Hellfire Assault

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Weekends are Bad

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One strong constant in my life is that weekends are bad for me when it comes to making plans.  This is counter-intuitive since for MOST of the living world… weekends are the time they can regularly commit to doing stuff.  The truth is that weekends are really the only time that my wife and I are both together and pointed in the same direction for any lengthy period of time.  During the week she has a mixture of responsibilities, commitments, and spur of the moment activities that often times keep her from getting home until eight or nine in the evening.  Whereas I tend to have a fairly predictable schedule, that gets me home by 5 pm CST most nights.  This means that the only time we actually get to do anything as a couple is on the weekends, and as a result I have tried really hard to be pretty sparse with committing myself to things that occur on Saturday or Sunday.  I am already breaking that rule heavily with the recording of AggroChat Saturday nights… but generally speaking by the time our 9pm CST start time rolls around we are home anyway.  There however have been a long list of activities that have happened on Sunday and Saturday afternoons that I have flaked like mad on.  There was the whole pen and paper role-playing game that happened at 2pm CST, that by some freak occurrence I managed to make four or so of… before life caught up with me and I started being unavailable.  Then similarly I thought “Sunday is TV Night” and started trying to raid with my friends Horde side… only to find that I am just barely making it into my chair some nights before Walking Dead.  As it gets nicer outside… we push back our range of activity further… so pretty much the entire summer months are a no-go for planned activities on the weekend.

As a result I thought I was pretty much done raiding in World of Warcraft at least until Legion hits.  Then my good friend Carth decided to pull together a casual raid group and after everyone voted on the best day of the week…  I lucked out and it landed on Wednesday nights.  This is pretty much the perfect raid night for me, given that my wife is already committed to church that evening and I can pretty much do whatever I want to do without causing a major imposition.  Last night was the first official outing, and we planned on raiding from 7:30 pm cst to 10 pm cst but wound up going a little over due to the overall successes of the group.  We absolutely had a few “ringer” dps in the mix, but even accounting for that… I think we did really well.  For a bit we would end up having to pug some people… but we managed to pull together a 10+ player team.  The roster was super comfortable and included so many long time friends:  Carthuun (on Aalis), Tick (on Taavish), Giulietta, Kylana, Edana (@catinglasses), Jasmynne (Carth’s Wife), Bleddwen (@KerynWeylan)…. with myself and Damai tanking and a mixture of ringers that cycled through for which I don’t know all of the mains from Praetorian Guard.

Significant Progress

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We did significantly better than I expected on our first outing.  We managed to clear up to Iskar in a single evening, and the only boss we really struggled a bit at was Kilrogg.  That is pretty much the first fight where the mechanics really start to matter, and as a result it took us two attempts for folks to get the whole visions thing down solidly.  On the second go however everything seemed to just work like plan.  It was a bit messy at the end, but any kill you walk away from with a victory is a good kill in my book.  The awesome thing about all of this as well is that we got a lot of gear for people who needed it.  Bleddwen one of the two healers… that was quite literally drafted last night on the spot…  walked away with I believe eight pieces of gear.  Our other healer walked away with three pieces, but one of those was a tier set piece.  I managed to pick up my first piece of tier gear as well, and I am hoping next go round Kormrok will be nice and drop the Warrior piece so I can throw on that two piece bonus.  As much as I loved raiding with my Horde side family, I have to say it felt good to be Belghast again in a raid.  I mean I have done Gladiator dps for awhile now, and it is really fun…  but what I mean is Belghast the tank.  It kinda felt good to go back to my roots with the character that was my main through most of those really memorable fights.

It doesn’t hurt that the folks that we raided with… are for the most part the folks I play all of these games with.  The two healers we had… have healed me many times in Final Fantasy XIV so it felt natural to see that relationship shift to World of Warcraft.  The awesome thing about this as well is that it seems like we have two tanks and two healers locked down solidly.  That means we probably need a shift healer and potentially a shift tank to fill in the gap, but otherwise we have a really solid team.  There is a certain amount of learning mechanics on the fights, like Iskar…  but I forsee us being able to start Heroic before too long.  It would be amazing if we could push through it as well and get folks some Moose loving.  In any case it was a nice, relaxing and casual raid night, with the folks I probably would have been hanging out with anyways.  The only gotcha seemed to be that we were having trouble with our normal Teamspeak server, and as a result are probably going to be migrating to Discord for next week.  I had been wanting to give Discord a real world trial, and this seems as good as any time.  I love the concept, and I just wish that it were a slack plugin rather than a completely separate application.  For text chat purposes, I still like Slack and their notification system just works better…  however for voice… at least based on testing last night Discord is seeming to be the new way to go.

 

Re-Learning Tankadin

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Pretty Cow

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One of the frustrations of playing Horde side is that as a boosted level 100 character, I am lacking a backlog of awesome gear to use for transmogging purposes.  I mean afterall the true “end game” of World of Warcraft is looking fabulous.  As a result my down time has been spent running a bunch of older raids so that I can have something in my void storage worth transmogging.  Yesterday I finally completed my set of Tier 10 heroic armor from Icecrown, and while I don’t really have a belt that matches it perfectly yet… I am thinking it works pretty well.  I am not sure why but I have always loved the “plate dress” look that a few of the sets have, and Judgement is probably my favorite set period.  The thing is…  a paladin running around in full judgement at this point is somewhat cliche’d so instead I started chasing either the tier 8 set from Ulduar or tier 10 from Icecrown.  The problem with Ulduar is that I have run it numerous times and have yet to get the correct arm piece to drop, leaving me with a glaring hole in my armor.  Similarly frustrating is that the Tier 8 set does not seem to have a belt that matches it terribly well.  The positive about playing a Cow/Worgen/Draenei is that the boot slot doesn’t matter quite so much since there are hooves/paws in the way.

