Copper Ice

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Snooker Nation Week 5

This week Jason and I decided to play a best of 9 in Snooker Nation. Thankfully I did better than last week and won 5 frames to 2. I also got the only century of 116 in frame 2.

I would say we both played okay but neither of us played as well as we have been used to recently. There were some very sloppy shots on both sides but at the same time there weren’t any awful frames. The emphasis this week was the amount of safety play. After last week, I was not willing to give Jason in inch and played hard at my safety game. I do not enjoy long tactical games very much, but it did work.

There was one amusing moment where Jason attempted to thinly cut a red into one of the middle pockets. The red looked like it was going to go in but because Jason had to hit the white so hard that the white hit two cushions and came back to knock the red he had just cut off of trajectory. We will never know with absolute certainty whether that red was going in, but for the white to hit it a second time, very unlucky, and funny.

I think we might play Pool Nation next week which could be interesting. Pool Nation is an older game developed by the same company (Cherry Pop Games) who developed Snooker Nation. Neither of us have played this game in a number of years and from what I remember, it handles completely differently. That said, having some fast paced, quick games could be a lot fun.

 

Druid level 110 to 120!

World of Warcraft Moonkin

Over the last week or two I have slowly raised the level of my druid from 110 to 117 with the release of the new World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth. This weekend I decided to get my head down and achieve level 120.

I have really enjoyed playing my druid and I am pleased that I took the time to level her from 100 to 110 in preparation for this expansion which I wrote about here.

During the Cataclysm expansion I had the idea of using my druid to farm what I needed and make gold. At the time there were a number of players who had used balance druids to make a lot of gold and have a lot of fun with what was their insane AoE (Area of effect) abilities. They can also farm herbs while in travel form which made farming herbs really quick. I got her to level 85 (the maximum level at the time) and changed her professions to mining and herbalism for full farming potential. For whatever reason however, after reaching this goal I either got bored or decided to do something else on Warcraft.

Because I changed her professions to mining and herbalism, she has been ideal at providing my paladin with ore to level blacksmithing and at providing my mage with herbs to level alchemy. As such I have gained a lot of experience just by farming the things that I need.

Now my druid is level 120, I might consider investing time in using her for the end game content. Right now, her average item level is 274 which is incredibly poor but understandable considering she has only just hit level 120. Next weekend and perhaps during the week I will try to complete some world quests and dungeons to see if I can get to an average item level of 305 so that I can try some heroic dungeons. There is much to do with only a little time. Any time I spend on her will be taken away from my other characters. I find it frustrating that others who are time rich can get things done while I am forced to prioritize and trail behind.

Snooker Nation Week 4

Snooker Nation Week 4

This week of Snooker Nation has not been good for me. Jason managed to win 4 frames to 0 in a best of 7. As a matter of fact, in the entire match, I only had one opportunity and only managed to pot 1 ball.

Because the match was so one sided, there is very little to write about. Jason played exceptionally well. In the first and second frame Jason won with high breaks but no century, there was however an element of luck, especially in the second frame when he very nearly potted the white and a few shots later nearly potted a red as well as a colour. As for the third and fourth frame, a little luck, but mostly really good, solid play. Jason managed to get a break of 122 in the third frame, eventually missing the final pink which is a shame since he could have ended on 135. In the final frame Jason managed to clear the table with a break of 124.

It is hard to sum up my performance when I did not really have the opportunity to play. I guess you could say I played badly, because I missed my one opportunity and in the final frame I messed up a safety shot. To be honest, being 3-0 down after seeing my friend play so well, I was kind of tilted.

Really looking forward to week 5 where I will try to make amends. Hopefully I get to pot more than 1 ball!

Snooker Nation Week 3

Snooker Nation

Last Friday my friend Jason and I once again found the time to play Snooker Nation. We did not have too much to talk about so decided to play a best of 9 rather than the usual best of 7.

I managed to secure victory 5 frames to 3 and I must say I think I played really well. In the first frame I potted 12 reds and 11 blacks giving me a break of 89 and while the break itself is not very impressive, it was a good run to possibly securing my first 147. I missed the 12th black with great disappointment but I am for the first time thinking that a 147 break is achievable for me.

In the 4th frame I had the only century break of 107 but I let myself down. After potting the black I thought that there were no more reds left on the table and positioned myself to pot the yellow. There was however 1 more red in the baulk end of the table (which I snookered myself on) which left me looking rather stupid. With there being the potential of another 35 points, it is not inconceivable that my break could have ended 142. Even if I potted the red and the blue, that could well have been a break of 140 which would have beaten my current record.

At one point I lead 4 frames to 1 and to his credit, Jason managed to pull it back to 4 frames to 3. In the 8th and final frame Jason even had a healthy lead but missed a pot which gave me the opportunity to play for a re spot. The odds were not in my favour but somehow I managed to score all of the points available. Thankfully it was me who could take the first shot when the black had been re spotted and I managed to pot it without also potting the white (yes this has happened to me).

