Daily Archives: March 10, 2011

Traveling to the Scarlet Monastery

There were only four of us on Saturday night.

Which wasn’t a huge surprise.

Due to the new computer negotiations of last autumn, we had resolved to take the first Saturday night of each month off from the instance group.

However my wife and one of her friends were going to the San Jose Sharks game on Saturday night, so there wasn’t much point in me not playing.  And so I checked into World of Warcraft to see who else was on.  I knew at least Potshot would be on, and if it were just the two of us, I was pretty sure we would adjourn to old Norrath for more nostalgia.

In the end though, only Mike, aka Nancyboy, was nowhere to be seen.

So we had a perfectly good group of four, all of whom were level 30.

* Xula – level 30 Gnome warrior
* Earlthedog – level 30 Worgen warrior
* Ethelred – level 30 Worgen druid
* Maloney – level 30 Worgen mage

Technically, that left us without a healer, Nancyboy being a priest.  But we figured we could press Ethelred into healing, even if he wasn’t ready for it.

But what to do with a group of four?

The Dungeon Finder wants nothing to do with the number four, unless you are proceeding to five.  Being the tight group that we are, we were not really keen to have a stranger along just to use the Dungeon Finder.  And those in the guild who were online Saturday night were all too high level to go along with us, at least via the DF.

So when we decided that we ought to give the Library in Scarlet Monastery a try, we knew it would mean some travel.

We were all sitting in Stormwind and discovered that the closest flight path to Scarlet Monastery we had was in Loch Modan.  Some travel indeed.  Time to get flying.

Werewolf on a Griffon - Call the Enquirer!

From there it was a trip on the ground through changed zones and memory lane.  Heading to the Wetlands we all recalled the formerly murderous journey that night elves use to have to take to reach the rest of the Alliance player base.

Whole bunch of Orcs just beyond this tunnel!

We ran across the Wetlands, picking up a couple of flight points, which made us grumble about how easy kids have it these days.  Back in the day we had to run… no mount, no flight points… back and forth across this zone for various quests.

Then it was across the Thandol Span into the Arathi Highlands and to the Refugee Point flight master.  From there it was across the zone to the big wall.

That's a big wall

It is interesting how good the landscape in WoW looks when you’ve been spending your time in old, unimproved EverQuest zones where the place looks like somebody laid some really ugly linoleum on the ground.

Hey, this stuff was totally on sale at Home Depot!

But those big beetles still look totally cool.  And the cardboard cut-out trees!

Anyway, at that big arch in the wall we got our first surprise.

It seems that the Horde has put up some guards.  We ran smack into a group of level 35 sentries.

Momentum seemed to carry us though, and the sentries gave up chasing us before that had killed any of us though it was a near run thing.  We healed up a bit and carried on down the road until we passed a little too close to some more Horde bad guys… guys who only showed up to us as level “skull”… who zipped out and one-shotted Earl and Maloney.

Dead dogs on the road

Ethelred had a ress ready and managed to bring us back to life from a safe distance, but that flagged all the worgen in the group PvP.  Just one more aspect to consider.

From that point on we were more careful, skirting around any likely concentrations of Horde NPCs.

We'll just avoid that camp...

The Foresaken had been busy in South Shore and beyond, throwing up more walls to block passes and narrow strips of land.  We faced a choice.  We found that we could attempt to rush through the checkpoints, hoping to survive the onslaught of guards, or we could WALK THROUGH THE OPEN SPOT AT THE END OF THE WALL.

Each and every wall we faced was easily avoided, all of them ending just shy of keeping us from passing through.  But they sure looked impressive.

We ran on through Trisfal Glades, admiring the sites.

The Undercity Zeppelin Complex

We even remembered to skirt around that one guard outpost where a couple of us used to die every single time we had to run to Scarlet in the old days, and eventually we all arrived.  This is part of the reason why we only used to do one instance on a Saturday night, rather than the two or three that has become our standard.  We used to have to travel…  in the world… where stuff lives.

