The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


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Wait, can you do that?

Remember Bernie Madoff? Well, apparently, the Mets are getting sued, and it’s all his fault. Oh the Mets. You make everything funnier!

Now, dig me. My understanding is that the Mets didn’t defraud anybody here, unless you count the people who believed they were a baseball team and not some type of postmodern comedy troupe. The Mets invested with Madoff just like everybody else. Apparently the crime they committed that they’re being sued for is… making money on their investment. So a bunch of assholes who lost money are apparently trying to get the government to club dollars out of the Mets.

I want in on this.


January 28th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball, Bullshit | no comments

Meanwhile, on "World of Warcraft"

So apparently the rest of Hyjal is a bunch of weird disjointed foolery where you fly off someplace, do three or four quests for a big dead dog, and then fly somewhere else to do three or four quests for like a giant turtle. Then you get a neat cliffhanger about "accidentally" loosing a powerful demon, but… nobody really seems to care about that, and it doesn’t go anywhere.

Here’s the deal. You need to resurrect this ancient dead dog, bird, and turtle because I guess you can’t beat Ragnaros without them. For… some reason. Once you’re done with that, you play a minigame and get a small pet! What is the minigame? Something completely original that I’d never played before in my life. Once you have the small pet, you take a large endless detour into a very brown place and infiltrate the Twilight’s Hammer for what seems like four years. That culminates in another minigame and a cutscene, and then it’s off into the portal to fight Ragnaros!

Fighting Ragnaros seems like it would be awesome, but really you’re mostly watching Cenarius and a cow and Nelfurion Stormrage fight him. Occasionally you’re given the task of getting an add off of Nelfurion so he can keep up the deeps without having to deal with pushback. That’s really about it. I mean, you can go ahead and fight Rag, but here’s an interesting chart:

Recount — report on four targets
Cenarius — 134000 DPS
Nelfurion Stormrage — 86000 DPS
Some cow dude — 86000 DPS
Lysistrate — lol wut

I swear that’s exactly what it said.

Once you beat Ragnaros, you go back out of the portal and then Ysera comes over and is all "Thanks Link! You’re the hero of Hyjal!" and that’s it for that zone.

Because I’m nothing if not a ruthless iconoclast, I liked Deepholm a lot better. Here’s the deal. You go through this portal by completing the quest I may have bitched about last time and it takes you to the Maelstrom where Thrall is standing on a big rock in his bag lady outfit and channeling a spell. Apparently it’s the "make the world not fall apart" spell, because Thrall really needed to be more transparently a Jesus figure. So what would you do if you found yourself suddenly transported to a dude who is single-handedly keeping the world from exploding through the sheer awesomeness of his concentration? Yeah, me too: talk to the fucker. Talking to Thrall triggers a scene where you get on a griffon and fly through the Maelstrom into Deepholm, which is the elemental plane of earth. It’s pretty intense — you get on the bird, and the orc lady who’s taxiing you around because you’re kind of a big deal starts pumping you up for your descent into the giant sparking insane whirlpool by telling you how it’s going to be a really intense trip, and you might not be tough enough to withstand it, but, hey, only one way to find out. Seriously, she warns you for like eleven minutes about how dangerous and exciting this is going to be, and then you dip into the whirlpool, and… oh my god! A loading screen!

When the dangerous, exciting loading screen is over, you’re in Deepholm being congratulated on your stamina. So good job with that. But all is not well in the land of the free and the holm of the deep! Apparently the world pillar was busted into three pieces. What’s the world pillar you ask? Well, it’s the thing that keeps the ceiling from caving in, which I guess would have the odd effect of making the ground fall up. I didn’t really follow this part, because I was too focused on a very interesting fact: all three pieces of the world pillar were recovered by factions with a vested interest in repairing the world pillar. The Earthen Ring has one, the non-ring-related Earthen have one, and Therazane herself has one. And all these three parties, despite the fact that they’re all completely fucked if the ground falls up, have elected to hide their pillar fragments in remote locations and absolutely not, under any circumstances, bring them to the damn temple so the pillar can get rebuilt.

