Regularly Playing: August Edition

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It has been most of the summer since I last updated my sidebar, and a lot of things have changed.  I figured it was high time that I true things up since we are just about to go into the school year, and starting to enter a pretty tightly packed release schedule for the rest of the year.  For those unfamiliar with this feature, I functionally talk about the things that I have added… the things that are remaining… and the things that I am ultimately removing from regular rotation.  I play a lot of games at any given time… and generally speaking the moment I update my sidebar…  I have a wild mood swing game wise that leads me somewhere completely differently.  So here goes nothing!

To Those Remaining

Final Fantasy XIV

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Since I last posted there has been a lot of movement in this game, namely the release of a new expansion called Stormblood.  As a result I swapped my Heavensward icon out for a Stormblood one.  As far as my time in the game…  I’ve reached 70 and 310+ gear on both my Warrior and my Samurai and have fallen off significantly in the amount of time I am actually playing.  There is still plenty to be done, and I want to get back in the swing of playing on a regular basis, however lately I am deep within my own turtle session which means I tend to be favoring games where I don’t have much of a crowd.  Still well within the realm of active games, just only logging in once or twice a day instead of devoting all of my time to it.

To The Returning and New

Guild Wars 2

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This is the first time since picking up the game at launch that I can legitimately say that I am really enjoying myself while playing this game.  For whatever reason it took five years to actually click with me, and now it is like discovering hidden treasure.  I am attempting to do all the things and it is fitting the bill really well because I don’t have much infrastructure in the game currently.  My current goal is reaching 100% in all of the old world zones, which I believe is one of the requirements for starting down the Legendary weapon rabbit hole.  Another huge boon for my enjoyment of the game is the fact that there are now proper beards for non-norn characters.

Rift

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To be honest since its release in 2011 it has never really been far off my radar.  Crawling back into Rift is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket, because it is so familiar.  In the past six years I’ve had highs and lows with the game, but I know that regardless I will always return and always be interested in whatever happens to be going on.  Recently during my turtle mode game play in general, I have been spending a bit of time trying to catch up and hit the Prophecy of Ahnket level cap.  I am also digging the tweaks I made to my default outfit.  Rift in many ways feels like this snapshot of what everyone wanted in a game around its release, and in some ways it is still ahead of its time.  In other ways though it feels like a time capsule to a time when MMO games were slower paced and more methodical.  I still find it enjoyable and am always proud to feature it on my sidebar when I am playing.

Diablo 3

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Another game that is never far off my radar is Diablo 3, and with us currently being in the thrall of another season…  it is obviously occupying some sidebar territory.  This is the first season to feature Necromancers and it has been hilarious to see literally bone spikes for days.  I really don’t have a whole lot to talk about the game because if by now you don’t get my attraction you probably never will.

World of Warcraft

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I have honestly all but stopped playing World of Warcraft, but I am keeping a space on my sidebar for it because of the RoboSquid Armada.  This is effectively our weird brain chain of trying to run every dungeon and raid in World of Warcraft at level in minimal gear.  Prior to the launch of Stormblood we had left off at Blackfathom Deeps and it seems like everyone is coalescing towards starting this up again.  I am more than happy to do some madness with my baby monk.

To Those Departing

Star Wars the Old Republic

If I am being completely honest… I have to say I love what this game has become.  I had this awesome time playing through the Shadows of Revan, Ziost and Fallen Empire content and then I sort of needed a break from deeply story driven gaming.  It was also around about this time that we were ramping up for the release of Stormblood.  At some point in the future when I need to completely dive into something wholly immersive… I will pick this back up and run through the Eternal Throne story line.  I still poke my head in from time to time, but not enough to keep it on the sidebar.

Horizon Zero Dawn

This is one of those games that I really need to finish, but I have a feeling by the time I ultimately get back around to it…  I will functionally need to restart the experience.  This game is a casualty of too many other games coming out at the same time… and ultimately its playtime got eaten up by Mass Effect Andromeda that for whatever reason clicked way harder with me than Horizon did.  I really enjoyed the game but I feel like I am going to have to be in the right frame of mind to actually return to it.

Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild

Another game that has fallen off the radar that I want to start back up at some point is Breath of the Wild.  Two things happened to harm this experience… firstly a bunch of other stuff got released.  Secondly… I picked up the switch and decided to restart the game.  I still play this occasionally but not enough to really keep it hanging out on the right side of the screen.

RoboSquids Vs Stockade

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I am taking a break from my regular E3 regurgitation and commentary…  to talk about what might be the last ride of the RoboSquids for awhile.  This coming Friday is the launch of Stormblood and with it a lot of us will be working on leveling and get settled into that game.  As a result our time for screwing around on low level characters in World of Warcraft is going to be limited.  As a result we decided to tackle the one that we had all been dreading…  the Stormwind Stockades.  Now normally folks just queue up for this dungeon and ignore the fact that like Ragefire… the dungeon entrance is embedded in a faction capitol.  To recap our rules…

  • Level lock at the minimum level for each dungeon
  • Use whatever means necessary in-between levels
  • Attempt all raids even if we superfail
  • Must compete all dungeons at level before moving on
  • No heirlooms in dungeons
  • Must get to the dungeon naturally and zone in
  • Gear cannot be solved by money
  • Blue quality or higher gear can only come from questing, robo-squid group random drops, or bosses at or below our level lock

