Revising Memory

Of Pedestals

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For quite a while I have held the Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft on a bit of a pedestal.  That was the last time I was truly and completely devoted to the game, and is the point where I for better or worse thought the game took a sharp detour.  It was shortly after the launch of the next expansion Cataclysm that I began this on again off again tourism with the game.  So this year when the talk of “Vanilla” servers came up, I thought to myself that I had no desire to ever return to the launch of the game…  but Wrath of the Lich King most definitely.  It felt like the right mix of progress and promise wrapped up into an extremely playable package with awesome lore events and truly phenomenal raids.  Sure there was the shit storm that was the Crusaders Colosseum, but for the time being we are going to forget that was even a thing.  Yes I realized that it served a key story arc, but as a raid goes it was thoroughly disappointing after Ulduar.  I can also remember really enjoying the questing in Wrath of the Lich King and some of those zones are ones that I still count among my favorite in the game.  That was until I recently returned while leveling my Warlock.  In part the distinction was made clear after recently leveling both my Rogue and Druid to 100 in the Warlords of Draenor quest content, then dropping down to my level 75 Warlock and attempting to push him up into the Cataclysm zones.

The key problem I noticed was the fact that content rarely synchronized terribly well.  In the later expansions, you are allowed to collect a whole series of quests for a specific area and then do a whole bunch of different things there before returning to the quest hub to move to the next area.  That simply doesn’t work in practice in Wrath of the Lich King, and I found myself constantly reaching the same point at different times, with the absolute worst of it involving sending me back to the same Harpy filled ravine in Storm Peaks each time after something slightly different.  If that was the exception and not the rule life would have been golden, but zone after zone I found myself staggered just enough in my questing to be annoying and greatly drag out the leveling process with a ton of movement from one edge of the zone to the next.  This of course was exacerbated by the fact that my Warlock only has slow flight, which makes traversing the bigger areas extremely painful.  That said I remember definitely having to do all of these zones before flight, which only would have made them that much worse.  I tried doing my stair step approach to the content, and found that not entirely working as intended… namely because there is no hero’s call quest that leads into Icecrown.  At 79 I finally decided to pop over and see if I could start the quests, and sure enough I was able to finish up there and ding within fairly short order.  The quest sequence inside of Icecrown is probably the best I experienced in my abbreviated push through Northrend.

Evolutions Were Made

So regardless of what I have said about Wrath of the Lich King in the past, I have to admit that significant upgrades have been made to the way we level characters.  I mean I knew that The Burning Crusade quests were frustrating and slow, but even then there seemed to be a lot more batching up of related tasks than I experienced during the several zones in Northrend.  Ultimately my big complaint with the more recent expansions has not been the leveling content, in fact I think questing through Pandaria and Warlords to be some of the most fun I generally have on a character.  Even Cataclysm from what I remember was pretty fun, with the only real problem there being that each zone is an entirely linear experience and if you lose the quest chain somewhere you are simply dead in the water.  I am sure as I level with my demons through the Cata zones I will find the same frustrations there that I found with Wrath, just in different ways.  The little bit I have played of Legion feels like they have once again made a leap forward in the way the flow of questing feels, and I am sure at some point I will be complaining about all of the past content when I level my next batch of alts.  When you spend a good deal of your time playing alts, the way the quests fit together really matters, and in games like Final Fantasy XIV where I don’t have quests to level alternate jobs… I miss it greatly.

We tend to lock things in our mind, that are colored by feelings and emotions that were happening at the time.  In many ways the Wrath era had some of the most turmoil in my life in dealing with a job that I hated, and a downward spiral of events brought on by deaths and other traumatic events.  However I will always think fondly upon that time because of the stability that my guild and raid team provided me during that time.  They were always there and always supportive even when I decided I wanted to stop leading anything.  It is because of all of this that Wrath was this shining moment for me in a long list of World of Warcraft experiences.  However that sequence of events is nothing I would ever want to relive, and it is impossible to try and piece that era back together.  In many ways my fondness for Wrath of the Lich King is no different than a parent trying to relive their own high school sports glory days through forcing their kids to make the same decisions they did.  I need to come to the realization that there is no going back, and we can only keep moving forward and adapting to the changes as they happen.  I still completely reserve the right to disagree with the direction various games are being taken in, but ultimately my only choice is whether or not I play.  I can’t claw back change, and somehow bring things back to a state that I remember so fondly.  My recent trip through Northrend has made me realize that even if I could… I wouldn’t actually enjoy the results.

Peak Pokemon

Nothing but Zubats

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There are several news outlets reporting that Pokemon Go has reached its peak and is now starting to trend downwards.  This is zero surprising to me, simply because it would be hard for any game to reach this level of viral saturation… and then somehow manage to sustain it.  There are a lot of factors at play here, not the least of which is our apparent short attention span when it comes to internet fueled phenomena.  That said I personally am still playing it quite regularly, but with a lot less of the reckless abandon.  On my drive into work every morning there are still a couple of parking lots I pop by and check that have given me good finds in the past.  However I am largely not doing the evening walking thing, because we have had a streak of 100 degree days with some silly humidity going on.  Whenever I stop anywhere however I still habitually whip out the phone to check if there is anything interesting around.  I’ve made several trips to local hot spots in a constant search of something new.  The game however has a lot of problems standing in front of it, and I believe that they more than anything are what is standing in the way of player retention.  The truth be told, I feel like we are at a point of being rolled out to every market that really makes a difference, and that was probably never the intention… or at least not this soon.  However the social pressure of players wanting to play desperately, and being willing to find other ways to do so… meant that if they did not push to other territories that they were ultimately losing their shot at that income stream.

The biggest problem with this game is that the experience is not equitable.  I count myself lucky that I work in a town of 500,000 and live in a metro area of roughly 1 million.  That said other than a dozen “hot spots”, Tulsa seems to be a wasteland of Pidgey, Rattata, Weedle and oh so many Zubats.  When you get out to the suburbs where I live, even those seem to be few and far between that when I go on a walk I am catching them more out of a sense of boredom than any desire to actually waste the pokeballs on them.  Similarly I get excited when I see the next tier of “mostly trash” Pokemon in the form of the Doduo, Caterprie, Venonat, and Spearow because it breaks up the monotony of an ocean of Pidgey candy.  I said that I count myself lucky, because as miserable as it is to go a week without seeing anything interesting… I am still sitting just shy of level 20 with 76 Pokemon caught and 77 seen.  Thusfar “the one that got away” was a Dratini that I lost due to the once super common “pokeball lock up”, where the screen would freeze on catch and you had either caught the Pokemon or not, but had no real second chance because you would have to restart the app to get control again.  The folks that are in really dire straights are those who are unlucky enough to live in rural areas.  I know when I have traveled to various small towns here in Oklahoma I have seen nothing but the regular assortment of random trash Pokemon, even surrounding Pokestops.

