World-first RP walking Rank 10 Brawler?

With the first "season" of Brawler's Guild going away tomorrow with patch 6.0.2, this weekend was my last chance to finish up Brawler's Guild and attain Rank 10, the highest rank and the one that would allow purchase of the awesome mount. While RP walking, of course.

After taking down Tyson Sanders back in April, I only had a few fights left: T440 Dual-Mode Robot, Anthracite, Big Badda Boom, Nibbleh, Doctor FIST and Ahoo'ru.

Like Hexos, Nibbleh was as typically difficult as it is for everyone...but not any MORE difficult for an RP walker, since your walking speed was irrelevant in both these fights! I couldn't help but laugh. A fight where you don't move at all? A fight where you only RP walk backwards? THIS IS MY JAM.

Doctor FIST was a pushover and he got one-shot. But Ahoo'ru...I honestly didn't know if I was going to be able to beat Ahoo'ru.

For those who don't know Ahoo'ru, here's the rundown.
- He bubbles in the center of the arena, an invincible shield with 3 stacks.
- He summons sparks of light which wander around, doing high damage to you if they hit you.
- He'll randomly empower a sparks; if touched, it turns into an Avenging Angel mob.
- When an Angel reaches 50% HP, it slowly casts a charge, then (quickly) charges your location.
- An Angel explodes at the end of its charge, instantly killing you if it hits you.
- But if the charge hits Ahoo'ru, it removes one of his shields.

So the idea is, avoid getting hit by the sparks, touch the empowered sparks & spawn the angels, DPS down the Angels, lure them into charging Ahoo'ru to break his shield. Do this three times, then DPS down Ahoo'ru himself.

Sounds pretty easy. Well, except for the fact where I had to dodge the sparks of light while RP walking. And CATCH the empowered sparks while RP walking. And avoid the instantly-fatal Angel charges while RP walking. Oh and do this three times AND still kill Ahoo'ru before dying to the enrage.

It took me a lot of tries (I think 4 strength flasks' worth?), including multiple "I killed you but died to the enrage at the same time and it DIDN'T COUNT" frustrations, but EVENTUALLY he went down. I fully admit I got lucky, getting two empowered sparks at the same time, but even that was tricky, as I had to DPS both Angels down to 50% at roughly the same time so they'd both charge simultaneously.

Fabulor is now a Rank 10 Brawler, and did the entire thing fully RP walking. (In his offspec.) Quite possibly my proudest achievement all expansion. Most of the fights weren't exceptionally difficult, but the ones reliant on mobility - Dark Summoner, Tyson Sanders, Ahoo'ru - were SUPER challenging and really made me think hard about my toolkit. And really, entertainment factor aside, THAT'S why I was doing this. You want to master chess? Challenge yourself to win without your rook and knight. That's how you hone your skills.

Is this a world-first? Is Fabulor the only character arrogant or stupid enough to do this? I can't be certain, but I can honestly say I haven't heard of anyone else doing this.

And even if Fab's not the only one, that's okay. It's a pretty good exclusive club to be a part of.

Sisters mysteriously vanishing, experts baffled

Archive photograph of Sister Goldskimmer, MIA (image from Wowhead)

Sisters all across Azeroth are mysteriously vanishing, and experts have no idea why.

Novice night elf and Gilnean acolytes were confused when Sister Almyra did not show up to lead them through their traditional morning rituals, but assumed she was simply feeling unwell and went about their day. However, they soon noticed that another of their number, Sister Aquinne, was also missing.

A search of their homes revealed no sign of either priestess, and Darnassus authorities were notified. It was then discovered that Darnassians were not the only ones whose sisters had disappeared, as similar reports were filtering in from all across the planet.

In Westfall, it was Sentinel Hill soldier Sister Darnhald; in Azshara, Sister Goldspinner; in Shattrath, Wolf-Sister Maka. All sisters, all gone without a trace.

Oddly, the disappearances seem very specifically targeted, as only women siblings have been reported missing. Women without siblings seem completely unaffected, as do male siblings - other than being alarmed about the disappearance of their female kin, of course.

"This is totally weird, bro!" said investigator Horatio Laine, who isn't really an expert in these matters, but no one else had any ideas, so they figured calling on Laine couldn't do any more harm. "Why would someone make all these sisters, of different races, alignment and culture, all vanish?"

World leaders were immediately concerned that the vanishings might be a new form of attack by an Old God, the Burning Legion, or other such evil forces. However, careful scouting revealed that their sisters were vanishing as well. Howls of fear and loss echo throughout Icecrown as the Vrykul learn of their missing Njorndar Spear-Sisters, and chaos now reigns in the Black Temple after its occupants realized their masters of Pain and Pleasure were nowhere to be found.

