Shovels and Shoveltusks

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I declared Thursday and Friday to be part of the weekend last week and decided to take myself four days off from the blog and one week off from the podcast.  I feel super chill going into what is likely going to be an exceedingly stressful week so I think it was probably a good call.  Apart of having to help my folks move some furniture yesterday, I mostly had a pretty chill thanksgiving.  Both Friday and Saturday my wife and I attempted to avoid the world, and the only shopping we really did was online apart from a mad dash out to Target around 9 pm on Friday.  At that point the store was largely sane and wasn’t that much different than a normal trip on any other night.  Throughout all of this I have found myself forsaking my normal checking of Pokemon Go in favor of the relatively newly released Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.  First off I have to admit I have never played an animal crossing game before so I didn’t have much of a cultural frame of reference going into this.  The experience instead reminds me a lot of a mix between the former web based casual MMO Glitch and some flavors of Stardew Valley.  Whatever you end up calling it the game is extremely charming and at this point I am level 16 and have a bunch of the animals at my campsite…  enough that the last three or four gave me a messaging saying there was no room.  Unfortunately I have no clue how you actually determine which ones are at your camp and which ones are not…  but for the moment I am rolling with it.

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I’ve also seemingly hit whatever the friend cap is because when I try and add anyone it says that combined between my friends list and the few outstanding requests I have run out of room.  I have no clue what this cap actually is…  I estimated 200 the other day but I am guessing in truth it is closer to 100.  The game is maybe bad at messaging some things but I am largely limping along without doing much in the way of research.  There is a quarry mini-game that requires you to get help from five of your friends, and I wish they messaged when my friends were needing help a little better.  For example if you look at the middle section of the above screenshot you will see a shovel icon out to the side of Kelsey’s name.  I wish there was a way to sort these to the top of the list because they are really the ones I am most interested in given I like helping other players, because you appear to get some sort of cut of their profits.  After that you attempt to guess which rocks have the most profitable stones…  gold nuggets seem to be the best.  I still very much feel like I don’t fully grasp a lot of things…  like how the hell to make large quantities of Bells that Animal Crossing currency.  Right now I have a 30,000 bells loan with the auto place and have never really gotten close to paying it off.  Thankfully they don’t seem to be sending anyone to break my kneecaps because of it though, and they still allowed me to customize my RV regardless of having the loan out.  I feel like maybe they don’t have the best business model.  Regardless if you have not been playing this you should probably check it out because it definitely seems to be addictive as hell given the wide variety of friends that seem to be playing it on a regular basis.

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I made a bunch of progress in Destiny 2 but I am likely going to wait until tomorrow to talk about that.  Instead I wanted to talk a bit about the other game I played over the break…  World of Warcraft.  I am still working on my tiny Orc Warrior that is getting less and less tiny as each week goes by.  At this point I have completed the Cataclysm content and am on the airship just about to start the invasion of Pandaria.  This is something I have never actually done on the horde side given my last several characters I leveled were abusing the shit out of the pre-legion launch invasions.  I’ve also not spent much time playing through Warlords of Draenor as a Horde character, so that should be interesting as well.  Similarly I have never seen Legion as the Horde…  all things I am interested in experiencing first hand.  The biggest shock for me is just how fast Cataclysm managed to go given that I started in on Vashj’ir Saturday night and dinged level 85 well before finishing the final section of it Sunday evening.  I realize that zone is in theory about the same size as two other zones combined…  but I did not expect to be getting quite that much experience from it.  Granted I am fully geared out in level 100 heirlooms (minus the rings because I don’t have the patience for that nonsense), but did not partake of any of the experience boosting options.  The mission of the day however is to try and figure out how to get a Pandaria flying book…  because I do not want to return to land based leveling if I can help it.

