A Four Year Mission

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I realize this is a lot of images to link at the beginning of a blog post… but there is a good reason.  For the last four years playing Elder Scrolls Online I had a singular goal…  to see something in the live game that I have not seen since one of the last days of alpha.  I’ve talked about this before but I have been playing Elder Scrolls Online since February of 2013 when the first Friends and Family alphas began.  How I got in is because my good friend Tamrielo was one of the creators of a not insignificant amount of the quest content.  Every so often in Alpha we would be lead by him to go see something… that was a reference to one of us or one of our friends.  One of the final things I remember is running all of the way across the Ebonheart Pact area to The Rift….  and Nimalten to be specific to see an arrangement of NPCs in that town.  The date specifically was October 13th of 2013 as I have a stack of screenshots that I took at that time have have hoarded since.

Last night I managed to push my way through the Eastmarch storyline and upon zoning into the The Rift for the first time…  I couldn’t wait any longer and made a jaunt across zone to Nimalten to find what I had been waiting to see all of this time.  Granted every one of the NPCs made their way through a bit of a “Nordification” pass by the lore team, but enough survived that it is pretty obvious who they are if you know what you are looking at.  First up is my namesake aka Belgrod Sternblade (technically one of two namesakes that I know of) who has a throwaway line about his Stalwart Band of Mercenaries which is a reference to House Stalwart the guild I started in World of Warcraft back in 2004.  Next up is Waren the Wolf aka Warenwolf a long time friend of ours from the vanilla World of Warcraft days, phenomenal hunter and the target of my attempts to heal him with arrows in alpha.  Then we have Ashvorn Bear-Walker which is the slantwise namesake of Ashgar our perennial bear tank and general friend of anything that transforms into animal form.  Lastly we have Autrae Snow-Wing who is playing with her cat Dimi… that represent former AggroChat host Audrae and her then cat Dimitri.

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This might seem silly but for me personally…  being able to see these characters legitimately in the final release of the game means a lot to me.  It also allows me to take stupid photos like the one above with the two Belghast-kin together.  Of course the moment I finished doing this nonsense I ported back to the start of the zone because I want to experience it through the natural flow instead of just jumping ahead to this one town.  I’ve been having a complete blast playing Elder Scrolls Online over the last couple of weeks and really the game has evolved to a state where it pretty much has all of the things that I think I once complained about it not having.  It has a really excellent housing system that I have been collecting patterns for…  and still what I would consider the single best crafting system in any MMORPG.  While a little costly I am a fan of their cosmetic system implementation as well as the various costumes available through either crown crates or direct purchase on the store.  The fact that subscribing to the game gets me access to all of the Expansion and DLC content, a stack of crowns each time it renews, and a magical crafting bag that lets me loot everything and not worry about bag space…  is all a “plus” in my book.  The full list of features for a subscription goes a little something like this…

  • Access to all DLC game packs in the in-game Crown Store
  • Free crowns for the in-game Crown Store
  • Access to the Craft Bag
  • Double bank space
  • Bonuses to progression
  • Extra furniture space
  • Costume dyeing
  • Double Transmutation Crystals

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I am very much in my MMO happy place at the moment, and completely oblivious to pretty much anything else apart from the occasional game of Diablo 3.  I am super excited that soon…  in one zones time I will be starting the first of the DLC content for Elder Scrolls Online.  I have purposefully delayed starting literally anything that came out past the original game… because I wanted to have beaten all 150 levels worth of content that the original game had to offer.  For the uninitiated that starts with the 50 levels worth of content in your starting faction and works its way through Silver and Gold… the new game plus, and new game plus plus that sees you travelling via Cadwell to the other two factions.  Sure it is a little weird to be helping the Ebonheart Pact fight off the Covenant while rocking the Covenant Hero title…  but whatever I can hand wave that away.

The thing that makes me the happiest about Elder Scrolls Online is how indistinguishable it is for me personally from playing any other Elder Scrolls game at this point.  I love the story arcs for each of the zones that evolve as you work your way around and help the other people…  and the little payoffs when you meet up with a character you have already helped out once before.  The amount of scripting work that went into making sure that each NPC recognizes you from every time you have interacted with that NPC before has to be staggering.  The fact that the final main story quest usually involves weaving in a bunch of characters that you met in the zone and each of them commenting on how you helped them in the past, is just so damned great.  The only thing that would push it over the top is if they introduced some Bioware style companions with romance story arcs…  because seriously the core story itself is as good as anything I have seen in a Mass Effect or Dragon Age game.

