Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tin Foil Hat: The Titans Aren’t Dead

Throughout the Legion expansion, we have been recovering the Pillars of Creation, items used by the Titan’s keepers in the ancient past to shape Azoerth. We’ve also learned the Titans who gave those artifacts their power are dead, killed by their own champion, Sargeras.

But are the Titans dead? My own theory, to borrow a line from a famous philosopher, is the Titans are only dead “from a certain point of view”.

A simplified story

I think we’ve received a simplified version of the story; the same way a wise parent will simplify a horrific story for a child too young to comprehend it. We know that when the Titans died their essence came to Azeroth and inhabited the Keepers. Only Keeper Ra understood what had happened and it sent him into a deep malaise. The other Keepers couldn’t even process it.

But could being as colossal as a Titan’s have their entire essence housed in a Keeper? I think not. We are talking about the beings of such enormous size and power that they killed an Old God like we might swat a mosquito.  Not all their essence went into the Keepers. It couldn’t have. I think some of the Titan’s power infused into the planet itself and from there into its inhabitants, and it might have been Amun’thul’s plan all along.

We know the Titans scoured the universe for sleeping world souls. Like Sylvanas, they realized they had no way to produce more of their kind. They even called Azeroth “the Final Titan”. At that point, Amun’thul must have realized there would be no more Titans.

We are told that in the final battle with Sargeras, Norgannon wove a spell just before the Titans were destroyed. I don’t think Norgannon came up with that in the spur of the moment. A spell that powerful must have been prepared. We’ve seen from the Forge of Origination that the Titans loved fail safes and Azeroth itself may have been a final fail-safe for the Titans. Amun-Thul knew there was a real chance Sargeras would defeat them, and if he did, it would mean the entirety of Pantheon wasn’t enough. To save creation, they needed a larger, more powerful Pantheon. But Azeroth was the last world soul. There would be no more Titans, no additions to the Pantheon. The fundamental problem still existed.

How do you make new Titans?

Before their battle with Sargeras, Amun’thul worked with Nargannon to create a way to send the Titans essences to Azeroth. If the Pantheon defeated Sargeras, they won. If Sargeras defeated the Pantheon, he wouldn’t kill the Titans, he would free their essence to inhabit and power an army of heroes creating a new pantheon larger and more powerful than the first and one capable of defeating Sargeras once and for all.

The champions and heroes of Azeroth are the reincarnation of the Titans.

This is like the concept of the Bhaalspawn from Baldur's Gate. Spoiler alert for an 18 year old game but your character and all the enhanced individuals in Baldur's Gate are Bhaalspawn -- the mortal offspring of the now dead god Bhaal and females of various races.

We aren't the mortal offspring of the dead Titans but in the same way that Bhaal spread his ... err.. essence into Abeir-Toril, when the Titans died, their essence spread into Azeroth. Over time it coalesced in certain individuals. Sometimes it found a compatible spirit with a Titan forged like the Dwarf or Gnome. Other times it found a receptive host in a native being like an Elf or Troll. Even sentients from others worlds like the Draenei and Orcs possessed compatible spirits.

These Titan essences are what set our characters apart from the other ‘normal’ individuals on Azeroth. From our first adventures, we have been working to continue to better harness that Titan power within us, getting stronger and more powerful with each passing day.

Each Titan essence gives the hero a bent towards particular powers.  Those who have the essence of Eonar the Lifebinder become Holy Paladins, Disc/Holy Priests, Resto Druids, and Mistweavers. Norgannon’s spirit gave rise to all Mages, and Balance Druids. Khaz’goroth and Aggramar’s essence leads the adventure to becoming a physical DPS or tank. I couldn’t decide which one would fit. I think tanks fit Aggramar given his Pillar, but Prot Warriors carry a scale of Neltharion whose power came from Khaz'goroth. Golganneth’s essence powers all Shaman. Aman-Thul, like his Keeper Odyn, is the all father and all of Azeroth’s champions carry a tiny spark of him in them.

