Blizzard

Blizzzard (Im)mortal

I was away for two weeks. Long flights, late nights, time zones, work, play. Good times. As always when I step away from the blog I miss writing. Because of the kind of trip I had I don’t have a ton to write about – but I did follow a lot of the Blizzcon announcements, the subsequent grumblings, and all. So with a two weeks away post you get a bullet point paragraph post!

  • Blizzcon

Not surprisingly, underwhelming.  Almost seems like “what’s the point” of having a convention if you have nothing great to share. A simple “We aren’t having a convention. We are going to continue to monetize existing games, and even revive an old one to monetize further! Also, we will put a game already on it’s last legs into mobile format and find new ways to monetize it!). No one is surprised.

Well, Blizzard fans are. And here is where I say “reality check” time.

Blizzard is a digital company. You should not expect them to treat you like a friend, or a loyal customer. They have spent years not treating loyal customers like most other companies have to treat loyal customers. North America is not the main focus market anymore. There is far more growth other places in the world – countries that have billions of people who game more on mobile. You should not be surprised (or disappointed). Digital companies are the worst at treating loyal fans, because fans are happy with information over incentives. Ask anyone who has a loyalty card from their favourite restaurant what the bonus is – you spend  money there, and you get rewarded. The more you spend the more rewards you get.

Digital companies only take.

This is NOT sour grapes on my part. Although I have long argued that gaming companies would do well to treat loyal customers as loyal customers they continue to value the person who plays one title for ONE month as the equivalent of a customer who has played 4 blizzard titles, some for a decade (or more) as the new guy on the street. They can afford the churn and burn in the global marketplace. I am not disappointed because this is exactly what I expect Blizzard to do – make the most amount of money for the least amount of effort.

They are making mobile Diablo because they need to monetize Diablo. And a mobile game is far easier, cheaper, and faster to build than a full blown game. They have probably run the numbers and have sorted that a mobile Diablo would make more money than a full PC version of Diablo anyway. They have or they wouldn’t be doing it.

  • Alpha Breach

I was invited to a second Alpha, of the technical variety, called Breach. I am looking forward to it. Right now testing seems to be focused as every time I have tried to log in the servers have been down. There are no secrets here, you can stream the Alpha, so I can talk about it all I want. Co-op, 4 player, RPG, classes. Heck, might be fun. We will see. I will share more when I can.

  • Secret Alpha

The other, Alpha that can’t be named, unless you are clever like Bhagpuss, has been a fun experience. I am worried it is one of the “more fun without other people” experiences, as it is a PVP game and right now I have time and space to explore and sort things out. I can see a future of roaming gankers and no room to breathe. Yes, I know, MMORPG MEANS OTHER PEOPLE. Except when it doesn’t. Like every PVE MMORPG right now. Still, advancing and learning is fun. There is some mystery. There is a lot of work left to do. Looking forward to when we can talk about it. On a side note, am I the only one that thinks that Survival PVP games only really work on terrain that is randomly generated? (Else people just find and fight over the “best” spots…)

  • Diablo III for reals

Somewhat ironically I have been playing a bit of D3 because I never did level a class on my PC version. And with the lack of  a WoW sub right now was looking for games to mess around in that I already have. Which has largely been taken up by the Secret Alpha and the Alpha I can’t access yet. Still, It is fun which had me itching for a not 5 year old RPG….

  • Path of Exile

Free to play, I have been trying it. It’s not so bad. I know there is a ridiculous amount of complexity to it that I am quickly picking up on the learning curve. Not sure where to stick or how long it will, but it is a time passer and fun to play back to back with D3.

  • MTGA

Daily play, get my packs, build my decks. It’s the best card game out there. Funny on what is old is new again – when I first started I was playing a Golgari Explore deck which was ok, but not really competitive with the control decks and aggro red decks of the time. I had to build my deck to be unwieldy to ensure I had win conditions vs the decks I was seeing a lot of. Fast forward to Ravnica, and I am back to using that deck and not facing the same problems I had before as people are playing base Ravnica decks for the most part. Perhaps it is true that I just got actual experience during those hundreds of hours of play “testing”. It’s an easy and quick play to get through every day. Fun when your deck gets the right cards in the right order and things go swimmingly. I still hate the quick quitters though and enjoy playing it out to the end.

Big roundup, glad to be back – did you miss me?

When You Say Nothing At All : Quotes

I don’t like going a full week without making a post. This is more of a challenge when you didn’t really do anything or have anything tangible to write about. So, if you hate general posts about a few things, stop reading now. This is one of them.

“Not as bad as I thought”

While not sounding like a ringing endorsement, but was the general consensus about Kansas City. I have been to a lot of cities in the USA but that was my first trip to KC. It was for a conference and I spent Sunday – Thursday in the “City of Fountains” (without seeing a single one, mind you!). Turns out it is a really pretty city. Clean, good food, nice places to have drinks at night. It felt oddly empty, mind you, where we were (near the Power and Light district) and unfortunately there wasn’t a Chiefs game in town and of course the Royals are out of the playoffs. I love seeing live sporting events in new cities I visit. Gives you a real feel for it.  I probably wouldn’t go back there for a straight vacation or anything like that – but if another conference pulls me there I’d definitely look forward to it. Problems with conferences is that you tend to spend 90% of your time in hotels and conference rooms, conferencing. We managed to see some of the city but not nearly enough of it.

“Do you want fries with your airmiles”

I have another doozy trip starting Monday which will also mean less posting. The first leg of my trip is to get from Canada to Perth, Australia. Which is three flight legs. And 29 hours of airports, layovers, and flying. That’s a long day(s). I get a few days in Perth and then it’s a flight to Auckland (7.5 hours), then ChristChurch, then back up to Sydney, then Vancouver, Toronto, and then home. 12 days away with a full 48+ hours in planes and airports. While I am looking forward to my destinations the journey part is going to be long and exhausting.

“Your Go”

I do my daily quest in MTG:A and have been building up some fun decks with the pieces I get. I have been splitting my earned packs between three sets – Dominaria, Ravnica, and Core Set 2019. I have been fortunate to get some legendary cards and my Golgari Saporling deck has been my favorite so far. While I play ranked, I am stuck at Bronze 2 for the most part because I play whatever color combo the quest requires, and it takes 1-5 matches a day to complete the quest. So playing something I have zero knowledge of, like a Blue Black deck means I wing it and focus less on winning or losing and just learn as I go. I mentioned this before but the best way to learn what tools are in the standard decks are to play them (of course) so there is still value there. I play stock decks of every color except for Green / Black which is my wheelhouse. “Your Go” is one of 5 pre-set options you currently can say to your opponent. I do not understand why they don’t have full chat available, with the ability to turn it off. I’d love to chat with opponents. I know it can get dicey that way, but it takes all the social aspect out of it and with proper reporting and mute tools could be a huge boon to a casul, fun player like me. Eventually you will be able to play with friends and why shouldn’t I be able to chat with friends in game while we play? It’s a shame and missed opportunity.

“Well, it’s LFR”

I am back to my subscription countdown in WoW. I am maxxed out on my characters (even though I did start levelling more) but right now I run all LFR wings on my Paladin/Druid and still plug away at Emissary quests. My Subscription will lapse on my next business trip. I was lucky enough to get a BOE drop that sells in the high 300s so that would be 3 months of subscription time for me. It’s not selling fast, however. I will probably keep going if I sell it, or take a break if I don’t. the game is so comfortable to play and the pacing and fluidness of going through the motions is very comfortable. I do need to download an “offline only” game – probably an RPG – so I have something to do besides work on my flights. I do a lot of LFR and do the mechanics properly, and have been getting heck for it. Yes, heck for tanking right. Most people are geared enough and it’s easy enough that you can skip a lot of mechanics and still have success (Taloc Cudgel) and when saying to the group I prefer to do it right, that was the response. Hilarity. I do miss the challenge in MMO gaming and know I can still make it myself in WoW (Mythic+, Raid teams, etc.) most of that is generally out of my time reach.

You probably won’t hear much from me the next two weeks but I’ll definitely pop my head into the blogroll and get some good reading in during my down times. Bon Voyage to me.

Unsubscribed and Patiently Waiting : WoW

My subscription lapsed yesterday and even though I have tokens in hand, there isn’t much reason for me to log in. I am fully up to date on the Alliance War Story, and fully geared as I can be as a non raider. There are no more goals to hit for me – the boring, repetitive emissary quests for Rep for items I don’t really care about are not a draw. I sitll have rep to grind to finish the war story on the Horde side but that is a week worth of “work”, and I will pick that back up when I do resubscribe.

I definitely plan on it. Whenever 8.1 hits and more story and things to do surface. I have no clue when that patch is going to drop but it is on PTR now so probably not long.

