Yoinking Yang

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diablo-iii64-2018-09-25-06-24-37-730

It is always staggering how much difference a few pieces of gear make in Diablo 3.  I went from being unable to really function… to being able to push Torment X without much issue.  I could potentially go higher but I have not really pushed myself.  As of this morning I did a solo 40 just to verify that I was wrecking things as fast as I thought I was…  and of course upgrade that blood shard capacity.  Last night after a mythic+ in World of Warcraft I dropped back over into Diablo 3 and with a whole lot of Grace’s help started running content to attempt to get drops.  Over the course of numerous rifts and greater rifts I managed to start piecing together the set that I should be using to make the Unhallowed Essence build work.

This is where I am at as of this morning, with everything acquired minus Wraps of Clarity and the Focus ring.  From there I need one of those doodads that adds a slot to a weapon…  and to reroll a bunch of my gear for more optimal stats.  Then of course there is the game of trying to swap out your normal items with better ancient versions.  Regardless however I am functioning so much better than I was and can finally stand on my own two feet again.  I was in this awkward spot for too long where I could survive the higher torments…  but just couldn’t kill anything fast enough.  That all changed once I got a handful of items and started finally being able to keep up with Grace and her Necro pushing machine.  The funny thing is… she STILL doesn’t have the ring she needs to make her set completely work… and I have somehow managed to get almost nothing but ring drops myself.

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Another thing of note that I thought I would talk about this morning is my plans for Fallout 76.  My good friend Shiana pinged me last night about what I was planning for Fallout and also for Anthem.  He knows me too well, in that he didn’t phrase the question as to IF I was playing…  just where I was playing.  As it stands right now I plan on doing both on the PC since that is the more comfortable platform for me personally.  As far as Fallout 76, when they announced that you could run a private server…  I set my mind on trying to acquire one of these.  My hope is that TypeFrag will offer one since I like their group funding model that allows people to chip in if they so choose to the server rental fees.  We use that for the Teamspeak server that we use for recording AggroChat, and it is nice mostly because it means I am not footing the entire bill on my own.

Regardless of who is paying I plan on having a server with as close to a PVE ruleset as the game allows me.  It will be a nice chill carebear haven with as many of the toxic influences filtered out as possible.  Basically I think this game is going to be amazingly fun pending you can gather up the right mindset of players that are willing to work together and build interesting communities.  The nukes will of course exist, but the hope is that we nuke areas of high mob population and not players… and sorta treat it like a raid zone since it will cause interesting stuff to spawn in from what I have read.  If you want a chill place to play Fallout 76 and are cool with a no PVP ruleset, then this oasis may be the place for you.

Tam Stole My Luck

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diablo-iii64-2018-09-24-06-01-57-134

This weekend was the beginning of the 15th season in Diablo 3 and like usual Grace and myself decided to do the thing that we do roughly every three months…  and start new seasonal characters.  I went with the Demon Hunter because the Unhallowed Essence set is in theory one of the really fun ones…  pending I can actually assemble all of the parts of it.  Grace went with the Necro because I believe this time is Rathma’s which is another pretty fun set…  pending you assemble all of the pieces of it.  For most of the season she was way stronger than I was as we ran through the content, but there will be a point where that balance starts to shift the other way.  The problem is I have not hit it yet and am struggling a bit with pushing content.  I found getting the Greater Rift 20, the last thing I needed for my cosmetic items and last of the Haedrig’s Gift items…  but be extremely painful.

This season I seem to have had really bad luck, essentially having NONE of the items I need for my build apart from the Hellfire Amulet.  Legendaries seem to be extremely stingy this time around, and often times as I am leveling I start getting some of the drops needed to toss into the cube.  That didn’t happen.  In theory I am going to start grinding some T1 rifts to try and assemble the rest of the set.  I am convinced that Tam stole my luck, because I didn’t even get a single item of my class set to upgrade to Ancient.  At a bare minimum however I now have my pet and portrait frame and anything after this is gravy.

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In World of Warcraft I mostly spent time this weekend over on the Alliance side leveling my Paladin.  Paladins right now seem just as overpowered as Demon Hunters and I have been breezing through content pulling tons of things in a path of destruction…  and in truth consecration ends up pulling way more than I had intended most of the time.  Originally when I took a stab at playing the Death Knight I had started Stormsong Valley and could not be bothered with that storyline of missing ships.  This time around I decided to start Drustvar and its awesome cultist nonsense… and so far I have been enjoying the storytelling way more than a tale of political intrigue.  I like big bombastic storylines, like the whole fighting old gods with ghost dinosaurs thing that is going on over on the Horde Side, so Drustvar seems more of that fit.