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I have an extreme amount of emotional investment in this game, not just for the fact that there are characters named after me roaming its world…  but also for the fact that I feel like I helped shape it.  I was a very active member of the alpha community and supposedly one of the more active bug reporters.  I love that there is still a core of players out there in an alpha-only guild that I am part of that has been playing off and on since the days we first got into the servers and kept reporting bugged doors.  I love the fact that there is still a hidden area on the official forums that only those first few testers have access to, and while it isn’t terribly active… feels like a little secret clubhouse that a handful of us have access to.  Every time I step foot into Tamrielo in Elder Scrolls Online it feels like coming back home, and each time I forget why I left in the first place.  The truth is…  I am an easily distracted toddler and I am sure at some point some shiny object with cause me to shift my gaze elsewhere…  but for the moment I am loving every moment of roaming this place that is both so familiar to me but still so fresh to explore.

Hot Shower and Tall Toilet

I flat out lied yesterday morning.  No blog post ever happened because it was one hell of a weird day.  First off I did not sleep hardly at all Sunday night.  I am not sure what was up but I spent most of my night tossing and turning and staring at the clock as it kept ticking up towards our 5:30 wake up time.  Then Kenzie our oft times asshole cat woke us up around 5… because apparently she was afraid we would over sleep?  I took Monday and Tuesday off this week to combine it with Wednesday that we were getting for the 4th of July.  This has given me a five day weekend… and it has been glorious.  Now when I originally took the time off it was as the suggestion of my boss… given that it was shaping up that I was going to be the only manager in the office Thursday and Friday.

There was nothing really planned at all, but my wife decided to take this opportunity for me being off to schedule a bunch of things that otherwise needed to happen.  So as it went yesterday we had an appointment at 8 am, 10 am and 11 am…  originally just to give estimates but some scope creep happened.  Some time ago… around the 13th of February we had an issue where we had NO hot water at all.  You can read that post if you want more details but the long and short of it is…  our Hot Water Heater had a manufacture date of 1977…  making it one year younger than me.  Hot Water Heaters are in theory not supposed to last forty years… and as a result ours was full of a sediment made largely of calcium deposits that were getting sucked up with the hot water and clogging all of our delivery points.

So we knew at some point we would need to get all of that fixed but the estimate our Air Conditioning company that also does plumbing gave us…  was pretty painful.  They laid out three options for us and all of them involved a certain amount of work to “bring it up to code” which in truth is something we just had to take them at their word.  Back in February we managed to remove the clog from the shower which restored functionality and allowed us to kick the hot water heater replacement down the road a bit.  So yesterday we had intended to get a second estimate from a local business, and instead had a bit of scope creep.

Home ownership is largely a long string of things that annoy you about your house.  One of these was the fact that in our main downstairs bathroom we had a shorter than normal toilet.  You have to understand that I am 6’4″ and a good deal of that height is in my legs… making less than comfortable to use said toilet over the last almost twenty years.  The other problem is that toilet never really flushed amazingly well and took 15 minutes for the huge tank to fill between uses.  However like so many things with a home… you just sorta live with it until you reach a critical break point.  While we were dealing with the hot water heater we asked for an estimate to get that replaced with a taller toilet… and apparently what I was really wanting was an ADA compliant toilet which is roughly 18 inches tall instead of the 15 we currently had.

Essentially the estimate we got for the hot water heater and the toilet…  installed and ready to go was less than the lowest estimate we got from before.  The guy had time to do it yesterday so we went ahead and made it happen…  and now I have the toilet I have always wanted.  It is going to take some getting used to given this feels a lot taller than our previous one…  and the fact that the person who flipped our home did not remove the tank to the toilet and just painted around the old one… meaning we have some ancient wallpaper now showing.  That will be handled during a future frantic weekend but for the moment I am supremely happy… and given that at the last minute I had to dip into my birthday money because the amount the guy told us to pull out of the bank was a little off…  we are calling this my birthday present instead of our anniversary gift.

I am guessing we will call the Hot Water Heater the Anniversary gift and my god… the shower was glorious this morning.  I guess I did not realize how far gone the 40 year old one was… because we have been taking showers for some time with the knob all of the way to the hot side.  I damned near burned myself this morning because the new unit works significantly better.  The water pressure though… that is the big difference and while I had to take the shower head off and fish out some bits of calcification with tweezers…  once reassembled the end result was phenomenal.  It really is the little things that make you happy in life.

