, but integral. Improved Disarm, for example. Others that I wouldn’t have been caught dead without – Vigilance – were suddenly kind of lacklustre.

I lay them down where I thought they should go and double-checked my logic against a generally recommended spec. Things seemed to be in order, so I hit learn, and watched, with no small amount of relief and glee, the sudden insurge of yellow text announcing all my favourite abilities were once again back in my spell book where they belonged.

Someday, Fury, I will give you the time and attention you so richly deserve, but my shield remains my security blanket, and I refuse to go far without it.

Mobile Gnome

Did you know that nobody links the metres in PvP? I had gone probably five whole BGs before I realized it. At best somebody might crow if they top the “Damage Done” in the BG Summary at the very end, but even then not often.

In part, I suppose, the metres probably can’t track everything going on, given that me and half my party can be an entire map away from each other. And even the damage done at the end is not really an accurate measurement of what you did. If I stayed on defence the entire time (as I usually do) I could have very little damage done if the Horde never tries for the flag, or if they try for it with a massive army and I die before I can do much more than cry out in alarm.

It’s refreshing, in a way. The DPS in a raid are so tightly chained to the metres and what they say that sometimes I wish I could institute a No Recount policy, where everybody shuts it off or hides it and doesn’t look at it. Then maybe we could all focus on something else. Like, I don’t know, the fight or something.

The idea that damage is the most important thing in PvP appears to be a myth – at least at this point. Obviously damage is important and the more you can dish out the faster you kill things, and the faster you kill things the longer you live, the more you win, etc.. But it’s not the only thing, and I really don’t think it’s the most important thing. Know what matters more?

Mobility. And the ability to hamper the mobility of others.

I’m telling you. When I loaded into WSG on my 80 Gnome warrior it was music. Warbringer + 3 different charges (two on enemies, one on allies) + Concussion blow + Hamstring…shit couldn’t get away from me. When I’d tried at lower levels as fury, I could charge once, if I wasn’t in combat, hamstring them – if I didn’t miss – and as soon as the hamstring was off they were gone again. I swear to God I feel like I’m the only class in the game without some kind of speed-up mechanic. I could do nothing but stare at a rogue’s ass as he tore away from me with Sprint. And staring at rogue-ass isn’t usually that onerous a task, depending on the rogue, but you honestly just hate the fuckers so much in that moment that it takes all the joy out of it entirely.

Shortly thereafter their fucking poisons and bleeds will kill you. It’s cool, though. They’re waiting for you at the graveyard.

On my 80, fully specced and (admittedly) geared, I could charge and concussion blow, and when that came off and they stunned me and tried to sprint, I could push the yellow-button-with-a-foot-on-it-that-undoes-snares-if-you’re-a-gnome and then intercept them and fuck them up some more. And by the time they were ditching again charge would probably be off cooldown.

If I had the flag, I could leapfrog all the way home, charging a tauren coming at me, then intervening to one of my allies up ahead, then intercepting up to a rogue waiting for me at the tunnel.

This is all completely situational of course, and sometimes it works out cleanly and other times it doesn’t, but the potential, in that moment, was limitless to my mind.

And I couldn’t help it – every time I shattered a Tauren’s kneecap with Shield Slam, I thought of every big-ass-cow I’d ever seen named after the various ways to commit violence to gnomes, and felt absolutely vindicated on behalf of my people.

Not punting anything now, are you Gnomkilr?!

A Different Kind of Prot

Doing that one BG on my 80 confirmed for me that I never should have switched specs. I understand Prot. I know its rhythm. I understand the cadence of its priority list and cooldowns, I can recognize the cues with my eyes closed, I can apply every tool in its box to a given situation without having to completely relearn what I’m doing. Raiding may be different than PvPing in just about every conceivable way, but it’s ingrained certain reactions and all of my keybindings into my brain in a very permanent fashion.

Plus, it’s been nothing short of giddy glee to suddenly discover dusty old buttons I haven’t pushed in years – icons I’d grown blind to over the levels due to their near complete lack of usefulness in PvE.

Disarm. I have pushed this button here and there, from time to time, only if required, or I’m bored, and only if it’s been pointed out to me I can do it. I use it so infrequently in PvE simply because it works on almost nothing. I didn’t even think of it in PvP until the Horde was assigned the same five rogues in two consecutive battlegrounds. They roamed the map in a pack, stealthed and ready to sap. There would be lines of alliance fighters, laid out in a row, all sapped, one after the other, as they tried to cross the field.

