The Horizon

A few days ago I saw this tweet from Grimsley, and meant to say something about it…  the other posts happened between.  I had not exactly put it into words but I have been noticing the same thing.  Initially I thought it was simply me that was no longer excited about these new games, but then I noticed that not that many folks in my otherwise MMO-Centric twitter feed seems to be getting excited either.  Sure there was an up-welling of folks playing Black Desert Online a few months back, but it felt like a splash in the pan compared to when folks shifted to Rift, Wildstar, or a plethora of other games to come up on the MMO front over the last decade.  Recently I ended up picking up Riders of Icarus because I had friends playing it…  but after a weekend of playing have not touched it since.  I had a very similar experience with Skyforge, where I played it for a week and some change, and then once again I was simply done with it and back to other titles.  There seemed to be this period of time where there was constantly the next big thing on the horizon… but that era appears to be dead and gone at least when it comes to AAA MMO titles.  Every now there are flareups, like with the launch of The Division.  However it feels like the era of the western published MMO is also good and dead, which might be part of the reason we stopped looking forward to these “next big things”.

South Korea is going through a bit of a renaissance still, as evidenced by the number of new MMOs coming out from there… that are often times localized for the North American market.  The big problem there is that I have found that I don’t really get into these games nearly as much as I did to their western fantasy counter parts.  Sure I played ArcheAge but the story of that game was largely nonsense, and I kept playing just because it gave me a huge world to explore full of lots of super intricate systems.  Blade and Soul I had a similar experience, where no matter how good the localization team did at making awesome relevant jokes…  I just didn’t find myself caring one little bit about the Hongmoon School.  In both cases a story is being told, that fundamentally feels like it was not intended for me to be playing it.  I am not saying that is a bad thing necessarily, because not every game has to be for every player.  The only problem is this is an added depth of “gunshy” that I have when I see an otherwise cool looking game that comes from the Korean market.  Another big part of the bounce factor for me is the inclusion of player versus player as the eventual end game.  That is not something I am likely to ever enjoy, especially not in an open world setting…  and as I entered that area of the world in ArcheAge it felt like the world around me got significantly less intricate because our time was supposed to be spent fighting other players.  Of note I am currently subscribed to ArcheAge so that game clearly left its mark on me, and caused me to dig in rather than bounce off, but I feel like it might be the outlier rather than the rule.

What I am finding however is that instead of looking forward to a new game coming to ride in on a white horse and save me from other MMOs…  I am looking to games that I have loved in the past and the content that they are creating.  I have always been one of those players to go back and revisit old games, and currently I have accounts active in Rift, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV.  Additionally I poke my head in every now and then in Wildstar, and Everquest II to see how those games are going.  Essentially instead of following new games, I find myself following patch notes to see which game has something so interesting that I have to leap back into it for awhile.  Star Wars the Old Republic for example completely changed the way that game works, and at some point in the near future once other games die down a bit, I have a feeling I will be falling headfirst into the new content.  Similarly there is a lot of awesome stuff going on in Elder Scrolls Online, and at some point I want to return there and gobble up all the new fruit hanging on that tree.  I find that I am very much still a “content locust” except in this case I find myself returning to games I have already explored, rather than continually venturing forth into brand new worlds to stake my claim there.  There is this rich wealth of games that have survived, and sometimes even thrived… and I just seem to place my focus there instead of looking to the horizon.  A prime example is that as of tomorrow the next few months of my life will be dominated by the World of Warcraft Legion expansion… and then in October at Fanfest I fully expect the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion to be announced so we can begin looking forward to that as well.  There are still objects on the Horizon, they are just linked to other objects that are already familiar.

Belghula Rising

Wow-64 2016-08-27 23-56-55-65

Wow-64 2016-08-27 23-56-55-65

This week marks the last week of the Legion Invasion event, and with it goes the insane leveling elevator that many of us have ridden over and over.  At this point I have every slot on Argent Dawn Alliance filled with level 100 characters, and over the last bit of this week I have been pushing Belghula my female Orc Warlock on The Scryers.  Scryers is a linked realm with Argent Dawn and when that occurred I made the choice to roll a complete set of Hordies over there, so that I could hang out and play with friends I had other the other side of the server.  The Argent Dawn community has always been an odd one, and for a period of time we had a thriving official… and later unofficial server forum.  I still somewhat wish I had not killed the domain behind that forum, but at that time I thought I didn’t really want to be playing World of Warcraft anymore.  In any case I have a large community of horde friends that I love dearly, but never got to play with.  When I purchased Legion I ended up using my boost to create a level 100 Tauren Paladin and I even got to raid over there for a period of time…  until Sundays didn’t really work that well for me.  Now I am pushing up a second 100 to have a more balanced set of characters to play.  Something happened and I decided that I don’t mind casters… and even really like the Warlock so that ultimately is the one I have decided to push.

