Thursday, June 20, 2013

To the Vanguard of Norrath ...

Back in my WoW days, things on the Horde side of the fence weren't altogether peachy for large stretches of time.  During those times, I escaped to the Alliance (where I started as a dwarf priest) to just coast around and have some fun.  One morning I met a Draenei named Diamnae.  It was during one of these times that I met some folks who would change what an MMO meant for me.  Thus began my long love affair with the boys and girls in the Vanguard of Norrath.

The Vanguard is an old guild.  And when I say old, I mean ancient.  It was formed in the early 2000s by two friends; Boltac and Sharaya.  These two had been lifelong friends and began playing Everquest together.  Over the years they added others to their EQ guild; Herby, Costa, among others.  When WoW came out, they all jumped over and began playing there.

That's where I met them.  Well, specifically, I met Joe in a cave near Dun Morogh.  We hit it off instantly; he, the wily MMO veteran, and me, the wide-eyed upstart who had no clue what he was doing.  And I mean NO CLUE.  Jesus, my priest was stacking stamina for cripes' sake.

Anyway, Herby let me into the guild (much to his dismay) and here we are five years later.  In short, the Vanguard of Norrath is my true home away from home.  These guys and gals always welcomed me with open arms, no matter how long I'd been away.  We've stuck with each other through multiple games and keep in contact through a ridiculously long email chain.

So, what makes VoN so goddamn awesome?  The hardcore operating?  The playstyle?  The l33t lewtz?

Not really.  I mean, all that is important ... well, minus the hardcore operating.  We operate, but on our time and level.  No, the most important aspect for VoN is the family.

I mentioned earlier that they always welcomed me back with open arms.  I'm not exaggerating; I'd spend upwards of a year away from these fine folks, and the minute I cam back it's like I never left.  My disappearance wasn't even a topic of discussion.  They made sure I was alright, asked me how I was, and boom!  We were off to the races again.

When my SWTOR guild imploded, VoN was there for me.

When I had my latest fling with WoW (Mists of Pandaria), VoN was there for me.

When I endured some ridiculous guild drama on the Horde side, VoN was there for me.

Every time I log on, I'm assaulted by a chorus of greetings.  Vent is always raucous and welcoming.  Somewhere between that cave with Joe and now, y'all became part of my MMO family.  No matter how long I've been offline due to real life, be it work, social, or vacation ... you guys are always happy to see me, and I in turn am always happy to see you.

So, yes, this is a big ol' sloppy love letter to my guildmates.  Shut up.  I can write what I want!  And yes, Targeter has feelings ... and sometimes these feelings don't manifest themselves in frothing rage (well, SOMETIMES).  Sometimes they come out saccharine and dripping with happy tears.  Sometimes I just have to let my guild know that I lerv them in inappropriate ways.

So, to Herby, Dave, Costa, Puck, Chuck, Bolty, Joe, Lenny, Ian, Veldt, and all the wonderful folks who make up VoN ...


Ok.  I feel better now.  I need to find something to get mad about now.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why SWTOR Makes Me Happy

I finally got back online last night in ye olde SWTOR.  It felt good, to be honest, like falling into the warm embrace of a long-lost ... pixelated ... virtual ... er ... uh ... well, it was nice, ok?

The loveable rapscallions of <Vanguard of Norrath> were kind enough to help me traipse through story mode Scum and Villainy, and booooooy howdy.  That's a damn fine operation.  A DAMN FINE operation.  The fights were fun, the mechanics varied, nothing was so overwhelming that my wrist locked up (ahem, WoW), but it wasn't so simple that my brain switched off.  The instance itself was just beautiful to behold.  Fantastic stuff.  And the fights were new yet familiar to an old raiding veteran like myself.  New and exciting, familiar and homely.

In short, SWTOR was designed for folks like me.  Or, is that Bioware wants me to think?

I spend a significant amount of time thinking about The Old Republic.  Why does it keep pulling me back?  And when it does, why is it so ridiculously easy to merge right back in?  I think that's by design and I love Bioware for it.  I think the boys and girls in Austin know what they have, what they don't, who plays the game, and how best to serve them.

Let's get something straight.  Despite the launch hullabaloo (most of it crowed by Bioware staff themselves), this game isn't going to challenge WoW.  It's just not that type of game.  We may have thought it was (hell, a certain author shouted from ramparts about it for a loooong time), but when push comes to shove, SWTOR just isn't the twitch-filled miasma that WoW is.  And that's ok.

