Playing Dress-Up

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Quest for Bank Space

Be warned, I am really not sure how much this mornings post is actually going to be a proper topic… and how much it is just going to be show and tell.  Essentially last night was spent sifting through so many characters on so many different servers to unlock all of the appearances I seem to have available to me.  From there I started cleaning out the banks one at a time starting with Belghast my Warrior and for the time being my main.  This was shockingly hard work, and I ended up installing an addon to help give me some confidence to actually go through with getting rid of an item.  What I really wanted was a clear thumbs up or thumbs down on every single item much like Rift has stating that “you have this appearance”.  Caerdon Wardrobe works at least in a way that is most critical, but still I really wanted to see that message for every soul bound item “just to make sure”.  What the addon does do that is useful is for non-soulbound items it tells you that either you don’t have the appearance, or you have collected the appearance from another item.  As far as the soulbounds… I just took the plunge and accepted that over a decades worth of accumulated stuff really was in fact added to my account appearance collection.  This admittedly was a hard step, and one made no simpler by the fact that apparently Ark Inventory changed greatly…  and with every character I logged in I had to do a bit of remapping of some of the styles to get things to load correctly.  So I spent the night with Grace as moral support trudging through my bank…  while the rest of the AggroChat crew listened in while playing Final Fantasy XIV thinking we were absolutely insane.

Honestly Tam thought this was some sort of limited time event… but I somehow doubt that the rest of the crew takes appearance items nearly as serious as Grace and I do.  I mean Tam always has a spiffy glamour in FFXIV but he only has the one glamour and is not constantly rat-holing appearance items just in case someday he MIGHT want to use one for an outfit.  I have joked and said that wardrobes are the true end game… but I am being serious.  I have been more motivated in games when there is a cool piece of armor or a weapon on the line, than literally anything else you can dangle in front of me like a carrot.  As a result one of my favorite activities has been doing old raid content and collecting nifty appearance items to line my vaults for another day.  The problem being that quite literally on my Warrior I had seven inventory slots, zero bank slots, and zero void storage slots.  Every last corner of that storage was filled with weapons and armor that I under no circumstances would be willing to part with.  So a whole lot of my simply not playing the game… is because I had no room to keep accumulating items.  Last night had been a long time coming, and was a bit of a purge of my digital hording of stuff.  So in many ways selling all of those items was a liberating experience… but also one that terrified me at the thought that maybe just maybe the system would fuck up and I would end up losing everything.  Of note… I got every single fashionista achievement other than the shirt one from logging in my first character.  As the night went on the shirt achievement happened slowly while logging in a long list of alts that have otherwise been abandoned to the sands of time.

Show and Tell

Essentially the order of operations went a little something like this.  I first logged in every single character on my account…  which includes numerous characters on other servers that I have only ever played once or twice.  From there I focused in on chewing through my mains…  where I decided to sell off any gear that was not the current “best in bag” for my current spec.  I figure with the expansion only a few weeks away, I was going to be just fine being confined to a single spec per character for that moment.  I burned through my salvage crates and learned the appearances I did not already have… and mailed the extras off to Grace for her to sift through as well.  Of note she is doing the same thing, but I just realized that it might not work as well as I thought it would… given that I think you can only learn an appearance on a character of that armor type.  We will sort out the details of that later though.  Then I started tearing into the bank, offloading anything that did not have a nifty and unique use effect and selling it.  The only real speedbump here is the fact that a lot of the Naxxramas and Ulduar era class gear can’t be sold… so I will have to manually delete that at a later date.  The final thing I did before logging out of any character… was to set my talents and give my character an outfit for the occasion.  The rest of this post is ultimately going to be me posting pictures and talking about the outfits.

Belghast – Warrior

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This is my “Ready for the Legion” outfit, rocking the Illidari tabard and shield, and using the red/fel green version of the Icecrown Deathknight look-a-like armor.  As to whether or not this will remain my main for the coming expansion has yet to be seen, but for the time being I think I look awesome.

Belgrave – Death Knight

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Character number two on the list was my Deathknight, and also the point at which I learned that I can apparently now transmog legendary weapons?  I wanted to go with something fiery looking to match the Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros legendary weapon.  So I ended up landing on the black hand armor set from the garrison appearance vendor.  To go with it is one of the trading card game tabards, the Flame one to be specific.

