Exploration and Magic

mtga-2018-09-28-06-36-13-688

desktop-screenshot-2018-09-28-06-24-58-17

Last night was one of those nights where I was driven by a purpose…  one that was over relatively quickly.  For the last month in Elder Scrolls Online there has been a Summerset expansion themed event where they have been challenging users to go out and get the Summerset Pathfinder achievement.  For doing this the community could earn rewards…  first a pet, then a mount and finally a nonsense house.  It was the nonsense house that really drew me out of the woodwork and while I feel bad that I did not participate until we had hit 100%…  I still wanted to get on and do the thing before the event expired which is I believe at some point today.  I have no clue when I will actually get my baubles but regardless I did the thing and saw the really pretty land mass known as Summerset in the process.

Now I am going to go back to not questing there until I managed to make it there organically.  I am really stubbon and weird about wanting to do content in the correct order… and even in systems that claim not to have a correct order…  I try and determine the optimal order.  For example in World of Warcraft Legion… the correct starting zone was Azsuna because that was the zone that had the first tier of profession quests (minus mining which was weirdly in Highmountain).  So I always started characters there in order to get them access to tradeskills as quickly as possible.  Similarly I could play the Star Wars the Old Republic content in any order I choose… yet I did the leg work to research the order in which it was released and have played through it in that fashion.  This is effectively what I am doing in Elder Scrolls Online as well… because I am odd.

mtga-2018-09-28-06-36-13-688

The other thing that I played a significant amount of last night was Magic Arena which as of yesterday went into Open Beta.  Now several of us have been playing the Alpha and Closed Beta for awhile now, and are sorta sad to see our stockpile of cards go away.  They did a big wipe of everything between the Alpha/Closed Beta phases and in theory will not do another wipe period (unless there is some catastrophic issue that comes up between now and release).  I had enough gems that I managed to purchase my way back into my favorite deck so far… which is Mono Black Creature Burn.  This is by no means my creation, but I do plan on spending some time tweaking it eventually, and maybe even trying to build in for paper magic as well.  It only has a value of about $15 in physical cards so it is a pretty great entry level option that can be pretty brutal.  I’ve never run up against anyone playing something similar, and I think the way it works catches a lot of players off guard because it does a lot of things that deal damage to the player but mean me in the process…  allowing me to break out a Chainer’s Torment pretty early for a massive creature in the process at a stage of the game that they can’t really handle a 12/12.

That said it is completely weak to any sort of creature removal and you can chump block it for days…  but the deck also has a bunch of flyers to get in and plink away at anyone with an army of ground creatures.  If you end up with a board stall…  there are cards like Fell Specter, Vampire Neonate and Vampire Sovereign that can hit the opponent directly without actually attacking.  It has a good deal of hard creature removal, so you can sort of selectively remove their big bruiser.  It doesn’t have any ramp to speak of with a bunch of one drops that deal significant damage quickly like Viscious Conquistador...  that deals a point of damage to the opponent just by tapping them regardless of how combat resolves…  it can add up fast.  However in the above game the opponent lost because they got mana screwed… not because of some skill I had.

mtga-2018-09-28-06-36-36-562

If you have ever played Magic the Gathering in the past, I highly suggest you check out Arena.  Hearthstone is cool…  but it isn’t Magic.  This is finally Magic the Gathering for the Hearthstone world and does an amazing job of delivering fast and fun gameplay.  You start off with a selection of Mono Color themed decks, and then each day there are quests allowing you to earn additional multi color decks… like today I picked up Chaos and Mayhem which is a themed Black/Red deck from the looks of it revolving around Rekindling Phoenix.  I am hoping this means I will also get back my beloved Explore matters deck… either that or I will get the tokens needed to build it.  One of the key differences between Magic Arena and Hearthstone is you get tokens that are good for one card of a specific rarity, instead of having a crafting system.  In some ways this is awesome, because you can swap a mythic placeholder for any mythic of your choice…  but there is no way to break down the cards you have no interest in to fuel the ones you do.  Basically it is a trade off but the placeholder tokens seem to still be pretty prevalent.  This makes getting a Mythic Placeholder feel awesome, because you know you can trade it for the card you actually wanted to pull from that pack.

img_20180928_063049

Lastly it was requested that I get pictures of outdoor cat…  this is from this morning when I went out to feed and he was so much more interested in nomming the food than getting his picture taken.

img_20180801_085206134_hdr-1

This is from awhile back when you can actually see a little bit of face to go with the gratuitous munching.  It is a sweet baby, but unfortunately we are full up on cats… and another family has pseudo claimed him as theirs.  If they do not however let him come inside as it starts to get colder we may have to change that stance and at a bare minimum let him become garage cat…  since our girls likely would not take kindly to his presence.

