The day we saved Christmas

What better time to tell a story than Christmas? It’s cold outside and cozy inside, we’re celebrating with our loved ones… But do we think about those who, secretly, work hard to make the magic happen? Well, this story is all about them.

Dragondoe

Finally, the last week-end before Christmas, I can’t wait to celebrate. Unfortunately, all this fighting against the Burning Legion got me delayed on my preparations. There is still so much to do, gifts to buy, cards to send and a feast to cook. It’s going to take me all week-end but I can’t postpone it anymore, I must go shopping.

Normally, I love going shopping with Madstag, but only two days for an entire Christmas shopping is too short, I won’t have time to go chat at the fishing store or spend a half day around a bonfire, I must go alone. I’m sad for my man, he’s gonna have to spend an entire week-end alone, but this is not the time for romance, shopping is serious business.

I woke up early, took my breakfast and silently got out of Moonglade’s inn. Madstag is still sleeping, the poor thing is exhausted after weeks and weeks spent on that dreadful planet. This end of the year holiday will do him good…

First stop, Orgrimmar. Our ornaments got destroyed last year after our tree caught fire when I tried to make a flaming ice cream. It was totally not my fault, I just tripped over the cat. Anyway, I was tired of the white, it’s time to go multi-color! After an hour or two touring the shops, I’m already walking with more bags than I can carry, it’s time to go deposit all of this at the bank.

As I pass in front of the tavern, I can’t help but notice a sad Orc. He’s crying and no one seems to notice him. I walk to him and hand him a cinnamon roll, he accepts it and gives me a smile that means “thanks, but it won’t help much”. I ask him if I could do anything to help but he just shakes his head… Men and their pride, sigh.

I sit beside him and notice that his leg is in plaster. I ask him how it happened, but he burst in tears. After sobbing for a while, he finally explains me that he’s part of Greatfather Winter’s helpers and that he’s in charge of the distribution of the gifts this Winter Veil. He has spent an entire year collecting them but, as he was getting ready to place them under the trees all over Azeroth, he broke his leg and he won’t be able to do it.

What a dreadful situation! No gifts? We may as well cancel this year’s holiday, I won’t let it happen! I tell him that I’m more than willing to help, I’ll still have plenty of time for my shopping during the week.

He tells me that the gifts are hidden in a cave he rented. I ask him to draw me a map, but he obviously drowned his sorrows in more beer than he could hold, I’d better draw it myself. He tells me that the cave is located in Winterspring. The place is easy to find when you’re on the right path, which starts in Everlook.

No time to waste, I’m gonna take care of the gifts. I drop my bags at the bank, dreamwalk to Moonglade and fly to Winterspring. After a short flight, I finally land at Everlook. I take the path East, just as Arnok told me. I walk for about an hour when I finally see the entry of a cave.

I prepare a torch and walk in. The cave is pretty deep, which is weird for a storage place… As I reach the end of the path, I enter in a large circular room. The only light comes from a huge blue pearl on a pedestal located at the center. I can see a Night Elf lady screaming things in a language I don’t understand, then I hear a crack behind my head and everything gets blurred then black.

Madstag

An entire month spent healing troops on Argus (and rescuing Dragondoe from the perillous situations she got into), I think that I’ve deserved a week-end of rest in Moonglade. I wish I could spend it with my lady, but, let’s be honest, I hate going to town. All that noise, all these people, it’s definitely not my cup of tea.

As Dragondoe is getting ready for her shopping trip, I pretend to still be sleeping. She’d probably look at me with her soft eyes and, as usual, I’d change my mind and go with her. I can’t take that risk, I’ve bought a ton of fishing bait and I can’t let it go to waste…

As I hear her leaving, I open an eye and inspect the room, it seems empty. I stay in bed a bit longer, to make sure that she didn’t forget anything. The coast is clear, I jump out of bed, get dressed and pick up my bag.

It’s gonna be a good one, I can feel it. I make my way to the border of the lake, install my fishing chair, make sure that no one is around and finally take off my boots. You see, people may think that I’m an adventurer, but where I belong is here, in the middle of the forest, with the squirrels and my slippers.

I ready my first cast, that’s usually when some catastrophe happens and I have to leave everything behind. The bobber is bobbing and nothing happens… Could this be real? Could this be THE week-end where I finally get to enjoy the calm and the peace of the nature. But it would be too easy… As I ready my second cast, an orc comes out of the bushes and asks me if I’m Dragondoe’s husband.

