10 Stacks of Determination

My raiding guild went into Uldir to get the achievement Glory of the Uldir Raider. I just happened to be free that night, so I tagged along for the experience. Like most meta achievements, this one grants a new in-game mount that you can show off to people who aren’t lucky enough to be part of a successful raiding guild.

Bloodgorged Crawg

All of the achievements that are required to get the raid-wide meta were pretty straightforward. We only had to reset the boss (pulling them out of the room the fight is supposed to occur in usually achieves this goal) a few times in order to get all of them, and so we ended up with the mount at the end of the day’s run.

On the last boss (G’huun – wowhead, blizzardwatch) several people voiced the opinion that they hated that fight. I know why they hate it. It is a fiddling, unforgiving fight when it comes to getting the mechanics down correctly. You have to understand how far you can throw the power matrix in the fight. You have to know which ground effects do what, where to stand and which effects can be damaged and removed by you. You have to know which adds to focus on and when. It is a complex fight.

I love that fight. I love it because the fight can’t be bulldozed. It is frustrating and it is unforgiving, and I love it. I love it either in spite of or because of the fact that I could reliably be summoned into that fight in Looking for Raid (LFR) when it was the end of progression in Battle for Azeroth, the current expansion for World of Warcraft. I love it because if you simply understand the mechanics of the fight and can execute them correctly, you can defeat the boss without too much trouble. Most probably I love it because most World of Warcraft players hate it, and would rather quit raiding than have to work that hard to defeat a boss.

In LFR, G’huun was a test of fire. We went through thousands of players in the cumulative months that G’huun was the last boss in the expansion, thousands of players joining and quitting while I and the other determined players just waited for that right random group of newbs to come along that could understand that the fight wasn’t about killing the boss. It was about satisfying the mechanics of the fight so that you could get the privilege of facing off against the boss. Dozens of newbs at a time would show up and complain not this boss, and then bail out.

Some of them had done the boss before that week. I know there was a few times I was one of them. When I was tanking on my Druids Tarashal or Tharthurm, I almost never got to kill the first boss of that wing of the raid before having to tank G’huun, the final boss. Tanks never have to wait to get into a raid. Almost never. No one ever wants to tank and few players want to heal. I play Druids most often these days precisely because I can fulfill any required role in the fight. Taunting, damaging, or keeping players alive. I don’t really care which role I get to fulfill just as long as I get to play.

It is those others, those players that only want to play characters that can inflict damage that are the bane of LFR. If you play a class that can only deal damage, your queues are anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, just waiting to be summoned into an instance. And yet, after having to wait an hour they would see it was the last boss and not the first one, and they would bail on the fight. Half of those players could have done at least one of the other two roles in the fight, but refused to take that kind of responsibility, thusly making the damage queues even longer by not checking off the box that says “yes I’ll heal” or “yes I’ll tank”. It is those players disgust at having to do something complex that they didn’t want to have to learn, even though they clicked on the raid finder and signed up to do that raid. Their disgust at having to do that fight one more time. It gave me an inner glow.

When I said I loved this fight in raid chat that night with my raiding guild, I misspoke. I said that I kicked thousands of players from the fight and that was why I loved it. I probably only initiated kicks on dozens of players. Trolls. Elitists. Whining complainers. I kicked dozens of those. Shut up and do your job or leave. It is really just that simple.

Uncomfortable conversations.

Uncomfortable conversations are why I don’t like talking as much as I like writing. I kicked dozens of players for saying things like this fight is easy. For castigating healers for letting them die. For blaming the tanks for wipes, especially when I wasn’t the tank. If I’m tanking, and someone says you suck I just leave the group. This is especially true if we’ve killed a boss or wiped on a boss previously in the group. If you’ve done either of those in the group before you leave, you can leave without getting the 30 minute coward debuff. Tanks get right back in another raid, so why stay where you aren’t wanted? Aside from which, the group you just left will wait an hour for another tank to show up. Waiting through dozens of trolls that get bored and pull the boss just for kicks, or in the mistaken belief that 10 stacks of determination would give them the buff they needed to beat the boss. I’ve met a few of those in this expansion. 10 stacks of determination and we can beat him! Not this boss.

It was when I was tossing power matrixes on Benelbur that I realized I loved the fight. There were several times I would be sitting alone with that Gnome Mage just waiting for twenty-four other players to show back up and try again. There was one time when we had the smoothest crew on power matrixes and we couldn’t get a tank that could deal with the complexity of the fight down on the floor. We went through three sets of tanks before we had one guy who was well geared enough to do it alone, and we knew we could get the origination beam to fire and the real fight to begin. That made all those hours of work that day worth the trouble. I made new friends that day, as I did most days when I found someone else who was willing to take the time to master a task for the sheer pleasure of it.

