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I implied in my previous post that continuing to read it would reward you with bear pics. Somehow, by the time I reached the end, I’d forgotten to do anything about that. I was looking through screenshots today, though, and figured I ought to post part of my collection.

BEWARE! BEYOND THIS POINT, THERE BE BEARS! (“”\ ( -.- ) /”“)

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Those of you who follow me on Twitter (or who have read other blogs I’ve written) have probably already heard this story in bits and pieces. You may not have realized it, though, because I’ve held off on just sitting down and really flat-out saying… well, exactly what the title says… why I’m leaving. I made it known a few months back that I will not be renewing my subscription once the year pass agreement is up. I started saying goodbye to characters. I just haven’t talked much about how I made the decision to leave, or what pushed me to that point. Between the number of “Cataclysm in Review” posts I’ve seen lately and the fact that I got a new diagnosis from my doctor today, I think I’m ready to talk about why I’m leaving Azeroth.

Let’s start with my thoughts on Cataclysm…

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Near as I can tell, some folks are getting their knickers in a twist over this post on WoWInsider because of it being framed in a “Smart Kids” metaphor. I think these people are missing the point. Further, I see this as being symptomatic of the messed up way society views intelligence.

I’m not walking away from this with the feeling that Anne Stickney is talking about “the only smart and worthy kids” vs “a bunch of morons we’re better off without”. And, on Twitter, she has denied that this is hardcore elitist stuff. I’m going to accept her word on that. I’ve played on one of the same servers as her before, and I think that server would have been a waste of her time if she was a hardcore elitist. (Which is different than a hardcore player. Not all hardcores are elitists, and some elitists are all attitude that couldn’t hold their own with a group of dedicated hardcore PvPers/raiders/whichever thing we’re being “hardcore” about at the time.)

I think people are probably upset about the phrase “smart kids”. Personally, I think this is something society could do without. We’ve got this either/or approach to things that does more harm than good. Either you’re smart or you’re dumb. Either you’re talented or you can’t do X thing. I see people brag about their IQ or put someone else down for their IQ and think to myself, “You can’t be too brilliant, or you’d understand why that number doesn’t mean as much as you seem to think it does.” There are all kinds of assumptions that a person has mastery of this, this, and that subject if they are in a certain intelligence bracket. These things are misconceptions, and the personal histories of some of our greatest scientists and inventors reveal that, yet we hold onto them. They provide a crutch for us when we don’t put forth enough effort. Never put the time and effort into learning to paint portraits? “Oh, I’m not talented with drawing and painting. I’d make a mess all over the place!” But I don’t know anybody who is really okay with being seen as “not smart”, so that’s one folks tend to get upset about.

Here’s the kicker… to a large degree, intelligence is just another talent.

Some people naturally have a knack for drawing, playing piano, sports, etc. They still have to practice and improve, though, or people who do NOT have a natural knack for it can put in enough hard work to pass them up. Being “talented” just gives you a starting bonus. It may mean you stay way ahead of some people, no matter how hard they work, but there will be others who do not have that “talent” who will catch up to you, and even some who will end up teaching you a thing or two. Talent is not the magic ingredient in life. It’s just a starting bonus.

Some people get a starting bonus in “smart”. And, as Anne Stickney’s article points out, public schools are not designed for those kids. Your team only moves as fast as the slowest dog can pull. That doesn’t mean the slowest dog is weak or doesn’t deserve to be on the team… it just means he doesn’t pull quite as fast as the other dogs. He must be on the team for a reason. He’s not a bad dog. He’s just not the fastest dog.

In the context of the article, I’m reading “smart kids” as the ones who got that starting bonus and are bored because they got the basics and moved on already. I was one of those kids in several subjects, but especially reading. My reading and comprehension was on the college level before I made it out of the third grade. That didn’t make me better than other kids as a person, and there were other things other kids performed better in that I did. But it did mean the school library did not have even one book that was not way the hell below my reading level. That doesn’t mean all the other kids were a problem, or that they needed to GTFO my school library. I’m not being elitist about this. Other kids could find books on and above their reading levels in our school library. I could not find even one book that looked like it might approach the surrounding neighborhood of “my reading level” anytime within the forseeable future.