What to do until then? I had planned on WildStar when there was no end date mentioned. November 28th has been announced, and I’m now less enthused because I don’t think I can do or see the things I want to do there in that time frame. Perhaps it is best left untouched, as nostalgia often is.

I am tempted to go finish levelling in EQ2 – I had a great run there not that long ago and really enjoyed it. It did start to grind on me a bit, but I think that is because I didn’t do an 5 mans. Now I have no clue if they even have a LFG tool, and if they do, that could really open up getting to the finish line there. Again, no clue, and this is my “put out an EQ2 question to the universe instead of google” and wait for Bhagpuss to respond (as he often does in EQ2 cases). Thanks in advance.

Any PC single player games out there that are worth playing that have an ending?

This mid game Limbo is never fun, but always works out in the end. Any ideas?

Another Brick in The Wall : Warfronts

Well, the Warfront scenario in Battle For Azeroth is an interesting one. It’s a play on the old RTS game, and plays out kind of like a League of Legends style MOBA with 20 live “actors”. It was kind of fun a few times, too. Challenge is that it completely negates Mythic 0 level content and below.

I find it strange in some ways and good in others. For example, you are guaranteed an ilvl 340 item everytime. There must be bad luck / duplicate protection because while I did get some duplicates I was able to get a full set of gear, plus weapons for both of my specs, in a single day. It was a slog/grind as the average Warfront seems to go 30-45 minutes but my main character is at their gear “max” for the content I do outside of doing an LFR weekly. The gear you get is also titanforgeable as I received pieces between 340 and 370 ilvl. It is a “can’t lose” scenario. You always win. There is no challenge. Yes, there are ways to optimize the experience but overall it’s just free gear.

Compare that to Mythic +0 which gives 340 gear, but does not have a LFG component and there is more pressure to perform in them. If you don’t know what you are doing you can lose those.

Heroic 5 mans give base 324 gear. Warfronts basically took away the usefulness of doing a 5 man dungeon. That is a lot of content negated so early in the expansion.

The downside? Well, it’s not really engaging or compelling content after the 10th time, and also well, just look at me.

another pawn in the Alliance game

I went from an independent hero of the Alliance – a Druid of the Cenarion circle, to just another pawn in uniform. Godawful colors at that too. Good news is that they are launching new armor sets with new Warfronts (and a Night Elf themed one is due in 8.1) but really, with the same ilvl of gear it will be a transmog +titanforge hunt at best.

With the chase for gear out of the way that just leaves the hunt for Reputation which does unlock some higher gear at exalted and gates recipes for the (mostly useless) professions. This gear up mechanism is so effective that I really am just waiting for the Horde to get it back now that my Paladin is ready to go because there is no point in chasing small upgrades when Warfronts gives you them every time. The end result will mean less tanks, healers and players in general doing 5 man content and most mass queuing up for the Warfront. Heck, with 4 days left on my subscription I started levelling my Shaman because there isn’t much point in spending time on my “mains” once the daily emissary is completed.

The WoW routine is getting set and pretty simple so far, and unfortunately not in the engaging, exciting way Legion did it. At least when you did emissary quests you had a chance for something exciting – a legendary item! Now you just get some azerite, gold or an item you already out level, and some rep. Doesn’t really scream “play me”.

In other news, I am reloading WildStar to see what I can see there before it is gone. Will be a tossup on whether or not I renew my sub for WoW or just wait for 8.1 and the new story, Warfront,  and excitement that could bring.

Optimism Vs Cynicism

A lot of fun speculation with the announcement of a “free” flying pirate ship mount if you just prepay for game time.

Optimist in me : “Guys, we have such awesome content coming down the pipeline, you HAVE to stick around and see it! Trust us you won’t be let down! Here is a shiny mount just for being an awesome, dedicated playerbase willing to hang in there while these changes come down the pipeline.

Cynic in me : “Subs are bleeding, mood out there is bad, quick, let’s lock down subs to buy us time to figure out what the hell we are going to do with this mess.

I get the feeling that depending on how your Battle For Azeroth experience has been so far, is how you respond to this announcement.

120 Blues

Max level in an expansion is usually an exciting place. It was fun getting both my Druid and Paladin there (most recently the Paladin, Horde side) and the differences in the campaign truly made it worthwhile to enjoy both story lines. Instead of a sigh of relief while now at the level cap it’s a sigh of boredom. There just isn’t a lot of fun feels to be had with where I am at in the game.

  • Sure, I’m running my daily emissary quests, all 30 minutes for each character. The quests are the “same old, same old” of Legion.
  • I did a few Island expeditions on my Druid. I need 5 “different” islands to move my war campaign unlocks around. They are boring and pretty useless. Forced advancement at it’s worse.
  • I haven’t done the Warfront scenario yet, but I did do the “run around Arathi highlands killing un-challenging content and getting 340 / 370 loot randomly (high end gear). Turns out I get to do that once a week now too…
  • I have ran all of the 5 mans between my two tanks. They are OK. Historically I love 5 mans, but the rewards seem to be really sparse. And with the drops from the Arathi (above) I’m better off not running 5 mans and just doing Arathi once a week, with whichever side I can.
  • Alts are demoralizing. You have to grind out the same rep on each character. Hard enough the first two times. Well, not hard, just not fun enough the first two times. (And I still have a long way to go).
    • While the story is great, that’s the first time. The second time won’t be. It never is.
  • Professions are a waste this expansion. The mats you need to craft usable gear forces mythics. They are helping that a bit this patch with a “chance” to drop in Heroics, but those aren’t that great (noted above).
  • I’m not even revered yet in my main campaign reps, because grinding out 75 per pop via WQs is not a fun way to earn 12000 rep (when the emissary grants 1500 for completion. It just hasn’t been up in several days)
  • The game is too formulaic this time. Every new small quest area gives a single quest to “introduce” the area. Then they give 3 quests to do within it. Then a final quest. It’s 5 per, every time.
  • This expansion was the “check boxes” expansion in every way, the way it was developed, the way it plays out.

It feels like it has no soul, if that makes sense.

I keep logging in daily, hoping something will stick. I am going to play out my month, hope the story / tasks I am asked to do jumps when I get the rep I need, and just hope something clicks. I am not confident right now. Which is sad considering how high Legion was for me overall.

I’ve read a few other “mehs” – anyone absolutely loving it? Are you raiding? Just sticking to one character?  Not sure what I am missing. If I am.

A Telling Pause : Battle For Azeroth

My subscription lapsed this morning. Since I am Canadian I opt not to buy monthly subscriptions due to exchange rate shenanigans (we are close to $20 a month here to play) – especially since you can buy three month game cards for half the price at various retailers. I didn’t have one on me, but I do have a couple WoW tokens. I still paused. Do I want to keep playing?

Right before my 120 Ding. Notice the armor matches the mood and feel of the Kul Tiras zones

The fact that crossed my mind (and still is – I haven’t said “yes” yet even as I write this) is telling to me. Legion was awesome (except for the mid gear reset). Battle For Azeroth has taken storytelling to the next level for WoW. That is great. The first time through. The thought of levelling with alts through the same content is kind of putting me off right now. How did I get here?

I finally hit 120 on my Druid. While the story was good, Guardian Druids are in a most boring playstyle place – especially coming from Legion. The scaling issues and fact they are trying to tanks more like tanks meant that I could kill 10 mobs at a time, but it just took a long time. The story was great. Slogging through mindless mobs to continue the story wasn’t.

I just wanted to show the quest gear style for the Horde Zones as a comparison (which also matches the story / style)

My Horde Paladin is all new content, however, so that is promising. She is only level 113 now but it is “fresh and new” – the tanking playstyle is much more fun on a Paladin but still the same M.O. Gather as many as possible, kill all slowly. Although, to be fair, it feels like the Paladin kills things way faster.

I’m already back in my Legion style “maintenance” mode. I log in, do the daily emissary quest on my max level character, and then log them off. I have a full quest log that I’m not even sure if I get rep from, so should I even bother finishing? The rep grinds to do anything else in game are real, but I am not going to bang out all the World Quests I can find to do so (especially now that they add more several times per day – you can literally play 24/7 now, just to move a bar.) It could be a shame that in an expansion that did a great job on story that it feels like WoW is a never ending to-do list meant to trap the completionist side of everyone. Maybe it was always that way.

