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IntPiPoMo 2012: Photobombs

With a companion following you around at all times in game, of course this is going to happen:

Does This Mean I’m Vain?

Real life = Crazy. Nuff said.

Moving on… I have switched from using Tharan to do dailies with to using Nadia. The main reason is because I am keeping Tharan out running slicing missions constantly trying to gather pretty purple sliced tech parts. I figure he’s likely happier running around the galaxy with his beloved Holiday instead of following me around all day anyway. So Nadia got promoted; but before I could allow myself to be seen in public with her once again, I had to give her a makeover. I was not a fan of original Nadia at all – she looked like an emo teenager to me. Unfortunately, one of the things I hated about her most was the blue tattoos smeared across her face and it turns out you cannot have a Nadia without blue face tattoos. Bummer. Not that I have an issue with face tattoos, I just like them to be a little more subtle. I finally decided to go with the customization that managed to cover her face a bit and give her hair the same color as mine. Because my hair is awesome.

Then I dressed her in a shirt that matches mine.

Is that weird? 😛

Keeping The Minions Busy

Before patch 1.3 went live, my minions didn’t really receive much love. Tharan was allowed to follow me around and heal me through dailies, but aside from occasional slicing missions and making a few stims to put in the gbank for raiders, the rest of these guys rarely saw any action. Well, actually Lt. Iresso saw some major action for a while there (of the BSOCK variety, if you know what I mean – wink, wink) and I managed to hit 10,000 with him, but the rest of my companions remained way below that number. Tharan came in second simply because as my only healer he spent plenty of time observing cut scenes during dailies and even though he gave me the -1 of shame most of the time, after all of our time together he was around the 7,000 mark. Qyzen was around 4,500, Nadia was around 4,000, Zenith was only at 2,000 and CN2 was at 0. Yep, I pretty much did that all wrong.

Obviously Lt. Iresso got to max affection because I was very interested in the romance storyline and wanted to see it through to it’s conclusion. But the rest of them were just basically ignored because… well, because I’m an idiot I guess. I knew in the back of my mind higher affection somehow affected crew skills, but since I wasn’t a serious crafter I didn’t really spend much time worrying about it. I suppose I’m technically a lazy gamer. I love to be logged in and playing and I follow a lot of SWTOR blogs, but I don’t REALLY pay attention to learning the things I should probably learn about the game. I skim blog posts, read headlines about patch notes, etc. Aside from not loving a weekend raiding schedule, this laziness for learning is a big part of why I don’t have a history of raiding in other games. I have never felt like spending an hour or two a week studying for a game I’m playing for the purpose of fun and relaxation. For the record, since I am now committed to raiding, I always make sure to read any boss fight strategies the raid leader directs us to in preparation for our next adventure. Luckily, that doesn’t happen a lot or I’m afraid I would get lazy with it too. I wish I knew what caused this behavior, because it’s not the way I am with other things in life.

Anyway, back to why my companions all look so intensely hard at work in the screenshot above, I have finally FINALLY realized the error of my ways. Since the patch dropped (sadly if I had paid more attention to blog posts and patch notes I would have started working on this weeks ago) I have been trying my damnedest to help the guild out with getting everyone all augmented up. I started making and RE’ing level 49 green implants with my biochem for the purpose of stocking the bank with Augmentation Slot Component MK-6 for the serious crafters in our guild to use in making Augmentation kits. That’s been pretty easy since the bioanalysis mats needed can be farmed on Ilum and gotten with rank 5 biochem missions. But I’ve also been sending out 2 companions on level 6 tech part slicing missions non stop in an effort to get the purple Advanced Neural Augmentor items needed to make augments. After having such a crappy return rate on actually getting the purple items I googled it enough to learn they are only returned when the mission crits. And is there any way to increase the chances a mission will crit? Why yes there is, Kristalys, you idiot. If you have your companion’s affection level maxed out it totally increases your chances of mission crits.

So guess who spent an outrageous amount of credits yesterday buying companion gifts and running back and forth to my ship to have companion conversations. Ugh. I hate spending money in big chunks like that. How nice would it have been to have slowly built up their affection over the past 6 months like smart players had already done. You live and you learn, I suppose. I certainly will pay more attention to this with my alts. Of course, I just couldn’t make myself spend all my money in 1 day so I don’t have them all maxed out yet. I did get Tharan up to 10k and Nadia and Zenith are both over 8k each now. Qyzen has been ignored for now since he’s my main bioanalysis monkey and the level 5 mats I need don’t require crit. But I’ll start working on him and CN2 as soon as I top off Nadia and Zenith and build some money back up.

