…’cause Beltar’s got a gun. (Sorry, Aerosmith fans.)
Beltar, my poor somewhat-neglected dwarf marksman hunter, like guns. A lot. No surprise there, right…after all, he is a dwarf, and he’s been single-spec marksman since day one. But he’s also not so set in his ways that he’d turn down an upgrade. So on one of his rare forays into Icecrown Citadel in a 10-man a few months ago, when a Njorndar Bone Bow dropped to replace his beloved rifle from the Big Round Room, The Diplomat, he took it–albeit reluctantly.
When 4.0 dropped, he had enough Justice Points saved up (thanks to a stack of over 240 Badges of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog) to immediately upgrade to four-piece T10 (one of them ilevel 264, the rest basic ilevel 251). But obviously, there’s no guns available with badges. The bow has done him well, but it just didn’t look right to see this old fart who’d been humping a gun of some sort around the Eastern Kingdoms forever throwing his shoulder out of joint to use a bow…not even a crossbow, a stinking elfy bow. As Beltar might say, “dammit, ain’t proper fer a dwarf t’be seen w’a stick an’ a string, ‘cept in emergencies, o’course.”
Well, I was chatting with Rilgon from Stabilized Effort Scope–a guy who lives, breathes, eats, pees, poops, and probably has carnal thoughts about marks huntering when he’s not having them about gnomes–on Twitter a couple days ago, and when I mentioned something about wanting to replace that bow with a gun but being very short on options due to Beltar not having access to any raids on Alliance-side Feathermoon, he suggested that I look at the Wrathful Gladiator’s Rifle. This is the ilevel 264 version of the season 8 arena reward weapon. During the arena season, it required an arena rating of 1800 to purchase. I don’t do arenas, so I hadn’t paid PvP rewards any mind. Rilgon said that the lower Wrathful items, the ilevel 264 versions, could now be bought with honor only, 2550 points to be precise…this despite the fact that when I checked, they still had a big red blurb on the tooltip that said “requires a personal or team arena rating of 1800.”
Thanks to a stupidly huge number of Stone Keeper’s Shards he’d built up, Beltar had something like 1700 honor saved up. He needed 2550 for the gun. And I said to myself five fateful words that I just know I should never say, but I always do it anyway…
“How hard can it be?”
The correct answer is “plenty,” when you’re on the Alliance side in the Cyclone battlegroup (where Horde tend to dominate most battlegrounds except Alterac Valley), and you’re an MM hunter with zero resilience in ilevel 245/251/264 PvE gear, and you have no damn idea how to PvP on a hunter because you’ve got maybe 400 lifetime HKs to start with, and you’ve never even been in Strand of the Ancients or Isle of Conquest.
There’s a word for people like me. That word is “noob.”
I won my first-ever trip to Isle of Conquest by following my normal AV strategy–find the biggest group of friendlies I can, stay in the middle of them, and shoot stuff with a red tag. Could be a healer, could be a warrior, could be a water elemental, could be a cat, could be a felguard–doesn’t matter. Hit “tab” and open up like Rambo with an M60 (including the guttural yelling) on the first thing that I randomly target, that’s how I roll. (Hey, I said I was bad at this.) I then stand there and shoot until either it dies or its friends show up, I completely forget where Disengage and Deterrence and all my trap keys are, and I die.
It was, in a word, a painful two days. With everybody stacking huge resilience, that bow might as well have been shooting Nerf arrows…while with my zero resilience, I was all but two-shotted by mages more than once. (Seriously, frost mages, wtf. 15k and 11k simultaneous crits? Daaaamn.) I was in the first AV I’ve ever seen where the Horde actually out-zerged the Alliance. Normally, if both sides bumrush to the opposite end of the map without stopping, the Alliance always wins. Well, that doesn’t work when you get 15 people into Drek’s room, the tank pulls…and nobody heals him, either because there’s no healers there or the healers are all standing around looking at each other saying, “I thought you were going to do it.” We spawn all the way back at the north end of the map, Horde kill Vandar, gee gee noob, here’s your consolation-prize 15 honor instead of 45 because you were afflicted with teh dumb.
