I’m not ashamed – I liked Dragon Age 2 (plenty of spoilers)

Posted May 22, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Dragon Age

Tags: , , , ,

The last couple of weeks have been crazy. I hung out at the Calgary Expo for one non-stop, action packed weekend (and got to meetup with the Calgary WoW crew – Vidyala, Voss, ChawaJen, Darthregis and Kelesti - some of which don’t play WoW anymore but whom I still look forward all year to seeing. Wish I didn’t live so far away.) Then I came home, worked a couple of 12 hour shifts then drove the 3 hours to the airport to catch a plane to visit my parents on the East Coast for a week.

Then when I came back, there was chaos. I swear I cannot come back from vacation in peace. Last time I was away, my then-coworker (and then-manager) spent two weeks trashing the store. I went straight to work from the airport to start cleaning up and making apology phone calls to customers.

This time. Well. The store was impeccable, but I landed into what felt like a CSI episode. (Actually, an almost identical case was apparently featured on CSI not long ago, but I don’t watch the show.) I only needed to make a statement to the police (I don’t know much about crime investigations, but from what I gather, I was some sort of witness.) but it was still shocking. In my line of work, you expect to see criminals. Mostly drug dealers. On a bad, bad day, you might face an armed robber. But a murder suspect? That threw me through the loop. My head spun for a few days. I live in a little happy bubble where murders happen only to people living risky lives in the drug or sex trade. Or on TV. (I was going to add “or to Americans” but according to rumours, the suspects and the victim are American. So maybe this stuff does just happen to our Southern neighbours.) Not among mainstream, non-drug, non-sex trading people.

Anyway, I turned to my favourite coping mechanism: escapism. The world in question: Thedas.

I started Dragon Age 2 months ago, but had only made it to Kirkwall before having to concentrate what little free time I have to WoW. But because we got somewhat of a break from the VP grind during 5.2 (and I refuse to do dailies because the horde on this server insist that I dedicate 90% of my dailies time to corpse runs), I figured that I might as well see for myself what all the hate is about.

And know what? I don’t hate DA2 at all. In fact, I really enjoyed it. I can see how some people find it to be a let down after DA:O (though putting it in the same class as the ME3 ending is totally exaggerating… And now I’ll get people saying that putting ME3’s ending in the same class as DA2 is also exaggerating, ha!) but I confess (that’s right, it’s confession day in this corner of the internet), I wasn’t a huge huge fan of DA:O.

Oh don’t get me wrong! I loved the Origins story, I loved my companions (though they often left me on my hunger, I wanted more, more companion goodness!), I loved Ferelden. In time, I even came to love my Warden. But the gameplay, for an obsessive completionist like me, was tedious and exhausting. I beat the game after 100+ of gameplay and I’m still plagued by flashbacks of how much I skipped.

You have to understand, then, that DA2, in its strengths and, even, in its weaknesses, was so liberating for me.

Hawke

I had an unusual problem with Hawke. It’s a personal thing, a mere coincidence, not a fault of the game, but amusing enough to share.

See, I made my Hawke a long time ago. I just picked the default Lady Hawke because she looked better than anything I could design myself.

Default Lady Hawke

Default Lady Hawke

Then I didn’t play for months.

In the meanwhile, I got a new coworker in real life.

When I went to play again, the horror dawned me…

My new coworker looks almost identical to Default Lady Hawke.

While I certainly like my coworker, it’s extremely awkward to be reminded of her every time I look at my video game character. Plus, any of the adoration I usually shower my video game characters with would be uber creepy.

I was far enough along in the game to not want to start over so I bought the Black Emporium for the mirror of transformation. But giving Hawke a makeover was kind of annoying (for some reason, you can’t modify specific traits on default Hawke, you have to pick another preset and work with that) so I gave up. My coworker went for a new hair cut and colour instead.

But otherwise, I was totally ok with Hawke. I played the Amell mage in Origins, so I was excited Hawke was her cousin (or second cousin or whatever, I’m not good with family titles). I liked how the game followed her life for 7 years (and I’m torn on how she doesn’t age or put on 10 pounds or anything. /third-of-life crisis) and how she slowly becomes a local hero without following the tradition recipe of “THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END AND ONLY I CAN SAVE IT!”

Her personality was interesting too, though I wonder if anyone ever plays their first Hawke as anything but sarcastic. I mean, you choices are: goody-goody (diplomatic), assface (aggressive) and entertaining. I think there were maybe a dozen times I picked something other than a joke? The best, though, is that the game kind of remembers your choices. While the mechanics setting Hawke’s tone aren’t secret, I sort of wonder if it’s more complex then that. In situations where I couldn’t bring myself to joke (usually around Hawke’s mother) and picked goody-goody choices, the game seemed to understand and Hawke started acting goody-goody in those circumstances without input from me. Maybe it was just an illusion, but whatever, I liked it. It made me very happy that the game “got” my Hawke. It’s always satisfying when you feel the game understands your characters.

The Combat

I’ll have squishy tomatoes thrown at me for this, but in Origins, I really, really disliked the combat. You have no idea. I enjoy strategy as much as the next person, but every time I opened that tactics window, all I could think of is “I WANT STORY NOW DAMMIT!!!”. In a short game, I’ll break my head over strategy (I did play The Golems of Amgarrak on the hardest level – except for the last boss who forced me to give up after like 6 hours of wiping – and loved it), but in a game that takes me over 100 hours to beat? Please! Give me some challenge to pace the story, but don’t have the normal mode make me cry.

Origin really only had like 10 spells too. They just each had 20 different names. Toward the end, I was getting very tired of sifting through my crowded spell bar, jammed packed with dozens of spells that all do the same thing.

So DA2’s “dumbed down” combat was sweet, sweet relief.

DA2 Bar: NOT CROWDED!

DA2 Bar: NOT CROWDED!

I didn’t open the tactics window at all!

I lied - I opened it once to take this screenshot.

I lied – I opened it once to take this screenshot.

My companions were a little stupid about standing in crap (seriously companion! I just moved you OUT of the purple, why are you running back into it?) but otherwise they took care of themselves pretty good. During fights, I’d often directly control Anders (I had him specced similarly to Hawke), I’d nudge Merrill and the rogues if I wanted them to do something specific and I ignored the warriors. I don’t even understand the warriors. Even so, very few fights gave me any challenge on normal mode. AND I LIKED IT.

Maybe next time I’ll scale up the difficulty for a more strategic game (and maybe learn how those confusing warriors work), but for a first time around, I was quite happy to not waste my time with pointlessly complicated combat.

And I was very happy with the spell/ability trees. Less toolbar invading, more passive abilities and upgrades. As it should be.

The Story

I’ll be fair. The story didn’t have the grandiose feel of Origins or Mass Effect. I admit that. But, surprisingly maybe, I liked it that way. After how tired I was after Origins, and how emotionally drained I was after Mass Effect, I’m okay with a game that lets me rest a little while giving me a story that I still care about.

It did seem to me that the writing wasn’t where it could be. There were lots of occasions where I wished I could go deeper into a character’s backstory, or a quest’s circumstances, or even Kirkwall’s existence. DA2’s setting and structure would have been perfect for such indulgences. There were a few times too where I winced, feeling that the dialogue didn’t quite fit. But “not where it could be” isn’t bad. The dialogue, the characters, the story, the lore, Kirkwall, were still interesting and engaging (to me, at least). It hit the target, just not, you know, the bullseye.

Act III was a little weird. I know I lose some of the story when I play games or read books, but I had been following everything very well up until then. Then in Act III, I kept wondering “why are we fighting these guys again?”, “why are these guys fighting each other?”, “wait, did these guys just change their mind?”. It does all make sense in the final battle (or almost), but still, “we’re all fucked because our already over-ambitious leader has an ancient trinket that makes her make us hate everyone” seems like a cheap excuse for some of the things that happen.