Ground people are fucking stupid.

So then you have to travel around the zone fighting crime to convince these factions to become a teensy bit less suicidal so you can fix the world. The actual quest structure is pretty fun; you solve a spoooooky mystery, then you go swimming in a river of mercury, which, let me tell you, doesn’t seem very intelligent. Then you murder the leaders of the Twilight’s Hammer in this zone, and fight a big scary dragon. Then you save the king of the Earthen from what appears to be a totally uninteresting trogg. Then you go into a cave and get eaten alive by giant hula hoop worms over and over and over and fucking over again. Then you feed petrified bats to a baby rock elemental to prove to the big rock elementals that you’re swell. Then — and it’s gotten pretty stupid by this point — finally there’s a big war and one of the main bad guys gets away, but it’s okay because she’ll be back like two quests later and you get to kill her then. Then some dude dies, and I think it’s supposed to be poignant, but I really wasn’t sure who it was, and this big fat dirt woman was shaking her oddly frightening bodice in my direction and telling me I was welcome to stay as long as I wanted, at which point I got really really scared and left.

I went to Vashj’ir, but I forgot to do anything while I was there. Mainly I spent four years trying to figure out if I was doing something wrong, since I turned in the breadcrumb, and the guy was all "yeah, go get on the boat," but there was no boat to get on. Turns out I wasn’t doing anything wrong; it just takes about forever for the boat to show up. You can pass the time listening to the flavour text the guards blurt out (which has lousy voiceovers, thank god) if you want, but it’s not interesting. You get on the boat, and then Budd jumps off the boat for some reason I really can’t figure out, and then you all get eaten by a squid and die.

Once you’re done being dead, you learn to breathe underwater, and then, if you’re anything like me, you head straight up to the surface and start flying because there are naga down there and you risk slipping into a coma and never coming back out. About halfway to the Earthen Ring quartermaster is a random rock jutting out of the ocean with a flight master on it. That man has what must be the worst job in the world. "Here, stand on this rock in the middle of the ocean and just like wait for people to come by who might need a ride. And clean up after the griffons."

So that’s my experience so far. Tune in next time and I’ll complain about Uldum!


January 27th, 2011 Posted by | World of Warcraft | no comments

Toeing the party line

Ever find yourself thinking "man, what my team should do is hire all the rejects from teams that were pretty good a few years ago?" Yes, Ned Colletti, we know you do. Ned, at least, has an excuse: he’s a retard. So, Jon Greenberg, what’s your excuse?

Cubs fans need some Rays of hope
Reaction to offseason moves has been mixed, but Garza, Pena bring winning attitudes

Oh. Same as Ned’s, then.

How optimistic were the teeming masses at Cubs Convention on Friday night?

Well, for one, they cheered Carlos Zambrano’s entourage.

While I think they might have confused one of the bigger guys with Carlos Silva, that’s another sign of unfettered enthusiasm: They cheered a guy who kind of looked like Carlos Silva.

I guess this is what passes for biting wit in baseball journalism these days. Almost makes you look forward to the awful analysis.

I only popped into the convention kickoff rally to see who the fans booed, because I’m a jerk like that.

Then your article’s obsolete, because Andy Dolan’s already written it better.

With traditional target Larry Rothschild chilling in Tampa, owner Tom Ricketts got off with polite applause, even after curiously repeating Jerry Krause’s apocryphal line about "organizations win championships," while team president Crane Kenney got a mix of boos and crickets chirping. General manager Jim Hendry got some cheers, but mostly boos, which is unfortunate considering the bang-up job he did this offseason.

Have you spotted it? The point where this article began its shift away from too-cool cynicism and toward fanboy cheerleading?

That notwithstanding, it’s nice to hear that Cubs fans — even the crazy fanatics who attend the Cubs convention — are bright enough not to cheer for Crane. Who is awful.

