Three Dragons Down

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This weekend was largely about collecting the final bits needed to unlock the layered cosmetic armor from the Harvest Festival in Monster Hunter World and seeing just how much further I could progress.  As of Saturday night I had managed to catch back up enough to be sitting on the “kill the three elder dragons” quest that you can see in my quest tracker.  On the podcast we talked a bit about how Monster Hunter World supports the acquisition of skills and how that is generally more important than the acquisition of gear.  This is a weird concept for me personally since I tend to be a dyed-in-the-wool RPG grinder, that can seemingly perform repetitive tasks so long as there is a shiny gear payout at the end.  My baseline is always to gather more gear to get over any obstacles that I might be dealing with.

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However the importance of understanding how not to die…  is extremely noticeable in Monster Hunter World.  When I managed to get through Pink Rathian without breaking the tale, in one shot with no faints…  and then similarly get through Nergigante on my first shot…  with no faints…  I started to question if I had simply gotten better at the game.  For awhile I thought it was just me having a hammer this go around, but Nergi was sorta the turning point in my opinion.  However the Elder Dragons still served as a bit of a roadblock.  I managed to down Kushala Daora on the first attempt, which doesn’t shock me given I remember taking it down relatively easily before as well.  However I spent the majority of Sunday afternoon working on Teostra and Vaal Hazak.

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When I fought the Elder Dragons on the PS4 version…  I did a lot more prep work than I did here.  I rolled into Teostra with a significant amount of fire resist gear…  something I did not have this time.  The challenge with Toaster as I call him more frequently…  is that he just does an awful lot of damage and likes to get in real close to you before ulting.  I believe in the grand scheme of things it took me three attempts to get through Toasty this time around, and I am mostly okay with that…  it was more about not getting hit than it was about dishing out massive amounts of damage.  I think that is part of where I am at mentally now is I know not allowing yourself to get carted is seemingly more important than getting in and unleashing hell upon the monster…  then opening yourself to a single hit attack that decimates your health reserves.

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Similarly with Vaal Hazak the challenge was fighting…  while having your health bar constantly shredded by effluvial building.  Eventually I will have the parts to make a few pieces of gear that grants me complete immunity from the effects of the Effluvium, but for now I had to employ a strategy of stick and run…  trying to avoid build up for as long as I could while dealing as much damage as I could.  I think in the grand scheme of things it took me four tries to get through Vaal Hazak this go around.  I’ve now entered the realm where I fairly comfortable feel like I can SOS Roulette my way into content, and that is probably something I am going to take advantage of more as I move forward.

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Unfortunately however I cannot SOS Roulette my way through Xeno’Jiiva, because it does not show up in your list of available monsters until you have defeated it at least once on your own.  I mostly got in long enough to unlock him and then bailed last night because I did not have the patience for this sort of fight.  The problem with Xeno is that it is just soul crushingly long…  no matter how well you do there is always going to be a lot of avoiding its movements while banging on its feet…  for a good thirty minutes it seems.  So instead last night I piddled around in World of Warcraft on the Paladin while watching the season premiere of Walking Dead, instead of trying to make progress on the giant blue dragon.  All in all though it feels good to be getting back to around the place where I left off…  I am not looking forward to getting through Tempered Kirin again…  but I will have awhile to deal with that.  I have not been grinding anywhere near as much as I did before, so I expect to defeat Xeno and still have a lot of ways to go until I hit the first bottleneck of Tempered Bagel.

Autumn Harvest Festival

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The Harvest Festival event is now live in Monster Hunter World on PC and last night I spent for the most part the entire evening doing event quests.  The PC community appears to be significantly smaller than the Playstation 4 one, I am assuming in part because there are likely fewer Japanese players available to group with.  I know a lot of my SOS Roulette nonsense was done with Japanese players…  which seem to have a culture of opening up their events to other players as a matter of course.  There have been many times when I tried to find an SOS for a specific monster and came up completely empty, so instead I have started filtering my session by specific types of quests.  So for example I am filtering for groups specifically doing Event quests during the Harvest Festival, and that seems to give me a session with a bunch of players participating in the sort of events I have been trying to.

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I am still not nearly as progressed as I am on the console, but I did manage to get far enough to do the “Every Hunter’s Dream” quest which rewards the crafting bits needed to make Wyvern Ignition…  aka the Greatsword you can see in the above image.  I decided to spend all of my harvest tickets on making the Palico Armor, because not only is it awesome looking…  but it was actually a pretty reasonable upgrade to the Zorah set mine had been wearing.  My goal in coming back and playing a lot is to also get me ready for the inevitable release of the Kulve Taroth siege event.  For whatever reason I was expecting the Greatsword quest to be High Rank… which is why I was pushing lately to get there…  however it is only a 5 star so that last tier before you actually transition into High Rank.