I loose it and start yelling “Let me guess, she tried to help someone and ended up in trouble? What is it this time? A sad dragon? An ancient warlord? A long forgotten prophecy? A devilsaur with a toothache? WON’T I EVER BE ABLE TO CATCH A BREAK?”

The Orc looks at me, half puzzled, half terrified… After a few minutes, I calm down and ask him what happened.

He tells me that his name is Arnok and he explains me that he’s one of Greatfather Winter’s helpers. He tells me how he has met my wife and how good a person she is, he also tells me that she’s gone to save the presents but that she might be on her way to the wrong cave. He was, apparently, a bit drunk when he gave her the directions and the zone where the gifts are hidden is also know to host many cultists and pirates lairs.

Afraid that such a good hearted person would end up in danger because of him, he asked around to see if anyone knew Dragondoe. Finally, it’s the owner of Orgrimmar’s fishing shop who told him that I was gone fishing and where he could find me…

After making sure that I have the correct location, I leave the Orc behind and fly to the rescue. From far, I can see Arnok taking my place in my fishing chair… At least someone will enjoy it. I fly straight to the right cave. It is indeed filled with presents, but, as we feared, Dragondoe is nowhere to be found.

I fly the to next cave on the right, it’s full of bandits and there’s no sign of my wife. I decide to check a third cave, this time on the left.

After walking down a long dark path, I can see a huge round room with a gigantic blue pearl in the middle. I shapeshift to cat and prowl to see what’s going on. A Night Elf lady is yelling things in a language I don’t understand to a crowd that seems to be worshiping the pearl.

Far, in a corner, I notice a few cages and Dragondoe is in one of them. Unnoticed, I make my way to her. She tells me that the cultists, led by that mad druid, are about to sacrifice her to the pearl.

There are too many cultists in here, we can’t risk getting both caught, I need a diversion.

I can see a few hay stacks on the other side of the room, I get closer and set them on fire. A thick white smoke quickly fills in the room. The druid and her followers try to put the fire out and, meanwhile, I get the pearl and run out of the cave.

The last time I felt this nervous, I was carrying the flag in Warsong Gulch…
I make my way to the other cave where the bandits are. I leave the pearl at the entry of their hiddeout and let out a huge growl. When the cultists finally arrive, decided to get their pearl back, the bandits already took possession of the oversized jewel.

I discretely make my way back to the cave where Dragondoe was kept prisoner.
As I enter the main room, I notice the evil Night Elf lady, she lays on the floor, where the pearl was before. She’s in tears and my wife is trying to cheer her up “don’t worry, there are plenty of other pearls in the ocean”.

The cult leader makes her best to talk in our language. We don’t understand everything but we get a few words “my precious”, “will not stop swimming”,… Then, she gets up, tidies up her robes and leaves the cave as if nothing happened.

We spent the rest of the week-end flying over Azeroth, dropping gifts at the foot of each Christmas Tree. Winter Veil was saved and I could finally enjoy the rest of my holiday in Moonglade.

As for the cult leader, we can sometimes hear the tale of a crazy druid lady who never stopped searching the seas for her beloved pearl…


The Brutes have gone hippie

Where the hell have we been? Well, we’ve been chasing butterflies and enjoying the change of seasons. We had a great Halloween, filled with good (and less good) horror movies.

We’ve also been reflecting on a way to enjoy WoW without being constantly burned out. Spending our entire WoW time hunting achievements was easily getting tedious. We needed to enjoy more of what the game has to offer, and we really didn’t enjoy instancing with our hunters. So we went back to our druids. Don’t worry, we’re still brutal, only a bit softer (probably because of all the feathers).

Sardoken

My first character in WoW was a druid… It was the time when only Taurens or Night-elves could be druids. I remember that morning, Soforah was about to join me at the office for lunch and we were going to buy games for our Easter holidays… Instead of working, I had spent my time reading the descriptions of all the classes and races, trying to choose which character I would create. I rolled a druid for a few reasons:

  • I wanted to be Alliance (I know, silly choice);
  • I didn’t want to be a human (already enough of it IRL);
  • I wanted a class that could fill all roles.

So, for a year or two, until The Burning Crusade, I healed in raids and I was pretty happy. Until the day I decided to see what the other classes had to offer. From that moment on, I’ve only been switching characters: rogue, warlock, mage, shaman and, finally, hunter.

I kept playing with my hunter through Cataclysm, Pandaria, Draenor and almost all Legion, but I’ve never been really happy with my class. I thought that the strong ability of the hunter to solo almost everything would open all doors to me. Unfortunately, it did quite the opposite, I didn’t have fun in dungeons, raids or PvP anymore, so I kept hunting achievements.

