Curve Beating

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I can in all honesty say I did not really expect to be placing this clipping of a screenshot on my blog.  When we cleared Normal Emerald Nightmare… I was pleased as hell.  When we turned around and cleared Normal Trial of Valor…  I was ecstatic.  When we started work on Heroic Emerald Nightmare…  I figured that it would give us a challenge right up until the point that Nighthold Normal was released and that we would ultimately switch gears.  I mean Nighthold is supposedly slotted for January 17th… which is only 26 days away depending on how you count today.  We however started making some significant progress in Heroic Emerald Nightmare… and in truth I didn’t really dare to hope we would manage to get through it yet.  We have several friends who are raiding mythics in a much more serious capacity than our guild raid.  The awesome thing is… we are apparently the sort of raid that they still enjoy coming along on because of the interaction between all of the members.  So in part I chocked our Heroic victories up to the number of “ringer” dps we ended up bringing in as a result.  Last night we were extremely short on numbers and missing most of this overpowered dps that we had so often been bringing.  I had resigned myself to hopefully repeating our previous progress, and just enjoying the process.

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Now is the point where I tell you… that I can not possibly be prouder of my guild.  Instead of struggling with the absence of some mythic ringers…  we instead continued to perform at an admirable level as we not only defeated…  but one shot several of the bosses we have never attempted.  We had some early struggles as we essentially got back in the swing of the raid…  for me not being able to make the last two Friday nights I felt more than a little rusty.  However by the time we reached “Spiderbirb” we were trucking along nicely and managed the first new one shot of the evening.  Similarly we seemingly rolled over Ilgynoth… or at least pulled out a victory doing the fight in a single burn phase.  From there we worked on Cenarius and once again managed to pull out a victory in a single attempt, which lead us to only having Xavius to work on.  This was sitting at 9 pm my time… and I thought to myself that we were in a good position to get a bunch of attempts in… giving us at least 30 minutes before the official end of the raid.  I also thought that with it being the holidays… we might be able to extend a bit to get the kill if needed.  It turns out we didn’t need all of that time on attempts, because we had a very close first shot and managed to pull out the victory on attempt two giving us still about fifteen minutes to spare before our official ending time.  It was a really great night, and I am amped about our prospects going into Nighthold.  We will for the first time this expansion be starting new content on exactly the week it comes out, which is a bit of a point of pride for me.  I love feeling like we can be casual, but still extremely successful.

By the time the raid was over I realized that I had not actually spent any time with the Luna that evening.  So I took her into my office to chill out and get some attention while I opted to play some Destiny.  At this point I am 399 light… and have limited my list of needs down to replacing my 394 Ghost Shell, 399 boots, and 399 Heavy Weapon.  I had a moment of extreme excitement at one point in the evening when I got an exotic heavy engram…  which decoded at 399 instead of the 400 I have been getting from the SRL event.  Before long I was joined by my friend Grace and we hung out doing some racing.  She was working on one of the quest steps where you had to get ten races where you place in the top three… and I maybe just maybe played a little aggressively with the other drivers.  There was at least one time when I happened to ram into the person who was closing in on her then third place slot.  Who knew you could tank with a speeder bike?  In truth I had seen a few clans doing this over my time racing… where they were essentially clearing the way for their friend to come in and snatch the first place position so I considered it completely fair game.  That said she managed to pull out a few come from behind second place victories like the one I decided to screenshot here.  The bonus of the entire night was that in both cases we improved our light levels… and simply hanging out and chatting made the whole racing thing go significantly faster.