"Was the strangest thing I ever seen, mon!" said Kro'janda, a troll hunter living in the Stonetalon Mountains. "I been trackin' a harpy, Riven, for da last week after she kill my boars. And I finally find her, get her all lined up for da killing shot...and den she just disappear! She didn't fly away, she didn't hide. I looked all aroun', and nothin'. She was just...gone."

"I just don't understand," said Laine, studying a genealogy textbook and dozens of family tree diagrams. "Why target just sisters? Why not brothers, too? It's almost as if someone was trying to erase sisters from history, or tell us that sisters don't exist. But who would do something as dumb as that?"

Minipost: Renewed subscription, which means...

(click for full-size)

Times Change: Garrosh & the Warlords cinematic

The Warlords of Draenor cinematic went live yesterday. This post has spoilers.
If you haven't seen it yet, here's a link, go watch. It's only 5 minutes long.

* * * * *

The Warlords trailer was released yesterday, and people have lots of thoughts. There's probably going to be many blog posts soon addressing how the focus was entirely on orcs, how there were no draenei, how there were no female orcs, the heavy masculinity, and how the lore significance was likely lost on the many players that didn't play the older games.

These are valid points, and you should read them! But this is not one of those posts.

No, this post is about one thing and one thing only: Garrosh. While he's present in a good portion of the cinematic, he doesn't play a major role (one could argue that his torch-waving signalling was unnecessary, since the siege machines were already in action), and he only has one line of dialogue, which consists of only two words.

But those two words. Man.

Gul'dan: This...was not our destiny!
Garrosh: Times change.

Okay. Let's talk about this line. On the surface, it's a clever retort. It's a snappy one-liner to Gul'dan's protests, and it has the meta benefit of alluding to the fact that Garrosh has gone back in time to accomplish his goals. It's a good line.

But put that aside for a moment. Ignore the scene, who he's addressing, what's going on around them. Instead, just look at Garrosh's face when he says his line. And listen to HOW he says it.

Times change.

Me? I hear a distinct heaviness in his voice. A weight. A weariness. A clear absence of the anger, arrogance and brashness that has for years utterly defined who Garrosh Hellscream is.

Think back to oh, every time we've heard Garrosh speak, whether it's to Thrall, Varian, Taran Zhu, or to players in his own faction. He snarls, he sneers, he spits his words like cannon blasts. For him, the very act of talking is a heavily emphasized, violent act. That's who Garrosh IS. Go watch the 5.4 trailer again if you want to compare.

But his words in the cinematic, these two little words...they don't feel this way. This is a different Garrosh. He sounds almost apologetic.

This drastic change in attitude isn't just the voice acting, either - it's written all over his face. Look at the attitude difference between this Garrosh...

...and this one.

There's no fury, twisting and contorting his features. No bloodlust or hatred. Nor is it the smirking expression of someone who just delivered a devastating verbal shot. No, that is the face of someone who is at that very moment, coming to a difficult, perhaps painful, realization.

Remember, until recently it was Garrosh, not Gul'dan, shouting about his "glorious destiny." And when Garrosh realizes he has lost, that he has been denied the fate he so adamantly believes he deserves, it's almost more than he can bear.

(sound credits: Wowhead!)

Fast forward to Garrosh in the cinematic, standing over Gul'dan. Why is Garrosh not angrier? Why doesn't he take out the years of frustration and rage he, like most orcs, now feel towards this traitor to their proud race? Why does he not spit in Gul'dan's face, break his spindly neck, mock his suffering?

Well, Guldan's faith in the destiny promised him has just been shattered. And hearing the pain and denial in the other orc's voice as those dreams and hopes slip away...what must be running through Garrosh's mind at that moment? He knows Gul'dan is a monster. But Garrosh also knows what it's like, to have the world in the palm of your hand, so close you can taste it, only to have it stolen cruelly away at the last second.

Garrosh was in those exact same shoes not so long ago. He knows this pain all too well.

Now, maybe Garrosh has comes to terms with himself, with the unexpected directions his life has taken him. After all, he's no longer the proud, celebrated leader of the Warsong Offensive. He is no longer Warchief of the Horde, leader of the mightiest army on Azeroth. Now, he's an outlaw. A renegade. Hunted and despised by everyone he's ever known. His grand, ambitious plans of conquest, of all gone, scattered to the winds.

Gul'dan believed he was destined for something greater. Well, so did Garrosh. But guess what?

Times change.

Maybe he's come to realize that the world might not actually revolve around him...that his purpose, his meaning in life, is what he is doing now. Not to be the one leading the ferocious charge into battle, not to the one defying the rest of the world and daring them to come rip him down off his throne, but instead, helping his father be the one to attain such glories.

To wait behind, to signal the catapults. To retrieve his leader's weapon. To eschew accolades and recognition. To follow, not lead.

Who is Garrosh really addressing in the cinematic?


Or himself?

