Elves I Don’t Hate

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Yesterday I pulled an example from World of Warcraft and after doing so I realized that I never actually talked about the character that was hiding underneath the fold of the Destiny 2 image.  I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Allied races, the Horde races were super easy to unlock but the Alliance ones required a level of commitment that I was simply not willing to offer them.  They were one of those things that I worked on off and on as I had time or wanted something mindless to do while watching television or a movie.  It was a few weeks back when I realized that I was actually getting pretty close to exalted with both of the factions required to unlock them.  Even then I largely failed at doing the quests on a daily basis because I really am not a huge fan of Argus.

Nevertheless I managed to push across the finish line and unlock them both a few weekends back and as a result I have been poking around on a brand new Void Elf hunter during the AggroChat podcasts.  I’ve found it super relaxing to just roam around and take things down at low levels and for whatever reason Void Elves don’t trigger that “I hate elves” instinct that I have built up over all of these years.  In part I think they mostly register as Drow to me, which is something I occasionally played in D&D or the games like Everquest that had decent implementations of them.  Honestly it weirdly makes me want to go back and farm the single piece of Dragonstalker that I am missing, because in all of my years of running Blackwing Lair…  I never got the boots to drop off Broodlord Lashlayer.  The only thing keeping me from soloing it each week is the fact that I really hate doing the Razorgore event.

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I realize that I recently started a Tauren Hunter, but the whole being assigned a pet at the start of the game thing still seems a little weird.  On the Tauren your start with a Plainstrider which isn’t really my sort of pet, but even then I kept using it for a significant amount of time before taming anything else to replace it.  As Void Elf though you start with Voidstalker… that is both my kind of pet and also extremely cool looking.  I’ve found myself with zero drive to go out and tame something else, but that might change as I am now interesting Stranglethorn Vale.  I might grab something rare if I happen across it but for now I am more than happy to run around with my void pal…  even though I have yet to give her a proper name.

It is weird to me that I have lost any forward momentum in World of Warcraft thanks to Battle For Azeroth and the direction they are taking the game.  However I still enjoy dinking around on low level characters because to me that is the purest version of the “WoW Experience”.  BfA really has been a let down as far as the information coming out about it.  Additionally my time playing beta…  hasn’t really done anything to hook me on the direction the game is going.  For years I thought that maybe Metzen was what was holding the game back…  but now I wonder if he was a force of stability keeping the game from dropping off a cliff.  Note I loved Legion “for the most part” but the one bit that I could push right into the sea was the factional nonsense that happens in Stormheim.  Battle For Azeroth feels like an entire game made out of those factional nonsense moments and I am not really looking forward to it.

Unintended Night

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What I was supposed to be playing last night is World of Warcraft as Wednesday is our normal mythical nonsense night.  Unfortunately we were down two people already and I myself wasn’t really in the mood to do it either.  I’ve been dealing with some stuff and yesterday was a bit of a bad mental health day.  When those situations happen I tend to turtle up somewhere quiet and hang out by myself until whatever it is has passed.  World of Warcraft is such an inherently social game that even the act of logging in ends up prompting a bunch of people to poke me and say hello…  and it feels bad to ignore them when I need to ignore them.

Sure there is now “Appear Offline” mode but even then that is not a perfect scenario.  For me at least there are a handful of people that I am generally okay with interacting with, because they know the drill.  They understand deeply because they go through their own periods of turtle time, and as a result there is no need to attempt to keep up appearances as it were.  However if you are in Offline mode and you reach out to one of those people who are on the closest rings of your monkeysphere…  they cannot respond.  You will be able to send them messages all day long but they will always get the offline message when attempting to respond back to you.  As a result when I am feeling like this I just avoid WoW like the plague because it isn’t worth the hassle.

