Things Did For Loot

AggroChat #32 – Azeroth, Mordor and Beyond

Normally Sunday mornings I talk about the happenings from the night before when we record our weekly episode of AggroChat.  However yesterday it just didn’t really fit the theme of the post, so I opted to push off advertising it on my blog until this morning.  We recorded for roughly two hours, but thankfully after I edited it was condensed to only an hour and twenty minutes… which is far more reasonable.  It is always strange when we go into a show with what we feel like is not a lot to talk about… and then a show happens and it ends up being a length one.  I feel like some of those are the most natural because the conversation just went where it needed to go without our direction.

We talked about a dizzying range of games from Shadows of Mordor and Tam and Kodras views on the game.  They both still say it is very much a “bel game” and at this point I am planning on picking it up hopefully when it goes on sale during the Steam Christmas Sale.  It does look really interesting, and I like the seeming focus on mechanics rather than story.  We once again delve into a discussion about 4X games namely Beyond Civilization, Civilization 5 and Endless Legend.  Similarly there is a length discussion about our feelings surrounding Dragon Age Inquisition and Kodra has finally made some progress in Dragon Age Origins.  Finally I talk at length about my experiences returning to World of Warcraft as I gush about finally having a strong female in World of Warcraft that is not also moments away from being turned into a raid boss.  Seriously if you have not followed the Yrel character you should check her out.

Things Did For Loot

WoWScrnShot_112214_172004 My focus this weekend entirely was getting geared up enough to be able to do Molten Core on Tuesday night with the guild.  Since this is a 40 man looking for group experience… and various members of them  guild have said it took upwards of three hours to complete…  we are wanting to try and pull in as many people as possible Tuesday night so we can hopefully carry the random players to a rapid victory.  The only problem is that in order to join in the fun, you have to have 615 ilevel.  Unless you had some extreme luck with item upgrades in Nagrand, it is not exactly easy to hit that kind of level without a lot of dungeoning.  Arria and several others kept telling me that I needed to PVP in order to get my ilevel up high enough to run Molten Core, but at first I rejected this notion entirely.  However after a period of time without a guild group online that I thought we could make dungeoning work… I resorted to queuing for battlegrounds.

Over the course of the weekend I ran enough battlegrounds to be able to purchase a neckpiece and bracers at roughly 1250 honor each.  I have to say… I actually enjoyed myself, and it shocks me just as much to be able to say those words.  Remember I have gone on length diatribes about how faction based combat destroys a sense of community.  The thing is…  battlegrounds are not open world pvp and I did not enjoy Ashran the open world pvp zone at all.  The strange thing is that I have quite literally not PVP’d in World of Warcraft since Burning Crusade other than once or twice here needed for some holiday achievement.  Once upon a time I was part of an Arena team if you can believe that, with the sole purpose of gearing my paladin in some healing gear.  It is strange how cyclical things are… in Burning Crusade PVP gear was extremely useful for PVE purposes… and now in Warlords the exact same thing has happened.  I guess I don’t mind PVP so much when I know there is a loot piñata at the end of my efforts.


Wow-64 2014-11-23 13-11-44-29 Between the two pieces of PVP gear I was able to bump my ilevel up high enough to be able to  do Molten Core.  However yesterday I spent most of the day running Heroics with the guild.  The strange thing is that I tagged along as dps.  It feels so strange that sword and board gladiator is actually viable dps, and for most of the runs I was competitive with the person sitting in first place on the meters.  The awesome thing about this is that the gear needed to tank and needed to Gladiator dps are essentially the game.  Bonus Armor it turns out is just as much of a DPS boost for Gladiator as it is survival for Defensive.  All of this makes me wonder if we will see a resurgence of viable specs to allow tanks to tank as Arms or Fury like they used to back in Vanilla WoW.  In any case I ran Bloodmaul Slag Mines, Grimrail Depot, Auchindoun, The Everbloom and Skyreach and between them I managed to get several upgrades.

