GW2: Love/Hate Song for a Dragon (NBI Poetry Slam)

Tequatl and I have a very complex relationship going on...

teq-splode

Shall I compare thee to a sunless day?
Tequatl, the Undying, Zhaitan’s knight
the scourge of countless nations, Sparkfly’s blight
Thy bulk shrouds sky amidst desolate bay
by turret and megalaser array
we bide our time and wait for thee, packed tight
Dull hours pass, the throng endures despite
Hark! There’s something in the water, they say!

teq-waiting

Players rouse themselves and charge, Teq stuns thrice
stumbles, goes down, the hordes do rush the chest
Hopeful, for good things come to those who wait
Mass disappointment reigns, still nothing nice
Just greens and blues, as most folks can attest
Each time, the more my love doth turn to hate

shatteredspikes

Shall I compare thee to a starless night?
Oh Taco, Destroyer of Dreams betrayed
Thy cool cruel Majesty, oft delayed
‘Gainst the Shattered dragon, crystalline blight
No wait, but neither any hard fought fight
I stabbed a claw, and snoozed, no health decayed
Too soon it died, and still the loot dismayed…
A quaggan wakes me from my fancy flight

teq-poison

The surge of embers roar into my ear
Lava fonts bloom, the zerg assails his flank
I think of how one charr can turn the tides
amidst thy poison cloud caress, no fear!
No turret falls – I guard, protect and tank
In strife, the more my love for you abides

teq-chest

This one goes out to all those who have ever waited for Tequila.

(And Syl too, of course. Because we would never do these without a starting kick in the pants. Join the NBI poetry slam today!)

teq-bones

Reaper Bones II Kickstarter Returns!

For the few of my readers who may actually be interested in my mania for collecting figurines that may eventually, someday, be painted… you may like to know that Reaper Miniatures has launched their second Bones Kickstarter.

As usual, these are plastic resin minis, going for some mindblowing prices.

I can attest to the detail being not terrible (based on the first Kickstarter received) but have not yet gotten around to applying paint on any of them yet.

Some reports say that Vallejo paints cannot be directly applied to them, whereas Reaper Master Series Paints work perfectly fine.

I’d love to verify this, but have been facing the equivalent of clearing out a storage basement’s worth of stuff to get to my Vallejo paints (which could very well be dried out by now, but who knows, maybe living in a humid climate may have some side benefits) and massively procrastinating as a result.

At any rate, my old habit was to use paint-on gesso primer for my minis, which are mostly display-only, so I’m not really worried about that.

Unfortunately, this time around, Reaper has learned that international shipping rates are exorbitant and cutthroat and that they cannot afford to absorb the cost for everyone.

So yeah, if you’re living outside the good ol’ US of A, you may have to factor that into your decision.

Speaking for myself, I may end up using a local mail forwarding service that offers a US address (taking advantage of the free US shipping) and cheaper shipping rates back to the little red dot.

We’ll see just how much USPS wants to charge when their pledge manager comes up. *twitch*

Be aware, this is a Kickstarter, so it -is- a down payment for a fairly far future.

I would also factor in another half a year to the stated delivery date, just to be a little cynically realistic about unforeseen delays and just how many packages can be properly packed and labeled and sent out in a day.

I frankly doubt that I’ll be able to paint up even a quarter of my current collection by that time, so I’m really not worried about how long they take to get to me, as long as they arrive eventually.

But but but… dragons. So many cool plastic dragons!

They must be mine!

‘Nuff said.

Reaper Bones Kickstarter: They’re Here!

Almost one year later to the date, these beauties are finally home in my grubby greasy hands.

That makes my Kickstarter record 2 for 2. Defence Grid delivered on their expansion, and so did Reaper.

loot

I got the email a week ago saying Reaper’d finally shipped out my package.

As I was one of those international nutcases who got nearly one of everything extra, I was fully expecting the late ship date. I much rather they pack my stuff well and not miss out a thing, rather than face a longer process of back-and-forth emailing and shipping to get replacements.

USPS performed admirably and got the box here in one piece in a rather timely fashion.