Last night during the podcast I managed to get her to level 95, so it should be relatively trivial to finish off and ding 100 today.  Similarly I have an Orc Deathknight waiting in the wings as well in the 60s… but I am not completely sure if I am going to push it hard or not.  I would like to at a minimum get it to 80 because the Cataclysm/Panda/Warlords grind seems much faster than getting a single character through Wrath of the Lich King.  I’ve talked about this in the past, but content design has changed a lot since Wrath and quest stacking was a much harder proposal back then than it is now.  By quest stacking I mean gathering up a bunch of quests related to a specific area and then burning through them all at once.  As far as the Cataclysm/Panda/Warlords grind… I feel like I have that one down to an artform jumping zones each time my adventure guide lights up telling me there is a new zone to jump to.  The most interesting thing about the whole experience however has been seeing how folks have broken the event over their knee and abused the hell out of the system.  The other day I talked a bit about the idea of resetting the event, but ultimately decided that it just made it a boring grind.  Some folks however have apparently taken this process to the extreme.

Last night I was sitting in the Crossroads minding my own business and working on the event, when someone broadcast a message across general talking about an Exp Grinding party.  They had auto invite scripts set up so that if someone typed 1 in chat it would throw out a raid invite.  The level of organization was impressive, even to the level of asking those of us who happened to have two seated mounts to use those and give rides to the players who were on foot or on slow land mounts.  From there we took a very specific route, killing what I feel was probably the optimal path through the mobs.  There were several times were we paused for a second to wait for the next mob in the sequence to spawn in… or when she went off to pull one that was within range to burn them down at the same time.  I cannot state how impressive this level of organization and cooperation from players actually ended up being.  She shouted the next target to general so that anyone else NOT in our raid could also reap the benefit.  The real coordination however was that when we finished phase three she told everyone to log out, and disbanded the party.  The idea being that when everyone logged back in they would potentially be in the same Stage 1 event.  I went ahead and finished out this event and moved to the next zone instead, but I have to marvel at how well that worked.  In truth I don’t want to really abuse this event, because doing it legitimately provides more than enough experience and loot for my tastes.  That said I guess this method probably works much faster and provides and endless supply of experience in one of the easier zones that the event is taking place.

Introducing Luna

20160819_173044

20160819_173044

This is the Luna, and you all have not been properly introduced to her.  There has been a reason in part because we have been trying to see if she would ever get accustomed to living in our world.  Roughly a month ago after losing Chloe we went to a pet store… because sometimes playing with the “babbys” makes us happy.  They however were having some “clear the shelter” event, and the store was full of animals hoping to get adopted.  We of course went back to look at the cats, and the shelter showing there was one that we had gotten several animals from in the past.  They had some really lovely animals, but nobody really tugged at our heartstrings, so I was fully expecting to exit the store and get on with our lives.  It was at this moment that my wife deviated from the course.  Instead of exiting the building the decided for some reason to turn down this row of dogs.  We are not dog people, and while other folks dogs are cute and friendly…  we are not exactly the type to look at dogs regularly in pet stores.  Now up until this point it seemed like the store was very clearly segregated into the “dog” area and the “cat” area, but as she got to the end of the row of dogs she found a cage with Luna in it.  She was there all alone and looked frightened to be mixed in with all of these dogs.  The shelter showing was from roughly an hour and a half away from the Tulsa area, and literally had the one cat.  We spent some time with her, taking her into a walled off area…  during which time she was affectionate but also spent most of the time just exploring the confines of the area.

As we went about our day my wife started to warm to the idea of bringing home Luna, but we also had a bunch of errands to run.  So we did the whole thing of…  “if she is still there when we get back, we will consider it”.  Turns out that sure enough she was still there and that the folks from the sheltered hoped we would be back by.  Traditionally when we bring a new animal into our house we set up a little sequestered environment up in my wife’s office with a separate litter box, and food… and kinda keep the cat walled of for a few days to get adjusted to the new environment.  Then when we start letting them out into the house as a whole, the office serves as a bit of a safe place for them to keep going back to.  So far this process has not gone as planned.  Traditionally when we get a new animal the moment we decide to let them out into the house… they are happy to go exploring.  Luna on the other hand seems to be afraid of the outside world.  Now when we talked to the shelter folks we specifically asked about how she did with other animals.  They specifically said that she doesn’t really like dogs, but is completely fine around other cats.  So far however that has not been the case, because she is not blending well.

Kenzie our youngest admittedly can be a little butt, and even though Allie and her tolerate each other than can still get into spats.  Luna and Kenzie specifically do not get along at all, so what has ended with these moments of taking her around the house with us and closing off a room so she would be comfortable.  We tried to just start opening the door to let her out of the office, but then found that she simply was not eating and drinking.  I guess she was afraid to leave the area of her bed to cross the office to get to the food dish.  After moving that closer to her bed and into her safe area she started eating like we would have epected.  Now she expects me to bring her wet food every morning, and meows at me until I have done so.  Over the last week I have been opening up the office when I get home from work hoping that she might take the initiative to go out and explore the house.  She seems to be less skittish about the other cats, or at the very least has begun to fight back against Kenzie.  They really had not gotten into a real fight up until now…  but it was a lot of meowing and making sounds that are extremely similar to “oreo”.  The last few days however she has run Kenzie out of “her” room a few times, so she seems to be getting a little bolder.