Because this is an event attended by the most rabid of die-hard fans — the kind of people who believe a tucked-in Greg Maddux jersey equals steppin’ out clothes — the players all got raucous applause, even Zambrano, who was the target of the fans’ ire last season until his final stretch, which was after everyone stopped paying attention.

Whoa, these idiots wear Cubs jerseys? To the Cubs convention? How positively uncouth! I personally would wear only the most ironic $30 t-shirt with my True Religion jeans.

Kerry Wood got the kind of applause that Silva gets when he enters an a la carte steakhouse.

Oof. That joke sucked all the air out of my living room.

For all the fun I make of it, the Cubs Convention — and next week’s SoxFest — is a welcome sign because it means baseball is around the corner, and talking to the Cubs on Friday made me slightly sanguine about the club’s chances. After all, as Big Z himself reminded us, 2010 is over.

You’re more than slightly sanguine, Martha. You’re downright vermillion.

I don’t think the so-called curse will be lifted in 2011, but I think the Cubs will be more likable than you might think.

Nice attempt to eat your curse and have it too, asshole. Notice how smirking and ironic I am? I said so-called curse! That’s how you know I’m too hip to believe in things like that. Now that that’s settled, I’ll talk about it like it’s a real thing anyway.

And two of the main reasons are the newest Cubs, Matt Garza and Carlos Pena. Along with part-time poet, full-time outfielder Fernando Perez — "He can really fly. He might be the fastest guy in baseball," Hendry said — Garza and Pena can bring a little bit of the winning tradition of the Tampa Bay Rays to musty Chicago.

The Rays have a winning "tradition?" They’ve been good twice. I mean, ever, in all of history. Part of the reason they’ve been good is that they’ve gotten very adept at casting off aging, expensive players and getting a lot of good, cheap, young players in return. The Cubs are attempting to emulate this strategy by sending good, cheap, young players to the Rays in exchange for expensive, aging players. I don’t see how this plan could fail.

And let’s talk about Fernando Perez. His major-league career looks like this: .234 / .301 / .351 / .652, 72 OPS+. TZ, DRS, and UZR all agree that he’s been excellent, but he hasn’t had enough chances yet for them to stabilise; we’re talking like 54 career plays. Marc Hulet wrote about him in 2009 that "Perez strikes out too much for a player with modest power (.106 ISO at triple-A in ’08), although he does a reasonable job of getting on base via the walk. If he were to play everyday, Perez could reach 30-40 steals. His 0.8 career WAR is tied almost solely to his defensive abilities."

Also, as for all that speed, his career line is 5 SB and 2 CS. That’s pretty bad, though, honestly, it’s seven attempts. That ain’t much of much.

Point is: let’s hope you’re wrong and he’s not a full-time outfielder at all.

They’re different personalities — Garza is intense and self-admittedly "goofy" and good citizen Pena has a burgeoning reputation as one of the "good guys" in the game. Both are capable of bolstering with good vibes and good play.

Well thank god they have vibes. I asked Ozzie Guillen, and he says things like that are very important. You might want to proofread a bit more closely, though, because you accidentally snuck in a bit about baseball ability there at the end.

The fact the public response to the Pena signing and the Garza trade was mixed shows how little faith the fan base has in Hendry’s stewardship.

What it shows is that $10 million was a massive overpay for Carlos Peña, and that everybody in the world knows that. Derrek Lee — you remember him, he’s the much-better first baseman the Cubs got rid of so they could sign Peña — signed with the Orioles for $6 million. Manny Ramirez, who could probably field 1B about as well as Peña, signed with the Rays for $2 million. All three of these players have one thing in common: they’re all coming off the worst full season of their careers. Here are their numbers for that season. You tell me which one of them the Cubs just signed for more money than both of the others got combined:

Player X: 320 PA, .298 / .409 / .460 / .870, 138 OPS+, 1.5 WAR
Player Y: 626 PA, .260 / .347 / .428 / .774, 103 OPS+, 1.5 WAR
Player Z: 582 PA, .196 / .325 / .407 / .732, 102 OPS+, 1.1 WAR

Can’t figure it out? Here’s a hint: check any of the BA, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, or WAR columns. He’s the one who’s lowest in all of them. Oh, and I lied a little bit: this was not the worst season of Carlos Peña’s career. This season was about average. So really, Martha, it’s hard to fault Cubs fans for not having much faith in Hendry’s stewardship.