Most of the time, I would play for a few months, then get tired of doing the same things all the time, quit the game, then come back for a few more months… This has been my WoW pattern for the last 6 years.

During my recent break, I thought that the day I would come back, I would change radically, I would go back to a class that would give me fun in raids and dungeons: the Druid. So, without further delay, I present you Madstag, my Tauren druid:

It’s been a few weeks that I’m trying to catch back on the expansion, mixing instances and quests, and I’m having an absolute blast! Not only have I found back the pleasure to heal in raids and dungeons but I’ve also found back the drive to gear my character, to perform as good as I can. My game time is more balanced which greatly helps preventing the burn-out.

Soforah

When Sardoken told me that he wanted to main back his druid, I thought about leveling mine to keep him company. But, as I was playing with my moonkin, I realized how much more fun I had than with my beast master.

Eventhough the DPS of my balance druid isn’t as big as my hunters’, I just have more fun casting spells and shapeshifting. Also, I’ve missed my Tauren and I’m glad to find her back, meet Dragondoe.

I’ve practically caught up on on almost all Legion content, I’ve even started “Balance of power” which I didn’t with my hunter. I ran an heroic, a normal raid, a few mythic dungeons and had fun doing these! Now that’s something I thought I’d never say!

Until a week ago, I always thought that LFR and LFG were more than enough for me. I guess that playing the wrong class never motivated me to get out of my comfort zone. I dreaded running dungeons and raids, grouping up in general was like a stressful nightmare. This made me feel left out in the game for years. My moonkin, on the other hand, made me realize that all these things are actually fun and make me look forward to my next gaming session.

At the moment, Sardoken and I are in the middle of our 3 week Christmas holidays, which means that we have more time to game! Here’s a list of all the things that I wish to accomplish in WoW before the end of the most wonderful time of the year:

  • Getting exalted with Ravenhold so, I finally get the title “The Insane” (nothing new, but like that it will be official :p);
  • Finishing all quests in Suramar to get the “Insurrection” achievement;
  • Getting the fishing artifact
  • Leveling my Legion reputations, including the fisherfriends;
  • Getting my classmount;
  • Progress in “Balance of power”;
  • Getting a cool transmog because Dragondoe looks like a homeless gypsy.

There’s a lot more that I would like to do, but what would be the fun in completing all at once, right?


Grim Dawn – Ashes of Malmouth (2/2)

Three weeks ago, Sardoken and I were highly praising Grim Dawn in this blog, and yes, we had a lot of fun until we had reached the end of Act 5. While the game is beautiful, it quickly becomes very boring due to the new system of “resistances” they’ve implemented.

We’ve both been playing a character with the same build, practically the same gear, except for some difference in our resistances (fire, chaos, life,…). Yet, I could run the Void’s Edge (end of Act 5) without dying once, while Sardoken’s character died about a million times. So, we did a test, I equipped gear with other resistances and went back to the same place, and guess what… Where all went smooth before, I now got killed over and over again. This means that no matter the build or the gear, all that counts is the right resistance. It didn’t only become frustrating in the end, it was also extremely boring because it’s a huuuuuge run back without any possibility of placing a portal in the Void’s Edge.

Once I had reached Act 6, I understood that the resistances on my gear that helped me flawlessly through Act 5, were obsolete. This time I needed gear with Aether resist, and due to the lack of that, I was dying all the time.This was a complete turn down for me. The game would normally score super well, but this extremely boring grind for gear with the right resistance is just horrible. I’ve quit the game in the middle of Act 6, and I can’t even bother to go back to see the end of the story. It could have been so much fun, I actually love the Cthulhu-esque and witchy theme that they have going on there. Too bad they’ve completely ruined it with that “resistance” grind, maybe one day I’ll feel courageous enough to go back there, but I don’t think that will be any time soon.


Back Country

An urban couple goes camping in the woods of a Canadian National Park. Alex is trying to impress his girlfriend, Jenn, by showing her the stunning nature of the park, but, instead, they find themselves lost in the territory of a predatory black bear.

Warning: this post is spoiler heavy!

The acting is excellent as are the production values. There is a genuine atmosphere of menace and fear, especially when it appears that Alex is hardly Bear Grylls and you sort of know that something bad is going to happen.

During the entire movie, I couldn’t help but think: why is that guy (Alex) ignoring all advises,… I understand that he wants to impress his girlfriend, but he fist negates all advise given by the ranger, refuses to accept the map, leaves all mobile communication devices behind, then again refuses to follow the path right after a guide advised so, and ignores entirely all signs of impending doom,… I mean, dude, really?! At the first sign of the presence of a bear, I would be heading straight back home!