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What I wanted to be doing was to sit on the couch and play some Everquest while watching some more Mighty Boosh streamed through the television.  Unfortunately they seem to have had a rather traumatic maintenance yesterday.  The servers went down at 5:00 am EDT on the 18th and did not come back apparently until 2:30 am EDT on the 19th.  I have no clue at all what was going on…  but I kept trying to fire up the launcher and getting the maintenance message.  I have been enjoying myself a shocking amount in Everquest, but I realize that I am riding the drug that is nostalgia.  I am not sure how long that drug will last but for the moment I am riding its high.

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What I did instead was play a lot of MTG Arena as I got it set up on my laptop.  Yesterday Scopique wrote an interesting response to my post about Arena…  or at least one that mentioned it because it wasn’t exactly a direct response.  The funny thing is I wouldn’t necessarily call myself much of a competitive gamer.  I traditionally shy away from player versus player situations, but games like MTG Arena or the Crucible in Destiny don’t seem to bother me that much and I am not entirely certain why.  I stumbled across a post from Tobold who very much did not enjoy his time with Arena, but for the moment I don’t mind at all that it is largely just a stripped down 1v1 client.  I think ultimately if you are going into Arena expecting Duels of the Planeswalkers or MTG Duels either one… you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Arena is simply a Magic the Gathering Online that isn’t horrible.  Sure MTGO is serviceable but nothing about it is really intuitive and it feels like you are jumping through a lot of hoops to make anything work.  MTGO was absolutely less cludgy than the days of trying to arrange a game on IRC and then getting both parties to fire up and connect to each other through the Apprentice application.  However card gaming on a PC has changed drastically since then and Hearthstone more or less has led that charge.  Arena is that Hearthstone-esc interface for the far more seasons and complicated game of Magic the Gathering, and the thing is… it works amazingly well.

There have been a few times I have been bit by the game trying to move forward without me…  but in the grand scheme of things it seems to do 99.9% of the right things at the right time.  The other moments don’t bother me too much because I am not placing a lot of my personal ego into whether or not I am winning.  I am simply enjoying playing cards and occasionally I do really well.  I do feel like Tobold’s comment of not feeling like he could be competitive with the decks presented was a bit nonsense given that I have been entirely playing the stock Golgari Exploration deck.  I felt like I was able to pick it up and start winning matches almost immediately…  and sure as my rank has risen I am winning less matches but even that doesn’t bother me much.  I am still winning more than enough to complete daily quests getting me packs and gold…  to buy more packs.  All in all I feel like Arena is going to shape up to be a very solid version of Magic the Gathering Online…  but we need to stop the comparisons there for our own sanity.

Mythical Nonsense Tonight

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I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning, but in theory mythical nonsense begins tonight.  We’ve gathered up a group of players who are willing to join in this madness and set our sights on getting our first key through the easiest and coolest of the mythics…  Maw of the Damned.  From there we will shift around and try and determine what our next target is based on the keys that we get.  In theory we are going to run until 10 pm central or wherever there is a breaking off point somewhere close to that.  The idea being that we run for a few hours and see how many we can knock out…  and keep upgrading keys until we get to at least Mythic +15 so that we can walk away with shiny artifact appearances or something like that.  I have no clue how far we will get tonight, and I have no clue how long this journey is actually going to take…  however we have a list of adventurers ready to go.

In theory I need to try and get an Argus kill in tonight before go time since I failed miserably at playing WoW last night.  With the teacher strike going on the evenings have been weird for lack of a better term.  I didn’t want to get into anything serious until my wife got home… and yes while LFR is LFR…  the Argus section of that raid is a serious time commitment at the least.  Then after my wife got home we largely talked about the nonsense the State Legislators did during the day…  like shutting off the water to give themselves an excuse to go home early for the day and avoid the teachers.  My hope is tonight I can pop in for a bit, get an Argus kill so I can walk into Mythical Nonsense ™ with a second legendary and slightly higher item level.

