Raiding Upkeep


This is not exactly a topic I planned on talking about this morning, but in truth it is a pretty fresh one for me as well.  This morning while doing my early morning trying to find excuses not to start blogging thing… I encountered this topic come across my feed.  The interesting thing about it is that I am currently living on both sides of this statement.  Firstly…  I have lived most of warcraft life in a perpetual state of poverty.  For years I dealt with tanking repair bills, and even then never really got used to using the whole making gold off the auction house thing.  My preferred method of earning gold is laying waste to zones… but that has never really been that lucrative.  By now any profits that I gained from the era of hot and cold running garrison gold is disappearing rapidly.  On the other side of this coin I am part of the leadership of a fledgling raid, and our folks… myself included are running into the same lack of ability to really afford the normal trappings of raiding.  For now we have been eating up the stock of Warlords era flasks… just to feel like we are doing something, but those are not that useful with the mudflation of this expansion.  Right now in theory every raider needs cloak, ring and neck enchants, gems, flasks, and if we want to get really serious about things two potions per attempt.  At this very moment the prices for these items on my server are kinda madness.

  • Good Ring Enchants – 10,000 g (each)
  • Good Neck Enchant – 25,000 g
  • Good Cloak Enchant – 2000 g
  • Primary Stat Gem – 25,000 g
  • Secondary Stat Gems – 2,000 g (each)
  • Flask – 2,000 g (each)
  • Potion – 1,000 g (each)

So to walk into a raid night as good as you can possibly be, carrying a single stack of potions you are well over the 100,000 gold mark.  I have long since ceased to have that sort of money, and am presenting sitting around the 17,000 gold mark on my Main, with a few other characters that I could potentially steal gold from in the 20,000 range.  In theory I should be selling enchants to make money, but getting the materials has been its own challenge.  With everything functioning off of personal loot, the only way I get materials is if something is simply not an upgrade for me.  Now my guild is pretty awesome because it has been tradition lately in runs that they trade over anything that cannot be used for me to disenchant.  The challenge there however is that I have gotten enough materials so far to do one and a half neck enchant.  The material cost for everything is just insane right now, and as a result…  since we are not really a progression raid we have not pushed the point.  I personally have gems and enchants on everything, and have been using last generation flasks just to feel like I am doing something.  I am passing out as many ring enchants as I can since that represents the cheapest thing I can do, but even then…  a single ring enchant is 10 dust, which represents me eating 3-4 green pieces of gear or shattering 3 blue crystals.  My stock of materials is pretty much spent at this point, and I have only outfitted a handful of people in enchants.

We are in a similar boat with wishing the raid bank could be chipping in more.  We just are not getting enough of anything to be able to pass it around freely so right now…  folks are largely dipping into whatever profession they have on their alts.  Traditionally when a new expansion launches I play through whatever characters interest me, leveling alts as a method of relaxation.  This time around… I am absolutely leveling whichever alt has the profession I am finding myself really needing.  I pushed up Exeter my Paladin because I felt like I needed a miner to feed engineering on my main…  however I am wishing I had instead pushed up either my gemcrafter or my alchemist.  Presently I have been working up the alchemist, but so far it feels like there are just so many other things that I need to be doing, especially considering we are under a world quest faction bonus event.  More important than that… I through some strange string of luck have managed to get two legendaries already… so I absolutely need to have that 15,000 order resources ready and waiting in a few days for me to start researching that final trait that will allow me to equip both of them.  Ultimately it feels like there is simply too much to do right now, to shift into the mode of trying to find ways to make money to be able to afford your raiding upkeep.

The real challenge is of course this is the sort of expansion that brings back folks from the mists of time.  We have had so many people renew their accounts that have not touched the game since Cataclysm, or at least since Pandaria.  The problem is these folks did not have a pile of gold built up from the era of free garrison money.  I admittedly did not milk that as much as I should have because I was off playing other things.  Alt proposed that if it is that important that we have the Token system, but that seems horrible.  Not that she said it, because I don’t necessarily think she was being completely serious, but that it is something to consider.  The problem with this theory however is that right now those tokens are only going to get a player about 35,000 gold which seems insanely low when confronted with the price of things.  That would be able to afford you a neck enchant and a single ring enchant at the prices things are going for your $20.  My personal theory is that all of the crafting materials are purposefully painful, as a way to soak up all of the excess gold that is floating around on the server from the garrisons mistake.  Then at some point in the near future, be it 7.1 or a hotfix…  across the board crafting materials are going to be reduced making literally everything easier to create.  As a long time enchanter, I have seen this happen so many times over the expansions where enchants are mindboggling insane at the launch and then are later tempered considerably.