Protecting Sanctuary

eso64-2018-07-24-06-15-17-45

Tomorrow is the official launch of Blaugust and I am pretty freaking excited about it.  I think last I checked we had something in the vicinity of 52 blogs signed up and I am hoping once the first topics start rolling in that number will keep incrementing upwards.  July 25th through July 31st I have dubbed the Blaugust Prep Week, and what you can see from me and hopefully the other mentors is a series of posts talking about how to get started.  These may range from technical discussions of WordPress vs Blogger vs Tumblr to more general discussions of picking a format for your blog or coming up with a name you won’t immediately outgrow.  For the participants however, they should view this as a time to stretch their legs a bit and prepare for the month ahead.  Get some of those early posts in so that you can sort out your own personal blogging rhythms.

Since we had a few more folks sign up I figure I should link their stuff here as well.

New Participants

Once again if you have not taken the time to sign up, please do so.  Considering we have all been there before deciding if we should be blogging at all…  I promise you can do this thing.  When you have signed up make sure you pop by the discord and come hang out as we chat about bloggery things.

eso64-2018-07-24-06-15-17-45

One of the weird disconnects thematically that I have in Elder Scrolls games has always been the Dark Brotherhood.  For the uninitiated, the Dark Brotherhood is a group of assassins that answer the call of the Night Mother.  Around the game world individuals perform a ritual known as the Black Sacrament that calls on the Night Mother with a very specific prayer “Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear.”  This prayer is heard by the Night Mother and relayed to the Listener of a specific sanctuary which then goes and seals the contract.  We as players traditionally carry out these contracts that involve taking the life of someone who has generally speaking wronged someone else.

So you would expect that from within the Dark Brotherhood everyone would effectively be blood thirsty assassins ready to kill at a moments notice.  While the last bit is true…  the Sanctuary has a very different feel on the inside.  The Dark Brotherhood represents some of the most weirdly sweet content in an Elder Scrolls game.  The members all take care of each other like a family, and when you return home the various other assassins are generally happy to see you.  There is something almost weirdly wholesome about the whole situation, and ultimately I think that is what makes the experience all the more unsettling.

eso64-2018-07-24-06-18-16-59

Ultimately every tale of the Dark Brotherhood tends to end in the same manner, and I am wondering if the tale told in Elder Scrolls Online will be the same.  There are several characters that I genuinely like…  like the Nord who sheltered a scared werewolf girl and adopted her as his sister.  Every game seems to have some characters that you just feel protective over…  in spite of the fact that they are legitimately cold blooded killers.  It is a bizarre juxtaposition that makes me completely uncertain how to feel about any of it…  but it is also one of those guilds that I always look forward to seeing the storyline.  It is progressing much slower than the Thieves Guild did, and I can’t say I am any better at getting a kill in without being noticed.  That said it doesn’t really seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things as I can simply hide out until the heat and my bounty clears.  The thieves guild and dark brotherhood skill lines are amazingly complimentary…  and my only complaint so far is that I cannot assassinate folks during the thieves guild dailies without triggering “being seen” and reducing my timer.

May the dread father guide your blade.

Traders Row

eso64-2018-07-23-06-17-21-22

This weekend the Discord was super active with folks talking about their blog and various related topics.  I am traditionally super bad at following any sort of social media or chats over the weekend.  I barely respond to instant message or text either because I am generally engaged in something that takes all of my attention, either that or running around.  This weekend we went out junking for a bit which was extremely fun, and got this amazing ice cream at a “from scratch” sort of place a town over.  I had English toffee and my wife had cotton candy and both were phenomenal to eat while we roamed around looking through the various junk shops.  I mean they are all labelled as “antiques” but really…  if it isn’t a junk shop I am not terribly interested in looking at it.

We had a few more people sign up for Blaugust which is awesome.  If you have not done this and are at all considering it… please fill out the form link and join us in this madness.  Onwards to the new blogs… one of which has yet to get complete set up but we are going to mention her anyways.

  • Alli – To Be Determined…  but think the name “The Parent Trope” was chosen via the discord this weekend.
  • Void – A Green Mushroom

One of my favorite things this year is seeing us spread out.  We’ve got several sign ups that listened to either the Massively OP Podcast or Geek to Geek and then I am seeing other interesting references showing some word of mouth from folks I am not sure if I even know who they are completely yet.  The other thing I find interesting is several of the comments are written in a way as though they think maybe I don’t know who they are.  If you are a long time reader of my blog and a regular favoriter or commenter regardless of the venue…  blog, twitter, wordpress reader…  I promise I know who you are and am super happy anytime I see you pop up in my notifications.

It isn’t often that I link my podcast from the weekend in my Monday morning post but maybe that is a thing I should do more often.  This weekend it is directly related to the sort of weekend I had, namely it is a show where we largely talk about Elder Scrolls Online and our recent renaissance with that game.  At this moment myself, Ash, Tam, Kodra, Void, Neph, Thalen and Lyle are playing it more or less in various states of “active”.  I believe ToadChild and Eliyon are also playing as well but I have not really seen them online…  either that or not as a name I would recognize them as.  We have a pair Miko and Uldane14 that seem to be leveling together in Morrowind because their levels stay synchronized but never respond to guild chat so not sure who they are.

