Warning Signs

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Last night was the first night since the launch of Battle for Azeroth where I didn’t feel like I had a purpose in playing.  What I mean by that in large part is there was nothing readily achievable that I could be doing that would further the state of my gear.  This is a thing I go through with MMORPGs is that so long as I am making the numbers go higher I feel happy and filled with purpose, but once that elevator reaches the top floor I start flailing listlessly.  Having gone through this so many times in the past, this is the beginning warning sign of me starting the check out process.  Effectively at this point I need to find something to anchor me to the game and rapidly or I will drift away into the ether with the first shiny bauble that crosses my path.

Last week I was anchored with a constant feeling that I needed to be getting Mythics done so I could chase a fabled piece of 370 gear.  Before that on an almost daily basis I was swapping things out for items of better quality, which felt interesting and exciting.  As it stands now I have a few options each week to help me move that needle forward… and it feels horrible when they reward gold or artifact power instead of a piece of loot.  I’ve not done LFR for the week but thanks to Warfronts and the cavalcade of guaranteed loot every twenty minutes…  they have no shine this expansion because I have already upgraded every slot above the bare minimum level that drops there.

I got double artifact power off of the Warfronts world boss in Arathi basin, and gold off the World boss that opened up with the reset yesterday.  I am basically left with two options… find a time when I can raid, or dig in harder with alts.  We are trying to make Wednesday nights at 7 pm CST until 10-11 CST work but we are probably still short a handful of people in necessary roles.  Ashgar my traditional co-tank is still very much in the leveling process because his attention is split between lots of different games right now.  We could do higher and higher mythics to try and get gear but pulling those together has been a challenge.  I should have spent my time last night running Mythics to help gear up Morgull, but instead I sorta did a lot of nothing.

As far as alting goes….  I really want to unlock the Mag’har because I want to start a red shaman.  The only problem there is the faction grind feels horrible…  with no real way of making daily progress other than doing literally every single quest available on Kul’Tiras.  I did that last night, and was bored out of my mind the entire time because at this point…  I have done this several times without it feeling like I am making forward momentum at all.  The grind doesn’t feel good this expansion, and quite honestly….  the only time faction grinding DID feel good was during the era of faction based tabards that you could wear and gain faction for doing other activities.  At a minimum I could equip a tabard and queue for heroic after heroic giving me a constant drip of faction and a bunch of loot to show for it.

Ultimately I think I will pour more of my attention into the Warlock and see if I can stave off the desire to bounce until we can manage to pull together a raid group.

Borrowing Systems

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This mornings post is going to be a little weird.  Just getting that out up front.  Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the Azerite Item system and how lousy it generally feels, but there was something about it that seemed extremely familiar and it took me some time to place my finger on it.  Finally it dawned on me…  the system was in effect the same idea as the whole weapon trait system in Destiny/Destiny 2.  An item drops with a seemingly random set of traits (less random in Destiny 2) and you wind up having to evaluate whether or not the item is of sufficient light level, but also if the traits on it are worth keeping.

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This lead to a lot of generally lousy feeling situations where an item drops of high light level…  but has a crappy set of traits meaning that you won’t actually use the item.  This is what is also happening with the Azerite trait system, because not all of these traits are created equal and some are very much superior depending on your need.  For example when I was working on trying to tank as a warrior, there were three traits that were leaps and bounds better than anything else I could get on an item…  and they so greatly effected my survival that I found myself passing on upgrades that didn’t have them just so I could maintain the same build out.  Now I am not saying that the World of Warcraft devs borrowed this system from Destiny, because I have no way of knowing that.  However there are a bunch of other systems that I would love them to borrow from different games…  and now we get into the weird part of this mornings post as I talk about some of them.

Item Infusion

The problem I mentioned before with Destiny… specifically year one… was the passing on items that had higher ratings because they lacked reasonable item talents.  In Year two they put in a system to largely fix this, and it continues to be viable in Destiny 2 as well.  That system is item infusion which effectively takes the item you like and raises it to the level of the higher level item that you didn’t like…  by destroying it and consuming some crafting resources.  Now this system went through a bunch of iterations but the one that makes the most sense for World of Warcraft is the like items infusion construct, of if you want to raise the item level of a Chestpiece for example…  you need another donor Chestpiece to consume and raise the level of the first one.  The reason why I think this would work…  is because of the way that gear scales now.

Effectively you can get the same item at level 200 as you can at level 273 based on the order in which you do the zone content in Battle for Azeroth.  This tells me that these items are not hand crafted but instead made up of a mathematical formula based on the item level of a given item.  You can see this with World Quest gear where the same item scales from 285 to 340 depending on how progressed you are through your own gearing process.  Effectively that Item Level and the stats associated with it can fluctuate and the item still remains functional, which tells me that they could implement an infusion system without somehow functionally breaking the game.