Now don’t get me wrong. I had a good laugh when I saw said trinket at the end. Someone who is really into figuring out plots would see it coming, but I was just going with the flow of the game and not overthinking (that’s the key to enjoying DA2, I think, not overthinking), so I totally had an “ah ha” moment before the final battle. It tied Act I and III together in a believable way (after ME3’s ending, “believable way” is something I’ve come to appreciate in stories), and let Act II serve as a distraction from what’s really happening to Meredith.

It works for me.

As a side note though, I must say that the very end of Act II was a little…um… Isabela came back with the relic and one of my options was to let the Arishok take her and his book and just leave. Just leave. After massacring half the city and committing regicide (killing the city viscount counts as regicide, right?), I could just let him go? What? As forgiving as I may be sometimes in games, this seemed a little over the top.

Also, unresolved mystery – the multiplying mages. The game is pretty clear about magic being genetic, and most likely recessive (given their genetics work kind of like ours). And while I’m sure Circles have soap-opera-like atmospheres, I doubt reproduction is something most mages are keen on. Not to mention how many mages get killed by demons, templars and playable characters before having a chance to perpetuate their bloodline. So how the heck are there so many mages? Where do they all come from?

The Companions

My favorite introduction to a character ever, in any story I’ve escaped into, was Anders in Awakenings. I decided at that moment he was going to be Hawke’s boyfriend when I got around to DA2.

He was a little hard to recognize (despite looking almost the same) in his second game, though. Such a shame. I do like my tormented guys in video games. (As a real life rescueholic, I’ve learned the hard way to stay away from lost little boys and save my attention for well-adjusted, terribly boring men, but, you know, all the more reason to indulge in messed up cute guys from make-belief worlds.) I like my tormented guys, but I hate losing my favorite characters. There were some hints of the old Anders (particularly when around Varric – those two play well off each other) but I would have preferred those hints to be more like… suggestions. Nothing too out line – I get it, he’s got a Mr NoFun stuck inside him – but (note that it’s been a long time since I’ve played Awakenings) it seemed to me that his original joking nature was a coping mechanism both to distract him from his loneliness and self loathing and to help him initiate quick, superficial but pleasant interactions with others. At the beginning of DA2, he’s still lonely and self loathing, and seems like he would appreciate a quick, superficial but pleasant interaction, so his old coping mechanisms could have still been used. His down-spiral into panic and obsession would have probably been more obvious too, had his personality really changed throughout of the game, instead of just going from paranoid to more paranoid.

I enjoyed the romance (and could write many fanfictions about the crate scene, with Hawke standing behind him, her hand wrapped firmly around the hilt of her dagger), but the transition from “I can’t do this” to “I’ve been waking up at night aching for you for three years” went waaay too fast for me. Was a tad creepy too. Is it just me? I mean, it’s great he has the hots for Hawke, but does he have to be so…forthcoming? Going a liiiiitle bit slower and perhaps emphasizing more on those deliciously dramatic conflicting feelings he has around Hawke (and sounding less like a pervert) would have been more satisfying. I do hear Fenris puts up more of a chase. Hmm. That playthough will be a goody.

As a side note, before I played DA2 (or Origins, for that matter), I kept hearing how offended people (and by people, we probably mean “straight guys with ego problems”) were by Anders’ gay advances. I kind of scratch my head. Getting hit on by guys you aren’t attracted to is something that happens, like, daily, in the real world when you’re a girl. Are guy gamers really unable to put up with a fictional version of that happening to them? (I’m not a hardcore feminist by any stretch of the imagination, but sometimes I wonder how many guys would be able to survive an hour of a woman’s life.) If the flirting itself is similar to the flirting (if you can call it that) in the actual romance, it’s not the suavest move ever made by a character, but it’s not the end of the world. (Also, while I was really amused by this comic, the complaints about getting Rivalty points if you reject Anders are silly. I pissed Merrill and Aveline off constantly and still reached 100% friendship with them long before the end of the game.)

Wait! I have other companions, right?

I really liked how connected to the story and to the world most of them (and by most of them, I mean Aveline, Isabela and Varric) were. While on a personal level, I didn’t feel any connection to Aveline, I felt that having a companion in the city guard (who doesn’t give up her job to follow Hawke the way companions do in other games I’ve played) did add a lot to Hawke’s experience as a meddling resident of Kirkwall.

The ME2-style loyalty quests were excellent. I can see that formula getting really old really fast, but for two games, it’s perfect. Fenris’ and Merrill’s in particular left me thinking “holy crap, that was awesome”. The only complaint I can have about companion presence is that I want more. More. MORE MORE MORE MORE. I’m sure it’s possible to have too many character-based cutscenes, but it would take a lot of cutscenes for that to happen. Especially if those cutscenes were relevant to plot. (Or better yet, there should be a DLC, kind of like Citadel but that doesn’t unlock everything at once, that adds optional companion indulgence. I understand that not everyone is really into characters, but me, I would pay extra to have more juicy content.)

I also liked how the companions interacted with each other and would have enjoyed seeing more of that. I was very happy for Fenris and Isabela finding comfort in each other (though they deny anything deep). If not for Varric’s ability to bring out the best in Anders during long walks, I probably would have ended up with an extra dead mage (I don’t care that my Hawke loves him and that he’s my best dps AND healer, I can only put up with so much complaining!).

There’s something charming about watching how these characters you come to feel strongly (good or bad) about react to, or behave with other characters you feel strongly about. It’s a side of the story that gets touched in Bioware games (my favorite memory of SW:TOR is fueling the fire as all my companions bitched about each other! And Mass Effect fans speak with delight on how they walked in on Tali and Garrus. Not that I would approve if that happened to me. Sexy Garrus belongs to MY SHEPARD.) but that could be used so much more. The concept of party banter is excellent, but in Dragon Age 2, it eventually broke down to various ways Anders rambles about mages and Fenris tells him to eff off. Or maybe that’s just the game telling me I should stop using Anders and Fenris in my party for every quest.

As for not being able to customize your companions’ gear, well, I was sad at first too. I’m obsessive when it comes to gearing my characters. I probably put more effort into that than into any other aspect of the game. In the end, though, it was a blessing. Even with just 5-6 customizable slots, I spent hours sorting out gear. Hours. I didn’t even reach the required 50 gold by the end of Act I because I kept upgrading my characters’ gear in shops. I think I had like 6 gold left or something. Adding shirts, hats, boots and gloves would have killed me!

So, I, for one, am totally ok with non-customizable gear for companions. It might be nice to change their appearance a little bit, but I’d rather that be done through cosmetic-only means because I don’t think my sanity could handle more gear slots.

The World

So much hate on the small, recycled dungeons!

I can definitely empathize with that and recognize how it takes away from game epicness.

But, me, I’m not a fan of dungeons. So small dungeons were a plus, and I didn’t mind the recycling. Recycling even made it faster for me to get through and out of dungeons, so it may have even been a good thing.

I was fine with the small world as well. I thought that having a story about a city and some of its residents was a refreshing change from the stale “hero has newbie zone, then journeys as far away as possible in search of a distant uber baddy“. So I enjoyed going to these familiar places and have different things happen there. It’s not for everyone, but it worked for me.

It's small world after all. (Yes, I know this screenshot is exaggerating.)

It’s small world after all. (Yes, I know this screenshot is exaggerating.)

And onto Dragon Age 3: Inquisition

I think this may be the first time I’m genuinely excited about an unreleased game.

The bits of news sound really good so far. And it seems that not many Dragon Age fans agree with me, but I felt DA2 (and its ending) really set the stage for a fantastic tale in Inquisition. We have a flurry of dear former companions to weave the games together, we have a deep rooted, complex social issue that just exploded, there’s hints of an exciting mysterious power behind our two favorite heroes disappearing and there has been a lot of observing of fan reactions on Bioware’s part. How can this not be amazing?

