Sunday, 1 January 2012

Well, here we go again!

Wow, I managed to get 8 posts into this blog before letting it gather dust on the side of the road.

I have my reasons, the main one being that it's a bit hard to dedicate yourself to writing a blog about playing WoW as a pair, when you've both become really disillusioned by what WoW has become. It's now been about a year since we both quit, just shortly after hitting the endgame of Cata and just feeling so burnt out about the whole ordeal.

I felt that the 1-60 experience in WoW is now superb, but I just didn't feel any love for heroics or raiding in cata. The changes to healers put so much stress on my other half, that it just wasn't fun to heal any more. As for raiding, it was just the same treadmill we had been running on for years and years, and for us, it was just time to part ways with it.

I can't even say that Pandaria is enough to bring us back, as it's offering content we plain don't care about that much.

That's not to say that our love for co-op gaming has died, as that is as strong as it's ever been. We recently took our hand to League of Legends, and love it dearly. Something about its whole design and artistic approach really appeals to us, as we'll always take sparkly ladies over grim-dark brutality.

So yes, it's time to resurrect this blog, as part of my new years resolutions. By this time next year, I want to see at least 250 new posts on this blog, as I attempt to create something that I'll be proud of.

Well, here we go then!

Monday, 30 August 2010

The scars that Wrath has left on the face of Azeroth.

As I said before, Mouse and I have recently been levelling a pair of alts before, well, new mains really. (A quick “Woo and yay” to them, as they have now ventured into the cold north’s of Northrend.) There was something that we really started to notice while running the TBC dungeons, and that was, the general state of tanks.

Tanks have been spoilt by wrath, and the nature of how heroics are run these days. No matter the instance, it usually comes down to the same tactic. Charge into a group of mobs and hit your AoE attacks, and let the DPS pick them off one by one. This is fine for heroics at 80, as it’s a viable tactic. It means pretty much anyone can pick up a either a sword and shield, a high stamina two-hander or just their own two paws, and be a fairly effective tank as long as you can out aggro the DPS.

In the TBC dungeons though, this behaviour just doesn’t cut the mustard, and so many times I found myself resting my head firmly in my palms as I watched them try to just zerg their way through the content.
A fine example, would be the instance “Blood Furnace”. Now, as I stated before, during the TBC days, I used to play as a protadin, and Mouse as a holy priest. We had that place down to a fine art. Every pull I knew off by heart. The packs that required you to nip into the small alcoves at the side to get out of LoS, so that their casters don’t pull any of the many patrols, and the pulls that only had a window of one or two seconds in which you could pull them without chain pulling the entire room.

But I watched as tank after tank was left dumbfounded by the instance. Wondering why they died from pulling an extra pack. It wasn’t their fault though, how could it be, they are the invincible tank, they can stand up to anything and come out smelling of roses. Each time, it was clearly the healers fault, or at least, that’s what they thought.

It’s not like I remained silent about it either, each time, Mouse and I tried to explain to the tank about how these dungeons were different from what they were used to. About how they had to take it at a steady pace, and call out for CC if needed. They were informed that you can’t just go into these packs with a gun-ho method. There are mobs here that will just kill the entire melee group in an instant, if not kited around properly by the tank.

From what I’ve seen of the cataclysm beta so far, it looks like those days are coming to an end. Blizzard stated that they wanted to make dungeons and instances a challenge again, that you should just be able to mindlessly AoE your way through trash, and from what I’ve seen so far, this does seem to be the case.

Have a quick look at this Stonecore run that was posted by Totalbiscuit.

Look! Trash where you have to target certain mobs, Pulls that start with CC, and massive amounts of punishment for acting like an idiot! It’s fantastic to see these sort of mechanics back in the game. Yes! I did just say “CC”, crowd control, the controlling of mobs to stop them killing the party in an angry fashion.

Roll on the cataclysm, and teach these lazy punks a thing or two about tanking again. If you have an issue with anything that has been stated in this post, then you need to have a think about why you do. It’s not that the instances are “hard”, on normal mode; blood furnace isn’t hard at all. If you take it at the pace it was intended, you can breeze through the place. It just means you have to you your brain for once.
Oh, which brings me onto what class I’m going to roll in Cata. As I sated before, I was going to originally roll as a Goblin rogue. But after seeing this behaviour, it really made me want to tank again. And even though shammies are getting a taunt in Cata (which I can only expect to mean that we can expect to see both sahmmies and hunters becoming the default kiters in Cata), I can hardly tank with my little moo-cow.
So naturally, I’m going to pick a tanking class for cata, and with it being the cataclysm, I may as well pick the new class to the Tauren. That’s right, in cata I will be... A warrior!


