Today, the boyfriend and I were talking about university. Specifically, we were talking about our respective universities having LGB societies (the year I was at Aberystwyth University, the lady running the society campaigned tirelessly for the T to be added, apparently there were “processes” and you couldn’t just, you know, plonk it on there. His university probably didn’t until at least after he left, as he always remembered it without a T). Why? Well, we were waiting for food, so what better thing to talk about? Also, we were on Salisbury Road, the heart of Cardiff’s student population, and he brought up the fact that two of his friends from Aikido invited us to a LGBT+ Society social for some unfathomable reason.
We talked about how queer has become more prevalent as an umbrella term for people, whether gay, lesbian, bi, transgender and everything in-between. He doesn’t have a problem with the word per se, whereas I do. I’ve only ever known that word as an insult, as something shouted at me in rage, anger or violence. I’ve grown up with associating that word with, frankly, evil people. I’m all happy for you to self-identify as queer, but I’d kindly ask you to never refer to me as it.
I bristle when I see the word. Shit, I can scarcely bring myself to write it.
I’ve no problem with the word fag, as to me, the word means cigarette, and I used to smoke. I have no problem with the extension of that word, faggot, as I grew up eating these nasty things:
Offcuts of pork and offal, shaped into a ball and served in a sauce. I’m from the aforementioned West Country. We talk like farmers or pirates, depending on how far south-west you go.
That’s a small tangent. My point is, these words hold no meaning for me, but the Q-word does. For other people, they use the Q-word but recoil in horror at the words fag or faggot. Personal context. I think I wrote something about that a while ago.
Matt Damon has recently said that Rupert Everett’s career has probably been harmed by him being openly gay.
There’s a lot of people bashing him right now, but I’m not. Blame Hollywood, because it’s true. Heck, Rupert Everett HIMSELF was quoted as thus:
There’s only a certain amount of mileage you can make, as a young pretender, as a leading man, as a homosexual. There just isn’t very far you can go.
He himself is saying that his career isn’t as glittering as it could have been if he had kept his sexuality secret, he also says:
‘I think, all in all, I’m probably much happier than they are. I may not be as rich or successful, but at least I’m vaguely free to be myself.
Let’s not heap scorn at Matt Damon for repeating something Rupert Everett himself has said on many occasions. Heap scorn on the system that sees straight actors play gay roles and win huge accolades for doing so, while simultaneously harming the careers of openly gay actors. Heap scorn on a world where agents urge their clients not to come out, because that would hurt their image, roles would dry up, and where would the money come from?
I’ve not really had to hide who I am. I’ve been “out” since the age of… 14? 15? I don’t even remember. I came out to my parents at 18, but I was open with friends at an earlier age. My straight friends apparently didn’t realise I was gay until I told them, whereas my gay friends somehow did. My mannerisms aren’t overtly camp (like, say, Jack from Will & Grace), but I’m not overwhelmingly masculine in any sense of the word.
I don’t have a job that wants to “hide the gays.” If anything, gay people are seen as friendly and welcoming (yes, even me, with my resting bitch face), so supposedly suit forward-facing roles in a retail environment, the service industry, or in call centres.
I know LOTS of gay people who work in call centres. Stereotypes have a ring of truth to them I guess.
Perhaps I’m hiding in plain sight? By not being overtly camp, I’m effectively passing as “straight”. I dislike the term “straight acting” because it implies that there’s an easy way of identifying whether you’re face-to-face with a homosexual out in the wild (he’s a big ol’ queen), and that those mannerisms are bad, but acting like a wild straight man (masculine macho macho break bricks with head) is so good that you should act in that way to be accepted.
We get attacked by people if we act in an effeminate, obviously homosexual way. Yes, it’s less common nowadays as gay people generally become more accepted, but it still happens, to both men AND women (though for women it’s not if they act effeminate, but if they act/look in a way seen as masculine, even slightly).
“look at her short hair, she looks like such a dyke”
“fucking queer boy, get a haircut”
Sometimes though, it’s the people who don’t realise they’re being offensive that are the worst ones. Microaggressions. Unintended discrimination.