I would totally stream this…  but a few of the folks I am running with have already objected to that notion when someone brought it up on twitter.  So I will just have to report in on our progress tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun, especially since two of the people I will be running with… I have never run with before.  Byx and Grace however…  have gone through many iterations of my nonsense over the years so they are largely immune to it.  So I will ultimately have to break Maryalee and Nayakhuut into the fact that I have no clue what I am doing 99.9% of the time and that tanks make the most annoying DPS.  It should be hilarious… or at least entertaining for all.

Bad Grind Good Grind

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I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

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The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

World Scaling Thoughts

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Firstly since I was absent in making a blog post yesterday I feel like I need to address said lapse.  I’m dealing with this horrible strain of the flu that has been going around.  I was in fact one of those people who had the flu shot early in the season as soon as my work offered it, and still managed to catch it.  Last week I went to the doctor and they misdiagnosed me with a bad sinus infection.  As the week carried forward and I was not getting any better I went back to the doctor and this time around they thought to swab me for influenza.  I feel horrible because I probably infected a bunch of people during that weeks time considering people are dropping at my work like flies.  The biggest challenge of this batch seems to be thinking…  as in stringing together a sequence of thoughts into something that makes sense.  I tried it yesterday and failed…  primarily because the topic I want to post about involves a little finesse.  However here I go attempting to make a post work in between the coughing spells.

On Tuesday January 15th the World of Warcraft was once again forever changed with the introduction of patch 7.3.5 and World Scaling.  You have to understand I have been thought a lot of emotional tinges about this sequence of events and it really has taken me this long to be able to sit down and formulate my thoughts.  Now this is something that I had been wishing would arrive in World of Warcraft for so many years before there are lots of games out there that do it really well.  Prior to the patch I had been furiously leveling a Tauren Hunter and upon logging in I had the immediate guttural reaction of “Gah! This Feels Horrible! LOGOUT!!!”.  The longer I have lived with these changes the more nuanced my opinion has become, and today I am going to try and weave it all together into something that makes sense.  Firstly lets talk about what leveling has been like for the last few expansions in the heirloom economy.  Putting on a full set of heirloom items turned you into a god and you could pretty much roll though content with impunity.  With zero hyperbole…  on my beast mastery hunter I could pretty much oneshot every single mob in the game while doing level equivalent content.  This had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives…  the negative being you weren’t actually doing any of the content legitimately.  The positive is it allowed you to tackle all of those boss level encounters and made up for the fact that the zones you were leveling in were effective ghost towns and you might never actually see another player.

The other side effect is that you could level exceedingly fast because of the sheer volume of things you could kill in your wake.  You could pull big and pull sloppy and shake it off knowing there was virtually nothing the mobs could do to you that would actually kill you.  This meant that on a really good night I might be able to do twenty levels of content, and on average something along the lines of ten to fifteen.  It was not unusual for me to do literally all of outland in a weekend afternoon buzzing from 58 to 68 in a single sitting.  The changes have firmly closed this era of the game.  Speed leveling is probably still possible but the definition of fast has changed considerably.  In the nights after the patch I have played with many variables but for the most part it is a really good evening if I see two dings.  In addition to the lack of speed is the constant fear of death as even wearing a full set of heirloom gear I feel just as weak as if I were wearing greens.  I am constantly in peril of pulling too much or the wrong combination of mobs at the same time and maybe not being able to live through the damage.  Previously food and bandages had no value at all because you simply did not need them… but I find myself utilizing both again.  The big boss encounters however are the problem because once again… there is no native population of players leveling through these zones anymore.  There is no one in zone shouting that they need help cleansing ursoc for example…  an encounter that is still mostly unsoloable for anyone but a tank with some sort of health regeneration of their own.  The island full of all of the boss encounters in Grizzly Hills…  I couldn’t even get through one of the mini-bosses let alone the final encounter that requires burning down the boss while also managing large waves of adds.  Essentially if a quest rewards a blue item… it is probably off the menu for solo players to ever attempt because due to world scaling there will never be a time when it is far enough beneath your level to comfortably solo.

