Friday, July 19, 2013

Thanks for Reading! But I've got a new home now...

To all that have taken their time to read my stories, I thank you.

As of today, I will be continuing these stories on

You will see new stories going up, and I will also be adding my existing ones into the backlog.

Stay tuned!!!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

A glimmer of hope? Immediately snuffed by incompetence...

Warzone: Voidstar (Level 30-54 PvP Bracket)
Character: Level 33 Operative (Healer)

So, as I have mentioned before... The Operative that I created almost two weeks ago, has become my personal favorite PvP character. I do a lot of warzones while playing her, and I am actually a pretty decent PvP player, even though typically my main focus in SWTOR is in PvE. That said, PvP on my Operative makes me giddy and puts me in the mood to dance!

"It's fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A."
Anyway, I logged on to my Operative last night to do a bit of PvP, as I hadn't even picked up my Weekly yet, and would have a fresh Daily waiting for me also. A few matches in, I had my Daily completed (1 win / 1 loss) and was just working on my Weekly and very much enjoying myself while doing it. I find that my Operative is the only character I've ever played in PvP that I am not completely agitated when a team plays poorly and loses, because I simply enjoy playing her so much that it can't really suck the fun out for me.  

So..... I get a queue pop, and we end up in Voidstar. We start off in Round 1 as the Defending team. The match starts and I roll my HoTs onto everyone, stealth, and wait to see which door the attacking team is going to hit. Very quickly it becomes apparent that they are hitting the right side VERY hard, so I head over that way, after noting that 2 players on our team were camped at the left door. 

"They should be fine over there" I thought to myself, and headed over to the right side to heal and defend the door.

No more than 20 seconds into the fight? I see a giant red message flash across my screen that a bomb has been placed on the left door. There was no call for help, no callout that there was incoming.... A stealther had come in behind the TWO people guarding that door, and capped it without ever being noticed. /facepalm

Some general snarky/nasty comments come through the chat window from several of the players, but there wasn't much we could do about it by then. The doors blew and we started making our way down the tunnel. APPARENTLY the two players that got themselves stealth-capped, stayed in the first room to kill an attacker, while another attacker just ran down the left side tunnel untouched, and had the bridge across and was already planting on the second door by the time any of us made it down the right tunnel. I was able to stealth out of combat and get down the left bridge as fast as I could and threw a grenade into the players planting on the door JUST in the nick of time. At that point, our team was able to regroup, pull together, and we held them there for the rest of Round 1.

Round 2: Attackers. The randomly selected team leader tells everyone to rush the left side door. It's not a completely terrible strategy, because most defending teams will send at least 1 or 2 people to the opposite side that they see getting rushed, to protect against stealth capping, so you can have an advantage for a short time by having them outnumbered. However, the other team was coordinating quite well, and after about a minute it became apparent that we were not capping the left side, even though it was 8v6. At that point, I was killed and returned to the starting area, as was a dps mercenary at the same time. I stealthed, and we both ran towards the right door, where there were 2 players defending. I ran a loop around the pillar to avoid being clipped by a Stealth Scanner, while the mercenary attracted the two players attention. I snuck in behind them, broke stealth and capped the door. (They never even saw it happening, because they so perfectly took the bait, and I called out the mercenary by name in the chat, so the other people would know that it was because of him that we were able to get a cap.... Credit where credit is due.)

As soon as the door blew, I stealthed out of combat, ran down the right side tunnel ahead of everyone, headed left across the middle and stood behind the pillar to extend the bridge. I had the left side bridge extended without anyone noticing, ran across the bridge, and immediately capped the left door in the second room, which was an instant win.

What do you know? I even got some MVP votes.

Sadly, my joy over this small victory in teamwork and smart play, even after a rocky start, was pretty quickly smashed when I decided to be a nice guy, and switch to my Assassin tank to help a PuG team who wanted to clear Hard Mode Explosive Conflict..... 

