6x6x6: The Challenge of Sixes

There is a new meme going around, started this time by Gnomeageddon. It's the Meme of Sixes and is an interesting one. It turns out this has been around for a long time; a little casual link-surfing took me back to February 2009 and a swedish blog and a photo of a dog cuddling a baby. It's now making the rounds again in the WoW blogosphere and I have been tagged by both Navimie of the Daily Frostwolf and Karagena the Reluctant Raider to participate in it. It's so nice to be loved.

  • Go into your image folder
  • Open the sixth sub-folder and choose the sixth image.
  • Publish the image! (and a few words wouldn’t hurt, though I dare say I couldn’t stop a blogger from adding a few words of their own).
  • Challenge six new bloggers.
  • Link to them.

Of course, those rules are nice. They're simple and easy to do. Honestly, I could have this post done in minutes if I wanted to. But that wouldn't really be in the Battle Medic tradition, now would it?

So let's complicate things a bit.


If there was a TV show for people who are incapable of deleting things on their computer, I would be featured on the premier episode. We'd call it Hard Drive Horders: Buried in Megabytes. I have all sorts of files and images that go back years, and quietly get transferred from hard drive to hard drive as I upgrade and then sit there collecting layers upon layers of virtual dust.

Consequently, I have many, many folders on my hard drive with images so picking just one doesn't seem quite right. Picking six would make sense, given the nature of this particular challenge, but that might take this innocent little challenge into deep, dark places of my computer that are better left unexplored. Who knows what one might find while picking through the decrepit ruins of my digital projects from the distant past.

Sounds like fun. Let's get started, shall we?

#1 - World of Warcraft Screenshots folder

Delving into my WoW Screenshots folder reveals a lot of subfolders. For simplicities sake, the source images of each panorama that I do get their own folder, and the sixth one happens to be Netherstorm. This beautiful panorama was featured in my Images of Azeroth: Outlands Part 2 post a few months ago.

However, the sixth image in this sixth folder turns out to be probably the least interesting image on my hard drive.

Yup. Nothin' but purple rocks. It's the sort of scene that makes your computer's video card wonder why the hell it's spending its considerable processing power rendering such a pointless, prosaic set of pixels. There really isn't much you can do with an image like this. Well, unless we decide to make it all about the textures instead of the objects. Hmm... let's try making it a black and white and then playing with the cropping and see what we get.

A little bit of creative blurring later, and suddenly we have something interesting and worthy of being featured on Battle Medic. Mind you, it's still not exactly a Monet.

#2 - Screenshots folder: Six Down and Six Across

Ach! This option puts me right in the middle of an unfinished Images of Azeroth panorama that I was saving for a later post.

Dude, you got your Deathwing all over my Tower. Ewwww.
One unexpected benefit to having a max-level Shaman at my disposal is the ability Far Sight. It gives me options for screenshots that I simply can't do on my Paladin. This image, for instance, was done after completing an End Time run and is a perspective that is not normally available to most other classes because it's half-way up a mountain on a completely vertical slope.

Look for the full image in an upcoming post.

#3 - Battle Medic sub-folders

The Battle Medic folder contains the very bones of this blog. Each image that I have created for Battle Medic, whether used or not, lies here in a state of perpetual readiness. This folder illustrates my image hoarding tendencies perfectly because I literally have no need for any of the images in this folder; the ones I needed have already been uploaded to the blog and are stored online, and the ones that didn't make the post aren't needed at all. It is an interesting archaeological dig through my blog's past, though.

The sixth subfolder of the Battle Medic folder happens to house the raw images from the photo shoot that I did with Ophelie of Bossy Pally and the Giant Spoon back in June.

Digging through the layers of this folder is a little frightening. One of the fundamental truths that one learns very quickly as a professional photographer is that only about 1 in 10 portraits that are taken is worth keeping. The rest have closed eyes, weird expressions, strange homeless people wandering in the background or some other flaw that necessitates editing that image in favour of another. Randomly picking an image out of this folder could be disastrous.

