Week In Gaming 9/13/2015

Very Rough Week

As you could probably tell from some of the subtext of my posts this week… it was a pretty rough one for me emotionally.  Work is still being stressful, but honestly that really had nothing to do with this one.  For our country September 11th has some pretty tragic context, but for me it has completely different issues.  Firstly September 11th was the birthday of my grandmother, and she would have been 90 this year.  I miss her an awful lot, and there are days where it is just rough to think about her.  Her birthday always brings back memories of her, which are honestly all good…  but there is a bittersweet melancholy associated with it.  She essentially raised me during the first years of my life, because she was my constant babysitter and companion.  She is also the one member of my family that really seemed to appreciate my wife being a member of the family.  If that were not enough to get me down in the dumps…  this week also marks the anniversary of a pretty horrible period of my life.  In September of 2012 I lost my Grandfather, and the day after the funeral…  September 11th… a pretty horrific event happened at my work place.   It quite literally with zero hyperbole ushered in the worst six months of my life.  Someone screwed up, and screwed up badly…  and I had to deal with the fallout and recovery.  So each time this day comes I get a little gun shy.  So this past Friday I was crawling in my skin as I waited for they day to end.

Demon Huntering

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As far as gaming this week, I had a pretty cloistered time of it.  I am still very much in my “hiding out” mentality, and I guess in part I think it was just me waiting for this week to pass me by, dreading Friday.  I spent some time working on my Demon Hunter in Diablo 3 and I think when I last played I was about halfway through 69.  At some point soon I hope to pop back in and finish leveling him to 70.  I also spent some time farming away on Rifts, Greater Rifts and Bounties attempting to get blood shards…  which I then disappointingly spent trying to get class set pieces.  I have been stuck at 3 of 4 pieces of the set I am going after on my Barbarian for a few weeks now.  I am not sure but Diablo might have worked its way out of my system for a bit.  I finished off the seasonal stuff, but as of last night Grace on the podcast talked about additional seasonal rewards.  I am just not sure if I will be willing to do any of the crazy things that are required to get them.

Star Wars the Old Republic

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The big event of this week was that I apparently have fallen into a Star Wars the Old Republic shaped hole.  I have played this game off and on since release, but this is really the first time I have felt I was actually back in the swing of things.  I’ve played alts a lot in the past, but this is the first time I have actually continued the storyline on my Jedi Guardian main.  As of last night I finished Makeb and am working through the precursor content leading up to Shadow of Revan.  My plan is to finish the story content before the drop of Fallen Empire next month.  Additionally I am taking advantage of the insane twelve times experience bonus.  Last night during the podcast I started working on my Chiss Smuggler and I have to say…  having access to Treek as a tanky companion makes that experience so much better.  Seriously… I hate Corso Riggs so much…  and was completely stalled out trying to play a smuggler because he annoyed me so much.  Treek is simply a better tank.. in that she jumps AT the mobs instead of grappling them back to me.  Who though a tank companion pulling back to the healer was a good idea?  Anyways as soon as I wrap this post I intend to go downstairs and play some more Smuggler… that was how much I was into it last night.  I may or may not have stayed up until 1:30 in the morning playing.

Final Fantasy XIV

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I am very much in a lull right now with Final Fantasy XIV.  I talked about this a bit on the podcast, but it is strange… that even while in this lull I still consider it my home base of operations.  I figure when 3.1 lands which should be soonish…  everyone will be invigorated once more and we will return to logging in every single night.  In the mean time I am playing a lot of other games as not to force myself.  I am still raiding on Monday and Wednesday nights, and this week we managed to get a few more people through Bismarck Extreme.  I really want to defeat Ravana Extreme before the new content lands, but one of the big problems we are having is… that honestly it just feels like there isn’t much content for us to be doing.  When we returned to Final Fantasy XIV July 2013 we had a years worth of content to explore since we had last played.  While we managed to slowly whittle our way through all of it… it gave us tons of small goals to work towards.  In Heavensward there really does not seem to be the much for us to work towards.  We can clear Alexander Normal in our sleep, and are pretty successful with Bismarck Extreme.  We are working on Ravana Extreme and I believe it is in our sights…  but Savage Alexander just isn’t a realistic goal, namely because I can’t bring myself to do the gear grinding that it would require to really be viable there.  I am well enough geared to do all of the content I feel like I could do… and I just don’t have the drive to push towards that bleeding edge.  So instead I play other games and wait for another content drop.