Lodin – Hunter

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When this game launched I tried to make Melee Hunter a thing, and wound up tanking a bunch of the instances with a combination of myself and my gorilla pet.  Now that Survival is the honest and true melee spec… of course I am going to freaking use it.  As a result I wanted to come up with an outfit that worked with the new PVP gear I picked up.  This is one of those situations where it “sorta matches” or at least well enough to make me happy in combat, however as I look at it now I am starting to pick it apart a bit.  I am going to be “happy enough” for the time being.

Exeter – Paladin

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I tried a bunch of different things before finally settling on this outfit.  I wanted something purple for my paladin, but didn’t want to use the purple judgement set that I have often used in the past.  So I started with the purple tone deathknight icecrown set, and started shifting around bits until I was happy.  Once again I am using one of the card game tabards, this time the purple Tabard of the Arcane.  The end result is almost my favorite of the night… which is ultimately the next one.

Tallow – Shaman

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When Cataclysm introduced the ability for Dwarves to be shaman… I immediately race changed my then Draenei Shaman to be a proper Wildhammer Dwarf.  Ironically I also then turned my Dwarf Paladin into a Draenei one… but that is a different story.  I have always been enthralled with the whole idea of the Wildhammer Clan, and for this transmog I wanted something that felt almost wildhammery but still looked nice and armored.  So I ended up shifting to using one of the Warlords leveling sets… that I just happened to have the perfect set of hammers to go with.  I then decided to go with the Fel Goggles to bring out the Fel coloring of the hammers.  This was the last one I did last night before crashing but is hands down my favorite so far.  So that was ultimately my night, and tonight I will hopefully do the rest of this server.

 

Shamen and Pax South

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Prepping for Pax South

Tis the beginning of the year, and we are now roughly three weeks away from Pax South, and I have to say…. I am a bit concerned.  It is going to be an awesome time no matter what because right now I know of like a dozen friends that are going to be there… so going to have plenty of people to hang out with.  What concerns me though is it seems like Pax South as a whole is a much less hopping place.  By this time last year, all three days of the show were down to “low” rating, and Saturday and the Three Day Passes had been sold out for a very long time.  Additionally they had already posted a picture of the convention floor and who was going to be inhabiting what booth space.  As far as the passes, Saturday was still available on Friday… and just looking at the schedule there don’t seem to be as many “big name” presentations as there were last year.  Last year after all we had the world announcement of Guild Wars 2 Heart of Thorns happening, as well as I believe the first real information about Sid Meier’s Starships.  Now…  what I see instead is very light on the game content and very heavy on the youtube and stream celebrities.

All of this said I am going to have the best time this year…. because what made last year so much fun was running around with Ashgar and Rae.  This time around I will be running around with Ashgar, Rae, Thalen, Dallian, Damai, Lonrem, Helkim, Paragon, Tick, Rylacus, and hell probably several others that I am failing to rattle off on the top of my head.  It is the people that make the place awesome, and it is my hope to meet up with as many people as I can over the two days I am going to be there.  So if you are planning on going to Pax South please let me know.  I did a poor job of actually connecting with people last year and I hope to fix that.  The other thing that is going to make this year awesome is that I am no longer going to have to worry about somehow abandoning my wife.  Last year she went running around during the day, utilizing the hotels shuttle service, and by all accounts had a lot of fun, or at least enough fun to want to come back again this year.

The problem being that I always felt guilty for leaving her at the hotel and felt the strong pull to rush home at night so we could go out to dinner and such.  This time around we are also bringing one of her friends so she now also has someone to run around with and wander San Antonio.  What is hilarious is… she feels like I am being awesome, and I think its awesome because I will feel less guilty all the time.  This also means I will probably experience a lot of the nighttime content of Pax and go to the concerts and such, and maybe some of the after parties.  Granted on Saturday night I don’t want to be out too late… given that I will be driving the eight or nine hours home on Sunday.  In any case…. if you read the blog or you listen to AggroChat, drop me a line and it is my hope to catch up with as many people during that weekend as I can.  I will be getting into the hotel room late Thursday night, and I am staying about six miles away from the convention center out by the airport… in part because we had a great experience there last year…. and the whole free shuttle service to various destinations thing was awesome for my wife.  So yesterday we did a bit of juggling to change our arrangements, and now have a double suite so it should be awesome.  There was talk last night about maybe trying to get in together and see Force Awakens as a group while down there… since supposedly there is a theater a few blocks away.