To be fair on Jason, he played well, especially considering he was clearly very tired. Although being a good sport, he did not use it as an excuse.

Battle for Azeroth First Impressions

Boralus Harbour

Having spent a lot of time both last weekend and this weekend playing the new Battle for Azeroth expansion for World of Warcraft, I feel I can now share my first impressions.

So far I have levelled my Paladin to level 120 and started my Druid getting it to level 114. With the Paladin I have also, as far as I can tell, completed most or all of the quests in two areas and have made a start on the quests in all remaining areas.

My first impression, I have to say, is largely negative. The main reason for this is that I have found very little that is new and unique for the expansion so far.

With The Burning Crusade we first saw flying mounts and the ability to fly in Outland. The Outland zones were also completely different to what vanilla Warcraft had given so far and, for the first time, we shared a city (Shattrath) with the opposite faction. There were two new races, Blood Elf and Draenei plus the alliance could have the shaman class which was exclusively a horde class, while the horde could use the paladin class which was exclusively alliance.

Wrath of the Lich King had a completely new class, the Death Knight. Wintergrasp was the first world zone dedicated to large scale PvP which unlocked a raid for the faction that held/took it. Phasing was also introduced with the Icecrown zone.

Cataclysm revamped much of the Vanilla content and featured the first underwater and subterranean zones (Vashj’ir and Deepholm). Pet battles were introduced along with archaeology and two new races, Goblin and Worgen.

Mists of Pandaria had a new class, Monk and a new race (Pandaren) which for the first time is for both horde and alliance. The overall feel for the zones was also relatively new with an oriental/Asian feel to them all. Using individual player phasing, there was also a farm which each player could see grow and improve over time and effort. There was also the start of a legendary quest string which rewarded more and more as the expansion went on.

Warlords of Draenor is perhaps the worst expansion of all time in World of Warcraft. I know a lot of players did not like it, but there was player housing for the first time in the form of a garrison. You could then recruit followers and send them on missions, choose buildings and upgrade your keep as you played.

After the dreadful Warlords of Draenor expansion, Legion turned things around with probably the most new featured expansion yet. There was a new Demonhunter class, scaling so that the enemies matched your level whichever zone you were in (apart from Suramar until level 110). There was a Artifact weapon for each class and spec, world quests and a chance of getting a legendary item by performing more or less any task.

All of the above are not necessarily new things to gaming or things which I like. They were however new to World of Warcraft at the time and were more or less available from the moment you started playing the expansions.

From what I can tell so far, Battle for Azeroth has given boat rides, (in addition to flight paths) and new playable races for each faction. There is the Azerite neck item which connects to armour items which will give abilities depending how much power you have accrued. This for me is so similar to artifact power, I am not sure it can be considered as new. Even the zones don’t seem new, there is a spooky zone, old farmland zone, brighter hilly zone, troll like zones, desert, all of this I have seen since vanilla Warcraft. This has left me feeling rather underwhelmed, especially after an expansion with so many new features, all of which were available immediately.

Don’t get me wrong. I have for the most part enjoyed the expansion so far, and, at the end of the day, it is still World of Warcraft and many of the above features (some I like, some I don’t like) are still available. I just wish there was something really new and exciting to the game.

These are however first impressions. Going forward, I hope to discover something which is genuinely new and something I can get my gaming teeth into. If not, I am sure I will enjoy the expansion all the same.

Sophie Lancaster

Sophie

Today marks the 11 year anniversary of the death of Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered for daring to be different.

I never met Sophie or Robert Maltby who survived the attack thanks to, quite frankly, the heroic and selfless actions of Sophie. But this particular murder and hate crime has always stricken a nerve with me. I am not sure why, it could be perhaps that I was and still am to some extent a member of the alternative culture. I think also because people really were, at times, quite intolerant towards people of the alternative community where I live. I am told however it was, and may still be, much worse in other parts.

On the 11th August 2007 both Sophie and Robert were attacked as they walked through a park. A group of people knocked Robert to the ground and began stamping on his body and head while Sophie cradled Robert as best she could. Sophie pleaded with the attackers to stop but rather than that they decided they will focus their attention on her. The attackers eventually ran from the scene leaving both of them in a coma. Some time later Robert eventually woke up and while most of his physical injuries healed, he did sustain some permanent brain damage and survivors guilt which I am sure will follow him to the grave. Sophie on the other hand never woke up and died on the 24th August 2007. The attack was so brutal, clumps of her hair were found at the scene and police said both of their faces were so swollen that they could not ascertain whether they were male or female.

The reason this group of people attacked Sophie and Robert was because they dressed like goths.

