Expansion Retail Forgot

Wow-64 2016-08-30 20-26-43-87

Wow-64 2016-08-30 20-26-43-87

Yesterday was of course the launch of Legion, or more so the first full day of the expansion.  I have a lot of memories of acquiring copies of World of Warcraft throughout the years.  When it launched in 2004, I was firstly in the “never pre-order anything” camp, and while there was a line out the door and down the sidewalk at Gamestop… I was able to stroll into Walmart at midnight and pick up my copy.  I remember Walmart having this huge display in electronics, the size you would have expected for a major movie release.  With Burning Crusade, getting a copy was significantly more difficult, but I still managed to roll into Walmart at midnight and snag one.  I did however spent the next few weeks going out at lunch trying to find copies for folks who could not for whatever reason seem to get it in their area.  When Wrath was released, once again I did the Walmart at midnight thing… and this time there was actually a line.  I had an awesome conversation with another warrior tank while standing in line waiting on our boxes.  However by the time Cataclysm came around… I believe that was the first expansion you could purchase a digital collectors edition and I did so happily because I was getting “too old” to be doing this midnight madness.  I had reached that point in my life when I just wanted to be able to log in and play, and didn’t care too much about how that happened.

With Pandaria I somehow ended up with another physical collectors edition, and at this point I don’t even remember how or why.  Now traditionally speaking around here… World of Warcraft Collectors Editions rot on the shelf.  Not in a large quantity, but up until recently there have been a couple of physical copies of Warlords of Draenor available at various stores.  I have a second account, and could use a second key… so yesterday I checked a few places to see if there happened to be one available.  The idea was that I would ultimately trade that CE key with a friend who just got the normal copy, given that I already have the digital entitlement on my battle.net account.  That plan however backfired in the most spectacular of ways because no one seems to have Legion in any form, let alone Collectors Editions.  Throughout the day yesterday I heard tales of Amazon switching orders to arrive on September 29th, and listened as several friends had to dodge and weave to get around this delay.  Throughout the day I checked Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Gamestop…  none of which had so much as a single copy.  When I looked up Legion on the Best Buy website, it stated that there were no copies available in a 250 mile radius.  250 miles includes the Dallas Metro, Kansas City Metro, Fayetteville/Bentonville Arkansas area, Wichita Kansas, and Oklahoma City.

I refuse to believe that every single copy sold out, because that just seems impossible.  What seems far more likely is that there has been some massive shipping mishap, that involved delays to the central southwest.  The result however is that it feels like Legion was the expansion that retail somehow forgot.  While Warlords of Draenor was supposed to be this expansion to invite people back that had been gone a long time…  it feels like Legion is actually delivering on that promise.  It is going to be sad if it somehow misses its opportunity simply because the copies of the game are not available.  The truth is… my only interest in a physical Collectors Edition is the fact that it includes the soundtrack.  I wish that they would add that to the list of digital entitlements that you get when you buy the collectors that way.  I can also always use a new mouse pad at work, so there is always that bonus as well.  I however more than anything wanted to walk into Walmart and see a big display of pretty new copies of the game, in the hope that it might entice players to return.  It has been great seeing players coming out of the woodwork for the first time in years, and I guess part of me wants to see that continue.  Pretty boxes sitting on a shelf taunting you when you go to get groceries… seems to be an awesome way to guilt players into coming back.

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As far as the expansion itself…  so far I am enjoying myself.  It is a much slower paced expansion, but that is precisely what I had wanted.  I spent all night playing the game, from the time I got home around 5ish until when I finally went to bed around 10:30.  During that time I managed to make it to level 101 and about 15-20% into level 102.  As I had originally planned I went Fury this time around… which is quite honestly the first time since the launch of the game that I will not be leveling my Warrior as Protection.  I am sure somewhere something is turning over in its grave…  but more than likely it is just the old me that used to take pride in saying “Real Warriors Level Prot”.  Fury is fun as hell, but there was a period when I started on the artifact quest… that I questioned my decision.  I am guessing that maybe these quests are just a little “overtuned”… because I remember in beta thinking they were rough.  I died probably no less than a dozen times when I tried to do this as a Deathknight, and I probably took a half dozen deaths as a Fury Warrior.  Towards the end I was super carefully picking my way through the zone a single mob at a time, and kicking myself for not bringing any food into the quest.  That was ultimately the hardest part was that I had no real way other than bloodthirst to get back my health.  I finished it however and once I started Stormheim… everything leveled out and I have had no problem taking down any of the starred mobs solo.  So far I am enjoying the hell out of myself, but I don’t feel like I have spent enough time in game yet to give it much more than a thumbs up.