So do I mourn the old fast and silly leveling with heirlooms?  Admittedly a little bit.  Because it was fun to feel that powerful and get through the  content that quickly.  However I also realize it was a bit much and lead to all sorts of problems like being unable to kill something slow enough to complete any of those “use item while weakened” type quests.  Level scaling in truth is good for the health of the game because it means everyone will be actually doing the content in the game rather than buzzing past all of it.  Essentially everyone will be leveling every alt now like they were leveling their first.  I am sure Heirlooms do speed things up still, but it isn’t nearly as noticeable as before.  The problem I see however is that in the new economy… the survival capabilities of various classes are likely going to need to be tweaked.  I’ve been playing a bit as Survival Hunter…  and there are just certain encounters that I cannot handle by myself.  I take too much damage and cannot chew my way through the hitpoints before they chew through mine.  Survival is a fairly sturdy class, so that tells me lots of other classes are going to have pure hell in this new world order.  I am not sure what sliders they have to tweak how the content feels, but this first pass feels like it lands a bit to much on the side of unforgiving brutality at times.  There have been several times I have had to log out and walk away from leveling…  because it was annoying me too much.  Leveling alts was always my moment of zen and my happy place…  and now it is stressful.  Again a lot of the problems are with the fact that while the world is scaling I am still utterly alone in all of these zones with no help to be had from another player happening across my path and maybe seeing I am in trouble.  The general world sorta feels the way that Argus feels at times when you are a little undergeared….  and maybe that is the problem.  Heirlooms previously were supposed to scale like you were wearing the best blues you would wear at a given level.  There should never be a time when you feel undergeared for the content…  but unfortunately that is mostly how I have felt every moment after the patch.

Essentially it is an adjustment period, and I will have to get used to feeling weak again.  I think in the grand scheme of things this is probably a good step for the long term health of the game.  I just have to learn that I can’t fly nearly as close to the sun as I used to.

On The Mend

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I am mostly among the living.  Yesterday was a federal holiday here in the United States and with me being off work… it also mean’t that I largely treated it as part of the weekend for blogging purposes.  I am still fighting the same crud that I had last week, but it feels like at some point on Monday I turned the corner.  While I still have the vestiges of whatever bronchial mess has inflicted me, I am starting to feel better and less like an appendage of the couch and or bed depending upon the time table.  it truly was a miserable weekend and while I attempted to game I was not terribly successful at anything until yesterday.  I spent most of the break working on the Tauren Hunter who has now finished the Outland and is knee deep in Northrend just starting the Grizzly Hills area.  My hope is that when I ding 74 the bear spirit beast will be up and I can collect it for my pet.  Up until this point I am mostly running a Fel Corehound that I got from the Blasted Lands.  I took the Beast Mastery talent that allows your pets to shadow step… so it is entertaining watching him leap up on targets rapidly.  At this point however I can kill most mobs well before my beast even has time to interact with it…  which is the life of running full heirlooms.

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Sunday I indulged a really weird whim and decided to reinstall the Arc client and give Neverwinter a spin.  I’m on the PR feed still from Perfect Worlds and they are constantly putting out press releases about content releases to this game.  It got me wondering what the current state of matters is when I have literally not heard anyone talk about it in almost two years.  It turns out the game is in pretty great shape as far as actually logging in and playing it.  As far as doing its best to feel insidious from a loot box standpoint…  it is also working on winning some awards.  I don’t remember much about the game if I am being very serious, but you know that thing that we chastised Call of Duty WW2 for doing at the beginning of the year?  Where if you get a drop the game announces to the rest of the world what you just got?  That apparently happens in Neverwinter as most of my time spent in the central hub area was a constant stream of people getting loot drop rewards.  In the very short time I played yesterday I got somewhere around 25 loot crate drops from random stuff while doing quests.  Each one of these crates would require a key which runs roughly $1.25 each without any of the “buying in bulk” discounts applied.  Through the quests I wound up getting three free keys to open three sample crates and if the ones that drop in the wild are at all similar to what they gave us as “examples” for why we should buy into this system…  they were full of utter garbage.  If you can however do what I started doing and just vendoring the damn crates for a few copper each time you saw one drop…  and loot past the money grubbing nature of the game…  the core feedback loop is actually rather enjoyable.  I think when I logged in last night I was around 16 left over from my initial push around launch and I believe I logged out for the evening around 25/26ish.  During all of that time I enjoyed the core game quite a bit so long as I completely ignored the multiple currency cash shop nonsense.  If you can do the same then you too will probably enjoy yourself.