Shortly after her murder the Sophie Lancaster Foundation was established and I would encourage any reader to visit their website. While you’re there, consider supporting the charity either by donating or buying something from their merchandise store here.

I also know of two songs dedicated to the memory of Sophie Lancaster which I would like to share below.

VNV Nation – Illusion
Delain – We are the others

S.O.P.H.I.E. is an acronym for ‘Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere’ which is something I will be bearing in mind. People who know me will probably say that I am a relatively easy going, happy go lucky person. Over the past year or so however, I have started to become quite intolerant when it comes to any sort of religion. I have shared my feelings about religion and my atheism with only my closest friends and family. While they for the most part agree with me and to some extent share my atheism and critical thinking, they have not shared my intolerance about those who choose to practise a faith and dismiss atheistic views which I hold so dear.

I have come to see the error in my ways, I must be more tolerant of those who practise their faith and do no harm to others. I am just thankful that I have come to this realisation before it is too late, before I say something to someone which would anger them or hurt their feelings unnecessarily. While I shall continue to share my atheism to anyone who chooses to listen, I will be more tolerant of those who disagree.

Streets of Rage 2

Streets of Rage 2

Recently I have acquired a new game for my Playstation 4 called ‘SEGA Megadrive Classics’ which includes 50 classic Megadrive games.

When I was a boy, around the age of 8 or 9 I was given a second hand Megadrive which came complete with a variety of second hand games. One of those games was Streets of Rage 2.

The idea of the game is very simple, you choose one of the four available characters who each had a set of abilities or ‘moves’ and you try to complete each stage (level) which would get progressively harder. At the end of each stage there would be a difficult boss to fight who, eventually, especially on the final stage, would work together to try and prevent you from getting to the end boss known as ‘Mr. X’.

Streets of Rage 2 very quickly became my favourite game and I would quite literally spend entire weekends playing it. I can almost remember the feeling of beating the game for the first time, albeit having to use the ‘continue’ function which reset all of your points. I also remember playing it with a friend who lived on the same street and having arguments when we would get in each others way.

Eventually, after playing the game for so long, I mastered it. I knew the best way to defeat each boss and I knew what to expect in every scene. Surprisingly, after all these years, I have found that I am still pretty good and seem to remember most of what I had learned playing the game as a child. I beat the game, without using the ‘continue’ function on normal difficulty with ease and got a high score of 697760 with my favourite hero, Axel.

Streets of Rage Top Score

There was also a bronze Playstation trophy (achievement) for completing the second stage without picking up any items. After beating the game I decided to give it a go. It was very easy and I managed to do it on my first try.

I am looking forward to playing some other classic gems with SEGA Megadrive Classics. I have seen Streets of Rage 1 and 3 but also a number of Sonic the Hedgehog games for which I also have fond childhood memories.

Snooker Nation Week 2

Snooker Nation

Last night my friend Jason and I made the time to play another round of Snooker Nation in a best of 7. This time Jason managed to beat me 4 frames to 2 and played really well. Overall I thought we both played well other than a few silly misses on both sides. I just happened to have made 2 – 3 more of those mistakes in which Jason was able to capitalise.

The second frame Jason was 64 points ahead with 67 left on the table and he missed a red. I started to make an excellent come back but missed a relatively easy pink which, if I had got it, could well have seen me pinch the frame with 65 of those 67 points. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. The 5th frame was rather scrappy, the balls just ended up in such awkward positions. Towards the end however, Jason managed to do very well to free up some of the balls and secure the win.

Neither of us managed to get a century break this time around which was disappointing, especially as we both had numerous opportunities. What stood out this week is that we helped each other, offering sound suggestions and advise. We do this most weeks, which for me it highlights how we like to see each other do well and that it is not all about winning, but about having well mannered fun. That’s not to say we do not want to win, we both have a healthy competitive nature in everything we do.

As always we are both excellent victors and losers, congratulating each other on a good game played, followed by some random banter.

This week I lost because Saturn was not fully aligned with Uranus which altered the magnetic field of earth slightly. This meant there were micro EMP charges around my mouse, causing me to miss key shots. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it.

Darnassus Tribute

Darnassus

Spoiler alert for those who have yet to play the end of World of Warcraft: Legion or Battle for Azeroth expansion.

My Darnassus Memories

I have played World of Warcraft since the beginning in what is now known as ‘Vanilla WoW’ and I have played every expansion since then. My first character was a Night Elf Druid and while I enjoyed the tutorial style beginning leveling 1-6 and then from 6-11 in and around Dolanaar, walking into Darnassus for the first time was when I fell in love with the game. Seeing ‘Darnassus: Alliance Territory’ pop up on my screen with a change of music, followed by seeing huge tree creatures, glaive throwers, profession trainers, bank ect made me feel like World of Warcraft was a game I should invest a lot of my time. From this point on, I decided to stop playing Diablo II and Starcraft: Brood War, games which I had played for years up until that point.