Yesterday however was a bit of a turning point, of a sort at least.  I opened the office door when I got home, like I have for the last while, and I went upstairs to check on her a few times where she wanted copious amounts of attention.  However late in the evening I heard her out in the loft, and next thing I know it she was walking along the banister and staring down meowing at me.  So I went upstairs and gave her more attention, and apparently she settled into the top of the couch and took a nap.  When it came time for bed, I went upstairs to shut the office thinking she had retreated, but she was still sitting in the loft happily perched on the couch.  At this point I made a decision and just left her alone, hoping that maybe she was finally starting to get comfortable with the house.  Now over the last few weeks there have been several times where my wife took Luna to bed with her, since she goes to bed way earlier than I do most nights.  She would shut off the bedroom and before long Luna would be snugged up on her.  When I came to bed I got the job of being the bad guy and taking her back up to the safety of the office.  I could tell she was hungry and thirsty because as soon as the office door was shut she would bolt from my arms and run to the food dish like she was starving and then make her way to the litter box before coming back to me for attention.

3242557449683825439-account_id=1

Apparently last night she got lonely up in the loft, and found her way downstairs to the bedroom at 1:30 in the morning.  This caused a massive cat fight, or at least a massive amount of noise and motion.  To which Luna went under the bed, and the other cats were scared out of the room.  After trying to calm down the babies it was around 2 am… and I simply could not get back to sleep.  I did not finally get back to sleep until 3:30 or so… so at this point I am groggy as hell.  However it feels like progress.  Throughout the night she kept braving getting up on the bed with us, only to run off when another cat entered the room.  The whole experience has to be equally traumatic for them, and I have been trying throughout this to be wherever Luna was not so that they had some sort of stable anchor to go hang out with.  So as the night went on we alternated having Luna in bed with us, an having Kenzie and Allie with Luna under the bed.  Once we finally got up and around I carried her back upstairs where once again she went to get food… but this time I didn’t close the office door.  She didn’t seem to mind at all and went about her normal business…  and was quickly begging for wet food.  A few minutes ago while typing this, she was back out in the loft meowing down at me…  so even though it was a rough night for me personally with the whole not getting much sleep thing…  I am hoping that we made actual progress.

She is a very sweet cat, and I think she will do well with the others…. if we can ever get past the phase where they are scared of each other.  I thought it was high time however to introduce you all to her.

Empty Island

witness64_d3d11 2016-08-25 20-46-44-74

This is one of those days where Bel is struggling to exist in the world.  As a result I am not exactly sure how cogent of a post you are going to get out of me.  In theory I went to bed early last night, but in practice that does not seem to have actually helped.  In fact this morning I feel more sluggish than I have in a long time.  So I wobbled through the house, fixed a cup of coffee… and then immediately fell into an internet hole as my brain tried to do literally anything it could do to keep from writing a post this morning.  As a result it is like 30 minutes past the normal time I sit down and begin writing, and I am still finding I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about.  Last night I did two things… Invasion and Witness.  I feel like I have talked about the Invasion to an extremely length, and there isn’t really much there to discuss… especially since it goes away in a very few days.  There are issues right now with players leaving after phase 2, in order to reset the event back to phase 1.  This is making phase 3 a little hellish, but all in all it still provides a silly amount of experience, and I am still attempting to get the Horde Warlock up as far as I can make it before the event runs out.  I also have the AggroChat show devoted to The Witness this week, so I am playing it in spurts as well.  I am not really sure what exactly I can say about it other than that.

The game is extremely beautiful, and I like the world it is set in.  Much like Overwatch however I just wish it was a different game.  Ultimately I went into this game expecting Myst, and it is definitely not that.  I am realizing that the reason why I enjoyed those games is that the puzzles felt like I was uncovering a story.  In Myst you were essentially chasing Atrus and unraveling what happened to the different ages and what exactly was happening with Sirrus and Achenar.  In 7th Guest and 11th Hour you were solving mysteries and the puzzles lead to giving you clues about what was going on in both of those games.  Witness on the other hand seems to just be puzzles for the sake of being puzzles, and the truth is after solving thirty five or so last night… I am already bored with it.  The biggest problem is…  what I thought would be some story payoff for the puzzle solving just turned out to reward me with a super pretentious video of James Burke from 1978.  I guess that is the problem I am having with this game… it exists to be itself.  There just doesn’t seem to be a point, or at least any glimmer of a point has yet to reveal itself.  Which is I guess a bit sad given how generally good the game is at teaching you how it wants you to solve the puzzles.  There is just enough friction there to make the moment it all clicks to be enjoyable…  but it also doesn’t feel like it is leading to anything.