I emphasized the rule that is the problem here.  At level 20 we had to make our way into Stormwind and get to the zone in for the stockades on our own.  There were four of us… myself, Grace, Mor and Ashgar.  Like with the Deadmines we ultimately chose to enter through the Grom’gol airship and then run up to Stormwind from there.  Two of us chose to take the land route of… Stranglethorn > Duskwood > Westfall > Elwynn and then go through the front door.  Myself and Grace chose to hop on our water striders and try and make it up the coast and then enter through the docks… thinking that might end up missing some of the guard density.  My ultimate goal was to get to Lions Rest which is the shrine that was erected to replace the big empty area that was formerly the park.  My thought was that potentially this had fewer guards and I could then get closer to the dungeon entrance and potentially rez hop my way in.

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The funny thing about this entire trip is that I had no clue that the graveyard assigned to horde players…  is the Eastvale Logging Camp.  I posted a screenshot for reference, each time we died we had to run where my arrow is currently all the way to wherever the hell we died in Stormwind.  Simply running across Elwynn forest each time ate a bunch of time.  While we were doing this run I decided to start streaming it… and looking back it took roughly 50 minutes for all four of us to make our way into the instance area.  We started a race of sorts as we tried to rez our way across Stormwind… and without really meaning to I won.  I had an absolute lucky break in that I could rez up on a significantly higher vertical surface and bypass a lot of the dock area.  Similarly I also had a lucky rez around the Lion’s Rest area and was able to get into the instance area in about 35 minutes.  Grace who also took the dock route joined me at about 44 minutes and then Mor not that long after… and Ashgar having the roughest time getting inside.  Ash however took one for the team early on as he attempted to use the spirit healer at the instance hoping to hop back up right there.  However whatever faction code is in place caused him to resurrect back at the Eastvale Logging Camp.  The funniest part of the night however was the fact that it took us 50 minutes to run there… and 10 minutes to actually do the instance.

After finishing up the Stockades we decided to go ahead and make the push to Blackfathom Deeps.  The ultimate goal would have been to go ahead and finish up the level 20 dungeons and allow us to start leveling towards the next cap of 24.  However moments after all four of us zoned into the instance…  we got disconnected.  Last night the servers as a whole had a significant issue, where folks either could not log in, could not see their characters…  or simply could not finish loading into the game.  Just about when we were going to give up I managed to log into the dungeon…  and shortly after Grace and Mor were as well.  Ash unfortunately was stuck in a disconnect loop, so we opted to start clearing trash hoping he could eventually make it in.  We had cleared to the first boss and were starting to clear the way to the second boss…  when Grace disconnected.  What was worrisome was the fact that she no longer was responding on Discord as well, meaning whatever issue was happening was on her end… not the server.  At this we finally decided that the world was trying to tell us something, and that we should just call it for the night.  The frustrating part however is by the time Grace got back in moments later…  it seems like the servers as a whole had stabilized.  We are not really sure how we are going to do the RoboSquid content going forward, but we might need to set up an almost raid night happening once a week or something.  At this point we have run…

  • Ragefire Chasm
  • The Deadmines
  • Wailing Caverns
  • Shadowfang Keep
  • Stormwind Stockade

Five dungeons down… only One Hundred Fifty Nine instances left to go…

Mixed Results

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Yesterday I spoke about an idea we had of trying to level lock and run dungeons “legitimately” and as a result slowly work our way through the content as a trio.  I personally went with a Brewmaster Monk, a class I have never really devoted much time to playing.  Grace similarly fell into a familiar role of healing, rolling a Mistweaver Monk.  That left Mor with rolling an Assassination Rogue to be our damage dealer.  We went into this experiment quite honestly expecting to largely face roll Ragefire Chasm.  What happened instead was absolutely not anything even vaguely close to facerolling.  From the first pull we knew we were in for some work, given that firstly…  we were in an assemblage of whatever gear we happened to scrape together making our way to 15.  Secondly we were going in as a trio instead of a full five player group.  All in all given how much we underestimated the content…  I feel largely okay about the evening.  We struggled our way through the dungeon, boss after boss until we sat stalled at the final encounter.  Lava Guard Gordoth has this ability called Seismic Slam, that deals damage to all players within 25 yards of the boss.  There is no cast bar or from what I can tell any real way to mitigate this.  The challenge simply put is the fact that this ability was a oneshot, and we could see no real way of avoiding it.

The problem here is that we are quickly realizing that the content is seemingly scaled for players in Heirlooms… and not necessarily gear that you happen to get organically.  When I am in my full heirloom set of gear like pictured above I am sitting somewhere in the vicinity of 1600 health.  When wearing completely legit questing gear…  I am sitting somewhere around 500 health.  Quite simply put we were running into a hard gear wall that we need to scale somehow.  Because we are insane however…  we are planning on attempting to throw a rope over the ramparts and scale that wall anyways.  The first challenge is to decide what the actual firm guidelines are for this project.  Right now we have a handful of rules written in a spreadsheet where we are attempting to keep track of the item levels for each dungeon.  The rules to date look a little something like this.

