Sunday, October 25, 2009

Randomness from the Cap'n

Saturday morning the boy and I got in some more DDO then went and watched Astroboy, which was very enjoyable even if I did get a speck of dust in my eye a couple of times.

After dropping the kids with the in-laws, Liz and I headed into San Gabriel for some Korean BBQ. We got to the restaurant at 2:30pm for their All-You-Eat lunch, only to be told the lunch special closes at 3pm. That's fine, we can eat fast. We didn't eat that fast but by 3pm we had ordered and received our third plate of meat and a second helping of fixings and by the time we were done we were stuffed!

After lunch we went into Pasadena, did a spot of shopping, and picked out some Halloween costumes. The boy's Tae Kwon Do school is having a Halloween party next Saturday and our Church is having its annual Trunk-or-Treat that evening. Liz tried on a Racecar-Pitgirl outfit and she looked good in it, but she didn't like how I looked in my complimentary Speed Racer outfit, so she chose an Indian girl costume while I picked up a Cowboy vest. The picture on the front showed a big mustached fellow with a hat, The Vest, a white shirt, jeans, and belt with huge buckle. I pretty much have all that so The Vest completed my ensemble. Liz's Indian girl outfit came with a headband and feather, so she'll need to provide the Ugg Boots or moccasins to round it out.

Back home I unwound with some more DDO, finally took the plunge, and joined a PUG that was LFMing for the Collaborator on Elite. My Cleric joined a Rogue, a Mage, and a Ranger and we decided that was good enough and started the encounter. I remembered to Heal when I saw Health bars getting low and we drove back the rush of Mobs that makes up the first part of the encounter, then hit the Dungeon itself, which also went without a hitch.

Before the group could think about breaking up I asked about doing Cannith Crystal on Elite so we knocked that one out, too. Then we hit the island where we did the Underground Complex (again on Hard) as well as two other Dungeons, which got me the quest to enter Misery's Peak. So I'm now one Dungeon away from finishing Korthos Island.

Sunday we woke up around 8am thinking we had 2 hours before our Dim Sum brunch with friends, then realized our alarm clock, which automatically adjusts for Daylight Saving Time, had set itself back an hour. It was really 9 o'clock. We were a few minutes late and the last to arrive but not by much. Lots of yummy food was eaten, I even sampled the chicken's feet. They were more palatable this time around than 11 years ago, but are still not something I'd choose to eat at Dim Sum, if given the choice. There's far too much delicious food to fill my tummy with something I'd rather not eat.

With the meal over Xinh suggested we go bowling & everyone thought that was a great idea. As we discussed where the closest bowling alley was, Xinh said she'd meant Wii Sports bowling at our house. That was a good idea, too, so we all made our way back to our house where we first played Bowling, then several of the other games on Wii Sports Resort, all of which proved as fun to play as they were hilarious to watch. The Sword Fighting was probably the funniest, watching everyone flail the Wiimote around in a manner more akin to fighting with rolled up newspaper than actual sword fighting.

Finally, with everyone having errands to run, we called it an afternoon and bid our guests adieu.

And that just about wraps up the weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

MOAR! on DDO

Ever done a quest in WoW then been stuck on completion because you'd like both rewards? Maybe you're a Warrior or a Pally and while you would love that awesome 2H Sword, the 1H sword would be equally delicious for Tanking. Decisions, decisions. You just can't have your cake and eat it, too. At least not in WoW.

DDO is very much an Instance-based game. After leaving Korthos Village you enter the Isle of Korthos proper, and while there are Mobs to kill and quests to complete the meat of the game is in the Instances, but in order to enter an Instance you need to talk to the quest giver and get the quest. Yes, DDO lets you repeat quests which is how you can obtain both the 2H sword and the 1H sword, or in my Cleric's case a thumping great 2H Axe (What? I'm a Dwarf Cleric. We love Axes :D) and the 1H Mace which goes very well with the Shield I picked up...somewhere.

