Mythical Nonsense Tonight

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I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning, but in theory mythical nonsense begins tonight.  We’ve gathered up a group of players who are willing to join in this madness and set our sights on getting our first key through the easiest and coolest of the mythics…  Maw of the Damned.  From there we will shift around and try and determine what our next target is based on the keys that we get.  In theory we are going to run until 10 pm central or wherever there is a breaking off point somewhere close to that.  The idea being that we run for a few hours and see how many we can knock out…  and keep upgrading keys until we get to at least Mythic +15 so that we can walk away with shiny artifact appearances or something like that.  I have no clue how far we will get tonight, and I have no clue how long this journey is actually going to take…  however we have a list of adventurers ready to go.

In theory I need to try and get an Argus kill in tonight before go time since I failed miserably at playing WoW last night.  With the teacher strike going on the evenings have been weird for lack of a better term.  I didn’t want to get into anything serious until my wife got home… and yes while LFR is LFR…  the Argus section of that raid is a serious time commitment at the least.  Then after my wife got home we largely talked about the nonsense the State Legislators did during the day…  like shutting off the water to give themselves an excuse to go home early for the day and avoid the teachers.  My hope is tonight I can pop in for a bit, get an Argus kill so I can walk into Mythical Nonsense ™ with a second legendary and slightly higher item level.

I would totally stream this…  but a few of the folks I am running with have already objected to that notion when someone brought it up on twitter.  So I will just have to report in on our progress tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun, especially since two of the people I will be running with… I have never run with before.  Byx and Grace however…  have gone through many iterations of my nonsense over the years so they are largely immune to it.  So I will ultimately have to break Maryalee and Nayakhuut into the fact that I have no clue what I am doing 99.9% of the time and that tanks make the most annoying DPS.  It should be hilarious… or at least entertaining for all.

Nothing Much to Say

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This morning I feel like I don’t have an awful lot to talk about, but still feel obligated to say words and things.  The last few nights have mostly been what I would refer to as maintenance gaming, where I log into something…  do a few repeatable activities and then log right back out.  The majority of this time has been spent in World of Warcraft since I apparently have set forth a goal of unlocking the alliance races which will involve copious amounts of reputation grinding.  At this moment I am about 6500 out of 21000 towards exalted or some close equivalent in both of the necessary factions.  At the suggestion of my friend Grace I have started hoarding faction tokens for the Darkmoon Faire buff, which admittedly is not a thing I have really partaken of in its modern format.

I still find it super annoying that the Alliance route to new races is way harder than the Horde route.  As a “Mostly Alliance” player for most of my wow career I have always felt like Blizzard favored The Horde…  not in the least because of the constant insistence that we should care deeply about Green Jesus.  Weirdly enough however for the last while I have been almost exclusively playing The Horde and the character I am grinding up is my Orc Warrior not my Human one.  There are certain things that just work easier on that side of the pond than the other…  for example jumping the wall from the flightmaster to the Horde area in Dalaran is so much faster than having to fly all the way across the map to the Alliance area.  Having a reasonable foothold on both continents is another nice point…  with ways to get there quickly.  Sure you can still use the Theramore boat as Alliance… but it feels weird to do so.

Grace had this idea of doing a sort of “raiding light” group one night a week that worked on trying to get the Mythic+ number as high as we could.  So far however that is struggling to get off the ground given in our most immediate aggrochat crew we represent the only viable folks for this mission.  I am heavily favoring Horde side since my Warrior there is 927 but most of the connections I would have to pull in people for nonsense are Alliance side.  Over the coming days I might start reaching out to individuals that play horde side to see if they would be interested in shenanigans but for the moment the idea has taken root but not seen much progress.