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This event also allowed me to catch up on a bunch of the other quests that I had apparently missed…  namely the Wiggler Head, Kulu Head, Eye Patch and Shades.  I need to run through everything available and make sure I have crafted everything, but for now I think my focus is going to be doing the daily bounties so I can gather up enough tickets to craft some of the harvest gear… or at the very least get the layered armor set.  I probably fall in the Fashion Hunter territory in that I tend to be way more interested in Layered Armor sets than pretty much anything else because I can equip them over top of whatever gear I happen to be wearing.

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I am still very much digging the Zorah hammer, but also now branching out into Switch Axe and Great Sword.  I need to do a bit of farming because I want to craft a Gunlance and a Lance to play with those as well.  On the PS4 I was pretty much laser focused on only caring about Longsword.  This time around however I am trying to branch out and try new weapons, because it is very clear that certain encounters just work better with certain weapons.  Lance/Gunlance seem rediculously powerful so I want to try my best to figure out how to play each of those.  For whatever reason swapping weapons seems to be easier for me when I am already playing using the much more comfortable keyboard and mouse sort of interface.  So much of my time on the PS4 was me eating up brain cycles trying to remember how to use a controller, since that is not a mode I play in regularly.  Whereas with the Keyboard and Mouse I am in my comfort zone and can sort of dedicate those brain cycles to other things.

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If you are around and doing stuff ping me and say hey.  I will warn you though that I don’t regularly play with the chat overlay on through Steam because it has caused graphical issues in the past, and as a result it might take awhile for me to actually respond.

Charm Maintenance

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Last night I had to do some World of Warcraft maintenance, in that I had allowed my Emissary quest to stack up for three days and was about to start losing them.  I fairly joylessly burned through those, then decided to take a chance at a 370 piece of loot from the Warfront that is now open to Horde players.  I still find those pretty fun but ultimately wound up with disappointment in that I got a 370 item in a slot I already had one.  You would think they could factor in the gear that the player has when they give those extremely limited time rewards like that…  because since it is ultimately a shot at loot every three weeks…  please give us something we can use.

From there I popped into Monster Hunter World where I largely did some maintenance there as well.  I spent most of the night farming up zenny so that I could buy the Power Charm, which is an item that takes up a bag slot but gives you a pretty potent damage boost.  I had already purchased the Armor Charm which does the same thing, but for your defense stat.  These apparently open up once you have fought the Zorah Magdaros final form and cost 24,000 zenny for the Armor Charm and 36,000 zenny for the Power Charm.  Later through the magic of crafting you will be able to turn these into Talons…  and then re-buy the Charms again…  but for now I should be set for the early High Rank content.  I’m up to the Tickled Pink quest which is to hunt a High Rank Anjanath, which I simply was not ready to deal with mentally last night and wound up wandering off to do other things.

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Instead I popped over to burn through some quests in MTG Arena, where I seemed to have a ton that wanted me to cast White spells.  I had picked up the Eternal Thirst deck as one of my freebies, and I decided to start playing around with it.  I have to say… for a weird Cats and Vampires concept I am really digging it.  Unless you are also playing against a deck with stupid life gain powers…  you can do some come from behind nonsense with this one.  I feel like I need to tune it a bit and swap some cards, and could ultimately make a super powerful deck out of it.  For the purpose of questing though… it had plenty of white cards so it allowed me to whittle that down in a few turns.  This morning I noticed I had another freebie deck available and unlocked the Blue/Green Merfolk deck…  which included a single copy of one of my favorite cards…  Jadelight Ranger.  I am hoping that one of the decks they end up throwing my way is the Explore matters deck that we originally had in Alpha.  Mostly I don’t want to spend the proxies on rebuilding it if they are going to give me like 90% of the cards in a few weeks as we keep rotating through unlocking free decks.

Days Til Bounce

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This mornings post is going to be a bit unusual as I did a thing last night that may or may not be nonsense.  Lately I have been saying that it feels like I have disengaged faster with Battle for Azeroth than any of the expansions to date.  However I do have a certain pattern of engaging and then eventually hitting a point where I bounce for awhile, and then eventually return to re-engage.  It got me to wondering if I had any means of actually tracking this sequence.  Since 2013 I had the record of my blog, because I tend to track how I am feeling about something pretty closely in the posts I am making.  Another thing I have noticed is that Screenshots serve as forensic evidence for how I am feeling for a game.  If I am checked out…  I stop taking them… and with my copious archive of screenshots I was able to draw from that to determine my general take on a game at a given time.  Additionally there are specific mental sign posts of events that happened that caused me to bounce like the release of specific games.  All of these combined allowed me to create  a shockingly accurate map of how engaged I was at a specific time.