As far as the weapon I really like this spear I picked up in Ulduar, the only problem there is that I just don’t care for the polearm animation.  I need to sort out a better two handed sword that matches this set… and honestly I think they are going to similarly come from Ulduar as well.  I remember there being some pretty cool blades from there as well.  There were cool swords in Alliance Crusader’s Coliseum, but unfortunately all of the horde variants are big axes.  I have this very specific style that I am going for with the MooCowAdin… which is polished and civilized.  Essentially I am going for the traditional Paladin vibe, not a tribal version of a Paladin.  The only thing I wish I had is a better pair of goggles, but alas this character is not an Engineer but instead a Blacksmith.  I figured Blacksmith would simply be more useful in the long run, since creating your own gear is pretty great.  It is my hope that by Legion I have managed to catch up his tradeskills to the point where I can actually create useful stuff.

The Deep End

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Yesterday did not go exactly as planned, and we wound up going out shopping again in the afternoon.  The positive however is that I got Indian food…  which is always a good thing.  The negative is that I once again missed the Star Wars pen and paper game, and most of the Horde side raid in World of Warcraft.  I had been working on gearing to be a viable tank, and when we decided more healing was needed…  I said I was able.  The problem being… that not only have I not tanked in a really long time…  I have not tanked as a Paladin in an even longer time.  Part of me questions my  pushing the Paladin up, when I could have gone with a tank I was much more familiar with like the Deathknight or the Warrior.  But in part the Paladin was so that I would have access to dps, tanking and healing in one character… and I figured it might be cool to get some more tanking as one of the other classes under my belt.  Druid was also a possibility but honestly… I suck at healing with HoTs and after being so damned used to the Warrior…  playing a druid tank feels like a really trimmed down version of it.  Similarly… cat dps feels like a really confusing version of a rogue…  so honestly I think I made the right call as far as multi-function classes goes.

The challenge is that I did not join the raid until Kilrogg which seems to be one of the more complicated fights.  The person I was replacing… was the person who normally tanked the main boss so it was very much a sink or swim situation.  I had two big problems…  firstly holding aggro off our feral druid was a challenge… and one that I was largely failing.  Druids have always had the highest aggro, so holding off of them is a challenge in the best of situations.  The complicating factor here is the fact that in order to survive I had to keep from getting stacks of this debuff, and the ability that allows me to do that…  is essentially my highest threat attack.  So I would have to hold it in reserve just to make sure I had it available at all possible times and then hit it when the attack was incoming because the immunity only lasted three seconds.  This ability was essentially both a shield slam and an avoidance buff, and normally when I am tanking something I am spamming it every time it is available.  We survived only because Obi is overpowered and managed to solo tank the boss down after I died.  On Gorefiend however I was feeling much more in my element, and I think did a far more palatable job of tanking.  Nothing like being thrown into the lions den to sort out how to play a class!

Housing and Horde

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Worth It

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One of the major stresses this year has been our house, and it has been several phases.  First there was the stress when we realized that the leak in the bedroom and the kitchen were due to the garbaged out wood siding.  Then there was the stress of trying to pick the right company and the right product.  Then of course the stress of waiting for them to finally get started…  we signed a contract in July and they didn’t actually start on anything until October.  Which lead to here was the stress of having strangers at our house over the course of three weeks, and quite literally just showing up to do the work with little notice.  Finally there is the stress looming over our heads of just how much it cost us, and trying to sort out how we are going to go about paying it all off.  However this weekend… I can finally say that it was probably worth it.  Once again we had a torrent of rain and even though we are still gun shy and kept checking the former leaks…  everything continued to perform like a champ.

Where the real “worth it” bit comes in though is the fact that we had a cold front blow in yesterday and as the day went on the house continued to hold its temperature to the point that even at 11pm it had not dropped enough to actually trigger the heater coming on.  The house is so much more insulated now and it is funny just how much of a difference that makes.  Previously our upstairs was painfully oppressive to be in during the winter months because the heater would be nearly constantly going, just to make it so that the downstairs was somewhere close to livable.  Now there are still variations between the two floors, but they are pretty minor.  The place it is most noticeable is in the Bedroom where it has always been the coldest room in the house.  While it is still not the warmest, it is largely comfortable in the mornings when I wake up… instead of having to make a mad dash to the shower to get some heat in me again.  So I have to say all in all… while it was stressful and involved a bit of financial pain… in the long run it is going to be well worth it.

Maybe I Should Heal

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One of the things I am thankful for is the fact that my Sunday night raid… is pretty chill.  Sure Drewie loses his shit when he doesn’t get a token drop, which is absolutely hilarious…  but overall people are more than happy to just show up… do the things that need to be done and walk away with loot.  My opinion right now is pretty high of the population horde side in general.  People seem really nice… like almost scary nice for being World of Warcraft.  I mean I would expect Nubzy and Facepull to be nice… or she would beat them into submission, but what I am talking about is horde players on our battle group in general.  The amount of random help that I have gotten out in the world, be it a buff or a heal… or simply a friendly wave has been pretty great.  Contrast this with my experience lately on Alliance which consists mostly of entitled ranting in dungeons, or the battleground that is tradechat.  I guess I can just see why folks can favor this side of the fence.