I feel like I need to take a moment to praise Blizzard for the changes to the way that personal loot works.  I made a comment the other day on twitter when they removed personal loot as the default for pugs, that going back to need before green only really helped the trolls.  It turns out that they just felt they needed to tweak personal loot a bit before returning it to the dungeons, which ultimately they hotfixed back in within a days time.  The new version is extremely awesome, because no matter how bad your luck is early in the dungeon… the final boss will always drop an item for your spec.  Mostly what makes the system great is there are no more instances of unusable loot.  Granted what you get may not actually be an upgrade, but we did several runs with nothing but plate wearers… and no leather rotted in the dungeon.

Finally a Worthy Helm

Wow-64 2014-11-24 06-17-17-22 Over the course of the weekend I went from 609 ilevel to a respectable 623 and I feel that I am fully ready for Molten Core tomorrow.  I am not sure if I will be called on to tank or to dps, but in either scenario I feel comfortable thanks to the fact that Gladiator dps is esentially just tanking without the taunts.  One of the things that I have tried to be religious about is doing my crafting and resource workorders in my Garrison.  The primary one is the Gearspring Parts needed for engineering, or in truth every single tradeskill that makes things seems to have a limited resource that can be sped up significantly through the use of your Garrison.  This expansion has returned to having an exceptionally useful helm gained through engineering, and this time it is upgradeable three steps to make it competitive with raid gear.

This morning I managed to collect the last of the 100 Gearspring Parts needed to craft it, and finally I have a helmet that is worth of displaying helm.  Traditionally I run around sans helmet, because in truth World of Warcraft has pretty much nothing but ugly helms.  These goggles however are fantastic, and I am proud to let my engineer flag fly high.  Unfortunately I am going to have to figure out a way to get savage blood, which I am afraid that I do not have a source of it in that I did not build the barn.  Since it is a tradeable resource my hope is that I will be able to obtain it through an alt.  Honestly my biggest hope is that eventually they add it to the primal spirit vendor at a significant loss, so that I can use my stockpile of those.  In any case I feel like I am fully ready for the rigors of raiding, but still have plenty of upgrades that I can get from heroics.

My Routine

There are mornings I have an idea immediately and others that I struggle to find purpose in my writing.  There is something about being under pressure to write a post each morning that makes it work for me.  I’ve long found that on the weekends I dawdle considerably more and struggle to get a post out.  Whereas in the morning as I am drinking my morning coffee if I just start writing a post materializes before I really know fully what I am going to write about.  As such for this mornings thankfulness post, I am thankful for my routine.  I am thankful that I embarked upon this journey over a year ago, and thankful that I realized that the morning would actually be a viable time for me to write.  Writing a post feels like I am starting the day having already accomplished something, which in turn I feel makes the day as a whole a better one.  May each of you also find the routine that works for you.

A Tale of Three Games

Cold Snap

ffxiv 2014-11-17 21-15-23-635 Our Final Fantasy XIV group has ended up taking about a month long break following the launch of the 2.4 patch.  For various reasons we have not rallied the troops on Tuesday nights, and as such we have opted to move our group content night.  Tuesday has turned out to be just as bad a day to do anything serious as it was in every other MMO.  For some reason it seems that Final Fantasy XIV patches more often than not late Monday night leading into Tuesday morning.  This means along with the normal weekly reset we are often times dealing with marginally unstable servers.  Since Monday tends to be a night where most folks focus on getting the last poetics needed to cap for the week, we figured it was also a relatively low volume raid night.  So going forward we are going to try and pull together 8 man group content Monday nights with whomever we can muster at the time.

ffxiv 2014-11-17 21-53-20-145Often times who we have available will dictate what we can do.  Last night we started off with Shiva Hard Mode, since most of us had not actually completed it.  I have to say the fight was rather enjoyable, and it was kinda like a strange mishmash of titan and ifrit.  It took us a couple of tries to see all the mechanics and then we straight stomped her.  Granted this is just a hard mode and we are used to mostly attempting extremes.  After that we went back and did Garuda Extreme again, because there was at least one member of the party who had not completed it.  Traditionally we would be working on Titan Extreme, but it was good to go back and see that we could in fact repeat our victory.  Granted it had been well over a month since we had last done the fight, and as such all of us were a bit rusty.  However after a few wipes we nailed it like we actually knew what we were doing.  Hopefully by next week everyone will have unlocked Ultros so we can take that on as a group, and this should have keyed most everyone for Garuda… so we can make attempts on Titan Extreme again.

