Friday, November 15, 2019

Let's Talk About Addons [WoW Classic]

Let's talk a bit about addons shall we?

Oftentimes when I have thought about going back to playing WoW (before Classic was announced), one of the main things that held me back was thinking about all the addons that I would need to install and get into shape before being able to play. The mere thought of going "naked" into retail barely even crossed my mind and that's even knowing that Blizzard had implemented a great deal of the addons I used to use into their own UI.

Fast forward a bit and Classic was announced and suddenly my brain goes all puritan - now I want to experience the game with as few addons as possible!

But that doesn't mean I don't need a couple though… Technically you don't need any addon to play the game of course, and I did play it completely addon free for several weeks before I caved in.

Unrelated picture of me playing.

There will always be some addons that I will never* install. A quest addon is one such addon. While I do occasionally google a quest here and there, having help with every one of them feels like it robs a bit of the fun out of the game. I enjoy reading the quest text and having to think for a bit for myself, at least for the most part. Some times the quest text is so damn vague I wonder if the whole idea was to actually go have me run all over Barrens to find that one dude hiding in a hovel somewhere. Probably. There are points to that as well - more experience as you fight your way through areas and a good way to discover places you maybe wouldn't go to otherwise.

It didn't take long before I realized that just as there are addons I really wouldn't want to use, there are addons I really wouldn't want to play without this time around as well. And it all comes down to one of three things. Either it's an addon that gives me information about something that I really think the game should already provide me with. Or it speeds up a process I often use. Or it's just for fun. And considering I used to use somewhere around 30-40 addons back in the day, the four I've settled on so far feel like nothing.

Let's get the "for fun" addon out of the way - Recount. Yeah, I like to see how much damage people do. It's not just about peen-measuring, I actually use it to test the efficiency of skills and rotations that I use. If I see someone doing good damage I like to pore over their stats to see if I can learn something from it. I try not to be that person who links damage meters in chat every two seconds and I think I've succeeded pretty well.


Now for the information ones - VendorPrice and ClassicAuras.

VendorPrice: Classic has a combination of facts that in themselves aren't a problem, but combined become quite the issue. At least for me. Firstly, you don't really have much bag space. And secondly, everything seems to drop a ton of crap. Every murloc has the possibility to drop Murloc Eye, Murloc Fin, Shiny Scales, Shells and other stuff. Kill a couple and your bag will very quickly be filled with loads of things that is everything from grey to green (and even blue if you're lucky!). You will have to prioritize, ie throw things out, unless you want to run back to some vendor and unload every fifteen minutes. But how do you know what to throw? Is a 5 stack of Murloc Eyes worth more than a 10 stack of Sharp Claws? I don't know! And after having played a couple of weeks not knowing I decided money was hard enough to come by as it is without me literally throwing it away. So I got an addon that does nothing but show me the vendor value of items. That also allows me to see if it's even worth putting that stack of Linen Cloth on the Auction House, when the going price is just coppers above what the vendor gives me for it anyway...

I don't want an addon that tells me how much things are going for on the Auction House though, which might seem odd. For some reason I don't mind having to find that out for myself, and besides, the prices can fluctuate so much there that in the end that's probably what I would have to do anyway.

Spiders also drop a lot of crap.

ClassicAuras: Classic also has a big problem in that it doesn't show you the time left on your debuffs on your target. The fact that it doesn't actually absolutely baffles me and feels like straight up bad design. You might think, as I am guessing the designers did, that there isn't more to it than just looking at your target and seeing when the debuff runs out. That quickly becomes completely impractical when you've got more than one target, or even worse, another class using the same debuffs as you. Partying with another warlock is a nightmare when I no longer can tell if that is my Immolate on the target or not! I shudder to think how this works in raids...