Shamanism

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One of the things I am really enjoying about World of Warcraft right now is the ability to fly.  I realize that I was heavily in the “no flight in draenor” camp, and for the most part I still am.  That said… having it makes everything so damned much easier, and questing through the zones is greatly improved.  I feel like WoW content however desperately needs the grounding of players at the beginning of an expansion to keep folks from just blowing through everything instantly.  In the past once you had a single character at the new level cap you could purchase flight for your other characters, and that was a great option….  but an extremely expensive one.  I think personally I like the Draenor Pathfinder option because even though it was a pain in the butt to complete…  now that I have done it the benefit can be used by every single character on my account.  As a whole I am a huge fan of account wide unlocks and they actually make it far more likely for me to play other characters.  In Final Fantasy XIV everything that I have exists on a single character, and as a result I am completely disincentive from trying any more characters.  Same goes for games like Rift that while I have alts…  I always tend to play the same main character because he has the best toys.

I feel like playing an Enhancement Shaman is a little broken…. in a good way.  After having leveled several other characters, this one seems to be the easiest.  I can just straight up shred most mobs without my totems, or heroism….  but then I always have those things waiting in reserve for big mobs and elites.  The speed of killing things is just so damned fast, and since I have crafters that can feed me gear….  walking around with a pair of level 630 blue weapons really makes a huge difference.  I still don’t fully understand why the crafted blacksmith weapons start at 630 unlike the 640 that all of the other gear seems to start at, but in any case I am fine with it…. it is a huge dps boost over the weapons I am getting in the zones.  The thing that I cannot wait for in WoW however is the new transmogging system.  WoWhead, being the awesome folks they always are has put up a preview system to show you all of the transmog gear your characters are going to get granted from quest completion.  I am really really hoping that the new system is account wide like Diablo 3, because there are certain characters like this shaman that simply don’t have a lot of cool gear to work with yet.  I guess I should farm more old world content to get him a decent set to run around in.

Beatstick Acquired

Ice Ice Baby

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We are still functionally iced in, at least in the way that everything outside is coated in a thick layer of ice… including both vehicles.  This has been the weirdest storm however as it has clung to everything but the concrete.  Additionally the temperatures have remained at just the right place to keep the ice from melting.  This means for the most part the roads are completely fine.  It is just lack of caring that has kept us in the house.  By the manifest restlessness upstairs from my wife, I have a feeling this is coming to an end today.  We honestly need to get out and about to pick up the last few gifts in order to be done for the holidays.

Right now on twitter, I have the name “Belgrinch Stole Xmas” and to some extent it is not just clever use of my existing naming convention.  I tend to be a big of a humbug when it comes to the holidays.  Over the years bad things seem to fall near the holidays, and when you combine that with the fact that Christmas as an adult is a massive let down if you don’t have children.  My wife and I have not put up a tree in over a decade.  For children, Christmas still is a magical time but for me I just see the hassle of having to run between four households and shop for a bunch of people you literally only see once a year.  I wish so much we could make Christmas be Thanksgiving 2.0.

Thanksgiving is pretty much my ideal holiday.  People get together to share a meal together, and there is no expectations past that.  You just have some good food, good conversation and then everyone goes on their merry ways.  Instead we have an awkward exchange of time as everyone tries to avoid the inevitable gift exchanges.  This year because of my aunt’s dialysis the timing is all messed up.  Normally we do all of this on Christmas eve, but instead this year everything is pretty tentative.  We considered going up tomorrow so we could just spend time with the family members we want to without the rest of the three ring circus.  For me it is about spending time with my parents and my grandmother…  past that it just gets progressively more and more awkward.  Namely I am trying to avoid being around my bigoted uncles as they seriously destroy what little inner peace I have… and make me feel absolutely dirty for being around them.

