The Leveling Game

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Buckling Some Swash

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Since the 7.0.3 patch landed in World of Warcraft, I have been more than a little obsessed with relearning classes given the significant changes to the bevy of talent trees.  On my rogue I have more or less always been combat, other than a brief flirtation with subtlety during vanilla thanks to knowing a few insane “sub” rogues.  If one thing should be certain by now is that I am not a huge fan of stealth mechanics, and my ideal “rogue” is that of a pirate or swashbuckler rather than assassin or thief.  As a result it feels like Outlaw the rebranded combat is essentially tailor made for me.  The spec itself is made up largely of huge sword slash moves and pistol shots, making it feel a lot to me like the Witch Hunter from Warhammer Online.  The core of the gameplay focuses around either a melee slash builder or short range pistol shot builder, coupled with a slashing combo dump and a long range combo dump that also happens to stun the target… but is on a rather long cooldown.  Other than these there is an additional combo dump called Roll the Bones which gives your character one or more buffs from a list of available buffs.  For those who raided during Wrath of the Lich King, it reminds me quite a bit of the way Deathbringer’s Will felt.  Completely unpredictable but when the buff is up it always does something interesting.  When the patch landed my rogue was sitting at level 91 and had barely seen anything past the Garrison.  As of yesterday I dinged 100 and have begun gearing him to at least do some basic content like LFR.

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Not to be undone by the new school rogue experience, I opted to start working on my druid again which I generally play as feral.  Feral mostly feels the same as it always has, which now represents the way combat rogue largely previously felt.  In some ways I am grateful that it didn’t change a whole lot, but in other ways I admit I am a little disappointed.  So many classes with Outlaw Rogue and Survival Hunter feel new and different and shiny…  that the ones like Feral Druid and Protection Warrior that stayed largely the same feel a little diminished.  Belgarou had been my character of choice for leveling during the AggroChat podcast for awhile now, and I had made slow and prodding progress.  However last night I made a serious push and went from just shy of 96 to 100 in a single evening.  Traditionally when I level characters I follow a basic pattern which will make completionists cringe.  I tend to say in Shadowmoon Valley until 92, and then immediately drop those quests and swap to Gorgrond until 94.  From Gorgrond I jump to Terrokar, and then again to Spires of Arak at 96.  Finally I reach Nagrand at 98 and continue there until I ding, with the theory that spending the maximum amount of time in that zone will mean I will have the best gear to start angling for the 620 item level that unlocks that first LFR.  The end result is a quick succession of zones each one giving me the maximum experience for my level and getting me to the level cap as soon as possible.

The Stable Fills

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I am by no means the fastest at leveling characters, but I am doing largely okay when I can actually stick with a game for any given period of time.  At this point I have eight level 100s, but that is nothing even vaguely close to the number that Grace has and hers span multiple servers.  In theory the next closest to 100 would be Belglorian my priest, but honestly I am not super enthused about leveling it.  At some point I want to try out the new Shadow with its Old God based lore, but I am in no real rush.  I mean it would be awesome to have my tailor at max level when Legion lands, but I am thinking it might be too “finger wiggly” for me at the moment.  There is of course my monk who is still sitting at level 53, but that means a return to more leather.  I am kinda getting tired of wearing leather, since I just finished off my rogue and druid back to back.  Also there is the problem that for whatever reason I have never been able to get into the flow of a monk.  I really enjoy playing pugilist in Final Fantasy XIV, and I had a Monk in Everquest II… but for whatever reason the World of Warcraft version doesn’t feel as interesting.  For me at least it feels very much like another dual wielding class, since I went the dpsy version.  Brewmaster tanking felt odd, and “Fistweaving” I have heard is no longer a thing… so more than likely that means I will always be a sorta rogue on that class.

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As a result it seems like my next leveling target is going to be the Warlock, because it is just finger wiggly enough for me to be able to enjoy it.  Additionally all that time I spent leveling my Arcanist in Final Fantasy XIV has taught me a greater respect for damage over time classes.  Generally speaking I have always been a demonology player, because I like running around with giant demon pets.  However I might branch out a bit and try something new, it all depends on if I can get the swing of the new changes.  In any case I am not exactly sure why I have been on this marathon leveling session, but I am mostly just going with the flow.  I think part of it is also my attempt to catch them all as far as appearances go.  I have added so many items to my wardrobe that it isn’t even funny.  The hope is that in doing this push I will get at least one leather and one cloth class that I actually enjoy playing, that I can run old world content with for those cloth and leather pieces that I seem to be missing.  I have a huge stash of plate and chain, because those are all classes that I play pretty frequently.  The worst seems to be the finger wigglers, so I am hoping that I can make the Warlock into a soloing beast to farm up awesome transmog sets with.  In any case… this has been my recent obsession and I thought I would share it with you.


