55 (No Dollar Sign)

This first raid tier of Cataclysm got off to a very powerful start, but as time went on and boss counts rose people began vanishing and the end seemed ever further away. It was then that I went off alone, climbed atop a tall mountain, and pooped upon a yew log. I then took this log, smeared in sticky leavings, and set it ablaze, holding it aloft as an offering to the powers that be, beseeching them to show me the way. The fumes of burning excrement swirled around me, and I began to see into the aether, catching glimpses of the path I now knew I must take. I meditated for three days and three nights beside the smoldering stool, and when I returned victory was ours.

(Incidentally, this is also the process we use to determine who becomes an officer and who gets legendaries.)

Al'akir Kill

Nefarian Kill

Cho'gall Kill

Seeing as how the wait for a front page update is FAST approaching Duke Nukem Forever levels, this update must be significantly longer than usual. I had originally aimed for this to go up somewhere in late February, but there were some incidents with tanks winning Cho'gall tentacle meters which made progress a bit difficult.

Come on guys, it's not that hard. You LOOK and you see a man with an eyeball POP OUT next to you all you have to do is switch targets for about 3 seconds. I mean you don't even have to stop slamming your face against the DPS buttons, just hit TAB somewhere in there and the game will do the rest for you. I know it looks like you're doing better DPS by staying on the boss, but trust me the faster the adds die the better it is for EVERYONE. You are NOT being more efficient by not switching, that is a LIE perpetrated by people like Bear whose ability to maintain an erection is directly linked to a very narrow interpretation of damage meter placement. Ok when you don't switch targets in an attempt to pad meters you are basically taking the Feng Wah bus from New York to Boston to save $3 on transportation, only to spend it on a dinner of Roast Hare with Mint Fig Leaf for 55 (no dollar sign).

You know what that makes you? That makes you BEAR'S PEOPLE. And trust me you do NOT want to become Bear's People. Recently there was an episode in which I was stumbling and WEAVING about the streets of Boston with suspect men named SPENCIL and Anubis's new boyfriend MINSY MIN while stopping to photograph a goddamn jug full of pee as a man is licking pocket lint because he thinks it's mushrooms and calling the cat on the bar stool "dog" and "Rick" and you know what? I say to myself "at least I'm not Bear's People".

I don't think you believe me. You think that I am only being dramatic for the sake of it and that didn't actually happen. Ok, here's a picture of a jug of pee and a cat on a bar stool that might be a dog and might be named Rick. And you BEST not think of calling the legitimacy of these pictures into question, that is Anubis's hand next to the cat (you can tell by the distinct fur cuff).

Pee Jug

Anyway, back on topic.

For once we have a first raid tier that is actually well thought out and properly implemented. Except for that part where they can't come up with new lore characters and just use the ones we've already killed fifteen times because "Neferiun is cool". I GUARANTEE that nobody who raided the original Nefarian still plays because they had a goddamn brain hemorrhage when they saw men like Bubbalarry and Badurpadur 1-shot the 4 horsemen with 10 people, a boss whose original version destroyed entire servers by requiring top guilds to steal about 4 guilds worth of main tanks and then shitting all over their own loot systems by defaulting all gear to said tanks so that maybe the fight would last longer than the intro speech. But hey man, Nefarian was COOL.

Ok guys I got an idea. People liked Onyxia, right? And they liked Nefarian, right? Ok guys listen. Guys. We will make the end boss Onyxia and Nefarian but BEAST. Ok imagine how cool it would be if Onyxia was an ELECTRICAL ZOMBIE ok and Nefarian was BEAST with blood dripping off his jowls. And then remember that awesome part of the original fight where certain classes would get called out and their abilities used against them? Yeah let's not do that, and instead make some adds. Ok guys we will make these ADDS that need to be TANKED and they will be these skeletons from Scholomance but BEAST.

There is a team at Blizzard that eats caviar and wears expensive suits to meetings and discusses good ideas that they have. Here's an excerpt of a meeting:

Wings on My BACK Legs

Ok the first time I killed Onyxia it involved a man named Glamdring the Foe-Hammer praying for us in Spanish and then somehow wedging himself UP the wall of the whelp cave where he managed to get out of combat and just repeatedly resurrect whoever died. The current version can be defeated by a potato taped to the keyboard. And people STILL manage to fuck it up and not switch targets correctly, and she explodes and kills everyone. Because you know, these days exploding for a trillion damage is the only way to actually ensure that the fight ends, because otherwise people just keep slip n' sliding in their own drool banging their heads against the keyboard with 3 people alive and saying "keep going we almost got this" Bake-style.