As luck would have it, however, the sixth image in this folder was one of my favourites.

As a photographer, an image's success depends as much on your personality as it does the subject's; how people respond to you shows up very clearly in the finished images. A laugh is always photographic gold. I like this image because it feels incredibly genuine.

The image above is the unaltered version and is just how I took it. Below is the finished image once I was done with it.

Ophelie, probably laughing at my bad Austin Powers impression,

#4 - Battle Medic folder: Six Down and Six Across

Like I said, I hoard my image files, and this illustrates it perfectly. This Blood Bowl image was pulled off the Cyanaide website for my post Encouraging Infidelity: On Burn-out and Blood Bowl, and I did use a portion of it in the article. I certainly don't need the full image any longer, so any sane, rational, non-hoarding person would simply delete it and move on. Not I. I kept it.

But not only that, I ended up keeping two of them. Because of the way that Chrome downloads files (possibly the only thing I don't like about the web browser), I accidentally downloaded an extra one; this is the second one.
"Some people think Blood Bowl is a matter of life and death. I assure you,
it's much mor... ARRRRRRGHsplorch."
And my wife wonders why I need to buy hard drives so often. Little does she know...

#5 - Artwork folder

The sixth subfolder in my Artwork folder lands us conveniently in the place where I store the finished work of my Portfolio. The sixth image in this folder is one that some of you will be familiar with already, as it was featured during my Images of Azeroth: 50,000 Words series of posts.

Sunset in Motion
Of course, the actual sixth image in that folder was the printer-ready version of this file which weighed in at a hefty 11 megabytes, so this is obviously a slimmed down version for the blog. I actually gave a 20" x 30" print of this to my sister this Christmas, and it should be hanging on her wall by now.

#6 - Dwarfling folder

This is what most of you were waiting for, I'm sure. Admit it, you're here for baby photos.

Of course, I have a folder of images of the Dwarfling. There are literally hundreds, maybe thousands of images in there. However, the sixth image in the sixth folder is this one:

The Dwarfling at 18 Weeks
Yikes. My daughter loves the camera and, at least in her father's eyes, is very photogenic. This one, on the other hand, is certainly not her best photo. It was taken by her mother and due to the camera-shake and the rather bizarre, doll-like quality of her expression this image would likely never have seen the light of day if not for this challenge. It would have been deleted except, as I mentioned above, I am an incurable image hoarder. It's times like this it can come and bite me in the ass.

Here are a couple of better, non-random images of her to keep you all happy.

One year old...
...and cute as hell.


And in keeping with tradition, I hereby pass the torch along to these fine folk.


An End to Madness

Deathwing is dead.

Actually, he's been dead for a couple of weeks now. I'm just damned tardy in my progression updates these days.

My guild, Mountain Top, cleared normal Dragon Soul for the first time just before the 5% Power of the Aspects nerf hit at the end of January. Sadly, I wasn't there due to a family crisis, but I'm proud that our guild managed to down Dragon Soul before it's difficulty was reduced. And we managed it despite losing key members of the team and not having a regular raid night.

Did I mention we're recruiting?

I got my own first Deathwing kill on the first week after the nerfs, and am going in again tonight for my third. We've also begun working on Heroic Morchok, whom we got down to 10% on our first night before time constraints forced us to kill him on normal difficulty so we had enough time left to clear the instance that night.

At the beginning of this expansion I set a raiding goal for myself; I wanted to clear each raiding tier while it was current, something that I didn't manage to do in Wrath of the Lich King. With Deathwing's demise at the hands of my Shaman I have now managed to accomplish that on the last two of the three raiding tiers this expansion.

I view Raiding Progression as a very personal thing. As much as I share the accomplishments with my guild and couldn't do it without them, I look at the raid bosses I've downed as my measuring stick as to how well I've experienced the content and how I am personally progressing. I was enormously disappointed that I didn't clear all of Tier 11 while it was current, only going 9/12; I didn't get Nefarian or either of the Throne of the Four Winds encounters down before 4.2 brought the nerfbat to them. Despite that disappointment, I'm very happy to have accomplished what I have done.