Those were my best friends when I was drafting for a living, too. Those people who were not afraid of learning CAD. People who were not threatened by something new they didn’t understand. Those people are treasures to me. They don’t need ten additional stacks of determination because they were born with ten stacks of their very own. Just point them in the right direction and get out of the way, because they will figure out what needs to be done and get it done if you simply give them the space to do it in.

An Empty Heart

I’ve known a simple fact about MMO programmers for awhile now. They don’t understand why people have more than one toon to play in the first place. In their eyes, you play your one character and you only play that one character. You are, after all, only one person. One player.

As if any of us is really only one thing all the time.

They may understand a player wanting to be self-sufficient in gameplay, but it is their goal to keep you from being self-sufficient. They want you to trade with other characters directly or buy off the auction house. If you are a regular raider you will end up relying on your guildmates to help you because you will have no choice. The programmers and developers want it to be this way; and really, MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online. There is no point in dealing with strangers in a game if you can do everything yourself. If you can generate the food, potions, gear, gems and enchants all on your own then there is no working economy in the MMO, and the game will eventually die from a lack of players.

Getting beyond the simple desire to provide what you need to play without having to spend precious gold to do it, there are other reasons to play alternate characters (alts) than wanting to be able to max out all your professions and flood the auction house with goods that other players will have to buy from you. Sometimes you just want to be someone else in the game. And that someone else has to be capable of playing at the level that your other character plays at in order to be of any use to your friends that you have to rely on.

…and that observation brings me to the subject of this post. In the last World of Warcraft expansion, Legion, they introduced a new type of gear that was permanently equipped. It was called an artifact, and in Legion the artifact item was your weapon. You got that weapon at the beginning of the expansion and carried it to the end of the expansion, upgrading it as you went along. The linear nature of the item and the requirement that it had to be uniquely upgraded for each character essentially kept players from leveling any alt characters that could rival their first/main toons in power and ability in-game, without spending the exact same amount of time working on each and every alt that you wanted to level.

When Blizzard introduced Battle for Azeroth (BfA) they destroyed the special powers of our artifact weapons, rendering them useless aside from the ability to transmogrify their unique appearances onto our new weapons (I especially like the blue and cinnamon bear models for druids) and they introduced the new artifact that we would be using for the entire BfA expansion, the Heart of Azeroth. That artifact has a similar leveling system to the one that was in the weapons in Legion, without all the unique appearances that made leveling up your artifact in Legion something that you enjoyed doing.

Since there is no player reward for leveling the artifact, there has been a lot of complaining about the limitations that the Heart of Azeroth and the azerite system imposes on players, and the additional work that goes into leveling each and every alt through the exact same grind that each player has done on their main toon.

I skipped most of Legion, so I didn’t spend a lot of time working on and gaining abilities with my artifact weapons before they took them away from us. I also didn’t notice that the azerite system in the Heart of Azeroth was really any different than the grinding that was required to level weapons in Legion. I do miss my alternate characters and I haven’t taken the time to level alts in any real shape or form since Mists of Pandaria ended. Since Warlords of Draenor bored me into playing different games for over a year.

So this is me, dusting off my keyboard for a little bit of reflection on the subject of artificial limitations and the programmers that think we can’t see them out there setting limits on us.

Back in the day, I wrote quite a few pieces on this subject. I wrote one on endgame materials scarcity in Wrath of the Lich King. In Cataclysm I mused on the quandary of Murglesnout and marveled at the amount of materials it took to make a single trinket for my inscriptionatrix. During those brief span of years I managed to get myself kicked off the forums multiple times by moderators intent on maintaining the illusion that the game was fun, fun, fun! all the time.

I last ventured onto the forum during the great #NoFlyNoBuy revolt, where I penned a piece titled Flight Has Always Been a Perk; An Example of Confirmation Bias. After the end of Warlords of Draenor, as Legion was being rolled out, I got fed up with the design philosophy of the developers at Blizzard and decided to take a year off of World of Warcraft.