If I compare Mass Effect to Dragon Age on a personal level, Mass Effect is much closer to my heart than Dragon Age. But what made the trilogy so wonderful to me is also what will probably ruin every future game set in that universe. The heart and soul of Mass Effect was Shepard and her relationship with her crew. The world without Shepard is pretty boring. The world before Shepard was kind of boring (humans had only recently taken a spot in the galaxy) and the world after Shepard is broken, not matter what you choose. It would take a miracle to pull off another earthshattering (to me) game in the Mass Effect universe.

But Dragon Age! Using a different main character for each story, exploring corners of the gigantic Thedas at a time, leaving threads hanging and stones unturned at the end of each game and having characters interesting and diverse enough to ensure cameos to make the world feel homey when starting a new chapter… The recipe gets you attached to the world rather than to just one character, a big, big world that could take 6, 8, 10 games before getting stale. I fully expect the game creators to give up before the possibilities run dry.

Hopefully, too, there was a purpose to ME3’s ending breaking my heart and to the odd hate DA2 received: to make it clear that us story game fans like our stories. And our details. And our ethical dilemmas. And our characters. And our characters’ companions. A lot.

I so can’t wait for Dragon Age 3!

This Happens when I Play Mass Effect DLC

Posted April 18, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Mass Effect

Tags: , , ,

I didn’t want to tell my coworkers that the reason I was falling asleep everywhere earlier this week was because I had been up all night playing Mass Effect: Citadel.

Not up all night playing video games – that happens all the time. No one thinks anything of it anymore. Playing Mass Effect, though, that’s different. I didn’t want to say anything because they just wouldn’t understand.

I didn’t plan on getting Citadel. When I finished the game, I moped a bit and was eventually distracted. I wouldn’t say I was really done with Mass Effect but I was done with other people’s (including Bioware’s) Mass Effect. “Best seats in the house” is when headcannon takes over the rest just fades away.

I was finally, you know, “getting over it”. I wasn’t avoiding Mass Effect DLC to make a foolish nerdrage stand. At this point I’m mostly sad for Bioware because they came so close to making something perfect only to miss the bullseye at the worst possible time.

Rather I was avoiding DLC because I didn’t want to pick at my post-Mass Effect scab.

How I broke

One day I typed “mass effect citadel” into a search field on Youtube. I swear I only watched a video for a second!

Well.

The first time.

The second video I watched a little longer. The third video I watched big chunks of.

Eventually I figured I might as well act before I spoil everything for myself. I ripped that scab right off and downloaded Citadel. And now I bleed all over this blog post.

Dear person who’s never played Mass Effect

Some time back a guy “friend” was sitting in my living room and had the balls (or outright stupidity) to say “people were just mad at the Mass Effect ending was because it wasn’t happy“.

Hence the quotation marks around friend.

Over the years I’ve learned some restraint. So he didn’t find himself skyrocketed from my balcony. But I never forgave the ignorance (he has never played Mass Effect, nor has ever even read anything about the game), the callousness (he knows how emotionally involved I am in the Mass Effect story) and the lack of understanding in that comment.

Yes, I’m that pissed off over a comment about a video game. Oh, and it gets better. I can rant for a long, long time.

I’m not going to hide that the lack of the possibility of a traditional happy ending does come up in conversation at times (there’s even a mod!), but it’s so much more complex than that. And going straight to “u mad at no happy ending bro” is an insult to any disappointed fan of the series.

You know, the default ending isn’t even really sad.

The original ending went kind of like: you fight boring mobs, you fight boring mobs, you fight boring mobs, there’s some conversation, there’s some weird conversation, then some explosions set to music, then the end. And you’re sitting there thinking “Okay… Soooo… Did I win?

The Extended Cut was a little better. You can see that you did win (unless you refuse, in which case you help people 50 000 years from now win), but you’re still in the dark about what winning means. And all the puzzle pieces you spent hours and hours finding and trying to fit together: clues about the Reapers, about Cerberus, about the Illusive Man, about other galaxy mysteries. You never get a snapshot of the finished puzzle. Actually, you never even get a finished puzzle. You sit there watching the credits with stray puzzle pieces in your hands, a blank stare on your face and a sick feeling in your stomach, saddened over never learning where these pieces go.

Next, on Life and Death

Shepard living and dying comes up a lot. Trolls (I figure) post “people are just mad that Shepard dies“. Destroy players call out “My Shep didn’t die!

In my heart, neither is really true. Ok, so you see your Shepard disintegrating and end up with a plaque on your ship. That’s not what death is. Maybe it’s part of what death is, but it’s not all death is. Death is the people who love you grieving and moving on without you. Death is someone else picking up your torch and continuing where you left off. That never happens, so, to me, it never felt like death.

As for living. Living! You get, what, a gasp and no plaque on your wall? That’s not living! Living is carrying on with the injuries that don’t heal, it’s rebuilding, it’s having a place in the world. A gasp and no plaque is nothing of that.

As far as I can tell, in the game, Shepard doesn’t really live or die. The official story ends before that.

Of course, you can look at it from another angle (and this is one of the few not too bad things about the ending). Mass Effect forces you, the player, to build a certain relationship with your Shepard. Some people play Shepard as badass versions of themselves, some play Shepards in honour of real life people who’ve touched them, some people just want to blow shit up.

Me, I played Shepard as my imaginary BFF. Mass Effect came to me at a time in my life where I had been forced into a situation that I wasn’t prepared or qualified (and, well, willing) to handle. Not of galaxy-saving-in-face-of-hopeless-odds proportions, but still. I found a lot of comfort and (imaginary) complicity in shooting things, shopping for weapons (and miniature ships) and mouthing off to idiots with Shepard as we coped with what life handed us.

Had I played Shepard as myself in a science fiction world, she (I? we?) would have died. When the game is over you leave the world. The world is still there but you’re not because the game is over and you’ve moved onto another game, another pretend life. But Shepard was my imaginary friend and imaginary friends live with you a long time.

Magic Space Kid’s Legacy

After a year, the icky feeling that stuck to me wasn’t about crew reunions, wasn’t about unfinished stories, wasn’t about Shepards stuck in limbo (but know that I can get myself worked up over those things if I try hard enough!). What makes me block out the real Bioware ending, as a story and world lover who lets her imagination run wild, is, no matter what you do, Mass Effect’s official post-ending legacy sucks.

What resonated with me about the Mass Effect world was how plausible it all was. I could totally picture the galaxy like that 150 years from now. But then, a couple hundred hours into playing around in this fairly realistic science fiction world, everything gets all new agey weird.

And after all is said and done, you’re left with 4 options to work with:

1)This cycle ends so any kind of post-game imagining has to be about the world 50 000 years from now, which we know very little about and thus don’t care.
2)You end up with an entire galaxy (universe?) of cyborgs, which is really not fun to build personal stories with.
3)You end up with a world that has a Reaper-god Shepard, which is also not fun to work with.
4)The tons of hours you spent doing diplomatic (and match making!) crap go to waste when you kill half the people you spent huge chucks of the game coercing.

Srsly. What the heck am I supposed to do with that?

My Headcannon

So. My kind-yet-feisty Shepard (for whom death really doesn’t fit) is badly injured, never recovers and is forced into a Council position she hates. Her and Garrus pursue their bizarre cross-species relationship and adopt cute little krogan orphans. Garrus is a surprisingly good stay-at-home dad. Kaidan gets the Normandy, mostly as a Spectre vessel. Everyone else goes on with their usual occupations. My own characters are weaved in, but that’s personal so you’ll never find out.

Citadel

I played Citadel as if it was happening after the ending.

At first I felt a little guilty and justified myself by saying that I spent 15$ on this DLC and can play it in any mindset I want.