Beatstick Acquired

I have chronicled the hunt for one-handed weapons over the last few weeks.  My guildies and I have been running daily Heroic Scenarios for a shot at the 516 weapons that can drop there.  Additionally I have been working my way through both Throne of Thunder and Siege of Orgrimmar.  Yesterday I spent most of the day queued for the various ToT dungeons that have a chance of dropping a weapon.  Turns out the in game loot advisor thingy doesn’t list everything.  It seems there is a series of weapons that can drop off every single boss in the instance, and after killing Jinrohk yesterday I managed to get one of them.  The mace pictured above is Zeeg’s Ancient Kegsmasher and comes from that list of alternative drops.  While not ideal, I wish it was a 2.6 speed weapon and not the awkward 2.4 speed… but it is better than what I had and I am extremely happy to get it.

Additionally I managed to get through the Underhold section of Siege of Orgrimmar which unlocks The Downfall and a shot at another one-hander off of the Klaxxi council event.  I am honestly not sure what it is about Underhold, but every single group I would get into would spontaneously disintegrate shortly after finishing Malkorok.  There always seems to be either a mass exodus immediately after finishing the boss, or after failing that first time to Spoils of Pandaria.  Last night… fairly late… I actually managed to find a group that oneshot every single encounter there… including captain lunchmeats himself… Thok.  I won’t lie, I am not sure if I will actually ever queue for Underhold again unless a guild member needs it for something.  The queue is around an hour generally, and with the lacklustre success rate it seems like a bundle of frustration I can simply live without.

Christmas Gifts Abound

So I am bad at this… let me start out by saying that up front.  My intent in this section is not to be “look what soandso go me, neener neener” so you are going to see some thank yous, without me actually listing who they are directed to.  I figure the people read my blog and they will know it is heart felt and directed at them.  First up someone very awesome got me Talisman Prologue from my steam list.  This is a game that I have thought about picking up so many times in the past but never pulled the trigger.  I love the Talisman board game, and even the crappy american version that Milton Bradley released called Hero’s Quest.  Despite how much frustration I have built up over the years… I am still a massive fanboy for Games Workshop and Talisman seems to be one of their purest gaming experiences.  Really looking forward to seeing how well the digital version translates.

I am a massive sucker for the sandboxy shooter experience.  Everything I have heard from friends and read has said that Farcry 3 really takes this whole concept up a notch.  As a result this is one of those titles I have almost bought half a dozen times.  But thanks to another amazing friend the decision was made for me.  Again I plan on devoting some of my two weeks of downtime to exploring this game.  Quite honestly… I have stuff on my steam wishlist as more of a reminder to myself, and because steam emails you when one of those titles goes on sale.  I never in a million years expected anyone to buy me something off of it.  Thank you guys very much, it made me feel loved.

Last but definitely not least…  the League of Legends Mystery Gift madness is back in full swing again.  For those of you who are not indoctrinated, you can send a friend a random skin for one of the champions they have.  The price is 450 RP but you are guaranteed to get a skin that is of higher value, but it will be assigned completely at random.  The coolest part about it is there is a chance of getting skins that have long been retired or for whatever reason removed from the game.  One of the skins I have always wanted but never picked up is Chosen Master Yi.  Who doesn’t want to play as a Jedi Knight?  Huge thanks to another good friend for sending me a mystery box and giving me this awesome skin.

Caroling in Ulduar

Tis the Season

It is that time of the year when we naturally reflect upon what was good and not so good from the previous year.  I myself am planning a post like this in the not so distant future.  However this blurb is not about that at all.  Yesterday the amazing Queen of Faff, Alternative Chat posted her very on audible review of the previous year.  It is most definitely worth a listen, but then again everything she does is worth a listen.  I have to say that while I knew of her before this year, it was a few months ago that I first listened to her podcast.  I have to say I am truly thankful for discovering it, because now along with several other podcasts I look forward to hearing each episode.

She brings a deeply thought out quality to the air that reminds me in many ways of NPR.  I am very much an NPR junkie so I think this soft spoken and rehearsed manner suits me very well.  In the podcast she has declared that 2014 will be the “Year of Faff”, and I wholly support this notion.  Before her I tended to view “faffing about” as a generally negative thing.  Now I have embraced my inner faffitude and find myself doing odd little things on a regular basis.  I look forward to seeing what directionless madness comes form this new venture.