I am pretty sure I will stay in to finish the Horde Story Line. Come to think of it, I think I am missing part of the Alliance story line too – don’t think I have rescued Jaina. Confused why that’s not front and centre…

After that, who knows. Do I “suck it up” and level an alt? Throw myself into LFR raiding? Professions are poorly done this expansion and not worth doing and all I can think of is huh, this might be a short one for me until more is put in. I might try something crazy like just levelling through dungeons with DPS classes and grinding out mats for free time – the ZEN style of it all, but right now I just don’t know of my future with BFA. Weird because of how excited I was to get to level cap, and be thoroughly disappointing that the destination doesn’t feel like it did the journey justice.

Update: I did resubscribe. I will at least finish off daily emmisaries on my Druid as I work (ugh, I said work) to complete the Horde story line.

Update #2: Glad I am not the only one feeling this way

BFA Update : Slow and Steady Wins The [blank]

This is my second (or third) fully mobile written post. Please forgive the typos, grammar, and formatting errors that I somehow no longer feel responsible for due to the format. FREEDOM!

I am inching along in BFA. My Druid isn’t 114 yet and my Paladin isn’t 113. And my desire is to start another character on his/her journey to 120.

I’m enjoying it and first time through all quests reading everything and comprehending what is going on. Currently no desire to race to max level or the gear grind. The simple truth to this is that I burned myself out mid Legion on maximizing ilvl every week and thought I was enjoying it. That was until they did a gear catch up mechanic in 7.2 (I think?) And quest stuff started dropping that was higher than the Mythic+ items I was grinding out hard. This will happen again. I’m better off waiting for it than pushing myself up against it.

I’m more interested right now on exploring the game, my characters, working on tradeskills and making in game money so I don’t have to pay a sub. Tokens are the lowest since pre-legion right now and I want to take advantage of that.

All of this may change once I start re-doing content. I expect it to. But there is no rush for that.

My only gripe in BFA right now is that Azerite gear bonuses don’t swap on spec change – forcing the choice between dull play or multiple gear sets. Neither are attractive.

Well, I have a second one too, actually. I want to max out more tradeskills AND play more characters on both sides. However I can’t mail tradeskills items between factions on my own account. This seems counterintuitive to me. It’s my account and I should be able to share items among my own characters at will.

This is a silly restriction that really should be gone sooner rather than later. Highly unsatisfying and unecessary barrier to fun.

For example, I want a tailor to upgrade bags for all of my characters. I should be able to mail them to them (and them only).

Otherwise, lots of fun to be had so far. Happy to be playing.

BFA Launch : Slow Clap or Not so Fast?

This was my experience last night.

Get home from work, make dinner, be a pool boy for a bit.

Think about logging in to Battle for Azeroth at 6pm. Decide  against it thinking it will be a gong show.

6:30, I figure I will get in the queue – even if it is bad, will be interesting to see! Besides, I have dishes to wash from dinner. Get in queue, do dishes, maybe play at a low framerate.

Hit login. Log right in. Pick character. Straight to game.

No lag, no issues. Played through the Kul Tiras introduction. Get an achievement.

First impressions were:

  • Love the new “story telling” format, and curious if they keep it up throughout the expansion. (yay!)
  • First piece of new Azerite armor is a reskin from a piece you get on Argus (boo)
  • Difficulty is fine based on where my gear is at (yay!)
  • I am a bit lost, new areas and a bit uncomfortable after so long of knowing everything (yay! new is good!)
  • There was the first level 120 in 5 hours (boo! or maybe yay!, since I love alts…)

So, completely impressed at how smooth it was for me to enter and play. Awesome experience.

Then I started reading the internet. Lawsuits. Ombudsman getting involved. State Senators being called. Online petitions. All because of login issues. I’d say “first world problems” but there needs to be a more condescending term for people who get angry and threaten over access to a video game. I just can’t think of an existing term that wouldn’t insult the regular group more by being grouped up with the online complaining low-lifes.

Glad I wasn’t those guys. Smooth as a babies bottom.

Well done Blizzard!

(for my server, anyway.)

Battle for Azeroth Plans

Here I am, a WoW blog and blogger again. My normal cycle of getting in and out of the game. It has staying power, at least.

At the end of Legion I did my goal of getting my Bearform artifact appearance and then turned my gaze towards levelling some alts. For some reason I felt like I needed more 110s and a plan to have all the Alliance races and classes represented. I even made a spreadsheet to show what changes I had to make to do that, and what options I had. And of course, in the idea of having equal M/F characters would need one to change sex. Here was the plan:

F Dwarven Hunter
M Night Elf Druid
M Void Elf Monk
F Human Paladin
F LightForged Draenai Priest
M Dark Iron Dwarf Warrior
M Gnome Death K
F Draenai Shaman
M Worgen Rogue
F Blood Elf Demon Hunter
M Kul Tiras M/W
F Pandaren Ma/Wa

My Druid wasn’t changing from a Night Elf, so my hunter had to. I settled on needing a race change to a Dwarf. I had two Draenai – Shaman and Paladin. One needed to change. I decided to plan for changing one to a Human. Decided on Paladin. (notice I said the word plan, things changed…). I didn’t like the female form of the Werewolf so decided to plan on changing to a Male form for my rogue which left a Mage / Warlock needed. I don’t know class restrictions on the Kul Tiras yet so saving the option.

That leaves my NE Druid at 100, Soon-to-be Dwarven Hunter at 110, Soon-to-be Human Paladin at 100, Draenai Shaman at 110, and Soon-to-be Male Worgen at 110. 5 at max.

Next closest is the Blood Elf – who is a Horde – at 108. Rest are at different stages. This plan looked good for me except I found myself not loving the Demon Hunter playstyle. When I bought my Paladin Race change on a whim I did a faction change instead and made her Horde. Afterall, this expansion will have very different levelling experiences and I think I want to play through the Horde side as well. My tossup for “main” was between Druid and Paladin (Monk as well, but he’s only level 40 so will be a longer slog). So now I have two mains, one for each faction, and can enjoy the story from both sides. The Druid and Paladin will be my focus. To start at least.

I’ll be levelling the Void Elf Monk. Lightforged Draenai, and soon to be Kul Tiras Mage/Warlock and Dark Iron Dwarf Warrior as well. This happens with the excitement of each expansion but eventually it will wane and I will move on. Lots on the horizon. In the meantime I have a plan to play WoW and am very much looking forward to it – even if I couldn’t sort through a full Alliance lineup.

I am back from vacation just in time, and also am looking forward to finishing off my “Spec me out!” posts. So a health dose of WoW it is!

Spec Me Out! : Rogue

I have always loved playing a rogue. Generally my rogue was my “escape” character back when you were able to have those characters you went to when you needed a break from the guild, or just needed to be anonymous for awhile. I did not PVP on my rogue but instead did fun other challenges like pickpocketing for epics. When Combat Rogues became a thing I naturally gravitated to that specialization as I was always less about the sneaky sneaky and poisons and more about a swashbuckling style combatant. So here I am, wanting to play a rogue but my time and style in WoW often revolves around getting good 5 man queues – since I enjoy that the most. This eliminates any pure DPS class for me as a “main” as the 10-15x extra wait to play one hurts the enjoyment of the game for me. This is how I am deeply rooted in the thought that due to the way WoW plays every class needs at least one heal or tank spec. I am going one further in this series as I introduce ideas for every spec a class is missing. The Rogue gets to be the first! This is meant to be a thought starter and hoping people share their thoughts and ideas.

Swashbuckler – Tanking Spec

Dodging blows, parrying attacks, a nimble tank that steps in and out of trouble with flair and reckless courage. This is by far the easiest, because the Rogue already has so many great tools to tank. Feint, Evasion, Cloak of Shadows, Feint/Elusiveness, Cheat Death – you can almost tank as is, and some Rogues have done small stints in the past when the tank went down. The Rogue tank is only missing the ability to take consistent and big damage.

Tanking mechanic: Panache: Takes X% less damage to enemies within X yards of the Rogue. The focus on defensive mechanics lowers damage output by X%. Panache is meant to close the game on straight up damage soaking baselines of the other tanks while bringing their DPS in line. You can tweak dodge and parry mechanics to make up the rest. X% being the difference of what the rogue has versus current tanks and the X yards range is to keep things interesting and force good cooldown use and positioning. Abilities could increase / decrease the percentage DR (damage reduction) on Panache to allow good use of energy and combo points.

Really, that is all it would take to make a Rogue a tank, along with tweaks to their defensive cooldowns. Figured to start with the easy one!

Gunslinger – Ranged DPS

Living between the edges of melee and ranged the Gunslinger wields pistols with accuracy and lethality. With pistols being introduced to the Rogue class in Legion this is a great opportunity to have the Rogue as a ranged spec. Pistols: Range X% less than rifles. Dual wield.