I have honestly had some extremely good luck during the SRL with crucible weapon drops.  Last night was apparently no different as I managed to pick up a really nice version of the NL Shadow 701X.  Firstly it has triple tap which is a stat I love for boss encounters… or anything else I am pretty certain to land three precision shots in rapid succession.  To crank up the stability is Hand-laid stock… which ultimately reduces the range but I can live with that at 47.  Finally hidden hand helps with triple tap in making it slightly easier to get those precision shots…  so all in all the weapon has some really nice synergy.  The only negative is this is a scout rifle… and I don’t really tend to use a lot of scout rifles.  This lives in the Mida Multi-Tool family, and actually has a higher rate of fire…  which makes it feel extremely spammy.  Now if I could have replaced Hidden Hand with Full Auto… this would have been just about my favorite scout rifle.  In any case this is definitely something worth holding onto and other than my Hand of Judgement from Challenge of Elders… I didn’t really have that many legendary scout rifles that I enjoyed using.  In any case that still gives me a good roll for Eyasluna, and god rolls for Hopscotch Pilgrim and potentially NL Shadow 701X coming from SRL so far.

Helya Defeated

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In the past I have talked about our youngest cat Kenzie and her proclivity for playing fetch with rubber bands.  Well the game has changed… and it has shifted from being one of those “once in awhile” things to an all the time thing.  We will often times wake up with a rubber band beside us in bed and her expectantly prancing back and forth next to it waiting for us to throw it.  This morning for example as I got up, showered, and got dressed I threw the rubber band a couple dozen times.  Sometimes she would shift things up and bring the rubber band back to my wife instead of me… but nonetheless it was certainly clear that it was fetch time.  I am wondering however if I can also change the game… and teach her how to fetch things like balls.  The first cat that would play fetch that I had ever seen was Dee Dee the now fat and sassy cat that a neighbor of ours has.  She however tended to favor these foam balls that you could get from PetSmart.  We tried this with several of our cats but it never really took…  however now that the fetching behavior has firmly planted itself in Kenzie I am wondering if we can also teach her to fetch balls.

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We had a pretty great raid night as far as raid nights go.  Some time ago we shifted into having a progression night which is Wednesday and a farm night which is Friday.  On the farm night we attempt to clear Emerald Nightmare normal as fast as we can, and on the progression night we have been working on Trial of Valor with the initial hopes of being able to clear it in time for the launch of Nighthold.  However with the 7.1.5 patch being pushed back… it seems like we have all the time in the world for that goal.  Last week we managed to get our first Guarm kill and we were able to repeat that feat this week…  however it took a few tries.  The part I am proudest of however is the fact that we managed to defeat Odyn this week as a one shot, which given how many moving parts there are on that fight….  I am pleased and amazed and even phase three felt pretty solid.  I think folks finally started dropping things where they should be dropped which allowed the tanks a lot more flexibility of placing Odyn where he needs to be during that final burn.  As far as Helya goes… it still feels like a mess but the attempt where we managed to push her into phase 3 with most of the raid up… we also managed to kill her.  I was recording last night while we raided so was able to pull screenshots of the exact moment she went down and in truth… the raid as a whole was still in a pretty decent position.

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Since we still had a lot of night left to go we went over into the Emerald Nightmare and started working on heroic bosses.  Previously we had made a few attempts on Nythendra and more or less had the correct positioning and such down.  We lost a handful of people between the zone switch because they needed to go for early work and such, and we adjusted a little bit.  The shocking thing is… in theory we made a one shot as we were sorta in a slow wiping state when the boss finally went down.  As you can see in the screen shot my entire team was dead, and I had just literally blown up from the rot debuff when the boss went down.  It was messy… but I will take it because she dropped the best possible loot.  She dropped me an exact upgrade, stat for stat… simply the heroic version of the Insect-Etched Chestplate that I was already wearing.  From the previous encounters of the night I got a few pieces of loot… that I am unfortunately going to have to do some simulation to determine if they are truly upgrades or not.