Legion Without Rushing

Wow-64 2016-08-30 06-20-12-21

Wow-64 2016-08-30 06-20-12-21

This morning feels a little odd, for many reasons.  Firstly I got a good nights sleep, when normally in the past I would have made a failed attempt to get up in time for the launch of a new expansion.  In fact there was a point last night where I woke up at 3:30 in the morning…  a mere 30 minutes after the servers went live and thought to myself…  I could get up.  Then instead I rolled back over and went to sleep again.  Always in the past I have felt like I was chasing some goal that I never could quite catch.  I knew I could not take the amount of time that my friends like Kylana did, and push through during 24 hours of solid play time.  In fact when I logged in this morning I was shocked to see that he was only level 102, which seems slow for him.  I’ve heard however that this time around, the process just takes longer and that power levelers who have practiced it on beta say it is going to be around a solid eight hours to get to 110.  Which means for someone attacking it more casually you are looking at ten to twelve hours.  The strangest thing about this expansion is that maybe I have finally realized there isn’t a rush.  In the past I had my reasons… and those were namely an attempt to be a viable tank for folks to run dungeons with while we leveled.  My favorite leveling experience was likely Burning Crusade, because I was a fledgling tank and excited that everyone seemed to need me to be able to run dungeons… which at that time were significantly better experience than doing pretty much anything else.

During the launch of Wrath I remember leveling mostly through dungeons in a similar fashion, but when the change happened to Cataclysm I noticed that worked significantly less well.  It was as though folks just didn’t want to run dungeons in the same manner that I was used to.  In fact I remember going through a bit of an existential crisis at that time because it felt like there was only one dungeon group worth of folks willing to run dungeons at a time.  More often than not I ended up the tank left out in the cold and unable to get groups.  Now the truth is if you asked other tanks they probably would have felt the same, because we went from being the most valuable commodity in the guild…  to one of what felt like the least valuable over night.  By the time Pandaria rolled around I found myself still rushing to keep up… but never actually running the dungeons until I hit maximum level and was desperately trying to gear.  Similarly with Warlords I got drug through a few dungeons as dps, but mostly to knock out the quests as they came available and not so much as a leveling vehicle.  With Legion I am not even planning on leveling my Tank artifact first, but instead focusing on Fury which seems extremely fun to me at the moment.  So since I expect to be leveling almost entirely by doing the content… especially since saving up those dungeon quests can reward 110 level gear at the end, I also don’t feel that need to rush around.

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I logged in this morning long enough to do the teleportation of Dalaran to the Broken Isles and to rebind at the now Gilnean run Inn there.  I completed a few quests but stopped just short of delving into the lengthy quest that will ultimately end in me getting my artifact weapons.  While it was odd to not try and push through it this morning, I knew that all it would end up doing is making me have to rush horribly to get to work.  Instead I will have that waiting on me for when I get home and fight through the now inevitable server queue.  The thing is… that is perfectly okay.  If I am in a server queue that looks like it is going to take some time…  I have other things that I can do.  I can poke my head into Destiny since I have not been there in a good while, or I could go out into the back yard and go for a swim.  In any case I am trying to approach this expansion at a much more measured pace.  In the past I have rushed my ass off to get to the new cap, and with it beginning a lengthy gear grind.  Every time in the past I have always managed to burn myself out in the process to where logging in every night is a misery.  I now have a proper army of alts to tend to… and I fully expect to get each and every one of them to 110 before starting on the next round that have yet to be leveled.  I say all this with certainty… but really in the back of my head I have my fingers crossed that it will work.  I am hoping that I can fight my own tendencies and take things slow.

The Horizon

A few days ago I saw this tweet from Grimsley, and meant to say something about it…  the other posts happened between.  I had not exactly put it into words but I have been noticing the same thing.  Initially I thought it was simply me that was no longer excited about these new games, but then I noticed that not that many folks in my otherwise MMO-Centric twitter feed seems to be getting excited either.  Sure there was an up-welling of folks playing Black Desert Online a few months back, but it felt like a splash in the pan compared to when folks shifted to Rift, Wildstar, or a plethora of other games to come up on the MMO front over the last decade.  Recently I ended up picking up Riders of Icarus because I had friends playing it…  but after a weekend of playing have not touched it since.  I had a very similar experience with Skyforge, where I played it for a week and some change, and then once again I was simply done with it and back to other titles.  There seemed to be this period of time where there was constantly the next big thing on the horizon… but that era appears to be dead and gone at least when it comes to AAA MMO titles.  Every now there are flareups, like with the launch of The Division.  However it feels like the era of the western published MMO is also good and dead, which might be part of the reason we stopped looking forward to these “next big things”.

