Unintended Stealth

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I had every intent last night of going home and working on my Deathknight.  This week the world boss is The Soultakers, which finally allows folks to unlock the hidden frost appearance.  I had been enjoying my newly humanized Deathknight after years being a Worgen, but had largely been taking my time in pushing through the levels.  However with the promise of an artifact appearance waiting on me, the goal was to get home and push as hard as I could to get to 110 before the week was finished.  Recently they patched the game to make all artifact appearance drops from world bosses a 100% drop chance.  Apparently however there is a giant asterisk looming behind that statement.  What I am hearing now is that in order to get the appearance you have to be artifact knowledge rank four, which is completely impossible for me to actually obtain during this week, at least without the impending catch up mechanics.  So instead I went upstairs to try and solve another issue.  According to my friend Squirrel, apparently I have not been online on PSN in over thirty days…  so after some back and forth we determined that I had apparently inadvertently set myself to appear offline.  For awhile now I had seen a red X beside my portrait in the PS4 menu, but I always just assumed that meant I had a flaky connection.  However apparently on my profile page I hit the wrong thing and flipped myself into some sort of stealth mode.  After fixing that… I also started getting updates as to what my friends were doing, so when Squirrel joined a party I decided to hook my headset up and join as well.

The plan for the evening was supposedly a Hard Mode Wrath of the Machine, but due to the holiday messing with everyone’s raiding plans… it was just Squirrel, myself, Jex and Havel that were available.  The original thought was that if we could somehow muster the folks that we would end up running a normal to show me the ropes.  Instead we just ended up completing various crap that I had sitting undone.  I am the worst at actually grinding through quests, and the Gjallarhorn was something I tried when I was sitting at 340ish and found maddening.  There are wave and waves of exploding shanks that have this nasty way of sneaking up on you when you are least expecting.  I would ultimately end up getting blown up and failing out… and unfortunately this is one of those quests where you have to complete a bunch of stuff if you die at any point.  The goal originally was to pester someone to come help me, but I never got around to doing it.  Last night they were willing to help and I was more than happy to knock a quest out of my inventory.

Similarly I had been sitting on the Thorn quest for at least a week now, having completed the last of the crucible kills during the recent Iron Banner.  In order to do this one I needed a key, and had never actually finished the Sepiks Perfected strike quest…  which rewarded a key.  So next up my friends set about to helping me complete this quest.  Unfortunately I have not actually spent any time with the gun, but seeing as I never got the year one variety I have always been curious just how it feels.  There was a time where I used hand cannons above pretty much any gun, but the short range and ammo capacity nerfs have ended up with me favoring other things.  If nothing else I might throw this up on my hunter and be the stereotype, even though this version of thorn is significantly defanged from the original.

Lastly when I opened the chest to pick up the Thorn, I managed to pull a pretty sweet new sniper with significantly higher light than the one I was using.  I like the super high damage archetype of snipers, so this has already seen some use given that it is solar burn week.  We attempted a random heroic after completing the Thorn quest but for whatever reason I failed to get credit from my Future War Cult quest.  I am super thankful to all of the help that Squirrel and Jex were willing to dish out last night, and I really want to figure out a time when I can hang out properly and do more Destiny stuff.  I knew I missed them, but I didn’t realize how much until the middle of last night hanging out killing baddies.

Fetching Cats

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I am not entirely certain how well this video is going to come across on the blog, since I am just using the default twitter embed process.  I’ve talked about playing fetch with my youngest cat Kenzie before.  She loves rubber bands, and whenever she wants to play will bring one and drop it beside me.  Traditionally this has meant tossing it around the room and her chasing after it.  However over the weekend my wife went to a craft fair and picked me up a basic rubberband gun.  Now at first the results were mixed, but I quickly realized it was because it moved quicker than she could actually track.  So firing it across the room in the air meant she would just look at me confused a few times and then give up.  However if I fire it across the floor so that it makes impact and slides the rest of the way…  she is able to track that and bolts off after it.  I decided to attempt to record this in the process and overall it turned out pretty well… including the batting of the gun to try and make me fire it.  This was my evening… and when she would get tired she would bring it back… and then lay down on top of it.  Later she would discover it again when she got up and the circus would continue.