AggroChat 74 – Force Binds Us

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We start of this weeks show by talking about our continued adventures in Diablo 3, and while a some of us have slowed down our progress Grace talks about falling back into the familiar rhythm of chilling out in solo play. With the upcoming September 29th release of Wildstar Free to Play she also talks about spending a lot of time on the test server, and the recent hoverboard racing event testing. Thalen this week spent time venturing into some single player games that had never got around to playing. First we revive our discussion of Wolfenstein New Order and why you should play it for so many different reasons. In a shocker we find out that Thalen never actually played Fallout New Vegas, which spawns a discussion about our appreciation of the game.

Kodra on the other hand spent his week mostly playing a bunch of indie titles and talks about Circa Infinity and The Magic Circle. Magic Circle being the game that he spent a significant amount of time at Pax talking to the Dev about. Additionally we are all jealous of him as he talks about his experience playing Mario Maker, which is essentially Infinite Mario. This spawns a discussion about each of our early attempts at creating content for our friends to play like Excitebike, Wolfenstein, Doom and Descent. Related to Magic Circle, a seperate discussion breaks out about the Stanley Parable and what it says about gamers themselves.

Ashgar is still heavily involved in LBX: Little Battlers Experience and has even gotten in his model kits from last week putting at least one of them together. He helped to clear up some of my confusion that there is in fact a Roleplaying game there, and it is very similar to the style of game that Pokemon is. We also get into a length discussion about Pokemon Go and how the Ingress type game is likely going to change what we are playing next year. There is really no way this is not going to be a huge title, and for the most part we agree that Ingress has been a tech demo leading up to this.

Finally several of us have spontaneously gotten sucked back into Star Wars the Old Republic. Right now it is impossible to go anywhere in the world without being bombarded by Force Awakens merchandise, and after a point I simply could not resist the pull of nostalgia. The best thing about coming back to a game after years of being away is the huge backlog of content available to be played. The current twelve times experience bonus for subscribers helps as well, because you quite literally only have to focus on your class story to get leveled which was always the best part of the game. Ash, Bel and Tam are all caught in the gravity well of this game for the moment, and it sounds like some of our other hosts might have gotten the bug as well. We will have to see next week if we are still talking out it, or if we have gotten it out of our systems.

[AggroChat] [Direct Download] [iTunes] [Stitcher]

 

 

Paragon Levels with Friends

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Blaugust Administrata

Blaugust is officially over…  I mean it… put your pencils down and turn in your papers.  Now begins the fun part of actually attempting to “grade”, and by that I mean tabulate the results.  I started doing this yesterday afternoon with some of the early finishers, and if everyone that was a day away crossed that finish line… we have a pretty huge bunch of winners.  Equally impressive as of yesterday we had 76 “Survivors” meaning that during the course of the month they managed to get in at least fifteen posts.  Mostly I wanted to say a little bit this morning about just how proud I am of everyone who attempted any length of posts this month.  The concept of daily posting is rather daunting and there are still days where I question my sanity as I plunk away at the keys each morning trying to make sense of the jumble of thoughts in my head.  So while I will be terming people as “winning” the challenge you are all winners in my book even if you didn’t make it to fifteen posts.

My goal all along has been to get more people creating more content about the things they love doing.  After a point folks stop caring so much about what you are writing, and focus in on the fact that it is YOU behind the screen that is writing it.  The whole idea behind Blaugust is if you can prove to yourself that you can churn out thirty one posts in a single month…  then posting a handful of posts every week on a fixed schedule is really not that terribly daunting.  Whether or not they realize it, people crave consistency.  I started this blog with a decent boost of readers, but over the years of my lack of posting…  I pretty much pissed all of those regular readers away.  When I became consistent, folks started tuning in every morning to read all of these seemingly useless thoughts I was dumping out of my head…  and apparently enjoying it.  Today is my day for calculations, but I wanted to close Blaugust with one thought.  Don’t let Blaugust be this marathon that you run once a year and then stick back on the shelf until the next year.  Let Blaugust be a spirit that you embrace every day, and an excuse to create regular posts throughout the year.