South Korea is going through a bit of a renaissance still, as evidenced by the number of new MMOs coming out from there… that are often times localized for the North American market.  The big problem there is that I have found that I don’t really get into these games nearly as much as I did to their western fantasy counter parts.  Sure I played ArcheAge but the story of that game was largely nonsense, and I kept playing just because it gave me a huge world to explore full of lots of super intricate systems.  Blade and Soul I had a similar experience, where no matter how good the localization team did at making awesome relevant jokes…  I just didn’t find myself caring one little bit about the Hongmoon School.  In both cases a story is being told, that fundamentally feels like it was not intended for me to be playing it.  I am not saying that is a bad thing necessarily, because not every game has to be for every player.  The only problem is this is an added depth of “gunshy” that I have when I see an otherwise cool looking game that comes from the Korean market.  Another big part of the bounce factor for me is the inclusion of player versus player as the eventual end game.  That is not something I am likely to ever enjoy, especially not in an open world setting…  and as I entered that area of the world in ArcheAge it felt like the world around me got significantly less intricate because our time was supposed to be spent fighting other players.  Of note I am currently subscribed to ArcheAge so that game clearly left its mark on me, and caused me to dig in rather than bounce off, but I feel like it might be the outlier rather than the rule.

What I am finding however is that instead of looking forward to a new game coming to ride in on a white horse and save me from other MMOs…  I am looking to games that I have loved in the past and the content that they are creating.  I have always been one of those players to go back and revisit old games, and currently I have accounts active in Rift, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV.  Additionally I poke my head in every now and then in Wildstar, and Everquest II to see how those games are going.  Essentially instead of following new games, I find myself following patch notes to see which game has something so interesting that I have to leap back into it for awhile.  Star Wars the Old Republic for example completely changed the way that game works, and at some point in the near future once other games die down a bit, I have a feeling I will be falling headfirst into the new content.  Similarly there is a lot of awesome stuff going on in Elder Scrolls Online, and at some point I want to return there and gobble up all the new fruit hanging on that tree.  I find that I am very much still a “content locust” except in this case I find myself returning to games I have already explored, rather than continually venturing forth into brand new worlds to stake my claim there.  There is this rich wealth of games that have survived, and sometimes even thrived… and I just seem to place my focus there instead of looking to the horizon.  A prime example is that as of tomorrow the next few months of my life will be dominated by the World of Warcraft Legion expansion… and then in October at Fanfest I fully expect the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion to be announced so we can begin looking forward to that as well.  There are still objects on the Horizon, they are just linked to other objects that are already familiar.

Belghula Rising

Wow-64 2016-08-27 23-56-55-65

Wow-64 2016-08-27 23-56-55-65

This week marks the last week of the Legion Invasion event, and with it goes the insane leveling elevator that many of us have ridden over and over.  At this point I have every slot on Argent Dawn Alliance filled with level 100 characters, and over the last bit of this week I have been pushing Belghula my female Orc Warlock on The Scryers.  Scryers is a linked realm with Argent Dawn and when that occurred I made the choice to roll a complete set of Hordies over there, so that I could hang out and play with friends I had other the other side of the server.  The Argent Dawn community has always been an odd one, and for a period of time we had a thriving official… and later unofficial server forum.  I still somewhat wish I had not killed the domain behind that forum, but at that time I thought I didn’t really want to be playing World of Warcraft anymore.  In any case I have a large community of horde friends that I love dearly, but never got to play with.  When I purchased Legion I ended up using my boost to create a level 100 Tauren Paladin and I even got to raid over there for a period of time…  until Sundays didn’t really work that well for me.  Now I am pushing up a second 100 to have a more balanced set of characters to play.  Something happened and I decided that I don’t mind casters… and even really like the Warlock so that ultimately is the one I have decided to push.

Last night during the podcast I managed to get her to level 95, so it should be relatively trivial to finish off and ding 100 today.  Similarly I have an Orc Deathknight waiting in the wings as well in the 60s… but I am not completely sure if I am going to push it hard or not.  I would like to at a minimum get it to 80 because the Cataclysm/Panda/Warlords grind seems much faster than getting a single character through Wrath of the Lich King.  I’ve talked about this in the past, but content design has changed a lot since Wrath and quest stacking was a much harder proposal back then than it is now.  By quest stacking I mean gathering up a bunch of quests related to a specific area and then burning through them all at once.  As far as the Cataclysm/Panda/Warlords grind… I feel like I have that one down to an artform jumping zones each time my adventure guide lights up telling me there is a new zone to jump to.  The most interesting thing about the whole experience however has been seeing how folks have broken the event over their knee and abused the hell out of the system.  The other day I talked a bit about the idea of resetting the event, but ultimately decided that it just made it a boring grind.  Some folks however have apparently taken this process to the extreme.

Last night I was sitting in the Crossroads minding my own business and working on the event, when someone broadcast a message across general talking about an Exp Grinding party.  They had auto invite scripts set up so that if someone typed 1 in chat it would throw out a raid invite.  The level of organization was impressive, even to the level of asking those of us who happened to have two seated mounts to use those and give rides to the players who were on foot or on slow land mounts.  From there we took a very specific route, killing what I feel was probably the optimal path through the mobs.  There were several times were we paused for a second to wait for the next mob in the sequence to spawn in… or when she went off to pull one that was within range to burn them down at the same time.  I cannot state how impressive this level of organization and cooperation from players actually ended up being.  She shouted the next target to general so that anyone else NOT in our raid could also reap the benefit.  The real coordination however was that when we finished phase three she told everyone to log out, and disbanded the party.  The idea being that when everyone logged back in they would potentially be in the same Stage 1 event.  I went ahead and finished out this event and moved to the next zone instead, but I have to marvel at how well that worked.  In truth I don’t want to really abuse this event, because doing it legitimately provides more than enough experience and loot for my tastes.  That said I guess this method probably works much faster and provides and endless supply of experience in one of the easier zones that the event is taking place.