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Last completely random thing I did last night…  is patch up and log into Elder Scrolls Online.  This game is in fact the same as I remember it and still rather enjoyable.  The biggest problem I will have is trying to sort out exactly what I was doing when I was last playing.  I am still being insanely stubborn and wanting to finish all of the original three story arcs before doing any of the newer content.  As a result I believe I am somewhere in the middle of Malabal Tor during my Aldmerri Dominion play through.  From there I will at some point venture forth into Ebonheart where maybe just maybe I can play long enough to see the character that was inspired by me and some of the folks we play with.  I think the fact that I jumped around so much last night… but still managed to get a bunch of play in with each jump…  is probably proof that I am on the mend.  In truth a good chunk of this weekend was spend with me just staring blankly at things without really doing a lot of interaction.  There were several times that I would start up a YouTube video that would then cycle through a whole bunch of things before I even realized I was still watching something.  Now however I need to go warm up the car and prep myself to venture forth into the frozen tundra (for Oklahoma at least).  Tonight will likely either be more Neverwinter or ESO because I had a lot of fun playing both.

 

Bad Concierge

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Yesterday I failed miserably at making any sort of a post.  In truth by the time I had realized I had not logged in and created a blog post it was mid afternoon…  and figured I might as well just call it a day off.  First off this morning I feel like I probably need to update considering my Monday post.  I saw a Doctor Monday afternoon but good or bad the pain had subsided by that point.  The pain in whole lasted roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours and without it being “acute” the only way they really had to diagnose things was some scans.  Their advice to me is that if the pain comes back at all…  go to the Emergency Room immediately.  Based on my description they thought it might have been either a kidney stone or my appendix…  since I still have one of those so in both cases something dangerous if I allow it to go unchecked.  While I was there however they also told me I had a pretty significant sinus infection and prescribed a round of antibiotics to help clear that up.  I had been coughing up a storm the last few weeks and apparently I actually had an infection to back that up.  The doctor suggested that I not return to work until Wednesday, to keep down the odds of me infecting someone else…  which I guess makes sense given this is a sort of work based free clinic thing that I went to.  So for the bulk of yesterday I chilled out while something cooked in the crockpot and piddled around in World of Warcraft while consuming Netflix/Amazon shows.

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One of my favorite things about ElvUi is the AFK screen thing.  Not sure why it makes me happy to see it pop up and I have a directory littered with screenshots of my character sitting down while dancing on the side.  At this point I am level 52 on my newish Tauren Hunter and spending time in the greater Gadgetzan area.  In truth last night before logging for the evening I got the precursor quest to take me to Ungoro crater, so I will likely be heading there shortly.  Being fully decked out in Heirlooms makes the leveling experience really odd given that things rarely last long enough for my pet to even reach the target, let alone need any form of “tanking”.  This means that I am largely running a pet for the flavor of it rather than for the functionality.  Traditionally when I need a pet to be a barrier between me and the target I tend to favor bears…  however for the moment I am running around with a golden brown Owl I picked up somewhere in Feralas that I named Bubo.  The hunter is ridiculously relaxing which has been exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for lately.  One of the things I enjoy about hanging out in Facepull on the Horde side is that I can be a fly on the wall mostly, that interacts every so often but also has the room to simply not interact at all if the spirit doesn’t move me to communication.