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There was a bit of back and forth to determine what exactly was our next encounter to attempt.  Some folks were leaning towards Ursoc, but even on normal that is a healing battle to try and keep the tanks alive.  Emerald Dragons however seemed to be a little more attempt-able for the next step… and did not actually introduce any new mechanics.  So we set forth to take down the dragons that used to give us nature resist gear back in the day.  All in all it went pretty smoothly with the first pull almost netting us a kill.  We reached a point where normally we thought we could simply burn them down without doing a tank swap… and because we didn’t swap it stunned the entire raid.  Still kicking myself a little bit about that judgement call, because while I asked the raid…  it was ultimately myself and Art that decided not to swap.  We did however come back and get the kill almost immediately after.  There was a vote to see if we wanted to keep moving… but we were already sitting at our normal raid end time and considering that I didn’t get much sleep last night I voted against it.  I like the way our raid does this thing…  in that if we want to extend and make attempts on a boss after our normal raid end… we simply throw up a readycheck and if anyone… or at least a significant unrecoverable portion says no we stop.  I have to say this whole recording thing is handy as hell because it was super easy for me to pull screenshots of the moment of death this morning.

Weekend Hibernation

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It was a truly bizarre weekend for a whole lot of reasons.  Primarily because whatever illness my wife had seemed to strike with a vengeance during the tail end of last week.  As I said before I was originally planning on going to RiffTrax with work friends on Thursday night but by the time I left work I realized there was no way I could make it through an entire evening.  Instead I begged off and went home and crashed on the sofa in my fuzzy blanket cocoon.  By the time Friday came around I was really doing considerably worse and took a sick day…  which in turn screwed up  our evening plans.  We were originally slotted to do this monthly family dinner thing, but we rescheduled it for next weekend because I was not sure how well I would be to drive.  Instead I returned to the blanket cocoon once more and was as a result available for our normal Friday night Emerald Nightmare clear run.  I wound up tanking it, with the stipulation being that I was not going to talk at all.  In fact to  prevent myself from doing this I muted my microphone…. which lead to a weird run since I am fairly vocal as we make it through the content.  To make it even more odd, we were without the OTHER vocal leader Kylana which meant a whole slew of people had to step up to the plate and help make sure the run went smoothly.  So seriously huge thanks to Mort, Phy, Beist, Bledd, and I am sure a whole slew of other people who also were chatty and helpful but I am not remembering at this very moment.  It was once again a super clean run, and in the end I wound up swapping off for Erry for the final encounter since it generally requires a bit more vocal tank coordination.

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Past that night I spent a lot of time piddling around in stuff by myself.  Namely this meant an awful lot of Final Fantasy XV, and I think maybe just maybe I am finally to the point where I am willing to move on past “world 1”.  As I said before there is a point where the game warns you that if you continue on you might not be able to return for awhile.  I took this warning to heart given that I just came from playing Final Fantasy XIV where this sometimes means that a two and a half hour long cut scene is about to happen.  Instead over the weekend I found out from some of the other folks playing it that at least in this case… the game is talking about a ten minute process and not a thirty hour long one.  In past games these warnings often times meant that you would not be able to return until you found the airship, and I am pleased to find out that this is not the case.  At this point though I am running out of things I can actually do in the starter world, and all of the hunts are of a significant level difference from my current level so I think the game is not so subtly telling me to move the hell on.

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Another thing that took up some time this weekend is that I tore down a chunk of my office and set up my new Xbox One.  For awhile now I have been interested in owning an Xbox One to be able to play the titles that don’t exist on the PS4.  Similarly there is an entire group of friends that I have that are on the Xbox path, and I have not been able to play with them.  Unfortunately there were really no titles that supported Xbox 360 crossplay with Xbox One, so as each of them has upgraded…  my options similarly narrowed.  While I have had this latent desire… I also just could not justify the street price for the console given that I am primarily a PC gamer first… and a Console gamer second.  However on Black Friday I actually partook of a deal on Dell.com for an Xbox One, Extra Controller, Headset, and Five Games:  Halo 5 Limited Edition, Farcry 4, Ryze Legendary Edition, Sunset Overdrive, and Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes all for right at $200.  For this I was willing to jump on it and the box arrived at my house Saturday during the day… and I wound up setting it up after editing the podcast on Sunday morning.  There was another deal on Cyber Monday to pick up a copy of the Destiny Collection for the Xbox One for I believe $25 and I jumped on that too, so while I was installing other things…  I ported over my Xbox 360 copy of Destiny.  Firstly since I am largely a digital only gamer on PS4… I did not realize the whole download after installation was as much of a tedious chore as it actually was.  Halo 5 took a good three hours worth of download time, which I found insane and shocking.  Is this what disc copy gamers on the PS4 have to deal with as well? or is this largely just an Xbox One thing?  In any case… I was kinda happy to see that my PS4 clan tag ported over to the Xbox One, and while I will still primarily be playing Destiny on PS4, I want to level something to hang with my friends playing on the Xbone.

