L is for Loot Piñata

Kinder Gentler LFR

WoWScrnShot_120914_213518 Last night we opted to enter the “Looking For Raid” version of Highmaul as a guild, similar to how we did Molten Core, since that made the entire experience so much less chaotic.  We brought with us both tanks and a couple of healers, and since we have done the fights on normal now figured we would be able to push through any issues we came along.  Oddly enough the LFR tool did not make one of us the leader of the group even through we accounted for 15 of the 25 slots.  Instead it chose this shaman healer who’s name was some combination of “Faceroll” and “Ballerina” that I am sure he thought was exceedingly clever when he created the character.  I say “he” because the actions and commentary felt like a “dudebro” playing the character.

Moments after we started clearing he started barking orders generally starting off with “alright you fuckfaces”.  Moments later however he was gone from the raid.  The beautiful thing about doing LFR as a guild is that you can pretty much rapid-fire vote kick someone and have more than enough votes for it to succeed.  After that was over, the rest of the run went exceptionally smoothly.  I kinda dig being able to act as a force of good in looking for group, getting rid of the toxic players when we see them.  What I find amazing is just how willing people were to work within the parameters we set for them.  We treated LFR like it was an actual raid, with marking locations to stand in and this made the entire experience go solidly and by the numbers.

L is for Loot Piñata

Wow-64 2014-11-23 13-11-44-29 Maybe it is because we have done the normal version of this place, but god Looking for Raid seemed simple.  As in it felt like you could straight up ignore every tactic and just keep mashing buttons until the bosses fell down.  All told the actual combat time of the raid took maybe 20 minutes for three bosses.  I saw plenty of people looting goodies, so hopefully lots of folks got nice stuff.  The only problem I see is that there is little to no reason to do heroics right now.  Sure you get 50 Garrison resources for your first heroic of the day, and a bag of gold, but it feels like they really have taken away all of the reason to actually group up for heroics once you are over ilevel 630.  Previously all serious players had to do a handful of heroics a week to make sure they were capping out Valor points, but with that gone there is little to no reason to draw well geared players into the fray.

Quite honestly you can hit the LFR requirement of 615 relatively easily through doing the quests in Nagrand with a Dwarven Bunker giving you increased chance of getting blue and purple upgrades.  As such I cannot see any reason at all for folks to actually do the heroic grind once the rest of Highmaul has been released.  Unless the next part significantly ramps up the difficulty, this is going to be essentially Timeless Isle 2.0 in the form of a raid.  Granted I don’t much care about people getting easy gear, in fact I am looking forward to it as I try and gear my army of alts.  I loved the Timeless Isle for the ease of catching characters up.  That said the heroic experience in this expansion is really good, and while difficult is fun to do with your friends.  Maybe they are expecting heroics to be a guild only thing?  I have a feeling we are going to see a pass that maybe starts adding in some reasons for doing things, because it feels like they completely ignored the reward part of “risk vs reward”.

Social Engineering

ffxiv 2014-09-26 17-49-49-518 The problem that I can see is soon the queues for heroics will be insanely long, because Blizzard seems to be fundamentally bad at social engineering.  I say this because I am playing another game that is exceptionally good at social engineering and making players WANT to run older content.  Final Fantasy XIV has this long quest chain that involves giving players non-raiding ways to upgrade their main weapon.  It starts with the Relic weapon, and each upgrade bumps up its ilevel and its stats.  The most famous bout of social engineering comes into play when you reach the Atma farming step, which involves you going back to every zone in the game and running FATEs until an “Atma of the” item drops.  The reason why this is most definitely social engineering is that they purposefully kept the ATMAs from dropping in the zones that were already natural FATE running hotbeds of activity.  Thing is it works… there are now players in most every zone running FATEs as they work on the Atma weapon step for their characters.

Similarly they created the Nexus step that involves farming “light” from various activities like doing Hard Modes, Experts, and related large group activity.  Additionally they created the concept of “bonus light” which targets certain encounters that have especially long queue times.  When one of these bonuses is in place all these players come from out of the woodwork and start running it, I happened into Hard Mode Garuda during one of these periods and it was insane to see just how fast that encounter evaporated.  Now with the latest step it involves running various hard mode dungeons until you get a specific item to drop, thus getting tanks and healers…. and everyone else to start queuing for these encounters.  I realize that I am being engineered, but I don’t care because it works.  It keeps the game thriving and vibrant and keeps the overall queue times low enough to allow me to do whatever content I need to do at the time.  I never feel like I am being exploited, because they managed to have just enough of a reward to make the risk worthwhile.

Brackenspore Boogey

The Reluctant Tank

WoWScrnShot_120914_203003 Last night was an extremely interesting night, for many reasons.  The first of which is that it was my first night raiding Highmaul in any capacity.  The Argent Dawn server was completely unstable for various reasons, primarily because the Chicago data center itself seemed to be unstable.  Then last Thursday I had plans which kept me away from the raid where they downed Kargath and Butcher for the first time.  Last night I had every intent of trying out my Gladiator dps chops, and had been researching the fights as a dps.  Then something happened… our main tank got stuck at work and was not going to be there at all.  While I was not even aware that technically I was part of the tanking team, I got drafted to tank the instance I would assume because of my years of experience.  While I didn’t know all of the fights, I did rely heavily on over a decade of experience and we seemed to do fine.

Thankfully I also had a really seasoned co-tank to work with, that while he too was not exactly solid on some of the mechanics… was more than willing to try anything I suggested.  As the night went on it started to feel more and more natural, with me pivoting into the lead role.  I really hope that I did not absolutely steamroll the tank, but I figured he was used to playing the second tank role in his previous configuration, so it might be less stressful for him to stay in that role.  Whatever the case it seemed to work really well, and I am happy to say that we stormed in and one shot both Kargath and the Butcher extremely quickly.  I had hoped to get more loot out of the dungeon to help augment my gear, but alas I spent three roll tokens and only walked out with twi pieces of gear.

Brackenspore Boogey

Wow-64 2014-12-09 20-44-42-869 We spent most of the night last night working on Brackenspore, an encounter that feels both familiar and strange at the same time.  It very much feels like the “this is the end of the easy bosses” encounter that has so many moving parts.  Quite honestly we don’t quite have a lot of mechanics down pat, but hopefully having seen the fight we can do some research before Thursday.  The biggest problem as a tank is we never quite found the sweet spot to do the tank transition.  The boss does some really horrible mechanics, firstly there is a stacking nature dot on the active tank called Rot.  Ideally the tank should not have more than four stacks of this at any time.  However there is another horrible mechanic called Necrotic Breath that is a frontal cone and causes anyone in said cone to take 22k damage and have a debuff that reduces healing by 99%.  To make things more frustrating there is an add, with a lot of health… that is essentially a second boss.  It casts an ability called Decay periodically which needs to be interrupted or else it deals 80k nature damage to the entire raid.