To Skip or Not to Skip

Wow-64 2014-11-18 06-15-39-104After our group broke apart in Final Fantasy XIV I opted to poke my head into World of Warcraft and see what mayhem I could cause.  I apparently was significantly closer to 96 than I realized, because upon entering the game and beginning work again on the Gorgrond content…  I dinged within doing a few of the bonus areas.  I still have a handful of bonus content areas to complete, but now this gives me a dilemma.   I am at an ideal point to transition to the new zone that unlocked at 96… Spires of Arak.  The problem being I have yet to do anything at all in Talador other than set up my garrison outpost.  It looks like a really cool zone…  but I am wondering if doing it will basically screw me for getting into normal mode dungeons.  The problem that I ran into with Pandaria is that I leveled significantly quicker than the content would normally allow… and this means that I ended up needing to skip entire zones in the process.  Normally I would keep plugging on, but I would really like to be available for at least a normal mode tank when I reach 100.  The gear level that I came into the expansion with is just not going to hold long enough for me to do meaningful content.

It was my experience in Pandaria that if you could get into Townlong Steppes and Dreadwastes at the level cap to enter them… you could end up getting enough gear upgrades from questing that you were more than ready to set foot into normals… and quite possibly you were within an upgrade or two away from being able to do heroics.  I guess in theory I could keep plugging away at Talador and simply finish all the content in the game before worrying about doing dungeons.  Ultimately I do want to finish the content, because this expansion actually has a storyline that I care about for once.  I guess my only desire to rush to 100 is so that I can get in on the initial wave of folks needing to run dungeons.  While tanking for strangers was not as bad of an experience as I had expected…  I feel like once everyone hits cap that experience will degrade significantly.  Ultimately I will need to make a decision and move forward.  Right now I am leaning heavily towards just skipping Talador entirely for the moment and diving into the Spire of Arak for maximum upgrade potential.

A Tale of Three Games

DragonAgeInquisition 2014-11-17 23-23-02-356 At midnight of last night another game launched that will be fighting for my attention, or significantly earlier than midnight if you know how to use a VPN to cause yourself to show up as another region.  This once again is proof positive that region lockouts are dumb, because they are so painfully easy to circumvent if you really want to.  I however did not care enough to do this, and my Monday night was already pretty full so I just waited until 11pm my time to get in and play the game.  Dragon Age: Inquisition is a game with so many hopes wrapped up in it, that can either be booned or bashed within the first few hours of game play.  Will this game return to Dragon Age: Origin style game play, or will it be more akin to Dragon Age 2.  Quite honestly I don’t have an answer for you yet because I just have not seen enough of the game.

I am however already questioning my choices, and thinking that maybe I should not have gone sword and board tanky.  The game unfortunately gives you a tank for your very first character, and while I have not even completely the introduction… I am already having flashbacks of trying to make two tanks work to keep Alistair in my party.  The description mentions having proficiency with a two hander as well, so hopefully one of us can equip one of those and be done with it.  Quite honestly the game felt a little sluggish, but I think maybe I had something installing in the background when I made my attempt to play it.  For whatever reason it seemed to run silky smooth.. and then absolutely thrash the hard drive every so often without much rhyme or reason as to why.  My hope was that it was just a background process thing… and not the game doing something dumb like trying to dial into the dragon age servers periodically.  The game took a significant time to load… which I do think we can probably blame on busy servers as everyone was trying to launch the client at exactly midnight.  Hopefully as the week goes on, I will have more to report on it… other than it exists.

