Memory is Fleeting

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With all of the recent talk about the World of Warcraft classic server, I have found myself contemplating a lot of things about the game.  We recorded a podcast episode where we basically spent the entire time trying to determine just how vanilla classic would end up being.  The other side effect of all of this is that I seem to be playing my horde warrior over on scryers quite a bit more than usual.  Now if you were to ask me to rank the current expansions to the game that ranking would look a little something like this…

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. The Burning Crusade
  3. Legion
  4. Vanilla
  5. Mists of Pandaria
  6. Warlords of Draenor
  7. Cataclysm

Notice that number one and number two are the second and third expansion, and that weirdly enough I rank Legion above Vanilla.  What you are seeing is that my memory of these expansions and the nostalgia that colors them does not adequately represent the experience of actually playing through them.  I’ve recently leveled through the Burning Crusade content in a fashion given that you end up dinging your way out of it long before you actually finish much of it.  I did do Hellfire Peninsula in its entirety, the majority of Terrokar and a good chunk of Nagrand.  I left the Cataclysm tainted Vanilla lands at 58 and similarly left the Outland at 68 and as a result have spent the last four levels completing pieces of Borean Tundra.  The reality I am straddled with is that the zone design of the first two expansions is simply not good.  I mean at the time it was released it was world better than anything Vanilla had given us and as a result felt like a breath of fresh air, however when you stack it up against modern zone design from say Legion…  it is objectively not as well designed.

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What I mean by this is that the quests don’t flow cleanly from hub to hub and instead it forces you to do a lot of travel time back and forth between a hub and its related spokes.  All the while I was leveling through Outland and so far in Northrend it feels like I am spending a lot of time needlessly travelling between two destinations and this might have been the initial intent.  However after seeing modern quest design it feels like I somehow failed and allowed my quests to get out of sync.  If you fight your way through a micro dungeon with quest A you often find that upon turning in you now have another quest requiring you to go back there.  It is maddening to have to wade through an army of minions to kill a boss that you were already next to and sometimes even killed while completing the first quest.  The other that adds to this feeling of tedium is the mob density and having no real way to get in and out of these destinations without a heavy body count.  Thankfully on my warrior racking up a heavy body count is fun, but on other more fiddly classes this causes the leveling experience to grind to a halt.  The truth is it will probably have taken me twice as long to level through Outland and Northrend as it will have to push through the next three expansions.

As games mature their design ethic shifts significantly and we forget what it was actually like to play these games at the time.  When it comes to Classic World of Warcraft for Project 99 in Everquest… what we are chasing is a feeling not an actual honest moment in history.  I think when players say that they want to play Vanilla again…  they want to return to a time when not everything was mapped out quite so clearly and they had a sense of accomplishment and discovery each time they looted a kobold (and the game subsequently froze).  This is why World of Warcraft Classic is going to be the challenge it will be.  That experience means different thing to different players, and none of the calculations that a game company can make actually take the social component into play.  When I think of Vanilla or Burning Crusade or even Wrath, those memories involve very specific sets of individuals that no longer play the game and I might not even have contact with.  For Vanilla it was the Late Night Raiders, and Burning Crusade it was No Such Raid and when Wrath launched we were excited to be the Duranub Raiding Company.  Three non-guild based raids dominate those feelings and memories and the simple fact that I went through three separate raid groups tells you that there is no way to actually ever join those broken pieces back together again.  All of this said I will have characters on the Classic server, and I will see how this experience actually shakes out in the end.  I just feel like it is going to be exceedingly difficult to please even a fraction of the player base because we all want something different.

Snipers and Hellboars

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One of the core problems with Destiny 2 is that progression is all about luck.  What I mean by that is especially as you wind down towards the end of the power curve, everything lives or dies upon what you happen to pull from your powerful engrams each week.  Once upon a time SquirrelPope told me that he started getting random world 300 blues when he hit 299.5 on his base light level.  I’m at 299.8 at this point and have yet to see one and nor have I actually seen any of the supposed vendor engrams that go as high as 300.  At this point on my Titan I need a chest and a class item to hit 305, which admittedly is way sooner than it happened during the console release.  That said everything is luck of the draw for me and this week my luck was just about as bad as I could possibly get.  In total I got six sniper rifles among the nine powerful gear packages that I have opened on my characters.  Sniper rifle being the only weapon that I consider utterly useless because I have yet to find one that is even close to being worthy of that power slot.  Grenade Launcher is traditionally a stinker as far as slots go, but even there I have Berenger’s  Memory and Play of the Game that I like using.  If I absolutely had to use a sniper… so far the only one that seems even viable is Gentleman Vagabond from crucible packages but even then…  there are so many other good weapons that I could be using in that slot.

