The Power of Bowie

The other day I was running around Redridge doing some mining for tin ore and someone mistypes “/who” in the chat channel.  I don’t know how other people’s brains work, but mine can be very tangential, someone says one word and suddenly I’m six topics away on a related story because of that one word, meanwhile the person I might be talking with is looking at me like I’m a crazy person because they have no idea of the 5 steps between what they said and where we are now.

Well, just that exact thing happened and from the mistype “who” my mind ends up going “who do?” and BAM I’m humming the words to “Magic Dance” by one David Bowie from the movie Labyrinth.  This started a horrible idea in my head.  And so as I continued about my adventure mining and pet battling, when I would enter a new zone I would simply type six words, and let the rest unfold.  Below is what happened…

STV Bowie

NSTV Bowie

BS BowieBurning Steppes actually made it further than anyone else with lyrics!

SS BowieI got a little overzealous there and typed too fast.

SW Bowie

WF BowieWestfall was amazing and the conversation launched into how amazing David Bowie was, for about 30 seconds, than as all Westfall chat does, it deteriorated pretty quickly with talk of nipples and Mr. Bowie’s package.

HF Bowie

Of course, it doesn’t always go so well, sometimes it’s crickets.

Bowie Fail 1

Bowie Fail 2At least they got the movie?  But come on, this was Elwynn, there are like a million people there, but obviously only one over the age of…25, 30?

 Of course, you can abuse the power of Bowie too.

Bowie Fail 3

Even though this was 4 hours apart, the people in Hellfire Peninsula still remembered.

So here’s to you Mr. David Bowie.  You still live on, in ways you never even knew.

Reise ins Labyrinth, Die

And here’s a link to the video/music should you have forgotten.




Review of Hearthstone – Beta

A little while back, Blizzard announced it was developing a new card game for play on computer and other portable devices (iPad, etc.) that would mimic some of the styles of WoW: Trading Card Game and Magic: The Gathering.  I recently got invited to the beta for this game and thought I would give it some play.  I was anxious about giving it a try as I have played both the games previously mentioned, but both games require other people who are equally as enthusiastic about the games and both games had some clunky play to the with rules, order of operations, and resources.  With Hearthstone, Blizzard attempted to create a game that kept the fun elements of deck building and card playing, while simplifying resources and the computer figures out all the rules for you and applies them.  So here’s what I think.

First off, this game is awesome.  I love the quick and simply play style, it’s easy to pick up and the rules are easy to follow-and if not, it tells you what you can and cannot do.  The game currently has 9 class decks to play from.  There are 11 classes in WoW, but in Hearthstone, monk and death knight are currently not represented.

Each of the nine classes is represented by a hero from lore.

Each of the nine classes is represented by a hero from lore.

The tutorial teaches you how to play using the Mage class, represented by Jaina Proudmore.  You go through some simple games and learn the basics, then you’re on your own.  The first thing recommended is to unlock the other heroes/classes by playing the NPC.  Once you beat a hero class you get to unlock it and then can use that deck to play.  Unfortunately at this time, you are limited to that hero icon/voice for each deck.  I’m hoping with future updates you will be able to choose other heroes of that same class as your hero icon, or even just generic icons…because I really don’t want to hear Jaina anymore, as much as I love her.  Your heroes also have XP which you earn from playing games, but after level 10, you have to play against humans to keep earning XP.  But at level 10 you also have unlocked all the basic cards for each class.  So if you really wanted to, you’d never have to play against anything but the NPC, but I suspect that would be boring.  I’m not sure if who you play against is based on level or not, since you also gain XP when you lose.

The quest icon will show a summary of your levels and show any active quests.

The quest icon will show a summary of your levels and show any active quests.