As evidenced by the screenshot I used for this post I fired up Destiny last night and played around in it for a bit.  The changes have made a lot of the weapons feel odd so in theory I will need to test everything out again to see what I do and do not like now.  The fast rate of fire valkydyn that I am pictured holding above no longer feels that great.  The general movement speed however does and it feels like Titan Skating is back to being a fairly viable thing once more.  I am not sure if this is “just me” but I swear the grenade recharge rate was lowered once again, either that or I am still struggling to adjust to how generally slow that is.  Even with double charges it was rare that it would actually be up when I wanted to use it while roaming around Mercury and doing events.

I miss Destiny 2, and more importantly I miss wanting to play it.  I am not sure why I bounced so hard with the release of Curse of Osiris, and why I never actually managed to get any of the other classes in my stable through the story.  Ultimately I was expecting something along the scope of The Taken King, and then was disappointed that we got something the scope of Dark Below instead.  Additionally there just isn’t a grind I want to be doing there, because the weapons at least prior to yesterdays patch all sorta felt the same.  Maybe now with the sandbox update there will be some reason to grind content to attempt to get masterworks for the things I want to be playing with.

The other side note is that I have started attempting to play some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate over lunch, but quickly realized that if I want to do this thing I will need to leave the floor.  We have a gaming area set up for folks to mostly play the WiiU that is hooked up there, but it does offer a bunch of really comfy chairs.  Over lunch yesterday I attempted to camp out in one and do a few hunts, and within minutes had someone do a drive by and start up a conversation about some project we were working on.  Basically now that I am 100% in the management world I cannot bump into someone without a conversation about something we need to deal with happening.  Ultimately I like the concept of playing a little 3DS or Switch over lunch, but I need to find a hidey hole to go do this thing in.

 

Bad Grind Good Grind

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I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

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The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

Fast Boat

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One of the interesting things that has happened over the last few days is that I apparently got invited to the Battle for Azeroth expansion alpha.  I happened to notice this Tuesday night when I opened my battle.net launcher and found the World of Warcraft tab was trying to patch something.  Sure enough upon further inspection I did appear to have access to the alpha client in my version selector drop down.  I also noticed from social media that a few other people seemed to be indicating the same, so I am guessing there was a whole new wave of folks entering the testing.  The thing about alpha testing that is legitimately an alpha…  is it is as much a burden as it is a privilege.  Yes you have access to something that most people don’t and that in some ways is inherently cool…  but also it becomes your responsibility to go out into the unfinished world and help stop bugs that you will encounter.

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First off let me get this out of the way…  Battle For Azeroth Alpha is in fact an alpha in functionality and in name.  I’ve been in so many different versions of Alpha programs over the years and even in Blizzard terms occasionally those Friends and Family Alphas feel “almost finished”.  This time around BfA feels very much a work in progress and with significant functionality either missing or not entirely working.  For example I spent the beginning of my evening testing an area of the game where quest tracking was not functional at all, and I sorta had to wing it given that I could not really see what was required to finish any of the quests.  One of the more interesting things of note is that the Kul Tirran side of the house appears to have a flight path system that is in truth a series of extremely high speed boats, example is the one I am on above.

After spending some time bug noting Alliance side I rolled a Horde character and the Zandalari areas seem to be a bit more finished.  Those areas had a proper quest flow with tracking working and advisement of where I should be going for the next quest.  In truth that probably means that I should not be spending too much time in Kul Tiras until they have had a bit more time to flesh it out.  I did however report a ton of instances where things were clipping oddly, or in one case where my camera was being pushed up through a when I stood in a certain spot.  I guess that is part of the responsibility side of Alpha testing, that you need to vary your feedback based on what phase in the zone development they are in.

Sure I bug noted the fact that quest tracking was not working…  but after doing that it seemed nonsense to keep reporting it each time I turned in a quest in that area of the game.  Instead I started working on reporting the base pop and terrain anomalies, since they are likely the parts that are being worked on at that very moment.  Ultimately my goal is to spend a little bit of time each night working on testing content, because I feel like since I have eyes on the game…  I should be helping to make it better for launch.

