Monday LFR

A Good Show

I have not been in the habit of linking AggroChat in my blog lately, but I am going to do it this morning.  It took for freaking ever for the YouTube version of the podcast to finally upload yesterday, but I feel like this weeks show ended up really good.  There were a bunch of topics that branched out but the big one and the one I chose the name the episode was over a discussion about Otome.  A friend of mine Pizza Maid and her equally awesome named friend Sushi Geisha have this podcast called Heroines of the Cherry Blossom, where they talk about Otome games.  This was not a term that even exists in my vocabulary before this week, when they referenced our Hatoful Boyfriend episode on the podcast.  Essentially the side discussion that spawned was about how Tam was impressed with the quality of the writing of these various relatively low budget dating sims that he played in preparation for our Hatoful Boyfriend show.  The general consensus was that we would all like to see this deeply nuanced writing make its way into more mainstream titles as well.

Another interesting side discussion centered around the point in which we all tune out when it comes to an open world or sandbox game experience.  For each of us there seems to be a point where we are just “done” with the game even if we are not truly finished with all of the content.  For me personally I am never really “done” but I reach this point where I have to take a break and play something else for awhile.  But then by the time I return to the game I rarely remember what I was doing at that point and end up having to restart the game…   usually going in a slightly different direction than the original play through.  I know this past week with my focus on trying to chew through the quest content…  I am enjoying Fallout 4 significantly less than when I was just wandering aimlessly.  For others on the podcast they found themselves HAVING to focus on the story, to keep from losing interest.  In any case… we recorded a really content dense episode… which then surprised when editing that it ended up being a fairly short episode at only an hour and fifteen minutes.

Monday Night LFR

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I find myself once again in the unfortunate position of needing to run LFR on a Monday night.  The last chance crew in any MMO seems to always be the worst crew… and unfortunately due to the push in Fallout 4 I didn’t get any of this done earlier in the week.  There are a bunch of reasons why I am pushing last minute raids, but not the least of which is…  I am still trying to build out a tank set on the Cow.  There was a point in last nights raid where they absolutely would have used me in a tanking capacity had I a set of gear.  The problem is largely that I have plenty of armor… but since the Cow was a boosted character… I only went into level 100 with a single set of gear.  Normally as I level up, I pick up both a mix of two-handers for dps… and sword and board options for tanking, but I have had zero luck in getting anything I could use for tanking.  So I quite literally have a full set of gear that would be viable…  minus the sword and shield.  So tonight part of the plan is to run through Blackrock Foundry since it mostly features gear lower than what I need… and set the loot preference to protection, hoping that maybe just maybe I end up with a one handed weapon of some sort and a shield.  I technically have a 650 shield banked that would work well enough for the time being.

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On the other side of the fence I am still using the 670 Blackrock Foundry normal mode weapon that I have for ages… because I never could get any of the heroic bosses we were downing to drop me a weapon.  Similarly I have opened dozens of Garrison boxes… all with zero luck in finding a damned weapon to use.  So in addition to running Blackrock, I also really need to run  through Hellfire Citadel LFR on Belghast.  While I feel like BRF is probably going to go smoothly simply because most people have the gear for it…  I have a feeling that Monday night Hellfire is going to be pure hell.  The only thing that I maybe have gone on my side… is that there are generally more active alliance players on my battlegroup than there are horde, and I can definitely see that still is the case in the difference in my queue times between the two.  At very least I am going to struggle through the first few rounds of the raid because that seems to have the best chance of dropping me a weapon.  I have a pretty decent shield now, so really all I need is that main hand.  I even went so far as to purchase a Baleful Armament with some of my excess stones…  and only managed to get a 650.  In theory if I save up for a bit I could maybe manage to push that to a 695.  The other option is to have my blacksmith start trying to craft me one, but given the silly amount of materials it would take to make that happen…  I am hoping I simply have some decent luck this Wednesday during the raid.

Last Raid

Make Numbers Go Bigger

SteamSaleAFKGaming Yesterday morning before I left the house I tried an experiment.  I placed three large chicken breasts cut into strips, some diced carrots, some diced potatoes, some hot curry bullion and chicken broth in the crock pot.  I figured I was either going to end up with chicken curry or a colossal mess.  The truth ended up a little between, when the end result was significantly soupier than I expected.  In theory I could have cooked it on high for a few hours with the crock pot lid off and probably done just fine, but instead I had a bag of frozen noodles in the freezer and dumped those in to make what ultimately was curried chicken noodle soup.  It was “odd” but I have to say once I added some salt, pepper and sriracha it was rather tasty.  So for the next few days I will be eating on the leftovers that are so neatly packed away into some giant tubs from Ikea.  Sometimes these experiments work out, other times not so much, but this is pretty much my preferred method of cooking…  dump a bunch of ingredients together and see what happens.

Another experiment is going on right now on the Steam page as they have officially launched their summer sale.  For those who have not experienced the summer steam sale, it is pretty much Christmas for gamers.  During the sale you can see normally $40 games going for $4 and other ludicrous things.  With the Steam sale there is always some sort of mini-game that happens in the background, that involves collecting cards or voting on this or that item.  This time around it is quite literally a game that you play… essentially by afking.  I think this might be a commentary on a whole series of games that have showed up on steam recently that involve sitting at your keyboard and clicking on things to make the numbers go bigger.  This is essentially what happens with the new Steam Monsters game, either you afk and let your auto cannon do the work for you.. or you click until your heart is content and reduce the health of monsters ultimately clearing waves.  The game I have been in has been going on since yesterday and at the time of writing this we are on level 237 of a seemingly endless wave of monsters.  I have no clue what the point of the game is other than to make the numbers go bigger, but I am participating to find out.