And that chat. Oh dear sweet zombie Arthas, battleground chat is so stupid it hurts. Especially in AV, when all the amateur Pattons and Rommels get into arguments first about strategy, then about parentage. “ALL ON O RUSH RUSH RUSH” followed by “NO NEED D AT STONEHEARTH AND BALINDA” followed by “stfu noob, ur mom neds d lol”…do you guys on PvP servers have to put up with this level of dumbass constantly? If you do, my God, I feel for you and can’t believe you can stand it.
The only thing that saved me from giving up on the upgrade was a Feathermoon peculiarity–the Alliance own Lake Wintergrasp probably 95% of the time. It’s really rather ridiculous. There are a ton of very good Horde PvPers on Feathermoon, but they just don’t care much about Wintergrasp any more. So as Alliance, it’s relatively easy to go into a WG, rip out a few quests, tear up the towers, sponge a bit of honor, retain the fort, sponge more honor, and come out with 100-125 quick and easy honor points for very little effort.
So after two days of frustration and idiocy, I finally cracked 2550 honor, and immediately ran to the vendor under Dalaran. And lo and behold, tooltip be damned, Beltar could buy and equip his new Wrathful Gladiator’s Rifle. The dwarf had a gun, and all was right with the world.
Now, all it needed was a name. His old rifle from Karazhan had picked up the name “Black Death.” So this charming little boomstick, with its huge stock and spikes sticking everywhere, needed a name too. I thought for a few seconds, and then remembered how generally unpleasant getting it had been, how stupid the chat had been in all the battlegrounds, and how tactically moronic so many of the losing sides had been, and I had my answer.
Say hello…to the Durpinator.
This time last year in WoW, we were fighting for our lives. Or, maybe running for our lives might’ve been more appropriate. Our towns and cities were overrun by gigantic hordes of shambling, terrifying zombies, and they only wanted one thing…braaaaaiiiinnnnss.
Yep. Last year, in the runup to Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard decided to give us a world event we’d never forget. Forget the 2008 recycle of the 2006 Naxxramas opening event, where you got to go out to various zones and then get camps of undead stolen from you so you couldn’t get those l33t [Jockstraps of Undead Slaying]. No, Arthas had a little more in mind this time than sitting there and waiting for us to smash up some crystals and scream at people for jacking our mobs.
Remember how it started? Boxes of tainted food started appearing, mysteriously, in towns. And then came the zombies…well, OK, ghouls, but they were called zombies, because zombies are cooler than ghouls. If a zombie bit you, or you messed with a food box, or you splattered a tainted bug or rat, you got cooties. If you didn’t get cured by the time the cootie timer ran out, you became a zombie, with a whole new set of abilities…including having to fight nearly-constantly or your health would drain away and you’d die. Zombies aren’t exactly known for just standing around and chillaxin’, y’know? They feel the need…the need to feed.
At first, the disease timer was 10 minutes and it was easy to cure…no worries. Then the disease timer dropped to 5 minutes, and then two minutes, and then one minute. By that time, it was World War Z time, baby. There were zombies everyfrickinwhere, man. Cities became deathtraps as guards and NPCs got zombified by the dozens. Death and undeath were spread across Azeroth and Outland.
And just like that, it was over. Grand Apothecary Putress came up with the cure, and the Argent Dawn delivered it…and all that was left was to clean up the streets of Orgrimmar and Stormwind, burn the bodies, and count the cost.
There’s no doubt that Blizzard absolutely swung for the fences with what we’ve termed the “Zombiepocalypse.” This was not just another holiday, or some optional event for certain levels. This was specifically designed to get the point across that the Lich King wants your ass dead. Yes, you. And he doesn’t much care about your daily quest grind or your current assignment to retrieve eight [Bear Asses] for some idiot in Thelsamar. This is total war, son.
There’s also no doubt that the Zombiepocalypse was the most contentious and divisive world event Blizzard’s ever done. It affected almost everyone who played during that week last October, whether you wanted to be affected or not. The only way to “opt out” was not to play. The potency of the disease in the last few days, plus the ease of catching and spreading it, made Hakkar’s old Corrupted Blood look like a minor sniffle. You either loved the Zombie Invasion of 2008, or you hated it. There was no in between.