Boys Will Be Boys

First off I have to say that I have always hated this phrase… but sometimes it absolutely fits.  Last night I talked to my mom on the phone, because it had been a few days since I had called my folks.  They have had to deal with the fallout of a flood in one of the bathrooms, and this weekend they got into my childhood bedroom.  My closet backed up to the bathroom so it was a assumed that pretty much everything in it would be ruined.  The funny thing is… my Mom expected me to remember what I had in my closet over two decades ago.  Luckily it seems that for the most part all of my comic books, and various sundry cards that I never bothered to “move out” were left untouched.  Apparently some plywood seems to have wicked up the bulk of the water that made it through to the closet.  As she was pulling stuff out of the closet she kept stopping and asking my dad what various things were.  Then she got to an item that threw her for a loop.

I was a little skater kid, and there was a phase in my life where everything that mattered about anything…  was skateboard related.  She pulled out this baseball bat that was scrawled with all sorts of skater terminology and logos in a combination of sharpie and paint pen.  She wanted to know why this bat was all scarred like it had been hitting concrete and “defaced” in such a way.  My Dad just said that it looked like “little boys were playing”.  So I had to explain to my mother what the bat was used for.  We used to go to the tennis court with our skateboards, as much padding as we had, and baseball bats.  My friend and I would ride towards each other, each of us on one side of the tennis net like we were “jousting”.  At which point we would put as much padding on our left arms as we could and use the right arm to swing the baseball bat at the other person.  The goal of course was to knock the other person off their skateboard and the padding was in a vague attempt to block the blows.  It is a miracle we didn’t do serious harm to each other.  This apparently did not phase my father, because it turns out his childhood friend and he would fire arrows at each other from recurve bows…  so I guess in the grand scheme of things getting beaned with a baseball bat doesn’t seem that dangerous?

Paragon Levels with Friends

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Since a good chunk of our raid was still doing the whole Pax Prime thing, we were not able to put in any attempts on Ravana Extreme last night.  Instead I spent a good chunk of time fiddling with Bitdefender and ultimately uninstalling it.  I guess I should have known better when my good friend Wulf struggled to keep it from blocking the Final Fantasy XIV game client, but I went ahead and gave it a shot.  This time around it was the Glyph client for Trion Worlds that I could not get it to unblock.  I finally uninstalled it and went back to AVG because at least I am used to it.  That of course killed an hour, so by the time I finally logged into Diablo 3 it was fairly late in the evening.  Grace was already hard at work doing rifts and such so I joined her until she left to go eat dinner.  Then there was a block of time when the server was rebooted and patched, and I could not get reconnected to save my life.  All the while I am watching The Strain on Hulu, which is a show I would absolutely suggest if you like Horror.  The added benefit is you get to see Argus Filch playing a Van Helsing like badass… and yes I know the actors name is David Bradley but he will always be Filch to me.

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The big take away of the evening is that we managed to get Mor to 70 on his Crusader, and I managed to get up to 47ish Paragon levels before the end of the night.  I still cannot deal anywhere close to as much damage as Grace can at this point so I feel like I need to do some research into how best to gear and spec out a Barbarian.  I mean I do respectable damage but I think my gear just isn’t quite at the same level as hers.  She is still absolutely carrying both of us hard when it comes to doing group content.  Though last night I did manage to stay alive most of the time, I think I took two deaths throughout the night, which is significantly better than previous outings.  We spent most of the night on Torment IV, and I can personally solo Torment I pretty effectively… it is just that bosses seem to take forever.  I am not sure how long this current addiction to Diablo 3 will last, but for the time being I am rolling with it.

Blaugust and Nephalem

Last Day of Blaugust

As the subheading says, it is in fact the last day of Blaugust and as such very soon I am going to begin tabulating the results.  It has been an interesting month, but also a very quick one.  It seems like just yesterday I was kicking off this challenge, and now we are staring at the finish line.  It has also been interesting just how many people have participated in one way or another.  Even if you did something as simple as retweet a Blaugust post, you are part of this and I thank you.  In truth I was not really sure how the turn out for year two would end up looking.  The biggest surprise honestly was just how many year one folks came back for this year.  You’d think that they would have learned better by the time the second event rolled around.  As I sift through the results it is going to be interesting to see just how many folks have completed both years at this point.