My problem in general with horde however is that other than the Tauren… I just don’t really like the racial options.  I’ve never been a “monstrous humanoid” type player to borrow the Dungeons and Dragons term.  I will say had the Horde gotten the Dark Iron Dwarves as a racial option… I would have converted years ago.  I think in order to play Horde for long I am going to have to get used to playing female characters… because while I really like Female Trolls and Undead…  I hate the male counter parts because of the hunch.  Similarly I think Female Orcs look way cooler than their male equivalents….  though I have to admit in the above photo Khariss looks badass in his Tier 5 set.  Mostly I am happy that Sunday nights is more than willing to let me pew pew pew or eventually move into a tanking role, because those are the things I care about.  However apparently I should have been a healer.  Since moving to the horde side I have been invited to no less than four different Heroic Hellfire Citadel groups…  pending I had a healing spec.  Everquest scarred me for life when it comes to healing… and from that point on… I have never really considered it a viable option for me to enjoy playing a game.  I wasn’t horrible at it… I just get insanely bored not hitting things in the face with a weapon.

More Stuff Than Time

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We’ve talked about this on the podcast some, but I think a large chunk of the magic of Final Fantasy XIV was simply the fact that we had so much content left to do.  As we whittled our way through it over the past year and a half, we eventually caught up to the point where we are now current with each additional patch.  That means once again we are waiting for content to get delivered, rather than having a huge backlog that we could be working through.  I think the reason why World of Warcraft is so compelling to me once again is that… right now I have this huge backlog of content to work through.  I am absolutely the “master of my domain” when it comes to the Alliance side of the house.  I have one of every crafter, and I can push up any character I choose… it is just the matter of dedicating the time to it.  Instead on the Horde side I have nothing…  well apart from a super supportive guild.  I am once again behind the curve and this has put the game in entirely new perspective for me.  I want to build my legacy on this side of the fence, and eventually reach a point of self sufficiency just like I have with my army of Alliance alts.

The problem is however that there are simply more things that I need/want to be doing than there are hours in the day.  Part of me keeps thinking… I will dedicated this day to working on alts, or this day to farming old content…. and instead I just end up working on content in Tanaan or trying to farm Valor to push up gear a little bit more.  All of it gives me this feeling that there is more to do than I could ever possibly do… and it is the same contented feeling that I had in Final Fantasy XIV.  When I have left World of Warcraft in the past, it is always because of the same thing.  I start poking holes in the game because I have quite literally run out of things I want to be doing.  Now I feel like I have this mission, and plenty of things that I want to be doing… and all it really took to reinvigorate me… was abandoning a decade worth of work.  I guess in a way this is like all of those times when I have stopped one Minecraft game, just to start a new one… because the old one had gotten stale.  The awesome thing about this is… that I still have every bit of work that I did over that decade…  just waiting on me anytime I want to visit it.  Which in truth I am regularly on my Alliance characters, I am just focused on catching up on the Horde side.

 

A Whole New Shield

A New Shield

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It is officially Christmas time , as last night I ordered Pepperollies for the first time of the season.  One of the local pizza chains has this thing that only exists during the holiday season, that consists of pepperoni, cheese, pizza sauce, rolled up in a crust and cut into little disks…  then brushed with garlic butter and baked.  They are so amazingly good that we have even tried to make our own version when we get the craving… and it isn’t the holiday block.  I ordered dinner originally thinking that it would feed both my wife and I, but I completely forgot she had a Chanukah dinner at a friends house.  So that means we have plenty of leftovers for tonight I guess.  The primary reason why I was ordering something in rather than trying to fix something at the house… is that Wednesday nights I have started participating in an alliance side raid with some twitter folk which starts at 7 pm my time.  I figure there will be a time where I cannot make this raid, but for the time being I am riding along for the fun.  Unlike the Sunday horde side raid, they run on personal loot… so everything is left up to pure dumb luck as to whether or not I walk away with anything other than gold.

The exciting part of the night is that I managed to get a shield to drop off the very first boss.  Swords and shields are hands down the most important gear slot for me personally… and I have stuck away in my bank/void bank every single mainhand/shield combination I have ever tanked with for any significant length of time.  Since I managed to upgrade my weapon to 695 over the week…  I still had a 670 shield, so getting the Smoldercore Bulwark to drop was a really exciting moment for me.  I spent a few strategic tokens here and there, and picked up another few items… like the Stamped Felsteel Chestplate but I really cannot afford to break the four piece set.   So the only other piece of gear that I will actually use was a new cloak…  which is funny considering I have gotten pretty much nothing but cloaks from my garrison loot boxes.  The Drape of Gluttony itself is pretty much ideally itemized with both Bonus Armor and Crit on it.  Part of me wants to continue raiding Alliance side if for no reason other than it is quite literally the swan song of me as a Gladiator dps.  The spec is so amazingly fun…  but is absolutely not going to be around any longer after the expansion.  It was my one time to be a special snowflake… and I kinda want to soak up as much of it as I can while it is still a thing.

On Timewalking

After finishing the raid last night I popped over Horde side to piddle around and try my hand at a random Timewalking dungeon.  This week/weekend is the Cataclysm Timewalking event, and with it comes a bunch of level boosted cataclysm dungeon gear that has been brought up to 675.  At least in theory that is what it is supposed to be… the problem is I’ve had some add on bugging out on me that keeps me from seeing the actual item level of an item.  It appears that TipTac the addon I have used for years to relocate the tooltip pop up window to some standard location in my layout, has some old calculations going on… making it so items show up as their base level not the boosted level.  This has also made it so that my weapons for example, will always show up as the pre upgraded version.  While I will miss having that addon… I won’t miss seeing all the timewalking gear as level 115.  So if you are also having this issue…  kill TipTac.  Unfortunately I’ve reached a point on both of my main characters where the timewalking gear isn’t really an upgrade, so instead I am mostly running it for the Timewarped Badges.  And with those… I am mostly only interested in the pets and mounts… and the random chance of getting the Infinite Timereaver dropped mount.