Caroling in Ulduar

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Early in the week my good friend Rylacus, and the warden of House Stalwart while I was away… asked me if I would be willing to do an Ulduar run.  He needed a single meta achievement to get his 25 man proto drake.  I told him initially that I was not sure if I would be around, but if I was most certainly I would help out.  I have had both the 10 and 25 man versions of the drake for quite some time, but as I know the achievements pretty well I am always willing to help out.  Since last night ushered in yet another icebound weekend here in Oklahoma, I was most definitely available for faffing about in Ulduar.

My only requirement was that we try and get EVERYONE that came along their drakes.  No one seemed to mind and as a result we filled the ranks with tons of folks hopefully seeking their own.  Additionally we managed to knock out Algalon, who’s room is pictured above.  Most of the achievements quite honestly were pretty easy at 90, or at least easy if you knew what you were needing to do.  Yog’Saron of course takes a few tries mainly to remember exactly what we need to do.  The three of us that went into the portal went insane because we could not remember how to exit.  We then proceeded to murder everyone else in the raid.

After that little set back we pushed forward and got him on the next try earning everyone on their drakes.  Currently the only really annoying meta achievement is the “kill 25 dwarves with razorscale” one.  Initially we had this idea of just gathering up all of the dwarves and letting Razorscale enrage…  theoretically killing them all.  This would in theory kill us all, but we should have also gotten the achievement at the same time.  Two things we found out… firstly the enraged flame breath is still not enough to kill a dwarf that is sitting at full health.  Secondly we can easily survive the enraged form and ended up going four rounds after that in order to get all the dwarves.

Desperately Seeking Weapon

While I managed to walk away with some really cool transmoggy bits and two pieces of the tier 8 set, I did not further my overarching mission of finding some weapons for my shaman.  Granted I didn’t really expect to do so in Ulduar, but the Heroic Scenario that we ran beforehand proved both painful and fruitless.  My hope is today that I can finish running Siege of Orgrimmar and that the loot gods will smile on me and let me win the axe that can drop in the final part.  If this continues to prove futile I may just run Throne of Thunder as well.  I need to farm up the magical happy luck coins so I can turn them into extra roll chances for Siege, but I do not have the stockpile on my Shaman that I have on my other characters.  Other than this… I am going to try my best to stay warm and hopefully continue having power since the entire world outside is coated in an inch of ice.

Richer Than You Think

A Patch Awoken

Monday evening the Final Fantasy XIV servers were down to deliver the brand new 2.1 patch.  This is the one that everyone had been waiting for, that was supposed to deliver a ton of new content.  At one point I was anxiously looking forward to this update, because it held the promise of player housing as well as new dungeons to run to collect what we lovingly refer to as “bookrocks” aka Tomestones.  Now that the patch is live, I find that I can’t seem to be bothered to actually patch the game up.  Tuesday and Wednesday night I spent a bit of time hanging out in mumble with my friends who are still playing it, and they seem extremely excited about it overall.  The video below shows all the reported changes, and I will admit it seems pretty staggering.

 

However several of these things seemed to be tarnished by somewhat bad design.  The biggest of these that I have heard of is the housing system.  Currently it is oppressively expensive,  the day it was released I saw a tweet (that I seem to be unable to find at this moment) stating that they gained the first million gil towards their house… only 99 more to go.  That apparently is cheap… here is a listing of the housing prices on the various servers.  We are in group three, on Cactuar so right now it would cost 125 million gil to purchase the largest home… aka the one suitable for a guild house.  Considering prior to 2.1 there really was no way to make money at 50 other than crafting…  this seems insane.  The highest I have ever gotten with my character was 200,000 gil, and repair bills and components for my artifact weapon whittled that down to around 75,000 gil the last I checked in on the game.

Supposedly they have added in a bunch of new ways to earn money, which I guess is a positive.  However it does seem silly to roll out such an expansive and impressive system…  that no one can actually use on day one.  Supposedly over time the housing prices will fall, but that still puts the large house at 100 million gil at the absolute cheapest possible price.  Listening to my friends, they seem to be enjoying the new content.  The new dungeon Pharos Sirius seems to be genuinely difficult and to the best of my knowledge they have not beat the final encounter.  That was one of the interesting things about FFXIV dungeons, is that they had a 2 hour timer to get through them.  I feel like I should be excited about the prospects of the patch, but I just fine myself not caring at all.  Whatever magic I felt towards FFXIV seems to be gone for me, in the same way it has flickered away for so many other games.