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The gaming for fun side of the evening was spent over in Monster Hunter World which received a patch.  I did not actually defeat a Deviljho last night, but I saw several of them as they interrupted my other hunts.  It is in fact as nonsense as everyone seemed to make it out to be and I am hoping that maybe tonight I can devote some time to actually purposefully hunting one or two of them to get used to how those fights go.  The focus of my evening last night however was finally getting Thalen through Nergigante.  It has been a goal to make sure that everyone gets off high center with this fight in part because it seemed to take me so long to do that myself.  Everyone was more than willing to lend a hand in my hour of need so I feel like it is only right to keep paying that forward.

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Additionally I like the fact that I now feel pretty comfortable with this encounter and could always use more monster bits.  While waiting around for Thalen to finish up a hunt we started talking about our stats…  at which point I joked that I changed my guild card title to Pure Long Sword at some point.  I really have in fact been focused on only this one weapon for awhile as you can see by the fact I have done 253 hunts with Long Sword and the closest second is hammer with 7.  Both Tam and Ashgar have way more spread graphs when it comes to weapons, and in truth I probably should as well.  I should make a point of trying every weapon and seeing if there are hidden gems out there that I might ultimately like.  My biggest problem has been that I just didn’t want to take resources away from my current longsword crafting projects to create other weapons.

World Scaling Thoughts

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Firstly since I was absent in making a blog post yesterday I feel like I need to address said lapse.  I’m dealing with this horrible strain of the flu that has been going around.  I was in fact one of those people who had the flu shot early in the season as soon as my work offered it, and still managed to catch it.  Last week I went to the doctor and they misdiagnosed me with a bad sinus infection.  As the week carried forward and I was not getting any better I went back to the doctor and this time around they thought to swab me for influenza.  I feel horrible because I probably infected a bunch of people during that weeks time considering people are dropping at my work like flies.  The biggest challenge of this batch seems to be thinking…  as in stringing together a sequence of thoughts into something that makes sense.  I tried it yesterday and failed…  primarily because the topic I want to post about involves a little finesse.  However here I go attempting to make a post work in between the coughing spells.

On Tuesday January 15th the World of Warcraft was once again forever changed with the introduction of patch 7.3.5 and World Scaling.  You have to understand I have been thought a lot of emotional tinges about this sequence of events and it really has taken me this long to be able to sit down and formulate my thoughts.  Now this is something that I had been wishing would arrive in World of Warcraft for so many years before there are lots of games out there that do it really well.  Prior to the patch I had been furiously leveling a Tauren Hunter and upon logging in I had the immediate guttural reaction of “Gah! This Feels Horrible! LOGOUT!!!”.  The longer I have lived with these changes the more nuanced my opinion has become, and today I am going to try and weave it all together into something that makes sense.  Firstly lets talk about what leveling has been like for the last few expansions in the heirloom economy.  Putting on a full set of heirloom items turned you into a god and you could pretty much roll though content with impunity.  With zero hyperbole…  on my beast mastery hunter I could pretty much oneshot every single mob in the game while doing level equivalent content.  This had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives…  the negative being you weren’t actually doing any of the content legitimately.  The positive is it allowed you to tackle all of those boss level encounters and made up for the fact that the zones you were leveling in were effective ghost towns and you might never actually see another player.

The other side effect is that you could level exceedingly fast because of the sheer volume of things you could kill in your wake.  You could pull big and pull sloppy and shake it off knowing there was virtually nothing the mobs could do to you that would actually kill you.  This meant that on a really good night I might be able to do twenty levels of content, and on average something along the lines of ten to fifteen.  It was not unusual for me to do literally all of outland in a weekend afternoon buzzing from 58 to 68 in a single sitting.  The changes have firmly closed this era of the game.  Speed leveling is probably still possible but the definition of fast has changed considerably.  In the nights after the patch I have played with many variables but for the most part it is a really good evening if I see two dings.  In addition to the lack of speed is the constant fear of death as even wearing a full set of heirloom gear I feel just as weak as if I were wearing greens.  I am constantly in peril of pulling too much or the wrong combination of mobs at the same time and maybe not being able to live through the damage.  Previously food and bandages had no value at all because you simply did not need them… but I find myself utilizing both again.  The big boss encounters however are the problem because once again… there is no native population of players leveling through these zones anymore.  There is no one in zone shouting that they need help cleansing ursoc for example…  an encounter that is still mostly unsoloable for anyone but a tank with some sort of health regeneration of their own.  The island full of all of the boss encounters in Grizzly Hills…  I couldn’t even get through one of the mini-bosses let alone the final encounter that requires burning down the boss while also managing large waves of adds.  Essentially if a quest rewards a blue item… it is probably off the menu for solo players to ever attempt because due to world scaling there will never be a time when it is far enough beneath your level to comfortably solo.