What this would mean is… you could find a chest piece that you really liked the specific trait package of…  consume another chest piece that has a higher item level…  maybe throw in some materials like ore for a metal plate and even a little expulsom since that is accessible to anyone via the scrapping machine.  There would probably also bit a minor gold charge for using what I am assuming is either an NPC or a Machine to do the item level swap for you… but the end result is the item you like using at a new higher item level.  In the Reddit Q&A Ion mentioned that he wants players to use the item with the higher level …  but they will never reach a point of equity with these talents.  There will always be a better option for specific specs, and as a result a system like Item Infusion might be able to fill that much needed gap.

Bookrocks / Bad Luck Tokens

Another system that I would love World of Warcraft to steal is one that ultimately was borrowed from them in the first place.  In Final Fantasy XIV they have this concept of Tomestones or as we tend to refer to them as “Bookrocks”.  These are effectively a “Bad Luck Token” system that allows players to slowly and methodically work towards a goal regardless of how good of luck they happen to have in dungeons.  They work more or less like the Justice and Valor system used to, but in truth just simply works better.  As you do content you get bookrocks of different types depending on the tier of content that you are doing.  The number that drops also depends on the difficulty of content within that tier… so raid content drops a lot of them… and dungeon content drops significantly fewer.  There are various “roulettes” or random dungeon finder systems that reward bonus bookrocks each day and keep players constantly queueing for the content that you need them to queue for.

At any given time there are generally two types of book rocks available…  the bulk currency for items that are now super cheap and easy to pick up giving players a hand up in catching back up content wise.  Then there is the rare currency that has a weekly acquisition cap on it and often times requires multiple weeks worth of saving to add up to a new piece of gear.  When a new tier of content is released… they add a new rare bookrock and the previous rare offering becomes uncapped and takes the place of the previous bulk.  There is a system to cash in older bookrocks to turn them into whatever the new bulk is.  This allows someone to come back from a long absence and through running current content catch up rather quickly… or at least reach a level where they are viable for modern content.

One of the major problems with Battle for Azeroth is there just is no point to run most of the content.  Islands reward you a currency that only matters if you want to do more islands.  Normal dungeons and Heroic dungeons stop mattering the moment you figure out you can survive Mythic…  which takes much needed Tanks and Healers from the dungeon finder queue making it all the harder for the dps you are leveling or maybe a few months behind the curve to catch up and actually become viable.  Final Fantasy XIV is designed in a way so that it bribes players to do the right thing for the community…  which is to queue for content and do so often.  Since content now all scales…  I would set things up in a very specific way to mimic the sort of systems that Final Fantasy XIV has… and associate daily bonus “bad luck tokens” to them.  Here are some examples:

  • Leveling Content – a queue that includes all of the normal dungeons from Ragefire through Legion
  • BFA Normal – a queue that is all of the normal story dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
  • BFA Heroic – a queue that is any of the heroic dungeons from Battle for Azeroth
  • Islands Normal – a queue that is the normal islands to help folks who can’t yet do heroic.
  • Islands Heroic – a queue that is for the heroic islands
  • Warfronts – if your faction currently holds the Warfront… then a daily queue for that too

Effectively there should be two full sets of gear available to help fix the gaps players have in their itemization.  In the currently system I would say the bulk gear option should be in the neighborhood of 340 and they could borrow the way the catch up mechanics have worked in other expansion of having a vendor that sells you an item that turns into a piece of gear for your spec.  The rare currency would probably be something in the neighborhood of 360 to give you something aspirational for most players to work towards but also not being the best item you could possibly get in that slot.  As new content is released, the base level of these items trickles up each time to match what the new normal is, so as the soft cap for World Quest rewards increases so does this.  Combine this system with Infusion above and it allows you to keep the item that works for your spec but keep pushing its item level up to match the level of content you want to be doing.

Borrowing is Good

So often I feel like Blizzard wants to make the “Warcraft” answer to systems and often times creates purposefully inferior implementations.  Transmog for example is arguably worse than every single game that has a more detailed Wardrobe system.  However we deal with it because we were happy to get ANYTHING…  even though it is needlessly limiting.  Void Storage…  was a horrible system…  but at the time we were happy to get it because we desperately needed bank space.  It feels like each time a new system is implemented… they make it awesome… and then purposefully give it some negative impact.  So you can have unlimited pie…  but that pie is always going to be your least favorite… mincemeat.  A lot of the problems that Battle for Azeroth has…  have already been solved by other games.  I would love to see them start trying to apply those solutions to already solved problems to World of Warcraft, and give the players are more rich and usable experience as a result.