I promised myself that I would not make this post a discussion on the difficulty level but I need to at least mention that compared to Lich King, Nefarian or Ragnaros, Madness of Deathwing was a hell of a lot easier. It didn't take my guild very many attempts to finally kill him. I think I saw about five pulls on normal difficulty before I got my first kill. Even Ragnaros after the savage nerfs that he received seemed more difficult than Madness.

The question that I pose to you, dear reader, is: Was the Madness of Deathwing encounter inherently easier than previous end boss encounters, or did it simply seem easier because the vast majority of us had already seen and defeated a simplified version of it on the Raid Finder?


On Flexibility, Emotional Attachment and Mister Spock. With Ice Cream!

"Thus, flexibility, as displayed by water, is a sign of life. Rigidity, its opposite, is an indicator of death." - Anthony Lawlor, A Home For The Soul
Those of you who follow this blog closely and spend just a little too much time obsessing over it (and you know who you are) may have noticed that there has been a distinct lack of Paladin related posts around here recently. In fact, looking back at my archives the last post that talked about Paladins specifically was way back in July.

There is a good reason for this: I'm not raiding with my Paladin any longer.


You know, I started this post with the best of intentions: A short, to-the-point post about what I've been up to in WoW and why I'm not posting about or playing my Paladin. Half-way through it turned into something completely different. I guess you and I will both find out what the hell I'm talking about when we get to the end because I have no idea where this is going any more than you do. Maybe there will be Ice Cream and Whisky. Goodness, that would be nice, wouldn't it?

SHAMAN: The new Battle Medic? At least this one's actually a Dwarf.

With Dragon Soul on the PTR, I was approached by our Guild Master who asked me a question that took me by surprise: Would I be willing to switch my raiding main in order to help with raid healing? It turns out that our guild is so full of main-spec Holy Paladins that it is a little bit like a large, overfilled doughnut—taking a bite of which will get Holy Paladin goop all over your shirt. And that shit is hard to get out.

In the interests of trying to avoid a 10-man raid with three Holy Paladin healers—which would strain just about anybody's tolerance for egocentrics in a raid, I imagine—I switched my Raiding Main to my (then) newly 85 Restoration Shaman.

My GM's reasoning was pretty straightforward: Dragon Soul looked to be a very raid healing intensive series of fights and even with the strength of the 4.3 Holy Radiance changes it seemed as if our normal Paladin/Paladin/Priest setup wouldn't be ideal. This was made especially clear when we found that some of the fights would require only two healers, and neither Paladin had a DPS off-spec. My Shaman provided my GM with a different option.

So, the week before Dragon Soul opened I was running through Firelands, healing on my Shaman. I admit, it felt odd at first. Even though I had levelled her completely through dungeons I was woefully unprepared to take her on a raid. My understanding of the subtleties of the class were at a very basic level, my UI was not set up properly and her gear was, shall we say, eclectic; an odd mix of items cobbled together from every possible source and not powerful enough to even qualify her for the new Looking For Raid feature.

She's nicely geared now, although there are still some problem spots due to some very bad loot luck in Dragon Soul. I'm not sure why, but in our raids the only Tier Token that ever drops is Vanquisher tokens—we literally had a new Death Knight alt get his 4 piece in a single night, and the only reason he got each token was because all the other Vanquisher eligible players already had theirs. Meanwhile, I, along with a lot of other people in my raid group, are organizing strange voodoo rituals to influence the gods to drop something—anything that we can use. Now, I know that no one really cares about other people's loot problems, but that night made me want to roll a Druid just so I could actually get a drop.