SWTOR is an MMO for people like me and you; we're probably on our 3rd or 4th MMO.  We've been raiding for years now.  We know how to level, what loot to grab, how to do our roles, and we probably don't have a ton of free time.

That probably describes a lot of WoW players too, to be honest.  Except SWTOR is a game that caters to us exclusively.  And it's a great feeling.

I was able to get into the newest raid (albeit Story Mode) after a few weeks off, with only one Arkanian piece and the rest of my gear filled out with non-set 162 rating gear (for the most part).  I held my own, but because we don't have DPS meters I can't tell you how much I did or did not suck.  The fights were glossed over for me on vent, but since I've been raiding for so long, the mechanics came easily to me.  Step here, don't go there, watch out for reticles.  The first boss was a hoot.  Getting lost in the desert was an interesting twist.

Titan 6 was great fun, since we kept comparing him to XT in Ulduar.  Vent constantly cracked up with dozens of XT quotes.  "It doesn't bend that way!"  "You are very bad toys!"  On top of that, Titan 6 was a well-designed encounter with multiple phases, but nothing overwhelming.

Thrasher was a pretty simple tank and spank with some add management; nothing too special.  I thought it was almost too plain.

The storming of Oasis City ... ok, so THIS was a great encounter.  Having to take out the fire teams and move through the city without being spotted, coupled with the add management and constant burn phase on the boss ... that was a hoot and a half!  I loved the way this was laid out; it was fresh and innovative.  It reminded me a lot of the solo fight in Eternity Vault, which was a spectacular encounter.

The puzzle boss was sort of annoying, in that it took a looooong time to complete.  I liked the advancing waves, but I felt the time it took to burn down Oolok was a tad much.  Interesting fight, though.  I always appreciate Bioware for putting in a puzzle boss in each operation.

The Cartel Warlords were also a good encounter.  A little simplistic, but maybe that's because we're all seasoned vets and the fight was instantly recognizable to us.  Kiting the Mando got a little hairy, and the Trooper's Spray and Pray got exciting, but nothing too bad.  I think this fight could use a little spicing up.

Dread Master Styrak was a bit of a letdown, to be honest.  The fight was long and boring in the middle.  Well done, but it seemed to drag towards the end.  I didn't really feel too much in danger, but that may be because of our bomb-ass healing team.

I know, I know, you're going to say, "Well, Targie, if you want a challenge you need to try Hard or Nightmare!"  I know.  And you know what?

I don' wanna.

I've done the 'bleeding edge' raiding before.  And sometimes I just want to show up, have fun on vent, kill some bad guys, walk around a beautiful operation, and get some loot.

SWTOR allows me to do that.  And goddamn, does it feel great.

Before I go, I'll let you take a look at the ridiculously good-looking new CE dye pack (1 of 2):

My new chestpiece with the Black and Yellow dye pack from the CE Vendor.

That is one hot fuckin' Smuggler.  Not gonna lie.
Fly safe, shoot straight!

(P.S. - My guild played a trick on me by telling me there was an achievement to be gained by jumping in the sarlacc pit in the middle of the operation.  I did.  I died.  Many laughs were had at my expense.  I highly recommend you pull this prank on all your newbies.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

An Objective Viewpoint of TOR's Patch 2.2


Does it really have to be 600MB?!

That concludes our objective review of Patch 2.2, Operation Download Nightmare.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Three weeks since my last post?!  Lordy!

Well, unfortunately for you, I, Targeter, lord and master of all things agent-like ... well, smuggler-like ... well, lord and master is a bit of a reach, really ... actually, more like lounger and hanger-on of some thing pertaining to the agent/smuggler style of play ... am not dead.

What I am is working a new job.  Promotion, to be exact.  So bully for me.

Whilst I perform my new duties, I shall be rather busy and whatnot.  Forgive my lapse in posting.  Or don't.  Either way, I've got something planned for this week entitled "Why SWTOR Makes Me Happy"; a post celebrating the casual-friendliness of TOR and why it's so damned great.

Eh, it'll probably devolve into a Red Stripe fueled rant by the end.  C'mon, you guys know me.

Also!  Shame on you all!  Thirty-four years on this green Earth and nary a one of you ever told me how great Red Stripe is!  Unforgiveable.

Anyways, that's all for now.  And noooooo, this post isn't beer-fueled.  Well, mostly.  Well, look, it's been a hard week ok?  You deal your way, I'll deal mine.  K?


Fly straight, shoot blah, something something Empire.

Nailed it.