I tweeted this comment out last night and I thought I would post it on my blog as well this morning.  I promise I meant this to be helpful and not ragey, but it does frustrate me when I see players effectively wasting the scorch cannon rounds spamming the crap out of them.  I admit that I did not know this was even possible until I got to run the Wrath of the Machine raid in Destiny year three, so I went that long effectively using them wrong myself.  The scorch cannon at face value looks like a rocket launcher with a lot of ammo, but it is way more than that even though the bosses that use it never actually use them to their full power either.  With Titan being the weekly flashpoint planet, you are going to encounter a lot of scorch cannons considering 2 of the 3 available events on that planet involve Fallen Walkers.  The weapon has a somewhat hidden alternate fire that involves holding down the trigger after you have fired the round and letting the munition grow in size before releasing and letting it explode.  You are going to have an auditory and visual queue to this and while you can continue to let this go and keep gaining strength as Squirrel pointed out last night, my personal experience is that the 4 second rule seems to be the most efficient for killing those walker tanks.  What I do is fire a round and then duck behind cover while holding the trigger allowing the munition to grow in size and about 4 seconds into holding it visually doubles in size.  At this point I let it go and let the damage get dealt while lining up a shot for another round.  Basically doing this will burn your target faster and easier I might add than spamming rounds and also give you more than enough ammo to take out both tanks with a single Scorch Cannon.  The AOE explosion is also fun for dealing with waves of yellow bar captains and such, but unfortunately this is a tidbit of ancestral knowledge that has not yet circulated through most of the population given that I see most players wasting these weapons.  As a result I just wanted to toss this thought out there and hopefully it sticks.

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As far as last night goes however…  after my crushing disappointment of being in sniper rifle hell…  I decided to chill out on the sofa with my new favorite orc.  At this point I am just shy of level 64 and am still in the Hellfire area cleaning up the quests.  In theory I should be able to completely skip Zangarmarsh and go to Terrokar, doing the every other zone leapfrog across Outland much like I have done with Legion content.  There is something extremely relaxing about Warrioring it up and all the while chatting occasionally with the Facepull crew horde side.  Mostly World of Warcraft is serving as this super relaxing comfort gaming time for me, and with work being as stressful as it has been lately I guess I am finding I need it.  Right now it is looking like I won’t really get to take much time off for the holidays other than the default days they give us off.  I have too many deadlines crashing in together at the same time, and this is also throwing a massive monkey wrench in my traditional Pax South plans.  Right now unless something massively changes I will not be attending this year which is a bit of a bummer considering I’ve gone every year since its inception so far.  It also means I will miss out on meeting up with friends and hanging out… and the biggest bummer of all is that I just found out my friend Cuppy is on a panel this year.  I would have loved to have seen that, but then again I am absolutely horrible at actually attending panels at Pax.  I tend to miss them while wandering around doing other things.  Even if not for Pax I am hoping to make it back to Austin as some point in the future.

Crazy Axe

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As of last night I am now officially at the Stormblood level cap.  That said I still have a bunch of content left to run because I know my MSQ is stalled behind at dungeon at the moment…. and then I also know from hearing folks talk about it that there is another trial of some sort after that.  I was feeling a little too out of it to go seeking a dungeon group, so instead I focused on finishing the warrior quest line, which gave me a set of gear that I will probably never wear at least cosmetically… and this bizarre axe.  As a whole though Stormblood provided me with lots of glamour fodder, including this chest piece that I have become rather fond of.  I actually dinged 70 while running the second primal.  I decided to do a trials roulette, and next thing I know I am zoning into that fight.  The first pull went about as well as you would expect that a modern era primal fight would go.  On the second pull however I took a moment to ask folks if there was anything about the fight that they didn’t understand, and answered a bunch of questions.  As I was able to do I also hollered out when a few key mechanics were coming up to remind folks about them.  Things went off the rails a bit during that second attempt but we managed to hold on and ultimately finished the fight.

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The story as a whole has continued to be amazing, but I am finding myself at a loss for screenshots to put in my blog posts that are not insanely spoilery.  I find myself trying to snap moments where nothing much is going on that won’t give away any major story beats.  I find it interesting how generally speaking I am not that beholden to a story in other games…  but in Final Fantasy XIV I am anxious to find out what is going on.  I guess part of it is that in a single player story… the experience doesn’t feel real.  What I mean by that is it is something that I experience and then once the story has reached its conclusion it is functionally over…  at least for another several years until they release a sequel.  In an MMO…  story sets the stage for what is to come and gives us a glimpse in what we will be doing a few months down the road.  The story feels more alive to me because I am going to be living it, and I am going to be adjusting to whatever changes it happens to bring to the stage for a long while.  My friends and I are going to be fighting our way through the epic battles that are proposed each time the story leads us some place new.  I guess this is why I get into the lore of Destiny as well, because even though the grimoire cards are a crummy system… they give us a glimpse at the future to come and let me start day dreaming about epic adventures that are just over the horizon.