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I ended up going off on a twitter tear yesterday talking about guild leadership and being the person in the background that makes sure things are happening.  When I first started leading guilds…  I was very young and lacked any sort of responsibility apart from just showing up at work and making sure I was getting my tasks accomplished.  In fact when House Stalwart hit its stride about a year into the release of the game…  I was in quite possibly the worst job I have ever been in.  I had a horrible boss and felt like I had no control over my work environment, and as a result having a smooth running community to come home to and spend my evenings with was almost refreshing.  During this time my home life was in a bit of a disarray due to the large number of deaths that were occurring in the family, and Stalwart wound up being my stability that I so desperately needed.  As we entered Wrath of the Lich King I changed jobs and wound up in a much better place where I had a support structure and actually started taking on more responsibilities.  As such I found myself starting to back away from the same sort of things that I did during Vanilla and Burning Crusade and begin placing myself in more of a distant advisory role.  By the time Cataclysm launched I had moved up to being a Team Lead, and was responsible with juggling planning and task assignment, and similarly I found myself completely checking out of the guild leadership role and even going so far as to quit World of Warcraft when Rift released.  During that time I have shifted from Team Lead, to assumed supervisor, to actual supervisor… to now interim manager of three groups.  While I have kept trying to be the social glue for guilds…  by the time I get home I just have no social capital left to make things happen.

The truth is that every guild you have ever been in that felt active…  had one or more people behind the scenes making sure that things were going smoothly.  I used to have a motto among our officers that I wanted our actions felt but not necessarily seen, and so long as I had the focus it worked smoothly.  From Cataclysm on Stalwart has changed hands numerous times and as a result has kept going forward without me.  While now it takes a more raiding focus, it is still functional and still doing things.  However if you take away the people who are actively moving the ball forward… you end up with 30 people sitting in guild chat and nothing happening.  That has been the problem with so many of these guilds that I have formed as new games come out..  I don’t have the drive to be the cruise director anymore…  and while I gather up the people I don’t have the strength to actually do things with other people.  This was extremely noticed in the recent foray into Destiny 2 where I spent 99.9% of my time soloing, all the while people around me were trying to make things happen.  Guilds work when they have a concierge making sure needs are being met and I just cannot fill that position anymore.  I have transitioned to being one of the players that just wants to log in and have a good evening escaping whatever stresses piled up during the day.  The key difference for me at least is that I do most of this through solo play and am completely happy to piddle along with alts.  There are times that I miss big group activities…  like I wish we had beat Calus in Destiny 2, or I wish we had made a bigger push into Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood.  Then I sit back and think about the frustrations of having to remember to log in on time with all of the materials needed for raiding on a specific night of the week… and I question if I could ever go back to that.  So yes…  I play tons of MMOs as single player games and am mostly okay with that, and yes I realize I am doing it wrong.  I do like knowing people are out there in spite of me not being capable of actually interacting some evenings, so I will always seek out potential communities because someday…  maybe…  I might shift back out of whatever turtle mode I have been in for the last year.

Double Agent

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I’ve reached this sorta happy place with World of Warcraft where I find myself alternating back and forth between it and Destiny 2 for how I spend most of my evenings.  Over the last month or so I had spent most of my pushing up my Orc Warrioress, and have now reached the point where I can no longer easily push her power level up by just doing World Quests.  As a result this caused a bit of an identity crisis over the Christmas break and lead me to pick another of my various horde characters to start working on.  Having not actually pushed up a Demon Hunter… and Legion being the expansion all about Illidari…  I figured it was high time to actually do this thing.  I started out leveling as Havoc like I had before on the Alliance side but promptly swapped over to Vengeance when I started missing tank survival.  It turns out that I really like Vengeance as a spec and you get to do a bunch of fun things…  sadly at the cost of your charge around the map ability.  The way shorter cooldown version of Heroic Leap in the form of Infernal Strike however makes up for the lack of the less predictable movement ability.  If nothing else the build allows me to do most of the World Questing with impunity and at some point I will actually try some dungeon tanking.