Servers On Fire

Another huge problem up until this point is that the servers have been anything but reliable.  Another way that I am extremely lucky is that I have a wife who is super understanding about my desire to go hunting invisible creatures.  She has suggested multiple times that we take road trips to check out other areas and see if maybe I can get far enough out of our zone to find something new and interesting.  The problem there is that until this week you never really could rely on the servers actually being up at any given moment.  It is impossible to tell the difference between what is just the servers on fire from usage, and what is Niantic actually performing maintenance.  The reason being that the company behind this game seems to think the best policy is zero communication with their customers about basic up time information.  So the one time a few weeks back when we actually decided to take a road trip, the servers looked fine when we left our house.  Then by the time we actually reached our destination I could not catch anything without getting a string of constant application lockups due to the servers not responding.  I went to a park that I thought would be loaded with Pokemon, and ultimately it was… however after trying to catch four things and getting four pokeball lockups, I gave up and headed home frustrated.

Now when I say that the experience is not equitable, I think it is worth mentioning the experience that the faction of AggroChat is having up in Seattle.  They seem to have a cavalcade of hot and cold running Pokemon all of the time.  Tam apparently lives across from some park that is an absolute hot bed of activity in the evening, and while we have those here they are nowhere near my house, and would be horribly awkward to drive to at 9/10 pm at night.  Here in Tulsa there is a reddit that keeps tabs on what folks have seen and caught… and I know in Seattle they seem to be regularly catching things that we have never seen.  So ultimately I feel like they need to tweak the base population to be a little more fair, and a lot less based on cellular activity which was the case with Ingress.  I am sure this game is a phenomenal experience in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Chicago…  but significantly less for those of us stuck in smaller population centers.  So if we have reached “Peak Pokemon”, I feel like a good chunk of it comes from the frustration of wanting to play… and when you finally can keep connected to the servers, the only thing you see are the same critters you see everywhere.   My kingdom for a Vulpix or I would quite literally wet myself if I probably saw a Pikachu or a Charmander.

Still Playing

All of this said… I am still very much interested in this game.  The part of Pokemon that I enjoy the most is roaming around and catching new things, and for the most part this app lets me do ONLY that.  However at some point I am going to get bored with the assortment of common and slightly less common Pokemon that I can regularly find here.  I caught a Machoke on Monday, and that had been the first new wild Pokemon I had seen in over two weeks.  Most of the new finds I am getting, are through sheer brute force evolution of less common critters.  For example I got an Arbok yesterday, by finally getting enough candy to evolve and Ekans.  While in part I am happy to tick off another checkbox in the Pokedex… I would have far rather seen an Arbok in the wild, or a Seaking, or a Gloom… or the countless other evolutions I have finally gotten enough candy to do.  I am admittedly jealous of the folks who live in active enough areas to see that sort of stuff in the wild, without actually resorting to making Pokemon Go into a lifestyle.  Sure there are folks that have been hanging out at the handful of hot spots every single night here in Tulsa, and I am certain they have seen some pretty awesome stuff.  However what I am looking for is a game that I can play in the times between going and doing other things, and for the most part this game fits that bill awesomely.  I am just hoping that at some point they give me something more interesting to see than another Rattata.  Right now my app is telling me that I have caught 660 Pokemon, and quite literally I figure at least 300 of those have been Zubats.  Largely I am just hoping at some point the game changes in a way that makes me still have hope that I will find something interesting in the wild.  That is a huge part of what has nerfed my nightly walks is knowing that a trip around the neighborhood is maybe going to get me a couple Pidgeys, a Rattata and if I am super lucky an Eevee.  I am curious what your own experiences have been?  Are you having much luck “catching them all”?

 

The Leveling Game

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Buckling Some Swash

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Since the 7.0.3 patch landed in World of Warcraft, I have been more than a little obsessed with relearning classes given the significant changes to the bevy of talent trees.  On my rogue I have more or less always been combat, other than a brief flirtation with subtlety during vanilla thanks to knowing a few insane “sub” rogues.  If one thing should be certain by now is that I am not a huge fan of stealth mechanics, and my ideal “rogue” is that of a pirate or swashbuckler rather than assassin or thief.  As a result it feels like Outlaw the rebranded combat is essentially tailor made for me.  The spec itself is made up largely of huge sword slash moves and pistol shots, making it feel a lot to me like the Witch Hunter from Warhammer Online.  The core of the gameplay focuses around either a melee slash builder or short range pistol shot builder, coupled with a slashing combo dump and a long range combo dump that also happens to stun the target… but is on a rather long cooldown.  Other than these there is an additional combo dump called Roll the Bones which gives your character one or more buffs from a list of available buffs.  For those who raided during Wrath of the Lich King, it reminds me quite a bit of the way Deathbringer’s Will felt.  Completely unpredictable but when the buff is up it always does something interesting.  When the patch landed my rogue was sitting at level 91 and had barely seen anything past the Garrison.  As of yesterday I dinged 100 and have begun gearing him to at least do some basic content like LFR.

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Not to be undone by the new school rogue experience, I opted to start working on my druid again which I generally play as feral.  Feral mostly feels the same as it always has, which now represents the way combat rogue largely previously felt.  In some ways I am grateful that it didn’t change a whole lot, but in other ways I admit I am a little disappointed.  So many classes with Outlaw Rogue and Survival Hunter feel new and different and shiny…  that the ones like Feral Druid and Protection Warrior that stayed largely the same feel a little diminished.  Belgarou had been my character of choice for leveling during the AggroChat podcast for awhile now, and I had made slow and prodding progress.  However last night I made a serious push and went from just shy of 96 to 100 in a single evening.  Traditionally when I level characters I follow a basic pattern which will make completionists cringe.  I tend to say in Shadowmoon Valley until 92, and then immediately drop those quests and swap to Gorgrond until 94.  From Gorgrond I jump to Terrokar, and then again to Spires of Arak at 96.  Finally I reach Nagrand at 98 and continue there until I ding, with the theory that spending the maximum amount of time in that zone will mean I will have the best gear to start angling for the 620 item level that unlocks that first LFR.  The end result is a quick succession of zones each one giving me the maximum experience for my level and getting me to the level cap as soon as possible.

The Stable Fills

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I am by no means the fastest at leveling characters, but I am doing largely okay when I can actually stick with a game for any given period of time.  At this point I have eight level 100s, but that is nothing even vaguely close to the number that Grace has and hers span multiple servers.  In theory the next closest to 100 would be Belglorian my priest, but honestly I am not super enthused about leveling it.  At some point I want to try out the new Shadow with its Old God based lore, but I am in no real rush.  I mean it would be awesome to have my tailor at max level when Legion lands, but I am thinking it might be too “finger wiggly” for me at the moment.  There is of course my monk who is still sitting at level 53, but that means a return to more leather.  I am kinda getting tired of wearing leather, since I just finished off my rogue and druid back to back.  Also there is the problem that for whatever reason I have never been able to get into the flow of a monk.  I really enjoy playing pugilist in Final Fantasy XIV, and I had a Monk in Everquest II… but for whatever reason the World of Warcraft version doesn’t feel as interesting.  For me at least it feels very much like another dual wielding class, since I went the dpsy version.  Brewmaster tanking felt odd, and “Fistweaving” I have heard is no longer a thing… so more than likely that means I will always be a sorta rogue on that class.