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As far as gaming went… it was another mixed bag of an evening.  Firstly early in the evening before my wife got home I spent that time working on my Warlock and namely doing the Shiro and Tyra weekly quest.  The idea being that if I keep doing those every week I am bound to get some interesting stuff from the load of legendary engrams that they ultimately provide.  At this very moment I swap them all to the bank and then hop on my highest light character to open them.  However before long that won’t matter quite so much given that the only sub 385 character I have right now is my Warlock.  Today is the weekly  reset, and from what it sounds like it is a really good week to farm packages.  If nothing else this is going to be the week that I farm up all of the heroic strikes I need for Future War Cult quest.  Small Arms and Solar Burn means you can farm heroics, and Mayhem Clash means you can finish games in 6 mins making it an insane Crucible farm week as well.  Needless to say I am probably going to be playing Destiny tonight.

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In World of Warcraft last night was our traditional Mythical Monday night…  which is just a cute name for “oh shit we never did a mythic this week”.  It seems like Monday is the night that I always end up doing a keystone just in time to get a free item today.  This time around there was a double benefit, in that my friend Mor needed Black Rook Hold for the Karazhan attunement, and he also had a keystone for it.  It is getting to the point where these runs are largely pretty smooth and we managed to complete in with enough time to spare that we got two chests at the end.  Unfortunately I don’t think anyone managed to get any usable gear.  Quite honestly it has been a really long time since I have gotten anything useful out of a Mythic, and largely they are just something I do… because of the fear of missing out on something from the chest.  I enjoy them, and I am always happy to tank them pending I can dedicate 30 minutes of my time in one sitting.  However I am not necessarily running them because I need them.

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Lastly I finished the evening in Rift and managed to finish up Scatherran Forest.  I got so into the game that I completely did not watch the time… and wound up finally heading to bed when my wife started to wake up from the sofa at 12:30.  From there I had a pretty fitful night sleep wise, so it is definitely going to be an interesting day.  That aside…  Scatherran Forest was a great experience and the wrap up event was full of epic moments.  At the end of the zone you wind up going into a mini solo dungeon of sorts, with I believe four boss encounters that you take on with two companions.  As far as the story line and ramifications… they also felt pretty awesome.  There were some definite feels caused by the ending… that were not entirely attributable to the late hour.  I’ve now moved on to the Gedlo Badlands, with my general idea being to ping pong back and forth between the two as I work my way through the comet towards the Tower of Ahnket.  I had my first real run in with Ahnket and it was interesting…  definitely get a malevolent evil vibe…  but also that of a cat playing with a toy which makes it all the more fitting to talk about this morning.  I  talked a bit during the day about Time to Kill issues… and apparently a good chunk of that was my own damned fault in that I forgot to slot any planar fragments.  Once I did that… I noticed a significant boost in damage output, so if you are similarly struggling try that.  So far my favorite thing about this expansion is largely just a side effect.  I love that I am gaining planar levels insanely fast anytime I do pretty much anything… which is helping me flesh out those neglected trees.

A Good Weekend

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This past week was the week of seemlingly smooth and fast clears.  Wednesday night we worked on progression content, which mean’t that we spent the majority of the evening wiping to new and exciting things.  However the end result of that evening was that we downed Odyn and made a decent amount of progress on Guarm.  The only negative aspect of that is that it also means that none of us actually saw progress on the quest chain that haunts us.  We kicked around the notion of having an Emerald Nightmare clear night, that I ultimately decided would be Friday.  I set up a calendar invite and hoped, and then was pleasantly surprised at the number of folks that signed up.  In fact we technically had more than our normal raid nights, and other than some starts and stops while waiting on folks or dealing with disconnections…  it was a very smooth evening.  So smooth in fact that I seriously wonder if we could have cleared the entire place in an hour.  I mean because of the various time spent waiting… that was not a thing that happened however it seemed like we might have been on pace for it.  That general smoothness continued on last night with Karazhan, but so did the whole waiting business.  Thalen got sidelined with family stuff, and we had the option of either filling his slot or waiting.  It turned out we ended up getting started roughly an hour and a half late, but once again things went amazingly smoothly.  So much so that I think next week we are going to make a proper attempt at a Nightbane run.  We would have one shot every boss… were it not for the fact that we tried some madness for an achievement on Medivh.

