Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yesterday, my guild and I downed our first Firelands boss, and much to my surprise, it was the one I figured we would wipe on for weeks: Lord Rhyolith. As anyone in a raiding guild knows, Rhyolith is probably one of the easiest bosses in the instance, so it really shouldn’t be a problem for any group… except if the raid has trouble adapting to stupid gimmicks that Blizzard thinks will be awesome and unique fight mechanics.

Besides certain people always standing in fire, all the mages pulling aggro, and our raid leader being so “outspoken” that we have to keep replacing people who ragequit, I’d consider gimmicky fights major problems for us as a group. Personally, I hate them, not because they are particularly difficult, but because the Vent talk always sound sooo stupid.



“I told you guys to hit the LEFT foot!”

“But someone else said to hit the right foot.”

“Only I call out which foot to attack! If you had hit the LEFT foot instead of the RIGHT foot, he wouldn’t have run into the LAVA!”

This is usually the point at which I wonder what I’m doing with my life.

We also made the decision of who would be getting the legendary staff first, and… the guild is still intact and didn’t get ripped apart by drama YAAAY! The monarch and his aristocracy chose our boomkin. I’m just glad it wasn’t one of the mages since I like it when the tanks tank things, and that staff doesn’t do much when the wearer pulls aggro and dies.

Damn mages.

-A lock.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Bone to Pick with WoW's Greatest Villain

Out of all the characters in WoW I could have a vendetta against, the one who I think is the most evil, conniving, and deserving of being blown up by a raid team is…


Yup, the Life-Binder herself. While everyone else may consider her to be the quintessence of good and compassion for life in the Warcraft universe, I see her for what she really is: a warmonger.

Hey, hear me out! I wasn’t always so disenchanted with the Dragon Queen. In the Wrath expansion, I enthusiastically joined the army of heroes in the battle against Malygos at her call. After all, the logic was sound; Malygos’s twisted outlook on magic “abuse” was a danger to mortals on Azeroth, and killing him was for the greater good in order to save a larger number of lives. I felt the same satisfaction I always feel after defeating a major raid boss, like I played an integral part in the future safety of Azeroth. Completing the Eye of Eternity definitely provided better satisfaction than the bittersweet end to the Lich King, when all we did was kill an evil Arthas just to swap in a good guy in his place and trap Bolvar there forever. Goddamnit.

But then Cataclysm came, and Alexstrasza had turned right around, pointed at someone else, and told all of us our next target. Wtf? We just killed someone for you in the last expansion. Suddenly I felt like I was a pawn in her own personal vendettas against her old friends. Why are we, heroes of the Alliance and Horde, peons of the Dragon Queen in her violent yet well-reasoned grudges?

Despite the destruction that Deathwing wrought merely emerging out of the planet, Alexstrasza’s newly redirected battle plans made me suspicious of her motives, and it also made me rethink what I had done in the past under her command. I had so willingly fought against Malygos with no doubt whatsoever that I was doing the right thing, but now I wonder if Alexstrasza was just using me to get rid of someone with whom she had issues. I wonder if she’s using us now in the same way.

So far, the lore gives no hint of malice in Alexstrasza’s character, so for the player, there shouldn’t be any doubt that Deathwing has to die just like Malygos’s death was necessary to save lives. But if there’s anyone in WoW that makes me doubt the sincerity of intentions, it’s her. It’s so easy to use “for the greater good” logic to rationalize murder, and she does it time and again, like so many of our foes have done before, including Malygos. This time around, I feel hesitant at the prospect of being a savior of Azeroth when I’m not quite sure that my enemy deserves the death everyone else says he does.


Wednesday, June 22, 2011


With Patch 4.2 coming, I’ve been so caught up lately in final preparations. Honestly, all the casters are caught up in final preparations: transmuting truegolds, collecting chaos orbs, and generally anticipating becoming the first player chosen by our guild leader to wield the new legendary staff, the first caster legendary since vanilla. We’re all overly optimistic for sure.

With all that going on, I had just managed to watch the Firelands trailer a few days ago and I was PISSED! I had heard rumors that Thrall had a new girlfriend, but when I saw him wrap his arm around Aggra’s waist, my eyes popped out of their sockets and tried to ocularly bitch slap her.

Obviously, I’m upset that my favorite character in WoW lore is now taken. For some reason, Thrall seemed the type to be an eligible bachelor forever, asexually placing the needs of others before himself, like an orc Yoda. Plus, once he and Aggra have a child, he’s at greater risk of being killed off by the Blizzard developers, because you know they looove orphans.

Hungry for more information on this new woman, I bought and read The Shattering, which I had been meaning to read, but raiding (and school, maybe) has been my main priority for a few months. I won’t be spoiling anything by mentioning that the story of how they meet is pretty unspectacular: the usual “don’t get along at first but then grow accustomed to each other’s complementary personalities and fall in love” type of deal. What I found really sad was that a shamanic advisor mentions Jaina as a perfect mate for Thrall if only she wasn’t human. Despite the whole mixed-race(lol) thing, Jaina and Thrall were supposed to be WoW’s couple, and their denial of each other because of their differences irritated the hell out of me. Now Jaina will forever be the Other Woman, and I’ll have to figure out in my rampant imagination who she will hook up with in the end.