So yeah, lesson learned; a happy minion is a more effective minion. And I’m an idiot.

How SWTOR Has Completely Changed My Play Style

I do not have a long history of multiple pc games and MMO’s. I do, however, have a fairly long history of playing WoW. I always played a healer and I always loved it. I leveled my main character as a healer the entire way. It took me forever to kill things cause I’d whack them a few times and then have to heal myself once or twice before whacking them again; but I loved it. Although I was never a raider in WoW, I did enjoy healing my guildies through dungeons and the occasional farm nights and alt nights when things weren’t too serious. I will admit after Cataclysm launched and heroics were so brutal, I let the constant “blame the healer” attitude that began running rampant in-game shatter my confidence. I started to become disenchanted with healing a bit. I pretty much stopped running dungeons and the ones I did run, I ran as dps spec. But I never really embraced being dps, so I just concentrated on dailies and achievements and started working on alts a bit more. Alts that were healers. I truly enjoyed being self-sufficient as I leveled.

Cut to SWTOR where I knew going in (thanks to joining a guild pre-game) that I was going to be a serious business raider. I studied the races and classes and I knew there were already several members of my guild who WOULD be healers as they had been raiding healers in previous games. So I became interested in giving ranged dps a go on the Jedi Consular. When I got a chance to play in the beta, I rolled a Sith Inquisitor and specced her as ranged dps (because it was similar to the Consular but didn’t spoil my story before diving into the game for real). I loved it. I was confident I had made the right decision as far as what my main, raiding character would be. However, I did truly want to have at least one alt who was a dedicated healer. After all, I really enjoyed doing that.

Except apparently I don’t enjoy doing that any longer. Because the story lines in SWTOR are so engrossing and because I was determined to get raid ready as quickly as possible and then stay raid ready at all times, I only recently began putting serious work into some alting. The first one I spent time with was a Trooper who proudly chose to be a healer at level 10. It didn’t take me long to realize I didn’t love healing with the trooper. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something just didn’t feel right about it. I wondered if it was because troopers heal with gadgets and aren’t as hands-on (or maybe i mean hands flailing about casting spells) as I was used to in the past. I stuck with it for a few levels, but I was so unimpressed with it that I didn’t spend much time on her and leveling slowed way down. After a few weeks, I reset her trees and went with a dps spec instead.

Still determined to play a healer, I next rolled a Sith Inquisitor in my guilds part-time “let’s go be evil” guild. I knew the Inquisitor would be the type to cast heals (flail hands) instead of launching mechanical healing globes like the trooper did. But again, once I got there and started doing it, I didn’t like it. I was sort of disappointed, but then not really. Because I LOVE my main character and I don’t NEED to have alts that can heal. I was only disappointed in theory, if that makes any sense. But I did scratch my head and wonder why I no longer wanted to heal. And I think I have finally figured it out. It’s the companion. I love the companions in this game and on my main character, as I’m throwing everything I’ve got at a bad guy, it’s awesome to have someone beside me either patching me up, or kicking the guy in the shins along with me. It’s still me kicking the guys ass, they’re just helping out. But on both the characters I tried healing on, I felt the exact opposite. I felt like I was just helping them out. I felt useless. I just stood there and occasionally tossed a few heals while my companion did all the work. So I started throwing some dps in there and then I got to where I was so busy trying to bust out as much dps as possible, I wasn’t watching my companions health.

So apparently, healing a two person group (1 1/2 really because my tanking companions kept aggro completely off of me for the most part) is just not that damn exciting to me. And throwing rocks is TOTALLY exciting to me. So now all my alts are switched back to dps and for now, I have no desire to heal anything. I think that desire may be completely gone. However, I will say that to give it a fair shot I will likely try switching back to heals once I get an alt to max level and see if I enjoy it more when I have more heals to choose from and when I can run in groups and have more responsibility. Or maybe I won’t.