Then the one that speed up some things - Clique

Back in the day I used to pair Clique with Vuhdo for some easy healing, because the in-game raid frames are frankly just... not good. At least they weren't back then. Since I only do lowbie dungeons now I have settled with Clique, at least for now. It allows me to bind my spells to clicks with my mouse, so that shift-right click does a certain heal on my target for instance. The default way is to click a target and then choose one of your heals in your bar. Clique not only saves me time since I choose spell and target at the same time, but it also saves slots on the action bar since I don't need to have my spells on there (I usually do anyway though, just in case). It just makes healing so much more practical, which doesn't matter much when you do lowbie dungeons but it makes a ton of difference when you're raiding difficult bosses. So now I'm so used to it I really don't like doing it the original way. (Clique has an issue in Classic though in that it can't distinguish between different ranks of spells).

I have a big wish for an addon to add... on... to this list here though. That is AutoBar. It's an action bar that auto-updates with contents from my bag. For instance it would automatically update with a Healthstone if I have one in my bag, or automatically put up any food in my bag. What I have to do now is locate any food in my bag every time I want to eat, or swap it out on my action bars as I get new types. It's just a little handy thing that doesn't make you a better player or anything, just saves a lot of hassle.

And that's it. For now. I know for sure I will get more addons because that is just how these things go. You tell yourself that one addon won't hurt. Then there is another. And another. And suddenly you're sitting there with 40 addons and wondering how the heck that happened and still you couldn't get yourself to turn off a single one. But I think I am still some ways off that yet.

What addons are crucial to your gameplay?

*never say never though.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

I Just Got My First Ignore [WoW Classic]

After harping on about how nice everything is in WoW Classic I guess it is only fair that I share an encounter I had with someone that clearly wasn't having a very good day.

My bf tricked me into going to Loch Modan with my level 18 paladin, when I realized I was too low level for most quests in Redridge and didn't really know where else to go. I say "tricked" because I don't like Loch Modan and I also outleveled a lot of the quests there.

After I had a successful group to kill Chok'sul, which is almost a story worthy telling in itself seeing that we pulled four elites on a group of three and still got out of it alive (well I wasn't but the other two were), I ended up running around and passed a Peacebloom.

I've decided to go for gathering professions on my paladin because I suck at collecting money otherwise and so I stopped to get the Peacebloom. I also really fancied some cake. I had been thinking about it for a while but didn't want to run off mid-elite-killing. So I started picking the flower and went to get cake thinking I'd auto-loot as usual. I was gone less than a minute. Apparently I had full bags, so when I came back my character was still in the loot window. No biggie I thought.

But oh no, there was a biggie.

I noticed someone had apparently run past me while I was kneeling there next to the Peacebloom and said "Either loot it or don't".

I could've just left it at that. Maybe I should've. But I like talking and for some reason I thought it could start a fun conversation, since people are generally nice and easy to talk to.

"Sorry, I went afk while looting and apparently had full bags" I told the person through whisper.

"Who goes afk while looting" they answer.

"Someone who really wants cake" I wanted to answer.

But they had ignored me.

Ignored me! Over a Peacebloom!

But it gets better. When I shift-clicked them to see their level I noticed their guild name - "No Offense Taken". Fighting over a Peacebloom. Some times, comedy just writes itself.

So I've just gotten my first (that I know of) ignore in WoW Classic, but I'll definitely try to step up and loot my herbs a lot faster from now on.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Field Report #26 - The Shamanistic Ordeal

I got the closest I've ever been to a dungeon run that was not great the other night. After having done some tanking and dpsing I also got the urge to do some healing. I pondered the different classes and decided on a shaman. I pondered levelling as a dps and healing in dungeons, similarly to what I am doing with my tank, but felt like I wanted to try actually being resto. So then I decided against questing because questing as a resto shaman just seemed too horrible.

So there we have set the stage for my run in Wailing Caverns. I had turned 18 and done several very successful runs in RFC. I thought I would be able to heal a group through WC without too much trouble. I was only partially correct.

Happy Halloween by the way.

We got there and I immediately notice that the (level 20 warrior) tank didn't pull back with the raptors. Anyone who has done a run in WC knows that it is usually a bad idea not to, but I didn't really have time to react to before we suddenly had several more mobs on us. And when I say "us" I really mean "me".