My Cousin

No matter how smoothly this Thanksgiving goes… it was going to be a rough one regardless.  This is going to be the first dinner without my grandmother, who has been such a fixed point and an anchor in our family.  She represents that last in a long line of degrading family events that pretty much means all of the normality that I grew up with as far as family and holidays goes is gone.  When my grandmother on my fathers side passed away, those meals just stopped in any semblance of order.  We would say that we would try and get together, but ultimately we each made a quick visit in private to my grandfather… and that reason for maybe passing each other in the drive way even left when he passed away.  Similarly with my wife’s family… when he step dad passed away the era of having big family meals went away… and folks opted to break apart into much smaller units.  The last bastion of the big family get together was my Grandmother on my mothers side… and this past year she passed away.  Predictably holiday plans have been non functional.

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, because it is one of the last pure ones.  Sure the day after thanksgiving is this black mass to consumerism… but thanksgiving day itself has remained relatively pristine.  It was a day about getting together and having a meal with your family, and that mission was just simple enough to stay pretty true to its original goal.  There is something about sharing a meal with friends and family that is just special to me… and for years I tried to convince my family to turn Christmas into Thanksgiving 2.0… where we just got together and shared conversation and food… and forgot the presents.  My grandmothers house was this focal point of all of the family activity.  She was such a strong matriarch and she is as much a reason for why I am the person I am… as anyone in my life is.  I spent the majority of my childhood at her house, with her as my companion and friend.  So this Thanksgiving was always going to be a hard one, no matter what happened.

The interesting thing that I have noted as we have gone through a series of recent funerals is how well my generation seems to get along with one another.  When my grandmother passed away, I stayed long after most of the folks had left just talking to my cousins.  My generation just does not fit into our family as a whole… we went out into the world and for the most part all did something with our lives beyond the boundaries of the small town my family hails from.  The other day my wife was lamenting how strange Thanksgiving would be without my grandmother on facebook, and at this one of my cousins announced that she was intending to invite us to have the meal with them.  Apparently she had gone through the same malaise and similarly they had a few deaths in their family that pretty much ended up with the holiday decimated.  So as such here we go trying to start our own new traditions.  Hopefully Thanksgiving will go smoothly, but in any case it will be better than spending it without family.

NaNoWriMo Supporter

AggroChat Episode 28

Last night we once again rallied the troops and recorded another episode of AggroChat.  This week Kodra was saddled with the dual burdens of illness and family…  and as such could not attend.  However we had Ashgar, Rae and Tam.  The number one thing on all of our minds was experiencing the 2.4 patch content in Final Fantasy XIV which landed last Monday/Tuesday.  During that time Tam has pushed up a rogue from level 1 to 50 and is now gearing it for raiding purposes.  I have mostly spent my time running Syrcus Tower trying to get bits to gear out my warrior and dragoon.  All of us have been slowly working our way through the brand new dungeon content.  Yesterday shortly before the show Ash, Tam and myself finished the last of the three new hardmodes and I have to say I am really damned impressed.

ffxiv 2014-11-01 20-20-47-557 Even more impressive is where the main storyline seems to be going.  This is one of the aspects I find the coolest about FFXIV is that the story just keeps evolving and not in an artificial way.  The problem with Star Wars the Old Republic is that when you reached 50… especially as a Jedi Knight or Jedi Counselor you had solved the galaxies greatest threat.  There was nowhere to go but down from there.  In FFXIV when you finish the main story, it is just the beginning and everything about the game tells you… you didn’t solve shit.  You took out one pawn in a far greater game.  So every three months or so when we get a major patch, I am always amped to see where exactly the story is going to go.  Right now I am only a couple of hours into the new story content, and already they have thrown out some allusions to past Final Fantasy games that have me spooked as to where we might be going with this.

NaNoWriMo Supporter

At this point hopefully all of this years participants have at least broken ground on their new novel.  Throughout the month of October I mulled around the notion of doing NaNoWriMo 2014, but in the end I have decided not to.  Last year if you recall I essentially live blogged my novel and used each days writing as the next days posting on my blog.  In the intervening year I have done absolutely nothing with it.  I’ve not even cracked the original drive document to even begin editing it.  This more than anything else tells me I am not quite ready to undergo the challenge again.  Last year I won, and by winning I mean I actually finished my 50,000+ words by the end of the month.  The problem is I have a chrysalis for a novel and not really something worth publishing.  I need to put at least as much effort as I did writing it into editing it.  At least once a week I think about digging into it and ripping things to shreds as I sort bits out that I slammed together in a rush.  It just seems so damned daunting to unravel what I was only able to pull together through sheer will.