Richer Than You Think

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This morning I achieved a personal goal… too bad it comes 2 expansions too late to be terribly impressive.  I have never been extremely successful at making money in MMOs.  I guess in the grand scheme of things it just has never really been a priority.  As a result I have always thought that I was broke, or at did not have a ton of liquid assets in game.  While I am still not anywhere near some of my guild members, I am was apparently doing better than I ever thought.  Awhile back I installed Titan Panel again, to help organize a lot of my informational gadgets in one place.  In trying to keep track where I was with all of my tokens I installed a Currency addon.  Interesting thing about it… is that it started to keep track of all of the money spread across all of my characters.

As of last night it showed that I had 25,000 gold distributed among all of my alts… five of which are 90 and in various stages of “raid ready”.  No character had more than 5,000 gold on them specifically, but spread out among all of the characters it added up.  Because of this I decided to realize something that had long been a goal for me.  With Wrath of the Lich king they added what has been ubiquitously referred to as the “Repair Mount”.  Since I do a lot of random killing out in the world, and solo farming of dungeons/raids… I find myself constantly searching for a repair vendor.  So many times I have thought to myself “man it would be awesome to have that mount”, but even with faction and guild discounts it was still 14,000 gold… which seemed like an insane amount.

I never would have purchased this back in the days before account-wide mounts… but the idea that I just gave every single alt the ability to repair whenever they hell they felt like it?  Sure 14,000 seemed like a reasonable price, especially considering I have branched out onto a second account of characters.  So this morning before sitting down to write my blog entry I shifted back and forth between all of my characters and began pooling my money on Belgrave to make the purchase.  I knew for certain he was exalted with Kirin Tor, the faction the mount vendor is sold on.  I have to say… I am freaked out a little that I just spent all that gold on a single mount, but within a few days that will pass and I will be happy with my decision.  There really is very little I want to purchase in the game at this point that my army of alt crafters cannot eventually make.  So I figure thanks to the mount I will be able to farm up more goodies to fill the coffers again.

Lucky Streak

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Most of the yesterday evening I spent working my way through Siege of Orgrimmar.  The first section of the dungeon went extremely smoothly and the loot gods seemed to be smiling upon me.  I managed to get a usable drop off three of the four bosses there.  Of course the first drop of the evening was a neckpiece… after purchasing the one with honor last night.  That seems like it is always the way however… when you upgrade a piece, you end up getting a better one almost instantly.  The second part of Siege however went extremely slowly as I had to complete it in two passes.  I was on the second boss of the first pass when my wife came home last night and needed my assistance.  After killing Iron Juggernaut I bailed from the LFR and did what she needed for a bit.

After coming back that meant sitting through another 30-60 minute queue and repeating the first two encounters without loot.  However that second run went far more smoothly than the first, and we had no wipes at all until folks lost focus during the Nazgrim fight.  That is not the type of fight that you can “burn down at the end”, since the not dealing with the adds means he very rapidly heals back all of the damage you are dealing to him.  During the second attempt however, folks stayed focused on the adds and we managed to defeat him in near record time.  My hope is tonight to come back and finish out the last two parts.  At 11pm I attempted to queue for the third, and it looked like roughly an hour queue so I gave up and went to bed.  Still no love for a weapon, but this next segment has the chance of dropping a weapon I believe.  So between it and my nightly habit of running a Heroic Scenario… I might have a chance.

Hole In Itemization

Just Too Good to be True

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I set out on a mission to attempt to earn a 498 pvp weapon last night through the justice point to honor conversion.  For the most part it went easy enough, and while there were plenty of mouthy folks in LFG the instance runs themselves were smooth enough.  I just kept my mouth shut and did my job as dps and pushed through it.  It is amazing how much it defuses a troll when no one at all in the party responds.  They make a few comments then quiet down themselves because no one is feeding them ammo.  For awhile last night I was thinking that this was really going to be an awesome way to earn starter weapons.  Unfortunately like so many great ideas this one had a massive flaw, that comes from the fact that I do not PVP… nor I understand how the PVP systems in any game work.