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As a result it seems like my next leveling target is going to be the Warlock, because it is just finger wiggly enough for me to be able to enjoy it.  Additionally all that time I spent leveling my Arcanist in Final Fantasy XIV has taught me a greater respect for damage over time classes.  Generally speaking I have always been a demonology player, because I like running around with giant demon pets.  However I might branch out a bit and try something new, it all depends on if I can get the swing of the new changes.  In any case I am not exactly sure why I have been on this marathon leveling session, but I am mostly just going with the flow.  I think part of it is also my attempt to catch them all as far as appearances go.  I have added so many items to my wardrobe that it isn’t even funny.  The hope is that in doing this push I will get at least one leather and one cloth class that I actually enjoy playing, that I can run old world content with for those cloth and leather pieces that I seem to be missing.  I have a huge stash of plate and chain, because those are all classes that I play pretty frequently.  The worst seems to be the finger wigglers, so I am hoping that I can make the Warlock into a soloing beast to farm up awesome transmog sets with.  In any case… this has been my recent obsession and I thought I would share it with you.

 

A Chill Blaugust

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Over the last few weeks folks have been pinging me, asking if Blaugust would be returning.  I feel like I have put off this post as long as I could possible do so.  Originally I was planning on calling Blaugust this year because I simply did not have it in me.  However when I finally got around to posting that statement… I had folks come out of the woodwork to suggest that the contest was cool and all, but not terribly essential to the concept of Blaugust for them.  They also started brainstorming ways to make it less stressful for me personally.  Essentially last year was a perfect storm of events that made Blaugust extremely hard.  Firstly we had a truly irrationally large number of people participating jumping from 52 the first year to 88 the second year.  There was a period of time that I thought we would be breaking 100.  The thing is… for whatever reason I decided to make this thing a contest, with a win condition.  That means that I needed to take the tallying of numbers and such super seriously, because I would ultimately be handing out rewards at the end of the journey.  The only problem with that was that due to the participation and the large number of folks “winning” each year the concept of having a true single winner seemed super silly.  As a result the last two years I have relied on a random number generation to finally pass out the prizes, and that felt somewhat icky.  So this year we are rolling back to a previous revision in our magical source control system… and taking a stab at what the root of the idea really was.

Blogging on a Schedule

If you were to ask me what caused me to launch this thing in the first place, I am not sure if I could actually pin it down to a single thought.  However I wanted Blaugust to be about posting blog content on a schedule.  I went from being one of the least prolific bloggers to one of the most prolific in a matter of weeks when I embarked upon my “grand experiment” of blogging each and every morning.  In truth it was madness that I would ever suggest that someone do the same.  Ultimately this year I broke my streak on purpose just to have it done and buried and behind me.  However I did manage to make it a little over three years without skipping a single day, and it is a feat that I am rather proud of.  However the rhythm I have settled into as a result of posting every single week day also feels pretty great.  Additionally it is far more manageable because at least for my wife and I.. the weekends are the only time we really have to do much of anything together.  I can bang out a post in 30 minutes when I am under the gun of having to get to work on time, but for whatever reason my blog posts on Saturday and Sunday often times took hours.  I tried a bunch of hacks to get around this, like having a reoccurring movie/television column, or a summary column that recounted the best highlights of what I did that week.  However none of it felt really fresh or meaningful, and instead just superseded any planned activities that we might have wanted to do that weekend.

The core message of Blaugust has always been that blogging on a schedule is a good thing.  My thought was by challenging people to blog every single day for a month, then when they decided to roll that back to every other day, or only week days… it wouldn’t seem near that daunting.  For some this absolutely worked and Blaugust has seemed to make a lot of blogs more active.  The only problem is it has the opposite effect as well… the challenge “broke” some people and they would go for months without making a post after the challenge wrapped up.  This was absolutely an unintended consequence, and one that really bothered me from the very first year.  The last thing I want to do is in some way bully people out of the blogosphere by setting up some sort of artificial gate.  Additionally the whole concept of having winners bothered me as well.  If you sit down and create a blog, and commit yourself to posting on it and baring your soul to the rest of us…  you are a big winner in my book.  Blogging is one of those things that gets in your blood, but it also takes a lot out of the person doing it.  So everyone out there posting on their own blogs be it MMO Gaming, Cooking or Stamp Collecting…  you are all awesome to me.  So in this reboot we are no longer going to think of this as a contest, but instead a festival of sorts.  I want to embrace the positives that the event can bring, without adding to the pressure everyone is already under when trying to do their own thing.

Blaugust 2016

So what we end up with is a Festival of Blogging on a Schedule.  What schedule you intend to stick with is entirely up to you, and honestly even if you do keep a schedule at all.  2016 has been this year when a lot of bad stuff has happened around the world, and I don’t want my artificial contest to be something that adds stress to anyone.  If you want to push yourself to blog every day, awesome.  I will be watching and will be tabulating those folks at the end, with probably a special sidebar image that denotes that.  However I am not putting any real prizes on the line this year.  This is the year that we are doing this thing for the sake of doing it.  I always got the impression that no one was really in this for the gold at the end of the rainbow…  so I doubt this will make any real difference.  However I am trying to de-escalate the stress of the event, and I think by no longer making it a contest that might help.  The hope is that you will take this month and make your own content creation more active than it has been in the past months.  That is it.. that is the ultimate goal to get folks out there creating more awesome content.

The Rules

There really is only one serious rule, and that is the sign-up sheet.  If you are going to start participating in Blaugust 2016 please take a few minutes to fill out this Google Form.  It doesn’t ask an awful lot but what it does is important.  It asks for…

  • Name of Blog
  • URL of Blog
  • Schedule if you Plan on Sticking to One
  • Twitter Handle if you use it
  • How you Heard About Blaugust

That’s it, nice and simple.  I will tabulate the results and keep some sort of sidebar or event page with the collected information on it.

The other thing that I would ask is if you post to twitter please use the hashtag #Blaugust2016 just as a way of making things easier for folks to see as they are posted.

Resources

There is the Blaugust Nook over on Anook, and it is a great place to ask questions and have conversations with other bloggers that are doing this thing.  Twitter as well is also a great resource, and I know personally that is where I end up holding most of my conversations with other bloggers.  As far as Discord that seems to be the popular thing to be doing right now… I would prefer not to start a brand new server just for this event since I already have like twenty servers in my app.  There are a couple of ones devoted to blogging so going to be pestering the folks who run those to see if they mind sharing.  Additionally for anyone wanting to see what has happened in previous years there is always the Blaugust Category on my own blog, which I have been more or less fairly decent about tagging related posts.