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Here is the table of data I managed to pull together.  This morning I am going to step us through my history with World of Warcraft expansions, and go into some of my reasoning for pulling specific dates out of the air in regards to them.  There is a simplified version of this data at the bottom of the post.

World of Warcraft: Vanilla

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While I did not have a blog back then I have very clear marker posts for when my hype cycle with this game began, and when I checked out for the first time.  I am bad about not deleting messages from gmail, and as such I have the original World of Warcraft Stress Test beta key invite email, providing me with the time stamp of when exactly the hype cycle began.  The weekend of 8/20/2004 was significant for a couple of reasons…  firstly the stress test but secondly it was my ten year high school reunion.  I attended the cookout on that Friday night, was generally annoyed that people were still fighting about shit that happened at football games ten years earlier…  and then opted to blow off the Saturday night festivities to stay at home and play World of Warcraft with my friends.  From that weekend forward the hype was all too painfully real as we wound up feeming for another taste of that good good World of Warcrack.  When I checked out the first time is honestly before I managed to hit level 60 in the game…  and we wandered away to play with another group of our friends that had decided to go down the Everquest II route.  The sign post in my memory there is that I got back in right around the launch of the Desert of Flames expansion, providing me with the date of disengagement around 9/13/2005.  I came back towards the end of October and eventually found my way into the Late Night Raiders raid and the rest is history… but this first segment of time is an era before I hit the level cap and before I had a reason to stay engaged.  Prior to World of Warcraft I was fairly notorious for not actually hitting the level cap in games before wandering away.

The Burning Crusade

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The Burning Crusade is the era in which I became Belghast the Raid Tank and transitioned from being Lodin the Reluctant Hunter.  I remember my hype cycle began around the opening of the TBC Beta circa 10/30/2006 and getting leaked bits of information coming out about the expansion and all of the interesting changes that were going to be made.  As far as the disengagement happening…  that occurred roughly 9/15/2007 when I got into the beta for Hellgate London and wound up all but stopping playing World of Warcraft to deeply engage with that game.  I came back a few months later, but ultimately what I am trying to track is that moment when I first wandered away during an expansion cycle.  I also weirdly do not have much in the way of screenshots for stuff that happened later in The Burning Crusade, so that leads me to believe that I was maybe just going through the motions a bit.

Wrath of the Lich King

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Once again my hype began as the beta opened and information started trickling out about the expansion, so that places it starting somewhere around 7/15/2008.  As far as disengaging… this expansion I stayed connected to it with an almost laser focus and didn’t really disconnect until around the launch of Ruby Sanctum which was extremely late in the content release schedule.  I was in the raid leadership of the very active Duranub Raiding Company that formed towards the end of The Burning Crusade and continued on all of the way through downing The Lich King… and I am pretty sure we made more than a few Ruby Sanctum runs.  Ultimately towards the end of Lich King I was going through a lot of bad times personally and fighting off a pretty nasty spiral of depression, which probably more than anything lead to me pulling back from the game.  While Wrath happened there were a few times I was also playing another game… but never to the point of stopping playing World of Warcraft.

Cataclysm

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I really was not feeling this expansion from the start, as evidenced by the fact that I had pure hell finding any screenshots from this era. The hype of Cataclysm would have started sometime around Blizzcon, so I set the date for 10/23/2010 as that was the second day of Blizzcon that year.  The expansion itself released in December of that year, and I found a blog post from 2/22/2011 stating that I was done with World of Warcraft, at the time I thought permanently.  I was disillusioned with the game, my raiding circumstances, and used the release of Rift and its beta that I was in at the time as a life raft to get me the hell out of a situation where I was not happy at all.  Now I came back to the game later, but as far as the moment of detachment… it was February and became more so in March and April as the release cycle for Rift ramped up.  This was a serious enough split that I literally thought I was gone for good… handed over the keys to House Stalwart my guild and gave away my gold to friends thinking I wouldn’t need it.