I don't blame the tank for anything but failing to pull the mobs back, and maybe he was new to the instance, so that's fine.  In the end it didn't matter because we made it through the overpull anyway.
Then the rogue speaks up. "Ey healer. Stop pulling all those extra mobs".

Eh, I'm sorry?

Ok, so we have another person who has never been to Wailing Caverns before apparently. It was true that I was low level (though not even the lowest level in the group). And because the mobs come running from afar they run to me first since I get aggro through my healing. I can see how the rogue put two and two together and assumed I was the problem. No biggie, let's just set the record straight.

I pointed out the emote in the chat and explained the mechanic. But the rogue refused to believe me. He claimed he had already done several runs without any issue. I didn't want to throw blame on the tank so I just said "fine, I'll stay all the way back here and we'll see what happens".

To no surprise, the raptors still came running. And they didn't just attack me. What was a surprise though, after I pointed it out the rogue actually responded with "I might have been wrong". Someone admitting they were wrong on the interwebs? That's as rare as a unicorn. But that is now the closest I have been to what could've turned into an angry run, and it wasn't very close at all. Classic is still showing itself at its best side, and the players playing it as well.

Speaking of shaman healing though...

Before level 20 when I get Lesser Healing Wave it is a whole lot of spamming Healing Wave! And unless you count throwing out the occasional Stoneskin/Strength of Earth totem that is literally the only thing I am doing (I interrupt some times too I guess). And since someone (yeah, me) decided levelling solely through instances was a good idea it's just been Healing Waves all over this place for the last four levels. Level 14-18 doesn't sound like it should take that long, but when all you do is press one button over and over it's unsurprisingly quite dull.

So why not just go quest? Good question. I've levelled my orc warrior and undead warlock pretty simultaneously, meaning I've done a quest on the one character and then gone and done the same quest on the other character (for the most part, the warlock did Stonetalon Mountains which the warrior has not). The thought of doing all those quests again on my troll shaman really didn't appeal to me. And especially not since I was going to go all resto.

For a short moment I thought about doing the quests in Tirisfal and Silverpine because I love those areas so much, but then I remembered that there is no shaman trainer over there so then the prospect of going back and forth every two levels to train didn't sound particularly fun either.

I am level 19 now. Next up is the horrendous Water Totem Quest at level 20 (if I remember correctly) and I'll get both Lesser Healing Wave and Healing Stream Totem. That's not bad. It'll give me a few more tools to work with.

Interestingly enough though, my ordeal with my resto shaman has made me come through whatever blockage I had regarding playing a healing priest (Heal! Shields! Renews! Lesser Heals! So many fun things!). So yeah, I am also leveling one of those now - a dwarf, because for now I've had enough of the horde areas for a while.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Star Trek: First Contact - Review

First Contact has always had a special place in my heart. I am pretty sure it was my first Star Trek movie and if I wasn't a Star Trek nerd before that, First Contact definitely made me into one. It had been a while since I last rewatched it and for some reason I noticed I seemed to be postponing it. Some part of me was worried (and still is) that I could never do it proper justice, but another part of me also worried that maybe my tastes had changed and I wouldn't enjoy it so much anymore.

Well, let's just say that the latter definitely didn't turn out to be an issue. When the credits started rolling I was literally thinking to myself "this movie is damn near perfect". So yeah, this movie is damn near perfect and the following review is basically just going to be me explaining to you why I think so.

As an anecdote, I find that First Contact has many similarities to the James Bond movie Golden Eye. It too was the first movie with a new lead and they're both absolutely amazing. But then something happens and the remaining movies with that cast are just nowhere near as good (still highly entertaining though). 

I'm going to try to lay out the general idea I have for why this movie works so well before I go into details about the actual story;
First Contact, knowingly or unknowingly, borrows some of the winning concepts from earlier Star Trek movies. Firstly it continues a fan favorite arc from the TV-series (just like Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan), namely the Locutus arc where Jean-Luc Picard gets assimilated into the Borg collective. Just like Star Trek II, it sees the Star Trek crew revisiting one of the better antagonists in the series.
Secondly it uses another fan favorite in the time travelling concept. This allows the crew to revisit a past part of Earth just like in Star Trek IV: A Voyage Home. While this part of Earth isn't the exact same as our own, it is definitely a lot closer to us than to the future the TNG crew comes from and allows "us" to be part of the Star Trek universe in the same way that made Star Trek IV so interesting and fun to watch.