So do I mourn the old fast and silly leveling with heirlooms?  Admittedly a little bit.  Because it was fun to feel that powerful and get through the  content that quickly.  However I also realize it was a bit much and lead to all sorts of problems like being unable to kill something slow enough to complete any of those “use item while weakened” type quests.  Level scaling in truth is good for the health of the game because it means everyone will be actually doing the content in the game rather than buzzing past all of it.  Essentially everyone will be leveling every alt now like they were leveling their first.  I am sure Heirlooms do speed things up still, but it isn’t nearly as noticeable as before.  The problem I see however is that in the new economy… the survival capabilities of various classes are likely going to need to be tweaked.  I’ve been playing a bit as Survival Hunter…  and there are just certain encounters that I cannot handle by myself.  I take too much damage and cannot chew my way through the hitpoints before they chew through mine.  Survival is a fairly sturdy class, so that tells me lots of other classes are going to have pure hell in this new world order.  I am not sure what sliders they have to tweak how the content feels, but this first pass feels like it lands a bit to much on the side of unforgiving brutality at times.  There have been several times I have had to log out and walk away from leveling…  because it was annoying me too much.  Leveling alts was always my moment of zen and my happy place…  and now it is stressful.  Again a lot of the problems are with the fact that while the world is scaling I am still utterly alone in all of these zones with no help to be had from another player happening across my path and maybe seeing I am in trouble.  The general world sorta feels the way that Argus feels at times when you are a little undergeared….  and maybe that is the problem.  Heirlooms previously were supposed to scale like you were wearing the best blues you would wear at a given level.  There should never be a time when you feel undergeared for the content…  but unfortunately that is mostly how I have felt every moment after the patch.

Essentially it is an adjustment period, and I will have to get used to feeling weak again.  I think in the grand scheme of things this is probably a good step for the long term health of the game.  I just have to learn that I can’t fly nearly as close to the sun as I used to.

On The Mend

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I am mostly among the living.  Yesterday was a federal holiday here in the United States and with me being off work… it also mean’t that I largely treated it as part of the weekend for blogging purposes.  I am still fighting the same crud that I had last week, but it feels like at some point on Monday I turned the corner.  While I still have the vestiges of whatever bronchial mess has inflicted me, I am starting to feel better and less like an appendage of the couch and or bed depending upon the time table.  it truly was a miserable weekend and while I attempted to game I was not terribly successful at anything until yesterday.  I spent most of the break working on the Tauren Hunter who has now finished the Outland and is knee deep in Northrend just starting the Grizzly Hills area.  My hope is that when I ding 74 the bear spirit beast will be up and I can collect it for my pet.  Up until this point I am mostly running a Fel Corehound that I got from the Blasted Lands.  I took the Beast Mastery talent that allows your pets to shadow step… so it is entertaining watching him leap up on targets rapidly.  At this point however I can kill most mobs well before my beast even has time to interact with it…  which is the life of running full heirlooms.