Pandaria

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For Mists of Pandaria we had to rely on the forensic evidence of screenshots to determine a time table because the expansion launched during a drought in content on my blog.  Namely 9/11/2012 was one of the darkest days in my life, because some work related events happened that lead to about six months worth of hell for me personally.  So based on my screenshots I can see that I re-engaged with World of Warcraft in general about a month before the release of Pandaria on 8/22/2012, and then the screenshots stop around 10/30/2012 which syncs up with my memory of not being in for long.  Ultimately Pandaria was a tale of false starts, with the raid I was attempting to help get started…  failed miserably and I simply did not have the mental fortitude to stick it out.  It was a group largely based around familiar connections, and with it a lot of non-responsive players…  including an off tank at the time that was seemingly incapable of pulling off a boss swap mechanic.  We never made it past the first boss of the expansion, and I found myself checking out hard with the last screenshots being taken on Halloween from a costume contest event that my friend Rae was hosting.  I remember logging back in for that, but having not played much prior to it…  or not at all after it.  Of course I eventually came back as the above screenshot is from a Throne of Thunder raid, but again we are tracking the moment of initial disengagement.

Warlords of Draenor

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With Warlords of Draenor… it brought forth the first expansion I publicly stated that I would not be playing.  I got into the beta process for it early on and I was not feeling it… mostly because my then main the Death Knight felt awful to play.  However Blizzcon is a constant in my hype cycle and watching it around 11/08/2014 managed to stir enough excitement to get me to log back in…  at which point I was drug through Siege of Orgrimmar and luckily had a tanking friendly heirloom weapon drop.  This expansion saw my return to raiding as the weird Protection Warrior DPS spec, and I loved it…  it was basically everything I had ever wanted warrior dps to be…  smashing things with a giant shield.  I miss the hell out of Gladiator stance.  Once again I can rely on blog posts to tell me at which point I started to check out and write posts about being disappointed in Warlords of Draenor, and the first of these that I was able to find was 3/27/2015 which is probably about when in my memory I was trying to get out of the game.  I remember we downed Blackhand once…  took a break…  and then that was when I ran for the hills.

Legion

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I remember originally referring to Legion as the expansion of things left on the cutting room floor from other expansions.  I was not super hyped about it, that is until the pre-legion events started and I managed to use them to power level an army of alts.  Based on my blog posts I started talking about World of Warcraft again around 7/21/2016 and then similarly started talking about my frustrations with it around 11/23/2016.  Once again I was raiding, this time as a tank and remember checking out part of the way through Nighthold.  I remember Legion very fondly, as when I checked out it was just that my life really couldn’t support attending a raid, and not so much a desire to not be raiding.  I played this off and on but my first break was in November, and when I came back I largely played Horde side.

Battle for Azeroth

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I was super not excited about Battle for Azeroth because I did not like the concept of a forced Red vs Blue narrative.  However based on blog posts I returned to World of Warcraft around 7/30/2018 and was dinking around on alts like my High Mountain Tauren Monk just prior to the launch.  I did very little in the way of prep, but was pleasantly surprised at how engaging the story was.  The first strike against the expansion was how generally awful Protection Warrior felt, which lead me to refocus around my Demon Hunter as a viable tanking option…  but also made it feel like I lost the first week and same change of progress…  and was effectively permanently behind the curve.  Finally upon cresting the 340 gear mark… it just felt like I didn’t have much opportunity for improvement other than raiding, and with the switch to Horde as main…  my raiding options were limited to the Sunday night outing which was bad for me timing wise.  The systems in Battle for Azeroth just feel unrewarding… which has lead me to the point of the last several weeks where I have been making posts dissecting them… the first of them on 9/17/2018.

Charting the Data

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Ultimately I ignored the hype cycle since it didn’t seem to make much of a different upon the longevity of my play time, and instead focused on the time from launch of an expansion to the time I first bounced.  The above is this data in bar chart form.   I am not terribly shocked that the period in which I was the most engaged was Wrath of the Lich King because for me at least this was the golden era of raiding and guild leadership.  Weirdly enough I remembered in my mind bouncing faster from Vanilla than I actually did…  but staying engaged longer in Burning Crusade.  Regardless those first three expansions were prime wow time, and had some fairly meaty engagement periods for me personally.  Cataclysm I stuck it out longer than I remembered it…  Pandaria I bounced way faster than I remembered…  and then I was completely shocked at how much time I seem to have been engaged during Warlords of Draenor.  So much so that I would have sworn I had been engaged longer with Legion, because in my memory I remember that time much more fondly.  Last we have Battle for Azeroth which as the data shows is in fact my fastest time to disengage from a World of Warcraft expansion.