The big take away this year is that we have already reached a point where we are just too big to be planned somewhat “on the fly”.  Up until July I was still questioning if I would actually go through with a second Blaugust.  I was somewhat shocked at the number of people who were looking forward to it.  So I pulled things together and we ended up with this year, that went significantly more smoothly than the first.  As a result I think for the 2016 Blaugust I will be starting to pull things together about four months in advance.  Folks offering to sponsor prizes was a brand new concept to me, and this year we had Anook and KingsIsle Entertainment both chipping in prizes.  I greatly appreciate them both, but I am hoping if I start the wheels moving several months ahead I will be able to get a few more people to come on board.  It would be awesome to get some game keys donated for a sort of “Blaugust Game Club” like our AggroChat Game Club.  Where every Blaugust writer has the opportunity to play a specific game and write about it, because it is super interesting when you collect a bunch of opinions on the same title.  I realize we are just how wrapping up, and folks are I am sure sick of it for the time being…  but I am already thinking about how to make next year better.

Nephalem Ascended

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Friday night when I got home from eating with friends I started a brand new Female Barbarian, and as of last around 8 pm I managed to hit 70 securing at least some of the Season 4 rewards.  While I managed to get drug along for a handful of levels, this is still the fastest and most dedicated I have ever leveled in Diablo.  In part a huge chunk of it has been that I have largely been leveling with my friend Grace, who keeps pushing me to go do content rather than just piddling around like I normally do.  Pushing is the wrong word because she was not even insistent… she just gave me a reason to keep grouping up and doing interesting things.  The other big change this season is that I pretty much completely ignored the story line.  In Season 3 I attempted to level my way through the story, which is apparently the worst possible way to level these days.  Instead I largely started adventure mode from the moment I created the character, and the result is as I leveled I tended to always have legendary weapons that I could craft for my character.

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One of the big changes that came with Season 4 was the introduction of the “Season Journey” interface that serves as a way of unlocking the various rewards.  Just for hitting level 70 on a seasonal character I unlocked the transmogrification pieces, but in order to get the Portrait Frame and the Pet I have to complete all four Chapters of the Season Journey.  As of last night I have completed the first three and they were honestly all pretty easy.  The final element that I needed was to defeat one of the major bosses on Master difficulty or harder.  Since Belial is the fastest to get to on Adventure mode I popped over there and took him out with relative ease.  Now I have to do some of the more grindy things like taking out each of the key masters on Torment difficulty.  I also need to finally use the Kanai cube to extract a Legendary power, but I am trying to sort out what sort of power I want to keep.  Honestly I feel like I need to read up on how exactly that process works before making any decisions surrounding getting powers from it.  I know that once you do this you can choose at least one power as a permanent buff, and I have a few that are really nice.

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I really did not spend much time playing Reaper of Souls, and as such I had never actually done a Rift of any sort until this weekend.  Grace on the other hand is an expert at such things and as a result I spent some of my “post 70” time last night with her working on Rifts and then the Greater Rifts that follow.  I have to say they are crazy amounts of fun, and I am trying to sort out how best to use my legendary gems.  Right now I have two of them, and I need to run more Greater Rifts to power up the second one.  The first one is now at level 6, but once again I think I need to do some research in how best to utilize them.  The game is so much more intricate than I remember it being, and in truth I have never played Diablo 3 seriously.  I am having a blast so I guess that is really all that matters.  My hope is that tonight our Final Fantasy XIV raid can down Ravana Extreme… but after that… I hope to put in big ole dent in some of these Chapter IV objectives.

Second Winds and Diablo

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Desi Wonderfulness

Last night was a bit unusual as far as our Friday nights go.  Generally speaking we come home from work, and I play video games while my wife attempts not to fall asleep… always failing that battle around 9/9:30 ish.  Instead we went out for dinner with some friends, and I got to eat at one of my favorite restaurants…  Desi Wok.  I generally refer to it as an “Indian restaurant” but in truth it is a “Desi” restaurant as the name implies, focusing on an amalgam of traditional Indian cuisine mixed with some more Chinese inspired dishes.  My wife got the always tasty Chicken Tikka Masala, and I went with my most recent favorite an ambiguous dish called “Chicken Desi Fried Rice”.  The dish comes out bright red and spicy as hell, pretty much the way I like it.  The problem is it is way more food than you can eat in one sitting so I always end up taking home about half of it.  My wife decided to order a Mango Lassi which she had never actually done from Desi Wok, and in my confusion I wound up getting one for me too…  but no actual other drink.  This meant I consumed a lot of water in my vague attempt to control the spice of my dish.