Buffalo Farming

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One of the things I am enjoying the most about ArcheAge is how I feel this sense of accomplishment after only playing a short period of time.  Right now I am averaging one to two hours a night at most, but still feeling like I am making forward progress.  The big change last night is I opted to drop Shadowplay from my Darkrunner build and pick up Occultism turning me into Bloodreaver.  In truth I really was not using much of anything from the Shadowplay tree, and the Occultism tree will eventually support the AOE that I am dealing through Battlerage.  For the moment I am planning on doing an AOE damage and CC build that should be solid as I move forward.  I think one of the things I dig the most is just how easy it is to change things around.  I can go to a Skills trainer or any graveyard and swap my trees around as needed to support the kind of game play that I am needing for a given moment.  The only negative is that each time I do this I need to spend some time catching up that tree.

So last night I spent a good deal of time killing random stuff.  I wandered down into a mine filled with Kobolds which also provided me an ample supply of ore to mine.  For the moment I have not touched any of the crafting in the game, but I am instead stockpiling resources.  At some point I will probably work on weapon-smithing, or whatever the games equivalent is.  In any case I assume a stockpile of ore is going to go a long ways into whatever I need to do to make the crafting numbers go bigger.  At this point I am level 18 and I think significantly higher than the rest of my friends playing the game.   I kind the actual combat enjoyable, so I always end up killing way more stuff to complete a given quest… and this game seems to reward farming mobs over and over.  As the title says, I was hanging out in this field killing the water buffalos over and over because it was enjoyable to leap at my target and whirl around like mad with my two swords.  I have no clue what group content looks like in this game but as Kodra starts a character this weekend hopefully we can start working on groupy bits.

Last Raid

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Last night was the final raid night for me for the near future.  As I have said before I am going on a bit of a sabbatical from the game, so that I can fully enjoy the launch of Heavensward.  I don’t plan on doing anything drastic like cancelling my account, and I will probably poke my head back in around the launch of 6.2 but the future of me and raiding is a bit uncertain at the moment.  Quite frankly right now I need a break.  I have enjoyed a lot of my time raiding, but the slog through Blackrock Foundry has taken its toll on many of us.  As a result our raid group as a whole is taking at minimum a two week break starting today, and last night our raid lead cancelled all of the reoccurring raids off the in game calendar.  So there was a sense of finality in last nights events that probably the rest of the raid did not have.  I have called this subsection the way I did because really my future in WoW raiding is uncertain.  I would like to think once things have calmed down I will pick back up and work my way back into the raid group, but honestly that is at least a month away and I cannot determine how I will feel at this point.

The big positive is that we managed to take down three heroic bosses, which should get most of us the ability to start getting mythic loot boxes from our Garrison.  The negative is that we downed Gruul and once again he refused to drop the upgraded version of my sword.  More than any expansion I have felt like I have had to fight tooth and nail to get the meager upgrades I have gotten.  There has never been another time in another game where my fate was determined more by the cruel mistress of RNG than in Warlords.  I have sat and watched as I have won enough rings and cloaks to outfit an army…  but have struggled to get weapon and shield upgrades.  I guess on the positive I did manage to get my four piece bonus faster than a lot of people, but by the same token that four piece bonus is so good for Gladiator that it has been its own albatross around my neck.  I have functionally better items for every single slot that I have a set piece, but I need that bonus so badly.  It reminds me of how overpowered the tier 2 hunter eight piece bonus was, and how no one was willing to give it up once they got it.  So for the time being… I am bidding Warcraft farewell and packing it neatly in a box to be unpacked at a later date.

Blackhand Down

Gliders Away

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Whatever has a hold of me allergy wise is driving me insane.  I struggled my way to work yesterday only to be not so subtly asked to go home by my boss.  Apparently I sounded fairly horrible.  So I headed to the house and took a breathing treatment and attempted to be productive remotely.  Last night I took several Benadryl before heading to bed so I am hoping that helped get me over whatever hump I was struggling with.  This morning my head feels a lot clearer, but that might all change the moment I open the front door and are exposed to the world again.  My friends have joked that I need a bubble… and there are days that I agree with them.  To make matters worse we are under an Ozone alert day meaning that the air quality levels are already going to be horrible today.  There is a whole list of things that we are not supposed to do during an Ozone alert day, but the show must go on.

Yesterday I was a little bit spread out in what I ended up playing.  It was of course my World of Warcraft raid night, and at least on some level I was excited about getting in and getting more attempts in on Blackhand.  I spent quite a bit of time last night playing around on Cat Belghast in ArcheAge and honestly the more I play that side of the fence the more charming I find it.  I am naturally drawn the Nuians simply because it is the race I can create the closest facsimile of “Belghast” proper in.  However it is pretty much a bland European fantasy world, with the same vistas and characters we have encountered in essentially every MMO.  What makes Haranya interesting is they combine the tribal Firran with the Harani that are essentially steampunk engineers.  Quite honestly the Harani remind me of the Al Bhed from Final Fantasy X, and doing quests just seem more interesting than the Nuia side of the house.  I know Ashgar has a preference towards the cat people, and I guess I am developing that as well.  In any case I am really enjoying my time spent piddling around in ArcheAge.