I think that’s more where Anne Stickney was headed with her article. That’s the message I’m getting, anyway. That there are players who are way above what WoW is giving them in skill level, and many of them are bored because of this.

I’ve touched on this before when I talk about tying shoelaces. I think a lot of people will not find what they want because they are just so good at games at this point. That they’ve been tying their shoes just fine for so long they forget how difficult it can be for a lot of small children who have just been told for the first time, “Now you hold the one loop and then you make the other side into a loop, keep them seperated but bring them together, over, under, around down, stand on your head, rub your tummy, wait until the moon turns purple, pull it tight and there you go! Easy, huh? :D”

The kid having trouble learning to tie their shoes isn’t dumb. One day, they will probably be someone who doesn’t give it a second thought… just ties the shoes… and may not remember that it was ever difficult for them, or understand how it could have ever been so. But today? Yeah… tying shoes is HARD today! The fact that it’s easy for a lot of people doesn’t invalidate how hard it can be for the beginner.

So I don’t think Anne Stickney is being elitist or trying to put anyone down for not being one of “THE SMART KIDS”. I think she was using a metaphor that some people reacted badly to because of their own insecurities.

Yes, if you’re upset over this and think she’s being elitist, I think it’s a sign of personal insecurity. Because why else would you get so damn worked up over someone on the Internet’s opinion, or your perception of their opinion? And I’m not above that myself. It’s not an issue for me in this case, but the Great Bear Spirit knows it has been about plenty of other things. And I have to stop myself and ask, “Why am I so upset? BECAUSE THEY THINK I’M STUPID! Why do I care what they think? Because sometimes I think I’m stupid, too, and that scares me.” AKA… upset because of my own insecurities.

I would like to offer an opposing view to the idea that it’s the folks on the lower end of the skill ladder Blizzard is designing for, though.

There’s a lot of complaining about “Blizz nerfing it for the casuals”, but I’m not sure they are. What if they’re streamlining it for the hardcores? (Yes, yes, I’m playing Devil’s Advocate here… but it’s still an idea worth tossing around. I think so, anyway, but I’m obviously biased.) I’ll admit this is based on my own reactions to the game, and I am aware not everyone has the same game priorites. But game priorites are another thing that isn’t either/or. I was once chastised for talking about raiders as if they don’t care about the story, but it was really that I was talking about a sub-set of raiders who only care about raiding and seem to see the rest of the game as a necessary evil to slog through. That’s not all raiders. Some people like one aspect of the game, same people like five. Not all of the people who like five necessarily like the same five aspects of the game. I’m speaking from my point of view… primarily story-oriented with a love of exploration and discovery.

As a new player, I wanted to take in EVERYTHING! Every quest was new, and there was a lot to learn by doing it all! I loved keys because their were a souvenier that said, “I went there. I did that thing. I succeeded and GOT MY KEY!” I didn’t see Karazhan until the game was at the end of the next expansion, but doing the quests to get the key was an awesome experience for me! I got a lot of story out of it, saw the dungeons and got gear from them, and had a key to prove it!

My first druid drowned a couple of times doing her swim form quest because, hey… swim form quest is hard when you don’t have swim form yet! But I learned how to push my limits underwater and still make it back alive, eventually. That was something I needed to learn because having my very first character be a Forsaken warlock had kind of spoiled me on the underwater thing.

New experiences taught me new things. Prepared me for what was up ahead. The dwarf starting experience pre-Cata… whew! When stuff was still hostile, that mug had a timer on it and the quickest route was right through troggs… DID YOU SEE THE TROGGS IN COLDRIDGE PASS?!?! Making it out of Coldridge Valley and running up the road to the distillery (which is the inn in Kharanos), you knew when you saw the distillery in the distance that you were going to be okay. If you made it to that far, you could make it through anything else Azeroth threw at you!