  • Level lock at the minimum level for each dungeon
  • Use whatever means necessary during the in-between levels
  • Must complete all dungeons at level before moving on
  • No heirlooms in dungeons
  • Must get to the dungeon naturally and zone in
  • Attempt all raids even if we super fail

What we failed to address however is what exactly is fair game for gearing ourselves to be able to complete the content.  There are a bunch of options that I see and they all sorta have their own pluses and minuses.

Continue Questing While Level Locked

This one is pretty straight forward.  Stay level locked and just keep working on quests, with the thought process that eventually you would get good enough gear to be able to complete the content.  The positive here is that it is entirely organic… at least in a fashion, the the negative is you are functionally making the next level grind a bit harder given that you will need to do more grinding and have fewer quests to rely on.  That said we have already agreed that leveling between dungeon locks in heirlooms is completely fair game.

Auction House

Another thing we need to identify is if we are willing to allow purchasing items from the Auction House.  My gut feeling here is no, especially given that we are currently in the twink PVP bracket and some of the decent options are going for as much as 300,000 gold.  It always just feels wrong to buy our way to success in the dungeons.

Pre-Farming Gear

Another option is to simply run our alts through the dungeon and farm up a bunch of greens then trade them around.  If I remember correctly Deadmines drops greens like candy and they should in theory be in the appropriate level range.  I am mostly torn on this one because this is my gut reaction on how to solve a gearing problem… just throw a bunch of greens at it.  However this also maybe tarnishes the legitimacy of the runs.  Similarly we could simply take turns running each others characters through a zone… but that actually feels significantly worse to me given that you are able to pick up boss loot as well as an assortment of random greens that could have dropped anywhere in that level range.

Battlegrounds

Grace and I actually tested this one out and in the grand scheme of things this seems like a reasonable option to get an assortment of greens.  The one match we played we both got really nice at level cap greens that were sizable upgrades over our questing look.  The negative is that for Grace at least it did not seem to respect her loot spec choice and she continued to get agility gear instead of intellect gear.  Additionally as stated this is the twink bracket which means it isn’t exactly the fairest fights in the world.  However wearing heirlooms seemed to put us on a fairly even footing with the twinklords.

Crafted Gear

The potentially best option is to get a bunch of gear crafted that the characters can wear and start with that as a baseline.  The challenge and frustration here is that Blizzard is generally lousy at crafted gear.  It is nearly impossible to create a full set of gear at any given level, so you still wind up wearing a mishmash of items level 5 to 15 in order to finish enough pieces to get a reasonable set of anything.

Random Dungeon Bags

We have all but agreed this one is out of the picture because the gear that comes from the random bags you get at the end of dungeon finder dungeons…  is scaled pretty similar to heirlooms.  That means we will once again gear way past what our ultimately target goal is.  We are looking to make the dungeons a challenge, but somehow find a happy medium where they are also not impossible like Ragefire appeared to be tonight.  We’ve just reached the point where we need to hash out these ideas and potentially come up with others, and lay down some additional ground rules on how we want to gear these characters.  Best to decide it now because we are going to have a lot of gearing in our future.  The awesome thing about this however is that it is making us appreciate greens that we have been thoughtlessly vendoring for years.

RoboSquid Armada

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Myself and a few friends may be deciding to engage in some madness.  The idea spawned out of a discussion about how World of Warcraft would be a more enjoyable leveling experience if it featured the same style of instance level scaling that Final Fantasy XIV does.  For those not familiar, in FFXIV you have a set of levels for a given dungeon much the same as you do in World of Warcraft.  For example Deadmines is generally thought of as a level 15-16 dungeon…  so in this case if it were FFXIV you would zone in and be downscaled to the level of the zone regardless if you are level 25 or level 60.  The other feature of the level scaling is that you are limited to using abilities that exist within that level range… which in itself can be slightly annoying because you might need to do some hotbar swapping.  The experience feels good however and you get to run the dungeons with your friends without necessarily feeling like you are powering them through the content.  For years I have beat the drum of the need for “mentoring” in World of Warcraft, where you can voluntarily drop your level to that of a friend.  While we absolutely know that the level scaling tech could do this… thanks to the Legion zones and Invasion event…  it seems like the Blizz crew simply doesn’t want to add this feature.  So we decided to take things into our own hands.

Years ago they put in a functionality of being able to lock your level and effectively turn off experience gain.  For the most part this was entirely intended to be used by the thriving “twink” PVP scene that flourished during Vanilla and the Burning Crusade expansions.  However some time ago we also used this for the purpose of raiding and I was a tank in a guild called “Years Behind” that attempted to raid all of the vanilla content with level locked 60s.  That derailed a small bit because there was a significant amount of gear that you could equip at 60…  but effectively came from the BC expansion, meaning some of those greens straight up wrecked hard fought purples from the raid content.  Regardless it was a lot of fun to experience the raid content the way it was meant to be experienced, rather than steamrolling it with a bunch of wildly overleveled characters.  The only negative with level locking is that it is a bit cost prohibitive… in that it costs 10 gold every time you want to lock your level… and another 10 gold every time you want to unlock it.  As a result in order to complete this project we decided that we would need a benefactor…  namely the already well geared characters of myself and Grace.  With all of this in mind…  last night we set forth to create a brand new set of low level horde characters.  I myself am playing Belgwyb… a Female Orc Monk with the bluish skintone…  in a slantwise honorific of the best Grand Company leader ever… Meylwyb Bloefhiswyn.  Grace created another Monk but I believe she is going healy, whereas I am of course intending to go tanky.  Finally Mor rolled an undead rogue, which gives us some semblance of proper dps.