Blackhand Down

Wow-64 2015-06-09 22-10-57-40 Last week on Thursday we had made a significant amount of progress on Blackhand.  On our best attempt we managed to get hit to 11%, so it was my hope that after some time away from the fight we could pop back in and pick up where we left off.  What made last Thursday challenging was that we were extremely short on melee so the walls were going down very slowly.  Last night we had some of our normal melee which made that part easier, but we were also down two of our main healers which added its own challenges.  However right out of the gate we managed to push to phase three like it was easy and at least match that 11% progress.  The rest of the night was spent fine tuning things and on our very last attempt of the night our raid leader managed to bring in a additional healer which seemed to push us over the top.  Unfortunately I spent the tail end of that fight in the lava as I managed to get clipped by one of the smashes while trying to execute spam Blackhand.

It feels extremely good to have defeated this raid tier, especially since Heavensward is right around the corner.  This was functionally my last week of raiding in World of Warcraft before going on a bit of a sabbatical.  I had hopes that we would be able to down him at least by Thursday, but now we are in the interesting position of not really knowing what to do with ourselves.  I guess Thursday if we have the people we will venture back into Heroic and see what mischief we can get up to there.  I know several of us are a single kill away from being able to get Mythic gear out of our Garrison loot boxes.  So in theory it would be nice to knock that kill out as well.  Similarly it has been talked about maybe just having a Heroes of the Storm night instead, since several of  the raid are also playing that game.  In any case it feels like I managed to squeak by another milestone fight before the buzzer.  So that is two raid Warlords raid tiers I have managed to defeat in this expansion and I am pretty happy with that.

Closure

Wow-64 2015-06-09 17-09-25-10 Even thought I am not enjoying World of Warcraft fight now as much as I had hoped I absolutely loved getting to raid with the guild again.  Coming back I was in an odd situation where I simply did not know many of the folks that had joined the guild I founded in my absence.  I am so happy to have been welcomed back with open arms and been allowed to get to know so many of them.  I am not saying I am “done” with World of Warcraft, but if I was I would be able to end on a happy note.  In a months time I might be raring to go and begin raiding again and pushing forward into Hellfire Citadel.  Right now however I just know that I need a break from this game.  I don’t want to try and split my attention between the new and shiny Heavensward content and Warcraft that feels very much like a worn in shoe.  It is comfortable, but as you walk down the street you happen to notice every blemish and scuff and remind yourself that you really should buy a new pair of shoes.  I am just thankful for the most part that people seem to “get” why I am taking a break.

I talked with Rylacus the man who wears the crown these days and explained it as this.  If I was forced to play Warcraft, when there was another game I would rather be playing… it would ultimately lead to me quitting the game again.  I think instead of I just back away for awhile, and let myself get Heavensward out of my system…  or at least to a manageable level I will once again be able to juggle multiple games.  The only problem I see is that there are a lot more people than just me that are in desperate need of a break.  Yesterday it was revealed that once again World of Warcraft is timing their next infusion of crack with the launch of a major game.  It seems that the 6.2 patch is going to land right around the time Heavensward officially launches.  The current rumor is June 23rd, and for some that might be just enough to keep them from straying.  For me personally, my heart already belongs to Final Fantasy XIV… I just spend time in Warcraft so that I can hang out with the friends that are still there.

Bad Medicine

A Good Nights Sleep

Monday night I did not sleep well at all.  I was up late futzing and waiting on a print job for my wife, that ultimately ended up printing the wrong thing.  As a result neither of us got to bed until after midnight.  After that I don’t think either of us really got solid sleep, and next thing we knew it the alarm was going off at 5:30.  As a result I spent most of yesterday sleep walking through it.  There are just some hazes that not even caffeine can clear, and this is only compounded by the fact that my allergies are still killing me.  Even the smallest task seemed like a struggle, and last nights raid was pure hell to suffer through…  in part because of my present state of mind.  I realistically should have just bowed out and headed to bed, but that didn’t happen.

I did however managed to get to sleep around 10:30 and last night was probably the most luminously glorious night of sleep I have had in a long time.  Granted I woke up before the alarm by about twenty minutes…  but I did the correct thing and just got on up instead of trying to struggle for those last few minutes of sleep.  The end result is I feel more human than I have in a long time.  Who knew I needed this sleep thing after all?  Now if only I didn’t have to go to work I could actually enjoy my day.  Today in particular is going to be a strange one as I have to go to lunch with a vendor.  Working lunches make me grumpy, especially since during this one we will be grilling the vendor for information.  At least maybe I get a free meal out of the deal.

Rough Raiding

Wow-64 2015-04-21 20-48-48-06 Last night I was not in the right frame of mind for raiding.  That is the simple fact but the end results of the night didn’t really help either.  As a whole the night felt like we were beating our heads against a wall.  We had fourteen people, two healers and opted to run Blackrock Foundry Heroic.  I am not the raid leader so I am sure there was a reason, but it felt like we were just setting ourselves up for failure.  We managed to eek out a victory on Hans and Franz with that configuration.  Then we lost one healer and gained a different healer, and someone healing in their off set.  We pushed forward and managed to down Beastlord Darmac in this fashion, before heading on to do some attempts on Flambender Ka’graz.  There we made some swaps to the layout that seem like they might have worked, but it required a lot more work adjusting on the tanking side, so overall it was a wash and we wiped horribly.

This stagnation and continued throwing ourselves against heroic when it seems like on some level we are just not ready for it is completely destroying any desire I have to log in.  I am not sure what is going wrong honestly.  I am not sure if our tanks are undergeared, or if our healers are undergeared… or if the dps are just taking too much “could be avoided” damage making the healers heal someone other than the tanks.  All I know is that we are having to battle rez tanks constantly, and as a matter of course which makes all of our attempts sloppier than they should be.  Our Tuesday WoW raid is generally bad at adjusting to the conditions on the ground which is maddening to me, because this is precisely the strength of the Monday night Final Fantasy XIV raid.  If things don’t go according to plan we seem to lose our shit completely, and end up flailing wildly…  or standing in shit and dying.  So I am not sure if we just have a massive case of tunnel vision or if there is some gearing problem at hand.  I know for me personally I am still wearing 640 pants because nothing better will drop.