The concern with Pena is mostly due to an anemic batting average that has dropped precipitously the past four years, going from .282 to .196.

Well, no. It’s mostly due to an anemic everything that has always been pretty poor except in 2007. Seriously. Here he is. He was awesome in 2007. He was pretty good in 2008 and 2009. He was the armpit of ass every other year. 2010 was actually better than any year he had before 2007.

While most fans know average is an overhyped stat, .196 is still .196.

Sure. Batting average is massively overvalued. But you’re right: it’s really, really hard to be good for a great goddamn if you’re only hitting .196. I guess if you’re Barry Bonds and you walked 232 times, and then every single one of your hits was a crazy moonshot, you’d still be good. Carlos Peña didn’t do that. He walked 87 times and hit 28 home runs, which was enough to bring his offense up to "valuable." It was not enough to justify paying him $10 million.

But more importantly, to me anyway, he’s averaged 36 home runs and 102 RBIs in that span. I know RBIs are a flawed stat as well, but I always like a guy who can drive runners in — call me old-fashioned.

How about, instead of that, I call you an idiot. RBIs is not a "flawed" stat. It is a meaningless stat. It is a stat so heavily polluted with external influences that it really tells you just about nothing about the player it supposedly rates. Carlos Peña will not be hitting behind Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria this year. He will be hitting behind, I don’t know, probably Kosuke Fukudome and Blake DeWitt instead. Ergo, his RBIs will go down. Is this really so hard to understand? I guess it is, if one is a dimwit.

Garza looked like he was going to be Hendry’s white whale until the GM struck a deal with Tampa Bay to send a group of prospects, headlined by pitcher Chris Archer, to the Rays for him.

This deal wasn’t awful. I don’t love it, since I think the attempt to compete this year is ill-starred, and I’d rather see the Cubs hold on to some prospects or maybe trade them for position players instead of more starting pitching, but it wasn’t awful.

While Garza, a fastball-heavy hurler, is coming off a career-high 15 wins and a solid 3.91 ERA and 1.251 WHIP, he’s a little wild, in more ways than one.

Hey Trog, this is the future calling. We don’t need to rely on shit like wins and guessing when we evaluate a pitcher. Matt Garza’s FIP in 2010 was 4.42 — almost a half-run jump. It’s the highest FIP he’s posted since 2006, and it is cause for concern. It happened because his strikeouts were down and his home runs were up. Let me repeat that last part for you:

Matt Garza’s home runs were up in 2010. Why do we care about this? Because he’s moving from Tropicana Field, which suppresses home runs (0.936 in 2010), to Wrigley Field, which is a giant goofy band-box (1.134 in 2010). A pitcher already experiencing home run problems moving to a park that increases home runs is something to worry about.

For instance, like Zambrano, he’s both fought his catcher during a game and thrown a no-hitter. But Garza also was the MVP of the 2008 American League Championship Series.

What? For instance, like Stairs, his first name is Matt and he throws right-handed. But Stairs is also the all-time leader in career pinch-hit home runs.

Pena talked about how fun it is to watch Garza pitch, even from first base, and Perez, who has a good shot to make the club as a reserve outfielder, agreed.

Well thank god Hendo finally found a guy who’s fun to watch from first base. That’s really been dragging the Cubs down for years.

"Matt is an amazing competitor, he’s really, really fun to watch," Perez said on ESPN 1000 last week.

We get it. From first base, he’s super fun to watch. Those of us not inclined to be standing on first base at the time would prefer somebody more boring who maybe doesn’t give up quite so many home runs.

"He doesn’t really have the modern athlete’s indifference to what’s going on, just trying to be cool out there. He’s a pitcher; he’s kind of a throwback pitcher, that’s what we decided."