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Another big part of my weekend was roaming around and exploring the Comet of Ahnket in the Rift Starfall Prophecy expansion.  At this point I am sitting around 66 1/3 and feel like I have barely scratched the surface of the Scatherran Forest zone.  Firstly I have to say this expansion is charming as hell so far, namely because of the two companions that follow you around at times… but also because it is a great example of environmental storytelling.  Every area is packed full of little things to be scene and experienced much in the same way the zones are built in Guild Wars 2.  Lots of things are happening in the background and all it takes is you sitting still long enough to experience them.  The best of these vignettes has to be the hedgehogs who are stuck in a ball rolling…  until one of them realizes that they can just let go of their feet to stop.  Similarly there is this adorable sequence where you are playing hide and seek with baby unicorns, and you have to go out and find them so that you can lead them back home.  The only negative so far is that I feel woefully undergeared for some of the content, and there is a bit of an uneven difficulty level happening.  There was an area full of spiders… and they seemed literally twice as tough as any of the other equivalent level 66 mobs.  I could take down entire packs of humanoids… but a single spider was a race to see if I could finish them off before they finished me off.  Getting a second spider meant absolute certain death.  All in all though I am really liking the expansion and it feels much more like Storm Legion did as far as content goes.

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Finally I spent a good deal of time playing Destiny this weekend and was able to push my Titan to the 385 barrier.  This is the point where you stop getting upgrades from legendary engrams, and are stuck relying on faction rewards that stop at 390… and exotic engrams that will take you all the way to 400.  This means I am hoping tomorrow starts a small arms week for the heroic strike list because I absolutely need to spend some time farming.  In theory I believe the Archon’s Forge will go up to 400 when it comes to end of event rewards, but not anything coming from an engram.  I spent some time working on my Hunter and Warlock and getting both of them through the Rise of Iron story so I can have three sets of world bounties to work on each week.  I realize they just reward engrams at this point… but if nothing else it can be infusion fodder to help work up additional weapons and armor.  I need to find the free time to try and sign up for one of the machine raids so I can see the content and get some more tasty gear.  However 385 is a completely respectable place to be, and in theory during the next iron banner I should be able to make a decent dent into pushing that number up into the 390s.  It was a great weekend and especially considering we have a short week ahead of me.

Weasel Town

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Last night I was having one of those nights where I needed to just blend into the background, and largely avoid human contact.  That said I needed to schedule an invite for a potential Emerald Nightmare raid tonight, and finish up my Emissary quests that I had hanging out there.  However before long I had done just that and was off to Rift to explore some more of the Starfall Prophecy expansion.  This is the point where I am at a bit of a disadvantage because I never got the opportunity to play through the Comet of Ahnket 10 player raid instance, and learn more about the story of what is going on here.  From what I have been able to glean, Ahnket is this sentient creation engine of sorts that seems hellbent on destroying Telara.  I am sure at this point Captain Cursor is cringing like mad and will pop in and correct me, but like I said having not played that raid I only have impressions to go on.  This expansion we take the fight to the comet, which has grown into a landmass.  It seems like every time Ahnket crashes through a plane on the way to Telara it picks up a chunk of that world and carries it with it.  At this point the comet has traveled through the planes of Fire and Nature and as a result we have two new zones themed after each, and a fifth zone that seems to be a place where everything clashes in conflict.  We as ascended are sent here to try and stop Ahnket once and for all and help the friendly folk who have gotten uprooted as a result of the comet passing near their homes.  All of this is irrelevant however because all I really want to do is hang out with this lovely bunch of weasels.

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The other thing that has changed is this time around we have companions that tend to roam around with us as we complete the quest content pretty regularly.  Firstly there is Shyla Starhearth that you might recognize as being the formerly half naked lady hanging out in the throne room of Sanctum for the Guardians in the room.  This time around she managed to find some proper armor and is apparently now a super tanky badass.  Next up we have Tasuil the Dragon, that we last saw in the Dendrome… and has shrunk down a bit to make adventuring with a little easier.  At some point in the quest line you find someone who can Corgify him at which point he is both hilarious and adorable.  Then during my current sequence of quests I also have Windflower the babby Unicorn hanging out with me.  So I am hanging with a Corgi, a Unicorn, and a heavily armored elf lady…  who could ask for more?  It seems like with the impending doom the Guardians and  the Defiant have set aside their grudges because in the new hub town you can also find Asha Catari leading the offensive, which makes my little Defiant heart crackle to life.  I apologize for the image quality in the above two shots, but at some point during the evening I transitioned from my desktop upstairs to hanging out on the sofa with my laptop…  that cannot run the game in nearly the same graphical fidelity.