The other problem I am having is that the game seems to want me to visit locations in a certain order, but does nothing to actually restrict my movement.  As a result I wound up at a puzzle long before I was supposed to be there.  There were a series of screens designed to teach me the lessons I needed to know to unlock said puzzle, but I didn’t find them until I had already completed the puzzle that used those elements.  So I feel like this is a game where my general desire to get off of the main path… is going to cause me a significant amount of trouble.  Right now I am not a huge fan, but I am going to continue playing to see if that changes.

Imaginary Band

Wow-64 2016-08-25 06-23-15-46

Wow-64 2016-08-25 06-23-15-46

Yesterday a good friend of mine from my Wrath raiding days, showed back up in my life suddenly.  Now this isn’t exactly a strange occurrence because folks know that I tend to be the ring leader of a network of gamers.  I am the one that tends to be good at maintaining connections with folks regardless of what game we happen to be playing.  So an attempt to get in touch with me, generally also means an attempt to get back in touch with a gaming core of friends.  The strange part of this whole experience however is when a few years pass between speaking.  In this case, it seems like every few years our paths cross, the challenge being that large swaths of time pass between and my memory is often times spotty at best.  Thankfully most people are super forgiving about me remembering the super granular details…  and I seem to be relatively good at the large picture as a whole.  The thing with the impending release of Legion next week is that this has been happening an awful lot in my life.  Running around and doing Events, means that I have casually bumped into a lot of folks from my past…  some of which I was interested in rekindling friendship… and others not so much.  We talked about the mixed bag that playing World of Warcraft since launch is on the podcast this weekend.  There are friends that I adored, and would still do damned near anything to help…  and then there were folks who were super toxic influences and lead to a lot of the anxiety ridden struggles I had as a raid leader.  Coming back to this game… and the server I have played on since the beginning of it all…  means I am ultimately going to confront a good deal of both.

I remember thinking yesterday how cool it would be to “get the band back together” because I miss raiding with some of these people.  The key word being “some”, because ultimately I don’t really want the band back together at all.  I want a revised image in my head of the band.  I want this amalgam of a bunch of different raid teams, from a bunch of different eras of the game.  I want to create the “All-Star Team” from my memory, but the thing is…  my All-Star team is not really the best players.  I found out my ideals for who I wanted to play with were vastly different than that of my friends during Cataclysm.  We built what we supposed to be the “best” team to raid with, for 10 man…  but my best was completely different than their best.  Ultimately when creating my team I would want to play with the folks I had the most fun with…  some of them were also the absolute worst at standing in fire.  They were fun to be around and invigorated my enjoyment of the game, and I didn’t give a damn if we had to take forever trying to learn this fight or another because their presence made me happy.  It is moments like these that I realize I play a vastly different game than most people do.  I play a game made up of the people sitting behind the screen at their keyboard, hanging out with me on a nightly basis… and not a game of abilities and number crunching.  At the end of the day for me at least, playing for victories is ultimately a hollow experience unless I did so with the people I enjoy playing with the most.

In a lot of ways this is what makes the Final Fantasy XIV raid group so special is that it is a bit of an amalgam of the two.  These are all people that I greatly enjoy playing with, but at the end of the day are also extremely good at the game.  Hell there are so many nights I feel like I am the “bad” that is being carried to victory.  While I largely said I would swear off raiding in Legion…  there is a big part of me that wishes he could form this same sort of group in World of Warcraft.  I want raiding to be a focus on having fun with friends and doing something together that we can’t necessarily do apart.  By the same token though, I don’t want to be concerned with damage meters, or reviewing the logs after the raid.  I don’t want to care if someone stood in the fire too long… or if we could do something more efficiently.  I want to just have a night hanging out with friends, talking on voice chat and killing bosses…  hopefully getting some sweet loot in the process.  The problem being that I don’t think World of Warcraft is that game, or at least its raid game… isn’t that game.  Final Fantasy XIV I can go into a fight not knowing anything about it… and learn everything I know from a series of attempts because it messages the mechanics extremely well.  World of Warcraft, I realistically need to read the dungeon guide and some third party sites to fully understand the mechanics of the fight and what I am supposed to be doing to counter them.  That is a huge difference, because one I can discover the fight with friends… and the other feels like homework.

Legion launches next week and I really don’t know what it has planned for me yet.  I am enjoying the game, and I am enjoying making my own way through it.  I am not sure if raiding will be part of that greater picture, but in the end I am going to try going with the flow.  So many times I have had a raid that I knew I was gearing for, when an expansion launched.  As a result I felt like I needed to push through the content to get raid ready within a weeks time.  This time around…  I am more focused on which character I am going to level first and which zone I am going to start in.  I have never gone into an expansion before with a complete set of characters, and ultimately liking something about each and every one of them.  If enough of these old familiar faces stick around… then I think I might want to try my hand at raiding again.  I am not super concerned with doing much more than 10 player/flex raiding if I do however.  Another thing that I would really like to do is set up a night to work on older raid achievements and get folks some awesome mounts.  I know there are several tiers where I am one or two achievements away from my own mounts.  The problem being that there just are not enough nights in the week to try and schedule things on, and continue to play other games.  Whatever the case I am trying my best to go into the Legion expansion with an open mind, and not really focused too tightly on what I am going to do… and when I am going to do it.  This is undiscovered territory for me, and it is going to be interesting to see what comes of it.