The major problems that have plagued the Cubs for the last hundred years:

• Pitchers are not enough fun to watch from first base
• Players are too concerned with their appearance
• Not white enough

Wood saw a little of Garza in the AL the past two years, and is thrilled to have him aboard. And as you know, Wood’s stamp of approval is better than Good Housekeeping’s.

I get it, but, really, how often does a reporter ask an athlete what he thinks of a new teammate and not hear something like that? Does anybody ever bitch?

"Hey, Stephen Drew, the Diamondbacks just traded for Armando Galarraga. What do you think about that?"

"Fuck that guy. Total shitbox. Why didn’t we get Cliff Lee instead? First chance I get, I’ma pants him during his windup."

"He’s going to get into a groove and some guys are going to be in awe what he’s capable of doing," Wood said.

Now, you know I love Woody as much as the next guy. So I’ll just call this "charmingly ham-fisted." Some guys are going to be in awe!

Since I’m less in love with Matt Garza, I’ll pick on him more for his nonsense babble:

"I come to the park with a smile on my face and leave the park with a smile on my face. There’s not a better job in the world to be doing. Everybody wants to do this, everybody wants to do this, but everybody wants to be a ballplayer."

Fuck the heck, Matt Garza? Are you freestyling?

There’s plenty of time to fret about the bullpen or the hole in Pena’s swing in the coming months, but for now bask in the cheer of guys who have never been booed off the field on a sunny day at Wrigley Field. To them, joining the Cubs is an opportunity to win.

Sure, hey, I’m happy for Carlos Peña. He got like three times his market value. I’d take it if somebody offered it to me. But it came out of my team’s pocket. That’s a quantity of resources — both in dollars and in roster space — that the Cubs no longer have to spend on other things. So you’ll forgive me if my overwhelming joy for Carlos’ windfall doesn’t prevent me from being annoyed that the Cubs paid him so goddamn much money.

Don’t laugh. Because anything really is possible in baseball. Just ask the guys who made a World Series with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Excellent. End your post with dipshit nihilism. Anything could happen! So just act at random and hope it works!

The Tampa Bay Rays got to the World Series by doing the exact opposite of that. They painstakingly maximised the value of every dollar they spent, since they had so few to work with. I mean, Jonah Keri’s upcoming book no doubt explains this a lot better than I can, on account of Jonah Keri is 400% more awesome than I am.

As soon as they invent numbers I can use to describe how awful your banalysis (like that? I portmanteau’d that shit up just for you, Martha) is, I’ll be sure to fill you in.


January 25th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Badness confirmation

Toronto is eating $5M of Wells’ remaning $86M. The Angels just made a horrible trade. This is funny to me. Here’s Kevin Kaduk trying to rationalise it:

It’s not really fair to call Angels’ GM Tony Reagins a sucker for sending Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera back to the Blue Jays, because Wells (when he’s healthy, as he was in 2010) is a very good hitter. Not many can hit 31 homers and 44 doubles, as Wells did this past season.

Wells hit 15 homers and 37 doubles in 2009, and he was healthy to the tune of: he played one more game than he did in 2010. His OPS+ was 86. Good for an incredible 0.3 WAR — just over replacement level. Pretty much everybody can do that, Kevin; that’s what replacement level means. But the Angels will be paying him a very not-replacement-level-y $23 million for the privilege. Hell, even last year, when he was actually good, he was only worth 3.4 WAR — just about enough to make him worth the $15.7M he got paid last year. Not good enough for $23M.

Of course, then there’s this to consider:

Napoli, a first baseman/catcher who will make at least $5.3 million in 2011 depending on arbitration results, can be just as effective at the plate as Wells. His career adjusted OPS (on-base plus slugging) is 118; Wells’ is 108. Napoli is three years younger, too.