When I came back to the game at the end of Legion, I swore to myself that I wouldn’t take the game seriously anymore. I deleted half my characters in order to prove to myself that I was serious about not taking the game seriously. If the developers at Blizzard decided not to put flight into the game, well, that was the game I was playing when I signed up. If they decided that you had to work three hours a day, every day, just to keep up in the game, well, that was the game I was playing. Admittedly, I don’t spend more than my subscription fee to stay in the game anymore, so my gifts to Blizzard for their content has dropped off a bit since I first subscribed back at the end of Burning Crusade.

This is me, trying not to take the fun things in life seriously. But still, I think it bears mentioning that I would have a lot more fun in the game if I just could play my alts at the same level that my main toon can play without having to spend months of additional work building their artifacts up to the level that my main is at.

This week Blizzard introduced what they are calling the Echoes of Ny’alotha system into Battle for Azeroth, making it possible for players to purchase the essences they have earned on their mains for the (empty) Heart of Azeroth on their alts. The most common response to players who rebel at being asked to spend even more time in-game grinding on content is,

What? Do you want free gear then?

Now that you mention it, yes. Free gear would be nice. I really don’t see why we are required to re-level alt gear through several layers of endgame content just to be able to play with our friends. But wanting free gear is beside the point here. Essences for the Heart of Azeroth artifact are not gear. The Heart of Azeroth does take up a gear slot on your character (your necklace) but it is not gear in the normal sense of gameplay anymore than the Legion weapons were gear in the normal sense. Most of us have been working on leveling the Heart of Azeroth for two years. It isn’t something you can just replace with a better piece of gear when it happens to drop in dungeons or raids or quests.

Essences serve the same purpose that relics served in Legion weapons. Unlike Legion relics, essences are assembled through specific actions by the player and are a permanent part of the Heart of Azeroth. In other words, essences are not gear that drops and you can equip or replace them as you desire. They are more like talents that you can select after you have enabled them. For as long as World of Warcraft is called Battle for Azeroth, the essences will be part of your Heart of Azeroth.

Essences are the key to being able to do your job in a raid setting, and some of us want to raid on more than one toon. Asking people to work through content they have already done, on toons they no longer want to play, to get essences they’ve already earned once, is insulting. Blizzard should just make the damn things account wide. The way they should have been treated from the beginning of BfA.

If there is one reason I don’t play alts in BfA, this is it. This was true for Legion as I mentioned previously. I can’t just get on an alt and play when I want to play an alt. I have to grind through lower level content, or even more of the same content I’m already playing, in order to play the alt and do the other thing I wanted to do with it if that other thing requires that I be competitive.

Blizzard insists that their new currency system allows essences to be account-wide. There still aren’t account-wide essences if I have to buy them after working to get them on one toon. I can’t believe that real people are applauding this new currency system. If I have a 120 toon, all the essences I’ve earned on other toons should be available to that toon. Like pets are, like toys are, like mounts are and, oh yeah, like heirloom gear is! those things really are account-wide. Why should I have to work to gain the things again at all? I’ve already done it once.

I have other games I’d rather be playing, will be playing. I don’t need to be given more work to do in game in order to be able to play the parts of the game I want to play. If I’m starting over, then I have other games I am neglecting that I probably should start instead.

Patch 8.3 Visions of N'Zoth

This is something I’ve never done before, set out to learn about the content of a patch before the patch drops. Today is patch day. When the servers go live after morning maintenance today (Tuesday January 14, 2019) World of Warcraft patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth will be the version of the game that we all will be playing.

If you are like me, you have no idea what is in that patch. Never fear, Wowhead is here. Wowhead.com: Patch 8.3 Visions of N’Zoth Battle for Azeroth (BFA) Content Overview. I’ve been relying on Wowhead for about a decade now. I’ve been a contributor for about that long as well, which means I upload my data to Wowhead’s servers so that they can crunch all the numbers and tell us all where the things we want will be dropping most frequently. When I have a quick question that needs to be answered about World of Warcraft, Wowhead.com is where I go to get that general question answered. So what is in Patch 8.3?

Features of Patch 8.3 include the Mechagnomes and Vulpera as new Allied Races, a new raid Ny’alotha the Waking City, new world activities in Titan Assaults and Horrific Visions, heritage armor sets for Worgen and Goblins, and Auction House improvements!

Wowhead.com

The new raid will not be available until next Tuesday (January 21) but all the rest of the patch’s content will start being available to the player base when maintenance ends this afternoon, scheduled for 3:00 pm PST.


I had hoped to get back to this post before server time today. I had hoped that the patch had pre-loaded like most patches do for World of Warcraft. But, alas, the patch is loading now (7:30 pm) so I’m not raiding. The guild also isn’t raiding. They aren’t raiding because they are busily grinding on the new content trying to upgrade their new legendary cloaks.

