Monday, January 31, 2011

Banal and self-serving? Yes, you bet!

“Pink Pigtail Inn needs to think up some better topics. […]. I am hoping WI can find better posts to link to in the future that aren't as banal and self-serving”
Those sweet lines dropped in a comment at WoW Insider this weekend. Lately they have shown the blogosphere more “love” than usual, speeding up the frequency of their Daily Quest column where they feature links to posts they’ve found interesting for whatever reason.

This time they decided to mention my post about how annoying the single-listing practice is from the point of view from a customer. I guess I would have been better off if they hadn’t.

Getting link love from WoW Insider is a double-edged sword. Many new bloggers crave for it; they think it would be the best thing ever to happen to their blog, to finally get the chance to reach a bigger audience. (Unfortunately the bump in the visitor statistics will be just a bump. It’s not the ICC buff we’re talking about here, rather a short burst of heroism/bloodlust).

But even as a veteran I can’t deny that I too secretly get a little bit flattered by the attention. I suspect that bloggers are a bit like actors – happy and terrified in equal proportions as we’re taking our place in the spotlight – left out, vulnerable, fragile and yet thrilled, empowered and confident.

The negatives about WI linkage is that you’re exposed to the views of a lot of people who never have read your blog before, who don’t know you and who are every so quickly to judge you and point fingers. Expect rotten tomatoes come flying in your direction. You’re dealing with a mob.

Shielding yourself
Wise bloggers know how to shield themselves from this. If they even take notice of the trolls, they give the trolls the laugh they deserve. And that’s the advice I’ve given too, over and over again over the years to fresh bloggers. If you get hurt, it’s only because you let them hurt you. There’s no need to! You can choose your own reactions.

But for all my gnomish wisdom and insights about how I SHOULD react, the comment above still slipped through my defence system. For a moment I lost my balance. And as I did so, stumbling on the stage, wondering where to put my feet, I looked at myself and wondered what this was all about. Why did I care?

And I found that this particular troll had managed to pick up and echo doubts my own doubts, doubts that I think most writers struggle with at some point. It happens that we ask those questions: “What’s the point in my blogging in the first place? What am I doing, standing on this soapbox, sharing my banal thoughts with the world, as if they were worth listening to? Who do I think I am?”

Long-time readers of PPI know that I normally try to remain positive, no matter what. However it happens that I occasionally slip and fall into more self-destructive patterns. And that’s why this post could break through my shield and get to me. It matched thoughts that I already carried myself.

Banal and proud
However, the slip was temporarily and I definitely won’t let this troll leave the inn with the last word. Because after a short moment of self-pity and soaking in my own butt hurt feelings, I popped heroism and manned up, growing to the double size if not more, ready for a fight.

So this guy thinks that PPI is banal and self-serving? Good for him. He's right. PPI probably is quite banal. And you know what? I’m not even ashamed of it! Why would I be?

Banalities are fine. People have made entire comedy shows going on for years about “nothing” and they were excellent. There are so many pretentious works of art in the world that crave desperately for a little bit of banality, which would make them matter and not just remain unreachable thought constructions. Gief more banality!

This week I’ll be celebrating three years as a blogger. During this time I’ve given my thoughts, experiences and views on WoW in over 600 posts. They’re probably not the kind of deep or world-changing posts that the commenter is looking for. But so what? I never claimed anything else; I’ve never reported in as a candidate for the Nobel Prize. I’m just an average – or sometimes even mediocre if I’m absolutely honest - player who runs an average blog where I ramble about my very ordinary life in Azeroth.

The guests that frequent PPI are accordingly kindly asked to leave their e-peens as well as steel toe shoes in the hallway. You see, I think that there are others like me in the community, players who long for a safe spot, somewhere where banality and mediocrity is not only accepted, but even embraced.

I want PPI to be a place in my mind where walk barefoot, where I don’t need to pretend that I’m any better or smarter than I really am. Where I’m just me. And if the WI readers don’t approve of their choice for linkage, it’s their problem, not mine.

As long as PPI remains open, it will always be a home for banalities. I promise.

Friday, January 28, 2011

When the ballet boss turned into a punch-bag

Magmaw was nerfed last night. Before someone will enrage, I might add that it wasn’t Blizzard who did a hotfix in order to please entitled casuals or anything like that. We did it ourselves as we changed strategy.

No more anxious watching over the cooldown for pillar of flame, no more worries about stray parasites pestering the ranged group, spawning more of them. No more dancing, at least not for me. Our DK did it for all of us, beautifully keeping the little buggers occupied (with the help of some hunter traps) while everyone else stood in melee range, focusing on the boss and nothing else. The melee people had previously claimed that Magmaw was about as exciting as Patchwerk, and now the ranged couldn’t but agree.

From ballet to boxing
So we got our kill without a single death and we were even rewarded with an unexpected achievement for it since the pesky parasites didn’t even touch us. Needless to say this will most likely be how we fight Magmaw from now on, unless Blizzard decides that it’s not what they intended and fix it.

It’s the natural law of raiding, isn’t it? We will always find the quickest way down, like a creek of melt water will use every shortcut it can find as it flows down the mountainside. Why complicate it if you don’t have to?

And yet I couldn’t help feeling a little bit cheated on my raid experience. Just a tiny little, but still. My dance class suddenly turned into a session at the boxing club. All I was supposed to do was to stand there on the same spot and punch that bag the hardest I could, over and over again. It was like facing one of the training dummies in IF, with the difference that this one carried epic loot.

Admittedly, sometimes a tank’n’spank fight can be exactly what you need. I remember nights of slow progression, when we’ve been wiping for hours on some complicated ballet-style boss. Finishing such a raid beating up one of the dummy bosses in VoA can be a bit of a relief. Punching a boss really hard and you might get back to your senses.

I don’t say that tank’n’spank is The Evil and should be exterminated from the game. But given the choice between the two extremes, I’d vote for ballet bosses any day.

For me raiding is more about learning the dance than hitting a punch-bag.

Overcomplicated fights?
Some players think differently about this though. Keen over at Keen and Graev’s Gaming Blog for instance had a wipe night in Bastion of Twilight, facing the three random dragons with intricate combinations of buffs and debuffs. Keen calls it “overcomplicated” and doesn’t hesitate on calling out Blizzard:

“When the whole raid has to orchestrate a ballet in order to not wipe in 10 seconds it crosses the line”.

According to Keen, more complex doesn’t mean more fun and he asks Blizzard to stop what he calls “the insanity”. He doesn’t make unreasonable claims, suggesting that bosses should be designed like Patchwerk. But he definitely wants them to be simpler than most encounters I’ve seen so far in Cataclysm. According to Keen, Gunship and Saurfang in ICC were examples of good fights, where there’s enough going on to make them interesting, while they’re still simple enough for you to be able to “just enjoy the content”.

I must say that I disagree with this praise, especially when it comes to Gunship. Sure, I bet Blizzard had the very best intentions as they designed that fight: they wanted to create something new and refreshing, something different from the old fire spitting dragon concept. And of course I loved the rocket jumping, is there anyone who didn’t? I hope they’ll bring them back into game and reuse it at some point, if nothing else in a quest or a five-man dungeon. Jumping makes me giddy.

But aside from that, Gunship was more than anything else annoyingly slow, something you did just to get your “free loot of the week”. The lack of challenge always left me with a hollow feeling and a bad taste in the mouth. Did I really deserve those epics? Maybe I did, but not as a reward for making an effort, but rather as a compensation for the horrendous lag we had to endure doing it. A bad night the fight could easily stretch out to 15 frustrated and painful minutes – or even more.

What about the other example, Saurfang? Well, he wasn’t bad. The mechanics were straight forward enough, but still quite challenging initially and required good execution. However, since it was very much gear depending, it became rather trivial as we geared up and the ICC buff decreased.

I wouldn’t say that Saurfang was what I consider a perfect boss fight. I want bosses to be a little more complicated than that, more steps to learn and if possible several phases. Think Yogg-Saron. Think Lich King. Were they complicated? Absolutely! It took me ages to learn them. But they were good ballets.

A nightmare dancer
This doesn't mean that I'm a perticularly good dancer myself. I won’t lie to you; if you met me in WoW you’d probably consider me a bit of a nightmare partner at first. I would step on your toes; I would mix up left and right and would bump into other couples, making you and everyone else embarrassed.

However, if you wouldn’t run away from me yelling, you’d see that I would improve over time. Eventually I would see the pattern, sense the rhythm and hear the music. My feet would move by themselves, without me having to yell commands at them “left foot, move one step forward – press button – engage”. And to me, the magic of raiding comes in those moments, when everything suddenly clicks. Ballet bosses have it. Punch-bag bosses don’t.

Magmaw turned from a ballet partner into a punch-box yesterday. But there are still many other bosses in Cataclysm who require me to learn how to dance, so I don’t think I have anything to worry about.

Enough of rambling - I think it’s about time that I wrap up this post. It’s Friday night at the inn, the dance floor will open soon and we serve some pretty good punch in the bar. There’s something for everyone, just like in the game. So go ahead and enjoy!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

25 man raiding – how long can we defy the law of gravity?

Back in April I asked if anyone will bother to do run 25 man raids in Cataclysm, considering the announced changes with shared lockouts and loot in 10 mans becoming the same as the 25 man loot.

As someone who loves 25 man raiding, I was concerned, even though I also could understand why the 10 man raiding guilds welcomed the changes and thought it was about time. The gain of someone is the loss of someone else.

