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A hodge-podge of topics

One thing I forgot to mention when I wrote about it initially that I did like about VWars is that the vampires aren’t one size fits all. The type of vampire you are is based on DNA, so it manages to incorporate all the different types of vampires from around the world… well, except without actually going around the world. The different types are mentioned, but not all of them are seen. Props to the writer who chose to make their main character a Chinese hopping vampire, though!

In Warcraft news, I decided — now that the expansion is almost over, of course — that I wanted to try to get the legendary cloak. All the buffs Blizzard has been giving out pushed me over the edge into committing to the long-ass quest chain.

So far, it’s not difficult so much as it is a grindy pain in the ass. I’d already gotten almost to exalted with Wrathion from doing the Isle of Thunder rep grind, and I finished off getting the initial set of drop items from LFR when Blizzard had the first round of increased drop rates. Then I hit the “gather 3000 valor points” part. For those who aren’t familiar with the game, you can only earn 1000 valor points per week, and it starts from the time you pick up the quest. Well, I’d already collected quite a few vp that week because I was doing Pandaria faction dailies in my quest to hit exalted with all the main faction reps and buy all the faction mounts.

Side note: mission accomplished. The only reps I don’t have at exalted are Emperor Shaohao, Shieldwall (but I did all that on a different character, so I’m not in a rush to do it on my monk), and the Shado-pan Assault. So I have a new achievement and a new kite mount. Also a lot less gold.

ANYWAY. I could only earn about 200 more vp that week, so my quest to hit 3000 vp took a little longer. But I did it… and now I’m at the PvP part.

I hate PvP. I don’t enjoy it. I’m not good at it. I hated it when I was working on What  A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been for the violet protodrake back in Wrath (yes, I got my violet proto before the achievements went account-wide), and I hate it now. I’m sure the PvPers hate it too because they get us PvEers flailing around in their battlegrounds, but believe me, guys, we don’t want to be there anymore than you want us to be there.

The worst thing is, Blizzard has released a drop rate buff from now until the 29th, so I have got to get the PvP part done so I can hit LFR and get as many of the Secrets of the Empire as possible in the next couple of days before Real Life kicks in, then do it again next week and pray I get close to 20 secrets before the buff goes away.

I really don’t mind the gathering parts. It’s grindy, and if the things you need don’t drop, you’re out of luck because after you run the necessary raids once, none of the Secrets (or whichever you’re looking for) will drop again, so you have to wait until the weekly reset. It’s a pain, but it’s not difficult. For me, the PvP aspect is difficult, and I suspect I’ll be running through the solo Nalak scenario more than once. But mostly, the quest chain is time-consuming. This is a weeks — possibly running into months — long commitment, but by golly, I’m going to stick with it because if I can do it, it means I’ll have my first legendary ever and it’ll still be current content.

I devoted a year to What a Long Strange Trip, so two-three months isn’t that bad in comparison. Or that’s what I keep telling myself as I keep queuing for battlegrounds after losing again.

I’m also on a mission to hit 200 mounts before the Warlords of Draenor xpac is released. I’m at 181, and I’ve reached the point where there are aren’t any mounts left I can get without a lot of gold or a lot of luck except the Argent Tournament ones (the expensive ones that cost 100-150 champion seals). So of course I’ve been hightailing it to Icecrown to do those dailies. I’m scrounging up gold so I can create a ruby panther, which is the last of the four Jewelcrafting panthers I need. I’m not going to try to make the onyx one because the idea of trying to make four more of the ruby/jade/sunstone/sapphire panthers is soul-crushing. I’m also trying to slap a mount out of Baron Rivendare in Stratholme, but so far, all I’m getting is cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. And moonberry juice. Skadi isn’t being very forthcoming either. He keeps giving me swords.

But sometimes I need a break from my monk, so I rolled a couple of new characters, including a worgen druid. I got him through the Gilneas starting zone, and he ended up with the weapon that always amuses me. It looks like a spiked banjo.

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“I’m going to Orange Blossom Special you… TO DEATH!”

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Review: VWars – A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars

I recently finished reading VWars: A Chronicle of the Vampire Wars, which is an anthology of loosely connected short stories edited by Jonathan Maberry, who also wrote the patient zero storyline.

The basic concept of this anthology is a lot like Max Brooks’ World War Z, only with vampires and the occasional werewolf rather than zombies. It also has contributions from multiple authors, and with that being the case, you’d think the anthology as a whole would be more diverse, but it isn’t. Other than “Vulpes”, it’s pretty US-centric with both characters and locations, whereas WWZ takes you all over the world.

Basically, it’s broken down into roughly 8 stories that are told in stages, interspersing with each other. Everything is clearly labeled enough that you can jump around to read each story as a whole if you want to, but unless you’re picking up and putting down the book over a fair bit of time, I’d suggest reading everything as laid out in the book to get the full effect of how the characters and timeline are intertwined.

Despite being US-focused, the characters themselves are diverse. Patient Zero is a handsome white dude, of course, but at least half of the stories either have a POC as the lead or prominently feature POCs, so it’s pretty diverse in that respect.

On the whole… I’m still trying to decide if I liked it. I think if I hadn’t read WWZ first, I might be able to say I do like it, but VWars feels like it’s trying to be the vampire version of WWZ and doesn’t quite measure up. I think part of the problem I have with it is a lack of clear closure. There’s implied closure, but given human nature and the way things are going in the VWars world up to that point, the reader is still left with the impression that things could go either way in the human vs. vampire “war”.

I would have liked some more concrete closure with one of the specific stories as well. “The Battle of Big Charlie” is one of the most intriguing stories in the anthology, given that it delves into the world of politics and shifting public opinion, but it feels unfinished. Again, there’s implied closure, but unless I missed something crucial, there’s not a clear resolution in regards to what happened with both Big Charlie and his mom. It was such an interesting story that I wanted to know the whole story.

Maybe they’re setting up for a sequel? Who knows! It was an interesting concept, and there are things I’d like to know more about the world the authors built, but in my opinion, WWZ did “see the supernatural apocalypse from multiple POVs” trick better.

 

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The Colorado Kid, by Stephen King

The_Colorado_Kid_PB_faceI lucked up and found a copy of Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid in an indy bookstore last summer, and I finally got around to reading it this month because between work, family, and writing, my time for recreational activities is pretty limited. What time I do have is divided between reading, knitting, and gaming, so my reading list is pretty backlogged. But! I do hope to make some inroads this summer, and I started things off with this slim volume.

The brief, non-spoilery version is that I liked it a lot. I’ve been a Stephen King fan for decades, although I don’t love everything he’s written. Sometimes, he can get a little too… vulgar for my tastes. Dreamcatcher is a notable example, although reading it when I was suffering from a stomach virus was probably not the best life choice I’ve ever made. But when he’s on, he is on, and I consider him to be an amazing storyteller. Maybe he’s not a “literary” writer — although I think some of his works come very close — but he’s a brilliant storyteller.

The Colorado Kid is not a horror story. It appears to be marketed as a mystery/crime story, but… it isn’t really that either. For readers who are familiar with King’s work, I’d say forget trying to categorize it in a particular genre and think of it as a story that’s close in style and tone to works like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. This one is about people and about storytelling, and it’s got some really interesting things to say. And now I’m about to get more specific and spoilery, so I’ll put the rest behind a Read More.

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