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For the moment however when it comes to LFR, Heroics or Timewalking…  I have been swapping back to Havoc and just noobing it up.  This is the point where I have to step back from some of the commentary I made while leveling the warrior.  I was shocked and amazed at how chill the horde side of the house had been during my experiences…  but once I donned the mantle of the demon hunter…  and potentially as a side effect of the long holiday break…  all of the asshats seemed to come out of the woodwork.  Monday night I chain ran my five timewalking dungeons in a row… and all of the cool demeanor that I had originally attributed to the horde side melted away.  It became a night of gripes and wipes as I limped through my five instances and then walked away praising some dark god that my sanity was still intact.  I am still not entirely certain why my recent change in religion of sorts and swap to the horde, but I would have to think a lot of it has to do with simply wanting to hang out with my friends in Facepull.  As a result it has been this super chill place to hang out and have occasional comments about the game and life in general.  On a day by day basis I am feeling way less of a double agent and more leaning towards the Horde.  For years I never could seem to get into characters on that side of the fence and the only reason why I had a max level character during Warlords was because I boosted, this time around however I have the same number of Alliance characters as I do Horde and I am already plotting the next thing to level.  Side note…  Blood Elf demon hunters look way cooler than the damned floppy eared Night Elf equivalent.

Clipped Wings

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Last night I had every intent of coming home and playing some Destiny 2…  but instead I logged into World of Warcraft to “check what gear was up on world quests” and never really logged back out.  I’m still very much stuck in “must complete the emissary caches” mode and as a result I had one in Argus for the Argussian Reach faction that I lacked enough quests to complete.  As a result I started unlocking more of the planet until I finally got enough to finish it out.  This however was super time consuming because doing anything on Argus feels needlessly tedious due to the packed base pop and terrain that goes out of its way to keep you from going from point a to b.  For my troubles I got a big fat nothing… or in truth a little bit of gold that feels insanely lackluster given the amount of effort I went through to be able to complete it.  So the real question I ask to you more seasoned players that did not take a massive break after Nighthold…  did they just fucking nerf emissary caches into the ground?  In the past these used to be a significant source of gear upgrades, and also used to drop legendaries like candy.  At this point I have no legendaries and have not seen a single piece of gear from the six caches I have turned in since starting up playing again.  Is this just a bad streak or did they simply remove any reasonable rewards from these things?

I’ve managed to move the needle a little further forward and am sitting at 884 and I think 15 concordance on my two primary weapons.  I still have Tomb of Sargeras LFR to do this week but in truth it seems like grinding Argus is going to be my best bet for gear level movement.  The only problem there is that I hate Argus and want to nuke the planet from orbit.  I mean in all reality it isn’t that bad but it just feels shitty to return to land mounts again after being able to fly literally everywhere else.  The base pop reminds me of a lot of what it feels like to roam around in a Rift zone where everything is super aggro and ready to reach out and thump you if you get too close.  The main difference is that at least in World of Warcraft it is completely reasonable for me to round up 30 mobs and grind them down….  because I did this thing today out of laziness and not wanting to stop.  The only really works if you can keep healing yourself like the protection warrior can, but nonetheless it is a viable option.  In Rift if I had more than a couple of mobs I would have fallen over, which makes the game feel super tedious to play.  If I apply myself and gobble up every quest I can do on Argus each day… I may be able to purchase a single piece of 910 gear which is a slow way to upgrade but potentially preferable to hoping for lucky double platnium bonus warforged gear from LFR.

