Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Of failed patriotism and broken promises.

I have a confession to make, dear country. I have betrayed you. From far and wide, O Canada, I stand on guard for thee! ..... but come on, I can only resist so much! He was just too cute to NOT take home, with his little beard and his pot of gold and his top hat, and all of those leftover crowns from Luke Goldhorn's Wizaversary party were burning a hole in my pocket anyway! I'm sorry, Canada. If it's any consolation, my act of betrayal has in turn betrayed me right back.

The Patriotic Leprechaun is a promising new crowns pet with some EPIC derby  talents. Check out the pet my friend got.

When I saw this guy's talents, I was all in. See, I've had to take a bit of a break from PvP. Right now my free time comes in small increments, and it's hard for me to set aside time for a match that could plausibly take more than hour. I'm a bit shy on the arena tickets I need for the robes I desperately want, though. The solution: per derby! Short times frames, simple fun, and a few tickets as a reward. Why not?

I'll tell you why not. Because all of my pet's derby talents STINK, that's why. So I was PUMPED when I saw this little guy! Bring on the arena tickets, right Sam? (And yes, his name is Sam. What did you expect, originality?) So without, further ado, I introduce you to.... SIR SAM!

[crickets chirping]

So you see, Canada, I have already paid for my act of betrayal. Forgive me. I shall pay you back by buying copious amounts of gift cards when they finally come to Canadian stores this fall. (See June 13.)

I also may have a lied a teensy a little bit two posts ago, where I promised myself I was putting my balance on hold. Sure, I meant it at the time, but then John went off on vacation (real life, pulling my friends away from leveling? Say it ain't so!) and left my fire baby all alone. So back to balance it was! And yet again, in betraying my promise to myself I brought about my own punishment. Witness, if you will, what I have brought upon myself. (Steel yourselves. This is not for the faint of heart.)

Are you ready?

Can you handle the horror?

You're still reading, so I'm not sure you understand how terrifying this is for me.

Fine, then. Witness my pain.


Yes, Josh and I got ourselves through Krokotopia (and observed some questionable make-up choices by Krokopatra) and on to Marleybone. WHY, I say? I just finished this madness! On the plus side, my balance baby is wearing semi-matching clothes again, so at least there's that. A girl's gotta match, right?

Did I really just say that? Oh boy. Marleybone is wearing off on me already. If you need me, I'll be running across roof tops at lightning speed, trying to find my way out of this place. Watch out for the rats!

Friday, 24 June 2011

Of video games & education. Yes, in the same sentence.

As some of you are aware, our oldest 2 children have special needs, and due to some unfortunate cracks in the education system Mr Light and I homeschool Simon, Alvin, and Theodore . Okay, so homeschooling Theodore is more like  letting him playing with alphabet blocks, but the concept is there. The reasons behind this decision were convoluted and various, but to say that we never thought we'd find ourselves in this position is an understatement. That I'm a homeschooling Mom right now is as much of a shock to me as to anyone. If you have any questions about why we homeschool, how we homeschool, and what on earth we could be possibly be thinking, feel free to fire away in the comments. But this post is about the role that Wizard101 has played in our homeschooling life.

And yes, it has played a role. A very helpful one at that. Who knew?

One of the unexpected benefits of homeschooling is that, while I certainly use a traditional elementary-style curriculum for all subjects, I can pull almost anything from my kid's lives into their school day and work it into their education. And at this age, anything that can grab a kid's attention and get them actually CARING about their education is a good thing. In our case, we started homeschooling at about the same time our family was introduced to Wizard101, and the result is that we frequently use concepts from Wizard101 to make lessons more interesting. Here's an worksheet we used for math recently.

(Age at the time of the child completing this worksheet : 5)

The main purpose of this worksheet was address an issue with word problems - these questions are intentionally verbose. Genereally speaking, word problems were a struggle for Alvin because he simply didn't care enough to read them thoroughly. But throw a little Wizard101 into the equation and suddenly his mind was able to focus and pay attention, because for once he actually wanted to. Aside from that - look at the concepts this game employs even at it's most basic levels. Percentages, ratios, subtraction, and all in such simplicity that even a five year old can understand them. More importantly, a 5 year old WANTS to understand them and is actually willing to work to do so.