The only negative is it means at some point I will have to return to the more subtle political intrigue storyline and hopefully I am invested enough in my character at that point to carry me on.  I figured the Paladin gave me a lot of options for running stuff… but the truth is I will probably just tank or dps… and it is highly unlikely that I ever heal.  While I technically got the healing Artifact weapon, I am not sure if I ever had it equipped.  All in all though…  just not loving the Alliance content anywhere near as much as I did the Horde.  However I will say so far… the War Campaign stuff seems cooler on the Alliance side…  even though it feels weird to be retracing steps I know as horde quests.  I did not realize that I would be effectively sharing the same space…  like Anyport for example in my world is very much a Horde town…  but it is seemingly also open to Alliance?  Also finding it weird that I am seeing way more Orange names while I am leveling than Blue ones.  Maybe there was an initial push of alliance players…  or maybe the AIE presence on our shared shard greatly pushes the balance to Horde.

Lastly we recorded another podcast this weekend as is the usual, and this time around we talked a lot about the Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest franchise…  and the fact that I think of it as Warrior is telling to the last time I actually played one.  We also had this unintended deep dive into Hollow Knight after some conversation about Hyperlight Drifter sort of jarred it loose.  We are trying really hard to bring the shows in around an hour in length and as such they sort of feel better than they used to.  We are trying to limit the number of topics… which has this side effect of causing topics to roll forward to other weeks.  The Dragon Quest topic for example had rolled twice before we finally talked about it.  I am thinking the Trello system that we are using for show notes seems to work pretty well, as we can drop things into the queue throughout the week easily.  Regardless… if you tried listening to us when we often times recorded two to three hour long shows….  you might give it a shot again.

Distraction

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Yesterdays post was super negative, and I apologize for being down a bit.  I am dealing with some mental stuff and fighting through it, but it has colored my world view decidedly darker for the moment.  Yesterday over on Mastodon, someone commented that it sounded like I simply wasn’t having fun anymore.  To some extend I have been having less fun, but I feel like MMOs in general require a lot of grind to get to the fun parts.  Right or wrong that is just sort of the nature of the beast and something I accept as part of the package deal.  My hope is always that the moment to moment gameplay is enjoyable, but even when it isn’t the hope is that there is a lot of enjoyment beyond the grind.

It was around this time that I came up with a reasonable analogy to explain MMOs.  Say you are a person that is really into knocking down dominoes and watching them fall into intricate patterns.  In that hobby it would often time take days to painstakingly set up the tiny little slabs, and then eventually when you are finished you get to start the chain reaction causing them to do all sorts of awesome things…  for a few minutes.  Hours upon hours worth of work…  for a very short payoff.  This is what playing an MMO feels like most of the time… a lot of painstaking work managing factions and consumables and all of the assorted trappings that come with doing endgame stuff…  all to have a few minutes of joy every week.

All of the faction work leads to something…  but that something is often times short and sweet and leaves you wanting more of that awesome endorphin hit that it gave you.   However for the moment I am distracted by the fact that Brewfest is happening and with it comes the Coren Direbrew event.  Sadly the trinkets that are provided this year are only 335, when I was hoping they would be something more sustainable like 340-345.  Regardless it is a thing that gives a much needed slot and my hope is to farm up a set on the Warrior and maybe get the Warlock leveled enough to get some as well.  Additionally there is a pet that I have never picked up before that I hope to get the tokens for.

After that will be the Halloween event, and another grind to chase…  since I have never managed to get the mount to drop and am only slightly bitter about it.  The positive is that it seems like all levels can participate in the Coren Direbrew event, so my hope is that similarly all levels can participate in the Halloween one as well.  That means if I so choose to do this nonsense… I could run around thirty characters through the event every day…  with thirty shots at the mount each day.  On the Brewfest side I have the Kodo and Ram and am not sure if other mounts drop but I think I am in good territory.  Whatever the case this adds up to a large package of distraction that may or may not keep me entertained until the 8.1 patch releases and we can see if anything feels better in the world.

 

The Grind Feels Bad

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Over the last few days I have trying to sort out something about Battle for Azeroth, namely why World Quests feel so generally awful in this expansion.  What I have come up with is a few points, but they all largely center around it being a system that was developed for a different expansion cycle and then not retooled enough to make it function in the same role in this expansion.  For starters World Quests are generally an excellent source of gearing, and in this first days after dinging 120 it very much played that role, giving me access to better and better items until eventually hitting the world quest soft cap of around 330…  with dungeon quests being able to drop up to 340.  The highest actual quest drop I have seen for a green is 273, so that gives you 57 levels worth of gear before the system ultimately peters out.  Honestly that seems like a reasonable gap in itemization, and I augmented it with the occasional heroic or mythic drop to speed my process up.

I think the crux of the issue with World Quests is we are no longer chasing anything that actually matters.  In Legion we were chasing a slew of Legendary items that could drop from literally anything, and I have seen them drop from random boss based World Quests.  So for me at least it felt like every single World Quest that I completed was one additional chance that I had to get the chase items of the expansion…  a Legendary item.  Additionally Emissary quests rewarded a chest upon turn in, that often times had a piece of gear that was very useful in that gearing phase…  but most of my alts got their very first Legendary this way as well.  So again doing the Emissary each day was some thing I looked forward to, because it gave me rep, some sort of a reward, a chest that contained gear… and once again the ever important seemingly elevated chance at seeing orange text scroll across my screen.