Leveling the cloaks is important because leveling the cloak will allow you to equip more of the new corruption gear as it drops. This is the mechanic that insures that people cannot just buy into gear upgrades. They will have to play the game on their main toons in order to equip new gear.


I didn’t even have a main toon until the Legion expansion of the game. I played all my toons according to what mood I was in. If I was in a killing mood, I played Eieloris or one of my other Rogue toons. Stunning, pickpocketing and shanking players and NPC’s repeatedly. Nothing relieves the desire to strangle somebody more than garroting somebody. Or just strangulating somebody, a Death Knight talent. Death Knights were also for dark mood days.

If I was depressed and feeling like playing alone I would get on either my Warlocks if it was a dark depression, or on my hunters if it was just me wanting to be alone. These days I don’t play World of Warcraft if I don’t want to socialize, I play one of the dozens of mobile games that I have downloaded on my phone. So I’m down to one Warlock and no Hunters these days. I just don’t ever feel like playing them. Creavishop is the only Warlock I need since you can only have one Dark Lord at a time. He wants to rule the universe with an iron fist, like Sargeras and Gul’dan. An unquenchable lust for power marks Warlocks as a class.

My mains are both Druids. Tharthurm on Nordrassil and Tarashal on Muradin. I have alts but I rarely play any of them. I even have Druid alts for all the races that can be Druids in World of Warcraft, but I don’t play those much either. I picked Druid as my class because Druid is the most versatile class. They are most versatile because they can tank, heal or deal damage in equal measure given the demands of a fight or the vagaries of my moods. Like playing alts in previous expansions, roles in multiplayer battles are a matter of mood and current ability. Sometimes I’m just not up to tanking or healing.

Playing alts is something that Blizzard has chosen to punish us for doing. Working on an alt is discouraged through restricting key components of the gearing system to specific toons and not applying these components account wide. If you gain faction reputation on one toon in the game, only that toon has that reputation. In previous expansions this was mostly a minor annoyance, but in Battle for Azeroth it is a restriction on leveling alts because enhancements for the Heart of Azeroth, the power item in this expansion like weapons were in Legion, are gotten through reputation gains and repetitive play of specific content. If you want to play an alt then you have to grind reputations on that alt, and then you have to grind content on the alt. This requires that you spend as much time gearing your alts as you spend gearing your main. This makes alts only playable when you really don’t have anything else to do in game, and I have plenty to do just trying to keep my two mains (one for each faction) up to speed.

I haven’t even leveled Creavishop‘s enchanting skills to max. He’s not feeling like much of a Dark Lord these days. I could play more, but I already spend between six and twelve hours a week raiding on two toons. If I need to play more than that to keep my other toons maxxed out, Blizzard should pay me to play the game, not the other way ’round.


The patch took an hour to download. I really wish I had seen the prompt to download in advance. Downloading in advance always makes patch days easier to deal with. Horrific visions appear to be dominating my immediate gaming future, because they are key to leveling the legendary cloak that you get from Prince Wrathion. Before I can get the cloak I will have to get through the quest chains introducing the new assault areas for Visions of N’Zoth. You are given the first breadcrumb quest when you log on after installing the patch.

After being reintroduced to Prince Wrathion, following Magni back to the Chamber of Heart, and working through the dialogs, you are sent to Uldum. At least it’s close to Silithus and the Chamber of Heart. I would have preferred the area to have been Ulduar. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time in that raid when it was new because I wasn’t quite up to raiding level before it was superseded by the next raid in Wrath of the Lich King. Uldum I remember quite well.

They’ve updated the areas where the assaults take place. Uldum looks pretty much the same as before. The other area that is part of the assault mechanic is the Eternal Vale in Pandaria. I really liked that area before Garrosh defiled it at the end of the Pandaria expansion. It will be nice to see it again the way it was originally, or at least repaired.


My progress in the content has been achingly slow. I’ve had little spare time to play. This, for once, might have been a good thing. Google’s news feed put this story at the top of the feed yesterday.

massivelyop.com

In it is a video from BellularGaming describing the current work arounds for problems in the game that he brought up in UH BLIZZ… How’d 8.3 Launch In This State?

BellularGamingUH BLIZZ… How’d 8.3 Launch In This State? – Jan 16, 2020

What are the work arounds? Not playing parts of the game before Blizzard patches the errors that went out with the first patch. Good. I think I have that procedure covered. Mastered it, even.


