World of Warcraft, then. I’ve always wondered what exactly was involved in the ‘craft of war’ within this MMO for the masses, but the other night I received a small hint of what it might entail. I was out questing with my level seventy druid and had found an interesting quest chain that I was enjoying working through. However, coming towards the end of the chain I received a tingling sensation from my Adventurer Sense[TM] and I got the distinct, yet subtle impression that it was all about to get a little bit tricky and complicated.
Me: “What’s next, oh recently met this morning person; oh possessor of much shiny loot; oh giver of passages of text that compel me to undertake tasks that your own parents wouldn’t be prepared to do for you?”
Quest Giver: “Oooooooo, it’s all about to get a little bit tricky and complicated!”
My adventurer sense really is that good.
It turns out that the couple of bits of crystal that I’d been hunting for all this time were not, in fact, in the handbag of a defenceless little old lady who wanders the marshes around Telredor. Nor were they being used as dradles by the infant offspring of the over- exfoliating contentious objectors of northern Nagrand. And neither were they being used in the bedding of the small fluffy herbivores of the Oasis of Calm, Peace and All-round Non-aggressive Nicety. No, apparently these crystals were wedged beneath the fiery arse cracks of a couple of twenty foot tall mega demons who had liked the look of the shiny pebbles and decided to use them as some form of demonic butt plug(*).
(*) May not represent actual quest text.
And so it’s off with the Fel Leather gloves and on with Marjorie’s Marigolds of Giant Demonic Buttock Mining, and away I go to have a look at these fellows. And so begins the craft of war…
The first rule of Warcraft Club is, you do not talk about Warcraft Club.
The second rule of… uh…
You see, the problem is, they didn’t really think those rules through, because after you’ve stated the first rule you run into the slight snag of not being able to talk about it any more. There were actually one hundred and forty seven rules of the super secret Warcraft Club, but rule one was the only rule anyone ever knew. In fact, nobody knew who the other members were, where to meet or even what the club was actually all about. It was the second worst club in the world.
It was, however, just slightly more successful than the worst club in the world: the super secret Craft o’ War group – formed shortly after it was realised that the Warcraft Club wasn’t going anywhere – had the unfortunate first rule that you absolutely, positively, must talk about the club at all times. This certainly overcame the issues presented by the Warcraft Club rules, but alas was not entirely conducive to keeping a secret school of war very much of a secret. Two hours and thirty four seconds after the Craft o’ War club was formed the core members were rounded up and shot, partly for being involved in an underground movement for training in internecine warfare tactics, but mainly because they were all clearly idiots.
Where in the Inferno was I? Oh yes! The craft of war.
The first rule in the craft of war: Scout out the objectives.
Scouting is probably a slight understatement. In normal warfare a scout would generally observe the enemy encampment through some sort of optical magnification device from half a mile away, make a note of numbers, patrol routes and any other such information that they can glean, then high-tail it out of the area before they were discovered. In the craft of war, the scout can walk into the enemy encampment, have a good old nose around of what’s going on and maybe even carry a small clipboard with them and take a survey of a few wandering patrols:
Scout: “Excuse me! Excuse me, sir! I was wondering if you had a little time to talk to me today about the reinforcement capabilities of your camp here.”
Throgg: “Oh… uh… no. Throgg real busy right now. I, ahhh, I talked to previous person further up the camp, yes that it, spoke to one already, must get to bank before it closes, sorry.”
Scout: “Come now, sir, just a moment of your time to detail patrol movements over each twenty four hour period.”
Throgg: <Walking faster now> “Noooo, Throgg not interested.”
Scout: “Well, can I ask you to take this leaflet? It details who we are, and why we’re going to be attacking your camp later this afternoon.”
Throgg: <Snatches leaflet> “Ok! Ok! Now leave Throgg be!”
And the great thing is, once you’ve scouted around, you won’t have to do it again: the enemy won’t react to you roaming around their fort by, say, reinforcing the gate guard, switching patrols around or even plugging up the gaping great hole in the perimeter that you waltzed in through, they’ll just carry on as happy as ever, although one or two might be grumbling about the recent influx of street surveys.
The second rule in the craft of war: Plan an escape route.
It’s always a good idea to plan your escape route should something go wrong. Generally though, your escape route is going to be your entry route, since you’ll have cleared a neat little path right through the centre of the enemy camp, and the enemy certainly won’t consider the trail of corpses of their nearest and dearest comrades in arms to be any reason to follow the trail on to its source, namely you.