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The other thing that is missing is a grind that feels like it matters.  Artifact Power good or bad felt important for a very long time…  even towards the very end as we were unlocking those traits that just sorta made everything get better…  the effect was noticeable.  I felt like I was tangibly better after spending that point…  but also the acquisition of artifact power felt more even handed.  As it stands right now… I can clear both Zandalar and Kul’Tiras of every single available quest during an evening and I won’t have made a single dent in the amount of Artifact Power required to get one more item on the MacGuffin necklace that they gave me that I am supposed to care about.  The ramshackle manner in which we are given traits that are to be unlocked by necklace level… makes the entire system something very hard to deeply care about.  I got an item… the item is higher level…  I guess I will use it in spite of not being able to unlock any of the traits because they are arbitrarily placed through some progression system that I think at one point was supposed to be important but just now seems like numbers pulled out of the ether to keep us grinding.

Basically put… all of this feels deeply unsatisfying and makes me start questioning what exactly the point of us logging in every night to do emissary quests actually is?  The answer to that is…  faction.  Faction is the fire in which we burn.  At least in my case the faction I care the most about right now is the Honorbound because it gates my progress towards unlocking the Mag’har.  Similarly I am certain that faction will also be the thing that gates our access to the Zandalari and Kul’Tirans respectively.  In both cases if I could give Blizzard a sum of money to pay for my time spent… and either instantly gain the faction needed or just simply pay to unlock the race… I would happily do so because the grind that ultimately bars content is completely joyless.  In Legion we gained faction as a side effect of the chase for bigger and better things.  The Artifact weapons felt like a fitting reward for gaining Artifact Power…  and the Emissary chests gave us a shot at getting the real power items of the expansion the Legendaries.  It was a chase I was capable of doing and ignoring the fact that I am every so slightly moving the bar up.

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Effectively in order for a grind to feel good… you have to have enough things distracting you from the fact that you are grinding.  Every 10 to 20 minutes there needs to be enough of an endorphin hit to make you feel like you just accomplished something, and Battle for Azeroth seems to lack this when it comes to what I would refer to as the maintenance grind.  Sure Warfronts were fun because they gave me a shiny purple item every 15 to 20 minutes…  but World Questing, the thing that should be there as a daily pursuit is just a bunch of stuff that I will throw into the grinder or an insignificant amount of gold or artifact power to make up for my time spent.  115 gold for example… the highest paying World Quest that I have available to me on the above map is a completely meaningless and insignificant sum of money.  In order for gold to be a reward from doing a world quest I feel like it at bare minimum needs to be a range that goes from roughly 500 to 2500.  Similarly Artifact power at this point already requires 2500 or more in a single hit to make the bar noticeably move.

Ultimately what happened last night is I logged in… did my Emissary quest…  felt horrible about the rewards…  then logged over to the other faction in an attempt to play an Alliance character.  Which again I bounced out of pretty early on because in the back of my head was a little voice asking me… do I really want to do this grind all over again on another character on another faction?  The grind is just not fun, and I hope they do something to make it feel better in the next patch.  In the meantime I logged over to Destiny 2 which has its own grind problems and found myself having a good deal more fun because…  once again every 10-20 minutes I got the little hit of endorphin from something interesting dropping on the ground.

Warning Signs

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Last night was the first night since the launch of Battle for Azeroth where I didn’t feel like I had a purpose in playing.  What I mean by that in large part is there was nothing readily achievable that I could be doing that would further the state of my gear.  This is a thing I go through with MMORPGs is that so long as I am making the numbers go higher I feel happy and filled with purpose, but once that elevator reaches the top floor I start flailing listlessly.  Having gone through this so many times in the past, this is the beginning warning sign of me starting the check out process.  Effectively at this point I need to find something to anchor me to the game and rapidly or I will drift away into the ether with the first shiny bauble that crosses my path.

Last week I was anchored with a constant feeling that I needed to be getting Mythics done so I could chase a fabled piece of 370 gear.  Before that on an almost daily basis I was swapping things out for items of better quality, which felt interesting and exciting.  As it stands now I have a few options each week to help me move that needle forward… and it feels horrible when they reward gold or artifact power instead of a piece of loot.  I’ve not done LFR for the week but thanks to Warfronts and the cavalcade of guaranteed loot every twenty minutes…  they have no shine this expansion because I have already upgraded every slot above the bare minimum level that drops there.

I got double artifact power off of the Warfronts world boss in Arathi basin, and gold off the World boss that opened up with the reset yesterday.  I am basically left with two options… find a time when I can raid, or dig in harder with alts.  We are trying to make Wednesday nights at 7 pm CST until 10-11 CST work but we are probably still short a handful of people in necessary roles.  Ashgar my traditional co-tank is still very much in the leveling process because his attention is split between lots of different games right now.  We could do higher and higher mythics to try and get gear but pulling those together has been a challenge.  I should have spent my time last night running Mythics to help gear up Morgull, but instead I sorta did a lot of nothing.