If nothing else it is still fun to run these older dungeons and see them still function as relevant content.  The only problem with this is that in truth… these dungeons are a lot tougher than the equivalent dungeons would be in Warlords.  There are several rooms in Shattered Halls that will still gleefully murder you if you pull too much.  With the Burning Crusade zones specifically… this was the era of mob crowd control… and they love to fear and incapacitate players left and right.  So last night I ran one of these dungeons completely random, and then another two with my guildies.  I would have loved to have done more…  but it was almost midnight… and I had to function  today.  There is this strange nostalgia about the whole places…  and unlike revamped versions of places…  it feels the same.  I guess it is my hope that they will stop redoing old dungeons… in favor of just adding them to a Timewalking event… either that or making Timewalking a permanent feature for certain dungeons.  In truth I would love for EVERY dungeon out there to be able to scale to the highest level cap.  I love the idea of evergreen content… even though very few games do it well.  It is my hope to get in tonight and run several more of these, potentially on both sides of the fence… since I have plenty of Alliance alts that could benefit from the gear.

 

 

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.

Week In Gaming 12/5/2015

Sunday Madness

Today my posts and the AggroChat podcast are coming out a little late, because reasons.  My wife has this thing at church this morning, and stuff was not going very much as planned.  So instead of wrapping up the podcast when I got up, I went into the mode of attempting to support my wife as she flailed around the house trying to get everything ready.  I don’t really do the religion thing, but it is important to my wife so I’ve always attempted to support her in whatever way she needs.  Normally speaking I would have been further along in the podcast creation process by the time I slept last night, but instead I decided to have a knock down drag out fight with Amazon.  There is an item that starting last Tuesday, has been updating daily to tell me it would be there by 8pm the next day.  This has drug on for several days… and the FedEx tracking that I finally received shows that there is no way it is going to be here until sometime at the end of next week.  Needless to say I was more than a little perturbed, and ended up trying to get to the bottom of it.

Where I feel bad however is that I know I took out some of my frustrations on the agents that were working the case.  I realize why companies hide their chat functionality, but overall it is a horrible practice, that only leads customers to be pissed as hell by the time they FINALLY get a hold of a person to talk to about their issues.  I know I probably came off as a mad man, but seriously…  I’ve been an Amazon customer since around 2000, and been a prime member for I think as long as the program has existed.  I keep that active so that I can have items here in two days… and there have been a lot of times in the past where they actually have it here next day.  Since the swap to using the US Postal Service however, I have had several delayed orders… and this one just seems to be another in that line of problems.  The worst part about it is.. that after spending over an hour last night trying to get someone to tell me where the ball was dropped…  no one seemed to have any answers.  I did however get two months of prime added to my account apparently to appease me, so I guess that makes up for some of the frustration.  I have no doubt that the item will arrive and be just fine… but man this situation has been annoying.  It is nothing nearly as bad as Tam and Amazon quite literally losing his shipment.

The Week of Warcraft

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For the most part this was in fact the Week of Warcraft as I am attempting to play both characters on Argent Dawn Alliance side… and the joined The Scryers server Horde side.  This means  there are two different communities that I am trying to be an active part of, and as a result pretty much everything else I am doing has fallen by the wayside.  Part of my Sunday ritual is to go downstairs and watch a sequence of television shows until ultimately it is time for bed.  However during this sequence I got pulled into the Horde side guild raid with my friends in the awesomely named Facepull.  Between some gear upgrades from drops and some crafted gear by the amazing Brerhoof it took me to around the 670 range.  Now after some LFR this week I am sitting at 679 so a stones throw away from 680.  I have two parts left to do of LFR and my hope is at some point before this evening I can actually get them knocked out and will hopefully see some more upgrades.  My lowest piece on the Paladin is his necklace which is still the level 640 boosted green gear.  In theory if I get lucky I could get a baleful item to drop while I am doing dailies… which I also need to do at some point.  I have everything enchanted and gemmed… at least with cheap enchants and gems so my performance as a whole should be better tonight… that is if they still want me to come and pewpewpew things.

Then Wednesday night I was invited to raid with some twitter folk that I have known for ages.  There I brought my Alliance Warrior Belghast, and similarly have made some jumps in gearing as the week went out.  I started the week at 680 and have bumped it a little bit up to 684.  This is still a long ways off from the 705-710 range that I need to be in order to really function in Heroic for the Friendship Moose fun, but whatever I am enjoying the process.  In both cases I was mostly a fly on the wall as the raid went about their business, but I could see myself enjoying both situations greatly.  It is my hope that in both scenarios are am invited back for future weeks, and in spite of my crummy gear I still managed to end up I think 3rd in total damage done for the raid.  My burst dps is still on the weak range, but I am throwing out a lot of total damage which still is nice.  Gladiator is such a fun spec that I am really going to hate losing once the expansion ships.  I guess there is hope at a later date that they might revive the spec, but I seriously imagine it was just too hard to balance when it essentially took all of the same gear that tanks did… which means that my overall survival is among the highest of the dps classes.  In any case I am having fun… and that is what really matters right?

Reaching Diamond City

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The original plan for this week was to record our final Fallout 4 show last night, and because of that I felt this overwhelming need to have completed the storyline.  This means that a good chunk of this week I was pushing hard to get through the main story, and I have to say… it was some of the most miserable I have been playing Fallout ever.  My play style is very much a “forget the story exists” method, where I wander aimlessly and go explore whatever happens to suit my fancy.  This means there is a lot of ADD induced gaming as I see what that building over there in the distance is, or go explore that wrecked vehicle there because it looks interesting.  The result is that I spend a lot of time playing, but not a lot of time getting anywhere specific.  With the severe content density that is the Commonwealth, it means I had at 70 hours not gotten anywhere vaguely close to Diamond City.  I knew where it was, but I was busy wandering around the Cambridge area and exploring lots of little nooks and crannies.