“Throgg not remember this many corpses of Groth and Strugg and Krung last time he patrol past here. Oh well. Throgg not see any hoomans, so on Throgg goes.”
The third rule in the craft of war: Have a little go.
This is a fierce demon you’re facing, and you don’t know quite where in that megalith of a butt he might have stashed the crystal. It looks like you might have to defeat him outright and then search the corpse due to the concern that trying to pick this particular flatulent pocket might cause you more than a little harm. Never fear, however, because you can take this chap on as many times as you like so long as your escape route is clear, for despite commanding legions he will never call upon them when he is set upon by troublesome adventurers. For example, if you want to know if your rooting spell will hold him, just stand back a bit and cast it; if it fails he’ll charge after you, certainly, but you can just saunter away from him, perhaps while smoking a pipe and twirling a cane in your other hand. Keep walking nonchalantly along, because just as he is about to reach you he’ll suddenly remember that he left the iron on, or he forgot to feed his cat, or perhaps he hears the tinkling tones of a nearby ice cream van, and he’ll turn tail and rush back to camp as fast as his cloven-hooves will carry him.
“Curse you to all four corners of the fiery underworld you puny mortal, you dare to taunt me?! I will DESTROY YOU, I WILL UTTERLY… oh hell, I left my socks drying in the oven. <Turns around and legs it back to base>NEXT TIME ADVENTURER. NEXT TIME!”.
The fourth rule in the craft of war: Clear all the minions in the area.
You’ve cleared a huge swathe of mobs on your way to their leader, but always hang around for a bit to see if there are any patrols that you’ve missed. You may have to wait a while though since the patrols, although eminently predictable, may range far and wide in the most illogical and utterly bizarre manner possible. Thus, it may take some time for various patrols to reach that point, five feet in front of the person they’re supposed to be guarding, where you are currently camped.
“This is the seven thirty south western patrol, calling at Far Away, Further Away, Way Way Too Far Away, All The Way On The Other Side Of The Map, Half Way To Nowhere In Particular and Stratford Upon Avon.”
The fifth rule in the craft of war: Have another little go.
While you’re waiting for patrols don’t be afraid to have the odd pot-shot at the demon commander when you feel you have enough room. The boss will have entirely forgotten you since two minutes ago, and certainly won’t have developed any strategies to undermine what you attempted last time.
The huge pile of his guard patrols’ corpses seems to be entirely uninteresting to him. Maybe he’s deep in thought, perhaps composing an irritating Muzak tune that he will unleash on all the elevators of the world; he’s not an evil demonic commander for nothing, you know.
The sixth rule in the craft of war: Buff up.
A small delightful picnic a few yards away from your target is always a wonderful way to boost the morale of yourself and any other members in your party. Be sure to bring a nice bottle of Beaujolais nouveau!
Don’t worry though, as well as not being able to see for more than a few feet in front of their nose, demonic commanders are notorious for their complete lack of the sense of smell.
The seventh rule in the craft of war: Charge!
Attack for all you’re worth!
You’ve had some light exercise, a delicious light lunch, and a quick round of ‘toy with the mob’, so you should be ready by now.
The seventh and a half rule in the craft of war: Run away!
I told you those patrols took a long time to come around.
The seventh rule in the craft of war: Charge!
Ok, you’ve finally cleared all the patrols, including the seven thirty south western service, so it’s time to try rule seven again. Yes, rule seven again, we’re not wasting a new rule because you didn’t clear all the patrols; did you think the fourth rule was there for fun?
The eighth rule in the craft of war: There is no rule eight.
And for good reason.
The ninth rule in the craft of war: Run away!
Don’t be complacent in your victory, for the demonic commander does, at least, have one trick up his sleeve. Once you’ve defeated him and retrieved your crystal, wiped off the goo and stored it away, do not then take time to gloat, because as you stare at the very corpse of the one who you but moments ago defeated, the very same demonic commander will also, through some bizarre and incomprehensible spawning process, be looming up over your shoulder ready to deliver you to your doom, and this time he put his socks in the airing cupboard to dry…
And finally, the tenth rule in the craft of war: You absolutely must or must not talk about the craft of war depending on the situation, but the general idea is that we’d like to keep it a secret so use your common sense and discretion.
Oh wait, sorry. That’s incorrect, the tenth rule is: Never wear a lilac cummerbund with a white dinner suit, it just isn’t the done thing in polite society.