Buddy, can you spare a slot?

You know, it occurs to me in the swirling maelstrom that is a political year, no matter what folks’ opinions are, it usually comes down to the basics, the Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. If we get our basic needs met, then we are allowed to progress further to self-actualization. Our striving-for-enlightenment paths get derailed on the esteem part, however, and we work against our own civilized self-interests and consistently shoot ourselves in the foot.

Wait, I do have a point.

You know all the grumbling and fury and chaos associated with some game play and whatnot? I have a theory, and it comes down to one thing, and one thing only: bagspace.

J.P. Morgan, the Ultimate Banker Alt*

For some reason, some bean counting, stingy, greedy goblin reason, Blizzard does not give us enough storage space. Oh, sure, there’s Void Storage, but you can’t keep the delightful collection of unique tabards in there, and its exorbitant costs of moving things in and out really stinks. And one page? Bitch, please. I have more robes on my level 11 priest alt than one page can hold. Get a bank alt, and buy lots of phony guild tabs, upwards of 5K each, or more? Sure sure. But what about this letter, or that thing, or this over here? In the wise words of the AM/PM Mini Mart Ads, there is “too much good stuff.” And like the $3 bank fees at ATMs, it’s getting on my last nerve.

Right now I’m doing a messy, unorganized and time-consuming dance of mailboxes. I have thirty days before things start to expire between my bank alt, my characters, and their many interests, professions, knick-knacks, paddy-whacks, and vanity items. Hell, just yesterday I got the reins of a very bad yak, and though summoning this ornery creature only results in a butt-butting, there is no way I am letting him loose.

The lack of storage and bagspace is making me nutters. It is my theory that we in the world of Azeroth will never reach the top of the pyramid when all we’re doing is spending time and gold on slot management. It’s tedious, it’s boring, and roots us too firmly in reality while Azeroth is supposed to be all about suspension of disbelief. Wonder where the tab is for that, the ‘disbelief’ one? Oh here it is, next to the wildfowl stack and the Super Simian Sphere trinket.

Don’t start lecturing me about hording and whatnot. Stop it, just stop it. You know I’m right about this. Blizzard has given us an amazing new world but no where to keep it safe. That threatens our sense of security. We need a real solution to this: a tab for food, a tab for weapons, for gear, for vanity items, for tabards, for professional/crafting items. And it shouldn’t cost us a copper. Void storage should drop to a minimum fee, and should only be used to store true vintage items. I’m not asking for a handout here. I pay my AH fees and repair bills just like everyone else. All I’m asking is that when I’ve earned something in game, I get to keep it safe and it doesn’t drain the bank account. I would much rather be playing with my friends than standing around managing bags or desperately seeking mailboxes.

But then again, is the collection and accumulation of material items, albeit pixelized ones, really the path to enlightenment?

But George never had to choose between his Sons of Hodir ax and a tabard, though…

I don’t know. Maybe it’s just time to spend an hour with the good vendors in town and just start selling it all off and move to a kibbutz in Halfhill, join a cult, get brainwashed, and leave all my material possessions behind. This thinking stuff is too hard.

*Thank you to Loth for this superlative banker!

Postscript: Prepared?

The Highwayman

Prompted by Draynee’s request, here is my submission for your humble consideration. However, I am taking myself out of the ‘contest’ part because JD mentioned something about rules, and I think there are rules, and well, my personal philosophy is the first rule of dressing up is you don’t talk about dressing up. No, wait. That’s not right. Just that, for costumes, not gear, I have a hard time adhering to rules.

It’s been a few years, not many, since I last read ‘The Highwayman‘ by Alfred Noyes. Now it’s easy to dismiss it as overly romantic tripe, but for some reason, I could not be so snarky this year. It’s just a lovely and simple piece of work that has stood the test of time. It has what I love to classify as ‘accessible themes.’ But enough of literary analysis: enjoy.

Oh, and after you read the poem, watch this amazing animation: The Highwayman

Bess, the Innkeeper’s Daughter
The Highwayman

Tim the Ostler*

The Highwayman

by Alfred Noyes
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
   Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

He'd a French cocked-hat on his forehead, a bunch of lace at his chin,
A coat of the claret velvet, and breeches of brown doe-skin;
They fitted with never a wrinkle: his boots were up to the thigh.
And he rode with a jeweled twinkle,
   His pistol butts a-twinkle,
His rapier hilt a-twinkle, under the jeweled sky.

Over the cobbles he clattered and clashed in the dark inn-yard,
He tapped with his whip on the shutters, but all was locked and barred;
He whistled a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
   Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.

