Shovels and Shoveltusks

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I declared Thursday and Friday to be part of the weekend last week and decided to take myself four days off from the blog and one week off from the podcast.  I feel super chill going into what is likely going to be an exceedingly stressful week so I think it was probably a good call.  Apart of having to help my folks move some furniture yesterday, I mostly had a pretty chill thanksgiving.  Both Friday and Saturday my wife and I attempted to avoid the world, and the only shopping we really did was online apart from a mad dash out to Target around 9 pm on Friday.  At that point the store was largely sane and wasn’t that much different than a normal trip on any other night.  Throughout all of this I have found myself forsaking my normal checking of Pokemon Go in favor of the relatively newly released Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.  First off I have to admit I have never played an animal crossing game before so I didn’t have much of a cultural frame of reference going into this.  The experience instead reminds me a lot of a mix between the former web based casual MMO Glitch and some flavors of Stardew Valley.  Whatever you end up calling it the game is extremely charming and at this point I am level 16 and have a bunch of the animals at my campsite…  enough that the last three or four gave me a messaging saying there was no room.  Unfortunately I have no clue how you actually determine which ones are at your camp and which ones are not…  but for the moment I am rolling with it.

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I’ve also seemingly hit whatever the friend cap is because when I try and add anyone it says that combined between my friends list and the few outstanding requests I have run out of room.  I have no clue what this cap actually is…  I estimated 200 the other day but I am guessing in truth it is closer to 100.  The game is maybe bad at messaging some things but I am largely limping along without doing much in the way of research.  There is a quarry mini-game that requires you to get help from five of your friends, and I wish they messaged when my friends were needing help a little better.  For example if you look at the middle section of the above screenshot you will see a shovel icon out to the side of Kelsey’s name.  I wish there was a way to sort these to the top of the list because they are really the ones I am most interested in given I like helping other players, because you appear to get some sort of cut of their profits.  After that you attempt to guess which rocks have the most profitable stones…  gold nuggets seem to be the best.  I still very much feel like I don’t fully grasp a lot of things…  like how the hell to make large quantities of Bells that Animal Crossing currency.  Right now I have a 30,000 bells loan with the auto place and have never really gotten close to paying it off.  Thankfully they don’t seem to be sending anyone to break my kneecaps because of it though, and they still allowed me to customize my RV regardless of having the loan out.  I feel like maybe they don’t have the best business model.  Regardless if you have not been playing this you should probably check it out because it definitely seems to be addictive as hell given the wide variety of friends that seem to be playing it on a regular basis.

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I made a bunch of progress in Destiny 2 but I am likely going to wait until tomorrow to talk about that.  Instead I wanted to talk a bit about the other game I played over the break…  World of Warcraft.  I am still working on my tiny Orc Warrior that is getting less and less tiny as each week goes by.  At this point I have completed the Cataclysm content and am on the airship just about to start the invasion of Pandaria.  This is something I have never actually done on the horde side given my last several characters I leveled were abusing the shit out of the pre-legion launch invasions.  I’ve also not spent much time playing through Warlords of Draenor as a Horde character, so that should be interesting as well.  Similarly I have never seen Legion as the Horde…  all things I am interested in experiencing first hand.  The biggest shock for me is just how fast Cataclysm managed to go given that I started in on Vashj’ir Saturday night and dinged level 85 well before finishing the final section of it Sunday evening.  I realize that zone is in theory about the same size as two other zones combined…  but I did not expect to be getting quite that much experience from it.  Granted I am fully geared out in level 100 heirlooms (minus the rings because I don’t have the patience for that nonsense), but did not partake of any of the experience boosting options.  The mission of the day however is to try and figure out how to get a Pandaria flying book…  because I do not want to return to land based leveling if I can help it.