Anyway, I wound up spending an entire fight disarmed, as fucking rogues popped into and out of existence again. There was a certain RP satisfaction to picturing my baby warrior (unfortunately not a gnome) sucker punching the fuckers as they destealthed long enough to stab me and put a bunch of bleeds on me before disappearing again. But RP satisfaction is where it ended.

The one good thing that came out of that is that I was disarmed long enough to grow cognizant of the fact that I had been disarmed and to remember, in turn, that I could do that too. Now, out of pure spite, I will disarm every rogue I cross blades with.

But it will never take away the shame of getting into and losing a fist fight with five invisible men.

Hamstring. In PvE? I just. Don’t. Bother. For one thing, I’m tanking, so I’m not even in the right stance to use it. For another, when would I need to? Again, there just aren’t that many situations where it’s required, and another class can do it faster and easier than me.

In PvP? It’s the second thing I put on them (please see the previous paragraph about sprint).

I’ve finally learned to stance-dance properly. Start in Battle so I can charge (until I get Warbringer, anyway), drop a concussion blow and a hamstring, then switch to Defensive and start bludgeoning their skull with my shield. Switch back to Battle as they try to run to charge them again.

I almost feel like, as I gain levels and more talent points and abilities and other goodies, I can unlock a whole side to Prot I’ve never seen before. In the absence of the need to stand in one place and generate threat, I’ve picked up a whole new host of abilities that are the exact opposite of standing in one place. I can dart here and there around a playing field – something I always enjoyed in the few encounters as tank where I’d get to do so – interrupting and silencing and stunning as necessary.

Instead of being the heavily armoured thing standing between my part and the Big Nasty that wants to smash them, I am the heavily armoured thing that is chasing you down to wring bloody justice from your corpse.

I’ve gone from Implacable to Inevitable.

From Immovable to Unstoppable.

I’m still protecting my allies. I’m still protecting the objective. But I’m doing it in a different way, with a different feel. It’s not a passive defence, it’s an active defence. Instead of sitting there and waiting for them to come to me and just taking it, I am actively hunting them down, chasing them down, seeking them out and, ultimately, making them pay (for…taking our flag. But that’s another post).

I have become a Justicar in truth*.

Only 124,000 more rep, and I’ll be one in title.

*Using the D&D sense of the word, which is what I’m assuming Blizz is going for…more like a cop than a judge.

Excuses, Excuses

With regards to the looooonnnngggg stretches between posts, suffice it to say that between the vagaries of real life, the fact that I am no longer reduced to a puddle of incoherent rage on raid nights (due to there no longer being raid nights for a while), and the general, all-encompassing state of Waiting-For-Cataclysm, I haven’t had a lot to say on the topic of WoW. I figured silence was better than boring everyone – a policy I will likely maintain in the future.

Trying New Things (TM)

In the gap between now and Cataclysm I have tentatively been Trying New Things (TM). Things like a Warlock. Which has been going surprising well, pet pathing issues not withstanding. Also, a rogue. That one’s not going so well. See, I have a 40ish rogue, and you might think, gee Protflashes, that’s really good given that your previous record was level 17 with that class. But then I’d be obliged to point out that between level 17 and level 40ish a guildie basically chain-dragged my heirloom wearing ass through instances, and…now I’m level 40 and my toolbar is a vast and desolate wasteland of buttons I don’t know how to use.

Combo points are scary, leave me alone.

I also started a new warrior, which has, of course, been going delightfully because that class, I can do. You might think that this doesn’t really constitute under the Trying New Things (TM) thing I’ve been doing, and you would have been right up to a point.

But at level 40 I decided I wanted a title. In fact, I set my heart on a title. It is no longer a case of want. I absolutely have to get this title for this character. It is perfect for him. He must have it. He will have it.

I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently I picked the hardest fucking title in the whole god damned game. Nor was I fully cognizant, when I first chose it, that it doesn’t exactly happen in my neck of the woods, so to speak.

The title I am so dead set on earning for myself – cue drum roll – is Justicar.

Cue three-year-old temper tantrum – IwantitIwantitIwantit!

For those who don’t know, earning the Justicar title involves grinding to Exalted with three old-world Factions, each associated with one of the three old world battlegrounds (Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, Alterac Valley).

Battlegrounds…you know…PvP.

That thing I don’t do. The Land of No Tanks.