So I’ve finally gotten the cloak for my two Druids (1/24/20) I’m only two weeks late. Now it is time to level the things; because, like all legendary items in the last few expansions, just having the thing isn’t good enough. You have to work to level it as well. I’m reading up on how that is done. I still don’t think a user’s manual should be required to figure out how to play a game. But, I want to do this right. So I’m studying the problem. The confusion stems from that less-than-polished programming mentioned previously.

Horrific Visions

This is the first point of confusion. They named two completely different activities in the game with identical names. You should not confuse the horrific visions that you do in Uldum and/or the Eternal Vale with the ones that occur in Stormwind and Orgrimmar. Wowhead separates them into lesser and greater visions so as to establish some clarity; but really, not naming different things by the same name would have been the way to avoid confusion. I spent a half-hour on the first quest in the chain just trying to figure out what the fuck I was supposed to be doing there.

It would have helped if I had read the quest text or even just taken the time to look at the quest tracker on the right of the screen (which probably showed I needed to drink a potion) under the minimap, but it was 5:00 am and I was just killing time waiting for the dishes to finish washing so I could start a second load of dishes and then stumble off to bed, so I fumbled around for thirty minutes and only managed to die. When I finally logged back on this evening the daily quest tied to the lesser horrific vision for this part of the week had changed to Preventative Measures which was not a mystery to complete, and that allowed me to complete the chain quest Descending Into Madness. I could then move on to opening the tenebrious gateway and starting the greater vision that allows completion of the quest Into the Darkest Depths.

Side note. The quests are shown to be given in Stormwind on the images for the quests on Wowhead. However, all of the quests that I am getting are given and turned in at the Chamber of Heart. It is also worth noting that most of the quest chains show you opening the tenebrious gateway with the quest Opening the Gateway before you get the quest Descending Into Madness. You have to do Descending before you can get the gateway quest in the current build of the game. Just one more minor confusion in a whole host of confusions in this patch. I would never have noticed that confusion had I not needed to consult Wowhead (and text fellow guildies who have already muddled through the quests) because the quest instructions given in the game are so vague as to mean just about anything.

Going into the tenebrious gateway can be done without consuming the Vessel of Horrific Visions. If you are like me you already have one, but you still have to buy a second one in order to complete the quest. Entering the gateway costs nothing, though. I’m told this is like the Mage Tower events that were a part of Legion.

I wouldn’t know. I skipped most of Legion in protest of the restrictions placed on flight in Warlords of Draenor and planned for Legion. It was only the fact that I missed my raiding guild family that brought me back to the game towards the end of Legion, long after the Mage Tower events were a thing that you spent time doing. I may have to go back and do some of them now. Depends on if I find a Legion artifact weapon appearance that I have to unlock there.

The Vessel of Horrific Visions is only consumed when you talk to Wrathion and go into Stormwind/Orgrimmar. I won’t be attempting a greater horrific vision (GHV) right now. Today I’m going to gather up as much Coalescing Visions as I can. You should do that every day that you can until you hit the maximum capacity that you can carry. Those will get you more Vessels of Horrific Visions which are the only way into the GHV, one of the limiting factors put in place to slow down leveling the legendary cloak.

SignsOfKelaniEverything You NEED TO KNOW About Horrific Visions – Jan 14, 2020

Do not listen to other players when they tell you to solo the first GHV. Get a wingman each time you go in, if you can. Especially the first one. When you get back from killing either corrupted Thrall or corrupted Alleria for the first time, be sure to do the the next few quests. You want to get the quest Accessing the Archives from Wrathion, which tells you to talk to MOTHER. Then talk to MOTHER and access the Titan Research Archive. Be sure to research the Sanity Restoration Orb at the Titan Research Archive before attempting to re-enter the GHV for the second time. You will likely run out of sanity before you can kill Thrall or Alleria unless you have the sanity restoration orb to restore your sanity during the encounter. Going with a buddy the first time ensures you have enough sanity (because they will likely already have done the first GHV, or at least will double the DPS) to successfully complete the horrific vision.

Once you have the Sanity Restoration Orbs available you can complete the the instance solo for the first 5 levels of your cloak, so long as you have sufficient health and damage (DPS) to kill the boss before they kill you. I could solo the instance as a balance druid using stealth to get to the boss, killing the two guards to open the room with the boss in it, then killing the boss before running out of sanity, but it was a very close race achieving this. With the orbs it was no sweat to restore my sanity while flasking, eating and pre-potting before the boss fight.