 

Progression Soft Cap

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I’ve reached the point in World of Warcraft where my progression options on the Demon Hunter are greatly limited.  At this point I am 349 item level and unfortunately there really aren’t that many reliable ways to bump that number up.  When Warfronts opened I was able to get a single 370 level item for completing that quest.  Similarly a lot of our weekend revolved around trying to complete the “do 4 mythics” quest because timing is a pain in the ass…  which also rewarded a 370 item.  Lastly there was the opportunity to get a 370 item from the Arathi Basis “fake pvp” boss encounter…  but instead I got double artifact power.  I cannot believe that I am even suggesting this…  but World of Warcraft needs something like the Powerful Engram system to give you weekly opportunities to see some forward movement if they want players to stay interested in the content without resorting to alting.

I am not actively raiding right now and that would probably help this feeling of bumping up against a cap.  Similarly if we could do Mythic +10 we probably wouldn’t be having this issue either.  But effectively myself, Grace and Tam have reached a soft cap that we cannot push past without raiding.  In Destiny 2 there were a handful of events that could be completed each week that gave the player “powerful rewards” which effectively meant an item that was guaranteed to be greater than their effective item level.  This meant that even though I had checked out of Destiny 2 effectively… I was still coming back each week to burn through these three or four systems to get something that felt like progression.  World of Warcraft is largely a “raid or die” system at this point with so much gated behind raiding that there isn’t much of an opportunity for forward momentum.  This however is always the problem…  because they effectively only have the one progression path instead of having multiple paths that all arise at the same goal of a geared player able to do lots of different activities.

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All of that said I am still loving Mythics when we can manage to get five players together at the same time, and I am loving the fact that it does not matter at all what item level the player is when we grab them and drag them into the content.  We grabbed Morgrull last night who was a fairly freshly dinged 120 and got him at least one piece of gear from Freehold.  It also feels good that we are slowly building out this team of players that are capable of doing stuff, giving us a lot more options for the future.  Last night I did not raid with Facepull because Sunday is still a bad day for me to do anything super serious on.  It is very hard for me to commit to being at the keyboard from 6:30pm to 10pm my time with a handful of 5 minute breaks.  Last night I was swapping laundry and alt tabbing back and forth between working on some stuff for today.  I got up and walked away from the screen at several points during the night, and raiding would have procluded that.

As such my hope is that our little gathering of cross server nonsense can eventually turn into a fledgling ten player raid group, that we can get something going on a night that isn’t personally horrible for me.  Something like Wednesday nights would be excellent, and it is making me wish that WoW raiding were 8 player based and not 10 player based because we probably could muster that size of group already.  However we keep adding new players into our gravity well and eventually that will be enough to make something like that happen.  I miss the era of non-guild based raiding and I sorta want to make it viable again.  Sure the whole not being able to trade items across servers is a giant pain in the ass…  but it should still be doable and would allow us to pull in a far greater array of people once we got something rolling.  Not all of my friends live on the same server and transfers are cost prohibitive when you are like me and have an army of alts…  so I want to figure out a way to make this work cross server.

Lastly I thought I would link the podcast from this weekend because it is relevant.  We talk about the life cycle of an MMO and what games do well and do horribly.  We talk about the onboarding of new players, and the revitalization of returning players…  and how many games don’t take them into account at all.  We also talk at length about the end game power creep and how awkward it feels to see item levels matter so freaking much.  The episode has nothing to do with Gorb other than the fact that we didn’t record the 15 minutes of us trying to explain what Gorb was before starting the show.  Gorb is that raisins and peanuts mixture…  no Gorb was a movie with Robin Williams from the 80s…  etc etc.  This is one of those shows that sort of happened accidentally…  since it was a combination of topics that had rolled over from other weeks.  However they aligned themselves with a certain synergy that made for an interesting discussion from a bunch of long time MMO burnouts.

Lastly as you can tell from the first photo I have begun working on my third character…  this time I decided to level my Warlock.  This is one of those marriage of convenience sort of things because sure I enjoy Warlocking…  but mostly this is my tailor/enchanter and I desperately need enchants because they are prodigiously expensive this expansion.  As such I am power leveling the character by crafting a lot of mail pieces and grinding them down for dust.  However I have reached that point where I can technically make weapon enchants…  but I don’t have access to the purple materials yet.  So time to buckle down and grind grind grind to 120 and start gearing her.  I wonder if I can name my void walker Gorb.

Mechanics are Hard

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Last night was a lot of fun… and once again expanded our sphere of influence for shenanigans.  We have not been doing mythics the last few nights because many of our regulars have not been available.  Tam for example is travelling this week, and Mor is being a fake nerd and actually socializing with other human beings in real life.  He somehow doubts his fake nerd status…  but Grace and I both assured him that the only acceptable interaction is over the internet.  So instead Grace and I both decided to step down our nerd status one peg… and communicate with other people online trying to fill the last few DPS slots we needed for a Mythic plus.