But it’s not so much fun the fifth or sixth time. It’s really not. The shine wears off. The lessons have been learned. Even if I’m playing a class I’ve never played before, a lot of things carry over. I was a better warlock after having played a hunter for a year, for example. Playing a hunter taught me a lot about controlling my pet that also works for controlling a demon.

Attunement chains got you geared up and exposed you to mechanics to prepare you for raid content, but c’mon… Blizzard isn’t pulling many new rabbits out of their hats. I’m guessing most raiders have seen these mechanics before in most cases and already know what to do. They already know what to do. And experienced raiders understand gear and how to get it.

Messages on the screen telling people what they died from and how to avoid it in the future? LFD and LFR may have improved getting into groups in a lot of ways, but I think this is the price for it. And I don’t think it’s because random groups get bad players who don’t know how to not suck/not die. I think it’s because random groups get random players who expect everyone to have run this content over and over and learned everything from it already, and have zero patience when mistakes are made. I’ve been in groups with them! Tanks, healers, dps… oh gawd, the dps! And the funny thing is, even though they’re complaining that it’s always somebody else who is “fail”… the healer who can’t heal, the tank who can’t keep aggro, whatever… as soon as they leave or get kicked and someone comes in to replace them, amazingly the group doesn’t have problems anymore. The healer is fine. The tank is awesome. The other dps can kill things within a reasonable amount of time. It’s almost as if the impaitent “Y U SUCK SO HARD” asshat is the one actually making the group suck.

There are tools for kicking, dropping group, ignoring people, etc. But in the end, Blizzard can’t make people play nice. They can’t make them slow down a bit, communicate with each other, and function as a team. So what can they do? Hand you the answer when you need it if your group isn’t going to help you find it.

Let’s go back to the shoelaces. Take a small child, just learning to tie their shoes, and give them slip on shoes or shoes with Velcro instead. Who does this improve the quality of life for? It’s not really the small child. They aren’t learning to tie their shoes now because you took away the ones with laces. It sure does make things easier on whoever is responsible for getting them dressed, though. Much easier to tell a kid to slip their shoes on, or show them how Velcro works and let them have at it, than to teach them how to tie the laces. It’s made things easier on the person who has already mastered shoe tying.

Maybe they aren’t really catering to the casuals, after all.

I think there are a lot of places Blizzard can improve. I think they’ve confused “challenge” with “test of your reflexes”. I’ve been looking at some other games lately and started to realize just how far behind Blizzard’s design approach really is. I see a lot of options they have available for truly making the game more accessible to a variety of players, but instead they opt for a design approach that makes encounters so easy they become hard again. (I can’t say how that works in raids, but in dungeons I see a case of things getting to the level of “too many cooks”. Try a dungeon at the level with just two or three people honestly working together, rather than five people half-heartedly smashing through it.) I’m not happy with feeling pushed into group content just to keep moving through the game, and I’m not happy with them choosing to take things like class mount quests and druid form quests out rather than redesign them. The paladin mount quests were ridiculously expensive, and I guess that made sense when it was something to do at end game. Now, they could have changed the quests and preserved all that beautiful lore that comes from doing them, but instead they just removed them. I’m so glad I got to at least see the Alliance side before it was gone. And the warlock demon and mount quests made it pretty clear exactly what kind of person a warlock is. None of this, “They aren’t really any different than mages, they just use a different energy source,” crap.

I don’t feel insulted by what Anne Stickney said. She hasn’t hurt my feelings at all, even though I’m not one of “the smart kids” in Azeroth. I think she raised points about game design and keeping your audience happy that really do need to be discussed when you aren’t looking at a niche naudience. (WoW has too many players of too many different types to be a niche thing anymore.) There are people perfectly happy with the game still. There are people who aren’t, though, and looking at why can be a step toward giving the kind of feedback that gets desired change from Blizzard, or toward make a decision about whether to stay or leave. Getting hung up on the phrase “smart kids” just gets in the way of giving the real issues the attention they deserve.