Friday Link Love – Where To Go For All The Info

Patch 1.2 was a big deal. Like, a REALLY big deal. It included so many things and made so many changes, I’m still discovering stuff. I would like to announce that I have sat down and taken the time to completely analyze every little detail of the patch and can easily explain it all to you.

I would like to announce that, but it would be a lie.

Luckily, you don’t need to wait for me to do so because a) it’s never going to happen and b) it’s already been done. There are some amazing posts out there that can help you, me, and everyone else understand some of the most important things the patch has given us and how they work. I highly recommend everyone check out the following links:

Legacy and Companions from Psynister.
“Today I wanted to talk just a little bit more about companions and how they relate to the Legacy system. I’ll start off by going over what perks exist in the Legacy system for companions and why you would want to unlock them, then we’ll get into how and when you unlock those perks.
I’m also going to talk about companion gifts and how they relate to each of the companions in the game as well as methods you can use to maximize your affection with your companions outside of companion gifts.”

Companion Gifts and Crafting Bonuses for 1.2 from Dulfy
“Hey everyone, with patch 1.2, you can finally gain affection with your annoying ship droid and make him get better at certain crafting skills. I thought this would be a good time to update all the previous companion gift information and add in all the crafting bonuses in one page.”

Reverse Engineering, Fashion, and Set Bonuses After 1.2 by Njessi
“…I’m editing as I find out new things..” – it’s true, she’s totally editing and updating this post continually.

SWTOR Patch 1.2 FAQ’s from Anexxia
“With a Patch as extensive as 1.2 it’s no wonder there are a lot of questions cropping up right out of the starting gate. I’ve started off with the ones I’m hearing most often. Have a question not answered here? Or keep having to answer the same question over and over for guildies? Leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to the FAQs!”

Legacy Unlock: Ship Repair Droid by Blackferne at Church of Alvis
“With the Legacy system unrolling with 1.2 there are plenty of perks that people can now get. These range from social emotes to unarmed combat attacks to items you can get for your ship. As I’ve been working hard on crafting as of late I decided to get the ship repair droid.”

Patch 1.2 Flashpoint and Mini-Pet Guides from Mikro at SWTOR Life
“As part of our coverage of the newly released Legacy Patch 1.2 we have compiled two high quality guides that are a must read for any Star Wars: The Old republic player.”

Pretty awesome stuff, right? And there are probably even more pretty awesome links related to patch 1.2 that I haven’t even discovered yet. So pay attention, cause I’m getting ready to pass out some orders. First, seriously go read these amazingly helpful things I have posted above and leave some love and appreciation in the comments section for these blogs. Second, if you know of any other awesome articles about this subject that I haven’t yet discovered, link them here in the comments of this post so I can bring attention to them too.

And remember, the force is with you … always.

Big News! I Did NOT Hit Level 50

Today is Tuesday,  just in case you didn’t know, which means yesterday was Monday. Logic. I haz it.  Normally I try to put up a post every Monday as a way of officially returning to the weekly business of being a blogger. I rarely plan my posts in advance (and it shows) but towards the end of last week as I made good progress in my leveling, I did begin to put together a plan for what I wanted to post yesterday. By the time I had logged off Wednesday night, I had hit level 46 and since I had a 3 day weekend ahead of me I was convinced I would make it to 50 before the weekend was out.

Unfortunately, by Saturday evening I had ran out of rested xp and leveling was going pretty slow. I was almost through level 48 at that time. So I parked Kristalys in a cantina and logged off for the night. Sunday morning I started in again and did make into level 49 but then ran out of rested xp again. I tried to keep going, but it just was not worth it. I parked her again and haven’t logged back into her yet. I’m disappointed but at the same time, I’m excited to be so close and I know I’ll hit 50 the next time I get a chance to login and spend some time with her. Which should be tomorrow night.

In the meantime, I decided I’d spend some time working on the Trooper alt I am going to be leveling up as a healer. The last time I had played her I had just completed the quests on Ord Mantell and had gotten my first companion and was told to move on and venture into the rest of the world. So when I logged in on her this weekend, the first thing I needed to do was go the fleet. As soon as I got there, I got the pop-up that I could choose a free customization package for Aric Jorgan. Because red is my favorite color, I chose the Urban customization package. You can imagine my surprise when I opened it and slapped it on him only to discover that his pants were blue and not red. Yep, somehow the customization got screwed up. I received the Urban jacket and Urban boots but got the Scout pants instead of the Urban pants. I realize it’s not a huge deal, technically, but it just looks so damn tacky. I guess I’m going to open a ticket on it and see if they can get me the right pair of pants. I’ve not heard good things about customer support, so I will let you know how it goes.