I have this aversion to pugging…  and what I mean by pugging is actually posting a group and filling with complete strangers.  Like someone might be a stranger to me, but if they are a friend of a friend of a friend… it somehow feels better.  Last night for example one of our regulars had a friend who was down to run stuff on his shadow priest.  However as yet another French Canadian friend…  I got the impression he was concerned about his English skills and didn’t want to hang on discord as a result.  I mean…  my English skills are not exactly legend but unfortunately I don’t have another language to fall back on.  I totally get it but it did make some of the interactions a little sluggish especially when we started having problems.

I pinged Guild and either no one was watching chat at that moment or they were uninterested.  Whatever the case I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and decided to ping twitter with the above message.  Thankfully twitter answered and my good friend Tart decided to join us in nonsense.  It was around or about this point that I realized…  Tart and I have never actually been on voice or run anything in game together.  It was a lot of fun and we had a set line up of Demon Hunter Tank (me), Disc Priest (grace), Shadow Priest (tart), Mage (widjack), Shadow Priest (friend of widjack).  We analyzed the Mythic+ keys we had available to us… and it was basically Underrot or Temple of Sethralis.  We thought we were choosing the easier of the two and went with the Temple…  we maybe should have gone the other way around.

We have a bad habit of doing things without actually reading the instruction.  Like I have absolutely winged trying to put together IKEA furniture…  and ultimately put something together almost right but not quite…  to the point where it would require me to disassemble everything to fix the problem.  This is why our buffet in the kitchen has no drawer pull.  Our Mythic experiences largely align with this methodology of “Just Do It”, which is fine for learning through failure but not exactly fine when you are being timed in doing so.  The core problem was…  neither myself or grace or wid had actually done Temple of Sethralis on Mythic anything… let alone the timed version.

Basically on every single boss we struggled with some thing that we now were supposed to do on Mythic that was not in place on Heroic…  the worst of these being the “Galvanize” boss.  However with time we figured it all out…  we were just painfully behind the curve of getting a key to upgrade.  However those lessons we learned won’t be forgotten any time soon because we paid for that education with a piece of our soul.  I mean…  if I am being honest…  reading up on an encounter or watching a fatboss video doesn’t really do much for me.  I am one of those people that needs to experience the fight before anything that I learn about said fight actually sticks and becomes permanent memory.

In truth it seems like most of our crew from last night was this way…  like Tart had run the mythic earlier in the week but didn’t really grok what we were supposed to be doing either.  However after last night I am certain that none of us will be forgetting anytime soon and for me at least that is progress.  I was super disappointed however that we did not get extra loot due to the Sign of the Warrior buff going on.  Normally speaking when you run a Mythic you get about 2 pieces of loot in the chest at the end, and with the Sign of the Warrior you are supposed to get an extra piece of loot, which should have been three.  I managed to upgrade my boots though by five item levels, and we got a pair of either cloth gloves or cloth bracers that no one seemed to be interested in.

Regardless of the loot though it was one hell of a fun night and super awesome to actually run something with Tart.  We now have her inducted into the RoboSquid Armada and hopefully she will answer the call for more peoples in the near future.

Weapons Dropped

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Last night did not exactly work as intended.  I had originally planned on getting home and running some Mythics with my friend Grace but that didn’t actually happen.  Then by the time a guild group asked for me to do Mythics with them… I was mostly in the wrong mindset to be successful.  I did however hook them up with a healer friend of mine that was able to make the group work.  Tonight however I need to get started on running my four Mythics required for a chest of raid loot.  In theory we can probably make a group happen even thought Tam is travelling and not available this week.  I am sure I can probably dip into the guild to pick up a dps if we wind up short, since that seems to be what we are always short on.

Instead of Mythical Nonsense…  I ground the Warfront.  Essentially as of yesterday I was short three pieces of gear from having everything 340 or better.  I needed a pair of gloves, a second weapon and a second trinket…  the last I am not entirely certain is an option for coming from Warfronts.  I have not found a great source of everything that can possibly drop from a warfront cache, but what I did find seemed to only indicate pieces of armor and weapons.  At first I was starting to think this was going to be a repeat of my past outings…  as I got two more belts and two more cloaks…  but before the evening was up I managed to also pick up a pair of gloves and a one-handed axe giving me that second weapon.  Now I am effectively down to just the trinket, which means I could run LFR and hope that I get lucky or pick up one of the inscription trinkets.

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This also means that I am largely without purpose when it comes to secondary activities on the Demon Hunter apart from farming faction to eventually push everything to Revered.  I am not contemplating starting to run Warfronts on the Warrior in hopes of maybe getting a reasonable sword and shield option.  I keep thinking at some point in the near future they will make Warrior tanking not feel horrible, and the couple of Warfronts I have run as DPS have been way less enjoyable than running them as a tank.  Its an option… but I am not entirely certain I am ready to dive right back into a gear grind.  I’ve abandoned any illusion of trying to maintain some sort of split mains scenario, and am largely just going to focus on the Demon Hunter for gearing purposes.

