Fox Battle Buddy

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I am a simple man made up of many rituals.  When one of those rituals is broken… things tend to fly out of control.  This morning is a prime example of this, considering I am getting a super late start to writing a post.  The normal sequence of events was interrupted and in the process I wound up fiddling about for far too long and now am under the gun to produce a post.  In truth I don’t have an awful lot to talk about this morning other than to show you my awesome new mount.  The luck truly has been with me over the last week, what with getting the legendary belt, a 870 ring from the raid… and the drop needed to start the fox mount quest in Suramar.  There are supposedly a whole bunch of ways to start this quest, but I got mine from one of the daily emissary loot boxes.  Whatever the case it all starts with receiving a Torn Invitation, that immediately turns around and unlocks a series of four day long missions in your Order Hall.  From there you get a quest out in Suramar called Volpin the Elusive that involves saving this fabulous mount, or at least the Fox that becomes the mount.  My head canon is that the fox is so grateful for protecting him from the mean hunters, that he decides to be our lifelong battle buddy and going off on adventures with us.  In any case it is a very different looking mount, much shorter to the ground than is the normal case and because of this it makes it feel sleeker.  This is coming from someone who was already used to riding around on the fairly sleek Spectral Tiger.

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Other than the mount I managed to push my paladin across to 110 last night while roaming around in a momentary lag in the dungeon running.  In truth I wound up running a normal Eye on him to help out some guildies, and that gave me the initial push needed to cross the finish line.  The only problem here is that there is one entire zone that I never touched, which means I am not only trying to hit Friendly with Nightfallen but also needing to go over to Val’sharah and do the same for the Dreamweavers.  Essentially the number one priority right now is unlocking world quests.  That will allow me to casually gear this character without really needing to push super hard.  If I just pop over and check to see what pieces of gear are available I should be able to get to fighting condition in no time at all.  Additionally I plan on starting to focus on my retribution weapon whenever I unlock the first gold trait on my tanking set.  The truth is I am far more likely to gear the paladin doing LFR as Retribution than I am as a tank… I just found it super handy for leveling purposes to push up without the threat of death.  It is always handy being able to talk for friends, and being able to pull literally whatever I wanted with zero threat of death is always favorable to killing things quickly for me.  Playing a tank in an MMO feels akin to playing god mode, which is simply something that is hard to get used to NOT having.  In any case… I need to wrap this up and get on the road, but I am sure this weekend will be filled with dungeons and more faction work on the paladin.  Hopefully yours is relaxing and enjoyable as well.

Eorzean Melancholy

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I find myself going through a bit of an odd patch with Final Fantasy XIV, or more so I guess one that has been dragging on far longer than I expected.  When A Realm Reborn launched I was reluctantly playing because my friends were playing.  However something happened along the way and I fell in love with Eorzea.  We drifted apart once our little circle of friends started exiting the game, only to come back a year or so later in full force.  Ultimately Final Fantasy XIV was the game that we left, without really having a reason other than simply running out of things we were able to do.  Mind you… not things we WANTED to do…  things we could realistically do with the gear levels we had without copious amounts of grinding.  When we ultimately came back there was an entire years worth of content waiting for us to explore and it quite literally took every moment up to the release of the expansion… and a bit after it to be able to see and explore all of it.  I cannot remember another expansion for any game that I looked forward to with near the anticipation that I did Heavensward.  While the story content was fun to level through, it was also an expansion of limited scope.  It is strange that getting two dungeons per patch cycle instead of three makes a huge difference…  but it really did and it made each new set of experts feel monotonous.  You would ultimately have the dungeon you liked, and the dungeon that you disliked…  and it always felt like you ended up getting queued into the dungeon you really did not care for.  I am looking at you Neverreap.

Once again we faded away from the game, and while I stayed subscribed this time… I pretty much only poked my head in for new content patches and holiday events.  Recently we made a push to “get the band back together” and start raiding again.  The problem there being that while I am interested in raiding with my friends…  I really want to put zero effort into actually getting the gear NEEDED to raid properly.  When I lay out the options I have before me each night…  I never end up choosing to spend my time in Final Fantasy XIV.  This week another content patch was released, and the game has almost lapped me once again since I was existing in “barely eligible” territory before.  There are several of the new things, like the story content that I can complete right now with my item level.  However to be a proper and reasonable tank I really need to get in and devote some time to gearing.  Unfortunately I really just don’t want to.  It is extremely hard to stay viable in a game that you find yourself only willing to play once a a week.  The malaise has been strong with this game for me, and I am not entirely sure why.  I have always been one to complete each and every holiday and quest that springs up…  and now I have this sad line of broken quests that I never actually finished.  I completed one part of the multi-part burning rangers quest… but never actually finished that up so while I have the armor I have none of the poses.  The Yokai event has been started but I have not actually put enough effort into anything to actually get pets or weapons.  Similarly I realized last night that I apparently completely missed The Rising, because while I kept thinking I will do it someday… I ran out of somedays to do it in.  Finally the Palace of the Dead arrived… and while I have done some with friends I have yet to actually finish any weapons.