In addition to playing whom you like, quests will also appear and are rewarded with gold.  Gold is useful to buy new packs of cards for those of us that don’t want to spend real money.  So completing the quests gives me another way to continue to expand my available cards.  100 gold buys you a pack with 5 cards in it.  I have to give props to Blizzard on this for allowing the players another way to earn gold to purchase packs.  So many games are full of micro-transactions these days that it limits play and is a big turn-off.  You don’t have to have ALL the cards to have fun with this game.  And some of the early quests will give you some free packs anyways and a chance to earn more packs in the one time free arena play.  I won’t cover arena play here, but for a small cash fee or 150 gold you can enter the arena for a chance for good prizes.  You can earn gold, card crafting dust, or more packs based on how many games you win, but once you lose three games, you’re out with a small consolation prize.  The thing with arena is that you pick one of three randomly selected heroes for you and then build your deck one at a time by choosing again one of three cards selected for you at a time.  So one card at a time you build your deck from random cards which you then battle with…so I only really recommend this to people who have had some deck building experience otherwise it’s a waste of gold and money – potentially.

I mentioned card dust.  You can only have two of each card type in a deck, so you can disenchant extra cards into this dust which then you can spend to buy specific cards you know about.  I haven’t done this yet, but again, it’s another way for the player to gain access to some cards without having to spend money.  Of course spending money by-passes all that, but some of us aren’t prepared to drop buckets of money on non-tangible items…but then, some of us are (*cough* moonkin hatchling).

Hearthstone Minions

The deck builder is fairly friendly and allows you to create custom decks for classes.  You can play with the basic decks provided, but once you learn more of the game, and hopefully unlock some new cards, I highly recommend playing with your own custom deck.  The builder allows you to sort through your cards simply clicking to add them to your deck and presto, good to go.  When discussing with one friend I played against, our criticism here is that for those new to card type games, it would be useful to have the basic decks available as the start of your custom deck, that way you could pick and choose from there, giving new players an idea of how to build a deck.

Screenshot of a game, the paladin (top) has just played a spell giving himself +6 health.  Minions are in the middle, defenders shaped like a shield.

Screenshot of a game, the paladin (top) has just played a spell giving himself +6 health. Minions are in the middle, defenders shaped like a shield.

The play field is clean and colorful.  Cards have voices or spell effect sounds associated with them.  Turn based play is easy to follow and mana is used as a resource.  Each player starts their first turn with one mana and this increases by one each subsequent turn to a maximum of 10 (I believe).  There are ways that some classes can modify their mana pool for one turn, but this resource system is clean and you don’t have to stack a deck with resource cards (yay!!) saving more time for just picking the fun minions and spells.  The play field is also interactive, you can click on the cute little buildings and such around the board and little animations will happen.  I’ve jiggled the gem eye out of that Zandalari a million times while waiting for my players turn.  Speaking of which, each turn has a time limit, so it keeps the play moving.  Like I mentioned before, the computer does all the rules for you, so you don’t have to count health or mana or minions health, this speeds up the game tremendously.  And having played Magic: The Gathering on my iPad, this game just moves faster.

Cards are easy to read, a lack of complicated resources, the mana cost is displayed in the upper left corner of the card.  Text explains the card and if you mouse over a card it will further explain what it means for things like “Charge” or “Taunt”.  This mouse over feature keeps a rule book out of the game.  Attack power is in the lower left of a minion and the lower right has the health of a minion.  Spells don’t have health, but will cause effects like healing, damage, summoning minions, or modifying minions, for example.  Each class has specific cards limited to that class.

Naturally, since Elgar, my priest is my go-to in WoW, I decided to give the priest deck a try, and after some playing around with it, I have settled on a pretty good deck until I unlock a card worth replacing.  I don’t want to give away my whole priest strategy, but the priest deck has many modifier spells for minions.  They also have powerful spells that can outright destroy enemy minions, and the all-powerful 8 mana mind control spell, allowing you to steal a minion from someone else.  Play order becomes critical in this game, being mindful of what counters other classes have, like mage polymorph reducing even the strongest minions to mere 1/1 sheep and warriors execute, which allows you to destroy any minion that has taken damage.  Being mindful of these enemy cards helps you play better.