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In truth I feel like I have not experienced enough of the new content to give it a proper review at this time.  Overall I like it considerably more than I liked Nightmare Tides, but I think that is because this content brings back familiar landscapes.  Goboro Reef was just a completely foreign and alien looking zone, with its angry technicolor vibrancy.  These zones are similar to what I have been seeing in the game since launch, just subtle variations on the planar themes.  Of not I have only actually ventured very far into Scatherran Forest, as you are presented with two possible choices at first… and I could have similarly gone down the Gedlo Badlands path if I wanted to see a lot of fire themed landscapes.  Even then I feel like I have just barely scratched the surface of the zones, and in the few hours I played I pushed about halfway through my first level.  The leveling is slow, but it feels not quite as slow as it did during Nightmare Tides which is definitely a good thing.  As far as crafting and such…  I have only barely scratched the surface because I am competing with everyone out there for ore pops.  If anything that would be my one complaint so far that the spawn rates maybe need to adjust up a bit to deal with the influx of players.  Completing any of the “kill x” style quests seem to require either a lot of luck or patience.  The best part so far however has been the music, which is more technological in nature… and it comes with an amazing remixed version of the main Rift theme.  If you have been a long time fan of the franchise, I feel like this expansion is already well worth checking out.  That said expect it to still feel more like Storm Legion or Nightmare Tides than the original content.

Trials of Valor

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Last night was a raid night… and I failed to take any screenshots so you are stuck with an image of me in the order hall.  After having cleared Emerald Nightmare a few weeks it was decided that we would instead poke our heads into the Trial of Valor.  The goal set out by the raid leader for our group was to attempt to stay current with normal mode progression, so instead of spending several weeks farming Emerald Nightmare it seemed reasonable to just jump straight into the Trial content which has a much higher item level.  That was a big part of the decision factor in that the baseline for gear is 850… and literally everyone in the raid last night has 850 or better.  All of that said though… there are several of us who still want to keep clearing the Nightmare in the hopes of getting specific items or for no reason other than the try and complete that Balance of Power meta achievement step.  So I think in the coming days/weeks we are going to try and sort out a secondary night with a clear purpose of farming the raid.  I mean back in the day we used to have a Molten Core night even though we were actively progressing in Blackwing Lair…. and for that matter also had a Zul’Gurub Night.  Karazhan is somewhat taking the place of ZG however as far as gear progression goes, but still I want to finish out some quests.

As far as the raid itself, it went fairly well but it is a big of a punch in the gut going from killing eight bosses in a single night to struggling to kill one.  All in all it took us around six attempts to work out the mechanics for Odyn and largely sort out how not to have the tanks die during the final phase.  The fight reminded me so much of Binding Coil Turn 9 in FFXIV, in that the really rough part was at the very end…  but you had to wade through a bunch of mechanics that were more tedious than difficult to get there.  This is very much a learn the mechanics fight and less a gear check in the traditional sense of damage output.  For some however it is likely a bit of a survival check in that even if you are doing mostly everything as intended you are still going to take the occasional damage that becomes hard to control.  We however pushed through and got a kill… and by kill I mean we pushed Odyn to 10% where he once again congratulated us on our performance.  What is it about this guy wanting us to beat him up…  is this a fetish?  In any case a lot of gear dropped, but I got double gold both off him… and off the world boss that I attempted right before the raid.  That leaves me with a single roll token for the week that I am going to need to use judiciously and determine what exactly I want to spend it on.  Largely nothing from mythic+ is really worth it apart from the occasional trinket.

We put in several attempts on Guarm and that fight feels like a pretty hard gear wall the way that Patchwerk used to be.  It has a very short enrage timer, and a oneshot kill mechanic that you need to avoid… while juggling even distribution of the colored debuffs.  So there is a lot more going on than there was with Patchwerk, but it is no less of a hard dps race trying to kill him before he enrages and kills us.  Last night was largely Art and I figuring out the tanking, and placement… and learning how to avoid the charge attack and get through it without taking much in the way of damage.  It also very much felt like the healers were desperately trying to sort out all of the details because there were so many times where I was painfully low and straight up out of cooldowns to mitigate that fact.  A little gear, damage output optimization, and some practice and I am absolutely certain that we will get that fight to farm status before long.  We also have an alternate path open to us of trying to push through Heroic Emerald Nightmare, but with a brand new raid open that hasn’t seemed that compelling.  In truth I hope we get to a point where we can easily clear Trial of Valor and then go back and worth on Heroics all in the same night.  Of note however… “ToV” will always be Temple of Veeshan to me and never Trials of Valor.