Oh. So why isn’t it fair to call Tony Reagins a sucker, then? This trade was awful. Reagins traded a superior player and like a fourth outfielder for a massively expensive guy who isn’t any good. That’s what I would call a sucker move. Especially since, if I’m reading you right here:

Wells also won three Gold Gloves in center, but his defense has been in decline (note his Total Zone rating and UZR/150 rating since 2006). He’ll probably be fine in left field in Anaheim.

the Angels plan to put Wells in left, which will pretty much explode any value he may have, most of which is derived from the fact that he puts up his crappy numbers in center.

So, yeah, not seeing how it’s unfair to call Tony Reagins a sucker. He just made the worst move I’ve seen made in a long time.


January 22nd, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Also

The White Sox extended Ozzie Crazypants for another season. Kenny Williams:

It is my hope that we can get refocused on some of the positive energy we’ve had in the past and we can extend the relationship into the end of his career and the end of mine

I’m also hoping this new extension leads to the end of both of your careers, Kenny.


January 21st, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Breaking news: Angels to make worst trade ever, in history!

The magic of the interwebs has tubed me to the fact that the Angels just traded pretty-good catcher Mike Napoli and sort-of-hokay outfielder Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays for mediocre and hugely overpaid 32-year-old Vernon Wells. Napoli himself is a really good bet to be more valuable than Wells, and, if you don’t recall, the Jays got a second player also.

The real key to this deal, of course, is how much of Wells’ contract the Angels picked up. Because Vernon Wells has one of the worst contracts in baseball, as he himself recently admitted. Initial speculation about this deal had it as Wells-for-Napoli, and then the Jays send salary relief. This whole "Angels add another player and Jays add apparently nothing" angle is new. Bank on it: if the Angels are eating Wells’ entire contract, this is the worst trade since Brian Sabean shipped Fransisco Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser to the Twinkies for one season of washed-up A.J. Pierzynski (A.J.’s total value to the Giants: 0 WAR. Total value of the package the Twins received: who knows, since Liriano’s still their ace and Nathan’s still their closer. Value to date: 27.8 WAR.)


January 21st, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Los Angeles racism bites Milton Bradley in the ass

That’s how I imagine he’d like to spin his recent arrest and subsequent release on $50k bail, allegedly for violating California penal code section 422, dealing with "any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person."

Now, first of all, yeah, that law is pretty nuts. So I can sympathise with Milton there. A year in jail and $50k bail for telling somebody you’re going to break his face off? I’ve violated that law like six times already today. And, just in case you’re thinking it wouldn’t apply to me, since I was only kidding in 65% of those cases, it applies to any threat "even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out." So there’s basically no burden of proof. If the dude you allegedly threatened was scared, boom. A year in prison. Fuck your first amendment, pinko.

On the other hand, though… Milton, Milton, Milton. Are you ever going to learn to keep your crazy face shut?

And, on the gripping hand, lol@Mariners.


January 19th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

The post whose name shall not be spoken

So I applied for this job a while back as a baseball analyst for Fangraphs — which I had no expectations of getting, mind you, but, hey, e-mail’s free. And, sure enough, I didn’t get it. The more interesting thing to me is the guy they did hire instead of me: Jonah Keri.

I gotta say, guys, you made the right goddamn decision. If I had the option, I’d fire me from writing for this site and hire Jonah Keri instead. Jonah Keri is one of my favourite baseball writers. Today, he’s written this article about the A’s; at least, it’s about the A’s at first, and then sort of degenerates into theorising about defense and park effects at the end. Which is something I like about Keri — he’s not afraid to wander. I appreciate that.


January 17th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | no comments

Hyjal

So finally my fancy-pants rogue has finished level 80, and I’ve decided to drag her ass into the brand-new Cataclysm content. Now I’m going to bitch about it. This post should be considered one giant fat spoiler, so if, just to take a random example, your priest is level 75, and you haven’t done any of this stuff yet, because, as I say, your priest — say, just for the sake of argument, your gnome priest — is still only level 75, you might want to put off reading this post until you’ve gotten your gnome priest called Allegretta to level 80 and actually done this content. But all of that is purely hypothetical.