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Another thing that happened this weekend was the “launch” of Secret World Legends.  Sure they are calling it a head start, but if you are letting in everyone who played the previous game…  you are effectively launching it.  More than anything I wanted to get in and make sure that all of my stuff transferred just fine, and more importantly that my lifetime subscription did in fact transfer over into lifetime patron status.  For those who played the first game… I highly suggest you check out the page on the transfer system so you can claim anything that might be eligible for transfer.  I’ve heard that this system is only going to be available through August 31st and there are a bunch of guidelines and fine print to follow to make sure everything copies just fine.  I probably need to do some more fiddling to make sure that everything does in fact copy.  I had a character of each faction so in theory it should have…  but I probably need to go ahead and create those other faction characters so I can double check.  The most important item was of course the Csicon alien smiley t-shirt…  which I am rocking in the image above.  So far I am digging the game changes, but unfortunately it just happened to launch at a really horrible time for me since I am so heavily engaged in Stormblood.  I will continue to piddle around and experience the content, and it serves as an awesome “taking a break” game for me right now.  We talk a bit about but Secret World Legends and Stormblood on this weekends podcast, which I am embedding below.

Breaking Silence

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After the challenges of last week, this past weekend was largely a time to chill out and relax.  On the “paw” front I am pleased to announce that the round of IV antibiotics seemed to work pretty well given that the swelling is largely down as is the redness.  There is one spot that is a bit troubling, but we are watching it.  I am guessing that the location went a little deeper than the rest and as such might take a little longer to recover.  There is always the fear that the bite penetrated a tendon or something else, but we will continue to watch it as it hopefully heals.  On the gaming front… I had all of these grand ideas about running nonstop dungeons, but what happened in reality is that I wound up chilling with the wife downstairs and watching various stuff on the television.  It felt like it would be an invasion of the peace and quiet to get on voice chat and start talking “strategery” and such.  What happened instead is that I queued up a few times as a pug dps, and spent time working on older stuff in the meantime while waiting on that lengthy queue to pop.  Of note on the Ruin server group, the queue time for a DPS is about 45 minutes, which means I had plenty of time to work on other objectives while waiting on the queue to pop.  I spent some time in Warlords farming spawns attempting to get my Shatari Defense reputation up… because I am admittedly a bit jealous of Grace and her amazing fire mammoth mount that she keeps running around on.  The only problem there is it seems with the opening of Tanaan Jungle at least one of the farm spots has been nerfed into the ground… and Shattrath city has spawns really far apart making it hard to gather things up and AOE them down with whirlwind spam.

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Another queue I wound up spending on the Isle of Giants in Pandaria where I learned a few key things.  Firstly once again it is hard to gather everything up and AOE it down… because my aggro radius is minuscule now with the dinosaurs.  Second I can apparently now easily solo Oondasta as Fury, so that is going to go on the mount farming list.  The white raptor mount has been something I have worked on for awhile, and yesterday I ground out the last 2000 bones roughly.  The queue popped before I could actually turn in, so I had to finish things up after the dungeon.  The real takeaway from the weekend however is…  my theory of treating World of Warcraft like Final Fantasy XIV seems to largely be working.  Upon entering a dungeon, be it as tank or as dps… I do my customary “Hey Folks” which seems to unjam the conversation mechanism.  Then throughout the dungeon folks tend to be willing to talk, but if I don’t say anything… it seems like folks are willing to just ride along in silence because there has always been the wowism that silence is preferable to dealing with assholes.  The thing is… I think we can do better and a lot of the negative opinion folks have of this community is due to the fact that folks are willing to either put up with bullshit in dungeons because they want it to be over and don’t want to have to deal with another 45 minute queue.  I am not sure if it is going to help, but I am absolutely making an effort to talk to people be it in my Class Hall fielding questions like I did yesterday… or running a dungeon, or even out in the world while doing an objective.  I think most of us just simply assumed that no one was willing to have conversation, and I am trying to flip that assumption on its head.

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The other big thing from the weekend is that I started work on my second character.  Some time ago I started Exeter my Paladin off by getting Lightbringer.  However after swapping Belghast to tanking, I am finding it way easier to quest like a madman in that mode.  So as soon as I hit 102 I did the quest chain to pick up the second artifact, and had been holding artifact power items in reserve for awhile.  Unlike Belghast I have a clear path that I am planning on working towards first, which I guess makes the experience feel more purposeful.  On the Warrior protection tree there were so many cool things that I wanted, but none of them seemed to be clearly better than any of the others.  Paladin it feels like there is one right choice for survival, and I am going in that direction first.  Largely I devoted the time spent during the podcast to working on this guy, and by the end of the night I had hit 102 and was off into tanky land.  I apparently also unlocked one of the appearances so I quickly swapped to the purple look and used it as an excuse to rock my purple judgement set.  The one set that I wish existed in game is the yellow judgement set that you see one of the NPCs wearing.  As it stands I have normal, Blue from the opening of Wrath event, and purple from the BC era heroics.  This really is the best looking tier set in the game, and I wish more recolored sets would show up in dungeons, which reminds me… at some point I really need to work on farming up the turquoise wrath set.  In any cases it was a good weekend and fairly relaxing, but it is my hope that with the week I will be back doing dungeons with friends again.  I am now up to 823 item level on Belghast, which means I need to be hitting up those heroics.