And dark in the dark old inn-yard a stable-wicket creaked
Where Tim the ostler listened; his face was white and peaked;
His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like moldy hay,
But he loved the landlord's daughter,
   The landlord's red-lipped daughter,
Dumb as a dog he listened, and he heard the robber say—

"One kiss, my bonny sweetheart, I'm after a prize tonight,
But I shall be back with the yellow gold before the morning light;
Yet, if they press me sharply, and harry me through the day,
Then look for me by moonlight,
   Watch for me by moonlight,
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way."

He rose upright in the stirrups; he scarce could reach her hand,
But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand
As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast;
And he kissed its waves in the moonlight,
   (Oh, sweet black waves in the moonlight!)
Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the West.

He did not come in the dawning; he did not come at noon;
And out of the tawny sunset, before the rise of the moon,
When the road was a gypsy's ribbon, looping the purple moor,
A red-coat troop came marching—
   Marching—marching—
King George's men came marching, up to the old inn-door.

They said no word to the landlord, they drank his ale instead,
But they gagged his daughter and bound her to the foot of her narrow bed;
Two of them knelt at her casement, with muskets at their side.
There was death at every window;
   And hell at one dark window;
For Bess could see, through her casement, the road that he would ride.

They had tied her up to attention, with many a sniggering jest.
They had bound a musket beside her, with the barrel beneath her breast.
"Now keep good watch!" and they kissed her. She heard the doomed man say—
Look for me by moonlight;
   Watch for me by moonlight;
I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way!


She twisted her hands behind her; but all the knots held good.
She writhed her hands till her fingers were wet with sweat or blood.
They stretched and strained in the darkness, and the hours crawled by like years,
Till, now, on the stroke of midnight,
   Cold, on the stroke of midnight,
The tip of one finger touched it! The trigger at least was hers!

The tip of one finger touched it. She strove no more for the rest.
Up, she stood up to attention, with the muzzle beneath her breast.
She would not risk their hearing; she would not strive again;
For the road lay bare in the moonlight;
   Blank and bare in the moonlight;
And the blood of her veins, in the moonlight, throbbed to her love's refrain.
Tlot-tlot; tlot-tlot! Had they heard it? The horse-hoofs ringing clear;
Tlot-tlot, tlot-tlot, in the distance? Were they deaf that they did not hear?
Down the ribbon of moonlight, over the brow of the hill,
The highwayman came riding,
   Riding, riding!
The red-coats looked to their priming! She stood up, straight and still!

Tlot-tlot, in the frosty silence! Tlot-tlot, in the echoing night!
Nearer he came and nearer! Her face was like a light!
Her eyes grew wide for a moment; she drew one last deep breath,
Then her finger moved in the moonlight,
   Her musket shattered the moonlight,
Shattered her breast in the moonlight and warned him—with her death.

He turned; he spurred to the west; he did not know who stood
Bowed, with her head o'er the musket, drenched with her own red blood.
Not till the dawn he heard it, his face grew gray to hear
How Bess, the landlord's daughter,
   The landlord's black-eyed daughter,
Had watched for her love in the moonlight, and died in the darkness there.

Back, he spurred like a madman, shouting a curse to the sky,
With the white road smoking behind him and his rapier brandished high!
Blood-red were his spurs in the golden noon; wine-red was his velvet coat,
When they shot him down on the highway,
   Down like a dog on the highway,
And he lay in his blood on the highway, with the bunch of lace at his throat.

And still of a winter's night, they say, when the wind is in the trees,
When the moon is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
When the road is a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
A highwayman comes riding—
   Riding—riding—
A highwayman comes riding, up to the old inn-door.
Over the cobbles he clatters and clangs in the dark inn-yard;
He taps with his whip on the shutters, but all is locked and barred;
He whistles a tune to the window, and who should be waiting there
But the landlord's black-eyed daughter,
   Bess, the landlord's daughter,
Plaiting a dark red love-knot into her long black hair.



*There was no way Tim the Ostler could be a Draenei. Back to that rules thing.

And the French cocked-hat doesn't work with Draenei horns...alas.




1000: This one goes out to the ones I love…

Once upon a time, I used to be a fairly decent party planner. I would work tirelessly to make sure the food and booze plentiful, the toilets were scrubbed, the guest towels fresh, and toilet paper hanging waterfall-over, not under by the wall. But these days, my Martha-Stewart-Mojo has gone by the wayside, and I’m lucky if I remember to even buy toilet paper, much less OCD-worry about its position on the spindle. (Cocktails on hand, however, still apply.) Point being, I saw this 1000th post coming up, and have been drafting it in my head for a bit; however, not sure it’s going to be as spectacularrlllll as I would have wanted. Whatever I write cannot possible capture what I feel.