The rest of the book was amazing, by the way, and I highly recommend reading it. My choice for star of the show: Anduin Wrynn. Who knew he would grow up to be such a compassionate little cupcake? I think I found my new crush.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tits Team #1!

My old guild had "girls".

IRL, I’m one of those girls who has very few female friends, hanging out with and talking to mostly guys. It’s probably because I never had much experience spending time with women despite being one myself. Plus, there’s that one-sided sexual tension I feel when she’s really hot. Goddamn social awkwardness/bisexuality dual spec.

This week, I’ve started reaching out to reinforce my connection with other women in the easiest way I know how: in game. Somehow, my guild has managed to recruit a large percentage of the female gaming population on the server, formerly only rumored to exist. My fellow ladies and I in our raid group created a password-protected channel called TeamTits, a penis-free zone where we can talk freely about... the raid. So far, our conversations have been pretty limited to rolling our virtual eyes when Vent chatter becomes overly testosterone charged about MineCraft. But I’m sure we’ll eventually use the intimate and confidential space to discuss important issues about being women in a predominantly male arena and how to consistently overcome Recount’s glass ceilings to top DPS and healing charts.

Unfortunately, someone confessed to our raid leader that she didn’t want to be included in Team Tits, and she didn’t tell him why. The rest of us can only guess that she either thinks the name is offensive or she is just as uncomfortable with other women as I am. If it’s the latter, then there’s no way I can let her leave the team! After all, I’m sucking it up, seeking camaraderie with my fellow women, and grasping for common topics beyond the fact that we’re in a 25-man raid group full of one-up’ers. You know... when someone tells a story, they have to tell better one. We have twenty of them. All one-up’ing each other. For four hours.

Hopefully, it’s just contention about the word “tits,” which admittedly is a little crass. If that’s the case, I’ll propose that we change the name to OvaryOffensive. Or BoobBrigade. Or BraBattalion.

I’m full of these.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Everything I Learned in Life, I Learned From Gaming.

After all the years of schooling, careful parenting, and going to (and dozing off in) church, it turns out that all of my life lessons ended up coming from video games. Aside from the usual “don’t stand in fire” and “turtles are jerks,” there have been more than a few jarring epiphanies leading to advice that helped me immensely in academics, work, and social life. Plenty of other people have listed their lessons learned from raiding and gaming. My list is better. It has Magmaw on it.

1. If I want something done and done right, I have to do it myself.

I learned this while raiding. Sure, I had to trust my team and work as a cohesive group from week to week, but when it came to killing an add or fearing it away, I learned not to wait for someone else to do it while the raid lead yelled that we were going to die.

This advice has worked for me IRL too. At a job, all of the employees work together toward a common goal, whether it’s customer service, meeting a deadline, or building something. But if it’s a choice between focusing on my job and letting something important in the office not get done, and taking a few minutes out of my time to ensure the continued smooth operation of the workplace, I tend to choose to take initiative for the good of the team as long as I’m not neglecting my own duties.

2. If I don’t work towards fulfilling dreams and life goals, I will eventually go crazy.

The original The Sims games were great, but when The Sims 2 introduced the aspirations system, it became a work of microcosmic genius. Fulfilling minor wants like kissing a significant other or gaining skills improved one’s mood, which in turn gave the extra boost required to do jobs well. What really spoke to me was the “Lifetime Want,” a life goal that, once achieved, would put a character in a perpetual good mood state for the rest of its virtual life.

And when a Sim went through day after day not fulfilling any of its desires, the poor thing would actually get depressed, sob randomly, and eventually have to see a shrink. It’s like the Sim is me! I could spend the rest of my life getting by with achieving minor wants, or I could set a (realistic) life goal and work towards a more lasting happiness. Oh the choices in the life a Sim… er… human.

Another thing I learned from The Sims was that ordering Chinese takeout and pizza is expensive and fattening (link fat sim), but that was a little less poignant.

3. Some things are more important at certain times than other things.

Despite the confusing wording, this was a pretty harsh lesson for me. I used to WoW like it was my job. Honestly, I still play a lot. It's pretty difficult to be a raider and not play an amount that normal people would consider excessive. But during the last couple years at my first university, video games were trumping every priority I previously had, including class, homework, and hanging out with the friends I used to see every week. It wasn’t until I dropped out of school and had to get a full-time job to support myself that I finally cut out WoW, because I didn’t have the money for it.

Above everything, the big lesson here was to manage my time. Now, I’m back in school, working part-time, and still playing video games a good deal, because I know that at certain points in the week/semester, assignments and exams will have priority, and at other times when I have a little room to slack off, I can jump around Stormwind without guilt.