Zubat Infestation

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So Many Zubats

Screenshot_2016-07-11-13-50-05I’ve slowed down a bit on the Pokemon Go namely because it is getting harder and harder to find new ones.  At this point I have captured 49 different critters out of the 52 I have seen, and I’ve noticed an extreme deficiency in the number of electric, fire and plant types.  I’ve spent my lunches roaming around to other areas of town, attempting to sort out where they might be hiding.  I would assume that plant types could maybe be found in a park, but as far as Electric and Fire types…  I have no clue at all.  The single Fire type that I have managed to pick up comes from a Chilli’s parking lot… which I found more than a little hillarious.  As far as electric types I have been near the electrical switching station in our neighborhood with little luck, but past that there is really nowhere that streams “electrical types”.  I’ve heard rumors that they often times come out during thunderstorms, but considering we have had several and I have not seen any yet I am doubting that one.  The reality is there are as many rumors for how to find specific Pokemon as there were for how to summon the Ancient Cyclops in Everquest, and I figure none of them are really true.  Given that this is a map based game, in theory everything should be based on some sort of obvious landmark.  Following that logic I keep wondering if I can go to a graveyard to find Ghost types, but I have not been willing to cross that line yet.

The huge truism however is that we have an over abundance of Zubats.  Right now they are way more common than quite literally any other type of Pokemon.  There was a point where I recently had 25 that I had captured and had just been too lazy to hand them in to the trainer.  I’ve made six different Golbats, and now am simply just ignoring the flappy critters when I see one.  Someone has been pretty much chain summoning lures on one of the Pokestops that I walk past on the way in and out of work… and every single time I get within range it is loaded with nothing but Zubats.  As I walk through the parking garage… more Zubats.  All of this is hilarious when I hear from Ashgar that he has yet to even catch a single one.  Then things that are super common for other people like the Oddish…  are next to impossible to find around me.  At some point I am thinking I need to make a trip over to Fayetteville because my friend TangerineDada has all sorts of Pokemon that I have not seen anywhere near me.  Then I ask myself… is it silly to take a road trip just for capturing Pokemon? Almost certainly but it is nonetheless entertaining.


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For a little bit now my friend have been talking about Necropolis, a new dungeon crawler from Harebrained Schemes the makers of the very awesome Shadowrun tun based RPGs.  This game keeps getting compared to Dark Souls, but I am not completely sure why the reference.  Essentially this is a rogue-like dungeon crawler with procedural generated levels.  This is the sort of game where you are not designed to get terribly attached to your character, because more than likely you are going to die quickly and often.  Similar to Rogue Legacy it has a mechanic built into the game where your deaths serve a greater purpose in that your actions garner favor with the deity of the labyrinth.  You can then purchase abilities at the scriptorium which tweak your experience allowing you to have more health, or hit harder all in an attempt to fine tune your character experience.  The concept of the game seems right down my alley, and the art style is reminiscent of Journey or any number of not quite realistic cartoon shaded games of late.

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The game however has a bunch of problems, that I am not sure if they are intentional or if they are simply bugs that will be patched out later.  Combat feels more than a little bit maddening at times in that there seems to be no limit to the number of things that can be registering attacks on you at the same time.  So this means that if you are unlucky you might round the corner and get six or seven mobs swarming you at the wrong moment.  Normally speaking in brawler type games this is manageable in that the game gives you invincibility frames in the form of being staggered… so that not every thing attacking you can actually register damage on you at the same time.  In Necropolis you can absolutely get surrounded and watch your health go from full to zero in seconds.  However for all I know there might be a scriptorium ability that changes how that works.  The other slightly frustrating thing is that combat feels a little sluggish.  I played with an xbox controller and right bumper is the light attack and right trigger the heavy.  Even light attacks are nowhere near as responsive as I would hope them to be, and heavy attacks require near perfect timing because of the extremely lengthy swing animation.  All of this said…  I enjoyed the little bit that I played and I want to figure out more of the game.  There are two kinds of unfair gameplay… the ones that make you just want to throw your controller across the room, and then the ones that make you want to figure out how to avoid the pitfalls of the system.  This at least for me appears to be the later, so I fully expect to play a bit more tonight and get a bit further.



Awesome Overload

ffxiv 2014-10-29 06-03-04-614 Yesterday was seriously one of the hardest days to get through I have experienced in a very long time.  When I troddled off to work the Final Fantasy XIV servers were up and back from maintenance, and as I worked all day long I would see little tid bits of information here and there about just how great this patch ended up being.  For the uninitiated yesterday was the release of Patch 2.4 “Dreams of Ice” which introduced a ton of new content, not the least of which is the Shiva primal encounter that the patch is named for.  It is truly staggering to think about the amount of content that has been released for this game since launch.  Roughly every quarter players get a major patch the size of 2.4, that generally introduces 1 to 2 new primal fights, 3 new hard mode dungeons, new main story quest chain, new Hildebrand story chain, new gear, new glamour bits, new hair styles and in this one they even introduced a brand new class and job combination in the Rogue and Ninja.  On top of that we seem to see at least one minor content patch each month, the last one added personal housing so still no slouch content wise.

So when you contrast that with other games that can go six months to an year without any new content, it is phenomenal.  This patch however is not with its controversies.  Up until this point everything that has been available in game has either been earned doing in game things, or through subscription rewards.  The game has some pretty insane subscription rewards that include tons of interesting mounts, pets and cosmetic items.  This patch however introduced the cash shop, and they sprinkled a few really awesome items on it, not the least of which is the Slepnir mount you can see me on in the above picture.  There is so much gnashing of teeth over the fact that this mount is $24, and the mini-pets on the store are $5 each.  At this point however a cosmetic shop just seems like the status quo.  One of the more interesting things they are doing with it is that each year there are unique rewards for completing holiday events.  To allow players to get previous items they are putting the older items up on the cash shop for a minimal fee.  Thankfully I have managed to pick up most of the holiday items I might want, but it is nice knowing that I could potentially get the items I missed during the Christmas events.