This has been an insane weekend of doing stuff…  that saw us disposing of a bunch of things that had been sitting around taking up space including the 250 lb HP Laserjet 5si office printer that we were originally trying to find a good home for.  We now know what it is going to take to remodel the bathroom as well so we can start planning accordingly.  We’ve spent much of the extended weekend talking about all of the things we can do that are just cosmetic that will improve our opinion of rooms like the kitchen.  Unfortunately this has meant not a ton of gaming, but if I have to sacrifice of that to use the bathroom comfortably and have a hot shower…  then it seems like a perfectly acceptable sacrifice for now.

Digital Manners

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I did not have the best night of sleep ever last night, but I managed.  It started off with startling awake because just as I was on the brink of falling to sleep…  I swear I heard someone trying to open the front door or more importantly the screen door.  I of course had to go check it out…  because occasionally the wind causes that noise but I found no signs of anything.  Basically I assume that I dreamt it, and was some sort of subconscious manifestation of anxiety or some such.  I say this because my wife has had the same thing happen to her and after investigating found that nothing was actually up, so either someone is fucking with us…  or more likely we are just anxious about something and our brains are being assholes.  That said… I do have a fairly crazy neighbor but I went through the lockdown cycle again and make sure all doors were safely locked before finally going off to sleep.

Another random thing I want to talk about this morning is how I have an overwhelming desire to personify technology.  I blame this on seeing 2001 a space odyssey at a fairly tender age and being fascinated by HAL 9000.  The ultimate irony here is that I NEVER talk to my devices be it OK Google, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, Cortana or whatever other digital voice assistants there happen to be out there.  I would like to think this is pragmatism rearing its head in that I can type a sentence roughly four times faster than I can actually speak it.  However I find myself talking to Google instead of doing the thing that the programmer in me knows is proper and stating my question in order of importance.  So instead of saying “Elder Scrolls Online” + “Museum Pieces” I usually type something like “What are museum pieces used for in ESO?”.

I often make random comments on social media without any context.  Last night was one of those moments where I said the above statement, and came up with a bunch of forum posts talking about them and in almost every single one of them there was a person who took the time to say “it’s not that hard you just” perform some action.  A player was asking a very similar question… on a forum… and they told him it wasn’t that hard you should just google it.  Later on another player was stating that they could not find the slots that they were supposed to go into in the Orsinium museum (answers my question)…  and again someone shot back “it’s not that hard you just” then push the action key.  I’ve seen these comments for years… surrounding gaming or programming or any other sort of cloistered geekdom where one person feels the need to assert their intellectual girth upon another person by making them feel like the question that they are asking is beneath them.   This is one of the many reasons the gaming community that like it or not we are all part of… has a bad rap for being assholes.

Diminishing the questions of another person, or pedantically correcting someone when they are off by a few degrees but you completely understood what they were meaning…  is a dick move.  That said I know I have been guilty of both of these in the past, but the truth is every one of us has done a banquet of items that are range from extremely cringe worthy to toxic and offensive as hell.  I have my past and you have yours as well, but the only way we move forward and evolve is by constantly editing our actions to adopt a stance that leaves less of a negative impact in our wake.  I am a different person than I was ten years ago… and honestly a different person than I was last year and that is okay… it isn’t wishy-washyness but instead the constant and natural process of growing as a person.  If you find yourself attacking or correcting others… or just generally shitposting out of boredom…  you may want to take a serious look at your own motivations and determine if this is the person you want to be forever.

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Chances are you are not acting like the person Mr. Rogers knew you could be.  I don’t use this meme lightly because in truth…  Mr Rogers was almost like a third parent to me as a small kid.  I would sit on the floor enthralled and watch each episode as I got home from school.  Mr Rogers and the entire land of make believe crew were my friends, and I would like to think a lot of the simple lessons that he was trying to teach us… rubbed off on me at least a little bit.  No one can realistically live up to being someone as pure and good as Fred Rogers or Bob Ross or Levar Burton…  but we can try.  As to why I decided to devote a post to this today…  instead of any other day when I happen across some frustrating interactions coming from the gaming sphere…  I have no clue.  Sometimes you just wake up and make a post because it is what is in your head and you cannot really dislodge it.

Last night it was likely a combination of the interaction I saw and then stumbling across the above video while I was playing ESO upstairs.  Which in itself is deeply influenced by the general feeling of loss and nostalgia that I have been feeling surrounding the closing of Toys R Us.  Now you get an emotional post to read this morning…  gratz.  Side note…  Thumper from Bambi was apparently also a major influence on me because I have tried really hard to follow the logic of his father…  If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.  I regularly fail to live up to all of these role models… but the intent is there always nagging me to be a better person.