Operation: Hard Mode Explosive Conflict (8-man)
Character: Level 55 Assassin (Tank)

The team was WAY overgeared. All members were 55, no one's HP was under 28,000. There were only 2 people on the team (a tank and a healer) that had not done at least Story Mode before, so I figured we had a shot to have a decent experience with some fight explanations, especially since I had the entire team on Ventrilo. The team was 6 PuG members, myself and a good friend of mine in-game (great player) who agreed to join us on his dps mercenary because he was bored.

We clear the trash up to Toth/Zorn without incident. I give a detailed explanation about how to handle Toth/Zorn utilizing the "berserk strategy" where you purposely keep the baradium toss away from Toth the entire fight, with keeps him berserk. Anyway... the first baradium toss was targeted on me, and as I was tanking Toth (and I wasn't expecting the other tank to offtaunt, I can handle it just fine) I just kited Toth a little bit, dropped the baradium away from him, and kept going.... Next baradium target? Sticks it right on Toth and I had nowhere near enough time to move him. So berserk ended, and Toth/Zorn jumped, which gave half the team Fearful which made the next minute pretty interesting, not to mention, Zorn's tank died, and had to be battle-rez'd. Things go fairly well until the bosses were around 15% HP when the marauder on Toth, once again drops a baradium toss right on Toth....... Another jump, more Fearful, we lose 3 members of the team. We manage to drop both of them and kill the Handler with 5 people.

One of the members of the team says on vent: "That really is a testament to the gear we are wearing, because we wouldn't have cleared that otherwise."

Me: "That may possibly be the case, however, this Operation isn't about gear, so much as it is about playing intelligently, because there are so many mechanics that can one-shot you, no matter how good your gear is. So everyone needs to be more careful moving forward."

We get to the tanks, which is where this team ended. Because after four pulls on Firebrand & Stormcaller, each one ending the same exact way: with Stormcaller's DPS (or healer, I am not sure) either not making it to their shield generator in time, or making it there and immediately killing it. Not to mention, I had to blow cooldowns to survive the kiting during the shield phase, because the healer and one of the DPS insisted on standing BEHIND Stormcaller even though I kept telling them where to stand, which meant I was taking at least one stack of Double Destruction every cast. On Firebrand's side, I had my friend (dps merc) kiting missiles/spikes because neither of our healers knew how, nor wanted to learn how to do it.

Four wipes, and I was done. I apologized for abandoning them, but that I really couldn't stay any longer for more "bashing my head against a wall."

And thus, the joy of my immediately prior warzone win, was destroyed by the antics of a bad PuG....

Maybe I will just go hang out with Kaliyo, she seems to enjoy my company.

Kaliyo is impressed.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Companions are better than actual players?

Flashpoint: Mandalorian Raiders (Normal Mode Level 21-25)
Character: Level 24 Operative (Healer)

So, during the last Double XP Weekend, I got bitten by the "New Toon Bug" and rolled an Imperial Agent. (The Agent/Smuggler buff is the only one I don't have in my Legacy, since for whatever reason I have never had the desire to play one.) So I rolled an Agent, decided to go the Operative Advanced Class route, since I already have an Assassin Tank and Mercenary DPS, so rolling an imperial healer would complete my Role Trilogy for that faction. (I already have a Vanguard Tank, Sage Healer and Sentinel DPS on the republic side, so it seemed like an obvious choice.)

ANYWAY - I have thus far, done most of my Operative's leveling through Group Finder Flashpoints and PvP, and simply keeping up with my class story in between so I don't outlevel it too terribly much.

On this particular occasion, I queued in the Group Finder for a Flashpoint. It popped pretty quickly and I got into a Mandalorian Raiders at level 24. There was a level 26 Sorcerer DPS and I honestly do not recall the level/class of the other dps or the tank, because the other dps never actually entered the flashpoint so after about 10 minutes we vote-kicked him, and right before we pulled the first boss "Braxx the Bloodhound" our tank DC'd. We waited about another 10 minutes for him to come back, but he never did, so we vote-kicked him also. 