So what does this data mean?  Not a whole lot given that this is my personal trend with World of Warcraft expansions.  The truth is…  it might be the lack of an active raid that caused the quick detach from Pandaria and Battle for Azeroth.  In Panda I was technically making attempts but seeing no success, and in BfA the timing has kept us from pulling anything together.  I’ve said a few times that I thought I needed a raid to anchor me in the expansion, and I will admit a lot of my engagement time in TBC and Wrath was due to the fact that I felt like I HAD to be there as Guild Leader.  Once I stopped leading guilds in World of Warcraft, I also lost a big chunk of my reason for sticking it out.  All of that said… I think the expansions themselves bear some responsibility as well.  Wrath of the Lich King as far as I am concerned is the true golden era of World of Warcraft…  not Vanilla.  The numbers seem to agree with this stance, and most of the times I remember most fondly are from this period of gaming.  I think World of Warcraft for me personally has been a series of me attempting to recapture the magic from that era and failing.  In any case I thought this might make for an interesting post.

 

Hammering Diablos

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This morning is one of those mornings where I am struggling extremely hard.  I’ve been staring blankly at the screen for about thirty minutes now and having one of those “there is not enough coffee in the world” sort of moments.  I got to bed plenty early but for whatever reason it was a very fitful experience.  I woke up so many times because I decided I needed to adjust to get comfortable, kicked off the covers because I was hot, or then woke up shivering because it was too cold.  I also woke up with a sore thought, which I am hoping is going to disappear as the morning goes on.

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Last night I did not do the thing where I did a Mythic for the hope of getting something from a chest… only to be disappointed.  Instead I focused on Monster Hunter World and managed to catch up rather quickly as I downed Diablos, Rathalos and the second outing with Zorah Magdaros before taking a break.  It is shocking how much easier certain monsters are with certain weapons.  For example I almost exclusively played Longsword during my PS4 play though, and this time around I have been endulging myself in a little weapon swapping.  Diablos is so much easier with a Hammer than with a Longsword.  Similarly since I am playing almost exclusively solo…  I am noticing patterns that I never really picked up on the first time around.  I managed to take out Diablos for example without getting carted even once, which is something I am pretty damned proud of.

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I wish that were true with Rathalos…  but alas it was very much not the case.  I managed to capture it while sitting on my last attempt, and while dodging Anjanath and Tobi-kadachi who were in a three way brawl with the target I needed.  Hammer was fine… pending I could knock Rathalos out of the sky, and in those times I could pour on the head damage.  The rest of the time… I was mostly trying to avoid getting hit by nasty business like fire or poison.  I stacked up double poison resistance to help me out a little, which I am sure was a good plan.  I fully expected to have to make a couple of attempts at the fights, so I am fairly proud that I cleared them in one shot each.  I mean Zorah Magdaros is largely on rails so I am not super proud of that one…  but I did manage to get a gem to drop so that is at least something.

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Now I will be moving on to High Rank Pukei-Pukei which I think is the point at which the game decides that I am really and truly able to craft High Rank gear finally.  I am hoping to at least be able to craft a few pieces of Zorah gear, and maybe some HR Bone gear as well to get upgraded quickly.  I expect there to be a certain measure of faffing about as soon as I cross that threshold to get geared enough to be able to take down HR Anjanath and HR Pink Anjanath which if I am remembering correctly are waiting on me on the other side.  Effectively my goal is to be able to farm the Wyvern Ignition event when it starts at the end of the week, along with any of the other interesting cosmetic events that are available.  Expect me to be capturing a bunch of wigglers to get that nonsense helm, as well as the nifty Tzitzi glasses.

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Towards the very end of the night I took a break from the Monster Hunting and ran around in Diablo 3 with my good friend Grace… who admittedly is still mostly carrying me.  I can function on my own just fine… but maybe not quite effectively at T13 levels yet.  We knocked out a few achievement pieces and then focused on running a bunch of Greater Rifts.  All in all it was a pretty great night, and one in which I never bothered to log into World of Warcraft and even check to see what the daily emissary was.  Admittedly I checked this morning and it looks like fox persons for not-order-hall-resources, which would be skippable other than the giant boost to faction.  Largely all of the emissary quests feel skippable… other than the faction hit.  Regardless it was a good night, and I will probably be having more of these good nights in the future as I continue to plink away at catching my PC Monster Hunter account up to my PS4 one.