Bad Medicine

Wow-64 2015-04-10 06-18-41-75 The problem is right now I am right back in that old familiar place.  I dread logging into World of Warcraft Tuesday and Thursday to get a raid invite.  I’ve reached that point where I am just frustrated with the whole raiding in wow experience.  I have been here so many times before, and I am not quite sure how to fix it.  I feel committed to “take my medicine” and log in for the sake of my friends, but I question…  are any of us actually having any fun right now?  Monday was one of the funniest nights of raiding I have ever experienced, and we spent it wiping like nubs to turn 9 after having taken a month off of it.  So it obviously is not progression that ultimately dictates how I feel about a raid… it is the attitude of the raiders and the atmosphere of the raid.  We spent Monday laughing and joking, and at the same time we made some serious progress.  That is when I love to raid, when it feels like we are pulling together as a team even if we are wiping horribly.

The Tuesday/Thursday night raids just feel broken.  They have about as much mirth as the waiting room of a battered women’s shelter.  I log in and join the raid and I feel worse, because there is an unspoken tension going on.  No one talks anymore, because key players in the raid are easily distracted by chatter.  What is frustrating is, this is not the raid I joined.  This is not the raid I saw at the end of Siege of Orgrimmar, or even during High Maul.  That raid was excited about the prospects of this expansion, and enjoyed their evenings spent together.  This raid just feels stressed and burnt out… and I have no clue how to rehabilitate it.  I wish I did know honestly, because I miss that raid that existed before we set foot into Blackrock Foundry.  That is a raid I enjoyed spending two nights a week with.  This one…  I just end up zoning out and waiting for the night to be over.

Timewalking Frustrations

6.2 Disappointment

This week we have had a pretty massive information dump about the 6.2 PTR patch information.  I have to say overall I am fairly disappointed, not necessarily in what is contained within the patch, but that everything about it feels like an “end of expansion” content patch.  The patch information is super spoilerific, but it seems as though the Burning Crusade is now invading Tanaan Jungle.  Soon the gates will open revealing a zone besieged by fel magics, that culminate in the Hellfire Citadel raid zone.  All of that sounds pretty badass, but the problem is it also sounds like the end of an expansion scenario.  If 6.2 is on the PTR that means more than likely we are a little over a month from seeing this content in game.  Which would probably place it landing at the beginning of June.  We have no new expansion announcement, which means that more than likely they will be announcing it in November at Blizzcon.

The problem there is that unless they launch immediately following Blizzcon, we will be looking at another Siege of Orgrimmar style content lag.  I feel like if they announce at Blizzcon the earliest an expansion would be launched is Spring 2016.  The best case scenario I can think of in my mind places a new expansion in our hands in March 2016 which would be a nine month content lag.  While that is nothing near as bad as the sixteen month lag at the end of Pandaria, it is still not amazing.  Sure they would I guess shoehorn another minor content tier like Ruby Sanctum, but I don’t think that will really make anyone happy.  Maybe I will be wrong, and maybe they have an even more epic conclusion of this expansion planned.  This Siege on Hellfire Citadel however just feels like the last grand hurray for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  Which leaves the question in my mind of…  what next?

Timewalking Frustrations

The absolute largest disappointment coming from this however relates to the Timewalking system.  This was hinted at quite some time ago in an interview that something was in the worlks called Timewalking mode, and my mind was set ablaze.  My grand crusade has been for years that World of Warcraft needs a mentoring system, that allows higher level players to scale down to the level of lower level players… and do content with them “for real”.  When this new game system was hinted at, I was absolutely giddy because this meant finally after all these years WoW was getting mentoring.  This has probably been the biggest reveal as part of the 6.2 informational dump, and I have to say I am really frustrated with the result.  I am going to full quote a section of the announcement below.

In Patch 6.2, we’re introducing seven different weekend events that will run from noon Friday through noon Monday every week. Two of those events will be Timewalking weekends, in which you’ll be able to queue up for a randomly selected old-school dungeon with a new sort of “heroic” difficulty: When you Timewalk these dungeons, you’ll find that your character’s power and gear has been scaled down to a fraction of what they normally are. For the first time in years, some dungeons you outgrew long ago will once more put your skills to the test.

So instead of a robust mentoring system, we are apparently going to get a weekend gimmick.  If I am reading this statement correctly it sounds like these are going to be limited time events that will happen twice.  Maybe this is going to be like the pvp weekend construct, and simply rotate through seven different events, or maybe there are literally only going to be seven events ever.  Right now we don’t really know, but regardless of the situation it feels like a complete waste of resources to put these in as limited time events.  I was hoping for and expecting a robust mentoring system, but instead I am getting a carnival ride.  I really don’t know why I set myself up for these disappointments, because traditionally my hopes are dashed on a regular basis when it comes to this game.  I still have so much hope and can imagine a game that is so much better than what we actually have to play, but we never seem to get there.