We found that, with care and a judicious polymorph now and again, we could handle to guardians of the library in Scarlet Monastery.  We actually only ran into trouble with Houndmaster Loksey, the sub-boss that shows up early in the instance.

He has three elite hounds to help him with his fight.  With five of us, even at level 28, the fight was tough but manageable.  With four of us at level 30, we seemed to be juggling just too many balls at once.  We wiped.

More dead dogs... and live dogs

We actually wiped a couple of times.  You can see the bones in the picture above from the previous wipe. (I still think that is a nice touch.)  We did find out that the graveyard for Scarlet Monastery has been moved to practically outside the front door, so running back was very quick.

After the traditional three runs at Loksey, we declared we had given it the old junior college try and decided to bypass him.  Fortunately, he is off the main path in his own side-room, so he is easily avoided.  We carried on.

Having done the library the previous week, we were ready for all of the occupied side rooms and wandering guards that can take a group unawares.  We made it all the way to Arcanist Doan without another death on our part, and took him down on our first attempt.

At the end of the library

As with last week, we checked around the room to see if that chest with the scarlet key was still around.  It appears to be gone and the whole place is unlocked.  I guess you don’t really need a key when most people get instantly teleported to the place.

We had to actually use our hearth stones to get back home.  There was no little button to teleport us back to where we had started the night.  So we recalled and called it a night, travel and a single instance having used up our play time budget for the night.

Next on the lineup for us is the (new) first segment of Maraudon and Razorfen Kraul.  As amusing as the travel was, I think we’ll tackle those two via the Dungeon Finder.

Answer This Question…

Sent in from a reader… at least I think he is a reader.

Subject: king sun man.

strategy adventures universe culture happy?

I think he might be an Iain M. Banks fan, but I could be reading too much into the word “culture.”  Plus I haven’t really written a lot about The Culture.

Anyway, I am currently leaning towards “yes” as an answer, though I have not totally discounted “no.”

Maybe he’ll read this and clarify his position.

I Came Home and the TV Was Dead

Not totally dead.  Just dead enough to be completely useless.

A thin line of video, intensely bright, beams out from the middle of the screen.

I no longer control the vertical

Now when turned on, it sits there, perpetually in that moment I remember from childhood when you turned an old fashioned TV off and the picture first collapsed into a narrow, horizontal band before shrinking into that small, glowing dot in the center of the screen that would take minutes to fade.

And in the grand old tradition of television from my childhood, I pounded the TV on the side.  The picture flickered to full size, recognizable for a fraction of a second, before returning to is thin line.  No luck there.

Okay, the TV was 15 years old.  A 32″ JVC unit, it was the first big thing my wife and I purchased together as a couple.  I knew the TV couldn’t last forever, but now the time has come rather suddenly and I miss it already.  And I will miss it even more soon I bet.

Not that I hold great affection for this TV.  It is just a TV, chosen years back for its size, price, and plentiful inputs.

No, it is what this TV stood for, that is what I will miss.

And what did this TV stand for?

It was part of a complete entertainment unit that was perfectly balanced and worked well together.  It was a harmonious union in which each component was within the capabilities of all the others.

Now, however, a new TV will need to be purchased, and soon to avoid domestic unrest.   And that new TV will, no doubt, break up the harmony of the system, highlighting the deficiencies in the other components.

And that TV stood for something else.  That TV is a milestone, a marker on the path of life, indicating that last point in time when I felt competent in my knowledge to make an intelligent choice when purchasing a TV.

And think of how much television technology has changed in the last 15 years.  The uncaring mind boggles when suddenly faced with that.  We had a VCR hooked up to this TV initially, as we did not have a DVD player yet.

I built my own computer, can get invested in the level of video card or processor technology, but televisions?  I just don’t care that much.  And so I am way behind the curve.

But now I must make a choice, one that will affect my family, and our finances, greatly.  Sure, the TV might not cost that much, but if standard definition programming looks like crap on it, which I find is the case with many of the LCD screens I’ve seen, then there will become demand to invest in high definition.  More money for equipment, more money for the people at DirecTV.

I have to figure this out by Friday.

That is the target date for a new TV purchase.