Tinfoil Hats and Legion

Nostalgia is Strong

Once again this week I have not really consumed much media, so I don’t have enough material to really do one of my normal Saturday morning columns.  Additionally I am still mired in this nostalgic bomb that is World of Warcraft Legion information.  I’ve still managed to stay “clean” but I know at this point it is only a matter of time before I renew my World of Warcraft account, and at least take a “taste”.  As quietly as Alt seemed to think, yesterday information about the Legion Beta client started trickling out on the data mining sites, and I have to say there is a bunch of interesting information.  So this morning I thought I would talk a bit about some of the theories I have running around in my brain.  Firstly there seems to be a much more heavy Vrykul theme than I originally thought.  I realize that one of the islands we will be visiting is essentially run by the Vrykul, and since they have more or less lost their connection to the Lich King, I am assuming we will not longer have the Valkyr resurrecting them and creating undead versions.

Much of the armor we have seen datamined has that same feel, which only serves to damage my calm all the more.  This expansion is starting to seem like an amalgam of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King which pretty much represent the pinnacle of my enjoyment of the game.  I feel like this is absolutely what they had intended, and then when you combine actually letting us venture into the Nightmare…  they are essentially throwing everything at the screen and hoping that we love whatever it is that they come up with.  There are so many warning klaxons going off in my head telling me that the end result will never live up to the hype.  The problem is there is a hyper kid in my head on a sugar rush telling me how awesome it COULD be…  and is slowly winning out.  Basically the adult in me is losing and I am finding myself paying closer and closer attention to Legion beta information.  More than anything I am just hoping they give me a Death Knight that is fun to play again.

King Anduin

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I’ve said before that in the Legion trailer, I thought we would be witnessing the death of Varian Wrynn because for a few moments… you think exactly that is going to happen.  That is not in fact how the trailer ends up…  but as I was preparing for it… it started me thinking that I believe over the last several expansions Blizzard has been preparing us for this.  Bit by bit they have been grooming Anduin to take the throne, and in the datamined information we can see that once again he is getting a significant upgrade in model.  Similarly we see Anduin not Varian as one of the avatars we the players get to play.  I think it is pretty much an inevitability that something will happen to Varian and cause Anduin to take the throne, bringing with him a much more three dimensional and reasoned character than that of his father.  I like Varian just fine…  but he was always sold to us as “our” Thrall, but that promise has never really materialized.

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The game as a whole is still to some extent dominated by the evolution of “Green Jesus”.  Maybe this expansion will be different, and maybe this expansion we will see Varian as something more than a dude with two badass swords and a penchant for war.  That has always been the problem with playing Alliance, it never felt like we had a really strong focus to rally around.  The horde have such a strong identity, and that reverberates with the players that love that faction.  The alliance on the other hand, has no shared struggle…  no central driving focus that they can rally behind.  We have a bunch of really interesting secondary characters, consistently rallied behind a significantly less interesting central character.  I had hoped that we would exit out of Warlords with Yrel, but all signs seemed to point to her staying on Draenor.  Then we have awesome characters like Genn Greymane that never actually got the promise of being a true and proper leader with their own city.  You can see that Genn also got a really nice model update, but my working theory is that this has something to do with one of the artifact weapon quests… and sadly not that we might be able to actually use Gilneas as a proper city.

Lava Man

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I find it hilarious that after all of these years… the model is still called “Lava Man” in the back end, instead of Bolivar or even the Lich King.  This is obviously an updated version of the Lich King model, and I am wondering where exactly he will factor into the new content.  My theory is that this is probably related to the Artifact weapon quest chain, but then a part of me wonders…  if we are essentially creating an expansion with the best parts of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, are they going to set the Lich King up for a return as well?  We are after all seeing Illidan as part of this expansion, and it is a high likelihood that after all of these years Bolivar would lose his control over the power of the Lich King.  I always questioned the sanity of allowing Bolivar to hold this position… even though it seemed pretty badass at the time.  Surely eventually the power of the throne and the helm would overwhelm him… and he would in fact turn into a proper “new” Lich King.

With Legion could we be setting in a chain of events that would end up triggering a reboot of the Lich King content essentially?  Where the Scourge under the direction of the new Bolivar Lich King would once again ravage Azeroth?  There is part of me that doubts they would do something that blatant… but then again I never expected to see Illidan again.  There is of course another option.. we might end up fighting along side the scourge under the control of Bolivar as they serve as a nearly limitless army to take on the Burning Legion.  I guess it all depends on just how big this conflict gets before the end of the expansion.  The problem is… as I let all of these theories and ideas out of my head… the more I am wanting to log into World of Warcraft in its current state and play.  I know that the same game is there that I left several months ago, and that most of the things I am really interested in wont be here until Legion.  The stranglehold of nostalgia however is absolutely a thing.