Introducing Luna

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This is the Luna, and you all have not been properly introduced to her.  There has been a reason in part because we have been trying to see if she would ever get accustomed to living in our world.  Roughly a month ago after losing Chloe we went to a pet store… because sometimes playing with the “babbys” makes us happy.  They however were having some “clear the shelter” event, and the store was full of animals hoping to get adopted.  We of course went back to look at the cats, and the shelter showing there was one that we had gotten several animals from in the past.  They had some really lovely animals, but nobody really tugged at our heartstrings, so I was fully expecting to exit the store and get on with our lives.  It was at this moment that my wife deviated from the course.  Instead of exiting the building the decided for some reason to turn down this row of dogs.  We are not dog people, and while other folks dogs are cute and friendly…  we are not exactly the type to look at dogs regularly in pet stores.  Now up until this point it seemed like the store was very clearly segregated into the “dog” area and the “cat” area, but as she got to the end of the row of dogs she found a cage with Luna in it.  She was there all alone and looked frightened to be mixed in with all of these dogs.  The shelter showing was from roughly an hour and a half away from the Tulsa area, and literally had the one cat.  We spent some time with her, taking her into a walled off area…  during which time she was affectionate but also spent most of the time just exploring the confines of the area.

As we went about our day my wife started to warm to the idea of bringing home Luna, but we also had a bunch of errands to run.  So we did the whole thing of…  “if she is still there when we get back, we will consider it”.  Turns out that sure enough she was still there and that the folks from the sheltered hoped we would be back by.  Traditionally when we bring a new animal into our house we set up a little sequestered environment up in my wife’s office with a separate litter box, and food… and kinda keep the cat walled of for a few days to get adjusted to the new environment.  Then when we start letting them out into the house as a whole, the office serves as a bit of a safe place for them to keep going back to.  So far this process has not gone as planned.  Traditionally when we get a new animal the moment we decide to let them out into the house… they are happy to go exploring.  Luna on the other hand seems to be afraid of the outside world.  Now when we talked to the shelter folks we specifically asked about how she did with other animals.  They specifically said that she doesn’t really like dogs, but is completely fine around other cats.  So far however that has not been the case, because she is not blending well.

Kenzie our youngest admittedly can be a little butt, and even though Allie and her tolerate each other than can still get into spats.  Luna and Kenzie specifically do not get along at all, so what has ended with these moments of taking her around the house with us and closing off a room so she would be comfortable.  We tried to just start opening the door to let her out of the office, but then found that she simply was not eating and drinking.  I guess she was afraid to leave the area of her bed to cross the office to get to the food dish.  After moving that closer to her bed and into her safe area she started eating like we would have epected.  Now she expects me to bring her wet food every morning, and meows at me until I have done so.  Over the last week I have been opening up the office when I get home from work hoping that she might take the initiative to go out and explore the house.  She seems to be less skittish about the other cats, or at the very least has begun to fight back against Kenzie.  They really had not gotten into a real fight up until now…  but it was a lot of meowing and making sounds that are extremely similar to “oreo”.  The last few days however she has run Kenzie out of “her” room a few times, so she seems to be getting a little bolder.

Yesterday however was a bit of a turning point, of a sort at least.  I opened the office door when I got home, like I have for the last while, and I went upstairs to check on her a few times where she wanted copious amounts of attention.  However late in the evening I heard her out in the loft, and next thing I know it she was walking along the banister and staring down meowing at me.  So I went upstairs and gave her more attention, and apparently she settled into the top of the couch and took a nap.  When it came time for bed, I went upstairs to shut the office thinking she had retreated, but she was still sitting in the loft happily perched on the couch.  At this point I made a decision and just left her alone, hoping that maybe she was finally starting to get comfortable with the house.  Now over the last few weeks there have been several times where my wife took Luna to bed with her, since she goes to bed way earlier than I do most nights.  She would shut off the bedroom and before long Luna would be snugged up on her.  When I came to bed I got the job of being the bad guy and taking her back up to the safety of the office.  I could tell she was hungry and thirsty because as soon as the office door was shut she would bolt from my arms and run to the food dish like she was starving and then make her way to the litter box before coming back to me for attention.