If all of this were not enough… there is a mechanic on the fight called Creeping Moss that is essentially a fungal creep that if unchecked will cover the entire room.  Anything standing in the creep increases their damage dealt by 50% and causes them to regenerate 2% health every 2 seconds.  As such the mobs need to be pulled out of this at all costs, and you end up having to devote to dps to run about the room with a flame thrower destroying the creep to keep it at bay.  To make matters even worse… there are good and bad mushrooms that spawn around the room.  You have to move the boss away from the bad mushrooms, but attempt to position them close to the good ones…  which are then used to counteract Infesting Spores that stacks nature damage on the raid.  We are still very much getting the swing of the fight, and figuring out all of the levers to flip and widgets to prod.  I think on our best attempt we got him down to 70%, but hopefully a lot of research AFTER having made an attempt will cement the mechanics in our heads.

DPS Check Passed

Wow-64 2014-12-09 21-18-37-131 After doing some attempts on Brackenspore, the raid leader decided we needed to swap up for a bit and try something else.  As a result we rolled over to Tectus that apparently the group had made attempts on last Thursday.  This is one of those infamous Blizzard dps check fights, with a relatively short enrage timer and several “get out of the stupid” mechanics causing the raid to move around while pushing dps as hard as possible on the boss.  I did not actually get a picture of the boss itself, because it went pretty quickly.  The trash directly before the boss is in essense “the boss”.  You have these three small rock elementals… and by small I mean five times as large as a player model that you have to burn through… from their rubble arises Tectus the actual boss.  While fighting Tectus you are constantly having to move out of these swirling patches on the ground that ultimately spawn spires of earth that knock the players back and deal damage to them.  Additionally there are patches of fire that appear that you need to move out of, so lots of stuff going on… that needs to be avoided.

This goes into overdrive because when you dps down the biggest version of Tectus, two medium sized versions spawn at the same time.  One tank takes one, the other tank takes and holds the other.  When the party dpses down a medium mob, four small mobs spawn.  In theory the offtank takes medium tectus and one small tectus… whereas the other tank takes three small ones.  This becomes extremely hectic because they are super hard to target at this point.  In theory the dps burns down all of the little spawns… and then breaks the other medium causing four more smalls to spawn.  The roughest phase is when we have five mob up, four smalls and one medium.  During this phase each of the mobs spawns circles on the ground, making it sheer madness to try and find safe places to stand.  Once you burn through the smalls things calm down for a few until we get another batch of smalls.  This is out and out a dps race, and we downed the boss last night with I think 15 seconds left to spare.

Back in the Saddle

Wow-64 2014-12-09 19-18-56-623 While I am actively raiding in FFXIV, there is just something more hectic about World of Warcraft raiding.  I think that technically speaking Final Fantasy XIV is probably more challenging, but the sedate pace caused by the longer global cooldown… makes it feel more sane and rational.  World of Warcraft on the other hand is a pure adrenaline rush when it goes well, and there are few things more exciting than getting a new boss down.  Granted I did not quite have the same payoff as my other raiders, because that was my first night there.  I am however pretty damned proud that I picked up tanking on a character I have not tanked on since downing the Lich King… and was not a liability.  I guess playing a class is something you never quite forget, regardless of how many changes have been made.  I did manage to pick up a few really nice upgrades as a result of my three roll tokens spent.

I swear that the game is conspiring against me actually ever wearing my engineering goggles, because the molten core helm was technically better… and then this helm dropped last night which is even better than the first goggle upgrade.  On Butcher he dropped a really nice pair of gauntlets for me that replaced my warforged heroics rather nicely.  This combined with the chestpiece I crafted for myself has taken me to ilevel 637 which is not too shabby overall.  Tonight we are going into LFR as a guild, and hopefully I can pick up another item or two there as well.  I am not going to waste any coins as I would rather prefer to save those for normal or heroic mode gear.  Supposedly at the beginning of Thursday night we are going to give Heroic Kargath a shot, which should be really damned fun.  I was surprised to find out that each mode has its own unique lockout, so hopefully we can start doing on heroic the mobs we have on farm on normal.  Was a great night, and happy to be back raiding.

Bel’s Magical Van

A Very Bloggy Xmas Day 9

xmasred2 Roughly a month ago my good friend Syl came to me with the idea of her Bloggy Xmas event.  I took a stab at a logo, and she finished it off to what we have above.  From there I was essentially drafted into the process, and was certain I would be slotted for one of the days.  It seems that fate determined that mine would be today.  The idea behind the countdown was to have an advent calendar of sorts leading up to Christmas, and apparently in her country it is tradition for all of the little villages to decorate their windows taking on one of the days.  I have struggled with what exactly to do for this, but it seems like most of the other participants have decorated their blog with a somewhat personal story.  As such I am guessing that is the direction I am taking as well.

Bel’s Magical Van

freecandy For quite literally over a decade now, I have had friends that have joked about me and my white panel van full of candy.  Because how else could I seem to keep recruiting people into whatever mad adventure I have planned.  In fact the guild that I founded is based upon this concept of never openly recruiting… but always recruiting.  I have always had this irrational desire to try and collect as many awesome people around me as I can, and as I play games or socialize online… I am always looking for more people to stuff in my van and whisk away into my extended family.  That is ultimately what I am building, a big network of extended family for me to play games with, and all joking aside it really isn’t something that I do intentionally.  I have this overriding sense that everyone deserves a good home, and when I see someone without one…  I tend to try and adopt the strays.  I mean there is a reason why until this weekend we had four rescue cats and two rescue ferrets…  I have a hard time saying no when any thing needs a good home.

relaxinginourpond If you want to find the reasons behind why I am the way I am you have to scroll back through my history to my childhood.  I was the single child of two very loving parents, or as we in the united states call it an “only child”.  To make matters worse we lived out in the country, or at least too far from city to make meeting up with friends a practical occasion.  I didn’t have the normal cadre of neighbor kids to run around with, and being a sickly child I spend most of afternoons with Mr Rogers, Electric Company and the Sesame Street gang.  I got exceptionally good at entertaining myself a trait that I am thankful for today, but I also longed to have other people to play with.  I was more or less raised by my grandmother, as she was my babysitter and companion during my formative years.  While she was awesome, she was also busy with the chores around the farm.  I can pretty much guarantee however that it is her that taught me to love games.  Her default “Idle animation” was sitting at the table playing solitaire, and we also played together absolutely insane amounts of trouble and candy land.