But I’ll give it a shot.

This blog become a way of sending messages in bottles to friends in game, and to myself. They were messages and correspondence to the characters, make-believe, and the characters of friends I have made along the way.

Kay: You are amazing. You are a strong young woman, you are brave, and true. From the moment we became friends over the Thanksgiving achievements, you’ve stayed a true friend.

Guarf: I miss you.

Turk: your mentorship on shaman healing and anything game-wise is amazing, and never–and this is a biggy–patronizing. You have always treated me like a great friend, which I consider you, too!

Ran: When I was really trying to figure things out, you were always quietly there. I think you got a kick out of compulsive alt-leveling. Your tried and true focus on two difficult classes however, is admirable; however, your kind friendship supersedes Azeroth.

Xak: Mr. Smartypants Esq. — I look forward to our conversations. Even if I do cheat and write crib notes.

Con: You are so damn funny. And thanks for thinking I am one of the “good guys.” I am. And you are, too.

Tome, Navi, Bear, and Erinys: In no way am I “lumping” you together. Your insights have motivated, inspired, delighted, and amazed me more than I can say. If I write another word, it’s because I know you’re out there reading. You have no idea how much this means to me.

To my lost paladin friend: thanks for your patience and inspiration, too.

JD: thanks for sharing your family, time, and friendship. Cymre, thanks for keeping me on my toes and showing us the beauty and grace of Azeroth.

Señor: To the best friend I will never know: See that fan with Zep? To the world in Azeroth, every one else would just see an inscription off-hand weapon. What they don’t see is one of the most generous, funny, and loyal friends a person could have. The world could take a lesson from you, my dear friend.

Just play – it’s a fun game.

Theme Song:

PS  I will never think of Hello Kitty the same way again. Thanks, Navi.

Put the hammer down…and PvP Debate Team

Stumbled upon this blog, The Crimson Hammer, through Navi’s blog, and this post on Mogu’shan Vaults.  Even though I am semi-retired from raiding (although at the casual level I was raiding, that is like saying I am semi-retired from being a millionaire – I never really was one, so yeah…) I still find myself drawn to raid strategies and good reads. Some of the Youtube videos are a bit squirrelly for me; the music is awful, and the voice overs sometimes either too smug or too panicky, but they are a good resource, too. But the well-written blog post: now that is something I can get behind. I have always been a fan of Navi’s, I’ll call them “Captain’s Logs,” reports of what went down in a raid – they are fast-paced reads, just like a raid, and provide subtext and insight.

One of my Azerothian buddies, who has been a great restoration shaman healer mentor to me over the years, leveled his own shaman into LFR, and in his usual style, rocked the house in healing. I am posting this link for him too, because like me, (although he is a “real” raider as opposed to my poser status) we were both laughing about whether or not we cared about this sort of thing. Well, I do and don’t – I’m still interested, and I like to know stuff. I just do. And what’s cool about him is he understands my real life demands, and still thinks I’m pretty smart even though I may ask a dumb question from time to time. Like this one:

My next research project is to find out answers about PvP gear verus PvE gear. Last I remember reading, there were supposedly going to be some changes so that if one was wearning PvP to a PvE event, it wouldn’t be such a big, fat deal. I’m still hearing players complain of “he’s wearing all PvP gear!” and am curious about this shift. Did it change? Did it not? I understand the stat of resiliience, always have. The way I had it analogized for me in the past was gear stats were like a bucket–you had to make sure you filled your bucket with the right things. Resilience used to take up a lot of volume in your bucket. Okay. Simple enough. But now what? Is resilience just an extra layer of protection, Mormon underwear if you will, when one is doing PvP? Or is it the same, where if you’re caught wearing PvP gear to a PvE ball, you will be stripped not only of your glass slippers, but risk being heckled?

/shrug

Not sure I care this much. Nerd Judges, what say you?

Postscript: By the by, this is my 999th published post.

Baby Dragons

Cross-dressing rogue and I were discussing the new nature of Azeroth the other day, and I imagined three homunculus—one was the Artist, one was the General, and one was the Bean Counter. The artist says things like, “How can we make it fun again? How can we make it beautiful?” The General asks, “What can we MAKE THEM DO?” And the Bean Counter asks, “Ah yes, but what is it going to cost us?” These three interplay and I believe, if you sense that some decisions for the new expansion were arbitrary, ‘throw them a bone’ and some were “we better get this right or else,” you’re right. Remember, game designers are human, and have to counter their passions and motivations in a work environment just like the rest of us.