Instead this week I forced myself to follow the storyline, and while it is really awesome… and there are lots of interesting characters… the entire process feels forced.  I mean it IS forced, because I am trying hard to play in a style that is not natural to me.  I talked about this for quite a bit on the podcast last night, but essentially most of the time I don’t like it when games end.  In Mass Effect 2, I enjoyed every moment of the side missions… but it felt like all of my fun was being sucked down a drain the moment I started that sequence of events that lead to the end of the game.  I want these worlds and settings.. and characters that I have created to essentially live on forever… and the sooner I “beat” a game… the sooner that fun for me is over.  I think in part this is why I like the MMO so much, because my characters never have to go away… they just keep going on and changing and adapting as new content is released.  So as it looks like we are pushing off the Fallout 4 show a bit…  I am going to try and find a happy medium where I alternate between following story… and also spending some time following my heart.

A Gladiator in Hellfire

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Change of Plans

Yesterday when I got up in the morning, I had every plan of coming home after work, hoping that what I was making in the crock pot was actually edible, and then sitting down to an evening of Fallout 4.  I do after all need to finish up the main story line, so that we can properly talk about it for Saturday’s podcast where we in theory review it.  Then I saw the above tweet come across my timeline.  Now I have known Jed for ages, but never really had much of a chance to hang out with him in game.  I can’t be for certain, but I believe our connection dates back to the Blog Azeroth community, and the subsequent IRC channel associated with it.  While he hasn’t really blogged all that often in recent years, I still think of him… mostly as one of the many bloggers making up my twitter feed.  Now we zoom ahead to the above twitter message, and it scrolling across my screen.  Friendship Moose is this awesome thing that was started more or less on accident from what I understand by Thomicks.  The idea was to have a community for running Heroic Hellfire Citadel for the purpose of getting people the moose mount prior to the launch of Legion.

Now I am not technically on any of the lists, but my hope was that if I got one of my characters geared I could maybe just maybe work my way into a raid at some point.  I like the concept of getting that mount, but I am not going to be super disappointed if it doesn’t happen.  Nonetheless when I saw someone that I kinda sorta know, doing an open call on Twitter for folks to join in on an Alliance side cross realm raid for the purpose of getting in training…  yeah I was down with doing that.  Also traditionally Wednesday nights are an excellent time for me to do anything raid related, since until 8 or 9 at night I am pretty much at home alone until my wife gets out of church.  So I signed up, made some flasks and armor potions… and was ready to go.  I was idling outside of HFC when the invites came through…  at which point I was straight up ganked by some hordies while waiting.  I guess it turns out that the folks leading the raid… are on a PVP server, so that was a bit of weird sequence of events since I am pretty much a dedicated carebear who has always played on not even PVE servers… but Roleplaying Servers.

More Fun Raiding

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There was a period of time when as one of the leaders of NSR and eventually Duranub… I used to farm my alts out to other peoples raids to help them when they were running short a person.  One of my great pleasures was seeing how the dynamics of these different raid groups worked, and what their cultural norms were.  I am not completely certain if this was a regular group of people, or a group thrown together specifically for the purpose of Moose practice, but whatever the case it was an enjoyable group to hang out with for the evening.  Since I have been mostly playing my MooCowAdin, it was a bit of an adjustment to get back into playing the very APM based Gladiator spec.  The Retadin feels like it has some breathing room in your attack sequence to chill a bit, whereas as a Gladiator it feels like there is always some button I desperately need to be pushing.  As much as I dislike the fact that I know the Gladiator spec is going away during Legion… I can absolutely understand why.  It is a quirky spec, with quirky gearing requirements… and that requires spastic button mashing to really make work well.  While we were actively raiding last, I made the conscious choice to uninstall recount because watching the meters actually made me play worse.  So I have no clue how I did, but last night Jed said he was going to upload the logs at some point today.

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We made it roughly as far as we managed to make it in the Facepull raid horde side on Sunday.  We had a bunch of issues with Kilrogg, and that fight is significantly more technical than I realized.  During the Facepull run I pretty much just killed adds constantly, stayed out of the poo… and made sure the poo didn’t drop in the raid.  Past that I had no deeper understand of the mechanics, and this time around I actually got to play one of the technical roles of the fight.  Namely there is a phase where three players have to run into these portals and get transported into another realm… where they attempt to deal as much damage as possible to wave after wave of adds.  When they come out they have a large dps buff, and can make stuff dead faster.  I ended up in the third wave of folks going into the portals, and this is something that I absolutely took for granted that folks must have just been handling on Sunday night.  After several tries we defeated Kilrogg, and man when we did it was satisfying.  We hit essentially the same stumbling block that we did Sunday as well… with the Gorefiend encounter, but I am thankful I am getting quite a bit more work in on learning that fight.  The problem with the last fight of the evening always seems to be the same… whatever you raid before you stop, is the point that people are starting to lose focus, and over the course of the evening we had also lost a handful of people.  The problem with raid scaling is trying to keep that appropriate mix of healers and dps… and just like Facepull it felt like we were short one healer from making it feel stable.

Transmog as Endgame

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All in all I had a pretty great night, and the timing of the raid was just about perfect for me.  It started around 7pm CST and ended around 10pm CST… which is just about the ideal parameters for me.  If a raid goes much longer than that, I am honestly going to start fading horribly.  It sounds like this is a weekly thing, so I am probably going to offer my services more often… that is if Jed will have me.  Overall I had a pretty shitty night as far as loot went… I spent a lot of tokens and don’t have much to show for it.  The thing I am in most desperate need of is a new weapon… but unfortunately while we did Heroic Blackrock bosses, I never got any of them to drop me an upgrade so I am sitting on using Taner’s Terrible Skinner the 670 version.  It is my hope at some point this weekend to pop into LFR and focus on trying to get one of those bosses to drop me a weapon and shield upgrade, since both are severely lacking at this point.  I did manage to pick up Warforged Shell-Resistant Stompers and a decent ring… that doesn’t actually sim out to being better than the slightly lower ilvl prismatic slotted ring I was already using.