Okay, says I, no problem. I just have to get rep with the three vanilla PvP factions. Easy peasy. I did Warsong Gulch for a little while years ago. Even Arathi Basin once or twice when I was feeling brave. They give these little tokens, whether you win or lose, and you just hand those in for rep.

All I need to do, I told myself, oversimplifying in the interests of curbing the ever-present combination of fear and derision PvP invokes in my chest, is grit my teeth, suck it up, die a froopopapilliion times, and boom! Justicar.

I did some “research” into the title, which consisted of looking at a single forum thread and confirming that Warsong Gulch is the hardest one to get. So I decided to start with that one (having only two options at level 40ish). If it’s the hardest to get rep from, let’s get it out of the way before the novelty wears off. Plus it’s the only one I can really say I have any degree of understanding of since I have actually done it before (however poorly).

So I hit H, pop into the queue and three seconds later I’m in a game already in progress. Approximately three seconds after that – I’m not even out of the flagroom yet – I am assaulted with a summary screen that I vaguely remember means the game is over.

Did I mention I’m Alliance? Apparently we don’t win much.

Anyway, I shrug and think smugly to myself: fastest token ever. I open my bags and begin to look for my little thing I can hand in for rep. There’s nothing in my bags even remotely resembling a PvP token.

Vague memories of a set of patch notes saying blah blah blah tokens blah blah blah rep blah blah blah sucks to be you.

Queue panic.

I head for Google again, this time intending to look a little closer at just why this title is supposed to be so hard to get. Apparently the tokens I was banking on no longer exist.

The only way to get rep with the Silverwing Sentinels is by capturing the flag. 35 rep per capture, 45 on a Call to Arms weekend.

To put this into perspective for you, I have been stubbornly PvPing since I decided I want this title (all of a week or two now), and of somewhere between 50 and 100 games I’ve played, the vast majority of them end with a score of 0-3 for the Horde.

I can play a game for 30 minutes and the Alliance will not cap a single flag. If we don’t cap, I get no rep. I’m not just talking about a possibility, here, I’m talking about something that happens on a regular basis.

I added up the total of what I will need to get the title – basically 126,000 rep, split across the three factions. I’m currently at 1700ish. I’m not even Friendly with Silverwing.

I’m going to be at this a while.

Fish out of Water

So far I’ve only tried my hand at Warsong Gulch. I recognize I’m going to suck for a while (maybe even forever), but I’d rather not suck because I’m an idiot and couldn’t be bothered to at least look up what I’m doing. Long years of raiding have taught me that a bit of research goes a long way, especially in a PuG where one out of a hundred might actually be willing to take the time to explain something to you.

I already knew the basics of WSG, I read the article in the last WoW Magazine, I hit up WoWWiki and took a look at what they had written down in terms of tips, hints, and general strategies for winning.

It’s a shame that the strategies employed by the groups I’ve played with resemble absolutely nothing I’ve read….

I’m nowhere near experienced enough to start actively speaking up with regards to strategies or making statements about what we should or should not be doing in the chat itself, but the lack of communication, coordination, and common sense is already causing my raid-lead-instincts to twitch. I have, on several occasions, begged for someone to give me instructions. I have also gotten into at least three or four fights with people over the severe lack of utility inherent in waiting until you are dead and the flag has been returned to scream for some kind of support. Also over throwing in comments about teamwork, when you’re the twit who sauntered off down into the Horde base alone, without a word to the rest of us, as we desperately beat back a wave of five rogues, three shamans, and a fucking priest in our own flag room.

PvP is a chaotic, dirty game, and it’s so incredibly not the one I’m used to playing. There’s no real leadership in the PuGs. Even in a PvE dungeon PuG, the pace still needs to be set by the tank pulling and going in first. Even if there’s no official leader, there’s a recognized order to events that should be observed if one does not wish to die in a fire.

In PvE the strats are static, inflexible things. You find one that works with your group make-up and skill level and you fucking stick to that thing like glue. If anyone deviates from it you bark and snarl and nip at them like you’re herding sheep back into place. Everyone has a fairly rigid role in any given fight, responsibility is compartmentalized, assigned out to individuals, and is down in the weeds in terms of details. The field of play may change, but it does so at predictable, regular intervals.