That means if I can make one of the Sunday raids… and I am not already locked for the week…  I will just be dpsing as Havoc Demon Hunter instead of trying to do Fury Warrior.  That doesn’t stop the fact that Sunday is a really bad time for me to be raiding so the likelihood that I am going to make many of them… is pretty limited.  It is our hope to get a RoboSquid Armada based raid going on Wednesday nights, which is a far better time for me to be committed to raiding.  Also if I am going to raid… I really want to be tanking since I am lacking whatever stuff makes people care about how they are doing on the meters.

If you are a NA Server Horde Player and are curious what the hell RoboSquid Armada is… check out this post for more details.  It is sort of a dream of mine to kick start non-guild based raiding as a “thing” that actually happens again.  If nothing else we have an in game Battle.NET social channel and a discord that are places we draw upon for building Mythic groups.

 

BFA: The Good and The Ugly

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At this point Battle For Azeroth has been out for just shy of a month and in that time I have leveled two characters to 120 and geared them.  I’ve shared little anecdotes as I leveled and did some of the content, but I have yet to really collect my thoughts about the expansion in one place.  This morning I am going to share some of these thoughts because some things are really working extremely well, and other things are not working at all.  This is by no means an objective list because the majority of the content on my blog is just me sharing my opinion with others.  Your list is probably going to look a little different if you were to create one.  However I feel like it is time for my to share my highs and lows.

What Works Well

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Warfronts

This is not something I thought I would be into at all but I am shockingly loving it.  Now some of that love will probably dissipate as the lure of 340 gear becomes less. I remember enjoying Alterac Valley back in Vanilla because it was about more than just fighting other players.  The Warfronts are essentially all of those elements that I enjoyed divorced from the player versus player interactions I didn’t enjoy. Also did I mention 340 gear?

Mythic+

I am way more into the experience of running Mythic Plus this expansion, in part because my normal circle of folks that I tend to game with… aka the folks loosely connected to AggroChat are also into doing them.  Also it feels like the gear is better this go around than it was the last time… because I got a 355 item from my Mythic 3 weekly chest, so numerically it seems to be scaling in a way that makes them worth it.

Kul’Tiras

Again I was not super sure how I would feel about the split faction islands concept but I really like roaming around on Kul’Tiras.  Once again this gives the feeling of PVP without actually being PVP since not playing on War mode means nobody gives a shit if I accidentally flag myself.  It gives me a whole new playground to roam around in after I have already reached level cap, and I am hoping that they give us more areas as the expansion drags on similar to how they expanded the game with the Broken Shore and Argus.

Dinosaurs and Pirates

I really love the horde content and the feeling of riding Dinosaurs and fighting Old Gods.  Everything about that is on point and makes me extremely happy. Similarly I love the whole Sea Witch and Pirate nonsense happening in Kul’Tiras.  Basically this is Ixalan the expansion and I am loving so much about it. The faction bullshit is still faction bullshit, but at least it is playing out in an interesting way most of the time.

Uldir

While I have not seen much of it, I am digging the whole Mesoamerican Titan thing going on with Uldir.  The two bosses I have seen have been fairly interesting, and I look forward to seeing the rest of the raid.  I think it is kind of shit though that they copped out and didn’t make it a tier set, and instead just made shared armor type sets.  This wasn’t cool in Trial of the Crusader and isn’t really cool now.

War Mode

I love War mode because it single handedly removed the worst players in World of Warcraft from my universe.  They simply do not exist any longer because they are off on their own island full, removed from my field of view.  Bravo for voting them off the island and making a more chill environment for me to run around in. As a result of this… the “enemy” players I encounter are often times helpful… and in turn I am regularly hopping in and helping them out as well.  It is a kinder and gentler Warcraft that I greatly approve of… now just drop the damned faction wall.

What Doesn’t Work

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Crafting

Crafting still feels awful.  Now I give them credit for splitting up crafting into a per expansion thing, because quite frankly that is the only reason why I am dabbling in crafting at all on my Demon Hunter.  However what feels completely fucking awful is the fact that the gear that is actually worth chasing is gated behind running fifteen mythic dungeons to achieve it. By the time I can craft it, it will no longer be worthwhile at all.  At a bare minimum there should have been a weekly quest to acquire a couple of the hydrocore items. Also there should have been a chance of any item over 340 that gets scrapped producing a Hydrocore. While this is less fucked up than Legion crafting was… it isn’t very far off the stupidity meter.

Weapon Drops

Every player I know is struggling to get decent weapons because they are just hard to come by.  I’ve run a silly number of Heroic Dungeons… several Mythics, killed a raid boss, and a slew of warfronts and have never seen a weapon drop in any of them.  I am having to survive entirely off drops from World Quests that seem to get rationed each week in an extremely limited quantity.  Now having written this…  I did get my first weapon drop of the expansion last night from a Warfront, and I will continue grinding that until I get another…  however that weapon came after a chest, legs, 3 pairs of bracers, a belt, another pair of bracers, another belt, a cloak…  and then finally a weapon.  I still feel like they have tuned this expansion drops for the era when we got freebie Artifact weapons.