Here we are now, one month - soon to be two, into Cataclysm. How did it go? Has the world changed or were my worries unfounded? Is it business as usual?

Hitting hard
Well, I suppose that it’s still a little bit too early in Cataclysm to make the definite call. People have only been at max level for a month. Players who aren’t on the bleeding edge, but still plan to raid in Cataclysm, are still in the process of gearing up in heroics. And the post-Cataclysmic guild landscape on each server isn’t set in stone yet; it’s a process in progress. We’re only seeing the first tier of several and each one might have an impact on the social structure and how people choose to raid.

So there are a lot of reservations and maybes in this post, in the usual Larísa manner.

However, if I’m putting up my finger in the air to feel where the wind is going, I would say that Cataclysm has hit the 25 man raiding pretty hard.

I can only speak about what I see on my server, but where there used to be at least 15-20 guilds on the alliance side that did 25 man raids back in the days, there are just a handful who do them in Cataclysm, so far.

If you look at the recruitment ads on the forums, there are plenty of guilds who claim that they’ve got plans on 25 man raids. However, when you look a little closer at their raid progression, it turns out that most of their kills, if not all, are from 10 man raids.

Not everyone will agree with me. I read a post by Gavendo at Rapid Fire, who argued that the hardcore guilds such as Paragon still are rocking it in the 25 mans. He also talks about why 10 mans are harder than 25 mans, since there among other things is less room for individual mistakes. So according to Gav we were wrong to worry about the future of 25 man raiding.

And sure, I’m certain that the top class guilds of the world are doing just fine. But the world I live in is different. What we currently experience is a distinct lack of people who want to do 25 man raiding. Recruiting is harder than ever been before. For all the efforts we’ve made, we don’t get many applications, and I find it hard to believe that it would be because it’s not as if we’re not an attractive guild. We’re one of the oldest, most reliable and well organized guilds on the server if I’d dare say so, with an infrastructure that works and a solid record of progression in the past. If we can’t recruit, it’s not just because we’re not good enough. It’s something else going on.

Was it only about the loot?
Last spring we had quite an intense debate going on in the blogosphere about 10 vs 25 man raiding. There was a lot of talk about the loot aspect, where 25 mans always had been at advantage and things now would be more or less equal (although with a little more points awarded to 25 man raids.) Many argued that if loot was all that kept people doing 25 mans and that players really didn’t enjoy it for its own sake, then it was just as good if it disappeared.

And I’m sad to say it, but it seems as if this is what we see happening now. With the promise of better loot to show off in the cities gone, the gravitation towards smaller, easier-to-handle, more tightly knit raiding formats is turning out to be strong, maybe too strong.

Our guild is still determined to defy this gravitation. Loot or not, we think that 25 man raiding has a certain “something” that 10 man raiding lacks. Not that there’s anything bad about 10 man raiding. I enjoy the smaller format immensely too, with the intimacy and cosiness that a tighter team brings. However, it’s a different creature and it can’t really replace the experience of having a 25 man team climb a learning curve, click and pull it together.

But unfortunately, people like me seem to be a dying breed and the question is for how long we can keep doing this. And how much worries and stress can our officers put up with before it’s wearing them down?

History repeating itself?
The other night our officers set a date. If we can’t fill our vacancies before March 1, so we’re sure that we can pull off every raid and progress as planned, we will no more be a 25 man guild, but a 10 man guild spotting only one team, and the roster will be cut down accordingly.

No one wants it to happen and everyone’s prepared to do whatever they can to help out recruiting. Hopefully Adrenaline won’t become one of the victims of the 25 man raiding death of Cataclysm. But there’s no guarantee we’ll succeed.

If you forget about Paragon and their buddies, I think it’s a tough time for many 25 man guilds in Cataclysm. I was never around for the 40 man raiding in vanilla, but I’ve understood that the transformation for TBC, when they were removed from the game, was painful to say the least. While we still have 25 man raids in the game, I can’t help wondering if what we see now is the beginning of a repetition of the past.

And the next question that comes to mind is of course: how could Blizzard possibly motivate keeping making content for 25 man raids in the next expansion, if it’s just a small minority of the players who bother to do it? It sure carries a symbolic value, but it also pulls development resources, and the question is how much they can allow it to cost.

Again: it probably is too early to judge out the 25 mans completely. This is not my “The End is Near” post. Not quite yet.

But the situation is indeed worrying for all of us who love to raid in 25 mans, but wouldn’t qualify to do it in Paragon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Single Pack Disease at AH

I shop my groceries in a supermarket once a week. It's the quickest and cheapest way to get the stuff you need for a family of four. The carrier is always filled to the brim, so heavy that I just barely can handle it and stop it from running straight into the back of adjacent cars in the parking area. I guess I'm like any ordinary middle aged mum in my neighborhood, apart from that I normally listen one or another of my favorite WoW podcasts as I'm doing it. This makes the task far less tedious.

But let's move along to the point. As I do my shopping I tend to buy the items in big packs. Living in a fairly small house I haven't got storage space enough to go for the Very Biggest, Supergigantic and therefore also cheapest versions. But I go for the middle priced. Take toilet tissue. I wouldn't dream of buying that in singles. It would be quite inconvenient for one thing, but it would also be far more expensive. So normally I stick to the 8 or 12 packs, even though I know that the ideal would be to buy 64 at a time, if I only had somewhere to put it.

The more of them you buy, the better price you'll get. That's the norm in real life shopping. Buy three books and you'll get a fourth for free. Buy ten at the price of nine. You know the drill.

The Cataclysm change
It used to be that way in Azeroth too. Stacks of items were always cheaper per item than buying them one by one. Pre-Cataclysm you could always make a little money at AH this way. You bought one elemental fire and cut it into ten crystallized fire pieces, selling each one at the double price of what they had cost you to begin with. The people who only wanted to buy that single crystallized fire they needed for their crafting were happy, the seller was happy, everyone was happy.

Enter Cataclysm and something happened.

The "Multi packs always give you a discount rule" is broken. Nowadays the rule seems to be exactly the opposite, at least at my server. And it drives me nuts.

My main is a tailor, but I don't have any miner or herbalist at max level. This means that I need to buy elementals to do my weekly special cool down cloths. And I buy loads of them. Each cloth type takes 30 elementals and I can make five of those cloths a week. This means 150 freaking volatiles of different flavours!

All this would be fine if it wasn't for the fact that the rule has changed. The elementals even stack better these days, so theoretically I could buy 30-packs. Click, click, click, loot mail box, DONE.

But alas - no. I can't speak for other servers of course, but on my server, Stormrage EU, you have to pay extra nowadays if you want a proper stack. The single packs are always cheaper per item, and I mean a LOT cheaper.

For every single item I need this means that I have to click at least three times in AH. One time to mark the item, one time to mark that I want to buy it out immediately and a third time to accept it and get it done. Looting it from the mail box fortunately only takes me one click, provided that I remember to use shift and right click. But never the less, all in all, it's four clicks for each one of the 150 elementals every week, which if I count it right will result in 600 clicks. And that, my friends leads to a LOT of clicking.

One day this is going to give me some problems with my arm, no kidding. The repetitive clicking, over and over again isn't just boring and annoying, it even hurts, physically.

I suppose there is a solution out there if you use the proper addons. There surely must be some addon that enables you to bid on a multitude of single posted items without having to mark and click on each one of them.

But should I really have to go through that hassle to find that addon, to install it, to configure it, to keep it updated and make sure it doesn't drag down my system?

I don't even WANT an auction addon in the first place! I'm not interested in gold making and I spend as little time as possible messing around with business related activities. I'm in the game to kill dragons, explore worlds and hang around with people I like.

Possible solutions
I guess there are two solutions to this. One is that Blizzard could change the game default UI in some manner so you don't need to do all that clicking if you want to buy 30 volatiles and end up buying them in singles because people refuse to post stacks of them.

Another solution of course is that we somehow get back to the standard that the more you buy, the less you pay. But I suppose that won't happen.

The goblins get better paid for big stacks, which require them less work to post. And I must admit that I'm sometimes even prepared to pay them for it, even if I grumble as I do it. It happens that I just can't face another click-my-way-through-thirty-singles session and buy out the pricey stacks just to save me some time. So why would they refrain from the possibility to do such good business?

The question is what a grumpy gnome is to do when she's out to do her weekly stack up shopping for her crafting?

Well, I put on a podcast and try to think of something else as I click my way through page after page at AH. Just as I do when I go for my weekly shopping at the supermarket.

But I can't help thinking myself back to better times, when the market in Azeroth behaved like other markets and one elemental was cheaper than ten crystals.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The honeymoon is over for the bitter veterans

I probably shouldn’t write about this post since doing it puts me in a slightly bad mood. However, there are some thoughts and views that have been swirling aruond in my backhead for a few days now, following a debate in the blogosphere. And I can't help myself; I need to let out this steam so I can enter the weekend with peace in my mind.
The firestarter is no one but Wolfshead, who is done with his month of evaluating Cataclysm and now has come to the conclusion that it’s the worst expansion in the entire MMO history.

The blogger who more than anyone else (possibly with exception for Syncaine) loves to hate WoW, the guy who has appointed Blizzard the Evil Destroyer of the MMO concept, has once again played WoW for a few days – how many hours is unclear – and come to the conclusion that it still sucks. I would have been way more surprised if he had changed his mind.

“WoW is dying” over again.
As long as I’ve been playing, since 2007, there have been people whining on the forums about how “WoW is dying”, how the game has been ruined by equally bad and evil developers, spiced up with some well chosen general insults to the entire community, meaning: all other players except for me are idiots.