One of the things you have to realize about House Stalwart in Elder Scrolls Online… is this represents the last great guild that I tried to build.  That is not to say that I have not done my fair share of recruiting for various guilds and continue to do so to this day.  Stalwart on ESO however was my last guild building experiment where I attempted to get all of the people who know me and all of the people they know together in one room…  and over night blossom into a guild of like 150 people at the launch of the game.  We had folks that I knew from various games I had played, folks who worked on said various games…  lots of members of the blogging and content creation community including Dulfy for a bit because we had bumped into each other during the alpha.  It was a massive thing and so long as folks were willing to abide by the three tenets they were welcome.

The only problem with that is there are a large number of people in the guild that I do not remember at all.  In fact there was at least one person I kicked recently that was the ex-husband of a good friend of mine who left her under some seemingly shady conditions.  When there is a situation like that I tend to punt the spouse as a precautionary measure just so at some point in the future there isn’t a moment when they are both online and forgot that they were both in that same guild.  Anyways this is not at all what I intended to be talking about this morning, but suffice to say there are a lot of people in the guild and since you can technically be in five guilds at once… not many have left.  I have two guild slots left, and in truth one of those could be easily pruned in a pinch because I think we only used it as a private extension of the guild bank.

eso64-2018-07-23-06-17-21-22

The thing I actually wanted to talk about this morning is how my opinion has shifted in relation to a topic from this game.  When it first rolled out I remember myself being extremely frustrated by their version of the Auction House system.  I had gotten used to games like World of Warcraft that had overarching global Auction House systems that allowed you to within moments search everything that was available for sale.  It felt extremely efficient, but in hindsight it also has lead to practices that I am not quite so down with like the various gold making schemes that involve playing the Auction House and looking for bargains.  This isn’t my jam… because I don’t really have that day trader instinct and as a result it always just seemed to unnaturally inflate the price of things making it harder for me to get what i wanted.  I remember receiving threatening messages in game from a bag making cartel when I dared to break their agreed upon price point and sold some bags for less to move them quickly.  I told them if they didn’t like it… buy my bags and relist them but otherwise I will do whatever the hell I want.

So for the uninitiated instead of an Auction House system, Elder Scrolls Online has a series of Guild Traders that are located throughout the world and in clusters that can be found in most towns.  I tend to personally refer to these areas as Traders Row and in most cases they are fairly close to the Wayshrine making it easy to pop over and check them.  Now each Trader is bid upon by various guilds in a blind bidding scheme for a fixed bid cycle, and then that guild is charged a weekly rate to maintain the guild store.  I have no real first hand experience of this other than one of my guilds regularly has an active trader somewhere in the world.  When your guild has a trader you have the ability to sell items on the guild store to anyone who happens across your trader and decides to open the inventory and purchase something.

eso64-2018-07-23-06-18-22-87

This has a lot of interesting side effects… namely that all traders are not created equal.  The traders that are in higher rent districts for lack of a better term…  areas of that have higher churn from the player base tend to have much higher prices.  So I am sure over in Summerset, the brand new expansion the prices of items on those traders would be artificially inflated to account for the fact that in order to win that trader… the blind bid that guild had to put up was likely extremely significant.  Now the inverse is true as well… if you find some trader in a backwater area that isn’t even a main city…  the items you find on that vendor are likely going to be extremely cheap.  This creates a cycle of being able to find bargains…  if you are willing to go do the leg work.  There is technically a search engine for items… but it isn’t very complete and requires that people be running an addon that updates the pricing.

Instead what I did on Friday night was spent roughly two hours popping around from town to town looking for deals.  I was ultimately trying to complete the Dwemer crafting set, but in the process I also completed the outlaw weapons and the rest of my mercenary armor pieces.  This process involved taking a way shrine to what I thought I remembered as one of the main towns in a region, making my way to the traders row and searching each of the vendors looking for any of the items I currently was hunting for.  What should have been tedium…  honestly felt pretty enjoyable.  Each region has its own feel and its own group of people that prefer to frequent it.  For example like I have talked about how Shornhelm is my home in this world…  there seems to be people that feel that way about almost every city.

Over the course of several trips to various guild traders, I found myself noticing a lot of the same names hanging out around them.  It feels like a trader may anchor a guild to a location and with it gives the world a tangible destination feel that has been lacking from other games.  The world is massive, but it also feels lived in…  populated with players who happen to prefer one area to another and go there to deal with their “upkeep”.  Just like I preferred Iron Forge for years… and later the Dwarven Quarter…  you can prefer Elden Root to Daggerfall and it is perfectly okay because there is nothing that you can get in one location or other other that makes one superior.  I guess that isn’t entirely fair… given that you need to go to a faction Capitol to get your Undaunted dailies but that really isn’t that big of a deal.

In a game with instant travel…  it has been interesting to see how many things are there to keep you connected to one location over another.