Actually, given that I linked one of his videos in here, I would like to take this chance to highly recommend Totalbiscuit’s videos and podcasts. I’ve been listening to him for over 5 years now, back when he was doing Blue plz and Epic on WoW-radio, and with age, he’s really come a long way in terms of WoW commentary. Just don’t expect to agree with everything he says, nor expect to hear much about “your class” unless your class is a mage, well,a troll mage to be specific.

Here to help, kinda.

Good grief, I’ve had a few hectic days. The last time I posted, I was giddy as a loon about getting my laptop back from Dell.

Well, let’s just say, that never happened, at least, not on that day. That’s right, it’s ranting time!

Oh boy, if you’ve ever contacted customer services for anything, then I’m guessing you have at least one horror story. Over the past week, we’ve managed to collect a few. The incompetence of some of these places astounds me. I had been waiting patiently for the return of Marlowe for about a week, without hearing anything from Dell’s customer services to say when it would be coming back. So, I decided to give them a call to find out how it was going. I waited on hold patiently for the good space of 20 minutes, and when my call was finally answered. I was asked for my service tag.

“Oh, where can I find that?”
“The service tag is found on the back of the laptop”
“But the laptop is in for repair.”
“Ok, can I have your customer number then, that’s found on any of the invoices.”
“Can we do it by my address? As I don’t have an invoice in front of me.”
“Can you get an invoice?”
“Yes, but it will take a minute or two.”
“Then call back with it, thank you, goodbye”

And with that, he hung up. I kid you not, he just hung up on me, leaving me slightly gobsmacked about the further 20 minutes I would have to wait because he couldn’t be bothered to wait a single minute.
So, I grabbed an invoice, and waited until I finally got through to another advisor.

“Can I please have your service tag.”
“Oh, I don’t have one at the moment, as it’s on the back of my laptop that’s currently in for repairs. I have my customer number though”
“Yes, I’ll take that then.”
*Reads out the customer number*
“So, how can I help?”
“I’d just like to know when my laptop would be returning.”
“I cannot give you that information without your service tag”
“But, that’s on the back of the laptop, if I had known I needed it, I would have wrote it down.”
“I’m sorry, but it’s not late yet, is it?”
“Well no, but I would like to know what day it’s returning.”
“It’s not late, so it’s not a problem, anything else I can help you with?”
“I find it hard to believe that you can’t find out when it would be returning to me, surely you have some sort of status report for it?”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
“You haven’t helped me with this, so no.”
“Thank you.”
And with that, he also hung up.

I wish I could have said that was the end of this whole ordeal, but no. It continued. As I returned home that same evening to find one of those horrible cards slipped through our door. You know the one I mean, “I’m sorry, we came to call, but no one was home”. That one! Needless to say, I wasn’t too happy, or in the most cheery of moods about this, so I gave the couriers a quick ring to find out when I could get it redelivered.
To which, I was answered with, “I’m sorry, we can’t send this out again without Dell’s permission, as we have already tried to make two deliveries.”

Right, I normally have a very good temper, an excellent one even. I don’t normally shout, I don’t get too angry about little things. After an evening of wipes in WoW, I still have a pretty level head. But (and yes, here comes the big old “but”), I hit the roof with them. At least, I would have, had Mouse not snatched the phone away from my hands before I could unleash the gates of hell at them. She explained the whole story to them, and got them to agree to a delivery for the following day. Like the little trooper she is.
That following day, we both waited in patiently, and at 12.30, we received a phone call, confirming that the laptop would arrive before 5.30 that evening. So, 5pm rolls by, and I’m starting to get a bit concerned, so I pop a quick phone call to see how it was going. And this is kinda how the conversation went:

“Hi, I’m just making sure there are no problems with the delivery.”
“We attempted the delivery today, and no one was in.”
“Well, that’s nonsense; we have been in all day.” And we had, we daren’t leave the room near the door or put any radios on, for fear of not hearing the driver.
“Well, the driver arrived at 12.35, and no one was...” there was a slight hesitation in her voice while stating this. “... we rang you today at 12.30, so we know you were in. Hang on, let me speak to the driver and their depot.”

So, we were stuck on hold for a little bit, after which we were informed, “Ok, I’ve just been in contact with them, and they are still claiming that they arrived, but it’s absolute garbage if you ask me. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can do about this today, I’ve tried every option, but the best they can do is get it to you before 12pm tomorrow morning.”