Other things this movie gets right;
  • The pacing is absolutely perfect. We get thrown into the heat of the story immediately and the movie keeps our interest throughout without just throwing things randomly at the screen. What happens constantly moves the story forward and we neither feel like scenes are needlessly added nor that we've missed out on vital information.
  • They've done the exact right choice when deciding what characters to focus on and how much space their character development should get in the story. First Contact focuses almost entirely on Picard and Data, arguably the only two interesting characters in TNG, but manages to squeeze in just enough of everyone in the rest of the crew that it doesn't seem like Picard and Data practically work alone (something the earlier Star Trek movies definitely struggle with).
  • By splitting the setting to "the crew on the ship" and "the crew on Earth" they manage to fill the movie with both one part that is humorous and one part that is tense and action-filled without these parts getting in the way of each other or feeling disjointed. Instead these parts run next to each other absolutely seamlessly and logically.

The movie starts with what could either be called one of the duller intro's I've ever seen or more optimistically described as an intro that doesn't try to wow you with silly effects. After a few minutes of names appearing over a blue smoke we see Picard having nightmares about the Borg. When an admiral Hayes contacts him he already knows that the Borg have come to Federation space to Borg everything up.

I could probably write a whole essay on what make the Borg such great enemies too.

I absolutely love the non-f*ckery about this. The movie starts and bam, we're literally right into the shit hitting the fan. The Borg are here to mess you up and everyone watching know what a big problem this is. Straight from the first minute we are fully invested and on our toes about how this is going to go down. Similarly to A Voyage Home it is fairly soon going to be apparent that all of this is only going to be an excuse to set up the time travelling part of the story, and this "back in our own time again" part of the story is never going to get resolved (within this run-time). After having watched it you might still have questions, but you'll be so satisfied with the self-contained part of the movie that you don't care.

Because Picard has been part of the collective the Starfleet doesn't really trust him around the Borg anymore and send him and the rest of Enterprise E to guard some sort of border with the Romulans. Everyone else in the crew agree that those orders are absolutely bonkers and to be fair it doesn't really make sense to leave one of the best ships in Starfleet out of what probably is one of the most defining fights of the Federation just because you don't trust the captain. Surely you would just remove the captain in that case and not the entire ship?

It doesn't take too long for Picard to say "screw this" and go to help the rest of the fleet. With his special inside-knowledge of the Borg (something you'd think Starfleet would've been keen on getting their hands on rather than sending him off to some border somewhere) he manages to unite what is left of the fleet to destroy the Borg cube that is threatening Earth. At this point it's not entirely clear why there is only one cube and where the rest of the Borgs are and that will never be explained later either (see point I made above). We get a short cameo of the Defiant from DS9, captained by Worf who moves onto the Enterprise when the Defiant is put out of use.

Unfortunately not.

A sphere breaks out of the exploding cube however and quickly moves towards Earth. The Enterprise goes into pursuit and the sphere disappears into a temporal rift into Earth's past. Enterprise is stuck in the temporal wake, manages to catch up to the sphere and destroy it, but not before it managed to fire off some shots towards the surface. Now they set out to find out what the sphere tried to do in this specific time period, which turns out to be 2063, very closely to the time and date of "first contact" ie when humans made their first faster-than-light-speed flight and caught the attention of some Vulcans who happened to be passing through our otherwise insignificant Solar System.

Apparently the Borgs had been trying to prevent this from happening because that would leave the humans in a completely different position in the future. Possibly, probably, there wouldn't be a Federation the way we know it at all. It's interesting to note however though, that since the Borg work under the principle of "adding your distinctiveness to our own", crippling and throwing the culture you're about to assimilate back hundreds of years technologically and scientifically seems like a counter-productive thing to do. The Borg are changing the humans so they'll be easier to assimilate, but in the process they're removing pretty much everything that made the humans worth assimilating in the first place (the fact that Borg don't bother with civilizations too underdeveloped has been established at this point afaik).