 

Can’t Quit It

Wow-64 2016-08-23 21-58-51-33

Finally Finished

DONEWITHEVENTS

For most of this week I have been coming up with events in time when I thought I would be finally finished with the Legion Event.  Last night by all purposes should have been the end for me.  I managed to get the final item I was missing on my Demon Hunter, and you can now see the pretty spreadsheet is now at least largely complete.  Early on I decided that trying to get an offset weapon for everyone was going to be absolute futility.  Instead I started focusing on the weapon that I thought I would actually level my character with, so for my Paladin that meant a Retribution Two-Hander and so on.  Lodin my hunter I managed to get both a spear and a bow just because on my very first invasion I got the spear and had the foresight to immediately swap loot specs.  On all of these characters, I am not squabbling over who has Warforged and who doesn’t because I realize about an hour into the new content everything I am wearing will have been replaced.  All I was really looking for out of these events was a way to ease the leveling transition from “just dinged 100” to “ready for legion”.

Most of my characters before this event were sitting in a pretty raw 630ish state because I leveled them up and then never really played them.  My goal is to change that with Legion since on every single character there is a spec that I really find enjoyable.  The weird part about this for me is how I am suddenly no longer mentally blocked against casters.  I had a lot of fun recently leveling my Priest and Mage through the Legion Event, and I had an absolutely blast leveling my Warlock legitimately.  For years I have had this thing against “Finger Wigglers” and anyone around me for more than a few minutes in a game is likely to hear about it.  I am not sure what changed, but I have a feeling it is related to Final Fantasy XIV.  Over there I actually and legitimately enjoyed leveling as an Arcanist, and have been enjoying doing the Palace of the Dead as a Scholar.  Similarly I really enjoyed the little bit of time I spent leveling Black Mage, all of which maybe whittled down my resistance to not wearing plate armor and wielding a huge weapon?  The only bad part about all of this is that I have next to no good cosmetic gear for cloth wearers, so at some point I will be wrecking old content as a Warlock in the hopes of fixing this transmog gap.

The Keep Pulling Me Back In

Wow-64 2016-08-23 21-58-51-33

So last night for a brief period of time I thought I was good and done with the Legion Event…  then I got home and noticed that they were active in all six zones at a time.  So I decided to dip my toes into the pool and see how the waters were…  and next thing I know it I am running around zones with only a ground mount chasing the wave of folks clearing the content.  Doing the events on a low enough level character that cannot fly is frustrating… but shockingly effective.  At the beginning of the night, this was my level 24 Orc Warlock named Belghula…  and at the end of the night I was sitting at level 54.  Remember a few days back when I posted about Lore’s comments?  It doesn’t matter if their intent was to allow players to catch up their alts or not, the end result and the subsequent tweaks have made that exactly what the Legion Event shines at.  I realize I could be doing something else… and I even should be doing something else…  but I am having a really hard time stopping the machine.  This elevator ride has such good music and interesting prospects that I keep getting right back on it.  I am honestly not sure if I have enough time to get this one all the way to 100 before the end of this event, especially given that I really need to be doing other things…  but if nothing else I have leap past the old world content that I find the most frustrating right now.

Cataclysm was not good for the old world, and right now the leveling experience feels extremely disjointed.  The clear flow of zone to zone feels broken, given that a few minutes into each zone you’ve leveled to the point where you really should be moving to the next one.  There are two sides of me that are in constant competition when I am leveling.  The side that wants to finish quests… and the side that realizes the most efficient way to level is to jump zones the moment the Adventure Guide highlights and shows you have a new quest to start a brand new area.  I realize I am leveling with full Heirlooms… and that is a side effect of that, but in truth I am largely doing that so that I don’t have to worry about gear until I reach the end of the tunnel.  Nothing would make me happier than them releasing heirloom items for the rest of the slots, because that helms me circumvent one of my instincts while leveling characters.  I love getting gear… but more than anything it is that I want to be as well geared as I can be at any point in the process.  So I keep looking for upgrades so that I don’t feel “weak” while leveling, and the presence of heirlooms means I am at least geared “well enough” at every step in the process.  At least on some level though, it would be nice if the experience boost was something you could toggle off if you wanted to “stay awhile and listen” as it were… and experience the content as it was originally designed.

A New Tank Enters

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-01 20-34-25-59

Down to Goblin Town

ffxiv_dx11 2016-08-01 20-34-25-59

This morning I am having one hell of a hard time getting started, largely because it feels like I don’t really have a whole lot to talk about.  It was a Monday night, and that means raiding in Final Fantasy XIV.  However it was also a night that I was seeming to have a pretty frustrating migraine headache.  So in truth it was a good thing that we were breaking in a brand new tank… or at least one new to our group.  Pixel Executioner I am pretty sure is something that once upon a time I knew from the Blog Azeroth community, but thanks to the miracle of the fact that everyone seems to be connected on the internet I am getting to know him again thanks to Neph.  Pix had apparently never quite finished the original run of Alex so we started our evening there, with turn four otherwise known as “Burden of the Father”.  This went down in really short measure, and so long as you are tanking the boss…  you really don’t have a clue there are any mechanics that need to be dealt with.  The only thing as the boss tank that you have to worry about is Discoid which signals you are just about to take a ton of damage.   As a result this was the absolute perfect first tanking foray of the evening to break him into the rhythm.