Math concepts aside, by nature of their autism, Simon and Alvin struggle with social situations. They don't always know what's appropriate, what's polite, and what's expected. The game, especially within the confines of menu chat, has given them concrete social rules to play by. If you want something, you need to say please. If someone does something nice for you, you say thank you. Don't jump right into a conversation without even saying hi. You don't jump into someone else's space without asking first. (Note to KingsIsle - you added a 'Please may I join?' chat option, but not 'Please may I teleport?' option. That would be fantastic.) There are millions of little social rules that most people pick up on automatically, but that Simon and Alvin have struggled with. Now, though... well, check out this screenshot I took of a conversation Simon had with me on his wizard the other day (you may need to click to enlarge).

We've tried to teach these rules in the real world, but the boys didn't get the necessity of them until they tried to conquer life in the spiral. By practicing them in game and seeing first hand the benefit of being kind and polite, they've actually transferred those manners to real life. It's second nature for them now to follow up a please with a thank you, and to say you're welcome. They don't interrupt a conversation with their own random comments and requests... as much. Life in the spiral has impressed on them the lessons that were difficult to grasp in real life.

And then there's history. I can't tell you how the boy's eyes lit up when we read about Theseus and the minotaur in the labyrinth, or Odysseus and the Cyclops in the cave. Mythology in particular has come to life for them. It's given their imaginations a springboard to work from and they've been diving into the classics with a fervour I could NOT have imagined. They've even on occasion taking to acting out their favorites, just for fun.

Children with autism, playing pretend? For fun? This is HUGE. So huge, in fact, that their therapists had to see it for themselves before they would believe me.

In short, this game in moderation it's been an incredibly valuable tool in an educational aresenal. It's helped my kids ENJOY school, and drawn them into the learning experience that much more.

Next up - fractions! Oy.

And, because I couldn't let this post go by without mentioning it - Ravenwood Ball, tomorrow night at 6pm CST, in Ravenwood on Vampire Realm! WOOT! Bring on the par-tay!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Of bittersweet goodbyes. Ok, mostly sweet.

This week I bid a fond farewell to my balance baby.

Okay, maybe a more of see ya later.

Between having some fun as the new merc on the block with the Mercenenaries For Hire and working on leveling my fire, trying to level my balance on top of that started to feel a little too hurried and rushed for my liking. So my balance baby is on hold for a bit while John and I work on our new wizards.

I also said a not-so-fond farewell to Savarstaad Pass, and more importantly to everyone's favorite party planner, Abigail DooLittle. Marleybone is DONE! Sweet, sweet relief! I even forced myself to stick around a while longer and farm for some scrap iron from the counterweights to get those pesky crafting quests done so I never. have. to. return. ever. Erm, on this character. John and I are now cooking bacon in the first parts of MooShu. To be more accurate, I'm cooking the pigs and John's frog is... well, doing what myth frogs do. Thanks for ruining the bacon with that, btw.

I also hung out at my first Twizard party this past weekend, and managed to get lucky and win a Sultan's Palace gift card! I used the crowns to buy myself and some friend a dragon's hoard pack. :) I got lucky and with my one pack got the only thing I actually wanted - the dragons wings mount for my fire! To be honest, I don't care for the bone dragon mount too much. I also won a crowns robe for my baby balance that I'm sure will come in handy (once I get back on my balance, lol). My ice got the the flute and I gotta say that while I love the block, that flute playing every spell is going to get old FAST.

I gave the house to my balance baby because, well... sultan's palace, balance wizard.... it just seemed appropriate. The problem is, I have no idea what to do with it. I love decorating, but I always go in with ideas, like this one.

In this case, I have no CLUE how I want to decorate this place, so I feel like I'm just throwing stuff together. So far all I know is that I like the lake, so I've put some plants around it along with a boat and a crab. (Also, my balance is horribly mismatched right now. Sultan's hat, princess/prestigious shoes, aand dragon rider robe. Oy.)

I feel like I need a bigger idea behind my decorating here, before it starts to look at thrown together as my outfit. I should tour some other people's sultan's palaces and steal their ideas.

I mean, get inspired. Yeah. That. 'Inspiration.'

All in all, it's been a fun week!

Side note - a few weeks ago I saw a low level named Katherine LightWeaver talking to a John Shadow low level outside the bazaar. As I knew John wasn't around at the time, I just thought it was a funny joke (and John still thinks I'm just setting him up for a prank with this, lol). Yesterday, however, I ran into her again at the bazaar (no fake John Shadow in sight this time), and she's now a life grandmaster. I asked if she was Katherine Light from central and SOMEONE said yes, but as I was signing out while it was said, I can't confirm for sure if it was her that said it or just someone else assuming this info. Given that both times I saw he she was on scarecrow, and once was with a fake John Shadow, I feel safe assuming this is someone pretending to be me. So far, there's no harm done and I don't really mind (other than being a little weirded out, lol), but please let me know if you see this person acting as though they were me in any more public situations. 'My' Katherine LightWeaver is a death wizard, not a life wizard. Thanks!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Of wizard babies and wizard buddies.