War Campaign

What if you took the Garrison and the Order Hall but removed anything about it that made it enjoyable.  Then you would end up with the War Campaign that has a few interesting moments but largely feels forced and phoned in.  The missions you can run are boring and don’t really offer anything interesting apart from the occasional faction boosts.  The upgrades to your boat… are largely meaningless and are locked behind things I largely don’t care to be doing. It serves as a way for me to get to Kul’Tiras and nothing more, and all of the flavor that went into both the Garrison and Order Hall is just not there in any way that I care about.

Azerite Items/Heart of Azeroth

Much like the War Campaign this is a neutered version of the Artifact Weapon.  Everything that felt good or interesting has been diluted and spread out over a bunch of artificial bumps in the road where you get something…  but you don’t have an awful lot of choice about the thing you are getting. You get a 370 chest from Warfronts… well you are stuck with an arrangement of sub optimal talents on that piece of gear because it is not like you are going to luck into something else anytime soon.

There are so many ways this system could have worked better.  Maybe if each time you leveled up your Heart of Azeroth you got to choose which talent to learn, and then when you got a piece of gear you got to assign to the 2 or 3 slots available one of those talents you learned.  Then to go one step further… the assignments should be remembered like Talent picks and assigned to a specific spec so if you change your gear swaps Talent loadouts. As it is now… you feel like you have no real choice and have to largely roll with the items you get…  because once you have left 325 land you won’t have all that many options.

Islands

So at face value these are “fun enough” and involve running amok and killing tons of stuff with a group.  These work more or less like Pandaria scenarios… if they were completely divorced of having a purpose. As it stands I don’t get the point.  They are a cool tech that could have been interesting, but as it stands it is a boring and grindy activity that occasionally if you are really freaking lucky you might get a pet or a mount.  Your reward for running them is a purple currency called Dubloons that more or less doesn’t really have a purpose yet. As it stands the currency is used to buy a bunch of items that can only be used on Islands…  but this does nothing to help define the reason why you should give a fuck. As it stands you are forced to do enough to have done five different island layouts in order to move your also largely meaningless war table progress forward.  I can’t even call it a stick, because it isn’t really hard… but it is completely devoid of any carrot.

Whomping Witches

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Last night was a really good night.  My original intent was to grind Warfronts until my face fell off…  and that did not exactly happen.  I did however run two of them…  which sadly dropped exactly the same item… a pair of bracers that were five item levels lower than the ones I already wore.  Instead I allowed myself to get talked into mythical nonsense, at which point we ran an Atal’Dazar +2 because none of us had actually run it on mythic.  At first I thought we were not doing super well but in the end we managed to pick up time thanks to the fact that we now know a few shortcuts around the zone…  and finished the timer with time to spare upgrading our very first key and getting Tam and I the Keystone Initiate achievement.  My Demon Hunter was a third string character in Legion, and as such never set foot in a mythic, let alone a mythic+.

I managed to get a belt that was a minor upgrade…  which marks the first piece of loot that I have pulled from mythic+ so far.  Tam caused me to curse the fact that he has apparently stolen my luck and pulled a 340 weapon…  something I also so desperately need but in truth I would rather have that contribute to his dps as opposed to my aggro generation.  I did however manage to pick up a 330 weapon from a world quest before the end of the night so I at least saw movement.  The keystone from Atal’Dazar upgraded into a Waycrest Manor +3 at which point we decided to go ahead and give it an attempt.

The thinking being that if we could just struggle through the zone and get to the end… we would at least get slightly better gear from the weekly chest today.  Side note… I need to figure out where in the hell the weekly chest spawns.  I am guessing in the great seal area, but knowing the weird forced “I’m On A Boat” narrative, it is probably somewhere under deck near Gallywix.  So we set forth into Waycrest, which thankfully Grace had run on heroic earlier in the day so she more or less knew the appropriate path to take that day.  We had a few false starts but managed to nail the boss fights like we knew what we were doing, and came up a tragically five seconds short of getting the timer and upgrading the key further.  I think more than anything it proved to us that the keys were completely something reasonable that we should be shooting for.

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Tonight at this very moment…  the plan is to run whatever Emissary there happens to be for the day and dip my toes into LFR.  I think Grace and I have more or less made a pact to go in together as to minimize the frustration.  After that I figure we will evaluate what keys we all got and start the mythical madness over again from there.  I am shocked and surprised at how engaged Tam still seems to be with Mythics, because a part of me was certain he would bounce the moment he finished leveling his character.  He was asking us how high the mythics go… and in theory I believe they effectively keep scaling indefinitely.  Maybe this will be the expansion I finally see a Mythic +15.  Regardless in the mean time I am having a lot of fun and learning the zones better so I can pull more efficiently.  We are also slowly starting to re-learn when we should start using CC…  and given that I am a tank with a really damned solid CC… this is an interesting experience.