Back to the Roots

Personally I will be going back to posting every day during the month of August.  That said I might be staging some of the content on Saturday and Sunday so that it posts in the morning, rather than getting up and doing them and thereby impeding whatever activities we have planned.  Giving up Saturday and Sunday was a strange thing for me when I did it, and on some levels I think it was a positive effect.  That said there are lots of times that I have events that happen on the weekend that it feels artificial to wait until Monday to talk about.  For example the passing of my cat Chloe this weekend… happened Friday night, and by the time Monday rolled around posting about it just felt like ripping a barely formed scab off the wound that was trying to heal.  So for the first time in the history of Blaugust me posting every single day won’t just be my default interaction.  It is going to take work to get me back in the habit of doing it, so I will essentially be struggling with you all to up my game and make more interesting content.  One last word that I want to leave you with… is while everything about this keeps saying Blog, I don’t want to limit any creative outlet.  If you are a vlogger or if you do twitch lets plays, or honestly any form of regular content creation, I don’t want to exclude you from this “festival”.  Please sign up and let us know what you are creating and where you are creating it, and while blog means something specific…  in my mind any sort of regular content creation be it blog, vlog, stream, or podcast feels like blogging to me.  Additionally this is not just an MMO or Gaming thing… if you are out there blogging about your own personal stuff or another completely different industry… I want you to know that you are welcome as well.  This thing started as a part of the MMO Gaming community, because most of the other bloggers I knew… were MMO Gamers.  Last year Blaugust expanded quite a bit, and I hope it will as well this year into new and interesting areas.

Goodbye Chloe

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This is going to be a bit of an odd post given that I am making it at 4:30 in the morning.  Friday we had to move completely out of our cubes at work, which meant disconnecting everything in it and toting it elsewhere in the building temporarily.  They are in the process of swapping out the carpet squares, and it was my hope that they would have been done by yesterday so that I could maybe go up and hook everything back up.  However I spoke with my boss who tried to do the same thing, and they had yet to get to our aisle.  So as a result I am getting up silly early this morning and planning on going in and trying to get everything hooked up and ready to go before most of the office gets in.  This post will also be odd given its content.  It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster of a weekend, and those that follow me on twitter might have a clue as to why.  Friday evening we lost our eldest cat Chloe, because it was time to make the hard call.  A little over a month ago we discovered a tumor that was growing beneath her jaw, and after getting her checked out the vet said there wasn’t really much we could do other than palliative care.  Given the fact that she was fourteen, and given the fact that it had already consumed part of her jaw… there really wasn’t much that could be done to truly “fix” it.

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So we took her home not really knowing how much time we would have for her.  For the first bit things seemed pretty okay, and I had a false sense of hope that she would just be the normal cat we have known and loved all these years…  well with a big growth hanging off her jaw.  However the tumor continued to grow and the first sign something was wrong was that the right side of her mouth started pulling open causing her to drool.  So we spent quite a bit of time chasing her around with a wash cloth trying to clean up the constant string of drool following her around.  Around about this time she also started having trouble grooming herself, but my wife being off work for the summer was awesome and did an amazing job of trying to help her out.  Friday night however she had developed what I can only describe as a parkisonian tremor, and instead of just drool for the last several days there had been a pretty constant bit of drainage of some sort along with it.  She had been picking at food at best, and each morning it seemed like she was spending less and less time at the food dish and more and more time laying down… or hiding under the bed.  When she has started scratching herself and making her jaw bleed, I felt like it was time to go back to the vet.

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I feel so damned guilty about that too, because I knew going back to the vet was going to ultimately mean them suggesting that we put her to sleep.  I’ve spent much of the weekend agonizing over this fact, that I was the one who ended up deciding it was time.  The vet did his best to reassure me that it was more than time, and even described an anecdote of him going through something similar with his own animal.  I realize that it was supposed to be comforting but really in the end it didn’t help much.  I mean it was  time… I am absolutely certain of that fact.  They administered an anesthetic and the vet took the opportunity to let us look inside of her mouth.  The entire lower jaw had essentially been consumed by the tumor, and instead of just extending down and out… it was also extending up under the tongue to a point where within a few days it was probably unlikely that she would have been able to swallow at all.  All of this doesn’t really help though, because I feel the guilt of having to say goodbye to one of my babies.  No amount of logic or evidence is every going to make me feel less horrible about the conclusion of events.

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Cats switch allegiance throughout their lives, and for the last little bit Chloe had been mostly my wife’s cat following her around and sleeping on her pillow.  However she started off her life as very much my little buddy, and there were absolutely times where that was still the case.  All of our babies have been rescues of one sort or another, and Chloe was no exception.  I don’t even remember the circumstances of her arrival other than the fact that we went to a veterinary clinic on Utica avenue in Tulsa to look at a bunch of kittens who had been found abandoned.  I had wanted a tuxedo, because I had always been pretty fond of them.  I college we had an amazing stray that hung out around our trailer that we ultimately named Pepper, and that my parents adopted.  However when I got to the clinic there was this adorable little reverse tuxedo, that pulled at my heart and made me know that we had found another cat.  Thinking back now… we had signs early on that something was up but they only really make sense now in retrospect.  One of the defining characteristics of Chloe was her good nature, and her often times annoying habit of licking quite literally anything within range.  I mean to the point of using her paws to pull something closer to her face just to lick it.  This meant often times hiding your face or arms under the covers to keep from constant barrage of kitty slobber.  The thing is… about two months ago the licking largely stopped, which makes me wonder if that was about the point which the tumor started bothering her.

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There have been many a raid night that she was draped across my arm.  As far as we have been able to figure out, she was more than likely a ragdoll mix of some sort given her habit of plopping down and almost melting into the ground.  As she got up there in age she couldn’t really jump up onto the bed or the couch, so we started putting pet stairs around the house to help her ascend.  She was also among the most social cats we have ever had.  She never really had trouble with any of the other cats, and when someone came over she was always among the first to greet them… and likely annoy the hell out of them with attention until they finally resigned themselves to being licked.  The funny thing is… she was not entirely a pushover.  There have been a few times our current youngest Kenzie pushed her a little too far, and unleashed a flurry of attacks… but then moments later she would be back to normal and grooming her again.  I think she groomed other cats more than any other cat we have had throughout the years, so it wasn’t only human beings that got licked… it was pretty much anything, she even tried grooming the ferrets.  This mornings post has been difficult to write, but also at the same time I think maybe it helped.  I had all these pent up feelings all weekend long, and while I have cried a little while writing this morning… it has almost helped to commit things to the page.  I want to thank all of the folks on twitter who flooded me with support Friday night.  I just didn’t have it in me to respond to each of you, but know that every single message meant the world to me.  Tomorrow we will be back to normal posting, or whatever passes for normal on my blog.  However today I just had to get this post out of me.