I’ve decided to start linking the podcast on Monday mornings in what generally ends up being a weekend rundown post.  Not that I think there is anyone who doesn’t have access to it… but just in case the youtube version embeds nicely.  The other big take away from the weekend was all of the food that we cooked.  We wound up having a weekend full of comfort food, cooked in the crock pot.  So Friday night before going to bed I threw our breakfast casserole on to cook so that when we woke up Saturday morning it was ready.  This dish consists of egg, cheese, potato, ham and sausage and it amazing.  We wound up eating on it for breakfast and lunch on Sunday as well…  and still have a bunch left over.  My wife had the bright idea to turn it into a breakfast burrito with a little salsa.  We also cooked our Chicken and Cheese Tortilla soup, which we only got two meals out of…  well and an extra helping or two.  Finally on Sunday we tried out this Orange Chicken thing…  that is close but not quite there.  It was good enough but it needs something to make it work properly…  and I think I screwed it up by putting the rice directly in the sauce and letting it cook.  I should have simply made a couple cups of rice and then ladled the sauce over it instead.  In any case…  my wife and I are both largely on the mend but we pretty much spent the entire weekend hibernating.  We started taking some OTC meds when it initially hit and I think it helped out quite a bit.

A Good Weekend

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

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

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

Rainbow Tentacles

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

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

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

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

Dream Cleansed

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Last night was madness… but in a mostly good way.  Firstly it started on a bizarre note because I had not been reading the raid slack during the evening, and had not quite grasped that it was up to me to pull things together.  I was busying myself with trying to get shit ready for the raid, and was fishing up some mackerel to make the high end versatility food.  During this time folks kept asking me if I was running the show that night, and each time I answered “Sure if Ky doesn’t show up”, never fully grasping that in fact that was what was happening.  I remembered Ky saying something about not being there, but for whatever reason I had that linked in my head with the “people attending blizzcon” list, so that when he said he was not in fact at BlizzCon I just sorta deleted that tidbit of information from my brain.  As a result what ended up happening was me realizing five minutes before the start time of the raid that I probably should have sent out invites fifteen minutes before hand.  There was a last minute flurry of activity, getting people invited and summoned and this also caused me to feel like I really needed to pull faster than normal.  Apologies to the healer team for putting up with my shit.

In truth a huge thank you to the entire raid for dealing with my shit.  It has been years since I have attempted to lead anything larger than a five player group.  Even then I am not entirely certain I am completely qualified to be responsible for the lives of others.  The truth is I was a little concerned that we were down both Zea and Kylana who traditionally are locked in an eternal struggle for first and second place on the dps meters.  However in the past week it seems like that quite literally everyone has improved their gear a bit, and the result felt like we possibly cleared trash faster than we have ever done.  Similarly a lot of the boss fights felt really solid, namely Il’gynoth that felt like our smoothest kill yet with no last minute panic or the feeling of it being an extended wipe race to the finish line.  The only negative of the night was that we struggled a bit on Spiderbirb, but I think most of that was simply bad luck.  It was about then that our flasks were wearing off so we took a break and came back refocused, and wrecked it on the next pull.