There are plenty of other things that I learned from raiding, mostly about fire. They'll have to wait for another time. Come back for more silliness!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lunk: A New Hero for Azeroth’s Carebears

Every WoW player has experienced the moment of clarity at least once. It’s the one time out of a few thousand that you’re killing mobs for a quest when you finally stop and wonder... Why am I always being called on to commit mass murder on everything from wolves to fellow humanoids to ghosts just idly haunting an area no one cares about anyway? By the time the train of thought arrives at wondering what’s the point of all this bloodshed, it becomes apparent that almost every quest mob you’ve ever run into wants you to kill something or other, and if downing a raid boss is acceptable (which it is because they drop LOOT!), then it should be ok to kill everything else in the game. After all, no one wants to be a hypocrite, and there’s nothing more obnoxious than meeting a vegetarian who never eats meat ever except every once in a while, he eats bacon.

Now and always, the honor-hungry and battle-loving RPers have had plenty of leadership characters to support with militant fervor. Any of the faction leaders come to mind with their duties to protect their people with whatever armed force is necessary. Even little Mekkatorque took up arms in his attempt to wrest control of Gnomeregan. And of course, there is Alexstrasza, protector of life and warmonger extraordinaire for two expansions. Personally, I’m getting sick of her bossing around the heroes of the Alliance and Horde in her little vendettas against her former pals, but without her, Malygos might have killed us all way before the Cataclysm ever happened.

However, with the new questlines in the Old Kingdoms comes a brand new hero, one that I can get behind though hopefully not literally. As innocent as a child and probably with the same mental capacity, Lunk the ogre shows the player how to do all of the dirty work that various quest givers require without the usual brute force of slaying mobs. Need to steal some Dark Iron wares? Why kill them for it when you can just sit on them? Though the tactics have moved from dispatch to torture, it’s a small step in a world otherwise full of sheer brutality and “no questions asked” mercenaries.

There’s already popular support for Lunk in the WoW community. His alternative methods made Paddlefoot on Wowhead rethink our methods.

“The funny thing is, while he's obviously meant to be humorous and I was laughing out loud at his antics, I found that reading his text did give me pause for a moment. Why am I doing all this killing? Aren't there other ways of solving Azeroth's problems than non-stop, wholesale slaughter?” [1]

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like for Lunk to keep teaching me the ways of the pacifist ogre, Lunk can’t follow us around through all of Azeroth. Any hero who wants to quest and get phat loot in the World of Warcraft has to slay things unapologetically left and right. But I’ll never forget the short amount of time that I spent running around Searing Gorge with Lunk, exploring new ways to get the old things done, and a lot of other players will remember just as fondly how he showed us the power of good intentions.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Drain Life Hotfix Prompts RP Worthy Debates

In a recent hotfix, Blizzard decided to implement the nerf to Drain Life that was originally slated for Patch 4.2 a bit earlier than the player base expected it. The warlock community was already up in arms when it saw the proposed change and not because it was an unwarranted decrease in overall DPS that would be detrimental to raid performance. Rather, the issue was the replacement of Drain Life in our rotation by Shadow Bolt, a decidedly less “Affliction-y” spell.

This has led to criticism by players who find the complaining ridiculous as the warlocks in question are arguing about what is basically a cosmetic issue, much like the numerous threads of petitioners for green fire that existed before Fel Flame appeared. As a warlock, I have a vested interest in the debates, but even as a general player, I find the arguments valid even outside of an RP immersion-ist context. There are many reasons that players choose the specs that they do. The major one for damage classes is maximizing DPS, and every raider and/or Recount whore has this priority in mind. Another is utility, i.e. PVE vs. PVP or situational advantages for certain abilities like Priests’ Archangel.

But another important factor in choosing specs is play style. No matter how strongly someone believes that spec is irrelevant as long as s/he is pumping out as much DPS as s/he possibly can on a boss, as soon as the raid leader wants a player to try something different, everyone gets defensive at least a little bit about their choices. Whether they use ElitistJerks to justify their talent points or cite special fight mechanics that make a certain spec superior to another, we all want to play how we like.

In such a highly visual game like WoW, cosmetics can play a role in whether or not we enjoy playing by affecting what we have to stare at for hours at a time. If something is bothering us about how we play, it can nag at the psyche like there’s a huge hunter pet’s ass in our field of vision that we wish we could do something about. It isn’t always about being overly resistant to change, though it definitely can be. Sometimes, we just want our characters to fit in with our ideas of our virtual world.

Ultimately, what fits in with the lore and mechanics of WoW are up to Blizzard. If they decide that Affliction locks should use Shadow Bolt as filler instead of Drain Life, it’s a subtle difference we have to accept until they deem our arguments valid. But it doesn’t stop us from putting our arguments out there. Every class has had issues like this, from some druids wanting perma-tree back to the validity of dwarf mages. Despite what all the trolls may think is a ridiculous waste of time, these debates are as serious as the game that we’re arguing about, and that differs for everyone.

-Avia rhymes with Moldavia.