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Sunday I indulged a really weird whim and decided to reinstall the Arc client and give Neverwinter a spin.  I’m on the PR feed still from Perfect Worlds and they are constantly putting out press releases about content releases to this game.  It got me wondering what the current state of matters is when I have literally not heard anyone talk about it in almost two years.  It turns out the game is in pretty great shape as far as actually logging in and playing it.  As far as doing its best to feel insidious from a loot box standpoint…  it is also working on winning some awards.  I don’t remember much about the game if I am being very serious, but you know that thing that we chastised Call of Duty WW2 for doing at the beginning of the year?  Where if you get a drop the game announces to the rest of the world what you just got?  That apparently happens in Neverwinter as most of my time spent in the central hub area was a constant stream of people getting loot drop rewards.  In the very short time I played yesterday I got somewhere around 25 loot crate drops from random stuff while doing quests.  Each one of these crates would require a key which runs roughly $1.25 each without any of the “buying in bulk” discounts applied.  Through the quests I wound up getting three free keys to open three sample crates and if the ones that drop in the wild are at all similar to what they gave us as “examples” for why we should buy into this system…  they were full of utter garbage.  If you can however do what I started doing and just vendoring the damn crates for a few copper each time you saw one drop…  and loot past the money grubbing nature of the game…  the core feedback loop is actually rather enjoyable.  I think when I logged in last night I was around 16 left over from my initial push around launch and I believe I logged out for the evening around 25/26ish.  During all of that time I enjoyed the core game quite a bit so long as I completely ignored the multiple currency cash shop nonsense.  If you can do the same then you too will probably enjoy yourself.

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Last completely random thing I did last night…  is patch up and log into Elder Scrolls Online.  This game is in fact the same as I remember it and still rather enjoyable.  The biggest problem I will have is trying to sort out exactly what I was doing when I was last playing.  I am still being insanely stubborn and wanting to finish all of the original three story arcs before doing any of the newer content.  As a result I believe I am somewhere in the middle of Malabal Tor during my Aldmerri Dominion play through.  From there I will at some point venture forth into Ebonheart where maybe just maybe I can play long enough to see the character that was inspired by me and some of the folks we play with.  I think the fact that I jumped around so much last night… but still managed to get a bunch of play in with each jump…  is probably proof that I am on the mend.  In truth a good chunk of this weekend was spend with me just staring blankly at things without really doing a lot of interaction.  There were several times that I would start up a YouTube video that would then cycle through a whole bunch of things before I even realized I was still watching something.  Now however I need to go warm up the car and prep myself to venture forth into the frozen tundra (for Oklahoma at least).  Tonight will likely either be more Neverwinter or ESO because I had a lot of fun playing both.

 

Bad Concierge

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Yesterday I failed miserably at making any sort of a post.  In truth by the time I had realized I had not logged in and created a blog post it was mid afternoon…  and figured I might as well just call it a day off.  First off this morning I feel like I probably need to update considering my Monday post.  I saw a Doctor Monday afternoon but good or bad the pain had subsided by that point.  The pain in whole lasted roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours and without it being “acute” the only way they really had to diagnose things was some scans.  Their advice to me is that if the pain comes back at all…  go to the Emergency Room immediately.  Based on my description they thought it might have been either a kidney stone or my appendix…  since I still have one of those so in both cases something dangerous if I allow it to go unchecked.  While I was there however they also told me I had a pretty significant sinus infection and prescribed a round of antibiotics to help clear that up.  I had been coughing up a storm the last few weeks and apparently I actually had an infection to back that up.  The doctor suggested that I not return to work until Wednesday, to keep down the odds of me infecting someone else…  which I guess makes sense given this is a sort of work based free clinic thing that I went to.  So for the bulk of yesterday I chilled out while something cooked in the crockpot and piddled around in World of Warcraft while consuming Netflix/Amazon shows.