The Titan’s aren’t dead

They live on in each of us, and through us, they will again face off against their wayward brother Sargeras. Only this time, instead of five Titans, it will be an army of Azeroth’s mightiest heroes, and when that happens, Sargeras will fall.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Dearest Mylra (the Broken Shore and Demon Invasions)

Please note there major spoilers for the Alliance Broken Shore scenario contained in this blog post.


The King Returns

My Dearest Mylra,

I’m sure by now, even in Deepholm, you’ve heard of King Magni’s return. While it thrills me to see him moving again, I am relieved he is allowing the Council to remain ruling Ironforge. The last thing this world needs is another War of Three Hammers and you know better than anyone how my heart would be divided in a such a conflict. I could never stand against my fellow Bronzebeards, nor could I take up arms against your Wildhammers. With the Council still in place, it will not look odd or out of place for a Wildhammer and a Bronzebeard to be seen strolling together through the Commons.

It is hard to believe it has been four years since we first met far above the rocky surface of Deepholm. So much has happened in that time: the rediscovered of Pandaria, then the reopening of the Dark Portal and the battle against the Iron Horde and the Fel Horde. I know how angry you were each time I left and you didn’t hold back your elemental fire. All I can tell you is I did it for the good of Azeroth, and to protect the future that I pray to the Light we may one day have together. With Archimonde vanquished atop Hellfire Citadel, I returned to an Azeroth at peace. I even picked out a little spot near Farstrider Lodge on the edge of Loch Modan where we could build a house together. The Tram should be here soon to take me to Stormwind and from there to Deepholm.

I can't wait to see you again.

With all my love,

Theogrun Bronzebard

The Summons

My Dearest Mylra,

As I got off the Tram, I was handed a summons from Varian Wyrnn, the human king.

The Legion has returned to Azeroth.

A ship to take me to the Broken Isles is already prepared and I must leave at once. My mission to Deepholm, must, once again, wait. My fellow heroes and I will drive the Legion back to the Twisting Nether from whence they came and then you and I shall be together.

With all my love,

Theogrun Bronzebard


My Dearest Mylra,

I write this as we are recovering from the failed assault on the Broken Isles. We have lost so, so much. First, the Legion destroyed the Highlord right before my eyes. The Light that had saved him and protected him from Arthas atop Ice Crown Citadel proved impotent against the immense demon Gul’dan summoned. I can still hear his tortured cries for the Light as he fell. But even after losing Tirion, we pressed on and had gained the advantage. Victory was in sight. Varian called for the Horde archers to clear the skies, but nothing happened. As we looked to the place where they were stationed, they retreated! Looking up on that ridge, and watching the demons fill it to rain down all hell upon us, it was like reliving the betrayal at the Wrathgate. I could almost hear Putress’ voice. 

Wasn't the Wrathgate enough? Wasn’t Theramore enough? How many times are we going to trust the Horde and watch as they betray us? If it wasn’t clear to everyone by now that the Horde cannot be trusted, I don’t know what more it will take. We can’t spare the strength now with the Legion at our throat, but should I survive the coming campaign, I promise you this. when it is over, the Horde will receive justice.

Varian called for a retreat, but a great Fel machine grabbed our airship. As I slid towards its maw, I prepared myself, knowing I would never to see you again, but Varian lept from the gunship and cut the monstrosity down, sacrificing himself to save us.

 As a man who once lost his own King, I know something of what the humans are going through, but we have no time for sorrows, for now we prepare for the full Legion invasion. 

With all my love,

Theogrun Bronzebard


My Dearest Mylra,

After defeating a Legion incursion at Gadgetzan, I received news of another attack, this time at the Crossroads. I wondered if I should let the Legion just have the Crossroads. Give them Durotar and the Barrens for all I care.  I am saving Azeroth for the Alliance, not for those blood thirsty, backstabbing monsters. But, as quickly as the thought came, I knew it was wrong. We can give the Legion no quarter, not one spec of dirt on the whole of Azeroth to call their own -- even if it means saving a Horde settlement.