I exaggerate a little of course, for the most part encounters were refreshing and well designed, with a good amount of what Alex the Flying Camel would call "digging deep". Here is a rare photograph of Alex the Flying Camel in his early years, when he operating out of the Middle East with Brock:

Please Ignore the Crane

And Al'Akir was certainly a fun fight. Here's a brief synopsis of how our kill attempt went:

We start on what is essentially a floating pizza, several people to a slice. A line of tornadoes sweeps across the platform, picking up Quasi because she is from Alabama, the natural enemy of tornadoes, and Squade, because he's high. Then it starts to rain. Out of nowhere a giant T-REX appears and lands among us. Alex has only time to glance up and mutter "clever girl" before he is eaten whole. Then Nora the long-neck yells (well, types furiously I guess) "THAT WAS MY MOTHER" and BITES the T-REX in the leg but he just laughs because Nora is a plant-eater and doesn't have very sharp teeth and then he's like "I will break your cuffs!" and he's backing up getting ready to charge and we're all baby dinosaurs holding onto each other BUT he backs up too far and into a beeping ROBOT AIRPLANE that is actually Ost and before he is pureed by the propeller he poops out something shaped like a camel but it's actually Alex and we have our friend back.

And we start BITING and SCRITCHING Al'Akir and then a giant man wearing wind chimes appears in the sky and the man is actually Mordral and we are standing on his raid pizza and he is VERY angry so he TAKES the pizza and we are falling BUT then Kalecgos is flying overhead and he's like "I HAVE CHANNELED MY POWER INTO THESE ORBS" and then Nevvy appears and clicks an orb even though I told him not to and turns into a dragon and we land on his back. Then Illside flies in on the back of GusGus the flying cat and riding on Illside's back is Brock and he has a comb and a Canadian quarter and a VERY ironic mustache and GusGus is vomiting and pooping coins everywhere.

And then I'm like "GUYS WE ALMOST GOT THIS DIG DEEP" but translated into the language of the raiders it sounds like "bark bark moo" and Roo crushes a pool ball with his anus and Toland crushes a pool ball with his cloaca* and the boss is at 1% and then we all get knocked back and stunned and killed and he's like "IS THIS IT MORTALS? IS THIS ALL THE FURY YOU CAN MUSTER?" and then he starts channeling a meteor that will destroy the world because his mother was an alien and he was an experiment and just as it's about to finish Bake appears and he's like "I will do it, I will take the ring into Mordor" and KICKS Al'Akir and interrupts the cast and Yukomo flies in riding on the back of Peppars who is actually a crocodile and ok you seeeee him wearing 6 stolen shirts and Yuko is like =^_^= and resurrects us all and we kill the boss and Kain spends the next several hours hopping around Orgrimmar wearing nothing but fur handcuffs and a buttplug-tail because that's what he was forced to promise in order for the boss to die.

(Note to readers: the above passage was written some time before we actually killed Al'Akir, and indeed before I even read the fight, so there might be one or two minor inaccuracies concerning the exact encounter mechanics).

* Cloaca: noun. What birds (including owls) poop out of. Essentially a bird butt. When writing this segment Toland was not available for consultation so I had to actually google "bird butt".

In other guild news, Qim and Tevar gave birth. Well Qim did the birthing mostly I guess, the way I hear it Tevar was standing nearby and trying not to look and thinking "oh god 10 centimeters is a lot wider than it looked like on paper please let this end soon".

The best part is that they play with speakers on. This means that at some point that child will begin to act out some of the things that I must threaten raiders with in order for bosses to go down, which will make for some VERY awkward conversations around the dinner table. The day she tugs on Qim's skirt and says "Mommy, what's a reacharound? I heard the computer man that fights dragons say it" my entire career will be justified.

In retrospect it's actually better that it took us a while to kill the last few bosses of this raid tier, otherwise the end of this update would fall right about here and to extend it I'd have to pull out stories from PAX, which consist of very convoluted and layered inside jokes about tall men in berets and women's sweaters that roughly 3 people actually understand.

Speaking of PAX, the one in Boston happened while we were working on bosses (and by working on bosses I mean myself repeatedly screaming "WHY AM I #1 ON TENTACLE METERS AGAIN" over and over in officer chat while the others begged me to not gkick innocent core raiders as a means to inspire people to not play like shit).

Anyway a bunch of us went to Boston, which is much closer to New York than Seattle, which means that we have the LUXURY travel option where we drive a car there in 4 hours instead of spending the whole day flying in planes and arguing with airport security about how I should have the right to be groped by a female TSA agent instead of a male one. Of course some of our colleagues opted to save $3 by taking the Fun Dong bus instead, where there was roughly a 50/50 chance that somebody attempted to use them as a toilet.