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I’m not going to argue that Ji Firepaw’s quest text greeting wasn’t sexist or misogynistic. I’m not in the beta, so I haven’t seen it in its proper context. My husband is in the beta, and he tells me Ji seems to be quite taken with another character and so maybe his greetings were reflecting things that are on his mind. That still isn’t me seeing it first-hand, so I don’t “know” this character and can’t say if I’d see him as an overall creep, or if I’d see it as kind of cute in a “he’s so in love he thinks about her beauty all the time” way. I DON’T KNOW, SO I’M NOT ADDRESSING THAT.

Two things I do want to address - assuming your (in the sense of the general “you”) view is the only right view and treating others who think differently like crap, and why I don’t need fictional people to always behave the way I wish real world people would behave.

You have every right to disagree with someone. You have every right to have a civilized discussion and debate the context and impact of what the character said. You have every right to say where you’re coming from that makes you see it the way you do.

You also have a right to call someone who disagrees with you ugly names. You have a right to shame them for what they think. You have a right to toss aside their view and refuse to consider its merits. You have a right to verbally attack them based on their interpretation of things for as long as they continue to voluntarily engage in the conversation with you. Hell… you have a right to state your opinion and then immediately state that anyone who disagrees is wrong, thereby skipping all those other things you have a right to do.

Doing the first set of things will earn you my respect, even if I disagree with you.

Doing the second set of things will make me not want to be associated with you, even if we interpreted things the same way.

I have a right to associate with people who treat others with respect and stay away from those who do not.

As for the things fictional people say and do… maybe Ji Firepaw really is a sexist creep. Maybe everyone who has argued that there’s nothing wrong with what he says is wrong. Maybe there is EVERYTHING wrong with what he was saying!

Personally, I’m not much for shutting real people up. I’d rather walk away and tell others why that person lost my respect and what I think of their behavior and actions. I don’t condone bad behavior, but I’d rather have them put it on display than hide it. To some degree, I believe it’s the people who have harmful opinions that they will take to the extent of harmful actions BUT DON’T SAY ANYTHING THAT TIPS YOU OFF that are scarier than some asshat I can clearly see I should steer clear of.

I’m even less in favor of shutting up fictional people. Part of good storytelling is that everything drives the story, whether the audience is aware of it or not. Don’t introduce something that doesn’t matter. Until the writer proves to me that it’s not the case, I give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that there is a purpose for things. That even seemingly unimportant dialogue is giving me a feel for the fictional people I’m interacting with.

I don’t necessarily believe a character with some creepy views is reflective of Blizzard having creepy views. And yes, I know there’s a history there. I know about the Corpsegrinder BS, among other things, but I don’t want to see things reach a point where the audience allows no story to be told other than one that has been sanitized to reflect the way we want reality to work.

Maybe Ji Firepaw is a sexist, and maybe that’s not actually a problem. Not because it’s okay to be sexist, but maybe because it’s giving people a glimpse of something you need to know down the road.

I don’t condone slavery and mind control, either. But I wouldn’t want the human mind slave taken out of the Undercity. She helps paint a picture of what the Forsaken are really like. And I don’t take it as Blizzard condoning such things, either.

Varian Wrynn’s racism has just gotten ridiculous in how it’s been handled, but I don’t see many people comment on the racism of the dwarves. They are STILL holding it against the orcs that the Horde tried to attack Ironforge years ago! They’re holding it against orcs who weren’t even there!

Is it right? No. Should they learn to get past it? Hypothetically, yes… in the sense that it would be the best thing for a real world. But for a fictional world, maybe the racism is still serving a purpose.

Not everything bad that happens in a story makes it a bad story. Or makes the storytellers bad people.

I don’t think believing that makes me a bad person. You may not agree with me, and that’s fine. I may even be wrong about any of that applying to this specific situation. But does it make me a bad person to believe not all characters in a fictional world need to clearly and simply be either paragons of virtue of the worst of sinners? Does it make me a bad person to believe some complexity that makes me stop and think “Am I okay with people like this?” enriches a story?