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Apparently last night she got lonely up in the loft, and found her way downstairs to the bedroom at 1:30 in the morning.  This caused a massive cat fight, or at least a massive amount of noise and motion.  To which Luna went under the bed, and the other cats were scared out of the room.  After trying to calm down the babies it was around 2 am… and I simply could not get back to sleep.  I did not finally get back to sleep until 3:30 or so… so at this point I am groggy as hell.  However it feels like progress.  Throughout the night she kept braving getting up on the bed with us, only to run off when another cat entered the room.  The whole experience has to be equally traumatic for them, and I have been trying throughout this to be wherever Luna was not so that they had some sort of stable anchor to go hang out with.  So as the night went on we alternated having Luna in bed with us, an having Kenzie and Allie with Luna under the bed.  Once we finally got up and around I carried her back upstairs where once again she went to get food… but this time I didn’t close the office door.  She didn’t seem to mind at all and went about her normal business…  and was quickly begging for wet food.  A few minutes ago while typing this, she was back out in the loft meowing down at me…  so even though it was a rough night for me personally with the whole not getting much sleep thing…  I am hoping that we made actual progress.

She is a very sweet cat, and I think she will do well with the others…. if we can ever get past the phase where they are scared of each other.  I thought it was high time however to introduce you all to her.

Empty Island

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This is one of those days where Bel is struggling to exist in the world.  As a result I am not exactly sure how cogent of a post you are going to get out of me.  In theory I went to bed early last night, but in practice that does not seem to have actually helped.  In fact this morning I feel more sluggish than I have in a long time.  So I wobbled through the house, fixed a cup of coffee… and then immediately fell into an internet hole as my brain tried to do literally anything it could do to keep from writing a post this morning.  As a result it is like 30 minutes past the normal time I sit down and begin writing, and I am still finding I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about.  Last night I did two things… Invasion and Witness.  I feel like I have talked about the Invasion to an extremely length, and there isn’t really much there to discuss… especially since it goes away in a very few days.  There are issues right now with players leaving after phase 2, in order to reset the event back to phase 1.  This is making phase 3 a little hellish, but all in all it still provides a silly amount of experience, and I am still attempting to get the Horde Warlock up as far as I can make it before the event runs out.  I also have the AggroChat show devoted to The Witness this week, so I am playing it in spurts as well.  I am not really sure what exactly I can say about it other than that.

The game is extremely beautiful, and I like the world it is set in.  Much like Overwatch however I just wish it was a different game.  Ultimately I went into this game expecting Myst, and it is definitely not that.  I am realizing that the reason why I enjoyed those games is that the puzzles felt like I was uncovering a story.  In Myst you were essentially chasing Atrus and unraveling what happened to the different ages and what exactly was happening with Sirrus and Achenar.  In 7th Guest and 11th Hour you were solving mysteries and the puzzles lead to giving you clues about what was going on in both of those games.  Witness on the other hand seems to just be puzzles for the sake of being puzzles, and the truth is after solving thirty five or so last night… I am already bored with it.  The biggest problem is…  what I thought would be some story payoff for the puzzle solving just turned out to reward me with a super pretentious video of James Burke from 1978.  I guess that is the problem I am having with this game… it exists to be itself.  There just doesn’t seem to be a point, or at least any glimmer of a point has yet to reveal itself.  Which is I guess a bit sad given how generally good the game is at teaching you how it wants you to solve the puzzles.  There is just enough friction there to make the moment it all clicks to be enjoyable…  but it also doesn’t feel like it is leading to anything.

The other problem I am having is that the game seems to want me to visit locations in a certain order, but does nothing to actually restrict my movement.  As a result I wound up at a puzzle long before I was supposed to be there.  There were a series of screens designed to teach me the lessons I needed to know to unlock said puzzle, but I didn’t find them until I had already completed the puzzle that used those elements.  So I feel like this is a game where my general desire to get off of the main path… is going to cause me a significant amount of trouble.  Right now I am not a huge fan, but I am going to continue playing to see if that changes.

Imaginary Band

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Wow-64 2016-08-25 06-23-15-46

Yesterday a good friend of mine from my Wrath raiding days, showed back up in my life suddenly.  Now this isn’t exactly a strange occurrence because folks know that I tend to be the ring leader of a network of gamers.  I am the one that tends to be good at maintaining connections with folks regardless of what game we happen to be playing.  So an attempt to get in touch with me, generally also means an attempt to get back in touch with a gaming core of friends.  The strange part of this whole experience however is when a few years pass between speaking.  In this case, it seems like every few years our paths cross, the challenge being that large swaths of time pass between and my memory is often times spotty at best.  Thankfully most people are super forgiving about me remembering the super granular details…  and I seem to be relatively good at the large picture as a whole.  The thing with the impending release of Legion next week is that this has been happening an awful lot in my life.  Running around and doing Events, means that I have casually bumped into a lot of folks from my past…  some of which I was interested in rekindling friendship… and others not so much.  We talked about the mixed bag that playing World of Warcraft since launch is on the podcast this weekend.  There are friends that I adored, and would still do damned near anything to help…  and then there were folks who were super toxic influences and lead to a lot of the anxiety ridden struggles I had as a raid leader.  Coming back to this game… and the server I have played on since the beginning of it all…  means I am ultimately going to confront a good deal of both.