 

Battle Box Playtest

So last night I did a thing… and unfortunately did not stop to take any photos of said thing I did.  I’ve said before that we have a friend in town and have been occasionally meeting him for dinner.  This friend happens to play Magic the Gathering and last night we met up at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants that is not super busy on week nights… and commandeered the table for a significant amount of time.  In theory we got there around 5:30 which means it probably took until 6 for us to get our food and eat it…  then we hung out playing magic for a couple hours leaving sometime after 8.  Thankfully I am in there often enough and tip well enough that the wait staff did not bat an eye at us doing this.

Firstly I am pretty sure that my friend is a way more serious magic player than I am.  I would probably put me in the collector niche that likes to play weird and quirky decks but not really going to make much headroom at a Friday Night Magic because I am not super focused on the meta.  I did not however actually bring my “real” decks but instead something else for us to try out.  Some time ago I watched the above video from the Professor and it planted an idea in my head.  We have a bunch of folks at work that are former magic players or ones that were interested in potentially finding out more about it.  That said most people didn’t really have decks anymore… and most definitely not decks all at the same power level.

The theory was to assemble a series of decks that were of roughly equal power level and try and create a sort of starter magic experience out of it so we could drop in and play a few games over lunch without much effort.  This didn’t really gain much traction until I happened upon the Tribal Warfare Battle Box set from Card Kingdom.  One of the cool things for me personally about the Ixalan block was that it added a bunch of interesting Tribal cards and combinations, since theme decks have always been a thing I enjoyed greatly.  This set of decks included White Black Vampires, Red Black Pirates, Green Red Dinosaurs, and Blue Green Merfolk…  giving a pretty wide range of play styles and card types.  So I assembled this batch of decks into an Ultimate Guard Stack ‘n’ Safe box leaving two of the six slots for counters and dice and created a packaged experience.

I still need to get something to number the decks with but in theory the slots are going to be numbered 2,3,4,5 and each players start by rolling a d6.  Whoever rolls highest chooses “play or draw” but also begins the picking of decks.  There still need to be some working out the kinks but the theory is a little something like this…

  • Roll 1 – You get to choose the deck your opponent is going to play, after choosing re-roll to determine your own selection
  • Roll 2 – You play the deck in slot 2
  • Roll 3 – You play the deck in slot 3
  • Roll 4 – You play the deck in slot 4
  • Roll 5 – You play the deck in slot 5
  • Roll 6 – You get first pick from any of the decks

Now there are some problems with this…  I was wanting to go with the whole “botch” roll concept but it doesn’t seem like it will work out so I might shift things to the slots being numbered 1-4 and 5 being the choose any deck and 6 be choose your opponents deck.  That makes sense given that you want the quirky one to override the other options numerically.  Whatever the case I listed how we played last night and more or less it seemed to work out just fine.  We started off with three rounds of White/Black Vampires vs Blue/Green Merfolk and they seemed like extremely even match-ups with me winning the first one and not quite getting the cards I needed to win in the last two.  Next up we played Green/Red Dinosaurs vs Black/Red Pirates… and once again over the course of the three rounds the two decks felt extremely even.

I am super thankful to my friend for helping me play test this concept and I think it is finally read for prime time to start trying it out at work.  Ultimately the Card Kingdom Battle decks seem really fun, and while they were slower than the decks he is used to playing…  they still had just the right amount of power.  Ultimately what I was hoping was for matches that lasted long enough to allow players to get a feel of the game rather than simply getting shut down on turn three.  Feeling like you don’t have a chance is the sort of thing that makes learning magic against a veteran player an extremely frustrating concept.  These relatively balanced battle decks really do give the feeling that you have all of the power you need…  you just have to get things to work together in the right combination to build your win condition.  Regardless it was an extremely fun night and were the AC not on the fritz at the restaurant we would have potentially stayed longer.

Always a Blink

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That feel when you catch your character in a blink animation but don’t realize it until you go to post the picture.  Oh well..  you get sleepytime Belghast…  or maybe he is just frustrated that he has to kill another batch of cultists to close yet another anchor.  Last night I continued on with my journeys in Deshaan and wrapped up the main story.  There are still a few areas of the map that I have not explored and turned the black icon to white signifying that I have completed it.  So I fully expect to spend a night doing some basic mop of of quests but unfortunately that likely will not be tonight.  Tonight is the night I am meeting friends to play Magic the Gathering at a local restaurant…  that I am hoping is not terribly busy.  There is a group that meets there to play Dominos…  and I am hoping that it is going to be perfectly copacetic to sit there and play MTG.