Dankest Dungeon

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Palace of the Dead

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Last night I was not terribly certain what I would be doing with myself.  For the last several days I have been heavily focused on transmoggy things over in World of Warcraft, but on the same day that patch was released the newest patch landed in Final Fantasy XIV.  Before I left work I saw Tam ask if anyone would be interested in taking a trip into the Palace of the Dead… or as he has begun referring to it the “Dankest Dungeon”.  This had been something on my radar for a long awhile, with the theory being that you had a brand new leveling path for alts.  I have an army of alts and honestly you can only manage so much FATE grinding before you need some other path.  It seems like everyone on my server has gotten the same idea, because apparently to queue for the dungeon you have to be standing in Quarrymill.  I snapped this photo last night but if you looked in any direction you would have seen pretty much the same density of players.  In many ways this reminded me of the wall Revenant’s Toll felt on raid reset day.  Neph wanted to play her Dark Knight, Tam his Black Mage, and Thalen his Machinist…  which left me needing to do the team focused thing and play a healer.  Anyone who knows me very well will know I am not really the best healer in the world.  The irony there is that I started my MMO career in Everquest as a cleric…  the go to healer for any serious content.  I also feel that experience pretty much generated a massive mental block against ever wanting to do it again.

Now I have had a White Mage for a good while, and actually enjoyed myself leveling that.  However for whatever reason the Scholar class has never really clicked with me.  Before the launch of Heavensward I managed to get Arcanist to 30 and actually claim both the Scholar and Summoner jobs but pretty much stalled out shortly thereafter.  I felt like I sucked at the class and simply stopped queuing for dungeons, because for ever Tam Tara there would be five Brayflox that I struggled to deal with.  The interesting thing about the deep dungeon is how it has its own parallel leveling system, and how it apparently invents things that simply don’t exist.  For example when you go in as a job…  you don’t exactly get the path that you took to get to your level.  For example I had Eos and Selene really quickly rather than my Carbunkle friends, which is I guess the same thing that happens when you get leveled down in a dungeon.  On the other side of the equation, Kodra commented about having a serious challenge dealing with trying to function in the dungeon as an Arcanist without the Scholar job.  Arcanists play this strange role of not quite but almost healer, that I remember struggling with when I ran dungeons…  because I was also note quite a dps.  The early levels seem to heavily favor dps, with the last set that we completed before I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard…  needing us to actually do proper group tactics to get through.

Weapons of Light

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So as you move through the dungeon there are chests that you open that do a bunch of different things.  Firstly you get a shared group inventory that contains these items called Pomanders.  These cause various effects both to buff your party, and to counter act the negative effects of the dungeon.  For example there is one that shows the entire map so you can navigate to only the rooms that contain chests, or another that will disable all traps in a floor.  There are still others that are designed to counter act very specific negative effects gained from certain encounters, like Pox that stops all health regeneration.  This one is particularly nasty if placed on the tank…  which it was for a significant period of time last night.  The natural instinct for me is to clear every room, but you are timed from the moment you set foot inside and have sixty minutes to clear ten floors.  At first this seems like an easy task, as we quickly breezed through the early levels.  However once we got onto the third set of floors that timer started to make a big difference, and in theory you are given roughly six minutes per floor.  As a result we started pulling the levels in a minimal clear fashion with our dps fanning out at times to scout ahead and try and determine which path we should go down as a group.  The name of the game is finding the blue and silver chests that contain “gear” upgrades… and by that I mean +1 to your arms and armor score which serve as the gear for the dungeon.

The most interesting thing about the experience is how you gain your abilities during the normal arc that occurs as you level up.  However for whatever reason I thought I would hit a ceiling and simply stop getting abilities when I hit level 31 which is what would have happened were I running dungeons.  Instead I continued to move forward and am now in my 50s gaining heavensward scholar abilities that are unlocked through quests.  So in theory this is a crash course in how to play your class… long before you actually get the abilities.  As to whether or not this worked…  I started out the dungeon run extremely rough and almost all of the healing was coming from Selene the murder fairy.  As we moved forward I started to get the hang of it, and was using adlo like a mad man followed up with some direct healing.  People died, a bunch… or at least more than I am happy with… and we ended up wiping on a really bad luck trap spawn.  However as the night progressed I started feeling significantly more comfortable healing as a scholar.  In theory I would feel much better stepping into a dungeon now than I did before last night.  All in all I got roughly three levels which is a slightly faster progression rate than running dungeons, but not the sort of speed that is going to lead to a lot of chain power leveling.  I had a lot of fun and just wished that we had been able to start earlier in the evening so that I could see the end of the dungeon.  I definitely want to do this again soon.

 

Confronting Change

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Hotbar Construction

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Yesterday was at least in part a continuation of the previous day.  When I got home we ate some dinner and I plopped down in my comfy chair and began continuing to sort through my gear, getting almost all of the way through my characters last night.  Early in the evening Grace and I had talked about running some older content for transmoggy bits, so I had a clear target timeframe in mind.  In the meantime I had to somehow make sense of my hotbars and decide what the hell I was going to play that evening.  Since I really only care deeply about plate graphics usually I knew it was more than likely going to be Warrior, Deathknight or Paladin.  As a result I devoted a bit of time to each of them, and tried to make something functional for the purpose of running content.  Of the three the most immediately recognizable was the warrior with the only thing really dropping off of my hotbar being Heroic Strike.  There were various other tweaks as well but nothing that I could not adjust to rapidly, and within a few minutes I felt like my old self again.  The biggest hitch being the significant change to the thunderstrike sound and animation.  It is those moments when I realize how much I ultimately play by sound, and use audio queues to know if an ability actually fired or not.  The animation is also extremely different being more of an earthquake than a shock of lightning… which I can only assume is part of their “aligning of class fantasies” business.  More than likely we lost our lightning because they decided that only Shaman can have lightning effects or something along those lines.

The paladin was also a similar easy adjustment period, and I fell into that routine rather easy.  I also love the fact that Paladins now have a movement speed buff similar to that of the Crusader in Diablo 3 which I have played the last few seasons.  I may or may not have spent a good deal of time charging around my garrison.  The big challenge however was that of the Deathknight, and I still have not quite figured out how I am supposed to be playing it.  Compared to the other two tanks it just feels like a wet paper bag when it comes to survival.  I straight up got wrecked by the dungeon tank dummy in the garrison and had similar problems in Legion beta.  So far I have been able to breeze through the artifact weapon class every single time… but with the Deathknight.  While doing that quest I wound up dying roughly five or six times before I was finally able to limp through it.  The whole reason why I always gravitated towards the Deathknight was their ability to solo and their ability to quest rapidly.  I am not discounting the fact that I probably am missing some key element that makes the class manageable, but whatever is wrong… it is a little maddening.  I was truly hoping this would be the expansion where I could feel comfortable returning to being blood again.  As it stands… for tanking main I am pretty much staying Warrior because it feels comfortable and like I have the ability to actually take some damage, and at the same time still have a lot of movement in the form of the new combo intercept/charge and heroic leap.

