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.

 

 

Getting Unstuck

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Not-Castlevania

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It has been an up and down week for kickstarter games.  Namely I am talking about just how bad Mighty No. 9 has been received.  I own this on the PS4, and while the gameplay itself is not too horrible…  the biggest problem that I have is that it feels like an odd throwback to the GameCube.  Which I guess makes sense given that the game has released on a silly number of systems including the 3DS, which makes me think that quite simply all console versions…  are the 3DS version.  The saddest part about this is at various points during its development cycle the game looked really good, but the end result is this lifeless mess of flat color.  Now earlier in the day I had commented that this whole debacle over the “Not-Megaman” game made me extremely concerned about “Not-Castlevania” which is my not so subtle jab at the fact that so many of these kick-started games are simply recreations of whatever game made the developer famous in the first place.  Almost as summoned from the abyss… I got an email with a key to the E3 version of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, which I didn’t even remember being part of the funding level I backed the game at.

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It was a little late and I only played the demo long enough to get up to the first boss… I failed miserably at even coming close to defeating it namely because I entered the fight after a lot of backtracking.  There are certain things that work extremely well, then there are others that I was largely confused about.  The primary point of confusion is that for whatever reason I could not seem to get the game to do jump attacks… which are of course a staple of the Castlevania gameplay.  I was playing on my PS4 controller which I happened to have hooked up at the time to my PC, and notoriously it tends to map things oddly, so I might give it a shot with the defacto Xbox 360 controller.  As far as every other aspect of gameplay…  this is very much the spiritual successor to Symphony of the Night, but done with cell shaded 3D models instead of 2D pixel art.  It works, and it works well.. and gives you the feeling of the Castlevania art style.  The game has some really strange creatures that you end up fighting, which is cool and something vastly different from the standard zombies and werewolves and vampires oh my genre.  I am assuming that the demo leaves off after the boss fight that is pictured above, but nonetheless I am really happy to see this game at least appears to be still on the rails.

Catching Up

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Last night I got drug into Final Fantasy XIV by Ash and Grace… and admittedly they didn’t have to pull too terribly hard.  Largely they wanted to run some Void Ark, which is the thing that I needed to do to get caught up in gear levels.  I am not sure why this was such an impassible obstacle mentally for me, because I had some serious anxiety about solo queuing for it.  Memu had made an offer to help me out, but we failed miserably at coordinating a time to run it together…  mostly because I fell into a Rift shaped hope and wasn’t around all that often over the last week.  In any case all of my concerns were essentially for naught, because Void Ark is extremely easy…. but unfortunately not the gear bonanza I had hoped it would be.  Over the course of the night I ran the Ark three times, two times with Ash and Grace and one time by myself later after getting back from a walk.  In all of those boss kills I managed to get two pieces of gear… only one of which actually replacing a slot I had something lower in.  I did however get plenty of Esoterics which allowed me to keep upgrading jewelry until a combination of the that and the Mhachi Farthings pushed me over the item level 200 barrier.

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Ultimately I am probably going to keep running this place until I run out of slots to upgrade, and even then…. it is still a decent source of gear to help pull my Dragoon up in item level.  I guess I am officially off high center, and soon I can pick back up the quest chain and at least be expert viable once more.  My hope is that tonight, I can get together with Grace and run the new dungeons who now also needs them since she too broke the 200 barrier last night.  I feel better about the game in so many ways considering how frustrating it was to hit this gear wall in the questing.  I guess in truth this is something that never happened to me during 2.0, or at least once we got back and started really moving forward.  We were always just good enough to keep pushing into the next set of dungeons, but at the same time I was also spending a ton more time grinding out tomestones to make sure I was the best possible tank I could be at all times.  That is the piece that has been missing, because I really have not been able to push myself to do that the way I once was.  As our little rag tag Tuesday night group is contemplating doing more “Real” content I guess that will start to matter significantly more in the coming weeks and months.  Time to get over the hump and gear up a bit, and for the moment Void Ark seems like an easy place to do just that.