Focused Gameplay

ffxiv 2014-10-28 20-17-28-489 Though out the day yesterday I thought about just what I would try and tackle that night when I got home.  My focus was going to be on unlocking the three new hard mode dungeons so I could be ready to run them as the rest of my free company became available.  I could always queue for the dungeon finder and take my chances with strangers, but I would really rather experience this content fresh with a guild group.  There is something awesome about having to reason your way through the fights for the first time as a team, even if you fail to make the 90 minute timer.  Even with my laser focus…  there are certain things any proper Lalafell must do.  While wandering around Uldah I bumped into Sagacyte Luxaloix and before I knew it we were dancing the manderville as is Lala tradition.  Moments later we were joined by a friend of his Lirrianna Darkholme and there in the middle of the streets of Uldah we had an impromptu Lalafell dance party.  We were all very busy, but traditions must be observed and social graces administered.

ffxiv 2014-10-28 18-37-58-424 For those looking into unlocking the new content, there is an excellent blog post from a Lalafell blogger I just stumbled onto this morning talking about the start of each of the new content items.  After we finished with our customary dance party, I went on about my business of unlocking the dungeons.  Both Sastasha Hard and Sunken Temple of Qarn Hard were relatively simple to unlock, with fairly straight forward go and talk to this guy then go to the dungeon style quests that start in Mor Dhona.  For Snowcloak however it is yet another quest tied deeply into the main storyline.  So I set forth beginning that chain and two and a half hours I had reached a point where I was standing at the gates of the new Snowcloak dungeon.  When they put in new story content… they put in a lot of story content.  This however is what makes the game so damned phenominal, is that they keep moving the story forward and giving you a reason to care about the characters you meet.  As a friend said last night, it is not so much that your character is the “big damned hero” but more that your character is the social glue that keeps all of the good guys working together.  You are the one person they trust due to past interactions, and the lubricant to make things happen when something goes wrong.


ffxiv 2014-10-28 21-43-30-728 I did not actually intend to start a rogue last night, but I ended up picking up a new quest in Limsa Lominsa near the Aetheryte crystal that just happened to lead me to the guild.  I figured while I was there what was the harm of going ahead and unlocking the class.  The server has quite literally gone insane for Rogues and Ninjas.  The above photo is a scene from inside the Rogues guild in Limsa Lominsa, and there are even more folks milling around outside of the place.  The Fisherman’s Guild port has never seen this much activity ever, and really the guild does a pretty piss poor job of disguising itself with all these people swarming around it.  So while I picked up the Rogue I had no plans to level it until I got bored waiting around on a group to happen.  Last night myself, Tam and Ash hatched a plan to make the guild some money that we could stockpile for our guild airship.  Wanderers Palace is the bottleneck for the Relic weapon quest, in that you need a bloody weapon component to craft the precursor weapon for the entire quest chain.  For most classes these are common enough that you can pick up a high quality version of the weapon for 20-30k gil and just be on your way.

ffxiv 2014-10-29 06-31-26-080 This means that all of these newly minted rogues will need one eventually so that they can start down the Relic quest chain.  As you can see there are only two currently available on the Cactuar market system and they are holding steadily at 300k gil each.  The finished weapons are holding steadily at 500k gil a piece and both are in high demand.  So we thought we could run Wanderers Palace a few times and if nothing else stockpile some blades for the guild, and at best pick up a bunch to sell on the market while the demand is high.  We struggled to find a fourth, as there were a handful of folks available… but they all appeared to be either AFK or in a duty already.  So while we waited around for something to happen… I decided to start working on the rogue.  Overall the class is really damned fun to play, and in part it is the animations that make it so enjoyable.  You feel like a whirlwind of death as pretty much every attack is some sort of a spin move.  Additionally the way you hold your daggers… makes me actually kinda like wielding daggers.   They feel brutal and swift, instead of awkward stabby weapons like daggers feel in so many games.

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ffxiv 2014-10-28 22-50-01-227  The only problem is that everyone is playing a rogue.  This is what every fate looks like practically anywhere in the game right now.  An army of rogues, their chocobos and a blinding flurry of circular slashes as far as the eye can see.  As the second shot shows, some rogues have taken to putting Flash on their bar and run around gathering up all of the fate mobs while the rest of us hopelessly chase after them trying to do as much contribution as possible.  I remember fates feeling like this at launch, and in reality it is like we have returned to that post launch period at least a bit.  Additionally there are a ton of folks out there doing the fates as well trying to farm their Atma pieces, and it seems that the drop rates are in fact reasonable now.  I’ve heard tales of folks completing a full set of atmas in a single evening, but I still feel you need to be lucky to make that happen.  While I don’t so much care about my rogue, I plan on riding the FATE gravy train with my monk to see just how many levels I can squeeze out.