Blade of Woe

eso64-2018-07-19-22-28-55-38

First off with some business to attend to that is Blaugust related.  The very awesome Chestnut has been maintaining a twitter list of all of the folks participating in Blaugust 2018 that are on that platform.  Next up I was asked to participate in a couple of blogs, one with recording a promo that they could edit in and another actually sitting down and talking a bit about the event.  Those have both made their way into production as it were, and first off you have my promo that appears near the tail end of Geek to Geek Podcast with Void and Beej.  Next up I recorded a bit with Syp at the tail end of the Massively OP Podcast, but in both of these cases you should totally listen to the entire show because they are excellent.  I always enjoy the conversations that happen between Void and Beej and then  Syp and Bree as well so two shows always worth listening to.

Over the last few days I have not done the whole morning Blaugust updates in part because the sign ups had slowed down a bit.  However with the spots on the two podcasts we seem to have had an influx of new folks.  On the sheet I ask where folks heard about Blaugust, and so far one of my happiest moments is when I get a submission that says something other than the equivalent of “Bel Told Me” because that means we are spreading out and expanding our reach.  At this point we have 48 blogs signed up to participate and we still have some time before the festivities actually start…  I am cheating a bit with that number because technically one has not signed up but I know it is incoming.  If you are wanting a list of all of the participants and mentors I am keeping a google sheet with only the relevant information in it for folks to use on blogrolls and the like.

New Mentors

New Participants

As always though there is plenty of time to get started.  Pop over and fill out the sign up sheet to get registered, and then pop by the Discord to hang out with other Blaugustans.

eso64-2018-07-19-22-28-55-38

In gaming news, last night I started the Dark Brotherhood series of quests and so far they are pretty freaking cool.  This was always one of my favorite guilds in the Elder Scrolls games because I like the whole Sithis and the Night Mother thing going on as well as the fact that in spite of being a bunch of blood thirsty killers…  there is this interesting family dynamic happening.  This sanctuary is no different and there are some really cool things happening from the sounds of it, and I am interested to see how the events fold out this time.  The Dark Brotherhood quest lines tend to go in a specific direction…  as do the Thieves Guild to be honest.  The Elder Scrolls Online Thieves Guild was in fact a traditional Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  so I have certain expectations of how things are about to go here as well.

I am not very far into the quest line and have only done a few contracts, but I am absolutely and completely down with how Blade of Woe has been implemented in this game.  I like that it just gives me an assassination ability instead of making me wield a freaking dagger.  I am not a stealthy character, but the truth is…  Dark Brotherhood is probably going to make me one because I am not sure how long I can pay the upkeep of constantly having a couple thousand gold in bounties on my head.  Now the first trait in the DB skill line seems to reduce the amount of bounty gained when someone witnesses a murder…  but regardless I need to be at least a little stealthy in my hits.

eso64-2018-07-19-22-18-45-14

I do not really like forced stealth mechanics, and my brand is more about charging into battle in a nonsensical manner and as a tank gathering up all that enemy hate.  This is not conducive to the Thieves Guild, but you can absolutely go in that direction with the Dark Brotherhood.  If you want to complete a mission by making sure there is 100% body count… then by all means that is a thing that can happen.  However it becomes painfully obvious that every one of those kills is going to cost you in the long run, with a very tangible bounty associated with it.  I came out of one mission with roughly 5500 gold in bounty on my head…  and while I could have waited awhile for that to drop I made my way to the nearest outlaws refuge and took care of it rather than be hassled by the guards.

Now that I have gotten slightly better at using Blade of Woe I am doing a better job of getting those kills in unnoticed and as a result reducing that gold footprint.  This game is teaching me to be stealthy and while it is weird for me to say it…  I am actually enjoying it more than I have in pretty much any other game.  I was extremely proud of myself the first time I got into a building unnoticed and back out without having to use one of the magical stealth baskets.  The mission I ran at the beginning of the night involved roaming around a palace and it mostly felt easy to go where I needed to go because I am starting to develop the reflexes needed to sneak about.  There is a certain muscle memory that I am developing that I have never really had in the past.  In other Elder Scrolls Games the only reason why I ever used sneak…  was to land a bow shot with the damage multiplier.  This time it feels like it allows me to move around freely and avoid entanglements I might not want to deal with.  All in all… still having a blast even though I was initially grumpy with the forced stealth.

Understanding Hew’s Bane

eso64-2018-07-19-06-22-16-77

eso64-2018-07-19-06-22-16-77

I’ve officially hit my first snag in Elder Scrolls Online since getting over the Stonefalls hump… and to be honest it is mostly my own damned fault.  I have been playing through the expansion content in the order it was released, which means after the amazing experience of Orsinium I immediately started work on the Thieves Guild content.  I approached it as though it were a fully realized expansion area, and I think this is where the issues arose.  I have been at times frustrated when it did not seem clear where the next quest in the sequence was after completing the previous one.  I thought this was just a quirk of the design and part and parcel with playing through what is effectively a clandestine group.  I would come back to base and there would be one or more notes for me to read, which would ultimately lead me to the next destination.