In PvP – and take this with a grain of salt, for they are the words of a noob – there are strats (that nobody follows, but hey), but they are in no way inflexible. They can’t be. The field of play in PvP is a big roiling mass of players, doing whatever suits their fancy right now, in this moment, because honestly? I’m dead in two seconds anyway. So, assuming you have some kind of coordination, your strategy becomes a very high level, agile thing. Instead of a list of chronological events and the required reactions (PvE), it’s more like a priority list – a series of “if, then, else” statements. All the pieces are moving, all the time.

Biggest adjustment for me? Well, actually, there are two. The first is that there are no tanks. There is no threat. “Aggro” is gained through an arcane mechanic involving some combination of how easy you are to kill, whether you have the flag or not, and whether some jack ass on the other side has decided he’s going to pull your damn pigtails for the next thirty minutes, by which I mean detour unfailingly to beat the shit out of you behind a bush somewhere, not ten feet from the flag carrier he’s supposed to be caring about.

In fact, it almost works the exact opposite of the way it does in PvE. In PvE, aggro is gained by being the most threatening thing in the field of play. In PvP, we’re all a bunch of damn cowards. If I have a choice between chasing down a level 49 paladin, bristling in platemail, with a big-ass two-handed sword, and his bubble off CD, or a level 42 priest wearing Kleenex and standing all by her onsies off to the side in the hopes of avoiding notice….

I know who I’m going for. Sure the pally will kill me in the end anyway, but I’m taking that priest with me. An eye for an eye, an HK for an HK.

The second, and perhaps hard difference to wrap my mind around, is that life – any life; yours, theirs, whatever – has no value whatsoever. In PvE, success can actually be very generally described as living. The more people alive at the end of a fight, the better you did. If you die, you lose. You eat massive repair bills. You gimp your raid group as they try to finish the fight without you. There are heavy consequences for death.

In PvP you are put on this earth for one thing and one thing only, and that is to cause as much bloody inconvenience to anyone with a red name over their head as you possibly can before you go down in a blazing ball of poison, fire, and fucking DoTs. This whole process will take a grand total of – at maximum – two minutes. Within a maximum of 30 seconds you will be rezzed, automatically, at no personal cost to yourself or anyone else (whether monetary or manatary), and are free to rain destruction down upon your enemies for another two minutes.

Assuming you can get past the rogue camping the graveyard, but you get the idea.

There are no consequences for dying. Not only is it not the end of the world that you die, it’s part of the game. If you never died, it’s sort an eyebrow raising, where-were-you-when-shit-was-going-down-in-the-tunnel kind of thing. It happens, of course, but it is fairly rare to my inexperienced eye.

Nobody notices. Nobody mourns. Nobody screams and rants and rails. You don’t even care. Sometimes I actually find myself muttering “hurry the fuck up and kill me already so I can get back to my own base and fuck up the EFC before he gets off the ramp”. Or, in the case of a caster, so they can get their mana back.

The whole thing – the flexible nature of PvP strategies, the lack of sole responsibility for controlling where damage is coming and going (i.e., tanking), the complete and total renouncing of my overactive sense of self-preservation – is at once frightening and exhilarating; it’s strange and incredibly chaotic and it all feels so, so wrong…

But I think I like it.

And that scares me more than anything else.

Layteknight and I were chatting about Cataclysm the other day (who isn’t these days, I guess). The conversation ran the gamut:


  1. Cataclysm is a panacea that will heal all wounds, give sight to the blind, raise the dead to the living, and cause the lame to walk again!
  2. Lifegrip sounds very, very, very dangerous. I trust Blizzard, I do. But man. I spend most of my time in a group screaming for the DPS to run toward the tank if they pull aggro. Reinforcing the awayness of their usual plans doesn’t seem wise to me. To say nothing of apparently removing even the small personal responsibility the DPS have traditionally had for staying out of fire / watching their aggro.
  3. I was really excited by the class previews, then read them, then realized I won’t actually understand how any of that is supposed to work until I can physically press the buttons, then was generally pouty and bored with them.
  4. We are not excited at the moment about 80-85. At all. We are excited about getting 1-60 back and playing it again and having it be new. I cannot wait. I can haz alts!
  5. Manifold goblin/worgen class combinations and which we would play and how we would play and so on and so forth.
  6. Then we looked up the Goblins – did you know their intelligence is pale in comparison to their race’s old smarts? And that they’re losing it more and more every generation? This is why their shit blows up – they’ve got the old schematics, but they no longer understand how it actually works. This is fascinating to me.