So babysteps forward in catching up my gear level I guess…  I am still largely sitting at 680 with the ability to jump up to 685 if I really needed to.  However because of the quirks of Gladiator… and how important the Blackrock Foundry four piece set bonus is for that spec…  I will likely be running several ilevels lower than I could be at all points.  This is the point where I actually wish we had managed to raid Heroic Blackrock a bit more…  so that maybe I could have gotten slightly higher ilevel versions of the set gear.  This is the problem with set loot… because if you happen to get one of the few amazing bonuses… you simply cannot upgrade out of it without taking a significant hit somewhere.  I remember that was the problem with Hunter Tier 2 loot back in the day…  that eight piece bonus was so phenomenally good… that even though we were getting Tier 2.5 gear… there was no way we could actually take it and make it viable.  I know my friend Thalen would argue with that point, because he wore a lot of 2.5 back in the day…  but it certainly felt like it at the time.  In any case…  I just hope I was still acceptable dps, because I had a fun time last night.  No matter how much I try and push raiding out of my system… it remains there clinging desperately… just waiting on me to come back to it.

Since I just rambled on for two paragraphs without talking about what I set out to talk about…  after the raid I popped into 25 man Heroic Icecrown to clear it.  Now that I am writing this… I am realizing that apparently I left after Sindragosa so at some point I will have to actually go finish up and do the Lich King.  I guess in my head… I got the item I was hoping to get so it was a successful run for me.  For awhile now I have been collecting the bits of the Red/Fel Green set of Deathknight look alike armor out of there for my warrior.  When mixed with the similarly colored set of armor from Sunwell, it crafts a transmog that I am pretty happy running around in.  I guess this is my nod to all of the fel themed stuff in the tail end of this expansion… and the next one.  Transmogging after all is the TRUE end game of World of Warcraft.  So I ended the night on a really high note by completing an outfit.

Tauren Flight Form

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Rose-colored Lenses

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Last night was the night when I finally realized that playing Horde was not some magical and happy place free from assholes.  Over the last several days it has been pretty great, and I have casually bumped into people that I have slantwise known on the server.  I was beginning to think that the Horde were simply more mature players than the Alliance folks that I had been so used to dealing with.  That apparently is not the case… I simply had a really lucky streak.  I have to say the Facepull guild has been amazing, and it is actually drawing me out of my own little world that I seem to get stuck in so many times.  Last night Laughingly that everyone calls “Gigs” convinced me to join her and Martoxis in a Supreme Lord Kazzak raid.  Now me and Kazzak have a long history, namely from the days when people would pull him to Stormwind and he would ultimately need to be despawned by a GM because it got too powerful.  So I guess in a way I knew what I was getting myself in for, but Gigs promised this version was no big deal.  She even went so far as to give us a Mammoth ride to the location, and everything seemed pretty awesome for a bit.

Then we started summoning people…  and I was simply doing my part and clicking the portals to get people here faster.  At some point during this rush a mage perfectly summoned a portal to Hillsbrad Foothills…  aka where Dalaran USED to be.  A handful of us mistakenly clicked it… including myself and Gigs… and we quickly fell to our deaths.  At which point someone pulls the boss, locking us out of the loot.  So while I was raging inside… I attempted calmly rez and get my way back to Tanaan Jungle.  I honestly didn’t even think of that being a thing that someone would do…  but I guess now I know to be cautious.  It feels like however fate rewarded me for my frustrations, because on the next attempt I managed to get a drop both from the boss and from the token…  which gave me not one but two different 705 trinkets:  Chipped Soul Prism and Mark of Supreme Doom.  Well worth a fall to my death…  that honestly I should have survived with a bubble, but I was simply too shocked to react in time.

Last Call LFR

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On the Alliance side of the house, there has been a long standing rule… that you do not under any circumstances do Looking For Raid content any night other than Tuesday and MAYBE Wednesday at the latest.  The closer you get to Monday the worse the groups get, and you only ever set foot in an LFR dungeon on a Monday night if you have a significant death wish.  Once again I thought maybe the rules of the universe simply didn’t function the same on the Horde side, because I did several LFR runs on Saturday and Sunday and had a pretty good time of it.  The groups were calm and reasoned, and we simply wrecked stuff and got loot as a result.  So even thought I had the shitty experience with the asshole mage in Kazzak, I decided to brave the unwashed masses and venture forth into Monday LFR.  My first sign that something was wrong, should have been that the DPS queue was roughly an hour.  I however had stuff I wanted to do out in Tanaan Jungle so I queued up and before I knew it… it was popping.  At first things seemed to go more or less pretty well.  We downed the first boss with ease…  then when we got to the second boss… it took two attempts.  Finally the third boss took three attempts… so things seemed to be going downhill.   However with the miracle of determination we were able to get through it.

Then I queued for Archimonde… aka the Black Gate.  Firstly I have to say how awesome I think it is that you are essentially fighting the demons that besieged Mount Hyjal.  I’ve been running quite a bit of Mount Hyjal attempting to get that really awesome two handed sword for my paladin.  The end game of World of Warcraft or any game… is really collecting outfits for transmogging.  Needless to say… Archimonde did not go well.  I was assured by my guildies that this fight was a little overtuned even for LFR, and that most groups struggle with it.  However after our fourth wipe, we lost literally half of the raid and I found myself exiting as well.  So in my first week of really being “back” I managed to raid Normal Hellfire Citadel through Gorefiend, all of Blackrock Foundry LFR, and all but Archimonde in the Hellfire Citadel LFR.  The only thing that I wish I had managed to squeeze in there was Highmaul LFR, simply because I am in desperate need of Abrogator Stones.  Playing catch up on the legendary ring quest is going to be a massive pain in the butt, because I remember just how many weeks it took me actively raiding Highmaul and Blackrock Foundry to get all the necessary bits to complete that thing.