I have a friend at work. She’s a lesbian. She’s in a happy, stable relationship, and wanted to buy her girlfriend a fragrance from the place we work. She happens to like a particular fragrance, but oh no! It’s a FOR MEN fragrance! The girl said to her “you know, just because you’re lesbians, doesn’t mean you have to wear male fragrances! You can wear lady ones!”
She didn’t think she was being offensive, she thought she was being helpful.
Another time, she mentioned her girlfriend in casual conversation to a manager, who then said “but you don’t LOOK like a lesbian!”
He was being serious.
“So who’s, you know, the LADY of the relationship?”
“…Neither of us, we’re both men”
“Oh YOU know what I mean!”
“DO YOU SERIOUSLY WANT ME TO DISCUSS GAY ANAL SEX WITH YOU BECAUSE I GUARANTEE YOU’LL TAP OUT VERY QUICKLY”
No, I don’t fancy you. I have a “type,” and you’re not it.
That type is, “not straight.”
(or more likely, “not you.”)
I dislike the fact that the phrase “no homo” exists. Like, men can’t compliment each-other without adding the disclaimer “but that doesn’t mean I want to have sex with you!” Are you truly that insecure, not in your masculinity, but in YOURSELF that you feel the need to add that?
Frankly, it’s a homophobic phrase. Another of those microaggressions I mentioned earlier. It implies a fear of being seen as gay, because wouldn’t THAT be terrible?
Well, maybe I’m biased but I don’t think it is. I think being gay is awesome, frankly, and I think lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals and every other -sexuals are awesome too, so take your homophobic bollocks and bugger off with it.
I don’t really fit into a defined “type” of gay person, and I’m okay with that.
I’m too fat to be a twink, too hairless to be a bear. I’m not straight-acting, nor am I overly flamboyant. I like sports, and not just because “lol men in shorts, right?” which I get accused of on an alarming basis (one person even challenged me to define things like free kicks and the offside rule, because SURELY a gay man wouldn’t like sports for the SPORT ITSELF?!), but I also like video games. I don’t go to the gym, I dislike most musicals (but I LOVE the Lion King and Chicago), and I don’t have a penchant for dressing in drag, though I imagine I’d look lovely in a wig and I think RuPaul is AMAZING.
I don’t fit in a box, and that’s cool. People don’t have to. I’m a gay man, but I’m so much more than one thing. I’m a son, a brother, a gamer, a worker. I’m a friend, uncle, reader, writer (you’re reading me now!), TV-watcher, atheist (but tolerant of other religions).
Don’t define yourself entirely by one facet of your being. You are an amalgam of so many things, that to define yourself by one aspect would do you a disservice. Let all of you shine through.
With a large gulf between now and the Legion prepatch, whenever that may be, it may be a good time to start making some preparations for your Legion experience!
Khadgar has been, after all.
An important topic. While you can go into the next expansion with minimal gold, there’s obvious advantages to saving up now. If you’re a raider, you can buy BoE items from the auction house to boost your item level before the first raid tier opens. If you’re a collector, there’s bound to be mounts, pets and cosmetic items that will cost a solid wedge of your gold supply. With this in mind, let’s look at what to do:
People are still buying profession materials, so why not take advantage of this and sell your stockpiles? Provided you don’t need them to level your own professions, this can be a good way to make some quick gold before their prices drop like a stone. It’s important to remember that it’s not fully important to max out your professions now (unless you want the achievement for maxing them all), as Legion will probably keep the expansion catch-up mechanics introduced in Warlords.
Working Followers to the Bone
The more missions you send your followers on, the more gold (and resources, oil, items etc) you will end up accumulating. Have as many Treasure Hunter followers for bonus gold! The garrison is probably your major, most consistent source of gold this expansion, so use it!
Solo Old Raids
A good way of making a lot of lovely gold is by taking your level 100 characters and throwing them at old raids. Most classes will find 25hc Cataclysm raids rather easy (especially if you have gear/abilities with Leech! Massive healing boosts), and a lot of Mists of Pandaria bosses are soloable too. Bosses can drop a cool 100+ gold each, and that’s not even mentioning the gold from vendoring all the crap they got. You may even get lucky and snap up a transmog piece or 2 to use/sell.