Where the real pain is happening is that those of us who did play Warlords are going through a bit of whiplash.  Tradeskills in general have gone from a complete polar shift, going from being extremely casual and something that everyone can do…  to being something extremely difficult to even get materials for.  As an example… even after crafting goblin gliders for basically anyone in the guild who wanted them this expansion…  I am sitting on a stockpile of over 2000 True Iron Ore on Belghast.  Comparatively I have less than 300 Leystone Ore so far… and that is from both my miner actively mining anything I come across in the world, and my main running the salvage armor shoulder enchant.  This post might be coming off  as complaining at the current state of things, but in reality I am mostly okay with it.  That said I have just had to come to realize that we are not going to have a raid of fully flasked players every single week.  If I cannot bring myself to spend that kind of gold just for the privilege of raiding casually…  I am certainly not going to expect anyone else to do it.  Similarly I also remember a time before flasks in raids was an expected thing at casual levels.  Hell our progression vanilla raid maybe had a flask on the tank, or on a handful of overachievers… but the other 34 of us seemed to get along just fine taking bosses down without consumables.  I realize fights are scaled completely differently now… but my ultimate hope is that consumables become an edge that players can use if they choose to afford it, but less of a hard requirement.  I realize this is going to mean we are progressing slowly, and I am largely okay with that… given that I am raiding this expansion to hang out with my friends more than anything.

Learning from Destiny: Loot Scaling



Last night I was a bad human being.  It was a pretty rough day at work because of reasons that I can’t really go into.  So when I got home I decided to boot up Destiny and check out the newest running of the Iron Banner event.  Quite literally the next thing I know it, it was almost 11 pm and I had spent the entire evening playing the game.  This would have been no big deal were it not for the fact that Tuesday nights are a night set aside generally for Final Fantasy XIV and raiding there.  I will have to send out my apologies later, but this is a testament to just how fun this “looter shooter” still is.  For those who are uninitiated… the Iron Banner is a PVP event, and one that I participate in freely and actually look forward to.  The reason behind this is that there is exclusive loot each time it runs from an awesome set of Iron Wolves themed gear and weapons.  During year two this was an amazing way to get increases in your overall light levels, and with year three the gear that is available is completely new and fresh.  Generally speaking each month the event brings two pieces of armor and two weapons, and this time around we have arms, class items, shotgun and auto rifle.  These items can be gained through rewards at the end of the match, or by ranking up with the Iron Banner faction and purchasing specific rolls of each off the new leader of the Iron Banner…  Lady Efrideet.  This time around the daily quests reward loot instead of just getting packages at rank 3 and rank 5, and I managed to complete two armor packages and two weapons packages.  I also managed to get to almost rank 4 in faction in the first night, which tells me that they are trying really hard to make this event feel like less of a grind.  As far as drops… I got one awful roll on the Auto Rifle, and four pairs of the gauntlets… most of which are going to be used as infusion fuel for my Hunter and Warlock whenever I get around to playing them.

Distant Cousins


For lack of a better term, Bungie and Blizzard are cousins because they exist as part of the same larger company of Activision Blizzard.  In fact it is rumored that during the planning for Taken King, Bungie had a sit down with the developers from Diablo 3 to talk about the lessons learned in crafting the “Loot 2.0” patch.  Now it took a lot of tweaking but I feel like Bungie finally landed on a version of that formula that works for them.  There are similar references in World of Warcraft Legion that draw ties back to Destiny, the most obvious is the above NPC in Dalaran that is named after the weekly NPC that shows up bringing awesome things and trading them for strange coins.  However it feels like there are still a lot of lessons that the World of Warcraft team could learn from the things that Destiny is doing right.  The games are designed very differently, but Destiny seems to have accomplished the holy grail of modern MMOs…  being able to create static content that players will be willing to repeat over and over.  The majority of the strike and crucible playlists are all pretty well worn at this point, but the way rewards are handed out makes a huge difference in the willingness of players to keep pushing forward and attacking the content.