As far as alting goes….  I really want to unlock the Mag’har because I want to start a red shaman.  The only problem there is the faction grind feels horrible…  with no real way of making daily progress other than doing literally every single quest available on Kul’Tiras.  I did that last night, and was bored out of my mind the entire time because at this point…  I have done this several times without it feeling like I am making forward momentum at all.  The grind doesn’t feel good this expansion, and quite honestly….  the only time faction grinding DID feel good was during the era of faction based tabards that you could wear and gain faction for doing other activities.  At a minimum I could equip a tabard and queue for heroic after heroic giving me a constant drip of faction and a bunch of loot to show for it.

Ultimately I think I will pour more of my attention into the Warlock and see if I can stave off the desire to bounce until we can manage to pull together a raid group.

Borrowing Systems

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This mornings post is going to be a little weird.  Just getting that out up front.  Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the Azerite Item system and how lousy it generally feels, but there was something about it that seemed extremely familiar and it took me some time to place my finger on it.  Finally it dawned on me…  the system was in effect the same idea as the whole weapon trait system in Destiny/Destiny 2.  An item drops with a seemingly random set of traits (less random in Destiny 2) and you wind up having to evaluate whether or not the item is of sufficient light level, but also if the traits on it are worth keeping.

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This lead to a lot of generally lousy feeling situations where an item drops of high light level…  but has a crappy set of traits meaning that you won’t actually use the item.  This is what is also happening with the Azerite trait system, because not all of these traits are created equal and some are very much superior depending on your need.  For example when I was working on trying to tank as a warrior, there were three traits that were leaps and bounds better than anything else I could get on an item…  and they so greatly effected my survival that I found myself passing on upgrades that didn’t have them just so I could maintain the same build out.  Now I am not saying that the World of Warcraft devs borrowed this system from Destiny, because I have no way of knowing that.  However there are a bunch of other systems that I would love them to borrow from different games…  and now we get into the weird part of this mornings post as I talk about some of them.

Item Infusion

The problem I mentioned before with Destiny… specifically year one… was the passing on items that had higher ratings because they lacked reasonable item talents.  In Year two they put in a system to largely fix this, and it continues to be viable in Destiny 2 as well.  That system is item infusion which effectively takes the item you like and raises it to the level of the higher level item that you didn’t like…  by destroying it and consuming some crafting resources.  Now this system went through a bunch of iterations but the one that makes the most sense for World of Warcraft is the like items infusion construct, of if you want to raise the item level of a Chestpiece for example…  you need another donor Chestpiece to consume and raise the level of the first one.  The reason why I think this would work…  is because of the way that gear scales now.

Effectively you can get the same item at level 200 as you can at level 273 based on the order in which you do the zone content in Battle for Azeroth.  This tells me that these items are not hand crafted but instead made up of a mathematical formula based on the item level of a given item.  You can see this with World Quest gear where the same item scales from 285 to 340 depending on how progressed you are through your own gearing process.  Effectively that Item Level and the stats associated with it can fluctuate and the item still remains functional, which tells me that they could implement an infusion system without somehow functionally breaking the game.

What this would mean is… you could find a chest piece that you really liked the specific trait package of…  consume another chest piece that has a higher item level…  maybe throw in some materials like ore for a metal plate and even a little expulsom since that is accessible to anyone via the scrapping machine.  There would probably also bit a minor gold charge for using what I am assuming is either an NPC or a Machine to do the item level swap for you… but the end result is the item you like using at a new higher item level.  In the Reddit Q&A Ion mentioned that he wants players to use the item with the higher level …  but they will never reach a point of equity with these talents.  There will always be a better option for specific specs, and as a result a system like Item Infusion might be able to fill that much needed gap.

Bookrocks / Bad Luck Tokens

Another system that I would love World of Warcraft to steal is one that ultimately was borrowed from them in the first place.  In Final Fantasy XIV they have this concept of Tomestones or as we tend to refer to them as “Bookrocks”.  These are effectively a “Bad Luck Token” system that allows players to slowly and methodically work towards a goal regardless of how good of luck they happen to have in dungeons.  They work more or less like the Justice and Valor system used to, but in truth just simply works better.  As you do content you get bookrocks of different types depending on the tier of content that you are doing.  The number that drops also depends on the difficulty of content within that tier… so raid content drops a lot of them… and dungeon content drops significantly fewer.  There are various “roulettes” or random dungeon finder systems that reward bonus bookrocks each day and keep players constantly queueing for the content that you need them to queue for.

At any given time there are generally two types of book rocks available…  the bulk currency for items that are now super cheap and easy to pick up giving players a hand up in catching back up content wise.  Then there is the rare currency that has a weekly acquisition cap on it and often times requires multiple weeks worth of saving to add up to a new piece of gear.  When a new tier of content is released… they add a new rare bookrock and the previous rare offering becomes uncapped and takes the place of the previous bulk.  There is a system to cash in older bookrocks to turn them into whatever the new bulk is.  This allows someone to come back from a long absence and through running current content catch up rather quickly… or at least reach a level where they are viable for modern content.