Let’s not forget the mount drops, either. Go for it.
While cashing out will clear a bit of space for you, and the transmogrification revamp we’re promised will hopefully deal with a lot more bag clutter, having more bag/bank slots is never a bad thing. Alternative Chat wrote a lovely guide on all the bags you can get for free, and if you have a character with Tailoring, you can make 30 slot Hexweave bags. Cash in all those Primal Spirits for Hexweave Cloth, use up all those Tailoring work order rushing items you’ve no doubt collected, and use the resulting cloth to make lovely bags.
And if you’re feeling even fancier, you can sell those bags to other people too!
For those without Tailoring, or for whom free bags just won’t cut it, you’ll have to visit the auction house. Just… be prepared to spend, my loves.
Which character(s) will you be taking into Legion? Are you taking a main and a load of profession mules? Are you taking a character for each dungeon/raid role? Do you plan to level everyone? I’d take the time to have a think about what you might want to play in Legion, and make a decision, because you can use the time to prepare them! Get them a legendary ring maybe, get them geared so early Legion levelling is a breeze.
Me? I’m going the tank/healer/DPS route. Protection Warrior (except she will spend more time as Gladiator, so she’ll be the “oh shit emergency” tank), Shaman Healer, Destruction Warlock!
Of course, you COULD be waiting for Demon Hunters to come out, in which case… I suppose you’ll have a lot of free time to make gold!
Whether it’s achievements, mounts, pets, transmog items or even a natty title (like PREDATOR!), there’s something out there you want, why not take this opportunity to go out and get it? There’s no better time than in a content lull after all!
It might not explicitly be preparing for Legion itself, but it DOES ensure you don’t necessarily have to come back and farm it all later, when the appeal might well have worn off completely.
What have I been doing recently? Why, levelling Ikralla Adnap in Final Fantasy XIV, of course! She finally hit level 30 in Rogue, and I immediately set about getting the Ninja job unlocked.
It’s an interesting character concept. You have 3 core abilities called Mudras, special ninja hand signs, and you use these in various combinations to make attacks happen. The Mudras are Ten (the first one you get), Chi and Jin, and a 4th ability called Ninjitsu is what you activate to unleash the attack.
Using 1 mudra on its own sees you throw a massive shuriken, using Chi then Ten makes an enemy explode and deal fire damage to it and enemies around it, Chi > Jin > Ten increases your attack speed, and so on and so forth. Mess up a combination? You temporarily wear a bunny hat so everyone can laugh at you.
I like this about FFXIV. It has interesting class mechanics (at least, Ninjas do. Not played with other classes much yet). Rogues do too, in that they have certain attacks do double damage when executed after other specific attacks. You use Spinning Edge, which doubles the damage of Shadow Fang or Gust Slash, the latter of which also doubles the damage of Dancing Edge (which does even MORE damage when you attack an enemy’s flank) or Aeolian Edge (which deals further damage when you use it behind your enemy). Rogues are about positioning, or at least about knowing how your ENEMY is positioned, and using the appropriate attacks.
Also, my character is not a cat girl anymore, but a dragon girl! The Au Ra race were introduced with the Heavensward expansion, and I used the Fantasia potion I receieved for being subbed a certain amount of time on changing her! No regrets. Never looked back.
Dragons are fuckin’ RAD.
That girl on the right is an NPC called V’Kebbe, and she’s pretty cool herself.
I will one day be clad in the most garishly-coloured armour I can find, but until then, she’s wearing unflattering greens and manky browns.
Another concept I like about FFXIV is that 1 character can be every class. I levelled Ikralla initially as a Pugilist, then switched to Rogue when the opportunity arose. She’s currently sitting in Limsa Lominsa as a Culinarian, a non-combat class that creates buff foods, but I can switch to a gathering class, magic class, a combat class or another crafting class merely by going to their “guild” location, completing a quest, then equipping that class’s weapon!