Imaginary Band

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Yesterday a good friend of mine from my Wrath raiding days, showed back up in my life suddenly.  Now this isn’t exactly a strange occurrence because folks know that I tend to be the ring leader of a network of gamers.  I am the one that tends to be good at maintaining connections with folks regardless of what game we happen to be playing.  So an attempt to get in touch with me, generally also means an attempt to get back in touch with a gaming core of friends.  The strange part of this whole experience however is when a few years pass between speaking.  In this case, it seems like every few years our paths cross, the challenge being that large swaths of time pass between and my memory is often times spotty at best.  Thankfully most people are super forgiving about me remembering the super granular details…  and I seem to be relatively good at the large picture as a whole.  The thing with the impending release of Legion next week is that this has been happening an awful lot in my life.  Running around and doing Events, means that I have casually bumped into a lot of folks from my past…  some of which I was interested in rekindling friendship… and others not so much.  We talked about the mixed bag that playing World of Warcraft since launch is on the podcast this weekend.  There are friends that I adored, and would still do damned near anything to help…  and then there were folks who were super toxic influences and lead to a lot of the anxiety ridden struggles I had as a raid leader.  Coming back to this game… and the server I have played on since the beginning of it all…  means I am ultimately going to confront a good deal of both.

I remember thinking yesterday how cool it would be to “get the band back together” because I miss raiding with some of these people.  The key word being “some”, because ultimately I don’t really want the band back together at all.  I want a revised image in my head of the band.  I want this amalgam of a bunch of different raid teams, from a bunch of different eras of the game.  I want to create the “All-Star Team” from my memory, but the thing is…  my All-Star team is not really the best players.  I found out my ideals for who I wanted to play with were vastly different than that of my friends during Cataclysm.  We built what we supposed to be the “best” team to raid with, for 10 man…  but my best was completely different than their best.  Ultimately when creating my team I would want to play with the folks I had the most fun with…  some of them were also the absolute worst at standing in fire.  They were fun to be around and invigorated my enjoyment of the game, and I didn’t give a damn if we had to take forever trying to learn this fight or another because their presence made me happy.  It is moments like these that I realize I play a vastly different game than most people do.  I play a game made up of the people sitting behind the screen at their keyboard, hanging out with me on a nightly basis… and not a game of abilities and number crunching.  At the end of the day for me at least, playing for victories is ultimately a hollow experience unless I did so with the people I enjoy playing with the most.

In a lot of ways this is what makes the Final Fantasy XIV raid group so special is that it is a bit of an amalgam of the two.  These are all people that I greatly enjoy playing with, but at the end of the day are also extremely good at the game.  Hell there are so many nights I feel like I am the “bad” that is being carried to victory.  While I largely said I would swear off raiding in Legion…  there is a big part of me that wishes he could form this same sort of group in World of Warcraft.  I want raiding to be a focus on having fun with friends and doing something together that we can’t necessarily do apart.  By the same token though, I don’t want to be concerned with damage meters, or reviewing the logs after the raid.  I don’t want to care if someone stood in the fire too long… or if we could do something more efficiently.  I want to just have a night hanging out with friends, talking on voice chat and killing bosses…  hopefully getting some sweet loot in the process.  The problem being that I don’t think World of Warcraft is that game, or at least its raid game… isn’t that game.  Final Fantasy XIV I can go into a fight not knowing anything about it… and learn everything I know from a series of attempts because it messages the mechanics extremely well.  World of Warcraft, I realistically need to read the dungeon guide and some third party sites to fully understand the mechanics of the fight and what I am supposed to be doing to counter them.  That is a huge difference, because one I can discover the fight with friends… and the other feels like homework.

Legion launches next week and I really don’t know what it has planned for me yet.  I am enjoying the game, and I am enjoying making my own way through it.  I am not sure if raiding will be part of that greater picture, but in the end I am going to try going with the flow.  So many times I have had a raid that I knew I was gearing for, when an expansion launched.  As a result I felt like I needed to push through the content to get raid ready within a weeks time.  This time around…  I am more focused on which character I am going to level first and which zone I am going to start in.  I have never gone into an expansion before with a complete set of characters, and ultimately liking something about each and every one of them.  If enough of these old familiar faces stick around… then I think I might want to try my hand at raiding again.  I am not super concerned with doing much more than 10 player/flex raiding if I do however.  Another thing that I would really like to do is set up a night to work on older raid achievements and get folks some awesome mounts.  I know there are several tiers where I am one or two achievements away from my own mounts.  The problem being that there just are not enough nights in the week to try and schedule things on, and continue to play other games.  Whatever the case I am trying my best to go into the Legion expansion with an open mind, and not really focused too tightly on what I am going to do… and when I am going to do it.  This is undiscovered territory for me, and it is going to be interesting to see what comes of it.

