Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Family gaming

Warning: Gaming post. If you play World of Warcraft or a similar game, you might find it cute and heartwarming. If you don't, you will likely get lost in nerd terminology pretty quickly. You have been warned.

On Saturday, I ran a Warcraft dungeon called Razorfen Kraul with Ben, Lynnea, and my mom. We have been doing this off and on, once every 2-4 weeks or so, for several months. Ben (who is seven) started playing the game a long time ago, but only dabbled with it until he finally brought a particular character, a druid, all the way up to level 16 because he loved playing in animal forms.

That's when the fun started, because I had been explaining to him about dungeon fighting and he wanted to try it. I was hesitant to take this step, because Ben has kind of a short attention span, and I didn't want to ruin the fun of any strangers we might add to our group. But when I ran the idea by Lynnea and mom, they were both willing to join us, and I know them to be very kind and patient with Ben. Normally dungeons are done in groups of five, but the other three of us had characters that were higher levels than Ben, so we thought we might be able to handle it.

So I promised we'd try a dungeon that weekend, and I drilled three rules into his head repeatedly:
1. The tank (me) is the leader. Stay BEHIND the tank at all times. Do not wander off on your own, under any circumstances.
2. Attack only what I am attacking. (For you non-WoW players, this is important because tanks have to work to force individual opponents to attack them, and not the more lightly armored and vulnerable players.)
3. Be nice to everybody. Say thank you. Congratulate them when they get something good.

I repeated these rules, and made him repeat them back to me, many times throughout the week.

We ran the Deadmines dungeon. To everyone's surprise, it went off successfully. It took us two trips on separate occasions to beat VanCleef. But even on the first trip, what was amazing was that Ben followed directions. Oh, I think he had to be reminded of the rules a few times, but he always apologized for his mistakes and corrected them. And more importantly, we all had fun.

That was a few months ago. Now our team of four is more experienced in dungeoning together, we're all in the range of 25-30, and we still try to team up on a semi-regular basis. We've done some character switching, and at this point we have gotten into a nice groove with a very good mix of characters. You can click on our names below to see their current information.
  • Russell: Maddow. My character is still the tank, although I let Ben try tanking in bear form one time. She is a female human protection warrior who is named and styled after a certain TV and radio host.
  • Lynnea: Geighdayr. She is our healer. Her character is a male human holy priest. It's pronounced, um, "gaydar."
  • Ben: Siaindiss. Damage dealer. He's a male night elf feral druid. He used to specialize in spell attacks, but since he reached level 20 and learned to transform into a cat, he's been a feral-focused melee fighter. The named is pronounced "see-AIN-dis"; the random name generator picked it for him and he decided how to say it.
  • Sheryl: Gleeful. She is a female gnome warlock who takes care of our long range spell casting damage.
So the four of us ran Razorfen Kraul this weekend. It's a lesser known dungeon in the horde-controlled Barrens, that few alliance characters ever bother visiting.

It was a long, tough instance. It's populated by pig-men who have an annoying tendency to run away and gather reinforcements when they are injured. As a result, we had a lot of difficult fights that turned out to be much longer than we anticipated, and required a lot of split second decisions by everyone.

We went into it mostly blind, without reading a guide on WoWWiki. I just kept an eye on the dungeon map and guessed which way to go. We had to backtrack a few times.

Ben saved the day on more than one occasion. As a druid, he can temporarily turn into a bear and substitute tanking if I die, or turn into an elf and substitute healing if Lynnea dies. He won't necessarily think to do this on his own, but if we shout instructions then he'll remember. Both changes kept the team from wiping out at different times. I think we all died twice in several hours of play.

Three of us play from the same house, while mom is on a long distance connection from Santa Fe. She and I keep in voice contact during gameplay over Ventrilo.

Anyway, we all had fun, and all gained multiple levels before calling it an afternoon. We didn't quite reach the last boss, but we all felt we had seen plenty of RFK.

