Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Powerteching Ain’t For Everyone

As previously mentioned, I have been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic since around the launch of 3.0. One of my earliest characters was Phaestus, named after the Greek god Hephaestus (god of fire and the forge), a Powertech (specifically a Pyrotech).

Somewhere along the way, Pyrotech has suffered in the performance department. I can’t really figure out where, and I have gone through all the patch notes with a fine tooth comb and found no major nerfs during 3.0 and 4.0 . I can only assume that Pyrotech has simply not kept pace with other classes’ buffs. Certainly the forums and uploaded dummy parse data have indicated a comparative drop in performance.

Mindful of this and the old adage that burst beats DOT for levelling and all single player content, I switched to Advanced Prototype. Despite the improved performance, I found it extremely boring to play and slowly lost interest in poor Phaestus.

Patch 5.3 has changed all that with some very respectable buffs which make Pyrotech a contender once again. I switched Phaestus back to Pyrotech and have once again been having great fun with him! What does it say about me that I thoroughly enjoy the notion of playing a lunatic who just wants to watch the galaxy burn?  Maybe it’s just because my country is currently experiencing one of the coldest winters I can remember. People are complicated.

I remember thinking, when I first created him, that Flaming Fist sounded really cool (not like that! You know what I mean). Engaging the flame thrower and the jetpack simultaneously? That is some twisted brilliance!

I suspect that this taps into our primal fears as a species. There seems to be a psychological correlation between this and the notion of being the one to wield a terrifying power, rather than have it wielded on oneself. Of course, there is a third option, but fear also often prevents us from making use of the high road (“we can’t stop… because what if they don’t?”). This also explains every arms race ever.

Consider this thought process: “our enemies are going to develop these weapons, so we need to develop better versions and pray the threat of us using a superior version prevents them from using their version”. Mutually Assured Destruction, which conveniently acronyms to MAD (in case anyone was wondering what the technical term for an arms race was).

While the basic concept of a flamethrower has been around for centuries, first being deployed by the Chinese in the form of Pen Huo Qi (translated roughly as “spray fire device”). The first modern man-portable flamethrower was invented in 1901 by the German scientist, Richard Fiedler, who named the device “flammenwerfer”, in his native German. This gave us our English loan-word translation of flamethrower. I am not sure how accurate that translation is, although Google Translate supports it. I would enjoy hearing comments from a native German speaker as to its veracity. I am fascinated by language and etymology. The word werf, for example, also exists in Dutch. Although the meaning there is Shipyard or simply Yard, which gave another local language in my country, Afrikaans, the word werf, which refers to yard (as in garden). This version of the word has also been appropriated into the English language as Wharf, which is obviously related to the root meaning of shipyard.

Back to flamethrowers. Fiedler’s invention benefited from some improvement and collaboration from another German, Bernhard Reddeman (who was an officer in the German Army and interestingly a firefighter; also, after the war he wrote a book on the flamethrower’s history).

The flamethrower saw its first modern use in 1915 at Verdun. After having flamethrowers used against them, the Allies quickly developed the technology for their own use, finding extensive use for them in the Pacific Theatre of World War II. They continued to be used until the 1970s in Korea and Vietnam. The US Department of Defense stopped their use in 1978. Then, in 1980, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (signed in Geneva) placed restrictions on their use. They have since mostly fallen out of favor with many armed forces around the world (although other incendiary weapons continue to be used, albeit with more of an awareness of their negative public image).

Contrary to popular belief, however, the use of flamethrowers is not technically banned, except against civilian targets. In many parts of the world they are not even restricted for private use (though some territories require a license).

So, that topic got away from me a little… just further reinforcement, I suppose, of the blog’s title: Jerzy’s Journeys.

In closing, I wanted to apologise to those reading this blog (all three of you ;) ) for my inconsistent posting schedule. I have been struggling with some personal issues lately and I am also wrestling with finding the blog’s direction. These issues are probably related to me being new at this and will hopefully resolve themselves going forward. However, if you are reading this, any feedback would be appreciated. Constructive, thoughtful, criticism is always appreciated!


  1. As a native German speaker I can confirm that flamethrower is an accurate literal translation.

    And don't feel too pressured to write; it's your blog! But I'm sure you have interesting things to say. ;)

    1. Thanks. I know it's been a while. I had some health issues, but I am back with a new post!

  2. That's an interesting history... I never really thought of its actual use in the real world.

    As for blogging regularly, seconding Shintar on that one. Easier said than done (I often wish I had the energy to publish everything I'm wanting to write), but if you don't feel pressured you will enjoy it a lot more. :)

    1. Thank you for your comments. Although I didn't reply, I did read and appreciate. I've been away for a while, but I am back now. My new post has a bit more detail, if you are interested.


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