A Reason for Facebook

Another interesting side note is that it seems Facepull hangs out pretty much exclusively on Facebook.  This is the one social media network I have actively shunned over the years, namely because of some bad first experiences with it.  I technically have a Facebook account because it is connected to this blog, and I namely use it to syndicate my posts to the Tales of the Aggronaut page.  What is going to be interesting is this may give me a reason to actually use it on a regular basis, seeing as they seem to use it in place of the traditional guild forum.  The other funny side note is that apparently yesterday they found my blog posts thanks to Nubzy linking it to said facebook group.  So hey folks if you are reading this!  Apparently Obi was a bit grumpy that I didn’t mention him in my blog post, so I am going out of my way to remedy that today.  I’ve known Nubzy and Obi since I believe Vanilla, or at the very least since early Burning Crusade.  They have followed me into many games and I have always considered them both to be part of my extended family.  I am just happy to finally make good on my threat of playing something on their side of the fence.  I still say however that World of Warcraft would be a better game if they just tore the fence down, letting battle.net friends play together regardless of what faction they happened to enjoy the most.  That said I really am starting to enjoy being a bull.

 

Hellfire and Horde

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Adulting Sucks

This morning I am sitting here trying to eat my oatmeal and drink my coffee… and this Monday guy keeps pestering me and trying to make me adult.  Really freaking annoying.  This weekend was a tale of my wife and I avoiding adulting..  so much so that finally yesterday we had to get out and do things in the world.  Essentially yesterday was the day of doing all of the things we put off the rest of the break.  In the grand scheme of things it wasn’t too bad, but the world was cold and rainy… and when I first set foot outside yesterday morning my first instinct was to rush back inside and swear off breakfast.  Then my tummy kicked in and told me that it was hungry, and it was also sick of the options we had available in the house.  So I ventured out and got breakfast, and realized that I could in fact survive outside of my house shaped bubble with its blanket cocoon.  You can tell the hibernation instinct is strong… because we bought the fixings for a bunch of various crock pot meals…  so we don’t have to leave the house at all once we make it in from work.

Unexpected Activity

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A good chunk of my weekend was spent doing things to get gear for Belgrace my newly 100 Tauren Paladin.  When you boost a character they end up giving you a full set of green 640 gear, which is a significant increase over the sort of gear you end up with by natively leveling.  Also apart from having to get silver in the proving grounds… you are level appropriate for heroics and the first two LFR raids.  I however had pretty crappy luck in Blackrock Foundry with getting upgrades, but I did have a fair amount of luck picking up Baleful drops in the Tanaan Jungle campaign area.  So last night I was sitting at 656 with a decent purple weapon… that was sadly as good if not better than Belghast’s alliance side.  I had settled down into my blanket cocoon on the sofa prepping to watch my Sunday evening television binge of Once Upon a Time > Walking Dead > Into the Badlands > Talking Dead when I got a random invite from my friend Nubzy.

I knew that they raided on Sunday nights, but I had no clue they planned on dragging me into Hellfire Citadel.  I had told her that I was working on gearing and that I had managed to get to 656, but that did not necessarily mean I was expecting to raid.  They were resetting the instance apparently and were grabbing a ton of other people into what was their largest raid group to date of around sixteen people.  Brerhoof has always been awesome, and he set to making me some upgrades for my remaining 640 green slots.  So before I had even really set foot into the dungeon Brer handed me Gauntlets, Pants and Boots that were significant upgrades.  Then off the very first drop I managed to pick up Shell-Resistant Stompers and luckily I had not bound the boots yet so I equipped the drop and holding onto the BOEs for the time being.  Either I will get an upgrade for them, or pass them on to the next guildie that needs them.  The night as a whole saw me getting a bunch of really nice upgrades…  in addition to the boots I picked up a Helm of Precognition, an Warlord’s Unseeing Eye for offspec… and most importantly a 690 weapon upgrade Fel-Burning Blade.

Old School Feels

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While the gear upgrades were awesome… the real take away from the night was just how much fun I had.  The horde guild is named Facepull, and that should tell you something about the attitude and demeanor.  More than anything running with them… reminded me of the nights raiding with Duranub before Cataclysm.  It was an old school kind of fun, and even when we did something stupid… no one really got pissy about it.  We just kept pushing forward and making progress.  For having a bit of a strange balance we did really well making it up to Gorefiend before hitting a bit of a wall.  At that point we had a few members of the raid have to leave… one of which was a healer leaving us with a fairly unbalanced party.  The big surprise of the evening is I guess I did not realize that Nubzy was now one of the tanks.  I guess I knew her most as a Shadow Priest, so I guess in the back of my head I just assumed she was booming it up on her Druid.  Right now the plan is to gear out my offspec for tanking, but if we continue to need healing… I might change those plans at some point.

Paladin is the only class I have really successfully healed on… but that was back during  Burning Crusade/Wrath of the Lich King.  I know Paladin healing is far less whack-a-mole than it was… and for some people that is probably a good thing.  For me that really has no healing instincts left anymore from my Everquest days…  that is definitely a bad thing.  The only sort of healer I am is really the “mash button faster for more heals” kind.  Granted I did level as a healer in SWTOR on my Scoundrel, but good at healing companions is one thing…  good at healing people is a completely different one.  In Final Fantasy XIV I kinda fail at my Scholar and I am not exactly the sort of healer you really want on my White Mage either.  In any case I had a lot of fun, and the Sunday evening thing is something I could potentially get used to.  They don’t start until almost 8pm EST, which by that time I am always downstairs watching television anyways.  I managed to dps just fine while watching my shows last night, so in theory this is a decent fit.  I have to say I could get used to this raiding as a cow thing…  and the group of people seemed pretty damned cool as well.