After that we moved into the next part of Alexander and ran through the next four turns.  The awesome thing about this is that it gave me a nice little break between fights to kinda chill out and try really hard to forget my head was trying to kill me.  I am pleasantly surprised where we have come as a group, because I remember struggling a little bit when we first did Alex Midas, but last night it seemed really easy.  Well that is until we reached turn seven…  which has a significant amount of madness going on.  The awesome thing there is that we finally learned how to mechanic one of the phases.  Previously the answer to getting through the fire jail was just to have rez ready to go to bring back whoever happened to get locked in it.  Instead this time we learned that during the fire phase you just stand still and do nothing until your group brings you out of it.  If you move however… you die… and we were trying to do stuff and move…  which is apparently a bad idea?  The best part about the night is that we managed to actually finish the second Alex for Pix.  We were coming down the to the end of our normal run time, and I honestly thought we did not have anywhere near enough time to finish.  However we managed to pull a victory out on the final boss… having only gone about five minutes over our normal close time.

It was a really great night and apparently luck was on my side.  For awhile now I had been sitting on one of pretty much all of the items needed for the various armors that require two items.  Over the course of the evening apparently the game decided it liked me, because I won a significant number of rolls and suddenly shot up in item level.  I managed to complete the arms last week, but this week I managed to complete helm, boots and belt bringing my item level up to a respectable 113.  At some point I really need to spend some time getting back in game and finishing off my weapon in Palace of the Dead, because there were several moments last night when the fact that Pix my co-tank had one… made it harder to maintain threat.  In all honesty I have been struggling to remain interested in Final Fantasy XIV.  I am enjoying raid nights, but I am simply not wanting to put any of the other time in to make sure I am geared enough.  Which I know has to be frustrating to my raid mates.  I feel like I am fairly horribly geared as a whole, at least compared to what I could be.  The problem being when I sit down after a long day of work… I keep logging into World of Warcraft instead of Final Fantasy XIV.  Especially with the launch of Legion happening next week… my FFXIV time is likely to continue to be in Triage mode for awhile.

Listless

Wow-64 2016-08-20 17-39-50-37

Wow-64 2016-08-20 17-39-50-37

The past week was hyper focused on a single goal… getting Belgaoh my monk from 53 to 100.  The weird thing about this process is that once completed… I am finding myself drifting a bit without purpose.  The above screenshot is unrelated to anything, but I thought it looked cool so you are getting it with this mornings post.  Starting yesterday I begin finally running my stable of characters through the Broken Shore content.  I managed to snag all of the toys, and troll shoes transmog from my single leel 100 horde character, and on my second time through on an alliance character successfully got the bonnet cosmetic item.  I am assuming that tomorrow there will be a new step on the quest chain being patched in, and this time around we will actually do the moving of Dalaran to the Broken Isles bit.  Tonight is our Final Fantasy XIV raid, so that means I will go into this weeks patch not having run Broken Shores on the bulk of my characters.  At least in theory the content isn’t going anywhere so I shouldn’t feel that much of a rush to push through it.  I think this content will essentially be the “welcome to Legion” content for everyone from this point on wards.  I will say it was really strange buzzing right past the quest starter for Cataclysm, Pandaria and Draenor on the monk.  I think I have all of the quests sitting in my log, because they are given automatically when you zone into Stormwind, but I am not sure when if ever I am going to do them.  At this moment I am contemplating using the Timeless Isle port to get to Draenor, but then again that would mean I need to open up Pandaria to get to it.

Wow-64 2016-08-20 18-16-25-87

Even though I have completed one journey to 100… I am finding that I cannot seem to quit the Invasion Event.  A good chunk of yesterday was also spent running characters through the event trying to get the last few 700 items for each.  I managed to finish off Lodin and Tallow last night, which leaves Gloam, Exeter and Belglaive all needing a single item slot.  Belglaive is a little more complicated because I used that character to purchase the pet, and as a result he is still missing several of the purchased pieces of gear.  I just need to run ANY instances on him to get that finished off.  I do have his Glaives upgraded to 725, and I have started a second set mooching off of everyone else’s spare tokens to upgrade them for my eventual Horde demon hunter.  I wish the other weapons worked like this, in that they were bind on account and you could pass them around as needed.  Some characters I have gotten more than my fair share of weapons… and then others like Exeter have yet to see a single one.  I have this feeling that ultimately it is going to be Ex my Paladin that I will continue to run events on, as I try and get three weapons for him.  The other big thing that I need to accomplish before this event is over is to try and find the Demon that spawns in Orgrimmar and Stormwind and get a Fel Spreader toy.  I failed to get one the two times I tried it yesterday, with the one in Orgrimmar bugging out and running back to the Doomsayer and fading.