I know that’s disappointing to hear.

But — for me, I am in a pretty happy place in Azeroth. I have more to write about this (I always do, don’t I?) but for now, I’ll just share a beautiful shot of me and baby dragon:

No regrets.

Many players have been feeling the way Bear describes in his post, Color Me Unthrilled, and as always, it’s not what he writes as the grand discussion he sparks in his posts. This is shameless poaching of another’s content, but I share it in the name of spreading the good word. Two of Bear’s commentators really hit the target for me, and I wanted to capture their ideas:

Smashogre says:
There are ways to gear up for the end game without involving yourself in the rep grinds. I geared geared up my hunter through the rep grinds, but looked to other ways to get my pally into LFR
1) Run heroic 5-man: If you are a tank or healer that can handle pugs, or have a group you can run with, this is by far the fastest way to gear up
2) Scenarios: Yes, the drop rate from the bags is about 10% . When all your slots are below 363, this is by far the most efficient way to gear up for the DPS only classes. Running 3 or more scenarios will probably get you gear faster than waiting for 1 dungeon que to pop and running the 5-man. The gear for hunters can also be better than the dungeon version
3) Battlegrounds: I don’t recommended for everybody. It is a way to fill in those slots you cant seem to ever get the gods of random chance to fill for you. If you enjoy or can tolerate it, try it. Don’t knock it until you try it. The new battlegrounds can be quite fun, and at this moment , BM hunters are pretty OP. The PvP stats are no longer part of the ilevel budget, so a 358 pvp gear comes close to the 363 PvE gear, while being superior to the 450 PvE world drops and dungeon quest blues
4) Sha of Anger: This world boss spawns almost every half hour, and a Tuesday doesn’t go by I cant find a pug to get all of my 90′s in. The first kill gets you a quest item for 476 boots. the regular drops are also very nice. NOTE: running Sha late in the week can be VERY frustrating, i recommend doing it as close to Tuesday as possible
5) Crafted Material: Yes, BS needs honored with Klaxxi, and Leatherworking and tailoring need honored with the Golden lotus. You can still buy them from somebody else. Inscribers have the 476 staffs with no rep required. Engineers have the BoP helm, and they can make a 450 trinket for anybody that is in almost everybody’s 10 best in slot list because you can select the sprockets that it uses . Both of those can be done without rep. Archaeology has 3 account bond items that are worthwhile, and all 3 can be used at 85, making them doubly useful since you can give them to alts once your main finds better stuff. also, once can get to honored with klaxxi without running a single daily , since just running the Dread waste quest will get you to Honored with them AND a set of 437 quest greens that will allow you to jump into heroics.
Here is my quick and easy way I leveled my pally to 461 and into LFR 5 days after I hit 90.
1) Start Dread Waste at 89- You get the 437 quest greens and 450 blues quest items, thus you will have the 435 needed to run heroics as soon as you hit 90
2) Run the The Arena of Annihilation scenario for the 450 weapon
3) Run scenarios and 5-mans as needed to get some of the slots upgraded to 363
4) If you can tolerate PvP, run a few battlegrounds, otherwise use your JP to upgrade those other slots
5) Kill the Sha, steal his Nikes, and perhaps even get lucky and get another purple
6) Kill any holiday boss (Headless horseman is up at the moment, 470 rings) until he drops your stuff
7) Run LFR for the EPIXXX!
Do dailies on YOUR time schedule, skip the days the quests seem bothersome. You can only buy a VP item every 2-3 WEEKS, the Klaxxi and Golden lotus have items available at honored, which one can get by running the dailies at most 4-5 times in that 21 day period if you just must have the VP stuff ASAP. I’m revered with 3 of the 4 VP rep grinds on my hunter, yet I wont be able to do anything with them for another 2 weeks since the valor cap is so low. Some of the quests can be quite fun and should be enjoyed, not treated like some evil thing you have to do.
and:
Andrew says:
I felt like you do too, BBB, but time (and again, it’s been out less than a month?) has mellowed my outlook a bit. A couple of observations:
(1) Heroics are easy to access, and the gear from them is fine for accessing the first tier of raiding, if that’s what you want to do. Heroics *are* casual friendly, and people in queues have been much more tolerable than the last go around.
(2) LFR is actually a bit challenging right now, but people are willing to work at it, and there’s a lot of loot there too.
(3) at the end of the week, you can still only accrue 1000 VP, and this will limit the rate you can acquire this gear no matter what. Meanwhile, you are accruing VP *while running dailies now*. I get 5 VP just for giving a Tiller friend her favorite food! Pretty much no matter what we do, we are progressing.
(4) again, that gear really is not needful to get raid ready. By the end of the first week, when I could only access Klaxxi honored VP gear (a neck?) my lock had an ilvl average of 461. It’s totally doable.
(5) this content is supposed to last us at least until December, in all probability.
This all said, I think it was a mistake for them to gate 2 factions behind Golden Lotus. That decision actually took a lot of choice away at end game, making figuring out how to gear with your sparse VP less interesting, and also creating the unfun Golden Lotus bottle neck.
The bottle neck is much improved by grouping with another person though, and if you luck into more people and can help each other with drop quests, or be strategic about it, it approaches fun. Here’s the other thing: running 2 hubs of Golden Lotus quests gets you about as much VP as a heroic, and more if you have three hubs to do. Treat it like an opportunity for organized play in your guild, maybe?
I just hit revered with them yesterday on my lock. I cannot say I’m not relieved, and I won’t be going back for exalted anytime soon. At the same time, it’s not the end of the world – maybe 12 days? – which in the scope of how long this game lasts us and how often we play, not so much time. Much of the pressure I think comes from outside the game – we feel we need the gear, or we’ll be letting down our raid team – but that’s all coming from us (or, in unhealthy cases, from our raid team). But they aren’t lying when they say you don’t need it to raid. That’s a Cata mindset. In retrospect, all of Cata endgame was designed to facilitate the hardcore raider mindset, and you remember how that turned out! There was nothing to do BUT raid, heroics made random groups painful, and if you aren’t a raider, don’t you dare think about finding a nice set of shoulders, unless you want a BoE set some raider has put on AH for 26000 gold.
I will take Mists with its warts a thousand times over an expansion like Cata.
Apologies for all the text.