The Quest reward items are not overly powerful but they're certainly worth getting, and as you're probably going to be running each Instance multiple times you're not forced to choose between two equally appealing items; you can have them both. And whether or not you complete the Instance on Solo-difficulty, or Elite, is irrelevant. If you complete the quest you get the reward.

The difference in doing an Instance/Dungeon (I guess it should be a Dungeon. After all, the game is called Dungeons & Dragons) on Solo, Normal, Hard, or Elite, is reflected in the Chest items, with higher difficulty level Chests producing better than average gear, thus while you can solo every Instance on Solo or Normal difficulty, if you want decent quality gear you'll need to run a Dungeon on Hard and/or Elite.

At level 1 my Cleric was soloing Heyton's Rest on Hard, but now he's level 2 with better gear, and so I took the plunge, entered Heyton's Rest on Elite, and completed it! I'd also been doing The Storeroom on Hard so after my success with Elite Heyton's Rest I decided to attempt The Storeroom on Elite as well.

The Storeroom is a very short Dungeon. You enter the first room, kill a couple of spiders and a rat or two, enter a short passage (kill more Rats, or Spiders, or both) then hit a second room and demolish all the boxes & barrels until you find a Silver Key, at which point you get ambushed by a Sahuagin who was also looking for the same key. On Hard, I could take this guy (he's a named Mob which I think makes him the equivalent of a WoW Elite), but on the Elite level this guy packed a punch and then some. I'd been giving as good as I got and we were both at about half health but I'd also been sucking down my Starter Health Pots and getting off a Cure Light Wounds spell every now and then, so I was really getting the short end of the stick. It didn't help that with one hit he was negating my attempts to heal myself. +10 Health. Whack! -10 Health. Crap!

I realized death was inevitable and accepted my fate. I didn't stop fighting but I did stop Healing. My Health dropped to 0, I dropped to the floor, the Release button appeared (or the DDO equivalent) and the Sahuagin trotted off back down the corridor. Mousing over him I was surprised to see he wasn't resetting like Mobs do in WoW. I'd got him down to half his original HP and that's where his health stayed, even though I was dead...or was I?

I lay there, not clicking Release, as my own HP ticked down to -1, then -2, then -3.

Why? Because I'd been doing my homework.

When a character goes down in DDO he's not dead, not straight away. Oh sure, the Release button pops up, but you're not dead, not yet. You're mortally wounding and bleeding out, but you're not dead yet. If you're HP hits -10 then yeah, you're dead, but -3? Not dead yet.

Now the bottom right corner of your screen is where all the important stuff happens. That's where the dice rolls appear. I watched as a d100 result popped up. It was high. Really high. Like 99 or 100. But under the number appeared the word Failed! and my HP ticked down to -4. More high numbers, more Failed!, and my HP ticked down to -5 and then...Success! I rolled low. Low? Low. Apparently lower is better. Like doing the limbo.

I'd been mortally wounded and bleeding to death but my Dwarven stubbornness (& high constitution) had prevailed, I'd made the Saving Throw, and the bleeding had stopped. The words "Unconscious Regeneration" appeared, and my HP went from -5 to -4, then -3, then -2, -1, 0, and when it ticked back up to +1 my avatar leaped to his feet, accompanied (in my mind) by Peter Cushing announcing, "It's alive!"

Fortunately the Sahuagin was halfway down the corridor and facing the other way, because while he may have been at half health I was literally at death's door.

I bravely and valiantly ran from the room, put as much distance between us as I could, then Healed myself back up to full health. Then I bravely unlocked the door to the final room, completed the puzzle, looted the scroll that I'd come here to get, and valiantly completed the Quest and The Storeroom on Elite level.