 

Battered Paw

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The last twenty four hours has been interesting for a few reasons…  most of them not terribly good.  A few days back I introduced you to Luna, and to say her integration into our family has not been going swimmingly is an understatement.  She is quite possibly one of the sweetest cats we have encountered… when it is human to cat interactions.  However as she has gotten more comfortable in the house, she has also become less tolerate and more willing to straight up fight our other two cats.  We are trying to work through this, but occasionally one of us has to try and break up a fight.  Yesterday my wife attempted to break up one of those fights by trying to remove our youngest from the situation.  In a highly stressed and freaked out state Kenzie bit the shit out of her hand.  Now this same sequence of events had happened a few weeks earlier to me… but this time Luna bit me.  For me everything seemed to be fine once I stopped the bleeding because four puncture wounds can really produce a lot of blood.  For my wife however she is having some adverse effects… namely that her hand is swollen, red and fevered.  Yesterday after work she went to an urgent care place here in town, and they too were concerned giving her a shot of antibiotics, and a ten day course.  They also drew a boundary around the effected area saying, if the redness breaks this line… to get to the emergency room because my wife will need a course of IV antibiotics.

Needless to say I am now doing a lot of things for her, given that it is painful to grip anything in her primary hand.  I’ve latched a couple of bras and opened a lot of pill bottles and pretty much anything else that requires grip strength.  I would post a picture of her poor battered “paw” but honestly I am not sure the comfort level folks have with seeing injuries.  When I posted my knee, it looked questionable but there were no open wounds.  This on the other hand feels like it would cross some invisible internet line.  Needless to say it looks bad, and thanks to the irregular line around it…  and the swollen nature of the area… it kinda reminds me of a jellyfish.  On the Luna front, what is ultimately happening is that we have built her a little suite of sorts in my wife’s office with litter, food and water and some comfy places to chill.  She is ultimately staying there when we go to bed around midnight, and then getting back out when we are physically home and able to intervene if needed.  The problem with this is that when I let her out each night she is starved for attention, and it just makes me feel horrible for doing it.  That said I don’t want either side of this squabble to injure themselves further.  Both Luna and Kenzie/Allie have several battle scars already from the past scuffles.  Nothing yet that needs a trip to the vet thankfully, but still I don’t want to encourage more unsupervised “encounters”.  Additionally when we are at home we try and make sure there is one of us on each floor of the house… so that there are clear safe zones that they can stay away from each other.  I just am not sure how we get past this current situation and get to one where they at least tolerate being in the same room…  if not hopefully someday are friends.

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As far as the game goes, last night was a night of doing so many World Quests.  Early in the evening I unlocked a set of quests… the first was to do 30 World Quests, and the second was to collect 30 Demonic Runes.  Somehow I managed to actually complete both of these last night during my extended play session.  With my wife in her current injured state I purposefully tried not to get into anything that I could not also get out of rapidly.  There are so many little things that she just needs help with at the moment, and I didn’t want to inconvenience her or my party by getting into group content.  So I spent the majority of the night running around doing these little vignettes of action, and I guess I caught it at exactly the right time…  because when I finished the first round there were a handful of new ones up popping which allowed me to complete the 30 in total.  This is not the sort of thing I will do often, as in try and do “all the quests” but it was fun to do it at least once.  One of the things that I like the most about World Quests is that I don’t have to worry about collecting a quest… and if I get interrupted having it stranded in my quest log that I will then have to abandon to pick up something else of importance.  I get to enjoy the action while it is happening and then forget about it if I need to get pulled away.  The real shocker of the night however was that I did one of the PVP quests…  admittedly without really intending to.  I was bouncing around the map and noticed that there was a nearby quest with good rewards…. and it was only after I had killed a few mobs did I realize that I was now apparently flagged.  It took a lot of deaths…  not to PVP but just to the density of the mobs, but I managed to complete it and get my shiny bauble.  All in all it seems like these are a way more reasonable and enjoyable form of potential PVP for me…  it is doing an objective that has a clear reward at the end… rather than just killing players for the sake of killing players.