Fragmented

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This topic is not necessarily going to be Destiny related, but I didn’t want it to be a huge wall of text without something pretty to look at.  This is a screenshot I took the other night while doing Iron Banner, and you are treated to a planetary screen when you travel between two areas on the same planet.  This for example is travelling from one crucible arena on Mercury to another one, something I had never seen before.  In any case, that is not what is important today, but instead a discussion that was had yesterday…  or at least as functional of a discussion as can be facilitated over twitter.  Twitter is a service that is great for drive by commentary, and less for actual deep discussion.  There were a handful of us bemoaning which social networks work well and which do not work so well for gaming circles.  Which started a thread where we talked about missing forums, which is to say that I don’t think any of us actually miss the forum construct.  Instead I think we miss the era in which forums were king.  In the time before Facebook, the only reliable means of keeping in touch with your gaming buddies were forums… and I had a string of them over the years.  For me they carried me through Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, Horizons, City of Heroes… and things didn’t start to change significantly until well into World of Warcraft.  Sure we had email, or instant messenger…  in even in a few cases private IRC servers…  but gaming forums served as this cultural common ground for discussing what was going on in your game of choice or quite literally any off topic subject.  Hell it was on a gaming forum that I had my first friend come out to me, and forever changed my perspective on the gay rights movement.

The problem started when the social networks proper started springing up.  It became harder and harder to get anyone to log into that forum on a regular basis when they were already used to checking myspace or friendster, or eventually facebook and twitter.  During this era however it wasn’t just guild or personal forums that thrived, but also individual company run gaming forums.  I remember being deeply connected to the Argent Dawn forums in World of Warcraft, and there are so many people that I still count as great friends today that I met through them.  It gave me a window into the other side of the server, and the awesome Horde players that we had as well as the Alliance.  In fact this is probably the point where I started championing the cause of tearing down the faction wall because I wanted to play with all of my friends at the same time.  During late Wrath of the Lich King and early Cataclysm, Blizzard made a number of significant policy changes… or more so began to crack down on some truly silly things on the forums.  It is probably not in small part that this also represents the time in which I began to detach from the game because these forums gave us all a common ground to discuss issues at a server level, rather than just focused entirely on our own internal guild politics.  Without the forums as a anchor the game felt so much less important and more inexplicably empty.  For a period of time I even ran an unofficial server forum, but the madness of trying to monitor and moderate that became an insane struggle when the damage had already been done.

Over the years it became progressively harder to get players interested in checking the forum, so that after Elder Scrolls Online I simply gave up on trying to make them work.  Now there are simply too many locations available to try and sort out where we should check for information.  Each group of friends tends to favor a different platform, which means I simply do a bad job of keeping track of any of them.  The fragmentation of gaming communities has reached a critical mass, and each individual site hopes to be this island in itself.  What I need instead is some service that freely glues all of the information together and lets me view it in the portal of my choice.  Right now I am actively trying to keep tabs on the following…

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google Plus
  • Band
  • Over Half Dozen Slacks
  • Over Two Dozen Discords
  • Anook
  • Player.me
  • Steam
  • Reddit
  • Imzy
  • A Few Actual Forums

Then there are also services that I don’t actively use… but still have accounts on like Ello and Raptr that I never really found a good use for.  Then there are even stranger more diffuse communities on YouTube and Twitch that I still on occasion dip a toe into.  Basically just like the MMO gaming world has fragmented from a time when there were essentially two to three active games at a time…  the community itself has exploded into a million tiny niches.  I guess I simply miss the era when it felt like we were all looking at the same things, and reading the same commentary.  Forums served this key role in the development of me as a blogger, and I feel like most of us started our careers as “wall of text” posters somewhere out there.  I was known for extremely long winded discussions where I essentially worked out my own thoughts in text form much like I do on a daily basis here.  The end result of yesterdays discussion was to plant another flag in the ground, and create another place to have discussion.  I don’t mean it to sound like that is a bad thing, I just hope that it is something I can remember to check in on because there are so many other places to be checking in on as well.  I am not even going to go into the madness of the blogs I read or the fact that I am trying to keep tabs on around three dozen reddits.  I am old… and this is just a post of me saying that I miss things being simpler.