Fighting Nostalgia

The Afterglow

During the midst of the BlizzCon festivities I tweeted the above statement… and at the time I thought this would be a brilliant idea.  BlizzCon brings up feelings in me at least that I didn’t even realize were still there about a game I have not been actively playing for six months.  So yeah… it seemed like if they would just automagically make it so everyone can log in and play during BlizzCon and the two weeks after… they would probably re-hook a lot of players on the game or at least get them to stick around for a few months.  The problem being…  two weeks is probably long enough to make someone come to their senses.  I phrase it like that because I am going through a bout of momentary insanity myself.  Every instinct in my body tells me that I really want to play some World of Warcraft, which is odd because nothing really seemed that amazing while the presentations were going on.  There is just something about the BlizzCon buzz that is real and tangible and makes you want to sift through your past characters and revisit old haunts that you had long forgotten.

I am having these desires to log in and run Icecrown Citadel or Naxxramas… or even Ulduar.  Basically this is 100% nostalgia attacking me and making me want to go experience what I considered to be the best era of the game.  I am fighting the urge with every fiber of my being because I know as soon as Tuesday happens… I will be devoting my life to Fallout… and thinking “Warcraft who?”.  I know I could log in and play sub level 20 characters, and I have considered that… but have not been certain if that would make the desire better or just worse.  The problem is… I don’t REALLY want to play World of Warcraft… I want to play the game circa 2009 when we were still in love with the Wrath of the Lich King patch cycle.  Some of the Legion content seems like it could be really cool, and I do hope with every fiber of my being I somehow find my way into Beta, but I know all that waits for me on the live game is the same stuff that lead me to finally cancel my account again.  Yes I am rationalizing the hell out of this because I am just trying to hold out until I am safely in a Vault Wednesday.

 Closer to Sleeper

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The above image was me yesterday morning while I wrapped up the AggroChat podcast and made my own blog post, waiting and hoping and praying to see a Warsat drop.  Part of the time I spent trying to make Destiny Event Tracker work… which it does… but it feels like there is a paragraph of explanation text that needs to go with it that simply does not exist.  It seems like this is a timer that shows when an event MAY spawn, and some of the spawn zones are not exactly active.  For example I really do think that the Warsat simply no longer drops in Skywatch because of all of the other events that are happening there now.  I waited that timer out for a significant amount of time and never saw one.  However once I switched over to checking the Mothyard on earth, aka the location in the above image… I quickly got a Warsat and was able to move on.  Similarly quickly I was able to get both the Mars and Moon Warsat drops which were pretty much accurate according to the timers listed above.  That only left the archives mission on Venus, which I know I MUST have done at some point….  but damned if I can remember doing it at any point in the past.  Maybe there is a special version if you are on the sleeper stimulant quest chain, but I do not remember something quite like that.

I have now finished powering up the Ikelos core, and have turned it in to the Gunsmith.  In theory tomorrow with the reset he should offer me a new quest to go do a 280 light version of the Saber-2 strike.  If I can cobble together a group for that, I should be able to loot the sleeper stimulant frame, which at least based on what I am reading will turn in at the Gunsmith for my finished 290 Sleeper Stimulant heavy pulse rifle.  This will be the first of the exotic weapon quests that I have really completed… not counting the one you get from the gunsmith at rank 4.  It definitely feels less arbitrary than the exotic bounties used to in year one.  In all of the bounties I completed I only ever got the bounty for the last word.  This at least gives me a ladder that I can climb, with more importantly a starting rung of that ladder that is clear….  well clear based on using external sources.  I am not sure how the hell people figured these things out the first time… it seems like pure madness since the game doesn’t really give you much information to go on.  I guess Bungie is accounting for the fact that the internet and YouTube is pretty much ubiquitous and someone somewhere would upload a video on how to do pretty much everything you can think of.  I still at some point need to get the Cult Ghost from Paradox so I can eventually get No Time to Explain.  Since my hunter is my Future War Cult devotee, I am thinking maybe I should try for it on them because at this point they should have all of the faction needed to complete the quest.