Predictable Upgrades


Warcraft Legion is an expansion full of variable loot tables that shift and change through the use of the Warforging and Titanforging systems.  This was a definite good step forward, because it gives a slightly glimmer of hope that something interesting might come from the forty ninth time you are running Eye of Azshara to help a guildie through it.  The problem however is that it still feels like that glimmer of hope is an extremely tiny one.  Lets take the Looking For Raid system for example to throw some numbers at.  The baseline for all loot in that “raid” is 835, and more than likely if you defeat the personal loot boss…  the item you are going to walk away with is that low item level.  The zone as a whole has a maximum possible light level of 870, meaning that there is an extremely slim chance of still getting something useful from there if you run it on your main.  Right now in Belghast I am sitting at 854 item level, and that means that most of the content that I run in the game other than normal or high mode raids, is not going to produce me any upgrades.  However in the back of my head I know that it is theoretically possible, and I am having a hard time reconciling what is likely to happen with what might possibly happen.  I mean I did manage to get a SECOND legendary last night off of an emissary chest… so I have more luck than I should have at times.


In World of Warcraft we have “Item Levels” but Destiny has essentially the same concept called “Light Levels”.  Getting higher light means you perform better, just like getting higher item levels in theory means you have the potential to perform better.  How Bungie handled this problem of potential for drop versus actual level dropping is that they started creating items based on the players current stats.  So if I get a weapon in the game to drop from a package or decoding from an engram…  its light level is set based on my current converted light level.  Right now I am sitting at 351 light in Destiny, and I have a handful of items that are over that level but that is my average.  When I get a new item it means that item will be 351 light or better, generally within a range of 5 light, so up to 356 in this case.  Legendary engrams and item drops currently seem to have a cap around 385 in game, so I will continue to be able to keep leap frogging my way through light levels by consistently receiving upgrades each time something new drops.  World of Warcraft loot should work like this, meaning that each time I do a quest out in the world…. the item of the level rewarded should be based on what my current item level is.  I’ve had friends who have received up to 870 items from World Quests, so it does not seem unreasonable that any loot I get from doing them… should be at a minimum whatever my current average item level is.


In order to really make this feel right, I think World of Warcraft would also have to move away from the current tiered system of item levels.  Right now if we go back to the example of LFR, an item when it drops can be 835, 840, 845, 850, 855, 860, 865, or 870.  Each time some combination of stats and “forged” suffix changes and tweaks up the stats and item level.  It just feels like it would simply be cleaner for the purpose of giving players a constant but incremental flow of new gear… for each item to just have a variable level.  So you could then get an item that was 844 or 858 depending upon what your current item level happened to be.  The items we know are simply mathematical equations, with this or that stat scaling based on the item level.  So in theory it should be just as easy to show you an item that was 862 as one that is 860, but the constant progression of slow bites of the apple as you keep improving your stats for me at least would feel better than running a bunch of content and seeing nothing but disenchant fodder as a result.  This hit home especially hard as I have been trying to run mythic and heroics with friends to get them geared up… and so often when the personal loot boss finally submits… the end product is not an upgrade at all.  As a result we have started trying to stack armor types, so that in theory at least SOMEONE in the party could benefit from the item.  There are honestly a lot more lessons that I feel like Blizzard and the WoW team could learn from the way Destiny works, and I might elaborate on them in additional posts… but this loot post was a good starting place.

Over the Moon

The Great Escape

Over the last several months we have been trying desperately to make the extremely adorable Luna… a part of our family.  Unfortunately things are not working amazingly well…  because it feels like for every step forward we take a half dozen steps backwards.  You ever seen one of those acts that juggles plates…  well I have three plates precariously trying to hurdle themselves at the floor.  If I can keep one cat happy… it seems like the others are in a total sense of disarray.  In theory we probably should have said a month ago that this was not going to work out, and tried to take her back to the rescue shelter that we got her from.  However she is such a remarkable cat…  when none of the other cats are around.  The positive is that it has been at least a week since a major fight, but we have been keeping Luna carefully sequestered from Kenzie and Allie.  One of the ideas we had over the weekend was to install a baby gate.  We of course knew that we would need a really tall one, so after a little searching we found one that was 36 inches tall and that once installed had a door in it that swung open to let us in and out of it.  At first she hopped up on a little table and bounded over the gate…  which required me to now move said gate out to the garage.  After that however things seemed to be working pretty well.