Souptepi.

I –am a terrible Shadow Priest.

Or rather, with these ‘alts-who-have-become-as-beloved-as-mains,’ Blizzard has not taken into account players like me. Cause it’s all about me, right? I swear I think Big Bear reads my mind sometimes, cause his post about our beautiful alts being reduced to farm labor was sadly hysterical. “Hey, there, Knight Paladin, be careful you don’t get cow flop on those shiny sabatons!”

Today, I wanted to play. I wanted to play with Zeptepi, the Priest. Zep is not a bad Holy Priest, but has been struggling with mana changes, so leveling by dungeon is not an option, nor is it expeditious. So, little quest here, little one there. Today she went to where the big, bad yaks are.

But as you see below, and for those of you who know your Bugs Bunny lore, Cookie McYaungol has other plans for her. Below is a screenshot of her bones in the soup. Literally. She had just died there not moments before.

“She” died thirteen times this afternoon. But then again, for those you may accuse me of hyperbole, I lost count.

Big gangs of yak men would aggro like she was made of a bale of hay and winning lottery tickets, and munch her face. Heal, psychic scream, dot, dot, boom, heal, dead. All damn day. 

Believe me, this is no crying over spilled soup. So, I have to take it a bit slower with this tissue-thin cloth wearer. All she’s got to work with are shadows and screams–scary, but just not good enough. One or two at a time is very doable, but more than that is death on a stick. She is level 88.66%.

Am I any better at shadow priesty-ness than I was before? Doubtful. But the stew was delicious.

Bewitched.

Amber from Tastes Like Battle Chicken always writes the nicest things, and this month’s request is for our Halloween costumes.

Bewitched was one of my favorites, in late color and in reruns, as a kiddo. Samantha Stevens is probably my first experience with what you kids call today “fangirl-ness.” As much as I practiced for hours to wiggle my nose and make things happen, alas, all the magic lie in the 1970s avocado kitchen appliances and suburban sorcery.

So, every year, I think of Mataoka as my personal dress-up Samantha Stevens. Hey, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood, right? (Even though mine was pretty awesome.)

Here are some shots of Miss Matty, Mrs. Whitworth, in a variety of situations where sorcery was called for:

On a side note, I realize you think picture books are for small children, and although that is true, I firmly believe in great storytelling and masterful illustrations. Chris Van Allsburg is both — and if you are not familiar with his work, you should be. One of my favorites is The Widow’s Broom.  For those of you with children ages five to around eleven, please consider adding his picture books to your collection for them.

Scholomance is…enchanting.
Spell gone wrong…
Very wrong!

I wouldn’t mind a broom like Mina Shaw’s:

Some of Minna Shaw’s neighbors don’t trust her clever broom. “It’s dangerous,” they say. “It’s a wicked, wicked thing.” Minna disagrees. She appreciates the broom’s help around the house. She enjoys its quiet company. It seems perfectly innocent and hard-working to her.