Mechanic: Speed Reload – the Gunslinger starts with 6 Combo points (representing 6 bullets) and spends them on damaging abilities. They must be “reloaded” before being able to be used again at a rate of X seconds per point

The idea behind the gunslinger is to switch the combo points mechanic on it’s head. Legion already introduced the idea of 6 combo points being possible. It’s a midrange dps spec that needs to be closer to the action than their traditional ranged counterparts, and has almost complete mobility – except when they have to reload – for which they have to be completely stationary to do. This puts them in a niche spot where most ranged DPS classes are timing their DPS losses while moving – and the Gunslinger is timing their DPS classes on reloading while forced stationary. Skills and procs / shots can lower reload time by X% and the player needs to balance when to reload vs burst windows. This is also unique as most classes either have a priority system or a builder/spender setup. Tons of ideas on different abilities from trick shots to emptying the chambers – would be a really fun specialization to fully kit out and living between the melee and ranged dps puts it in a very unique spot.

Bandolier – Healer

This was the hardest spec to think about. I didn’t want to introduce magic to a martial class so had to go the route of alchemy. If they can use poisons to such good effect, why not concoctions that heal as well? The Bandolier supports their group by tossing potions that have strange and wonderful effects with buffing and healing during combat. Many are attached to his bandolier for quick access, but due to the volotile nature of these alchemized creations some of the more powerful ones need to be combined / mixed right before use (which explains casting cooldowns on use). Think shades of Professor Putricide.

To add some flair and to make this class more interesting it could be a bit off centre like Disc Priests – using Damage Reduction shields, concoctions to add hit points, stats, etc. More of a buffer than straight healer but with enough juice to heal solo through using the various means. The AOE healing would be a Mentos / Coke style item thrown into a group and the resulting spray has AOE effects.

Healing Mechanic: Oops! – while preparing a potion with a concoct timer there is an X% chance that the effect is increased by X%, X% chance that one or more effects are included in the potion, or that no concoct (combo) points or energy is used.

This adds a bit of “roll the bones” to it which I found a very fun mechanic (I know others disagree!) but a few elements of randomization can add some fun flavour to the class as long as that randomization is minimal and not dependent on the class performing against their peers.

None of these specs are much of a stretch in terms of lore or what has been previously introduced into the game.

Would you play any of these Rogue specs?

Spec Me Out! : A WoW Class Design Series

Yes I am on vacation, but have some extra time some mornings and like to keep up with what is going on in Blognation so will try to squeeze in a post or two.

The next series of posts I write will be around class design in World of Warcraft. I won’t be talking about current specs or the broader design principles that Blizzard has used over the years (or is using in BFA) but instead I will talk about what is missing.

And that is, a healing / tanking spec for every class.

Like many armchair developers this idea is very personal and applicable to me – so it must be important, right? The truth is – using my experience and aspirations as an example – classes not having a heal or tanking specialization  limits everyone who wants to play a DPS class. Directly – I would love to play a Rogue as a main in BFA but the lack of being able to mix it up or have options outside of DPS isn’t that enticing. Even worst, the wait times to do 5 man dungeons is currently 10-15x longer than a healer or a tank. For someone who might only get an hour to play here and there I don’t want to spend that hour watching a timer tick down and hope when it does I become part of a functioning group.

I have heard the counter arguments before – that people will feel like they have to use those specs if they are available (some sort of peer pressure?) and that balance is already hard enough (it is, but we have learned to live in imbalance in WoW).  Again – with my experience – all I can share that while I am sitting in a DPS queue bored to hell on my Rogue sapping and pickpocketing random mobs I could be tanking. And if I WAS tanking, that means three other DPS players also got in faster. Instead we are all sitting around waiting for more tanks and healers to join the fray. I want to – but also in the class theme that I want to play.

This series will explore some ideas on how to introduce different specializations for every class in WoW – and for EVERY type. For example Rogues – which is where I will start – I will introduce ideas behind a healing spec, tanking spec, and ranged dps spec. For Monks (as an example) just a ranged DPS spec since that is all they are missing. I am not going to talk about what specs to remove or what to change in existing specs – I’ll let you do that on your own if you like any of the ones I introduce.

Some will have some new and interesting mechanics and some will definitely be a bit of a stretch – but I know everyone  who plays WoW spends some time thinking about class design and for some fun and hopefully to inspire some conversations I wanted to stretch my legs a bit to do the same.

I’ll be starting with the Rogue next post!

 

Battle For Azeroth Plans

I hate to call them plans because chances are they are abandoned / forgotten before they are done. That is just how life goes sometimes, and WoW life is something else entirely.

I was looking at what is in BFA and the normal “struggles” when there is a new expansion. Who to “main”? And while there is / has been a lot of discussion about mains and what it means in an MMO a the end of the day WoW has so many options and so many fun classes / specs that I don’t think you can make a wrong decision.  With that in mind, here is the schizophrenia that it produced and my decision making around it.

  • Druid (110) – my “always” main, that gives every playstyle in one package (Tank, Heals, MDPS, RDPS), my soul and lifeblood in WoW and sometimes the very reason why I feel compelled to play the expansions. His story will be told as long as there is a WoW to visit. Of course, just because the story needs to be told doesn’t mean he needs to be first, just needs to get there eventually.
    • Pros: Most comfortable with the class ins and outs. I have the new bear form. With tank/heals get almost instant queues to one of my favourite part of the game, 5 mans.
    • Cons: I have played him the most. I get bored easy.
  • Rogue (110) – usually my second class to level, because the playstyle is just so fun!
    • Pros: Fun playstyle. Singularly focused (I only like one spec of the three, really, so I don’t need to gear for any others, or learn others, etc.)
    • Cons: MDPS means long wait times to do dungeons.
  • Paladin (110) – either my first or second character to level cap past 3 expansions (second this time around in Legion)
    • Pros: all the same as the Druid in playstyle and wait times, but with Plate armor and a class theme I really align with
    • Cons: I don’t like healing or dps with the Paladin so I end up being a “tank only”.
  • Hunter (110)  – finally levelled one to 110 in Legion and was great fun!
    • Pros – Ranged class (that I normally don’t play), was my actually first WoW character (if you are the nostalgic type. I am). Survival spec is very interesting, to say the least.
    • Cons – Same as single role like the rogue (DPS only, even though there are both ranged and melee options). They changed a lot about Marksman spec that I liked for BFA.
  • Shaman (106) – My “other” main healer from the raid days. And current bank alt. Have been plugging away to get her to 110
    • Pros – love the shaman theme. Has a healing, ranged, and melee DPS options (of which I usually go melee / heals, although Elemental is an interesting spec to explore)
    • Cons – No tank option, which is something I enjoy in 5 mans. I have read that the Enhance spec is a mess in BFA so far.
  • Demon Hunter (105) – My only Horde character. (I regret that, kinda mostly).
    • Pros – good class thematically, can glide, and tank.  Tank and glide is the new slip and slide. I like how the class plays and feels.
    • Cons – I’d most likely reset and start an Alliance DH since it sucks not being able to pass/share gold, etc between your own alts. I am pushing to play WoW “free” so time away from the Alliance is time away from working towards WoW tokens.
  • Death Knight (58) – A Gnome. How cute. Also undead.
    • Pros – would be a mostly new experience with a tanking and MDPS plate class that is interesting.
    • Cons – the class lore and feel hasn’t really grabbed me with anything that exciting so far.
  • Warlock (26) – Another Gnome. Why so low? I mean, in levels. This is my main candidate for my 110 boost.
    • Pros – have never played a cloth caster at level. Would be a completely new experience!
    • Cons – have never played a cloth caster at level. Would be a completely new experience.
  • Mage (14) – see above. Yup, that simple. I may have to delete this guy if I want to do a Kul Tiras…

The next three classes, I have pegged to do with the new races. Two of which I already have unlocked.

  • Monk (26) – This is a high candidate for being a “main”. I love the monk thematically, both in WoW but in a broader, fantasy sense (if I ever get to play D&D for reals this will be my class).
    • Pros – Covers my three favorite roles – Tank, Healing, MDPS. Is an elf. I like elves. But a new kind of elf. The void elf. Has a cool name, Bleys. Bonus points if you know where that is from without googling it.
    • Cons – need to level to 120 the old fashioned way (will explain soon).
  • Priest (20) – Not interested as a main but haven’t ever explored a priest class.
    • Pros: Can heal (high comfort) and DPS (ranged), and is a cloth caster so that’s completely new to me. Is a Lightforged Draenai. Has a cool name – Llewella. Bonus points if you know where that is from without googling it, and is related to Bleys.
    • Cons: Do not love the class thematically, need to level to 120 the old fashioned way (will explain soon)
  • Warrior (Null) – I know I have to level this class to 120 at some point during expansion.
    • Pros – Can tank, is plate wearing. I don’t play enough plate wearing classes.
    • Cons: No heal option as a secondary. Can’t exist until BFA launces, since I want to be a Dark Iron Dwarf. Need to level to 120 the old fashioned way

Yes, that is a quick summary of every class. I mean, at expansion time everything is on the table, although some are far more likely than others.