During Vanilla WoW, Ironforge was the place to be for the Alliance. This was because it was the only place to buy and sell on the auction house and is connected to Stormwind by the Deeprun tram line. It was also quite annoying for anyone who had a Nightelf character to make the rather long commute to get to Ironforge for the first time. I remember to this day being shown the way by someone, I think I gave them 1 gold (quite a bit back then). In spite of this I actually preferred Darnassus and at first very rarely ventured outside of Kalimdor because it was so quiet (which I like) and because my old banger of a computer could not always handle the traffic of Ironforge.

Darnassus Art

At some point during vanilla, battlemasters were introduced in evey city. These were NPC’s (non playable characters) who would allow you to queue for entering an instanced battleground which was the main form of PvP (Player vs Player). You could also use these NPC’s to turn in marks obtained for completion of the battle, 3 for a win, 1 for a loss. I would literally spend anything between 5 minutes and an hour waiting to join a battleground in Darnassus. It was also exciting to log in after the weekly round up of PvP activity, this was where players could get promoted or demoted depending on how much honour they had acquired the previous week. So many milestone were reached while in Darnassus.

When The Burning Crusade expansion landed, Shattrath was the new place to be in the centre of Outland. Each day, when I logged off from my adventures in Outland however, I would log out in Darnassus which is where I would end up when logging back in. It was the same for Wrath of the Lich King where Dalaran was the place to be in the middle of Northrend. Even when the Cataclysm expansion landed where there was no new city, I would commute using the new boat to Stormwind and then use the portals from there to go where I wanted. Sometimes I would fly from Darnassus to Mount Hyjal which wasn’t far. Occasionally to Uldum too which is on the other side of the Kalimdor continent.

It was when Mists of Pandaria arrived I no longer stayed in Darnassus but stayed in Stormwind instead, using the portal to get to The Jade Forest. I could have used the new city, Shrine of Seven Stars in the middle of Pandaria, but I honestly did not like it enough to even set my hearthstone there. Although from this point forward I did not spend much time in Darnassus, it has always been my most favourite spot in the game.

What has happened to Darnassus?

In short, Sylvanas, the horde warchief, has set Teldrassil on fire. For those of you that do not know, Darnassus is basically a city in a huge tree called Teldrassil. At the end of the Legion expansion the horde invaded Darkshore and rather than capturing the city, she elected to set it on fire killing everyone who couldn’t escape. Blizzard made a cool youtube video depicting this below;

Warbringers: Sylvanas

My last memory of Darnassus at this point is running around frantically trying to help citizens flee from the fires to the Temple of the Moon where there was a portal to Stormwind. I thought that this would upset me a lot more. Having played World of Warcraft for a very long time now, it has become a big part of my life. I am hopeful, that as the expansion progresses, Blizzard will somehow remake Teldrassil and Darnassus from the ruin, or produce a new Night Elf city. Even if Blizzard did do this, I doubt I will ever feel at home again. I will always miss Darnassus, the place I chose to escape real life for so long. Instead I think that the Worgen will reclaim their city of Lordaeron and the Nightelf survivors will be refugees there much like the Worgen were refugees in Darnassus when they joined the Alliance during the Cataclysm expansion. I guess I shall have to wait and see what Blizzard have install for us WoW players.

Druid level 100 to 110!

World of Warcraft Moonkin

Over the weekend most of my gaming has been focused on World of Warcraft and getting ready for the Battle for Azeroth expansion.

My first ever character, a druid, has been completely neglected during the Legion expansion and as such was still only level 100 and had not set foot in the Broken Isles.

Late on Saturday I made a start and very quickly managed to get level 103 in just a couple of hours. Yesterday, somehow, I managed to hit the maximum level of 110 even though I had things to do around the house and needed to get some shopping done. I even had 3-4 hours spare having reached level 110 by 7pm!

This is not a huge accomplishment in the scheme of things, but anyone who knows me will know that I do not enjoy leveling my characters in World of Warcraft. There are several reasons why I managed to do this, the first is I am able to fly in the Broken Shores, making travel between quests much easier and quicker. Another reason is the druid flight form not only makes it quicker to farm herbs, but it also makes it quicker to do quests which involve collecting something or activating something. Finally and perhaps most importantly, I enjoyed playing the druid which is something I did not expect.

I seem to remember doing the same thing at the end of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Rushing towards the end to reach level 100, only that time, I did not particularly enjoy playing it. My druid has been neglected for many years now, something I hope to change during the upcoming expansion, although I will give no guarantees.

This now leaves me with 4 characters which I have leveled from level 1 (no boosts here!). I have a paladin, warrior, mage and druid, the mage started life during Wrath of the Lich King but the other 3 started out during the vanilla Warcraft days.

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