Hunts, Singletons and Dragalias

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I was all over the place this weekend as far as gaming time spent.  I would say that largely this was the weekend that I did not play World of Warcraft…  but that isn’t entirely true.  I logged in every day and did my Emissary quest, and then last night while watching Fear the Walking Dead season finale I was piddling around on my Draenei Paladin.  Past that however I didn’t end up doing much in the game I had until now been almost exclusively playing.  This weekend saw a major resurgence of Monster Hunter World, in part because they are just about to release the Wyvern Ignition blade quest to the PC crew and I want it.  In fact the Fall Festival event has a bunch of the quests all lumped together at once and I plan on trying to pick them up as well.  That means unfortunately I have to be able to get my way to High Rank, which also means I am going to need to play in a more focused manner than I am used to.

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Weirdly enough I have found myself lately favoring the Hammer instead of the Long Sword.  While I am still maintaining a collection of swords and effectively keeping both weapons up to date…  I am finding that there are just some monsters that become easy to farm with the hammer.  Namely Radobaan is nonsense easy with a hammer, and the stupid spin attack off of a surface is amazing in a whole lot of situations.  Right now I am largely sticking to the Iron line of hammers because it allows me to craft them fairly easily… and also sets me up for a Nergi hammer at some point.  I am up to the point in the quest chain where I need to hunt a Rathalos and a Diablos…  which will be challenging I am sure but also doable given I have beaten both of them multiple times.  Diablos should be considerably easier with a hammer than I am used to with Longsword.  The other weapon that I want to craft at some point in the switch axe, which is something I played with and enjoyed at high level but never really messed with at the lower levels.  If I am remembering correctly…  Zorah Magdaros is immediately following the quest chain I am on and then I will be moving into High Rank territory.  If I put my mind to it I should be able to wrap that up before the event starts I believe Thursday or Friday.

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The other game that I have been playing a shocking amount of lately is Magic the Gathering Arena.  On September 27th they launched the Open Beta and with it in theory the last of the card resets.  Since then I have started tinkering with decks and have a few reasonable options….  but honestly mostly find myself playing Stompy Green/Steel Leaf Champion or my Mono Black Burn deck.  The first I am still tuning but the Mono Black Burn is still performing like a champ, but since it was built before the advent of Guilds of Ravnica it could probably be greatly improved with a few cards that are now available and with splashing another color.  Assassin’s Trophy is still the champion of the new expansion so far, but I am also loving a bunch of cards like the Nullhide Feerox and as far as one drops go… I love Pelt Collector that increases in potency as you start summoning bigger creatures.

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They had a freebie event this weekend that allowed you to create a singleton deck and so long as you got a single win… you got an uncommon or better card.  This netted me several mythics and rares, but also served to keep me engaged and grinding.  Unfortunately they allowed Rat Colony decks…  which by rules can have any number of copies of the card rat colony…  so essentially when you get matched up with one of those you might as well concede out because there is no way your janky singleton mess can keep up with it.  I also had a large number of wins under questionable terms this weekend…  namely there were several times when I got an awful lot of damage out of Llanowar Elves.  I am not exactly proud of this moment when I enchanted one with Blanchwood Armor to ultimately win the game.  Guilds of Ravnica sealed was a heck of a lot of fun and I went 3/3 with my deck…  the prime problem being that my love of black and green keep me from drafting pretty much anything else.  It isn’t that I cannot see the good in other colors… its just that my brain values those colors over pretty much anything else.  I am in fact Golgari at heart.

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In the “Game I didn’t expect to play” category… I was somehow busy enough during the tail end of the week to completely miss Dragalia Lost becoming a thing.  As such on the podcast I was introduced to the game when all of the other members of the show were talking about it…  then was super slow getting the podcast out because I kept spacing out while playing it Sunday morning.  It is an awful lot of fun, but I am struggling with the same problem I have with other mobile games in thinking “this would be so much better if it were not a mobile game”.  I think I largely just hate touch screen interfaces, and while this game is an awful lot of fun… the clunky nature of having to drag your finger around the screen makes it feel extremely awkward.  If this were on the switch I would be completely hooked, but on a phone…  you still have that barrier that I don’t like playing on my phone.  The other problem I am encountering is it completely shreds my battery, so I guess I need to tweak down the settings to try and come up with a flavor that looks less pretty but doesn’t decimate my charge.

Lastly we have the podcast itself, that I named Gacha of Mana since Dragalia Lost reminded me so much of Secret of Mana.  You have a brash guy, a blond girl, and some sort of a sprite thing that provides a lot of the comic relief.  Anyways during the show we talk about Spiderman PS4, Magic the Gathering Arena Open Beta, Celeste, Dragalia Lost… and then a conversation about how the grind in Battle for Azeroth just feels lousy.  The last part is largely why I had a weekend without much Warcrafting, as I am trying to limit my exposure to maybe extend the amount of time it takes me to angrily quit.  I need to spend some time tonight doing Mythics, but in truth I have reached a point where that doesn’t even matter that much to me given it will be a box of disappointment on Tuesday.