Directly into Fire

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This weekend was a lot of fun, and was a blend of Warfronts, Mythics, Heroics and at the very end dipping my toes into the raid with Facepull.  By the end of the weekend the Demon Hunter is 337 item level, and the Warrior still 332 since I have yet to do the Warfronts and get the 370 item.  Tonight is going to be me grinding away slavishly on Warfronts because thing I did not realize…  you get a 340 or better every single time you do them.  I thought I was just lucky in getting a 340 and a 370 for turning in the quest, but apparently that 340 is a reoccuring thing.  Based on what I am hearing there can be weapons and armor both that drop…  which given my track record with weapon drops in this expansion probably just means armor slots I already have better items in.

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Since Facepull is a very well established raid, it meant that I would be filling the very uncomfortable spot of DPS which is not really a thing I do well as evidenced by how bad my parses will ultimately be.  I’m a tank… I think like a tank and act like a tank and when you tell me to burn something I get a very confused look on my face.  However I was apparently not a bad enough impediment to keep us from downing Taloc after a handful of tries.  Of course I got nothing but crafting materials, because that is the way of the world.  It supposedly drops a really sweet two handed mace that would have been a nice dps upgrade for my warrior…  but that wasn’t going to happen because weapon drops don’t exist for me in this expansion.

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This is a lovely shot of me dead on the floor in the room of MOTHER which apparently is actually supposedly to be in all caps.  You know what Titan servitors like the most… burning and purging corruption.  MOTHER appears to really enjoy it, and the fight is all about trying to stop her from doing this thing while also not being purged yourself.  On this particular attempt Ary and I zigged when we should have zagged and got a wildly unexpected mace to the face.  Ary got a battle rez because he is a useful member of the team, I stayed on the floor because I was just barely keeping up above the tanks.  We made progress but also sorta went too long and lost progress as well, with our last handful of attempts being significantly worse than some of the ones in the middle.

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I feel like MOTHER is either a gear check issue, or we are just doing something not quite right during the process.  Since most of us were hovering around the 325 range I figure we probably hit a gear wall, which became a subject of much lamentation over discord.  All in all it was a quirky and enjoyable night, and I managed to die most spectacularly when I accidentally clicked on a Warlock portal and went zooming into a firey death pulling MOTHER in the process.  I had no clue what was going on and apparently I instinctively screamed “OH SHIT!” to which my wife freaked out trying to figure out what was wrong.

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The only negative of the experience is the fact that the Sunday time slot is really horrible for me.  Pretty much ANY weekend time slot is horrible, but especially Sunday night because that is generally when we finish up anything that needs to happen for the week.  I felt like an ass sitting there and raiding while my wife had to struggle with things I would have normally helped out with.  So there in lies the problem… I enjoyed myself as I generally have any time I have raided with Facepull…  but the timing is horrible and I am not likely going to make it every week… which means I stay in an under geared pupa state and am likely more trouble than it is worth?  I would like to get a raid going on a week night that is much easier for me to manage attending on a regular basis.  We will have to see how things shake out, but ultimately my hope is something workable can happen via RoboSquid Armada.  Being on the computer from 6:30 pm to 10 pm on a Sunday when I should be swapping loads of laundry and what not isn’t going to work for me as a regular thing sadly.

Apparently an Elf

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This morning I had a startling revelation.  I am not only maining Horde this expansion…  but I am also maining an Elf.  What in the living hell has happened to me as a human being to find myself in this state.  The Horde thing is a logical progression since I played mostly Alliance for well over a decade that it was high time to see how the other half lives.  The Elf thing…  I am completely clueless other than the fact that with Demon Hunters you literally have no other choices.  Blood Elf demon hunters look so much cooler than the Night Elf ones with their damned floppy hairy eared nonsense, so it was really a no-brainer than last expansion I gravitated more towards the Horde version of Belblight.

For anyone who has read this blog of any length of time will realize that in general I am pretty Anti-Elf as a whole.  There are however some exceptions…  I have always enjoyed a good Dark Elf in most of the games that have them.  Similarly I really dig the Bosmer because they are awesome and cannibals.  Orcs in the Elder Scrolls setting are technically fallen elves…  so I like them as well.  However High Elves in pretty much any form can fuck the hell off.  In Skyrim I used to take glee at going completely out of my way to kill Thalmor and the parts of the Aldmeri Dominion quest lines that really focused on High Elf matters made me get a little bloodlusty.

So for me to play a Blood Elf which is effectively a fallen High Elf…  is really sorta shocking.  I am going to basically lean on the fact that I have horns… and that it somehow makes it palatable.  After all I would probably be more than happy to play a Satyr, which has a similar relationship to a Night Elf.