So the first thing I did was head back to Ironforge to pick up the breadcrumb for Hyjal from the big goofy breadcrumb board they added to get around actually having to make proper linking quests between the zones. Actually, that’s a lie; the first thing I did was decide that I was going to Hyjal and not Vashj’ir. Those of you who are Hamirack might be of the opinion that something you said once or twice may have impacted this decision; I say not so! It certainly reinforced my decision, but this decision was made in the first place because the name "Vashj" is a name that is known to me. Naga put me to sleep, and zones full of nothing but naga have the curious effect of putting me to sleep and simultaneously instilling a murderous rage into me, such that I might kill some people while I’m sleeping and be totally unaware that I did it. So, just like Ken Parks did, I’ll save Vashj’ir for when my in-laws are in town.

So I pick up the breadcrumb off the breadboard, and it tells me to talk to Cenarion Emissary Jademoon and she’ll nelf me to Hyjal. Sweet! She’s right down the hall — she’s the old Silithus breadcrumb mob they added in 1.12, right by the flight master. Only, since Blizzard hates all things that are good and decent, they decided to randomly relocate her. All the way to goddamn Stormwind.

Which I guess was okay, since I had to go there anyhow to train Master Riding so I can go faster than a speeding bullet. I fly in there, and the instant I cross the zone border, one of those OMG A MOB HAS BEAMED YOU A QUEST FROM MAGIC popups happens. Turns out there’s this broken over in the weird new lake who has a quest he wants me to do! Sure thing, man, I can get over to you really fast now! So I get here and he’s like, whoa, wait, talk to this orb. It’s sweet. So I talk to the orb, and a big dumb cutscene starts playing!

But not right away. First — for some reason, and hell if I know why — it has to teleport me to the Maelstrom. So I have to wait through a zone loading screen, and then I see me standing on a featureless purple plane for just a second — which is probably a normally-inaccessible location they added specifically to teleport people to while they watch this cutscene, and it wasn’t actually supposed to be visible to the end-user. But I vis-ed it nonetheless. Then the cutscene starts up, and some dude is ranting at me in a macho voice about some shit; I think he was talking about shutting down the Mako reactors before Weapon comes to kill us. All I know for sure is that he mentioned a bigger threat even than Deathwing on the horizon; how much you want to bet it’s retuned level 85 C’Thun?

Eventually, while I was listening to this talky man, I realised that he was Thrall in what appeared to be a goofy burlap sack with a hood. What gives with that terrible getup, Thrall? And why won’t the camera stop spinning around? If it would sit still, it wouldn’t have taken me six minutes to nail your nameplate and figure out who you are. But anyhow, I guess it was a hokay hook as these things go, and I was kind of interested in heading down to back Thrall up. Then the cutscene ends and I turn in the intro and the broken is like "oh we need a hero just like you thank god you’re here you’re so famous and perfect and exactly what we need" and then he puts up a goddamn silver exclamation mark. So, hey, they were hoping I would get there soon, because I’m the only one who can help them! But I’m not high enough level. Great. That’s inspirational. Dear Blizz: maybe raise the level on the goofy cutscene quest too, because that’s kind of a huge ripoff the way you have it now.

So fine. I go find Jademoon — who is in some goofy open-topped room in the castle, which I guess is designed to facilitate flying mounts and too bad for you if it ever rains, Jademoon — and she nelfs me to Moonglade, where they tell me to jump on this green dragon who will fly me up to Hyjal. But what really happens is I jump on the green dragon, he starts flying for a few seconds, and then he kind of stops, and — poof! Suddenly we’re in Hyjal! Returning to the tournament grounds after doing Edge of Winter really really makes me wish my mount could do that. So we fly into Hyjal and he starts ranting about how he can’t believe the camp they built right on the edge of a giant lake of lava got destroyed by the evil lava elementals, which makes me think right off the bat that maybe my allies ain’t the very sharpest cheese on the block. Then we fly over to the evil lava fort, which looks as much like Barad-dûr as to make no difference, complete with giant goofy flaming eye on top. Then suddenly Ragnaros busts out of the lava and yells "BY FIRE BE PURGED!," which made me spit cognac out my nose. So here’s me, on a tiny little green drake, sitting right in front of Ragnaros, and then Deathwing pops in to say hi too. And so we start flapping away — I guess the dragon’s magic teleport button is on cooldown — and I’m thinking, hey stupid, if we get out of melee range of Ragnaros he’ll start spamming Magma Blast on us, and I ain’t wearing my FR gear! But I guess the two giant raid bosses were just dicking with us, since neither of them lifted a finger to stop us from getting away.