I don’t think so. So you won’t convince me that being okay with what the old quest text said makes me a bad person. It may just make me a person who interpreted it differently than you did. That’s okay. I don’t think you’re a bad person if you disagree. I think the problem is when we decide some viewpoints are invalid before even trying to understand them. I’ve seen it said more than once today, very generally, that anyone who disagrees with the change is (insert hateful thing of choice here). I don’t appreciate that. I can’t say I actively disagree with the change, but I don’t really think it was necessary. So people who said that came a little closer than I’m okay with to calling ME hateful things by just randomly waving their hate around at whoever it hits. That’s not okay.

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I haven’t made it a secret that I’m leaving WoW when my subscription is up. I’ve been working on saying my goodbyes. It hasn’t seemed like there’s any good reason to criticise this or that aspect of the game or players since my reasons for leaving are very personal and not something that can be “fixed” that way. But this post isn’t so much about criticism as it’s about how the things we say often conflict with the reality of the situation, and how we can sometimes make things easier on ourselves by changing the way we think about the situation. I’m not going on a rant about how “communities are supposed to do this and that, and the playerbase doesn’t act that way so THIS ISN’T REALLY A COMMUNITY! RAWR!” That’s not at all my point.

Traditionally, the word “community” doesn’t just refer to people with a common interest, but also with common backgrounds and living in relatively close physical proximity to each other. That’s not so true on the Internet. Or it is, depending on how you look at it… in cyberspace, we all live right next door to each other. It’s still usually true, though, that a community has a governing set of rules and social cohesion. They may not be formal rules. They can be “rules” that are just understood to exist because the members of the community are like-minded about how things should be done.

We often speak of “the WoW community”, and maybe it did exist at one time, but I don’t believe it exists now. I think it got bigger and more varied until it became “the WoW populace”. However, you can find communities within it.

That leads to speaking of things like “the WoW blogging community” or “the WoW Twitter community”. Or “the WoWInsider community”. I’d say that last one is a community. I’d say people who regularly read and post on the official forums comprise something of a “WoW forum community”. I’m not too sure about blogs, though, and even less sure about Twitter.

In many ways, I see blogs as being an extension of whatever other community within WoW the bloggers are part of. Maybe that’s wildly innacurate and just based on how I read blogs. I tend to read the ones that relate to my interests in the game. In the cases where I do read blogs written by, say, a dedicated raider, I tend to skip posts that seem to be solely applicable to raiding. In some cases that means I only skip a post now and then. In other cases, it means I only check in on that blog every now and again. My husband suggested I read Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual when I needed help in PvP, but I used it more as a reference than really keeping up with posts. On the other hand, I have enjoyed keeping up with a lot of his writing about other aspects of the game.

Twitter… Twitter is a strange beast. I got to thinking about how Twitter works (from a social perspective, not technical) while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race this week. If you haven’t watched this week’s episode yet and intend to, skip over this next paragraph. I don’t think I’m being too spoilery, but just in case… y’know?

I honestly believe Mike was kidding when it looked like he and Chad were about to get into a fight. Especially based on the things Mike said when the drag queens weren’t in the room during Untucked. It just wasn’t recieved the way he intended it, and I don’t think that’s something to blame anyone for. Mike and Chad aren’t part of the same community. They come from very different backgrounds and have very different experiences, and Mike isn’t part of the drag community.

Two people with different personalities and common backgrounds may find it easier to recognize each other’s motivations, even if they don’t agree with each other. That also often works for two people with similar personalities and different backgrounds. It can be a lot more difficult for two people with very different personalities and very different backgrounds, though, and can become a volatile situation if even one of them isn’t conciously aware of that.

I think a lot of that happens on Twitter.

Add to that what happens when not everyone is following all the same people. At least with a blog everyone who is commenting on a post has read the same post. (Or should have. It’s ridiculous to comment based on something someone told you about it, but without actually reading it.) The conversation on Twitter isn’t always so easily laid out in front of everyone.

Let’s say Bob follow Sally, Jim, and Steve. He does not follow Sarah, Chris, or Max. Jim follows Bob, Sally, Max, and Sarah. Steve follows Bob, Sally, Jim, Sarah, Chris, and Max. (Everyone except himself.)