So then I started thinking about Goblins. I have long liked the Goblins as a foil for the Gnomes. Forget Horde/Alliance, the real conflict for me has always been Goblin vs. Gnome. It started when the option was first put to me to be a Goblin or a Gnomish engineer – complete with the following descriptions:

You want to know about Goblin engineering? Try asking one of their best and brightest engineers about it – I think his name is “Nubby Stumpfingers.” Want to know why he’s named that? THAT’S Goblin Engineering. (Ringo Tragediction, Gnome Engineer)

Know that feeling you get when you finish making something and turn it on for the first time to experience the power and joy of invention as your device springs to life? Gnomes don’t. (Nixx Sprocketspring, Master Goblin Engineer of Gadgetzan)

There was just something in those quotes that described in fantastic detail to me the rivalry between the two races. That was the moment I gave in and picked a side. I was immediately and properly offended I had even been offered the choice. I was a Gnome. What did they think I was going to pick?

And I harbor a secret hate for Goblins and Goblin engineers to this day. I turn up my nose when I pass the Goblin trainers. I get huffy when I see other players – God forbid a Gnome – talking to them. I named my Mechanostrider “Goblin Killer 3000.” It’s like the rivalry between two schools in the same town – and I bought into it hardcore a long time ago.

The place where this conflict plays out most obviously in game is in the Shimmering Flats, at the Raceway. I just…can’t deal with this place – it’s too awesome. Long, long ago, when I first started playing, someone told me about it and I walked (waaaaayyyy before mounts at 20) all the way there from Dun Morogh just to see it.

There’s a gnome camp, with their unnecessarily mechanical houses, and their gadgets, and their win. And a Goblin camp, with their pineapple wallpaper and far too many explosives in one place, and their other-kind-of-win-that-I-have-arbitrarily-decided-is-fail. And they’re racing each other to prove who’s inventions are better (the results of the races are also obvious if you know where to look, embedded in the stone walls around you).

Less. Than. Three.

But we’re losing the Shimmering Flats in Cataclysm – more accurately, they’re supposedly becoming a great big lake (/sob…my mining run in 1KN…how will I farm mining now?!). So where will the Goblins and the Gnomes find an outlet for their rivalry? Especially now that they’re actually on opposite factions?

But then I was thinking…

That’s how Blizzard could get me into PvP (which I happen to believe is one of their ultimate, super-secret goals – get Protflashes to PvP). I don’t care about the Horde vs. Alliance conflict because I think it’s massively short-sighted and completely ill-advised given the many, many, many, many, MANY shared enemies they have, whose main goals seem to be the destruction of all life on Azeroth.

But Gnomes vs. Goblins?

Fuck YES!

I will be the first person in the queue for that battleground. Hell, I’m already embroiled in that particular faction war. I want to Gnomish Death Ray a Goblin. I want to so bad. If I’m honest, I always have.

It’s just a stupid little subplot playing out in the grand scheme of things that is Warcraft, but I honest to God care about it. Maybe just because it’s one of the first sub plots I stumbled into. Maybe because Engineering was my first and my favourite profession. Maybe because it makes more sense to me than Horde vs. Alliance.

But what it means is that I don’t care if I die a million times, I don’t care if it means I have to learn WTF Resilience is, I don’t care if it means having to research ratings and how to get them.

I would get to Gnomish Death Ray a Goblin.

For Gnomeregan!

Darling;

Let me just preface this letter by stating outright that I love you. You know I do, I always have. You keep me safe on Defensive, obey my orders on Passive, and attack everything in sight including the murloc way over there on aggressive. I know you would like to be on aggressive more often, but, darling, you know how I feel about murlocs. Especially when my quest is for gnolls.

And I want you to know that the rather delicate issue I am about to raise does nothing to change my feelings for you. We’ll always have RFK, darling, I’m sure you remember. You tanked the whole instance that one time because the lovely warrior the LFD gave us seemed to think he was DPS. How many Voidwalkers do you know even get to see an instance? It was your chance to shine, and you truly did.

You will always be my favourite non-armour-wearing tank, you know that, but I have to ask…

Must you frolic when I am trying to kill monsters? This is serious business, darling. When I press CTRL+1 I want you to terrorize the damn thing, not spin it hither and thither, leaping and dancing and pliéing your way across the map.

FFS, darling, FFS.