Reluctantly I agreed, feeling rather frustrated about the whole ordeal, but FINALLY, good old Marlowe returned to us. Welcome back home! (Even if they didn’t replace your battery and give you a quick format like they said they would.)

But yes, bloody customer service! But, at least I got that out of my system, now to make an equally irritated WoW post.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Marlowe returns tomorrow!

Oh Marlowe, Sir Marsy-pan, how I've missed you. Yes, we're one of THOSE couples, the type that names their electronics and gadgets after things. Our iPod is called Ceol, our authenticator is “Neko-mini kodo” (Why? I haven't a clue!) and our laptop? Well, that's named after the greatest little rattie that ever did live, Marlowe (That ginger beast above <3 ).

Unfortunately, Marlowe's daddy is a bit of a clumsy oaf, and managed to knock him off a table while turning around. The damage was pretty severe, one broken screen and, what could only be described as, a very bad noise when the laptop was tilted at any angle.

Let's just say the wife aggro shot through the roof, and I was forced to dig out my 7 year old beast of a laptop. We're talking about an absolute behemoth of a machine. Big, clunky, hefty and slow... kinda like me. This THING, well, the time from clicking open chrome to it actually running, takes about 2 minutes. The keyboard is missing 3 pretty important keys, “Tab”, “F”, and F5. I have no idea what this says about me. Something about switching windows and and refreshing a lot. Actually, that Tab key wasn't my fault. We had the ratties cage open (their cage is right next to our PC desks, you see.) And our little princess “Bea” decided to come over and inspect what I was doing on the internet. So came over and popped her bum on my keyboard and watched me for a bit. The next thing I notice, was her bolting back to her cage with this large grey rectangle in her mouth. I never saw that tab key again, I have no idea what she did with it to this day.

Anyway, Marlowe returns back to us again tomorrow. It'll be nice to be able to open up WoW, and then not have to go make a cup of tea for the pair of us while I wait for it to load. It'll also be nice to be able to alt-tab in and out once again. And addons... OH BOY! ADDONS! I can run them again. ;_;. I forget how handicapped I am without things like power auras, even in just plain leveling. No wonder blizzard is making it part of the default UI. Talking about that, have you seen those graphics that they're using for it? Tres sexy!

Look at it! As awesome as you want it! Looks like I will be uninstalling Power auras classic when cata rolls out then. But yes, I'm digressing. Welcome home Marlowe, you and your HDMI out port have been sorely missed.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Setting out on a new journey.

It's electric!

Recently, Mouse and I migrated servers. A grand return of sorts to the Horde (I'm sorry thrall and co, we were disillusioned, we're back for good, I promise!). But instead of forking out a load of money to transfer our old chars across, we decided that we'd just start over a fresh. Right bang at level one, with no contacts on the server, no friends to leech money off for a few extra gold, and not an heirloom in sight.

For Mouse, this was a huge liberation. Now, I'm going to say it, because she's far too modest to say it herself. Back on Moonglade, she's one hell of a healer. That's not just me saying it as some sort of devoted fianceƩ, I really do believe it. But with that, came some sort of curse that she just couldn't escape. You see, for the past couple of years, Mouse has had a secret passion. She's really wanted to play as a feral kitty. To the point where she's now had two level 80 druids, that we never really able to take off. The main reason is, why would the guild take the inexperienced kitty, over the expertly played priest? So, with the cataclysm on the horizon, it's a chance to change mains.

Mouse: Well, you missed a part there hun, I rolled one on a PTR one day, just to try it out. I grabbed a quick kitty guide, sat down with it for a couple of hours, and then we did a VoA run together. You were playing your Ret pally, trying out your new changes, and who wiped the floor with you on the DPS charts? Hmm?

-Grumbles- Yes, yes...

So, we rolled our characters together. She picked her female tauren druid, and as for me, well...

I wanted a change, for the past three years, I've been playing mainly a paladin. In TBC, I was protection (and not a very good prot pally at that). It was a challenge to play as one, mainly due to the awful gear itemisation that we suffered back in those days, but I stuck with it. The day patch 3.0 hit though, I changed into retribution, and just stuck with it. I loved it, my little blood elf who used to dance as she tanked, was now a swirling ball of light and awesome. It was just so much fun to play, even if we were a little over powered to begin with. But I've now come to the point, where I just play that character in an almost mindless state while I raid. I know exactly what's coming, I know what to do, and how to cope with most situations. My ball of light and awesome, was becoming stagnant and dry. I tried playing as ranged classes, but for some reason, I just didn't like being at the back. I wanted to be in the heat of the action. So decided to go with the class that would be fairly familiar to me, but still bring a breath of fresh air for me. I am now an Enhancement Shaman.