Steve retweets something Sarah said. Bob will see that because he follows Steve. Jim asks Sarah for clarification on what she said, and she @ replies him to explain. Steve will see this because he follows both of them, but Bob will not because he follows Jim but not Sarah. And if Bob retweets what Steve retweeted and adds his own commentary, and Sally only follows him, Sally is getting a really skewed view of things.

That’s not a community. Not in my opinion. There’s too much of a breakdown in the cohesion of the group.

Now, I’m not saying it’s “too much breakdown” in the sense of “someone should fix this”. I’m saying I think it’s important to recognize that communities do exist, but not everyone who can freely take part in what a community is doing is actually a member of the community. And that it can often be nearly impossible to see where the community lines are drawn, so it’s not as simple as saying, “Be careful of your interactions with community members if you’re a visitor”.

Maybe what we need are new terms. The Internet has social networks that are very open and fluid now. I think that’s a great thing! I love Twitter. I have gotten to meet some wonderful people there, found a lot of inspiration and support when it comes to my art, been retweeted by Neil Gaiman, and had conversations about quantum physics with a physicist who lives on the other side of the world from me. Oh, yes, I DO love Twitter!

But Twitter is a lot like using the dungeon finder. I may be queueing up with some friends I’m comfortable with, but I never know who else will end up in the group. We might even get somebody I’ve ended up in a group with before, but they’re still someone outside of my inner circle.

It takes more than a common interest and being in the same place at the same time to build a community.

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I’ve been alternating between “too busy to be on Twitter” and “in too much pain to do anything” lately, but I try to check in a few times a day. There’s been a lot of unhappiness lately (winter, politics, and whatever BS thing is happening in a person’s life can wear someone down) and I don’t mind using my few minutes to tell someone how loved they are. It’s a worthy use of my time. But then I am gone again… busy bear is oso busy. (That’s going to be a lot funnier if you know “oso” is “bear” in Spanish. Okay, maybe it just means I can make a bad pun in two languages at the same time.)

It made me smile when @Technophobia said this is the mental image he gets.

viewparadise:

Thank you, bear.

(via cowscratch)

Source: thechive.com
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I took to Twitter a little while ago with a calm rant about LFR. I’d just read this post about Jesse’s good LFR experience, and was smiling at things like, “It’s not that it was easy; you couldn’t quite power through certain mechanics like you could in Wrath.  No, it just was less hectic.” and, “I downed an end game boss.  It doesn’t matter if it was LFR.  I still did it.  It felt great.”

I’ve talked before about who the game is challenging for by comparing it to learning to tie your shoelaces. If you have no physical or mental impairments when it comes to doing so, and you’ve been tying them for years, it’s not going to be a problem for you. The design of shoes and shoelaces doesn’t change in radical enough ways that you have to learn it all over again. You get better and better, and then you just sort of do it automatically. Actually taking the time to think about each little step can then make it frustrating. It’s just… LOOK! It’s just SHOELACES! IT’S NOT THAT HARD, OKAY?!

But try telling that to a small child learning to tie them for the first time. Or someone who has suffered a serious injury that has cost them a hand, or made it more difficult to process a series of actions like that. Are they stupid because tying their shoes is hard? Are they just not trying? Of course not. And, quite frankly, you’re an asshole if you tell them they are.

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I’ve been told Blizzard finally laid to rest the question of whether or not Night Elves evolved from trolls. I haven’t really looked into what they said, and that’s odd for me. I love lore, have argued in the past that it was a plausible idea, and have roleplayed a character who believed with all her heart that it was true because she found a book once that said so. The truth is, I don’t want to see the comments I’m afraid exist.

There are times I feel like Blizzard has really screwed up, or at least dropped the ball, on delivering the story. There are other times I feel like a vocal (whether or not it’s “large” is harder to judge) segment of the playerbase doesn’t understand how the story is being told. I wonder how much of that is Blizzard dropping the ball and how much of it is the expectations we’ve been given from previous experience with games, books, and movies. Then I wonder if Blizzard should change their storytelling methods to match expectations because if the audience isn’t getting the story, how much good is it doing you to keep telling it?