With the bottom three classes and the new races, they introduced cosmetic “Heritage armor” that you earn by levelling one of the new classes from 20-120 without a boost.

They are beautiful, and incredibly detailed.

At first I felt like I would be fine only doing the Dark Iron Dwarf one. I don’t have a dwarf. After seeing the armor, I definitely want/need one. Here it is. And it looks far better (and has some animations) when you see it in game. (You can view it at the Stormwind Embassy).

I

compliments of wowhead

I really love it. And even though it can be transmogged onto anything (I believe?) it would fit a Warrior type well. Here are the Lightforged Draenai and Void Elf, respectively.

compliments of WoWhead

complimeants of wowhead

Sure, they are pretty good, but not Dark Iron Dwarf good. Again, in game the animations are really good and the details are awesome.

Odd, because i have never been a collector of these kinds of things, but I am not sure why I want these.

I have been playing in and around and messing with all the classes above both in game and in my head, and trying to sort through my plans for the expansion. Do you have any plans or thoughts for BFA?

What is it that thing they say about plans and planning…..

 

Mission “Impossible” Accomplished

I was so excited I forgot to take a picture. Compliments of Icy Veins

Well, turns out I don’t completely suck.

Only partially.

And I had little confidence going into the weekend.

When I realized the new Artifact appearances were going away in Battle for Azeroth it was enough for me to resubscribe. One of the issues I have always had with the Bear form of my druid is that you don’t get to change looks that often – and while a lot of that changed with the Artifact in Legion, the Mage Tower was truly unique as it was a were-bear kind of thing (how would you describe it?). This was evolution! No longer would I have to walk on all fours.

As long as I could beat the challenge. Which in prior posts and comments even here, seemed to be reserved for the Mythic+ raider type and not the Joe Isey Casual player like me.

It definitely didn’t start off well, either. I banged my head against it with a 920ish ilvl for Guardian spec until I realized that I needed to focus on gearing up the best I could in the time time remaining to make it easy. So I would do all the weekly events that would give me a chance at a gear upgrade and throughout, periodically, do ten or so tries of the challenge to keep fresh on it and also see how I was progressing.

For those who don’t know the challenge I will link the Wowhead Guide  explanation here – as it is far better written and it would take a lot of space to replicate what is already there. In short, the tanking ones – and the Guardian Druid in particular – are considered some of the more challenging ones. It definitely felt that way. I struggled to get out of Phase 1 fast enough to limit the number of Smoldering Infernos in play (who smash you off the floating island to your instant death) and as such, was recommended to get Luffa Wrappings so I could safely DPS the first phase boss in a safe place. I managed to get three more legendaries (total of 9 on my druid), none of which were the Luffa Wrappings. Still, by the time I won it I had two “better” legendaries that really helped me be successful (along with a 937 ilvl).  Fury of Nature, and Soul of the Archdruid. Both of which will be replaced with greens in a month. Along with the other 9 plus my awesome weapon.

But not my form. I can always Transmog to it now, and now that the base is unlocked I can also take my time and unlock the different color palettes as well whenever I want. You just need to have the base.

Winning for me was the combination of getting really comfortable with the fight, having the right gear and consumables, and last (but not least) using some macros that really limited the buttons I needed to use in order to focus on what was going on around me. It was the first time I had a strong feeling of challenge and the resulting confidence of actually accomplishing something hard in WoW since we were raiding the original Karazahn.

My angst now, is that if enough people complain about it that Blizzard brings it back EZ-Mode to appease those who didn’t get it in time. The effort was well worth it, and they announced it well in advanced so I would hope not. And yes, it would feel like a minimization of my accomplishment due to the fact I had to put in extra time, money and effort and was up against the wall. Dammit, here I am all drunk with elitism and power already.

My conundrum now is whether or not I even keep playing with an expansion so close – especially since the Artifact Weapons are being demoted / neutered in Tomorrow’s patch. I don’t know if there is enough to keep me excited for another month’s token fee. I think I have a few days left to figure that out.

 

Hurry Before It’s Gone! : World of Warcraft

As per my normal modus operandi for World of Warcraft I was done with this expansion. Truth be told this expansion was the longest and hardest (that’s what she said?) I have played a WoW expansion since Wrath of the Lich King. It was a fun, well put together experience overall. Sure, I felt the story went from great (Suramar) to a bit silly (SPACESHIPS!) but hey, Blizzard has never been known for their storytelling. Anyway it is with a bit of shock and surprise to myself finding myself re-installing WoW so close to a new expansion – especially because I always (purposefully) enter an expansion well after launch so things aren’t so crowded and annoying. Heck, I don’t even know if I am going to play Battle for Azeroth at all. What was the impetus? The artifact bear form appearance.

courtesy: Wowhead

Part of the reason why I even bother to play WoW is my attachment to my Druid. With each new expansion I feel like his story deserves to be told until the day he officially enters the Emerald Dream. This has meant some long forays into the game (WOTLK, Legion) and some really short ones (Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor). I usually Bear / Heal as my main specs (not necessarily in that order) and when they launched the new bear form above this year I was really excited to get it – until, it turns out, you have to be really, really good to or have an insane ilvl. Neither of which I am/have. With the news that these forms are no longer able to be attained once Battle for Azeroth starts, and that the time locked mechanic which gates the attempts to get it are now permanently unlocked I knew I had to go try.

Besides, now is the best time – you get a free, maxed out artifact weapon on a simple quest. So the ilvl will climb a bit. While it is good to have a purpose, the short timeline adds a bit of stress and since it is a solo mission I can’t just find help.

This may be my last adventure with my Druid, so wish me luck.

I am Number Four : World of Warcraft

Weird gaming lately. Searching for a mindless, zen like state where I can log into someplace comfortable and advance and repeat tasks. Not really with a fun focus but just a time killing focus. Some may say “wasting”. I can’t disagree with that. I hit my fourth max character in World of Warcraft this morning.

You can see the Demon Hunter is not far behind. I think I am doing the Shaman next though, really tired of leveling leather wearing characters. They all end up looking the same by armor type. As you can see I have no cloth wearing classes at max level and that is also something I want to “fix”. Normally I don’t like playing DPS only classes as it takes out reasonable timeframes for getting into speechless groups and raids (any kind of group or raid, really. I mean, you are a tank or a healer and you have a one minute wait. As a DPS only class you have 20+ often. Sometimes it’s not so bad and you get lucky and get one that’s under 10 minutes.

The Hunter class was my first WoW class, back when everyone was a hunter back in Vanilla. That’s when I switched to Druid as my main and who is my emotional favorite. The Shaman was my other raiding class (from a heal perspective) and the Rogue is just a lot of fun to play. Hunters in Legion took on a new look – the Marksman (what I play) can get rid of their pet altogether. Heck, they even have a melee spec, which from what I understand isn’t that great. Still it was glad to see some changes to the standard in this expansion and since I had never levelled one to max I chose to this time.

I don’t think I am going to bother multi-speccing the class, however. If I want to Melee I will use my rogue, or my Shaman (Enhancement was a long time favorite class of mine). Nice to have the simplicity of one class, one spec for a change. The great thing about WoW is the maintenance mode it is in is very easy to play. Everything is simplified with flying. I log in, do the daily emissary quests with each (once they have 2+ saved up), get the loot, run follower missions for gold/rep, send everything to my bank alt, sell on the AH, rinse repeat. I am a creature of habit. I get up at 4:30 am every day, have a coffee, work out, make breakfast for my family, go to work, rinse, repeat. WoW works well on a schedule.

Great news is that I made enough this month to pay for my next two months so WoW is a F2P game for me. Makes it easy to spend my time there this way.  I am still confused why the sudden desire to have one of every class to level cap. I also want to unlock the new races (for alliance, anyway) but I have little to no desire to level a character from one. Not sure if you can race change or not but I’m leaning on that. Would be nice to get different races on my classes but  not going to level them up from scratch. I have a 70+ warrior on another server that I will transfer. Still, there are cloth wearer at very low levels so perhaps I could start a new race there?

I haven’t had any desire to play WoW and still not quite sure what the draw is here. Any content I now do has been done 4x over and if I do get all the classes to 110 all that means is that I have far too many choices when the expansion drops (which takes a lot more commitment and focus than what I am doing now). Kind of feels like I am playing while half asleep – zombie gaming? Where I am half in, not fully paying attention, but nevertheless pleased with result? It’s odd, but not a bad time. That isn’t really a super high endorsement now, is it?

