Time Cat (Lloyd Alexander)

Yup, that's the same Lloyd Alexander that wrote the original Black Cauldron book. Here he's giving us his take on the "nine lives of a cat" myth by having a cat take his bored owner through his nine incarnations, spanning ancient Egypt to feudal Japan to the European witch-cat massacre to colonial America. At first the book was kind of entertaining, when they go to Egypt and we're told that not even the king of Egypt can't order a cat around, then they go to Ancient Greece and bumble into a squad that adopt Gareth as their mascot. But the premise eventually becomes a problem because each time period only lasts two chapters before being abandoned, and since each time period is self contained it's like eating at one of those sushi restaurants where you have to swallow each piece within seconds of it hitting your plate before the next one comes.

Also, this is just nitpicking, but the symbol on Gareth's chest is called an "Ankh", book. You don't have to keep calling it a "T with a loop on top".


The Manga Guide to Statistics (Shin Takahashi)

Look, I needed something to flesh this month out, what with WoW Legion eating up most of it and all.

Just what it says on the tin, Manga Guide to Statistics is an introduction to statistics framed in a slice of life manga, using things like manga surveys and math exam scores to explain standard deviation and Cramer's Coefficient, although I don't think the book did a very good job explaining what a P-value was. Because of the pictures the information on the page might not be quite as dense as you'd want, but it's denser than you might expect and a decent jumping off point for heavier statistics material (maybe even No Starch Press' own Statistic Done Wrong).

Now, for the framing story, it's... oh dear...

The premise is that what I believe is a high school student wants to get into her father's coworker's pants so she asks her father for a statistics tutor, thinking it'll be the man two to three times her age. Instead they get her an employee at the company, a college student whose glasses make him look like a total dork. You can already guess how the story ends.

As an intro to Statistical concepts it's decent, but whether you find the story stupid or creepy depends on your "lol Japan" threshold.


World of Warcraft: Legion (PC, E10+)

If vanilla players thought Warlords was watered down for babies, I can't imagine what they think of Legion.

The biggest change from earlier expansions is that instead of obtaining better weapons as you play you get a set of weapons, one for each of your class' specializations, which you then upgrade by plugging in relics and buying buffs on a skill tree. Basically, it's the same change the Mass Effect series made to its weapons between ME 1 and 2.

I guess this isn't entirely bad? I solo as a Protection Paladin, a tank specialization, which in a raid have to really know what the hell they're doing. But up to Warlords this meant I was getting one-handed weapons, and Retribution/DPS Paladins need a two-handed weapon. So I was basically locked into the tank specialization and couldn't hop onto the raid finder as a DPS nobody cares about. But because of Ashbringer, it's easy to switch between the DPS and Tank specialization (theoretically there's also the Holy/healing Paladin, but they need to buff different stats with their equipment while Retribution and Protection can use the same gear, so I never use it).

With this I finally gave the Raid Finder a shot and found out, unsurprsingly, it's toxic as fuck. I appreciate that Blizzard had the foresight to nerf the hell out of the mechanics in Raid Finder, knowing each round was going to be a clusterfuck of people who eat, sleep, and breathe this game getting pissy with others for not instinctively knowing their way around the level and each fight's mechanics on their first go, legitimate dipshits, trolls, and assholes who leave the raid after getting loot, and people who are genuinely trying but are getting tripped up by group A's trash talk and total lack of communication and B's buffoonery, with the occasional person who doesn't speak English thrown in.

For example, one raid has this cerberus boss with a breath attack that's telegraphed by the ground in front of him lighting up into three colors. The game teaches you to get the hell out of the way when you see the ground light up, but counterintuitively, everyone needs to get into this attack because the damage is spread out among everyone hit by it, and the boss gains stacks of a buff for everyone not hit. But everyone also needs to stand in the same color each time because "mixing the paints" is deadly. Instead of telling people this, people just get mad when other people instinctively run out of the attack's path. So on my third time through the raid I took it upon myself to explain all this in the chat log, and one person's response was "You're not the boss of me!"

Although the benefit of finally being up to date with this game is I can now raid with my guildies*, and we've actually had some fun nights in the Emerald Nightmare and Trial of Valor, and are currently working on the Nighthold. Afterwards I tried to go back into Raid Finder to get some of those runes that buff your stats for our real raid nights, thinking "Okay, you have to do this on this boss and that on that boss"... only to have to unlearn all that and go with the rampaging chaos. And even though I'm the secondary tank for our guild, I still won't tank for a bunch of strangers, even though I'd probably be better at it than most of the pugs (at least I know to move Odyn off the electrified ground, people).

The F2P-like follower missions are back, but instead of a small army of followers you can only have five active at a time, which you then have to supplement with generic troops that die after two or three missions. At least there's actually stuff to buy with your order resources; I'm currently sitting on 10,000 garrison resources with fuck-all to do with them, and the game doesn't let me pile them into the main hall and swim around in them like Scrooge McDuck.

I'd also like to invite the people in the chat log telling anyone who doesn't like the Kirin Tor emissary quests to "grow a brain" to sit on a throne of used surgical equipment. Some of us don't like them because we didn't buy a World of Warcraft expansion to play rejected Mario Party minigames.

* Story nobody probably cares about: In February some of the more active members of Adopt a Cat Agency split off and formed a new guild called Not Completely Hopeless. I transferred my Death Knight (Meragidd) to that guild while I kept my Paladin (Azhadak) on Adopt a Cat, but use him to raid with Not Completely Hopeless.

Rating: ???