Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 7

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead.

Today’s WoW session has reminded me how wonderful it is to have the Flight Master’s Whistle.

WoW BfA Stormsong Valley NElf Flight Masters Whistle Dec 2018

I love the speed and flexibility it brings before flying is available—meaning, if I don’t have very much time to play, I can still log on and do a quest or two. The five-minute cooldown is long enough not to ruin the gaming balance but short enough not to feel annoying.

The only way it could be better is if it were available below max level. Sometimes I forget and try to mash the button on my alts, but usually I just get a good laugh out of my mistake. 🙂

Image: World of Warcraft screencap

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

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Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 6

Here’s another holiday transmog for Alunaria’s positive WoW-ing challenge:

When it’s cold outside, it’s time for my protection paladin to slip into something more seasonally appropriate with her Snow Angel mog.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 5

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead.

One of my absolute favorite world quests is the Slippery Slopes near Kennings Lodge in Tiragarde Sound. You get to race down an icy course on a penguin pretending to be your sled.

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest1

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest2

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest3

WoW BfA Tiragarde Sound Slippery Slopes World Quest4

It’s such great fun! 😀

Also, Erik just told me that the quest can pop up in three locations altogether, and you get an achievement for doing all three. I’ve only seen it near Kennings Lodge—bad luck there—but now at least I can keep an eye out!

Images: World of Warcraft screencaps

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 3

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead.

Today I’ve mostly leveled my Dark Iron Dwarf paladin. I got to level 60, which means FLYING, yay! I also added my very first Mole Machine locations beyond the ones that come by default.

WoW BfA Dark Iron Dwarf 1st Kalimdor Mole Machine Found Dec 2018

This Machine is next to Honor’s Stand in Southern Barrens. Now that I can fly, I can go round and add the other level-appropriate ones so much more easily. 😀

Image: World of Warcraft screencap

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 2

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead. We’re always up for some kindness and fun, so here’s a contribution from us: some holiday-themed transmogs to light up the winter darkness.

My holy priest brings you the gift of healing in his Winter Wonder-Worker set.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Joy to the World (of Warcraft) 1

Alunaria, over at Alunaria’s Avenue, has proposed a holiday challenge: stay away from the griping, grousing, and general grinchiness about World of Warcraft that’s all to easy to find these days and post something positive instead. We’re always up for some kindness and fun, so here’s a contribution from us: some holiday-themed transmogs to light up the winter darkness.

When you can already turn into a stag, a little Christmas spirit isn’t hard to find. Here’s my guardian druid in her Jolly Holly set.

Of Dice and Dragons is an occasional feature about games and gaming.

Tali for Saturnalia

The ancient Romans celebrated the holiday of Saturnalia on this day, the 17th of December. (At least in early Roman history it was a one-day holiday; later, it was extended so that it started on the 17th and lasted through the 23rd.) Saturnalia was a festival of good cheer and relaxed social strictures, thought of as recreating a lost golden age ruled over by the god Saturn. Typical practices included feasting, gift-giving, and a holiday from the usual social rules: children got to order their parents around while adults played children’s games; the masters of the household served a feast to their slaves; and gambling, which was a popular passtime but not usually allowed in public, was freely tolerated.

Romans played many different gambling games, but some of the most popular involved dice. One common game, known as tali, was played either with the knucklebones of sheep or goats (called astragals) or with cubical six-sided dice marked with the numbers 1 through 6, like modern dice. Astragals had four sides. For gaming purposes, it seems they were assigned values of 1, 3, 4, and 6. When playing with six-sided dice, only those numbers were used; 2 and 5 were ignored.

The rules of tali are not entirely understood today. Probably there were many different variations with different rules, and all of them were so common that no one bothered to write down instructions for how to play. Here is a playable modern interpretation based on what we can gather from literary references and artistic depictions.

All you need for any version of the game is four six-sided dice and something to bet with (coins, poker chips, chocolates—whatever you like), although a pencil and piece of paper for each player to record their throws can also be useful.

Simple Tali

Each player pays an ante into the pot.

Each player then rolls four dice, either their own set or taking turns with a common set.

Each player’s roll is then scored, and the winner takes the pot. If no one wins a round, everyone rolls again. If two or more players tie, only those players roll again until someone wins.

Dice rolls are scored according to the following system in which “hands” of dice are ranked, much like hands of cards in the modern game of poker.