Now this has worked more or less because my play time has been limited the last few days, meaning I am not making a ton of progress in any given night.  I have also been doing the daily quests that involve recovering some artifact in a very tomb raider style, or stealthing your way through a dungeon to collect some items and then getting back out before the timer runs out.  Apparently the fact that I am doing this… and my recent slow progression has been masking something that I did not grasp at the first.  The Thieves Guild is not DLC content in the way Orsinium was where it is a self contained storyline and a bunch of supporting quests that ultimately weave themselves together into a fully realized brand new zone.  It is adding another guild to the game… much like the Mages Guild or the Fighters Guild…  and as a result it requires you to progress to a certain rank for you to get the next bit of quest.

eso64-2018-07-19-06-23-57-15

Last night was the first night that my sequence of running missions and daily content did not push me far enough to hit the next rank… and as a result unlock the next bit of the main story.  As a result I am starting to really rethink my process of playing through the content and it makes me feel like I should really be starting the Dark Brotherhood content as well.  Since that is also a new guild being added to the game, it is likely going to roll out its story in a very similar fashion meaning there might be lags between batches of content.  So I feel like tonight I will do my batch of things that I can do in Abah’s Landing and then move forward to the Dark Brotherhood content and see how far it will take me.  Ultimately if I hit stopping places in both guilds then there is always the Imperial City for me to give a shot, as I spent the other night roaming around Cyrodil trying to collect some of the Skyshards I was missing from there.

In truth as far as pure story content goes I guess the proper order would be… the first three faction chapters of the game based on your starting faction, then Orsinium, then Morrowind and finally Summerset.  I am not really sure how the Clockwork City works into the sequence of events.  I believe it is an offshoot from Morrowind and considering I don’t specifically have a quest starter for it yet, I may need to be progressed to a certain point before being able to start it.  Ultimately I should have been working on Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood while I was wrapping up Ebonheart Pact…  but I guess I will know this in the future as I alt.  Consider the Champion Point system, alting seems way more viable than I had originally thought.  There is also tons of content that we have not seen related to the dungeons, so we might need to set up a more formal dungeon night to start working through that.

Launches and Lurching

eso64-2018-07-17-20-32-20-91

wowscrnshot_071718_184812

Initially I had planned last night on poking my head in on various characters within Azeroth but like many I was greeted with a lot of this screen when I first got home.  It seemed like a combination of a couple of things… first being that there were apparently some rather nasty DDoS attacks going on with the hosting providers… and secondly this was a major patch in WoW.  I mean I’ve been going through this cycle since 2004 and this is far from the first time a major patch rendered the game unplayable for one reason or another.  Just the simple onslaught of a bunch of players coming back to do like I was planning is enough to take down servers.  I have no idea when it was fixed and when the servers came back up…  because I did what I have learned I need to do to keep from getting ragey…  I moved on to playing something else.

Though that said I heard that the community was particularly toxic to the BlizzardCS account last night.  There were apparently people calling for the firing of employees and all of that nonsense…  while those of us who have been through far worse launches sit back and eat our popcorn.  I think the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us of late with a string of relatively smooth major patch cycles.  So as a result when folks see what I would consider a normal MMO patch rollout…  they lose their shit.  There have been times when I too was losing my shit… particularly during the relaunch of A Realm Reborn when you had to effectively stay logged in if you hoped to play the game at all.  In this scenario however I happily wandered off to play Elder Scrolls Online after a few rounds of attempts.

eso64-2018-07-17-20-32-20-91

So I have been working my way through the ESO content as it was originally released and after finishing Orsinium… that lead me down the path of the Thieve’s Guild.  Now I had accidentally already done the intro quest to this content because I quite legitimately thought it was just another quest in Windhelm.  That is one of the challenges you have coming back this far behind the curve is there are quests everywhere… and a good deal of them are trying to lead you off to start expansions and DLC without ever fully announcing that is their intent.  Sure I probably could have looked it up in the quest journal, but for the most part I find myself not using that at all while playing Elder Scrolls Online.

One of the challenges with Thieves Guild is the fact that it is more or less a stealthy expansion, and I Belghast…  am not a stealthy person.  I am one of those charge into the fight and taunt all the things type person…  and the thought of sneaking around in full plate seems hilarious to me.  That said I have tried my best to embrace this game play style because the content essentially forces you to do so.  Getting detected in a good deal of the missions means that you are going to get swarmed by city guards that you have no way of actually soloing.  Now thankfully it employs the Assassins Creed “instant hiding container” sort of thing, which allows you to evade attention at just the right moment.  Now unfortunately if you already have guard aggro you are going to have to wait a bit until the “heat meter” dies down before popping out and continuing the mission.

eso64-2018-07-17-20-10-20-78

Now it is not like I have never done a thieves guild in the past Elder Scrolls Online games…  in fact to my knowledge I have done them all since Oblivion.  The problem is in those older games there was always a path of “kill all the things” that got you through the quest as opposed to constantly sneaking your butt around.  For the most part however I have managed to do the quests as intended part from a few times when I killed someone instead of just not doing that.  While the gameplay is not my favorite thing in the world, I have to give the game credit for completely hooking me with the storyline.  This is in fact an Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  which quite honestly tend to be some of the better written and more interesting guilds out there.