Cycling Down

Wow-64 2015-03-27 06-34-47-22 I am more than willing to admit that some of my frustrations might just be me.  I have reached that point with World of Warcraft that I often do… where I am simply not enjoying the game.  In previous trips back to the game I would have left it months ago.  I pushed three characters to level 100 and everyone to within Garrison levels… and simply lacked the drive to push any further.  The moment to moment gameplay was extremely fun while leveling, but the non-raid end game content has felt like I had no real purpose.  So instead I log in an hour before raid on Tuesday, so that I can get my extra roll tokens, and make sure I have potions and flasks.  Occasionally I half heartedly log in to run Garrison missions on my main, just for the hopes of those raid loot boxes every other week.  I feel like I am spending the absolute bare minimum of time in this game, and so long as we were progressing smoothly in the raid it felt like it was time well spent.

Unfortunately we are not progressing smoothly.  We will have a good night, and then it feels like we regress five steps the next one.  I am tied to this game because I am actively raiding in it, but I have to say I am starting to question why I am even doing that.  When raid voice chat is full of frustrated and stressed out voices…  it pretty much destroys the enjoyment for me.  I am all about joking and having a good time…  and kicking ass while doing it.  When we stop being able to have that relaxed raid dynamic, and still be high functioning my will to care drains from me.  Ultimately I came back to the game riding a wave of nostalgia.  I stayed because I was raiding and getting to hang out with a handful of friends that I missed.  When even Rylacus, the life of the party, is starting to sound stressed and worn down…  I question why we are doing any of this?  I am sure I will chill out in the coming days, but seeing the 6.2 content, and our current raid struggles…  it is making me question why I am still playing.

Pope Belghast

On Spoilers

This week has been an absolutely insane one, and I have had this feeling of constantly being behind the curve.  So it is no surprise that yesterday I was just not getting around to listening to the relaunch of the Contains Moderate Peril podcast, now with the addition Jaedia and Jasyla joining the cast of permanent hosts.  One of the topics that landed on was a discussion about spoilers.  I have this mixed feeling about the concept of information being spoiled, and it largely centers around the fact that I don’t generally mind them.  If nothing else knowing there is a plot twist coming up, only serves to enhance my interest in the product.  I can only think of one instance where a spoiler actually stopped me from watching the show… and that primarily was because the single character I cared about was killed, and I didn’t feel like going through the motions of watching it happen.

All of this said I am super sensitive about potentially spoiling someone else’s experience.  For example on AggroChat when we are about to discuss major plot points, even if it is a game well past the statute of limitations on such things… we still tend to preface it with “spoiler alert”.  All of this discussion however has made me realize how generally awesome my twitter feed actually is.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I have seen information in it that was actually a spoiler to anyone.  Similarly the group of people that I hang around with and game with seem to be equally sensitive to such information.  I just find it interesting that we don’t consider reading the book before going to see the movie spoilers, but when we read a plot synopsis it is somehow different.  I will say that knowing the “Red Wedding” was coming, only served to enhance my enjoyment of that season of Game of Thrones, because I knew at some point this event would happen.  That said… I would have been pissed as hell had someone spoiled any moment of the Harry Potter books for me, so I guess it goes both ways.

Back to Blackrock

Wow-64 2015-03-20 06-34-13-03 Since my world was insane Monday and Tuesday… I ended up missing my World of Warcraft raid group night.  As a result last night was my first time back this week, and it felt a little odd to be back in the game.  It seems on Tuesday they managed to down everything we currently have on farm but the Operator Thogar encounter…  which is fine by me because so far that is hands down my favorite fight this expansion.  It took a few tries but I think on attempt three we managed to down Thogar again.  I was absolutely shocked when I saw loot pop up on the corpse, since we generally run on personal loot.  Our raid leader said that we had very few upgrades that could be gotten so that personal loot was no longer the big draw it once was.  Unfortunately I have to disagree with him as I have not had a single upgrade in going on seven raids.  I’ve gotten nothing but gold, and in many cases double gold since I am spending tokens left and right.  I kept expecting that one of the weeks the slot machine of a loot system would pay out… but I am guessing that is no longer the case.

I was really hoping this week would be my week to pick up shoulders, since I have been sitting on the chest piece for a few weeks now.  Neither piece is an upgrade unless I am also getting the two piece set bonus for wearing them.  I am annoyed that I still have four slots that are sub 670 gear, but given time I will hopefully find some upgrades.  One of the things I was not expecting is that they bumped Blackrock Foundry gear up by 5 ilevels, which actually makes LFR worthwhile for a couple of slots like my 640 legs.  As far as progression content we worked on the Heart of the Mountain encounter for a bit before popping out of the instance, flipping it to heroic and working on Hans and Franz.  On our best attempt we managed to get them down to 8% but we had various issues.  Largely we were flying without a safety net last night as both our Deathknight and our Healing Druid were not in attendance… meaning we had no battle rezzes at all.  I am getting frustrated that we are struggling with this attendance hump, not quite being able to get all the right classes we need to succeed on at the right time.

Pope Belghast

ffxiv 2015-03-19 22-56-58-83 Before and after the raid I spent time in what has become my more comfortable gaming home… Final Fantasy XIV.  For a period of time I was splitting myself fairly equally between World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV, but honestly at this point I am only actually logging in twice a week because I feel a sense of commitment to the raid.  The thing that has always been missing in every game we have played is a huge thriving community.  Right now we have that in Final Fantasy in spades, and in fact I would say our average player base is easily twice the number of people who are actually online regularly in House Stalwart.  I want to say Ashgar said that over the last few days we had 55 unique players online, and we often top 20 on a nightly basis.  For awhile I was actively recruiting players, but folks seem to keep recruiting themselves once they hear about the Free Company.  All of this makes me a very happy Belghast.