One of the major problems with Battle for Azeroth is there just is no point to run most of the content.  Islands reward you a currency that only matters if you want to do more islands.  Normal dungeons and Heroic dungeons stop mattering the moment you figure out you can survive Mythic…  which takes much needed Tanks and Healers from the dungeon finder queue making it all the harder for the dps you are leveling or maybe a few months behind the curve to catch up and actually become viable.  Final Fantasy XIV is designed in a way so that it bribes players to do the right thing for the community…  which is to queue for content and do so often.  Since content now all scales…  I would set things up in a very specific way to mimic the sort of systems that Final Fantasy XIV has… and associate daily bonus “bad luck tokens” to them.  Here are some examples:

  • Leveling Content – a queue that includes all of the normal dungeons from Ragefire through Legion
  • BFA Normal – a queue that is all of the normal story dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
  • BFA Heroic – a queue that is any of the heroic dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
  • Islands Normal – a queue that is the normal islands to help folks who can’t yet do heroic.
  • Islands Heroic – a queue that is for the heroic islands
  • Warfronts – if your faction currently holds the Warfront… then a daily queue for that too

Effectively there should be two full sets of gear available to help fix the gaps players have in their itemization.  In the currently system I would say the bulk gear option should be in the neighborhood of 340 and they could borrow the way the catch up mechanics have worked in other expansion of having a vendor that sells you an item that turns into a piece of gear for your spec.  The rare currency would probably be something in the neighborhood of 360 to give you something aspirational for most players to work towards but also not being the best item you could possibly get in that slot.  As new content is released, the base level of these items trickles up each time to match what the new normal is, so as the soft cap for World Quest rewards increases so does this.  Combine this system with Infusion above and it allows you to keep the item that works for your spec but keep pushing its item level up to match the level of content you want to be doing.

Borrowing is Good

So often I feel like Blizzard wants to make the “Warcraft” answer to systems and often times creates purposefully inferior implementations.  Transmog for example is arguably worse than every single game that has a more detailed Wardrobe system.  However we deal with it because we were happy to get ANYTHING…  even though it is needlessly limiting.  Void Storage…  was a horrible system…  but at the time we were happy to get it because we desperately needed bank space.  It feels like each time a new system is implemented… they make it awesome… and then purposefully give it some negative impact.  So you can have unlimited pie…  but that pie is always going to be your least favorite… mincemeat.  A lot of the problems that Battle for Azeroth has…  have already been solved by other games.  I would love to see them start trying to apply those solutions to already solved problems to World of Warcraft, and give the players are more rich and usable experience as a result.

 

Progression Soft Cap

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I’ve reached the point in World of Warcraft where my progression options on the Demon Hunter are greatly limited.  At this point I am 349 item level and unfortunately there really aren’t that many reliable ways to bump that number up.  When Warfronts opened I was able to get a single 370 level item for completing that quest.  Similarly a lot of our weekend revolved around trying to complete the “do 4 mythics” quest because timing is a pain in the ass…  which also rewarded a 370 item.  Lastly there was the opportunity to get a 370 item from the Arathi Basis “fake pvp” boss encounter…  but instead I got double artifact power.  I cannot believe that I am even suggesting this…  but World of Warcraft needs something like the Powerful Engram system to give you weekly opportunities to see some forward movement if they want players to stay interested in the content without resorting to alting.

I am not actively raiding right now and that would probably help this feeling of bumping up against a cap.  Similarly if we could do Mythic +10 we probably wouldn’t be having this issue either.  But effectively myself, Grace and Tam have reached a soft cap that we cannot push past without raiding.  In Destiny 2 there were a handful of events that could be completed each week that gave the player “powerful rewards” which effectively meant an item that was guaranteed to be greater than their effective item level.  This meant that even though I had checked out of Destiny 2 effectively… I was still coming back each week to burn through these three or four systems to get something that felt like progression.  World of Warcraft is largely a “raid or die” system at this point with so much gated behind raiding that there isn’t much of an opportunity for forward momentum.  This however is always the problem…  because they effectively only have the one progression path instead of having multiple paths that all arise at the same goal of a geared player able to do lots of different activities.

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All of that said I am still loving Mythics when we can manage to get five players together at the same time, and I am loving the fact that it does not matter at all what item level the player is when we grab them and drag them into the content.  We grabbed Morgrull last night who was a fairly freshly dinged 120 and got him at least one piece of gear from Freehold.  It also feels good that we are slowly building out this team of players that are capable of doing stuff, giving us a lot more options for the future.  Last night I did not raid with Facepull because Sunday is still a bad day for me to do anything super serious on.  It is very hard for me to commit to being at the keyboard from 6:30pm to 10pm my time with a handful of 5 minute breaks.  Last night I was swapping laundry and alt tabbing back and forth between working on some stuff for today.  I got up and walked away from the screen at several points during the night, and raiding would have procluded that.