Broken Roulette

crazydutyqueue The influx of rogues has lead to some serious madness.  I have not actually tried to queue as one, but I saw this tweeted awhile back with someone being stuck in the queue for over 120 minutes.  DPS queues previously were 15 to 20 minutes on my server, and the low level roulette queues last night were reporting around an hour.  Thankfully none of this madness has hit Syrcus Tower yet, as my dragoon queue there was still near instant last night.  I feel like non-ninja dps will have a better shot at getting into dungeons, especially ranged dps since the game tries to match a ranged and a melee for each four man team.  In any case if you have a tank or a healer that you plan on leveling, right now is the ideal time to do it.  You will get instant queues and probably get the extreme gratitude of the ninjas inside the instance who have been waiting anxiously to do a dungeon.  This reminds me of the way Ifrit and Titan were shortly after launch.  My friend Tam used to queue doing “community service” as he called it.  One time he ran into a poor black mage who had been sitting waiting on Ifrit for 3 1/2 hours.  I am not sure if I will do it tonight, but I plan on working on my White Mage to help with the influx of folks queuing for things.

#FFXIV #Rogue #Ninja

Enter the Shado-pan

Who Needs Sleep?

It is amazing just how quickly your sleep schedule can be thrown off balance when you are on vacation.  Generally speaking I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and tend to go to sleep around 11:30 to midnight at the worse.  Since being on break for the last week I have managed to shift that to getting up around 10 am in the morning and having to take Nyquil to be able to have a hope of getting to sleep at 3 am.  Sleep has never been something that came easy for me, and in High School I even took a series of sleep studies to try and figure out the source of my frequent bouts of insomnia.  There would be days I just didn’t sleep at all, and as a result it became progressively harder to function.

The problem is because of my weight the doctor wasn’t actually looking for insomnia but instead he was dead certain he would find out that I really have sleep apnea.  Clearly he didn’t listen to me at all, because I told him I simply could not sleep at times.  So I got hooked up to all these machines, with electrodes super glued into my head… put in an unfamiliar room and told to sleep normally.  Apparently I had to sleep six hours for the test to be valid…  I don’t think I slept at all.  As a result I have never attempted too investigate what is actually wrong with my brain that keeps it form shutting down at all.

I am jealous of my wife, because she can take two naps in the same day and still manage to get a full nights sleep.  Me on the other hand if I doze off for 30 minutes during the day I am screwed and will not be able to get to sleep at all during the night.  I have another week before I go back to work, so during this time I am going to work on trying to train my body back into a normal schedule.  This morning I woke up at 9 am, so it is happening gradually.  I just know 5 am next Monday morning is going to be pure hell if I don’t act now and try and do something proactive to fix this.

Enter the Shado-pan

Wow-64 2013-12-30 02-23-11-74 Yesterday morning shortly after blogging I did my recent scan of the auction house and found another one of the extremely amazing Fist of Fate weapons.  These things really are ideal for leveling a combat rogue or enhancement shaman, as they quite literally cannot be beat before 90.  Since I had a pair of claws… I decided I had to go get my favorite claw graphic ever.  During Zulgurub era the coolest you could think as a melee was the matched set of claws.  One dropped from the tiger boss, and the other from the panther boss, and to my knowledge I have only known one person who actually wielded the set during the time they were viable weapons.  Vexa looked amazing with both of them, and even more amazing when the weapons would proc and she would turn into this awesome were-tiger.

During Burning Crusade they introduced a set of rare vendor purchased claws that had the same graphic.  So immediately after equipping the second Fist, I made the trek out to Dealer Jayden at Stormspire in Netherstorm and purchase the Nexus-Claw.  In the above shot you can see me wielding the set and looking otherwise badass.  Sadly the lookalikes don’t proc, especially when transmogged…  but that would be a nice change for the future.  If you transmog something it would be awesome if it also transmogged the proc graphics.  Who doesn’t want to be a badass looking werepanther?  Honestly the trinket that I am loving is the one my paladin has that turns me into a random troll tribe.  I feel like I am one of the few people out there who is not sick of troll instances.  I have a special love for Zul’gurub, Zul’Aman and was supremely disappointed that we never had a Frost Troll raid in Wrath of the Lich King.

Yesterday I had another one of those days where I simply did not want to leave the house (much to the chagrin of my wife who is getting more than a little bit stir-crazy).   As a result I worked my way through my normal leveling path, taking off and going to Kun Lai as soon as I could, and then again transitioning to Townlong.  I am currently 89 and working on the totem of rage quest series in the second Shado-pan hub.  My hope is this evening to finish leveling to 90, but we may or may not have a flex raid.  I have a feeling we are going out into the world today, as my wife wants to hit some stores.  My hope is that Monday things will not be terribly busy as most folks will have had to go back to work today.  I still have another week off, so plenty of time to faff about and finish leveling the rogue.

Accidental Achiever

Outside is Evil

Yesterday we recuperated from the whirlwind shopping trip around Joplin Mo.  It was a pretty glorious day to be honest, because we were both in hibernation mode.  We talked for a bit about getting out, because it really was a lovely day.  But when it came to actually getting up and doing it… we both failed the willpower check.  Personally I am completely fine with this notion, that we both stayed in, ate three meals in, and overloaded on relaxation.  I hung out in my fuzzy blanket cocoon on the sofa and she upstairs in her loft of power (that you all will remember once it was my game loft). 