The class halls, feels and story has been an interesting perspective at least.

This post is as clear as my mind is right now and my gaming.

Making a Generation of Bad Players : WoW

There is nothing like a Timewalking event to make you appreciate old school MMO players and feel bad that newer MMO players haven’t had to learn what used to be “core competencies” in MMOs. Now to be sure – these skills aren’t as important because they aren’t prevalent in today’s gaming but for anyone who grew up when MMOs had a modicum of challenge this will be very familiar territory.

Love the old, ugly, mish mash of levelling gear

The setting was a 5 man Timewalking Dungeon from the Cataclysm expansion – specifically Throne of the Tides. I am levelling my 4th and 5th characters to cap (more on that later) and my Shaman has a heal spec which I spent many years playing so into Timewalking dungeons I go.  Throne of the Tides has some large pack pulls (5+) and very specific mobs that cast greater heal. With the de-levelling and gearing you can’t just muscle through it. You need focus fire, and interrupts, and/or CC. The first run I did of this dungeon was with “newer” WoW players. They just kept full AOE, no interrupts, and we literally spent over 5 minutes bashing our heads against a single pack until we wiped. I, as a healer, was the only person trying to interrupt. Even when I Hex’ed a healer (hard CC) someone would hit it to bring it into AOE fest. I took the time and energy to try and explain.

More ugly gear, my tanking set. Gross. Love it. Orange and Purple should match better.

Not only did they not get it, the Mage didn’t even have Polymorph on her hotbar. I kid you not. Of course, makes sense, because if you never have to use a spell/skill why bother? I remember those pulls “back in the day” and we would do a SAP, POLY, HEX, FREEZE TRAP and prioritize the others, rotating interrupts. When done it was a wonderful coordination and really made you feel like a team. Now it is just gather up as much as you can and AOE it all down. The beauty and intricacies of the genre are completely watered down.

But there is hope.

That group fell apart because people refused to communicate, mark mobs, and try something different. So I requeued up and decided to try again. This time I got a group that cleary was from the Cataclysm era. The tank marked mobs. BLue square was hunter trap. X was Polymorph. Was explained once, and everyone excuted throughout the whole 5 man. It was still the same old, same old WoW experience because no one said a word after the “rules” were set until the final piece of loot dropped (“ty all”, was the crux of it.) but it was a well oiled, experienced machine.

The Shaman class hall, on the edge of the Maelstrom is frightening and beautiful. Waves crash up and spray. I haven’t tried jumping in. Yet.

Rest of the runs were a mixed bag of both which was when I realized that a lot of players either just don’t know any better, or don’t care to put in the effort. All of this means that there is probably less complexity on it’s way in future games and they will continue to be questing snore-fests.

No wonder why nothing really new is coming out in the space “for the masses”, and hopefully the niche titles will try to recapture at least some of the personal responsibility along with personal loot boxes.

Content Catch Up : WoW

Well, that didn’t take long. As of this morning I have completed all the Broken Isles content I had planned too (LFR once through all, got the new flying form, have completed all the main quests). I am also done all of Argus except the LFR raid (and will probably finish that off tonight). It took me three days to go from 7.2 to 7.35. To be fair, I was running pretty good content when I left (Mythic +9, etc.) but wasn’t raiding outside of LFR. My ilvl is 891 and that is a far cry away from the easy to reach 910 from grinding out Argus, so there is a goal at least. I also need to grind out enough material to upgrade all of my legendary items to 1000 but almost have enough for my first just through the leveling process. It’s good to have goals but outside of daily Emissary quests I think I am already out of things to do. So, I started doing my main two alts (Rogue and Paladin) through the Daily Emissary quests for catch up and get them headed to the Broken Shore.  I then started planning out three other characters I want to get to max level (Shaman 94, Monk 56 , Hunter 101 – in that order) when it occurred to me – here I am again, hook line and sinker repeating the content I just completed in a whopping three days to climb in ilvl for no specific purpose. What’s that quote about doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome? Although hard to judge because it was a super fun and comfortable three days. This is how games suck you in.

Really? Maximum of 50 characters across all realms? Who does that?

I’m not a big fan of the new flight form for the Druid. The old one, looks like a scrappy young druid ready for battle. Maybe a bit like a “still able to fly version” of a Dark Crystal Skeksis.

The new version is a grandpa like, “get off my lawn you pesky kids” version.

The bad mustache style feathers and upright neck make it also look uncomfortable. I’m not sure if I will be keeping it, but will give it a chance to grow on my a bit. We’ll see if Grandpa Owl has all the tangible benefits of a real grandparent.

The flying quest had an instance where you had to go support Thisalee Crow to get the Relic back from a big bad Legion guy.  The fun part for this is that I already had Thisalee Crow accompanying me in my adventures in the Broken Isles. So there was a weird moment where her and her clone and I were all hanging out.  Can you say awkward?

Will the real Thisalee Crow please stand up?

Outside of that continuity error – of which I don’t suspect Blizzard really cares – the experience has been WoW through and through. Although I did stop to pause to wonder if “old Blizzard” would have cared of the duplicity there. I know they aren’t into immersion as importance but they have done a lot of good cutscene work and surely someone would have noticed that this was a very distinct probability for a druid character. Of which, a production manager of some sort would have realized that there would be no real outcry, so why bother investing programming time and dollars to find a fix for something that wasn’t going to be noticed or written about by anyone of substance? There was one Argus cutscene moment where I actually said “Wow, that was cool!” and I don’t want to put this post into spoiler territory (guessing I am the last in the world to see it anyway) but take a guess in the comments if you think you know which I am talking about.

Ilvls to grind and alts to level. For now. I have enough for a token for my first 30 days and I made 30,000 on the first day in the Auction house, so the game is free for me for as long as I want to play it. Will see how long it can capture my attention for for now.  The big question is if I will drag my alts through the same experience or if I can stick to just one character.

Flying Not Flying : WoW

Well, with some helpful tips in my last post from Leo and Will my “ehrmagahd this grind is going to suck!” path to flying turned into “really, that’s it?”. It helped of course that I was fully done all the prereqs and had to just slog through a gated quest to get the Legionfall rep a flowing. Yay, I can Crow Form again!

I belieeeeve I can fly. I belieeeeve I can touch the sky.

Yaaaas! Longtime readers with excellent memories (no, I am not going to link all the posts from years gone by) will know how much I love flying in World of Warcraft. Tesh and I would chat about it all the time. Something about the Crow form and just flying around is a complete joy in the game. Which is always why I am upset and confused on why they take it away temporarily in their expansions. It is a core part of the game, the excuses for not being able to fly are completely lame and immersion breaking, and people who care about “seeing the world” will still do that. Some will just do it from better viewing angles, too.

You can be my wing man anytime. No, you can be mine.

So of course I am in the full “pure fly, all the time” camp. Not being able to fly is a severe detriment to my enjoyment of the game. It is kind of like how I struggle with any game that doesn’t have jump (Dauntless, The Division). Being grounded just isn’t any fun at all. Of course in the interest of keeping land masses small and huddled and lowering development costs by stretching out existing content via travel times, we end up with a lie  to excuse not flying every expansion and a lengthy quest to eventually get it. It’s fake content, but it’s all we have. Clcearly with my additional slang and silliness in my writing you can tell how much happier I am and how much better WoW Legion is right now with flying.

While I am still not “done” LegionFall content (there is a new flight form to unlock, and a new bear form, at “bear” minimum. Ugh, yes, the silliness continues…) I quickly jumped to the Argus content so I can get some key upgrades. The super cool awesome new Bear Form is supposedly very difficult to get with low ilvl gear. So I figured if I run through the quest content on Argus then I can go back and sort through how to get that form. More, super guided, super easy planned obsolecence content is not my cup of tea but it is exactly what World of Warcraft is. Argus, here I come!

Oh. f@$k you Argus and your non-flying.

And back to no flying. Birds are now Deer. Or Elk. Definitely not Reindeer, because that would be super cool to fly as a Reindeer. Time to slog through non-interesting and engaging content with my feet flat on the ground. The good news about Argus and the guided quest experience is that – well it’s kind of like – you know, that thing that is sorta – oh damn. Trying to find something positive and fair. Wait, I got it. Comfortable. That is the right word for WoW leveling through a new area. Like a cup of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day. Without the alcohol to zip it up.

What WoW DOES do well is scale. Fighting giant creatures makes you feel pretty epic. I was carefully dodging all of his telegraphed, big attacks until I missed one my accident – and realized that he hits like a wet noodle. I stopped trying to get out of the way and took the hits, mashed some buttons, and pushed the scattered narrative forward.