Picard takes Data and Crusher down with him to see what damage the Borg caused and this makes total sense - you bring the doctor for the wounded and the walking computer for the possibly damaged old-timey spaceship. While Crusher takes care of some wounded, Data and Picard move towards the missile silo where the rocket-gone-spaceship is being stored. Inside they are being shot at by an associate of Zefram Cochrane, but wait - I've forgotten to introduce Cochrane so far. Don't worry, I know you all know who he is and the movie doesn't make this mistake either. While the movie doesn't immediately tell us the significance of the "random" humans we get to see on the planet surface when the sphere attacks, it's quickly explained that one of them is none other than the inventor of faster than lightspeed-flight Zefram Cochrane.

Picard fails to assure the associate, named Lily, of their non-hostile intent and Data decides to take a different approach in a great scene. He jumps straight down some thirty meters and further confuses Lily when he is completely unharmed by her bullets. She faints and it turns out it was only partially because of shock, she's also suffered severe radiation poisoning and is taken onto the Enterprise by Crusher. This way the movie logically sets up and moves into the next part - the return of the Borg.

Lily (Alfre Woodard) - One of the better side-characters

On board the Enterprise some people have noticed that the climate control seems to be malfunctioning and the heat has slowly gone up. I wonder what that could be about!? Picard spider-senses (aka Borg-implant sense) that something is wrong and asks Worf if something is amiss onboard the ship. When he is notified about the changed temperature, he immediately decides to return to the ship while Riker, Troi and Laforge go down to the surface to oversee the repairs to the rocket and to find Cochrane who has gone missing.

We're about a third into the movie and now it smoothly transitions from what has so far been a fairly standard setup into the two-pronged story-line that I find truly makes this movie so well designed and fun to watch. On the one front we follow the crew on the surface who are trying to deal with an unwilling Cochrane, giving us a slower and more humorous pace. On the other front we get Picard and Data (and Lily) trying to deal with the Borg threat on the Enterprise, giving us suspense and action. The greatness is not just that the setup delivers on so many aspects of Star Trek, but that they harmonize so well together, running next to eachother throughout the remainder of the movie without detracting from eachother or confusing the viewer. I can't emphasize enough how well this works even though they are completely different in style, the crew on the surface have no idea what is going on aboard the Enterprise until the very end. Both the writing and the editing is absolutely superb here.

Like I mentioned the focus in First Contact is definitely on Data and Picard, and I don't mind because I find most of the rest of the crew to be walking blocks of wood with one character trait attached to them. It is credit to this movie then that what little we do get to see of the other crew really works for them. Why couldn't the writing have been this interesting for the TNG series? Troi manages to find Cochrane who, off-screen, gets her to drink a lot of drinks. When Riker finds them both they are listening to much too loud music and Troi is drunk. It's a fun scene that Marina Sirtis pulls off greatly. When they decide to tell the truth to Cochrane he responds with "You people are all astronauts on some kind of... star trek?". Lovely.

Zefram (James Cromwell) is well played too.

Oh, and I haven't said anything about it yet but the effects are really cool in this movie. They're so good in fact I've written the comment "cool effects" twice in my notes. One of the best ones, though I am jumping ahead of myself a bit here, is when the Borg Queen torso gets attached to the rest of her body, it looks practically flawless. For a movie from 1996 it looks exceptional.

So speaking of Borg then, back on the Enterprise it seems like the Borg managed to beam themselves off the sphere and onto the Enterprise just before it was destroyed. They've made themselves comfortable on deck 16 and are, as they're known to do, slowly assimilating their way through the crew. After some running around and losing track of each other, Picard ends up with Lily and Data ends up with the Borg Queen. One of my favorite scenes in the entire movie is when Picard tries to explain the situation to Lily who not only has no knowledge of the Borg but also has to quickly get accustomed to the fact that she is running around on a starship from the future. She exclaims "Borg? Sounds Swedish.". Then as they run into the Borg she corrects herself, "definitely not Swedish!". To me as a Swede this joke really hit home and I remember the entire movie theater bursting out laughing.