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One of my favorite things about ElvUi is the AFK screen thing.  Not sure why it makes me happy to see it pop up and I have a directory littered with screenshots of my character sitting down while dancing on the side.  At this point I am level 52 on my newish Tauren Hunter and spending time in the greater Gadgetzan area.  In truth last night before logging for the evening I got the precursor quest to take me to Ungoro crater, so I will likely be heading there shortly.  Being fully decked out in Heirlooms makes the leveling experience really odd given that things rarely last long enough for my pet to even reach the target, let alone need any form of “tanking”.  This means that I am largely running a pet for the flavor of it rather than for the functionality.  Traditionally when I need a pet to be a barrier between me and the target I tend to favor bears…  however for the moment I am running around with a golden brown Owl I picked up somewhere in Feralas that I named Bubo.  The hunter is ridiculously relaxing which has been exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for lately.  One of the things I enjoy about hanging out in Facepull on the Horde side is that I can be a fly on the wall mostly, that interacts every so often but also has the room to simply not interact at all if the spirit doesn’t move me to communication.

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I ended up going off on a twitter tear yesterday talking about guild leadership and being the person in the background that makes sure things are happening.  When I first started leading guilds…  I was very young and lacked any sort of responsibility apart from just showing up at work and making sure I was getting my tasks accomplished.  In fact when House Stalwart hit its stride about a year into the release of the game…  I was in quite possibly the worst job I have ever been in.  I had a horrible boss and felt like I had no control over my work environment, and as a result having a smooth running community to come home to and spend my evenings with was almost refreshing.  During this time my home life was in a bit of a disarray due to the large number of deaths that were occurring in the family, and Stalwart wound up being my stability that I so desperately needed.  As we entered Wrath of the Lich King I changed jobs and wound up in a much better place where I had a support structure and actually started taking on more responsibilities.  As such I found myself starting to back away from the same sort of things that I did during Vanilla and Burning Crusade and begin placing myself in more of a distant advisory role.  By the time Cataclysm launched I had moved up to being a Team Lead, and was responsible with juggling planning and task assignment, and similarly I found myself completely checking out of the guild leadership role and even going so far as to quit World of Warcraft when Rift released.  During that time I have shifted from Team Lead, to assumed supervisor, to actual supervisor… to now interim manager of three groups.  While I have kept trying to be the social glue for guilds…  by the time I get home I just have no social capital left to make things happen.

The truth is that every guild you have ever been in that felt active…  had one or more people behind the scenes making sure that things were going smoothly.  I used to have a motto among our officers that I wanted our actions felt but not necessarily seen, and so long as I had the focus it worked smoothly.  From Cataclysm on Stalwart has changed hands numerous times and as a result has kept going forward without me.  While now it takes a more raiding focus, it is still functional and still doing things.  However if you take away the people who are actively moving the ball forward… you end up with 30 people sitting in guild chat and nothing happening.  That has been the problem with so many of these guilds that I have formed as new games come out..  I don’t have the drive to be the cruise director anymore…  and while I gather up the people I don’t have the strength to actually do things with other people.  This was extremely noticed in the recent foray into Destiny 2 where I spent 99.9% of my time soloing, all the while people around me were trying to make things happen.  Guilds work when they have a concierge making sure needs are being met and I just cannot fill that position anymore.  I have transitioned to being one of the players that just wants to log in and have a good evening escaping whatever stresses piled up during the day.  The key difference for me at least is that I do most of this through solo play and am completely happy to piddle along with alts.  There are times that I miss big group activities…  like I wish we had beat Calus in Destiny 2, or I wish we had made a bigger push into Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood.  Then I sit back and think about the frustrations of having to remember to log in on time with all of the materials needed for raiding on a specific night of the week… and I question if I could ever go back to that.  So yes…  I play tons of MMOs as single player games and am mostly okay with that, and yes I realize I am doing it wrong.  I do like knowing people are out there in spite of me not being capable of actually interacting some evenings, so I will always seek out potential communities because someday…  maybe…  I might shift back out of whatever turtle mode I have been in for the last year.