The real highlight of the night however is that we finally downed Xavius.  Honestly the timing of this could not have been more perfect, because after we had made a few attempts and were regrouping we saw that Zea popped into game.  So we ninja invited him… and he opted to bring a friend of his along as well.  Then when we went out to summon that friend…  Kylana popped online, who we also ninja invited.  So when we managed to get the kill we had our entire raid team, which makes it feel all the more awesome as a result.  Sure I realize this is “only normal” but screw it I am happy as hell and I will fite you if you poop on this moment!  The fight felt like madness from a tanking perspective, but it is amazing how much confidence comes from having downed and encounter the first time.  I know without doubt that we will come back next week and wreck him all the harder.  At some point I am certain we will start dipping our toes into some of the heroic versions of these fights as well.  We essentially have one more Cenarius kill from being able to skip directly to Xavius, so at a minimum we can start working on heroic while still clearing the final boss.  It was a good night.

 

Two More Fall

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Last night was a pretty great night.  For the last several weeks since Emerald Nightmare released, Wednesday nights have been raid night.  At this very moment we are just raiding one night a week, and at first that probably held us back a little.  However given the last two weeks I think overall gearing was a bigger issue.  Last week we went from only being able to take down Nythendra to adding Elerethe Renferal, Ursoc, and the Dragons of Nightmare to the list.  Though admittedly both the Ursoc and Dragons kill felt like sheer dumb luck and bursty dps.  This week however we largely added to the mix what felt like repeatable versions of those kills.  Myself and Art the other tank finally sorted out something resembling a workable taunt rotation on Ursoc, and the fight went from being insanely spikey…. to pretty damned easy.  Similarly with Dragons of Nightmare we just straight up did the fight like we knew what was happening this time… and it went down in a single attempt.  Elerethe would have been a one shot were it not for both of us tanks getting knocked off the platform.  That was not my proudest moment.

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However I am in fact super proud that we managed to get things together for Il’gynoth and added our very first kill this week.  Overall it felt like our dps increased between the two weeks, and with it a better sense of what needed to die when.  Instead of leaving the Horror up for quite a while we had nice gaps to burn it in… and while we cut it a little close for comfort at around the 10 seconds until wipe mark, it was still a victory.  From there we decided to take a stab at Cenarius and actually extended past our normal run time because we made decent progress on the fight.  It still feels like there are a lot of levers we could and should tweak to make sure that fight is more repeatable, however we got the kill and hopefully will begin work on Xavius next week.  I realize this is “just normal” as the chorus of the more serious raiders might say… but screw it I am happy with our progress.  I feel like we are even probably going to start mixing in some heroics before too much longer.  Especially with the release of Karazhan on the 25th and it adding some additional gearing options for folks.  I am hoping to get a team going there pretty quickly, because I am more excited about that place than pretty much any content in any MMO.  I loved the original Karazhan and good or bad, ran it quite literally every Sunday afternoon for what felt like two years to help gear folks and their alts, only to later be replaced by Zul’Aman runs.  I think more than anything… most of us are simply going to be happy that before long we can complete the balance of power quest step and move on to the next batch of mythics.

Three Bosses Down

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Last night was an interesting night raid wise.  It seems like we reached some critical mass of gear to make the content largely doable.  Either that or we simply spent too much time fighting with the harder encounters first.  We’ve been able to down the first boss of Emerald Nightmare since our very first hastily thrown together raid on that Friday of the first week it was open.  However for the last several weeks we have had a slightly shifting raid composition as folks filtered in and out of the group, including several different tank and healer teams.  Last night however felt like things have started to solidify, and it really feels like a fairly solid team.  The biggest problem that has been facing us was the shifting from boss to boss trying to find the next one that worked for us.  On our first outing we gave Spiderbird a shot, and decided that maybe that fight had too many moving parts.  Then for whatever reason… we collectively decided that Il’gynoth was the next best target.  After a few weeks of wiping to the eyeball, we decided to shift focus back to Spiderbird at the tail end of last weeks raid and then were shocked we managed to get it easily to the 30% range before shit fell apart.  So this week we came back and focused on this boss and after about four or five attempts we managed to push it across with a victory that felt pretty solid.  Sure we were down several people at the point of the kill, but we had enough that after a little bit it felt certain we would get it.  Granted we were about 45 seconds away from the enrage timer due to the missing dps.