Clever Dragons

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Iron Banner just concluded yesterday, and I spent a good deal of time playing it this go round.  I’ve never had any luck in trying to get a decent Grasp of Malok, so when the rank five roll of Clever Dragon featured Counter Balance, Perfect Balance and Snapshot…  I knew I was ultimately going to grind until I got there.  With the Rise of Iron it brought a number of changes to “Iron Banana”, namely since Lord Saladin is nor our “faction leader” of a sort…  the reigns of the tournament were passed to Lady Efrideet.  The primary change that happened is the fact that instead of three weekly bounties, and three daily bounties…  we are given four weekly bounties.  Previously you got a crappy blue item at Rank 3 with Iron Banner and an item package at Rank 5.  This time around two of these new bounties reward armor packages, and the other two reward weapons…  and you still get some sort of a big package upon hitting Rank 5.  So the total loot payout of participating in the event is significantly more than it used to be.  That said I find it MUCH harder to get to Rank 5, given that I don’t have something I can be working on every day to give me a much needed boost.  In Iron Banner you only gain ranks if you are winning, and especially trying to queue during the day on Friday… I hit some significant losing streaks.  Now there is a built in system that gives you a sort of consolation prize coin upon a loss… and these stack to five, with a boost to your rank granted when you finally turn around and win.  However there was at least one point on Friday that I lost eight games in a row…  so it just become frustrating as I kept getting thrown up against premades.

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Now the positive of the event is that I got tons of loot, and also managed to complete both the void damage portion of the thorn quest, and the crucible kills portion of my Future War Cult exotic class item quest.  I spent a significant amount of time running around shooting people into the face with the above Shotgun.  I’ve had the Party Crasher +1 for awhile now and I consider it to be as close to a god roll as I will ever likely see with Full Auto, Final Round and Rifled Barrel to help boost the range a bit.  Traditionally I use my Invective when doing crucible, but at the moment I am simply not willing to waste an exotic shard on anything until I get significantly closer to the item cap.  I went on a mission to try and get a decent legendary shotgun during Taken King and in my very first round of attempting to grind the Crucible I managed to pull this guy in the end of match rewards and have been loving it ever since.  I am sure a god roll Matador could pry it from my hands but for the moment I am super happy with it.

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The other weapon that I used a significant amount of the time especially to get those void kills is Saladin’s Vigil.  Now this is something I picked up last Iron Banner from one of the loot bounties, and I felt like I got a completely reasonable roll on it.  I am not even sure what a “god roll” would look like, but mine has Hammer Forged, Enhanced Battery, and Performance Bonus….  with that last perk actually extending the usefulness of the weapon as it materializes ammo out of thin air.  With a really low charge rate and almost maxed impact and reasonable range… this is essentially the first fusion rifle that is not Sleeper Simulant that I really find myself enjoying using.  I got many a kill by this one and leading the charge as I expected something to duck around the corner.  Fusion Rifles can be extremely frustrating in the crucible because they are very much a “whelp I’m dead” weapon when you intercept a bolt.

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Lastly the weapon I cannot stop using… literally ever is this Haakon’s Hatchet that was a vendor roll during the Taken King.  I realize that the “doctrine of spamming” archetype is still pretty potent in the meta, but no matter how many versions of that archetype I get… I never can seem to do shit with them.  I currently have a potentially viable Hex Caster ARC and an Unbent Tree… but I cannot ever bring myself to level them and have not deemed them worthy of motes of light.  The weapon I continue to go back to however is this Hatchet with Ranger Finder, Counter Balance and Perfect Balance.  This is as close to my perfect weapon as I will likely ever find, because not only do I love the appearance… but I can also draw a bead on enemy players with in and chew them up.  What I love the most about the weapon is the fact that it is just as viable for me in Crucible situations as it is doing literally anything PVE… namely the Archon’s Forge.  The magazine is big enough that I can often take down an entire wave of mobs in the forge without a reload.

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I’ve tried so many different primary weapons… for example I managed to pull the above Shadow Price that while it does not have the perfect roll has something I can work with.  With Rodeo and Perfect Balance it becomes usable… and while Icarus is generally a worthless perk I can make it work since I jump around a lot.  This gun works well in any PVE situation, but it is completely useless in the Crucible, at least with the roll package that I wound up getting.  I have a copy of The Continental that seems similarly reasonable, but nothing can quite match up to the “perfect for me” stat package of the Hatchet.  I still want to try and find one of the Doctrine archetype weapons with Counterbalance and Perfect Balance to see if it suddenly becomes this magical weapon that folks talk about.  However for the time being I will keep using Hatchet and be happy to have it.  I am hoping however that after all the time I spent trying to get it… that I find that sweet spot with the Clever Dragon and it becomes my new favorite Pulse Rifle.