Again, I won’t spell my whole deck out for you, but I like to play a fast deck, which means powerful cards that cost little mana.  Here are some examples:

Cleric PW Shield Divine Spirit Inner Fire

Those cards listed there with just a total of 5 mana would allow me to turn that little 1/3 priest, into a 10/10 MEGA PRIEST!!  Plus, the priest heroes special ability is to heal, so if the takes a little damage, heal her up, and her active power allows you to draw an extra card when you do.  Whee!!  Now of course, the deck is shuffled, so the chance you’ll get all your magic cards in your hand at once to make it work out is, well, based on Blizzards favorite thing, the Random Number Generator.  But two of each card and a maximum of 30 cards means you’ll still have pretty good chances.  Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and you can turn a cheap creature into something awesome, allowing you to nearly one shot the enemy hero…as I did below…  Did I mention this game is awesome?

Hearthstone Mogu Win

So in summary, if you’re a fan of card games or ever have been, give this a try.  I’ll give it two thumbs up overall with the recommendations mentioned above – allow the user to choose their hero icons, and more importantly, allow the basic decks to be used for starting a custom deck for those that have nearly no deck building experience.  Thanks Blizzard for a fun little game to play!

Warlock City

There are often projects that get started in our little world of Minecraft, but sometimes due to the undertaking, they don’t move slowly, or nearly get abandoned.  Sometimes though, there will be a renewed interest and then it all fires up again, and a forgotten project becomes a priority and sometimes reaches new heights you never imagined.  Recently, we had a few more friends join our Minecraft server and as they explored the world we have modified and created, they came across some of our old structures and projects.

Before there was even the land of Egypt, there was another city.  We just called it “swamp city” because it was built in the swamp biome.  It was just a few structures on stilts in the water SE of Stonehaven.  It was intended to be a trading post of such.  But It never got much attention, since we were still actively working on Stonehaven and then moved to Egypt.  In fact, it pretty much sat there, untouched until just a week or so ago.  When we undertook the massive Great Stonehaven Railway project, which I will highlight in another post, we were attempting to connect Stonehaven to “Canada” as we called it.  But since we discovered Canada by running through the nether and opening a portal, Canada was REALLY far away.  So the rail project would take some time.  Laying rail across massive continents takes time, especially to add the boosters and light the track, and build bridges and tunnels where needed.  So I decided to connect the first leg at least, to connect to the “swamp city”.  This was actually the first time I had been back there in ages, and it was just as I remembered.  Small, and not much happening.  I added new building for the train depot, and then spruced it up a bit so that should anyone actually show up there, it wasn’t too bad.

Our lovely lady-friend from WoW joined us on the Minecraft server and we had told her we were working on a new project.  She found the swamp city and thought that was it.  It was not (yes, another post coming on the actual project) and I told her she was to do with that city as she liked.  She started to spruce up the place and to build some defenses because zombies were a problem.  She also filled in more of the boardwalk so that fewer villagers would fall through.  I came by to check out this new improved city, and somewhere along the line, we actually named it.  Because our friend plays a warlock, we named it Warlock City.  It actually made sense.  A temple with a portal to the nether, swampy gross trees, and undead everywhere…Warlock City, it was.  We decided to give Warlock City a purpose, being built on the water and our recent interest in adding boats to cities, we made Warlock City a port town, that also seemed right as it would attract unsavory types.  So without much further chatting, I give you, Warlock City.

The humble beginnings of Warlock City are still present.  Wood houses on boardwalks make up most of the city.  They are fairly small and not much in them.  Below you’ll see the entrance on foot to Warlock City, some of the street views of the city, the Temple, and the farm.  Note that it’s raining.  I swear it rains there more, it’s appropriate.

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You might have noticed the flags and the boat in the background.  I started to tinker with flags back in Stonehaven, and to separate Warlock City from the main Capitol, I gave them different flags in blues, green, and grey.  You see that on the boat from Warlock City too.  A port town of course would not be a port town without a tavern and a hotel.  Bocat built the tavern and though I demanded prostitutes, none of the villagers in there will trade me anything but gems for chicken flesh…perverts.  She always does a nice job decorating, with carpet…and cats.  The first three images below are the tavern, and the last three are the hotel.