I guess it disturbs me how uninteresting all of this seems to me right now, and I have no clue why.  Its like waking up one morning and realizing that you and your best friend… really don’t have much in common.  So often when I fade away from an MMO there are clear reasons why,  this decision or that decision that caused me to get frustrated and quit.  Final Fantasy XIV however is just simply dying from my own neglect and unwillingness to visit it.  On some level that makes me really sad because I am not sure what it was about the Heavensward cycle that made it so much less sticky for me personally than the Realm Reborn.  I think a big part of it is my attraction to loot, and the fact that it feels like there is nothing that I can really do with my time other than hopping on the expert dungeon train.  What I mean is that FFXIV for all intents and purposes is a lootless game… or at the very least a game devoid of interesting drops.  Sure there are chests at the end of dungeon encounters that reward items, but I am talking about is open world free range loot.  I like the fact that in other MMOs there is always a chance, albeit slim that I might get something awesome to drop when I kill any random mob out in the world.  This pushes me to run amok and slaughter everything I come across… in the hopes that this one might be the one that gives me something awesome.  Final Fantasy unfortunately gives me stacks and stacks of crafting materials that I don’t care about, especially since I find the auction house system and selling said materials cumbersome as hell.  So what ends up happening is every mob death feels equally meaningless to me, because there are no situations being set up like that one time I killed a Giant in Stranglethorn and go`dt the Skullflame Shield.

Final Fantasy XIV has hands down some of the best group content, but similarly it is equally boring.  Sure there are the occasional item that has a nifty graphic that you can pick up from roulette, but for the most part you are running dungeons not to get interesting gear… but instead to increment a number of tokens until you can then spend those saved tokens on a piece of gear.  Even then, for the most part gear is an incremental stat stick, that unless you are replacing a 180 with a 220… is not immediately noticeable that the game feels immediately better.  Granted this is a problem with a lot of MMOs when you pick up items that don’t do something.  I am running into this problem with World of Warcraft at the moment in that every single trinket I get just seems to give me a bunch of stats and doesn’t actually do much in the interesting column.  The big problem however is that I just don’t feel more awesome when I put on better upgrades in Final Fantasy XIV… largely because how I judge that “feel” is by my effectiveness to take down random stuff out in the open world.  Since there is nothing actually interesting to kill in the open world…  it is defusing that feedback circle for me.  Ultimately I get gear to feel more powerful taking down things that maybe I once struggled.  It is the “Sand Giant” effect played out in a smaller scale over and over and over for me.  In Everquest there were these mobs called Sand Giants that decimated players in what was ultimately a level 20ish zone called the Oasis of Marr.  However there was a moment of sweet retribution when you could come back at 45-50ish and destroy them and get all of that pent up revenge.  Gearing in an MMO has this same effect for me… as I level there are always big bads that I maybe struggled to take down… and then it feels great to eventually turn the tables on them.  Apart from the early raid content…  I don’t have that experience in FFXIV and I think it is why the open world combat feels so dull to me.  Anyways… this post has gone on far longer than I expected it to, but it still is sad to me… that for many of these reasons…  I am just not finding myself playing much Final Fantasy.

Arbitrary Gates

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Yesterday I talked about my feelings regarding Destiny and the Rise of Iron Expansion.  However I could have just as easily have talked about my insane good luck.  What I mean by that is to the best of my knowledge I am the only person to get one of the new legendaries in my guild, or at the very least only one in as far as the guild activity log on the armory scrolls back.  I managed to pick this up Monday night during a Mythic Maw of Souls… and I am still insanely pumped about it.  The Thundergod’s Vigor works nicely for me… considering how damned much I love to thunderclap.  Similarly I really need to get better about using Demoralizing Shout at opportune times… so Thunderclapping my way to more casts of it also seems awesome.  Then again there is the simple fact that all legendaries seem to drop at 895 item level, which serves as a nice boost for me in that department as well.  Then there is also the added benefit of it being an item from Diablo 3 which only adds to the coolness factor as far as I am concerned.  What I was not however expecting is that it apparently sends out an alert to the entire guild when a legendary drops…  which is in part what makes me think that I might legitimately be the only person in guild with one so far.  I feel extremely lucky, but at the same time sort of sad that these are not dropping for everyone.