It's been a while since I took a new wizard through the Spiral. For the past little while I've been focusing instead on pets, gardening, decorating, crafting, PvP, Wintertusk, Waterworks... pretty much anything other than new wizards. In these past few weeks I've made two wizards, and I'm loving it. Going back into the questing stage after a long break is like rediscovering the magic all over again, but this time with good friends by my side. :) This time instead of pushing through, I'm taking time to read the dialogue, laugh at the corny one-liners, and just have fun with my friends. The Spiral is a fresh new place again!

This was taken a few nights ago, just after I made my balance. We're at level 1 here, with the gates on Unicorn way still firmly closer. The is my baby balance with Josh's baby myth, as well as John's (in his words) "WAY higher level" storm and balance, who were on Cyclops Lane at the time.
  Since that time Josh and I have burned through WC and left John a little bit in the dust (sorry about that, John). This was my balance baby today, getting her Mander Minion.

I'm loving balance so far. A low level 4 pip AoE, buffs for anyone who needs them, and a nice diversity of bosses in spell quests have made this a fun character to level.

This is my Magus Pyromancer, who's questing along with John's myth and life. We're REALLY taking our time with these ones, which is just fine with me.  Marleybone is by far my least favorite world and, to be honest, I can only handle it in short doses anyway. We finished off Newgate Prison shortly after this picture, so now we're moving on to Knight's Court, some final errands for the aptly named Abgail DoLittle, and then taking on the string of final Marleybonian dungeons. MooShu is so close I can almost taste it. (Mmmmm..... beef and bacon.)

I gotta admit, John's pumpkin head is a little disconcerting. When talking in game I find myself instinctly turning away from his myth and facing his life, lol. It may just be a bunch of pixels, but a guy with a pumpkin for a head is still off-putting. Sorry, man. :P

I'm amazed by how much I enjoy hanging out with these guys. They are both so completely different but somehow we all have a blast together. I'll spare you the details (by which I mean I am saving them for future blackmail), but these guys are a load of fun. If you know them, you want to get to know them more and more. They are smart, silly, sarcastic and yet kind, giving, and genuinely care about others. And if they read this they will tease me mercilessly for having said that, but they'll secretly love it and we all know it.

And let's be honest here - this is why we all stick with the game. The storyline is fun, the dungeons can be a challenge at times, earning badges and learning strategies are great accomplishments, but we keep coming back because of the great community and the friends we've made within it. A year ago I had no idea who any of my in-game friends were, and now the idea of NOT knowing them seems strange. So thanks to everyone out there for making this community the fantastic, welcoming place it is. I know it's been a wild ride this year for me, and I look forward to seeing where the next year goes!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

My legen(wait for it)... daries.

I suppose a blog about wizard101 isn't much without the wizards, huh? ;) So, since I'm lacking the creativity to invent an introduction or a segue, here are my legendaries!

This is my life wizard, Katherine LightWielder. She was my first wizard and is also my main. While I love all my wizards for all different reasons, in my heart I'm a life through and through. I love it when someone calls out for help and I can jump in knowing for sure that I can actually HELP them. That being said, because this was my first wizard, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I think I've repurchased her training points at least 3 times, maybe 4. I tried PvP on her back before CL came out, and before I really understood the mechanics of the game. To say it did not end well would be an understatement. I went back into the arena a short while ago with my newfound knowledge and enjoyed myself a bit more. :)

My life wizard is the first to get her dream pet. A dragonblade pet with blade of life (not as good as may lifeblade for PvP, but far more useful in PvE which is my main focus), spell proof, pain giver, and spritely. The spell proof is a little low for my liking, but overall I'm thrilled with Bandit.

Life's stats. Don't know why you would care, lol, but I felt like posting them. If you wanted to know anything about my gear, ask away.

Up next is my death wizard, Katherine LightWeaver. She was my second wizard, and I created her because I kept hearing how AWESOME death school was. Overall, she's my least favorite. I have fun on her (especially since winning the life mastery amulet in Waterworks!), but for some reason gravitate towards my other wizards more. Perhaps if they'd come up with a solution for the gargantuan/life steal situation a bit sooner I would have stuck with her more, but as it is she got relegated to the bench. I think I'll be pulling her out a bit more in the next few weeks, just to get a feel for death again. That being said, she was VERY easy to get to warlord in PvP.