We saw those ex-players return for Cataclysm and for a month they’ve been occupied playing the game. Now the honeymoon is over and this week a wave of negative posts popped up in the blogosphere, Wolfshead the most extreme example. Apparently those who basically don’t like WoW because they’re burned out or just haven't come over EQ are done with their thing and about to leave us.

And to be truthful: the quicker they go, the better it is. I’ve had enough of their presence. Their constant flow of bitter and poisonous throw-ups in blogs and forum posts is sickening and doesn’t’ give me any insight or knowledge whatsoever. All it gives is an annoying debuff on my mood.

It’s hard to take doom and gloom prophecies seriously. Is Cataclysm doing well or not? I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see what the annual reports for Blizzard Activision say. But one think is clear: I don’t think that Wolfshead’s conclusions or a bunch of whiny forum posts can be hold as evidence that Cataclysm is a bad expansion, that it’s badly received, that Blizzard has failed and that players now are leaving for greener pastures.

We’ve seen exactly this happening in every expansion of WoW. Players fled after Vanilla, after TBC, after Wrath and now after Cataclysm. Just like in any other hobby activity, people come and go for various reasons.

But when it comes to WoW it’s a little bit different. For some reason, those who are unhappy can’t just cancel their subscription and play another game that suites them better, which seems to be the logical thing to do. Oh no, they have to make a hell of a noise as they’re leaving, slamming the door to make sure we’re really noticing their departure, yelling in red: “We’re all doomed, WoW is dying!”

A kick from bashing WoW
Isn’t this behavior a little bit odd, thinking about it?

I mean, it isn’t as if WoW was the only game on the market, just as little as there is only one sort of food available in the store. I for instance don’t like the taste of egg. As a matter of fact I hate it in its pure form, such as a boiled egg or an omelet. Does this mean that I’m at war with people who like egg, who make those dishes and eat them with pleasure? Do I call them tasteless, childish and lacking any kind of thinking ability because their taste is different to mine? Do I think that egg-producers are doing the wrong thing, destroying the market for good and tasty food? Nope. The thought is rather absurd.

However, some ex-players feed on and get a kick out of bashing WoW. I’m not sure why. Could it possibly be that it’s a case of an unhappy divorce, an unfinished relationship? WoW is their ex lover and they’ve parted from it on the paper but not in their heart and mind and now they’re trying to convince themselves to let go of it. When they demonize it, it’s their last, desperate effort to try to get away from it.

Lack of nuances
I guess Wolfshead wanted to provoke a discussion, but how do you argue with someone who so completely lacks nuances and perspective, claiming that “It’s almost as if someone has kidnapped the game designers at Irvine and replaced them with childcare workers.”?

How do you talk to someone who sweepingly says: “Like some deranged madman bent on suicide, Blizzard has destroyed everything that was good and noble about MMOs and seemingly wants to take the entire genre with it into existential oblivion”? Can you take this seriously?

Wolfshead claims that Blizzard has created “the worst community in MMO history”.

On what grounds does he say so? I’m a part of the community. So is my guild. So are the bloggers I read and love. Are we all just childish, entitled scum in the world of Wolfshead?

And he goes on:

“You’d almost think that Blizzard feels that socialization and camaraderie are liabilities that should be removed from MMOs altogether.”

I suppose Wolfshead hasn’t noticed the new guild leveling and guild perk system or the changes to raiding that means a huge buff to small, tightly knit 10 man raiding guilds? Likewise he doesn’t see how beautiful Azeroth has become. Has he ever set his foot in Vashj’ir?

All he does is raging about how thee world has been ruined: “Familiar and sentimental zones like Loch Modan, have been destroyed and replaced with desolate ugliness.” Would he prefer if Azeroth had frozen and looked exactly as it did in vanilla? A museum rather than a living, breathing and always changing world.

I could go on and on about Wolfshead’s post, but I think I’ve ranted enough. I just can’t help thinking that it’s a little sad that the guy doesn’t use his writing skill, influence in the community and knowledge about MMOs to make something more interesting. He could have initiated a good discussion; instead he comes out like a reckless forum troll, just repeating it self. Such a waste of talent.

The Cataclysm disease
Wolfshead isn’t the only blogger who has been writing rather negative posts about Cataclysm this week. There have been quite a few others. On that stood out as better an more interesting than many others was the one by Lonomonkey, who tried to put his finger on what he calls “The Cataclysm Disease.”

As opposed to Wolfshead, Lonomonkey doesn’t fall into the pit hole of troll rhetoric. He’s reasonable and I think he’s on to something when he talks about the backside of the streamlined player experience – a lack of free choice and control. I’ve noticed it myself, especially as I was leveling in Uldum and felt as if I was on a moving walkway, unable to decide for myself.

For my own part I haven’t seen enough of the game to make a verdict on how Cataclysm panned out at this stage. I’ve leveled a character to max level, I’ve seen most of the five man dungeons and I’ve started out raiding, but I haven’t quested through the revamped zones with an alt. I have yet to try out PvPing, I have yet to pay the worgen and goblin areas, I have yet to see the new Azeroth from a RP perspective. And above all – I haven’t seen what impact the changes to the game have had on the community from a long term perspective. It’s way too early to make the call. You can’t base such a judgment solely on what people post on the forums.

The good and the bad
If you push me for an answer, asking for my gut feeling, I’m a little bit worried about the lack of player choice, just like Lonomonkey, and I also have the feeling that 25 man raiding has taken quite a hit, judging from what I see on our own server. I miss the group quests while leveling, thinking it was a good preparation for five-mans and a way to get to know other people on the server. Overall I think that leveling is too much of a pure solo experience, considering it’s supposed to be an MMO.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of stuff that probably makes Cataclysm the best WoW expansion ever. The quests are more fun and varied, many zones are incredibly beautiful and imaginative, they’ve made the five man dungeons interesting and challenging again and they’ve given players more incentives to join guilds and play with friends, at least on end-game level. Epics feel like epics again, a reward for effort and overcoming of challenge. There’s a lot to be happy about.

However as I said: my picture is incomplete. We have all time in the world to discuss this. This expansion has only begun and if I’m allowed to speculate I doubt we’ll see the next one until the end of 2012.

I’m looking forward to have some serious and balanced debates about what lessons we can learn from Cataclysm and what future we see for WoW as well as the next generation of MMOs. But let the WoW haters leave the scene first. Then we start talking.

And now I think we all need something to raise our spirits after the hit they took by the post-honeymoon backlash. It’s time for the weekly toast. I hope you’ll get an enjoyable weekend! Oh, and let’s make next week into a happier one, shall we? I for one am still having a blast exploring Cataclysm.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Gnomebliteration for Daily!

I’m normally not a huge fan of daily quests. I make a few of them, but more often than not it’s out of duty and a fixed idea that I “have to” make the best out of my character than anything else. Not doing them would feel like slacking. Yeah, I’m probably a bit silly, but that’s me.

I still have painful memories of being captured in slavery for the Sons of Hodir, polishing their not-to-be-mentioned thingies and whatnot. Pure humiliation, I tell you.

The very moment when I dinged exalted with Therazane, I told them some truths about what I really thought about them and made it perfectly clear that I was out of that pit for good. If they wanted shiny rocks from labyrinths they would have to grab them themselves. I was done.

Tol Barad
I’m still on the fence about the Tor Barad dailies. Admittedly those guys have some quite shiny trinkets in their store and a close to irresistible non combat pet. However most of the quests are underwhelming, to say the least.

We thought that Blizzard hade moved on from the “kill-ten-rats” quest era and that quests were supposed to be fun and interesting these days. The truth is: they haven’t. Not entirely. They just gathered them all up in this zone. Gather body parts from crocs, kill tons of spiders, kill X amount of mobs in the Y village. Zzzzzz.

I still do the Tol Barad quests occasionally, sort of half hearted. But not all of them and not every day; that would be more than I could stomach.

When you think about it closer, isn’t it rather insane to even consider doing the same simple, un-fun quest over and over again? Especially so since I still haven’t cherished all content there in for instance Vashj’ir and Twilight Highlands. But the min-maxing madness is hard to resist once it gets hold of you. I reckon that’s why I haven’t given up on them altogether.

There are exceptions of course. Pygmy slaughtering, say no more! You can never get enough of that, can you?

Quests I can do again
As I shared my enthusiasm for that daily quest the other day, I started to think about other quests I like in Cataclysm. Was there any other quest that I hadn’t had enough of doing it once? Was there a quest that I could imagine to do over and over again, even once I’ve reached exalted, just because of the entertainment value?

There was. There was one quest that came out as top-on mind, one quest that kept me giggling all the way as I did it. One quest that tendered to my need for big numbers and merciless slaughter of small creatures.

Yep. I’m talking about Gnomebliteration, the quest in Uldum where you handle a gigantic fireball, rolling down the hill on the hunt for 1 000 (!) crazed gnomes.

If I’d known better as I did it, I would never have turned it in. Then I could have done it over and over again as much as I wanted to. According to the comments at Wowhead, you can proceed in Uldum without completing this quest. But I didn’t know, so now it’s out of my reach unless I level an alt.

My hope now is that Blizzard will hear the cries from the masses. Judging from pleading threads in the forums and from several of the comments to my pygmy quest post, I’m not the only one who loves to crush gnomes with a giant ball of fire.

Make Gnomebliteration into a daily!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Unfiltered Joy of Smashing Thieving Little Pluckers

Let me reveal a secret. Those pink pigtails - the doll-like cute little face if mine – is just a disguise. In reality I’m a full-fledged slaughter machine, always craving for blood.