As the DLC goes on, though, it almost feels like that’s how you’re supposed to play. If you replace every “we’re at war” with “we were at war“, it actually works really, really well. Some of the scenes – Vega’s N7 tattoo, Garrus’ ballroom dancing recital, fundraising for Salarian space cancer research – make a lot more sense if you think of them as happening after the war.

So yeah, it’s after the war, we’ve moved all the gross bodies out of the Citadel, we’re going around the Galaxy rebuilding and getting rid of whatever the Reapers left behind, the Normandy needs a tune up and Anderson (who survived being shot, because, really, I’m not too sure he got shot in the first place) is all “I’m not leaving Earth, go hang out at my place in the Citadel“.

The timeline is after Shepard has recovered enough to help in the Galactic Clean Up Effort and before her being dumped against her will into Udina’s dirty Council chair.

And then… It felt like when I was a kid. On the last day of the school year, we were given candy, we played games and teachers slacked off in enforcing the rules. Citadel was like that last day of school. The “rules” didn’t matter, it was just celebrating, reminiscing and gorging myself with sweet, sweet candy.

I’d followed the blurbs from different Bioware employees who were involved in creating and marketing Mass Effect on the Bioware Blog. (You should check it out! Tends to be forcefully positive because of, you know, PR and stuff, but still very interesting.) Playing Citadel was like experiencing those blurbs. I kept imagining the writers sitting around a table tossing around their favorite jokes and game references and just laughing and laughing. I felt connected to the game like I always do, but I also felt connected to everyone who’d loved Mass Effect over the years.

By the way, the references to Multiplayer throughout the Strip were brilliant. I spent so much time listening to the pair discussing bad pugs! It was the first time I felt like Multiplayer was actually part of the story and not just a ploy to keep people playing the game longer.

Critique of Citadel?

Um. My first reaction to Shepard’s new apartment was “Wow, that’s a lot of wasted space.Tiny house fan knee jerk reaction, sorry. I would have liked a bit more customization available too (which is hilarious because normally I don’t care about customizing anything - I’ve never even transmogged in WoW! Mass Effect is just special.), but I could understand how there’s no point in adding tons of extra items that’ll only be seen for a few hours.

I love how the plot dragged me through the archives. Perfect idea for a final DLC! I would have liked more lore, though, and lore that I didn’t already know about. I would have loved to stumble across some ancient, ancient story. But I’m splititng hairs here. I loved the archives. I’d even pay for a DLC that consists of nothing but archival exploration. (In case you were wondering, the character that I’ve always related most to is Liara. She’s like the video game me, only with a gentler voice and fancy biotic powers.)

Found in the Archives. Unsure of purpose. Nothing happens if you shoot it.

Found in the Archives. Unsure of purpose. Nothing happens if you shoot it.

And Legion. Why no Legion? Mordin and Thane got a nod (I cried like a baby during Mordin’s!), but Legion… It’s like he never even existed. (Ashley didn’t get anything either, but since she’s mentioned a lot during ME3, I was fine with it.) I even checked all the arcade scores for “Infiltrait0rN7″ and nothing.

And now I’m hooked on the Arena

When I heard the combat simulation, I thought “Why would I want that when there’s plenty of actual combat to go around?

Then I tried it.

Damn.

It’s all the fun of Multiplayer without the stress of playing with strangers. I enjoyed all the mini games in Citadel (again, hilarious because I normally just ignore mini games) but the Arena, in all its simplicity, was so much fun.

When I reached the end, I let the tears flow at Shepard’s “The best” line and thanked the game and its creators for giving me such a good run.

Then I hit “load” and ran back to the Arena.

masseffectgroupphoto

The best.

Holy Paladin Notes for Throne of Thunder: Tortos

Posted April 10, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , , , , ,

So. I’ve had the chance to see Throne of the Thunder a few more times since part 1. I started writing part 2, but got as far as Tortos before my blogging juice ran out. After sitting for 3 days on a Tortos write up, I figured I might as well post it. I can do the next fights, well, if I ever get a day off work or something.

(Also realized that April 7 was my fourth bloggiversary! 4 years since I wrote my first post here. It feels just like yesterday, yet like an eternity at the same time. So much has happened since then, so much, so fast! A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who’s ever read this little corner of the internet, linked to my posts, commented, offered me advice, RTed me on Twitter, hung out with me, invited me to their blog or podscast, got drunk with me or put up with me in any way. And a special cheers to all the guildies and friends over the years who’ve been such good sports about being featured as characters on this blog. You guys are the best – whether it was by or against your will. Here’s to 4 more years of being big grown up kids.)

Tortos

Icy Veins overall strat: http://www.icy-veins.com/tortos-detailed-strategy-wow

Predominate damage type: Physical (Though the raid will smacked by Nature damage from Rockfall)

Suggested Spec and Glyphs: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#l!^N|cnr

Track on your frames: None!

CD timings:
Devotion Aura – If you use it right after the first Quake Stomp, you can probably fit it in again near the end.
Guardian of Ancient Kings – Might be able to fit in twice if you use it right away. You’ll definitely want it off CD for the end.
Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath – You can use them on CD, or right before (or after) a Quake Stomp.
Divine Shield/Hand of Protection – Can be used to evade the stun from Quake Stomp. Hand of Protection can be used on a co-healer while you have Forbearance. Nice for 10s groups who 2-heal.
Divine Protection – Can be use for Quake Stomp or in combination with Hand of Sacrifice on the tanks, if Glyphed. If not Glyphed, use after Quake Stomps.

Move if: You are standing in swirly circles (Rockfall) or a spinning turtle is heading toward you.

Positioning: Kinda spread out. You’ll be moving and dodging most of the fight.

Discussion:

Quake Stomp (physical damage) happens about every 50 seconds. Before Quake Stomp, Rockfall will hit about once every 10 seconds, after Quake Stomp, it’ll be twice per second for 8 seconds, hence all the post-Quake Stomp cooldown suggestions. Toward the very end of the fight, Tortos kind of goes nuts with his little turtles so you’ll like to have some CDs available for that.

For glyphs, I opted for Glyph of Divine Protection to use during Quake Stomp and to help with Hand of Sacrifice. If you’d prefer to use Divine Protection to ease Rockfall’s Nature damage, you can pick another favorite Glyph.

Talentwise, Pursuit of Justice seems the most logical speed increase since you’re constantly running short distances. I haven’t actually tried Burden of Guilt, but I’m told that it can help slow the spinning turtles. I prefer Eternal Flame for level 45, but if you always use Light of Dawn on this fight, you could consider Sacred Shield. Clemency is nice for extra Hands of Protection, though Unbreakable Spirit works well too for more selfish healers (like me). Since there is constant damage throughout the fight, I’d go with Divine Purpose. And, Holy Prism is helpful since most of the raid will be spread out (though on 25 Light’s Hammer still does pretty good healing when used on the melee).

Happy turtle hunting!

This Guild has No Tabard! (Or, I couldn’t think of a title)

Posted March 27, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Guild thoughts, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , ,

I keep writing these posts in my head but promise myself I’ll post them once I post all the other things I want to write about. Then I go do something like valor cap. By then I’m out of time.

It’s been, what, six weeks now since I joined Cadenza? Two of those weeks (which happened to be the two first weeks of patch 5.2 – worst timing ever but beggars can’t be choosers) I couldn’t raid due to visiting family, and since I hadn’t seen family in almost two years, putting family first was the obvious choice.

This guild has no tabard!

This guild has no tabard!

On a tangent, having families, especially moms, around is both awesome and exhausting! She kept doing my dishes, laughed at all my jokes and helped me cook. Having another person in the house, though, was a lot harder on me than I expected. I have no idea how some (most?) people live their entire LIVES with other people! By the end of the visit, I was falling asleep everywhere and couldn’t talk coherently. Took me two 13-hour sleeps to recover!

But anyway, this platform is more for WoW talk than for analyzing my sleeping habits.

