Mrs Spinks goes to Orgrimmar

spinksbarrens

It took only a couple of months for the dream of settling down somewhere away from all the fighting and politics to run a small pub to die. Silverpine was, after all, packed to the gills with forsaken celebrating the fall of the prince of lordaeron with only emptiness in their hearts instead of …. whatever it was they were supposed to feel.

They were bad company and bad customers.

Polishing the bar for the 76th time that day in silence, the old warrior wondered privately if, in a sense, the lich king had won after all. There was never going to be a scenario where forsaken retired quietly to farm crops and raise children. Only silence, darkness, infighting, and waiting for the next inevitable war of aggression to divert the masses from any kind of civil disobedience. Repeat until dead. Again. Dark Lady watch over us.

She left the keys to the till with the uptight cellarman who claimed that he had once been a Baronet, in King Terenas’ day. “That’s nice dear,” she deadpanned. “Don’t forget to count the bottles on delivery day. I may be some time.”

It was a long trip to the Southern Barrens, where old battle companions had settled. The windrider flew silently, across green open plains. When Spinks arrived at the farm it was nightfall. She hesitated about going up to the farmhouse, instead watching shadows play across the inside of the curtains and laughter and warmth ripple out. It was no place for the dead.

After watching for awhile, she left, taking the long road through Thousand Needles to the Salt Flats. Another day passed, but neither she nor the horse needed to eat or sleep.

spinksracecourse

The racetrack was quiet, gnomes and goblins still busily competing to show off their engineering skills. No one there cared who wanted to bet on the races, living, undead, as long as their money was good.

Spinks bet on the goblins — “Always bet on green, at least I learned that from the orcs.” Sometimes she won, sometimes she lost.

It was some days later that the warlock arrived, his fine silk and brocades trailing in the dust of the desert.

“I hoped I might find you here,” he said dryly, steepling skeletal fingers.

“Congratulations, you get a special prize.”

“You may have noticed the earthquakes. Elementals are attacking, all over Azeroth. It’s been getting worse. They’re focussed on Orgrimmar. Garrosh has even called the horde to help defend – I know, couldn’t happen to a nicer orc.”

She eyed him, a flicker of interest in the depths of the sockets.

The warlock nodded silently to the unspoken question. “The inner circle asked me to find you. Mrs Spinks, we’re needed.”

On taking a break from your main, and then going back to it

It’s fantastic to have an MMO which has a single server. All your mates are there. You don’t have to worry about whether your server will end up being under-populated and dead, or whether all the hardcore gank guilds will pick it. You know that all the best guilds will be there, because there isn’t anywhere else.

But recently in WoW, I’m also seeing the advantages of having several servers. When you are tired or worn out on your main character and want a break, you can take a ‘server holiday’. I’m not tired of Spinks, but I am running out of endgame content for her. And rather than burn out or pay to be bored, I’ve been spending more time on alliance alts with friends.

So most of my experience with PUGs recently has been with various alts: the hunter I’m playing with Arbitrary (our duo recently hit Outland, which is the first time she has been there), the inevitable death knight (did anyone mention yet that blood specced tanks are overpowered?), the bank alt that got levelled just because, the lowbie fixed group that I’m playing with friends (ok, no PUG there).

Last week, I decided that I missed my level 80s and ran a few instances on Argent Dawn, just to get back into the spirit of things. My main reactions:

spinksbadass

  • Spinks looks insanely badass on the loading screen in her T10 warrior kit. I think I’d been used to the lowbies, who look OK but … wow.
  • Spinks is a also a total beast when I spec her fury and go hang out in PUGs. Picking up Bryntroll the other week seems to have launched her into the dps stratosphere. I’m encouraged to spend more time practising as Fury to get my raid dps up a notch.
  • People are just plain nastier in level 80 PUGs. Oh for sure, the majority are fine, but the general experience was much pleasanter with lowbies.

Note the Ulduar tanking sword, I hate Blizzard sometimes

For example, let’s take a random LBRS (lower blackrock spire) group – which for my money is the toughest instance for its level.

We have a wipe, no surprise there. The rogue uses vanish to avoid being killed. As everyone else is running back, he comments that he’s scared about being alone with all those orcs. The tank says, “Don’t worry lilninja (that was his name), I’m coming to save you!”

Can you imagine that in a level 80 PUG? For one thing, as soon as there was a wipe, half the group would disband. If they didn’t, everyone would hurl abuse at the guy who managed to avoid wiping. And the tank would probably curse the healer.

Even the rubbish groups I’ve had at low level haven’t been really aggressively nasty in the way that high level groups can. Here’s another example:

Level 80 PUG, and I’m healing on my druid. I’ve not done any level 80 heroics for a month or so because I was taking a break. The tank is racing through and not waiting for anyone, and he’s taking shortcuts I haven’t seen people use before. I’m no slouch, but I’m remembering my way around. We wipe at one point (yet another stupid pull, and I got some adds because I didn’t realise that they’d skipped a pack on the way down some stairs) and I explain that I haven’t been there in awhile and ask if he could just wait for me to be in range from time to time. Others in the group whisper me and tell me that he’s just being an elitist jerk. He says, “You should have said you were a fucking cripple who couldn’t do your job,” and I leave.