Data also gets a lot of good scenes with the Borg Queen, who seems fascinated by him. The emotion chip that Data implants in the previous movie gets a lot of use here as the Borg Queen grafts skin onto Data to let him feel both pleasure and pain. Sexy stuff is sort of insinuated, they definitely share a kiss, and overall their shared screen time together is great. They're so different, yet so similar (both being semi-humans seeking perfection in their own ways), and that is pretty much what the Borg Queen seems to think as well. Yet again everything is superbly delivered by Brent Spiner and Alice Krige who play Data and the Borg Queen respectively. She uses the emotion chip to break down Data's will, or at least so she thinks. But I am getting ahead of myself again.

How un-Borg. But what is Borg anyway? I have so many questions!

Picard finds out that the Borg are trying to rebuild the deflector dish into a subspace transponder, allowing them to hail the Borg of that time (though they are still in the Delta Quadrant) to come to Earth and mess things up. Cue another great scene where Picard, Worf and random red-shirt person who will die, gear up to go onto the outside of the ship to see if they can throw a spanner in the Borg works. They do it by literally removing the entire deflector dish from the ship, and the scene where the Borg, still working on the dish like nothing has happened, slowly float out into space is just brilliant and hilarious. There is a great attention to detail all over this movie too - when they put down their weapons at one point in the scene you can hear the click when the weapons magnetize on the hull, explaining why they don't just float out into space. The soundscape when they walk out onto the hull reminded me a lot of TMP too, which is a big plus in my book.

Speaking of weapons and the Borg though, there is something that doesn't really make sense in this movie. It's been well established at this point that the Borg adapt to any kind of energy weapons once they've taken a couple of shots. Throughout the movie we see how Worf tells Picard that he's remodulated the weapons to allow them to get a couple of more shots off. Then every now and then we get to see some hand to hand combat, and a scene where Picard shoots down some Borg in the holo-deck with some holo-bullets (which should count as energy weapons really). Overall it's portraid like the regular weapons aren't very useful and physical weapons work a lot better. So why not always use them? Equip everyone with a Bat'leth or a Magnum pistol and suddenly the Borg will have a lot harder time adapting, I'm sure. Maybe this is explained somewhere in the Star Trek lore, but it's not explained in this movie.

Back on Earth Cochrane is starting to feel that the whole thing is getting all too much. Laforge tells him about Universities named after him, statues raised for him and so on. Cochrane admits later on that he only did any of this for the money (and naked ladies that would come with the money) in a scene that adds a lot to the Cochrane character. Overall they've managed to make all the characters feel a lot more real and human than they generally do in TNG, something that series really struggles with if you ask me. All the main characters in the movie get their own little character development scene where we get to see that they are multi-faceted and not perfect. I've mentioned Cochrane's and I'll get to Data's.

Worf suggests to Picard that they destroy the Enterprise and that way they'll get rid of all the Borg in one hit. Picard refuses and calls Worf a coward for trying to end the Borg battle the easy way. Worf is, understandably and understatingly, not amused but since the captain has said no, no one continues to question him even though they all agree that he is wrong. No one except Lily, remember her? The associate from Earth who found herself on the future starship infested with cyborg-alien. She straight up calls Picard "Captain Ahab" and after some back and forth shouting Picard gets the hint. He is taking things too personally. It's a great and believable scene, especially if you have seen the underlying story arc from the TV series.

She ain't sugarcoating it.

Picard starts the self-destruct sequence and in the meantime another countdown has started down on Earth - the rocket is ready to launch and make itself known to the Vulcans. These two plotlines have been running parallell to each other and now they're about to fuse together again, seamlessly. But it's not over yet. Picard realizes that Data is in trouble and sets out to save him. The Borg Queen realizes that the rocket is about to do a fly by and decides to shoot it down. The stakes are still high as we move into the final act.