So I joined Cadenza six weeks ago. The way it happened was kind of surreal. I was on Twitter QQing about how I wasn’t getting enough raid time with Conquest and how I was mockingly looking for a guild that lets me raid. (My actual plans were to wait until after my mom’s visit, reassess the situation with Conquest and shop for a new home if it hadn’t improved.) And, well, sometimes complaining is an effective way to a solve a problem. I got a DM from Theck (yes, Theck) who let me know that his guild had recently lost of couple of healers to real life.

Now I knew of Cadenza. After Occasional Excellence disintegrated, I really wanted to find another (alliance) progressive 25 guild with a two nights/week schedule. So I had checked out the guilds of that demographic. All, like, 4 of them.

During my post-OE searching, I didn’t think I could make Cadenza’s schedule (they raid Fri-Sat – Saturdays are ok, we close early that day, but I didn’t think I could take Friday nights off work). Plus, I figured the break I was forced to take from raiding (due vacation then to all hell breaking loose at work) would have set me too far back on progression (which was probably true). And (because scheduling and being behind on progression aren’t enough), they were a step up from OE, and while I performed ok in OE, I was far from being one of their stars.

Then flash forward to the DM from Theck. By then, work had settled down. I could think of a way to tweek the schedule to give me Friday nights off. I was decently progressed. I wasn’t sure if I had the talent to make the cut, but you know what? If you spend your life limiting yourself by saying “I can’t do this“, “I’m not good enough for this“, “My health/natural abilities/etc aren’t up to par” without even trying, you end up becoming on of those sad middle aged people who amount to nothing and pass their slow, agonizing days posting tacky “motivational” messages on Facebook.

I wanted to raid, I wanted to play with this guild and I really don’t want to post cheesey crap on Facebook for the rest of my life. So I took a deep breath and transferred to Tichondrius.

Six weeks later, I haven’t passed my trial but they haven’t told me to leave and never come back either.

And the raids?

The raids, they are freaking amazing.

I was expecting a guild similar to OE. After all, similar schedule, similar progressiveness, similar demographic of players.

But no. Not similar to OE at all. I like both (as long as I’m treated fairly and the raids are good, I’m usually happy, I guess), but while OE was extremely structured, disciplined and followed every decent guild-leading advice in the book, Cadenza’s raiding environment goes against anything you’d expect from a guild with so much progression in so little time. There are no forums to discuss in, the loot system is “whisper the raid leader if you want anything” (extremely efficient, only downside, really, is that often people try to out-generous each other and all the excess passing wastes time), there are no dedicated breaks (if you need time, you just ask and go) and because we raid weekends, raid end time is just a suggestion. They don’t even have a tabard! (I suppose they never stooped so low as to spam “we have guild bank and tabard!” in trade/general to recruit back in the day.)

But it works.

I was curious as to how a high stress all the time ultra perfectionist freak like me would react to that kind of environment. So far, it’s been almost therapeutic. Since I work a fast-paced, intense job where every detail matters, the simplicity of the guild structure is a breath of fresh air.

Oh and we killed so many bosses! So many bosses! It was so exciting.

It’s funny how it happens. Right when I had decided I was satisfied with Conquest-level middle of road progression, I suddenly get to the opportunity to raid at an even higher level. It’s not what I expected to happen, but I’ll take it. I’ll definitely take it!

And the Insecure Nervewreck?

In case you are wondering, I’m still uber shy. I thought I had gotten over it – after all when I went back to Conquest, I felt at home almost immediately. Apparently it was just the familiarity of Conquest.

My first few raids with Cadenza, I took a lot of deep breaths and fought the urge to run away. I missed Conquest (as much as I had complained about the healing environment!), I missed OE (which, of course, doesn’t exist anymore so there’s no going back there), I questioned my whole raider identity. Who was I, I thought to myself, to believe that I had what it takes to join a group of strangers who play better than me? Silly, silly pretentious girl, I mocked myself.

The team was kind to me. I was briefed on raid strats, on how to ask for loot and on raid customs. I was offered food and flasks. Anything I would logically need, they gave to me right away. Yet, what I was more urgently stressing about was not something I was willing admit. What was eating a big nasty hole in my belly… was…well…heh… It was not knowing what to say when I entered healer chat. Should I say hi? Should I say thank you? Should I just say nothing? Yes, people. That is how my pathetic mind works.

If you think that’s bad, you should have heard the discussion in my head when I had to remind my raid leader that I would be taking two weeks off. There’s no signout forum. Should I just whisper him? Which of his toons should I whisper him on? What if he’s busy? Should I say something on Vent instead? It took me about a week to decide to just send him an in-game mail on his main raiding character.

Yep. I may have grown as a person and has a player, but the insecure nervewreck from nearly four years ago has not grown at all.

And now?

I mentioned earlier that I haven’t passed my trial yet. My fears that I would make more mistakes and learn slower than every one else? They ended up being founded. I think I keep up healing-wise, but on actual execution I’m clearly behind the curve.

All those slow people I’ve ever rolled my eyes at or lost patience with? Karma came around and suddenly I feel like I’m one of those people.

I haven’t been kicked yet though, and until they kick me, I’ll keep showing up for raid.

I hear the word “awareness” a lot. It’s rarely awareness (in the early raids, it was sometimes – at first I physically and mentally couldn’t handle 4-6 hours of concentrating after a tough day at work, but practice makes perfect and last raid I managed almost 6 hours before reaching the end of my focus). If only it were so easy to fix as turning off the TV or music, or not getting drunk during raids. (I raid in complete silence because I know concentration is a problem for me. And while I love to drink during raids, I’ve avoided fueling my raids with alcohol since joining Cadenza.) No, it’s not usually awareness. Usually, I know I’m getting hit. I also almost always know how I died. (I always use my combat log.) It’s the reaction time and dexterity that I’m lacking. Which I suppose I could improve by doing a lot of BGs. Yet the only way I could really find time for BGs is either to ignore VP (bad) or quit my job (badder).

I’m at peace though. At this point, I’ve become attached to my guildies. I really enjoy the raids. Every now and again, I even type something in /raid or /g! I had a long chat with the other holy paladin in the guild and got all excited about making a friend. Even more, Logan, Conquest bro and of Leetsauced fame, joined me around my third week, which really helped me relax during raids. It’s been wonderful having a friend going through the trenches with me, someone to exchange triumphs/frustrations/remarks with.

If they do eventually tell me that I’m just not on par, I’ll be sad to leave, but I’ll be grateful for the experience. While OE’s raids taught me to wring out all the healing my paladin can handle, Cadenza’s raids are teaching me focus and precise execution. And I’m sure having a lot of fun, which, in video games, is really what matters.

A Type Out of my Notes for the First Part of Throne of Thunder

Posted March 27, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , , , ,

Today on Twitter, ‘mogging artist (and holy paladin!) Mia (from Mogalicious Mia) asked me whether I’d be writing about holy paladining one’s way through Throne of Thunder.

I’m always up for a challenge so I said “sure, why not!

Obviously there’s a reason I should not be writing tips to Throne bosses. Notably that I missed the first two weeks of patch 5.2 due to my mom visiting (as guilty as I felt for not raiding, I would have felt even guiltier about ignoring my mother whom I hadn’t seen in two years) and that by the time I was ready to go again, my guild was just wizzing through most of the fights, with me not knowing too much what was going on. I haven’t even seen Jin’Rokh on normal. I can write all about wiping on heroic (my raid did eventually get him down, but it was while I was busy performing my bench duties) or winging it on LFR, but normal mode is all educated guessing for me.

Still want to read my notes?

If you haven’t left yet, here’s a nice and tidy (IMO) version of my raid notebook scribblings for the first three bosses. If nobody throws icky tomatoes at me, maybe I’ll do write ups for the other Throne sets as well.