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From there we moved on to working on the Ursoc encounter because it seemed largely to be a tank, healer and coordination check.  On I believe our second attempt we managed to get the victory after a bunch of shifting bits around to figure out how to handle the charges more effectively.  As a tank however I have to say Ursoc is a bit of a heart attack.  I was constantly praying that I would have enough rage to hit my next reactive ability to help curb the insane damage that was coming in.  The constant tank swaps were a little strange to get used to as well, but Art and I managed to largely figure it out, and with it…  another new boss kill.  From here we moved to Dragons…  and on our second attempt hilarity ensued.  Several of us were down… and we THOUGHT we were wiping….  so Kylana started going into the whole spiel about how we could improve on the fight.  However the remaining living tank and the dps and heals that were still up just kept on pushing forward.  Apparently we were a lot closer to victory than we realized, because in the middle of this speech about the things we need to tighten up…  we saw the Dragons of Nightmare killed message pop across our screens.  It reminded me so much of the time we killed Sindragosa… with everyone dead.  Thalen had fired the last shot and then gotten frozen…  and the boss was dead but we all had to rez up and run back to be able to loot the body.  Because of this fact I didn’t get a screenshot of that kill, as I was running back at the time.  We put in some tries on the Eyeball but ultimately called it since it was getting close to our normal stopping time.  However I will absolutely take three new boss kills in one night.

Arbitrary Gates

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Yesterday I talked about my feelings regarding Destiny and the Rise of Iron Expansion.  However I could have just as easily have talked about my insane good luck.  What I mean by that is to the best of my knowledge I am the only person to get one of the new legendaries in my guild, or at the very least only one in as far as the guild activity log on the armory scrolls back.  I managed to pick this up Monday night during a Mythic Maw of Souls… and I am still insanely pumped about it.  The Thundergod’s Vigor works nicely for me… considering how damned much I love to thunderclap.  Similarly I really need to get better about using Demoralizing Shout at opportune times… so Thunderclapping my way to more casts of it also seems awesome.  Then again there is the simple fact that all legendaries seem to drop at 895 item level, which serves as a nice boost for me in that department as well.  Then there is also the added benefit of it being an item from Diablo 3 which only adds to the coolness factor as far as I am concerned.  What I was not however expecting is that it apparently sends out an alert to the entire guild when a legendary drops…  which is in part what makes me think that I might legitimately be the only person in guild with one so far.  I feel extremely lucky, but at the same time sort of sad that these are not dropping for everyone.

A huge chunk of what makes Legion interesting to me is the interaction of these legendary items with the rotations of the characters.  That is the part that I love about Diablo 3, the way a certain item you pick up can completely change how your character functions.  It was my hope that the new legendary system would add some of this element to World of Warcraft, and at least it seems it might.  However if they remain super rare items that you may or may not see ever during your play of the game…  it takes one of the cooler items and locks it away behind at gate that few players are ever going to breach.  For as awesome as Legion has been, there are a lot of items that just feel odd.  For example last night I participated in the first of the LFR content associated with Emerald Nightmare.  I went into it expecting that nothing that dropped would actually be an upgrade for me, but I was however hoping to maybe complete a quest or two.  Now my friend Grace said she was able to complete her skinning quest without issue, however for me… I was not able to loot the item needed for In Nightmares.  Which seems a bit crappy, and has caused Blizzard CS to come out and state that this is “working as intended”.  However it feels like a massive let down to those hoping to complete the Balance of Power quest line and get that item appearance… but that cannot realistically do anything other than LFR.

Granted I am not necessarily in that category, because we have a raid group that is planning on working on this stuff tonight in fact.  It just feels like an arbitrary bar given that for many of us at least we have been working towards that item appearance since the moment we knew it was a thing.  Hell I am even considering pushing my way through some of the PVP objectives just to unlock those appearances and that feels significantly more casual friendly than this one does.  I mean I guess in some way it makes sense, there are large groups of players that seem to want some visual representation that they are “better” than other players.  At the very least this seems to be a vocal group on the forums and twitter, and represented the large chunk of the opposition to the Friendship Moose community and the practice of dragging friends through getting their special mounts.  It is my only hope that we can do some of this for my own guild once we have the bosses needed for the Balance of Power quest line on farm and can realistically pull random people in to get quest steps unlocked.  Arbitrary gating of content and sitting it up on a shelf just too high for players to ever reach… is one of the things that frustrates me about the MMO design.  LFR used to be this happy medium that let people see the storyline, and complete quests associated with taking out these bosses but I guess with Legion that is changing.  While so much of Legion has been this great step forward, this feels like a stumble backwards.

