Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Quick Hits: Casually Hardcore

CASUALLY HARDCORE - Your mission, should you choose to accept it...
15th March, 2009

Okay... starts up with an original song/jingle for the show and WC Radio. Good, self-branding is always a positive. Then comes the disclaimer bit about the WoW Radio network, and each of the four co-hosts takes a line while reading. I think it's supposed to show some sort of common agreement like an equal among peers thing but it sounds lame. Would be better done quickly rather than a big production for my tastes. I don't actually want to listen to that sort of audio spam so if it was non-intrusive I probabaly wouldn't even have mentioned it.

Then comes the absurd intro song "Who Needs Sleep" by Barenaked Ladies which apparently was a hit in the U.S. when I was 7 years old back in 1998. Hopefully there's some personal significance to the song and not that it's the best WoW tie-in song they could find these last 11 years - you know, playing a lot of WoW you might miss some sleep. Get it? Get it??

This is the sort of podcast where if someone says anything close to funny or interesting they all go "Wow... hey, hey, hey, family show," and laugh like that's supposed to be funny in itself just like people who laugh when they say "tell us how you really feel," after their friend has expressed frustration or negativity about something. I then sit there wondering if I'm the lame for not getting the hysterical joke or if it's them for thinking what they said was funny... and after that confusion I realize I've stuck in and listened for and hour and half so the answer could only be me.

They do have a nice rhythm to the show and I think Casually Hardcore makes the best use of "drops" in the WoW podcast community (which is saying a lot). As I've been advised by my older colleagues any podcast throwing in an Animal House drop can almost make up for using an 11-year old theme song.

For my tastes, the dynamic of the show has been a little weird since Gwenora has come back despite their best efforts to accomodate. It seems like Grail has become the Gwen B.S. detector and is quick to jump in when Gwen is talking out his buttocks although that didn't happen much on this particular show. It was very funny though on this episode if you're a long time listener like me that Gwen was the first one to say "I love you, you're pretty," to Iolyte rather than Gnomewise.

After 10 minutes though everything pretty much settled down. Grail had an extremely interesting comment that tanking has become the easiest aspect of the game since Wrath hit and that was around the 17-minute mark. He also said he ran into a Naxx PUG that said if you're under 1,500 DPS you can still join but you can't roll on loot which is awesome to me as someone who now considers himself a casual.

Half hour point, first music break. They then went into a long discussion about something Totalbiscuit brought up a couple of weeks ago and that is whether or not casuals still exist. The way the CH crew brought up the subject was wondering aloud if they should change their mission statement considering they are now raiding. Listen closely around the 55 minute mark for what sounds like completely faked and almost mocking laughter from Gnomewise after Grail tells a story.

But I'm telling you this show is worth it! Around the 1:02:45 mark Gnomewise lets known that an item is coming in Patch 3.1 that you can put down and use to destroy someone else's toy train when they are annoying you in Auction Houses (or other enclosed areas where you are prisoner to the annoyance of "chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-woo-hoo"). Excellent news and certainly the first any of us have heard of it anywhere.

The last part of the show was listener feedback/email and this is always hit or miss of course depending on the submissions. When they aren't shout outs the gang does a better job than most about branching the questions off into other directions so you'll probably glean something no matter your experience level.

Summary: Solid show all the way through, complete with high and low points. Don't like infighting but don't know if I'm reading too much into things on that front. They have a good time with their own in-jokes and their own loyal audience but it's not for everyone. I could see younger casual listeners going for Outlandish or even Yet Another World of Warcraft Podcast before Casually Hardcore.


  1. Good review Toothy and fairly good summation of what Casually Hardcore is typically about.

    I have to agree with you about the beginning of the show; it's always bothered me. Not only the content but also the noticeable drop in sound quality compared to the rest of the show. The song "Who Needs Sleep" sounds like it was recorded on an audio cassette player held up to a TV 11 years ago. (you remember? like how you used to grab songs when you were a kid? LOL)

  2. I really do look forward to listening to Casually Hardcore every week. However, both Gwen and Io often detract from the overall quality. Io's constant giggles about something going on in-game and her reading off an endless list of names during the shout out section... ugh. I was pleased to hear someone (Gnomewise?) mutter in the background "just names" when she was reading them off this week. I swear that cut the shout outs down to half.

    I actually like the theme song, and I agree with Toothy that CH has some of the best use of drops in the WoW podcast community.

  3. One thing to remember is that we like all of these shows or else we wouldn't listen at all. The critiques are meant to just be one-offs on one episode so I hope everyone gives Casually Hardcore (and all of the shows we write about) a good long listen to judge for themselves. If you asked the five of us we'd all have different opinions on this episode.

  4. crashedyellow I think you're going a little far about Gwen and Io.

    Something I failed to mention (and maybe Jim you can add this) is that Casually Hardcore is the sort of show where once you build a "relationship," (eg. you've listened to three or four shows) all of the faults basically vanish and you enjoy the show for what it is. I tried to review it as someone coming in having never heard it before. Maybe I was the wrong person for this. If Pete had drawn this show you would have seen a love sonnet devoted to them (seriously).

  5. In my opinion the humor on CH is very much love-or hate. Either you laugh along or you roll your eyes. I think that four hosts is a bit too much, and I enjoyed it quite a bit more when there were only 3.

    That said, I do enjoy CH on a weekly basis =)

  6. I agree about the "audio spam", not only at the beginning of the several WoWradio shows. I'm a listener of pretty much every WoWradio show and I find myself skipping like 5 minutes of every podcast to avoid hearing the host's "spiel" (IRC info, etc). I guess you have to take into consideration that there are always new listeners who didnt hear it yet but for most reguulars it's pretty annoying yeah ;)