First flaw in the plan was the listed conversion rate was not 375 Justice Points to 250 Honor, but instead 500 Justice Points to 250 Honor.  This was manageable but basically meant that you had to earn 3500 JP to be able to get a weapon.  I did that last night without any real issue in a matter of hours.  Second flaw… and this one is the fatal one.  Apparently in order to purchase weapons with honor points, you have to have PVPed enough during the current season to earn 7500 honor.  Since I have not PVPed at all on any of my characters during this expansion, let alone the current season I simply cannot purchase weapons.  I have no desire to PVP enough to gain 7500 honor, which would be roughly 30 battleground wins.  In fact that sounds like just about the worst possible way to spend my time I could imagine.

Jewelry Is Nice

WoW-64 2013-12-18 06-18-07-16Since I had already taken the hit converting 3500 Justice to 1750 honor… I really had no desire to take the hit again and convert 1750 honor back to 875 Justice.  Other than weapons I have had a few glaring holes in my gear.  I was still using a crafted 450 necklace and a 450 ring.  While the weapons all require honor earned during the season to purchase, the gear however does not appear to have a similar requirement.  As a result I picked out a fairly decent neckpiece from the vendor for I believe 1250 honor.  This got me one step closer to my overall goal of being able to queue for Siege of Orgrimmar.

WoW-64 2013-12-18 06-24-20-30At this point I flew out to the Shadowpan Assault quartermaster in Townlong.  Sure enough they had a decent ring as well.  After plugging these two holes in my itemization and after picking up a slightly better weapon in the heroics I ran to get the stockpile of honor, I am now finally able to queue for Siege of Orgrimmar.  While I didn’t necessarily get what I wanted out of the nights activity…  I actually still got what I needed.  Maybe the rolling stones were right all along.

Hole In Itemization

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So after all of this, I return to the original thought process that there is a massive whole in itemization, at least from the standard late expansion “catch players up” mentality.  I got into a bit of a discussion of an aspect of this yesterday over on Twitter.  In previous expansions, there existed higher tiers of heroic level content.  The prime example of this was Trial of the Champion that helped catch players up in gear, both on normal and heroic modes.  Then later in the expansion you had the three instance story arc of Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection that ratcheted up the difficulty level as well as the rewards.  I can remember Halls of Reflection heroic still being a significant challenge in Icecrown raid gear.

While I love the concept of the Timeless Isle, and the whole explore to find nifty things ideas… they are quite literally giving us epics in the process.  This is extremely friendly to altaholics like myself, and has allowed me to gear out an army of 90s…  but I feel little to know sense of accomplishment from doing so.  The Wrath era sequence was probably my ideal for gearing. It felt significant gearing from heroic, to the trial 5 man and then finally being able to queue for the Icecrown 5 mans.  Additionally the gearing seemed far more complete, since each 5 man tier dropped a complete set of gear including workable weapons.

Now it feels very much like, “Gratz on 90, here is your epic gear” but while you can queue for these raids…  without having a way to get a decent weapon you become an instant drain on any group that ends up getting you.  There are weapons you can get on the Timeless Isle, but like I said yesterday they are cost prohibitive (20,000 coins for a one-hander, 40,000 for a two-hander) and at 476 they are simply not worth the effort and do not provide enough of a bump over 463 crafted/heroic weapons to make it worth your time.  Now that I can queue for Siege however I will hopefully get lucky enough to pick up a weapon that way.  Additionally I will continue to run my nightly Heroic Scenario, as the potential 516 weapon would be well worth the time spent.  Additionally these scenarios when run with a guild group put money in the guild coffers and count towards the weekly.

Crafting Hates Enhancement

My general theory is that this glaring hole was intentional… and by making it they did not want to devalue completely the 502 crafted weapons.  I have my own opinions on the whole “crafting should be best” line of thinking, but I can see why they would want this.  The problem however with this line of thinking is that there are simply not weapons available for every itemization.  For enhance… they tend to favor slow weapons… so that rules out the daggers.  That leaves Fist, Mace and Axe that are all usually 2.6 speed.  In the 502 weapon itemization there is not a Fist, Mace or Axe that is agility based.  The “rogue” weapon that is craft-able is a sword, which shaman simply cannot use. 