I never do come up with an answer I’m comfortable with for that. Here’s how the storytelling looks to me…

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I debated with myself over where to put this post. I’ve been keeping things all bear all the time over here. My last few lore posts have been on Heavy Wool Bandage because… well, c’mon! When was the last time I healed something? (I threw a heal on myself last night, actually.) This is a topic that’s been turning over in my head for months, but I just kept looking at it as a Gilnean issue. That doesn’t exclude it from being inconspicuous bear business, though. If anything, if the story played out like this, bears could be a big part of it! In the first Northgate Rebellion, neither side had BEARS! And if you think bears can’t turn the tide in battle, you should probably just leave right now. Go read about Fabulor.

No, I don’t have screenshots for this post. A lot of what I might want screenshots for happens in Silverpine Forest. I don’t want to go roll another Forsaken and do the quests again just to get screenshots for a post Blizzard will probably get around to disproving someday. If you’re looking for pretty pictures, go read about Fabulor.

Quick history lesson - Genn Greymane wasn’t impressed with how Arthas’s daddy was handling things. Instead of marching through Captial City and stabbing him in the guts like SOME PEOPLE, he took all his marbles and went home to build a wall. The wall not only kept his marbles in Gilneas, but also kept all his people in.

It was a big wall.

Not all the people of Gilneas were happy about this. Even if some of them knew keeping your marbles at home was best, they still liked knowing they COULD go roll their marbles around somewhere else. And some people were just like, “Screw you! My marbles! I roll ‘em wherever I want to!”

Darius Crowley had a nice chunk of playground to roll his marbles around on, and wasn’t pleased at all about having Genn’s Big Wall running right through it. This may have something to do with how Crowley ended up leading the Northgate Rebellion and getting locked up in prison.

So, no big deal… right? I mean, Genn and Darry used to be BFFs. Genn actually kind of understood why a man might be upset about not being able to roll his marbles around all over his own land whenever he so chooses. Really, if it hadn’t been for the setting fires and looting, he might not have locked his buddy up in prison at all! (One could argue there would have been no fires and looting if the people of Gilneas had enjoyed uninterrupted Freedom of Marble Rolling, but it’s a little late for that.) King Oblivious Greymane was a bit surprised to find out the REBELS who had resorted to CIVIL WAR had been STOCKPILING WEAPONS, but only Lord Godfrey seemed personally wounded over Darry being let out of prison once the worgen overran the city.

Let’s face it… Godfrey was an asshat. His top hat was probably covered with light leather skinned from the ass of a worgen so that it, too, was an asshat.

Sure, there’s that tense moment when Godfrey shows up to tell Crowley and all the other half-feral dogpeople with sharp teeth and claws (plus the elven visitors) that they must, BY LAW, get up there and start fighting the good fight for Gilneas! But Genn reassures Crowley that he is not at all there to hand out orders as the king who took away everybody’s marble-rolling fun, but to ask as a friend and fellow dogperson if we could all form a pack and sniff butts… and maybe fight the good fight for Gilneas while we’re at it.

Godfrey flips his lid (again). Dogpeople are friends (maybe). Everyone wins. (Except Prince Liam, the Greymane family in general, and all the Gilnean citzens.)

This is old news, yes? KING Genn Greymane is the leader of the Gilnean people. Crowley’s less rebel, more ambassador. And in spite of the trolls and gnomes (mostly) going home, people are still hosting homeless allies in their cities.

Wait… trolls got the Echo Isles. Gnomes got to move back to what was previously their front porch, but not take back their city. Goblins can’t really go back to their island, but they did get all of Azshara. Gilneans get to camp on the side of the road or live in a tree within a tree on Nelfdrassil.

I didn’t say “Horde bias”. You did NOT hear me say that!