Also, why do you carry it so far away? While it’s true I’m a ranged DPS, the fact remains there is a range to my range, if you see what I’m saying. I recognize I could perhaps start the fight from further away than I do, and that that may, in fact be advisable. But it’s hard, darling, what with me spending 90% of my play time in plate armour. Still, I feel 15-20 yards is perfectly reasonable when it’s just the two of us, and while I appreciate your concern at me standing so close to the monster, I really don’t think it’s necessary for you to pick the poor creature up while I’m trying to DoT it and carry it as far away as possible…

…and into that camp of murlocs way over here.

You know how I feel about murlocs, darling.

In closing, let me say this: you are my darling Voidwalker, my first tank, my lovely blueberry, and the only reason I don’t spend more time with my lovely clothie face in the dirt…but if you don’t fix your pathing problems, Yazfip is going to be getting a lot more playtime.

Love and kisses,

Protflashes

Also possibly because I ran out of time to write a real post:

A PuG’s an iffy, frightful thing at best,
Scarce worth the effort that it takes to run,
The drooling savage beats upon his breast,
And into pieces shatters all your fun.
“Link the metres!” cry the horrid beasties,
Frothing to see if they top o’erall.
Woe to those who issue stern entreaties,
To stop with all the fucking “gogolawl”.
Perhaps you wonder: why join at such cost?
‘Cause PuG or not – I want my Goddammned Frost.

So in the spirit of the Cycle of Burnout, I’ve moved from the “Sight of the Log-In Screen Makes me Burn Like the Sun with Resentment” Phase to the “Life is So Much Better Without WoW” Phase, and am currently entering the “Hmmm, I Wonder what my Warlock’s Doing Now” Phase.

I’m not quite ready to jump back into the fray entirely, but I’m getting there. More importantly, I miss my blog. Yes I do. Who’s a cute little bloggie? Who’s my cute little blog? You are! Yes you are!

/pet Blog

Anyway…

I half-took the very good advice of those of you who posted on my last Burn-Out Post (and though I’ve epic failed at responding to comments like I said I would, I read them all and they all helped me sort out my brain quite a bit). Probably should have taken it in full, but taking good advice is like eating healthy. I know I should do it, I know I will feel better for it in the long run, but God damn I want that burger.

In the end I wound up pretty much cutting out all WoW with the exception of the pre-committed raid/group nights (roughly three a week), and put certain plans in motion that will free me of the majority of those commitments at some point in the next few weeks. Knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel has done wonders for relieving the stress it was causing me.

Specifically, I took the advice of the lovely Tamarind, acknowledged that I am not the only tank in the village, and shacked up with Garrus for a while. It has been a much needed break from the grind.

Aside: if you haven’t played the Mass Effect games yet, you probably should. Like, for real. Even if you don’t like sci-fi/games where you shoot people instead of stab them. It has been a very long time indeed since a game absorbed me quite so completely as that one did. Also, it’s got Garrus. Garrus is win.

Though now that I’m starting to consider playing WoW as my main game again, I’m facing an intriguing conundrum – when I finally get back up to my computer room, load up the log-in screen, and hit “Enter World”…what do I do with myself? If I actually manage to extricate myself from the world of raiding and pre-determined commitments, and having to grind various resources in order to even play, what is there to do?

What did I do before I raided? What did I do before I heavily engaged in large-group play? Has it honestly been so long that I have trouble remembering?

I played alts, I know that much. But I was to the point where I’d look at my alts and see nothing but potential subs for our raids, possible buffs, useful professions – not a class, not a character.

What were my goals for them before they became little more than tools? When I first rolled them?

Did I ever really just play this game for shits and giggles?

Looking at my character screen kinda feels like I’ve just woken up. I blink and stare blearily at the list and go: Oh! Oh my God! That’s a Shaman! Not a melee-DPS slot, healer in a pinch. And holy shit! I’ve actually GOT a hunter there! Not just a ranged-DPS/kiter when required. And even the multitude of various tank-specced characters inhabiting that list have gone from being “alt-tanks for other raid groups if required” to being “my pally, my warrior, my druid, my DK”.

I’ve got my babies back.

The timing couldn’t be better, either. Last speculated date I heard for Cataclysm was September/October. That means I’ve got the summer to make whatever preparations I need to in order to be ready to jump right into Cataclysm at the points I want to – and I can enjoy the ride while I’m at it. I want to make sure I’ve got a few options at 80, on the Alliance and the Horde (one more 80 should do it. Maybe I could get my priest up…), a few options around level 40ish, and a few slots open for alts because while 90% of the rest of the game is running from 80 to 85 I fully intend to be picking Peacebloom in Elwynn or mining copper in Durotar and seeing what changes Blizzard’s made to the 1-60 game (which has long been my favourite part, no matter how stale it got after making the run 2 347 439 times).