Wow-64 2016-08-21 16-03-01-76

The big thing I have learned over the years is that I have a lot of fun playing World of Warcraft, so long as I have a goal in mind.  For example this last week has been a blast as I leveled my way through to 100 doing events.  In theory I could pick a Horde character and start doing the same, but I don’t really have any that are nearly as close to finish as my Monk was.  Doing the event without flight was a pain in the butt, and I am not sure if I want to go back to that frustration right now.  If I was going to pick a character on that side of the fence I would probably pick my Warlock since I have really enjoyed playing my Alliance lock… and I have full cloth heirlooms.  Similarly I have full leather heirlooms, but of the leather classes the one I am most likely to play… is the Demon Hunter, which is easy as hell to get to 100.  I do however have the cash to just go ahead and outfit my plate heirlooms up to 100 and then push something else that I would likely play.  My Orc Deathknight is sitting at 60, so flight is possible, even if it is a slow version.  I might be fun to be able to use this event to play with one of the other specs like Frost or Unholy.  If the next goal is NOT the event however… I need to pick something be it Mount Farming or Dungeon Achievements because so long as I can keep a list of things I want to do… I will be able to stay engaged in this game.  I really am having a lot of fun being around all of these people again.  It is a bit like a reunion, because everywhere I turn on Argent Dawn I keep running into familiar faces from the past.  I know we have roughly a week until the official launch of Legion, and with that comes a whole new set of goals so I just need to keep busy in the meantime.

The Top Floor

97_chests

Wow-64 2016-08-21 01-07-10-94

Off and on throughout this event I have used the “elevator” metaphor to explain how the experience bonus of the invasions has felt.  It started off as a steady elevator, and then took a bunch of detours for maintenance.  However at the end the final version felt like it was picking up speed as I finished the climb towards the top.  The other day Devolore made a comment about this invasion that I think is worth sharing.

devolore_comment

While I realize the goal of the event was not to level everything to 100… that is precisely what I set out to do.  Before the initial change I managed to get my Priest from 92 to 100, and then turned around and got my Mage from 90 to 100.  That left only my little monk that starting last Wednesday was sitting at only level 53.  In the last four days I have finished the climb to 100, finally dinging off of an invasion last night after we wrapped up recording the podcast.  It was a wild ride filled with pure madness, but overall it was an enjoyable one.  This is the feeling I have been chasing for awhile, going into an expansion knowing that every single character on at least my primary server was ready to go and awaiting the next content release.  There are a bunch of things I learned on the trip, and I took care last night to log some of my findings.  The rest of this post is likely going to be a bunch of bullet points explaining what all I found out.

  • It took a total of 49 Invasions to go from level 53 to 100
  • I was wearing full heirlooms the entire way, so adjust accordingly
  • That makes it .95 levels per invasion completed
  • I saved 97 loot boxes while doing the even, 49 Blue, 48 Green.

The Loot

97_chests

This is what 97 loot boxes from the event looks like sitting in my bank.  I saved every single one from the moment I started climbing from 53 to 100, in a large part because I wanted a bunch of information to be able to draw conclusions from.  On a whim I ended up opening all of my Green chests first, and they my Blue chests… which caused me to notice a pattern.

Phase 2 – Small Legion Chest – Can Contain

  • Bracers
  • Gloves
  • Belt
  • Boots
  • Weapons

Phase 4 – Large Legion Chest – Can Contain

  • Helm
  • Shoulders
  • Chest
  • Pants
  • Weapons
  • Coalesced Fel

In the course of the events I ran I got 118 items to drop from the chests, and around 2000 nethershards… but I was not keeping as good of track on that number as I did the others.  As I opened the boxes I recorded the what dropped and divided up level 700, 710 and 720 drops in the hopes of being able to pull some percentages together on the chance of each.

Level 700 Item Drops

  • Helm – 9
  • Shoulders – 13
  • Chest – 10
  • Bracers – 11
  • Gloves – 11
  • Belt – 8
  • Pants – 9
  • Boot – 6
  • Weapon – 14
  • Coalesced Fel – 9

Level 710 Item Drops

  • Helm – 2
  • Shoulders – 1
  • Bracers – 2
  • Gloves – 1
  • Belt – 3
  • Pants – 1
  • Boots – 5

Level 720 Item Drops

  • Shoulders – 1
  • Belt – 1
  • Pants – 1

So in total I got 100 level 700 drops, 15 level 710 drops, and 3 level 720 drops.  Using some quick and dirty math that means that I got a Warforged 710 item 12% of the time, and a 720 item 2.5% of the time.  In any case… my Monk is likely going to be my best geared character once I complete the Broken Shores content and get my ring and trinket.  Leveling through Invasions was often times frustration… but overall it was an extremely enjoyable experience.  I would love to say I would do this same rough on my hordies… but with only nine days until the launch of Legion I just am not sure if I have that sort of grind in me.  More than likely I will be focusing on filling the gear holes in my various characters, and pushing them all through the broken shores and follow-up content.