New Expansion Buzz

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I have been having more fun in World of Warcraft than I have had in years.  That at least feels like a true statement, but also one that makes me question it.  Sure it seems like I am having a blast, but it got me thinking…  don’t I always have a lot of fun at the launch of a new expansion?  One of the interesting things about having a blog that has been active since 2009 is that in theory I should have evidence of how I felt at the launch of Cataclysm, Pandaria and Warlords.  Around the launch of Cataclysm I seemed to be mostly focused on grouping and gearing… and grinding dungeons to get to the magical number needed for raiding.  I think I was still very much in my “games are serious business” mode, so there really isn’t any talk about the expansion being fun or not.  In truth remembering that time period I was very much not having fun, and I think in the grand scheme of things that is ultimately why Cataclysm was the expansion that caused me to “quit” World of Warcraft.  The quit is of course a lie, considering that I am still playing the game… and never really went longer than six months without reactivating my account.  The launch of Pandaria unfortunately happened during a serious lapse in my posting, and by the time I start back up… I was on the daily posting kick and talking about casually playing the game.  With the launch of Warlords… I talk a lot about how nostalgic the game makes me feel, but in reality not much actually talking about how I am enjoying it.  This was after all the expansion I had originally said I was going to take a pass on… so this quote makes sense.

I still stand by my original statement that if you have no interest in World of Warcraft, this expansion will do little to change that.

So if I set out to prove that I am always pumped about the launch of a new game expansion…  I guess I disproved that theory?  I guess at least on some level, any infusion of new content is something that I ultimately enjoy.  There are new zones to explore, new quests to figure out… and lots and lots of tasty loot.  However this time around something feels different, and I am having trouble quantifying exactly what that is.  For the first time since the launch of Wrath of the Lich King… I have hope that the best days of the Warcraft franchise are not behind us.  With all of the previous expansions…  I felt like they did a decent job of stirring up nostalgia, but not really doing a great job of making me feel like the game has a new purpose.  This time around so much feels fresh, from the class designs and reworks to the fact that they all seem to be focused on a clear vision of what that class does.  I attempted to talk about this yesterday, but the fact that my airflow was pretty low ended up with the post being a jumbled mess.  To be truthful I am still sick right now, so for all I know this post is also going to be a jumbled mess.  However I love the feel of my Warrior for the first time since I really came into my own as a tanking main during Burning Crusade.  The irony here is the fact that I am not really tanking at all, but instead dpsing my way through the content as Fury.

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The only problem here is that we have just barely scratched the surface, and myself even more so than that.  The game launched Monday night, and we already have four level 110 characters in House Stalwart.  I am very much not one of them… but instead hanging back in the middle of the pack at level 105, having completely finished Stormheim and just started Azsuna.  I have no idea what the “feel” of the expansion is going to be once we all kick off the training wheels and move into that sometimes glorious time known as the end game.  Even Warlords had some really fun moments while leveling, and including some really amazing cinematic experiences.  However once we arrived at the end there was a very hollow game waiting for us.  I guess the difference this time is that with the launch of Warlords I absolutely expected to have bounced off of the game by about the three month mark.  In truth it was a little closer to the six month mark, but the bounce did in fact happen at least mentally even though I don’t think I ever actually cancelled my account this time around.  This time however…  I have a blazing pyre of hope that maybe just maybe that won’t happen.  Ultimately I really like what is going on… with the class design, with the storyline, with the zone creation, and heaven forbid with the lore itself.  The bigger story of Khadgar being Khadgar and Jaina being Angry…  well it can screw off.  However the intricate intra-zone stories are awesome, and I totally want to have reasons to hang out with Havi during later content.  World of Warcraft and Blizzard…  please don’t break my heart this time.

Legion Without Rushing

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This morning feels a little odd, for many reasons.  Firstly I got a good nights sleep, when normally in the past I would have made a failed attempt to get up in time for the launch of a new expansion.  In fact there was a point last night where I woke up at 3:30 in the morning…  a mere 30 minutes after the servers went live and thought to myself…  I could get up.  Then instead I rolled back over and went to sleep again.  Always in the past I have felt like I was chasing some goal that I never could quite catch.  I knew I could not take the amount of time that my friends like Kylana did, and push through during 24 hours of solid play time.  In fact when I logged in this morning I was shocked to see that he was only level 102, which seems slow for him.  I’ve heard however that this time around, the process just takes longer and that power levelers who have practiced it on beta say it is going to be around a solid eight hours to get to 110.  Which means for someone attacking it more casually you are looking at ten to twelve hours.  The strangest thing about this expansion is that maybe I have finally realized there isn’t a rush.  In the past I had my reasons… and those were namely an attempt to be a viable tank for folks to run dungeons with while we leveled.  My favorite leveling experience was likely Burning Crusade, because I was a fledgling tank and excited that everyone seemed to need me to be able to run dungeons… which at that time were significantly better experience than doing pretty much anything else.