The idea is a simple but also probably a slightly insane one.  We level to 15… then lock our level and attempt to run Ragefire Chasm and Deadmines.  If we cannot for some reason complete a dungeon during a fixed level range… we unlock and begin leveling again only to lock later and try again.  The goal being to get through all of the dungeons in the game… especially the vanilla era ones with appropriately leveled and geared characters.  The catch is that we are not using heirlooms at all.  That is for a few reasons… firstly the xp gain boost would make like madness in trying to control our levels and secondly…  using heirlooms is the equivalent of using blue or purple gear all of the time while leveling greatly reducing the difficulty of all encounters.  The other constraint we are placing upon ourselves is that we must run to the dungeon and be able to zone in naturally.  This means for Deadmines we are in fact going to have to do the Gromgol run up to Westfall through a bunch of really nasty stuff that can and probably will straight up wreck us.  I am going to try and convince my companions to let me stream these adventures because I have a feeling they are going to be memorable.  The fact that we are trying things at the right level is increased in difficulty by the fact that there are just three of us doing this, and not a full team of five.  Our first step is to hit 15 however we want… and then we begin the dungeon crawl.  I of course will be sharing our adventures…  good or bad here on the blog.  We formed a guild last night for this process… and named it the RoboSquid Armada because that is apparently what happens when you get the three of us together and tell us to name something.

Invasion Frustrations

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Most of the time I attempt to remain positive about the games I am playing… and at least a good deal of the time it works.  World of Warcraft is one of those titles that I just have too deep a history with to not at any given time be carrying a lot of baggage.  This generally builds up to the point where I write a big long piece complaining about a myriad of things in the game and tend to be super depressing for a bit until I finally cancel my account.  This is in fact a cycle that has played out numerous times in the history of this blog…  initially around Cataclysm and repeating with every expansion to date.  With the launch of Legion I tried something different…  just fading away quietly whenever the time came that I needed to have a break from the game.  For the most part this has worked extremely well, but there are still some residual frustrations.  The thing is…  I get frustrated with World of Warcraft not because it is a horrible gaming experience, but instead for quite the opposite.  There are so many things that the game does right… that I can see the potential of what it could be with a little tweaking here or there.  So when I ultimately write a frustration piece, it comes from a place of love rather than a place of hate.  But in the past this hasn’t felt that different for any of my readers so in large part I have attempted to avoid them entirely.

There is however something that really frustrates me right now happening in game.  With the 7.2 patch it introduced the Broken Shore questing area, and with it started the Legion Invasions.  Now if you have been with this blog for awhile, you will know that I loved the Invasion feature during the lead up to the Legion launch.  I used and abused this feature to level my army of alts to 100…  but in truth also had a really damned good time doing it.  The concept was simple… every 4 hours some new part of the world would be invaded and as a result you could guarantee that any time you logged in, you would have access to an invasion to go run.  I think this “always on” aspect of the event was one of the things I liked most about it.  My personal time schedule didn’t matter so much, but instead I could simply log in whenever it fit me and go do some invasion content.  Unfortunately the reboot does not work this way but instead is limited to two events per day with widely varying start times.  The above image is a cut and paste job from the WoWhead invasion tracker on their front page… and the in game interface.  The invasion that is going on right now started at 2 in the morning CST and the next one will be tonight at 8:30 pm CST.  These invasions are starting every 18 1/2 hours which means if you just happen to hit them at the wrong time… it might be a few days before you see another one.

Why this is frustrating is that it seems arbitrary and unnecessary given there is already a perfectly reasonable solution in place.  Each morning at roughly 10 am there is the daily reset, that clears all of your heroic locks and resets your access to daily quests and such.  The better solution to me would have simply been to leave a given zone hot for 24 hours and each time the daily reset happens switch zones.  So instead of 18 1/2 hours… you end up with 24 hours…  which sure in the grand scheme of things means that fewer invasions are happening but it also guarantees that regardless of your time constraints you are able to get one in every day.  The only reason why I care I guess…  is just like the pre-launch invasions…  I actually like doing them.  Sure there is a shot at gear on the line, but I find the whole process of doing the quests enjoyable because it feels like I am retaking a zone.  Now I imagine the chief problem with this idea is the fact that the invasions themselves were designed to be limited content with each one providing a limited set of World Quests that cause the normal ones in that zone to de-spawn.  That might be an issue were it not for the fact that I know Blizzard has a reasonable instancing technology as exhibited by the fact that the pre-launch invasions all worked in that they zoned you into a fresh instance of the zone that was in the early phases of the quest.  The Broken Shore invasions honestly should have worked similar, in that you zone into whatever the “hot zone” happens to be and get access to the handful of invasion specific world quests… and then get zoned right back out after you have completed the scenario.