The more they bleed and scream, the wider is the smile on my face. It feels good to be evil!

Pygmy cravings
My true nature was revealed to me the first time I did the quest Thieving Little Pluckers in Uldum.

As I raised the Tehtret Dynasty Mallet, which is about the size of Larisa and smashed it into the living pillar of equally annoying and cute sand pygmies, and as I saw how they fell in all directions, blood flowing and yellow numbers filling my screen, I knew that I was lost.

I had to do this again! Please, please let me! I would do anything in my power – even level an alt if that was what was needed– to get the chance to just one more time pwn those little creatures and tear them into pieces.

Fortunately enough it turned out that someone at Blizzard knew about those darkest corners of the pink pigtailed mind. Of all quests in Uldum, they had picked this one for making a daily, in an effort to meet the needs of us addicts. And I pulled a sigh of relief. I could do this quest, over and over again, as many times as I liked. The flow of blood from smashed pygmies would never get dry.

And this was how it all began back in December. Many pygmies have died for my mallet since then and Ramkahen now are so pleased with my services as a smasher that they’ve given me a camel mount and released me from my duties. If I insist on keeping smashing pygmies, they let me of course, but the salary is set at a modest 7 g 85 silver, which I probably could earn quicker if I just gave AH 30 seconds of my attention.

From a strict goblin perspective, there’s no reason why I should do this daily again, ever.

But I do. Because I’m just like Raz the Crazed in Blackrock Caverns. I like to smash!

The joy of destruction
I frankly don’t know what it is about it that makes it so satisfying. There isn’t any challenge, no e-peen to wave and certainly no tasty quest reward awaiting.

And yet I love it, the same way as I enjoy stomping on the thin ice covering a ground pool an early winter morning, seeing the ice shatter into pieces as you pray silently that this pool was empty and not filled with dirty water. I think it’s something about the sound and the very sensation of breaking things. It’s the joy of pure, unfiltered destruction.

Bam, bam, splash! You’re so dead!

Blizzard may break their backs to provide us with all sorts of sophisticated quests with phasing, invisible vehicles, mystical mists à la Emerald Dram or crazy action filled cut scenes in the company of Harrison Ford. But we players are strange, ungrateful creatures. Sometimes we don’t want sophistication. Sometimes we just want to smash things and listen to the sound of screaming victims and flowing blood.

Thieving Little Pluckers. I think I already have a good candidate for when it’s time to nominate the best quest of 2011.

To all fellow smashers
My Friday night toast goes to all my fellow pygmy smashers out there. Maybe you find reasons to hide your addiction, putting up a façade that you prefer quests to be challenging and intriguing. But even so, don’t feel ashamed for your secret cravings.

You’re not alone!


My take on the puzzling dungeon nerf

Rohan of Blessing of Kings welcomes the incoming nerf to the heroic 5 man dungeons.

Well, I don’t.

While I could see it happen in the course of time, possibly in a few months, I can’t see the reasons for doing just over a month into the new expansion.

For God’s sake, we just dinged 85 a couple of weeks a go! Could you please give us a chance to try out the new content for ourselves before you decide that we’re probably not good enough for the challenge? Just askin'.

As if the rush to catch up with gear to get raid ready after the holidays wasn’t enough, I also have to rush now to see the instances before they’ll take the edge out of them. I hear about three hour long wipe feasts in heroic Deadmines. Well, I tell you: I would have loved to experience one of them, but unfortunately I have yet to see it. The question is if I’ll be able to get in there before 4.06 hits.

I’m disappointed and above anything: confused. Ghostcrawler only recently wrote a brilliant post where he explained the reasons for why they’ve put the instances at the current difficulty level. For instance:

“The bottom line is that we want Heroics and raids to be challenging, and that is particularly true now while the content is new and characters are still collecting gear. They’re only going to get easier from here on out. We want players to approach an encounter, especially a Heroic encounter, as a puzzle to be solved. We want groups to communicate and strategize. And by extension, we want you to celebrate when you win instead of it being a foregone conclusion.”
Did you notice the sentence: “They’re only going to get easier from here”? Exactly. And do you know why? It’s because it happens naturally as we gear up. Blizzard doesn’t need to lift a finger for it to happen. The gearing up is a nerf in itself, even if it seems to slip their minds sometimes.

The timing of Ghostcrawler’s post and the announcement about the nerfs (yes, I know a few bosses were buffed as well, but the total of it was a nerf) is unfortunate.

It’s never a good idea to try to convey two ideas at the same time.

I wish they had stuck to their guns.

Edit: After posting this I read Tam's take on this topic at Righteous Orbs and I have to admit that he has some good points. It's possible that my negative reaction to the changes is somewhat hasty and knee-jerkish. However, I still can't help feeling cheated for never getting the chance to do DM when it was at its hardest. It's not about that I want other players to have an equally hard experience as I had. It's about my own challenge.

And I still think that the timing between this and GC's post was bad. He could easily have avoided the double messages by mentioning some of the changes in his post, as examples of how they want to tweak things.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Pink Pigtail Inn Awards of 2010 – The Blogosphere


May I ask for your attention one more time? I’m here to make one more announcement regarding The Pink Pigtail Inn awards of 2010 – the fourth and final. This time we’re taking a closer look at what’s been up in the blogosphere.

I won’t hide it to you that I’ve had a hard time to make up my mind. There have been moments when I’ve been ready to give up. How could you possibly pick one favourite in each category, when there more often than not at least ten other blogs that would be equally worthy winners? No matter how long and hard the jury thinks it over, there will be bloggers as well as readers who are utterly disappointed and can’t understand how I possibly could highlight THAT scrub instead of their own favourite. But that’s life. There is no justice. And remember, this is just a little bit of fun, OK? With no further ado, let’s get started!

Biggest blog facelift

Nominated: Murloc Parliament (“I’m not sure if everyone even remembers who she was before”), Cold’s Gold Factory, Tree Bark Jacket, Just My Two Copper , Disciplinary Action, Oh My Kurenai, Manalicious

OK, I’m probably not the best person to make a judgement about layout changes to a blog. In the end, I've always thought that it’s the content that matters most. You may tweak your blog into the prettiest piece of artwork ever seen, but if you don’t write decent posts with some regularity, I’m not interested.

However: over the last year, even I have noted how much better the blogs look today compared to when I entered the blogosphere three years ago. At that time 90 percent of the blogs looked more or less the same, using either the most basic design provided by Blogger or Wordpress. My blog still looks the same, unfortunately. Call me a slacker if you want! But many other bloggers have given their virtual homes a bit of polish, and they certainly do deserve some recognition for their efforts.

It’s been a tough call between the nominees. Murloc Parliament resurrected from the ashes of a blog drama that we’d rather just forget about, and did it just beautifully. Rhii broke up from I Sheep Things and created a lovely place of her own under the banner of Oh My Kurenai. Disciplinary Action has gone through a fantastic facelift and looks stunning - even with reverted text, which I'm normally not a fan of.

As a matter of fact I almost decided to give the award to someone who wasn’t nominated – to Blizzard Activision. The community website went through a surgical treatment of epic proportions and some of their leading staff can nowadays ad “blogger” to their business card.. However, since they don’t interact at all with the blogosphere, I don't count them as a part of it, and that leaves them out of the list.

The winner is: Manalicious!

Motivation: Vidyala of Manalicious decided to move over from Pugging Pally, where she previously had built a certain readership. It’s not easy to go through a name and domain change without getting lost, but she has succeeded. Thanks to Vidyala’s drawing skills, Manalicious has a distinct look and feeling of its own, while yet sticking to classic, easy-to-read design principles such as white background and an easily readable font. The fact that she also has helped other blogs to go through a facelift, offering them beautiful banners is of course an extra plus.

Most memorable blog post

Special characters by Tobold
Are we all just playing for second place by Phase 3. profit
'' It's not me it's you '' from Issy on Jaeycandco
Why Thresa must die (a roleplaying philosophy) by Orcish Army Knife
A Friend Avenged by Orcish Army Knife
The Gerald saga at Righteous Orbs
Ratshag’s Dangermouse mourns her friend
I Shapeshift therefore I am by Tree Bark Jacket (“Though I personally completely disagreed with the sentiment, a LOT of druids rallied around this posts and the poster image was seen everywhere.” )

Healertrek nominated the posts about the PuG at Greedy Gevlon:

“Just when it looked like Gevlon had blown all out of steam with his economic take on the world of warcraft, he decided to take on a new project with a bold announcement. Following his success in taking down Ulduar in blues, he thought up a PuG guild where his anti-socialist ways and super efficiency are valued above all else. If you want to see raiding treated like a business, this is a fascinating set of entries to follow that continues to this day. In fact, this is really the entry that spawned a whole new Gevlon.”

Prelimar nominated Gnomeaggedon’s series of posts about depression from November: "It was deeply personal and really amazing. i can't nominate this enough.”

There were a lot of good suggestions, but in the end I picked something different, a choice of my own.

The winner is: An open letter to Blizzard by Shades of Grey!

There were so many good posts written during the Real ID debacle. But no one was anywhere near as spot on like this one. It gave me goose bumps to read it. It still does. This post is about much more than just Real ID. It captures the spirit of the game. I can’t refrain from a little quote from it.