During the launch of Wrath I remember leveling mostly through dungeons in a similar fashion, but when the change happened to Cataclysm I noticed that worked significantly less well.  It was as though folks just didn’t want to run dungeons in the same manner that I was used to.  In fact I remember going through a bit of an existential crisis at that time because it felt like there was only one dungeon group worth of folks willing to run dungeons at a time.  More often than not I ended up the tank left out in the cold and unable to get groups.  Now the truth is if you asked other tanks they probably would have felt the same, because we went from being the most valuable commodity in the guild…  to one of what felt like the least valuable over night.  By the time Pandaria rolled around I found myself still rushing to keep up… but never actually running the dungeons until I hit maximum level and was desperately trying to gear.  Similarly with Warlords I got drug through a few dungeons as dps, but mostly to knock out the quests as they came available and not so much as a leveling vehicle.  With Legion I am not even planning on leveling my Tank artifact first, but instead focusing on Fury which seems extremely fun to me at the moment.  So since I expect to be leveling almost entirely by doing the content… especially since saving up those dungeon quests can reward 110 level gear at the end, I also don’t feel that need to rush around.

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I logged in this morning long enough to do the teleportation of Dalaran to the Broken Isles and to rebind at the now Gilnean run Inn there.  I completed a few quests but stopped just short of delving into the lengthy quest that will ultimately end in me getting my artifact weapons.  While it was odd to not try and push through it this morning, I knew that all it would end up doing is making me have to rush horribly to get to work.  Instead I will have that waiting on me for when I get home and fight through the now inevitable server queue.  The thing is… that is perfectly okay.  If I am in a server queue that looks like it is going to take some time…  I have other things that I can do.  I can poke my head into Destiny since I have not been there in a good while, or I could go out into the back yard and go for a swim.  In any case I am trying to approach this expansion at a much more measured pace.  In the past I have rushed my ass off to get to the new cap, and with it beginning a lengthy gear grind.  Every time in the past I have always managed to burn myself out in the process to where logging in every night is a misery.  I now have a proper army of alts to tend to… and I fully expect to get each and every one of them to 110 before starting on the next round that have yet to be leveled.  I say all this with certainty… but really in the back of my head I have my fingers crossed that it will work.  I am hoping that I can fight my own tendencies and take things slow.

Confronting Change

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Hotbar Construction

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Yesterday was at least in part a continuation of the previous day.  When I got home we ate some dinner and I plopped down in my comfy chair and began continuing to sort through my gear, getting almost all of the way through my characters last night.  Early in the evening Grace and I had talked about running some older content for transmoggy bits, so I had a clear target timeframe in mind.  In the meantime I had to somehow make sense of my hotbars and decide what the hell I was going to play that evening.  Since I really only care deeply about plate graphics usually I knew it was more than likely going to be Warrior, Deathknight or Paladin.  As a result I devoted a bit of time to each of them, and tried to make something functional for the purpose of running content.  Of the three the most immediately recognizable was the warrior with the only thing really dropping off of my hotbar being Heroic Strike.  There were various other tweaks as well but nothing that I could not adjust to rapidly, and within a few minutes I felt like my old self again.  The biggest hitch being the significant change to the thunderstrike sound and animation.  It is those moments when I realize how much I ultimately play by sound, and use audio queues to know if an ability actually fired or not.  The animation is also extremely different being more of an earthquake than a shock of lightning… which I can only assume is part of their “aligning of class fantasies” business.  More than likely we lost our lightning because they decided that only Shaman can have lightning effects or something along those lines.

The paladin was also a similar easy adjustment period, and I fell into that routine rather easy.  I also love the fact that Paladins now have a movement speed buff similar to that of the Crusader in Diablo 3 which I have played the last few seasons.  I may or may not have spent a good deal of time charging around my garrison.  The big challenge however was that of the Deathknight, and I still have not quite figured out how I am supposed to be playing it.  Compared to the other two tanks it just feels like a wet paper bag when it comes to survival.  I straight up got wrecked by the dungeon tank dummy in the garrison and had similar problems in Legion beta.  So far I have been able to breeze through the artifact weapon class every single time… but with the Deathknight.  While doing that quest I wound up dying roughly five or six times before I was finally able to limp through it.  The whole reason why I always gravitated towards the Deathknight was their ability to solo and their ability to quest rapidly.  I am not discounting the fact that I probably am missing some key element that makes the class manageable, but whatever is wrong… it is a little maddening.  I was truly hoping this would be the expansion where I could feel comfortable returning to being blood again.  As it stands… for tanking main I am pretty much staying Warrior because it feels comfortable and like I have the ability to actually take some damage, and at the same time still have a lot of movement in the form of the new combo intercept/charge and heroic leap.

Collecting Appearances

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I thought I would include this gem of an image as a clear understanding of why we need a good cosmetic system in this game.  As I sifted through my various alts I encountered a whole bunch of reasons, but this one from Earthen Ring takes the cake.  As far as the actual collection of appearances we ended up running a few panda raids…  or at least tried to because one of the bosses on Heart of Fear kept resetting, and neither of us seemed to have Throne of Thunder unlocked.  We did however successfully get through Mogu’shan Vaults and then finished off the night with a quick run through Black Temple where we honestly got more awesome greens than purples.  I was making an attempt at getting the second warglaive for my warrior.  Earlier in the evening I ran my warrior through MC at least up until the binding dropping mobs…  only to get the same binding I had already to drop.  I had a similar lack of luck in Black Temple, but there were a handful of plate appearance pieces that I had apparently never picked up along the way.  Grace made out like a bandit in Pandaria, but seemed to get minimal drops once we finished the night up in the BC era content.