In comfort, not style.

 

Jumbled Mess : WoW

Well, my return to World of Warcraft wasn’t as smooth, fun, or heralded as I expected. I haven’t used bullet points in a while.

  • First off my guild of the past three expansions was gone. It wasn’t that I was kicked out of it but that it had completely disbanded. I was shocked because even my first guild – from 2007 still exists with a skeleton crew. I know this even though I have long left the server because my Potion Bank Alt is still in that guild (along with my Warrior alt.) I login once in a while to see who is still there and kicking around. I moved servers when I quit being a guild leader and followed some friends who wanted a better timezone for their playtime. Since I wasn’t leading or raiding anymore, the Mountain time zone didn’t matter (I am Eastern Standard) as I was playing WoW super casual at that time (and still am).  So when I had some good gaming friends go to a new server I went with them. It also gave me a good split from a guild that I had loved for many years – but when you step down as a leader it’s hard to be in the wings, and many people send you whispers looking for advice, etc. that is better for the new leadership to handle. You feel like you are in the way. I do regret that move some days, because I left a lot of good people behind and I didn’t support them how I should have. It’s tough when “it’s just a game” and “there are real people who matter” collide.
  • For some reason WoW is the only game I can’t play with the base UI. I had to download, install, update and configure no less than 17 mods to get the base UI to a state I deemed “playable”. Curse used to auto-update this for me but now they are owned by Twitch, so I had to install a  new installer program. Plus, many of my favorite mods were no longer supported or updated so I had to find mods that did a similar thing. It took two of my first full play sessions to even get close to being able to play. I am still not done by any stretch of the imagination but it’s pretty close now. I think this crutch is as much my own issue as the game itself as a past raider the mods you had to have became a part of the core experience. I have had zero issues in DDO, EQ2, EQ1, TSW (etc.) with needing mods to play.
  • At this stage in the expansion and where I was at there is so just so much to do and no real proper or clear path in what order to do it in – the game is pulling me in several different directions that are unrelated. There are quests to unlock new traits in my artifacts – but those traits are already unlocked (I think as a catch up mechanic?). I already spent billions on improving it then finished the quests and became able to do… what I already did. Flying in Legion does NOT have an easy catch up mechanic. I don’t know why the WoW devs hate that so much. Should be easy peasy at this point and not a month long grind. I have daily quests from Argus – an area I haven’t been to yet (want to finish off the flying part first) and they take up one of my three available daily chest slots. I had two of them going at one point. I feel like it should be more streamlined at this point.
  • I did LFR to get some quests done and see the bosses – and it is embarrassingly easy at this stage. I went in without reading a single raid boss strat and killed them all. I am glad they exist. It’s pretty easy to just watch other players and react accordingly. I did some of the new 5 mans too. The best part about LFR over the 5 mans is that people talk in LFR! Sure, it’s only to complain about “noobs” and “I can’t heal stupid” but seeing chat was nice.
  • Oh, I did join one of those random accept guild invites. Guild perks are a thing in WoW for rep and quest grinds in particular. Lucky for me they are chatty and seem friendly. No clue what my long term plans are – I definitely do not want to pay to transfer all my characters to my old home (Whisperwind) but if I can cross account things now to Horde side I may go next xpac as a Horde. I talk about that every expansion but never do it.

I am not loving the return. I am committed to trying to get flying. Curious to level a Monk. Going to start playing the AH to try and preserve a free subscription cost. This may be a short trip back, we will see. I was hoping to be having more fun and be more excited at this stage!

Finishing an Expansion: WoW

I spent a lot of months in Legion last year, and it has been probably my second favorite expansion.  I have a strange relationship with WoW that bounced from love to hate and most emotions in between. It is hard to explain why in some regards – I have had multiple accounts at multiple times, happily paying my subscription fee. I don’t know if there is another game I treat the same way as WoW. For example, when I play it I feel I have to exclusively play it – and play it hard – because I have to “pay” for it. While this is less true now (with tokens I haven’t paid for it the whole expansion) I am still exchanging something for that access more than time – so I feel like I need to be dedicated and focused at it.

Legion lost me at their first real hard gear reset. That was in and around 7.2. I had spent a month grinding out challenging content to slowly inch my ilvl up by 1s and 2s to, well, be stronger I guess. Then a patch came that greatly increased your ilvl for basic tasks and quests and I realized that all the effort I was putting in was wasted. I could just wait for the “last” patch in the expansion, and get easy gear with less effort and time. I don’t even think that this is fair to say because I was having fun – but when you hit the progression wall as a non-raider it starts to feel like work. (Less work than raiding mind you). So I made the decision to stop, and stop all the alts I was levelling, and wait until the next expansion was announced so I could just finish off the expansion and park my characters until the next. We have been at that point for a while now, but I still didn’t have the itch or the push to make WoW “my game” again – I am having too much fun in other games that only need my time.

I am being clear here that I actually think the way I look at and feel about WoW is largely unfair in comparison to how I play other games. I am so emotionally tied to the wonderful and terrible experiences I had in the game that I honestly believe that I owe it to my druid to continue his journey to the level cap with each expansion. Then I start having fun and start getting other characters there (as I love the way many different ones play), and eventually the fun turns into a grind that I realize isn’t making it fun anymore, and I step away. Legion was the longest I stayed in any expansion since WOTLK though as it had hit a lot of good places. Even now I am wondering why I didn’t level a Shaman. I had done my Druid (as my main), my Paladin next, my Rogue, messed around with a Demon Hunter, worked on a Hunter… that is a lot. I can completely see how and why WoW is a permanent home for many. It just doesn’t always last for me.

The tipping point to getting back into it?


Sometimes you just need a little push. Being so far behind and no real goals in site (except experience all the updated content, probably get flying, level an alt or two – fu@k here it goes again…) I probably won’t have a lot to report here, but then again, I always find something to complain about.

Hearthstoned Part 2

The last time I played or wrote about Hearthstone was to explain why I uninstalled it. The coles notes is that in an effort to ramp up revenues they ramped up expansion packs, requiring a bigger commitment to buy new packs and accept new meta strategies to remain competitive and have fun (if competitive is fun for you). Still – it’s not fun to feel like your carefully crafted deck with pacing and surprise is completely destroyed by new, standard decks that take little thought or effort to play – and just require a lot of spending to get those decks. That is – rightly or wrongly – how Hearthstone made me feel at the time. That was nine months ago and I had completely forgotten about Hearthstone and didn’t miss it one bit.

Zubon made a post about Hearthstone near Christmas and truth be told I had also read about the new rogue-like dungeon crawler mode they had introduced and on a whim gave it a go. The playmode takes out the pace of expansion issues I hated when I left – you pick a class and start with a preset deck. Each “boss” you beat, you get random card packs in various themes and you get to choose one of three. There are also perks (double starting health, your battlecries trigger twice, etc.) that become standard for the rest of the journey. The game presents you with three randomly and you choose one. The more bosses you beat the more cards you get and the more options you are presented with to further enhance your deck and chances against bigger and badder bosses.

It is a clever way that takes buying decks out of the equation. There aren’t any rewards either though, except for a card back if you win the mode with five different classes. It is definitely an exercise in randomization and fun elements – remember, I am a huge fan of randomization –  right down to the bosses you face and the perks and cards you can acquire. Heck – there is even an “I win or lose” card with a 10 cost – that casts pyroblast repeatedly until you or the boss is dead. This is an actual fair and balanced strategy in the game mode. Getting that card, however, is also completely random. The randomization is good and bad, depending on how you look at it.  First off – all card games are based on randomization that don’t give everyone the exact same set of cards. Go Fish, Crazy 8s, Euchre – all heavy randomized games. They have more rigidity in their structure so the parameters by which you can play them of course. And as much as I am talking about randomization here there is still an opportunity to build really good decks if given the right choices.


I can’t recommend this game or mode to people who have a hard time accepting that you really could lose even if you made the best choices available to you due to the fact that all the choices you are presented with may not have synergies or be optimal. I have lost rounds on the first boss before. Heck, frequently in the top four bosses! Sometimes the cards you are dealt you just have to accept. The good news is that the randomness works both ways and even with poor choice options through the first three or four bosses your fortunes can change throughout the final few as you head to the final boss. This is exactly how I beat a boss for the first time. I was so focused on playing Priest only, as that is my “main” in this game and I was certain that I wouldn’t do as well with other classes. I went 20+ games with not winning with the priest before I decided that maybe it was the class and not me, and maybe the Priest is under powered in this mode and I should try others. And that I did.