A huge chunk of what makes Legion interesting to me is the interaction of these legendary items with the rotations of the characters.  That is the part that I love about Diablo 3, the way a certain item you pick up can completely change how your character functions.  It was my hope that the new legendary system would add some of this element to World of Warcraft, and at least it seems it might.  However if they remain super rare items that you may or may not see ever during your play of the game…  it takes one of the cooler items and locks it away behind at gate that few players are ever going to breach.  For as awesome as Legion has been, there are a lot of items that just feel odd.  For example last night I participated in the first of the LFR content associated with Emerald Nightmare.  I went into it expecting that nothing that dropped would actually be an upgrade for me, but I was however hoping to maybe complete a quest or two.  Now my friend Grace said she was able to complete her skinning quest without issue, however for me… I was not able to loot the item needed for In Nightmares.  Which seems a bit crappy, and has caused Blizzard CS to come out and state that this is “working as intended”.  However it feels like a massive let down to those hoping to complete the Balance of Power quest line and get that item appearance… but that cannot realistically do anything other than LFR.

Granted I am not necessarily in that category, because we have a raid group that is planning on working on this stuff tonight in fact.  It just feels like an arbitrary bar given that for many of us at least we have been working towards that item appearance since the moment we knew it was a thing.  Hell I am even considering pushing my way through some of the PVP objectives just to unlock those appearances and that feels significantly more casual friendly than this one does.  I mean I guess in some way it makes sense, there are large groups of players that seem to want some visual representation that they are “better” than other players.  At the very least this seems to be a vocal group on the forums and twitter, and represented the large chunk of the opposition to the Friendship Moose community and the practice of dragging friends through getting their special mounts.  It is my only hope that we can do some of this for my own guild once we have the bosses needed for the Balance of Power quest line on farm and can realistically pull random people in to get quest steps unlocked.  Arbitrary gating of content and sitting it up on a shelf just too high for players to ever reach… is one of the things that frustrates me about the MMO design.  LFR used to be this happy medium that let people see the storyline, and complete quests associated with taking out these bosses but I guess with Legion that is changing.  While so much of Legion has been this great step forward, this feels like a stumble backwards.

Rise of Iron

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On September 20th the Rise of Iron expansion launched for Destiny, and considering just how damned engaged I am currently with World of Warcraft Legion, the truth is that I had not really spent much time playing the game until this weekend.  On Saturday when we recorded the podcast, I noted some of the issues I was seeing about what seemed to be recycled sections of the Cosmodrome for the purpose of building the Plaguelands area.  There is one entire section that was essentially the same, but with added snow, ice and SIVA/Splicer destruction marks.  What I am realizing after spending some time with the game is that this is absolutely on purpose.  The current cosmodrome and the plaguelands overlap slightly, and it seems as though this area got repeated as a way of explaining to the player visually how the two zones fit together.  After spending a significant amount more time roaming about, I can verify that the plaguelands are massive and extremely unique in geography apart from this one region.  It is really hard trying to make something feel completely new, when essentially you are having to build it out of the same visual language that the first zone of the game used several years ago.  So while much of what you end up seeing looks extremely familiar, there are some really interesting things going on, like exploring the heavily skewed wastes of capsized shipping freighters for example.

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The dreadnaught very much felt like you were invading a dark and foreboding foreign space.  Everything about that dungeon felt like a dungeon crawl, as you explored the nooks and crannies gleaning secrets from every corner.  The plaguelands are much the same, but this time around it is a sprawling outdoor space, and part of the cognitive dissonance is that at least on some level I keep remembering that I am exploring the same cosmodrome complex that I have known for years.  It feels as though I simply got to open a door to a new area that I never saw before… and essentially because of the recycling of that first area that is precisely what happened.  The only disappointment is that the new story elements were pretty short, and while retaking Felwinter Peak was an awesome sequence of quests, and shutting down the SIVA replication chamber was one of the more epic fights in the game…  it all felt extremely brief.  The truth is the amount of content contained within Rise of Iron feels like a DLC addon… and not an “expansion” in the terms I am used to think of it from my MMO roots.  The level cap does not change, and while all of the light levels increase greatly…  the process starts to stall out heavily just five points from the 335 cap I was already sitting at on my characters.  All of this said I still have yet to really scratch the surface of the content, but it just does not feel like quite the same transition as Year 1 to Year 2.  I guess in many ways Rise of Iron didn’t have quite so many wrongs to right, and as such didn’t need to be quite the overhaul that Taken King was.