Wanting a Tribe

ffxiv 2014-09-30 22-14-16-200 I remember the most exciting times for me were the times when my cousins would come to visit and I was suddenly surrounded by other kids my age.  I remember wanting a baby brother or sister so bad, so I could have someone to play with whenever.  I would have been an awesome brother…  well pending they were willing to submit to playing whatever game I wanted to play.  During my elementary and middle school years, I pretty much spent my weekends “grouped up” with friends at either their house or mine.  Instead of one best friend I had two, and it pretty much stayed that way until high school.  I’ve always had this strange dichotomy inside of me… I want to be surrounded by people… but when I have them I never quite know what to do with them.  I’ve used the term “alone in a crowd” before to describe how it feels.  Engaging at the level that I want to engage takes a lot out of me, so I have to take these periods to essentially hibernate and draw strength to engage again.

WoWScrnShot_103012_184909 I’ve always built “tribes” for as long as I can remember.  I never just played with one other person… I tried to assemble groups of people to play with.  I had an unusual upbringing for being a pretty hardcore geek.  The traditional American experience for a 30-40 year old geek is that of being the misfit and being picked on.  Since my parents friends kids ended up growing up to become the popular kids, and also as a side effect of growing up in a very small town… I was given a lot more acceptance that I likely would have gotten anywhere else in the world.  Folks took my quirks as just “me being me” and pretty much left me alone, and I guess it doesn’t hurt that I am 6’4” and no one really seemed to want to mess with me.  In High School I kinda gathered up misfits that needed a home around me, the folks that WERE picked on mercilessly.  By my association with them it extended them a small bubble of protection… and I guess I became a tank for the first time.  It taught me that I actually liked protecting people, I liked feeling like I was helping my friends.

A Digital Family

Wow-64 2014-01-24 21-51-38-07 When I entered the internet age, all of these instincts and traits that I picked up along the way followed me as well.  I found it hard to think of the people I was interacting with as “just pixels”, and in fact I am fundamentally opposed to that line of thinking.  When you encounter another person, they have hopes, dreams and aspirations… and we have all arrived online for different reasons.  I started sifting through the folks I encountered and trying to keep “the good ones”.  When I found someone that needed a home, and wanted to participate in a larger community… I started trying to stuff them in my pocket and carry them with me from that point on.  It wasn’t long before I had amassed this large network of people that I wanted to stay in touch with for as long as I could.  In my own family, I have never really felt like they understood me.  They are extremely loving and nurturing, but I have never fit the mold that they seemed to want to press me into.  What I realized years ago is that online I was assembling my own family, the one that does fully understand me… and appreciates the nuance of my character. ffxiv 2014-09-14 22-10-19-484 At this point I have encountered quite literally multiple thousands of other players… and from those I have adopted a fraction… but still a large enough group that this community of contacts is also literally thousands of players.  With the transient nature of the internet, folks come and go, but the memories they leave behind is nonetheless important.  I feel like it is my job to act as the glue, to try and bind this digital family together.  The problem is I am never quite satisfied, and keep meeting awesome and interesting people along the way.  I will continue trying to stuff these people into my van and adopt them into my family.  I’ve been called many things in my pursuit…  the Cruise Director, a Bus Driver, an Ombudsman, I even had one former guildie refer to me as the “Prom Queen” because everyone seemed to know me.  At the end of the day I just want to surround myself in a blanket of awesome people to share my game time with, and I feel like that job will never be finished.  If you need a good home, and are community minded…  chances are I will try and adopt you too.

Reconciling Deathknight

The Anger Phase

This morning I am feeling completely out of it.  I struggled to get to sleep last night, and ultimately wound up taking some melatonin against my better judgment.  For most of yesterday I’ve felt like I was coming down with something, and this morning my lungs feel lousy.  It might be the strange weather we have been having, or might be an extension of the emotional weekend I have had, but in any case I am just drained…  which is a pretty horrible way to start a day.  As such this morning is a morning where I am doubling up and having both coffee and an energy drink, hoping that ultimately one of the two will do the trick.  Right now I am playing this fun little game that is composing with my eyes closed at the keyboard.  As such I have no idea what sorts of typos will creep into this post.

I want to thank all of the people who took a moment out of their day yesterday to send me condolences.  It means a lot, and while I have not yet responded to each and every one…  they all were very helpful as the day went on.  For whatever reason I mostly felt angry yesterday, and lots of little things kept me in a perpetual state of grumpy.  In a strange turn of events, it feels like the cats have been a lot more chill with each other, or maybe it is just that they sense that something is wrong.  They have pretty much swarmed me, where I would either have no cats or all three cats at once.  I honestly feel like cats can sense distress in their owners and will try to comfort them in their own way.  I am still very much in distress but I guess it is getting better.  My wife and I remarked that this is the first time in literally years that we have not had a sick animal that we had to treat for something.  It is a really strange feeling, but is also guilty as I feel a bit of a relief.

Serious Piddling

WoWScrnShot_120814_062315 One of my side projects, the last few times I have returned to World of Warcraft has been to slowly chip away at getting my paladin a set of Judgment gear.  I am one of those oh so cliché people that firmly believe that Judgment is quite possibly the best gear set that blizzard has created to date.  My paladin is old enough to have the Blue Judgment look alike set that came from the opening of Naxxramas 2.0 at the tail end of Burning Crusade, and I went through the trouble of farming up the Purple Judgment set from the BC era heroics on both my Paladin and my Deathknight.  The problem is that each time I went into BWL my paladin could not quite solo Razorgore, which in itself is a strange fight to solo anyway.  The equation has two components, firstly that you are geared enough to be able to survive the constant assault of the npcs attacking you as you control the orb, and secondly that your stats are good enough to pump up Razorgore to a point of surviving the assault that ultimately turns on him after you break the first channel.

WoWScrnShot_120814_062252 Last expansion my tanking set was good enough on the Deathknight that I could accomplish this rather easily, but as far as the Paladin goes… my focus was on Retribution so I didn’t quite have the appropriate gear to pull it off.  At 92 however with my focus being leveling tanky…  it worked like a charm and I was able to get through all of the eggs while Razorgore was still at like 75% health.  This was the only real hurdle to soloing the raid, and with that now easy it became simple enough to push my way through.  Positive is that I got the last of my judgment drops from BWL… the negative is that I still need the pants from Molten Core.  When pushing my way through the core like I have so many times before… wouldn’t you know that a binding dropped.  The entire time my raid ran Molten Core we never saw a binding… and in all the hundreds of times I have solo’d the raid myself… I have never seen one either.  Now however I will be adding this to my weekly raid soloing rotation as I chase the OTHER binding from Garr.