Matter of Perspective

Unexpected Route

Yesterday I set out with the mission of running the rest of my characters through LFR, but after some frustrations with a couple of bad tanks… I decided to retreat into the comfort of leveling.  The problem is…  leveling through Wrath content feels extremely slow.  The way they lay quests out just is not conducive to burning through them.  I began the day at 71 and after a  few hours I had finally dinged 72, so I figured I would take a break and run a dungeon.  Apparently somewhere along the way I had forgotten just how good Wrath era dungeon experience was.  I quickly shifted from questing my way across north rend to chain running dungeons.

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I am generally the most anti-pug person you could imagine, but for whatever reason as I said the other day… if I am dpsing I have the patience of a saint generally.  What I found surprising however was just how painless the whole event was.  We had one tank rage quit because we did not clear the optimal number of mobs, and someone aggro’d one pack too many.  After calling us all noobs and leaving we got another tank within seconds and completely the dungeon without issues.  We had another tank that did not know which way he was going in Gundrak and after going swimming with the angry fishes for an extended period of time several of the people afk’d out of the dungeon, and I joined them.  Other than those two instances… I had 26 instances of success.

At times the group was chatty, other times they were utterly silent.  In all cases however we succeeded without much effort.  It feels like they have nerfed the dungeons to the point at which anyone can run them without much thought.  As a rogue I pretty much spammed Fan of Knives as we pulled huge packs of mobs.  I found it surprising how quickly I hit 80.  Thanks to the handy dandy statistics inside of World of Warcraft I know I ran exactly 26 dungeons to get from 72 to 80, which was the better part of a day.  However this is definitely the express elevator through wrath content, and I feel like I will do this with pretty much all of my alts that have yet to clear that hurdle.  In fact I am considering today once I have gotten a bit of gear, to do the same with the 80-85 climb.

Matter of Perspective

Maybe my fear and loathing of pugs is unfounded?  Maybe it really is a simple and efficient way to level?  Maybe chain running LFR has just given me a perspective on what I should expect from others?   In any case it was not nearly the traumatic experience I had expected.  I figured I could stomach anything for a single group, however I found the experience rather refreshing.  It may simply be that at this point everyone knows the wrath instances like the back of their hand, and can pretty much run them on autopilot.  In any case I might have to revise my opinion of pick-up groups.  That’s one of my good traits however is that none of my opinions are so intractable that they cannot be changed.  After all I had sworn off World of Warcraft for years, and now find myself enjoying the hell out of it again.  Just like everything in life, I feel that it is all a matter of perspective.

Quintessential Quintet

Farewell to Arts

 

I did another really quick video yesterday since we are supposed to have an impending server reset.  In the holiday weekend since the last restart folks have filled the server with all sorts of nifty stuff.  So I thought I would do a really quick video showcasing some of the cooler things.  The highlight for me is the alligator.  I am wondering who built it, because seriously it was perfect.  The server has essentially exploded with pixel art everywhere, some of it seeming to be freehand which is pretty amazing.  While this is all interesting I am hoping soon we get a bit more substance.

It was rumored that we would be seeing a new patch today or tomorrow and in it I am really hoping they introduce two things.  Firstly I want to see the crafting system and all the nifty things it can produce.  This is likely going to be a massive thing because this also means they will likely change they way the blocks work so that we actually harvest them instead of just destroying them.  Currently the game works a lot like Minecraft creative mode, where you have pretty much unlimited resources to place at your disposal.  While this is cool for free range building, the game however right now is lacking a “game”.  Wandering around and exploring, engaging in combat is fun but I feel like we need something to give us a sense of purpose.

The second thing I want badly is the cornerstone concept, aka your plot of lands that persists to each server you play on, and that no one else can disrupt.  Part of why I have not built much of anything yet is the fact that we still have way too many mad bombers on the server all to willing to destroy your hard work.  In fact I railed on Shawn Shuster of Massively a bit in the video as in his walkthrough that was posted yesterday… he was all too happy to blow up other peoples creations. 