There Are 3 Things About This Screenshot You Should Know…

1. Qyzen Fess looks awesome wearing a cool heavy armor cape and sporting the Qyzen Customization 1 kit sold at the security key vendor for 12k credits. It not only gives him yellow skin, it gives him his right eye back. BONUS!

2. I think I’ve found an outfit I’m happy with and will likely keep for a long time. The gloves have the same bluish color on them that matches the shirt and then everything has the brown that ties in with the skirt. There’s no stupid hoods covering my face or weird neck-roll collars. I like it. I LOOK GOOD DAMMIT!

3. Ambassador Jennik has a huge bubble ass and is apparently busy trying to admire it.

click to embiggen

I Love My Companions, But Are They Good For Me?

(Quick Update: In honor of the always derptastic philosophy I follow of post first, research shit later, I did find this thread on the SWTOR forums just this morning that has actually been very helpful. Jedi Sage – Balance vs Telekinetic)

First off, let me start by clarifying I am speaking only in relation to ME and MY companions and how they may or may not be affecting MY gameplay. This is not an observation about Bioware, other people and their companions, or companions in general. What I am having an issue with, basically, is me. Allow me to explain.

Quick Background

The Old Republic is only the second MMO I’ve ever played a minute of; World of Warcraft was my first. As a resto druid healer, I had it pretty easy when running content. For one thing, I really only ran causal raids on farm night or alt night. For another, because I just followed along at the back of the pack and mostly stood farther away from the boss than anyone else, I didn’t have to pay as much attention to the raid leader’s instructions about which off-tank should grab what add or where the pools of fire around the boss are that the melee dps need to watch for. All I really needed to know was who was tanking and whether I was going to be healing the tank or healing the raid. Then when the fight started I healed by clicking on Healbot or Vuhdo (I have a history with both). For the most part, I didn’t have to focus a target, I didn’t have to watch for interrupts. Other than a bit of moving with w,a,s,d I didn’t really have to touch the keyboard too much. I have a 5 button mouse and had my healing add-on setup to throw about 10 different spells as long as I used a modifier key.

I’ll be honest, this basically made me lazy. When my friends started advancing towards serious raiding, I let them pass me by because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to contribute the way they would need me to contribute. I felt that way because I knew I had been lazy and I didn’t “know” my class all that well, I just happened to know how to use my mouse to spam wild growth and rejuv. I tried to correct this by rolling a new Worgen druid and leveling her up so that I could pay closer attention to the details. But there was some unfortunate drama going on around that time and I just never put my heart into it after that. Oh woe is me.

So now you know I am a fail WoW player. But I’m in a new game and I can be a new player. I am now determined to be a serious raider and I’ve switched my main role from heals to caster dps. There are no add-ons to lean on and make me lazy. It’s all on me. I HAVE to actually learn my class and know exactly what spell to throw and why I’m throwing it.

My Issue

Here I am in a new game, putting on my serious face and trying my hardest to remain focused and informed. Reading guides, blog posts, forums and any other resource necessary to try and gain some insight into how to play my Jedi Consular to her greatest potential. Unfortunately, information is limited since all of us are equally new. But there is information out there and I’m soaking it all in. Or at least I think I am. I hope I am. I’m reading it, there’s that.

What I’m starting to realize about myself is that having a companion there to tank for me (or heal, as the case may be) isn’t really helping me learn how to maximize my dps. I mean, I am not solely responsible for how a mob dies so how do I know if I’m killing him the most efficient way? Even if I put Qyzen away and have Tharan follow me around to heal me I’m still cheating. I don’t have to be as aware of standing in the fire because Tharan’s there to heal me. And not only is he healing me, he’s also dps’ing with his blaster and he’s got his holowhore dancing in front of the mob and helping me out with a stun. WHAT AM I LEARNING HERE? This is why I said in the intro that the issue is me; because this companion system is pure genius as far as helping you level. And don’t get me started on the crew skills thing. BRILLIANT!