THE SPOCK PRINCIPLE: The Needs of the Many, blah blah blah

Imagine, if you will, a dwarf lying on a brown leather couch, a worried expression showing through his beard and his armour poking holes in the leather and setting it smouldering because the shoulder piece is on fire, which for some inexplicable reason is perfectly normal. Next to him, seated at a comfortable armchair is a bald man with a white goatee neatly trimmed into a point and a notepad on his lap. He leans over towards the dwarf, and in a thick German accent asks, "Und how doez ziz make you feel?"

A long time ago I wrote an article entitled What Makes a Main?, in which it I talked about the emotional connection to a character as the fundamental element that determines which character would be a person's "Main Character". While that criteria certainly wouldn't apply to everyone (there are people who change their mains constantly due to many different factors, for instance), but it is absolutely true of me. My Holy Paladin is my main because I am emotionally invested in him, both in terms of character as well as the play-style and mythos of the Paladin. My Paladin just feels right.

So when Mylindara asked me to switch for the good of the raid, I felt a little conflicted. From a dispassionate point of view he made a lot of sense because even while temporarily undergeared, my Shaman brought something to the raid that we were lacking. Emotionally, however, my main is still my Paladin, and is the character that I am most interested in playing and progressing. Not only that, but I enjoy healing on the Paladin more than the Shaman.

So the real question that I, or anyone in a similar situation must ask themselves is: When does the needs of the group trump the desires of the individual? Should we always be selfless in order to help the group, or is it alright to say "No" so we can play the game the way we want to? Do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one when the ultimate goal of the game is individual entertainment? What would Spock do?

FLEXIBILITY: When is it okay to take one for the team?

I think the answer greatly depends on what type of player a person is. I believe that there are two extremes to this question where the answer is obvious and unchanging, and then there is a vast grey area in between where a large percentage of the player base sits.

The Activity-Centric people amongst us will look at this question as absurd because min-maxing every aspect of an encounter is fundamental to their play-style. Changing their character to bring that one extra buff or cooldown to the raid in order to gain any advantage—regardless of how small—is far more important than the attachment to a certain character or class. For them the emotional need is to progress at a personal level, and which character they do it on is only a secondary consideration; a tool used to achieve the desired end.

"Please don't shoot me"
The other extreme is the Character-Centric people. These folks form an incredibly strong emotional attachment to their characters, and asking them to switch their Main Character—or even to change their character's hair-style—is like asking them to shoot a puppy. It'll break their heart and the aftermath will be very messy to clean up. Not to mention that I like puppies, and well, shooting them is just wrong. I mean, look at those eyes.

The vast majority of us, I think, fall somewhere in the middle. I have always considered myself more of the activity-centric type, but again, if I am to be truly honest with all of you, I tend to let myself get attached to my characters quite a bit and was a little bit annoyed when I was asked to not bring my preferred character to the main raids. There is a constant battle raging between the two sides when I'm making the decisions as to what to play.

In the end I made the change and the raid team is the better for it, I think. We have a good core of raiding healers now, with a lot more flexibility than we would have had otherwise. I may not be playing the character I would like, but the decision was right because the activity, in this case, was more important than my personal need to play the character.

And I suppose that's the fundamental answer to the question of when it's okay to make a personal sacrifice for the team, and the answer is a lot more simple than the length of this post would suggest. Simply put, if the goal is more important than which character accomplishes it, make the change and be happy about it.

Now, as I'm writing this I'm thinking to myself, "Damn, you've really outdone yourself in stating the blindingly obvious. Should we do a section talking about the different ways water is wet? Way to spend 1400 words talking drivel, dumbass".

It is a pretty straight-forward concept, but I think that everyone is going to approach it differently and everyone is going to have a different reaction to being asked to change the way they like to play the game. It all depends on the balance between the activity and the character within a person.

For me, the activity of seeing our raid progress smoothly won the day over my own desires to play the Paladin. So for now at least, the Battle Medic is a Shaman.

Have you ever been asked to play a class or role that you didn't prefer so your group could move forward? How would you react? What sort of balance to you have?


Oh yes, Ice Cream and Whisky. Excellent.

There ya go. Ice Cream and Whisky all in one.
It doesn't get much better than that.