I put our group back into the Group Finder to attempt to find replacements, but in the meantime, the Sorc pulled out his DPS companion, and I pulled out Kaliyo and put her in tank stance. Then we decided to 2-man it with companions and pulled Braxx.

WOW was I busy in that fight! I set the Sorc's companion as my Focus Target, and was concentrating on healing myself, the sorc, his companion, my companion, as well as controlling Kaliyo to make sure she stayed on Braxx, and helping as much as I could to contribute to DPS'ing the two Sulky Hounds. We made it through the fight without either of us, or our companions dying, it just took a little while. 

Still no replacements, so we decided to keep going. Through careful use of CC's and companion targeting, we made it through the trash fairly easily, and Boarding Party didn't pose too much of a challenge as we just simply focus targeted them one at a time, and I kept my HoTs going for the majority of the heals.

Heading into the last room... we are almost finished!!!! YAY! We kill the turrets outside the last room, and are preparing to pull Mavrix Varad, when OMG REPLACEMENTS HAVE BEEN FOUND!!!! We get a notice that a tank and another dps have joined our team, and our companions automatically were dismissed. So, we wait for the two new players to show up, and pull the boss.

We wiped on the third platform.

One turret was still up on the first platform when Varad made his first jump... BOTH of them were still up on the second platform when he jumped to the third, because the Sorc stayed at the first one to polish off the remaining turret by himself. So we had FOUR turrets shooting us by the time he jumped to the third platform. I realized, that the tank was staying focused on Varad the whole time and wasn't assisting with the turrets at all. I have tanked it in normal and hard mode on both my Assassin and Vanguard many times, and really folks, it's not that hard.... But then I realized that the reason the tank was focusing on Varad, was because the replacement dps was ALSO focused on him, ignoring the turrets entirely. So the tank had no choice, because if he stopped focusing on the boss, the dps would aggro him and die. So we only had one dps actually attacking the turrets.

I explained this to the replacement dps after we wiped, and we went back in and tried again, this time with success.

I just found it funny, that while 2-manning the flashpoint with companions, we didn't die once. But once we had a full 4-man team? We immediately wipe.

Moral of the story? Sometimes less is more.

Less is more... Unless you're referring to the rear bumper of a Female Body Type 4.

Kephess has bad breath...

Operation: 16-man Hard Mode Explosive Conflict
Character: Level 55 Sentinel (DPS)

I was the PuG in this group. It was 14-members from the same guild, and myself and another DPS were the two odd-men-out.

It was an interesting run all around.

I was actually directed by the Ops leader when we were waiting to start Firebrand/Stormcaller to "tone down my side conversation" on their Ventrilo server... I was absolutely not a talkative one that night, as the members of their guild were having some pretty racy inside conversation that I wasn't really a party to, but oh well... I figured I was there to smack things with my twin lightbats, not make friends.

It's not that I don't like you, it's just that the sound of your voice makes me want to kill myself.

They had quite the interesting strategy for Firebrand/Stormcaller actually... They assigned two healers, to run around about 40 meters in front of Firebrand to kite missiles/spikes. They did nothing but kite. No healing, no helping with dps. Nothing. JUST kited missiles/spikes. It still took several attempts to drop the tanks, because people kept killing the shield generators. (UGH!!!)

Anyway.... The pinnacle of this operation, was when we got to Kephess at the end. Our dps was good, and we were having to stop dps'ing the walker during the second bomber phase so we wouldn't kill him before the polarity droid phase. So the dps wasn't a problem, nor was handling the different mechanics. The problem.... (which made us wipe FIVE times) was that after Kephess was hitting 60% and casting his debuff on the tank, requiring a swap.... the tank that was debuffed (and both tanks were doing this) were NOT running to drop their Giant Purple Circles of Doom away from the group. They just let the room fill up with them, until there was nowhere left to stand.