 

Game Changer

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In Another Castle

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Last night was my raid night in Final Fantasy XIV, but before hand my key focus was trying to get my Mage to 100.  I am not exactly sure what has lit a fire under me, but I am on this mission to have at least one server full with level 100 characters.  As you can see in the above image, I am actually extremely close to getting there.  Now granted I have the OTHER side of my linked server to start working on…  but Belgaoh my Monk remains the only sub-100 character I have on Argent Dawn.  The only problem there is he is SIGNIFICANTLY behind the curve sitting at only level 53 right now.  I keep thinking that if I can get on at the right time, and have at least one easy to get to invasion event I will be able to push him through to 60 so that he can fly, which is going to be the key to getting more events on him.  As of yesterday I thought I was nearing the end of the gear grind and even created a spreadsheet as an attempt to track progress in outfitting my characters in level 700 gear.  The take away from that process seemed like I was going to spend the next several days working on my leather wearers to catch them up in progression.

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Then this happened.  I opened I believe 34 chests that I had gathered up on the mage in leveling from 90 to 100, and out of those chests seven different items came up as warforged.  Apparently yesterday during the day at some point they patched in the ability for chests to spawn warforged gear, meaning that all of those characters I thought I had finished with really have only scratched the surface.  I still think however my core mission is to get all of my characters outfitted in at least 700 gear, and if some of them get more trips to the candy shop in the hopes of finding warforged… then that is fine too.  Ultimately I realize that all of this gear is going to be replaced within the first few minutes of questing in the Broken Isles.  However for the time being I think this is probably a brilliant idea.  The longer they can keep players actively participating in this event the better, because for the time being it is an amazing source of leveling and gear for everyone involved.  I somehow doubt I will be able to get my monk all of the way to 100 in the short time available without focusing ENTIRELY on the monk, but I am definitely going to ride the elevator for as long as I can.

End of Expansion

One of the things I am realizing is that I apparently love the end of expansions.  Cataclysm was the expansion that broke me and my desire to be playing World of Warcraft, causing me to fade away and go play other games.  However I remember clearly that towards the end of the expansion I came back and really enjoyed myself.  There was so much to be doing, and everyone had a great casual attitude about it all.  For me personally I knew that nothing I was doing really mattered in the grand scheme of things, because as soon as Pandaria was released every last piece of gear I gathered would be replaced with greens.  So in this low pressure environment I allowed myself to piddle around without purpose and had a complete blast.  Similarly I remember coming back at the end of Pandaria and having the same fun experience, running around aimlessly on the timeless isle and doing all the little things that were fun but served no major purpose.  Here I find myself once again in a similar pattern with Draenor, and I feel completely in my zone.  The problem is that I wish I knew how to bottle this feeling and keep it alive during the rest of the expansion.

I am not sure how to take the joy that I feel at the end of an expansion when I am unfettered by expectations and pressures…. and keep that alive during the rest of the game.  There is a switch that flips in my brain when an expansion launches that says “okay Bel, you need to be useful… go grind your face off”.  I wish I knew how to turn that switch off completely because I think that is the thing that keeps getting in my way when it comes to enjoying an MMO for the long haul.  I essentially burn myself out, over and over… game after game… by focusing on some lofty goal that I cannot accomplish without significant help from others.  I end up ignoring the goals that are entirely up to me to complete, and those are probably the things that I technically enjoy more.  I have had a blast alting my way to 100 over the last few weeks and bringing my own personal army up to snuff.  As I look towards Legion, and Starfall Prophecy and whatever the Final Fantasy XIV expansion ends up being… I need to figure out how to keep this magic from the end of an expansion alive every single day I play the game.

 

Goodbye Cataclysm

Feeling Human

This morning is the first day in a long while that I have felt pretty decent.  I went to bed around 9:30, but had to get right back up shortly after and deal with one of our ferrets.  Our “old man” had made a horrendous mess of himself and as a result we decided there was more there than could be cleaned up with wet wipes.  As a result we gave him an impromptu bath and then made sure to get some nutrients down him.  We really need to talk to the vet about him, because at this point I am not really sure how good of quality of life he is really having.  One of his two back legs just simply doesn’t work right most of the time.  He will be just fine one moment, and then the next he will be tripping all over himself.  Which is something we went through with his brother bandit when he got insulinoma… for which there really is no course of treatment in a ferret that old.