The reason for doing these Dungeons on Elite level is to earn Favor (i.e. Reputation points) with the locals. You can get Favor from doing the Dungeons on Normal, but you get more from doing them on Hard, and the maximum amount of Favor from doing them on Elite. When you've accrued a certain amount of Favor you also get Turbine Points to spend in the on-line Store, so it's not quite common to see people LFGing for Elite Dungeon Runs. Unfortunately you cannot just go straight to Elite, you've got to do the Dungeon on Hard first, and you can't attempt it on Hard until you've completed it on Normal. In WoW I rarely ran Instances except with Guildies because I didn't like PUGs, so in most cases I'd solo-quest/grind my way to Cap. But in DDO Instances or Dungeons are the game, so that soloist mentality won't fly if I want to maximize my Favor, which I do. As much as the Achiver in me is enjoying Soloing the Dungeons on Hard and Elite, I'll be breaking out of my Soloist shell and actively seeking PUGs.

This is truly an interesting game.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Taking the plunge

Those in the know will naturally know what they're looking at. For everyone else, the above graphic is taken from the character selection screen of DDO and shows that I've upgraded from a F2P Account to a Premium Account.

It didn't take much to do although initially it was a little tricky to work out how to do it. (Damn it,Turbine! Do you want my money or not?!) I wanted to buy some Turbine Points because I'd heard that was all you needed to buy to 'unlock' 2 extra character slots, giving you 4 slots. For an Altaholic like me the 2 slots you get with a F2P Account are nowhere near enough. Even for someone wanting to test drive a couple of Classes before settling on a Main two slots aren't much, especially if you like one class but want to keep trying others; you're now limited to rolling, deleting, and rerolling a new character because you only have one spare slot.

So I went to the official DDO site but when I clicked their Store button it appeared to take me to a Wiki page for their store, not their actual online store. It wasn't until I came across Stabs account of buying Turbine points that I realized I needed to register a Credit Card by logging into my Account, then log into the game itself, and buy my points there, in the game. Alternatively (as I discovered) you can also enter their Online Store (in-game of course), make your RMT selections then register a credit card. Silly me, I foolishly thought I could conduct all my RMT transactions outside the game :D

So I looked at the costs of each package and ended up buying 900 points for $11.99. I could have been thrifty and got 400 points for $6.25, but the analyst in me evaluated the packages and decided 900 was a slightly better value, enough to make me upgrade (plus you can't get much for 400, and I believe I need to 'buy' higher-level areas/modules). The next package was 1500 points for $18.99 and when I did the calculations it seemed that the added value from 400 to 900 points was better than the added value from 900 to 1500, plus $18.99 is really $19.00 (or close enough to) and that's almost $20, whereas $11.99 is just $12, and that was a considerably more palatable purchase.

So why did I buy points?
1 - because I wanted those 2 extra character slots. As I've said, 2 slots is not enough (not for me), nor is 4 but I can live with that :)
2 - I've played the game enough, and enjoyed it, that I felt compelled to reward/compensate the people who made it. Just a small token to say, "Thanks for the great game. Here's some money."


When I first began playing I brought my preconceived-in-WOW ideas with me so it took a while to get used to how to play DDO. Strangely, the tutorial told me the wrong thing, and while it says Left Click to attack it's actually Right Click (for me) which in WoW moves the camera. Apparently that's a way the DDO veterans pick out the newly arrived WoW immigrants, because they'll randomly swing their weapon while in town as they get used to the controls, despite having already run through the tutorial.

I amused myself when I put in several hours of DDO, popped back into WoW for a change of pace, and found myself attempting to use the DDO control scheme. Then, despite running around in WoW for several hours, as soon as I jumped back into DDO I instantly reverted to its control scheme. No problem.

I am liking this game a lot, and while mbp is lamenting the frailty of his Wizard I'm loving my Battle Cleric, who isn't quite Sololing Heyton's Rest (the first Instance) on Elite...just on Hard, which is netting me some nice upgrades. I've already upgraded my armor from the Chain you get for completing the Tutorial to Splint Mail that dropped on Normal level, to Half-Plate out of a chest on Hard. I can currently rip through Heyton's Rest on Hard inside 10 minutes, which nets me two Chests and thus two shots at some good gear. I'm also picking up some items that my Bard could probably use, especially as he's run out of Arrows. I just need to find a Mailbox and work out how to mail said items to him. I'm also a little miffed because I'm a Noob, apparently there's an Auction House, and I've been vendoring scrolls, potions & other misc. stuff that I probably could have sold on the AH for considerably more profit.