The frustration again is that this almost works perfectly, were it not for the frustrating arbitrary gauge of 18 1/2 hours between invasions and the fact that they expire after 6 hours.  I get that they were trying to spread the times around so that they would at least line up once a week for most players with their normal play window.  The end result however feels like the worst possible solution, because unless you happen to be playing 24/7 or setting alarms just to get up for invasion events…  you are going to miss out on a lot of the fun.  There are honestly a whole lot of design options that would have been better.  I know there are technical constraints at work here, but the version we got just doesn’t feel like the best that blizzard could have done.  The problem with this rant is the fact that it is too late to be relevant…  but I still feel like making it regardless.  The 7.2 patch landed back in March and it is now June when I am finally really experiencing it.  The likelihood that any tweaks are made to the way invasions work is also extremely minimal.  The likelihood that anyone from Blizzard reads my blog… is also extremely minimal.  Legion as a whole has been a very unfriendly expansion for playing alts… and the Invasion system is this weird amazing thing for helping push up your alts and gear them.  I personally would probably end up running every single one of my alts through the invasion, but in order to do that right now I have to either play at really strange hours or hope to hit the start at exactly the right time.  I realize this is not a big deal either way, but just spending time this morning pointing out that it could feel so much better.

Deep Rabbit Hole

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What is funny is that my weekend is not really going to shock anyone who has been reading my blog lately…  but it actually shocks me.  I would have thought that this recent obsession with World of Warcraft would have worked its way out of my system just as soon as I reached my goal.  My Orc Deathknight is 110 and rocking gear enough to bring him to 872 which makes the character my second best geared.  Instead of detaching when I reached my goal, or shifting to a brand new product…  I find myself spending more and more time on him.  Right now its the only the second alt that managed to get a hidden artifact appearance, and the only alt so far that has managed to get a legendary.  I am still shocked at just how fast the catch up mechanics can pull you up in the game.  Functionally if I manage to get a second legendary that will put me in contention for item level with Belghast my main.  I think what has helped is just how fun Unholy feels right now.  It is hard to quantify exactly what I like about it… but in part it is a high survival dps build that I can run around doing stuff with.  Back in the day when I first fell in love with my Death Knight it was thanks to the insane damage/survival combination that blood was.  Unholy sort of brings that same thing to the table with the side benefit of having the artifact weapon summon a mini army of the dead every minute or so.

The only negative however is that right now Blood feels horrible, so I don’t really have a tanking option that I enjoy.  I need to sit down and do some more research because I keep thinking that surely I am just playing it wrong.  It feels insanely squishy, and my ability to regen back health also seems way less than I am used to from blood.  In fact right now my Unholy feels way more stable and survivable than Blood… which should be the be all end all of tanky goodness…  or at least it used to be.  At this moment I have both my Unholy and Blood weapon fully unlocked to Broken Shore levels, and both have a decent assortment of relics in them to buff the item level.  Whatever the case though when I choose to play Blood I find myself barely surviving elites…  whereas with Unholy I can rip through them without seeing my health drop significantly.  If I have any blood players among my readers…  I am wondering what am I missing?  What is the ability that makes them playable as tanks?  Going up through the ranks on my DPS characters I have ended up with a bunch of DK tanks… and they all seemed squishy.  I just assumed it was “pug tank” that was the problem and not the class itself, but I am super hoping I am simply just not prioritizing the right abilities or something like that.  Going to spend some time doing research, because I really would love to have a viable tank option horde side that I actually enjoy playing.  Last expansion my “horde main” was my Tauren Paladin… and Paladin tanking is about as exciting for me as watching paint dry.

wardrobemanager

The other thing that I discovered this weekend is an addon thanks to my friend Giulietta.  For awhile now I have already been drifting deep into the Rabbit Hole on Transmog farming trips, but largely in a haphazard and uncoordinated manner.  While hanging out after the raid on Friday, a very sleepy Giu and I got to talking about farming warrior appearance gear and then he shared with me the addon that he has been using.  Functionally m0nAr’s Wardrobe Helper keeps track of everything you have appearance wise from all of the places in the world where you can obtain it.  So for example in the screenshot above I selected Normal mode Scarlet halls… and it shows that I have an Axe that I have not collected the appearance for off of Armsmaster Harlan.  I also noticed this morning that you can pop out a handy mini list to drag somewhere on your screen while you are running the place to keep track of what you are still missing.  While it is not showing it on this screenshot because I have not been farming anything in the Deathknight…  out beside each of the instances it also keeps track of your lockout so you can at a glance see what is and is not open for you to farm.  As a result of this addon I started focusing on the Burning Crusade era instances last night, and I gotta say… seeing the text come across my screen saying I collected a new appearance makes me super happy.  The only problem is… this is a super deep hole that I could be finding myself in… because the addon also gives you completion scores for how much of a given expansion or instance you hav collected.  Giu is already on the road to madness that is trying to hit 100%…  and sadly I am finding myself trailing along behind him willingly.

Lastly… because I decided to start doing this on Monday’s here is this weekends AggroChat podcast.  There may or may not be a part where I cry/sing the first line to the theme for Vernoica Mars.