There’s a benefit to levelling like this too. Some abilities are marked as being cross-class ones, meaning that you can use that as ANY class. When she was fighting as a Rogue, I can’t even begin to fathom how many battles I might have lost without the Pugilist healing ability.
Anyway, enough gushing. Here’s a Cactuar from Final Fantasy 8. Have a nice day, kids.
Some games teach you to have alternating save games. Save in slot 1, then save in slot 2 next time. Rinse, repeat. This next game, and their series of bosses, serve to teach you this in the most brutal manner possible:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Riovanes Castle Fights
I’m lumping a series of 4 battles into 1 post purely because once you’ve gone into Riovanes Castle and completed the first fight, you’re unable to leave unless you load from an earlier save, or complete the series of battles.
The first one is easy enough. KO a load of generic enemies, and one rather weak non-generic guy called Marach. He loses, he runs away, you go through Riovanes Castle Gate, and run into…
Alone, in a relatively small arena, where he has height advantage over you. Here’s where you learn whether your decision to level Ramza as particular classes was wise. There are ways of making this fight easy. You can have Ramza as a Squire, spam Tailwind to increase your speed until you get 2 turns for every 1 turn of Wiegraf, then wail on him one turn, and then outrange him the next.
You can be a Knight, and break his weapons and armor, or be a Thief and steal them. This reduces his attack, defense and health!
You can be a Dragoon and Leap at him. Leap makes you untargetable by Wiegraf, and then you crash down onto him for MASSIVE DAMAGE.
Each of these strategies are improved with the Chemist ability Auto Potion, which makes you quaff a potion when you get hurt, increasing your survivability without spending an action on it.
Trouble is, if you don’t know this fight is coming, you may well have levelled Ramza in a non-optimal way. Maybe you are the aforementioned classes, without the aforementioned abilities. Maybe you decided to level Ramza as your White Mage, Orator, or other low-damage, low defense class. Wiegraf could easily kill you in one or two hits! His White Knight abilities hit like a TRUCK, even on Knights wearing heavy armor. Squishier classes may well fall in one go. You have to get his health to 20% or below, so you can’t run away forever, you have to eventually stand and fight.
Perhaps you’ve not even levelled Ramza at all. Though he is present in damn near every story battle, maybe you’ve levelled other characters more in random ones. An underlevelled Ramza is a sitting duck against Wiegraf. Indeed, many people have memories of having to start the whole game again, simply because the way they levelled Ramza made the battle completely unwinnable.
Once you get Wiegraf to 20% health, it’s immediately followed by fight #3, against Velius/Belias. Immediately, as in you don’t get a chance to recover Ramza, so you go into this fight with the same buffed stats (if you went with the Squire Tailwind strategy), but also with the same health as you finished Wiegraf with. Woe betide you if you’re at a critical level and Velius or one of his minions goes first!
Yes, he notices your allies joined this fight, and he summons allies of his own.
Powerful Archaeodaemons, with attacks that can decimate you! Of note is their Gigaflare, which has no charge time, and thus comes out instantly. Most attacks have a small delay between when you select them, and when they come out (spells requiring incantations, that sorta thing), but Gigaflare has a charge time of 0!
Belias himself uses incredibly powerful attacks, and can inflict Silence, Confusion and Stone with his spells. Got some units clumped together? He’s gonna nuke them with a Summon ability (usually Cyclops), and if you hit him with melee attacks, he responds with a powerful Counterattack, capable of killing some lower defense units in one hit!
Beat him? Not out of the woods yet. You then move to the roof of Riovanes Castle for battle #4. At least you get to save before this one!
That character in the middle is named Rapha, and has just watched her brother die. She’s AI-controlled, and the level fails if she dies.
Those characters on the top are your enemies. The two girls are of the Assassin class, and are extremely fast. Not only that, but they have an attack called Stop Breath (or Stop Bracelet in the PS1 version) that instantly KO’s an enemy with a horribly high frequency. The bloke is also really speedy, and is of the Samurai class, which has really powerful AoE attacks. Your objective is to get one of the three enemies to a critical health level, whereupon the fight ends.