I’m tempted to put it down to people continuing to run the instances long after they’re burned out. Which doesn’t happen so much while levelling.

I love my main

So it all comes down to this. I love my main character, and even after taking a break (apart from weekly raids) I get a kick out of coming back to her. Sometimes absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

But I will look forwards to harder instances in Cataclysm, if only so that they will cut some of the current 5 man players who fancy themselves elitist down to size.

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Honest Scrap Award

Honest Scrap Award

I feel awkward, and proud, and very humbled that Larisa@The Pink Pigtail Inn has nominated me for a blog award. And I’d like to thank my cat, the colour yellow, the plastic armoured landshark on my desk, and all three of my readers. I love you all!!

This is a meme, and a made up award, but the reason it’s meaningful to me is because it came from a blogger whose work I love and who continues to be a huge inspiration to me here.

And I couldn’t be happier to have a good excuse to write about some of my favourite blogs.  The meme part is totally optional, by the way, if it’s not your style.

Here’s the Rules

  1. When accepting this auspicious award, you must write a post bragging about it, including the name of the misguided soul who thinks you deserve such acclaim, and link back to the said person so everyone knows she/he is real.
  2. Choose a minimum of seven (7) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design. Or improvise by including bloggers who have no idea who you are because you don’t have seven friends. Show the seven random victims’ names and links and leave a harassing comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog. Well, there’s no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
  3. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. Then pass it on!

My Picks

I have a loads of blogs on my reader. Although some of the news blogs are great, and I love that you can pick up the RSS feeds on your favourite commercial sites, my favourites by far are the personal blogs.

So for me, what makes a cool blog is the personal touch. I like to be able to feel the personality of the writer come through, and that means people who write with passion about subjects they care about.

I can’t pick Larisa again (although the rules don’t actually say that, leaving open the possibility of an endlessly closed loop. Not the world’s greatest rules algorithm, but I geekgress ;) ), but what reaches out to me from her writing is how darned good she is at expressing her feelings for the games and people she writes about. As someone who always feels a bit awkward writing about myself, I really admire that. She’s a warm, kind, funny, thoughtful writer and person, and I got all that just from reading her blog.

Anyway, enough of that, here’s some picks:

Waaagh! — Anyone who follows the Warhammer blogs will know Syp’s megablog. I’ve always admired him for the strength and consistency of his writing, and for being so good at putting across the genuine enthusiasm he has for the games that he plays. He’s also been fantastically supportive to the Warhammer community, check out his Thursday links posts in particular. He also runs a blog about other MMOs called Biobreak; I hope Champions Online is everything you’re hoping for!

Player vs Developer – Green Armadillo shares my fascination with why people behave the way they do in online games. He focusses on how people respond to rewards and incentives, and even though I don’t share his love of pets and achievements, it makes for some great writing.

Tanking for Dummies – WoW has about a gazillion blogs all focussed on specific classes and specs. I do read a lot of warrior blogs (since Spinks is my main at the moment, and it’s fun to keep up with what other warrior players think). Some are hardcore, some are enthusiastic, some are informative, some are just nuts and I’m picking TfD because Tarsus is all of those things and he makes me laugh.

The Greedy Goblin – What really makes Gevlon’s writing stand out from the crowd is his philosophy of life, gaming, and economics. The blog reminds me of Freakonomics; and as well as discussing making gold in WoW, he also talks about player behaviour from an economic point of view. It makes me think, and I like that in a writer. He’s also very honest in his analyses of when he tried something and it didn’t work.

Killed in a Smiling Accident – Every so often you come across a blog that has a really strong writing tone, even though the writing is shared between a few different people. The KIASA chaps are so English that it hurts, and we love them for it. They also mix it up with some very insightful writing about the various games that they play, and they make me laugh. So there!

Wizards and Wenches - Another WAR blog. Regis wins my blog design award. I know he spends a lot of time tweaking it and it looks fantastic. He’s also a really strong and entertaining writer, which is the other reason you should read it. But it’s also the best looking blog I know.

Nerf the Cat – Arbitrary is another writer who is very good at expressing her feelings, even when she’s feeling down or frustrated. But whatever you do, don’t nerf the cat.

Ten Facts about Me

  1. I ate roast sparrow (on a stick) when I was in Japan.
  2. I have a PhD in digital signal processing.
  3. My character’s full name is Mrs Spinks. What happened to Mr Spinks? He ran off to join the Defias Bandits, no one who knows Mrs Spinks is surprised.
  4. My cat is a tortie who is coming up on her 17th birthday and came to us from a shelter. If you’re considering a rescue cat, do think about getting an older one. They’re just as sweet and much less work.
  5. Earl Grey. Milk. No sugar.
  6. The last TV show I watched was the first episode of The Apprentice.
  7. I almost always watch TV via the PVR, so I record programmes I like  and watch them later when it’s more convenient. ie. does not conflict with gaming :)
  8. I once played Aouda Fogg (the Indian woman who married Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days) in a live RP and had to learn how to put on a sari.
  9. I am a voluntary advisor at the local CAB.
  10. It was my birthday last Wednesday. Hurrah!