Even with the last minute excitement last night, I did still manage to make it to bed before 10 and slept through the entire night.  I woke up a few minutes before the alarm was set to go off this morning, so I got a wee bit of a head start on the day.  Right now I am feeling rather chipper, but I am sure that will be quelled as I actually get to work and see whatever stacked up yesterday while I was gone.  I am looking forward to feeling human again, so here is hoping it lasts.  Since I’ve gone over 48 hours without developing a fever, I am assuming that I am not contagious.  My wife went to work yesterday and came home completely drained, so I am figuring that will also be the case for me.  As a result I really don’t have much plans for doing anything when I get home but crashing.

Goodbye Cataclysm

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I really did not do much of any consequence last night.  It came time for our Monday night flex raid and I just was not capable of concentrating.  Instead I continued to piddle around on Belglorian my Discipline Priest.  I have decided that the thing I enjoy about Discipline is that they are kind of the “tanks” of cloth wearers.  So long as I keep my shield up on myself, I can survive damned near anything and eventually win the fight…. albeit extremely slowly.  The thing I did not realize however was just how much splash healing I was throwing around.  One of the early Pandaria quests involves reviving a bunch of pilots that crashed landed in amongst a bunch of orcs.  As I was working on killing the orcs I kept noticing that I was getting credit for reviving pilots.

I thought that maybe the quest was bugged and I was getting credit for another player reviving them in the vicinity.  As I got closer to one and started nuking away with smite I noticed that I kept healing the NPCs.  I am sure this will sound insane to most people but you have to understand… my priest was my free level 80 character I made when I accepted a scroll of resurrection.  I am the future of our game… a high level player with no real clues about how the class works.  Initially I had planned on leveling as shadow, but when a friend told me about the sheer survive of Discipline I made the switch without much effort put into researching the spec.  It was one of those things that just worked, and the gameplay seemed extremely simple.

The problem with being handed all of these tools is I have no clue what half of them do, especially the passives.  Sure I see pretty little icons proc at the top of my screen but I am far too busy killing things to actually hover over them and see what just happened.  Now I had the common sense to at least research spell rotation and things like that before sitting down and building my hotbars, you can guarantee that not every instant 90 will do the same.  Anyways enough of that old soap box, but I am the prime example of what happens when you hand someone a nearly fully leveled character.

Imperial Silk

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I will admit that I had no real plans to ever level a priest, and since I got a free level 80… I decided to make it a priest since that was the least likely for me to ever level.  One of the gaps that I decided to fill with this instant 80… was a Tailor.  So for while some time I was a level 80 priest sitting in Stormwind with capped out tailoring, and no real way to make the ever so spiffy imperial silk.  Sure I could have had someone summon me over to the Silken Fields, but that just seemed too cheesy even for me.  As a result I decided to level the priest so I could legitimately start making bags for my army of alts.  Funny thing is that somewhere along the way I actually started enjoying playing the class…  even though I am probably playing it wrong.  I like smiting things down while laughing off the damage I am taking with my shields.

Speaking of army of alts… I have to say having one of every crafting profession comes in really damned handy.  The moment I dinged 85… I went through a flurry of activity logging in and out various characters.  When I finished I had a complete set of Pandaria level armor, a new staff, and a new cloak… and as soon as I get to 87 I will make a new trinket.  I’ve decided to level up alchemy on this guy as well, so at some point I will feed him a bunch of herbs which should allow him to equip the alchemy trinket as well.  Mostly I am doing this so that I can have an elixir master as well as my transmute master.  I technically have a third alchemist, but I am not sure if it is worth having a potion master as well.  The only thing I can see myself making a lot of that might be worth it is Luck Potions.  Depending on how I feel tonight, I might farm up materials for a push through alchemy at all levels.

Mecha Belgrave

Mecha Belgrave

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One of my big goals over the last few days was to get both Tallow and Belgrave through all four parts of Siege of Orgrimmar LFR.  Both of them could use gear out of there, and instead of piece-meal like before, I wanted to clear all of the bosses during this reset.  The other day I talked about how much success I had with Tallow in that he got both a mainhand and offhand weapon and two pieces of tier 16.  Yesterday I may have just blown that completely out of the water.  Previously on Belgrave I had gotten a shoulder drop, but was not using them as I had slightly better shoulders from flex.  Christmas day when I got home that evening, I popped into LFR and it inspired yesterdays topic on a social justice system.