I remember thinking yesterday how cool it would be to “get the band back together” because I miss raiding with some of these people.  The key word being “some”, because ultimately I don’t really want the band back together at all.  I want a revised image in my head of the band.  I want this amalgam of a bunch of different raid teams, from a bunch of different eras of the game.  I want to create the “All-Star Team” from my memory, but the thing is…  my All-Star team is not really the best players.  I found out my ideals for who I wanted to play with were vastly different than that of my friends during Cataclysm.  We built what we supposed to be the “best” team to raid with, for 10 man…  but my best was completely different than their best.  Ultimately when creating my team I would want to play with the folks I had the most fun with…  some of them were also the absolute worst at standing in fire.  They were fun to be around and invigorated my enjoyment of the game, and I didn’t give a damn if we had to take forever trying to learn this fight or another because their presence made me happy.  It is moments like these that I realize I play a vastly different game than most people do.  I play a game made up of the people sitting behind the screen at their keyboard, hanging out with me on a nightly basis… and not a game of abilities and number crunching.  At the end of the day for me at least, playing for victories is ultimately a hollow experience unless I did so with the people I enjoy playing with the most.

In a lot of ways this is what makes the Final Fantasy XIV raid group so special is that it is a bit of an amalgam of the two.  These are all people that I greatly enjoy playing with, but at the end of the day are also extremely good at the game.  Hell there are so many nights I feel like I am the “bad” that is being carried to victory.  While I largely said I would swear off raiding in Legion…  there is a big part of me that wishes he could form this same sort of group in World of Warcraft.  I want raiding to be a focus on having fun with friends and doing something together that we can’t necessarily do apart.  By the same token though, I don’t want to be concerned with damage meters, or reviewing the logs after the raid.  I don’t want to care if someone stood in the fire too long… or if we could do something more efficiently.  I want to just have a night hanging out with friends, talking on voice chat and killing bosses…  hopefully getting some sweet loot in the process.  The problem being that I don’t think World of Warcraft is that game, or at least its raid game… isn’t that game.  Final Fantasy XIV I can go into a fight not knowing anything about it… and learn everything I know from a series of attempts because it messages the mechanics extremely well.  World of Warcraft, I realistically need to read the dungeon guide and some third party sites to fully understand the mechanics of the fight and what I am supposed to be doing to counter them.  That is a huge difference, because one I can discover the fight with friends… and the other feels like homework.

Legion launches next week and I really don’t know what it has planned for me yet.  I am enjoying the game, and I am enjoying making my own way through it.  I am not sure if raiding will be part of that greater picture, but in the end I am going to try going with the flow.  So many times I have had a raid that I knew I was gearing for, when an expansion launched.  As a result I felt like I needed to push through the content to get raid ready within a weeks time.  This time around…  I am more focused on which character I am going to level first and which zone I am going to start in.  I have never gone into an expansion before with a complete set of characters, and ultimately liking something about each and every one of them.  If enough of these old familiar faces stick around… then I think I might want to try my hand at raiding again.  I am not super concerned with doing much more than 10 player/flex raiding if I do however.  Another thing that I would really like to do is set up a night to work on older raid achievements and get folks some awesome mounts.  I know there are several tiers where I am one or two achievements away from my own mounts.  The problem being that there just are not enough nights in the week to try and schedule things on, and continue to play other games.  Whatever the case I am trying my best to go into the Legion expansion with an open mind, and not really focused too tightly on what I am going to do… and when I am going to do it.  This is undiscovered territory for me, and it is going to be interesting to see what comes of it.

 

Can’t Quit It

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Finally Finished

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For most of this week I have been coming up with events in time when I thought I would be finally finished with the Legion Event.  Last night by all purposes should have been the end for me.  I managed to get the final item I was missing on my Demon Hunter, and you can now see the pretty spreadsheet is now at least largely complete.  Early on I decided that trying to get an offset weapon for everyone was going to be absolute futility.  Instead I started focusing on the weapon that I thought I would actually level my character with, so for my Paladin that meant a Retribution Two-Hander and so on.  Lodin my hunter I managed to get both a spear and a bow just because on my very first invasion I got the spear and had the foresight to immediately swap loot specs.  On all of these characters, I am not squabbling over who has Warforged and who doesn’t because I realize about an hour into the new content everything I am wearing will have been replaced.  All I was really looking for out of these events was a way to ease the leveling transition from “just dinged 100” to “ready for legion”.