Reconciling Deathknight

WoWScrnShot_120814_063810 A huge part of my feelings about Warlords of Draenor as an expansion is how badly I did not like the feel of Blood Deathknights when I played them in alpha.  I could not quite put my finger on it, but they simply felt “wrong”.  To have the class I had been completely devoted to feel crappy going into an expansion, made me not really interested in the expansion at all.  While I have had this grand renaissance of playing a Warrior, I still miss my Deathknight, and with the need of his inscription abilities… I have started working my way through my issues with the class.  I guess at this point it is starting to finally feel “normal” again, and at this point I am staring down the barrel of 93.  There is still quite a bit of stuff that I need to wrap up in Shadowmoon Valley, and as such I am in no real rush to leave it.  I would really like to be able to hit 98 before sitting foot in the Spires of Arak allowing me to completely skip that zone, so I will be milking as much from the zones leading up to that as possible.

Granted at this point I have not tried to tank anything as a Deathknight, but instead just using it as a grossly overpowered leveling spec.  I started off trying to do two handed frost, but quickly decided I needed the survive that blood grants me.  Frost was awesome for bursting things down, but when it came to soloing elites… it struggled.  Blood on the other hand has allowed me to power through pretty much anything I come up against just like blood always has.  I am still getting used to the strangeness of blood boil being part of my normal rotation instead of an ability that I used whenever to spread my diseases.  Also still getting used to the loss of Rune Strike, and using Deathcoil as my runic power dump.  It still gives the Deathknight more of a casterly feel than I really care for, but like I said it is starting to feel “normal” again.  I guess I just needed to spend some time powering through the frustration.

AggroChat Episode 34

Bad Name Great Cat

lilshitgametime This is going to be a really rough post to get through, so I am sitting here avoiding writing.  That said I need to actually get through this, otherwise I will sit here staring at the empty page all day.  Yesterday started off fairly normally, I got up, got showered and went out for breakfast like I have for years.  The problem is what happened during the middle of the day pretty much broke my heart.  Fifteen years ago this past Thanksgiving weekend, the above cat entered our lives as we rescued her from the cold of my parents barn.  There is some confusion about her name, because I originally named her Sasha having always liked the name.  My wife however had a living terror of a student named Sasha in her class that year…  so the name actually stuck.  The only people who ever called her that were the veterinarian and my mother.  When we got her, she was tiny and into everything like kittens always are… there was a common refrain of “you little shit” as we cleaned up one mess she made after another.  Well the name stuck and she was forever called “Little Shit” from that point on.

conkedwithcats She never would have guessed her name was a bad thing however because we said it with the utmost love.  She was my baby girl, but she spent as much time being my wife’s baby as she did mine.  There were so many nights I fell asleep with her purring loudly on our pillows.  She had the most amazing purr that you could literally hear like three rooms away.  For most of her life she always wanted to be somewhere near us, as evidenced by the two pictures above.  In fact I always tried to make sure she had room to lay down either at my feet or on the sofa near me.  You don’t realize how much you have changed your life to fit someone else.  She had all sorts of quirks, like while we were getting ready in the morning she would hop in the shower first and get a drink of water while the shower was running.  Actually that was only one of two ways she was willing to get a drink, the other being from a bright red cup we left on the bathroom floor.  There were many times in the middle of the night I woke up to the sound of that cup banging around, letting me know that I needed to get up and fill it up for her.

Some Rough Times

lilshit We have had two boy cats that had thyroid issues, so we were well aware of the tell tale signs.  A bit over two years ago we started seeing them in her, so we got her into the vet and had been treating her with a topical cream that I had to smear into her ear morning and night.  She was an absolute trooper and stayed still as I “greased” her ears as I referred to it.  About one in three cats experience some digestive problems associated with thyroid disease, so when she started having issues with inappropriate elimination… we thought it was all tied to the issues as a whole.  It became a nightly task for me to come up and pick up the messes left by her during the day.  Frustrating as it might have been, she was worth every bit of the effort.  Over the last two weeks however it had gotten noticeably worse.  She was spending pretty much all of her time sleeping on the couch, and then barely making it off the couch before having to go potty.  Yesterday afternoon we took her into the vet to see if maybe we needed to tweak the dose of thyroid medicine again.

Little shit had always been a waddly cat with a huge belly, and we always attributed it to her just being built “stocky” she reminded us of one of those strong country women, that while they might not win a beautify competition had the sheer presence to get job on the farm done.  As she lost weight her belly became more distended, which again we attributed to her odd body shape.  However upon seeing it the vet was immediately concerned.  Upon taking some X-Rays the news was pretty grim.  There was a massive growth in her stomach region pushing in on her bowels and likely causing pain to eat and got to the bathroom as well.  With her age there was nothing really surgery wise that they would recommend as the likelihood of recovery was pretty slim.  We were left with the extremely hard choice of either taking her home and waiting for her to get worse and die, or letting her go.  She had always been a very clean girl, with extremely preferences in her potty habits.  She hated a dirty litter box, and there were certain kinds of litter that she absolutely refused to use.  I could tell the last year was rough on her, because when she was force to used to bathroom in a bad place there was a look of panic on her face.  With the extreme increase over the last two weeks it felt like we were not terribly far from her messing herself in her sleep, and that is something she would not have wanted to happen.

kitties_sunning So we made the decision that seemed like it was going to be the best for her.  She had struggled with many things over the last few years.  She was struggling to move around the house, and we had to install pet stairs on the sofa for her to get up and down easily.  She had not slept with us for about a month, spending nearly 24 hours a day sleeping in my chair on the sofa, snuggled into blankets that I am sure smelled like me.  When we tried carrying her to bed, she would last for a bit but ultimately hop down and return to the sofa.  Cats do an amazing job of hiding what ails them… and I think she was trying to keep away from us from showing how much she hurt.  I wish I could have fixed her, made it all better…  but I couldn’t this time.  Truth is she has probably always had this mass in her belly, and we always thought it was just her unique shape.  This might have been the first time she ever had an x-ray… and unfortunately it happened far too late.  I wish I could go back in time and have caught this earlier, but I am not really sure how we could have known.  All I know is that I lost one of my best friends, and one of the sweetest animals we will likely ever have.  Yesterday it felt like my world was falling apart, and I am still not sure if the gravity has really hit me.  Laying down last night, as I called for the cats to come to bed… I had to stop myself from yelling for Little Shit.  We will miss you baby girl.

AggroChat Episode #34

I am so thankful to the awesome people that I record with.  During the day yesterday I was not sure if I could go on that night and record a podcast.  Then something happened over twitter.  Someone mentioned me stating that they had found the podcast that day and was really enjoying it.  Turns out they listened from show 33 to 24… so some 14 hours of our podcast in a row.  I have to say hearing that greatly improved my day and gave me that push to keep going last night.  I just was not sure if I could be my normally jolly self, and carry the show…  so Kodra stepped up and did an excellent job as master of ceremonies.  Actually he did a phenomenal job matching pretty much everything that I normally do and then adding his own flourish.