Jin’Rokh

Icy Veins overall strat: http://www.icy-veins.com/jin-rokh-the-breaker-detailed-strategy-wow

Predominate damage type: Magic (Nature)

Suggested Spec and Glyphs: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#lP]|Inr

Track on your frames: Static Wound (optional)

CD timings:
Devotion Aura – Half the pallies in the raid can chain it during Lightning Storms 1 and 3, the other half can do #2.
Guardian of Ancient Kings – Can use twice if your raid is really bad outside of Lightning Storm. If the only time you really take damage is during Lightning Storm, then you can use it once, your choice of Storm. (Depending on your timing, you may be able to use it right after the first Thundering Throw then during Lightning Storm #3)
Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath – I popped one shortly after the pull and the other after the first Thundering Throw, then as they came up. Alternatively, you can use them when your raid takes spiky damage, notably during Lightning Storm.
Divine Shield – (Heroic mode only) Consider bubbling halfway through a Lightning Storm so you stop moving and cast some yummy heals. Pairs well with Guardian. If you’re specced into Unbreakable Spirit, you may be able to squeeze this in on Storms 1 and 3.
Divine Protection – (Heroic mode only) With my weak gear, I found this was the only way I could survive dispelling Ionization on myself. (Sometimes I’d die anyway – Ionization sometimes ticks twice when dispelled, not sure why.) When there’s no Ionization coming up, this is a good one to use on cooldown.

Move if: You are targeted by Focused Lightning, someone is dragging a Focused Lightning through you (I died to this a lot and felt very stupid), you need to dispel Ionization (heroic mode only) off yourself, Lightning Storm is about to start.

Positioning: Grouped up on the left side of the pool (if dropping Focused Lightning on the left). Lightning Storm is probably grouped up on normal (not sure!) and more spread out on Heroic (easier to dodge lightning balls).

Discussion: I went with what I would call my “default” glyph set. Talent wise, I hesitated between Speed of Light and Pursuit of Justice, but in the end I found that occasions where I had to run were far enough apart that I did fine with Speed of Light. You don’t really need a speed buff anyway, but it does help if you’re distracted and need to prevent an oopsie in a hurry. Next relevant tier, I went with Eternal Flame because I almost always go with Eternal Flame. I suppose you could take Sacred Shield if it’s more your style. Next tier gets interesting. I did my attempts with Hand of Purity for Static Wound, but when I forgot to cast it I noticed zero difference. That said, if your tanks are going squish, definitely track Static Wound and use Hand of Purity. Otherwise, reduced cooldowns, especially for Divine Protection are very nice. Next tier, I’ve seen Holy Avenger recommended, and I would agree if your team is having trouble surviving Lightning Storm. Personally, since you can only really used it on Lightning Storms 1 and 3, I wasn’t willing to give up bonus Eternal Flames from Divine Purpose. (Next time I do heroic Jin’Rokh, though, I will try Holy Avenger.) And finally, I’ve only really tried Light’s Hammer. Since everyone should be grouped up during Fludity phases (and on normal mode, I imagine Lightning Storms are grouped) it is the logical choice.

Horridon

Icy Veins overall strat: http://www.icy-veins.com/horridon-detailed-strategy-wow

Predominate damage type: Physical (tanks), Physical (raid, less progressive teams), Magic (raid, more progressive teams)

Suggested Spec and Glyphs: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#lTN|cnr

Track on your frames: Triple Puncture. (Also, if Magic/Disease debuffs and Stone Gaze if they don’t show up by default – these are to be dispelled, dispelled, dispelled!)

CD timings:
Devotion Aura – Can probably squeeze it in 2-3 times. All troll phases deal significant magic damage, so use it wherever your team seems to be struggling.
Guardian of Ancient Kings – Can usually use twice. Depending on how your team takes damage, maybe use it during troll phase 1, then near the end. Adapt as needed.
Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath – Might as well use on cooldown.
Divine Shield – Use when you want to hide a screw up.
Divine Protection – Can probably fit it in once or twice per troll phase. Use whenever big damage goes out, or (only if Glyphed) when Hand of Sacrifice is going on the tanks.
Hand of Sacrifice – Sexy for tank damage. Can be especially helpful if cast right before Triple Puncture if the tank has a lot of stacks. (Use Glyphed Divine Protection on yourself.)
Hand of Protection – Can help non-pally tanks remove Triple Puncture while Horridon is stunned. Warn your tank if you plan to use this.

Move if: You are standing in Sand Traps, in Living Poison, near Frozen Orbs (they weren’t cast by your mage), near a Lightning Nova Totem, in front or behind Horridon, you are targeted by Charge. In other words, move if you are standing in shit that makes your health drop.

Positioning: On the side of the boss. Not in front or behind him. On the fourth troll phase, you’ll want to spread out by 5 yards as much as possible.

Discussion: I opted for Glyph of Divine Protection since I like Hand of Sacrifice a lot on this fight. Less progressive teams may also like this glyph to help mitigate melee damage that might occur for mobs that aren’t picked up fast enough. Someone who takes a lot of magic damage might want to leave out this glyph. On the talent front, the first tier doesn’t matter. In the second tier, Fist of Justice can help interrupt/stun unruly adds. Third tier, whichever you like best. I opted for Eternal Flame, as usual. Fourth tier, Clemency is great for Hand of Sacrifice, and if you’re helping a tank remove his (or her) Triple Puncture stacks, Hand of Protection. Fifth tier, there aren’t really any major damage phases, so Divine Purpose is ok. Sixth tier, I’ve yet to try it, but I’ve heard wonders about Holy Prism.

Council of Elders

Icy Veins overall strat: http://www.icy-veins.com/council-of-elders-detailed-strategy-wow

Predominate damage type: Magic (all types)

Suggested Spec and Glyphs: http://www.wowhead.com/talent#lTN|pnr

Track on your frames: Ensnared/Entrapped, if not tracked by default (dispel or Hand of Freedom!), Frostbite (optional)

CD timings:
Devotion Aura – Especially useful during Sandstorm. Can also help during Frostbite. And Overloads (Kazra’jin).
Guardian of Ancient Kings – Can be used once. Or twice if you pop it really early in the fight.
Divine Favor/Avenging Wrath – Might as well use on cooldown.
Divine Shield – Can use to get rid of aggro on Living Sands. Or clear Frostbite (though I wouldn’t waste it on that unless you’re having a lot of trouble keeping yourself up).
Divine Protection – Good during Frostbite and Sandstorm for sure, but not crucial. Can save it for those phases, or use it on cooldown.

Move if: You’re standing on a Quicksand or on some grey smoke (Kazra’jin’s Reckless Charge). Also if you’re targeted by a Shadowed Loa Spirit (don’t let it come close to you!)

Positioning: Kind of spread out. You can group or spread for Frostbite depending on the strat you’re using.

Discussion: Constant raid damage with rare moving gives a lot of opportunity to use Glyph of Divine Plea, but Beacon of Light could work too (especially if your tanks like to die a lot). Or Battle Healer or Avenging Wrath. On the talent front, Fist of Justice is helpful for stunning Loas (or pesky Living Sands), Clemency is nice for Hand of Freedom (for those Ensared), Hand of Protection (if your squishies are being eaten by Living Sands) and Hand of Sacrifice (tanks usually appreciate). Hand of Purity can take the edge of Frostbite, but keep in mind that the 70% DoT reduction does not work. I haven’t tried Holy Prism, but I’m told that with the spreading on this fight, it is very effective.

Yay that’s part one!

With these helpful pointers you should at least be able to understand why your raid finder groups are wiping.

All my thanks to my references: Plus Heal, MMO Champion’s raid forum and Icy Veins Holy Paladin Throne of Thunder Tips. Also lots of love to the guilds Cadenza (25m progression), Conquest (25m moderate progression) and Team Sport (10m casual) whose “damage taken” log section I borrowed to see where different types of guilds were getting smacked hard.