Well, except for me. I can find the in-between on anything. (Yes, I am the world’s only wishy-washy tank.)
Let’s take a look at the bad, and then the good, that came out of the Zombiepocalypse, and what lessons Blizzard can hopefully take away from it for any world-shattering–literally–events they may want to try for Cataclysm’s ramp-up. First, the bad:
– Griefing. The Zombiepocalypse proved that there’s a population of people on every server who are nothing but raving assholes who get a good laugh out of ruining other people’s fun…but can’t handle it when their own plans get thwarted. Stories ran rife of groups of level 70 player zombies tearing a swath through newbie towns, infecting the guards, causing level 1-5 characters to get one-shotted again and again. Questgivers and flightmasters were dead or undead for extended periods. Auction house bombing (run into an AH and zombie-explode, thus infecting everyone around) became an art form. Protests from the affected parties brought forth streams of “lololol cry more noob.” And yet, when a paladin or priest would “fight back” by actually, y’know, cleansing the disease off the zombie, oh, the four- and five- and twelve-letter bombs that flew from the newly de-zombified! Newsflash, Griefer Boy: If you get to run around and make life miserable for level 10s, then we get to cure you back from zombie form into douchebag form, even though your spelling and grammar is better when you’re screaming “braaaaiiiinnnnsss lol.” Yes, I know the event was designed to force people out of a comfort zone–I get that (see below). But like every other thing that griefers get a hold of, many times, zombiedom was turned into nothing more than an excuse to be a dong.
– Non-consensual PvP. Here you are, Joe Noob, level 11 mage, rolling around Westfall wondering why the hell Old Blanchy can’t just graze her own oats and HAY WTF LEVEL 70 ZOMBIE ZOMG I’M DED. Zombies, see, know not of your PvP flags. A zombie could attack, and be attacked by, anybody, anytime. They were, effectively, their own faction…and you were always flagged to them. Don’t want to PvP? Tough toenails. If a player zombie wants to PvP with you, you can outrun him, yeah, because he’s a zombie, but other than that, you’re PvPing regardless.
– Shattrath. Nowhere did the problems with the event loom larger than Shattrath City. Shattrath, of course, is a Sanctuary–no PvP combat allowed. This included zombies. Which means that once a player turned into a zombie, they were, for all intents, immune from attack from other players. Similarly, player zombies could not infect other players directly…but they could chain the infection among the hordes of Aldor and Scryer and refugee NPCs running around, and those NPC zombie swarms could zombify or kill a player in short order, because of the additive nature of zombie bites–the more you get hit, the more it cuts the timer down. As long as the player zombies could find the occasional NPC to nomnomnom, there wasn’t a damned thing zombie-fighters could do to stop the root cause of the problem. It was a gaping hole in the “ruleset” for Zombiepocalypse, if you will, and it was exploited to the utmost.
– Melee need not apply. That week was an awesome time to be a priest, or especially a paladin. Everybody snuggled up close to you because, hey, hordes of undead are what you live for, right? You can heal the sick, or you can protect the innocent, or you can just ret up and kick massive zombie ass. Well, conversely, trust me, it was a shitty time to be a warrior. The last couple days of the plague, the infection timer was a mere one minute…and each zombie bite cut it down by something like ten seconds. Just a few nibbles and you were a zombie, whether you wanted to be or not. There was no place for warriors in particular (although I’m not sure shamans could clear it off themselves, or if rogues could CoS out of it). Even if I had a paladin behind me spamming cleansing on me while fighting a zombie horde, all it’d take is one resist or one lag spike, and poof, Zombiepanzercow. I had really wanted to play Linedan through the end of the Zombie Invasion, but it quickly became so obviously pointless that my fearless Panzercow ended up not logging on for the last two days of the fight. Beltar, my dwarf hunter, became my primary character, and I had a much better time.