I am completely hooked on the characters and the story as it is deciphering due to my interactions.  It is part pirates, part heist, part Indiana Jones and a whole of fighting back against an oppressive evil empire…  all of which make for a really interesting sequence.  The way it plays out is interesting as well as there is no one constant thread that you follow but instead a sequence of what seems to be disconnected actions that ultimately weave their way into a main story quest.  I get the impression that I am reaching about the halfway point in the story as there was a major revelation last night, that seems like it will begin the end phase where I start narrowing down and working to righting the great wrong done to the guild.  I am completely hooked…  in spite of needing to creep about unbenefiting a warrior of my stature.

Luck and Mini Bosses

eso64-2018-07-15-18-52-32-77

At this point we are up to 41 blogs signed up for Blaugust in one form or another, with a significant number of folks hanging out in the Discord just for the sake of fun that we may be able to sway one way or another.  I am super happy with this early participation, and in side conversations there are a bunch of folks on the fence trying to determine just how much they can afford to participate themselves this year.  In that always be plugging style of conversation…  if you are at all interested in starting up a blog now is the time to do it.  Pop on by the sign up form and let us know your information and we will do our best to support you through that early blogging experience.  This is of course also an open offer as well to folks who are currently blogging and just want to up their frequency of posting…  or really want to help mentor the next crew of bloggers.

Since I last posted updates there have been a few new entries and you can see the entire list in an easy to use google sheet that I have been maintaining.

New Mentors

New Participants

The official pre-week starts on July 25th so there is still plenty of time to get a blog up and running before the official August 1st start.

dij-0m6vaaulj-p

There are times where I have the sort of luck that pisses my friends off.  For example I have pulled a couple of those ultra rare chase cards from Battle for Zenndikar and Kaladesh, just buying random single packs here and there.  Magic the Gathering just released its return to core sets with M19 and there are a bunch of interesting cards in it… namely a much needed reprint of Crucible of Worlds and brand new version of the classic legends era dragons.  Ultimately I would like to have a copy of each for eventual EDH brewing purposes, and as a result I picked up a fat pack on Friday in my post funeral travels.  Now a fat pack has 10 packs and seems to be for lack of a better term a partial piece of what would have normally been a full box.

They tend to be feast or famine, either you get the good end of the rare/mythic sheet or you don’t.  In this case I managed to pull 4 mythics out of those ten packs.  I took the above photo to show off everything that came out of that box, with the last two on the left side being just a couple of cool looking common foils.  I found it weird that I got a duplicate rare out of the batch so maybe they are doing the fat packs different than they have done before.  I was extremely excited that I managed to pull a Crucible of Worlds and at least two of the three color dragons.  Unfortunately I did not pull the big daddy of them all…  Nicol Bolas, the Ravager.  I still consider this an insanely lucky box, and walked away mighty happy with it.

eso64-2018-07-15-18-52-32-77

As far as the rest of the weekend… it was largely spent hanging out and playing some Elder Scrolls Online.  I have now officially finished the Orsinium content and wow… I am exceedingly impressed with the quality.  If that is at all representative of what I have to expect from the follow up releases, then I am going to be a very happy boy.  I’ve since started on the Thieves Guild which is the next content release in order…  having largely skipped Imperial City due to its PvEvP nature.  I did however spent a chunk of last night running around and collecting Skyshards out in Cyrodil..  I am sure frustrating someone who was there to try and take keeps and mile forts.  The only actual PVP I got into was being found by a roaming murderball of Ebonheart Pact players…  at which point my screen froze and I crashed out of the game only to come back very dead.

The most fun however was prior to that when I was roaming around in Coldharbor with Ashgar and Tamrielo doing the public dungeon there.  It all started simple enough…  the three of us on Voice Chat when Ash mentioned mostly to himself that he was going to ignore the Public Dungeon for now until he could come back with a group.  I said that I had not done the public dungeon there for the same reason and Tam chimed in that he had largely been avoiding any group content.  Before long the three of us were converging upon Ash’s location and doing the public dungeon which had two quests inside of it.  Additionally we realized that there were a bunch of optional bosses in various corners of the place and we set forth to take each and every one down earning us a conqueror achievement.

I kinda love that this game does not care at all about where a player is in the progression, and that you can pretty much just group in for whatever happens to be going on.  I abused this power to help Void get some crafting materials by porting myself to Windhelm and then letting him piggy back in on that to get the shrine there.  I love that this game has decided that horizontal progression is the way to go because it has allowed me to invest resources in a really nice set of gear knowing I won’t be upgrading it anytime soon.  I love that I can just do whatever happens to cross my path and still feel like I am moving towards a goal in the form of Champion points…  knowing that I am also adding progression to every single character as I go.  I am very happy with the current state of Elder Scrolls Online.