I'm liking the fact that I can circle around Mobs and they don't spin like a dervish to automatically face me (as WoW's Mobs do). But there's also a To-Hit penalty for constantly Circle Strafing (or just trying to Attack while on the move) which will adversely affect the twitch-gamers. Still, it's the combat strategy I'm using to good effect, at least on Hard, although it may have caused my downfall when I tried to Solo Heyton's Rest on Elite and died to the first Sahuagin. Back to Hard I went, lesson learned and less over half my Starter Heal Pots.

I'm also really liking the physicality (for want of a better word) of your avatar. Not wanting to spoil Heyton's Rest I will anyway. The final room contains a Sahuagin Adept and three undead (usually two Skeletons and a Zombie) who rush you when you unlock their door. Fortunately you can stand in the doorway and if you position yourself just right, only 2 of the Mobs can get to you at any one time. Unfortunately the Sahuagin is a Caster so when he's not trying to smack you with his Staff he's firing off Magic Missiles, at least I think they're Magic Missile. But the physical presence of your avatars does add a little bit more strategy to battles than you're inclined to find in WoW. Now a Tank can block a doorway, deny the Mobs access to the rest of the Party, and really be a Tank as the Mobs all take out their frustration on him, and I really like that.

Finally, two of the Instances I've run have culminated in tile-shifting puzzles that are a definite change from the Tank & Spank Boss fights I'm very used to. After roping my son in and creating an account for him we Duo'd both Heyton's Rest and The Storeroom, the first Instance with a Puzzle-for-a-boss and while I could have completed it on my own (and already had on a previous attempt), I explained to the boy what he needed to do, then sat back and let him solve it on his own. The puzzle at the end of The Underground Complex (which I Solo'd on Normal, not Hard ;) had a slight twist to it that had me going for a while before I finally figured it out.

I'm still not sure where I'm going with DDO. I do like my Battle Cleric, but the more I read up on them, as viable as they are for Soloing, they're apparently not loved as much as Healbot Clerics (even though DDO Clerics were never meant to be Healbots) and they're apparently not as viable at End Game. But being an Explorer and not an Achiever I think you all know how I feel about End Game content, so the Battle Cleric could very well be my first DDO Character to hit Cap, and I suspect I'll enjoy every step of the journey.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wanted: One artist

Specifically the name of the artist who drew this...
I cut it from the LA Times about 8 years ago and stupidly didn't clip the article itself. But someone knows the artist who drew this, maybe even one of my readers. So, let's see if one of you can come through :)

As always, you can click the picture to view a much larger copy, like Wallpaper size :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What Blizzard did wrong

Hunters. Poor bloody Hunters.

Look at Warlocks. SOBs get their Pet as early as level 2 or 3 (depending on how keen you are and if you start as the Forsaken) so they learn how to play their Pet class, properly, almost right from the start.

Hunters. Poor bastiches start with Raptor Strike. A freaking MELEE special! Hunters! A ranged class, start the game with a freaking Melee-enhancing attack. Nice one, Blizzard. And when do they get their Pet? Not until level 10! What's one of the first Specials Hunters can train? Aspect of the Monkey, trainable at level 4! Aspect of the freaking Monkey! A buff that helps them Dodge! So they start with a Melee-enhancing special attack and get a Dodge Buff at Level 4, but don't get the quest to obtain their Pet until level 10! Their other Level 4 special is Serpent Sting, a DOT. So they have a DOT, a Dodge-enhancing Buff, and a Melee-enhancing Special. What does that imply about their combat style? Apply your DOT at Range, get off an Autoshot or two, then finish off the Mob in Melee.

