Other Worlds

ffxiv_dx11-2016-09-12-20-16-14-98

ffxiv_dx11-2016-09-12-20-16-14-98

Last night marked my return to the Monday night raid thing in Final Fantasy XIV, that I had not been able to attend the last few weeks for one reason or another.  I know most of my blog coverage lately has been about Legion, but I still have a soft spot in my heart for lots of other games.  The intention was to pull together last night and do a lot of raidy bits, but I kinda ruined that.  I’ve written about the struggles to get Luna integrated with our household and the other two cats.  Things are still not going well, and I am not sure if they ever will at this point.  She simply hates other cats, and I cannot seem to get her from charging the other cats when she sees them.  This is a sort of behavior I have never seen in any of the other cats we have had throughout the years.  It has gotten so bad that the only real way we can stop her is by dousing her with a spray bottle.  Which seems to do NOTHING for the long term effect and only distracts her for the moment…  because seconds later she is charging once again.  So the only other option is to keep her shut up in my wife’s office…  which is a somewhat shitty life.  Now we are on that hard precipice of trying to decide what is best for her and what is best for our other two cats.  We have some options, but one of them is of course to return her to the organization we adopted her from.  I’ve never really felt as much as a failure as I do right now because we have tried so many things…  including the extremely expensive pheromone night light things.  In any case…  Tam really likes to just queue the group instead of doing a ready check, and there was a period of time where I was away from the screen dealing with cats.  The end result of too many of these premature queues unfortunately is that I locked the entire group out, at which point we dissolved instead of waiting thirty minutes for it to clear.  We did however at least get a single kill in before that happened, and knocked out some needed content for one of the guildies.

gw2-64-2016-09-12-22-47-56-48

The other game I have been occasionally poking my head into is Guild Wars 2.  I have a really fraught relationship with this game, but it has been something that I have patched up multiple times and attempted to play.  I say attempted, because no matter how many times I try there is just something that never quite clicks with me.  I made it to about 65 on my own recognizance… and then got boosted due to the daily login system the rest of the way to 80.  While I have tried a bunch of different classes… it feels like the one I still like the most is Warrior in spite of how lousy melee generally feels in this game.  During a recent sale I managed to pick up Heart of Thorns for $18… and I figured it was well worth giving it a try for that price.  With that came with a boost to 80, but I have not figured out what class I actually want to use it on.  During Pax South 2015 when they announced the expansion… I thought Revenant was going to be the class for me.  However the boost allows you a “try before you buy” sort of functionality… and in practice the class just doesn’t feel like anything I am interested in.  It is this strange amalgam between WoW Shaman, Deathknight, and Rogue and in a way that just doesn’t exactly feel like something I want to play.  During the boost it hands you a hammer and a pair of swords, but I am wondering if maybe one of the other weapon combos feels better since as warrior I only really like greatsword and hammer.   In any case I popped in last night for a bit and started actually trying to move my original story forward… I stalled out around 60 and just never tried to pick it back up.  Maybe the story will hook me into the game in a way that the gameplay never actually did.

Breaking Silence

wow-64-2016-09-12-06-38-16-69

wow-64-2016-09-12-06-16-43-42

After the challenges of last week, this past weekend was largely a time to chill out and relax.  On the “paw” front I am pleased to announce that the round of IV antibiotics seemed to work pretty well given that the swelling is largely down as is the redness.  There is one spot that is a bit troubling, but we are watching it.  I am guessing that the location went a little deeper than the rest and as such might take a little longer to recover.  There is always the fear that the bite penetrated a tendon or something else, but we will continue to watch it as it hopefully heals.  On the gaming front… I had all of these grand ideas about running nonstop dungeons, but what happened in reality is that I wound up chilling with the wife downstairs and watching various stuff on the television.  It felt like it would be an invasion of the peace and quiet to get on voice chat and start talking “strategery” and such.  What happened instead is that I queued up a few times as a pug dps, and spent time working on older stuff in the meantime while waiting on that lengthy queue to pop.  Of note on the Ruin server group, the queue time for a DPS is about 45 minutes, which means I had plenty of time to work on other objectives while waiting on the queue to pop.  I spent some time in Warlords farming spawns attempting to get my Shatari Defense reputation up… because I am admittedly a bit jealous of Grace and her amazing fire mammoth mount that she keeps running around on.  The only problem there is it seems with the opening of Tanaan Jungle at least one of the farm spots has been nerfed into the ground… and Shattrath city has spawns really far apart making it hard to gather things up and AOE them down with whirlwind spam.