The gate let the other cats stare in at her, and more importantly smell her in a setting that they were very familiar with…  namely the bedroom where they already slept regularly.  There was a little hissing back and forth but no charging.  Luna is basically Belghast in Cat form… and whenever she is threatened she charges at danger much like my warrior character.  Which is the huge problem we are having.  Instead of a lot of hissing going on back and forth… and then cats going off to their corner to sulk for a bit like we have dealt with in previous interactions between foreign cats, we have charging.  When I mean charging I mean running and jumping on the other cat and rolling around like mad around the house until momentum finally breaks them free charging.  The positive there is that it has been awhile since this actually happened, but that is largely only because we are keeping them separated.  Luna has been kept in my wife’s office which we set up to be a cat suite, with food, water and a litter box.  The problem is…  Luna really wants to roam freely because she likes the bedroom which is shared territory.  So the theory was when I got home I would move her to the bedroom and let her chill under the bed.  She is pretty good at meowing at me when she needs to go upstairs, at which time I carry her up on my shoulder and let her get food, water and more importantly use the bathroom.

This state of equilibrium seemed to be working.  The other two cats were calming down, and starting to get back into their normal routines…  although Kenzie has regressed a bit.  All of this however was the case until last night when Luna apparently figured out how to dead jump over the gate.  So the reality of this situation is that the gate does a great job of keeping the other two cats out of the bedroom, who are both fat and lazy…  but that doesn’t really solve the problem at hand.  The amount of stress that this whole situation has caused me is pretty intense, given that it feels like my home is in a constant state of chaos.  I don’t handle chaos for extended periods of time very well.  I am trying to do whatever I can to stabilize it, but it feels like when I get one plate spinning… two other plates try and topple.  Much of our strategy has been that I hang with Kenzie and Allie and my wife hangs with Luna… which works great during the weekend when we are both off but does not work at all during the work week when our get home times are so drastically varied.  Mostly at this point we feel extremely invested in the situation and it would break our hearts if we have to say goodbye, but I am rapidly running out of ideas.  We have tried so many things, and so far none of them are really working.  I keep hoping that time is the key and that things will calm down eventually when they realize that they have more in common than they have different.  Personality wise the three of them should be getting along amazingly well.  Luna is almost perfectly situated halfway between the personalities of Allie and Kenzie.  If we can just get her past the initial attack instinct when she is afraid we might make progress.

Regularly Playing: September/October Edition


Once again I have let a bit of time pass since my last one of these posts.  As a result I am going to do a combo post since I think I can for the most part predict what the next month will bring gaming wise.  The general idea is that every so often I “true up” my sidebar, and bring it into alignment with what I am actually playing on a regular basis.  Some of these might be an every day occurrence, but they represent a regular rotation of games you are likely to see me talking about.  Since I am apparently unable to do these monthly, it might just be a sort every other month thing.  Originally I admit this was designed as easy to conjure up content, for when I was struggling to think of anything to write…  and somehow became something more in the process.

To Those Remaining

World of Warcraft


At this very moment this is sort of my gaming “main squeeze”.  It feels really strange to once again be enthralled by WoW after it teetered on the brink of being removed from this list for so long.  Legion was extremely good, as were the events leading up to it.  The only slight problem I am having is that my army of alts is seeing far less love than they did in Warlords.  Right now I have two characters to 110 the new level cap, and in truth I could probably never alt again and still have plenty of things to do.  The catch there however is that I once again want access to tradeskills that my army of alts had.  The first alt I pushed to 110 was done for the fact that I wanted access to mining…  not necessarily because I wanted to play that character.  In fact once I hit 110 I have tried really hard to shift that character to DPS mode after largely leveling as a tank, because I am not sure if I really like tanking as a Paladin.  Paladin tanking just doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as Warrior tanking does right now, and as a result when I tank instances for my friends…  I find myself missing Belghast.  Instead I am trying to focus on being a Retribution paladin, which works well enough given that the bodyguard for Paladins is a tank.  In any case…  I could rattle on at length about this game but chances are you too are playing and have your own stories.  Legion was the expansion where Blizzard learned so many lessons and I believe in some small way started transitioning the game to an interesting future.