I have a feeling that once summer happens the roles will switch with me inhabiting my office and the loft and she the downstairs, but it is cool that we have our own places and are still within vocal range of each other.  I played a ton of World of Warcraft, attempted to play a closed beta I got into… but suffered from severe graphical issues that made it completely unplayable, and snuggled with my ferrets each and every time I passed their cage.

Accidental Achiever

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I rarely if ever set out to master a tradeskill in a game, but instead it is a thing I usually do out of an odd sense of commitment more than anything.  Lately I had been on a mission to level my rogue so I could get a transcriptionist up high enough to be able to start making living steel.  I want the 30 bars that it takes to craft my Sky Golem pretty badly.  So yesterday I was not paying much attention was I was pushing my way to 600 alchemist when immediately after getting it, I also got the Master of All Achievement.  Sure enough… now that I think of it… I do have a max crafter of every profession.  The only disappointment is you get exactly nothing for it… except for 75 achievement points.

This is a pretty massive undertaking if someone was to actually set out specifically to do this achievement.  I think it is worthy of a crafting tabard, mount, or at the very least a title.  I feel like this is a pretty massive oversight on the part of blizzard.  Then again crafting is kind of its own reward.  Being completely self sufficient feels amazing.  Additionally you end up needing to hit the auction house far less often because your army of crafters can make damned near everything you would ever want made.  It is a pretty great feeling knowing that you can make an entire set of gear for a friend, as I did for Scarybooster yesterday.  In a matter of moments I had a starter set of gear for level 85 ready for him, and I did the same thing for my rogue Gloam.

A Vicious Sneak Thief

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Speaking of my rogue, I am roughly halfway through Jade Forest and as of yesterday am about halfway into 87.  I should finish up and ding 88 before I finish the area, and will likely skip Valley of the Four Winds entirely and go straight to Kun Lai Summit.  When I am trying to power my way through to 90 the path I tend to take is to milk every last drop of experience from Jade Forest, transition to Kun Lai immediately after and then transition to Townlong as soon as you get the quest starter to go there.  Finally this ends up with you either dinging 90 in Townlong or doing so just inside of Dread Wastes.  Granted this is complete shit for your quest completion, but I figure it also gives you a lot of “questing to make gold” time if you so choose it at max level since xp gets converted up to gold.

Granted I have yet to actually do that one of of my 90s… since as soon as I hit maximum level I start going through the paces of trying to gear out the character and such.  I am such a sucker for getting my characters those purples and am willing to sit through all manner of horrible LFR experiences just to do so.  I should however have most of a set of timeless leather stocked away and ready for this guy when he needs it.  I will just have to figure out how best to get the weapons.  This time around I will likely just craft him a set of 463 agi swords and call it good until I can get something decent from LFR.  Once I finish his leveling the characters I really need to work on are Belghast, Exeter and Belgarou as they are woefully behind Tallow and Belgrave in gear levels.  Oh well… the faffing about with my characters never seems to end.

Mecha Belgrave

Mecha Belgrave

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

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

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

Graduating the Cataclysm

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

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

Onwards to Joplin

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

Matter of Perspective

Unexpected Route

Yesterday I set out with the mission of running the rest of my characters through LFR, but after some frustrations with a couple of bad tanks… I decided to retreat into the comfort of leveling.  The problem is…  leveling through Wrath content feels extremely slow.  The way they lay quests out just is not conducive to burning through them.  I began the day at 71 and after a  few hours I had finally dinged 72, so I figured I would take a break and run a dungeon.  Apparently somewhere along the way I had forgotten just how good Wrath era dungeon experience was.  I quickly shifted from questing my way across north rend to chain running dungeons.

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I am generally the most anti-pug person you could imagine, but for whatever reason as I said the other day… if I am dpsing I have the patience of a saint generally.  What I found surprising however was just how painless the whole event was.  We had one tank rage quit because we did not clear the optimal number of mobs, and someone aggro’d one pack too many.  After calling us all noobs and leaving we got another tank within seconds and completely the dungeon without issues.  We had another tank that did not know which way he was going in Gundrak and after going swimming with the angry fishes for an extended period of time several of the people afk’d out of the dungeon, and I joined them.  Other than those two instances… I had 26 instances of success.

At times the group was chatty, other times they were utterly silent.  In all cases however we succeeded without much effort.  It feels like they have nerfed the dungeons to the point at which anyone can run them without much thought.  As a rogue I pretty much spammed Fan of Knives as we pulled huge packs of mobs.  I found it surprising how quickly I hit 80.  Thanks to the handy dandy statistics inside of World of Warcraft I know I ran exactly 26 dungeons to get from 72 to 80, which was the better part of a day.  However this is definitely the express elevator through wrath content, and I feel like I will do this with pretty much all of my alts that have yet to clear that hurdle.  In fact I am considering today once I have gotten a bit of gear, to do the same with the 80-85 climb.

Matter of Perspective

Maybe my fear and loathing of pugs is unfounded?  Maybe it really is a simple and efficient way to level?  Maybe chain running LFR has just given me a perspective on what I should expect from others?   In any case it was not nearly the traumatic experience I had expected.  I figured I could stomach anything for a single group, however I found the experience rather refreshing.  It may simply be that at this point everyone knows the wrath instances like the back of their hand, and can pretty much run them on autopilot.  In any case I might have to revise my opinion of pick-up groups.  That’s one of my good traits however is that none of my opinions are so intractable that they cannot be changed.  After all I had sworn off World of Warcraft for years, and now find myself enjoying the hell out of it again.  Just like everything in life, I feel that it is all a matter of perspective.