wow-64-2016-09-12-06-49-33-78

Another queue I wound up spending on the Isle of Giants in Pandaria where I learned a few key things.  Firstly once again it is hard to gather everything up and AOE it down… because my aggro radius is minuscule now with the dinosaurs.  Second I can apparently now easily solo Oondasta as Fury, so that is going to go on the mount farming list.  The white raptor mount has been something I have worked on for awhile, and yesterday I ground out the last 2000 bones roughly.  The queue popped before I could actually turn in, so I had to finish things up after the dungeon.  The real takeaway from the weekend however is…  my theory of treating World of Warcraft like Final Fantasy XIV seems to largely be working.  Upon entering a dungeon, be it as tank or as dps… I do my customary “Hey Folks” which seems to unjam the conversation mechanism.  Then throughout the dungeon folks tend to be willing to talk, but if I don’t say anything… it seems like folks are willing to just ride along in silence because there has always been the wowism that silence is preferable to dealing with assholes.  The thing is… I think we can do better and a lot of the negative opinion folks have of this community is due to the fact that folks are willing to either put up with bullshit in dungeons because they want it to be over and don’t want to have to deal with another 45 minute queue.  I am not sure if it is going to help, but I am absolutely making an effort to talk to people be it in my Class Hall fielding questions like I did yesterday… or running a dungeon, or even out in the world while doing an objective.  I think most of us just simply assumed that no one was willing to have conversation, and I am trying to flip that assumption on its head.

wow-64-2016-09-12-06-38-16-69

The other big thing from the weekend is that I started work on my second character.  Some time ago I started Exeter my Paladin off by getting Lightbringer.  However after swapping Belghast to tanking, I am finding it way easier to quest like a madman in that mode.  So as soon as I hit 102 I did the quest chain to pick up the second artifact, and had been holding artifact power items in reserve for awhile.  Unlike Belghast I have a clear path that I am planning on working towards first, which I guess makes the experience feel more purposeful.  On the Warrior protection tree there were so many cool things that I wanted, but none of them seemed to be clearly better than any of the others.  Paladin it feels like there is one right choice for survival, and I am going in that direction first.  Largely I devoted the time spent during the podcast to working on this guy, and by the end of the night I had hit 102 and was off into tanky land.  I apparently also unlocked one of the appearances so I quickly swapped to the purple look and used it as an excuse to rock my purple judgement set.  The one set that I wish existed in game is the yellow judgement set that you see one of the NPCs wearing.  As it stands I have normal, Blue from the opening of Wrath event, and purple from the BC era heroics.  This really is the best looking tier set in the game, and I wish more recolored sets would show up in dungeons, which reminds me… at some point I really need to work on farming up the turquoise wrath set.  In any cases it was a good weekend and fairly relaxing, but it is my hope that with the week I will be back doing dungeons with friends again.  I am now up to 823 item level on Belghast, which means I need to be hitting up those heroics.

 

Hand Update

This isn’t going to be a terribly amazing blog post this morning, but I still feel like I need to put one up.  Yesterday did not involve an awful lot of gaming, though I did manage to move the needle forward a little bit on the Warrior class hall quest.  Largely I was in a holding pattern waiting for my wife to get home from work, so we could decide what we needed to do about her hand.  During the course of the day it had gotten worse.  When she went to urgent care on Wednesday night, they drew a margin around the red area.  They said that if it crossed that boundary, she really needed to get to the emergency room and get some IV delivered antibiotics.  Well during the course of the day yesterday it crossed that line…  and then the school nurse drew a new line…  and by the time she got home from work it had crossed that boundary as well in several places.  Neither one of us really like going to the doctor, but my wife specifically abhors it.  So to contemplate going to the emergency room was almost a bridge too far for her.  Thankfully we live in a smallish suburb with an ER that isn’t too heinous, but I assumed as the night went on it would get considerably more busy.