Poorly Dressed Hunter

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Last night on a whim after running my Emmisary quests on Horde side I decided to start playing something else.  For a long time I have had a level 20 Forsaken Hunter, but I have this major problem playing anything with the “horde hunch”.  While I realize that is eventually going to be optionally not a thing…  there is also the major problem I have with the Forsaken in that they cannot wear anything but trashed out armor.  If I could be an upright walking normal armor wearing Forsaken…  that would probably cause me to re-evaluate a lot of my choices in life.  However I can’t and I doubt they will ever taken away the iconic exposed bone thing from them so…  until that date that is likely never going to happen I am probably going to bounce the fuck off playing one.  I wound up deleting my old hunter and re-rolling as a Tauren, which coincidentally was my very first World of Warcraft character back in beta.  I got into closed beta shortly after the Tauren starting zone opened and primarily played a Warrior and a Hunter for most of my testing time.  That combined with the fact that Mulgore looks not dissimilar from the corner of Oklahoma I live in…  has always sorta made that experience feel homey.

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The only problem is…  first I forgot that my mail armor was a mishmash of nonsense that I got through the Wintergrasp PVP heirloom vendor…  combined with the shaman shoulders because apparently at some point I bought those?  As a result I am the most disturbing ahn’qiraj era fury warrior looking character to exist.  The problem there is that I forgot that I could not ride a mount until 20…  which means I won’t have access to my Yak and a transmog vendor to remedy this until then.  For now…  I just look like a mess roaming around with an awesome purple birb.  There is something extremely relaxing about the leveling process and if I actually want to do that in earnest I am left with two options:  Roll Horde or Roll Alliance on server other than Argent Dawn.  If you notice in the above image… every single Alliance character I have is over level 100, which means I would ultimately have to grind nothing but Legion content and quite frankly that doesn’t sound that fun or relaxing in the least.

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Horde side however I have lots and lots of room for expansion and as a result I am experiencing a bit of a renaissance of “monstrous humanoids”.  I am however catching shit now from my Alliance guild as every so often tells show up in my timeline saying things like “we miss you”.  While I seem to have switched relgion for the moment I am sure at some point in the near future I will play alliance again.  I am neither red nor blue but have always been purple, because purple is a great color and also blends the fact that since day one…  I have played a little bit on both sides of the fence.  The fact that there still is a fence at all infuriates me, which is why I am not nearly as amped as I probably should be about this upcoming expansion.  I have different pools of friends that prefer to play one side or the other and as a result I will always be split between the two.  It is my hope that I can get a few more characters up before the expansion hits so I have a pretty even stable of characters on either side of the fence.  Similarly I will probably start pushing up some of  my Alliance characters as well…  but there is only so much Legion grinding that one can take.  Side note…  I have the best Tauren Hunter Bel-Themed name ever…  Belgrazer.

Double Agent

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I’ve reached this sorta happy place with World of Warcraft where I find myself alternating back and forth between it and Destiny 2 for how I spend most of my evenings.  Over the last month or so I had spent most of my pushing up my Orc Warrioress, and have now reached the point where I can no longer easily push her power level up by just doing World Quests.  As a result this caused a bit of an identity crisis over the Christmas break and lead me to pick another of my various horde characters to start working on.  Having not actually pushed up a Demon Hunter… and Legion being the expansion all about Illidari…  I figured it was high time to actually do this thing.  I started out leveling as Havoc like I had before on the Alliance side but promptly swapped over to Vengeance when I started missing tank survival.  It turns out that I really like Vengeance as a spec and you get to do a bunch of fun things…  sadly at the cost of your charge around the map ability.  The way shorter cooldown version of Heroic Leap in the form of Infernal Strike however makes up for the lack of the less predictable movement ability.  If nothing else the build allows me to do most of the World Questing with impunity and at some point I will actually try some dungeon tanking.