Right now my biggest frustration is with the whole collection of appearances being locked to armor type.  As a result anything that was leather or mail pretty much went to waste, well other than selling it for gold.  This is a similar problem to the one I have with the cata era cloth drop rate changes.  There are certain characters I play just to have a complete stable of classes, and then there are other characters that I actually enjoy farming content on.  My tailor is a Shadow/Disc Priest and that is the character I will probably never actually farm older content on because I don’t get along very well with finger wigglers. Similarly I gravitate towards plate wearers for the characters I actually repeatedly run content on, and it would be amazing if I could just pick up those items and commit them to my appearance library rather than being grumpy as I watch cool stuff going to waste.  I can totally see making appearance follow class lines in parties to keep people from rolling on everything.  However when you are out soloing it would be amazing if you actually got to collect those appearances.  However the end result is likely going to be that I find a farmer of every armor class and wind up running a lot more old world content.  Maybe that was their intention all along?  Force you to dust off those alts and actually play them?

Low Sodium

This is one of those patches that I have seen a lot more salt over than previous ones.  I am not sure if the World of Warcraft community is just more dramatic than it used to be, or if the changes really are that frustrating.  I mean on some level I get it, because I quite literally had to rethink the way I play every character I have tried so far.  All of the rules of how classes interacted changed, and for the players that tried to do a lot of things for utility purposes…  I fear their gameplay is forever going to be changed.  For me… I have a full stable of alts and if for some reason I don’t like the way one feels this time I can shift focus to another one and be equally happy.  However for the player that spent over a decade playing this one class a certain way…  the changes could be traumatic.  I fully support complaining about World of Warcraft, because god knows I have done plenty of it over the years.  I fully support the notion of feeling like your voice needs to be heard.  However after doing both of those… you are ultimately left with a decision point of either adjusting to the changes or quitting the game and trying one of dozens of other good MMORPGs.  Change has right or wrong been a constant in World of Warcraft, and if you are not willing to reinvent yourself every few years than chances are you are going to wind up bitter and frustrated.

This moment happened for me during Cataclysm, and several times since I have decided that I am simply no longer having fun with the game.  Each time it happens I have tried to be more chill about it, to the point where when I quit these days it is not a huge ordeal.  So if you are finding yourself having one of these moments over the Legion changes, take a bit of advice from someone who has been there so many times.  Firstly it is completely okay to quit the game.  The game will still be there, and you can absolutely return at a later date if you rethink your decision.  I quit “permanently” at the beginning Cataclysm, around the end of Cataclysm, the beginning of Pandaria, the middle of Pandaria, the end of Pandaria, the beginning of Warlords, and then I’ve been more or quite often less active for the last six months.  There are other amazing games you could be playing and would likely have a much better time doing so, at least until the present bitterness fades.  If you need some suggestions hit me up sometime and I can probably rattle you off a dozen based on your previous Warcraft preferences.  Essentially what I am saying is as someone who has been there… doing that is so much better than flailing impotently in the hopes that someone will notice your pain and rollback all of the offending changes.  Sometimes it is better to walk away and return later… rather than napalming the community.

 

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.

 

Embracing the Fel

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Confronting the Legon

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This week on “the twitters” I said something to the effect of Legion might be the first World of Warcraft expansion that I never managed to get into either Alpha or Beta.  Then almost like queue on July 15th I found an email in my inbox notifying that my account had been flagged for Beta access.  As a result I installed it on both my Desktop upstairs and my Laptop downstairs, and spent a good deal of the weekend poking about around the fringes of the new expansion.  The truth is I was not all that excited about Legion prior to this weekend, namely because I am stuck in another down cycle with this game.  There are plenty of things I could be doing, but just nothing I felt terribly compelled to do other than log in a few times a week to collect “free gold” from the garrison chore masters.  Even more maddening in a way is the fact that I desperately need the transmog system changes yesterday.  I think a huge part of why I stopped playing so frequently is because one of the activities that I absolutely love is farming old content for interesting bits.  The challenge there is that I have my entire bank, void storage and all but a half dozen slots in my inventory taken up with appearance gear.  So I just really have no more place to store anything and with transmog changes so damned close… there is no way I am going to get rid of anything that might be cool looking.  So as a result I think I just largely stopped playing, thinking that eventually Legion would arrive and I would be able to have a massive spring cleaning… or in this case late summer.  Well that time has arrived almost and tomorrow the patch lands that is going to see me spending my entire evening sifting through shit trying to figure out what I can pitch and what I should actually keep.