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Towards the end of the evening while rewatching Force Awakens I did wind up grinding a bit in Destiny 2 and managed to complete the Mercury Flashpoint.  When I turned in with Cayde-6 I managed to get my very first Masterwork item…  and I maybe just almost accidentally called it Warforged.  The positive it is at least an Auto Rifle which is something I will use.  Grace said last night that when she got her first… it was a sidearm…  which is something that no sane and rational person would ever want to use.  I was absolutely certain that the game would give me a sniper rifle or something else that I generally loathe.  Then again if that were the case the decision to shard it and get crafting materials would have been simple…  in this case I have the strong desire to start using it even though Solemn Hymn isn’t exactly one of my favorite weapons.  As far as the perk on mine, it gives a small range boost which is reasonable enough for the moment.  Were it a warforged Better Devils I might work on trying to get the best possible roll, but for now I am okay with a ranged boost.  I have a late night tonight because Star Wars…  but I might be able to hop on when I get home and give it a proper testing.

Grind to a Halt

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When we last visited my Orc Warrior on this blog I was just about to start the Warlords content, and this week when I have not been poking my head into Destiny I have spent it pushing forward in World of Warcraft.  It’s honestly been a shock just how fast leveling went until I hit Legion content.  The old world was a confusion slog where I jumped zones each time I saw an exclamation point show up on the adventure guide.  This meant I was constantly jumping zones every few levels and most of that journey was a complete blur.  When I started Outland I did the majority of Hellfire Plateau then jumped over to Terrokar Forest for a little bit before finishing up the grind in Nagrand.  From there I jumped to Northrend and did a good chunk of Borean Tundra before jumping to Grizzly Hills and doing most of it and finally leaping over to Scholazar Basin to finish the run out.  From there we entered the Cataclysm zones and did all of the 80-85 grind in Vashj’ir without actually completely finishing that zone.  Then came Pandaria and I managed to do the entirety of the 85-90 grind without leaving Jade Forest.  From there I went to Draenor where I managed to hit 98 by doing the entirety of Frostfire Ridge and finishing up with just a tiny tiny bit in Spires of Arak.

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This is the point where the express elevator has come to a grinding halt and I’ve been confronted with normal speed leveling because all of my heirlooms petered out at 100.  I chose to do Stormheim first largely because it is both my favorite and least favorite zone at the same time.  All of the Norse themed Vrykul bits are awesome, but all of that faction nonsense is not.  It did give me access to another Order Hall champion quickly however so I am down with that.  At this point I have finished both the main story arc of the zone and the faction bullshit arc and am likely to move on to the next area.  There are a lot of things I have noticed… not the least of which is how ridiculously huge this shield is on my female orc warrior.  It is as thought they scaled the shield for the insanely bulky male models and then just called it good enough for the female ones.  The second of which is how much more intricate and slower paced the Legion content is compared to Pandaria or Warlords.  When I leveled through the content it seemed really quick, but what makes things slog a bit in comparison to what came before is how fragmented the quest hubs quickly become.  This might also be an aspect of the map itself feeling so busy with so many world bosses and objectives hidden out there to slow your journey down.  I cannot resist wasting a few minutes to find a chest that is nearby or going after a mini boss, and as a result my leveling pace has gone to hell.

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At this point I am contemplating investing in a set of Heirlooms which will set me back quite a bit of gold.  It isn’t as much about leveling quickly, it is more about not outpacing the gear I am wearing…. and also not looking like I am picking up scraps from the battlefield while I level.  I’ve liked making outfits for my character up until this point and then progressing my way through the content without having to care too much about swapping out items.  In a perfect world Warcraft would have heirlooms for every slot and I could simply level my alts without ever having to worry about swapping gear out.  With the new races coming in I fully expect to be leveling a lot more alts, and in truth investing in plate 110 heirlooms now will probably helm in the long run given that I tend to play plate wearing classes more than any others.  I am still really bummed about the direction they are taking with artifact weapons.  I would have loved to see them turn them into leveling heirlooms much the way that the items that dropped off Garrosh in Pandaria served this purpose.  It would have been a fitting end to a really awesome chapter of the game to be able to then use those weapons to level your alts.  Still having a lot of fun but I am also ready for the ride to be over and for my character to get geared up.