Trouble is, as mentioned, Rapha has just watched her brother die. She’s grief-stricken, and thus has slightly suicidal tendencies. She’ll make a beeline for Celia or Lettie, attack them with one of her ineffective attacks, who will then respond in turn by using Stop Breath, or one of their other powerful abilities. It’s kinda explained as her wanting to be reunited with her brother in death, her brother who has always been there for her, even in dire circumstances. Doesn’t make her running over to the assassins any less annoying!
This is usually before you can even act, too. This stage can be lost before you make a single action.
Before the fight, you need to optimize Ramza (or any of your team) for speed. You NEED to outspeed Celia and/or Lettie, and you NEED to KO them in one go, lest they go off and kill Rapha. Hello Ninja class, which is fast and can wield two weapons. It is possible that Celia and Lettie ignore Rapha to attack one of your characters; maybe a White Mage, or by using one of your other characters to block a direct path to Rapha. Consider this a 1 in 10 (15? 20? 100?) occurence!
Typical turn of events?
- Rapha runs towards the enemies and hits nobody with her attacks.
- You try and run over near her.
- Elmdore uses a powerful AoE attack that hits Rapha and probably Ramza.
- Celia and/or Lettie finish her off, or inflict Stop/Stone/Charm from range, and the OTHER one finishes Rapha off
Reload. Hope things go differently.
So there you have it. Riovanes Castle, one of the most frustrating series of battles in gaming! Alternating between save slots is always a good idea; being able to load up a save from before you pass the Point of No Return and buy stuff/proper abilities is just so helpful if things end up going terribly wrong.
He who can snipe you through loading screens.
I intend this to be a series on the bosses I consider to be the most difficult, frustrating bosses in all of video games! Naturally, this is merely my opinion, maybe you have bosses you find more difficult? Or you consider the bosses I list easy? Let me know!
For now, we kick off with…
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
To understand what makes this boss so potentially devastating to you, you need to understand the battle system of Nocturne. It uses something called the Press Turn Battle system, whereby you take turns, and how many actions you can perform are indicated by how many icons appear in the top right.
There are 4 icons, therefore 4 actions, generally 1 per unit. You have 4 units? 4 actions! If you’re lucky enough to get a critical hit, or you hit an enemy’s weakness, one of those turn icons, instead of disappearing, turns into a “half turn” icon, meaning you can take more actions! If your attacks miss, or the enemy nullifies/drains/reflects the type of damage you tried to do, however, it consumes TWO turn icons, effectively REDUCING the actions you can take in your turn.
This applies to the enemy too. They hit a weakness, they take more actions. They miss you, they lose turns.
And so we get to the Matador.
In a lot of RPG games, you get various magical abilities. Nocturne is no different. They fall into several categories here:
- Attack magic: The most commonly used magic!
- Healing magic: 2nd most used, probably most useful.
- Status magic: Inflict status effects!
- Support magic: Buff stats, debuff stats, and remove stat buffs from your enemy/stat debuffs from you.
A lot of people tend to neglect support and status magic in most RPG’s. It doesn’t do direct damage or heal, so what’s the point? They may keep attack-boosting spells (in this game, Tarukaja boosts physical damage, Makakaja boosts magical damage), but other than that? Useless!
Not here. Not now.
Around 1/3 of the way through the game, in the Great Underpass of Ginza, you run into this bullfighting monstrosity. The first action he takes (and he WILL take the first action) is to use the ability Red Capote. This buffs his evasion to maximum levels.
Now, remember what I said about what happens if you miss attacks? You lose turns. This means you potentially lose precious healing turns!
He may be a speedy little bugger, but he also packs a massive punch, thanks to his powerful Force spell Mazan, which hits all of your party, and the physical ability Andalucia, which hits random targets several times. And yes, it is possible for ALL the hits to be on one character.
The trick with him (and many bosses in the game, and even random encounters!) is to use the spells that other games treat as useless. The debuffers. Dekaja will nullify his evasion boost (until he casts it again of course), and Dekunda will restore your defense to normal (his ability Taunt buffs your physical attack, but reduces your defence, which will make his Andalucia hurt even MORE).