Racing Snail

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Out of Advice

This month is of course the rescheduled Newbie Blogger Initiative… and I have been horrible at supporting it so far.  Normally I have filled my blog with various sundry related information about blogging, and if you really want you can probably still take some of that as completely valid.  I know this event works, but the problem is… at this point I just feel like I am out of advice to give without simply rehashing a bunch of old themes.  The truth is I really don’t know what I am doing, and while sometimes I put on the front that I do…  I spend the majority of my time winging it.  Sure before I wrote a single line on Aggronaut, I had planned a lot of stuff like the domain name and hosting provider, but that is not to say I didn’t have a much earlier not fit for public consumption blog on blogger.  Back then… I just started blogging, and it is I feel honestly good to just go make some mistakes on your own without the intervention of others.  My original blog was a semi-private ordeal talking about my life, my family, and all sorts of random events in large part surrounded on our sudden and bizarre desire to start camping.  I say camping… but what I really mean is hanging out at a lakeside resort in an RV.  It was real and snarky and sometimes raw… but it had a very specific audience of folks who actually knew me in real life.  Those people didn’t care about my gaming, and in most part would probably find it strange.

So when I created Aggronaut it was by purpose designed to be completely divorced from my real life.  The idea was I would have the real world blog for people who knew me… and then the other blog to talk about my passions.  That didn’t exactly work because I’ve found that while I can write in a mostly anonymous fashion talking about people and events from my real life setting…  I can’t exactly keep them out of my topics.  I’ve tried not to name names in my blog as a sort of “protect the innocent” fashion in part because my wife works in a very skittish profession.  I never wanted anything I might say to reflect badly upon her.  I would say that I probably filter myself a lot, but the truth is I really don’t have that many inflammatory opinions.  What I personally consider ranting about subject… I’ve often been told is just polite but impassioned discussion.  So as I sit down and try and thing of advice to give a budding blogger, I am really finding myself completely empty this year.  Just because I have been doing something longer, doesn’t mean I have any better grasp on how things should work.  I don’t know what I am doing… and it is perfectly okay to not know what you are doing.  I’ve somehow made that work for over seven years now, and I suppose I will continue to make it work for the foreseeable future.  I lack the ego however to tell you t hat my way is the correct way, because I know I don’t even know if it is right for me.  Next week I might get new information that makes me question everything about what I have done for the better part of this decade, and that is also okay.  Basically if you want to write…  just go write.

A Good Note

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Over the last few days I have become progressively more active in the Rift community.  There is something comfortable about coming back to this game, and I find myself obsessing with all of these little details.  The experience has been something akin to catching a movie on cable television that you have not seen at decades… and then having a sudden swell of feelings for how much you used to love that movie.  Coming back to Rift this time feels very much like dusting off a favorite tome and reading it again with new eyes.  There are some things I am coming to terms with, namely that unlike so many games… it is unlikely that I will find many of my closest friends interested in joining me.  As I have learned time and time again… Rift is not really their game and especially the AggroChat crew can rattle off a list of reasons why.  That said… it has always sorta been my game, and been something that I supported regardless if I was actually playing with it.  I’ve said time and time again that Rift is essentially all of the features I ever wanted in a video game compiled in one game… and they just keep adding more features as time goes on.  That said it is also a much harder game than I have grown accustomed to, and as a result for the last several years since the launch of Storm Legion I have struggled a bit to find my place in it.  I was extremely slow getting to level 60, and I am just now getting to 65, so the speed and difficulty of leveling was something I had a difficult time reconciling now that I am extremely used to the fast pace and ease of leveling in the “modern” mmo.  I’ve long said that my favorite time period in World of Warcraft was Wrath of the Lich King, and I’ve just realized that Rift is as though you stopped the clock in a time period before content started to get watered down to appeal to a wider audience.  That is not to say that Rift does not have a lot of solo-able features… but if you intend to play at the highest levels of the game you are going to need a group and dedication to your character.

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All of this aside I am in this position where I am really enjoying the depth of this game, and finding myself with this entire list of things that I want to accomplish.  One of the best parts of the game for me personally is the way that they have changed the wardrobe system.  Now when you pick up an item, you collect its appearance and can then assemble outfits out of these appearances without needing to fiddle with any of the actual loot.  The fact that there are also zero negatives like a gold sink associated with it, means I am constantly changing my wardrobes around, and I guess at times this is a positive.  Within the Rift forums and Discord there was a contest called “Planetouched Style”, the idea being that you assembled an outfit that represented a certain planar theme and then went out into the world and found a location that fit the theme to take a screenshot.  The first image was my entry, going for a sort of “Papa Legba” feel for it… and then finding an area out in Seratos that really shows off the deathyness.  Much to my shock… I apparently nabbed second place in the contest.  So I am now the proud owner of the 5th Anniversary edition racing snail…  completely with flames decorating the shell.  This goes nicely with my 4th Anniversary mount that I already spent damned near all of my time riding.  I am excited and humbled to somehow have managed to win, but it was a great note to end the day on yesterday.