The first class  won with was the Warlock (my lowest ranked class from Hearthstone proper), and then Hunter, and then Paladin. The only classes that are lower ranked for me than those are the Warrior and Mage. This is further proof that experience isn’t necessary in a class and you can pick up any of them and give it a go with a chance of success. Heck I now go in order, top down, left to right, in my attempts as I try to win the mode with each one. It isn’t the best game or game mode I have ever played but the completionist part of me really wants to “win” so I keep playing.

I did try some PvP with my old C’Thun deck and it has held up just fine in the lower levels of Hearthstone but I know I will get trampled on in higher competitive play. It’s an easy game to jump into for 10-15 minutes which is the attraction to it – but I can’t lie when I say I am really looking forward to a more meaningful and deep card experience that I am hoping to get with the new Magic: The Gathering game currently in beta. That is the one I am waiting for to really dive into card/deck building games again.

The Overwatch Conundrum

My son and all of his friends play Overwatch. Typically that style of first person shooter (spammy, jumpy, TF2-ish is probably a fair description) has never been high on my list. And yet, I find myself playing it. The oddity of this isn’t the fact that I am playing it (I play all sorts of games) but the fact that I am playing it and still haven’t figured out if I like it or not. It is a strange beast. After 10 hours or so and getting into online matchmaking there are some things I know I DISLIKE about it, but I am having a hard time putting my finger on the things that I DO like about it.

compliments of razerone since screenshots are hard to port over from PS4

I dislike that you can change characters upon death. While that makes sense for matchmaking purposes, I find that it helps the winning team more. As soon as you switch thinking you are bringing a counter to the table to balance it out more the other side just does the same thing. There is no strategy behind this and it becomes a guessing game of who is going to pick who. I would change this to the losing side can only change at any given time (to balance it out) or not have it change at all. Of course, the game is not up for changing something as fundamental as that design choice. It is pushing me away from the game. I yearn for a mode like League of Legends where people pick one at a time and stick with it.

I also dislike the lack of customization options. The skins, for the most part, are just re-coloration on the low end and things like tags and voice lines you don’t get to really enjoy. If you stop to check out a cool tag you are dead, plain and simple. If you are paying attention to interesting or fun in game speak you are dead. The game is too fast and spammy to enjoy the majority of the loot box items – emotes, voice overs, and tags. The only weapon customization that I have seen is golden guns which feels like a HUGE miss.

I dislike the lack of strategy. Things happen so fast that there is no time to work out any sort of fundamental strategy outside of spam here and spam there. Objectives are won and lost so quickly that it’s simply run back, try to find a group, and spam/shoot away. I know you are probably thinking “well duh, that’s the beauty of it!” but I don’t see it that way. I wish there was more to it but it feels very shallow in so many ways.

And yet, I play it. I don’t know if it fits in mindless zen grinding for loot boxes territory (which I do like, actually, but think you should get one for every match – not level – as a B2P game it’s a bit crappy) or the semblance of semi interesting characters (albeit devoid of story or purpose). There is definitely some sort of hook to it that I just can’t put my finger on. Maybe someday soon I can explain, if I continue playing it.

Enter the competitor, Paladins.

Izlain over at Me Myself and I made a post that included Paladins and when I checked out some reviews and videos it hits a lot of the check boxes of things I dislike about Overwatch. Player is locked in for the match, but they are further customized by cards you collect as well as in game gear you can buy (much like League of Legends). There is a loot box pathway in the game that doesn’t also charge you a box fee. The gameplay and characters also look varied semi interesting. I also have nothing to lose by trying it, so I will. Will be interesting to comp the two.

easy peeyzy lemon breezy

Bonus here, as a PS4 noob that I could get the game and download it to my home PS4 from the PS store in my browser at work. I didn’t realize it had that functionality and quite frankly, that is awesome. I was honestly thinking that I wished I could do that from here, and tried it for the heck of it, and sure enough it worked. Makes so much sense and removed another barrier to purchase. This could end up being a costly and dangerous feature for me.

What do you think? Do you play either? What do you love about it? I am going to continue to explore this further and any tips or suggestions would be helpful.

I Uninstalled Hearthstone Today

Hearthstone is a card game that I have had some great enjoyment with. The pace of the expansion packs has felt really rushed and clearly in the past three months they have been pumping out “I win” cards with each. This is somewhat understandable in a free to play format where they want to get paid. I do believe that you need breathing room for the playerbase to earn these cards “the old fashioned way” so they feel they can still play and be competitive with the whales.

Historically, the expansions have came out (in average) every 241 days – but not the new one. Pushed by declining revenues (my guess) they released the latest in half the timeframe – 126 days. I was just starting to feel good about competing with Gadgetzan decks. Now a whole new expansion is out, with new win conditions. I played a game last night that finally made me decide to stop playing. I was playing my C’thun Priest, a not very popular deck but a fun one if you can keep the game going a long time. With this deck I have been as high as rank 16 (the top 25% of Hearthstone players are rank 15 or above) so on that bubble of not being entirely terrible not really great either. I don’t play the meta-decks, I don’t play “competitively”, but I was having fun.

Last night I hit a warrior – I normally don’t like warriors to begin with – their “hero” power works (+2 armor) even if there is nothing on the board, where a priest needs damage against to effectively use the hero power. Turn 1, he plays this:

I have never even heard of that card, but it rewards this:

And that card is basically an “I win” card. I am also playing an “I win” card deck (C’Thun), but really, I need to get to the 15th round or later for the most part to make it happen – and I have to dig it out of a deck of 30, so it’s a late play. How many rounds could it take for them to get to their “I win” condition?

Six. Six rounds. There are so many taunt cards, and even more low taunt cards that he was able to play 7 taunt minions in 6 rounds.  IF it was possible to do enough damage (with an aggro deck, or whatnot) then maybe there would be an effective counter. Except they are all taunt cards, which means you have to clear them before doing damage to the player. You have to have a specific deck able to clear faster than he can play taunt cards before hitting his I win condition. In six rounds.

(Granted, six rounds is probably not normal, but it was still my experience so others are probably having it as well). Soon as he hit it, that early, and seeing what I had in my hand I knew the game was over. I just looked at the board and my hand, saw what was going on and realized there wasn’t a possible way for me to win. Not even if I was completely lucky. The kinds of cards that could help me in that situation (Reno, Brann, Sylvanus) were “retired” from standard play with the new expansion. I realized that this game is pushing too hard on revenue and not hard enough on preserving the experience or value of existing decks. This was somewhat obvious on the Gadgetzan expansion, but completely clear with Un’Goro.

It’s a shame – I paid over $60 for the game this year as I was having that much fun, so now they lose my long term, steady stream of revenue for the short term big sprints. I would have paid more if I had felt they were focused on improving the game. I like paying and supporting companies who earn my gaming dollars.

Seems I am not the only one.

Can anyone recommend a good, other card game to play on my phone when I drink port and smoke cigars in my garage? Hearthstone expanded itself right into an uninstall.

24.9% More Important

Well, I caught up to my F2P Jedi as a full subscribing Jedi (completing chapter one of the Knight story line) and I shaved 3 hours off of it. That is a decrease of time of 24.9%. This was completely non scientific but most of that time was saved by being able to use quick travel, and having a better land mount to zip past mobs to quest completions. That number is too close to 25% to not assume that the masters of the galaxy decided that a subscriber should have a 25% more efficient time of playing. I know it is anecdotal and such but still, so close to what would seem like a logical conclusion that it is hard not to draw.

Screenshot of my riding my speeder (on my old Jedi, with the non-toggle-able hat unless you pay $10 option).

SWTOR does a good job of immersing you in the Star Wars Universe and the single player campaign is fun. I typically don’t play many games with sound but hard not to do it in SWTOR for the light-saber sounds alone, not to mention familiar riffs in the background as they set the mood as you transition to different story arcs. I am a big fan.

The sudden drop of World of Warcraft was “just because”. I still praise it as the best WoW expansion since Wrath of the Lich King but I was in that rut of nothing really to do but grind out the daily quests in hopes of yet another legendary. My sub dropped at the same time I dipped my toe in SWTOR  and the amazing XP gains are too hard to ignore. I have long waited for the opportunity to zip through the single player stories there.  I will most likely go back to WoW in a future patch (or two) as I want to play out the story campaign there as well as getting that cool new druid form. It looks as though the Token is settling in around the 80k mark for the next little while and I am remiss that I didn’t buy the tokens at 25k (or 60k). I don’t see what sort of other announcement can make the token price jump further (free pizza with a WoW token?) and I am curious if it will drop if/when subscriptions start dropping. With the rate of content being pumped out and planned I know there is plenty to keep most WoW players subscribed.

I’ll be back when the whim hits me. I have the next 60 days to play in a galaxy far, far away