He tends to get a bit nasty when you’ve knocked off half his health. He starts combining his Andalucia attack with an ability called Focus, which causes his next physical ability to do 2.5x the normal damage. Ouch. It’s tempting beforehand to equip your main character with a Magatama (the essence of a demon that confers elemental strengths and weaknesses and level-up abilities, usable only by your main character, the Demi-Fiend) that nullifies Force abilities, this way he loses turns every time he uses Mazan.
Thing is, Mazan is NOT his most dangerous ability, it’s Andalucia (and Focus/Andalucia especially), so equipping a Magatama that halves Physical damage is more helpful here. He won’t lose turns, but he won’t KO your main character so damn easily.
Oh, by the way, your main character’s HP reducing to zero means game over, even if you have other party members at full health, so watch out for that (Focused Andalucia’s hits all hitting the Demi-Fiend will probably result in a game over!). Having the Fog Breath ability on one of your demons will also be a big boost, as this reduces his evasion AND accuracy, and if he misses an attack? He loses turns!
Matador is a very rude awakening. While the rest of the game up to this point isn’t exactly a cakewalk, Matador is a massive spike in difficulty compared to what came previously, and usually requires special preperations to actually defeat (having a physical-resisting main character, a demon that nulls Force, a way to counter Red Capote, and a healer that can heal everyone at once), but also teaches you that this game is not like other RPGs. It teaches that buffing your stats and (more importantly) debuffing your opponents,or even simply dispelling them, is an incredibly important tactic, and that it’s in your best interests to have party members capable of using at LEAST Dekaja (nullify enemy stat boosts) and Dekunda (nullify ally stat debuffs), especially later in the game when enemies will start throwing Degenerate (lowers ALL your stats) at you.
Oh yes. The one that, if unprepared, causes you to have to RESTART THE WHOLE GAME.
So for the last 8 days, I’ve been sunning it down in the south of France. La Colle sur Loup to be precise, and it’s LOVELY. The first day we were there, there was a thunderstorm, but that lasted 15 minutes, and it was so warm that an hour later, all the water on the ground had dried out.
Why La Colle? The boyfriend does aikido, and every year his club go to La Colle for an aikido summer school, where they train from 6am until about noon (with a break of course), and other optional classes from new-and-upcoming teachers in the afternoon.
I didn’t do this. I went along because HOLIDAY. I also helped out around the chalets, made coffee, did breakfast and whatnot. I’m nice like that.
We had intended to make it a more exploratory holiday. Visit Grasse, Monaco, Cannes, St Paul de Vence, places like that, but he was so knackered from aikido and I was so relaxed in the sun that we ended up staying at the chalet most days! Sitting by the pool, reading my books (Faust Among Equals and Flying Dutch by Tom Holt, one of my favourite authors), trying to get a tan and failing miserably (I didn’t burn either, I’m just… the same colour as when I left).
So I had a wonderful time, and I got back to Cardiff yesterday, and initially it was sunny, which goes against everything we had heard from our friends, but it turns out this was a small respite from the actual weather. Within an hour or so, the thunderclouds rolled in, and it’s been raining ever since!
So that’s the view from the end of La Colle’s main high street-type area, with all the restaurants. On our last day, we went to a place called Le Tigre, which is La Colle’s main pizza joint. Oh my god it was SO GOOD. I had a pizza called “la cannibale”, which featured minced meat, melty cheese and olives which I gave to my boyfriend because OLIVES ARE BAD.
Lemon meringue pie for dessert too. I’m a sucker for a lemon meringue.
This is what my boyfriend and his crew were doing each day. This is apparently a pin from kote gaishi, and I have no idea what it means but it looks painful.
My boyfriend was taking the picture. The one on the ground is one of his teachers.
This, however, is where I spend most of MY time, beside the pool at our camp site, Les Pinèdes. It’s as pretty as it looks in the picture.
And that’s where I’ve been the past week. I’ll get back to posting in this blog more regularly again, promise.