This didn't happen once, or twice, or even three times.... It happened EVERY time we pulled. And it took a total of five attempts to finally drop him, and when he did finally die, there were only 2 people left alive. Myself, and the other pug DPS. (Thank God for Guarded By the Force... hehe)

The guild running it were good sports about it. One of their healers won the Praxon Bloodline speeder from Kephess, and immediately opened up a trade window with me, and gave me the speeder, and whispered "Hey, thanks for sticking it out with us. Really appreciate it."

That gesture, made the whole thing worth it.

Oh yeah.... this story is much much better, with a screenshot:
(Character/Guild Names have been removed to protect the Innocent and the Guilty.)
This is NOT how to drop the circles....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting Vote Kicked by PuGs...

These are both "Snippets from the Ghosts of PuG's Past" - neither are too terribly recent, just figured they were good enough stories to include.  
Flashpoint: Hard Mode 55 Flashpoint - Hammer Station
Character: Level 55 Mercenary (DPS)

This was the first of the only two times I was kicked from a Group Finder Flashpoint...

I ran this flashpoint from the group finder not too long after I had hit 55. I had already run Terror From Beyond and Scum & Villainy so I had a few pieces of 69 gear, plus all of my Campaign/Dread Guard from Pre 2.0, so I wasn't geared terribly, and I generally know how to play my class. (Still had my 61/63 barrels for my main and offhand at the time, and had nowhere near 100% accuracy.)

All is going well, when we make it to the Bonus Boss. The tank tells us how he wants to do it, and everyone agrees. So he pulls the boss and me and the sniper (same guild as the tank and the healer... I was the odd man out) in the group both start unloading. The tank was actually doing a decent job of holding aggro, and I only pulled off of him once, very early in the fight, which is understandable. However, the boss enraged, and we wiped. So we regroup, the tank tells the group that the "dps has to pick it up" and pull a second time.... The boss enraged again with around 8% remaining and wiped us. At this point, everyone is starting to get a little agitated.... We regroup and pull him a THIRD time, and he enrages yet again.

At which point I get the message: "Player X (the tank) has initiated a vote kick for player Apostrophe. REASON: Needs to learn to play his class."

Since the other 3 people in the Flashpoint were all from the same guild, I was doomed at that point. Accepted my vote kick and sat on Fleet for a minute feeling generally crappy about the whole thing.

Me: (wondering to myself) "Is my DPS really that bad? I know I am not geared yet, but I have cleared that Flashpoint before without a problem... Was I getting carried?"

So I decided to upload my Combat Log to TORParse and see how bad it really was.

1,800 DPS
Pew pew pew pew!!!

Now, 1,800 dps isn't a chart topper in the gear I am currently in on my mercenary, (now I pull between 2300-2400ish, and I still don't have my 69 mainhand barrel) but at the time? It was actually pretty decent. It also put me in the top 10 DPS Merc's on the statistics at the time. It also meant, that the sniper that was with us (guildie of the other two players, remember) was likely pulling LESS than 1,000 dps or so. Which is pretty darned sad.

At least I knew, that I wasn't getting carried, and I was doing my part to pull my weight. And suddenly I didn't feel so badly about getting booted from the group.

Flashpoint: Hard Mode 55 Flashpoint - Hammer Station
Character: Level 55 Mercenary (DPS)

This was the second of the only two times I was ever kicked from a Group Finder Flashpoint.

I was once again on my mercenary, and got lucky with a pretty fast queue pop. The tank was an Assassin, appeared to be adequately geared in mostly Basic Coms (66) and Black Market Elite Coms (69) gear. My mercenary at the time, was full Arkanian with Partisan PvP relics/implants/ear.

Anyway, we get in the flashpoint and the tank immediately puts a guard on the Operative healer. I don't think much of it, as they were both in the same guild. And we went on our merry little way.