As such my hope is that our little gathering of cross server nonsense can eventually turn into a fledgling ten player raid group, that we can get something going on a night that isn’t personally horrible for me.  Something like Wednesday nights would be excellent, and it is making me wish that WoW raiding were 8 player based and not 10 player based because we probably could muster that size of group already.  However we keep adding new players into our gravity well and eventually that will be enough to make something like that happen.  I miss the era of non-guild based raiding and I sorta want to make it viable again.  Sure the whole not being able to trade items across servers is a giant pain in the ass…  but it should still be doable and would allow us to pull in a far greater array of people once we got something rolling.  Not all of my friends live on the same server and transfers are cost prohibitive when you are like me and have an army of alts…  so I want to figure out a way to make this work cross server.

Lastly I thought I would link the podcast from this weekend because it is relevant.  We talk about the life cycle of an MMO and what games do well and do horribly.  We talk about the onboarding of new players, and the revitalization of returning players…  and how many games don’t take them into account at all.  We also talk at length about the end game power creep and how awkward it feels to see item levels matter so freaking much.  The episode has nothing to do with Gorb other than the fact that we didn’t record the 15 minutes of us trying to explain what Gorb was before starting the show.  Gorb is that raisins and peanuts mixture…  no Gorb was a movie with Robin Williams from the 80s…  etc etc.  This is one of those shows that sort of happened accidentally…  since it was a combination of topics that had rolled over from other weeks.  However they aligned themselves with a certain synergy that made for an interesting discussion from a bunch of long time MMO burnouts.

Lastly as you can tell from the first photo I have begun working on my third character…  this time I decided to level my Warlock.  This is one of those marriage of convenience sort of things because sure I enjoy Warlocking…  but mostly this is my tailor/enchanter and I desperately need enchants because they are prodigiously expensive this expansion.  As such I am power leveling the character by crafting a lot of mail pieces and grinding them down for dust.  However I have reached that point where I can technically make weapon enchants…  but I don’t have access to the purple materials yet.  So time to buckle down and grind grind grind to 120 and start gearing her.  I wonder if I can name my void walker Gorb.

Mechanics are Hard

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Last night was a lot of fun… and once again expanded our sphere of influence for shenanigans.  We have not been doing mythics the last few nights because many of our regulars have not been available.  Tam for example is travelling this week, and Mor is being a fake nerd and actually socializing with other human beings in real life.  He somehow doubts his fake nerd status…  but Grace and I both assured him that the only acceptable interaction is over the internet.  So instead Grace and I both decided to step down our nerd status one peg… and communicate with other people online trying to fill the last few DPS slots we needed for a Mythic plus.

I have this aversion to pugging…  and what I mean by pugging is actually posting a group and filling with complete strangers.  Like someone might be a stranger to me, but if they are a friend of a friend of a friend… it somehow feels better.  Last night for example one of our regulars had a friend who was down to run stuff on his shadow priest.  However as yet another French Canadian friend…  I got the impression he was concerned about his English skills and didn’t want to hang on discord as a result.  I mean…  my English skills are not exactly legend but unfortunately I don’t have another language to fall back on.  I totally get it but it did make some of the interactions a little sluggish especially when we started having problems.

I pinged Guild and either no one was watching chat at that moment or they were uninterested.  Whatever the case I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and decided to ping twitter with the above message.  Thankfully twitter answered and my good friend Tart decided to join us in nonsense.  It was around or about this point that I realized…  Tart and I have never actually been on voice or run anything in game together.  It was a lot of fun and we had a set line up of Demon Hunter Tank (me), Disc Priest (grace), Shadow Priest (tart), Mage (widjack), Shadow Priest (friend of widjack).  We analyzed the Mythic+ keys we had available to us… and it was basically Underrot or Temple of Sethralis.  We thought we were choosing the easier of the two and went with the Temple…  we maybe should have gone the other way around.

We have a bad habit of doing things without actually reading the instruction.  Like I have absolutely winged trying to put together IKEA furniture…  and ultimately put something together almost right but not quite…  to the point where it would require me to disassemble everything to fix the problem.  This is why our buffet in the kitchen has no drawer pull.  Our Mythic experiences largely align with this methodology of “Just Do It”, which is fine for learning through failure but not exactly fine when you are being timed in doing so.  The core problem was…  neither myself or grace or wid had actually done Temple of Sethralis on Mythic anything… let alone the timed version.

Basically on every single boss we struggled with some thing that we now were supposed to do on Mythic that was not in place on Heroic…  the worst of these being the “Galvanize” boss.  However with time we figured it all out…  we were just painfully behind the curve of getting a key to upgrade.  However those lessons we learned won’t be forgotten any time soon because we paid for that education with a piece of our soul.  I mean…  if I am being honest…  reading up on an encounter or watching a fatboss video doesn’t really do much for me.  I am one of those people that needs to experience the fight before anything that I learn about said fight actually sticks and becomes permanent memory.