The long story short is that they did in fact hook her up to an IV and let a bag of some sort of high powered antibiotic drip into her for about thirty minutes.  As of this morning there was really no noticeable change, but they did also tell us that the redness wasn’t really the big warning sign.  If she started having shooting pain up her arm, or red streaks traveling in that direction… then it needed to be taken seriously.  The worst part of this whole thing however is now my wife not only has one hand that is partially functional but the other one is going to be bruised up more than likely from the IV and also not completely functional.  The other worst part is that by the time we got out of the hospital at 9 pm last night we were both starving, and decided that since they took a lot of blood work that we would have some red meat.  The frustration of the whole situation is knowing that what you are going for isn’t that critical, but that it is also literally the only way to get IV antibiotics.  I have no clue why urgent care places can’t do that sort of thing, because it seemed silly to actually have to go to a hospital.

In any case… by the time I got upstairs I was zoning out pretty hard and ultimately went to bed around 10:30.  I would have gone earlier but I was trying to allow Luna some snuggle time with mommy before carrying her upstairs to sequester her up in the office over night.  I hate that my wife is having to go through this, especially considering like a week and a half before I had the exact same thing happen to me… and my cat bite healed just fine.  I guess after a couple decades of having cats, it was bound to happen to one of us.  I just wish it had happened to me, because I am used to being malfunctioning.

Battered Paw

wow-64-2016-09-08-06-20-40-45

The last twenty four hours has been interesting for a few reasons…  most of them not terribly good.  A few days back I introduced you to Luna, and to say her integration into our family has not been going swimmingly is an understatement.  She is quite possibly one of the sweetest cats we have encountered… when it is human to cat interactions.  However as she has gotten more comfortable in the house, she has also become less tolerate and more willing to straight up fight our other two cats.  We are trying to work through this, but occasionally one of us has to try and break up a fight.  Yesterday my wife attempted to break up one of those fights by trying to remove our youngest from the situation.  In a highly stressed and freaked out state Kenzie bit the shit out of her hand.  Now this same sequence of events had happened a few weeks earlier to me… but this time Luna bit me.  For me everything seemed to be fine once I stopped the bleeding because four puncture wounds can really produce a lot of blood.  For my wife however she is having some adverse effects… namely that her hand is swollen, red and fevered.  Yesterday after work she went to an urgent care place here in town, and they too were concerned giving her a shot of antibiotics, and a ten day course.  They also drew a boundary around the effected area saying, if the redness breaks this line… to get to the emergency room because my wife will need a course of IV antibiotics.

Needless to say I am now doing a lot of things for her, given that it is painful to grip anything in her primary hand.  I’ve latched a couple of bras and opened a lot of pill bottles and pretty much anything else that requires grip strength.  I would post a picture of her poor battered “paw” but honestly I am not sure the comfort level folks have with seeing injuries.  When I posted my knee, it looked questionable but there were no open wounds.  This on the other hand feels like it would cross some invisible internet line.  Needless to say it looks bad, and thanks to the irregular line around it…  and the swollen nature of the area… it kinda reminds me of a jellyfish.  On the Luna front, what is ultimately happening is that we have built her a little suite of sorts in my wife’s office with litter, food and water and some comfy places to chill.  She is ultimately staying there when we go to bed around midnight, and then getting back out when we are physically home and able to intervene if needed.  The problem with this is that when I let her out each night she is starved for attention, and it just makes me feel horrible for doing it.  That said I don’t want either side of this squabble to injure themselves further.  Both Luna and Kenzie/Allie have several battle scars already from the past scuffles.  Nothing yet that needs a trip to the vet thankfully, but still I don’t want to encourage more unsupervised “encounters”.  Additionally when we are at home we try and make sure there is one of us on each floor of the house… so that there are clear safe zones that they can stay away from each other.  I just am not sure how we get past this current situation and get to one where they at least tolerate being in the same room…  if not hopefully someday are friends.