I said there was a weight in Garrosh's words, and there is. But there's more. A sense of resignation. Of defeat. Of mourning, an unspoken, quiet sadness at what could have been, and at what he knows he has lost.

But there is also something else - acceptance.

The timbre in his voice. The expression on his face.

For the first time, Garrosh seems - dare I say it? - content.

Look at the moment when he retrieves Gorehowl from Mannoroth's corpse.

Garrosh pauses, considering it. He knows this weapon. He's wielded it countless times. He knows its weight, the feel of how it sings in battle, the adrenaline rush of sending it cleaving through his foes. It's not just an axe, it's an extension of his very being, his warrior's spirit. His legacy.

He looks at it. Remembering.

And then he lets it go.

Minipost: Watch the sky burn

I've taken thousands of screenshots since I started playing WoW six years ago. And the one above, of Westfall in flames during the conclusion the zone's Post-Shattering questline, remains one of my favorites.

Its composition is nice, good vibrant colors, rule-of-thirds and all that. But I think what I like most about it is the in-game and in-character story behind it.

You see, at the end of the zone, Vanessa Van Cleef reveals herself to be the mastermind and driving force behind all the uprisings and rebellions that you've been investigating. And in a really cool moment, she and her lieutenants subdue Marshal Gryan Stoutmantle, Horatio Laine and the other Alliance / Westfall Brigade soldiers, before proceeding to raze Sentinel Hill to the ground. Meanwhile, Stoutmantle desperately yells at you to hurry and travel to Stormwind and warn them that the Defias Brotherhood has risen once again.

Well, I did nothing of the sort. I stood around, redid the quest a few times for more screenshots, and just relaxed, enjoying the scene.

Why? Because the Alliance deserved it. Stoutmantle, Laine, Varian, they brought this entirely upon themselves. Screw you guys, I'm done, YOU'RE the ones at fault here, I quit. Time to sit back and watch the sky burn.

Post-Northrend Westfall is in sorry shape following the war against the Lich King. The farmlands are barren and full of homeless refugees, people are starving and reduced to eating dirt, and morale (and faith in the government) is at an all-time low.

And what's the response from Varian? How does the King of Stormwind react, hearing of the plight of his people? Well, let me first add that when you do eventually go to deliver the message to Varian, you have to run right past the city's BRAND NEW GIANT VARIAN STATUE that they constructed after Northrend. But the nation has no funds and that's why Westfall civilians have to squat in deserted homes and starve. Okay.

Statue aside, even after all this, when the ignored, unheard people of Westfall are driven to rebellion because they have no alternative, Varian...well, he ignores their issues and dismisses them as "a ruthless organization of criminals."

With treatment like that, is it really any wonder the people of Westfall rebelled? That you finally pushed them so far that they put their feet down and said "No. No, you arrogant, selfish children. You only care about your own egos, you don't listen to our concerns, and when you are FORCED to notice, you have the gall to not take responsibility?"

Hey, I guess that's cool. You already got their money, so who needs to actually LISTEN to those bums, right? May as well just ignore their reasons for being angry and place the blame right on their shoulders, not yours.

But maybe, just maybe you underestimate how hurt, upset and above all else, how tired of this crap people are. How maybe people would be willing to overlook a single offense and chalk it up to an accident or mistake. But when it keeps happening over1 and over2 and over3 and over4 and over5 and over6 and over7 and over8 again? Um, no.

(1The absence of Aggra in WoD. 2Female Draenei April Fool's joke. 3One-dimensional female lore characters. 4Lack of Hearthstone Hero equality. 5Tyrande's leader story featuring Malfurion. 6Malgrim Stormhand's "real man" line. 7Dustin Browder on hypersexualized female designs. 8Rob Pardo on diversity in Blizzard games.)

Eventually, you're going to push them away. You will lose them by offending them. By not representing them. By dismissing and refusing to acknowledge the times you screwed up, and trying to just pretend those times never happened via deafening, overwhelming silence.

Even the most loyal, dedicated supporter, who absolutely LOVES all the good things you DO do, reaches a point where they have to say to themselves "How can I continue to support these people when they clearly do not care about me?"

And I guess the answer is, you don't have to.

* * * * *

Warlords is probably half a year away. And I fully admit it, I am dying - DYING - to see what happens with the lore. Come on, Blizz. Six months to put your money where Pardo's mouth is and prove that you really do want diversity in your games. There's plenty of testosterone, musclehead games out there for the dudebro crowd. Warcraft (and Blizzard's other games) could be so much better than this.

Anyway. From Draenor With Love will be unaffected, and I hope readers enjoy where our story goes, and who it involves!

This won't be the last post here, though it'll be the last one for a while. But just in case, thank you for reading. If you've ever enjoyed anything, anything at all posted on this blog, know that your enjoyment makes me incredibly happy. Thanks. :)

It's funny. Predictions have always been one of my favorite blog topics. Sure didn't see this coming, though.