“We don’t want to be John Smith.
We don’t want to be Jane Doe.
We don’t want our friends to just be John Smith, or Jane Doe. That’s not the point. That’s not the point of what you’ve given us. What you have given us is an awesome, amazing, awe-inspiring game where we don’t have to be ourselves. Where we can pretend we are Kronk, gruff and oft-misunderstood orc warrior with an odd penchant for interior design. Where we can pretend we are Gisella, noble paladin of the Light and kidnapper of baby wolvar . Where we can forget about the real world, the real world’s problems and issues, the real world’s pressures and annoyances and just settle back and kill some internet dragons.”

It's simply awesome and I must admit that I'm a little bit envious. Just a little. WTB writing skills!

Most noticed blogger breakthrough

Nominated: Just My Two Copper, Vidyala -- formerly Pugging Pally, now Manalicious, Life In Group 5, MMO Melting Pot, Murloc Parliament, Disciplinary Action, Postcards from Azeroth.

Syl from Raging Monkeys was nominated by several:
“Yes, I know she's got co-bloggers... but it was mostly her that I noticed commenting on other people's blogs when they'd only just started up and I've seriously never seen a blog skyrocket in popularity so quickly. That's what I call successful networking!”

And here's a vote for Lathere and Cassandri at HoTs and DoTs:
" Although the sisters from Australia had more entries in six months of 2009 than they had in all of 2010, their fun style has put them on many blogrolls of others I follow. That's as good an indication as any that this blog is having a major breakthrough. And how could you not appreciate the name?"

The winner is: MMO Melting Pot!

Motivation: There was something missing in the blogosphere. We just didn't know it until MMO Melting Pot swept in from nowhere and started to share their findings from the most obscure corners of the community. Under the command of the energetic Rebecca, MMO Melting Pot has established itself as one of the major institutions that brings glue to the community and helps us stay together. It's as if they've always been there. It's a remarkable breakthrough.

Most solid content provider

Nominated: Cold’s Gold Factory, Warcraft Hunter’s Union, Just My Two Copper, Mana Obscura, Murloc Parliament, Killing them slowly “For the fabulous combo of outstanding RP and useful Warlockery”, Righteous Defense, Krasus Kronicles,, Righteous Orbs, MMO Melting pot, Shy At Wow, MMO Champion, Tree Bark Jacket.

Healertrek nominated Matt Low both at World of Matticus and WoW Insider:

"Matt Low is probably the face of the healing wow community, and although he does get some assistance from co-writers at WOM, he still manages to produce multiple quality articles every month. Plus, his perspective on raiding and leading a raiding guild provide valuable insights to other guild officers and even the regular guild members of other guilds who wonder what goes on behind the scenes."

Fidjit suggested Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual:

“Updates might be a bit slower than other blogs, but I've found every single post on "Cynwise's Battlefield Manual" to be absolutely top notch. Extraordinarily detailed, insightful and entertaining."

Shintar nominated Klepsacovic from Troll Racials Are Overpowered:

"Sometimes he strays into crazy rambling territory, but he does update more frequently and more reliably than anyone else I read. That's worth a lot, especially on a quiet Sunday afternoon."

OK, I admit it. This category gave me a severe headache. The previous winners - Tobold and Spinksville were so obvious and outstanding. This year we had several strong candidates and I just couldn't make up my mind. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Righteous Orbs, and they’ve provided a ton of excellently written walls of text over the year, how more solid can you really get? But on the other hand, they've already gotten plenty of other awards.

I hesitated for the longest between Klepsacovic - who indeed is reliable in his updating, although possibly not so "solid", rather a little unpredictable and crazy - and Keeva at Tree Bark Jacket, who all year long has provided posts on a constantly high standard level, along with fantastic guides for resto druids. But in the end, I ended up with someone else.

The winner is: We Fly Spitfires!

Motivation: Gordon is one of those rather rare bloggers who manages to combine high quality writing with a good frequency. He has a wide perspective and doesn't only write about WoW, but also about other MMO:s. But even when he writes about games that I don't play and have no plans on ever trying out, he manages to grasp my attention. His writing is solid, smart and sometimes personal. As a matter of fact, the more personal he becomes, the better are his posts. Sometimes I disagree with Gordon; as a matter of fact quite often, which is one of the reasons why this blog is so worth to follow. When I look for blogs, I look for those that not only tells me what I already knew, but who also challenge me once in a while.

Most hugged blogger

Nominated: Miss Mediocre, Vidyala (Puggin’Pally and Manalicious), Cold’s gold factory, Rhii, Issy, Gnomeaggedon, Apple.

Tobold got a nomination in this category, which took me a little by surprise. He's one of my favourite bloggers, that's for sure, but it hadn't occurred to me that he had hugging potential.

Helertrek argued:

"One of the most solid content providers of the past two years has gotten into some battles but keeps blogging and coming back strong because his community supports him well. There's nobody that stands out like Phaelia and BRK from a year ago, but Tobold deserves all his hugs as well!"

Pike from Aspect of the Hare got a lot of love:

“The outpouring of support when she brought up having financial problems recently was quite impressive. Though not as impressive as that in response to her favourite pet's model getting changed... Hunters. They like to stick together”
"Sweet girl, great site, loving fans."

The winner is: Gnomeaggedon!

How do you sense that a blogger should be hugged? You just know it. Frankly I can't think of anyone more huggable in the entire blogosphere. Gnomeaggedon is one of those who make the blogosphere into a better place. He's got an eye for details, a sharp pen and a sparkling sense of humour. But also a big heart. If he ever spots something written between the lines in a post of mine, that might indicate that I'm a tad low, you can bet that he'll write me a worried letter, wondering what's up and if I want to talk about it. In November 2010 he brought his writing to a new level with a series of posts about his personal experiences of suffering from depression, including good advice to others who might be in the same situation. I think it was the bravest writing I've ever seen since I started to blog. It's about time that someone gives him a hug.

Hottest blogosphere topic

Nominated: Markco vs Gevlon. Gevlon’s Undergeared project, 10 vs 25 man raiding changes coming in Cataclysm.Fail PUG stories, Hillarious misrepresentation by GTFOOTF for the JMTC blogging carnivals. Whether being an asshole is bad or not.

Real ID got a couple of nominations:

"Not only does it count as the most controversial happening in the community at large, but Real ID set the blogging community on fire more than any Cataclysmic announcements. Whether you were for or against the changes, everybody had something to say."

Shintar and many with her suggested "the whole feminism debate":

"There was some good and thought-provoking stuff in there, but it went on for so long and got so heated after a while that I just wanted it to go away eventually.

"Frostheimgate" or whatever you want to call it would probably make a pretty decent runner-up though. And if bronze medals were to be given out as well, I'd give one to the whole "harassing bad roleplayers" affair early in the year."

The winner is: The giant sexism kerfuffle!

Motivation: Ever since I started blogging, gender related topics have been on the agenda a few times every year. How is it to be a woman in a male heavy guild? Is it an advantage or disadvantage, are their differences in how we're treated or not? Do or don't our boobs make us different to other gamers? However, the summer and early autumn 2010 was different. It was the year of the "giant sexism kerfuffle", as Rhii named it (thank you very much; I fumbled for a label that was wider than just "women" or "feminism".)

We didn't just talk about players this time around; we also looked into the game design and discussed the stereotypes, female as male. Chastity at Righteous Orbs explained why he found it easier to identify with a female avatar than with a male, whose neck was thicker than his head. The discussion was heated to say the least, and chainlightened between a great many blog, including those posts at The Pink Pigtail Inn. Eventually I think we were all so exhausted that we needed a break for a while. But I have a feeling it won't be long before someone picks it up again.

Best writer

Inkobah of, Klepsacovic of Troll Racials are Overpowered, Saga at Girl's don't play WoW, Vixsin at Life in Group 5, Gnomeaggedon, Cynwise from Cynwise’s Blog Empire, Miss Mediocre, Ratshag, Pewter at 'Mental Shaman "for analytical writing", Rades at Orcish Army Knife "for evocative lore filled, beautiful posts".

Ano wrote two long motivations for his favorites:

Vidyala (formerly of pugging pally, now blogging at Manalicious and guesting raaaaather a lot at Sword & Board) is consistently excellent. She's always been witty, informative, irreverant, playful, serious and a bunch of other adjectives which should be contradictory but aren't in her case. Plus it's all accompanied by her wonderful illustrations. Who else could offer an entirely useful recipe and give it true Azerothian flavour?”

Rades at Orcish Army Knife has always written well, but particularly over the back half of the year, seems to have caught fire a little. Nowhere is this more evident than the letters to Northrend series he did for NaNoWriMo this year. I was worried earlier in the year, when I found myself actually caring about some lore or other having read one too many of his lore-related posts. I was exasperated when, having thought I'd come up with blogging gold ("Deathwing is just a stooge - there's something behind him and I can write about it!") he proceeded to write about the same subject with such
depth and skill I deleted my draft in self-disgust. And then I read the Letters to Northrend series.

Healertrek nominated John Patricelli at Big Bear Butt:

"I'm not a tank, this I accept. Sure I find it fun on the Death Knight from time to time, but my attempt to tank with my druid have been fail fail fail. However, Patricelli explains things so well about tanking that even I feel like I can get it (as a healer). That's a great achievement, and he's entertaining to read to boot. Definitely my favorite read of 2010."

This was yet another very difficult category. All the suggestions are excellent choices. I’m particularly intrigued by the fact that there seem to be so many good shaman writers. Is there some kind of chain lightening going on there? Apart from the already mentioned Pewter and Vixsin, we also have Charles at Planet of the Hats. He’s not one of the most productive bloggers and he’s not in the centre of the action, but oh, that man can write!