 

Content Walls

A Different Dark Knight

ShippingPC-BmGame 2015-06-24 17-38-36-07 So here is the point where I admit that I have never actually played any of the recent crop of Batman games.  I own I believe all of them other than the latest one that just came out, because I keep thinking that they are games that I would really enjoy, but for whatever reason like so many games in my Steam backlog I never end up playing them.  With all of the hype surrounding Batman Arkham Knight lately I have had this massive desire to delve into these games and see exactly what they are made of.  Last night was an odd night in that I got home relatively early, but knew I would have to leave and go pick my wife up as she was getting in from our last trip of the summer.  I knew I had an hour or so to kill so I opted to delve into this game and see how far I could get.  So far there is a lot to like but some things that are a little bit maddening at times as well.  Combat seems to take place in a three dimensional “final fight” style manner.  NPC bad guys approach you in waves and you can beat on them to turn them away from your position.

ShippingPC-BmGame 2015-06-24 18-02-56-67 The problem I have however is that the game employs a “bullet time” mechanic that I seem to have no real control over.  Sure it looks cool to zoom in as your fist cracks against the jaw of a bad guy, but it is jarring in the same way that slow motion kills in Fallout 3 were.  It pulls you out of the action and forces the entire world to slow down for a moment before unfreezing and expecting you to pick up combat where you left off.  Hopefully this is something I will just get used to, as I didn’t make it terribly far into the game last night.  I have to say the storyline and the plot are compelling enough to make me want to keep playing.  I’ve always been a fan of Batman, and the dynamic between him and joker have been the stuff that has driven me to read more Batman comics than I can recall.  Harley Quinn is another of my favorite characters in the universe, and she seems sufficient so far… but really I have not gotten to interact with her terribly much.  Yes I realize at this point that this game is pretty “ancient” but I am going to enjoy it nonetheless.

Content Walls

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-23 21-13-11-19 I am still very much loving Heavensward but I wanted to take a moment to talk about my biggest frustration with the game so far.  This game has some phenomenal story that makes you want to push forward so that you can see what happens next.  The problem is quite frequently you hit a wall where you must be the next level in order to continue the quest chain.  The red quest icon taunts you until you have managed to push through that next level…  only to grant you access to a few more steps of story before locking you out again.  I realize as I leveled my way through the original story in A Realm Reborn I experienced this…  but it has been almost two years so I guess my memories had faded.  Partially I think this is the fault of the way that I am currently playing the game, where I mostly focus on the Main Story, hoping to leave a lot of the side questing for secondary classes to get some experience off of.  Unfortunately I think the designers intended you to do all of the new quests that open up in each area to help you push forward into the next content goal.

ffxiv_dx11 2015-06-21 17-02-44-44 Thankfully I have dungeons to augment my leveling process, and since everyone seems to be comfortable asking me to tank for them… I am getting quite a lot of access to running these dungeons with my free company.  The only problem being that I never know exactly how I want to level when I am left to my own devices… and have run out of story.  I absolutely love FATEs but the problem being that they simply do not seem to be worth the effort.  We have a running theory that they have watered down the FATE experience in an effort to force players to complete their main story content, rather than simply FATE grind their way through the levels.  The whole FATE grinding to the end thing happened a lot in A Realm Reborn, and I could see them wanting to maybe nip that in the bud at least for the early players.  The problem being that side quests, really don’t reward that much experience either.  I’ve recently unlocked the second their of Clan Hunts, so I will have to see if they reward significantly more experience than the first tier that unlocks at 53.  As it stands right now… I am hoping the first major patch gives FATEs a significant tweak as far as XP goes so I can return to doing those for my alts.

In That Old Place

Wow-64 2015-06-11 21-14-01-64 This coming Tuesday in theory marks the end of our World of Warcraft raids break, and as I find myself moving closer to that date I realize…  I am just not ready to resume raiding.  In fact I am not really ready to play World of Warcraft right now on any level.  So for the time being I will not be rejoining them in raiding, and more than likely won’t be playing at all for some time.  I feel like my primary issue right now is there really isn’t anything other than the raiding tying me to the game.  Sure I had some fun faffing about trying to farm mounts or doing old raid content for cosmetic gear…  but that ultimately has a limit to just how long I can do that without something else keeping me rooted in the game experience.  I’ve explored the new areas, and pushed three characters to the level cap in Warlords of Draenor.  While the content was extremely fun to level through that first, second and even to some extent third time… the whole experience feels extremely disposable because it is also exactly the same each time you do it.

WoWCancelledAgain2015 In many ways this expansion reminds me of the way I felt after leveling my third character in Star Wars the Old Republic.  While the individual class quests there were excellent, it was all the other content that I kept having to repeat that ultimately wrecked my enjoyment of the experience.  I thought walking into Draenor I would be awash with nostalgia about how much I enjoyed The Burning Crusade…  and to some extent that worked for a month or so.  The problem is it is like going back to your High school twenty years after you graduated…  while some of the aspects are similar it is still very much a brand new place that does not synchronize with your memories of it.  The reboot timeline just feels wrong, and with this patch and the reintroduction of Hellfire Citadel, I just find myself not caring anymore.  Arthas and Illidan were bad guys I could really get behind taking down… a constant parade of grim dark future orcs…  not so much.  I made the mistake yesterday of checking my account to see when it would renew, and when I saw September I went ahead and cancelled it.  I figure if the game has not grabbed my attention and made me want to play again in that time… it will just quietly close the door on another chapter of my own personal Warcraft timeline.