 

Karazhan Clear

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This weekend was a bit of an odd one, namely because of the extended holiday granted by veterans day.  It is also odd because it felt strange to go so long without a post after the recent outage in my blog.  Most everything is working as intended, but for whatever reason on the new hardware there is an artificially low upload limit which is causing me to have to shrink my images for a bit until I have that sorted out.  In truth I doubt most people will really notice that much given that my theme tended to scale them down a bit anyways.  The only real annoyance is I actually have to play which images I am going to use and shrink them down beforehand.  As far as gaming went I was all over the place… playing copious amounts of Destiny, World of Warcraft and even a little Guild Wars 2.  I also started Diablo II the December game of the month, in honor of the 20th anniversary.  The strangest thing about going back and playing that game is… just how amazingly well it still holds up.  Maybe I am viewing it through the haze of nostalgia… but other than some dodgy animations it mostly just “works”.  Sure I miss some of the more interesting abilities that Diablo 3 added in, but it is also making me appreciate the game we have more.  So instead of going on about a whole slew of topics, I am largely going to focus in on World of Warcraft.  Firstly on a crazy whim I decided to de-Worganize Belgrave my Deathknight.  He started out as a human and the more I played him in Worgen form the more I was annoyed at how small in general two-handers look on that model.  Both my Artifacts for Blood and Unholy felt like I was swinging a one-hander which just felt “wrong”.  Along with this shift however I managed to get into the groove of the Deathknight and in theory that is probably going to be my next 110.  While I need the rogue and the alchemy it provides…  I just struggle to get into a would be stealthy class.

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The core of this mornings post however is about Karazhan.  We managed to miss the first week because we were juggling trying to get attuned, with raiding and all sorts of other things… that by the time Sunday rolled around we didn’t have a permanent 5th player.  After we snagged Kylana we went in on week two and managed to make a significant amount of progress getting six of the eight bosses.  We made an attempt to pull together last Monday but scheduling conflicted with us as it was Ashgar’s On Call week.  From there we largely plotted our revenge throughout the week and in truth I was more amped about popping into Kara than I was about our super smooth clear of Emerald Nightmare.  I’ve talked before about that this is essentially what World of Warcraft was missing for me…  a tight group experience for a fixed limited number of players.  After Zul’Aman there really didn’t seem to exist a similar experience, and while 10 player raiding was essentially that… it just felt different.  Raiding feels like raiding no matter how many people you bring, and while I probably had more fun during wrath in the 10 player group…  it didn’t feel significantly different than the 25 player version I was already running regularly.  Doing both 10 and 25 watered down the experience, so that by the time we killed the Lich King on 25… it felt like old hat already since we had done it months earlier in the as a 10.  It also served to make me that much more frustrated when players seemed to struggle to grasp the mechanics… since they were exactly like the version I already knew like the back of my hand.

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What Karazhan provides more than anything else… is a unique experience that fits within certain confines.  This week we managed to clear significantly faster, but still a little bit behind the time we would need for a Nightbane run.  By the time we hit Opera we still had around two minutes and thirty seconds on the timer…  but the RP dialog before the event actually starts ate up roughly a minute of that time.  Essentially if we are going to do this we need to be chain pulling the place, and at some point I hope to get there.  For the time being however we have been working on getting stable kills.  Moroes was still a pain in the ass that we BARELY pushed across the finish line…  but a oneshot is a oneshot so we were happy with that.  We struggled a bit on a few other fights but at the 1 hour mark we were sitting halfway through the raid.  We made it up to the Mana Devourer and took a handful of tries before we managed to defeat it and start moving onto the final boss.  I am not going to lie here… it took us a solid hour of attempts on Viz’aduum the Watcher because that fight is less about damage output… and more about trying to time all of these stupid things from happening at the worst possible time…. while avoiding as much damage as is humanly possible.  This is absolutely the sort of fight where you can just end up getting screwed by RNG, and it reminds me of the stark difference between FFXIV raid design and WoW raid design.  The encounter as a whole has as many moving parts as Coil Turn 9 for example… but it is far more RNG dependent and far less successfully messaged.  However all of that said… we managed to finally get a good attempt where the stars shined upon us and managed to get our guilds very first clear of Karazhan.  Now just to speed up the process and get us a Nightbane as well.