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Okay, enough with the buildings.  This is a port town, show us some boats!  I’m on it!  Of course there’s a lighthouse needed as well, I tried to give it it’s own style different from structures we’ve seen in other villages.  And of course, used flames to light the top.  The first boat is that of Warlock City (note the colors), and middle image is of the Viking Ship and behind it one of Stonehaven’s boats.  The Vikings were excited about opening trade…though they brought snow, ice, swords, and human heads in their chests…

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After doing the lighthouse, I was looking about the city and decided that the city needed some sort of military defense.  I decided to build a keep.

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The keep turned out great, and as you can see since the Castle Stonehaven, my building skills have hopefully improved.  There’s a lot of detail on this keep and it kinda also looks like a mansion.  I figure it’s dual purpose.  When building the keep, I noticed that at night, mobs would spawn inside it because I hadn’t gone back to add lights.  So, I didn’t.  The only lights are outside the front gate and inside the prison in the basement.  It turned into a haunted mansion of sorts rather than a keep.  I figure it’s an old military keep that has long since been abandoned to this lawless community.  Below are some pictures of the inside, and the prison.

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Maybe one day, we will reclaim the keep.  Or maybe it will stay a source of vile undead at night.  The Warlock City has made some drastic improvements.  It was not however “our current project”.  We haven’t finished that yet either, and now that I have learned of patch 1.7 and it’s potential release date before the end of the year, I am not sure it will get done.  But there will still be a post on it and there will be a post on the Great Stonehaven Railway too.  And hopefully one last post featuring some of the smaller projects that never finished.  But for now, I’ll leave you with one final picture of Warlock City.  It’s lovely, for a place of villainy.


Norse Village

Yikes! Work had me so busy again that I forgot to do the post about the Norse Village. At the end of the last post, there was a teaser photo of our boreal/tundra village. The bridge that the rails pass over on their way to the village.

The Norse Village was a project long overdue. I had seen some ideas on the internet long ago and finally got around to building the buildings in Minecraft. So I have to admit that the Norse Village is much inspired by what others had made. We just tinkered around and made it kinda our own. So again, here’s the bridge as you enter. The sign in the middle of the bridge indicates that the rail is leading towards the Norse Village as symbolized by the Ice Block sign.


The Norse Village consists of three basic building types and one tower style, though hard to see in these images, you can see the three main types, a standard small two-story house, a larger three-story, and the one level more study utility building, though the last style was also used in some more residential buildings.  These three styles are mimicked around the city with slight variation to shape and size.

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For example, the large barn and the monastery on the hill use the more industrial style (third style) building as noted below.  The barn ended up being a very large building complete with indoor beams to support itself.  Below you’ll find the barn and last the monastery on the hill.  Mixing stone block types as well as the use of fences for details made these buildings require more diverse block types for one structure than any others to this point in the game.

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The last picture above also shows the bridge leading to the monastery at night and the temple in the foreground.  You may have also noticed some of the larger buildings in the background in some of the above pictures.  The second style (that larger three-story structure) because the main model for the larger buildings in town, including the town hall, hotel, and library.  Those because massive works and ended up looking like glorious pieces of work that we were quite proud of!  These goliaths included up to five floors and many dormers and dragon-style roof ornaments of much larger proportion than seen on the smaller buildings.  Again the clever use of fences add much detail to the buildings that give them a really neat feeling.

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That last picture shows the train station in the foreground, that building was the first in the city and set the bar for all the others.  To the right and in the distance you see this villages monument, the large watch tower/lighthouse?  We’re not really sure what it is besides awesome.  The large tower on the water was used as a model for the other towers around town.  They all look beautiful, especially at night.  The detail seen on the buildings is carried even to these more military type buildings.