There was much discussion of Final Fantasy XIV as usual with Raven talking about completing her second Novus weapon and beginning a second Nexus grind, and several of us talking about our victory over Ultros and solid attempts on Tier 5 in Binding Coil of Bahamut.  I talk World of Warcraft raiding, and looking forward to beginning the Highmaul Raid after missing Thursday and my raids first two boss kills.  We talk Heroes of the Storm, since this week they finally saw fit to give Rae an invite.  That game is exceptionally fun and better suited for a more casual gamer than League of Legends is.  Over the course of the week we have played quite a bit of it and talk about our personal hero preferences and playstyles.  Kodra runs a much tighter ship than I seem to, because we actually clocked in at just barely over an hour once editing was finished.  Extra special thanks to Kodra for steering the ship while I couldn’t quite muster the oomph to do so.

WoW Xmas Wishlist

Warlords of Faff

WoWScrnShot_120614_102145 The one thing I have to give this expansion credit for is that they really have embraced the gospel of faff.  There are more widgets and thing-a-ma-bobs for me to fiddle with in this expansion than any in any mmo to date.  It seems like I can lose entire mornings with all of the little goals that I seem to have.  Garrisons are a big portion of this, requiring just enough effort to make it worth doing… but requiring just enough time to eat up large blocks of your time.  They are this glorious black hole for people who are like me and are huge fans of short term goals.  On the other side of the equation there are folks who absolutely hate them, because they represent an end to the way certain portions of this game worked.  For the folks that loved farming resources and then using those resources to play the auction house…  unfortunately that time is over.  To a lesser extent you can do this with savage blood because on my server that is going for 2000g each.  However it takes 50 primal spirits to get a single blood, so the amount of farming to the reward is pretty minimal.

I like the way you gradually level your tradeskills and gathering skills through the use of the Garrison.  I was never one who enjoyed grinding either of these things, and being able to know that through doing daily snippets of mining and crafting I can eventually max out makes me a happy person.  I realize there will be a point where I run out of things that I want to do… but it is going to be a long time down the road.  For example I am already plotting removing either my inn or my lumber mill once I have gained all that I can get from them and I figure there will be other buildings that I do the same with.  In other faffy news you notice I am riding an Onyxia mount in the above picture.  As part of this mornings faff while waiting on a cat to decide she was done laying on my arms…  I took my mage over to onyxia.   For some time I have been killing her on every single level 90 character that I thought could reasonably do it each week.  Finally the mount dropped this morning and I can stop that extremely time consuming process.  However I am sure there will be a new target of my mount farming obsession.

WoW Xmas Wishlist

BattleNetLauncher One of the best parts of playing any Blizzard game is the integration with Battle.net so that you can communicate with your friends regardless of what game they happen to be playing.  This was awesome in that even when I was not playing World of Warcraft, I still had access to my friends playing the game through the ease of the battle.net launcher chat.  The system is extremely awesome for what it does, and the wow implementation is great as it works fairly well cross server allowing you to group up with your friends even if you don’t happen to be on the same server.  The problem is however it is still very limiting in that you have a fixed maximum number of friends.  You are allowed to have a maximum number of battle.net based friends be it through the Real ID system or the newer Battle Tag system.

Folks look at me like I am crazy but after being a guild leader for well over a decade you end up with a lot of people that you want to keep up with.  Once you factor in places like twitter and other social media…  the 100 slots are just too limiting.  I hate the process I have to go through regularly of trying to find someone I don’t really talk to that often to delete… in favor of adding someone new to the list.  So the first item on my Xmas wishlist is for Blizzard to greatly increase the number of available battle.net slots.  I hate to admit it, but I would even be willing to pay some sort of premium subscription to have this number uncapped, or at the very least tripled.  Especially once you factor in that I have different groups of friends that play different blizzard games… bumping this number up is going to become crucial.

Cross Server / Cross Game Social Channels

One of the ways we have managed to get around the limited size of friends lists in the past was through the use of social channels.  During the heyday of non-guild based raiding, we had several channels that served the purpose of giving us a much larger extended guild chat for both the Late Night Raiders and Duranub Raiding Company.  These were great, and I would love to see this concept come back into vogue.  The problem is at this point single server channels are just too limiting.  Our raid currently pulls in folks from other servers on a somewhat regular basis, and if we had a raid chat channel, we would really need it to work across realms.  I realize you can have some limited chat functionality with battle.net but what we need are persistent channels similar to the way Diablo 2 used to have them.  That way regardless of server you can keep in touch with your social friends.

To take this to the next step we really need these channels to also exist across all of the current battle.net enabled games.  As it stands currently we have House Stalwart folks that are playing all of the available Blizzard games.  Last night we had groups in Diablo 3, World of Warcraft and a whole bunch of us in Heroes of the Storm.  It would be so much easier to keep a common guild continuity if we could all hang out in the same “guild chat” in the form of a shared cross game battle.net chat channel.  Essentially Blizzard has the beginnings of something amazing here, and they keep building these really infectious games in different genres.  Coupling them all together in a shared communications infrastructure will only serve to reinforce the “stickyness” of each of the individual games.  That way players can feel like they can have the freedom to play ANY game in their line-up without losing any aspect of that rich social structure they have built already.

Final Wish

The final wish I have for blizzard is to let me have European friends, or friends from other regions in general.  I find it maddening that I live my life in a connected world that allows me to have friends from all around the world… but I am playing a game that tries to separate off these players into regional buckets.  I realize this is likely a tall wish but I know so many people thats lives would be made better by it.  Sure I would love to have cross region grouping…  but I would settle with just being able to have some basic “hey how are you doing” style communication between the server regions.  I realize that you guys kinda screwed yourself early on by recycling server names between the regions.  However it seems like your current battle.net connection system takes this into account by referring to the servers by the fully qualified names of “Argent Dawn US” or “Argent Dawn EU”.

Blizzard already does some pretty amazing things, given the age of the game and what has to be an insane server infrastructure.  At the end of the day however we just want to be able to play freely with our friends, without having to ask them to completely uproot their established social structure and server transfer…  or in the case of other regions start completely from scratch.  Warlords of Draenor is an expansion where you have very much learned the lessons of just how important nostalgia is.  Players don’t want to abandon their servers and their existing pools of friends, but at the same time keep meeting new people from around the world that they also would like to play with.  If you can somehow leverage this social connectedness it is only going to serve to strengthen the player bonds to your game.  Here is hoping that you are at least working on some of the things I have talked about, because you have some really good systems at work here, but you are one or two steps away from absolute greatness.

An Evening With Alternative Chat

Bel Folks Stuff Episode 3

This morning sees the release of the third episode of my experimental side podcast, Bel Folks Stuff.  For those who have not followed this development, as the title graphic says I have conversations with interesting people about the stuff they are into.  So far I’ve had such conversations with Gypsy Syl and Rowan Blaze and his wife Scooters.  Both of those were really awesome conversations and I suggest you go back and listen to them at your convenience.  This morning however I am releasing an episode that I have been looking forward to with another good friend the Godmother of Faff behind Alternative Chat.  As a strict devotee of the Faff lifestyle, or at the very least an aspirant to the lifestyle… I always appreciate her bringing the term to public consciousness.  The funny thing is… we really didn’t even talk about this during the podcast.  I believe in letting the conversation go where the conversation goes and we filled up an hour of time chatting away about various bits, and probably could have filled up another hour doing the same.