Oh yeah, and I want a Worgen and a Goblin, because I have some kind of Pokemon complex.

I think I’d like to get either my rogue or my warlock into the 60 bracket a minimum, because I’ve never actually gotten either one past 20 under my own power. My rogue currently sits in the 40 bracket, but levels 20-35 were basically one big boost which means I don’t understand how to play him and that’s bad. They remain the two classes I’ve never gelled to in terms of playability.

I’d also like to get my mage into the 70 bracket. I don’t know if I have enough time for that, though. She’s in the 60 bracket, so not far off, but as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I spend a lot of time dead as a mage.

And the best part is, whatever I manage to achieve from that list, I won’t be doing it for the group. I won’t be doing it for the raid. I won’t be doing it for the guild. I’ll be doing it for me. And as selfish as that may be, I think it’s a lot of what I’ve been missing lately.

Oh Shits and Giggles, how I’ve missed you!

After a long, long run of tear-out-your-eyes boring old content farming, we (as a guild) finally stepped into ICC-10.  It’s still very new for me right now, so I’m in this kind of weird state where I haven’t actually formed a real opinion of the experience overall, but, nevertheless, I’ll share with you my first impressions.

I apologize in advance for the randomness, but…this is the internet, so *shrug*.

The good

a. The gunship battle is incredible fun.  Savethefails mistakenly triggered it early the first time and we all died horribly thereafter as we ran around like chickens with our heads cut off (hilarious!), but once we got the hang of it it was a blast.  Seeing the Horde ship fly in with Muradin yelling (Ulduar and HoS spoiled me for dwarves narrating instance and raid events — they are just too awesome to hear over the comm) at us to get our butts in gear…  Really epic.

b. Trash.  Trash means greens for DE and possible BoE epics, so I love trash.  It’s refreshing to see it again after months of boss loneliness in TotC! Plus, all the mobs in ICC grant you rep with some faction you can get neat stuff from; as much as heroics got boring fast, I did appreciate using them for rep grinds, so I’m pleased to be working towards something again (besides downing the next boss). 

c. Getting useful badges again.  So many of my little-played alts have full-on heirloom gear, and that’s a bad sign — it means I’ve been doing less-than-optimal content for a really long time.  But not any more!  ICC bosses drop Emblems of Frost, which must otherwise be acquired through the weekly (only 5, and only once per week), VoA (assuming you ever nail WG down at a time when you can get into VoA), or by running a heroic every day (difficult when you have time constraints IRL or no real drive to heroic dive).  Suddenly that fourth piece of T10 is not so much the stuff of dreams…

d. The raid group seems to have a bit more energy now that we’re into something new.  People talk on Vent — not a lot, sure, but it’s better than silence — and actually express joy when a boss goes down.

e. No incredibly annoying boss mechanics (yet).  That is…with the exception of phase 2 on the Lady, where occasionally one of the adds turns into some mutated fellow that the tank has to kite around but keep threat on.  That’s upsetting.  That aside, though, I rather enjoyed the fights (especially Saurfang, where we had a somewhat less-than-ideal class makeup to work with where the Bloodbeasts were concerned and yet still managed to do well) and am looking forward to seeing some new, original boss mechanics in future wings.

The bad

a. Because everything is new, the raid leader talks over the bosses in-game all the time and I (as a result) haven’t yet had the pleasure of actually hearing any of them speak.  I like boss speech, I dunno; it’s just one of those things I always look forward to when we do new content.  This becomes incredibly important in cases like, say, downing Saurfang — I’m sure something Ultra Mega Important was going on between the NPCs after the battle went down, but I could not hear a peep over the loot raid warnings and the people asking about whether or not what dropped was an upgrade.

b. Really short distances between bosses.  This is more a matter of personal preference than any kind of legitimate concern, but, there’s something about walking into a raid and being able to SEE the first boss RIGHT OVER THERE that just makes me raise an eyebrow.  What happened to suspense?  Anticipation?  The presence of trash at the start got me hopeful for a bit, but afterwards it felt like a string of bosses.  There was a bit of a jog at the top of the elevator after the Lady, but still…  Maybe I miss Naxx.  Or Kara.  I’d like the building to feel more like a building, but, at the same time, without boring the crap out of people with endless trash.  Tricky…

c. The traps in the room before Marrowgar (if I remember correctly — which I may not).  That’s just…ass.

d. I wish I didn’t have to go to my specific tier vendor in order to repair.  I mean, there’s a guy using an avil & hammer RIGHT THERE.  Does he just not like the way I look?