Hunters can't even keep shooting when in Melee range. But why not? Why...the fuck...not?! Warlocks can cast Shadow Bolt even with a Mob smacking them in the face. Mages can get off their Frost Bolt, Druids can still cast Wrath, Priests can still cast Smite. Why can't Hunters Autoshot a Mob that's all up in their face? No reason, other than Blizzard hate the Hunter class.

So Hunters, right from the first level, are practically pigeon-holed into fighting Melee. And we wonder why Huntards have the reputation they do. Wonder no longer, dear readers, the truth is right in front of you. It's Blizzard's fault! Nice one, Blizzard. You bloody idiots!

See this? This is what a Hunter is supposed to do.My Gun Skill is maxed out for my level (20@4) while my Axe & Unarmed Skills (at 1/20) suck. Why? Because I haven't engaged a single Mob in Melee! My Defense skill would have been 1 as well, except I got hit in Melee ONCE as I delivered the fatal shot. That's it. I've been Strafe-kiting Mobs as I shoot them to death AT RANGED because that's what a Hunter does. I haven't used Raptor Strike at all because I haven't needed to. I didn't bother learning Aspect of the Monkey because I'm not going to need it because I'm a Ranged DPS Class. The only time I plan to get hit is when I do my Tame Beast Quest, and later when I tame my Pet, and even then Monkey won't help me because you can't Dodge while channeling Tame Beast.

Blizzard, you fucked Hunters over, just as you're planning to fuck over all of your loyal customers when you force everyone to switch to BNet later this year if they want to keep playing WoW, and as you'll do next year if they want to multiplay SC2 (No LAN for you!), and with D3 as well. Whoops. You haven't announced that yet, have you? Sorry to pre-empt you there, and Lord, I hope I'm wrong. I really hope I'm wrong. Because if Blizzard release D3 without LAN support they can put me down for two lost sales, and make one of those a Collector's Edition. I know, I know, I'm just a drop in the bucket. But I bet I won't be the only drop. In fact I bet there will be a lot of drops, many who will wait to see if the crackers can come through, like they did with Spore's DRM, and release LAN-enabled copies of SC2.

But even if cracked copies of SC2 and D3 are released, and prove hugely popular, Blizzard still won't listen. They want their legitimate players on BNet and they'll go that route, even if it turns some of their customers away, because just as many of us will refuse to buy a BNet-only copy of SC2 or D3, there will be a lot of sheep who'll flock to the stores on opening days to secure their copy. That's fine, that's their choice. Blizzard's game, Blizzard's rules. Pity their rules only apply if I choose to play.

Rant over.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Following on...

comes the news that as of November 12th, 2009, WoW subscribers will need to merge their account with a Battlenet account if they want to keep playing. Users who fail to merge their account by that date will be unable to access (& play) WoW until they do.

Currently registration and use of BNet is free, but when one looks at BNet it invokes images of Sony's Station and Microsoft's XBox Live (I think that's it), neither of which are free.

Coming next year, some time, (when they're done, says Blizzard, so maybe 2011), are Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3.

Maybe I'm being a paranoid fatalist, but I'm thinking that following on the heels of this forced WoW/BNet merge will be a switch to a paid service, that is, BNet will no longer be free like it is today.

All those people still using it to multiplay Diablo 2, Warcraft 3, and Starcraf can still use it, they'll just need to fork over $15/month. But the good news is Blizzard will throw in a subscription to Vanilla WoW for free...as long as you pay the $15/month BNet fee :P

When Blizzard release Diablo 3 and/or Starcraft 2 I would not be surprised to see them introduce tiered pricing for BNet, i.e., $15 lets you play WoW over BNet, $25 lets you add D3 to the mix, while $32 (maybe $30, if you're lucky) gets you SC2 on top of that.

Don't want to pay for a BNet account? Dare I say it, would Blizzard be complete bastards, but would they not include any form of multiplayer support for D3 and SC2 other than over BNet? Currently you can multiplay D2 and Starcraft over a LAN or via a Direct2IP connection. Will this feature still be in D3 and SC2?