Getting the sixth level of the cloak requires you to go into a second area of the map for a quest item. The medium difficulty areas can be soloed now (March 10th, 2020) if you have the ability to do moderate damage and if you have selected the right research in the talent tree for your cloak. Specifically you want Emergency Cranial Defibrillation and Elite Extermination as soon as you can get them if you run the GHV’s solo, and the ability to get a PUG together to run them as a group can be maddening. If you can pull it off on your own, I suggest you do that and not worry overly much about failing the occasional vision until you get to the cloak level that that requires you to enter the hard areas of the vision. More on that when I get there.

Shadowlands

I asked for one gift for Christmas. I got it, thanks to my immediate family. Here is the trailer for it.

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands trailer

The point the Son made upon seeing it was “Oh, great. Now Ner’zhul is free on Azeroth. Here is a decent twenty minute video on the subject of Ner’Zhul. If you just want the short version of the lore, Ner’zhul’s soul was trapped in the helm of the Lich King. Was trapped, is trapped no longer.

So we have that question to ponder on, as well as what role Bolvar will play in the next expansion, if he plays any role at all. In any case, I’m looking forward to the day when the expansion goes live. It should be interesting, now that Sylvanas has shown what she thinks of the paltry power of the Lich King.

World of Mayhem

Join my Alliance! Drazi Freehold in Looney Tunes World of Mayhem

Yes. That is a Babylon 5 reference in a mobile game. The banners were Green and Purple. It sort of just happened. If you are on a mobile interface with the game installed, the links above will open the game and show you the alliance tab. There you can join the alliance. If you don’t have the game installed, or if you are on a desktop, the link will open the page for the game, where you can have the game downloaded to your phone.

I created this article just to see how the invite function would work in the game. I was not credulous that it would work because there are no pages with guilds on them on the game website, and no catalog of players like you might find on Blizzard or Steam or one of the other gaming aggregator sites.

I have tested it myself. It does appear to work. I can’t join my guild because I’m already in it, but I do get a tab with the guild’s name on it. So, that part works. We have to have 23 players in the guild in order to participate in the new guild wars, which we don’t have, and I don’t feel like joining one of the other guilds in the game. So if you are curious, jump on in and give the game a try.


Here is a link to the game in the Google play store. The game has a recurring bug in the programming that causes it to crash on varying systems based on which build was used for which platform. I suspect that there is a disagreement between programmers as to which approach to coding graphics is the right one. At least one of those programmers is correct. I couldn’t tell you which one.

Happy Birthday World of Warcraft

Every year on the anniversary of the launch of World of Warcraft there are in-game perks for logging onto the game and playing the current game content. Pets and mounts and extra quests that test your knowledge of previous iterations of the game.

This year there are even more rewards than usual. Log on and pick up your breadcrumb quests, then head to the Caverns of Time and join in the amusement and general chaos that is a world event in World of Warcraft.

Happy now, Rush?

I got bonus loot while doing the Memories of Azeroth raid that is part of the celebration. A mount that I had been trying to get to drop off of Ragnaros for several years now in the Firelands raid was in the loot I got off of defeating Ragnaros in Memories of Azeroth. I can now cross the Pureblood Firehawk off of my want list, making Memories of Azeroth doubly worth my time. The only way the experience could have been better is if Invincible’s Reins had dropped off of the Icecrown instance. No one got that one in our group, making Arthas’s stallion still one of the rarest mounts in World of Warcraft.

Part of this event is looking back on these fights and feeling that nostalgia if you were there, or seeing the building blocks of WoW if you weren’t. It’s a chance for an old vet like me to pull up a chair on my porch, sit down next to a youngblood, and regale them with tales of honor and horror. “I remember when Lady Vashj’s Tainted Elemental phase wiped my entire raid over and over for hours. The flasks and food wasted are the stuff of legends.” Memories of Azeroth feels like it was targeted at me.

USGamer

Divorce

The inspiration for this post sprang out of the destruction of my World of Warcraft raiding guild a few days previously. A group of friends that I’ve spent six hours a week, minimum, talking to and working closely with to solve problems in a game that we jointly enjoy. A game we couldn’t enjoy if we didn’t have each other to rely on day-in and day-out. It took twenty people to raid successfully in World of Warcraft when I started playing the end-game content during Wrath of the Lich King. Working closely with twenty people to master the mechanics of a battle for weeks on end draws you closer than most casual friendships.