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Ultimately I am enjoying myself, in spite of the fact that the gearing this time around feels significantly more grindy.  The biggest part of this is the fact that it seems like blue engrams have a hard cap of 340 light.  I spent a good deal of last night when I couldn’t get to sleep running around and doing content out in the world, and with that gathered up a dozen or so blue engrams.  Apart from the ones that upgraded into Legendary, or turned into Strange Coins… every single one came out at exactly 340 light which only serves to be armor materials or weapon parts.  With Rise of Iron, Blue is the new Green…  which makes the fact that I am getting a constant string of 190ish light Greens simply tedious.  Something just feels wrong with the engram system this time around, because nothing shy of a Legendary seems to make a difference.  That means that the real way to move that needle forward is to either grind out faction packages or do heroic strikes…  something I have not really dared to do just yet given the highly interrupted playtime I have gotten so far.  When I do open a faction package however the fact that you can choose between an Armor, Weapon or Chroma package is a welcome change.  It is my understanding that the faction packages have a similar hard cap to Blues, which winds up getting you to 365 leaving raid gear and exotics your only way to push up to the new 385 light cap.  All of this would feel a bit frustrating… were it not for the fact that the moment to moment gameplay feels so damned good.  The biggest problem I have however is the fact that my favorite weapon is an exotic… which means I need a constant flow of infusion fodder to keep moving it forward.

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Since I am also an avid Destiny lore hound… I have to say this expansion is great for many reasons in that it fleshes out a lot of bits of the overall story that were left alone.  Unfortunately most of this happens in more grimoire cards, which are only hinted at in the actual spoken dialog.  For the last two years we have participated in the Iron Banner, as Lord Saladin arrives at the Tower looking for a new generation of Iron Lords.  Now we finally get to learn about the names we have heard during that time like Jolder or Timur.  This is the story of what happened to the Iron Lords and once again the story of the hubris of humanity as it tried to exploit the resources of  the traveler.  While I completed the main storyline rather quickly, I still have a bunch of quests that are slowly playing their way out as I have yet to take on the raid, or do any of the new strikes.  I have a feeling that these will ultimately lead to unlocking the various new quest exotics, and I am hoping giving me more bits of the story.  All in all it seems well worth the $30, but the truth is… you are just paying the upkeep cost on being able to keep current with the game.  The game is once again falling into the spot of giving me something that I can do quickly, without getting to engaged in content that will be hard for me to pull myself away from.  Are you playing the expansion?  What are your thoughts?

A Busy Weekend

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Mondays are always a challenge.  I realize that is the understatement of the year but there is just something extra heinous about trying to revive your week day routines after happily nuking them from orbit over the course of Friday and Saturday night.  Sunday night is always the roughest night of the week to get to sleep, because my body is not quite ready to relinquish the last vestiges of true freedom.  Similarly since giving up the whole weekend blogging thing for lent….  or whatever I did to actually give it up…  rebooting that process each Monday morning is an equal challenge.  This morning for example I have logged in to “check on” several things, all the while happily avoiding actually sitting down to put thought on paper or at least virtual paper.  This weekend was an odd one, but a good one.  It started off Friday night with House Stalwart my guild throwing together an impromptu raid into the Emerald Nightmare.  We did not really have a lot of time, since it was literally thrown together over the course of that evening, but we did manage to go in and one shot the first boss.  From there we started work on the spider boss, but given its moving parts I am wondering if that was the best choice.  In truth ALL of the next bosses seem to have their own madness going on and with it a challenge or two that will force us to shift and adjust to the fight.  We managed to get spider to phase two, which isn’t much of a challenge but at least I can claim it was progress.

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Another thing we attempted this weekend was our very first Mythic+ dungeon… because well Grace and I had keys burning a hole in our pockets.  However after attempt number one, I think we are going to wait to do number two… until we know the dungeons better.  Mythic Plus Halls of Valor… also happened to be the very first Halls of Valor Mythic run for most of us.  As a result we were less than efficient at a number of the fights and failed to get the timer.  That said given the number of wipes we had I think we did fairly well in that our timer ran out around the time we crossed the glowing bridge of nonsense.  So while we failed… we at least failed in style?  The truth is all of us just need a lot more normal mythic runs before we start burning any more keys.  None of us have any of the magical legendary drops that our UI tells us we can currently equip one of….  but I hear they absolutely maybe sometimes sorta drop in mythics.  We were maybe unprepared given that we were also dragging Ashgar into his first mythic ever…  and we went for a timed one.  The truth is I think we just wanted to know what the challenge looked like so we could prepare for it.  I know personally I find it hard to wrap my head around what is needed until I have failed for a bit at doing something.  Similarly we had to fail at the spider boss for me to be able to wrap my head around the videos that I will ultimately watch before we make another attempt on Wednesday.

