Last night my wife and I had agreed to get our taxes done. Normally we do this over spring break but various reasons, one of which was a death in the family caused this to not happen. Tax time is one of those things that causes undue stress in me. While the only time we had to pay federal is when I was doing a lot of contract work, I still live in fear of someone having screwed something up. The IRS are a truly humorless group, and I always picture the agents from the matrix when I think of them. They would give zero shit that someone in HR screwed up our withholdings.
As a result we end up procrastinating until we reach the point where it is either April or almost April and we are pushed into action to finally deal with it. Last night once again we were relieved when it was finished. For once we somehow dodged the bullet of having to pay state taxes, and are getting a small refund back from there. We ended up doing just fine, and like every year we ask ourselves why we were so frightened of the process. In part I guess it is because there is some magic number we are supposed to have paid in taxes for the year, and I feel like it is pulled out of thin air. That it doesn’t really feel like it is based on anything we have control over. I guess I just hate the fact that some agency has complete and total control over our fate.
While we were out and about we needed to run a few errands, one of which was a trip by Target. I pretty much avoid Wal-mart like the plague… not for some higher social justice reasoning, but instead because it is nearly impossible to get out of there in under an hours time. They have 50 cash registers and maybe 3 open at any given time. The addition of self checkout has improved this a bit, but still it ends up severely damaging my cool having to deal with the store. So I generally opt for a trip to Target and the Grocery store separately to make up for that one Wal-mart trip. I did see a rather sad sight while at Target, they had a big stack of copies of Defiance that they had on clearance for $13 a pop. I considered picking one up for the 360, but then remembered that I am far less likely to play anything if it is on a console.
As we were leaving the store, the wind smelled like rain and there was a massive storm front rolling in from the north. My wife turned to me and said… in true Oklahoma fashion “It looks like it is about to rain.” Granted we had a conversation earlier that there was no chance of rain listed in the forecast. As we walked to the car I replied “nope, it’s going to hail” as I saw little pieces of ice bouncing off the pavement. So yeah… bright and sunshiny out one moment, dropping ice on my head the next… you have to love Oklahoma weather. Another thing of note… getting hit in the head by hail hurts like a mother. In fact right now I am remembering that we still have our stuff from target out in my wife’s car… because when we got to the house it was still pelting ice at us and we opted NOT to carry it in.
Just north of the city of Daggerfall in Glenumbra is a skull and crossbones symbol on the map. When you see one of these it marks the location of a “world boss”. This one in particular is limbscather, a named lurcher/treant thing. At level 7 he is damned near impossible to solo as is the case with most world bosses. You can tell a world boss by the special unit frame and the number of red dots to either side represent just how difficult the encounter is. In theory you can solo most single dot encounters, as you get to double dots it starts to get rougher and then finally the triple dot encounters will damned near always kill you. When I first logged in I was milling around finishing up some quests, when guild members talked about pulling together a limbscather group.
One of the things I am always down for is killing world bosses, regardless of how much lower level they are. In part because you are almost always guaranteed a filled soul gem from killing them. Additionally sometimes they drop really nice blue loot for the level. Even if you can’t use it, you can always deconstruct it for the chance of getting a blue temper to upgrade your gear later. That is one of the things I love about the system, that you can take temper from one item to upgrade the quality of another item later. We killed him a few times before we all got bored of it and moved on. A few people managed to pick up the blue staff he drops, which I mistakenly thought was a healing staff… but is apparently a frost staff.
The overarching goal of the evening for me was to be able to get to the level that I could reliably tank Spindleclutch, the very first dungeon in the Daggerfall Covenant. Almost a year ago we tried the dungeon in beta and had never managed to pull together a group since. At that time it was a truly brutal experience, so we wanted to make sure we were at least level 12 before zoning in this time around. Thankfully in the months between the dungeon got a good tuning pass, either that or we were simply more prepared for what came with it. Back when we ran it that first time, the first pull of the dungeon managed to wipe us without mercy. This time around it went much smoother and while we got a lot more mobs than you would in a World of Warcraft style dungoen, we were able to manage it.
The interesting thing about an Elder Scrolls Dungeon, is that tanking in them is far less like a WoW style dungeon, where you gather everything up and hold onto it while the party burns it down, but instead more like tanking in a MOBA. As a Dragon Knight Sword and Board tank I have various tools at my disposal to temporarily taunt a mob onto me, through either the ransack morph or fiery grip. As a result I spend most of the fights trying to temporarily distract the encounters and get them to focus on me just long enough for the damage to get them low enough to be able to finish them off. The result is that players need to focus fire specific mob types to make sure they go down first, in order to survive the fight. The various encounters are really good at employing group tactics, and at one point last night we had two healers healing each other.
There were definitely times however when I was needed to truly “tank” a mob, and I was able to do this fairly well. While the game does not have a traditional aggro table, there were plenty of things I could do to either knock down the boss, taunt it, or yank it across the room to keep it from tearing apart my team mates. I would not say that the game necessarily has a strict alignment to the holy trinity, and we entered the dungeon with a sub optimal group… namely two healers, a dps and a tank. However the extra healing seemed to make up for the fact that we were really low on damage. I think you could probably run the dungeon without a tank but instead just have to rely more on knockdowns and snares to burn down the encounter before it killed you. I really enjoyed the dungeon in beta for all its brutality, but I have to say I enjoy the better tuned encounters a heck of a lot more.
My absolute favorite feature however has to be the way dungeon loot works. Just like every other mob in the game, each player gets a personalized roll on the loot table. However unlike the world bosses, every bit of this loot is tradable. So this meant after each boss we killed, there was much swapping of gear around to make sure the item went to someone who could use it. I wound up walking out of there with two blue tanky rings, tam got a damned nice blue two handed axe, rae a mana regen neck I believe (after I had to toin coss to decide who got it…. seriously where is the effing /roll command people), and I believe Damai walked with something but I cannot be sure. I am anxious to do the dungeon again tonight if we can muster the people. The quest bugged a little bit when trying to complete the dungeon, so we still do not have full credit for the place.
If you have a fear of spiders… Spindleclutch is going to be a rather terrifying experience. I don’t necessarily like spiders having grown up in a house with brown recluse… but I managed to get through without much issue. Also there is this area, where you have to cross a broken down bridge held together only by spider webs, that did kinda tweak my vertigo a bit. The dungeon looked absolutely amazing and it had a fun design that was not as on rails as Warcraft, but still funneled you towards the destination. The only negative is that the experience while good was not great, but that is to be expected. I think had we been able to complete the quest it would have been really good. They had to nerf dungeon experience, in part because testers were living in them during the beta weekends. I remember one group that ran Spindleclutch from level 10 to level 30. Hopefully as we get more people into the level range we can get a bunch more guild dungeon runs going.