What happens when these groups of closely-knit battle-hardened companions suddenly decide that they can’t play with each other anymore? I don’t know what else to call that situation other than divorce. A bit extreme you say? It’s not that traumatic? Spend ten years reliably sitting down with the same twenty people and experiencing the adrenaline surge of beating a difficult boss fight through precise coordination, and then get back to me after you tell the other nineteen people to kiss your ass. Let me know how that goes.

Divorce. I’ve been to this dance quite a few times. I’ve never been an invited guest, always the chosen onlooker. When intimacies turn to hostilities, the invited guests always look to the involuntary participants to pick sides. As Bartleby said yesterday I prefer not to.

I’ve never been the invited guest to a divorce because that was one of the ground rules I set for myself a long time ago, when I witnessed the first divorce. The divorce of my adopted father and my biological mother. This was the first time I was encouraged to pick sides as an involuntary participant, just a child of fourteen. I had nowhere else to go, so was forced to witness the folly of adults that should have known better than to let things fall apart as far as they did.

It’s easy. No really, it is easy, not the easy thing that really is hard (any kind of group effort in an MMO) Talk to your intimate relations. Don’t keep secrets unless they are secrets the others have already told you they want kept. Don’t betray agreed-to standards of behavior without talking out the changes first. Don’t close off channels of discussion unless you are prepared to never speak to these people again except in the presence of a lawyer.

Keep Talking – Pink Floyd

But it never fails. Someone thinks they can get by without communicating something. Then that something turns to a thing that can’t be spoken of. Turns into a barrier between two people. Turns into a weight around the neck of the relationship. Turns into a wall preventing communication. Then the secret is found out and the accusations of betrayal begin.

These are adults, but they sure don’t act like adults. Adults that understand even the uncomfortable subjects have to be discussed, and discussed endlessly. This is the nature of being humans, like it or not. Talk. Endless talk. Talk that makes you want to cut off your own tongue or gouge out your ears. If you stop talking, you will eventually cease to be intimate with the other in question. That is the point where they become other.

Other rather than same. The outgroup. The other.

But he…

But she…

But they…

Doesn’t matter. It wasn’t done against me, because I fucking talked it out first. I understand ownership and value and don’t take it for granted. I resent being asked to lend weight to one side or the other of a separation when I have no clear understanding of the fault that led to the separation. I will not willingly pick sides when both sides seem to be at fault and there is no clear reason for the separation in the first place aside from childish insistence on having your own way in a relationship.

But he…

But she…

But they…

The closest I have come to divorce is quitting a job, being fired from a job. There are employers that I can’t speak to again because of what transpired between myself and them. Always it was something kept from me that required that separation, not something I failed to tell them. I am what I present myself to be, take it or leave it, warts and all.

I remained Dad’s friend after the divorce despite his actions. Despite the facts of his behavior that I had to drag kicking and screaming out of the woman who expected me to follow her without reason. She was a little bit crazy like that, my mom. A conflict avoided was a win in her book. As if she could avoid the permanent void created in her children’s hearts by simply not talking about the cause of the divorce. It’s not that I had a choice in the matter, dad didn’t want us children, he just wanted things to remain the same in the daylight as they were in the dark. The philandering. The silence. I eventually forgave him, because, what else can you do with family? You will have to see them again. That is a given.

I won’t willingly speak with the employers that betrayed my trust. They earned my enmity by keeping essential facts from me. One day those betrayals may cost them dearly, if that day of judgement comes. Most of them are probably dead already, personally safe from further judgments against them. They are the lucky ones.

Lucky like the stepfather, the Polk in mom’s name, who publicly betrayed everything the word father means. Safe from judgment by being dead by some other hands than mine. Saving me the trouble of having his blood on my hands. I should have thanked him for that, but I never spoke to him after the betrayal of that day. The opportunity to strike or to speak never presented itself. Mercy, after a fashion. Probably a mercy crafted by mom’s hands. She never liked conflict, evaded it at every opportunity. Her unwillingness to engage probably being the the first miscommunication in a long series of misunderstandings. But she’s dead now too. Beyond the reach of judgement.

So here I am asked to take sides in another messy divorce. A smaller, less life-altering conflict than the ones I’ve been in before. If I never log on to World of Warcraft again, a game that for me is like softball or bowling was to my father, it is the social connection that keeps me active among my group of friends. If I never play the game again I won’t have to talk to any of the participants of this messy break-up again.