So Diablo 3 comes out and I drop $100 on two copies so my son and I can play together...but then I need to shell out another $30/month so we can actually play together over BNet because D3 won't multiplay over a LAN. That would suck more than Meter Maid switching from suck to blow (which blows more than it sucks, but that's getting away from the point) so I really hope I'm just being my typical paranoid, pessimistic self here. Of course an upside to making BNet a P2Play service (with a built-in subscription to WoW) is Blizzard would be able to report back to their shareholders that subscriptions to WoW are at an all-time high. Well, that's an upside for Blizzard, or it that just more pessism? :)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

To resubscribe?

Or not to resubscribe?

I set up a Trial account for the boy so he could play WoW, and as he's a little Hunter (Orion bless his heart) I created a Priest to run around with him. Unfortunately both of us being on Trial accounts meant that neither of us could invite the other to group, even after I tracked him down in the Troll cave in Coldridge Valley. Fortunately a passing duo invited me to Group up with them, but I had to ask before my son was sent an invite. Their hesitation may have been because he'd named his Hunter 'Infernape', I don't know.

With us in the same group it made questing together a hell of a lot easier, and talking to the boy over Skype (I'm in the family room, he's in his bedroom) meant I could give him battle orders without needing to type or yell. This wasn't that necessary with four of us in the party, but when the other two dropped out to go their separate ways and we moved on from Coldridge Valley and started killing Wendigos, rapid communication became essential.

The Wendigo cave can be a hairy place to enter, and not just because you're after Wendigo Manes. Rapid respawns, a seemingly larger than usual aggro radius, and a willingness to help out their buddies means adventurers questing around and inside the Wendigo need to stay on their toes, lest they be trodden on by a pack of Wendigos. The boy and I went all the way inside the cave while acquiring our quota of manes and on the way out we ran into respawns and trouble when we picked up 4 Wendigos in rapid succession.

To his credit the boy listened when I told him to stop attacking the Wendigo that was hitting him and shoot the Wendigo on me. Self-preservation on my part? Of course not; the boy's Hunter just did better Ranged DPS than Melee. I don't know how but we survived the onslaught and made it out of the cave where we picked up three more Wendigos. Again I reminded the boy to ignore the Wendigo beating on him and shoot the ones on me and again he rose to the occasion, followed orders, and once more we survived.

By this time the real world was exerting its influence and we were drawing wife/mom aggro. We high tailed it back to Kharanos, hit the Inn and logged for the night.

It was great fun grouping with the boy, but if we want to do that again we need to find a friendly player willing to invite us both to a group then leave us to our own devices. And I'm reminded of the problem I had doing just that a month or two back. I was on a Horde character and two other players had wanted to group up to do quests but incredibly we were all on Trial accounts. I know, what are the odds, right? We hit Brill and tried to muster a group but nobody wanted in. For some reason an 80 Orc Hunter was messing around in Brill, and we sought his help. He was more than willing to duel us which I thought would get us a group invite afterward, but no such luck. After crushing us in duels he laughed, danced, spammed various emotes, but steadfastly refused to invite us into a group. In the end I ran off and quested on my own.

So I'm contemplating re-subscribing if for no reason other than it would make grouping with the boy a darn sight easier than constantly having to rely on good Samaritans. Also with Daylight Saving drawing to a close here (& conversely starting up in Australia) the time difference between here and Down Under will decrease to 5 hours (& 1 day), so I'd be more likely to see my sister and her husband online than I would with the current 7-hour difference.

To resubscribe, or not to resubscribe: that is the question.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

McPwning McDonalds

(With thanks to an old friend for the title ;)

With the kids spending Saturday night with us (instead of at the in-laws like they normally do) I woke up around 7:30 or so, thought about getting up and dragging the kids off to the 8am service, then thought twice about it (or not at all), rolled over and went back to sleep. The kids woke me up about an hour later climbing all over our bed and when breakfast demands for Chinese Pancakes were made, the King of Pancakes (yours truly) was kicked out of bed in order that he may satisfy the masses. Three pancakes later (I had cereal) everyone was sitting down to breakfast together, which is not a common occurrence in our house.