Collecting Appearances

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I thought I would include this gem of an image as a clear understanding of why we need a good cosmetic system in this game.  As I sifted through my various alts I encountered a whole bunch of reasons, but this one from Earthen Ring takes the cake.  As far as the actual collection of appearances we ended up running a few panda raids…  or at least tried to because one of the bosses on Heart of Fear kept resetting, and neither of us seemed to have Throne of Thunder unlocked.  We did however successfully get through Mogu’shan Vaults and then finished off the night with a quick run through Black Temple where we honestly got more awesome greens than purples.  I was making an attempt at getting the second warglaive for my warrior.  Earlier in the evening I ran my warrior through MC at least up until the binding dropping mobs…  only to get the same binding I had already to drop.  I had a similar lack of luck in Black Temple, but there were a handful of plate appearance pieces that I had apparently never picked up along the way.  Grace made out like a bandit in Pandaria, but seemed to get minimal drops once we finished the night up in the BC era content.

Right now my biggest frustration is with the whole collection of appearances being locked to armor type.  As a result anything that was leather or mail pretty much went to waste, well other than selling it for gold.  This is a similar problem to the one I have with the cata era cloth drop rate changes.  There are certain characters I play just to have a complete stable of classes, and then there are other characters that I actually enjoy farming content on.  My tailor is a Shadow/Disc Priest and that is the character I will probably never actually farm older content on because I don’t get along very well with finger wigglers. Similarly I gravitate towards plate wearers for the characters I actually repeatedly run content on, and it would be amazing if I could just pick up those items and commit them to my appearance library rather than being grumpy as I watch cool stuff going to waste.  I can totally see making appearance follow class lines in parties to keep people from rolling on everything.  However when you are out soloing it would be amazing if you actually got to collect those appearances.  However the end result is likely going to be that I find a farmer of every armor class and wind up running a lot more old world content.  Maybe that was their intention all along?  Force you to dust off those alts and actually play them?

Low Sodium

This is one of those patches that I have seen a lot more salt over than previous ones.  I am not sure if the World of Warcraft community is just more dramatic than it used to be, or if the changes really are that frustrating.  I mean on some level I get it, because I quite literally had to rethink the way I play every character I have tried so far.  All of the rules of how classes interacted changed, and for the players that tried to do a lot of things for utility purposes…  I fear their gameplay is forever going to be changed.  For me… I have a full stable of alts and if for some reason I don’t like the way one feels this time I can shift focus to another one and be equally happy.  However for the player that spent over a decade playing this one class a certain way…  the changes could be traumatic.  I fully support complaining about World of Warcraft, because god knows I have done plenty of it over the years.  I fully support the notion of feeling like your voice needs to be heard.  However after doing both of those… you are ultimately left with a decision point of either adjusting to the changes or quitting the game and trying one of dozens of other good MMORPGs.  Change has right or wrong been a constant in World of Warcraft, and if you are not willing to reinvent yourself every few years than chances are you are going to wind up bitter and frustrated.

This moment happened for me during Cataclysm, and several times since I have decided that I am simply no longer having fun with the game.  Each time it happens I have tried to be more chill about it, to the point where when I quit these days it is not a huge ordeal.  So if you are finding yourself having one of these moments over the Legion changes, take a bit of advice from someone who has been there so many times.  Firstly it is completely okay to quit the game.  The game will still be there, and you can absolutely return at a later date if you rethink your decision.  I quit “permanently” at the beginning Cataclysm, around the end of Cataclysm, the beginning of Pandaria, the middle of Pandaria, the end of Pandaria, the beginning of Warlords, and then I’ve been more or quite often less active for the last six months.  There are other amazing games you could be playing and would likely have a much better time doing so, at least until the present bitterness fades.  If you need some suggestions hit me up sometime and I can probably rattle you off a dozen based on your previous Warcraft preferences.  Essentially what I am saying is as someone who has been there… doing that is so much better than flailing impotently in the hopes that someone will notice your pain and rollback all of the offending changes.  Sometimes it is better to walk away and return later… rather than napalming the community.

 

Playing Dress-Up

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Quest for Bank Space

Be warned, I am really not sure how much this mornings post is actually going to be a proper topic… and how much it is just going to be show and tell.  Essentially last night was spent sifting through so many characters on so many different servers to unlock all of the appearances I seem to have available to me.  From there I started cleaning out the banks one at a time starting with Belghast my Warrior and for the time being my main.  This was shockingly hard work, and I ended up installing an addon to help give me some confidence to actually go through with getting rid of an item.  What I really wanted was a clear thumbs up or thumbs down on every single item much like Rift has stating that “you have this appearance”.  Caerdon Wardrobe works at least in a way that is most critical, but still I really wanted to see that message for every soul bound item “just to make sure”.  What the addon does do that is useful is for non-soulbound items it tells you that either you don’t have the appearance, or you have collected the appearance from another item.  As far as the soulbounds… I just took the plunge and accepted that over a decades worth of accumulated stuff really was in fact added to my account appearance collection.  This admittedly was a hard step, and one made no simpler by the fact that apparently Ark Inventory changed greatly…  and with every character I logged in I had to do a bit of remapping of some of the styles to get things to load correctly.  So I spent the night with Grace as moral support trudging through my bank…  while the rest of the AggroChat crew listened in while playing Final Fantasy XIV thinking we were absolutely insane.

Honestly Tam thought this was some sort of limited time event… but I somehow doubt that the rest of the crew takes appearance items nearly as serious as Grace and I do.  I mean Tam always has a spiffy glamour in FFXIV but he only has the one glamour and is not constantly rat-holing appearance items just in case someday he MIGHT want to use one for an outfit.  I have joked and said that wardrobes are the true end game… but I am being serious.  I have been more motivated in games when there is a cool piece of armor or a weapon on the line, than literally anything else you can dangle in front of me like a carrot.  As a result one of my favorite activities has been doing old raid content and collecting nifty appearance items to line my vaults for another day.  The problem being that quite literally on my Warrior I had seven inventory slots, zero bank slots, and zero void storage slots.  Every last corner of that storage was filled with weapons and armor that I under no circumstances would be willing to part with.  So a whole lot of my simply not playing the game… is because I had no room to keep accumulating items.  Last night had been a long time coming, and was a bit of a purge of my digital hording of stuff.  So in many ways selling all of those items was a liberating experience… but also one that terrified me at the thought that maybe just maybe the system would fuck up and I would end up losing everything.  Of note… I got every single fashionista achievement other than the shirt one from logging in my first character.  As the night went on the shirt achievement happened slowly while logging in a long list of alts that have otherwise been abandoned to the sands of time.