Of note for this episode I also wanted to make sure that the podcast was available on both iTunes and Stitcher radio to help those folks out who prefer to listen to podcasts through those avenues.  I admit I was nervous with this episode because Alt herself has such an amazing production quality for her own podcasts. I felt like there was no way I could live up to that standard.  That said I feel like this episode is really solid, and that maybe just maybe I am starting to get a hang of what exactly this thing is going to be all about.  I don’t really sit down with a fixed number of questions or anything of the sort, but instead just try and keep the conversation flowing as best I can.  With Alt the conversation flowed naturally even though later in the cast she admitted to having notes of her own.  I still feel like we maybe got more than a few moments of genuine spontaneity there nonetheless.  Speaking of spontaneity, I am always trying to evolve as a person and as such would love to hear your comments on how this side project is working.

Rifftrax and Raiding

With the shit storm that happened Tuesday with the Argent Dawn server, we didn’t actually get to start raiding as a group until last night.  Unfortunately I had other plans, and had to miss the raid.  Some of my co-workers and I have started this tradition of sorts of going to the RiffTrax live shows whenever they happen.  Granted they are not truly “live” for us as in performed in theater.  Nonetheless each time I go I think to myself “I have never laughed this hard ever” and then the next one trumps it.  This go around they were riffing on a show they did during the 5th season of MST3K, a strange version of Santa Claus that involves Santa, Merlin, and some Christmas Devils…  you know the standard fare.  It turns out that apparently the film originally hailed from Mexico where maybe it made more sense?  The final product is this insane dubbed over feature with so many absolutely absurd moments that they had pretty much endless ammunition to make fun of it.  If you are really curious you can check out the MST3K version that someone has dumped on youtube, but apparently it was edited down heavily… and they had all new jokes to make at the movies expense.

As far as the raid goes they apparently had a pretty great night of their own right.  It seems as thought they managed to two shot Kargath, and then down The Butcher a well.  The sounds like they made some good progress on Tectus as well, so they are hoping to easily down that next Tuesday and progress to the next boss.  We apparently ran the raid on personal loot and the RNG gods were good to a lot of players.  I know Rylacus walked away with three pieces of gear, which means he can officially no longer complain about “never getting drops” for the remainder of this expansion.  Admittedly he has always had pretty shitty luck with getting drops he actually needs, but the moment a rare assed mount drops… his dice immediately improve.  I can’t really complain because I too have a collection of rare mount drops, but most of those were diligently farmed… and the only one I actually won when it was relevant was the Fiery Warhorse Reins.

Less Communicative

Last night after my post yesterday, I had a friend check in on me to make sure I was doing okay.  It made me realize that I am doing a pretty bad job of reaching out to say “hey” to people lately.  This friend has been logged into WoW at the same time as me for many nights, but I have been stuck in my own little world quite a bit.  Right now I have a batch of things that needs to be wrapped up at work before going on my holiday vacation after the 19th.  Then there is the daily blogging, and the two podcasts that I am keeping going… one of which records weekly.  After that it seems like I always have some OTHER side project to work on, like my upcoming post for Syl’s Bloggy Xmas.  Someone started a conversation the other day with “I know you are busy but” and I thought…  am I busy?  It seems like I very much am, and as a result when I get busy I tend to encapsulate myself in a little bubble or just shift into “speak if spoken to” mode.

Mostly this morning I wanted to take a moment to say that essentially “its me not you”.  I feel like I am failing miserably at keeping in contact with people during this holiday season.  I promise I still care, and I promise I am still interested in what’s going on in your worlds… but at this point I feel painfully behind in everything.  I’ve always taken the Stanley Spadowski “Drink from the Firehose” approach to information intake.  The problem is I seem to be falling further and further behind as my blog reader consistently has hundreds upon hundreds of posts to read.  Between that and trying to juggle playing World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV and entertain semi-focused raiding in both of them… my attention circuits are maxed out.  I promise I am still out here and still caring… I am just not taking it upon myself to engage directly nearly as much as I previously did.  All of that said… if you need help with something I will do my best to assist in any way I can.  Hopefully after the holiday break things will calm down a bit and I can reach a point of equilibrium.

Honeymoon Over

Old Familiar Beast

Wow-64 2014-11-30 17-23-06-55It feels very much like the honeymoon is now over as far as my return to World of Warcraft.  Each time I have come back there has been something that ultimately drove me back away.  When I came back before the launch of Pandaria, it was the “failed state” feel of the guild and how the once shared guild ethics seemed to have vanished.  When I left last April, it was in part due to the fact that two factions of the guild quite literally hated each other, and it caused this giant rift right down the middle.  Last night it felt like a brand new yet very familiar Maelstrom was opening, and I essentially supported it.  One of the ideological things I have fought for years was the creation of a “Raider” rank in the guild, that granted special access to the guild banks.  I hate the concept of a rank that can in any way be used to say that “this person” is better than “that person”.  The problem is as a former raid leader myself I can see that it is entirely logistically needed.

Last night I helped to set one of these ranks up, and immediately after doing it I started to question my sanity.  This only served to be reinforced later as a new acquisition to the guild started asking questions about how to get into the raid.  This is going to be something that comes up over and over, especially now that there is a very noticeable raid rank.  The problem is don’t have any good answers to give them.  There is no path to follow to get into raiding, because House Stalwart is not a raid guild.  Maybe it is moot at this point but I keep saying that over and over.  I never wanted it to become “just another raid guild” because it used to be more than just a group of folks who mutually benefited from one another.  It used to be this awesome extended family, and while pockets of that still exist…  it feels like that era is just gone.

Honeymoon Over

Wow-64 2014-11-29 00-11-32-89 All of this was compounded by the fact that at the very same time there was an incident that happened over voice chat, about someone potentially being muted that reminded me all too clearly of why I have left in the past.  I have always despised the concept of the haves and have nots.  I’ve always been someone who cared more about attitude and personality than skill, but by the same token this is what has held me back in my own raiding endeavors.  If you want to be successful you do have to erect some barriers saying you have to be  this tall to ride this ride.  I just can’t bring myself to be the person to do that.  I’ve never been able to decide that this group of friends is more important to our success than this group of friends.  I just want everyone to get along and treat each other with some basic human dignity, but that always seems to be impossible.  So last night underscored for me with a big bold line that if House Stalwart is going to be successful moving forward, I need to make sure I never permanently take back the crown.  If I do I will started trying to make the guild a much more egalitarian place again, and tie a boat anchor around what was successful last expansion.