There have already been some pretty epic works of art destroyed by some idiot who would not suppress their inner poo flinging monkey long enough to appreciate what had been created.  While I realize this is a side effect of having a game with no rules yet, it still depresses me to see the world as Swiss cheese.  I am sure once the new patch has gone life I will do another quick video showing off what it added.  So stay tuned to my channel and I will post something up there as soon as it is available.

Quintessential Quintet

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Also last night I managed to push my paladin Exeter to 90 and with it came an achievement that I was not expecting.  Apparently Quintessential Quintet is a thing?  I cut an odd path on this one, by the time I left Jade Forest I was already 87 thanks to all the mining nodes.  From there I made a beeline for Kun Lai, and critpathed my way through the zone until I reached the quest chain that lead to Townlong.  Similarly in Townlong I quested my way through the Shadopan chain until I reached the jumping point for Dread Wastes.  All of which was to set myself up perfectly to be able to start working on Klaxxi quests as quickly as possible.

Why you might ask?  This is my blacksmith, and all the nifty things you can create seem to be on the Klaxxi vendor.  Namely I wanted to be able to start creating masterwork weapons for all my other characters as I get them to 90.  That seems to be the big weakness as it comes to the Timeless Isle content.  You can gear your alts up with 496 extremely rapidly, but you have a few glaring holes…  namely your weapons.  Also I seem to have a much harder time getting Curios for trinkets, and the neck/ring slots to drop on the Timeless Isle.  So as a result I have ended up spending a fair amount of time trying to remediate their gear just so I can be able to queue for something.

Timeless Isle is nifty, but I really miss the equivalent of the Icecrown 5 mans.  I wish there were heroics that I could run that actually provided something viable for filling out a set of gear.  I feel as though they should really have put in a new 5 man that dropped 496 weapons to go with all the gear they are handing out like candy.  Even with epics…  a crappy weapon is still a crappy weapon.  Right now my paladin for example is using the treasures of pandaria BOA one handed sword that you find on the ground.  Which is better than anything he has gotten yet, but at least being able to create the masterwork hammer will be something slightly better.  I think those are 463 ilvl which is essentially what the heroic gear is.

What Next?

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I have to say getting Exeter to 90 was a pretty cool thing.  He technically was the very first character I created, and my intended main.  For years my internet handle was “Exeter” and quite honestly “Belghast” was my main over in DAoC, and it was not until late in Vanilla that I started to play that character as a main.  All the while through vanilla my main was Lodin the hunter, and it was an almost accidental occurrence.  I had a death in the family that pulled me away from Warcraft a few weeks after the release of the game.  As a result I got rapidly outpaced by the rest of the guild, and back then soloing a Paladin was a truly painful experience.

Hunters were the gods of soloing, so I started leveling Lodin just to be able to keep up with my friends.  Within a very short amount of time I had caught up, and when we hit 60… I got drafted into the raid group of a guild member as they wanted to replace a troublesome hunter.  I had no intent to actually play a hunter as my main, and in truth I am not terribly suited for the class… but I did for almost all of Vanilla because it was my “Raid main”.  Once you start playing a character in a raid group you are pretty much committed to always play that character until they no longer need it.  The positive effect however is that I met so many life long friends through raiding, and that the Late Night Raiders hunters were all such amazing people.

As soon as Burning Crusade was released, I saw this as my opportunity to leapfrog Lodin in gear and start playing Belghast as my main.  That is the awesome thing about expansions, the gear reset lets you change your focus.  From that point until the tail end of Wrath of the Lich King, I was a warrior main tank.  It was not until I needed a break from the hot seat that I switched focus to the Deathknight and fell in love with it.  All of this time I felt horrible for leaving Lodin abandoned in the dustbin.  It was not until Cataclysm that I actually managed to level him out of the outlands.  During one of my last sessions playing I pushed him up to Pandaria levels, so I feel as though it is probably his time to shine again.  I pretty much permanently run around in Giantstalker transmog in honor of the fun times I had with him raiding during those early days of Vanilla WoW.