A Busy Weekend

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Mondays are always a challenge.  I realize that is the understatement of the year but there is just something extra heinous about trying to revive your week day routines after happily nuking them from orbit over the course of Friday and Saturday night.  Sunday night is always the roughest night of the week to get to sleep, because my body is not quite ready to relinquish the last vestiges of true freedom.  Similarly since giving up the whole weekend blogging thing for lent….  or whatever I did to actually give it up…  rebooting that process each Monday morning is an equal challenge.  This morning for example I have logged in to “check on” several things, all the while happily avoiding actually sitting down to put thought on paper or at least virtual paper.  This weekend was an odd one, but a good one.  It started off Friday night with House Stalwart my guild throwing together an impromptu raid into the Emerald Nightmare.  We did not really have a lot of time, since it was literally thrown together over the course of that evening, but we did manage to go in and one shot the first boss.  From there we started work on the spider boss, but given its moving parts I am wondering if that was the best choice.  In truth ALL of the next bosses seem to have their own madness going on and with it a challenge or two that will force us to shift and adjust to the fight.  We managed to get spider to phase two, which isn’t much of a challenge but at least I can claim it was progress.

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Another thing we attempted this weekend was our very first Mythic+ dungeon… because well Grace and I had keys burning a hole in our pockets.  However after attempt number one, I think we are going to wait to do number two… until we know the dungeons better.  Mythic Plus Halls of Valor… also happened to be the very first Halls of Valor Mythic run for most of us.  As a result we were less than efficient at a number of the fights and failed to get the timer.  That said given the number of wipes we had I think we did fairly well in that our timer ran out around the time we crossed the glowing bridge of nonsense.  So while we failed… we at least failed in style?  The truth is all of us just need a lot more normal mythic runs before we start burning any more keys.  None of us have any of the magical legendary drops that our UI tells us we can currently equip one of….  but I hear they absolutely maybe sometimes sorta drop in mythics.  We were maybe unprepared given that we were also dragging Ashgar into his first mythic ever…  and we went for a timed one.  The truth is I think we just wanted to know what the challenge looked like so we could prepare for it.  I know personally I find it hard to wrap my head around what is needed until I have failed for a bit at doing something.  Similarly we had to fail at the spider boss for me to be able to wrap my head around the videos that I will ultimately watch before we make another attempt on Wednesday.

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Finally I made a significant push on Exeter my Paladin, who is now 108 and about halfway through it.  Not shockingly I ended up dropping Retribution around 102 and have been leveling as a Protection Paladin the rest of the way.  This has allowed me to do things like tank for friends when they need to run lower level instances.  We pulled together an Eye of Azshara for Thalen over the weekend… and I happened to need it as well.  Now I have several more dungeons waiting in the wings for me to do that I may or may not wait for friends to get to as well.  Now that I am so close to 110 I sort of want to push across the finish line so I can start doing world quests and such on this character too.  Similarly I want to get in some Coren Direbrew runs for trinkets before those things go away.  So at a minimum I am probably going to finish out the rest of 108 because 109 allows me to start queuing.  I still think that is a major missed opportunity, in that they should have allowed the Direbrew event to scale with players.  At this moment I have finished Azsuna and Highmountain and have just trudged through the faction bullshit in Stormheim.  The first part of that zone feels so unlike the rest of this expansion, I can only hope in the future they are going to realize that this game feels so much better when you give us an interesting place to explore with its own story… and quit trying to force everything into a dated red versus blue narrative.