After yesterdays post about being a reluctant healer, Ashgar took it upon himself to convince me to heal expert roulette last night.  I told them this was a horrible idea, but they didn’t really listen and I endangered the lives of not only Ash but also Thalen and Solaria.  It turns out that I honestly didn’t do too horribly.  We ended up getting Keeper of the Lake which is a frustrating instance at the best of times.  We died to the very first boss, but I believe that was the only time we wiped, and I only managed to lose a player once… and that was on the final boss encounter where I swiftcasted a battle rez.  Yesterday after the WoW raid I spend most of the time milling around in the housing district, when we had a brilliant idea.  I have been sitting on the player commendation pope hat for awhile, and with my soldiery healer gear… it just worked too perfectly not to use it.  I even have a proper miter in my hands.  I introduce to you Pope Belghast, the reluctant healer.

Serious Spelunking

Kromog Fell Down

Wow-64 2015-03-10 21-43-21-79 Once more we entered the Blackrock Foundry, and once more we made some progress in our eventual goal of killing Blackhand.  Generally speaking on Tuesday nights we try and clear all of our “farmed” content, some of which is less farmed than others.  We struggled a bit at Oregorger this week, but managed to get him on what I think was our third attempt.  That fight is just frustrating no matter how often  you do it.  I am not really sure what we were doing differently and if we were breaking boxes in the wrong order, but Oregorger was not going where we expected him to go.  Eventually through a combination of luck and perseverance we managed to defeat him, and move on to more interesting fights.  Quite honestly other than this rough spot, it was a pretty banner week given that we were down at least one healer the entire night.

Once again I got nothing of any use from the evening which is starting to get frustrating.  This is two weeks now without a single upgrade, even after spending plenty of bonus roll tokens.  My hope is that eventually there is going to be a week where everything I need drops all at once.  It is just frustrating when you can feel the entire raid getting better geared… and you are still stuck at roughly the place you started Blackrock with.  Our big accomplishment of the night is that we finally managed to defeat Kromog or Kologarn 2.0 as we tend to refer to him.  On the attempt we managed to down him I think I was the only person dead, or at least one of the only.  My issue was that I danced around with one of the tanks for a bit as we kept going for the same hand.  All told though it was a pretty great night of raiding, and I look forward to making progress on Thogar on Thursday.

Serious Spelunking

ffxiv 2015-03-10 23-43-54-28 While raiding is enjoyable and an important part of my week, it was far from the most important thing on my mind last night.  Since I have a level 50 of every role, I have decided to deep headlong into the hole that is crafting in Final Fantasy XIV.  Since I am making this my new mission I have decided to take it on in a rather methodical way, and that means focusing on leveling my Disciple of the Land “gathering” professions first to hopefully make feeding materials to the OTHER professions that much easier.  If you have been reading my blog you have known that over the last few days I made a very serious push to finish leveling mining.  Last night at the  beginning of the evening I was what felt like a stones throw away from 50 sitting at 48 and some change.  The problem is my evening did not work out exactly how I intended, and one thing or another kept sidetracking me.  By raid time I had managed to push through to 49 but had to take a break to beat up orcs and such.

After the raid however I went back to pushing the gathering leves.  The 45 leves in Coerthas send you all over that zone, or more importantly in three distinct areas.  One of the tricks I figured out is the keep doing the one closest to the leve master, with a hopes of stacking all three of the ones that were further away at the same time… and then going out and completing those together.  Each time you complete a leve it resets the ones the master offers.  Essentially it took a few trips to the closest leve and one trip to the three furthest and I dinged 50.  I have to give huge thanks to Thalen for hanging out and crafting me a full set of level 50 miner gear that I am wearing in the above picture.  The best part… is that /visor turns off and on the headlamp.  I have to say that a game is amazing if it can even make the crafting gear feel epic.

Lumberjack Time

ffxiv 2015-03-11 06-11-45-13 I wasted no time sitting on my laurels, because I have so much more to level in order to reach my goal of being an “omni crafter”.  This morning I started down the path of the botanist, which is essentially the guild of lumberjacks.  I have to say though… after playing a Warrior for so long… that axe feels really puny.  As of this morning I am sitting at level 5 and have completed the first quest.  For this next stretch I am going to try and push through as long as I can stand it on just harvesting material alone, to hopefully allow my level quest allowance to regenerate a bit.  Right now I only have 35 allowances, so it took most of the 99 maximum that I was sitting at to go from 30 to 50 mining.  That is really my only frustration with this process, is that I don’t really understand why there is a leve allowance in the first place.  There have to be better ways to farm gil than to grind leves over and over.

At least with leveling a battle profession, I can rely on dungeons and fates to replace the need for leves.  But with crafting of all kinds it feels like you desperately need those to augment the experience you gain through harvesting.  My hope is that once I start down the crafting path proper, I can use the Ixal dailies to make some serious headway.  The goal right now is to stair step up each of the professions.  So the first goal will be to take all of them to fifteen, then start raising them by 5 levels at a time.  The hope is to make it so that when I need an item from one profession for the one I am currently working on… I can craft those without much fuss.  This is a pretty significant undertaking, but I think I can accomplish it without burning out too badly.  Honestly so far with the gathering professions I find them extremely relaxing.  You end up hanging out, listening to the amazing music in this game, and clicking sparkly nodes.  Compared to tanking… it is a piece of cake!

Melusine Down

I’m an Adjective?