Holy Pally 4eva Continued: 5.2 Excellent Gear List

Posted March 5, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Paladinning Info, Teh paladin

Tags: , , , , , ,

EDIT: Fixed a few pieces now that 5.2 is out. List should be slightly more accurate.

Yay, it’s almost time for 5.2! (Or not yay – I could have used a few more weeks of Tier 14)

And even though I’m sure there are computer generated gear lists out there that could save me time, I compiled, BY HAND, a gear list for myself. Note the emphasis on the by hand part. My hand makes mistakes sometimes, so if the order is screwed up, or there’s a wonky link, I deeply apologize. I did double check the list before I posted, but every now and again, I miss things. If you point out a mistake, it will be my immense pleasure to fix it.

Note that I’m also writing this with PTR data so the databases are a little buggy and not all the items listed have known sources. I have full intentions of updating this once 5.2 is live for a bit, but we all know how I am with updating posts.

Stat Priority

I went with a loose stat priority of Spirit >/= Intellect > Mastery > Haste >/= Crit, assuming that 5.2 doesn’t dramatically change our playstyle. Nothing from the patch notes suggests a Holy Paladin stat revamp, but I have been surprised before.

Since healing isn’t black and white, the order of gear on the list isn’t the uber ultimate truth. Quite often, choosing the order I was going to put them in was a question of deciding between 10 extra Intellect in exchange for, oh, I dunno, 20 Mastery. Trinkets are particularly bad since 1)they’re so situational, and 2)there hasn’t been a ton of testing on them yet.

Tier 15

I’m not too sure what I think of the bonuses. Extra healing on Daybreak is interesting – I really enjoy playing with Daybreak during raids – but its actual effective healing isn’t that exciting. I don’t know how much effect buffing it will have. I’m also looking forward to trying out the 4 piece. Honestly, I don’t really miss the big Beacon transfers from days past, but extra transfers from Eternal Flame ticks (I’m an incorrigible Eternal Flame blanketer) and/or more flexibility when simultaneously healing two tanks could have some fun effects on healing assignments.

If aiming for the 4 piece, I would suggest going with the Helm, Shoulders, Legs and Gloves. I don’t like the itemization the Chest, not one bit. Other options would be the Gloves (Iceshatter Gauntlets are sexy. If I only I knew where they come from.) or the pants (Matter-Swapped Legplates are nice.).

More About This List

I should probably mention that I only listed gear with an ilevel of 522. The Raid Finder/Heroic/Thunderforged gear was mocking me so I ignored it. I figured listing normal mode gear should be enough to steer us all in the right direction. If normal mode gear drops off a specific boss, guess what boss the Raid Finder and Heroic versions drop from! As for gear below 522, I wasn’t overly interested in it and thus left it out. The only item that stood out to me was Dragonmaw, Reborn (available for Blacksmithing), an option for those who didn’t get lucky with Sha Touched weapons in LFR.

And with that, please enjoy the following copy-and-pasting headache.

Head

1- Lightning Emperor’s Headguard (Tier 15 – Twin Consorts – 11th Boss)
2- Crown of Potentiated Birth (Ji-Kun – 6th Boss)
3- Haunted Steel Headcover (Blacksmithing)

Neck

1- Necklace of the Terra-Cotta Mender (Throne of Thunder Drop)
2- Horridon’s Tusk Fragment (Horridon – 2nd Boss)
3- Soul Prism of Lei-Shen (Lei-Shen – 12th Boss)
4- Choker of Stygimolochy (Oondasta – World Boss)
5- Passionfire Choker (Twin Consort – 11th Boss)
6- Mender’s Battletags (Shadow Pan Assault Rep – Neutral)

Shoulders

1- Lightning Emperor’s Mantle (Tier 15 – Iron Qon – 10th Boss)
2- Spaulders of Primordial Growth (Primordius – 8th Boss)
3- Shoulderguards of Potentiation (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Exalted)
4- Reconstructed Holy Shoulderplates (Durumu – 7th Boss)

Back/Cloak

1- Drape of Booming Nights (Jin’rokh the Breaker – 1rst Boss)
2- Dreamweaver Drape (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Honored)
3- Constantly Accelerating Cloak (Dark Animus – 9th Boss)
4- Shimmershell Cape (Tortos – 4th Boss)
5- Deadly Glare Cape (Unknown – probably Throne of Thunder Zone Drop)

Chest

1- Scorched Spiritfire Drape (Oondasta – World Boss)
2- Hauberk of Gleaming Fire (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Revered)
3- Lei-Shen’s Grounded Carapace (Lei Shen – 12th Boss)
4- Ionized Yojamban Carapace (Jin’rokh the Breaker – 1rst Boss)
5- Lightning Emperor’s Breastplate (Tier 15 – Dark Animus)

Bracers

1- Softscar Armplates (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Friendly)
2- Bonemender Bracers (Primordius – 8th Boss)
3- Armplates of the Vanquished Abomination (Horridon – 2nd Boss)

Gloves

1- Iceshatter Gauntlets (Durumu – 7th Boss)
2- Lightning Emperor’s Gloves (Tier 15- Council of Elders, also Nalak – World Boss)
3- Tortos’ Shellseizers (Tortos – 4th Boss)
4- Touch of Soothing Mists (Shado Pan Assault – Honored)
5- Skullsmashing Gauntlets (Oondasta – World Boss)

Belt

1- Waistplate of Channeled Mending (Shado Pan Assault – Revered)
2- Refreshing Abalone Girdle (Tortos – 4th Boss)
3- Waistband of Furious Stomping (Oondasta – World Boss)
4- Abandoned Zandalari Greatbelt (Throne of Thunder Drop)

Pants

1- Matter-Swapped Legplates (Dark Animus – 9th Boss)
2- Lightning Emperor’s Greaves (Tier 15- Ji-Kun – 6th Boss, also Nalak – World Boss)
3- Legguards of Renewal (Shado Pan Assault – Honored)
4- Legplates of Reemergence (Durumu – 7th Boss)

Boots

1- Ice-Scored Treads (Megaera – 5th Boss)
2- Haunted Steel Greaves (Blacksmithing)
3- Vaultwalker Sabatons (Throne of Thunder Drop)

Ring

1- Petrified Eye of the Basilisk (Horridon – 2nd Boss)
2- Durumu’s Captive Eyeball (Durumu – 7th Boss)
3- Ring of Shamuru (Oondasta – World Boss)
4- Ring of the Shado-Pan Assault (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Friendly)
5- Ro’shak’s Remembrance (Iron Qon – 10th Boss)
6- Eye of Oondasta (Oondasta – World Boss)
7- Signet of the Shado-Pan Assault (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Friendly)

Trinket

EDIT: There has been some analysis done on the trinkets. At the time of this update I haven’t read into details, but check out Therya’s 5.2 Healing Trinket Compendium.

Intellect with mana regen:
1- Horridon’s Last Gasp (Horridon – 2nd Boss)
2- Soothing Talisman of the Shado-Pan Assault (Shado Pan Assault Rep – Friendly)

Which of these two is better will depend on the internal cooldown on Horridon’s Last Gasp (see Cianxo’s comment on the Wowhead page). Either way, the raiding trinket has an advantage over the rep trinket in that it procs on its own and doesn’t require you to remember to hit it whenever it’s up. (Probably not an issue for advanced players, but often problematic for new healers.)

Spirit with damage mitigation:
1- Stolen Relic of Zuldazar (Primordius – 8th Boss)
2- Inscribed Bag of Hydra-Spawn (Megaera – 5th Boss)

At first glance, the Relic seems leagues ahead of the Bag (28018 damage, really?) but, again, it’ll depend on how often the Bag and the Blessing of Zuldazar each proc. It’ll also depend on whether the Bag only procs on single-target direct heals or on all heals, including Eternal Flame ticks and AoE heals.

Straight throughput:
1- Lightning-Imbued Chalice (Lei-Shen – 12th Boss)

While I probably wouldn’t use this as my first choice on mana-intensive progression fights, I’m really excited to play around with it during farm raids or in LFR.