A few trash pulls in, it becomes apparent that I am going to have to keep Chaff Flare (my threat reducer) on cooldown, because I am pulling every mob off the tank. I figure it's not that big of a deal, since holding on trash CAN tend to be a little more difficult than holding a single mob at times, so I don't make a huge stink out of not having a guard. I wasn't dying, and was usually killing the mobs before they made it to me, and the healer wasn't working all that extra hard. Until... I see in the group chat:

Tank: "Apostrophe... Please stop taunting off of me. Thanks."

Me: "I am not taunting off of you, but... OK."

We continue through the flashpoint, I pulled aggro a couple times on the mining droid boss, but no one said anything about it. HOWEVER.... we get to the Bonus Boss, and things got weird. The tank pulls the boss, I set myself up from range by where the healer was. (Our other DPS was a marauder, geared a little lesser than myself.) I pulled aggro on the bonus boss almost the entire fight. I would pull, the tank would taunt, once the 6s of his taunt expired, I'd have the boss again... I'd even hold off a little on my dps to give the tank the chance to build up some threat to get ahead of me, then I would unleash again (bonus boss has an enrage remember?) But yet, anytime I would get a crit on Tracer Missile followed by a proc'd Unload? The boss was once again mine. We manage to kill the boss, but the healer had to work pretty hard to keep me alive since I kept eating the boss's frontal.... Then I see in the group chat:


Me: "You do realize I am a mercenary right? Maybe you should give me a guard since I keep pulling off of you?"

Tank: "Guards are for healers so they don't pull aggro. STOP TAUNTING."

Me: "I am a mercenary.... I cannot taunt. Maybe you should learn how to tank."

Then I get the notification that: "Player X (the tank) has initiated a vote kick for player Apostrophe. REASON: Won't stop taunting."

The healer (in the same guild as the tank) votes to kick me, and the other dps who hadn't said a word the entire time, also votes to kick me.

I just put them all on my ignore list (and switched over to my Assassin tank also, and put them on my ignore list) and went about living my life, chuckling a little bit over how funny people can be.

Maybe Hammer Station is just cursed for me? (Especially the Bonus Boss...)

Explosive Conflict Nightmare! (And it was only Hard Mode...)

Operation: Hard Mode Explosive Conflict (8-man)
Character: Level 55 Vanguard (Tank)

So, Id had a long day at work, gotten home and played with my kids a bit. Once I put them to bed, my wife started watching a movie and half falling asleep on the couch, so I decided I would try to get a little TOR-time in. I logged onto my level 55 Vanguard tank, and noticed almost immediately upon logging onto fleet, that a group was looking for a tank for Hard Mode Explosive Conflict. I figured, since I hadnt completed my [WEEKLY] Classic Operations missions yet, this would be a decent way to get it done. Oh how wrong I was!

I joined the group, which was still looking for a healer and a dps. They found their last two members, and I went to enter the instance and had a message that the groups progress was further along than mine. So I checked the lockouts, and noted that one of the dps players in the group was locked on Toth and Zorn. Not a big deal…” I thought to myself That will just make this run a little shorter. I said something in the chat regarding this, and the response from the Ops leader (who was the character that was locked out) says Yes, I did it with my guild earlier before we quit. They are the hardest boss in this operation, so its really good that I already have them downed.

I choked a little bit on my tongue at that moment, and responded in the chat Actually, Toth and Zorn are the EASIEST boss in this operation. Just sayin.

However, at that moment I decided it was a good time to Inspect Achievements. That led me to a terrible realization: 3 of the dps, and both healers had NEVER cleared Story Mode Explosive Conflict, let alone Hard Mode. I stopped in my tracks. I mention in the chat that I see we have quite a few people who have never done the operation. (No response). I then paste into the chat, the information for my Ventrilo server and state that I have absolutely no problem whatsoever explaining the fights and getting the new folks through the content, but that I would absolutely require that all of the people who were doing it for the first time be on Ventrilo. Upon posting my vent server information, I had a total of 5 people (including myself) join my server. One dps (the operations leader) and both of the healers did not join, and all 3 of them were first-timers. I mentioned the Ventrilo server a few more times, until I see typed in chat;

Healer A: Dude, what is your hard-on for Ventrilo? We will be fine.