So we fly across the whole zone to Nordrassil, which looks really different from how it did before. Also, I’ve been all around the Nordrassil area, and I don’t see the old Onyxia’s Lair copy that used to be right there. Bummer!

Apparently Nordrassil’s a druid-y quest hub now, and contains Ysera. This seems very odd to me, since, last I checked, Ysera was trapped in the Emerald Dream. When did she get out? To be fair, I missed the entire 3.3.x cycle — did it happen then? Or in a damn comic book, maybe? Other big changes that happened since I left: St. Faghelm became a bad guy. Well, I mean, he was always a complete prick, but I guess sometime in between Wrath and Cataclysm he became an actual villain. This relatively major plot point did happen entirely in a comic book. Am I the only one who thinks it would be nice if things like this were handled — or at least, like, cursorily alluded to — in-game for the benefit of those of us who primarily play the game via playing the damn game? For those keeping score: no, I am not as upset about this as I am about HEY THE KING’S BACK.

So about how the zone actually plays. First off: it’s way, way fucking hard. I mean, sure, for a character who’d actually played the full Lich King cycle and had like ilvl 250 gear or whatever, probably not that big a jump. But for somebody leveling from scratch, it’s rough. The two initial quests — to kill dang-blasted rock elementals and also some invisible mans — kicked my ass quite handily. But I toughed through them, and now I’m starting to accumulate actual gear, and the curve is leveling off. The actual structure of the zone so far I don’t care for; not only is it super-crowded because everybody’s stupid worgen and goblin goth knights have just gotten there (seriously, I think I was the only player in the zone who wasn’t a goth knight), it’s also jam-packed with friendly mobs interfering with my questing too. I miss the days when the mobs I had to kill were just, like, out in the field, not being attacked by ten thousand good-guy mobs.

So of course Nelfurion Stormrage is here. I cannot stand when this guy lectures me about the importance of preserving balance in nature and saving the whales and where he scored some really great weed the other day; dude, you are the only person I can think of offhand who has blown up the world not once but twice. Not to mention you are also responsible for the destruction of the World Tree, the end of your race’s blessing of immortality, and basically everything the scourge has ever done, since, if you’ll recall, you’re the guy who stopped Illidan from destroying the Lich King and then went to take a big damn nap. So maybe don’t get your sanctimonious ass up in my face about how I need to do what’s best for the world.

Baron Geddon’s here, too! Sweet! It’s been a long damn time since I’ve been killed by that guy. Back in the day, I always got killed by Baron Geddon because somebody in the raid was nub and staring at his damage meters instead of paying any attention, and blew us all up. These days, apparently I get killed by Baron Geddon because I’m nub and landed right next to him to use the quest gizmo, but flew in just too late to catch the bit where the mouthy mob standing near him announced that everybody should get away, and ended up eating the thick end of a 5000 DPS Hellfire.

It’s good to see that they’ve added garbage voice acting to the quest text. I don’t think the game experience is complete without some terrible ham enunciating every word meticulously and something like one-ninth as quickly as I could just read it. Also amusing is that you can tell which quests are "important" and which quests are "padding," because only the important quests get garbage voice-overs.

So there you are: a Large Blue Sack of old moaning. Don’t say I never did anything for you.


January 15th, 2011 Posted by | World of Warcraft | one comment

John Green has more balls than everyone you have ever met all put together and that’s a fact, Jack

I don’t really have an article to go along with that lede. I only hope I can be as rational and intelligent under extreme duress as he is.


January 11th, 2011 Posted by | Bullshit | no comments