Blood Deathknight

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A huge part of the reason why I wanted into Beta was to fiddle with the class changes.  Yes I realize that at any point in the last several weeks I could have installed the PTR client, but without having access to more than just those changes it didn’t really feel worthy of the 28 gig install.  Throughout late Wrath of the Lich King up until Warlords of Draenor I was a huge fan of the Blood tanking spec.  Then in Warlords alpha a whole bunch of that changed, because the feel of the class changed.  Sure the rotation was similar, but the inclusion of Blood Boil as part of the standard rotation made the class start feeling too casterly for my tastes.  It is funny how class fantasy can really effect the way you feel about a set of changes, and at least in this case it was a bridge to far.  On the other hand the Warrior changes for Warlords were amazing, and I loved being able to indulge in a different player fantasy… which was dpsing with a sword and shield thanks to the Gladiator spec.  While I mourn the loss of that option, I completely get why they had to make the change for balance reasons, because quite frankly Gladiator was just too much of a one off special snowflake.  It was my hope that Blood on the other hand would be appealing again, and for the most part I think I like the changes.  That said something is still off with the class and I am struggling to put my finger on it.  Deathknights in general have undergone some pretty shattering changes, and while the feel of the class is right… there are a bunch of empty spots in the rotation where you are waiting on either runic power or rune regeneration.  That is not to say that there is absolutely the chance that I might be playing it wrong.  However in my experience so far there seem to be some pretty significant lulls in the action, and at the same time the class feels like it has lost a whole lot of survival.  On my fresh 100 test character I struggled to get through the quest that ultimately earns you the artifact weapon, because I kept dying with no real way of keeping myself alive.

Demon Hunters

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After a bit of a false step by accidentally choosing a talent that turned my resource builder into an auto attack key…  I’ve decided that I really love Havoc Demon Hunters.  Much like Deathknight was the Belle of the Ball in Wrath of the Lich King… it feels like Demon Hunters are the class that has the most new toys to show off.  For starters… any class with a double jump is something that I am going to pay attention to.  Better than that they have a built in wing glide, which is similar to using the goblin glider… but just as an intrinsic ability.  Then there is the movement… this class has the ability to dart around the battle field like crazy… and those same abilities have allowed me to explore maps in ways that you really could not in previous expansions without copious amounts of wall hacking.  The only negative so far is that I hear by creating a level 100, I somehow am missing a huge batch of abilities that you pick up from quest chains in the starting mission.  The only negative of the class… is that you have to be an elf.  I kinda hate elves, and will likely always hate elves…  however ironically I have always loved Illidan and the concept of the Demon Hunter.  I am seriously contemplating making Demon Hunter my new main for the expansion, even though I realize that will make me yet another member of the Legion of players doing that…  pun only partially intended.  The gameplay however feels fun and fresh and like this strange amalgam of Combat Rogue and Fury Warrior.  Ultimately I need to spend some time with the tanky variety of the class to see if I like that as well, because if so you might be looking at a newly minted Demon Hunter.

Warrior

The class that I spent the least amount of time playing this weekend was Warrior, but everything I saw made me feel like tanking as a warrior was going to be just as stable and reliable as it always was.  Unlike Blood Deathknight, I had zero issue completing the quest chain to get my artifact weapon, the only problem being… that the protection warrior artifact is boring as hell.  I have a vault full of amazing one hander and shield combinations… and for the most part all of them are cooler than the artifact weapon.  It seriously looks like leveling trash, and I am hoping that some of the mutations later will at least give me something I am not embarrassed to be using.  With the absence of Gladiator though, it is going to be hard for me to really consider being a Warrior main this time around.  I have to say however that some of the changes in animation for Fury looked amazing, so at some point over the next few days I want to give that a proper whirl…  once again pun only partially intended.

Tanking

Generally speaking I tend to gravitate towards tanking, and if you plunk me down in a brand new game that is almost certainly what I will roll.  That said I think Final Fantasy XIV has spoiled me when it comes to tanking.  Their version is just head and shoulders more enjoyable than pretty much any other form I have played since then.  As a result I think I might be hanging up my tanking hat when it comes to World of Warcraft at least.  I tried to tank for some of my friends late in Warlords, and I just didn’t like the way it felt in the least.  Now I am sure I will still play things that have a tank spec…  and be able to swap in for specific encounters or for copious dungeon runs, but more than anything I just don’t think I want to be a raid tank anymore in this game.  So knowing that, I am trying to find the class I enjoy dpsing the most or hell I might even try out some healing.  Mostly I have a feeling that I will never again be completely stable and reliable as a player when it comes to World of Warcraft, so I am trying to make sure I pick classes that are useful when I feel like attending something, and not a burden when I don’t.  For all I know I might really love Demon Hunter tanking, and that ends up changing my mind… but I am prepping myself to no longer be a go to tank at least when it comes to this game.