There are just some days that it hits me how surreal my life can be.  I seem to be having one of those days.  I talked a bit about being called a “Cult Leader” last night, but apparently somewhere along the line I have become an adjective as well?  If I would say I am most known for anything it would be that I blog each and every morning regardless if I have anything of any real gravity to talk about.  If you follow Jaedia and Simcha you would have found out that this is apparently now termed the “Bel Method” because both of them have been dabbling with it of late.  I didn’t even know I had a method to be honest…  I just do this thing that involves blogging before I am actually awake.  I am pretty sure people were rambling aimlessly long before I showed up, and will continue to do it long after I am gone.  Though I do admit I got a great chuckle when I read that I have transcended humanity and now have become a “thing”.

Which makes it all the more humorous when the other day, I was mentioned in a conversation I was not really even participating in yet.  My good friend Fynralyl mentioned on twitter that she was downloading Final Fantasy XIV, and before I even had a chance another friend… who is not even playing the game chimed in with our server information.  To make it even more humorous Sigtric said the above quote, that the “#BelEffect” was going on.  I am now an effect?  I mean I realize my penchant for gathering people up and trying to get them all in the same place is rather notorious…  but has it really become an effect to be monitored?  Like I said before… it is really surreal to be referred to in adjective form.  I am attempting to take it all in stride, as a sign of affection…  but it is supremely strange.  Now I am oddly cautious to see what other characteristic I have becomes a “thing”, is my traditional “Hey Folks” greeting now going to become canonized as well?

Melusine Down

ffxiv 2015-02-09 21-34-13-41 Last night was of course our regularly scheduled raid night in Final Fantasy XIV.  We unfortunately are starting to have a good problem happen… that quite often on Monday nights we have more than enough people to do our eight man.  As a result since Paragon missed the last one, Cav offered to sit out and with that we zoned into Turn 7 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut.  This was our second week of attempts on this encounter, and last week we managed to figure out most of the bits so it was just down to refinement and polish.  We were teaching Paragon the fight from scratch, but he was a pretty quick study and before long we were back to where we left off last week.  This fight is largely about managing adds, either in the form of the Renauds that need to be frozen with cursed voice or the Lamias that need to be burned down as soon as possible to lower overall raid damage.  On top of all of these things…  there is just a phenomenal amount of damage going out.  There were so many times I was praying for my next cooldown so that I could survive just a little bit longer.

The turning point in our fight was honestly when we wiped because all of the Renaud that were frozen woke up at the same time.  Prior to that the attempt was extremely smooth, and then we watched as the giants ran around wiping the raid.  From that point on we started trying to manage just how many of them we had up at a once, and I started trying to do a better job of centering myself with the wall of them.  These two tweaks lead to me getting frozen significantly less, and the wall of adds being more manageable as a whole.  It was I believe one attempt after we started this strategy that we managed to get her down, and clear Turn 7 of the Binding Coil of Bahamut.  Once again Ashgar remembered to tell folks to pose before we opened the chests, and I am super glad that he did… because this really is the best kill shot yet.  I remembered to be centered in the photo rather than on one of the edges.  We went into Turn 8 shortly after and only stayed long enough to get an idea of how the room works.  Hopefully we can all watch some videos this week and make a good solid attempt next.

I Hate Oregorger

Yesterday I stumbled onto a blog post over on AskMrRobot showing how wipes on Oregorger compare to the raids average ilevel.  I know we are still fairly low ilevel wise as a raid, I personally am only around 660 because we jumped straight from 7/7 normal and 5/7 heroic to doing normal mode Blackrock Foundry.  I am wondering if that is the answer to dealing with the bullshit randomness of his hunger phase is to simply out gear it.  Last Thursday when we were doing attempts on Oregorger we were following the exact pattern that everyone agrees upon is the best way to beat the fight.  In fact multiple times during the night we stopped, rewatched videos to double check that we were not doing anything wrong… and still we kept dying to the damage of the phase.  Either we were not fast enough on killing the crates, or simply lacked the gear to soak the damage.  In any case the charge above would seem to agree that maybe Oregorger is simply a “gearing” thing.  Had we entered Blackrock wearing full heroic gear… maybe it just would not have even been an issue.

In any case my hope is that by some sheer miracle of luck that we can down him because I want so bad to have this fight on farm status.  I feel like both Gruul and the Hans’gar/Franzor encounter are likely on farm status after last week.  I am wondering if there is something else that is low hanging fruit we can pick up while waiting on our gear level to raise before wrecking Oregorger.  From what I understand the other boss we can try is Beastlord Darmac since Blackrock Foundry employs a “wing” strategy to its layout.  Whatever we end up doing, I am looking forward to getting in tonight and smashing more Iron Horde faces.  While much of the shiny of this expansion has faded for me, I am finding that  the raiding is keeping me engaged and interested.  While I may only be logging in to fiddle with my Garrison on nights other than the raid…  I am still very much enjoying each and every boss fight.

Pirate Gruul

Goodbye Monster

monsterpile Yesterday I realized I had a bit of a problem.  For some time I have been an Energy Drink junkie, but things have gotten a bit out of control.  Yesterday morning I drank what I am hoping will be my last monster for awhile.  I realized over the weekend that on some days, especially during the weekend I was drinking four to five of them per day.  It wasn’t because I needed one, or was even tired…  but simply because it was a handy pre-packaged size to carry with me upstairs.  White literally I was drinking energy drinks because I was being too damned lazy to fix anything else for me to drink.  I cleaned up my office a bit this morning, and nestled in amongst my coffee cup are tons of monster cans that were scattered throughout my office.  Granted the “Super Rooster Booster Lite” can is actually my wife’s…  but we won’t worry about that.  Essentially I realized that no good can come of drinking that many energy drinks, so I have by will alone decided to dial back.