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The other thing that I did last night was take on an Island Adventure thing…  which shockingly I had not actually done until last night.  They are kinda fun but also fairly grindy given it is just killing a lot of mobs for no real reward.  Grace claims that she got a mount out of there, and I got a brief flash of excitement when I saw something purple colored pop up in the auto loot window…  however they were unfortunately just doubloons the currency used to buy things associated with the island aventures.  In theory I need to try and get all three of the islands available this week since I need to do five different islands in order to move forward in the war effort thing that is effectively the same as what we were doing with our order halls.

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Lastly the spawn rates of certain things are still completely borked.  I did what I have been doing the last several weeks and logged in this morning to see if there was any loot on world quests that would be an upgrade.  Sure enough there was a quest out in Vol’dun for the Bloodwing Bonepicker offering a 330+ cloak which would be an upgrade over my 325 cloak.  While writing this blog post I have been watching my WoW window in the background and a larger and larger crowd has been gathering during this time… all the while the mob in question has not spawned in.  Unfortunately this seems to be one of many quests that are in slightly bugged states right now.  I wrote about the Azerite Mining quest a few days ago where the mobs simply don’t spawn in during reliable rates.  This seems to be maybe one of those cases, but I am largely going to give up now and head in to work.  My hope is maybe this will be “unbugged” by the time I get home tonight.

Zandalar Forever

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I want to start off this mornings post with a business note.  Yesterday I wrote about the RoboSquid Armada initiative that we have started, and there was a problem with the Battle.net social link.  For whatever reason the first one I generated didn’t seem to work for anyone, so I have since replaced it with one that is actually working.  We didn’t do a lot last night other than run the Sethrak Temple dungeon on heroic real quick to complete the world quest that awarded a weapon for us Demon Hunters.  That has been a weird point of contention this expansion, is that the look feels really off for whatever reason.  Weapons are far harder to get to drop than they probably should be which means that I have been running around using some jank for most of my mythic dungeon running.

In truth the whole loot drop experience feels weirdly limiting, and it is starting to cause some pretty negative behavior in the dungeon finder.  There are a number of times where we have been doing a heroic and see a player drop immediately after getting a piece of loot, since it is highly unlikely that you will walk away from any dungeon with more than one item.  This ends up feeling horrible, but in a way I absolutely get why they are doing it.  Especially as a dps your queue is insanely long, and the sooner you drop out and get in another queue… the sooner you get another piece of gear.  However for the players running the instance it feels like you are constantly adjusting to the revolving door of players.

At the beginning of the expansion we were able to bolster a little bit of in dungeon chatter with a simple “Hey folks!” as soon as I zone into the instance.  However lately that banter has turned to complete silence as we all sort of go through the motions required to get to the end of the dungeon.  Now for me personally most of the time when I am running a heroic I am running it with at least a handful of people I know, and as such we are often talking back and forth on some sort of voice.  However I keep trying to prod text chat and make comments when something odd happens, trying to draw players into actually having a conversation.  The loot grind however is in full force and everyone seems to be falling back into the gulf of silence most expansions turn into apart from the occasional person asking for something that just dropped.

I realized while running the heroic last night that I was way too out of it to run a mythic.  I was weirdly tired and additionally we were down a person from our normal group mix, which could have of course been remedied…  but was even more stacked against me running something.  Instead I focued on cleaning up some of the quests that I had not completed… and finally getting the Zandalar Forever achievement required to unlock King’s Rest.  When I dinged 120 on the Warrior I largely stopped questing in the zones entirely and started focusing almost entirely on dungeons and World Quests.  You have to realize… I am not really a quest motivated player and while I really enjoy a good story… it isn’t something that has to be there to make me enjoy myself.  I can spend countless hours in a game like Minecraft with no story and be perfectly happy.

As such I always seem to be behind on quests because if there is an option that is not running quests I will almost always choose it.  Each time a new expansion comes out in World of Warcraft, you see me deleting a long sequence of abandoned quests from the previous expansion.  I’ve already found myself with a stack of quests gathering here as well, and I really should get in the habit of taking an evening here or there to burn through them.  For example… I only ever completed the Nightbourne quests on one character, because why would I even bother with that mess a second time?  For other players that is the highlight of their experience… for me quests are an easy way to level so that I can start gearing up to do the more interesting things like dungeons and raids.

While I seem to be having decent luck on getting things to upgrade…  I am still seeking a couple good weapons and am annoyed that the best fist weapon I can craft is 300.  I am stockpiling my Hydrocores from Mythic runs in an attempt to maybe craft some upgrades, but I will need 15 per item crafted and that means a significant number more mythic runs that I have currently done.  We all have some keys for Mythic +2 and I am wondering if we are at a gear level where we can give that a shot soon.