 

Bunny Returns

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Samurai For Hire

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Another happening over the weekend is that I appear to have fallen back into the habit of logging into Final Fantasy XIV on a regular basis.  It had been roughly six months since I was last regularly playing the game, and in that time I went from being just about as well geared as you could be… to being woefully and insanely behind the curve.  So much so that the gear coming out of the expert roulette is often times an upgrade over the piece I was wearing.  The positive however is that the game does a pretty damned good job of helping you catch up, and I now have a huge amount of content I could be running.  I’ve been trying to do an expert a day to get back into the swing of things, but I still greatly prefer to wait and do said expert with friends.  The other interesting sequence events is something that I talked about on the AggroChat podcast this weekend.  Not long ago I had returned to World of Warcraft and was attempting to be part of a raid group run by some friends of mine.  So much so that I even managed to recruit a bunch of other friends who were not actively raiding.  All of this sounded amazing on paper, until we actually sat down and started raiding.  From the first outing… I kept wondering what I was doing wrong because it just didn’t feel all that fun.

What was happening was this was my first time tanking in Warlords of Draenor other than a times where I had to fill in without notice.  It just didn’t feel the way I remembered tanking in World of Warcraft to feel.  Even more so I had started wondering if I just wasn’t really a tank at heart anymore.  I spent the majority of Warlords as a DPS, and I really enjoyed doing that…  even though I never really hard the drive to put up big numbers.  In fact while we were raiding Blackhand, I even went so far as to uninstall my DPS meters because I didn’t want to be bothered with the guilt of not topping the meters.  Ironically not having meters made my performance go up significantly.  All of this said I started to wonder if I just was not a tank main at heart anymore.  I developed this mental block against tanking, and started looking for ways to avoid it.  Then last Tuesday I participated in the Pony farm night, and the only gear set I was certain of happened to be my tank set.  My hope was that muscle memory would take over and it did… and ultimately I had a blast tanking again.

The Feel Matters

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The reality is that I still very much like tanking… its just that I don’t enjoy taking in World of Warcraft.  In part I think it is because I have gotten used to a game where the fights are messaged extremely clearly.  In Final Fantasy XIV there is never a question of “did I move far enough out” of this or that effect because there is a clear line on the ground showing you the effected radius.  In World of Warcraft there is never really this line because the areas of effect generally extend out quite a bit further than the graphic being drawn, meaning that as a tank you are constantly second guessing.  WoW also still feels very “mash a bunch of buttons and pray” at least while playing a Warrior, whereas FFXIV feels more deliberate and purposeful.  Maybe its just that I fell into bad habits over the years, and cannot seem to break myself of them.  Whatever the case I have been having a blast tanking in FFXIV and am thinking that while I will probably level tanks in WoW… I won’t return to actively filling that roll in group content anytime soon.  It just doesn’t feel right anymore, however if you need an Expert tank in FFXIV I am your man!

Also as you can see from the above image… I have started down the path of madness that is the relic 2.0 weapon… or 3.0 depending on how you want to count it.  As a result I spent a good deal of my weekend running FATEs and have suddenly remembered…. that I actually LOVE doing FATEs.  I checked and I am actually dangerously close to the 3000 FATEs achievement, which should tell you something.  This step in the weapon is reminiscent of the Atma step in the previous weapon, but it feels a lot less egregious.  You need to get three of each elemental drop… however the drop rate of each individual crystal seems significantly higher than Atmas.  At this point I have 3 earth, 3 ice, and 1 fire…  and have been spending time out in Churning Mists as of last night not having any luck getting a single one yet.  I did however decide this was a perfect opportunity to do something I had been considering for a long while.  As of last night I am not longer an Immortal Flame but now a proud member of the Maelstrom.  I’ve made decent progress already in pushing up my rank and I believe I am currently sitting at the 5000 seal step.  However doing doing these FATEs for the weapon the grand company seals seem to be coming insanely fast.  Hopefully before long I will be sitting at max rank yet again.  The only negative is… all of that awesome Immortal Flames gear is now essentially dead to my alts… until I repurchase the Maelstrom equivalents.