(I’ve had the odd Amazon shipment go awry and take a month or two to arrive. Credit to them, they do send replacements quickly and generally, 95% of the shipments make it in 7-10 days or less. A wandering package gone walkabout is rare.)

My first priority was to take inventory.

This was a little tricky as I’d bought a LOT of dragons. I couldn’t remember offhand which one was Red Dragon versus There Be Dragons, fer instance.

It ended up a rather high-tech low-tech crossover with iPad in one hand as picture reference and receipt in the other, sorting one pile of white from another.

The first thing I was rather taken aback by was the heft. For plastic minis, they have a very nice solid feel to them. (Note, these are the larger “extras” minis I was sorting, so I presume there was quite a lot of resin/plastic that went into making them.)

I couldn’t resist cracking some bags open and test fitting parts. Again, to my surprise, about two thirds of the parts fit together very well and even stayed in place without any kind of adhesive whatsoever. The rest (like some heads) were a little light to lock in place securely, so I used some Blu-Tac as temporary sticky putty for the test fit.

I don’t really forsee a problem supergluing them in place later, but there’s always “green stuff” epoxy putty if it doesn’t work. Most of the joins fit together decently well, though if you’re picky, some puttying to smooth things over would be necessary. I was only not too pleased with one sculpt, which I will describe later.

The detail level was also very satisfactory for me, factoring in the material they are made out of. Fine lines like that on the dragon wing membranes have actually been picked up. Examining an elf showed that even the eyeball sockets were there. The caveat is that the details do seem a bit shallower than that on metal minis, so I suspect thin layers of paint will be in order here to not accidentally remove that detail.

For the following photos, please bear in mind that I just grabbed a camera in my excitement and mostly snapped on automatic before I ran out of charge. I couldn’t for the life of me remember how to get a proper macro mode going, so stuff will be blurry and lack detail. I’ll work it out later when I get to painting.

hydra

The Hydra, Frost Wyrm and Forces of Nature sculpts were very good. Everything fit together with barely any need to resort to Blu-Tac (except the earth elemental’s head.) Everything stands upright, they have a good heft to them, and one probably won’t even need to base these guys unless one wants to.

heretherebedragons

There Be Dragons are also a nice pair of “small” dragons (compared to all the other big stuff, that is) that fit together well for the most part. You might be able to make out a bit of the black Blu-Tac (only color I had to hand) peeking out of one wing seam, but that’s about it.

demon

I simply had to assemble this one half of the Demon pair. This guy’s wing span is incredible, dwarfing even some of the dragon’s. All the parts fit together smoothly as silk. Wings, tail, sword arms, only the head needed some Tac help staying in place.

undeadgiant

The undead giant was impressive as all get out. I could have sworn those thin arms would not have stuck on to the sockets, but they slid in and did. And the entire torso sits snugly on a waist joint. The only thing is the hammer is a little wobbly, since the arm is quite thin.

deathsleet

These two, Deathsleet and Red Dragon, are slight problem children. Don’t get me wrong, the sculpts are beautiful, the wings fit (with the help of a little temporary Tac) but they have a slight balance problem. Deathsleet tends to lean over sideways and threatens to fall over. Red Dragon leans backward and the front of the base lifts off the surface.

I suspect this is the materials change causing a change in the center of gravity as compared to one made out of metal. Red Dragon could probably still be used as is (but look unsightly, I was tempted to glue a washer or two to the front underside of its base) but Deathsleet will fall over with a faint breeze. These two would definitely benefit from a nice hefty solid base.

ebonwraith

Of this lot, the only one I struggled with and thus was not immediately thrilled by was Ebonwraith. He looks cool, no doubt about it. His wings have a fitting problem.

They also look rather identical, so I was sitting there for a while trying out both wings on each socket in different configurations, squinting at the socket joins to see which fit the best. No smooth fit like the rest of the minis had spoiled me with.

It’s not extreme, in the sense that you won’t be cutting anything in order to fit them, but it is major enough that you’ll be filling the gaps with quite a bit of putty.

wingsocket

On the bright side, I suppose this allows you to adjust the wings at different angles according to your preference this way.