Show and Tell

Essentially the order of operations went a little something like this.  I first logged in every single character on my account…  which includes numerous characters on other servers that I have only ever played once or twice.  From there I focused in on chewing through my mains…  where I decided to sell off any gear that was not the current “best in bag” for my current spec.  I figure with the expansion only a few weeks away, I was going to be just fine being confined to a single spec per character for that moment.  I burned through my salvage crates and learned the appearances I did not already have… and mailed the extras off to Grace for her to sift through as well.  Of note she is doing the same thing, but I just realized that it might not work as well as I thought it would… given that I think you can only learn an appearance on a character of that armor type.  We will sort out the details of that later though.  Then I started tearing into the bank, offloading anything that did not have a nifty and unique use effect and selling it.  The only real speedbump here is the fact that a lot of the Naxxramas and Ulduar era class gear can’t be sold… so I will have to manually delete that at a later date.  The final thing I did before logging out of any character… was to set my talents and give my character an outfit for the occasion.  The rest of this post is ultimately going to be me posting pictures and talking about the outfits.

Belghast – Warrior

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This is my “Ready for the Legion” outfit, rocking the Illidari tabard and shield, and using the red/fel green version of the Icecrown Deathknight look-a-like armor.  As to whether or not this will remain my main for the coming expansion has yet to be seen, but for the time being I think I look awesome.

Belgrave – Death Knight

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Character number two on the list was my Deathknight, and also the point at which I learned that I can apparently now transmog legendary weapons?  I wanted to go with something fiery looking to match the Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros legendary weapon.  So I ended up landing on the black hand armor set from the garrison appearance vendor.  To go with it is one of the trading card game tabards, the Flame one to be specific.

Lodin – Hunter

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When this game launched I tried to make Melee Hunter a thing, and wound up tanking a bunch of the instances with a combination of myself and my gorilla pet.  Now that Survival is the honest and true melee spec… of course I am going to freaking use it.  As a result I wanted to come up with an outfit that worked with the new PVP gear I picked up.  This is one of those situations where it “sorta matches” or at least well enough to make me happy in combat, however as I look at it now I am starting to pick it apart a bit.  I am going to be “happy enough” for the time being.

Exeter – Paladin

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I tried a bunch of different things before finally settling on this outfit.  I wanted something purple for my paladin, but didn’t want to use the purple judgement set that I have often used in the past.  So I started with the purple tone deathknight icecrown set, and started shifting around bits until I was happy.  Once again I am using one of the card game tabards, this time the purple Tabard of the Arcane.  The end result is almost my favorite of the night… which is ultimately the next one.

Tallow – Shaman

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When Cataclysm introduced the ability for Dwarves to be shaman… I immediately race changed my then Draenei Shaman to be a proper Wildhammer Dwarf.  Ironically I also then turned my Dwarf Paladin into a Draenei one… but that is a different story.  I have always been enthralled with the whole idea of the Wildhammer Clan, and for this transmog I wanted something that felt almost wildhammery but still looked nice and armored.  So I ended up shifting to using one of the Warlords leveling sets… that I just happened to have the perfect set of hammers to go with.  I then decided to go with the Fel Goggles to bring out the Fel coloring of the hammers.  This was the last one I did last night before crashing but is hands down my favorite so far.  So that was ultimately my night, and tonight I will hopefully do the rest of this server.

 

Everything Must Go!

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Rushed Raiding

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Last night was the second running of our reconstituted Monday night group, but unfortunately this time around we were missing a Thalen.  So instead of working through the content we planned on doing with was Ravana Extreme, we opted to start work on the second part of Alexander.  We had seven folks gathered up so we figured grabbing a single pug wouldn’t hurt at all.  We also decided to be up front with the pug, in that they were hanging out with a group of learners.  The most awesome of possible circumstances happened in that the game ended up giving us someone on our own server.  As a result we met a new friend Lux Tenebrae who happened to join up as a semi-permanent 8th last night.  We like to go into fights fairly blind, and then adjust and shift until we have a grasp on the movie parts.  So both of the Alexanders that we completed last night took more than one attempt, but at the same time it feels like we have a firm enough grasp on the fights to be able to come in next week and completely wreck them.  The fights themselves were extremely fun, and pretty much anything with the Alex background music is going to rate high on my radar.  We had to cut things short however because last night began the maintenance period that will eventually get us patch 3.35 which for all intents and purposes is the “Deep Dungeon” patch.  I think every single one of us is looking forward to this as a way of leveling our army of alts.

However once we got out of the raid we had roughly thirty minutes left before the servers reset.  At the not so subtle nudging of Neph we pulled together an expert group and decided to go for it.  By the time we got zoned in we had less than thirty minutes to go and Hullbreaker Hard set out before us.  We had an early wipe due to hubris and standing in stuff, but we recovered quickly and made it through the zone in a good clip.  When we pulled the final boss we had two minutes left on the official clock from the set time of the maintenance period.  The thing is we continued on fighting after time was at least in theory up.  Then something strange happened… firstly Kodra got disconnected, but we were able to finish the boss without him.  We got our loot and zoned out… and then both Tam and I got disconnected at exactly the same moment.  Then moments later Neph did as well.  So it seems like quite literally they were flushing connections one at a time as they cycled through the server preparing to shut it down.  The positive is that three of us managed to get credit for the expert… the negative is that Kodra did not but I am sure we will all be willing to make it up to him later.  This was one of the funnest dungeons I have fun in a long while because we were really pushing ourselves trying to beat the timer… which while we didn’t quite make it we came really damned close.

Farewell to Gold Farms

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The other part of the evening was spent going from character to character and purchasing Smuggled Sack of Gold over and over until I completely depleted my garrison resources.  Yesterday was essentially liquidation night of everything from my garrison that might sell for a decent bit of gold.  I also went to Wrath era Dalaran and checked the various PVP vendors to see if any of that gear was something I might want for transmog purposes given that with today’s patch all of that is getting shifted away from gold to honor based purchases.  On a handful of my characters this also meant scrapping lumber yards to build trading posts…  just to liquidate their resources for cash.  The whole process was an extremely fun atmosphere because quite literally everyone else in the guild was pretty much doing the same.  In a shared chat earlier in the day macros had been posted to speed up the process and there we sat spamming away purchasing gold bags and opening them at the same time.  In many ways it felt like we were all saying goodbye to what ended up being a frustrating expansion, and more than that… saying goodbye to our daily garrison chores.  Today the first of the Legion pre-patches go live and with it a removal of pretty much all of the ways to make gold from the garrison.  This is a bit of a double edged sword because even someone like me, was able to compile a decent amount of gold just by logging in periodically and opening bags of gold from my garrison missions.