wow-64-2016-09-08-06-20-40-45

As far as the game goes, last night was a night of doing so many World Quests.  Early in the evening I unlocked a set of quests… the first was to do 30 World Quests, and the second was to collect 30 Demonic Runes.  Somehow I managed to actually complete both of these last night during my extended play session.  With my wife in her current injured state I purposefully tried not to get into anything that I could not also get out of rapidly.  There are so many little things that she just needs help with at the moment, and I didn’t want to inconvenience her or my party by getting into group content.  So I spent the majority of the night running around doing these little vignettes of action, and I guess I caught it at exactly the right time…  because when I finished the first round there were a handful of new ones up popping which allowed me to complete the 30 in total.  This is not the sort of thing I will do often, as in try and do “all the quests” but it was fun to do it at least once.  One of the things that I like the most about World Quests is that I don’t have to worry about collecting a quest… and if I get interrupted having it stranded in my quest log that I will then have to abandon to pick up something else of importance.  I get to enjoy the action while it is happening and then forget about it if I need to get pulled away.  The real shocker of the night however was that I did one of the PVP quests…  admittedly without really intending to.  I was bouncing around the map and noticed that there was a nearby quest with good rewards…. and it was only after I had killed a few mobs did I realize that I was now apparently flagged.  It took a lot of deaths…  not to PVP but just to the density of the mobs, but I managed to complete it and get my shiny bauble.  All in all it seems like these are a way more reasonable and enjoyable form of potential PVP for me…  it is doing an objective that has a clear reward at the end… rather than just killing players for the sake of killing players.

World Quests and the App

Wow-64 2016-09-06 22-48-22-86

Wow-64 2016-09-07 06-42-57-22

More than anything for me Legion seems to be the expansion where Blizzard learned a bunch of lessons.  One of those lessons was apparently that putting a mobile game system in a desktop client… was not actually all that fun.  The Garrison system more or less was an upkeep and timer based mobile game system, designed to be fiddled with constantly, however the problem is that this same system often times prevented you from actually going out and engaging in the world.  With the advent of Order Halls, and missions… it was my ultimate fear that this system would be extremely similar.  However over the weekend at Pax West they announced the mobile client, and with it launching yesterday…  it improves this side of the game so much.  Not only do I get notifications on my phone when a mission has completed, and can then collect the rewards and queue up for another mission… it also allows me to check to see what world quests are available.  Yesterday this allowed a few of my friends and I to plan our goals for the evening, of knocking out a handful of larger world quests before diving into dungeon madness.  We saw that there were several group quests available that rewarded gear, and after dinner we gathered to knock them out.  The only negative so far is that when you are using the app it appears to log you out of the game.  It was my hope that it would be a true “companion” app like the Bungie website that allows you to fiddle with things while playing the game… and prevents you from actually having to go back to your order hall while the action is happening.  That unfortunately is not the case, which makes me wonder if there were some odd technical limitations here preventing that.

Wow-64 2016-09-06 22-48-22-86

What the game really provides for me that has been lacking, is a larger shared purpose of things that I can be doing out in the world… to keep improving my character.  The World Quest system is almost exactly like Diablo 3 bounties, in that it provides a bunch of bite sized objectives that you can then complete to somehow move that needle forward.  In my case at least I am largely focused on the items that give me physical gear upgrades, or artifact power… but I am certain after time I will begin caring about order resources as well.  Essentially it is Garrison missions… but turned into fun combat missions where YOU are the person actually going out into the world and doing things rather than simply commanding from a table.  Ultimately to keep me engaged a game needs to function in two different ways.  Firstly it needs to provide me a constant source of things I can do by myself to keep feeling like I am progressing.  I can’t handle constant interaction, and there are large swaths of time where I need to quietly do my own thing.  World Quests give me this option because there is a constantly regenerating source of new missions popping up that I can go after.  A game also needs to give me both small and large group play that lets me spend time doing relevant stuff with my friends, and so far the dungeons have been this… and I am sure at some point in the near future raids will provide the large group interaction.  So long as the game can keep moving these paths forward…. and does not for some reason decide to let one simply die, I might be happy here for a long while.

Wow-64 2016-09-06 22-50-21-82

Last night something odd happened.  We were wrapping up a set of world quests when we got a message stating that “Azeroth itself recoils as <name> unleashes an ancient evil.  Kosumoth the Hungering walks the land once more…”.  Ashgar quickly looked this up and found that it is apparently a world boss that spawns in the Eye of Azshara sub zone, just to the south of Dalaran.  I finished my combat, and hearthed to Dalaran and then took a leap of faith… hoping that the Goblin Glider would be able to get me to the Island.  There were a few tense moments as my fatigue bar managed to get down to 15 seconds… before reversing course completely as I seemed to be through the dangerous area.  I landed just feet away from the flight path, which I ran over and grabbed… but by the time I got there the boss was apparently dead.  It seems like the world boss is one of the minions of the old gods, hanging out in the middle of the Island.  From everything I am reading it seems extremely puggable, and has a chance of dropping both an underwater mount and a pet…. though from the grumblings last night over say in the area it seems like nobody actually got either.  On some servers friends over twitter were talking about it destabilizing the zone, to the point where the flight master was not responding.  Thankfully my hearthstone for Dalaran was up, so I simply hearthed out to move on about my business.  However it seemed like this event spawned on all of the servers at the same time, which is an interesting new dynamic if that is the case.