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One of the weirdest things about Elder Scrolls Online is the way all of the screenshots end up being my character off to one side and then showing off what is happening in the background.  I mean I could take a shot of my backside…  but this always seemed like a better option to turn and face the virtual camera.  There is always the option of zooming in to first person and stowing my weapons to take a screenshot, but I rarely actually do that.  Instead I do this sorta selfie mode where I have my character to one side of the screen and a pretty picture going on in the background.  In a way it feels more touristy than the standard screenshot faire, like “here is me at this place” sort of feel that I dig.  So much of this game is about me wandering around and finding interesting sights… and because of that especially it just sorta fits.

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I have really enjoyed Deshaan as a zone goes with its main story arc, but I will say about the time I wrap up a zone…  I am more than ready to move on past it.  I honestly thought Eastmarch was next in the sequence but it seems like the quest chain is leading me to go start Shadowfen and check out some disturbance happening at Stormhold.  I am wondering if they shifted the order of things at some point or if I just don’t have a main story quest for the entirety of Eastmarch.  Whatever the case I need to sort out what my next destination will be, and I am still several steps away from The Rift where the Belghast namesake exists.  There is a driving force in me that wants to get past the Ebonheart content so that I can in good conscience start the DLC areas…  beginning with I believe Orsinium.  Still having an awful lot of fun and I guess my goal is to make a significant dent in the game before Battle for Azeroth inevitably and begrudgingly pulls me elsewhere.

Exploring Deshaan

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This is going to be a bit of a weird week for me personally, and as a result probably a weird week for the blog.  My wife has a friend in town for a conference and as a result it is causing us to vary our normal patterns…  and also as a result there is probably going to be significantly less gaming to talk about.  Now one major exception is that said friend is a Magic the Gathering player and tentatively Wednesday night we have plans to get together and play some casual decks for fun.  That will of course be probably something that I write about and I am going to attempt to take some “board state” photos as the matches go.  I have built up a box of four battle decks from card kingdom that are all themed and roughly the same power level thinking it would be a quick and easy drop in and play magic option.  The grand idea was to bring it up to work for some lunch time gaming, but it hasn’t actually happened yet.

Last night when we got home from Joe Momma’s one of our favorite downtown pizza places, I crashed on the sofa and played some Elder Scrolls Online.  I am essentially doing what I always do which is push into the corners of the map that I have yet to explore and complete whatever quests I happen across there.  I remember this game had a rather frosty reception… but in truth the longer it lives the less I can distinguish it from a normal numbered Elder Scrolls game.  I realize some players approached those games in vastly different ways than I did… but for me it was always about killing monsters, collecting loot, running quests…  and ABOVE ALL ELSE…  wandering around aimlessly and exploring the nooks and crannies of the map.  All of those game play styles are supported in ESO and as a result whenever I pick it back up it sorta feels like returning to an old friend.

One of my favorite parts about returning to the game is something that dates back to alpha.  The original alpha players were referred to as the Psijic Order, and on the official game forums there is still a hidden forum area that never got closed out from that area where we occasionally chat back and forth.  Similarly there was a guild formed on launch day made up of players from this same alpha pool and in truth it is one of the more active guilds that I have access to.  I am super thankful that after all of this time and all of my wandering away and back again that no one punted me from it.  I am deeply connected to this title because of my experiences testing it for so long, and I am happy to for some remnant of that early community that I still have access to.

I am cutting off the post short this morning as it is election day here in Oklahoma.  I am going to attempt to vote before work, and if you too are having a primary I highly suggest you drag your butt to the polls as well.

Shornhelm Resident

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When I play an MMO a curious thing seems to happen.  There will be one town or public area that I tend to gravitate towards.  In World of Warcraft that was Ironforge which makes sense given that was the location of the only Alliance Auction House for years.  However long after that fact I still visit it pretty often because as far as a city goes it just feels comfortable.  Even when I hang out in Stormwind as the later expansions have pushed us…  I tend to hang out in the Dwarven Quarter because again… it feels right for my character.  I am sure if you were to ask me to cobble together a roleplaying back story it would involve the fact that Belghast was a human living among Dwarves in Iron Forge as a sort of adopted son.