On the upside, unlike family, I’ll never have to look at any of them again or have to listen to any of their excuses for their inexcusable behavior. So not quite as demeaning as the dissolution of a marriage is to the children of that marriage. The children of our in-game collaboration are the characters that we’ve worked so hard to level, over and over again, just to have the most powerful characters we could construct to bring to the next battle. Those children you can delete and no one will accuse you of murder when you do.

It might be a form of self-mutilation, if self-mutilation can be performed mentally. Investing all that time only to discard it by typing six characters and hitting enter? It ranks up there with self-mutilation in my mind. But it isn’t illegal to delete that part of yourself. That piece of your history. If only all mistakes could be erased that easily.

If I quit playing World of Warcraft I’ll lose those friends. I’ll lose those parts of myself and the parts of themselves that I’ve grown to love as part of the game we play together. I’ll make new friends. I’ll find other games to play, other ways to connect to the outside world. The other games and other friends won’t have fifteen years of history for me to bank on. I’ll have to start over.

So I probably won’t quit World of Warcraft. I probably will log on and play the game. I like the game, even after all this time. Probably because of all this time, not because the game has been mindlessly enjoyable. It wasn’t and it isn’t. It presented challenges, but it offered social connections, connections that are simply not present in most other games. Social connection is why I am still playing the game, and now that very social connection threatens to destroy any remaining pleasure I find in it. I’m tempted to delete all my toons and start over fresh. A fresh start, like I’ve never played the game before. Maybe this week is the week to download and log on to World of Warcraft – Classic. Play a game that I’ve never played before, but sure does seem like what I’ve been playing for the last fifteen years.

At the very least, I will have to log onto the voice chat service and have those discussions that have to be had before either calling it quits or picking a side. I still would prefer not to, but the post-mortem must be performed if I am to have any closure for this latest divorce. I’m beginning to wonder if closure is overrated.


The family asked “why did you go there?” after I wrote this. My guildmates in a game I’ve played for almost as long as my children have been alive, 15 years now, wanted to know why I wouldn’t willingly just pick a side in the diaspora of the guild. This is the explanation for why I try not to pick sides. I’ve been used as a weapon before and I won’t willingly go there again. My insistence on knowing the gory details of a conflict has cost me dearly, many times. I’ll still ask those questions, every time. It is who I am. Take it or leave it. Warts and all.

It is worth noting that both the leader of my former guild as well as members of the diaspora tried to tell me just how wrong the other side was. The guildmaster made it his duty to try to keep me from joining the diaspora by telling me just how bad the people I love and cherish like family really are. It should come as no surprise to anyone that all my Alliance toons are now back in my own guild (Frosty Wyrm Riders) for the time being. I need a bit of a break after that orchestrated trauma to my psyche.

Uncomfortably Numb

I prefer not to.

Bartleby the Scrivener, Herman Melville
On the Media – Uncomfortably Numb – July 12, 2019

On this week’s On the Media, how painful news might be making America numb. And, why sometimes it’s okay to tune out.

I prefer not to is the sum total of my inclinations for today. My Alliance raiding guild in World of Warcraft has broken up, and now I’m expected to choose sides in a fight I tried to convince people not to have in the first place. So now even my distractions are forcing decisions on me that I never wanted to make in the first place.

The Great Level Squish?

World of Warcraft studio Blizzard has apparently announced that WoW is going to reduce its level cap – a so-called ‘level squish’ – at some point in the future, and it has done so via a customer survey asking if you knew about that.

PC Games

Wow. An idea that I’ve been pushing for awhile now, and I didn’t even have to write them about doing it. I really don’t know why they ever increased character levels beyond 100 in the first place. It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m not even sure why leveling is still part of the game, at this point. It just serves as a gateway that players have to get through before being able to be free to do what they want in the game.

Blizzard has conducted a stat squish already. The player base got over that. They take away in-game flight routinely with every release of new content. The player base puts up with that. I can’t see why reducing levels to 100 from the current 120 makes any difference at all, or should make a difference to anyone playing the game. Max level is max level, no matter what number is attached to it. You can’t get more max than max.

I’ve been of the opinion that levels should be reduced and capped at 100 for quite some time now. If Blizzard insists on leveling-gating new content, they should just reset the level of existing maxxed toons to 99 and be done with it. As I outlined above, I don’t understand why this warrants a lot of wishy washy, hand wringing bullshit. Just do the thing and be done with it. The players will probably not even notice. I’m convinced they won’t notice much of anything unless you went back to making them walk everywhere in game. That suggestion seems to piss most players off the way I get pissed off about not being able to fly in game.