That said things are not as dire as I might make them out to be.  The same raiders that need to be super serious to break the raid, are the ones that were grabbing anyone and their brother trying to make sure they got heirloom weapons for leveling.  So while the bar has to be set pretty high to make sure things are successful, I have a feeling that once the current tier of raid content gets on farm status… those same barriers will start to break down as we have folks that can carry the others to victory.  I just know that the guild was more successful than it has probably ever been during Pandaria as far as raid content clearing, and I need to stay out of the way of whatever mojo is required to return us to that status.  I know that is going to involve a lot of things that fundamentally make me uncomfortable as a human being.  I do however have faith that the raid core knows what it is doing, but I also feel like our fearless raid leader is stressed beyond boundaries.  We have some fundamental problems… like too many melee and tanks… and far too few ranged and healers…  but I feel like that will all be sorted as things move forward.

Sit Down, Shut Up, Enjoy the Ride

Wow-64 2014-11-30 11-57-22-15 If I am going to stay in World of Warcraft for this expansion I am going to have to make some fundamental changes in who I am as a player.  Right now I feel too much responsibility for the happiness of others in the House Stalwart World of Warcraft guild.  It has been my baby for years, and I have nurtured it as such during all of that time… constantly trying to keep an influx of new and awesome people flowing through its doors.  The thing is…  before the launch of Warlords of Draenor I freely gave up the crown, as I have done multiple times since Cataclysm.  I need to realize this means I am no longer in charge, and also by the same token no longer responsible for whatever happens in guild.  Last night Rylacus passed the crown to me, but also gave me a speech that he really thinks it is best if I give it right back.  Ry doesn’t care a bout the power, he just wants to keep me in game and happy as long as he can, because he knows each time I start taking responsibility for the happenings of all of these people… I burn out and run away screaming into the night.  I need to also allow myself to be absolved of the guilt that comes from giving up that crown.

There is a thing I do really well, and that thing is acting as the guild cheerleader and chief recruiter.  I am always going to be trying to find awesome and interesting people to draft into my family, because ultimately that is precisely what a guild is to me…  a big extended and sometimes contorted family.  It is joked that I have a white panel van full of candy, and drive around abducting people into our guilds… and more or less that is precisely what I do.  I have always done it for World of Warcraft, and I currently do it for Final Fantasy XIV…  for a guild there that I have NEVER been the leader of.  I feel like I never much cared about actually directing the people once I got them, my focus has always been on the acquisition of more of them… hoping that the rest would sort itself out in the meantime.  The problem is… just because I am friends with two people… doesn’t mean that they will be friends.  Basically at this point if I am going to be happy in World of Warcraft, I need to be the friendly voice in guild chat and let other people worry about the minutiae.  I hope that House Stalwart can remain mostly the same place it has been since launch, but I expect we are going to go through some rough times until folks realize fully… that this is not a raid guild, and raid membership is not guaranteed.

Tower Diving Time

Server Go Boom

Last night was the launch of Highmaul in World of Warcraft, or at least it should have been.  For the majority of the night we tried in vain to log into Argent Dawn.  While a handful of us made it to the character select screen, even fewer of us made it in game.  Those in game however could not actually play the game, as the world was just fundamentally broken…  mobs un-lootable or not spawning at all.  All of the problems seemed to be related to the Chicago data center, where the Ruin battle group that Argent Dawn is attached to is located.  Lately there has been a lot of talk of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks going on against the various MMO providers, but this is a nebulous concept that most people struggle to really understand.  Thankfully there is a site like IPViking that can visualize this traffic in a way that it makes sense.  Watching their attack map is like watching missile launches in some war game simulation…  both terrifying and mesmerizing at the same time.  The above image sadly is not from last night, but just one they have as an example on their website.

During the launch of Warlords of Draenor, there were very clear attacks against Blizzard.  Last night however I did not actually see attacks targeting blizzard, but instead attack after attack targeting the St Louis area.  I could only assume that the attacks are associated in some way to the things surrounding Ferguson in the St Louis metro area.  This however speaks to the way the internet actually works, instead of the way that we all assume it works.  The hard facts are there are a limited number of pathways across the United States, and if an attack is blocking traffic from reaching the Chicago data center, it is effectively also blocking anyone from reaching those servers.  I ran a traceroute last night and from Tulsa area my packets went to Dallas before going over to the AT&T network somewhere in the vicinity of Wichita before the packets just died.  I can only assume that the packets kept getting lose in the maelstrom of attacks between me and the Chicago data center.

Tower Diving Time

HeroesOfTheStorm_x64 2014-12-02 22-35-45-233 After a point I gave up on trying to get into anything within World of Warcraft, and wandered between a couple of games.  My original intent was to do some Syrcus Tower on my Bard job, but when I got into Final Fantasy XIV the dps queue for Syrcus was reporting 30 minutes… which is significantly longer than I have ever actually seen it.  So I abandoned that notion and instead decided to play some Heroes of the Storm.  My good friend Rae finally managed to get her invite from Blizzard and apparently spent the better part of last night playing it as well.  I had a strong feeling that she would like the game, based on her seeming love of League of Legends.  For me it is a much stronger game because I like its focus on the team win, and not so much on individual performance.  That said Rae was still constantly checking the meters during the matches, which I can only hope will be something that fades over time as those League tendencies potentially fall away.

I had really not played it much since the game reset that happened awhile back, wiping out our progress.  As such I had completed the tutorial but was still sitting at level 1, having not actually played any real matches to level up with.  Thanks to the +50% xp friend bonus, I managed to level up last night to five, and unlock many of the features of the game.  I’ve noticed that they have front loaded a lot of the stuff so that you get the interesting items sooner.  At level 5 it feels like I have all of the tools needed to really play the character how I would want to.  I am a huge fan of Muradin and in all the  times playing the game, that has been the character that most fits what I want to play.  That said I am also rather fond of Raynor and Tyrael… and if I am going to play a support you can’t beat Uther.  I think the main reason why I like Muradin is his Avatar ability that causes him to grow in size and become extremely sturdy, allowing me to tower dive obstacles if I really need to, or survive team fights.  With passive health regeneration he has some serious sustain, and most of the time I never actually needed to return to base.

Bloggy XMAS Countdown

I feel bad that I did not advertise this sooner, but there is an event that I am going to be part of that is happening in the blogosphere.  The awesome Syl of MMO Gypsy had this idea of creating a virtual advent calendar of sorts within the blogging community.  Apparently in her country it is custom to decorate the various shops and houses around town to represent a day of the advent.  As such she has created this truly awesome Advent Calendar of gaming blogs.  I am currently scheduled to be one of the posters for 12/9 and I will begin prepping for that soon.  The problem is I am still not quite sure what I am going to talk about.  I have a few ideas, but we will just have to see how that sorts out.  In the meantime this is day three of the postings and I highly suggest you go back to the first and read your way forward.  I thank Syl for coming up with the idea and making it happen, and once again there has been this massive outpouring of support which is truly awesome.