By the time we finally got home last night I was drained.  We made a stop off at Target, and all the while I was moving around the store at a snails pace.  I literally think my wife would have been dragging me through the store if I had a rope tied onto me.  She kept having to stop periodically and look back at me to see if I was keeping up.  I am guessing it was the beginnings of a tasty food coma.  But in all honesty it could simply be the weight of this week crashing down upon me.  Each and every day there has been some major crisis that I had to deal with.  We had a production database get wiped one day, and another day we were trying to diagnose why a piece of software built in Visual Basic 6 wasn’t working any more.  For starters I had no clue that anything built in VB6 would run on a Windows 7 machine.  Visual Studio 6 was the brand new technology…. when I was in college almost two decades ago.  All the while during each of the issues I acted as the manager and facilitator, which is a bit of a new role for me.  I am not used to being the one directing the action rather than the one with my hands buried deep in the guts of the software trying to sort things out manually.  Putting your faith in someone else to fix things for you, is way the hell more stressful than being under the gun to fix something yourself.

Second Winds and Diablo

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Yesterday was the beginning of the brand new Diablo 3 fourth season, and this time I wanted to get in on the ground floor instead of creating a character a few days from the end.  Earlier in the week I had talked about my plans on what exactly to create for this new seasons and I finally settled on rolling a Femme Barbarian.  I have an absolute love of Sonya in Heroes of the Storm so any attempt to recreate that character seems amazing to me.  However I spent the first half hour or so of gameplay complaining to my friend Grace about her lack of armor.  She was awesome about it and I am sure was just patting me on the head as I complained about something that every woman on the planet has complained about at some point…  the shitty armor options they give female characters in video games.  Yes I realize the male barbarian starts in essentially a furry diaper, but  that changes pretty quickly as you find gear and at this point at level 37 I am still wearing a bra of some sort.  I finally learned to ignore it mostly and got on with the game play.

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Grace had started her traditional Wizard earlier in the night, and was about five levels ahead of me by the time we both managed to get on at the same time.  We proceeded to spend the rest of the night running bounties and rather quickly I was able to catch up in levels.  I am not sure what it is about Diablo right now but it is really hitting the spot.  The only negative being that the Barbarian starts out in a fashion that I don’t really enjoy that much.  The first attack and the first secondary attack… are both not really my thing.  Thankfully you get Cleave pretty quickly, and before the end of the night I finally was able to pick up whirlwind which serves as not only a great group attack but also a decent way of getting out of things since you seem to ignore slowing effects when you are spinning.  My hope is that at some point today we can hook back up and start leveling again.  Other than that I am looking forward to tonight’s AggroChat show because we are finally going to talk about Birb boyfriends and why that game is pure madness.

Faffing in the Fjord

Losing Time

It seems that no matter what I do to prepare for it, Daylight Savings time still kicks my ass every year.  This go round I purposefully started trying to get more sleep from about Thursday onwards, in an attempt to get used to the earlier bedtime.  Saturday night I even started referring to things based on EST instead of my normal CST time… to attempt to trick my brain into thinking that was normal.  So last night… I hoped above hope that my brain would be able to power down and go to sleep at a decent hour.  But instead there I lay in bed trying to get to sleep.  I ended up taking some nyquil and playing Bravely Default in bed until I fell asleep.

I am sure Daylight Savings time made sense when we were primarily an agrarian society, however I have no clue why it still exists.  Why do we as a country do this to ourselves each and every year.  To be honest I do like having a lot more sunshine in the evenings, but since that is the case why not stay offset an hour permanently instead of shifting back in the winter?  I mean the days are so short that it really doesn’t matter at all in November if we offset back or not.  For whatever reasons even falling back and gaining the hour still seems to screw with my internal systems.  I realize that bitching about it will do exactly nothing…  but it makes me feel better.