Trolls of Thunder

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Yesterday went pretty much as I had intended it.  I hung out around the house and ran first my Paladin and then my Shaman through a bunch of LFR.  Things went a bit slower than intended since I kept getting in on the end of a run and having to queue again to catch the first boss or two.  I managed to get both characters up into the 480ish range.  Still no real luck with the weapon drops, which seem to be the issue with catching characters up enough to be able to do Siege of Orgrimmar.  As a result my warrior, paladin and shaman are all using 450 level weapons still, and I have not really had much luck with getting spirits of harmony on the smith to be able to bump those up to 463.

Of the options I have at my disposal for weapons, none of them really seem palatable.  I could queue for heroic dungeons and have a random chance of getting the dungeon that drops a weapon… and a random chance on top of that of getting the weapon to drop.  This would only take me to 463, so not really great in the grand scheme of things.  I could farm timeless isle coins, but it takes 10,000-20,000 to be able to purchase a weapon…  and in those cases the weapon is only 476 which really doesn’t help that much.  So the best option still seems to be to queue for Throne of Thunder each week and hope, all the while trying to accumulate Spirits of Harmony for the smith.


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With all of my crafters going, I have really felt the lack of my alchemist.  There are some pretty sweet items you can make as a blacksmith that are 502 ilvl but they require lots and lots of Living Steel.  Once again the only way to get living steel is to get it transmuted by an alchemist.  As a result I have been directing my extra effort towards leveling Gloam my rogue high enough to be able to raise his way through the Pandaria alchemy.  Currently he is capped out at 450 and cannot progress again until I level 75.  As a result I have been working on quests out in Borean Tundra and I almost have him up to 72.  Thinking about just making a serious push to try and get him to 90.

Rogues are way squishier than I remember, and while they have recuperate it doesn’t seem to offer the level of survival I am used to with my other characters.  As a result leveling the rogue has been less than enjoyable.  I am not really a stealthy person, and I have always played my rogues more like a swashbuckler than an assassin.  However the only time combat goes really smoothly is if I make sure I stealth up and get my opening attack.  Hopefully with time I will get back into the swing of playing one, as in the past… burning crusade especially my rogue was my favorite alt.

The thing I find most humorous is that Paladins now kinda play like rogues.  I have been doing a lot of Retribution paladin, and the mechanics are almost exactly like a rogue.  Thing is in many ways it works better.  Instead of everything being based on 5 combo points, all of the attacks seem to be based on 3 even though your bar can fill to 5.  I keep thinking that rogues as a whole would benefit if most of the combo point dumpers capped at 3 as well.  I think this is why I enjoyed my warrior in rift so much as opposed to my rogue.  The three mechanic just seemed to work better, it made the game play feel more “in the moment”.

Too Many Choices

Right now I feel absolutely deluged with choices anytime I play the game.  At this point i have yet to run Siege of Orgrimmar LFR on Belgrave or Belgarou my two best geared characters.  I am 4 coins away from getting all of my sigils of power and wisdom, so I would not mind finishing that off so I can continue down the legendary cloak line.   I have not even begun to work on Belghast, so in theory I could get his gear in order and start doing heart of fear or something like that to get him high enough to queue for Throne of Thunder.  Additionally I really do want to get my rogue up so I can have a transmute spec person again.  I spent a good amount of last night prior to our 10 man catching his herbalism up so he can now at least harvest whatever I come across in northrend.

In the past when I have quit the game I feel like it has been because I lost sight of the things I wanted to complete.  I feel like I almost need to create a World of Warcraft Bucket List.  There are so many little things that I forget about that I do want to complete.  There are so many pets and mounts that I could be spending my time farming.  The entirety of all of this is really almost overwhelming.  I have never completely loremaster for example, and that’s a thing I have always wanted to do.  I doubt I will ever work on the Insane title like Rylacus, but I am sure there are hundred of other little bullet points that I would actually enjoy.  I feel as though if I had a list of these all, it would be much harder for me to lose sight of the progress I am making towards the total.

As a result I think I am going to add a new section to my site, similar to my beta list for my WoW Bucket list.  As I think of more items I will add them to the list and then as I complete them…  I will check them off the list.  Probably will keep it as a google spreadsheet for ease of use.  I’ve seen a few other players with these and I thought they were pretty cool.  All I know for certain is that I am having a blast with all the players that seem to be back from their own hiatus.  It is wierd to see my battletag/realid lighting up with players I have not seen in years.  At the end of the day, this game really is about the people you play it with.


Battle of Cards

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I am getting around super late this morning to make a blog post.  On a whim I decided to take Friday off, since for my wife it was her fall break.  I figured the two of us could hang out around the house or do whatever.  Then over night I noticed a rather frantic message from my boss.  It seems like after 5 his boss had requested something by noon today… that would involve a lot of feedback and information from us worker bees.  So as a result I got up around 8 am, got dressed, went out and grabbed breakfast and have been remote into work for the last hour working on the list of information.  As a result… my normal early morning post is delayed.