This means more than likely over the next couple of days I will be grumpy as shit.  I have been mainlining a lot of caffeine and now I am cutting that consumption WAY back.  Granted I am largely switching back to Coffee, and going to be drinking that at any point I would normally reach for an energy drink.  I think I am going to need a bigger mug.  I noticed this problem during Pax South when my overarching goal each morning was to get to a gas station and purchase an energy drink so I could feel like I was able to start my day.  This ended up with me going to a pretty sketchy gas station to find my morning fix.  We had been buying Monster at Sam’s Club and in truth I was going through a flat of 24 each week.  It is not so much that I am worried about the caffeine… its all the other stuff in monster to make it zero calorie and still effective that concerns me to be honest.  It will take me a bit to adjust but I am hoping I will feel better as a result in the long run.

Pirate Gruul

Wow-64 2015-02-03 19-47-09-07 Last night was the opening of Blackrock Foundry in World of Warcraft, but thankfully unlike the night Highmaul opened… the servers were actually rather playable.  In fact I would say that other than the fact that we were delving into new content… things were exactly like normal.  I had been concerned that some jackass out there would decide to start up yet another DDoS against a game company, but thankfully that was not the case.  Firstly I have to say… Blizzard has found yet more ways to create annoying trash.  From mobs that drop whirling axes, to gorgers that drop acid puddles and come in packs of a dozen or so… the trash is full of new ways to frustrate the raid.  The biggest frustration of the night however was simply getting to the raid.  There are no flight paths really close to it, or at least not nearly as close as you could get in Highmaul.  The best route I was able to come up with was to fly into Everbloom Wilds… and then jump over the mountain to get to Grimrail Depot… and then walk the bridges around the corner to finally get to Blackrock Foundry.  I am one of those players who supports the notion of not having flying mounts…  but crap at least give us decent flight paths to get somewhat close to our destination.  As I was reminded by a friend… the run really is something akin to the bullshit we had to deal with back during the Blackwing Lair and Molten Core days.

Wow-64 2015-02-03 20-23-31-69 The raid is laid out in a hub and spoke design allowing you to reach multiple wings from the entrance area.  We opted to start on the Slagworks wing, which includes alternate universe Gruul, Oregorger and the Blast Furnace encounter.  Alternate reality Gruul is apparently a pirate, because he has a giant hook for an arm this time around.  Those silly Iron Horde and their lopping off appendages to graft impractical metal ones in their places…  one might almost think we are playing Warhammer 40k for a moment… and that the Iron Horde are Chaos Marines.  Gruul was a modified version of his previous self, and thankfully enough of us remembered the way Shatter worked to adequately explain it.  On our second pull we managed to take him down… albeit a bit rougher than any of us would have liked.  I spent a roll token and came up with two items out of the deal…  namely getting the item I needed the most… a new sword, as well as a slight bracer upgrade.  You can see a picture of the rather badass looking sword above… I think I am going to leave it exactly as it is.. without actually transmogging it to anything.

Wow-64 2015-02-03 20-28-18-59 From there we cleared down to Oregorger and spent the rest of the night working on him.  The fight is comprised of two phases.  The first involves melee stacking and avoiding bombs he places, while the range avoid puddles of death.  We managed to get that part of the fight down solidly and could reliably push him into the second phase each attempt.  The problem is that during the second phase utter chaos reigns and we all die slowly, or some of us… not so slowly.  You can somewhat get a grasp of this from the above picture, but Oregorgers room is one big Pacman style maze.  During the second phase he wanders around in search of Ore to gobble up, and in doing so spins down hallways crushing anyone that gets in his path.  I can survive a single one of these rolls…  but there is constant AOE damage going on while doing this.  Our goal as players is to break all of the crates of ore in the room, giving him nothing to gobble up, which ends up transitioning us to the next phase.  The problem is we almost all die during the Pacman phase right now.  We are going to have to sift through the logs and see if there is any sort of pattern to his movement, because right now it seems random.  All in all, one boss down and progress on a second… seems like a successful first night of Blackrock Foundry.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King

image Yesterday was the last day for the Joystiq network, including the two sites I particularly cared about WoW Insider and Massively.  It looks however that someone managed to feign death a hunter…  because moments after the final posts were posted…  someone cast mass resurrection.  Firstly it looks like Joystiq is being gobbled up by Engadget one of the few AOL blogs that did not get the axe, so the name at least will live on as their new gaming section.  I have no idea if this means that any of the Joystiq staff go to keep their jobs or not… but in any case the name still exists in one form or another.  The two sites I do really care about however, are striking out on their own and becoming as someone put it “indie” sites, or actually just multi-author blogs.  Blizzard Watch is the new face of WoW Insider, featuring several of the same crew resurrecting a new twitter, blog and starting a Patreon to fund the site.  At the time of writing this, the Patreon is just shy of $10,000 a month which is pretty insane for less than 24 hours passing since it started.

On the other side Massively has resurrected as Massively OP,  creating the mascot of MO the shield wielding warrior.  While they do not have the blog up and running yet, they do have a placeholder site at massivelyop.com.  You can check out their exploits at the twitter account, facebook account, and even a new twitch stream.  In theory over the next couple of weeks we will see a new website appear that represents the sort of content Massively has always created in the past.  In both cases I wish them all the luck in the world.  The amount of support that the community has shown at the potential loss of these two sites has been pretty phenomenal.  I joked the other day with my “Save Ferris” title, but it seems similar.  Everyone has shifted what they are doing to being concerned about keeping these sites afloat.  My hope is that the supporters will stay supporters six months down the road… and that MMO players won’t be as fickle as they seem to be with the games they choose to play.