In the end though, I settled for a non-shaman.

The winner is: Chastity at Righteous Orbs!

Motivation: For some reason people tend to mix up Chastity with his fellow blogger Tamarind and I thought it was about time to make it clear that they’re two different persons and two different writers, with different writing style and temperament. Tam, who got the award last year is a brilliant writer - but so is Chastity. It isn’t just that his writing is fluid and pleasant to read, and that I think Chastity could write a good blog post about just any topic you tossed to him. He also has the ability to really get through to the reader, to touch them, set them on fire, make them feel, think and react. More often than not, Chastities posts will spark a discussion, as for instance in the case of The giant sexism kerfuffle. And when this happens Chastity goes into his PvP mode and keeps writing in the comment section, even more furious, precise and poignant. But even in his rabid-dog-who-never-lets-go mode, he always remains sharp and intelligent. The blogosphere would be quite a deal duller if Chastity wasn’t there.

A few final words
So this was it. The Pink Pigtail List of 2010 is complete. I will post the final look of it in a summary below.

But first I want to thank everyone who contributed with suggestions. While we do have a one-man jury, I have taken a lot of inspiration from the nominations.

As I've been working with this list, I've realized that it's somewhat incomplete. Why do I award podcasts, but not videocasts? Wouldn't it be appropriate to have an award for the best WoW comic? Or what about giving out genre awards: the best druid blog of the year, PvP blog, gold making blog or guild leadership blog of the year?

There's a lot more you could do of this yearly event. If I’m still around blogging next year, I might do a few changes to the list. Feel free to come with suggestions!

Only one thing remains: to bring out a toast for all the winners. Congratulations to your well deserved awards!


  1. Best raid instance: Icecrown Citadel
  2. Least successful raid instance: Ruby Santcum
  3. Most longed for instance: Black Temple
  4. Silliest gold sink: The Sparkling Pony
  5. Biggest addition to the game: The Dungeon Finder Tool
  6. Best quest: The retaking of Gnomeregan and Echo Isles
  7. Ugliest tabard: Loremaster’s Colors
  8. Favorite non combat pet: Core Hound Pup
  9. Biggest community controversy: The Battle of Real ID on the forums
  10. Most charming Blizzard employee: Nethaera
  11. Best podcast: The Obscurecast
  12. Biggest blog facelift: Manalicious
  13. Most memorable blog post: An open letter to Blizzard by Shades of Grey
  14. Most noticed blogger breakthrough: MMO Melting Pot
  15. Most solid content provider: We Fly Spitfires
  16. Most hugged blogger: Gnomeaggedon
  17. Hottest blogosphere topic: The giant sexism kerfuffle
  18. Best writer: Chastity at Righteous Orbs

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Pink Pigtail Inn Awards of 2010 – The community

Welcome to the third part in the series of announcements of The Pink Pigtail Inn awards of 2010. This time we’re looking further into the categories that fall into the community area, except for those that concern the blogosphere. Those awards will be presented separately.

Let’s get started!

Biggest community controversy

Nominated: Gender politics, Real ID, The Ensidia 36-hour ban for a rogue using saronite bombs on the Lich King encounter, Continued failure to nerf [other class], Purchasable mounts (aka the Sparklepony Fiasco), women in WoW, GTFOOTF Vs. Markco's Blogging Carnival,

The blogging community talked a lot about gender politics during 2009, that's for sure. However there's a special category for blogging hot topics, where those nominations would fit better.

This leaves us with two strong candidates. Last year this category was named "Most juicy guild drama", and if the label had remained this way, we would have a clear winner in Ensidia. The banhammer hit them so hard that I don't think they ever fully recovered from it.

The other candidate of course is Real ID.

"I deleted my blog because of it, so did others", said Quiet Kjun.

Rhii says: "It actually got me to the forums to add my vote! I use Real ID, but I like to use it on my own terms and have the choice to opt out. Go Blizzard for backing down."

The winner is: The Battle of Real ID on the forums!

Motivation: Some of the commenters suggested that Real ID wasn't a worthy candidate, since there wasn't any controversy about it; everyone was at the same side. I would argue against though. Initially, before Blizzard decided to back off, they were on a clashing course with a huge and very vocal chunk of the community. I think the strong reactions took them a little by surprise. It didn't take them too long to back off from it though, and the community was just as quick to forgive and move on. However I think it was a bit of an eye-opener for many of us to fully begin to grasp where Blizzard was heading, trying to grasp their market share of the social media market, anxious to keep up with their time and not being left behind.

Some players embraced it. Others, old farts like me, are still not convinced that this change of direction is for the better. We want to let our fantasy world remain a fantasy, a different place where we secretly can go under cover and be someone else.

Most charming Blizzard employee

Nominated: “The GM who gave me a replacement dress after I picked a duplicate”, Zarhym and Bashiok (“They’re like the blue Koltira/Thassarian.”), Nethaera

If you asked all WoW players to name one Blizzard employee, I bet the vast majority couldn't come up with a single name. They play a cool game and as long as it works, they're happy. Who cares about the guy behind it? Not even Ghostrcrawler's fame reaches any further than to the most dedicated and nerdy WoW players who can't just stick to playing the game, but wants to read about it and think about it even as they're off line.

However, this list was made by and for such geeks, so let's see what we have in store this year. Ghostcrawler himself, previously rewarded, is out of the competition. But what about the rest? Well, for my own part I couldn't help being a little charmed by Chris Metzen's "Geek is" presentation at Blizzcon. Sure, it was very cheap and simple rhetoric, a neat little trick, but it did the job. Another one I have a good eye to is Russell Brower, who is head of the music production for the game. The podcast The Instance has had him in the show a couple of times, and he was every so charming in the interviews.

I also loved Bashiok for his reckless act of bravery when he stood up for Real ID, posting his name, and became a victim for the cruel revenge of the mob.


The winner is: Nethaera!

Motivation: Nethaera makes the forums to a better place with her presence. She doesn't just display maturity, balance and knowledge; she also comes out as a warm, caring and charming person who has earned a big respect in the community, without ever falling into the gender trap. She's awesome because she's awesome in herself, not because she happens to be a woman and a rare spawn.

If you want to see any more proof of Nethaera's qualities, I suggest that you go and check out Miss Medicina, who devoted an entire blogpost to a celebration of Nethaera.

Best podcast

Nominated: Obscurecast, Castaclysm, The Instance, Rawrcast, Blue Plz!, Ventchat, WoWphiles.

Of all the podcasts nominated I think WoWphiles has the most devoted fans. They were nominated multiple times, with declarations love such as this one:

"I've listened to several podcasts, one however, seems to stand above the rest. WoWPhiles. They have a group of the funniest, as well as insightful show hosts I have had the pleasure to listen to.Episode #50, for example, "Twas the Night Before Cataclysm" Awesome poetry work by Jason Zimmerman, and wonderful topic discussion on the recent shattering changes to our virtual world."
Some readers thought I should award Blue Plz! again, even if it won last year, just because it's that good.

But while I do enjoy the sarcasms of the Cynical Brit as much as anyone else, I think it's good to spread the love a little and give others the chance to get a moment in the spotlight.

I struggled quite a bit to make up my mind for a winner. Two podcasts in particular stood out to me as final candidates. The first one was The Instance, which is a lovely counterweight to all the whining and negativism in the community. It's a podcast that is made with a contagious smile.


The winner is: The Obscurecast !

Motivation: Gazimoff and Pewter have a wonderful banter and a dynamic that really works. As opposed to many other duo led Podcasts they manage to make the listener feel invited to the party. There aren't any inside jokes or bursts of uncalled for giggling. They have pleasant voices, interesting stuff to say, a good mixture of news coverage and timeless topics. Occasionally they have guests appearances, and they're always well chosen. Over the course of the year, the show has only gotten better. There's no doubt that Mana Obscurea is a rising star and a worthy winner of the title Best Podcast 2010.

Did I hear someone say I'm biased because it's from Europe and Gazimoff plays a mage like I do? Noooo, that surely couldn't be, how would that look? Shush.

The End
And that's all for this time. One more announcement remains, the one that covers the blogosphere. BRB!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Pink Pigtail Inn Awards of 2010 – Things we saw in-game

Welcome to part two in the series where we present The Pink Pigtail List of 2010. Today we'll look closer at some things we saw in game, ranging from huge game changing additions to the not quite as serious competition for the ugliest tabard

Silliest gold sink

Nominated: Mechano-Hogs, Dalaran rings, raiding, Harison Pilton achievement bags, Hyacinth macaw, monocles, The Insane title, Chimaeric chops ("like 3K for an old world cooking recipe? Really?”), Sparkling Pony.

If you look at the number of nominations, the chopper looks like a winner. As Shintar commented:

"Not only are they ludicrously expensive, their sound effects are annoying as hell. I can listen to cars driving outside my window all day, thanks. I don't need that to invade my fantasy world".
On one level I could agree with her, but on the other hand, I must admit that I've enjoyed it quite a bit every time I've been given a ride in them as a passenger. They may be noisy, ugly and unsuitable for a fantasy game, but they're kind of fun and I can actually understand pretty well why some players are willing to pay a lot to get it.

The winner is: The Sparkling Pony!

Motivation: The suggestion came from Redbeard, with the motivation: "You didn't mention whether it was real coin or virtual gold". And he's right of course.

I know there are some of you out there who bought this mount and love to get it on all your alts, ready to ride as well as fly. But I couldn't help finding the sight of a huge, armor covered warrior flying around on that over-sweetened sparkly little creature that could have been taken straight out of "My Little Pony, rather ridiculous.