Now, all that said, do I think Zombiepocalypse was a failure? Hell no. Here’s the good stuff:
– Arthas wants to eat your face. Nothing drives home the fact that Arthas is the Big Bad like having your entire city overrun by brain-eating zombies. We, as players of WoW (especially if we never played any of the Warcraft RTS games, as I didn’t), will never really feel the despair and desperation of the Third War, of the loss of Lordaeron and Stratholme and Darrowshire, the scouring of the Ghostlands and Eversong and the desperate stand at the gates of Silvermoon. That one week, a week of increasing disruption and violence and vicious fighting in the streets, is the closest we’ll get. If you’re a bit of a lore nerd like I am, that alone makes putting up with the negatives a ton easier.
– The RP was awesome. Since I ended up on my dwarf for most of the latter half of the Zombiepocalypse, I ended up fighting in Stormwind along with his guild, the Wildfire Riders. And there was crazy fighting going on. The zombie-lovers were constantly infecting the Trade District and Old Town. There were pitched battles in the streets all that last night, literally for hours. Zombies were popping out of every building as vendors got infected. The “front” shifted constantly, from the Trade District to the Harbor to Old Town and back to the Trade District. We gave it a name…”The Longest Night.” And the roleplay and stories that came out of the last night of the event still resonate among us to this day, so much that we’re having a little in-game get-together soon to remember the night that the Pig and Whistle became Old Town’s last redoubt against the forces of undeath.
– You got to be a zombie! I had a rule of thumb. I’d fight like hell against any zombie I saw, but if they got me, they got me fair, and I proceeded to go all-out as a zombie. (My exception was Shattrath…the situation was so screwed up there thanks to the Sanctuary rules, I’d just go off in a corner and suicide.) Why not? Being a zombie, if you’re reasonable about it, is hella fun. You can control NPC zombies, you can lurch around yelling “BRAAAAAIIIIINS,” you eat tasty human fase to regain health. What’s not to like about it?
– Beltar got to pretend he was Bruce Campbell. Sort of. Shooting zombies in the middle of the Trade District while ripping off one-liners in /say? Hell yeah.
I really hope that Blizzard has something as epic as the Zombiepocalypse planned for the Cataclysm rollout. I just hope that if they do, they take a hard look at what went wrong last year (and there was a lot) and don’t just dismiss the legitimate complaints as “a bunch of noob carebear whiners,” like a lot of the forum idiots do. Obviously you can’t have something like this without disrupting people’s play, at least some. But with some thought, they should be able to at least mitigate some of the griefing and make it more enjoyable for more people, of all levels.
This morning I got to sleep in a bit and wound up chilling out in bed while my three-year-old daughter (aka Nublet) “read” me a story from an illustrated book of cat poems. (And by “read,” I mean she looks at the pictures and makes up her own words. Thanks to a healthy dose of Dr. Seuss at bedtime, the girl actually has a frighteningly good sense of meter and rhyme. She is a nascent bookworm and geek, and me and my wife are thusly Very Proud Parents.)
She got to a poem with a drawing of two cats at a cat show, one smugly wearing a blue ribbon and the other sulking. She stared for a second, and then said:
“I’m a winner. You’re a wooser. A big, biiiig wooser.” *pause* “My skin is furry.”
Whaddaya think, gang? 3v3 arena material when she gets a little older?
These two videos are probably one of my most fun memories in almost four years of WoW.
Every so often, our raid group on Feathermoon, known as The Anvil Raid, gets together and spreads our particular brand of love, cheer, goodwill, and facemelting among various Alliance settlements.
Our destination this particular night? The human capital of Stormwind.
Our mission? Kill the humans’ three leaders–Bolvar Fordragon, Archbishop Whats-His-face, and Marcus Jonathan, back to back to back.
Did we accomplish our mission? Oh yes. That, and much much more. But you’ll have to watch the video to find out.
Part 1 is on top, and part 2 is on the bottom. The video includes Ventrilo commentary; the guy running the show is our raidleader Malkavet. The sultry voice reading the FlagRSP entry in the, uh, cameo at the end is the beautiful and talented Davien Stonemantle.
The video is courtesy of Gorebash and Naicella, edited together and music added by Gorebash. You can check out his WoW videos on Youtube as “pinkshirtfarmer.”
(Warning: NSFW due to a little bit of language and the occasional half-naked Draenei chick.)