The other reason why I have decided to skip NaNoWriMo this year is that it took a hell of a lot out of me.  My world for the month of November revolved around making sure I got my words done for the day.  In the end nothing else mattered, and I pretty much abandoned everything else that I enjoyed.  It was during the month of November that I faded away from FFXIV in the first place, because the game required too much effort from me to keep playing it while pouring out 1500 to 2000 words a day.  Additionally my blog suffered because I could not keep up my daily blogging AND write that many words a day… was just not something I could juggle.  This was the point that I got back into World of Warcraft, because WoW was a game I could play entirely on auto pilot.  Nothing about the game made me think, and I could live in this blissful muscle memory zone where I got enjoyment without having to acknowledge the world going on around me.  NaNoWriMo was all consuming, and while I think it is something that everyone should complete at least once…  I have done that.  I completed the competition last year, and wrote a novel… something that I can check off my bucket list.  I don’t feel the need for a repeat performance…  at least not quite yet.

What I plan on doing is being a cheerleader for the folks who ARE planning on doing the struggle this year.  The folks that need inspiration or support as they struggle to keep up with the waterfall of words that NaNoWriMo is.  Be it a word of encouragement or a swift kick in the ass when I see they haven’t done their words for the day…  I will try and be there.  So while I am not a participant I am very much a supporter of the process.  Having actually gotten my novel finished on time last year I might even be able to provide a source of advice.  I would never have finished last year were it not for the other people struggled through the process with me.  They were a source of inspiration and I am hoping some of them will be taking up the challenge this year as well.  It is an awesome thing, and hopefully I can play match maker between groups of friends entering the fray together.

I realize this is the second of November and not the first, but we are going to temporarily ignore that fact as I introduce a new thing that I am going to do all this month.  In truth it was not until yesterdays post that I was made aware that this was a thing.  My wife usually skims my posts each day to see if I have written anything about “us” in the blog, and after doing this yesterday she turned to me and said “you should have done a month of thankfulness post”.  So yeah… I kind of wish I had thought about that before making my post yesterday.  So this morning I pulled together a logo and am setting forth on this adventure.  I’ve always liked Thanksgiving the best of all of the holidays because it isn’t about commercialization or how much you can spend to show your love… it is just about a simple thanks for the awesome things in your life.  I am not going to make this out to be a big thing like Blaugust was, but I think it would be awesome if it spread a little bit around our community.

My Wife

I figured I would start off my series of posts with a post about my wife.  Not only did she give me this idea but she is pretty much a constant source of support in my life.  More important than that she keeps me grounded.  I get absolutely engrossed in the things I am into, be it my blog, the podcast, streaming or whatever the latest video game I am obsessing over.  She has a way of pulling me outside of all of this and focusing me on the real world outside of my computer and consoles.  There are a lot of couples that game together, and I have always thought this would be a cool thing…  but I also know it would never actually fly for me.  If I had a gamer spouse  the bills would never get paid, the chores would never get done… and I would ultimately end up losing my job.  My wife helps me keep one foot firmly planted in reality, and keep from slipping down that slippery slope.

More than this we compliment each other nicely.  She is all of the things I am not.  She is a creature of logic and I am a creature of passion, and together we make this awesome pair.  I can’t necessarily say that we are opposites, because we have just enough in common to make it work, but we definitely complement each other.  The other strange thing is that we rarely actually fight.  I mean we bicker back and forth, but there is rarely any spat that isn’t resolved by bed time.  We are in fact an old married couple, and have been able to complete each others sentences for years.  There are so many times we will just say a word or two before the other person agrees… because after almost two decades we know exactly what the other is thinking.  Without having a place of love and stability, I wouldn’t have the courage each day to put myself out here in front of you all.  For all of this and more I am very thankful for my wife.