Topics Discussed:

  • Destiny: Personality Changes in Taken King
  • Stormblood Changes
  • World of Warcraft
  • Deathknight Madness
  • Elder Scrolls Legends
  • Magikarp Jump

Catch Up Mechanics

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Last week I talked about it feeling like it was the end of the expansion in World of Warcraft, and in part that was due to the way that I am playing the game and focusing on alts.  However there is apparently another key way things are starting to feel like the end of the expansion, and that is catch up mechanics.  Now yesterday I posted about pushing through and dinging 110 the Legion expansion level cap on my Orc Deathknight.  I managed to find a couple of lucky grabs on the auction house including 3 cheap pieces of demonsteel at 835 item level and a cloak at 870 item level.  Other than those items however I managed to scrape together what is a reasonable item level to start going and doing stuff…  in a single nights time between a combination of world quests, legion invasions, and opening the broken shore.  When I first saw the Dauntless items I found them a little underwelming…  but that was on my already 890 main character.  The fact that you can start picking up 850+ items for 400 nethershards…  when I walked into the Broken Shore with roughly 4000 of them…  allowed me to really flesh out those missing gear slots.  The only negative there is that the rings and trinkets are both “Unique Equipped” which were sadly the two slots I needed the most.  Thankfully during the invasion event last night I managed to pick up a second ring at 840, taking my item level to the point where I could apparently start queuing for Looking for Raid.

Now I am not sure what the item level breaks are for the various LFR segments… but I was honestly shocked to find out that I could queue for Nighthold without having done anything in Emerald Nightmare or Trials of Valor.  Before heading to bed I did the first part of Nighthold and picked up an 860 necklace and an 860 artifact.  So other than a few strategic grabs from the auction house…  I managed to pick up everything else I needed to gear a character in a single night.  I am now sitting at 846 item level… and will probably finish doing the rest of LFR tonight hoping to pick up a few more pieces.  I also need to start running dungeons so that I can complete the Death Knight Order Hall sequence…  and during the day today the final missions that I need to run should be finished.  I guess while sitting on a higher level character I didn’t notice just how quick the item level ramps up, but while out roaming the world on a brand new character it is extremely noticeable.  It definitely seems the end of expansion catch up mechanics are in full effect, as the game attempts to usher you closer and closer to that 900ish item level.  I still have yet to get a Legendary, but in truth I have only been trying to two nights now.  I also need to research how exactly to get the alternate artifact appearances, because while I am not expecting to go crazy and start farming for them like I did on my Warrior and Paladin…  I do however don’t want to miss easy opportunities when they come up.

The other interesting thing I am noticing… is that playing Horde on a server cluster where the Alliance greatly out numbers you…  leads to some interesting interactions with other players of the same faction.  The two items I got from LFR I was functionally handed by other players who were offering them to me.  Also while out in the world on Broken Shore especially…  the horde seems to do the same sort of thing that I do in open world zones on my warrior.  That is help random players.  There are a lot of cases where I was straight getting wrecked and another player ran up and started attacking the same mobs to help me push through them faster.  Up to this point I really haven’t had much in the way of communication, so maybe I am just reading intent into their actions where it really isn’t there.  Just saying so far it has not been a horrible experience, and at least the public channels are not clogged with madness the way they are Alliance side.  I still have a significant problem with the Horde in general…  not from a factional standpoint but from the standpoint that “bestial humanoid” is not really the sort of thing that I flock to in games.  However Orc seems to be a happy medium for me, and I’ve come to this realization pretty much any time I play one.  Every other Horde race and I have significant issues.  The Tauren are just too big and feel lumbering and slow.  The undead and trolls… I cannot get past the hunched posture… or the tusks…  or the missing bits of armor.  Bloodelves have the problem of being the most elvish elves ever…  and if you have been around my blog for long you know my distaste for all things elf.  The goblins in theory are an option….  but they sorta end up being played for comic relief much in the same way that gnomes do that that annoys me.  The Horde really missed their opportunity to make a lifetime member of me when they failed to somehow recruit the Dark Iron Dwarves.  For the moment however I am largely okay with being a blue green guy with a Mowhawk and Mutton Chops.

Deathlord Rises

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For those not in the United States… apologies for taking yesterday off from the blog.  I had an insanely busy weekend, and it was about half way through yesterday that I finally realized that it was in fact a Monday…  and not a Sunday.  Extended holiday weekends always feel a little odd, because it just seemed like I had two different Saturdays.  One of the Saturdays we went to Oklahoma City in a whirlwind trip to hit the three Half Priced Books they have…  in an attempt to get there and back before the tornadic storms hit that evening.  Thankfully for the most part all we got was some rain…  and not the grapefruit sized hail that they had been warning us about.  Then Saturday number two…  aka Sunday…  we spent the day deep cleaning the house and working in the backyard.  I once again have flower babies, that are going to need to be watered in a few minutes whenever I finish this post.  I am going to give them some time to acclimatize to the back yard before taking any photos.  Additionally right now our pool is a lovely shade of green because we are fighting an algae bloom…  so hoping that clears up as well before I snap some photos.  Then of course yesterday was me hanging out and doing nearly two weeks worth of laundry…  because we were lazy as hell last weekend.  I wound up going to sleep around 9:30 last night instead of the usual midnight…  because maybe the crazy weekend was catching up with me.