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Finally I made a significant push on Exeter my Paladin, who is now 108 and about halfway through it.  Not shockingly I ended up dropping Retribution around 102 and have been leveling as a Protection Paladin the rest of the way.  This has allowed me to do things like tank for friends when they need to run lower level instances.  We pulled together an Eye of Azshara for Thalen over the weekend… and I happened to need it as well.  Now I have several more dungeons waiting in the wings for me to do that I may or may not wait for friends to get to as well.  Now that I am so close to 110 I sort of want to push across the finish line so I can start doing world quests and such on this character too.  Similarly I want to get in some Coren Direbrew runs for trinkets before those things go away.  So at a minimum I am probably going to finish out the rest of 108 because 109 allows me to start queuing.  I still think that is a major missed opportunity, in that they should have allowed the Direbrew event to scale with players.  At this moment I have finished Azsuna and Highmountain and have just trudged through the faction bullshit in Stormheim.  The first part of that zone feels so unlike the rest of this expansion, I can only hope in the future they are going to realize that this game feels so much better when you give us an interesting place to explore with its own story… and quit trying to force everything into a dated red versus blue narrative.

Kodra the Prodigy

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Last night I had what is going to go down for awhile as one of my strangest dreams.  The root of it was a roadtrip, that apparently myself and the rest of the AggroChat crew were taking across country.  I have no clue at all where we were going, or what we were actually doing.  However we were in a road trip in a car that was probably too small to fit all of us…  but those are the sort of details that dreams just handwave away.  What I do know for certain is that at some point we stopped at a roadside diner, and while milling around and waiting for everyone to finish going to the restroom I noticed this little girl had a cool vintage metroid championship t-shirt.  I commented that I liked her shirt and she showed it to me proudly…  and that is when I noticed that emblazoned across it in a fuchsia with purple shadow version of the Metroid logo was the name “Kodra”.  Round about this time in the dream Kodra comes out of the bathroom and I point out the t-shirt and he is super nonchalant about it.  This is the point where we learn that apparently he was a child prodigy at video games… and “he doesn’t like to talk about that time”.  We also find out that apparently there is this entire internet sub culture that has been trying to find out what happened to Kodra after the championship…  which in itself is funny given that he goes by that game on our podcast.  It is around this point that the dream starts to break down like every dream does, especially given that I am not sure the timing works.  Kodra is quite a bit younger than I am, so not sure what age he would have been when Metroid was even a thing.  In any case… it was one of those strange dreams that I had to commit to paper as it were.

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As far as “me”, I am doing mostly better… or at least on the road to better.  I feel bad about the weird state of yesterdays post, but I just didn’t have any proper fuel to cobble together a post.  I have been stressed beyond belief for reasons I can’t get into.  Just know that for the most part those events have passed and I think I am on the other side of them.  Cryptic as hell I know but that is about all I can really say.  I have not been feeling great, but I think it is just a side effect of the stress.  Last night I wound up going to bed before 10 pm, and then woke up about midnight feeling like I had slept an entire night.  My body does strange things when it comes to sleep, but thankfully I was able to mostly get right back to sleep.  As far as gaming goes last night, I managed to exist in the “organized gameplay” world just long enough to drag some friends into Heroic Darkheart Thicket for the World Quest that rewarded an 850 wrist.  This was unfortunately good enough that it was worth breaking up my four piece world quest set to partake of the level difference.  After that and finishing up my emissary quest for the day I flipped over to my paladin and continued questing out in Highmountain for a bit.  So far leveling as a tankadin is pretty chill and relaxing, and while I would rather run around Justicar Julia Celeste, I have to say Vindicator Boros is growing on me.  It is kinda fun to run around and be Super Draenei Tankbros.  I contemplated actually transmogging to some of the gear he is wearing to make it even seem more legit, since I think I have a lot of that stuff from the Draenor expansion.  However my purple judgement set matches the purple tone artifact so well… that I am leaving it be for the time being.  Over the night Tam managed to ding 110 so my hope for tonight is to grab him and smuggle him into a heroic to hopefully get some gear.

Don’t Bring Frogs

So this mornings post is going to be essentially a non-post.  The last few days have been a sequence of bullshit that I have had to deal with, and as a result I am having trouble thinking of anything reasonable to write about.  Generally speaking I share my life with you all, and while some of the names are withheld to anonymize the experience the sequence of events is pretty much raw and unvarnished.  This however is one of those times when I can’t really talk about it, but suffice to say it is a bizarre time to exist in my head.  Gaming has always provided an escape for when things are getting just too real, when I can climb inside someone else for awhile and forget any madness going on.  Similarly laughter is something that helps push me out of my own brain for awhile and forget whatever is wrong for a few minutes.  This morning instead of a proper post I am just going to share some videos that I have watched too many times.