In Elder Scrolls online…  my home is Shornhelm located in the Rivenspire zone of Daggerfall Covenant.  While I chose to play an imperial for the bonuses…  in my mental canon I am from Shornhelm and grew up there.  It doesn’t hurt that I absolutely love the look of this town, but in truth what drew me to it in the first place was the ease of crafting.  There is a Wayshrine a few steps from the Smithy and Lumbermill and around the corner from that is the bank.  A few steps away is the entrance to the thieves guild, and the only thing that is inconvenient is the Enchanter for breaking down my enchants and jewelry.  All told it is just a simple and convenient way to get into town and do my business without needing to run all over the place.

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I spent the better part of the weekend playing Elder Scrolls Online chilling on the sofa.  At this point I have gone through at least half of Deshaan which appears to be a very large zone in the grand scheme of things.  Once I got past CP160 my overall champion rating doesn’t really seem to matter anymore but I believe I am somewhere around 230.  This is nothing compared to the players I see roaming around in their 700s.  One of the things I find interesting about this game is the fact that the champion system helps to buffer things…  but if you are not paying attention and get too much hate from too many targets… you still can pretty easily die.  I of course have Green Dragon Blood cheats which helps me recover from dumb things…  but it isn’t like I can reliably solo the zone mini boss type mobs yet.

I am still largely playing the same way I always have as a sword and shield dragon knight favoring stamina a bit, but in truth a fairly balanced character otherwise.   There are many builds that appear to be faster at killing things than mine, and I am sure I could swap stuff around to get to one of those.  However this one makes me happy and it involves me charging in… debuffing the target and then just wailing on them with my weapon.  I am perfectly fine with that style of gameplay.  Now were I dipping my toes into PVP I am sure I would quickly be confronted with my inadequacies.

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The system that I stumbled onto yesterday that I had never experienced before was the Outfit Station.  I have largely been wearing an disguise that I picked up from some crates since I really dig the whole platemail robes thing that the World of Warcraft paladins had going on.  As a result I have not really worried too much about what sort of gear I was wearing, but eventually wandered past a machine I had not seen before.  This allows you to change the appearance of every slot you are wearing and set three levels of color dye.  One of the things I deeply appreciate is that the same regions on every piece seem to be the same dye slot.  In both GW2 and Rift there are times where the primary item may represent the metal pieces…  but in other items it could be the secondary dye slot.  In ESO it seemed to be reliable that the first slot represented the metal bits, the second the highlights, and the third any underlayment.

Ultimately what this tells me is that I need a lot more dye pots, but I am not really sure how one gets those apart from buying them on the in game store when they are offering up a color scheme you like.  I cobbled together something I am largely okay with however.  That said…  the real win for the night was learning how to dye my disguise so that I could keep wearing my plate robes appearance but just change up the color scheme a bit.  I am having yet another renaissance with this game, and I am wondering how long it will last.  As my friend Squirrel said…  it will likely last right up until some other game catches my attention since I do tend to flit back and forth between every MMO I have ever played.  Really enjoying the story of Ebonheart Pact and it is so much more “me” than what was going on over in Aldmeri Dominion.

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One parting comment… if you are out there playing some ESO feel free to add me to your friends list.  If you friend @belghast it will do so at an account level, making it easier to track if I am on an alt.  The truth is however…  I don’t really play alts.

Champion and Stonefalls

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Last night I managed to do enough greater rifts to push my three gems of choice to level 35… which means I have now finished the second post chapter of Season 14.  I am now two steps into Destroyer where the challenges get harder as to the prize amounts.  I feel like this is a reasonable place to take a break since my often partner in crime in this Diablo nonsense is having to deal with some real world stuff.  I do however intend to keep running the occasional run to farm up some gold.  I am completely flat broke at this very moment… or at least 600k gold which FEELS flat broke in the Diablo 3 seasonal post game.  I spent a chunk of time transmuting gems for the purpose of trying to slot the best green gem into every item that would take one.

This will be essentially the last performance and damage output boost I can make that does not involving swapping item for item with an Ancient Legendary equivalent.  You can see on the profile of my seasonal character that I currently have four ancient legendaries…  but of those one doesn’t really count given that I am wearing nemesis bracers just for the purpose of burning through Rifts faster.  I’ve been spending all of my blood shards with Kadala on chest pieces in the random hope of getting an ancient version of the Marauders chest, but really at this point it is just picking a slot and grinding on it until luck rewards me for my futility.