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You might have noticed something in the background of the night-time tower image.  Yes.  Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, that is indeed a Viking-style ship!  Bocat constructed this beauty one day and it was a complete surprise!!  It looks amazing!  She built that amazing cat temple and then this beautiful ship…I have a feeling we haven’t seen the end of her Minecraft structures!!

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It does look like those zombies love it as much as I do!  Of course we can’t leave you without a peek into some of these structures.  I’ll say this about the Norse Villagers, they certainly are more well read than any of the others!!

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So that’s our Norse Village, it turned out amazing!  Clearly we’re getting better at this as we go along, but then again, we did have some amazing inspiration from the internet.  We’ll leave you with a few parting shots of the overall village to get a feel for it.  We didn’t put a wall around this village like we did with the town of Stonehaven (Castle town) and Little Egypt, the hilly terrain would have made it very difficult, plus we felt it would have ruined the ambiance of the city, which by the way, is amazing when it snows.

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There are a few other surprises about the Norse Village, well the area near it, but we’ll cover those in another post.

The Land of Egypt

The great thing about the Minecraft server vs single player is that you can see your world, Google-map style. With this ability we were able to find great places to build cities. There was a great spot of desert near an Ocean biome that looked great for an Egyptian-themed city on the water. With a crude idea of what the city would look like, the first plaza was layed down and the city started on it’s way to majesty.

First Plaza

This first plaza, pictured above set the tone for the theme of the city.  Use of different types of sandstone and dark spruce wood.  You’ll also notice that in this first plaza we introduced the market canopy.  You’ll see these around different parts of the town.  The first color used was blue.  A few times we’d use them as ways to indicate where you are in the city.  Jungle trees were also planted to look like palms around town.

This city was definitely more about style than function.  It was about making cool looking buildings and there were plans for monuments as well…but before we got to that, we added some temples, a palace, and a windmill to pump water to the farms.  Though it doesn’t move, it did look nice.  It’s probably the wrong style windmill, but we didn’t care.  🙂

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In that last picture you can see how the city spread and how we continued to make use of the market awnings.  You may also notice the pyramid in the background, we’ll get to that.  But with this city, we also took a little more care to decorate.  We gave many of the houses little rooftop gardens or planters and spent time on the insides of the houses as well, noted below.

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After we got the main city down, we started working on some monuments.  Egypt was known for many great works so we couldn’t resist doing our own versions.  Doing a pyramid was a must, below is the outside followed by the inside.  It was a huge base and didn’t extend as high as I thought it might, but looked really great with the beacon of power coming off the top.

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Another one of the great works of Egypt was the Lighthouse of Alexandria.  With some help searching how others tackled this monument, we did our own version.  The lighthouse was build almost entirely by hand, no Creative-Mode, we only jumped to creative near the top to finish-up.  We think it turned out beautifully, set on the island just off the city.


The lighthouse was a beacon for the city and though there were not boats anywhere nearby, nor docks…it served if nothing else as a great way to view the city, especially at night.  While I set to work on adding more houses and expanding the ever-growing city.  Bocat was working on a project of her own.  And if you ask me, it turned out to be one of the coolest things in the city!  I present to you, the cat temple!  Are you surprised?

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The pictures don’t really do justice to this monument.  It’s hard to get a good shot of it to give you an idea.  But you can see above the cat sitting on top and below a reflecting pond.  The eyes light glowing slightly to provide an eerie feeling!  The cat temple caused one last expansion to the city and a larger plaza put in.  Below you’ll see the larger plaza, two pictures of the new storehouse, and the entrance to the city from the west.

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We love how this city looks at night.  It has a very different feel to it than the scorching feeling it gives during the day.  😛  Here’s a shot of the city at night.  As you can see, this city has a different feel to it and we worked a bit more on some fancier buildings and monuments.  A little more detail can go a long way.

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You’ll notice that there are two train tracks running in and out of the station in the lower center of that last picture.  One leads back to Stonehaven (Castle town) and the other leads to a brand new village, something we only recently finished working on!  I’ll leave you with a teaser shot of where that train line leads.  But after one more shot of the Cat Temple with Bocat standing in front, after all she rules over the Land of Egypt and all it’s citizens and allied towns.  She often tries to thwart the King of Stonehaven…but she hasn’t succeeded yet.