You don't see much of these ponies around anymore. I doubt it's because people don't have them. I just think the sparkles faded quicker than Blizzard could put the money into the bank.

Biggest addition to the game

Nominated: 4.0 revamp of all classes and their talent trees, new race/class combos, Level 10 keystone ability, Cataclysm, the glyph system, old World flying, the Dungeon Finder tool.

If you disregard of Cataclysm, being launched in towards the very end of 2010, there wasn't much new content released in 2010 in the terms of new quests, instances, things-to-do. We raided ICC until the very thought of the voice of Sindragosa made us want to throw up something. And then we just waited. And waited. However, for the lack of content, there have been quite a few changes changes that I suspect will make veterans from vanilla, returning from a couple of years of absence to check out Cataclysm raise their eyebrows.

Apart from the nominations I can easily think of other candidates, such as the changes in the quest design, which began in Wrath with novelties such as vehicle questing and phasing.

Or take the changes to the UI, which have made the life of the first-time WoW player way easier and many addons obsolete.

However: the choice was pretty easy. There was one change to the game that made WoW of 2010 very different to what it had been in 2009.

The winner is: The Dungeon Finder Tool!

Motivation: Strictly speaking the Dungeon Finder it was introduced in the 3.3 patch of December 2009, but in 2010 it became an institution. Loved and hated – it changed the game, making instance runs easy accessible for everyone, guildied as unguilded. At the same time it became a threat against the existing social structures in WoW such as server communities and guilds. The horror-Pug stories flourished in the blogosphere. Everyone knew how bad it could be, and many of us thought that the one-night-stand character of the pug groups made them feel hollow, leaving a bad taste in the mouth. And yet we kept entering the lottery over and over again. After all it was convenient.

Best quest

Nominated: The Shadowmourne chain, Harrison Jones Uldum questline, Loken chain in Storm Peaks, Venomhide Raptor chain, The Drakuru questline, Battle of Lordaeron, Echo Isles/Reclaiming Gnomeregan, Start a Bar Fight – on the new ship down in Thousand Needles
The Cultist quests in the major cities, Sons of Hodir quest chain in StormPeaks, Crusader Bridenbrad, in Icecrown

For all the suggestions, the competition in this category wasn't exactly bleeding this year. Cataclysm is swamped with worthy candidates and picking the best one will be hard, if this award is still around next year. Quests such as Crusader Bridanbrad or the Loken chain had been out for so long that it hardly felt 2010 specific.

The Shadowmourne questline was a strong candidate; it gave guilds an interesting and challenging long-term project to work on, a true feat of strength. However there were only ever so few players in the game that experienced it first hand, and this pulled down the grade a bit.

So the end candidates boiled down to the pre-events of Cataclysm, with the retaking of Echo Isles/Gnomeregan respectively the cultist quests in the major cities.

The winner is: The retaking of Gnomeregan and Echo Isles!

Motivation: Admittedly there was a little lacking in the execution. Especially the end quest in the battle at Gnomeregan tended to bug out if someone moved to close to the entrance too early. That was a downer, as well as the fairly short length of it. But the fact remains that I had great fun either I was drilled as an army recruit or dancing with the trolls. It gave us few laughs and a nice gnome costume and a pre-taste of what was soon to come.

Ugliest tabard

Nominated: Tabard of the Lightbringer, “All, except Isle of Conquest”, Tabard of the Achiever, Kirin Tor, Wyrmrest (“I know it’s ineligible, but it’s really really ugly”), Loremaster’s Colors.

I don’t know what it is about tabards, but to be honest, just like one of the commenters, I find most of them more or less ugly. If I wear them, it’s always for a good utility reason. In dungeons, to get reputation. Or as in the case of the Argent Tournament tabard: to get a free teleport. I wish I could wear my guild tabard with pride. But I can’t. It’s ugly like everyone else’s.

However there was no doubt one among all those tabards that was just outstanding in its ugliness. I wasn’t aware of its existence before I got the suggestion in several nominations (it was the by far most nominated tabard.) And no wonder! I can’t blame the owners of it for not using it. I would hide it deep down in the darkest corners of the bank vault if I were in their place.

The winner is: Loremaster’s Colors!

Motivation: I think the guy who designed this tabard wanted to be clever, but for all the cleverness, you can’t come away from the fact that it looks plain horrible in combination with any armor you can think of in the game. And to be honest this is a bit of a shame considering the huge amount of effort the owners of it have gone through to get it.

As Ale put it in a comment:
“One works their booty off to complete all the quests and their reward is an ugly tabard with a giant yellow exclamation point. It is just so lame, fugly and a huge disappointment.”
And as if the ugliness wasn't enough, it might also have other consequences to wear it. I'm not sure if the following remark at Wowhead is entirely truthful, but it sure made me smile:

"I found myself unable to wear it as random strangers began offering me wagons of beaver colons in the (unrealistic) hopes that I would return their efforts with money and/or phat lewts."

Favourite non combat pet

Curious Wolvar Pup “Nothing beats a pet with a story”, Captured firefly,Argent Tournament Page, The phoenix, Moonkin Hatchling, Lil’XT, Perky Pug, Core hound Pup Deathy, Waurpetinger, Wind Rider cub, Spirit Darter Hatchling, Chuck, Pandaren Monk.

Rhii suggested Sen'Jin Fetish, from the Argent Tournament:

“I love the different masks this pet wears, and the jungle drums that play when you summon it. I also love that it's not all that common, despite being easily available from the tourney and BOE"
I was frankly a little overwhelmed by all those nominations. So many pets! And so many new and beautiful and clever ones, far more advanced and interesting than the relatively crude vanilla pets. (Sorry Snowshoe, I didn’t mean that, you’re still one of my favourites, OK?)

This could explain why Blizzard has been too busy to produce any new Wrath content over the year. The staff had all been re-assigned into the pet industry. No, just kidding. Probably the pet design doesn’t compete for the same resources, and I suspect it isn’t that time consuming anyway. But obviously it’s something that has climbed on their priority list, especially after Blizzard saw the success of their experiments in offering non combat pets for real money. There was definitely a gold mine waiting to be explored! The charity polish they put on the surface couldn’t hide it.

I must admit that I find some of them incredibly cute as well. Especially the Moonkin Hatchling is absolutely adorable. But cute or not, I was never a fan of the concept to buy pure game items for real money, so I couldn’t stomach making it my favourite non combat pet for the year.

The winner is: Core Hound pup!

Motivation: The Core Hound pup was released in December 2009, too late to be considered for an award that year. But I think it deserves an award. As TM put it: “Cute AND foils hackers”.

Either I bring him out or keep him in my bags, I know that my Core hound pup will bite the pesky hackers in their legs. How couldn’t you love such a creature?

There’s a lot of hacking going on out there – I got about ten e-mail attempts to steal my account just the last couple of weeks – and we have every reason to do what we can to protect ourselves and our guilds. And the pet that comes with it is just so adorable, that even if it was sold on a stand-alone basis, I would be tempted to temper with my principles not to buy game items for real money

The End
And that's it for tonight. Next up are the community awards.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Pink Pigtail Inn Awards of 2010 – The instances

Ladies and Gentlemen!

May I ask for your attention for a little while? I hope you've grabbed a drink, in case you haven't help yourself over at the bar; it's set on free for all tonight. This is a special occasion as you all know. Time has come to announce the winners of The Pink Pigtail Inn List of 2010.

It’s quite an extensive list, so I’ve decided to chop it into four parts. We’ll start off lightly with an appetizer, namely the instance categories.

Next up will be a hotch potch soup, which I’ve labelled “Things we saw in-game”, which contains miscellaneous WoW-related classes.

After this it’s time for the main course – the community. And finally - hopefully this week - I’ll proudly present the dessert, which I think is what a majority of you care most about anyway – the Blogosphere awards.

I called for nominations a couple of weeks ago, and I got a lot of comments, letters and suggestions posted on other blogs and I want to thank you all for the input. I may not have followed your advice (which actually would be rather undoable, since it’s pointing in all sorts of directions), but it has definitely given me inspiration and helped me to sort out my own thoughts.

The rules once again, in case someone missed it.
- Winners who have gotten it previous year are not eligible for the same category the following year.
- The intention is that the list if possible should reflect content that was released during or very close to 2010.
- Any content from Cataclysm including the Shattering patch will not be taken into consideration.

And now I think we’re ready for the appetizer! So let’s head back in time and remember the instances from 2010.

Ahem…. To be absolutely honest with you I must admit that there wasn’t much of a competition. There weren’t exactly a swarm of instances launched this year, when Blizzard still followed the Wrath concept: “You shall only raid in one instance at a time and you shall raid it so many times that you never ever want to see it again” rather than the TBC and Cataclysm concept: “We offer parallel raid instances to give you a choice and some variation of scenery.”

However: tradition is tradition, so let’s stick to it and announce the first category:

Best raid instance

Nominated: Icrecrown Citadel, Ulduar.

I wouldn't believe that there would be any competition in this category. I dont' think there is a single raider out there who would rank Ruby Sanctum as a better instance than ICC.

And since Ulduar won the category for 2009, it was basically disqualified from the start. Everyone didn't agree with this though. Sthenno argued that Ulduar was just so good that it deserves to break the rules. "ICC was fine, but calling it the best while Ulduar is still around seems like it might be illegal."

Shintar nominated ICC, while adding: "It was good for a while, but it was annoying and tedious for even longer".