 

Nithogg and Mythics

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I am convinced that time slows down when you wake up early… and then attempt to go back to sleep.  This happened to me today, and between 5 and 5:30 I am pretty sure several hours passed.  I kept waking up thinking that surely I had forgotten to set the alarm, and that I had now overslept significantly and would have to rush around in the morning.  However I would look at my watch… and see that it was only 5:15, 5:22, 5:26 etc until finally the alarm went off.  At this point as a person of reasonable life experience… I know that I am probably far better off just getting up and dealing with the fact that I am awake a bit earlier than normal.  Instead I attempted to go back to sleep and I am pretty sure I will now be sluggish the rest of the day.  Yesterday was of course an important maintenance day in World of Warcraft because it unlocked both raiding and mythic+ dungeons.  I however don’t yet have a proper raid team, and last night represented the first mythic I have done yet.  This expansion has been a significantly more casual pace for me… yet still somehow I managed to end up just about as well geared as anyone else out there starting raiding.  I did a doublecheck this morning looking at a friend of mine in the warrior class hall and inspecting him… and I am maybe a couple ilvls behind him in total, and he is a serious progression raider.  This is absolutely been the expansion so far of multiple paths to the end game… which is ultimately what I always wanted out of warcraft.  You can craft your way to madness, or dungeon, or world quest, or raid… but in the end we all wind up in roughly the same destination allowing folks to swap paths at will rather than allowing choices within the first few weeks of a new expansion to forever dominate their fate.

The other cool thing that started up last night was the first of the world bosses.  Apparently from this point on we are going to get a new world boss every week, and the first of these was Nithogg, a monster I have slain in so many games with so many different spellings.  In World of Warcraft I have a particular vendetta against this creature for doing bad things to my Ravenbear friends.  Even though I was reminded during the day… I absolutely forgot to go fetch my re-roll tokens.  This time around they are located where the daily dungeon quests used to be during Wrath on ArcheMage Lan’dalock.  Similar to the birbfolk in Draenor we can purchase the seals with Gold or Garrison… I mean Order Resources.  Once again the prices go up not to subtly nudging you to spend multiple kinds of currency to get them, so the first seal will be 1000, the second 2000 and the third 3000 of either gold or resources.  With the absence of Apexis Crystals… or some equivalent currency we are missing the option to buy three of the “cheap” tokens and are going to have to choose either resources or gold to escalate the cost with.  As far as the boss fight… I did it a total of three times.  The first time I didn’t have any stones, the second I did.. and the third I was testing to see if I could spend more than one token a week.  The answer to that last question is no… and as a result I am stuck with earning 60g for my two attempts.  It is at this point Tam should be happy because he always complains about my good luck…  which in truth is not really a thing, its just that I do a lot of content that can potentially drop good stuff so in the end I get a lot of stuff.  The boss itself is a bit boring, and reminded me quite a bit of the zerg dragons of old but mostly the boss is designed to be that.  I was not in a proper raid group in any of the three times that I took Nithogg on, and sooner or later enough people amassed that someone pulled and the fight was on, with me furiously trying to dodge lightning patches while obeying the rules of fighting dragons…  stay away from the head, stay away from the tail.

The other big happening of the night is that I finally did my first Mythic dungeon.  The biggest problem I have had is when I feel like doing something like this… I lack the stalwart team to pull it together (pun intended).  There are in truth few of us who are really at “mythicable” level, which seems to be around the 830 mark if you want to be safe.  So while we might have 20-30 people on during prime time… a lot of them are still leveling and or gearing.  What I assembled instead was a team where myself and the warlock were the only folks safely in mythic range, and the rest of us were a bit on the undergeared side.  We felt it, but in the grand scheme of things I think we did just fine, especially considering it was my first mythic to tank, and Grace’s first mythic to heal.  The long and short of it is…  shit hits really hard.  Like from the first trash pack onwards it was noticeable that the incoming damage on my side had stepped up a few notches.  It was not unmanageable but it was a constant mitigation tug-of-war with my trying to maintain shield block and ignore pain whenever possible.  Out in the world it always feels like I have all the rage in the world… in mythics however I am constantly hoping for enough rage to set up that next active mitigation.  What they reminded me the most is the way that Burning Crusade Heroics felt, in that if we wanted to…  crowd control would probably smooth out the difficulty curve significantly.  Namely I am thinking somewhere around the Shadow Labyrinth difficulty, for those who are long enough in the tooth to remember how that felt the first few times.  Our particular run was made harder probably because we had a marksman hunter…  which are going to ultimately be the bane of anyone trying to carefully pull a dungeon.  All in all we did well enough and other than the final boss only suffered a single wipe, which I found surprising because I was absolutely expecting issues with the serpent.  It took significantly longer than your average dungeon, but we were being extremely cautious… which is something we are going to have to pick up the pace for when we start attempting keystone runs.