Rainbow Tentacles

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This morning is a getting to a bit of a late start because reasons.  Firstly I am off for Veterans day, and I want to take a brief moment to thank those who fought to protect our country.  Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II, my wife’s step-dad fought as part of the Chosin Few in Korea, and various sundry other family members have been in the military during peace and war time.  If you see anyone out and about, take a moment to thank them for their service.  The little things like that, feel all the more important during these last few days because of the sequence of events that has happened from essentially Tuesday onwards.  As for me… its been a weird series of days.  Firstly I just couldn’t put myself in the mindset of being able to write a blog post, so instead you got an intermission.  I genuinely expected to pick up Thursday morning and begin blogging as normal once again.  However fate seemed to conspire against me because in the middle of the crushing depression that I was going through Tuesday…  my blog disappeared off the face of the internet.  It seems my web host had some sort of catastrophic hardware failure, and that since I had yet to migrate to newer harder…  partially my own fault…  the site went down until it could get moved completely.  The positive is that I seem to have lost nothing in the process other than I am sure readers who probably thought I was going dark… given the post that I had left that morning.  It feels odd to have taken a somewhat forced break… and then be back just for Friday before taking the weekend off.

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As far as my own mental state… I have to say raiding with the guild on Wednesday helped it immensely.  For some reason it has become what seems like a new tradition to paint me with the rainbow generator before battles.  Here we are waiting on the Xavius fight to begin… and I am glowing with really strange rainbow tentacles as I tend to think of them.  I always feel like I am straight out of whimsyshire.  On a more serious note though… I could not be more proud of my guild and the raid attached to it.  The position I have assumed in the world is vastly different, because I am not leading the guild… and to some extent that still feels odd.  Kylana assumed the reins after Rylacus went into Final Fantasy XIV… and I have to say that while Ry and I were essentially the same sort of leader…  Kylana is way better than I have ever been at the day to day administrata.  That is really the place where he shines, and doing things like making sure everyone gets guild rank promotions on time… without having to be pestered about it a dozen times.  As for me…  I pretty much live in this position of guild mascot.  Folks still ask me to do responsible adult style things, but mostly I try to defer to the judgement of Ky.  I am still very much the chief recruiter and tour guide, but it feels okay to not be the king.

As for raiding…  there are certain fights where I am taking a much bigger role at least in communicating the mechanics.  I’ve started barking orders on Iggy and it seems to go more smoothly when I let folks know what they should be fighting and when… and roughly how much time we have left to burn.  As far as Emerald Nightmare in general… other than us tanks completely screwing up Ursoc…  we had probably the smoothest night we have ever had and made a really quick work of the entire instance.  We had enough time to put in about thirty minutes of attempts on Heroic Nythendra…  which is way rougher than the original.  I remember rolling into Emerald Nightmare for the first time and feeling amazing when we oneshot her…  only to feel frustration again when we struggled with SpiderBirb.  Ultimately more than anything I feel happy we have made progress.  It feels like we started as a disconnected group of folks that sometimes ran dungeons together… and have exited a highly functional team.  I mean I had worked in the past a few times with Art, when I had to fill in tanking during our Warlords raid… but he is a super dependaeble tanking partner.  Of course I also love tanking beside Ashgar who fills in when Art has not been able to make it.

As far as other matters go… I am trying my best to focus on the positive things in life for awhile.  This is not me burying my head in the sand, but me trying to return to a sense of normality for my own mental health.  I am just as confused and frustrated as anyone by the recent turn of events, but I also know that there is very little that is directly in my realm of control.  So I am going to focus on the things I do control, and try my best to get happy again.  For those of you who are reading this… thanks so much for sticking by me throughout the years.  You all mean so much to me.

Intermission

I have been sitting here at my desk trying to figure out how to muster the strength to make a blog post.  When I write I do so from a generally good place, and try and harness hope and a sense of wonder about the things that matter to me.  This morning I just can’t do that.  I cannot seem to fake my way into thinking that everything is okay.  Everything is not okay.  My heart is broken after last night, and I just can’t have any joy to pour into this today.  I am not going to go on at length about this, because I generally try and keep my actual blog a relatively politics and religion free zone.  Suffice to say I do not live in the country that I imagined I did.  I apologize to my readers for falling down on the job, but you really don’t want me trying to write in this current mindset.  I am hoping beyond hope that I find a silver lining in this, because right now the future seems extremely bleak.  I used to comfort myself with the belief that sanity would prevail, but I just don’t have that luxury anymore.