I fly north. May the Light and the Elements protect me.

With all my love,

Theogrun Bronzebard

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Tanks' Dilemma

You ever read something and identify with it -- like the person was telling you your own story. This  happened to me reading the comments on the Officer's Quarter post "The repentant quitter and the wandering officer" on Blizzard Watch.

User Fyresparxx said this:

Guild searching often makes me feel like a hooker. (Am I allowed to say that?) I want a mythic tank slot more than anything else. Those slots are really hard to come by. Which often makes me consider what I'm willing to do to get one. I've raided with guilds I actively dislike. I've put up with abusive environments and rampant guild drama. I've tolerated corrupt leadership. I consider joining guilds I know for a fact that I won't enjoy. But I want that tank slot. It's like a drug. I need it and I'll do just about anything to get it. 

I would say I feel more like a mercenary. I've never had any ambitions of being a Mythic raider, but I understand the craving for a tank spot all too well. I wouldn't call it a drug, but a choice. The Tank role happens to be the one I like the best, but the math works against me. If I wanted to heal, there are 4-6 spots in each raid. If I loved to DPS, well, you can always use another DPS, but whether it's a 10 or 30 man raid, there are two and only two tank spots. Two tanks, to be exact. And ixnay on the wishing for more tank spots. That's all. Two. Uno, dos. No substitutions, exchanges or refunds.

I think there is going to be tremendous social pressure on Tankadins, Brewmasters, and Guardians early on in the expansion. There are going to be a legion of new Demon Hunter tanks (see what I did there?). Demon Hunters, Warriors and DKs don't have a healing spec. With all specs (and dimensions and realities) open to us, I can see the following scenario happening with some regularity. The Avenger's assemble, err, I mean the raid assembles, and lo and behold, we're short a healer. We've got three capable tanks: a Brewmaster, a Vengeance Demon Hunter and a Protection Warrior. The Prot Warrior and the Vengeance Demon Hutner can't do anything but tank or DPS. The Brewmaster, though, can switch to Mistweaver and be our missing healer. Maybe he doesn't have his artifact leveled up, but with more gear than ever workable for multiple specs, a lesser healer is still better than no healer at all.

It puts the Brewmaster in an unenviable position. Either he goes Mistweaver or we don't raid tonight. Maybe he goes along with it for one night, but then it happens again. How many times does it happen before he's no longer a Brewmaster, but a Mistweaver, or before he starts casually looking through the Recruitment forums?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

[WoW] Legion Patch Day

Welcome to Patch Day!

It looks like a longer maintenance today (as expected) so if you need a suggestion passing the time, I'd start with reading up on the changes if you haven't already. I've got both a Protection and Retribution guide up on Blizzard Watch.

After that, I'd recommend the Legion comics. They are well done, and the Madefire Motion Book editions bring them to life with music and movement. My favorite was Fault Lines, but A Mountain Divided was solid as well.

Highmountain: A Mountain Divided
Nightborne: Twilight of Suramar
Magni: Fault Lines

I got pretty much everything done I wanted to last night before I logged off. I didn't make a huge amount of gold, but every little bit helps. I sent out the team on one last gold gathering mission. I'm assuming the rewards won't change for an active mission and I'll still get the gold for the last time. We'll see tonight.

One mount I've been able to use in Beta that I'm going to miss is the Champion's Treadblade. I'm tempted to save up and buy it on Live. With us being grounded again, it's all about the ground mounts for the foreseeable future in Legion.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to when I log in again is getting my bag space back. I'm a horrible packrat. I still have stuff like the Mudskunk Lure and the old Librams that we used back when we had a Relic slot. I'm sure for as long as I've been playing Honors, I'll have unlocked quite a few looks.

I imaging the Auction House will be overflowing with BoEs tomorrow. I've still got dozens of Salvage Crates to open and I don't have the first clue how I'll price the BoEs that come from them once I verify I don't need the appearance anymore.