Exploration and Magic

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Outdoor Cat

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This morning there is not going to be much of a blog post because reasons.  I am just flat out struggling today to get my act together enough to string coherent words today.  Additionally my middle cat has made it her job this morning to try and walk across my keyboard as many times as humanly possible this morning.  Additionally I spent some time playing with the outdoor cat.  We don’t know the cats name, but it is a super sweet bobtail tabby that started following my wife while walking…  and to keep him from getting super lost she started feeding him as a distraction.  This turned into a morning ritual where he shows up at the door looking for food…  and since he is super sweet and friendly we feed him.  Still a little skittish, but from what we have found out.. he technically belongs at a house about five doors down…  who also regularly feeds him.

Regardless …  adorable cat…  wanted food this morning so I stopped what I was doing and obliged and then proceeded to get headbutted periodically while the vigorous “monching” proceeded.  I mean it is a pretty great start to the day and I am pretty sure the rest of the day will be downhill from here.

As far as gaming goes I attempted to run Looking For Raid last night… and wound up bailing on the last boss of the new wing that opened up.  There is some heinous trash before hand and a combination of the tanks and dps kept trying to pull all of it at the same time summarily wiping us.  I suffered through three of these wipes before I finally said screw it and bailed.  Maybe by the weekend people will have sorted out not to do that…  or it will get hotfixed to remove some of the trash.  Regardless I got a nice trinket…  which is when the begging began.  Shortly after it dropped I started getting random tells from people wanting to get it from me.  I had already equipped because I liked it better than one of my trinkets.  However one person went so far as to berrade me for equipping it since I already had a 350 in that slot, and that I should be sharing.

This is the point at which I blocked the person and moved on with my life, but this sort of behavior has seemingly become more rampant.  Any time I decide to pug something I’ve seen a significant uptick in loot beggers and it is just annoying.  I really wish there was a flag to keep your loot from showing up publicly, and thereby masking you from any of those addons that try and determine if the person who got the loot deserved it.  The truth is I don’t really want to be in a LFR in the first place…  it makes it worse that I now have to deal with a line of randos vying for the single item that I managed to get during the week from ANY content so far.  I think this feels worse right now than it did in other expansions because the loot feels super scarce and unsatisfying.  As a result when someone begs for an item my guttural knee jerk reaction is “fuck you, get your own damned loot”, which again… is not a healthy stance to take towards a video game.

Essentially as I talked about last night, there is a certain set of circumstances that have created this environment that just feels bad.  No one factor is the cause, but instead in some sort of a SimCity-esc RCI meter…  all of the settings have been tweaked to awful at the same time and it is making the entire experience feel suddenly worse than it ever did.  That is not to say that there are also not an awful lot of things going right.  I have legitimately enjoyed the storyline quite a bit, but the story…  is a limited quantity that is over quickly and instead what remains is all of the repeatable content loops that now feel sort like an off balance washing machine careening towards eventually spilling its load.  The artwork as well is completely on point.  The alliance side areas for example are some of the best looking I have seen in any expansion.  I feel bad about complaining all of the time, but ultimately that is the experience I am feeling so as such I share it with you my readers.

Badluck Coins and Locks

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This is going to be one of those mornings where I may or may not actually ever get around to a point.  I am feeling extremely blah about writing a post because quite frankly it feels like I don’t have an awful lot that is positive to talk about.  Right now I am in this World of Warcraft cycle, but I am not exactly feeling like I should be.  There are just a lot of aspects of Battle for Azeroth that feel bad and I am not entirely certain why.  Some of it might be of my own making, and other aspects might be that I have simply moved past this game and am unwilling to admit it.  The whole maining Horde thing has been a challenge on a whole lot of fronts, not the least of which has been that the vast majority of my contacts are still on the Alliance side.  Similarly I feel like I am starting from scratch, with a handful of characters instead of one of every class leveled to at least 100, so it feels extremely awkward.

The other challenge is I am just not a great fit for the raiding options that I have available to me.  Sunday night is a bad time for me to set aside four hours worth of time to be dedicated to raiding.  I mean I knew that going into this expansion but I thought maybe I could make it work, when really the one raid I attended felt awful from a time management standpoint.  Sunday night is the night we do all of the things that we forgot to do over the weekend, and I am simply not adult enough to make sure I have everything done that needed to be done.  Similarly my wife is in a mad scramble to print things and plan lessons and such… and if there is even the slightest technical problem my entire night is shot trying to troubleshoot why the fuck every machine but hers will print to the printer.  I fucking hate printers…  they are the worst thing ever created.  I’ve seriously done some voodoo shit when it comes to trying to make her devices recognize the printer…  things I am not proud of.  I contemplated sacrificing a chicken once…  and we don’t even have one.