Final Fantasy XIV


This game is barely holding in there and I wrote about my feelings at length the other day.  There is just something about the game that isn’t clicking with me, however over the weekend I found out that the story line is leading to apparently a pretty interesting place.  That means that over the course of this week I will be popping in and consuming locust-like the new content patch in the hopes of being able to talk about it on next weeks AggroChat.  For this reason more than any others I am leaving it on the list, in the hopes that wherever they are going with the story will rekindle my fires of caring about the game.  For the time being however it teeters on the brink of removal, knowing that even if I do… it is certain to make its way back eventually.  Final Fantasy XIV is one of those games that I truly love… even if I don’t necessarily want to be playing it at the moment.



Rift is also teetering precariously on the precipice of being removed from the list.  The only reason being because I just simply am not playing right now.  I have too much other stuff that is keeping me engaged and at the moment my “rift time” involves logging in every day to collect rewards and then logging right back out.  That said I know that Starfall Prophecy will be coming soon and with it a number of changes that sound like they are going to be excellent for the game.  For the moment however I am collecting the pre-launch currency and seeing just how many I can end up getting before things go live.

To The Returning and New

Destiny: Rise of Iron


I knew this one would not stay gone long from the list, especially with the impending release of an expansion.  I’ve talked about my thoughts on Rise of Iron, and while it seems strange to call it an expansion…  it is definitely a return to amazing Destiny fun.  The more time I spend in the plaguelands the more I love them, and it seems like right now it is fitting this role of wanting to play something… that doesn’t require much of me.  I end up booting it up quite often when I first get home from work, or if I am trying to wind down before going to bed.  It lets me get in… kill some baddies and walk away with some loot…  some of it is actually usable.  There are some interesting things going on, namely that engrams seem to upgrade in quality way more often.  I opened two legendary engrams last night and got exotic items from them for example, and while blue engrams seem to be light locked at 340…  they are upgrading into legendary items pretty often as well.  I am definitely enjoying myself again and looking forward to being able to hit the light levels that will allow me to do group content once again.

Guild Wars 2


Now in the “games I never thought I would be adding to this list” category we have Guild Wars 2.  I have a bit of a sordid past with this game, so much so that I don’t even think I have an existing sidebar graphic for it.  However this month thanks to Tam latching onto it… it is seeing a bit of traction among the AggroChat crew.  As a result I am begrudgingly playing it much the same way as Tam is begrudgingly playing World of Warcraft.  We still have yet to run a dungeon, which is something we need to remedy and the next time the folks are doing content in this game… I really need to log in and join in.  For the most however any time I would spend in this game is getting gobbled up by the Legion machine.  I really need to give it more of a fair shake… in spite of not quite feeling like I want it to feel.

To Those Parting

Pokemon Go

This one is leaving not entirely of my own choice.  For quite awhile now this has been my go to boredom mobile game and a huge motivation to get out into the world and walk.  However recently they released a patch that has effectively locked me out of the game.  For whatever reason my phone shows up as it has been rooted… even though it is not.  This is a problem that is happening to a ton of people playing this game, and I have a feeling that it is caused by the fact that there is an update that fails to patch into my phone.  I’ve gone so far as to wipe the phone and take it back to a factory rom and still run into the problems with one patch failing to load past 28%.  As a result I am barred from participating in this game, and it is leaving the list.  I keep hoping that at some point they will remove this patch and I can get back to catching pokemon, but I highly doubt that.

Diablo 3

This season was a bit of a struggle because at the same time it launched… the pre-launch event started up in Legion.  Any time I would have been spending in Diablo 3, got gobbled up by World of Warcraft.  Grace and I however made it through the season journey, or at least in my case far enough to unlock the cosmetic items.  There is no way I am going to be spending enough time to unlock the stash tab this time around, and my support structure in this game is also devoting 100% of their time to WoW.  So for the time being I am removing it from the list until next time a season starts up.

No Mans Sky

This one never really stood a chance.  It launched at a time when I was super devoted to a bunch of other games… and quite honestly I just have not given it the time needed to really sink its teeth in.  The bit I played I enjoyed, and I could see myself spending hours playing it.  The big problem however is it is not a game I am playing with friends… and felt super lonely.  There are times I need this sort of game, and I am sure when I get into one of those extended funk periods I will break it back out and roam the lonelyverse.



Fox Battle Buddy



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


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

Eorzean Melancholy



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

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

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

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

Arbitrary Gates



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

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

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

Rise of Iron



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


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


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


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

A Busy Weekend



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


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


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

Kodra the Prodigy



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


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