In gaming news… I played a silly amount of World of Warcraft.  Like I am not really certain what is going on but much like Grace I find myself in a mini renaissance with the game.  It is funny how when I didn’t have flight I didn’t think I really missed it.  I have always been one of those people who espouse the philosophy that not having flying during the early days of an expansion is a better thing.  It forces us to get down in the weeds and not to skip quite as much content.  That said… it is funny just how much more enjoyable the game has been since I could zip around wherever I wanted to go.  I had zero desire to play alts prior to getting the Legion Pathfinder achievement and flight…  and suddenly afterwards its like the skies have opened to a whole new day.  I had mentioned before that I am now working on my first 100+ hordie and choosing to do it on this low population server that Grace has the majority of her horde characters on.  That in itself has been an interesting experience.  The challenges have been that there simply are not that many people out in the world so when you encounter something you cannot solo… it might be a bit before another player happens to wander along.  The benefit however is that there are always plenty of ore nodes to mine and I figure when I start Broken Shore I will have zero issue finding treasure chests.  I figure if I am going to stick around for long… I will have to at least level my tanking weapon so I can solo things a bit easier.

For the moment however I am loving being an Unholy Death Knight.  Last night I managed to get about halfway to 109, which I hope means that I can push across the finish line to 110 tonight and begin properly gearing my character.  I am completely caught up in the Order Hall quest line, and to the point where I have to be 110 to get the next step.  I am sorta fast tracking my way through Stormheim at the moment, and if need be I will do the same in High Mountain.  Years ago I compiled a list of the order in which you should do SWTOR planets and bonus series in order to get the most bang for your buck…  and if I am going to do more alts I feel like I need to come up with the same sort of thing for classes and the order hall campaign.  Grace has a good idea in that she waits to do the order hall dungeon steps until she has opened up that zones quest as well.  Had I done this… that would have meant starting Highmountain First and not Azsuna like I usually do.  As I have a mountain of alts still to level it would be nice to have some sort of a guide to go off of… and most of this information is available through a series of other sites…  but not really written out as plainly as I would have liked.  So that might be a little bit of homework going forward.  I know that when Stormblood hits I am going to lose a lot of my gusto in World of Warcraft, so I guess in a way I am trying to get the most out of this moment.

Side Note:  You should totally check out our AggroChat where we talk about the May game of the month Wolfenstein New Order

 

Not Squishy At All

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I am having one of those mornings where I am struggling to find anything I feel is worth actually talking about.  The last few days I have been sick and as a result I have been living in this weird little bubble world.  I mean prior to this I had already been in a pretty deep turtle phase where I largely kept to myself, but when you add illness to the mix its like I forget the world exists.  As a result I have been deep into comfort gaming territory, which in this case means World of Warcraft and doing all sorts of random PVE stuff that no one is actually doing.  I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in old raids attempting to get set piece drops.  Similarly I have been roaming all over Draenor which is almost completely empty these days, and picking off rare mobs left and right for achievements.  I spent a good deal of time yesterday for example in Tanaan Jungle killing the big named mobs for mount chances and farming up Apexis crystals for that moment eventually when I get 150,000 and can purchase the spiffy fel themed mount.  All of which are not super important activities but give me just enough focus to take my mind off the fact that I can’t actually breathe.

I of course have also been keeping up with the Broken Shore content… even though it feels like I should be wrapping that in quotes.  Broken Shore feels like the most “more of the same” items I have seen in awhile.  Sure there are world mini bosses that are constantly spawning, and sure there is a new batch of world quests for you to do… and sure there is a weirdly futile base building mechanic…   but it all sorta feels like we have done it all so many times at this point that it is just busy work.  I mean it is busy work that I am doing because at least in theory it is busy work that should someday lead to the class themed mount.  However I am wondering how much more I care about it at the moment, and if I don’t shift into a “only hanging out on Friday nights” mode for the raid.  I have been greatly enjoying doing that and seeing the people I missed.  It is even sounding like I might cycle into a primary tank role for Friday nights to let the Wednesday night tanks have the night off.  In truth Fury is a fine spec, but it will probably only be something that I use for farming old world content or if someone really needs me to dps something.

I am just a prot warrior through and through.  Other than the two expansions where I flirted with playing a Deathknight…  I have been a Warrior for as long as I can really remember.  Sure my first raid main was a hunter, but as soon as I could get into tanking raid content I did…  even to the point of joining a completely different raid team to make that happen.  There is just something about the player fantasy about being this unstoppable object that appeals to me.  Like for example I really enjoy the fact that protection is a reasonably viable spec for player versus player content.  I take great pleasure in watching enemy players decide it is a good idea to attack me.  Like I am the least aggressive player while flagged, and I am generally going to leave you the hell alone pending you leave me alone while I do those PVP flagging world quest dailies.  However there is always somebody that wants to poke the bear…  and in doing so they get to learn the lesson of just how impossible it is to take me down in a one versus one situation.  In truth there are lots of times I am easily juggling three players as they attempt to attack me.  There was a moment from some time ago where it finally took five players focusing down on me to bring me down out in Stormheim.

So last night when a random Fury warrior decided it was a good idea to attack me while doing the PVP Naga daily…  and never actually managed to take more than 10% health off of me…  I had to chuckle.  I am definitely a PVE minded player, but if you mess with me I will stun your ass and wreck you.  That said I am normally more in the mode of helping out my fellow cross faction buddies and spent some time last night pulling packs of murlocs  so that people could get their Squirky battle pets.  This was apparently a limited time event and spawns on an island off the west coast of Azsuna.  Said island is filled with a bunch of elite murloc packs that are hyper aggro just like any other murloc in the world.  As a result I spent a good time just gathering stuff up and farming it down so players could fly in and get their pet… then get the hell out.  I have to say it was a challenge just clearing myself of enough aggro to be able to get out of combat to fly off the island when I finally decided it was time to go.  The end result is an extremely high fidelity Murloc battle pet…  albeit a fairly ugly colored one.  However since I love my murlocs… I will add this to all of the blizzcon themed murlocs I have hanging out in my pet storage.