Yesterday I was extremely pumped to get home, because over night I seemed to have received an email from Blizzard saying that my account had finally been flagged for the Hearthstone beta process.  Since everyone and their brother is live streaming this on Twitch… I am assuming there is no actual NDA going on… or at least not one currently enforced.  So as a result I snapped multiple pictures last night as I played and will be weaving them in here and there.  I have to admit I went into this a bit skeptical… not really sure if I would like it or not.  From the video I had seen, everything about the game feels rushed much like a LFG dungeon group.  Even though you rarely think more than one round ahead… there is still a lot of strategy going on.

The Education


Day[9] has a really good series of videos walking through his first experience with the game, and I highly suggest you watch it if you are curious about how you get into the game.  Basically Blizzard has done an amazing job of user education, in that to get started in the game you HAVE to play through a tutorial.  Fortunately it does a really good job of slowly introducing you into the various mechanics, and as a result you can pick up the strategy of the game extremely quickly.  You play through a series of NPC card fights…starting with Hogger and finishing with an Azerothian Super Villain that I won’t spoil for now.

Once you have finished with the tutorial it has taught you basically everything there is to know about the Mage deck.  Essentially the decks are all themed after one of the World of Warcraft classes.  I notice that Deathknight is conspicuously absent… so they must be intending to add that in as an expansion opportunity.   For those who are familiar with the Duel of the Planeswalkers series of MTG games for consoles and steam… you will be used to the way you progress from here.  Now you can take your mage deck and challenge the other classes, by defeating them you unlock the ability to play as that class.

The Sticky-ness

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The biggest surprise for me is just how sticky this game was.  I got home around 5 pm and started playing around 5:30.  I ended up playing this game without pause until around 9:30.. and only then because some guild members needed me to tank a FFXIV dungeon run.  I have to say that is fairly unheard of for me, when it comes to card games.  I have copies of all of the Duel of the Planeswalker games that have been released, but have maybe logged 50 hours total among ALL of them.  There was just something about the physical card game experience that never quite translated to the online version.

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Last night over the course of the evening, I managed to unlock all of the different class decks.  At various points through the evening I was rewarded with either gold or actual packs of cards.  The game uses a quest like system to give you little goals to work towards.  If you look above you can see that in the screenshot I have 2 of the 3 wins needed to earn 10 gold.  There was another quest I had to level one of the classes to 10, and in doing so I unlocked a pack of cards.  Essentially it seems like there are two kinds of cards you can get… Basic cards that are unlocked through completing quests and scenarios and leveling… and Expert cards that are unlocked through either purchasing or winning packs of cards.

The Money

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Since this game is free to play, you have to be asking yourself… where do they make money.  Well like always with any card game it is in the packs.  I took a screenshot of the current store interface.  You will notice that the packs that be bought with either in game gold currency that you earn by completing achievements or be purchased with real world currency.  You can purchase a single pack with 100 gold, 2 packs for $2.99 ($1.49 each), 7 packs for $9.99 ($1.42 each), 15 packs for $19.99 ($1.32 each) or 40 packs for $49.99 ($1.24 each).  So as you can see in buying in bulk like you would expect you keep getting more and more of a discount on the per pack price.

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Through the course of play last night I earned 5 packs of cards either through a combination of gold or actually winning the packs outright.  I have to say the sound design and animation are amazing… and really capture the same excitement of opening a real pack of cards.  You can double click the pack to open it… or for a more tactile experience drag it open.  Similarly all five cards in a pack come flying out onto the screen… but do so face down.  This allows you to flip them over one by one similar to sifting through a physical pack of cards.  They know their audience well and have put in a number of tactile hooks to increase the sense of suspense to see if you have something good or not.

Versus Players

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Currently you have the option of playing progressively harder NPC decks, or setting out and playing some physical players.  Quite honestly I have found playing players a bit easier than playing the expert decks.  There are two PVP modes of play… the first of which is simply building a custom deck and then taking it on the road to fight against other players.  The second of which is the Arena, which serves as this games “draft” mode, giving both a more random experience but also potentially a more balanced one.

I am not sure if this regenerates but you get at least one free Arena token, after that it appears to either cost 150 in game gold or $1.99 to unlock additional tokens.  In the Arena you choose a class and then are presented with a series of three cards.  The card you keep goes into your arena deck, and the other two are discarded.  This continues on until you have chosen 30 cards for your deck.  An Arena deck lasts until you have lost three times.  At the end of the match you are rewarded based on how well you did.  For me I got 2 sacks of gold 2 packs of cards and a rare paladin card for playing.  I won three times and lost three times.

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The interesting thing about the Arena is the fact that you don’t have to play it all in one sitting.  So long as you have not lost your three matches you can continue playing arena.  There is some bar of gems that fills up each time you win, but I am not 100% certain how that works.  You might get punted out of the Arena if you win too often as well.  Last night I played through a single arena match and then was off playing custom games with players.  My little hunter deck seems to be doing pretty well, so I will likely return to doing some of that today.  I have to say I am very pleasantly surprised in just how good of a game Hearthstone is.