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For the moment however when it comes to LFR, Heroics or Timewalking…  I have been swapping back to Havoc and just noobing it up.  This is the point where I have to step back from some of the commentary I made while leveling the warrior.  I was shocked and amazed at how chill the horde side of the house had been during my experiences…  but once I donned the mantle of the demon hunter…  and potentially as a side effect of the long holiday break…  all of the asshats seemed to come out of the woodwork.  Monday night I chain ran my five timewalking dungeons in a row… and all of the cool demeanor that I had originally attributed to the horde side melted away.  It became a night of gripes and wipes as I limped through my five instances and then walked away praising some dark god that my sanity was still intact.  I am still not entirely certain why my recent change in religion of sorts and swap to the horde, but I would have to think a lot of it has to do with simply wanting to hang out with my friends in Facepull.  As a result it has been this super chill place to hang out and have occasional comments about the game and life in general.  On a day by day basis I am feeling way less of a double agent and more leaning towards the Horde.  For years I never could seem to get into characters on that side of the fence and the only reason why I had a max level character during Warlords was because I boosted, this time around however I have the same number of Alliance characters as I do Horde and I am already plotting the next thing to level.  Side note…  Blood Elf demon hunters look way cooler than the damned floppy eared Night Elf equivalent.

Conflicted Feels

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This weekend we ended up recording a full on spoilers Last Jedi show because it seemed to be a reasonable thing to do.  Functionally all of the AggroChat crew had already seen the movie and were ready to start talking about it.  In this discussion however I seemed to be the odd man out in the way I feel about the movie.  In truth I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it on Thursday night when I saw it, and as I saw it Saturday with my wife I started to get more critical of it.  When we walked out of the theater my wife was similarly not sure how she felt about the movie, and then as we were walking to the car said she was a little disappointed.  The problem is that seed grows over time and there are certain things in the movie that really bother me.  It has a film with a lot of really awesome moments, knitted together by a bunch of other stuff that I am not really sure how to think about it.  Essentially I am at a place where I feel like this is the weakest of the modern Star Wars movies and I place it firmly behind Empire Strikes Back, Force Awakens, Rogue One and A New Hope.  There are individual moments however that could easily elevate the movie above all of those…  were the rest of the film that strong as well.  I remember thinking Thursday night…  that the movie seemed really long but I mostly chocked that up to being after midnight when we got out of the theater.  When we watched it as a matinee on Saturday morning however…  it felt somehow longer.  My biggest frustration is that the movie really answers none of the questions I had in a satisfying manner, but I won’t go further than that.  If you want to hear the whole spoilery conversation check out the podcast episode because I elaborate on a lot of things there…  and end up being the single person who seems to feel this way out of the crew.  I want so bad to love this movie…  but I am just struggling with it much the same way as I did the prequels.  I was born and bred with Star Wars in my veins…  seeing the first movie as a toddler in the theater…  but I am struggling hard to maintain that hype and love.

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While sitting around questioning how I felt about the direction of the Star Wars franchise…  I spent a significant amount of time playing World of Warcraft.  The irony here is that Warcraft is another franchise I often have deep problems with but keep returning because there is a nostalgic core there that I still love.  Belghast the Female Orc Warrior on Scryers dinged 110 last weekend and since then I have been focusing on gearing up.  This largely has meant a lot of running world quests and more specifically unlocking a good deal of the content on Argus.  In the last week and some change I have managed to raise my item level to 896 which means that I can run the LFR version of Antorus.  In addition to this I have mostly just been focusing on slowly raising my level by knocking out the world quests that give me things that are useful.  Additionally I am trying to burn through all of the Argus quests that I come across in the hopes of gathering enough of <insert newest currency name here> to be able to purchase 910 items.  Luckily the world quest drops seem to be scaling quite a bit as I ratchet my level up there and as a result I am creeping closer and closer to 900.  The biggest challenge right now is the fact that I have yet to see any Legendary items in spite of doing a bunch of stuff that could in theory get me one.  Either they have greatly nerfed the drop rate…  or I am just super unlucky.  In truth what I need to focus on is finishing my Order Hall campaign, because the fact that I have not done so is starting to hold me back in a bunch of ways.  I think tonight pending I feel like doing group content… I will sit down and force my way through it because I know there are still a bunch of missions that I need to run.  Essentially I need to finish Valsharah and do some dungeons before I can get to the next set of order hall quests.