Nevertheless, his death was atrocious, and the entire escape scene of the girl was something you could literally feel.

I also have to mention Eric Balfour’s character, Brad. After he took off, I was left with an ominous feeling. Was this movie about some psychopath preying on young couples in the woods? Somehow, I expected that he was lurking around and about to strike at any moment. I was totally caught off guard when it turns out that the real threat to the couple turned out to be a bear and not Brad. His appearance was so menacing, preying on Alex’s weak personality and insecurity.

Well, one thing I’ve realized watching this movie is that I’ll never want to go camping ever!

Anyway, I can highly recommend watching this movie. If you like survival, trips go horribly wrong kind of films, I’m sure you’ll like this one!


Grim Dawn – Ashes of Malmouth (1/2)

The first expansion of Grim Dawn is out and it brought a lot of new stuff to this already great Hack’n Slash: new class masteries, increased level cap, 2 new chapters,… You can check the complete list of new features here.
After having spent most afternoons of our first week of Halloween holidays fighting our way through the game, here are our thoughts about it:

Sardoken

I had a few weeks of fun last year playing Grim Dawn, but the unoptimized graphic engine broke the game for me. In some zones, the game couldn’t get above 20 fps on a last gen PC with a 1080GTX…

The first thing I noticed with Ashes of Malmouth is that the graphic engine has been updated and never goes below 60 fps no matter the zone. To me, that’s a big green light.

Also, the classes I rolled back then were too squishy (dual handed soldier with 0 physique) or too boring (summoner). This time, like Soforah, I went for a balance between resistance and offense, a Witchblade (soldier + occultist).
So far (almost level 40), I’m having a blast. Leveling in heavy armor with a two hand and arc as main skill is insanely fun.

I know that I’m nowhere near the end game and that everything will change in ultimate but leveling is a big part of my experience, I’m not rushing, I’m on holidays and I wanna take it easy 😉

Soforah

Before the release of “Ashes of Malmouth”, I was playing a summoner in Grim Dawn. While I had a lot of fun leveling my character before this expansion, I’ve grown tired of summoning things and letting them do the job for me. Let’s face it, nothing’s more satisfying and rewarding in a hack ‘n slash than smashing all and everything around you with a bad-ass weapon. So, I went for another build this time. No more “cast and run”, but a “come at me bro” type of character that can take quite some damage before dying.

The last time I went for a melee class was in Skyrim and Diablo, and man, did I miss it! I’m having so much fun, I can’t wait to see how my character will perform in endgame content.

At the moment, I’m following a Cadence Witchblade build, partially from a build Sardoken found on the Grim Dawn Forums, the other part by improvising.

Until now I’ve followed most of his advise though… I needed to start somewhere, right? ;-p

Leveling guide byjajaja

Level with 2hand blade arc:

Start soldier, rush mastery to blade arc, max it, then rush to laceration, max it. 1 point in blitz for gap closer, then rush to oleron’s rage, max. then pop a point in occultist and max CoF. Afterwards get soldier passives then more points in occultist for the passives as you see fit.

Basically pop CoF and bladearc away.

Start with falconswoop/hawk, then lizard to get kraken. afterwards slowly work ur way up to oleron, getting dryad/assassins blade on the way to level those skill.

Get a high dmg 2hand mace from vendor on a high lvl char , or do the best you can if its ur first char, attackspeed isn’t that important, just high base dmg, a white one is fine. when choosing gear, make sure to get decent armor values and get armor absorption up with scaled hide/field of command. use ectoplasms if you need mana, if its your first char you can farm those from ghosts in A2 spined cave or something like that.

Go all physique early to use high lvl armor/weapon.

At lvl 75 spec to real build. devotions are straight forward and no backward speccing required.

So far, I’m having a blast! I can’t wait to see how this build will work when running higher difficulties, I’ll write a new post with my thoughts and ideas later on.


The Human Centipede

I long hesitated before watching it… Well, I should have hesitated a bit longer and decided not to watch it.

I thought that, maybe, behind the disgusting “poop-in-the-mouth” thing, was hiding a well written and well acted creepy story. It isn’t the case. The Human Centipede is a nauseating “what-the-fuck” movie that we’ve cut before the end.