But with no type of combat meter or combat log (which are supposedly coming at some point) I have no way of knowing if I’m doing okay or not. I am not a theorycrafter and in fact, math generally gives me a headache and causes me to lose interest completely, so I usually try to avoid it if at all possible. Not all nerds are math nerds, who knew?

What I do know is that there are fights with elites that I sometimes wipe on 3 or 4 times. And I’m panicked that indicates a problem. To make matters worse, I got so frustrated this weekend with an elite fight that I noticed myself just simply button-mashing by my 3rd attempt. WTF? How am I going to raid with people that I actually care about if I’m a button-masher? I do have a rotation of sorts that I use consistently, though I have no way of knowing if it’s the best rotation. Based on my personal understanding of my spells and talent points, I think it is. But after becoming frustrated with wiping, I apparently threw my rotation right out the window and that’s something I cannot afford to make a habit. Yes, change my rotation if it’s not working. Tweak it and move spells around here and there to improve. But start button-mashing? NOOOOOOOooooooo.

So The Question Is…

The question is: Is having a companion do a chunk of the work for me impacting how effective I will be when raiding? I’m in a guild with experienced raiders who made solid progression in WoW. They aren’t elitist jerks and I’m not scared of them, but that doesn’t mean I expect them to keep me around if I’m not pulling my weight. This is just as serious to me as it is to them.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying companions are bad for the game or detrimental to raiding in any way. I’m not even saying they’re detrimental to me. I’m saying I need to figure out a way to make sure I’m doing all the damage I should be doing. To make matters worse, I’m caught up in the “trying to get to level 50” mentality. Several guildies have passed me in leveling and the ones that haven’t are very close to me AND have alts that are a decent level too. I have to put that aside and concentrate on not letting myself rush through just because I feel competitive. There’s no point in getting to level cap if I’m doing everything wrong while there.

A Possible Solution?

I’ve been thinking (worrying) about this for quite some time and I’ve finally decided it’s time for less thinking and more action. This week I’m going to spend some time backtracking a level or two and attacking some elites without using a companion. If I die I’ll try to switch my rotation up a bit and see what the difference is. It’s a rudimentary way of going about it, but I can’t think of any better solution. If I find that I am able to beat them without too much trouble, I’ll find an elite the next level up and try it again.

I’m curious if anyone else out there has these same type of concerns. I am also more than willing to take advice on how to prevent button-mashing and to learn of any tricks of the trade that will help me find the best rotation for me and maximize my dps. I am currently a level 44 Jedi Consular Sage following the Balance tree. Like an idiot, I am writing this post away from the pc I play SWTOR on and I forgot to capture a screenshot of my current talents. I believe the image below is an accurate recreation though. Just during the process of recreating it online, I can already see where a few points might be wasted. I will definitely be working on resetting my tree this week.

If you’re choosing the Balance tree like I am, let me know how your points compare to mine and why you chose them. I would also love to know what rotation you generally use so I can see how it compares to mine. I am open to criticism. I need to get this right. I realize I need to play my character according to my style and what I’m comfortable with; I don’t want someone to hand me a cookie-cutter build and do all the work for me. But I welcome any feedback.

Beyond Companion Gifts: What Did I Say Wrong?

**Possible Spoiler Warning: While I don’t give any spoilers away in this post directly, there may be a small potential for spoilers concerning companions if you follow the link to the companion guides I am discussing below.

In every video game I’ve ever played that had a monetary system of sorts, I’ve always been greedy. In Grand Theft Auto I spent the majority of my time running through the streets on foot and punching strippers and drug dealers until they dropped all their cash instead of racing motorcycles through the streets of the city and outrunning the po-po. In World of Warcraft, I spent the majority of my time farming herbs and playing the auction house instead of running randoms and grinding rep. It’s all about the benjamins.

You can imagine my dismay when I was spending credits in SWTOR on companion gifts and wasn’t gaining any affection with my companions from some of the gifts. That was like a double whammy. For one, I was wasting money by buying gifts they didn’t like and for another I need to gain affection with them because it directly affects their crafting skills which will in turn make me more money. Which means that while I may be taking a gamble with my morality choices, when it comes to my companion’s affection I wanna do it right. I broke down and googled a list of what gifts work best for what companions. And I’m happy I did, you shut your mouth.