Now we're high enough to do Gnomeregan, so that's coming up next time.


  1. Sounds like you're having a great time, and how cool is it that your mom plays it with you? I've never been able to get into the game before, and I've tried it quite a few times. I can never get past the opening slew of stupid "go kill 10 warthogs...then go kill 15, then go kill UBER WARTHOG" quests at the beginning. About how long does that take?

  2. Well in one sense that is the entire game. :) If you hate that then maybe I shouldn't try to argue that you would enjoy it.

    In another sense, after the first hour or two of game play you get to leave the newbie village. After that, you get a much larger world to explore, you get to learn a profession, and you get many more spells to play with, so combat is not so repetitive. And of course at 16 you get dungeon groups.

  3. Oh, I don't know, I would think doing dungeon runs with friends could be fun. I'm very much into cooperative PvE stuff in general. Have you ever played Guild Wars? That one has always looked appealing to me because there isn't a monthly fee...ah well. I'll just stick to Left 4 Dead and Demigod for now I guess.

  4. I'm not a fan of the Razorfen dungeons...they're out of the way and a little annoying, but I definitely recommend doing them at least once. I'm glad you all had fun. It sounds like Ben is going to be a solid Druid. :)

    Gnomeregan is one I've done dozens of times, even though it's not one of my favorites.

    It's great that you're doing this...and definitely make sure you guys experience all of the old world dungeons, because there's a good chance that they'll be forever changed when the Cataclysm expansion comes out.

  5. I can have a job.

    I can have a family.

    Or I can have a MMORPG account.

    But I cannot have all three.

    Posts like these make me wish I was a single nerd living in my mom's basement.

  6. Matt,

    How confident are you that the Cataclysm notes are the real deal and not a hoax?

  7. Yay, WoW geekery! Sounds like y'all had lots of fun. Have you done Wailing Caverns? Once you all have a few more levels (or a 5th party member) you could head in that direction for your next instance run.

  8. Wailing Caverns is somewhere around level 20. We did that a while back.

  9. Oh, duh. You can tell how long it's been since I've done the Razorfen instances! I would've sworn they were lower level than Wailing Caverns. I guess the next ones on the list are the Scarlet Monastery?

  10. Very jealous. My parents are scared of firefox so WoW is very much beyond them. My subscriptions canceled anyways.

  11. Anonymous1:28 AM

    This post inspired me. I introduced my five (nearly six) year old to the old RTS game "Total Annihilation" a few months back. I finally got it setup on my laptop and started playing co-op games with him. It's the most fun I've had with a game in years!

  12. Fantasmo12:02 PM

    Hey Russell, I'm a big WoWer myself, and I wanted to know if you were a member / lurker @ DailyKos - the Democratic community blog site.

    I know you're pretty liberal, and wanted to let you know that there's a DKos WoW guild, horde-side on the Garrosh server that's growing every day.

    We have nearly 200 members, and are working our way up the raid progression (currently 53rd on the server LOL). Anyway, we're a fun bunch and I wanted to see if you would come play with us.

    The guild is Wreck List, you can email me at dmorgenhaus@gmail.com or roll a toon on Garrosh and send me a mail ingame - my toons name is Fantasmo.


  13. I read my Daily Kos on a regular basis. I had not heard of this guild, and I have in fact been interested in finding a good guild to join with horde side characters. I may look into it.

    However, with my alliance characters on Baelgun I may not have time to level any new characters to come within reasonable raiding distance.

    Well, maybe I could start up a new Death Knight...

  14. I guess that means there's not an ACA guild? Could be fun to play with some of y'all if you were on the same server.

  15. Matt and I both play alliance on Baelgun. I'm in a guild called Elemental Justice, as are the folks I mentioned in this post as well as George from NY. There is no "official" ACA guild, however.

  16. Fantasmo12:09 PM

    Hey Russell,

    Community guild diary is up for this week:


    - Fantasmo