SO I gave up on it, and started pulling trash and giving little brief explanations as we went.
We enter the area where Firebrand and Stormcaller are. I explained the fight over Ventrilo to the fresh DPS that had joined the server, and the other tank, since it was his first time tanking it, although he had healed it many times. I then typed into the ops chat, in great detail, EXACTLY what everyone was supposed to do. Midway through explaining the fight via typed chat;

DPS ops leader: That sounds really difficult, why dont we all just kill one of them, then we kill the other one instead of trying to do them both at the same time. 

(It was at this moment that I realized why this player thought that Toth & Zorn were so difficult) 

Me: You cant do that easily, you have to fight them together, it really is the easiest way. 

And then I continued explaining the fight. Until a minute later; 

Hard-headed dps ops leader: Really, I say we just kill them one by one. Sounds like it would be a lot simpler than what youre suggesting we do. 

I was at a loss for words, other than to say If you want to try to do that at some point, be my guest, but its not going to be with this team, not on my repair bill dime. 

So after explaining the fight in great detail. Making sure that the healer I was putting on Firebrands side got a detailed explanation how to Kite/Cleanse the missiles/spikes, and that everyone else knew very clearly that were supposed to NOT stand on the ground, NOT AoE under the shields, and how to handle the shield phase in general. 

Genius dps ops leader: Wait a minute What is a cleanse? And what does that have to do with the missiles? 

Me: That explanation was for the healer, you dont have a cleanse because you are a Sentinel. The healer should know what I meant. 

/rc . . . . . . EVERYONE IS READY! 

I jump up on Stormcaller. The other tank jumps up on Firebrand. All the dps jump up on their tanks. Firebrands healer stays on the ground. Stormcallers healer stays on the ground. I type quickly into the chat You need to get up ON the tank, NOW. But all he was doing, was standing there, focus-healing himself from the massive damage he was taking from the missiles/spikes dropping from the sky on him, since there were two people on the ground, instead of one, as I had clearly instructed. Neither me, nor the two dps on Stormcaller received a single heal, the healer shortly died, and I decided it was a wipe, and ran back to the door and typed /stuck. 

Rage-inducing dps ops leader: The healers really need to keep themselves bubbled, so they dont take so much damage, and the tank on Stormcaller needs to hold agro so the boss doesnt attack the healer. 

Me: Actually, the healer on Stormcaller needed to be standing ON the tank on that side. That was the problem. He was taking damage he never should/would have taken if he was on the tank. 

Patience-draining dps ops leader:  Why would he get closer to the boss? Hes going to take more damage. 

Me: Really? Are you asking me that? I just explained all of this, in great detail just mere moments ago. If you guys want me to continue, I need to have everyone on Ventrilo. Now. 

Stormcallers Healer: I dont need to be on vent. You guys handle the mechanics, and I will just heal. 

Me: Gang, this fight is actually pretty easy. The next boss is more complicated, and the last boss is even more so. I need the new folks on Ventrilo if we are going to continue. 

Brain-damaged dps ops leader: How hard can it really be? Lets just do this. 

Me: Im really sorry guys. I dont have the patience or the desire to rack up a 200k repair bill. I wish you all the best, but I am bowing out of this one. 

I logged out of the game, turned my computer off, and went downstairs to watch the rest of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire with my wife.

Operation: Story Mode Scum & Villainy (8-man)
Character: Level 55 Mercenary (DPS)

Later that night, I logged on again but this time on my level 55 Mercenary. I immediately saw on Fleet that someone was looking for DPS for Story Mode Scum & Villainy, so I answered the call. I joined, we started a fresh run. One-shotted every boss and we were done in around 90 minutes. 

Proof that PuGing is gambling.

PuG vs. Guild Run: Much less naked dancing in PuG's I've noticed.