I pinned my list of approved companion gifts on the little bulletin board / whiteboard combo that hangs on the wall next to my desk (yep, complete dork) and I stopped spending money on companion gifts that weren’t right for my guys. Problem solved. Well, sorta. I may have streamlined the companion gift process, but I still found myself earning the occasional negative affection points in my story line. I would save a bunch of people, free some prisoners, etc. and when I ran back to town and finished the cut scene to complete a quest, I’d get the -1 of shame. Or actually, with Qyzen it seems to be -15 more often than anything. And this would happen even when I chose very obvious lightside answers.

So are my companions evil? Do they have some sort of personal grudge against me? It just didn’t make any sense how choosing to save children and help victims made Qyzen so unhappy. So I did an even more extensive google search and looked through pages of companion gift guides until I found some information that went a little bit above and beyond. Companion likes and dislikes. As in, so and so doesn’t like unnecessary violence and so and so does like it when you’re funny.

Now I will say that finding this information won’t necessarily change the way I answer in cut scenes, because for me the bigger picture is my morality alignment. If I disappoint a companion with my conversation, I’ll just have to buy him an extra gift or two to make up for it. But it is at least nice to know WHY he didn’t approve instead of it being a total mystery. So where did I find this information? Well, I found it here at There is a guide for each class and as far as I can tell, the companions are listed in order of when you get them (i think), so if you wanna avoid spoilers about future companions, just don’t scroll down past your current one.

Where did the author of these companion guides find this information? I have no idea. Which means there’s no guarantee how accurate it is. All I know is the information for what my companion likes and dislikes appears to match what I’ve noticed in-game. If you are dealing with the same type of negative affection points during conversations and would like to know what you said wrong, I would recommend you check out the appropriate companion guide from the above link for your class to help you figure it out.

1 Week In And My Companion’s Getting Lazy

So far I have been really good at gaining affection points with my main (at this point) companion Qyzen Fess. I have figured out what companion gifts he prefers and I have learned how he likes the quest dialogue to go so I can gain points with him that way. Every once in a while I’ll get the -1 of shame from him (he doesn’t like me asking for more details about the quest… I guess it wastes his time?), but for the most part we get along just fine and dandy. Until last night when he began showing me a bit of attitude. I first noticed there may be a problem when he started walking slowly behind me instead of running along at the same speed as me. I mean, he was really dragging ass. There were times I would turn around and he’d just be barely be in view. And even though he could see me having to stop and wait for him, he never sped up at all. Just stared me right in the eye as he slowly shuffled towards me.

Then it got to where when I attacked a mob, he would just stand there and watch for a good 10 seconds before finally deciding maybe he’d help me fight. I started out thinking maybe he was just having an off day. Could be he’s just overly tired. I mean, we do spend every night in a cantina; too much drinking and dancing is bound to make anyone sluggish. But then, when I found an archaeology node and asked him to retrieve it for me, I realized he wasn’t just tired… he’s being downright lazy. I ran down a small hill to stand by the crystals and he stayed at the top of the hill and tried to scan the node from there. It didn’t work, he was too far away. But did he move closer? NO. He stood in the same damn spot and just tried to scan it again. And again. And again. I was beginning to think I was going to have to actually bend down and get that shit myself. Not wanting things to get to such drastic measures, I moved past the node, hoping he would move forward with me because he normally likes to be near me. Nope. Lazy bastard didn’t budge. So I move WAAAY forward. Guess who’s still standing at the top of that same damn hill just continuously scanning and being unsuccessful? Yep, my good buddy Qyzen. I got so frustrated, I sent him away on a treasure hunting mission and finally picked up the damn crystal myself.

Cut to 30 minutes later. He seemed to come back from his treasure hunting mission in a much better mood. He was keeping up with me as we made our way around Taris and he was more energetic when helping me fight. So imagine my chagrin when I came across another archaeology node hidden behind a wall and went gleefully running up to it and asked him to hoist it off the ground for me, only to realize he wasn’t standing anywhere near me. And this time he wasn’t even trying to pretend he was interested in scanning the node for me. I sure hope he gets a full night’s rest tonight because if we have this type of communication problem tomorrow, I’m taking him back to the ship and exiling him to his cabin. That boy will be so grounded.