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I’m guessing you might figure out what’s coming next…and when I mentioned earlier that a little detail can go a long way…wait until you see what a LOT of detail can do!

Stonehaven 2

Bocat pointed out that in my last post I missed some really cool features of Stonehaven, and since most of you will never log into our server, I better share them!  This first picture if of the diner, it was done entirely by the kid I mentored, he did a great job!


A few of the buildings had underground secrets.  The castle for example has a small prison underneath, there are only three cells and it’s hard to get a good shot, but you can see…the skulls in the corner indicate few ever make it out of prison.


The library has hidden stacks underground for mystical powers of enchanting.  By activating a switch a bookshelf moves and opens to a ladder going to the underground stacks.  The pictures below show the library as normal, with the hidden door opened, and the stacks below.

Library 1 Library 2 Library 3

The Temple of Portals has a portal to the nether underground, but and though there’s no hidden entrance, the stairs leading down are well decorated.

Temple of Portals

Lastly, the King of Stonehaven has been funding a large project to connect the cities of the land.  To better aid transport of persons and goods, a large rail line has been constructed.  Rails are a bit tricky in Minecraft because there aren’t really switch tracks.  So instead A single line is built from one place to the next and train stations allow you to transfer lines if needed.  But right now, the three major cities connect to each other and none is on the way to the other, so no connections are needed.  The train station of Stonehaven was put in after the city walls, so it’s a little smaller and the rails are underground.  The other two cities both have much larger train stations.  We also added signs to indicate where each line goes.  At first we used word signs, but switched to visuals instead, we think they look classier.  The second image has a sign above each track to let you know where you are heading…can you guess??

Stonehaven Train Station Train Signs

The line on the right leads to the second major city on the server.  You may have guessed, it’s Egyptian themed.  We just call it “Egypt” because we haven’t thought of a better name.  Egypt is the domain of Bocat.  She worked hard on some of the major attractions of Egypt!  We’ll focus on that on another post…but as a teaser, here’s Egypt as you come in on the rail.

Egypt Entrance




As mentioned in the previous post, Bocat and I play Minecraft from time to time and we have this small 4-person server we play on.  Minecraft is a glorious game that allows you to create your own world, while still adding in some elements of it’s own (zombies!!).  I’d like to take you on a little tour of our server.  We’ll start in Stonehaven, this was the first settlement.  We found a village and added to it in a Medieval style fashion, mostly in houses to increase the number of villagers, but we also added some functional/purpose buildings but instead of telling you about the city, I will show you…

Stonehaven was the first of three cities that we currently have on the server.  The lack of detail on the buildings allowed them to be constructed fast and cheap and the city grew rapidly.  Here’s a picture of one of the first street up to the water well which was there when we arrived.


As the city grew, some buildings were added to have a function…like the museum, church, library and bank!

Museum Inside Church Library Bank Inside

Those were all sort of cosmetic buildings…I mean you don’t really need a bank in a game without money.  Some buildings actually had function around town.  There was the automatic chicken egg collector, the main storehouse to keep things organized, the stables, the rainbow wool emporium, and the crops!

Chicken Storage House Stables Sheep Emporium Agriculture

The main attraction in Stonehaven is the Castle.  It is the largest building in Stonehaven and was a major undertaking.  There was actual planning versus just laying down some bricks and seeing what happens.  It turned out very nice…here are some pictures of the entire castle, the courtyard, master bedroom, and the castle den.  There are other rooms as well, a throne room, dining hall, and a bedroom with a balcony.

Castle Castle 1 Castle 3 Castle 2

Stonehaven is not architectural or detailed beauty.  But it was out first city.  The others start to really bring a little more to the table.  We’ll visit the other cities soon.  I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the city at night.  This is what Bocat and I work on when we aren’t killing Vermen.

Stonehaven at Night

Oh!  And guess who’s house this is!??!

Bocat House