Most of my characters before this event were sitting in a pretty raw 630ish state because I leveled them up and then never really played them.  My goal is to change that with Legion since on every single character there is a spec that I really find enjoyable.  The weird part about this for me is how I am suddenly no longer mentally blocked against casters.  I had a lot of fun recently leveling my Priest and Mage through the Legion Event, and I had an absolutely blast leveling my Warlock legitimately.  For years I have had this thing against “Finger Wigglers” and anyone around me for more than a few minutes in a game is likely to hear about it.  I am not sure what changed, but I have a feeling it is related to Final Fantasy XIV.  Over there I actually and legitimately enjoyed leveling as an Arcanist, and have been enjoying doing the Palace of the Dead as a Scholar.  Similarly I really enjoyed the little bit of time I spent leveling Black Mage, all of which maybe whittled down my resistance to not wearing plate armor and wielding a huge weapon?  The only bad part about all of this is that I have next to no good cosmetic gear for cloth wearers, so at some point I will be wrecking old content as a Warlock in the hopes of fixing this transmog gap.

The Keep Pulling Me Back In

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So last night for a brief period of time I thought I was good and done with the Legion Event…  then I got home and noticed that they were active in all six zones at a time.  So I decided to dip my toes into the pool and see how the waters were…  and next thing I know it I am running around zones with only a ground mount chasing the wave of folks clearing the content.  Doing the events on a low enough level character that cannot fly is frustrating… but shockingly effective.  At the beginning of the night, this was my level 24 Orc Warlock named Belghula…  and at the end of the night I was sitting at level 54.  Remember a few days back when I posted about Lore’s comments?  It doesn’t matter if their intent was to allow players to catch up their alts or not, the end result and the subsequent tweaks have made that exactly what the Legion Event shines at.  I realize I could be doing something else… and I even should be doing something else…  but I am having a really hard time stopping the machine.  This elevator ride has such good music and interesting prospects that I keep getting right back on it.  I am honestly not sure if I have enough time to get this one all the way to 100 before the end of this event, especially given that I really need to be doing other things…  but if nothing else I have leap past the old world content that I find the most frustrating right now.

Cataclysm was not good for the old world, and right now the leveling experience feels extremely disjointed.  The clear flow of zone to zone feels broken, given that a few minutes into each zone you’ve leveled to the point where you really should be moving to the next one.  There are two sides of me that are in constant competition when I am leveling.  The side that wants to finish quests… and the side that realizes the most efficient way to level is to jump zones the moment the Adventure Guide highlights and shows you have a new quest to start a brand new area.  I realize I am leveling with full Heirlooms… and that is a side effect of that, but in truth I am largely doing that so that I don’t have to worry about gear until I reach the end of the tunnel.  Nothing would make me happier than them releasing heirloom items for the rest of the slots, because that helms me circumvent one of my instincts while leveling characters.  I love getting gear… but more than anything it is that I want to be as well geared as I can be at any point in the process.  So I keep looking for upgrades so that I don’t feel “weak” while leveling, and the presence of heirlooms means I am at least geared “well enough” at every step in the process.  At least on some level though, it would be nice if the experience boost was something you could toggle off if you wanted to “stay awhile and listen” as it were… and experience the content as it was originally designed.

A New Tank Enters

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Down to Goblin Town

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This morning I am having one hell of a hard time getting started, largely because it feels like I don’t really have a whole lot to talk about.  It was a Monday night, and that means raiding in Final Fantasy XIV.  However it was also a night that I was seeming to have a pretty frustrating migraine headache.  So in truth it was a good thing that we were breaking in a brand new tank… or at least one new to our group.  Pixel Executioner I am pretty sure is something that once upon a time I knew from the Blog Azeroth community, but thanks to the miracle of the fact that everyone seems to be connected on the internet I am getting to know him again thanks to Neph.  Pix had apparently never quite finished the original run of Alex so we started our evening there, with turn four otherwise known as “Burden of the Father”.  This went down in really short measure, and so long as you are tanking the boss…  you really don’t have a clue there are any mechanics that need to be dealt with.  The only thing as the boss tank that you have to worry about is Discoid which signals you are just about to take a ton of damage.   As a result this was the absolute perfect first tanking foray of the evening to break him into the rhythm.

After that we moved into the next part of Alexander and ran through the next four turns.  The awesome thing about this is that it gave me a nice little break between fights to kinda chill out and try really hard to forget my head was trying to kill me.  I am pleasantly surprised where we have come as a group, because I remember struggling a little bit when we first did Alex Midas, but last night it seemed really easy.  Well that is until we reached turn seven…  which has a significant amount of madness going on.  The awesome thing there is that we finally learned how to mechanic one of the phases.  Previously the answer to getting through the fire jail was just to have rez ready to go to bring back whoever happened to get locked in it.  Instead this time we learned that during the fire phase you just stand still and do nothing until your group brings you out of it.  If you move however… you die… and we were trying to do stuff and move…  which is apparently a bad idea?  The best part about the night is that we managed to actually finish the second Alex for Pix.  We were coming down the to the end of our normal run time, and I honestly thought we did not have anywhere near enough time to finish.  However we managed to pull a victory out on the final boss… having only gone about five minutes over our normal close time.