Monday, July 18, 2016

[WoW] The Last Night of Warlords

Tonight is the last night before everything changes. I expect the servers will be somewhat unplayable tomorrow. The maintenance for these large patches often gets extended and then when the servers do come up, they can be a little unstable.

In preparation, I've been working on liquidating my Garrisons on my 4 'mains' : Honors, Kishuf, Theogrun and Rophe. I'm keeping more Primal Spirits and Garrison Resources on Honors because I'm still trying to level up his Jewelcrafting. Thank you to everyone on Blade's Edge selling near vendor priced Blackrock Ore. It's making leveling his profession much easier.

Blizzard Watch has a good guide on getting all the gold you can out of your Garrison before the patch. All 4 guys have dozens of Salvage Crates ready to go to unload all that sweet, sweet Transmog gear, but once again, having them scattered all over creation makes it more difficult. If I get a cool Plate item on my Tanaris toons, Honors on Blade's Edge can't use it. If I get anything other than cloth on Kishuf, he might as well sell it, but that's because he's my only Horde toon.

It is the same reason I'm still holding my Level 100 Boost. I'm pretty sure it will be a Monk, although given how ridiculously easy they are to level, I might go with Druid, but then I can't be a Dwarf. I have a max toon of every armor type except for Leather and Rogues and DHs don't appeal to me -- although like everyone else in creation, I'll make a DH, I think I'd have more fun playing a Monk or Druid. The biggest reason I'm holding the Boost is I'm still unsure what server to put him on. I'd love get all my max level toons on one server, well, except for Kishuf. It's just so blasted expensive, and then if anything happens to the guild, I'd have to move again and that's more expensive the more toons I have to move which is the biggest reason they are scattered all over creation to begin with. I know I won't be playing any of my alts anyway once Legion hits until Honors is kitted out for raids, so it doesn't make much sense to spend money to move them now. I'll be starting Legion at least 3 days late after we get back from Disney so there will be plenty of catch up to do.

I've got a Tankadin guide going up on the Blizzard Watch site Soon(TM). I was also asked to fill in for our Ret columnists which led to a marathon session of forums, You Tube and running around Beta as a Retribution. That guide will be up later today on Blizzard Watch.

I'm anticipating most of my addons will break on Patch Day, so I've taken the step of trimming down to a minimum. Auctioneer, Master Plan and DBM are about all I have loaded right now. I'll check on ElvUI after I patch to see what kind of shape it is in.

I've also been working on clearing out my quest log. Most of the quests I had were Lunarfall Inn quests to run various Heroics. I have to say I'm not a big fan of the new combined queues. Each time, I've been grouped with someone from the Latin America servers and while they have been good players, my utter lack of ability to speak their language has made communication difficult. Luckily, but also in some ways unfortunately, you don't need to communicate much to run Heroics in these late days of Warlords of Draenor.

The rest of my quests are all Tanaan. I'd like to keep working on those reputations as I pursue the "Beloved" title.

It feels like we've been waiting on the pre-Patch for a long time, but it is finally here.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Screens of Blue - The Update

My next task was to run Memtest86 and Check Disk. Both utilities reported no issues. That was the first bit of good news I had had from the computer in a while. At that point, the issue was narrowed down to either the video card or the motherboard. I ran down to a local 'chop shop' (that's what I call a store that sells computers and used computer parts). For $20, I was able to get both fans and a cheap video card (RADEON 4600 512MB).

I replaced the rear exhaust fan, but had some trouble getting the case off to access the front fan. I left that for later and kept the case open with a regular desk fan blowing in it. I replaced the video card, fired her up and installed the drivers. Word came up without an issue. Okay. I tried GiMP. No problems. No crashes, no blue screens.

That was already an improvement over what I had been getting. I took a deep breath and started testing my games. I started small with Hearthstone which should be less taxing on the video card than anything else. Hearthstone came up and I played a match (Tavern Brawl - I won!)