After breakfast I noted that we still had time to get ready for the 10am service so teeth were brushed and kids were dressed and off we went to church for the 1st Sunday of the month's Communion service. I briefed the kids that part-way into the service they would be called up the front for the children's ministry (Why does my spell checker not like the possessive form of children? In fact it doesn't like the S on the end, either with or without the apostrophe. Odd.) and communion after which they'd go out to Sunday School with the other children. The service went exactly as I'd said and I watched as my kids left for Sunday School with the other children. When I picked them up after the service they mentioned that they want to go to our church next Sunday, rather than go with their grandparents (who go to a different church). The Bunny because her old pre-school was at our Church and she got to see some of her old classmates who also attend there, and the boy because they have snacks & drinks at his Sunday School and after their lesson they got to play.

Back at home Liz presented me with a 2-for-1 coupon for two 10-piece McNuggets and asked me to get lunch. She pondered whether that would be enough food for everyone but as we had a couple of other 2-for-1 coupons and I planned to make myself a sandwich later, and knowing the kids had just had breakfast a few hours before I figured 20 McNuggets would be sufficient, especially as one of the coupons I took with me were for 2 McFlurries. I also took the McCafe McCoffee coupon in anticipation of getting a McMocha and a McLatte.

And yes, I know the fine print on coupons like this said, "Not to be combined with any other offer," "One coupon per person per visit", etc. I had a plan.

At the McDonalds I put all three coupons on the counter and made it known that I wished to use all three of them.

You can only use one, the cashier told me.

I told her I understood that if she had to ring them up as separate purchases that was perfectly acceptable.

It's one coupon per person, she told me.

One per person per visit, I countered. If you insist, I'll walk out the door and come back in and you can ring me up again.

You can't do that, she protested.

Sure I can, I told her. If I leave the store, I walk out the door then come back in, that's a second visit.

She gave up and went and got someone higher up the food chain, who asked me which coupon I wanted to use.

I repeated that I intended to use all three.

The second lady stood at the checkout for a long time, ignoring me while looking at the young lady next to her who was ringing up another customer. Unlike everyone else who was wearing the McDonalds' uniform, this third young lady was in civvies. Her choice of dress and the way my second cashier was trying to get her input said this young lady was the one running the show. She ignored my cashier but being just a couple of feet away there was no way she didn't know what I was trying to do.

She was both a good manager and a bad manager. Bad, because her staff were turning to her for help and she was leaving them hanging, but also good because she was letting her staff learn how to resolve problems and difficult customers on their own.

Finally my cashier made a decision herself and began ringing up my purchase. She rang up all six items, two 10-piece McNuggets, two McFlurries, a McMocha and a McLatte, then she comped half of them so I paid just $10. And she did all of this on one transaction.

Yeah, I was being a bit of a bastard by trying to use three coupons which clearly (if you could read the fine print) said not to be combined, one coupon per person per vist, but had the first cashier stuck to her guns I was fully prepared to walk out then walk back in and stand in line all over again to use my second coupon, then repeat for the third. One coupon per person per day? Now you've got me. But one coupon per person per visit? Do not try to tell me that leaving the store and coming back in does not constitute a second visit. Hell, I'll get in my car and drive out of the parking lot then come back in if that's what it takes. But it didn't come to that, and in the end the cashier bent the rules a little and her job was made easier (by not having to ring up three separate transactions) and another customer left satisfied with the service he'd received.

Back home I ended up making two sandwiches, one for myself and one for Liz. Apparently 20 McNuggets weren't enough. Maybe I should have taken a 4th coupon and got 2 Big McMacs ;)

Ask, and it shall be given unto you - Luke 11:9