That said not a single moment of doing this really felt fun.  It was a chore for me because I felt like if I was not cycling through all eleven characters on Argent Dawn I was essentially “leaving money on the table”.  So doing my Garrison chores mean spending thirty minutes to an hour doing nothing but interacting with NPCs and queuing missions all before doing anything fun or interesting.  So removing the gold from Garrisons will always be removing any leverage it had over me to actually do the crap contained within those instanced walls.  What gets replaced instead is the every so much more exciting mission of farming all of the transmog bits from all of the old world dungeons and raids.  Most of my characters have a fat stack of salvage crates waiting to be opened in the hopes of gathering up new appearances to unlock for the system.  I still think overall the transmog changes are a bit of a half assed system compared to what other games have, but it is a far better system than World of Warcraft currently has.  Tonight will more than likely be spent going character by character and checking things into the transmog system and getting rid of everything that is literally clogging my bank, void storage and inventory.  I started a bit of this last night in selling off any non cosmetic gear that was for alternate specs other than whatever I considered my “main” role on a character.  Getting things in the Transmog system however will pretty much clear up the rest of the space and allow me to actually start saving more interesting items.

 

Embracing the Fel

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Confronting the Legon

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This week on “the twitters” I said something to the effect of Legion might be the first World of Warcraft expansion that I never managed to get into either Alpha or Beta.  Then almost like queue on July 15th I found an email in my inbox notifying that my account had been flagged for Beta access.  As a result I installed it on both my Desktop upstairs and my Laptop downstairs, and spent a good deal of the weekend poking about around the fringes of the new expansion.  The truth is I was not all that excited about Legion prior to this weekend, namely because I am stuck in another down cycle with this game.  There are plenty of things I could be doing, but just nothing I felt terribly compelled to do other than log in a few times a week to collect “free gold” from the garrison chore masters.  Even more maddening in a way is the fact that I desperately need the transmog system changes yesterday.  I think a huge part of why I stopped playing so frequently is because one of the activities that I absolutely love is farming old content for interesting bits.  The challenge there is that I have my entire bank, void storage and all but a half dozen slots in my inventory taken up with appearance gear.  So I just really have no more place to store anything and with transmog changes so damned close… there is no way I am going to get rid of anything that might be cool looking.  So as a result I think I just largely stopped playing, thinking that eventually Legion would arrive and I would be able to have a massive spring cleaning… or in this case late summer.  Well that time has arrived almost and tomorrow the patch lands that is going to see me spending my entire evening sifting through shit trying to figure out what I can pitch and what I should actually keep.

Blood Deathknight

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A huge part of the reason why I wanted into Beta was to fiddle with the class changes.  Yes I realize that at any point in the last several weeks I could have installed the PTR client, but without having access to more than just those changes it didn’t really feel worthy of the 28 gig install.  Throughout late Wrath of the Lich King up until Warlords of Draenor I was a huge fan of the Blood tanking spec.  Then in Warlords alpha a whole bunch of that changed, because the feel of the class changed.  Sure the rotation was similar, but the inclusion of Blood Boil as part of the standard rotation made the class start feeling too casterly for my tastes.  It is funny how class fantasy can really effect the way you feel about a set of changes, and at least in this case it was a bridge to far.  On the other hand the Warrior changes for Warlords were amazing, and I loved being able to indulge in a different player fantasy… which was dpsing with a sword and shield thanks to the Gladiator spec.  While I mourn the loss of that option, I completely get why they had to make the change for balance reasons, because quite frankly Gladiator was just too much of a one off special snowflake.  It was my hope that Blood on the other hand would be appealing again, and for the most part I think I like the changes.  That said something is still off with the class and I am struggling to put my finger on it.  Deathknights in general have undergone some pretty shattering changes, and while the feel of the class is right… there are a bunch of empty spots in the rotation where you are waiting on either runic power or rune regeneration.  That is not to say that there is absolutely the chance that I might be playing it wrong.  However in my experience so far there seem to be some pretty significant lulls in the action, and at the same time the class feels like it has lost a whole lot of survival.  On my fresh 100 test character I struggled to get through the quest that ultimately earns you the artifact weapon, because I kept dying with no real way of keeping myself alive.

Demon Hunters

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After a bit of a false step by accidentally choosing a talent that turned my resource builder into an auto attack key…  I’ve decided that I really love Havoc Demon Hunters.  Much like Deathknight was the Belle of the Ball in Wrath of the Lich King… it feels like Demon Hunters are the class that has the most new toys to show off.  For starters… any class with a double jump is something that I am going to pay attention to.  Better than that they have a built in wing glide, which is similar to using the goblin glider… but just as an intrinsic ability.  Then there is the movement… this class has the ability to dart around the battle field like crazy… and those same abilities have allowed me to explore maps in ways that you really could not in previous expansions without copious amounts of wall hacking.  The only negative so far is that I hear by creating a level 100, I somehow am missing a huge batch of abilities that you pick up from quest chains in the starting mission.  The only negative of the class… is that you have to be an elf.  I kinda hate elves, and will likely always hate elves…  however ironically I have always loved Illidan and the concept of the Demon Hunter.  I am seriously contemplating making Demon Hunter my new main for the expansion, even though I realize that will make me yet another member of the Legion of players doing that…  pun only partially intended.  The gameplay however feels fun and fresh and like this strange amalgam of Combat Rogue and Fury Warrior.  Ultimately I need to spend some time with the tanky variety of the class to see if I like that as well, because if so you might be looking at a newly minted Demon Hunter.

Warrior

The class that I spent the least amount of time playing this weekend was Warrior, but everything I saw made me feel like tanking as a warrior was going to be just as stable and reliable as it always was.  Unlike Blood Deathknight, I had zero issue completing the quest chain to get my artifact weapon, the only problem being… that the protection warrior artifact is boring as hell.  I have a vault full of amazing one hander and shield combinations… and for the most part all of them are cooler than the artifact weapon.  It seriously looks like leveling trash, and I am hoping that some of the mutations later will at least give me something I am not embarrassed to be using.  With the absence of Gladiator though, it is going to be hard for me to really consider being a Warrior main this time around.  I have to say however that some of the changes in animation for Fury looked amazing, so at some point over the next few days I want to give that a proper whirl…  once again pun only partially intended.

Tanking

Generally speaking I tend to gravitate towards tanking, and if you plunk me down in a brand new game that is almost certainly what I will roll.  That said I think Final Fantasy XIV has spoiled me when it comes to tanking.  Their version is just head and shoulders more enjoyable than pretty much any other form I have played since then.  As a result I think I might be hanging up my tanking hat when it comes to World of Warcraft at least.  I tried to tank for some of my friends late in Warlords, and I just didn’t like the way it felt in the least.  Now I am sure I will still play things that have a tank spec…  and be able to swap in for specific encounters or for copious dungeon runs, but more than anything I just don’t think I want to be a raid tank anymore in this game.  So knowing that, I am trying to find the class I enjoy dpsing the most or hell I might even try out some healing.  Mostly I have a feeling that I will never again be completely stable and reliable as a player when it comes to World of Warcraft, so I am trying to make sure I pick classes that are useful when I feel like attending something, and not a burden when I don’t.  For all I know I might really love Demon Hunter tanking, and that ends up changing my mind… but I am prepping myself to no longer be a go to tank at least when it comes to this game.