Annabelle

A couple begins to experience terrifying supernatural occurrences involving a vintage doll shortly after their home is invaded by satanic cultists. – Imdb

Throughout the entire movie I couldn’t stop but think that Annabelle is one hell of creepy and ugly doll! I really wonder why people would to want to buy this horrific looking thing. Now that I got this of my chest, here’s what I think about the movie…

With the release of Annabelle 2, I remembered never having watched the first one. Blasphemy! I kind of like all movies that were inspired on the Ed & Lorraine Warren case files. I don’t know why, but it has some really creepy vibe around it. Until this day, Annabelle, the curse of the devil doll, is still housed in the Warrens’ occult museum. How creepy is that?

Anyway, the movie in itself started off slow. It had a great opening scene with satanic cultists invading the home of a young couple (Mia & John). Yet, the beginning of the movie remained pretty mild with the typical haunted house occurrences like doors that close by themselves,… So, until that moment I didn’t really feel a real threat. Later on, however, Mia goes down the basement on a stormy night and that’s where things start to get pretty creepy!

As it is, I liked this movie more than I thought I would. I wasn’t expecting too much, since I hated how the Annabelle doll looked and I can’t imagine anyone wanting one like it in their house. However, the film managed to transcend “the boring haunted doll cliché” and actually created genuine scares towards the end of the film. Unlike a lot of horror movies, with their puzzling half and half ending, this one had a decent and believable end. Thumbs up for that!

On a side note: the actress that plays Mia, is named Annabelle Wallis in real life. Yes, I’m a sucker for details like that ;-p

In my opinion, “Annabelle” is, until now, the best movie we’ve watched during our 2017 Halloween holidays. Definitely worth the watch! I’m even looking forward to see what the second movie is about.


A Dark Song

“A determined young woman and a damaged occultist risk their lives and souls to perform a dangerous ritual that will grant them what they want.” – Imdb.

During the first half of the movie, I was thrilled to finally see a movie that doesn’t feature a ritual performed by four kids, a flashlight and a magic book that they found in the attic of their new house. The ritual performed in A Dark Song takes several months and begins by a spiritual and physical cleansing. The relationship between the woman and the occultist as well as the fantastic soundtrack contribute to build the heaviest and creepiest tension I’ve ever seen in a ritual movie.

As I was ready to see the ritual go wrong and end up in one of my creepiest TV moment, the movie flops. People with floured faces suddenly appear. They are supposed to be demons, unfortunately they feel more like actors from an opera of Maurice Béjart. And, when they finally manage to summon an angel, after 4 months of physical and psychological self-inflicted torture, this is what the woman asks as a favor (warning: spoiler):

The power of forgiveness.

At that moment, the movie was entirely screwed for me. What could have been one of the greatest ritual movies sadly turned into some crappy psychological drama.

With the tension that was built, I could have imagined the ritual going wrong. Since the woman had hidden her true intention to revenge on her kid’s murderers, a demon would have appeared and their immortal souls would have been damned to remain prisoners in the house, trapped with that evil presence for eternity.

Unlike the protagonist, I don’t have the power of forgiveness, so all I’ll give this movie is a two stars. Don’t watch it, please, it’ll only encourage these people making more dramas comouflaged into horror movies.


The Void

The Void is about a police officer that delivers a man, who seems to be drunk and hurt, to a remote hospital. Soon, very strange and violent events take place, including the appearance of mysterious hooded figures.

The movie isn’t that bad, it’s a bit between Hellraiser and The Thing. Unfortunately, the clunky acting and the slow pacing ruined what could have been a great movie.

The film has bags of atmosphere and sense of dread, but with zero explanation for the events that unfold. At some point, I started to feel restless and itchy in my couch, which means that there wasn’t enough action involved, and I lost interest.

I’m always up for a bit of a mystery but, in the end, who are the hooded people outside the hospital? No idea! Why are people turning into monsters? No idea! Where does the strange triangular gateway lead to? No idea! It feels like once again they had a great idea for a story, but no clue on how to realize a satisfying ending.

My final verdict: worth the watch but, without any expectations, and most certainly not for a big horror night!


Tonight she comes

After a girl goes missing, two of her friends and a mysterious set of strangers find themselves drawn to the cabin in the woods where she disappeared. They will laugh, they will drink, they will kiss, they will make love, and THEY MUST ALL DIE. – Imdb

This could have been a perfect recipe for a good slasher movie…

However, the only thing that I could think about during the entire movie is: “What the hell am I looking at?”. The movie was super bad and absurd at the same time, yet we couldn’t stop watching it. The acting was bad, the script was laughable and the effects… well, don’t get me started on that one.

I still don’t understand how this production ever got released. It felt more like a 84 minute gory hallucination than an actual movie. Like most reviewers on Imdb say: “Heed my warning! Don’t waste your time on this one!”.