  • 6,4,3,1 – called Venus, the best roll, always wins.
  • Rolls that include at least one 6 (apart from 6,6,6,6, which is a Vultures—see below) are called Senio and are scored by totaling the numbers shown (excluding the numbers 2 and 5, which are not counted). Any Senio always beats a Vultures or a roll that includes no 6.
  • Rolls that show four of the same number, called Vultures, score at the bottom of the heap, but will win over other 6-less rolls.
    • 6,6,6,6 – called Vultures, beats only a lower Vultures, The Dog, or a roll without a 6.
    • 4,4,4,4 – called Vultures, beats only a lower Vultures, The Dog, or a roll without a 6.
    • 3,3,3,3 – called Vultures, beats only The Dog, or a roll without a 6.
    • 1,1,1,1 – called Vultures or The Dog, beats only a roll without a 6.
  • Any roll that has no 6 (except a Vultures) always loses.

Here’s how a sample round might play:

  • A rolls 6,1,1,1 – a Senio worth 9
  • B rolls 6,5,3,1 – a Senio worth 10 (because the 5 is not counted)
  • C rolls 3,3,3,3 – a Vultures
  • D rolls 4,4,4,3 – a losing roll

B wins this game with a Senio of 10. Even though D’s roll totals higher, it has no 6, and therefore automatically loses.

Tali variations

The version of tali described above is perfectly playable, but it’s a simple game of chance with no real strategy. Here are a few ways you can make it more interesting. (All these variations use the same scoring system described above.)

Liars’ tali

Each player rolls their dice in secret and hides the total (or, if using a common set of dice, records their roll in secret). After an initial bet, players raise, call, or fold in turn, as in poker, until everyone calls or folds. The players still in the game then reveal their rolls and the winner takes the pot.

Draw tali

Each player rolls their own dice (this variation is difficult to manage with common dice). Any player may then ante into the pot again for the chance to reroll a die. Repeat either for a limited number of rerolls or until everyone passes. The player with the best roll on the table wins the pot.

Stud tali

Each player rolls one die and either keeps it (if using individual dice) or records it (if using common dice). After all players have rolled once, each one either antes into the pot or folds. Repeat three more times until all players have rolled a full four dice. The player with the highest roll among those still in the game takes the pot.

Happy Saturnalia!

Image: Roman dice, photograph by Wendy Scott via Portable Antiquities Scheme (Leicestershire; 1-410 CE; lead)

History for Writers is a weekly feature which looks at how history can be a fiction writer’s most useful tool. From worldbuilding to dialogue, history helps you write. Check out the introduction to History for Writers here.

Rolling for Charity

What’s even better than gaming? Gaming for a good cause! Roll for Charity is an organization based in Buffalo, New York, USA, that sponsors gaming events with a good purpose: supporting food aid to combat hunger and food insecurity. One thing they do is host gaming events in which players can make charitable donations (in cash or canned food) to get special perks and powers to help them win. Has there ever been a better use of cheat codes?

We’re not close enough to Buffalo to take part in any of their activities (we heard about the organization by chance), but it’s a marvelous idea and we hope there are more people out there doing similar things. If you are in the Buffalo area, though, you might want to look them up.

These days when it can feel like the news is always bad, it’s good to see people working toward something that isn’t just in a good cause, but sounds like an awful lot of fun.

Image: Roll for Charity logo by Seijen

Hey, look! We found a thing on the internet! We thought it was cool, and wanted to share it with you

A WoW Mole Machine in Murdoch Mysteries?

After months of working on it, we opened up Dark Iron Dwarves last week. Yay! I’ve been leveling my new DI paladin a bit, getting a sense of the new-to-me racial abilities. They include Mole Machine, a way to quickly change locations by tunneling through the earth.

We’ve been rewatcing and rating Murdoch Mysteries for our project for a while now. A seventh-season episode, “Journey to the Centre of Toronto”, has a burrowing or boring machine that should look very familiar to World of Warcraft players.

Murdoch Mysteries s7 e11 Burrowing Machine

It’s a mole machine, right? Right!?!

WoW Westfall Sentinel Hill w Dark Iron Dwarf Mole Machine

The episode doesn’t actually ever call the device mole machine, but some of the characters do talk about hypothetical mole people who live underground. I wonder whether there are any WoWers in the writers’ room? 😀

In any case, even though the series seems to otherwise strive towards reasonable accuracy, now and then they definitely veer into SSFnal or steampunk-ish. I love the tongue-firmly-in-cheek attitude!

Images: screenshot from the tv series Murdoch Mysteries, season 7, episode 11, “Journey to the Centre of Toronto”. World of Warcraft screencap with Dark Iron Dwarf mole machine in Westfall.

In the Seen on Screen occasional feature, we discuss movies and television shows of interest.