I also need to determine what conquest I will plan on going with this season, or technically conquests if I intend to go deep enough in to get the extra bank slot.  The conquests available this season are…

  • Avarice – Complete a 50,000,000 gold streak while outside The Vault and the Inner Sanctum
  • Speed Demon – Complete a Nephalem Rift at Max level on Torment X or Higher within 2 minutes
  • Years of War – Reach Greater Rift Level 55 Solo with the full bonuses of Six of the Following Class Sets
  • Divinity – Reach Greater Rift Level 75 Solo
  • On A Good Day – Level three Legendary Gems to 65

Of those the two most obvious and probably easiest are Divinity and On A Good Day given that those sorta happen in the normal flow of the game.  Figuring out which third one I want to do is probably going to be the biggest issue.  Maybe Grace and I could get fast enough to do a T10 Rift together within 2 minutes, especially if we could find some more people to help us out and just sorta go in different directions during each level racking up kills. Avarice is all about building a specific set for it and then gathering up all of the trash in a specific area and trying to kill it all at once.  I guess I should be holding onto those gold boosting items just in case I want to go down that route.

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The other thing I did last night was run around in Elder Scrolls Online for a couple hours.  I gotta say this game is really gorgeous and even thought Stonefalls is probably the worst zone in the game (though Ashgar would probably fight me and claim that Alakir Desert is)…  it is still breathtakingly beautiful with its alien mushroom landscapes.  I am trying to push through this area because Stonefalls is really the major impediment for almost all of my attempts to level through the Ebonheart content.  As a reminder to my readers… I am stubborn as fuck when it comes to Elder Scrolls Online and am not willing to try any of the expansion content until I have beaten the original content.  That means I started off in Daggerfall and leveled all the way through those zones.  Then I entered the new game plus…  which was Aldmeri Dominion on the same character and have leveled through all of that.  Finally I am in the process of leveling my way through Ebonheart Pact at which point… I will happily begin gobbling up the expansions.

The primary reason behind this is that I know people who worked on this game and feel like I want to see every last bit of the original content.  There is a town in the Rift area in Ebonheart that has namesake characters for myself, Ashgar, Warenwolf, and Audrae…  and while I saw them during beta I want to see them legitimately with my main character.  I feel like maybe I am ready to buckle down and start pushing through the content and finally reach that goal I have been working on since 2014.  Ultimately Elder Scrolls Online is a game I have been playing off and on in one form or another since February of 2013, and the amount of effort that I put into beta testing probably stalled out my eventual post release progress.  That said I am deeply proud of being a member of the Psijic Order… what they called the alpha testers and proud of what this game has ultimately become.

Falcon’s Wings

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Last night was another night in Diablo 3 and I managed to whittle down the remaining objectives in Champion down to one…  raise 3 gems to 35.  This is more tedium than it is difficult since I can do 45 greater rifts pretty quickly…  the challenge is simply not dying and getting that bonus gem level each go round.  Demon Hunter is very much a glass cannon and it gets frustrating sometimes when a single hit can send you to the graveyard, but I am getting better at vaulting to safety.  The challenge however is now that I have swapped over to the grenades build…  there is so much going on with the grenade bounces that it can be extremely hard to actually see incoming attacks that might KO me.

For most of the season so far I have been running the Yang and Rockets build that while it isn’t exactly the same as this one… the one I was running is fairly similar.  Last night was all about finishing out the pieces I needed to swap over to the more appropriate seasonal Manticore/Cluster Bombs build that supposedly has a much higher damage potential.  The one thing I loved about Multishot is that I could hang way the hell away from my targets and just pepper the screen with nonsense, allowing me to pretty safely clear everything without needing to “get my hands dirty” as it were.  This is a play style that absolutely fits the Demon Hunter because it kept me largely safe and at a significant distance to react to incoming damage.

Cluster Bombs however feel like I need to be way closer to the action and as a result spending much more of my time vaulting around the screen trying not to die to poison puddles or explosions.  I am adjusting but I still find it less enjoyable overall than the multishot route.  That said…  Rift Guardians just completely melt at this point when you hit them with a slew of bouncing grenades.  I’ve reached the point where the normal mobs are the problem not the bosses because I have enough stacked up boss damage that they just seem to evaporate.  By the end of the night I had gathered up all of the pieces of gear I needed for the build and am now working on getting those gems up.

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The highlight of the evening however is one specific drop.  Grace and I were splitting up and doing a full round of bounties for cube materials, when she was not paying attention and apparently opened the chest in Garden’s of Hope Tier 1… that contained the cosmetic Falcon’s Wings.  I thought for certain that they would have only dropped for the people who happened to be in zone at that moment…  but apparently that is not the case.  I ported to Grace and sure enough the wings were sitting there on the ground waiting for me to loot them.  I’ve spent time in the past farming for these without much luck, and it seems to be the way of Diablo 3 that the only time something drops for you… is when you aren’t expecting it at all.