 

Panda Hero

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Yesterday I talked about my journey from bad engineer to not so bad engineer, but that was not at all the only thing I accomplished this weekend.  For some time I had been sitting at three achievements from completing my Glory of the Pandaria Hero meta achievement and obtaining the purty mount you see in the screenshot above.  I guess leading with a screenshot pretty much kills any suspense, but I am going to talk about this regardless.  I actually accomplished most of this during my periods of playing Pandaria back in the day, but for whatever reason I simply was not with the group when they completed Rattle No More, Seeds of Doubt, and I never messed with the super annoying Polyformic Acid Science.  What ultimately jogged my memory is that I wound up getting an enchanting quest requiring me to go gather up various components…  two of which were located in Scholomance and Stonecore which meant me going to the respective areas and soloing a dungeon.  It was during this process that I got one of the empty vials, and remembered how the whole Polyformic Acid thing worked.  As a result I managed to do five of the six kills needed for that achievement during a single 60 minute charge… before using the empty vial and removing it.  What I did not remember is that apparently when you remove and reapply a charge… it gives you a fresh 60 minute buff and not a partial buff based on what the previous timer was when you last stowed it.  From there the actual chore of doing the last two achievements was minimal because with level 110 gear things just sort of fall over.  However regardless I now have one more mount to add to my collection.  The thing is I am in similar places on most of the other “Dungeon Hero” achievements because for whatever reason I never really prioritized them.  I have never been the achievement hunter that Thalen or Rylacus was… but maybe it is time to start changing that.

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As far as last night went, I spent most of it working on questing Exeter my Draenei Tankadin.  I did not realize what a difference harvesting makes to the total amount of experience you can squeeze out of a zone.  Belghast had no harvesting skill, but instead a double crafting combo of engineer and enchanting.  As a result it took me all five zones to be able to reach 110, or at least a fraction of the last zone for me which was Highmountain.  On Exeter however I have done nothing but complete Azuna my first zone… and I am sitting at 104 and roughly half of the way to 105.  I’ve run zero dungeons, and the only real difference is that I am harvesting every ore node I happen across.  However at 900 xp or so a pop those nodes I guess add up, as does the fact that I have plenty of rested experience since I am only playing him a few times a week right now.  The push however is to get to 109 quickly so that I can have another character to start running the upcoming Coren Direbrew fight that comes with Brewfest…  that should start showing up after the downtime today.  Now however is the point at which I am going to ascend my soapbox.  One of the things that the Legion pre-event showed off is just how damned well the content scaling works, and how much more enjoyable an event can be when you allow players of all levels to complete it.  Direbrew has never really been a difficult fight and honestly most of the time you could complete it without a tank in previous years. It just feels odd that in an expansion driven by scaling of content, that they would not also update this event to use it.

As much as I am loving this expansion, there are a lot of things that still make me wonder.  For example Stormheim is this amazing zone…  so long as you completely ignore any factional crap that happens in it.  This is really the expansion of two stories happening at once…  a faction tale of red versus blue that feels grossly outdated, and deep and rich zone specific tales that feel fresh and new.  I realize they probably did not have time to do everything in this expansion and update Brewfest… so they instead simply bumped up the item levels a bit and moved on.  However I feel like at some point they really need to do an update pass on all of these seasonal fights to bring them in line with the newest tech.  Imagine how much cooler it would be if anyone in the game could participate on all of their characters.  Right now this event feels like it is setting an artificial deadline on when we should have been leveled by in order to keep from missing out.  Then there is the issue of the fact that I am pulling 840/850 items from World Quests and the face value of the Direbrew trinkets is only 810…  something that I am hoping can easily War and Titan forge up in level.  In any case I will be doing this event every day on Belghast, and attempting to get my nearest character up to the appropriate level range of 109 so that I can get multiple characters trying to farm goodies.  If nothing else I need to have more characters at the level cap since this does not appear to be something they are going to scale…  because I still am chasing that ever damned elusive Headless Horseman mount.

Bad Engineer

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This weekend was a weekend in many ways about finishing things that I left unresolved for years.  Over the course of the weekend I managed to get in several heroic runs of Legion content.  During Vault of the Wardens… we wiped a lot.  So much so that by the end of the run we were all showing yellow on our paper doll armor portraits.  It was around this time that I saw some text that I dread “Does anyone have a Jeeves?”.  This was quickly followed up by a statement from my friend Grace, “Hey Bel, You are an Engineer right?”.  To which I have to hang my head in shame every time this conversation comes up, because I am a failure as an engineer.  The biggest problem that I have had is the fact that my warrior is the completely screwball combination of Enchanter and Engineer.  Its like I chose the two worst things to level and slapped them on the same character.  The truth is… I used to be the even stranger profession for a warrior of tailor.  When I created this character I had no bag makers, so I decided to remedy that problem.  Then during Burning Crusade I could not get a helmet to drop period.  I went through all of Tier 5 and almost all of Tier 6 still wearing my Tier 4 helmet.  Over the course of a weekend I decided to fix that, dropped tailoring, and power leveled my engineer from zero to the then level cap… and crafted myself a t6 equivalent helm.  The very next week… a helm dropped for me.