NPC Memories

eso64-2018-07-12-19-05-55-13

Once again I am going to lead off this morning with an update on the folks who have joined in the fun since my last post.  I have a sneaking suspicion that these will continue especially considering we have a bunch of folks in the Discord who have yet to actually fill out the sign-up form.  I am not officially counting someone until I have an entry in the sign up sheet from them.  Another thing that has happened is I was asked to record a quick demo for the for someone to mix into their podcast.  I am not sure if anyone else out there cares about such thing but I thought I would link it here.  I did find myself falling into radio announcer voice a bit but whatever…  I think it does a reasonable job of summarizing the event.

As far as the sign-ups we don’t have as many as we have had in past days.  I feel like this is going to probably slow down a bit and then pick back up just prior to the event starting around July 25th.

New Participants

I want to give an extra call out to RumorsMatrix who completely bucked the notion of WordPress vs Blogger and went off and created his own custom blogging software.  That is some awesome dedication and I highly suggest you check out [barely readable diary] because it is anything but.  I’ve had a few questions recently about the whole Mentor vs Participant thing largely because there were some in the community that were viewing Participant as the “newbie” role and didn’t necessarily feel like they were ready for the “mentor” title either.  Functionally this comes down to intent and less about who is new or not.

I’ve used the analogy of Blaugust as a Blogging Summer Camp, and in that concept the Mentors would effectively be the Camp Counselors.  As a mentor you should feel comfortable with other bloggers coming up to you and asking for advice or some form of assistance.  Participants on the other hand are folks who just want to join their blog into this nonsense and participate in the festival of blogging as a whole.  I do however intend to try and track a few metrics that were not in the form, namely folks for whom this is their first Blaugust, and folks who started a brand new blog for the initiative.  Ultimately if you just want to join in and have fun then Participant is likely the role for you.

eso64-2018-07-12-19-05-55-13

Last night I continued my journey in Elder Scrolls Online Orsinium DLC and knocked out a few more areas before ultimately getting pulled into a crisis at work.  You never want to hear the words “catastrophic failure” at 10 pm…  but we managed to get everything wrapped up by 11ish.  However it greatly cut into the flow of my evening and kept me from completing more than I otherwise would have.  The depth of this content continues to impress me as does the scale, and I keep thinking in the back of my head…  if all of these DLCs are this cool it might be a really long time before I chew through it.  It sounds as though the key differentiation between a DLC and an Expansion is the first is largely centered around a single zone and the later includes multiple areas.

eso64-2018-07-12-21-22-51-25

I am extremely thankful that I wound up finishing all three factions worth of content before starting any of the DLCs.  There were times I contemplated straying off that path but it is really paying off in spades.  During the original quest lines there are certain characters that stand out, and occasionally show back up multiple times during the course of the main story.  One of the interesting things is that if you have completed all three factions…  you end up getting recognized by characters that you have interacted with in all three campaigns.  For example Neramo is part of the original Daggerfall starting area of Stros M’Kai and when I bumped into him in Wrothgar he recalled our previous adventures.  Similarly you run into Rigurt the Brash a handful of times during the Ebonheart Pact story… and you can see how he is greeting me here.

Functionally this feels like the difference between starting Mass Effect with the first game and playing your way through all of them, each time importing your save game… and just starting with Mass Effect 3.  I am hoping this time commitment continues to pay off as we move forward through other DLC…  I did some googling and apparently at the least Neramo shows up a few more times in the future.  It is this level of scripting and quest detail that makes the game feel so good as people greet you differently based on your past experiences.  Sure it is an illusion and they are simply checking to see if this quest or that quest was completed, but it is a level of detail that is sorely missing in other games.  I still remember how painfully jarring it was when I encountered Alexstrasza in the Twilight Highlands after completing several arcs for her during Wrath of the Lich King saving Wyrmrest Temple…  and having her not remember my character in the least.

I have a huge backlog of Elder Scrolls Online content to get through and I am still greatly enjoying myself.

Wisdom of Kurog

eso64-2018-07-11-21-26-38-89

I guess we will start off this morning with more welcomes to the fold, given that we keep seeing a pretty steady trickle of folks signing up for this nonsense.  Last night I met with Syp and recorded a bit of an interview talking about Blaugust that I believe will eventually make its way into the MassivelyOP podcast.  I am super lucky to have so much support from folks like MassivelyOP in covering this event, and in the past it has been covered by other sites as well.  Given we are still a couple weeks away from the official launch I am super excited to see this much interest.  I’ve been doing some business sort of things, like updating my blog side bar and trying to sort out how I am going to do my blogroll.  For the moment however if you want the full and updated list of participants I have shared out a subset of the form data through google sheets.

On to the sign-ups from yesterday!

New Mentors

New Participants

All of this said… there is still plenty of time to sign up and join in the fun.  The official start isn’t until July 25th and even then what really matters is that you have your blog ready and in place to start on the challenge August 1st.  If you are interested swing by our sign up form and then join us over in the Blaugust Discord for shenanigans.   I will admit early on I was somewhat afraid we might have all Mentors and no Participants…  but right now we are running 68% participants and 32% mentors which seems like a pretty great mix to me.