There was only one test left I wanted to perform. I needed to see if I could run WoW without a blue screen. In a few moments, I was looking at Honors' face in the load screen. I went ahead and loaded in and checked on my Garrison. The RADEON 4600 was really struggling. I was getting around 15 fps. I went into the video settings for WoW and turned it all the way down. That got frame rates up into the 40s until I went over to Tanaan. I'm not sure what they did in Tanaan but my frame rate dropped back to around 18 to 20fps. It's playable, but it's not something I'd want to do long term.

My main goal was to test if the video card was the issue or something on the motherboard. While I can't rule out that there might still be some issue lurking in the motherboard, everything I'm seeing points to the video card.

My current theory is that something caused the front and rear fans to stop working. It wasn't power because even with a new power supply they still wouldn't spin so it had to be mechanical. Either at the same time or because of fans stopped spinning, the power supply fan stopped spinning and the power supply overheated. Either the heat or bad voltage from the power supply damaged the DDR memory on my video card. Whenever the video card tried to access that part of RAM, it would blue screen.

The new GTX 1070s are running about $500, but I found a deal on Amazon for a new desktop AMD FX-6300 for about the same money. It's only got an R7 260, but that's still better than the RADEON 6870 I was running. That will get my computer up to the recommended specs for Legion and I won't have to worry there's some lurking issue on the motherboard I haven't found yet.

If I need to, in a year or so, I can save up some money again, and those fancy GTX 1070s I'm drooling over will (hopefully) come down to a more manageable price point and I can upgrade.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I See Screens of Blue

I was merrily doing my Garrison chores one fine evening when the screen changed to this wonderful technicolor display. The sound froze and then the screen turned blue and filled with a bunch of computerese. I recognized from the file name that one of my ATI RADEON dlls was the culprit. I shut down and restarted and everything came up fine. I chalked it up to a glitch and after a few moments started up WoW again.

When the blue screen returned, I knew I was in trouble. I dove into trying to figure out what was going on starting with the video card drivers. The card I have is a RADEON 6800 series and they stopped supporting it back in March, but I tried every driver available for it on the ATI website, even the beta ones. No driver I tried made any difference.

My next thought was to see if maybe, somehow the video card had become loose in the PCIe slot. I didn't how that could happen, but at that point, my main goal was "what", not "how". As soon as I touched the case, I knew I had much bigger problems. The outside metal of the case was hot, like the hood of your car right after you turn it off.

That led me to the fans. I opened the case to give me visibility on all the fans and fired up the computer. CPU fan, check. GPU fan, check. Main air intake fan, not spinning. That's not good. Side air intake fan, spinning. Well, that should help. 120mm Rear exhaust fan, not spinning. That's not good. Power supply fan, not spinning. That's really not good.

I'm on a UPS so I'm not sure what could have caused the power supply fan to stop spinning, but if the power supply overheated, that could have led to it not sending the right power out, which, like crossing the streams, would be bad.

I ran to the store and picked up a new power supply and had a friend help me swap out the old power supply for the new one. We tested both the front intake and rear exhaust fans and still nothing. Those are easy enough to replace. I set up a regular fan in front of the open case to simulate the two case fans and fired up again. When I opened MS Word, I got an error that said the video card driver had crashed and recovered. Not great. The next thing I did was open GiMP and boom, blue screen.

I suspected at this point that the video card itself was the issue. My computer has an integrated video card on the motheboard, but the cable from my my monitor doesn't fit the plug for the onboard video card.

I've alread replaced the power supply. At a minimum, I need to replace the front intake fan and the rear exhaust fan.

Cheap Option: I could get an adapter that would let my monitor hook up to the onboard graphics. It's an i5 CPU with integrated graphics, but I have my doubts it would be powerful enough to run WoW, but I won't know for sure until I hook it up. If the RAM or Hard drive are the problem, this won't matter.

Cheap to Expensive Option: start replacing components one by one, probably starting with the RAM, then the video card.

Really Expensive Option: Build or buy a new computer.

At the moment, I'm dead in the water. I can do Internet, but Office, and WoW (and I assume all other games) are not possible.