Mayhem in Mathosia

Just a Gigolo

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Last night I was feeling fairly antisocial.  I logged into Rift for a little bit, but was feeling overall meh about the game, especially since I knew the bulk of the guild would be in FFXIV anyways.  I still feel bad about the fact that almost all of the Rift guild moved rather abruptly to Final Fantasy… but that just kinda happens with recent games.  Since I was not super amped about doing things with people… I decided to run around as a Bard and grind FATEs.  I have been working up the class so I could have something dpsy to play when we had too many tanks and not enough other things.  I had originally intended this to be my Dragoon that is sitting at 32…. but as I started to play the Bard it just leveled so much faster.

At level 45 in FFXIV you get a series of quests that give you four of the 5 pieces of your archetypal class look armor.  This is commonly referred to as the Artifact gear and through the first series of quests you get every slot but your chest piece.  This often leads to some bizarre looks, but honestly I am not sure the bard set COULD look goofier.  I am somewhere between a rockstar, a gigolo and a movie style gypsy.  In no case does this make me feel epic and awesome… and in the matter of a single quest I went from looking like the Dread Pirate Roberts to David Lee Roth.

Vanity Slots to the Rescue?

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Supposedly there are vanity slots on the way… and they seriously cannot get here soon enough.  I am mildly depressed to think I will have to wear a pair of pants that look like they were crafted from a circus tent until then.  The above image is the set I loved to wear…  Foestriker.  This comes from the first three dungeons… and I have been slowly gathering the rest of the pieces of the outfit.  Everything about the look seems epic to me… and I felt like the elite archer I was supposed to be.  The bard outfit on the other hand looks like I am 5 years old and got to dress myself for the first time.

Apparently I am not alone in this assessment, as most of the major forums have at least one “wtf is wrong with the bard gear” thread.  Overall most of the other class outfits I have seen have been amazing looking.  Dragoon looks like everything you would expect it to be, as does Warrior, and Paladin looks very much like the defensive tank that they are supposed to be.  Even Scholar with its quirky “I bought this jacket at an army surplus store” looks pretty cool.  So right now the bard outfit seems to be the “Moon Moon” of the crowd.  Which is kinda sad… considering just how amazing the bard class as a whole really is.  If I knew just had bad I would end up looking… I might have focused on leveling up the dragoon instead.

Server Shuffling

2013-10-03 06_31_06-I need server transfer now! - Page 9Yesterday it was announced that Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn would soon open up server transfers.  In an attempt to reunite friends and loved ones… the first five days of server transfers will be completely free.  This is generally an extremely good thing… since there were a few Stalwarts who were not patient enough to play the “get on Cactuar” game that usually involves creating characters at odd hours.  The only negative is that if you look at the list below… our realm is specifically flagged as one of the three US realms that are extremely highly congested.

As a result… the opening of server transfers may make our server queues even worse.  Essentially every night there is a very small queue when we attempt to log into the server, the hope is that even if the queues increase we will never have to go back to using our login macros to get through the sea of 1017 errors.  As a guild we would consider moving elsewhere, but it would mean starting over from scratch and moving separately.  It feels like they planned this poorly in that they did not offer a guild move option.  Currently we have essentially maxed out our guild, and all the frenetic questing of the first few weeks in part is what pushed our level up to where it is now.  Without the assistance of the quests… it would likely be far harder to reach.

Additionally we have almost maxed out our faction with the Immortal Flames… which means we could consider switching factions and starting the process of leveling our reputation there.  So the prospect of having to discard all this progress and start from scratch just does not seem like something we would want to do.  We have very few people on other servers, so for the most part it is not a huge ordeal.  I imagine that the folks transferring TO Cactuar however will have to do it during off peak hours, which could be a bit tricky since there is only a five day window to get that free transfer in.  No word yet has been posted as to when the server transfers will begin.

Mayhem in Mathosia

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I think this week why I have been so focused on trying to push up the Bard is that I know I will be spending most of my weekend playing Rift.  Last week they announced a brand new server event called Mayhem in Mathosia.  The goal of the event is in essence to get Rift back to its roots… massive large scale invasion events spanning multiple zones.  During the event there will be unique planar drops that include new colors of Hellbug Mount, a unique Kirin, and some cosmetic gear.  I want it all…  I want it now.

The schedule looks a little something like this…

Phase 1: Friday, Oct. 4 – Saturday, Oct. 5 – Silverwood / Freemarch
Phase 2: Sunday, Oct. 6 – Monday, Oct. 7 – Gloamwood / Stonefield
Phase 3: Tuesday, Oct. 8 – Wednesday, Oct. 9 – Scarlet Gorge / Scarwood Reach
Phase 4: Thursday, Oct. 10 – Saturday, Oct. 12 – Moonshade Highlands / Droughtlands


So I will likely be spending most of my time over in Rift this weekend and most of next week trying to gather up all the goodies.  I will of course be popping back into FFXIV if someone needs a high level dungeon run, or to help out with instances as needed.  We have been trying our best to be available anytime a guild member is on high center due to needing to do a specific dungeon run.  I still would like to get my rogue to level 60… but the 50+ leveling just feels like a tedious process.  Which is a bit disturbing considering I am right now playing a game where I am forced to level unaided by quests.  By completing enough of the various invasions you can win the unique appearance Hellbug above, so that will be what I am working towards.