Another business note… we have our first prizes that have been donated.  The first $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random brand new blogger who started their blog for the first time as part of this initiative.  The second is $30 USD/£20 GBP via Steam/Amazon to a random Rainbow Diamond award winner.  As has happened in the past these tend to show up as the event rolls on and I will be making a master list of them all.  My intent is to create a list of them sorted by equivalent monetary value and draw names for each prize until the virtual “hat” is empty.

eso64-2018-07-11-21-26-38-89

On the gaming side…  I am still really enjoying my time in Wrothgar but also taking it very slowly.  I am essentially knocking two or so blips off my map every night.  That said I think I completed one of the major story arcs seeing as it involved helping out the King of the Orcs.  I was super happy because last night I got to tango with the followers of a Daedra which is always a good time for me personally.  ESO Belghast most definitely vanquishes all Daedric Princes…   however Skyrim Belghast usually makes a deal with them so he can get their super sweet and powerful weapon.  This is always a weird disconnect in my mind given how I fought Molag Bal here… but happy thumped people over the head with his mace in Skyrim.

eso64-2018-07-11-20-52-55-02

This might be my single favorite piece of dialog so far in Elder Scrolls Online and kinda encompasses everything it is to be an Orc.  I know that feel and can absolutely understand him being super excited.  I have a soft spot for the Orsimer because I have always loved the whole thing that they are effectively “corrupted elves”.  In practice they make really cool buildings and have been some really interesting characters to interact with.  I feel like if World of Warcraft Orcs were half as cool as the Orsimer I would have proudly been Horde, rather than being that faction that I largely care about because of Nubzy and Facepull.  They also have a freaking awesome armor and weapon style…  but one that never quite looks right on my Imperial character.  The first character I made in Alpha if I am remembering correctly was an Orsimer Templar so this DLC has been really fun for me to roam around in.

If they are all this cool…  I may stay glued to ESO for a very long time.

Mzindyne

eso64-2018-07-10-20-40-32-73

 

This is more than likely going to be a feature each morning as I post the new sign-ups to Blaugust.  If you are planning on participating please hit the Google Forms sign-up sheet so I can get you accounted for on the list.  Additionally swing by the Discord where we are all sorta coalescing in this middle ground between the announcement and the official start.  I’m super happy to see folks already talking about technical details a bit and helping point folks in the right direction on various topics.

New Mentors

New Blaugustans

We also have Ventium who has signed up but is still sorting out the blog which is fine because there is still plenty of time.  Ultimately that was the primary reason why I announced it a bit early and also gave a lead in week still in July so folks could have some time to seek help on getting the blog set up and ready to go for August 1st.  August is a bit of a special month for me… seeing as August 1st is also my wedding anniversary and this year is going to be twenty years.  Admittedly organizing the start of a blogging festival is not exactly romantic, but she runs her own Blaugust event many of the years among her Math Blogging community.

Side note…  I am hoping today to sort out the Blogroll to have a more permanent list of participants.  I think I agree with Syp in a conversation we had on Discord that the best way to clean up the Blogroll… is just to nuke it from orbit and start from scratch.

eso64-2018-07-10-20-18-33-02

I went to bed pretty early last night because my wife and I both turned to each other at nine-ish and said that we could go to bed at pretty much any time.  Prior to that however I spent my evening playing Elder Scrolls Online again, slowly working my way through the Orsinium content.  More specifically I spent a good deal of my time delving into a Dwemer ruin.  This was always my favorite part of Skyrim and quite honestly…  any game that lets me explore and underground civilization is pretty high on my list.  For example the Deep Roads sections of Dragons Age games are without a doubt my favorites…  much to the chagrin of players that completely hate that area.

eso64-2018-07-10-20-40-32-73

I have to say though the Dwemer ruin in the Wrothgar area has to be the coolest that I have seen in game yet.  It had an interesting puzzle associated with it and brand new dwarven mob types in the form of cute little sentry robots.  I love fighting dwarven stuff…  which again is something that most people hate to do for some reason.  I will purposefully go out of my way to fight the big Dwarven Centurions because I think they are just so damned cool.  ESO is a great game to get in… knock a few quests off and turn a few areas of the map to the completed icon state.  You feel a sense of accomplishment, but still have a sort of drop in and drop back out experience.

That said I know there are several big releases coming up that will probably distract me some.  You have Monster Hunter World for the PC on August 9th, and Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate for the Switch on August 28th.  Then you have the big one which is World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth on August 14th…  which I know I will play but I am not feeling any hype for as of yet.  There are a lot of directions that game is going that I am not sure if I can follow.  In my perfect world the Horde and Alliance would form a grand alliance that allows players to play freely with each other and go take on bigger badder monsters than the nonsense red versus blue crap.  An expansion that doubles down on the past is concerning to me, but I have yet to miss a launch of a WoW game…  so I fully expect to be logging in on the 14th and playing along with everyone else.