However even though it had some frustration I managed to get Garrosh to drop two of the tokens that could be turned into any set piece.  I used those to give myself the tier 16 chest and legs, and then yesterday Nazgrim graced me with dropping the gloves token.  Just like that over the course of two days my Deathknight is wearing nearly a full set of tier 16.  I already had a helmet with the same graphic so for all intents and purposes I have a complete visual set.  I am really not sure what I think about the set, because honestly it feels a little out of place for being a Deathknight set.  Where are all the skulls?

Instead of being straight out of a deathmetal video…  I guess I am fresh from some manga?  I need to find a similarly mecha inspired two hander to go with it.  Thinking about maybe one of the ones from Ulduar… like Abaddon from Yogg Saron.  I am sure if I try hard enough I can find something suiting the look and feel of it.  Maybe it is just that it looks goofy on a worgen.  I remember seeing this in most of Qelric’s videos, and on her character it does not look half bad at all.  I feel that is the problem with most bestial races… the armor either looks really amazing or really awful.

Graduating the Cataclysm

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After finishing my tour of Siege of Orgrimmar for the week, I hopped over on Gloam and started working on him again.  I guess in a way for the good of the various raids I have been participating in… I felt like I needed to try and gear both Belgrave and Tallow.  In both cases I did very much so, and I figured I could take a break from LFR to work on my little rogue.  I managed to push him last night from 83 to 85 and finish off his Cataclysm era Alchemy.  I figure at some point soon I will farm up mass amounts of Pandaria materials and push him up in level to 600, but for now I am working on the leveling portion.  I would really like to find a pair of Fists of Fate to level him to 90 with, however there have been absolutely none of the auction house of late.  These carried my enhancement shaman all the way to 90, and I was still using them when I got my first epic weapon drop.

Instead in the mean time I guess I will make a pair of Ghost-Forged blades, which are not nearly as nice but should give me a decent boost through the Pandaria content.  The only problem is each takes 2 Spirits of Harmony, which are bind on pickup.  This means I will be out farming something that gives Black Prince reputation trying to collect four of them on my Paladin.  For whatever reason the characters that need them, cannot get them to drop… whereas the characters that have literally NO use for them like my Inscriptionist has 200.  This gives me a good excuse to get him to honored with the Black Prince, which is a normally tedious task.  I did however make a complete set of leather gear on my leatherworker so as soon as the blades are acquired I can begin my push to 90.

Onwards to Joplin

Needing to wrap up quickly this morning as we have a bunch of running around to do.  We are going to be running up to Joplin for a bit to check things out there.  I didn’t figure I would get time to do a blog post, but after showering and getting ready I decided to try and rush one through.  I had no clue what time we would be getting home, and after a day of running around the last thing I want to be is creative.  Hopefully you all had a great Christmas, and hopefully the loot gods have been smiling on you as well.

Quintessential Quintet

Farewell to Arts

 

I did another really quick video yesterday since we are supposed to have an impending server reset.  In the holiday weekend since the last restart folks have filled the server with all sorts of nifty stuff.  So I thought I would do a really quick video showcasing some of the cooler things.  The highlight for me is the alligator.  I am wondering who built it, because seriously it was perfect.  The server has essentially exploded with pixel art everywhere, some of it seeming to be freehand which is pretty amazing.  While this is all interesting I am hoping soon we get a bit more substance.

It was rumored that we would be seeing a new patch today or tomorrow and in it I am really hoping they introduce two things.  Firstly I want to see the crafting system and all the nifty things it can produce.  This is likely going to be a massive thing because this also means they will likely change they way the blocks work so that we actually harvest them instead of just destroying them.  Currently the game works a lot like Minecraft creative mode, where you have pretty much unlimited resources to place at your disposal.  While this is cool for free range building, the game however right now is lacking a “game”.  Wandering around and exploring, engaging in combat is fun but I feel like we need something to give us a sense of purpose.