From that point onwards I have been a shitty engineer, always lagging behind and never quite having all of the toys that I should for my profession.  During Wrath of the Lich King I swapped mains and instead focused on Belgrave my Deathknight.  So while I farmed the Jeeves pattern, I never actually got around to gathering the materials to craft it, which even at that time were pretty insane.  This weekend during the AggroChat Podcast, I decided to remedy the failure and set forth to farm all of the materials to craft my Jeeves.  The real credit for this process goes to the wowhead user Ketho for posting a breakout of the materials which made me realize this was actually doable.  So during the podcast I farmed the following list of items…

  • 6 – Copper Ore
  • 32 – Thorium Ore
  • 32 – Fel Iron Ore
  • 32 – Adamantite Ore
  • 4 – Khorium Ore
  • 60 – Cobalt Ore
  • 80 – Saronite Ore
  • 48 – Titanium Ore
  • 2 – Essense of Fire
  • 2 – Primal Fire
  • 8 – Eternal Fire
  • 8 – Eternal Earth
  • 8 – Eternal Shadow
  • 2 – King’s Amber

Looking at the list now it seems even more like madness but I set forth to gather it up while we talked on the podcast.  The first goal was Thorium ore, which I set forth to farming in Winterspring which I could get to easy enough through Hyjal.  Remember I am not a miner on my actual engineer so instead for this job I grabbed Tallow my Jewelcrafting/Mining Shaman.  This part went super quickly, and I decided to drop by Darkshore to pick up a few copper nodes to be done with the “Vanilla” section of the list.  From there I took the Stormwind Mage’s Guild port to Hellfire Peninsula and farmed anything I happened across on my way to Zangarmarsh.  I remember spending hours running/flying circles around Zangarmarsh farming Fel Iron and Adamantite… so I focused on this zone until I neared enough Fel Iron.  From there I took the exit from Zangar to Nagrand and flew a path around that zone until I finally gathered the Adamantite I needed.  I lucked out and found just enough Khorium while farming so I moved on to Northrend, where I flew circles around Grizzly Hills until I had gathered up enough Cobalt.  Similarly to Zangarmarsh, I spent most of my Wrath farming time in Sholazar Basin so I quickly gathered up the requisite amount of Saronite I needed there.  Lastly for Northrend was flying a bunch of circles around Icecrown trying to find Titanium.  Here is the point where I cheat a little and tell you all that I had a handful of bars sitting in the bank left over from something so I didn’t really need that much to continue onwards.

The challenge was getting enough elemental stuff to create the Eternals and the Primals.  Before leaving Nagrand I slaughtered a bunch of fire elementals at the elemental plateau which gave me enough to create the two primal fires.  While mining I got more than enough Earth and Shadow, which left me in a similar position needing fire.  I made an attempt at Wintergrasp but Horde was currently holding it, which means the elementals there have a greatly reduced drop rate.  This is the point at which I went to the wowhead and found that apparently there is a lesser known farm spot in Storm Peaks.  There is a cave full of mobs called Wailing Winds  that are nearly instant respawn and have a pretty decent drop rate for the fire.  So after about fifteen minutes of killing them I managed to gather up the mats to do my Eternal Fire.  This left one last component…  the King’s Amber which I initially thought I would simply buy off the auction house.  We had none available, and after looking at how I might actually get my hands on some… it seemed like it was going to be the part of this equation that killed me.  I instead restored to trying to transmute them… which required 2 Autumn’s Glow that caused me to once again fly some more around Sholazar Basin and this time prospect it hoping for the gem I needed.  I transferred the materials to my alchemist… and then was disappointed that apparently old world transmutes still incur the once a day timer.

It was around this time when Thalen told me he would be re-upping his account and was certain that he probably had the needed gem sitting in a bank somewhere.  We then played this game… of him trying to remember who was his jewelcrafter.  Thalen has been gone from World of Warcraft since about halfway through Pandaria, meaning he has slept several times since then.  When he finally landed on the right character, he didn’t have the gem…  but instead said he could swap to his alchemist and do a transmute.  So we played a similar game of trying to figure out which character was his alchemist.  Finally we got the mats and I mailed everything to Belghast to start crafting the sub components.  This is the point at which I realized that I apparently NEVER picked up the recipe for the original Repair Bot on this character from Blackrock Depths.   Prior to Belghast I had another engineer, and I knew that I had grabbed it on that character, but I guess mentally I transposed that event to happening on my current engineer.  I hopped on a mount and flew over to Blackrock Depths, ran in quickly… got the pattern and returned once more to the Dwarven Quarter in Stormwind where I finally combined everything into my shiny new Jeeves.  I had enough mats left over to craft a Moll-E as well.  It was a whirlwind of farming but during the three hours or so associated with the podcast and me doing post podcast editing I am now less of an engineering failure.