It was a really great night and apparently luck was on my side.  For awhile now I had been sitting on one of pretty much all of the items needed for the various armors that require two items.  Over the course of the evening apparently the game decided it liked me, because I won a significant number of rolls and suddenly shot up in item level.  I managed to complete the arms last week, but this week I managed to complete helm, boots and belt bringing my item level up to a respectable 113.  At some point I really need to spend some time getting back in game and finishing off my weapon in Palace of the Dead, because there were several moments last night when the fact that Pix my co-tank had one… made it harder to maintain threat.  In all honesty I have been struggling to remain interested in Final Fantasy XIV.  I am enjoying raid nights, but I am simply not wanting to put any of the other time in to make sure I am geared enough.  Which I know has to be frustrating to my raid mates.  I feel like I am fairly horribly geared as a whole, at least compared to what I could be.  The problem being when I sit down after a long day of work… I keep logging into World of Warcraft instead of Final Fantasy XIV.  Especially with the launch of Legion happening next week… my FFXIV time is likely to continue to be in Triage mode for awhile.

Listless

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The past week was hyper focused on a single goal… getting Belgaoh my monk from 53 to 100.  The weird thing about this process is that once completed… I am finding myself drifting a bit without purpose.  The above screenshot is unrelated to anything, but I thought it looked cool so you are getting it with this mornings post.  Starting yesterday I begin finally running my stable of characters through the Broken Shore content.  I managed to snag all of the toys, and troll shoes transmog from my single leel 100 horde character, and on my second time through on an alliance character successfully got the bonnet cosmetic item.  I am assuming that tomorrow there will be a new step on the quest chain being patched in, and this time around we will actually do the moving of Dalaran to the Broken Isles bit.  Tonight is our Final Fantasy XIV raid, so that means I will go into this weeks patch not having run Broken Shores on the bulk of my characters.  At least in theory the content isn’t going anywhere so I shouldn’t feel that much of a rush to push through it.  I think this content will essentially be the “welcome to Legion” content for everyone from this point on wards.  I will say it was really strange buzzing right past the quest starter for Cataclysm, Pandaria and Draenor on the monk.  I think I have all of the quests sitting in my log, because they are given automatically when you zone into Stormwind, but I am not sure when if ever I am going to do them.  At this moment I am contemplating using the Timeless Isle port to get to Draenor, but then again that would mean I need to open up Pandaria to get to it.

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Even though I have completed one journey to 100… I am finding that I cannot seem to quit the Invasion Event.  A good chunk of yesterday was also spent running characters through the event trying to get the last few 700 items for each.  I managed to finish off Lodin and Tallow last night, which leaves Gloam, Exeter and Belglaive all needing a single item slot.  Belglaive is a little more complicated because I used that character to purchase the pet, and as a result he is still missing several of the purchased pieces of gear.  I just need to run ANY instances on him to get that finished off.  I do have his Glaives upgraded to 725, and I have started a second set mooching off of everyone else’s spare tokens to upgrade them for my eventual Horde demon hunter.  I wish the other weapons worked like this, in that they were bind on account and you could pass them around as needed.  Some characters I have gotten more than my fair share of weapons… and then others like Exeter have yet to see a single one.  I have this feeling that ultimately it is going to be Ex my Paladin that I will continue to run events on, as I try and get three weapons for him.  The other big thing that I need to accomplish before this event is over is to try and find the Demon that spawns in Orgrimmar and Stormwind and get a Fel Spreader toy.  I failed to get one the two times I tried it yesterday, with the one in Orgrimmar bugging out and running back to the Doomsayer and fading.

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The big thing I have learned over the years is that I have a lot of fun playing World of Warcraft, so long as I have a goal in mind.  For example this last week has been a blast as I leveled my way through to 100 doing events.  In theory I could pick a Horde character and start doing the same, but I don’t really have any that are nearly as close to finish as my Monk was.  Doing the event without flight was a pain in the butt, and I am not sure if I want to go back to that frustration right now.  If I was going to pick a character on that side of the fence I would probably pick my Warlock since I have really enjoyed playing my Alliance lock… and I have full cloth heirlooms.  Similarly I have full leather heirlooms, but of the leather classes the one I am most likely to play… is the Demon Hunter, which is easy as hell to get to 100.  I do however have the cash to just go ahead and outfit my plate heirlooms up to 100 and then push something else that I would likely play.  My Orc Deathknight is sitting at 60, so flight is possible, even if it is a slow version.  I might be fun to be able to use this event to play with one of the other specs like Frost or Unholy.  If the next goal is NOT the event however… I need to pick something be it Mount Farming or Dungeon Achievements because so long as I can keep a list of things I want to do… I will be able to stay engaged in this game.  I really am having a lot of fun being around all of these people again.  It is a bit like a reunion, because everywhere I turn on Argent Dawn I keep running into familiar faces from the past.  I know we have roughly a week until the official launch of Legion, and with that comes a whole new set of goals so I just need to keep busy in the meantime.