The second thing I want badly is the cornerstone concept, aka your plot of lands that persists to each server you play on, and that no one else can disrupt.  Part of why I have not built much of anything yet is the fact that we still have way too many mad bombers on the server all to willing to destroy your hard work.  In fact I railed on Shawn Shuster of Massively a bit in the video as in his walkthrough that was posted yesterday… he was all too happy to blow up other peoples creations. 

There have already been some pretty epic works of art destroyed by some idiot who would not suppress their inner poo flinging monkey long enough to appreciate what had been created.  While I realize this is a side effect of having a game with no rules yet, it still depresses me to see the world as Swiss cheese.  I am sure once the new patch has gone life I will do another quick video showing off what it added.  So stay tuned to my channel and I will post something up there as soon as it is available.

Quintessential Quintet

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Also last night I managed to push my paladin Exeter to 90 and with it came an achievement that I was not expecting.  Apparently Quintessential Quintet is a thing?  I cut an odd path on this one, by the time I left Jade Forest I was already 87 thanks to all the mining nodes.  From there I made a beeline for Kun Lai, and critpathed my way through the zone until I reached the quest chain that lead to Townlong.  Similarly in Townlong I quested my way through the Shadopan chain until I reached the jumping point for Dread Wastes.  All of which was to set myself up perfectly to be able to start working on Klaxxi quests as quickly as possible.

Why you might ask?  This is my blacksmith, and all the nifty things you can create seem to be on the Klaxxi vendor.  Namely I wanted to be able to start creating masterwork weapons for all my other characters as I get them to 90.  That seems to be the big weakness as it comes to the Timeless Isle content.  You can gear your alts up with 496 extremely rapidly, but you have a few glaring holes…  namely your weapons.  Also I seem to have a much harder time getting Curios for trinkets, and the neck/ring slots to drop on the Timeless Isle.  So as a result I have ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to remediate their gear just so I can be able to queue for something.

Timeless Isle is nifty, but I really miss the equivalent of the Icecrown 5 mans.  I wish there were heroics that I could run that actually provided something viable for filling out a set of gear.  I feel as though they should really have put in a new 5 man that dropped 496 weapons to go with all the gear they are handing out like candy.  Even with epics…  a crappy weapon is still a crappy weapon.  Right now my paladin for example is using the treasures of pandaria BOA one handed sword that you find on the ground.  Which is better than anything he has gotten yet, but at least being able to create the masterwork hammer will be something slightly better.  I think those are 463 ilvl which is essentially what the heroic gear is.

What Next?

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I have to say getting Exeter to 90 was a pretty cool thing.  He technically was the very first character I created, and my intended main.  For years my internet handle was “Exeter” and quite honestly “Belghast” was my main over in DAoC, and it was not until late in Vanilla that I started to play that character as a main.  All the while through vanilla my main was Lodin the hunter, and it was an almost accidental occurrence.  I had a death in the family that pulled me away from Warcraft a few weeks after the release of the game.  As a result I got rapidly outpaced by the rest of the guild, and back then soloing a Paladin was a truly painful experience.

Hunters were the gods of soloing, so I started leveling Lodin just to be able to keep up with my friends.  Within a very short amount of time I had caught up, and when we hit 60… I got drafted into the raid group of a guild member as they wanted to replace a troublesome hunter.  I had no intent to actually play a hunter as my main, and in truth I am not terribly suited for the class… but I did for almost all of Vanilla because it was my “Raid main”.  Once you start playing a character in a raid group you are pretty much committed to always play that character until they no longer need it.  The positive effect however is that I met so many life long friends through raiding, and that the Late Night Raiders hunters were all such amazing people.

As soon as Burning Crusade was released, I saw this as my opportunity to leapfrog Lodin in gear and start playing Belghast as my main.  That is the awesome thing about expansions, the gear reset lets you change your focus.  From that point until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King, I was a warrior main tank.  It was not until I needed a break from the hot seat that I switched focus to the Deathknight and fell in love with it.  All of this time I felt horrible for leaving Lodin abandoned in the dustbin.  It was not until Cataclysm that I actually managed to level him out of the outlands.  During one of my last sessions playing I pushed him up to Pandaria levels, so I feel as though it is probably his time to shine again.  I pretty much permanently run around in Giantstalker transmog in honor of the fun times I had with him raiding during those early days of Vanilla WoW.