Death's pet changes with the weather, lol. I'm still very much working on something decent for her, but my pet priorities right now are with storm and ice. In the meantime, I usually use a polar cat with spell proof, health gift, and pain giver.

Death's stats. Full WaterWorks gear again, as all my legendaries have *because I'm hopelessly addicted to the WaterWorks*.

Next up is my storm, Katherine LightWalker. Next to my life I probably use this one the most. In PvE, who doesn't love a storm? You can one hit Sylster and his minions (or Nordri, for that matter) without breaking a sweat. I take her along when I'm worried about firepower. Erm, or if I just really need to work out some aggression by pounding something to death. Not that I ever get that way.... [walks away whistling] Storm was BY FAR,  HANDS DOWN the most difficult to get to warlord in PvP. I did it before Waterworks was released and with low health and no resist aside from pet resist at the time, it was brutal. BRUTAL. And when I did win it was met with complaints about lucky criticals, the unfairness of spritely, etc. I'm glad I pushed through, though - I'm more proud of the badge on this character than on all of the other combined.

Storm has two pets that I alternate between. This is my pet for PvP and soloing. 14% resist, spritely and a stacking blade? Yes, please. For PvP a may cast would be preferably but my focus is usually on PvE.

For PvE in groups I'm still working on my dream pet - that being blade flurry, storm giver, pain giver, and spell proof. If my value as a storm is in my power, I'm going to max that out for MAX OVERKILL! I mean, erm, for the good of the team. Yeah, that's it, the team. I've got 3 out of 4 right now but need to replace a sticky selfish talent with storm giver. It is just not working out yet.

Here are storm's stats (you guessed it - full Waterworks gear) with my PvE pet equipped.

This is my last legendary, my ice wizard Katherine LightWhisper. I like ice. Ice is good for everything. I can solo, I can buff, I can tank, I can kill, I can go undefeated up to warlord in PvP... but for all those reasons I don't really LOVE Ice. I love a challenge, and while ice can burn through accomplishments, I was left feeling like I hadn't really EARNED those accomplishments. Then again, Ice got to warlord before the great ice nerf of Waterworks gear, so perhaps it's time for me to give ice a whirl again. In PvE I treat my ice as more of a pseudo-balance. Blading, tanking, and setting others up while taking the heat.

Ice's stats. In this picture I was wearing my waterworks gear, but I actually often alternate with the level 58 robes. I lose some power and health but gain that 5% resist, which is helpful when I'm planning to just be the tank.

This is ice's pet. Pretty close to perfect (and a hatching machine), but given that I'm not usually using ice as a powerhouse, I'd prefer to trade in either pain or ice-giver for spritely.

That's all I have for legendaries at the moment! I have two new girls working their way up through the ranks - a baby balance who just (literally just, right before I started this post) finished off Wizard City, and a fire hanging out in Marleybone. I'll show them off in another post where I'll take the opportunity to introduce you to my fun, wonderful, but mostly insane leveling buddies. :)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

My inaugural blog - meet the family!

Welcome, young wizard!

As this is my first blog post, or at least my first wizardly one, I'm hesitant to say exactly what you might find here over time. A hodge-prodge of all things wizardly, most likely. Friends, family, farming, fighting, and everything in between! So I'll keep it simple for now then! By way of introduction, here are my husband and kid's wizards. I'll throw mine into a separate post.

Sean LightWielder, aka Mr Light. Legendary Sorcerer and PvP Warlord. Sean is hard-working, dependable, solid as a rock, and would give you the robes off his back (if they weren't no trade/no auction). This right here is the love of my life, pixelized.

Gabriel LightWielder, AKA Simon, Grandmaster Thaumaturge. Simon is patient, smart as a whip, and always pushes (both himself and others) to do the right thing. He believes he is right, the world both wizarding and otherwise is black and white, and digs in staunchly when challenged.

Wolf LightWielder, AKA Alvin, Magus Pyromacer. Alvin is a big ball of energy. Whatever he does, he does passionately and with complete focus. He has what I can only call a talent for trouble. There is NO stopping Alvin once he makes up his mind about something.

Youngin' LightWielder, AKA Theodore. Asks for a 'widdud' on occasion, but trust me, the wizarding world is not quite ready for this quantity of cute yet. Theo is sweet, high-energy, and keep himself busy creating toddler havoc and tagging along after his brothers.

We're having a great time taking on the spiral as a family, and hopefully we can join some of you on our adventures!