A couple of interesting notes from the Season of Greed double goblins event.  Firstly between the two of us we have yet to see a single puzzle ring drop, and the only time we have made it into Greed’s Realm is when a Gilded Baron opened a portal for us.  Second note…  we have yet to see a single Menagerist Goblin spawn so our dreams of double pet drops have been dashed so far.  Similarly we have yet to see any Rainbow Goblins…  so no whimsydale nonsense either.  We are however seeing a ton of the gem and material goblins…  which are awesome but less interesting than the ones that can drop something really rare.  All in all I am having a blast and spent from 7 pm onwards last night playing Diablo 3…  first solo and then duo’ed up with Grace.  I am having more fun this season than I have had in a very long time.

Season of Greed

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If you have followed my blog for any length of time you would know that I have a deep connection to Diablo 3 and periodically I do the seasonal nonsense.  When the concept was fairly new a bunch of us would get together on the Friday night that the season opened and attempt to push as far towards 70 as we could.  Over time this group has dwindled from having three teams of four players active during its absolute heyday…  to this past Friday just being me and Grace roaming around killing demons.  The truth is I often enjoy the more low key seasonal pushes than the bigger groups because you don’t feel like you are letting as many down if you need to take a quick break.

The other thing that has changed is that our speed and longevity does not appear to be anywhere near what it once was.  There were several times when we would stay up well past midnight pushing hard to get to 70 as soon as possible, and now..  we often tag out around 10:30.  I think this past Friday we managed to make it to 47 before running out of gas for the evening.  I picked up Saturday morning and pushed through to I think 68 before Grace and I got back together that afternoon and passed the finish line.  Thankfully with a demon hunter…  simply passing the finish line to 70 is enough to pretty much finish the seasonal challenges.

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Often times double demon hunter seasons start out as ones when we are not super into the process…  and are just wanting to unlock the basic seasonal rewards.  This season however we both seem to be interested in pushing a little further than those initial steps.  For the uninitiated there are four chapters that make up the standard seasonal journey, each including several achievements that you have to unlock like killing a specific boss at a specific difficulty or leveling up the blacksmith and jeweler.  These range from trivial to difficult and chapters 2-4 unlock a satchel called Haedrig’s Gift including 2 set pieces each time for a total of the full 6 piece set after completing the journey.  Getting to chapter four also unlocks whatever cosmetic rewards are available for a given season… which this time around was a back banner thingy (yes I know it has a name but I am drawing a blank this morning).

However after this initial four chapters you can unlock additional challenges that go through the ranks of Slayer, Champion, Destroyer, Conqueror, and Guardian.  At this point I have finished the Slayer step and am currently working on Champion and I am honestly not sure if Grace has defeated that step and moved on to Destroyer or is still working on it.  The ultimate reward is an additional bank tab which comes after finishing Conqueror, but this becomes less and less of a thing as you can only get four of these in total.  I’ve not gotten my four…  Grace has.  Demon Hunter with the Marauder set seems to be a reasonable option for pushing higher into the ranks than I normally do in a given season.

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Traditionally I play long enough to unlock my set and finish the cosmetic stuff and then check out until the next season.  This season started on Friday June 15th and if it goes as it normally does… will wrap up around September 15th.  What makes Season 14 special however is there is an event going on called the Season of Greed which greatly increases the number of Treasure Goblins that you encounter.  Firstly it feels like the encounter rate has been increased significantly…  but when you do find one you will get two copies of the exact Goblin spawned in at once.  This means double the loot every time you can get them down, making it feel extremely good to go out and take on things like Nephalem Rifts that already have a fairly high chance of encountering goblins.

I am admittedly a very loot-centric person and the fact that I have hot and cold running goblins on tap…  means I am way more likely to spend time roaming around and hunting the good stuff.  I’ve already seen myself spending a lot more time in Diablo 3 solo than I ever do during a season.  For whatever reason I am finding it extremely relaxing to get in and tear up a rift, but what I need to be focusing on is bounties since I am still down several gem patterns.  I think tonight is probably going to be all about doing a full round of bounties and then maybe knocking out some of those Torment 10 achievements needed for Champion.  All in all I am still very much a fan of Diablo 3 and I am super amped about the potential for a new Diablo project that they are ramping up the hiring for.