In truth it seems like most of our crew from last night was this way…  like Tart had run the mythic earlier in the week but didn’t really grok what we were supposed to be doing either.  However after last night I am certain that none of us will be forgetting anytime soon and for me at least that is progress.  I was super disappointed however that we did not get extra loot due to the Sign of the Warrior buff going on.  Normally speaking when you run a Mythic you get about 2 pieces of loot in the chest at the end, and with the Sign of the Warrior you are supposed to get an extra piece of loot, which should have been three.  I managed to upgrade my boots though by five item levels, and we got a pair of either cloth gloves or cloth bracers that no one seemed to be interested in.

Regardless of the loot though it was one hell of a fun night and super awesome to actually run something with Tart.  We now have her inducted into the RoboSquid Armada and hopefully she will answer the call for more peoples in the near future.

Weapons Dropped

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Last night did not exactly work as intended.  I had originally planned on getting home and running some Mythics with my friend Grace but that didn’t actually happen.  Then by the time a guild group asked for me to do Mythics with them… I was mostly in the wrong mindset to be successful.  I did however hook them up with a healer friend of mine that was able to make the group work.  Tonight however I need to get started on running my four Mythics required for a chest of raid loot.  In theory we can probably make a group happen even thought Tam is travelling and not available this week.  I am sure I can probably dip into the guild to pick up a dps if we wind up short, since that seems to be what we are always short on.

Instead of Mythical Nonsense…  I ground the Warfront.  Essentially as of yesterday I was short three pieces of gear from having everything 340 or better.  I needed a pair of gloves, a second weapon and a second trinket…  the last I am not entirely certain is an option for coming from Warfronts.  I have not found a great source of everything that can possibly drop from a warfront cache, but what I did find seemed to only indicate pieces of armor and weapons.  At first I was starting to think this was going to be a repeat of my past outings…  as I got two more belts and two more cloaks…  but before the evening was up I managed to also pick up a pair of gloves and a one-handed axe giving me that second weapon.  Now I am effectively down to just the trinket, which means I could run LFR and hope that I get lucky or pick up one of the inscription trinkets.

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This also means that I am largely without purpose when it comes to secondary activities on the Demon Hunter apart from farming faction to eventually push everything to Revered.  I am not contemplating starting to run Warfronts on the Warrior in hopes of maybe getting a reasonable sword and shield option.  I keep thinking at some point in the near future they will make Warrior tanking not feel horrible, and the couple of Warfronts I have run as DPS have been way less enjoyable than running them as a tank.  Its an option… but I am not entirely certain I am ready to dive right back into a gear grind.  I’ve abandoned any illusion of trying to maintain some sort of split mains scenario, and am largely just going to focus on the Demon Hunter for gearing purposes.

That means if I can make one of the Sunday raids… and I am not already locked for the week…  I will just be dpsing as Havoc Demon Hunter instead of trying to do Fury Warrior.  That doesn’t stop the fact that Sunday is a really bad time for me to be raiding so the likelihood that I am going to make many of them… is pretty limited.  It is our hope to get a RoboSquid Armada based raid going on Wednesday nights, which is a far better time for me to be committed to raiding.  Also if I am going to raid… I really want to be tanking since I am lacking whatever stuff makes people care about how they are doing on the meters.

If you are a NA Server Horde Player and are curious what the hell RoboSquid Armada is… check out this post for more details.  It is sort of a dream of mine to kick start non-guild based raiding as a “thing” that actually happens again.  If nothing else we have an in game Battle.NET social channel and a discord that are places we draw upon for building Mythic groups.

 

BFA: The Good and The Ugly

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At this point Battle For Azeroth has been out for just shy of a month and in that time I have leveled two characters to 120 and geared them.  I’ve shared little anecdotes as I leveled and did some of the content, but I have yet to really collect my thoughts about the expansion in one place.  This morning I am going to share some of these thoughts because some things are really working extremely well, and other things are not working at all.  This is by no means an objective list because the majority of the content on my blog is just me sharing my opinion with others.  Your list is probably going to look a little different if you were to create one.  However I feel like it is time for my to share my highs and lows.

What Works Well

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Warfronts

This is not something I thought I would be into at all but I am shockingly loving it.  Now some of that love will probably dissipate as the lure of 340 gear becomes less. I remember enjoying Alterac Valley back in Vanilla because it was about more than just fighting other players.  The Warfronts are essentially all of those elements that I enjoyed divorced from the player versus player interactions I didn’t enjoy. Also did I mention 340 gear?

Mythic+

I am way more into the experience of running Mythic Plus this expansion, in part because my normal circle of folks that I tend to game with… aka the folks loosely connected to AggroChat are also into doing them.  Also it feels like the gear is better this go around than it was the last time… because I got a 355 item from my Mythic 3 weekly chest, so numerically it seems to be scaling in a way that makes them worth it.