I’m kidding. Have you seen Varian Wrynn’s hair? Even Blood Elves don’t have hair that pretty! Obviously, Blizzard favors Alliance.

But what if the Northgate Rebellion hasn’t REALLY ended? Everybody’s been kind of busy. Gilneans have split into a bunch of different directions. Some of them are in Duskwood. Some are really busy doin’ what druids do. What happens if we let things settle down so they get some time to think about Gilneas?

The Gilneans were winning the fight for Gilneas when Liam jumped in front of Sylvanas’s arrow. Could they have kept winning? I’m not sure. Having played the story from both sides, each side had a few tricks up their sleeve the other side didn’t know about. But the Gilnean people didn’t even get to decide if they wanted to stay and fight or not. Genn decided not to risk any more lives after his son died and made the decision to pull everyone out.

Was it his decision to make? Yes! He’s the KING! It was his decision to make when Genn’s Big Wall went up, and it was his decision to make when everybody was told to hop on the next boat to Nelfville. But that doesn’t mean people are always okay with the decisions kings make. Our own world’s history would be very different if every time a king decided something people just said, “Hey… it’s his call. Sucks, but we gotta take it.”

Some people who weren’t happy about the wall might not be happy about having to retreat, either. Some people who were fine with the wall might not be happy about the retreat. And some people could still get ticked off if Ol’ King Genn doesn’t say, “Let’s head home now,” as soon as they think he should.

But who would lead another rebellion? Things are just fine between Genn and Crowley these days. In fact, while Genn does his king thing in the city, Crowley’s off acting as his representative and meeting with the Bloodfang worgen. And one does not simply walk into Silverpine and…

Hold on!

Really? CROWLEY is the one who met with them? Met with Ivar Bloodfang and convinced him to agree to an alliance between his pack and the Gilnean worgen? Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?

While the Bloodfang worgen may have been Gilneans at one time, they don’t seem to care about that at all anymore. They care about their pack, and they do what their leader says. Crowley had no hope of getting any of the Bloodfang to help unless he could get Ivar to agree to it. It was an “all or nothing” deal. The Bloodfang may not be completely feral, but they’re closer to it than the Gilneans. They function much more like an actual pack. And Ivar had no love for Crowley, Greymane, or Gilneas when he agreed that an alliance might be necessary for his pack’s survival.

Ivar Bloodfang does not strike me as someone who would be at all impressed by meeting with a “representative” sent by someone’s leader. He seems much more like the kind of guy to send the representative back with just enough of his flesh hanging on to be able to deliver the message, “He said to meet him yourself next time,” before dropping dead.

Genn Greymane stands around in the city looking clean, respectable, and human. (Perhaps to avoid upsetting others. Tobias Mistmantle says in Duskwood that he’s stayed in his human form because the worgen form is very upsetting to the people of Darkshire, but down at Raven Hill the worgen are… worgen.) Crowley is running around in the woods, half beast, getting blood under his claws, and making deals with other worgen that may have at least slowed Sylvanas down.

I guess if you’re the kind of Gilnean who wants to assimilate into “Alliance culture” as easily as possible and trust that your leaders will know what’s best, you might be inclined to stand by Genn. If you’re itching for a chance to grab life by the marbles and create your own destiny, you might side with Crowley.

I wonder who Ivar Bloodfang would tell you the leader of the Gilnean worgen is.

Gilneas is a beautiful area. It would be a shame if all that work was put into it just for one side’s starting experience and a low level (but awesome!) quest chain for the other side. It seems like it would be difficult to address sending the Gilnean people home without taking on Sylvanas, though.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be about Sylvanas just yet. We might have to get through a second Gilnean civil war first.

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Instead of getting any serious work done in the later part of this afternoon, I scribbled spirals. It’s a surprisingly relaxing thing to do. OBEY THE HYPNO BEAR PAW! (“”\ (@.@) /”“)

Instead of getting any serious work done in the later part of this afternoon, I scribbled spirals. It’s a surprisingly relaxing thing to do. OBEY THE HYPNO BEAR PAW! (“”\ (@.@) /”“)