Weapon

1- Torall, Rod of the Shattered Throne (Lei-Shen – 12th Boss)
2- Soulblade of the Breaking Storm (Jin’rokh the Breaker – 1rst Boss)
3- Jerthud, Graceful Hand of the Savior (Jin’rokh the Breaker – 1rst Boss)

5.2 also introduces an alternative to a One-Hand Weapon and Shield with the 2-Hand Caster Mace, Invocation of the Dawn. The lack of Spirit makes me cringe, especially with Shield of Twinned Despair being so sexy (though like all holy pally shields, it probably doesn’t really exist). But! On the bright side, if you do want to give the 2-Hander a try, you’ll only have Druids and Shaman to compete with.

Shield

1- Shield of Twinned Despair (Twin Consort – 11th Boss)
2- Tortos’ Discarded Shell (Tortos – 4th Boss)

If you like stealing candy from children and making your non-shield wearing co-healers (and casting clothie raidmates) sad, Orb of Arcing Lightning, a random Throne of Thunder drop, is a passable offhand, and Lei-Shen’s Orb of Command (Lei-Shen – 12th Boss) can do if you’re desperate. Or if you really hate your co-healers (and casting clothie raidmates).

I Had No Idea this Required a License

Posted February 26, 2013 by Ophelie
Categories: Internet Anthropology

Tags: , , , , , ,

I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Mostly out of lack of motivation. After all, I should be updating the paladin posts. They’re not going to fix themselves. But I got into a discussion with a friend on Facebook last night that inspired me to finish this.

fakegamer

So yeah, for months (or longer?) there’s been this talk of “fake gamers”. Pretty much exclusively “fake gamer” girls, because apparently being a “fake gamer” requires identifying to the female gender. Guys, it seems, do not qualify to be “fake gamers”, no matter how much their eyes glaze over when you bring them to riveting panels about fascinating games, or how lost they become during gaming nostalgia sharing sessions right after they JUST told you how much they love gaming.

Yep, no matter how much boys lie to you about their gaming habits to get into your pants (because, clearly, it is the only reason anyone lies about anything), only girls (sorry, pc people, when I write about gaming, it’s “guys” and “girls”, because “men” and “women” imply being all serious and not fun and I’m against being serious and not fun) can be “fake gamers”.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we can address the next issue (and still ignore the main question).

Why do We Care if Someone is a “Fake Gamer”?

Ok. So. As far as I know, being a gamer does not require a license. I mean, maybe I’ve been living an illegal life all these years and am totally a fake gamer because I never applied for my gaming license. Hey, none of the blogs ever mention it and no one asks to see it when I pick up my tickets to conventions. Can’t blame me for not knowing.

Gaming, on it’s own, not gaming for charity which is something different, also does not feed starving children in Africa. It does not stop poverty. It doesn’t even save the whales. It might help a little bit with education, but only for the person playing, not for everyone else. So it’s not like a huge, meaningful achievement.

It doesn’t increase a person’s social status either. While I find social status kinda silly – why does anyone care if my job pays well, whether I’m following my biological obligations to get married and reproduce and if I have a lot of politician friends? – I guess it matters to some. But gaming does not make you more socially acceptable. It actually still sometimes even has the opposite effect.

So, why the hell, are people going around pretending to be, oh I dunno, gaming police or something?

Apparently there’s even this meme on Facebook going around comparing the “fake gamer” to a “what a gamer really looks like/does”.

I can’t say I’ve ever really seen this because I have certain, um, standards when it comes to Facebook friends. But there are a lot of people on the internet who worry about weird things (I worry about weird things too, but not so much whether someone has received permission to call themselves a gamer) so I can believe that there are some who are genuinely concerned about the…authenticity? of gamer status claims.

Think of it as I might, I cannot wrap my head on Why. Why do you care about the credentials the person sitting next you at ComicCon? You’re there to watch and listen to a famous person talk about their work. That’s not a goddamn competition.

And if that person next to you is only there to impress their significant other? What happens then?

Well.

Consequences on “fake person”: They’re bored and wasted their time and money.
Consequences to you: … Nothing, really.

So start worrying about your own fun, and less about everyone elses motivation.

It’s the Media, You Say, I’m Sick of Fake Sex Being Used to Lure Me In

Various (and possibly, most) major figures (I was going to say players but that would lead to confusion) in the gaming industry do have a habit of putting a scantily clad human model with body parts that are, um, voluptuous in some places, and, um, dainty in other places next to their product in order to increase sales. Habit that it annoying to, well, pretty much anyone with a soul.

Nobody knows much about these models because their humanity is drowned out by their obnoxious body parts. Understandably, it is frustrating to be served by a pair of disembodied boobs (note, that you’re not allowed to touch) instead of a helpful, knowledgeable sales expert. At least when it comes to making gaming choices.

Know what, though? COMPANIES WOULD STOP DOING IT IF MORONS STOPPED BUYING INTO IT.

On a side note, though, this reminds me of a complaint I have about Big Bang Theory. The characters on the show started off as pretty brilliant but eventually devolved to exactly the 2-dimensional idiots gaming companies think they are catering to. This is 2013, people. Gamers like sex like everyone else, but we still live with the times. We’re demanding in 2013. We have a shitton extra needs to go with our sex needs. The media would do well to evolve with us.

Differentiating Freelance Sexy Costumes from the Media

I read a complaint post (can’t remember where) about sexy costume wearers. They were getting labelled as “fake gamers” because apparently the ability to look fantastic in skimpy clothing cannot be acquired simultaneously to the ability to operate a controller, mouse or keyboard.

The whole post (and, really, the internet in general) leads me to believe that sexy costumes (and other revealing clothing) are misunderstood.

That young lady in spandex, the one not hired by a company at the convention, is not trying to sell you anything. The one at the booth is trying to sell you something. This one here isn’t.

The young lady is wearing spandex (or latex) for the same reason you have a ridiculously large SLR camera that you don’t even know how to use hanging around your neck. She’s got something valuable she worked hard for, is proud of and wants to show off. Just like you have something valuable you’ve likely worked hard for, are proud of and want to show off. She doesn’t want to sell you her body anymore than you want to sell anyone your SLR camera.

And if you want to be proud of your body, stop eating garbage and start moving. Then you too can wear a skimpy costume that makes people smile.

On the Other Side, Is Being Called Fake Supposed to Hurt?

There was a female gaming convention awhile back (there are gaming conventions for everything, really). They did this survey and an obscenely high % of respondents said they’d been called “fake gamers”.

This has never happened to me before, at least not to my face, so I really had to stop and imagine how I’d feel if that happened.

The only thing that came to mind was “very confused”.

On one hand, as this post suggests, I would be deeply concerned about your emotional health. It’s not healthy to feel so strongly enough about gamer title legibility that you play gaming police. What can I say? I’m a caring person.

On the other hand, I’d be a little “um…ok… *scratches head*” because, really, I’m not here to prove anything with my gaming. I play games because they’re fun. I go to conventions because I want to see, in person, the geniuses who brought my favorite stories to life. I go to meetups so I can hug with MY REAL ARMS the people I have to /hug and *hug* normally. I socialize within different gaming communities so I can get super excited about stuff I love and be responded to with equal excitement. You know, instead of the amused looks I get in my everyday life.

So I cannot grasp why being “real” or “fake”, and, especially, a stranger’s silly opinion of everyone else’s realness, matters. We all have our reasons for gaming or for revolving around the gaming community. As long as we’re not deliberately stomping on someone else’s fun, who cares?

And after all that, I still never touched the great encompassing question of: WHAT THE HELL IS A FAKE GAMER ANYWAY?

ps. If you enjoy this topic, I have reflected, though a tad more seriously, on the notion of gamer/geek identity in the past (part 1 and part 2).


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