As for the race, well reluctantly, I rolled a female tauren as well. Under the commands of Mouse...

So there I was, with my level 1 female moo-cow. I was severely unimpressed, I felt like I was slightly too stocky, but not in the right way. It just didn't sit right with me. Then at some point along the way, I picked up a pair of shoulders, stuck them on, panned the camera around and thought. “Man, I look fricken awesome.” Then as the levels rolled by, I started to fall in love with my little moo-cow. She wasn't dainty or precious like my other characters had been, she was full on fierce. She walked into town, and just demanded the respect off the quest givers. I'm now at the point, where I don't think I could play any other race any more. Which has ruined my plans for a goblin rogue in Cata. (Actually, I've been put off rogues completely due to leveling with a lot of BG's spliced in.)


And thus, we set out on the long road to 80 together.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Ms Dos Vox

I'm going to use this opportunity to make a very shameless plug. It's ok though, it's only to promote the blog of my lovely other half herself, Mouse. You see, we both started these blogs as a joint project, I'd talk about our experiences as playing as a couple, and she would write about our journey into buying our first puppy together.

So, I'd love it if you checked it out!

Our double need, before your greed.

Back in September 2009, Blizzard released patch 3.2, with this came a system that would allow the trading of soulbound items for 2 hours between players who were present at the time the loot was distributed. It was basically a way for Blizzard to cut down on the amount of tickets going to GM's over items being given to the wrong person by a raid leader. What also came with this patch, was a practice of rolling on items for your fellow guildies while in a PuG, even if you didn't need the item yourself. It's a way of granting a friend an extra roll for free, effectively double their chances to win against other people. It's an issue that isn't often talked about, and when it is, it's usually swept under the rug with a cry a “hushes” from all those involved.

Does that mean, if you play as a couple, you are always secretly entitled to a free second roll?

About a year ago, Mouse and I were the joint GM's of our own little 10-man raiding guild called the “Rainbow Explorers”. We were quite a good little team, nothing groundbreaking though (although, we did have a stunning pink tabbard). We weren't aiming for server firsts or anything like that, we just wanted to make an environment where people could come two times a week, and have a good laugh while we progressed through Ulduar. At some point, we teamed up with another couple in our guild to start farming for the [Swift White Hawkstrider] on a daily basis. I personally had no interest in the chicken, but I decided to come along and help as Mouse had her eyes firmly fixated it for the past couple of years.

Needless to say, as with most farming adventures, we spent the good part of three months or so running the dungeon on an almost daily basis, with nothing to show for it. As they say, good things come to those who wait, and eventually, we had our first chicken drop. Right away, I clicked on the “pass” button. As I made it clear some time ago that I had no interest in it. Everyone else clicked need, as you would expect, and the winning roll went to the husband of the other couple. Little Mouse was slightly miffed, but I just gave her hair a quick ruffle and told her that we'll just keep on farming until we got her one as well.

With an exasperated sigh, Mouse accepted and we hearthed back to Dala, mainly to sell off some junk. It was that that we saw the achievement for the hawkstrider posted within the guild. But something wasn't right, the name next to it was the one of the wife, and not that of the husband. Well, as you could imagine, they was quite a public outcry from the pair of us. We felt strangely violated and betrayed by the whole situation. Mainly due to him rolling for the item without any intent to use it himself. It's our own fault for not making sure that something like this would have happened before it did.

Now, I'm not going to out-rightly condone the swapping of loot for others. How could I? I've been guilty of it on more than one occasion. Especially with the dawn of cross-server instances. The [reins of the blue proto drake] that Mouse currently uses, I won that and traded it to her the moment that everyone else left the group. It's a benefit of playing as a couple. I'm not saying that it's morally correct, because it's clearly not, but if you can get away with it, and you're not likely to talk to those people again, then why not?

You know what was strange about that event? I didn't feel bad at all. Not one little bit. I robbed a mount right from underneath their noses, and never even blinked. It's probably due to the nature of random heroics these days. Everyone just comes in, does there part, and just leaves. Almost as if they were a robot or an NPC. No, that's not fair, NPC's have far more personality. That's why it's so easy to do. The only times I hear people try to converse with one another, is if they have a problem with their gearscore. (Not a topic that I'm going to rant about, as there are a million of other blogs that have done that for me, bottom line, it's a good tool if used correctly and knowledgeably. You can't blame the gun for murdering the victim.)

There we go, somehow, we've come to a little revelation. If you don't want to have your loot stolen, then talk a little. Be human. It is a multi-player game after all, so reach out a little!