The other problem I am struggling with in WoW is that so many things just feel awful.  Like for example…  I was slightly looking forward to my Mythic+ chest…  and that excitement died 5 minutes after logging in when I saw that I got a cloak significantly lower than the one I am currently wearing.  Similarly I zoomed over for a shot at loot from the Weekly World Boss…  and got a pittance of gold for my troubles.  We are in the wrong phase of the Warfront cycle so we don’t have access to push a button and get instant loot…  and I’ve already killed the Warfront Boss so that is done for the time being as well.  There is a weekly quest to grind timewalking dungeons… or a supposed box of Uldir loot…  but I am sure it will be one of the slots I already have 370 gear in and feel completely useless.

The thing is I don’t mind RNG…  because in the past I have ground my face off pushing myself to run things over and over until the item I wanted dropped.  That is a perfectly reasonable cycle that I am willing to do.  However when I am given a single chance each week at getting something interesting…  and those options wind up with an insignificant amount of gold or artifact power it feels horrible.  Sure I can buy two expensive as fuck second chance tokens that are also not guaranteed, that end up making you feel like a complete fool when that 5000 gold you just spent ended up giving you 200 artifact power.  The fact that I am not actively raiding…  leaves me in this sort of unmoored state where I have no viable means of making the number go up…  which is the point where I start to check out.

It is moments like this that I marvel at just how well the systems in Final Fantasy XIV work…  and why I cannot figure out why that game just doesn’t grab me anymore.  Were the weekly boss a Final Fantasy encounter…  you would be able to run it as many times as you liked, but only receive one piece of loot for the week.  I loved the whole concept of being locked from receiving further loot from an instance once you received a piece of gear, because it allowed you to choose when to spend your lockout.  You could run one of the 25 player semi-raid instances over and over until you got that chest piece that you really desperately needed.  It gave you some measure of control over how you geared and with what items… instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

Similarly Final Fantasy XIV also has a second chance currency that you accumulate over time by doing stuff, that allows you to buy the items you are needing as well.  Gold and Artifact Power feel horrible reward wise… and there is nothing they can ever do to really fix that.  However if you downed a boss that say rewarded 10 badluck coins normally…  but if you failed to get a drop you were instead given a little gold and maybe 20 badluck coins as a consolation prize for spending your lockout…  that would feel decent.  I would know in the back of my head that maybe I lost the roll today, but in a few weeks time I will be able to save up all of those badluck coins to purchase something equivalent to the items I wanted before anyways.

Ultimately this also feeds into another discussion point from last night on the AggroChat show slack…  gear feels largely unexciting as well.  There used to be items that were worth grinding for that felt interesting and unique.  For example… I ate, breathed and slept Mechanar in Burning Crusade when I found out there was a weapon as cool as The Sun Eater in that dungeon.  With a single shot at it per day… I forced group after group to follow me in  there for yet another shot at it and it took what felt like months for it to actually drop.  When I got it… it was an amazing feeling because I could finally wield this amazing weapon that I had been fighting so hard to get.  It looked glorious but also felt like it was really viable and quite honestly held me until I got a drop from Serpentshrine Caverns some 15+ months after the release of Burning Crusade.

Now when we get gear we are getting Raid Axe #3 colored Blue, or Raid Sword #1 colored Red…  the gear lacks any sense of originality and is largely just an accumulation of stats that either are or are not whatever the hell your class optimally wants.  It feels like a handful of numbers that you punch into a calculation and not a physical tangible item that you seek after.  There are very few instances where you want an item… because it looks amazing…  because it is only place where that sort of item drops…  and because it is the going to hold you for awhile when you ultimately get it.  Now every piece of gear feels completely disposable and unworthy of the effort that it requires to get it.

Basically I am just in this cycle where a whole bunch of things that never bothered me… are now bothering me.  I want to finish the Alliance storyline on the Paladin so I have at least seen that.  However if I am not attached to a raid group in a tanking role by the time I finish that process… I am likely done with Battle for Azeroth for the time being.  It is unhealthy to get angry at a video game, and even though mine isn’t so much anger…  but more disappointment…  that also isn’t exactly healthy either.

Yoinking Yang

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

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

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

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