Picard comes upon the Borg Queen in the engine room, where all the scenes between her and Data have taken place as well. Picard offers himself in exchange for Data to allow Data to escape while Picard keeps the Queen busy during the counting down for self-destruct (silently), but it seems like Data has already been converted to the Borg Queen's cause as he goes to set off some torpedoes aimed at the rocket that Laforge, Riker and Cochrane are in. They meanwhile have no idea that they are about to be blown out of the sky. They think the Enterprise have moved in closer to give them a send-off, as they still don't know about the Borg on board.

The shots are fired, everyone is holding their breath... and they miss. Data has tricked the Borg Queen into believing he was now on her side, instead he breaks open a couple of plasma conduits (something that was hinted at earlier in the movie) and as the plasma pours out onto the floor Picard and Borg Queen try to flee onto higher ground. The Borg Queen clings onto Picard when Data emerges from the plasma clouds and pulls the Queen down. Her organic compounds become destroyed, destroying her in the process. It's another great scene showcasing some really well made special effects. Data, who has had human skin grafted onto his arm and face now looks like something out of Terminator. And all that is left of the Borg Queen once the plasma has been vented is a twitching metal skull with spine. It's exactly the climax and finale this movie deserved and it is so well done. (And then Picard runs back to cancel self-destruct, of course).

Maybe this is the evolution of the T800?

Then we get the finale of the other storyline as well and it is equally good. We get two great finales in this movie! Cochranes FTL rocket has gotten the attention of the Vulcans and they land on Earth to speak to him. This is First Contact. It happens in 2063. I could possibly be alive then (I'd be 78). This point, while suitably low in tone in the movie, holds so much weight and significance to us as viewers and fans because it started everything. From this point on we've followed so much of what this fictional humanity becomes, and we've loved (almost) every second of it. I starts right there in that scene. Watching it is just so... cool.

But… the germs? How do they talk without translators? So many questions!

And that pretty much sums up this movie. It's cool. It makes the right choices, from the start and all the way throughout. When I was 11 or whatever, watching it for the first time in the cinema I was absolutely awe-struck by how entertaining this movie was. Now that I am *ahem* somewhat older and have watched it a couple of times more, I can really revel in all the details that come together to make this movie so... dang... good. It might not be perfect in the sense that it has some plot holes and leaves some questions open (like what happened to the Borg invasion back in their own time?) - but just like A Voyage Home you don't notice, and if you do you don't care, because the things that matter are the things that work. It makes sense, it looks cool, it is action, it is funny and it is everything that is great about Star Trek.

First Contact is probably my favorite Star Trek movie. I'll throw in a caveat that my nostalgia-goggles may tint my impression of it some still after all this time (nostalgia tends to get stronger over time anyway when I think of it). But rewatching it I had an absolute blast and when the credits were rolling I was genuinely thinking "you know what, I could watch all of that again right now". I might not be a huge fan of TNG, but I'll always love them for giving me this.

Images from,,,, and

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Field Report #25 - Who Needs Tanks and Priests?

No Tank
Interestingly enough I find there seems to be as much lack of healers as there is tanks when I am trying to group up in WoW Classic. This might be a bit skewed by the fact that I often play a tank and thus I spend more time looking for a healer than a tank. But as I've mentioned before, my experience of grouping for dungeons has so far been a positive one. This didn't change when I tried to get a group for Shadowfang Keep on my level 23 warlock the other night.

We did in fact find a healer but could not find a tank. I was worried the group would dissolve, but instead the healer asked the high-leveled rogue (27) if he'd be interested in tanking, saying that he himself was up to the task of healing him in that case. At first I was at least mildly concerned at the prospect of having a rogue tank, but when I remembered I could use my voidwalker as a back-up tank I thought it could, if nothing else, turn out to be an interesting experiment. The last time I tried to tank an instance without an actual tank was something like Botanica in Burning Crusade (we used a voidwalker back then too, as Demonology warlocks were pretty broken for a while).