The ugly

a. Everything that drops in ICC is an upgrade for at least half the raid.  This is awesome, to be sure, but it also means we’re likely to have to wait a while before we can move to another wing.  That’s a shame, as I’m afraid this first wing will get boring quickly once we’ve covered it for a few weeks, and there may or may not be time to try our hand at the next before the summer rolls around.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed — I’d like to check out those plague bosses!

b. Rogue T10.  Hahahahahahaha, suckers!

I am made of fail at commenting the last couple weeks – even at responding to comments on my own blog! I’ll get around to it at some point this week hopefully.

This isn’t helped by the fact that with the addition of SAN into my feed reader…well…let’s just say I’m keeping up, but barely. But there’s something deeply satisfying in knowing almost every time I refresh Google reader there’ll be something new, insightful, thought-provoking, amusing, and unfailingly entertaining.

On the upside, I discovered the “Star this post” option in Google reader a while back and have happily been starring away at posts I truly intend to comment on, but never get around to it. In lieu of said comments (which may yet materialize! I haven’t given up completely!), here’s a sampling of the posts I’ve starred (note: some of these may be older, but they’re still wonderful posts and definitely worth a read):


  • Expert Opinion on how to improve World of Warcraft – /agree completely
  • Don’t-Quit-Your-Day-Job Holy Paladin PvP – PvP, like RP, remains an aspect of the game I am completely unfamiliar with, but occasionally fascinated by. A very common sense set of tips from a PvE healadin on the basic brain-shifts required for PvP.
  • Sing, Azerothian Muse and A Whole New World – both starred for the intriguing insights into the differences between the Alliance and the Horde and what it means/feels like to be a member of either.
  • Tamadin – a painfully amusing look at the pally as a tank, from the perspective of the healer playing it.
  • Battling the Burnout – another look at burnout in WoW. In particular I find the idea of a burnout cycle, and the potential of being stuck in one forever, interesting.
  • Don’t go wasting your emotion – another Righteous Orbs post that hits dangerously close to home. Did a bit of a double-take and took a closer look at my own reactions to things after reading it.
  • Can someone offer the LK a lozenge? – because I’ve had this same issue on more than one boss, and though I doubt I’ll ever see the LK I am disappointed in advance. He’s the final bad guy, not just of this expansion but of the game to date! Crank it up a bit, Blizz!
  • If Thrall and Jaina Made a Baby – because Thrall and Jaina are totally making a baby.
  • Of WoW and languages – there are apparently a LOT of different languages in SAN-EU, and we’ve had some intriguing discussions in the forums and guild chat about linguistics.
  • There’s a better way – think before you comment. A very measured post regarding tone.
  • Purple-side Maraudon – this post is made of too much win.

Une petite poste pour remercier les membres du SAN (et ceux qui font commentaire sur mes postes de « World of Frenchcraft ») – en particulier ceux qui parlent avec moi en Français, même si vous savez seulment peu des mots. Vous avez été très patient avec moi, et votre aide et soutien sont vraiment apprécié.

Merci beaucoup!

Note : This post was written without the aid of a Francophone, over the course of a good thirty minutes, and is therefore subject to extreme linguistic errors. No dictionaries were harmed in the writing of this post; however, my Bescherelle almost went into the shredder before I realized I was actually speaking in present-tense for once and didn’t need it.

In case I mangled the translation worse than I think I did, suffice it to say that I’m extremely grateful to everyone who’s read my Frenchcraft posts and enjoyed them, to those who’ve taken the time to comment, and to those who’ve actually been willing to speak to me in French (whether it’s just a “bonjour” when I log on, or a more detailed conversation in whispers or the SANfr channel) – to say nothing of those who kindly put up with my French item-links in the guild chat. ^^

/hug to all of you. This would be so much harder and astoundingly less fun without you.

Also note: I do have an actual real Word of Frenchcraft post in the works, just haven’t had time to pull my thoughts together on it. Soon…ish…

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