Inky and the Sneeze

Made in the Shade

ffxiv 2014-12-01 20-01-21-873Last night was a night entirely devoted to Final Fantasy XIV as Monday nights are the raid night for the Greysky Armada the free company we are all a part of.  As such I forwent logging into World of Warcraft at all and just milled around aimlessly in game until time for raid.  I say aimlessly but there were a lot of things that actually happened, not the least of which was convincing @CurlyWench to hang out with us on Teamspeak.  I asked if she needed anything run, and next thing we are pulling together a group to run Haukke Manor…  with me healing it.  Honestly Haukke is one of the easier ones to heal, apart from that final boss fight.  She was tanking, and uncertain of her abilities, and fortunately or unfortunately she ended up in a group with two tanks who were more than happy to share secrets.  The run went extremely smoothly, and I managed not to let us die.

When we got out of the dungeon run, one of our guildies Cylladora was up to some Shenanigans.  She said over Free Company chat that anyone that came and sat in our pool with her would get a present.  So over the course of a few minutes our pool was full of people reclining wearing spiffy new sunglasses that she had made us all.  It was an extremely awesome gesture, and managed to create a moment when we were all inhabiting the same place at the same time, and talking through /say instead of tells or free company chat.  One of the things that Final Fantasy XIV has mastered is creating situations where players need to interact with one another.  The housing district we are part of is extremely vibrant, and I cannot go to the market board down from our house without receiving at least one or two /cheers and /hugs.

This has admittedly been a bit of a stark contrast from World of Warcraft lately, and it has been something weird to get accustomed to.  The Garrison system is awesome, but it has done an extremely good job of isolating players and keeping them from mingling.  We might all be sharing the same actual space but we are each phased into our own instance of it.  As such we really have no need for Ashran or Stormwind or any other player hub, but instead spend the majority of our time hanging out in our private town.  Admittedly I am mostly fine with this, because there is a lot of negativity in my Warcraft server community that I really don’t feel like exposing myself to on a constant basis.  That said it is nice to see the same people every time you go to the bank, or hit a mailbox…  and instead we just see our collection of scripted bots.  Final Fantasy on the other hand has somehow mastered the ability to bring people together… and ultimately keep them together.

Inky and the Sneeze

ffxiv 2014-12-01 20-31-41-353

The 2.4 Final Fantasy XIV Patch introduced the continuation of the Hildebrand storyline.  For those who are not familiar with this name, he is a bumbling investigator and international man of mystery that solves mysteries by quite literally falling into the correct answer through pure accident generally speaking.  This is essentially how Final Fantasy XIV introduces pure absurd concepts from previous games, and brings them into this world without completely breaking cohesion.  The Final Fantasy series has several completely silly bosses, and one of the more memorable ones from Final Fantasy VI is Ultros.  While I love Ultros, he might be a bit dated for modern sensibilities… since he is essentially a walking tentacle hentai joke.  This time once again he is paired with his “buddy for life” Typhon.  Some of you might remember the pair working the Coliseum in Final Fantasy VI, and this time around they are working at the Coliseum in Uldah.

The quest line leading up to Dragons Neck is absolutely insane, and as such the fight itself is equally insane.  Basically the crux of the fight is trying to stay in the arena.  Various fights will knock you out of the ring, at which point so long as there is ANYONE else in the ring you can run right back in.  However there are some absolutely horrible attacks that can knock everyone out of the ring if not interrupted.  I won’t go much further into the strategy other than that, as not to spoil the fight for people.  We managed to get the fight down in spite of ourselves and it dropped the Wind-Up Ultros mini pet… which means we are likely to start doing this as the warm up for Binding Coil each week until all of us get this awesome pet.  It was at times a frustrating fight, but also a really enjoyable break from the standard raiding faire.

Twintania Final Phase

ffxiv 2014-12-01 22-13-45-989 The main show last night was us returning to Turn 5 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut to work on Twintania.  This fight is the great killer of many raids in Final Fantasy XIV and holds the key to unlocking the Second Coil of Bahamut.  I know many people who have struggled at this fight for ages never quite able to push across the finish line.  In our first night of trials we barely made it to phase two of the fight, or more so we barely made progress into phase two.  Last night we polished the first two phases, phase three, and made significant progress on phase four which is really the last major phase of the fight.  The final phase is simply “don’t stand in fire” which is a lesson we have long ago mastered.  There is a thirteen minute hard enrage, but I don’t foresee us getting even vaguely close to that.  In fact we were doing extremely well on the final attempt… and had we not run out of time on the duty timer… we might have downed her last night.

The end result however is that all of us are hungry to get back in there next week and wreck this fight, allowing us to move on to the Second Coil of bahamut.  Twintania is one of those fights that you really have to experience rather than be taught through videos.  Quite honestly I find most fights I need to experience to really learn.  I am not one of those people that can watch a series of videos and grasp the key concepts needed to get through a fight.  I can however read a written description of the abilities and piece together how things work.  The problem that we keep running into is that no one wants to write out a full length description of the fight, or go into any sort of explanation as to WHY things work.  The videos are keen on saying “just do this” or “just do that” without explaining why they are doing it.

This became super clear with phase three of the fight when Twintania dive bombs the party.  All of the guides told us to meet in one place, this little depression and then run to the center of the room.  We tried this over and over before finally guessing at what was actually happening.  It turns out this is straight up a geometry exploit that they are trying to do.  In truth the fight should be exactly like Onyxia during the deep breath phase, where Twintania dive-bombs in a straight line towards the location where the marked player was standing when the symbol appeared over their head.  The geometry hack is dependant upon everyone in the party standing in this little depression in the map, which means Twintainia actually dive-bombs a much lower plane than the rest of the ground.  So all we have to do is run to higher ground and the attack will miss us entirely.

This is totally a hack, but apparently one that Square Enix has yet to patch… likely because they thought it was a clever way of handling the encounter.  The problem is not a single video explained how this mechanic worked, or why doing this one thing negated the attack.  Once we grasped upon exactly what was going on, we got it down in  moments and immediately started progressing into the final real phase of the fight.  Maybe I am old, or more so I know I am old…  but maybe it is starting to have consequences.  I find Youtube as a generally horrible way to learn information, and in all cases I would rather have an explanation of how something works written out in long form… rather than someone’s video of them doing whatever it is that they are wanting to convey.  Maybe I am just stuck on the paradigm of video as entertainment means… instead of video as learning technique.  In any case… we managed to figure things out as a group and hopefully next week will have officially cleared the first coil of bahamut.