Kul’Tiras

Again I was not super sure how I would feel about the split faction islands concept but I really like roaming around on Kul’Tiras.  Once again this gives the feeling of PVP without actually being PVP since not playing on War mode means nobody gives a shit if I accidentally flag myself.  It gives me a whole new playground to roam around in after I have already reached level cap, and I am hoping that they give us more areas as the expansion drags on similar to how they expanded the game with the Broken Shore and Argus.

Dinosaurs and Pirates

I really love the horde content and the feeling of riding Dinosaurs and fighting Old Gods.  Everything about that is on point and makes me extremely happy. Similarly I love the whole Sea Witch and Pirate nonsense happening in Kul’Tiras.  Basically this is Ixalan the expansion and I am loving so much about it. The faction bullshit is still faction bullshit, but at least it is playing out in an interesting way most of the time.

Uldir

While I have not seen much of it, I am digging the whole Mesoamerican Titan thing going on with Uldir.  The two bosses I have seen have been fairly interesting, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the raid.  I think it is kind of shit though that they copped out and didn’t make it a tier set, and instead just made shared armor type sets.  This wasn’t cool in Trial of the Crusader and isn’t really cool now.

War Mode

I love War mode because it single handedly removed the worst players in World of Warcraft from my universe.  They simply do not exist any longer because they are off on their own island full, removed from my field of view.  Bravo for voting them off the island and making a more chill environment for me to run around in. As a result of this… the “enemy” players I encounter are often times helpful… and in turn I am regularly hopping in and helping them out as well.  It is a kinder and gentler Warcraft that I greatly approve of… now just drop the damned faction wall.

What Doesn’t Work

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Crafting

Crafting still feels awful.  Now I give them credit for splitting up crafting into a per expansion thing, because quite frankly that is the only reason why I am dabbling in crafting at all on my Demon Hunter.  However what feels completely fucking awful is the fact that the gear that is actually worth chasing is gated behind running fifteen mythic dungeons to achieve it. By the time I can craft it, it will no longer be worthwhile at all.  At a bare minimum there should have been a weekly quest to acquire a couple of the hydrocore items. Also there should have been a chance of any item over 340 that gets scrapped producing a Hydrocore. While this is less fucked up than Legion crafting was… it isn’t very far off the stupidity meter.

Weapon Drops

Every player I know is struggling to get decent weapons because they are just hard to come by.  I’ve run a silly number of Heroic Dungeons… several Mythics, killed a raid boss, and a slew of warfronts and have never seen a weapon drop in any of them.  I am having to survive entirely off drops from World Quests that seem to get rationed each week in an extremely limited quantity.  Now having written this…  I did get my first weapon drop of the expansion last night from a Warfront, and I will continue grinding that until I get another…  however that weapon came after a chest, legs, 3 pairs of bracers, a belt, another pair of bracers, another belt, a cloak…  and then finally a weapon.  I still feel like they have tuned this expansion drops for the era when we got freebie Artifact weapons.

War Campaign

What if you took the Garrison and the Order Hall but removed anything about it that made it enjoyable.  Then you would end up with the War Campaign that has a few interesting moments but largely feels forced and phoned in.  The missions you can run are boring and don’t really offer anything interesting apart from the occasional faction boosts.  The upgrades to your boat… are largely meaningless and are locked behind things I largely don’t care to be doing. It serves as a way for me to get to Kul’Tiras and nothing more, and all of the flavor that went into both the Garrison and Order Hall is just not there in any way that I care about.

Azerite Items/Heart of Azeroth

Much like the War Campaign this is a neutered version of the Artifact Weapon.  Everything that felt good or interesting has been diluted and spread out over a bunch of artificial bumps in the road where you get something…  but you don’t have an awful lot of choice about the thing you are getting. You get a 370 chest from Warfronts… well you are stuck with an arrangement of sub optimal talents on that piece of gear because it is not like you are going to luck into something else anytime soon.

There are so many ways this system could have worked better.  Maybe if each time you leveled up your Heart of Azeroth you got to choose which talent to learn, and then when you got a piece of gear you got to assign to the 2 or 3 slots available one of those talents you learned.  Then to go one step further… the assignments should be remembered like Talent picks and assigned to a specific spec so if you change your gear swaps Talent loadouts. As it is now… you feel like you have no real choice and have to largely roll with the items you get…  because once you have left 325 land you won’t have all that many options.

Islands

So at face value these are “fun enough” and involve running amok and killing tons of stuff with a group.  These work more or less like Pandaria scenarios… if they were completely divorced of having a purpose. As it stands I don’t get the point.  They are a cool tech that could have been interesting, but as it stands it is a boring and grindy activity that occasionally if you are really freaking lucky you might get a pet or a mount.  Your reward for running them is a purple currency called Dubloons that more or less doesn’t really have a purpose yet. As it stands the currency is used to buy a bunch of items that can only be used on Islands…  but this does nothing to help define the reason why you should give a fuck. As it stands you are forced to do enough to have done five different island layouts in order to move your also largely meaningless war table progress forward.  I can’t even call it a stick, because it isn’t really hard… but it is completely devoid of any carrot.