The winner is: Icecrown Citadel!

Motivation: I almost gave in to the idea to give Ulduar the award a second time, but in the end it goes to ICC. After all, no one can deny that it was a well crafted instance with a lot of interesting mechanics, including the green dragon that gave healers a bit of variety to the normal staring on the raid health bars. The LK fight alone, which included several challenging phases and even a piece of cinematic - was good enough to motivate an award. There was nothing wrong about ICC per se. The fact that we didn't have anything else to raid for almost a year is an entirely different issue.

Least successful raid instance

Ruby Santcum; Naxxramas, ToC

It was pretty easy not to like Ruby Sanctum, that's for sure. Here are a sample from the comments:

"Odd tuning next to the already heavily nerfed ICC. Would have been better if released earlier.

"A lot of trash for loot no one needed."

"The timing of its release seemed off. It came when people were burned out on raiding and waiting on Cata."

"The least successful instances aren't actually those that people complain about, it's those that they don't even care to go into. There was only one such raid that fit that bill this year: the Ruby Sanctum. I think it's a bit of a shame actually because Halion wasn't a terrible boss. He just felt kind of out of place, both in terms of lore and in terms of difficulty."

The winner is: Ruby Sanctum!

I agree with what's been sad. I'll just add this final one, from Rhii:
“We didn't run this on my server. Nobody hardly ran it, guilds didn't run it. PUGs didn't run it. Nobody ran it. I wanted to run it, but if people stay away in droves, something's wrong.”
A boss that no one cares about doing can hardly be considered successful. It felt as if the effort Blizzard had put into that fight was half hearted. Their attention, as well as the attention of the players, was already turned towards Cataclysm.

Most longed for instance

Nominated: Ruby Sanctum, Cataclysm, Coliseum, Frost boss in Wintergrasp, Halls of Reflection/The ICC instances, Black Temple, Heroic Deadmines/Heroic SFK

There were more nominations in this category than I had anticipated. Not really putting much thought into it, I reckoned it was Ruby Sanctum, since it was the only content that had been released. I was wrong.

Toravon in VoA was launched in February, and I reckon some players waited his arrival with huge expectations. Personally I didn't to be honest. I never thought that the VoA was that much of fun. If anything I associate it to all sorts of PuG failures, including "ooops I'm saved" incidents, ninja looting and unreasonable gear score and "already have achievement" expectations. Yet another boss wouldn't change anything.

I agree that Halls of Reflection was an interesting and challenging instance that we had waited for a long time to get; at last a new addition to the 5-mans. But since it was launched in December 2009, the longing was already something in the past.

So what about Ruby Sanctum then? Well, the more I think, the more I realize that there probably weren't that many players who really, really longed for it. We knew it was nothing but a filler. Most people were just waiting for Cataclysm and couldn't be bothered anymore with Wrath at that point.

So I decided to listen to advice from the readers.

The winner is: Black Temple!

Motivation: This might be a bit of a cheat: the list is supposed to cover content from 2010. But you could as well read this category as something we longed for that we had left behind. This year's nostalgic trip. I will leave the word to Shintar, who gave the suggestion:
"I'm finding it hard to pick anything here because we spent all year longing for Cataclysm. I don't think anyone really longed for Ruby Sanctum to come out (and if they did, they were probably disappointed quite quickly). I suppose some of us were longing for the Ulduar days, but Ulduar already won this category last year. Personally I think I mostly longed for the Black Temple, remembering what it was like for raiding to truly hold my interest until the very end of an expansion."
The End
And that's all for today. We'll soon be back with the continuation of the PPI list of 2010. Cheers!

Friday, January 7, 2011

A view from the bottom of the learning curve

Two weeks away from WoW was all it took for me to tumble down all the way down the learning curve back to the sewer level, where I started four years ago.

This was obvious as I logged in last weekend after my holiday absence.

I stared in disbelief at the screen, getting more and more nauseous as the camera nervously flipped up and down. You were supposed to control this thing with your mouse, weren’t you?
Was something broken or was this how it worked? How was I supposed to move my toon? Had I ever even played this game at all?

So this was my character, Larísa. A mage apparently. Level 85, it said, whatever that could mean.

Catching up
Slowly I recalled what this was about. Oh yes. There had been this expansion coming right before my holidays. In the middle of packing and other preparations I had managed to press her up to end game level, but not much more than that.

And now I was back and within 72 hours our first 25 man raid was scheduled, and I needed not only to remember how to play WoW, but also to make Larísa raid ready. It wasn’t anyone else who had required me to be prepared to go in such a short time, but I wanted to. This would be the first 25 man raid since June last year, and you all know what it’s like to get back to school after the summer vacation. There’s something special in the air in the first raid of the season. I just didn’t want to miss it.

But where to start, what to do? I was lost, so lost. And also increasingly ill, not just because of the view of the screen, but because all those germs we escaped in India seem to have been assembling in Sweden to have a sneaky assault on me as soon as I came home.

It was a challenging task, but somehow I did it. Don’t ask me how though, because those first few days are a bit hazy in my memory, an equal mix of chain running heroics and chain running to the bathroom.

Enough to say: when Adrenaline stood at the top of Bastion of Twilight Tuesday night, ready to enter for the first time, I was there.

I was dressed up in mostly heroic gear and even a couple of epics thanks to a very wealthy and equally generous guildie. I had the reputation enchants I needed and I had even managed to level first aid to max, which was a bit of a pain, especially since I levelled my tailoring profession at the same time. (A tip to anyone in the same predicament – if the cloth is dirty expensive at your server, take a treasure finding potion that gives you extra loot and find a spot for aoe-farming. Even with a price of 200 g a pot, it pays off and it saved my day.)

Climbing the learning curve
Gearing up is one thing though, learning how to play is something completely different. You can be as raid ready as you like gear wise, but this doesn’t help much if you’ve lost the feeling for how to play WoW.

This has made me think of learning curves. I’m admittedly not the quickest of climbers, and I tend to start out horribly low as we’re learning new encounters. Eventually I will always “get it”, but not quite as fast as the quickest learners in our guild.

But if I think about this first week back in WoW, I don’t feel as if I’m just at the bottom of a learning curve I need to climb. It’s more as if I’ve fallen down into a dark pit hole, losing skills I believed I already mastered.

When you think of learning how to ride a bicycle, it’s a one-time-only. Once you’ve learned how to do it, it’s there. You won’t forget how you do it, either you practice or not. You can mount a bicycle 10 years later and you’ll still not fall.

Playing WoW is different. Apparently you can de-climb the curve and de-learn things you knew, leaving you with no choice but to start over again.

A headless chicken
Partly I figure it’s the result of the class changes. Mages have gotten a couple of new spells that need to be squeezed, not only into my action bars, but also into my mindset, habits and muscle memory. It’s not done overnight.

Another reason for my struggles is probably that the difficulty level has stepped up considerably since Wrath. Some of the heroic bosses feel more like raid bosses than anything else. This is basically something I welcome; it means that also non-raiders can get access to interesting and challenging content. So it’s not as if I’m asking for nerfs, not at all.

But the fact remains, more than once have I felt like a headless chicken – in heroics as well as in raids - and I can’t help feeling a bit let down by myself.

Why I can’t pull my gameplay together and climb the learning curves as quick and easily as my fellow guildies? What am I doing here, still crawling around in the sewer?

However, this isn’t going to be a post that ends in misery, despair and self-bashing. I refuse to give up! I’ve climbed hills like this before and damned me if I won’t be able to climb it again!
As a reminder I’ve changed my title from Merrymaker to The Patient. Even if I geared up in two days I can’t expect myself to re-learn my class with all the changes there have been to it in the same amount of time. All I can do is to keep going, spend some times at the dummies, read up, ask fellow mages for advice and then and practice, practice, practice, Eventually I’ll get it.

The juggling experience
If I have any doubts about it, I’ll just think back at what I did in India. I spent most of my days lazily drifting in the ocean or reading novels on the beach. But I had brought one project with me: a set of juggling balls. I had decided to once for all learn how to juggle, which was quite ambitious for someone who lacks any sense for ball handling whatsoever.

The balls came with a leaflet, where you were told you could learn three-ball juggling in seven steps. “Anyone can learn this within one hour”, assured the writer. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. For me it took one and a half week of daily practice before I got it. But that’s not the point.

The point is that I didn’t give up. And I didn’t care about the quizzing glares I got from other beach visitors as I publicly displayed my shortcomings in tossing as little as one or two balls.

I just kept going. Not for long periods, just ten minutes per hour, day after day. Sometimes I fell back on the learning curve, starting to fail at step five, which I previously had mastered. In those moments I went back a few steps and practiced more until I had them working properly, before taking it back to where I was.

I didn’t bash on myself, I didn’t ask why it took me hours and hours of juggle training when the leaflet said it would take just 60 minutes. I just did it anyway, my way, enjoying the learning process as such, not attempting to take shortcuts as I climbed the curve in my own pace.

I left India with a moment forever burned into my memory: the feeling of successfully doing three-ball juggling as the sun dived into the ocean at the peaceful beach in Goa. Twenty times in a row I cast the balls without dropping them once. I don’t think anyone noticed. But I’ll never forget how I felt inside.

And whenever I’ll find the view in the sewers at the bottom of the learning curve just too depressing, whenever I’ll start doubting that I can be a true asset to our raid team rather than a burden, I will think about my juggling experience.

If I could learn how to juggle, I can learn how to do anything.

Even how to play my mage properly in Cataclysm.