Back to Tanking

Wow-64 2016-09-05 15-27-38-61

Wow-64 2016-09-04 10-05-47-79

It always feels strange sitting back down at the keyboard to blog after an absence.  This weekend was of course the Labor Day holiday weekend here in the United States, and our plans caused me to miss Saturday.  Since I was taking a single day off, I decided to go ahead and take the entire weekend off to just chill out and enjoy the goodness that is Legion.  When we last spoke I was sitting at level 105 and knee deep in Azsuna.  Since then I have dinged 110, which for some reason took me starting the final leveling zone High Mountain to accomplish.  Most of my friends hit the new level cap without touching that fourth leveling zone, but I am thinking some of it might be coming from harvest experience.  Additionally I seemed to get all log jammed up in my Class Hall quests, because it seems the order in which they would love you to level for Warriors is Stormheim and then High Mountain.  However I did Stormheim, Azsuna, Val’sharah, and finally High Mountain…  and even then the Warrior quest was buried deep inside of the content so much so that I finally said screw it and went out trying to find the location only to wind up terrain hacking my way onto the appropriate path with Heroic Leap.  Have I mentioned how bad I am at following the path?  This is my downfall in many games… that I see that a path exists, but the first thing I want to do is go running off into the wilderness on either side of said path.  As a result I miss so many quests because quest givers tend to be…  on paths.  Also as a result my first time through a zone takes me easily twice as long as literally any other player because I keep ending up backtracking trying to find that quest I missed.  On the positive however this expansion seems to FINALLY reward folks getting way the hell off the path.

Wow-64 2016-09-05 15-27-38-61

This screenshot… is the result of getting way the hell off of the path.  This is quite possibly the most enjoyable quest I have done in a really long time… and I didn’t understand a damn word of it.  That is right, you end up doing a quest for a Murloc… who only speaks Nerglish which I had to google to find out what the hell their language is called.  The result is a bunch of quest objectives that are “0/1 ?????” that you have to sort of figure out on your own what the little guy is wanting you to do.  This quest is something that none of my friends seemed to know about, and I only managed to find because I was completely off the path and wandering aimlessly along the coastline of Suramar.  This expansion more than any to date seems to be the expansion that Blizzard finally learned a lot of lessons, or at least reflected those lessons in their design process.  In the past there was always a problem of folks ONLY doing the boss that was required for a quest in a dungeon run, and then pugs often times dropped immediately after that kill.  So there was a high likelihood that you would get randomed into an instance with the boss you needed already dead.  Now anytime there is a collect X item or kill X boss from an instance quest, it also requires you to kill the final boss in order to get credit.  Similarly they seem to have learned the lessons of what made Garrisons feel horrible, because the Class Order Hall while deeply related in design…  feels nothing like the Garrison did in the daily requirement of logging in and doing wizard chores.  To make this even better it was announced over the weekend at Pax West that there was a mobile companion app on the way that lets you handle the Class Hall bits without ever needing to play the character swap game.

Wow-64 2016-09-04 10-05-35-87

Another thing that I spent a significant amount of time doing this week is exploring the various dungeons.  Yup you guessed it that also means that I have once again shifted focus to tanking, and have for the most part put my two-handers away for the moment.  Both protection and fury artifact weapons are at rank 13… which means any further progress is going to be completely silly as far as the artifact power cost goes.  I am however largely focusing now on the sword and shield, and am even considering doing some pvp to unlock that specific appearance.  The above screenshot is extremely special because Belghast and Finni were started at exactly the same time back in Vanilla.  Both my friend and I really wanted to level a Warrior and a Priest, but had minimal luck getting traction in leveling them solo.  So we made a leveling pact and we quested our way through the old world content as a Holy Priest and a Protection Warrior… and it was a blast.  All of my bad tanking habits probably started here, because she enabled my horrible instincts.  I would roll up into a Gnoll camp and pull the entire thing… knowing that she would keep me alive while I whittled them down slowly.  Once I hit the level cap I started tanking the alt raid nights for the Late Night Raiders, and with the release of Burning Crusade I shifted focus to tanking as my primary gig.  However due to motherly responsibilities, Finni just doesn’t get the amount of playtime that she used to so it is always awesome when we can run relevant content together.  The way this expansion levels content so that it is perfectly viable for a 100, 105, and a 110 to be in the same instance is really nice.  While other games have done this well for quite some time, I am happy to see Warcraft catching up here.