Ok so anyway, a few days prior you get the hotel room list and it reads:

Room 2:

Steve H
Samba (staying illegally, do not let hotel staff see him)

Two nights later you come to the room. Steve is completely unclothed, laying sprawled across the bed on top of the sheets and hence exposed. This is due to our ongoing battle with hotel thermostats, which we cannot figure out how to operate properly: on most nights the air conditioning somehow ends up on and set to high, so blankets become a rare commodity over which Dan and I end up fighting battles in our sleep. This particular night, Steve REALLY thought hard and outdid himself and made sure we wouldn't have the same problem again by setting the thermostat to about 95 degrees. He then proceeded to fully disrobe to better adjust himself to the steaming jungle habitat that he created.

The other bed is occupied by Dan, the PAX media badge that he refuses to remove tangled about his neck and partially constricting oxygen intake. He is speaking in tongues. As you approach his eyes SNAP open, and without a word he jumps a full foot into the air and runs out into the hallway and attempts to exit the hotel through a 15th story window because he believes himself to be Batman and the hero this city deserves. This does not surprise you, because you are by this point used to Dan transforming from a professional journalist into a raving lunatic somewhere between the hours of 7 and 9pm on a daily basis. In fact, you realize that you have not actually ever heard him say or do anything coherent after darkness fell. Which is unsettling, but instead of being unsettled you simply set the thermostat to a cooler setting and go to sleep.

Except that the colder temperature has roused other creatures in the room, and then on multiple occasions you see Samba, wearing a bedsheet, attempt to SLITHER up from the floor onto the bed and you are forced to fend him off with an umbrella and cane while loudly exclaiming "I say good DAY sir!" in the accent of Reginald's People. Around this time Dan, who through constant tossing and turning and ROLLING has completed the transformation into a human burrito, begins screaming in his sleep in Hebrew.

Also you realize that you have to poop, but the toilet is clogged. And not just clogged such that you can add a few logs without much trouble, I mean the whole bowl is a SOLID mass of stool and tissue with a layer of muddy water on top and flowing outwards and the lid closed to make the whole thing a surprise.

Simple enough, give the hotel staff a call and they'll come plumb it right quick. Except that when they walk into the room the first thing they will see is Steve's grundle, followed by a caterpillar in a straitjacket having a seizure on the bed and an illegal Fifth Guest somewhere on the floor breathing in the darkness and watching for those on the beds to let down their defenses.

So basically, that toilet is staying the way it is and your log is sliding to the front of your colon at an alarming rate. Basically, "fuck".


Then you come back home, and back to raiding, and are politely informed that half your raiding roster disappeared. And those that quit are goddamned PROUD of it, and take every opportunity to inform you much better their lives are and how they have so much more free time to do the things they've always wanted to do like sit around in Google Chat for hours on end screaming at each other in what they believe to be Japanese:

Frank: hai
Dan: oh hai
Frank: HAI! kawaiiiiiiiiii nanneuuuuusan

And then you collect some fresh recruits, and re-explain the encounters, and then fail because all 3 tanks are halfway up the damage meters. And people are pissed off because of the fail, and start blaming interrupters, ON A FIGHT THAT DOESN'T HAVE INTERRUPTS, and then you attempt to clarify that the problem is with DPS and you show them a graph but to them it looks like this:

Woof Bark Bark

Then at some point the raid gods take pity on our souls and the DPS is actually really good but then THAT GUY gets a yellow arrow and stands in the raid and we have what I like to call a "butt cleaning". And you WISH, you PRAY that it was one of the new guys that has an excuse but no, the new guys all execute the mechanics perfectly and the person responsible was someone who had been doing it since day 1 and has been raiding for roughly 7 years.

And then when yelled at they say something glorious like "sorry i was on the phone for your whole explanation" and I become aware of a low humming in my brain as I get closer to aneurysm. "The explanation was for the new guys that have never done this," I say but then I realize that the man I am speaking to has actually forgotten how the fight works and who he even IS because he has a degenerative brain disorder caused by eating his own poop as a child.

And then I try to make it as simple as possible, I give people shapes and use a pizza slice analogy to better communicate what "please spread out" means. Then of course one of our cadets stands JUST slightly off center and lightning bounces sideways and this invigorates and inspires the lightning and it continues to arc about halfway around the platform leaving only small puddles of voided bowels where a raider just stood. And if I feel a small trickle of poop when I see that, I can only imagine my less patient colleagues like Mordral hovering near the ceiling of their apartments on a steady jet stream of stool.

And then I very calmly ask the cadet responsible to help me understand WHY this lightning situation happened, and they begin saying something about trying to outsmart tornadoes.

Remember kids: when you start trying to outsmart the encounter you end up outsmarting YOURSELF.

And before long you're on the Fung Pee bus to Dragon land, that way you can afford the Bamboo Root Honey Dipped Duck Roll "55" with FRESH sprouts.