Faffing in the Fjord

So yesterday thanks to the time drain I was feeling a little bit out of sorts.  I got up like I do every Sunday morning and played through my Steampowered Sunday game pick for a few hours, then wrote my review of sorts over it.  This week was of course Brutal Legend, and if you were interested in winning your own copy… make sure you click the extremely obnoxious vote here button at the bottom of the review.  Once I got finished up with all of that silliness I began the massive chore of laundry for the week.  Actually in truth it had been a few weeks since we had done laundry, so I knew I needed something that I could walk away from and check on the loads periodically.  Generally speaking solo leveling fits the bill perfectly.  I am not sure exactly why, but I decided to fiddle with FFSplit and try and figure out this live streaming business.

Normally speaking I always end up leveling my characters through Northrend in Borean Tundra.  While it is extremely boring and grindy, it just seems quicker.  The zone itself is laid out in more of a hub and spoke pattern and you can progress your way through the zone without a ton of travel time.  However since I had not done so in a really long time… I opted to move my little dwarven Warlock to Howling Fjord.  A few hubs into the zone I remembered why I stopped doing this…  so much travel time.  I figured I would share my pain by streaming it so the world could see.  The above video is not terribly interesting, but is me spending my afternoon… or at least roughly two hours of it going through the paces of leveling a warlock in Howling Fjord.  You can watch me playing video games badly!

More than anything I used this as a way to test how well streaming directly to Twitch.tv works, and then using that to upload to Youtube.  So far so good, but I kept my microphone muted during this trial.  I was feeling fairly antisocial, but at some point soon I hope to livecast something meaningful.  I still need to figure out a good size to put my postage stamp video feed into the stream.  At this point I am juggling back and forth between 320 wide and 240 wide, but before I do this for real I want to pretty up my twitch stream a bit with some artwork.  Right now this is just stock FFsplit with no real alterations.  However credit goes to Scopique, who told me this would be a much easier way to record videos…  it just took me months and months to actually fiddle with it.

Belazon Lives!

Diablo III 2014-03-08 18-41-05-93 The other big thing to come from this weekend is that I managed to push my Barbarian to 60 in Diablo 3.  The irony of this is thanks to a certain drop, I have completely shifted focus in the way I play it.  Previously I had been all about dual wield and cleave, using rend to soak back up some health.  However it was either Friday or Saturday night that I got a truly amazing drop that caused me to completely change my build for it.  I ended up getting the level 59 version of the “Three Hundredth Spear” to drop, which buffs my throwing damage by 55% and my ancient spear damage by 59%.  So as a result I completely rearranged my abilities to be able to use this and now I am more of a hoplite build with spear and shield.  Funny how my pure melee class ended up turning into a ranged.

Overall it works extremely well, and I can throw out some truly silly damage on a boss fight.  At one point Saturday the trio shown above were working our way through the various bosses in the game, letting Ashgar get the achievement for killing them all wearing nothing but blues.  At this point I was using the Boulder Toss rune for Ancient Spear, and it was insane to watch the bosses health move significantly each time a boulder landed.  The only problem with this rune is that it changes the functionality of ancient spear significantly.  The thing I like the most about it is that it acts almost like a League of Legends skill shot, in that if you can line up a bunch of mobs in a “wave” you can burn through them quickly as your ancient spear will hit each of them in a row.

Diablo III 2014-03-08 22-42-21-30 I was never really a big fan of the Amazon in Diablo 2, but so far my Belazon build seems to be pretty enjoyable.  While on a “role”-bending trick, I decided to start a baby mage and attempt to go for the melee mage build.  While functional, it just doesn’t feel like a class I would really enjoy.  I don’t really like feeling like a glass cannon, and apart from a few shield abilities the class has really weak survival.  In my few minutes of playing with my friend Tibuant, I died several times… when I have maybe died twice in total on my Barbarian.  I think it might be a class that is enjoyable to solo on, because many of my deaths were simply because Tib and I were not really in sync while playing.  He would be off in one direction and I would be off in another, which always ended up with me getting swarmed.  I think until the Crusader actually gets unlocked I will mostly piddle around on my Monk and Barbarian attempting to get paragon levels.