New Expansion Buzz

Wow-64 2016-09-01 13-29-26-88

Wow-64 2016-09-01 13-29-26-88

I have been having more fun in World of Warcraft than I have had in years.  That at least feels like a true statement, but also one that makes me question it.  Sure it seems like I am having a blast, but it got me thinking…  don’t I always have a lot of fun at the launch of a new expansion?  One of the interesting things about having a blog that has been active since 2009 is that in theory I should have evidence of how I felt at the launch of Cataclysm, Pandaria and Warlords.  Around the launch of Cataclysm I seemed to be mostly focused on grouping and gearing… and grinding dungeons to get to the magical number needed for raiding.  I think I was still very much in my “games are serious business” mode, so there really isn’t any talk about the expansion being fun or not.  In truth remembering that time period I was very much not having fun, and I think in the grand scheme of things that is ultimately why Cataclysm was the expansion that caused me to “quit” World of Warcraft.  The quit is of course a lie, considering that I am still playing the game… and never really went longer than six months without reactivating my account.  The launch of Pandaria unfortunately happened during a serious lapse in my posting, and by the time I start back up… I was on the daily posting kick and talking about casually playing the game.  With the launch of Warlords… I talk a lot about how nostalgic the game makes me feel, but in reality not much actually talking about how I am enjoying it.  This was after all the expansion I had originally said I was going to take a pass on… so this quote makes sense.

I still stand by my original statement that if you have no interest in World of Warcraft, this expansion will do little to change that.

So if I set out to prove that I am always pumped about the launch of a new game expansion…  I guess I disproved that theory?  I guess at least on some level, any infusion of new content is something that I ultimately enjoy.  There are new zones to explore, new quests to figure out… and lots and lots of tasty loot.  However this time around something feels different, and I am having trouble quantifying exactly what that is.  For the first time since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King… I have hope that the best days of the Warcraft franchise are not behind us.  With all of the previous expansions…  I felt like they did a decent job of stirring up nostalgia, but not really doing a great job of making me feel like the game has a new purpose.  This time around so much feels fresh, from the class designs and reworks to the fact that they all seem to be focused on a clear vision of what that class does.  I attempted to talk about this yesterday, but the fact that my airflow was pretty low ended up with the post being a jumbled mess.  To be truthful I am still sick right now, so for all I know this post is also going to be a jumbled mess.  However I love the feel of my Warrior for the first time since I really came into my own as a tanking main during Burning Crusade.  The irony here is the fact that I am not really tanking at all, but instead dpsing my way through the content as Fury.

Wow-64 2016-09-01 15-21-20-66

The only problem here is that we have just barely scratched the surface, and myself even more so than that.  The game launched Monday night, and we already have four level 110 characters in House Stalwart.  I am very much not one of them… but instead hanging back in the middle of the pack at level 105, having completely finished Stormheim and just started Azsuna.  I have no idea what the “feel” of the expansion is going to be once we all kick off the training wheels and move into that sometimes glorious time known as the end game.  Even Warlords had some really fun moments while leveling, and including some really amazing cinematic experiences.  However once we arrived at the end there was a very hollow game waiting for us.  I guess the difference this time is that with the launch of Warlords I absolutely expected to have bounced off of the game by about the three month mark.  In truth it was a little closer to the six month mark, but the bounce did in fact happen at least mentally even though I don’t think I ever actually cancelled my account this time around.  This time however…  I have a blazing pyre of hope that maybe just maybe that won’t happen.  Ultimately I really like what is going on… with the class design, with the storyline, with the zone creation, and heaven forbid with the lore itself.  The bigger story of Khadgar being Khadgar and Jaina being Angry…  well it can screw off.  However the intricate intra-zone stories are awesome, and I totally want to have reasons to hang out with Havi during later content.  World of Warcraft and Blizzard…  please don’t break my heart this time.