SFK always makes me think of Tom Jones. It's a long story...

I pride myself in being pretty flexible with group setups and especially with group progress, as long as whatever is happening isn't due to anyone trying to ruin things. We decided to go along with our plan and recruited another dps for the final slot instead. It turned out to be another warlock, so equipped with one high-level character (the rest of us were around level 23-24) and soul stones/healthstones/pets worth of two warlocks we took on Shadowfang Keep.

And really had no issue getting through it. While the voidwalker isn't the best tank (especially not at keeping threat), the healer and the fact that we managed to generally spread out damage pretty evenly across the group, made sure we got through it fairly smoothly. We did one silly overpull where us two locks and the priest died, but because of soul stones we were quickly back on our feet without much slowdown.

Everyone was having a blast, we were joking around and I ended up on friends list and in their guild (it turned out the other four in the group were already guildies, I hadn't even noticed until the end!). Everyone was doing what they could to move forward, no one called anyone out for the few mistakes that were made. We genuinely congratulated each other when someone else got a gear drop and there even was a blue BoE drop that no one tried to ninja.

It tries its best though.

To me it was the essence of what makes WoW Classic so damn good. It was one of those times when you regain faith in humanity and remember that the vast majority of online players out there are not toxic a-holes, but nice people who are just looking to have a good time. While I know asshats reside in WoW Classic as well, it's just the way some people are and they'll turn up in any population, I've always found WoW in general has been fairly void of the worst kind. Maybe I've just been lucky, but the way some communities in other games have been described to me I just don't see that happening in WoW.

No Priest
For the 8 years during which I played a lot of WoW I mained a healing priest for almost all of that and I never stopped loving it. I started playing it about 9 months after I first started playing (early 2006) and enjoyed it through thick and thin. I also played a lot of alts, of which tanks and especially warrior tanks became another favorite of mine. Rogues were probably the class I enjoyed and played the least (actually, feral dps druid I probably played less, but I tanked a lot as a druid). Now that I've started playing WoW Classic I am currently enjoying my warlock the most but I'm interested in playing most of the other classes too.

Weirdly enough, I really have no desire to play a priest though, whether healing or dpsing (not that shadow priest is viable for much else than questing in Classic). I played other priest healers than my main before and enjoyed it just as much, but this time around… it just feels wrong. I'm not sure if it's fatigue, the fact that priest healer is the class I know by far the best even from Vanilla WoW or simply the fact that it just wouldn't be the same somehow.

It's a bit of a dilemma because I actually would really like to heal. But the thought of priest healing doesn't appeal to me. I never enjoyed druid healing much for whatever reason. That leaves paladin and shaman. Shaman is the one I've enjoyed the most out of those two, but the thought of a) levelling a resto shaman and b) some of the totems quests that you have to do are really putting me off.

Not even the totem likes the totem class quest.

I am nurturing this idea that I'll level only through instances, saving me having to quest as resto, only doing the bare minimum of quests (like abovementioned totem quests) but I am worried that I'll quickly be bored with doing the same instances over and over. We'll see what I end up doing, I am in no rush either way.

I also realize that if this is the biggest dilemma in my life right now I can consider myself quite lucky.

Meanwhile I am actually trying to not fall into the same trap as last time I played WoW, namely ignoring every other game out there. I really do want to play other games simultaneously, because if there is one thing that gives me existential angst it's the size of my backlog that I need to get through.

I am currently playing Resident Evil 2 remake Claire A (after completing Leon A) with the bf and also Jade Empire.

Jade Empire is one of those games I find quite meh but it's got flow enough to keep me playing at least. There are so many things about this game that are frustratingly close to being almost good that half the time I think I want to complete it just so I have a legitimate reason to write up a review of it, complaining about all these things. It's my intention to make that happen because I definitely have a lot to say about it. WoW Classic is not helping because it's difficult to motivate myself to play a barely engrossing game when the other option is one I thoroughly enjoy. Why do it then you might ask? Well because I want to check it off my list, simply! And write that review, like I said.

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