All in all, am happy to report that everything was as it should be and none of the extras were missing. As for the Vampire box stock-take though:

vampireminis

Yeah, that’s going to have to wait for another night.

GW: The Majesty of Rotscale

Ah, Rotscale.

I have no Ancient Times stories about Rotscale. I doubt I explored that far.

Even if I did eventually wander into Majesty’s Rest, it was generally a case of “I came, I saw, I died. Repeatedly.”

But I do have tremendous respect for him. How could you not? He sits up on a rise, the King of the Dracoliches, flanked by the most scary-looking Council of Undead Dragons of Way Higher Level Than 20, ready to challenge all comers.

The flaming Balthazar statue and the entourage of smoke phantoms herald the path toward him.

It was probably only a couple years ago that I felt ready to attempt taking on Rotscale, with a more sturdy Paragon and slightly better built heroes. There were a lot of solo experiments, failed attempts to pull, many deaths, frustration with Frozen Soil, much Googling of ancient forum posts dating back to 2006-2007 and in the end, maybe a 25-50% chance of defeating him and his gang on Normal Mode, don’t even begin to talk about Hard Mode.

There were vague memories of having a much easier time during the Halloween festival. At the time, I wasn’t sure why, but the next Halloween refreshed my memory as to why. One got a whole contingent of Candy Corn Men to help out.

Somewhere through the painful learning process, it eventually hit me that the statue of Balthazar might be there for a reason, and there was such a thing as /kneeling in front of altars. Oh hey, a buff! Many buffs!

I might have wanted to prove that I could do it without ‘outside’ help at the time. These days, my advice to anyone wanting to fight Rotscale. Take the buff. Take all the buffs you need. It’s a lot less painful. The key is not to let anyone die and Frozen Soil screw you over, so buff up those heroes’ hp and their regen (and your own) by any means necessary.

A year ago, in 2011, I decided it was finally time for the ultimate test. A Majesty’s Rest vanquish. Yep, Hard Mode Rotscale. He still kicked my ass around the place, so eventually, sometime during Halloween, this happened:

Note the insane number of buffs I threw on. Consets, the altar buff, probably candy of various sorts or whatever. The Candy Corn Men came along for the vanquish too, but I think they all wiped during the big push. Even my heroes have been downed twice somewhere along the way.

The fight was pretty colossal and raid-like in scope for me being by my lonesome. Literally minutes went by as we kept stalemating his hp and trying to drive it ever so slightly lower.

Eventually, it gave out and I was the happy owner of a golden icon signifying a successful area vanquish. Epic.

I gotta admit in retrospect that my hero builds were still not as good as they could be. Their gear is not entirely ideal. And didn’t have Panic yet, for example.

These days, I take Gwen and Vekk around as double mesmers, able to switch between panic or energy surge builds as needed and very interrupty. (I take Vekk for a number of reasons: I spent quite a while kitting out his gear with ludicrous amounts of +energy, I hate the look of the other mesmer heroes, and who can resist a snotty Asura? He can also switch to searing flames elementalist as needed.)

But hey, a win is a win, even if it’s 5 years after others have done it and with more effort than thou.

For the Wayfarer’s Reverie, I went in Normal Mode, something I was confident of getting done with just altar buffs and no need for strange confluences of buffs and overkill.

While taking screenshots, in extreme nostalgia mode and thus paying close attention to the scenery, I noticed something I never took conscious note of before.

Can you spot them?

Bugs. Red bugs. In the grasses off the road, if you walk into them, there are huge swarms of little red bugs flying around, and if you listen to the ambient sound, there are distinct cricket-like insect-y sounds.

Close up of the critters

They’re tiny little sprites at best, but, I mean, wow. Someone went through the trouble of putting such tiny barely noticeable detail into the map. Just for… I dunno, subconscious ambience?

Seriously, who pays attention to itty bitty red beetles when one is worrying about how to best place oneself to defeat Rotscale?

But they’re there. Just because.

Talk about immersion and ArenaNet not doing things halfway. Mad props and kudos.

One hectic fight later, where happily, no one died, it was time to claim the quest waypoint in style.

Thus passes the dracolich…