Artifact Collector

Wow-64 2016-08-31 22-53-59-49

Today is of course the beginning of September which draws to a close the month of August… and with it Blaugust.  I really should be making a post about the initiative and such, but I am not quite ready to do so.  Expect to see this post within the next few days.  However I will say that I am really pleased at how well the more low key version of the event seemed to go.  What I want to talk about instead however is my Warrior, Skyhold and how freaking awesome it has been to go through this Norse infused Titan journey.  One of my favorite sections of the World of Warcraft lore is that of the Titans and Old Gods, but even more so than that…  Ulduar.  For those not familiar, Ulduar is this romp through largely Norse themed mythology as you are introduced to the “Gods” that we are used to hearing in a slightly different light.  So instead of Thor we have Thorim or instead of Hoder we have Hodir.  On one level I am sure folks think it is a bit cheesy, but I ate up every bit of it… and was constantly interested on which Titans we would see in the next expansion… and even more so which Old Gods we might encounter.  I remember being completely enthralled with tinfoil hat theories about Old Gods being buried beneath various sections of Azeroth, and even cool maps that tried to guess where the next one might be located.  All of this will come into play later, but mostly I have to gush on how thoroughly happy I have been with both the Warrior Class Hall and related content, and choosing Stormheim as a starting location.

Wow-64 2016-08-31 21-00-45-86

Everything about both the zone and the Warrior class seems to be steeped in the lore of the Titans… more specifically the lore of the Norse themed Titans.  Up until this point Wrath of the Lich King was hands down my favorite of the World of Warcraft expansions, and I didn’t really understand why.  Thanks to this expansion I am starting to, because apparently I love all things Nordic and more importantly Vrykul.  In Stormheim, you are introduced to a “good” faction of Vrykul called the Valarjar.  As a Warrior you end up as a champion of the Valarjar, and find out that they are all the chosen folk of Odyn.  Storyline wise you are diametrically opposed to Helya and the Vyrkul that follow her… that are a blast from the past the Kvaldir.  Now you would be forgiven if you don’t recognize the name, but the Kvaldir were a very specific type of Vrykul that you encountered several times in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord the starter zones in Wrath of the Lich King.  They also made a similar appearance in Vashj’ir because they were ultimately the force waging war with the Naga during the Battlemaiden sequence of quests.  This expansion wraps things up neatly and while we already knew that they were essentially the dead lost at sea…  we find out that “Helheim” is where the dead of the sea goes to serve Helya.  There is this awesome quests sequence where you have to go into Helheim itself, and in many ways it reminds me of Coldharbor from Elder Scrolls Online.  I dinged 102 last night and I feel like I just barely scratched the surface of all that Stormheim has to offer.

Wow-64 2016-08-31 22-09-21-05

With 102 thought opened up the quest chain to allow me to collect the other artifact weapons.  So I ventured forth and set about to collect the protection and arms artifacts.  The protection quest was cool enough, but nothing to write home about.  The arms quest however… was pretty great.  This is a call back to the first paragraph of this post, and the speculation of where the old gods might be hiding in Azeroth.  Up until this point we have only really encountered three Old Gods…  C’Thun, Yogg-Saron, and Y’Shaarj.  There are rumors and speculations as to where the others night show up, and one of those locations has long be Tirisfal Glade due to a bit of flavor text.  During the Arms quest you venture into the Tomb of Tyr, which you find is located deep inside a lake within a previously unknown area of the Glade.  Inside you learn the story of Thoradin the King of Arathor who gave his life in battle with something buried underneath the Glade.  Much like the giant glaive embedded inside the skull in Darkshore, when you get into the tomb you see a sword embedded in something that was chained up Yogg-Saron style in a tomb.  In the process of retrieving the blade you wake Zakajz which appears to be Faceless One.  After doing battle you take up the sword and “execute” it in true warrior style, but more than that… it seems to lead credence to the theory that there is in fact an Old One somewhere beneath the Glade.  Why else would the Titans have chained something down there, and it also makes me wonder if Tyr’s tomb is going to eventually be the entrance once Bran Bronzebeard does some digging with dynamite and such.  I’ve barely scratched the surface of this expansion and I am already more excited about it than I have been since Wrath.  I really hope they finally make good on some of these plot threads and give us serious payoff in the process.

Expansion Retail Forgot

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

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

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

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

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

Wow-64 2016-08-30 18-22-38-11

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

Legion Without Rushing

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

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

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

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

Wow-64 2016-08-30 06-10-33-28

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