 

Leave the Game Better

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Last night as I was winding down for the evening I ended up getting pulled into a discussion about positivity and the Warcraft community.  I’ve long been a proponent of doing whatever I can to try and make MMO gaming environments better for other players.  I am what I would  call a “world tank” meaning that I permanently run around in tanky stance while questing and often times go out of my way to “tank” things that don’t even matter to me.  If I am riding through a zone and I see a squishy player fighting a boss mob… then nine times out of ten I am going to hop off my mount and charge over to help out.  I don’t even care about factional boundaries here, and I am one of those players that is just as likely to help out the Horde as I am the Alliance when it comes to taking the threat onto myself and letting people kill their monsters in peace.  I’ve been graced with a class that simply cannot die under most circumstances… and I sort of feel like it is my duty to help other people out whenever I can.  I cannot count the number of times I have been doing a quest and had someone roll up late…  and then continued to pull packs of elites just to make sure they finished their quest.  They always seem sorta surprised when I send them a tell asking them “how many more” they need for the quest.  Growing up I was in scouting, and even managed to get my Eagle… and there was a rule of camping that went a little something like “leave the campsite in as good of condition if not better”.  I sort of have this same view towards MMOs or the world in general honestly…  if I can improve the world by my presence I am going to shoot for that.

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Prior to the launch of Legion, I had gotten used to some of the cultural norms in Final Fantasy XIV.  Namely people talk during dungeon runs… at least enough to give a friendly introduction at the beginning and at the end. In part this is because there is a system in place over there that allows you to give a single commendation each run, to whatever player for whatever criteria you feel fit the situation.  I give them out for all sorts of reasons…  glorious outfits, extremely competent dps, or just someone being jovial and friendly.  In part this friendly atmosphere exists… because they reward you being nice to other players, and will straight up ban you for talking about damage meters in game.  It creates this weird bubble where things don’t work there the way they work in any other MMO community.  Knowing this… with the launch of Legion and as we started queuing up for content… I started trying to apply the same logic the World of Warcraft and shockingly more often than not it worked.  Just breaking the ice at the beginning of a run with a “Hey Folks!” seemed to go an awfully long way in improving the experience as a whole.  I noticed my usual silent runs become perforated with discussion, as it was like one person saying something broke down whatever dam was there preventing conversation.

Another thing I have done this expansion cycle that seems to have helped my own attitude is that I am just not dissecting the game and tearing it apart like I used to.  I am trying really hard to just take things at face value, and more often than not completely ignore the patch note cycle until I am ready for something.  Sure this means I have not exactly been on top of the ball on a lot of things…  like Broken Shore, and have been doing things in a grossly inefficient manner.  However it also means that I am not exposing myself to a lot of external stimuli until I am actually ready to consume it.  More than this however…  I just haven’t shared my doubts publicly because I haven’t felt the need to.  A few weeks into the Nighthold raid cycle I disappeared from the game, and faded away quietly.  I just felt like I wasn’t enjoying myself nearly as much as I was when doing other things.  So I simply walked away and did other things for awhile.  There was a moment where I could make a clean break, and my raid had a tank to step in and take over for me.  In the past I would have felt the need to explain to my readers why I did this.  Instead I just left and eventually put some thoughts together in my big “regularly playing” post, but even that probably wasn’t needed other than I was catching up my sidebar…  which is already completely out of date again.  However because I didn’t really make a big deal about it… it was so much easier to just slide back into the game a few months later when the mood hit me again.

While it might sound odd, I think for me not writing about World of Warcraft and its failings…  helped me to feel better about the game for the long term.  It also kept some negative vibes out of the community.  Sure I currently have a laundry list of things that bug me about the game, but I have come to a point of acceptance that World of Warcraft will never actually be the “one true game” for me.  I know that I will keep venturing off to play other games because it is in my nature, and that it will still feel enjoyable to keep coming back and revisiting all of my friends in the WoW.  In part this is why I am so excited that Destiny 2 is now going to be entering this same realm.  For well over a decade I have cultivated a community in the Blizzard games, and it seems like it is going to be awesome to be able to take all of these people with me into another love of mine when it launches on the PC.  While I would love to see Blizzard as a company make an attempt to instill a positive attitude in its players by introducing systems that reward the good apples…  more than systems that punish the bad, I largely accept that it is going to be up to me and players like me to be the agent of change in the world.  I know we all keep returning to the MMO space to decompress from our days out in the real world… but there is nothing keeping us from being a little nicer to one another in our adopted second home.  Games tend to develop a culture of support or toxicity… and maybe I am naive but I feel like a game can change.  I feel like we can slowly erase the toxic nature that has developed over the years and put back in its place one that is largely supporting of others.  Now this doesn’t just apply to WoW, but is I think an admirable goal in any game you play.