I know in the past this has happened with Druids and other “weird hybrid classes”, but the fact that other players can nod and say “I know that feel bro” doesn’t really make it any better to try and work around.  At this point I will start queuing my way through Siege LFR each week and hopefully in the process I will luck my way into a weapon.  If not hopefully one of my nightly guild heroic scenarios will pay off and I will get one or more 516 random stat weapons.  No matter which path I take however, my shamans fate is now in the hands of the random loot gods, which is never really a fun place to be.

Unicorns!

Unicorns!

unicorns

Quick… type Unicorns if you want to live!  I had to share this picture as it was pretty much my favorite thing from yesterday.  Typing of the Dead was one of the most quirky Dreamcast games I owned, so I was super shocked to see that there was a newer version available on steam.  I have no real interest in playing it to be honest, but this image particularly caused me several chuckles throughout the day.  I am using it this morning as a crutch to get me started typing.  So far this morning I have overslept, and since I really did not do a whole lot of gaming last night, I feel fairly empty of ideas.

My last night was spent with my wife, taking her shopping.  I feel overall it is a noble if not maddening pursuit, but since she would be in teacher conferences tonight and Wednesday night… I figured it was a needed one.  At least I got a good meal out of the ordeal.  She has decided she wants to look more “put together”, and stop wearing so many neutral colors.  As an art major, I keep getting called in to coordinate color palettes for her.  If left to her own devices she tends to try and match everything, instead of pick a simple but coordinated group of colors.  Hopefully overtime she will pick up what I am doing and I will no longer be quite so needed in the process.  However for now I am her shopping buddy…  but in truth I always really have been.

The Quest For Weapons

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I really like my dwarfy elemental shaman, and I pretty much play him whenever I have the chance.  Right now I am on a mad quest to get him a couple of decent weapons.  He currently is using two matched blue weapons, and I have been pestering the guild to run nightly heroic scenarios on the hopes that I will actually luck out like I did on the paladin.  I feel like even one weapon swapped would be enough to get me into Siege of Orgrimmar LFR, which is ultimately my goal.  The problem that I have mentioned before is that there are really no good weapons you can get for characters.  The weapons out on the Timeless Isle are 20,000 timeless coins for a onehander, which involves quite a significant amount of grinding.  The problem with them is that they are only 476 ilevel which is not really that much better than heroic blue/crafted 463.

I might be insane, but I really do not see that it is worth the copious amount of grinding that it would take to knock one of these weapons out… to wind up slightly better but still very much undergeared to do the latest content.  Another option generally are the 502 living steel weapons that are remakes of the weapon specialist items from burning crusade.  Two problems here, firstly they take a month of Living Steel transmutes to get.  Secondly there is nothing agility based that a shaman can use, the only agility weapon is a sword.  Lastly there is the option that I have been avoiding like the plague, PVP.

PVP Gear without PVPing

I am not a PVP player at all, and I believe the last time I did any PVP was Baradin’s Hold.  Even then it was an extreme rarity that I participated in that unless I also had a bunch of guild members backing me up.  PVP is the worst sort of treadmill to me, and each time I do it I feel like a hamster as I quickly run back from the grave yard only to be sent back again.  There may be a loophole I can exploit however.  It seems you can convert 375 justice points into 250 honor through a vendor.  So that means I need to get 2625 justice points per weapon that I can comfortably grind out in heroics.  That would get me a 498 Axe or more likely the Fist weapon, as I seem to prefer those on my shaman.

This is something I can likely do, as I can probably even convince guild members to “roflstomp” some heroics with me to fill the guild bank with money.  We did some the other night to bump me across the threshold of being able to buy the heirloom axe for my orc warrior.  This seems to be the stopping place for all of the alts in the guild, we simply cannot get decent weapons.  I could probably even organize some group effort of running heroics to get people the pvp weapons.  The stats are not ideal, as it has that nasty resilience stat on them… but overall just the damage alone makes it worth it.  They would be more than viable for Siege and would let people get their weapons up enough to do quite a lot of other things.  Granted these are not as good as the 516 ilevel weapons from heroic scenarios…  however it is something you can actually work towards without having to rely entirely on that mean on random number generator.

Transmutation

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.

Transmutation

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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.

Hearthstone

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.