Fixed Mostly

Wow-64 2016-08-19 18-37-53-90

The Wild Ride

Wow-64 2016-08-19 11-52-13-74

The last two weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster of nerfs and buffs to the Legion Event.  When I first wrote Monday about the “elevator” it was really simple and fast to get a character through the levels, and it didn’t even require much attention to detail.  Simply being in the zone allowed you to reap the entire lions share of experience.  This unfortunately lead to a bit of a plague of afk leveling, because players would park in a relative safe spot and just wait for the phases to complete.  The irony here is that I didn’t actually do this myself until the first round of nerfs, taking the experience down so much that the event didn’t really feel worthwhile.  The positive takeaway of this experience is that Blizzard kept trying different combinations to see if they could find the sweet spot.  I know of at least four different hotfixes that were applied to tweak this variable or that until we wound up with the one that happened last night, and seems to FINALLY restore the event to a level that isn’t AFK leveling, but still feels like you aren’t wasting your time.  Also the new version of the event seems to reward group player, and dissuade players from some of the antisocial behavior that had sprung up.

For a period of time your best bet was to find a quiet corner of the zone to camp for demons and solo everything you could.  This however lead players to getting rather vocal when someone was encroaching upon their turf.  I mean I get the frustration because it could literally half your experience gained if another player touched whatever you had been soloing.  A drive by dot could wreck your experience, and as a result folks were somewhat understandably grumpy about the experience.  You can read my own twitter feed full of random comments about this over the week, so on several levels I have been grumpy as well.  Since I have been writing about it I thought this morning I would talk about the various methods I have personally experiences, and which have good results if you are going into these events hunting experience for leveling, rather than loot boxes.  You admittedly end up with more lootboxes than you could ever want as well, but that is just a fringe benefit.

Your Own Private Army

Wow-64 2016-08-19 18-37-53-90

Scattered throughout the Invasion zones are a number of NPCs that can be saved.  Several of them will fight along side you when you save them, and are really handy.  I am sure I don’t have a full list, but here are some of the ones I know about and have used.

I am certain there are more, but wowhead is freaking out this morning.  I know at some point I also had a dwarven hunter lady while out in Tanaris.  Essentially they are scattered throughout the battlefield, and in Westfall they are often times inside the farm houses.  Rescuing them essentially allows you to take things down more quickly because you have a battle minion following you around and attacking whatever you happen to be attacking.  For example if I have the Crusader I tend to go after the huge mini-boss type baddies because the stun effects them and allows me to shred them.  If I have one of the AOE minions… then I tend to focus on large packs because they will chew them up with AOE damage.  I am not sure how many of these you can have at once, but I have for certain had two up at once and been just fine.  Essentially when you have a couple of these battle minions up, you can run throughout the zone looking for packs of Legion mobs and shredding them for experience.

Vehicular Demonslaughter

The option one of my friends tends to favor is to grab one of the many vehicles scattered around the battlefield and start laying waste to baddies with it.  There is a shockingly wide variety of these available.  For the alliance I know we have Dwarven Steam Tanks, Gnomish Spiders, and Darnassian Glaive Throwers.  Similarly there are horde options as well including some weird undead thing that throws bombs.  Once again the idea is to grab a tank, and just go to town wrecking as many demons as you can before you run out of fuel.  Fuel being a buff that you get that shows how long you can be active in the vehicle.  Personally I have had the best luck with the Steam Tanks because they allow you to just brute force large packs of mobs at once.  Demolishers I think play a similar role for the horde, and allow you to just storm into a Legion camp and destroy everything in your path.

Chase the Skulls

Now personally after the patch I think this is the best option for maximum experience gain… and it seems like everyone else has caught on as well.  Boss fights reward a silly amount of experience now.  In my 70s last night I was getting 45k-60k experience per boss kill, and the various mobs scattered throughout the map and marked with Skulls in phase three… count as bosses.  So new best way to gain experience seems to be to chase these around the zone, and I say chase because there will be a massive amount of flying mounts heading in one direction or another.  The key here however is to stay alive.  This is my only real complaint about the changes… is that with placing so much emphasis on boss kills, you are completely screwed if you are dead while the boss is taken down.  If you are dead you get exactly zero experience for the boss kill, and makes the entire process a complete waste of your time.  As a result you have to play super cautiously, especially as you near the end of the bosses health bar.  I tend to disengage from melee range and use my extremely crappy channeled range attack just to make sure I am on the threat list of the boss but also giving myself maximum room to duck away in case of one of the many one shot boss abilities.  Overall the changes are much better than they have been…  and in truth you can end up with a lot more experience per invasion than you could even before the first round of nerfs.  The big difference is that you have to be extremely active and constantly moving around zone and fighting to make that happen.  Ultimately I think that was what they were going for, and I wanted to reward activity that helps the invasion out… and not activity that happens to get in through a loophole.